Tag Archives: Eric McFadden

Eric seeks advice: Building a directional mediumwave antenna for the RSP2 SDR

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who writes with the following question:

A request for assistance.

After comparing the reception of the RSP2 and 1/2 doublet to the reception of the County Comm GP-5 SSB and its little external ferrite-bar, I’ve decided I probably want to make some sort of directional antenna to use on AMBC with the RSP2. A wire loop, perhaps, or some sort of ferrite-bar thing, that connects to the RSP2’s Hi-Z input.

[Perhaps SWLing Post readers can suggest] options and then I can get the needed bits at the 2017 Hamvention.

Post readers: if you can offer Eric suggestions, or point him to antenna plans, please comment! I do believe he would rather build an antenna than simply buy one and he’s looking to permanently mount this antenna outdoors.

Eric spots a Drake SPR-4 shortwave receiver on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), who is quite a Drake fan and recently spotted this SPR-4 on eBay.

The seller has it listed as an auction currently at $400, but with a BuyItNow price of $600 US. That’s a fairly steep price considering Universal Radio has sold them in the past for +/- $400. Of course, the last one in Universal’s sold index was posted in 2011.

I’ve never owned a Drake receiver, but I’ve certainly used them and have been impressed with their performance and audio fidelity. SPF-4 reviews on eHam are certainly positive.

Image source: Universal Radio

I know this: I love the blue backlit dials on this particular Drake line! Gorgeous!

Click here to view on eBay.

A Replacement Whip Antenna for Sony ICF-SW7600G

The Sony ICF-SW7600G (Photo: Universal Radio)

This is a guest-post by Eric, WD8RIF.

I’ve had my Sony ICF-SW7600G for almost twenty years. Early on, my very young son broke the receiver’s telescoping whip antenna and it was a simple and inexpensive matter to order a replacement whip assembly from Universal Radio, the Sony dealer from whom I had purchased the radio.

Recently, the receiver’s antenna failed at the pivot-point. First, the factory-supplied countersunk screw’s Phillips-head stripped out through repeated attempts to tighten the pivot over the years until finally I  had to replace the screw. The best replacement screw I could find was a 2mm x 6 Allen-head screw from an R/C hobby shop that appeared to work fine until I managed to strip the antenna’s threads through over-tightening this screw. (Perhaps the Allen wrench simply provided too much torque for such a small screw.)

Clearly, it was time to actually buy a replacement antenna. This turned out to be easier said than done. Universal Radio is no longer a Sony distributor and has no access to parts for Sony products. A visit to the Sony website disclosed that service-parts are handled by two other companies, neither of which could provide the antenna—a surprising thing to discover since I think the antenna used in the ICF-SW7600G is the same part which is used in the current-model ICF-SW7600GR. A search on Amazon disclosed a seller offering the part for over $52, far more than I wanted to pay. Perhaps belatedly, I thought to check eBay where I found several listings, some offering the genuine Sony part shipped directly from Japan. I was intrigued, however, in the listing by stone_deng (link) who offered a non-OEM replacement antenna, shipped from Virginia, for $16.80 with free shipping. The description claimed the antenna was a perfect-fit replacement. Figuring the price would make this a good gamble, and because I wouldn’t have to wait weeks for delivery from Japan, I placed an order for one on a Monday evening and the postman delivered the antenna to my mailbox the following Friday. (I noticed as I was composing this post that stone_deng has raised the price for this antenna to $19.90 with free shipping.)

In comparing the replacement antenna with my original Sony part, the only difference I could see is that the metal tip of the replacement antenna is of a different style. Dimension-wise, the two antennas appeared to be identical.

Installation of the new antenna was simple. A single screw secures the antenna to the radio.

Remove this screw and pull the antenna straight out of the receiver.

It should be possible to slip the new antenna into the hole, twisting it to properly line up the mounting-flange, and run the screw back into place. In my case, the new antenna insisted on snagging on something inside the radio and I ended up removing the rear-panel entirely to install the new antenna rather than try to force the antenna into place. Fortunately, the rear panel is easily removed.

