Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Fellow Blogger

Several year ago, I met a fellow blogger and Ham Radio Operator via the Internet. We have since traded; email, blog comments, and EchoLink conversations.

When I first started my struggling Blog, he provided helpful feedback, critique, and most of all, encouragement.

He is a prolific writer within his own Blog and has written several Ham Radio related software projects. He has provided the world with much enjoyment and fun to read information, technical insight and humor. He has written about; his love of his Wife, Ham Radio, his community, the outdoors, and his hiking adventures.

Recently my Friend was diagnoses with a fast growing incurable brain tumor, treatment of which undoubtedly will make his life difficult.

My heart, thoughts, tears and prayers go to my Friend;

Julian Moss - G4ILO, and to his wife Olga.

You can read his story at;

Good Luck my Friend


Monday, June 27, 2011

WA7LAW Field Day 2011

Here are some of the WA7LAW Field Day 2011 Photos, at GRID: CN87UW99VR

Paul - KD7EJI
at the Antique 40m CW Station
Unseen to the Right is the GOTA Station
Although, Paul is not the owner of the above Antique Equipment, he is the; owner / operator / program-director, of a micro power Old-Time AM Broadcast Band Radio Station, see:

The Main Operations Tent and Antennas
The main tent was the center of operations, with most antenna connection and operating stations. A Generator and Solar Cells provided the power.

Outside, a Bar-B-Que and treats were setup for Lunch and late night meals.

Off photo, to the left, are the 2m Talk-in Station, the GOTA Station, the Antique 40m CW Station and several other QRP Stations, each with their own antennas.

In the main tent, cross band interference was a bit of a problem, but many people were working to resolve the issue.
In the Main Tent
Left is the 20m PSK Station
Right is the 40m SSB Station
In the Main Tent
Bob - AD7BP Checking Out the Operation
Left is the 20m SSB Station
Right is the 15m 90w CW Station

Bob - AD7BP
with his Pedestrian 20m Mag Loop
Bob showed me his 20m Mag Loop, I was really impressed, it was easy to tune by listening for max volume, and then the Ft-817 reported a very Low SWR on transmit. The Loop can be turned quickly to maximize the received signal.

Unfortunately, we did not have much time to use or play with the Loop.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Drive Cycle Reset for the OBD

While running errands and trying to find a place to "Drive Cycle Reset" my VAN's On Board Diagnostic Computer (OBD) today (see previous post), I drove East along the Mountain Loop Highway, which is just North of Mt Pilchuck. Of course Mt Pilchuck is my favorite QRP Operation site (see previous posts).

Today was a really nice day, the first of hopefully many to come this summer.

The Mountain Loop Highway is a great place to be when it is HOT in the low lands. The following are some of the pictures that I took along the highway

Cool and yet, Warm, Very Nice
Northwest Weather
A Side Tributary for the River Below  

 I Should have Brought a Fishing Pole
When is Fishing Seasons?

A Hot and Cool Spot
An Old Log Provides for the Ferns

A Sunny Spot in the Under Growth
Another Sunny Spot

Of Course,
Tess is Always Up for 
a Ride In the Mountains

Slave to a Computer

It all started several months ago, I took my VAN to my favorite Auto Shop for an Oil-Change and Tune-Up if and as necessary. All was OK, only an Oil-Change was necessary.

A few days after the Oil-Change, the dash board Engine Service Light came on. Worried that something major was wrong, I called the Auto Shop for another diagnostic appointment. They could squeeze me in on the following Monday.

Unfortunately, I forgot the appointment. I called the Mechanic, and told him that I just remembered that I had purchased an On Board Diagnostic (OBD) with Blue-tooth for my HTC Droid Cell Phone and that I could tell him the Fault code. He said the Fault Code was a simple Failed Catalytic Oxygen Sensor, which did not effect the VAN's operation. I could probable continue driving without a problem, but it would mask additional Faults from being noticed on the Dash. But, that is OK, I have the OBD output on the Cell Phone that I review often. We decided that the repair could be done at the next Oil-Change.

At the time/mileage of the next Oil-Change, I was far from the Auto Shop, and therefore I took the VAN to the local Oil-Can-Harry's for the change. No problem, they do a good job. But, of course the Service Light was still on.

