Fun Summer Projects

Field Strength Meter

I was reminded yesterday how careful you have to be when it gets too hot or too cold outside. I spent all weekend outside for quite a few hours – and while I took many breaks in the shade and drank lots of ice water, I was in the mid day sun in the heat for quite some time. I was pretty tired yesterday at work – trying to recover from the weekend – but I am very, very pleased with the outcome of the UrbanBeam on the AB-577 tower. That was a big project and it feels great to get back to a better height antenna wise. In fact, while I loved my N6BT DXU-32, in retrospect, that was a giant antenna – and it proved how strong these AB-577’s are. Like the Collins Gold Dust Twins, they are an engineering marvel, actually. I do feel a lot safer with the UrbanBeam up top – its a pretty heavy antenna, but no where near as big and heavy as the DXU-32.

Playing with different keys – which led to an epiphany and new direction CW wise for me

I have more than just one Summer Project, and am very excited to get started:

  1. Get the Begali HST III online and plugged into the next project on this list
  2. Build the 3 input, 4 output key switch box – use it with 4 rigs
  3. Continue my W1AW Nightly 40M Code Practice copy using just my noggin
  4. Play guitar – its not radio – but there are tubes and a vintage amp involved!
  5. Continue my personal training at the gym. I have lost 4 pounds in the first 2 weeks
  6. Steampunk lamp – made with iron pipe fittings and vintage cord and a Bakelite plug and switch
  7. Finalize my inverted vee antenna – and take down the DX Engineering DV-40-P
  8. Start DX-ing using the QRP rigs
  9. Get the D-104 working with the KWS-1. That reminds me – finish fixing that brass tape problem that lowers and raises the “slug rack”
  10. Sell the remaining excess gear
  11. Fix the Rat Pack switch box problem – it seems like the shack control box has one flaky position
  12. Make a home brewed loop antenna – and possibly move the SW-3 to above the workbench shelf
  13. Make some circuits to give me excuses to continue my test equipment education – I had a blast trouble shooting the KWS-1 issue
  14. Figure out some new on the air “pursuit” – perhaps County Hunting – maybe QRP?
  15. Look into FT8, but only if its involves using a “special” transceiver – such as a QRP rig dedicated to the mode and hooked up to the laptop in the shack
  16. Create a presentation on the Gold Dust Twins for Pacificon
  17. Go through the exercises in the electronics books I have to learn more about electronic theory
  18. Get my under the house shop in order
  19. Continue my “re-reading” of some classics – after 1984 I think I will soften things up with maybe Patterson by William Carlos Willaims – my pediatrician (!!!!!!)

One thing that has fallen off the list is the remote tuner idea using the Collins 180S. Maybe some day – I will keep the two that I have because I do expect that hanging a wire antenna from the AB-577 opens up some new ideas an an antenna testing “platform” of sorts.

Work is super busy, but these days I love going to work and also love my weekends. I’ve been reminded in this past year how important it is to have balance – in fact, mixing things up a bit, trying new things and breaking up your routine is not tiring – its energizing. I do have a glimpse into why some say they are more busy in retirement than when they were at work – if you have the drive and some interests, there is a lot you can try and do.

And it all adds up to “re-creation” . . . .

Summer Solstice on its Way . . .

Summer Sun – and Fun

The Summer Solstice is just around the corner – I had a great (but hot) weekend, doing my first Summer Project. The tradition started when I would be worried about the “DX Doldrums” – and I wanted a way to keep myself engaged when lean DXing times hit.

URAT Summer Project from a few years back

Now a days, all of my time is spent “dinking around” with all kinds of fun little projects – some small electronic projects, to antennas to even re-arranging my shack. This past year I added in vintage radio.

Today the Bay Area heat up to record temperatures – the hottest day of the year

I think today’s record heat has me thinking about the Summer Solstice. The Winter and Summer Solstice’s seem to creep up every year – and then bingo – they are here. My big 2019 antenna project is now in the books – and I can’t wait to get the Begali HST III and also get the NorCal40A and Red Hot 40 on the air. My DXE vs. UrbanBeam tests are underway, and I have a small list of projects I want to do.

No Summer Doldrums here – ain’t got time for that.

Now – speaking of the turning of the seasons – maybe we will get lucky and 3Y0I will activate Bouvet in October – they seem ultra driven, and probably pumped up a little from their Conway Reef 3D2CR DXpedition – which was a big win. With a really small team – they reminded people that they are quite the formidable DX team.

Until then – I will be having fun puttering around.

DX Engineering DV-40-P vs. UrbanBeam

The UrbanBeam up 50′ on the AB-577

TEST #1 – VK/ZL – S5 on the DXE array and S7 on the UrbanBeam (rotatable dipole on 40M)

TEST #2 – JA – S3 on the DXE, S5 on the UrbanBeam

TEST #3 – Noise Level on clear frequency in 40M – S2 – 3 on both the DXE and UrbanBeam

TEST #4 – WB2REM – 7.163 DX Group – they are about the same. This is what I expected – that a dipole up at least 50′ would be the same as the DXE phased array. This really underscores how great the DXE DV-40-P system is – many hams cannot get a 40M dipole up 50′ or more – so phased vertical arrays can get you on the air as a competitive DXCC chaser and DXer. That’s a big deal.

