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.

Amateur radio in the news: GA ISS contact (video), ABQ hams reach out

Students at a school in Alpharetta, GA got to talk with a U.S. astronaut in real time via ham radio as he passed over Mill Springs Academy onboard the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Local hams ‘reach out and touch someone’ around the globe. When Larry Elkin of Rio Rancho was going to college in New York, he picked up a radio transmission astronaut John Glenn sent from orbit around Earth. Now, Elkin is president of the High Desert Amateur Radio Club of New Mexico Inc., a local group that aims to educate people about amateur radio operation and is available to help with emergency communication.

101-year-old Bill Finch (W4EHF, SK) was Senior Games competitor, amateur radio enthusiast. Bill Finch was as charmingly timeless as the hobbies he pursued. He was an amateur radio aficionado well into his 90s and an athlete whose prowess in the Senior Games may well stand the test of time.

Bill seems like someone I’d want to know….Dan

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.”

From my Twitter feed: ISS, HackRF, radio merit badge

This is a great story….Dan

hamradiopodcast's avatarHRP @hamradiopodcast
Astronaut talks about his ham radio contacts fb.me/VdbC8Qr8

hlinke's avatarHeiko Linke @hlinke
a revolution in the sdr-world at kickstarter: hackrf, an open source SDR platform: kickstarter.com/projects/mossm…

w0sun's avatarBill WØSUN ?@w0sun
BSA Radio Merit Badge Presentations and Material from K2BSA fb.me/11nJ7RKQM

Amateur radio in the news: reaching out to kids, ILLW, Lancaster Count Fair

 

The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

Owensboro ARC reaches out to younger audience. The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club  hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts. “We are trying to get younger folks interested,” Walt Shipman, KI4OYH, said Thursday. “It’s where it starts.”

I like this idea! It might be something we can do down at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum….Dan

Lighthouse to go international. Radio operators from around the world will be including the Oak Orchard Lighthouse (NY) in International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, Aug. 17 and 18. It is the first time the lighthouse is participating in the event fully.

Keeping an eye on the sky. If you go to the Lancaster County (NE) Super Fair, you’ll probably see guys in golf carts and green jackets offering rides to those in need. Those guys are members of the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club. Members of the club are also trained storm spotters — many involved in the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and they know exactly what to do if severe weather hits.

 

Operating notes: public service, helping people have fun with amateur radio

Bicycle TourThis past weekend was a big weekend here at KB6NU. On Saturday, I and more than a dozen of my ham radio brethren provided communications for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society’s One Helluva Ride. There were close to 2,000 riders, and our efforts helped keeped the ride running smoothly.

Of course, it helped that the weather was just perfect. It was sunny and the high temperature for the day was in the low 80s. That helped keep the number of flat tires and exhausted riders to a minimum.

Even so, kudos to Jeff, W8SGZ, the ARROW organizer for the event. He did a great job of organizing the event.

An old friend on the repeater
Yesterday, while walking down to the museum,  I happened to catch an old friend, Chuck, K8HBI, on the ARROW repeater. I hadn’t heard Chuck on the air for quite a while, and I didn’t recognize him at first, partly because he’d changed callsigns. K8HBI used to be his father’s callsign. Chuck was K9HBI.

I don’t know if his father has passed or just let his license expire (although I suspect the former), but Chuck now has his dad’s callsign. Since I talked with him last, Chuck has retired, and now has more time for amateur radio. I was happy to offer my assistance in getting him back on the air.

As we were talking, Chuck happened to mention that his daughter had gotten a tattoo with both callsigns in honor of her father and grandfather. I suggested to Chuck that now his daughter should get her license and then the K9HBI callsign.

New friends
At the museum, I met what I hope will be a new friend – eleven year-old Alex. His mother had e-mailed me, saying that her son had expressed some interest in amateur radio and could they come down to the museum to see our station. Of course, I replied!

Alex and his mother stayed for over an hour. He asked me to make a CW contact, and he seemed at least somewhat interested in learning the code. We also made a phone contact, and he had fun chatting with Bob, N2AF, in New Jersey.

As they were about to leave, his mother leaned over and said to me, “Thanks so much. He rarely sits still for so long. He really must be interested in amateur radio.”

On the way home, I met another new friend on the ARROW repeater. After giving out a call, Fred, WA8LJL, came back to me. Fred’s not a newbie, but he said that he has been off the air for a while. He just purchased a new handheld and was in the process of programming its channels when he heard my call. I was his first contact in many years.

