ARISS to go quiet this winter

From Weaver’s Words, the e-mail newsletter of Jim Weaver, K8JE, Great Lakes Division Director.

Charlie Sufana, AJ9N, of the ARISS program reports there will be no amateur radio operations from the International Space Station beginning 10 November through 7 December this year. The reason for the quiet hours is there will not be a radio amateur on board. Amateur operations continue until 10 November and will resume after 7 December when a new crew comes on board the station.

Cheat sheets for Field Day

2014_Field_Day_Logo_333_X_220On our club mailing list, a guy who doesn’t get on HF very often suggested that each Field Day station have a cheat sheet containing the following:

  • a list of bands for that particular station,
  • a band plan showing the frequencies that can be operated,
  • a list of the antennas are connected to the radio in the station,
  • some simple instructions on how to setup and operate the radio at that station, including how to tune the antenna if a non-resonant antenna and tuner are being used, and
  • instructions on how to use the logging program, including how to change the operator.

In addition, I would suggest for the Get on the Air station (GOTA), if you’re running one, a script that operators simply have to read when making contacts.

Any other thoughts?

Amateur radio in the news: emergency communications in FL, Museum Ships Weekend

This TV report highlights the emergency preparedness of hams in Tampa Bay, FL.

This TV report highlights the emergency preparedness of hams in Tampa Bay, FL.

Amateur radio operators ‘vital’ to emergency response. They’re some of the most critical people for a hurricane response, but you may be surprised, even concerned, when you first hear who they are: amateurs. 10 News looked at the people our rescuers rely on when the power goes out and the phones go silent.

Master of the airwaves. John Sluymer has been social networking since 1972. There was no Twitter or Facebook when the Grassie resident first picked up a radio unit a little more than four decades ago. Instead of hashtags and status updates, Sluymer would either talk into his mic or tap out his message in Morse code. Just like today’s social networks offer users a chance to interact with people on all sides of the world, Sluymer’s hobby has allowed him to reach — both physically and through radio waves — even the most remote areas of the planet.

Museum Ships Radio Weekend USS Lexington (video). They say its like finding a needle in a hay stack. All weekend long volunteers on board the USS Lexington are reaching out and talking to other museum ships around the world.  Its part of the annual Museum Ships Weekend. It’s a competition where the point is to make contact with at least fifteen other Museum ships by using a ham radio.  Those museum ships who are actually able to contact at least 15 other ships by using a Ham radio receive a certificate.

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.

What are you doing for Field Day?

2014_Field_Day_Logo_333_X_220My club here in Ann Arbor, ARROW, is still debating what to do about Field Day. We are unable to return to the site it was held at last year, so the organizers are still looking for a site. In addition, they have been talking about downsizing from 4A or 5A to 2A or 3A. I don’t think that decision’s been made yet, either.

That prompted me to ask my Twitter followers what they’re doing. Here’s what they had to say:

@NR4CB: My club sets up in a field adjacent to a city municipal building. I’ll visit them for a while during the event.

@imabug: @NR4CB and i’ll be playing FD with my club from the USS Yorktown in the #chs harbour

@waltham845: Trying to get myself to the top a mountain pass do some qrp. barring that qrp out in the field both battery powered hopefully.

@NS0D: I will be a CW operator for the combined FD operation at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO, using call WW1USA

@W1MSW: @HampdenCountyRA 4 towers, 2 tribndrs, 2 40m monobndrs, 3plexrs, networked stns, N1MM & a whole lot of fun!

@jmurphy7411: Taking part in Formidable Footprint ex w/COARES R1D1. Better to train 4 an exp event than HV fun in a contest

@VA3QV: be operating a 1B station (FT 817 qrp and an end fed wire with 12ah battery and solar panel) somewhere TBD from the Ottawa area

@twintiermedia: Spending it with KB3EIB, his 10 yr old son KD2EVP, his unlicensed son, and our dogs in the woods in Allegany County NY QRPing

@M0PZT: May be out /P on the Sunday to make a racket across the pond. Not sure about this QRP stuff though!

@KD8SRF suggested that we hold it in an Ann Arbor municipal park. The guys looked into that, and not only does the city want money to let us do that, they’re not keen on people staying overnight in the parks.

@KD8SRF then suggested: “If you wanted to go all in, might I suggest Belle isle. State police everywhere. They allow after dark special event. It’s cleaned up.” Belle Isle is the jewel of the Detroit park system. It really used to be fabulous, and the city of Detroit, which has been going through some “restructuring,” has now allowed the state of Michigan to take it over and operate it as a state park.

I actually like this idea a lot, but this is an idea for next year, I think. I would want to make it a SE Michigan event and invite hams from all over the region to participate, not just hams from any one club. Maybe I can even get KD8SRF to help organize this.

So, I’ll put it to you now. What are you doing for Field Day?

Operating notes: FAT, ragchews, newbies on 2m

FAT. I’ve added yet another station to my collection of QSOs with stations whose callsigns spell words. WA4FAT, who subscribes to my tip-of-the-week mailing list, volunteered to work me and did so on 40m this last week. Now, I’m waiting for the card.

Two nice ragchews. Last night, I had a couple of nice ragchews. The first was with Bill, WB4DB0. I’ve worked him several times, and it’s always been a nice conversation. Last night, I mentioned that I was going to a Civil War re-enactment on Monday, and as it turns out, he used to be a big Civil War buff.

Later on, I worked Steve, KF7YRL in Lame Deer, MT. On his QRZ.Com page, he says, “You may think you’re boring, but I don’t. I want to hear about your family, your career, your military service, your ham-life, your other hobbies, what it’s like where you live, or crazy stuff you’ve lived through. Give me something that helps me remember you.” Now that’s the attitude you should bring to a QSO. Talk about real stuff. Make it memorable.

During the course of our QSO, I mentioned that I’d written some study guides. This morning, I receive an e-mail from him. He says, “Great to meet you.  Got curious about your study guides, so I looked in my folder of ham stuff on my computer, and sure enough, the ones my bro had sent me a couple of years ago were yours.  High five on that effort.  Very nice guides.” It’s nice to make connections like that.

Newbies on 2m. Possibly the silliest situation we have in amateur radio is that nearly all newcomers buy 2m handhelds only to find that they can’t hit that many repeaters, there aren’t that many guys on 2m anymore, and the old farts that are on 2m won’t talk to them, anyway.

We should all try to do something about this. If you have a 2m radio in the shack, turn it on while you’re down there. If you here a guy give his call sign, return the call, even if you don’t recognize the callsign. You could be missing an interesting conversation, and you’re certainly missing a chance to improve amateur radio in your area.

Last night, I did just that. Shortly after turning on the rig, I heard “KD8YQZ listening.” I was putzing around with something and thought about not calling him back, but then decided that whatever it was I was doing, was certainly not important enough to not talk to this guy.

As it turned out, Tom had just passed the test at Dayton last Saturday, and his callsign appeared in the FCC database on Tuesday. How cool is that?

Shortly after we started talking Todd, KD8WPX, broke in and we started a round-robin QSO. These were two younger guys, and not only were they interested in amateur radio, but also in the local “maker” groups. I was able to point them in the right direction on both counts.

It was also an “Elmer” moment. I taught the about the courtesy tone and about round-robin QSOs. I hope that it was as positive an experience for both of those guys as it was for me.

What I want you to take away from this is that you should turn the radio on when you’re in your shack or out in the garage, and monitor the repeaters. Not only that, return the call when you hear someone come on. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about how there’s no 2m activity anymore or how ham radio is getting to be just a bunch of old guys.

From my Twitter feed: SDR showdown, ground rods, end of the world?

R3UAA's avatarR3UAA @R3UAA
Taylor Killian: SDR Showdown: HackRF vs. bladeRF vs. USRP
taylorkillian.com/2013/08/sdr-sh…

 

K5PO's avatarAndy Holmes, K5PO @K5PO
K5PO Shows the *right* way to install ground rods… Even in rocky soil! #powertools #hamr youtu.be/YObizRMo068

 

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
It’s the end of the world, as we know it –> Anonymous develops secure data over ham radio scheme. theregister.co.uk/2014/05/01/ano

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.

From my Twitter feed: Save the Easter bunny, loop antenna, your own satellite

 

o0ToTOm0o's avatarE22ICQ @o0ToTOm0o
Rescue the Easter Bunny – Ham Radio Fox Hunting for Beginners. youtu.be/tQ8gNHAFXXY fb.me/20HNd9HQh

 

kritikal's avatarAndrew Herron, W8FI@kritikal
Frank’s N4SPP Ham Radio home-built SM0VPO 80 40 20 meters compact spiral loop antenna nonstopsystems.com/radio/frank_ra… via @Delicious

 

UlisK3LU's avatarUlis K3LU @UlisK3LU
Send your own satellite into space for $1000 – smh.com.au/world/science/… via @smh