TEST #6 – HL5FUA – S5 on DXE, S7 on UrbanBeam

TEST #7 – W1AW – S7 on DXE, S9 on UrbanBeam

TEST #8 – DF2BO – about the same on both – ESP, and the UrbanBam was pointed E – W, so not optimal direction wise

TEST #9 – EA6NB – about the same

I will look for EU and ZS stations to complete my tests. But so far, my expectations have been met. I like having the UrbanBeam up at 50′ – it now performs very well on 40 – 6M, and it allows me to have one antenna support. Even a makeshift 80M Inverted Vee hanging from the AB-577 gets me onto the nightly nets with ease – its no DX antenna, but that’s OK.

The EU and ZS tests will deal the deal – I will either leave the DXE up as a backup – or take it down. I’ve wanted a single antenna support for 13 years at this QTH, and now I think I am finally there. I don’t exactly know why I have wanted this – I suppose its simplicity – which is what the SteppIR UrbanBeam is all about.


UrbanBeam Up 50′ on AB-577

The UrbanBeam is up 50′ on the AB-577

The base of the AB-577 is secured as I had done with the N6BT DXU-32

Its great to have the AB-577 in the back yard again. This time I have the SteppIR UrbanBeam on it – and up 50′ – a much smaller antenna than the N6BT DXU-32 that I had up before.

I’ll be running A – B tests against my DXE DV-40P phased vertical array – to see how a low angle compares with the UrbanBeam’s 40M position.

Stay tuned. . .


80M Inverted Vee and AB-577

The New KY6R Antenna Farm

I will get the UrbanBeam up 50′ today, and will have an Inverted Vee for 75/80M hanging from the top. This is very much a “standard” ham radio antenna configuration – a yagi on top and then an inverted vee for the low bands. Its what all of my early ham radio mentors suggested when I got started. Having 20 – 10M in a yagi and using an Inverted Vee on all bands under 20M is not at all optimal for DXCC, but because the UrbanBeam covers 40 – 6M, using an inverted vee for what I will do is just fine.

I’ve wanted to have “one antenna support to rule them all” and today I will. I also will free up some badly needed rig shelf space – so I can get my NorCal40A and Red Hot 40 back on the air. I will also get my Begali HST III switch box built today. I think I will have 3 inputs and 4 outputs – so I can have one each type of key that I have (3) that can be used with each of my 4 rigs. The three keys will all be Begali keys – the “Blade”, “Intrepid” and HST III, and the rigs will be the IC-7300, NorCal40A, Red Hot 40 and Collins KWS-1.

I also hope to finish my shack lighting today – so far it looks great and I will now have a much more interesting place to play, build and recreate.

Postman REST API Development Environment Review

Postman API Development and Test Tool Logo

There is a company in San Francisco that makes one of my all time favorite browser based software development tools – Postman. Besides the coolest logo on the planet, their software is one of those products that has exactly everything you need to develop and test REST API’s, and no bloat or extraneous garbage – that plague so many other development tools.

The design and test page of the (AWESOME) Postman API development tool

Postman is like having an awesome Oscilloscope for REST API development – you can get “readings” on your interface and then automatically document and share and post them.

The API Doc Generator in Postman – courtesy Postman 

I’m building the coolest new app at LendUp for CCPA (and other regulatory Compliance support), and we have even discussed Open Sourcing it. On January 1, 2020, this new regulation will affect any company that has California customers data and is over a certain size – (in company size and revenue) – but it will affect all of the bigger players – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc. Fines can amount to up to 4% of a companies revenue – which can be substantial. While some will not like such regulation – its a new wave that is spreading like wildfire through the IT sector – and has been brought on by all of the data breaches that have the potential to ruin peoples lives financially. In Europe they have had GDPR for a year – so they were the first to get these new “Data Rights” for customers. I think its long overdue – I had phony accounts opened up at my (former) bank – which I left promptly and will never go back to because of that. I also buried my social media accounts because I no longer feel safe using their products (just read the news – every other day you read about data breaches and issues).

This book is confirming that what I am building will support CCPA Regulatory Compliance

I’ve had a great 2+ years learning, building and evolving my REST API and Microservice architecture skills – and these coincide with one of the most important “hot topics” in IT that I have seen in many years. Postman makes developing these REST API based Microservices a real joy.


AB-577 and UrbanBeam Weekend

The AB-577 is on its base and will be ready tomorrow to launch the UrbanBeam

It was a very busy day, but I was able to squeeze in some time for taking down the US Towers ALM-31 and replace it with the AB-577 “launcher” base.

The SteppIR UrbanBeam is “relaxing” on the deck arbor – before it goes back up – and higher

The UrbanBeam has been up just over a year, and its worked great. I haven’t used it as much as I had expected – but I certainly will once I get it up to 50′ – because it will open up new paths on 40 and 30M.

I’m not going to use the Yaesu G450 rotator because I only set the antenna on a direction for quite a while – either a DXpedition or just general QSO’s. I took down the 80M vertical today – so tomorrow, when I have my big antenna day – I will put up an interesting 80M wire antenna hanging down from the top of the AB-577. Excluding the rotator lets me use a 10′ double walled mast above the 40′ level.

I was hoping to find a couple extra mast extension elements – but they are as hard as hens teeth to find – so I will add 10′ from a stout SpiderBeam aluminum mast that I have – and so I will get my 50′ no problem. I’ll spray it with black Plastidip – so it will be “invisible” along with the UrbanBeam – hi hi.

Tomorrow will be a fun antenna day – I always look forward to such days.