Ham Radio in the News – August 22, 2011

When Pigs Fly. A blog posting by a reporter—who also happens to be a ham radio operator—on the art of QRPing.

70 years of ribbing, hamming and wedded bliss. Bob and Dorothy Truhlar attribute their long marriage to a healthy sense of humor, as well as a clear division of duties, and a common interest in ham radio. And, they both admit, a bit of blackberry brandy every now and then doesn’t hurt.

Ham radio verification cards on exhibit at Harford Community College. This exhibit features QSL cards as examples of an “operator’s personality and home life.”

QSLs – 8/5/11

Well, here are two new QSL cards from my collection of QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words:

N3DUE QSL

 

W4HOD QSL

I also got a letter from the XYL of VE3CUR.  I don’t remember exactly when I worked him, nor when I sent him a QSL card, but here’s what Marj Robinson wrote:

Dear Dan,

I have taken a long time answer your note, but I have not been on the air now – since my husband has been in a nursing home. He’s 94 now.The call – VE3CUR – was his originally, but when he was able to get a two-letter call, I took over “Can’t Understand Radio.” I have had lots of fun with it, but never had a card with my name on it, and I can’t find any of his. They’re long gone, I guess. Sorry about that.

Well, Marj, if you read this, your note was even better than a QSL card.  I’m adding it to my collection.

Last Saturday on the Radio at KB6NU

I had a busy ham radio Saturday here at KB6NU. It started early Saturday morning as I headed out to the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire. It’s a small, locally-organized version of Make: magazine’s Maker Faires that take place in San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX.

This year’s exhibits included:

  • Learn to Solder
  • DIY Satellites
  • See neural electrical activity
  • Silkscreen what you’re wearing
  • Electric Allis-Chalmers Tractor
  • Marshall Stack Touchscreen Jukebox
  • Hands-on activities from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • Amateur Radio
  • Sustainable Technology
  • Pedal Power Pavilion
  • Return of the Giant Vortex Cannon
  • Electric Scooters
  • Robots
  • Paper folding and pop-up books

Basically, it’s a bunch of geeks showing off the geeky things they’re working on and demonstrating the geeky things that they like to do.

I organized the amateur radio exhibit, which, like last year, consisted of me getting people to send their names in Morse Code, and Dave, N8SBE, demonstrating the capabilities of his Elecraft K3. Dave’s K3 was really the hit of the show, with its panadapter and digital modes display.

kb6nu-at-mini-maker-faire-2011

KB6NU trying to get yet another person to send their name in Morse Code at the 2011 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire. It was pretty hot in the shed we were in, and right about this time, I was ready for a nap.Photo: Roger Rayle

This being a geeky kind of event, I was quite successful at getting people to send their names in Morse Code. After showing them how to use the touch keyer that I’d brought, a lot of them really got into it. I even managed to amaze a few of them, when after they’d sent their name, I was able to say, “Well, nice to meet you Sally or Joe or whatever name it was they’d sent.”

All in all, there was quite a bit of interest in our display, amongst both kids and adults. We had one girl, for example, who I’m guessing was about 11 or 12, come by several times, looking at everything we had with intense interest. One time, she even dragged her parents along with her.

After all was said and done, I ended up passing out quite a few brochures and handing out quite a few business cards. As far as PR goes, it was a very successful event.

You can see more of Roger Rayle’s photos of the event here.

More Stations Whose Callsigns Spell Words
After the Faire, I went out to dinner with my wife and in-laws, but later that evening, I got back on the radio. I tuned around for the AL QSO Party, and only made about a dozen contacts, but two of them—W4HOD and W4CUE—are stations whose callsigns spell words. Both are club stations, too. My cards are in the mail, and I’m hoping to get their replies soon.

Operating Notes: 5/7 – 5/9/2011

I worked parts of three contests this weekend:

  • the 7th Area QSO Party
  • the New England QSO Party, and
  • the Indiana QSO Party

Jim, K8ELR, and I had planned to work the New England QSO Party, but oddly enough, it didn’t start until 4pm EDT. Instead, we worked the 7th Area QSO Party. We just pointed the beam west and racked them up. We only worked it for about four hours, so I doubt we’ll be winning any awards, but it was fun to hand out some Qs.

Later on, here at home, I fired up the rig, intending to work just the New England QSO Party. There were so many Indiana stations still pounding in, though, that I decided to work both of them.

The funny thing is that I ended up using N1MM for the Indiana QSO Party and the N3FJP software for New England QSO Party. I couldn’t figure out how N1MM wanted me to input the exchange for the NEQP, so I just downloaded the N3FJP software and used that.

I didn’t make a lot of contacts in either contest, but I had fun working them.

My First GAL
Last Friday, I got a card from W4GAL. That’s my first QSL from a GAL. In the New England QSO Party, I worked N2AT, while in the Indiana QSO Party, I worked W9GO. More cards for my collection, I hope.

Finally, I wanted to mention working KD8HES Saturday afternoon. Zeke’s a 16-year-old ham who lives just down the road in Jackson. It was great working another kid using CW. He told me he only operates QRP CW on 40m. I joked that he was breaking a rule, and that if you look closely, you’ll see that you need to be at least 50 years old to work CW–at least it seems that way.

 

An Odd QSL

Yesterday, I received the QSL card below from Gordon West, WB6NOA, who, as you may know, has also written a series of amateur radio exam license study guides.




Now, I’m kind of wondering why he sent me this card. I hate being a skeptic, but I wonder about the sincerity of the message. He did, after all, misspell my last name and called my study guides “study notes.”

What do you think?

Interesting Stuff from the Mailing Lists

Here are three items that caught my eye in the last couple of days:

  1. Project Calliope. Project Calliope is a satellite funded by Science 2.0 and being launched by a mad scientist who is a space & music enthusiast. It’s launching on the “TubeSat” platform. It’ll be an ionospheric detector transmitting sonifiable data back to Earth for web streaming and remixing. Conceptually, it’s a musical instrument in space, played by space rather than just after-the-fact sonified.
  2. The King’s QSL Card. Most of us who have been hams for more than a couple of years know that the late King Hussein of Jordan was a ham radio operator, callsign JY1. This posting is a story from a British ham who was fortunate enough to work him a couple of times and get his QSL card.
  3. Yuri’s Night. Yuri’s Night is April 12, 2011, the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight. Part of this celebration will be ham-radio related, specifically a test of ARISSsat-1, which is scheduled for deployment sometime later this summer.

QSLs – 3/12/11

Here’s a selection of some of my recent QSLs. The first two, from K0BE and VE3SO are for my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words. I’m including the card from OM2VL just because it’s from Slovakia, and my XYL likes Mickey Mouse.

Miscellaneous Notes: LOTW Update, E-Books, W8AO/W8IO

LOTW Update
My last posting on my experiences with Logbook of the World (LOTW), “Is LOTW More Trouble Than It’s Worth,” was one of my most popular posts, in terms of the number of responses it generated. I published that in November 2009. Since then, I again changed computers in my shack, and not wishing to go through the hellacious process I went through last time, I just haven’t bothered getting LOTW up and running again.

A couple of days ago, however, a fellow graciously asked me if I would QSL via LOTW. He asked so nicely, I could hardly refuse. Besides, it had been more than a year since I last uploaded my log to LOTW.

Fortunately for me, this time the installation process went without a hitch, and I had it all up and running again in less than 15 minutes. I uploaded my latest QSOs in short order too.   As of Sat, 5 Mar 2011 UTC, I have  10,133 QSOs uploaded and 1,507 QSOs confirmed, including 89 countries. This is compared to 8,928 QSOs uploaded and 1,160 confirmed, including 81 countries on Nov. 30, 2009. I’ll have 90 countries as soon as S9DX uploads their logs.

E-Books
As I mentioned before, I’ve started selling Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook e-book versions of the No-Nonsenses Technician Class License Study Guide. While it’s not in any danger of breaking any sales records, I have been somewhat amused. In two and a half months, it’s sold about 20 copies.

W8AO/W8IO
Last Saturday, down at the museum, I worked W8IO,  who lives in Macedonia, OH. About an hour later, I get a call from W8AO, who lives in Wooster, OH, only about 50 miles away from Macedonia. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I’d worked W8IO earlier that morning.

On his next transmission, W8IO tells me that he used to work W8AO all the time, but that he hadn’t heard him in quite a while. (That’s not too surprising, actually–they’re only 50 miles apart.) He asked me to convey his regards next time I worked him. I just thought it was quite a coincidence to work both these guys so close together, and that they knew one another.

Outgoing Buro Rates Rise

From the ARRL Letter 1/13/11:

Effective January 17, 2011, a new pricing structure will go into effect for the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service. With the new rate structure, amateurs will no longer need to count outgoing cards and then guess as to what to pay based upon a half-pound rate; a simple weighing of the cards is all that is necessary to determine what amount to send to the Bureau. This new structure also accommodates a small rate increase in response to recent postage, shipping and handling costs.

The last rate revision for the Outgoing QSL Service was in January 2007. Even though international shipping costs have remained flat over the last 4 years, domestic shipping costs have risen more than 16 percent since 2007, while material and handling costs continue to climb 1 to 2 percent each year.

The new rate will be:

  • $2 for 10 or fewer cards in one envelope.
  • $3 for 11-20 cards in one envelope, or
  • 75 cents per ounce, for packages with 21 or more cards. For example, a package containing 1.5 pounds — 24 ounces, or about 225 cards — of cards will cost $18.

If you have any questions concerning the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service or the rates to use the service, please send them via e-mail to buro@arrl.org.

More QSLs

Here are three of the latest QSLs that I’ve received from stations whose callsigns spell words.

Actually, the only one of the three that’s mine is VE2DIG. Jim, K8ELR, actually worked F6BEE and VE3MOON down at the museum. They arrived today in a pack of QSLs that we received from the bureau.

VE2DIG QSL

F6BEE

VE3MOON QSL