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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

PSR #142 is Available

The Summer 2019 issue (#142) of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, Packet Status Register (PSR), is now available for downloading here. (FWIW, I am the editor of PSR.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Longwave Awakening

Good news! Longwave is perking up these days.

Nothing new to log, but last night Radio Algerienne was loud and clear on 252 kHz and as was navigational beacon AY in St. Anthony, Newfoundland (1000 watts over 1043 miles) on 356 kHz.

Equipment used: ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and 80-meter dipole antenna.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Birth Of Lee De Forest, Radio Pioneer

Lee de Forest was born on August 26, 1873, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Fifty years ago, I convinced two friends to take a short drive with me to upstate New York to attend a rock concert. That rock concert was called "Woodstock" and the rest is history.

I took my Kodak Super 8 movie camera along for the ride and shot a roll of film. Actually, I only shot a half roll of film that weekend, but about six weeks later, I made the trip a second time and shot the rest of the roll.

After the film was developed, I cut and spliced the film to compare scenes of Woodstock during and six weeks after the event.

I recently digitized the film and uploaded it to YouTube where you can see for yourself what I saw at Yasgur's farm in 1969.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Dirty Lightning

Shortly after replacing the battery in my iPhone, I noticed that it did not always begin charging when I plugged in the lightning cable. I would have to reinsert the connector and/or wiggle the connector to begin the charge.

I figured that the lightning cable was going bad, so I ordered a new cable, but it did not make a difference. Charging was still intermittent, so I ordered another lightning cable, but the problem persisted.

Although charging was intermittent, the iPhone would get fully charged eventually, so I left well enough alone. But well enough got worse the last few days and I had to do something.

I used a flashlight to look in the connector to see if there was an obvious problem. Instead of bare metal, I could see various shades of grey matter inside the connector! It was full of dirt.

I took a straight pin and used it to clean the connector. I couldn’t believe all the crud I pulled out of there! I worked at it for about a half hour until I could only see bare metal inside.

I then plugged in the lightning cable and the iPhone began charging immediately without interruption.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Write for DCC

Technical papers are solicited for presentation at the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC) and publication in the Conference Proceedings. Conference proceedings are published by the ARRL. Presentation at the conference (Detroit, Sept. 20-22) is not required for publication. Submission of papers are due by July 31, 2019. Full Details are here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Write for PSR

The deadline for the next issue of TAPR's Packet Status Register (PSR) is July 31, 2019. Please send your cards, letters, articles, etc., whatever you have, to the PSR editor (WA1LOU) at


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Feeding Weather Underground Successfully

My HP ProBook is now feeding Weather Underground with data from my AcuRite weather station. AcuRite customer service provided the solution.

Getting a new Weather Underground Station ID solved the problem. Why? I don't know, but it worked.

Monday, July 8, 2019

50 Years Ago Today

It was 50 years ago today that the mailman delivered an envelope from the FCC addressed to me. In the envelope was my first Amateur Radio license, WN1LOU.

Back then, the number in your call sign indicated your location in one of the ten US call areas. The 1 in my callsign indicated that I was located in the First Call Area, which was comprised of the six New England states.

The N in the prefix of my call sign indicated that I had a Novice Class license.

Before I opened that envelope from the FCC, I knew that my call sign would have a W, as well as the N and 1 in its prefix. I had no idea what would be the contents of its suffix, so I was overjoyed that my call sign's suffix spelled a word: LOU. Too bad my name wasn’t “Lou,” but that did not matter because over the years, I am called "Lou" on the air about as often as I am called by my given first name and that's OK by me.

WN1LOU morphed into WA1LOU when I upgraded to a Technician Class license two years later.

When I got my Extra Class license, I had the option of getting a new 1 by 2 vanity call sign, but I stuck with WA1LOU while all my friends got new 1 by 2 call signs, but I could not blame them because the FCC blessed some of them with lousy 2 by 3 call signs from the get-go.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, July 5, 2019

July 5 Coastal Tropo

Mid-morning coastal tropo and the NOAA radio station in Southard, New Jersey, was loud and clear, so I moseyed over to the FM band and logged a new station: WCAI on 90.1 MHz. Licensed at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the WCAI 12.5 kW transmitter is actually located across Vineyard Sound on Martha's Vineyard, 121 miles from the WA1LOU receiving station, which was using an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna at the time.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Feeding Weather Underground

I own an AcuRite personal weather station (PWS) that has performed flawlessly. I run AcuRite PC Connect software on my MacBook Pro to feed my PWS data to Weather Underground via. USB connection between the PWS and the Mac.

