21 Things to Do: Subscribe to mailing lists, blogs, and podcasts

21 Things to Do After Getting Your Amateur Radio LicenseWhen you’re just starting out in amateur radio, you want to learn as much as you can about the hobby. One way to do this is to find an Elmer (see chapter 1). In this age of the Internet, another great way to do this is to join ham radio mailing lists and subscribe to ham radio podcasts. These resources give you access to hundreds, if not thousands, of Elmers.

One mailing list that I always suggest to new hams is the HamRadioHelpGroup. The purpose of this group is to help “those who are interested in getting started in Amateur Radio or upgrading their license.” This mailing list has a good mix of beginners and experts, and most questions are answered quickly and correctly. One thing that I really like about this group is that the moderators do a good job of keeping the discussions on track, and will squelch them when they stray off topic or threaten to turn into flame wars.

In addition to the HamRadioHelpGroup, you might also want to join a more targeted mailing list. For example, if you’re interested in learning Morse Code (hint, hint), you might join the SolidCpyCW list. If you just bought a Yaesu FT-60 hand-held transceiver, you might want to join the FT-60 list. Chances are that no matter what your interest, there’s probably a mailing list to discuss that interest.

I’m subscribed to a lot of amateur radio mailing lists and could probably spend most of my day just reading and replying to them. In order to get the most out of them, without them taking away from my on-air time, I only read those threads that I am really interested in, and even then, I quit reading them once they have started to drift off-topic. I also un-subscribe myself from lists that cover topics that I’m no longer interested in.

Blogs, podcasts and videos
In addition to getting on a few mailing lists, you might want to read a few blogs and subscribe to podcasts. These are also great sources of information about amateur radio. I blog about amateur radio at www.kb6nu.com, and lots of hams find it a good source of information. You can find a list of other ham radio blogs that I’d recommend on my home page.

Podcasts are also a good source of information. One podcast that you might want to check out is the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast (www.myamateurradio.com). Since 2008, Jerry, KD0BIK, has been producing PARP, and currently has more than 50 different episodes online. For other podcasts, consult the list on Jerry’s home page.

Finally, there are literally thousands of amateur radio videos on the net. On YouTube alone, there are approximately 32,000 of them. The American Radio Relay League has its own channel, but perhaps the most popular amateur radio video channel is the K7AGE channel. K7AGE has more than 6,200 subscribers and his videos have garnered more than 2.1 million views!

Whatever source or sources of information you select, remember to not let them take up too much of your time. Ham radio is about more than just reading, listening, or watching. It’s about doing!

From trade magazines: GE Transistor Manual, analog circuit design, HF op amp filters

This time, I have two items from EE Times and one from MicroWaves&RF…..Dan


GE Transistor Manual

Master the first 170 pages of the venerable GE Transistor Manual and you'll be a transistor expert.

The GE Transistor Manual. This editorial by Jack Ganssle reminisces about the old GE Transistor Manual. He notes, “It explains transistor theory in a level of detail that my college classes almost a decade later never approached. Read – and understand – the first 170 pages and you’ll be a transistor expert. But no attempt is made to make the subject easy.” One of the comments contains a link that you can use to download your own copy.

Book excerpt: Analog Circuit Design— A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions, Part 1. Based on the Application Notes of Linear Technology, this book covers the fundamentals of linear/analog circuit and system design to guide engineers with their design challenges. It includes a broad range of topics, including power-management tutorials, switching-regulator design, linear-regulator design, data conversion, signal conditioning, and high-frequency/RF design. VERY good stuff.

Fabricating HF Opamp Filters. Until recently, op amp filters have generally been restricted to circuits operating below 1 MHz. Recent advances, though, are enabling op amps to amplify at frequencies up to 1 GHz.This article explains how to use them for lowpass filters to 150 MHz.

21 things to do after you get your ham radio license

This book is now available! You can purchase it from Amazon (Kindle) or Barnes&Noble (Nook). You can also purchase it here on this website. See the links in the right-hand column for more information. The price is $2.99.

I’ve been getting a lot of free Kindle books after I subscribed to a couple of mailing lists published by Free Kindle Books. One of my recent downloads was 21 Ways to Promote Your Book on Twitter. The book was actually pretty good, and it gave me the idea to write a book titled 21 Things to Do After You Get Your Ham Radio License.

So, I started building a list. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. If the list items below are clickable, it means that I’ve already written that chapter. Click on them and enter your comments about that particular item there.

