Pumpkin Pie takes in the weather on February 9 and July 28.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Sunday afternoon, I added two stations to my AM radio log: WHDD on 1020 kHz in Sharon, Connecticut, and WWRL on 1600 kHz in New York City. The two are numbers 157 and 158 in the log that I started keeping about 18 months ago.
During those 18 months, I have used four different radios with four different external antennas. I added the latest loggings using a Crane CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW radio and a Terk Advantage indoor AM antenna.
The Terk Advantage can be connected directly to a radio that has external antenna connectors, but may also be inductively coupled to a radio without external antenna connectors. Since the CC SW Pocket has no external antenna connectors, I have been using the inductive coupling option.
Initially, I placed the radio next to the antenna (see first figure). The problem with that configuration was that when I moved the antenna to null out or peak a signal, I then had to move the radio so that it was adjacent to the antenna.
Sometimes the null or peak would change slightly after I repositioned the radio and I would have to tweak the null or peak and reposition the radio again. There had to be a better way.
Since the CC SW Pocket is so small, I tried placing it inside the loop of the antenna (see second figure). It fit perfectly and when I moved the antenna to null or peak a signal, the radio moves with the antenna, thus I usually find the null and peak on the first attempt.
The Advantage is an excellent antenna. It is lightweight and compact with a 9-inch diameter.
It does a great job pulling in signals. Oftentimes, it picks up signals that the radio does not hear with its own internal antenna. Couple the radio with the antenna and suddenly there is a station on frequency that was not detectable sans the antenna.
The dial on the antenna allows you to peak the signal. It is labeled in kilohertz to simplify tuning the peak.
The Advantage also does a fine job of nulling signals. When I logged WWRL, WHNP in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was equally as strong on 1600 kHz. Although the two stations were approximately 180 degrees apart at my location, WWRL to my southwest and WHNP to my northeast, I was able to null out WHNP and hear WWRL in the clear.
One more thing: the Terk Advantage is the coolest looking antenna I have ever owned.
Until next time, keep on surfin'.
Monday, July 29, 2013
- "JT55a - A Minimalist's Error-free Ham Radio Protocol" by Terry McCarty, WA5NTI
- "An Arduino-based DFCW Beacon" by Andre Kesteloot, N4ICK
- "Adventures with the Arduino" by Karl Berger, W4KRL
AMRAD is based in McLean, Virginia, just up the road from the antenna farm pictured in the postcard above. Its monthly meetings always feature on-the-cutting-edge presentations.
By the way, here is the description on the back of the postcard:
"THE UNITED STATES NAVAL RADIO STATION AT RADIO, VIRGINIA. Situated at the southwestern end of Fort Meyer Military Reservation opposite Washington, D.C. Built by the United States Navy Department [Bureau of Steam Engineering]. Land ceded to the Navy Department by the War Department. Rated power of station 100 kilowatts. Towers, one 600 feet high 150 feet square at the base, two 450 feet high 120 feet square at the base, located at angles of an isosceles triangle, large tower at the apex base of the triangle 350 feet between centers of towers, perpendicular to base 350 feet. Normal range: day 2,000 miles, night 3,000 miles. Cost about $250,000."
Sunday, July 28, 2013
|KA6M/R, the first digipeater (Source: www.pprs.oprg)|
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Until I saw this 1944 Motorola advertisement, I had no idea that "Handie Talkie" goes back to World War II.
"The first radio receiver/transmitter to be widely nicknamed 'Walkie-Talkie' was the backpacked Motorola SCR-300, created by an engineering team in 1940 at the Galvin Manufacturing Company (fore-runner of Motorola). The team consisted of Dan Noble, who conceived of the design using frequency modulation, Henryk Magnuski who was the principal RF engineer, Marion Bond, Lloyd Morris, and Bill Vogel.
"Motorola also produced the hand-held AM SCR-536 radio during World War II, and it was called the 'Handie-Talkie' (HT). The terms are often confused today, but the original walkie talkie referred to the back mounted model, while the handie talkie was the device which could be held entirely in the hand (but had vastly reduced performance). Both devices ran on vacuum tubes and used high voltage dry cell batteries. (Handie-Talkie became a trademark of Motorola, Inc. on May 22, 1951)." (Source: Wikipedia)
The name Henryk Magnuski, principal RF engineer of the walkie talkie, rang a bell. One of the packet radio pioneers was Hank Magnuski, KA6M; in 1980, his callsign was used for the first packet radio digipeater in the USA, KA6M/R in the San Francisco Bay area.
And it tuns out that Henryk Magnuski is Hank Magnuski's father!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has succeeded in creating hollow-core photonic-bandgap optical fiber, which allows light to travel along its length at around 99.7% the speed of light, or a 30% improvement over conventional (silica glass) optic fibers. In DARPA’s fiber, light travels through an air gap, allowing for networks that are faster, have more bandwidth, and traverse greater distances.
Read the rest of the story at Extreme Tech.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Technical papers are now solicited for presentation at the annual Digital Communications Conference (DCC) for publication in the Conference Proceedings. Seattle is the site for this year's DCC and September 20-22, 2013 are the dates.
Annual conference proceedings will be printed; presentation at the conference is not required for publication.
The DCC is an international forum for radio amateurs to meet, publish their work, and present new ideas and techniques. Presenters and attendees have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn about recent hardware and software advances, theories, experimental results, and practical applications.
Topics include, but are not limited to:
- Software Defined Radio (SDR)
- Digital voice
- Digital satellite communications
- Global position system
- Precise timing
- Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS)
- Short messaging (an APRS mode)
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
- HF digital modes
- Internet interoperability with ham radio networks
- Spread spectrum
- IEEE 802.11 and other Part 15 license-exempt systems adaptable for ham radio
- Using TCP/IP networking over ham radio
- Mesh and peer to peer wireless networking
- Emergency and Homeland Defense backup digital communications in ham radio
- Updates on AX.25 and other wireless networking protocols
- Topics that advanced the ham radio art
Maty Weinberg, KB1EIBor via the Internet to firstname.lastname@example.org
225 Main Street
Newington, CT 06111
Guidelines for submissions are here.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Reading "Coak and Dagger: More Cuban Spy Broadcasts" in the July issue of Popular Communications, writer Steven Handler mentioned that Cuban spy stations transmit data using "Redundant Digital File Transfer (RDFT), a digital mode developed for amateur radio operators."
I need to get out more because I was not familiar with RDFT. In fact, I had never heard of it.
A little Googling and I discovered that RDFT was the first digital modulation signal format for digital SSTV and was the brain child of Barry Sanderson, KB9VAK. I plead ignorance because SSTV is one of the few ham radio modes I have not tried. (After all, who wants to see my mug? I might get an FCC citation for scaring the kids.)
Chapter 9 of Image Communications on Short Waves also known as the "SSTV Handbook," a freely downloadable e-book by Martin Bruchanov, OK2MNM, covers RDFT.
There is also a YouTube video of a recording of a Cuban numbers station using RDFT on July 24, 2011, on 9063 kHz in the AM mode.
Beyond RDFT, Rick Muething, KN6KB, proffered SCAMP (Sound Card Amateur Message Protocol) at the 2004 Digital Communications Conference (DCC). "SCAMP leverages the work by Barry Sanderson, KB9VAK and employs an ARQ 'wrapper' around Barry's Redundant Digital File Transfer (RDFT) scheme to provide the error-free automatic operation necessary for today's modern digital message systems.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!
Monday, July 22, 2013
In October 1929, WTOC signed on as the first broadcasting station in the Savannah area on 1260 kc with 500 watts day and night, omni-directional. It was an enterprise of the civic group Junior Board of Trade that was the forerunner of the Savannah Jaycees. Later, WTOC increased to 1,000 watts daytime, finally settling on 5,000 watts day and 1,000 watts at night.
The NARBA nation-wide frequency shift in 1941, moved WTOC to 1290 kc. Shortly thereafter, WTOC built a four-tower array in Garden City, Georgia, and increased to 5,000 watts at night (directional).
The station was assigned the WTKS call letters by the Federal Communications Commission on January 25, 2002. (Source: Wikipedia)
Sunday, July 21, 2013
In conjunction with the stamp issue, I present a postcard depicting another New England lighthouse and a nearby wireless station: Highland Light in North Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A Naval radio station was located at Highland Light in 1904, assumed great importance during World War I and was guarded by a detachment of Marines. (Source: Highland Lighthouse History)
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Dziadek and Babcia Gogolewski owned a Zenith multi-band (broadcast, shortwave and police) floor model radio similar to the circa 1936 model 10-S-160. (It has been almost 50 years since I have seen the radio, so for all I know, it might have actually been a model 10-S-160.)
Often when we visited my grandparents, I would fiddle around with the Zenith and try to hear what I could hear. The radio probably needed some work because I did not hear much, but what I did hear stimulated my budding interest in radio.
Dziadek died in 1965 and Babcia decided to sell the house. When she was moving out, she entrusted the radio to a neighbor for safe keeping until she settled into her new digs.
After the dust settled, my grandmother tried to reclaim the radio, but the neighbors claimed she gave it to them. Babcia spoke Polish and very little English, so there may have been a failure to communicate or her neighbors were thieves. In either case, that radio was never handed down to me. Too bad because it was a beautiful piece and held a lot of memories.
Friday, July 19, 2013
According to Telegraph and Telephone Age, November 16, 1921, Radio Central Station is designed for world-wide communication which includes Europe, South America and the Far East. This Super-Station is situated at Rocky Point (seven miles east of Port Jefferson) on the northern shore of Long Island, seventy miles from New York City. The station site covers 6,400 acres or 10 square miles.
The construction began in July, 1920, and the first test signals were sent in October, 1921, a little more than a year later, a record in itself when one considers the great amount of work accomplished. 1,800 tons of structural steel were used to erect the first twelve towers, each employing approximately 150 tons.
Each tower is 410 feet in overall height and the cross arm or bridge supporting the antenna wires at the top is 150 feet long. 8,200 tons of concrete were employed for the foundations of the twelve towers, the base of each tower leg being sunk nine feet below the ground with a total base area of 360 square feet. The distance between two adjacent towers is 1,200 feet or nearly three miles from first to the twelfth tower.
Each antenna consists of sixteen silicon bronze cables 3/8 inches in diameter stretching horizontally from tower to tower. In all, fifty miles of this cable has been used for the first two antenna systems. The ground system for both antenna consists of 450 miles of copper wire buried in the ground in starfish and grid-iron fashion.
The first power-house section covers a space of 130 feet by 60 feet and accommodates two 200 K.W. high frequency transmitting alternators with auxiliaries and equipment. A sending speed of 100 words per minute is possible with the use of each transmitting unit at Radio Central. This means a combined sending speed of 200 words per minute for the two completed units. The present wave length in use is 16,500 meters.
The erection of additional antenna units forming the spokes of the huge wheel and further improvements which are being made will correspondingly increase the transmitting capacity of the big station.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
TAPR is the initialism for Tucson Amateur Packet Radio, the ham radio organization that has been at the on the cutting edge of digital radio technology for over 30 years.
I have been a member of TAPR for almost as long as it has been in existence. Presently, I am on its board of directors, serve as its secretary and edit its quarterly newsletter, PSR.
Every year, I staff TAPR's booth at the Hamvention in Dayton, Ohio. And invariably, every year a handful of attendees will come up to our booth and ask, "How are things in Tucson?" or something similar indicating that they believe that TAPR is a ham radio group out of Tucson, Arizona.
In truth, TAPR is related to Tucson in name only. The organization was founded there, but is not headquartered there. TAPR's mailing address used to be a post office box in Tucson, but that has not been the case for awhile.
None of TAPR officers or directors live in Tucson and although TAPR does have members who reside in Tucson, the majority of TAPR's membership are scattered all over the world.
And by the way, TAPR is no longer involved in "amateur packet radio," and has expanded its horizons to become a “community that provides leadership and resources to radio amateurs for the purpose of advancing the radio art.”
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Work on the next issue of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, PSR, is underway and this is a call for articles for that issue, the End of Summer - Pre-Digital Communications Conference (DCC) issue of the newsletter.
The deadline for the next issue of PSR is August 15. Please send your cards, letters, articles, etc., whatever you have, to the editor of PSR, wa1lou (@) tapr.org
By the way, the DCC is in Seattle this year, September 20-22. The DCC details are here.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
One thing leads to another on the Internet and the proof is in the pudding. Here’s the pudding.
Rich Holock, KY6R, e-mailed me a little while ago about an interesting story he had written. But at the time, I was busy waiting for The League to make up its mind about the future of Surfin', so I was distracted and did not pay much attention to KY6R's missive.
I just received a follow-up e-mail from Rich pointing out that his article has been picked up and posted on another website. Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled concerning Surfin', I got my dupa in gear and checked out his article.
It tells Rich's story about working the Canal Zone back in 1974 and finally receiving a QSL for the contact nearly 40 years later. It is a great story and I highly recommend it.
I also recommend perusing DxCoffee, the website that posted Rich's article. It is a very cool website, "expressly for DXers" edited chiefly by Pasquale La Gamba, IZ8IYX, K8IYX. It is very good looking and well-organized containing lots of interesting and useful information for both the DXer and the non-DXer alike.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!
Monday, July 15, 2013
Yesterday, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at 1132 Meriden Road, Waterbury, CT. At about 5:30 PM EDT, I looked up toward the east-southeast and saw a plane travel just above the treetops from left to right. It caught my eye because it looked like it had pontoons.
