Michigan PRB-1 law update: action needed

This just in from our Section Manager….Dan 

Here is an important update from our State Government Liaison, Ed Hude, WA8QJE on the status of the PRB-1 project here in Michigan.

On September 17, 2013, Senators Rick Jones and David Robinson introduced Senate Bill Number 493.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Technology. Currently, Senate Bill 493 has not been acted upon and is still in the Committee on Energy and Technology.

This is where I need your help. I am asking that each and every one of you contact the Committee Chair, Mike Nofs and the Committee Members to encourage them to take action on this bill. The best way for this to happen is by sending an email message to Senator Nofs and to the members of the Energy and Technology Committee.

The following is a suggestion as to what to include in your message. If you deviate from this message, please be respectful and communicate in a professional tone. Here are the email addresses to use and instructions on how to get your message to the Senators of the committee.


Please be sure to carbon copy or “cc:” both myself (wa8qje@arrl.net) and our Section Manager Larry Camp, WB8R (wb8r@arrl.org).

You do not need to be a licensed operator to send this message.  Even your spouse can send a message. (Just be sure to not place a call sign in the signature if he/she is not an amateur.) Let’s work together and get this moving forward!!! Thank you.





Senator ___________,

I am asking that you please give consideration to scheduling SB 0493 for review and passage within the Committee of Energy and Technology. Senate Bill 0493 if passed will recognize the Federal Communications Commission pre-emption of PRB-1. This will help all licensed Amateur Radio Operators across the State of Michigan, especially in the times of needed emergency communications.  Your assistance as well as that of the Committee members is urgently needed.


(Name) (Call sign)
(Email Address)

From my Twitter feed: Towers, Zen, CW recognition

caspencer's avatarcaspencer @caspencer
for some reason lately I’ve had this fascination with towers (of the RF and/or power variety) youtube.com/watch?v=9b9Lah… youtube.com/watch?v=7Jm8fk…

Now, those are some towers!


ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
ZEN AND THE ART OF RADIOTELEGRAPHY – free download qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/ind…


LA3ZA's avatarSverre Holm, LA3ZA @LA3ZA
Studies on Morse code recognition . – A low pitch frequency is beneficial la3za.blogspot.no/2013/10/studie

From my Twitter feed: attic fan dipole, ADIF 3.0.4, ARRL Centennial


MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
Attic Dipoles g0kya.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/multi-… similar to what I use here with surprising results #hamr

This is an interesting twist on the fan dipole.


colinbutler's avatarColin Butler @colinbutler
Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF) Standard 3.0.4 released – ow.ly/of2gL #ham #hamr #amateurr

One Tweeter commented that they should have just used JSON. That might be a good idea for the future.


RigolHam's avatar

Steve Barfield @RigolHam\
* Share Your Knowledge at the ARRL Centennial Convention! | @arrl amateur radio goo.gl/FXfDxb
I was actually thinking of attending the Centennial celebration. Maybe I’ll propose a talk on the one-day Tech class.

Hams oppose tower project

A recent article, “Radio towers spark high wattage opposition,” in the online edition of All Point Bulletin, the community newspaper of Point Roberts, WA, caught my eye. At issue is the construction of five, 150-ft. AM radio towers. According to the article, “The antennas will produce a broadcasting signal for KPRI Ferndale 1550 AM which bills itself as ‘your number 1 South Asian voice.’ The company currently broadcasts at 50,000 watts during the day and 10,000 watts at night.”

Towards the bottom of the article, this paragraph appears:

Ham radio operator Steve Wolff told the crowd that Point Roberts’ ham radio club members were unanimous in their opposition to the towers. Citing an objection filed with the FCC, he recounted how one ham radio operator in Ferndale had received burns from the radio energy captured by his radio tower from the KRPI broadcasts.

First, I find it quite ironic that amateur radio operators would actually oppose a tower-construction project. Second, I’ve never heard of anyone getting RF burns from his tower from a broadcast signal. Seriously, how close would the amateur radio tower have to be to the broadcast tower to capture enough power to cause an RF burn?

