New QSL Cards for WA2HOM

wa2hom_qsl_card

We finally got some new QSL cards for WA2HOM, our station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Yesterday, Jim, K8ELR, and I spent a lot of our time there making out cards to send out via the ARRL’s Outgoing QSL Service. I’ve also signed us up for service via the Second District QSL Bureau.

We have actually worked quite a bit of DX lately. Jim has worked a lot of these stations on PSK31, and we’ve participated in some contests, which make working DX a bit easier. Yesterday, for example, we made a couple of contacts in the Scandinavian Activity Contest. This contest was very much like a regional QSO party here in the states. We worked stations in Finland, Norway, and a couple in Sweden.

With all this activity, we should be able to make our QSL card display a lot more interesting.

TenTec Release the 610 USB Keyer/Audio I/F

In a previous post, I mentioned the TenTec 610 USB Keyer/Audio Interface. I called it “elusive,” but apparently it’s now been released. The TenTec website notes, “When the 610 is used with a CW paddle, it will decipher the CW being sent and turn it into keyboard codes that are sent to the PC.”

If they can do it, I can do it, and I think this would be a cool application for the Bare Bones Arduino microcontroller that we built at our ham club’s meeting last month. I’d like to take this a step further and use it as a general text input device on my Mac.

The cost of the 610 is $169. This still seems a bit high to me, but it also includes an audio interface, so that you can use standard headphones and microphones for remote operation. The audio interface must perform the A-D and D-A conversions needed when using conventional headphones and microphones.

NIST Updates Popular Guide to Radio-Controlled Clocks

From the 9/22/09 edition of NIST TechBeat. I haven’t read this yet, so I’m not sure how much application this information has to ham radio, but I love these clocks….Dan

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its popular guide to radio-controlled clocks. Many millions of radio-controlled clocks, watches, and other timepieces are automatically synchronized to official NIST time through special NIST radio broadcasts. The guide is intended to help manufacturers develop reliable and usable radio-controlled clocks, and help consumers select appropriate products, learn how they work, and troubleshoot reception problems.

In the United States, the signals received by radio-controlled clocks originate from NIST Radio Station WWVB, located near Fort Collins, Colo. When working properly, radio-controlled clocks always display the correct time and date, down to the exact second, and never require adjustments. Radio-controlled clocks are automatically updated for such changes as Daylight Saving Time, leap years, and leap seconds.

The updated guide contains a number of changes, including the revised rules for Daylight Saving Time, corrections in time zone tables, and several new recommendations for manufacturers. The guide also lists the latest WWVB specifications, several of which were changed—broadcast power was boosted, for instance—to make radio-controlled clocks work better.

The guide is among NIST’s most requested publications. Each year, the guide is downloaded from the NIST web site about 100,000 times, and an additional 500 hard copies are disseminated.

WWVB Radio Controlled Clocks: Recommended Practices for Manufacturers and Consumers (2009 Edition) is available online. You may also receive a printed copy by sending your mailing address to sp960@boulder.nist.gov or calling (303) 497- 4343.

What Kind of Ham Are You?

Tim, N9PUZ, writes to the HamRadioHelpGroup:

Over the weekend I was catching up on some reading and sorting through archived emails, etc. I came across this article by Steve Roberts N4RVE. Steve has moved on to some really high-tech sail boats now but at one time he rode bicycles loaded with ham gear [[and computers...Dan]] on a 17,000 mile trek around the US from 1983 to 1991.

In this article—first written in 1988 and updated in 2004&mdahs;he describes the different types of Hams he has met during his journeys.

So, what kind of ham are you? I find that I’m a little bit of each one of the types that N4RVE writes about.

30M is Still Hot!

I sat down a bit earlier and worked in quick succession:

  • CT8/DL2MDU
  • OK2KJU
  • IK2DAD—another DX station for my collection of QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words!
  • EI6IZ

I don’t seem to work many EIs so that was a cool one. And all these guys were using simple wire antennas, so you know the band was hot.

Operating Notes: Saturday, September 19, 2009

I had kind of a busy day operating today and made some great contacts, so I thought I’d write a bit about them.

I got to WA2HOM this morning about 11 am and fired up the rig. 40m was in fine shape, and I made several CW contacts in quick succession. Then, for some reason, I got it into my head to see what was happening on phone. Tuning up to 7215, I heard a KF4 working the SC QSO Party and worked him. I tuned around a bit and heard another, so I worked him, too. I thought I’d try to see how many SC contacts I could log, but after tuning around a bit, I couldn’t find any others, so I kept tuning.

It was then that I ran across W4CA, operating from near the Buena Vista exit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He and a bunch of other stations were operating the Blue Ridge Bonanza. I worked this special event either last year or the year before and had a blast doing it. The stations in VA all use the callsign W4CA, while the stations in NC use the callsign W4NC. I have bicycled several segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s just a wonderful ride.

While I don’t bicycle much anymore, I still have it in the back of my mind to do the entire Parkway one of these days. I used to figure that I could do it in seven days, but since I haven’t biked much at all since getting back into ham radio, I rather doubt I could accomplish that now.

I also worked another special event station, W1ORS, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter, America’s first practical helicopter.

About 1:30pm, Stuart, KD8LWR, and his mother visited the station. Stuart is the guy who visited the ARROW Field Day site this June. Since then, he’s gotten his ticket, and is now KD8LWR. We’re still working on getting him set up with an HF station at home, but aren’t quite there yet. Stuart was able to make four or five contacts, then he and his mother had to leave. I buttoned up the station and headed home myself.

This evening, I decided that I hadn’t had enough for one day and headed down to my shack. I made a couple of contacts on 40m, but then decided to see what was going on on 30m. I should have tuned up sooner. 30m was really hopping with DX.

I first work OQ5M, Franki. Franki is a regular reader of this blog (thanks, Franki!). Next, I had a nice QSO with Romeo, IK2DJV (see QSL card below). I looked him up on QRZ.Com, so I knew that he spoke English, and we had a nice chat. Doesn’t Varese look like a great place to visit?

After signing with Romeo, I called CQ a couple of times, without an answer. Since I wasn’t having any luck, I decided I’d better clean my bowling ball. Whilst doing that, I left the radio tuned to 10114. After a couple of minutes, I heard VK6HD call CQ. That was a stroke of luck. I was the first to call him and he heard me right off. What a cool way to end a full day of operating.

Hamfests Are Good for More Than Just Buying Stuff

Sunday, I attended the Findlay (OH) hamfest. It was a beautiful day, and there were plenty of sellers, and it was a lot of fun. I actually didn’t find that much to buy. I picked up a small, 50W dummy load with a BNC tap for $30, as well as a dual-band antenna for my VX-5.

The big fun, though, was talking to people. For example, I saw my friend, Mark, W8MP, who was there with his family (XYL Rose, KD8EGG; son Brian, KD8EEH; daughter, Roxanne, KD8GWT; and another son whose name I forget). Mark and I have an ongoing discussion on whose sub-hobby is crazier—county hunting (his) or collecting QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words (mine).

Mark just completed his first pass at working all counties, and now he’s off on one of the other crazy things that county hunters do. That’s nearly 4,000 QSL cards. I’m still under 150 QSLs with my little pastime.

Anyway, we were re-hashing this debate when K8OIL walked by. Mark stopped him and I explained what I do, and he graciously agreed to swap cards with me. Mark and I stood there and ragchewed for about a half hour, and in that short time, we also spotted:

  • KG8UP
  • KA9IVY
  • KM8AM
  • K8BAR, and
  • K8RAT

They all were very gracious and had interesting stories to tell. K8RAT, for example, told us that he chose his call because he’s a member of the “Radio Adventure Team.” He asked if I’d worked any other stations with callsigns that spell animal words. I mentioned that I’d blogged about this and swapped e-mail with W2ASS. He got a kick out of that (pun intended).

All in all, I spotted eight hams with callsigns that spell words. In addition to the ones above, I met KD8CUT and W8RUT. I’m not sure if face-to-face QSOs should count, but since I’m making the rules, I’m going to say that they do.

Website Aims to Unite College Clubs

CollegeARC.Com is a place for college clubs to share information and get ideas for new projects and activities. It looks like it was started by two brothers: Bryce Salmi, KB1LQC, and Brent Salmi, KB1LQD. Currently, the site has articles on repeaters, installing a vertical antenna, and the club competition feature of the November Sweepstakes.

Here’s what the About page has to say:

College Amateur Radio Club Association provides a unique opportunity to the amateur radio community. We have been established to provide a way for the college amateur radio community to interact not just as individual college clubs, but as a community of campus stations who interact and support each other in many ways. In recent years there has talk of a decline in amateur radio but there have been successes too! CollegeARC.com is here to show that amateur radio is still growing strong. We are also here to showcase how amateur radio is used for fun and as a way to experiment with today’s cutting-edge technology. While some college clubs have seen a diminishing amount of activity, others have enjoyed a surge in members and activity. We believe that by providing a way for clubs to interact with each other, a strong foundation for amateur radio activity on college campuses can be poured for years to come!

I like the recent upsurge in college clubs, and I think we should do what we can to support it.

How to Give a Lousy Presentation

Part of what makes ham radio so special is the spirit of sharing. Unfortunately, many hams are hesitant to share because they’re not confident in their presentation skills. This article, “How to Give a Lousy Presentation,” on BusinessWeek.Com just might help. Communications skills coach Carmine Gallo lists 15 of the worst things to do when giving a presentation. Here are the eight that I found the most appropriate:

  • Misspell words.
  • Create distracting color combinations.
  • Use a really small font size.
  • Look completely and totally disinterested.
  • Look disheveled.
  • Read every word of each slide.
  • Don’t practice.
  • Open with an offensive or off-color joke.

Make your next club presentation a really good one. Read the complete article on the BusinessWeek.com website.

Meet Hamlet, the Newest Member of the WA2HOM Team

hamlet

Meet Hamlet, the newest member of the WA2HOM team. Mostly he just sits around and chews the fat, but I’m trying to teach him CW.