Amateur radio in the news: WRTC 2014, clubs

kl9aBozeman resident to compete in world radio competition. There is an old saying among the licensed amateur radio operators that says, “When all else fails, ham radio goes through.” And this month, Chris Hurlbut, KL9A, will go through with the 2014 World Radio Sport Team Championship.

Amateur radio club attracts tech experts. The Pacific digital amateur radio club is turning the city into a high-tech mecca, attracting a stream of technology experts and computer gurus, who also are hams, to use the club’s digital repeater, which is still in the process of being installed. Until recently, amateur radio operators, or hams, used analog radios and self-installed towers and repeaters to access radio waves. Now, digital amateur radio allows hams to reach the radio waves through their laptop and desktop computers using new, sophisticated digital technology that some hams are scrambling to learn.

Steady frequency: McKinney Amateur Radio Club tests service, gains youth. For Mike Baker, an 18-year member of the McKinney Amateur Radio Club (MARC), the importance of constant communication is simple. “Got to keep the Morse code up, because if we get invaded by aliens, that’s what we’ve got to have,” said Baker, an engineer with the Department of Homeland Security.

Field Day media hits

Here are some Field Day “media hits,” i.e. coverage of Field Day from different media around the country as reported on the ARRL Public Relations mailing list.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Radio operators can be a big help in a serious emergency. This weekend, HAM radio operators showed just how much of an impact they can have when disaster strikes. The Austin Amateur Radio club held a field day this weekend at the Central Texas American Red Cross, training people how to get emergency messages out when cell phones are down and power is out.

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WSAW) Wisconsin Rapids HAMS are ready to prove, once again, they’re prepared for a national emergency. Today, the Amateur Radio Relay League sponsored the annual U.S. and Canada Amateur Radio Field Day Contest.

When all else fails, we rely on ham radio. “Amateur radio operators don’t need an infrastructure because we have antennas,” said Mary Joseph, a member of the Ak-Sar-Ben Amateur Radio Club. “If everyone picks up the phone at the same time, the cell towers are overwhelmed and you cannot communicate, but we can.” Joseph and her husband, Pat, were among about 25 club members participating Sunday in the annual American Radio Relay League Field Day. They joined thousands of ham radio enthusiasts all across North America in attempting to contact as many other operators as possible.

Station Notes: June 6 – June 9, 2014

While going through some boxes last Friday, I came across a Heathkit IG-102 signal generator. It was in pretty good shape, so I thought I’d fire it up and see if it was still working. I fired up my Tek 2215 scope and connected to to the IG-102. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting any output.

I pulled the cover off the signal generator, and was going to start poking around, when I heard some arcing, and then saw a puff of smoke come out the back of the scope. I quickly pulled the scope plug, but of course, the damage had probably already been done.

Today, I finally got around to getting the Torx screwdriver that I needed to take the covers off the Tek. After removing more than a half dozen screws, I was finally able to get the power supply shield off to look for damage. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find any obvious signs of arcing or burnt components, and the scope seems to power up and work.

Even so, I’m hesitant to just button it up and start using it again. There must be a problem in there that’s just waiting to happen. If you have any experience with Tek 2215s, I’d love to hear from you.

Museum ships ahoy!
On Saturday, I operated the Museum Ships Weekend special event. This was a lot of fun. In a couple of hours, I worked 15 of the museum stations, which qualifies me for some kind of certificate.

One of the more interesting contacts was with AC0TX, operating from the SS Grandcamp Memorial. This ship was the site of one of the worst industrial disasters in the U.S. The Grandcamp had docked in Texas City to pick up a load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

Just before the longshoremen finished loading the fertilizer, a fire broke out aboard ship. It eventually got so hot that the ammonium nitrate exploded. Hundreds of employees, pedestrians and bystanders were killed. This was truly a disaster.

Alabama QSO Party
Kind of surprisingly, I was the high scorer from Michigan in the 2013 Alabama QSO Party. I don’t think I’m going to repeat this year. Last year, I scored over 2,000 points. This year, I barely broke 200. I guess I spent too much time working the museum ships.

