[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/13/19 5:06pm

When I post these “operating notes,” they’re usually about three different topics. Today, however, all of these notes are about the recently-concluded PA QSO Party. I only operated for about three hours total of the 22-hour contest, but it was fun. Here are my operating notes:

Encouraging activity

My story actually starts a couple of days ago. On Thursday, I worked a couple of guys in PA, and although they were good operators, when I asked them if they planned to work the contest, they both demurred, saying that they weren’t really contesters. I explained to them that QSO parties were pretty low-key and a good way to get their feet wet in contesting. And, as a bonus, other stations would be bending over backward to work them as they were located in PA. I even offered to get on the phone and give them a little coaching.

My spiel resonated with them, and one guy asked to talk on the phone. Before we could do that, however, something came up, and I never did hear him on the air. I did manage to work the second guy, so I’m happy about that. I’m going to email him and ask him what he thought of his first contest.

Good propagation

I’m in a pretty good spot for working PA. It’s one hop to most locations in the state. Even so, the propagation seemed pretty good this weekend. I worked a little phone (what me? phone??) this afternoon and more than once I got the comment, “Great signal.” All this from 90W into a homebrew Cobra doublet.

And, talking about phone….

There were a lot of phone stations operating this contest. Many times, you really have to search for phone stations in a QSO party. Today, however, there were phone stations from about 7185 kHz up to 7285 kHz. Working phone allowed me to add some multipliers that I may not have gotten on CW, including WES, SCH and DCO.

Working phone in a QSO party is fun because most of the operators are so laid back. I heard one guy tutoring a station in Alabama how to work a QSO party. I waited and listened, too, because the guy was in a county that I didn’t have yet.

The funniest phone contact I had was with a guy who said to me, “Hey, I know that call. You’re kinda famous!” I laughed and replied, “Well, one of my friends here says that I’m ‘ham-famous.'” You don’t get that kind of banter on CW, for obvious reasons.

Final score

Here are my final scores (as reported by N1MM):

Band Mode QSOs Pts Mults 3.5 CW 23 47 12 7 CW 32 64 19 7 LSB 18 18 6 Total Both 73 128 37 Score: 5,136

Not too bad for only three hours of operation.

The post Operating Notes: PA QSO Party edition appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Contests, Operating, QSO parties]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/9/19 2:32pm
KB6NU teaching the Jan. 14, 2012 One-Day Tech Class

Yours truly making a point (apparently about SWR) at a recent One-Day Tech Class

On Saturday, September 28, I taught the latest of my series of One-Day Tech Classes. The result this time: 13/14 passed the test! Their call signs were just granted:

  • Randy Meyer, KE8NBS
  • Linda Micklea, KE8NBT
  • Michael Micklea, KE8NBU
  • Jeremiah Videto, KE8NBV
  • Stephen Brannon, KE8NBW
  • Edward Heidelbach, KE8NBX
  • Robert Muckelbauer, KE8NBY
  • Max Difazio, KE8NBZ
  • Dan Hanagan, KE8NCA
  • Mark Harvey, KE8NCB
  • Mike Frye-Henderson, KE8NCC
  • Richard Falconer, KE8NCD
  • Michael Burton, KI5GTD

If you hear them on the air, say hi, and be nice to them. :)


The post 13 new Techs! appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Classes/Testing/Licensing]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/9/19 12:31pm

Reprinted from RadioWorld, with their permission…

By Joe Molter, N8IDA

Amateur radio operators routinely talk to the world from station WC8VOA in West Chester, Ohio, located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. This former VOA relay station is now a museum with collections from the Gray History of Wireless Radios; Powel Crosley Jr., and Cincinnati radio and TV broadcasting history; and the Voice of America. The museum celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Bethany Station in September with a fundraiser to make the first floor of the museum accessible for people of all abilities.

Her six massive transmitters may be quiet,
but she is far from silent.


The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting is open every weekend from 1 to 4 p.m. Tours are given continuously on weekend afternoons by knowledgeable docents. It houses the Bethany station’s last control room and one of the remaining 250 kW Collins shortwave transmitters.

You can sit at the massive audio console that controlled the six shortwave transmitters and literally take a tour inside one of the Collins transmitters. You can view the massive switch gear, built during World War II, that changed Bethany’s 24 rhombic antennas to its six transmitters.

At one time, Bethany Station covered a square mile of property on former farmland. Today the museum sits on 14 acres and the antennas are gone; but with surrounding park acreage, you get a sense of the massive scale the site covered with towers and the miles of transmission lines and antenna wire.

The antennas are a memory, but the site’s spirit lives on.

The museum houses a large collection of radios from the early part of the 20th century, including names such as Hallicrafters, National, Drake and Collins. A large collection of Drake Amateur Radio products is always a must-see by visiting radio enthusiasts and ham radio operators.

Drake radios were produced nearby in Miamisburg, Ohio. An area dedicated to the Crosley Corporation shows off many of the Crosley brothers’ radio, TV and household products that were manufactured in Cincinnati. Crosley contributed heavily to the war effort during World War II, with the production of tens of thousands of portable radios for the U.S. Army and millions of proximity fuses for anti-aircraft ordinance.

Not only did Crosley develop radios, but content as well, with its on-air radio station WLW, which still broadcasts today on 700 AM. WLW transmits from its original site and the large Blaw-Knox tower can be seen from the VOA museum. The museum contains the original 50-watt AM transmitter that WLW started with in 1922.

WLW was the only U.S. station allowed to operate at 500,000 watts of power during the 1930s. The collection includes a bright red Crosley Hot Shot sports car, too. Crosley Corporation developed a number of vehicles during the late 1930s and resumed production after World War II until shutting down in 1952.

An additional area of the museum houses artifacts and memorabilia from the early era of Cincinnati radio and TV broadcasting. The Cincinnati Media Heritage section includes many of the celebrities who got their start at WLW and other local broadcasting outlets. These WLW radio stars, many of whom transitioned from radio to TV, include Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame; sisters Rosemary and Betty Clooney; Eddie Albert; Doris Day; The Mills Brothers; and Ruth Lyons.

Housed in three of Bethany’s old transmitter vaults, the history of broadcasting showcases the talent and equipment that made Cincinnati an early nursery for radio and television entertainment. Artifacts include equipment from a 1930s radio station; a 1950s AM station, including disc jockey’s audio console and turntables; and a 1000-watt transmitter. A very early and massive RCA Victor color television camera is on display, along with other television and video equipment.


Our amateur radio station is operated under FCC license WC8VOA and is manned by the West Chester Amateur Radio Association.

The station has seven operating positions equipped with modern and vintage amateur radio gear. Antennas cover the radio spectrum from two meters down to 160 meters. The former VOA receiving satellite dish has been converted to 10 GHz transmit and receive capabilities for EME (Earth Moon Earth) bounce. Signals are sent to the moon and the dish used as a passive satellite to communicate with other amateur radio operators.

The club participates in radio contests, portable operations and local STEM events. It averages some 6,000 contacts per year, covering modes of voice and digital and CW. The club also operates two FM repeaters on two meters and 440 Mhz.

Operators are in the shack every weekend and hold an open house every Wednesday night for radio enthusiasts and those interested in obtaining a ham radio license. Our WC8VOA call sign is recognized by many of our fellow radio amateurs around the world. We have made contacts from all seven continents and hundreds of countries.

Radio is still an important part of our lives. Whether it is listening to AM, FM or satellite services, radio remains a viable source of our news and entertainment.


Voice of America broadcasts were never intended for Americans. They were targeted to people living in oppressed countries where media was censored to change people’s minds by providing sourced and accurate news.

In fact, the VOA Charter (Public Law 94-350), which was passed in 1976 during the Ford administration, states that VOA news will be “accurate, objective and comprehensive.” It will also “represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.” Last, the VOA is mandated to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.”

VOA news and feature stories are still broadcast and transmitted today to more than 275 million people weekly in 40-plus languages in nearly 100 countries. VOA programs are delivered on multiple platforms, including radio, television, web and mobile via a network of more than 3,000 media outlets worldwide.

Broadcasts have aired continually for more than 75 years, along with sister stations of Radio Free Europe; Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; and Radio Martí.

Here is the crux of the matter for all of us at the VOA museum: Once Bethany Station began operation during mid-World War II, an infuriated Adolf Hitler was quoted as saying on one of his radio broadcasts to never listen to those “Cincinnati Liars.” We’re proud to be part of the VOA heritage we are entrusted with and even more proud to be related to those “liars” from Cincinnati.

But while we’re proud of our heritage, I must be honest: The museum is housed in an aging, uninsulated, 75-year-old building that constantly needs repairs. We receive no federal funding, and this is our big fundraising push for the year.

Our workforce of docents, conservators and maintenance crews are all unpaid volunteers. And many of our volunteers come from our local radio club, the West Chester Amateur Radio Association.

Please help us out with a donation. For information on the museum and how you can help with donations, visit www.voamuseum.org. Please donate today. If you’re interested in our amateur radio group, additional information is at wc8voa.org.

Joe Molter, WCARA, N8IDA, ARS Operator, is with the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting.

The post National VOA Museum asks for your support appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Clubs, SWLing, National VOA Museum of Broadcasting, VOA]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/7/19 12:02pm

From Amateur Radio Social Club to 50 Years of Disaster Response Steve Landers started with a two-way, amateur (ham) radio club that felt like family, led to participation in disaster response that continued through a lifetime of emergencies and disasters in Macon-Bibb County, Ga.

…read more

Bear Creek Twp Man Bouncing Communication off the Moon. A man in Bear Creek Township is going to new heights to talk to other amateur radio operators around the world. Herb Krumich and friends from the Murgas Amateur Radio Club installed two 30 foot antennas on a tower at his home. His hope is to bounce a transmission off the moon to reach the other side of the world. Why do this? Krumich says,  “Not many can….”

…read more

Ham radio aficionados reminisce during Hamfest, discuss importance of form of communication . The dusty vacuum tubes, resistors, capacitors and coils dated back to another age of communications, but the attendees of the Virginia Beach Hamfest earlier this month maintain radio is as relevant in the digital era as it has ever been.

Hams see themselves as the last line of communications when the cell towers fail during a hurricane or another disaster. They met at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to buy and sell equipment, exchange ideas, meet old friends and learn about the latest innovations in amateur radio.

…read more

The post Amateur radio in the news: Club provides disaster response, ham bounces signals off the moon, appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Everything Else]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/6/19 8:03am

Yesterday, when I QSYed to 40m, I found the California QSO party in full swing. I know from trying it once, not to participate in this contest, at least not with my callsign. Despite signing KB6NU/MI, I got bombarded with calls from people thinking that I lived in California.

So, I tuned up to the old Novice band. Even when a CW contest is in full swing, a portion of the old Novice band from 7110 to 7125 kHz is open for contacts, mostly slow-speed contacts.

Taking a look at the band scope, I saw some activity on 7118 kHz, so I tuned in there, just in time to hear Frank, K4WOW, sign off with another operator. As soon as the contact was clear, I called K4WOW and bagged him.

I’m hoping this will yield another QSL for my collection of QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words. On his QRZ.Com page, Frank says that he doesn’t QSL by mail anymore, but I’ve sent him a blank card and an SASE. I’ve even filled out the card, so that all he has to do is sign it and mail it.

You learn something new everyday…

A couple of days ago, I worked Phil, WB4FDT. I’ve worked Phil a couple of times, and knew from our previous QSOs that he was the secretary of the Old Old Timers Club, a group devoted to the history of radio. He’s also the editor of their newsletter, Spark-Gap Times.

I always learn something from Phil. In this contact, he told me that during the late 1920s and early 1930s, some hams were issued 1×4 callsigns for their portable stations. Below is an example of a QSL card from one such station.

In the Summer 2018 issue of Spark-Gap Times, a short article on this appears:

Beginning about 1927, the Commerce Department started to issue special “ZZ” 1×4 callsigns, such as W9ZZBJ for portable calls. In the Radio Amateur Callbook, the “ZZ” block was usually denoted as a footnote. 1932 was the first year that the “ZZ” block was denoted as a portable station in the listing and not as a footnote. Some of th eportable licenses were secondary stations, with the “home” station listed. Some portables appear to the be only license for that individual…..In 1934, the Federal Communications Commission took over amateur licensing , and there was no longer a “ZZ” 1×4 call sign block.

You never know who you’ll talk to on ham radio

I always enjoy asking the people I contact what kind of work they do, or, if they are retired, what kind of work that they used to do. You never know what kind of interesting things you’ll find out.

Last week, I worked Gil, VA3NQ, who happens to be a retired grape grower and wine maker. The band changed on us and we didn’t get to talk much about that, but I’m looking forward to our next QSO.

The post Operating Notes: WOW!, 1×4 callsigns appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: CW, QSLs]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/4/19 8:19am

Here’s a guest post by Ed Jones, K8MEJ. If you’d like me to publish a guest post or yours, please email me….Dan

I like to operate portable, whether it’s my new interest in operating amateur satellites or my love of HF. My family has a travel trailer and I’ve been taking my ten-year-old son camping since he was three. When we go camping, I usually bring along some ham radio and my family tolerates an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening listening to atmospheric noise, hearing me shout my call sign in the mic over and over trying to be heard in some distant land, and my giddy excitement when I work an ATNO from the campground.

I also occasionally operate at Scout events that are one to five days long, activate a rare county each year for the Ohio QSO Party, or sometimes just go set up in a park for a few hours and play radio. For all of these occasions, I found that transporting and setting up my radios, cables, batteries, etc. would take 20-30 minutes to set up and again to put away. That’s in addition to setting up any antennas and feedlines. So, my goal this year was to both simplify and expand my portable operating kit. I wanted to greatly reduce any setup and tear down time for the radio(s), speed up antenna deployment for quick outings, and for longer outings have a rotatable gain antenna. I’ll write about portable antennas another day. This article will describe my progress so far with building “go boxes” for my radios.

I had been keeping an eye out over the last couple of years for ideas on how to make my gear more portable. I live close to Xenia, Ohio so going to Hamvention each year is akin to going to my local hamfest. I had examined the options from a company called iPortable. They make some kit that is better looking than most of the homebrew go boxes I have seen, but the final result does not have that minimal, clean look I prefer. Still, for those who value function more than form, it’s a good option. Other vendors had go box offerings on display, but nothing I saw really excited me. So, I kept looking for better ideas.

Somewhere along the way, my Googling brought me to Novexcomm’s website. They make semi-custom go box kit that from the front looks nicer than iPortable’s kit. They’re easy to work with, and they are pretty quick to turn around some customizations. Bob Burchett is a super nice guy and will spend all the time you want from him on the phone. After some back-and-forth with Bob, I pulled the trigger on a 6U rack mount case, a mount for my IC-7300, a mount for my IC-9700, front panels with speakers, his version of a Powergate board, a 30amp power supply, and a rear IO panel with the connections I requested.

