03 July 2024

03 July 2024 Ride


Went on a really short ride this morning. I intended on riding farther but my back started feeling wonky so I decided to come home while I was still in the neighborhood. It was hot and had about an 85% chance of steam. I installed a new side bag, I did a different way to mount it and it tucked it in closer to the trike, so I saved about three inches of width on the trike. Usually not a big deal but there is an obstacle in my driveway in front of my garage door and it makes it harder to get the trike in the garage. 

I ordered some hardware to mount my ammo box / trunk to my rear rack. I have been attaching it using bungee cords but I want something more stable for the plans that I have. Here is a pick of the trunk:


The long term plan is to put two more ammo cans, one on each side of the rear wheel to serve as saddlebags. Then I want to put one or two 12 volt sealed lead acid batteries and put some solar trickle chargers on the lid of each ammo can. Then the batteries can charge a little bit while I ride (I will still need a charger for the batteries cause the solar chargers won't work very good inside my garage). Having the batteries will give me power for my radios. It may end up being overkill since I like to use QRP radios and those tend not to need as much power. 
I also ordered some Sky Blue spray paint to paint the ammo cans, I really hope that it is close to the color of the trike. Last I ordered a bike mounted Bluetooth speaker. It is not very smart to use ear buds while you are in pedestrian mode cause you need to be able to hear traffic. I will review it here once I get it and use it a bit. 

Since I am still unable to operate ham radio portable I did not set up any radio and since I did not set up a radio, I got no contacts. 
Please leave a comment below or just say hello in the comments section below. You can email me at Aaron@K5ATG.com
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Aaron K5ATG

26 June 2024

Trike Ride 26 June 2024

Things are improving some for me physically at least. I took some of the extra lumber and made a work stand for my trike. It works pretty good. It is at just the right height where I can work on the trike while standing or sitting.  

Here I basically stripped everything down from the trike. I had the seat and seat bag washed. Then I took the side accessory bar from the right side to the left side (I'm left handed) I need a new handlebar bag, this goes on the aforementioned side accessory bar. I love having a bag that is within handy reach so I can keep my wallet, diabetic medicine, keys etc. 

The big black box over the rear wheel is actually a ammo box for .50 caliber ammunition. No I didn't get to shoot a .50 cal gun 😞 . These ammo cans are very well made, so I got one and started using it as a trunk for the trike. It works great, again very sturdy. Right now I have it attached using a bungee cord, little bit of redneck coming out. I painted it using spray on bedliner for pick ups. Some very strong paint. I have two more of those ammo cans that I want to paint the same color as the trike and use them as saddle bags. My plan is to put a couple of sealed lead acid batteries in one of the ammo cans and install on of those solar panels that go on the dash of your car to help keep your car battery charged. I want to put that on the lid of the trunk and have it charging while I ride. This will give me a good power source for radios when I finally get set up to operate from local parks.  

The black pipe that is just in front of the trunk is just a PVC pipe and inside I keep a 23' telescoping fishing pole. This is perfect for wire antennas. A lot of city parks around here don't let you use stakes to hold guy rops to support an antenna nor will they let you put a wire in a tree. Having this telescoping fishing pole attached to the trike is an easy way to get around those rules. Here is the fishing pole extended. 

 I got the trike mostly back together and hit the trails for a ride. It was around 100 degrees and the Sun was just baking the trails. During the evening of 25 June 2024 we had a windstorm come through and tore a bunch of stuff up. Here is a power line pole on the trail that had snapped off at the base. 

Here is a Dodge truck that didn't live up to its name by not dodging this big ass tree. I guess you could say that the tree rammed the Ram truck. Since this was late afternoon on the day after the windstorm and it is still like this, I don't think that anyone was in the truck at the time of the incident. From where I was when I took this pic, I could not see where the tree had come from. 

Here is the path of my ride. I was really hoping to get ten miles. However my sugar dropped really low and I didn't have my medicine with me. I could have taken a break and finish the ride but when my sugar gets low like that I feel completely exhausted. This is a prime example why I really want electric on my trike. If I had E-Assist then I could have just turned it on and use it to take me home. Instead I had to get my son and have him come and get me. About one out of around twenty rides I have to get help coming home. Mostly because of my back. Someday I shall win the lottery and get E-Assist. Until then I have to push myself hard because this trike is my way to get out of the house and enjoy life for a little bit. I know everyone is saying that I should have someone ride with me, I should have this or have done that. I don't have those options. I do what I can with what I have. I don't have the option of just slapping down the $1,500 to buy E-Assist. If something happens then something happens. I got to take the chance and get out there, end venture into the world around me. My choice is to ride my trike or live in bed. What choice would you make? Beside I have the most wonderful family on the planet that I can call to come rescue me. In fact they have rescued me so many times that they are really good at it. 

This is my ride today. I don't have the radio gear at this time to operate portable but that may be fixed in the not to distant future. If you want to follow along as I ride myself back to good health and set up a radio every now and then just hit the subscribe button. If you did, it would be the highlight of the month. Leave any comments that you wish and remember that you can contact me directly by email at Aaron@K5ATG.com
Until next time be safe and I will see you on the air or on the trail. 
Aaron K5ATG

10 May 2024

New Desk

 I finally got my new homemade desk in. There is still a lot of organising and getting used to it but after a few weeks I really love it. 

25 March 2024

POTA Activation Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area US-6369

This upcoming weekend (28 March 2024 - 01 April 2024) I will be spending the weekend at my brothers place at the Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area US-6369. This park in located in south-east Oklahoma in McCurtain and Pushmataha Counties. It has been activated a total of 4 times but only three of those reached the minimum of 10 QSO's. A total of 106 QSO's have been made from all of the activations. Two activators are tied at having 46 QSO's each. It's last activation was in October 2023, about 6 months ago. 

My setup will be using a sBITX transceiver with a homebrew 40-10 meter EFHW. I will be mostly on FT8 and some SSB work. One of my goals is to contact by radio my friends that live in the Oklahoma City Area. I also wish to surpass the 46 QSO limit that seems to exist for this park. Because I will be completely rebuilding my shack it may be a little while before I upload my log to LOTW, eQSL, and POTA. I will upload to QRZ.com. Follow me on Twitter or X what ever it is called this week, my handle is Aaron@K5ATG and I will post there when I get on the air. 

For this activation I will respond to all QSL cards, I will also try to make some QSL cards specific to this activation. They will not be of the highest quality because I will make and print them from home. My information is correct on QRZ.com. If you do see me on the air, I just please ask that you spot me. I would really like to get 50 QSO's for the weekend. 

For more information please visit the following links:

POTA (Parks On The Air)

Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area

Of course be kind to each other on the air and in life. For future updates please subscribe to this blog. Feel free to contact me at Aaron@K5ATG.com


Aaron K5ATG


20 March 2024

New Shack Desk II

 Got an update on my new shack desk. 

Special thanks to my son Dakota, the finish and the poly has been applied. Now we just need to air it out for a few days to get rid of the fumes and then put it in the house. I'm getting excited for it. It will make life in the shack so much easier. 

01 March 2024

Bob Heil K9EID SK

 The amateur radio community is sad by the loss of amateur radio legend Bob Heil K9EID. He is the founder of Heil Sound, who makes audio equipment that is used by the best musical artist around the world and also the first manufacture to be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also on of the original hosts of Ham Nation.  I could go on and write down all of his accomplishments but I would be typing here for a week. 

I was very lucky to have met him in 2019 OzarkCon in Branson Missouri

We exchanged probably over 100 emails over the years with him giving me advice on radios and antennas and me entertaining him with jokes. I'm sure that he is in Heaven building coaxial resonant dipoles and hooking up a audio mixer and stage monitors to a HF radio. 

Bob thank you for teaching us so much. 

Aaron K5ATG

P.S. SK stands for Silent Key which in amateur radio lingo means that a amateur radio operator passed away. 

31 January 2024

New Shack Desk

 I have not been on the radio for the last few days. Here we are in the middle of winter and here in the 405 it has been very beautiful. We have been in the 60's and 70's all week. It is one thing nice about living in Oklahoma, we have winter where it is cold windy, snow and ice. Then every now and then we get a nice break from winter and have spring type weather. So me and my favorite buddy, Dakota, have been taking advantage of the weather nad have been doing a lot of work on my desk. 

It is a corner desk just made out of yellow pine plywood. Once finished it will have a shelf that will go along the back edge. It isn't going to be the nicest to look at but it will be more efficient then the setup that I'm using now. Its slow going, I have been working on this since last June, so for about 7 months. 

I will update more as it goes along. 

22 January 2024

sBITX V3 Using a old laptop display as a larger display

 One of the nice things about the sBITX is that it was designed to use a 7 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen. Since I got just the board version of the sBITX v3 and no enclosure I used what I had on hand, a stand alone 7 inch LCD display.

The picture above was my standard setup using the 7 inch LCD display. It worked really nice and it was a clean setup (because all of the messy crap is hidden behind the black foam board :D ) My issue with it was how small it was. I practically had to use a magnifying glass held up to the LCD display to see who was answering my FT8 CQ call. Frustration levels went through the roof. 

Then I remembered that I have an old laptop tucked away in the corner of my shack. This thing was in worse shape than me. Half of the keys on the keyboard was missing, it ran off of Windblows 7, and it had a massive 250 gb hard drive. The Raspberry Pi 4 that is running my sBITX has more punch than this laptop. But the lap top had a 15.6 inch LCD display that WORKS! Heck Yeah! I can do something with this. 

I tore the laptop apart and freed the display from its prison of plastic. The picture above shows the laptop display. I kept the hinges on because they are attached to the display pretty darn good and I don't want to risk breaking the display. If that happened then i would have to borrow the neighbors new laptop and go through all of the trouble of removing his display and replacing it with my broken display and then explain to the neighbor that the cat knocked the laptop off the ceiling fan and broke it.  That is just a lot of work. I can use the hinges for now and if I need them gone later on down the road, I have a sawzall

With a laptop the controls for the display are incorporated into the circuit board of the laptop. Because of this you just can't hook the laptops LCD display up to the Raspberry Pi and get it to work.  You need to get a control board. To do that you need to find the model number of the LCD display. Gently turn it over and on the back you shall see a label. Here is the label on the back of mine.

   For mine the model number is LP156WH2. So I went to Amazon and searched for Control Board for LP156WH2 Laptop display and this is what I found.

MAKE SURE THAT THE CONTROL BOARD WORKS FOR YOUR LCD MODEL. If you get the wrong control board it isn't gonna work and it will make you madder than a midget in a NBA shower room. For this one it cost $23. So I just asked the wife for $25 to get her an early birthday present. I came off looking like a Romeo and she will forget about it by the time her birthday arrives. The control board comes with one of those cheap little remote controls that never work. I just use a sharpie and put one of my neighbors name on it and then tossed it in my other neighbors gutter. Not my problem anymore, let them figure it out. I'm not going to go into detail on how to hook the control board up to the laptop display. Plenty of videos about that lurking around. I got it hooked up and attached everything to a board. I used the hinges on the display to attach it to the board. This allows the display to be adjusted.

As you can see it makes a nice display for my sBITX. I still need to make a enclosure for the sBITX. The part that I have to figure out, should I use this large display and put everything into one large enclosure? It would be really nice but a bit hard to strap it down to my trike to take it to a city park and operate portable for a while. Or i could just dismiss the display on the sBITX and make a smaller enclosure for it and then for home use I can use the 15.6" display and I can still use the 7" display for portable use. Let me know in the comments section below. 

As always you can reach me at Aaron@K5ATG.com


Aaron K5ATG

27 December 2023

sBITX V3 Board Review

 A few months back Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE, the father of the BITX series of QRP transceivers came out with the latest edition of that line the sBITX. Once I checked out the copious number of attributes of this little, I immediately realized that this is the HF Transceiver that I have been waiting for. It first came out as the sBITX D.E. (Developers Edition) this edition was to help iron out all of the little problems that come with launching a new product. 

The sBITX DE may have been mainly for ironing out problematic issues, but it proved to be capable of paving the road for the sBITX series. The future and pretty much the present of HF transceivers is SDR- Software Defined Radio. An SDR is in layman's terms, where many functions of transceivers is performed by software instead of traditional electronic components. This allows the physical size of the transceiver to remain small and at the same time expanding its features. What Farhan did with the sBITX DE was genius. He took a relativity cheap (at the time) single board computer the Raspberry Pi 4 and incorporated it into a custom built 40-watt HF Transceiver. He then made the transceiver, and 

Raspberry Pi OS open source and made everything freely available for anyone to download the software and hack it and change it in any way that they see fit.  

The sBITX DE covered the 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meter bands. It was about the size of a bread toaster. It incorporated a Raspberry Pi 4 (2 gb) and a 7 inch Raspberry Pi touch screen. By having the Raspberry Pi fully incorporated into the system, a whole new plethora of features that are not even seen it transceivers costing ten times as much. 

Digital modes has been a large part of the hobby for decades. Usually you need to have an HF transceiver, a computer and some sort of interface that connects the transceiver to the computer. On top of that you need all of the cables that come with the computer, all of the cables that come with the transceiver and the cables required to connect it all together. The sBITX gets rid of most of that mess. You need a power cable and a antenna coax. That's it. Yeah a keyboard and mouse are great additions to the sBITX (does your expensive HF radio use a keyboard and mouse?) but with the Raspberry Pi, those can be wireless. So without any extra devices, cables etc, the sBITX allows you to operate on most if not all digital modes. To help you keep track of all of the QSO's that you will have with this rig a logbook is also incorporated into the system. In some modes it will do all of the logging for you on its own! As we all know, we like to brag about getting some rare DX in your logbook. A lot of the time your buddies will just have to take your word for it. The sBITX now allow you to back up your bragging with the ability to record that QSO and play it back to your envious friends. 

One of the sBITX features that i really love is CW. It is well known that I have a host of medical problems. Some of those problems are neurological in nature. These neurological issues keep me from sending CW via key, paddle, bug and most other devices. I can type decent enough though. There are a few ways to send CW via keyboard. Usually in the form of an expensive keyer that has a keyboard feature as an afterthought. The sBITX really makes my heart thump with its options at sending CW. You can send with a straight key, a bug some paddles, and of the traditional stuff. Also you can have a keyboard on the 7" touch screen where you can send by using the on screen keyboard. As mentioned earlier you can use a wireless keyboard and mouse with the sBITX. So of course the coolest option is you can send CW with the wireless keyboard. The CW signal is decoded on the screen as a back up to you decoding it yourself. 

The first edition for public sale was the sBITX V2. This offered all of the features of the DE edition but the depth of the enclosure was cut down by more than half. The new version was about the size of the ARRL Handbook This made it much more friendly for POTA, SOTA and other portable activities. 

You can pack up the sBITX, a battery and antenna and get out of the shack and go out to a local park and get on the air. You wont need any extra parts like a computer of fancy keyer to show all of the passer by how cool amateur radio is. Also you can use your cell phone as a hotspot so you can use THIS HF radio to catch up on Farhan's latest YouTube video or you can cruise on over to the BITX 20 io group to ask any question you want about any of the BITX radios. The sBITX comes pre loaded with the Libre Office suite of software, so when the bands are dead you can make a antenna measuring spreadsheet on LibreOffice Calc or you can use LibreOffice Writer to write your next best selling novel. Can you write a book on your two thousand radio appliance? Didn't think so. 

The latest edition is the sBITX V3. This is the one that I am blessed to have. I have the board only version where I had to supply the Raspberry Pi, 7" touch display, speaker and microphone. 

The V3 has a new gui (Graphic User Interface) however the V3 operating system and sBITX software will work on the DE and V2 versions. Instead of transmitting 40 watts the V3 has a more respectable (to me at least) 20 watts. 

