December in California

I might have spent my early years on the East Coast, but I have lived in California for almost twice as long as when I lived in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Don’t get me wrong, I have very fond memories growing up in Newton, NJ and going to college in Lock Haven, PA, but the last time I was back east was 1991. I did go to Dayton this past Spring, so I did get close.

But I love the Western States and the West Coast the most. I’m also eternally greatful that my Father finally took that job at Lockheed in 1979 when he moved the family here.

Interestingly, I could have been born in Los Angeles. My Father, in  WWII, landed on the beach in Normandy on the third wave, fixed tanks and Jeep’s and ended up in the push to Stuttgart, where he was born.  When he came home from the war, he bought a Harley with dreams of heading for California. Kerouac was born The same year he was, so heading West was an  ambition for some in the Northeast at that time. Iam sure he would have ended up in LA, but after a serious motorcycle accident, stayed in NJ.

My Father was a machinist in the US Army, but that was only because he wasn’t allowed to join the Air Force – because he was born in Germany. Never mind that he immigrated when he was 4 years old. He did end up in the Aerospace business.

It’s a beautiful California Sunday morning, and it’s more like an East Coast Fall day. We are going on a nice 35 mile bike ride, and I’m musing about how I ended up here.

I feel blessed and very lucky to have landed in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Computer Science major out of college, and I am enjoying my career more than ever after all these years.

When I first moved here there were next to zero tech jobs in SF – they were all down in the real Silicon Valley, pretty much Santa Clara County. There weren’t even many tech jobs on the Peninsula yet.

Amazing how things have changed.

3Y0Z and 40M (My All Time Favorite Band!)

At 1046z, which is 2:46 AM PST, I am hearing a station in the Orkney Islands, Scotland Q5.

As much as I like the challenge of 160M, after I make DXCC on 160 and 9BDXCC, and after 3Y0Z, I will no doubt hang out mostly on 40M. This is because like no other band – not even 20M, 40M is by far the absolute most interesting and most consistent DX band throughout an entire solar cycle.

It is very conceivable that when 3Y0Z is on the air, that the conditions will be similar to what they are today. I continue to work ZS6CCY every night on the short path with a signal of at least S9, many nights 10 or 15 over.

The SSN is about what it was during VK0EK, and I did hear and work VK0EK on 40M easily. I also did work them on 20M – both SSB and CW, and 160 and 30M.

I’m actually glad that we pretty much have an almost blank sun, because at least on 40M, we should do well on the West Coast. I do need to also monitor 20M more, but I just like 40M – there are only a few hours during the Winter days when there isn’t some interesting DX to work.

The big concern are solar flares and other propagation disruptors. A few weeks back, all bands seemed crummy. Let’s hope that doesn’t repeat for 3Y0Z…..

I also have been listening to the Orkney Island station on my Inverted L – and its pretty close to the DXE DV-40-P array switched to the NE – or SP direction.


3Y0Z to the West Coast on 17 and 15M

There is no doubt that you better have your antenna game on on all bands from 160 – 20M if you are on the West Coast and if you need Bouvet – 3Y0Z. In the above I plot a 66′ ladder line fed doublet up 50′ vs. my Inverted L. At first glance, the Doublet (which happens to be an extended double zepp (edz) on 17M and “close” on 15M looks like the clear winner).

The opening will be open maybe an hour max – and while it is most intuitively obvious that the edz kicks ass, the opening will be during the Bouvet grey line:

An interesting thing is that 3Y0Z is in the same “radio path” as the VP8’s were if you look at the width of the grey line. This bodes well for the West Coast since the VP8’s were easy to work – although the predicted sunspot number will be half of what the VP8’s had.

It will be just after Bouvet’s sunset and it is their summer. So – maybe this isn’t so bad. And during the grey line, the angles seem to favor the high angles. This means I believe having an EDZ and my Inverted L up gives EACH a 50/50 chance. That is also because 3Y0Z will be tucked in just over a glacier – and where high angles will be preferred. What I am saying is that the EDZ – while in most instances does kick the Inverted L’s butt, this might be an epic exception.

