The Connecticut hacker scene is a sadder place this weekend, as my friend and fellow hacker Bill “Promodog” Saturno passed away last Wedensday. He was the president and one of the founders of CT Hackerspace, which hosted Cyber-Tek and “Sparks31” events. Cyber-Tek will be doing a benefit event for the space in Bill’s memory this summer. More details will be posted as they become available.
Dumb-assery seems to be the in-thing right now between our ill-implemented, albeit long-overdue, withdrawal from Afghanistan, Texas’ latest law regarding abortions, and the Supreme Court’s refusal to stop enforcement of the law right out of the gate, although I’ll give SCOTUS a free pass for now since there are procedures in place that need to be followed in the legal process. That’s a hint, people. If you are fighting against this law, make sure your legal team has their act together. In the meantime, the Prolifewhistleblower page, after getting shit-canned by Go-Daddy and even Epik, is now being forwarded to an anti-abortion group’s web page with the typical slanted new stories and appeals for donations. Internet: 1, Idiots: 0. The Internet is a free-speech zone only as long as you either host your own site (and deal with the consequences of it), or don’t get reported for violating your provider’s terms of service.
And now for something less depressing…
Jury-Rigged Antenna Experiments
Having decent weather yesterday, after doing the weekend hike with the family went and continued sorting through the detritus in what’s supposed to be my lab. While doing so, I usually listen to a police scanner just to keep apprised of local fire calls and air traffic in/out of KBDL, N41, KOXC, and 4B8. My definition of “local” includes a jurisdiction 40 miles away that still uses VHF-Low band, and a 20″ telescoping whip at ground level, while perfectly fine for hearing the C-17s coming into SWF, the C-5s into CEF, and of course the C-130s coming into KBDL, does not work well for VHF-Low band.
Going through the junk pile I found some angle iron, a 40 or so foot length of old RG-6 TV Coax, and my 2m/6m mobile whip antenna. Normally, I use the whip antenna on the metal roof of the storage shed where it has a nice big ground plane, but yesterday I decided to see if it would work any better 2 1/2 stories up on the roof of the house.
I used the pieces of angle iron as an improvised ground plane, and fortunately have a collection of coax adapters to mate the coax’s F-connector to the antenna’s N-connector and the radio’s BNC connector. This is a horrible installation by the way, and not something I’d recommend as an operational set-up. (Keep in mind I’m just screwing around to see what one can get away with.) The antenna is at an angle, the ground plane isn’t large enough for low-band, the coax is the wrong impedance, and all the adapters just add more signal-loss to the setup. If one were to do this right, the antenna should be level, the coax should be decent 50-ohm low-loss VHF-rated stuff (and not some crap pulled out of an old satellite TV installation), and the ground plane should be 1/4 wave in all directions from the base of the antenna.
Did it work? Yes. Did it work well? Compared to the antenna’s usual location on the shed roof, I’d say it was slightly better. The height advantage was offset by the horrible ground plane, crappy coax, and adapter signal loss. My trusty old MFJ-259 antenna analyzer put the the resonant points just below 2 Meters and above 6 Meters, with an SWR >2:1 in the VHF bands of monitoring interest. Despite all that, a one-hour monitoring test yesterday afternoon netted the following signals:
Frequency – Mode – (PL/DPL/NAC) – ID/Comments
33.820000 – FM – CTCSS 179.9 -Colchester, CT Fire Operations
45.860000 – FM – CTCSS 136.5 -CSP Hotline (Hartford, CT)
46.180000 – FM – CTCSS 141.3 – Middlesex County, CT Fire Dispatch
46.360000 – FM – CSQ – Dutchess County, NY Fire Dispatch
46.380000 – FM – CTCSS 123.0 -Putnam County, NY Fire Dispatch
118.575000 – AM -KHPN CTAF
119.400000 – AM -DXR CTAF
124.125000 – AM -ZBW Rockdale – High Alt.
125.500000 – AM -EWR Approach
125.700000 – AM -JFK Approach
126.225000 – AM -ZBW Boston – High Alt.
151.197500 – NFM – CTCSS 82.5 -Winsted, CT EMS
151.385000 – NFM – CTCSS 186.2 -Amherst, MA FD
154.310000 – P25 – NAC FD2 -Stratford, CT FD
154.340000 – P25 – NAC 007 -Berlin, CT FD
154.430000 – P25 – NAC A33 -Cromwell, CT FD
154.445000 – NFM – CTCSS 107.2 – Newington, CT FD
154.845000 – NFM – CTCSS 156.7 – Southhampton, NY PD
155.062500 – NFM – CTCSS 141.3 -Southbury, CT EMS
155.085000 – NFM – CTCSS 91.5 -Middletown, CT FD
155.235000 – NFM – CTCSS 97.4 – American Medical Response, Bridgeport, CT area
155.385000 – NFM – CTCSS 82.5 – Lifestar Med-Flight, Hartford, CT
155.565000 – NFM – CTCSS 162.2 – Winsted, CT PD
There were a couple surprises here. First was the aeronautical frequencies out of N90, the Southhampton PD, and the Amherst FD. Those are close to what I used to get when I had the Diamond Discone up. The second were the fire departments running P25. They have traditionally remained analog FM. While it is rather unfortunate that VHF-Low band is on it’s way out, along with analog NFM on VHF-High, a decent omni with some gain on the roof should let me hear out to 50 miles or so for terrestrial and 100 miles for aeronautical which is what I’d like to have.
Select New York and New England Upcoming Events
If you want your event listed, send me an email.
9/10 – 9/12 Northeast HamXposition
09/11/ Lancaster Hamfest
09/11/ Pioneer Radio Operator’s Society Hamfest
9/12 CT Computer Show
9/12 Saratoga County, NY Hamfest
9/18 Vintage Radio and Communications Museum Swap Meet
9/25 CT Computer Show
09/25 46th Annual Elmira International Hamfest
09/25 St. Croix Valley Amateur Radio Club Hamfest
10/02 Drumlins ARC Hamfest
8/8 – 8/10 Black Bear Music Festival
10/10 CT Computer Show
10/15 – 10/16 Near-Fest
10/17 MIT Flea (tentative)
More hamfest listings available at www.arrl.org/hamfests/.