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[l] at 7/6/20 7:23am

I’ve gotten some nice feedback from readers in the past couple of days, and I thought I’d share them with you. Comments like these really keep me motivated.

Kyle wrote:

Just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for your great books. After being a Tech for 18 years, I finally got around to getting my General because of your book. Now I’m working on my Extra! Thanks for the resource. You’ve really opened up the hobby for me. Over the weekend, I activated my first summit for SOTA and really enjoyed it. Hope all is well with you and thanks again.

Eric writes:

I read your study guide and took my Technician exam today and got 35 for 35. Great book, easy to read. It helped me immensely. Just wanted to say thank you.

Del writes:

I just wanted to thank you for the free Technician’s PDF and the very modestly priced Anki “smaht” flash cards. With the two of those and about 4 weeks of study I just passed my Technician’s Exam this morning. No call sign yet, of course, but my smile will suffice in the meantime.

Jay writes:

 I passed!!!!! Wooooohooooo! You made the difference. Your book is what put me here. Thank you.

The post It’s nice to be appreciated appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Books and Magazines, study guides, testimonials]

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[l] at 7/5/20 2:58pm

On the amateur radio subreddit, someone posted this little bit of commentary from a 1967 issue of Electronics Illustrated:


The question is, is this argument rational or irrational? I’m just old enough to remember when we talked about frequencies in “kay-cees” and radio dials (yes, they had dials back then, too) were marked in “kc,” or more correctly, “kc/s.” My take on this is that referring frequencies in cycles per second is a lot more rational, at least a lot more self-explanatory, than referring to them as Hertz.

Most of my readers will blow this off as the ranting of an old ham, that is to say me. But, listen for a second. I teach a lot of newcomers. Part of that is teaching them the terminology, including the concept of frequency. It would be a lot easier if we could leave it as “cycles per second” instead of saying that we call one cycle per second a  hertz, and then explain why we do so.

One fellow replied, “Obviously written by a luddite refusing to accept the SI system of units.” my reply to that is, “Mr. Cartwright doesn’t have a problem with the SI system at all, just the name of one of the units. And, if you ask me (I know you didn’t ask, but let’s just say that you did for the sake of this argument), he has a point. “Cycles per second” is a literal description of the unit and its meaning is more obvious than hertz, which has to be explained.”

So, while the horse is long out of the barn, and there’s no way to get it back, I do sometimes wish we hadn’t made the change from c/s to Hz.

The post Wishful thinking never hertz appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Electronics Theory, Hertz, SI]

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[l] at 7/3/20 6:42am

My club cancelled the club Field Day event this year. I operated from home, and was quite surprised to work stations  operating Class 2A, 3A, etc. I guess that hams around the country are more blase´ about covid-19 than we are here in Michigan….Dan

 


Area amateur radio operators participate in ARRL Field Day

DUBOIS (PA) — American Radio Relay League members across the nation participated in the organization’s annual Field Day last weekend. Clubs in Treasure Lake, Clearfield County, and Crooked Creek, Armstrong County, set up their amateur radio equipment in remote locations to demonstrate how hams operate with little or no public infrastructure. Steve Smith, a representative of the Treasure Lake Sportsman’s Club’s amateur radio club, said his group had a good turnout for the event. “It was a rainy day, but we had about 50 people show up,” he said. Attendees were a mixture of club members, ham operators and members of the general public interested in exploring the modern version of a vintage hobby.

 


Local HAMs have Amateur Radio Field Day

MONTE VISTA (CO) – June 27 and 28, the San Luis Valley Amateur Radio Association (SARA) joined Amateur Radio, also known as HAM radio operators, around the country in a 24 hour Field Day. The operation was set up in the parking lot of Calvary Baptist Church, and the group had to erect a towering antenna and two other shorter ones  to connect them with the world. Using a generator and other alternative power sources including solar power the local HAMs were able to contact other HAMs thousands of miles away. Working in shifts they were able to keep going from noon Saturday to midnight Sunday.

 


Here’s a club that did take “social distancing to heart….Dan

Social distancing the norm for Ramona ham radio club

In this new age of physical distancing, members of at least one club are old pros. For years, Ramona amateur radio enthusiasts have been meeting each other, sharing special and mundane aspects of their daily lives, and participating in large events—usually with physical distancing well in place.

That’s because the operators, also known as “hams,” operate on handheld or mobile radios. These radios are different from the widely known citizen band, or “CB” radios, that anyone can purchase and talk on, because ham radio operators must be licensed.

As president of the Ramona Outback Amateur Radio Society (ROARS), Steve Stipp says COVID 19 has caused the club to make some changes, but it hasn’t slowed them down.

