Welcome to South Western IDAHO
- South Western Idaho has a very
wide range of terrain, vegetation, wildlife and
climate. Here in Caldwell, we are at the
Western end of the Treasure Valley, formed initially
when the Yellowstone 'hot spot' was located
here. As the Yellowstone caldera has moved
(well, the effect of the caldera moved on the
surface - most likely the hot spot stood still and
the Earth's crust moved over it.), the mountains
created by tectonic action in the collision of the
North American Plate with the Juan DeFuca Plate were
'melted' by the hot spot. The modern day
result is a valley running from the Oregon-Idaho
border toward the Southeast to just North of the
Idaho-Nevada border then turns Northeast toward the
present day location of the Yellowstone hot spot in
Montana. This valley is surrounded on all
sides by the Rocky Mountains or its cut-off remains
in the ancient Owyhee Range. The valley floor
is around 2,400 feet above sea level (at my
location) while the surrounding mountains and ridges
run to about 6,000 ft to the South and 8-9,000 ft to
the north. This has created a very unique
weather pattern for the valley, where storms coming
toward us from the West typically, dry out as they
leave the Owyhee's (to our South), and start
precipitation again when they hit the Rocky's to our
North, leaving us with an average of 11 inches of
rain and 8 inches of snow annually while Idaho City,
just a few miles away in the foothills of the
Rocky's receives an average of 27 inches of rain,
and McCall, several miles to our North and well
within the Rocky Mountains receives over 25 inches
of rain and a whopping 138 inches of snow
annually. All of that describes how the
Treasure Valley and the Magic Valley are an
agricultural paradise. Lots of water (from all
that mountain snow), long growing seasons, and when
the fates allow, nearly 5 months of continuous
'perfect' weather. All we need to be a 'destination'
would be to have an ocean beach ... but alas, what
we have is called a 'High Chaparral' where grass,
sage brush and the invasive Russian Thistle (tumble
weed) thrive. Where the land is not in active
farming we have endless tracts of 'BLM' (Bureau of
Land Management) controlled land that is generally
accessible to the public while also available for
ranching and in some places it is home to herds of
wild horses. My wife and I love to take trips
out into the desert (excuse me 'High Chaparral') to
see the sights, smell the smells, and meet the wild
or nearly wild life of the area.
- Some photos we have taken from
around the area click here.
HF Radio & RF Path
- Alinco DM-430T Switching 12v 30A
- Yaesu FTDX10 HF/50MHz 100W Hybrid
Systems M-400X Broadcast Band Filter
3.5-5.4Mhz 200W 50 ohms (www.surgestop.com)
The various wave traps and other AM BCB filters
did not appear to work in part because I was
looking in the wrong place. FT8 being a
'weak signal' protocol was not dramatically
affected (or so I thought), and when I was looking
for other signals (mostly SSB) I wasn't finding
them. A big part of the reason was that I
had a lot of additional RFI from local sources
that had not been attenuated and these sources
signatures appeared to be IMD (repeating equal
frequency spacing). After dealing with
those, using the Palomar RFI KIt (below), the
Morgan M-400X was exactly what was required to
clean up the remainder. The difference was a
very dramatic doubling of the number of FT8
decodes per period, and noise levels of S6 on 40M,
S5 on 30M, S4-5 on 20M, S0.5 on 17M, S0.5 on 15M,
S0.5 on 12M, S1 on 10M and S0.5 on 6M. The
increased ability to scan the band and observe
RTTY and SSB was very dramatic. There are
still discrete RFI signals of both single
frequency and 'fuzzy' throughout the entire
spectrum, some come from one (and only one) of my
two Windows monitors (Scepter 20"), and as yet
undiscovered sources. The monitor's power
cable has 3 turns through a 1/2" Ferrite
(Fair-Right V0) which does reduce much, but not
all of the noise from that source. I think
what I'm seeing is a signal generated within the
monitor, and given the low cost of the monitor
plus the low degree of interference I'm going to
call that a win.
Engineers Coax Noise Filter CMNF-500-50GB
<= 38dB rejection of common mode current
Yaesu FTDX10 Transceiver RFI Kit 8 RFI/Noise
Reduction Filters 3 ea. ring and 5 ea. 1/2" snap
- NOTE: When placing the 1/2" snap
on beads; take two or three turns of wires through
the center then gently close the bead while
watching the receiver, as the magnetic field
couples you will notice the effect in reduced
noise. If you have the wire length (and
diameter) to take more turns its easy to adjust
and test. When satisfied snap the bead
shut. As a practical matter, try snapping a
bead shut and getting it open again without any
wire to see how it's done, once in place it may be
difficult to determine. In my case, the
Scepter monitor power supplies were creating a lot
of noise, and five turns in each power lead
quieted the noise down to about 5.5dB (+24.5dB on
the FTDX10's waterfall).
