From my Twitter feed: future of SDR, Dayton review, fritzing

The Future of SDR – Fat-Pipe vs. Thin-Pipe


Dayton in the Rearview Mirror | Smoke Curls #hamr


This looks like an interesting and easy to use PCB package -

A long, hot Day One at Dayton

Well, I made it through the first day at Dayton. I say first day, but it really was my second. Opn Thursday, I attended the Four Days in May seminar put on by the QRP-ARCI. This is a great event, which I’ll write more about later.

My day started very early. I always have trouble sleeping in hotels, and last night was no exception. I woke up about 2:30 am, and didn’t get back to sleep until 4 am. I got up for good at 6:30. Ugggh. At least breakfast was good. The Homewood Suites where I am staying serves a hot breakfast, including waffles, eggs, and sausages.

I got on the 7:30 bus, which, of course,didn’t leave on time, and then got stuck in rush hour traffic. It was after 8:30 by the time we arrived at Hara Arena. Then, there was some confusion with my speaker badge. I finally got that about 9:15, and that only left me with about a half hour to look around the flea market before my 10 am talk.

The talk went really well, I think. There was a good crowd, and my message was well- received. During the Q and A, one of the attendees, a teenager, gave my study guides a big plug. He said that he had used them to get his Tech and General.

The forum lasted until almost noon. Iwas pretty tired already by then,but I still tramped around the flea market and the inside of the arena. I saw some interesting things, but my heart wasn’t really into it. I didn’t buy a single thing. I did see a lot of people I know, including a couple of guys that were in a recent Tech class. That was fun.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little more sleep tonight and really attack the hamfest tomorrow.

Got a tip? Get a book.

I’m already up to a dozen subscribers!
To get on the list, click on the link below.

I’m starting something new here on KB6NU.Com: KB6NU’s Ham Radio Tip of the Day. The plan is for this to be separate from the blog, appearing in your e-mail inbox every day. The e-mail will contain a single tip. For example,

If a deal at a hamfest seems too good to be true, it probably is. A couple of years ago at the Dayton Hamvention, I found a Vibroplex bug for only $50. When I got it home, I discovered that the silver-plated contacts had been filed, making it practically useless. Fortunately, I was able to purchase new contacts, but that cost me $45, making the deal not nearly as good as it first appeared.

I already have more than a month’s worth of tips to get me started, but I will also use user-submitted tips. If I use your tip, I’ll send you one of my books. Also, every week, I will randomly select one of the subscribers and send them one of my books.

To subscribe to the newsletter, simply click on the link below.

Subscribe to KB6NU’s “Ham Radio Tip of the Day” newsletter

Upcoming amateur radio events

KB6NU teaching the Jan. 14, 2012 One-Day Tech Class

Me making a point (apparently about SWR) at a recent One-Day Tech Class

Here are some upcoming amateur radio events here in Ann Arbor, MI:

  1. VE Testing. ARROW, the club here in Ann Arbor, conducts an amateur radio license test session ever second Saturday of the month at the Washtenaw County Red Cross, 4624 Packard Rd., Ann Arbor (map).

    Preregistration is recommended but walkins are welcome. Contact Mark Goodwin – W8FSA (734-944-0730), Beverley Stoner – K8ZJU (734-424-9446), or Ralph Katz – AA8RK (734-663-1288), for more information, and to register for the test.

  2. University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club’s 100th Anniversary Special Event Station. The University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary by operating a special event station on Sunday, April 14 on the Diag on central campus. Setup is going to start around 1300Z. We’re hoping to start operating around 1400Z and continue until around 2200Z. If you’re in or near Ann Arbor, please come down and operate with us. If not, listen for us on the bands.
  3. One-Day Tech Class, Saturday, April 27. I’ll be conducting the next one-day Tech Class on Saturday, April 27, at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Go to for more details.

I’m a TV star (well, on community TV, anyway)

Randy, N1NEZ, asked me to speak about amateur radio for his community TV show, “Exploring Hobbies.” This was a lot of fun. We did over a half hour on amateur radio, and we only touched on some things.

From my Twitter feed: former ham fined, kickstarting science, science joke

FCC Fines Former Missouri Ham

Kickstarting science: How a new generation of researchers are crowdfunding collaborative projects: (via @Salon)

Asked a librarian for that book on Schrodinger’s cat and Pavlov’s dogs today. Said it rang a bell but she didn’t know if it was there or not

Amateur radio in the news: School Roundup in WA, Laporte (IN) hamfest, the magic of ham radio

Middle schoolers in North Bend, WA participate in the School Roundup.

