By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT
K-LOVE/Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.
KMGH Channel 7 Denver Meteorologist Mike Nelson is by far one of the best TV weather anchors I have ever watched. I also had the chance to get to know him a bit in the past doing some ISDN setup work for him and he is really a great guy and knowledgeable weather forecaster. He even made an appearance on our Monday Night Hamnet once courtesy of Fred, KØFMB who is an engineer for the TV station. Mike wrote an excellent article on Global Warming Climate change and its impact on weather science. When you get the chance take a look at this blog he wrote about this controversial subject. It is an excellent piece. Great job Mike!
I have been using Ham Radio Deluxe now in the KEØVH Hamshack for a few weeks and I am really enjoying the rig control and features that the software has. Of course it has been around for a long time, and with the acquisition of the Rig Blaster Advantage last month I have been utilizing its many features and it sure works great. The weekend of March 3/28-29 was the weekend of the CQ WPX Worldwide contest. The nice thing about these contests is that it usually brings many countries out of the woodwork that you may not hear very often. Using HRD to spot DX stations and control the Icom 746 made for some very quick DX contacts at KEØVH, including getting to work for the first time in my ham career stations in Samoa, Kuwait, and CHINA! I was really excited about that one! HRD’s Logging program is as complete as any I have seen, and will directly upload to Logbook Of The World once you have it configured correctly. At the beginning of starting in the contest I had 45 countries confirmed thru LOTW. As of this writing, I have 49 now after the contest, with other logs still to be uploaded. I am really looking forward to seeing what the count will be after all the contest logs from around the world get uploaded to LOTW.
I had a great conversation with a nice ham named Adam, (K7EDX) at STEPPIR in Bellevue Washington when I ordered the new SARK 110 Antenna Analyzer. The analyzer does many functions including Measured Parameters: Complex impedance (series and parallel) and reflection coefficient in rectangular and polar form, VSWR, return loss, cable losses, reflection power percentage, quality factor, equivalent capacitance, and equivalent inductance.
Operating Modes include: Scalar Chart, Smith Chart, Single Frequency, Cable Test (TDR), Field, Multi-band, Signal Generator, Computer Control, and more.
You may have seen in Crawford Broadcastings Engineering monthly publication “The Local Oscillator” last month about how Brian (Chief Engineer of Crawford’s Detroit facility) did a quick write up on the analyzer, so that was the first I had heard of it, and I was intrigued! The analyzer is about between the size of an I-Phone 4 or Blackberry. It comes with a MCX to BNC female jumper that you can adapt out to whatever antenna connector you might need. (By the way, you can find these inexpensively at Amazon.com and it ships quickly too!) When I was ready to order I called STEPPIR, Adam was fun to talk to and enthusiastic about the new product. We had a great discussion about the analyzer, how it is made, how it gets shipped, etc. STEPPIR sends it insured via the mail and it arrived 2 days after ordered. I am very impressed so far with the features, the ease of use and user friendly intuitive menus. Upon arrival I tested my antennas at the Hamshack with it and really liked to way that it quickly showed me what measurements I wanted to see. The unit will easily interface to a computer too with the supplied USB Mini cable and the free client software downloadable from the SARK 110.com website. Another great thing about this analyzer is that firmware updates are available free for life and many updates have been from suggestions from users. I will let you read about all the features and uses of the unit which can be found by going to the website at: http://www.sark110.com/home. The user manual is also available there on the site. An OSL calibration kit is available too, very similar to the Field Fox kits, but in smaller form. The Sark 110 has an easy to use menu for calibrating whatever frequency range you want to select. See the calibration kit made specifically for the Sark 110 at: http://www.sark110.com/resources/g3tjp-calibration-loads. When I was testing the unit I used the Field Fox OSL calibration kit to experiment. Worked Great! While not having a spectrum analyzer (you can use the RTL-SDR I wrote about a couple of months ago for that) it does just about everything an amateur could want, and it is useful in the field of broadcasting, even in the AM band since its frequency range is 100 kHz to 250 MHz As with most analyzers or Spec Ans you will need to be careful about high RF fields as you wouldn’t want to blow out the front end of the unit.
I did a test comparison of the Sark 110 with the Agilent Field Fox I have in the K-LOVE engineering office. I was testing a 2 meter antenna that was just sitting on the metal tool box close by, and the pictures and values are just about the same.
The Sark 110 measurements on a 2 meter antenna
The same 2 meter antenna as measured by the Field Fox as the Sark above
I am now enjoying the use of the analyzer to check my antenna’s at KEØVH, and adjust them for better operation. It is great to be able to see the SWR, Return Loss curves, and many other parameters that the Sark 110 will show. Here are my SWR and RL readings on my HF antenna’s at home as shown on the Sark Client software (available for free!) on the Hamshack computer. The SWR scale is on the left, RL scale on the right.
17 meters (REALLY WIDEBAND HERE)
And 160 Meters
I will be writing more about the Sark 110 as time goes on. For this writing I didn’t have the screenshots from the unit itself available, but will show some of those next month. The Sark 110 has two ways to view the screen; one is for bright sunlight when using the unit outdoors. Very versatile and great tool to have on hand. You can get a great quick look at the unit at:
I have written about Bob Heil’s “Hamnation” Webcast on the TWIT.TV website in the past.
After each recording and live webcast the guys meet on 40 meters on 7.278 MHz to discuss amateur radio and the shows subjects. The guys get together on the air right after “Hamnation” airs on the TWIT.TV website, every Wednesday at 6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET.
I have been using Ham Radio Deluxe now in the KEØVH Hamshack for a few weeks and I am really enjoying the rig control and features that the software has. Of course it has been around for a long time, and with the acquisition of the Rig Blaster Advantage last month I have been utilizing its many features, and it sure looks as great as it works.
A great site to see what lightning looks like from space, and information on how scientists are learning more about this phenomenon. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83387&eocn=te&eoci=index
And, www.ke0vh.com is coming! More details soon.
One day here this last month, I went over to visit my friend Brad Hart, KØBJH, the Chief Engineer for the Lincoln Financial cluster of stations here in Denver. Brad is very involved with a local Boy Scout troup and has been helping them lately to win their Radio badges using ham radio. Brad was working this day on the Nautel transmitter used for the main on his AM 1600 station here in Denver, and was operating on the Collins Power Rock you see behind him in this shot:
Very nice setup there Brad!
Finally, 73’ es Tnx Mr. Spock (and Scotty!)
Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering
IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING
At 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both
Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and
3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to
Join are at http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet. I hope
You will be able to join us and share your engineering and
73’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH