FT-847 Anyone?

So, I figured I might as well ask here… Anyone looking for a gently used, beautiful Yaesu FT-847 transceiver? If so, let me know by dropping me an email. Asking price is $950 shipped CONUS. I can post up pics if you need to see them.

Posted in General

Antenna choices

Here’s the big question. Do I drill a hole in the brand new vehicle to mount an antenna? Well, my decision was made much simpler when the wife was asked her opinion. She answered me with the stinkeye. So, after evaluating the pros and cons of multiple different antenna type, mounting locations and choices, I have decided to try out something I thought I would never waste money on: A through-the-glass antenna.

Specifically, the Larsen “Kulglass” KG2/70CPL antenna. I’ve always thought of this type of antenna as a compromise, and a poor one at that, and I guess my opinion hasn’t really changed. It’s more that my priorities have changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. I generally spend most of my drive time listening, since I’m going in early enough that most of the other “morning drive crew” are not on the road yet, and I come home before they do. Therefore, I transmit from my mobile very little.

Most of my operating is done in the shack and that’s where I’ve concentrated the effort on good, efficient antennas. To my mind, right now, it’s not even a possibility of permanently mounting an antenna in the middle of my roof. Maybe after a few years when the truck is paid off, but not right now.

The only issue I’m concerned about is the glass itself. The truck is Continue reading

Posted in General

New Vehicle!

So, I’ve found that I’m not getting in or out of the ’08 Avenger very easily any more. I don’t know whether it’s because of my 6′ 4″ height, combined with my age or the accident, but I’m going with the accident. So, this past weekend I traded it in on a new F-150 Super Crew pickup. The kids are digging it because there’s a ton of room in the back seat for the gargantuan mutant 13-year old (he’s 5′ 10″ now!!!) and his brother so no more cramped little bodies. I can also get in and out of it easier. The wife thinks it’s sexy too, but I digress…

Got the FT-350R out of the Avenger. Now all I need to do is figure out where to mount it in the truck and decide what I’m going to do for an antenna. I’m not cutting an NMO hole in the roof of a brand-new truck so I’ll need to think a bit on this one. I may end up going with a dreaded through-the-glass mount.

Pics to come of the project.

Posted in General

Sorry for the lack of updates…

So I started the blog a while back with the best of intentions, but as often happens, life got in the way. I’ve spent the summer of 2013 recovering from a fairly serious motorcycle accident. I was the victim of a soccer-mom with no regard for safety who was on her cell phone while driving. To say that her judgement and ability to drive were impaired is an understatement. Long story short, she almost hit me, causing me to lay down my bike, which slid for almost 200 feet. I followed along, bouncing and skidding, for 60 or so.

I spent two full weeks in intensive care, and woke up on a ventilator. My beautiful wife at my side, I was to learn that I had four broken ribs with multiple breaks in each, a punctured lung, a lacerated spleen, and a severe myocardial contusion (bruised heart) which had caused me to go into cardiac arrest twice shortly after I arrived at the hospital. Yes, I was wearing my armored jacket and my helmet. In fact I hit the pavement head first and had I not had my helmet on, I would have been very, very dead. The helmet’s remains are a testament to that fact. If you ride, wear a damn helmet.

Three months later, I’m at about 50 percent, but I’m up and back at work. Though I haven’t posted much on the blog, I have been as active on the air as possible, given my time at home recuperating. At first, I was unable to speak well enough to use voice, due to the vent tube’s effect on my vocal cords, so CW and digital were the modes of choice. However, my voice is doing a lot better now and I’m back on the air on SSB too.

The satellite operation has fallen by the wayside, and I’ve listed the FT-847 for sale. I don’t use it often enough to justify it and it’s surplus to my needs. With life continuing to change, it’s got to go, but it was (and still is) an awesome radio.

Anyway, I’ll hopefully be posting more of my (mis?) adventures as time and opportunity permit. Thanks to all my readers for hanging around!


Posted in General

Satellite Gear Trickling In…

So, I’ve got the FT-847 in the shack and hooked up to my Mac. Running MacDoppler software to automate the satellite station (basically so I don’t have to remember all the frequencies and modes). Unfortunately, the only antenna I have right now to connect the 847 to is my Diamond vertical at the top of my tower. This works great for terrestrial VHF and UHF communication but for satellite work it’s a bit less than ideal. I can indeed hear the ISS and several other birds, but most of them disappear when at high elevations on this antenna. Such is it’s radiation pattern.

To rectify this situation (and to allow me to move the vertical back over to my dedicated VHF/UHF Earth-bound stuff radio), I’ve ordered some new antennas and coax. What’s really starting to aggravate me is how long it’s taking to get this stuff to show up. Both the Antennas.US quad helix antennas and the two lengths of LMR400 type coax ordered form Cable Experts are taking their good old sweet time to arrive.

So far, I’ve gotten the j-mount masts to mount the antennas on the roof, and the Advanced Receiver Research 70cm mast-mount preamp has shipped and will be here in two days. The antennas and coax have been in limbo for over a week with no indication of having shipped. I’ve contacted the respective manufacturers and have not received any response. Worst case is I’ll have to make a lunchtime trek to DX Engineering and pick up some coax (which I SHOULD have done in the first place), but even then it will do me no good without antennas.

