Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yagis, DMR Portables and Underwater Communications

Stories you’ll find in our August, 2019 edition:

The Yagi-Uda Mystery: The Remarkable Backstory of this Ubiquitous Antenna
By Richard Fisher KI6SN

Shintaro Uda and Hidetsugu Yagi were mirror images of the antenna they created in 1926—known around the world today simply as the Yagi—an array invented by Uda in collaboration with Yagi. Ninety-three years later, this design is still widely in use for both amateur and commercial installations on the HF, VHF/UHF bands and beyond. It is the antenna so often seen atop amateur radio towers, at military installations and many municipal and commercial buildings. Yet Shintaro Uda seems to have faded from the picture of the origins of this antenna. Richard tells us about two stories of intrigue and historical significance behind the Yagi.

TSM Reviews: Yaesu FT3DR and Radioditty GD-73A
By Cory GB Sickles WA3UVV

The Yaesu FT3DR and the Radioddity GD-73A are two very different digital voice (DV) portables, with widely divergent feature sets. Each needs to be considered for its merits and the applications you have in mind. The Yaesu FT3DR is the latest of a series of DV hand-held portables with the features you’d expect from a full-featured HT. The Radioddity GD-73A is a UHF-only, DMR/analog portable with minimal features: There is no provision for an external antenna and the internal one protrudes under plastic, much in the same way as a 0.5-watt blister-pack FRS (Family Radio Service) transceiver is packaged. Cory goes deep into the details and tells us there’s more to each than may be at first apparent.

The USS Thresher on Eternal Patrol
By Scott A. Caldwell

The USS Thresher(SSN 593) was an icon of the United States Navy and was often used in recruitment posters. She was regarded as the most technologically advanced submarine in active service, designed to hunt and engage Soviet submarines that patrolled the deep North Atlantic Ocean. Her loss on April 10, 1963 shocked the entire nation and the subsequent inquiry raised more questions than answers, in light of the confusing radio transmission with the submarine escort vessel USS Skylark (ASR 20). Underwater communications were subjected to temperature and density fluctuations that often deflected and distorted the amplitude of the sound waves. Scott looks at the difficulties of undersea communications while telling the story of this disaster.

The Care and Feeding of Electronic Equipment: Part 2
By Robert Gulley K4KPM

Electronic equipment for our radio hobby requires periodic checks for proper operation, as well as occasionally performing preventive maintenance or repair as needed. This includes radios, power supplies/connections, computer hardware, antenna systems, and a host of other potential troublemakers. In this second article Robert discuss troubleshooting tips, electrical and antenna system maintenance, computer hardware/software updates, and other preventative measures to help keep things running as smoothly as possible.

Scanning America
By Dan Veeneman
Scanning Michigan

Federal Wavelengths
By Chris Parris
Las Vegas Mysteries and Frequencies

By Larry Van Horn N5FPW
A New Way to Monitor the Military on January 1, 2020

Utility Planet
By Hugh Stegman
Cycle 25: Coming to an Ionosphere Near You

Shortwave Utility Logs
By Mike Chace-Ortiz and Hugh Stegman

VHF and Above
By Joe Lynch N6CL
The ‘Ah-Ha’ Behind Some Types of Aurorae

Digitally Speaking
By Cory GB Sickles WA3UVV
Another Look at D-Star

Radio 101
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR
The Trouble with Alexa

Radio Propagation
By Tomas Hood NW7US
Sunspot Cycle 24 Solar Minimum is Coming!

The World of Shortwave Listening
By Rob Wagner VK3BVW
Whatever Happened to the 11-Meter Band?

The Shortwave Listener
By Fred Waterer
German via Shortwave Plus BBC Highlights

Amateur Radio Astronomy
By Stan Nelson KB5VL
The Next Generation Very Large Array: ngVLAA

Adventures in Radio Restoration
By Rich Post KB8TAD
The Rolls-Royce of Radios: National HRO Part 2

Antenna Connections
By Dan Farber AC0LW
The End-Fed Antenna

The Spectrum Monitor is available in PDF format which can be read on any desktop, laptop, iPad®, Kindle® Fire, or other device capable of opening a PDF file. Annual subscription is $24. Individual monthly issues are available for $3 each.

TX Factor Episode 23 is Live!

We explore the process of music audio mastering at Mike Marsh G1IAR’s studio in south Devon. Mike shows us how the latest TX Factor theme tune was mixed and mastered, and demonstrates the process of cutting the audio onto vinyl disc – such nostalgia! Nick Bennett 2E0FGQ visits the National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park where Noel Matthews G8GTZ and Graham Shirville G3VZV demonstrate how set up and operate over the new geostationary satellite, Oscar 100. Plus, Bob McCreadie G0FGX visits the folks at Icom UK with a full review of Icom’s long-awaited VHF / UHF all-mode transceiver the IC-9700.

A Day at the Beach (DX and 13 Colonies Event)

Judy and I went to the beach today. Holy cow! It was so perfect… 85F and sunny. The propagation was pretty good too. I worked Colombia, a bunch of the 13 Colonies Special Event stations and had a great QSO with Jim N3JT.

While Judy was swimming, I set up at a bench overlooking Rye Harbor. I used the KX3 and a 33 foot mast with a half wave wire, strapped to the bench.

I used a 9:1 unun between the rig and the wire. It tuned perfectly
on both 20 and 40 meters.

Right away after tuning up on 20 meters, I heard Frank HK1/DL5PV calling CQ. I was surprised that he was so strong. We completed the exchange easily. Then I worked five of the 13 Colonies stations. They were all very strong and I received quick replies.

From the bench I could gaze out at the expanse of the ocean beyond the harbor entrance. In the foreground was a hedge of wild roses (Rosa Rugosa).

The fragrance of the roses enveloped the whole area.

I operated about a half an hour. Here’s my log:

2 Jul-19 1940 14.008 HK1/DL5PV CW 599 599 Colombia
2 Jul-19 1944 14.039 K2L CW 599 599 SC
2 Jul-19 1952 14.023 K2B CW 599 599 VA
2 Jul-19 1958 7028 K2M CW 599 599 PA
2 Jul-19 2000 7034 K2H CW 599 599 MA
2 Jul-19 2010 14.031 K2F CW 599 599 MD
2 Jul-19 2011 14.028 N3JT CW 599 599 VA

Certainly the most fun QSO was the last. Jim N3JT was operating from Virginia with 15W. We had a great path. At one point Jim turned on the amp and ran a KW. His signal jumped several S units. But it still sounded great when he returned to low power. After a few minutes the QSB hit us and we signed.

While I was still at the beach, I received a nice email from Jim.

“Fun QSO for as long as it lasted, Jim! You were honestly S9 at the very beginning, then settled to about S7. But at the end your signal went into the noise.”

No matter. It was a perfect day for an adventure at the beach…. and a perfect spot to play radio for a while.

Canada Day Contest at the Pemigewasset

Judy and I rode our bikes down to the Pemi today. It was an incredible summer day… perfect. I operated the Canada Day contest and made a dozen nice QSOs including Panama.

We headed north along the old road and stopped at a bend in the river about a mile upstream. A nice breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay. The edge of the road was strewn with wildflowers. Here’s a yarrow plant that grew next to me as I operated.

The river was unusually full from recent rains.

I tossed a 30 foot wire over a pine branch and sat down at the edge of the road. I set up the KX3 and operated exclusively on 20 meters.

The band was surprisingly good given the recent conditions. There was a lot of activity in the Canada Day contest. Here’s my log. I only operated for 15 minutes:

1 Jul-19 2042 14.019 VE1AYY CW 599 599 NS
1 Jul-19 2044 14.024 W7F CW 599 599 AZ
1 Jul-19 0247 14.029 VE3CX CW 599 599 Ont
1 Jul-19 2048 14.037 K8JQ CW 599 599 WV
1 Jul-19 2050 14.038 N8AA CW 599 599 OH
1 Jul-19 2051 14.041 W4PM CW 599 599 VA
1 Jul-19 2052 14.049 WA0MHJ CW 599 599 MN
1 Jul-19 2054 14.043 K2J CW 599 599 NC
1 Jul-19 2055 14.034 VE5MX CW 599 599 SK
1 Jul-19 2057 14.021 K3KU CW 599 599 MD
1 Jul-19 2058 14.014 HP3SS W 599 599 Panama

K2J wasn’t in the contest. This is a designated station in the 13 colonies event.

It’s hard to believe it’s already July. Tomorrow Judy and I are heading to the seashore. I’ll bring the rig.

Superpower AM Radio, Vacuum Tube Voltmeters, Picosatellites and Antennas for 6 Meters

Stories you’ll find in our July, 2019 issue:

Superpower AM Radio in the United States: Why it Failed
By John F. Schneider W9FGH

The term “superpower” was used frequently in the early years of American radio broadcasting, but its exact definition was continually evolving. In 1923, superpower referred to the newly-authorized 1,000 watt “Class B” stations. By 1926 WGY, Schenectady, New York, conducted the first ever test at 50,000 watts. By 1930 WGY had conducted tests at 200 kW, a signal heard in Alaska and Hawaii. But that station was not alone. Many others were eager to explore the possibilities of even higher power: 500 kW! What happened to all that enthusiasm for superpower? John goes deep into this engineering and regulatory jungle that saw broadcast titans trying to use the FCC to dominate America’s airwaves.

