Military thinking about “wideband” sideband for datacomm?

Bob Brewin, editor at large, for  Nextgov,  a website that cover government IT, speculates about the use of wideband SSB to achieve higher data rates than is currently possible on HF. His column notes:

The Air Force High Frequency Global Communications System Program Office at Tinker Air Force Base is looking for some folks to help tweak single sideband so it can function as a relatively wide band over the air data transmission system as well as handle voice over IP. Single sideband will never have the throughput of a fiber optic connection. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of fiber drops in the sky or a forward operating base in Afghanistan, so a 120 kbps connection from a radio looks real good.

This certainly sounds like a project for some enterprising hams. And, who knows, this  new mode might even make its way into the ham radio bands someday.

Field Day in the news for 2012

Newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations all over the country covered Field Day last weekend. Many wrote stories before the event, many after. Below, are only some of the stories that appeared after the event.

Amateur radio operators practice communications as hobby and …
KY3 – SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When disaster strikes, communication often breaks down. Without cell phones and the internet, most of us would be lost. But a fraction of …

Amateur radio operators provide lifesaving communication and …
KSPR – Local operators assist in disaster situations and help to spot storms.

‘When all else fails,’ there’s amateur radio
Helena Independent Record – Amateur radio remains part of the emergency communications system, but another appeal for the users is being able to do a lot of things with different gadgets.

Amateur Radio Operators Prep for Disaster
WAAY – The technology was invented nearly a century ago, but today, these radios can be the most effective form of communication when disaster strikes.

‘Hopping and popping’ on radio in Live Oak
Appeal-Democrat – Microphones in hand, fingers at the radio dial, the amateur radio operators … About a dozen members of the Yuba-Sutter Amateur Radio Club joined radio hams …

Amateur radio operators connect Anderson to the world at training
Anderson Independent Mail – Ham radio operators from Anderson County spent Saturday telling the world about the 90-degree weather in Anderson.

Amateur radio operators have a busy weekend at SCCC
New Jersey Herald – NEWTON — When Kelly Leavitt wanted to send his stepdaughter in Florida a message Saturday afternoon, he didn’t reach for his cell phone to instantly text her …

Amateur radio operators prepare for disasters at the 5th annual Field ...
Billings Gazette – When disasters strike, ham radio and amateur radio operators are sometimes a … The club, a group of about 60 amateur radio operators, have helped out local …

Radio club practices craft for Field Day
Lawrence Journal World – The Douglas County Amateur Radio Club on Saturday had its annual Field Day, when amateur radio members practice their skills by making contacts all over …

Ham radio preps for disaster
Times Record News – Members of the Wichita Amateur Radio Society operate radios to contact other sites across the United States …

Amateur radio operators participate in field day
Janesville Gazette – Carl Cramer and about 15 members of his ham radio club, the Greater Beloit Amateur Radio Club, have been camped out this weekend at Thresherman’s Park …

Ham radio operators stay in practice – A handful of ham radio operators, with the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club, tapped on keyboards or messaged Morse code across the wires during Field Day, …

Amateur Radio Field Day Held in Bend
KTVZ – BEND, Ore. — Amateur radio is a hobby for most people interested in communication, and this weekend, several people in Bend participated in a national …

Amateur radio operators demonstrate hobby
Marshfield News-Herald – Members of the Marshfield Area Amateur Radio Society gathered at the Miller Recreation Area shelter Saturday and Sunday to hone their skills and show off …

Amateur radio still proving useful in an emergency
YNN – It can’t exactly be described as a lost medium, but as new communication technologies have evolved, amateur radio has been pushed to the back burner. But as …

Amateur Radio Operators Often Help In A Crisis
WDEF News 12 – It may seem just like another hobby to most, but Amateur Radio operators, known as Hams are often called upon in a crisis. And the Bradley County club has …

Huntsville area ham radio operators have a ‘fun’ time during a mock … (blog) – Enlarge Dave Dieter Field Day is the climax of the week-long “Amateur Radio Week for the national association for Amateur Radio. Using only emergency power …

Amateur radio enthusiasts ready for emergencies
Dothan Eagle – To the average person, ham radios may seem like relics – ties to the first half of the 20th century useful only for nostalgic reasons.

Debby heightens significance of amateur radio
WJTV – GAUTIER, Miss. (AP) A weekend of “field day” activities for the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association and the Jackson County Amateur Radio …

Local amateur radio enthusiasts practice their emergency response
Norman Transcript – Throughout the U.S. and Canada, ham radio enthusiasts spent 24 hours over the weekend practicing for emergency situations like Norman’s April 13 torna.

Amateur Radio Operators Participate in Nationwide ‘Field Day’ – Saturday event at Horton’s Point Lighthouse was a blend of ham radio fun and emergency preparedness.

Small Town Amateur Radio Society participates in Vilonia field day
Log Cabin Democrat – A mobile weather spotter, James Cope of Vilonia, was in his vehicle seven miles south of the city on April 25, 2011, when he “had eyes on the tornado” that …

Debby Heightens Significance of Amateur Radio – A weekend of “field day” activities for the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association and the Jackson County Amateur Radio Association gained significan.

Hams succeed during national field day
Jackson Progress-Argus – The Butts County Emergency Communications Auxiliary participated in the national Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day event during a 24-hour …

Field Day offers radio club a chance to shine
Weatherford Democrat – Members of the Amateur Radio Club of Parker County took part in a worldwide Field Day Saturday to raise awareness for what the club does. Will Teague, left …

Field Day shows off ham skills
Ramona Sentinel – Amateur radio operators—usually referred to as “hams”—have long communicated with each other without the benefit of the Internet, cellphone towers or other …

Amateur radio operators prepare for ‘worst’
Sand Springs Leader – Tulsa area amateur radio operators gathered Saturday at Chandler Park to practice for a “worst case scenario.”

Yuma’s Amateur Radio Ops Demonstrate Emergency Capabilities
KSWT-TV – Yuma’s Amateur Radio Operators joined thousands across the country in demonstrating their emergency capabilities Saturday.

Lake of the Woods Amateur Radio Society makes connections …
Daily Miner and News – Members of the Lake of the Woods Amateur Radio Society were among thousands of ham radio operators across North America reaching into the airwaves…

Police Explorers Begin Amateur Radio Classes
The Missourian – When four young members of the Pacific Police Explorers Club signed up to take classes for the amateur radio federal license exam, Keith Wilson, Franklin …

Amateur radio operators prepare in case of an emergency
Kalispell Montana News – GREAT FALLS- When disaster strikes and all communication lines are down, its licensed amateur radio operators that step in to help, and many of them …

Amateur Radio Event Showcases Emergency Preparedness Skills
Emergency Management – More than 35000 amateur radio operators participated in Field Day and demonstrated the practical uses of ham radio during an emergency.

Local club practices emergency readiness
Jacksonville Daily Progress – Amateur radio enthusiasts gathered together on Saturday to test their emergency readiness. The Cherokee County Amateur Radio Club participated in the.

Emergency radio operators hone skills
Navarre Press – The Navarre Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Amateur Radio Club held a field day from 1 p.m. on June 23 until 1 p.m. on June 24 to test …

Is this thing on?
Maple Ridge News – The Mission Amateur Radio Emergency Services group braved the inclement … This year they joined in with the Maple Ridge Amateur Radio club station who …

Amateur radio connects Coweta County, world
Newnan Times-Herald – Online edition of The Times-Herald, Newnan and Coweta County’s Online Source. Find the latest local, state, national and international news. View and place classified ads online.

Amateur radio club tests emergency communication
Star Community Newspapers – A friend in radio broadcasting attracted Hansen to amateur radio frequencies while he was living in southern California. Just a few months after obtaining his amateur radio license and his own call sign, Hansen’s house was a victim of the Northridge …

When all else fails…Local Ham Radio operators give demonstration for Gordon …
Calhountimes – The Cherokee Capital Amateur Radio Society held its annual field day event in Gordon County on Saturday, June 23, 2012, where the club set up a three alpha station, using no commercial power, to demonstrate how communication could be established, via …

Hamming it up
Coeur d’Alene Press – This past weekend the world got a little smaller. Every fourth weekend in June since 1933 Amateur Radio operators (Hams) have participated in Field Day.

Hams’ Offer Information Lifeline When All Else Fails
The Epoch Times – Hams are the operators of amateur radio, the old-time tech that once connect people across oceans. Nowadays, hams are practically a stereotype—laid back, white-haired retirees who fiddle with dials and antennas, talking to fellow operators across the …

Ham Radio
Santa Ynez Valley News – Field Day is the annual test of radio operators’ ability to set up emergency communications under field conditions and operate solely on emergency power systems for 24 hours, said Ray Lischka, the emergency coordinator for Lompoc Valley Amateur Radio …

Ham radio operators hold annual Field Day exercise
Clay Today Online – But amateur radio operators in the area were on the air within hours after the hurricane hit.” As emergency coordinator for Clay County, Gray said, “We work through the Clay County Emergency Operations Center in Green Cove Springs as an alternative in …

Having a field day: Amateur radio operators contact Croatia
The Union of Grass Valley – The Nevada County Amateur Radio Club held a field-day event on June 23 and 24 at Empire Mine. More than 375 contacts with amateur radio stations all (read more)

Ham radio demo held
Shore News Today – The Shore Points Amateur Radio Club hosted Amateur Radio Field Day last weekend at the North End Observation Deck Ham radio operators from Atlantic County participated in the emergency preparedness.

Local radio operators gather
The Hillsdale Daily News – The Hillsdale County Amateur Radio Club Field Day was held recently. Here, Club member, Milt Bowers, communicated with various parts of the country and said between 600 and 700 contacts would be made by the end of the 24-hour period depending on …

Field Day Report

Field Day 2012I was holding off on reporting on my Field Day activities this year because I thought I would do a comprehensive report on the entire Field Day. Well, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, so here’s a report on the operating activities.

Unlike last year, I  operated with ARROW, our club here in Ann Arbor, MI. I was the main operator of the 40m CW station. We had 866 total QSOs. I made 540, KD8LWR had 197, N8OY made 109, and N8SBE pounded out 19. Here are the top runs as reported by N1MM:

  • 2012-06-23 1806 – 1849Z,    7022 kHz, 51 Qs, 70.5/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-23 1903 – 2245Z,    7021 kHz, 214 Qs, 58.1/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-23 2245 – 2311Z,    7021 kHz, 25 Qs, 59.4/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-23 2313 – 0040Z,    7017 kHz, 87 Qs, 60.1/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-24 0051 – 0124Z,    7013 kHz, 37 Qs, 66.5/hr KD8LWR
  • 2012-06-24 0633 – 0655Z,    7023 kHz, 17 Qs, 46.6/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0705 – 0909Z,    7035 kHz, 102 Qs, 49.4/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0923 – 0938Z,    7023 kHz, 12 Qs, 49.2/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 0946 – 1033Z,    7036 kHz, 35 Qs, 44.8/hr KB6NU
  • 2012-06-24 1103 – 1211Z,    7030 kHz, 53 Qs, 47.0/hr N8OY

These are the top runs that included more than 10 QSOs.  I don’t know if you can ask it to give you 10-min. or 1-hr. rates, but that would have been interesting to see.

Unfortunately, this station did not operate for about three hours from 11:30pm – 2:30am, when I got back to the FD site. Next year, we’re going to have to find more CW ops and schedule better. It might have been possible to hit 1,000 Qs if it had been operated all 24 hours.

Budget your hobbies

A while back, I wrote about carving out time for amateur radio. Well, I just ran into another article along those lines titled,”A Geek’s Guide to Budgeting Hobbies.” The difference is that this article talks about budgeting funds as well as budgeting time. The following are the bits of advice that I found the most interesting or useful:

  • Budget at least 15 minutes per day for each hobby.
  • Take a day or two of your vacation time every year to work on a hobby.
  • Learn a new skill every year. For example, I have decided that, in 2012, I’m going to learn how to do antenna modeling.
  • Don’t overspend right off the bat. The example they use is photography, noting that buying a $5,000 DSLR camera isn’t going to make a newbie a great photographer. Same goes for amateur radio. Buying a $5,000 K3 right after you get your Tech ticket isn’t going to automatically make you a great ham.

