Air Travel Sux…

… unless you’re flying 1st class. I can’t think of a single aspect of flying that I find even remotely redeeming. I’m at the Atlanta airport and if I get a chance I’m going to try and send out and APRS beacon.

Savannah APRS/packet is dead

I’m in Hinesville, GA (not far from Savannah) and there is no APRS coverage here. What’s up with that? It also appears packet is dead as well. You can see the lack of coverage here at aprsworld. The closest digipeaters are Walterboro, SC (to the north) and Kingsland, GA (just on the Florida border).

I’m hoping THE COASTAL AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY K4NLX AMATEUR RADIO CLUB can get something going. It seems to be an active club… just need them to put up a digipeater and an IGate.

Battery died again

I tried running PocketAPRS from the office without any luck. I’m in the middle of a second floor, not close to a window – and my building is surrounded by other brick buildings… so no real good line of sight. But all the fiddling around took its toll on the battery. After work I set the up the antenna, GPS, and radio – and after about five minutes I was out of juice.

RxPlus is now the software of choice for my TenTec RX-320. I’ve used probably a good half dozen different software programs, but RxPlus appears to top them all. It has a built in database function that allows you to pull up shortwave broadcasting schedules. Just one click and your listening to the BBC or Radio Havana. I was then tooling around the 20m SSB amateur radio band and ran across a SATERN net for Hurricane Rita. I could hear the net control very clearly… I wonder if he was in Chicago?

9pm… and time for the Hampton Roads Public Service Net on 146.97 MHz. Bruce, WB7OTQ, was net control and I got one of the two quiz questions correct. I usually cheat and look the answers up on the internet, but these two were tough… so it took some guessing.

Bicycle Mobile Test #3

Pretty much a complete success. I had a problem with the initial setup on the bike this morning which caused me a little bit of pain until I just reseated the connection on the cable running from the GPS to the radio. I didn’t wear the headset – I was running late and I didn’t want to mess with it.

I had a total of about 12 packets make it to the IGate. In addition to the position, the packet also had info on my speed, direction, and elevation. Pretty cool.

At work I was able to do a little bit of packet radio using my Palm IIIxe. I connected to the digipeater at NASA Langley (LARCND) and made it to KR4MA-1. It was slow going because I didn’t have a great signal, but it was working.

I still have plenty of juice in the battery, so I’m going to hook the D7A up for the trip home.

Tuesday Night Hedberg Talk Net

Above is a picture of my dad, KN6ILL/KD6EUG around 1954 in his bedroom Hamshack running 75 Watts input to a 4D32 Output final Tube on a HT-20 transmitter on all HF Novice Bands – using a National NC-57 for a receiver. The antenna: an 80 meter dipole up about 50 feet feed with RG-8 52 ohm coax pointing north and south with the power lobes going east and west.

Here’s KD6EUG from his Mi-Wuk Village QTH

Had an enjoyable time tonight via EchoLink talking with my dad.

Second bicycle mobile test

Bicycle Mobile – Test #2

I conducted the second bicycle mobile test this morning, again with mixed results.

– stuck the 1/4 wave mag mount antenna on the metal plate attached to the rack on the rear of the bike. I looped the feedline in an RF choke, securing the loop to the rack and then ran the feedline up to the handlebars.
– secured the GPS into the mount on the handlebars. The mount works very well.
– powered up the HT, set the “A” band to the APRS freq, started the TNC in APRS mode, changed a setting to enable data flow between the GPS and radio, and changed the frequency of the beacon to once every 20 seconds. I then powered the radio down, powered up the GPS, attached the data cable between the two, attached the feedline to the radio, powered up the radio, verified that data was flowing, then locked the keypad to the radio. I attached the connections for the headset and then placed the radio inside the bag hanging from the handlebars.
– put my headest on, then my helmet. The “B” band was tuned to a local repeater that has a morning commute net. On the “A” band I could hear APRS traffic. All good signs.

I departed the house and everything was going well until…. the battery died. I checked and was able to verify that I had one good packet that had made it out prior to the battery going out. So from the standpoint of validating the setup and getting one packet all the way through – Test #2 was a success.

Although I purchased a new battery at the VA Beach Hamfest, I still don’t have it charged yet and I had run the stock battery down last night noodling with the packet and PocketAPRS stuff. I did find the following excellent idea on one of the Yahoo forums that is specific to the TH-D7A:

From: “KC2MMi”
Date: Sun Sep 18, 2005 1:00pm
Subject: Re: Charging time?

… I’ve gone another route, made up a holder
for 10xAA cells and am looking for some black cordura to enclose it in. And
a 2A polyfuse. (Things the local Rat Shack will never carry.) My radio
will be about 2″ taller–but carry an extra 2300mA or so in an external
“foot” that way, at a full 12VDC.

The above sounds like a great idea – and is something I could also store in the handlebar bag.

Another issue I need to deal with is rainy weather. There was a slight drizzle/mist this morning – nothing to worry about. However, if I was to get caught in a downpour, my D7A would be toast. I need to look or a good solution that will allow me to keep the D7A out of the elements but still keep it in operation.

Packet, Palm & TH-D7A

Had a fun time interfacing my Palm IIIxe with the D7A. I was able to easily connect to a local digpeater (NASA Langley) and from there the skies the limit. Packet is cool because it reminds me of the old days with my Apple ][ jacking up the phone bill with calls to BBSs outside the local area.

Had a less than successful time with APRS on the Palm. Sometimes from the house I get tons of traffic and other times I can barely get the areas digipeater.

I also hooked up a KVM switch for the two computers that make up my radio room. Had an initial problem with one of the computers that’s running WinME. I had forgotten how much better WinXP is better than WinME – especially with USB devices.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to hook up my Ten-Tec RX-320.