From my Twitter feed: Edinburgh Morse, hams hear old spacecraft,

G7AGI's avatarDavid De Silva @G7AGI
I’ve just discovered @edinburghmorse. Looking forward to seeing the new web site go live.

exploreplanets's avatarPlanetary Society @exploreplanets
Amateur radio enthusiasts were able to detect the carrier signal of a decades-old NASA spacecraft: planetary.org/blogs/emily-la…

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9vObject of Interest: Aereo’s Tiny Antennas newyorker.com/online/blogs/e… via @NewYorker

M0PZT's avatarCharlie – M0PZT @M0PZT
Blog updated: What Makes A Real Ham? m0pzt.com/?blog #hamradio

More on the W8P special event

Rotary InternationalAs I reported earlier, I operated a special event station, W8P, from the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum the weekend of February 26-27. The special event commemorated the founding of the Rotary Club on February 23, 1905, and was designed to also spread the word about Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. 

One of the incredibly cool things about Rotary is that it is an international organization. There are 34,000 Rotary Clubs all around the world, and many Rotarians (as we call ourselves) are radio amateurs. There’s even an international group of Rotarians who enjoy amateur radio call Rotarians on Amateur Radio, or ROAR.

ROAR members all over the world participated in this special operating event. Here are their reports as relayed by Bill, VK4ZD:

  • From Dan, KB6NU (W8P): W8P made 80 contacts in about four hours of operation, all but one or two in the continental U.S. My goal was not to make as many contacts as possible, but to engage as many hams as I could about the End Polio Now campaign. I think I was successful in doing that. I recommended to those that were interested that they visit the endpolionow.org website and tried to answer their questions about polio as best I could.
  • From Jean-Pierre (F1CFA): It was the French Contest, but it was possible to make QSO with a foreign station…American, Japanese, etc…On 18, 21, 28 MHz !!!!
  • From Coco, YO9BC (YO9POLIO): In Roumania the only ROTARY Club having radio amateurs among its members is ROTARY Club Ploiesti (Prahova, District 2241). There are three members of ROTARY Ploiesti who are also ROAR members: Mr. Malanca Mihai, YO9BPX; Mr Rosca George, YO9BGR; and Mr. Duque Vincent, YO9BC. On 22 and 23 February, we contributed to the event two stations: the Ploiesti radio club station, YO9KAG, with five operators under the supervision of Malanca Mihai, and YO9BC, with Rosca George as operator. AIl authorized bands where worked, including 10m, 15m, 20m, 40m, and 80m, using phone (SSB), CW, and digital modes. We made 1,680 contacts on all continents. Special QSL cards were mailed to all correspondents.
  • From Pertti, EA7GSU: I kept busy in the morning and the afternoon calling CQ POLIO on 20m and 10m. Got 31 contacts with two W’s,one VU and one LU included.
  • From Wally, VK6YS (VI6POLIO): We made a total of 296 contacts, and logged 46 different countries, with over 1350 lookups on my QRZ.com page. Interestingly quite a number had already had a look at the page before making contact and then once they read the page decided they want to be on the contact list. Overall a very enjoyable weekend albeit my daughters wedding did slow me down a bit on the Sunday. Apart from all that, it was most interesting talking to people around the world about polio and the state of polio eradication in the world.
    What I found disturbingly, was that a number of VK calls I spoke to were quite ignorant of the threat of polio and saw it as a dead disease that we don’t even need to think about any more.
        In fact one VK2 suggested that the effort should be put into ridding the world of HIV as he saw that there is a real issue rather than polio.!!! I did explain to him that there were great differences between the two diseases and in particular when you look at the numbers affected particularly children. But it was interesting to have a few comments at such a level of ignorance.
        On the other hand, I spoke to 3 VU stations who were completely full bottle on polio and eradication and were so proud to tell me that India was declared polio free three years ago. They also thanked Rotary International for the work done in assisting.
    Many of the Europeans I spoke to on 10 m were well aware of polio in the world in the current status of the eradication progress. Thank you so much for the work done to get this event on the road. I did enjoy it immensely.
  • From Lee Moyle, VK3GK (VI3POLIO): A fun Sunday spent operating VI3POLIO from the home QTH. I managed to work about 640 contacts often with DX-pedition style pileups. VI3POLIO had 3 operators, and I believe the two Peters, vk3kcd and vk3fspr  had a good result too. Looking forward to next years event. 73 VK3GK
  • From Noel, VK2IWT (VI2POLIO): I had a fantastic time talking to those that I did.
  • From Diane, VK4KYL (VI4POLIO): THe QRZ pages for each of the “polio” websites garnered a lot of attention. Another fantastic Radio weekend for Rotary’s 109th Birthday spreading the word on Rotary & Polio Plus: we contacted some 905 Radio Hams and we had people commenting on what great work Rotary does and a number were going to check out their local Rotary Club. Our radio activity webpages got over 3100 hits.  The operators were myself (Diane VK4KYL, Alizah VK4FOXE and Bill VK4ZD).

