Technical Blog

ham radio coverLearn how to build projects for the ham shack or about new technology in Ham Radio. Posting of articles requires a user login ID with publishing rights.  Send an email to the WEB admin to request publishing rights for your account.




Hex-beam Antenna 5 Bands


The Hex-Beam wire antenna is a light-weight beam antenna.  It has directivity and gain.


There are several YouTube videos and web sites to learn from.  Check out for DIY step-by-step instructions on building.

Quadcopters And Ham Radio


Check out your beam on a 100 foot tower with a quadcopter.  Sure beats climbing the tower every time.  Take a look at a Ham Nation episode where a quadcopter flies over Bob Heil’s QTH in Pleasant Hope, Missouri.


If you’re interested in getting into quadcopters for the first time, take a look at “Top 5 Affordable Quadcopter Kits for Newbies” at


FAA’s Recreational Drone Registration Struck Down in Court

Kit Builder Gary Auchard

Kitbuilder Gary Auchard W0MNA presents at SFTARC Tech Night - 4/21/2017

Gary and Martha Auchard are involved in many amateur radio clubs and projects in the Kansas City and surrounding area.  Gary and Martha are involved in the Kickapoo, KCDX and 4SQRP clubs and maybe others.

Gary has a profile on that includes "I've been interested in ham radio since I was 10 years old and that was over a half century ago. The interest was sparked by a local ham that lived just two blocks down the road. On a Sunday morning his voice came blasting in over a 6 transistor AM radio I was not supposed to be playing with. I knew who he had to be but meeting him when I was only 10 years old was a bit daunting. I finally managed one day to get my kite tangled up in his beam antenna and had to ask for help so I knocked on his door and he just laughed, got his climbing belt out of the basement and climbed up to free my kite which survived pretty well.

He proceeded to show me his ham station and I was really hooked then. He eventually became my mentor and I became a ham a few years later.

My interests are QRP operation, building kits, building antennas and anything that looks like it might be fun to play with in the areas of ham radio. In the many years I've been a ham I've played with almost every area of ham radio but there's always a new one coming along so I keep interested. I love going to ham radio swapfests and have been to the Dayton Hamvention every year since starting in 1990.

My XYL (Martha) is also a ham and her call sign is W0ERI. Together we enjoy traveling, flying hot air balloons, bluegrass music, model railroading and astronomy, hiking plus numerous other hobbies. We're both retired now so we have plenty of time to do all of that and are really enjoying our retirement. We both retired after working 32 years each at the Xerox Corporation."

Martha also has a profile on that includes "I am a Volunteer Examiner for MOKAN VEC and ARRL VEC and taught license classes for Pilot Knob Amateur Radio Club in Leavenworth, Kansas, for almost 15 years. I spent the early years being net control of the Missouri Side-band Net and Mid-States Mobile Monitor. During my 31 years working for Xerox, I spent very little time on the air and what little I did was 2 meters. Now my husband, W0MNA and I are both into SOTA, Summits on the Air, and are having a blast."

Gary demo'd several kits that he has made over the years.  He always has an eye for taking the standard kit and making it better.  He has added a VFO with LCD display to a kit project which made it able to cover the entire 40 meter band for CW and then use a switch to widen the bandwidth of the audio signal and listen to SSB signals in the rest of the band.  The code to drive the LCD was done in an Arduino MCU which he is very familiar with and the Arduino MCU also controls the user interface to the Analog Devices Direct Digital Synthesizer chip which creates the frequency for the radio to tune across the 40 meter band.  The LCD shows the frequency in detail down to Hertz but he also added a neat feature to show the user what segment of the band the current frequency is located (Tech, General or Extra) which I haven't seen from other kit builders.  

Gary also has a knack for making boxes for his kits from PCB board material.  He carefully cuts the boards so that they fit together nicely as a box and provide for a shielded box at the same time.

Gary is always digging around under the tables at Hamfests for gently used plastic boxes, wire harnesses from old computers or anything else that can have a second life in one of his projects.

Gary and Martha have used the years of working for Xerox to add to the enjoyment of ham radio.  Plus the mentoring of students in classes for their license over the years will be appreciated by all for a long time.

Many thanks to Gary and Martha for a fine presentation and sharing of their knowledge.

March Tech Night - Will Jordain from ICOM

March 17, 2017 - SFTARC Tech Night hosted Will Jourdain from Icom via Skype. Will talked about the radios that Icom is bringing out over the next several months. Icom is releasing a wideband receiver called the IC-R8600 that uses SDR technology to receive signals from 10 KHz to 3 GHz. It can decode many of the digital modes like D-STAR, NXDN, dPMR and APCO P25. The unit uses FPGA and DSP architecture to get the signal in the digital domain early in the signal chain which helped achieve its high performance. I/Q signals will be available so that third party SDR software can be used.

Will also talked about the IC-7851 HF/50MHz transceiver.  The IC-7851 has been reviewed in QST and is getting great reviews on its performance.  It makes use of the LCD and touch screen to make a lot of the menu items easily available to the user. The USB connector makes interfacing to a PC easy and there is an Ethernet jack for network connection.

Will also discussed the rest of the HF line of transceivers.