Showing posts from 2012

Project: PAiA P60 Regulated Power Supply Kit

Over the  years, we have built a number of electronic devices that require a 9v DC power source.  We typically keep a box of 9v batteries on-hand though more often then not we find our cache of batteries depleted.  During a recent trip to the local grocery store we were shocked to see name-brand 9v alkaline batteries selling for nearly $5/each.  This inspired us to build a dedicated 9v power supply for use on the bench with goal of reducing our use of overly expensive 9v batteries in the coming year.  Perhaps that is a worthy New Year resolution for us all.

Regulated or unregulated?
An unregulated DC output power supply (e.g. most common wall-warts) delivers voltage without voltage control.  The DC output voltage is dependent on a couple of factors: 1) the voltage reduction transformer; 2) the amount of current used by the device receiving the power (also called load).  An easy way to identify if a wall-wart is unregulated is to simply measure the voltage without a load.  If the voltag…

The Passing of the Year by Robert Service

The Passing of the Year By Robert Service, RHYMES OF A ROLLING STONE, 1912 My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That ma…

Project: Anderson Powerpole Polarity Checker

Ward Silver's (N0AX) article, "Hands-On Radio: Experiment #120: Power Polarity Protection", in the January 2013 issue of QST included a circuit diagram for a 12v polarity checker.  Inspired by the diagram, we headed to workshop on a Friday evening to fire up the soldering iron and fabricate our own Anderson PowerPole polarity checker using junk-box parts.

We are big fans of Anderson PowerPole connectors and recabled our radio gear with the connector sometime ago.  A polarity checker would be a very useful item to have around the shack and in a go-kit.
Step 0: Round up the parts and tools A well-stocked junk box and workshop will likely yield all the necessary parts needed to build the polarity checker.  A few minutes of scrounging around our workshop is all it took to find the parts for this project.
Green LEDRed LED1k Ohm resistor 1/4WPair of Anderson PowerPole connectorsJunk box plastic part to turn into an end-capHot glue gunSoldering ironShrink wrap tubing (small di…

Learning Morse Code Online

We have been thinking about Morse code and how to approach learning it.  There is interest in our local Boy Scout troop to learn Morse code in pursuit of the new Morse Code Interpreter's Strip.

We recently discovered an interesting website to help people learn Morse code online called Learn CW Online.

One of the attractive aspects of this site is that all lessons are accessed via a web browser without requiring a download or installing software.  A complete Koch CW course is available on the site via the browser - for FREE.

The Koch method is a popular teaching method and named after the German psychologist Ludwig Koch.  The Koch method teaches at the full target speed from the outset, first with just two characters (K and M).  Once a student has mastered the first two characters by being able to copy at 90% accuracy, an additional character (letter, number, or prosign) is added, and so on until the complete character set is mastered.

We really like how the CW course is organized …

DX Technique: Taking A Break = Opportunity For A Modest Station

Working DX with a modest station or QRP (5w of power or less) is an interesting and challenging endeavour.  DX'ers regularly experience having more powerful stations with 1500W amplifiers, impressive towers, and beam antennas punch through to the target station and block the lower-power stations.  To succeed, low-power stations must use skill - brains over brawn.

Here we share a useful technique to help log that DX station when operating with low-power.  This is the scenario, the DX station announces that he must take a break (i.e. take a phone call, dog needs to go out, bathroom visit, refill coffee cup, grab a snack, answer the door, ...) and will be return. 

This represents an opportunity for the savvy lower-power station since this announcement will cause the pile-up size to immediately diminish.  Time (and human nature) is on your side since the longer the DX station is off-the-air the fewer people will stay tuned to the frequency.  Why?
As soon as the station stops calling, …


It is a paradox of modern life that pseudoscience thrives amidst accelerating scientific knowledge, widespread literacy, and powerful teacher's unions.  As you are reading this, The-End-Is-Near-Nuts-V2012 are now licking their collective wounds that resulted from the world having not come to an end on December 21, 2012. Their great disappointment in our continued existence is a small source of pleasure for many of us (as well as a few good jokes on late-night shows).

