N7EKB's Amateur Radio Page

Picture of Ed in front of his truck at work.


This page is where I (Ed Braaten, aka N7EKB), keep things related to my hobby of Amateur radio.  My introduction to the world of radios began in a police car at the age of 5 - I was fascinated by all the chatter and squelch tails.   I got involved with shortwave listening in high school.  I collected a number of QSL cards from international broadcasters and listened to a lot of Deutsche Welle.  

After several thwarted attempts through the years I finally studied and passed the test for a No-Code Technician license in November, 1997.  Shortly after getting my Technician license, I taught myself Morse Code and became proficient at the blazing speed of 5 WPM.   I passed the 5 WPM Morse Code examination and was able to upgrade to a Technician Plus license in December 1997.  My original callsign was "KF6OQI".

When the FCC Opened their Gate 4 Vanity Callsign Program in December, 1997, I applied for the vanity callsign "K6EKB".  I was inspired to apply for this callsign (which matches my initials) by my Elmer in those days, "K6KRD" whose callsign also matches his initials.   On 7 January, 1998 the FCC granted me the "K6EKB" callsign.  

After some theory study and some more practice with Morse code (13 WPM), I upgraded to General Class in May 1998.   Many years later (April 13th, 2004 to be exact) after hitting the books again and participating in an excellent class held by Jerry Seligman, W7BUN, (Silent Key, Aug 16th, 2006) from the Radio Club of Tacoma, I finally upgraded to Amateur Extra Class.

I've lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2001, but didn't try to update my vanity call to match the "7" call area until I applied for N7EKB on January 31st, 2017.   The FCC accepted my application and made the N7EKB grant official on February 18th, 2017.

Contacting me via Amateur Radio

I carry a DMR handheld radio (the Tytera MD-UV390 dual-band VHF/UHF) just about everywhere I go, near or far.   You can call me on DMR Talk group (TG) 31771.   This talk group is known as "Pacific Northwest Regional", or "PNW Reg 2" on the PNW Repeater network, and simply as "PNWR" on the Brandmeister network.   I keep TG 31771 static in my hot spots so unless I'm actively talking on another talk group or am away from my radio, I should hear your call.   The nice thing about contacting me via DMR-mode is that I can be just about anywhere in the world and I'll still be "in range" for a full-quieting contact.  

Hamshack Hotline

You can reach me via VOIP (voice over IP) telephone at the following number:  11893.   This VOIP line is courtesy of Hamshack Hotline (HH).   I'm using the 4-line CISCO SPA504g for my VOIP phone with HH configured on the first line and a regular SIP number with an Olympia area DID configured on one of the other lines.  

I also have the GS Wave softphone installed on my Android smartphone which allows me to take/make Hamshack Hotline VOIP calls from my smartphone when I'm not in the shack.

Tracking N7EKB's Semi Truck - N7EKB-14

In my current job I'm driving an 18-wheeler doing mostly "drop & hook" deliveries of shipping pallets.   You can track my rig on APRS via one of the following links: 12-hour track, 24-hour track, 2-day track.   If my track isn't showing, give me a call on the radio or hamshack hotline and let me know.  

My Station

My radio shack is setup in an upstairs room in my house near Rainier, WA.   The grid-square is CN86PV and the ICBM coordinates are 46° 54.279' N and 122° 42.118' W.   My primary HF antenna is an Alpha Antenna J-Pole Sr 60 ft end-fed antenna mounted as a "sort of" sloper starting at about 18 ft off the ground running from the eave of my house out to a fir tree in the yard.   My secondary HF antenna is a 80M dipole mounted approximately 20ft off the ground.   This 80m antenna is level to the ground to maximize a Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) radiation pattern for daytime HF operation.   The main HF rig in the shack is a Xiegu G90 (max 20 watts!) which I use for HF voice and digital modes (mostly FT8).   The main VHF/UHF radio is a Connect Systems CS800D dual band DMR and analog radio.   The secondary VHF radio is an Alinco DR-235T for the 1.25m band.  

Linux Only - No Windows

I've been running Linux on all of my home computers including those in my radio shack for over a decade now.   I program many of my radios on my Linux laptop using the CHIRP program or free software from the manufacturers.   When the manufacturer's free software is only provided on Windows, I use a Windows virtual machine running on my Linux laptop to install and run that software.

DMR Hotspots

Hotspot 1.   I operate a DVMega homebrew DMR hotspot consisting of a Raspberry Pi 3 computer and the DVMega RPI single-band UHF radio module in my home QTH.   This hotspot gives me access to the worldwide BrandMeister and TGIF DMR networks, plus the regional PNW Digital DMR network.   The Raspberry Pi 3 is running Pi-Star.   The frequency for this 10mW hotspot is 432.550 MHz (CC 14).   You can monitor this hotspot on the Brandmeister network by clicking on this link.  

Hotspot 2.   I operate a second DMR hotspot in my 18-wheeler (N7EKB-14, see tracking info above).   This hotspot is based on a Rasberry Pi 3b+ computer and the N5BOC simplex MMDVM board.   This portable hotspot gives me access to the worldwide BrandMeister and TGIF DMR networks, plus the regional PNW Digital DMR network via a portable Verizon mobile Wi-Fi device.   You can monitor this hotspot on the Brandmeister network by clicking on this link.   The frequency for this 10mW hotspot is 445.825 MHz (CC 10).   The picture below shows the case I carry this hotspot in being inspected by our dog Lexi.   This was an earlier version of the setup before I upgraded it to the Pi 3b+ and the N5BOC board.

Lexi inspecting N7EKB's Mobile DMR hotspot

My Current Logbook

East Thurston County ARES Team

I'm a member of the East Thurston County (ETC) Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Team and serve as the Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC).   To learn more about the ETC ARES team, follow this link:   https://etc-ares.org/.  


I'm a life member of the ARRL and a member of the local Yelm Amateur Radio Group.   I'm a life member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association.   I'm member #4334 of FISTS International.   My OMISS member number is 14838.   I'm also a member of the Ten-Ten International Net with 10-10 number 69377.