Friday, October 4, 2013

442.1500 Repeater Antenna Service and Check Out

Here are some more Images from the 442.1500 Repeater Site.
Included are the pictures from the Facebook page and some others that were sent after the fact.


442.1500 Repeater Antenna Fixing Party.
With Kyle-KØKN, Barry-WØLHK, & Neil-KØGXL
At the St. Lukes South Medical Center, Overland Park, Ks
Wednesday 10/2/2013, we got the DB-420 straightened.
Neil-KØGXL, and Kyle-KØKN did the work and they did a terrific job !

All For Now 
Comments Invited

SmØke out.....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Work & Fun At The Same Time!

Where else can one go to work and have fun at the same time?
At Duracomm of course!
Today I am working on a very large wall of LEDs that make up a 12 ft diagonal video wall.
Yes I said 12 feet!   

P6 Video Screen
I have been putting this together for a couple of weeks now. Why it take so long you might ask?
Well the system came to me with no assembly instructions and the manuals that did come were 
in another language and very little English.  So my task was to assemble this system and make 
an English assembly document so others can do it after I am done playing with it. 

Rear View of System
The hard part will be setting up the PC that will drive this unit as I believe it uses some kind 
of RS-485 signalling to send the picture information to the screens.
I love my job! :)

All For Now 
Comments Invited

SmØke out.....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

ON BEING LUCKY - A Story by TC Dailey - WØEAJ

I’m not as lucky as my Dad was, but I’m right up there.  My Dad could walk into a dance, or carnival, or the like... win the door prize, and/or walk out with the top prize, by the very act of “being there”.  Mom said it was uncanny, and almost embarrassing.

Trash Day
I’m not THAT lucky, but growing up in the 50’s and 60’s (ham radio’wise) was definitely one of the grandest times to have been a kid, interested in electronics and radio.  Municipal Trash Collection day, in Kansas City, was on a Thursday, so along with the “other” crazy kids I hung around with, all of us would leave for school early, so we could rummage through the “neat trash” that people had thrown away, and come home with old radios, and anything else that looked electronic, for absolutely NO money, and little effort.


One of THE best parts was getting the ALLIED RADIO, Burstein-Applebee, LAFAYETTE, Jamaica Radio, & HEATHKIT catalogs in the mail, and barring a drool-cup, salivating over the radios in the ham sections (that you KNEW you could never afford).

Ham radio gear back then, seemed to be in Wrinkle Paint – so very cool and “official” looking.  Black wrinkle, Grey wrinkle, & Green wrinkle were what told you that whatever it was, it MUST be cool... therefore good.  Of course, there was National’s gunmetal silver-grey, Hallicrafters’ matte black & silver, Hammarlund’s 2-tone grey, WRL’s weird grey-green trim, Johnson’s grey & maroon, and of course Harvey-Wells’ TBS-50 et. al. in grey wrinkle with red trim.  Gonset had the mobile twins in CHROME, and Multi-Elmac made the AF-67 & 68 “Transciter”with a chrome “ring” around the face, but radios had a personality – an “identity” if you will.  Simply put, they didn't all wear the same clothes.

Harvey-Wells’ TBS-50
Oh, and there was something, about gear back then... that incredible scent of Bakelite  warm resistors, wire insulation, capacitor wax, and the heady aroma of “burned dirt” atop tubes, all mixed together in a sort of ham’s “Eau d’ Cologne du Electronique” , that to this day, makes my head swim with memories when I smell it, wafting out of the top or back of yet another radio I've resurrected, or been privileged to turn on.

Multi-Elmac AF-68 “Transciter.
I just finished putting back together, a Multi-Elmac AF-68 “Transciter.  It’s a 60 watt AM & CW transmitter that was primarily intended for mobile use.  Many hams have used them (and still use them) for an AM exciter – thus the name Transciter (transmitter & exciter) at the home station, and they are a direct comparison for the famous Johnson Ranger, which has similar power and features.  Some users of the AF-67 & 68, insist that the Multi-Elmac has better audio, but it’s up to the owner.

As a kid, I saw one in a car, parked in front of the main store of the old Burstein-Applebee (for whom I worked, later on) in Kansas City.  It was SOOoooo pretty, and just looked like the ne’ plus ultra of mobile rigs (which it was) of the time.  Not long after the AF-68 was brought out (featuring the 6m band, and leaving off the 160m band), our hobby swung toward SSB, and the concept of the “Transceiver”, putting everything into ONE box.  

