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Saturday, May 18, 2019

N3FJP's Amateur Contact Log Tip #1

I'm a real big fan of the Amateur Contact Log by Scott Davis N3FJP. Its a powerful logging software that is just $25 for life.  Scott is always updating the software so once you get it, check back to his website often for software updates and new logging programs.  Scott's list of logging programs cover all of the state QSO parties, and most of the major contests through out the world.  His Amateur Contact Log is for general logging.  One of the great things about it is that it is nearly unlimited in the ways that it can be customized. 

A while back I had a bad computer failure and pretty much lost my logbook on my computer.  Not really a bad thing because when I started it, I really did not know much about logging for ham radio and I was unsure of what information I wanted to say. needless to say it was a mess. So I decided just to bite the bullet and start off with a new clean slate and built up my logbook exactly how I want it.  Its not that bad because I only have 1600 QSO's so it was not very much. 

A neat little feature that I just discovered is the reason for this Blog Post.  When you enter the information to the QSO before you press the log button you can call up some stats concerning your logbook. 
If you right click on the label of the following information boxes -Country, State, County, and Grid a small pop up window will appear displaying information on how many times you have made contact with that entity, which bands and modes etc. Here is an example of the little window. 
This shows how many times I have worked the USA, what bands, what modes how many confirmed and not. Nice little piece of hidden information there for your enjoyment.  So go check out all of the logging software that Scott N3FJP offers.   

Thursday, May 9, 2019

100 Miles!

On the 21st of January I bought my first recumbent trike.  It is a Gran Turismo X16 made by TerraTrike. 
 At the time of purchase I could only ride about 1/4 of a mile before pain consumed me to the point of quitting. However I kept on pushing the pedals even when my family encouraged me to back off and take it easy before I hurt myself. I bought the trike not for fun cruising around the neighborhood.  I got it to try to get in better shape so my back would not hurt as much. It will also help me with my diabetes. As a mater of fact I have several health issues that would improve by getting more exercise. Strange thing is that I actually gained 10 pounds since I got the trike.  Pushing through physical pain, mechanical breakdowns, bad weather I pedaled my way to reaching 100 miles on my GT!
 This is a screen shot of Zeopoxa Cycling  the app that I use on my phone, it keeps track of speed, distance, calories burned, goals and a lot of other stuff. The day I got my GT I made a goal of ridding it 250 miles. I felt that 250 miles would be out of reach. I'm not so sure because I'm now able top push myself to doing 6 miles rides.

Feel free to leave any comments below or if you like, you can contact me at k5atg.aaron@gmail.com

Thursday, April 25, 2019

2019 OKC Memorial Marathon

Well it came down to a tough decision that I was forced into making.  I had to inform the fine folks of the 2019 edition of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, that I could not volunteer this year. 

On Thursday 18 April 2019, I started experiencing a lot of nerve pain all over my body. I was thinking that somehow it was my spinal stenosis causing the pain.  Regardless of what I would do, it caused a lot of pain. Just breathing is painful. Well I went to see my family doctor and he wanted to do a lot of blood tests to see if he would know for sure what is going on. At this point in time we are thinking that it COULD be a condition called Fibromyalgia which is pretty much wide spread nerve pain. We don't know for sure that it could be fibromyalgia so I'm praying like hell that I don't because I have more than enough health issues as it is. 

At this point in time, the worse part is not being able to volunteer for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. That has been the high light of the year for my amateur radio life.  My position in recent year has been helping run net control for the water and ice trucks. Volunteering for the marathon as been very humbling and each year we remember that horrible day of 19 April 1995 when we lost so many of our neighbors. We must not ever forget what happened that day when the angels heard the children cry.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 2019

Tonight I attended the pre-brief for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  There was a much larger crowd at the meeting than the meeting that we have had at previous meetings.  I see this as a really good thing as it could mean more volunteers. 

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was established in April 2001 to remember the 168 victims of the April 19 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. The first Memorial Marathon had just over 4,800  runners and about 1,200 volunteers. Today the marathon brings in over 22,000 runners, over 3,000 volunteers and many more thousands of spectators. 
This will be my 4th consecutive year of volunteering for the marathon. In 2016 I was in one of the water trucks where we drove around all day and delivered water to the various water stations along the 26 mile route. In 2017 I worked as net control in the fire fighters union hall in downtown. In 2018 I worked as net control at a storage building about a block north of the memorial its self. 

One of the true reasons why amateur radio operators are privileged to be able to operate on so many bands and frequencies, is helping out their communities.  One example is that each and every month me and my friends in the Mid-Del Amateur Radio Club and do an inspection of all of the tornado sirens in Midwest City. We also volunteer to provide communications for civic events like the Fourth of July fireworks and celebrations, Veterans Day Parade, and Holiday Lights. Besides helping the community, we volunteer to keeping practice in using our radio equipment and how to program our radios. 

Unfortunately  there are many disasters that happen all around the world. Here in Oklahoma we get more than our share of disasters. During my lifetime Oklahoma has been hit with the worst domestic terror attack in the US, A Christmas Eve Blizzard, wild fires, ice storms, severe drought, severe flooding, earthquakes, the 3 largest tornadoes in recorded history.  you get the point.

When the poo hits the fan, amateur radio operators are called in to use their equipment to provide valuable communications between all of the agencies like local fire, police, Red Cross and much more. 

Want to learn more about how you can help out? Its easy, visit The ARRL to become a licensed amateur radio operator, then once you get your license, join one or more clubs. Then become an active member of the club and volunteer for every civic event that you can. When a disaster hits, you will be ready.  If you show up to help out in a disaster and you do not know how to program your radio and you have a bad case of mic fright, how are you helping the situation?



