Showing posts from 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns, 1788

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
... ... And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

NJ2X.COM Kindle edition is now available.

What are you doing new year's eve?

Happy New Year!

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Radio Standards Organizations

How It's Made - Modern Audio Vacuum Tubes


The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio

The ARRL has produced an excellent video called, "The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio".  The video is aimed at the Do It Yourself community.  The ubiquity of wireless technology in communications, computer, hacker, robotics, and other technology applications means amateur radio has a lot to offer to a broad spectrum of technically minded people.

This video runs about 8 minutes and would be an excellent video to show at your club's next meeting.  It would also make a nice video to loop for public viewing at an event.  You can download the high def 16:9 version directly from the ARRL

An American Ham in Canada

As a licensed amateur radio operator and citizen of the United States, you may operate in Canada as a domestically licensed station without the requirement of obtaining any license or permission from the Canadian government.
An American amateur may allow third party use of his station and call sign, carry international third party traffic, serve as a temporary control operator for a repeater station, and identify themselves as a domestic station using the national call sign system, provided:
The Licensee has citizenship and a valid amateur radio license from the country for their residency;The Licensee appends the local Canadian Zone(Region) to the END of their call sign when identifying their station (e.g. KC2XXX/VE3); and,The Licensee adheres to the Canada operating powers, frequency (band) allocations, and laws. US amateurs operating in Canada must abide by Industry Canada RBR-4 rules.
- A US amateur who is qualified to send and receive in Morse code at a speed of at least 5 wpm may…

The Thoughtful Radio Amateur

The thoughtful radio amateur is:
Responsible - using courteous operating practice, complying with regulations and accepted technical standards;

Progressive - striving to develop and improve operating and technical skills;

Helpful - offering assistance, support and encouragement to other Amateurs, especially beginners; and

Public Spirited - offering use of station, knowledge and skills as a public service whenever possible.

Text by Bill Wilson, VE3NR (SK 2010)
The Canadian Amateur 1997 12

Related article: The Amateur's Code


January 8, 2011
Briarcliffe College
 1055 Stewart Ave
 Bethpage, NY 11714

Since 1999, HRU has been bringing the local ham community together for a special day of learning and fellowship.  At HRU you can attend one of many forums about Amateur Radio. You can also find out
about many different Amateur Radio organizations and clubs and even join one! You can see
a demonstration of various radio modes such as signal sideband voice, Morse Code or digital modes  our demo room. You can operate our special event station and make contact with other hams around the country or around the world. You can listen to our keynote speaker. You can take any level amateur radio license exam in our volunteer exam session.
We have been attending this excellent event since 2008.  We look forward to meeting you there.

For more information check out:

HRD DM780 Macros: Curse or Blessing?

The Ham Radio Deluxe DM780 software is unquestionably a wonderful product - large number of digital modes, powerful features, and easy to use.  Up to now the price has been right too - FREE!  There is no mystery as to why DM780 has such a strong following among hams.
One of the convenient features of DM780 is automation of the QSO with macros.  You can think of macros as an automated form letter.  This allows for quick exchanges of routine information.  There are several very good reasons for using macros in DM780 or any other similarly enabled ham radio software:
Macros relieve the burden of typing the same information over-and-over again.  No fun typing CQ CQ CQ .... over and over again.Speed up the QSO and allow the operator to multitask.Provides an assistant to people with physical disabilities which limit their use of a keyboard.Provides a structure to the QSO.Macros are very useful with the hyper-fast modes like PSK-125.  Most people simply can't type fast and accurately en…

3D Xmas Tree Kit - Velleman

The return of cold weather means less time in the field and more time warming the workshop with a soldering iron.  Winter 'tis the season of father and son kit building!

KC2VSR had a great time building this Velleman 3D Xmas Tree Kit.  The holiday theme really put us into the holiday spirit too.

The kit comes with a set of detailed instructions.  No issues understanding what to do.

The first thing we did was to layout the parts to make sure everything was included. We found the kit had all the parts and enough extra LED's to make the trees solid red or a combination of red, yellow, and green. KC2VSR chose to go with the multicolor design.

The parts are all through-the-hole which made soldering a breeze.

KC2VSR used this handy project vise to hold the circuit parts steady during installation and soldering.

KC2VSR demonstrating proper soldering technique - heat the part first (not the solder) and let the solder flow.  Nice work!
Voila!  The finished 3D Xmas Tree.  It worked the …

NTSB Seeking New Laws Against Portable Electronic Devices

The number of criminal laws in the US has exploded in the last 50 years.  We have reached a point where it is beyond the capability of the citizenry to live free in confidence that they are also obeying the law.  There are simply too many laws and good people are being ensnared and their lives trampled.  The real tragedy is that we have traded away our freedom in exchange for the false security of being ruled by a large and powerful government.
Here they go again....

The brilliant lawyers and freedom fighters in Washington (yeah right) have come up with another way to make us all safe from ourselves.  Can you guess how?  If you answered, "more laws" then you win the golden fleece award.  Not a fair question you say?  True, they didn't come up with another way to make us safe.  Piling on the laws is the ONLY way for these people - its how they bread their butter.  When all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.  Feeling a little safer and less free yet?  I…

Ab Absurdo - Moon Bounce Explained


Radio Teletypewriter AN/GRC-46 (RTTY)

We take "texting" for granted today as new technology; however, wireless texting has been in use since early radioteletype experiments dating back to 1922.  Radioteletype technology was put to use by the US military in 1930s and use expanded during World War II.  The US Navy called radioteletype RATT (Radio Automatic Teletype) and the Army Signal Corps called radioteletype SCRT (Single-Channel Radio Teletype).

This in an excellent 1963 Department of Defence film explaining the Radio Teletypewriter set AN/GRC-46 in terms of:
ComponentsElectronic FunctionCapabilitiesOperation The AN/GRC-46 operated on HF (1.5Mhz to 20Mhz) and employed Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) for either half-duplex or full-duplex RTTY tactical communications (up to 80km).  The radio could also be used for CW and phone operations.  One interesting feature was the ability of the operator to simultaneously transmit both RTTY and phone.  Funny to think that this was state-of-the-art for portable "texting&q…

Portable Rotatable Dipole

For our portable operations, we have been using a portable rotatable HF dipole from EmComm-Products (model RADS 9-11/A) since 2008.  This antenna is rated for up to 200W UHF/VHF / 250W PEP HF.  In our setup we run no more than 50W on UHF/VHF and 100W on HF.

One particularly useful feature of the antenna is that it provides HF and a second VHF/UHF antenna on top of the dipole which is fed by a separate cable.  This allows the operator to run both a HF radio and VHF/UHF radio concurrently on one mast.

The mast is sectional fiberglass, guyed, and goes up very easily with two people (takes about 15 minutes).  The Velcro cable ties used to neatly store the cable double as ties between the mast and cable.

To rotate the antenna we simply give the mast a twist.  This is usually enough to cause the dipole to turn in the in the desired direction.  We have also used a light line tied to one end of the dipole to guide the rotation.

The dipole sections can be changed out and manually "tuned&q…

ARRL 10 Meter Contest - December 10/11, 2011

The ARRL 10 Meter Contest is the second full weekend of December.  Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; runs through 2359 UTC Sunday (December 10 – 11, 2011).  This contest is sure to be a big draw since the 10 meter band has been open daily worldwide.  ARRL 10 Meter Contest Rules.

Ab Absurdo - The All Nighter


Amici Probantur Rebus Adversis

We recently encountered the latin phrase, "amici probantur rebus adversis" which is attributed to the Roman philosopher Cicero and translates to, "friends are proved by adversity".  This gave us pause and we were reminded of the corollary, "a fair weather friend changes with the wind".  Together these two sayings mean that we can judge who are our real friends (versus acquaintances) in difficult times.

Time and again radio amateurs have proved that they are indeed good friends to their communities facing adversity.  Hams provide emergency communication services to help those in need.  The Amateur Radio Service is there when all else fails.  So too are the radio amateurs.

Kudos to you friends.  We are grateful knowing you will be there when the going gets tough.

Hunting Shortwave Broadcast Radio Stations

A common pattern among amateur radio operators is to have developed an interest in radio from having access to a shortwave radio.  Sadly the trend over the last decade has been a decline in the number of shortwave broadcasters.  However, there are still stations on the air and shortwave listening (SWL) has remained a wonderful way to enjoy "playing radio" and experience the "magic".

