Monthly Archives: May 2009

New and improved Maidenhead Grid Square Locator

I have mentioned a few times (most recently at Find that maidenhead grid locator for an address)  about Maidenhead Grid Square Locators and my desire to have them as part of the log for each contact. It helps show distance as well as for mapping and just overall complete information on a contact.

The QRZ.com page that allows you to enter an address and calculate a grid locator hasn’t worked for half a year despite multiple requests to have someone look into it. Someone recently suggested using APRS.fi to do it and that works fine. But in the end I decided to write my own, which probably took more time to find the right formulas to convert between lat/long and the grid square then to code the actual page.

At http://www.levinecentral.com/ham/grid_square.php is the web page I put together. You can enter in an address or a call sign. If a call sign is entered, I pull address info from QRZ.com and the process continues from there. The address is then processed by Google and it comes back with either a latitude/longitude for that address or that it didn’t find anything. If Google doesn’t find a hit, I start stripping the address down piece by piece and try again.

Once a hit is found I calculate the grid square based on the latitude and longitude returned by Google. I place a map point at that location (usually the location specified or associate to the call sign) with the info as well as the grid location displayed at the top of the page for quick reference. If the address was manipulated, the address which returned results is displayed. I then can calculate one of the corner points for the maidenhead grid square locator border and draw a rectangle that represents the area for the grid square the location is within.

There is nothing very magical about the page but I wanted something to do what I needed and how I wanted it done so what better way to get that then writing it yourself! The current Google mapping framework I use is the same as used by the Repeater Mapping pages which is great for getting something built quickly. Depending on how much more I might want to add to this page, I might need to use a different Google toolset or deal with the Google API directly.

I’ve looked and looked at the terms of use for the QRZ lookup which is using my paid account. I can’t find anything that seems to disallow what I’m doing posted on the web site or distributed to me when I signed up.  Hopefully it is ok. Please let me know how you like it. I know for me and finding grid square locators for call signs/addresses that QRZ doesn’t already have, it will save me a lot of time.

73,
K2DSL

Sudan Africa Confirmed

Today in the mail I recieved a nice QSL card from ST2EB confirming our 20m RTTY contact in April. This was my first contact and confirmation for that DXCC. I had sent Eihab my QSL card directly shortly after the contact was made. Thank you Eihab for turning around your QSL card so quickly!

73,
K2DSL

Great, Free DX Information

The Daily DX at http://www.dailydx.com is a fantastic resource. It’s primary offering is a pay service where for a very reasonable fee (6 months or annually) you get a daily (Mon-Fri) newsletter emailed to you that is filled with information on all things related to DXing. Without paying for the subscription (and I highly recommend the paid subscription), there are multiple free resources available.

First is that you can get a two week trial, without any obligation, by filling out the form at http://www.dailydx.com/trial.htm and enjoy 10 days worth of quality DX info.

Second is some info is available on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dailydx, again at no cost to anyone.

Third is there’s a DX calendar available to anyone at http://dailydx.com/Calendar.htm and it is updated frequently with a list of all the DX stations and when/where they are operating from. This page alone is a great resource for any DXer and available free to all.

And last but not least is the Daily DX site now provides a free search of the back issues of the daily newsletter with the exception of the last 6-8 weeks.  You can search the back issues right on the Daily DX home page.

I suggest you sign up for the 2 week trial and I’m sure you’ll agree, if you do any DXing, that the newsletter provides valuable information to make your DXing more enjoyable.

73,
K2DSL

Hamfest Goodies

I did almost no operating over the 3 day holiday weekend. On Saturday we had our local club hamfest and the weather and turnout was spectacular. I think it was the largest attendance by both sellers and buyers since I have had my license and attended the club’s hamfests.

I helped out very early in the morning as vendors and buyers arrived. While one fellow was pulling up to pay I noticed he had some beams in the back and asked him about them. One was a nice 2 meter beam and he said $25 so I said to hold it for me and I will be by in a few to pay for it and pick it up. It turned out to be a nice 4 element Cushcraft 2m beam that looks like it goes for $80-$100 new. This one, though used, is in magnificent shape and according to the seller was used inside someone’s attic.

I browsed a bit more before heading in to help with the VE test session that was taking place. There were 6 applicants which is a lot smaller then past hamfests. 5 passed their exams made up of a new Tech, 2 new Generals and 2 new Extras. Congrats to all of them.

I then picked up an 8 pole fiberglass mast kit that goes up 30 or 40 feet and comes with a base, guy rings and a duffle bag to carry it all. I thought this would be good for testing things at home or portable operations. The whole kit was $40.

I also picked up a $10 component which is a SO-239 connector in a plastic housing with a stiff wire coming out of each side to connect to 2 ends of a wire antenna. Might use it for a loop or moxon antenna. I saw them online and was hoping to find one here to try out. I also grabbed some misc connectors and adapters to have handy.

The last item other then a taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich was 100 feet of low loss coax to have around for use with a 2m or 6m antenna. The cable is supposed to have a <2 db loss over 100 feet.