Saturday, April 13, 2019

OzarkCon 2019

Wow, what a weekend. This past weekend I got to be one of the lucky ones in life.  I got to go with my family to Branson, Missouri for the Four State QRP Group's hamfest OzarkCon. According to official reports this year was the largest OzarkCon at nearly 200 attendees. By Ham Holiday's standard it is a very small hamfest.  However OzarkCon may be much smaller, it is more specialized and to me it was the funnest hamfest that I have been to. Because of its smaller size, only one forum was held at a time so you did not have to choose between two forums that were being held at the same time.
Our plan was to leave Oklahoma City at 6:00 am local time, but we really did not get on the road until closer to 10:00 am.  The route that we took was I-40 east to Fort Smith then various interstate, state and county roads north to Branson, MO.  It was our first trip to that part of Arkansas and we were not let down. The views of the mountains  offered post card like views around every curve. We arrived at the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center.
Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center, home of OzarkCon
I was really hoping to arrive at the hotel before 2:00 pm because I really wanted to attend the first ever QRP University. However we arrived at 3:00 pm just when QRP University was finishing up. I spent the rest of Friday afternoon exploring the hotel grounds, the swap meet/ vendor area and making new friends. One of the highlights on Friday was I finally got to meet the one and only Bob Heil K9EID from Heil Sound and Ham Nation.
Friday Evening, I got to attend the Build-A-Thon a good portion of the attendees built a kit from the Four State QRP Group. This was the third year for a Build-A-Thon was held at OzarkCon. It was a big success. This years kit was the Cricket 40 a small minimalist single band QRP CW Transceiver. This kit is considered minimalist as it only uses a total of 43 electrical components! Only 43 parts for a transceiver! It took about hour for me to finish my kit and I went to the testing area and it worked as advertised and produced one watt.
Saturday we drove around Branson for a while looking at the sights and when we got back to the hotel I got to do something that I have been wanting to do for a few year. I got to meet Bob Heil K9EID,
Bob Heil K9EID with Aaron K5ATG
Before the conference shut down for the year I splurged and bought a few kits. My plan is to cover the building of these kits as future post to this blog. The kits I got are:
Air Cannon for launching antennas
K1SWL Hilltopper 40
QRPOmeter- a swr  and power meter

So check back often to follow the progress of these great kits!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Arduino Prototyping Breadboard

In the coming months I plan to do several amateur radio projects based upon the Arduino. The Arduino is a easy to use and program microcontroller. Its low price, and nearly countless accessories make it an ideal platform to use for your next amateur radio projects.  An Arduino can be used in just about every aspect of amateur radio such as operating a beacon to making a timer to remind you to use your call sign every ten minutes. This little project is nothing fancy or extravagant. Basically all it is, is a board that has a couple of solder-less breadboards attached and some mounting screws to mount an Arduino.

We will start off with a blank board. This is just a scrap piece of pine that is about 6 inches wide, 12 inches long and ¼ of and inch thick.  I laid out the width of two solderless breadboards and cut the pine board to this width. The end of the board was just squared off and the board was cut out using a scroll saw. I then took a hand plane to the edges of the board to smooth out any imperfections from the cutting. The back of the solderless breadboards have double sided tape to allow them to be mounted on stuff. Well wouldn’t you know that I wish to mount them on something. I simply peeled off the backing that was covering the double sided tape on the solderless breadboards. Then I simply stuck them on the pine board.


Next I laid out places to drill holes to mount the Arduino. I messed up on one hole while drilling because it was too close to the edge of the board but this will not affect the end results. I drilled the holes out for the screws to mount the Arduino.














Once the holes were drilled, I inserted the nylon screws and tightened down nylon nuts to hold them in place. I used this particular hole  pattern because it allows me to mount an Arduino UNO and an Arduino Mega. The screws that i am using are nylon screws that are ¾ of an inch long and about 1/16th of an inch in diameter.
With this simple project I should have plenty of room to add wiring and components for future Arduino projects.


Arduino Uno




Arduino Mega




Any qustions or comments you can reach me at my email

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I am pleased to introduce you to the Arduino

The Arduino is the best thing to happen to amateur radio since I started writing this sentence. The Arduino is an open-source microcontroller. The open-source part simply means that anyone can program an Arduino to do what they wish it to do then they can share their work with the world. That is one of the main parts that have made the Arduino so successful. There are currently thousands and thousands of sketches (sketch is the Arduino term that we use for the code that we write to program the Arduino.) that are freely available online for anyone to use.  
  
So lets travel back in ancient history to the year 2003. During that year at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivera, Italy. The students at the institute were using the Basic Stamp microcontroller. The problem (This is my personal opinion) was that the Basic Stamp cost $50 apiece. That kind of money really cuts into the beer budget. When the students let the magic smoke out of the Basic Stamp, that really cut into the beer budget. 

As we know, when there is a beer budget crisis, things get invented to resolve the crisis. It is unethical having a bunch of university students walking around sober. A team of Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Tom Igoe, Gianluca Martino and David Mellis. They developed a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that has an ATmega 168 chip that was easy to program. The PCB also had a series of headers that allow one to connect sensors, servos, and just about anything else you can think of.  I bet that if you looked hard enough that you can find a high tech red neck in the deep south using an Arduino to brew his 'shine.  The name Arduino comes from the bar in Ivrea where the team met to design the microcontroller.  The bar was named after Arduin of Ivrea who was the King of Italy from 1002 to 1014

Today there are many cheap knock offs of the Arduino. At times you can find them for $5 each on Ebay. I highly recommend that you buy some of your Arduinos that are original. We want to keep the company in business to keep producing more versions of the Arduino. At the time if this writing there close to one million originals in the hands of electronic hobbyist.  

I just wanted to give you a short introduction to the Arduino as I have several Arduino projects in mind that I would like to do, 
If you have any questions you can contact me at K5ATG