Saturday, March 13, 2021

HAM Radio Geekery

 So I decided to do a little antenna testing on HT Antennas as there are lots of different opinions and a whole bunch of conflicting data out concerning portable antenna performance. I didn't bother with fox tails as that is not practical on an HT that you carry around and it is even more impractical to be switching back and forth between a short tail for 70cm and a long tail for 2m.

The Antenna's


From top to bottom: Factory Yaesu VX-2R, Factory Yaesu FT-60R, Factory Yaesu FT-3DR, Comet SMA-24, a 2nd Comet SMA-24, HYS NA-772, Diamond SRH77CA, and ABBREE 42.5" "Tactical" antenna. (Yes I am a Yaesu FanBoi)

The Test Equipment

I Used an ANYSECU SF-103 Frequency Counter with field strength meter and an MFJ-266B Antenna Analyzer. No calibration data needed as I am comparing antennas to each other and the two instruments agreed within about 10Hz on frequency. So, I am happy to call the equipment adequate for this test.

The Test

I setup the MFJ-266B and the SF-103 so that the antenna base was at the same level and they were 12" apart. With the SF-103 sporting its supplied antenna, I mounted each antenna on the MFJ-266B and set the frequency to 146MHz (center of the 2m HAM band) and recorded readings of SWR and receive field strength. I then tuned the MFJ-266B until I reached the lowest SWR reading in the VHF range and recorded at what frequency the antenna was resonant and what that lowest SWR was. Lather, Rinse, Repeat for 435MHz and tuning through UHF range. Next, I setup the MFJ-266B with an SMA male adapter and a Nagoya 771 antenna as a "transmitter" and installed a BNC to SMA Female adapter on the SF-103 to measure each antennas relative ability to receive a weak signal. Mounting the 42.5" antenna on the tiny SF-103 was an interesting exercise in balance and not bumping the table. I tested signal capture ability at both 146MHz and 435MHz.

The Data

THIS IS SCIENCE because I wrote it all down!

Just looking over the data raised a few thoughts. The factory antennas, the Diamond and the ABBREE are really tuned for 2m while everyone is roughly tuned for both 2m and 70cm although the SWRs at 435MHz are higher than I would like. I was surprised at the high SWR of the factory antennas from my FT-60R and FT-3DR. I expected better tuning from the factory.

Plotting out the data for 2m band

showed the ABBREE unfolded topped 2m performance but it is huge so the SMA-24's pretty much are the right balance of size and performance with the NA-772 and the SRH77CA following closely.

While the plot for 70cm

showed the NA-772 being the peak performer with the SRH77CA second and the ABBREE third, then the SMA-24's following while performing differently from each other but close to the factory antennas.

On the receiving end

the monster ABBREE pretty much blows everyone away at 2m but I would expect that from an antenna that is three times the size. At 70cm it was the worst and performed the same straight out as well as folded in thirds. At 2m the NA-772 leads the 16" antennas with the SMA-24's second followed by the SRH77CA. While at 70cm the SRH77CA "wins" with the factory and the NA-772 following and the SMA-24's all performing pretty much the same and the ABBREE worst.

The Final Thoughts

When all is said and done it would appear the best antenna tested overall and certainly the best for the money is the HYS NA-772. Best $8 spent on radio gear. I will likely buy another and test it to see if it performs consistent with the one I already have or if their QC is lacking. The Diamond SRH77CA and the Comet SMA-24's are a wash compared to each other at 2m and the Diamond has the edge at 70cm while all cost about the same but significantly more than the HYS. Although I would give the edge to the SRH77CA over the SMA-24's slightly and I am curious about the difference between the 2 Comets. I wonder about the QC of the Diamond but I'm not $28 curious.

Biggest surprise is the receive performance of the factory FT-60R and FT-3DR antennas. The transmit performance I pretty much expected to be better at 2m with the larger antennas but at 70cm they did pretty well despite having high SWR. I was surprised at the Comet antennas performing worse than factory stubbys on 70cm transmit and all the 16" antennas lesser performance across the board on receive.

That's enough science for me today. Tune back in a couple years and I'll likely have another post up. Hopefully sooner but you never know.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


In the immortal words of Anton Ego, "You serve me what you dare and I'll offer you some perspective."

This is the view from where my friend suffered a medical emergency that resulted in his heart stopping and CPR being required. Most people would look at that view of a fire station with an Ambulance and Engine in it and say,"Man there's not much better place to be if something is going to happen." And here is where they are wrong.

If the normal response is to dial 911 and wait for professional help, the dispatcher must get information about what the call is about and where it is then tone out the appropriate resources. They then have to get to their vehicles, locate not only where the location is but in this case, how to get through a secured construction site to get best access to the patient. THAT TAKES TIME! What if the engine and ambulance were out on other calls? It happens, multiple time a day.
Yesterday, the people around him when he went down, stood up and took immediate action. They did what they could with the knowledge and training they had to make sure that when professional help arrived, there was as viable of a patient for them to work on as possible.

We aren't talking curing cancer by yourself in the field. We are talking simple, PROVEN, life saving efforts that dramatically increase a persons chances of survival and recovery. And your willingness to step up and use them.

We do not have control over wither the Where or the When knobs, we do, however, have absolute control over the "How am I going to react" knob. All I ask is that you work to make that knob turn a notch higher than where it is now. If that is just getting it off of 0, so be it. Ultimately, most will not choose to make theirs go all the way to 11 and become a Firefighter or Paramedic, or LEO, or Soldier, or Dispatcher. Knowing CPR, how to use an AED, and how to control serious bleeding takes mere hours to initially learn and very little practice time to stay in shape. The flip side, is that can make all the difference of if a person lives or dies within the next 5 minutes or less.

How about we work on getting your HOW knob to at least turn up to a 4? Learn CPR, Learn how to use an AED, Learn "Stop The Bleed."

The life you save may not be important to you at the moment, but I bet they are important to somebody!

EDIT TO ADD: My friend called the job site this morning to talk! THAT is the difference between someone standing there knowing CPR and doing and people standing around waiting for 911 to respond.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


In all seriousness, as of 11:45 local, The George H W Bush Combat Development Complex is officially a thing and I was there for the groundbreaking. This effort of Texas A&M University and the Army Futures Command resulted in a Cooperative Agreement to develop a part of the RELLIS campus at Texas A&M. With the support of the State of Texas the Complex is a reality. This will speed up the path of getting state of the art technology into the hands of front line warfighters as usable technology and I get to play a tiny part in it.

Any of you who knew or knew of George H W Bush, know that he had an affinity for fancy socks. Towards the end, he could always be seen rolling around in his wheelchair with fancy socks on full display. Well, as part of the celebration of this man and what he stood for, the takeaways from the groundbreaking and naming ceremony included a pair of custom fancy socks commemorating the Bush Combat Development Complex.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Good Things

All good things must come to an end. And so does mine this weekend. I end 13 fantastic fun filled years at the Oran W Nicks Low Speed Wind Tunnel. However, I'm not really completely leaving. I am just jumping up in speed. From MACH 0.3 to MACH 5.0+, I'm moving next door through the Hypersonics lab to the Aerospace Laboratory for Lasers, Electromagnetics, and Optics with the building code named The Alamo. Finally getting back full circle to using my degree in Laser ElectroOptics while building upon my experiences in the Wind Tunnel World. I enter this with equal parts excitement and terror, This is such an incredible opportunity to attack new challenges and be part of the teams that develop new and exciting laser diagnostic techniques. The application of these in various tunnels and innovative ways just make it all the more exciting. Besides, <LEGO GUY VOICE> LASERS <LEGO GUY VOICE>! No sharks involved, unless the Navy wants to pony up some research funding, then we'll talk.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Foxy Loxy

This has to be the best picture of the little red fox we have in the area. Now if only I could catch a picture of the Cougar. And shoot the damn coyotes that are tearing up the calves.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I wanna go fast Ma!

