Keep it clean!

No, I’m not talking about QSOs on 75 m or 14.313 MHz, I’m talking about amateur radio equipment. Earlier this afternoon, someone on the AMRAD mailing list asked how to remove smoke odor from a printed circuit board. Frank, K0BRA, responded with these two app notes from Tektronix:

So, keep it clean out there.

From my Twitter feed: WWV, smart meters, freeDV

History of WWV and the NIST Time Stations #shortwave #swl #dx

Concerned about RF effects from smart meter? Check out for technical analysis of meter signals

Been playing with FreeDV? Looks like some very recent improvements have been made. #hamr #DV

Found my 20m noise source

About three months ago, I finally put up another 20m antenna—an end-fed, half-wave antenna. Right off the bat, I was flummoxed (I love that word) by the high noise level. It was nearly S9, obliterating all but the strongest signals.

I thought it had to be something to do with the antenna. I was not experiencing any noise on any of the other bands, after all.

As it turns out, though, the source of the noise is the laptop power supply. I had taken the laptop somewhere on Wednesday, and when I returned it to the shack that evening, I switched the rig over to 20m before connecting the power supply back to the laptop. No noise! When I plugged the power supply into the laptop, the noise jumped up to S9 again.

What’s really confusing about all this is that I don’t hear this noise on any other band. They’re all completely quiet. Like I’ve said before, sometimes 40m is so quiet that I wonder if the antenna is even connected.

At any rate, the last couple of days, I’ve been working 20m with the power supply disconnected, running the laptop off the battery, and the results have been quite good. This evening, for example, I worked several DX stations, including 6W/HA0NAR in Senegal.

Amateur radio in the news: Hams threatened in TX, ham starts biz in CO, MI hams support sled dog race

Here’s another installment of amateur radio in the news…….Dan

Radio operator accused of terroristic threats. This is bizarre. MySanAntonio.Com reports “A man arrested on allegations that he used amateur radio channels to threaten to kill members of a local amateur radio club has been released from the Bexar County Jail. An arrest affidavit states Watkins, known on radio frequencies as ‘White Noise,’ was creating interference and illegally transmitting over radio bands without having the required radio operator license.”

Ham sends transmitters to Venus. Robert Sternowski, WB0LBI, is president of Softronics, Ltd., a company that designs electronic products and systems specializing in radios. One of Softronics’ first contracts was to design and build a transmitter that NASA sent to Venus.

Hams help dogs stay on track. The Hiawatha Amateur Radio Club is once again providing communications for the UP 200 dog sled race. According to Paul Racine, KB0P, vice president of the club there are some people that get their ham license just for the purpose of helping out during the UP 200 sled dog race.


Operating Notes: Africa, four new countries, JT65

Operating notes from the last couple of days:

I finally worked the 5X8C DXpedition in Uganda Thursday night on 40m. They must have worked nearly everyone that’s wanted to work them because they were actually calling CQ. I got them on the second or third call.

On Friday night, after the DX contest had started, I worked 9U4U DXpedition in Burundi on 30m. I thought this a bit odd because I would have thought they would be operating the contest, but apparently not. That made it much easier for me to work them. They were actually calling CQ, and I was able to get them on the second call.

Three new countries for WA2HOM
Yesterday, I went down to WA2HOM. I hadn’t really intended to participate in the ARRL CW DX contest, but after making a couple of phone contacts, I couldn’t resist tuning around to see how conditions were. As it turned out, conditions were pretty good on 10m and 15m. Ii was able to add four new countries (errrrrr, DXCC entities) to the WA2HOM log:

  • New Zealand: ZL3IO, 15m.
  • Peru: OA4SS, 15m
  • Senegal: 6V7S, 10m

I’m @kb6nu on Twitter and enjoy tweeting about my operating activities there. Several of my followers have said that they enjoy reading my reports. One night last week, after complaining about not getting any replies to my CQs, @VA5LF saw that tweet, fired up his rig, and came back to me. We were having a nice chat until his QRN level jumped.

A lot of the guys on Twitter seem to enjoy working JT65. I’m going to have to look into that.

From my Twitter feed: Lids, EDA, TV

@KL8DX Publish your LID list on #LOTA #LidsOnTheAir


KD4E_73 links to Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools that are released under the GPL.

Amateur Radio: Ham Radio in upcoming episode of Last Man Standing

Arvid, KC8VGO SK

Arvid, KC8VGO, helps out at Field Day 2003.

Arvid, KC8VGO, helps out at Field Day 2003. Photo courtesy of Dave New, N8SBE.

At Wednesday’s ARROW meeting, I was saddened to learn of the death of Arvid, KC8VGO. Although he was in his 80s at the time, he attended my General class, and eventually got his General ticket.

He was a guy that liked to do things. Shortly after getting his General ticket, I heard that he attended classes at Washtenaw Community College, learning what he had to know to get his motorcycle license. His obituary also notes that he was a shriner, enjoyed square dancing, and belonged to the Country Twirlers.

Arvid was also one of those guys that truly was unable to learn the code. Removing that requirement was what allowed him to finally get on the air and then finally to get his General Class license. So, when anyone tells me that the code test was a good way to keep out “undesirables,” I always pointed to Arvid as a case of the code test keeping out someone that we want to be part of the hobby.

73, Arvid

Happy World Radio Day

UNESCO World Radio Day

UNESCO’s World Radio Day was yesterday, February 13. I know I’m a day late with this one, but there’s still some interesting information to be communicated. The World Radio Day website notes,

13 February is World Radio Day — a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression over the airwaves.

While it’s mostly about radio broadcasting, amateur radio  does get a mention. In the article, “Shortwave Broadcasting – Challenges and Opportunities,” the author, Oldrich Cip, says,

Amateur radio enthusiasts have traditionally used shortwave communications to share information during emergencies when other communications systems fail. This practice is recognised and appreciated both by the public and the regulating bodies responsible for managing radio frequency spectrum. In contrast, professional broadcast facilities, whose transmitters are 10 to 100 times more powerful than those of amateur operators, are rarely used in emergencies.

As an aside, Cip is the director of the High-Frequency Coordinating Committee (HFCC). The goal of the HFCC is to coordinate shortwave frequency use and minimize broadcaster interference. Their website has some interesting information, and is worth a look for those of you into SWLing.

From the trade magazines, selecting crystals, understanding measurement uncertainty, Maxwell’s equations

Another selection of articles from the electronics engineering trade magazines……Dan

Selecting Crystals For Stable Oscillators
Understanding how quartz-crystal resonators operate can lead to designing crystal oscillators with improved stability and better noise performance.

Tutorial on Maxwell’s Equations
There’s a lot of math here, but cracking Maxwell’s equations will give you a lot of insight on how radio works. Registration required.

Understand Uncertainty For Better Test Accuracy
How sure are you of that measurement you just made with your multimeter or wattmeter? This article might open your eyes as to the accuracy of your measurements.


Hire me to write your amateur radio business blog

A couple of  hours ago, I got the following e-mail from the owner of an amateur radio business:

Keep up the good work with your blog. I Enjoy it. I wish I could keep my blog as interesting as yours.

To which, I replied:

Thanks. If you’d like to pay me, I could blog for you as well. Pay me enough, and I’ll ghost-blog, that is I’ll write it and you publish it under your name. You could feed me things that you want me to write about, or just let me write about what I find interesting. If published under my byline, you could even pay me to re-post items originally posted on my blog.

Google loves blogs. They’re great for search engine optimization (SEO). That’s why if you own an amateur radio business, you should not only have a website, but also a blog. Blogs bring traffic to your website, and more traffic means more sales.

The problem, of course, is keeping the content fresh and up-to-date. It’s hard running a retail operation. It’s not a surprise, then, that there’s little time and energy left for blogging.

The solution? Let me blog for you. I am a professional writer by trade and one of the leading amateur radio bloggers. I’ve been at this for more than ten years now, and this blog has nearly 2,000 posts. Let me say that again. This blog has nearly 2,000 posts.

So, let’s talk. As I mentioned earlier, the blog posts I write for you can run under my byline or under your byline. They could be posts that originally appeared on this blog, or completely original pieces. I’m very flexible, and as a writer for hire, I have very little ego.  You can edit a piece however you want, as long as you’re paying for it.

My email address is My phone number is 734-930-6564.