A Woman’s Prerogative

June 19, 2016 3 comments

I was originally going to archive this blog and made an announcement that it would not be updated any longer. Then I changed my mind. I am sorry to say that many of the older posts have lost YouTube content due to me deleting my YouTube account. I could not bear to see myself, such is the nature of gender disphoria.

I have now decided that this blog should become my own again. I changed the  name of the blog to match my new callsign. There is not much I can do to change the old posts to match my affirmed gender nor my new name.

I have moved from acreage in a regional city to a one bedroom apartment in Australia’s largest city. My partner and I lost our business, almost all of our possessions and personal wealth due to my depression, anxiety and panic attacks due to gender disphoria. My new location, housing arrangements and budget mean that I will not have the impressive station that I once had. I will have to find new ways to operate and new interests within amateur radio.

For those of you still interested in what I post, thank you.


Kimberly Olsen VK2KMI/VK4KIM ex VK4MDX




False Accusations

June 30, 2018 Comments off

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 09.09.16

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 09.32.58

There are a number of people who will vouch for not only my operating professionalism but also my integrity.

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Getting Started, RaspberryPi, APRS, Xastir Part 2

April 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Let’s get our geek on girls.

So you got your RaspberryPi, you installed the OS from your NOOBS SD card or manually, as per Part 1, now what? Well there are lots of great things you can do, but I’m going to help you set up APRS.

You will need

RaspberryPi with operating system installed.

Keyboard and mouse and HDMI screen and HDMI cable

A Terminal Node Controller such as  TNCPi, or a radio with a build in TNC, like the Kenwood TM-D700 series and a suitable cable to connect your TNC to the pi if the TNC is not an add on board, commonly referred to as a hat.

APRS, variously known by a few names is an Automatic Packet Reporting System, commonly used to show locations of objects and for messaging, typically on VHF and UHF but also HF. You can see APRS in action by entering the name of your city into the search box at www.aprs.fi. You can adjust the time span to see movement of the various objects over a span of time. Below is my city of Sydney (VK2) for the previous 24 hours. That moving house is a worry 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 08.55.30.png

APRS can also be used to show and share weather at your location by integrating your APRS with your weather station should you have one. I will explore that topic later.

Here is my weather station on APRS

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 08.59.24.png

So let’s get started

Your raspberryPi is turned on, connected to mouse, keyboard and an HDMI screen.

Open up the terminal, remember it is the black icon >_ or use the keystrokes mentioned in Part 1 Cntrl-Alt-T.

Into terminal type the following, one line at a time- ignore lines preceded with #, these are my comments

# You should always update before installing new software

sudo apt-get update

# install the xastir package
# hit ‘Y’ when prompted – it installs lots of dependencies
# so will take some time

sudo apt-get install xastir

# now start X-windows if you’re not already in the graphic user interface


Once you have xastir installed and X running, you will find xastir listed under internet on the newer versions of the OS– alternatively open up a terminal window and start the program by typing xastir.

You will be prompted for your callsign and location etc. – this is fairly self explanatory but the xastir website will be able to help. One thing I will say is that the first thing you’re likely to want is a better map – go Map > Map Chooser, select the four Online/OSM_cloudmade_3.geo maps for Open Streetmap, and deselct the default worldhi.map. It will take a bit of time for the maps to be downloaded but they’re very good. You will also need to know your latitude and longitude in degrees and decimal minutes not degrees minutes and seconds or have a GPS connected as well (more on that later). You can find your lat/lon on Google maps with a right click on your location. You can convert to various d,m,s decimal degrees etc at many conversion sites like https://www.directionsmag.com/site/latlong-converter/

Connecting a Terminal Node Controller (TNC) 

There are many TNCs available but I use a Kenwood TM-D700. It and the D710 have a built in TNC. Follow the radio manual instructions and set the TNC to serial, not KISS.

If you are using another TNC, follow the instructions to connect it to the Pi and to set it to serial TNC mode.

