Category Archives: Equipment

DX Dynasty! (warning: humor ahead)

Like many with a few minutes between tasks, I engage in humorous pursuits…sometimes gigging my friends with modified pictures and so forth. With the recent boom in popularity for the duck hunting empire that is Duck Dynasty, I created a fictitious advertisement for the largest advertiser in QST and CQ Magazine. (You know something is big-time when you’re met with shelves of stuff with bearded images in the local Walmart.) The image below has been shared with a few of my ham radio contacts—including the subjects of the spoof—and several have begged me to offer posters of it for prominent display in their shacks. Well, I’m not really in that business but retain full copyright privileges to the image to ward off others making commercial use. I missed April 1st with this post so consider it a break from national Tax Day to the weary IRS-abiding ham!




Huntsville HamFest: It’s Got a Chance!

For the second year in a row, I attended the hamfest in Huntsville, Alabama held at the Von Braun Center. I’m sure there are a lot of ‘fests across the country and the world, for that matter, that are very good. The Huntsville ‘Fest has a great atmosphere: excitement seems to be everywhere. It isn’t just a bone-yard and vendor display. There is active learning and exchange of ideas going on! I included a brief description in my segment Series 6, Episode 17 of the ICQ Podcast ( but here’s a fuller description of this trip.

I drove up to Starkville to meeting Jimmy Wooten N5VSB at his home. Mucho space for antennas, etc.! We drove up to Huntsville in his truck. Unfortunately, his FT-857D was down because of a power issue or we’d have worked 40M on the way up. But the conversation was good as we shared ideas about a common Club (the Magnolia ARC) of which we’re both past-Presidents, moon bounce technology that Jimmy’s getting into, and expanding the repeater system in Starkville. Not a bad drive at all (he was driving!).

Got to have a great dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse there are the convention hotel. Tom Diachiara (AC5MR), Mike McKay (KM5GS), Bill White (K5BLL), and Jimmy Wooten (N5VSB) joined me at Tom’s behest. It’s odd but true that if you don’t see home-folks at Walmart, you see them at a convention! Mike is a frequent Net Control for the MS Phone Net (Wednesday nights) so you may have some familiarity with him. Bill is a retired “telephone man” who, like me, just became a grandfather…except his grand child is in TX so he’s mobile very frequently.

Mike & Bill

Mike McKay & Bill White


Von Braun Center grounds








Getting to see all of the major vendors–who are definitely there in Huntsville—as well as some of the ham radio media (HamNation, Amateur Logic TV, Ted Randall’s QSO Show, and, of course, Tom Medlin W5KUB who streams it live and interviews various folks from the group)—is always a blast. I didn’t buy much but I did pick up a BaoFeng UV-5r HT from Hub City Amateur Radio Sales as a package deal (had everything in one box to charge it, program it, and put it on the air). The two-bander is going to a very worthy cause. But more about that in a future blog post as it would be a spoiler alert requirement.

Mike, Frank, and Tom

Giga fun…in front of GigaParts!

The Forums were super (see as they were last year. This is why I titled this post, It’s Got a Chance! My opinion is that ‘Fests getter “better” (not necessarily bigger but who can argue with Dayton on this very point?) when there’s more to learn and share about ham radio. Yes, I liked the opportunity to put my grimy little mitts on the Kenwood TS-990..and marveled at simply how large the Yaesu FT-5000MP is! My Kenwood TS-940SAT feels more portable after that! Talking to vendors and learning, for instance, that a huge stockpile of vacuum tubes lies just west of me in Natchez, MS ( was way cool. Having listened to the OMISS Net for years but having never checked in, I got a kick out of meeting some members face-to-face and recognizing their SSB voices in my head! (I did promise to check-in soon!) I could go on (as Jimmy could attest) but you get my point.

It was my pleasure to hear the numbers dude, Rob Sherwood NC0B, talk about the “name” transceivers that were announced in 2012 at Dayton and their “numbers review” as of Dayton 2013. I’ve done business with Rob in years past—bought a filter-modded JRC NRD-545 that I convinced myself to sell when I moved from Starkville but have regretted it since, especially since the going price is now 150%-200% of what I paid Rob for it—and always admired his tenacity at searching for some objective truths about rigs.  As a statistician, that gets my attention. But I was even more impressed at his closing statement and response to the audience. He said that unless some numbers on a rig are just bad, research them and buy what you think you’ll like. Of course, this can be driven by objective performance but, like cars, there is a subjective experience to this too. Rob’s suggestion is that once you have it but find you don’t like it, try to sell or trade for one you think you will like better, if at all possible. In other words, winnow down based on the numbers but get what you enjoy. When asked what his favorite rig was (and you know he must get asked this often), he only said he had a bias for analog audio. Rob Sherwood and Joe Walsh are both Analog Men!

