K3LTC, Nate Berry
Operator Class: General
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. I check in regularly to the Wednesday night rag chew net on 145.210MHz (N2QPD-L on echolink) and try to find time to prepare a short story or two related to radio or astronomy to liven up the net a bit. 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
- 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-SDRsoftware 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. update 2021 - I believe I fried this device. It seems to be stuck at a set frequency now! I decided to upgrade but I will definitely be buying another of these because they seem to be better supported under Linux.
- SDRPlay RSP1A SDR device - certainly costs more than an RTL-SDR, and supposedly better but so far haven't been able to get it to work under Linux except with CubicSDR which I don't like. Have been running it with SDRUno in Windows but I'd much rather be using gqrx.
Baofeng BF-F8HP radiois a lot better built than I expected, it feels weighty in the hand and so far has been performing well. update 2021: this radio began to stop transmitting randomly which was super frustrating. Turning it off and back on might make it work again or not. I gave it to friend who didn't have a license yet to use for receive. He has since gotten licensed and moved on to better radios. I intend to get another Baofeng but this time the GT-5R which has corrected the spurious transmissions issue and only transmits on ham bands. Then I will be able to use these components with it:
- 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.
- I picked up a Yaesu FT-60R which quickly became my go to HT. Its so well made and solid, scans a LOT faster than the Baofeng and its menu system seems a bit more intuitive (to me). I use it in the car hooked up to the Comet or around the yard with the Nagoya or rubber ducky it came with. Highly recommend this radio.
- Baofeng UV-5R - just because it was $25 and what good is one handheld? This radio was opened and the COS was put to the unused portion of the audio jack with Pres, W2PW's help for use as an Allstar node radio.
- 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.
- 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
- Two Tempest 35Ah AGM batteries for portable operations
AstroDyne SP-320-13.5power supply rated for 22A to power the mobile Kenwood radio (Oct, 2018). update 2021 - wasn't using this at all so gave it to a friend who wanted to set up a CB base station.
- My main power supply at home is an old Astron RS-12A linear power supply which I use with the TR-7950 and TM-V71A. Its heavy but silent.
- Raspberry Pi 3b running Allstar
- URIxB USB Radio interface cable kit from DMK Engineering. With Pres, W2PW's help I made a custom 25 pin connector for this device to connect my COS modified Baofeng UV-5R (see above) to the Raspberry Pi to function as an Allstar node.
- 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:
- Intel NUC D54250WYK - i5-4850U @ 1.30GHz, 16GB Ram
- OS is Ubuntu 18.04 LTS installed on 128GB Crucial m4 mSata internal SSD and 1TB Seagate ST1000LM024 hard drive
- ASUS MX279H 27" monitor, HD 1920x1080, with integrated 5W amplified speakers
- Logitech K270 wireless keyboard and mouse (probably not a good idea for a ham 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.)