2020 Winter Field Day

It seems like it was just yesterday that we did this whole “Winter Field Day” thing, but in reality it’s been 365 days. With the combined gusto of everyone, and it was a great turnout, the OVEC crew has once again succeeded at “ham radioing” in a group setting.

We started coming out to the lake about 4 years ago after coming to the conclusion that we wanted our WFD OPS to not only be a ham radio operating event, but a club member social operation as well. It’s always been fun, and this year was no different.

Arrivals commenced on Friday at 4pm, when the illustrious president (KD8GQW) and associated members began showing up for check-in at our previously reserved Cowan Lake State Park cabins. The first people there had the privilege of having first pick for sleeping quarters. I arrived around 9pm to be pleasantly surprised that my fellow members had reserved the only remaining individual room with a queen bed for my wife (KD8KDT) and myself to share. We were both thankful for the quiet space to rest and relax in between doing the hammiest of hammy things such as eating “Sandwich”, operating the radios, and shooting the breeze with the other members. We went to bed at 4am, which may have been a bad choice on our part. read more

2018 FISTS Straight Key Contest!

https://www.fistsna.org/operating.html

The International G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest will be 2300 Hrs UTC August 31 through 2300 Hrs UTC September 2, 2018. Everyone is welcome to participate, but only the logs of those using straight keys for all claimed contacts are eligible for awards.

BANDS:
Operation is limited to 3.5, 7, 14, 21, and 28 MHz amateur bands. No WARCs bands.
Work stations only once per band.

ENTRY CLASSES:
There are three entry classes: QRO, QRP, and Club:

Entry class MUST be shown on logs to be considered for entry in a particular class, or will be assumed QRO. An entry must be ONE class only, no combination of classes is allowed.

CALL: CQ FS (short for fists straight = straight key)

EXCHANGE:
The following information must be exchanged by both stations to count as a valid contest QSO: read more

2018 Summer Field Day

^—-Click “2018 Summer Field Day” For More Information!

Well the time is here yet again, time for Summer Field Day! We will be operating in the same location as the previous two years which will be listed below. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please send us a message via our contact page or on the club repeater.

Thanks!

Ohio Valley Experimenters Club

4962 Beechwood Rd.
Cincinnati, OH

GOTA: YES

Talk-in: 445.420, 147.555, And Repeater

Contact: Ohio Valley Experimenters Club

513-461-6832

kd8lbs@gmail.com

How to Grow A Rohn 25G Tower PART 2

Welcome back! If you are reading this, you are either here intentionally or the Google machine sent you here by mistake. Either way be sure to sit down and strap in because this is going to be an exhilarating experience!

So my fancy book readings told me that due to the magical properties of  concrete, you should build a box out of rebar and pour the concrete around it. Concrete has great strength in compression, but doesn’t have nearly as much strength when tension is applied. To remedy this, we add the magical properties of steel. Steel is STRONG in tension, so by building a box out of the stuff and pouring concrete around it, the steel takes the tension and “the crete” takes the compression. By putting some blocks/bricks/books/bills under the rebar cube, it will ensure that the box sits off the gravel base and no rebar ends extend out past the edges of your concrete cube. This is important so that moisture doesn’t rot away the rebar over the years, thus compromising your tower cube and possibly the tower’s structural integrity itself.

Now if you weren’t already awe-stricken by my hole digging capabilities you will surely be amazed by my cement mixing skills.

Now, you may think to yourself “Self, I am a strapping young man and can do all that mixing with my trusty hoe and wheelbarrow without spending the $36.00 dollars required to rent a mixer for 4 hours”. To that I say you are crazier than a dog in a hubcap factory. That fancy orange mixer handled two bags of “the crete” and would have it mixed to a perfect tower cube makin consistency in under 3 minutes flat. Then you just wheel it over to the hole, turn on the rotatification mechanism, and dump her in like you would a wheelbarrow. Only a crazy person would do 50 some odd bags by hand..

I layed a tarp on the ground in front of the hole in hopes that it would catch any stray cement that tried to escape its cubical demise. This worked great since I dumped 1/4 of my first load on the way to the hole. There is a little bit of a learning curve to using the mixer. Lets all just take a minute to remind ourselves that we are, in fact, amateurs of the mysterious radio arts.

