AB-577 Guying

I was pleased to see that my guying scheme matches the Army’s documentation

I have 4 top sections, then a second set of guys, and if I add the last 2 sections – I will add the third set of guys 4 sections up from the bottom. I’ve been watching it in the wind this week – and it looks great. I’m in no hurry – I think it will be safe to add the last two sections after some more monitoring.



Summer is Half Over: Make Hay While the Sun Shines!

Its time to get those antenna projects done before Autumn and Winter

This summer I squeezed in replacing my US Towers ALM-31 with an AB-577 mast – and even was able to purchase 4 extension tubes. I spent all last weekend re-guying the UrbanBeam on top of that mast – and also took the time to check all hardware on all parts of the antenna and mast. I also fixed a slight kilter on the rocket launcher base. It was time very well spent – when the rainy season starts here in November, it gets a little harder to do such work – especially if we get wind and rain as we do every couple of years.

Some make hay and some make, well, uh . . . hmmmmm . . . .

In truth, I can do antenna work all year round – but with the UrbanBeam and Diamond Inverted Vee for 80M, I really don’t need to do much anymore. I occasionally have dreams of some big Bobtail Curtain – or even a shorty forty yagi, but because I can go as high as 65′ now – the UrbanBeam and dipole do it all. My days of Top Band are over – DXCC on 160M was plenty enough.

I have decided that if the UrbanBeam ever craps out and I don’t want to repair it – that’s when something like the JK-402 goes up. One thing that bugs me – I never received a reply from the people (or person?) at JK Antennas. I’ll give it one more try before I wrote them off.

At work, my small team is just weeks away from being code complete on the Data Discoverer project, and its very exciting. I also have been the leader on the leader board at gym for both July and so far in August – and have lost a total of 17 pounds this year, and also have completed my shack re-org and re-design.

The Fall Colors are just starting to show

Its back to school time here – the summer swim meets are over. My youngest graduated from UC Santa Cruz this summer, and so I have no kids going to school any more. I look forward to riding my bike a bit more – doing the weekend rides to augment my gym workouts – and to kick it up to the next level. I have 20 more pounds to drop. Playing guitar has also been a blast.

Jeff, K1NSS is working on a logo for my new QRP DX Pursuit . . . 

I have even “positioned myself” to get ready for “DX Season” – and the other day, 40M was quiet like it is during the Winter. Who knows, maybe 3Y0I will actually happen – that would be the icing on what has turned out to be a good year. I learned last year to be “cautiously optimistic” – last summer I was this happy and then the 4th Quarter Blues hit me. I’m looking more for the “Bounty of Autumn”, and I do expect that to happen. In fact, I was told several very good bits of news regarding the system I have designed to ensure that LendUp is CCPA Compliant. Several companies in San Francisco are very interested in it – and executive staff have invited me to meet with these companies. My product has been very, very well received – unlike the disaster that ensued last year – with no fault of my own. CCPA is like a 10 Ton Hammer that is hitting Data Driven companies – and believe me – its like a major earthquake in the SF Bay Area. I know – I was involved in Twitters project to do the same thing.

OK – well – my goal is to keep paddling, peddling, pumping, playing, pounding (brass) and pontificating here on this blog.

Hope you Summer has been great – you still have half of it to make it so.


Greyline QRP “Boots” and the KX-3

Win4K3Suite Audio Monitor

Every morning I hear plenty of DX stations in OC, Pac and Asia calling CQ. So far I’ve been batting about 88% – I can catch the DX 7 out of 8 times. Some, like VK, ZL, JA, KH. KL, VE7 and XE1 have been simple. Yesterday, YB did reply, but never got my call right.

I love the fact that these are all simplex!

I think this is a great batting average – better than I had expected. It really helps to have the antenna up high, and the night and morning greylines are king – I am sure its like having an amplifier on – “Boots” as the early QRPers like Doug DeMaw used to call them in QST Articles way back in the 70’s.

The Terminator . . .

I does help that the days are getting shorter too – this summer there seemed to be more noise on 40M, and I have not seen the ZS stations spotted like I used to – and I really miss that. My dream would be a long path morning CW QSO with ZS – but I’d take short path at night here.