As with the prior versions of The-End-Is-Near, the pattern will be for the spokesmen to make a few irrational-rationalizations explaining away their error.  Then some charismatic will start afresh with a new version of a peculiar brand of nonsense which will inevitably find a strong market with the media and a few true believers.

In the meantime, have a happy (and rational) New Year.



© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permiss…

DXCC Completed!

We are celebrating in the shack today on completing the requirements to earn the ARRL DX Century Club (DXCC) award. The DXCC award is a worthy challenge. To earn the ARRL DXCC award a ham must confirm 100 contacts each from a qualifying different DX entity. These entitities are defined in the DXCC list. To qualify, an entity must have some definable political or geographical distinctiveness.

ARRL DXCC Information
Proof of a confirmed contact can be either a paper QSL card or a Logbook of the World (LoTW) QSL.  We are a big fan of the ARRL's LoTW so for an extra challenge we decided to we would confirm 100% of our qualifying DXCC contacts via the LoTW (and not use any paper QSL card confirmations).  This proved to be more of a challenge than we anticipated since we had to complete several contacts with many DX entities before locating a LoTW subscriber.

We also decided to make all of our contacts using transmitter power of 100W or less and with a simple wire antenna.  This mea…

Edwin Howard Armstrong's Birthday December 18, 1890

The great American inventor and electrical engineer, Edwin Howard Armstrong was born this day - December 18, 1890.  Armstrong held 42 patents and invented the frequency modulation (FM) radio, hyterodyne radio, superheterodyne radio, and regengerative radio receiver.

Shortwave Program: WTWW 9480 KHz QSO Radio Show

Found an interesting shortwave broadcast today on 9480 KHz on WTWW in Tennessee, USA called, QSO Radio Show with Ted Randall.

The program was amateur radio oriented with an guest interview discussing 6 meters.  This was an excellent program.  This broadcast was ending at 21:00 UTC on 12/8/2012.

If you are looking for interesting shortwave programming in English then be sure to checkout 9480 Khz for QSO Radio Show with Ted Randall.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

DX Code of Conduct

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling. I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling. I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot. I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call. I will always send my full call sign. I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously. I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine. I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine. I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine. When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly. I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact. I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

Christian Doppler - Birthday November 29, 1803

Today, we remember the mathematician and physicist Christian Doppler who was born on this day November 29, 1803.  Doppler proposed that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer.  The Doppler effect occurring with sound waves was verified in 1845 by Buys Ballot.

Amateur radio operators encounter the Doppler effect (or Doppler shift) when working with satellite transmissions.  Satellites travel at very high speeds relative to a terrestrial observer -   The Doppler shift is particularly pronounced at the higher VHF and UHF bands.  The Doppler shift in satellite communications is also a function of the flight path.  An approaching satellite is shift higher in frequency.  As the satellite passes directly over the observer the frequency shift is zero.  Then as the satellite moves away from the observer the frequency shifts lower.

Happy Birthday Joe (WB6ACU)

Joe Walsh (WB6ACU) was born this day November 20, 1947.  Happy Birthday Joe!

EPC PSK63 QSO Party - November 18, 2012

The objective of the EPC PSK63 QSO Party is to establish as many contacts as possible between radio amateurs around the world by using the BPSK63 mode. Starting time is at 00:00 UTC, and ending time is at 24:00 UTC on Sunday 18 November, 2012.
EPC members should send signal report plus EPC membership number (example – 599 EPC00001). Please make sure that you don't separate «EPC» from the «Number», and you don't use any characters between. Please make sure that your EPC number consists of 5 digits. Other stations should send signal report plus QSO number, starting 001 (example – 599 001).
Mode BPSK63 should be designated in the report as PM and in any way differently! All times must be in UTC. All sent and received exchanges are to be logged. The Contest Committee accepts logs in the Cabrillo format ONLY. Name your Cabrillo file as your call sign (for example - mm0epc.cbr, mm0epc.txt or mm0epc.log). You should send your log upload via the Web interface: http://ua9qcq…

Gunsite / Yavapai Radio Club Observe NRA Birthday November 17, 2012

Celebrate NRA's 141th birthday on November 17, 2012 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 21.335 MHz.  All amateur radio stations, especially those operated by NRA members and Gunsite alumni, are urged to participate. A unique NRA/Gunsite certificate will be sent to stations contacted for the event. For more info, visit:

Bad Behavior

The pileups on PT0S (DX Expedition to Saint Peter & Saint Paul Rocks) this weekend were a mile tall.  A friend jokingly referred to it as a, "pigpile".  Maybe "pachyderm pile" would be more descriptive.  It was huge at times.

