2014 Tech study guide: frequency, wavelength, the electromagnetic spectrum

Electromagnetic is the type of wave that carries radio signals between transmitting and receiving stations. (T3A07) The usual name for electromagnetic waves that travel through space is radio waves. (T5C07) As the name would imply, the two components of a radio wave are electric and magnetic fields. (T3B03)

One important parameter of a radio wave is its frequency, or the number of times per second that the radio wave reverses direction. The unit of frequency is the Hertz (Hz). (T5C05) One Hz is one cycle per second.

A radio wave travels at the speed of light through free space. (T3B04) Because the speed of light is about 300,000,000 meters per second, the approximate velocity of a radio wave as it travels through free space is 300,000,000 meters per second. (T3B11)

Another important parameter of a radio wave is its wavelength. Wavelength is the name for the distance a radio wave travels during one complete cycle. (T3B01)

Because radio waves travel at the speed of light, no matter what their frequency happens to be, the wavelength gets shorter as the frequency increases. (T3B05) The formula for converting frequency to wavelength in meters is wavelength in meters equals 300 divided by frequency in megahertz. (T3B06)

The approximate wavelength of radio waves is often used to identify the different frequency bands. (T3B07) For example, when we refer to the 2 meter band, we are referring to the amateur radio band that spans 144 MHz to 148 MHz. A radio wave with a frequency of 148 MHz, would have a wavelength of 2.02 meters.

The abbreviation “RF” refers to radio frequency signals of all types. (T5C06) For convenience, we split the entire range of radio frequencies into sub-ranges, including high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF). The frequency range 3 to 30 MHz is referred to as HF. (T3B10) The frequency limits of the VHF spectrum are 30 to 300 MHz. (T3B08) The frequency limits of the UHF spectrum are 300 to 3000 MHz. (T3B09)

Southeastern Michigan Area VHF/UHF Nets

Here is a list of the various VHF/UHF nets here in the southeastern Michigan area:

  • Southeastern Michigan Traffic Net: Daily at 10:15pm on 146.760- PL 100.0
  • Toledo Radio Amateur Club Traffic Net (also heard in Clyde): Daily at 6:40pm on 147.375+ PL 103.5, 146.610- PL 103.5, 145.350- PL 110.9, and 442.950+ PL 103.5
  • Utica Shelby Emergency Communications Association Information Net: Sunday afternoons at 1pm on 147.180+ PL 100.0
  • University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club Net: Sunday nights at 8pm on 145.230- PL 100.0
  • South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club Net: Sunday nights at 8pm on 147.040+ PL 110.9
  • Tin Lizzy Net (Dearborn): Sunday nights at 8pm on 145.270- PL 100.0
  • Adrian Amateur Radio Club Net: Sunday nights at 8pm on 145.370- PL 85.4
  • Utica Shelby Emergency Communications Association Traders Net: Sunday nights at 8pm on 147.180+ PL 100.0
  • Washtenaw County ARPSC Net: Sunday nights at 8:30pm on 145.150- PL 100.0
  • Livingston Amateur Radio Klub Net: Sunday nights at 9pm on 146.680- PL 162.2
  • Hazel Park Amateur Radio Club Net: Sunday nights at 9pm on 146.640- PL 100.0
  • ARROW Communications Association Net: Monday nights at 8pm on 146.960-
  • Clarkston Repeater Association Net: Monday nights at 8pm on 146.840- PL 100.0
  • Monroe County Radio Communications Association Net: Monday nights at 9pm on 146.720- PL 100.0
  • Michigan VHF Traffic Net: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights at 9pm on 145.470- PL 114.8 for Jackson or 107.2 for Lansing
  • Chelsea Amateur Radio Club Net: Tuesday nights at 8pm on 145.450- PL 100.0
  • East Coast Reflector IRLP Net (heard in Milan and Ann Arbor): Tuesday nights at 9pm on 444.100+ PL 82.5, 927.4875- PL 131.8, or 927.9875- PL 131.8
  • Mid-Michigan Information Net: Wednesday nights at 7pm on 145.390- PL 100.0
  • Michigan Radio Amateur Youth Net: Thursday nights at 7pm on 145.390- PL 100.0
  • Livonia Amateur Radio Club Net: Thursday nights at 8pm on 145.350- PL 100.0
  • Oakland County ARPSC Net: Thursday nights at 8pm on 146.900- PL 100.0
  • Macomb County ARPSC Net: Thursday nights at 8pm on 147.200+ PL 100.0
  • L’Anse Creuse Amateur Radio Club Net: Thursday nights at 8:30pm on 147.080+ PL 100.0
  • Cascades Amateur Radio Society Net (Jackson): Thursday nights at 9pm on 146.880- PL 100.0
  • Novi Amateur Radio Club Net: Thursday nights at 9pm on 444.800+ PL 110.9
  • Link System Net (Jackson/Dexter/Toledo): Saturday nights at 8pm on 147.360+ PL 100.0, 443.875+ PL 100.0, 446.150- PL 100.0, or 927.225- PL 100.0
  • “615″ Net (Dexter): Saturday nights at 10pm on 446.150- PL 100.0
  • Utica Shelby Emergency Communications Association Hoot Owl Net: Saturday nights at 11pm on 147.180+ PL 100.0

For a list of all repeaters in the southeastern Michigan area, check out the W8SRC Repeater Guide.

