Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gearing up for radio play

Back from Cincinnati, and have jumped into a couple of long put-off projects before re-immersing in a regular routine.

One long-desired goal is to have a ham radio shack up and operational, and I've made strides in that area.

I've opted for the classic Kenwood TS-520s or 520se as a high frequency rig. I found one of each on eBay for less than what a new bells 'n whistles HF set would cost.  They're still inbound, so I can't speak to their actual condition, but the idea is that one will be the base station, while the other will be tucked away as a back-up, perhaps stored in an EMP protected Faraday cage type package.

Meanwhile, I've scouted antenna sites, and will initially go with a wire dipole cut for 10 meters to be hung between some trees in my backyard (I'm only working under a technician class license). Getting coax out out to the site is about a 140 foot cable run. Coax isn't cheap. But I'll make the run mostly with RG-213.

Eventually, I'll probably bury the coax where it runs across the yard, but for initial set up and testing, I'm just going to skim out a narrow trench about a half inch deep and secure the cable with landscaper's sod stakes.

I've also scouted a tree where I'd like to hang a 2 meter j-pole antenna I bought last year, similar cable run, but I'm going with lower loss LMR-400 coax there.  For a 2 meter radio, I have a Yaesu FT-1900 still in the box from last Christmas.

I got my technician class license last November, and this is my first step doing anything serious with it. I did pick up a used Icom handi-talkie type 2 meter rig when I got first got the license, but the teenie-tiny digital display is almost impossible for my aging eyes to read, so I haven't tinkered with it much.

One rig I have enjoyed is 40-year-old Icom IC-502 (Not the modern marine radio) on 6 meters. Picked it up through the classifieds at Pretty darn primitive, but I've engaged in DX listening when the the band "opens up." No contacts with it yet, however. Most guys I'm hearing on the band say they're running multi-element antennas and pushing some high wattage. If my 502 is up to specs, it'll do no more than 3 watts, and I'm mostly using the built in whip antenna.

I will say, the IC-502 seems to run forever on a set of C batteries. I'm still on the first set of alkalines I popped in it back in December.

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