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[l] at 8/20/19 9:13am

The ZK3A Tokelau Island (IOTA OC-048) DXpedition 2019 will be on the air from October 1, 2019 through October 11, 2019. One of the DXpedition crew is Lee, VK3GK. Not only is he an experienced radio amateur, he is also a member of the Cranbourne Rotary Club.

He just posted this to the Rotarians on Amateur Radio (ROAR) Facebook page:

I am one of the team members heading to Tokelau as ZK3A in early October 2019.

While on the island we will be installing an “Emergency HF inter island communications system. ” Each station will consist of a Kenwood TS590S, power supply, Headset, laptop and antenna (either triband HF yagi, HF trapped vertical or possibly an 80-10m End Fed Half Wave)

We will provide training and basic technical skills to the locals and expect to have three ZK3 licences issued for the local operators to use.

Budget has been set at AU$5000 (approx US$3500) total for all three set ups, one on each island and i have approached my local Cranbourne Rotary Club with a proposal for some possible sponsorship funding of this international goodwill project for the remote Tokelau island communities.

If any ROAR members would also like to contribute to help offset the cost, any funds donated to this worthy project would be most welcomed.

It is an opportunity to be part of supporting the ongoing on air operation of the rare DXCC of Tokelau, ZK3.



Lee VK3GK / NE3M

This sounds like a great project to me. In true Rotary spirit, the DXpedition plans to give something back, not just sweep in, make a bunch of contacts, and leave. I’m planning to make a small donation. Please consider doing so as well.

The post Help the Tokelau DXpedition to help locals get on the air appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: DX, Public Service, DXpedition, Tokelau]

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[l] at 8/18/19 7:05am

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Paul, KW1L, sent me a scan of the QSL card below, and asked, “Any advice on how I can make the same QSL card as the attached file with my calls and address?”

Paul had tried contacting N0IU to see where he’d gotten the QSL card, but found out that, unfortunately, Scott had recently passed away. Knowing that I created my own QSL card designs, he asked for my help.

Now, this design is really simple, but without the artwork used to create it, coming  up with a new design would be a bit more difficult. I can manipulate images, but I’m not  very good at creating original artwork.

Another interesting complication is that the image of the operator is ripoff of a cartoon created by Phil Gildersleeve, W1CJD, or simply “Gil,” whose illustrations graced the pages of QST for more than 40 years. It was a good try, but lacks the character of the original Gil drawing. Since I wanted to use the original, rather than this ripoff, I asked Paul to inquire as to whether the image was still copyrighted and if he could use it. Paul did inquire and did get permission to use it.

Next, Paul found a CD of ham radio clip art with this image on the disk. He brought it over and I got to work. The first think I noticed is that the Gil cartoon only includes half the table. So, I did a little copying and pasting and was able to create the other half of the table as seen on the N0IU QSL card.

The next thing I did was to paste the image of the tower from the N0IU card onto the new KW1L card. I didn’t like that very much, though. The image of the tower is even more crudely drawn than the image of the operator. So, I made my own tower. As simple as they may seem, the radio waves emanating from the tower proved to be the hardest part. First, I had to get the shape just right. Then, I had to copy them, rotate them, make the background invisible, and then fit the rotated images onto the tower image. The final QSL card is shown below.


Although I’m not a great artist, I think that the tower (and the entire card) looks pretty good. Let me know what you think. If  you’d like the TIFF file, let me know, and I’ll send it to you. (It’s a little more than 5 Mbytes).

The post A new QSL card for KW1L appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: QSLs]

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[l] at 8/16/19 12:44pm

I  got this via email this morning from Kris Bickell, K1BIC, the ARRL’s Lifelong Learning Manager:

Thanks for registering as a teacher with ARRL. We hope your school year is (or will soon be) off to a great start!

As you may have heard, ARRL is developing a Lifelong Learning program to offer a variety of learning opportunities for new, current and prospective amateur radio operators. To learn more: http://www.arrl.org/lifelong-learning

This project involves creating an amateur radio learning center that initially is focused on providing training to new or inactive licensees who want to learn how to get active and enjoy ham radio.

To make this happen, we are looking for assistance developing these training courses. If you have experience developing and/or teaching online courses, we’d love to hear from you. There is a stipend for this work, ranging from $500-$2,000 depending on the scope of the work. If interested, the first step is to send us a quick note with the following:

• A brief explanation of your teaching background
• Your areas of expertise related to amateur radio
• Your experience with online learning and course development
• Availability (are there certain months or time periods that work better for you)

If you have any questions let me know.

I think this is very cool. I’m going to be looking into this more myself.

The post ARRL Lifelong Learning program looking for teachers….and they’re paying! appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, Classes/Testing/Licensing, Lifelong Learning]

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[l] at 8/15/19 9:54am

I get a lot of interesting things via email. Here are a few things that I think you might find interesting, too…..Dan

Every year at Dayton, I pick up a copy of Nuts and Volts magazine. I feel kind of guilty about it, too. I always intend to subscribe, but I never seem to get around to it.

I do subscribe to their free email newsletter. It usually has something interesting. For example, the last one had a link to a free article that describes how to Build an RF Frequency Counter Buffer for HF. Another recent article that some of you might find interesting and useful is the Know Your Basics series.

Check it out.

About a week ago, I got an email from Pat, W5WTH. He writes:

I wrote up a short blog post, “Ham Radio: My thoughts after 365 Days.” I link to your site in #10.  Any problem with that?

It’s an interesting post, and not because he links to my blog. :) So, of course, I gave him permission. Most of his takes are spot on. One that I might take exception with is, “The hobby is as cheap (or as expensive) as you want it to be.” There’s a certain minimum amount of money that you need to spend to really have fun with amateur radio. If you go too cheap, then you’re missing out.

