Monthly Archives: July 2018

The stuff you find

duplex outlet meant for AC but wired with TV antenna wire instead

Someone had wired this duplex electrical outlet with 300 ohm TV twinlead antenna wire.

Most of us in Amateur Radio get called on to do tech repairs of one kind or another. It’s like being the kid in your class who knew how to run the projector, right?

Anyway, last Thursday we spent the day helping XYL Susie’s sister get some of those jobs done. They did the curtain rod hanging, while I was assigned to “electrical” and A-V.

After hanging a new chandelier and unboxing and configuring a smart TV, I started on the wall outlets – 1950s style without the grounding socket. Odd how there were two of them within three feet near a window. After changing one of them out and testing it, I pulled the next one out and this is what I found – a duplex outlet wired with ancient 300 ohm TV twinlead!

Since the outlet had measured zip for voltage, I can only assume that someone had used it as a TV antenna outlet. Talk about not paying attention to impedance matching! It was removed and replaced with a blank wall plate.

Anyway, while I missed my radio club’s Thursday Radios in the Park (we got home just before 9:00 PM), it was fun to discover this, um, “creative” use of two electrical items that should never be used together – and to once again be the alpha geek.

Be careful with digital modes on the remotes

Mouse pad & mouseDigital mode operation has really come into its own this solar minimum.  As with any mode, there are some best practices to learn and follow when operating.  While digital modes are fairly straightforward when you are operating with your own station interfaced to your own local PC, it is not so easy when you are operating through a remote HF station.  There are plenty of compromises that you have to make – workarounds to deal with audio in and out of your PC, how to manage switching between transmit and receive, and with modes like FT-8, the critical nature of timing.

About all I can suggest is that you do your homework:

  • Check YouTube for how-to tutorials on each new mode you want to try.
  • Make a checklist because there are lots of steps to have to go through in setting up software and hardware.
  • Once you are ready, always check the rig’s mode of operation (often it should be set to USB) and transmit power output (usually MUCH less than the full power the rig is able to produce.)
  • Read the support forums at Remotehams.com for further setup and operating advice.

What to avoid:

  • Do NOT operate the radio at 100% transmit power when using digital modes!  Not only is this a bad practice that clutters the band, but it REALLY STRESSES the rig’s final amplifier.  Failing to lower the power level can get you banned from TX on HF remotes.
  • Please don’t leave the radio in some oddball configuration that will confuse the next user.  If you lower the power level, return it to 100% when you are finished.  If you activate the SPLIT function, turn it off before you leave.  If you set the RF GAIN down, return it to 100% when you are done.
  • Out of band usage: Please use the radio for ham band operation.  It is intended for ham radio use.  Of course the transmitter only activates in the USA ham bands (with some restrictions, mainly because of antenna limitations, depending on the remote station’s configuration), but the receiver can tune a much wider range.  We have had some issues with users who leave the receiver outside the ham bands and regularly tying it up by using it for SWLing when licensed users would like to use it in the ham bands.
  • Hogging the radio:  Please disconnect when you are finished.  Share with others who want to use the radio.  Pass the mic if more than one user connected.