December 31, 2016

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!


Chorus
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.





December 30, 2016

Study of celestial phenomena...

The study of celestial phenomena at radio wavelengths, radio astronomy came into being after the accidental discovery of cosmic radiation by radio engineer Karl Jansky in 1933. -- Honor Harger

December 27, 2016

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy


What is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy? Andromeda. In fact, our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the featured image of M31 is a digital mosaic of several frames taken with a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including exactly how many billions of years it will before it collides with our home galaxy. via NASA http://ift.tt/2htoT8X

Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #10 - Dual Watch

This is an article in a series regarding the vintage Azden AZ-61 6m FM Transceiver.

The AZ-61 has dual watch capability which is also called priority operation.  Priority operation can be used with either the VFO model or memory mode.  Dual watch is of the frequency being received and the MA0 channel.  The MA0 channel is scanned approximately every four seconds.  Receiving a signal on the MA0 channel produces a beep sounds and "S" is displayed.

While using the dual watch mode, pressing PTT allows immediate transmission of the channel set in the VFO mode or memory mode.

The various functions on the vintage AZ-61 are a challenge to operate without instructions.  Hope the information below helps AZ-61 owners master priority operation (dual watch) on their AZ-61.

Priority Operation (Dual Watch)

  • To enable or disable priority operation press the "PRI" key.
  • Note: "PRI" lights up on the display when the priority operation is enabled.

Photo of the Azden AZ-61 hand held transceiver
Azden AZ-61 HT


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Other related articles on NJ2X.COM:
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #1 - How to program the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #2 - disabling "the beep"
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #3 - 1993 review article
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #4 - rebuilding the battery pack
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #5 - how to reset the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #6 - Automatic Power-Off
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #7 - VFO Mode
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #8 - Frequency Step
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #9 - Scanning
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #10 - Dual Watch
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #12 - Optional Accessories


© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

December 23, 2016

Once Upon a Solstice Eve


Once upon a solstice eve a little prince gazed across a frozen little planet at the edge of a large galaxy. The little planet was planet Earth of course, seen in this horizon to horizon, nadir to zenith projection, a digitally stitched mosaic from the shores of the Sec reservoir in the Czech Republic. So the large galaxy must be the Milky Way, and the brightest beacon on the planet's horizon Venus, visible around the globe as this season's brilliant evening star. Celestial treasures in surrounding dark skies include the Pleiades star cluster, and the North America nebula found along a dusty galactic rift. Embracing Venus, Zodiacal light traces a faint band across the night, but the more colorful pillars of light shine above streets a little closer to home. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ik6RWz

Dream about doing great things...

Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them. -- James A. Michener

The Dreamer

December 21, 2016

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble


Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a full moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured in the expansive image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gXLXYn

December 20, 2016

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble


Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a full moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured in the expansive image is dominated by the glow of ionized oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gXLXYn

December 18, 2016

The Cartwheel Galaxy from Hubble


To some, it looks like the wheel of a cart. In fact, because of its outward oval appearance, the presence of a central galaxy, and their connection with what looks like the spokes of a wheel, the galaxy on the right is known as the Cartwheel Galaxy. To others, however, it looks like a complicated interaction between galaxies awaiting explanation. Along with the two galaxies on the left, the Cartwheel is part of a group of galaxies about 400 million light years away in the constellation Sculptor. The large galaxy's rim spans over 100,000 light years and is composed of star forming regions filled with extremely bright and massive stars. Pictured, the Cartwheel's ring-like shape is the result of gravitational disruption caused by a smaller galaxy passing through a large one, compressing the interstellar gas and dust and causing a star formation wave to move out like a ripple across the surface of a pond. via NASA http://ift.tt/2heYLKP

December 17, 2016

Southern Jupiter from Perijove 3


Southern Jupiter looms some 37,000 kilometers away in this JunoCam image from December 11. The image data was captured near Juno's third perijove or closest approach to Jupiter, the spacecraft still in its 53 day long looping orbit. With the south polar region on the left, the large whitish oval toward the right is massive, counterclockwise rotating storm system. Smaller than the more famous Great Red Spot, the oval storm is only about half the diameter of planet Earth, one of a string of white ovals currently in the southern hemisphere of the Solar System's, ruling gas giant. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hZSClv

December 16, 2016

How things really work...

