Amateur radio in the news: oldest social media, convention, FCC shutdown

Ham radio operators stay true to social media’s low-tech roots. Long ago, before Facebook, Twitter and email, ham radio operators were the original social media geeks. And they’re still out there, in greater numbers than ever, chatting and messaging each other all over the world without an Internet connection or even a telephone line.

Amateur radio club hosts convention. The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club hosted the 2013 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention in September at the Marriott Hotel in Buellton. The conference brought together amateur radio enthusiasts from all of Southern California and Arizona to share and learn from the experts on specific topics of concern. The conference stressed two areas of interest: emergency preparedness and attracting young students to the art of Amateur Radio.

Shutdown upends ham radio buffs’ Wake Isle trip marking massacre. For anyone questioning the reach of the federal government shutdown, consider Wake Island. Not much more than military-plane refueling and classified operations occur on the unincorporated U.S. territory, a coral atoll located between Hawaii and Guam, about 6,700 miles (10,780 kilometers) from the legislative standoff in Washington. That was about to change this week with the arrival of a dozen ham-radio operators who thought they’d won approval for a two-week commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the World War II massacre of almost 100 U.S. civilian contractors on Wake Island by the Japanese on Oct. 7, 1943. Instead, after months of preparation, the trip is on ice because of a paperwork delay the group attributes to the partial federal shutdown, which started Oct. 1 as Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a stopgap spending measure.

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.

I’m a winner again!

Maritime QSO Party certificate

As you can see from the certificate above, I am a champion again. This time, I had the highest score from Michigan in the 2013 Maritime QSO Party. My score? 212, including a 200 point bonus for working the club station of one of the contest’s organizers. The other 12 points came from my four QSO points and three multipliers. The Maritime Contest Club didn’t publish a list of all the entries, but I gotta believe that I was the only one from Michigan.

Say “HI” to Juno

On October 9, 2013, the spacecraft Juno will fly by Earth to get a gravity assist and put it on a course for Jupiter. To celebrate this event, NASA is inviting amateur radio operators around the world to say “HI” to Juno in a coordinated Morse Code message. Juno’s radio and plasma wave experiment, called Waves, should be able to detect the message if enough people participate.

Say HI to Juno

NASA is asking us to send the letters “HI” in verrrrry slow Morse Code on 26 different frequencies in the 10m band. I say verrrrry slow because each dit is 30 seconds long.

The event is to start at 1800 UTC on October 9 and last until 2040 UTC. The “HI” message is to be repeated every 10 minutes, beginning at 18:00, 18:10, 18:20, etc. as shown in the figure below.

Say HI to Juno

The Say HI to Juno Web page has much more information on this event. The page include a table of frequencies on which to transmit and information on how to get a QSL card. There is also a Facebook page.

I think that this is a very cool event, and I hope that if you have the capability of transmitting on 10m that you’ll participate. Let’s all say HI to Juno!

ZM90DX to commemorate Kiwi contribution to amateur radio

This from VK4ZD:

kiwi-dx-groupAfter World War 1 and with the banishment of radio amateurs to the supposedly “useless shorter wavelengths” an amazing period of radio exploration took place.  Amateurs all over the globe soon learnt that far from being useless these wavelengths seem to allow communication over long distances.  Amateurs in ZL were at the forefront of this activity with the first ZL to VK QSO in April 1923, and then world record distance QSOs between ZL and Argentina in May 1924, ZL and California in September 1924, ZL and Connecticut on the US east coast just weeks later, and the ultimate Z4AA Frank Bell’s QSO with Cecil Goyder G2SZ in London on 18 October 1924.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the record breaking activities of these early pioneers of Amateur Radio, ZM90DX will be on the air between 1 October 2013 and 31 October 2014 on all bands 1.8 MHz to 1.2 GHz and beyond in all modes.  Activated by the Kiwi DX Group, an informal group of DXers and contest enthusiasts, ZM90DX will be used around New Zealand and a special commemorative QSL card will be available as well as an award program for contacts with ZL during this period.

Not only will ZM90DX be active at expected times and on expected bands, but in the spirit of those early pioneers the ZM90DX operators will also be calling CQ on bands and in directions one may not necessarily expect with the intention of exploring the boundaries of radio propagation.

This will be an unparalleled opportunity for Amateurs all over the world to work ZL while celebrating the exploits of those early trail blazers whose work paved the way for radio communications as we know it today.

Further details can be found on http://www.zm90dx.com/.

Note: “Please remember this is a ZL based activity NOT ZL9 Campbell & Auckland Islands.” ENSURE your logging software logs ZM90DX correctly as ZL and NOT ZL9, Auckland / Campbell Islands. To update the Country File for your logging software please visit: http://www.country-files.com/

Lots of (ham) visitors at WA2HOM this weekend

This weekend down at the museum we had a number of hams  stop by and visit:

  • Pete, KD8TBW. Pete had contacted me earlier in the week and asked if I could help him with some things. I gave him the grand tour of our HF station and then helped him program his HT. I hope this gives him the jumpstart he needed to really get into amateur radio.
  • Henry, K8HLD, and Sarah, KD8JOB. As I was standing outside waiting for Pete, the W8UM repeater blurted out its ID in Morse Code. When he heard the Morse Code, a guy who was waiting for some members of his family, asked me if that was a ham radio. When I said yes, he told me that his father and mother were hams, and that he would send them up to visit the station. We gave them the tour, and then I asked if Sarah had a QSL card for my collection. Unfortunately, she did not.
  • a father and son who are both hams, and whose callsigns I wrote down, but can’t remember at this point. The son just started at U-M and plans to join the U-M Amateur Radio Club. I encouraged both to get their General tickets, and tried to impress them by showing off our DX capabilities. As it turns out, there was a European DX contest in progress as we were chatting, and so I tuned around, found DF0HQ calling CQ, and worked him on the first call. They were duly impressed.
  • Paul, KC8QAY and Rebecca, KC8WWP.  This couple was accompanied by their cute little, two-year-old son, who apparently isn’t mic-shy at all and could rattle off his father’s call sign very nice.
  • Brad, N8VI. Brad came with Paul and Rebecca.

Oh, and Ovide, K8EV, was there, too. He’s not really a visitor, though. :)

Operating Notes
In addition to impressing visitors with our DX prowess, I worked as many Route 66 on the Air stations as I could. In the end, I managed to work nine of the 18 stations, ranging from St. Louis, MO to Barstow, CA. I’ll be trying to get as many of these QSLs as I can.

From my Twitter feed: Ecommin in CO, vintage radio, JT9

RadioGeek's avatarKKØHF@RadioGeek
Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators help in emergencies denverpost.com/breakingnews/c…

This is one of the better-written newspaper stories that I’ve seen in a while….Dan

 

MrVacuumTube's avatarGregory Charvat @MrVacuumTube
For a good series on how to restore antique radio gear, see youtube channel ‘bandersontv’ and (@YouTube youtu.be/TnRP1BcwRRk?a)

I have some antique radios that need restoration…..Dan

TWIAR's avatartwiar.org @TWIAR
ARRL: Have a Great Time with JT9 dlvr.it/3ybncz #hamr

Remember to count your paper QSLs

The last time I uploaded my log to Logbook of the World (LOTW), it was promptly processed and reported that I had 121 total entities confirmed. That’s dandy, but I got to thinking about how many other entities I might have confirmed that for whatever reason were not recorded in LOTW.

So, for the last couple of hours, I’ve been pawing through my QSL card collection, looking for QSLs not recorded there. I was aided in this quest by the EA6VQ DXCC spreadsheet. As it turns out, I have eight paper QSLs that are not recorded in LOTW:

  • 5R8W
  • 5W0OU
  • ER1DA
  • HB0/HB9QQ
  • HI8RV
  • KG4KRN
  • OM2VL
  • PJ7/PA2DGR

So, my total is actually 129 entities now confirmed. I feel a lot better. :)

Operating Notes: I really had a ball down at the museum last night

It’s been very hot and humid here in SE Michigan this week, making me verrrry lazy. So, I almost decided not to head down to the Hands-On Museum and operate WA2HOM last night. I’m sure glad I forced myself to do it, though.

I got there about 5:45 pm, turned the rig on, and right away I could tell it was going to be a good night. IK2CIO was just blasting in at at least 10 dB over S9. Over the next half hour, I worked four other European stations, including OK7MD, DF6HA, and SN0H.

At that point, I decided to give 15m a whirl. Tuning around, the only station I could hear was JM7OLW. He was a decent S6, so I was sure that I could reach him. After swinging the beam around, I got him on the second try. If you go to JM7OLW’s QRZ page, you’ll note that he lives in Fukushima–yes that Fukushima. He lives just 35 miles from the nuclear plant that was damaged by the tsunami a couple of years ago.

After working JM7OLW, I still couldn’t hear anyone, but decided to call CQ. Boy, was I surprised when Dennis, KE7DZ, came right back to me. We had a nice 20-minute chat, which was a nice change from the short DX contacts.

After the contact with Dennis, I tuned around some more, and it appeared that the band had come to life. I could hear a bunch of stations in the Northwest, and then worked ZL1ALZ. It was nice to add another ZL to the log.

I guess the moral of this story is that 15m is open to the Asia in the evenings, at least lately. I was hoping to find a BY, but no luck with that.

At that point, Ralph, AA8RK, showed up. I gave him the operator’s chair, and we tried our hand at phone. After no replies to CQs on 15m, he QSYed to 20m, where we had a lot better luck.

We worked a bunch of U.S. stations on 20m, but the highlight–for me, anyway–was working KJ6HOT. Not only is this another station to add to my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words, his QTH was very near to where I used to live in San Diego. Unfortunately, he was only using 5W, so we had to let him go after a short QSO, but that was fun, anyway.

I had a great time and Ralph had a great time. I just wish that I could get more of the local hams to come down and operate the station. That three-element Yagi really makes it a great station.

From the trade magazines: satellite tracking, online circuit design, open-source test board

More cool stuff from the electronics engineering trade magazines….Dan

LEO satellite tracking in your backyard. Learn how one guy built his own satellite tracking system in his backyard.

The rise of the online circuit-design collective. Though still in the infancy stage, design and simulation tools that run entirely in the browser are pushing their way onto the EDA landscape. The ultimate goal is that they become essential players within the realm of professional design.

Test and measurement  turns to open source, Kickstarter. The field of test and measurement is set to benefit from open-source software applications if a Kickstarter fundraising project is successful. The Red Pitaya is a credit card-sized, reconfigurable measurement board with 60MHz of input bandwidth and an onboard Xilinx Zinq FPGA to perform signal processing.