Remove the battery-cover and the four AA cells. Remove the five black Phillips-head screws that are marked on the rear panel with arrows. The rear panel will then lift straight up. Insert the new antenna into its hole, lining up the mounting flange with the screw-hole, and insert and tighten the screw. Carefully place the rear panel into place, lining up the four screw holes, and insert and tighten the five screws. Re-insert the AA cells and replace the battery cover.

I’m hopeful that this non-OEM antenna will prove to be rugged but time will tell. If this antenna proves to be inferior than the original in some way, I will post a follow-up to this post.

Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t know stone_deng, and I don’t have any financial interest in his company or products.

Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Click here to visit Eric’s website which features QRP operation. Eric is based in Athens, Ohio.

ARISS contact today: stream on the web or perhaps listen with your radio!

NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson’s 7th Spacewalk (Image source: NASA)

Last night, my buddy Eric McFadden (WD8RIF) notified me that the International Space Station would be making a pass this morning and doing an ARISS contact with three schools in Belgium.

It appears this pass will create an opportunity for some of us at least in eastern North America (and elsewhere) to listen to the transmission live.

Eric notes:

The frequency of the downlink should be 145.800MHz. As the ISS climbs above your horizon, because of doppler-shift, listen on 145.805. Switch to 145.800 as the ISS approaches zenith. Switch to 145.795 as the ISS drops toward the other horizon. You’ll know when to switch frequency when the audio gets bad.

[…]The ISS runs real power so an HT with anything but the shortest rubber duck should be OK, particularly when the ISS is well above the horizon. A 1/2-wave whip on the HT is better.

The contact starts at 13:47 UTC (08:47 EST)–about one hour from time of this posting.

As Eric notes, pretty much any VHF handheld radio or scanner can easily receive this contact as long as you can tune to 145.80 MHz +/-.

Last time I was in a place to tune to the ISS, it was with my kids and we all got a kick out of hearing astronauts answer questions from children here on Terra Firma. I wrote a short post about this.

Don’t worry if you miss this ARISS contact–they happen all the time. Check the ARISS “Upcoming Contacts” (http://www.ariss.org/upcoming-contacts.html) page where future ARISS QSOs are listed. No doubt, it will pass over your part of the globe at some point!

Southgate ARC also posted the following announcement with a link to the live webcast:

ARISS contact webcast

On Thursday 12 January 2017, an ARISS contact is scheduled with three schools in Belgium.

Two schools will operate from the Euro Space Center.

The event will be web streamed live on:
https://www.facebook.com/eurospacecenter

The radio contact is scheduled at 13.47 UTC, which 14.37 CEWT.

The web streaming will start around 14.00 local time.

73,

Gaston Bertels, ON4WF
ARISS past chairman

Thanks again, Eric, for the tip!

National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

IMG_20160519_105823050_HDREn route to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention, I’m doing a few National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations with my my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF).

Eric is currently the number one activator in the state of Ohio.

NPOTA is a great excuse to get outdoors and play radio.

For me, it’s a great excuse to test the LNR Precision LD-11 and my new QRP Ranger portable power pack.

The QRP Ranger (left) and LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (right)

The QRP Ranger (left) and LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (right)

I am loving the new QRP Ranger power pack–it is the solution I decided on after publishing this post a few weeks ago. It’s a little pricey, but it’s built like a tank, very lightweight, includes a charge controller made specifically for the LiFePo cells, and made here in the USA. It also had a very readable LED display that my buddy Eric says is, “reminiscent of the displays on the Apollo 11 module.” He’s kind of right!

It’s so nice to have both a volmeter and ammeter on the front panel.

IMG_20160519_111039495

We just finished activating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (I’m writing this post while Eric drives us to our next activation). I made 12 contacts running SSB at 8 watts. Eric made 16 contacts via CW at 5 watts.

We have planned two more activations this afternoon:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument at 16:30 UTC
  • Dayton Aviation Herital National Historical Park at 21:00 UTC

I’ll be calling CQ on 14.290 MHz and 7.290 MHz +/-.

Please hop on the air listen and/or answer my call if you’re a ham!

Of course, tomorrow through Sunday, you can find us at the Dayton Hamvention in booth SA0359 in the Silver Arena.

Hope to see you there!