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The News

ARRL's Logbook of The World Reaches New Milestones

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Since its inception on September 15, 2003, more than 30,000 hams have signed on to Logbook of The World (LoTW), ARRL's online logging program -- an increase of more than 7000 hams since 2008. These 30,000 hams have made upwards of 250 million QSOs -- more than 58 million QSOs in 2009 alone. In 2009, there was an increase of more than 24 percent for both the number of registered users and the number of QSOs over 2008.

Read more: ARRL Amateur Radio News


Nomination Deadline Closing Fast for ARRL International Humanitarian Award

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The deadline to nominate an amateur or group of amateurs for the 2009 ARRL International Humanitarian Award is coming up fast -- December 31, 2009. This award is conferred upon an amateur or amateurs who demonstrate devotion to human welfare, peace and international understanding through Amateur Radio. The League established the annual prize to recognize Amateur Radio operators who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to others in times of crisis or disaster.

Read more: ARRL Amateur Radio News


Everett L. Keener, W3HHY (SK):

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Everett L. Keener, 87, of Grafton, died on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. He was born on January 30, 1922 in Grafton a son of the late Everett Keener and Katherine Vincent Keener. He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Naomi Elizabeth Turner Keener, who passed away on November 28, 2000. He proudly served in the United States Army Air Force as a Staff Sergeant during World War II. Everett was a professor at West Virginia University in the Electrical Engineering School and was later employed at US Steel in Pittsburgh. Everett was a member of the Fetterman United Methodist Church. He was a member of the AF and A Masons Lodge number15 in Grafton and a member of the Elks in Grafton. He had been a HAM radio operator.

Read more: eHam.net News


Jerry Sevick, W2FMI (SK)

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Jerry Sevick, W2FMI -- renowned for his research and publications related to short vertical antennas and transmission line transformers -- passed away on Sunday, November 29. He was 90. In 2004, Sevick, an ARRL Technical Advisor, received the ARRL Hudson Division Technical Achievement Award; in 2005, he received the Dayton Hamvention Technical Excellence Award. The Hamvention Awards Committee noted that Sevick's April 1978 QST article on short ground-radial systems "now serves as the world's standard for earth conductivity measurements."

Read more: ARRL Amateur Radio News


Antenna Expert Jerry Sevick, W2FMI (SK):

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Jerry Sevick, W2FMI, became a Silent Key on November 29 after a brief illness. Sevick was a renowned authority on antennas and transmission line transformers, and was active on the air until just days before his passing. He was 90 years old. Sevick is best known among hams as author of "Transmission Line Transformers," "Building and Understanding Baluns and Ununs," and "The Short Vertical Antenna Handbook." He was also a prolific author of magazine articles in both amateur and professional technical media.

Read more: eHam.net News


Amateur Radio Operators Test Their Abilities:

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Earlier this month, amateur radio operators were given an opportunity to hone their skills during a "Simulated Emergency Test" in the Leavenworth area. The test involved members of the Leavenworth County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, otherwise known as the ARES. According to Paul Backs, the county ARES coordinator, it was a simulated test that was developed in order to observe the HAM radio operators' responsiveness during an emergency. Backs and his wife, Susan, said they have been interested in HAM radios for a long time. HAM radios are used by members of the ARES. "What happens when phone lines and cell phones have overloaded and don't work?" Backs asked. According to Backs, that is where the ARES comes in. When all other communication fails, he said the HAM radio network acts as a backup.

Read more: eHam.net News


Amateur Radio Operators in The Villages Share Their Hobby:

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THE VILLAGES -- Carol Bolling obtained her amateur radio license in 1981, but it was only when she moved to The Villages that she truly delved into what has become her choice pursuit. On Saturday, the Village of Rio Ponderosa resident joined fellow members of The Villages Amateur Radio Club for the 14th annual Radio on the Square event at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square Pavilion. These ham radio enthusiasts were on hand to educate area residents about ways to use this form of communication as well as to allow them to send "radiograms" to loved ones around the globe. Bolling, who was present to "help set up," watched as many of her counterparts strung wire around the pavilion and placed sizable antennas in specific areas. While some amateur radio operators focus on the emergency use of this often necessary mode of communication, Bolling mostly enjoys the "county hunting" aspect of it. She's contacted all 377 counties in the United States, twice, with the use of her ham radio.

Read more: eHam.net News


EmComm – Have We Forgotten Our Roots?

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Cold War Amateur Radio Operators,  EmComm, Appliance Operators and 9/11.  What is the linkage between these terms?


