July? Has it really been that long?

Wow, yes it has in fact been that long.

20151104_161606From a building stand point… nothing new has been going on. I am still working on the Beach 40 and the Bitx 20. The Beach 40 still needs the audio section rebuilt and the Bitx20 needs some troubleshooting . I don’t have the facilities to put up a 20 or 40 meter antenna and since both radios are QRP(p), a good antenna is vital to making any contacts.

20151121_072647From an operators perspective… ya, nothing going on there ether. I need to pull down my Frankenstein/Hill Billy mast because we are having our building painted soon. I have plans for a simpler replacement that should work out fine. I’ll post about that if and or when that happens.

From an experimenters view point…  I have been kind of busy lately. Many of the newer radio projects I have been looking at use micro-controllers and embedded Linux systems. All of which I am totally fine with. There are so many other applications besides radio that I can employ these technologies. The only impediment is getting some play time in with these technologies and getting familiar with there capabilities, use, and programming.

arduinoEarlier this year I picked up some Arduino hardware. I haven’t had much time to work with it yet as the Day Job has been keeping me hopping as well as a lot of stuff in the personal life, nothing bad, just a lot of changes and preparations.

Many projects are done with the Arduino and various shields. Some require a little more direction in the form of an embedded system with a true OS. Enter Raspberry Pi and Raspbian.

rpi3bLast week I added a RPi 3B to the hardware pile and began working with it. Along with the Pi I picked up a copy of Exploring Raspberry Pi: Interfacing to the real world with embedded Linux From Wiley written by Derek Molloy.

Linux doesn’t worry me at all. Many moons ago I was a Solaris 7/8 admin as well as a RedHat 7 admin. The problem is that well over a decade has gone by since I actively worked on those systems. I have been in a Windows only environment for so long my Unix brain has turned to mush. So now I’m re-learning the Unix command line and re-acquainting myself with the Linux directory structure along with some all new unique elements of embedded systems and the Raspbian OS in particular.

With all of the projects piling up and now adding a lot of general computer stuff to the pile, Arduino Sketches, Python, C/C++, and picking up where I left off with Perl, it almost feels like I should go back to school and get credit for all of this work. I could pick up a CS degree with everything on my “tech to learn” plate right now. Add in all of the projects and an engineering degree (EE or ME) isn’t far behind. Thoughts for another time.

Radio specific plans are to read and build along with Crystal Sets to Sideband by Frank W. Harris W0IYE, and then get back to Experimental Methods in RF Design and do the same. I don’t expect to do a lot of operating other than 2 meter until we have the facilities to put up a real antenna, and there is no solid timeline for that.

Life outside radio has taken all of my time lately and I am just now slowly getting back to things. Most of it is general electronics/computer experimentation and adding to the knowledge pool right now.

So in conclusion, no I haven’t been busy, I’ve been too busy.


hamverseryP.S. Today’s post is brought to you by Hamversary. On this day in 2013 I received my license grant about a week after I walked into the Saratoga Fire Station a non-ham. Since then I have worked my way up to Extra Class, begun teaching license preparation classes to prospective hams, and I have been a Volunteer Examiner for 42 exam sessions, most of them at the Saratoga Fire Station.

I have learned so much in so many ways in this short period of time. Thank you Amateur Radio.

~Jon KK6GXG 

New Technician License Class

Ham Class logoThis evening I have a new Tech class starting at 6pm on Wednesdays. I have another Tech class on Thursdays starting August 11th. I thought it was time to add a General license class into the mix as well. It starts August 23rd and meets on Tuesday evenings.

All of the classes are in the evening from 6pm to 8pm and meet for six sessions on the same day of the week.

I hope to be adding some other classes in the near future. Some license classes as well as some special subject classes.

That’s all for now. I have some prep work to get done before class.


Ham Class: One Down, Another On Deck

Ham Class logoThe July 8th class went of rather well. I am happy to report that we introduced 5 new hams to the community!

The class went very well and I had a few requests to add a General class to the future class schedule. I’m still working on prepping for that General class, but I do have another Technician class lined up to begin July 27th and running every Wednesday evening until August 31st.

