Soldering Difficult Connections

Almost three years ago, I blogged about splicing my 40m dipole back together. The problem was that the wire had corroded, and I just couldn’t solder it properly. This episode came to mind when I read the following e-mail by Chuck, W5USJ, to the qrp-l.org mailing list:

Not a new thing and came up recently — problems soldering oxidized wire like coax shield and connections that are bright nickel plated and so on.

I used to have the old type rosin flux used for soldering copper plumbing. It worked really well for difficult surfaces (used sparingly). But that’s no longer available in favor of fluxes that will work with lead-free solders.

What I found that works really well is something called NoKorode Regular Paste Flux made by Rectorseal. It’s designed for lead-free solder but seems to work well on just about any metal. On the label there is this note: “Non-aggressive paste flux. Works on copper, galvanized iron, lead, tinned steel and other metals.”

One particular problem I have is with the shield on RG-174, the silver plated stuff anyway. With regular solder, even with high heat the solder wouldn’t stick well and often the insulation melted to the point of damage.

I had prepared some 174 with a short pigtail of twisted shield.

With the NoKorode, I applied a really thin coating on the shield. Then when I applied the solder it completely wicked into the shield almost instantly with complete coverage. As the name suggests, it does not seem to be corrosive in any way.

On some RCA connectors with what looks like nickel plating, I lightly dipped the end of my solder into the paste. Then tinned the area around the holes for the connections. That worked great too when I attached the wires; it was much easier to make a proper connection. No where near as much time was needed to heat the joint to get the solder to stick to the bright nickel surface.

It doesn’t take much to do the job with this flux and used sparingly should be fine for soldering other than electronics circuits. I’m going to try it with some of the bright metal finish on connectors like PL-259s. The 1.7oz container that I bought should last a very long time.

Sounds like I need to go get some of this stuff. If you go to the Rectorseal website, you’ll find that they make a whole bunch of different fluxes for use in different situations.

UPDATE
I just got this update from W5USJ:

Got some replies asking where to find the flux I used. One mentioned a few times was ACE hardware. My source is a local hardware, plumbing supply, lumber yard, welding supply, mini-Walmart affiliated with no national chain. It’s located in the county seat city of Emory, population 1100, Rains County, population 11,000. Sort of a rural location you might say…8^)

Also, I’d expect some plumbing supply stores would handle the NoKorode brand. Oatey has a similar product and a much bigger name in the brand stores. But the NoKorode seemed like a better idea to me. So I haven’t tried the Oatey brand.

The Ham That Has Everything?

These two photos were e-mailed to me with the subject line, “The Ham That Has Everything.”


ham that has everything 1

ham that has everything 2

My comment is that I bet this ham doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend!

The Ultimate Stealth Antenna?

From the 2010-01-26 issue of NIST Tech Beat:

Engineered Metamaterials Enable Remarkably Small Antennas

NIST Z Antenna
This Z antenna tested at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is smaller than a standard antenna with comparable properties. Its high efficiency is derived from the “Z element” inside the square that acts as a metamaterial, greatly boosting the signal sent over the air. The square is 30 millimeters on a side. Credit: C. Holloway/NIST

In an advance that might interest Q-Branch, the gadget makers for James Bond, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and partners from industry and academia have designed and tested experimental antennas that are highly efficient and yet a fraction of the size of standard antenna systems with comparable properties. The novel antennas may be useful in ever-shrinking and proliferating wireless systems such as emergency communications devices, micro-sensors and portable ground-penetrating radars to search for tunnels, caverns and other geophysical features.

NIST engineers are working with scientists from the University of Arizona (Tucson) and Boeing Research & Technology (Seattle, Wash.) to design antennas incorporating metamaterials—materials engineered with novel, often microscopic, structures to produce unusual properties. The new antennas radiate as much as 95 percent of an input radio signal and yet defy normal design parameters. Standard antennas need to be at least half the size of the signal wavelength to operate efficiently; at 300 MHz, for instance, an antenna would need to be half a meter long. The experimental antennas are as small as one-fiftieth of a wavelength and could shrink further.

In their latest prototype device,* the research team used a metal wire antenna printed on a small square of copper measuring less than 65 millimeters on a side. The antenna is wired to a signal source. Mounted on the back of the square is a “Z element” that acts as a metamaterial—a Z-shaped strip of copper with an inductor (a device that stores energy magnetically) in the center (see photo).

“The purpose of an antenna is to launch energy into free space,” explains NIST engineer Christopher Holloway, “But the problem with antennas that are very small compared to the wavelength is that most of the signal just gets reflected back to the source. The metamaterial makes the antenna behave as if it were much larger than it really is, because the antenna structure stores energy and re-radiates it.” Conventional antenna designs, Holloway says, achieve a similar effect by adding bulky “matching network” components to boost efficiency, but the metamaterial system can be made much smaller. Even more intriguing, Holloway says, “these metamaterials are much more ‘frequency agile.’ It’s possible we could tune them to work at any frequency we want, on the fly,” to a degree not possible with conventional designs.

The Z antennas were designed at the University of Arizona and fabricated and partially measured at Boeing Research & Technology. The power efficiency measurements were carried out at NIST laboratories in Boulder, Colo. The ongoing research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

* R.W. Ziolkowski, P. Jin, J.A. Nielsen, M.H. Tanielian and C.L. Holloway. Design and experimental verification of Z antennas at UHF frequencies. IEEE Antennas Wireless Propag. Lett., 2009 vol. 8, pp. 1329-1332.

Where are the Ham Radio Hackers?

On the Ten-Tec Omni VII Yahoo Group, Bill, KZ3DX writes:

If I was 17 years-old I would be hacking I-phones and other items like George Hotz, the 17 year-old from New Jersey who was able to unlock the Apple I-phone so that it could be used on other cell service networks.

When I was his age, I was “hacking” dial telephones. Then one day the phone company showed up at my house. My parents were not impressed with my technical abilities.

This morning there is a story that George has just hacked the “un-hackable” Sony 3 Play Station. He says the hack was 95% software and 5% hardware.

A quick check of the modifications site run by that guy over in Denmark, shows that there are NO MODS for the Omni VII…interesting.

I just wonder how many strange and wonderful things can be done with those 36 buttons/switches on the front panel.

Can the O7 be made even better??

My question would be, “Why stop at pressing some buttons on the front panel”? Why doesn’t someone really hack the Omni VII and develop a completely new software package for it? Rigs like the Omni VII and the Elecraft K3 would seem to be perfect candidates for this kind of hacking.

Sure, there is an order of magnitude difference between a $300 iPod and a $3,000 radio, but we’re big boys, aren’t we? Besides, aside from overdriving the finals, what real damage can you do to the radio? It seems to me that even if you manage to screw up the software in the rig, you can get back to square one by simply re-loading the manufacturer’s software.

Ham radio operators have a long history of modifying their radios. Page through any stack of QSTs or CQ Magazines from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and you’ll find many articles describing modifications to the popular radios of the day. About the only thing hams do to their rigs today is to clip a diode to allow it to operate out-of-band.

What does it say about the technical capabilities of today’s hams that we haven’t yet done with our gear what some 17-year-old kid has done with the iPhone and the PlayStation? Why don’t we have any third-party software for Omni VII or the K3? I think if a manufacturer actually encouraged third-party software development, they’d quickly gain a following and make their brand even stronger, don’t you?

International Amateur Radio Union E-Letter, January 2010

In this issue:

  • A Message From IARU President Tim Ellam
  • Haiti Earthquake Report

—————————————-

A Message From Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA

Secretary Stafford requested that I provide an update on IARU activities for the IARU E-Letter. I am pleased to do so.

Some recent activities:

  • IARU Secretary Rod Stafford, W6ROD and IARU Coordinator for Emergency Communications, Hans Zimmermann, F5VKP/HB9AQS have attended meetings of the ITU Development Sector and are preparing for the World Telecommunications Development Conference to be held in Hyderābād, India in May.
  • IARU Vice President Ole Garpestad,LA2RR and I presented our credentials to ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT. We were fortunate to have a lengthy discussion with Dr. Touré where we outlined the goals for IARU within ITU. Dr. Touré expressed his appreciation of the activities of the IARU and the Amateur Service in general.
  • Prepare for the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference to be held in Veracruz, Mexico in October. Items on the agenda for this important meeting include the election of ITU officials and the consideration of changes to the ITU Convention and Constitution that may impact the role of observers such as the IARU. Region 2 Secretary Ramon Santoyo V, XE1KK is working with the Mexican society, FMRE, to arrange an amateur station for this event.
  • Vice President Garpestad and I attended meetings of ITU-Working Party 5A. In particular, we took part in Working Group 1 headed, for the first time, by new Chairman Ken Pulfer VE3PU. This gave us a chance to meet in person with a number of the members of the WRC-12 team. Both Ole and I were very pleased with the efforts that are being made in Working Group 1 and Working Party 5.
  • At our recent meeting in Christchurch, the AC established a common position with respect to the WRC-12 agenda items that are of interest to the Amateur Services.
  • Amateur Radio Administrative Courses (ARACs) are in the process of being planned in both Laos and Oman for later this year.
  • Developed a plan to have the IARU better represented before some Regional Telecommunication Organizations.
  • Put in place a proposal to have more than one AC meeting a year with the additional meeting to be held on a “virtual” basis either through radio conferencing or teleconferencing.
  • Communication amongst the AC members and the team preparing for WRC-12 has been assisted by the establishment of two email reflectors. This, I think, went a long way in enhancing our discussions during the AC meeting which was held in Christchurch, New Zealand last October.

I am very pleased with the cooperative approach of the AC members and our WRC-12 team and I think it bodes well for our future activities.

When I was first elected to this position, I provided the AC members with my view of our goals for 2009-2014. It is my hope that we should strive to make the IARU the global voice of the Amateur Radio Services and the world’s leading organization of Amateur Radio Member Societies. I believe we are well along in that process.

One of our other goals is to provide more effective communication to Regions and Member Societies. Hopefully we are improving in that respect through some of the mechanisms we now have in place, such as this E-Letter. We also wanted interact with our Member Societies more frequently than we have in the past. Ole, Rod and I have been able to do that in the past few months by our attendance at various Hamfests or in meeting with Societies directly. We both plan to have similar meetings throughout 2010.

Finally, I would like thank each of you for your continued support of the IARU and its activities. Our work together will continue to enhance the position of the Amateur Radio Services.

Please feel free to contact me or any member of the officer team if you have any questions or issues that you would like to raise. I can be reached by email at ve6sh@iaru.org.

—————————————-

Haiti Earthquake
Note: The following account of the activities related to the response to the earthquake in Haiti that took place on January 12, 2010 is taken from the ARRL web site and provides information that is available as of January 14, 2010.

On Tuesday, January 12 at 4:53 PM Haiti time (2153 UTC), a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince, the island nation’s capital. Communications in and out of Haiti have been disrupted. The ARRL encourages US amateurs to be aware of the emergency operations on the following frequencies: 7.045 and 3.720 MHz (IARU Region 2 nets), 14.265, 7.265 and 3.977 MHz (SATERN nets), and 14.300 MHz (Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net); the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition (IRESC) is also active on EchoLink node 278173.

There was no firm estimate on how many people were killed by Tuesday’s quake. Haitian President Rene Preval said the toll could be in the thousands: “Let’s say that it’s too early to give a number.”

Tuesday’s quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and in Eastern Cuba, but no major damage was reported in either place. The January 13 edition of The Daily DX reported that the Rev John Henault, HH6JH, made contact late Wednesday morning with the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) on 14.300 MHz; this is the IARU Global Center of Activity frequency for emergency communications. He said that he was safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day. The edition also noted that Pierre Petry, HH2/HB9AMO — who was in Cap Haitien (about 140 km north of Port-au-Prince) is safe; Petry is in Haiti working for the United Nations World Food Program.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fred Moore, W3ZU, assisted Jean-Robert Gaillard, HH2JR, with a phone patch to his friend Ariel in Miami. “It’s bad, it literally is bad,” Gaillard told Ariel. “We don’t know how many people are dead. We do not know what to expect. It’s chaos, I’m telling you — it’s real chaos. We are really in a disaster area. It’s really a war zone. Many, many buildings in the downtown area are stripped from the ground with many people buried underneath them – you name it, it’s bad.” Gaillard, who lives in Port-au-Prince, was using his neighbor’s generator to make the contact. “It’s really chaotic. I’ve never been in a war, but this is what a war zone would be like. Dead bodies all over the place, dead bodies buried. All I can tell you is that I’m okay, my house is okay. We’ve had 30 aftershocks, the main one yesterday. We are expecting some more shocks, so I’m a bit nervous to be inside the house.”

According to IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Chairman Jim Linton, VK3PC, members of the Radio Club Dominicano (RCD) — the Dominican Republic’s IARU Member-Society — and Union Dominicana de Radio Aficionados (UDRA) are preparing to go to Port au Prince on the morning of Friday, January 15, where they will install HI8RCD/HH, an emergency radio communications station and a mobile station.

FEMA (U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator Craig Fugate advised that US assets should not self-deploy to affected areas. “Initial reports from Haiti in the wake of yesterday’s earthquake are concerning and troubling,” he said. “During times like these, the emergency response community always stands ready to assist those in need. The United States Department of State has the lead for foreign disaster assistance, and US assets should deploy only if tasked to do so by the State Department. The most urgent need that the response community can fulfill at this time is supporting ongoing disaster relief fund-raising efforts.”

On Thursday, January 14th, planes carrying teams from China and France, Spain and the United States landed at Port-au-Prince’s airport with searchers and tons of water, food, medicine and other supplies — with more promised from around the globe. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that “tens of thousands, we fear, are dead” and said United States and the world must do everything possible to help Haiti surmount its “cycle of hope and despair.” The US Army said a detachment of more than 100 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division was heading out from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, looking for locations to set up tents and other essentials in preparation for the arrival of another 800 personnel on Friday. That’s in addition to some 2200 Marines to be sent, as the military prepares to help with security, search and rescue missions and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. More than a half-dozen US military ships also are expected to help, with the largest, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, arriving later Thursday.

Calls to emergency services weren’t getting through because systems that connect different phone networks were still not working, said officials from a telecommunications provider in Haiti. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is deploying 40 satellite terminals and 60 units with broadband facility to re-establish basic communication links, along with experts to operate them. The ITU will also set up “a reliable, responsive and complete cellular system designed to enable vital wireless communications aimed at strengthening response and recovery mechanisms in a disaster zone,” said ITU Emergency Communications Division Chief Cosmas Zavazava. The ITU has allocated a budget of more than $1 million US dollars to strengthen the disaster response effort in Haiti.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, expressed his solidarity with the people of Haiti and offered his condolences to the bereaved victims of the disaster. “The whole world is in shock following the devastation and untold misery caused by the earthquake in Haiti,” Dr Touré said. “ITU will do everything possible to provide assistance to the people of Haiti by re-establishing telecommunication links which will be vital in the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the days ahead.”

“The scope of the disaster clearly shows that the response to this is going to be a long term effort,” said ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. “The ARRL has been in contact with communications leaders of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as other key Amateur Radio operators throughout the region. As teams from the hundreds of responding agencies worldwide are formed for deployment, many will have Amateur Radio components. ARRL is committed to providing communications aid to our served agencies and working with the international community in this time of crisis. At this time there are no known requests from agencies for amateurs to travel to Haiti, but this can change. If it develops that there are ARES® assignments for a deployment in Haiti, these will be vetted and processed through each Section’s Section Emergency Coordinators.”

The situation in Haiti is still chaotic. More information will be posted on the ARRL web site (www.arrl.org) as soon as possible. Information is being validated and shared between many amateur groups and news sources as it unfolds.

—————————————-

If you have any information that would be appropriate to publish in this electronic newsletter, please contact me at w6rod@iaru.org.

Rod Stafford W6ROD
IARU Secretary

—————————————-

The IARU E-Letter is published on behalf on the Administrative Council of the International Amateur Radio Union by the IARU International Secretariat. Editor: David Sumner, K1ZZ, IARU Secretary.

Material from The IARU E-Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. Credit must be given to The IARU E-Letter and The International Amateur Radio Union.

More Video: Ham Radio Connects Haitians to Loved Ones in the U.S.

While we’re at it, here’s a video report from CNN about the work one ham is doing to pass traffic to and from Haiti:

I Made the TV News This Morning

Yesterday, down at the museum, a TV crew from Fox 2 news came through and did a short interview with me about ham radio. Here’s the clip. They cut it kind of short, but, hey, publicity is publicity. :)

Want to Be a Ham and Get Paid for It?

This just posted by Jim Wharton, Vice President at Ten-Tec, Inc.:

Service Technician

Ten-Tec inc. has an opening for a Service Technician to repair HF Power Amplifiers. See the description on http://www.tentec.com/employment/.

Why you should join an amateur radio club

Tom, W3ROK, has compiled the reasons one should join an amateur radio club and posted them to the Mason County Amateur Radio Club website. Some of the reasons include:

  • It provides contact with local radio amateurs.
  • You can get help building a station.
  • Clubs often sponsor license exam classes.
  • Clubs make ham radio more visible in the community.
  • Clubs organize activities such as hamfests, scout radio merit badge sessions, and Field Day.
  • You can often borrow infrequently used test equipment instead of buying it.
  • It’s fun!

China Ham Radio 2010 Expo + Fest

I got this e-mail last Friday, but only found it this morning in the spam folder. Sounds like fun to me. I wish I could make it.

I love the slogan, “Better radio, better communication, better life…..Dan

CQ CQ BY4AA IS CALLING!

CHINA HAM Radio 2010 Expo + Fest.
Date: April 3-5,2010
Venue?INTEX Shanghai
Better radio, better communication, better life
http://www.chinahamexpo.com/indexen.asp


Dear friend who is in charge,

Welcome to CHINA HAM Radio 2010 EXPO + FEST..

In today’s economic climate, there are still plenty of ways for amateur radio brands/suppliers to grow their business. As the Asian market (especially Chinese market continues to grow at an impressive rate, with a huge potential still to be fulfilled, the demand for high quality productis and solutions is continuing to rise rapidly. It is crucial that the brands/suppliers, who want to succeed in the global market, understand and use the most up-to-date equipment, consumables and materials to unlock the door to business excellence.

We are proud to announce the launch of the China (Shanghai) International HAM Radio Expo & Festival, which is one of the most professional radio fair in amateur operating China. Come to CHINA HAM 2010 and discover innovative ways to stay ahead of your competitors, optimize your workflow and explore creative new design solutions, helping you to maximize your profitability.

We’re so glad to invite you to attend this event – By invitation of the Shanghai Radio Administration Bureau (SRAB), SRSA, Chinese Wireless Association – MTTI Of P.R.CHINA and Shanghai Tarsus Hope Exhibition Co., Ltd., we hereby warmly invite & welcome the overseas & domestic personalities of all walks of life to our exhibition. Let us meet in Shanghai, and share this grand occasion.

Exhibitor Center online: http://www.chinahamexpo.com/zsEn.asp?cid=5

Visitor Center online: http://www.chinahamexpo.com/vEn.asp?cid=12

More service and pre-show exposure for exhibitors you can learn from Oliver Wee (Tel: 0086-21-58526739 M.P.:0086 13917619596)

Any require about CHINA HAM 2010, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,

Oliver Wee
Tarsus Shanghai
Hope Exhibition
Tel: 0086-21-58526739
Fax:0086-21-58526905
www.chinahamexpo.com


Background information
1. Review of CHINA HAM 2009-obtained friendship and joy widely:
The event report show that the CHINA HAM 2009 which held in June,2009 at INTEX Shanghai has serviced for 5.100 visitor which is from 11 countries and 23 provinces in China. The hams all over the world like one family gathering. The domestic hams coming from Xinjiang, Beijing, Shenyang, Dalian, Tibet, Sichuan, Hong Kong, Guangdong(especially Shenzhen) and Shanghai local are gathering in CHINA HAM 2009. The oversea hams, e.g., from Australia, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, etc. showed their interests and passion on the exhibition. CHINA HAM is a platform offering interaction and communication opportunities to every visitors.
Quotes from last exhibitors: http://www.chinahamexpo.com/AboutEn.asp?cid=30

2. About CHINA HAM:

  • Unique international and professional event in China. Obtained friendship and joy widely in last year from 23 provinces and other 12 countries.
  • Supported by national radio administrating authority and industry.
  • 30 mins lectures, annual conference, flea market, QSL card, badge will show.
  • Be held in Shanghai which is the host city of World Expo 2010.
  • Getting newest products, most brands and best price. Achieve your mass marketing plan with the whole area of radio.
  • Developing your technology, funny and business 130,000 member of CRSA, 30% users number risen.