When you want to know how things really work, study them when they're coming apart. -- William Gibson

Broken light bulb base

December 13, 2016

Meteors over Four Girl Mountains


On some nights it rains meteors. Peaking over the next two nights, asteroid dust is expected to rain down on Earth during the annual Geminids meteor shower. This year, unfortunately, fainter Geminids will be harder to see because of the brightness of the Long Nights Full Moon, which occurs Wednesday. Pictured, an image from this year's Perseids meteor shower in August captured multiple streaks over Four Girls Mountain in central China. The bright Pleaides open star cluster appears toward the upper right, while numerous emission nebulas are visible in red, many superposed on the diagonal band of the Milky Way. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gHbmsn

Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #9 - Scanning

This is an article in a series regarding the vintage Azden AZ-61 6m FM Transceiver.

The AZ-61 has two scanning modes: VFO mode scanning and memory mode scanning.  The various functions on the vintage AZ-61 are a challenge to operate without instructions.  Hope the information below helps AZ-61 owners master scanning on their AZ-61.

Scanning Overview

  • VFO mode scanning is between two frequencies and is programmable
    • A-bank scanning - scanning is conducted between the receiving frequencies stored in memory channels A19 and A20 using the configured frequency step.
    • B-bank scanning - scanning is conducted between the receiving frequencies stored in memory channels B19 and B20 using the configured frequency step.
  • Note: VFO mode scanning is from low frequency to high frequency.  Be sure to program the lower frequency in A19 when setting up A-bank scanning.  Be sure to program the lower frequency in B19 when setting up B-bank scanning.
  • Memory mode scanning allows scanning of memory channels and is programmable
    • A-bank scanning - scans the memory channels A01 to A20.
    • B-bank scanning - scans the memory channels B01 to B20.
    • A-B bank scanning - alternates scanning of the memory channels, A01 - A20 and B01 - B20.
    • Memory channel skill (lock-out) is possible on all memory channels.

VFO Mode Scanning

  • Make sure the radio is in VFO mode.  If the radio is not in memory mode, press the VFO key.
  • To start scanning, press the SCAN key.
  • When a signal is received, scanning stops.

Memory Mode Scanning

  • Make sure the radio is in memory mode.  M.MODE will blink on the display when in memory mode.  If the radio is not in memory mode, press the MEM key.
  • To start scanning, press the SCAN key.
  • When a signal is received, scanning stops.
Photo of the Azden AZ-61 hand held transceiver
Azden AZ-61 HT


Good DX and 73, NJ2X



Other related articles on NJ2X.COM:
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #1 - How to program the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #2 - disabling "the beep"
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #3 - 1993 review article
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #4 - rebuilding the battery pack
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #5 - how to reset the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #6 - Automatic Power-Off
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #7 - VFO Mode
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #8 - Frequency Step
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #9 - Scanning
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #10 - Dual Watch
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #11 - Battery Saver
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #12 - Optional Accessories

© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

December 12, 2016

Over Saturns Turbulent North Pole


The Cassini spacecraft's Grand Finale at Saturn has begun. The Grand Finale will allow Cassini to explore Saturn and some of Saturn's moons and rings in unprecedented detail. The first phase started two weeks ago when a close flyby of Titan changed Cassini's orbit into one that passes near Saturn's poles and just outside of Saturn's outermost F-ring. Featured here is an image taken during the first of Cassini's 20 week-long F-ring orbits around Saturn. Visible are the central polar vortex on the upper left, a hexagonal cloud boundary through the image center, and numerous light-colored turbulent storm systems. In 2017 April, Cassini will again use the gravity of Titan to begin a new series of 22 Proximal orbits -- trajectories that will take Cassini inside of Saturn's rings for the first time. Cassini's new science adventure is scheduled to end on 2017 September 17, though, when the robotic spacecraft will be directed into a dramatic mission-ending dive into Saturn's atmosphere. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hlvVLX

December 10, 2016

The Lunar X


The striking X appearing in this lunarscape is easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. Yet, not too many have seen it. The catch is this lunar X is fleeting, only apparent in the hours before the Moon's first quarter phase. At the terminator, or shadow line between lunar day and night, the X illusion is produced by a configuration of the craters Blanchinus, La Caille and Purbach. Near the Moon's first quarter phase, an astronaut standing close to the craters' position would see the slowly rising Sun very near the horizon. Temporarily, the crater walls would be in sunlight while the crater floors were still in darkness. Seen from planet Earth, contrasting sections of bright walls against the dark floors by chance look remarkably like an X. This sharp image of the Lunar X was captured at approximately 16:45 UT on December 6, 2016. For extra credit, sweep your gaze along the lunar terminator and you can also spot the Lunar V. via NASA http://ift.tt/2hg43Ja

December 9, 2016

Create their own problems...