It was also great to attend part of what’s been called, Two Days in Huntsville, a play on the Dayton Hamvention theme, which focuses on QRP. I’ve not been a full QRPer yet but do some portable ops. I’ve cheated from MS to check into the NOGA QRP Net on 3.975mhz at times (is that net still going?) by running 100 watts into a G5RV up at 125’ in Starkville…heard a 0.5 watt (yep, 1/2 a watt) SSB operator in NC on that Net…but haven’t yet done a lot of QRPing. But I liked what I saw and heard! I’ll tell you why…

The sessions were focused on operating efficiency which plays from QRPing to the CA Kilowatt (or should). One session examined portable antennas for QRP portable ops (which I liked). Doing QRP at a base QTH with an array of beams was also discussed. The session on the Reverse Beacon Net (RBN) was what caught my eye in the program. See Several ops at this session who had used RBN from across the globe (i.e., some themselves were across the globe!) to identify “propagation bubbles” as periodic openings in a band discussed how this worked.

During the discussion, I mentioned that I had some statistically-based ideas on how to harness both the RBN data and Joe Taylor’s WSPR data—both using origin-destination “nodes” of a contact or reception—to construct a type of “handicapping system” for contests. That is, the class of operation is already broken into similarly competitive classes of operators or operator groups. But the fate of the “ion surfing” really depends upon your location, location, location, right? That’s a bit of a luck of the draw at this time. Craig Behrens NM4T, who was leading the panel session, and I have followed up via e-mail to draw a more complete picture. He’s putting together a group of QRPers to consider this idea, which I had discussed a few years ago at a ‘Fest with Ward Silver N0AX. We’ll see how it goes….but the spatial statistics work right now which models origin-destination “flows” (of transportation, migration, etc.) could come into play here so that the differential “luck of the draw” in ion-surfing contests might be roughly equalized. What impact would this have? Well, it would force the sheer operating ability to shine through instead of having a “lucky” band opening. Okay, I’m not a big-time contester so this is just blue-sky thinking here. Give it time.

Plus, I won a cool door prize at this RBN session: Ham Radio for Arduino and PICAXE (ARRL Books). Hmm…that never made it out of Jimmy’s truck.

Huntsville’s Hamfest has a group that is really working to make it better. I’d like to see it become perhaps the dominant regional hamfest in the South. It’s Huntsville! There are Rocket City Redncks there! It’s a great place for amateur operators to go for such enjoyment. Bringing in a name speaker (like Rob Sherwood) or two is an investment but it will help draw a crowd.

I’d like to see amateur clubs in the region get behind the Huntsville group and help organize Forums, expand the Two Days in Huntsville to Three, include newer technology building parties (Broadband HamNet, Digital computer modes, balloon and buoy construction) and, for goodness sakes, launch a balloon next year! It’s Rocket City! Oh, and get Travis Taylor to speak. I think we could get Roger licensed as a Technician so they could feature amateur radio on their show. Or they could blow up something in the parking lot. But that’s another blog post!

Moved again!

OK, it might appear that we are a tad bit nomadic. But, that is not really the case! It took us a year after moving back to Starkville from the Atlanta area for our house there to sell. This is where most of my posts in this blog were made. We had 8.5 acres with lots, and lots of natural towers for antennas. Just before I was to put up a 160 meter loop antenna—custom built for me by Bruce Beckett of Mapleleaf Studios in Missouri—we got an acceptable offer on the house and property.

We moved to the Jackson, MS area as planned but really couldn’t find the right house for us. As a result, we are building! Building in what might be the opposite of a ham friendly neighborhood. But, the loop isn’t for sale yet. Since there are virtually no trees in our soon-to-be neighborhood, my builder is going to mount the Mapleleaf Studios 160M loop along the eaves of our new house. More on antennas in the new place later since it won’t be until next Spring when the house is completed but it’s been both challenging and fun to mentally explore the possibilities!

Balcony of apartment

Apartment QTH

In the meantime, we live here in a second-floor apartment. See the antennas? Hah hah! Neither do I. We are severely limited. Not only can’t the small DirecTV dish be attached to the balcony bannister, neither can anything else, it seems. Oh, of course, except flower beds or other decorations. Perhaps anything unrelated to antennas of any kind! Pardon my cynicism, but I’m sure you have felt this too.