  1. Join a club.
  2. Find an Elmer.
  3. Buy your first radio.
  4. Build a kit.
  5. Set up a shack.
  6. Join the ARRL.
  7. Learn the lingo.
  8. Upgrade to General.
  9. Go to a hamfest.
  10. Build an antenna.
  11. Participate in a contest.
  12. Go to Field Day.
  13. Take a SkyWarn class.
  14. Participate in a fox hunt.
  15. Learn Morse Code.
  16. Buy a DMM.
  17. Buy some QSL cards

Each of these would be a small chapter with an explanation why I think this is important and links to some sites and books for more information.

You see that I’m short a couple of items.  That’s where you come in. What would you add to this list? What would you delete?

Having Fun with Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek out

Having Fun with Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek outI have a new book out!

Having Fun with Ham Radio: Letting my inner geek out is my third book. It’s a collection of some of the popular blog posts written between November 2002 to February 2005. There are four different chapters:

  1. Antennas
  2. Clubs
  3. Operating
  4. Gear and Gadgets

The antenna chapter includes posts about the Slinky Antenna and the J-pole antenna. The clubs chapter includes my post on the ABCs of Good Clubs. The operating chapter includes my post on casual DXing. The gear and gadgets chapter includes a couple of posts on using an antenna analyzer.

All of the posts have been updated. That was actually a lot more work than I thought. Many links I included in those early posts are no longer, so I not only had to  check that they were still valid, but find alternates, if they were not.

It’s only available as an e-book, and it only costs 99 cents! I’ve already sold a couple of copies on Amazon, but none so far on Barnes&Noble. Click on the links below to download it immediately to your e-book reader

Winter 2012 TAPR Journal now online

The TAPR PSR Digital Journal, Winter 2012 edition, is now online (www.tapr.org/psr/psr117.pdf). Contents include:

  • President’s Corner
  • iQuadLabs-TAPR Agreement
  • 2011 DCC Video Online
  • TAPR Directors Elections
  • VK5DGR on Codec 2 at linux.conf.au 2012
  • Doodle Labs DL-435
  • Going to Ohio
  • When Digital Was Mechanical
  • Now on YouTube
  • TAPR-ARRL DCC 2011
  • HPSDR Projects
  • Frequency & Time Related Kits
  • The Great Create
  • My Steve Jobs Story
  • LW and MW DX
  • Join TAPR on Twitter & Facebook
  • Write Here!
  • PSR Advertising Rates
  • Still Fixing a Little TAPR History
  • The Fine Print
  • Our Membership App

Digital QST coming soon

In his last missive to ARRL members in the Great Lakes Division, Jim Weaver, K8JE, reports:

ONE TOPIC MANY members will appreciate is a free, digital version of QST via the Internet.  This version offers the ability to read our membership journal online in a manner quite similar to that in which we read the hard-copy version.  It also offers the ability to include full schematics and other information that sometimes can merely be referenced in the print edition, as well as direct links to items contained in the ads.

Becoming accustomed to the online version may require a little familiarization, but I believe it will become a welcome enhancement to membership.

It is inevitable that two questions regarding digi-QST will arise.  The first is if a member can opt-out of receiving the hard-copy version.  The answer:  yes.  The second question is:  Is there a reduction in dues for members who opt-out of the print version.  The answer to this is no.  The hard-copy version is financed largely by advertisement, not by membership dues.

Digi-QST should be unveiled yet this winter or early spring.

I think this is great, but it sounds to me like we’ll have to read the magazine on-line rather than being able to download a PDF file.  I’ve never really liked these online magazines. Reading them is a real pain, and you often can’t download and archive them. Let’s hope the ARRL thinks about this when they set this up.

Rugged Transistors, Designing Radio Systems

Here are a couple of links to articles in electronics engineering trade magazines that I’ve run across lately that I think are of interest to amateur radio operators:

  • Some new transistors can withstand VWSRs up to 65:1.Gauging Ruggedness In RF Power Transistors. This article, written by editor Jack Browne, who is himself a ham, covers some of the new power transistors on the market. Some of them are capable of withstanding VSWRs on the output of up to 65:1!
  • The Radio Link: A Tutorial. This series of articles is a bit heavy on math for most radio amateurs, but the point of the series is to think of radio communication as a system whose behavior can be predicted. Thinking about how we use radio in this way could help us to become better radio amateurs.

And here’s something entirely out of left field. Scientists have published a paper that shows that random noise can actually make signals clearer. The process is called stochastic resonance, and while the article doesn’t explain the theory in much depths, and I’m not sure that it’s something that’s applicable to radio communication, it seems like it might be something to look into.

73 Magazine Archive Online

511 issues of 73 Magazine are now online. Wayne Green started 73 in 1960 after serving as editor of CQ Magazine for several years. It ceased publication in 2003.