Engineers like to solve problems.  If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. -- Scott Adams





December 8, 2016

Whirlpool with Comets


Not a comet, bright spiral galaxy Messier 51 is popularly known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Just off the handle of the Big Dipper in northern skies, you can spot it at the upper left in this image from December 1st. The pretty 4 by 2.5 degree wide field of view does contain two comets though. Different in appearance, both comets are new visitors to the inner Solar System and are currently faint telescopic objects, highest above northern horizons in morning twilight. At lower left newly discovered comet NEOWISE (C/2016 U1) shows off a round fuzzy coma in the greenish light of diatomic carbon gas fluorescing in sunlight. Sunlight reflects from dust in the coma and stubby tail of comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) at upper right. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gZNLDA

December 6, 2016

Aurora over Jupiters South Pole from Juno


Why is there a glowing oval over Jupiter's South Pole? Aurora. Near the closest part of its first pass near Jupiter in August, NASA's robotic spacecraft Juno captured this dramatic infrared image of a bright auroral ring. Auroras are caused by high energy particles from the Sun interacting with a planet's magnetic field, and ovals around magnetic poles are common. Data from Juno are giving preliminary indications that Jupiter's magnetic field and aurorae are unexpectedly powerful and complex. Unfortunately, a computer glitch caused Juno to go into safe mode during its last pass near the Jovian giant in September. That glitch has now been resolved, making Juno ready for its next pass over Jupiter's cloud tops this coming Sunday. via NASA http://ift.tt/2h2oM3h

December 5, 2016

Lightning over Colorado


Have you ever watched a lightning storm in awe? Join the crowd. Oddly, nobody knows exactly how lightning is produced. What is known is that charges slowly separate in some clouds causing rapid electrical discharges (lightning), but how electrical charges get separated in clouds remains a topic of much research. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun. The resulting shock wave starts supersonically and decays into the loud sound known as thunder. Lightning bolts are common in clouds during rainstorms, and on average 44 lightning bolts occur on the Earth every second. Pictured, over 60 images were stacked to capture the flow of lightning-producing storm clouds in July over Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ha4WUe

December 2, 2016

A Triple Star is Born


A triple star system is forming, enshrouded within this dusty natal disk some 750 light-years away in the Perseus molecular cloud. Imaged at millimeter wavelengths by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the extreme close-up shows two protostars separated by a mere 61 AU (1 AU is the Earth-Sun distance) with a third 183 AU from the central protostar. The ALMA image also reveals a clear spiral structure indicating instability and fragmentation led to the multiple protostellar objects within the disk. Astronomers estimate that the system, cataloged as L1448 IRS3B, is less than 150,000 years old. Captured at an early phase, the starforming scenario is likely not at all uncommon, since almost half of all sun-like stars have at least one companion. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fOoNI1

The glass is half...

To the optimist, the glass is half full.  To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.  To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.  -- Unknown

Twice as big as it needs to be!



December 1, 2016

Flaming Star Nebula


A runaway star lights the Flaming Star Nebula in this cosmic scene. Otherwise known as IC 405, the Flaming Star Nebula's billowing interstellar clouds of gas and dust lie about 1,500 light-years away toward the constellation of Auriga. AE Aurigae, the bright star at upper left in the frame, is a massive and intensely hot O-type star moving rapidly through space, likely ejected from a collision of multiple star-systems in the vicinity of the Orion Nebula millions of years ago. Now close to IC 405, the high-speed star's ionizing ultraviolet radiation powers the visible reddish glow as the nebula's hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons and recombine. Its intense blue starlight is reflected by the nebula's dusty filaments. Like all massive stars AE Aurigae will be short-lived though, furiously burning through its supply of fuel for nuclear fusion and exploding as a supernova. The colorful telescopic snapshot spans about 5 light-years at the estimated distance of the Flaming Star Nebula. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gP8k2y

November 30, 2016

Milky Way over Shipwreck


What happened to this ship? It was carried aground by a giant storm that struck the coast of Argentina in 2002. The pictured abandoned boat, dubbed Naufragio del Chubasco, wrecked near the nearly abandoned town of Cabo Raso (population: 1). The rusting ship provides a picturesque but perhaps creepy foreground for the beautiful sky above. This sky is crowned by the grand arch of our Milky Way and features galaxies including the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, stars including Canopus and Altair, planets including Mars and Neptune, and nebulas including the Lagoon, Carina, and the Coal Sack. The mosaic was composed from over 80 images taken in early September. A 360-degree interactive panoramic version of this image is also available. The adventurous astrophotographer reports that the creepiest part of taking this picture was not the abandoned ship, but the unusual prevalence of black and hairy caterpillars. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gJKk0t

November 29, 2016

W5: The Soul of Star Formation


Where do stars form? Many times, stars form in energetic regions where gas and dark dust are pushed around in chaotic mayhem. Pictured, bright massive stars near the center of W5, the Soul Nebula, are exploding and emitting ionizing light and energetic winds. The outward-moving light and gas push away and evaporate much surrounding gas and dust, but leave pillars of gas behind dense protective knots. Inside these knots, though, stars also form. The featured image highlights the inner sanctum of W5, an arena spanning about 1,000 light years that is rich in star forming pillars. The Soul Nebula, also cataloged as IC 1848, lies about 6,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Queen of Aethopia (Cassiopeia). Likely, in few hundred million years, only a cluster of the resulting stars will remain. Then, these stars will drift apart. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fxUBRk

Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #8 - Frequency Step

This is an article in a series regarding the vintage Azden AZ-61 6m FM Transceiver.