While I was on his site, I surfed around a bit and found the Internet Time Morse Code Clock. This clock uses an ESP8266 with on board WiFi.  At power up, the rig connects to WiFi and fetches the time from the internet.  After booting up, it outputs the time of day in Morse Code to a speaker and an LED tower. The speed is adjustable by a variable in the source code.

I’m thinking about building one of these myself.

What’s the Difference between PNP and NPN? In this Electronic Design article, Maria Guerra explains the differences between PNP and NPN transistors. It’s kind of basic, but hey, you gotta know the basics.

The post From my inbox: Nuts and Volts, Morse Code clock appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Electronic Components, Electronics Theory]

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[l] at 8/13/19 2:44pm

Among the items address by the ARRL Board, at its July 19-20 meeting was the issue of digital mode bandwidth and automatically-controlled digital stations. Below is the section of the meeting minutes dealing with this issue. It seems like a reasonable approach to me, but hey, what do I know. What do you think?

31. Mr. Hippisley moved, seconded by Mr. Carlson and Mr. Stratton that

WHEREAS, there have been many public and private expressions of concern within the Amateur community with regard to the potential for interference by stations operating as automatic controlled digital stations (ACDS);

WHEREAS, there have been many public and private expressions of concern within the Amateur community with regard to the continued vitality and enforcement of international and U.S. regulations that prohibit the transmission by licensed Amateur stations of messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning;

WHEREAS, despite recent representations of some parties that the League supports or encourages the transmission of illegally encoded transmissions in violation of 47. C.F.R. §97.113(a)(4), the ARRL has always opposed, and remains opposed, to permitting the transmission of encrypted signals in the Amateur Service (see the ARRL’s comments dated July 8, 2013 and In the Matter of Don Rolph, Order RM-11699, DA 13-1918, released Sept. 18, 2013);

WHEREAS, the ARRL continues to support all regulatory compliant Amateur Radio modes, from digital to CW, so that all members of the Amateur Radio service may continue to contribute to the advancement of the radio art;

WHEREAS, the ARRL membership is composed of Radio Amateurs with a broad array of interests in technical and experimental domains, ranging from creating and using satellite technologies, to bouncing data signals off meteors, to contesting, to communicating worldwide, to creating new communications modes and to supporting American communities with emergency communications;

WHEREAS, the ARRL is committed to promoting and protecting the interests of all Amateur Radio operators as it continues to address amateur interests and concerns;

IT IS ACCORDINGLY RESOLVED that the ARRL’s Washington Counsel is instructed to take appropriate steps, including, but not limited to, appropriate filings with the Federal Communications Commission, to obtain the Commission’s approval for the following enumerated changes to Part 97 of the Commission’s Rules:

(1)  All automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS) below 30 MHz, regardless of bandwidth, are authorized to operate only within the ACDS bands designated in the FCC’s Rules, 47 C.F.R. §97.221(b);

(2)  All digital mode stations that operate with a bandwidth greater than 500 Hz also must operate within the ACDS bands designated in the FCC’s Rules, whether or not automatically controlled;

(3)  No digital mode station may employ a bandwidth greater than 2.8 kHz in any band below 29 MHz;

(4)  Reiterate to the Commission the need to remove, and the benefits of removing, the current baud limitations, subject to the conditions requested by the ARRL herein;

(5)  Reiterate to the Commission the ARRL’s unchanged position — most recently stated in its Comments submitted In the Matter of Don Rolph, RM-11699 – that the encryption of messages prohibited in Amateur communications by Section 97.113 of the Commission’s Rules and by Article 25, §2 of the International Radio Regulations, should remain prohibited;

(6)  Request that the Commission remind Amateurs, by whatever appropriate means available, of the current prohibition against transmitting “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.”

Discussion followed, including discussion on the difference between encryption and compression. Mr. Norris called the previous question, seconded by Mr. Stratton. A roll call vote being requested the motion to call the previous question passed with 14 AYE votes and 1 NAY votes with Directors Abernethy. Carlson, Holden, Norris, Williams, Jairam, Blocksome, Hopengarten, Ritz, Tiemstra, Hippisley, Ryan, Sarratt, and Stratton voting AYE and Director Norton voting NO. A roll call vote being requested on the main motion, it was ADOPTED with 14 AYE votes and 1 NAY vote, with Directors Abernethy. Carlson, Holden, Norris, Williams, Jairam, Blocksome, Hopengarten, Ritz, Tiemstra, Hippisley, Ryan, Sarratt, and Stratton voting AYE and Director Norton voting NO.

The post ARRL Board addresses digital mode bandwidth and automatically-controlled digital stations appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Everything Else]

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[l] at 8/11/19 7:44am

Yesterday, after a contact with a station in Florida, I heard a very faint station calling me. On the first call, ll I got was “0AT,” but I guessed correctly that it was Steve, WG0AT. Steve, of course, is famous for his Summits on the Air (SOTA) activations and other portable ops with his goats, Boo and Peanut (right).

He was barely readable, and he was fading in and out with the QSB, so I gave him a 229 report. Even so, I really work at copying the QRP guys. I think that it builds up good karma so that when I’m on the low power end of the equation—as I was last weekend at the lighthouse—guys will try to pull my low-power signal out of the noise.

After the contact, I got a nice email from Steve. He wrote:

Hi Dan, Great to catch  you on 30m! …just caught tail end of your QSO with other station WB9?? And at first you were 579 but QSB quickly took you down to 349 at end …tks for hearing my 3.5W from my little MTR2 with wire in the tree! I was testing it out on bench before running up the mountain tomorrow.

Cheer’s Steve/wGOAT

He also sent me a picture of his rig…

…and a recording of our QSO:

document.createElement('audio'); https://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/wg0at-kb6nu-20190810.mp3

What I really like is the chuckle at the end of the recording. You can tell that Steve really has fun with ham radio.

The post Operating Notes: Contact with a (W)G0AT appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, QRP, wg0at] [Link to media]

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[l] at 8/9/19 6:26pm

I normally don’t include QSLs from stations whose calls require that the number be part of the word, but I’m going to make an exception in the case of WD0T:

One of the reasons for this is that, as you’ll note this QSO was made back in 2005! This contact is so old that Todd had to put extra postage on the SASE that I sent him. Another reason is that it’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten two cards from stations whose call signs spell words.

This next card is from Bill, N2COP. It’s my first “COP” card. Bill is the Vice Director for the Roanoke Division.

The post QSLs: WD0T, N2COP appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: QSLs]

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[l] at 8/8/19 11:54am

Videos from the May 2019 Contest University held at Dayton are now on line. Here are the videos that are available:

I watched a portion of the “Solar Cycle Impacts”  and all of the “Contesting with Integrity” and “Contest Radio Comparisons & Hybrid Architecture ” videos.  Of the three, I found the radio comparison video to be the most useful to me, as I’m not a big contester, but I think all of them are worthwhile.

The post 2019 Contest University videos online appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Contests, Propagation, Receivers, Software-Defined Radio (SDR), contest university]

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[l] at 8/7/19 12:38pm

When I have lunch with my friends Paul, KW1L, and Rick, K8BMA, we inevitably start talking about CW at some point. Yesterday was no exception. After we had eaten our chicken chimichangas and shrimp burritos, somehow the new ARRL CW code proficiency certificates came up again.

Paul is still baffled as to how one can copy at 20 wpm “by hand,” much less at higher speeds. He says that he even went so far as to find a pen with the lowest friction so he could write faster. Alas, 20 wpm proved elusive with the low-friction writing implement, too.

I thought we had answered this question a month ago when the ARRL announced the new awards. At that time, I queried Norm, W3IZ, about this, and he replied that typing the copy was perfectly fine. Paul noted, however, that he can’t touch type.

At that point, the conversation took a different tack. We started talking about how one could cheat on the qualifying runs. You could, of course, record them and then play them back at a speed you can copy. You could also edit the copy before you send it in to the ARRL to catch any obvious mistakes. After several minutes of this, I quoted Norm, who said, “It’s not a contest but a personal achievement so, if a guy cheats, that’s on him.” I also noted that this isn’t DXCC!

Not being satisfied with that answer, one of us proposed that recipients of the code proficiency certificates should be randomly tested to ensure that they really can copy at 20 wpm, 30 wpm, or whatever speed they claim. To do this random testing, we will need to add this to the duties of the current Volunteer Examiner corps, or, as I proposed, set up a new CW Police Force (CWPF).  Conceptually, the job of these CW cops will be to randomly choose and test recipients of the CW Proficiency Certificates, and should the recipient fail the check test, require the recipient to return the certificate or endorsements.

This proposal is not without its own challenges. For example, how will we ensure that the CWPF members are actually qualified to give the test? And, how will the CWPF retrieve CW proficiency certificates and endorsements if the cheaters don’t voluntarily give them up? It’s highly doubtful that any judge would issue a search warrant to the CWPF.

As if that weren’t enough, as we were leaving the restaurant, another issue came up. Paul said, “You know what. In all this talk about verifying whether or not someone can copy proficiently enough to earn a certificate, we haven’t discussed another very important issue.”

“What’s that?” I said.

“We haven’t said anything about whether or not someone can send proficiently,” he replied. After having a good laugh at that, we decided to table the motion, got in our cars, and went our merry ways. No doubt this will come up again when we next meet for chips and salsa.


The post Do we need CW certificate cops? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL, CW]

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[l] at 8/6/19 1:24pm

The ICQPodcast released its 300th episode on Sunday, and I was honored to be on the panel for this event. We discussed:

The feature is an interview with Keith, KB1SF, the AMSAT US Treasurer. I think that this is a pretty good episode, and I think you will, too.

The post ICQPodcast #300 (!) discusses symbol rates, QO-100, and the sale of AMPRNet IP addresses appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Podcasts]

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[l] at 8/4/19 8:52pm

Although I’ve been a member of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society for nearly a year now, this weekend, I finally got around to activating my first lighthouse: the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.  All I can say is that it was a blast.

Pointe aux Barques is at the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb.” The lighthouse was built in 1848 and is still an active aid to navigation, making Pointe aux Barques one olast year.f the oldest continuously operating Lights on the Great Lakes. While the lighthouse is automatically operated these days, the keeper’s house, which is now a museum, and the associated buildings are maintained by the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society. I joined the Society last summer after visiting the lighthouse and becoming enthused by it. my

Here’s the view from my operating position:

My operations this weekend almost got off to a bad start. After I’d hung my doublet up in the tree, I found that I was missing the BNC-binding post adapter that I use to connect the twisted-pair feedline to the Kx3. After searching everywhere for it—and doing a little cursing—I came up with what I thought was a pretty creative solution.

What I did was to stick one the conductors into the center contact of the BNC connector and screwed the other conductor under one of the screws holding down the case. See the photo below.

The amazing thing that it actually worked! When I hit the ATU button, the wonderful antenna tuner in the KX3 tuned it right up.

To make a long story short, I made 25 contacts over the weekend, signing W8L, a special-event callsign. Perhaps the most memorable contact I made was one with WW0SS, who was operating near Grand Marais, MN. He was also operating QRP from a spot overlooking the lake. In his case, that lake was Lake Superior. I joked with him that we must have been taking advantage of lake propagation.

It really was a great weekend. The weather was perfect, and aside from not having the right adapter, my equipment worked perfectly. It was great fun.

The post Activated my first lighthouse! appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, Special Events]

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[l] at 8/2/19 4:55pm
Mr_T0aST's avatar Toast  @Mr_T0aST

It was ’bout time I attempted to learn a PCB design package. This tutorial linked from @ hackaday was well timed for me on some down-time while on vacay. Don’t care if it works but it’s awesome to finally learn some @ kicad_pcb . Thanks @ MalphasWats ! github.com/MalphasWats/ha…

fbz's avatar Ms. Fabienne “fbz” Serrière 🗝  @fbz

i and others volunteer to run FREE ham radio exams at bsides las vegas + defcon. i’ll be a VE (volunteer examiner) at the bsides exam in one week: wednesday, august 7th @ 6pm. sign up for any vegas ham radio exams here: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI… and follow @ DC_Ham_Exams

RohnProductsLLC's avatar

ROHN Products LLC


# FlashbackFriday

The post From my Twitter feed: KiCAD tutorial, DEFCon ham exams, #FlashbackFriday appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Building/Homebrew, Classes/Testing/Licensing]

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[l] at 8/1/19 5:30pm

Reposted with permission by KF4LMT from KF4LMT’s Radio Shack.  You all know how much I love special event stations. Well, KF4LMT, who is both a history buff and a ham radio enthusiast, has begun listing selected history-related special event stations each month. How cool is this!?

A recurring theme of History related special events for August seems to be Manifest Destiny, the 19th Century American belief that the American people were destined to expand westward across the North American continent (and for some, southward into Central America and the Caribbean as well). The special event stations related to the telegraph, railroad, and the Pony Express commemorate events or entities that played a key role in the American settlement of the west. Other special events in August honor the United States Coast Guard and commemorate the only refugee shelter operated in the United States during World War II. Related to the Coast Guard (they absorbed the US Lighthouse Service in 1939), the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend is the weekend of 17/18 August.

229th Birthday of the United States Coast Guard

From 4 August at 1400 UTC to 5 August at 0400Z, K1CG, the Coast Guard CW Operators Association in Port Angeles, WA will be operating a special event station commemorating the 229th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. K1CG will be operating on or around 21.052, 14.052, 7.052, and 3.552. Several different operators will work the event. All CW contacts with K1CG during the event will receive a QSL card directly from the operator they worked.

USCGC Eagle approaching Fort Jackson, Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel 578 is in the foreground, Coast Guard Vessel 29200 is in the background

The United States Coast Guard occupies a unique position as both a Federal agency and an arm of the United States Military. On 4 August 1790, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to form the United States Revenue Cutter Service, charged with enforcing customs laws. Since there was no United States Navy at the time (it wasn’t re-established until 1798), the Cutter Service also took on additional duties (some of which they still carry out today) such as coastal defense, rescue, government transport, and mail transport. In 1915, the Cutter Revenue Service was merged with the United States Lifesaving Service to create the United States Coast Guard. In 1939, the Coast Guard took on additional duties when United States Lighthouse Service was brought under its control. In 1942, the Coast Guard picked up more responsibilities when the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was put under their control. As a result of these mergers and transfers, the Coast Guard became a multi-role agency with search and rescue, regulatory, and law enforcement duties. Because it can be transferred to military control during wartime, the Coast Guard is also considered one of the nation’s armed forces. During both World War I and World War II, it was transferred to the control of Navy Department and transferred back to the Treasury Department after the wars. After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the Coast Guard was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard has a significant presence in coastal Georgia, with stations in Savannah and Brunswick, at the port facilities in Savannah and Brunswick, and with Coast Guard Air Station Savannah at Hunter AAF in Savannah.

Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter

From 1000 UTC to 1600 UTC on 5 August, W2CXV, the Fulton Amateur Radio Club will be operating a special event station commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter. They’ll be operating on or around 14.260, 14.280, 14.330, or 14.340. QSL for a certificate via the Fulton Amateur Radio Club, 2359 ST RT 48, Fulton, NY 13069.

Women and children registering for the Fort Ontario Refugee Camp, August 1944. (image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter is something unique in the United States’ World War II History: it is the only refugee shelter operated in the United States during World War II. Fort Ontario, located in Oswego, New York, has a long history as a military installation; it was established and used by the British during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution and by the US military from the War of 1812. During World War II, it was used to shelter refugees from the European Theater. Opened in June 1944, the shelter received its first refugees from Europe in August 1944. The 982 refugees housed at the shelter were predominately of Jewish descent and mostly came from Eastern European countries. Initially, conditions at the shelter resembled that of a prison camp surrounded by barbed wire. For a time, they weren’t allowed to leave the camp but were eventually issued passes to visit Oswego. Between meeting the refugees through the fence and when they visited the town on passes, Oswego began to develop a relationship with them. Although they had signed agreements to return to Europe after the war, public pressure from the citizens of Oswego along with other groups convinced to President Truman to allow them to stay in the United States in 1946. While some did return to Europe, many found sponsors in the United States and remained here.

World War II Navajo Code Talkers

From 14 to 18 August, special event station N7C will be honoring the Navajo Code Talkers. N7C will be operating on or around 14.265, 7.265, and 18.133. QSL via Herbert Goodluck, PO Box 06, Chinle, AZ 86503; for a QSL card send a SASE, for a QSL card and certificate, send $5.

Navajo code talkers, Saipan, June 1944 (image from Wikimedia Commons)

The idea of using Native Americans as “code talkers” in the United States military didn’t originate in World War II; instead it began in World War I when the US Army utilized Cherokee and Choctaw speakers to pass coded traffic. In 1942, A Los Angeles City Engineer, Philip Johnston, the son of missionaries who worked on the Navajo Reservation suggested to the USMC that they use Navajos to send coded messages in World War II much as other Native Americans had done in World War I. A test in simulated combat conditions proved that the Navajos could pass a coded message in their language quicker than an automated system could. The Navajo language proved particularly good for the task at hand because of its complexity and the few non-Navajos that were proficient in the language. The addition of code words for military terms made the Navajo’s code even more complex and it remained unbroken at the end of the war. After the Battle of Iwo Jima, 5th Marines signal officer Major Howard Connor stated that if it wasn’t for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines wouldn’t have taken Iwo Jima. The Navajo code continued in use after World War II; it was used during the Korean War and during the early part of the Vietnam War. It is said to be the only spoken military code never to have been broken.

The First Train Dispatch by Telegraph

From 1400 UTC, 17 August to 0200 UTC, 18 August, the Orange County NY Amateur Radio Club will operating special event station K2T in commemoration of the first train dispatch by telegraph in 1851. K2T will be operating on or around 3.540, 3.573, 3.920, 7.040, 7.074, 7.255, 14.040, 14.074, and 14.250. A QSL certificate will be downloadable; contact W2HO@ocarcny.org or www.ocarcny.org

Dispatcher’s Office display. at the Folkston, GA Train Museum

In September 1851, Charles Minot, a Division Superintendent with the Erie Railroad developed the idea of coordinating trains by telegraphed while stopped at a station waiting on another train to pass. He telegraphed ahead to see if the oncoming train they were waiting on had passed; it had not, so he ordered that train to be stopped at the station and ordered his train to proceed. He would later develop this further into a dispatching system that would be used instead of timetables; instead of trains waiting on each to pass, the trains’ movements would be coordinated by dispatchers using telegraph. Minot’s system, later expanded upon, resulted in a more efficient use of the railroad. This combination of the telegraph and the railroad was a fusion of two of the most important technologies that came about between the War of 1812 and the Civil War and contributed greatly to increased and quicker communications and transportation across an expanding nation.

The 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad

On 17 August, the Utah Valley Amateur Radio Club in Orem, UT will be operating special event station K7R in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad. K7R will be operating on or near 14.336, 14.075, and 7.268. QSL for certificate via the Utah Valley Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 1288, Orem, UT 84059-2188. 

From 1500 UTC on 24 August to 0300 UTC on 25 August, the Sweetwater Amateur Radio Club in Green River, WY will be operating special even station WY7U, also in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad. WY7U will be operating on or near 14.320, 7.270, and 3.925. QSL for certificate via the Sweetwater Amateur Radio Club, 50140 B US Hwy 191 S, Ste 106, Rock Springs, WY 82901.

Map of the route of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Crossing the Western United States to/from California. Built in the 1860s, and opening in 1869 (image from Wikimedia Commons)

The first Transcontinental Railroad in the United States entered service on 10 May 2019 when the ceremonial “golden spike” was driven at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory where the two ends of the railroad met. Three railroad companies built out the railroad: The Western Pacific Railroad built 132 miles from Alameda, CA to Sacramento, CA while the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroads built the out much of the line. The Central Pacific built 690 miles from Sacramento, CA to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory and the Union Pacific built 1085 miles from Council Bluffs, IA to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The Central Pacific began work in January 1863 and the Union Pacific began in July 1865. Both had to contend with problems caused by the Civil War and the Central Pacific had to further contend with shipping equipment to the West Coast from the East Coast around Cape Horn or over Panama. The route from east to west, went through today’s states of Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. The Transcontinental Railroad prove to be a significant part of United States History; it connected the sparsely populated west coast with the more populous east coast (the northern states in particular) and made possible further expansion west by making transportation of goods and people less costly, quicker, and safer than it was by ship or wagon train.

The 158th Anniversary of the Pony Express

On 25 August, the Crown Amateur Radio Association in Hanover, KS will commemorate the 158th anniversary of the Pony Express with special event station K0ASA. K0ASA will be operating on or near 14.285, 14.045, 7.045, and 3.545. QSL or a certificate are available via the Crown Amateur Radio Association, 11551 W 176th Ter, Overland Park, KS 66221.

Illustrated Map of Pony Express Route in 1860 by William Henry Jackson ~ Courtesy the Library of Congress ~ The Pony Express mail route, April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861; Reproduction of Jackson illustration issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pony Express founding on April 3, 1960. Reproduction of Jackson’s map issued by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. (image from Wikimedia Commons)

The Pony Express operated from April 1860 to October 1861 providing a fast mail route between California and Missouri. It followed a similar route to the future Transcontinental Railroad; from east to west, it went through the modern states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Operated by the Central Overland California Company and the Pike’s Peak Express Company, the Pony Express used mounted riders traveling in relays between 184 stations and 157 relay stations that covered the 1900 mile route. By utilizing the relay stations and changing horses, the Express was able to transport mail between California and Missouri in 10 days. By October 1861, however, the Transcontinental Telegraph had been established and was sending messages electronically.

For more information on how the telegraph and the railroad were instrumental in not only the westward expansion of the United States during the 19th Century, but also helped shape the country’s political and social landscape, I would suggest reading Daniel Walker Howe’s volume of the Oxford History of the United States What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848.

The post KF4LMT’s History Related Amateur Radio Special Event Stations for August 2019 appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Operating, Special Events]

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[l] at 7/31/19 7:15am

The ARRL’s 2018 annual report has recently been published, and, of course, I have a few comments on it:

  • In his message from the president, Rick Roderick, K5UR, describes what he calls a “new generation” of hams and contrasts them to “classic hams.” I don’t think in those terms, and I think it’s a mistake to do so. Plenty of “veteran hams” are using amateur radio to “aid their communities, and for enhancing the fun they’re already having while camping, hiking, or doing other outdoor activities.”
  • The CEO’s report is much more on point. Instead of separating us into “new hams” and “classic hams,” Howard Michel, WB2ITX, says, “Everyone’s pursuit of Amateur Radio falls somewhere along the spectrum between developing new technology and using existing technology to communicate, and along the spectrum between Amateur Radio as a hobby and Amateur Radio as a service.” That’s a much more realistic way to view the amateur radio population. He goes on to say, “ARRL needs to develop products and services for all these segments. One size no longer fits all. Today we can customize our engagement with members, and members expect this.”
  • The Year in Review section as usual emphasized emergency communications. It does note, however, that the number of ARES members is down, the number of volunteer hours is down, and the total volunteer value is down.
  • The Year in Review section also talks about the proposal for expanded Technician class privileges and the new Lifelong Learning program. I’ve already commented on the Tech proposal, so I won’t go into it here. I’ve also commented on the Lifelong Learning program. It’s been talked about for so long now, that you’d think there would be more concrete information available. Instead, all we’re getting is a vague description of what it will do.
  • Membership continues to fall. The number of ARRL members at the end of 2018 was 156,899. In a separate item, it was noted that the number of  licenses has grown to 755,430, meaning that the percentage of licensed radio amateurs who are ARRL members has fallen to less than 21%. The report touts these figures as “beating the forecast,” but gives no indication of when membership is expected to rise. I still say that the ARRL should set a membership goal of 25% and start working towards it.
  • I’m certainly not a financial genius, but the ARRL seems to be in good financial shape. That’s good news, but I can only imagine how much better off we’d be if we had more members.

Overall, it’s a good report. I’m optimistic about the League, even though membership is still dropping. If I was CEO, that would be my biggest concern. The Leagues seems to be hoping that the new Tech privileges and the Lifelong Learning program will boost membership. I’m doubtful that the rules changes will do much in this respect, but the Lifelong Learning program could help. They just need to get it going quicker.

The post ARRL 2018 Annual Report: Membership drops again, lifelong learning program still on the horizon appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: ARRL]

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[l] at 7/29/19 1:03pm

Episode385 of Freakonomics (July 17, 2019),  “What Do Nancy Pelosi, Taylor Swift, and Serena Williams Have in Common?” features an interview with Silvia Acevedo, the CEO of Girl Scouts. Acevedo is a rocket scientist and tech executive with advanced degrees from Stanford. In this episode, she talks about her career in tech and how the Girl Scouts are now encouraging girls to explore science and technology. That being the case, it might be time to see if we can start working with Girl Scouts again.

On the Flying Pigs QRP mailing list, Harold, KE6TI wrote, “Twenty years ago, or more, I managed a program run by the RCA ARC in Indianapolis. Basically we had a bunch of parts that were surplus to the club’s needs and in too small quantities (mostly) to sell to surplus dealers.  So we put a list up on the club’s website and offered them free to anybody, only asking to be reimbursed for postage.  We also limited quantities so we weren’t supplying hoarders or resellers.”

To which, Diz, W8DIZ, of kitsandparts.com fame, replied, “I think I will just create a type of bulletin board for people to contact each other…a meeting place for “junque.” http://junque.org will be operational very soon. junque.org is indeed online, but there’s nothing really there yet. Stay tuned, though.

In the meantime, read my blog post about the importance of a junk in amateur radio.

Keysight, which used to be Agilent, which used to be Hewlett-Packard, has posted ten webinars that cover benchtop test equipment topic, including:

  • 10 Things You Must Know About DMMs
  • Four Tricks You Didn’t Know You Can Do With Waveform Generators
  • How Resourceful Engineers Get the Most Out of Their Waveform Generators
  • Battery Life Measurement Theory and Testing Techniques
  • Test at Breakneck Speeds with System Power Supplies
  • Making Sense of Wireless Sensor Power Consumption
  • Fundamentals of Voltage and Current IV Measurements
  • Overcoming Resistance and Picoammeter Measurement Challenges
  • Automating Everyday Test and Measurement Tasks in Minutes

You can access them by clicking here. You do have to give them  your name and email address, but  you can opt-out of getting a lot of spam from them. The webinars are heavily weighted to using Keysight instruments, but there’s a lot of good info in them, too.

The post Random stuff: Girl Scouts, junque, test instrument webinars appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Building/Homebrew, Kids, QRP, Test Equipment]

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[l] at 7/27/19 6:13pm

Port Austin is at the tip of “The Thumb” here in Michigan.

I spent last weekend in Port Austin, MI, at the tip of “The Thumb.” (If you’re a Michigander, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not a Michigander, see the map at right.)

In addition to enjoying the cooler weather by Lake Huron, I wanted to test out my portable station, as I intend to operate from the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse during the National Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, on August 3-4. Sadly, I did not get to operate last weekend, as I failed to bring some essential equipment, including a length of coax to connect an antenna to my KX3. I was kind of disappointed, but that did give me more time to enjoy the lake.

Even so, I wanted to be prepared for next weekend, so I decided to set up this morning in a park just up the street from me. I took several antennas with me to see what would work the best. As you can see below, I brought my BuddiStick (attached to the table on the right side of the photo below) and what I call my “GOTA antenna,” which is a 40-meter/20-meter inverted-V, supported by a surplus military mast (shown on the left side of the photo). Prem, AC8QV, helped me put up the inverted-V antenna.

KB6NU checking the SWR of the GOTA antenna.

My tests were an unqualified success. Almost immediately, I made three 20-meter CW contacts using the BuddiStick. These stations were all U.S. contacts, but I could hear several Europeans in there. I called several of them, but my 10 W just wasn’t making it across the pond.

My first contact with the  inverted-V antenna was a QRP-QRP contact with Mark, KF5YOE, in Texas. After talking to Mark, I decided to  switch to 40m. Not only that, I thought I’d try phone instead of CW. Come to think of it, I don’t think that I’d ever made a phone contact with the KX3. As it turned out, my first (and only) contact on 40 meters was with K4YTZ, a club station that was operating in a park in South Carolina. They gave me a very nice report, and we had a nice chat about operating park to park.

After that contact, I came across NA1WJ, the amateur radio station at the Scouting World Jamboree. I was hoping to work them, and perhaps say hi to Bill, NE4RD, but they never came back to me.

By that time, Prem and I were getting hungry, so we packed up and headed for a Subway. Overall, however, we had a great time. The weather was nice, the band conditions were decent, and we made a couple of nice contacts.

As far as the antennas go, the inverted-V seemed to work better than the BuddiStick. Of course, that’s to be expected—it’s a full-size antenna after all. I’m going to take the BuddiStick with me next weekend, but I expect that I’ll be using the inverted-V if there’s a good place to set it up.

The post Operating notes: a walk in the park appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: antennas, Mobile/Portable, Operating]

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[l] at 7/26/19 9:19am

As I do from time to time, I like to highlight articles that appear in the “100, 50, and 25 Years Ago” column in QST. Here are some gems from July 1919, 1969, and 1994:

  • Essentials of V. T. Transmitters by K. B. Warner (July 1919). The V. T. in the title stands for vacuum tubes. In 1919, amateur radio was at the cusp of changing over from spark-gap transmitters to vacuum tube transmitters that enabled the use of continuous-wave, or CW. This article not only explains how vacuum tube transmitters work, but why CW transmission is more desirable that spark-gap transmission. This wasn’t a foregone conclusion at this point. Indeed, Warner notes, “It is new ground for all of us.”
  • Something Old, Something New (July 1969). This editorial in the July 1969 issue chronicles the rise of VHF/UHF FM. It says, “Hams by the droves are getting on channelized f.m., mobiles are in wide use, and v.h.f. repeaters are popping up on many a mountain top.” It’s kind of amazing that only 50 years later we’re all bemoaning the lack of activity on VHF/UHF and the repeaters.
  • 144-MHz Sporadic E by Emil Pocock, W3EP (July 1994). The nice thing about articles on topics like antennas and propagation is that they are still relevant today. After all, the physics behind antennas and propagation never changes. This article discusses some studies on 2-meter sporadic E propagation and how we can make use of it. You still have some time to take advantage of summertime sporadic-E propagation, if you’re so inclined.

Here are two more articles from the July 1919 and 1969 issues that you might be interested in:

  • Loop Aerials by Dr. Radio. Hasn’t there been a lot of talk about loop antennas these past couple of years?
  • Touchcoder II by J.A. Bryant, W4UX. Send CW with this electronic keyboard that uses integrated circuits!

The post 100, 50, and 25 years ago in QST: Vacuum tube transmitters, FM in 1969, working sporadic-E appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: antennas, Building/Homebrew, Propagation, VHF/FM/Repeaters]

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[l] at 7/24/19 8:51am

A couple of weeks ago, I worked Dave, AB0DK on 40 meters. As it turns out, he’s also a ham radio instructor and uses my study guides for his classes. Thanks, Dave, for sharing the joy of amateur radio with others and for using my books.

Lately, it seems like I’ve been making more instructor sales. If you’re an instructor, I do offer an instructor discount. You can order as many copies of any of the three study guides for only $10/copy. Email me directly for more details.

I worked the 13 Colonies operating event this year. This is a fun event. You work stations in all of the 13 original colonies, plus special stations in PA and Great Britain, and you can get a certificate, if you like.

A couple of years ago, I worked all 13 on both phone and CW. I missed the GB station, though. This year, I worked them all using a combination of both voice and phone and even bagged GB13COL.

There seems to be a bit of a controversy, though. This morning, when I tried to get the URL for the 13 Colonies website, I found this message:

13 Colonies WEB SITE is down as of 07/14/2019

After many years and hundreds of hours of web design and free hosting, I have decided NOT TO BE A PART OF 13 Colonies any longer.

I have discovered many things regarding 13 Colonies, and I will not share my opinion of this event.

MANY peole have e mailed me questioning the motives of this event, which I will not comment on.

I have nothing to do with the operation of this event, creation of this event, printing or delivering of any certificates or the collection of money sent in.

I personally have not collected any money from this event, and will not and have not taken any payments for my services.

I unlike others have NOT made a profit on this event.

I’m now up to 162 DXCC entities confirmed, thanks to OJ0AW, one of the many Market Reef DXpeditions this summer. If  you haven’t worked them yet, there’s still time. A press release on DXNews.Com notes:

The activity is in several phases throughout the summer and may even extend to the hard winter season in order to capture the best low-band openings. It all starts this Saturday June 8t with OJ0AW and OJ0JR. Next, following the international week of July.06 will be OJ0A and OJ0Z. Then the IARU Contest weekend of June 13/14 with OJ0B and then turning to Youth Week of OJ0C from July.15 and IOTA week of July.27 (OJ0DX) and Light House weekend of August.17 – 24 (OJ0O). The OJ0-regulars Pasi, OH3WS/OJ0W, Henri, OH3JR/OJ0JR; Martti, OH2BH/OJ0BH and Pertti, OG2M/OJ0MR will take the slots along with their official duties.

There are twenty-one valid OJ0 licenses. More than 50% are expected to be active during this year. If you work five of them (5) in 2019, a special award will be released. If you work ten (10) of them in 2019, you will qualify for a special award and a symbolic key to the light house. Your log extract should be submitted to Pasi, OH3WS, the contact person between the FLS and the global ham fraternity.

Go get ’em!

The post Operating Notes: Ham radio instructors, 13 Colonies controversy?, LOTW stats appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Awards, Books and Magazines, Classes/Testing/Licensing, DX, Special Events]

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[l] at 7/22/19 7:36pm

I took the last three and a half days off. Friday afternoon, our power went off, and although it came back on Saturday morning, Silvia and I shortly afterward, headed up to Lake Huron for a couple of days at the beach. No email, no ham radio, no internet.

We did, however stop in Elmer on the way back. Some newer hams think the term Elmer is dated, and even a little creepy. I understand where they’re coming from, but I’m happy to be an Elmer to dozens, if not hundreds of hams.

The post Operating Notes: I took three days off appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Elmering, Operating]

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[l] at 7/20/19 11:44am

 He putters around Columbia, Tenn., working on steamer trains (and amateur radio), but few neighbors know that centenarian J. Cary Nettles helped save the U.S. space program in the 1960s…..Read more

Volunteers provide much needed help during disasters and more. Santa Cruz County has a very active Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, presence as well as a team of ham radio operators who are the unsung heroes during a disaster.

“Good morning, Cucamonga! This is Santa Cruz E.O.C.!”

Each week ham radio operators check the California Office of Emergency Services and network with other ham operators throughout the state. They play a pivotal role in emergencies and natural disasters through groups like the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL).

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Local amateur radio operators came together today to talk about the importance of ham radios and connect with the community.

The Magnolia and Lowndes County Amateur Radio Clubs joined forces for a radio day in Starkville.

The event lets amateur operators connect with the community and test out their gear.

The post Amateur radio in the news: 104-year-old ham helped put men on the moon appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Amateur Radio in the News, CA, MS, NASA, TN]

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[l] at 7/19/19 6:38pm

The AMSAT Board of Directors election is underway, and like last year’s ARRL Board elections, there seems to be a bit of a controversy. Bruce Perens, K6BP, is one of the hams that thinks it’s time for a change. He tweets:

Bruce Perens K6BP @BrucePerens
AMSAT Direction Election 2019: It’s Time For Change! I am recommending five candidates who can solve AMSAT’s problems and get the organization going in the right direction. Please see perens.com/static/AMSAT/E… Please re-tweet and pass onto other AMSAT members. @ AMSAT

And, on the web page referenced in the URL, he writes:

AMSAT is absolutely vital to continue the role of Amateur Radio in space, one especially important when we’re seeing the start of a challenge to our 2-meter band allocation internationally. But there are problems with AMSAT: It’s now 15 years since AO-40 went SK. We’ve not done anything nearly so ambitious again in North America, while Europe and Africa now have a geostationary 10 GHz transponder for Amateur use. AMSAT’s current management is hogtied and overly fearful of ITAR while the Open Source community, provider of the cryptography in every web browser back when that was under ITAR, has had that problem solved for decades. And AMSAT can’t support itself with the current member dues.

A voice on the other side is Dave Swanson, K G5CCI. In a long series of Tweets, he writes;

…Let’s talk AMSAT BoD election, and let’s keep it simple. You’ve got 2 choices – ORI or the Incumbents.

Some might object to this simplification, but when the candidates tell you to also vote for their preferred candidate, the choice is pretty binary. First Up: ORI. Their simplified platform is this: Build digital birds, Screw the ITAR, and the current AMSAT board is mean.

So, Digital Birds eh? We’ve got digital birds right now. Surprised? That’s because no one uses them. FalconSat-3, NO-44 and NO-84 are all floating around up there right now available to you. They’re amazing pieces of tech, built by awesome engineers, and operators don’t care.

Is that harsh? Probably – but it’s the truth. Like it or not we’re in the appliance age, and the vast majority of ops are appliance operators. If you want to be an experimenter, that’s cool and great – but you’re in the 5%. 5% of the AMSAT fleet should then reflect your desires.

Next – ITAR. I agree, ITAR sucks. In my professional endeavors I’ve experienced first hand how ITAR stifles us. But, it is the law. And while flouting the edges of regulations is great for a small community with nothing to lose, or a small biz not exporting, AMSAT ain’t that.

AMSAT launches satellites on rockets directly controlled by the US Government, Foreign Governments, or giant companies friendly with governments. If you think these folks will continue to give us a ride after adopting a LOL WE R NOW EXEMPT approach to the rules, you’re nuts.

There are genuine issues with ITAR, and they should be hashed out by lawyers. But by electing an AMSAT board calling for disregarding ITAR based on their experience on the ground, the chances of us putting stuff in space drops dramatically. The game sucks, but we have to play it.

Finally, the “mean” issue. Not sure what I can say here other than laugh. People aren’t always going to get along, that’s what makes us, us. Block them on twitter, ignore their email – whatever, it has nothing to do with the primary goal of AMSAT – keeping amateur radio in space.

So, with this in mind as an operator, The ORI approved slate of candidates directly threatens my ability to keep making contacts on the Satellites. Their desire make the birds beep-boop only, pick a fight with our government sponsors, and get even over perceived slights is wrong.

Alternatively, the Incumbent Board Members of @ glasbrenner @ PRStoetzer and @ n0jy have launched 4 birds in 5 years, with another going up soon. They’ve got a plan for an entire next generation of sats, have kept the fleet usable by everyone, and followed the law to the letter.

Do I have problems with things like the Website or Office Expenses? Yea. Should we be doing more to build bigger better birds? Absolutely. I’ve got a whole list of things I’d like to see @ AMSAT change – and I hope with all the publicity around this election some stuff will.

All this said, those issues pale in comparison to the primary goal of AMSAT. At the end of the day, I just want to make some contacts – nothing else really matters. The incumbent candidates have proven they can help me do that. The ORI group hasn’t, and doesn’t appear to want to.

I plan to vote for @ glasbrenner @ PRStoetzer & @ n0jy and I hope you in the operator community will join me. Cause that’s how we’ll keep Amateur Radio in Space. If you disagree, well, then go write your own tweet storm, cause one is enough for me. 73.

Not being a satellite operator, I hadn’t really been keeping up on this. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

The post AMSAT: Time for a Change? appeared first on KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog.

[Category: Satellites, AMSAT]

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