As a youth, we would simply turn on the radio and tune up and down until finding an interesting station.  It was mostly a random process.  Over time, we learned to identify stations and programs and could tune to the right place at the right time.

We still do spend time tuning up and down the bands on our Yeasu FRG-100 or Sangean ATS-909X.  We also take advantage of the power of the Internet for improving our ability to locate radio programs and identify shortwave radio stations.  An excellent SWL resource is the website

This site offers several useful tools including…

The Amateur's Code

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATE...never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE...with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.

FRIENDLY...slow and patient operating when required; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others.  These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit. is an avocation, never interfering with duties owned to family, job, school, or community.

PATRIOTIC...station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

-The original Amateur's Code was written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928

2st EPC Ukraine DX Contest This Weekend

One of our favorite modes is PSK.  There is an interesting contest this weekend, "2st EPC Ukraine DX Contest."  BPSK63 is a fast mode so there will be plenty of action to keep it interesting.  Here are a few of the details:

The Ukrainian Section of the European PSK Club has the honour to invite radio amateurs from all over the world to participate in the 2st EPC Ukraine DX Contest (EPC-UKR-DX).

Rule overview
The contest will be held from 20:00 UTC on Saturday, December 3, 2011 until 19:59 UTC on Sunday, December 4, 2011. This is strictly BPSK63 contest, no other modes are allowed. The output power shall not exceed 100 watts in all categories. Category SOAB-24, SOAB-12, SOLF, SOHF, MOST. Contest call for all participants is «CQ EPCUR TEST».Ukrainian stations should send RSQ plus conventional code of the Ukrainian Administrative Region. Example - 599 UR25. Other stations should send signal report plus QSO number, starting 001. Example – 599 001. Scoring
Stations in the same DXCC…

Ab Absurdo - Un-resonance


A Ham's Night Before Christmas

This is a wonderful piece by by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, with guitar melody by Don Mercz, WA3AYR.

1948 Film: Vacuum Tube Manufacturing

The vacuum tube was invented in 1906 and was the enabling technology for the rapid development of electronics for the next 50 or so years until the appearance of the transistor in the late 1950's.

This 3-part film from Philips-Mullard (1948) presents a detailed look at the components, construction, and manufacture of vacuum tubes.  This is a fascinating work on several levels - vacuum tube technology, period manufacturing automation, and the factory environment itself.  The 3 films in total run about 24 minutes.

Part 1
Part 2 Part 3
Be sure to checkout our related articles: Philips Radio Manufacturing 1936Westinghouse Film - Electronics At Work - Electronic Tubes explainedHow It's Made - Modern Audio Vacuum Tubes

Number of US Amateur Radio License Holders Highest Level Ever

According to the ARRL, over the last 40 years, the number of Amateur Radio operators in the US has grown at a remarkable rate:
December 1971: 285,000 December 1981: 433,000 December 1991: 494,000 December 2001: 683,000 September 2011: 700,221 The growth and interest trend in Amateur Radio is a clear indication that the future is bright for the hobby.  This growth also has implications from a spectrum use perspective.  We do hope the FCC and federal legislators will take note of this.
Do not pass laws that will reduce or sell off the spectrum that is for amateur radio use.Do increase spectrum available for amateur radio use.Protect amateur radio spectrum from interference through FCC enforcement.Acknowledge the value of amateur radio in science education and emergency communications.Support laws that protect amateur radio operator's ability to erect and use outdoor antennas.

Black black black Friday

It is the biggest day of the shopping all year... Black Friday.  Rumours were flying all over town about an unprecedented sale which had been confirmed by recent radio spots for, "Extreme Pricing with 99% off!".  As a result, a long line had already formed at 6:30AM in front of the store.  By 8:30AM the line had doubled in length and had become a little surley.

A small man pushed his way to the front of the line, only to be pushed back, amid a barage of curses.

On the man's second attempt, he was knocked around a bit, and then thrown to the end of the line again.

As he got up the second time, the small man said to the person at the end of the line, "That does it!  If they throw me down one more time, I am not going open the store!"