- NOTE: DC Power leads that came
with the radio are quite long (about 6'). I
installed the RFI Torroids with 14 turns through
the center, all in the same direction. All
of the ferrite chokes are installed as close to
the radio as is practical. I installed one
of the 1/2 ID beads on the USB cable (from the
computer for CAT control and audio), I even put a
choke on the CW key line!
- MFJ 993B
IntelliTuner Automatic Antenna Tuner.
NOTE: I really like this tuner! The FTDX10
has an internal tuner that can do quite wide
match, but this tuner can do so much more it
makes it worth the additional expense. It
has made my intentionally non-resonant 95.375 foot
antenna wire (connected through the Palomar
'Bullet' 9:1 UNUN) functional on 80M through 10M
and it provides a 1:1 match to the radio most of
the time. What it's doing is coupling the
transmitters power into the transmission line,
UNUN and antenna. Very little reflected
power toward the radio. All that power is
either radiated as RF or as heat in the antenna
system. So far it appears to be radiating RF
far more than heat, as I increased my 'footprint'
as seen on PSK reporter significantly.
- MFJ 1708B-SDRS SDR Receiver TR
NOTE: This switch makes it possible to run the RSP1a
as a spectrum analyzer looking at the output of the
radio. It also allows the SDR to be used to
observe a wide spectrum of frequencies while
operating the transmitter.
- MFJ 1701 6 port Antenna Switch
through NI4L HF Choke Line Isolator
(CM choke) to reduce RFI.
- SDR Play RSP1a (Software: SDR Uno) connected through
the TR switch to allow receive operation even
when transmitting from the FTDx10.
DELUXE NOISE CANCELING SIGNAL ENHANCER
This device uses a sense antenna and amplifiers
to invert local noise signals and add them back
into the receiver antenna input during
receive. It has a built in TR switch that
apparently MFJ is not very confident in, but my
transceiver doesn't have a distinct TR output
that is easily accessible, so I'm relying on the
built in. Turns out that on my unit the
T/R Delay must be set to 0 (full CCW) versus the
10 (full CW) the manual specifies to allow the
TR relay to drop out at all. Many YouTube
videos describe the operation of this unit, and
a few even discuss the sense antenna, but rarely
do they delve deeply into how it works. I
intend to write up my experience as an article
on this web site, but for now, my experience is
that if you have an end fed half wave antenna as
your main antenna, you are going to want a
similar antenna as a sense antenna. If you
want to use this device to reduce AM Broadcast
Band interference, it is essentially useless,
and if you want to use it to mitigate left over
local noise it might be possible, but it's going
to be difficult to setup and may need to be
changed as often as you change bands. At
the moment I'm thinking of removing it, but I
put it in front of the SDR, so I'm might leave
it in the circuit for a bit to investigate using
it with the SDR to create a useful "PANADAPER".
River Coils SOTA (Modified) tunable vertical
with ground plane 40M through 20M.
- TRAM 1480
VHF/UHF 6db colinear 5/8 wave, mounted atop
8' of black steel 'fence top rail'.
Connected directly to BTECH UV-25X2.
17 ft collapsible (tunable) antenna - uses vary
from SDR input to active antenna for comms.
Recently re-installed for use as sense antenna for
the anticipated addition of an MFJ-1026
Deluxe Noise Cancel / Enhancer / Antenna.
- HamStick antennas; 75, 40,
20, 15, 10 meter.
Uncategorized Antenna Equipment
Alpha Antenna JPole Jr. 34' End
fed 'sloper' feed end at 30' AGL (Above
Ground Level) sloping to 10' AGL fed at
the North end with the wire sloping to the
South, so East/West should be strongest signals,
you would think, but read on!
VHF/UHF Radio & RF Path
Computer & Data Path
- Mac Mini - My office workhorse;
produces the secure (LetsEncrypt)
Internet presence for this web site, (Apache HTTP Server) publishes
several MySQL databases, handles all
storage, video, html editing, email, etc.
- Retired: Acer
Notebook - configured primarily for Application
Generation with AppGini for MySQL databases.
Toshiba Satellite Notebook - configured primarily
for Radio Control with DxLabs, WSJT, and other
radio control software.
- Fluke 77 DVM (circa 1970, my
- NANO VNA Network Vector
- Looking for an inexpensive 100
Mhz dual trace storage oscilloscope. Thinking about
YEAPOOK ADS1014D among others.
- NOTE: The RSP1a SDR makes a
fine spectrum analyzer to sample transmitted
signal. My current antenna is selected by a
switch box, then routed through the MFJ 1708B SDR TR
Switch to the RSP1a and the Yeasu FT10Dx
transceiver. When in transmit there is just
enough RF energy still present to provide the RSP1a
with a very usable sample. Good way to check
for modulation and spurious emission (my first
harmonic is less than 30 db down - GOOD!)