No guarantees, but I am going to try to get the General class on the books before the end of August.

I have been working on the Get Your License pages today. They are finally up and functioning. There is information on how to get a license and what to expect on the exam along with links to other resources.

License Exams
License Classes
Technician Class

Until next time, 73,

Tech License Test Prep Class

KK6GXG-MakingWavesJust a short update on getting a Technician ham license for interested locals (Silicon Valley area).

I am teaching a Technician Class license test prep class July 8th, 9th, and 10th (all three days for the one class, see the Class Notice below)


Class Notice

We have reached the minimum number of participants for the 7/8 – 7/10 Amateur Radio Technician exam prep class to take place. Below is an overview of what you can expect. I know this is a long email, but please take the time to read it thoroughly .

Class Sessions

This class meets over three days and will review all of the information needed to pass your FCC Amateur Radio Technician Class license exam.

  • Friday 7/8 we meet from 8 pm to 10 pm for an introduction and presentation.
  • Saturday 7/9 we meet from 9 am to 5 pm for the main portion of the class. There will be a 1 hour lunch break.
  • Sunday 7/10 we meet from 9 am to 3 pm for a wrap-up and test review before the 1 hour lunch break. After lunch we will finish the review followed by the exam.


I use the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual as the student manual and study guide. Each student is responsible for obtaining this manual BEFORE the class begins. Students are expected to read the manual before the class begins. Make notes on your questions as you read through the manual so we can go over them during the class. This is just a cursory reading, don’t dwell on anything too much. (The manual is NOT included in the class fee)

Links for online purchase of the manual
ARRL – http://www.arrl.org/shop/ARRL-Ham-Radio-License-Manual-3rd-Edition/
Amazon – https://amzn.com/1625950136

Stores that sometimes have copies in stock
HSC Electronic Supply (Sunnyvale) http://www.halted.com/
Ham Radio Outlet (Sunnyvale) http://www.hamradio.com/locations.cfm?storeid=2


An ARRL Volunteer Examiner team will provide testing on-site after the class.

The VEC testing fee is NOT included with the class, so you will need to bring $15 cash for your exam, please bring exact change.

The VE team does NOT accept credit/debit cards.

The Small Print

Each class requires a minimum of 5 students enrolled for it to take place. The minimum number of students must be preregistered at least 5 days before the start date for a class or the class will be canceled.

If the number of registrations drops below the minimum due to student cancellations BEFORE Tuesday 7/5, the week of class, it may be canceled.

In the event of a class cancellation all student enrollments will be refunded.

Student cancellations AFTER Tuesday 7/5 will NOT be refunded. Student cancellations Tuesday 7/5, or BEFORE will be refunded.


To complete your enrollment email me and I will bring you up to speed (jon at kk6gxg dot com) The class fee is $35.


Along with registering for the class, I recommend creating your account with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the Commission Registration System site (CORES) https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do Once you have set up your account you will be given your FCC Registration Number (FRN). This process is free.

Your FRN is used on the Amateur Radio license application (Form 605) and having it before you take your license exam speeds up the process. You will also need your FRN to log into the Universal Licensing System (ULS) http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home and find out what your new call sign is after passing your exam. 🙂

The BitX 20 & More

The BitX

20160618_120709I was fortunate to recently have been gifted a BitX 20 kit by a friend and fellow VE. The kit came from QRPkits.com some time ago, I believe at least a year or so ago.

My intention was to build it for Field Day 2016. Sadly, while I was well on track to getting the radio built, 2 parts were missing from the kit. BS170 N-Channel MOSFETs to be specific. This put on the breaks for the final assembly and stopped me dead in my tracks with the finish line in sight.

20160624_193754I have the parts waiting for me at Jameco will-call for Monday. Once I get them home, populating the remainder of the circuit board should take about an hour. Then its on to the initial tuning and getting the radio packaged up in its housing.

I will do a full project write-up in the Projects section soon, but for now just an update.

A Homebrew Signal Generator/Oscillator

20160622_084953During the BitX build I ran into a small hiccough. The testing at some point calls for the injection of an 11 MHz signal. I would normally use my Lafayette signal generator but for some reason it’s on the fritz so I had to come up with another solution… build an 11 MHz signal generator.