In summary the huge numbers of Hams who looked up information on our QRZ web pages shows the high level of interest this activity has generated over the weekend in question.

QSL cards will depict the Sydney Opera House as illustrated on the VI4POLIO QRZ web page.

Operating notes: A productive day down at the museum

WA2HOM QSLI wasn’t able to get down to WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum on Saturday, but I did make it on Sunday. It was a very productive—and fun—day.

I arrived at the museum at about 1:15 pm, and when I got up to the shack, there was a guy looking over the station. I asked if he had any questions, and we had a nice chat about what we do at the museum. He told me that he’d always wanted to get an amateur radio license, but for whatever reason, had never gotten around to it. I handed him one of my Getting Into Amateur (Ham) Radio flyers, and got a real good feeling that I gave him the push he needed to get over the hump.

Next, I tuned to 15m CW, and, in short order, found both W1AW/7 (WA) and W1AW/0 (KS). They both had strong signals, and I worked them on my second or third call.

Two new “countries”
Tuning down the band, I happened upon EA9UG in Ceuta. According to Wikipedia, Ceuta is an “autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a western border with Morocco.” It is a DXCC entity. There are less than 100 amateur radio operators in Ceuta/Melilla. Not only was this a new country for us at the museum, I worked and EA9 myself from home just a few days before.

After that contact, an Italian ham, now living in the U.S. dropped in for a visit. He’s lived here for several months now, but hasn’t yet operated from here, as he was unsure of what he could do and what he couldn’t do. I assured him that the U.S. and Italy had a reciprocal operating agreement and that he should feel free to operate here. I also pointed him at the W8SRC Repeater Guide.

Finally, just before leaving, I thought I should make at least one contact in the ARRL DX SSB Contest. I switched up to the phone portion of the band, swung the beam south, and heard FY5FY calling CQ. French Guiana just happened to be a new one for us. I’m not sure what our count is, but we have to be getting close to 100 countries by now. I guess that my next task will be to get the log uploaded to LOTW and then see where we’re at.

I really love interacting with the museum visitors and encouraging them to either get their tickets or have more fun with ham radio if they do have one. Throw in all the great contacts that I made, and you can see how I had such a great day down at the museum.

Operating Notes: W1AW/8, W8P

Over the past week, I participated in two special operating activities. The first was operating as W1AW/8 on 40m CW on Thursday evening, 2/20/14. Three of us—Stuart W8SRC, Arun W8ARU, and yours truly—operated for two hours between 0100Z and 0300Z at W8UM, the station of the University of Michigan’s amateur radio club. Matt, WS8U, the station manager, made all the arrangements.

While it was a lot of fun, I’m afraid that we didn’t make as many QSOs as we’d hoped. Band conditions were just horrendous, due to a coronal mass ejection, and often we couldn’t hear a thing. All told, we only made 86 contacts over two hours.

