Random Links

Here are some more links to websites that ham radio ops will find amusing and/or useful:

  • Climbing a really tall tower. Ever wonder what it’s like to climb a tower nearly 1,800 feet tall? Watch this video.
  • Software for people who build things. Although some of the software on this site is fairly old, it also has an amazingly huge collection of hints and kinks on a wide variety of topics. For example, there is a great tip on how to estimate a tap or drill size.
  • Social networking for hams. Although most hams seem to be anti-social, not all of us are. This is a website for those that aren’t.
  • QRQ CW Info, Ops, and Tips. More social networking, but for hams that like to work CW at high speeds. Most of these guys go a lot faster than I can, but I’m hoping to learn something from them.

A Quick Review of the Top Ham Radio Blogs According to Google

I often claim that I have the #1 ham radio blog, according to Google. This is true. When you type in “ham radio blog” or “amateur radio blog” into Google, I come out on top. I don’t know how good this recommendation actually is, and it certainly doesn’t mean that my blog is the most widely-read, but it’s better to be rated #1 on Google than #100. :)

Having said that, I thought I’d do a quick review of the other blogs that appear on the first page of the Google search results:

Ham Radio Blog by DL6KAC – Talking about Ham and Amateur Radio, SEO, & More. This blog is no more.  The last post was on May 2, 2010, and notes, “Today I decided to shut down ham-blogs.net.” It has only ten posts since the beginning of the year, and only three or four of those had amateur radio content.

K2DBK’s Ham Radio Blog. K2DBK’s content is a lot like mine–a lot of personal musings and reports on his operations. The content is mostly interesting, especially the “Ham Tools” series, but I didn’t really like the design. White type on a black background is too hard to read.

Ham Radio – a Contact Sport. I liked the story on the ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) and some of the other stories, but there just wasn’t enough of them. This blog has only eight posts in 2010.

IW5EDI: Ham Operator in Florence. I liked this blog for a couple of reasons: 1. The header has a great aerial photograph of Florence, a city that I love, and 2. IW5EDI’s writing style. For example, his post on why he recently chose the Palstar  Palstar PM2000 A/M power meter/SWR meter over the DAIWA CN-801 was well-written and useful, and my philosophy is that blogs should be useful as well as interesting.

Ke9v.net. KE9V blogs prolifically on a wide variety of topics, not just ham radio. For example, he’s recently blogged on the most recent Debian Linux distro, Android cellphones and the “Culture of Death.” On the current homepage, only two of the ten posts were ham radio related.

N0UN’s Ham Radio Blog: My Ham Radio Experiences Through the Years. This blog has some interesting and useful posts, but they are few and far between. The last post was on May 30,2010, and there were only three posts in all of 2010.

W2LJ’s Blog – QRP – Doing More With Less. Larry, W2LJ, is an on-air friend of mine, and I’m glad to see that his blog has edged it’s way onto the first page of search results. Like me, he likes to mix the personal and the technical, and his blog is up-to-date. Worth reading.

Well, that’s it for page 1 of the Google search results. I’m kind of surprised that some of the blogs that made this list were relatively inactive, but I guess that it would be difficult for Google to automatically figure that out.

Happy reading!

Three New Web Resources

Here are a couple of new web resources that I have found out about recently:

  1. The Portable Antenna.This is John, KC8ZTJ’s new blog on his experiments with QRP operation and portable antennas.
  2. W1PID.Com. Jim, W1PID, operates a lot of QRP mobile. This website chronicles many of his adventures, and include a lot of nice pictures, like the one below.
  3. Clip.Com. Break the belt clip on your HT or buy a used one without a clip? Try this website. If they don’t have an exact replacement, you might be able to use one of the generic clips that they sell.

Take Everything With a Grain of Salt

I love the Internet. Heck, I make my living developing websites and producing content that appears on the Internet. And, it’s really a great source of information.

Unfortunately, it can also be a great source of misinformation. What prompts me to say this is a posting that I just ran across on eHow.Com. Titled, “How to Wire a Studio Microphone Cable for the Icom IC 735,” the article purports to tell you how to use a studio microphone with this HF transceiver.

Just about everything written is factually incorrect. For example, the author says:

The Icom IC 735 is a now discontinued HF transceiver designed for home-based radio frequency use. While using the transceiver, one can communicate with other individuals through an attached microphone. The microphone is XLR-based, allowing the user to run a microphone to the standalone receiver via a single XLR cable. To hear the communications, a pair of headphones is inserted into the microphone port on the front of the Icom IC 735.

He got the part about it being discontinued right, but everything else in that paragraph is wrong! I usually just blow off these nonsense postings, but in this case, I just couldn’t let this go.

Perhaps it’s because I have owned several IC-735s in the past and have recommended them to several of my friends, but also because I could imagine some new ham who just purchased an IC-735 at a hamfest somewhere trying to figure out how to connect his microphone to the rig. He reads this article, then goes to the nearest Radio Shack and buys an XLR connector, only to find out it’s not the one he needs. How frustrating!

Fortunately, eHow allows you to flag an article if it has incorrect information. I’ve done this, and I would encourage you to do something similar should you run into the same kind of misinformation on eHow or other websites.

Having said all that, and planting my tongue firmly in my cheek, let me assure you that anything you read here on KB6NU.Com is completely factually correct and you can trust it implicitly.

The New ARRL Website

I recently got an e-mail from a reader who wondered why he was the only one to have commented here on the ARRL’s new website. “Alas,” he asked, “Am I the only user left on the ARRL site, or are all of the new hams simply illiterate and just looking at the pictures, or, are they all only hanging around eHam.net these days”?

My reply was, “I don’t think that most hams give a hoot about the new ARRL website.”

My take on it is that it’s a fancier design, but it’s not any easier to use than the old one. In fact, in some important ways, it’s more difficult. For example, there used to be links on the home page to the club search and exam search pages. Now, you have to make two or three clicks to get to those pages.

I cruised around the club section a bit and didn’t note any new content there. My gripe about the old website was that the content really needed some updating. In my short foray onto the new site, I’d have to say the same thing. The only thing that the new site adds is a new wrapper. Of course, I have to admit that my brief bit of web-browsing was not very extensive, so this criticism may be unfair.

What do you think? Do you think it was worth all the time and money they spent on it?

The Transistor Museum Dedicated to Preserving the History of Semiconductors

The Transistor Museum’s tagline is “Dedicated to Preserving the History of the Greatest Invention of the 20th Century,” and it does a pretty good job of it. On this website you’ll find articles on:

  • The First Germanium Hobbyist Transistors
  • Early Transistors at Motorola
  • The First Transistor in Space
  • Norman Krim, the Father of the CK722 Transistor
  • a whole lot more

Like all good museums, they also have a museum store. They sell a couple of books on the early semiconductors as well as some of those transistors themselves. They’re kind of pricey, though. A 2N60 or 2N609, for example, costs $20.

Who Said Teens Aren’t Into Ham Radio

Who says teenagers aren’t into ham radio? Check out TeenRadioJourney.Com. Written and produced by Paul, KC9QYB, this website contains both blog posts and podcasts for teenaged ham radio ops (as well as us OFs as well.)

The latest version, episode 14, talks about three aspects of Elmering, including:

  • promoting the hobby,
  • Elmering, and
  • study help.

There’s lots of other good stuff there, too.

AM/FM/2m?

The C. Crane Company has for many years sold radios that they claim have superior AM band performance. They used to advertise a lot on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, touting how the radio was capable of pulling in the show, even if your local station didn’t carry it. They probably still do, for all I know.

There is, of course, a ham radio connection. Art Bell, the longtime host of the show, is W6OBB.

At any rate, C. Crane is now selling the CC-Radio2, which not only touts it’s AM-band performance, but also includes coverage of the 2m ham band. The website says,

The addition of the 2-Meter Ham band may make the CCRadio-2 a life saver during an emergency like hurricane Katrina. 2-Meter Ham operators are early on the scene and they donate their time while handling perhaps 90% of the emergency coordination efforts. The CCRadio-2 can act like a simple radio scanner and search the five memories for ham operator communications. The sensitivity (squelch) can be adjusted for best results.

The C. Crane website has a whole Web page devoted to the 2m band and ham radio in general.

C. Crane sells a whole bunch of stuff that might be of interest to ham radio operators. It’s a site worth checking out.