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Backpacking Amateur Radio Ten Essentials

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In my post, Amateur Radio Backpacking Checklist, I offer a list of helpful items to include when backpacking including the "ten essentials".  So what are the ten essentials?

The ten essentials are your non-negotiable life-saving items to include in your pack when you go on any outdoor adventure:
Knife - A knife is an extremely useful tool in the field.  You can use it to make a shelter, prepare food, tighten a screw, carve wood into gadgets, cut 550 cord, ... First-aid kit - Backpacking requires self-sufficiency.  When you are are in the backcountry you typically can't call for help.  Your life may depend on your first aid kit.  Mine is a homemade kit stuffed into a lightweight zippered water resistant sack.Extra clothing - This is a tough one since it easy to overpack clothing and what to pack depends on your location.  For backpacking in the California Sierras in July, I always minimally bring two pair of wool socks, a fleece, one pair of synthetic pants with zipper-off…

So what is a scout to do when sheltering at home?

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So what is a scout to do when sheltering at home, with no school, no sports, no scouting activities, ....???

A great use of extra time on your hands is to study to earn your very own FCC Amateur Radio Technician License!!!  Earning your Amateur Radio Technician license allows you to operate radio equipment on the amateur radio bands.


Amateur radio is a really fun and interesting STEM hobby and is a great way to communicate during emergencies when other forms of communication fail (be prepared).  It also prepares you for the largest scouting activity in the world: the annual Jamboree On The Air.  With your technician license you can communicate with people all around the world with basic radio equipment or join in exciting radio contests or communicate using amateur radio satellites or even talk to  astronauts on the international space station.  One of my favorite radio contacts was with a science expedition in Antarctica!

You can study for your Amateur Radio Technician License online…

MFJ-1886 Loop Receiving Antenna

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Decided to order the MFJ-1886 loop receiving antenna to have some fun experimenting on MF and HF bands.  I have been wanting to try out a loop antenna for years and the MFJ-1886 fit my requirements.
RequirementsMagnetic loop antenna designCover the medium wave broadcast band (525 kHz to 1705 kHz)Cover the high frequency band (1700 kHz to 30 mHz)Directional capabilityCompact sizeWeatherproof for outdoor useSO-239/PL-259
Looking forward to giving the MFJ-1886 loop antenna a complete workout with MW DXing and shortwave listening.  Stay tuned for follow up articles.



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Radio Merit Badge at Camp Lehi

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The Radio Merit Badge is earned by approximately 6,500 Boy Scouts in the US each year.  The Radio Merit Badge requirements are demanding and require both classroom learning as well as applied learning in front of a radio.  I really like the design of the merit badge with its hidden Morse code message and lighting bolts.

I had an opportunity to teach the radio merit badge at a recent Merit Badge Pow Wow at Camp Lehi here in the Bay Area.  My co-instructor for the course was Ray Wentz, W6LPW.


The night before the course the Merit Badge Pow Wow organizer (Jon) and I installed three antennas: a 40 meters home-brew wire dipole, a 20 meters rotatable dipole, and a vhf/uhf antenna.  We setup the radios and class room in the great outdoors under a couple of canopies.  Power was provide a generator.


The 40 Meters wire dipole worked really well for the scouts.  They made contacts with 100W into the North Carolina to the East, Vancouver to the North, San Diego to the South, and Hawaii to the Wes…

Flying over the Earth at Night II

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What would it be like to orbit the Earth? The International Space Station (ISS) does this every 90 minutes, and sometimes the astronauts on board take image sequences that are made into videos. The featured time-lapse video shows many visual spectacles of the dark Earth below. First, as the video begins, green and red auroras are visible on the upper left above white clouds. Soon city lights come into view, and it becomes clear you are flying over North America, eventually passing over Florida. In the second sequence you fly over Europe and Africa, eventually passing over the Nile River. Brief flashes of light are lightning in storms. Stars far in the distance can be seen rising through the greenish-gold glow of the Earth's atmosphere. via NASA http://ift.tt/2HrQDTJ

Horsehead: A Wider View

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Combined image data from the massive, ground-based VISTA telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope was used to create this wide perspective of the interstellar landscape surrounding the famous Horsehead Nebula. Captured at near-infrared wavelengths, the region's dusty molecular cloud sprawls across the scene that covers an angle about two-thirds the size of the Full Moon on the sky. Left to right the frame spans just over 10 light-years at the Horsehead's estimated distance of 1,600 light-years. Also known as Barnard 33, the still recognizable Horsehead Nebula stands at the upper right, the near-infrared glow of a dusty pillar topped with newborn stars. Below and left, the bright reflection nebula NGC 2023 is itself the illuminated environs of a hot young star. Obscuring clouds below the base of the Horsehead and on the outskirts of NGC 2023 show the tell-tale far red emission of energetic jets, known as Herbig-Haro objects, also associated with newborn stars. via NASA http://i…

Cyclones at Jupiter s North Pole

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Juno's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper data was used to construct this stunning view of cyclones at Jupiter's North Pole. Measuring the thermal emission from Jovian cloud tops, the infrared the observations are not restricted to the hemisphere illuminated by sunlight. They reveal eight cyclonic features that surround a cyclone about 4,000 kilometers in diameter, just offset from the giant planet's geographic North Pole. Similar data show a cyclone at the Jovian South Pole with five circumpolar cyclones. The South Pole cyclones are slightly larger than their northern cousins. Cassini data has shown that gas giant Saturn's north and south poles each have a single cyclonic storm system. via NASA http://ift.tt/2Fq3HIN