…aviation frequencies…

If, like me, you enjoy listening in to the various aviation communications, then here is a list of the various Honolulu Airport frequencies:

  • 127.900 – ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information System. You have to listen to this and remember the information letter so that Clearance doesn’t have to repeat any information already on the recording).
  • 124.100 – Clearance (To get your planes callsign into the system, verify you have the information from ATIS, and give you permission to depart Class B airspace via any one of the departure routes).
  • 121.900 – Ground (Permission to taxi to the runway).
  • 118.100 – Tower (Controls the planes through the takeoff and the landing).
  • 119.100 – Approach/Departure (For planes turning West after takeoff and for all planes coming in).
  • 124.800 – Departure (For planes turning East after takeoff).

By the way, those are in order for a plane leaving Honolulu, from the first to the last. You could listen to an airplane’s communications all the way through. You could also listen for a friend/family plane to come in. For a plane coming in, it’s a little easier: 119.100 (for clearance into Class B airspace), 118.100 (for runway, permission to land, and taxiway), 121.900 (for permission to leave the taxiway and taxi to the terminal).

…busy days…

Well, I’ve been busy. I’ve passed IS-700, qualified as a Net Control Supervisor for my club, and have taken on every other Wednesday (starting tonight) as the NCS for our nightly net. That’s 3 FEMA courses done. I have at least 4 more that I want to do.

Our last club meeting was at the Hawaii State Red Cross building over by DiamondHead. Wow. Great meeting. Depending on the progress of my various projects, I may volunteer as an amateur radio operator for the Red Cross. We’ll see.

Speaking of projects, one of them is that I’m rebuilding the club website. The current one needs a facelift. I should have it ready to upload in a week or so.

…passed IS-3…

Ok, I took another course today… IS-3, Radiological Emergency Management. This one was EXTREMELY easy due to my Navy job. The course description says it is a 10 hour course, but I finished the course material and the test in less than 2.5 hours.

That’s it for today, but I am looking through the list to see which one I’m going to knock out next.

Any recommendations?

…passed IS-100…

So, I’ve read about other hams completing courses and getting certifications dealing with emergency preparedness and disaster management. I got curious enough this morning to google the most common one I see, IS-100, Introduction to Incident Command System. I sat down at the computer for a little over two hours, went through the presentations, took the exam, and passed.

Now, I’m interested in getting more of these courses knocked out.


I strongly recommend these as a way to gain familiarity with the procedures and structures that are used in incident management. Quite interesting, and it may help you see an area that you are qualified for in the event you are involved assisting with an incident.

…DIY Alcohol Stove…

In our emergency and portable kits should be some way of emergency cooking. For me, I’ve been playing around with ultralight stoves made out of pop cans. I have finally settled on a design I like. It works well, burns just about anything (isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol[recommended], methyl alcohol, heet antifreeze – basically if it burns you can use it), and is small and portable.


I have the instructions, photos, disclaimer, and video posted on my biking site via the above link.

Please let me know if you try it and how you like it!


…antenna questions…

So, I’m joining a black bear hunt for this fall on Kuiu Island in Alaska. For emergency communications off the island, I am the only General Class licensed ham (so far) and so I picked up an FT-897 off eBay. This should be a great rig in the event we run into any problems.

I have a ton of questions based on the following information:

  • I have not yet ever operated HF.
  • Though I understand many antenna basics, much of it still confuses me.
  • I do not have an antenna tuner.
  • The manual for the 897 states

    “When installing a “balanced” antenna such as a Yagi or dipole,
    remember that the FT-897 is designed for use with an
    (unbalanced) coaxial feedline. Always use a balun or other
    balancing device so as to ensure proper antenna system performance.”

  • My pack weight for the trip is already exceeded with this radio and batteries, I must go absolutely minimum portable with the antenna.
  • Near the end of the trip, if we haven’t used the radio for emergency contacts, I plan to drain the batteries making QSO’s, which I have not yet made on HF.

