Radio Woes

I recall making a post on the QRZ Forums asking the question, “What’s the draw to ARRL Sweepstakes?” It drew a wide range of comments and opinions from both the contesting crowds and the LIDs making off colored comments. Now that I have participated for 3 years I understand the interest and why so many enjoy this series (CW & Phone) of contests. Unfortunately for me this weekend for the phone portion of the contest it would have been better to watch from the sidelines.

I was handicapped going into the contest with a Yaesu FT-1000MP that had no 15M, seems I have a Local Unit that has failed in the radio. Oddly enough, I did report it working for the entire CW contest just 2 weeks ago. I also figured out my antenna issues on the SteppIR BigIR. It see the Copper-Beryllium tape that extends up the fiberglass tubing has come loose and was twisted inside the EHU. I also noted quite a bit of moisture in the housing, which is also a cause for concern. The moisture seal around the EHU seemed to be intact, might require a closer look before I make repairs on the tape.

While I will have a full SS Phone write up later in the week, it was not a good contest weekend. There was some hope beginning the contest on Saturday as I had 3 good hours, unfortunate with the lose of 15M on the rig I could only S&P on 10M and 20M. Still it was a better performance than how I started last year. Dropping the SteppIR BigIR revealed the copper tape problems minutes before the contest, so I erected the Alpha Delta DX-EE for the possibly use of 40M. No one could hear me.

Sunday was dreadful, disappointing and discouraging (enough of the ‘D’ words). I got a late start and when I finally did start the money bands were 10/15M, not 20M, but it was here I could only operate. So I put in maybe 2 hours and called it quits. The “fun factor” was lost and I was not enjoying myself. Too many problems going into the contest, which handicapped me. I guess a saving grace would have been to run as a precedence ‘B’ (high power) over ‘A’ (low power). Not that it would have helped much, as I could work nearly everyone I heard with 100w.

There are only 2 contests that interest me the rest of the year the CQWW DX – CW this coming weekend and the ARRL 10-Meter in December. I will need to send the rig back to WA4GEG in January when he reopens his repair shop. Hopefully I can find a loaner for the time being to compete in a few early January contests.

HOAs Revisited – WWYD?

While I am not all that fond of homeowners associations, my wife and I did purchase a home in an HOA controlled neighborhood. Mind you, this was before I was active on HF (2004) and still a Technician. Maybe I did not educate myself well enough before our purchase, but after some 5 months of looking this was the best house of the many we had toured. I will take all the blame for getting myself into this rule dominated agreement.

It’s always fantastic to see ham operators working with their HOA in order to put up antennas or possibly in some cases a tower. I believe I could make a very convincing case to the HOA as to why I feel a tower would be more feasible over a mast, but that’s a discussion for another day. I happened to read a story from KF7NUA titled, HOA response to my question at a meeting they had – WWYD.

Nick approached the HOA to install a UHV/VHF antenna. He seemed to get lucky when the architectural committee member he spoke with mentioned he used to be licensed. He said he would look into for KF7NUA and get back to him. In the meantime, Nick picked up a Cushcraft R7 vertical.

It’s interesting to read the response from the committee member, citing from ARTICLE IX, OTHER RESTRICTIONS, “no antennae shall be above the roof line parapets, and all satellite dishes shall be in walled areas not visible from other Lots or streets.” Based on that alone Nick is in very good shape, in my opinion.

Now my HOA most likely varies, but the HOA did not care what could be seen from the backyard, they were only concerned with “curb appeal.” Thankfully my original proposal has a 6BTV, ground mounted just off center in my backyard and it was not visible from the front of the house.

In Nick’s case I don’t believe I would have even approached the HOA regarding ARTICLE IX, especially if I knew it was not going to be above the roof line and not able to be seen from the front yard. Would I be right? Probably not, because the first part of that section also says, “without written consent of the Developer or Association.” But still things are definitely in Nick’s favor.

With success in presenting my proposal and getting the association to agree to it, I feel I have knowledge to pass on to others who might be in similar situations. I don’t like compromise antennas, but when you live under CC&Rs you need to make some. I still think the flag pole vertical is an excellent way to go if you are denied by the HOA. Wires in trees are usually the simplest and more effective way to “get on the air” if your proposal is not accepted.

I think he will end up beating the HOA (by working with them) and be able to raise his antennas as pe his CC&Rs. While the obvious answer is not to buy in an HOA controlled neighborhood, sometimes that is not possible. Thankfully there are some caveats made that could potentially get you on the air. Don’t hate the HOA, but work with them and with your neighbors. You can read my saga with my HOA.


Frequenting the QRZ Forums I ran across a post from VE6WTF regarding Prypiat, which housed a gigantic Duga-3 over the horizon radar, known as the “woodpecker” back in the 80’s by those who heard it. The images are amazing!

I became quite impressed with the images on the site, known as Artificial Owl, described as, “a site dedicated to provide on a daily basis a selection of the most fascinating abandoned man-made creations.” A very impressive and stunning site for those who might be into urban exploration or urbex (or UE) as it is known.

Check out some of the images!

Operating Remote!

I believe I have mentioned this previously, but I don’t remember when. Now that my rig is set up, the antenna has very good SWR and the CI-V cable for digital modes and rig control work I took the next step in the process. That would be operating remotely using VNC.

I took the recommendation of W4INF over on “The Zed” Forums and downloaded and installed a program called Real VNC. After one day of no luck in setting it up with my ATT router/modem, I was able to get it configured and running this morning before leaving for work.

The Real VNC server program is actively running on my ham radio computer and the client is now installed on my Toshiba Satellite. I was able to test it using the laptop and was successful in connecting to the server, after tweaking some firewall settings and opening the correct port for Real VNC.

Thankfully I am also “connected” using my Verizon wireless connection on the Toshiba so everything is a go and with any luck on my breaks at work from downtown Oakland, CA I should be able to make some PSK31 or RTTY contacts via my laptop. I don’t believe I am breaking any FCC rules by operating remotely like this I have checked the rules and checked the QRZ Forums and so far everything is running very smoothly. More info on my experiment later.