Still, I think I need to be more patient, but it’s difficult every time a bird flies over and I KNOW I could hit it if only I had the right antenna…

Posted in Accessories, Antennas, General

6 Meter Antenna Work

Getting ready to do some work on the towers and get back on 6 meters. Dad left a 6 meter Ringo antenna that he almost never used in my shed, so I took it out the other day. It was tuned for the simplex calling frequency of 52.525 apparently, and had a decent SWR there, but I wanted it tuned better on our local club repeater input of 51.160. Unfortunately, the tuning stub was cut too short, so I made a new one.

Not sure if it was me taking the antenna apart to clean the oxidation off, shine it up, and retune it, or if it was the new tuning stop I made for it but i had a heck of a time getting it tuned up for the desired frequency. I went by the¬†published dimensions in the manual, but ended up having to shorten it up to 88″ from the published 110″. In nay case, the analyzer is showing it to now be relatively broad banded with a low SWR of 1.4:1. That’s certainly acceptable. I’ll be mounting this on an eave mount on my roof just under my tower. I don’t need more than 5 watts to hit any of the 6 meter repeaters in the area, so it should work very well.

In other 6 meter antenna news, I’ve decided that since I’m not sure whether the Cushcraft A503S beam is damaged, out of tune, or has a coax issue, I’m going to Continue reading

Posted in General

UPDATE: The 857 is NOT wonky

It just didn’t seem right to me, so I attached the analyzer to the 6 meter coax once more, and once more it looked fine. Then I decided to test the main 6m coax going up the tower rather than the jumper that extended it to the operating desk.

Bingo! Total failure of resonance. The antenna is apparently out of adjustment since it’s not showing resonance anywhere in the 6 meter band. it’s approaching a low of 5:1 somewhere around 79 MHz. More info exactly when I get the new Rig Expert AA-54 analyzer, which is on the way from Array Solutions.

To verify these findings, I set up the 857 to my buddipole antenna, which I first tuned to a 1.2:1 match using the analyzer at a frequency of 50.250. The 857 didn’t put out any spurious garbage, and transmitted at full output power. I believe the SWR was high enough with the 6m Yagi that the rig was folding back on output power on SSB. THe 857 has since been re-mounted in the shack.

What to do with the antenna then? Well, the Minister of Finance (my wife) has approved an expenditure of funds to procure a new SteppIR antenna. I now must decide if I want to pull the Mosley down too (it’s working great) and stick the SteppIR up in place of it and the Cushcraft 6m beam. I could stick with what I’ve got and re-adjust the 6m beam and be good, or I could go hog-wild and throw a SteppIR up and get access to bands I don’t currently have.

It’s really a tough decision for me. What do you think I should do?

Posted in General

The 857D has become wonky

The Yaesu FT-857D in my shack is a gently used unit I got from my father, KB8VKH. It was hardly used and only ever on 2 meters and 70 cm as far as I know. I use it mostly for a backup and for the FM easysats, and have never had any complaints. Up until last night that is. Last night I got up on a local 6 meter sideband net and started receiving all kinds of reports about my audio being “weird”. I tried all sorts of troubleshooting and corrective actions. The antenna was connected to my FT-950, which is running off of the same power supply and I was told that I was putting out a great signal with excellent audio. That ruled out the antenna, feed line, and power supply. Basically it all boiled down to the radio itself.

Then I started to do some research and it appears that quite a few owners of early FT-857D radios were experiencing the exact same issue of sideband distortion that I was. Their issues came down to their radios being seriously out of spec and having not been properly aligned before leaving the Yaesu factory. Unfortunately, with my big ham fists (no pun intended) I lack the desire to attempt to re-align it myself.

I contacted Yaesu and inquired about shipping it back for repair. Fingers are crossed that I don’t need to drop a lot of coin to have it fixed. If the issue is indeed the alignment thing, I would hope that Yaesu would be kind enough to fix it on their dime. I think that would be the fair thing to do.

Posted in General, Radios

The new radio is here…

Picked up a new Yaesu FTM-350AR dual band (actually tri-band) mobile rig. It’s sitting on the bench programmed and ready for installation in the Avenger. Hopefully that will happen today. So far, I’m loving it. I still don’t know about any of the APRS stuff though. I had that all set up with a Kenwood TM-D700A years ago, but it was too much of a distraction while driving, and the APRS updates butting in all the time was a bit annoying. The primary reason I picked this model was for the ginormous display, and it doesn’t disappoint. Also, full duplex receive and cross band repeat capability are nice features. I will likely install the Bluetooth module as well. Stay tuned, more details and a review to follow.

Posted in General, Info, Radios

Working on working the ISS

So, I’ve been looking for the angle to work to spark the ham radio interest in our 12-year old son. I think I may have found it, and it’s space. I was just like him at that age, and was


A replica of OSCAR-1, the first ham radio satellite.

fascinated by the new Space Shuttle program, and had been eagerly soaking up all I could find on the field of human space exploration. At one point, I announced that I wanted to be an astronaut!

Sadly, that would not come to pass, but through amateur radio, if I can’t BE an astronaut, I can at least TALK with them. Hams have a somewhat long history of space communications, and we launched our first ham radio satellite, OSCAR-1 ( for “Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio” ) in 1961. Since then, amateur radio operators have been on the cutting edge of space communications. We’ve launched dozens of satellites, and through them, hams have made thousands of contacts with other hams all over the world.

Starting with the Russian Mir space station, most larger manned space flight missions have carried amateur transceivers and antennas on board. The SAREX program carried amateur radio equipment on most Continue reading

Posted in Antennas, General, Info