About two-thirds of the time, I use the Mac away from the PWS, so the Mac is disconnected from the PWS and no data is fed to Weather Underground. I wanted to feed Weather Underground 24/7, so I shopped around for a computer that I could dedicate full time to that task. 

I purchased a refurbished HP ProBook 640-G1 14-inch Windows 10 laptop and it arrived here yesterday. I downloaded the Windows version of PC Connect, configured it the same as the Mac version, but I cannot get it to feed Weather Underground. The software is working OK otherwise, but nothing I tried gets it to feed Weather Underground. 

I am very frustrated. I plan to contact AcuRite customer support next week when they return from vacation. In the meantime, does anyone have any ideas about what could be wrong?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Losing Two Meters

👎 Just got this bad news off the mojo wire from Hackaday:

A story that has been on the burner for a few weeks concerns a proposal that will be advanced to the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2023. It originates with French spectrum regulators and is reported to be at the behest of the Paris-based multinational defence contractor Thales. The sting in its tail is the proposed relegation of amateur radio to secondary status of the widely used two-meter band (144 MHz) to permit its usage by aircraft.

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, June 28, 2019

WXM45 Logged

Lately, I check the vhf bands for enhanced propagation everyday after breakfast. I hit paydirt this morning on 162.425 MHz where I heard the Albany NOAA radio station WXM45 loud and clear for over an hour starting at 1230 UTC.

WXM45 transmits 300 watts from Middleville, New York, 147 miles to the northwest, which I received on my ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna. At 147 miles, it is the most distant NOAA radio station I have received so far.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast

June 21, I received and recorded the BBC's annual midwinter broadcast "to the scientists and support staff in the British Antarctic Survey Team. The BBC plays music requests and sends special messages to the small team of 40+ located at various Antarctic research stations. Each year, the thirty minute show is guaranteed to be quirky, nostalgic, and certainly a DX-worthy catch!" You can read all about it on The SWLing Post and see 49 seconds of my recording below.

2019 BBC Antarctic Midwinter Broadcast as received on June 21, 2019, 2158 UTC at WA1LOU in Wolcott, CT, USA using an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and Hy-Gain 18 AVT/WB-A vertical antenna.

I programmed the four frequencies that were originally announced for the broadcast into the IC-R8600, but learned afterwords that only three were used (5875, 7360, 9455).

I had solid copy on 9455 throughout the broadcast. 7360 had a lot of fading, but was still fair copy. 5875 was very poor copy during the last 10 minutes; there was no copy for the first 20 minutes.

Friday, June 21, 2019

USA's First Black Radio Station

In 1948, Memphis AM radio station WDIA became a community voice and a rock ‘n’ roll star-maker.

Read all about it here.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Dominican Republic to UK TV DX

Mike, KA3JAW, reported that on June 19 around 1600 UTC, two UK TV-DXers in western London detected NTSC analog television channel 2 video carrier on 55.250 MHz, zero offset from callsign HIJB, Tele Antillas in the Dominican Republic. Path distance was over 4,300 miles with the half-way point over the Northern Atlantic Ocean at mid-latitude (40 N). No audio carrier was observed on 59.750 MHz.

During that time, 6 meters was open between the UK and Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic according to a ham radio operator in the UK.

What is puzzling, but also entertaining to me is what was the mode of propagation?

My initial thought was Sporadic-E with four hops with each hop being 1,075 miles. This would be a rare case that I have never experienced in 15 years of TV-DXing. If it was, the signal path attenuation from each consecutive hop would be too high. So, this rules out that mode in my mind.

The more logical mode would be F2 with two hops with each hop being 2,150 miles. In 15 years of TV-DXing, I have received one station from Peru via single hop F2 at 2,783 miles.

On June 19, there were no sunspots, noon 10.7 cm radio flux was 68 sfu and geomagnetic activity at quiet. We are at solar minimum, one of the deepest minima of the past century. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation from the Sun is at its lowest level in a decade. How could this influence F2 ionization?