Amateur radio in the news: students earn licenses, tower exemptions, making friends

Petal teacher helps students earn amateur radio licenses. Petal High School Information Technology teacher Brad Amacker helped his students earn amateur radio licenses thanks to a grant he received during the 2012-13 school year. Amacker received the Mississippi Professional Educators Classroom Grant Award. He was recognized for this award at the August 13th school board meeting.

City supports exemptions for towers used by amateur radio operators. Garry Schwartz says his 19-metre amateur radio tower has been up for so long, most people don’t notice it unless he decorates it for Christmas. Schwartz, president of the Saskatoon Amateur Radio Club, is happy that the city seems prepared to relax restrictions for amateur radio towers despite more restrictive rules pending for new commercial antenna towers. “I’m pleased with the results,” Schwartz said Tuesday after a meeting of the city’s planning and operations committee. Schwartz said his antenna has been in place for 40 years.

Making friends a world away. Marilynn Jordan was the guest speaker at the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club’s morning program on July 25, and she spoke to members about how easy it is today to enjoy the amateur radio hobby. “It’s really a lot of fun,” she said. “I’ve spoken to radio operators in Greenland, Finland and all over South America. Everyone speaks English, so it’s very easy for us to talk with other ham radio operators.”

Operating notes: vacation, building a copper-pipe J-pole

Last weekend, I went “up north,” as we say here in Michigan. What that means is that we drive up to northern lower Michigan and spend a couple of days on a lake. Normally, I’d take my KX-1, throw an antenna  up in the trees, and operate QRP.

This year, however, I opted not to take my stuff. Instead, I chose to work on my upcoming book, The No-Nonsense Guide to Amateur Radio. I made some good progress on the book, which will be a combination of Ham Radio for Dummies, AC6V’s DXing 101, and the ARRL Operating Manual, with my twist on things.

A Petoskey stone, the state stone of Michigan, is a fossil colonial coral. These  corals lived in warm shallow seas that covered Michigan  during Devonian time, some 350 million years ago.

A Petoskey stone, the state stone of Michigan, is a fossil colonial coral. These corals lived in warm shallow seas that covered Michigan during Devonian time, some 350 million years ago.

When I wasn’t working on the book, I was in no particular order:

  • looking for Petoskey stones, the state stone of Michigan, on the beaches of Grand Traverse Bay,
  • organizing the more than 300 books I had on my Kindle,
  • playing different board games and card games with my sisters and their kids,
  • cooking and eating and eating and eating.

I had a blast, except on Saturday. Saturday was cold and blustery, and the high winds at night forced the people running the Elk Rapids Harbor Days festival to cancel the fireworks show. I was also looking forward to a BBQ chicken dinner by the Elk Rapids Rotary Club, but by the time I got there at 5:30 pm, they’d run out of chicken. I had to settle for a Lions Club bratwurst instead.

Building a copper-pipe J-pole
A couple weeks ago, I was talking to one of my recent students, Prem, KD8SRV, and we got to talking about how to increase the range of his HT. I don’t remember exactly the entire course of the discussion, but he decided to build a copper-pipe J-pole. He purchased all of the materials for the antenna and came over to my house yesterday to build it.

We used the instructions on the website of the Colorado Douglas and Elbert County ARES group.

Cutting the pipe proved to be the first challenge. Prem had previously tried to cut the pipe with a Dremel tool, but as you can imagine, the cut was uneven and not all that easy to make. I have a pipe cutter, which made a better cut, but it wasn’t a very expensive tool, and it proved to not be very sharp, but with a little elbow grease, Prem was able to make all the necessary cuts.

Next, was soldering the pipes together. Prem had purchase a propane torch, flux, and solder. This was his first attempt at soldering copper pipe, and let’s just say that the first solder joint was perhaps a little marginal. He improved as he went along though.

Finally, we had to decided how to attach the coax to the pipes. The plans showed drilling a hole in the stub and mounting a BNC connector there. I didn’t like that arrangement, so I attached some wires to an SO-239, and we soldered those to the pipes with my 100W soldering iron.

That worked OK, but we still need to find a better solution. One that holds the SO-239 more securely. I just Googled a bit and found a better mounting scheme on the “Zombie Squad” website of all places. If you’re reading this, Prem, take a look at how they did it.

