A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:
by The ARRL Letter
on July 17, 2014
This week, we'll look at the 1950s. Danny Weil, VP2VB, began his
well-known series of Yasme DXpeditions around the world in 1955,
putting some rare countries on the air. That series lasted until 1963,
and it gave thousands of DXers the opportunity to work some new ones.
W4H -- Wapello County 4-H Expo:
by Marshall Dias (W0OTM)
on July 16, 2014
The Ottumwa Amateur Radio Club in Ottumwa, Iowa is proud to announce that we will be operating the W4H Special Event Callsign this Saturday, July 19th from 10AM-4PM (local time). This event empowers 4-H youth to experience amateur radio. PLEASE take a moment to make contact with this station to help us share amateur radio. You can get additional information about the Ottumwa Amateur Radio Club, W4H, and other club activities at:
Radio Operators on the Communications Frontline:
on July 16, 2014
With events in recent history like Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks on September 11 still fresh in the public’s memory, the emergency preparedness of a community at any given time is always an important topic of conversation. Mobilizing law enforcement and fire departments as well as medical resources is crucial when it comes to saving lives in time of public crisis, but one of the more underappreciated aspects of any emergency plan are communications, and that’s where ham radio comes in. Clifford Brommer, call sign WD4PIC, is the current president of Lincoln County Volunteer Communications. His initial interest in amateur radio began about 15 years ago, when he was invited to a Lincoln County Volunteer Communications Christmas dinner. Since then, he’s served several times as the president of the organization. “I’ve been hooked on it ever since,” Brommer said. Along with the Carolina Amateur Radio Club, Volunteer Communications is literally on the frontlines when it comes to emergency preparedness. All of the members fall under the umbrella of the ARRL, the Amateur Radio Relay League, and while operating a ham radio is 100-percent hobby, it is also 100-percent hard work. According to Brommer, members must be incident-command qualified as well as being listed on a state database for an emergency response team. This means being willing and able to travel to a location in order to provide relief support for a communications network. There are a total of 16 radios in the county, including a complete station in the courthouse. In the event of an emergency, Volunteer Communications has a duty to maintain communications with the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. The duties of amateur radio aren’t all doom and gloom, however. In addition to stepping in for communications in a crisis situation, the Carolina Amateur Radio Club and Volunteer Communications actively participate in the Lincolnton Apple Festival, Denver Days and the Lincolnton Christmas Parade, setting up stations along the parade route to monitor any medical issues or important information that needs to be relayed to parade organizers. With the integration of smart phones, tablets, laptops and all kinds of technological advancement, at one time ham radio was thought to be on its way to extinction, but Brommer says it is quite the contrary. “This club, even though it’s been a short time, has just taken off,” he said. “I’m not sure if there’s anything we put our minds to, we can’t get it done. Younger people are becoming more interested in amateur radio. We have more members than we did 10 years ago.”
W1AW/4 Operation in South Carolina:
by Kevan Nason, N4XL
on July 15, 2014
The second Centennial W1AW/4 South Carolina operation week begins on: Wednesday July 16 at 0000 UTC (Tuesday July 15 8:00 PM EDT) and runs until: Tuesday July 22 at 2359 UTC (Tuesday July 22 7:59 PM EDT)
Amateurlogic 68 Has Been Released:
by peter berrett (VK3PB)
on July 15, 2014
It’s been three years since the ALTV team did Field Day in the wood. We disturb the peace and quiet of Shrock, MS this episode for another Field Day adventure. Listen to the roar of generators and crickets. Learn a little about the history of the site. Take a look at the location, tent and our choice of antennas. Check Wayne’s coax cables with the Megger(we were surprised what we found). Peter joins us to chat about Field Day and a report on his KN-Q7A transceiver kit. Witness the great Quadcopter mishap, plus much more.
Amateur Radio, Electronics Enthusiasts Abound at Firecracker Hamfest:
on July 15, 2014
SALISBURY -- You could probably tell who was on the way to Saturday’s Firecracker Hamfest at the Salisbury Civic Center. The rows of cars and trucks with antennas in the parking lot were one giveaway. Follow the path around the side of the building, and you’d find rows of tents, and tables full of every kind of electronics -- high-frequency radios, CB sets and computers. Inside was a larger electronics bazaar, with antiques, parts and specialized equipment for sale. One of the largest booths was staffed by Larry Councilman, better known to amateur radio operators by his call sign, WB4WTI. Councilman and his wife run AC and DC Electronics, based in Guilford County. “This is what we do for a living,” Councilman said. “We go to 35 or 40 shows a year.” Glowing on the table around his were oscilloscopes and other testing equipment, plus large capacitors and parts used in radio transmitters. The Firecracker Hamfest is put on every July by the Rowan Amateur Radio Society, whose members help staff the event and sell refreshments.