The companies that didn't catch on, didn't last – heck, even some that did (National, Hallicrafters, SBE, SWAN, Eldico, Heathkit & Cosmophone, among others) didn't hold onto the market, either.  

It’s been said that the Yaesu FT-101 caused the “death of Heathkit”, and I believe they’re right.. but even those “hybrid” rigs like the Yaesu’s, Kenwoods, & Drakes have good smells and memories – Sorry, but my ICOM 756 PROII works swell, but it just doesn't have that PERFUME.

dit dit. 

TC Dailey - WØEAJ

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Day Job .....LED Lights and Water and Power!

Well I feel powerful today!  
I got to shut down a major sized fountain here in the "City of Fountains" to test one of my prototype RGB LED fixtures.

" This gift to the city in the name of the co-founder of H&R Block, Inc is located at Pershing & Main Streets outside Union Station. It features 232 jets arranged in three concentric rings within an ellipse of black granite. A thin sheen of water on the flat granite creates a mirror to reflect the monumental architecture on either side. A computer choreographs an ever-changing pattern of display. On each hour and half-hour, a five-minute "high show" presents a celebration of water in movement. The fountain was designed by WET Design, the designers of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas."
"Henry Wollman Bloch Memorial Fountain"

I am designing a LED light conversion for this fountain, one of my projects here at my day job at Duracomm. Currently there is no light show for fountain, as all the lights are incandescent warm white sealed beam lamps that are on or off. The only show is the computer generated water show as described above.
When I am done the colorful light show will complement the water show with a computer choreographed operation. This is fairly complex operation. Anyhow this is one of the many things I get to do in my day job.

Here are some of the older "super lights" in the middle of the fountain. 
16 "Big Shooters" make the big squirts - These are air driven jets here. These get changed out and new colorful LED super lights get installed. 

This is one of my prototype LED fixtures I was "dry" fitting for the conversion. Dry is the operative word here, it all was wet and under 9 inches of water. :)

This is in the pump room under the fountain.
8 high speed water pumps make the water shoot high in to the air. 232 jets make the fountain look spectacular!   

This is the mini-shooter relay panel. This is what controls the water jets on & off patterns.


Can you say explosion at a spaghetti factory!  

This where the "majic" happens, the PLC controller for the water show. 

Here is a close up of the older "super lights" in the middle of the fountain. 
"Big Shooters" make the big squirts - These are air driven jets here. These lamps get changed out and new colorful RGB LED super lights get installed. 

The fountain was completed in 2002. I am excited to get to work on this big one.

All for Now
It is back to work before the rain gets here again and I get wet.....
Comments Invited


Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Field Day Post From TC, WØEAJ - DEN

...and THIS morning, I listened to KØOJ and the AM net on a Gonset G-66 Receiver.  I got it at the Longmont, CO ham-fest; the guy had two - one he said worked, and this one "not so much"... I got IT and it's accompanying mobile p/s for $20... it looks as if it had gone through a flood or had been around some "wet".  I replaced the VERY difficult to reach "black beauty" caps, cleaned tube socket pin-jacks (a real bugger on 7 & 9 pin versions) [some of which were green], replaced one INCORRECT tube / I think he stuck it in there to make it LOOK complete... then had to try and guess which alignment coils were which, as those pages didn't download... I finally found another site which had the FULL manual (also, "not so much"), and did a cursory alignment.. maybe that's called a curse-o-ree one.  Got it kinda working... ultimately found that a .0033 tubular cap across the audio-output xfmr primary was buggered up, and the dropping resistor for the OB2 was essentially un-soldered (disintegrated solder joint) at one end... It's still a bit flaky, but worked pretty doggone well this morning.

Why'd I buy it?  My VERY FIRST Elmer; I mean the guy who FIRST showed me a real ham shack, was a chap named Carl Bruns (KØGOZ sk)... He had a '58 Buick Roadmaster (cool, in it'self), but it had a G-66 & G-77 matched pair (CHROME, yeah!), feeding a Webster BandSpanner - I mean, how cool is that - yeahhhhhhhh.  I always wanted one of these receivers... maybe because Carl had one, so now I got it... amazing critter, as it's 10 tubes, and TRIPLE conversion!  I've been running it with the Heath IP-17 HV bench supply... 12v filaments, with 210vdc @ about 70ma B+.  I still have to fix the BFO... it does work, but injection is very, very low, so I'm guessing there's yet another bad cap or resistor... or dirty pin.