The following is from Wikipedia on F2 Propagation:
Since the height of the F2 layer is some 200 miles (320 km), it follows that single-hop F2 signals will be received at thousands rather than hundreds of miles. A single-hop F2 signal will usually be around 2,000 miles (3,200 km) minimum. [Yes in our case]
A maximum F2 single-hop can reach up to approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km). [Not in our case]
Multi-hop F2 propagation has enabled Band 1 VHF reception to over 11,000 miles (17,700 km). [Not in our case]
Since F2 reception is directly related to radiation from the Sun on both a daily basis and in relation to the sunspot cycle, it follows that for optimum reception the centre of the signal path will be roughly at midday. [Not in our case, the Sun was between The Bahamas and Cuba.]
Clue: The DXers were not able to receive the audio carrier on 59.750 MHz. F2 has a high cut-off frequency near 60 MHz. [Yes, in our case]

Since these two propagation modes do not fit the parameters, more research is needed.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

More Es and Not


Early Wednesday morning at 6 AM EDT,  Mike, KA3JAW, in Easton, Pennsylvania, was hearing Alabama and Missouri stations on the citizen band. Then an unknown city in Wisconsin (minimum 663 miles) and Chicago (650 miles) at 6:30 AM.

Three hours later during the mid-9 AM hour, 6 meters opened up to Sheboygen, Wisconsin (674 miles).

At 10:07 AM, Es were plowing through the lower FM broadcast band on 88.3 with the first station identified as Cornerstone University, WCSG with RDS [5BCA] in Grand Rapids, Michigan (562 miles to the northwest).

Twenty minutes later, the second station rolled-in: The Faith Center, WFEN, "The Lighthouse" with RDS [6251] from Rockford, Illinois (727 miles to the west-northwest).

Not Es

Meanwhile, at WA1LOU, there were two additions to the log.

June 3 at 1826 UTC, WWF48 on 162.525 MHz, the NOAA weather on Mt. Greylock, Adams, Massachusetts, 70 miles to the north. Normally, 162.525 is dead quiet here. When propagation is good, I usually hear WNG575 on Pack Monadnock, Petersborough, New Hampshire, which is 30 miles more distant than Mt. Greylock, so go figure!

June 8 at 1205 UTC, WEER on 88.7 in Montauk, Long Island, New York, transmitting 1700 watts, 65 miles to the southeast. Normally, 88.7 is occupied by WNHU, the University of New Haven station, 23 miles to the south, but WEER was stronger than WNHU for awhile on Saturday morning. 

Equipment at WA1LOU: ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

E-Skip Season

Driving home from a family picnic last Saturday evening (May 25), I noticed that the FM radio band was in E-skip mode. Since I was driving, I couldn't do any serious DXing and by the time I arrived home, it was too late – the Es were gone.

A few days later, Mike, KA3JAW, in Easton, Pennsylvania, sent me the following report.
On Monday, May 27 from 2234 to 2310 UTC, a single analog video carrier showed up on the Airspy HF+ using SDR Console software on analog TV channel 5 (z) 77.250.710 MHz ranging in signal strength from -115 to -110 dBm via sporadic-E.
I suspect this is Cuban, Tele Rebelde network, callsign CMEA in Santa Clara with 60.3 kW at it true azimuth of 190 degrees. My antenna was aimed due south of 180 degrees. Distance would be 1294 air miles.
Since this signal is very weak, it is not strong enough to view the video and/or sound on a TV set for a true verification.
The accompanying image are signal measurements snips from Airspy-SDR Console.
In  a second email, Mike added...
On Saturday evening, there was Es from my QTH to GA, FL, AL around 2330 UTC until it decoupled from FL state and scaled back into TN at 0057 UTC on Sunday.
Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

TAPR's packetRADIO

After returning home from Hamvention 30 years ago, I wrote the following for ARRL's packet radio newsletter Gateway:
The Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) booth at the Dayton Hamvention was buzzing with the unveiling of a number of new packet-radio products including prototypes of the TAPR "packetRADIO," a low-cost (approximately $250) two-stage VHF transceiver designed exclusively for packet-radio applications. TAPR's packetRADIO features 9600 baud FSK and 1200 baud AFSK 2-meter operation with 25 watts output, five crystal-controlled channels and a transmit-receive turnaround time of less than one millisecond (ms).  
The working prototypes displayed at the Hamvention were the result of a six-week crash project by TAPR. Beta-testing will begin soon with the radios expected to be available to the general public in approximately six months.
TAPR's packetRADIO generated a lot of excitement at Hamvention in 1989, but the project was never completed and was eventually cancelled to the disappointment of many packeteers including myself.

Fast-forward 30 years...

