Find Hams in Your Area

I’ve blogged about finding hams in your area before:

A recent thread on the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list prompts me to revisit this topic, though. The replies list four different websites that you can use to find out this information:

The first two, the FCC ULS and QRZ.Com, produce text listings. The latter two map out each ham’s location. One feature of the FCC website that the others don’t have is that you can get information on nearly any licensee of the FCC. There’s a dropdown menu that lets you specify a particular service.

I typed in my zip code – 48103 – into each website. The FCC returned 177 hams, QRZ.Com 143, Where Are  All the Hams? 140, and the Ham Locator 139. I’m not sure why they all differ, but my guess for why the FCC number is so much higher than the others is that it includes hams whose licenses have expired.

Vatican Radio: Study Says RF Levels Are Too High

As I’ve often mentioned, many of us started out as shortwave listeners (SWLs). It’s also true that SW broadcasting isn’t what it used to be. Nearly everyone, except the Chinese, have cut back their broadcasting schedules. Heck, the BBC doesn’t even broadcast to North America anymore.

Vatican Radio

So, it’s hard to report bad news concerning a long-time SW broadcaster. The latest is that a court-ordered study in Italy has warned of “important risks” of dying of  for people who had resided at least 10 years within a nine-kilometre (5.5-mile) radius of the radio station’s antenna towers near Cesano, about 12 miles north of Rome.A Rome judge ordered the report in 2005 as part of an investigation into a complaint filed in 2001 by Cesano residents who alleged health hazards posed by the electromagnetic waves.

“There has been an important, coherent and meaningful correlation between exposure to Vatican Radio’s structures and the risk of leukaemia and lymphoma in children,” the report said, according to the daily La Stampa. The charges are so serious that there’s talk of indicting some Vatican Radio officials on charges of manslaughter.

The Vatican, of course, disputes this study, but it’s hard to say who will win the case. To read more, here are a few links:

Test Your Hearing Online

Hearing is very important for ham radio operators. Knowing how well you hear—and taking the appropriate steps to correct any deficiencies—could help you become a better operator.

Personally, I used to have really great hearing when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older, I can tell that my hearing has dropped off. Thankfully, this decline hasn’t been dramatic, but it is noticeable.

In his latest column, Rich Pell, of Audio DesignLine, lists four websites that can help you evaluate your hearing. They include:

  • a high-frequency response and hearing test,
  • a test to measure the relative sensitivity of your ears to different frequencies,
  • a test to measure your ability to hear int he presence of noise, and
  • a test for tone deafness.

He notes, “The best results will only be obtained using a decent pair of headphones under quiet conditions.”

FCC releases RF spectrum online tool

According to Martin Rowe of Test&Measurement World magazine:

The FCC has released a beta version of its Spectrum Dashboard, an online tool for locating who is using the RF spectrum. You can search by location, by frequency, by name, or by license category. The Spectrum dashboard cover the frequency band from 225 MHz to 3700 MHz, which means the commercial, AM and FM broadcast bands are not included. Also excluded are VHF broadcast frequencies from 184 MHz to 216 MHz. This frequency band was formerly used for analog VHF channels 7 through 13. It’s still used for digital broadcast TV, although the channel numbers don’t necessarily correspond to the analog-era TV channels. For example, a DTV channel 7 might operate on what was the 6-MHz band that was formerly used for analog channel 9, but the station may still call itself channel 7.The Spectrum Dashboard can be a useful tool for finding who is broadcasting in year area. That can help with RF testing or EMC emissions tests where you need to identify sources of ambient emissions.

Unbelievable!

This from Jim, WB8AZP, via the ARROW mailing list:

Buried in the middle of the 1200-page Health Care Reform package is something that should be disturbing to all US amateur radio operators. Embedded in the funding guidelines section 415, paragraph 27, line 45, are details on one of the mechanisms that the government intends to employ to help pay for the staggering costs of the new plan.

To put it simply, the new health care guidelines support the notion of creative funding from untapped resources, and from other government agencies, like the FCC. This puts the burden on funding on other agencies, and therefore the health care reform pundits can claim that “they” didn’t introduce any new taxes to pay for everything.

Lurking in the depths of the new health carecare package is a time bomb waiting to affect all US Amateur Radio Operators; The new Talk And Pay (TAP) Tax.. What does the TAP Tax do? Well, just as it implies, it adds a tax on to each amateur license, based on usage of the bands.