At first, I was excited when I opened up the box. The front panels looked nice and aside from Novexcomm’s logo plastered everywhere, it had the minimal, clean look I was looking for. But as I began to put things together, I determined that I wasn’t really all that happy with how they mount the radios in the case. Novexcomm and iPortable use shelves that mount in the rack. Novexcomm machines a thin aluminum front panel that you mount over top the rack shelf. The front panel is ok, and the rack shelf is ok, but the brackets they provided to mount my 7300 and 9700 radios were simply pieces of bent aluminum bar stock. I needed to drill into the bottom of the shelf and attach the brackets and then use the provided thumb screws to attach the radio to the brackets. The screws they provided to attach the brackets to the shelf were too long and interfered with the thumb screws. That was a silly oversight. In addition, there wasn’t a single fuse or protection device in the entire kit. There is nothing to protect the Powergate board and no fuses or circuit breakers for the power supply. And finally, while basic installation instructions were provided, there is zero documentation on how the Powergate board works, no troubleshooting information, and no where I could find to download firmware updates.

Once completed, it’s sturdy enough for light duty use and to be transported on the rear seat of my truck, but I wouldn’t trust it for rough transport or on a plane. But really, how many hams do that? Truth be told, for the average weekend ham, it’s fine. But I ended up spending a lot of time doing re-work on the Novexcomm box to fix a faulty battery bracket, get different screws for the radio brackets, install fuse links on every DC line and on the AC feed to the power supply, install a switch to turn the fans on or off, and install a master battery switch.

When it came time to rack mount my Elecraft KPA500 amplifier and matching KAT500 tuner, I knew I wanted a mount and panel that was much sturdier. The KPA500/KAT500 combo is heavy, and I didn’t want to use a shelf with a thin front panel. And if I was going to spend so much time modifying something I thought would be more turn-key, I might as well spend the time to specify exactly what I wanted. So, I went to back to Google to see how I could do better, and I found SNS Engineering.

Elecraft lists SNS Engineering in their recommended third-party vendor list. I was immediately impressed with the 3D drawings for their rack mount panel for my KPA500/KAT500. SNS makes replacement side panels for the amp and tuner, which add captive nuts to attach the custom aluminum side brackets. These are full-size side brackets, not thin strips of aluminum stock I used to attach my radios to the shelves. These side brackets are then attached to the back of the front panel, which is made from ¼” thick high-strength aluminum. The brackets are attached to the back of the panel with blind screws so the front panel is as minimal and clean as you can get. SNS Engineering are true craftsman. Installation was a snap and I had the case built in no time. I decided I’d work with SNS to custom design a rear rack panel for the amp/tuner box so I wouldn’t have to reach inside the case to connect cables, coax, and power when I moved the amp/tuner between portable use with my IC-7300 and my Flex 6400 at home.

In the meantime, I built up the Novexcomm 6U radio box and the SNS 4U amp/tuner cases and hit the road. KE8BOV and I went camping for three days and spent two days DX’ing and the third day operating the Ohio QSO Party from a rare county, as has become our yearly tradition. I quickly realized that having the IC-7300, IC-9700, power supply, 20Ah Bioenno battery, cables, and rear panel made for a heavy 6U case. I wanted to reduce the weight of any single box and I opted to have each radio in its own case and to move all power to its own box. This provides for a very modular system, though it does mean more boxes overall. I’m younger than the average ham, but I also didn’t want to risk a hernia! Since I would now have four separate boxes instead of two, I’d need new rear I/O panels for the radio cases in addition to the amp/tuner case. And it also meant more re-work. But hey, this is my first attempt and it would be silly to expect perfection right away.

Working with SNS Engineering on the design for the rear rack panels taught me a lot about what goes into designing and manufacturing fully custom equipment. It’s a lot more complicated than I ever imagined to properly engineer a product. That’s why I think Novexcomm has a good solution for the average ham. They make it simple to get a decent looking product, but if you’re willing to spend the time and money, you can do much better. SNS Engineering spent way more time than they probably should have and was very patient working around my impatience just to be done. In the end, we had to specify and agree on every single item on each panel, right down to the specific switch, circuit breaker, bulkhead connector, fan, guard, etc. At first, I didn’t want to deal with all the detail, but as they would send me 3D drawings, I began to realize that details really do matter. In the end, the front and rear rack mount panels from SNS are far and away higher quality than anything else I found and certainly better than anything I could build on my own.

So, what would my advice be to anyone interested in building a go box that looks more polished than something the average ham can homebrew? First, if you have a mobile radio you just want mounted in a box with a speaker and some antenna jacks, the iPortable box is good and relatively inexpensive. If you want something with a little cleaner front end but don’t want to spend many hours researching specific components, mounting hardware, and layout, the Novexcomm products are pretty decent. Just take note of my comments above and address them before you place any orders. If you want something for a stationary rack at home or you want the highest quality rack mounts for your portable rack cases, SNS Engineering is the way to go.

I’ve not fully finished the project. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I want to revisit some of the decisions I made. It means spending more than I originally thought I’d spend, and it means more re-do work, but it’ll be done right in the end. I plan to have SNS Engineering machine the rear panel for my IC-9700 box and the font panel for my power box. I also wish I had chosen to have rear panels the full size of the box instead of smaller panels. However, there is one advantage of using a 2U rear panel on a 3U box, for example. If I’m running solely on battery power, I don’t want to run the fans unless I absolutely have to. Having some open space means that unless it’s very hot outside, I’m operating in the sun, or running very high duty cycle, I can leave the fans off and conserve a bit more power. The fans in the radios and amp will keep the electronics cool. The fans on the back of the case just keep hot air from getting trapped in the case if it’s hot outside.

The purpose in writing this article is to describe some of the considerations you need to make in designing portable cases for your equipment and to review some of the options I found. I purposely left out a lot of the technical details because this article is long enough already. However, I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have. You can contact me by looking me up on QRZ.com. As they say, “I’m good on QRZed”.

The post Go-boxes for portable operation appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Gear/Gadgets, Mobile/Portable, Operating]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/2/19 7:15am

From NIST’s Taking Measure Blog:

What technological application has had musical, timekeeping, navigational, scientific, traffic-control, emergency-response, and telephone applications?

Answer: WWV, one of the world’s oldest continuously operating radio stations.

NIST received the call letters WWV a century ago, in 1919. Since then, it has operated the station from several different locations — originally Washington, D.C., then a succession of locales in Maryland, and now Fort Collins, Colorado.

The programming is rather dry but very, very useful. WWV broadcasts time and frequency information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to millions of listeners worldwide.

…read more

The post NIST radio station WWV celebrates a century of service appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: SWLing, Test Equipment]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/1/19 1:07pm

I’m on the ARRL pr mailing list, and there were two posts today from a couple of PR professionals that I thought were very good. So good, in fact, that I thought I’d share them with you.