HOWEVER, if you look at the EDZ patterns, you get a low and a high lobe, which means maybe the EDZ would kill the Inverted L – throwing an EDZ up in the trees is easy.

I will have both up – and use that 4th Inverted L switching position available for an EDZ on 17M. It is clear that you really better have something up on 17 and 15 – but if you have to choose, 17M for sure.

Since the EDZ for 17M is “close” to being a 40M dipole – this gives me three band possibilities – 40, 17 and 15M.

Better to have one too many antennas than not enough, right?


The KY6R Inverted L Switched Matching for All Bands

Schematic drawn by KY6R using Circuit Lab – an excellent web browser based tool.

I use the same relays as Array Solutions does in their gear:

Deltrol 20852-81 12v 35a DPDT – $13 at Galco

I went over the Rig Experts AA-30 SWR plot and found that on every band from 160-10M, one of three UNUN’s or 1:1 Curent Choke will keep the SPE Expert 1.3K amplifier happy. This means I wouldn’t need the Palstar AT2K – at least this works on paper. I just happen to have this control box in my junk box – where the RCS-4V remote switch burned up, but the Control Box can be re-purposed for this project:

Because it injected AC to control the remote switch – using the coax as the control line – I have to rework it a bit and probably remove a few parts or even cut some pads on the PC Board:

The rework . . . and here’s what the new (and simpler) circuit looks like:

Position 4 isn’t used – but could be used for another UNUN or Balun, maybe for a ladder line fed doublet that I might throw up in the trees – like maybe a 17M extended double zepp – pointed at 3Y0Z.

Array Solutions rates these relays at 5 KW- I’m not sure how they calculated that, but I have used these relays before on my Inverted V / Marconi switching, and since these re what Array Solutions uses in their Rat Packs for years with no issues, this will be a fun project to try.

I will have to come up with the voltage matrix. In short:

160, 40, 20, 15 DWN 1
80, 17 DWN 2
30,12,10 UP 3


The Ghost of Nixon Past . . .

Its downright Dickensian . . Karmaic Justice is about to be served up on an icy cold tray. But unlike Scrooge, or the Grinch, don’t expect Trump to grow a heart.

It is really amazing how close to what’s unraveling in the news today was nailed by Bill Maher and his crew. They deserve an Emmy or Pulitzer or whatever award they give TV shows. Its also amazing that Trump – with all his tweets pretty much gave it all away anyway – loose lips sink ships. His firing of Yates, Comey and Bharara was straight out of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”, “The Soprano’s” or “Dog Day Afternoon”. House of Cards is waaaay too sophisticated and intelligent. Its amazing how such pathological narcissism can become your own downfall – not only is all this Dickensian, its Shakespearean.

One thing I know for sure – people don’t lie if they have nothing to hide. They don’t fire people investigating them.

Ironically, besides all of the Russia related news that will now pour out – the real serious issue is that Trump cannot do the job – he is so out of his league and incompetent that its time for him to go. My father suffered from dementia before he passed, and I took care of his affairs and visited him several times a week. The strange tweets regurgitating old tweets from a year ago about the Birther thing and Access Hollywood mixed in with all kinds of new weird tweets this week just seem like what I experienced with my father but times 100.

I would not be surprised if the 25th Amendment will be invoked because there is no way the GOP will have a chance during the 2018 mid terms if they do nothing or stand by Trump. Now I’m wondering who else will be nailed – it seems like there will be many indicted now.  Its going to be flip city.

I actually think what will now be a torrent of facts and dirty details will cause the GOP to have a very, very bad 2018. Of course, maybe Trump is their “foil” – maybe he runs interference for them. That’s OK – they will pay dearly for letting treason and collusion stand. We saw the seed of that sown just last month. In some ways I say – leave these assholes to their own devices, but the dems better get their shit together, and better get some young and very powerful blood up front. Their 80+ year old leadership is looking way long in the tooth.