Rocking the Stasi
By Scott A. Caldwell

In June 1961, Berlin was a divided city. Viewed from the outside, East Germany, which surrounded Berlin, represented a closed society, dominated by the secret police known universally as the Stasi. But East Germany was vulnerable to Western culture and political ideology through the medium of radio that could not be regulated by the Stasi or the ruling Socialist Unity Party, which resulted in an electronic war of the ether. Scott traces the course of this battle of the airwaves that lasted from the end of World War II to the 1980s and the end of the Cold War.

Overlooked Radio Heroine: The Life, Work and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr
By Georg Wiessala

Hedy Lamarr was born in Austria in 1914 and rose to stellar fame in Hollywood as a film actress and as a multi-talented inventor. Georg looks at the life and work as his most favorite (and most overlooked) radio heroines, without whom today’s Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth technologies would be impossible. He explains why The Guardian claimed, “Lamarr’s story is one of a brilliant woman who was consistently underestimated.”

Inside the VTVM: Lafayette KT-174 and PACO V-70
By Rich Post KB8TAD

The VTVM (vacuum tube voltmeter) was the standard instrument for measuring DC and AC for radio and television service shops from the late 1940s to the end of the vacuum tube era in the 1970s. The sensitivity of the typical service VTVM on DC measurement was 11 megohms regardless of scale. Specialty VTVMs such as the Hewlett-Packard HP-410 offered much higher sensitivity but were high-priced lab-quality instruments and not typically found in radio-TV service shops. Rich takes a close look at two amateur favorites from the era.

Scanning America
By Dan Veeneman
Oakland County (MI); Jasper County (MO)

Federal Wavelengths
By Chris Parris
NIH Trunked System Update

By Larry Van Horn N5FPW
Monitoring Air Route Traffic Control Centers

Utility Planet
By Hugh Stegman
Chasing German Weather RTTY

Shortwave Utility Logs
By Hugh Stegman and Mike Chace-Ortiz

VHF and Above
By Joe Lynch N6CL
Opensource Picosatellite Development

Digitally Speaking
By Cory Sickles WA3UVV
The Network is the Repeater

Amateur Radio Insights
By Kirk Kleinschmidt NT0Z
100 Years from Now

Radio 101
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR
Emergency Preparations

Radio Propagation
By Tomas Hood NW7US
Current Rough Shortwave Conditions

The World of Shortwave Listening
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR
Digital Radio Mondiale: Testing, Testing, Testing

The Shortwave Listener
By Fred Waterer
World Sport Coverage on Shortwave; July Shortwave Programming Update

Maritime Monitoring
By Ron Walsh VE3GO
Water, Water, Everywhere!

Adventures in Radio Restoration
By Rich Post KB8TAD
Introducing the National HRO

Antenna Connections
By Dan Farber AC0LW
Magic Band: Antennas for Six Meters

The Spectrum Monitor is available in PDF format which can be read on any desktop, laptop, iPad®, Kindle® Fire, or other device capable of opening a PDF file. Annual subscription is $24. Individual monthly issues are available for $3 each.

DMR Plus – The Network that is Gaining Popularity in the West

When it comes to DMR, people usually think of Brandmeister. But there is another network rapidly gaining popularity in North America worthy of your attention – DMR Plus. DMR Plus gives you many of the same features as Brandmeister such as talkgroups, SMS messaging, private call, reflectors and more. The main difference is DMR Plus presents these features in a well thought out manner which allows for outstanding flexibility when it comes to the way we communicate.

Doing a google search for DMR Plus comes up with the following from the DMR-MARC website:

DMR Plus is the original network that developed tools to interconnect ETSI Tier 2 DMR repeaters. It has been popular in Europe for years but now, with the cooperation of DMR-MARC, it has finally arrived in North America and the South Pacific. The DMR Plus architecture is similar to D-Star. Users have talkgroups to converse, to disconnect, and to monitor channel status. Users choose from a large pool of reflectors and move back to the converse talkgroup for all QSOs.

The DMR-MARC and DMR Plus partnership is ideal. The DMR-MARC network is robust and reliable. The DMR Plus network is more aligned with experimentation and interoperability of technologies. Think of DMR Plus as the best possible implementation of the former DMR-MARC Sandbox.

DMR Plus also supports a configuration that features the traditional DMR-MARC talkgroups like Worldwide English, North America, Latin America, etc. on TS1 and the DMR-Plus reflectors on TS2. The USA Regional talkgroups and the Canadian Provincial talkgroups are now connected to the TS2 reflectors.

Like Brandmeister, DMR Plus uses talkgroups (many of which are bridged between the two networks such as TAC310, World Wide 91 etc) but they also use reflectors. A reflector is kind of like a hub that allows you to communicate with everyone else that is also connected to that same reflector. But on DMR Plus, the reflector itself can be bridged to either another talkgroup, another reflector or even another network or digital voice mode.