From Bryan Jackson, W2RBJ, ARRL ENY PIO A couple of thoughts as a former journalist and PR professional…
  1. Weekends are a great opportunity for getting coverage.  Luckily, many Amateur Radio Events (like Field Day) take place on weekends when the news cycle is generally slow and media outlets are looking for stories to fill their news holes (I’ve had great luck getting coverage for weekend events).  Get an advisory out well ahead of time with the particulars, location, date and time.  Also, think about visuals for TV (Hoisting antennas, operators making contacts, etc).  Make sure you provide a contact name, phone and email.  I prefer giving a cell phone number so you’re less likely to miss a call.  Reporters can be lazy, so make their job as easy as possible.  A well written news release — no more than two pages — will go far.  And, don’t take a reporter’s knowledge for granted.  Make sure to use language and explanations that non-Hams can grasp… and don’t use acronyms unless you explain what they mean.  If you can, have a non-Ham read your advisory or release and see if they understand what it’s about (they can also check for misspellings and typos).
  2. Don’t forget weeklies, advertiser papers and community papers!  These outlets are usually looking for news to fill their pages to often will even run a well written news release verbatim, as they’re also usually short on editorial staff.  Most publish weekly, some monthly, so make sure you get the info out to them plenty of time in advance, especially if it’s an event you’re looking for the public to attend.  You can also submit a release that wraps-up the results of an event if you’re looking for coverage after the fact.  Many will also publish pictures you submit.  However, make sure they’re of decent quality and resolution.  Also, make sure you include a “cut line” with any pictures that describes what’s in them, as well as the identity of people being shown.  If it’s not someone in your club, you may wish to have people in the photo(s) sign a release.  Photography release forms can be readily found on the web with a quick Google search.  They are generally not required if they are taken at a public event or in a public area… but it never hurts to err on the side of caution.  If you are using pictures of minors, a release from a parent or legal guardian is usually advised.
  3. Finally, do a little legwork for best results.  If you’re doing a story with a particular slant, see if there’s a reporter who has worked on similar stories in the past.  This example is not directly applicable but it will give you an idea.  Recently, I was asked to get publicity for a memory garden that was being dedicated for a young woman who had been a community leader and who had been killed in an auto accident a few months previously.  I found the reporter who covered the original accident, as well as his email address.  I sent the news release I had written directly to him, along with some photos of the garden.  He ran the story in the paper, as well as online.  By the way, this was a major NYC suburban paper, too.

From Howard Price, KA2QPJ
President, Broadcast Employees Amateur Radio Society, Inc.

I am a news assignment editor for a major-market, network-owned television station, a working journalist for nearly 50 years – and an amateur radio operator — so allow me to contribute some tips:

  • First and foremost, most news organizations make their coverage decisions based on a combination of considerations: Staffing, geography, the press of major breaking news, the preferences of our audiences, the needs of our platforms (broadcast, web, print, etc.). Which means that to be a PIO today requires you to be aware of other things going on in the world when you pitch. And it requires you to have a sense of the types of stories most likely to be covered by the news organizations that you pitch.
  • A good formula for success: Prominence + Proximity + Consequence = Who Cares About Your Story. Is there a news “hook” on which you can hang your story beyond just amateur radio? Has there been a recent disaster in your area which disrupted communications? Has someone launched a cyberattack against your local emergency services – these are just two of the kinds of “hooks” or “angles” you can use to draw attention to the continuing relevance of ham radio in your area. Does your story take place or hit close to home? What’s the “real people” impact of the story you are trying to tell? You need to see your story through the eyes and ears of the viewer, reader or listener in order to determine the likelihood of someone covering it. It continues to shock me how rare it is to see local ham groups pitching media on their reponse to emergent stories like hurricane, tornadoes, winter storms, local power outages. These and similar events are golden opportunities for any ham group with a formalized response plan to get publicity.
    • Drop the “ham-ese.” Forgo jargon. Remember that most people wouldn’t know “ham radio” from a “ham sandwich.” People don’t care about your widgets and framuses. They care about WHAT those things can do for THEM.
    • Take a more professional approach to being a volunteer. If you’re part of a formal emergency communications response group, look the part. Don’t show up with badges and patches on every square inch of a hat or shirt or jacket. Think about a standard dress code for your team’s response to any organized event. Cliches are born of perception. Let’s remember that in order to convince people that amateur radio is more an geeky hobby, and in fact, remains an essential resource even in the age of the Internet, we need to get people to take us seriously and not fall back on stereotypes.
  • For TV, the event should be rich in compelling visuals. For radio, make sure you provide access to people who can explain complex technology in “real people speak” – and do so in soundbites of no more than 15 seconds. Seriously. For print and the web, make sure you have a compelling, resonant story to tell about how ham radio – an old, proven technology – remains relevant today. How it saved a life, provided help in catastrophe, reunited long lost friends in far away places by happenstance, etc.
  • Follow the Rule of One: ONE e-mail, ONE follow-up phone call.There’s been some discussion of faxing and snail-mail; trust me, e-mail is now the primary way we field story pitches now, along with news tip applications you’ll find on the websites and apps of most news organizations these days. DON’T call us when we’re on deadline, DON’T call us to pitch features during breaking news. A good rule of thumb is to pitch a week to 10 days in advance, and follow-up a day or two before the scheduled event. FEATURE coverage for a morning newscast is usually locked in the day before; for a midday newscast, by mid-morning; stories for the early evening shows are set around lunch time; and decision-making for late-night newscasts begins about 2pm. Again, these are rough guidelines for FEATURE stories – a newsroom’s typical daily “story budget” changes by the hour as breaking news dictates – which is why there is almost NEVER a guarantee of feature story coverage on any given day.
  • Schedule events to start on time, but run long enough to allow for late media arrivals. Yours is not the only event we may need to cover on a given day, or at a given time.
  • Pitch the big outlets, of course – but hyperlocal outlets are always looking for, and are focused on, great little community stories. Your community weeklies and online blogs will always be especially receptive to your pitch.
  • Start your own media channels: Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts – and YouTube Channels. All accommodate audio and video posts, and you control them.
  • Finally, build relationships. Pitching coverage is always easier and more successful when the people you are pitching know you personally and you know them. Become familiar with the people in each news organization that likely would be most receptive to your pitch: People who cover emergency services, technology, science, hobbies. The better your “personal connections,” the more likely it is you’ll be able to pitch your story to the right people and make sure the pitch is escalated to the ultimate decision-makers in each newsroom.

The post PR tips from the pros appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Promotion & PR]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/30/19 12:00pm

My ICQPodcast colleagues visited the UK National Hamfest over the weekend. Lo and behold, they spotted a copy of my CW Geek’s Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code at the Kanga Products booth. (Kanga is an advertiser here on KB6NU.Com. Click on their icon at right.)

Chris, M0TCH, holding a copy of my CW Geek’s Guide at the UK National Hamfest.

Dennis, G6YBC, the proprietor of Kanga purchased a bunch of the books at Dayton last year, and has been selling them ever since. Unfortunately, he had me sign the books. My friend Ralph, AA8RK, says that defacing them like that makes them less valuable. :)

Kanga carries a number of interesting kits and components, including the Foxx3 CW transceiver. Kanga has also partnered with my friend, John, KC9ON, who is the proprietor of 3rd Planet Solar. Kanga is now offering 3rd Planet Solar kits and vice versa.

For the complete ICQPodcast on the UK National Hamfest, go to the ICQPodcast website.

The post Spotted at the UK National Hamfest appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Books and Magazines, Kits, 3rd Planet, Kanga]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/29/19 12:13pm

Hams sometimes say that amateur radio was the original Internet. In the latest episode of The Secret History of the Future Podcast, New media, old story—the progress of radio, Tom Standage of The Economist and Seth Stevenson of Slate attempt to make that comparison. The blurb reads:

Radio was originally a social medium, as early radio sets (each of which could transmit as well as receive) turned cities into giant chatrooms, populated by Morse Code-tapping enthusiasts. But the excitement of this democratic, digital platform did not last, and radio was tamed by corporate interests in the 1920s. The utopian dream of platforms that are open and meritocratic has been reborn in the internet era in the form of blogging, and more recently podcasting. But can it ever come true?

