A New 3.5 GHz CB Radio Band?

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Is a new “CB” allocation of 100-200 MHz in the 3.5 GHz microwave band just around the corner? Possibly, according to Bennett Kobb, AK4AV. Not “Citizens Band” but “Citizens Broadband Radio Service.” Scroll through the embedded presentation above. Quite interesting.

Source: Hackaday

Matt, W1MST, is the editor of AmateurRadio.com.

The bands are slipping

Band conditions seem to have vastly deteriorated from what they were just a few months ago. It's not that propagation is non-existent, it's just that it seems to have left us in a bigger hurry than I would have thought.

I went out at lunchtime today (around 1730Z) to find activity on 15 Meters to be nil.  A quick scan of 17 Meters revealed not so much.  Just a few months ago, both these bands were hopping with all kinds of DX. It wasn't all that rare to hear Europe, South America and Asia all at the same time! It wasn't all that rare to hear a good amount of activity on 12 and 10 Meters just a few short months ago.

Since 15 and 17 seemed inactive, I went to 14.061 MHz and called CQ after QRLing to make sure the frequency was dead.  I was answered by fellow New Jerseyan, QRPer and blogger, Chris KQ2RP who gave me a 559 from Maine.

After that, I worked fellow Polar Bear, Ken WA8REI who is having a hard time enduring the heat and humidity in Michigan.  It's hard to put up with the Temperature Humidity Index when you have so much fur! ;-)  Ken was a good solid 579 here when the QSB wasn't wreaking havoc. We had a nice little chat and then it was time for Ken to go, and my available lunchtime minutes were growing short, too.

Before heading in, I decided to check out 17 Meters one more time.  There, blasting in at 599+ was GA14CG, the Special Event Station for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.  There was a bit of a pileup, but he was so loud that I figured that I could work him, if only I could place myself correctly.

With time running short, I was able to eventually find the right spot.  GA14CG was using the ol' racetrack pattern scheme. Start at a frequency, move a bit higher after each call, reach a high point and then continue to work stations, moving a bit lower after each QSO until arriving at starting point and starting the process all over again. Essentially, he was doing laps, which I guess was appropriate considering it's the Commonwealth Games.  I placed myself correctly on the return trip home and got into the log. They're on the air until August 3rd, so you have plenty of time to work them.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

After 25 Years

Last February I celebrated 25 years in Amateur Radio. Unlike many who were licensed at a  young age, I didn't get my ticket until I was 32 years old. In fact I recieved my license the same day that my then 12 year old son,Michael received his. We had consecutive calls, KB5ILS and KB5ILT. We subsequently upgraded to extra and received AB5EA and AB5EB. My son kept the later call but I recieved the vanity call AD5A in 1996.

As a teenager my cousin exposed me to shortwave listening. As many of us will say, it was magic to be able to sit in my bedroom and hear signals from around the world. I was mesmerized. I couldn't wait for the mailman each day to see if a QSL card might arrive. However, there were no local hams, learning morse code seemed impossilble, so I never pursued my ham license until years later, when I came across a Gordon West course in the local Radio Shack. The course cover proclaimed that a novice license was good for 10 years and you could talk on 10 meters. I bought the course, my 12 year son listened along as I did, we learned the code together.

So fast forward 25 years, what has changed? I supposed in many ways things have changed a lot. Things like:

- Internet
- Email
- Enhanced Digital Modes
- Online Confirmations
- Equipment functionality

I'm sure I'm missing a few things, but the efficient access to information is much easier now. QSL routes used to be one of the great mysteries of the world, in fact, INDEXA used to have a net on 14.236 that dipensed the lastest QSL route news. Setting schedules required weeks/months of letter writing. Increasing your DXCC count meant turning the dial, find the pile-ups and then back down to figure out the split, find which DX station might be on and then jumping into the fray . Logging was manual and data mining your log for forgotten contacts was a laborious task, but just as rewarding. DXing news came in weekly newletters not daily emails.

But there are some things that haven't changed:

- The concern over how to fund expensive expeditions
- Frequency cops
- QRMer's
- Complaining about the cost of getting a real QSL card
- The thrill of receiving that QSL card
- The excitement of a new one
- The magic of wirelessly communicating around the world
- Dayton, Friedrichshafen, DXCC, IOTA, WABA, etc....

Like some many things, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here is a toast to the next 25 years, God willing.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

It was 45 years ago today ……

that "Men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind."

I was 12 years old and was obsessed with anything that had to do with the manned spaceflight program. Some of the earliest TV memories that I have included the launches of Alan Shepard and John Glenn during the Project Mercury days. As young as I was, I don't think I missed a second of any live television coverage of Project Gemini (that didn't occur while school was in session, that is!). My sister and I dutifully wrote to NASA requesting any free "NASA Facts" literature that they would send us. And they sent us plenty! I think I built every Revell model that there was that had anything to do with manned spaceflight,

On July 20th, 1969 my family and I were glued to the TV the entire day.  I believe it was just around 4:00 PM when we heard those famous words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."  Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra were the commentators. I had watched them so much that they felt like part of the family. I remember Walter removing his glasses and uttering "Wow!" when those famous words were relayed, finally announcing that men had successfully landed on the lunar surface.

Fast forward to that evening.

After a sufficient amount of pleading. my parents let me stay up past my bedtime in order to watch the first live TV from the moon.  When Neil Armstrong pulled the cord that lowered the panel from the side of the LM, revealing the TV camera, we witnessed grainy, ghost like and upside down images from the moon. Someone at NASA quickly inverted the picture and we were able to clearly see the first human being take a fledgling step on celestial body that was not the Earth.  For the next couple of hours, we sat before the TV and we didn't go to sleep until Neil and Buzz had climbed back up into Eagle and had safely closed the hatch.

That was a wondrous time to be alive. To watch history being made - good history being made, is a wonderful thing.  The national will to explore space may have died somewhat with the conclusion of Project Apollo, but countless youngsters learned that it really IS possible to dream big dreams, and to do great and wondrous things.  All you have to do is have the will and ambition to get them done.

Earlier this afternoon I worked WA3NAN , the Goddard Spaceflight Amateur Radio Club station in Greenbelt MD, on 40 Meters Sideband (I know, I know!), in order to work one of the few Apollo 11 Special Event Stations that was on the air this weekend. I tried working N4A and N4R in Alabama, but it seemed like neither 20 or 40 Meters were allowing my signal the hop it needed to get the job done.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

What is This? Digital Modes on KX3

I have been having a blast lately with digital modes like PSK-31 and JT-65/JT-9.  My little KX3 is doing a great job even without having run the temperature compensation. Of course I am keeping my power to 2 or 3 watts - which helps a lot.

I have noticed a strange thing for a while, but I am just now getting around to asking about it.

When I look at the waterfall there is an area that is basically blanked out - for lack of a better term.

Here is a screen shot of the waterfall in WSJTX (JT-65).  You will notice the black area on the left.

Waterfall of WSJTX - What is "black" on left edge?
As you can see there is an area on the left that is in the frequency range, but it is "blacked out".  I wonder how many signals are in this area?

Those if you with a KX3 or those of you that might know what this is - please let me know!  If you know how to fix this, please let me know that as well!

I am looking forward to hearing the responses - I appreciate the help!

Burke Jones, NØHYD, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Kansas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

News in Brief

After coming back from a tour of eastern Taiwan my leg felt very strange, I started to have a fever and began to vomit. In the hospital they diagnosed it as cellulitis and they kept me on an IV-drip for a week. Back home now and feeling a bit better, but I still need a lots of rest and take quite some meds to make sure it doesn’t resurface again.

On our trip to eastern Taiwan I visited BX8AAD – Gene – in Taitung. I hadn’t seen him in over 17 years, so it was a happy reunion. Back in the 90s we were both avid shortwave DXers, now we’re both hams. Funny how things turned out the same for both of us.

Opening my post office box I found 30 QSL cards, which brings my total confirmed DXCC entities to 100. Not that I want to apply for a certificate, because I don’t need another piece of wallpaper; but it is nice to know that I have reached this milestone.

Now for some sad news. The curious, radial loving ostrich is no longer. He died of unknown causes, but most probably due to something that shouldn’t have been eaten by him. Despite him messing up my gear I did like the big bird and he will be missed.
Baishajia Lighthouse
And lastly, on August 16 and 17 I will activate the Baishajia lighthouse here in Taoyuan for the International Lighthouse and Lightship weekend. This is the first time I will do something like this, so it will be fun to see how it works out. I just hope the sun cooperates and sparkles us with some spots.