Cold War Amateurs is a term I recently ran into on another blog. As I understood it, the term relates to the older, more technically refined and highly respected generation of the Amateur Radio operators among us.  In my opinion, these are the guys who have the knowledge to create gear from a box full of parts and fix complex problems deep inside solid state radios.

At times you hear these guys on the HF bands with their quality audio conducting nets or having one on one discussions about equipment.  In the past, I was very fortunate to have met a number of these gentlemen while serving as an officer in the local Radio Clubs. What I learned from them and more importantly about them are wonderful memories which I will never forget.

EmComm is the new (digital sounding) acronym for a process which has always been the heartbeat of Amateur Radio. Traditional Amateur Operators made EmComm a part of their hobby mindset. There was no question about the loyalty of the Cold War Amateurs when this aspect of the hobby was put in motion.

If a true emergency occurred then, there was no direct EmComm chain of command to follow as there is today. Amateur Operators just knew it was their duty to participate in any way possible  and get through the problem at hand.

I volunteered to man Amateur Communications in a local high school during the Wildfires here on Long Island.  It was amazing to see the outpouring from local businesses. There were so many truckloads of food, water and clothing that they had to be turned away. Local repeaters were turned over to us and our local health and welfare traffic was handled smoothly and efficiently.

As I see it, Field Day is still the prime example of traditional EmComm. I know and knew many Cold War Amateurs who had long given up building equipment and working the bands but when field day rolled around, they would always show up to do their part.  Most did not stay but made damn sure that the operation was up and running satisfactorily before they went on with the rest of their day.

Back in the day, no Amateur operator I had met would have turned their back on this crucial aspect of the hobby. Why? Because we  knew that it was the underlying reason that the hobby existed in the first place. Hanging on to frequencies, like anything else has to be justified and EmComm was and is a big part of the reason that the Feds have not sold off our part of the spectrum… yet.

Appliance Operators, according to the post I read is the label that traditional Cold War Amateur Operators have given to some of the post Cold War Amateurs. These Amateurs do not possess the traditional knowledge and skill set held by the Cold War generation.

I suspect that dumbing down of the license requirement and removing code as a rite of passage has given rise to this label. I actually think there is some shred of truth to this but the label will fade as the torch is passed to the next generation of Amateur Radio Operators. Let’s see, what what the term that was used on the older Amateur Community as they were coming up through the ranks? Was it LID?

Both labels have been pasted on my forehead at one time or another during my 27 years with the hobby. I don’t possess that refined knowledge to create RF circuits from a box of parts. My knowledge would barely fill a thimble if I compared myself to some of the  Amateur Operators that I have and had known over the years.  Labels are not productive but are just an unfortunate component of  human nature.

9/11 has changed much in the world. I know, that goes without saying. Getting something close to a strip search occurs every time you fly. Spot checks, occurrences of  racial profiling and cameras exist  everywhere.

9/11 also has changed the face of EmComm.  EmComm Managers no longer hold the same view of the volunteer Amateur Radio Operator.  Strict guidelines have been implemented within government.  At the center of the controversy is the fact that volunteer Amateur Operators can no longer directly communicate with Emergency Managers.

In summary, human nature leads some to believe that there is an embedded “caste system” within the Amateur Radio community. It appears that Cold War Amateur Operators look down upon the newer generation as Appliance Operators. As I mentioned previously, there is an element of truth to this but at the end of day, it will be the post Cold War Amateur Radio Operators that will mold the future of Amateur Radio.

EmComm is more important today then ever. I don’t know how many threats the government receives each year but the facts that are revealed do speak for themselves.

Try not to let anyone’s thinking (or your own) stand in your way when it comes to getting involved with Amateur Radio or EmComm. We all have different skill sets. We can all apply the skills we have toward the common good. Isn’t that what Amateur Radio (and life in general) is all about?

Comment’s Please!

Read more: Ham Radio - Ham Events - Ham Reviews - Ham Links - Ham News


Lightning: a New Tool for Measuring the Sun's Rotation Without Sunspots:

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This is one big surprise. Moments of serendipity are some of the best quotes of science: "Hmmm, that's odd". As an amateur radio operator myself, I find this study fascinating. If you want to know more about VLF radio, see the NASA online VLF radio receiver link below. TAU discovers an accurate tool for tracking solar rotation. Sunspots, which rotate around the sun's surface, tell us a great deal about our own planet. Scientists rely on them, for instance, to measure the sun's rotation or to prepare long-range forecasts of the Earth's health. But there are some years, like this one, where it's not possible to see sunspots clearly. When we're at this "solar minimum," very few, if any, sunspots are visible from Earth. That poses a problem for scientists in a new scientific field called "Space Weather," which studies the interaction between the sun and the Earth's environment. Thanks to a serendipitous discovery by Tel Aviv University's Prof. Colin Price, head of TAU's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science, and his graduate student Yuval Reuveni, science now has a more definitive and reliable tool for measuring the sun's rotation when sunspots aren't visible -- and even when they are. The research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research -- Space Physics, could have important implications for understanding the interactions between the sun and the Earth. Best of all, it's based on observations of common, garden-variety lightning strikes here on Earth.

