Our First Summit Activation

My wife Julie (KN6AOC) and I did our first summits on the air activation over the weekend at Strawberry Peak W6/CT-086 in the Twin Peaks area between Lake Gregory and Lake Arrowhead.   I logged 23 contacts and Julie got 17.  I also made my first summit to summit contact with K1BAA who was working the Table Mountain W6/CT-067 summit near Wrightwood some 23 miles away.  And for a bonus, I sent a WinLink message to Cerritos American Red Cross station KK6SMD-10, about 50 miles away.  My longest contact of the day was 100 miles away with station KI6YLQ in Ridgecrest.  …

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Antennas for Emergency Communications

Over the past year, I have experimented with a lot of antennas trying to find a good combination of gain and portability since the majority of my contacts are in the field. I will summarize my observations and make some recommendations broken down into two categories: packable and transportable.  There are plenty of good vehicle-mounted and home base antennas to talk about, but since this article is about emergency communications in the field (as in, on foot or on a bike – my experience), I won’t discuss those here.

Packable Antennas

By “packable”, I literally mean an antenna that can …

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Yaesu System Fusion with a Pi 2 Model B

While experimenting with the digital world, I thought I’d try to build a Pi-Star as a connection point for my Yaesu FT3DR.  There are plenty of tutorials online on how to do this, so I won’t get into that.  I’ll just say that yes it works and it only took about an hour from downloading the latest Pi-Star image, formatting the SD card and configuring the Pi-Star to get up and running. 

Compared to the Wires-X software, I definitely like the Pi-Star dashboard better since it keeps track of everything I hear and it’s linked up to QRZ.com for looking …

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FT3DR No Audio on Wires-X

A rather odd thing happened with my Yaesu FT3DR when connected to the computer with the SCU-39 USB audio cable – I could transmit but could not receive any audio!  I knew that the radio’s audio was working because I could hear non Wires-X stations just fine – just no digital.  I tried reinstalling the Wires-X software – no change.  Finally I realized that the radio was starting up in Analog Wires-X mode.  The only reason I noticed this was by looking at the log that shows up in the Wires-X software and then over at the radio which was …

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Yaesu FT3DR Digital Fusion Untethered Using ZUM Spot USB

A few weeks ago I bought the Yaesu FT3DR and the SC-39 Wires-X interface cable kit.  Wires-X makes it possible for me to talk to other Ham operators all around the world while I’m at my home where the path to nearby repeaters is obstructed by hills all around.  By itself, this has been a blessing to be able to talk to people outside Orange County, checking in on the current state of affairs as we all weather this COVID-19 pandemic.  I’ve also experimented with taking my home setup mobile in a previous article, “Fully Mobile Digital Ham

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Belmont Park, Orange, California Simplex Site Survey

Belmont Park is located on the corner of Somerset Street and Via Escola in Orange, California.  It is open from 5AM to 11PM. There are a few street parking spots.

This park could be used as a strategic point-to-point relay between this area and Coastal Peak Park in Newport Beach, California 15 miles due south. 

This spot is also a good simplex relay station for other stations located in Orange, Tustin, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Irvine. Below is a map of the line of sight coverage from Belmont Park. The actual coverage …

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Fully Mobile Digital Ham Radio with Wires X

Below is a video demonstration of a fully mobile digital ham radio setup that can be operated anywhere within range of Wi-Fi or cellular networks.  With this setup I can connect to any Wires-X room in the entire world.  I can be indoors working plugged into AC and WiFi or fully portable using battery power and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The laptop is handy for quickly finding and switching to rooms, but so long as you have a nearby Wires-X or System Fusion repeater connected to the Internet you could work with just the handheld radio.

Parts to buy:

  • A radio

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Can You Find Us? Fox Hunt Monday 3/16

On Monday, March 16, 2020, my wife Julie and I will be the foxes hiding in a 93 square mile area of northeastern Orange County.

We will be within these boundaries:

  • East of the 57 freeway.
  • Generally South of Carbon Canyon Regional Park and Chino Hills State Park.
  • West of the 241 and 261 toll roads.
  • West of Santiago Oaks Regional Park and Irvine Regional Park.
  • North of the 5 freeway.

We will begin transmitting tones on the input frequency of the OCRACES repeater which is 146.295 MHz (136.5 Hz PL), beginning at about 7:20 PM following the OCRACES weekly …

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