This was my first time to visit what is commonly called Dayton. Except now it’s in Xenia. And those who want to ensure that you aren’t a Real Ham if you didn’t attend Dayton wear tee shirts to that affect. So, it’s a thing. But whether you attended the “old” Hamvention or the latest edition in nearby Xenia, that’s a thing, too. And both are ok.
This year, the ICQ Podcast Team had eight of the eleven “Presenters” (British terminology) come to Hamvention and rent an AirBnB in lovely, historic Lebanon, OH. Colin M6BOY arranged for some of our listeners, including two from another podcast team, to donate toward the cost of producing nice ICQ Podcast Team Polo Shirts. They were hits in that they drew quite a bit of attention as we roved the Greene County Fair Grounds in a pack, except for Dan KN6BU who teaches his One-Day Tech Class most of the day on Saturday. The Team was very humbled by the number of listeners who approached us, several times with $20 bills extended to help with production costs. We enjoy talking about amateur radio but to get these expressions of gratitude from listeners is, well, just a humbling experience. Thank you all who took the time to stop and speak with us about the podcast.
The podcast Team is largely from the UK and a couple hold U.S. amateur licenses but must only use them (and the higher power they are allowed) on American soil. During our conference call to organize this first trip by the European group to the States, I offered to bring one of my portable HF rigs to the house we had secured in Lebanon for them to activate their U.S. call signs for the very first time. Martin M1MRB / W9ICQ and Chris M0TCH / N4CTH were able to do this. Martin worked Cuba but that station never got the last letter of his call. Chris worked a couple of stations but the need for a Snickers Bar side-tracked him. But Edmund M0MNG played Big Gun on the front porch as he worked many stations working Grey Line as the 40M band did it’s nightly thing. Dan KB6NU, of CW Geek fame, kept trying to figure out how to connect a keyer he bought in the bone yard to the transceiver. But, of course, I was not any help with my own rig as I haven’t yet gotten proficient in CW. This was a Yaesu FT-891, running 50 then 90 watts into a Wolf River Coils TIA vertical, powered by a Bioenno 20aH Life4Po battery. And Yuengling refreshments. Martin and I conversed well past our due date for sleep. Being about the same age, Martin and I have developed a close friendship during my first and now second stint working with the podcast. A good time was, indeed, had by all. And no one was harmed in the production of this event!
The Team was working quite a number of scheduled, and a few impromptu, interviews with company officials and prominent hams by day (see here), and enjoying visiting with one another by evening. Due to Colin’s midnight editing efforts, we published three time-sensitive product announcement interviews for a special episode on Sunday. But several less time-sensitive ones will come out in the next few months too. We toured WLW, the AM powerhouse of long history near Cincinnati, and the VOA Museum for the Bethany Relay Station. Unique history. And important if you’re a ham radio operator or SWL. The fact that we were doing this tour together after a joint chili dinner with the Amateur Radio Newsline team made it extra special. We thank Neil Rapp of Ham Talk Live for arranging our tour. We compared notes on our individual amateur and broadcast radio experiences while in awe over getting a special instruction on the former 500,000 watt Bethany Relay VOA transmitter. Martin M1MRB and I even got interviewed by the visiting podcast team from Pod People. That was different but most pleasant and enjoyable for us. Good thing that’s an audio-only podcast as we realized we were standing so the NSFW stickers on the back of a pickup truck would have video-bombed our head shots.
Bill N3JIX kept us entertained with his (and my) quirky humor and color-coordinated bandannas. His wit belies his deep understanding of networking radio technology as exhibited in his interview of Gerald Youngblood, President of Flex Radio Systems. Bill and I share a number of common interests outside of amateur radio, including IT which we both have a long history in as well as how libraries work. Ed DD5LP had braces to match his orange team shirt (and new red hair). Ed’s quick-on-the-draw reactions to ham radio discussions was something that I enjoyed immensely. Chris M0TCH has been to the States for work and pleasure several times. So he drove the van. And that was both a good and safe thing. Even though I’m from the States, I had driven 12 hours up and really appreciated the break from driving. Chris was already a friend through our podcast experiences but it was a real delight to spend time with him in person.
But it would be a real contest to see whose sense of humor was best. Some dry, some loud, some witty. But all great in-person QSOs from a team that meets online every two weeks to record a podcast. We missed those Team members who could not make the trip. I truly hope we can do this again whether it’s in Xenia or across the pond. If so, look for the horde of orange shirts. They don’t bite. But they do have fun when it comes to amateur radio.
Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].
Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].
This coming weekend will see another monthly CLE challenge. This time the hunting grounds will be split: 260.0 - 269.9 kHz and 440-1740kHz.
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.
If you've been meaning to participate in CLE, then maybe this weekend is a fine time to try! Lately, we've had a lot of first time submissions so you won't be alone!
As well, if you're trying to learn CW, copying NDBs is perfect practice as the identifier speed is generally slow and the letters are repeated again every few seconds!
A nice challenge in this one is to hear VR - 266 kHz. 'VR' is the outer marker for the '26s' at Vancouver International (CYVR) and is located in Richmond, BC.
'VR' runs 50W into a closed triangular loop but is well-heard throughout North America having been reported as far as North Carolina to the east and Hawaii to the west.. Listen for its upper-sideband CW identifier (with your receiver in the CW mode) on 266.404 kHz.
At this time of the season, summer lightning storms may provide additional listening challenges but maybe we will get lucky. Propagation can often be as good as mid-winter if the lightning cooperates.
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' near Fargo, ND, 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 details:
Our end-of-May Coordinated Listening Event will soon be here.
It will be a hunt for normal NDBs in two contrasting frequency ranges.
As always, first-time CLE logs will be extra welcome.
Days: Friday 24 May - Monday 27 May
Times: Start and end at midday, your local time
Targets: Normal NDBs (not NAVTEX or *amateur beacons)
QRG: 260.0 - 269.9 kHz
plus: 440.0 - 1740.0 kHz
These are interesting frequencies for most of us, with some quiet
wide-open spaces. We last used them for CLE228 in January 2018.
Most of us should be able to hear some NDBs in both ranges, though
Europe only has a handful in the '260s'. From 440 kHz onwards, North
America has a few, mostly around 510-530 kHz, but listeners in Eastern
Europe have a BONANZA – probably over 400 active NDBs in Russia
(RUS + RSE) alone, though for most of us in Western Europe many of
them are hiding among Europe's Medium Wave Broadcast Stations.
*(There used to be amateur beacons using CW on frequencies mainly
around 474 - 478 kHz. Over the years they have been moving to use
other frequencies and modes. Last time we only heard three and only
in Europe. So we’ll no longer be listening for Amateur signals in this
CLE's frequency range)
Please send your CLE log to NDB List, if possible as a plain text email
and not in an attachment, with 'CLE244 FINAL' at the start of its title.
Show on EVERY line of your log:
# The Date e.g. '2019-05-25', etc. (or just '26')
# UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).
# kHz - the beacon's nominal published frequency if you know it.
# The Call Ident.
Those main items can be in any order within themselves, but BEFORE any
other optional details (Location, Distance, etc.) later in the same line.
As always, give details in your log of your own location and the receiver,
aerial(s), etc. that you were using.
If you send any interim logs, be sure to send a FINAL (complete) one.
You can find anything else to help you, including CLE seeklists for your
part of the World, from the CLE page, http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm
Please look out for extra information in the Final Details in a few days
with advice about log-making, etc.
From: Brian Keyte G3SIA ndbcle’at’gmail.com
Location: Surrey, SE England (CLE coordinator)
(Reminder: You could use any one remote receiver for your loggings,
stating its location and owner - with their permission if required.
A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, whether local
or remote, to obtain further loggings for the same CLE).
- 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
The NDB List 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.
You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers.
Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!
Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.
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 [email protected].
Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2019 May 20 0537 UTC.
Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 13 – 19 May 2019
Solar activity was at very low to low levels, with low-level activity observed on 15 May due to a C2.0/SN flare from Region 2741 (N05 L=272, class/area Hsx/160 on 15 May). Very low-level activity was observed for the remainder of the period. Two eruptions were observed in coronagraph imagery, but were directed east and determined to not be geoeffective.
No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.
The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at high levels on 13, 15, and 16 May. Normal to moderate levels were observed for the remaining days in the period.
Geomagnetic field activity reached G3 (Major) storm levels on 14 May due to effects from a CME that erupted on 11 May. G3 storm conditions were observed during the 14/0600-0900 UTC synoptic period, with G2 stom conditions occurring in the 14/0300-0600 UTC period. Active conditions occurred in the 14/0900-1200 and 14/1800-2100 UTC periods. Solar wind parameters at the DSCOVR spacecraft were enhanced with Bt reaching as high as 15 nT accompanied by prolonged periods of southward Bz. Solar wind speed reached a maximum of 568 km/s. Unsettled conditions were observed on 16-17 May. Quiet conditions were observed for the remainder of the summary period.
Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 20 May – 15 June 2019
Solar activity is expected to be very low levels throughout the period.
No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.
The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to be at high levels on 21-24 May and 29 May – 02 June due to coronal hole high speed stream effects. Normal to moderate levels are expected for the remainder of the period.
Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at active levels on 29 May due to recurrent coronal hole activity. Quiet to unsettled levels are expected for the remainder of the period.
Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at: http://SunSpotWatch.com/
Live Aurora mapping is at http://aurora.sunspotwatch.com/
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on Groups.io
Spread the word!
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Links of interest:
Space Weather and Ham Radio YouTube Channel News:
I am working on launching a YouTube channel overhaul, that includes series of videos about space weather, radio signal propagation, and more.
Additionally, I am working on improving the educational efforts via the email, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and other activities.
You can help!
Please consider becoming a Patron of these space weather and radio communications services, beginning with the YouTube channel:
The YouTube channel:
Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.
In this special edition of the ICQ Amateur / Ham Radio Podcast, we interview the breaking hardware announcements from Dayton Hamvention, Yaesu’s FT-3DR Handheld, FlexRadio Multiplex Software and Elecraft K4.
ICQ AMATEUR/HAM RADIO PODCAST DONORS We would like to thank our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit - http://www.icqpodcast.com/donate
Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].
Sometimes radio amateurs suggest that phonetics are not needed on VHF FM. (See examples here and here.) Sometimes it even sounds like it’s a bad thing to use phonetics on FM. It is inefficient and slows things down. I can see the logic behind this because with decent signal strength, demodulated FM audio is usually quite clear and easy to understand.
Here’s what I wrote in my VHF FM Operating Guide, also downplaying the need for phonetics:
The use of phonetics is not usually required due to the clear audio normally associated with frequency modulation. Still, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between similar sounding letters such as “P” and “B”. Under such conditions, use the standard ITU phonetics to maintain clarity. Many nets specifically request the use of standard phonetics to make it easier on the net control station.
The FCC Technician exam gives the topic of phonetics a light touch with just these two questions:
What are the FCC rules regarding the use of a phonetic alphabet for station identification in the Amateur Radio Service?
A. It is required when transmitting emergency messages
B. It is prohibited
C. It is required when in contact with foreign stations
D. It is encouraged
And this one:
What should be done when using voice modes to ensure that voice messages containing unusual words are received correctly?
A. Send the words by voice and Morse code
B. Speak very loudly into the microphone
C. Spell the words using a standard phonetic alphabet
D. All of these choices are correct
In practical radio operating, there are a number of things that can degrade communication, usually by creating noise sources that compete with the voice modulation. Most of these are a factor even if the RF signal is strong:
- A noisy environment at the receiving end (e.g., background noise such as road noise in an automobile)
- A noisy environment at the transmitter (e.g., background noise such as wind noise outdoors)
- Poor frequency response of the overall system (e.g., high frequencies may be lost in the transmitter, receiver or repeater, making it more difficult to understand the voice communication).
- Hearing impairment of the person receiving the audio (I’ve heard that we are all getting older)
- Difficulty understanding the person speaking (poor enunciation, unfamiliar dialect or accent, etc.)
So I say go ahead and use phonetics on VHF FM, especially for critical information such as your call sign. FM communication is not always clear and easy to understand. It suffers from the same signal-to-noise problems as other voice modes. (Perhaps not as bad as SSB on HF, but it’s still a factor.) In most cases, you’ll want to stick with the standard ITU phonetic alphabet (also known as the NATO alphabet).
Many nets request that you use ITU phonetics when you check in. Imagine being the Net Control Station for a net and having everyone making up their own phonetics. You would have call signs coming at you with all kinds of random words associated with them. It is much better to have consistency. However, there are times when you might want to use alternative phonetics. See the HamRadioSchool.com article: Phonetic Alphabets for more insight on that.
Kilo Zero November Romeo
Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].
Thank you for tuning in to Episode 285 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode we wrap up our experiences with day one of the 2019 Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio. We would sincerely like to thank our supports who got us here and for everyone who has visited us in our booth at the show. We hope to see everyone before we leave town on Sunday.
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].