The post Amateur radio in the news: Field Day 2020 edition appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Operating, Field Day]

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[l] at 7/1/20 12:22pm

Being a member of the IEEE, I get a number of different emails from them. A week ago, I got an email from the IEEE Communications Society advertising a new white paper from Rohde&Schwartz titled, The Rebirth of HF. The blurb reads:

High frequency (HF) communications were once the primary means of global connectivity until terrestrial Internet and satellites.  Recent technological advancements have led to a “rebirth” of HF as a viable alternative for mission-critical connectivity. Learn the fundamentals behind HF propagation, plus new developments that make HF a practical means of modern, global communications.

The white paper does a pretty good job of describing the fundamentals of HF. I think that I’ll be recommending it as a primer to hams that take my classes.

It goes on, though, to describe how some companies are now using HF frequencies in sophisticated ways to enhance digital communications. In particular, it describes how some systems are now using 48 kHz wide channels to achieve data rates up to 240 kilobits per second.

One thing that this white paper makes clear is that commercial and military interests have not given up on HF. We need to stay vigilant about that.

To download the paper for yourself, click here. You’ll be asked for some information, but you’ll be quickly sent the download link, and if you note that you’re a ham radio operator, it’s doubtful that the company will try to contact you. I’ve downloaded a bunch of R&S white papers, and they’ve never tried to sell me anything.

The post The rebirth of HF? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Communications Theory, Propagation]

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[l] at 6/29/20 6:51pm

So, how was your Field Day? Here, it was a lot different than usual. Our club cancelled the big event and everyone operated in some way from their homes. The bad thing, of course, is that Field Day wasn’t the big party that it usually is, but the good thing is that it gave me a chance to try some things that I probably would not have otherwise. And, I still had a lot of fun.

The setup

First of all, I decided to operate Class 1B-Battery.  I used my KX3, set to 5 W output and a BioEnno battery. Here’s a photo of the station:

Not only did I power the station with a battery, I charged the battery and operated from solar power. That box next to the battery is an DIYSolar4u MPPT solar charge controller that was connected to this solar panel:

This solar panel was manufactured by a company here in Michigan called Uni-Solar, which was a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices. Unfortunately, this company went out of business eight years ago, but our club made a big purchase of these panels at liquidation prices. The panel and the charge controller worked like a charm, and I ended the day Sunday with a fully-charged battery.

For an antenna, I used the antenna that we normally use at our GOTA station, a 40-meter/20-meter fan inverted-V supported by the military-surplus fiberglass mast. I set this up in the flower bed in front of my house, trying mostly successfully to avoid trampling the flowers and plants there.

How did I do?

I think that I did pretty well. In about 12 hours of operating, I managed to make 225 QSOs, mostly on 40-meter CW. I did try a bit on 15 meters and 20 meters for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon, but the bands weren’t that good and no one was really hearing me. I made no contacts on 15 meters, and only a few on 20 meters.

One mistake that I made was to go to bed early Saturday night, so that I could get  up early Sunday morning. I went to sleep at 10 pm and got up at 4 am. I think that in doing this, I missed some prime operating time. I should have tried to stay up till 2 am and then get up around 8 am. I did get to see the sun come up, though, and that was pleasant.

Another pleasant thing was that even though I was running only 5 W, I was able to “run” a frequency a couple of times before a higher power station chased me off. I’m guessing that I made about a dozen contacts during those two periods.

About 10:30 am or so, I had just over 200 contacts, and I was thinking that maybe I could hit 250. Right about that time, though, the activity just tanked. I stuck it out until just before 1 pm, when I hit 225.

Funny story: Sunday evening, some club members got on 2m to share our Field Day experiences. One guy mentioned that he operated FT8 and FT4, and after deleting dupes, he had 226! That kind of frosted me. I probably could have pounded out two more had I known he was at 226.

Bonus points

I did get to do some things to score bonus points that I don’t normally do at our club Field Day operation. It’s not that I don’t want to do them, but they’re normally assigned to other members. For example, Jay, WB8TKL, normally does the traffic handling. Well, this year, I originated some traffic of my own. Of course, Jay is the one who took the traffic from me. Thanks, Jay!

I also set up a public information table:

I set this down by the street  so folks walking by could take one of the flyers underneath the plastic cover. A couple of people did, too, although one of them was my next-door neighbor, and I kind of coerced into taking it.

As she was walking by on Sunday morning, I noticed that she was eying my antenna. I called down to her, “Don’t worry. This is coming down this afternoon.” I also explained a little bit about what I was doing and then got her to take a flyer.

I also:

  • Copied the bulletin.
  • Tweeted while I was operating for the social media bonus.
  • Sent out  a press release (although I never made the news).

I’ll also collect some bonus points for submitting my logs electronically.

What did I miss?

I did, of course, miss some of the regular Field Day happenings:

  • The food, of  course. Every year, someone seems to step up and put on a nice Saturday evening dinner.
  • Hanging out with my friends, swapping stories about past Field Days.
  • Helping newcomers and non-hams make contacts at the GOTA station. Every year, we get one or two folks who just take to it, and introducing them to the fun of ham radio is just a blast for me.
  • Did I mention the food?

While this year’s Field Day was fun, let’s hope that next year we can return to a more traditional Field Day.

The post A different kind of Field Day, but still a lot of fun appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Everything Else, Field Day]

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[l] at 6/29/20 12:27pm

So, I just got this email:

Hi Dan,

I was searching for a study guide for a friend of mine who wants to get his Tech class license. I came across the PDF version of your study guide, downloaded it and started going through it.

I don’t know if it is just me (as I am blind and use a screen reader), but I can not believe how many misspellings there are in this document. For example, the word “find” is always missing the letter “i”. Was this done on purpose? It would make me hesitant to recommend the purchase of the physical book.

Just curious.

Thanks,
John

No one has ever mentioned this to me before, so, I downloaded a fresh copy from my website. Just looking at it, all the words seem correct, but searching for words gives me different results. When I searched for “find,” there were three results, all spelled correctly. When I searched for “fnd,” however, there were 14 results, and when I looked for them in the text, the complete word “find” appears. See the screen shot below.

Click to see a bigger version of this screen shot.

This happens in both the browser’s PDF viewer and the Mac Preview app, so I’m guessing that the problem is with the PDF file, not the programs

I’m not sure what to make of this, except perhaps that when I created the PDF (I use Libre Office on a Mac), some words got mangled in the export process, such that the fellow’s screen reader and the PDF viewer search functions aren’t seeing some characters even though they are there in the text. I don’t know what screen reader he’s using, but I’ve sent a reply asking for that information. I’ve also asked what other words he’s seeing as misspelled.

Have any of you ever seen something like this? Can you think of anything that I might do to fix my PDF files?

The post Odd problem with my Tech study guide PDF appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Books and Magazines, 2018 Tech Study Guide, PDF]

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[l] at 6/26/20 2:11pm

Here are some articles in the QST archives that I think you will find not only amusing, but useful.

July 1920

CW for the Amateur, Howard L. Stanley, 2FS. A fanciful look at the author’s experiments with vacuum tubes. This at a time when most amateurs were still using spark-gap transmitters.

July 1970

The Ultimate Transmatch, by Lew McCoy, W1ICP. This article was part of the “Beginner and Novice” series, published in QST in those days. These articles are still a wealth of information for hams, both new and old. This article describes why an antenna tuner might be desirable, and how to build one that will tune coax-fed antennas, balanced-line-fed antennas, and random wire antennas.

Also notable: Power Line Interference: Its Causes and Methods of Location, by Robert G. Hollowell, W4USQ.

July 1995

A Wideband 80-Meter Dipole, by Rudy Severns, N6LF. This antenna is a folded dipole with a “resonator wire” inserted between the two folded dipole elements. By lengthening or shortening the wire, you can tune the antenna so its feedpoint impedance is 450 Ω. Connect that to a 9:1 balun, and you get an impedance of 50 Ω. The author shows that his antenna has an SWR of 1.6:1 or less across the entire 80-meter/75-meter band.

Also notable: Amateur Radio on the World Wide Web, Part 2, by Steve Bible, N7HPR.

 

The post 100, 50, and 25 Years Ago in the July QST appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: antennas, Building/Homebrew, EMI/RFI, On the Internet, W1ICP]

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[l] at 6/25/20 8:14am

Yesterday, I had the pleasure addressing the Denby Dale Amateur Radio Society (DDARS), delivering my talk, “Having Fun with Morse Code” to them. In this time of quarantining and social distancing, the DDARS has done a remarkable thing. Not only have they set up Zoom meetings, but they meet weekly, and they’ve managed to get some great speakers. For example, Bob Heil, K9EID, of Ham Nation fame, preceded me. Next week, one of their members, Ken, G4VZV, will talk about pedestrian mobile operation; and he’ll be followed by someone from the Long Island CW Club.

According to Nick, G4IWO, everyone’s welcome to attend. They meet on Wednesdays at 1830 UTC. You’ll find a link to the Zoom meeting on the DDARS website. If you can’t make it that early, you can see the recordings on the DDARS YouTube channel.

The post KB6NU regales the Denby Dale ARS on the pleasures of operating CW appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Clubs, CW, Denby Dale]

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[l] at 6/24/20 7:33am

PowerPoles have become ubiquitous in amateur radio stations.

In preparation for this year’s Field Day, I made a bunch of cables with PowerPole connectors to connect the solar panel, charge controller and batteries. I’m sure that I’m not the only one doing this.

Normally, I don’t bother trying to secure the two halves together. You can buy a little roll pin to insert between the red and black housing that prevents them from coming apart, but some folks complain that the pin has a tendency to fall out, defeating the purpose.

This morning, though, in the daily digest that I receive from the Elecraft-KX mailing list, there was a link to the thread, Securing Anderson Power Poles. I liked some of the suggestions so much, I decided to summarize them here:

  • Dan W7UP: See QST Hints & Kinks “Tie Your Powerpoles” Jan 2012, page 64
  • Rudy K8SWD: Anderson has little plastic doohickeys (technical term) that fit into the holes where the roll pin goes that holds the connection together. I have one that either came from Elecraft or with my solar panel-can’t remember…but it works well. Powerworx has them. You can also thermal bond with a soldering iron like you are making little welds on both sides. Permanent (mostly) but it works better than the roll pins. Just clean the tip really good before soldering!
  • Joe Street: A small cable tie also works but is not as planet friendly.
  • Dave K0CDA: [Anderson] also make connectors that are thermally bonded together in pairs.  They do NOT come apart.
  • Don W3FPR: I use a drop of Super Glue on the junction of the plastic pieces. Warning – that glue grabs quickly, so slide the 2 pieces onlyl enough to start the assembly, then apply the drop of glue and quickly finish sliding them together. I have never had ones prepared like that come apart, and I don’t use roll pins. I will say one more thing – use only the genuine APPs. I have seen some knockoffs that do not mate well.
  • Dave AE7FD: There are clips that lock PowerPoles together. See https://powerwerx.com/powerpole-connector-retention-clip.
  • Greg KC9NRO: Take a hot soldering iron. Wipe the tip with sponge. Run the tip down both side of APP bonding the black and red sides together. Clean soldering iron tip and apply some solder to tip. That’s how I roll. Never comes apart
  • Mike AI4NS: PVC cement will soften the plastic enough to bond them together. You can also get plastic welding rods, such as Daindy Plastic Welding Rods. Chuck a rod in a Dremel and weld them together. I have made plastic boxes and panels using this method.
  • Jack WD4E: Snip the cotton end off a Q-tip, cutting at an angle.  Insert into hole made for roll pin, cut off excess, save remainder of Q-tip for next requirement.
  • Troy K4JDA: 2.5mm screws work well, stay in, and are easily removable.

I think these are all great suggestions. I think that I’m going to try the cotton swab method. While reading them, another thought occurred to me. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m thinking a little drop of hot glue on the roll-pin hole might work, too.

The post Securing PowerPole connectors appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Building/Homebrew, PowerPole]

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[l] at 6/22/20 1:30pm

In this episode, I joined Martin M1MRB, Leslie Butterfield G0CIB, and Edmund Spicer M0MNG to discuss the following:

This episode’s feature is an interview with Rob Sherwood, NC0B. Normally, we associate Rob with his receiver testing. His latest crusade, however, is to get manufacturers to improve their transmitter performance. It’s a good listen.

The post ICQ Podcast Episode 327 – Transmitter Performance with Rob Sherwood NC0B appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Building/Homebrew, Emergency Communications / Public Service, EMI/RFI, Satellites, Collins, FUNcube, Sherwood]

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[l] at 6/21/20 2:22pm
The chicks have flown the nest!

I took this photo on Friday, not more than 36 hours before the chicks flew the nest.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been hosting a robin family in the crook of a downspout just above our front deck. This really is a perfect spot for a nest. It’s protected from the rain, and any four-legged predators would have to climb up the downspout somehow to get to the eggs or chicks. I like hosting the robins, but we also enjoy eating dinner there, reading, and just generally enjoying the summer.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Field Day? Well, this is also the spot where I intend to set up my Field Day station. I was hoping that the chicks would be gone by then, and now it appears that they have flown the nest, and I’ll be able to operate Field Day without disturbing the care and feeding of robin chicks.

Giving my KX3 a workout

Since our club has cancelled its big operation, I’ve decided to operate 1B-Battery this year. I’ll be running my KX3 from a BioEnno battery. The KX3 is a great radio, but I haven’t used it since last August, so I thought I better get it out of the tool box where I keep it and log a few hours on it before Field Day.

So far, so good. There have been a couple of DX stations that couldn’t hear me when I called that probably would have heard me had I been running 100 W, but overall, I’ve had some pretty decent QSOs so far.

I do miss not having a panadapter, though. It’s one of those things that you really get used to having.

Solar power

To qualify for the 1B-Battery class—and the 5x QSO multiplier—the battery has to be charged from some kind of alternate power. To meet this requirement, I obtained a used solar panel from a friend in our club, purchased an MPPT charge controller he recommended, and built up a bunch of cables to connect everything together.

This evening, I’ll be testing that setup with an old gel cell battery that I’ve had around the shack for several years. If that goes OK, I’ll connect up the BioEnno battery and be ready to roll for Field Day.

If any of you have operated Class 1B-Battery, I’d love to hear about your experience, and what to watch out for.

 

The post Operating notes: Field Day 2020 prep – the chicks have flown the nest! appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, Field Day]

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[l] at 6/21/20 2:22pm
The chicks have flown the nest!

I took this photo on Friday, not more than 36 hours before the chicks flew the nest.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been hosting a robin family in the crook of a downspout just above our front deck. This really is a perfect spot for a nest. It’s protected from the rain, and any four-legged predators would have to climb up the downspout somehow to get to the eggs or chicks. I like hosting the robins, but we also enjoy eating dinner there, reading, and just generally enjoying the summer.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Field Day? Well, this is also the spot where I intend to set up my Field Day station. I was hoping that the chicks would be gone by then, and now it appears that they have flown the nest, and I’ll be able to operate Field Day without disturbing the care and feeding of robin chicks.

Giving my KX3 a workout

Since our club has cancelled its big operation, I’ve decided to operate 1B-Battery this year. I’ll be running my KX3 from a BioEnno battery. The KX3 is a great radio, but I haven’t used it since last August, so I thought I better get it out of the tool box where I keep it and log a few hours on it before Field Day.

So far, so good. There have been a couple of DX stations that couldn’t hear me when I called that probably would have heard me had I been running 100 W, but overall, I’ve had some pretty decent QSOs so far.

I do miss not having a panadapter, though. It’s one of those things that you really get used to having.

Solar power

To qualify for the 1B-Battery class—and the 5x QSO multiplier—the battery has to be charged from some kind of alternate power. To meet this requirement, I obtained a used solar panel from a friend in our club, purchased an MPPT charge controller he recommended, and built up a bunch of cables to connect everything together.

This evening, I’ll be testing that setup with an old gel cell battery that I’ve had around the shack for several years. If that goes OK, I’ll connect up the BioEnno battery and be ready to roll for Field Day.

If any of you have operated Class 1B-Battery, I’d love to hear about your experience, and what to watch out for.

 

The post Operating notes: Field Day 2020 prep appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, Field Day]

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[l] at 6/20/20 4:53pm

Here are some of the student in my first online Tech class.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Bob, W7JNM.  He said that he had assembled a group of people who wanted to take a Technician class and would I consider teaching an online class. Honestly, I was a little hesitant. One of the reasons was that I was pretty sure that I couldn’t teach it in a single day. Another was I didn’t know how well my style of teaching would translate to an online format.

Another possible “gotcha” would be arranging testing. I knew that the W5YI Group had started remote testing, but I wasn’t sure if they were doing group testing yet or not.  Bob, however, took care of that in short order. He contacted the W5YI Group, who referred him to Al, WB5QNG, who contacted me and we worked out the arrangements.

With that out of the way, I decided to go ahead with the class. To break things up, I decided to try four, two-hour sessions, spread over two weeks. We met  at 9pm EDT, 6pm PDT. My plan was to cover the following topics:

  • Tuesday, June 9
    • Electrical Principles
    • Electronic Components and Circuit Diagrams
  • Thursday, June 11
    • Radio Wave Characteristics
    • Antennas and Feed Lines
  • Tuesday, June 16
    • Amateur Radio Signals
    • Electrical Safety
    • Amateur Radio Practices and Station Setup
  • Thursday, June 18
    • Station Equipment
    • Operating Practices
    • Commission’s Rules

After the fourth class, the students were to go to the website where they would take the test.

This schedule worked out pretty well, except for the last class. I never did get to cover the rules and regulations. Fortunately, that didn’t deter the students.

One thing I was a bit leery of is how I would be able to do equations, like I do on the whiteboard in a face-to-face class. That turned out to be not as big an issue as I thought it would be. For the first class, I used the Zoom whiteboard, as shown below.

 

For subsequent sessions, I shared my screen with the class and used the Sketchbook drawing application. During the course of the class, I also upgraded from a small Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet to a larger Gaomon drawing tablet.

We started out with 11 on the initial class roster, but two never showed up, and a third dropped out after one class. The remaining 8 stuck with it until the end. Seven of the eight passed the test on Thursday evening. The eighth had a medical event and was unable to take the test. She’s planning to do it soon, though.

So, all in all, I’d say that this first class was a success. So much so, that I’m planning on doing it again in July. I already have a half dozen people on my mailing list. If you know of someone who might be interested in the class, have them sign up to get on my mailing list. I can foresee doing this once a month, actually.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to Don, KB2YSI. I thought about doing this on Google Meet instead of Zoom, because Zoom only allows free meetings to last 40 minutes, and I didn’t know if I wanted to pop for a paid account just yet. When I mentioned this on Twitter, Don stepped up and said that we could use his account. Thanks, Don! I probably will pay for my own account for the July class, but Don certainly got me started in the right direction.

 

The post First online class: 7 of 8 pass test, #8 to test soon appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Classes/Testing/Licensing]

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[l] at 6/19/20 8:26am

This just in from Icom:

Icom recommends using over-the-counter isopropyl alcohol, with a concentration of 70% to 80% diluted with water, on a soft, dry cloth

Recommended Cleaning Guidelines for Icom Radios and Accessories

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Icom is providing recommended cleaning guidelines for Icom radios and accessories.

Cleaning
  1. Turn off the radio to avoid heat generation or a malfunction.
  2. Apply over-the-counter isopropyl alcohol, with a concentration of 70% to 80% diluted with water, on a soft, dry cloth and gently wipe down the surfaces of the product.
    1. Do not apply or spray the solution directly on the product, or soak it in the solution.
    2. Avoid wiping the antenna or the transparent acrylic plate of the display as much as possible since rubbing alcohol can damage resin parts.
  3. Make sure that the product batteries are sufficiently dry before using or charging them.

Do not use bleach or detergents, even if diluted. It may cause damage or deterioration.

IMPORTANT
  1. We recommend disinfecting your hands before and after using the product.
  2. We do not guarantee compatibility with all rubbing alcohols. We recommend that you first try it on an inconspicuous part of the product.
  3. Carefully read the precautions for rubbing alcohol before using it.
  4. In the unlikely event that the product is damaged, or malfunctions due to rubbing alcohol, the cost of repairs or replacement of parts may be borne by the customer.
Regular Care (Dirt Removal)

Wipe the product off with a soft, dry cloth. If it is extremely dirty, wipe it with a soft cloth moistened with water. Never use detergent or organic solvents (thinner, benzine, and so on). It may cause damage, paint peeling, or deterioration.

Keep it clean out there!

The post How to clean Icom radios appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Gear/Gadgets, cleaning]

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[l] at 6/18/20 3:29pm

Kevin Richardson, GB5UC.

Father and daughter from Hoo determined to complete cycle challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats

A teaching assistant spent much of lockdown in his garage on a charity virtual cycle ride. Kevin Richardson and his teenage daughter Lauren had planned an epic trip from Land’s End to John O’ Groats this summer to raise money for the RNLI.

But amateur radio enthusiast Kevin had to settle for a solo challenge around “the coast of Britain” from the family home in Hoo. He hooked his radio equipment to his bike so he could broadcast to others who follow his hobby.

Kevin, 55, who works at Burnt Oak Primary in Gillingham, said: “To keep focused and occupied while riding, I converted my garage into the site of a radio room. I had two amateur radios strapped to the handlebars and used one to communicate with other radio amateurs in Kent and Essex. When things got a little quiet and I had nobody to talk to, I listened to Classic FM.”

…read more

After 64 years, NZ’s oldest practising dentist retires aged 88

At 88, New Zealand’s oldest practising dentist has pulled his last tooth. I’ve had enough,” said Terry Lealand, who has worked in Hāwera for 64 years.

Now that he’s closed the practice, he is looking forward to tackling some of the retirement projects stacked up in his basement workshop. Lealand’s 1962 certificate as an amateur radio operator hangs alongside his degree in dentistry, over a desk crowded with ham radio equipment. Cabinets and shelves are crammed with electronic components, walls are festooned with hand tools, while welding gear and a lathe sit near a hospital bed converted to a workbench.

The post Amateur radio operators in the news: Ham takes on cycling challenge to raise money, appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Amateur Radio in the News, People]

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[l] at 6/17/20 12:17pm

In their experiments, the author of the article claim that they were able to improve the bit error rate of communications via the TDRSS by 42%.

In the May 2020 issue of IEEE Spectrum, there’s an intriguing article by four engineers who claim, “The era of communications systems designed solely by humans is coming to an end.” In the article, “In the Future, AIs—Not Humans—Will Design Our Wireless Signals,” they say, “The reason is simple: rapidly escalating complexity.” Of course, three of the four are associated with a company, DeepSig, that sell the AI tools to do this development, but I found this to be an interesting concept.

In the article, they describe their design approach and how they applied it to the signals sent via NASA’s Tracking Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). They claim that using their AI-designed signals, they were able to improve the bit error rate by 42% from 5% to just under 3%. They do admit, however, that in both tests, they ran the system without any error correction, which would have reduced the bit error rate of the system.

My question would be is the effort (and the cost of the software) worth it? The article doesn’t really give much detail, so it’s hard to say. Also, the authors note that this work was just a proof of concept, meaning that they do intend on making improvement in the future.

So, is AI going to take over ham radio, and if so, when? I’ll probably still be pounding brass myself in 20 years, but I certainly think AI is going to play a bigger part in amateur radio in the future. At least I hope so.

You gotta admit it’s interesting to consider the ramifications.. For example, will an AI get the Ham of the Year award at Dayton in 2040? And, when will hear hear the FT8 guys complain about AI being the death of ham radio?

The post Will AI design our signals in the future? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Electronics Theory, artificial intelligence]

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[l] at 6/15/20 2:46pm

Collins Aerospace has just announced that FEMA plans to deploy the Collins’ UrgentLink disaster communications system in six regional mobile emergency response support locations. They claim that UrgentLink HF communications system is the first nationwide public safety network of its kind.

The press release announcing this contract notes:

The Urgent Link solution, a subscription-based service fully managed and maintained by Collins Aerospace, calls for the deployment of radios in FEMA’s six regional Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) locations and 100 cached radios for use during disasters. Operating on an HF spectrum specifically authorized by the FCC for disaster use, UrgentLink uses ground stations throughout the U.S. to create redundant coverage when landlines and cellular, satellite and microwave networks and other systems have been disabled or destroyed by hurricanes, wildfires, terrorist acts, or other catastrophic events.

“Imagine being in a situation where there are no phones, no cell service and even emergency responder radios are rendered useless — it can be incredibly scary and dangerous for emergency personnel and the public,” said LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president and general manager, Information Management Services for Collins Aerospace. “That’s the situation we created UrgentLink to address and we’re proud to provide FEMA with this mission-critical backup system.”

The UrgentLink network will be available to FEMA as soon as the radios are deployed, which is expected to be by June 2020 in preparation for the 2020 hurricane season. FEMA will join other UrgentLink customers, such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – the second largest public safety agency in the country.

A 2018 UrgentLink brochure reads:

Ham radio operators provide a very important service during and after a disaster. Using High Frequency (HF) radios they can communicate long distances without reliance on local infrastructure that may have been damaged or destroyed. Many of the operators are trained in disaster response and generously volunteer their time and equipment to help out.

There is a weakness – availability. Ham radios require a skilled and experienced operator. The greatest need for them is typically during the first 24-48 hours after a disaster and it’s during this time that it’s most challenging for people to get around. If the ham radio operator is not on site when the disaster strikes you will not have access to their services.

In the case of Hurricane Maria, it took three days for the ham radio operator, supporting the Red Cross, to get to their headquarters. And a week after, hurricane officials were calling to ask for even more ham’s to be sent in from the US mainland. This challenge was faced despite this event being predicted ahead of time. What would the delay be with a disaster such as an earthquake that cannot be predicted days ahead of time?

Anyone else find it kind of ironic that this is coming from Collins?

 

The post Collins driving another nail into the amateur radio emcomm coffin? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Emergency Communications / Public Service, Collins, UrgentLink]

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[l] at 6/12/20 1:50pm
Every once in a while, I answer amateur radio questions on Quora, and sometimes I get requests to answer them. Well, a request popped up in my inbox this morning, and I just clicked on the link. I got a real chuckle from the two replies (see below)….Dan


Does a resonant antenna work better than a non-resonant antenna? Reply #1 from “ Retired EE with aerospace and biomedical experience & 8 patents.”
Yes a resonant antenna properly matched to the transmitter or reciever will work better a non-resonant antenna. Any antenna discussion MUST include the frequency or frequency band in order to be more detailed.
Reply #2 from “ Physicist, Electronic Engineer, Musician (1968-present)”

No. It may be easier to match a feedline to it, but once a current distribution is achieved in it, it radiates just as well as a non-resonant dipole.

So, antenna gurus, which one do you think is right?

The post Does a resonant antenna work better than a non-resonant antenna? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: antennas, quora]

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[l] at 6/11/20 12:46pm

Yesterday, on our club’s Zoom meeting we discussed Field Day. This year, we’ve opted to all operate and submit our scores separately. It may not be as much fun, but it will give our club an opportunity to score more bonus points. One way to do this is to have each member send out a press release. I volunteered to write a sample press release that could then be adapted by other club members for their own operations. Here’s what I came up with:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
734-930-6564
cwgeek@kb6nu.com

Amateur Radio Operators Adapt to COVID-19 Crisis

Ann Arbor, Michigan – June 12, 2020 – The last full weekend in June is a big one for tens of thousands of amateur radio operators all over North America. It’s Field Day weekend, a combination emergency-preparedness exercise, public relations event, and club picnic. Clubs and individuals tune up their power generators and charge their batteries and get on the air to make radio contacts with other participants. It’s normally a pretty big deal for the ARROW Communications Association, the amateur radio club in Ann Arbor, MI. The club sets up five separate stations in the park just north of the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport and draws well over 100 participants.

This year’s club event is yet another casualty of the COVID-19 crisis, but that’s not deterring ARROW members from participating in this year’s Field Day. Many are planning to set up and operate emergency-power and alternate-power stations from their homes.

For example, Dan Romanchik, amateur radio callsign KB6NU, plans on setting up a temporary station on his front deck on Orkney Drive in Water Hill. The station will include a low-power (5 W) transceiver (transmitter/receiver combination) and a temporary antenna that he’ll set up in the flower bed in front of his house. To power the transceiver, he plans to use batteries that he charged using a solar panel.

To make contacts, Romanchik plans to use a variety of different modes, including voice and digital communications. He’ll also be using Morse Code. “Morse Code is a very efficient way to communicate,” he says, “especially when you’re using such low power.”

Romanchik notes that one of his objectives is to ensure that his equipment will be operational, and should a real emergency occur, that he can send and receive messages. “Even if the power goes out,” he says, “I should be able to keep in touch using batteries charged with my solar panel.”

2020 marks the 82nd annual Field Day event. It was started in 1933 by the ARRL, the national association for radio amateurs, and has been held every year since then, except for the years 1942 – 1946, when amateur radio was suspended during WW II. There are currently more than 750,000 licensed radio amateurs in the U.S., who donate the equivalent of millions of dollars per year providing emergency and public service communications.

For more information about Field Day, the ARROW Communications Association, or amateur radio in general, contact Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, email: cwgeek@kb6nu.com, phone: 734-930-6564.

Now, all our club members have to do is to replace my contact info with theirs and replace the three paragraphs in which I describe what I plan to do with what they plan to do.

Feel free to use this for your own Field Day press release, and have fun and be safe!

The post Get 100 Field Day bonus points even if you’re operating solo appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, Promotion & PR, Field Day, press release]

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[l] at 6/10/20 1:33pm

Yesterday, I got this press release from James Hannibal, KH2SR, the proprietor of QuirkyQRP:

Finger Morse Straight Key

For portable CW opera-ng

Finger Morse is a fun, inexpensive, & ultra lightweight Morse code straight key that allows you to easily stay on the air making CW QSO’s with your QRP rig while you are walking.

It’s a great option for staying on the air while hiking to/from your next SOTA/POTA activation location or while on a backpacking trip.

It’s also nice to have as an inexpensive backup straight key incase you forget your main straight key/paddle, or if your main key/paddle happens to fail while you are in the backcountry.

No more being stuck sitting down while operating. Go for a walk, get some exercise and keep making CW contacts!

With the Finger Morse CW Straight Key by QuirkyQRP Ham Radios, you can finally try operating QRP pedestrian portable.

I have no idea how well this thing actually works, but it’s cute, isn’t it? I also like the company name: QuirkyQRP. :)


If you make or sell ham radio products, please be sure to send me a press release when you introduce new products. If you include a sample, I’ll even do a more in-depth review.

The post Awwww. How cute! appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: CW, portable, POTA, SOTA]

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[l] at 6/9/20 12:05pm
Create radio receiver circuits with the LM386 audio amplifier

I didn’t have much luck using an LM386 as an audio amplifier (I needed more output power), but perhaps I’ll have more success using it to make a regenerative receiver. I think that I even have all the parts in my junk box.

Here’s a schematic from the article:

Is Ham Radio a Hobby, a Utility…or Both? A Battle Over Spectrum Heats Up

This was actually last summer’s controversy, but while the arguments about WinLink have cooled down, it’s still an issue. I used to be quite anti-WinLink, but since it seems to really be useful for emergency communications, I’m less strident about it than I used to be. I just searched fcc.gov to see if I could find out what’s going on with RM-11831, and was surprised to see that as recently as April 3, 2020, there were still comments being filed. So, I guess it ain’t over until it’s over.

Determining Resonator Q Factor from Return-Loss Measurement Alone

The author uses an expensive VNA from his employer, Copper Mountain Technologies, but with a little ingenuity, you can probably do with your $60 NanoVNA.

The post From the “pro” magazines: LM386 regen, IEEE Spectrum on ham radio, measure resonator Q factor appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

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