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Showing posts from January, 2012

Famous Quotation: Reading

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" - Tatler, March 18, 1710


We love this observation and couldn't agree more.  This is a timeless truth which remains unchanged by our high-tech on-line world.

Logbook of The World to Now Support CQ Awards

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The ARRL and CQ Communications, Inc have signed an agreement to begin providing support for CQ-sponsored operating awards by the ARRL’s Logbook of the World LoTW electronic confirmation system.  The target for phase in of the CQ awards is April 1, 2012.



This is very exciting news for hams especially those who have already made the leap to the LoTW.  In network economics, the value of belong to a network is directly related to the size of that network.  This means that the LoTW users will enjoy more and more value as the number of hams susing LoTW increases.  CQ awards will definately increase the popularity of this wonderful system.

We are looking forward to expanding our award pursuits to include the CQ awards and seeing an increasing number of confirmations via LoTW.  If you haven't joined the LoTW, now is a great time to do so.

The ARRL announcement provides additional details regarding the agreement.

Check out related articles on NJ2X.COM:
Hunting LoTW Stations

Project: Anderson Powerpole to 2.1mm Connector Pigtail

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When building our KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit we realized after starting that we lacked the necessary power 2.1mm connector to supply 12v to the power jack.

From a design standpoint we decided to construct an Anderson Powerpole to 2.1mm connector pigtail.  This was a natural choice since we previously converted our radios and cabling to Anderson Powerpoles.  A 2.1mm connector to Anderson Powerpoles will give us maximum flexibility to move the radio from one power source to the next (e.g. battery, car power, shack power supply, bench power supply, ....).  The commercially available Anderson PowerPole to 2.1mm cable costs at the time of this writing about $5.00 plus shipping. 

We decided it would be more ecconomical and far more fun to build the pigtail cable ourselves.  A home-brew cable would also give us an opportunity to incorporate a few improvements in design over the commercially available cable.
One of the improvements we wanted to include on the cable was an RF cho…

Brain Game Kit - Velleman

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In this article, KC2VSR builds another of the inexpensive and fun Velleman kits: The Brain Game.  Nothing better in the winter than father and son time in the workshop building something.  NJ2X had to put down the soldering iron and take a break from working on the KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit to give KC2VSR a shot at this Christmas kit.

The Brain Game Kit has a lot of great attributes as a kit for young people or anyone just learning to solder.
Discrete through-the-hole parts (much easier to solder than surface mount components)LEDs  (blinking lights = fun factor)Sound (bleeps = fun factor)Its a functional game (once built everyone wants to try it)Attractive hand-held device to show off the builder's skill First step in approaching any new kit is to read the instructions.  The Velleman graphic design instructions are so much better for kids than step-by-step text instructions.  Very little coaching of the builder was required.

The ritual of inspecting, identifying, and l…

What can you do with an oscilloscope?

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This is an oscilloscope:
An oscilloscope is a test instrument that displays a graph of voltage verses time which allows the user to visualize electronic waveforms. The vertical axis displays voltage and the horizontal axis is time. Modern oscilloscopes are either analog or digital. It is a must-have piece of equipment for experimenting or working on electronics and very useful to radio amateurs in general.

So what can  you do with an oscilloscope?
You can determine how the voltage of a signal changes with respect to time. You can calculate the frequency and period of a waveform. You can test for malfunctioning components causing signal distortion.You can measure a DC voltage in a circuit. You can find what component of a signal is direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC). You can tell how much of the signal is noise and whether the noise is changing with time.You can attach a transducer and measure all manner of phenomena.You can create Lissajous figures.You can measure…

Oscilloscope School

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The New Jersey Antique Radio Club held an Oscilloscope School in March, 2011.  The club recorded this excellent 2 hr 21 minute program and provided an on-line textbook.

Part 1: History of Oscilloscopes, by Al Klase, Technical Coordinator for NJARCPart 2: Basics of Oscilloscopes, by Alan Wolke (W2AEW), Application Engineer at Tektronix Corporation (begins at 15 min. 42 sec. into the program)Part 3: A Brief History of Oscilloscope Tubes, by Nevell Greenough (begins at 2 hr. 13 min. 35 sec. into the program.) This is a first rate presentation regarding oscilloscopes and we highly recommend it to anyone interested in this versatile piece of test equipment.
See related articles on NJ2X.COM:
What can you do with an oscilloscope?Westinghouse Film - Electronics At Work - Electronic Tubes Explained1948 Film: Vacuum Tube ManufacturingHow It's Made - Modern Audio Vacuum Tubes

HRD DM780 Calling Macro

One of the things we enjoy about digital modes is automating repetitive tasks like calling.  One trick we like to use in certain situations is to call for stations in specific locations.  This is particularly useful when looking for those final one or two states to complete the ARRL WAS or Triple Play awards.