I later received e-mail notification that my Tabs were expiring, No problem, as always, I just send a check to the DMV and they return the Tabs.

Not this time. The check was returned because an Emissions Test was required.

What?? I never had an Emissions Test requirement before.

OK, I called my Auto Mechanic, to see if there is anything regarding Emissions that I should take care of before Testing? He said NO, the best way is to have the VAN tested, the test is only $15.00, and if it fails we could repair only as necessary. He suggested the near Testing Facilities was close to home.

The next day, I went to the Emission Test Facilities (about 15 miles away). They went crazy - I had something plugged into the OBD port on the VAN! They were concerned that I was trying to subvert the testing system. They calmed down when I explained that it was a Cell Phone OBD monitoring device. I should have removed it before approaching the testing station.

The VAN Failed the Emissions Test (remember the Fault and Service Light). The Emissions Test System could not continue until the Fault and Problem was fixed. With a Failure, they allow for one free test after repairs.

OK, I called my Auto Mechanic, to get an appointment for repairs, an early appointment was available next Monday (his shop is about 25 miles away, the other direciton).

Within a hour, the Mechanic had decode the Fault Code, and determined one of three Oxygen Sensor needed to be replaced. The Mechanic had stocks for two of the three, but not for the failed sensor. An order was placed, I would have to return the VAN the next day for the repairs to be made. It should only take about an hour.

Surprisingly, repairs only took an hour, . . . plus $288.00 :-(

OK, I was off to the Emissions Testing Station (about 15 miles away) for the re-test. I removed the OBD Interface before arrival.

The VAN Failed again! This time it failed because the On Board Diagnostic Computer Fail Codes had been reset (normally done after a repair), and the "Drive Cycle Reset" had not completed. What?

OK, I called the Auto Mchanic, What is a "Drive Cycle Reset"?

Oh, he forgot to tell me about that. When the OBD computer has rebooted, the VAN must be driven a few days for sensors to re-acclimate. Or, I can drive a Standard Factory Prescribed "Drive Cycle". The Mechanic suggested that my OBD Cell Phone Monitor may provide status of the "Drive Cycle".

Yes, two of the eight Drive Cycle requirements had not completed, The Catalytic and Evaporative System sensor status were reported as not complete.

The Mechanic suggest that I just drive as normal for a few days. On Monday we could review results and initiate a plan.

The next day, after a few minutes of driving, the Catalytic Converter Status completed. Only the Evaporative System was now in question. Did it also need repair?

OK, on Monday I call the Mechanic, this time to get the official "Factory - Drive Cycle Reset" recommendation for the OBD Computer reset. The Mechanic reported the following procedure as per the factory:

  1. Fuel Tank must be between 15% and 85% full (Dang, I just filled up, I will have to siphon 5 gallons out :-(
  2. Start Cycle with Engine Cold (I will have to wait until the next morning)
  3. Drive at 55mph until engine is hot, then drive for additional 6 minutes at the same speed
  4. Coast without breaking for 25 seconds
  5. Accelerate back to 45mph
  6. Repeat above Coast and Accelerate cycle 4 times
  7. Drive at 50mph for 2 minutes
  8. Coast to a Stop, without Braking
  9. Once Stopped, Hold the Brake while still in Drive, wait for 2 minutes

That "should" reset the OBD Computer sensor statuses.

OK, today I got up early to do a "Drive Cycle Reset", I had several errands to run anyway. Finding a place to play with acceleration and coasting was a little difficult. But I got it done, twice.

But, NOPE, the Evaporative System was still not complete.

The Mechanic suggested I return for Emissions Testing, maybe it will pass without that status. Again, I made sure that the OBD Interface was disconnected before arrival at the Testing Station,


Later I checked the OBD Evaporative System had not completed. Apparently the Testing Station allows for that.

Now to get my TABS, I used my phone to find the nearest DOT Licensing Facility (2 miles). Dang, the  phone was wrong, the DOT Facility closed up shop. The next nearest was about 20 miles away.

Now, with another $58.00 and I now have my VAN TABS !

The reason that the VAN now requires an Emission Test, is because I recently moved into more populated ZIP code. Emission Testing is required each two years :-(

I now know a lot more about OBD Computers, much more than I desire.