With the hole filled to about level with the wooden frame, I did many magical concrete finishing techniques to make the top of my cube look more appealing to the XYL. And lets just face it, making the tower project appealing to our XYL is really the most important part of this project. Be sure to scribble your call sign, name,  or hand prints into the wet concrete so that others in the future can have the privilege of marveling at your accomplishment. Or they can at least curse you as they try to dig it out in preparation for building that new deck where you planted your tower many moons ago.

After 24hrs it should be safe to remove the frame around the top of your cube. Since the concrete is still considered “green” at this stage, you will want to be careful not to chip the corners off of your finely crafted eyesore. It will take roughly 28 days for “the crete” to cure to about 95% of its maximum hardness. Be sure to water it a few times a day so that the top of the cube stays moist, which will aid in the curing process and prevent the top from cracking. This crucial watering is also required so that your tower will begin growing, as you will see in part 3.

In the final step of pouring your tower base, you must step back and marvel at the fine job you did. Pat yourself on the back and remind yourself that you ARE a very handy individual, and even though you didn’t get the grass mowed this week there is something much bigger growing in your lawn.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for part 3 which revolves around making it taller than 7′ above the ground!

HAMVENTION 2018!

Hey folks! It’s that time of the year again, and we are at it again printing badges to fund our club for this year’s events. Want your own custom printed ID badge? It comes with a picture of yourself on the front, two radio related logos, your name, callsign, AND a current copy of your reference license printed on the back! HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY SAY NO TO THAT?!

Come see us in the Flea Market for yours TODAY(and Saturday, and Sunday)!

73!

KD8FYT

How to Grow A Rohn 25G Tower

Well as with all flowers, spring is the best time to get them in the ground, and a Rohn tower is no different. You must make sure to plant no sooner than the final frost, or there is risk of your antennae wilting and falling off the tower.

Joking aside, we have lived in this house for 5 years and my Rohn tower has done nothing more than sit under the deck and collect more tower sections as I take other towers down. This is all well and good, but as an amateur radio operator I should probably have a place to put my antennas. So let it begin…

Step one when building a tower is finding a good place to put it. I did that, so step two is DIGGING A HOLE.

Now there are 3 main ways to dig a hole in the crust of our planet, but the most efficient one is to rent a backhoe and pay a man or woman to do it for you. Well I am cheap and slightly overweight, so the next best way is with shovels and a lot of hard labor. I dug this hole over the period of a year. I dug half one day in August of 2017, and the other half today!  Shovels opted for were a round nose, square nose, and a non-shovel, the “spud bar”. Little known fact of the spud bar, it will destroy you. A few hours of using it to bash rocks, and break dirt will turn even the manliest of men into a crying toddler, much like myself. That aside, your manly essence after using one of these things will waft through the countryside, meaning all the single ladies will be bangin at your door. Married men look out, you’ll have some splainin to do…

Oh, what is that third way to dig a hole you may be wondering? With your hands. Yeah, good luck with that.

Success! Hole dug, and sides cleaned up so that only compacted “undisturbed” dirt is visible and will contact the concrete. This will keep the tower brick nicely planted and solid in the earth’s crust. If you have loose dirt or a sandy substrate, go look elsewhere for hole digging information because I don’t know anything about that. I live in the Midwest, and here we have CLAY.

The next step, so says the internet, is to build some manner of box around the top of the hole. This is so that you have a nice looking brick where it exits the crust, and to give the edges some nice sharp corners so that they are more solid and resistant to cracking and other stuff concrete does when you don’t pour it correctly.  Bust out that bubble level and make sure that the tops of these boards are all mostly level, and slightly sloped one way or the other. Seriously this isn’t rocket surgery. The slope gives the water somewhere to run off the top of the brick so that it doesn’t puddle around the base of your tower legs and “rottemout”.

Although the tower instructions don’t specifically say to do so, I am a perfectionist, as you can clearly see by the pile of random tower and antenna parts in the back of most of the pictures. I lowered my calibrated child into the hole and measured the depth to make sure it cut mustard. Calibrated children are the old-school way of measuring tower crust holes, although depending on your child the depth may vary. Please make sure your child is removed before the next step.

In order to allow any accumulated water a place to drain out from the tower legs, its a good idea to put 3-6″ of gravel in the bottom of your crust hole. Grab your rarely used tamper and tampify that gravel. Then set some bricks down in there and jam your tower in top. The bricks do nothing more than hold the tower above the bottom of the hole, and will really not provide anything structural once the concrete is poured. Which brings me to my next tip, you will never get these bricks back so make sure they aren’t your good bricks for when guests come over. They are about to be attached to the bottom of a 3500lb tower cube.