Here’s what I’ve done thus far. In the picture zoomed into the balcony, you can see a screwdriver mounted on the basement floor. It’s a High Sierra 1800 screwdriver, given to me by Toxie KD5DDY, a fellow member of the Magnolia ARC in Starkville. I bought an MFJ three-magnet base mount which works perfectly. I have for the time being four wires run haphazardly across the wooden flooring on the balcony. I also purchased a remote tuning device from Carlos Aguirre, KD7WJZ via his eBay store. It’s gotten good press on eHam and Carlos has a popular Youtube video demonstration I have a sealed lead acid battery and a trickily charger bought at a local Lowes nearby for power. I am just on the other side of the wall in my shack from this HS 1800. I must say that Carlos’ device works very well! It’s really easy to give the antenna some additional “head room” as my Kenwood TS-450SAT needs it.

One problem that I have is the 102″ SS whip is too “tall” for the ceiling high which is made of a plastic material. I bought a small capacity hat off of eBay ($20) which helps on tuning noticeably. As you can see in the close-up picture on the right, the whip is curled under the ceiling.

I can successfully load the antenna on 20 meters. I may experiment with more radials at the length for this band. In addition, there are two metal gutters nearby, one down from the roof and the other in a U-shape around the ceiling’s eaves. I don’t want to leave damage when we move to our new house in the Spring! However, I’ve got to try!

HS 1800 Screwdriver on balcony

High Sierra Screwdriver too tall for balcony

Although not visible in the picture, I have a J-pole enclosed in a piece of white PVC pipe on the back side of one of the posts. The coax feeding it runs down the bricks into a spare bedroom aka office and radio shack. My Kenwood TM-G707A is monitoring the local 2M and 70cm bands.

I also picked up a portable HF vertical antenna for use in portable activities but tried it mounted on the brick ledge of the window. One of High Sierra’s Claw Mounts was used and it held like a Bulldog. This worked OK but the leaves making contact with the whip detuned it so that the TS-450’s auto tuner had to do it’s thing anew almost every time. I may try the screwdriver mounted this way and chance the “eyes” of maintenance. However, the radials needed for the screwdriver might prove a problem unless a connection to the metal gutter will work some magic. More on those and other experiments later.

I can only get into the MS Phone Net a few times a week, depending on where the person calling the Net is located and their setup. But I try…

It’s not desirable but a lot of hams face similar or worse environs at their QTH. It will teach me some more about being innovative in these circumstances. But I’m on the air and working a few folks, both on 30 and 40 meters. A couple of 10M contacts have come my way too. Hamateur radio is always fun!

Mississippi QSO Party

I’ve never participated in a DX contest. I’ve listened; a bunch! In Georgia, the QSO Party was fairly serious business with Atlanta Radio Club members having rovers head out to counties without active ham radio operators. Heck, a couple even flew a plane around the North part of the State with both VHF/UHF and HF antennas hung outside!

Since I moved back to Starkville, this is the first Mississippi QSO Party for me. I still do not have my Flex 3000 up and running. Don’t have my Ameritron 811 fired up yet either. However, I took my Icom 706 with the matching LDG IT-100 auto-tuner and placed it on my Levenger lapdesk, a semi-circle thin piece of board with a silicone cover. (It was originally purchased when I had to grade lots of papers as a college professor.) I got out my W2ENY headset with the hand-switch and plugs to match the Icom 706 (incredible value). Took my Samsung NC10 notebook and bit the bullet on going back to Windows XP for the ham radio software (I’m a Linux and Mac OS X guy, but that’s another blog post….). Got things installed alright and announced to management that I was going to be “contesting” from 9am to 9pm that day (Saturday, February 26th local time).

Got up, cleaned up, got breakfast, and headed down to my shack to try my hand at contesting. Was I going to win? Hell no! But I did have a great time. Folks from all over were very hospitable. I couldn’t do the full-tilt 12 hours of contesting. A couple of college basketball games drew my attention during some periods but I was there at the beginning (on 75 meters), there at the end (again on 75M), and in between (40M and 20M).

Worked ham at top of this lighthouse in Cuba!

In all, I only had 49 contacts, all by SSB phone, working 17 Mississippi counties, 19 other states, and two countries (my first international contacts!). The VE in Manitoba was cool but the way-cool one was a ham at Windward Point Lighthouse in Guantanamo, Cuba.  I had a great time and talked to some fine folks. One was a ham en route from WA and in NM where I worked him on 20 meters with a report of my 100 watts (at best) and G5RV antenna coming in 40db over 9 on his mobile rig! His WA buddy who was in a QSO with him said I was knocking down his door, too. Late in the day I worked an AM station (K5IIA) from LA who had a terrific signal, both in terms of audio and strength. He’s also a relatively new ham and loves old rigs and AM. I grew up hearing the old AMer’s on my grandmother’s RCA radio…it had a “green eye” at the top of it that would “wink” when the signal peaked! The speaker in it was the size of a large salad bowl at Olive Garden. Anyway, what’s surprising is how I can still recall many of those QSOs a week or so later.

Let’s see, that’s 49 QSOs X 38 entities = 1,862 points. I submitted my report to the Vicksburg ARC who sponsors the MS QSO Party. I’m like the kid who got an F on his report card with the defense that it makes the As others got look good!

Is that a Comet I see up there?

I’ve wanted to get a decent VHF and UHF antenna up so I can check out area repeaters around Starkville. My base rig is a Yaesu 8900R, a quad-band rig that is described by Yaesu as:

YAESU FT-8900R29/50/144/430 MHz FM Transceiver
The FT-8900R is a ruggedly-built, high quality Quad Band FM transceiver providing 50 Watts of power output on the 29/50/144 MHz Amateur bands, and 35 Watts on the 430 MHz band. It includes leading-edge features like cross-band repeat, dual receive, VHF-UHF Full Duplex capability, and over 800 memory channels. And its 10-meter FM coverage brings the possibility of world-wide FM DX-ing to you on your drive in to work!”

Ok, I’ll have to be made a believer about the world-wide 10M FM stuff…but it’s a really good and compact rig that works great on 2M and 70cm.

I have an Ed Fong WB6IQN J-pole that I use for portable ops (see but, as my friend Martin Jue says, it’s a challenge to keep RF off of the coax with a J-pole. Besides, I like it for portable use!

I am shopping around for a good 2M/70cm base antenna but don’t want it to show since management would not be in tune with that! So, in the mean time, I’ve put up the antenna built for this quad-band Yaesu rig: the Comet UHV-4! Here’s Universal Radio’s description of this mobile antenna:

Comet UHV-4 Quad-Band Antenna

The Comet UHV-4 is a redesign of the popular UHV-6 for quad band operation. It was created with the Yaesu FT-8900 in mind. It is pretuned for 2 meters and 440 (70 cm). Plus 10 meters and 6 meters may be tuned independently. It is a quarter wave on 10 and 6 meters. It is a 1/2 wave on 2 meters (2.15 dBi) and a two 5/8 waves in phase on 70 cm (5.5 dBi). Maximum power is 120 watts SSB on 10 meters and 200 watts SSB 50/146/446 MHz. The length is 54 inches (1.3 m 610 g). It has a PL259 [M] connector. An Allan wrench is included.” (I love it when the Allan wrench is included!) See the photo from Comet on the right.

I mounted it in a PVC schedule 40 pipe, 1 inch in diameter, drilling a hole in a PVC cap for the SO-239 connector to the base of the antenna. Two screw-eyes in the top end and some clear silicone caulk sealed the deal. I didn’t have to use the PVC but I needed some means of getting it secured to the line and I liked this approach.

Using my Wind-Demon tennis ball launcher (see earlier posts), I put a nylon cord up about 110 feet in a pine tree. A length of TM LMR-400 I recently purchased brought it to my entry box. I then realized that I had purchased a PL-259 to an N-connector LMR set. Bummer! (Well, that’s a nice way of putting my oversight.) So, off to Dave’s Hobby Shop on eBay to buy an N-to-PL259 connector. Dave’s got most anything like this that I’ve needed and he’s one of the good eBayer sellers. I’ll have to wait until I get that connector before I will connect it to the Polyphaser in the antenna entry box. I’ll report on how it works then. But, for now, it looks hidden among the trees surrounding my house. I’ll see how it gets out while figuring out an easy way to using these “nature-made” towers to mount a regular ground plane antenna for 2M and 70cm.

Can you see the Comet in the sky?


Here it is.....

Oh My! You’ve Asked Me to Do What?

I must say, two recent opportunities have made me wonder about the state of leadership in amateur radio. OK, that’s tongue-in-cheek and I hope to keep it that way!

