Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Ham Radio Workbench Podcast

This podcast is your bi-weekly deep dive on making, DIY, electronics, and technical topics of interest to the ham radio operator. Join your hosts George KJ6VU and Jeremy KF7IJZ as they discuss current developments in ham radio while introducing listeners to a plethora of topics and skills such as test equipment, 3D Printing, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and more.

Jul 13, 2021

Field Day Debrief and EmComm Software with Gaston Gonzalez KT1RUN.

Our Website -

Follow us on Twitter -

Contact us -

Connect with us on Facebook -

BrandMeister Talkgroup 31075 -

QSO TODAY Ham Radio Expo August 14th and 15th -

  • HRWB will host a live event Friday the 13th night starting at 6 PM PDT
  • George will present the trailer build project
  • Mark will present on Measuring 1:1 Balun/Common Mode Choke Designs With A NanoVNA
  • Vince will present on Disaster Communications and Leadership imperatives
  • Mike will present a spin-off on “death of the RS-232 port”
  • Anyone else?

**Digilent  Coupon Code HamRadioWorkbench2021

**Available at digilent

Ham Radio Workbench will participate in the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo August 14th and 15th

Booth + conference tables to meet and chat

Segment 1 - What’s on your workbench

  • Mark
    • Looking at M17 again. They’ve come a LONG way since I started the protocol spec doc a year or so ago.  Provided a couple minor updates in a pull-request, mostly around Crypto protocols.  I have a couple MD380s that I intend to use for M17 hacking. Haven’t done anything yet though.
    • Another Field Day, another single episode working on my Contest Station Audio Interface Thingamajig. Debating between two designs:
      1. Single unified device, one board with all cables going in and out, all mixer controls in a single place.
      2. Distributed devices, with an RJ-45 bus connecting them. Puts controls nearer to the operators/radios, but is more complex.  Allows for further expansion.
    • Playing a bit with my shiny new toy: Flex6400.
    • Book recommendation: The Cuckoo’s Egg, Cliff Stoll, K7TA. Not ham radio related, but I suspect will be of interest to hams. (AWESOME BOOK - RH)
  • Rod
    • Partial Tear down of my Covid Office / Ham shack to install a new (to me)  50 inch LG Digital sign (Like you see at Malls)  to run the GeoCron and also as an information radiator. Got this on an online auction. Live feed of data. LG Model 49SM5KE-BJ
  • Studio A:
      1. Two 31 inch curved monitors at eye level - plus Macbook in centre
        • Radios to the right (controlled by PC plus VFO
        • Audio podcast gear to the Left (Rodecaster, etc)
      2. Below Monitors
    • Studio B: (Spin around - a U shaped desk)
      1. Work related Hardware / tools plus Video Editing
    • Ergonomics - Credit to Foundations of Amateur Radio Podcast - Onno (VK6FLAB)
      1. ‎Foundations of Amateur Radio on Apple Podcasts
      2. For the Ergonomics discussion
    • Still working on a talk on the  future of all this Zoom fun “After” Covid? 
      1. Covid forced content back into prominence - How do we keep “Content” as king?
  • George
    • Maiden voyage of the radio trailer
    • Presentation at the QSO Today virtual ham radio expo
    • Playing with the ESP32 WiFi LoRa Arduino module
    • Shipped out a pile of PackTenna trekmount antennas … thanks to Gaston
    • New RigExpert AA-650 analyzer
    • Tram 2m/UHF yagi $99 not bad
  • Michael
    • Operating -- conditions on 6M for the last 10 days have been amazing for us in VE3 land.  
    • I have a Morseduino to build
    • Improving power control to the rotator controller and Steppir controller installed at the base of the Tower - I have LAN at the tower base so a KMTronic switch mounted there now
    • AT100 tuner kit for the IC-705
  • Vince
    • Morse Tutor Kits update
      1. Next round parts have been ordered, now we wait
      2. Send email to Vince - ve6lk [at] rac [dot] ca
      3. The original project source is 
    • PA0RDT mini-whip waiting on parts
    • McHF repair waiting on parts
    • KD2C Panadapter tap will, one day, go into my go-kit FT-857D
    • Prepping for QSO Today conference
    • UHF packet station project started
    • Every SMC job … 


Segment 2 - Field Day Debrief


  • Trailer was great !
  • Best features
    • Screen doors !
    • External powerfilm solar panels and DC extension cords
    • SOK battery - $570 for 100 Ah vs Battleborn $949 for 100 Ah
    • Carbon fiber masts - Gigaparts
    • Flex 6400 + Maestro


  • Socially Distant FD a success!
  • Visitors from all over North America via Zoom
  • Local Deputy Mayor and Fire Chief in attendance
  • Adult beverage delivery actually happened! Aim high when you ask club members to contribute!
  • to check on entries

Gaston -

  • Location: Tonto National Forest - evening/overnight operation
  • X-factor: heat
  • Man portable: 58.5 lb pack including 8L of water (17.5 lbs)
  • Conditions: 101- 85 degrees (F)
  • Did not participate in FD activities
  • Gear: 
    • PackTenna Linked Dipole: 20m/40m (80m not used)
    • PackTenna TrekMount with Comet BNC-24 antennas for 2m SSB
    • FT-818 with ARMOLOQ TPA pack frame, 4.5Ah LiFePO4, 20 watt Powerfilm solar panels, Buddipole PowerMini
  • EmComm Tools testing successful: APRS text msg (SMSGTE), 40m Winlink status email, call lookup