TC,  WØEAJ - dit dit

PS - At the time I was sent the pdf of Carl's old QSL card, I'd just finished my 2nd. Valiant, and was LISTENING to an SX-99  (same as in Carl's shack, on the day I met him) - later on, Carl & his wife moved into a house DIRECTLY BEHIND my folks' - at 71st St, across from Antioch Middle School (Milburn JHS)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The TRN5080 Test Box Is In Da House!

Chuck - KØXM tells me the TRN5080 Test Box Is In Da House!

He says it arrived earlier today, so now we have to schedule another meeting to test it out.

So BYRG technical guys be on the look out for another meeting maker request....
/ insert Scom7K evil laugh track here: HAHAHAHAHA!

All For Now,
Comments Invited

Monday, June 17, 2013

T Carl-WØEAJ & DrSm0ke-WØNQX

Working on the next generation of SDR RadioTechnology.

YUP! We Be Monkeying Around Werk'n on Valves and Chit! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

BYRG Technical Meeting 13 June 2013

Well another BYRG Technical meeting came and went, but this one had some actual work take place.

Work you say! Yes, work. Some pictures to follow later in this installment.

Phillip - KDØIXY, Making some "adjustments", ....  NOT!
Jeremy- KDØEAV could not make this one due to some family medical issues, we 
had Chuck- KØXM, & Phillip - KDØIXY and of course DrSmØke - WØNQX. 

The Meeting was held at "The Facility" on Troost Ave Thursday Evening. These meetings are held periodically so we can get technical stuff done for the BYRG repeater group. Held mostly on Thursday nights, since that seems to be the only day we can get all of us together at one place and at one time.  

We used to hold Tuesday noon lunch meetings in NKC, as the tacos were great and cheap! We have not had one of those in some time, we may be overdue on that one. :)

Well back to the work at hand. about 2 years ago one of our group members bought a large, very heavy Motorola surplus MSR2000 UHF station from the local "batwing" shops' mini-ham-fest held in conjunction with the annual Metro Shriner-fest, since they are right next door the the ham-fest location it is only natural they hold a mini sub-fest at their place. 

Well anyhow this big upright got pawned off on us as a good candidate to replace the aging 442.5500 BYRG Flagship repeater down on the Commerce bank tower, downtown KCMO. 

Chuck- KØXM sent the rocks off in March to ICM in Ok-City for a slow re-rock of the ICMs, yes I said slow, with rock bound repeaters you don't want overnight crystals made, you want them done sloooow, that way they are most stable when you install them in your repeater.  ICMs are Integrated Crystal Oscillators.
Here is a plug for International Crystal

The ICMs are installed and are on frequency! YAY! :)
We got the excess parts removed, Chuck- KØXM had the MSF documents from 
the Repeater-Builder site printed on "Old-Man" sized paper for us old guys to see the jumper tables. 
I am just glad he did not print in size A! :)

Now on the the set up part... one thing we did not have was a TRN5080 test box for proper tune up of the receiver and exciter basic stages.  So we did it old school way with a spectrum analyzer and very careful tuning. We started with the transmitter exciter, first we checked for ICM crystal activity. We found we had a 
to install a couple of jumpers to make the unit active. After adding the correct jumpers we had a nice strong
ICM oscillator signal 12.293 Mhz it was about -60 dbm. 

Then we added a gator clip for the PTT line and went thru the stages and tuned for peak. We ended up with a -45 dbm on frequency 442.5500 Mhz signal. We stopped at this point on the transmit side since we did not have the PA and the time for final pre-selector stage setting for the transmitter. 

We moved over to the receiver side installed the ICM and the appropriate jumper to make the receiver active. We got kind of worried when I could not see a 48.538 Mhz signal from the ICM can. 

But after a quick math class 447.5500 - 10.7/3 =  145.6166 , we looked at that frequency and we had a nice -55 dbm signal there. We proceeded on to tune the front end and IF sections and at the end we got a 0.2uV over all receiver sensitivity for about 12db sinad. 

Now our young protégé, Phillip - KDØIXY was taking all this in and wondering what these 2 old guys were getting all excited about, of course he had read the instructions from Repeater-Builder site and wondered how we did all this without the TRN5080 test box. Very carefully we said. 
We should try and get one of these units.
The important thing is that we had a spectrum analyzer to go through the stages with, ultimately we will go back through the sections with the proper test box before final deployment to make sure we are on the correct peaks and valleys, as we want to get all we can out of our replacement repeater. We have it now to the point were we can add the controller and start the point to point wiring for that part of the upgrade.
And it will let us do some testing as we add the Asterisk based VoIP repeater controller to the mix.
UHF MSR2000  The new 442.5500 Repeater

Psssst! Anyone want to buy some used radio parts?

