Shipping Lithium batteries

•December 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

After buying lithium cells for years from Battery Junction, Tenergy, and others, in Dec 2017,  Battery Junction will not ship batteries to Hawaii because their carriers all use air freight.

Today I ordered 4 CF123A rechargeable cells from Green Batteries.  Green batteries worked with me to find a solution.  The USPS allows air shipment of two batteries per package.  Green Batteries sent four CR123A rechargeable lithium ion batteries in two small packages which arrived in a few days.

So the future of the lithium battery segment of the industry is to find surface shipment qualified for hazmat shipping.  Nimh may be a different story still.  The air travel restrictions apply only to lithium, but demonstrably safe packing measures – factory packing if possible, taped terminals, individual plastic bags or containers are the minimum requirement.  Boxed and sealed to avoid contact with any object prevents short circuits. Most important, they must be carried on and cannot be checked.

June 28, 2016

Lithium Ion Batteries: (a.k.a.: rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, secondary lithium). Passengers may carry all consumer-sized lithium ion batteries (up to 100 watt hours per battery). This size covers AA, AAA, cell phone, PDA, camera, camcorder, handheld game, tablet, portable drill, and standard laptop computer batteries. External chargers are also considered to be a battery. With airline approval, devices can contain larger lithium ion batteries (101-160 watt hours per battery), but spares of this size are limited to two batteries in carry-on baggage only.  … 

This criteria allows qualifies a 10 AH x 12V = 120 watt hours LiFePo4 battery for travel.  Two of these in parallel is 20 AH – the maximum allowed.

Carrying a small shipment of several lithium metal cells could be problematic.  This is where securing an online source is just better.


MFJ4125 25A Power Supply Fan Bearing Noise –

•November 23, 2017 • 1 Comment


D6-SH-12 Fan Making bearing noise, clicking, ticking. Thought it could even becoming from the radio audio.


Pulled the fan, removed sticker and pried out a plastic cap covering the bearing.  Have to pry it out gently – it’s a tight fit.  Couple drops of light bearing oil on the fan bearing.
Replaced plastic cap and sticker.
hardware : (8 x 3mm button head screws to remove the cover, use #2 phillips for screws and for the 4 x large self tapping fan screws)

Fan is no quieter but there’s no ticking noise.

2/4/18  rattle noise returned after 4 months.  Relubed.  It’s better but Pete grt is right of course.  The fan bearing is failing.



Noise Drop Nov 2017

•November 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

November 2017 – noticed a significant drop in raw noise level to from S9+5 or more to S5 on 40 meters.  That’s 40dB of noise drop!  The mfj-1026 noise canceling signal enhancer is still useful on 40m to audibly improve signal to noise reception

Example 40 meter settings -best day to day settings vary

  • PreAmp – out
  • Freq – in
  • Phase – out
  • Aux Gain – 10
  • Phase – 9.6
  • Main Gain – 3

Antenna: 40m dipole

updated 1/3/18.   80m end loading in effect in Nov 2017 has been discontinued as ineffective with little change in operating conditions.

Kenwood TS-590SG restarts

•October 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Status update: resolved
Last night the TS590sg started doing something wierd while I was doing FT-8.  On transmitting at high power levels, it would lose power and the start “Hello” screen would appear.

Apparently, loose Power Pole connection to the power supply.  Reseat, it seems to be working.

{ the longer story

At exactly the same time, there was a power spike/brownout which affected the whole house momentarily, but all devices stayed up, because the dropout was a fraction of a second.  However, the radio’s power supply (MFJ 4125P) is plugged into a SurgeSentry power box that instantly cut power to the rig.

The Internet “Online” link on the router also dropped.  This as it turns out was caused by the regional power glitch, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I was running a QRO full 100W transmit in FT8 at the time because of conditions of the ongoing QSO.

So I didn’t know whether the RF took out the Internet ( never happened before but if the finals blew, a local spike might have occurred ? ).  Later testing seemed to make it unlikely the finals were out, but the power loss was puzzling.

This is the difficulty of contra-indications and multiple stuff going on at the same time.

This AM AH6IO had suggested that it sounded like a power supply and suggested I try another.  I unplugged, came up on battery, and all worked.  Then I plugged back into the 4125P and all worked.

I think what happened was that I was also working on the HTX-100 which is wired for power poles.  Unplugging that loosened the PP connection on the radio, so a high power draw through the high resistance power pole caused the radio to power supply to drop momentarily and the power supply reset … I can’t explain the exact mechanism so in a way the event is still unsolved.

Looks OK now after reseating the power pole!


Nov 24 17- no recurrence of the problem.  Loose power pole.

SDR Issue- very wide LO signal on waterfall

•July 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment


LiFePO recharge note

•July 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

7/8/17 Recharged LiFePo after a days light usage on the TS590

Put the charger on a Kill-A-Watt to record the charge.  ~ 3.5 hrs .  Recorded .09 khw or 90 watt hrs.  The battery has a rated capacity of 128 wh so we depleted about 70% total charge with 30% left.


Resting open terminal battery voltage : 13.7    (down from about 14 just after charge)


FT-857D SSB and CW. ALC clipping/cutting power back on 40m, low power on 40m. Service-menu fix

•June 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Problems started 3 June17 with an unknown event  that caused the FT-857D to reset and lose menu settings including the service menu settings.  Probably occurred during mobile operation on HF.  This is a known issue with my radio.  The standard menu was restored with Chirp, and Service Menu settings 51 and 52 were restored to known good values from previous experience.

A month later two problems occurred:
Problem 1: ALC cutting back on 40m.  Initial tests seemed OK after reset but in the Waimea the  ALC was aggressive on 40M with intermittent power clipping / foldback.  ALC display showed sharp spikes.  When not clipping – good power reported at distant end of the AM net.  Status:  Fixed (menu 51 and 52)-
Problem 2:  Limited power – but only on 40m.  (Status: fixed with menu 28 set to 155)

STATUS:  The 7/17 baseline setting is working and stable  on 20m, 40m and 80m and produces good power without ALC clipping on SSB and CW.  CW was also affected by apparent ALC clipping .  CW also produces full power key down and so can be used for power / ALC testing.

To fix the problem, three service menu values resets were needed.  I used trial and error  while making notes to ensure I could return to a baseline state.     It is to be expected that the values I worked out for my radio may not necessarily work on another FT-857D.

Service Menu
To get to the service menu, hold down three buttons [A][B][C] and power on. To save changes, press  the [FUNCTION] key.  Power off to abandon changes.

(Unrelated side issue: I noticed at some point the radio would not power up to the service menu — if this happens try to put the radio into a normal or standard operating state for SSB and then follow the standard procedure to enter the service menu.  Sorry don’t remember what caused this.)

Portable Working Conditions  
Waimea,  Island of Hawaii.
Yaesu FT857-D
Antenna: 120 foot doublet up 12′-28′-12′ (N-S)
450R ladder line
4:1 current balun
RG8 to tuner
MFJ 4125-P power supply
. LDG YT100 tuner.
RTSystems USB to serial converter
Sabrent USB to spkr/mic converter.

7/17 Baseline Setting

Mic Gain (menu 81) 50-100 
Power 100
Menu 28 155
Menu 51 203
Menu 52 85

7/17 0938 – Correct Operation  Indications

7.195 cw transmit is 100W (alc 4 bars). Same test on 20m with identical power/alc readings key down.  Below – correct indication for ALC and PWR with the key down.



Log  3 jun – 17 july 2017

3 jun17 – In the last couple of days, the ft-857 mobile lost its programmed memories.  I also checked the ALC, key down, no modulation and get 3 bars of ALC.  From past experience, the drill now is to restore user memory with Chirp from backup, and reset ALC parameters in the Service Menu.

Operating Conditions: Mobile Operating: Yaesu FT-857D, LDG YT-100, vertical center loaded antennas,  direct DC connect to battery + and chassis negative


4 June 17

  • Reflashed the user memories with Chirp from a backup  “.img” file.
  • Accessed the service menu ([power off].  hold  [A] [B] [C]  [power-on] )  . Reset menu items 51 and 52 to correct values for this radio:
    • 51  193
    • 52   85
    • press [FUNC] to save
  • tested on 40m with kh6fhi

Note 1: win10 desktop and macbook are able to run Chirp, and both computers/os have the RT-systems driver for the RT-systems USB-62 programming/cat cable.

Note 2: This procedure can be done in place with the macbook in the future.

Note 3: Don’t know why this happens, or how often but suspect transmitting activity

Note 4: The transmitter power on SSB at 40M seemeds low.  Service Menu change.

  • Changed Service Menu parameter 28 (7mhz)  to 200 from default 168.  Test with dummy load. Used LSB mode instead of CW and a harmonica note for modulation to get 70W (200 new val)  reading on the Bird external power meter.  The default setting of 168 produced 50W on 40M.
  • Power is very difficult thing to asses subjectively since 3dB is only 1/2 S unit and this adjustment is something on that order.   A remote signal strength meter is probably a better way to go.  And maybe it doesn’t matter that much!

6 Jun 2017  (Aiea):  Aloha Net 7.188  — apparently getting out OK at 100W to the usual stations and no comments about distortion. Apparently good to go on 40m sideband at least.


12 July (Waimea, Big Island) – Intermittent problem with power limiting at 3 bars.

13 July 17 – [40m  ssb and cw.  NOT 20m and 80m] Portable ops in Waimea and the problem is back – so far ONLY on 40 m.  With menus 51 and 52 set at 193 85 the problem is most pronounced at 100W power, and less so at 50W.   The power pegs at 3 bars.  Different settings of 51 and 52 do not help.

Menu 28 160
Menu 51 193
Menu 52 85

Explored menu 28 (H2-PO-MAX) was to 200 – poor result apparently (notes sketchy).
Menu 28 to 160Power 100.  Mic Gain 100.   MIC GAIN affects power – the fact that it has to be so hot needs to be looked into but previous forays did not turn up an appropriate parameter.   The ALC no longer is spiking and making better power.  CW also does not spike ALC.


14jul 0900 –40m  SSB- makes power, no ALC spikes, no fold back.
20m OK full cw power
20M normal operation for SSB voice and JT65
CW ALC shows four bars.
CW Power on 40m :  5 bars  << this is indicative of degraded power.


Menu 28 155  <<  test 14jul 0900 — much better on 40m – make power no fold back
Menu 51 203
Menu 52 85
Mike Gain 50
Power 100

JT65 – power max at about 4 bars with 1 bar ALC.  Made contacts – so reliable transmission. uncertain if audio input to power out is normal.  Radio was set to DIG mode

Discussion experiments –

The mike gain is still 100.  Try change menu 51 to 203 – a default setting. The idea is to restore linearity to the mike gain and modulation situation, instead of it being pegged at 100.  The previous issue was inadequate modulation and power with the mike gain lower.  At 1700 these settings are working for both SSB and CW

Menu 28 160  << ALC still spikes / folds back
Menu 28 156  <<  test 14jul 0900 — much better on 40m – make power no fold back
Menu 51 203  (change)
Menu 52 85

7/16 – With bad band conditions, steve wh7tw could hear me but I couldn’t hear him well.  40m CW sounded “strange”. We could easily communicate on 20M SSB

7/17 0830 Mon Problem: still not making full power on 40m.   Apprently full power on 20M.  Testing with menu 28 settings shows little change when setting is moved incrementally from 155 to 165.  Restore to 155 and return to 14jul baseline.
7/17 0845 – chatting FHI sent me S8/S9 —
In spite of impaired power, we had comms on 40m 7/17 until the band went dead at 1911z. Later discovered mic gain at 100 – so we leave it there.
CW power on 40 – surprised to see 100W 9 bars ( 2 bars over the line)

7/17 testing did not seem to fix an issue with 40m power but later testing shows restoration of 40m power.  Confusion.
Suspect instability may play a role in a temporary apparent fix which would lead to recurrence.