That concludes the news brief for today. I hope to be back soon with more adventurous adventures. 73

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

Shut down two days in a row!

A foggy view of Toronto from my setup
This weekend I planned on getting some radio time in Julie was going to see a friend who lives out of town on Saturday so I thought I would get out and get hamming. We live right on Lake Ontario and within a short walk and or bike ride there are some great locations on the lake to do some portable op's. On Friday night I charged up the KX3, set out all of the needed items for outdoor ops. Saturday came and off I went, I decided to walk and it turned out to be a longer walk then I thought. I arrived at my
Trail on the way there. 
spot and setup the KX3 along with my Alexloop. Just as I sat down to get some operating time in it started to rain! With no rain gear and about a 1/2 hour to walk back I packed things up and headed back. Well I tried it again on Sunday and this time I took my bike and some rain gear just in case. This time I set everything up and was ready to go until I tried to connect the Alexloop to the KX3…..it seems for some reason I removed the adapter that allowed me to go from PL 259 to BNC at home! There was no way to hook up my antenna to the KX3 radio so I decided the radio god's were just not smiling on my this weekend and I headed back home the long way to tour around the lake.  Lesson learned I now plan to make up a small 3x5 card with all that is needed for the trip.
Small river on my way home. 
One of the many beaches 

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

Solar activity

See http://www.solen.info/solar/ .

Looking at the data on this excellent page, it now looks pretty certain that we have started on the downwards part of the current cycle. This does NOT mean an end to decent HF conditions. For several years to come there will be good days and 15,12 and 10m will still support DX but far less easily than around the sunspot maximum years.

Even in the depths of the last minimum N-S DX was still there to be worked on QRP SSB, so expect some decent openings. This is really where regular WSPR operation will help, by seeing just how often 10m opens up.  As I have said before, operating on the weaker parts of the solar cycle are, in many ways, more challenging and interesting. When 10m is wide open it becomes too easy.

Also, don't forget Es (sporadic-E) which can produce some spectacular DX at the right time of the year - in the northern hemisphere this is usually May, Jun, July and August but Es can occur (more fleetingly) at other times times of the year. This is why regular WSPR operation will help.

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

VO-52 satellite missing in action

It's been a busy couple of weeks here, all good, but busy. Last weekend, a visit to the shack coincided with a pass of VO-52 according to GPREDICT. I listened and listened and didn't hear a thing. Being somewhat new to satellites, I always assume that if I don't hear anything, it's my fault (it usually is!). I checked the TLEs I was using in GPREDICT and all was ok. I checked the 145Mhz receiver - all ok. Very odd.

I didn't have a chance to think about it again until yesterday afternoon when I was in the shack working on a review of the Wouxun UV-8D for Practical Wireless and I noticed that VO-52 was due again. Once again, I heard nothing. Again I checked my receiver and the TLEs. I was now starting to think that perhaps it wasn't me.

On Twitter, I asked my satellite friends if there was any news about VO-52 that I had missed. Ricardo EA4GMZ kindly replied saying that it had been out of order for some days and included two useful links, one satellite status page and secondly to the threads on the AMSAT message board, where if you page down, you will find some messages relating to VO-52.

VO-52 had very quickly become one of my favourite satellites once I got going with it earlier in the year. I hope we shall hear from it again.

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

What next for the autumn?

My thoughts are starting to turn towards amateur radio this autumn.

Unlike in previous years, I cannot imagine being fully fit by then. So, I shall be on the lookout for some new challenges that don't involve driving, don't involve building and probably don't require much, if any, antenna work. Also, it would be helpful if actual talking is kept to a minimum as I find talking very tiring.

I suspect JT65 and JT9-1 will be on the list as I can use (some of) these modes on 630m, 40m, 20m, 10m, 6m, 2m and 70cm with existing antennas.  I may ask for some help to improve my earth electrode antenna for 630m. With luck I may be able to drive again later this year. This means I might be able to restart some field work again.

If you have any suggestions let me know.

Maybe I should try for QRP DXCC on JT65/JT9-1? No talking, use existing antennas and rigs, and a new challenge.

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

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