The AZ-61's initialized frequency step is 5kHz.  The frequency step can be set to either 5kHZ, 10kHz, or 12.5kHZ.  The various functions on the vintage AZ-61 are a challenge to operate without instructions.  Hope the information below helps AZ-61 owners get the most from their their AZ-61.

Frequency Step

  • To change the frequency step value press: FUN + STEP
  • Note: A double beep will be heard.  The display will not change.
  • Use the UP or DOWN keys to confirm that the frequency step has changed.
Photo of the Azden AZ-61 hand held transceiver
Azden AZ-61 HT


Good DX and 73, NJ2X



Other related articles on NJ2X.COM:
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #1 - How to program the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #2 - disabling "the beep"
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #3 - 1993 review article
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #4 - rebuilding the battery pack
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #5 - how to reset the radio
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #6 - Automatic Power-Off
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #7 - VFO Mode
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #8 - Frequency Step
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #9 - Scanning
Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #10 - Dual Watch



© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

November 28, 2016

Arp 240: A Bridge between Spiral Galaxies from Hubble


Why is there a bridge between these two spiral galaxies? Made of gas and stars, the bridge provides strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity. Known together as Arp 240 but individually as NGC 5257 and NGC 5258, computer modelling and the ages of star clusters indicate that the two galaxies completed a first passage near each other only about 250 million years ago. Gravitational tides not only pulled away matter, they compress gas and so caused star formation in both galaxies and the unusual bridge. Galactic mergers are thought to be common, with Arp 240 representing a snapshot of a brief stage in this inevitable process. The Arp 240 pair are about 300 million light-years distant and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Virgo. Repeated close passages should ultimately result in a merger and with the emergence of a single combined galaxy. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gyc9wh

November 25, 2016

Apollo 17 VIP Site Anaglyph


Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo scene from Taurus-Littrow valley on the Moon! The color anaglyph features a detailed 3D view of Apollo 17's Lunar Rover in the foreground -- behind it lies the Lunar Module and distant lunar hills. Because the world was going to be able to watch the Lunar Module's ascent stage liftoff via the rover's TV camera, this parking place was also known as the VIP Site. In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. The crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than from any of the other lunar landing sites. Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk (or drive) on the Moon. via NASA http://ift.tt/2fyv60M

What we will learn...

Projects we have completed demonstrate what we know.  Future projects decide what we will learn. -- Dr. Mohsin Tiwana.



Pontificating about high-concept things...

I don't spend my time pontificating about high-concept things;  I spend my time solving engineering and manufacturing problems -- Elon Musk



The Origins of Silicon Valley: Roots in Ham Radio” Video

“The Origins of Silicon Valley: Roots in Ham Radio” Video

The ARRL Centennial National Convention presentation, “The Origins of Silicon Valley: Roots in Ham Radio,” by Paul Wesling, KM6LH, has been edited into a video and is now available on YouTube.

Vacuum Tube
“It tells of the interesting events in the maritime port of San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century, as early radio was being developed, and follows the hams who designed new devices and equipment to address steamship traffic plying the Pacific Ocean,” Wesling said. “Their efforts to break the east coast monopoly on tubes and to extend radio into the microwaves as the country approached World War II form the basis for what became Silicon Valley.”
Wesling said the presentation traces early vacuum tube development and other contributions by Bay Area amateurs, “and the continuing spirit of hobbyists and collaborators that fuel today’s high-tech mecca.” The presentation runs about 1 hour.
A graduate of Stanford University, Wesling, a IEEE/CPMT Society Distinguished Lecturer, retired from Hewlett Packard in 2001, and then served for 10 years as Communications Director for the IEEE’s San Francisco Bay Area Council.

November 24, 2016

Anderson PowerPole Tip #1 - Correct configuration "Red Right Up"

Anderson PowerPoles black and red connectors can be connected together in two different ways.  One is the defacto standard the other will potentially ruin your day.  Remember the mantra, "Red Right Up" and your Anderson PowerPole contacts will be oriented correctly.


