Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Transmit Issues

I used to have a Radiowavz 20m dipole in the attic hooked up using RG8X mini feed line to a Palstar PM2000A SWR/Wattmeter that went to my Icom 746Pro.

     20mdipole     PM2000A

I was able to use this combo on 10meters and and when I had friends over that had General or Extra class licenses it went out on 20m with very low SWR. On 10m the SWR with the built in antenna tuner was around 2.1 but it got me a QSL card!

I now have a Dr. Dipole 20m antenna hooked up the same way and tests on 20m gets SWR over 4 with little output showing on the watt meter. Use the built in antenna tuner and power output goes up but so does SWR! Doesn’t make sense does it? What to do about it? Get a dummy load and determine if it’s a radio problem or antenna problem. I haven’t read the best reviews on the MFJ dummy loads so I checked out Palstar reviews on eHam and the DL2K model got great feedback.

So I’m going to order one and see how it goes, I’ll report my findings when I have some time with it. Cross your fingers!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

iTunes 10.7.021 KaBOOM!!! If This Was a Microsoft Product It Would Be News

Yep, another Apple rant from Erik Smile with tongue out I realize I use computer/network products as a power user so my experience may not mirror your own but you’d think a simple upgrade would go smoothly. Why Apple doesn’t throw iTunes into the trash can in favor of something better I can’t figure out.

Since I jumped on board with it so many years ago, I stayed with it, frustrations and all. I run iTunes off of a home made Windows Home Server 2011 server I built last year. The machine is so stable it runs for 8 plus months without a reboot. I reboot it because I want to, which is nice but I have no doubt I could let it go for a year or more, if it wasn’t for software updates I’d try it out and see.

I run iTunes off of it and use air sync for my iPad and my Gen 1 Apple TV syncs over the network. Great right? Yep, until 10.7.021 update that is, now it blows up while loading the iTunes store within the application. The application is junk to begin with but 80% of my music is in there so it will be a huge chore to change.

The work around from Apple, disconnect the computer from the network/internet until the problem, IF THERE IS ONE…  Disappointed smile   is found. They don’t support servers so why would I install it on one!? Why indeed, why oh why would I ever install iTunes on a server designed to SHARE music on the network and give me one place to sync too and backup? Seriously?? After all why use air sync or wirelessly stream music from iTunes to my Marantz receiver, or any other network device with such capability?? Genius, cracks me up. $700.00 a share, good grief.

So until they decide to fix this I have to unplug my server from the network when loading iTunes which means I have to actually be at the server to do this which negates the ease of remotely controlling it to set things. How long for the mighty Apple to fix this? Apple’s response, “it’s a Windows problem so we’re not responsible for fixing it.”  You can’t make this stuff up, something that worked fine until the latest APPLE released upgrade and it’s Windows (read Microsoft’s) fault?!?

Look it up on Google and you’ll find others having the same issues in Windows 7 as well as Server 2008 R2 (Server 2008 R2 is the underpinning of WHS 2011). So this Windows issue will have to wait until the next update to maybe get fixed.

I am slowly removing myself from Apple products, sold my MacBook AIR, Power Mac, Mac Pro and iPhone. Still have one Power Mac but it died so it’s a paper weight, that leaves one MacBook Pro 17 that I just finished preparing for eBay last night and one iPad that I received from work.

I can’t sell the iPad but if I could I would, the more I deal with Apple as a company the more I realize they are exactly what they claimed to hate about Microsoft. If you think I’m a Microsoft fanboy you’d be sorely mistaken, Windows 8 is garbage in my view, not simply because of the Metro tile interface but because having used the RTM on several computers, they all share the same kind of bugs that shouldn’t be in an OS that has been around this long.

Who has a touch screen on a server, exactly, less than the people with PC’s do. So why have a tile interface in Windows Server 2012? Makes no sense so don’t think I favor Microsoft. I hold them both accountable for their foibles.

People love Apple because of their design, try replacing the hard drive in the past few generations of iMac. After you have pulled your hair out because Apple made it a nightmare come back and tell me how well designed they are..

End of Apple rant…

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Buckmaster OCF 6 Band Dipole VS Standard 20m Dipole

This is a very non-technical review of the receive capabilities of the Buckmaster Off Center Fed Dipole vs an eBay 20m Dipole from seller “big_r_world”.

When I received the Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V I was unimpressed with it’s receive capabilities, even strong signals sounded noisy. I had the Buckmaster installed in the same place as my previous 20m Dipole and I expected it to perform about the same on RX, maybe better.

When my new 20m Dipole came and I hooked it up, I installed it on the main VFO and the Buckmaster on the secondary VFO so I could compare them. The difference was so stark I was shocked. Signals were clean and very low noise floor on the S meter, the Buckmaster had a noise floor of S9 over most of the 20m band, the new Dipole had less than an S4 most of the time. On 40m there was nearly no noise floor it was so clean. Same with 70m!

