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RAYMOND N6NQR

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Everything posted by RAYMOND N6NQR

  1. I signed up too. When I get sponsored, I'll check back to this forum every few days to see if anyone here needs a sponsor too. If I don't have the time to DO caching, at least I can occassionaly READ about it!
  2. There was an entire Topic dedicated to it. With some very intellegent input from several people and links to some very interesting hardware. I have no idea where it went. Even IF the Topic was 'dead', it would have value to others arriving later asking the same questions. Several Topics disappeared. Each had value and merit. Does anyone know if those Topics are still available? "Geocaching and Direction Finding" and to a lesser extent "Newbie has Questions" (about radio equiptment in general) are worth a look if you can find them. The Bomb Squad discussions were a hoot as well!
  3. I read your QRZ blog. If you can reach Berryville via UHF, N6WI has a machine on 443.800MHz, + shift, 100.0 PL. That machine is connected to the Western Intertie Network System (WINSystem) on IRLP-reflector #9100. There are many hams on that system that are knowledgeable about GPS/APRS-Packet type systems. If you cannot reach that machine, and have access to an IRLP equipted repeater locally that allows you to 'dial-out' ('Steerable'), you can connect to the WINSystem's reflector IRLP#9100. http://www.winsystem.org/ QRP: HF or VHF/UHF, Tons of fun, loads of challenges. I suggest Doug DeMaw's "QRP Handbook". If you are not familiar with VFO constuction, start with a Crystal controlled transmitter and work on your constuction skills before attempting VFO construction. Mechanical stability is paramount to good VFO stability. "Simplicity is the Ultimate in Sophistication". A Short-Wave Receiver with a 'Standby' switch or function will save your hearing. A simple slide-type switch will work for antenna TX-RX switching. Toroid-type coils are best for oscillator circuit coils because of their self-shielding qualities, less 'drift' and 'pulling'. It is easier to transmit Mose Code than receive it. Keep your sending speed at or below your receiving speed.
  4. Many manufacturers offer radios with NMEA interface for adding GPS data to their TNC-equipted radios. http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Communications/A...Mobiles/RC-D710 The Kenwood D710 is the most popular one used for that purpose. There are even handheld radios that have GPS accessories. Your best source for information is Ham Radio Outlet's catalog. http://hamradio.com/ If you have money to spend, I'm sure they will be happy to mail you a copy of their catalog. I suggest you read my reply to "Newbie has Questions" about different brands of radios to make sure you get a good idea of the strong-weak points of the various brands. You will want a GPS that has NMEA output for connecting to a Radio/TNC. I am a fan of the Garmin units. The other manufacturers are good too. It's just a matter of what you want in features and looks. Many years ago, a friend bought a (then new, now ancient!) Garmin model 100. He took it to the front steps of the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. At the bottom of the steps in front of the museum is a NGS Benchmark with the co-ordinates labelled on it. My friend removed the Garmin from it's box, installed batteries, and turned it on. He then set it directly on top of the benchmark, and we stood on each side of it to protect it from unwary pedestrians. It took 12 minutes for the unit to do it's "First Power On Initialization". The readout was exactly spot-on with the co-ordinates of the Benchmark! The 'accuracy' was initially reading 10 feet, and dropped to 1 foot over 20 minutes. I have seen other Garmins tested this exact same way, and except for one, they were 'spot-on'! Of the Magellan and Tom Toms I have seen put through this 'Natural History Museum, First Power On Test' none were as accurate. The Tom Toms were the worst. Off Topic: Many GPS units also offer Differential Receiver capability. Using an external VLF receiver (200-500kHz) the old VLF "Letter Beacons" that transmitted one or two letters in Morse Code for Direction Finding Triangulation (before the days of GPS) have been up-graded to transmit a 'Differential Correction Code'. This digital stream is used to improve the accuracy of GPS units to "Gee Whiz!" levels. Accuracy of the 'Pick a window, any window' or 'Straight down the Ventilation Shaft' type. Because of the very good performance of the newer generation of regular GPS units, this type of accuracy for non scientific purposes is academic. The Differential Beacons are located along the coasts and major waterways throught the USA.
  5. ...unless you're buying Mosley. :) -Steve N8FM Everybody on the air keeps saying they and Cushcraft are no longer in business, yet HRO still has them in stock. You know the antenna is working when running 1 watt on VHF simplex, and a brand new ham shows up on your simplex freq and says: "Well, I tried -600kHz and +600kHz, so, you're either running an odd split, or, you guys are on simplex." You get what you pay for.
