It’s going to be another exciting month in ham radio! First, we’re meeting in a new location this month. The Farmers Branch Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Steve Parker and through the efforts of the Emergency Manager Lauren Sanchez, have graciously offered us the use of the training room at the Fire Administration Building. This is at the corner of Hutton Road and Valley View. Directions are on the website.
Second, sunspots are nearly zero. Well, for some days now they have been zero. No sunspots, no radio, right? Yet hundreds if not thousands of hams made contacts during the Thirteen Colonies event. There are all kinds of openings on various bands using both esoteric (FT8 anyone?) and traditional SSB phone and CW. It’s surprising that even with nearly zero sunspot numbers I’m not hearing the whining from the naysayers. They are on the air! You should be, too.
The seriously hot weather has abated for at least a while, so get out there and tackle that antenna project you’ve been postponing. Open up that new piece of equipment and give it a shot! Which brings me to my latest equipment forays.
I bought some solar panels at Ham-Com, and a West Mountain Radio Epic PWRgate. The Epic adds a solar power input and a more efficient power system that eliminates the big heat sinks. It also has settings you choose by jumpers (you must take it apart) or via USB (computer).
I happen to have a marine deep cycle battery and I decided to try and charge it with one of the solar panels and the Epic. Interestingly, the manual for the Epic doesn’t say what setting to use for flooded or wet batteries—Pb, or lead, used for gel cells; AGM; or Li(thium). So, I called West Mountain, and the engineer went back and forth on his recommendation to use the Pb or the AGM setting. Finally, he said the AGM setting wouldn’t hurt the battery but that I should use the computer to create a custom charging profile. Wow! Am I the only ham using flooded batteries?
Between solar battery controllers, SDR radios, nets, Hams & Eggs, club business, Play Days, ARES, RACES, Outdoor Warning Siren tests, and club opportunities, there’s no shortage of things you can do in the hobby. So, until next time, see you on the air!
73 Kevin, N5KRG