The Observations of an Urban Ham
Welcome to my web page. My name is Jose B. Rivera and I am Amateur Radio Operator licensed as call sign N2LRB. I have been a ham since 1991. Being an Amateur Radio Operator is great fun. And best of all you get to meet and speak to the most wonderful people in all the world.
Ok, what is there to see on this site? If you look to your left you will see links to articles I have written. The more recent ones are below this text. The navigation section on the left also has links to local repeater websites, great ham organization and individual ham websites/blogs.
Below that are events you may be interested in attending. Toward the top of all our pages is another navigation bar and one of the links is my photo pages. In my photos section of the site you will see my exploits with different antenna throughout the years and what I have had to do to get and stay on the air. New York City is not an easy place to work HF, but it can be done. Let me know what you think.
On August 5, 2018 I decided to try out my old Tarheel 100A vertical antenna inside my bedroom. So far I had been using Magnetic Loop and Wolf River Coil antennas inside my bedroom. They worked ok. But I found that the vertical slightly out performed my magnetic loops. The Wolf River coils were great, but I did have to adjust the coil when changing different bands. I also liked that the Wolf River Coil allowed me to tune the antenna, let’s say, for 20 meters and that I could work the hold band without adjusting the antenna. My magnetic loop antennas tune to a part of any band and must be re-tuned when moving up or down the band.Read Story
July 14, 2018 - I have now lived in this great new apartments (new to us) for just three months. In that time I have slowly begun to gear back up ham radio activity wise. At first, it was hard because moving has a way of tiring one out. I could get on the air, as I did on the day I got the keys to the apartment. But experimentation and projects I had on hold, are just that, on hold. I don’t have the energy to start new things,Read Story
FT8 Digital Mode
It has been just a couple of months since the digital mode FT8 has come out. And boy has it been a hit with amateur radio operators. Though I do not share their enthusiasm or their belief that they are actually doing any communicating (conversations) with FT8. Yes, I can hear people say the same thing they always say when a new mode is rejected. That spark gap people looked down on CW, that 2M SSB looked down on FM repeaters, etc….. But some things are not ham radio.Read Story
Magnetic Loop Antennas
April 23, 2017 - It’s been a year now since I started learning about and then begin to build my magnetic loop antennas. Magnetic Loop Antennas are excellent radiators given their size. They are made with the following elements. Instead of a vertical or horizontal radiator, you have a large loop which connects to a variable capacitor. The loop does not provide the energy for the antenna. A small loop 20% of the length of the large loop is what powers the antenna.Read Story
SDR Play RSP1
January 7, 2017 - Lately I have been very excited and happy to use my SDRPlay receivers. I say receivers because I asked for and received another one for Christmas. I want to be able to use one for VHF/UHF and the other for HF. The units are not expensive, about $125 when they are on sale and $150 when they are not. They can be gotten from Ham Radio Outlet and received the very next day.Read Story
Easy Come..Easy Go
December 13, 2016. Its a funny thing about Amateur Radio. One day you totally love that radio and the next day you’ve shipped it off in a trade for a better one. That is exactly what I did with my Icom-7300 and my Flex Radio 1500. The people at Flex Radio made a trade up offer on Facebook. The great thing about this offer is that you could trade in any radio you have for a Flex Radio. There was also some money involved, well unless you traded in a very expensive radio.
So I spoke to Matt on the Flex Live Chat and he gave me some basic information about how much Flex would give me for my IC-7300 (it was a very good offer) and how much money to make up the cost of the used (pre-owned) Flex 6300.Read Story
IC-7300 SDR Greatness!
June 18, 2016 - It is a funny how one can become enamored by a radio, going from not liking it to loving it. This is what happened to me with the Icom IC-7300. When I first heard about the radio there was not much information given about it. All one saw were photos and the bands it worked. And I have grown immune to company ads which tell how great a radio is. Besides, I was busy buying my IC-9100. Some time last month I thought to sell all of my HF radios, except for the new IC9100 and then use my KX3 as a base station at home.Read Story
May 11, 2016 - After much toil and trouble obtaining the Icom IC-9100 from UPS I finally had the rig in hand. I walked the 35 lbs box home using my hand truck. And I heft the heavy load up a few flights of stairs to my apartment. It was happy that the delivery ordeal was over. Once home, made an unboxing video while opening the boxs (box within a box). I do this so that others can enjoy the unboxing and to hopefully protect against some unseen damage which may have occurred. That way the ham radio dealer can see that the product arrived damaged or broken.Read Story
Icom IC-9100 Troubled Deliveries
May 11, 2016. I recently purchased an Icom IC-9100 for use on 2 meters and on 70cm SSB. I will use the radio on FM, but I highly prefer the SSB mode on all my bands, HF, VHF and UHF. Lately it seems that any radio I purchase in May becomes an exercise in frustration. Last year, I purchased my Elecraft KX3 radio and wouldn’t you know it. The City of New York chose to fix a pipe in front of my building and close off the whole street! blocking any UPS deliveries. I thought UPS would return the radio!Read Story
Magnetic Loop Antennas
April 10, 2016 - For the post few weekends I have been teaching myself and creating Magnetic Loop Antennas. I started thinking about magloops as they are called when looking for an alternative to tall, lengthy verticals for both indoor and mostly outdoor use. I figure that a magloop might be a less imposing an antenna, given it’s short vertical height, than a quarter wave vertical. Especially when out in public spaces, like Central Park.Read Story
February 21, 2016 - Earlier this month I purchased and received the Elecraft KXPA100 Amplifier Kit. The kits cost less because one has to put it together. This was a little scary, but I decided that I could at least try to build the unit and hope that I did not break it in doing so. The unit came in one big box with smaller boxes inside of it.Read Story
Getting Ready for Next Spring
December 27, 2015 - The weather is about to get pretty cold which makes using my radio(s) out of door a bad proposition. Though I might try going to Central Park one of these cold winter’s days. Meanwhile this is a great time to plan for next year’s out of door outings. To build go boxes so that all I have to do is add equipment to the go box, put it on a wagon and wheel it to my locations.Read Story
August 10, 2015 - It has not been a few months (since May 15th) that I have been using my Elecraft KX3 both at home in my ham shack and out in the field. My initial attempts at making contacts with the radio were very encouraging. I made at least one contact each time I tried. I attribute this to good band conditions. But even with good band conditions, some loud/strong stations did not hear me.Read Story
My Elecraft KX3!
May 26, 2015 - A few days after purchasing Yaesu FT-897D in November, I fell in love with the Elecraft KX3. I have been seeing it around for the past few years and did not like it’s QRP features at first. But every time I saw the radio, it put me more and more under its spell. I decided that it would be my next radio. But it took awhile for me to pull the trigger on the purchase.Read Story
May 26, 2015 - This past April I took the plunge and tried my hand at working some of the digital modes on HF and VHF. But first I had to purchase an external sound card like device that would work with one of my HF radios. I found that the SignLink USB the best priced option. When ordering the device on the phone I found that the pin set up would be the same for all of my Yaesu Radios, my FT-950, FT-857D, FT-897D. So I could use it with either. I only purchased one cable so I will have to move that cable from rig to rig if I want to use one of the other radios.Read Story
2 Meter Whip Dipole Antenna
February 8, 2015 - My quest to make a reliable 2 Meter dipole antenna for use on 144.200mhz on single sideband took a few month. I purchased wire versions of a two meter dipole from Falcon Antenna on Amazon in May of 2014. The antennas are come with a center connector piece which has an SO-239. At first this antenna seemed too long, so I shorten it, but then mended the pieces back together.Read Story
January 2015 VHF Contest
January 24, 2015 - East Harlem, NY. I prepared my 2 meter and 70cm loop antennas for use during today’s VHF contest. Both are tuned to Single Side Band. And no I don’t do FM during this type of contest, but am willing to do AM as it reminds me of my Citizen’s Band radio days.
I counted down the time until 1900 UTC and then got to working the 2 meter band. I had already been talking to N2FKF before the appointed hour and so I made an official contact with him and a few others.Read Story
Limitations of Going Stealth
October 10, 2014 - Having to go stealth is a positive thing in that you did not give up trying to get on the air. Like a muscle, coming up with ways to be on the airwaves, improve one’s signal all while going undetected, strengthens one’s knowledge and ability to stay on the air. But going stealth is a compromise. A compromise that might slightly or severely limited your ability to ‘get out’. Here are some of the limitations you might have to accept until you buy your own parcel of land.Read Story
The Hows & Whys of Stealth Radio
Why Go Stealth? April 12, 2014 - There are many reasons to go stealth: You Have No Choice due to restrictions where you live
You Choose To Work Under Cover To Avoid Others Knowing you are a ham and its associated possible problems
Its Fun Yo Get Away Without Them Knowing
Even though restrictions are a pain it can be fun! It’s fun and rewarding to operating without ‘them’ knowing. A real ham never gives up and preservers. Besides why allow a non-technical person keep you from enjoying the rewards of your hard earned Federally Licensed radio privileges? Seem unfair doesn’t it. Yet there is a national interest in having an Amateur Radio community that can provided communications during an emergency.Read Story
Building a Tri-Band Dipole
June 18, 2013 - This is a short article of my building a tri-band dipole in March of 2007. After trying out a dipole on 20 meters I decided to construct a tri-band dipole made up of three dipole into a single feed line. I wanted the dipole to work on 20, 17 and 6 meters. I purchased the following items.
VHF UHF Radio Go Bag
May 8, 2013 - After my initial test using a Pelican 1440 case as a VHF/UHF Radio Go Box, I began looking for an alternate way to transport my radio equipment. The Pelican case is strong and sturdy, but its small wheels and New York City sidewalks caused too much vibration, jostling to my radio equipment. I began to think that anything with wheels out of the question. The only alternative left (other than taking a NYC Taxi) was to carry my equipment, either on my back (backpack) or on my side (strong bag or container).Read Story
VHF UHF Radio Go Box Part II
May 5, 2013. The weather was brisk and cold and I was the radio communicator for the 5 Boro Bike Tour. It was time to officially field test my VHF/UHF Radio Go Box. I prepared the night before by gathering all the equipment needed for the event. Mentally checking off the equipment as I assessed its being needed for communications for the Bike Tour. I also tried to eliminated items that would have been nice to have, but which would have added weight to the Go Box.Read Story
VHF UHF Radio Go Box Part I
April 26, 2013 - After putting an HF Radio Go Box utilizing a Pelican 1440NF case, I decided to create a VHF/UHF version. I figured that this new VHF/UHF version would be easier to build and a lot easier to use. But the go box was slightly harder to create and using it had its own set of problems.
HF Radio Go Box Part I
April 7, 2013 The Radio Go Box bug hit me this month and I decided to put an HF version together. A Go Box is a complete, self-sustained radio station in a box. In this case, it is for Amateur Radio. I had a few considerations going into this projects.
2 Meter Sideband
August 23, 2012 - East Harlem, NY - Recently I decided to check in on any possible 2 meter sideband activity using my Yaesu FT-857D multi-band multi-mode radio. I was surprised to not only find some activity, but a lot of activity. Well, more than there use to be anyway. Every thought of trying out 2 meter sideband? If so, keep reading to learn just a little more of what it is all about.
Problem With Field Day
August 22, 2012 - East Harlem, NY - For decades amateur radio operators have held a yearly Field Day where they take their radios out of their homes or cars and operate them out in the field, either on or off the electrical grid. Some hams get together as groups of individuals, but most work through a radio club. But Field Day has one major flaw when it comes to the public.Read Story
August 18, 2012 - East Harlem, New York. Lately the portable bug has hit me hard. Just the thought of taking some of my radio equipment out for a ‘walk’ gets me excited. I guess that the challenge of working off the grid and actually making contacts on the air gets me all excited. Part of this magic time is thinking through what equipment to take and where to take it.Read Story
Echolink Is Not Radio
November 5, 2010 - In late 2005 I returned to Amateur Radio after a 9 year absence. I found that the radio equipment has gotten better and grown smaller. HTs packed more features in a smaller package and the cost had not gone up too much. But I also came across the concept of Echolink.Read Story