While cleaning out the TAPR warehouse, John Koster, W9DDD, found the packetRADIO prototype and brought it to the TAPR board meeting for show and tell. I ended up with it and brought it home to add to my collection of vintage packet radio TNCs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

AM Radio at Dawn on I-80

The second leg of my drive home from Hamvention began at 6 AM, about 5 minutes before sunrise on Monday morning in Hubbard, Ohio. Since nighttime propagation was still in effect, I was curious as to what the AM flamethrowers on the East Coast sounded like in the Midwest.

First, I tuned to 880 to listen for WCBS. My favorite news station was in and out vying with an unidentified religious station.

Next, I tuned to 1010 to listen for WINS, my other favorite news station. I was surprised to find 1010 completely dead.

I tuned up to 1080, the home of WTIC, my local flamethrower and it was loud and clear with no sign of another station on frequency. I was impressed.

1700 was my next target. Hoping to hear WJCC – not a flamethrower, but a 1 kW FLA station I heard mobile in Connecticut. Instead, I found the reborn WRCR with a weak, but solid signal.

I tuned back to 880 to see how WCBS's signal behaved as the sun rose. For nearly a half hour, WCBS hung in there. Most of the time, it was very weak, but occasionally, it was solid for a minute or two. It finally dropped out of sight at about 6:45. I did not hear WCBS again until I was in Eastern Pennsylvania four hours later.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

First Es at KA3JAW

WSMR RDS on KA3JAW's Sony HD XDR-S3HD Receiver Display

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, reported his first 2019 'in-season' FM-DX reception via Es.

On Friday, May 10, from 10:55 AM to 12:14 PM EDT, Mike heard and saw (RDS text) classical station WSMR on 89.1 FM in Sarasota, Florida, from 1,023 miles distance to Easton, Pennsylvania, via Sporadic-E.

Prior to the reception of WSMR, at 9:35 AM EDT, the MUF was 77 MHz over Maidenhead grid square FM07 (Lynchburg, Virginia) when he was hearing Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the Citizen Band Radio Service (27 MHz/11 meters).

At 11:30 AM EDT, 88.3 WPOZ in Orlando, Florida, also with RDS was received via Sporadic-E.

At 11:59 AM EDT, the MUF rose to 95 MHz above FM06 (Roxboro, North Carolina).

KA3JAW's antenna is an outdoor Antennacraft Y526 designed for VHF-low band TV that is only 114 inches (9.5 feet) off the ground, just 4 inches past the peak of his backyard shed roof, aimed south-southwest. This proves you do not need a high antenna on a tower to receive FM-DX via Es as the signal path is coming in on a low radiation angle.

Mike has posted a couple of videos on YouTube documenting Friday's DX, here and here.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hamvention Bound

This time next week, I will be in Ohio to attend Hamvention.

I will be making a short presentation at the TAPR Forum, which starts Friday morning at 9:15 AM in Room 1. Also, I will be staffing TAPR's booths (Building 5, booths 5001-5003) throughout the weekend and attending the TAPR-AMSAT Annual Banquet Friday evening.

If you will be attending Hamvention, I hope to see you there!

Monday, April 29, 2019

PSR #141 is Available

The Spring 2019 issue (#141) of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, Packet Status Register (PSR), is now available for downloading here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Productive Week

This has been a very productive week so far adding three new stations to the log on Tuesday and one each on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday at 2257Z, I added WGIR on 610 kHz transmitting 5 kW from Manchester, New Hampshire, 122 miles to the northeast.

Thursday at 2329Z, I added WCMA on 900 kHz transmitting 700 watts from Brunswick, Maine, 216 miles to the northeast.

Equipment used were an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and an ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna.

The 2230Z to 2359Z time period which brackets local sunset (2345Z) has some interesting propagation and has permitted me to log some interesting stuff.

After dinner, I go to the shack, power up the radio and tune to a frequency that is dead quiet or has a very weak signal dropping above and below the noise. As sunset approaches, the station gets stronger and may be joined by other stations.

For example, Thursday evening, WCMA was in the mud for awhile and I could not identify it. Then it was joined by CHML, which was building up in strength getting ready to dominate 900 kHz for the night. I am just hoping that WCMA can hang in there long enough for an ID. Finally, WCMA makes its last stand and is strong enough for about a minute to overcome CHML and clearly identify itself!

Lots of fun!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

3 in 17

Logged three new stations in 17 minutes tonight!

