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Google Alerts notified me today that eHam is now rating ham radio blogs. So, if you like this blog, please head on over to eHam and select Blogs from the drop-down menu there. To add your rating, you have to click on the stars on the right.

Thanks!

Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Electronics

Here are some tips from ConsumerReports.Org about spring cleaning your electronics:

  • Be clean: Keep your computer hardware germ-free.
  • Don’t clean your HDTV with Windex.
  • 4 tips to speed up your PC.

Read the complete story.

New MOU Signed with Red Cross

This from Weaver’s Words, an e-mail newsletter from GL Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, March 30, 2010:

+++ New MOU between Red Cross and ARRL is Signed +++

ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN and Joseph C. Becker, Senior Vice President, Disaster Services for the American National Red Cross (ANRC) signed the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations on March 25 in Washington, DC. The ceremony took place at ANRC Headquarters.

Two features of the new MOU that were not included in previous memoranda are clauses regarding background checks and the status of amateurs as RC volunteers. The new MOU allows amateurs to have criminal background checks performed by certain agencies other than Mybackgroundcheck.com. It also clarifies that amateur’s who provide communication services to RC do not need to become RC “volunteers.” The latter clarification permits hams to support RC communication activities without being subjected to certain requirements of RC volunteers.

This new MOU replaces one that expired in 2007 and is the result of considerable discussion between ARRL and RC. The new MOU can be read in its entirety on the ARRL website.

Reminiscences of the Early Days of the National Contesting Journal (NCJ)

This bounced around several mailing lists before arriving in my inbox. Tod, K0TO, was the founding editor of NCJ from 1972 – 1975. Here’s what he wrote in the original e-mail to the Minnesota Wireless Association:

I was cleaning off files from my computer this morning and ran across a document I had been asked to write for an NCJ issue a few years ago.

I decided to load it on my web page for a brief period of time before it goes off to randomized electron and magnetic domain heaven. It deals with the challenge of editing and producing the NCJ during the first three years of its life [1972-75]. At that point the ARRL Board said I had to ‘retire’ from that job if I wanted to run for ARRL office.

Tod, K0TO

www.k0to.us/HAM/NCJ_K0TO.htm

This is interesting stuff. As he notes, personal computers were just starting to be used, and to be honest, they weren’t very useful at that point. And the Internet was still limited to universities.

RF Power Transistor Outputs 1.5 kW

Need to reach that far-away 440 repeater. Here’s just what you need. This is from the latest electronic design e-mail newsletter:

RF Power Transistor Packs 1.5 kW
Chiseled for UHF pulsed radar applications, the Model 0405SC-1500M RF power transistor exploits state-of-the-art SiC technology to provide 1,500W of peak power in a compact single-ended package that replaces push-pull balun circuitry found in conventional silicon BJT or LDMOS designs. The device is a common gate, class AB transistor designed for UHF frequencies from 406 MHz to 450 MHz. It is built with 100% gold metallization and gold wires in a hermetically sealed package suitable for use in weather radar and over the horizon radar applications. Other features include a medium pulse format of 300 µs at 6%, a typical power gain of 8 dB, and a drain efficiency of 45% at 450 MHz. MICROSEMI CORP., Irvine, CA. (800) 713-4113.

N9PUZ on Why CW?

On the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list, when a ham asked, “Why should I learn Morse Code if it is no longer required?” Tim, N9PUZ replied:

  • Why do you learn how to operate RTTY, PSK-31, etc.?
  • It’s one more way to have fun with Amateur Radio
  • If you’re a DX chaser it may be the only way to get that rare
    country.
  • If you’re a contester you usually get more points for a CW contact
    than you do a phone contact.
  • Many of us talk on the phone or stare at a computer all day. The music that is CW can make a nice way top relax at the end of the day.

IARU Awards for Worked All Continents

This is from the IARU E-Letter for March 2010…Dan

==> IARU OPERATING AWARD FOR WORKED ALL CONTINENTS (WAC)

The IARU issues Worked-All-Continents certificates to amateur radio stations around the world that work all six continental areas.

Qualification for the WAC award is based on an examination by the International Secretariat, or a member-society, of the IARU of QSL cards that the applicant has received from other amateur stations in each of the six continental areas of the world. All contacts must be made from the same country or separate territory within the same continental area of the world.

All QSL cards (no photocopies) must show the mode and/or band for any endorsement applied for.

Contacts made on 10/18/24 MHz or via satellites are void for the 5-band certificate and 6-band endorsement. All contacts for the QRP endorsement must be made on or after January 1, 1985 while running a maximum power of 5 watts output or 10 watts input.

For amateurs in the United States and in an area without IARU
representation, the WAC application forms are available in MS Word and Adobe PDF format. Once completed, applications should be directed to the WAC Awards Manager, ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT USA 06111. After verification, the cards will be returned and the award sent soon afterward. Also, approved DXCC card checkers can verify WAC program applications. For the latest list of DXCC card checkers visit the ARRL website. There is a $13.00 fee for US applicants. Sufficient return postage, or, a self-addressed stamped envelope, is required for the return of QSL cards. US amateurs must have current ARRL membership. At the present time credits in the ARRL LogBook of The World (LoTW) system cannot be claimed for WAC credit. Applicants who have a current DXCC award in the DXCC computer system can apply for WAC by completing the WAC application form and sending it to the address noted above, listing credits to be claimed on the application form. In this case QSL cards are not required. Send questions to wac@arrl.org.

For all other amateurs, applicants must be members of their national amateur radio societies affiliated with IARU, and apply through the society.

Simple Antenna Demos Antenna Polarization

I’m always amazed when things actually work. So you can imagine my amazement when I actually got the demo shown in the Make: Magazine video below to work.

Diana, KC2UHB, used her lightbulb/antenna combo to demonstrate the principle of directional antennas by using a Yagi as her transmitting antenna. I didn’t have a Yagi handy, so I used one of my home-made J-pole antennas.

Because the J-pole isn’t directional, I obviously couldn’t use it to demonstrate directionality, but it worked quite nicely to demonstrate the principle of polarization. All I had to do was to position the receiving antenna so that it was parallel to the J-pole and the light was nice and bright. Then, I rotated the antenna until it was perpendicular to the J-pole. The light got dimmer and dimmer until eventually you couldn’t see it emitting any light at all. Rotate it back to perpendicular and the bulb burned brightly again.

I think I’ll try to make a video of this down at the Museum this Saturday.

ARRL Seeks Input for New IARU Region 2 Band Plan

QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 10 ARLB010
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT March 16, 2010
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB010
ARLB010 ARRL Seeks Input for New IARU Region 2 Band Plan

The International Amateur Radio Region 2 (IARU R2) conference—held later this year in El Salvador — brings together delegations from the national Amateur Radio Societies in the Western Hemisphere. One of the topics on the agenda will be the Region 2 HF band plan. This band plan is “harmonized with” — spectrum management-speak for “very similar to” — the IARU Region 1 and Region 3 band plans.

According to ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, many hams in the USA probably did not know there was such as thing as a Region 2 band plan until recently. Now, however, many more American hams have heard of it, but may not know how — if at all — this band plan affects them. Here are important facts for American hams to keep in mind:

  • IARU band plans are voluntary guidelines. They do not have the
    force of FCC regulations.
  • It would be inappropriate to incorporate Region 2 band plans into the FCC rules, and the ARRL has no plan to petition the FCC to do so.
  • Most other countries do not have the detailed sub-band regulations that are in Part 97 of the FCC Rules; for amateurs in those countries, IARU band plans offer the only guidance on frequency use.
  • The recognition of a calling frequency or band segment for a particular purpose or mode in the IARU band plan does not convey any special rights or exclusivity of use.

A new, more transparent procedure will be followed this year for considering possible changes to the Region 2 band plan. The ARRL is cooperating with this procedure by inviting input to be sent to the ARRL Board of Directors’ Band Planning Committee. The committee will review the existing Region 2 band plan, consider input from the amateur community and make recommendations to the ARRL Board for submission to IARU Region 2.

The inadvertent omission of the AM center of activity frequency (calling frequency) — 3.885 MHz on 80 meters — has already been noted, and this will be one of the recommended revisions.

The deadline line set by Region 2 for gathering input and formulating recommendations is rather short.

Amateurs who would like to submit input should take the following
steps:

  • First, study the existing IARU Region 2 band plan posted on the Region 2 Web site at http://www.iaru-r2.org/band-plan. The Region 1 and Region 3 band plans are also posted there, so be sure you are looking at the band plan for Region 2.
  • Next, formulate a clear statement of any change you propose. Include a brief explanation of why you think the change would be beneficial. Please include your name and call sign in your input.
  • Finally, send your input via e-mail to bandplan2010@arrl.org no later than April 5, 2010. Messages will be automatically acknowledged.

If you live in another country in Region 2, please contact your national Amateur Radio Society for information on how to submit input for the band plan process.
NNNN
/EX

A Short, Sweet Guide to Operating Practice

Listen!On the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list, Tim, N9PUZ, passes along a link to ON4WW’s Operating Practice Web page. Tim says, “Lots of good information and advice about operating for new comers and old hands alike.”

Think of it as an All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten for ham radio. Despite it’s relatively short length, it covers such diverse topics as using repeaters and working DX pileups.

The best advice, though, is the most basic. For example, listening is the second topic that ON4WW tackles. He says, “Initially learn to LISTEN. Whoever listens at first, will be much more successful in making good and enjoyable contacts.”

This is great advice. I’ll be adding this to my list of things that I pass on to the new hams that get their licenses in my classes.