Two Rivers calling: Ham radio roundup connects students with learning moments
After a slow morning of attempting to contact other ham radio operators, middle-schoolers at Two Rivers School in North Bend enjoyed an afternoon chatting with people all over the world, as part of the annual School Club Roundup.

Amateur radio enthusiasts flock to La Porte for annual event
For one man it was the discovery of a nearly 100-year-old radio in his attic. For another, it was a Christmas gift that connected him to voices from around the world. And for a third, it was his father’s military career that led him into the world of amateur radio. Hundreds like them gathered in La Porte on Saturday for the annual Cabin Fever Hamfest at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

Magic Valley Ham Radio Operators Share the Fun
Video allows Magic Valley (ID) amateurs share the magic of our hobby.

From my Twitter feed: Hacking a ham radio, KX3 video, sleeping cat

This is very cool…

Amateur Radio: Hacking a Ham Radio

Build a KX3 in a minute

You can watch a Video on youtube about building the #Elecraft #KX3

Who doesn’t like cats? I used to have a cat that slept like this.

?????-Sunny spot and Maru.-: #cats

From my Twitter feed: NASA, ARRL, SDR

NASA Communications via Hams: via @youtube#hamradio

Leaders in our hobby should embrace those that self identify as willing to help. Listen to their ideas, support their enthsiasm.#hamr

Thoughts on the new FlexRadio Systems SmartSDR Slices Video

From Father to Son

Tom, W1PDI, sent me this story a couple of days ago. I love stories like this, and I hope that you will, too…….Dan

Tom W1PDI in 1967

The author in 1967, copying Morse out of his Dad’s Heathkit HR-20. The rest of the station consisted of a DX- 40 transmitter, an AM-2 SWR bridge and an SB-600 speaker.

If I was a little older at the time, I might have guessed what my dad was up to. The signs were there: a Knight- Kit Span Master shortwave radio for Christmas in 1962, followed by a pair of Knight-Kit walkie talkies the following year and a CB radio–yes, another Knight-Kit– as a Christmas gift in 1964. To this day I can still remember my CB call sign, KKB1757.

It was early in 1966 that my dad had something else to share with me–a Morse code practice oscillator he had built. That’s when things started to become a little clearer and make sense. He suggested that if I learned both the code and some basic technical information that I could take a test to move up from my CB radio status to obtaining a ham “ticket,” just like he had.

Growing up, I can remember all kinds of radio equipment around the house. My dad’s ham gear was set up in an attic loft, along with many years’ worth of QST magazines neatly organized by year. And how could I forget his framed Amateur Radio license, which he’d had as long as I could remember?

I studied the ARRL How to Become a Radio Amateur handbook, learned the required 5 WPM code requirement, took my test and received my Novice license, WN1GLS, in the spring of 1966. Even before my license arrived, Dad excitedly began to assemble and set up the necessary Novice equipment in my bedroom. It included his Heathkit HR-20 receiver, a DX-40 transmitter that he brought home from work one day and a matching Heathkit AM-2 SWR bridge. We re- routed the Lattin Radio Labs 5-band dipole lead into my “shack” and now I was ready to operate. All I needed was my license.

Two Hams for the Price of One
For me, one of the great byproducts of becoming a ham was that it renewed my father’s interest in the hobby. My dad, who was a long time engineer at radio station WELI in Hamden, Connecticut, even started a local ham radio club that was sponsored by the station and he was trustee of the club’s license, WA1HRC.

During the next few years we held our club meetings in the radio station’s remote building, where the emergency on-air studio was housed. It was there that we built and operated our club station of Heathkit equipment. I recall how we built other equipment, including a 15 meter Yagi one Saturday at the radio station after my dad convinced the broadcast station to purchase and erect a 50-foot crank-up tower. We participated in several Field Day adventures and even made a few trips to ARRL Headquarters.

My interest in Amateur Radio faded when I went to college in 1972 and my dad lost interest soon thereafter. He soon left his position with the radio station to start a two-way radio sales and service company that eventually led to a very successful commercial mobile/cellular

In 1981 I returned to the air and was active for a few years, and again this renewed my father’s interest in returning to the hobby. As a birthday gift in 1982, I presented him with the exact same equipment I was using at the time: a Kenwood TS-520SE transceiver and matching AT200 antenna tuner.

By 1983 my level of activity waned once again and I sold my equipment. My father kept his gear and was active until around 1988. During his “active” period I helped him put up a 160-meter long wire. Dad constructed some RTTY equipment and wrote an article about the experience that appeared in the June 1985 issue of 73 magazine.

QST–Calling All Amateurs
After my dad retired and he and Mom moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1991, I always assumed that he sold his equipment, among other things, prior to the move. My father passed away in August 2002. Shortly after, I made it a point to notify the ARRL and requested that he be remembered among other silent keys in QST.

John, W1PDI

John Miller, W1PDI (SK), at his operating position in 1984, with a Kenwood TS- 520SE transceiver and some homebrew RTTY gear.

Later that year I received in the mail the December 2002 issue of QST, which surprised me because I hadn’t been a member of the ARRL in well over 30 years and I hadn’t seen a copy of QST since the early 1980s. But in that issue my father’s listing appeared in the silent keys column. To this day I am not sure who sent me that issue of QST.

For several weeks I found myself going through that issue of QST over and over again, looking at the advertisements, reading articles and trying to understand some of the unfamiliar terms that were nonexistent 20 years earlier. All the while I asked myself, “Why was it that I hadn’t thought about getting back into the hobby again? If I had done so earlier, maybe I could have renewed my father’s interest for a third time.” We could have scheduled contacts and my children would have loved the opportunity of “getting on the radio” with their grandfather.

In early December 2002 my mom came to stay with us for a few weeks. One day she noticed the issue of QST that I had been thumbing through and said something to me that seemed to make time stand still. She said that my father had kept a lot of his ham equipment and asked if I wanted what he saved. When I asked why he kept the equipment, her reply was simply, “He wanted you to have all of it because he had hoped someday you would become interested in ham radio again.”

Because of that December 2002 issue of QST, my interest in returning to the air was already there. But now, learning that I had access to some equipment and that it was kept with the hope that I might someday want to return to the hobby, well, the timing was right. Arrangements were made to have the equipment shipped to me in January 2003 and I was back on the air by early February.

The Final Courtesy
Not only did my father keep the Kenwood equipment I had given him as a birthday gift 20 years earlier, but to my surprise the packages of equipment that arrived that day included more than I ever could have imagined.

That shipment also included nearly all of the original equipment that my dad had set up for me when I first received my Novice ticket: the Heathkit HR-20 receiver, my DX-40 transmitter, matching SWR bridge, my first code key–with his call sign and mine still on the

mounting board–and even the SB-600 Heathkit speaker that I bought while still a novice. Also included were QSL cards my dad received over the years, all of his logbooks, his original Vibroplex bug from 1947 and a handful of his own original QSL cards from 1946. What a treasure.

Life is full of odd circumstances. If it were not for the unexpected December 2002 QST showing up in the mail, plus the fact that unknown to me Dad had kept his ham equipment, I seriously doubt that I would be back on the air today enjoying Amateur Radio like it was 1966 all over again. Well, maybe not exactly like 1966, since Amateur Radio certainly has changed since then.

As a way to remember my dad, in April 2003 I applied for and was granted the amateur call he held from 1946 to 2002, W1PDI. I just had to keep my dad’s call sign in the family. It’s good to be back in ham radio, but I just wish I had the chance to once again renew my dad’s interest in the hobby that he first introduced to me nearly 40 years ago.

Tom Miller, W1PDI, was first licensed in 1966 as WN1GLS, and upgraded to General a year later at the age of 13 with WA1GLS. He continues to operate the equipment he inherited from his father and is very active on a number of nets, including the 3905 Century Club and OMISS. He enjoys contesting, QSO parties and paper chasing. Miller’s other interests include spending time with his children, sports car racing and baseball. He lives in Bay Village, Ohio, and can be reached via e-mail at

Two generations of W1PDI
W1PDI QSLsAlso included with the equipment my dad kept were a dozen or so old QSTs from the 1950s and ’60s. In one issue, January 1965, on page 74, was the announcement of the commemorative Amateur Radio stamp, first released in Alaska. It was in this issue that I found a block of the commemorative stamps my father must have placed there to preserve them. That, along with it being the stamp’s 40th anniversary, is what prompted me to design my current QSL card. On the back of my new card, I’ve included a tiny version of the lightning-throwing baby in the corner and a note that my dad held my current call sign from 1946 through 2002.