CUBs and DENS

Don’t cubs live in dens? That makes these last two QSL cards for my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words perfect complements for one another.

W8CUB QSL

W2DEN QSL

From my Twitter feed – 11/27/12

Here are three items that showed up in my Twitter feed yesterday:

  1. Morse Code Plays a Role in New Spielberg Movie. Producer Steven Spielberg has used Amateur Radio or Morse code in three of his last four movies: Super 8 (2011), The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011) and Lincoln(2012). Members of the Morse Telegraph Club (MTC) — an association of retired railroad and commercial telegraphers, historians, radio amateurs and others with an interest in the history and traditions of telegraphy and the telegraph industry — played an integral part in the production of Lincoln.
  2. nanoKeyer

    The nanoKeyer is powered by open-source software running on an Arduino Nano.

    nanoKeyer powered by Arduino Nano. The nanoKeyer is an Arduino Nano based CW Contest Keyer Addon. It was designed specifically for use with the K3NG Arduino keyer open-source firmware adding many features and flexibility. The nanoKeyer is suitable as a standalone keyer or for keying the radio via the USB port by using the K1EL Winkeyer protocol from a connected computer and your favoured contest logging software. By means of the K3NG firmware it can be also used as a computerless keyboard keyer by attaching a PS2 keyboard to it.

    Someone tweeted me about this after I Tweeted about building a second WKUSB keyer. I think that if I had known about this before my purchase, I would have gone for this instead of the WKUSB. It not only purports to what the WKUSB does, the software is open-source meaning that you could actually fool around with it if you liked. You can find more information at the Radio Artisan website.

  3. Digispark. Talking about tiny Arduinos, check out this Kickstarter project. It’s amazingly cool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though you can get in on this first production run.

Circuit prototyping tip

I found this in my inbox this morning. It’s from the Make: newsletter.

Prototyping on florist foamFoam is Your Friend

When prototyping perfboard layouts, long component leads can be a pain, sticking out on the underside of the board. I don’t want to cut them off yet, because I might need long leads. Solution? Green florist foam. The leads stick into the foam, which holds them securely enough that you can turn the board over and nothing will fall out. But they’re also easy to pull out and rearrange as needed. [Sean Ragan]

Learn about ISM radio

Found this in my inbox this morning. We share some frequencies with the ISM service, including about 1.5 MHz in the 440 MHz band. That being the case, it might be  good idea to learn something about ISM.

Design News continues with the Digi-Key Continuing Education Center Track, “ISM Band Radio.”

Register for this track!

Each day the first 25 people who attend will receive a $5 Starbucks Gift Card.*

ISM Band Radio
December 3 – 7, 2012
11 am PST / 2 pm EST

ISM Band Radio features guest lecturer Paul Nickelsberg, President and Chief Technical Officer of Orchid Technologies Engineering & Consulting Inc. Mr. Nickelsberg has over 30 years’ experience as a technical innovator and problem solver.

  • Dec. 3: Radio Communications Range & Regulatory Matters
  • Dec. 4: 802.15.4 Radio Link Modulation
  • Dec. 5: 802.15.4 Radio Protocols & Topology
  • Dec. 6: 802.15.4 Radio Power Requirements
  • Dec. 7: 802.15.4 Transceivers in Commercial Components – Fall 2012

Register Now for all five courses and share this opportunity with your network. Check out the schedule for other tracks of interest.

On the Internet – 11/26/12

WITCHWITCH gets a reboot. The world’s oldest digital computer was brought back to life by engineers at The National Museum of Computing in Buckinghamshire, England. The computer was first turned on in 1951 and uses 480 relays and 828 vacuum tubes called Dekatrons, which store ten discreet values. EETimes also ran a story on this computer.

First Visible LED Demoed 50 Years Ago. Since we’re doing history today, here’s a link to a Wired article marking the first demonstration of an LED that emitted visible light. The article notes, “In the February 1963 issue of Reader’s Digest, Holonyak predicted that the LED would eventually replace incandescent bulbs. Bold words from a man who worked for GE, a company founded by Thomas Edison.” We’re finally getting around to this 50 years later.

How to Listen to Real Spy Broadcasts Now. Lifehacker shows you how to dial in to numbers stations and the like. The article says, “The behavior of shortwave radio in the atmosphere makes it ideal for long range radio transmission. You can send messages on a given frequency all over the world, and most people who use shortwave radio use it to communicate with ships at sea and people in locations all over the world.”

DMM tips, anyone?

Now that I’ve published the No-Nonsense Extra Class License Study Guide, I’ve been thinking about what my next book should be. At this point I’m leaning towards The No-Nonsense Guide to Digital Multimeters. I have even started outlining the book:

  • What is a digital multimeter?
    • Compare to analog multimeter
  • Digital multimeter basics
    • Measurement types
    • Inputs
    • Range
    • Zero
    • Safety
  • Making measurements with a DMM
    • Simple DC circuit
      • voltage
      • current
    • AC measurements
      • true RMS
    • Resistance
  • Tips for Choosing a DMM
  • Hints and Kinks

I’d love to get your feedback on this.

What else should I add to this outline?

What would you like to know about DMMs?

Do you have any tips for using DMMs that you’d like to share with others? (If I use your tip in the book, I’ll send you a free copy when it’s finished.)

Should I go retro with my next QSL?

