From my Twitter feed: Antennas!

gw1jfv's avatarRichard GW1JFV @gw1jfv
Mr Cebik (W4RNL sk) Top 5 backyard multi-band wire antennas via N8SDR n8sdr.sopmcincy.org/images/Antenna…

 

MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
The versatile endfed VK3YE home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gatew… #hamradio

 

Tydraig's avatarCarl MW0TBB – KC2ZIL @Tydraig
FMW Magnetic loop antenna by M0AJJ compared to the Alex Loop by PY1AHD. tydraig.com/antenna%20magn… #hamr

ARRL to sign MOA with FEMA, PRB-1 to extend to HOAs?

In addition to the news about a new director for the Great Lakes Division, this week’s ARRL Letter also had two other items of interest:

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

ARRL, FEMA to Sign Memorandum of Agreement at National Centennial Convention
The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the ARRL National Centennial Convention, taking place July 17-19 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, will join FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on Friday, July 18, at 4:15 PM, in signing the MOA, which is aimed at fostering greater cooperation between the League and FEMA in the area of disaster communication and support. Fugate will speak at the Centennial Banquet later that evening, and more than 850 are expected to attend.

I’ll be very interested in reading this MOA…Dan

Grassroots Campaign Underway to Promote Co-Sponsorship of “Amateur Radio Parity Act”
A grassroots effort is underway to encourage radio amateurs to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act. The measure, introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25, calls on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and it has initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT). With Congress going on its August recess in a few weeks, the campaign is focusing on contacting Members of Congress or their staffers at or through their district offices during the break. Getting additional lawmakers to sign on as HR.4969 co-sponsors is considered essential to the bill’s success.

“This is the ideal time for you to develop small teams of constituents to approach members of Congress in their district offices,” said ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, a principal proponent of HR.4969. “Ideally, you’d want no more than three members to go to a meeting with a Member of Congress or top staff members. These need to be active, articulate individuals who present themselves well.” Individual radio amateurs or clubs also may wish to e-mail or write their representatives to urge them to cosponsor the bill.

The primary point to convey is that the greatest threat to Amateur Radio volunteer emergency and public service communication is restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems. Nearly 30 years ago the FCC, in adopting its PRB-1 policy, acknowledged a “strong federal interest” in supporting effective Amateur Radio communication. In the intervening years, PRB-1 has helped many amateurs to overcome zoning ordinances that unreasonably restricted Amateur Radio antennas in residential areas. The 11-page PRB-1 FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order is codified at § 97.15(b) in the FCC Amateur Service rules, giving the regulation the same effect as a federal statute.

After the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ordered the FCC to enact regulations preempting municipal and private land-use regulation over small satellite dishes and broadcast TV antennas, the FCC further acknowledged that it has jurisdiction to preempt private land-use regulations that conflict with federal policy. At this point, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The Commission has indicated that it won’t extend the policy to private land-use regulation unless Congress instructs it to do so.

If HR.4969 passes the 113th Congress, it would compel the FCC, within 120 days of the Bill’s passage, to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). HR.4969 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure.

Among other tips, Lisenco advises groups setting up in-person visits with representatives to pick a leader, listen carefully, and leave behind information [see below] that supports your primary points, plus a business card. “Business cards are a big thing in DC,” he pointed out. “Make certain to take them when going to DC or a district office.”

“This isn’t rocket science, but it does take planning and the ability to state your case succinctly in no more than 15 minutes,” Lisenco advised. He said delegations should follow up with a thank you note within a day and a telephone call a week later.

An information sheet on HR.4969, a list of “talking points,” and a sample constituent letter to a Member of Congress will be available soon.

 

Operating Notes: 7/3/14 – 7/6/14

I’ve had an enjoyable Fourth of July weekend from an operating point of view and thought I’d share it with you.

Thursday, 7/3:
Thursday evening, after considerable internal debate, I got over my laziness and walked down to the Hands-On Museum to work WA2HOM. As it turns out, I was glad I did.