20160622_085219With the crystals in the kit it was easy to build a simple generator with parts on hand and while I only had 1 of the five crystals installed it was easy. By the next testing phase I had installed the remaining 4 crystals. Now I need one for the homebrew SigGen! (click the image for the circuit diagram)

Off to HSC Electronic Supply for some 11 MHz crystals.

This project will also get a write-up in the Projects section soon. This one in in particular has a lot of use in checking unmarked crystals as long as they are between 1 and 20 MHz and is a great foundation piece for beginning builders.

A Homebrew TNC

20160524_145401Before I got started on the BitX I was working on getting my Baofeng 2m/70cm HT on digital. I found a couple of designs for a homebrew TNC and set out to make that work.

Because of the way the PTT key works on the Baofeng I haven’t been able to make the TNC work with the HT but it should work fine with my 40 meter QRPme.com Splinter II and the BitX 20.

A full write-up post is coming on this one too.

Look for all three of these in the Projects section for full details on the builds coming soon.

It’s been a long time since I posted, and most of that time I have been working on non-radio stuff. Now that I am back in the swing of things I have more time for radio stuff so I should be able to post more, and make updates to the Projects pages

As soon as the BitX 20 is up and running I plan on getting the Lafayette working again and get back to the Beach 40 DSB. Another Field Day has slipped through my fingers. I don’t plan on that happening again!

That’s all for now folks, 72, 73, and good night!



Back from Maker Faire Bay Area 2016

MF16_BA_180x150Just got home from Maker Faire SF Bay Area. Pulled a double shift at the Ham Exam booth. 8am to 6pm and I only managed about 20 minutes away from the booth and about 15 minutes off my feet. This is not a complaint, I’m just saying…

I had a great time. We had 14 candidates throughout the day, so we did get a lot of STS time (Shoot-the-stuff) but we managed to stay busy most of the time.

Lots of chatting about VE stuff in the morning along with a generous helping of radio stuff mixed in. Mostly radio stuff in the afternoon. I even had a visit from a friend scoping out the faire.


That’s all for the moment, but I do have a project coming up this week, a TNC to connect a radio to a computer for use with digital modes. More to come…


First week of May

First week of may, and ain’t got much to say!

JT65JT9No build projects progressing, not much time OTA, none actually, but I have managed to get some reading in. I picked up a copy of one of the new ARRL books Work The World With JT65 and JT9.

Not bad, a short read, though I must admit, I don’t really see myself using the TJx mode any time soon. It looks like its pretty much a contesting mode. I’m not much interested in contesting until I get more of a station built up, and even then… I dunno.

HighSpeedMultiMediaWith some luck the UPS guy will bring me the also new ARRL book High Speed Multimedia for Amateur Radio book today. I still don’t have a TNC or HF radio up and running, but I do have some spare/old 802.11 units lying around… hmmmmmm…

There could be a project with HSMM on the horizon.

RTTY-PSK32I also have a copy of RTTY/PSK31 for Radio Amateurs 2nd Edition on the way which I think will see more action in the near future than anything else. I have a USB/Serial cable and enough toroids and cabling that I might fourgo the TNC a little longer and build an interface myself just to see if I can get it up and running.

The down side is that I will still only be running whatever digital mode on 2 meter FM rather than SSB, but that will get resolved at a later date.

ARRL-VEC VEIn other news, there is another VE session tomorrow (Saturday, May 7, 2016 08:00-10:00) at the Saratoga Fire Station. This session will be my 30th VE session!

Also this month, Maker Faire is here in San Mateo and I will be working both the morning and afternoon VE sessions at the faire. More info is available on the SF Bay Area Maker Faire VE Session website.

One last thing. I’m not going to post it yet, but since we have been planning on relocating, I worked up a new QSL card to reflect the new location. Once we are confirmed with a new QTH and Grid Location I will post a preview of the new card. Speaking of which, if you would like a QSL from my current QTH email me with your address and I will send one out right away.

Oh, one more thing… I am back to studying for my RADAR add-on to my commercial license.

I guess I have been doing stuff.


