March 2019 Contacts

WA2IAC/0 Portable, near Denver, CO

Rig: TenTec Triton II running ~100 watts
Antenna: 100′ (random) stranded copper horizontal closed loop up 12-14′
Remote Antenna Tuner: SGC SG-239

Date Time MST Freq Mode Station Sent/Rec Comments
3/25 1940 3.990 LSB MC 59/46 CO, Columbine Net
3/25 2152 3.916 LSB W4SCW 55/55 KS, Free Wheelers’ Net MC – QRN
3/25 2320 7.135 LSB K6MYC 59+40/59 CA, Big gun, 1400W 4 ele yagi! QRN
3/27 1730 14.282 USB KB9UT 59+40/59 SC,10 yr hiatus. 1kw, dipole, ICOM7300 QSB


Stand by for more entries for March…



Radio Activity Resumes After 8 Year Hiatus

After a long hiatus, I’m back. A little. We’ll see… I’m planning to write on both radio and Linux/Cloud computer topics, but I’m busy with a job search, so read on.

I’m back on the air for the first time since I moved into my base QTH a few years ago. It’s a nice place, but not for radio propagation. In that respect, it’s down in a hole and difficult to raise any kind of antenna. But, with the end of winter, and my need for radio, I decided to go for it.

I put up a wire loop antenna, and I’m using equipment documented elsewhere on this site.

The loop antenna is one of a number of compromise antennas I plan to try out at this site to see which “compromise” antenna works the best. It’s made from 100′ of stranded, copper wire arranged as a somewhat flattened circle arranged parallel to the ground. It’s in the range of 12′ to 14′ high. The antenna terminates with an SGC SG-239 automatic antenna tuner, with a 50′ coax run to the rig.

The SGC SG-239 does a great job of tuning the antenna to match the feedline, maintaining low SWR at the rig, along these lines:

80 Meters less than 1.5
40 Meters 2.5-3
20 Meters less than 1.5
15 Meters untested

This is, of course, not an optimal antenna by any means. It’s too close to the ground to get any low-angle take-off, but even if it did, there would be nowhere for the radiation to go being as I’m down in a hole. Conversely, there’s a lot of near-vertical radiation. This is OK because by goal is to get signal up where there’s somewhere for it to go and get some high-angle ionospheric propagation to get my signals out of the hole.

What about the “closed loop” aspect? Well, the SGC tuner can handle it, for starters. Additionally, I’m in a high-noise area, and the closed-loop configuration keeps things quieter than an open antenna configuration would. The antenna is also forced to operate in the M (magnetic) plane. Most of the noise is on the E (electronic) plane. Both the TenTec rigs have no defense against noise, so this seemed a good way to go. I’ll see how this worked out as I try other antenna configurations and compare.

The rigs I’ve been using up to this point are a TenTec Century21 (CW only), in mint condition, and a TenTec Triton II, in nearly mint condition. I’m selling the Triton II, which delivers 100 watts output on 80-10 meters on CW and SSB phone. Contact me at my_callsign at arrl dot net if you’re interested in buying it. Both of these rigs are very comfortable to operate, and have no digital circuitry. Both rigs are permeability tuned. This means that main tuning is accomplished by moving a slug through a coil, affecting the inductance of the coil in a smooth and mechanically stable way. A common problem with rigs tuned this way is that, when stored for long periods of time, the lubricant for the moving slug can stiffen, or even harden. In the worst case, it effectively glues the slug in position. After a long storage time, like these rigs have endured, the rig needs to be thoroughly warmed up. This softens up the lubricant. Then, the VFO dial needs worked gently from end to end of the tuning range. This loosens up and redistributes the lubricant. With a little exercise of this kind, the VFO mechanism starts to work smoothly across the entire tuning range.

ALSA Audio for the Raspberry Pi

I ordered a Raspberry Pi about the time it was announced last year. At the time, it was necessary to order it from the UK. As a result of SNAFUs, I didn’t receive it till the end of last summer. By then, I was deep into work requirements that gave me little personal time. No time for ham radio, for sure.

Just a few days ago, I got past the point of loading Raspbian onto an SD card and getting the device to boot. Although I have a general interest in the Pi, and had already been exploring applications with a similar device, the “Guru Plug”, I now have a specific application for the Pi.

My first application is an audio/radio application that is running on several of my computers, and is starting to monopolize hardware that I’d rather be using in other ways. So my first definite Pi project is to get that audio project running on the Pi, so I can offload my other, more valuable systems, and return them to their original purposes. The application requires ALSA audio on Debian/Ubuntu, and not too much processing power. The Pi seemed a good fit. So, once I got it up and running, the question was: Does it support ALSA, and if so, does it support the Debian audio tools enough that my project will run on it? I don’t have the definitive answer yet, but it’s looking good.

Yes, the Pi supports ALSA audio. However, the support is NOT done in hardware per se (that is, not as in most modern laptops). It’s partial emulation, and partially the bcm2835 chip used in the Pi for HDMI output. This requires a kernel module that, in the case of the Pi on the “official” Raspbian distro, is loaded at boot time by default.

For more technical discussion of this subject, please see this page on the WA2IAC wiki.

Friday AM Fun Day


I had a good wake-up this morning starting at around 6:15. I woke up early this morning, turned on the Boulder remote, and tuned to 3.875 just in time to hear the beginnings of AM activity. Lots of very fine signals!

I enjoyed a round-table with Steve N0BF, Rod W5CZ,OJ K0OJ, Jack K0HEH, Mark KA0SKK, Rob W0FT,Jerry KD0PD, Steve W7JSC.

OJ remarked he had worked some 10M AM’ers in New Hamster on 29.05, which sounded very encouraging! I’m still hoping for some QRP/DX activity like I enjoyed during the last solar maximum. KA0SKK’s 3 807’s modulated by two more 807 bottles sounded fine, and brought back memories of hacking around with a Johnson Mobile I rigged up with an outboard solid state modulator (it was borrowed from the K2TK club founded by W2AAF [SK]). W7JSC was making it in from somewhere in the field near Cheyenne, WY with a R7000 to 100′ of wire, weak but full copy.

IP Remote Operation Now Routine


Thanks to IP Remote Operation, my daily check-ins to the South Dakota Morning Weather net have been hardly impacted by my move. While my now-limited collection of equipment now remains packed in boxes, my ops have been affected more my by personal stamina than anything else. Well, you know how your stamina is affected by moving, right? Since I can’t and/or won’t pay for someone else to do it all for me, moving is always exhausting.

The strange result of this brave new world of ham radio is that my operations on HF have been unaffected while my VHF/UHF operations are, to the extent that my HT remains unpacked! I could use the remote for VHF/UHF, but stubbornly refuse to. So it’s all virtually in my mind.

Recollecting that I only heard of IP Remote operation about a decade ago, it certainly appealed to me at that time, but I never would have imagined it impacting me personally the way it currently does. How has IP Remote Operation affected you, your thinking and/or your operations?

73, WA2IAC



During July and into August, I’m going through personal changes… new work, and moving. Not very far. But as a ham, there’s always an extra-added dimension to moving.

Questions like: Where will I put my gear? Where will I store the gear I’m not using. Should I sell some stuff.

Even more important questions like: Where can I put an antenna? What kind/how big? Will I be able to run QRO? Or, in restricted situations like mine, can I put up an antenna at all?

The good news is that my new QTH is at ground level. I’ve been on the third floor, which presents ground challenges. But I’ve learned how to cope with those issues very effectively over the years. The new QTH is at ground level. That will change the challenge to one of getting the antenna(s) as high as possible. Looks like I’ll be able to put up my trap 15/20m dipole for sure, as well as a stealthily placed 2m/70cm beam that will be on a better path to the BARC repeaters (sure would like to work some ATV on Thurs evenings). There is also the opportunity to put up a stealth longwire, at least 300 feet. Possibly better. As for putting up something more resonant to get on 40M and 75/80M with, I can only try and experement! But clearly, the futures for putting up antennae in the new place are better.

Perhaps moving won’t seem so bad as a result.

And now, back to the boxes…

Stolen Ranger

I lost several vintage Johnson rigs in the aftermath of the house fire that briefly killed me in 2005. Much of the gear was rescued from the house fire, while nearly everything else I owned was pretty much gone. Unfortunately, that gear disappeared in 2006 – several months later.

Sadly, I suspect a fellow ham was responsible, but I’ll probably never know the truth unless someone confesses. I do have pictures of much of the gear that was stolen, but many of those photos are buried on off-site backups, or backups of a laptop that was not at the house when the fire occurred. Bit by bit, I’m finding those images and will be posting them on the website on a page that will collect all the information about the stolen gear. However, as the information comes to light piecemeal, I’ll post it in this blog.

Here’s an image of the Johnson Ranger that was stolen. It was given to me by a member of the Rockland Repeater Association. Possibly WB2KSP or his son. I’m still tracking that down. However, the image is how the transmitter appeared at the time it was stolen.

This Johnson Ranger was stolen from WA2IAC in 2006

Johnson Ranger Stolen from WA2IAC in 2006

It’s been about 6 years now, and I’ve pretty much given up hope of getting this rig and the others back, but if you have information about this rig or its whereabouts, please let me know.

Of interest, atop the rig is a Lafayette CB Walkie-Talkie. To the right is a meter which I believe is the stock meter used in the Heathkit DX-60B. I didn’t like the way my DX-60B looked, so I restyled it, and that included swapping in a cooler looking meter. To the right of the meter is a card from a DEC PDP-11/70 (Q-Bus). To the right of the rig are some awesome books, mostly QRP related. Those are gone too. At the lower right is a blue book with yellowed cellophane tape on it. That’s a 1934 ARRL Handbook. A sliver of a 1978 edition of the same is also visible at the bottom.


Welcome to the Blog

73 All — I’ve been busy, and it looks like I’ll be getting busier. I don’t want that to get in the way of posting new information, so to make it easier on myself I set up this blog.

There are still lots of updates and new material for the website, and this blog will not replace those. What the blog will do is make it easier for me to make regular updates about my activities, my shack, my ham related interests, and so on.

As an additional benefit, blogs are naturally interactive. So please, feel free to comment. If you’d like to make this blog a place to make your own posts, that’s a possibility too – let me know.

If you’d like to set up a username so you can post or comment, great! Just include your callsign somewhere in your username so you don’t get deleted with the spammers!

Thanks and 73,

Gregg WA2IAC