Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Domain!

I've decided it's time to add a little flexibility. I've got a new domain and you can find me at I'm still working on integrating the new blog so for now you can follow the continued ramblings at Hope you enjoy the new look.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Aliiiiive...Pt 2 (or so)

On Thursday I ordered an OpenTracker+ from Argent Data System. I couldn't believe it with yesterday being Good Friday but it arrived in the mail today. From CA no less!

It took me about an hour to assemble. I realized after I'd already connected it to my FT-8800 that I hadn't done a power check of the IC socket. Whoops. Oh well. I didn't let any smoke out.

Seems to be working like a champ. I only configured it for a quick smoke test. As you can see below I have a mixed status. This image actually shows the last update from my TinyTrak. However, it's added the comment I put in to indicate it's coming from the OT+. I guess it just appended it to an existing entry. That sort of surprised me but it does seem to be working.

OpenTracker Initial Update

I'll put the radio in the unit in the truck tomorrow to see if it tracks like it's supposed to. I really hope this unit works with the M120 since I still haven't been able to get the TinyTrak to work with it.

One thing about soldering so close to bedtime is that I think I'll sleep good. :-P

I also did a little work on the rotator issue. I pulled the Hy-Gain Ham IV rotator that I have and put connectors on the cable coming out of the rotator and a small section of cable to the controller. I powered it on and it buzzes when I hit the break release but nothing seems to move when I try to turn it either direction. I'll have to play with it more tomorrow. I was too anxious to put the OT together so I didn't troubleshoot it any.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cookin' with Fire!

There are a few repeaters in town that I have a difficult time hitting with any consistency. I've had good success for the most part with my Diamond X300 vertical but for repeaters in other counties I struggle. I decided it was time to make a change.

On the way home from work today I stopped by a friend's and bought a Cushcraft 4-element 2M beam from him. I threw it up on a 20' portable mast and actually guessed the right bearing for the main repeater I was after. I was surprised when I put the compass on it and realized I was right on the money.

Cushcraft  124WB

I dropped the power on my FT-8800 to low power (5W) and called another buddy that lives closer to the repeater to give me a radio check. On 5W both transmit and receive were pegging the meters! I'm thrilled. Such a simple solution and the problem is solved.

The next step is to affix the mast so it's not just bungie corded to the eaves. :-) I also need to put a rotator on it to get the full use of it. Of course both of these mean getting in the attic to run cable and it's already too hot for that. Not sure when I'm going to get around to it now.