Chuck- KØXM

Phillip - KDØIXY

All For Now
Comments Invited


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2-B or not 2-B - A Story by WØEAJ

My latest "fix up".  It's all cleaned up now... works splendidly as I recall from the day I first saw one in 1962.  This receiver put ALL the others to shame when it came out.  I'd checked out a fellow's Drake TR-4C (the radio, not the car), and when I got to the 2-B he'd asked to be checked out as well, I discovered it'd been dropped, which hung up the dial-drive and "captured" the pointer, among other things.  The band switch was also appeared to have been knocked askew, which resulted in only having operation on 80m.  Upon calling him to tell him his TR-4C & PS were done (replaced a .01 that had cracked and burned where the power connector is buried) and "prettified", I gave him the bad news about the receiver as far as my estimated time to repair - he elected to not put the money into it, so I traded him straight-across... the radio for my labor bill.
Now, let me paint you a picture - it's about March of 1962, and I'm going to Navy Electronics Technician "A" school at Treasure Island, which sits in the middle of San Francisco bay.  "T-I" as it's known to "the chosen ones", was the site of a pre-WW-II World's Fair (the ISLAND was BUILT for that purpose; attached to the end of Yerba Buena island), and later became a US Naval Station - it remained such until about the mid 80's, when it was closed down and "re-purposed".
Anyway, there was an Amateur Radio club for students, out on the "city side" of the island, facing the Embarcadero, and right on the water's edge, bearing the callsign K6NCG (King Six Navy Coffee Grounds).  (I'm in "The 60's" 5th. Row, far right)  

Tom WN0EAJ - Given his license test by
Dave Sublette K9IHG (now K4TO).

NC-120 receiver, 'rescued' Heath AT-1 transmitter.
Photo from Tom WA0EAJ
Belonging to it presented some interesting benefits, as you stood your watches AT the ham shack, and were in a special barracks space, afforded ONLY for members of the club; yes, you had to keep your grades up to stay in it.  It was there, that I got my Novice ticket... I'd wanted to get it for some time, but never thought I could pass the test, but with the help of a couple of much smarter (and slightly older) guys, I would sit in the back room and practice code on the weekends while studying.  One of the guys who gave me the test, as any General class or above in those days, could administer a NOVICE exam, was Dave Sublette... Dave was K9IHG (Indiana's Happiest Guy) at the time [he's K4TO now], and he had a BRAND NEW Drake 2-B receiver.  We were all amazed at it's performance.  (the other guy was Bill Axelrod K3DDW, now K3WA)  What with a product detector, variable passband, built-in filtering, a PTO (permeability tuned oscillator) which (unlike the variable capacitor tuning arrangements of the day, did NOT drift hardly at all), and triple-conversion.  That setup meant that there were NO "images" to be found.  What you heard was "really there".  Now for you newer chaps, you don't have much problem with that these days, but in the "olden daze of yore", new Novices typically had things like Heath AR-3's, National NC-54's, Hallicrafters S-38's, surplus ARC-5 command radios and the like.. unless you'd cut a LOT of lawns, in which case you might have something better.  All of those "entry level" radios were single conversion (one IF frequency), and image rejection was something you got with "better boxes".  

Anyway, the Drake was STABLE.  Yep, it sat STILL!  After very little warm-up, it would stay pretty much where you'd put it.  A few diehards were still running AM, but most hams had moved up to "Donald Duck", "Slopbucket", or "Single Slideband" [sic], so you needed a receiver, where you didn't have to CHASE the signal's center. 