Anarchy reigned at moments with unruly lids running wild while the "radio police" attempted ad-nauseum to clear the DX frequency with shouts of "up up" or "get it together" or "he is working split tuner-upper" or "shut up" or "why the heck do you guys call on frequency?" or "split expletive-deleted".  Do the radio police interfere more than the hams that call the DX on his frequency?  There are three steps to avoiding the transgression of calling a DX station working split:  listen, listen, and then listen.

There was an unusually high degree of malicious ankle biter interference.  It didn't amount to much and tended to be weak, feeble, and ultimately impotent.  The D…

JT-65 Calling Frequencies By Amateur Radio Band

JT-65 Calling Frequencies By Amateur Radio Band

BandFrequency (USB)6 meters50.276 MHz10 meters28.076 MHz 12 meters24.917 MHz15 meters21.076 MHz17 meters18.102 MHz20 meters14.076 MHz30 meters10.139 MHz40 meters7.076 MHz80 meters3.576 MHz160 meters1.838 MHz

Scientifically Verifiable Fact: Best Antenna for Amateur Radio Use

We hams are tough customers when it comes to antennas (also known as the great interface to the universe or GITTU).  It is often the case that the superior performing antenna is the one you would like to put up next and the under-performer is the one you put up last.  Simply put, a ham is never satisfied.  For many, that is part of the attraction to radio.  A station can always be improved, modified, enhanced, augmented, tweaked, repaired, ... until the bank account is minus-zero or we are SK.

From time-to-time it is helpful to remind ourselves that the GITTU we have is better than the one we don't.  The scientifically verifiable mathematical proof of this is that you can make contacts with the GITTU you have and you cannot make contacts with the GITTU you don't have.  So get on the air and give your GITTU a workout.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

NJ2X Note:
Gentle reader, you may be wondering why we used the 5 letter acronym, "GITTU" when the generally accepted acronym pract…

Project: Morton Salt Box Crystal Radio Repair (Part 1)

The October 2012 Frankenstorm Sandy brought rain, hail, snow, and high winds to Western Pennsylvania.  We decided to ride the storm out in the workshop to work on a father and son project - to return a crystal radio to use.

We had built a crystal radio and revived an antique headset a few years ago as a school science fair project.  We built the crystal radio on a breadboard and included an air variable capacitor, a 1N34A germanium diode, and fahnestock clips.

The Fahnestock clip was invented in 1907 is a classic simple wire connector that is both perfectly functional and looks great in a crystal radio breadboard project.

The 1N34A germanium diode starts to conduct around 0.1 volts.  This makes it a very good choice for use as a detector in crystal radios.

The breadboard was repurposed from an old sports award.  We used a belt sander to remove the finish and engraving.  The process yielded a breadboard with an attractive two-tone appearance.  This is a great way to save mo…

Considerations For A New Antenna - Part 2: Installing a 6m Antenna

In "Considerations For A New Antenna - Part 1" we discussed the criteria and considerations for setting up new antennas in our new location.  In this article, we share how we went about setting up our first antenna in the new location.

We decided our first effort would be to set up a 6m ground plane antenna on a mast mounted on top our chimney.  6m is a wonderful band offering DX possibilities along with access to local repeaters.

