More Ways to Learn and Practice CW

Several folks have been praising a new website, Learn CW Online. This website has the following features:

  • Koch Method CW Course
  • Highscores — compare your results with others
  • Speed Practice (Code Groups, Plain Text Training, Callsign Training)
  • Convert text to CW (does not require a login)
  • Forum for user discussions and feedback

This looks like a great resource for Mac users, like me, or Linux users who can’t run the G4FON program.

David Ring, N1EA writes to the Fists mailing list:

Bryn N4VM has generously made available hundreds of hours of W1AW code practice mp3 files that you can download and play on your mp3 player or computer at

They range in speed from 5 to 40 wpm. Text files showing the sent characters are also provided. They are indexed by speed: 5, 7-1/2, 10, 13, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 wpm as well by date of transmission. There are also two directories 18 and 18 wpm – both of which contain 18 wpm Morse code practice.

Below the directories of the various speeds are directories with dates. These directories (folders) are different files than the one’s above and are from an earlier period where perhaps Bryn indexed the files by date instead of by speed. So if you run out of the ones indexed by speed, there are entire W1AW sessions recorded here.

Buying a Rig for the Museum

As I’ve reported before, we have been awarded a $10,000 grant by the IEEE for setting up an amateur radio station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. $3,000 has been allotted for a transceiver. There are a lot of options, so I’m asking for some help.  Here’s some of my thinking so far:

1. Don’t purchase anything and use our club’s IC-746PRO for a while.

  • The IC-746PRO is a good performer, and lots of us already know how to operate the radio.
  • Will give us time to try to get a manufacturer to donate a radio.
  • We could use some of the money for other stuff for the shack.


  • Ties up the club’s radio at the museum.
  • Technology is not quite as impressive as some of the newer radios, such as the IC-756PROIII or TenTec Omni-7. (The HOM people want impressive.)

2. Purchase another IC-746PRO for the museum.

  • The IC-746PRO is a good performer, and lots of us already know how to operate the radio.
  • We could use some of the money for other stuff for the shack.


  • Technology is not quite as impressive as some of the newer radios, such as the IC-756PROIII or TenTec Omni-VII. (The HOM people want impressive.)

3. Purchase a TenTec Omni-VII.

  • New technology, good performance.
  • Has features that will make remote control somewhat easier.


  • Eats up the entire budget for a radio.

4. Purchase an Icom IC-756PROIII.

  • New technology, good performance.
  • Impressive display.
  • Price includes power supply.


  • Eats up the entire budget for a radio.

Sooooo, what do you guys think?

Michigan ACC to present Webinar

From Weaver’s Words, August 27, 2008:

Michigan Affiliated Club Coordinator Dan Romanchik, KB6NU (that’s me!), will present a Webinar titled Kit Building.  This Webinar will be on Monday, September 22 at 8 PM. This online session will provide an excellent introduction to kit building even for hams who are convinced kit-building is beyond their ability.

Great Lakes Division members will receive an official invitation to the Webinar shortly. It will be hosted on Atlantic Division Director Bill Edgar’s (N3LLR) Webinar system that is graciously made available for Great Lakes Division use. Additional details of the Webinar content will also be
distributed in coming days.

This will be a Web version of the kit-building talk that I’ve given to several clubs in the area. Although this is being organized by Jim Weaver and primarily being promoted throughout the Great Lakes Division, I don’t see any reason why others can’t also sign up for the webinar.

RIP Uncle Tom

I’ve written before about Tom Kneitel, K2AES, known to some Electronics Illustrated readers as “Uncle Tom.” I’m sorry to report that he’s passed. His stuff was always a lot of fun to read.

The Orlando Sentinel article points out that, ‘He was the grandson of Max Fleischer, the cartoonist who had a Miami animation studio that created Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons.” You learn something new every day.

Here’s the ARRL story on Kneitel.

This Weekend on the Radio at KB6NU

It was a very busy ham radio weekend:

  • Operated from the museum Saturday morning from 1400Z – 1800Z. The best DX was KL7WP/7 from Portland. I got a little excited when we first made contact because I was hoping to get the Alaska contact.

    We had two very cool visitors. The first was a little girl and her mother. We got the girl to send her name in Morse Code, and the kid really enjoyed that. The two seemed genuinely interested, especially when we told them that we were going to put up a station at the museum.

    The second was a middle school teacher from Oakland County. He was interested in the no-solder, code practice oscillator as something he could get his students to build.

  • As if that wasn’t enough ham radio for me on Saturday, I got on the air that evening while waiting for Silvia to get home from work. I worked VK4TT on 20m CW and IK1RLI on 30m CW. There was quite a bit of activity on 20m, and I probably should have stayed there.
  • To top off the evening, I worked K1FIR, another card to add to my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words.
  • Sunday morning, after a short QSO with KA1VRM, I went to help a friend with some tower maintenance.
  • Sunday evening, the propagation gods once again smiled on me. I just worked 7X4AN, Med, in Algeria (a new one for me) on 20m and IW0GXY, Max, on 30m.

All in all, quite a good weekend for ham radio here at KB6NU.


About a month ago, I drove over to Utica, MI to attend the General Motors ARC “Trunk Swap.” They charged $5/car, whether you were selling anything or not. They were also selling donuts for a buck apiece. the thing started at 7am and ended at 10am.

I didn’t count exactly, but I’m guessing that there were maybe 15 or 20 sellers and approximately 50 buyers. I’m also going to guess that they took in about $125. It wasn’t a big event, but it wasn’t hard to organize, and it was fun.

I liked it so much that I’m thinking of trying it here in Ann Arbor. We could commandeer part of a parking lot–perhaps the Pioneer High School lot or maybe a grocery store lot and run our own “trunk-fest.” Would you attend? Would you bring our some junk to sell?

A Couple of Links

The BBC reports that Morse Code is Alive and Well (in Great Britain, anyway).

I’d rather osculate than oscillate.

Soldering PL-259s……Again!

Threads on attaching PL-259s to coax are a mainstay of most amateur radio mailing lists. If you subscribe to as many as I do, you see at least five or six every year. This last week, yet another one popped up on the HamRadioHelpGroup. Below, is, imho, the most useful reply:

A good tool for this application is sold under the Weller/Cooper name at home centers and some larger craft stores. They market an 80 Watt pencil type iron for working with stained glass.

Unless you are installing lots of connectors every day I find this to be a really good tool. It has a thick, heavy tip that retains heat
well and is often much less expensive than what appears to be the same 80 Watt iron sold through electronics distributor type outlets. There are two models:

  • SP80L (Regular model)
  • SPG80L (“Stained Glass” model)

I bought mine 4 or 5 years ago in a cutesy pink and blue bubble pack at a Hobby Lobby store for under $20. The same iron at the online electronics places was about $45 if I recall.

Moral of the story: Go shopping with your wife occasionally. You can find useful stuff in the darnedest places!

Tim, N9PUZ

Pronto (a site I never heard of before) lists six sources for the SPG80L, including Amazon ($24.23 – the cheapest price) and Ace Hardware ($37.97 – the highest price). 

I think I want one of these. When I’m not soldering PL-259s, I can use it make stained glass windows.

Need Hawaii?

KE9VEE reminds us that this coming weekend is the Hawaii QSO Party.

Should be lots of HI stations on that are eager to work you.


Digital Comms Conference, Sept 26-28, Chicago, IL

From WB9QZB via the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list:

The ARRL/TAPR DCC (Digital Communications Conference) is being held in Chicago on September 26 – 28, 2008.

The DCC will be at the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs near O’Hare airport with a free airport to hotel shuttle and easily accessible from major interstate highways.

The DCC is the premiere, national, annual digital ham radio conference covering ALL the Digital Voice & Data technologies from HF to Microwaves.

There will be BOTH Technical & Introductory presentations covering all levels of experience with the digital modes and also an ARRL forum.

This year for the first time at the DCC there will be a D-STAR Friday Night event. We plan to have innovators, pioneers & leaders in D-STAR digital voice & data technology available to present and take your questions.

Icom will be at the DCC and TAPR plans to have it’s 70cm & 23cm D-STAR digital voice & data repeaters operating at the DCC connected to the internet gateway.

You can get more information about the DCC at

Reigster before September 1st & save $10 on your registration fee.

You can register at