What are you doing for Field Day?

2014_Field_Day_Logo_333_X_220My club here in Ann Arbor, ARROW, is still debating what to do about Field Day. We are unable to return to the site it was held at last year, so the organizers are still looking for a site. In addition, they have been talking about downsizing from 4A or 5A to 2A or 3A. I don’t think that decision’s been made yet, either.

That prompted me to ask my Twitter followers what they’re doing. Here’s what they had to say:

@NR4CB: My club sets up in a field adjacent to a city municipal building. I’ll visit them for a while during the event.

@imabug: @NR4CB and i’ll be playing FD with my club from the USS Yorktown in the #chs harbour

@waltham845: Trying to get myself to the top a mountain pass do some qrp. barring that qrp out in the field both battery powered hopefully.

@NS0D: I will be a CW operator for the combined FD operation at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO, using call WW1USA

@W1MSW: @HampdenCountyRA 4 towers, 2 tribndrs, 2 40m monobndrs, 3plexrs, networked stns, N1MM & a whole lot of fun!

@jmurphy7411: Taking part in Formidable Footprint ex w/COARES R1D1. Better to train 4 an exp event than HV fun in a contest

@VA3QV: be operating a 1B station (FT 817 qrp and an end fed wire with 12ah battery and solar panel) somewhere TBD from the Ottawa area

@twintiermedia: Spending it with KB3EIB, his 10 yr old son KD2EVP, his unlicensed son, and our dogs in the woods in Allegany County NY QRPing

@M0PZT: May be out /P on the Sunday to make a racket across the pond. Not sure about this QRP stuff though!

@KD8SRF suggested that we hold it in an Ann Arbor municipal park. The guys looked into that, and not only does the city want money to let us do that, they’re not keen on people staying overnight in the parks.

@KD8SRF then suggested: “If you wanted to go all in, might I suggest Belle isle. State police everywhere. They allow after dark special event. It’s cleaned up.” Belle Isle is the jewel of the Detroit park system. It really used to be fabulous, and the city of Detroit, which has been going through some “restructuring,” has now allowed the state of Michigan to take it over and operate it as a state park.

I actually like this idea a lot, but this is an idea for next year, I think. I would want to make it a SE Michigan event and invite hams from all over the region to participate, not just hams from any one club. Maybe I can even get KD8SRF to help organize this.

So, I’ll put it to you now. What are you doing for Field Day?

From my inbox: 100 years of ham radio, spectrum analysis, mesh networks

Celebrating 100 years of ham radioThis month marks the centennial of the American Radio Relay League, the largest ham radio association in the United States. That means it will be a special year for the hundreds who converge annually on W1AW, a small station known as “the mecca of ham radio” in Newington, Conn., to broadcast radio signals across the globe.

Spectrum Analysis Basics - Application Note 150Spectrum Analysis Basics – A Resource Toolkit. Learn about the fundamentals with Agilent’s most popular and recently updated application note, Spectrum Analysis Basics – Application Note 150, which is now paired with a toolkit of app notes, demo videos, web/mobile apps, and related material.

When the Internet Dies, Meet the Meshnet That Survives. The art and technology nonprofit center Eyebeam recently staged a small-scale scenario that mimicked the outage that affected New York after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. As part of the drill in Manhattan, a group of New Yorkers scrambled to set up a local network and get vital information as the situation unfolded.


Two new ones for collection of QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words:


John writes, “I lived in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area for two years.
Working you brought back a lot of memories.” It was my pleasure, John.


Up in Canada, amateurs can have more than one call. Ed’s main call is VE4YU, but when I saw that he also held the call VE4ZOO, I asked if he could also put me in that log and send me a QSL card. After explaining about my odd collection, he graciously agreed to send me one. Thanks, Ed!

From my Twitter feed: Tindie, resonant speaker

blackrockcastle's avatarBlackrock Castle @blackrockcastle
@WIRED: An inside look at Tindie, a thriving new marketplace for DIY gadgets wrd.cm/Rlnkbt pic.twitter.com/pZzItSsUpz@ado_collins


n1pce's avatarJohn Ryan @n1pce
April 2014 CQ Plus – Adding Volume With a Resonant Speaker youtube.com/watch?v=nLFPAj… via @YouTube


kc5fm's avatarkc5fm @kc5fm
My New Favourite Social Network Is Ham Radio | Business Insider bit.ly/1k5fGIx #ARRL #hamradio

Makers should make things that work

In the March/April issue of CQ, Rich, W2VU wrote the “Makers” column for the regular editor. He writes about a one-tube transmitter that he built. It sounds like an interesting project, but then he says:

I haven’t actually gotten to testing it out yet. I still need to get a crystal and wire-up the connectors for power, antenna, and a key….Frankly, I don’t really care if it works (that would be a bonus, of course), but for me, the real fun was in the building (I’m sorry, making), from staining the wood to winding the coils and putting it altogether. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a piece of electronic art that I’m proud to have in my shack.

While I agree with W2VU that it does look very cool, I would really want to do what I can to make it work. While it might be fun to look at, the real pleasure comes from building something that you can put on the air and make contacts with. Makers should make things that work.

Operating notes: FAT, ragchews, newbies on 2m

FAT. I’ve added yet another station to my collection of QSOs with stations whose callsigns spell words. WA4FAT, who subscribes to my tip-of-the-week mailing list, volunteered to work me and did so on 40m this last week. Now, I’m waiting for the card.

Two nice ragchews. Last night, I had a couple of nice ragchews. The first was with Bill, WB4DB0. I’ve worked him several times, and it’s always been a nice conversation. Last night, I mentioned that I was going to a Civil War re-enactment on Monday, and as it turns out, he used to be a big Civil War buff.

Later on, I worked Steve, KF7YRL in Lame Deer, MT. On his QRZ.Com page, he says, “You may think you’re boring, but I don’t. I want to hear about your family, your career, your military service, your ham-life, your other hobbies, what it’s like where you live, or crazy stuff you’ve lived through. Give me something that helps me remember you.” Now that’s the attitude you should bring to a QSO. Talk about real stuff. Make it memorable.

During the course of our QSO, I mentioned that I’d written some study guides. This morning, I receive an e-mail from him. He says, “Great to meet you.  Got curious about your study guides, so I looked in my folder of ham stuff on my computer, and sure enough, the ones my bro had sent me a couple of years ago were yours.  High five on that effort.  Very nice guides.” It’s nice to make connections like that.

Newbies on 2m. Possibly the silliest situation we have in amateur radio is that nearly all newcomers buy 2m handhelds only to find that they can’t hit that many repeaters, there aren’t that many guys on 2m anymore, and the old farts that are on 2m won’t talk to them, anyway.

We should all try to do something about this. If you have a 2m radio in the shack, turn it on while you’re down there. If you here a guy give his call sign, return the call, even if you don’t recognize the callsign. You could be missing an interesting conversation, and you’re certainly missing a chance to improve amateur radio in your area.

Last night, I did just that. Shortly after turning on the rig, I heard “KD8YQZ listening.” I was putzing around with something and thought about not calling him back, but then decided that whatever it was I was doing, was certainly not important enough to not talk to this guy.

As it turned out, Tom had just passed the test at Dayton last Saturday, and his callsign appeared in the FCC database on Tuesday. How cool is that?

Shortly after we started talking Todd, KD8WPX, broke in and we started a round-robin QSO. These were two younger guys, and not only were they interested in amateur radio, but also in the local “maker” groups. I was able to point them in the right direction on both counts.

It was also an “Elmer” moment. I taught the about the courtesy tone and about round-robin QSOs. I hope that it was as positive an experience for both of those guys as it was for me.

What I want you to take away from this is that you should turn the radio on when you’re in your shack or out in the garage, and monitor the repeaters. Not only that, return the call when you hear someone come on. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about how there’s no 2m activity anymore or how ham radio is getting to be just a bunch of old guys.

Amateur radio in the news: antenna dispute, Hamvention on TV, new respect for emcomm

This woman is NOT happy that her neighbor, Jeff, W6BYS, has erected this 55-ft. tower.

Neighbors protest radio antenna in historic district. When Napa resident Kathleen Wolf returned to her Randolph Street home in April, following a three-month trip to France, she was surprised to see a newly installed 55-foot-tall radio antenna towering above her fence in a neighbor’s backyard. “That’s the last thing I want to look at,” said Wolf, whose historic home has been in her family for four generations. “What if it falls on me while I’m tending to my tomatoes? I, at least, want  to know that it’s safe.” About six weeks ago, Jeff Hullquist, a Coombs Street resident, erected the amateur, or ham, radio antenna at his home. He grounded the enormous, metal structure in 30,000 pounds of cement and attached it to the side of his house using temporary mounts.

Hamvention in town this weekend. Channel 22 in Dayton ran this nice story on the Hamvention last week.

Ham radio: Old technology gets new respect. Seeking reliable backup communication in a crisis, emergency managers are finding new solutions in an old technology: ham radio. “It’s just another avenue, another opportunity for us to be able to communicate,” said Herb Schraufnagel, public safety captain with Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Happy Ham Radio Week: Do we get cake?

As legislatures do in many states, the Michigan legislature has designated the last week in June as Amateur Radio Week in Michigan. Here’s the text:

Senate Resolution No. 149.

A resolution to recognize and designate June 23-29, 2014, as Amateur Radio Week in the state of Michigan.

Whereas, Amateur radio operators are celebrating over a century of the miracle of the human voice broadcast over the airwaves; and

Whereas, Amateur radio has continued to provide a bridge between people, societies, and countries by creating friendships and the sharing of ideas; and

Whereas, Operators of amateur radio have also provided countless hours of community services both in emergencies and to other local organizations throughout the decades, which are provided wholly uncompensated; and

Whereas, The state of Michigan recognizes the services amateur radio operators also provide to our many civilian emergency response organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army; and

Whereas, These same individuals have further demonstrated their value in public assistance by providing free radio communications for local parades, bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons, fairs, and other charitable public events; and

Whereas, The state of Michigan acknowledges and appreciates the diligence of these hams who also serve as weather spotters in the SKYWARN program of the National Weather Service; and

Whereas, Amateur radio once again proved its undisputed relevance in the modern world by providing emergency communications when other systems failed in the wake of Hurricane Irene and the paralyzing October blizzard that hit the Northeast and Atlantic Seaboard; and

Whereas, The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the leading organization for amateur radio in the United States; and

Whereas, The ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day exercise will take place on June 28-29, 2014, and is a 24-hour emergency preparedness exercise and demonstration of the radio amateurs’ skills and readiness to provide self-supporting communications without further infrastructure being required; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate, That we hereby recognize and designate June 23-29, 2014, as Amateur Radio Week in the state of Michigan.

My only question is do we get cake?

How do you know that fuse is protecting your circuit?

How do you know that this fuse will protect your rig?

How do you know that this fuse will protect your rig?

I blog for a leading manufacturer of circuit protection devices, so I keep my eye out for articles on fuses, ESD diodes and the like. Recently, I came across the article, “Fuse selection factors critical to circuit design.” Among the factors discussed is:

11. Application testing/verification prior to production.
Request samples for testing in the actual circuit to verify the selection. Before evaluating the samples, make sure the fuse is properly mounted with good electrical connections, using adequately sized wires or traces. The testing should include life tests under normal conditions and overload tests under fault conditions to ensure that the fuse will operate properly in the circuit.

Being a former test engineer, this got me to thinking about how one would actually do this. For example, how would you test that a fuse will actually protect a circuit board? Would you inject faults, i.e. deliberately short-circuit nodes? If so, which ones?

What measurements would you make to ensure that the fuse was working as you hope? Would you measure the time elapsed between the time you injected the fault until the time the fused actually blew? How about measuring the current profile over that period of time? That might be important and/or tell you something about the failure.

What kind of fault analysis should you perform after the fuse has blown? I suppose at the very least you’d want to replace the fuse and ensure that the circuit is functioning again. I would say that you should also run a full performance test to ensure that the fault didn’t adversely affect the board’s performance. Also, I’d think that you’d want to visually inspect the board to ensure that the fault current didn’t damage the board or traces at all.

I’m curious if any of you have had any experience with this kind of development testing. If so, please e-mail me or comment here.

Weird ARRL BOD Meeting Announcement

This just arrived in my inbox:

Special Meeting
ARRL Board of Directors
By Webinar
9:00 PM EDT Thursday, May 22, 2014

  1. Roll call and announcement that the meeting is being recorded
  2. Consideration of the agenda for the meeting
  3. Explanation of procedures for the conduct of the meeting
  4. Review of a recent decision of the Ethics and Elections Committee with regard to the application of the conflict of interest policy
  5. Adjournment

As some of you may know, I ran for Great Lakes Division Vice Director a couple of times, failing both times. The second time around, I was almost disqualified by the Ethics and Election Committee because at one point, although not at the time of the election, I was selling amateur radio books online. I had given up on that because it was just too hard to compete with Amazon and with the ARRL, given that the ARRL was able to advertise freely in QST.

When I demonstrated that the bookstore was no longer active to the committee, they rescinded the disqualification, and I was allowed to run. Unfortunately, it didn’t do any good. I lost that election by 12 votes.

I suspect that the board is going to be reviewing a similar case tonight.