It’s not really an in-depth study, but it does make an interesting comparison between the early days of radio and the early days of the Internet. I think that one of the things that the podcast misses or de-emphasizes is that ham radio really morphed into something of its own. It didn’t just morph into broadcasting. By the same token, the Internet didn’t just morph into an evil, completely ad-driven medium.

In this episode, they interview Dr. Susan Douglas, who is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Communication and Media here in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. One of the books she’s written is titled, Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. I’m planning on inviting her to speak to our amateur radio club.

The post New media, old story appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: History]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/27/19 9:28am

The ARRL’s Lifelong Learning program is now officially underway. About a month and a half ago, ARRL registered teachers were sent an email asking us to provide those running the program with the following information:

  • A brief explanation of our teaching backgrounds
  • Our areas of expertise related to amateur radio
  • Our experience with online learning and course development
  • Availability

I replied to that email, and three weeks later, I got another email from Kris Bickell, K1BIC, the ARRL’s Lifelong Learning manager, who listed four specific classes for which they were looking for developers. I expressed an interest in two of them—Introduction  to Amateur Radio Communications and Introduction to microcontrollers and amateur radio. A couple of weeks later, I got another email with a contract to develop a course outline for Introduction  to Amateur Radio Communications.

So, now, I have to come up with an outline by October 25. Being an introduction, I don’t think I need to cover the different aspects of amateur radio communications in any great depth, but rather broadly. I plan on including the following:

  • Emergency and public service communications
  • HF
  • VHF/UHF/microwave
  • Digital modes

I’m still thinking about how to organize this material, though. For example, should there be a separate unit on repeater communications? What aspects of HF communications should be included or be in a separate unit? Should different activities, such as contesting or special event stations be covered separately?

I’d be interested in hearing any thoughts that you might have on this, especially if you’re a newcomer to amateur radio.

The post Help me create an ARRL Lifelong Learning class appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Classes/Testing/Licensing]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/26/19 1:28pm

NXP is conducting a Homebrew Design Challenge for designs featuring their new LDMOS RF MOSFETS the 100W MRF-101 and the 300W MRF-300. Unfortunately, I just found out about this today by a post on reddit’s /r/amateurradio by Jim, WA2EUJ.

He writes:

The MRF-101 will completely revolutionize HF homebrew. It’s a TO-220 package that makes 100W, say good-bye to IRF amps.

My entry for the NXP Homebrew RF Design Challenge is a 100W, 1.8-54MHz amp on a 2″ X 2″ circuit board cooled with a CPU cooler.

Here’s his video:

You can find more detailed information about his entry here. These transistors do look very cool. Unfortunately, the challenge ends on October 31, so if you’re going to do this, you have to do it quickly.

The post NXP Homebrew Design Challenge appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Building/Homebrew, nxp]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/25/19 6:42pm

KC9SGV has started a mailing list for those interested in discussing the possibility of a geostationary satellite for North America. The description of the GEO groups.io mailing list reads:

GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) or Phase 4 B amateur radio satellite for the Americas discussions. Here we post the latest news towards achieving the final goal of procuring a GEO ham radio band satellite transponder for IARU Region 2, over both North America and South America.

Europe has QO-100.We will eventually have our own GEO sat. This could be an AMSAT-NA or a non-AMSAT solution. All contributions are welcome, especially images, links etc. to your satellite ground station hardware and software.

Even though it was only started a couple of days ago, there are already 128 members and eight topics of discussion. As Sun Ra says, “Space is the place!”

The post Mailing list to discuss geostationary satellite for North America takes off (pun intended) appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Satellites]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/24/19 2:25pm

This was forwarded to me by my section manager, Jim, K8JK….Dan

The text below is the official announcement of the retirement of the OO (Official Observer) program as we adopt the new VM (Volunteer Monitor) program on October 1st, 2019.

My personal thanks to our OOC Ken Coughlin, N8KC, and all the Michigan OO’s that devoted time and energy in keeping a watchful eye  for the benefit of all amateurs.

Forwarded text below, 73  Jim K8JK

As you are aware, the ARRL has spent more than two years working with the FCC developing an enhanced program to support the FCC Enforcement staff with monitoring and reporting alleged problems arising on the Amateur Radio bands. The time has come to transition from the former Official Observer (OO) program to the new Volunteer Monitor (VM) program. The OO program will officially sunset on Monday September 30, 2019. The new Volunteer Monitor program will become effective on Tuesday October 1, 2019.

At its July 2018 meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors authorized the implementation of the new Volunteer Monitor Program and the retirement of the existing OO program at the appropriate time. The new MOU with the FCC establishing the VM program was signed in the spring. On May 14, 2019, a solicitation was made for applications to join the new VM program. Many of you existing OOs applied for the new program after receiving a reminder notice in early July 2019. When the July 15, 2019 application deadline had passed, VM Program Administrator Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, interviewed nearly 200 applicants and began the selection process for the new program. Finally, the new program is ready to start.

The ARRL offers its deepest appreciation and gratitude for the dedicated work by the hundreds of OOs over the years. The cornerstone value of the OO program has always been a dedication to integrity. The good work of the Official Observers over the years was a key element in the corporative alliance between the FCC and the ARRL and led to the resolution of countless on-the-air problems. Whether sending compliance notices or “good operator” cards, you, the Official Observer, worked for the betterment of our hobby.

For those of you that have offered your services in the new VM program, your continued commitment is appreciated and valued. To those who decided not to apply for the new program, it is our sincere hope that you will enjoy exploring new challenges in this wonderful hobby of Amateur Radio.

To the various Section Managers – we appreciate the efforts and energy you committed to growing and supporting the OOs and OO Coordinators in your section. Your part in the maintenance of the OO program helped to guarantee its success. While the new Volunteer Monitor program will be developed and maintained at the ARRL Headquarters level, please offer support and suggestions to the VM Program Coordinator as the program develops.

If you served as a section OO Coordinator, the value of your work to the program may have been unnoticed by some. However, I can assure you that it was seen and appreciated by the ARRL HQ staff as they managed the program’s work.

On a personal note, as the Regulatory Information Manager at ARRL, I have worked with many of you involved with the OO program over the years. While reviewing potential cases to be sent to the FCC for consideration, I never had reason to doubt the integrity or veracity of any of the data received from the hardworking OOs. Please accept my personal thanks for your dedication and commitment over the years.

Good luck and see you on the air!


Dan Henderson, N1ND
Assistant Secretary – American Radio Relay League, Inc.
Regulatory Information Manager
ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio ®

The post Sun sets on the Official Observer program September 30, 2019 appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Official Observers, Virtual Monitor Program]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/23/19 10:18am

A recent study, Learning Morse Code Alters Microstructural Properties in the Inferior Longitudinal Fasciculus, has shown that learning Morse Code increases neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but from what I’ve read neuroplasticity is a good thing. It helps us learn new things, recover more quickly from injury, and overcome some brain deficits, depression and addictions, and reverse obsessive compulsive patterns.