Meet the Retired Mirzas Who Make the Best of Ham Radios:
on July 15, 2014
In between noting down in Braille about those who have checked in, 72-year-old Perviz Mirza excitedly demands that the walkie-talkie be handed over to her! Though she and her 70-year-old brother, Vispi, take turns to go online on alternate days, excitement welled up when she heard familiar voices on Friday night. They were on the "net", a ritual every active HAM follows every night. It's the desire to hear people talk that made the two visually impaired siblings become HAMs. Visible during calamities, and these days frequently on city beaches during Ganpati Visarjan, HAMs are a group of people glued to each other for the thrill of talking on radio and wireless communication devices and their improvised versions. Incidentally, the Mirzas are among the most talkative HAMs around. "I first came to know of HAMs in 1968. Some of my visually impaired colleagues were already HAMs while I was studying in Boston College," said Vispi, who along with his sister are 20-year-old HAMs. Vispi, who used to teach visually-impaired kids, remembers the days when his colleagues in US asked him to become a HAM. Becoming a HAM was not easy, however. As they were visually impaired no one was willing to teach the siblings. "I went to the Nehru Science Centre too, but they were not willing," said Vispi. However, in late 1990s and early 2000 they met someone willing to teach them. "The most difficult part was teaching them the circuit diagrams. A larger picture on butter paper had to be made with another paper below it in order to make them feel and understand it," said Sudhir Shah, their teacher. Now they make it a point to be online from their "shack" as and when they can. "We log in at least once every day. Sometimes it's three times," said Perviz, who used to work in Union Bank. For talking to the "young, smart and intelligent" about the weather, clarity of voice and the devices in use are important.
News from NASA -- The Solar Maximum Finally Flips:
on July 15, 2014
Don’t worry; it sounds dramatic, but this is a natural, recurring phenomenon and totally harmless! The flip in polarity heralds the peak of Solar Cycle 24 and signifies the mid-point in this particular Solar Maximum (the period when the Northern Lights are historically at their most frequent and spectacular). Basically, what the experts are saying is that half of the Solar Maximum is behind us but the other half, very possibly the better half, still lies ahead. Two of the NOAA/NASA* Solar Cycle Prediction Panel’s leading panellists believe that the current solar cycle will start to decline in 2015, but note that their own research suggests that major solar flares and noteworthy geomagnetic activity normally occur as a solar cycle declines.
Ham Radio Enthusiasts Compete In International Event:
on July 15, 2014
DEVENS -- The radio airwaves in Central Massachusetts came alive as thousands of messages were sent out by amateur radio operators, and thousands more were received from around the world during the weeklong World Radiosport Team Championship 2014 that concludes competition today. The championship is held every four years, with Massachusetts picked this year to host 59 teams from 32 countries competing in what is known as the Olympics of radiosport competition. Past hosts have included Finland (2002), Brazil (2006) and Russia (2010). The goal for each two-person team is to contact as many other operators around the world in a 24-hour period as they can. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 ham radio operators on every continent who are aware of the championship, and who will respond when they hear the special call numbers transmitted by the contestants. Organizers of this year's competition picked 65 sites in 17 towns to locate each of the two-person teams. Each team was in the field with identical 40-foot antennas, a tent and generator. Operators bring their own radios, computers, equipment and individual operating styles and skills, and in some cases, their own chairs and cushions to be able to stay focused for the 24-hour contest period. One team member communicates by voice, the other taps out Morse code messages.
13 Colonies Special Event -- What A Blast!
by Ken Villone (KU2US)
on July 14, 2014
The 13 Colonies Special event has passed for 2014, and the results were above ALL expectations! We logged 108,485 contacts!
Amateur Radio Operators Thrive on Communication:
on July 14, 2014
If the idea of powering up an electronic messaging device, tossing out tidbits of information about yourself and what you’re doing, and hearing back from strangers from afar sounds like the modern miracles of the smartphone and Facebook, try again. The days of chatting, texting and making friends with distant people go back more than a century to the infancy of that staple of modern communication, radio broadcasting. Call them hobbyists; call them hams -- amateur radio operators seem to have the same fiery passion for their pastime as today’s social media mavens. They devote hours upon hours to their thirst for reaching out and touching someone. And almost like Facebookphiles and Twitterphiles, amateur radio operators take some pride in sharing breaking news. But where Internet users often work under a post first/verify later way of thinking, many count on ham radio enthusiasts to be the last standing line of reliable communication on the day when “the big one” hits. “If the Internet was down, if regular communication, normal communications with authorities were down, we come into play,” said Robert Zugates, the emergency coordinator for the Indiana County Amateur Radio Club. “We would use our frequencies accordingly to provide communications until they get back up and running.
'On Your Mark... Clear Your Voice...'
on July 14, 2014
LEOMINSTER -- The open skies of Sholan Farms were an asset Friday as two teams used them to compete in what supporters call the "Olympics of amateur radio competition," to determine who is the "best" ham radio operator in the world. The World Radiosport Team Championship 2014 was spread across the eastern part of Massachusetts with locations including Pepperell, Devens, Freetown and Cape Cod. There were 59 teams of two radio operators, known as "hams" from 44 countries who flew in to compete. With more than 1 million hams across the world, organizers used a series of 55 competitions over the past three years to narrow the pool. Event volunteer Gordon LaPointe said teams score points by making contact with hams from around the world. The operator on the other end has to respond and both must identify their call sign and the code for where they are. Those points are multiplied for other accomplishments during the hunt for contacts, such as one multiplier point for each new country the team makes contact with. "There's no money involved," said LaPointe. "You could say they do it for the bragging rights."