Correct configuration of Anderson PowerPoles: "Red Right Up"

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

November 22, 2016

Plutos Sputnik Planum


Is there an ocean below Sputnik Planum on Pluto? The unusually smooth 1000-km wide golden expanse, visible in the featured image from New Horizons, appears segmented into convection cells. But how was this region created? One hypothesis now holds the answer to be a great impact that stirred up an underground ocean of salt water roughly 100-kilometers thick. The featured image of Sputnik Planum, part of the larger heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio, was taken last July and shows true details in exaggerated colors. Although the robotic New Horizons spacecraft is off on a new adventure, continued computer-modeling of this surprising surface feature on Pluto is likely to lead to more refined speculations about what lies beneath. via NASA http://ift.tt/2ghUTco

November 21, 2016

Nova over Thailand


A nova in Sagittarius is bright enough to see with binoculars. Detected last month, the stellar explosion even approached the limit of naked-eye visibility last week. A classical nova results from a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star -- a dense star having the size of our Earth but the mass of our Sun. In the featured image, the nova was captured last week above ancient Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai, Thailand. To see Nova Sagittarius 2016 yourself, just go out just after sunset and locate near the western horizon the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius), popularly identified with an iconic teapot. Also visible near the nova is the very bright planet Venus. Don’t delay, though, because not only is the nova fading, but that part of the sky is setting continually closer to sunset. via NASA http://ift.tt/2gBQ3dz

November 20, 2016

Social Media for Radio Amateurs: Tip #1 - IFTTT

This post is part of a series about social media for amateur radio.

Overwhelming Success
The Internet (including social media) is a powerful resource for radio amateurs.  It is a great way to both share and access information about amateur radio via the Internet.  The Internet's overwhelming success has created a new challenges with the overwhelming number of websites and apps available.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the the Internet resources we regularly utilize.

IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT is a way to "put the Internet to work for you".  IFTTT stands for If This Then That.  IFTTT is pronounced by enthusiasts as a word rhyming with "gift".  IFTTT is a web service tool that that can be used to automate web resources.  It is fairly easy to use and supports automation with over 110 different services called "channels" including social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, YouTube, and etc.


IFTTT.com


What can you do with IFTTT and social media?
IFTTT provides a fantastic number of automation "applets" that radio amateurs can use to automate work with social media.  Here are a few examples:

  • Share your new Blogger posts to Twitter
  • Share your new Blogger posts to Facebook
  • Post WordPress posts to Blogger
  • Post new YouTube videos to your Wordpress blog
  • Automatically send a tweet thanking your new Twitter followers
Hope this tip helps you automate some of your repetitive social media work with either your amateur radio club or for your own station activities.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

November 18, 2016

The fewer moving parts, the better...

The fewer moving parts, the better.  Exactly.  No truer words were ever spoken in the context of engineering. -- Christian Cantrell

November 15, 2016

Field Test: Nomad 7 Solar Panel Performance

This article is part of a series about using the Nomad 7 Solar Panel for amateur radio use on backpacking trips.  Be sure to review our prior article, "Project: Regulating the 12v Output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel".  In this article we bring the project together with a field test during a high adventure backpacking trip in the Californian Sierras.

Golden Trout Wilderness


The Adventure

Our hiking group decided to take a 5-day / 52-mile (83.7 km) hike through the Golden Trout Wilderness located in the Sierra Nevada range in California.  The Golden Trout Wilderness is 474 mi² (1227.65 km²) (303,511 acres) of rugged mountainous beauty.  The wilderness is named for and protects the habitat of golden trout which is California's state freshwater fish.

Photograph of a golden trout being help in the palm of a hand.
California's state freshwater fish the golden trout.
Elevations range from about 680 feet (210 m) to 12,900 feet (3,900 m).  An abundance of wildlife inhabit the Golden Trout Wilderness including Monache deer, Sierra Nevada red fox, pine marten, cougar, black bear, rattlesnake, and scorpions.  We would be off the grid completely for the duration of our 52-mile trek.  No electrical power.  No stores or restaurants.  No mobile phone service.   Perfect!