Read more: eHam.net News


Why Linux/OSS for Amateur Radio?

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Fight The Power! AA6E recently posted a very nice article about LINUX Open Source Software and Ham Radio on his blog.  I appreciate this more than others. Here’s why!

The Power of LINUX and OSS


During my long journey as an IT Engineer, there were many under-the-radar “Skunk Works style projects” where I implemented OSS on LINUX.  However,  I was considered a corporate  techno-anarchist of sorts because LINUX and OSS fell outside the scope of the corporate mind-set ( not that there was ever much of that anyway).

Here’s a subset of AA6E’s first paragragh. Take a minute to read it and then follow the link to the remainder of the article.

How to explain to a non-computer-geek ham what Open Source Software and Linux are all about? OSS and Linux are important to software users the same way a good repair manual and schematics are important to hams. Not every ham knows what to do with schematics, but those who are inclined to open up, understand, repair, and modify their equipment certainly do.

Before you jump off, there’s two ideas I want to mention. Of course,  it assumes you are interested in digging the old P4 out of the closet and loading the very best KERNEL of all time.

One choice is to download and burn yourself a copy of CENTOS.  CENTOS is what we in the trade call whitebox Redhat. In a nutshell, CENTOS is an exact replica of Redhat with a huge advantage. Since it’s been totally recompiled and is freely distributed, you don’t need a subscription to get the O/S and package updates. What’s the drawback then?

Keep in mind though that CENTOS is not an O/S for those who want nothing more that another plug an play environment like the one you are probably using right now. There is some work involved to make certain things work (like plug-ins inside of Firefox).

Hence, the second recommendation for the experimenter in you. UBUNTU is also a 100% free and open source operating system. There are variants for normal desktop use (for hams) and an educational and children’s version as well.

What??? UBUNTU? Where does that come from?

Ubuntu is an African concept of ‘humanity towards others’. It is ‘the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’.

While I have not been digging around on the UBUNTU site lately, I have experimented with it in the past.  Since I am the ultimate techno-nerd, I gravitate toward choice number one.

As I recall, you can submit a request for your very own copy of the O/S on the Website and  receive it for free – nada – zilch ! Yep – no strings.  Of course you can also download and burn yourself  a copy. For the plug and play oriented crowd this O/S will bring you closer to the wonderful world of Windoze.

I always ask for comments guys!  Some are very generous while others are the meek of the earth. For god sakes… if you have something to say about LINUX or OSS, go for it!  Use a fake name if you want. It’s all for the betterment of the Ham community at large.

If you can’t say too much enter “like” or “dislike” in the comment field (believe me, I have thick German skin and a skull to match! You would have to go a great distance to offend my poor writing skills or lack of subject matter!).

Read AA6E’s full article here…

Posted using ShareThis

Read more: Ham Radio - Ham Events - Ham Reviews - Ham Links - Ham News


WIA National News On Video:

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Video footage of this weeks WIA National News presented by Bryan VK3HXR and Robert VK3DN is now available. The news broadcast was simultaniously audio recorded and video'd at the 'Eastern and Mountain District Radio Club' club rooms in Burwood. The video footage is available for download from the link below, it is suitable and recommended for rebroadcast via Amateur Television Repeaters.