Thursday evenings are usually pretty slow there, meaning that the ambient noise level is such that I can actually hear myself think. I rarely get visitors in shack, but this week, I had two families visit with me for a while.

The first was a complete family: father, mother, two daughters (ages 10 and 12, I’m guessing), and grandma! I don’t know if they were just being polite, or were actually interested, but they endured about 15 mins of my babbling on about amateur radio. I tried to find someone calling CQ, and actually called CQ myself a couple of times, but was unable to make a contact to get the kids on the air. I gave them a WA2HOM QSL card, and they seemed pretty happy about the visit in spite of not being able to talk to someone.

After they left, I struck up a CW QSO with a fellow in Findlay, OH. In the middle of the contact, an older women poked her head over the railing and asked, “Are you talking to someone in outer space?” I told her no, but that we had indeed talked to someone in outer space before and pointed out our QSL card from the International Space Station.

About that time, she was joined by three people that I’m guessing were here daughter and two grandsons, Michael and Vernon, who are eleven-year-old twins. They seemed a little interested in what I was telling them about ham radio, and how I could actually copy Morse Code (I was copying on paper for their benefit), so I told them to come around into the shack.

The ham I was in contact with said hello to the twins, and they seemed pleased by that. When the contact ended, I sent them away with the paper that I used to copy the code on. Both of these encounters were a lot of fun, even though I wasn’t able to get any kids on the air.

Saturday, 7/5:
On Saturday, I once again headed down to the museum. Around 10:30 am, Ed, KD8OQG, joined me for a bit. He mentioned that he’d been playing around with a website he’d discovered that lets users communicate with one another by Morse Code – morsecode.me.

When you access the website, you’re assigned a random, four-character “callsign.” You can then send code to other users online by using the “.” key or the mouse button as a straight key.  It takes a while to get used to sending, and it’s a bit slow at about 15 wpm, but it’s amusing, and if it gets people interested in Morse Code, I’m all for it.

After we quit playing around with MorseCode.me, we got on 15m, where we heard ER4DX booming in. I put Ed in front of the microphone, and we worked him. It was like working someone local, and after looking at his QRZ.Com page, you’ll see why. He has a serious antenna farm!

This is the ER4DX antenna farm. No wonder he sounded like a local here.

Sunday 7/6:
Sunday, we had guests over for dinner, but after they left, I headed down to the shack to get on the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club Net. It meets every Sunday at 8pm Eastern time on the 145.23 repeater. You can also check in via W8UM-R on Echolink.

I guess our usual net control, Chris, KA8WFC, was enjoying some holiday festivities, so in his absence I took over as net control. Despite it being a holiday, we had a pretty good turnout, with checkins from KD8OQG, N8PMG, WS8U, W8SRC, WD8DPA, KD8PIJ, WD0BCF, and WA4CJX. Larry, WD0BCF was checking in from Houston, while Bruce, WA4CJX  checked in from Honolulu. Topics of discussion included the 6m opening that day and the upcoming UMARC fox hunt.

After the net, I fired up the HF rig and had some fun on 30m and 40m. I hadn’t been trying to work the Original Thirteen Colonies Special Event this weekend, but nevertheless, I managed to work  K2J, K2C, and K2H in quick succession on 40m CW.

Then, I moved up to 30m. My first contact there was with SN0LOT, a special event station commemorating the flight of two Lithuanian airmen, Steponas Darius and Stasys Gir?nas. They crashed after flying 6,411 kilometers from New York, only 650 km short of their destination, Kaunas. At the time, it was the second longest flight over Atlantic Ocean without landing. 

After that contact, I called CQ and got a reply from W1DIG. How about that? Two QSOs with stations whose callsigns spell words in a row! Not only that, I have neither “LOT” or “DIG” in my collection. That was a great way to end the weekend.

