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Topics - RadioRay

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 7
Technical Corner / Altoid Tin Receiver
« on: October 05, 2014, 11:04:23 PM »
Lately I have had the itch for building radios in little tins.  The Altoids is the QRP standard tin, so I thought that I'd begin there with the 20 meter RockMite: love it.  I found a cool little regenerative receiver for the 40 meter band.  Old men like me remember 'regen' receivers as being a little bit 'fiddly' but VERY good performers with minimal parts count.  Well, this is no different.  It's two transistors and a smattering of support parts, all operating from a 9 volt battery.  Naturally I put it into an Altoids tin. I've attached a picture.

Does it work?  Well, I copied Gil tonight using this receiver and he is over 800 miles away and was not strong in the big rig, so I was QUITE happy that he was quite readable using the little regen.  No filters in this little beastie, so your 'grey matter must do the filtering for you, like the old days.

The kit is called the 'Sawdust' receiver, available from:

They also have a QRP transceiver called the 'Splinter', 650 mWatt for 40 meters with freetuning receiver and VXO to pull the transmit crystal frequency a few KHz. It even comes with a key!  You have NO idea how tempted I am to build one.

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._

Morse Code / QRPp // HF Morse at LESS Than One Watt
« on: September 17, 2014, 08:10:52 AM »
I was just reading through an older thread where Gil and I were in our regular (uh, semi-regular...) sked and for fun when I asked him to reduce power to one Watt, he instead turned it down all the way to his lowest setting of 100 milliWatts (1/10th of one Watt).  We continued the conversation.  Weak - yes, but quite copyable in Morse code at 100 milliWatts, or WAS it?  I was JUST re-reading that posting when my Ethiopian Harrar espresso charged engineer brain caught something I had glossed over before: Gil's feed line to the 1/2 wave wire antenna was (still is???) 50 feet of RG-178 coax.  A quick look at the spec sheet says that at that frequency, there is a loss of roughly 3dB in 50 feet of BRAND NEW RG-178 coax: reducing his power into the antenna tuning unit by HALF.  So, in actuality, he was radiating at BEST 50 milliWatts.  Yes, 1/20th of a Watt for well over 800 miles of communication. 

A legal CB radio can emit 100 times more power (5 Watts) than Gil was that day ( 50 milliWatts erp).

THAT - is something to think about. A quiet location, wire antenna, low noise receiver with good filters are all things which make this possible. We are using home made kit radios - at best.  5 Watts CW into a good antenna is usually more than enough to communicate reliably, unless your receiving station is in a noisy RF location - like many cities are.  Even then, there are phasing noise cancellation gadgets that go into your antenna line before the rig which make a HUGE difference!  This is not a filter for the noise, instead it nulls the noise before it reaches your receiver. I have one that I used when the landlord's daughter was dating some metro-sexual who rode an electric mini-motorcycle and put a battery charger at her house.  That cheap charger generated more electrical interference than an entire Chinese army electronic warfare battalion could muster. My noise cancellation device allowed me to carefully NULL most of the hash generated by his battery charger. Her parents should have eliminated him, but that is another story.

Some fun links:   Splinter 250 mW Transceiver  40 mW using Soviet mini-tubes!

More Code: It's a survival skill.

de RadioRay ..._  ._

General Discussion / QRP: Low Power Radio and Why 'Less Is More'.
« on: September 12, 2014, 10:31:33 PM »
Whilst roaming the web -during this CME- I came across this fellows website and it's really a delightful read about QRP, low power and the FUN that it brings to Ham Radio.  Don't expect these views to the force fed to us by the glossy magazine, operating on an advertising budget: they'd be out of business.

72 de RadioRay ..._  ._

I am certain that we've all seen the $14 QRP "FROG" transceivers on E-Bay.  The detailed description, evidently translated directly from Chinese to English, by someone who spoke neither language - probably a computer does not inspire confidence.

"3, the changing structure of isolating switch, eliminate launch receiving "kaka... "

Look, I've made it a lifetime practice to never put 'kaka' in my ears, but do we REALLY feel good about transceiver descriptions like this?    I'm still tempted to buy one, just to play with it, but I'll be certain to wear some sort of protection the first few times.

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Summits On The Air (SOTA)
« on: September 08, 2014, 06:20:38 PM »
I am certain that anyone who reads my postings and those of Gil, know that we despise contests, viewing all contests somewhere between head lice and almost as low as politicians on the "YUK!" scale.


However, that does not mean that I feel the same way about all 'organized activity' on the ham bands. Of all the activities out there in ham, nothing is more enjoyable to me than operating out in the woods, preferably from a mountain top; and I did this for decades.  Unfortunately, age and injuries prevent me from being out there now, but I spent a LOT of time operating tiny CW rigs - usually home made - in very remote locations. So, what brings this up? 

