Showing posts from November, 2011

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 becuase soldering is extremely useful and one might even argue 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 electrical equipmentModify 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…

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…

US Army Signal Corps training film for the SCR-694, BC-1306 field radio

The SCR-694 was designated as "Radio set, Portable/Vehicular" consisting of the BC-1306 transciever capable of AM, CW, MCW modes of operation between 3.800 to 6.500 MHz.  Ranges up to 15 miles on voice and up to 30 miles on CW between moving vehicles were reported.  Crytals used in the transmitter operated at one half of the transmitting frequency. The set used vacuum tubes and operated from 6, 12 or 24 VDC supplied by a battery or PE-237 Vibrator Power Unit (to operate from a vehicle).  The receiver could be run for about 20 hours from the battery.  Portable operations in WWII meant the unit could be packed and carried by 2 men and weighed 108lbs.  The whole set was water and fungi proof. 

These three films are very interesting and provide a great deal of information.  There is a briefing on vintage WW1 radios as well as German and Japanese radios.  The radio internals are discussed as well as the whip and wire antennas.  CW and radio-telephone operations are demonstrated.

Nov. 9, 2011 - ARRL's Frequency Measuring Test

Frequency Measuring Test for November 2011
The next Frequency Measuring Test is scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, 2011, beginning at 10:15 PM EST (0315z, November 10, 2011). Transmitting sites are operated by K5CM, W8KSE, W6OQI and WA6ZTY. The frequencies are near 3579 and 7055 kHz.
The latest information can be found here on the ARRL web page.
The data entry site for the November 9, 2011 FMT can be found here.
More information on FMT measuring techniques can be found here on the K5CM website.
The November QST article on the 2011 FMT can be found here in PDF format.
If you have not participated in an FMT before, it doesn’t take a room full of test equipment to have fun and make surprisingly accurate measurements. You can read all of the QST articles about the exercises on the ARRL FMT web page. More information on frequency measuring techniques and exercises can be found on Marshall’s website.

How to determine with LoTW and 5 clicks which states you need

The log book of the world (LoTW) offers some very useful tools for managing and tracking QSL's.  We use it regularly to quickly determine which states we need for a particularly WAS award.  Here is how in 5 easy steps:

Log into your LoTW account.
1) Click on the "Awards" tab.
2) Click on the button, "Select WAS award account".
3) Click on the award you wish to check.  This will bring up a list of all the states you have QSL's with in LoTW for the selected award.
4) Click on radio button, "All entities".
5) Click on the button, "Select WAS Award to View".  This will bring up a list of all states.  The states you have a confirmed QSL will have a call sign next to them.  Those states you still need will not have a call sign listed.  This gives you an instant visual indication.

We use this trick when hunting specific states for WAS.  A quick check using this technique allows you to focus on the states you need.  This technique will help you …

Army Morse Code Training Film 1966

In 1966, the US Army produced these two training films on sending morse code with a straight key.  These are historical, entertaining, and educational movies.  Check out the giant sized J-38 key!

Part 1

Part 2

Be sure to our related article, 1944 US Navy Training Film - Radio Operator Training - Technique Of Hand Sending CW with a straight key.

Big Iron AM Stations N4QLB

N4QLB has put together an excellent slideshow of big iron AM stations.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Radio Armenia Call In Show

In the days of Soviet Union, the call in question show on Radio Armenia often had to deal with some tough questions.

Q: What is champagne?
A: Radio Armenia is pleased to inform you that champagne is a wonderfully delicious alcoholic beverage which is consumed by the working people through their elected representatives.

Antenna survives the NJ October snow storm

Kudos to Alpha-Delta for building such a tough antenna.  Once again our Alpha-Delta DX-LB Plus Parallel Dipole survived another dish of what mother nature was serving here in New Jersey.  This time it was a heavy snow fall (6 to 16 inches around the state) on October 28 and 29, 2011.  The end of October is normally a lovely time of year with with pleasant temperatures and mostly green trees.  We haven't had a snowstorm in October since 1987.  Lets see what the winter will bring.