An opportunity for amateur radio operators?

On the local NextDoor BBS, someone posted:

My roof antenna has stopped delivering many of the channels it used to deliver. I can not find any services for such in the phone book and I am looking for someone who can consult with me and repair if neccessary/possible my system. I only want on air service and am reluctant to sign up/pay for pay service. Things were working fine until a month ago. I trimmed some trees back which were over my roof thinking they were blocking the input but that did not work. If anyone knows someone/service which still does this sort of work I would appreciate contact info for them. I am willing to pay a quite fair price (as I did in the past) for this work. A savvy young person/student/fix it person would be fine or an established service business.

My first thought was that I could do this. Ham radio operators do this kind of antenna work all the time. My guess is that there’s a bad connection up at the antenna or that her coax has gone bad.

Of course, you’ll want to get some insurance if you’re going to get into this business. From a technical point of view, though, it’s not very difficult, there are fewer and fewer TV repair shops that do this work, and with the trend towards “cutting the cable,” you should be able to find plenty of customers.  If you already have a full-time job, then you could do this on the side. If you’re currently unemployed, this could be a whole new career for you.


From my Twitter feed: HackRF, regen, ham scam

michaelossmann's avatarMichael Ossmann @michaelossmann
I’ve launched a new instructional video series: Software Defined Radio with HackRF


AA7EE's avatarDave Richards @AA7EE
New Blog-Post (warning – lots of pictures) – The Sproutie – A General Coverage Regen Receiver with Plug-In Coils


brainwagon's avatarMark VandeWettering @brainwagon
QRZ unmasks an inept (but apparently still successful) Internet scammer. Caveat emptor!…

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck


This is an aerial shot of Elk Lake. The patch of blue that you see in the upper left-hand corner is Grand Traverse Bay, which is on Lake Michigan. The little patch of blue you see in the upper right is Torch Lake, which is just to the east of Elk Lake.

In case you were wondering where I’ve been, I’ve just returned from a very nice week at a cottage on Elk Lake in northern lower Michigan. It’s a beautiful spot, and for the past 20 years now (!), our family has rented a set of cottages up there. The people who come is a little different from year to year, but we normally number 20 people or more.

One interesting feature of these cottages is that there is no phone, no TV, and no Internet connection! There is cellphone service now, but since I don’t have a cellphone, I was pretty much incommunicado. I did go down to the Elk Rapids (the town near Elk Lake) library one day, but that was really a mistake. I should have just stayed disconnected.

This year, the weather was just perfect. Every day was sunny, with the high temperature reaching the upper 70s or lower 80s.

While I was up there, I did not neglect my amateur radio activities. I took my little KX-1 up there, threw my 30-ga. wire dipole up into the trees, and made some contacts. Band conditions were really good this year, and despite an output of only 3.5 W, I made some really solid contacts.

I also visited Ovide, K8EV, who has a summer place in Empire, MI, which is close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. After showing off his tower and FTdx-5000, he and his wife, Cindy, took us on a nice tour of the dunes.

Finally, I did some serious work on my next book, The CW Geek’s Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code. I’ll be posting chapters from that book here soon.

While pounding away on my laptop, one of our visitors, who was sitting across the picnic table from me commented on the “Hams Obey Ohm’s Law” sticker attached to the back of the screen. I did my best to explain to him the concept, and I think he mostly got it, but it was kind of nerdy for a setting like we were at.

A selfie I took down by the lake with my table. I don't know why I'm not smiling here. It was a wonderful vacation.

A selfie I took down by the lake with my table. I don’t know why I’m not smiling here. It was a wonderful vacation.

Two hams busted for 14.313 MHz activities

FCC LogoIf you operate 20m phone at all, you probably avoid 14.313 MHz. I know I do. Now, two hams, Michael Guernsey, KZ8O and Brian Crow, K3VR, have been busted by the FCC for their activities on that frequency. The Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) citing KZ8O reads:

  • Causing Intentional Interference to Licensed Communications
    • The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules. Section 333 of the Act states that “[n]o person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under the Act or operated by the United States Government.” The legislative history for Section 333 of the Act identifies willful and malicious interference as “intentional jamming, deliberate transmission on top of the transmissions of authorized users already using specific frequencies in order to obstruct their communications, repeated interruptions, and the use and transmission of whistles, tapes, records, or other types of noisemaking devices to interfere with the communications or radio signals of other stations.” Section 97.101(d) of the Rules states that “[n]o amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.”
    • On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office located the source of interference to frequency 14.313 MHz to the address of record for Mr. Guernsey’s amateur station KZ8O. The agents heard Mr. Guernsey intentionally interfering with other amateur licensees by transmitting a prerecorded song and various animal noises. These transmissions were a deliberate act to monopolize the frequency and prevent other amateur radio operators from conducting legitimate communications. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules by intentionally interfering with other licensed amateur radio communications.
  • Failure to Transmit a Call Sign Identification
    • The evidence in this case also is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules. Section 97.119(a) of the Rules states that “[e]ach amateur station . . . must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions.” On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office monitored frequency 14.313 MHz for approximately 40 minutes and heard transmissions by Mr. Guernsey in which he failed to transmit his assigned call sign. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules by failing to transmit his assigned call sign.

The Notice of Apparent Liability for K3VR reads about the same.

The pace of Amateur Radio Service enforcement activities seems to have picked up in 2014. After only two enforcement actions in 2013, there have been six already in 2014.

Need a job? Need some techs?

This morning, I got the following e-mail:

Hi Dan,

I came across you website as we are in search of a Two-Way Radio Repair Technician at our Carlsbad, CA facility. Do you have any sources in the San Diego area that might be interested or even you perhaps for that matter? Job posting listed below…

Thanks for your time!

Brandon Ocampo
Two Way Direct
P: 888-742-5893
F: 877-694-6603
3262 Grey Hawk Court
Carlsbad, CA 92010

I suggested a couple of approaches to Brandon. The first was to contact the military. There are a number of military bases in the San Diego, and I’d guess that he might be able to find some electronics techs getting out of the service. I don’t know how much “real” electronics training the military techs get these days, though.

I also suggested that he contact the amateur radio clubs in the area. I know that guys in our club are sometimes looking for work, and I always post things like this to our club mailing list, if the job is local.

So, if you’re looking for a job, you might want to get in touch with Brandon. If not, perhaps you have some other ideas as to how he can recruit qualified techs.

From my Twitter feed: open source laptop, fritzing, audiophool product

dsantosh_'s avatarSantosh Dahal @dsantosh_
World’s First Open Source Laptop Gets Wideband Software-Defined Radio… #SDR #amateurradio


DigilentInc's avatarDigilent Inc. @DigilentInc
How to use @FritzingOrg tutorial on our blog with the new Digilent Parts Bin!…


eevblog's avatarDave Jones @eevblog
Audiophool product of the week:…

It never fails to amaze me how cheap hams are

So, this morning, I loaded up the Freestyle and took some junk great stuff to the Chelsea Amateur Radio Club hamfest. Now, this is a small hamfest, so I guess that I didn’t really expect much, but I was rather disappointed that I didn’t sell even $150 worth of stuff. What really got me, though, is how cheap some guys are, even after I explain that a lot of what I had for sale was donated to the Hands-On Museum and that the proceeds would go to funding our station there.

For example, I had a small speaker with a small bracket for mounting underneath a shelf or underneath a dashboard. I purchased it for $11-12 bucks at Purchase Radio not long before they went out of business. I had put a $5 sticker on it.

Two guys walk up, and the first one offers me $2 for it. What an insult! When his buddy offered me four bucks for it, though, I accepted.

I couldn't even get $50 for this paddle and keyer.

I couldn’t even get $50 for this paddle and keyer.

The other item that I had for sale was a HamKey paddle and keyer combination, like the units shown at right. I was asking $40 for the paddle, $25 for the keyer, and $60 for the combination. One guy said something, “I can’t go more than $40 for them.” When I politely declined, he said he’d come back later.

When he did come back, I offered to give it to him for $50, but he stuck to his $40 offer. Needless to say, he went home without them.

There’s another hamfest–the Monroe Hamfest–in a couple of weeks, and I’ll try my luck down there. There will be more attendees down there, and hopefully more people ready to buy.

Apparently, I was not alone this morning. When I complained to a friend of mine that I had sold relatively few items, he said that several of the other sellers had told him the same thing. I guess the cheap hams had cheaped themselves out of some good deals.

Amateur radio in the news: antenna dispute, Hamvention on TV, new respect for emcomm

This woman is NOT happy that her neighbor, Jeff, W6BYS, has erected this 55-ft. tower.

Neighbors protest radio antenna in historic district. When Napa resident Kathleen Wolf returned to her Randolph Street home in April, following a three-month trip to France, she was surprised to see a newly installed 55-foot-tall radio antenna towering above her fence in a neighbor’s backyard. “That’s the last thing I want to look at,” said Wolf, whose historic home has been in her family for four generations. “What if it falls on me while I’m tending to my tomatoes? I, at least, want  to know that it’s safe.” About six weeks ago, Jeff Hullquist, a Coombs Street resident, erected the amateur, or ham, radio antenna at his home. He grounded the enormous, metal structure in 30,000 pounds of cement and attached it to the side of his house using temporary mounts.

Hamvention in town this weekend. Channel 22 in Dayton ran this nice story on the Hamvention last week.

Ham radio: Old technology gets new respect. Seeking reliable backup communication in a crisis, emergency managers are finding new solutions in an old technology: ham radio. “It’s just another avenue, another opportunity for us to be able to communicate,” said Herb Schraufnagel, public safety captain with Emory University Hospital Midtown.

My Dayton purchases

I didn’t buy a lot at Dayton this year, but I did pick up a couple of cool things:

I'm not sure if this cap will actually help me sell more study guides, but it looks cool.

I’m not sure if this cap will actually help me sell more study guides, but it looks cool.


I bought this Tek Model 3 scope cart from a guy in the far reaches of the flea market. Then, I had to roll it through the crumbling asphalt of of the Hara Arena parking lot to get it to my car. As you can see, it was made for a bigger scope, but my 2225 fits nicely on the top shelf, while my bench DMM fits nicely on the shelf that was made to house the plugins. The drawer down below is plenty big for all the DMM and scope probes and accessories that I have. A bonus is a four-outlet power strip on the back of the cart.


Dayton 2014: First Impressions

I got back from Dayton last night, and was just too tired to do much of a writeup. Today, I’m kind of short on time, but I’ll jot down a few first impressions. If you were there, please feel free to add your own in the comments section.

  1. I had more fun this year than in the past couple of years. I’m not exactly sure why, but maybe part of it was that I talked to more people.
  2. There wasn’t much in the way of exciting new products—at least I didn’t see any. Please feel free to comment on any that you saw there.
  3. Attendance seemed to be down. Rarely were any of the aisles crowded, and then only when it was raining outside. Perhaps the cool, rainy weather kept people from coming.
  4. There were LOTS of open spaces in the flea market. Again, maybe that was due to the lousy weather.
  5. Even so, there were some good things to be had out there.
  6. In addition to all the old farts, there did seem to be a contingent of young guys. I found that encouraging.
  7. There is a lot of interest in the new technology. The antenna modeling forum was packed, and the Linux&Microcontrollers forum was even more packed. I got to the latter a little bit late, and guys were standing out in the hall peering in.

More later!