2330Z: 780 kHz: WAVA in Arlington, Virginia transmitting 12,000 watts, 286 miles to the southwest

2344Z: 750 kHz: WBMD in Baltimore, Maryland, transmitting 730 watts, 247 miles to the southwest

2347Z: 730 kHz: WPIT in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, transmitting 5,000 watts, 375 miles to the west-southwest

Equipment used were an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and an ICOM AH-7000 discount antenna.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


After a long dry spell, I finally logged a new station Saturday evening: WWDB on 860 kHz transmitting 10,000 watts from Philadelphia, 163 miles to the southwest. When I logged WWDB, "The Multicultural Voice of the Delaware Valley," was broadcasting someone singing The Beatles' Norwegian Wood in a language I did not recognize... something different and more enjoyable than the normal AM radio fare.

Equipment used: ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and 80-meter dipole.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL (SK)

ARLX004 Amateur Radio in Space Pioneer Astronaut Owen Garriott,

QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 4  ARLX004
>From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  April 17, 2019
To all radio amateurs 

ARLX004 Amateur Radio in Space Pioneer Astronaut Owen Garriott,

WA1LOU and W5LFL at 2009 Hamvention
WA1LOU and W5LFL at 2009 Hamvention
The US astronaut who pioneered the use of Amateur Radio to make contacts from space - Owen K. Garriott, W5LFL - died April 15 at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. He was 88. Garriott's ham radio activity ushered in the formal establishment of Amateur Radio in space, first as SAREX - the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment, and later as ARISS - Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.

"Owen Garriott was a good friend and an incredible astronaut," fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted. "I have a great sadness as I learn of his passing today. Godspeed Owen."

An Oklahoma native, Garriott - an electrical engineer - spent 2 months aboard the Skylab space station in 1973 and 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 during a 1983 Space Shuttle Columbia mission. It was during the latter mission that Garriott thrilled radio amateurs around the world by making the first contacts from space. Thousands of hams listened on 2-meter FM, hoping to hear him or to make a contact. Garriott ended up working stations around the globe, among them such notables as the late King Hussein, JY1, of Jordan, and the late US Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA. He also made the first CW contact from space. Garriott called hamming from space "a pleasant pastime."

"I managed to do it in my off-duty hours, and it was a pleasure to get involved in it and to talk with people who are as interested in space as the 100,000 hams on the ground seemed to be," he said in an interview published in the February 1984 edition of QST. "So, it was just a pleasant experience, the hamming in particular, all the way around."

Although Garriott had planned to operate on ham radio during his 10 days in space, no special provisions were made on board the spacecraft in terms of equipment - unlike the situation today on the International Space Station. Garriott simply used a hand-held transceiver with its antenna in the window of Spacelab-1. His first pass was down the US West Coast.

"[A]s I approached the US, I began to hear stations that were trying to reach me," he told QST. "On my very first CQ, there were plenty of stations responding." His first contact was with Lance Collister, WA1JXN, in Montana.

ARISS ARRL Representative Rosalie White, K1STO, met Garriott when he attended Hamvention, "both times, sitting next to him at Hamvention dinner banquets," she recounted. "Once when he was a Special Achievement Award winner, and once with him and [his son] Richard when Richard won the 2009 Special Achievement Award. Owen was unassuming, very smart, kind, and up to date on the latest technology." Garriott shared a Hamvention Special Achievement Award in 2002 with fellow Amateur Radio astronaut Tony England, W0ORE.

Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, was a private space traveler to the ISS, flown there by the Russian Federal Space Agency, and he also carried ham radio into space.

AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin 107.01
DATE April 17, 2019
BID: $ANS-107.01

It is with great sadness that the ARISS team recognizes the passing of our great friend and colleague Astronaut Owen Garriott, W5LFL (SK). Owen Garriott died at his home in Huntsville, Alabama on April 15, 2019.

A passionate amateur radio operator and ionospheric physics researcher, Owen inspired the amateur radio community to reach for the stars. His multi-decade vision to bring amateur radio with him as part of his journey in space was realized in 1983 on the STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia mission, where hams the world over for the first time heard a fellow ham call CQ from space. As the first to operate ham radio in space, Owen blazed a trail that has enabled countless people from around the world to experience what it is like to journey into space and explore our universe. As a result, he inspired the international amateur radio community to extend his modest ham station on STS-9 into an international human spaceflight ham radio program that has spanned the Space Shuttle, Mir Space Station, and International Space Station.

A member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, Owen Garriott was a pioneer and innovator in all his endeavors…including amateur radio. Selected as a NASA scientist-astronaut in 1965, Garriott was the science-pilot for Skylab 3, the second crewed Skylab mission. Skylab was the first U.S. space station, housing 3 different crew expeditions from May 1973-February 1974. Owen spent approximately 60 days on Skylab, doing solar physics research, human physiological research and conducting 3 spacewalks to repair Skylab and extend its research capabilities.