I expect all kinds of weird tricks and legal maneuvers and Twitter rants and threats to happen in response, but its already too late – irreparable damage has been done. Politically, this has been the worst year of my life and I truly worried that our democracy was toast – but now I am thankful that justice might finally prevail. It may take way more time than any of us can stand.

My prediction on this tax scam for the rich – I think there will be as much blow back from it on the repubs as there was against ACA for the dems. Round and round we go. I also do believe we will have a repeat of the Bush Years. 

After 2 years of getting a tax break, the GOP takes it all back and more. The idiots in this country will put Trump on the right hand if God, knocking Christ and the Holy Ghost out and the idiots will then wonder what happens in 2 or so years when the well runs completely dry.

Get ready for that!



Switched UN-UN’s for the Inverted-L

If it weren’t for 80M, I could continue to just use the Balun Designs 1:1 current choke at the base of my Inverted L. One way to make my Inverted L happy is to put a Vacuum Variable Capacitor in series to the vertical – and use the AT2K Tuner in the shack. Tune the capacitor remotely as I did the URAT.

The second option, which is perhaps easier is to switch in one UN-UN or another, and this is so I can use the antenna on 160 or 80 (schematic above).

The Balun Designs 1435t UN-UN is a 1:4 model and would step the 80M 7 ohms j27.4 up to 50 ohms.

The Balun Designs 2132u is a 2:1 UN-UN and would step the 194 ohms j213.4 on 160M down to 50 ohms.

I am going to try this. It might just turn out that all I would then need for 160 and 80M is the SPE 1.3K built in ATU – which has a pretty small range, but these UN-UN’s most likely would make the tuner happy. I would still need the AT2K if I wanted to use the Inverted L on say 30M or some other band.

Speaking of other bands – the 3Y0Z DXpedition will most likely be good into the West Coast on 17 and 15M, and while I am pretty sure I will get them on 40, 30 and 20, I might try them on 17 and 15 using the Inverted L.

The switching circuit you see above is approximate – I might even add two more relays to switch in a 1:1 current choke instead of the 2 UN-UNs only because then I would be able to cover pretty much any band from 160 – 10M.

I could wire the control voltage so that one “line” is a default switched in line and all others are closed. The natural default would be 160M. Then with basically a simple rotary switch – I could control the three different “chains”.

I could even use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi Zero W to control the relays via WiFi if I wanted to get fancy, but because I still have to run a control line for remote power, I will just hard wire it and control it with a rotary switch. The rotary switch simply sends the plus 12v line to activate each pair of relays – I think I will everything to be normally opened, and then when I switch to a position, it switches in the relay pair for each matching transformer. I like instant switching, so, maybe this would even mean I would no longer need the AT2K at all. I can easily test my assumptions and then use an old Ameritron RCS-4V switch box controller that I have in my junk box (where I burned up the remote relay board) that has a rotary switch and leds and just do a little re-wiring.

I’m going to try it and see – it will be a lot of fun.


Inverted L High Resolution Plot

I have not taken a new plot with my Rig Experts AA-30 since I changed the antenna from more of a traditional Inverted L to this “inverted fish hook” configuration, so I decided to set the range from 1700 – 15000 khz and see if its any different than the old configuration:

This the OLD plot – when the antenna was a standard Inverted L, and here is the new plot – this time just covering 160 – 20M:

There is a little difference, but not enough to make the antenna appear much different to the Palstar AT2K tuner in the shack – or to the 1:1 current choke at the base of the antenna.

I’m also going to send the plot to Bob at Balun Designs to see if maybe an UNUN might be a better choice than the 1:1 current choke. I doubt it will, but I thought I’d ask – since this is Bob’s expertise.

80M is the only problem band – and I’m thinking maybe I could use the 1:1 current choke on 160, 30 and other bands, but switch in a 1:2 UNUN for 80M.

I’ll update this post after Bob gets back to me. I highly recommend Balun Designs products – Bob is the nicest guy and builds superb quality products at a fair price.