This TAB renew effort has taken about three weeks.

I guess, . . . we are all slaves to one computer or another, and I will bet the OBD is just a small simple 4 bit processor!

Several days later, I noticed the OBD Evaporative System has finally completed.


Sunday, June 12, 2011


My VHF QSO Party (See previous post) - Results

These are from my location on Green Mountain, Grid: CN98 at 3000 feet.

As far as I know, only I and one other station (W7MRG) were located within Grid CN98.
  • 18:45Z 50.125 N7XS CN87
  • 19:??Z 50.132 WA7JTM DM46 ( my only DX )
  • 19:50Z 50.125 K7CW CN87
  • 20:20Z 50.125 WB7BST CN87
  • 20:44Z 50125 WA7TZY CN87
  • 20:45Z 50.125 W7MRG CN98 ( about 500' below on the same mountain )
  • 20:57Z 50.125 K7KN CN88
  • 21:11Z 50.125 K9VD CN87
  • 21:15Z 50.125 K7OFT CN87
  • 21:18Z 50.125 W7FI CN87
All contacts were local except the second one. With just 5 watts and a whip on the VAN, I was not expecting much more.

Next time I will try to have a beam available.


Saturday, June 11, 2011


For June 2011, ARRL VHF QSO Party

Station: FT-817ND
  • 6m - 5 watts into a 110 inch Virtical on top of my VAN
  • 2m - 5 watts into 5/8 Virtical on VAN
Primary Operating Location:
Alternate Location:

Zoom out and click on map to see great circle route to your location.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blog Photos Drop-Shadows

For as long as I have been writing web pages, I have always wanted a easy-to-use Drop-Shadow routine for my included images and photos. I had considered modifying the photos to include the shadow, but that pollutes the photo archives for other uses. Also, modifying the photos means that any photo downloaded or expanded (into another window), would unnecessary contain the included shadow.

Thanks to a Google Search, . . . I finally found a solution!

It is a simple CSS Snippet that is easily included in my Blog Template, and it can also be used with other web pages with style sheets.

 An Example of an Image Frame Drop-Shadow

I am pleased with the results, it makes the photos stand out. But, I hope viewers do not find the Drop-Shadows distracting.

With Blogger it is simple to add (or override) the current Blog Template. Image Drop-Shadows can be added via the following snippet. Note, the Current Blog Template stays intact, with no modification necessary.

Design --> Blogger Template Designer --> Advanced --> Add CSS

.post img {
-moz-border-radius: 6px;
-webkit-border-radius: 6px;
-goog-ms-border-radius: 6px;
border-radius: 6px;
-moz-box-shadow: 6px 4px 8px #A0A0B0;
-webkit-box-shadow: 6px 4px 8px #A0A0B0;
-goog-ms-box-shadow: 6px 4px 8px #A0A0B0;
box-shadow: 6px 4px 8px #A0A0B0;
margin-right: 12px;
margin-bottom: 4px;
padding: 0px;

For this blog, the above overrides the current ".post img" style for each image or photo of the posts. A simple edit allows it to be added, removed, or modified as I see fit.

I hope others will also find this useful.

Apparently this does not work for Internet Explorer, I will have to continue research.


Monday, June 6, 2011

HamFest, The Beach and Bees

I just returned from the SeaPac HamFest and Convention in Seaside Oregon.

It was crowed with many People, Vendor Booths, Swap Tables and Activities to enjoy. The weather was Hot and Clear, making near Pacific Ocean Beaches that much more inviting.

The Main Floor

From Above

My HamFest Treasure Hunt provided a few more 1/8th inch knobs for my projects. And a 104 inch CB whip Antenna, which I plan to use on my VAN as a general HF Receive Antenna while mobile. My normal Hustler Antenna mount and its location on the back top of the VAN does not provide enough overhead clearance for a standing loaded 20 meter whip (it is more than 14 feet tall). With this longer, but more flexible whip, I can tie the tip forward and use the Auto Tuner to make the best of the available hight. I have looked for a long whip at all previous HamFests. Here I found exactly what I was looking for, and it already had a 3/8 x 24 stud mount, for $25.00.