By calling for specific locations you may just entice a reply from state you need who would have otherwise not responded.  In this example, we are calling for NJ stations.

CQ NJ CQ NJ CQ NJ de NJ2X pse kn

It doesn't always work and you will definately get responses from hams outside of your target location.  However, this approach does pay off from time-to-time.

What does not work particularly well, some would say it is even annoying, is to call with a very long list.  For example:

CQ AK AL AR CA CT DE FL GA ID IA ....

This is simply too verbose to work well.  Better to simply call the band since there is a good probability you will make contact with a station on the list no m…

KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit - Step 1: Power Supply Circuit

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This is the 3rd in a series of articles on building the KN-Q7A Single Band 40m SSB Transceiver Kit.  In this article we proceed to build the first step - the Power Supply Circuit.

Before starting we organized the bag of parts provided in the kit into a plastic bin grouping parts into general categories.  This will make it easier to locate specific parts during construction.  It will also contain the parts and help prevent them from being lost on the bench.


We followed the step-by-step instructions and installed the parts making up the power supply.


The final step was a test to verify the power supply circuit is functioning by measuring the voltage output.  We passed the test the first time with an output voltage of 7.91V which was within the acceptable tolerance (target is 8V).  So far so good and we are having fun too!

One of the take-aways from this stage was that we do not have the appropriate power plug for the kit's power jack.  We were able to work around this by powering up…

Ab Absurdo - Robbing Paul

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw

KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit - Opening The Package

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This is the 2nd article in a series on building the KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit.  We were very excited to see the kit arrive in the mail.  The kit was packaged in a padded envelope.  The outside of the package had various stamps and customs declarations.
Inside the mailer were the microphone and a very durable metal project box.  The box itself will become the housing for the transceiver kit.  All the components and the circuit board were stored safetly inside the project box.  We are impressed with this packaging design since it reduces the possibility of damage to delicate parts.


We used a screw driver to remove four screws securing a metal plate to the end of the box and found the circuit board, compontents, screws, and faceplates predrilled and silkscreened.  Everthing was neatly and efficiently packed.


A single page overview of the kit was included in the package as well.  This sheet provided current information and instructions on how to download the kit manual.  We f…

Ayn Rand - The Property Status of Airwaves

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We recently re-read an essay by Ayn Rand called, "The Property Status of Airwaves" which she originally published in April of 1964.  It also appeared in Ayn Rand's book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.  It is a thought provoking piece and worth hunting down a copy of the book to read.

In her essay, Rand argues that the radio spectrum are not "public" property as it is treated today but rather property that should be returned to private ownership as with any other scarce resource (mineral deposits, oil fields, ...).  Property rights form the basis of all other rights.


Rand points out that the government incorrectly claimed ownership of the airwaves at the dawn of radio thereby nationalizing the resource and simultaneously introducing several problems.  Among these are the distortionary effects of wielding power in the undefinable "public interest". 

Public interest is inevitably used to justify government actions including censorship in conflict with…

KN-Q7A Single Band SSB Transceiver Kit - New Arrival

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We recently ordered a new 40m single sideband (SSB) transceiver kit for the purpose of being the focus of our bench time in the shop this winter.  The kit is the KN-Q7A single band SSB transceiver by Adam Rong, BD6CR/4. 


Adam launched his new website CRKits in December 2011.  The website includes complete documentation and pricing information.  The current price for the kit is $115 plus $25 shipping to the US.  Kits can be purchased from Adam directly or through distributors.

We had been considering various kits over the last few months.  We decided on this kit for several reasons:
Low costCompact for portable use (153 mm x 97 mm x 40 mm)Discrete through the hole parts (except for 1 surface mount part)Manual well thought out40m SSB phone operation10 WattsNice looking finished productChallenging kit with a healthy parts count (200)Positive comments posted various places on the Internet The one downside is the lack of an automatic gain control (AGC) in the design.  This limits the use…

9th UK DX RTTY Contest 2012

The 9th UK DX RTTY Contest 2012 (UK-DX-RTTY) will start time at 12:00 UTC on Saturday 14.01.2012.  Ending time at 12:00 UTC on Sunday 15.01.2012.

