About me

I was born on July 13, 1956 in the city of Euclid, Ohio, a suburb just east of Cleveland Ohio. I grew up there, attended Euclid Sr High school. After high school I attended Lakeland Community College for a short time, going for my Electronic Engineering degree, which I never achieved. I have worked in machine shops, had my own photography studio, doing weddings and portrait photography. I did get an Associate Degree in Computer Science, and now work in the IT field, having been a system administrator, network admin, consultant and now Technical Support Engineer for a software company. In 2005 I moved to Washington state, living with my soon to be wife, Sylvia, as well as our cats, Larry and Curly. Washington state is a nice place to live, not too hot, not too cold and hardly ever snows, which is fine by me, after putting up with the snows every winter in Ohio. Except when it does snow no one knows how to drive in it and no one knows how to clear the streets. I also enjoy photography and video recording. I'm going to try and get some more photos uploaded as well as videos. Might even get a travel trailer and start doing some traveling together with my lovely wife.

I also play guitar, started playing in my teens but then neglected playing after having a family, work, life. Started picking it back up again. I have a Epiphone Dot semi hollow body, a Glarry Burning Fire and an Epiphone acoustic. As well as computers being one of my hobbies, I am also a amateur radio operator, otherwise known as a "ham". Amateur radio is a noncommercial, licensed system of communication, and is as old as the medium of radio itself. Ham radio is a hobby to most participants, but hams are best known for the emergency communications they provide during disasters. Hams are licensed by their government to communicate both domestically and internationally on a wide variety of radio bands. Other interests... airplanes, auto racing, sports cars, weather, photography.

This website is usng my call sign, however it's not just about my ham radio, but it is also about my family life and things that are important to us. I have links for our hobbies, my music and things what we like to do, so browse the site and let me know how it is.

You can email me at rwolenski@n8wcr.us

Blogs

Periodically I will post a blog

19-Sept-2021 | Big Move! Again!

We moved once again! This time we moved to a house in Monroe WA. It's a house with a garage and a real yard, even thought it is small. It's large enough, it's a triangle yard about 55 feet long to the point. It gives me a few oppurtunities for setting up antennas. Right now until I get something permanent, I have my 20M Isotron on a 5 foot mast. However this confirms my suspicions that the apartment was a RF black hole. With the same antenna on the 3rd floor balconey, I wasn't able to hear or get out at all. Now with the antenna only 5 feet high, I'm able to hear and get out! Even cell phone reception was sketchy. I had some suggestions on antennaa, and one of them is a EFHW from the second floor down to the fence line.

The move and the three flight of stairs really took a toll on my knees. Now there's only one flight of stairs to the upstairs bedrooms. We even have a garage, now Sylvia can create her lures in the garage instead of the bedroom. Of course the cars will need to be parked outside, but it's worth having the extra room for a work shop. Prince really loves the back yard, he now has a place to run around in. Just around the corner there's Lake Tye, where's there's a park, swimming and fishing.

Till next time, 73

9-July-2021 | Youtube site

I just bought my first action cam. It's an inexpensive Apexcam, but I decided to get a inexpensive cam to start with. It's seems to be real nice, I just have to get more mounts for it. This is the Apexcam. I bought it to do videos on our camping and fishing trips, but also to do some ham radio videos. I have a YouTube channel that has been dormant for years, I have a few live videos of my 3D printer on it, but since I don't have the printer running because of space constraints it's been neglected. Well now it won't be neglected. I decided to start creating new videos. The YouTube link is Ron Wolenski N8WCR. Please visit and let me know what you think. There's not much there now but there will be.

On the home front, we are looking for a house to rent with more room. Because of that I decided to just use the antennas I have now instead of worrying about getting new ones working, since I really don't believe they will work in this complex anyway. I have the 20M dipole, and I have the 20M Isotron up. SSB is iffy, but I have been having luck on FT8, so I've been making contacts on 20M digital. I just got a Ham It Up Nano for the RTL-SDR dangles, now I need to figure out an antenna for it.

On another note, we just changed our Internet provider from XFinity to Ziply Fiber. We now have 1G up and down speed for less than what we were paying for 200M down and a measly 5M up speed previously. It is also seems more reliable, before we would get some issues once or twice a week and XFinity couldn't figure out why. Now we don't get these "brownouts" anymore.

Till Next time, 73

14-Mar-2021 | More Radio Antennas!

I really never had too much luck in building antennas. Never been able to afford an antenna anlyzer, I had to work with just the SWR meter on the radio. The MFJ-1798 vertical I had was bought second hand, so it was already setup and I didn't have to change anything. I did buy one of those cheap Sark MR100 Antenna analyzer later on, being frustrated in trying to tune antennas, but it was inconsistent and not really reliable. I did manage to get the 20 dipole I made that is drapped over the balconey banister close, so with the LDG-100 antenna tuner (the builtin antenna tuner on the IC-746 died) it was close. The MFJ-1622, never had luck trying to tune that. A Isotron 20 Meter antenna I could never get working. Totally frustrating.

After reading about the NanoVNA for a while, and since I couldn't afford getting a MFJ analyzer for $260 or so, I decided to get a NanoVNA for $50. I'm so glad I did. I wasn't sure if I had bad coax, the antennas I had were junk or what. With the NanoVNA iwas able to see if my coax was bad. They weren't. Checked the dipole out. It was a bit long so I shortened it. Now it has a good match. Next, tried the NanoVNA on the MFJ-1622. Was able to get a match on it for 10 Meters. Was never able to do that before.

Next, I bought a Isotron 20 Meter antenna long ago, I was never been able to get it to tune. Tried again and again, using the instructions of putting your hand near to see if it tune too high or too low. After having luck with the dipole with the NanoVNA I decided to try again with the NanoVNA. This time I was able to see where it was resonant at and able to tune it for 20 Meters! It now works! I'm really amazed!

I bought some MFJ hamsticks to use as a dipole (pre NanaVNA) MFJ-2220. Without the NanoVNA I couldn't get them to work. As I had the dipole already, I decided to return them and get two 40 Meter sticks instead. I figure I try 40 Meters now. Be interesting to see what I can do with the NanoVNA. Even though I'm still in an apartment it would be nice to be able to get on 40, 20, and 10 meters.

Till next time, 73

24-Nov-2020 | Radio Antenna

Been trying different antennas for 20 meters, using the MFJ-1622 apartment antenna, which is basically a short telescoping vertical and a loading coil with taps. Pain in the neck trying to match it. But it really hasn't worked. The only thing I found that works is a dipole out on the balconey just layed out on the the banister and the ends hanging down over the sides. With it I managed to do a few contests but with just a few contacts, mostly local. However, I found that I'm having pretty good luck using digital mode with WSJT-X and FT8 mode. I think its because the propagation is so bad at this solar minimum that everyone is using the digital modes instead. But I'm getting out on 20m FT8. Hopefully the bands will start opening up soon. The new sun cycle is starting up, with some sunspots showing up already.

Till next time, 73

5-Sept-2020 | The Big move

Well, we finally moved last weekend, been unpacking and setting up all week. We moved from a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor to a 3 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor in the same apartment complex. We needed more room. However, it was a move from hell! First, we found some movers booked for Friday morning at 2pm, two guys and a truck. Waited all morning and get a call that they are running late at another move. Then they finally show up at around 5:30, two skinny guys. They take one look at the place and then they walked out and get on the phone. Now we don't have a lot of furniture, love seat, two recliners, mattress (the box spring is in storage), no dressers, a couple of small computer desks, but a lot of packed boxes. The tables we do have are folding banquet tables we use for our computers, so they fold up. Well, they come back in and tell us they can't move us, it's too much for them, so they bailed. Sylvia gets on the phone with the boss, and he's complaining that it wasn't booked right, but he's going to get 4 guys for Saturday. Saturday morning comes, again it's only two small guys, not 4! I couldn't help much, but Sylvia and Steph had to help them get the truck packed and unpacked. Took them over 6 1/2 hours to move everything. And then they spilled something on the new rug. Luckily I was able to get that out. Sylvia shouldn't had been helping because of her bad shoulders, and even pulled a tendon in her hand from moving.

So after that, I was able to unpack and setup the network and connect to the Internet. No problems, everything came up after the transfer. On Sunday, I went to move the Internet modem and router to a different shelf, so all I did was disconnected the coax to the modem and move the modem and reconnect the coax. Internet wouldn't come back up. Power on/off, disconnect, reconnect, power cycle, nothing but red lights on the modem. All I did was disconnect the coax from XFinity and reconnect which I did many times. Didn't even disconnect the power. So I got on the phone with XFinity. After dealing with their exasperating automated system for an hour, somehow I got a tech on the phone. After working with him for over an hour, we couldn't figure it out. Told him we need it up so Sylvia could work on Tuesday (she took Monday off) He made an appointment for a tech to come out between 10 and 12 on Monday. Sounded good. Monday comes, waited and waited all morning, so I decided to go on the webpage and check. It said it was rescheduled for Tuesday between 3 and 5! That would not do, plus no one told me it was rescheduled. Spent over 4 hours trying to get a representative on the phone. The stupid automated system wouldn't let me get through to anyone, kept trying to send me to websites, but I couldn't because I had no Internet! At one point I was able to get a person to text me. Again, he kept trying to have me go to a web site so I can reschedule for later in the week. I didn't want to reschedule, I needed someone to come by now! Spent 4 hours doing this, he wouldn't tell me why it was reschedule, only wanted me to go to a website which I kept explaining to him I couldn't access the Internet! Sylvia finally was able to get someone on the phone by going through the automated system as a new user. They sure want to get new customers but after you are they don't care to talk to you. So we finally got someone on the phone, and told them we needed the Internet up that day or Sylvia would get fired and told them if they didn't there will be a lawsuit! AMAZING! The representative was able to schedule someone to come out in about two hours. Amazing what can happen when you threaten to stop service and sue them.

Tech came out, said something about a low signal, so he went through each room to look for a splitter. He found the splitter and was able to do something with it, but my modem still wouldn't connect. Asked him if he had one I could rent until I get my modem looked at. He gave me one of their all in one modem/wireless router, they didn't have JUST a modem. I have a wireless router already which I like to manage myself, but that's all they had. So I have to hook my router to their router and now have two wireless connections. So we were back up and runnng by Monday night. Now I understand because of Covids-19 they have people working from home, but the automated system really sucks. It needs to be more friendly and helpful.

So now we have settled in, I have my desk setup with the computer and radio, the rooms are bigger. My legs and knees are killing me, Sylvia went to the doctor and now has a hand brace because she pull a tendon in her wrist and thumb, along with all the other bruises and bumps she got. Cat and dog seems to like the place though, they now have a hallway to run up and down. And the movers are going to get an extremely bad review!

Now I have to check to see if I can get an antenna up and running here. Unfortunately I'm still facing North from my balconey, but I'm hoping the elevation will help.

Till next time, 73

28-Mar-2020 | Working From Home during COVIDS-19 - Week one

Since Washington State has been on a Work-from-Home mode, I've been working from home the last week. I have my laptop from work, and now I'm a VPN connection to work. It's working out pretty well. My connection is good, I even have an IP phone connection to the phone switch at work. I'm finding no difference from working in the office and from working at home. Since I'm the only one in the support department I don't have to be concerned about interactions with co-workers. In face most of the employees are remote in other places in the US. I think it's even better as far as my health, since I'm not sitting at my desk all day long. I take a few shorts breaks by standing up, petting the dog and cat, and just stretching. No more half hour car rides, so I'm saving money on gassing up the SUV. I get to wake up a hour later. Instead of having a cup of coffee at home and two more while at work, I find that I'm just having two cups. Sylvia is also working from home, so we have each others company all day long, instead of the phone calls during break times and lunch. Makes the day more relaxing.

As far as the work load goes, since I do technical support I'm not seeing any type of slowdown as much as you would think. While working at my old job doing technical support (both are technical support for busniesses and not for consumers) I found out that when the company's offices are somewhat empty, like during a long weather storm or during times around holidays and vacations, it usually gives poeple time to work on projects while not being bothered by putting out fires and supporting their users. During this time is when they usually call in for technical support, so this is not really a slow time.

I'm trying to listen in on the local 2 meter nets, but haven't had any real time to check in. HF is not an option because of the antenna situation, but I'm really thinking of making a 20 meter dipole and stringing it up inside the house, which I'm sure no one here will be happy about that!

Till next time, 73

2-Feb-2020 | New Site

It's been a while since I posted anything. Some new things has happened since then. I now have my own domain, n8wcr.us. I bought it today, set it up and created a new page, all in one day. The old site was hosted in my house, first on a Raspberry Pi, then over on a Dell server using a dynamic DNS. Now I have it hosted on ChangeIp.com, which is the same hosting website as Sylvia's Winkeylures.com site. I like the new fresher design better than the old one.

Till next time, 73

4-May-2019 | Updating Tech Licenses

The FCC is now looking into changing the Technician license class to include HF voice privileges. The Technician license is the "entry level" license for amateur radio licenses. This wasn't always the case. The "entry level" license used to be the Novice license, as the name applies. Novice license had HF privileges except it was CW code only, and the 2 meter band. It was good for one year only, giving incentive to upgrade to a General license.