My local amateur club, the Magnolia ARC, here in Starkville, MS asked me to serve as President for this year. On top of that, I have been appointed Assistant Director of the Delta Region for the Amateur Radio Relay League. I am humbled on both counts but it means that I’ve got to focus on the organizational aspects of ham radio which will take some operating time away, I am sure.

The Magnolia ARC now has a website ( that I’ve assembled using Google Sites. It’s working and giving us a means to communicate and be visible to others. I took the FCC ULS data and extracted licenses to clubs and individuals in MS. It was easy to process them using SPSS software to a workable number of data fields, geocode them to their location, and embed an interactive Google Map into the Club website. Now, visitors can click and find out what clubs are nearby as well as where licensed hams are located. I found two others in my neighborhood alone, along with one who recently let his license expire due to age and infirmity. As we get more pictures of members and an agenda of programs to be presented each month, the Magnolia ARC will be in good shape.

The Club has maintained two repeaters; one on 2 meters and one of 70cm. Both are “down” and have been for a number of months. Without repeaters, nets, and good old rag-chewing, the life of a club tends to ebb away. After being a member of the Atlanta Radio Club—and still am—I learned the value of the informal group that emerges on VHF especially. The ARC repeater system is a very active one but it’s based on much larger number of hams. The MARC group has over the past few months passed the hat to raise funds for a new 2M rig, a Vertex 9000, and, last week, an Icom FR4000 for 440 mhz. These two rigs replace venerable GE Mastr II machines converted over to the respective ham bands. RF leaching tends to win over time and it’s more difficult, I’m told, to find the replacement transistors than it is to buy another similar rig on eBay. So, MARC decided to modernize a bit and donated the 2M GE Mastr II to our neighbor, W5YD at Mississippi State University. They plan to repair it and convert it into a digipeater for local APRS activity. Alas, the old CAT-1000 (not “B”) controller will not work with the Vertex 9000 so we’ve donated it to W5YD. We both win!

The 2M repeater is located on top of the Oktibbeha County Hospital on the north side of town in Starkville. One MARC member, Mark Carruth KC5AKY, used his MFJ 269 Antenna Analyzer to detect a short in the coax about 10 feed out. We will replace that coax cable with actual hard-line after testing it with a replacement length of coax. The Vertex 9000 will have to be reprogrammed to use the internal controller with a CW ID until we can purchase a new controller board. The OCH emergency response folks (Mike Shelton) are very glad to have us located there as they have a new command center and want to get a few staff members licensed as Technicians to work with us. We replaced the power supply for the Vertex with an MFJ model known for it’s stability. The 2M repeater should be back on the air, at least in rudimentary form, once we reprogram the Vertex to use the internal controller with our CW ID and replace the shorted coax.

The 70 cm machine was purchased via eBay from Dick WA6NSR who had it for three years on a project that never materialized. He had Emmett WA6COT program it for us to our 440 mhz frequency pair and tone, shipping it from California in fine shape. It arrived last Friday. Our 440 mhz repeater is located a the main tower facility of the Starkville Metrocast Cable Television company. MARC Past-President Audie Hughes KE5EXK and I recently inspected the old GE rig in the secured cabinet. We’ll just remove the power supply, repeater, and older (I mean ancient) controller board, leaving the duplexers. We’ll get a local technician to check and re-tune them if they’re off frequency. With that, we will install the Icom FR4000 440 mhz rig with it’s internal controller to get back on the air.

Job One on MARC activity is almost completed thanks to the great spirit of the Magnolia ARC membership! I am not a repeater expert but I’ve learned a bunch over this past month. I suspect that I will learn a lot more before we are on the air.

On the Delta Division ARRL activity, working with Mickey Cox K5MC, Division Director, has been super. I am helping design this year’s survey of Delta Division amateur radio members. More on that in a later post.

G5RV is in the air….and on the air!

I finally got my G5RV antenna from Maple Leaf Communications up in the air. I live among many very tall oak and pine trees, easily 100 -140 ft high. A number of them are right outside my shack…so, what to do? Use nature-made towers!

2.5" barrel Wind Demon

My son, Jon, is an avid bow-hunter but he was apprehensive at shooting arrows where we have neighbors within the potential landing zone! I’m not much with a sling-shot so I turned to a tennis ball launcher. I looked at WB6ZQZ’s website ( and he’s got a good product. Being cheap but ignorant on constructing his launchers, I surfed eBay and bought the less expensive Wind Demon, the 2.5″ model (shown on left). After experimenting with regular tennis balls, opened with an eXacto knife, stuffed with 22 pennies to make them weigh 4 ozs, I ordered three made by WB6ZQZ. He uses sand and hot-glues the slit back with a loop made from thick fishing line. We found that the ones with sand work best.

