Lamp Generates Power for Radio

From the Audio DesignLine Newsletter of 12/29/05:

Power a radio by the heat generated by a lantern seems like an unlikely proposition. But this is exactly what a product from UK-based Navitron does. The unlikely product is unique in the marketplace……Read the article.

This looks like a cool gadget to me, although the company’s website does not list a price. Still, it looks ripe for modification. I could see replacing the radio with a small QRP rig.

A New Year’s Resolution for CW Ops

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, nor do I suggest that others make them, but with the imminent change in licensing requirements (i.e. the elimination of the Morse Code test), here’s one suggestion that I will make. I would like to suggest that every Fist member find a ham in their club or community with even a remote interest in CW and Elmer him or her, the goal being to make him or her into a proficient, active CW operator by the end of the year. 

If you can’t find anyone right off, don’t get discouraged. Talk up CW at club meetings, rig up your 2m FM rig to send modulated CW over your repeater, invite people over to your house to watch you work CW. Do these things consistently and pretty soon someone will come out of the woodwork.

You gotta work at it, but in the end, we’ll have more active CW bands and better operators, and isn’t that a worthwhile goal?

Free Software for the Advanced CW Operator

From Hank K8DD, via the Fists mailing list:

RUFZ 3.2 – The ultimate free training software for the advanced CW-operator

Just saw this on the CQ-Contest reflector. This has always been a DOS program – Now there is a Windows version that works very well! It is new and may have some bugs, but I have not found any so far! Great way to see how fast you can copy CW!

More on Cognitive Radio

EE Times recently ran an interesting article on cognitive radio. I think that some of the ideas in the article could be applied to amateur radio. For example, wouldn’t it be cool to have a radio that monitors beacons on say 10m or 6m, and then alerts you when the bands are open? It seems to me that the radios already exist have the hardware to do that. The manufacturers just have to program those features in. What other “cognitive” features would you like to see in ham radio transceivers?

The Graying of Ham Radio

If you need more evidence that ham radio is becoming an old man’s hobby, you need look no further than the latest WorldRadio Subscriber Survey. The magazine polled 1,600 readers; 1,237 replied.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that less than 5% (4.5%, to be exact) of the respondents are less than 45 years old, and more than half (52.8%) are more than 65 years old! No wonder a friend of mine always seems to confuse the ARRL with AARP.

The problem, of course, is not that there are so many seniors in ham radio. I think that’s a good thing. The problem is that there are so few kids.

Why is this a problem? Well, I’m not sure of the demographics of the ARRL membership, but I’d bet it’s pretty much the same as in this survey. Being a membership organization, they do have to provide services to their members, BUT this shouldn’t be at the expense of looking out for the future of amateur radio. And it’s my opinion that this is exactly what’s happening.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but we really do need to start working on this. Ham radio has a lot to offer. We have to get it in front of kids again and make it an option for them.

Ten Most Needed Circuits

Thanks to Boing Boing for pointing me to the article, “Ten most needed circuits for the DIYer” on DIYLive. The ten circuits include an audio amplifiers, RC lowpass filter, and power supply.

DIYLive looks like a very cool website for ham radio types. A quick scan turned up other articles that hams will find amusing and useful, including:

  1. Cheap LEDS and
  2. Circuit Symbols for Noobs

More Morse Code Madness

Thanks to Steve W3HF via the SolidCpyCW mailling list, here are two pointers to Morse Code fonts:

  1. This one has just the dits and dahs.
  2. This one has both the dits and dahs as well as the letter they represent.

They’re .ttf files, so they should install on both Macs and PCs.

QMN Celebrates 70th Anniversary

In his latest Michigan Section News, our Section Manager, Dale WA8EFK writes:

The Michigan Net, QMN, celebrated its 70th Anniversary this autumn. Founded in late 1935 by members of the Detroit Amateur Radio Association, QMN is the nation’s oldest spot frequency traffic net and is responsible for a number of innovations in public service communications.

Before QMN, message traffic was handled through individual schedules between stations. Radio Amateurs who were not part of the ARRL Trunk Line system would typically maintain a schedule with stations to the North, South, East and West. When traffic was destined for a location in a particular direction, it was transferred on schedule to the station closest to the addressee. The non-systematic nature of these methods often resulted in delays in delivery.

A Committee of the Detroit Amateur Radio Association, with an eye toward improving public service communications, took advantage of a number of improvements in radio technology in the 1930s, such as stable crystal controlled transmitters and calibrated receivers, to implement a single-frequency traffic net. This new method permitted stations throughout a state or region to meet on a specific frequency, at specific times each day to exchange traffic, resulting in more reliable traffic flow and consistent message originations and delivery. This concept of the spot-frequency traffic net would become and has served as the predominant model for all traffic nets to this day.

At a QMN meeting in Detroit in 1939 a Committee developed the well-known QN-Signals, which were eventually adopted by the ARRL for all CW traffic net use. QN-Signals are widely distributed in ARRL publications and continue to be used throughout North America. QMN also pioneered in the field of disaster response, deploying QMN emergency response teams in an era before the Amateur Radio Emergency Corps (predecessor to today’s ARES) was a commonplace fixture.

Previously, QMN constructed and maintained a VHF packet radio network, which covered a large portion of Lower Michigan. For a time QMN also operated HF PACTOR gateways for use as a public service communications tool. Today QMN continues to serve as Michigan’s Section CW Traffic Net. In addition to handling NTS message traffic, QMN operates a statewide rain gauge network in support of the National Weather Service, having implemented innovative methods for automated message delivery and interface with NOAA computer networks.

QMN members take great pride in the efficiency and reliability of their CW traffic net. In recognition of its long-time role in public service communications, QMN wishes to announce the creation of a new operating award in honor of its 70th year: The QMN Emergency Preparedness Award. The award is open to any licensed radio amateur who meets the following requirements:

  1. He/she must deploy a portable HF station at least five times in a calendar year.
  2. Each time his station is deployed, he must check-in to one of the QMN CW Nets and originate a message to the QMN General Manager (WB8SIW).
  3. This message must be properly transmitted in standard NTS message format and should indicate that he is operating portable or on emergency power and where the station is deployed. Stations participating in NREN functions, emergency exercises, and similar activities may also qualify for this award, provided they are deployed in a portable configuration, check-in to a NTS CW net, and originate the required radiogram to the QMN General Manager.

A sample of the required radiogram message might be:
21 R K8QMN 12 GRAND RAPIDS MI JUN 27
WB8SIW BK
K8QMN OPERATING PORTABLE FROM US
COAST GUARD GROUP GRAND HAVEN
X 73 BK
MEYER

Upon completion of the necessary requirements, the participant will receive a handsome certificate suitable for framing, which attests to his level of emergency preparedness and operating skill.

With the nice weather just a few months away, this award may provide just the incentive to get away from the TV and computer on a warm spring or summer evening.

I had no idea that QMN was such a trailblazer. All those involved deserve a hearty congratulations for their hard work.

WARC Bands Challenge

I’ve always thought there should be more activity on 30m. I’ve even proposed the idea of starting a 30-30 club that would promote the use of 30m, just like the Ten-Ten Club does for 10m. Well, it appears that someone in FISTS is thinking along the same lines. Here’s an announcement for a new operating event sponsored by FISTS:

WARC BANDS CHALLENGE (DX SPONSORED)

DATES: From 00.01 1st January 2006 to 23.59 31st December 2006, this challenge is separate from all other activities in the FISTS calendar.

BANDS: 30M, 17M &12M

RULES:

  1. Mode: C.W. Only
  2. Scoring: 1 point non members, 2 points FISTS members, 3 points Fists club stations.
  3. Exchange: FISTS nr , ( NM,) and IARU locator square (IO85
    etc) which can be used as a multiplier for the total number of contacts made during the year.
    For the locator square to be eligible for a multiplier, a club member must have been worked within the square. i.e. G9XYZ
    scores 2,400 points 12 different locator squares. 2,400 x 12 = 28800.
  4. Repeat stations: can only be worked a maximum of four times per month.

AWARDS: Outright winner: Trophy with call, year, etc, Engraved. with certificates for 2nd and 3rd places. A certificate will also be awarded to the highest points scored by a QRP entrant. (Max 5w output at the transmitter) endorsed accordingly. Therefore all entrants must declare their power output.

LOGS: Monthly returns by the14th. By email in excel format if possible please to: m0bpt@blueyonder.co.uk Snailmail to:
R.D.Walker M0BPT, 38, Wheatley Street, West Bromwich, B70 9TJ, England.

The purpose of the challenge is to promote activity on the WARC bands… it is not a contest. Please bear in mind that contest activity on the WARC’s is deeply frowned upon and whilst you are encouraged to make use of them, number chasing can well be perceived as contest activity so your FISTS number and locator details should be an incidental part of a normal QSO.

CALL “CQ FISTS” on or around the following frequencies;

  • 30m: 10.118 MHz
  • 17m: 18.085 MHz
  • 12m: 24.918 MHz

See you on 30m!

How About a Morse Code Watch for Christmas?

Got all the gear you need? Then, have your significant other buy you a Morse code watch for Christmas. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but think of all the fun you’ll have at club meetings being the CW geek.