Saturday, December 10, 2011

EN75vp Cheboygan Michigan Ops

December 7-10, 2011

UPDATE: Cards were mailed 12/26/2011.  Email me if you do not receive yours within 2 weeks.

During the beginning of December, our family made a short getaway to a cabin on Lake Huron about 12 miles east of Cheboygan, Cheboygan County, Michigan.  The trip only lasted four days, but I did have a few opportunities to work some AM SO50 passes along with one or two PM AO27 and SO50 passes.  Operating was confined to the cabin QTH (EN75vp) due to lack of equipment (I packed light) and lack of satellite passes.  This was my first outing since AO51's demise, and I really missed the strong signals and convenient evening passes.  The cabin was located in the woods, so I had a hard time hearing the birds until they got above 15-20 degrees or were out over the lake.  Even with the obstructions, SO50 was sounding really good.  I traveled with the TH-D7A HT, Arrow, and ARR SP432VDG preamp on 8AA batteries.  Below is a brief breakdown of our daily activities:

Wednesday the 7th was traveling day, and the trip from Ohio to Cheboygan lasted about 8 hours.  I was hoping to work some passes while mobile, but I did not bring sufficient antennas along to work mobile.  I tried to hear AO27 once, but all I caught was the suffix of a call sign.  Below is few pics of the cabin we stayed at.

Cabin lakeside view.

View of Lake Huron from the Cabin.  This is facing north.

On Thursday the 8th I was able to work three passes beginning with SO50 at 1320z.  N5AFV, KB1RVT, and WA4NVM were logged during that northwestern pass out over Lake Huron.  I enjoyed discussing the Wolverines with Rick, and how they humiliated us Buckeyes a couple weeks ago.  As I tell everyone else, we are in rebuilding season. ;-)

Later in the afternoon I jumped on AO27 at 1745z and worked VA3OR and KD8QBA.  A couple other stations were heard but were having trouble hearing.  This pass was in the trees, but the preamp helped take the edge off of the static.

After the AO27 pass, we jumped in the truck and headed up the shoreline to the Mackinac Bridge, and into St. Ignace.  It was amazing how seasonal the far northern towns were.  The economy in that part of the UP is sustained primarily by tourism, which lacks in December for the obvious reason that no one wants to vacation in sub-zero temps and snow (except us).  Very few shops and hotels were open.  Below are a few pics of the trip up to St. Ignace.

Approaching the Mackinac from the south.

Taken from the UP looking southeast.

This picture was taken of the UP shoreline facing east.  The lakes were beginning to freeze in the 15-25 degree day temps.
This picture was taken from the UP looking southeast.  The Mackinac is in the background.
Once we got back from the UP, I worked the 2150z SO50 pass and had QSOs with AC0RA, N8RO, N0KK, and N3YKF.  I lost the bird in the trees abruptly and left many ops calling me without response.  I really hate leaving a pass this way, but it happens every now and then.  I decided that I prefer hills instead of trees.  At least the hills end the pass whereas the trees keep you guessing if it is going to come back.

On Friday the 9th I woke up a bit early and worked the 1208z and 1350z SO50 passes.  KB0RZD, K4FEG, CO6CBF, N9IP, K8YSE, and KC0YBM were worked on the first pass which had good coverage of North America, and NX9B and K8YSE were worked on the second pass which rose 30 degrees to my NW.  I confused my north with my northwest during this pass, so I missed a large chunk of it.  Despite the QRM and fuzziness from operating while still half asleep, I believe at least 4-5 ops were able to log EN75 for the first time during those two passes.  

After the AM passes we ventured down to central-northern Michigan for the day, traveling to Indian River, Vanderbilt, and Wolverine.  My dad and I have been through these towns several times in the past during our canoe trips, so it was fun to see the scenery during a different season.  We traveled back into the Pigeon State Forest in search of some Elk, but we never did find any.  Below are some pics of the day's events.

The snow was falling fairly heavy on the trip down south.  This was taken off of US-27 south of Cheboygan.

One of the many back roads we traveled during the afternoon.  For you canoe enthusiasts, this bridge spans the Pigeon River.

One of the many Elk-less viewing points.

Inspiration Point in the Pigeon Forest.  We had about a 1/4 mile hike up to this point, and the windchill was around 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit at the top.  You can see the snow falling in the distance.

Once we got back to the cabin in the late evening, we were able to get a few pics of the beautiful sunset on Lake Superior.

The shorelines were beginning to freeze up for the winter.

On Saturday the 10th, I worked the 1235z SO50 pass, which was the last pass worked during the trip.  WA4NVM, N9IP, AB0XE, and K0TWB were all worked on this pass.  I had some local interference from an unknown source causing some QRM on the downlink which confused me a bit while trying to talk.  

During the brief four-day trip, 19 stations were worked with a total of 22 QSOs (3 were duplicates) on 6 passes (1 AO27 and 5 SO50).  All stations worked will receive a specific EN75vp Michigan QSL card in 3-4 weeks from 12/10/2011.  I will get them out ASAP once I receive them.  Also, all QSOs will be in LoTW under KD8KSN (not KD8KSN/p).  If you do not see a confirmation for our QSO in LoTW or do not receive your card within a month, EMAIL me and I will make any corrections.

Thanks for the QSOs!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


September 2011

In an effort to reduce the number of pages I have on this blog, I am moving this previous page to a post.  ARISSat-1 is also nearing the end of its flight, so this was a rather "seasonal" activity.

Below are some SSTV pics I have downloaded from ARISSat-1.  I am using MMSSTV.

The End of AO51's 7 Year Journey

December 2011

From Drew, KO4MA, AMSAT-NA VP Operations:

It is with a heavy heart I report that AO-51 has ceased transmission and is not responding to commands. The last telemetry data indicated that the third of six batteries was approaching failure to short, and observations indicate the voltage from three cells is insufficient to power the UHF transmitters. The IHU may continue to be operative. Initial tests with the S band transmitter were also not positive, although more attempts are in order. We have tried leaving the satellite in an expected state where if voltages climb high enough, the 435.150 transmitter may possibly be heard.

The command team will regularly attempt communications with the satellite over the coming months (and years). There is always the possibility that a cell will open and we could once again talk to our friend while illuminated. Thanks to all who helped fund, design, build, launch, command, and operate AO-51. It's 7 year mission has been extraordinary. Please support AMSAT's Fox-1 project, and other AMSAT projects worldwide with your time and money.

For the AO-51 Command Team,

73, Drew KO4MA
AMSAT-NA VP Operations

AO51 was a great bird, and will be missed.  My first QSO via satellite was via AO51 on November 27, 2009, with K8TL.  My first 28 QSOs via satellite are shown below, all of which were via AO51.

AMSAT-NA is now kicking Fox-1 into high gear, and they are requesting your support.  See AMSAT-NA's website to donate, or you can use the PayPal widget on the right of this screen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The CJU Antenna

September 2011

Tired of pulling the Arrow out every time you work a pass?  Tired of being afraid to work a grid while portable because of how long it takes to assemble the Arrow?  Tired of getting all the funny looks when you DO pull it out in public?  The answer is simple... build a CJU antenna!  Build a CJU for the 440 downlink and use the 1/4 wave for the uplink on the roof of your car.  All you need to do is pull over, roll your window down, and work the pass!  I just built one recently, and I was astounded with the results.  Now, it is important to mention that I was using a preamp, but even with the preamp on the Arrow, I would have to say that the CJU performed just as well, if not better, than the Arrow - and it is only about 9-10" long! 

EA4CYQ provides some very good instructions on his webpage, so I will not go into a bunch of detail.  He uses mm, so you can take mm / 25.4 to get inches.  If you have a measuring tape with millimeters on it that is even better.

Instead of clamping my BNC connector RIGHT at the bottom of the PVC, I let the coax run out about a foot, and used hot glue (or any glue) instead of the screw clamps to hold the elements in place.  I also used silicon-copper welding rods instead of whatever he used.  In other words, I did the "built in 30 minutes" version.

A couple pics...

Monday, September 12, 2011

ARRL GLD Convention 9/11/2011

September 11, 2011

I was extremely honored this year by receiving the ARRL GLD (Greak Lakes Division) Young Radio Amateur of the Year Award.  A special thanks to Jim, K8LE, Director of the GLD; Gary, KI4LA, Vice Director of the GLD; Frank, KI8GW, Ohio SM; Mike, KC8YLD; Mark, AC8FV;  Jim, KD8UT; Howard, K8PWL; Craig, KB8TZE.  Below are a couple pictures of the convention.  Sorry they are so blury.  They didn't like being uploaded to Blogger.

Left to right (standing):  Gary, KI4LA, Director of the ARRL GLD; Frank, KI8GW, OH SM; Zack, KD8KSN; Jim, K8LE, Director of the ARRL GLD.

