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.

Invite a kid to Field Day

Field Day is still six weeks away, but I want you to think about inviting a kid to Field Day this year. Instead of just complaining that kids aren’t interested in amateur radio anymore, do something about it.

Invite them to help you set up antennas.

Show them how you power the rigs with a generator, or even cooler, by charging a battery with a solar panel.

Let them sit in front of the rig, show them how to make contacts, and log for them. To make it easier for them, make up a cheat sheet with the callsign spelled out phonetically and the exchange, also spelled out phonetically.

Let them operate for as long as they’re interested. When they’re done, thank them on contributing to your club’s total score.

Answer every single one of their questions.

This may not win them over immediately, but I can assure you that it will make an impression on them. To increase your chances of success, find a kid that’s already technically inclined. Invite a bunch of them from the high school’s robotics team, for example.

If you don’t have any plans for Field Day, then make some. Then, go find that kid. If you don’t, then you don’t have any right to complain that there are no kids in ham radio.

Amateur radio in the news: School Club Roundup, Berkeley ARC turns 100, Morse Code wall

For Two Rivers School students, amateur transmission brings a window on a wider world. Two Rivers School in North Bend (WA) became a ham radio station for a day, Feb. 12 during the nationwide School Club Roundup event. Middle school teacher Joe Burgener, with assistance and equipment from parent volunteer Stephen Kangas, introduced students to the world of amateur radio, from the science of radio waves, to the regulations for amateur operators, to the hands-on work of hanging antennae, and finally, to the actual operation of the radio equipment. Students spoke with several operators in California and one at the North Pole during the day.

Students at Two Rivers School in North Bend, WA participate in the School Club Roundup.

UC Berkeley Radio Club going strong at 100The Bay Area might be a hotbed of high technology, but low technology has its fans, too. Just ask the UC Berkeley Amateur Radio Club. It’s been around 100 years, and its members don’t mind a little dust and rust on their tech. “I think the old equipment is really cool and retro,” says club member and electrical-engineering major Andy Hu. “I’m still fascinated by the profundity that an electrical signal can leave the radio in front of me, travel up a wire to an antenna outside, and someone halfway around the world with an antenna outside connected to their radio can hear my voice and talk with me,” says club member Bill Mitchell, a chemistry graduate student.
Union Station Wall Represents Song Lyrics in Morse Code. An interesting-looking bumpy, yellow structure inside Union Station in D.C. represents a lot more than the naked eye might notice. As it turns out, the bumps are morse code representations of the lyrics from Death Cab for Cutie tune “Soul Meets Body.”
 

Amateur radio in the news: HS ham club, hamfest (rally) in Harwell

Brad’s Beat: Joplin High School Ham Radio ClubStudents at Joplin High School are embracing a technology more than 100 years old. More than 20 students have enrolled in the Ham Radio Club. They’re all studying how to get their license to broadcast. Their teacher is Richard Banks, who has been broadcasting (sic) for more than 25 years. He says many students tend to embrace technology, even if it’s a bit older. The students say talking on ham radio is a lost art of communication, which is better than texting. 

Headwaters Amateur Radio Club makes air waves. Technology is a great thing, but of course, sometimes it can have its flaws. For instance, what if your car breaks down, but you can’t call a tow truck because there is no cell phone service? What if a large storm knocks out all power and there are people who need help? The solution to the problem, and many other communication related issues, is an easy one, and one that may not be on the top of everyone’s minds: amateur radios.

Radio hams put faces to voices at electronics rally (that’s what they call a hamfest in the UK). More than 500 radio fans better used to speaking to each other over the airwaves met face-to-face in Didcot. The radio enthusiasts from all over the UK gathered at Didcot Leisure Centre in Mereland Road for an amateur radio and electronics rally on Sunday.

Amateur radio in the news: Hong Kong, Wales, young hams, and more

Lots of ham radio items in the news lately, so this post is longer than usual….Dan

hong-kong-amateurs

Hong Kong’s ham radio enthusiasts lend a helping hand. More than just a hobby and a way to socialise, amateur radio provides vital communications to ensure the safe running of Hong Kong’s charity events.

Gwent radio hams ready to help in emergency. They are helping to guard the public in the event of a disaster, but you may not have even heard of them. Gwent’s RAYNET group – a bunch of licensed amateur radio enthusiasts who help the emergency services in the event of a communications meltdown – is part of a national organisation celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Lake amateur radio operator gets top marks. Lake County amateur radio operators, often called hams, brought home the bacon in a national Field Day event held earlier this year, it was announced Thursday.

young-hamsYoung hams make the grade.  Surrounded by radio gear, Gene Clark sat in his chair and listened intently as his two sixth grade proteges were interviewed by a reporter recently. Dalton Duggers, 11, and Jordan Sirmans, 12, recently earned their radio technician’s licenses, making them two of the youngest licensed ham radio operators in Georgia. The two friends are are members of the Albany Amateur Radio Club (AARC) and are in the Gifted Program at Merry Acres Middle School.

Okanogan Amateur Radio Club recognizes first concrete pouring at Grand Coulee Dam. Dec. 6th, 1935, was the first “ceremonious pour” of concrete at Grand Coulee Dam. It was the first of a total of 12 million yards, which is enough to pour a sidewalk around the world at the equator twice. The Okanogan County Amateur Radio Club W7ORC sponsored a special event to celebrate the anniversary of the that pouring. Club members used their home radio stations, commonly referred to as “HAM SHACKS,” starting at 4 p.m. Dec 6, and ended at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec 8.

Family saved by ham radio and Good Samaritan after car accident. On a cold, bitter night earlier this month, the actions of a Good Samaritan and a ham radio probably saved the lives of a family. It began at about 7 p.m. Dec. 6 when Cody Fowler and his wife, Tina, and their two sons, Jacob and Timmy, were on their way home from Pueblo. Because of the bitter cold temperatures and the icy roads, Cody turned around and drove back down the road, where he discovered that a red SUV had slid off into a ditch. The five people in the car had climbed back onto the road….

Take a break from DXing and contests with these two operating events

I'll be using a Bunnel #9 key like this one on Straight Key Night.

I’ll be using a Bunnel #9 key like this one on Straight Key Night.

There are two operating events coming up in the next couple of weeks that I’d like to suggest that you participate in – Straight Key Night (January 1) and Kid’s Day (January 5). Straight Key Night, or SKN, runs from 0000Z – 2359Z on January 1. First started to promote the use of straight keys, its charter has been expanded to include the use of bugs and vintage radio gear.

As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of straight keys, but in the spirit of the day, I’ll be using one on January 1, probably my Bunnel Nr. 9, shown at right. When I purchased it, it did not have a knob, but thanks to the machining skills of Lake, AL7N, it’s now back in service. There’s not much on the Internet about this key, but the Bunnell Company history page notes that the #9 key was made by several different companies.

I like using it more than any other straight key that I own. It has a nice light feel to it.

Kid’s Day
The winter version of Kids Day, sponsored by the ARRL and The Boring (Oregon) Amateur Radio Club (which, oddly enough, doesn’t seem to have a website), will be Sunday, January 5, from 1800 to 2359 UTC. The suggested HF frequencies are 28.350 to 28.400 MHz, 24.960 to 24.980 MHz, 21.360 to 21.400 MHz, 18.140 to 18.145 MHz, 14.270 to 14.300 MHz, 7.270 to 7.290 MHz, and 3.740 to 3.940 MHz. Of course, you can operate the repeaters or even EchoLink, whatever it takes to give kids a taste of amateur radio.

I will, of course, be operating this event from WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. We’ll probably operate mostly on 20m phone, but you can look for us via EchoLink, too, via W8UM-R, the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club’s repeater.

We’d be happy to set up a sked with you, if you’d like. E-mail me and we can arrange this. Unfortunately, we will only be operating until 2200Z, as that’s when the museum closes.

New video touts amateur radio

Yesterday, I received kind of an odd e-mail from a group calling itself the World Genesis Foundation. It asked if I would “share the news about a new educational video about Amateur Radio.” Here’s the video:

To be honest, I didn’t watch all 32 minutes, but it seems like a decent video, if a bit “new-age-y,” and it’s aimed at attracting young people into the hobby.

I’m more intrigued by the sponsor of the video, the World Genesis Foundation. It has a very fancy website, but not a lot of substance. It touts some kind of relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but isn’t specific about that relationship. On their home page, they list three “highlighted projects,” but the link to the very first one is broken.

I guess I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, though. The video, and the accompanying website, RadioQRV.Com, could help attract more young people into amateur radio, and that could be a good thing.

December is Youth on the Air (YOTA) Month

This is from the Southgate Amateur Radio News. I’m trying to arrange a sked with one or more of them with our station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, WA2HOM…Dan

Youth on the Air (YOTA)After the success of the Youngsters On The Air events in the summer, we decided that it’s time to do some more action! During the whole month of December several countries will become active with YOTA as suffix in the callsign.

The idea for this is to break the ice for some youngsters and take the microphone in the hand.  As seen over the years the YOTA-group is growing fast and every week more youngsters are asking to participate.

You want to hear us on the air?  Listen for Youngsters On The Air callsigns in the whole month of December! At least 17 stations from 14 countries with young HAM’s will be active. We would be happy if you try to work one or more of the following callsigns:

EA7URA/YOTA
EI0YOTA
ES5YOTA
ES9YOTA
LY5YOTA
OH2YOTA
OK2YOTA
OM9YOTA
OM13YOTA
ON4YOTA
PA6YOTA
S513YOTA
SN0YOTA
SH9YOTA
YO0YOTA
YL13YOTA
YL2013YOTA

A special Youngsters On The Air Award is available.

Lisa Leenders PA2LS
IARU Region 1 Youth Coordinator

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.

Ham radio in the news: Nobel prize winner, social media (old school), JOTA

Laid groundwork for cholesterol drugs – From ham radios to Nobel Prize for local scientist. A Nobel Laureate recently spoke about “How to win a Nobel Prize” on Sept. 11 at Chestnut Hill College’s 20th anniversary of its Biomedical Lecture Series. Dr. Michael S. Brown, 72, who grew up in Elkins Park, said an amateur radio operating license obtained at the age of 13, while a student at Thomas Williams Junior High School in Wyncote, sparked his passion for science.

Ham radio: it’s social media old school style. Long ago, before Facebook, Twitter and email, ham radio operators were the original social media geeks. And they’re still out there, in greater numbers than ever, chatting and messaging each other all over the world without an Internet connection or even a telephone line.

Scouts learn technology through radio. Local boy and girl scouts came from all over the Southern Tier and beyond to learn about technology at the Kopernik Observatory. Jamboree on the Air taught scouts how to communicate with each other using amateur radios on Saturday. Scouts learned how to send and receive digital pictures and even spoke with other scouts as far away as Florida.