Tag Archives: hf

Living Together in Tiny Spaces – Hobbies and Agreements

We enjoyed a fabulous gathering of aluminized folks at John Leake’s Alumalina Rally at Palmetto Cove Park in Cleveland SC. Approx 120 Airstreams, members and non-members of the Airstream Club, didn’t matter – everyone seemed to have a great time in wonderful Fall weather.

The drive back to Ashe County was accentuated by Blue Ridge Parkway trip from Blowing Rock to Deep Gap. Whatever the experts say, this afternoon was PEAK COLOR on that stretch of the BRP! Just gorgeous.

Just returned to Woodland Ridge, our spot in Ashe County this afternoon and glad rain hasn’t started yet. We want rain, but nice to have opportunity to park the Airstream, arrange everything, get settled without dealing with rain too. Let it rain tonight!

This was a “contest” weekend for ham radio everywhere. No matter where I dial in, multiple ham radio operators from all over the world trying to connect with each other. On one hand, sort of amazing so many people are involved in ham radio. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) reports more licensed hams in USA than ever before, and something like 18K new ones each year. Sure seemed like it all this weekend, whenever I turned on the radio.

So, it didn’t matter we had relatively weak reception in Palmetto Cove, tucked down below mountains all around. I was able to check into the RV Service Net ham radio net at 8:15 Fri morning, thanks to a relay from friend Garry W8OI in Huntington WV (Garry’s been a licensed ham radio operator for 62 years!) Even in difficult conditions, ham radio always works.

This afternoon I raised my G5RVjr dipole antenna (it’s 55′ up, between a pair of trees 70′ apart) and re-installed my tuner to optimize using that antenna. Now I have choices for HF ham radio of screwdriver antenna on the Airstream’s roof, G5RVjr (oriented north to south, so strongest signal east-west,) and 74′ end-fed wire. Capable and fun!

While at the RV gathering in South Carolina this weekend there was an open house of many of the Airstreams including ours. Lots of questions asked about how we have room in a 8.5′ X 23′ cabin to live year-round. Complicating the question is our sort of full-featured ham radio station and other stuff we like in our lives. Folks naturally are curious about how we fit all our interests into a <200sf cabin and live without getting in each other's way. Many consider our space tiny, and it is smaller than many Tiny Houses. We neither feel cramped nor crowded despite supporting trappings for our varied interests.

A couple living together, with or without children, makes agreements ALL THE TIME. Another word sometimes heard is, compromises. It's what being together is about for us. We're in this together. If one of us isn't suited then something's wrong for us both. We don't look at compromises as a reduction in stock for one of us, but try to make it a win for us both. I've kidded before about the genesis of moving the ham radio station from in the truck's dash to on the dinette table. Debbie expressed reservations but I promised to make it work well for us. It did, although she's not sure if this latest iteration is fully okay.

I added the bottom component today. It's a ham radio antenna tuner with three knobs, a meter, and three buttons. It essentially doubles the ham radio footprint on the table. One, it's on my side of the dinette table, except when we share our table with friends. Then it's "our" side of the table. Two, this component IS removable. Unscrewing two cable connectors and one small power wire on the back lets me slip this tuner out and store it. Debbie's being very sporting about going along with it for now, and I'm okay with moving it out of sight if helpful.

Here's what my "big" ham radio station now looks like in this full timer's cabin:

Our HF station

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

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Heavy RFI in Mesa

Radio Frequency Interference, or RFI, is a well-known and much documented problem. RFI hopefully is less common and disruptive than in the old days of amateur radio. Modern amateur radio equipment stays more tightly on frequency and is easier to tune. Modern television and radios are superior to the old ones at discriminating unwanted signal and receiving the desired stations. Why, then, an article now about RFI in Mesa?

We have discovered a pervasive source of RFI in TowerPoint Community in Mesa. The effect seems very strong and widespread throughout this community of over 1,000 people. We wonder it hasn’t been reported, but our research shows no notices on the RFI from in or near this Resort.

N4RTG Debbie and N5RTG Jim have been here eight days. These eight days have seen no (absolutely ZERO) participation by either of us on the regional or national ham radio nets. The week before we arrived to TowerPoint we were daily checking in on the 20 meter RV Service Nets (networks of home-based and mobile ham radio operators checking in and reporting on location, weather, health, and travel plans) out of Minnesota and Tennessee, and the 40 meter Pacific RV Service Nets from Longview, Washington and points in California. We cannot get on the nets due to the interference.

We were able, after just a little consideration and without any fox-hunting, to locate the source of the radio frequency interference. The answer should not have surprised us. Our good friend, W7IRY Bob, warned us of the likely interference problem before we arrived. Some things don’t go away even if you ignore them.

We have spent time, every morning and afternoon, at the TowerPoint Tennis Club. Our morning starts there before breakfast at 0700 hours when we hit for part of an hour before the Club activities consume all the courts. After breakfast we return to the courts to watch competition or team practices.

Monday (yesterday) we spent from 0645 hours until almost 1300 hours (over six hours) playing and watching. It was Jim’s first competition in two decades. He was paired with John H, a classy and very experienced player. They were facing a dynamic duo from a neighboring Resort and, the word was, the duo were undefeated last year. At least Jim would have some good experience from the match, even with the loss.

Jim and John played great together and hit a lot of good shots. Their very worthy opponents lost despite their good play and great chip lobs. Jim and John are looking forward to another match next week and many more over the next winters here. After their match, they grabbed some snacks from the Club kitchen and we watched the remainder of the Men’s and Women’s 3.5 League matches (our team won 12-5 against ViewPoint Resort).

Jim walked back to the courts yesterday late and watched another of the Resort’s teams practicing. He helped shag balls for the team captain and instructor so they could spend more time coaching. We are parked so close to the courts it is hard not to wander over and pick up a game or just watch.

This is a great tennis community with wonderful facilities and people. We’re enjoying more tennis at TowerPoint than we’ve had in many years. Which brings us back to the radio frequency interference.

Our ham radios are mobile, which means they are in our truck and rolling home. We can’t operate HF to reach the regional and national RV Service radio Nets from the tennis courts. Even if we could, we shouldn’t. All this great tennis is interfering considerably and frequently with our ham radio receiving and transmitting. If this isn’t a clear case of radio frequency interference, I’ll eat my hat with the callsign on it.

W7IRY calls the effect “the great sucking sound” of an activity pulling someone in completely. We were duly warned and have no one to blame. Nor would we. We’re having a great time, meeting lots of wonderful people, and getting much more physical activity than we might otherwise have taken. Thanks to the TowerPoint Tennis Club!

Jim and Debbie
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