Thursday, September 11, 2008


A quick update from W5-land... We arrived at our new QTH in Robinson, TX on August 29 and I quickly got most of the radios unboxed and set up the shack. My old desk was in pretty bad shape so a trip to Ikea was in order and yielded a nice corner desk with a riser platform I made from a cabinet door and some 8" stainless steel feet. The new backyard is about 50' x 50' but treeless - great for astronomy, not so much for dipoles and longwires; I think a ground-mounted vertical is a good possibility if I can keep it somewhat out of site of the management. Also a wire antenna of some sort in the attic as a second antenna though I doubt I can go longer than 40' or so.

Meanwhile, the same old story - SWLing with a random wire out the window, picking up every plasma TV and light dimmer in the neighborhood but occasionally pulling in some interesting stuff (interesting, that is, because it's far different than the northeast: no strong Euros on 75m in the evenings, for example, but many XEs. Just heard W6RJ booming in on 3799 kHz as I write this, but whoever he was working is buried in the noise.

Speaking of noise... all this computer shit is killing me! Cable modem, wireless router, printer, and computer PS all add up to a solid S9+ noise level. I'm sure this will be reduced when I have a coax-fed outdoor antenna but right now with a random wire running straight into the shack, I'm in RFI hell.

First thing I did after I got the internet hooked up was to upgrade the K3 to firmware version 02.38. Still no synchronous AM but a number of new features that were not there in the last version I loaded (1.75). Will need to download the updated manual to see what's what. In just a couple of days I've heard 3 different people on the 75 and 40 talking about their new K3s. Looks like the word is out...

I finally have the NRD-515 I bought last year unpacked and hooked up to the Kiwa MW Loop; when time permits I'll do some comparison tests to see how the 3.5 kHz Murata filter in this radio stacks up to the Kiwa 3.5 kHz module that I installed in my other '515.

The cable installer was fixated on my radios; he thought I was a broadcaster until I told him about ham radio. A PSK31 QSO was scrolling across the K3's display, so he asked about that as well as all the funny cards on the wall. Not sure if he's going to run out and get licensed but he was clearly interested in the technical stuff, especially the digital modes - we've come a long way since Morse code, I told him.