With my transceiver still being repaired and the loaner rig I had back to it’s original owner (Thanks K6GT), I have been without a radio for about 3 weeks now. It’s not all bad, as it gives me time to do some housekeeping around the shack, which includes cleaning up my electronic logbook developed by Scott, N3FJP.

Unfortunately, I was not happy to see I had subscribe to QRZ if I wanted to automatically update my logbook with information about each individual I contact. While I haven’t found an good answer, unless Scott decides to add another callbook to the list. Thankfully belonging to NCCC and CWOps, I ran across HamQTH, which was mentioned on the reflector.

Unlike some of the callbooks, like QRZ and Hamcall, HamQTH is free! Not only is it free, it’s fast and not not cluttered like some other callbooks I have used. You can easily register and edit your profile (view W6ONV), much like I did to include as much or as little information as you want.

Adding a profile is optional, but looking up a call sign will provide you with the basic information needed to fill in any electronic logbook. The other neat features of HamQTH, being able to view solar condition predictions, recent activity as well as search a logbook for call. Again, these are all configurable depending on the amount of information you want to share.

Petr, OK2CQR is the owner of HamQTH and has enlisted the assistance of Dan, OK1HRA who “created the design of the front page and all logos. He has very a good sense of graphics, colors and user interfaces” and Martin, OK1RR who “provided me with an advice how to download callbook databases from the internet. He helps me with application testing and my poor English.” We can’t forget the moral support of Petr’s XYL, Misa (OK2-36141). If you want a fast and simple callbook that “provides all information, including XML queries for free” check out HamQTH. Great work by those involved, you have a full time user in me!

Solar: A Viable Option?

Recently a discussion on the NCCC Reflector was from Ken, N6RO “going green” and installing a massive solar system to help power his super-station. Considering he seemingly hosts operators on a regular basis and the price of energy continues to escalate. He posted all the details  of construction and the system as well as usage projected usage stats and price compared to when the system will start feeding power back to the PG&E power grid here in Northern California.

I was on QRZ.com and stumbled upon a post by Russ, KD0EIA and the need “for HAMS to get their stations powered by alternative energy.” I completely agree with his assessment. One of my arguments when I went before the HOA was the “first responder” fact. Unfortunately if something happens and power goes out, I too will be without communication since I do not have a generator or any other alternative source to power my station. Thankfully I can use the FT-857D in my truck in a pinch, but solar is probably the way to go.

Unfortunately one of the sticking points for me right now, the price point. While I don’t need a massive solar array or enough power to generate electricity to the entire house, but I would like to start out by providing enough solar power to keep my station running (with or without the linear amplifier). Russ provides a link to his information on his QRZ profile, which is a good starting point.

Previous my interest was sparked by a post from Scott, N3FJP on the N3FJP Yahoo Group, author of the logging software. He dedicated some bandwidth to his solar projects including a hot air collector, hot water project, space heating and solar electricity. It’s interesting to do some worksheets and figure out the cost versus return.

Some sites that have been recommended: Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, Sun Electrics and Home Power Magazine. It will still take a bit of investigation and consideration before making any sort of investment. Some would argue a solar system might not be viable for ham radio. Others recommend a generator as “backup power.” Since I am not planning on powering my entire house a portable generator with a few cans of gasoline might be the way to go. Solar, even on a small scale that I am considering will probably be more than I want to invest.