15 November 2017

How to measure coax length with the MFJ-259C

Last July at the Banquet for Ham Holiday (with guest speaker Don AF5DW), I was lucky enough to win a MFJ-259C. I don't use it as much as I would like because the budget for non necessity items is next to zero. So I will try to post about it as I use it. The MFJ-259C has so many useful features that it will take awhile to learn them all.
Way back in the dark ages on 2013 when I got my technician ticket, one of the very first home brew projects that I made was the typical J-Pole made from copper tubing. I mounted it on a 20 foot mast made from the top pipe on chain link fences. I used that antenna for all of my UHF-VHF activities. Considering I have been net control for a local net since Oct 2015, that antenna was used a lot. As time went by my signal got weaker and weaker. It happend so slowly that no one really noticed it. Then this past summer a good friend was moving across the country and was selling his ham radio gear. I was able to obtain a real nice Diamond 718 Repeater/ Base Station antenna, I plan on doing a review of it shortly. 
Diamond 718 Repeater/ Base Station Antenna
 When a another friend of mine Tim W5TAH, came over and installed the Diamond 718, I used newer coax on it. I ended up with some extra coax laying around. So I was thinking about using this coax for a 2 Meter yagi antenna I made in hopes of using it for 2 Meter SSB operations. Looking though the MFJ-259C features and found that it can be used to find out the length of a piece of coax.
Wouldn't you know, I just happen to have a piece of coax laying around.
DX Engineering RG8X Coax.  


 The first thing that you need to do to measure the length of a piece of coax is to short out the coax being measured. So I made me a little jumper wire by using a couple of alligator clips and a short piece of wire. Back in my teenage years I used alligator clips for something else, but we will not discuss that here. 
  Next I hooked the jumper to the end of the coax by connecting the center wire to the outer shield. The other end I hooked the coax to the MFJ-259C. I then turned on the MFJ-259C amd started off at the lowest frequency range and started adjusting the frequency higher. While I did this I watched the Resistance Meter (this is the meter on the right that is labeled IMPEDANCE. I was looking for the needle to dip down to zero ohms. It finally did this at 10.991 MHz. Next I looked up the velocity factor for my coax and found that it is 82 percent. Then I took the frequency and divided by 492 and then multiplied the answer by the velocity. The answer is the number of feet in the coax. In my case it said that my coax was 36 feet long. This is enough to let me set my 2 meter yagi up and hopefully use it on SSB for the ARRL's January VHF Contest. 

06 November 2017

NS4JAN

I just worked JS4JAN in South Africa with just 5 watts.
Here is my setup for this QSO
Radio: Elecraft KX3
Power: 5 watts
Mode: FT8
Interface: SignalLink
Antenna: Endfed, 50 feet long up at 35 feet

12 October 2017

The 3905 Century Club

One of the great things about amateur radio is all of the fun activities that you can take part in.  On of my friends Bobby KF5GTX introduced me to the 3905 Century Club. At first I was thinking, oh great another club that is "free for life" that one can join then you are expected to take part in club activities 27/7. Don't get me wrong, it is really great to have so many different clubs in amateur radio. However most of them are just for one band or just one mode. One of the great things in amateur radio is that we have so many bands and so many modes. More modes are still coming out such as FT8 which came out a few months ago. 
The 3905 does things a little different. As far a joining the club you have to earn the 100 Point Award where you have to make contacts with different call signs and each call sign is worth a certain amount of points and earning one hundred points. This may sound like a lot of fun, but as I have been working towards my 100 Point Award, I have found that it is a lot of fun. 
The 3905 Century Club has nets every night of the week. The have nets on 20, 40, 80 and 160 meter bands, and they operate using SSB, CW, PSK31 and RTTY. 
When applying for the first award or any of their awards, all QSO's MUST take place on one of the 3905 CC nets.  
To start with you need to download and install the NetLogger program as this is used extensively on the 3905 nets. The net control will check everyone in and as people are checked in, their information gets added to the NetLogger program. When it is your turn, to can talk to anyone on the net. For a QSO to take place you have to give the other persons call sign and give them a signal report. Then the other operator does the same. Net control has to hear both parties exchange call signs and signal reports before the QSO becomes legitimate.  
Im my opinion, everyone should at least monitor a couple of nets just to see how it works. 
To learn more please visit 3905 CC

16 September 2017

Route 66 On The Air

This past week I was thrilled to operate as W6K for Route 66 On The Air. I tried to go operate from the famous Round Barn in Arcadia, OK, that just wasn't possible this year.
So I went down the road to Pops. I thought that I took a pic of the giant soda bottle but I guess I didn't
Then I followed Route 66 all of the way through Oklahoma City until I got to the Lake Overholser Bridge just west of Bethany, OK.
Few signs are better than a Route 66 sign. 

 The actual bridge. Bridges like this take me back to my childhood in Clayton, OK. They had a single span blue bridge that was fun to drive over.
The sign that welcomes you to the park. 

Nothing like an Oklahoma sunset. 

 This is me operating PSK31 with a Elecraft KX3 and a Buddistick.


05 May 2017

20 Meters

This afternoon and evening 20 meters was doing real good. I assaulted the atmosphere with a destructive 4 watts.  Hope I did not do any permanent damage to the F Layer but sometimes a lot of power is required. I even thought about going all of the way up to 5 watts but decided against it because I did not want to blow the other guys radio. Anyway today using 4 watts and less on JT65 at 14.076 MHz I was able to work the following DX Entities:
Canada
United States
Asiatic Russia
Chile
Costa Rica
Ukraine
Germany
Argentina
Brazil
Poland
and Mexico

It was a lot of fun watching my little signal sail over the oceans and soar over the lands.