For this project we would need:
6m ground plane antennaChimney mast mounting kitStandard 1.5 inch x 5 foot antenna mastLow-loss 50-ohm coaxial cable (we use Bury-FLEX 1.1 dB of attenuation /100 FT at 50 Mhz)UHF connectors8-foot copper clad steel ground rodLightning arrestor (we use ICE coaxial lightning/EMP suppressors)SolderSoldering ironElectrical tapeSelf-sealing silicone rubber tapeLadderRope and bucketCrescent wrenchLeather work glovesPair of HT's (optional) Parts In days gone past, items such as chimney mast mount and masts were commonly a…

CQ World Wide DX Contest

10m opened up world wide to the great enjoyment of hams participating in this weekend's CQ World Wide DX Contest.  We joined in the fun and participated in the contest with our modest station.  The QSO's were plentiful.  We completed 170 QSO's with 97 countries earning a final score of 47,854.

The cold and wet weather provided additional motivation to stay in the shack.  No sense in getting to know "Sandy" the so called Frankenstorm any more than on a first name basis.

We rather liked the Italian IO5O webpage with the club's live streaming video of their participation in the contest.  A unique way to view radio.  Thanks for the contact Ten-Fifty Contest Group.



Warm Glow of Linear Amplifier Tubes

Autumn is wonderful time of year.  No better way to warm up the shack then by powering up the gear and getting on the air.  We didn't need a flash when we took this photo of these Ameritron linear amplifier tubes at work.

Antenna Coaxial Cable Conduit Fill Considerations

Conduit fill is the percent of the area inside the conduit taken up by cables.  Conduit fill is an important consideration when selecting and planning your antenna projects since it is not possible to use 100% of the conduit's area.  There is no sense in going through the expense and effort of trenching, laying conduit, and pulling your antenna coaxial cable only to find later that the conduit is too small to support the area consumed by the cables.
We recently ran across two handy Internet resources related to conduit fill: Conduit Fill Chart and Conduit Fill Calculator.

Here is an example of the conduit fill calculators output:

The conduit fill is: 17.9%
Based On:Conduit Type:Rigid PVC Conduit, Schedule 40 * Conduit Size:2 inch(es) Internal Diameter:2.047 (in.)Conductor #1:3 conductors with an outside diameter of .5 inches. Conductor #2:0 conductors with an outside diameter of 0 inches.
**Warning: There is some probability of jamming.



55th annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is October 20-21

The 55th annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is October 20-21. This 48-hour event runs from 0000 (local time) on Saturday, October 20 (right at midnight Friday) through midnight (local time) on Sunday, October 21. JOTA is an opportunity for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world to experience the magic and excitement of Amateur Radio.

Radio amateurs do not have to be registered to get on the air during JOTA. In addition to the World Scout Frequencies, the BSA has listed a US frequency guide that includes frequencies for 80-6 meters (SSB, CW and PSK31), 2 meters, 70 cm and D-STAR, as well as dedicated IRLP and EchoLink nodes.

In our local Pittsburgh area, the Skyview Radio Society has organized JOTA events including a radio merit badge class.  This is sure to be a wonderful event and everyone involved is looking forward to it.

Be sure to get on the air this weekend and make some contacts with scouts (the future of amateur radio).

Philips Radio Manufacturing 1936

We ran across this excellent 7 minute film from 1936 showing the manufacturing of radios by Philips in Czechoslovakia.  We don't understand the narration; however, this doesn't detract from the film.

Be sure to check out: WWII Film - Hallicrafters: Voice of Victory - SCR-299US Army Signal Corps training film for the SCR-694, BC-1306 field radio1944 US Navy Training Film - Radio Operator Training - Technique Of Hand Sending CW with a straight keyArmy Morse Code Training Film 1966

How To: Lock Together Anderson PowerPole Connectors

Anderson PowerPoles are a wonderfully useful invention for radio amateurs.  They are connecting power to more and more amateur radio equipment every day and have become the defacto standard for 12v power connection.  Interestingly, radio manufactures are still catching up on this trend.

When two Anderson PowerPole connectors are connected together they snap together but are not locked.  This allows quick connect / disconnect and works just fine in many situations.  However, there are several situations where locking the connectors together is required.
The power cable is subject to movement which could work the connection apart.The power cable with a vertical orientation and connection where gravity could pull the connection apart.The power cable and connection is being pulled during routing which could cause a disconnect. There are commercially available retention clips to lock PowerPole connectors together.  These cost around $0.60 / clip.  Hams are nothing if not thrifty.  Why buy e…

Eye Catching Store Front

We stumbled onto an eye catching store front window display in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario recently. 
Loved the stacks of boat anchor gear and brick HT's.  The next day we returned to Sonic Northern Group during business hours and met the manager, Ken.  Not surprisingly, Ken is a ham and collector of classic radio gear.  We had an interesting chat about amateur radio in the area.