I was looking for another pair of the metal rope grip devices I use on my G5RV to hold the ropes in place but didn’t see anyone with those. I can get them online if I need them.

The next hamfest I will likely hit is a large one in western NJ in mid July unless I go to one in Central New Jersey in mid June, but that is only if I need something. There is also another local Northern NJ hamfest in mid August which I have been away for the past 2 years that I will try to attend if I am around.

73,
K2DSL

Find that maidenhead grid locator for an address

At Finding Grid Square Locators last August I listed a few sites I used to find maidenhead grid squares for call signs I made a contact with. Having the grid square is important to me as I enter it in my log to show the distance between me and the contact as well as plot those contacts on a map.

One of the most useful was the QRZ Gridfinder application. I could enter an address and it would do a great job of finding the grid locator for that address. Doing it by address is useful for those contacts on QRZ that get pulled into my log that haven’t provided a grid locator in their info. That QRZ Gridfinder app hasn’t worked since the latest QRZ.com site redesign back around the end of 2008. With it not working, I was going through a set of web pages to find a lat/long for an address and then convert that lat/long into a grid square.

When I posted recently asking if anyone was going to address that useful site feature and try to get it working again, someone posted an alternative to use until the page gets fixed (assuming it gets fixed at all). The alternative is using a site I’ve previously used for APRS. If you go to http://aprs.fi and if necessary provide your call sign as a login, you can enter in the address you want in the text entry address box on the right side of the map page and press search. It does a good job at finding the location. I usually just copy/paste the address from QRZ for the callsign I contacted and paste it in. More often then not it finds the address, but in some cases, you need to trim DX address info if it doesn’t know the specific street address, but it gets you close enough.

Once the address is found, you need to move your mouse over map point that is placed. The upper left corner of the map will show the lat/long and grid square of where your cursor is. Move your cursot (+ sign) over the bottom point of the map pin and you’ll have the grid locator.

I’ve asked if the site owner would consider adding the grid location to the pop-up bubble window that is shown when it finds the address and adds the map point. That would make it even easier and more exact if that enhancement is considered and added.

73,
K2DSL

Foxhunt – we found it!

In our local club we have 2 foxhunts each year and today was the spring event. N3CRT, last events winner, was responsible for placing the transmitter and this time he placed 2 of them, automated, which each transmitted for 1 min and waited for 2 mins before transmitting. So every 2 mins, one of the transmitters was broadcasting. They were placed about 1/4 mile from each other.

It took a while for my team (included K2ZC and KC2QGL) to even hear the transmission, but once we got it, we could get pretty close. We got out a few times to try and determine the direction and we were usually correct. We used a combination of methods from vertical mobile antennas to hear the signal, a more directional antenna that K2ZC made up, and just a HT and its antenna. We got out of the car at a local park where the signal was very loud but it wasn’t the right location. Back in the car for a bit more tracking until we got close enough to start looking on foot.

While we searched for it, we heard that someone else had found the other hidden transmitter. We got close to where the transmitter was and could hear it without any antenna attached to a HT and we found it on the next transmission. I don’t know if doing geocaching for many years helped me look for things that just seemed out of place, but regardless, we found it!

We all then met up at a local pizza place to have some drink, food and talk about the hunt. I look forward to the fall hunt and maybe I’ll look for or make up some equipment to use.

73,
K2DSL

Falkland Islands confirmed via LoTW

I now have Falkland Islands confirmed via Logbook of The World thanks to VP8KF. I had made contact with Falkland Islands for the first time when there was a YL DXpedition there the end of January 2009, but haven’t received confirmation for those contacts. Yesterday I noticed that VP8KF had uploaded his logs from March 2009 covering the ARRL DX SSB contest and CQ WPX SSB contest which now confirms two 15m contacts and one 20m contact made during those contests. Thanks to VP8KF for confirming another new one for me!

73,
K2DSL

APRS Live from Dayton Hamvention

If you go to http://hamvention.aprs.fi/?zoom=city you can see all the live APRS activity happening around Dayton as folks folk in for the 2009 Hamvention there. For many, you can see their routes and if you click on them, get even more detailed info.

APRS.fi is a fantastic site and my favorite place to go to see APRS activity. You can zoom in/out, move around and switch between satellite or map view. The features on the site are immense, but just watching what is going around Dayton during the days leading up to the hamvention as well as when it is in full swing is fun.

73,
K2DSL

A batch of new QSLs received

When I got home from work on Tues there were 2 envelopes containing QSL cards waiting for me. One was a QSL card received direct back from WW5L for a contact while he was in Saint Martin as FS/WW5L during a BuddiPole expedition. A BuddiPole is a tremndously versatile portable multi-band antenna that I’ve always admired.

The other envelope was from the North Jersey DX Association containing 12 QSL cards that were sent via the bureau. Many, but not all, were for RTTY contacts made over August and Sept 2008. There were QSL cards sent in return for ones I sent and others were sent without first receiving mine. Some I had sent after the contact and should be on their way and there were a few that I needed to write out last night and get them sent along.

Thanks again to all the ops that QSL!

73,
K2DSL

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