Photograph of a scorpion
Scorpion encountered while trekking in the Golden Trout Wilderness

This meant that each member of the team would need to pack what he would need to survive for 5-days in the wilderness.  Here is what I stuffed into my backpack:
  • Topographical map
  • 1 gallon zip lock bag to keep the the map dry
  • Compass
  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Fleece jacket
  • Rain shell
  • Boonie Hat
  • Quick drying pants that convert to shorts
  • Headlamp
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof matches in a waterproof container
  • Small butane lighter
  • Knife
  • Dehydrated food for 6 days
  • Trail snacks
  • Bear canister
  • Hip canteen
  • 1.5 liter water bag
  • Water purification chemicals
  • Tarp
  • 550 cord
  • 2 trekking poles
  • Bivy
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • 2 pairs of wool socks
  • 2 wicking undershirts
  • 1 quick-drying shorts
  • 2 wicking long sleeve shirts
  • Fuel canister
  • Backpacking stove
  • Small foil pack of chili peppers
  • Whistle
  • Cook pot
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Liquid soap
  • Baby wipes
  • Ultralight super absorbent towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel
  • Kenwood TH-F6A tri-band HT
  • Nomad 7 Solar Panel (modified and regulated)
  • iPhone for pictures
  • Earbuds
My backpack weighed around 38 lbs. at the start of our journey.  Weight is extremely important on a long trek with significant elevation changes.  Every bit of additional weight requires more energy from the backpacker.  The weight is most apparent when climbing several thousand feet in elevation.

We knew we would be isolated throughout our trek.  Our adventure was scheduled to start immediately after the mountain roads became clear of snow so we were pretty sure we wouldn't encounter very many people (if any).  Communication is critical in an emergency situation. 

Emergency Communication Gear

We had two hams in our group so we naturally decided to pack a set of two-way radios and solar power.  The Kenwood TH-F6A HT radios would allow us to maintain communication with each other if we became separated or if someone had to hike out to get help.  The radios would also provide the possibility of calling help directly from a mountain peak through either a repeater or another amateur radio operator.  
Photograph of the Kenwood TH-F6A tri-band amateur radio
Kenwood TH-F6A Tri-band HT

We packed our Nomad 7 solar panel that we had modified to provide output via Anderson Powerpole and a pigtail suitable for the Kenwood HT's.  The solar panel would allow us to keep our radios and mobile devices charged for the duration of the trip. 

Photograph of the Nomand 7 Solar Panel and Kenwood TH-F6A tri-band amateur radio
Nomad 7 Solar Panel and Kenwood TH-F6A

Field Test Results

Our Kenwood TH-F6A radios worked great during our trip.  We used them to maintain communication between the front and back of our group while hiking.  We also used them to maintain communication when exploring the area around camp.  Fortunately, there were no emergencies during our adventure.

On two occasions we inadvertently and unknowingly dropped our radios while crossing obstructions.  In both instances we noticed the radios were no longer attached to our packs and quickly retraced our steps to recover the radios.  The Kenwood TH-F6A is well-built and suffered no damage from either incident.  From this experience, we learned that clipping the radio to the pack is insufficient for securing it.  We improvised lanyards from lengths of 550 cord to positively attach our radios to our packs.  The lanyards allowed the radios to be used while hiking without the risk of falling off and becoming lost along the trail.

We are blessed in California with an abundance of sunshine which we harnessed with our Nomad 7 solar panel to recharge our iPhones and Kenwood TH-F6A.  We chose to recharge one device at a time so as to minimize the charging time.  In full-sun, the Nomad 7 seemed to recharge our iPhones at about the same rate as we would have experienced plugging them into a wall socket charger.  The Nomad 7 did a great job of recharging our Kenwood TH-F6A for the first few days.  On our last day, while recharging our Kenwood F6A via the Nomad 7 solar panel, the radio stopped charging and would no longer power-on.  We believe the unregulated (15vdc in full sun) output of the solar panel was the cause.  For more on this read our article Project: Regulating the 12v Output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.

We decided to protect our remaining radio from damage by not connecting it with the solar panel for the remainder of our trip.  Having at least one functioning radio in the event of an emergency was our priority.

We tried recharging while hiking by tying down an open Nomad 7 to our backpack.  This didn't work very well as were constantly moving in and out of sun and shade.  We found it more effective to recharge when stopped on breaks, lunch, or while setting up camp.  Being stationary allowed us to orient the solar panel to maximize sunlight exposure.

The Nomad 7 is very well made and durable.  We gave ours some unintended rough treatment while backpacking and it kept working the entire trip.  This is an important quality in any backpacking gear.  Packs and their contents tend to get knocked around a bit while trekking.  

Even though we didn't have an emergency, it was comforting to know that we could recharge our devices during our 5-day trek through the Golden Trout Wilderness.  Our batteries would certainly have been depleted after 5-days of usage had we not had a solar panel in our packs.  We really enjoyed being able to shoot photographs to our hearts content with our iPhones without worrying about running out of power.  At 1.4 lbs, the Nomad 7 solar panel was definitely worth the additional weight.  We were disappointed to have one of our Kenwood radios stop working as a result of charging it from the unregulated Nomad 7 solar panel.


