Experiments, etc.

What hams are up to

We all like to hear what other hams are doing, and we'd love for you to share some of the fun projects you've been involved in, whether it's a new radio, new mode, antenna maintenance, or a crazy electronics project. That's what the weekly round table discussion is for, but if you've got something noteworthy you'd like to share here too -- especially if you have pictures -- just email me the information.

2022-11-28 Mt. Pleasant Tower erected

The concrete work was done, the tower base set, and today we hauled the main tower up and erected it. Mother Nature somehow detected that we were doing antenna work; when we started on our journey the sun was shining and it was warm enough that I (Charles) left my jacket in the car, but by the time we got out of the truck it was hailing, and we endured more hail, sleet, and snow as we assembled the 40' tilt-up/crank-up tower.

Many thanks to those hams and non-hams who have assisted in getting us this far. We still need to bracket the tower to the eaves, I ordered the antenna and coax this evening, and we need to build inside before we install the rack, but we should have the repeater fully operational this winter.

Thanks to KSB for the truck & labor

So far so good


2022-06-03 Trees! grrrrr...

At least the mast and antenna mostly sprung back after we got the limbs off the guy lines! I still need to readjust the guys to take up the new slack.

2022-06-02 More New Hams

(and upgrades!)

The fruits of last Saturday's little exam session:

Boling, Steven AI7NB Amateur Extra
Boling, William AI7ND
Amateur Extra
Jones, Talea KF7CZA General
Boling, Kayliana KK7FNJ General
Boling, Liliana KK7FNK General
Boling, Ariana KK7GME Technician
Eastwood, Elisabeth pending

2022-04-18 New Hams

Congratulations to Saturday's new/upgraded hams!

Ahrens, Robert KK7FMZ Technician
Cooley, William KK7FNA Technician
Eastwood, Kiera KK7FNB Technician
Eldredge, Elnathan KK7FNC Technician
Ferrin, Brian KK7FND Technician
Garoutte, Douglas KK7FNE General
Godfrey, Timothy KK7FNF Technician
Healy, Richard KK7FNG Technician
Healy, Sean KK7DSD Extra
Kennington, Lester KK7FNH Technician
Boling, Jonathan KK7FNI General
Boling, Kayliana KK7FNJ Technician
Boling, Liliana KK7FNK Technician
Boling, Steven KK7FNL General
Boling, William KK7FNM General

2022-04-11 What snow does to antennas

This month's record-breaking snow storm coated my antennas & guy lines w/ a thick layer. All was well until a tree branch fell and hit the top antenna. It didn't break it, but instead broke the wires that attached the pulley to the top of the mast (and apparently needed replaced) and dropped all 3 antennas down to where they were laying across the guys at a max height of 6'. It would be another two weeks (during which time I continued to use them) before I found a few hours on a sunny day to collapse the mast and repair it.

How did I use the antennas? One mast used non-conductive rope instead of fence wire for guys. But even on the other mast, the aluminum fence wire that I used for the antennas (and the aluminum and steel wire for the guys) had enough oxidation that it fairly insulated the wires, preventing a short to ground. As a result, they worked surprisingly well!

2022-03-27 $35 FCC Fee starts Apr 19

We thought we'd get 180 days' notice, or at least 60, but no!

The FCC gave 26 days' notice, releasing a public notice on March 23 that the new application fee structure will take effect April 19th.

Beginning that date, all amateur license applications -- for new licenses or upgrades, will no longer be free, but will cost $35 each. We have 3 weeks!

  • Mercury Mount St. Helens will be sponsoring one or more "Last chance" classes -- hopefully for all 3 license classes (Tech, General, Extra), but that depends on interest.

  • Mercury Mount St. Helens is also hosting a FREE exam session for all license classes on April 19th in Kalama. Watch the Events page for details.

To reserve a seat in the exam session or in one of the license classes, to be kept apprised of class & exam info, or to ask questions, please email Charles Boling.

2022-03-21 ACS Simplex Test

Masen, KF7HVM, ran a simplex net after the normal Monday night ACS net. My reception log is below.

2022-03-21 ACS Simplex net RX rpt.pdf

2022-01-01 N7ETR featured in local magazine

Don Mitchell, N7ETR, the Vancouver Stk ECS and an active participant in area ERC nets, had a 3-page article written about him in the January issue of Vancouver Family Magazine. The headline's a bit odd (and pretentious), but the article's fine.

2021-12-08 SK: NU7D

With sadness I report the unexpected death of Randy Greeley, a long-time county volunteer who, as far as I can tell, is pretty much why Cowliltz ACS exists. He's put in countless hours, and aside from the practical effects of his loss, I will greatly miss his friendship.

I gave KF7JZN the news, and she started talking about how old he was, and hey, he's had a long life, and isn't it great that he didn't suffer a long painful battle with cancer, or Connie have to deal w/ years of dementia or something. I interrupted her and said "I don't care about any of that -- that's his problem -- I'm just mad that he's not going to be around anymore!" Isn't that funny, how if we're honest with ourselves, our emotional reaction to death is usually pretty selfish?

Randy's gone, but he hasn't left the group helpless. Other hams are capable and will have to step up to help fill his shoes. As always, I encourage active MMSH members to contribute their talents to ACS and other worthy organizations, not just MMSH, to broaden their ability to serve our communities.

2022-01-07 Update:

Here's an article about Randy from The Daily News.

2012-12-02 Quick-n-Dirty VOIP remote base

using a PC softphone and SignaLink


It's been years since I've had an EchoLink node hooked up to my radio, and, shamefully, even longer since I first made a PC-radio interface and played with it hooked up to my PBX, (use this ugly version if the 1st link is broken) considering that I haven't done much new in the meantime. I just built an AllStarLink VM to play with, but since apparently app_rpt only works w/ specific hardware, not any ALSA device, it's not going to be hooked to the radio in the immediate future.

After 9 years, I didn't even remember doing what I described in the above link, so it felt like something new. Anyway, I wanted a way to to get on the radio here while I'm on a trip later this month. I don't need to go the other direction -- initiate a phone call from the radio -- and I can use the SignaLink's built-in VOX, so I don't need anything special for radio control.

After looking around for simple VOIP software (and considering just using PulseAudio pipes, but wanted better performance over the Internet), I realized that I already had VOIP in the form of Asterisk (My smart phone runs Zoiper and is almost always connected to my home PBX when I'm out and about), so a soft phone client, running on my PC and set for auto-answer, would do the trick; all I had to do is configure it to use the SignaLink's mic/speaker devices.

I already had Zoiper running on my PC, but (1) I wanted to use it for regular calls, not hijack it for this, and (2) The unpaid version doesn't support auto-answer. I don't have Ekiga installed on this machine, but I do have Linphone. Linphone doesn't appear to have an auto-answer option in the GUI, but has a command-line option to enable it.

I also didn't want to leave it running the whole time; I want to be able to launch it on demand from a terminal on my phone, use it, then disconnect it. Because Linphone is designed as a GUI app and doesn't have an option to disable it, it fails if you don't give it an X display (I'm running Linux) to run on. Once I open an ssh terminal session from my phone, this command does the trick:

$ linphone -a --display=:1

At that point, all I need to do is pick up a phone (locally, or my smart phone) and dial the extension (either 72 or "ham-pc") that I assigned to Linphone, and after a warning ring on my PC's speaker, I'm connected to the radio. Use the mute button so I don't accidentally transmit, and I have 2-way radio communication! As expected, the kids got a kick out of being able to run around the house and have a conversation between a cordless phone and an HT.

2021-08-31 - Google Sites is dead; Long live Google Sites!

Google "Classic Sites" officially retires tomorrow, so Mercury Mount St. Helens has moved to the new version of the web hosting platform. Some features are gone (e.g. RSS feeds, automatic pagination of blog-style sections), some are about the same, and there are a few new capabilities to be used. Nearly all of content of the old site is still available, though slightly mangled in places. Plans for new content and tools abound, so stick with us and watch the site grow.

Older posts (2010-07 -- 2021-08)

Old site

Old site (converted) -- ugly; use when the other link stops working.