Pacificon 2019

I recently attended the Pacificon Hamfest in San Ramon, and I wanted to share with you a few photos from that event. The sponsoring organization, the Mt. Diablo Amateur Radio Club is a very active club, with activities that include an active ATV Net along with voice nets on their repeaters, and even a member that enjoys what he calls “Parachute Portable” Operation – as seen in a recent QST Magazine.

Pacificon is a good-sized event, with great participation from both industry manufacturers and seminars from subject matter experts. On the first day of the event, they host an Antenna Seminar, with a wide-selection of topics of general interest. I was most interested in the Minimal EME Station and Slot Antenna presentations, but all the presenters were interesting and informative.

As I often do, I offered to volunteer to assist the organizers (when I’m lucky enough to attend Dayton Hamvention I volunteer for a few hours, typically driving attendees to their cars in golf carts) and was asked to work “security” for a couple hours. I was glad to do it, and had a fine time walking the floor helping keep an eye on things. I highly recommend volunteering if you ever have the opportunity – my shift was late afternoon on Saturday, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, so I was able to jump on any bargains when the event opened up Saturday.

Below are some pictures, hopefully you’ll get the opportunity to attend this well-run hamfest.

These hallway tables were for non-profits and area clubs
Well-stocked kit-building area, typical blinky-light or code practice oscillator kits
Flex Radio and Expert Amplifiers were in attendence
Elecraft Radio and Elk Antennas
Spot the YouTube Celebrity, Randy, K7AGE
Let’s play a game called “Where’s Ray Novak” – one hint, he’s not facing the camera!
Tubes, glorious tubes!
Loose tubes of unknown condition, for aesthetic purposes (every shack needs some tubes!)
There were several retailers of odds-and-ends in the swap meet area
The MDARC Comm Van, note the 23cm beams, used for remote ATV links
There was something for every budget!
What shack is complete without at least one Astatic D-104 microphone?
Most vendors stayed on the show floor all three days, but a few left after Saturday

Well, I hope that gives you a glimpse into Pacificon 2019.

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Remote Radio Operation – RemoteHams

So tonight, in about 30 minutes, I took an Icom IC-7100, attached an IT-100 Antenna Tuner which in turn is connected to my MFJ-1838 cobweb antenna, and set up the RemoteHams software to control it from the other side of the DFW metroplex.

The first step would be to load the manufacturer drivers for the USB connection, but I had previously done that.

Then I physically connected the radio to the windows computer, checked for the COM ports that were created (COM5 and COM6 in my case), and made a note of them.

Then I logged into my cable/router to setup/configure port-forwarding covering the specified ports and pointed them at the PC I will be running to control the radio.

The next step is to install the server software from, select my radio (IC-7100), and make sure the sound settings are correct (both point to audio codec settings). You’ll need a RemoteHams account to complete the setup. You’ll need to configure the ‘publishing’ tab, this is where you decide how you want to share access to your radio – I just made mine public and enforced TX control, so that I need to approve any user before they are allowed transmit on my radio.

Then I installed the client software on my windows PC, again, I needed to login to the client, and I picked my radio from the list. To test the connection I hit the ‘tune’ button, and it required be to get approved before I could transmit. Success!

Some radios are very simple to configure, they simply require a USB cable between the radio and computer.

Things to figure out with my radio setup are getting access to some radio functions like DStar, the 70 cm band, etc. – I can enter UHF frequencies but I do not have the ability to select the 70 cm band the same way I can 160 – 2 meters.

If you are curious, you can install the client and test out my radio. Not sure how long it will remain up, but likely into Feb. 2019 (next month as I write this).

DIY Remote Radio Now.pdf

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Spectrum Scope – IC-7610

Courtesy of N9EWO:

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Spectrum Scope – IC-R8600

Courtesy of N9EWO:

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Spectrum Scope – IC-7300

Courtesy of N9EWO

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Audio Tips for the TS-590S

I have come across this excellent resource for wringing the best audio out of (and into) the Kenwood TS-590S, and I wanted to share it.

I came into possession of a TE-590S at Dayton 2018 for the great price of $495 with the understanding that the USB port was not working. After playing with the radio since Dayton and after reading this article, I think my TS-590S is going back to Kenwood to get the USB port repaired.

Fair warning, to really get the best sound out of (and into) your TS-590S, you’ll need to connect a Windows computer running Kenwood’s free ARCP-590 software. As a bonus, I can’t wait to test out the Visual View feature shown below:


ARCP-590 Software:

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Custom Kantronics TNC – Radio Cables

Kantronics KPC-9612+ TNC

I don’t use external TNCs, but I have friends that do, and every once in a while a friend or customer will ask me about a cable to connect one particular Kantronics TNC to one particular radio, and I always refer them to this company – Associated Radio – they have been making custom interface cables for years now and their prices are reasonable in my opinion.

Associated Radio
8012 Conser
Overland Park, KS 66204
(800) 497-1457

I was initially directed to them by Kantronics technical support, and I encourage anyone looking for custom Kantronics TNC-Radio interface cables to give them a call.

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Kenwood TM-281A 2 Meter Mobile

Kenwood TM-281a Two Meter Mobile Amateur Radio

I was helping a friend program his new Kenwood TM-281A Two Meter radio, and we had an interesting problem. We had recently performed some maintenance on our local 2M repeater (WA5CKF in Irving, TX) and the programming file I had for the TM-281A didn’t seem to work with the repeater now. We could “open” the repeater, which tells me we had the right PL Tone set, but we heard nothing from the repeater, despite seeing the S meter indicate a signal.

Continue reading

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NIST Time and Frequency Standards

With all this talk of the NIST cancelling some time and freq. standard services to save $6.5M, I present this overview of their services. The material may be dated, but should be fairly accurate.

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Favorite Mustang

289 C.I. V8 Fastback, spotted in Plano, TX

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