Archive for the ‘ham radio’ Category
We are once again offering our highly-successful Technician License Class in Black Forest, Colorado.
- Earn your ham radio Technician class radio privileges
- Pass your FCC amateur radio license exam right in class on the last day
- Multiple-choice exam, No Morse Code Required
- Learn to operate on the ham bands, 10 meters and higher
- Learn to use the many VHF/UHF FM repeaters in Colorado
- Find out how to participate in emergency communications
Schedule: in-person plus online
Sat Oct 15 9:00 am – 3:30 pm In Person
Sun Oct 16 4:00 – 5:30 pm Online (Zoom)
Tue Oct 18 6:00 – 8:00 pm Online (Zoom)
Sat Oct 22 9:00 am – 3:00pm In Person (includes Exam Session)
In-person sessions are held at the Black Forest Fire & Rescue Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80908
Registration fee: $30 adults, $20 under age 18
Advance registration is required.
Note that the FCC now charges a $35 license fee, payable after you pass the license exam.
Students must have the required study guide: Ham Radio School Technician License Course, 2022 – 2026
To register for the class, go to:
Any questions, contact Bob Witte KØNR [email protected]
This year, the Colorado 14er Event had the normal two-day (Saturday and Sunday) schedule plus two bonus days (Friday and Monday) for four activation days. Of course, Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to activate all four days using VHF/UHF frequencies. Frankly, we have not been doing that much hiking this year, so we were careful to lay out a plan that would work for us over four days.
Kaufman Ridge (W0C/SP-081)
On Friday, we hiked up Kaufman Ridge, which is a relatively easy summit near our cabin. I had an online meeting in the morning that caused us to get a late start this day, but we did chase some activators in the morning. On the summit, we worked a number of stations on VHF/UHF using the IC-705 transceiver. It was clear that most of the activators left their summit before noon, as is the usual practice for the 14ers and high peaks.
Normally, we focus our SOTA fun on VHF/UHF but this time I brought along an end-fed halfwave antenna for 20m and made a few 20m SSB contacts, including one with Elliot/K6EL on Mount Davidson (W6/NC-423). That’s right, a rare HF SOTA activation by K0NR. Joyce and I also turned in a log for Parks On The Air (POTA), which was San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).
Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)
On Saturday, I wanted to focus on making some 1.2 GHz (23 cm) contacts so we chose Pikes Peak as a good platform for that. Pikes is always fun because of its easy access (yes, we drove up) and its high location towering over eastern Colorado. We had Jon/KM4PEH and his wife join us on the summit, taking turns using the VHF/UHF bands. I made 42 QSOs on the various bands but my 23 cm contact with N0OY was the most exciting. I worked him in Salina KS on 1296.1 MHz using CW for a distance of 627km (392 mi). This is my new personal best for SOTA on that band.
Saturday was a good day for Summit-to-Summit (S2S) radio contacts, as I picked up 13 of them, all on VHF/UHF in Colorado. Joyce and I both worked Dave/W0ADV on Capitol Peak (W0C/SR-060) using 1.2 GHz FM. Capitol is a challenging climb, as shown in Dave’s video here.
Pikes Peak is in the Pike National Forest (K-4404), so we submitted our logs for POTA.
Mount Antero (W0C/SR-003)
On Sunday, we got up early and drove the Jeep up Mt Antero Road, parking at about 13,600 feet in elevation. This cuts a large chunk of the distance and elevation off the ascent to 14,268 feet. Besides, who wants to hike on a 4WD road anyway? It is still a decent climb over the rocky trail to get to the top.
This was my fourth SOTA activation of Antero, including its first activation back in 2011. (Actually, I’ve activated this many more times during the Colorado 14er Event, which predates SOTA in Colorado.) The activity was down a bit from Saturday and we were much further away from the large population centers, which is a factor on VHF/UHF. Still, we both made 17 QSOs, including five S2S contacts. We submitted our logs to POTA for San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).
Wander Ridge (W0C/SP-042)
On Monday, we activated one of our favorite summits near Cottonwood Pass, SP-042. Usually, I would refer to this as an Unnamed Summit (12,792), which is the name the SOTA database shows. Dave/W0ADV pointed out this summit does have a name: Wander Ridge, so I’ve adopted it for this special peak. The USGS approved that name in 2017 but it has not yet made it into the SOTA database.
From an outdoor hiking perspective, this was the best summit of the weekend. The hike starts at Cottonwood Pass and follows the Continental Divide Trail south toward the summit. Then, a short off-trail hike takes you to the summit. The weather and views were excellent!
The activity was a bit light but we both made 10 contacts, enough to qualify for a POTA activation (in addition to SOTA). This summit is right on the border of San Isabel NF and Gunnison NF, and we chose to activate it from the San Isabel side (K-4407). We only had one S2S contact, with Steve/K5SJC on Pikes Peak.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with four excellent summit activations. It was wonderful to work our old and new SOTA friends on the VHF/UHF bands. My special thanks go to Pete/N0OY for firing up his mega 23cm station to work me on Pikes Peak.
73 Bob K0NR
What headphones do you use for your radio operation, and WHY do you use that particular make and model?
I use Audio-Technica ATH M30x professional monitor headphones (cans).
I use my rig’s filters to shape the audio.
1. I’ve replaced the over-the-ear pads with Gel pads. Wearing these cans is comfortable enough to use for extended periods of time (such as contests).
2. The mid-range with these cans is superior to other cans I’ve had.
3. They are rugged, so taking them out to the field isn’t a problem.
73 de NW7US dit dit
Guess what! Today, I received (by postal service) this very nice plaque from CQ, for working and confirming all 40 of the worldwide CQ DX Zones.
Many of you wonder, “where are my paper certificates for my WAZ efforts?”
At least one, if not all of the following, are reasons why there has been such a long delay in getting paper certificates for the WAZ CQ program:
- Paper certificates (blanks) were not available and backordered (Covid, folks).
- There is only ONE person doing the lettering (by hand).
- The advent of FT8 and FT4 in the WAZ program has SWAMPED the program. There’s a HUGE backlog.
That said, the new CQ WAZ Manager (N4BAA, JOSE CASTILLO) has made the following statement available:
— quote follows —
Effective September 1, 2022, CQ Magazine will no longer provide the Hand Lettered CQ WAZ paper certificate for free.
CQ WAZ AWARD RECIPIENTS HAVE 4 AWARD OPTIONS:
- Accept the standard award offering which is a High-Definition PDF file. This file can be printed in color and framed and is very nice. This award is delivered immediately with award letter, thus, no waiting.
- Select the traditional CQ WAZ Hand-Lettered award: the cost is $19.00 and includes shipping worldwide. This award option is managed by CQ Magazine and can take up to 180 days to receive.
- Select a Level I plaque: 7” x 9” two-tone engraved wood plaque: cost is $57 US / $100 International and includes shipping. Delivery time is under 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally.
- Select a Level II plaque: 9” x 12” Floating Etched Acrylic over Black Wood: cost is $91 US / $135 International. and includes shipping.
Here is a video that the administrator has posted, about this:
Delivery time is roughly 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally depending on the actual address.
The intent of this program is to respond to the ever-increasing demand for more options that are still very personalized as well as very elegant.
Not every ham is able to achieve the requirements for a 5BWAZ or 160 Meter plaque, so he is making this offering to everyone!
All questions or inquiries and plaque orders should be directed to the CQ WAZ Manager via email at [email protected] or postal mail via QRZ.com address.
All plaque data will be taken directly from the information provided in your email. The CQ WAZ manager will not be responsible for errors in data supplied by the recipient other than AWARD type and Award number.
To Place Order: send the information below via email to [email protected] or via postal mail to my QRZ.com address and please double-check spelling etc.
Email Subject line should be: “WAZ PLAQUE ORDER – YOUR CALL”
Then, provide the following information:
Desired Name on Plaque:
WAZ AWARD Type
(example: MIXED, RTTY, 15M CW, EME, etc.)
SERIAL NUMBER on award:
Date on Award:
– Level 1 plaque – $57 US / $100 International
– Level 2 plaque – $91 US / $135 International
There you have it…
73 de NW7US dit dit
August 5 to 8, 2022
Friday to Monday
Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world. Join in on the fun during the annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. Be aware that many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.
This event is normally held the first full weekend in August. Following up on the success of the 10-day W0C SOTA event in 2021, in 2022 we will add two bonus days to the Colorado 14er Event. The main two days remain Saturday and Sunday (Aug 6 & 7), while the bonus days are Friday Aug 5 and Monday Aug 8th, for those SOTA enthusiasts that need more than two days of SOTA fun!
The 14er event includes Summits On the Air (SOTA) peaks, which includes over 1800 summits! If you aren’t up to climbing a 14er, there are many other summits to choose from (with a wide range of difficulty). See the W0C SOTA web page at w0c-sota.org.
Important: The recommended 2m FM frequencies have been changed to 146.58, 146.55, and 146.49 MHz, to align with the use of the North America Adventure Frequency for SOTA (146.58). The National Simplex Calling Frequency (146.52) may be used as appropriate. See the operating frequencies page.
See the very cool Colorado 14er Event gear available at https://www.cafepress.com/mtngoatwear
Radio operators who plan to activate a summit should post their intent on the ham14er group via the ham14er groups.io website. Also, be sure to check out the event information at http://www.ham14er.org
For a complete list of suggested HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies see this web page.
And there is more!
On the same weekend, SOTA enthusiasts in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon will activate summits for the Pacific Northwest Not-Quite-Fourteener (PNW-NQF) event. Also on the same weekend, the Southern California SOTA group will hold their SOCAL SOTAFEST. So there will be plenty of SOTA stations to work that weekend.
Warning: Climbing mountains is inherently a dangerous activity.
Do not attempt this without proper training, equipment and preparation.
Sponsored by The Colorado 14er Event Task Force
For the June VHF contest, I operated Single-Op Portable from the summit of Pikes Peak. I combined this with Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks On The Air (POTA) activations. In a few hours, I made 80 QSOs on 6m, 2m, 1.25m, 70cm, and 23cm bands. It was a fun time.
Quite a few of the contacts were made on 2m FM, The Utility Mode. Even though CW, SSB and WSJT modes are more efficient (especially with weak signals), FM is still the least common denominator for modulation. Everyone has it, so there are more QSOs available with that mode.FM is the default choice for easy VHF simplex communication.
Where Be Digital?
Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen in my brain, but I started to wonder:
Why the heck, in the year 2022 are we still using an analog mode for so much of our amateur communication?
FM was invented in the 1930s, which is ancient history from a technological point of view. Of course, we do have many handheld and mobile radios available that support digital voice (DV) modulation. In fact, we probably have too many digital formats to choose from, all incompatible, which has fragmented the market. The three dominant digital voice modes are D-STAR (first out of the chute), DMR (a commercial standard) and Fusion (Yaesu’s C4FM offering). I think these all have their advantages and disadvantages which attract various people to support one or more of them. However, none of them is dominant and universal, like FM. It is interesting that virtually all DV radios on VHF/UHF include analog FM because it is The Utility Mode, the fallback modulation that keeps us all compatible.
Universal Digital Voice
For this post, I am primarily looking at this from a SOTA and POTA perspective, which means simplex operation and not repeaters. (However, you could extend this idea to repeaters, too.) I am also not so concerned about keyboard modes, just DV plus some basic digital telemetry that goes with it. It can’t be too complex or it will not be fast and easy to use.
I propose a universal DV mode that is implemented in all VHF/UHF transceivers (think in terms of your typical handheld or mobile transceiver for 2m and 70cm). And yes, go ahead and also implement D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, or whatever, but give us a universal digital format that just works. The key idea is to have a digital least common denominator mode that replaces FM. This mode can be the defacto standard for “meet me on simplex” and become the Next Generation Utility Mode. How cool would it be to get on top of a summit and push the DV Call button and work stations on digital many miles away? The station’s callsign should be embedded in the digital stream along with location data (lat/lon or grid locator) and some user-defined fields ( SOTA reference or other information). This format should also have really good weak-signal performance, significantly better than FM, for when the signal-to-noise ratio is low. All the technology must be open, to encourage wide adoption, with no proprietary codecs or modulation schemes.
The technology for this already exists and it would not be difficult to implement. The real challenge is the lack of industry coordination and collaboration between amateur radio manufacturers. Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing any time soon.
That’s my thought for today. What do you think?
73 Bob K0NR
In May, we met up with our friends Paul/KF9EY and Beth/KB9DOU for a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Joyce/K0JJW and I had been on the parkway before but had not completed the whole route. We all thought it would be a great trip to do together, in about a week, so we would not be in a rush. Both couples have Class B RVs (camper vans), which are well-suited for such a trip.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park Service, construction started in the 1930s and took decades to complete. The basic concept is a scenic road with a maximum speed limit of 45 MPH connecting Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park. We met at the Smoky Mountain end of the parkway and traveled north to Shenandoah.
Of course, we included some Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks On The Air (POTA) activations. The Blue Ridge area is target-rich with SOTA and POTA opportunities.
Our first Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation was from Clingmans Dome (W4C/WM-001), the highest spot in the Great Smoky Mountain NP. This is an easy activation with a half-mile hike (one way) to an observation tower. See my previous trip report here.
We opted for a simple VHF SOTA activation, using a Yaesu FT-2DR handheld transceiver and an RH-770 whip antenna. The observation tower was not too crowded and we were able to make a surprising number of 2m FM radio contacts. We just called CQ on 146.52 and raised a number of home stations, mobile stations, and a few campers. Joyce, Paul, and I all completed at least 10 contacts so we decided to submit the activation for both POTA and SOTA.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Then we headed up the parkway, stopping along the way for photo opportunities, a winery visit, lunch stops, and short hikes. We stayed at different campgrounds for three nights along the parkway. To activate the parkway for POTA (K-3378), we stopped at a picnic area for lunch and set up for 20m SSB. We used our typical POTA setup: Yaesu FT-991 driving an end-fed-halfwave antenna supported by a fishing pole.
The station worked well for us but it was a little slow completing contacts on 20m. A 20 AH Bioenno battery supplied the DC power for the FT-991 and we kept the RF output at around 50 watts. I used HAMRS on my Windows PC for logging and it worked well for me. (That logging program keeps getting better with each revision.) Paul and Joyce preferred to log using old-fashioned pen and paper.
Loft Mountain Campground
We camped the last two nights of our trip together at Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah NP. This is a rather unique spot in that the campground is located on top of a broad SOTA summit and is inside a national park. The SOTA summit is appropriately named Big Flat Mountain (W4V/BR-009), while Shenandoah NP is park K-0064. This makes for an easy SOTA plus POTA activation.
The summit is located inside the National Radio Quiet Zone, which may require you to coordinate with the NRQZ before operating. However, the W4V Association Reference Manual says that “the typical SOTA activation does not require coordination,” mainly because it is a short-term, temporary radio activity.
Once again, we operated midday on 20m SSB and had reasonably good propagation. Joyce and I made some stateside contacts but when Paul took over, he snagged a couple of European stations. That might be due to his superior operating skill or maybe the band just shifted. Between the three of us, we made 45 QSOs in about an hour or so.
We had a fun time on this trip, which is another example of blending SOTA and POTA activities with a camping vacation. Our “leisurely pace” strategy worked out well and we were never in a hurry. Of course, there are always more things we could have done. The Blue Ridge Parkway has plenty of interesting tourist, hiking, and SOTA/POTA opportunities. Too many to do in a week.
73 Bob K0NR