23 December 2017

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Kind of hard to believe that the day after tomorrow will be Christmas.  A tradition that I started at my son Dakota's first Christmas is to gather my family around and read Twas the Night Before Christmas. This year will be a bit different, I will read it twice, one on my local clubs repeater (444.000 PLTone 151.4) and then later in the evening for my family. So I would just like to say Merry Christmas to all, I hope that your holiday's are truly wonderful. IF they are not wonderful, then we can just blame it on Obama Care. 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
 Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a minature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys - and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
 And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.



We had the first snow of the year.  This is becoming almost a rare event here in Oklahoma City, but we did get a dusting. We did not even get the ice that usually goes along with it.

25 November 2017

International Grid Chase 2018

International Grid Chase 2018
Aaron K5ATG

Most of you remember the year long event in 2016 for the National Parks on the Air and the popularity and momentum that it gained through out the year. 2018 looks to build upon that success with the International Grid Chase.
The Maidenhead Locator System was created during the April 1980 meeting of the VHF Working Group in Maidenhead, England. It replaced the QRA Locator System and its many problems. The Maidenhead Locator System is based on the longitude and latitude of the Earths surface. The location of each grid square is coded using alternating letters and numbers. For the purpose of the International Grid Chase only the first set of letters and numbers will be used. For example, the grid square for Oklahoma City and its metro is EM15. Philadelphia is FN20, San Deigo is DM13, Miami, FL is EL95 and such.
The objective of the International Grid Chase is to work as many grids as possible. For a QSO to count both parties that took part in the QSO must be confirmed using the ARRL’s Logbook Of The World (LOTW). LOTW is free for anyone to use, membership in the ARRL is not required.
Each month your grid totals will be recorded and added to your total count then at the first of the month your grid count will restart. Below is a short version of the rules for the International Grid Chase. For the complete list of rules please visit ARRL.org

  • All bands are allowed with the exception of 60 meters
  • All modes are allowed except through repeaters, digipeaters, Echolonk, IRLP. Satellite and EME qso’s are allowed.
  • QSO’s made during contests do count towards you grid totals
  • Fixed, Portable, Mobile and Maritime Mobile stations are allowed.
  • Each exchange must have callsign, and Maidenhead 4-digit grid-square locator. Signal report is optional. 

(This post is my monthly article for the Mid-Del Amateur Radio Clubs monthly newsletter.)

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


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