Left to Right:  Jim, KD8UT, Elmer; Zack, KD8KSN; Howard, K8PWL, Elmer

KD8KSN/m EN80/83 Ops 9/6 & 9/8/2011

September 9, 2011

KD8KSN/m operated one AO51 pass while mobile in EN80 in Ohio on 9/6 and one from EN83 in southern MI on 9/8.  The trip to MI was a father/son canoe trip to the Pigeon River near Indian River just south of the Mackinac Bridge.  Operating mobile was very limited due to poor receive.  I was using a Comet quarter wave for the downlink, and it was sandwiched between two canoes on the truck roof.  I will be back in this area in December, and I am hoping to be a bit more successful at getting a few of these grids on the air at that time. 

As always everyone in the log will receive a card, and all QSOs are in LoTW under KD8KSN with the correct grid.  Below are a couple pics:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

September 2011

I can now say I have done SSTV!  The only SSTV I have downloaded so far have been from ARISSat-1.  I hope to do more with it in the future, though.  I never thought I would have enjoyed it, but it is actually fun.  I am using MMSSTV:

It is EXTREMELY user friendly.  

I was making a recording of the pass, and then I would transfer it to the PC.  I had a lot of issues getting the soundcard adjusted (and failed), so I decided to hook the downlink up to the computer directly and forego the recording.  It worked great!  Below is my favorite picture so far, but there are more here on my SSTV picture page.  I have only been at this a couple days, so hopefully I can get a few more. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Field Day 2011

June 25-26, 2011

We are having issues getting the movie transferred.  Zack has it finished.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dayton Hamvention 2011

May 20, 2011

WOW!  That's about all I have to say... ;-)

This was my third year going to Dayton, and it was probably my favorite.  There seemed to be a lot more attendance this year than last (at least on Friday when I was there).  I didn't purchase as many goodies as I have in years past.  I picked up the Heil Traveler w/ HTA-KHT adapter for my Kenwood D7A, and that was about it.  The only thing I regret about the trip was that I did not get many pics.  There was so much going on that the camera took a back seat.  I did manage to get a few good ones. 
My dream rotor - the Yaesu G-5500....

Left to right: KD8KSN, KC8JDS, KD8NUQ, KB8TZE.  My Dad (no call) was taking the pic.

AMSAT booth area
AMSAT satellite demo area.
It was great meeting up with several guys that I have talked with over the past year and a half on the birds.  It was fun going out with Keith, W5IU, and Mark, N8MH, and helping work/watching them work the birds.  I picked up my equipment later on and got on a low AO27 pass and talked with KB1PVH to get EM79 on the rover VUCC list. 

Me and Col. Doug Wheelock (ISS 25)

On to the highlight of the day...  Col. Doug Wheelock was at the AMSAT booth from 1:30-2:30p giving out autographs AND pictures (with you), so we stood in a 20 MINUTE - yes, a 20 MINUTE - line, and we got our picture taken with him, got a very nice picture of him that he autographed, and he also signed my Arrow boom, the same antenna that I worked him on last July when he was aboard the ISS, expedition 25.  I have a few pics of the antenna and Col. Wheelock below, and then there are a few miscellaneous pics.  I MAY put a video out within the next month.  I have not had a chance to look over the footage yet to see if it justifies a video.  We will see.


Photo credit KA2UPW
The antenna reads, "NA1SS to Planet Earth"...  [Col. Wheelock's signature] Commander, ISS 25"
Me monitoring AO27 while N8MH & W5IU worked it right behind the camera.  Not sure why I was making the face. :oP

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boy Scouts of America Demo

April 30, 2011

On April 30, 2011, a few of the CBFARC (W8CBF) members (including myself) helped out with some radio communication demonstrations for the Boy Scouts of America on Horns Hill in Newark, Ohio.  My two elmers, K8PWL and KD8UT, along with a good friend, Jed, K8QY, headed up the HF/Morse Code demos, and I did some satellite demos.  I had a lot of interference on my uplink signal, which I thought was caused by inteference from the 3 large communication towers on the Hill.  It turned out that is was caused by the fact that I had the volume on the radio turned all the way up (so the audience could hear).  The sound resembled a prop plane flying over my head every time I would transmit.

Other than the bit of interference and obvious lack of satellite QSOs, the demos went well.  About 150 Scouts filtered through during the day, and a few of them expressed serious interest in getting their Amateur Radio licenses.  Many even expressed interest in Morse Code - more than phone! 

Below are a few pictures we took during the day, and there is also a YouTube video produced by Zack Rodichok, KD8NUP.

Our setup in one of the shelters.

KD8UT (left) & K8PWL (right)