Posts

Showing posts from May, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Today is Memorial Day--a time to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our nation.  Despite a full weekend of drag races and other holiday events that kept our radio station staff busy, I welcomed a return to the news room this morning. This time gave me a chance to grace my newscasts with some heartfelt thanks to veterans and their families for their service to this still great country.  Like many vets, I don't care to share war stories...some memories are best forgotten.  I was fortunate to return alive with most of my faculties intact.  Others were not so lucky.  The tie between my service and amateur radio goes back some 40 years or more when many of us stationed in remote, deservedly forgotten areas of the world kept in touch with our families through MARS stations.  Those were the days before e-mail, skype, iPhones, or any other high tech communications marvels.  I owe a debt of gratitude to those MARS operators who kept us sane in a world gone crazy.  Perhaps the b…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

There remain only a few hours until the busy Memorial Day weekend breaks on Hawaii Island shores.  For those of us at KKBG-FM and KHLO-AM, the next few days will busy and filled with remote broadcasts, outrigger canoe races, the Honokaa Western Days Rodeo, and the traditional drag races at the Hilo Drag Strip.  By the time our staff reaches Monday, all of us should be tired, talked out, and ready for a vocal cord transplant.  My weekend will be spent in the track tower announcing the pro-gas and ET bracket races and sending live updates back to the station.  Although the next few days will be intense, the time away from the newsroom will give me a break of sorts from the usual panic of world events.  For the briefest of moments all of us at the track will be only concerned with elapsed times and getting closest to our indices (pro-gas).  Radio plays a huge role in coordinating and facilitating the complicated series of events that make a smooth running race.  All key personal (tower, …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

With Memorial Day weekend fast upon us, activity in the news room will surely be hectic.  The radio station is tied up with a variety of remote broadcasts, including the traditional Memorial Day weekend drag races (I have the job of tower announcer) and the Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Races in Kailua-Kona.  Both of these events won't leave much time to chase down DX or to ragchew with the locals.  At least the racing calendar will keep the weekend full and will provide a break from the normal news cycle.  Some other station members will be working at the Honokaa weekend rodeo, so this weekend won't allow for any slack time.  If I can get home early on Sunday, I may try an hour or two of ham radio.

Presently, I'm in the process of redoing my "antenna farm" in the back yard.  Stringing radials for the 40-meter vertical has always been a compromise affair considering the small lot I call home.  This time around, I will return to the inverted "v" arrangem…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

In between a few jobs around the QTH over the weekend, I ran across an article in the eham.net website concerning the "Maxcomm Automatic Antenna Tuner".  The reviews of this product ranged from "0" to "5" depending on the experience of the amateur radio operator using the device.  I'm still amazed that anyone would use this product, which is just a 50-ohm resistor network and a torroid.  Back in the 1980s, the ARRL rejected the claims of the manufacturer because the tuner was just a dummy load.  Of course, the device protected the transmitter, since it presented a 50-ohm load to the transmitter.  I'm not saying the maxcomm won't give you a few contacts...even a dummy load with a wire attached can do that.  A few weeks ago I tried an experiment after I took down my Drake MN-4 ATU for some long-overdue cleaning.  I connected one end of a UHF "T" connector to my dummy load (Heath Cantenna) and the other end to my RG-6 coax going to 4:1 …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another week has passed and the world is still here.  I must admit to a morbid fascination with the current crop of "end time" proponents.  I usually get a few calls to the news room everytime someone believes he/she has the exact time our planet will disappear and the faithful will be repatriated to paradise.  This week produced a bumper crop of the merely curious and the deeply concerned.  I treat these stories like any other event that crosses the news desk.  Most of the predictions are based on faith and little else.  You either believe or you don't.  The world is facing some real problems, any one of which could ruin your day.  Take your pick--the Middle East, natural disasters of various kinds, errant asteroids, and even the hotly debated climate change theories.  From what I've seen, humanity, with its propensity for both genius and stupidity, is quite capable of doing itself in without the help of the divine.  These radio and television preachers are free to …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

As the news cycle comes to a close in the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM newsroom, my thoughts are turning to a relaxing drive home, a daily walk with the XYL (about 2-4 miles depending how ambitious both of us are), a good home cooked dinner, and some time with the trusty Swan 100-MX and my basic, but workable "antenna farm".  All of my rigs have been given the monthly cleaning and other necessary maintenance needed to keep them functional.  The older rigs are fun to use, but one must keep them maintained, since spare parts are getting scarce and expensive.  The antennas are a no-brainer, considering what I use to keep them up and running.  My biggest challenge is keeping one step ahead of Hawaii's salt air, vog, and heavy rains.  This trio can ruin a homebrew antenna is just a few weeks.  But thanks to co-ax seal, electrical tape, and some home-brew plastic enclosures, I manage to keep most of the moisture out.  Coax takes a real beating as well--not only from the elements but also f…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

With most of news assignments done for the day, I'll take a break and mentally organize my amateur radio projects for the remainder of the week.  For once, the news cycle has calmed a bit after the flurry of excitement over the involuntary demise of Osama bin Laden, the aftermath of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Northern Japan, and the massive flooding of our own midwest.  Never a dull moment in this business, and you take a break where you can.  Like many of us who call broadcasting our home away from home, a brief respite is welcome anytime.  Most of my shifts run 0400 to 1600 local time with additional time on Saturday and Sunday to pick up "loose ends" ( special programs, interviews, maintenance, and other unexpected events such as hard drive failures, computer repairs, and T1 problems).  Operations on a seismic-active island can often be challenging...nothing like a little shake, rattle, and roll to keep the juices flowing. 

I should have some spare hours this week…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Hopefully, blogger.com is back among the living.  I couldn't post anything over the past few hours during the maintainance procedure that apparently went crazy.  Such is life.  Nothing is certain but death and taxes--my rather poor paraphrase of Ben Franklin's sage advice.

The past few weeks have been a real media circus in the radio station news room, with all of the natural disasters on the U.S. mainland, the reported death of Al-Qaeda co-founder Osama bin Laden, and the beginnings of the 2012 General Elections.  On Hawaii Island, the weather was the hot topic of the day, with Kailua-Kona, Oahu, and Kauai getting super soaked over the past few days.  All of the rain was helpful, but it won't make much of a dent in the ongoing drought which has gripped the islands for two years.  Even with all of the tropical showers, Hilo is still only gettting about 60 percent of its normal precipitation.  The Kohala, Ka'u, and Kailua-Kona areas are hurting for lack of water.  Cattl…