Tuning my audio card volume and WSJT-X's power
control shows that for FT8 mode I can run the
selected audio card at full volume, and the program
power level at 100% without distortion and that I do
not have to apply any wave shaping to produce a
clean transmit signal.
- 20210730 I captured this
screen shot from the Spectrum Analyzer app running
on the RSP1a. Conditions: WSJT-x FT8 Tune
mode with transmit frequency set to 1000 Hz, Power
100%, into Palomar 55 antenna, sampled by RSP1a
inline via MFJ 1708B. First harmonic is
-33db 4th harmonic is -50.5db. The signal is
averaged over 20 sweeps.
- Skimmer (not until it works
with my SDR or another inexpensive one).
Skimmer is expensive - but it could be worth it
since there are few reverse beacons near me.
But not until I have a proven antenna system ...
- Best radio control, DX, Contesting software, but
it needs a native CW decoder!
- WSJT - The best way to 'do'
- JTAlert - Adds serious
functionality to WSJTx for things like 'worked
before' and 'Calling You'.
- NOTE: As of July 2021 I have
configured WSJTx and JTAlert to cooperate and
control FT8, logging (both local and LoTW) and
spotting. Working on how to automatically and
timely update LotW and QRZ logs.
- CWGet - Works off the
sound card, so it can work with DXLabs
- CHIRP - Allows programming
HT's to the same channel (frequency) etc. even if
they are different model numbers from different
manufacturers. But its a bit 'clunky' - I may have a
look at creating the same functionality using some
other tools and database(s).
VNA analysis of my
antennas - or - Learning how to use VNA Windows
4NEC2 modeling and analysis of antennas and antenna
Install and Test
- Using a 30' flag pole to
'fly' a wire antenna and stay under the radar
As well as how well it works, and how much
sensitivity it has to installation direction.
NOTE: This project is mostly complete. The
Palomar 'Bullet' and 95.375 ft #14 THHN wire
antenna is designated antenna 'P95'.
- Using two 17M 'Hamstick'
antennas to form a vertical dipole, model and
- If this works as I think it
will, these should make an ok DX antenna.
- Based on results, construct
a self supporting, vertical half wave 40M
antenna, then add additional vertical half wave
antennas to the structure to create a multi-band
40M-10M antenna with low radiation angle.
- Cut for FT8 operation,
these are the half wave antenna lengths:
- 40M 66.00'
- 30M 46.12'
- 20M 33.22'
- 17M 25.83'
- 15M 22.18'
- 12M 18.75'
- 10M 16.65'
Comparison to Wolf SOTA vertical
and other antennas.
- Relative ERP map by
Transact (or something) the DXLabs and WSJTx MS Access
log databases on JWIN into MySQL tables on JMAC so I
can archive, and manipulate, display etc. outside of
the applications. See if AppGini can ingest
'em? Otherwise use Open Office Db to enumerate
One Click Reports I want to write:
- List today's QSO's by time.
- List today's QSO's by band
- List states & countries
- List outstanding QSL's.
- List QSL's by date/time.
- Ground rod installed &
connected - working on eliminating noise and KCID
AM before I write it all up. The ground rod
is connected to a 'loom' which is usually found
inside an AC distribution panel, but in this case
is screwed directly to the wall behind the
desk. There are 9 positions, one ground
wire/equipment per. Currently using 1 for
the ground rod, and 4 for equipment grounds.
- I have found a bit of a
difference in potential between the 3rd wire
ground and the ground rod. I've made up a
jumper and plug that allows me to easily bond the
two grounds for testing and evaluation. So
far I have found no significant effect one way or
- Lightning Ground
- Signal Ground
- EMI Ground and Shielding
(I've got a great large (1490Khz/1KW) KCID AM
ground wave transmitter 500 yards to my
East). Working with Palomar Engineering to
get the RF (both mine and KCID's) on the coax
shield stopped before it gets to the radio using
filters and chokes.
Radio Continuity of Operation
- New battery for UPS
- Power OP strip from UPS
(JMac & display, JWin & displays, ext
drives, HF, VHF & UHF radios, HT charger.
- New automotive/deep cycle
battery for transmitter(s)
- Solar charger.
- Recharge all radio and
- Switch radio over from
commercial to battery. Temporary immediate
phone, CW only.
- Switch house (RV) and
entire shack to generator (change 50A and 30A
source from commercial to genset), consider
FrostKing heat tapes etc. Temporary all modes.
Reduce QRM on 160, 80, 11, 10
meter bands due to KCID and general noise.