I’m getting kinda tired of my current QSL card. It’s an aerial photo of Michigan Stadium. They call it “The Big House” because it’s the largest American football stadium in U.S.

KB6NU Big House QSL

While scouting out items for my “Amateur Radio in the News” items, I ran across a human-interest story about ham radio operators in Los Gatos, CA in 1920. It included a photo of the QSL card for one of them, 6CDW:

6CDW QSL

I kind of like this card, and am thinking about having some printed up for me in this style. What do you think? Should I go retro?

 

REVIEW: Wouxoun KG-UVD1P 2m/440 HT

Wouxoun KG-UVD1P

Is this radio worth $93? Read the review.

Normally, I hate spam, and when I find it in my inbox, I mark it as such, and attempt to unsubscribe, if there’s a link to do so. Even so, sometimes, when the spam is amateur radio related, I’ll take a peek. So, even though I hate to admit it, I did succumb to some spam last week.

The spam was an e-mail from Amateur Radio Supplies offering me 7.3% off my next purchase. I had never heard of Amateur Radio Supplies before, so I decided to click over to their website and see what they had for sale.

Most of the stuff they sell is pretty unremarkable. There’s a lot of MFJ stuff and some Alinco radios. What caught my eye, though, is that they were selling the Wouxoun KG-UVD1P HT for $100. With the 7.3% discount, that price would be $92.70. I Googled around a bit, and the lowest price that I could find elsewhere was $112, so I decided to buy one for myself and play around with it for a bit.

The radio arrived within a week, and I eagerly unpacked the radio. I hadn’t bought a new, in-the-box radio in years. It was all very nicely packaged, and came with a wrist strap, desk charger, and rubber ducky antenna.

I clipped the battery pack onto the radio and turned it on right away, even though the battery really needed charging. The first thing I noticed was how bright and easy-to-read the display was. I also got a chuckle from the voice that came out of the radio announcing that it was in frequency mode. The voice is female, and while the announcement was in English, it had a very distinctive Chinese accent.

At that point, I turned off the radio and set up the charger. I came back that evening, to find the battery fully charged. I’m not sure how long it took, but it definitely charges pretty quickly.

The next step was to set up some frequencies. I had heard this was very difficult to do, but I didn’t find it to be so tough, especially once you get the hang of how to work the menus. Without too much futzing, I was able to program the two repeaters that I use most. I was aided in this by the relatively decent user manual and the quick reference card. The second time I picked up the radio, I was able to figure out how to delete the two pre-programmed channels and how to get it to scan the programmed memories.

In addition to ordering the radio, I also purchased the programming cable, but it’s on back order. After programming several of the local repeaters into the HT, and seeing how easy it is to do, I’m considering canceling that order. I’m not a big VHF/UHF user, and I don’t continually update the programming of my radios, so I’m not really sure that I need that programming cable.

So, how does it work? Well, to be honest, I’ve only been able to make one contact with it so far, and that was a really short one because the other guy was driving away from the repeater and quickly was out of range. I don’t fault the radio for this, though. Like many places, the repeaters are around here are dead. I had the radio turned on all day Wednesday and only heard a couple of “kerchunks.” I don’t recall hearing an entire conversation.

I don’t really have the equipment to properly test the performance of the radio, but I will say that the receiver doesn’t seem to be as sensitive as the other HTs that I own. That’s not a big problem, though, as they’re still solid copy.

All things considered, it seems to be a decent purchase. It would be nice if there were more people to talk to, though.

HamQTH.Com an alternative to QRZ.Com

I got this message yesterday from Petr, OK2CQR, proprietor of HamQTH.Com:

I’m very happy that I can inform you about recent news at HamQTH.com.

What’s new?

Small statistic:

  • 1,343,209 callsigns in database
  • 11,883 registered users
  • 7,018,773 queries to XML search
  • 6,521,517 QSO in the log from 953 different callsigns

Did you know that DX cluster at HamQTH can colour the spots according to QSO you have in the log?

We have almost 50 times more users using XML search than web visitors every day. It’s fine, but please encourage others to register at HamQTH and update their profiles. Without that, XML search won’t be accurate. Thank you!

HamQTH is a real alternative to QRZ.Com. Check it out.

LOTW Update – 11/18/12

I’ve blogged many times about Logbook of the World (LOTW). Well, it’s hard to believe, but it’s been three nearly years since I went through the hassle of registering with LOTW. The reason I know this is that now they’re asking me to re-register.

To re-register, you have to use the TQSL-CERT program to generate a .tq5 file and then upload that to LOTW. LOTW is supposed to process that file and then return a .tq6 file, which you then load back into TQSL-CERT. Sounds like a lot of make-work to me, but oh well.

While I was at it, I thought it would probably be a good idea to check when I last uploaded my logs to LOTW. Well, as it turns out, the last time I’d done this was the end of February, so nearly nine months ago! So, I got that taken care of.

Finally, I thought I’d check my awards status.  Well, lo and behold, I now have a total of 108 countries confirmed via LOTW.  I’m also now qualified for a CW endorsement, with a total of 105 countries worked on CW. 30m is my best band with a total of 73 countries worked on 30m.

Worked All States is another matter. I only have 48 states total confirmed via LOTW. I have worked 48 states confirmed on 40m and 48 states confirmed on CW.  And, all that’s before the 800-odd QSOs that I just uploaded.