Question 1: What band/frequency do you recommend for making contacts from the island?

Question 2: What antenna design do you recommend? It needs to be simple and inexpensive (which I think means a wire dipole), but I’m confused about the statement from the manual about the radio designed for an unbalanced coax feedline.

Question 3: Will I need an antenna tuner? Would an antenna tuner be only for multi band operations? Can I get by without one if I only plan to operate on two frequencies (one for QSO’s and one for the Alaska HF emergency frequency)?

Question 4: What recommendations and suggestions do you have for a beginner making his first HF contacts? I’d like to go on the air and not make “newbie-blunders”.

Basically, I’d like to make a trip to the hardware store this weekend and get the materials to build me an antenna. I can experiment with it next week, while I’m still on leave. I’m just not comfortable enough with the information I have to start building one. I’ve read everything from “you will need an antenna tuner if you are using unbalanced feedline such as coax, even with a balun” to “just throw a wire over a tree and make your contacts”. There’s a lot of middle ground between those statements.

So, any ideas for the newbie? Thanks in advance!

…it’s a boy!!!…

Just got home from the hospital. Had a baby boy (well, my wife did – ok, we both did) on Feb 4th, 2006 at 8:10pm.

He weighed 10 lbs and 4.6 oz, and was 20.5 in long. Big kid… we thought he was going to graduate college he was in there so long. He went almost 42 weeks.

Everybody is resting tonight, I’ll post pictures tomorrow.

…private pilot…

Well, it is official. Today I was issued my FAA Private Pilot license. 31 January 2008. Cool date.

(Side Note of interest) 50 years ago today was the successful launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1. See the news article here: http://www.news.com/2300-11397_3-6228251-1.html

And, back to me. I completed the training with 50.0 hours of total flight time, and 41.5 hours of dual instruction. Not too bad. Now I need to decide what to do next… instrument? dual engine? hmmm. At least I’ll have more disposable money for my other hobbies.


…eBay winner…

…So, I’m the proud new winner of a used eBay FT-897! I know, I’m excited too. I already can’t wait to get it. Should be here within a week or so.

And, what next? Hmmm… antenna. I’m thinking a really simple really portable string-up wire dipole antenna. Not necessarilly all band, but at least 20m and maybe 40m. Something that can be thrown up over the trees and operated on low power (for battery life).

Then, portability. Transport container. Something hard-cased like aluminum, or soft cased? Something hand-carry, or shoulder/back carry?

Of course, I’ll need another programming cable (I think) and programming software (definitely).

What about solar charging? Portable panels are getting pretty cheap nowadays.

Hmmm… and the habit addiction hobby expands…

…programming cable…

…So, I was looking at building my own programming cable, but changed my mind (for now). Instead, I purchased one – but not the expensive Yaesu one. I bought one off eBay from Valley Enterprises. It was just under $20, and shipping was FREE (yep, even to Hawaii – you never see that anymore).

I tried it out this weekend, and I love it. Of course, to program your radio you need software, and with only one C++ class under my belt, I wasn’t up to writing my own. So, a purchase and download from G4HFQ set me up with a great program.

Right now, I can only say that the cable works great, and that the software is really easy to use. I tripled the stations programmed on my FT-7800R in a short period of time at the computer. Best part is that it is completely organized now. The memories are setup in a way that make sense, and not just the order I entered them. Wow!

So, why didn’t I build one? I will. So far, it looks like I can cut a keyboard cable with a PS2 connector off, and that will fit the radio. As for the other end, there are diagrams that show the purposes of the different pins and wires, so it should be easy enough to mate that with an appropriate computer connector. Ah, but that is the problem. It looks like using a serial connector would be easy, but a USB connector (which I would rather use) has other issues. Since a USB port is a powered port, there are voltage adjustments that must be made. But, I don’t know enough about all that just yet. However, when I get bored enough… hmmm…