Antenna Summer – part 3

Summer is over and we’re back to work full time. My much anticipated “Antenna Summer” ended rather uneventful. The weather was mostly to blame: it was either too hot to work outside (I burnt myself while working on the metal roof), too wet (two typhoons and a tropical storm passed) or too windy (“Wind! The thing feared most by ham radio operators and stamp collectors”). The only thing I could do was to prepare and prepare more. There are three antennas projects in the pipe-line now, but I still haven’t found the opportunity to put them up. Sigh!

The only antenna project which I could finish indoors was my big loop for medium- and longwave. I started this more than a year ago, but the first iteration was a size too big to be sturdy enough to withstand the strong winds here in Taiwan. A second -smaller- one was build, but not finished before last winter, so I shelved it. When I took it out I found that the wooden spreaders had split due to moisture and the old surplus wire had snapped in several places. Even several coats of lacquer can’t prevent wood from decaying here in the sub tropics, so it was back to the drawing board.

I pulled out my wallet and bought new, thicker wire and PVC pipe for new spreaders. I made a special vice to hold the PVC pipe, templates for the holes and rolled up all of the 180 meters of wire on an old garden hose reel. Being well prepared pays off because I already have half of the loop windings in place. I won’t be able to finish this antenna this summer, but it will be finished this fall.

Currently there are no typhoons heading our way and the temperature has gone from scorching hot to very hot, so the prospects look good. But that leaves me with a conundrum: should I call my next installment on antenna improvement “Antenna Fall” or not?


Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at hans.bx2abt@msa.hinet.net.

Hunting For NDBs In CLE 223

SN-408 courtesy: www.ve3gop.com




This coming weekend will see another CLE challenge. This time the hunting grounds will be:  400.0 - 419.9 kHz.



For those unfamiliar with this monthly activity, a 'CLE' is a 'Co-ordinated Listening Event', as NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of the NDB spectrum.





A nice challenge in this one is to hear the Saint Catharines (Ontario) NDB, 'SN', on 408 kHz. 'SN' is a 15-watter and is well heard, having been logged from coast-to-coast. Look for 'SN's CW identifier, repeated every 10.5 seconds, on 408.398 kHz with your receiver in the CW mode.

Late summer CLEs can often be challenging, not because of poor propagation but more likely, lingering summer lightning storms ... hopefully it will be quiet for your location.

When tuning for NDBs, put your receiver in the CW mode and listen for the NDB's CW identifier, repeated every few seconds. Listen for U.S. NDB identifiers approximately 1 kHz higher or lower than the published transmitted frequency since these beacons are modulated with a 1020 Hz tone approximately.

For example, 'AA' in Fargo transmits on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier is tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident can be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone is actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone is 1054 Hz.

Often, one sideband will be much stronger than the other so if you don't hear the first one, try listening on the other sideband.

Canadian NDBs normally have an USB tone only, usually very close to 400 Hz. They also have a long dash (keydown) following the CW identifier.

All NDBs heard in North America will be listed in the RNA database (updated daily) while those heard in Europe may be found in the REU database. Beacons heard outside of these regions will be found in the RWW database.

From CLE organizer Brian Keyte, G3SIA, comes the usual 'heads-up':

Hi all,

Here is your Early Advice of our next Co-ordinated Listening Event.
We are back to a normal event looking for the NDBs in a narrow
frequency range - and celebrating the equinox on 22nd Sept.
All beginners, occasionals and regulars are very welcome to join in.

Days: Friday 22 Sept - Monday 25 Sept 2017
Times: Start and end at midday your LOCAL time
Range: 400 - 419.9 kHz

Just log all NDBs you can identify that are listed in the range (it includes
400 kHz but not 420 kHz) plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

We last had a close look at this frequency range in CLE208 at the
start of July 2016.
From the Ministry of Useless Information comes the advice that in CLE208
Europe listeners and Rest of the World listeners each heard 107 different
NDBs.

Please look out for the Final Details on Wednesday.