Getting a feel for antennas

When readers e-mail me, I often turn around and ask them what topics they would like me to write about here on KB6NU.Com. Well, yesterday, I got this reply:

I think it would definitely be useful to cover antennas and RF transmission theory.  I have a small bit of experience in electronics…completed an AAS EET degree years ago (actually 2 decades – YIKES), but looking at my old textbooks I see that we really did very little with radio. Once basic AC/DC theory was done, it was all about computers.

I think antennas are such foreign things to us nowadays, that I’m probably not in the minority when I say that’s the thing I struggled with the most. Dipoles are pretty easy, but once you get beyond that, it gets a lot more complicated. For example, E9C02: What is the radiation pattern of two 1/4-wavelength vertical antennas spaced 1/4-wavelength apart and fed 90 degrees out of phase? I know that it’s a cardioid, but I’m not entirely sure I understand why. I can visualize the patterns, but I don’t feel like I GET it.

I replied:

Antenna theory is my weakest area, too. Some people just seem to get it, but I struggle like you do. I think one way to overcome this is to play around with antenna modeling software. I think that by modeling some simple antennas, you’ll see that patterns that result, and after a while, get a more intuitive feel for them.

One program that many use is called MMANA-GAL. It’s free, and apparently, a very good program. If you do download it and play around with it, I’d like to get your impressions of it. Heck, I’d even post that to my blog. I think a review like that from a new user would be very valuable to  other new users.

So, now, I have a couple of questions for the rest of you:

  • Do you use antenna modeling software?
  • If so, which program?
  • Do you find it easy to use or hard to use?
  • Do you find it useful to you in learning how antennas work?

Nine new hams

Yesterday, I held yet another one-day Tech class. A dozen students showed up. I had only one no-show. He e-mailed me later that he had overslept.

I lost one student at the lunch break. I had noticed that he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open right from the start, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when he decided to pack it in.

The rest of them stuck it out until 3 pm and took the test. Of those, nine passed the test. Nine out of eleven isn’t bad, but I’m going to claim a 100% pass rate. The two that failed the test were teenagers who took the class to please their parents, and to be honest, I don’t think that they were all that interested in getting their tickets.

One of the students was a member of the local search and rescue team. She was geting her ticket so that she could use ham radio during the team’s exercises. Most folks who do this aren’t really interested in the technical/experimental aspects of the hobby, but this woman seemed to be. I’m going to encourage her to get into this part of the hobby, perhaps by building a simple kit. The search and rescue team does, after all, need a techie, don’t they?

ICE found at used bookstore


Today, I went to lunch with some high school friends in Detroit. On the way back, we stopped at John K. King Used and Rare Books. This place is a real Detroit institution. Housed in a former glove factory, the store claims to have more than a million used books stashed in closely-spaced bookshelves on four floors.

Just as we were about to leave, I spotted a box near the door labelled, “Ham Radio Cards & Ephemera.” In the box was about 100 QSL cards from the estate of Carlton R. Lindell, W8MNQ, 1250 Eastlawn Ave., Detroit, Mich. Some were blank cards of his, others were cards he received in the late 1930s and 1940.

I found two with callsigns that spell words—VE3ALE and the one above, W5ICE. There are a couple of remarkable things about this card. First, it only cost a penny to send a postcard back in those days. Second, the description for W5ICE’s transmitter and receiver are not model numbers, but actual descriptions of his “rig.” The transmitter used H125 tubes in the final amplifier, while the receiver was an “8 tube super(het).”

Also notice that there’s no line for the mode being used. It was probably assumed that the mode was CW.

