Another Method for Teaching and Learning Morse Code

On the SolidCpyCW mailing list, Martin, OK1RR, mentioned W0UCE’s method for teaching CW. This is an interesting method for learning the code. Unfortunately, it requires a teacher. That is to say, someone can’t use this method on their own, as there’s no computer program to step the student through the program. A couple of notable points:

  1. Learning takes place at 28 wpm. This is the philosophy behind the G4FON program.
  2. Sending is an integral part of learning. I advocate sending as well as receiving when learning the code.
  3. No more than 30 minutes per day is devoted to learning the code. Too often, those learning the code spend too much time on it in the beginning and then “burn out.” Once they do this, they often abandon the code.

When asked, I normally point prospective CW operators to the G4FON program or hand them a copy of the K7QO Code Course on CD-ROM or both. One of these days, though, I’ll give a face-to-face class a go and use this teaching method. Maybe the more personal approach will help them get over the hump faster.

Videos Show Two Very Different Aspects of Ham Radio

Tim, N9PUZ, recently posted URLs to two YouTube videos to the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list. They show two very different aspects of ham radio. The first shows what can happen when lightning strikes an antenna.

This second one is really incredible. If you’ve ever worked any of the DX contests, chances are you’ve worked OH8X. It’s a monster contest club. One of their towers is a 100m (330-ft.) monster that holds a three-element Yagi for 160m and a five-element Yagi for 80m. But, ham radio is not all they use the tower for. Watch below:

Ham Radio in the News – Lighthouse Edition

Montage Lighthouse, Australia

The Hellenic Amateur Radio Association of Australia spent three nights on Montague Island to celebrate International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.

The weekend of August 20-21 was International Lighthouse Weekend, and as ham radio operators are wont to do, there were a number of special event stations set up at lightouses around the world. I worked three in the U.S. from the WA2HOM and one in Germany from here at my home station.

Here are some news stories about lighthouse operations in various places:

Ham radio at lighthouse (Crescent City, CA, USA)

Light banter hits the airwaves (Williamstown, Australia)

Calling the world from Montague Island on Lighthouse Weekend (Australia)

Calling the world from the lighthouse (Gibraltar)


SimSmith Updated

Ward, AE6TY, writes:

SimSmith is Smith Chart software that was introduced and described in an article in QRP Quarterly earlier in the year.  I recently made some substantial improvements to SimSmith.  These are:

  1. Added a library function to allow you to save and restore tuned circuit elements.
  2. Added some new components including a transformer.
  3. Added a ‘print’ function
  4. Improved the ‘save’ and ‘load’ commands.

If you are interested in getting the newest update or in learning about Smith Charts in general, please visit my page

The newest version in 4.2.  It is written in Java so you need only download “SimSmith-4.2.jar”. There is no installation necessary, only a working Java Runtime Environment.  This code has been tested on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds pretty cool to me.

You Learn Something New Every Day: S-Meters

On the IC-746PRO mailing list, a fellow asked, “On the 2m band, why doesn’t the S-meter reading on my IC-746PRO match the S-meter reading on my 2m mobile radio?” My answer was that while there is a standard (it’s actually a recommendation), it’s rarely followed, so it’s not a surprise that the two readings don’t agree.

Mark, K5LXP, corrected me, noting that the recommendation specifies one value for an S9 reading below 144 MHz, and a different value above 144 MHz.  The recommendation reads:


  1. One S-unit corresponds to a signal level difference of 6 dB.
  2. On the bands below 30 MHz a meter deviation of S-9 corresponds to an available power of -73 dBm from a continuous wave signal generator connected to the receiver input terminals.
  3. On the bands above 144 MHz this available power shall be -93 dBm.
  4. The metering system shall be based on quasi-peak detection with an attack time of 10 msec ± 2 msec and a decay time constant of at least 500 msec.

This corresponds to a voltage of about 50 microvolts below 144 MHz and a voltage of 5 microvolts about 144 MHz.

It would be interesting to know how the software of the IC-746PRO handles this. I say software because the S-meter on the IC-746PRO is a digital meter whose readings are controlled by the rig’s microcontroller. Theoretically, the software could calculate the S-meter readings differently based on the band that the rig is set to, but I don’t know that the programmers would go so far as to do that.

More QSLs for My Collection

Here are a couple of recently-received QSLs for my collection of cards from stations whose calls spell words:



Tom, W1EAT writes, “…because W1DRINK is toooooo long!”

Amateur Radio Study Guides Generate Some Buzz

To try and publicize the print version of my study guides, I sent out what might be called a press release to various trade magazines and electronics-related blogs. So far, at least three Web publications have picked up the release:

RF Cafe. They featured my book on their home page for a week, and now it appears on one of their book archive pages.


Electronics Products. Their editor e-mailed me, “My boss loves your idea.”

Thanks for the plug, guys. If any of you see a mention of my study guides online or in print media, please let me know. You can e-mail me, or simply enter a comment below.

Ham Radio in the News – August 22, 2011

When Pigs Fly. A blog posting by a reporter—who also happens to be a ham radio operator—on the art of QRPing.

70 years of ribbing, hamming and wedded bliss. Bob and Dorothy Truhlar attribute their long marriage to a healthy sense of humor, as well as a clear division of duties, and a common interest in ham radio. And, they both admit, a bit of blackberry brandy every now and then doesn’t hurt.

Ham radio verification cards on exhibit at Harford Community College. This exhibit features QSL cards as examples of an “operator’s personality and home life.”

Voodoo Magician Repairs PCs Telepathically

Andre, N4ICK, posted this to the AMRAD mailing list. It’s just too juicy to pass up:

Repair PCs Telepathically


 New in Nice: repair of your PC by telepathy
Mamadou N’guéyé
Authentic Voodoo magician, this sorcerer, known the world-over, will repair your PC by means of telepathy, so that you won’t have to come to him.
His power is such that he will be able to fix defective sectors of your hard-disk.
He also remotely treats cancer, male erection problems, and he will make your (female) neighbor in love with you.
Payment in advance, € 100   Results are guaranteed.
Telephone 04 13 73 66

I wonder if he also repairs Heathkits.

Heathkit Getting Back into the Kit Biz

Larry, KD8MZM, recently pointed out on our club mailing list that Heathkit is getting back into the kit business. Their Web page says:

Heathkit News




In late August, Heathkit will debut their new line of Do-it-Yourself kits for common around-the-house items. The first kit will be a Garage Parking Assistant (GPA). The Garage Parking assistant kit lets you build your own system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to locate your car as it enters the garage. The system signals to the driver using LED lights mounted on the wall when the car is detected and in the perfect spot for parking.

The GPA-100 kit consists of two primary assemblies – The LED Display in kit form and the pre-assembled ultrasonic range module. the kit will include everything you need to complete the project except a soldering iron and hand tools.

Next on the market will be a Wireless Swimming Pool Monitor kit followed by many more. Heathkit wants to continue to bring to its customers interesting, unique Heathkit products. Heathkit is interested in learning what types of products kit builders would like to build. Kit builders can submit their suggestions through this website using the Contact Us email.