By the way this article was composed on an Android device as an experiment. 

EPC Russia DX Contest 2012

EPC Russia DX Contest 2012. The contest starts at 04:00 UTC 06.10.2012 and ends at 04:00 UTC 06.10.2012. The objective of the contest is to establish as many contacts as possible between radio amateurs around the world and radio amateurs in Russia on BPSK63 mode. The Contest is annually held at the first weekend in October in BPSK63 mode on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters bands. Every station can be contacted once per band. The operator may change the bands without any restrictions. The output power should not exceed 10 watts on 160 meters and 100 watts on other bands. Only one transmitted signal is permitted at any time.

FT-8800R Back On The Air

We finished reprogramming our FT-8800R dual band mobile radio tonight.  After installing it we turned it on, hit scan, and immediately found a local net to join in.  Programming software makes the job so much easier than manual entry via the radio controls and menus.  What a bother it would be to upload several hundred frequencies manually.

In this day and age of cheap and plentiful memory and internet enabled devices, it is fairly easy to image radios in the near future coming pre-programmed with software that automatically keeps them synched with all repeater information - anywhere in the world.  Why not?  Since we are dreaming a little.  How about unlimited text labelling for each memory.  6 characters simply doesn't cut it.  Why only 6?  Why not 66, or 266, or even unlimited?  The memory certainly wouldn't add much cost.

NJ2X.COM 1st Anniversary

Today is the 1st anniversary of our website NJ2X.COM.  It has been a year of learning for us and we enjoyed the experience a great deal.  Thank you to our regular readers for your support.  We hope you will help spread the word and share our link with others interested in amateur radio, ham radio, and shortwave radio related topics. 

Our free daily feature, "FCC Technician Exam Question Of The Day" has been very enjoyable to write and we hope it has helped at least a few people to prepare for and earn their ticket.

We particularly enjoyed preparing cartoons for our "Ab Absurdo" amateur humor feature.  It was rather fun coming up with radio related absurdities and translating them into cartoons.  This surprisingly turned out to be a very relaxing and creative activity to engage in.  Hope we gave a few chuckles too.

In case you didn't notice the link on our home page, we offer the NJ2X Kindle Edition for those using the popular Kindle devices.

Looking forward t…

Soldering PL-259 Connectors

One of the most common tasks around the shack is soldering PL-259 connectors onto coaxial cable.  Here is an excellent video explaining how to solder a PL-259 connector onto RG213 coaxial cable correctly and easily in under 6 minutes.

NJ2X tips:
Tin the center conductor if stranded - keeps the strand togetherTest with a continuity tester to confirm continuity and no shortsAvoid excessive heat which can deform the dielectric and change the characteristics

Michael Faraday Birthday September 22, 1791

Michael Faraday was born on this day September 22, 1791.  Faraday researched and experimented with electricity. He eventually showed that a magnetic field could induce a current in a coil of wire, which became the basis for the generation of electricity.  His theory of electromagnetic induction eventually became "Faraday's Law".  He invented the earliest electrical motors (homopolar motor) which would prove to be one of the most important inventions in history.

Faraday experimented with sending electrical currents through chemicals, discovering that molecules could be separated into gases and defining principles for the laws of electrolysis.  Faraday was prolific and engaged with with the study of optics, magnetism, environmental science, education, light houses, and other interests.

The SI unit of capacitance, the farad, is named in his honour as is the Faraday Cage.

G4HFQ Software - Excellent Experience

We had a really great experience recently with G4HFQ Software.  We needed a little assistance with a program that we had purchased from Bob back in 2008 for programming our trusty FT-8800.  We sent an email and Bob responded almost immediately with just the right help.  Bob's software works very well and the service is tops.  Highly recommended.

225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution

Today we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.  The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Have you read this inspired document lately?  Have your government representatives read it?