I then decided to try and broadcast on 10m using the Buckmaster and the SWR was too high, the tuner was unable to find a match. Not good. I know part of this is my being a newb with antennas but the Buckmaster is sold as a 6 band antenna with just an internal antenna tuner.

I can’t do anything until I get an Elmer or somebody with a higher license to test on 20m, when I go to the next FRRL meeting I’m going to ask for some help.

For now, the “big_r_world” 20m Dipole looks to be awesome on the RX side, I tried to TX using it on 10m like I was able to do with my Icom 746Pro but it couldn’t do it. This could just be the difference between the Icom and Yaesu, it’s not like it was designed to use a 20m antenna on 10m. Smile

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hilberling Is Back!

I blogged about the demise of Hilberling back on July, 27th of 2008 and in April of this year they announced they would be at the 2012 Hamvention.

The radio to drool over is back! The PT-8000 is now in production, it carry’s the same model number that it had in 2008 but is now fully updated with 90% all new re-designed circuits.

        Hilberling1       Hilberling2

          The PT-8000, one of the most expensive rigs on the planet, drool worthy and I’ll probably never be able to afford one.


The Icom 7800, this one is ONLY around $11,000, might as well be a million. Hopefully I’ll be able to own one of these from the used market some day.

Icom 7800

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Super Control VS Ham Radio Deluxe

When I had my Icom 746Pro I used Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) to control it.


When I received this Yaesu I wanted to do the same thing so I ordered a converter cable to go from the Com port in the radio to a USB port in my computer. I completely forgot that both my WHS 2011 home made server  and my Dell Precision have the good ‘ol fashion Com ports built in, doh. Disappointed smile  I could have saved myself some troubleshooting time had I just looked. So here is the supposedly proper cable, even says it was made for the Mark V, who knows, maybe now it would work! More on that later.


Using the default settings in HRD with the converter cable and the main VFO refused to function. It would always default to 10.291.756 and if you changed it would bounce right back. So, upon investigating and finding I have real Com ports I bought the serial cable designed for this radio, what could go wrong right? Disappointed smile


I plugged it in, configured the Com port and started the software, no joy, same problem. So I investigated using different software. One program came up, Super Control, notice the radio in the middle of everything? A Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V!! Things are looking up!


I installed the latest version, which is about 7 years old and it works great! Here I’m listening to 14.313 where a QSO is in progress. I used the second VFO to see the entire band in the bandscope. The HRD bandscope can go full screen and SS cannot, which is fine since there is so much control over either VFO and features.


I posted the problem in the HRD forums and one person gave all the help he could but we couldn’t figure out why HRD wasn’t working properly considering SS works perfectly. I noticed that in SS the CAT light is on all the time and in HRD it blinks which tells me the software polling the radio either works differently or this is a clue to the problem with HRD.

I opened a ticket with HRD stating if I can get it working I’ll buy the software however if we can’t get it working there is no reason to buy it. Their response, no help without buying the software, well, fine, I won’t buy the software then. SS seems to work better and was designed from the get go for this radio, HRD doesn’t want the sale, I’m ok with that. I do understand their view but they’re not the ones out the money if the software doesn’t function and there are no refunds.

So I stayed away from HRD for a week or so and continued using SS and starting like the functionality more and more even if the interface wasn’t the nicest to look at. Last night I decided to give HRD another try, I went into some advanced options and changed software polling and timings and wouldn’t you know it, it now works perfectly. It took a few tries to get it right but now the CAT light is on all the time and the reactions are very fast. It would have helped if Yaesu would have used a higher bandwidth Com port, 4800, really? Sheeesh, anyway it works!

Here is a picture, bad color bot shows everything.


Here is a better shot of it working.


Next week I’m going to reinstall the converter cable and see if that works, if so then I’m keeping it. You never know if you end up with another radio that needs the same kind of cable.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Station Speaker System

I currently have high quality music speakers hooked up to the rig, unfortunately they produce sound too well for Ham radio. The tweeters allow sound to be reproduced that irritates the ears a bit so Yaesu makes a speaker that is designed for their FT-9000 series of radios which cost over $9,000! I can’t afford the radio but the speaker is closer to earth at a $399.00 MSRP and a price of $329.00 at some places. It has dual inputs which will work great since I have two outputs, one for each VFO (receiver).

It got a 5 out of 5 at eham so I can’t get it now but it’s on my wish list!

Here is $11,000 worth of gear! I can wish right? Smile with tongue out

Friday, September 7, 2012

Swiss Dipole Antenna

I purchased “The Swiss Dipole” antenna on eBay for $21.00, I have to add the feed line but at 37ft it will make a great RX antenna for my secondary tuner on the Mark V, or the primary one since they are switchable.


Now I have to figure out how to properly solder the RG8X feed line, not sure if I should use a 4:1 Balun or not. When I get back from vacation I’m going to contact the seller and discuss the best option.