The FCC knew it was going to be troublesome to enforce this kind of regulation, so they came up with a clever scheme – taxation by license class. All Technician, General, and Extra Class Licensees will be taxed at a different rate. Any holdover licenses from different classes will be taxed at the next higher rate, so novice license holders will be taxed as technicians, advanced holders as extra class licensees and so on. The logic is that higher class licenses can use more of the frequencies; therefore they pay a larger percentage. There are even paragraphs that define taxing stations that haven’t operated, (although you have to prove that by filing a waiver), stations where the license holder has become a silent key (a different waiver), and repeater or space stations (when the license is held by a non-profit group, you can apply for a waiver as well). They legislators have even thought of the mechanism to capture revenue from youngsters, in their special Tax On Eventual Earnings (TOE) tax. So, a youngster who is not working will pay into a TOE TAP TAX account, in the form of a debit owed to the government. Even retirees do not escape this tax, as there is a provision for the SNAP TAP TAX (Sure Not Accounting for Productivity).

There does seem to be a provision for testing down to a previous license class, so you can get a tax break by forfeiting your current license class, (after taking a new 50 question written exam, and paying a hefty 45 dollar examination fee). You’ll be then required to sign BCKTP in CW or “slash Back Tap” in voice.

This looks to be pretty well thought out. I stopped reading after seeing the FCC amateur radio entry. It appears that Cell phones and wireless data networks will be next. There are 20 other government agencies listed in the document. Where will this insanity end? All of this is scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2011, because there apparently wasn’t enough time to implement it before then.

If this doesn’t negatively impact the growth of amateur radio, I don’t know what will! I think it will also promote the notion of going really underground, and not using your callsign at all., actually a practice that I’ve already heard lots of people adopt, especially on VHF.

I called my congressman after reading all of this, and he said that there are already proposals being filed to allow credit for amateur radio operators involved in public service, and he called it the Support for Individuals Desiring to Engage in Services Training, Education, and Planning (SIDESTEP). That makes me feel a little better.

I think it just might be time to get rid of my gear, before all this TOE TAP, SNAP TAP, BACK TAP, and SIDESTEP stuff goes into affect. Once again, the government is here to help you.

Rate Me on eHam.Net

Google Alerts notified me today that eHam is now rating ham radio blogs. So, if you like this blog, please head on over to eHam and select Blogs from the drop-down menu there. To add your rating, you have to click on the stars on the right.

Thanks!

Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Electronics

Here are some tips from ConsumerReports.Org about spring cleaning your electronics:

  • Be clean: Keep your computer hardware germ-free.
  • Don’t clean your HDTV with Windex.
  • 4 tips to speed up your PC.

Read the complete story.

Michigan’s Proposed Tower Law

This is from Len Todd, N8AGS, MTL Project Manager, N8AGS@arrl.net. If you’re in Michigan, please contact your state legislators……..Dan

Status Report – March 10, 2010

We have changed the name of the PRB-1 Project to a name that fits the proposed law better and more accurately describes its intent. We now call it the Michigan Tower Law because it will standardize acceptable tower heights across Michigan. Currently, there is no Michigan tower law. Each local government makes up its own tower ordinance. Unfortunately, lack of a standardized Michigan law has resulted in a patchwork of “acceptable” tower heights. The resulting range of acceptable tower height is from ZERO feet to 200 feet.

That’s right, you read it. ZERO feet is considered an acceptable tower height in some Michigan communities. We also currently have one Michigan community in which there is no ordinance against a ham tower. However, the government apparently interprets that to mean that ham towers are prohibited. They are currently refusing a ham a building permit for a proposed 30’ tower.

The proposed Michigan Tower Law basically reads that with ham towers up to 90’, the local governments leave us alone. Over 90’, you may be directed to the Board of Appeals and may have to use the Federal PRB-1 protection that we currently have to “educate” the Board. If that fails, with towers over 90’, then we are right back where we are now. But… with our bill passed, under 90’ we are left alone. What ham would refuse such protection?

Well to fairly answer the question, I would have to say about 99% of the Michigan hams apparently are refusing such protection, even if it is to help themselves. Apparently, 99% of our 22,000+ hams are not taking the time to support themselves and their own hobby. Personally, I am appalled at the relatively total lack of hams that will NOT take the time to contact their Legislators to get this Bill passed. Everyone must figure that saving our hobby is up to the next guy! This is a slippery slope we are on here! Well, anyway… so much for the rant!

Current Status of HB # 5556
The Michigan Proposed Tower Law is currently in Michigan’s House of Representatives Committee on Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs. Representative Lindberg, the Bill’s original Sponsor, is asking the Committee Chairperson to move on the Bill. This is the normal practice to get the Committee to function on the Bill. Once the bill is accepted or modified by the Committee. It moves to the House Floor for discussion and/or vote. If there are enough interested Representatives, the Bill passes the vote.

Now is the time to write, call and personally contact your Michigan Representative. If you have already written a letter, it is time to call. If you have already called, it is time to seek out your Rep out for a face-to-face discussion. This Bill will only move if you move it!

So… please take a moment to contact your Representative to ask to him/her co-sponsor the amendment to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, HB #5556.

How to Contact a Michigan House Representative
First off, I personally thank all of you who have already contacted your legislative Reps!

A copy of the Draft Bill can be found at: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2009-HB-5556

A Legislative District map is available at: http://www.prb1michigan.org/id36.html

A list of Representatives for each district is available below. It includes district numbers, names, phone numbers and email addresses: http://house.michigan.gov/replist.asp

A Contact Letter Template is available at: http://www.prb1michigan.org/id18.html

Here Are the Steps to Follow

  1. Review the above linked draft Bill.
  2. Go to the above linked Legislative District Map. Identify, by the county that you live in, your House District Number.
  3. Go to the above linked List of House Reps, identify, by district number, your Rep’s name and e-mail address/phone number.
  4. Go to the above linked Legislative Contact Letter Template and get the Template in the format that you need for your word processor. Prepare your letter by addressing it to your Rep and adding you signature, address. Tailor the letter to your words as you see fit.
  5. Print and mail hardcopy letter or cut and paste the text of your letter into an email. Avoid attachments to e-mails.
  6. Send that letter/e-mail or make a call and express the content of your letter to the Rep’s staff.

It is critical that you now take the time to contact you Michigan House Rep and ask the Rep to support House Bill # 5556!

Senate Bill – Status
We have not been able to get a firm commitment of support from a Michigan Senator. Unfortunately, there is no Senator that is a ham. We are seeking support from several potential Sponsors, but thus far the response has been somewhat cold. It could be that Michigan’s budget issues are also precluding this body of government from considering our Bill. However, we continue to press our contacts.

If you have a solid connection with your Senator, we ask you to consider working directly with us to contact that Senator and solicit the Senator’s support for our Bill. If you would like to tackle this approach, please contact me for some sample letters and other supporting documents.

Funding
We are currently about $400 overspent. Individual monetary donations can be sent to Dale, WA8EFK at the following address:

Michigan ARRL PRB-1 Committee
291 Outer Drive
Dundee, MI 48131

If you are a leader of an Emergency Services organization, donations toward our effort can also be sent to the same address.

Get a Charge Out of This Book

Sorry, I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’ve been very busy with work. At any rate here’s a press release that I received yesterday:

The BatteryPRAISE FOR THE BATTERY

“An irresistibly entertaining history of electricity from the point of view of the humble battery…high-quality popular-science writing.”—Kirkus

“Henry Schlesinger’s fascinating and superbly researched history of the battery is the story of civilization as we know it…. I’ll never see the humble D cell in quite the same way again!”*—Michael Belfiore, author of The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Shaping Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs

“Schlesinger provides an illuminating historical account of a device whose enormous influence has been downplayed or misunderstood…Combining enormous learning with a lively and entertaining style…—Publishers Weekly

“Author Henry Schlesinger is playful, intelligent and obscenely well read…He not only traces the roots of portable power but he’s wise enough to spotlight the odd by-ways and strange turns such as medieval magnetic engineers, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, twitching frog legs and the Electric Girl Lighting Company.”—Richard Zacks, author of An Underground Education and the best-selling The Pirate Hunter

“… a fascinating history of human innovation spanning three millennia…The Battery is as sparky and as versatile as its subject.”&mdmash;Ken Jennings, NYT Bestselling Author of Brainiac, greatest champion in Jeopardy!

“From its witty subtitle to its lively writing style, to its sheer abundance of fascinating and frequently surprising stories, this is a delightful book…the technological equivalent of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod.”—Booklist

A Scientific American Book Club Selection

PUBLICATION DATE: MARCH 16TH 2010

The Ham That Has Everything?

These two photos were e-mailed to me with the subject line, “The Ham That Has Everything.”


ham that has everything 1

ham that has everything 2

My comment is that I bet this ham doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend!