Amateur radio in the news: Rotary donates to children’s museum, Waukegan ham charged with interference, more than just a hobby

 

Kids enjoying the exhibits at the Duluth Children's Museum.

Kids enjoying the exhibits at the Duluth Children’s Museum.

Rotary Club of Duluth makes $2,000 donation. Duluth Children’s Museum will use the money to obtain more equipment for the amateur radio communication programming that derived directly from the DCM’s recent Space Station event.

Unfortunately, this item was very short on details, but I’m trying to follow up with the museum to see if I can make contact with the hams in Duluth who are working with the museum there….Dan

Waukegan man charged with making racially offensive radio transmissions. An amateur radio operator from Waukegan was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he breached security and used racially offensive language on a Lake County Sheriff’s Office corrections radio communications system, officials said. Raymond J. Kelly, 24, of the 4800 block of Eastwood Court, was charged with two counts of tampering with jail communications, as well as one count of harassment through electronic communications, said Sara Balmes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

I was really sorry to read this…Dan

More than a hobby. Being an amateur radio operator is a great hobby for some, but last week, those hobbyists proved just how important their pastime activity can be in an emergency situation.

Being the greedy sot that I am…

…I’m going to try another way to “monetize” this website. What I’ve done is to add a page thats list ham radio products sold on Amazon. If you purchase a product on Amazon using one of the links there, I’ll get a cut. You can get to that page by clicking on the “Ham Stuff (from Amazon)” link above.

Taking that a step further, I’d love to get your suggestions for products to list there. You don’t have to have purchased it on Amazon, but it needs to be sold by Amazon. Please feel to either e-mail me your suggestions or enter them in the comment section below.

Operating Notes: triple play, 2m loop, W5LJT (SK)

Here are some random recollections of recent QSOs:

Triple play!
At WA2HOM Saturday, I decided to forego the CQWW CW contest and make some phone contacts. After listening to some guys on 20m, I switched to 15m and found that it was open. Tuning around, I heard Alvaro, EA2BY working some guy on the East Coast. Now, I don’t have “BY” in my collection of QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words, so I hung around until he was finished with the East Cost QSO and got him in the log on the first call. He was running only 20 W, but had a four-element, 15m quad, so he had a pretty good signal.

After that QSO, I tuned around a bit more, then decided to call CQ. I called CQ three or four times before IW1ARK came back to me. That made two!

Just before I left the museum, I decided to tune around on 20m phone. That’s where I worked Bob, W0ROB, to complete the triple play. Bob and I had a great conversation about amateur radio stations in museums. He used to go to Arizona for the winter and has operated W7ASC, the station at the Arizona Science Center.

2m loop
About a week ago, I was blabbing with a couple of guys from one of my Tech classes on the W8UM repeater (145.23-, 100 Hz tone, W8UM-R on EchoLink) when Ron, NB8Q, broke in. Ron was using a 2m loop antenna that he just built. What made the remarkable is that it was inside his mobile home!  I told him that he should make a reflector, but he said that he didn’t have enough space for it in his mobile home.

W5LJT (SK)
This evening, I got some bad news. Bill, W5LJT, is now an SK.

i always enjoyed talking to Bill. He liked to talk about the Detroit Red Wings. Despite living in the Houston area, he was a long-time hockey fan, going back to his days as a student at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. He told me that sometimes he would take a train from South Bend to Detroit to catch a Red Wings game at the Olympia Stadium.

My log says that I had 27 QSOs with Bill over the past ten years. I’m sorry that I won’t be having another one.

Deadline for Leonard Award approaching

From Bill, N2COP, and the ARRL PR Committee:

The deadline is December 6th for the 2013 Bill Leonard W2SKE Professional Media Award. The Leonard award recognizes journalists who earn income from stories they write or produce about Amateur Radio, but the Leonard Award also indirectly recognizes your efforts, and the efforts of your PICs and PIOs, to bring your Ham Radio activities to the attention of professional media employees. There are actually not one but THREE Leonard awards:

  1. Text (newspapers, magazines, blogs),
  2. Audio (broadcast radio, podcasts), and
  3. Video (TV, DVDs, webcasts).

With the deadline now two weeks away, the Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time for you and your PICs and PIOs to assemble nomination packages. A full description of the Bill Leonard award, rules and submission criteria can be found on the ARRL website.