The Technician license class was created basically to explore, experiment and involve more usage in the VHF, UHF and higher frequencies, passing the General class written test but the Morse code requirement was the same as the Novice, 5 wpm. This was NOT intended to be an "entry level" license, but more of a experimental license to open up the UHF bands. This is why I really don't like the use of the Technician license as an "entry level" license the way it is now. What should had happened during the reconstruction when the code requirement was dropped was to change the Novice license to include some HF voice privileges while expanding the VHF and UHF privileges and drop the Technician license altogether. This is basically what the new proposal does, but a few years too late. The name "technician license" is misleading now too, sounding like you need a higher skill than a General license. If the FCC wants to move ahead the should rename this license to something more appropriate, maybe not Novice but something more inline with an entry level. I think that the new proposal would be very good for Amateur radio as an incentive to getting a license. Should had been done long ago.

Till next time, 73

27-April-2019 | Antennas issues

A long while ago I purchased an Isotron 20M antenna, however, perhaps because of the lack of an antenna analyzer, I could never get it resonant and tuned. So I put it aside. Recently though, I purchased a Sark M100 antenna analyzer. I haven't calibrated it since I don't have the resistors handy, but it seems pretty accurate. As you see in the projects on this page I constructed a magnetic loop. The loop isn't very efficient, and being in an apartment on the second floor, I wasn't getting anything worthwhile with it.

While investigating apartment antennas, I came across an article that the author saying he knows of someone using an Isotron antenna in his apartment. I thought, hey wait a minute, I have one of those. I also now have a rudimentary antenna analyzer. I have a 5 feet section of antenna mast zip tied to the balconey railing that has my MFJ 1/4 wavelength 2 meter antenna, so I clamped the Isotron to that. I first tried what the manaul says to get it close to the resonant frequency, listening to the noise and bringing your hand close to the top secion of the antenna and listen to see if the noise goes up or down. Well, still not going to work I thought. I then decided to attach the antenna analyzer. I tried to disconnect the ground wire, that didn't do anything. I reconnect the ground wire to the mast mount. With the analyzer I noticed it was in tune at the low end of the 20 meter band. Seeing that I manage to get it in tune within the General portion of the SSB band, about 1.3:1.

There's no grounding. Anywhere. So when I transmit at 100 watts, things go weird. There's a USB hub that will decide to die when you transmit. It will just disconnect, so you have to unplug it and plug it back in. I have a Raspberry Pi that does a few things, this webpage is hosted on it, PiHole, and my PiClock. That reboots at the higher wattage. My computer speakers makes a loud obnoxious buzzing. Need to get a ground. Going to try to ground it to the apartment electrical ground, stay tune to see if that does anything. Rather get a KFJ Artificial Ground, but no money in the budget for that.


While I was trying out my antennas, I been noticing that the power output hasn't been 100%, usually around 65% to 75%. It didn't feel right, so I suspected power voltage issues. Now I know that the voltage out of the power supply is ok (13.2 volts, thanks to my handy dandy voltmeter) and the cable to the power distribution block is short, about 18" going to a 4 port Anderson Power Pole distribution block, so I suspected one of the fuses on either the positive or negative leads was bad. Sure enough, opening up the negative fuse holder had actually melted out of the fuse like a bad solder joint. Replaced the fuse, cleaned the connectors and now back up to 100% again. I don't think that it was pulling too much current, just a bad fuse. If it was a newer blade fuse I'm sure it wouldn't had done this.

Till next time, 73

23-Feb-2019 | First Blog

I decided to put some blogs here. I've been updating this page for a while now after it sat neglected for a while. I'm here scanning 20 meters, not hearing too much, once in a while a station will come up. I have two banquet tables for my "desk", six foot one and a 8 foot one set in the corner so it is L shaped, and moving things around, trying to get it organized. It's coming along pretty nice if I do say so myself, fitting in a corner in a rather small 2 bedroom apartment. We dont have a living room, we have a "play" room, my part is computers and radios, Sylvia's part is her gaming computer and fishing lures construction :).

Last week I was scanning the 2 meter band when I heard someone say something about preparing for blast off. Double checking and it was ARISS with the astronauts doing a contact with a school in Canada and flew right over us! First time I really heard ARISS, never thought I could with the equipment I had, but I have only a MFJ 1/4 wave vertical out on the balconey! Going to have to check that out more!

Till next time, 73