Sunday, May 29, 2011

Here we go again !!

M-Class Flares - Active Sunspot 1226 has a Beta-Gamma magnetic configuration and is capable of producing M-Class flares. An M1.1 Solar Flare took place on Saturday and a second M-Class flare has just took place early on Sunday. Region 1226 is being trailed by an additional sunspot group which has just rotated into view on the southeast limb. Solar activity is increasing and the Solar Flux is back above 100.

How do I Monitor Solar conditions ?
I use
IonoProbe 1.38 
IonoProbe is a 32-bit Windows application that lives in the System Tray and monitors the space weather parameters essential for HF radio. The list of parameters includes SSN/SFI, Ap/Kp, X-ray/Proton flux, and Auroral activity. IonoProbe downloads near-real time satellite and ground station data, stores information for future use and displays it in a user-friendly way.
Time-critical parameters, such as X-ray flux, proton flux and auroral index, are updated every 15 minutes. An alarm can be set up to notify you of a storm within a few minutes after its start. 

Space weather monitor for Amateur Radio 

For more info or to download the Ionoprobe software 
click on the link below

73 de N4LA

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Poor band conditions today !!

K Index at 6 ... Solar storm ?

Geomagnetic Storm - A Geomagnetic Storm is in progress early on Saturday and many signals are in on Aurora here on 6 meters just before sunrise. If you are high in latitude, be on the lookout for Aurora.

Flare / Sunspot watch - An active sunspot numbered 1226 rotated into view on Friday and is producing C-Class flares and there is now a chance for an M-Class event. The largest flare thus far was a C8.3 at 03:31 UTC Saturday morning. Sunspot 1224 located in the north is expanding as well. Continue to monitor the Solar X-Rays for further activity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

CQ DX ... A Nice Surprise From Iraq

YI9OBM / Trent
( This pic shows Trent's Tennadyne T-6 Log Antenna )

I had a nice surprise on Sunday morning ...
as I called CQ on 17 meter phone.
I was called by YI9OBM / Trent ...  in KirKuk Iraq !!
We had a nice 5 minute qso.
Even though propagation was poor.

Trent generates massive pile-ups worldwide ..
Because he is one of a select few, thats currently on the air
from this war torn location.

( Trent's operating position )

Below is part of an E-mail exchange between Trent and myself ...

Hi Todd,
Thanks for the chat the other day, 
it is good to hear the States.

I get about an hour at a time through the week...
just before/after dinner or maybe before bed, 
and some time on the weekends
 (if I don't pull some needed hours elsewhere).

I have half of a CHU, containerized housing unit, 
 my roomate is at another location (by design) 
but could return any day.

When I got here wx was bad, 
so I started assembly in the room 
and then finished on the roof 
 using a broken truck jack as a pedistal.

A telescopic mast was being discarded by an exiting Unit, 
I fixed the gearbox and cranked her up.

The Tennadyne is DC grounded (minimal static build) 
and the Alpha Delta Transitrap 
with two 6 foot ground rods 
has saved my system several times.

( 3rd pic ... Plywood Insulator )

In the third pic,
 check out the plywood insulator 
used to prevent the bare power wires 
from touching when the winds kick up....
My pain is QRN! 
This, and the rx of the 706 (no DSP) 
not being the best ... 
 results in multiple requests
 for the calling station's call sign. 

I'll listen for you....73,

Trent is a member of 
US Army Signal Corps

YI9OBM / Trent

Thanks for your "Service" Trent.
May God protect you 
and all our service men & women
serving around the world.
73 de N4LA

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dayton Hamfest 2011 News !!

Coming Soon !!
(Picture is a Prototype from Dayton 2011 Hamfest)
Elecrafts New "KX3"
( Photo provided by KE9V )

I will post more info as it becomes available


73 de N4LA

Monday, May 9, 2011

Southern "Cicada" Madness !!



NounA large homopterous insect (family Cicadidae, suborder Homoptera) with long transparent wings, occurring chiefly in warm countries. The male cicada makes a loud shrill droning noise after dark by vibrating two membranes on its abdomen.

I know this post isn't Ham Radio material ...
But I was wondering if any of my fellow radio ops...
Have experienced the ...
"Sounds of the Cicada" 
Here is a picture I took of the ...
"Shell of the Cicada"
This is whats left after they ...
emerge out of the ground...
and hatch.
They typically stay underground
for 13 to 17 years
before they hatch
The picture above was taken...
from my front lawn.

The Cicadas are here.....
by the thousands this year
they are very loud !!
I could hear them over my neighbors...
riding mower yesterday !!
It's a constant roar when ...
you walk outdoors.
Its really amazing...
 if you've never experienced the sound !!
No they don't bite or sting ?
But they are kinda scary looking !!
Check out the red eyes.

For more info on the "Cicada"
Click below

To hear the amazing sounds of the "Cicada"

Luckily ...
The Cicada are the most active...
and the loudest ..
during the hottest part of the day
instead of the middle of the night !!

Now if I could teach them
to call

73 de N4LA

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saturday Fun !!


( Click on Pictures to enlarge )

Over the past winter..
My friend Jack (W4TJE)
lost his top yagi ... Literally pieces at a time
over several weeks
due to storms and high winds.
Jacks Qth is located near Fancy Gap, VA
on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Elevation is just over 3000 ft
Jack is using a 3 stack of
five element
15 meter mono-band yagis
 on a 100ft tower
5 over 5 over 5
Saturday we set out to Remove
the top yagi.. and replace it with
a new custom built yagi from
"Force 12"
Saturday was a perfect day for antenna work ...
We Got started around 9:30 AM
Temps were low 60's 
with a light breeze
The picture above shows the tower crew ..
turning the 2nd yagi to a vertical position..
in order to lower the top (Broken) yagi.
As you can see ... the middle yagi
is mounted in a Tic Ring
so turning it was not a problem.
The top 2 yagis are rotatable 
The bottom yagi is fixed on Europe
The picture above shows
the new Force 12 yagi
going up via a tram line.
On top of the tower ...
Mike Koontz and his sister !!
The ground crew consisted of
3 people on tag lines 
3 people pulling the yagi up
As you can see...
We had a very successful day
the antenna went up without a hitch
The job was complete is less than 4 hours
Above is Mike Koontz (left)
and his nephew...wrapping things up.
If you ever need a good tower / antenna installer.
contact me or Jack  for Mikes info.
The photo above ....
Shows Jack / W4TJE
Doing his famous Virginia bear impersonation !!

Actually Jack is tying off one end 
of his 80 meter inverted V... 
and showing off his climbing skills !!
We also had a " famous " ham make an appearance on Saturday !!
K4MK / Kent Miller
Mr " DX " Himself
Famous for his St Lucia (J6) DX-pedition
Thanks for being there Kent !!
Thanks for the BBQ sandwich...  Jack
It was AWESOME !!

Jack is now 

73 de N4LA