K3LTC.com

K3LTC, Nate Berry

Operator Class: General
latitude: 40.83677
longitude: -72.91705
Grid Square: FN30mu

I received my Technician license on April 19, 2018 and successfully upgraded to General soon after on May 8, 2018. As I am still relatively new to Amateur Radio, my shack is currently quite modest. I started out with an inexpensive Chinese handheld radio but soon graduated to a more capable Kenwood mobile. I'm interested in all aspects of the hobby but digital modes and how radios can be interfaced with computers foremost. I am active in my local Radio club, Suffolk County Radio Club and currently run the club's website and twitter. So far I have operated mainly on 2 meters locally as I research (and save for) radios that will allow me to access HF. This site serves as a sort of virtual QSL card and as a reference as I learn more about the hobby.

My shack so far

Radios

  • Kenwood TM-V71A dual band mobile bought through DX Engineering.
  • Kenwood TR-7950 - single band 2M radio built in 1984 with optional TU-79 tone board (working) previously used by my parents, and given to them originally by Lenny W2FX
  • RTL-SDR software defined radio USB dongle and adapter from SMA to SO-239 so I can connect it to the Comet antenna. Works great with gqrx in Ubuntu, didn't need to install any special drivers or anything - once I got gqrx installed the rest was just plug and play.
  • The Baofeng BF-F8HP radio is a lot better built than I expected, it feels weighty in the hand and so far has been performing well.
    • Baofeng USB Cable has one end with the standard Kenwood speaker mic 3.5mm and 2.5mm plugs and the other end with a USB A-style connector.
    • Nagoya NA-771 Antenna - not sure how much difference this actually made to the performance of the Baofeng as I replaced the rubber duck it came with immediately and never used it at all.
    • A Kenwood KMC-45D speaker mic has replaced the speaker mic that came with the Baofeng as of Sep, 2018. note: I ended up using an Xacto blade to shave off a tiny bit of plastic so the connector would seat properly in the radio - it was easier than modifying the radio's receptacle.
  • Baofeng UV-5R - just because it was $25 and what good is one handheld? Current plan for this radio is to modify it to connect to a Raspberry pi to serve as an Allstar node.
  • Radio Shack PRO-97 scanner - this is an older scanner and local police have rebanded so I can no longer use Motorola talk group IDs to trunk track which makes listening to emergency band a bit chaotic but the (new) FM frequencies they use can still be received and it does a great job of quickly scanning the 2m and 70cm bands for Fire and Aircraft. I have one bank programmed with the same Amateur channels as in the Baofeng so I can reference by channel number easier.

Antennas

  • Comet SBB-5 dual band mobile vertical antenna
    • Comet CP-5M adjustable lip mount - note: I ran a 14AWG solid copper lead between the adjustment bolt nuts of the two halves because I couldn't see how the antenna would actually make contact with ground (the trunk lid) since the two halves are separated by a piece of plastic.
  • Comet GP-3 dual band vertical antenna
  • FRC LTP600 Tripod repurposed aluminum stand for emergency apparatus as portable stand for GP-3 antenna

Power

Computer

  • Raspberry Pi 3b running Allstar
  • Signalink USB radio interface with cables for Kenwood and Baofeng
  • Chirp programming software (free) - I'm using this because it will run on my Linux machine.
  • Gqrx SDR software (free) - was super easy to get running under Ubuntu and turns the RTL-SDR into a useful receiver (it doesn't transmit). This makes discovering active channels much easier and I like that I can "bookmark" frequencies and get back to them later with just a click of the mouse.
  • x86 PC in the shack:
  • ASUS C202SA-YS02 11.6" Ruggedized Chromebook - great for taking notes or looking things up when portable. Battery life is very long, made for schools so it can take a beating. I use it in developer mode so I can switch between the stock ChromeOS and a full Linux OS (using Crouton).
  • I'm using a Google spreadsheet to keep track of what I hear on the various channels I have programmed (I exported the list from Chirp and uploaded it to the spreadsheet), then I have another tab in that spreadsheet where I am keeping a list of the contacts I make. Even more tabs are used as calculators for antenna length and programming notes for the radios. I know there are programs designed specifically for keeping track of QSOs but this spreadsheet is easily available on all my devices (smartphone, chromebook, laptop, desktop, etc.)