Mountain meadow in the Golden Trout Wilderness
When we returned home, we subsequently went to work to solve the issue by regulating the output of the solar panel at a lower safer voltage (see Project: Regulating the 12v Output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel).  We are looking to our next adventure and packing our (now regulated) Nomad 7 solar panel.  We know we now have the perfect backpacking adventure amateur radio and solar power setup.

See you on the trail.  73.

NJ2X

Articles in this series:

    Other related articles on NJ2X.COM

    © Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016.

    November 11, 2016

    Engineering stimulates the mind...

    Engineering stimulates the mind.  Kids get bored easily.  The have got to get out and get their hands dirty: make things, dismantle things, fix things.  When the schools can offer that, you'll have an engineer for life.  -- Bruce Dickinson



    November 4, 2016

    Learn things as you go along...

    I am an engineer, but what I find important and necessary is that you just learn things as you go along. -- Terrence Howard



    October 28, 2016

    Moon joke...

    I hear there's a new restaurant on the Moon, great view but no atmosphere!

    Earth's Moon

    October 4, 2016

    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #7 - VFO Mode

    This is an article in a series regarding the Azden AZ-61 6m FM Transceiver.

    Scott, K6PYP, sent me an email asking for help with VFO on his AZ-61.  The AZ-61 has two receiving modes: VFO and memory.  The various functions on the vintage AZ-61 are a challenge to operate without instructions.  Thank you Scott for your question.  Hope the information below helps AZ-61 owners master the VFO mode on their AZ-61.

    VFO Mode

    • To change from memory mode to VFO mode simply present the VFO key.
    • To change the frequency to 52.520 MHz press the follow sequence of keys:
      • 52*52
    • NOTE: If you don't press the next key within 1.5 seconds after pressing the * key the displayed figure becomes 52.000

    UP key and DOWN key

    • You can use the UP key and DOWN key to change frequency.  The frequency will increase or decrease each time you press the UP key or DOWN key.
    • If the frequency difference is large present the FUN + UP or DOWN to change the frequency by 1 Mhz.
    • High speed frequency changes can be made by pressing and holding the UP key or DOWN key.  When the frequency nears the desired value, release the key.  The feature is called TRIUP and TRIDOWN.

    Photo of the Azden AZ-61 hand held transceiver
    Azden AZ-61 HT


    Good DX and 73, NJ2X


    Other related articles on NJ2X.COM:
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #1 - How to program the radio
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #2 - disabling "the beep"
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #3 - 1993 review article
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #4 - rebuilding the battery pack
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #5 - how to reset the radio
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #6 - Automatic Power-Off
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #7 - VFO Mode
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #8 - Frequency Step
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #9 - Scanning
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #10 - Dual Watch
    Azden AZ-61 6m FM HT - Tip #12 - Optional Accessories


    © Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

    July 15, 2016

    So where did the name Google come from?

    Q: So where did the name Google come from?

    A: While at Stanford, Larry Page and Sergey Brin explained the origin of the name Google in their famous paper, "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine".

    "We chose our system name, Google, because it is a common spelling of googol, or 10100 and fits well with our goal of building very large-scale search engines."


    Good DX and 73, NJ2X

    July 8, 2016

    July 2, 2016

    Project: Regulating the 12v Output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel

    This article is in a series about using the Nomad 7 Solar Panel for amateur radio use on backpacking trips.  Our prior article was, "Project: Fabricating a Anderson PowerPole to 3.4mm dc connector for the Kenwood TH-F6A".

    Something went wrong during field testing of recharging our Kenwood TH-F6A HT radio using the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.  Sadly, our TH-F6A stopped charging (lights went out) and would then no longer turn on.  This issue occurred within only a few minutes of charging in full sunlight.

    There are a couple of possibilities for the failure:  
    1. The TH-F6A blew one or more of its three fuses due to the relatively high voltage (15Vdc) of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel in full sun.  The TH-F6A is rated at 10Vdc to 16Vdc though the radio's internal voltage regulator converts voltages greater than 10Vdc to heat.  It is possible the 15Vdc caused overheating and blew one or more of the fuses.  
    2. A fuse was blown when the 3.4mm connector was plugged into the radio with power applied to the connector (not supposed to do this per the manual).
    3. Other failure mode?  If you have an idea, please post a comment to this article.
    We will post an update once the radio has been diagnosed and repaired by Kenwood.

    In the meantime, we decided that adding a voltage regulator to bring the voltage to about 11 volts would be a prudent move.  We found an inexpensive ($1.75), lightweight, and low-power, adjustable DC-to-DC switching voltage regulator for sale on eBay that fit the need.   This regulator can be set to produce a stable 11Vdc with an input voltage between 5Vdc and 32Vdc.  The seller claims the MOSFET (LM2577 operating at 50KHz) switching voltage regulation design is 94% efficient.  This means more solar power directed to the battery and less lost to heat.