73
Brian
----------------------------------------------------------
From: Brian Keyte G3SIA ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location: Surrey, SE England (CLE coordinator)
----------------------------------------------------------
These listening events serve several purposes. They:
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the online database can be kept up-to-date
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range
  • will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations
  • will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working
  • give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed

Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted there a few days after the event. If you are a member of the ndblist Group, results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

The very active Yahoo ndblist Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other listeners in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

If you are contemplating getting started on 630m, listening for NDBs  is an excellent way to test out your receive capabilities as there are several NDBs located near this part of the spectrum.

You need not be an ndblist member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. 

'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the ndblist or e-mailed to either myself or CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above.

Please ... give the CLE a try ... then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!


Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at ve7sl@shaw.ca.

Digital magazines

Still in the bag
The last time I renewed my QST magazine subscription not only did I get my monthly print addition of QST but I would receive an email about a week or so before the print copy arrived informing my digital copy was waiting for me to download and view. I will admit I was one of those ham's that just wanted to feel the pages, hold an actual copy and ear a page to come back to it later. I had some spare money in my Paypal account and I decided to once again subscribe to CQ magazine but this time I decided to only go with their digital version of the magazine. In the past I had big issues with the delivery of the magazine so I wanted to avoid this again. It was the reason I cancelled my CQ subscription some years ago. As the CQ issues started to arrived I was forced to get used to reading the subscription on line. I found out over time the best method of delivery for me was on my Apple iPad pro. For me it worked seamlessly and to be honest it was the viewing of the occasional QST on my PC that frustrated me with the digital age of magazines. As I read my paper copy of QST each month ignoring the email about a digital copy waiting for me in my inbox! Those at the ARRL who publish the QST magazine are very clever in that they tease you with tidbits "you can view more content in the digital version" "Here is a video of the review that can be viewed in the digital version" I began now and then to download QST's digital version to my iPad pro (once I downloaded the app) After a very short time I was hooked on the digital version. Now the print copy stays on my night stand and sometimes a month goes past and it does not even get removed from the shipping plastic. Why not just subscribe to the QST digital version you ask??  I have now as I found in their FAQ how to unsubscribe from the print version. There is no savings to the member for doing this but I am told that the money saved QST puts that to good use. I have no issue with this and am happy to my this "donation" to the ARRL.
For those of you where like me and have not as of yet jumped into the digital magazine world I will say it's a very interactive way of reading. CQ uses a program called Zinio to view their magazine and QST uses Pagesuite It may just be me but I find Pagesuite easier to use, nice graphics and well laid out and I hope one day CQ will start to use them as well as Zinio.
Some of the advantages I find with having a digital copy are:

  • Ability to view videos (QST often has product reviews and a video to along with it)
  • Web links that can take you to more content. 
  • Ability to enlarge the print which is good for me. 
Some of the disadvantages:
  • You can't just roll up the tablet or PC under your arm and take it with you. 
  • To download a new addition the internet is needed. 
  • To take full advantage of the digital copy again the internet is needed. 
For me I find the Apple iPad pro does an amazing job as I am sure any other tablet would but I am  an Apple fan. As for carrying around my iPad I use the Otterbox product to protect it. The way I look at it if you are going to spend good money on a tablet or phone at least spend 1/4 of the price on something that is going to keep it safe. 

Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at ve3wdm@hotmail.com.

The Joy of the QSO

Since my retirement I suppose I've had a little more time to think, philosophize if you will, about the important things in life. As my work career fades into the past, I've quickly come to realize that events and issues from my work-life, at the end of the day, weren't that important at all. The things that I stressed and fretted over where simply mirages of importance that faded away as time passed.

So, I've asked myself, what is it about Ham Radio that's so important? Many of us spend a lot of time in the hobby, so where is the meaning, where is the value added to our lives? Many of us chase awards, join clubs, go on expeditions and have many significant achievements in our ham careers that bring a certain level of satisfaction. However, what we soon learn is that it's the chase, not the finish that's exciting. I've enjoyed very much chasing DXCC Honor Roll, WAE-TOP, IOTA, SOTA and competing in a variety of  contests. However, once the objective is achieved, the excitement of working toward the goal is gone and the sense of accomplishment is not quite as satisfying as the thrill of the chase.

So in my thinking about what's lasting and important about ham radio, at least to me, starts from  a simple QSO. QSO's bring joy in many ways, i.e., marking a needed entity of the list, working a new club member, getting that rare country that you never thought possible, whether QRP or QRO or perhaps a special contact on Top Band or the Magic Band. It's QSO's that bring joy. However, many of these QSO's are the 599, TU type of QSO and are more focused on accomplishment or earning some award than the relationship side of ham radio.  As I've progressed or maybe matured or perhaps just gotten more sentimental, I get a lot of lasting joy from a simple rag-chew. Does a rag-chew bring my recognition, no. Will it qualify me for any awards, maybe, but probably not. But what it does do is allow me to meet real people with similar interests as me. Since I retired I find that I have more and more rag-chews with the most interesting people. And I am starting to come across guys multiple times and we pick up where we left off from the previous QSO. It's wonderful. I don't have to worry if I've already worked them on the band I'm on, they are glad, at least I think they are, to take my call and have a chat, I don't have to worry about getting a "worked B4" response.

I've found there's lots of unexpected pleasure in the simple things. A simple QSO gives me lots of satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, you may well hear my call in a DX pile up or calling CQ in a contest, but I've learned to stop and smell the roses and the roses of ham radio, to me, are the relationships you can build and develop through conversational ham radio.

 My mode of choice is CW, but I don't suppose it really matters what mode you use. Just get on the air and have a real chat, you might find it brings a little more meaning to the hobby.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at ad5a@gvtc.com.

Magnitude X8 X-ray Flare of Sept 9 2017 (2nd Biggest in Cycle 24)

The sun erupted with an X8 solar flare, one of the largest of the current solar cycle (Sept. 10, 2017). Its source was the same sunspot region that produced an X9 flare last week. We show this in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light at the same time, and each reveals different features. Both are colorized to identify in which wavelength they were observed. The coils of loops after the flare are the magnetic field lines reorganizing themselves after the eruption. The video clip covers about six hours.


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Contact him at nw7us.heliophile@gmail.com.

Early Fall QRP on the Pemigewasset

There is a certain fragrance. The colors are shifting. The air is still except for the sound of crickets. It’s early fall on the Pemi. I stop at a bend in the dirt road and check out the giant pine tree for antenna possibilities.

I toss a line over an arching branch and pull up my 33 foot wire. I set up the KX3 on 20 meters. Now the sound of Morse mingles with the sound of crickets. Stations from Washington operating in the Salmon Run event are calling CQ.

I work six stations in a row and then switch to 30 meters. I call Jerry WA4FQN in TN. He gives me a 559 signal report and we chat for a while. Here’s my log:

17 Sep-17 1908 14.045 W7LKG CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1910 14.045 K7GS CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1911 14.052 N7KE CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1912 14.047 W7VXS CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1913 14.047 WC7Q CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1927 14.041 K7RI CW 599 599 WA
17 Sep-17 1928 10.121 WA4FQN CW 559 599 TN Jerry

You cannot imagine how precious these days are. They are the fleeting days of warm weather in New Hampshire. The hills and valleys soon turn to gold and orange and red. We are in a twilight zone before the cold of winter. The world is ours…. for a while.


Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at w1pid@amsat.org.

FCC Opens 630/2200 Meters Amateur Band; Pre-Registration Required!

FCC OPENS 630/2200 METERS TO AMATEUR USE AS OF OCTOBER 16, 2017; PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED

Yes, the headlines read, “FCC OPENS 630/2200 METERS TO AMATEUR USE AS OF OCTOBER 16, 2017; PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED.”

The FCC has authorized amateur radio use of the 630 and 2200-meter bands, effective October 16, 2017, providing registration procedures have been followed and no objections are received within 30 days.

The PLC (Power Line Communications) database is live and hams may begin registering immediately. They may begin operating on 472 kHz (630 meters) and 137 kHz (2200 meters) as early as October 16 if they register today and receive no objection in the next 30 days. Hams may not operate on the bands without going through this process.

Please fill out the UPC Form, today, to register your station, even if you don’t have any plans on transmitting on these new bands.

It is imperative that all amateurs register, even if they don’t plan to use these bands in the near future, as the FCC rules prohibit UTC (the Utilities Technology Council) from deploying PLC in these bands closer than one (1) kilometer from registered stations. Registration now will protect your ability to use our new MF/LF bands in the future.

News report link.


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Contact him at nw7us.heliophile@gmail.com.

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