  6. The easiest way to find classes and testing for a license is to look in the yellow pages for a ham radio store near you and either vist their webite, if they have one; or just stop in. You can also try http://www.arrl.org that is the home page of the American Radio Relay League. http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/examsearch.phtml if this link goes through, it will take you to the page that allows you to search for testing sites by zip code or state. If it doesnt work, copy/paste it into the address bar of a new browser, (window or tab). Google and Bing will give you the same results if you enter 'arrl'. Some Volunteer Exam Coordinators (VEC's) require you to make an appointment in advance. Some do not, they accept walk-ins. God Bless You and Good Luck!
  7. My "Two Cents": Antenna. This is the least expensive part of a station. It is also the most responsible for effective communications. The greatest improvement in signal, TX & RX, can be obtained for the least amount of money by upgrading the antenna first. Base vs. Moblile vs. Handheld. This is like asking what TYPE of underware should I buy. What do YOU need? Using an HT connected to a Base antenna will result in all kinds of out-of-band signals overloading the RX. A mobile unit will perform much better, and a power supply/base antenna is the best use of resouces for a mobile and base. Icom vs. Yaesu vs. Kenwood. This is like asking what BRAND of underware should I buy. What do you need? Icom. Very rugged, "Industrial type" radios. Of the 3 brands, Icom is the least vulnerable to 'Front End Overload'. Excellent choice for Urban use. If you are going to primarily be 'Downtown' in the heart of the city, these radios will resist RX overload from out of band signals (Police, Fire, Taxi, etc.). They are difficult to program and some have limited features. If you are involved in very active outdoor activities, they are a good choice from the standpoint of being difficult to 'screw-up' the settings. HT, Mobile, or Base; they are known for 'heavy duty' transmitters too. Kenwood. Very well balanced between features and performance. Very good RX overload resistance. Transmitters are 'very reliable' for extended transmit times. Very good audio quality TX & RX. What do you expect from a Hi-Fi electronics manufacturer? Advanced features may be difficult to use when mobile. Not as rugged as Icom when used in outdoor activities like bicycling, rock climbing, etc. but are still able to take some punishment. Yaesu. These are the easiest to program. Very 'intuitive' operation. Most models have more features than you will ever use. Poor front end overload and small heatsinks on transmitters make these radios a poor choice for 'Urban' usage, or extended transmitting. The extremely high sensitivity RX of these radios makes them stand out above the other two when 'out in the sticks'. The biggest drawbacks are easy to 'bump' the buttons and wind up on another part of the band; and very poor TX audio quality. Yaesu has introduced "Heavy Duty HTs". They are very rugged and reliable. The 'Waterproof' versions have a reputation for extremely poor audio quality on transmit. Non-ruggedized Hts can be very fragile, especially the multi-band units. Yaesu's are very popular because many retailers offer the HTs pre-programmed and pre-charged. Pay money, open box, start talking. Easiest to modify for Business Band, VHF-Maritime, GMRS use.
  8. Another suggestion: Simplex on a repeater Output. As long as you are not right on top of the 'machine', you can talk over the same distance when the machine is not in use, and up to a quarter mile or more when it is in use by non geocachers, while still monitoring for calls by geocachers using the repeater. The only requirement would be using tone encode if the machine transmits a PL. The use of tone encode will allow others using CTCSS to hear you. Unless you agree to not use it in advance. Southern California is the Land of Tone Squelch. PL-Decode is not an option. It is a necessity! When you walk to the top of a hill, you can hear two or three machines on the same pair your local machine is on. 'Hitting' a repeater 100+ miles away with a HT is not uncommon. It can add an element of entertainment to any outdoor activity. Using low power on the output of a repeater is acceptable operating practice. Many more people do it than you realize. If you cant hear them, you dont know they are there. I often 'dump' the memory channel into the VFO, turn off the 'shift', and use the VFO/Memory buttons to toggle between the two. With the simple push of a button, you can go from 'Local' to 'Wide Area' mode very easily. Very handy should an emergency arise, every one is already listening to the same frequency. There are two major drawbacks to this form of operating. Whether you are Bicycling, Hiking or Geocaching: 1, A hilltop will allow your comms to be heard over a very wide area. Turning the antenna sideways will reduce this. 2, Once the 'regulars' using the repeater find out what you are doing, they might become interested in Geocaching, and pester you every 5 or 10 minutes wanting an update on your progress.