    DC-DC Auto Boost Buck Adjustable Voltage Regulator with Anderson PowerPole connectors soldered to both the input and output.
    DC-DC Auto Boost Buck Adjustable Voltage Regulator
    Here is the specification sheet that came with the module:

    Technical Parameters

    • Model Specification:DSN6000AUD Automatic Buck module
    • Module Properties:Non- isolated boost (BOOST)
    • Rectification:Non- Synchronous Rectification
    • Input Range:3.8V ~ 32V
    • Output Range:1.25V ~ 35V
    • Input Current:3A ( max ) , no-load 18mA (5V input , 8V output , no-load is less than 18mA. Higher the voltage , the greater the load current . )
    • Conversion efficiency:< 94% ( greater the pressure , the lower the efficiency )
    • Switching frequency:400KHz
    • Output Ripple:50mV ( the higher the voltage , the greater the current , the greater the ripple )
    • Load Regulation:± 0.5%
    • Voltage Regulation:± 0.5%
    • Operating Temperature:-40 ℃ ~ +85 ℃
    • Dimensions:48mm * 25mm * 14mm ( L * W * H )
    To keep it flexible we went ahead and soldered on a pair of Anderson PowerPoles at the input and also the output.  Everything still fit nicely within the carrying pouch of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.  We also modified our operating procedure so that we will only plug and unplug the 3.4mm connection to the TH-F6A when no power is applied.

    There is a small brass set screw on the voltage regulator module.  Turning this set screw allows for very precise selection of output voltage.  We used our multimeter to monitor the voltage during adjustment.  Once set, we used a large piece of heatshrink tubing to encapsulate the module and electrical tape to seal the ends.  This will keep the module waterproof which is important on backpacking trips.

    Testing

    1) Measure the voltage output of the voltage regulator.  Our voltage regulator produced about 11Vdc which was exactly where we wanted it for use with the TH-F6A.

    2) Charge the TH-F6A battery.  We used our second Kenwood TH-F6A for testing.  The battery was a little low so we plugged everything together and it charged perfectly.

    3) Confirm that TH-F6A still functions after charging.  After charging the battery, we disconnected the radio from power.  We then turned on the radio and everything worked perfectly.


    June 25, 2016

    Project: Fabricating a Anderson Powerpole to 3.4mm dc connector for the Kenwood TH-F6A

    In our prior post, "Project: Hacking the Nomad 7 Solar Panel for Amateur Radio Use", we explained how to replace the stock 12Vdc 8mm male connector with the more useful Anderson Powerpole connector.

    In this post, we describe how to make a pigtail cable to connect the Kenwood TH-F6A triband HT to a 12Vdc power source via an Anderson Powerpole connector.  As our starting point, we purchased a Kenwood PG-2W cable from Universal Radio.  The Kenwood PG-2W cable comes with fuses already installed.

    Kenwood PG-2W

    Step 1: Slide on a short length of heat shrink tubing
    • Slide on a short length of heat shrink tubing over both the tinned ends of the PG-2W cable.
    • The tubing will be used to dress the cable and provide a little strain relief.
    Kenwood PG-2W with heat shrink tubing slide on


    Step 2: Solder on Anderson Powerpole contacts
    • Solder (or crimp) on the Anderson Powerpole contacts onto the tinned ends of the PG-2W cable.

    Kenwood PG-2W cable with Anderson Powerpole contacts soldered on

    Step 3: Install the Anderson Powerpole housing
    • The positive wire is clearly tagged on the PG-2W.
    • Install the Anderson Powerpole housing such that the positive contact is inside the red side of the housing.

    Step 4: Test the cable
    • Using your voltmeter, confirm that the positive contact on the 3.4mm dc connector is connected to the red Anderson PowerPole contact

    PG-2W cable back packaging label showing the connector polarity.  The center pin is positive.
    Kenwood PG-2W cable - back of the package showing polarity of the 3.4mm dc connector


    Voila!  That is how we fabricated our very own pigtail to connect the Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel to the Kenwood TH-F6A radio for the purpose of recharging the radio's battery.

    The Nomad 7 solar panel with an Anderson PowerPole soldered on.
    Nomad 7 with Anderson Powerpoles connected

    The Nomad 7 solar panel in full sun charging a TH-F6A.
    Goal Zero Nomad 7 V2 solar panel charging the Kenwood TH-F6A HT Transceiver via Anderson Powerpole cables

    In the next article in this series, we share our project to regulate the 12v output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.


    Good DX and 73, NJ2X

    Other related articles on NJ2X.COM


    © Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016.