Owen’s next flight into space, as part of an international crew on the STS-9 Space Shuttle Columbia mission, cemented amateur radio’s future as part of the human spaceflight experience. STS-9 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on November 28, 1983. Onboard Columbia was an internationally developed space laboratory, Spacelab-1, which pioneered international spaceflight research with over 70 separate experiments---a precursor to the research currently being accomplished on the International Space Station (ISS). Onboard also was a Motorola 2-meter handheld radio with a window mounted antenna to facilitate ham radio contacts between W5LFL and hams on the ground. On December 1, the third day of his mission, Owen donned his headset and made history by communicating with Lance Collister, WA1JXN, in Frenchtown, Montana. In W5LFL’s own words, here is an excerpt of his first contact: “W5LFL in Columbia is calling CQ and standing by. Go ahead. Hello WA1JXN, WA1 Juliet X‐ray November, this is W5LFL. I picked up your signals fairly weakly. I think our attitude is not really the best as yet, but you're our first contact from orbit. WA1 Juliet X‐ray November, how do you read? Over.”

Owen’s ham contacts on STS-9 were trailblazing for many reasons. They represented the first ham radio contact from a human in space to someone on Earth. They allowed the general public to directly listen and communicate with an on-orbit crew where, prior to this, only NASA mission control personnel or heads of State (U.S. Presidents, etc.) could talk to astronauts from space. And the mission also demonstrated that a group of volunteers could successfully build a ham radio station for a human spaceflight vehicle and get it formally approved by a space agency.

Owen spent decades attempting to carry out ham radio on one of his missions, employing gentle assertiveness and steadfast patience to realize his dream. In 1965, when NASA was considering Owen for a planned lunar flight on Apollo 18, 19 or 20, Project MOONRAY was proposed by the Project OSCAR team. Project MOONRAY would support amateur radio operations from the surface of the moon. This initiative was scuttled when Apollo lunar expeditions ended at Apollo 17. Prior to his flight on Skylab, AMSAT submitted a proposal to NASA called SKYLARC (Skylab Amateur Radio Communications). Unfortunately, this proposal was turned down. But, as they say, the 3rd time was a charm on STS-9 and ham radio is now a human spaceflight reality. Also, it should be noted that an AMSAT/ARISS International team is pursuing Owen’s plans to fly ham radio to the moon via several lunar proposal initiatives, including the Lunar Gateway.

Owen inspired legions of amateur radio operators, world-wide, to support human spaceflight amateur radio endeavors and for countless individuals to become ham radio operators. This includes his son, Richard, W5KWQ, who together with Owen became the first multigenerational American ham radio operators to communicate from space.

On behalf of the ARISS International Team, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Garriott family, including Owen’s son Richard, W5KWQ and Owen’s wife Eve. As Owen has inspired the amateur radio community to reach for the stars may we wish Owen Garriott Godspeed and a wonderful journey amongst the stars.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Battery Day

Lately, the batteries in my iPhone and MacBook Pro have been discharging rapidly. The iPhone is over five years old and the MacBook is over six years old, so I figured it was time to replace their original batteries.

Amazon sells replacement battery kits for $15 and $50 respectively. Both kits include all the tools required for the task.

I viewed how-to videos on YouTube. The only difficult part of the tasks seemed to be removing the old batteries, which were attached to the iPhone and MacBook cases with a two-sided tape-like adhesive. In the past, I've handled worse do-it-yourself computer tasks successfully, so I ordered the batteries from Amazon.

Saturday was Battery Day.

The iPhone battery replacement was not too bad. Working with the tiny screws with my 68-year-old eyes was the most difficult part of the task.

Removing the two-sided tape was a little tricky. You are supposed to grab the tape at one end of the battery and pull it out from under the battery, but the tape kept ripping in my fingers tips. I finally used a needle nose plier to get a good grip on the tape and pull it out.

The job took about 30 minutes from start to finish and was a success. The iPhone is now like new with regard to its battery discharge rate.

The MacBook Pro battery replacement was easier than I expected because the glue holding the battery to the computer case had dried out over the past six years and it did not take much prying with a small chisel to free the battery. It took about 45 minutes to do the job and like the iPhone, the MacBook Pro's battery discharge rate is like new now.

