I recently upgraded my PiRLP node to a NORMAD node.

The PiRLP node provided EchoIRLP capability. With the node, I was able to use IRLP and Echolink. The PiRLP interfaced directly to my Kenwood TM-D710. I have been using the nodes from David Cameron, VE7LTD, for a number of years with only very small problems now and again.

Once I got my Davis Vantage Pro2 weather station up on APRS via the same TM-D710, I started experiencing problems with the audio output level of the PiRLP node. The big problem was that if I wanted to use the TM-D710 to get on the local repeater, I had to shut down the PiRLP node first. Not ideal.

Enter the NORMAD IRLP node. I first heard about the node on Jeff’s blog at Like my node for Wires/Fusion, the NORMAD IRLP node has a small transceiver built into it. This is a great solution. It provides me the ability to dedicate my TM-D710 for weather APRS as well as also using it to monitor the local repeater without making any changes here in the hamshack.

The primary purpose of this blog is to act as a station notebook. A log that serves as a record as to what I am doing in the shack, how I configured certain items, how I overcame obstacles that were in front of me. Admittedly I have done a poor job at keeping up. And sometimes I do not realize or remember what I have placed in the log so it could assist me in the future.

My configuration of the Normad for Echolink operations (in addition to its native IRLP ability) is a great example. I wished I had looked here first – it would have saved me about two hours. I received the Normad and swapped it out with my older PiIRLP. Got on to IRLP immediately. NOTE: here two great troubleshooting commands for trying to get Echolink working; killall tbd and tbd -ddd. The results provided by tbd -ddd show if your callsign and password are valid for the Echolink connection. A key place to start when Echolink is not working correctly.

I also enjoy using the Echolink functionality of EchoIRLP – mainly to listen to the Coffee Break net hosted by W6EK, the Sierra Foothills ARC every morning from 7:30am to 10am (Pacific).

If you are lucky, you have been involved in a truly great net at one point in your radio amateur career. The most memorable net for me was a 2m morning commute net back in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The participants were smart, well spoken, and directed the conversation to a number of topics which almost always focused on some aspect of amateur radio. In classic roundtable fashion, the conversation moved cleanly between those that checked in which allowed the focus to be on the conversation. Mark, N1LO, was one of the ringleaders. I miss those guys.

The Coffee Break Net is very similar. Check it out if you can. While the net does run on their terrestrial repeater (145.430 MHz -0.6 Offset PL Tone 162.2), you can join via AllStar (51018), Wires-X (W6EK-2M-ROOM (62545)), or Echolink (4128).

Ever been to Cornbread Road?

My favorite amateur radio blog comes from Jeff Davis, KE9V. If you have been following Jeff’s blog through the years you’ll have seen a constant evolution of his site and content. In addition to his ponderings of the current state of ham radio, Jeff has produced a number of engaging podcasts. Long Delayed Echoes was Jeff’s podcast series that covered a great deal of the early history of amateur radio. It featured selections from Clinton B. DeSoto’s 200 Meters & Down as well as other significant historical sources of ham history. In addition to his written contributions to QST (see the May 2005 issue on page 56) Jeff has also shared his talent for fiction with us. He has several other ham radio related stories that he posts now and again on his blog (… it is worth checking his blog frequently because once in a blue moon he will put links up to his stories… my favorites are QRP Christmas and Tragedy on the Trail).

Besides his blog, Jeff prodigiously uses social media and you would likely enjoy his ham radio musing that can be read via Twitter and Google +.

Jeff combined his podcast talents along with his fiction writing skills with the production of Cornbread Road. All 13 episodes of the serial are currently available and on the 30th of September, Jeff has promised us a final installment. I’m looking forward to that!

Hamvention from afar…

I was unable to make it out to Dayton but am enjoying seeing the onsite action through various mediums:

(1) – live streaming. It has been a bit hit and miss on the quality and coverage, but the feed is quite popular and it is a lot of fun seeing all the hams walking around the outdoor market. Lots of hams in front of the live feed cam seem to stand there, stare at the camera, and call home (or a buddy) to have them get on the website to see them on the live feed. At certain times the live feed appears to be an actual video version of The best part about amateur radio is the people and it is always great to see what an amazing variety of folks who share a common interest.

(2) Jeff, KE9V, is on the grounds of the Hara Arena and is frequently Tweeting and posting pictures. Jeff had an interesting picture of a vendor called Horse Fence Antennas. The product appears to be a dipole antenna that is built into what we in the Army call a cargo strap. The antenna looks a bit bizzare, but the eHam reviews are 5.0.

(3) D-STARS! I have not hooked up my DVAP and IC-92AD since I returned for Korea, but did so yesterday so I could monitor REF038C. Lots of great hamvention chatter on the reflector.

(4) I am going to look for any HF stations operating from the Hamvention. Often W1AW will setup up a special event station – those are always fun to work.

Hopefully I will be able to go next year…. 2013, Dayton or bust!

What’s going on in the hamshack?

(1) Two shelves are up. I offloaded my computer that handles the weather station, my printer, the EchoIRLP node, and the TM-D710A that supports both the weather station via APRS and the EchoIRLP node. I put wheels on the hamshack table after I moved it from the rental we were in to our current house. This raised the table to the perfect height, allowing my chair to slide under. The wheels also allow me to swing the table out to get to the back side and take care of any wiring issues with a fair degree of ease. But the weight of the equipment that piled up on the far end of the table made it hard to move. With the equipment I rarely touch placed up on the shelves, the table is much easier to move.

(2) I got my West Mountain Radio Super PWRgate PG40S hooked up. And it works! Additionaly, I have an UPS hooked up. So I should be good for backup power to run the weather/APRS station.

(3) The maps are up! I have the world map and a North America map. It looks like Millennia Arts no longer produce these maps. Who can blame them? I purchased these maps in 2006 and how many additional entities have there been since then? I’d imagine it is just not cost effective to produce up-to-date, high-quality maps like these.

(4) My kindergardener had a weekend project to collect 100 of something. Why not a 100 QSL cards? I dug through my pile pieceing together a variety of cards. Not quite ready for DXCC submission, but going through my tub-o-cards has motivated me to organize my card collection (… and prep for my DXCC submission).

(5) Speaking of QSL cards, it is time to address the “log problem”. Since my first DX contact (VP5VAC, 21 May 2005, on 6M), I have jumped around to differnt logging programs (and different computer OSes). I have txt files, MDB files, and adi files. Logs from special event stations, lighthouse activations, Field Day, Iraq, Korea, and just sitting in front of the rig spinning and grinning. I have used LoTW and eQSL. I’ve also had a few different callsigns. It is time to establish the MASTER LOG. One-stop-shopping for all my contacts that exist currently as some form of a digital log. The tool to get me to where I need to be appears to be DX Shell’s Contest LogChecker. The application will allow me to take many different types of formated logs and combine them together.

(6) Were we speaking of QSL cards? Jeff, KE9V, says he is getting out of the QSL card game. [AE5X as well] I can understand his motivations and why he arrived at the decision to forego the hard copy QSL card. I may, someday, arrive at a similar decision. Although it looks like AA6E is proud of his card. But as of now, I still love QSL cards… desinging my own, sending them, receiving them, getting that fat package from the Buro, etc. That being said, I designed a new QSL card for my new QTH here in Lansing, KS:

…. I hope to receive them soon – and hope to work you soon so I can send one your way.