PIO Tools Available on CD-ROM

From Allen Pitts, W1AGP, ARRL Media and PR Manager:

The Swiss Army Knife for PIOs 2006 edition is available on CD and now there’s also a copy on the internet.

The ‘Knife is a collection of the most used tools, files, and ideas from PIOs around the country. It is the “go to first” place for most of the questions PIOs will have.

Norm Schklar, WA4ZXV, has put the ‘Knife 06 on a website (http://www.wa4zxv.com/sak/sak.htm)! This will allow people who need things in a hurry to get at information. While it is not a replacement for having the disk yourself (the whole idea of the disk was so that people did not have to search through websites or wanted to present parts in a meeting, I definitely DO see it as an answer for people who still have not heard about the ‘Knife and are looking for something immediately.

Actually, the information as well as the entire disk are available there. The site has available the .iso disk image so that you can burn the CD for yourself and for others. Have fun!

Tech Books Online

Pete Millet’s website, Technical Books Online is a repository of books published from the 1920s through the 1960s. Pete says:

I’ve found that most of the technical books published before about 1964 never had their copyrights renewed, so now are in the public domain. So I am endeavoring to digitize and post some selected books relating to the “vacuum tube age” of electronics here.

There are currently 30 books on the site, all in PDF files, including:

  • Audels Radiomans Guide, Edwin P. Anderson, 1945, 880 pages
    An odd book, about 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ and a whopping 880 pages, “covering theory, construction, and servicing including television electronics”. It covers everything from sounds waves through basic electronics, PA systems (including a little info on a WE theatre amp), transmitters, car and aircraft radio, troubleshooting – you name it, it’s in here. Not a college text, this looks like it could be a handbook for the radio technician or advanced hobbyist of the 1940’s. Lots of good vintage info!
  • Getting the Most Out of Vacuum Tubes, Robert Tomer, 1960, 164 pages – Courtesy of John Atwood
    A Howard Sams Photofact publication, this book addresses the “Types and causes of failures, what to expect from tubes, testing methods, and all about tube maintenance programs”. Quite interesting, this book covers material I’ve not seen comprehensively discussed elsewhere, like failure mechanisms, what makes a “premium” tube special, etc.
  • Radio Amateur’s Handbook, American Radio relay League, 1936, 536 pages
    The venerable ARRL handbook, 1936 edition. Many of us learned all about tubes from this book (OK, in my case, one about 30 years later than this one). Practical information on electronic fundamentals and tube circuits, and lots of ham projects – transmitters, receivers, antennas. Cool catalog section at the end.

There are also several college-level textbooks on the site that cover circuit design. Very cool.

One Reason I Love the Net

I love the Net. Not only does it allow me to spout off on all kinds of amateur radio topics, it gets me the things I need quickly.

For example, I recently purchased a Buxcomm Rascal sound card – radio interface from a guy over the Internet. I received it today, but there was no manual. No problem. I go to the Buxcomm website, find the tech support e-mail address, and within an hour, I get a PDF file of the manual. What great service!

Thanks, Buxcomm.

How to operate Pedestrian Mobile with the KX1

As those of you who read this blog know, I’m the proud builder/owner of an Elecraft KX-1. Below, courtesy of Paul, W0RW, is a message he posted to the Elecraft mailing list. I can’t wait until it gets warm enough outside to try this….Dan

The KX1 is a great portable rig but it is also a great pedestrian mobile rig. You can go to new heights, evade local power line noises and find hot spots near flag poles and in baseball diamonds.