And this is where I left off for the day. All in all a fine day’s work, and my body is aching so I will probably cry myself to sleep tonight. The only step remaining is to jam some rebar pieces in the hold and through the tower which will add structural  strength to the concrete cube. Concrete and rebar have a symbiotic relationship. Without concrete, rebar would not exist. Without rebar, concrete would crumble and fail.

Time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. My only hope is that the whole adage of “antennas erected in acclimate weather work better than those in nice weather” doesn’t apply to towers. Because I’d prefer that this tower doesn’t collapse the first time I climb it…

Coming up, the liberal application of hand mixed concrete! Why hand mixed? Because I hate my body and wan’t to save a buck..

73!

Repeater Live Feed Functional!

Well as with many things, getting the live audio feed from the repeater working ended up being a fiddly process, but it was a learning experience every step of the way. Feel free to check it out on the right side of this page!

The current setup is a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian, with an older scanner feeding the audio into the Pi, and then being uploaded using DarkIce to the Broadcastify servers. This offers a pretty small physical footprint, with low power usage, and makes it relatively bulletproof. In the future I look forward to getting everything reconfigured utilizing a USB SDR receiver, which will eliminate the need for the external scanner and the required power, since the USB SDR stick will be powered off of the Pi itself!

Once I finally get all the little bugs worked out from this project, I hope to build up a second Pi with an SDR receiver that can be web controlled. But, we shall see!

Thanks and 73!

Operation “Ham Shack Move” 1.1

Well with a little bit of free time on my hands I decided that it was time to move to the other side of the basement and set up a much more well organized and layed out shack/lab space for my projects.

The bench area has been my first area of concern, mostly so that I can secure comms and music before anything else. Without comms and music, working in the shack is a rather boring prospect. To hold me over, I have the trusty Motorola Radius SP50 mounted to the bench  so that the club repeater can be actively monitored. My bookshelf speakers and monitor have been mounted to the wall an effort to keep the bench as clean as possible. The bookshelf speakers obviously supply the music.

A shelf has been mounted under the bench in a continued effort to keep the top of the bench as clean as possible. The shelf houses the audio amplifier which drives everything from the computer audio/radios/turntable into my speakers, and keeps wires off of the floor.

The left side of my bench is going to be used for electronics troubleshooting, repair, and prototyping, and the right side as my primary operating station location. I decided that having multiple monitor/computers could be a pain, so to keep things simple I opted for a monitor mount with a movable arm and wireless keyboard/mouse combo. This allows me to move the monitor to the left side when reading schematics and troubleshooting, or back to the right when playing radio.

I also saved big money at Menards and bought 2 LED light strips and mounted them up in the joists. By mounting them closer to the back of the joist, I was able to minimize seeing them directly, which makes it much easier on the eyes. I’m really pleased with how this came out, as it does a fantastic job evenly lighting the whole work space with minimal glare. They are not only very small, but can can be daisy chained which significantly reduces wire runs. Each box comes with a light assembly, power cord, 6″ “daisy chain” cord, and all mounting hardware. You can also plug one light straight into another making one long light strip like I’ve done here.

At 11 dollars a fixture, it’s is one heck of a bargain.

Well so far that’s where I stand! I hope to have most everything set up by the weekend  so that I can attend the local 10m net. We shall see!

Upcoming Club Meeting…

The planning for Hamvention continues, and shall be the hot topic for our upcoming monthly club meeting on Wednesday, 4-11-2018. We plan to cover our badge printing procedures in order to speed up the process, and to prevent any long wait times like we experienced last year. Thanks to everyone that bought a badge from us at the 2017 Hamvention, and for your patience while we tried it out for the first time!

Unfortunately there is no power for us to use in the outdoor flea market area, so OVEC solved the problem by building our own power system! It consists of 4 deep cycle marine batteries, a battery monitoring system, and an inverter system to run the printers and laptops. At night we wheel the entire power cart over to the booth of our friends at the HamRadio360, and The Workbench Podcasts where it gets a good recharge for the next days activities! Thanks KF7IJZ for the literal “hookup”.

Thanks and hope to see you there!