  9. Hardly anyone follows that rule anymore....sorry to say. It is the 'lets talk here' frequency. Too many don't follow the rule now to change it back. It's another ham radio reality in today's climate of the hobby. Yes, in the last 20 years there has been an increase in "Let's find a Secret Frequency to talk, gossip, and cuss on!" These same persons, using a HT connected to a Base Station Antenna, get so much front-end overload that they have to use PL squelch. Since they are too lazy to change the PL to one not commonly used by repeaters in the area, they are also too lazy to break out a calculator and ADD or SUBTRACT 600kHz to the frequency they are 'using'. You do the math!
  10. Sounds interesting. Thanks for including the link for the "Bee". I've heard about those, first time I 'saw' one. I'm curious what the current drain is. If your concerned about the hardware 'evaporating' on you, how about a simple crystal oscillator? A 'Fundamental Mode' Xtal osc at 16.28MHz will produce harmonics at 146.52MHz and 439.56MHz. A 48.84MHz '3rd Overtone' will do the same. a simple single transistor amp tuned to 2m with a simple coil and cap will still produce useable energy at 70cm. Since these would be low power enough to fall under Part 15, you do not need to 'ID'. International Crystal Mfg. used to sell kits for oscillators and simple amps. I dont know if they still do. The ARRL Handbook and several other books, Doug DeMaw's "QRP Handbook" is a good primer in low-power construction. Scale the critical parts to your band of interest. The 'Super Cheap' option would be discarded 46/49MHz cordless phones. They 'include' all the parts you'll need, except a good antenna. RDF-Waypoints anyone? Placement: I'm glad to see you are very intelligent and have given critical thought to 'politically correct' placement. Recently a well meaning, but not too bright geocacher decided to place his cache in an old ammo can. He then placed the can about 4ft up on a Stop sign, securely held in place with plenty of duct tape. In an industrial park near the guard shack of a 'high tech research facility' known for doing work for 'unknown' government agencies. What a Brilliant Idea! Suggestion: Whatever you use for the container, circuit breaker box, etc. how about putting your callsign on it with the frequency and geocache ID#? (callsign optional) That way, the people looking for it will see that the frequency on their receiver is the same on the 'box'. Ordinary people will think it's just a industrial ID. This is my third attempt to respond to your post. If it doesnt work, I give up. Anyone else having these problems?
  11. I think you people are wasting mental energy for no good reason. 146.52 is the National Simplex CALLING frequency, not the National Simplex RAGCHEWING frequency. Depending on 'channel spacing' in your part of the country, 15kHz or 20kHz, just move up 'one'. 146.555 aka 'triple nickel' is commonly used for local rag-chewing, not weak signal work, like '52. The comments "what if I have an emergency in the middle of nowhere?" and "I dont want to change frequencies." etc. Does your radio have a "Call Channel" or "Priority Channel" button? That's what it's for, you don't have to 'fiddle' with the controls to get what you need. 146.52 is perfectly acceptable in the middle of nowhere. You might even find other Hams using it for INTERMITTENT communications like backpacking, kayaking, fishing, etc. If you wanna chew the fat all day long get a cellphone! or FRS. There are ops who monitor '52 for DX work, and they might not like hearing you all day long. Ditto for the '555 ragchew crowd. 146.535Mhz is 15kc's up from '52, is not used for weak signal DX work, and is not as common a ragchew channel as '555. '570, '585, etc are options too. Every 'group' under the sun wants their 'own' simplex frequency. Have you ever heard of something called a BAND PLAN? Try using it. Pick a freq, any freq. As long as it's not interfering with other users, your good to go. How do you get other local hams interested in geocaching and let them know where to find you on the radio dial? Have you ever heard of something called a NET? It's were a group of hams, usually affiliated as a CLUB meet once a week on a local repeater to COMMUNICATE with each other about what they are doing in the ham radio hobby. Since I'm giving you credit for having planned out your geocaching activity in advance, you could always let other hams know during the "Announcements or Items of Interest" part of the Net your Simplex and Repeater frequencies you will be monitoring. If you plan on using CTCSS, it might be a good idea to include that as well. Final Summary: A ham in Vermont does not need to be on the same frequency as someone in Florida. They need to know where to find people in their own geographic area. Not the other side of the planet. I'm being sarcastic for a reason. I want you to think about agreeing on a useful choice of frequecies to use LOCALLY that will enable you to ENJOY Geocaching AND Ham Radio. Do I have to remind you to charge your batteries too?
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