ICQ Podcast Episode 229 – Small Computers for Ham Radio

In this episode, Martin M1MRB / W9ICQ is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Martin Rothwell M0SGL, and Ed Durrant DD5LP to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s features is Small computers for Ham Radio.

We would like to thank our monthly and annual donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit - http://www.icqpodcast.com/donate

  • End of Norwegian FM
  • RAYNET Supporting Jaywick Evacuation
  • Illegal Drone Transmitters Complaint
  • CW Saves Man with Broken Leg
  • Czech Keep 60m Band for 2017
  • Small Changes to Australian Plan
  • School Wins ARRL Grant

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 143

Parity Act bill reintroduced in US House of Representatives
The bill’s language is identical to that of the 2015 measure, H.R. 1301, which passed in the House late last summer but failed in the waning days of the US Senate.

Standing desks for Ham shacks?
I’m quickly realizing standing is clearly helpful, because the same problems came up, even though my new chair was more ergonomic.

Ham Radio EMCOMM Go Kit
In order to simplify the cabling between the SignaLink and my laptop I decided to us a powered USB hub and to make the USB hub accessible on the back of the case.
High On Solder

Amateur Radio Club Survey 2017
We’ve just launched our 2017 amateur radio survey to get a snapshot of an aspect of the hobby.
Essex Ham

Ambulances to jam car radios in Sweden
Ambulances in Stockholm are testing a system that interrupts in-car audio systems to warn drivers that they need to get through.
BBC News

Walkie Talkie Duino
An open source wireless shield for Arduino that can send data and audio.

Property owner wants to remove ham radio towers from atop hotel
The property’s new owner wants to take down the repeater site due to what it calls safety and security concerns.

Callsign lookup when portable
QRZ is one of the more popular websites for looking up callsigns but the website is not formatted for use on mobile devices.
Ham Radio QRP

Codec 2 700C
My endeavor to produce a digital voice mode that competes with SSB continues.


Internet over powerline can wipe out the HF band
These devices allow you to use your house power cables as a convenient ethernet connection for sharing the internet. However they are extremely noisy and can wipe out the entire HF band.

Amateur Radio Weekly is curated by Cale Mooth K4HCK. Sign up free to receive ham radio's most relevant news, projects, technology and events by e-mail each week at http://www.hamweekly.com.

The Green Glow

Recent emails from two friends brought new insight into a blog that I had been intending to do for some time.

As has been mentioned on more than one occasion, I discovered radio at the age of 10, after reading an article about shortwave-listening in a drugstore magazine. My father was able to rescue an old GE cathedral from grandpa's downtown barbershop, where it sat gathering dust for several years in the back room storage space. Fortunately, it immediately came to life when plugged in and soon after dad spent an afternoon scurrying about on the roof of our 3-story house in central Vancouver, my radio-adventures began.

As I recall, the first couple of weeks were spent listening to radiotelephone traffic between various tugboats and their dispatchers, in the 2 megacycle marine band. Initially it took me awhile to figure out what I was listening to but found it fascinating to hear the tugboats up and down the coast getting their daily marching orders.

It wasn't too much later that I discovered the international shortwave bands and I was soon keeping detailed logs of my catches and mailing for a coveted QSL. Friday nights were always special as it meant I could DX well into the night and not worry about having to get out of bed for school early the next morning. My 3rd floor bedroom shack was the true definition of 'warm and cozy' and a memory I will always cherish.

Up to this point I had yet to discover ham radio. I must have tuned across a few conversations on phone but evidently hadn't been too awestruck at what I had heard ... perhaps I didn't know what I was hearing or was unable to comprehend some of the expressions they were using or what they were talking about when describing their gear. For whatever reason, the ham radio 'trigger-event' had not yet transpired ... but it soon would.

By this time, I had moved upward, from the Boy Cubs to the Boy Scouts. I must explain that these activities were forced upon me by my parents and not something I particularly enjoyed, especially the midwinter camping trips that were always pouring rain or freezing. Again, from grandfather, I had been provided with an old, virtually uninsulated, WW1 sleeping bag, that wouldn't have kept anyone alive at the western front for longer than a week. These all too regular winter excursions to the rain forest were pure misery and if I wasn't freezing to death then my sleeping bag was usually getting soaked from the river of rain running through the tent ... most of these weekend outings were sleepless and left me feeling like a zombie for the next few days. But ... not every scouting experience was bad and in fact, it was a scouting event that would soon provide my ham-radio 'trigger'!

The opportunity arrived for those that wished, to visit a local 'ham station' to partake in some sort of 'on-the-air experience'. This would have been in 1958 and having been already familiar with shortwave radio, I immediately signed-on.

A few weeks later, about six of us found ourselves in the basement shack of Ernie Savage, VE7FB. Although a stranger to me, Ernie was a well known 75m phone traffic man and an ardent 75m mobile operator. Although he was only about five-foot two, Ernie was a powerhouse of a personality and most of us cowered quietly as Ernie tweaked the dials and with a tight grip on his large microphone, barked louder than his small stature might suggest ... all of us quietly prayed that Ernie wouldn't pass the microphone to any of us.

And then I saw it! Although I didn't know it at the time, it was a pivotal moment in my development and would shape all aspects of my life from that point forward.

courtesy: Paul's Tube Radio Restorations
As Ernie reached up to change the frequency of his mammoth Heathkit DX-100 my eyes gazed upon and then became fixed on the big Heathkit's green dial ... the magical green dial that could take him anywhere he wanted to go, with just a twist of the wrist. There was something about its semi-transparent, alluring green shade that just grabbed hold of me. It was one of the coolest things I had seen in my first experience with amateur radio and I knew, from that moment on, that I wanted to get involved in this amazing hobby. Instead of just listening to signals, I could be making my own!

Heathkit VF-1 VFO Dial
Like so many memories from my youth, this moment is still fresh in my mind ... I can still visualize everything in that room as if I had just left Ernie's shack. Although the warm orange glow emitted by the dials of the equally mammoth Hallicrafters SX-28 'Skyrider' were stunning, it was the inviting glow of the little green Heathkit dial that I found myself focused upon ... how odd this all seems to me now, thinking about it over sixty years later.

Perhaps the Heathkit engineers had learned of the 'power of green' from those earlier genius Hallicrafter's draftsmen ... can anyone deny the alluring appeal of a Hallicrafter's front panel or dial?

Hallicrafters SX-42 Dial
Whatever the reason, Heathkit engineers were no slouches either when it came to luring young radio-crazed boys as well as full-grown men with their eye-appealing ads and clever designs.

As a young teen, I could never afford to buy a DX-100 but I was able to buy a VF-1 and added one to my Heathkit DX-20 magic transporter. With the lights turned off in the high attic bedroom shack, the orange dials of the Super Pro and its backlit S-meter combined with the seductive green glow of the VF-1. It just couldn't get any better!

Until recently, I had no real idea of why I had found the green dials so enchanting but an email from Mark, VA7MM, finally made it all perfectly clear. Mark offered the most plausible explanation ... the diabolical Heathkit and Hallicrafters engineers had been putting Kryptonite in their dials ... the stuff that even Superman found overpowering and unable to resist!

It was now so obvious why countless thousands of young boys and grown men had found these products so difficult to resist ... seems we never had a chance.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #182: You May Experience Browsiness

In this breathtaking episode of Linux in the Ham Shack, your quasi-intelligent and always goofy hosts discuss new Boy Scout merit badges with a ham radio twist, sending balloons into space, Hamvention, Web browser you may not have heard of, a bunch o' Linux distros, upcoming cons, pineapples, great new music, Scotch and more. Thank you for tuning in and Happy New Year for 2017.

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

North American CW QSO party contest

Oliver keeping a close eye
I was able to take part in the North American CW QSO party contest on Saturday, it was only a part time effect with only putting in 5 hours. With the solar conditions in the downward turn I like the local contests as the DX is just south of the boarder. I was operating single operator, QRP power at 5 watts and with no spotting assistance. The two bands I operated on were 15m and 20m, the reason for this was... my MFJ 1788 loop does not go up to 10m and on 40m it's like a wet noodle. Starting on 15m was a very slow go it took me 25 minutes for the first contact! From 1800 UTC to around 1930 CW op's south of the boarder we just above the noise floor at times and when they popped up to S7 it was only for a very short time before fading. Switching over to 20m around 2000 UTC proved to be more fruitful. The conditions on 20m were much better and I was able to work my 5 watts into Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Bermuda as well as all through the U.S.
Part time summery
The P3 in action
Contacts          31
Sections            8
Multi                 4
Total points    372
My setup for the contest was as mentioned the MFJ 1788 loop antenna, The Elecraft K3 the rig has the 8 pole inrad filters 500,400 and 250 which I installed. These filters work great in contest conditions when signal are very close to each other. The Elecraft P3 Pan-adapter   , my new Elecraft K-pod which allowed me to have VFO control right beside my keyboard and as well programed macros.  My key is the Begali contour a very smooth key and  makes CW even more of a pleasure to send. The Win4K3 rig control software, N1MM+ contest software and finally MRP4064 CW decoding program for when the CW is at 40+.
software was

Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

AmateurLogic 100: Episode 100!

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 100 is now available for download.

It’s the 100th episode of AmateurLogic.TV.
Peter makes a quick photo frame. Tommy shows why and how to secure your Microsoft account. Emile demonstrates how to evaluate your Wifi economically. And George experiments with 433 MHz transmitter and receiver modules for the Arduino. Plus the usual unplanned hijinks and shenanigans.



George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

Portable Station Build – Part 3

I am sitting here watching the NFL playoffs and remembered that I never posted my final post about my portable station build. I completed the build last year. I say completed, but of course that does not rule out future modifications. I am a ham after all right? 

The major change from the last post to this one is the addition of a front panel on the lower portion that allowed me to add connectors for power and antennas easily in the front of the box. 

There are two antenna connectors on the left for the FT-857D, one for HF and the other for VHF/UHF. The HF jumper actually is connected to the antenna tuner and there is another jumper goes to the radio. There is also a VHF/UHF connection on the right for the FT-8800R. The power connector I salvaged from a computer power supply and made a power cable that plugs into the Powerwerx power supply. 

The last picture is the setup in action at Field Day. I was running PSK31 with my club on 20m and had a good time. You can see that the radio on the left is running and there is no power connector in the front. In this picture, I have a 35 amp/hour battery under the table feeding power into the RigRunner mounted in the back of the rack. I was able to run low power digital modes all day and into the night. I still had power left over when I went home.  

I have been happy with the rack that I built. Lately I have thought about splitting the radios apart into their own rack as I have found that I don’t use both at once usually. There are also events where I need just the FT-8800R and don’t need the HF gear. Having the FT-857D along for the ride does give me a spare radio if something were to malfunction with the FT-8800 during an event I suppose. So for now, this is the result. 


Wayne Patton, K5UNX, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Arkansas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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