In this study, researchers used Morse Code as a substitute for language learning while measuring changes in the brain’s white matter structure. One of the reasons for using Morse Code is that they felt that learning the code was a much better controlled and much faster way to experimentally assess learning a new language. The study showed that learning Morse Code increased white matter plasticiity. In a previous study, they showed that processing acoustically presented Morse Code activated a higher cognitive (and language related) network in the brain.

So, again, I’m not a doctor or a neuroscientist, but it sounds to me that learning and operating Morse Code is a good thing to keep the brain active and flexible. It’s another good reason for me to stay active on CW.

The post Learning Morse Code increases neuroplasticity appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: CW]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/22/19 4:14pm

From the subreddit /r/amateurradio…..

WWV is the US broadcast center of frequency distribution and measurement. In that spirit, during our centennial special event, WW0WWV is sponsoring frequency measurement as part of its activities. It will operate in full-carrier AM mode part of the time at an announced, accurate frequency and invite listeners to calibrate their receivers against its carrier. The station will also, on request, measure amateur station’s AM carriers and report their transmitted accuracy to them and include it on their QSO certificate. The involved WW0WWV station will be an NIST-traceable measurement system.

The Amateur Radio Science-Citizen Initiative, HamSCI, is also hosting a distributed data collection event. Amateurs, shortwave listeners, and others are invited to make a computer record of WWV 5 MHz signal’s Doppler shift during the centennial day, 1 October 2019 UTC. Resulting files may be uploaded for research analysis to a common server. Details and instructions may be found on HamSCI’s website, https://hamsci.org/wwv-centennial-festival-frequency-measurements

The post WWV Festival of Frequency Measurement appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Gear/Gadgets, Test Equipment]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/21/19 10:00am

The Raduino module is used in the uBITX.

I’ve been working with a major publisher on a book with the working title, Ham Radio for Hackers. It’s been an on again, off again kind of project for the past two years. Well, now it seems to be on again.

I’m going to revise the outline I created back in 2017 (see below) and then re-submit my proposal. It obviously needs to be revised. For example, we now have the Raspberry Pi 4, which could lend itself to a number ham radio hacking projects. We now also have Parks on the Air (POTA) in addition to WWFF.

I’d love to get your input on the outline, especially what else I might want to include in this book. Please contact me directly or comment below.

Ham Radio for Hackers
  • Hams were the original hackers
    • Ham radio history
    • An explosion of technology
    • Getting a license
    • Let the hacking begin!
  • Arduino Projects
    • DDS Signal Source/VFO. Inexpensive modules based on the Si5351 Clock Generator (www.etherkit.com/rf-modules/si5351a-breakout-board.html) coupled with an Arduino allow ham radio hackers to create very accurate signal sources at frequencies up to 160 MHz. These signal sources can be used in test equipment, such as antenna analyzers, or as replacements for crystals in in amateur transmitters.
    • K3NG Arduino Keyer. Anthony Good, K3NG, has developed an Arduino-based keyer, which is device that electronically produces the dits and dahs of Morse Code. The source code is open source, and other ham radio hackers have taken that code and built their own keyers on top of that. One example is the NanoKeyer (nanokeyer.wordpress.com). Designed by Oscar Diez, DJ0MY, it uses an Arduino Nano, which plugs into the keyer board. There are many other examples of projects that use this code.
    • UBITX 40 transceiver. The BITX40 transceiver (hfsigs.com) is a two board, single-sideband transceiver kit that’s perfect for hacking. Its frequency is controlled by a module called the Raduino, an Si5351 synthesizer controlled by an Arduino Nano. The software is open source, allowing users to to write code to add functionality such as adding more bands, receiver incremental tuning (RIT), dual VFOs, and CW and RTTY modes.
    • K6BEZ Antenna Analyzer. An antenna analyzer is an instrument amateur radio operators use to find the resonant frequency of an antenna and how well an antenna is tuned. Beric Dunn, K6BEZ, developed an inexpensive design based on the AD9850 modules (see above) and an Arduino (http://www.hamstack.com/hs_projects/k6bez_antenna_analyzer.pdf), and other hams have hacked that design, adding features, such as a full-color display (https://www.riyas.org/2015/04/a-simple-standalone-antenna-analyzer-with-ili9341tft.html)
    • Sidebar: The different flavors of Arduino. This sidebar will discuss the different flavors of Arduino-compatible boards that are out there, and give readers some guidance on which Arduino to choose for a particular task.
    • Sidebar: “Sketching” Arduino programs. This sidebar will discuss the Arduino software environment and give readers some guidance on how to write “sketches,” which is the term used to describe Arduino programs.
  • Raspberry Pi Projects
    • Software-defined radio (SDR). Many ham radio hackers are using Raspberry Pis running open-source software, such as gqrx (gqrx.dk/download/gqrx-sdr-for-the-raspberry-pi) or gnuradio (www.gnuradio.org) along with RTL-SDR dongles (www.rtl-sdr.com) to develop a wide range of software-defined radio projects.
    • WSPR transmitter. Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, or WSPR, is a digital mode ham radio hackers use for sending and receiving low-power transmissions to test propagation on the MF, HF, and VHF/UHF bands. Users with Internet access can watch results in real time at wsprnet.org. The RaspberryPi makes an excellent WSPR transmitter with a few added components (www.kb6nu.com/with-just-a-wspr/) and a simple antenna. Hackers can create their own shields or buy an assembled and tested shield (www.tapr.org/kits_20M-wspr-pi.html).
    • DSTAR/DMR hotspot. When coupled with a Raspberry Pi, the DV4mini USB stick (http://wirelesshold.com/) allows hackers to create their own D-Star, DMR, Fusion, or APCO25 hotspot.
    • Satellite Network Open Ground Station (SatNOGS). The SatNOGS project (satnogs.org) uses a Raspberry Pi 3 to create an open-source, networked ground station for amateur satellite operation. SatNOGS is a modular, scalable, and fully based on open source technologies and open standards, it provides interoperability with existing or future subsystems.
    • Sidebar: Let a Raspberry Pi run your shack
      • Packaging a Raspberry Pi
      • Logging software
      • Digital modes software
    • Sidebar: The different flavors of the Raspberry Pi. This sidebar will discuss the different versions of the authentic Raspberry Pi and some of the knockoffs that are available.
  • Hardware Hacking
    • The QRP “subculture.” In ham radio lingo, QRP means low-power operation, and there are many hams that operate only QRP transmitters (less than 5W output), finding it a real challenge. A characteristic shared by many of these QRP operators is that they are tinkerers, aka hackers. This section will talk about the QRP mindset and how to become part of this QRP subculture.
    • Finding parts. Now that Radio Shack is long gone where do you find parts? There are several electronics distributors online from whom you can purchase parts—and pay full price—but there are also a number of other sources for parts that can save you big bucks. These include hamfests eBay, and even Amazon.
    • Sidebar: Cheap Inexpensive Chinese parts and kits. In the past five to ten years, a number of Chinese companies have begun selling amateur radio kits on eBay. The prices for some of these kits is extremely low. So low that sometimes the price of the kit is actually less than one or two of the parts! That being the case, savvy ham hackers are buying the kits and repurposing the parts.
    • Schematic capture and circuit analysis tools. This section will discuss some of the online and standalone schematic capture and tools available for hackers. This will include, but is not limited to kicad, Digikey SchemeIt, and Fritzing.
    • Construction techniques. This will be a review of different construction techniques used by ham radio hackers. This will include protoboarding, vector boarding, and Manhattan style breadboarding techniques. In addition to these prototyping techniques, I’ll discuss how it’s gotten much easier and cheaper to have printed circuit boards made for your projects.
    • Hacking batteries. Batteries are an essential part of a ham’s equipment list, especially for portable and emergency operation. We’ll look at a few ways to save money on batteries and how to maintain them so that you can get the most out of them.
    • Tools and test equipment. This section will include a list of tools and test gear that every ham hacker should have.
    • Create custom enclosures with a 3D printer. Once a project is up and running, you gotta put the circuit board in some kind of enclosure. With a 3D printer, ham hackers can create custom enclosures on the fly for their ham radio projects.
    • Sidebar: Online and in-print resources to help you learn more about electronics.
  • Hacking Antennas
    Antennas are some of the easiest projects to tackle. This section will discuss several different DIY antenna projects.

