November 9, 2011

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 transceiver 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.  Crystals 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.

Truely an impressive piece of gear for the time.

Part 1


Part 3

Be sure to also check out the article, "Army Morse Code Training Film 1966".

November 8, 2011

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.

November 5, 2011

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 make the most of your limited radio time when you are chasing an award.

This same trick works with DXCC awards page also.

By Michael Maher (NJ2X)
Be sure to check out NJ2X's article on Hunting LoTW Stations.

November 4, 2011

Army Morse Code Training Film 1966

In 1966, the US Army produced a training film on sending morse code with a straight key.  This is a historical, entertaining, and educational movie.  Check out the giant sized J-38 key!

November 3, 2011

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.

November 2, 2011

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.

November 1, 2011

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 snowfall (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.

Alpha-Delta DX-LB Plus Parallel Dipole Antenna


October 30, 2011

Part 97, do I really need to read it?

FCC rules governing the amateur radio service are documented in Part 97.  Americans interested in becoming hams are faced with an important decision when studying for the exam, "should I read FCC Part 97 rules (or not)?".  It is of course completely feasible to pass any of the FCC tests without having read the Party 97 rules.  This is due to the fact that the exam question pool is freely available and one could simply memorize the answers.

However, we would argue that reading FCC Part 97 rules is a necessary step in the journey to becoming an American Ham.  That is because we all have a responsibility to operate our stations within the legal boundaries and to teach and help others to do the same.  Additionally, reading Part 97 will also help you pass the FCC amateur radio exams.  Knowing the law of the land is part of being a good citizen of this great country.

FCC Part 97 rules are readily available from the FCC and ARRL.  So regardless if you are studying to become a ham, have recently become a ham, or already a seasoned Amateur Extra, we hope you take the time to read and familialize yourself with the FCC Part 97 rules and encourage others to do the same.

October 28, 2011

Super ham shack KA1DMZ

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a tour of KA1DMZ's super ham shack.  Wonderful equipment and installation with both vintage and contemporary rigs.  Enjoy!

October 27, 2011

Antenna Love

Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married.
The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.
Since they were a perfect match, soon they generated harmonics.
Wrapped the harmonics in dipoles.
But later the harmonics turned out to be parasitic elements.
The true story -- she was a tri-bander and he felt trapped, so they went on separate beam headings

October 26, 2011


If you can read this
Thank a teacher

If you can read this -.-. --.- -.-. --.- -.-. --.- 
Thank a ham

October 25, 2011

10 SKED Tips for Hams

The term "sked" is shortened version of the word schedule. It can refer to a flight schedule, a baseball schedule, or any other type of schedule.  In the context of amateur radio, the term refers to a QSO schedule which is a date, time, frequency, and mode that two operators will meet to make a contact. The amateur radio sked is an extremely useful and productive way to acquire challenging or rare DX contacts. We would like to share of few tips about skeds that we have learned over the years to make the overall experience more enjoyable.

1) Communicate.  If possible, use instant messaging during a sked to help coordinate the contact. For example, if at the appointed time, the frequency is busy then it is simple matter to arrange a new frequency via instant messaging.  Email can suffice; through, it is asynchronous and a bit more tedious than instant messaging.

2) Call the station.  Call the station directly when starting a sked.  Avoid calling using a general call to the band (CQ, CQ, CQ). This makes the sked more efficient since it will minimize the possibility of competition from other stations trying to answer the call.  It is inconsiderate to arrange a sked and then make the station wait while you work other stations.  Also, you don't want other stations to answer your call and drown out a weak sked.

3) Be on-time.  Regardless if you are the requester of a sked or the receiver of a sked, once agreed, do show up on time. Nothing is more irritating than to spend time calling for a station that isn't there.  Don't be that guy or gal. If you can't make the sked as agreed then it is your responsibility to let the other party know in advance.

4) Be thankful.  Be sure to thank the sked for helping you (even if the contact could not be completed). A little kindness goes along way.

5) Be helpful.  At the end of the sked, offer to help the sked with bands or modes he made need. The other station may just take you up on the offer and will certainly appreciate the gesture regardless.

6) Select a quiet frequency for a sked.  For example, the 20m PSK31 call frequency is 14.070. This frequency is almost always busy making it difficult to use for a sked.  A sked will be much quicker and effective on a quiet frequency. For weak or rare DX, it is essential to follow this rule.  Remember, you may not get a 2nd chance so make it count.

7) Be ethical.  Never discuss signal reports during the sked.  The exchange (typically call sign and report) must be over the air (not email or chat).  To do otherwise is only cheating yourself and is unethical.

8) Be courteous.  If for whatever reason the contact cannot be made or is very difficult, do not be critical of the other station trying to help you.  It is simply poor form to belittle another operator or a modest station.  Be thankful for the opportunity and try again when conditions are improved.

9) Be friendly.  Treat every new skeds as potential friendship.  Show the same courtesy to your sked contact as you would a friend.

10) Use the LoTW.  If you use the Log Book of The World (LoTW), check out my article, "Hunting for LoTW Stations."

If you haven't tried arranging a sked, give it a try. You may be surprised how much fun it is. If you are seasoned radio amateur or a new ham, follow these tips to make the sked experience a positive one for everyone involved.  Let's keep the international spirit of helping one another alive and well in the amateur radio community.

© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2011.

October 23, 2011

Flying With An HT

In this day and age of increased airport security and frequently changing TSA rules,  many hams are understandably unsure if they are permitted to travel with their amateur radio transceiver / HT when flying.  We have travelled by air with our trusty Kenwood TH-F6A HT domestically and internationally many times without issue.  However, we did so only after researching the topic thoroughly to avoid problems.  The bottom line is: educate yourself, travel smart, and enjoy travelling with your radio.

There are several considerations regarding travelling with an amateur radio or HT. 

Consideration #1) Follow the FCC part 97.11 rules related to stations aboard aircraft.
Part 97 : Sec. 97.11 Stations aboard ships or aircraft. (a) The installation and operation of an amateur station on a ship or aircraft must be approved by the master of the ship or pilot in command of the aircraft.
(b) The station must be separate from and independent of all other radio apparatus installed on the ship or aircraft, except a common antenna may be shared with a voluntary ship radio installation. The station's transmissions must not cause interference to any other apparatus installed on the ship or aircraft.
(c) The station must not constitute a hazard to the safety of life or property. For a station aboard an aircraft, the apparatus shall not be operated while the aircraft is operating under Instrument Flight Rules, as defined by the FAA, unless the station has been found to comply with all applicable FAA Rules.

Consideration #2) Carry on versus checking.
  • Common wisdom is that it is safer for your HT to travel with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Checking your HT brings with it a risk of physical damage from rough handling or possibly theft.
  • Some hams disconnect their HT's antenna as a precaution against breaking off the sometimes-fragile connector.  SMA connectors are notoriously fragile.
  • The TSA's website offers guidance regarding safe travel with devices having batteries.
    • "Keep batteries and equipment with you, or in carry-on baggage - not in your checked baggage! In the cabin, flight crew can better monitor conditions, and have access to the batteries or device if a fire does occur."
Consideration #3) Use of HT while on board the aircraft.
  • Common sense is simple - keep your HT powered off while on board an aircraft.
  • Generally, airlines prohibit turning on radios (i.e. radios are not approved electronic device).
  • Consult with FCC part 97.11 rules.
  • Consult with FAA part 91.21 rules.
Sec. 91.21 Portable electronic devices
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:
(1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or
(2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to--
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
(c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.

Consideration #4) Documentation.
  • When travelling domestically, you may not need to carry your FCC license.  However, it certainly wouldn't hurt to bring it with you and it may actually help if you find yourself trying to explain your HT to airline or TSA personnel.
  • When travelling internationally, bringing your FCC license is both prudent and often necessary per the laws of many countries.
  • It is important to consult with the laws of the countries you intend to travel through.
  • In certain parts of the world, it is possible to be challenged when crossing borders regarding your ownership or place of purchase of an expensive piece of equipment (like a radio).  In these circumstances it is valuable to have a copy of your receipt.  This will help you prove you own the item and that you purchased in your home country.
Consideration #5) Is it worth the bother to bring an HT on a trip?
  • In our opinion, travelling with an HT is very enjoyable to travel with and definitely worth bringing.
  • It is fun to work local repeaters and make contacts with an HT.
  • It is fun to listen to local broadcast radio if your HT includes a wide band receiver.
  • It is fun to travel with other hams who also have their HT's and stay in contact while in your destination.
  • It is fun to use APRS to report your position and other information while travelling.
We hope you find this article an informative and helpful guide on how to educate yourself to make your own decision on travelling with an amateur radio transceiver or HT.  As we write this article we are enjoying listening to a lively discussion on a 2m net via our HT while on a trip.  Having travelled extensively with our HT, our motto is, "don't leave home without it".

Happy Trails and 73,


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© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2011. 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.