What goals do you have for 2014?

This morning, my Twitter feed featured this Tweet from Mitch, AA5D, a relatively new ham:

_AA5D's avatarMitch (AA5D) @_AA5D
I take a look at the last year in this blog… Recap of 2013 Ham Radio Goals wp.me/p32EjK-2M

Mitch didn’t meet all his goals, but setting some probably helped him achieve more than if he hadn’t set any.  Not only that, I bet it helped him have more fun overall. There’s a certain satisfaction in achieving goals and not just doing stuff willy-nilly.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to set my goals for 2014:

  1. Update the No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide. The Tech question pool has been updated, and will go into effect on July 1, 2014. I’m planning on having the updated study guide ready to announce at Dayton (late May).
  2. Hold at least three one-day Tech classes and another General class. I was able to do this last year, so I should be able to accomplish this in 2014 as well. I’m also thinking of experimenting with a two-day Extra Class.
  3. Finish at least two kits. I have four kits on my workbench in various states of assembly. I need to get them off the bench and into service.
  4. Repair the IC-735 on my bench. It would be nice to get that back into service as well.
  5. Experiment with a new mode. I’ve been researching FreeDV, and I think that’s the mode I want to try out.
  6. Add to the antenna farm at WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. We really need 40m capability, and we need to add a 40m antenna at the very least. An antenna for one or more WARC bands would be nice, too.

There are, of course, other things on my list of things to do, such as learning how to use antenna simulation software and  writing and publishing a new book, but this is a good list, and those goals are certainly doable. You should be realistic about your goals, so that they don’t become a disappointment.

So, having said all that, what are your goals for 2014?

From my Twitter feed: bypass caps, VHF propagation, SMD rework

dangerousproto's avatarDangerous Prototypes @dangerousproto
app note: properties and application of bypass capacitors goo.gl/YFpqLx

georgesmartuk's avatarGeorge Smart @georgesmartuk
Not sure if everyone has seen @ng0e‘s fantastic VHF Propagation Map from #APRS data. How genius! aprs.mountainlake.k12.mn.us #hamr #hamradio #vhf

DIYEngineering's avatarDIY Engineering @DIYEngineering
app note: Rework method for surface mount MLCCs – Things you might need to know about doing SMT rework on Multi La… ow.ly/2C95Qu

Being the greedy sot that I am…

…I’m going to try another way to “monetize” this website. What I’ve done is to add a page thats list ham radio products sold on Amazon. If you purchase a product on Amazon using one of the links there, I’ll get a cut. You can get to that page by clicking on the “Ham Stuff (from Amazon)” link above.

Taking that a step further, I’d love to get your suggestions for products to list there. You don’t have to have purchased it on Amazon, but it needs to be sold by Amazon. Please feel to either e-mail me your suggestions or enter them in the comment section below.

Michigan PRB-1 law update: action needed

This just in from our Section Manager….Dan 

Here is an important update from our State Government Liaison, Ed Hude, WA8QJE on the status of the PRB-1 project here in Michigan.

On September 17, 2013, Senators Rick Jones and David Robinson introduced Senate Bill Number 493.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Technology. Currently, Senate Bill 493 has not been acted upon and is still in the Committee on Energy and Technology.

This is where I need your help. I am asking that each and every one of you contact the Committee Chair, Mike Nofs and the Committee Members to encourage them to take action on this bill. The best way for this to happen is by sending an email message to Senator Nofs and to the members of the Energy and Technology Committee.

The following is a suggestion as to what to include in your message. If you deviate from this message, please be respectful and communicate in a professional tone. Here are the email addresses to use and instructions on how to get your message to the Senators of the committee.


Please be sure to carbon copy or “cc:” both myself (wa8qje@arrl.net) and our Section Manager Larry Camp, WB8R (wb8r@arrl.org).

You do not need to be a licensed operator to send this message.  Even your spouse can send a message. (Just be sure to not place a call sign in the signature if he/she is not an amateur.) Let’s work together and get this moving forward!!! Thank you.





Senator ___________,

I am asking that you please give consideration to scheduling SB 0493 for review and passage within the Committee of Energy and Technology. Senate Bill 0493 if passed will recognize the Federal Communications Commission pre-emption of PRB-1. This will help all licensed Amateur Radio Operators across the State of Michigan, especially in the times of needed emergency communications.  Your assistance as well as that of the Committee members is urgently needed.


(Name) (Call sign)
(Email Address)

Use a USB headset in the shack?

In the LinkedIn ARRL Ham Radio Operators group, Rick, W7STS, asked, “Has anyone noticed that the radio manufacturers have been slow to offer a USB headset interface?” I flippantly replied that this sounded like a business opportunity to me. Rick answered that since ham radio manufacturers seem to have embraced the USB port for connecting keyboards and computers to their rigs, they should also have included an audio interface as well. I agree with that, but I doubt that we’re going to see that with this generation of radios.

Another thought that I had this morning would be to use a Raspberry Pi to provide that USB to audio interface. It doesn’t seem to me that that would be difficult to do, and I can’t think of a less costly way to do it. Anyone else have an idea as to how to do this?

Reusing old sound-card dongles

An idea that was a bit off-topic, but worth pursuing was contributed by George, VE3YV/K8HI. He said, “Another approach is to cut off the USB plug and re-purpose it as a soundcard adapter for working digital modes. I use old Plantronics headset USB dongles.” I like this idea a lot. I’m going to have to go find a dead headset with a good dongle and try this out.

From my Twitter feed: #hamradio t-shirts, cheap key, Broadband HamNet

I don’t usually include two Tweets from the same guy, but the two below from KE9V are great…Dan

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
Get the #hamradio Beefy-T shirt. ke9v.net/tees


ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
My straight key it’s nicer but this one is more affordable. #hamradio pic.twitter.com/F563k9QPJI


ZionArtis's avatar

Zion Artis KF4NOD @ZionArtis
I find this very interresting. Introduction to HSMM-MESH or Broadband-Hamnet: youtu.be/hUeW2ju-RZk via @YouTube

Am I being a grouch?

Yesterday, I received a GigaAlert that a British ham’s website contained a reference to “KB6NU.” I’m always curious about these links and clicked over to the fellow’s website.

What I found dismayed me a little. He not only had a link to my website, but had completely taken the text from one of my posts and re-posted it on his website. Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if it was just some ham who thought my post was interesting and wanted to share it with others. This guy, however, was trying to make money with his website, and had both advertising and an online store. Basically, he was stealing my content to attract hams to his website so that he could then sell them stuff.

I emailed him, asking him to remove my content. In reply, I got the following:

Firstly, any content that appears on my site is NOT “taken” from your site, i have feeds taken from QRZ.COM amongst others that get posted automatically to my site if they contain certain keywords. I’d never even heard of you or your blog until i received your email.

As iv’e never taken or copied anything directly off your site, i’d have to delete the feeds i have set up from other sites, which i’m NOT prepared to do. I notice that one or two of said posts actually promote a book youv’e written, so you in effect are getting FREE publicity ANYWAY !

I SUGGEST YOU STOP BEING SUCH A GROUCH and get over yourself. Your email hardly promotes the “spirit of amateur radio”. By the way if google has you at #1, it’s because your content and links appear on MANY MANY sites.

In order to delete these above mentioned feeds, many many other posts would be omitted and/or deleted from the automated feed system i have set up on my site, so as previously stated, i am NOT prepared to delete my feeds.

So, not only was he stealing my content, he was doing it automatically. And, I’m not the only one he’s stealing content from. He’s stealing content from many of the more popular amateur radio bloggers.

My reply to him was:

No matter how you’re getting my content, you’re still stealing it, and you’re stealing it from all the other bloggers as well. I would suggest that stealing is also not “in the spirit of amateur radio.”  Putting links on your site is one thing, but reposting entire posts is copyright infringement. It’s as simple as that.

One of the things that bugs me the most is that he somehow feels that he’s not responsible because it’s the software on his site that is copying my content. I know that web hosting companies take a dim view of copyright infringement, and I’m considering contacting them about this.

I haven’t yet gotten a reply to this message, but I thought I’d throw it open to you. Am I being unreasonable here?

Have a vision

Yesterday, while reading the book Language Intelligence: Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady GaGa, they used as an example Bill Clinton’s acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic convention. Here’s an excerpt:

Of all the things that George Bush has ever said that I disagree with, perhaps the thing that bothers me most is how he derides and degrades the American tradition of seeing and seeking a better future. He mocks it as the “vision thing.”

But just remember what the Scripture says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

I hope nobody in this great hall tonight, or in our beloved country has to go through tomorrow without a vision. I hope no one ever tries to raise a child without a vision. I hope nobody ever starts a business or plants a crop in the ground without a vision. For where there is no vision, the people perish.

One of the reasons we have so many children in so much trouble in so many places in this nation is because they have seen so little opportunity, so little responsibility, so little loving, caring community, that they literally cannot imagine the life we are calling them to lead.

And so I say again: Where there is no vision, America will perish.

Of course, amateur radio is just a hobby, but doing great things always starts with a vision. If you have a vision for what you want to do in amateur radio, there’s more of a chance that you’ll do something fun and exciting. That could be providing emergency communications or building a software-defined radio or even writing amateur radio license study guides. It might seem that encouraging you to have a vision about a hobby is taking it a bit far, but seriously, you will have more fun with amateur radio if you think about what drew you to the hobby in the first place and then set some goals. Doing so will keep you engaged and help you do cool things.