Amateur Radio: The World's First Internet:
on July 13, 2014
HAMBURG -- When speaking to someone who is involved in amateur radio, it may sound like a foreign language. A mashup of letters, numbers and technical lingo about electronics and physics. However, amateur radio was the beginning stage for many modern day technological advancements, such as Wifi internet connection, GPS and cellphones. Amateur radio still exists today, not just as a hobby, but also as a means of widespread and more accessible communication. The clubhouse for the South Towns Amateur Radio Society, otherwise known as STARS, can be found on the Nike Missile Base, now known as the Hamburg Town Arena. Just past the BMX park, it’s a small blue building with a radio tower that reaches high above the ground. Operators of amateur radio, known as ‘hams,’ must pass an exam and be licensed. Three levels, or classes, that can be achieved: technician, general and extra. The club itself has a license hanging on the interior wall of the building, and each member has their own personal license. Currently, there are approximately 60-70 participating members. At one point, there were 250 members.
Attleboro Area Gears Up for International 'Ham Radio' Competition:
on July 13, 2014
WRENTHAM - "CQ, CQ, CQ, calling CQ. This is W1UJ." "W1UJ this is W1EQ, Whiskey One Echo Quebec 5908." To the untrained ear this sounds like nonsense, but to amateur radio operators it's a way to communicate with people around the world. Operators use Morse code to call another operator on the same open radio frequency before switching over to spoken language to hold a normal conversation. Amateur radio, or "ham radio," enthusiasts will tell you that it's a fun hobby. But for one weekend every four years, ham radio communication is treated like a major sport. It's called the World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC), and it's the largest ham radio competition in the world. Fifty-nine teams from 32 countries will race to contact as many other amateur radio operators, or "hams," as possible in a 24-hour period. The team that makes the most contacts wins.
For These Vets, Amateur Radio Remains Alive:
on July 12, 2014
Satellites killed the military radio star operator long ago, but military veterans keep the art alive in competitions testing their ability to bounce signals off the ionosphere and contact amateur radio stations a half world away. In their minds, the contestants know technology has gone too far and the days of radio are past. Still, the intimate knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum learned during a career in military and intelligence agencies offers some advantages. And the military’s love for antiquated communications is well established -- from their use of signal flags to messages sent, teletype-style, in all capital letters. Ham radio competitions elicit a similar passion -- and knowledge of some dying skills. Current and former military service members will anchor two of the top teams gathering in the Boston area this weekend for what amounts to the World Cup of ham radio, officially the World Radiosport Team Championship 2014. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Scott Redd, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, is on one of the teams expected to compete for top honors. Current Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Dave Mueller is on another top team with NetApp CEO Tom Georgens. Serving as the grand marshal of the event is Retired Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, himself a ham radio buff. The event, once every four years, requires teams of two people using identical equipment to contact as many radio operators in as many places as possible in 24 hours. In all, 59 teams from 38 countries are competing. The basic technology of the radio and the technique of propagating signals has not changed radically. But ham radios, with station automation, computer connections and improved amplification take advantage of technological advances. “Layered on top is relatively cutting edge technology,” said Mr. Georgens. “There is a massive application of technology to drive operator efficiency.” Winning strategies involve knowing when to try to make huge numbers of rapid contracts in countries that have hundreds of Ham radio stations, like Germany and Russia, and when to pursue contacts on obscure islands that have only one operator, like St. Pierre and Miquelon, a French territory off the coast of Newfoundland. “The winner of this event will be the one who makes the least amount of mistakes, is able to best engineer a station and troubleshoot problems,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mueller. The winners also will have to stay awake, Adm. Giambastiani notes. The contest requires operators to making the most of every minute in a 24-hour competition. So contestants must chug enough caffeine to keep focused constantly. “Fatigue will set in,” said Adm. Giambastiani. “The harder part for the older guys is their bodies aren’t as tough as the youngsters. By 4 in the morning on Sunday you are asking why am I doing this.” At 69 years old, Adm. Redd, a member of the amateur radio hall of fame, is one of the oldest contestants. He acknowledges the young guys have some advantages, but notes he set a world record last year at age 68. “You can stay competitive in old age and there are not many sports where you do that,” he said. The sea services’ love for antiquated communications is well established—from their use of signal flags to messages sent, teletype-style, in all capital letters. Ham radio competitions illicit a similar passion -- and knowledge of some dying skills. The amateur radio contests require mastery of Morse Code, something no longer routinely taught in the military, as well as the ability to bounce radio signals off the ionosphere to reach lonely outposts half a world away. There are some real world military applications, participants note. Special operation forces still use long range radio signals as do Coast Guard cutters on occasion.
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