Avoid the lines and hassles and visit your local Amateur Radio dealer instead this Black Friday.  You will likely have a lot more fun, see some new gear, and may even take hom…

Westinghouse Film - Electronics At Work - Electronic Tubes Explained

In this 1943 film by Westinghouse, the six basic functions of vacuum tubes are explained along with how each type of tube is used in industrial and military applications.
RectifyAmplifyGenerateControlTransform light into currentTransform current into light This is a well done educational film with a 21minute run time.  Provides a very nice tube tutorial for those of us who have grown up in the solid state / digital age taking some of the mystery out what these devices are all about.

Be sure to check out our related articles:
1948 Film: Vacuum Tube ManufacturingHow It's Made - Modern Audio Vacuum Tubes

Chasing 10m FM DX

There are so many interesting modes in which to operate our amateur radios.  Most hams are familiar with the "meat-and-potatoes" modes like, CW, SSB, AM, and RTTY.  Surprisingly, few hams seem to have tried working DX with FM.  The return of sunspots provides ham with an opportunity to jump into FM DX'ing.  You can work 10m FM DX with a modest station - a 100W rig and an 10m antenna will do the job.

You can even work QRP (low power < 5w) FM DX when the 10m band is open.  This is really amazing thing to experience.  Give it a try sometime.  One approach is to start the QSO with higher power and then back the power level down to QRP and see if you can maintain the contact.  How low can you go?  Another approach is to simply work the contact with low power.

Generals, Advanced, and Amateur Extra's have HF FM privileges on the 10m band.  The United States HF band plan allows FM between 29.6Mhz and 29.7Mhz.

5 Tips for 10m FM DX
Keep the QSO short  - 10m FM DX is fast pace…

WWII Film - Hallicrafters: Voice of Victory - SCR-299

In 1944, Hallicrafters teamed up with the US Army Signal Corp to produce this interesting training film called, "Hallicrafters: Voice of Victory".  The technical advisor of the film was W9AA - Cyrus T. Reed.  This film shows the assembly and testing of big iron Hallicrafters radio SCR-299.  When we write "big" we mean "BIG" (takes up the better part of a truck and two men to load).
This film would likely be of great interest to Hallicrafters enthusiasts,  SCR-299 owner this film, and people interested in the role of US amateur radio in winning World War 2.  This film runs about 14 minutes.  We hope you will agree it is a rather amazing and unique work.

A few things to look for (list courtesy of K0OD):
3:32 - Listen for the replica (no hams on air in '42) vintage CQ and exchange. Notice the op manually switches off the transmitter and tunes his SX-28 receiver after his CQ. Most callers would have been crystal controlled and on a different frequency. 7…

Driving on the New Jersey Turnpike

An elderly ham was driving down the New Jersey Turnpike when suddenly his 2 meter rig crackled his call...

Answering the call, he heard a fellow ham's urgent warning....."Elmer, I just heard on the news that there is a car driving down the turnpike the wrong way so please be careful"!!
Elmer replied,"Well I'll declare, it's not just one.......there are hundreds of them!!!!!!!!!"

Desoldering 101

Soldering is a very good skill to have as a ham.  But what do you do when you need to remove a solder part?  You "de-solder" it of course.  Learning the correct way to desolder can save a lot of frustration and time.  You will need this skill if you ever engage in activities such as:
Kit building - e.g. soldered a part in the wrong orientation or wrong position.Electronic repair - e.g. replacing leaky old capacitors in a radio.Part salvage - e.g. removing parts from a device for reuse in some other project. Take 3 minutes and learn the proper way to desolder.

We learned desoldering the hard way in our youth tearing apart old gear and salvaging parts.  It turns out that desoldering is a common pattern among hams as a way to successful learning of soldering technique.  In other words, desoldering an old piece of equipment and salvaging the good parts is a great way to learn how to handle a solder iron.  This is likely because the risk of doing damage is ZERO (the circuit is alr…

Soldering 101

Amateur radio is a wonderful hobby with so many different facets to explore.  One of the skills that most ham develop at some point is soldering.  This is because soldering is fun, useful, and arguably necessary.  Here are just a few things you can do with soldering:
Solder a power cable (see our article Project: Car power adapter to Anderson Powerpole)Solder ends on coaxial cableBuild a commercial kit (radio, power supply, gadget, ...)Make a home-brew deviceSplice wires togetherRepair or modify electrical equipment
If you would like to improve your soldering skill, spend the next 7 minutes with this excellent tutorial on the basics of soldering.  It will help you solder like a pro in no time.