    • 2m quarter wave vertical antenna (kb6nu.com/21-things-to-do-build-an-antenna/). This is often the first antenna that a ham hacker will build. It consists of a single SO-239 connector and five short pieces of stiff wire or welding rod. When properly mounted, if offers much better performance than the “rubber duck” antennas that come with most handheld radios.
    • Cheap Yagi antenna for satellite operation. You can buy a satellite antenna for $100 or more, but you can building one for a lot less (www.wa5vjb.com/references/Cheap%20Antennas-LEOs.pdf).
    • HF antennas. HF antennas are equally hackable, and you’ll be surprised what you can do with a spool of wire and some plastic insulators.
      • Dipoles and doublets
      • End-fed wires
      • Making your own open-wire feedline
  • Operating for the Ham Radio Hacker
    • Portable operation. Portable operation is a favorite of ham hackers. They pack up their stations and hit the road. To make operations more interesting there are a couple of organizations that encourage portable operation by offering awards to both “activators” who operate from remote locations, and “chasers,” who mostly operate from home, but try to contact as many activators as possible.
    • Summits on the Air (SOTA). SOTA encourages portable operation in mountainous areas. Their website—sota.org.uk—lists the summits that can be activated and has a spotting service that allows chasers and activators to more easily find one another.
    • Worldwide Flora and Fauna (WWFF). Like SOTA, WWFF encourages portable operation, but instead of summits, WWFF operators head to designated nature parks and protected nature areas. One of the goals of WWFF is to draw attention to these areas, while at the same time, providing ham radio operators with an interesting activity to pursue.
    • QRP operation. As mentioned above, QRP operation is all about the challenge of using low power. It’s no wonder then that so many ham hackers are QRPers.
    • CW? Yes, CW. Low-power operation requires that you get the most our of every milliwatt, and CW is a great mode for doing that. Not only is it an efficient mode, it doesn’t require the use of a computer, like the digital modes.
    • Digital modes. Digital modes do require a computer, but it’s almost magical what a computer can do. That’s why ham hackers are drawn to digital modes, such as JT9 and JT65. These modes allow the computer to literally pull a signal out of the noise.
    • Satellite operation. With a cheap, homebuilt Yagi antenna and a couple of handheld FM transceivers, ham hackers can make contacts via the low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
  • The Future of Ham Radio Hacking
    • Digital modes. Even though the number of digital modes has exploded in recent years, hackers will continue to work on ways to cram more data into the available bandwidth.
    • Data networking. Since the future is digital, data networking is going to be very important. As an example of this, I’ll take a look at what Faraday RF (faradayrf.com) is currently doing. They say, “We’ve developed Faraday and all necessary code to provide the hardware and software necessary to enable the shift towards a data-centric amateur radio.” And, it’s all open source.
    • Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is going to play role, not only in receiving and analyzing signals, but also in the human-radio interface. It won’t be long before some hams are saying, “Alexa, tune to 7.195 MHz, lower sideband mode” or “Alexa, find W1ABC on 40 meters and give him a call.”


The post Help me create my next book, <em>Ham Radio for Hackers</em> appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Books and Magazines, Building/Homebrew, Ham Radio for Hackers]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/19/19 7:01pm

Here we go again. I’m not sure why the ARRL think that they can push this through this time when they were unsuccessful last time, and when, as noted below, “The parties to the ARRL-arranged talks declined to forward to the FCC joint recommendations on which conditional agreement had been reached.” Do they think that the opponents are just going to give up?

It seems to me that the fly in the ointment here is that this proposal would allow data modes with a bandiwdth of more than 500 kHz outside the sub-bands currently established for automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS). As noted, “ARRL said if additional signals are added to the ACDS subbands, as recommended, that it would strongly support expanding the HF ACDS subbands. But, ARRL added, ‘changing the subband boundaries requires study and careful consideration of trade-offs, because any changes will affect multiple user interests.” ARRL referred subband reformulation issues to its HF Band Planning Committee for study and recommendations.'”

That being the case, shouldn’t this study be done before making this change to the rules? I would love for someone to explain this more to me……Dan

ARRL Bulletin 20 ARLB020
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT September 19, 2019
To all radio amateurs

ARLB020 ARRL Renews Request for FCC to Replace Symbol Rate with Bandwidth Limit

In ex parte comments filed on September 17 in WT Docket 16-239, ARRL renewed its request that the FCC delete symbol-rate limits for data transmissions in the Amateur Service rules. As it did in its initial filing, ARRL asked the FCC to couple the removal of the symbol rate limits with the adoption of a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit. In response to a 2013 ARRL Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11708), the FCC proposed deleting the symbol-rate limits but declined to replace them with the 2.8 kHz bandwidth that ARRL wanted.

The 2013 ARRL Petition for Rulemaking (RM-11708) can be found online in PDF format at, https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/7520958815.pdf .

“This proceeding addresses an update to the Commission’s rules that is needed because a limitation in the rules unintentionally is inhibiting US amateurs from employing the latest improvements to some of the digital modes,” ARRL said in its remarks. “Data signals commonly used for daily communications as well as in disaster situations have bandwidths in the range of 2.5 kHz and must co-exist with other modes that use bandwidths as narrow as 50 Hz.”

ARRL said the 1980s-era symbol-rate limits now inhibit the use of some efficient data modes. “The symbol rate limit uniquely prevents radio Amateurs in the United States from experimenting and innovating with a class of modern digital communication techniques that already are widely used in other countries,” ARRL told the FCC. “The limit also impairs the ability of Amateurs to improve support that they offer in times of disaster.”

Repealing the symbol-rate limit would “allow shortened transmission times for the same amount of data without increasing the bandwidth occupied by the signal,” ARRL contended. “Other Amateurs would benefit by the resulting reduction in potential interference.”

ARRL’s remarks also addressed issues raised by other parties. “Discussion by commenters in this proceeding delve into subjects well beyond its scope,” ARRL said, noting that it had attempted to broker consensus among “some of the most active commenters” with an eye toward exploring possible areas of agreement for the FCC’s consideration. ARRL noted that the parties to the ARRL-arranged talks declined to forward to the FCC “joint recommendations on which conditional agreement had been reached.”

“The issues discussed with the parties are outside the scope of this Docket and would require a further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking before final consideration,” ARRL observed. “Some of the same issues also are raised in petitions for rulemaking on which the Commission has sought comment. Given the policy as well as factual disagreements evidenced in the record, we understand that the Commission may decide to consider some of these issues.”

One of those issues involves automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS). Commenters’ concerns focused on interference that could occur with a move away from symbol-rate criteria. ACDS with signals wider than 500 Hz and below 29.7 MHz are confined to specific subbands. ARRL recommended that the FCC consider rule changes that would have all ACDS stations and digital stations with bandwidths greater than 500 Hz share identified subbands.

