Amateur Radio in the News: Michigan, Kansas, Colorado

Central Middle School radio club students work on projects
The future of amateur radio in Midland was in room 127 of Central Middle School on Wednesday afternoon.Bill Albe brought kits to build the FET crystal radios he designed, along with tools sure to excite middle schoolers — drills, solder, means to measure electrical resistance across their bodies — plus ample adult supervision.

I’m trying to find out more about this project so that I can do something similar at the Hands-On Museum….Dan

Back to the Future — amateur radio enthusiasts bring transmitter back to life
The wait – four weeks short term and 40 years and counting long term – was well worth it when the 75-year-old transmitter built by amateur radio pioneer Marshall Ensor was reactivated Saturday evening at Ensor Park and Museum south of Olathe.

Ham radio alive and well in Boulder County
This is a nice profile of the Boulder Amateur Radio Club (BARC). BARC Juniors is a program of the club, which encourages kids to get involved in amateur radio. Great club, great program.

Operating Notes – 11/1/12

ICOM/Kenwood Power ConnectorJunk, continued. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the importance of junk in amateur radio. Well, here’s another example.
Last week, my friend, Ralph, AA8RK, acquired a used TS-850. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a power cable, so he sent a message to our club e-mail list asking if anyone had a cable he could buy from them. It struck me that while I didn’t have a cable that I wanted to sell him, I did have all the parts needed to make one. For some reason a year or so ago, I happened to purchase the Molex connector at a hamfest, and at Dayton this year, I purchased more 12-ga., two-conductor wire and a big bag of PowerPole connectors.
Ralph came over Monday night, and we had a fine time making the connector and talking about ham radio in general. Ham radio is more fun if you have the right junk!

Horse-fence antenna revisited. One of the things that Ralph and I talked about was my horse-fence antenna. I was unsuccessful with my first attempt at making a 2m dipole with the horse-fence material and just haven’t had the motivation to get back to working on it. Well, when I showed it to Ralph, he said, “It looks to me like you have a bunch of little capacitors there,” referring to the 14 very fine stainless steel wires running through the plastic ribbon, “maybe that’s detuning it.”
I think he might be right.  I’m going to go get a couple more clamps and clamp the far end of the antenna elements and see what effect that has.

55th JOTAJamboree on the Air (JOTA) 2012. Almost two weeks ago now, we had a great Jamboree on the Air at WA2HOM. On Saturday, we had eight or ten Scouts. Several of them already had their General Class licenses, so all I had to do was sit them down at the radio, show them how to use the controls, and they were off to the races. They even worked a new country for us – Trinidad. The cool thing was that the station they contacted down there was also participating in the JOTA, and they got to talk to some Trinidadian Scouts.

 Sandy quiets the bands. On Tuesday night, the 40m band was oddly quiet as hurricane Sandy took out the power on the East Coast and otherwise occupied hams there. It was quite noticeable that there were a lot fewer stations on the air.

HamRadioNow.tv

Ham Radio NowI don’t know how I missed watching HamRadioNow, but now that I’ve seen my first episode, you can bet that I’m going to be a regular viewer from now on. If you ask me, it’s more interesting than HamNation on TWIT.

The last episode I watched is episode #24, which talks about WB2JKJ, the radio club of Junior High School #22 in New York City. You’ve seen the ads in QST and the other ham radio magazines. If you ever wondered about those ads–and the program behind it–you should watch this episode.

The program is actually not about getting kids their amateur radio licenses. Instead, it’s about using amateur radio to teach language arts, geography, etc. And, the program is now more than just a New York City kind of thing. The program reaches out to all educators nationwide.

This episode of HRN was a real eye-opener for me. If you’re at all interested in ham radio in education, watch this episode. If you’re at all interested in any other aspect of ham radio, watch one of the other 20+ episodes.

Contest to award HF gear to youth in January

This is both a great PR move by Amateur Radio Supplies, a company I’ve never heard of, and a good thing for amateur radio. I also love that they’re including a set of paddles :) …..Dan

Sep 26, 2012 -
Amateur Radio Supplies of Haverhill, Mass., announced today a new biannual giveaway to promote youth in amateur radio DXing and contesting.

“Getting on HF (high frequency) in today’s economy is very challenging for many, but especially for our youth operators,” said Jeff Demers, owner, Amateur Radio Supplies. “Many youth operators are unable to purchase the needed equipment to get on the air.  Here at Amateur Radio Supplies, we want them to experience the joy that has propelled us in this hobby for many decades. Thus, on January 1, 2013, we’ll be doing the first of many station sponsorships to support youth in DXing and contesting.”

Amateur Radio Supplies will give a complete HF (high frequency) station to the selected applicant, including:

  • Alinco DX-SR8T/E 160-6m All Mode Transceiver & 30 Amp PS
  • LDG AT-100 Pro II Desktop Antenna Tuner
  • Choice of Rugged All Band G5RV or HyGain DX-77A Vertical
  • 100’ of Premium RG-213 Coax
  • Vibroplex Brass Racer Iambic Paddles
  • SignaLink USB Sound Card for Digital Modes
  • Heil Pro Set Plus Headset

Applicants from any country under the age of 21 are invited to provide brief answers to the following three questions, as well as their name, call sign, and license class, online at http://www.amateurradiosupplies.com/youth-s/222.htm.

1. How often are you able to operate on the HF bands?
2. Where (what QTH) do you typically operate from?
3. How do you intend to use the equipment provided?

Nominations will also be accepted.  If you know of a deserving youth, please email Randy Rowe at randy@amateurradiosupplies.com.

More on getting kids into amateur radio

My recent post, “Another take on getting kids into amateur radio,” garnered nearly a dozen comments, so there certainly seems to be a fair amount of interest in the topic. Coincidentally, I recently came across two items on the Internet on this topic:

  1. WS4FSM @ the South Florida Science MuseumAmateur Radio at the South Florida Science Museum. This effort is very similar to our station, WA2HOM, at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. They’re exposing kids to amateur radio, with a view towards getting them interested in the hobby. Unfortunately, they’re having trouble raising funds. I e-mailed Tom, AJ4XM, about how we were fortunate to get grants from the IEEE and the ARRL and have encouraged him to try as well. In the meantime, he’s trying to raise funds by getting hams to donate on the Net. If you have a few bucks, you might consider donating something.
  2. International Electronic and Ham Radio Camp 2012 in the Czech Republic. This article appears on the IARU Region 1 website. It describes a very cool camp conducted by a group of Czech hams. The ten-day camp drew a group of 40 kids from Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Activities included kit-building, contesting, and a number of field trips. Anyone know of something like this being held here in the U.S.?

Another take on getting kids into amateur radio

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been swapping e-mail with a guy looking for some materials to help him get Boy Scouts interested in radio and in getting their ham licenses. He wrote:

I was wondering if you had thought about applying your approach used in “A No-Nonsense Amateur Radio Study Guide” to the Scout merit badge with the chance of getting a license during the JOTA [Jamboree on the Air] weekend.

Any thoughts on an approach that could be used on the “day” level that could help the scouts get enough licenses in a troop to experience the benefits’ of Ham Radio?

We need to come up with a program that will help 10- and 11- year-olds in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and even high-school kids get licenses.

Unfortunately, most of my efforts along these lines have not been successful. I once did a “ham radio club” at a local middle school, but after a whole year, none of the kids got their licenses. I attribute this to the fact that the club met only once a week and I didn’t get a whole lot of support from the school or the kids’ parents.

I also suggested that someone come up with a study guide specifically for kids. My “No-Nonsense” study guides are pretty good for adults, but I don’t think they’re all that great for kids.  Nor are the one-day Tech classes I teach. I have had kids take the class and get their licenses, but in general, teens don’t do all that well in them.

Thinking about all this gave me another idea. Kids do seem to like the Elenco Snap Circuits kits. Perhaps we could come up with modules that could be used with those kits that would introduce kids to amateur radio specific and get them interested that way.  Any thoughts? Did those old, 100-in-1 kind of electronics kits that you used to buy from toy stores or Radio Shack have any projects that could be construed as ham radio projects?

Scouts can now earn Morse Code interpreter strip

BSA Morse Code Interpreter StripAccording to K2BSA:

The Boy Scouts of America introduced a Morse Code Interpreter Strip for wear on youth and adult uniforms to designate those who are proficient in Morse Code. It denotes their availability for emergency communications and other types of supporting communication for Scouting and the community.

The patch design (shown above) spells out the word M-O-R-S-E in Morse Code.

According to Scouting Magazine:

The Morse Code interpreter strip designates those who are proficient in Morse Code and denotes their availability for emergency communications and other types of  supporting communication for Scouting and the community. Youth and adults may wear this strip if they show their knowledge of Morse Code  by:

  1. Carrying on a five-minute conversation in Morse Code at a speed of at least 5  words per minute.
  2. Copying correctly a two-minute message sent in Morse Code at a minimum of 5 words per minute. Copying means writing the message down as it is received.
  3. Sending a 25 word written document in Morse Code at a minimum of 5 words per minute.

These requirements closely match those of other interpreter strips.

Ham Radio in the News – 4/18/12

Here’s the next installment of Ham Radio in the News….

Ham radio grows at Two Rivers. Sixth- through eighth-graders at Two Rivers School learned the intricacies of ham radio during a two-day, hands-on activity that turned part of the school into an amateur radio studio. It’s always nice to see a story about kids learning about ham radio.

Area amateur radio groups have common bond. This is a fairly typical story about how amateur radio operators provide emergency communications, but the reporting is decent, and it has contact info for both the clubs covered in the article and the ARRL.

‘Ham’ takes over city park. Wires were strung from tree to tree and from pole to pole at Brewton City Park Saturday when the Brewton Amateur Radio Union (WB4ARU) set up for broadcasting (sic) and demonstrations. The reporter didn’t get the difference between broadcasting and transmitting, but that’s OK. It’s still a good story.

WA2HOM now on YouTube!

Here’s a video that was recently made by the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum about WA2HOM and the exhibits we sponsored.

Ham radio and Boy’s Life

Click on the image to see all the detail.

The magazine cover at right is from the January 1959 issue of Boy’s Life, a magazine send to all Boy Scouts. Dave, W9OCM, shared this with members of the Glowbugs mailing list, a mailing for hams who enjoy working with vacuum tube circuits.

Of course, this unleashed a flood of memories and comments. Dave himself comments:

In February 1959, I was 13 and just beginning to figure out radio.  In some ways, I’m still trying to figure out radio….just not 13.  I wouldn’t be licensed until 2 years later 04/61 as KNØHSD.

Tom, N0JMY says,

If you go to http://tinyurl.com/7oqrezk you can read the article  by W1UED (click on the appropriate line in the contents).  Also, there’s a National ad on the contents page. [[All the ads are interesting to read.....Dan]]  I was alive then, but it wasn’t until the late winter of ’67-68 that I picked up a Boy’s Life mag out of boredom and stumbled onto an article called “Hamming it Up”.  And the rest is, as they say, “hay-seedery.”

Jon, K1NV, comments,

I’m getting a little teary, seeing a copy of “Boys Life” for the first time in about 50+ years. There was a ton of practical info to satisfy any American boy’s interests.  I was torn between stamp collecting, astronomy, model airplanes, and, yes, radio.   My stack of “Boys Life” magazines fed these interests.

We couldn’t afford the shortwave set kit  but the official Boy Scout crystal set got things going for me until I graduated to the Philco console with two shortwave bands in the mid-fifties. After learning code with flags and flashlights as a Boy Scout, the novice ticket arrived early in 1959.

Bill, KU8H, says,

My experience with Boy’s Life is from the late 50s and early 60s. They did help set the hook for my interest in electronics in general – ham radio in particular. The oatmeal box with home made capacitor and a crystal detector was from Boy’s Life. I don’t remember which issue(s). That was more than two weeks ago! <evil grin>.

They also fed my interest in the outdoor life in the woods. When people want a campfire or a fireplace lit to this day…I’m their go-to man. One paper match no matter the wind. No gasoline, kerosene, nor other artificial accelerants.

People are sometimes critical of Boy Scouts, and I often joke about my very short career as a Scout, but you have to hand it to them in many respects. They exposed boys to a wide range of activities, many of which stick with them for a lifetime.