After connecting the wires, we propped up the antenna in my basement and connected the antenna to my 2m rig. The SWR was just under 2.0:1 on 144.63 MHZ and about 1.5:1 on 146.36 MHz. That’s not too bad, and should be better once the antenna is outside and in the clear.

This was an interesting project. I’ve made many 450-ohm ladder line J-poles, but this was my first copper-pipe antenna. It takes practice to solder the pipes correctly, especially with  lead-free solder.

Why do my antenna tuner settings change over time?

Yesterday, a ham wrote to me:

I’ve been a ham since I was a young teen in 1965, but only recently became active again, in retirement. I know you are an antenna guru, so I thought I’d run a question by you, if you don’t mind.

I have a couple of new G5RV’s made by W8AMZ, one for 80-10 and another for 40-10, polarized in opposite directions, up 55 and 45 feet in different parts of my city lot here in Ann Arbor. The rig is a Icom 751A and I’m using a Daiwa CL-680 antenna tuner.

I’m able to get close to a 1.0 swr on most bands on both antennas, after jockeying the capacitance and inductance settings (after first listening for peak signal strength). It’s a bit of an annoying process, as the low SWR setting I get in low power will vary as I increase the output to full power, and being slightly off will result in a high SWR.

My question for you is why the settings for a minimum SWR on the antenna tuner for either antenna vary more than slightly from day to day, rather than remaining fixed? As I understand it, the tuner’s function is to make the impedance between the tuner and the rig look like 50 ohms, despite the fact that the transmission line to the antenna has a section of 450 ohm ladder line, a balun and 52 ohm coax feeding it (both > 90 feet). Seems like that shouldn’t be much of a moving target.

I opened the Daiwa tuner and both variable capacitor plates are consistently 1/2 meshed at the “5” reading (on a scale of 10) and the knobs are on solid, so it isn’t a matter of the capacitance scales being inaccurate/varying.. Even the best setting on the inductor (which has 18 settings) will vary +/- a setting over the course of a month. Can you explain or point me to a reference that would explain why, for a given frequency, the capacitance/inductance required for the lowest SWR would vary over time?  Thanks.

I replied:

Actually, I’m not an antenna guru at all, nor do I have any experience with G5RV antennas, but I’ll take a swipe at answering this.

Several things could cause the impedance of an antenna system to vary:

  1. The antenna system itself. If the connections are not solid, the impedance could vary. Another thing that could cause the impedance to vary is whether or not the antenna is wet. Also, make sure that the connection between the coax and the ladder line is sealed. If water gets in there, then weird thing might happen.
  2. The metal objects near the antenna. If the ladder line comes close to metal objects, then that could affect the antenna impedance.

Having said all that, I’m not a big fan of G5RV antennas. The original design was not meant to be a multi-band antenna. That bit of ladder line is actually supposed to be a tuning stub to transform the impedance of the doublet to 50 ohms on 20m. SWR on the other bands could be quite high, and that could make the coax very lossy on the other bands. If I were you, I’d either get more ladder line and run that directly into the tuner, or ditch the G5RVs entirely and build some fan dipoles. Fan dipoles are dipole antennas with elements for each of the bands that you wish to operate.

I also said that I’d post his question to my blog. I’m sure that some of you will have other and better ideas about his conundrum.

From my Twitter feed: lighting safety, 40m Moxon, diy lead bender

KI4OZG's avatarTracy A Stephens@KI4OZG
Lightning Safety Week: June 23-29, 2013 “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” lightningsafety.noaa.gov/index.htm #hamradio #fieldday

This is a little late, but better late than never…….Dan


stahlbrandt's avatarBo G. Stahlbrandt @stahlbrandt
This looks interesting, a 40m Mini-MOXON Beam Antenna by W7XA via @dxzone bit.ly/10EI1T6 #hamr #hamradio


DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering<
Electronic Component Lead Bending Tool – When assembling a circuit it is pretty common to hook up a resistor or ot… ow.ly/2xBzM7

I still have a lead bender I got from making a Heathkit many moons ago…..Dan

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.http://t.co/bdlzFMKVKU #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 http://t.co/niN6lzHAUO


Are more HF allocations in our future?

IARU announces WRC-15 positionshttp://t.co/jFofmX02FF #hamradio


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.