One thing that I have been playing with is the RF Gain vs. Preamp settings on the KX-3. The sweet spot seems to be where the Preamp is on, but the RF Gain is turned down to -8. This has the effect of raising the signal and lowering the noise. Its a bit counter-intuitive, but I suspect that there are many combinations between RF gain, preamp and filtering that can help with S/N Ratio (Signal to Noise Ratio) – raising the signal above the noise.

I am very pleased that I had another “happy accident” and ended up with the KX-3 instead of the KX-2. I am sure the KX-2 is a fine rig – but for in the shack – the KX-3 offers more bang for the buck than my old K3 had. In fact, years back, when I took a KX-3 to Bend, Oregon, where we visit once a year, and then Moab, I’ll never forget the feeling when I turned it on and thought it sounded a lot better than the K3. I am not sure exactly why – I just know the KX-3 really is a special kind of radio.

FREQ 300 and Cycle 25 Prediction

Image from https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/news/solar-cycle-25-preliminary-forecast

It looks like we can expect Cycle 25 to start up anytime in the next year. If the bottom of the cycle lasts as long as last bottom (Cycle 23 to 24), then expect it to be further out – or, maybe we will get lucky (and I’m betting we will), the bottom of this cycle won’t be as long as last bottom.

The article muses that the next cycle will be about the same as last cycle – which is an “upgrade” from previous (and more dire) predictions.

So far, my pursuit of the Free Range QRP DX 300 Challenge has been a ton of fun, and I do not feel lacking for opportunities to work DX and there is enough CW activity to kick this in higher gear. This year has been a year of fixing, building and testing things, so I am now at that point where I’d like to do some DXing and CW operating again – I really have been on “autopilot” since April 2016 – VK0EK, Heard Island.

The timing of all of this is excellent – because I expect that the first 100 – 200 will be “easy enough” – especially since the list I’m following is “anything from DXCC or IOTA”. This means that when things get bad condition wise, I can work “NA- Islands” from IOTA. While distance wise they are not tricky – with IOTA interest they will offer enough of a challenge. OC-PAC, Asia, Central America, South America and the Caribbean should make the first 100 fairly easy.

ALl of this reminds me of working ZS8M in September 2011 – during the Autumnal Equinox. It looks like September 2020 or September 2021 will be Cycle 25’s version of September 2011 – and it all depends on what happens in this next year. That 2011 date was when I could really tell we were finally on the upswing from the long bottom of Cycle 23. I really do believe this time around it won’t be as bad – however, back then I was chomping at the bit with a full OCD on regarding trying to make it to DXCC Honor Roll. This time around its just for fun – and so far, that’s exactly what it has been – just for fun.

OK – onward!

Zen and the Art of Clown Shoes

I’m still marveling at how I fell into the Collins Gold Dust Twins which led to me to a major life epiphany that I have been using the wrong Morse Code Keys all my life. It would be like riding the wrong size bicycle – or wearing the wrong size shoes – big red clown shoes in fact.

OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but you get my drift. It does underscore how you can never ask enough questions – or question what you think you know and what you think is the truth and what is real. Its amazing how we can fall into a rut of sorts – and not even know it.

Its taken 45 years for me to learn this. Of course there was no harm done and I accomplished a lot – so maybe this is more like playing a cheap musical instrument, and then all of a sudden you get one that fits you just perfectly in all ways – and your playing instantly gets better. I have two guitars and one has a fret board that fits like a glove – and the other is just not quite as comfortable. I buzz the strings less on the one that fits better. With time, I could overcome this with practice – but isn’t it better to just use what fits best right from the start?

I won’t start asking what I could have done in the past if I had only asked more questions – but I will start looking at everything I do moving forward with a little more care – like a scientist with a microscope who looks at something from all angles and facets. Maybe this all has to do with becoming more mature – and [gasp] wise(r)?

FREQ 300 QSO #7: XE1IM

Another QSO off the end of my 40M UrbanBeam Dipole . . 

The MPW or KPW aren’t much, so I will only report them when the DX is of a “significant” nature – mostly > 3000 miles or so. Anyway, I am having fun – and don’t take any DX station for granted – as I did when chasing DXCC HR and other related pursuits.

Who will be #8?

UrbanBeam Photo’s

The “standard” photo

Sitting happy at 56′

We had clouds and humidity today – something rare in Northern California

Quite a nice evening . . . 

My neighbors pepper tree – these are the first trees in the area to turn color