Operating Notes: 6/13/12

Operating notes from the past week:

  • I was net control for this week’s ARROW 2m net. This net takes place every Monday night at 8 pm  on the 146.96 repeater. This Monday, we had ten stations check in. One station had two young visitors, who were able to say a few words on the radio. QNI: 13, including yours truly.
  • On Sunday afternoon, I left my HF rig tuned to 28.010 MHz while I played around on the computer upstairs. I turned up the volume so that I could hear it if anyone came on. Twice, I heard DX stations calling CQ. I worked CT1HMN one of those times.
  • DX was pretty good over the weekend. I worked a ZP6 (Paraguay) on 30m and an HK0 (Colombia) on 40m.
  • Sunday night, there was a “numbers station” on 10115.5 kHz. This one was sending random code groups, each consisting of five characters. I hear these stations about every six months.
  • At WA2HOM, our station down at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, I worked EO2012KW, a special event commemorating the European 2012 Football Championship taking place at venues in Poland and the Ukraine.
  • If the Detroit Tigers win the American League pennant, I’ll organize a special event station commemorating their participation in the World Series. I won’t be able to get a cool call with a “2012″ in it, but I could probably get the callsign W8S.

EFC 2012


  • Last night, I worked Jim, W4BKV. When he heard that I lived in Ann Arbor, MI, he volunteered that he used to come up here a lot in the 1970s and 1980s doing consulting work for a company called Sycor. Well, as it happens, I came to Ann Arbor to work for Northern Telecom, the company that purchased Sycor. We had a great chat, nearly an hour long, talking about Sycor and how technology has progressed since then.
  • Ann Arbor is a great town from a QSO prospective. Despite it being a relatively small town, the University of Michigan is here, and lots of hams have either visited here or gone to school here or have heard of the place. So, there’s plenty to talk about.

Extra Class Question of the Day: Amateur satellites

Working the satellites is a very popular amateur radio activity. There’s even an organization dedicated to launching and operating amateur radio satellites – AMSAT (

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know when trying to communicate via satellite is where the satellites are. One way to predict the location of a satellite at a given time is by calculations using the Keplerian elements for the specified satellite. (E2A12)

Amateur radio satellites are not in a geostationary orbit. That is to say they are constantly changing position in relationship to a point on the Earth. The type of satellite appears to stay in one position in the sky is geostationary.

When determining where a satellite is, you might want to know its orbital period. The orbital period of an Earth satellite is the time it takes for a satellite to complete one revolution around the Earth.(E2A03)

It’s also important to know the direction in which it is travelling. The direction of an ascending pass for an amateur satellite is from south to north. (E2A01) The direction of a descending pass for an amateur satellite is from north to south. (E2A02)

Next, you need to know what mode the satellite is in. The term mode as applied to an amateur radio satellite means the satellite’s uplink and downlink frequency bands. (E2A04)

We use a combination of letters to denote the mode. The letters in a satellite’s mode designator specify the uplink and downlink frequency ranges. (E2A05) If it were operating in mode U/V, a satellite’s receive signals would be in the 435-438 MHz band. (E2A06) U stands for UHF, V of VHF. With regard to satellite communications, the terms L band and S band specify the 23 centimeter and 13 centimeter bands. (E2A09)

Satellites repeat signals using transponders. Transponders are similar to repeaters, except that they receive signals across a band of frequencies and repeat them across another band of frequencies. The most common type of transponder is the linear transponder. All of these choices are correct when talking about the types of signals can be relayed through a linear transponder (E2A07):

  • FM and CW
  • SSB and SSTV
  • PSK and Packet

One thing to keep in mind is to keep your transmitter power to the minimum needed to hit the satellite. Effective radiated power to a satellite which uses a linear transponder should be limited to avoid reducing the downlink power to all other users. (E2A08)

There are quite a few interesting phenomena that result from the fact that satellites rotate while they are orbiting. One reason the received signal from an amateur satellite may exhibit a rapidly repeating fading effect is because the satellite is spinning. (E2A10) To mitigate the effects of this of fading, you might use a circularly polarized antenna. A circularly polarized antenna is the type of antenna that can be used to minimize the effects of spin modulation and Faraday rotation. (E2A11)

Papers Requested for ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference

Amateurs are invited to submit technical papers for presentation at the 31st Annual ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference to be held September 21-23, 2012 at the Sheraton Gateway Airport Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

These papers will also be published in the Conference Proceedings (you do not need to attend the conference to have your paper included in the Proceedings).

The submission deadline is July 31. Please send papers to: Maty Weinberg, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Or you can make your submission via e-mail to:

For more information about the conference, see the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio, or call 972- 671-8277.