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

Friday, June 18, 2010

To the Field!

I've had my amateur license since November of 2000 and have had some good times operating VHF and UHF for various ARES exercises and public service events. This is a fine aspect of the hobby and I won't give it up, but I've been itching to wade out deeper into the water.

I already own a Yaesu FT-817 but was still missing a few parts to get on the air. Using some of my fun budget I purchased a Buddistick Deluxe antenna, a Z-817 auto-tuner and some coax cable with the proper connectors on the end. Once they arrive I will have everything needed to get on the air. Everything should fit in an easy to carry bag and while it might not be light enough for a serious backpacking trip I will be able to hike out and get on the air. In the future I will add some external batteries and other antenna options to expand the operating options.

(This November will be the 10th anniversary of being a licensed amateur radio operator. Where does the time go? Only have 15 years until I can join QCWA. ;)

Discovering Loss

In preparation for moving my brother into my QTH I needed to reorganize the storage unit to make room for his stuff. Since I was moving everything around I performed a “mini-inventory” of my radio gear. I didn’t find my Yaesu FT-290R II which is part of my packet radio setup. Thinking back I don’t remember moving it from the old QTH.

About a year ago we discovered the door storage unit at the old QTH had been pried open. I looked through the contents and didn’t think anything was missing. I guess I was wrong. So now it’s a year later and I’m short one radio. Like a fool I don’t have serial numbers for my radios written down and I didn’t file a police report. Live and learn I guess.

The new project for this weekend is to make a complete inventory of all of my radio gear, including serial numbers, and make sure I have insurance to cover any loss.

Does anyone have experience with the ARRL’s equipment insurance plan?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Hello, my name is Brendan and my callsign is N0BML. I've used these words to introduce myself during several amateur radio meetings. I have tried many of the different aspects of amateur radio and while there are several more to explore I've decided to focus most of my time and energy on emergency communications and public service. This blog is going to be documenting my activities and experiments along the way. Here are a few projects I've chosen to get started.

Lancer8800 - I have a Yaesu FT-8800R that I am going to install in Zero, my 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ES. My friend N8QG is going to help my install the radio and antenna. In a couple of weeks I'll have the funds to buy the parts we need.

ExtraMe - Currently I have a General class amateur radio license. I'm going to be studying to pass the exam to upgrade to an Amateur Extra class license, the highest class amateur radio license available. Just because I can.

PortableQRP - I also have a Yaesu FT-817ND and am going to assemble a portable station for QRP operations. Being a basement apartment my QTH is very poor for antenna placement. Having a "station in a bag" will allow me to hike up to a few mountain tops or light houses and make some contacts.

I have many more project ideas but these are the top three that are my goals. After they are complete I'll examine my options and select the next few projects. Other things that I will blog about in the coming days are training courses, exercises, public service events and anything else related to amateur radio that catches my fancy. Welcome!