ARRL said if additional signals are added to the ACDS subbands, as recommended, that it would strongly support expanding the HF ACDS subbands. But, ARRL added, “changing the subband boundaries requires study and careful consideration of trade-offs, because any changes will affect multiple user interests.” ARRL referred subband reformulation issues to its HF Band Planning Committee for study and recommendations.

Some commenters also raised the issue of obscure and encrypted messages. ARRL pointed out in its ex parte remarks that it remains opposed to encryption in the amateur bands, but disagreed “with commenters who argue that the digital modes being used by radio amateurs around the world are per se ‘obscured’ or ‘encrypted.'”

ARRL noted that FCC rules permit the use of “new and innovative digital modes” without prior approval, if specified conditions are met. Digital techniques must use approved codes with publicly documented technical characteristics, and their purpose must be to facilitate communication and not to obscure content.

“Some commenters allege that specific messages violate the Commission’s rules governing encryption, third-party messages, pecuniary interests, objectionable language, or commercial carriage,” ARRL noted, and they have called for open-source decoding software to aid in enforcing the applicable rules. “We observe that recently there have been laudable efforts at self-policing,” ARRL said. “Unresolved complaints are appropriately handled as enforcement matters rather than as rulemaking matters.”

ARRL concluded, “It is vital that the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service facilitate continuation of its experimental traditions and purposes. Using the Amateur spectrum ‘sandbox’ for innovation and development of new ideas and technologies is of significant public benefit.”

The post ARRL renews request for FCC to replace symbol rate with bandwidth limit appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Digital Modes, Rules, Regulations, Enforcement]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/19/19 12:16pm
They may be building nanosatellites, but there’s nothing small about Villanova’s CubeSat Club

Villanova’s CubeSat club was launched in fall 2018 and has taken great strides for such a young club. The CubeSat club’s 2018-2019 year was packed with a variety of workshops and projects, including:

  • Setting up temporary ground stations called SatNOGS (Satellite Network Operators Group)
  • Building Yagi-Uda antennas from tape measurers and scrap wood and using them to track low earth orbit satellites as they flew over Villanova
  • Building an AMSAT CubeSat Simulator, a functional satellite model
  • Assisting with the freshman CubeSat mini-design projects
  • Earning amateur radio licenses and ham radio callsigns
  • Assembling and selling electronic transceiver boards used in CubeSats as a fundraiser
  • Attending the 2019 Hamvention conference and running the AMSAT education table
  • Received and decoded a special message sent from the AO-73 FunCube Satellite especially for Villanova

Space ham: Local radio operators present program at library

SOUTH POINT – The Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association is always trying to expand the interest in ham radio and does many public events to spread the world. But a recent request had the club reaching beyond the earth’s stratosphere. Jan Gullett, Briggs Lawrence County Public Library Southern Branch children’s reading librarian, asked the members of SOARA to present an introduction to ham radio, but with a twist……

I was able to visit this museum when I went to Dayton this year. It’s a very cool place, and I plan to go again, perhaps next year……Dan

National VOA Museum of Broadcasting Plans Anniversary Party

Her six massive transmitters may be quiet, but she is far from silent.

Amateur radio operators routinely talk to the world from station WC8VOA in West Chester, Ohio, located about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. This former VOA relay station is now the National VOA Museum of Broadcasting with collections from the Gray History of Wireless Museum; Powel Crosley Jr., and Cincinnati radio and TV broadcasting history; and the Voice of America. Next week the museum celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Bethany Station Saturday, Sept. 21, with a fundraiser to make the first floor of the museum accessible for people for all abilities.

The post Amateur radio in the news: Villanova students get ham tickets, club presents at library, VOA museum plans anniversary party appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Clubs, Kids, Promotion & PR, Satellites, CubeSat, Villanova, VOA]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/17/19 11:42am

A recent missive from Tom, W8WTD, the ARRL Great Lakes Division Vice Director reads:

Of the many ways that ham radio has changed over the years, one of them has to be in the operating habits of many of us. It used to be that you could find contacts on the HF bands easily, whenever they were open. (As an operator who prefers SSB, I wish we were at a different point in the sunspot cycle. Oh well….) Of course, there are still some contacts to be made. But not as easily. Maybe our schedules provide us with so many more things to do that we allocate less time to radio.

So “events” become more important. Probably the biggest event to bring out lots of activity of HF was the National Parks on the Air several years ago. It was the right combination of contesting, contacting, portable operating, etc., to really make a hit with hams and get a lot of radio waves stirred up.

There are still lots of operating events to take advantage of. For example, the state QSO parties usually do well for participation. So if you’re looking for an “event,” you can probably find something to operate in most weekends.

A short-term “event” sponsored by ARRL is coming up right now. The Hiram Percy Maxim Birthday Celebration starts on August 31st and runs through September 8th. Full details are on the ARRL website or in the September issue of QST.

Some of us need an “excuse” to get on the air, or at least an assurance that we’ll find stations to work. This is a good one. Hope we take advantage of it.

Doesn’t it seem kind of crazy that we need an excuse to get on the air? Shouldn’t something being fun to do be its own excuse? And, if it’s not fun, why do it at ll?

As far as operating events go, events like the ARRL’s 100th Anniversary event and National Parks on the Air thing were great. They added to the fun of operating, but this Hiram Percy Maxim thing seemed too contrived. I guess if we need an excuse, it should be a good excuse.

The post Do you need an excuse to get on the air? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Operating]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 9/16/19 1:49pm

I’ve noticed more obituaries than normal recently in my amateur radio news feed. 73 my friends….Dan

MURRAY, Marion P. “Pat” (Enigan), NW2I

Age 95, passed away peacefully in her home in East Aurora on August 16, 2019. Pat was an amateur radio enthusiast (HAM radio operator NW2I) and a member of Lancaster Radio Club and Stars Radio Club & Pros.


David D. Beatty, Sr., KC8WY

David D. Beatty, Sr., 74, passed away Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

He worked for General Motors as an assembler, where he retired after 27 years of service. He was a member of Western Reserve Amateur Radio Club. He loved motorcycles and ham radio; his call sign was KC8WY.

Allen C. Clausen, WD9DTJ

Allen Cleo Clausen, age 75, passed away peacefully at Wisconsin Veterans Home – Boland Hall in Union Grove on Friday, August 16, 2019 following a longtime struggle with Multiple Sclerosis.

Among his interests, Al was a ham radio operator “WD9DTJ” and was a longtime member of local amateur radio clubs; was an accomplished pilot; Past-President of the Racine Police Credit Union; was an avid fisherman who always looked forward to participating in Salmon-A-Rama; and enjoyed socializing with friends over a cup of coffee.

Hal R. Warren

Hal R. Warren, 71, of Weston, Ohio died Saturday, September 14th, 2019 at Regency Hospital, Sylvania, Ohio.

Hal loved electronics and worked as an electrician for most of his life. He was known as “N8HML” in the world of amateur radio and spent many hours communicating in Morse code to other Ham Radio enthusiasts all over the world. He surrounded himself with family and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who he adored and loved.

 A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 19th, 2019 at Rodenberger-Gray Funeral Home, Napoleon, Ohio, where friends may call from 4-7 p.m.


The post Amateur radio in the news: Recent SKs appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Amateur Radio in the News]

As of 10/13/19 11:59pm. Last new 10/13/19 5:15pm.

Next feed in category: AmSat UK