Dark Star Air Racing brought one of their L-39's by KCLL along with the team and I was fortunate enough to be able to give them a tour of the Wind Tunnel before they headed off onto campus for tours ending up back at the airport to host the Aggie Women in Engineering chapter for a meet and greet. What a great bunch of folks.
It's not like I'm into Plane Stalking or anything. But, I did manage to get a few good shots during arrival.

Then it was back to the daily grind of testing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

That's All Brother over AggieLand

Awesome shot, caught this C-47 "That's All Brother" that led the Normandy Invasion flights doing a flyover past the clock tower at Texas A&M this afternoon. Was across the street in front of Kleberg BLDG and heard something. Took a minute to spot it because it was behind the building.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Oh Deer! New Year!

So last week was a LONG week that started the week before. When I got home from work Friday I all but collapsed and stayed that way until midday Saturday. I was physically and emotionally drained. Today, I finally had the energy up to go outside and survey the damage from the last couple days of wind. Not terrible. While out, we went by each game cam and pulled cards since they had been last checked at the beginning of the month/year. Please to make note, the left edge of the picture above is about 12 feet from the window of the guest bedroom/library. We don't put out corn or feed or anything this year. Especially wiht how thick the acorns are. There are two to five does bedded down in this corner of the yard almost nightly.
As I said, no feed but lots of acorns. We've got deer in the cameras every day. Anything form a single doe to a herd of them. Middle of the day, middle of the night.
They're out there wandering through.
Including one funky unicorn.

As far as damage form the storms, we had 43MPH gust with a 24 hour period that averaged in the lower 30MPH range for the entire time. Lost, well had come loose, two panels of tin on the roof of the barn. One managed to remove itself from the structure and the other was still hanging on but flapping and about to go. Lots of branches down and some large ones at that, but, no complete trees down that we could see. Granted it's warmed up to 32 and the chill factor is still in the low 20's with the continued wind so I have no intention of going out searching for trees.
Instead, Kelli and I will stay in and bake some fresh bread. Kinda like we did with cookies over the holidays. Vacuum pack (partial vacuum and seal) and freeze and the mini loafs will keep just fine. Just like the cookies.

Maybe at some point it will be warm enough and dry enough to get out onto the range and do some shooting. Right now our range is unusable because it is pretty much swampland along with good amounts of pasture.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lights Out!

Started Monday at "Long before O'dark thirty" with the electrical contractors, the Utilities and Energy Services folks for the University and the FAA to shut down power to everything the feeds through our parking area so it could all be switched to generator power. We'll be on Gensets for a week while the contractors build a new slab and pull in a new underground feed for a new switchbank and relocated transformers. Then we switch back to line power and they remove all of the overhead lines from our area to make way for a new two story building. that will sit pretty much everywhere in the picture above. Mostly everything went right. A couple of hickups highlighted things for us and for the airport to have a closer look at.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Zombie Thriller Apaacolypse NOT

So this was me last weekend. Paul Martin held his annual Preparedness Conference at KRTraining and this year, Kelli and I were invited to talk Chainsaw Safety. We are planning a class on safety and use but that will be an all day thing or at least half a day. We had an hour. So we did our level best to get as much information out to the students about safety, choosing a saw, accessories, and some very basic techniques for disaster situations. Such as cutting your way out or back in from/to your home.

There were presentations on the years outlook, preparedness medicine, fitness, Kubaton use, and checklists for preppers. Not a single bad one among them and that was just day 1. So much great information

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

This is the best Christmas for us in some time. At least it feels the most Christmasy. This is the first time I have ever had a live tree in my life. Add to that, Kelli and I combined ornaments from each of our families. Combine that with two ornaments we received this year. Cooking went well and we have lots of leftovers. Both of us are in a food comma. Not quite Comatose but close. Talked to a long lost friend today, we may have to make our vacation take a different route this coming year. Going to get together tomorrow with a friend who is in Central Texas from Europe. Haven't seen him in years either.

