My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Advisory: Requests for Information from the Public and the Press Regarding Puerto Rico

Many individuals have loved ones in Puerto Rico and they are understandably hopeful that Amateur Radio operators can relay messages to them. As a result, some are contacting amateurs with requests to pass message traffic to the island.

At the same time, individual amateurs and clubs have reported that local press representatives have contacted them to request information about Amateur Radio involvement in Puerto Rico. This is likely to increase as word spreads in the national media about our activities.

For inquiries from the public, ARRL advises that these individuals should be informed that amateurs traveling to the island to support the American Red Cross effort will be tasked with handling outbound traffic only. With that in mind, members of the public should access the American Red Cross Safe and Well System online at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php. Status information from friends and relatives in Puerto Rico will be entered into the system as it arrives from amateurs stationed there.

For press inquiries, please ask reporters to contact ARRL directly at newsmedia@arrl.org.  A system has been established at ARRL Headquarters to respond to press inquiries in a timely and accurate manner.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Noise Gone At Last

As I wrote here in June 2016, I am very happy with my ELAD FDM-S2/SW2 SDR receiver, but there was a problem: interference from the MacBook Pro battery charger/power supply. The interference was so strong that only the strongest AM stations are above the noise.

I eliminated some of the noise when I reconnected an antenna switch to ground (after it had become mysteriously disconnected), but that did not eliminate the noise completely.

I installed ferrite cable clips on the charger's cable, but that made no difference. I wrapped the cable 20 times around a toroid ferrite core, but that made no difference.

The only solution that worked was to use the ELAD-MacBook Pro combo without the battery charger. This gives me a few hours operating without the interference, but sooner or later, the battery would need to be recharged.

A few days ago, I was using my MacBook and the battery was getting low. I was too lazy to go upstairs to fetch my charger, when I noticed my daughter's MacBook Air battery charger/power supply on the kitchen table unused. So I decided to try it even though it is a different model than the one bundled with my MacBook Pro (45W vs. 85W). Despite the difference, it charged my MacBook Pro without working up a sweat.

I wondered how my daughter's 45-watt charger would perform with the ELAD receiver, so I took it to the radio shack, made all the connections and voila! the 45-watt charger was clean. No noise at all!

I did a little Googling to see if there were any gotchas about using the wrong charger with my MacBook Pro and found this, which claimed that the charger, "will not charge the machine at all while in use, and will only trickle-charge the machine while asleep."

That was just the opposite of my experience, but to make sure I was correct, I used the 45-watt charger while running the ELAD FDM-SW2 software and it took my MacBook Pro's battery from 75% to 99% in about an hour.

That was good enough for me. I Googled the 45-watt charger, found it for sale here for $55 and ordered it as fast as PayPal could handle it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mystery on 1370

On September 19, I heard a very weak station on 1370 kHz at 0500 UTC. It was so weak that all I could hear were voices mumbling way down in the mud. I could not make out a single word and would have tuned to another frequency, but right at the top of the hour, there was a high-pitched tone (time signal) followed by weak, but decipherable Morse Code.

Just four letters: TRLB or TRLD. The signal faded badly on the last letter and I am not sure if it was a B or a D. I searched high and low trying to find out what those letters signify, but I have found nothing. Grasping for straws, I thought maybe that the TR was really a C, but I could not find anything on CLB and CLD either.

Since then, I have been returning to 1370 at the top of the hour, but I have not heard a repeat of the Morse code.

If anyone has a clue, I would sure like to hear it!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Old is New

After some needed hardware arrived last week, I finally got my 37-year-old Hy-Gain 18AVT/WB-A vertical back on the air. On the AM/MW front, I was immediately rewarded with three new entries in the log!

Compared to the 80-meter inverted Vee, the noise floor of the vertical is much lower, while signal strength on the vertical is slightly lower on the vertical with most stations. On the other hand, switching back and forth between antennas, I heard a handful stations on the each antenna that I could not hear at all on the other.

Anyway, here are the new stations I heard with the vertical:

WMBS on 590 kHz in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, transmitting 1 kW, 376 miles to the west-southwest.

WSLB on 1400 kHz in Ogdensburg, New York, transmitting 1 kW, 248 miles to the north-northwest.

WJFK on 1580 kHz in Morningside, Maryland, transmitting 50 kW, 282 miles to the southwest.

The receiver was the ELAD FDM-S2/SW2.

Monday, September 18, 2017

VHF DX


Art, W1AWX, lives in Eastern Mass and occasionally sends me frequencies of VHF activity in his neck of the woods to check at my QTH here 90 miles away in Central Connecticut. At the Boxboro Hamfest, Art said he would send me the frequency of the Mt. Monadnock State Park Search and Rescue repeater output (151.385 MHz) in southern New Hampshire to check out.

Mt. Monadnock is 95 miles away and I had doubts that I would hear the repeater. But one afternoon, I tuned my ELAD FDM-S2/SW2 receiver (connected to my ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna) to 151.385 and about an hour later, I heard some traffic on that frequency that jived with state park search and rescue chatter.

I reported my success to W1AWX and he suggested I check the repeater's input frequency (159.375). Hearing the repeater output is one thing, but hearing stations on the repeater input seemed unimaginable in light of the fact that stations on the repeater's input probably are transmitting less power with less efficient antennas than the repeater.

I tuned my receiver to the repeater's input anyway and a few minutes later, I was very surprised to hear a station with state park search and rescue chatter on the channel!

Monday, September 11, 2017

My Four-Day Weekend


0900 UTC Monday morning was productive. I heard Jacksonville, Florida's WBOB on 1330 kHz again and added two new stations to the log:

WBTN on 1370 kHz transmitting 85 watts from Bennington, Vermont, 89 miles to the north-northwest.

WPLM on 1390 kHz transmitting 5 kw from Plymouth, Massachusetts, 118 miles to the east-northeast.

All were heard on my ELAD FDM-S2/FDM-SW2 SDR receiver and 80-meter inverted Vee.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»

I finished installing my vintage Hy-Gain 18AVQ vertical antenna today. After connecting the antenna to radio, I immediately noticed that the noise floor was much lower with the vertical than with my 80-meter inverted Vee. I look forward to giving the vertical a workout the next few nights.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»

I attended the Boxboro Hamfest Friday and Saturday and had a good time meeting up with old friends and making some new friends, too. The weather was perfect and I spent some time perusing the flea market, but I did not buy anything. Indoors, I bought a Powerpole tool kit and an assortment of Powerpole terminals to help me begin Powerpolling my radio shack. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What's New


I have not blogged much since the eclipse because I have not had much to blog about until now.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»

The dozen recordings of the AM band that I made during the eclipse turned up nothing interesting. In fact, the one anomaly that I heard live during the eclipse did not show up in my recordings.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»

Thursday night EDT at about 0300 UTC, there were carriers galore on the AM band: on 621, 657, 828, 864, 1035, 1242, 1278, 1485, 1503, 1656 and 1692. 1656 even had weak, but unintelligible audio.

I never saw anything like it and at first, I thought there was something wrong with my radio because there were also carriers on 725, 898, 933, 966, 1173, 1208, 1312, 1346, 1415, 1553, 1588 and 1622 that don't match up with any normal broadcast channels I am aware of.

Friday night, about the same time, there were carriers only on 585 and 855, so I guess my radio (ELAD FDM-S2) was not broken the night before.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»

Saturday evening at around 2230 UTC, I grabbed my C.Crane CCRadio 2E and tuned around the AM band. On 1270 kc, I heard a weather report that was warmer than the local weather, so I stuck around and was rewarded with a new station: WLBR in Lebanon, PA, transmitting 5 kW, 204 miles to the west-southwest. That was a very nice catch just using the internal antenna in the venerable 2E.

đŸ“»đŸ“»đŸ“»  

Next weekend, I will be in Boxboro, Massachusetts for the New England Division Convention. I plan to arrive mid-afternoon Friday and attend a DX Dinner Friday evening. Saturday, I will take in the workshops and presentations of interest and peruse the flea market and exhibitor booths, then drive home Saturday evening.

I hope to see you there!