Less than an hour ago I was talking with a friend who I've been helping with their CW (Morse code on HF radio). After our contact, I was tuning around and heard all the usual stations booming in from Europe.  Nice, but mostly the silly (UR 599 TU) kind of "contacts" not conversations. Then a little weaker I hear CQ CQ CQ SOTA DE S57XX/p  (This is a station on a mountain top, operating portable calling.) As it turns out, it's a club station in Slovenia that specializes in SOTA operation.  I called and we chatted for a few minutes before he shut down for the night. Here wasa  fellow ham, operating a few Watts 'QRP' possibly with a home made radio, definitely from a mountain top, and having carried his equipment a specified distance or more.  THAT is the type of person I really enjoy talking with via radio.

Here is a link to the main SOTA site:

Check-out the posting about the 174 mW (yes - milli-Watt!) contacts.

and here is a blog of one fellow using a tiny RockMite transceiver:

Another organization which is for outdoor, backpack radio aficionados, is RaDAR. RaDAR not only has you pack the radio gear in to a remote site (though not focusing on mountain tops) the cool thing about them is that they REQUIRE the operator to pack-up and move the station a specified distance before they can set-up again!  This encourages TRULY "portable" and manpack radio operation.   

Here is a link to just one RaDAR site:

In a REAL communications emergency, these hams will be RIGHT at home.  Both SOTA and RaDAR eliminate all 'legal' cheating of pre-positioned antennas, generators, gas cans, refrigerators, trailers , parked behind the Piggly-Wiggly as practiced in the BIG name 'field' operations.

I may just serve as a ground station for these SOTA and RaDAR ops, when I find more about them.

73 de RadioRay ..._   ._

Technical Corner / Running 'Barefoot' ?
« on: August 27, 2014, 10:09:08 PM »
Well, so is THIS fellow and I think that he is standing his ground well. His feet are planted firmly on the ground. He's not a heel, but he is an arch ham radio operator...  OK - you get the picture.  Follow the link.

I like the Dutch - great sense of humor.

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Technical Corner / CW Audio Filter Kit
« on: August 16, 2014, 12:06:19 AM »
I've been FINALLY begun having fun building low end, receivers and projects, after having a million-and-one other things on my plate.  Filtering on some of these receivers is either none-at-all, like the RockMite or very marginal.  So, I decided to build the NEScaf - switched capacitor audio filter kit from the New England QRP Club.  It's center frequency is normally peaked at 600hz, when the detent pot is centered, allowing a wide swing of center frequency, in case the other station does not know how to zero beat your signal, or you want to use the filter to slew through a pile of stations.  I also has a pot for bandwidth, which goes from unfiltered, down to a very narrow setting - which I cannot remember.  Please see the link below.

I fit it all into an Altoids tin (Wintergreen - blue) along with a 9 volt battery and tried it out on just about everything in the house.  In sort: it works!  This really works well.  You just run a patch cord (3.5 mm stereo on each end) from the audio out of your receiver to the filter and I like to use earbuds/phones when copying CW. The controls are bandwidth & center frequency (there is an internal trim pot to set audio gain/volume) and you use the receiver volume control/AF gain for your volume control as per normal. I found that using this set-up GREATLY improves a general coverage 'plastic' shortwave radio when listening to CW. You suddenly have a narrow CW filter, at least an audio filter. Even on my 2 transistor , regenerative 40m band receiver, this filter turned it into a MUCH more usable receiver. 

I would highly recommend this kit. Even for those rigs with some filtering, adding an audio filter after good IF filtering is usually quite helpful.

de RadioRay ..._  ._

This fellow decided that if he had to get-out-of-Dodge, that he wanted at least one HF Morse transceiver with him. Here is a link to a light hearted, but well though-out HF radio package, tested in the field with the boys in uniform [not the Army, not DHS - a much more elite group: Boy Scouts of America].  He really did a fine job.

This has me thinking of repackaging my RockMite....

>de RadioRay ..._  ._

Morse Code / URL With Some COOL (often cheep) Home Made Morse Keys
« on: August 01, 2014, 01:23:51 PM »
During one of my trips around the web, I came across this:

Click on the snap shots for more detail.  If you've ever said: "I can't afford a key, have another look."

de RadioRay ..._  ._

General Discussion / Prepping for Hurricane
« on: July 01, 2014, 10:56:55 PM »
It's been years since we've had high hurricane activity, but it looks like a tropical storm is on it's way up the coast and once over the Gulf Stream it's supposed to ramp up to hurricane status and then clip us here in coastal Virginia.  If all goes well it will track further out to sea and we can just get the lawn watered (note to self , put down grass seed immediately after the storms, while the ground is saturated...) However, hurricanes will be hurricanes and 'they' really don't know it's precise course.