Now I have put my V3 through some use and racked up a few new countries. Here is my setup, but your mileage may vary. 
  • sBITX V3 transceiver board only (I really need to figure out an enclosure for it before something gets shorted out.) 
  • Raspberry Pi 4 (4 GB RAM) 
  • ATU-100 EXT Automatic Antenna Tuner, I really do not need this (see antenna below). I'm mainly using it as a power/ swr meter which again is not needed at when transmitting the sBITX displays the transmitting power and the SWR. 
  • 20 Meter homebrew Inverted V dipole broadside east-west. The feed point is 32' above the ground. I have it tuned to 1.0:1 - 1.1:1 SWR on the CW and Digital portions of the band (14.000-14.200 MHz).
I do not have a dedicated room for my shack. My house is fairly small and there are four humans and a cat that call this place home. My "shack" is one wall on the side of my bedroom that I share with my beautiful XYL. We have been married since June 1997. To have a long lasting happy marriage both parties must be willing to compromise. Saying that me and my wife have two different sleeping patterns. My wife likes to sleep in late and decades of work tuned me into getting up a couple of hours before the Sun. So I make an extra effort at being quite so my wife can sleep. To make this even more challenging, I'm mostly deaf and I live in my bed, so getting up and going to another room is generally not an option. So I tend to lean towards the quieter modes like CW and digital modes there I can wear head phones. Typically we still have to put up with the sound of a fan keeping the finals cool on the radio and of course the ever present clacking of the relays. Well the sBITX has neither of those. Operation is really quite. You can hear the electricity flowing during transmit but that isn't really loud enough to be a bother. I was having a problem with SWR. The radio would dial down the power to one or two watts, the SWR was being displayed at 25:1 and higher. Every time I would transmit the computer monitor that I was using for a display for the sBITX would shut off. It was driving me crazy. The antenna kept measuring a perfect 1:1 SWR. After several days of looking for the problem (Remember because of my health I could search for just a little bit at a time so what would take a healthy person a few hours took me days) and I finally found the problem as being a loose coax connector. Once I got that tightened up, the sBITX has proved to be better than I even dreamed that it would be. I use a 15" computer monitor instead of the 7" touch screen display. The reason for this is entirely because of my eyesight and has nothing to do with the radio. I'm due for some new eye windows so that problem should go away. I have been mostly on FT8 and I'm not used to having such an awesome waterfall display. I still have a lot to learn about this awesome radio and I bet I'm going to be enjoying the learning process. You can go ahead and view the sBITX as the new radio on the street. To me it the ONLY radio on the street. I plan on pushing this radio to the limit and I'm sure even at a proper QRP level of 5 watts the sBITX is going to make my logbook fatter than my stack of bills. 

Over this winter I plan on having a few more surgeries to get some of my back problems ironed out. I plan on healing up in time for spring. The plan is for me to be able to start riding my recumbent trike again. Since I was last active on my trike Midwest City has built many new miles of bike trails and even a new city park. With the small size of the sBITX V3, I will be able to put it in my trikes saddle bags with a battery and some wire and go back to operating portable. Permanently mounted on my trike is a 23' telescoping fishing pole that is perfect at supporting a wire antenna. I recently was able to get a second matching fishing pole so expect me to add that to the trike to expand my options. I have already added a HT and a small dual band mag mount antenna. This is to let me talk to my friends while riding the trike. Also in the past I would go out and ride and hurt my back or have my blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels and would require someone to come and help me out or bring me to home or the hospital. On my trike I wear a small head set so I only need to press a single button to operate the HT and get into the repeater. I'm lucky that my mother in law and daughter have their radio license and I have many wonderful friends that monitor the repeater just in case for me. 

I plan on sharing my sBITX exploits here on this blog. I have many plans for it in the future. My brother recently moved into a house that is just yards from a state parks that will need to be activated. I have family that live on SOTA Summits that need to be activated. I can't wait to work the world with this little radio, its gonna be fun. So as always, feel free to share any comments or ask any questions in the comments section below. You can be notified of my adventure and any future blog posts simply by subscribing. Please email me (I get lonely) at Aaron@K5ATG.com

Until Next Time 
Aaron K5ATG

25 December 2023

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas from the K5ATG Amateur Radio Station in Oklahoma City to each and every one of you through out the world. May the Lord bless all of you. 


Aaron K5ATG

03 July 2024 Ride

  Went on a really short ride this morning. I intended on riding farther but my back started feeling wonky so I decided to come home while I...