Merry Christmas to all and to All a Great Night!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

It's been that long

SO, my posting has been on FecesBook and Twits on line and Instagrahmnhamn. I haven't had a blog post in years. I keep this open as a placeholder for links to blogs I follow. Maybe after I finish with steroid injections in my back and get that straightened out, I'll have the energy to do stuff worth making a blog post about. After I have the energy to get stuff done around the ranch and home. We shall see. Meanwhile, Here's a picture from this past A Girl & A Gun national conference. If you don't know about AG&AG, go find out more. If you don't know who these not so random people are, you REALLY should find out. They are just a few of the most awesomest people on the planet that I have had the absolute joy of working with at AG&AG.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sig P320 post the third: The summerizing

So after 475 rounds, four shooters, three grips I have to say I am impressed. The trigger got gritty as one box of ammo was Tula steel case crap but the gun kept running. As an end, I shot two more 15 rounds at 15 yards in 15 seconds. One batch with Sig 115Gr FMJ and one with Freedom 124Gr JHP.
Overall, I like it enough that I looked up the Sig Instructor program to see how much it is going to cost me to get one.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sig P320 Part Duex:The Grippening

One of the unique features of the Sig P320 is that the trigger group is the registered part and the grip is an unrestricted hunk of plastic. Allowing Sig to provide to the end user an assortment of grips without having to purchase another gun. The grips come in three sizes, Large, Medium, and Small in each of the different sized of guns from compact to full size.
Here is the Carry version, full size grip with 4" barrel, in L, M, and S from left to right. In testing this gun out, we were a group of four shooters needing all three grip sizes. One lefty and experience from a person who has been out to the range a sum total of less than a dozen times to competitive shooter/instructor. Our newest shooter walked right through the grip change in about a minute and a half. I got a video of me swapping from large to small and I have done the change once before after having been shown by my friend once. That's how easy it is.
In addition, something I discovered is if you are like me and have monster monkey hands with large fat fingers and you use a good high two handed grip, there is the distinct possibility that the gun will not lock open after the last round as your thumb rides the slide stop. Well, Sig knows about that and has already addressed it with a new grip design with a protected slide stop. While I was provided one, I did not swap out to it as that would require taking the trigger group apart to install the new slide stop and time and propriety just didn't let me get to it.
Interesting observation during shooting was one shooter had slidelock malfunctions with the Large grip but the gun ran flawlessly for him with the Medium  grip. Also, while I usually lean towards the largest grips I can get my hands around, the medium grip worked well for me. The ability to change grips to find what worked best for who made it very easy to shoot well with this gun.

Sig P320 Part the first

Last Thursday evening while grocery shopping we ran into a really good friend that we haven't seen in many moons. He works for Sig. Conversation went from how ya doin to shooting. As it always does. One thing led to another and now I have a P320 Carry (4"bbl w/full length grip) to T&E. Along with a few boxes of Sig ammo.

 For initial thoughts, as a gun nerd and overall mechanical geek, this is a thing of beauty in design. The idea that in about 30 seconds you can do what is essentially a field strip and have the entire fire control group out of the gun swapped into a different size grip and slide on any caliber top end you wish and still only "own" one gun. Seeing as the FCG is the registered part you can have as many grips and top ends as you want. There will be a video of grip change in the next post because they have done so much more.

For my initial test, I went to my old standby; 15 rounds at 15 yards in 15 seconds. Think extended Bill Drill.  For that test I used the Sig ammo provided 115Gr FMJ, Independence 115Gr FMJ, Freedom Munitions 124Gr JHP, American Eagle 115Gr FMJ, Remington 124Gr Golden Sabre +P, and just for fun Tula 115Gr FMJ.

So today I wandered out to the range (we have a 25ydsX25yds three sided berm pushed up in our north pasture) and tossed up a target and started shooting. Interestingly the ejected brass all ended up in a pile about 6 feet to my right, except the nickel plated brass of the +P. That stuff ended up about 3 feet behind my right shoulder.

OK, I know I suck and don't practice enough, especially considering the proximity of the range. This target is all 90 rounds fired from the very first round, that first 15 included the low left three. I'm still consistently a tad left even after I settled in.  I will be going out and shooting more tomorrow in between rain storms and at some point I'll swap grips the the Mrs can go shoot it some herself and give her opinion. Then some friends are coming over to give it a whirl and see what they think.

Next up, grips and what Sig has done with them.