A few safety precautions:
Never touch the element or tip of the soldering iron. They are very hot (about 400°C) and will give you a nasty burn. Return the soldering iron to its stand when not in use. Never put it down on your workbench, even for a moment! Work in a well-ventilated area. The smoke …

ARRL’s annual November Sweepstakes - Phone

The ARRL’s annual November Sweepstakes is the oldest domestic contest, beginning in 1932. It’s a competition between North American stations – individuals, teams, and clubs. For many US and Canadian hams, it is their first contest operation and remains a regular event on their yearly schedule for a lifetime. The contest is somewhat unique in that each station may only be contacted once and the number of different recognized locations is limited to the 80 ARRL and RAC sections. Working the 80 sections is called a "Clean Sweep" and allows the station to claim one of the coveted Clean Sweep coffee mugs – there are other awards, as well.
Phone: Third full weekend in November (November 19-21, 2011). Contest Period: Begins 2100 UTC Saturday and runs through 0259 UTC Monday.

For stations in the United States and Canada (including territories and possessions) to exchange QSO information with as many other US and Canadian stations as possible on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter ba…

Light bulb

Q: How many amateur radio operators does it take to screw in a 100W light bulb? 

A: Three.  One to solder the lightbulb on the end of the coax, one to check the SWR, and one to measure the signal strength and plot the radiation pattern.

Anyone remember line printer art?

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Gunsite / Yavapai Radio Club Observe NRA Birthday November 17, 2011

Gunsite / Yavapai Radio Club Observe NRA Birthday November 17, 2011
Celebrate NRA's 140th birthday on November 17, 2011 as the Yavapai Amateur Radio Club operates a special-event broadcast station from the famed Gunsite Academy in Arizona. This FCC-licensed amateur station, using the call sign, K7NRA, will operate from 8AM to 5PM MST on the following frequencies: 7.250, 14.050, 14.250, and 21.355 MHz. All amateur radio stations, especially those operated by NRA memebers and Gunsite alumni, are urged to participate. A unique NRA/Gunsite QSL Card will be sent to stations contacted for the event. For more info, visit:


Q: What is the best way to greet an Amateur Radio operator?  A. With a short wave of course!

Chasing DX The Easy Way with HRD DM780

We love chasing DX and the thrill of the hunt.  Chasing DX is also time consuming - spinning the VFO dial in search of that rare DX station at all hours of the day and night.  For some, chasing DX competes with other priorities such as family, food, hygiene, sleep, jobs, kid's soccer games, exercise, ...  That is why it is important to us to find little tricks to maximize the impact of our scarce operating time and maintain some semblance of balance to life.

Warning, you are about to learn a very powerful secret that may change the way you ham FOREVER.

Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) is a wonderful ham radio software package that includes integrated rig control, logging, and a program for running various digital modes called DM780.  We love operating digital modes like PSK31.  It is fun to communicate by computer over the radio.  Additionally, PSK31 is very effective at making DX contacts with a modest station.  An interesting additional advantage of using digital modes is automated monitor…

1944 US Navy Training Film - Radio Operator Training - Technique Of Hand Sending CW with a straight key

This is an excellent US Navy training film explaining the correct technique of hand sending morse code with a straight key.  It is from 1944 and it is spot on.  Well worth a view regardless if you new to CW or an expert (about 9 minutes long).

Be sure to check out my other related post, Army Morse Code Training Film 1966.

Project: Car power adapter to Anderson Powerpole

Conservation is the act of preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment.  We hams are conservationists as we tend to be a thrifty lot and regularly re-purpose and reuse materials for our hobby.  Why throw something into a landfill when it can be made into something useful?  Through creativity and technical know how we conserve materials (and funds).  The smell of solder and a few minutes in the workshop is great fun too!
In this article we share a useful and simple project to convert an unneeded car power cable to an Anderson PowerPole adapter.  We cabled all of our radio gear for Anderson PowerPoles sometime ago and have been glad we did so ever since.  Anderson PowerPoles offer many compelling reasons for adoption:

Flat Wiping Contact System Minimal contact resistance at high current, wiping action cleans contact surface during connection/disconnection.Colored Modular Housings Provides visual identification of proper mating connector.Molded-in Dovetails Secures in…