Monthly Archives: August 2016

HRO Milwaukee opened today

As most everyone knows by now Amateur Electronic Supply (AES) closed its doors toward the end of July after 59 years. I have fond memories of visits to the store with my great uncle’s W9SIZ and W9KKX/SK when I was a kid (the store was on Fond Du Lac Avenue at that time.) I bought my first new radio there, a Kenwood TR-7600 with the matching KPS-7 Power Supply when I passed my Technician exam. Along with that I bought a KLM 13 element long boomer and a Ham IV rotator. Virtually emptied my savings in one fell swoop but I was very happy. That was a very nice 2m station and it saw a lot of usage with the antenna at about 30 feet on a light pole that my dad acquired and built a custom mount for the rotator and thrust bearing for the antenna mast.

Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) bought AES and elected to make the Milwaukee store its Amateur Radio super store. The new store opened today and of course my friend and fellow operator Josh, KD9DZP and I felt obligated to pay them a visit.

If you are familiar with the AES layout you’ll immediately notice that the new store is larger. brighter, and packed with all manner of Amateur Radio goodness. I’d guess that the store is about 25% larger with one center counter as opposed to the store long counter of AES.

HRO Milwaukee

HRO Milwaukee

The west wall that used to contain the magazine rack and used equipment now is a long wall filled with just about every transceiver that they sell from the lowliest VHF rig all the way up to the Kenwood TS-990 and everything in between. They will all be powered up and operable very soon (they weren’t today.) It’s very nicely done and I’m sure that it will aid in the sale of a lot of new radios. I know that it inched me closer to the acquisition of the Kenwood TM-V71A. Who know’s what would have happened if it had been powered up and operable?

Wall-O-Fun

Wall-O-Fun

The layout of the store is nicely done and the shelves of all of the aisles are packed with all of your favorite flavors of Amateur Radio equipment.

Kenwood Lane

Kenwood Lane

Yaesu Drive

Yaesu Drive

Gives a whole new meaning to “clean up in aisle 5.” About the only thing that they are missing is shopping carts (baskets aren’t sufficient) and perhaps bibs.

The store staff was excellent. We were cheerfully greeted multiple times and the staff was walking about the store, more than happy to assist. We arrived just a wee bit after they opened and there seemed to be a good flow of people coming to check out the new store. My understanding is that every weekend in September they are going to have an event with various manufacturers present and sales on assorted equipment. I guess I know what I’m doing on Saturday mornings in September.

My only acquisition was the Kenwood VGS-1 for my TS-590SG and another pack of PowerPoles. That’ll do me for now. I’ll see what’s in store for September and maybe a TM-V71A will follow me home.

It’s good to have HRO in town and I wish them all the best with their new store. It seems like it’s off to a good start.

 

Advertisements

Three Eagle Scouts

My youngest son Ben was awarded his Eagle Scout rank at his court of honor this past weekend. Both my sons and I are all Eagle Scouts. I’m proud of my sons.

Dominic, Tim, Ben

Dominic, Tim, Ben

 

Portable station box

I’m really enjoying portable operation with the combination of camping more and the NPOTA event . My portable radio is a Kenwood TS-480SAT. I know that it’s not the lightest portable radio but I really like it a lot and I’m usually never that far from my truck.

My entire portable station, less the battery, fits into an MTM Sportsmen’s Plus Utility Dry Boxes (SPUD box.) Mine is the SPUD 7.

Portable station in a box

Portable station in a box

The box contains the following items:

Top storage

Top storage

A small assortment of pens, pencils, and a Sharpie along with a slip-joint pliers and at least one double female barrel connector.

Top tray

Top tray

The top tray contains some paracord for guying, some old screwdrivers that double as stakes, some tape for the joints on the Spiderbeam pole, a jumper with powerpoles, an MFJ-108B as I use a paper log when I’m portable, and a homebrew panel meter with powerpole connectors that plugs into the RIGrunner to allow me to monitor the battery voltage. The panel meter is from eBay. They come in various configurations and cost around $5.00 shipped. I mounted it in a little project box and added a pigtail with powerpoles.

Panel meter

Panel meter

Inside the lower portion of the box is the main equipment:

Inside the box

Portable equipment

Comprising the TS-480SAT, a Dentron JR Monitor antenna tuner, a pair of Kenwood HS-5 headphones, a West Mountain Radio RIGrunner 4005, and an MFJ-259B.

And finally the EARCHI wire antenna, some coax jumpers, a battery cable with powerpoles, the Kenwood power cord with powerpoles, and an assortment of various coax cable lengths.

Coax and wire antenna

Coax and wire antenna

All of this fits in the SPUD box just fine although it does weigh 28 pounds. It’s definitely not playing in the same league as a KX2\KX3 station but as I said I’m typically not very far from my truck and when I am I have a heavy duty folding wagon to haul the SPUD box, a battery, a small folding table, a bag chair, my Alpha antenna, and the Spiderbeam pole if I’m going to use it. On occasion I’ve walked a few miles pulling this load and it works well as long as the trail is relatively smooth.

Folding wagon with portable station

Folding wagon with portable station

I originally purchased the SPUD box with the intent of building an EMCOMM box along the lines of this:

Emcomm box

Emcomm box

There’s an entire thread of various go boxes here. Most of these boxes are really well done but the more I thought about it the easier it was just to set the station in the box. I don’t mind pulling the stuff out of the box and wiring it up. It doesn’t take all that long. The emcomm boxes certainly have the advantage of simply attaching an antenna and power plus most have both an HF and VHF\UHF radio. To some extent these are probably serving a different need than my simple portable station.

Power for my portable station is provided by a trolling motor battery. Not the lightest power source but it provides plenty of capacity to run a portable radio at 100W for a fair amount of operating time. Eventually I’ll add a portable solar panel and charge controller to my portable station. For now what I have is working well. Over the past year the vast majority of my contacts have been from my portable station. As Andrew, VK1AD says, “Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life.

 

ARRL “The Doctor is in” podcast

In the event that you haven’t heard, this past April the ARRL started a bi-weekly podcast called “The Doctor is in.” The doctor is Joel Hallas, W1ZR who’s written “The Doctor is in” column in QST since 2006. His co-host is QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY. Each podcast has a topic and they also answer at least one question that was submitted to them that is usually related to the topic. The podcasts are about 20 minutes long.

This is an excellent podcast. It’s very well done and the topics are handled with just the right balance of science based in reality. Typically when Steve asks Joel a question his first response is something along the lines of “well it depends” followed by a reasonable explanation of the science flavored with the reality that there are always a number of variables at play so it’s hard to make exact statements with three decimal places of accuracy. This is especially true with most of the topics that they’ve presented so far, the vast majority of which have been related to antennas, feedlines, and propagation. The theme of “it depends” certainly applies in these areas. The math and science will get you in the ballpark but at the end of the day you have to fiddle with it to get it to do what you want. Antennas and feedlines will always do something, it’s just a matter of whether they are doing what you want them to do. The “Doctor is in” podcast definitely improves the signal-to-noise ratio of the topics that they address. I’d highly recommend that you add it to your list of favorite podcasts.