The rules and other information can be found at http://www.ukdx.srars.org/ website.

Powerful DX Hunting Accessories - Your Ears

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Your most power DX hunting accessories are your ears.  Your ears can provide you with a great deal of information about the signal itself (beyond the message being transmitted).  With practice a DX'er can learn to identify mode, location, distance, propagation, tuning, and many other useful bits of information by simply listening.  Amazingly, your ears and brain are also powerful filters.

Another useful accessory is a pair of headphones.  Speakers are great when listening to broadcast stations though not as effective for DX'ing.  Headphones are superior to speakers for DX hunting.  Remember, you are searching for those weak stations down in the noise.   Over the ear headphones also isolate your ears from the ambient noise in the room and block out distractions.

One consideration is the use of headphone on gear lacking an automatic gain control (AGC).  A loud static crash or nearby powerful station while working a weak signal can cause a sudden increase in volume that could hur…

What is the BEST DX Mode?

If you enjoy chasing DX you can increase your DX contacts by using, "the BEST DX mode".  Which mode is that you ask?  The BEST DX mode is.... all of them.  Hams around the world enjoy running different modes.  This means that if you confine yourself to only one or two modes then you risk excluding some potentially great contacts.  Add as many modes as you can to your repertoire and increase the opportunities to work DX.

By Michael Maher (NJ2X)

Ab Absurdo - In Pursuit of 8 Band DXCC

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Ham Radio University 2012 - January 8

Ham Radio University 2012
Our 13th annual event!
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Briarcliffe College
1055 Stewart Ave
Bethpage, NY 11714

Spreading Ham Radio Knowledge and Know How
"A day of education to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and fellowship among Amateur Radio operators"
NJ2X Note: Ham Radio University is a wonderful event providing excellent learning opportunities for all interesting in amateur radio.  Hope to see you there for an "eyeball QSO"!

Amateur Radio Kids Day - January 8, 2012

Kids Day is an on-air event to encourage young people (licensed or not) to have fun with Amateur Radio. It is designed to give on-the-air experience to youngsters and hopefully foster interest in getting a license of their own. It is also intended to give older hams a chance to share their station and love for Amateur Radio with their children.

The traditional exchange for kids day is: name, age, location, and favorite color. Be sure to work the same station again if an operator has changed.  To draw attention, call “CQ Kids Day.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012Saturday, June 16, 2012
Kids Day always runs from 1800 UTC through 2359 UTC. Operate as much or as little as you like.

We have enjoyed operating on kids day in year's past.  It has always been a lot of fun.  99% of the contacts have been very positive.  The best contacts have been with hams who are patient and encouraging to the youngsters (a.k.a Potential Future Hams).

We have encountered one or two not-so-patient and not-so-encou…

Canadian War Museum

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We recently had the opportunity to spend an afternoon visiting the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.  This is one of the finest museums of its kind.  The museum has an incredible collection of artifacts, photographs, and armaments.  The presentation incorporates personal stories woven into a timeline of conflicts.  Walking through the museum, one cannot help but be moved.

One of the first things that caught our attention as we approached the museum entrance were the odd windows.  On closer study we recognized that the windows were arranged in the distinct pattern of dits and dahs representing a message in Morse code.  We will leave it to the reader to decode the two messages one in English and the other in French.


The Canadian War Museum


Related article:
An American Ham in Canada

Benjamin Franklin's Timeless Advice

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Much of good old Ben Franklin's advice is as relevant today as it was in colonial times.  Consider this timeless gem. It is certainly better than most run-of-the-mill new year's resolutions.

Either write something worth reading or do
 something worth writing. -- Benjamin Franklin

So what will you do this year?


World's Most Powerful Transmitter?

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Recently we were operating and enjoying making contacts around the world on our HF station running 100 Watts of power. Pondering the wonder of doing so much with so little got us thinking about the opposite of QRP - extreme station power. What is or was the highest power radio station in the world?

We did a little research and learned that the Bolshakovo transmitter near Bolshakovo, Russia is credited as the most powerful mediumwave broadcasting station. This station gave a 2,500,000 Watt world-wide voice to the Voice of Russia on mediumwave (1116 kHz and 1386 kHz). The transmitter fed special cage antennas.

Like many other hams, we became enamoured with radio while exploring shortwave and listening to exotic and distant stations like the Voice of Russia.