From my Twitter feed: FreeDV, W3EDP antenna, IARU on WRC-15

I haven’t been a big advocate of digital voice (DV), but I’m beginning to think it might be fun.

Saw a little FreeDV love on Planet Ubuntu in the form of this post. Nice job by 9M2PJU. #hamr


Also, see My Favorite Cheap HF Antenna, The W3EDP on KG4GVL’s blog.

Latest update on the W3EDP antenna. by: Brandon, the Random Man: More on the W3EDP


Are more HF allocations in our future?

IARU announces WRC-15 positions #hamradio



twitterToday, on Twitter, some folks decided to see if they could get a ham radio-related hashtag to show up as “trending.” They decided to do ham radio takeoffs of popular movies and tag them #hamradiofilms. There were a lot of good ones. Here are some that I found funny:

  • The Silence of the Hams
  • For a Few dB More
  • Dial Q for QRP
  • Dude, Where’s My QSL?
  • Transmission: Impossible
  • Toroid! Toroid! Toroid!
  • The King’s Speech (Compressor)
  • Ben Hz
  • The Hamshack Redemption
  • The Man with the Golden PL-259
  • Debbie Does DX
  • D-STAR Wars

I think you get the idea. I contributed a few. I think my best was The Sunspot Cycle Also Rises. My second favorite is Willy Wonka and the Elecraft Factory.

What to do about SDR?

For quite a while now, I’ve been thinking about what I should do about software-defined radio (SDR). For one thing, I’d like to write about it here on KB6NU.Com. For another, I’d like to learn more about it – how it works, what’s available, etc.

I”ve decided that short of writing a book about the topic, I’m not going to try to write something comprehensive, but instead just little bits about SDR as I come across them. So, with that in mind, here’s some SDR stuff that I’ve come across recently.

  • DVB-T Mini DongleDVB-T Mini Digital TV USB Stick Dongle. Based on an exchange of e-mails on the AMRAD mailing list, I recently purchased one of these little dongles. Apparently, a bunch of AMRAD members purchased this unit at a recent hamfest, and they’ve all been having fun with them.Unfortunately, it looks like I purchased the wrong one. This design is not supported by the commonly available SDR software. The dongles that are supported use the Realtek RTL2832U chip, so look for that before purchasing.

    Coincidentally, one of the guys here in Ann Arbor, purchased a FunCube Pro dongle at Dayton and brought it down to the museum Saturday. It costs significantly more ($150), but it will tune 150 kHz to 1.9 GHz. It will be fun to compare the two.

  • SoftRock, Peaberry. A couple of months ago, I purchased a SoftRock Lite II kit from someone who hadn’t gotten around to building it and decided that he was probably never going to get around to it. Well, of course, I haven’t gotten around to building it yet, either, but I do hope to get to it sooner rather than later.I have since come across the Peaberry line of kits. The Peaberry SDR V2 kit looks interesting. For $150, you get a multi-band SDR transceiver.
  • RTL-SDR.Com. This blog covers a wide range of topics including how to receive all kinds of different transmissions with DVB-T dongles that use the RTL chips. One recent article compares SDR using the RTL dongles and the FunCube Pro dongle.

From my Twitter feed: Whitebox, four-layer PCBs, propagation service

Combining Software Defined Radios and Smart Phones: #hamr

This is a very interesting project, and I hope that it gains some traction.

How 4 layer PCBs are made

Radio Propagation as a service #hamr @k6tu

30 bucks seems reasonable for this service.

From the trade magazines: capacitors, inductors, radio architectures

Temperature and voltage variation of ceramic capacitors. Read the data sheet! This tutorial explains how ceramic capacitor type designations, such as X7R and Y5V, imply nothing about voltage coefficients. You must check the data sheet to really know, how a specific capacitor will perform under temperature and voltage.

Circuit measures capacitance or inductance. You don’t need a fancy LC meter to measure capacitance or inductance. This short article show you how to do it with a function generator, multimeter, frequency counter, and an oscilloscope. Hmmmmm. By the time you get that all lashed up, it might have been quicker to just buy one of these LC meters from China.

Understand Radio Architectures. This is the first in a series of excerpts from the book RF Circuit Design, 2e by Christopher Bowick. Even though this appears in an engineering trade magazine, some of this is pretty basic stuff. You even get a schematic for a crystal radio!

Yet another Heathkit?



Twitter is abuzz with news that someone is trying once again to revive Heathkit. The image above was taken right off the Heathkit home page.

Even more amusing is the online customer survery. It’s quite an extensive survey and very heavy on the amateur radio questions. GB Hoyt (KB4GVL, @kb4gvl on Twitter) has an interesting take on what it will take for them to succeed on his blog.

Take the survey and tell me what you think. Can Heathkit be resurrected?



Amateur radio tip of the day: Low SWR isn’t the “be all and end all” it’s sometimes made out to be

Ham Radio Tip of the Day
Today’s tip is from Bob, KG6AF. For submitting this tip, Bob will get one of my e-books. Thanks, Bob!

Low SWR isn’t the “be all and end all” it’s sometimes made out to be. Just because you measure a low SWR, it doesn’t mean that your antenna is radiating efficiently. Conversely, a high SWR doesn’t mean that an antenna won’t radiate. Remember that a 50-ohm dummy load has a 1:1 SWR.

Most modern rigs will reduce or cut off transmit power if the SWR the transmitter sees is higher than 2:1, so you do have to make sure that the impedance the transmitter sees at the antenna connector is close to 50 ohms. To do that, we often use an antenna tuner. An antenna tuner will make the transmitter happy, but that doesn’t mean that the transmitter’s output power is being radiated by the antenna. There are many other factors that come into play.

Take the time to read reliable material on the subject. The ARRL Guide to Antenna Tuners, by Joel Hallas, W1ZR, is a good starting place. You can also find lots of solid information in the QST archives.



Every week, I select one of this list’s subscribers to get one of my e-books. This week’s winner is Jared, N7SMI.

Tips like this one are sent out every day by e-mail. To subscribe to the list, simply click here and fill out the form. Every week, I’ll select a random subscriber and give them one of my books.

Do  you have a tip that you’d like to share with other radio amateurs? E-mail it to me. If I use your tip, I’ll send you one of my books.

From my Twitter feed: future of SDR, Dayton review, fritzing

The Future of SDR – Fat-Pipe vs. Thin-Pipe


Dayton in the Rearview Mirror | Smoke Curls #hamr


This looks like an interesting and easy to use PCB package -

A long, hot Day One at Dayton

Well, I made it through the first day at Dayton. I say first day, but it really was my second. Opn Thursday, I attended the Four Days in May seminar put on by the QRP-ARCI. This is a great event, which I’ll write more about later.

My day started very early. I always have trouble sleeping in hotels, and last night was no exception. I woke up about 2:30 am, and didn’t get back to sleep until 4 am. I got up for good at 6:30. Ugggh. At least breakfast was good. The Homewood Suites where I am staying serves a hot breakfast, including waffles, eggs, and sausages.

I got on the 7:30 bus, which, of course,didn’t leave on time, and then got stuck in rush hour traffic. It was after 8:30 by the time we arrived at Hara Arena. Then, there was some confusion with my speaker badge. I finally got that about 9:15, and that only left me with about a half hour to look around the flea market before my 10 am talk.

The talk went really well, I think. There was a good crowd, and my message was well- received. During the Q and A, one of the attendees, a teenager, gave my study guides a big plug. He said that he had used them to get his Tech and General.

The forum lasted until almost noon. Iwas pretty tired already by then,but I still tramped around the flea market and the inside of the arena. I saw some interesting things, but my heart wasn’t really into it. I didn’t buy a single thing. I did see a lot of people I know, including a couple of guys that were in a recent Tech class. That was fun.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little more sleep tonight and really attack the hamfest tomorrow.

Amateur radio tip of the day: DXers have their own set of phonetics

While it’s always appropriate to use the standard NATO phonetics, DXers have their own set of phonetics. For example, you will often here “Mexico” instead of “Mike” or “Honolulu” instead of “Hotel.” This is especially true in DX contests. So, if a DX station doesn’t seem to understand the NATO phonetics, give the “DXer phonetics” a try.

Tips like this one are sent out every day by e-mail. To subscribe to the list, simply click here and fill out the form. Every week, I’ll select a random subscriber and give them one of my books.

Do  you have a tip that you’d like to share with other radio amateurs? E-mail it to me. If I use your tip, I’ll send you one of my books.