Santiago Peak (Saddleback Mountain) unofficial DXpedition

Darin and I just returned from our overnight trip to Santiago Peak, part of the Saddleback mountain range. Santiago peak is approximately 5600′ in elevation. Overnight conditions were in the low 60’s(F) with a very slight easterly breeze.

Our primary operating station was my Yaesu FT-857d, MD-100 desk mic and LDG AT-100 pro auto tuner. The HF antenna was a 102″ G5RV 80-6 meter dipole configured inverted V. Darin used his Kenwood TS-430 for a few contacts as well. We worked 2M, 10M, 15M, 17M, 20M, 40M and 80M. Darin also played around using his mobile rig on 11 meter making contacts with many odd-ball characters around SoCal.

Thank you for the contact if you worked us on the air! Click [HERE] for images of the trip.  –… …– 73!!

Morce Code Practice Software by G4FON

I’ve been a “no-code” HAM for almost 10 years and it’s time to expand my horizons. After upgrading to general almost three years ago (no code required anymore), I’ve had time to listen to the HF bands. This brought about a fascination with the dits and the dahs. “What are those operators talking about?”, I wondered. Now that I found a desire to learn the code, I had to find the proper method so I wouldn’t become discouraged. I recently upgraded to Amateur Extra and am proud that I know my code. Continue reading Morce Code Practice Software by G4FON

CQ World Wide Contest 2008

This weekend was the CQ World Wide contest.  In preparation, I recently purchased the Yaesu FT-857D HF/VHF/UHF mobile, G5RV “lite” dipole, and the LDG AT-100Pro Auto-tuner.  On Sunday morning I headed up to my favorite perch in San Clemente.  Bandit, my dog, accompanied me for the trip.  My mobile station, which usually runs 2 meter only, would be converted to HF/VHF using the new setup.  After about 10 minutes of setup, the G5RV was hoisted and I was about ready.

After dropping the coax through the car window, my station was almost ready to operate 80 through 2 meter.  The G5RV would handle 80-6 meter.  For 2 meter, I simply plugged in my existing mag-mount 5/8 wave.  I went through each band and let the auto-tuner memorize my operating frequencies.  It was my first time using an auto-tuner and I was blown away at how well the AT-100Pro did the job.

I wasn’t trying to contest per-se, but I did want to see how well my new setup would operate.  Contests are an efficient way to get a quick signal report, as there are plenty of DX’ers to choose from!  I made contacts with a few dozen states and several Canadian provinces on 20 meter.  I was most excited to get my first Japanese contact, JG1XLV, on 17 meters.   Next I tried the 15 meter band.  My first 15 meter contact was also in Japan, JN1NDY. Over the next 20 minutes I logged many 15 meter contacts, which included: Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the Cook Islands, and Hawaii.

Catch you next CQ day!


CARA Picnic

This weekend I attended the CARA (Catalina Amateur Radio Association) picnic at Heritage Park in Irvine.  I was able to finally put some faces to the call signs.  Bandit (my dog) and I enjoyed the picnic and conversations with many of the CARA members.  Thank you CARA for putting together such an enjoyable event!

VHF rig installed at home

Despite the best efforts of my Wifey and dog, my house has been too quiet lately.  In what way, you ask?  Repeater ID’s sounding off, squelch sounds, interesting conversations, etc.  Something must be done!

To remedy the situation, I ordered my second antenna from and pulled out an old Radio Shack HTX-212 VHF radio. After spelunking in my attic for a few minutes, the J-Pole was secured.  The only thing left to accomplish was running the coax to my home-office.  Well, I didn’t want to spend more time in my stuffy attic so I simply dropped the coax through the ceiling hatch, into the laundry room and through the kitchen.  Just a temporary solution, of course (I promise honey).  The SWR was charted in 500 kHz intervals from 144 to 148.  The highest reading was 1.25 at 148mHz.  The average was about 1.1 across the 2 meter band.

After an hour of SWR charting, repeater programming and a few radio checks, I was good to go.  Here is a list of repeaters that I can reach without difficulty:

  • K6SOA    146.025  (SOARA)
  • AA6DP    147.090  (CARA)
  • K6SOA    147.645  (SOARA)
  • K6SOA    145.240  (SOARA)
  • W6KRW   146.895  (OC RACES)
  • N6SLD     145.220  (CLARA)
  • W6SS     146.265
  • WD6APP  147.195
  • WA6SSS  146.895

Amateur Radio is the Ultimate Hobby!

If you heard my call sign on the air or found it on [] , welcome to my homepage.  You can visit the image gallery, which shows some of my equipment and my wish-list, by clicking [HERE] .  Due to proliferation of spam and inappropriate text, you’ll need to register before viewing full-size images or leaving comments.  I check each registration personally, so it may take a day or two for the account to be approved.

Imax 2000 Installation

I installed a new vertical for 10/11 meter on the roof of my office building. The IMAX 2000 is a .64 wave capacitive coupled vertical. It supposedly offers 3.2dBi gain. I found an educational write-up [HERE], which analyzes the construction and engineering behind this model.

Passed the General Exam

I decided to upgrade my Amateur Radio license from Tech class to General class.  The higher classification allows me access to the “HF” band, between ~ 1MHz – 50 MHz.  After 10-20 minutes of nightly study and numerous online practice tests, I was able to pass with a 95% (74% is required to pass).  I took the test at the TRW test site (aka: Northrup Grumman).  World-wide contacts are currently possible on some frequencies, but the best opportunities will be available during the next solar cycle (sunspots) peak in 2011-2012.  Calling CQ, CQ, DX!