So, I'm kitting-up the cars in case one or both of us are trapped away from home, evac box for the house, in case we need to leave here, CASH, shelter, water/food fire(power) and my 'Up-Armored KX1 QRP CW transceiver and other goodies to keep things charged. It's a good exercise for us and hopefully nothing else comes of it.

Out here in farm country, it's the RIOTING afterward I 'm most concerned about!

>de RadioRay ..._  ._

OK -

This being the tactical section, here is a site I found where the question came-up about 'how much "gun" do you need' to penetrate windshields, car doors and etc? My answer for everything is an air strike, but since I'm a little lite on authority to call one in right now, let's see in this video what is available for Joe citizen and the results on a big, heavy Buick.  I haven't seen shooting like that, since my ex-wife and I met at the marriage councilor!

////Bet it would have worked BETTER if I had not formatted it as an image file...///

Now if I can just find the .50 Barret Lite 50 versus running lawnmower clip!

>RadiRay ..._  ._

General Discussion / GPS Degradation During X Class Solar Flare
« on: June 14, 2014, 12:58:20 PM »
I was on a road trip yesterday and on the way home my GPS was having SERIOUS problems obtaining my position. The location and direction of travel indicated was shifting and sometimes even reversing.  It was seriously impeding using the turn by turn directions even on a large divided highway.  It occasionally even showed me as in the opposite lane of travel and instructed me to 'turn around when possible'.  Yeah - I guess so! Naturally, my first question was whether this was a precursor to war and/or a hostile act, but then I remember the cluster of X-class solar flares.  We DEPEND too much as a society on our smart phones/GPS and etc.

QUESTION: do you have paper maps with you, a compass and know how to use them?  When I lives in the Rockies I USED to always keep a topographic map book of my State and less detailed maps of surrounding States , a three day kit and bug-out ruck . . .   used to . . . Time for me to get another map book {DONE} and to keep it in my car, and put together a lite version of the three day kit, emergency water (and rum) and a bit of food. 

Comfort breeds complacency.

>RadioRay  ..._  ._

Morse Code / Sometimes Simple is Better
« on: June 12, 2014, 12:15:41 AM »
During a time when i had to focus all finances on my family - as is just the right thing to do- it left me with little to get on the air with.  Some haywired radio gear, which would never sell on E-bay is what was left.  So - haywiring I did and got it working fairly well. QRP gear from kits and a little home brew.  It worked and it was FUN!  As money loosened a little bit, I was able to build an amplifier so that friends in RF noisy cities could hear me better.  I usually hear them 'weak readable' because of the low noise here. That was fun - occasionally exasperating as I slowly made the amplifier more stable, but fun none the less.   Eventually money was close to normal again and I bought an IC-7200 .  It is excellent, I can do digital modes, it's a great shortwave receiver and etc.  You know what - I really miss the simpler gear and am tempted to return to my haywired station, and use the Big Rig money for something else.

Odd - eh?

Anyone else with this same mental problem, or is it only ME?    ;)


The Famous Goat Hiker Ham from Colorado has a sneek preview of the new 4 band CW/ssb  transceiver from LNR Precision.

It's brief and not technical, but good to see it.

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Morse Code / Morse Below One Watt -
« on: February 09, 2014, 12:10:18 PM »
There are those who telly ou that you MUST run 100 Watts or more - a kilowatt being essential for any serious/reliable radio station.  Then there are those who focus on antennas , quiet receivers and filters. Gil and I were chattering away on the radio, him with his 12 Watts and me with my 50'ish, testing my home brew amp.  I live in a rural, very low electrical noise area, so I can hear almost anything on the air.  Just for fun, Gil dropped hi power to 100 milliWatts (1/10th of a Watt). He was very weak but readable at 1/10th of a Watt! He increased to half Watt and it was quite usable.  At three Watts he was beginning to be considered strong and by 12 Watts he was s-8.  Wes Heywood, probably 'The Father' of wilderness QRP operations, did a lot of research and with the batteries of his day, 1/2 Watt - usually on 40 meter CW - was found to be quite reliable, assuming proper time of day, per distance was planned in advance.

This is no magic act.  Assuming an efficient antenna , it's just a matter of right time of day and band. Gil has a 1/2 wave , end fed wire and I have an 80 meter dipole - at 90 feet.  Of course, last year I was using a wire only 20 feet to the top, so for "only" a little over 800 miles, it's not that big of a deal.

The Point?  Cw is extremely efficient; the math shows a system gain for CW over voice of roughly 13-18 dB, depending upon who's numbers you are using. So, for the same reliability of transfer of intelligence you would need either 100 Watts SSB voice or 5 Watts CW.  I know personally which is easier to recharge in the field.  I have worked low power voice before, with my old PRC-74B manpack and with the little FT-817 and long ago with the 2 Watt Argonaut 505. It can be done.  However, I would STRONGLY encourage prepper hams to take-up CW.  You will not be disappointed.

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._


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