While watching the plane, I noticed the an object traveling in the opposite direction beyond the plane about 30 degrees above the horizon. The object was much farther away than the plane. It was just a point of light, a reflection of the sun moving very slowly out of a stratocumulus cloud into the clear sky.
The object did not travel in a straight path, but seemed to twist and turn slowly. As it did, the reflection would dim and the object would become a darker object momentarily, then the object would twist and turn again and become a point of light or reflection of the sun. It was as if one side of the object was very reflective, while the other side was dull and not reflective.
While I watched it, it traversed about 15 degrees in about 10 minutes along a generally horizontal path. Then it encountered another cloud bank and faded away into the cloud bank.
Weather conditions were partly cloudy, temperature 85ºF, a light westerly breeze, and no precipitation.
What did I see?
A balloon is my guess: a silver metallic balloon that they sell in stores for parties with graphics on one side (the dull side) and nothing on the other side (the reflective side).
The only thing that contradicts that guess is that if it was your standard party balloon, could I even see it considering how far away it seemed to be. The object came out of one stratocumulus cloud and disappeared into another. Stratocumulus clouds top out at about 6500 feet and these were at a 30 degree angle above the horizon not overhead, so who knows how many miles away the object was located.
Could I see a 12-inch wide balloon X miles away?
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
People have asked me how does NGØE’s VHF Propagation Map come up with the propagation information that it displays on its map. The following explanation comes right from the website’s source code.
This map shows actual radio propagation from stations operated near 144 MHz. It uses data gathered by Automatic Packet Reporting System-Internet Service (APRS-IS) from packet stations in the amateur radio service.
The map shows activity that has happened in the past hour. Paths are combined to create color-coded footprint indicating the distance VHF signals are likely to be traveling. Packet stations typically run low power into small vertical antennas. Better equipped stations should exceed the the distances these stations report. The map is updated automatically, typically several times per minute.
The map is created using positions (latitude and longitude) reported by nodes in the packet radio system and the hops from node to node that the data travels. By correlating the hops with the position of each end of the hop, the distance can be inferred.
The following is a typical packet that illustrates the process:
In this packet, station STJOHN reports its position as 39 degrees 16.93' north and 94 degrees 54.35' west.
The packet took the path STJOHN, K0SUN-10, AI4GI-3, N5ALC-3. If we previously received and recorded the locations of each of these stations, then we know the distance it traveled between each of the station pairs: (STJOHN, K0SUN-10), (K0SUN-10, AI4GI-3), (AI4GI-3, N5ALC-3).
Errors can be present in the data used to create the map. Some stations operate on HF frequencies, which result in much longer distances than VHF typically supports. Occasionally a packet radio station on a high altitude balloon or satellite appear. Some stations incorrectly report their position, often by hundreds of miles, causing local communication to be misrepresented.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Make: Newsletter points to a YouTube video that shows how build a pocket-sized power supply, which you can take to the next ham radio flea market for testing any battery-powered gadgets to see if they work.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
The U.S. Navy has decided to stop using all capital letters ("all caps," for short) in its official communications, according to this story from the Wall Street Journal. U.S. Army personnel hope that the Army will do the same.
I was very active on RTTY during the 1970s and quickly got used to the all caps communications afforded by my Teleptype Model 28 ASR.
What a behemoth! Getting the 28 up one flight of stairs to my bedroom ham shack in my parent's cape was a major achievement. When it was printing full speed ahead, it seemed to shake the whole house.
My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1.
I vividly remember buying the TRS-80 in 1978. I was the very first computer customer at the Radio Shack store where I purchased it. The Shack salesman could not fathom why anyone would want to buy a computer, but he was happy to sell me one. And the TRS-80 was all caps out of the box.
"In order to display lower case, one had to add an eighth memory chip. This modification became a popular third-party add-on, along with a character chip with descenders for the lowercase letters. Later models came with the hardware for lowercase character set to be displayed with descenders." (Source: Wikipedia)."
Radio Shack offered to install an upgrade kit for a nominal price and that is the route I took to unstuck all caps.
Coming full circle, I traded in my all caps Model 28 ASR for a Model 33 ASR because the 33 did ASCII and was a perfect printer for my upper and lower case enabled TRS-80.
Thank you Norman Wald, W9VQ, for passing along the Navy story.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!
Monday, July 8, 2013
Lately, I have been chasing DX on the AM and FM broadcast bands and the LW mixed-use band. I have been concentrating on AM and LW and visit FM when the band is open.
Here are my stats for the three bands:
LW - 56 stations logged - best DX: BBC4, London, UK, 3375 miles
FM - 13 stations logged - best DX: WOMR, Provincetown, MA, 147 miles
AM - 152 stations logged - best DX: WWL, New Orleans, LA, 1256 miles
Here is my radio equipment for the three bands:
2007 Subaru Outback Sport standard radio (for AM, FM)
Crane CCRadio-SW (for AM, FM)
Crane CC SW Pocket (for AM, FM) (see photo)
Kenwood TS-440S (for LW, AM)
40-meter inverted Vee (for LW, AM)
Built-in whip antennas on the Crane radios (for FM)
Built-in ferrite antennas on the Crane radios (for AM)
Built-in antenna on 2007 Subaru Outback Sport (for AM, FM)
Crane CC Twin Coil Ferrite (for AM)
Terk Advantage (for AM) (see photo)
Saturday, July 6, 2013
I was shocked when I read in Friday's newspaper that K1EM had died on Tuesday.
K1EM, Clem Paskus, and I go back a long way. I first encountered Clem during a VHF contest back in the 1970s and I probably logged him in nearly every VHF contest I participated in after that.
Clem lived in Terryville in my grandparents' neck of the woods and when I moved to Compounce Mountain, we were only four miles apart as the crow flies, but I usually only saw Clem face-to-face at the Dayton Hamvention, 605 miles away as that same crow flies.
Another time I ran into Clem was at a big polka bash here in town, where he was attending with his wife. I was not surprised to see Clem there because Clem and I were Poles; he often called me "Stash" or "Stashu."
Funny how you become friends with someone you meet on the air, but you have no idea what they do in the real world. Back about 15 years ago, I was changing channels on the cabled television and while passing by the public access channel, I noticed someone who looked like Clem. So I hung back to see if it was my old radio friend and indeed it was. Clem was speaking at a town meeting and he was wearing a police uniform. Turns out that not only was he a policeman, but he was the chief of police!
I missed Clem on the air and at Hamvention the last few years. Little did I know he was seriously ill. Now I will miss him forever.
Do widzenia, K1EM.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, sent out a call for help to fill the gaps in the Appalachian Mountain chain of APRS stations attempting to achieve the coveted Golden Packet on Saturday, July 20.
Here is the text of WB4APR’s e-mail:
We have an urgent need for Ham Packet Ops on mountain tops in New Hampshire, Mount Greylock, MA, Sams Point, NY, Clingmans Dome in the Smokie Mountains and Roan Mountain NC.
This is a 4 hour event making our annual attempt at the Golden Packet, an APRS packet message from Maine to Georgia along the Appalachian Mountain Chain on Saturday 20 July.
All you need is an APRS radio that can digipeat (D72, D700, D710) and a power source and antenna. (and Know how to operate it!) All of these sites are “drive up” except Sam’s point in New York. The attempt is from noon to 4 PM. Remember, Tim, KA1YBS has to begin in the dark to climb a full MILE straight up to get to the top of Mt Katahdin in Main and then get back down before sunset. Hence, the 4 hour window.
This is our 4th annual attempt and last year we were successful except for only one broken link in NH. Will you be available to help make history? The Golden Packet was proposed back in the early 80’s. It has never been claimed since the rise of the Internet that has eclipsed all DX packet attempts. We will do this every year even beyond success. It is a good test of emergency long distance packet techniques.
If you can activate one of the above 5 sites, please see detail links on this page for each site and learn all you can:
Think of this as Packet Radio FIELD DAY! These 14 sites have been well surveyed and we know the links will work, if everyone can get in place and KNOW how to operate their radio.
Other secondary sites are also invited on Stone Mountain, GA, Lookout Mountain TN, and Huntsville Mountain.
Update: Bob indicated this morning that there are only two mountains remaining to be covered for this event: Killington, Vermont, and Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
In response to the ARRL's decision to drop his online column The Amateur Amateur, Gary Hoffman, KBØH, has relaunched his column independently at the-amateur-amateur.com.
The staff here at WA1LOU wishes Gary the best of luck with his new venture!
And this blog post represents the relaunch of my column Surfin', which was also dropped by the ARRL.
As I wrote in the first installment of Surfin' way back in December 2000, Surfin' discusses webpages related to ham radio. In each installment, I will strive to identify and describe interesting and unique websites devoted to hamming. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me and I will consider them.
Anyway, enough with the preliminaries and on with the relaunch of Surfin' --- long may it wave.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!