We did have a lot of fun, though. Stuart recorded about a half hour of our operation and posted the video to YouTube (see below). You get a great view of the back of my head in this video. :)

W8P spreads the word about End Polio Now

Over the weekend, I operated W8P from our station at the Hands-On Museum. The purpose of this special event was to commemorate the founding of the Rotary Club in 1905 and to spread the word about the End Polio Now campaign. Since the mid-1980s, Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio around the world.

Since 1988, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated against polio, and the number of countries where polio is endemic has decreased from 125 to just 3 (Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan). On the About Polio page, there’s a graphic example of how the number of cases and the countries in which polio is endemic has declined over the years.

I operated solely on 20m SSB, and made a number of poignant contacts, including those who had family or friends who were polio survivors. Perhaps the most touching was with Greg, WA4YBP, of Shelby, NC, who is himself a polio survivor. He contracted polio when he was only 9 months old and wasn’t expected to live. He not only survived, but has lived a good life, even though he’s spent his entire life in a wheelchair.

Both of these operations were worthwhile in their own ways. I’d urge you all to either participate in a special event operation, if you’re invited, or start your own special event. Special events not only make our hobby more fun, but can also provide a real public service.

From my Twitter feed: Antique wireless, Nuclear Summit special event

K7AGE's avatar @K7AGE
AWA GATEWAY available #hamradio antiquewireless.org/uploads/1/6/1/… pic.twitter.com/NoI7dkksmW

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
Call for Hams and Hackers: Welcome ICE/ISEE-3 Home – ISEE-3, one of America’s most dedicated space exploration … ow.ly/2DSJMz

PD0MV's avatarPD0MV@PD0MV
#PD6NUKE – For All Ham Operators world wide pic.twitter.com/tmHZDuCQAOStory image

2014 Tech study guide: radio direction finding; radio control; contests; linking over the Internet; grid locators

For some odd reason, the question pool committee deleted the question about special event station callsigns and replaced it with another question about IRLP. Not only that, they added a few more questions about IRLP to this section. I think they should have kept the question about special events and eliminated the gateway question (T8C11) instead…Dan

There are many different ways to have fun with amateur radio. Contesting, for example, is a popular operating activity that involves contacting as many stations as possible during a specified period of time. (T8C03) When contacting another station in a radio contest, a good procedure is to send only the minimum information needed for proper identification and the contest exchange. (T8C04)

In VHF/UHF contests, stations often send each other their grid locators. A grid locator is a letter-number designator assigned to a geographic location. (T8C05)

One fun activity that is very practical is radio direction finding. You would use radio direction finding equipment and skills to participate in a hidden transmitter hunt, sometimes called a “fox hunt.” In addition to participating in this kind of contest, radio direction finding is one of the methods used to locate sources of noise interference or jamming. (T8C01) A directional antenna would be useful for a hidden transmitter hunt. (T8C02)

Some amateurs get licensed because they like to build and operate radio-controlled models, including boats, planes, and automobiles. The maximum power allowed when transmitting telecommand signals to radio controlled models is 1 watt. (T8C07) In place of on-air station identification when sending signals to a radio control model using amateur frequencies, a label indicating the licensee’s name, call sign and address must be affixed to the transmitter.(T8C08)

If the only radios that you have are VHF or UHF radios, you might want to look into EchoLink and the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP). The Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) is a technique to connect amateur radio systems, such as repeaters, via the Internet using Voice Over Internet Protocol. (T8C13) Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP),  as used in amateur radio, is a method of delivering voice communications over the Internet using digital techniques. (T8C12)

Stations that connect to EchoLink or IRLP are called nodes. One way to obtain a list of active nodes that use VoIP is from a repeater directory. (T8C09) You access an IRLP node by using DTMF signals. (T8C06) To select a specific IRLP node when using a portable transceiver, use the keypad to transmit the IRLP node ID. (T8C10)