KB6NU wins the Alabama QSO Party

I got a surprise in the mail a couple of days ago. Apparently, I was the high scorer from the state of Michigan in the latest Alabama QSO Party. My score was 2,639, with 48 total QSOs. This goes to show you that you don’t have to spend a lot of time, or even make hundreds of contacts to be a champion contester.

alqp-certificate

Operating Notes: MI QP, a coward on 2m, Nerd Nite

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. A week ago yesterday, I spoke to a bunch of nerds at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. I shared the limelight with two other nerds, a bonsai (which I learned is pronounced “bone-sigh”) nerd and the organizer of the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire, a gathering of local nerds. The cool thing about Nerd Night is that it’s held in a bar, and it’s a lot of fun. My talk was well-received, gauging by the number of questions.

MI QSO Party. The Michigan QSO Party was held on Saturday, April 19. This year, I made 176 CW QSOs, and racked up 75 multipliers, for a total score of 26,400 points. Not a bad showing.

 2m coward. Wednesday, as I was walking downtown to a business meeting, I was talking to a friend on the local repeater about taking a video of my Tech classes. This guy had been in one of my Tech classes, and at one point, had suggested video recording them.  Since I’m going to be teaching another class a week from tomorrow, I asked if he could come down and do it, or failing that, if he had any video equipment that I could borrow.

As it turns out, he could neither record the class, nor did he have any equipment I could borrow, but our chat got me to thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to do it now anyway. The Tech question pool will be changing at the end of June, and some of what I’d cover would be obsolete in a hurry.

The talk then turned to who I might get to do the recording in September at the next class. I know one guy who does the video for all the local tech groups in town, and was thinking that perhaps I could get him to do it. I’d probably have to pay him something to do it, however. My friend then suggested that I could burn some DVDs and sell them to defray the cost of the recording and maybe even make a few bucks.

When we signed, a guy got on and said in a rather nasty tone of voice that amateur radio can’t be used for personal gain. He didn’t identify himself, and I didn’t recognize his voice. I came back and said that the rule is that you can’t be paid to operate an amateur radio station, and that my friend and I weren’t making any money by just talking about it.

Not only that, I noted that it’s against the rules to not identify your station and challenged him to do so. Of course, the coward didn’t ID. I’m still miffed by this incident.

A photo from Field Day 1948

I love this photo of Field Day 1948. It’s a reminder that it’s time to start thinking about this year’s Field Day…Dan

A.Radio News Sept 1948

Here’s the accompanying article.

From my Twitter feed: bad soldering, tequila,

hackaday's avatarhackaday @hackaday
New post: Impersonating FBI Agents And People Who Can Solder bit.ly/JQRKil

2e0sql's avatarPeter Goodhall @2e0sql
Interesting talk on using NodeJS and websockets within Amateur Radio specially when using hardware.- youtu.be/r0svcHERWrM #hamr

NS0D's avatarPete NSØD @NS0D
The #Arrl Centennial QSO party starts 1-Jan-2014 – should be a real marathon with a few different awards available arrl.org/centennial-qso…

This isn’t related to ham radio, but I do like a nip of tequila from time time….Dan

Gizmodo's avatarGizmodo @Gizmodo
How tequila geniuses made the best-tasting spirit I’ve ever had: gizmo.do/qo176k0 pic.twitter.com/XAoQTSrcCz

10m Contest log analyzed

So, this weekend, I played around in the ARRL 10m Contest. Like most contests I enter, I didn’t try to compete seriously, but it was fun. It all started on Friday night when one of the people I follow on Twitter tweeted, “Getting ready for the 10m contest.” I thought to myself, “Hey…I haven’t hooked up the 10m loop for ages.”

I tweeted back, “Good idea. Think I’ll head outside and connect up the 10m loop.”

The contest started at 0000Z, but I didn’t get on until 0126Z. Since it gets dark here about 2230Z, I didn’t think that I’d hear much. I surprised myself, though, I made 11 contacts in about 40 minutes. The signals weren’t strong, but strong enough. The stations I worked were all domestic: OH, MI, NJ, VA, MA, WI, and TX.

I really wasn’t planning to operate much the next day, but it was snowing like crazy outside, and Dave, N8SBE, sent out an e-mail to our club’s mailing list that the band was open. So, after making some buttermilk pancakes from scratch for the XYL and me, I headed back down to the shack at about 1400Z.

Europe was booming in, and I racked up a bunch of countries, including at least one (Northern Ireland) that I hadn’t worked before. Also, since the loop is directional north and south in the haphazard way that I threw it up, I worked a couple of South American and Caribbean stations.

I operated until about 1800Z. One thing that I found interesting is the way the propagation changed. Early in the morning, the Europeans were strong. As the day wore on, they disappeared, but the West Coast stations took their place. You could almost feel how the ionosphere was changing by the stations being worked.

Sunday morning was much the same, except that I got on an hour later and had already worked many of the stations I was hearing. Nevertheless, I managed to work several new multipliers, including NS,  Bermuda, Guernsey, and the Dominican Republic.

Adding those multipliers really boosted my score, but my attention was flagging. I decided that I would quit at noon or when I reached 50,000 points, whichever came first. At 11:55 am (1655Z), I had 49,128 points (178 Qs x 4 points/Q x 69 multipliers). I was just about to give up when I  worked VY2TT at 1658Z. That put me over the top. I finished with 50,120 points (179 Qs x 4 points/Q x 70 mults).

I just uploaded my log to QScope, It reports that I operated for 7  hours, 26 minutes, yielding an overall QSO rate of 24.08 Qs/hr. My best rate for a 10-minute period was 48/hr on Saturday morning. Not terrific, but I had a good time doing it.

 

Operating Notes: traffic, bees, Ernst Krenkel

One of the students in my last Tech class, has taken up traffic handling. This evening, he forwarded a piece of traffic to me:

Message Number 1058
Routine
HXG
Station or Origin: KD8RCR
Check 25
Place of Origin: Midland Mi
Date: Nov 26th

IF HF CAPABLE PLEASE JOIN
US ON MACS NET 10AM
AND MITN NET 7PM BOTH
ON 3952 KHZ X WE
NEED YOUR PARTICIPATION X
73
Ryan KB8RCR

Somewhere along the way, “KB” got changed to “KD” or vice versa, but it was cool to get it.

The bee’s knees
Last night, I worked Curt, N5CW, on 40m CW. This wasn’t the first time that I’d contacted Curt, but it was the first time that he mentioned that he kept bees. He isn’t the first ham radio operator/beekeeper that I’ve worked. A couple of weeks ago, I worked KC4URI, who also keeps bees, and a while back, W3BEE. I’ve now worked more beekeepers (3) than I have barbers (2).

Ernst Krenkel
RAEMThis evening, I worked RD110RAEM, a special event station commemorating the 110th anniversary of the Arctic explorer and amateur radio operator, Ernst Krenkel, RAEM (1903-1971). He was a famous polar explorer, Hero of the Soviet Union, chairman of the USSR Radiosport Federation (1959-1971), and the first chairman of Central Radio Club of the USSR. There’s even an Ernst Krenkel Museum of Radio and Radio Amateurs in Moscow.

According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, there will be 23 special event stations operating throughout the month of December commemorating Krenkel, including 20 in Russia and three in the Ukraine. On Sunday, December 29, the 42nd RAEM International CW HF Contest will take place.

WA2HOM Report – 10/6/13

Last week, we purchased a new (to us, anyway) rig for our station at WA2HOM—an Icom IC-756PROIII. After using it a bit on Thursday evening, and for a couple of hours on Saturday and a couple more today, I must say that I’m enjoying this radio.

WA2HOM

I spent my four hours mainly working the CA QSO Party. I tallied 106 QSOs and scored just over 10,000 points. I also happened upon G100RSGB calling CQ on 21.375 MHz, and had a delightful conversation with Roger, who was operating from the Rolls Royce engineering center near Nottingham. That will be a nice QSL card to add to our collection.

Ovide, K8EV, is as well. He e-mailed me yesterday:

I had a terrific radio session Saturday morning. Though band conditions were unsettled, and noise was high on 20m, I was able to adjust our new (to us) IC-756PROIII’s noise reduction (NR) circuit to turn marginal signals into a quality contacts. The audio from the transceiver is outstanding. It’s clear even in a large, noisy room.

The sound of the new radio attracted visitors to the shack at regular intervals. Two hams and two mothers wandered by, one with a cute first grader who has the distinction of being the first kid operator on our new transceiver. Denis, my friend in New Mexico, was the radio docent.

The second mom, who lives in farm country in Santa Clara Valley CA and has been trying to decide whether to home-school her child, had an extended conversation with Denis on the topic. Denis, it turns out, is an excellent resource, having home-schooled two boys, one of whom went to Oxford University to get a Ph.D. in mathematics! The mom, who is visiting her husband’s family in Dexter, was delighted to find unexpected help on an issue she has been struggling with on a visit to the Hands On Museum.

There are a few accessories that we still need to purchase, including a CI-V cable to connect the rig to the computer and a cable to connect the rig to the Signalink interface. So far, though, it looks like we’ve made a good purchase.