Wayne Green is one of the true characters in ham radio, and indeed, in technical publishing in general. Not only did he publish 73 Magazine, but also started Byte and a slew of other computer hobbyist magazines. These days, he seems to be interested in a variety of what some might call “off the wall” topics, including cold fusion and alternative health care.

The issues of 73 that are in the archives are listed in a seemingly random order. I suspect that this is the order in which they were uploaded to the archive. Even so, just scanning the article titles is fascinating. Here’s a sample:

  • Eager for Meager – Try an 11m vertical on 160 (Dec 2002)
  • How to Build A Great Ham Club (Dec 1997)
  • The Schizophrenic Triangle – a split-personality radiator (Dec 1978)
  • RF Sniffer – Snooper sensitive RF detector which you will build (Dec 1960)

When I first went to download an issue—the December 2002 issue—I was excited to see that a Kindle-compatible .mobi file was available. I was quickly disappointed, however. After downloading and copying the file over to my Kindle, I found that it was nearly unreadable. Whoever converted the file must have used some kind of OCR program, and didn’t do any checking before uploading it. So, stick with the PDF version.

If you do download and read some of the articles, please comment here if you find any that are particularly interesting.

CQ to Launch Digital Editions

CQ Communications, Inc., will launch multi-platform digital editions of all of its magazine titles before the end of 2011, Publisher Richard Ross, K2MGA, announced today. Those titles include CQ Amateur Radio (CQ magazine), CQ VHF, Popular Communications andWorldRadio Online. Many CQ book titles are already available in digital form on CD.

“The digital editions will supplement, not replace, current print editions, and will feature enhancements not possible in the print medium,” said Editorial Director Rich Moseson, W2VU. “Versions will be available for a variety of online and mobile platforms* and will be hosted by Zinio, one of the top names in the e-magazine hosting business. This will assure that our magazines will always be able to take advantage of new technology when it becomes available.”

Examples of features that will be possible in the digital editions include live links to all World Wide Web addresses listed in each issue, as well as supplemental content, such as photo albums, audio and video files, software and more. “Imagine reading an article about meteor scatter and being able to listen to a meteor scatter contact with a click of a mouse,” said Moseson, “or reading an ad for a piece of new gear and being able to click directly to a video explaining its features. All of this and more will be possible in our digital editions.”

“At the same time,” he added, “the print editions will retain their unique characteristics, such as portability, the tactile experience of holding a magazine in your hands, no need for batteries and the ability to continue reading on an airplane after you’ve been told to turn off all electronic devices!”

The digital launch will begin in late October with the November issue of an enhanced, multi-platform, version of WorldRadio Online, which will again become a paid-subscription publication; followed by November CQ, which, appropriately, is the magazine’s first annual Technology Special. The fall issue of CQ VHF and the December issue of Popular Communications will round out the introductions. Digital editions will be available by single copy and by subscription. Details will be in the near future in the magazines and on all CQ Communications websites.

(*Initially, digital editions will be compatible with the following platforms: PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android 2.0 and higher.)

Connect with ARRL and Amateur Radio via Social Media?

This from the latest ARRL Letter. Do any of you follow the ARRL on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter?  What do you get out of it?

ARRL participates on many of the popular social networking sites to share news, photos, events and videos. Check out these sites for communities of ARRL members who share your interests in Amateur Radio. We’ll share everything with you — and you can share with us, too!

Find Us on Facebook

  • www.facebook.com/ARRL.org — With almost 20,000 fans, the ARRL’s Facebook page is the largest Amateur Radio site in social media.
  • www.facebook.com/LogbookOfTheWorld — A nifty way to follow the latest LoTW news. LoTW is an exciting way for radio amateurs to confirm two-way contacts they have made and use the confirmations as credit toward various ARRL awards.

Follow Us on Twitter

  • arrl — Find all of the latest information in the Amateur Radio community with this Amateur Radio newsfeed.
  • ARRL_EMCOMM — Interested in Emergency Communications? Then be sure to follow all the latest EmComm and ARES® happenings.
  • ARRL_PR – Geared toward the ARRL Public Information Coordinators and Pubic Information Officers in the League’s Field Organization, this Twitter feed focuses on public relations and media issues involving Amateur Radio.
  • ARRL_DXCC — The Twitter home of the ARRL’s DXCC awards program.
  • ARRL_Youth — For the young and young-at-heart, this Twitter feed delves into how youth can have fun with Amateur Radio.

Watch Us on YouTube

  • www.youtube.com/ARRLHQ — Catch the latest videos from the ARRL – including monthly Product Reviews and event highlights — on the League’s YouTube channel.

Listen to Us on iTunes

  • www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/aan.rss — Listen and download the latest ARRL news, uploaded as a podcast to iTunes. Click here for instructions on how to subscribe to this weekly feature.