First week of April

Here we are, the first week of April. What has KK6GXG been up to since posting last month. Not a whole lot.

ARRL-VEC VEOne significant note, I have surpassed the 25 session count as a Volunteer Examiner! I am now up to 27 sessions. Yesterday (4/4) was also my 1 year anniversary with the Silicon Valley VE Group. I have been a VE since December 2014, but I didn’t begin working sessions until April 2015.

Working the sessions as an examiner is something I enjoy a great deal and I am always excited to see who shows up to the sessions. It is such a diverse group of people coming together in a common interest. Amateur Radio is all about diversity, and sharing common interests often regardless of  geopolitical boundaries.

I love to see youngsters at sessions pursuing their ham radio licenses, especially young ladies. While there are a lot of women in radio of all ages, it’s nice to see girls getting into radio at a young age. Radio is a place that tends to level all socioeconomic and cultural playing fields. A fellow ham is a fellow ham, period.

A couple of things have been nagging at the back of my head as of late. One is to get back to homebrew projects; get that 40 meter DSB finished and on the air. Another is to get back to studying CW, and of course build transceivers for more bands. Lastly, for now, is to get involved more.

With our QTH situation in flux for the next 6 months, it makes more sense to be involved in something less geographically ridged and that doesn’t require operating capabilities I don’t have right now or can’t build quickly and inexpensively.

This points to something administrative rather than operational. One place I would like to be more involved is with the VEC. I love being a VE, but I would like to be more involved with the process. I have no idea how I could be of service to the VEC, but I would like to.

Another thing I want to do before we change QTH is get back to the Bay Area Builders Club monthly meetings. Fortunately this one is just a matter of making the time to get over to the meeting. See you guys on Sunday 😉

KK6GXG-MakingWavesNo concrete plans, just some aspirations. For the moment that’s all I can muster. Life and the Day Job have been at the forefront but no playtime makes for cranky-pants, so I need to figure out a way to make some time. This post is one attempt at making some time.

Til next time… 73.

Another month gone by

foto001mdOkay, it’s now March 11th, and I have done just about NOTHING radio related except attending VE testing sessions since what, December?

Not entirely true I suppose. I pulled down the 70cm and 40m antennas from the Hillbilly mast rig, and I have done some poking around at the 40m DSB project, though I haven’t done any real work on it.  Also the VE sessions have been a saving grace in many ways. One, I am still “participating” in the community. Two, we have been engaging is some interesting discussions in the back of the room while waiting for exams to grade. Three, I did reach a milestone in so much as I sat my 25th session this last Saturday. That at least, is something I can honestly say I am proud of.

There are so many projects I want to get going on, I just can’t justify the time right now.  The family is working towards a relocation up to northwest 7 land, and I am really looking forward to the move. There is just so much swinging in the breeze right now, making any plans or starting any projects is just not a good idea.

We are heading up north in May to look at some property. We are hoping that this trip will provide a target for relocating by the end of September at which point, all hell’s gonna break loose and I’m going to be a very busy man.

I have no idea what I will be able to do radio-wise between now and then. I do know I am itching to do something though. I will just have to see what opportunities present themselves in the meantime.


Holy Hanna!

20151121_072647February is half over and I haven’t posted at all this year so far!

In truth, I haven’t done squat so far this year with regard to radio stuff. Well almost nothing, I have made it to three VE sessing so far this year. The next one is this Saturday.

I really wish I had more to report but I basically had to shut down all of my radio projects because I just don’t have the time right now.

One radio related project I can report is a partial disassembly of the Hillbilly Radio Tower. I pulled the 70 cm and 40 m antennas down leaving only the 2 m antenna in place.

The 70 cm was working fine, I just don’t use it that often and I needed to pull the 40 m down anyway, so I opted to clean up the cabling on the back porch.

The 40 m had to come down, or be adjusted. It was tilted from the high winds of the last storm that blew through. It was still useable, just leaning about 30 degrees off vertical. After cleaning up the mast the 2 m is hardly noticeable, which is a good thing.

Other than the antennas, nothing going on or planned for the near future. I will make an attempt to get back before another 2 months goes by.


Amateur Radio, Emergency Communications, Traffic Handling and more