Radio Propagation : Real Magic

A Book of Real Magic

It’s hard to find real “magic” left in this world, but whenever I want a sense of awe, I re-read at least part of this densely packed 100 page book.

Ian Poole uses exactly the right diagrams to go along with very well written sentences and paragraphs that don’t over burdon you, the reader, but also don’t gloss over the subject like many Ham Radio books do.

This is a physics book for sure, but it speaks in terms of the physical science with only a little math. Most physics books are the other way around, and for everyday practical enthusiasts, the text and diagram approach is far more useful than the math.

The Ian Poole book is easily in the Top 3 of my Ham Radio Reading list.

CE2LR: Dual Diversity on 20M

Dual Diversity – KY6R Big Mag Loops (Left – low to the ground), and the UrbanBeam – (Right)

Its been fun to see that the KY6R Big Mag Loops – phased through the DX Engineering NCC-2 are holding their own above the AM BCB and 160 and 80M – which they have been stellar at.

Testing on 40M and now 20M has proven that the loops are very worthy in the KY6R DX “Toolbox”:

This recording is using dual diversity – with the Loops and the UrbanBeam. In stereo, I hope you can hear how the signal might QSB a bit – but almost as soon as it seems to fade – the other antenna picks up some signal. The effect – besides a cool “ping – ponging” between headphone “cans” is that the signal always remains intelligible. The switch in phase is fast enough that its very rare that even one character in CW is dropped out.

This is a big deal because I wanted to have the best dual diversity setup I can – and I now know I do from the AM BCB – through 20M.


Next (Receive) Antenna Experiment – Coming Right Up!

I am going to set up the NCC-1 with two short whip antennas (I have so much extra aluminum its crazy – I wish I could find someone to take it away).

Anyway, I will get another BNC A-B box and a couple 50′ lengths of flooded RG6 and so an A-B test between the NCC-2 and the KY6R Big Mag Loops and two short whips and the NCC-1.

Now that I am sequestered at home – I will have the time I need to do this.


40M W1AW QST Test

KY6R Big Mag Loops 

40M is in pretty good shape tonight – so here is a recording of W1AW on 7.047.5 and in stereo – with the UrbanBeam and KY6R Phased Big Mag Loops in stereo diversity:

and here is the Mag Loop where I switch between the UrbanBeam (which is about S9) and the Mag Loops – which are about 20 over S9:

I hope you can hear the difference – bottom line, the KY6R Big Mag Loops are great on 40M . . . .

Life During the Pandemic

My “Covid-19” Gym

Last Friday I pulled my old Cannondale road bike up from the basement and fixed it up for road riding. My commute bike is great for going to and from BART, but I have been wanting to extend my gym workouts with longer road rides. The “shelter in place” is the perfect excuse to do so – and when I fixed this bike back up, it was before Governor Newsom and local authorities sounded the “shelter in place” alarm.

My “Covid-19” Workspace – my Ham Radio Shack

I can do everything at home that I do at work – and the only thing I am not doing now is going to BART and work or the gym – which are the only places I go to where I could be exposed to the virus. Since Kat and I are home bodies who ride our bikes on weekends – and me to work every day, life is not all that different. I am also thankful that our California representatives took action and did something to help us citizens avoid the virus as much as we can.

Today, Kat and I went on a really nice ride around Lamorinda (The “Lamorinda Loop”), and I saw so many people walking on the Lafayette – Moraga Trail – which is an old rails to trails trail – and people looked very happy to be out and about. I am sure we passed several people – and their kids who were as thankful as we were for the 60 degree temperature, sunshine and beautiful trail with its meandering Las Trampas Creek and even a waterfall along the way. I know for a fact some might have just discovered this gem for the first time – so that was cool.

The ride on all of the Orinda, Lafayette and Moraga roads was exceptionally lite – so it was even better than going to the gym, actually. However – when the gym opens back up – I will only use it for weight lifting. My cardio now will switch to what I used to do every day – years ago – get my fat ass on my bike at least 5 days a week.

Of course, eating well and exercising regularly go hand in hand to building your immune system so you can fight these nasty viruses.

Life goes on just fine . . .

Vernal Equinox Has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung – and Radio Conditions Might Get Interesting

When I was OCD about the ARRL DXCC program, Winter was my favorite time of year for trying to work ATNO’s, but there was always big and fun surprises during the Autumnal and Vernal Equinoxes. Today is an early Vernal Equinox, and here is a very interesting article regarding this:

My Geochron 4K large screen map looks awesome as always – it is easily one of the best ham radio related purchases – and has transformed my ham radio shack as much or more than any other “occupant” in my shack:

The KY6R Ham Shack – with awesome Geochron 4K wall map / clock

For now – this is also my home office, and I’m liking this so much – and am more productive working from home that I think I might start WFH every Friday – after this “shelter in place” order is over. I still love the interaction with other humanoids – and love my gym, so I doubt I’d go completely WFH – but maybe once a week could be a nice change.

For the last 3 days I have been quite concerned – the bad chest cold that I had that started on December 22 – and lasted through the first week of February seemed like it was going to return. But my body has fought it off. It was like a lighter version of what I had before – and so while its impossible to know what it was – it still intrigues me that it could have been Covid-19. On that note – it pisses me off that the news reports that Coronavirus is up 40% in the last 24 hours. That is downright irresponsible – as bad as Trump saying that “We have it contained”. Testing in the US really has only just started – so of course it looks like a big spike. Then there are countless people who have had no symptoms and who never have or will get tested. As a Data Architect, I learned early on – that all of this “Big Data” and “Data Science” work in the world is based on very poor quality data. I hate to say it – but I think Data Science has been way over emphasized and relied on. Garbage in, Garbage out.

Today I am going to start my new “gym” – getting back into riding my bike more often with longer rides. I’ll still commute to and from BART when we are out of the woods with this Pandemic, and believe within a couple months we will past the worst part. I do think the idea to “flatten the curve” is the responsible thing to do – and is not too much to ask of everyone.

We are all in this together, and we will get through it.



Pandemic Silver Linings

El Nino Does a Dramatic Reading of Bukowski’s “Play the Piano Until Your Fingers Bleed”

OK – now we are “sheltering in place”, and work is still going great – I’m very lucky to be in tech – where I spend my days in front of a laptop and a couple of monitors. In fact, one “silver lining” is that people at work are actually communicating more – and better now that we are all home. My boss and I agree that its a way for people to have human contact, and so its great to see one bright side to this pandemic.

My first mandolin – which I have fallen in love with

I have been teaching myself how to play mandolin, and between that and my guitar, I now have more time to play. Previously I only had the weekends where I had enough time, but now I can take a break and use the time I would have been commuting to play.

My commuter bike is now my gym

My gym is closed, but ironically, I have felt the need to start riding my bike longer rides at least 3 times a week – which means I’ll be stepping up my exercise.

Now I have the time to do this.

I’ve been somewhat bewildered, and yes, angry about the Pandemic – mostly because the situation was made worse than it should be – but I don’t harbor anger very long – I usually figure out a way to (as the very funny Monte Python song goes) “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”: