From Electric Light&Power

One of the things I do for a living is edit the GlobalSpec Wire&Cable Technology newsletter. As such, I read a lot of online publications, including Electric Light&Power. They often have articles on advances in power cables.

Recently, they’ve also run some articles that I think would be interesting to radio amateurs:

  • Silver conductive epoxy. This is a new product announcement for Master Bond EP12TDCS-LO, an electrically-conductive, silver-filled epoxy. There’s no price information, and it’s probably pretty expensive, but it might be useful for some ham radio applications.
  • The 7 Myths of CFL technology. This article address seven of the most commonly misconceptions about compact fluorescent lights, such as dimmable CFLs being hard to find and CFLs causing annoying flicker.
  • Scientists: U.S. nuclear power industry still not viable. This news item reports on a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists that contends that nuclear power is still not viable without billions in government subsidies. It reports,

    Pending and proposed subsidies for new nuclear reactors would shift even more costs and risks from the industry to taxpayers and ratepayers. The Obama administration’s new budget proposal would provide an additional $36 billion in federal loan guarantees to underwrite new reactor construction, bringing the total amount of nuclear loan guarantees to a staggering $58.5 billion, leaving taxpayers on the hook if the industry defaults on these loans.


I Need Some Help…

…with fundraising ideas.

A couple of weeks ago, a guy offered to donate a bunch of stuff to donate “many thousands of dollars worth of 99% new electronic parts” to WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. This almost sounded too good to be true, and as it turned out, it was too good to be true. He did graciously donate quite a few parts, but the current value is nowhere near the thousand dollar mark.

That got Jim, K8ELR, and I thinking about what we might do to raise more funds for our station. One thing I’m going to do is to not just suggest a donation when I teach a class there, but require a $10 donation. Some other things we’ve come up with include:

  • solicit donations directly, on a continuing basis, like that club station in New York or New Jersey does,
  • have more fund-raising kinds of things down at the museum, like kit-building or soldering lessons
  • do a simple “trunk sale” hamfest, charging perhaps $5/car for every seller. I’ve been to one of these, and it seemed to work out pretty well.

At that point, we kind of exhausted our thought process, so I thought I’d throw it out to my blog readers. What other ways have you or your clubs raised funds?

Are Cell Phones Bad for the Brain?

On the IEEE tech talk blog, editor Tekla Perry reports on a new study that shows that holding a cell phone to the ear increases the metabolic activity of nearby brain tissue. She writes:

What this means for long term health is unclear, but it certainly supports the calls of those who want more research, and those who are practicing prudent avoidance by trying to select cell phones with the lowest radiation and limiting their talk time.

I’m not sure how relevant this study is to HT use, but my guess is that the transmit duty cycle is a lot lower for an HT user than a cell phone user. Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

Links for the New General Class Study Guide

For the next version of No-Nonsense, General Class License Study Guide I am going to include links to Web pages that readers can refer to if they really want more information on a topic. I’ve just added some links to the following sections:

If you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear about them. Please send me the URLs and why you happen to like that particular website. Thanks!

What’s in a Name?

This article first appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of QSO: The Voice of RAWNY. Thanks, Lee, for allowing me to reprint it here……..Dan

Ever wonder what it means to be an Elmer? The name implies that it should be someone special. That person would possess qualities you would find in any admirable person or teacher, but what qualities make an “Elmer” so unique? The answer is in the name itself.

The name “Elmer” is unique to Amateur Radio and hams. The person designated as an Elmer is capable of guiding and nurturing his charge on their way to becoming a good ham radio operator. That person would not only teach the student the technical aspect of the hobby, but also good amateur practice and along the way, build one of the most unique relationships you will ever encounter. Both student and teacher are also learning the art of being a good friend. You are learning how to trust and share experiences. You will come to depend on each other and share ideas.

In other words, you have each others back. It is a give and take relationship, because the student also gives his teacher the satisfaction of knowing he has helped him develop his skill in a hobby that will always enhance his life and help mold the qualities of friendship and sharing that will stay with him/her forever. Here is the short version of what my idea of what’s in the name, “Elmer.”

“E” is for Enthusiasm. You should have a sincere interest and excitement about the hobby. You should be able to tell them what a wonderful, life-long hobby they are learning and encourage the student to try new things. Your enthusiasm should be contagious.

“L” is for learning. It is a learning experience for both parties, especially, if it’s the Elmer’s first time. Always keep an open mind. A student may want to try the newer modes, while the seasoned Elmer can teach the student the basic, tried and true methods. There are so many different aspects of the hobby. Each can learn from the other.

“M” is for mentoring. That is the main ingredient in the Elmering process. An Elmer is there to guide the student. It may sometimes be difficult to remember that you are not creating a clone. Your charge(s) will develop their own style. We are individuals, so avoid criticizing the student if he or she does not do things exactly the way you want. In some instances, of course, safety demands that things be done a certain way. It is at this time that the skillful tact of the Elmer will come in handy.

“E” is for Energy, for some of us, is in short supply. You may want to eat your “Go Cereal” before you start a meeting or session with your student. Remember, I mentioned that Elmering is “give and take.” Your student’s enthusiasm may be all the energy boost you need to get you, the Elmer, motivated.

“R” is for Responsibility. The Elmer/Elmeree relationship is a commitment. Be responsible in your respective roles by always keeping and being on time for meetings and just being there for each other. Always try to make time in your busy schedule to answer question or even to just talk over a cup of coffee. The idea is to be a concerned friend, confident and companion and if you follow all the suggestions in this article, the “Elmer” thing will naturally follow.

73, Lee Brandt KC2RBL

Researchers Develop True Duplex Communications on a Single Channel

Stanford researchers claim to have invented a new technology that allows wireless signals to be sent and received simultaneously on a single channel. According to an article in the Stanford University News, their research could help build faster, more efficient communication networks, at least doubling the speed of existing networks.

You can also read a more technical explanation in a paper the researchers wrote for some conference.

Threat to 440?

One bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives seems to be targeting the 440 MHz band for reallocation to commercial use. HR 607 lists the paired bands of 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz among the bands to be reallocated for commercial auction within 10 years of its passage in exchange for commercial users giving up other chunks of spectrum to Public Safety users.

Read more on the ARRL website.

An Open Letter to W5YI

I just received this from Norm, K6YXH……..Dan


I was disappointed in the W5YI-VEC when I saw the renewal service notification you sent to my granddaughter, KG6GMQ. The notice made it appear as if she had to use the W5YI-VEC service to renew, and even went so far as to imply that the FCC now required her SSN to effect renewal. I believe this is true only if you don’t renew on-line, if you don’t have an FRN (because anyone who has an FRN has already supplied their SSN), and only if you’ve forgotten your password.

This sentence should be amended to read (appended part in italics):

The last paragraph, the one that says, “The FCC does not charge to renew your amateur license… but does allow applications to filed on-line via the Internet.” should be inserted higher in the message, like perhaps after the first paragraph. Your website has this information prominently displayed at the top of the page, but neglects to note that the FCC’s on-line service is free.

Your renewal service asks the licensee for their credit card number and SSN – I would be concerned about giving anyone this much personal data.

I’m generally a fan of the W5YI Group, am an accredited W5YI-VEC VE, and appreciate all you’ve done for amateur radio – please update your notification letter.

Norm Goodkin K6YXH

There really is no reason to pay anyone to renew your license.  If you need help doing this online, call me or e-mail me, and I will walk you through the process.

Links to Amusing Websites

Here are a few more interesting websites that I’ve run across lately…..Dan

SparkBangBuzz. Subtitled “Cool Homemade Stuff, etc.,” this website details several projects that might be of interest to radio amateurs, including:

  • Easy Ten 80m transmitter using a single 2N3904 and a
  • magnetic audio amplifier, using toroids not tubes or transistors.

Antenna Compendium. This is Shortwave America’s HF antenna page. Here, you’ll find dozens of links to HF, VHF, UHF, and even EHF antennas.

GetRadioJobs.Com. Looking for a job in radio? Try this site. A search for “engineer” turned up 15 listings that were posted in the last month, including Radio Frequency Engineer, Product Support Engineer, and Navigation Radio Engineer.

From the Blogs: The Lost Art of Cable Lacing and What to To Do With an Altoids Tin

Here are a couple of items, one from the Make: blog and the other from a blog I hadn’t heard of before, The Art of Manliness…….Dan

Lost Knowledge: Cable Lacing
According to this blog post, “cable lacing is a technique that uses a series of knots and stitches in a continuous piece of wax impregnated cotton or twine to bundle cables together. It takes some practice, but it’ll outperform zipties in that it won’t crush the insulative jackets on wiring and that it’s not going to shift axially on you if it’s loose.”

I often use cable ties to create bundles, and unless you can get the really tight, the wires can slip. This promises to be a much better solution to making cable harnesses for home-brew projects. Now, where can I find the “wax-impregnated cotton or twine”?

22 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin
We  all know that Altoids tins make nifty cases for small electronics projects, but this article suggests a number of other ways to reuse these handy tins. These include:

  • first aid kit,
  • pocket games chest,
  • survival kit,
  • emergency candle, and more.

Some of these other uses might even come in handy during Field Day