Sometimes nodes are also called gateways. A gateway is the name given to an amateur radio station that is used to connect other amateur stations to the Internet. (T8C11)

2014 Tech study guide: satellite operation

In this section, one question was dropped and another about Keplerian elements was added…Dan

As a Technician Class licensee, you can make contacts via amateur radio satellites. Any amateur whose license privileges allow them to transmit on the satellite uplink frequency may be the control operator of a station communicating through an amateur satellite or space station. (T8B01)

Amateur satellites are basically repeaters in space. As such they have an uplink frequency, which is the frequency on which you transmit and the satellite receives, and a downlink frequency, on which the satellite transmits and you receive. As with other transmissions, the minimum amount of power needed to complete the contact should be used on the uplink frequency of an amateur satellite or space station. (T8B02)

Often, the uplink frequency and downlink frequency are in different amateur bands. For example, when a satellite is operating in “mode U/V,” the satellite uplink is in the 70 cm band and the downlink is in the 2 meter band. (T8B08)

The International Space Station often has amateur radio operators on board. Any amateur holding a Technician or higher class license may make contact with an amateur station on the International Space Station using 2 meter and 70 cm band amateur radio frequencies. (T8B04) Like most amateur satellites, the Space Station is in low earth orbit. When used to describe an amateur satellite, the initials LEO means that the satellite is in a Low Earth Orbit. (T8B10)

Amateur satellites are often equipped with beacons. A satellite beacon is a transmission from a space station that contains information about a satellite. (T8B05) FM Packet is a commonly used method of sending signals to and from a digital satellite. (T8B11)

How do you know when you are able to communicate via an amateur satellite? A satellite tracking program can be used to determine the time period during which an amateur satellite or space station can be accessed. (T8B03) The Keplerian elements are inputs to a satellite tracking program. (T8B06)

Two problems that you must deal with when communicating via satellite is Doppler shift and spin fading. Doppler shift is an observed change in signal frequency caused by relative motion between the satellite and the earth station. (T8B07) Rotation of the satellite and its antennas causes “spin fading” of satellite signals. (T8B09)

2014 Tech study guide: operating procedures

I’m going to lump several sections into this one post. Several questions were added and several updated, but nothing really major was changed….Dan

FM Operation 

Once they get their licenses, most Technicians purchase a VHF/UHF FM transceiver. This type of radio allows them to use repeaters and participate in public-service events.

To use repeaters, you need to know how to set up your radio. Repeaters receive on one frequency and transmit on another. You program your radio so that it receives on the repeater’s transmit frequency and transmits on the repeater’s receive frequency.

The difference between the transmit frequency and receive frequency is called the repeater frequency offset. Plus or minus 600 kHz is the most common repeater frequency offset in the 2 meter band. (T2A01) Plus or minus 5 MHz is a common repeater frequency offset in the 70 cm band. (T2A03)

Repeater operation is called duplex operation because you’re transmitting and receiving on two different frequencies. When the stations can communicate directly without using a repeater, you should consider communicating via simplex rather than a repeater. (T2B12) Simplex communication is the term used to describe an amateur station that is transmitting and receiving on the same frequency. (T2B01)

To help amateurs operating simplex finding one another, frequencies on each band have been set aside as “national calling frequencies.” 446.000 MHz is the national calling frequency for FM simplex operations in the 70 cm band. (T2A02) 146.52 MHz is the national calling frequency for FM simplex operation in the 2 m band.

Because repeaters often operate in environments where there is a lot of interference they are programmed not to operate unless the station they are receiving is also transmitting a sub- audible tone of a specific frequency. These tones are sometimes called PL (short for “private line”) tones or CTCSS tones. CTCSS is the term used to describe the use of a sub-audible tone transmitted with normal voice audio to open the squelch of a receiver. (T2B02) If your radio has not been programmed to transmit the proper sub-audible tone when you transmit, the repeater will not repeat your transmission.

All of these choices are correct when talking about common problems that might cause you to be able to hear but not access a repeater even when transmitting with the proper offset: (T2B04)

• The repeater receiver requires audio tone burst for access
• The repeater receiver requires a CTCSS tone for  access
• The repeater receiver may require a DCS tone sequence for access

One of the controls on a VHF/UHF transceiver is the squelch control. Carrier squelch is the term that describes the muting of receiver audio controlled solely by the presence or absence of an RF signal. (T2B03) You can set this control so that you only get an audio output when receiving a signal.

Microphone gain is also an important control. The reason for this is that the amplitude of the modulating signal determines the amount of deviation of an FM signal. (T2B05) When the deviation of an FM transmitter is increased, its signal occupies more bandwidth. (T2B06) One thing that could cause your FM signal to interfere with stations on nearby frequencies is that you have set your microphone gain too high, causing over-deviation. (T2B07)

In addition to knowing how to set the controls of your radio, you need to know the protocol for making contacts. First, when using a repeater, it is rare to hear stations calling CQ. In place of “CQ,” say your call sign to indicate that you are listening on a repeater. (T2A09) An appropriate way to call another station on a repeater if you know the other station’s call sign is to say the station’s call sign then identify with your call sign. (T2A04)

HF Operation

On the HF bands, when you want to contact another station, you “call CQ.” That is to say, you would say something like, “CQ CQ CQ. This is KB6NU.” The meaning of the procedural signal “CQ” is calling any station. (T2A08) All of these choices are correct when choosing an operating frequency for calling CQ (T2A12):

  • Listen first to be sure that no one else is using the frequency
  • Ask if the frequency is in use
  • Make sure you are in your assigned band

When responding to a call of CQ, you should transmit the other station’s call sign followed by your call sign. (T2A05) For example, if W8JNZ heard my call and wanted to talk to me, he would reply, “KB6NU this is W8JNZ. Over.” Then, I would return the call, and our contact would begin.

It’s important to always identify your station, even when only performing tests. An amateur operator must properly identify the transmitting station when making on-air transmissions to test equipment or antennas. (T2A06) When making a test transmission, station identification is required at least every ten minutes during the test and at the end. (T2A07)

As a technician, you will be able to operate Morse Code on certain portions of the 80 m, 40 m, 15 m, and 10 m bands. To shorten the number of characters sent during a CW contact, amateurs often use three-letter combinations called Q-signals. QRM is the “Q” signal used to indicate that you are receiving interference from other stations. (T2B10) The “Q” signal used to indicate that you are changing frequency is QSY. (T2B11)

General Guidelines

FCC rules specify broadly where amateur radio operators have operating privileges, but are not very detailed. Band plans take this one step further, suggesting where amateurs should use certain modes. While consulting a band plan before operating is a good idea, realize that a band plan is a voluntary guideline for using different modes or activities within an amateur band. (T2A10)

Regarding power levels used in the amateur bands under normal, non-distress circumstances, the FCC rules state that, while not exceeding the maximum power permitted on a given band, use the minimum power necessary to carry out the desired communication. (T2A11) So, while you are authorized to use up to 1,500 W output power on VHF and above (200W on HF), you really should only use that much power when you really need it.

The basics of good operation include keeping your signals clean and avoid interference to other stations. When two stations transmitting on the same frequency interfere with each other, common courtesy should prevail, but no one has absolute right to an amateur frequency. (T2B08)

When identifying your station when using phone, use of a phonetic alphabet is encouraged by the FCC. (T2B09) Most hams around the world understand and use the NATO, or ITU phonetic alphabet. Learn it and use it.

2014 Tech study guide: station setup

There were two question changes in this section. Question T4A02 was changed from a question about headphones to a question about using computers in the shack. Question T4A05 was changed from a question about band-reject filters to one about using an SWR meter. I’ve added that question to the appropriate section…Dan

When setting up an amateur radio station, choosing the radio itself is the most important consideration, but you must also choose a wide range of accessories, such as power supplies and microphones. In addition, how you set up the station is important for it to operate efficiently.

One accessory that you’ll definitely need is a power supply to provide the DC voltage and current that your radio needs. A good reason to use a regulated power supply for communications equipment is that it prevents voltage fluctuations from reaching sensitive circuits. (T4A03) When choosing a supply, check the voltage and current ratings of the supply and be sure to choose one capable of supplying a high enough voltage and enough current to power your radio.

If you are going to operate with one of the voice modes, you’ll need a microphone. When considering the microphone connectors on amateur transceivers, note that some connectors include push-to-talk and voltages for powering the microphone. (T4A01)

A computer has become a very common accessory in an amateur radio “shack.” All of these choices are correct when talking about how a computer be used as part of an amateur radio station (T4A02):

  • For logging contacts and contact information
  • For sending and/or receiving CW
  • generating and decoding digital signals

If you plan to operate packet radio, you will need a computer and a terminal controller, or TNC, in addition to the radio. A terminal node controller would be connected between a transceiver and computer in a packet radio station. (T4A06) The TNC converts the ones and zeroes sent by the computer into tones sent over the air.

A more modern way to operate digital modes, such as RTTY or PSK-31, is to use a computer equipped with a sound card. When conducting digital communications using a computer, the sound card provides audio to the microphone input and converts received audio to digital form. (T4A07) The sound card may be connected directly to the radio, but it’s usually better to connect it through a device that isolates the radio from the computer. This prevents ground loops from causing the signal to be noisy.

Audio and power supply cables in a amateur radio station sometimes pick up stray RF. At minimum, this RF can cause the audio to be noisy. At worst, it can cause a radio or accessory to malfunction. To reduce RF current flowing on the shield of an audio cable (or in a power supply cable), you would use a ferrite choke. (T4A09)

Modern radio equipment is very well-designed, and harmonic radiation is rarely a problem these days. Even so, there may be times when it does become a problem, and you’ll have to take steps to attenuate the harmonics. To reduce harmonic emissions, a filter must be installed between the transmitter and the antenna. (T4A04)

Good grounding techniques can help you avoid interference problems. When grounding your equipment, you should connect the various pieces of equipment to a single point, keep leads short, and use a heavy conductor to connect to ground. Flat strap is the type of conductor that is best to use for RF grounding. (T4A08)

If you plan to install a radio in your car and operate mobile, you have a different set of challenges. One is connecting the radio to the car’s power system. Some amateurs connect their radio with a cigarette lighter plug, but this plug is not designed for high currents. Instead, a mobile transceiver’s power negative connection should be made at the battery or engine block ground strap. (T4A11) The positive connection can also be made at the battery or through an unused position of the vehicle’s fuse block.

Another challenge is noise generated by the car itself. One thing that could be happening if another operator reports a variable high-pitched whine on the audio from your mobile transmitter is that noise on the vehicle’s electrical system is being transmitted along with your speech audio. (T4A12)

The alternator is often the culprit.  The alternator is the source of a high-pitched whine that varies with engine speed in a mobile transceiver’s receive audio. (T4A10) Should this be a problem, there are filters that you can install to mitigate the alternator whine. One thing that would reduce ignition interference to a receiver is to turn on the noise blanker. (T4B05)

From my Twitter feed: deep-space signals, making PCBs, SWL skeds

VoiceOfHamRadio's avatarVoice of Ham Radio @VoiceOfHamRadio
Radio Amateurs Receive Rosetta Spacecraft Signals from Deep Space zite.to/1nxMq2L via @Zite

 

hackaday's avatar

hackaday @hackaday
New post: [CNLohr] Demos His Photoetch PCB Process bit.ly/1a8TQpm

 

QSLRptMT's avatarGayle Van Horn @QSLRptMT
Still looking for winter shortwave schedules to compliment your listening ? Details at: mt-shortwave.blogspot.com