From my Twitter feed: wire splicing, SDR, BCB loop

kd0bik's avatarJerry Taylor @kd0bik
How-To: Splice Wire to NASA Standards fb.me/3BMl1CsL0

 

rtlsdrblog's avatar<b”>rtl-sdr.com @rtlsdrblog
Using and RTL-SDR and RTL_433 to Decode Various Devices rtl-sdr.com/using-rtl-sdr-…

 

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
@AA7EE goes mad scientist with his Tuned Loop for BCB –> aa7ee.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/a-t…

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.

From my Twitter feed: Trash Talk, Android antenna analzyer, Oinker

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
Trash Talk – Trash Talk is a prototype for an inexpensive, mesh-networked, democratic public address system. Each … ow.ly/2Gx8z5

 

RadioGeek's avatarKKØHF @RadioGeek
Amateur radio more Space Age than Digital Age gaining popularity reviewjournal.com/life/recreatio… pic.twitter.com/sNti1HxhXD

 

W2MDW's avatarMatthew Williams @W2MDW
Interesting, and fairly cheap antenna analyzer that has Android support. ebay.com/itm/Sark100-HF…

 

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
Oinker is Twitter for HAMs – Have you ever wanted to send a quick message to your HAM radio buddies over the … ow.ly/2GDOlL

Amateur radio in the news: TV on the Space Station, neighbors clash over tower

Ham video premiers on space station. Astronauts on the International Space Station can now talk with people on Earth with video using simple transmitters. ‘Ham TV’ has been set up in ESA’s Columbus laboratory and already used for talking with ground control.

Ham video premiers on space station

Ham TV equipment. Credit: Kayser Italia

Area amateur radio club hosts annual event. Ham radio operators are, in some ways, silent community servants. That’s because most folks don’t realize the variety of services ham radio operators provide.

The Postie’s role in radio. Most people know something about Amateur Radio even if it is only the slightly misleading impression created in the Radio Ham sketch by Tony Hancock. Despite radio amateurs employing various techniques or modes to contact each other including bouncing signals off the moon, using repeaters linked to the other side of the world via the internet, Morse code etc , the one most people think of, telephony or plain speech. A mode that most lay people would not think of is Teleprinter known to Ham’s as RTTY. If you are old enough you may remember the Saturday afternoon sports results coming into the studio on a ribbon of paper from “the Teleprinter” where text was sent over the telephone lines as a series of changing tones and read live in the studio from a rattling clanking noisy machine that translated these warbling audio tones into text.

Residents, homeowner clash over hobby radio tower in backyard. A battle is brewing in Sheridan Homelands between an amateur hobby radio operator and some of his neighbours over plans to install an antenna and tower on his property.

 

From my Twitter feed: Save the Easter bunny, loop antenna, your own satellite

 

o0ToTOm0o's avatarE22ICQ @o0ToTOm0o
Rescue the Easter Bunny – Ham Radio Fox Hunting for Beginners. youtu.be/tQ8gNHAFXXY fb.me/20HNd9HQh

 

kritikal's avatarAndrew Herron, W8FI@kritikal
Frank’s N4SPP Ham Radio home-built SM0VPO 80 40 20 meters compact spiral loop antenna nonstopsystems.com/radio/frank_ra… via @Delicious

 

UlisK3LU's avatarUlis K3LU @UlisK3LU
Send your own satellite into space for $1000 – smh.com.au/world/science/… via @smh

Station Activities: Paddle repair, Iambic A vs. B, first dipole

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a highly-modified Vibroplex Standard paddle. Apparently, in making the modification, the previous owner had lost one of the trunnion screws and decorative red dots. As you can see in the photo below, the previous owner found a brass screw to use in place of the missing trunnion screw.

While the paddle worked just fine, I wanted to use the correct parts. Fortunately, these parts are still available from Vibroplex, and I purchased them from Vibroplex. Each part cost $5. I can see charging five bucks for the screw, but I think that $5 for the little piece of plastic is a bit much. Not only was it expensive, it doesn’t even match the dot on the other paddle lever.

