FT8 it’s a drug

I have always despised digital modes in hamradio. Somehow I was convinced that digital is not the true hamspirit. I love when you hear the noise on analogue modes and turning all that knobs and pushing buttons. It’s that feeling that I associated with hamradio.

I tried several times to get WSTJ-X (the software that runs digital modes) running with my Yaesu 817ND in combination with the WolphiLink interface, but I was not able to. Apparently OH8STN was able to connect a notebook via the WolphiLink, I couldn’t reproduce it. So I discarded the whole idea. Here and there I tried Droid PSK via my smartphone but I was not convinced and it was not really fun to do.

Then my new rig arrived. I got myself an ICOM 7300 and after some nice SSB sessions I said, let’s try that digital thing again. Well, I got hooked!

I live in a pretty bad location regarding propagations. I can’t even talk to my ham colleagues in the neighboring town via VHF. I am surrounded by mountains. I see a bit of the horizon in the North-West and East. When I started WSJT-X, I was surprised. I worked all the world (except Oceania) from my crappy location, with my miniature EFHW multiband. I had some issues which I will describe in a future post and how to set up the ICOM 7300 in combination with Log4om and WSJT-X.

Over the past few days I already was able to get some awards for digital modes. This gamification is really addictive and you spent hours and hours watching the waterfall and the CQ calls on the bands. The worst thing about this is, the band conditions get better in late night/morning hours, so I am really tired lately! Everytime I plan to go to bed I see a new DXCC popping a CQ call…

The good, the bad, the Buddistick

For those who follow my blog for some time, probably already have an idea that I am really interested in a QRO capable portable vertical antenna. So, last few months I was busy rebuilding a Buddistick type of antenna but I was not able to replicate a usable system for tapping the loading coil. I have to admit, BuddiPole did a clever job with those screw-on coil taps.

Buddipole, here, take my money. I lost the battle, after hours and hours of 3d printing and tinkering.


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2m Yagi for portable SOTA

Modular 2m Yagi for portable use

Building a portable Yagi Uda antenna was actually THE reason why I got my 3d printer. My first project was a fail. Since I wanted an antenna design that uses elements that can be split in half for easier packing and carrying around.
My first try was with aluminum rods and drilled holes. I cut a thread in them and used a threaded rod to connect the elements. It did not work out as I dont have a drillpress and can’t cut threads 100% perpendicular by hand. So the project laid around until recently.

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LED switcher as a power supply

Using your radio at home requires a power supply. Since I got my Yaesu 817 I have always used a battery. And since I got my MX amp for the radio, my batteries drain quite fast. I can barely run a day.ย 

Talking with my ham-friends, one gave me a great idea. Why not use a LED switcher as a power supply? They deliver up to 14V and are available in all kinds of power variations.

12V 40A

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I got a new callsign

Back this summer, I passed my A level exam. Now I finally got my license. Since then I haven’t got time to push that topic further and to finish the bureaucratic stuff. Nevertheless, today my new license arrived and I am really thrilled about it!

So, my new callsign is 9A5ALX

Since my blog is running on 9A3AKF, I have to take another domain and do a redirect to this one. So my blog will be also available through 9A5ALX.com.

Now is time to change my callsign on all platforms, DMR, and logbooks. That’s the more unpleasant work I guess.


Winding the coil

Well, it was more of a hassle than I thought. The wire has springy tendencies and after I winded up almost 3/4, it sprang off the coil and tangled all together. Fortunately, I had enough wire left to try again. I laid out the wire on my yard to remove any coilings and windings. It helped a lot to remove out the tension from the winded up wire.ย 


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Building a Buddi stick clone

source: buddipole.com

For a long time now I am drooling when thinking of vertical whips with tappable loading coils. I got the 3 band vertical from QRP guys but the setup is really annoying. Especially when hiking and trying to set up the antenna on spots, where vegetation took over. Lying down the radials, setting up the wire on a pole or tree, it takes a lot of times and costs a lot of nerves. Often I end up cursing because everything got tangled into the bushes.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a whip for HF? Yes it would. But there is no way I am paying 130$ and more for that…

Well, there is this 3d printer in my basement and…

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Yaesu 817ND protection frame

When using my trusty Yaesu 817ND in the field I often struggle with the fear that it may drop on a stone or gets scratched through other equipment. Also, the 817ND is quite small, so using the front panel is also a pretty cumbersome job, especially when the panel is not elevated from the ground. I always used my portable battery bank as an elevator for the radio, so I can reach the front panel knobs and buttons. But it was mostly a frustrating thing because it tended to slide down or fall of.

I often watched at those aluminum framings on the internet, but paying astronomical prices for them was a no-go. That money can be spent on other stuff that I can’t build myself – let’s say a SpiderBeam 12m pole. I really want that pole, I hope I’ll get it this year.

Anyway, after I got my 3d printer a whole new world opened up. I looked up on Thingiverse for usable rails to just print out, but the available files were not really useful to me. So I fired up my CAD software and designed the rails for myself.

The first version was a bigger rail without foldable legs. I really liked it, the radio looked sturdy and bigger as it is. But when looking at it, it was kind of too big and somehow neutralizes the advantage of the 817 which is its compact size.
So again I started to redesign the frame and wanted to add legs which don’t make the frame wider as it is but are rather integrated.

As for now, I am very happy with the result. I am still waiting for a shipment of better printing materials to make the frame even sturdier and more shock absorbing. The current materials should not be exposed to direct sunlight in the hot sommer, nor left in the car in the direct sun. I have to try out other materials though.

If you are interested in those rails, contact me via the contact form.

All the best,
Aleks / 9A3AKF