Step by step (peripatetically speaking), here is how to do it…

  1. Get your KX1 on the air from your base and learn how to use all the controls. You are going to have to increase the LED display brightness as soon as you get out in the sun. (Hit MENU, rotate Dial to ‘Led’, Push MENU for 1 second, Push RIT to raise LED brightness to 6). It is a good idea to cary a small instruction cheat sheet with you. If you see P=0 on your display you won’t be having many QSO’s.
  2. Get a banana jack to BNC converter for the KX1 antenna connector.
  3. Get a two-ft. paint stirring stick (free from Home Depot).
  4. Attach an 8 foot whip (or longer) to the stick with duct tape.
  5. Attach a 3 foot piece of insulated wire from the base of the whip to the KX1 hot banana jack (do not use ANY coax for this run).
  6. Attach a 13 foot piece of insulated wire to the black terminal of the banana jack (this is your counterpoise or drag wire).
  7. Put the paint stir stick in your back pocket (low ‘Z’ part of your body). Attach the whip to the upper part of your body by using a short strap around your neck and arm to hold the upper part of the whip.(You could use one of your old shoulder holsters). I am in cold country so i almost always just use my North Face down vest. The whip goes through the arm hole in the vest and rests in my rear pocket.
  8. Turn the KX1 on, install ear buds, walk 15 feet into a clear space (letting the drag wire layout behind you). Set the KX1 for 14060+/- (or your favorite tune up frequency). Push the TUNE buttons. You should get 3W and <1.5 SWR. Start walking. Call CQ xxx/pm. I have “CQ CQ de w0rw/pm” in memory so i don’t have to do anything but hit ‘PLY 1′.
  9. You can lessen your antenna directivity loss by walking away from the station you are communicating with. The single drag wire makes the whip directional. You can get a 3 dB boost from your local flag pole or street light by using it as a reflector.
  10. Operation on 30 and 40 meters will be greatly aided by adding a top hat to the whip. i use 4 of those little underground utilities flag markers (also available at Home D.) You can see my top hat in the ‘photos’ section of the HFPack2 Yahoo Group in the folder ‘w0rw’. Watch out for those top hat eating trees.
  11. I hold the KX1 in my left hand with my left thumb near the paddle and send with my right hand. i added an additional rubber foot under the “L” in Elecraft for a finger grip.
  12. I carry an external battery pack in my pocket for long hikes.
  13. I have a small log that attaches to my cuff, like an NFL Quarterback.
  14. Make sure the 2 bottom case screws are tight and keep the paddle thumb screw tight. If they get loose, add lock washers. You cannot find these screws if you drop them in six inches of snow.

Hope to see you on the trail.

You can see a picture of my KX1/pm on the Adventure Radio Society web site at http://www.arsqrp.com/ars/pages/back_issues/2005_text/1205_text/W0RW.html or read about my KX1 pedestrian mobile contact with Latvia at http://www.eham.net/articles/9262.

Jim, W0EB, replied:

You forgot to mention to watch out for following pedestrians. They tend to step on the drag wire and this gets interesting when it comes up short. Tends to yank the KX1 out of your hand, or in my case, bust the BNC to binding post adapter off. Also taught me to buy a Pomona BNC to BP adapter. They are much more rugged than the cheap ones.

Finally, W0RW sent me this list of recently published pedestrian mobile articles he’s written:

A Parent’s Guide, Revisited

 UPDATE: There are now  two versions of this brochure:

  • The first version I wrote for my own use at WA2HOM. It has contact information for people that want to know more about our activities at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • The second version has space for you to put contact information for your club. Download this version if you want to pass it out at your club events.

So, here’ the text I have so far. As always, comments, questions, compliments, and complaints are welcome!

A Parent’s Guide to Amateur Radio

What is amateur (ham) radio?

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a hobby enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions around the world. They enjoy communicating with one another via two-way radios and experimenting with antennas and electronic circuits.

All kinds of people are amateur radio operators, also known as “hams.” Hams are young, old, men, women, boys, and girls. Kids as young as seven years old have gotten amateur radio licenses, and many hams are active into their 80s.

You never know who you’ll run into on the amateur radio bands: young and old, teachers and students, engineers and scientists, doctors and nurses, mechanics and technicians, kings and entertainers. People from all walks are amateur radio operators.

For example, did you know that most of the astronauts sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) in the last five to ten years have been licensed radio amateurs? They use the amateur radio station on board the ISS to communicate with school groups all over the world as they are flying over.

How do you get into ham radio?

With just a little study, your kids (and you as well!) can learn all they need to know to get a Technician Class license. There are plenty of resources available today to help, including Now You’re Talking, the Technician Class license manual published by the American Radio Relay League.

The Technician Class license is the most popular license for beginners. To get a Technician Class license, you must take a test with 35 multiple-choice questions. The test covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory. Knowing Morse Code is not required to get this license. Technician Class licensees have all ham radio privileges above 30 MHz, including the very popular 2-meter band.

Many amateur radio operators then choose to upgrade to the General Class license. Amateurs with a General Class license are allowed to operate on shortwave frequencies, which are the frequencies normally used for cross-country and worldwide communication. To get a General Class license, you must pass 5 WPM Morse code test and a 35-question multiple-choice examination. The written exam covers intermediate regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory, with a focus on shortwave applications.

What do kids get out of ham radio?

Being involved in amateur radio is beneficial for kids in many ways. They will, for example, learn about electronics and radio propagation. An interest in amateur radio gives them knowledge that will help them succeed in school and in life. It often kindles an interest in math and science, which can then lead to a career in science or engineering.
In addition to technical skills, kids will also learn social skills. It’s often said that amateur radio is a “contact sport.” In making contacts with other amateur radio operators, your child will make friends with other hams around the country and around the world. This, in turn, will help them learn about other cultures and the world we live in.

Amateur radio also teaches children the value of public service. Part of amateur radio’s reason for being is to provide emergency communications and other public service communications. By taking part in those activities, your child will learn how satisfying public service can be.

How much does it cost?

Basic study materials for passing the FCC test–including a copy of Now You’re Talking and getting your first license–usually cost less than $40. Once you have your first license, most hams find it best to start with simple equipment and grow over time. A handheld VHF FM transceiver can be purchased for between $100 and $150, bring the total cost to get your own first license and radio to less than $200. For less than the cost of a video game system, kids will gain a hobby that will benefit them all through their lives.

Conclusion

If your son or daughter has expressed an interest in amateur radio, we hope you’ll be supportive. You may even want to consider getting a license of your own, so that you can share this experience with your son or daughter. Many parents have done this and made amateur radio a family affair.

For more information:

[[ Here, I plan to put links to the ARRL and other websites, plus a box in which clubs can insert their website's URL and/or phone number. ]]

Minnesota QSO Party 2006

A week ago Saturday, I worked the Minnesota QSO Party. Fortunately, I’m in a sweet spot for working Minnesota on 40m. Coupled with good band conditions, that made working this year’s MNQP a lot of fun.

Here are the vital statistics:

  • Operating time: 5 hours, 55 minutes
  • Totals Qs: 89
  • Counties worked: 53 out of 87
  • Mode: All contacts were CW. I tuned around the phone band a couple of times, but never heard anyone on phone.
  • Claimed score: 9,434

Overall, the contest was a blast. There were many rovers, and as I’ve said before, it’s the rovers that really make a QSO party. I’d like to especially thank:

  • AC0W (5 contacts)
  • K0PC (7 contacts)
  • KE0G (3 contacts)
  • N0EO (6 contacts)
  • N0IJ (5 contacts)
  • N0IM (7 contacts)
  • N0PI (8 contacts)
  • NE9U (9 contacts)
  • W0AA (9 contacts)

They were all great ops, and I thank them for their efforts. I got a nice QSL card from N0PI. I actually got four cards, each listing two of the eight contacts. The back of the card has a photo of N0PI, who did all the driving and worked VHF and UHF, and a photo of K0AD, who apparently worked the CW HF station. The card notes that their route took them 330 miles, through 20 counties in 9 and a half hours. Now I feel cheated that I only worked them in 8 of the 20 counties!

Another side benefit of working the MN QP is that I worked three stations whose call signs spell words: the aforementioned N0PI, N0AT, and W0OR. All three of their QSLs arrived today, and I was happy to get them. Thanks, guys!

Three A Day, Revisited

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I try to make three contacts a day. So, how am I doing? Well, a couple of weeks ago (on January 24, 2006, to be exact), I noticed that I completed the 4000th QSO since I’ve been using a computer logbook.

Now, my first QSO in the computer log is dated February 20, 2003. Using the Date Duration Calendar, I calculated that there are 1,087 days between 2/20/03 and 2/11/06. Since I’m now up to 4,210 QSOs, that means I’ve averaged 3.87 QSOs/day over that period.

Now, that does include contests that I work here at KB6NU, such as the Fists Sprint I participated in today and the Minnesota QSO Party I worked last weekend. It does not, however, inlude contacts I make at Field Day or when our club does a special event station. At any rate, I’m kind of proud of my nearly 4 Qs/day.

A Parent’s Guide to Ham Radio

 UPDATE 9/24/12: There are now  two versions of this brochure:

  • The first version I wrote for my own use at WA2HOM. It has contact information for people that want to know more about our activities at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • The second version has space for you to put contact information for your club. Download this version if you want to pass it out at your club events.

Last week, I received an e-mail from a middle school teacher here in Ann Arbor. She had heard about SuitSat and wanted someone to come and talk to her class about it and about amateur radio in general. I did this Monday. Unfortunately, by Monday morning the signal from SuitSat was too weak for me to receive with the simple J-pole antenna I have, but I was able to show them pictures from the SuitSat website and play for them some of the recordings that hams made over the weekend.

Overall, I think that the talk was a great success, with several of the kids showing a lot of interest in amateur radio. I also got our club to agree to donate a copy of Now You’re Talking to the school, and I plan on keeping in touch with the teacher and to be available should any of them decide to go for a license.

I’ve also recently been talking to a guy in Monroe, MI, whose son just got his license and who has been trying to organize more activities for kids centering on amateur radio. Last night, we spoke on EchoLink, and he brought up the idea of a “parent’s manual.” That is, an article or brochure designed for parents of kids who might be interested in ham radio. The brochure would help give some guidance to parents whose kids are interested in the hobby, with the hope that it would help them be supportive of their kids.

Here is my first cut at an outline for such a brochure:

A Parent’s Guide to Amateur Radio

What is amateur (ham) radio?

How do you get into ham radio?
– Three different classes of licenses
– Take classes or study the book “Now You’re Talking.”
– Join a local club

How much does it cost?
– time
– money

What can kids do in ham radio?
– list the various activities

What do kids get out of ham radio?
– technical skills
– social skills
– public service

Conclusion

What do you think? I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

A New Year, A New General Class

The 2006 version of my General Class license course started this week. It’s a much smaller class this year. Instead of the 28 that signed up last year, I have only four in the class. It’s too bad that I don’t have more, but with the smaller class I can help each student individually.

It also lets me hold the class in my basement, rather than a classroom somewhere. This makes it a lot easier. I don’t have to schlepp equipment to the classroom, and I can think up ways to demonstrate points on the fly.

For example, two years ago when I was teaching a class of five in my basement, I was explaining the concept of impedance. I drew the diagram of how resistance and reactance combine vectorially and did a sample calculation. Then, it hit me that I could use my antenna analyzer to measure the reactance of a coil, the resistance of a resistor, and then the impedance of the resistor/coil circuit.

First, I made the resistance and reactance measurements and calculated the reactance. Then, I actually measured the reactance. Voila! It turned out very close to the calculated value. I couldn’t have done that in a classroom because I wouldn’t have had the components, and at any rate, the students way in the back probably couldn’t see the demo, anyway.

I say that there are four guys in the class, but one of them has already passed the written test. In fact, he’s already passed the Extra Class written test. Why is he taking the class then? Well, he passed the test by memorizing the answers. So, he thought he’d take the class in order to really learn the material. Wow, does that put the pressure on me or what?

Here’s the outline I’m using for the class:

WEEK 1

  • Introduction
    • Why get a General Class ticket?
    • CW
      • Still a requirement, although will probably go away in 2006
      • CW programs
        • G4FON CW Trainer (www.g4fon.co.uk)
        • K7QO (http://puffin.tamucc.edu/k7qo/ or get a CD from Fists – www.fists.org)
    • Text: The ARRL General Class License Manual, ISBN 0-87259-920-5
  • Electrical Principles – Chapter 5
    • DC Circuits
      • Voltage (5-1)
      • Current (5-2)
      • Resistance (5-2)
      • Ohm’s Law (5-3)
      • Kirchoff’s Laws (5-4)
      • Resistors in Series and Parallel (5-7)
    • Power (5-8)
      • Decibels (5-10)

WEEK 2

  • AC Circuits
    • Alternating Current (5-13)
    • Reactance (5-17)
      • Capacitive Reactance
      • Inductive Reactance
      • Impedance (5-19)
    • Transformers (5-20)
  • Circuit Components – Chapter 6
    • Resistors (6-1)
    • Capacitors (6-3)
    • Inductors (6-7)
    • Transformers (6-9)
    • Diodes (6-10)
    • Transistors (6-13)

WEEK 3

  • Signals and Emissions – Chapter 8
    • Signal Quality (8-1)
    • Amplitude Modulation (8-2)
    • Single Sideband (8-5)
    • Frequency Modulation (8-9)
    • Phase Modulation (8-11)
    • Digital Modes (8-15)
  • Practical Circuits – Chapter 7
    • Power Supplies (7-1)
    • Filters (7-9)
    • SSB Transmitters (7-11)
    • SSB Receivers (7-12)

WEEK 4

  • Antennas and Feedlines – Chapter 9
    • Polarization (9-1)
    • Random Wire Antenna (9-2)
    • Vertical Antenna (9-2)
    • Half-Wavelength Dipole Antenna (9-5)
    • Directional Antennas (9-6)
    • Loop Antennas (9-12)
    • Feedlines (9-16)
    • Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) (9-19)
    • Impedance Matching (9-20)
  • Propagation – Chapter 3
    • Ionospheric Propagation (3-1)
    • Critical Frequency (3-4)
    • Maximum Usable Frequency (3-7)
    • Solar Activity (3-8)
    • Scatter Modes (3-13)

WEEK 5

  • Operating Procedure – Chapter 2
    • Telephony (2-1)
    • Operating Courtesy (2-2)
    • Emergency Communications (2-4)
    • Directional Antennas (2-9)
    • Station Records (2-10)
    • Digital Communications (2-13)
  • FCC Rules (Chapter 1)
    • Operating Privileges (1-1)
    • Transmitter Power Standards (1-6)
    • Good Amateur Practice (1-11)
    • Prohibited Transmissions (1-11)
    • RF Power Amplifiers (1-15)
    • Administering Amateur Exams (1-16)
    • Station Identification (1-19)

WEEK 6

  • Amateur Practice – Chapter 4
    • Test Equipment (4-1)
    • Testing Transmitter Performance (4-6)
    • SSB Power Measurement (4-9)
    • Station Accessories (4-12)
    • RFI (4-16)
    • Safety (4-20)
    • Mobile Operation (4-25)
  • RF Safety – Chapter 10
    • Safety Principles (10-2)
    • Safe Exposure Levels (10-5)
    • RF Exposure Rules (10-7)
    • Field Strength Measurements (10-17)

WEEK 7

  • Setting Up Your Station – Chapter 11
    • HF Equipment Features
    • Buying Used Equipment
    • Station Location
    • Practical Antennas
  • Exam Review

My idea is that it’s probably more interesting for people to jump right into the electronics, than to bore them with rules and regulations. I also think that they’ll be more successful as amateurs, and have more fun with amateur radio, if they have a good grasp of the electronics.

We’re off to a good start, I think, and the students seem motivated. I’m determined that all three will get their General Class licenses by the time this is all over.

A New SWL Magazine

Here’s news of a new SWL magazine in Great Britain. More power to them!

A new radio listener magazine is being published in the UK by Nice One Publishing Ltd. With the full title of Radio and Communications MONITORING MONTHLY, and the ISSN 1749 – 7809. The magazine covers all aspects of listening including world-wide broadcast and utilities, military, satellites, DXTV, amateur, data-modes and propagation, with many contributors well known for their enthusiasm and expertise.

MONITORING MONTHLY is edited by Kevin Nice, G3UNR, who has long experience in the listener magazine field, and whose aim is to produce the world’s leading radio listener magazine.

Published every four weeks, the first (February 2006) issue is available now and will be in the UK shops on Tuesday January 24th. The annual subscription rate into the U.S. (until Feb 13th) is GBP 54.00 for 13 issues.

To subscribe contact :-

Monitoring Monthly
B1 Arena Business Centre
9 Nimrod Way
Wimborne
BH21 7SH
United Kingdom
or
leslie.mulligan@monitoringmonthly.co.uk
or ring us on + 44 1202 862692

Payments by sterling check payable to Nice one Publishing Ltd please, or credit card.

Our intention is to produce an on-line delivered subscription later this year. Meanwhile, keep in touch through our E-mail Forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/monitoring_monthly or visit our website www.monitoringmonthly.co.uk. If you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you, and 73

Clive Hardy G4SLU
Monitoring Monthly M0NMO
clive.hardy@monitoringmonthly.co.uk