Ham Radio on Google +

Google+ has really caught on with hams. There are quite a few of us on this new social network, and I currently have 330 in my ham radio “circle.”  Here are a few links that those hams have shared:

The KC5FM Daily. Paper.li is a website that lets you turn Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds into online newspapers in just a few clicks. Here’s KC5FM’s paper.

‘UHF’ Connector Test Results. This blog post by John Huggins (I couldn’t find his callsign anywhere on the website) shows the results of his UHF connector tests. He also compares their characteristics to other types of RF connectors. Huggins says,

The stunning result is all the UHF connectors in the test have worse performance than all the other connectors. One immediate conclusion concerning ‘UHF’ connectors is they will function at these higher frequencies, but one must decide if using the PL259 or SO239 is worth it in an age where its deficiencies have been made moot by ALL connector designs since WWII.

Prywatna Wytwórnia Lamp, where DIY meets vacuum electron devices. This blog post describes another guy–this one in Poland–who makes his own vacuum tubes.

Google+ is a lot better site for ham-radio social networking than Facebook.  Give it a try and join us.


Man…I Gotta Figure Out a Way to Make Some Money Off This Thing

I often joke that I have the #1-rated ham radio blog. I quickly go on to say that what I mean by that is that if you type in “ham radio blog” or “amateur radio blog” into Google, I come up #1. Of course, that’s practically meaningless. I mean how many people are going to type that into Google.

So, I thought, I’ll bite the bullet and see where I rank if I type just “ham radio” or “amateur radio” into Google. Well, lo and behold, I just came up #7 for “amateur radio” and #8 for “ham radio.” Honestly, I’m kind of amazed by that.

At any rate, I apparently got the search engine optimization (SEO) thing down. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to take advantage of it. <grin>

Tell Your Ham Radio Stories on HamRadioStoryProject.Com

For a long time, I’ve had the idea to set up a website to capture ham radio stories. Well, I’ve finally done it. The Ham Radio Story Project is now online!

This website was inspired by the Story Corps, which was itself inspired by NPR’s National Story Project. Basically, the idea is to capture personal stories of how amateur radio has touched lives, either the lives of amateur radio operators themselves, or of the people that we serve.

If you have a great story about ham radio, I want to hear about it and to publish it on HamRadioStoryProject.Com. If you want to tell the story yourself, I’ll add you as an author. If you would like some help, let me know, and I’ll contact you and either write the story myself, or find someone else to help you.

I don’t want to lose another great story because there isn’t a place to tell it. HamRadioStoryProject.Com is the place to tell it.

An Audio Version of the Study Guide?

I recently published an e-book version of my Tech study guide, but it never occurred to me to publish an audio version. This morning, though, I found an e-mail to the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list requesting just such a thing. He wants to be able to listen to it on the way to work.

The first thing that occurred to me is that there must be some online service that will do this for me, so I Googled “text to mp3 converter.” Sure enough, there are several of them. The first one on the list, HearWho.Com, will only convert the first 400 characters of your text file. The second, vozme.com, will convert an entire text file, so I used that one.

The resulting .mp3 file is OK, but it’s nowhere near natural speech. Even so, it may meet your needs.

You can download the file by clicking on the link below. I’d be interested in what you think about it.

Download the .mp3 file (1.8 Mbytes)

Links to Amusing Websites

Here are a few more interesting websites that I’ve run across lately…..Dan

SparkBangBuzz. Subtitled “Cool Homemade Stuff, etc.,” this website details several projects that might be of interest to radio amateurs, including:

  • Easy Ten 80m transmitter using a single 2N3904 and a
  • magnetic audio amplifier, using toroids not tubes or transistors.

Antenna Compendium. This is Shortwave America’s HF antenna page. Here, you’ll find dozens of links to HF, VHF, UHF, and even EHF antennas.

GetRadioJobs.Com. Looking for a job in radio? Try this site. A search for “engineer” turned up 15 listings that were posted in the last month, including Radio Frequency Engineer, Product Support Engineer, and Navigation Radio Engineer.

A Quick Review of the Top Ham Radio Blogs According to Google

I often claim that I have the #1 ham radio blog, according to Google. This is true. When you type in “ham radio blog” or “amateur radio blog” into Google, I come out on top. I don’t know how good this recommendation actually is, and it certainly doesn’t mean that my blog is the most widely-read, but it’s better to be rated #1 on Google than #100. :)

Having said that, I thought I’d do a quick review of the other blogs that appear on the first page of the Google search results:

Ham Radio Blog by DL6KAC – Talking about Ham and Amateur Radio, SEO, & More. This blog is no more.  The last post was on May 2, 2010, and notes, “Today I decided to shut down ham-blogs.net.” It has only ten posts since the beginning of the year, and only three or four of those had amateur radio content.

K2DBK’s Ham Radio Blog. K2DBK’s content is a lot like mine–a lot of personal musings and reports on his operations. The content is mostly interesting, especially the “Ham Tools” series, but I didn’t really like the design. White type on a black background is too hard to read.

Ham Radio – a Contact Sport. I liked the story on the ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) and some of the other stories, but there just wasn’t enough of them. This blog has only eight posts in 2010.

IW5EDI: Ham Operator in Florence. I liked this blog for a couple of reasons: 1. The header has a great aerial photograph of Florence, a city that I love, and 2. IW5EDI’s writing style. For example, his post on why he recently chose the Palstar  Palstar PM2000 A/M power meter/SWR meter over the DAIWA CN-801 was well-written and useful, and my philosophy is that blogs should be useful as well as interesting.

Ke9v.net. KE9V blogs prolifically on a wide variety of topics, not just ham radio. For example, he’s recently blogged on the most recent Debian Linux distro, Android cellphones and the “Culture of Death.” On the current homepage, only two of the ten posts were ham radio related.

N0UN’s Ham Radio Blog: My Ham Radio Experiences Through the Years. This blog has some interesting and useful posts, but they are few and far between. The last post was on May 30,2010, and there were only three posts in all of 2010.

W2LJ’s Blog – QRP – Doing More With Less. Larry, W2LJ, is an on-air friend of mine, and I’m glad to see that his blog has edged it’s way onto the first page of search results. Like me, he likes to mix the personal and the technical, and his blog is up-to-date. Worth reading.

Well, that’s it for page 1 of the Google search results. I’m kind of surprised that some of the blogs that made this list were relatively inactive, but I guess that it would be difficult for Google to automatically figure that out.

Happy reading!

Take Everything With a Grain of Salt

I love the Internet. Heck, I make my living developing websites and producing content that appears on the Internet. And, it’s really a great source of information.

Unfortunately, it can also be a great source of misinformation. What prompts me to say this is a posting that I just ran across on eHow.Com. Titled, “How to Wire a Studio Microphone Cable for the Icom IC 735,” the article purports to tell you how to use a studio microphone with this HF transceiver.

Just about everything written is factually incorrect. For example, the author says:

The Icom IC 735 is a now discontinued HF transceiver designed for home-based radio frequency use. While using the transceiver, one can communicate with other individuals through an attached microphone. The microphone is XLR-based, allowing the user to run a microphone to the standalone receiver via a single XLR cable. To hear the communications, a pair of headphones is inserted into the microphone port on the front of the Icom IC 735.

He got the part about it being discontinued right, but everything else in that paragraph is wrong! I usually just blow off these nonsense postings, but in this case, I just couldn’t let this go.

Perhaps it’s because I have owned several IC-735s in the past and have recommended them to several of my friends, but also because I could imagine some new ham who just purchased an IC-735 at a hamfest somewhere trying to figure out how to connect his microphone to the rig. He reads this article, then goes to the nearest Radio Shack and buys an XLR connector, only to find out it’s not the one he needs. How frustrating!

Fortunately, eHow allows you to flag an article if it has incorrect information. I’ve done this, and I would encourage you to do something similar should you run into the same kind of misinformation on eHow or other websites.

Having said all that, and planting my tongue firmly in my cheek, let me assure you that anything you read here on KB6NU.Com is completely factually correct and you can trust it implicitly.

Spaceweather.Com Wants You!

Brad, KG6IOE, spotted this recently on SpaceWeather.Com and posted it to the Glow Bugs mailing list:

*CALLING ALL HAMS:* No hobby is more sensitive to solar activity and space weather than ham radio. So here is a call to ham radio operators: Is spaceweather.com meeting your needs? We welcome your suggestions to improve our website. Submit ham-friendly ideas here: webmaster@spaceweather.com.

New Spectrum Allocation Chart

No ham shack should be without a spectrum allocation chart. Now, Tektronix, the oscilloscope maker, is now offering a new one. Here’s what their website has to say:

New Worldwide Spectrum Allocations Poster Request Form

Thanks your interest in our NEW poster. It provides a color-coded view of the worldwide spectrum allocations for all ITU (International Telecommunications Union) regions. It’s the only graphical poster that shows the international spectrum allocations in an easy-to-find format.

There’s a form to fill out, so that they can get your address, and the poster will be winging its way to you.

PVRC Announces September/October Webinar Schedule

The Potomac Valley Radio Club, one of the premier contest clubs in the country, has announced their Webinar schedule for September/October. Things kick off next Wednesday (9/9) with KR2Q’s “When GIANTS First Walked the Bands – The Early Days of Multi-Multi.” Doug’s presentation includes timeless photos and a nostalgic look back at the early days of multi-multi contesting. This is one of those presentations where you can put your feet up and enjoy a great trip down memory lane!

The schedule also includes the first jointly hosted event by PVRC & NCCC. Dean Straw, N6BV, will present “Hints and Kinks for Using HFTA.” Myself and Dean N6DE of NCCC had a chance last night to preview some of N6BV’s material. This is must see TV (Webinar)!

October programs include a return presentation by Carl Luetzelschwab K9LA on “Propagation Prediction Programs: Their Development and Use”, a follow on to his earlier Webinar on Cycle 24. Wally Stefanov, LZ2CJ, will give us a look at the LZ9W contest station and discuss their plans for CQWW 2009. You may have seen some of the pictures Wally has already posted. The LZ9W team has been very busy this summer!

There is one other presentation in the works for October which will be of interest to the entire contest community. Final details are almost complete and the announcement should be out very soon.

Our Webinar webmaster is recovering from surgery so the registration links have not been posted to www.pvrc.org yet but they will be in the near future.

You will be able to find them and earlier events under the “PVRC Webinars” link. In the mean time, use the links below to view dates/times, program descriptions, and registration forms.

Feel free to send comments, questions, suggestions to k4zw@comcast.net

When Giants First Walked the Bands (KR2Q)


Hints and Kinks for Using HFTA – A Joint PVRC/NCCC Event (N6BV)


A look at the LZ9W Contest Station (LZ2CJ)


Propagation Prediction Programs: Their Development and
Use (K9LA)