I would have completed the MacBook battery replacement more quickly except that I had a big surprise when I opened the case: dust all over the interior of the computer including large dustballs, as you can see in the photo above. It took an extra 10 to 15 minutes to remove all the dust before I screwed the cover back on to the MacBook case.

I was very pleased with the results. Besides saving money, I also saved time by avoiding a visit to the Apple store.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Last Call: Contribute to PSR

The deadline for the pre-Hamvention issue of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, Packet Status Register (PSR), is here. This is the last call to send your cards, letters, articles, etc., whatever you have, to me by clicking on the WA1LOU mailbox in the righthand column of this blog.

Thank-you and 73,

WA1LOU, PSR editor

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Invitation to Contribute to PSR

The deadline for the pre-Hamvention issue of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, Packet Status Register (PSR), is approaching. Please send your cards, letters, articles, etc., whatever you have, to me by clicking on the WA1LOU mailbox in the righthand column of this blog.

Thank-you and 73,

WA1LOU, PSR editor

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

C.Crane CCRadio3 Notes

I bought a first-production-run C.Crane CCRadio3 AM/FM/WX/2-Meter receiver after reading K4SWL’s preview on his blog, The SWL Post.

I already own the highly-regarded C.Crane CCRadio 2E Enhanced, which I reviewed here five years ago, so I decided to compare the two on the AM, FM and weather bands. Before comparing the two radios, I recalibrated the antennas of both radios, then with the radios sitting side-by-side, I tuned each radio through each band channel-by-channel

My findings follow.

On the AM band, the 3 captured signals faster than the 2E.

Occasionally, signals were stronger on the 3 than on the 2E and vice versa, but most of the time, the signal strength was the same on both radios. So I conclude that the sensitivity of the two radios are the same.

I tried the 3’s new Bluetooth function before reading the manual. I just pressed the Bluetooth button to access the Bluetooth mode and my iPhone and MacBook Pro found the 3 without pressing the radio's Pair button, as instructed by the manual.

In conclusion, the differences I found between the 3 and the 2E were (1) the 3’s ability to capture AM signals was noticeably faster than the 2E and (2) the addition of the Bluetooth function in the 3.

I did not notice any other performance enhancements. I was hoping that the 3 might be more sensitive than the 2E (not that the 2E is not sensitive — it certainly is!), but I'd say that the 3 and 2E Enhanced are about equal sensitivity-wise, as well as selectivity-wise.

Believe it or not moments... During the comparison, I was very surprised that on two occasions (on 820 and 1500 kHz), each radio simultaneously received different stations while tuned to the same frequency!

UPDATE: This post also appeared on K4SWL's ever popular The SWLing Post.

Friday, February 22, 2019

More Taxed Loggings

As I continued working on taxes on Thursday, I logged three new stations:

WATD on 1460 kHz at 2145 UTC transmitting 5,000 watts from Brockton, Massachusetts, 100 miles to the east-northeast

WLMC on 1470 kHz at 0030 UTC (Friday) transmitting 147 watts from Georgetown, South Carolina, 667 miles to the south-southwest

WNAU on 1470 kHz at 0120 UTC (Friday) transmitting 500 watts from New Albany, Mississippi, 1001 miles to the southwest

All three had oldies formats and all were heard on my ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Taxed Logging

While I sit at my MacBook Pro running Turbotax to do my family's taxes, I tune up and down the AM/MW radio dial of my ICOM IC-R8600 receiver, which is sitting next to my computer. I tune to a frequency with a weak station and just let the radio sit there for awhile to see whet transpires as I work with Turbotax.

I don't usually do much IC-R8600 listening during the day, so I am not surprised to find some new stations to enter into the log (two new ones on Sunday and another new one on Wednesday).

WGHQ was Wednesday's catch of the day. Transmitting 1,000 watts on 920 kHz from Kingston, New York, 56 miles to the west-northwest, this was a difficult catch because WGHQ was running neck and neck with WHJJ transmitting 5,000 watts from Providence, Rhode Island, 80 miles to the east. I had to listen to WHJJ's broadcast of Lush Rimbo for over a half hour before I was able to identify WGHQ.

Antenna used with the IC-R8600 was my ICOM AH-7000 discone.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Not the past tense of "go"

WENT (Source: Google)

A half mile down the road, a car hit a utility pole and knocked out power at 2:45 AM. I slept through the power outage until about 5 AM when the house started cooling down and I woke up.