Read more: eHam.net News


Tragic Death of 1996 Young Amateur of the Year Runner-Up:

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Read more: eHam.net News


Amateur Radio Grants Help Bob Jones Set Up Station:

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The Amateur Radio Relay League is in tune with training for Madison educators and students. Teachers attended a wireless technology institute this summer, while an on-site, school-based weather station is under construction at Bob Jones High School. ARRL grants are providing "real-world application and project-based assessment to our students in physics, engineering and astronomy," Bob Jones Assistant Principal Julie Finley said. Bob Jones received a grant for equipment from ARRL with its "Stations in Schools" program, which promotes amateur radio participation among youth. "Amateur radio is voice-only but operates on many frequencies and bands," said Dave Frederick, who sponsors the Amateur Radio Club and teaches physics and astronomy at Bob Jones. Initially, the Bob Jones station will operate on HF, VHF and UHF bands. Later, the station will expand to satellite communications channels and bands. "Around-the-globe voice communications will be possible for the student operators," Frederick said. In the future, the station will be capable of operating as a weather-monitoring and reporting station. Also, the Bob Jones site will receive National Weather Service bulletins. "An important consequence of the training and equipment that ARRL has provided to Madison City Schools will be the integration of wireless technology knowledge into the science programs of all schools - from elementary grades through high school," Frederick said. An ARRL grant paid for teachers from Madison schools to attend the 2009 Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. This training was held at various sites, including Roswell, N.M.; Rocklin, Calif.; and Tucson, Ariz.

Read more: eHam.net News


11-Meter Radio Mast Gets Thumbs Up from Planners:

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A RADIO mast which is more than 11 metres high at its peak has been given the go ahead in Stetton. Members of the borough council's development control committee backed the plans at their latest meeting last Wednesday. The committee heard the amateur radio mast, at a home on London Road, will be 5.5 metres when lowered and 11.6 metres at its height. It looks like a standard TV aerial. Members of Stretton Parish Council objected to the proposal based on visual impact when the mast was raised. They said it would be 'very large' and would disturb the neighbours close by. There were also four objections from neighbours who claimed it would be out of keeping with the area and could interfer with current TV reception in the area. But the committee was given expert evidence that Ofcom will regulate the aerial and that therefore it should not be a consideration. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) also told the planners that the erection of the aerial could be of value to the area for use in emergency situations.

Read more: eHam.net News


Attorney: City Plan Violates Law:

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Mustang officials have not answered an attorney's letter calling the city's actions regarding amateur radio an "error" and possible violation of federal law. Maryland attorney Christopher Imlay, representing the Amateur Radio Relay League, sent a seven-page letter to Mustang city officials on Nov. 6 by e-mail and U.S. mail. Within the text, he urged the city to rescind a certified letter officials sent to Mustang Heights resident John Ripley on Oct. 30 telling him to stop transmitting from his radio tower. If no action was taken, Imlay wrote the ARRL would seek a "declaratory ruling" from the Federal Communications Commission. Imlay said he had not received any response from Mustang city officials and plans to send another letter before filing with the FCC. "It's premature," he said. "We are not going to do anything until we find out what the intention of city is."

Read more: eHam.net News


Middle School Looks to Start Ham Radio Club:

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'Students at Armada Middle School are no strangers to ham radio. For most, their first interaction with ham radio was a question and answer session with the International Space Station last year. Volunteers with the Utica Shelby Emergency Communication Association want to help the students continue to reach all corners of the globe from their classroom or basement. Chuck Perushek and Ray Anderson, both amateur ham operators and members of USECA, came to Armada Middle School to show a group of seventh-graders the importance of ham radios in today's society and what they can do with them. "It is a great way to learn about other cultures and people," Perushek told the students. "There is a great fellowship in amateur radio." Ham radio operators are involved in emergency response scenarios, hospitals and even work with the National Weather Service. They provide information when other communication systems go down or are rendered useless based on geographic conditions. The aim of the club at the middle school is to get kids on their own ham radios to communicate outside of the state and even the country and show them the more personal use for the system.

Read more: eHam.net News


Mile High Radio Club Connects the Mountain:

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The Mile High Radio Club (MHRC) connects the mountain in times of emergency with a network of amateur radio operators and repeaters. This system enables operators to reach all Hill communities and off-Hill locations as far away as San Diego and Santa Barbara. Celebrating their 20th year as members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and their 22nd year of existence, MHRC plays a key role in providing disaster communication through its financial sponsorship of the Mountain District Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) and its maintenance of the Pine Cove repeater site. RACES is a volunteer organization directed by local, county and state emergency management agencies and operated under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States government. RACES provides radio communications during periods of war and civil emergencies including natural disasters, victim searches, air crashes and many others. RACES communication is critical when traditional power sources fail. MHRC also plays other supportive roles throughout Hill communities, including animal rescue during natural disaster as part of the Riverside Animal Rescue System (REARS). A RACES operator is a regular part of a REARS team that consists of a truck driver with horse trailer rig and an animal wrangler or rescuer. RACES also provides course position updates for the Spring Challenge Mountain Bike Race; parade route communication and message transfer between announcer stations for the Fourth of July Parade; maintenance of a communications tent at the Idyllwild Arts Foundation's annual Jazz in the Pines event; display of portable radio communication equipment and distribution of educational materials at the annual Idyllwild Health and Resource Fair; participation in statewide events such as the Great California Shakeout annual earthquake drill; fire patrols and fire watches; and the ARRL Field Day, a national event in which MHRC sets up an emergency station on Highway 243 and, using only emergency power supplies, communicates with other off-Hill operators to test range and signal strength.