At any rate, the parts arrived Friday, and it was relatively simple to install the trunnion screw and get it all adjusted and working properly. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the red dot. At the very least, I’m going to complain to Vibroplex about it.

Iambic A vs Iambic B
After getting the paddle back together, I connected it to my WinKeyer and started playing around with it. I was getting some odd behavior, though. It didn’t occur to me at first, but the problem was that the batteries in the keyer were getting weak. Before I figured that out, I’d done a factory reset and tried reprogramming it. Only when all that didn’t work, did it occur to me that the batteries needed replacement.

Even after I’d replaced the batteries, I was getting some odd behavior. When sending CQ or my callsign, I wasn’t getting the final “dah.” After puzzling about this for a while, I figured out that the problem was that I’d programmed the keyer to operate in iambic mode A, and previously I’d been using mode B.

Chuck Olson, WB9KZY, describes the difference between modes A and B in his article, What’s all this iambic keyer mode A and B stuff, anyhow? He says,

The difference between mode A and B lies in what the keyer does when both paddles are released. The mode A keyer completes the element being sent when the paddles are released. The mode B keyer sends an additional element opposite to the one being sent when the paddles are released.

In mode A, to make the K or Q, you actually have to hold the dah lever down until the dah actually starts being sent. Since I’d been operating in mode B, I guess I got a little sloppy about doing so. In mode B, the keyer automatically sends the dah, but in mode A, it doesn’t, and that’s why that last dah would sometimes get dropped whiles sending a K or Q. I now have the keyer programmed to operate in mode B, and everything is working just fine.

A new ham’s first dipole
Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours helping a new ham set up his first dipole. Last weekend, he actually got the dipole up in the air, but when he connected it to the rig, it just wouldn’t load up. After swapping some e-mail about the problem, we decided that it would be best if I came over and had a first-hand look. So, yesterday morning, I threw my box of antenna goodies into my car and headed over there.

Taking my advice, he’d purchased a spool of coax and crimp-on connectors. I didn’t ask him where he’d purchased the crimper, but the first thing I noticed is that his crimps didn’t look right. They were much too tight. He got out his multimeter, and sure enough, the coax was shorted. We cut off one connector and measured again. The coax was still shorted. We cut off the other one and measured both connectors. Both were shorted.

I had brought my crimper and compared mine to his. His crimper had two dies for crimping coax – .213-in. and .255-in. My crimper also has two dies: .213-in. and .235-in. The instructions say to use the .235-in. die for crimping RG-8X connectors. He had used the .213-in. die, which really squeezed the coax. While I can’t actually see the short, my conclusion is that somewhere along the crimp, the shield became shorted to the center conductor, perhaps aided by the heat of soldering the center conductor to the connectors center pin.

Fortunately, he’d bought spare connectors. We put those on, using the .235-in. die on my crimper, buzzed out the cable, and we were in business. We connected the cable to the antenna, connected my antenna analyzer to the other end, and found that the antenna was resonant at 6.9 MHz. After taking about a foot off either end, we pretty much centered the resonant point of the antenna, and as one former president once said, “Mission Accomplished!”

The moral of the story is that you really need to use the right crimper and the right die for crimping coax connectors. My friend certainly had a quality crimper, but didn’t use the right die. He may have been able to use the .255-in die, but I don’t think that would have made a secure enough crimp. .235-in. is just the right size for RG-8X coax.

From my Twitter feed: Edinburgh Morse, hams hear old spacecraft,

G7AGI's avatarDavid De Silva @G7AGI
I’ve just discovered @edinburghmorse. Looking forward to seeing the new web site go live.

exploreplanets's avatarPlanetary Society @exploreplanets
Amateur radio enthusiasts were able to detect the carrier signal of a decades-old NASA spacecraft: planetary.org/blogs/emily-la…

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9vObject of Interest: Aereo’s Tiny Antennas newyorker.com/online/blogs/e… via @NewYorker

M0PZT's avatarCharlie – M0PZT @M0PZT
Blog updated: What Makes A Real Ham? m0pzt.com/?blog #hamradio