After I called the electric company, I went to the shack to listen to the radio without noise. The LW band was packed with stations, but I did not log anything new. The AM/MW band was humming, too, so I set up my ELAD FDM-S2/FDM-SW2 receiver to record four minutes at the next top of the hour (6 AM) and I went back to bed to warm up under the covers.

Reviewing the top of the hour recording, I logged two new stations.

WPVQ, "The Outlaw," on 700 kHz, transmitting 2,500 watts from Orange-Athol, Massachusetts, 74 miles to the north-northeast.

WENT on 1340 kHz, transmitting 1,000 watts from Gloversville, New York, 120 miles to the north-northwest. (It is the first new graveyard logging since August.)

Antenna: 80-meter dipole

Power returned at 9:45 AM.

Friday, February 1, 2019

VOA 77 Today

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the establishment of America’s largest international broadcaster – Voice of America.

Read all about it here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Recently Logged

Freezing rain and high winds resulted in a power outage in my neck of the woods Monday. I love the sound of a low noise floor in the morning and I logged three new navigational beacons among the 15 I could hear during the power outage that I normally cannot hear otherwise.

CAT on 254 kHz transmitting 25 watts from Chatham, New Jersey, 99 miles to the southwest

SW on 335 kHz transmitting 50 watts from Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York, 67 miles to the west.

FR on 407 kHz transmitting 25 watts from Plainview/Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, 65 miles to the south-southwest

Also added ZZR to the log on January 11 on 317 kHz transmitting 30 watts from Quinte West, Ontario, 290 miles to the north-northwest

All four were received with an ELAD FDM-S2/SW2 receiver and an 80-meter inverted Vee antenna.

Also added WPTK to the log on January 16 on 850 kHz transmitting 5kw from Raleigh, North Carolina, 512 miles to the southwest.

And on January 17, I added CHUM on 1050 kHz transmitting 50,000 watts from Toronto, Ontario, 363 miles to the north-northwest.

Both were received with an ICOM IC-R8600 receiver and an ICOM ICOM AH-7000 discone antenna.

Friday, January 4, 2019


RMQ (Source:
Getting nowhere fast trying to identify navigational beacon RMQ, I posted a message on the IRCA email list and quickly received replies that solved the mystery. It seems that navigational beacon RQM in Rangeley, Maine, has been identifying itself incorrectly as RQM for years! Go figure!

RQM transmits 25 watts from northwestern Maine, 354 miles to the north-northeast on 221 kHz.

By the way, some of the folks who responded to my plea for help belong to the NDB List. If I had been aware of the NDB List, I would have found the answer to my mystery because RQM's erroneous identification has been discussed a few times on the list. Anyway, I joined the list post haste.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Very Happy New Years Eve

Conditions New Years Eve afternoon and evening were interesting.

Earlier, Mike, KA3JAW, alerted me to a geomagnetic storm and possible aurora propagation. Not sure if that was the cause of what I heard, but something was playing tricks with the ether yesterday.

About 3 PM local time, I started tuning up and down the LW and MW bands. LW was dead, but MW was interesting. I immediately logged a new station: WCPA in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, transmitting 2500 watts, 288 miles to the west on 900 kHz. That distance at that time of day was a bit unusual.

As I continued to tune up and down the band, I noticed stations to the west and southwest pounding in — stations I normally don't hear until after dark like WLW on 700 kHz in Cincinnati, 635 mile away, which is way beyond ground wave propagation.

I took a break for dinner and when I returned, the band was still hopping. I could hear Cuban stations up and down the band. All were old loggings except for one new one that was very strong challenging WHAM on 1180 kHz: Radio Rebelde in San Cristobal, Cuba, transmitting 1000 watts, 1433 miles to the south-southwest.

After dark, LW became interesting, too. I was hearing beacons I rarely hear like and DIW on 198 kHz in Dixon, North Carolina, and SJ on 212 kHz in Saint John, Nova Scotia. I did log one new one: RMQ on 222 kHz, but I don't know where it is located because it does not show up on any navigational beacon lists. 

By the way, RQM in Maine transmits on 221 MHz and I had to make sure that I was not transposing its Q and M when I heard RMQ. Also, by the way, RMQ is located in the USA because it did not transmit the long dash between identifications like the Canadian stations do. Still one more by the way, RMQ is the three-letter designator for an airport in Taiwan — I am pretty sure I did not hear Taiwan on LW last night.

Radio equipment used: ICOM IC-R8600 receiver, 80-meter dipole antenna, ICOM IC-AH700 disco antenna.