While in the Seaside area, I stayed with my Niece - Sarrah (about 50 miles away). Sarrah took the opportunity and joined me for the HamFest and a chance to go to the beach. After my treasures were found, we went for a walk on the beach, the weather was sunny, cool and clear.

Sarrah and Tess on the Beach Playing Fetch

Just before leaving on Sunday I was able to explain and show my Niece an interesting event - A Bee Swarm. As I was packing up the VAN, I heard a load roar, and looked up to see a swarm of Honey Bees leaving a craves at the apex of the house. Being a previous Bee Keeper, I enjoyed watching the action. At first, it terrified the family, but I assured them that they were not in any danger.

When Honey Bees swarm, they do not have a home and honey to protect and therefore they are very gentle and easy to observer at very close range. The Bee swarm began to settled on to a near-by low branch, where we could stand within the flying swarm of thousands of Bees, all buzzing and flying around.

Believe me, this was a new experience for Sarrah!

The Swarm is Just Starting to Cluster on this Low Tree Branch

Sarrah Standing in the Flying Swarm
of Thousands and Thousands of Bees

Swarming is the natural way they divide the population of a hive, the old Queen and old Worker Bees leave for a new location. The Bees will normally collect and hang in a large Cluster on a near-by branch and rest, while a new hive location is found. The Queen is normally someplace in the middle of the Cluster, her presents and scent attracts the flying Bees to the branch.

Scout Bees will find and return NEWS of a potential new home, the bees then vote on the new proposed locations, based on intensity of the scout's "waggle dance". Once decided, they all fly to the new location following scent trails and directions provided by the scouts. Prior to voting and the mass move flight, the direction and distance is communicated via the direction and duration of the scout's "waggle dance".

In my experience, this was only a small size swarm, but large enough, for Sarrah.

It was a great weekend and Events, both the HamFest and the Bee Swarm, and I got to see my Niece and Family.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AutoDyne Receiver Project

I have been working with "virtual" electronics for the last few days. I must have inadvertently turned a corner without me noticing. I have not been in my Shop for days, most of my work has been at the computer in the Loft.

In the past, I have always breadboarded my circuits before creating Homebrew PCB's, which I think is still a good idea. But, professionally manufactured PCB are so cheep, that I decided to skip the breadboard stage, with the idea that I can re-do-it if the circuit fails miserably.

Normally I would not Blog about a Project until it is successful, but for this project "you are going for a ride", and you will see the success or maybe a total failure.

My current little project is to build an "AutoDyne Receiver", as documented by Nick - WA5BDU and describe at Wikipedia.

This circuit is a Frequency tracking receiver that outputs the station audio for a speaker circuit, and the RF carrier frequency. If it is configured to receive WWV (say at 10MHz) the RF output can be used for a frequency standard (or at least that what it says in the documentation).

This circuit was originally constructed with discrete transistors, and then with a CA3046 Transistor Array. But, the CA3046 part is currently almost unobtainable (it must be made of unobtainium :-), I will substituted with five SMT 2N3904's.

This is what I have so far, note the circuit has been redrawn in sections, and parts from my junk box have been substituted where necessary. Refer to the original link above. I hope I have not miss re-creating the circuit.

The AutoDyne Receiver Circuit in DipTrace

Proposed Circuit PCB - 1.6x.9 Inch

A DipTrace 3D View

As with all of my HomeBrew PCB Circuits I have tried to make this board as small as possible, is will be 1.6 x .9 inches and will be powered initially by a 9 Volt Battery (if you know my projects, what else would you have expected?).

The PCB is now on order. If all goes well, my small board with be merged via DorkbotPDX onto a large manufacturing board on Jun 6th, and then enter their normal manufacturing process. My board(s) should be returned around Jun 15th.

This little project has been on my drawing board for more than a year, only recently have I pushed it along to the PCB stage, my original planned implementation used much larger parts. Now, I will use small 0805 and 0603 SMT parts. After looking at the photos above, I could have (with more work) held out for an even small build/design. A lot of space is taken up by the Audio connector (lower right on PCB)?

Later, I will report the results (or failure) of my attempt to skip the Breadboard stage for this project.

Again, Thanks to Nick - WA5BDU for documenting (and his mods) of the original circuit. Note: many others have had their hand in the circuits creation. The link is an interesting read.