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

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

Finally

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)

SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX004
ARLX004 Amateur Radio in Space Pioneer Astronaut Owen Garriott,
W5LFL (SK)

ZCZC AX04
QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 4  ARLX004
>From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  April 17, 2019
To all radio amateurs 

SB SPCL ARL ARLX004
ARLX004 Amateur Radio in Space Pioneer Astronaut Owen Garriott,
W5LFL (SK)

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.
NNNN
/EX

AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin 107.01
From AMSAT HQ KENSINGTON, MD
DATE April 17, 2019
To All RADIO AMATEURS
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)
WENT 

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 = RQM

Source: townofrangeley.com
RMQ (Source: townofrangeley.com)
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.