The key thing that we found was how the fishing line was stored for “launch”. I used 300 yards of  braided fishing line (color red) but purchased a Saunders bow-hunting reel so that the bail would hold this much line. Simple math: 150 ft. tree needs that much to go up and that much to come down on the other side of the tree. My Shimano fast-cast open-face reel would be super-better to rewind the line but would only hold about 100 yards of line. A visit to Lowe’s gave me two connectors of PVC that would slide over the barrel of the Wind Demon. A Dremel tool and a flat piece of wood helped attach the Saunders reel with two metal screws. You can see the general idea in the picture on the right. The metal knob on the black PVC pipe is where the compressed air goes.

Saunders Bow-Fishing Reel

Here are pictures of the two target “end” trees: two tall pines for the ends of the G5RV and a center one of unknown species (it was “there”) below (see text). Also shown is a short video-clip of Jon firing the Wind Demon and my (wobbly) attempt at tracking the tennis ball and fishing line.

"End" Tree # 1

"End" Tree # 2

Jon with Wind Demon

Once we shot the fishing line over the tree…and Jon hit an optimal throw high up at the top on three of four shots…it was time to pull the fishing line back over with Dacron nylon cord (3/32″ dia.) back over the tree. When we finished retracting the fishing line with the nylon cord, we needed to attach a pulley. The back-end of the length of cord needed a tie-off point which we opted to use cleats screwed into the side of the tree.

The stainless steel pulleys and cleats were purchased at my local Lowe’s store. They’ve got several sizes of pulleys and cleats but I just went with a fairly small pulley that I thought would work best with 3/32″ Dacron rope (purchased on eBay).

We tied-off the pulley and strung a new strand of Dacron rope through it before retracting the pulley’s tie-off rope back up the tree. This will give me the ability to more easily repair the G5RV or put up other dipole designs when needed.

Shown below are pictures illustrating the tree cleat with excess Dacron rope bundled (for when I need to lower the pulley!) as well as the pulley assembly.

Once each line was put into place via the pulley system, we tied the ends of the G5RV—very well made by Maple Leaf Communications, by the way—to a rubber “bungie” strap. This will allow the trees sway to have play and not stretch the wire dipole. We did the same thing for the center support tree, visible in the video clip. It was a learning “dance” that we had to do to get the full 102 ft. antenna up…the proximity of the center support tree was not centered exactly between the two end trees in a direct line. We effectively had to pull on the center support with the RG8X coax as we pulled up on the respective ends to navigate the G5RV “around” the center tree’s lower branches. We learned some things from this, however, in that it’s better to get the pulley lines placed around troublesome branches than just take the first “good” shot as we did. However, this was a relatively easy “launch” of a dipole and it’s up about 100 ft.

Tree Cleat Excess Line Bundled

Pulley Before Tying

G5RV with rubber bungie strap on end

G5RV with T-connector at center

While the G5RV was “up” the air, it actually took me a few weeks to test it “on” the air! Our house is on the market and I am being very careful about having an excess of wires and so forth not being in their correct “place”. I had ordered a custom external conduit box from KF7P as well as a few Polyphaser lightening dissipation modules so I waited a bit. I then recalled that I had also ordered a Comet CTC-50M Window/door feed-thru jumper from Cheapham. So, I made a temporary arrangement with the G5RV coming in under an exterior door. My favorite leather chair and ottoman, coupled with a lap board from Levenger, has become the location of my Icom 706, LDG IT-100 auto-tuner, and MFJ Mighty-Lite power supply. I have a netbook running Linux Mint 10 on the right side of the lap board and a notepad and pen on the left. With about two hours of operations across two days, I worked northeast Texas with ease and the Atlanta area’s QRP Net with 59 signal reports. I was able to chat with my friend, Arnold KC4ZUA, with ease on this Tuesday night net….even though I was cheating by running 100 watts!

So this dipole is off to a good start. We’ve got snow falling in Starkville as I write this so it will be next week before I get the external steel box installed for running the R8X into the shack as designed. I can then install my Wellsbrook ALA-1530+ loop for Rx, the Perseus SDR receiver, and get the Flex 3000 up and running with the Ameritron 811 stoking the fire. But, for now, this little Icom 706 running barefoot into the G5RV is fun. The work ahead will be fodder for future posts. Sounds like hot chocolate could find a place by my leather chair while the snow falls!