 The Drake also had what other VERY EXPENSIVE receivers had, and that was a product detector; don't know what that is?... In the aforementioned 'olden daze', in order to copy CW and SSB on a receiver, you turned the BFO on, then turned the RF gain all the way DOWN, and the AF gain all the way UP.  At that point, you used the RF gain as the volume control to avoid distortion and overloading, as this effectively killed the AGC/AVC action of the radio.  Well, the product detector MIXES the BFO with the signal out of the IF strip, as opposed to INJECTING it; this means you keep your AGC/AVC action, and the radio provides about 2 "s" units of [effective] gain, over the previous method.  Yep, all new receivers use PD's, except in the AM and FM modes.
Meanwhile, back to the bench - I had to remove the outer case, which was held on by SEW* screws (*somebody else's & wrong), then remove the whole front panel, which fortunately, Drake had designed to come off without a lot of theatrics.  Some bodywork on a corner, and then reforming the top (it'd been bowed down from the drop-impact) with the aid of a padded hammer, and a cloth-covered  piece of oak (doesn't scratch the paint) was a trial, as it's got 3 pieces of metal welded together on the upper portion of the panel, AND a dial window to deal with as well - and that makes it tough to "unbend".  Eventually, the sheet metal all assumed a darned close straight aspect and the tuning pointer for the slide-rule dial moved without hanging up (using some 600 grit sandpaper over the top of the backplate, upon which the pointer is pulled back-and-forth, makes things much smoother, by the way!).  Then the bandswitch - hmmm, why doesn't it work on the other bands?  Inspection revealed some oxidation on the rotary contacts; a couple of these had enough friction that they pulled the "squish contacts" out of alignment as the rotating contact went through them.  Using a couple of scribes, and some mini hemostats (Kellys), I realigned each of the offending contacts until they mechanically operated correctly, THEN sprayed the wafers with DeOxIT (wonderful stuff - CAIG Labs).  It came to life in a big way, but still had intermittant crackling and static, which was traced to the tube-sockets.  Some investigation on the Internet reveals that MANY of the Drake tube-radios had problems with oxidized tube-socket connections - the cure (for me) is to clean the tube pins with a softer bronze-bristle brush (Harbor Fright), then wipe a thin film of CRAMOLIN (Caig Labs... but they don't make it anymore, so use DeOxIT) on the pins with my thumb and forefinger tips.  Insert & remove the tube several times, and it will cure the problem - which it did.  The sensitivity and selectivity is now right on the money 51 YEARS LATER!  Finally, I got to wash the panel, knobs, and sliding-scale (it's how you set the calibration with the 100 kc xtal calibrator) which made them look NEW.  A liberal application of "Simple Green" on a rag, cleaned somebody's cigarette smoke deposits off of everything; the tubes were washed with it as well.  CAUTION:  ONLY CLEAN ONE TUBE AT A TIME... MANY tubes have water-soluble markings, and if you don't remember which type it is, you will be presented with a handfull of very clean vacuum tubes, with NO MARKINGS to identify them!  Most all of the GE types in this radio experienced this... the RCA's kept their markings!
I still have to get the outer case repainted in the classic Drake Semi-Gloss Black, but operationally, it's terrific.  This receiver was a watershed moment in Ham Radio, as it incorporated advances in technology which were previously found only in Collins and military gear, and although it would receive AM, was expressly designed for CW and SSB use, also having the ability to add additional bands, simply by changing crystals.  It was light, compact, and didn't outrage your electrical bill, and had 1 KC READOUT on the dial... direct!  All that for $279 - a lot of money at the time, but a whole lot cheaper than a 75S1 Collins.
After getting it done, I just had to Email Dave and tell him that after all those years, I finally had a Drake 2-B, just like HIS.  Dave was my mentor at T-I, and with Bill, essentially opened the door for me in ham radio; he's a good friend and fine guy who just celebrated 50 years of marriage to his honey... Yes, he DID laugh about it, and chided "Wow, and it had 1kc resolution... right there on the dial!"
dit dit

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More on the SDR USB P-25 Radio Scanner

Well after pulling a all-niter on the hardware side. I believe finally I have all the bugs worked out of the control radio side of the P-25 SDR radio scanner.
 I at least now have proper decoding of the control channel from the SDR USB stick.

Raytown TRS

Here is a screen capture of the decoded signal. for now proof of concept was done with the Raytown Public Safety TRS, as it is in my back-yard signal wise and a very stable one at that and has plenty of radio traffic to see things happening.

Anyhow now to get the traffic radio going and following the signals of the control radio.
For now I will concentrate on the analog TypeII trunked signal so I can work out the talk group following side of the scanning procedure.  Then I will fire up the Cygwin and DSD "The Majic Sm0ke" decoder and see if we can follow some P-25 traffic using nothing more than a free windows PC box and some cheap SDR USB radios bought from a Canadian internet store.


The "Hardware" SDR Stik is in lower center right corner.

Still right now I only have about $60 in hardware invested in this thing.

All For Now
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