  • N6EOF 2A Santa Barbara. 631 QSOs: 351 SSB, 94 Digital (FT4 and FT8), 186 CW. 100W so 2x multiplier.  1822 Total QSO points, 350 Bonus points. Final score: 2172 points! (but it’s totally not a contest.)
  • Had a great turn out! About 12 people total, 7 active hams who played with the radios at least a bit.
  • Ran entirely on solar power, only spun up the generator for a couple minutes to make sure it worked, and show another person how (it’s mod’d for Propane.)  2 stations, 100W both, using nothing but solar. I’m really proud of that.
  • SSB station: FT-920, on an EFHW, cut for 40m (so resonates on 40/20/15/10m), but added a loading coil and stub to add 80m. It worked really well, but required more tuning at the radio than I anticipated.
    • The loading coil was 13 turns of antenna wire around an FT140-43 (which should have been about 110uH, except that it totally isn’t, it’s 150uH, I should have done 11 turns… Oops…)  All the designs I’ve seen show a linear coil of antenna wire around a form, not a toroid. I’m wondering if the capacitive coupling of the toroid was different enough from the linear coil to affect tuning on 40m and above.  (The wrong inductance should have only negatively affected 80m, which definitely was tuned too low.)
    • Used the feedline as a counterpoise, put a current choke 1:1 balun about 12 feet from the feedpoint: 13 turns of RG-8X around an FT240-43. You think wrapping magnet wire around toroids is a pain?
  • CW/Digital station: Club member brought his Packtenna clipped dipole. Used it with his Flex6600 and Maestro. Worked a charm.
  • 20m SSB was CHEEK BY JOWEL...

Rod VA3ON 

  • Teamed up with my friend (and Elmer) Peter West VE3HG to create a small scale field day for us and our two Padawans, Iuliya VE3UHA  and Dante VA3DNF. (4 total)
  • Both teenagers licenced as Basic with Honours during the pandemic shutdown, but had yet to operate HF. Used the Oakville club call VE3HB. At the scenic “West Estate” we got a few antennas up (Dipoles, horizontal Endfed and verticals)
  • 5 Watts on two Elecraft KX2 Stations (Commonality of rigs, preserved learning):
    • Station A: CW 
    • Station B: Phone and FT8 on the other
  • New HRWB Logger appliance (with N1MM) - Avita Magus II [WT9M10C44] 10 Inches Intel Celeron 4GB RAM 64GB Storage Touch 2-in-1 Windows 10 Tablet PC Black     - rocked
  • Conditions
    • Phone was horrific on Saturday
    • FT- not much better - could hear lots but nothing worked well
    • CW great (as usual)
  • To make CW workable we used a CW reader and keyer with preloaded exchanges and a keyboard. An approach I’ve not used before with rookies to shortened the learning curve. Emphasis on learning and getting the tempo.
  • We may be seeing a lot more of these two as CW contesters - they were aggressive!

Segment 3 - EmComm Software Project by Gaston KT1RUN

  • What is the purpose?
    • API and web app for field expedient digital communications platform that runs on RPi
    • Offgid, mobile-first and 1-click digital operations
    • Headless: eliminate need for VNC and/or external display/keyboard/mouse
    • Lightweight: small footprint memory, CPU and disk => conserve power
  • What does it do?
    • Allows headless operation of various ham radio tools (Pat, YAAC,direwolf, etc.) on a RPi (everything runs on the Pi; the web browser is the interface)
    • Streamlines mode switching: Winlink ARDOP, Winlink packet and APRS
    • Streamines messaging for both Winlink and APRS through templating engine
    • Offline callsign lookup - includes approx. distance calc based on GPS
    • Status information: time (local/UTC, hostname, IP, CPU temp, GPS, grid square)
    • Remote shutdown
  • What did you use to develop it? 
    • App and API decoupled
    • Backend: (API)
      • Java JDK 11
      • Spring Boot: DI, uber jar, systemd, oh my
      • Lucene: IR library (search background)
      • Custom YAAC plugin: Light-weight HTTP API (REST-like)
    • Frontend: (not my area)
      • Prototype: Bootstrap and jQuery
      • Prod: React.js:
  • What is the project status?  Do you want people to try it out?
    • Status: Prototype, field experimentation
    • Limited beta tentatively schedule for fall 2021
      • First round: Operators with FT-817/818 or FT-857D (maybe FT-991A)
      • Second round: Any all band, all mode radio (HF + 2m)
    • RPi 3B+ Build and giveaway on the channel
    • Weekly project updates: 


Wrapup / Outro

If people want to get in touch with you, what is the best way?




EmComm Tools Project:


Twitter: @thetechprepper1


Twitter @smittyhalibut


Twitter @VA3ON



Twitter @VE6LK 



DMR TG 31075

From all of us at the Ham Radio Workbench, 73.


Reminder to Jeremy, post notes for HRWB132 onto web