It’s always a fun occasion to give a local reporter in your section a plaque to honor their coverage of Amateur Radio, plus you now have a friend in the media who will tell his or her media friends about Ham Radio. It’s an all around win for our hobby. Those of us who are members of ARRL’s Public Relations Committee look forward to reviewing your submissions in December.

ARRL Files “Symbol Rate” Petition with FCC

Here’s the latest bulletin from the ARRL. I like this idea. How about you?

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB030
ARLB030 ARRL Files “Symbol Rate” Petition with FCC

ZCZC AG30
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 30 ARLB030
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT November 20, 2013
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB030
ARLB030 ARRL Files “Symbol Rate” Petition with FCC

The ARRL has asked the FCC to delete the symbol rate limit in §97.307(f) of its Amateur Service rules, replacing it with a maximum bandwidth for data emissions of 2.8 kHz on amateur frequencies below 29.7 MHz. The ARRL Board of Directors adopted the policy underlying the petition initiative at its July 2013 meeting. The petition was filed November 15.

“The changes proposed would, in the aggregate, relieve the Amateur Service of outdated, 1980s-era restrictions that presently hamper or preclude Amateur Radio experimentation with modern high frequency (HF) and other data transmission protocols,” the League’s petition asserted. “The proposed rule changes would also permit greater flexibility in the choice of data emissions.” Symbol rate represents the number of times per second that a change of state occurs, not to be confused with data (or bit) rate.

Current FCC rules limit digital data emissions below 28 MHz to 300 baud, and between 28.0 and 28.3 MHz to 1200 baud. “Transmission protocols are available and in active use in other radio services in which the symbol rate exceeds the present limitations set forth in §97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules, but the necessary bandwidths of those protocols are within the bandwidth of a typical HF single sideband channel (3 kHz),” the ARRL’s petition pointed out.

The League said that while bandwidth limitations are reasonable, the  symbol rate “speed limit” reflective of 1980s technology, prohibits radio amateurs today from utilizing state-of-the-art technology. Present symbol rate limits on HF “actually encourage spectrum inefficiency,” the League argues, “in that they allow data transmissions of unlimited bandwidth as long as the symbol rat is sufficiently slow.” The League said eliminating symbol rate limits on data emissions and substituting a “reasonable maximum authorized bandwidth” would permit hams to use all HF data-transmission protocols now legal in the Amateur Service as well as other currently available protocols that fall within the authorized bandwidth but are off limits to amateurs.

The League said it’s been more than three decades – when the Commission okayed the use of ASCII on HF – since the FCC has evaluated symbol rate restrictions on radio amateurs as a regulatory matter. “The symbol rate restrictions were created to suit digital modes that are no longer in favor,” the ARRL noted in its petition. Modern digital emissions “are capable of much more accurate and reliable transmissions at greater speeds with much less bandwidth than in 1980.”

As an example, the League pointed to PACTOR 3, which is permitted under current rules, and PACTOR 4, which is not. Despite PACTOR 4′s greater throughput, both protocols can operate within the bandwidth of a typical SSB transmission.

“If the symbol rate is allowed to increase as technology develops and the Amateur Service utilizes new data emission types, the efficiency of amateur data communications will increase,” the ARRL concluded.

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has emphasized that there is no broader plan on the League’s part to seek regulation by bandwidth.

The FCC has not yet assigned an RM number and put the League’s petition on public notice for comments, and there is no way to file comments until that happens.
NNNN
/EX

Amateur radio in the news: Ft. Wayne (IN) hamfest, CA ISS contact, Roger on the Radio

Another selection of news items about amateur radio from around the country.

Hamfest brings on-air friends together (Journal-Gazette of Ft. Wayne, IN). Amy Kritzman and her husband, Ron, occupied some prime real estate as the 41st annual Fort Wayne Hamfest and Computer Expo opened Saturday. Facing the entrance, the Kritzmans don’t carry the adapters, cords and tools that thousands of ham radio operators forage through every year. What the couple have in stock is personality. One look around Memorial Coliseum Exposition Center’s floor and it’s obvious the Kritzmans are known for their custom-embroidered hats, featuring the names and call signs of radio operators in different thread colors.

Teen takes lead on call to International Space Station.(Contra Costa Times, CA). More than 100 students sat on the playground of Rancho Romero Elementary School on Wednesday morning staring into the clear, blue sky, waiting for their 10-minute date with an astronaut. Many watched in rapt anticipation for one of the two 14-foot antenna towers perched atop one of the school’s buildings to tilt into motion. That, they were told, would be the first sign they had made direct contact with the International Space Station.

Roger, N4ZC, has hosted a radio show on WSGE in Charlotte, NC, playing big band music for the past 33 years.

‘Roger on Your Radio’ signs off at WSGE. For 33 years, Roger Burt – aka “Roger on Your Radio” – stood inside radio station WSGE’s studio at Gaston College in Dallas and broadcast his four-hour radio program called “The Good Stuff,” which featured music from the big band eras.

Transforming impedances: Question G5C07

In the last two weeks, I’ve received e-mails from two readers of The No-Nonsense General-Class License Study Guide. Both questioned my explanation of how transformers transform impedance. I wrote:

Transformers are also used to transform impedances. The impedance ratio is also related to the turns ratio, but the transformation is equal to the square of the turns ratio. The turns ratio of a transformer used to match an audio amplifier having a 600-ohm output impedance to a speaker having a 4-ohm impedance is 12.2 to 1. (G5C07)

Doug wrote, “The only way I can reproduce the calculation is by taking the square root of the turns ratio.” His comment made me see where my explanation could be a bit misleading. I wrote back:

Think about it this way. An impedance transformation can go either way. When transforming from a higher impedance to a lower impedance, you divide by the square root of the turns ratio. When transforming a lower impedance to a higher impedance, you multiply by the square of the turns ratio. In either case, the impedance ratio is “related” to the square of the turns ratio.

I love getting feedback from my readers. Feedback like this helps me improve my study guides. If you have used one of my study guides, and have a comment or question about any of the material, please feel free to contact me.

Amateur Radio on the BBC and NPR

I’ve come across two stories on traditional media that either are about amateur radio or have some amateur radio content. Both are worth a look and listen….Dan

BBC News: The very particular world of amateur radio

 

BBC News: the very particular world of amateur radio. In the face of the internet, mobiles and instant messaging you might expect the hobby of amateur radio – or ham radio as it’s also known – to be on the decline. But in the last three years, the number of amateur radio licences has risen by over 8,000 – with 80,000 currently issued in the UK. This video tells the story of an amateur radio club in the UK, as they set up a special event station at Astley Hall, a stately home in Lancashire.

NPR’s The Story – Tony Schwartz: 30,000 Recordings Later. While not specifically about amateur radio, Tony Schwartz, one of the pre-eminent collectors of audio recordings from all over the world was also an amateur radio operator. He enjoyed both collecting recordings and being an amateur radio operator for much the same reason, they allowed him to experience other cultures without having to travel.

Another “retro” QSL design

Based on some input from comments here, and from e-mails, here’s a more refined retro QSL design.

Retro QSL #2

Also, as I mentioned in a comment to my previous post, I might have a way to actually print them authentically, too. Here in Ann Arbor. We have a group called BoundEdition, which is a “membership-based community studio for book arts, letterpress, and related trades.” Heck, maybe I could even come up with a few designs and offer to print up small batches for other hams.

What would you think about that? Would you be interested in purchasing some if I could master the printing process?

What do you think about my retro QSL design?

About a year ago, I blogged about possibly coming up with a retro design for my next QSL card. Well, despite my best intentions, that project languished.

Last night, though, I worked WA1ISA, who mentioned that he reads this blog. He mentioned that he really liked the K5PEA QSL and that he had a QSL collection of his own. He collects QSL cards from the 1920s. Well, that gave me a little nudge to finish my retro QSL design. Here it is:

kb6nu-retro-qsl

I’m not really quite satisfied with it, but not being a graphics designer, I’m not really sure what it’s missing. Any thoughts?