Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Communications Academy 2011

Greetings!  Who knows if anyone is still following this blog but I’m still here and it’s time I started posting again.  I’ve been absent because other aspects of my life have taken priority and I didn’t have any time or energy left to blog here.  My priorities have changed and I find that I want to get more active and on the air.  I also have recommitted myself to becoming an active and helpful member of the Seattle ACS.

The first thing that’s coming up is the 2011 Communications Academy.  This is weekend long conference in Seattle dedicated to high quality emergency communications training.  Sadly I didn’t make it to the 2010 conference but the years I have attended were very useful.  I don’t expect 2011 to be any less.  The problem with the large amount of information that will be presented over the weekend is that I can’t attend all the sessions that are offered.  I have to pick and choose, so here are my choices for this year’s conference:


09:30 Keynote – Reality Check: The four stages of ARES
10:45 Message Forms & Duty Logs: What You Really Need When You're Activated...
12:00 Lunch – Networking
13:30 EAS for Emergency Communications
15:15 A Review of the Honshu 9.0 Earthquake and Tsunami


09:30 Keynote – Interoperability in the state of Washington and the Importance of Amateur Radio Process
10:45 Communication Hubs: A Grassroots Concept
12:00 Lunch – The Willy Wonka Factory of Communications
13:30 Antennas for Emergency Communications
15:00 Low-Cost Portable Email Gateways

Other than the sessions there will be a display of emergency communications vehicles and while I can’t afford some of the most shiny versions that city, county and state government groups might have I should be able to pick up a few ideas for improving my own vehicle.  There will also be some exhibitors, a portable radio contest and even some prizes.  The cost for the entire weekend is $65 if you pay in advance or $75 at the door.  This cost includes lunch on both days and I believe is an excellent value for what I will gain from attending.  Once I’m done I’ll try to post up some of my experiences and what I learned.

73 de N0BML

Monday, April 4, 2011

Returning From Hiatus

With my friends moving away from LiveJournal and other changes in my life I’m going to be resurrecting this blog for my posting about my amateur radio, emergency communications and electronics projects.  I’m probably speaking into the wind here but whatever.  Some people have found past posts of mine helpful and maybe they will again.

I have three blogs used for different purposes.  They are:

  • Leber Hall – My personal blog on a variety of topics.
  • N0BML – This very blog you are reading now.
  • Seattle Whist Club – Dedicated to teaching the game of Whist and organizing players in the Seattle area.

See you around…

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nice and quiet...

Saturday was a day full of emcomm activities at the Seattle Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for me. Starting at 1000 I joined other Seattle ACS members at the Seattle Office of Emergency Management's EOC for the Washington Emergency Management Division (WAEMD) EOC-to-EOC test. On every 5th Saturday the various EOCs in the state try to contact the state EOC each other. This was my first time participating and I was assigned to check-in to the HF net run from the state EOC. I was unable to check-in to the net. The spirits of HF propagation were not in my favor. Probably a combination of the storm that was hassling the state EOC and their operations from a field location. We hung up the mike at 1200 having never been able to contact the primary or alternate net control station.

Later that day I was back at the Seattle EOC which was being activated to support the Seafair Torchlight Parade. Volunteers from Seattle ACS monitored the amateurs helping along the parade route, Police and Fire frequencies. As the EOC was activated we had representatives from several city departments ready in the event of an incident. We didn't experience any incidents and spent the evening monitoring the parade, running table top exercises and generally chatting. A nice and quiet evening, just the way I like them.

Next time I'll make sure and bring some materials so I can work on my license upgrade or study disaster response plans.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ice Tube Clock


Tonight I finished the Ice Tube Clock kit from Adafruit. While this wasn’t the first kit I’ve built it was the most involved so far.  The PCB was tightly packed compared to other projects and getting all the wires on the IV-18 vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) tube through the holes and soldered took a bit of patience.  One thing I like about this kit was the steps where the circuit is tested as it is built.  It let me know that I had connected the parts correctly as I progressed.

In the future I plan to pick up a USBtinyISP AVR Programmer Kit so that I can update the firmware on the ATmega168V-10PU CPU.  One feature I would like to add would be switching the display between local time and UTC time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Run

Yesterday instead of setting off explosives to celebrate our Independence Day I melted some solder.  Taking my shiny new Hakko 936 ESD soldering station out for a spin I build the Continuity Tester kit from pQRP.  The soldering went like a dream, which I expected when using a better setup than the $10 soldering iron I had been using from Radio Shack.  With a bit of help from David, N8QG, to cut the necessary holes in the case the project is almost complete.  I still need to file out the holes and connect the jacks and switches to the case.

pQRP CT Progress

Friday, July 2, 2010

In our cups

Earlier this week was the monthly Pie & Coffee (P&C) meeting for the
Pacific Northwest QRP Club (pQRP). I hadn’t been in a few
months and I had forgotten how fun, informational and inspiring these
meetings can be. One of the things I like about the pQRP club is we
don’t have officers, dues or agendas. It’s just a bunch of people who
enjoy QRP and being social. The usual format of the meeting is we
order pie and coffee and then members who have something to discuss go
around the table and talk about what they like. Some highlights from
last nights meeting were:

Lyle, KK7P, talked about the USB Radio Interface (USBRI) project
he’s been designing. He passed around a prototype he had built and
explained its operation and design. Once the design is finish we’ll
purchase parts as a group and each have one to use in our shack. The
USBRI device connects to a PC via USB and provides a couple of serial
ports, line-in and stereo out audio connectors. Systems these days do
not have serial ports and the audio controllers on laptops leave a lot to
be desired. With the USBRI we get around that with a dedicated

Bruce, N7RR, showed off a Begali HST Single Sever paddle
and another paddle he has reviewed for an upcoming issue of QST.
After the presentations we chatted about learning CW and
backpacking with radios. A very enjoyable chat which we continued in
email the next day.

As I was about to leave Doug, W7RDP, asked if I was interested in
the pQRP Continity Tester kits the club had put together. I was but
thought I had missed out on the opportunity to purchase one. Luckily
Doug had a couple of extras. Doug and I also talked about soldering
stations since I have a few kits to build and have gotten tired with
the cheap soldering iron I have. I’m going to pick up a
Hakko 936 ESD this weekend.

A good meeting even if I didn’t get a piece of pie. ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Field Day Flop

My Station

This weekend was Field Day. For a lark I decided to setup my portable QRP station in the back yard and see if I could log a few contacts. I thought I knew where all the parts were for my station but I found out I was missing the microphone for my radio and the feedline I would normally use.

I found a feedline but it had BNC-F connectors on both ends while the radio and antenna both have SO-259 connectors. Using a pair of BNC-M/PL-259 adapters I was able to get the feed line attached to the antenna.

Speaking of the antenna this was my first outing with a shiny new Buddistick. I need to read some more and experiment a bit as I'm sure I could get better results. The Buddistick is nice and light which keeps the total station weight down. A good thing with my plan on going backpacking with this setup.

I was able to copy a few callsigns and QSOs so it wasn't a complete waste of my time. More importantly I now have a list of things to find or purchase for the next attempt.

73 de NØBML