Read more: eHam.net News


FCC Looks to Revise, Clarify Vanity Call Sign Rules:

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On Wednesday, November 25, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) -- WT Docket No. 09-209 -- seeking to amend the Commission's Amateur Radio Service rules to clarify certain rules and codify existing procedures governing the vanity call sign system, as well as revise certain rules applicable to club stations.

Read more: eHam.net News



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Homebrew Direct Conversion Receiver

Last week I gave a presentation on kits and homebrew to the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club (OVMRC). It was well received by the members and I have had some nice feedback.
There was a request for the slide deck which I include here in pdf format:

Kits and Homebrew Talk.

If anyone uses material from this for talks or further distribution all I ask is the Creative Commons license I use be adhered to. So, do not make money out of it and attribute the content to me.

I would be happy to receive questions and comments on the slide deck as well as the talk, if you attended. Feel free to leave a comment.

Read more: VA3STL's Weblog


This Week in Amateur Radio #866 - Week of 11/14/09

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Edition #866 of This Week in Amateur Radio, and This Week in Amateur Radio Headline News, have been released. Both are now posted and available for download at www.twiar.org. Subscribe on our site or: FIND US NOW ON I-TUNES! This Week in Amateur Radio Full Version with special features and all the news, edition runs 125 minutes. This Week in Amateur Radio Headline News version runs 65 minutes with limited special features. This Week in Amateur Radio is available for regular download at our web site in MP3 format. Streaming audio is also available, as is RSS/XML subscriptions for the podcast. Enjoy, and see you next week! de George - W2XBS This Week in Amateur Radio

Read more: This Week in Amateur Radio Podcast


cell phone battery charger

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I misplaced my cell phone charger about 2 months ago and ever since, had been charging my cell phone with the micro USB cable connected to the laptop. So far, I have managed to charge the phone before it completely exhausted the power. Until yesterday. I thought it is just a matter of plugging in, the cable into the phone and connect the other end of the cable to the computer. The phone did start charging. But at some point, it got enough power to bootup and decided to automatically bootup. Once booted up, it shows up as a USB Mass Storage device. But before it enumerates, the phone powers off again. The issue is that, before enumeration, the host controller gives out only 100 mA of current. It can give out 500 mA, only after enumeration. The current was just not enough to keep it going and it kept on booting up and powering down again and again.

Finally I found a way to break the dead lock by rebooting the computer and stop the boot at GRUB prompt. Turned out that the BIOS configured the USB Host Controller to give out 500 mA and it quickly charged up, enough to enumerate, so that I could turn on the computer again.

Read more: Thoughts about programming


Summits on the Air in Canada, 14th Nov. 2009

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Summits on the Air (SOTA) is where amateurs will venture to the top of regional high spots and operate with portable equipment.  This started in the UK and has grown across Europe and is now being established in North America. Ottawa amateur Martin, VA3SIE, will be activating Mont Ste. Marie, QC and Jean-Pierre, VA2SG, will be activating Apica, in the Saguenay, QC on the 14th November.  Martin will be using his KX1 for HF/CW and VX8R for VHF/UHF operation with APRS.  Martin’s new blog has links for tracking him on APRS.

I noticed an old friend of mine Tom, M1EYP will be activating Pendle Hill in Lancashire, UK. (Pendle is infamous for a group of alleged witches who in the 17th Century were put on trial at Lancaster – the local city to where I grew up). Tom is a friend from my active short wave listening days when we formed, with Chrissie Brand,  a regular meeting of Manchester members of the British DX Club.  Tom has some great details of his radio activities on his website including an excellent diary describing his walking of the Pennine Way with his eldest son,  including their radio operations (check the left hand frame on his homepage). Tom has an incredible interest in radio that extends from SWLing, to pirate radio and amateur radio.  He has an extensive QSL collection from broadcast stations around the world (again see the left hand frame of his homepage). (Good to see Tom, Chrissie and myself are all still active in the hobby of radio and writing about it on the web.)

Good luck to all the SOTA activations and listen for them if you are on the air on the 14th November.

Read more: VA3STL's Weblog


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