We will explore other TNCs in Part 3.

For those TNCs connected by USB, you will need a cable to connect to the USB port on the Pi. You will definitely need a special programming/serial cable to connect your D700 series radio. Don’t fool around with serial USB converters they will not work, Use this cable if you have a D700 series radio. It is the only one that I have found that works with the Kenwood radios

So let’s get data coming in from our TNC.

First connect your cable to both TNC and Pi. Find the USB port that it is connected to with this command in terminal

dmesg | grep tty

#That | key is hard to find on some keyboards.
#On my Apple keyboard it is on the far right and requires shift. :-).

You should see something like this

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 09.33.49

Note the second last line – My FTDI cable is ttyUSB0, yours may be different.

Now go to Xastir  Interface > Interface Control and click ‘Add’. Select ‘Serial TNC’, set /dev/ttyUSB0 as the port or whatever you found yours was with the dmesg command, change the baud rate to 9600 and leave the rest as default for now, although you might want to change tnc-startup.sys for one matching your TNC from the list in /usr/share/xastir/config. Mine is tnc-startupD700.sys

Click ‘OK’ and hopefully, you’ll be able to select your new interface and start it – ‘DOWN’ will change to ‘UP.

For debugging, View > Incoming Data provides some very useful insight into data flowing to and from the TNC or other interfaces.

If you want to receive data from the Internet, add an ‘Internet Server’ interface. You’ll need to get a passcode to match your callsign (google APRS passcode generator for clues,) and find your most convenient aprs host and port. Again, the ‘Incoming Data’ window can help with debugging. My aprs server is first.aprs.net.au. Take a look here for yours http://www.aprs-is.net/aprsservers.aspx

At this point, consult existing XASTIR resources to refine your configuration. Good luck!

Categories: Uncategorized

Getting Started RaspberryPi, APRS, Xastir Part 1

April 13, 2018 2 comments

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 08.42.03.png

This blog post is intended for hams beginning with RaspberryPi, who want a great ham radio project. It was initiated by a query on the YL Op Net a women’s only net that happens 0000 utc Fridays on the ALARA Conference Server.

The first thing you need to do is get yourself a Raspberrypi. If you are brand new to RaspberryPI you may wish to buy all of the bits and pieces you need straight up as that is often the cheapest option, unless you have some stuff laying around, like keyboards and mouse and HDMI monitor or TV. There are some great complete kits on eBay and elsewhere.

While you are at it, why not get the preinstalled operating system on an SD card and save yourself the process of setting up your own SD card. This is a good idea until you get more familiar with the pi. Otherwise you need SD card formatting software and a range of other tools and a fast SD card. The RaspberryPi 3 uses micro SD whereas the earlier models use normal SD cards. The prepackaged OS install is called NOOBS. If you want to go it alone, try this resource for a how to


To get started with RaspberryPi, one of the best things you can do is find a likeminded group of people either physically located near you or via social media. Most RaspberryPi’s are initially setup to run a Linux operating system called Raspian. If you have not ever used command line interface or Linux before, it will be very useful to have some help on hand, as it can be daunting initially. The new operating system on the RaspberryPi has a great Graphic User Interface (GUI) but because of the inability to log in as root and for other reasons of convenience, you will do most to your work in the command line. Command line looks like this-

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 08.11.05

The above is a great example because one of the first commands you will need to know is sudo. Think of it as “superuser do.” When you log in to a pi as you can see from the above image, you are logged in as pi. eg. pi@raspberrypi. Now the user named pi is not a superuser, not an administrator, probably so we can’t mess things up too much. So if you want to do something like install or remove software or update the system, you have to tell the pi that you wish to do that as a superuser, hence sudo. You will quickly get used to preceding most commands with sudo.

Plug your keyboard and mouse and HDMI cable connected to a screen in and turn the screen on- you can use a television. Put the SD card in the pi and connect the power. There is no on/off switch. I am going to assume you have access to a HDMI cable and a monitor, otherwise you have to run the pi headless which I will describe later. When you get your pi and start it up, if you are using the latest version of the operating system, it will load the GUI. Do not connect power hungry devices to the USB- you will need a powered hub if you do.

You will need to access the command line interface, which you do by opening  the terminal. Click on the black icon with this symbol >_ in the top menu bar or type Ctr+Alt+T.  The very first thing you need to do before you do anything else is update and upgrade the software that is installed. So you will get to use the command line straight up. Later on when you are running headless, you could  copy and paste  from this blog and save some time, but for now, just type the following commands

sudo apt-get update

Then wait for the pi to complete the tasks and select y or yes if asked.  Then type

sudo apt-get upgrade

This one will take quite a bit longer to run and will require interaction.

Now you should be ready to get started with installing Xastir. Bear in mind that this blog will describe using Xastir connected to a Kenwood TM-D700 which has a built in Terminal Node Controller, (TNC) If your radio does not have a built in TNC, you will need to get one. There are a few made especially for the RaspberryPi, like this one.









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Inspirational YLs

February 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Are you looking for ways to inspire young women to be involved in science and amateur radio? These inspirational women may be the answer.

Female Space Hams



Tamara E. Jernigan (USA) formerly KC5MGF. Jernigan attended Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs, CA. She graduated in 1977. Jernigan attended Stanford University, where she earned a B.S. degree in physics in 1981, an M.S. in engineering science in 1983. At the University of California, Berkeley, she received an M.S. in astronomy in 1985. In 1988 she was awarded a Ph.D. in space physics and astronomy from Rice University.

She entered the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1986 and retired in 2001. Her first trip to space was on June 5, 1991.[1] She flew on five Space Shuttle program missions (three on Columbia and one each on Endeavour and Discovery) and logged 1512 hours in space. In her last mission on Discovery in 1999, she performed an extra-vehicular activity for 7 hours and 55 minutes.



Renata Luise Bruemer (Germany) DB5PL Studied mathematics and physics at the Munich University; Ph.D. in meteorology from University of Miami, Florida, 1986; research scientist at University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado; was selected as backup for STS-55 (D-2 mission).



Born in West Point, New York, Yvonne Cagle (USA) formerly KC5ZSV graduated from Novato High School in Novato, California. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from San Francisco State University in 1981, and a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Washington in 1985. She completed a transitional internship at Highland General Hospital in Oakland, California in 1985 and received a certificate in Aerospace Medicine from the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, in 1988. She then went on to complete a residency in family practice at Ghent FP at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1992 and received certification as a senior aviation medical examiner from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1995.

Cagle retired from the United States Air Force with the rank of Colonel in 2008. As a commissioned medical officer in the USAF Cagle served as Air Force Medical Liaison Officer for STS-30, before she became a NASA astronaut. She worked as medical doctor at NASA’s Occupational Health Clinic from 1994 to 1996. In 1996 she was selected for astronaut training by NASA.

Yvonne Cagle was a member of the Astronaut Class of 1996 (NASA Astronaut Group 16). She is currently assigned to Johnson Space Center’s Space and Life Sciences Directorate.

Dr. Cagle is also an advisor for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program (originally named CRuSR – Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program). Currently Dr. Cagle is on faculty and serves as the NASA liaison for exploration and space development with Singularity University. During the workshop, Dr. Cagle was embedded with the crew as a crew training consultant and advisor, providing insights and feedback to both crew and study team from the viewpoint of an astronaut, flight surgeon, space development expert, and science liaison.

She has recently been selected reserve crew for Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), which is part of a study for NASA to determine the best way to keep astronauts well nourished during multiple-year missions to Mars or the moon. Furthermore, Dr. Cagle is also listed as an honorary member of the Danish Astronautical Society.



Tracy Caldwell Dyson (USA) KF5DBF  born Tracy Ellen Caldwell; August 14, 1969 is an American chemist and NASA astronaut. Caldwell Dyson was a Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-118 in August 2007. She was part of the Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station between April 4, 2010 and September 25, 2010. She has completed three spacewalks, logging more than 22 hrs of EVA including work to replace a malfunctioning coolant pump.

As an undergraduate researcher at the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), Caldwell Dyson designed, constructed and implemented electronics and hardware associated with a laser-ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometer for studying atmospherically relevant gas-phase chemistry.

Also at CSUF, she worked for the Research and Instructional Safety Office as a lab assistant performing environmental monitoring of laboratories using hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials, as well as calibrating survey instruments and helping to process chemical and radioactive waste. During that time (and for many years prior) she also worked as an electrician/inside wireman for her father’s electrical contracting company doing commercial and light industrial type construction.

At the University of California, Davis, Caldwell Dyson taught general chemistry laboratory and began her graduate research. Her dissertation work focused on investigating molecular-level surface reactivity and kinetics of metal surfaces using electron spectroscopylaser desorption, and Fourier transform mass spectrometry techniques. She also designed and built peripheral components for a variable temperature, ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy system.

In 1997, Caldwell Dyson received the Camille and Henry Drefus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Science to study atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. There she investigated reactivity and kinetics of atmospherically relevant systems using atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry, Fourier transform infrared and ultraviolet absorption spectroscopies. In addition, she developed methods of chemical ionization for spectral interpretation of trace compounds. Caldwell Dyson has published and presented her work in numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals.

Selected by NASA in June 1998, Caldwell Dyson reported for training in August 1998. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems, physiological training, ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. Completion of this training and evaluation qualified her for flight assignment as a mission specialist.

In 1999, Caldwell Dyson was assigned to the Astronaut Office ISS Operations Branch as a Russian Crusader, participating in the testing and integration of Russian hardware and software products developed for ISS. In 2000, she was assigned prime Crew Support Astronaut for the ISS Expedition 5 crew, serving as their representative on technical and operational issues throughout the training and on-orbit phase of their mission.

During ISS Expeditions 4 through 6, Caldwell Dyson also served as an ISS spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) inside Mission Control. In 2003, she made a transition to the Astronaut Shuttle Operations Branch and was assigned to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and also worked supporting launch and landing operations at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Caldwell Dyson also served as Lead CAPCOM for Expedition 11.

Caldwell Dyson was assigned to, and later flew on STS-118, Space Shuttle Endeavour, on August 8–21, 2007, which was the 119th space shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station, and the 20th flight for Endeavour. Caldwell Dyson was assigned as Mission Specialist #1 on this flight. During the mission Endeavour’s crew successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. A new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully. A total of four spacewalks (EVAs) were performed by three crew members. Endeavour carried some 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the station and returned to Earth with some 4,000 pounds of hardware and no longer needed equipment. Traveling 5.3 million miles in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds. Finally, during the flight of STS-118, Caldwell Dyson celebrated her 38th birthday in space.

On April 4, 2010, Caldwell Dyson joined the Expedition 23 crew aboard ISS. She lifted off on April 2, 2010 from the Baikonur spaceport aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule (Soyuz TMA-18). After 176 days duty as part of the Expedition 24 crew, she returned to Earth with the Soyuz TMA-18 landing unit. Together with commander Aleksandr Skvortsov and flight engineer Mikhail Korniyenko, Dyson landed in Kazakhstan on September 25, 2010.

In a television interview on the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, she said she is the first astronaut who was born after Apollo 11.

As Tracy Dyson, she is the host of a series on NASA TV called “StationLife”, which focuses on facets of life aboard the International Space Station.

She appeared on Episode 3 of MasterChef Junior Season 4.

On March 21, 2017, Dyson stood behind President Trump as he signed a bill for NASA to send humans to Mars in 2030s and receive $19.5 billion in 2018 funding. Dyson and fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy presented Trump with an official flight jacket during the ceremony.


You can read about many more inspiring female astronauts who were hams at the following links

























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KRK VXT6 Repair

February 6, 2018 2 comments

Some time ago I picked up a powered studio monitor for about $20. The music store was closing down and the speaker had a fault- the tweeter wasn’t working. These studio monitors of this size range in price from about $200 to $400, so I couldn’t pass up the deal, as I was sure I could repair it – one day.

That day finally arrived. I had purchased a spare tweeter which had sat in the parcel unopened for some time. When I unpacked it, you guessed it, it was the wrong part. Given that it had come from the US, the return postage added way too much to the cost of repair, so I decided to repair the existing tweeter.


There isn’t much to a permanent magnet tweeter, basically the only electrical component in it is a super-fine winding of copper. This usually fails to due physical stress or sometimes an over-voltage or over-current fault. All that is required is to solder the broken wire- easy right? Well the wire is quite a bit thinner than a human hair and enamelled and wound very tightly into a place that is difficult to get to. You got the picture?


The good story is that after one repair, a subsequent failure and another repair, the speaker works great


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Breville 330J Restoration Part 1

January 29, 2018 Leave a comment

I picked up this Australian built radio some time ago. It has sat in a carton in my storage for some time. When restoring Dad’s 1935 Ultimate I wondered if I could get some donor parts from this radio, but when I took a look at the condition of the electronics, I decided to restore it. The electronics are in amazing condition. The radio was produced in the late 1940s, possibly 1948.


I removed the chassis from the wooden case and due to the excellent condition, decided to fire it up without replacing the capacitors. I ran it up on a variac and it came to life, with very low audio. The valve line up according to the markings on the chassis is 5Y3G rectifier, 6J8G Osc/Mixer, 6U3G IF Amp and 6G8G AGC, El3G Audio Amp

5Y3G rectifier socket.

27332373_1840902999293981_817692224466341981_nIF Amp- Actually says 6U3G now that I see the photo
6G8G or 6B8G RF Amp and AGC

EL3G Audio amp

The schematic I have shows a slightly different line up and initially it caused me to be confused. I had confused the audio amp with the mixer. The EL3G that is supposed to be in this set is similar in code to the EK2G on the schematic, but anyway I have now sorted it out.

The EL3G is made of unobtainium so someone had inserted a 6F6G which is much lower gain- this would explain the weak audio. So what I need to do is change the EL3G for a 6V6G and change the bias resistor to reduce current draw. I can test to ensure the control grid voltage is around -12V and all should be good.  Unfortunately audiophiles have pushed the prices of 6V6Gs, for their trendy valve stereos, through the roof…. more soon.

Categories: Vintage Radio

My Dad’s 1935 Ultimate Receiver – Part 2

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

I returned home to Northern QLD, some 2200 kilometres from where I now live in Sydney, for Christmas 2017. I was working, house sitting and dog sitting, which gave me plenty of time in the evenings and weekends to repair Dad’s radio. Unfortunately some late  received communication meant that I failed to bring my test equipment and tools, so I shipped the radio to Sydney via Greyhound, to be picked up on my return.

Fortunately the radio was unscathed by the bus trip and was promptly placed on my workbench for the investigations to begin. It became immediately clear, that the capacitor I had failed to change had destroyed itself in rather spectacular and gooey fashion and taken out a few other components as it went. An inspection revealed a failed 2A7 mixer and the 57 valve (vacuum tube) had a loose glass envelope. I suspected other damage but could see none.

I replaced the capacitor and ordered replacement valves (tubes). When the tubes arrived I replaced the defective ones, and the rectifier just for kicks. I turned the radio on, the lights glowed, the valves glowed but no sound. hmmmmm. A quick check of voltages found nothing out of the ordinary as far as the mixer and audio amp were concerned.

This made me suspicious that I had an open speaker field coil. A failed coil, either field or in primary, was confirmed by removing the audio amp with the radio on- no click from the speaker. So some further digging around is required…. more in Part 3.

Categories: Vintage Radio