Category Archives: Gear

Video blog episode 006

Forgot to put this up earlier, but Episode 006 of my Arizona Signal Watcher video blog is up.  This one is a brief “tour” of the RTL-SDR based receiver that I use for AM broadcast band DXing.  If you think you need to spend several hundred dollars to do well on the AM BCB, you might want to have a look.  A $20 RTL-SDR, plus a $45 upconverter, and maybe some amplification (depending on your antenna), and you may do as well as possible considering the crowding on the band and other issues.

Amateur radio: on the air!

I had my 10-foot magnetic loop antenna ready to go for this weekend’s ARRL SSB contest, but realizing that it would only work one band (20 meters) for that contest, at the last minute I decided to build a new loop to finally go on the air as K7HKR. I used this on-line calculator to figure out something optimized for both the 20- and 40-meter bands with the high-voltage variable capacitor I have on hand. This ended up being a 15-foot circumference loop made out of 1/4″ copper coil pipe, which is much easier to bend than the 1/2″ pipe I used for the 10-foot loop. Continue reading

Amateur radio: HF antenna project

Finally some more ham radio content. After getting my license in May, I passed my General exam in June, achieving my goal of better than a 90% score. I even applied for a vanity call in June and received it after the nominal 3-week wait (K7HKR; “K7 Hiker”). My goal starting out was to use home-brew antennas (except for my handheld). But, I got distracted by the summer FM broadcast band sporadic-E season, and hiking trips, and the fall equinox trans-Pacific AM broadcast band DXing season, and work, etc. Thus, I haven’t been taking advantage of having a large fraction of amateur radio frequencies available to me. Continue reading