All of this was very enjoyable for me. While I certainly do enjoy the technology, I enjoy helping other people get into the hobby and get more out of the hobby even more.

Putting up another antenna

When I got home from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on Saturday, I called up my friend Mark, W8MP. I wanted to tell him about my contact with OG3077F, a Finn who has successfully worked all 3,077 U.S. counties. As it turned out, Mark has worked him several times. I should have suspected this. Mark seems to know everyone.

As we continued our conversation, he mentioned that one of his son’s friends had put up an antenna and that they were going over there to help him tune it up that afternoon, and he asked if I’d like to join them. Mark’s son, Brian, is KD8EEH, and his friend, Alec, is KD8RGP. To be honest, I was a little hesitant. I was kind of tired after walking home from the museum, but Mark twisted my arm a little, so I agreed to head over there.

On the phone, Mark suggested that I might want to bring over some coax and some other kinds of antenna-making stuff, so that if we needed to make modifications, we’d have the wherewithal to do it. So, I loaded my crate of antenna parts, my toolbox, my 100-ft. tape measure, and a spool of coax into my Mini.

When I got there, I found that Alec was way ahead of us. He actually had already set up a 20m dipole. One end was suspended from an old, now unused power pole at the back of Alec’s backyard. The other was suspended by a rope draped over a downspout.

The construction was actually quite ingenious. For the center insulator, Alec had drilled some holes in a small block of wood that provided both strain relief for the wires and a way to mount an SO-239 connector. I wish I’d taken a picture of it. The end insulators were made from some scrap plastic.

The Budwig HQ-1 center insulator is a great way to build a dipole

The Budwig HQ-1 center insulator is a great way to build a dipole

Ingenious though it was, I suggested that we might wan to rebuild the antenna with an HQ-1 center insulator (right) to make it more reliable. While we were at it, I also suggested that we use a set of HQ-2 insulators for the ends. Mark got the boys working on disassembling the current antenna and rebuilding it with the new insulators, and in a short time, it was back up in the air.

Because Alec had already routed the coax down to the basement, we all tromped down there to see how well it tuned. Yipes! It looked to be way long. So, we lowered it, shortened each side by six inches and tromped back down stairs. We were closer this time, but it still needed to be shorter, especially since we were tuning this for the phone portion of the band. We shortened it by another six inches, and bingo, this time we got a nice dip right around 14.25 MHz.

Flush with success, someone suggested that we might want to add 40m elements to the dipole. This sounded like a good idea to me, and I told them about the 30m/40m dipole that I have. After a little discussion about whether to use feet or meters to calculate antenna length (we decided on inches as my tape measure is ruled in feet and inches), Alec started scrounging around for some wire.

At first this looked like it was going to be a problem. There was one 28-ft. length, and a couple of other odd lengths, but it wasn’t clear that we were going to be able to make two, 33.5-ft. lengths from the pieces we had. We finally did figure it out, though, and the antenna was lowered, and Alec attached these elements to the center insulator.

As it turned out, there were some convenient supports for these elements that allowed this dipole to be oriented nearly perpendicular to the 20m dipole. On one end, the boys used a tree, and at the other end, the wire was draped over another a downspout on the opposite side of the house.

We again tromped downstairs to check the resonance. Again, we were quite long. We lowered the antenna and shortened it by six inches on each end, then measured again. This time, the resonant point was just below 7 MHz. This time, we shortened the antenna by nine inches on each side, and the resonant point was just about in the middle of the General Class portion of the 40m phone band.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we told Alec to get on the radio and see if we could make any contacts. Tuning around, Alec found a few stations working the Missouri QSO Party. He called a couple of them, and worked them on the first call.

At that, we called our efforts a success, and went upstairs to eat some take-out curry that Alec’s parents had gotten for us. Over dinner, we all patted ourselves on the back. I’m sure that Alec is in for a lot of fun on 20m and 40m.

From my Twitter feed: scholarships, testing power supplies, MT63

Lots of cool things in my Twitter feed this morning…….Dan

k9hi
Apr. 15 deadline is fast approaching for FAR scholarship applications. Seehttp://t.co/8eCHFvTM1x #hamr

dangerousproto
How to measure stability when testing power supplies http://t.co/WkzW6ZXMKD

hamradiopodcast
VOA Radiogram features MT63http://t.co/gslMp6qukr

On the air this weekend at WA2HOM

WA2HOM is our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. I go down there nearly every weekend and operate for anywhere from two to eight hours. This weekend, I had a lot of fun down there.

This photo, from the Boy Scouts of America website, shows one Cub Scout sending code to another.

Late last week, I was contacted by a woman who was a Cub Scout pack leader, asking if she could bring some Scouts by. Silly question. Of course, she could! We arranged to meet around 1:45 on Saturday. Well, right on time, she arrived with three Cub Scouts in tow.

Fortunately, I had just made contact with Jim, K0JIM, and he had a really solid signal here in Ann Arbor. That’s important because it’s sometimes difficult for inexperienced operators to hear a weak signal or one that’s accompanied by a lot of noise. When signals are weak or hard to copy for any reason, the kids get frustrated.

We were doubly fortunate in that Jim was just great with the kids. He asked each their name and got them to tell him a little bit about themselves. And, none of the kids were mike-shy, so it was a good experience for everyone involved. In addition to having them talk on the air, I took them over to our Morse Code display and showed them how to send their names in Morse Code.

I really hadn’t planned to go down on Sunday, but after doing some things around the house, I decided to zip down there about 2:30 pm to check into the Rotarians on Amateur Radio net. It’s so much easier to do from down at the museum because of the beam antenna. I didn’t hear a peep on the net frequency (14287 kHz) at either 3 pm or 4 pm (2000Z, which is the time listed on the ROAR website), though, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

When I’m at the museum, I’m usually also tweeting. (I’m @kb6nu on Twitter.) I tweeted that 20m sounded kind of quiet, and got a reply from @hamradioireland, EI2KC, suggesting that we give it a try. After agreeing on a frequency, I pointed the beam northeast and gave him a call. Unfortunately, the propagation didn’t cooperate, and we could barely hear one another. Even so, it was still pretty cool using Twitter to arrange a DX QSO.

Tuning around after my short QSO with EI2KC, I found a couple of interesting nets. The first was the Collins Collectors Association Net on 14263 kHz. I could really only hear the net control station, but it sounded as though everyone checking in was running some kind of Collins gear. It was interesting to listen to, but not being a Collins operator, I didn’t check in.

Around 4 pm, I started looking for the ROAR net again. I never did find that net, but I did find the Heathkit Net on 14293 kHz. According to the Web page Heathkit Resources, the net starts at 2030Z, but I’m guessing that it really started at 1930Z.

Since I have a bunch of Heathkits—several that I still use regularly—I did check into this net. They’re a great group of guys, and I will definitely be checking into this net again. Who knows? It may even spur me to get my HW-101 back on the air.

Minutes of the January 2013 ARRL Board Meeting

ARRLThe annual meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors was held January 18-19, 2013 in New Orleans, and the minutes of the meeting were recently published. You can download and read the entire minutes yourself, but here are a few items that I found particular interesting:

  • #16. Mr. Kramer presented the report of the Chief Operating Officer. Finding appropriate ways to support the growth and activities of ARRL-affiliated clubs was an issue highlighted during discussion of the report. As chairman of the Programs and Services Committee, Mr. Norris advised the Board that the committee has established a subcommittee to address the issue.
  • #21. Mr. Carlson, as chairman, presented the report of the EMC Committee and entertained questions. There was a discussion of how to stimulate electric utilities to resolve cases of power line interference to amateur stations.
  • #25. The board adopted seven legislative objectives for the 113th Congress. To read them all, download the minutes, but in addition to the usual items such as, keeping and defending our frequencies, #6 aims at ensuring that two-way radio communications be exempt from distracted driver laws, and #7 supports legislation authorizing the FCC to appoint an electrical engineer to their staffs to provide technical expertise.
  • #28. The ARRL has created “the ARRL Amateur Radio Service to Scouting Award, to be administered consistent with the Community Organization Award program of BSA.”
  • #32 The board will appoint an ad hoc committee to look into the recent Logbook of the World problems and provide some recommendations at the July 2013 meeting.
  • #37. Lucy Ann Lance, a local broadcaster here in Ann Arbor, MI was awarded the “Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award, developed to honor professional journalists whose outstanding work best reflects the enjoyment, importance and public service value of the Amateur Radio Service.”

As I was club president here in Ann Arbor for several years, and for several years served as the Michigan Section Affiliated Club Coordinator, I’m especially interested in #16. I’ve e-mailed my director and vice-director to get their takes on it, and I would encourage all of you to do likewise for any of the items that are of interest to you.