One perfect example of this is the QuadNet Array. The Array brings the most popular digital voice modes under the same roof. You can find the QuadNet Array on reflector 4551 or DMR Plus talkgroup 320. By connecting to either of these your transmission can be heard by users on DMR Plus but also Brandmeister 31012, Yaesu System Fusion reflector 37099, D- STAR reflector XRF757A, Smart Groups DSTAR1 and more. For a complete overview of the QuadNet Array visit the QuadNet website at

You can also find an updated list of DMR Plus reflectors at

One thing that stands out in my experience is that DMR Plus appears to have better audio quality than Brandmeister. I find much fewer dropouts and lower packet loss on the DMR Plus network.

So, what do you need in order to give DMR Plus a try? If you are running a Pi-STAR based hotspot you are good to go. The OpenSPOT will also allow you to use DMR Plus. However since I have not had the opportunity to use one I am not able to give you specific setup instructions. Refer to the OpenSPOT website and Facebook group for more information.

In Pi-STAR version 4, do the following:

  1. Login to your dashboard
  2. Click on configuration
  3. Scroll down to DMR Configuration
  4. Under the DMR Master setting select IPSC2-Quadnet and click on apply settings.

While you can use any IPSC2 server you like, I recommend IPSC2-Quadnet because it is very well maintained and extremely stable. We make sure it is up to date with the latest software version which provides the newest features and bug fixes and I personally feel our technical support team is second to none. We are very responsive when it comes to support requests as well as adding requested DMR Plus talkgroups to the server. If there is a talkgroup you are having difficulty accessing on IPSC2-Quadnet send an email to [email protected] and let us know the DMR Plus talkgroup number and time slot and we will add it to the server.

Once your hotspot returns to the configuration page, enter the following in the options= box


Once entered, click on apply changes.

What this line means is you are having our hotspot not automatically link to a reflector upon startup. If you want to setup a default reflector, enter the reflector number after the StartRef= command. RelinkTime means if you do link to a reflector it will automatically disconnect after 120 minutes if you don’t key your mic to reset the timer. If you have a default reflector set and change to a different reflector your hotspot will automatically return to the default reflector after the time expires. UserLink tells your hotspot to allow you to link to talkgroups and reflectors via RF. The TS1 lines setup static talkgroups. In this example I entered talkgroup 320 which is the QuadNet Array. I use the talkgroup for the QuadNet Array instead of selecting reflector 4541 because this allows me to monitor the Array and use reflectors at the same time. Very convenient when listening for a call while tuning around the various reflectors searching for activity.

Now in your radio code plug you will want to do the following:

Setup a contact for talkgroup for 320 and then add this contact to a channel and zone in your radio code plug. You will want to do the same for any other talkgroups that you would like to use and add them to your radio. Talkgroup 320 is what you would use to talk on the QuadNet Array multi protocol network. So if you have a friend that uses D-STAR, Yaesu System Fusion, Brandmeister DMR etc you can still talk with them on the Array. You can also use this talkgroup to talk with the administrators of the IPSC2-QuadNet server in case you notice a problem or have a question.

Add any reflectors that you would like to use (see the link earlier in this article to find the list of available DMR Plus reflectors) in your radio code plug as well. Any reflector you want to add needs to be setup as a private call in your contacts instead of group call. Then create a channel with the reflector contact that you just created, then add the channel to a zone. To link to a reflector you will then have easy access by selecting the zone you just programmed these into. When selected, key your mic and you should get an acknowledgement that you are now connected to that reflector.

You will also need to add a contact, channel and zone for talkgroup 9 (groups call, not private call) in your radio code plug. This is the talkgroup you will need to use when talking on a DMR Plus reflector.

While you are setting up your code plug, you will want to make sure you have your friends contact information setup in your radio and set these contacts as private call instead of group call. This is how you will initiate a private call to talk radio to radio outside of any talkgroups or reflectors. Private call is similar to call sign routing on D-STAR in that it allows you to talk with the other station radio to radio without using a talkgroup or reflector. The two of you can have a relatively private conversations and not get in the way of other users. You will also use this contact if you want to send them a SMS message.

I hope you decide to give DMR Plus a try. If you have any questions you can usually find me on the QuadNet Array talkgroup 320. If you prefer you can also contact me via email. I can be reached either at [email protected] or [email protected].

Hams prepare for 2019 Scout Pacific Jamboree at Camp Barnard

I wanted to share that I will once again be running a Ham Radio Station at the BC/Yukon Pacific Scout Jamboree being held July 6 – 13 at Camp Barnard in Sooke BC Canada, a 250 acre scout camp on Young Lake.

I ran this same station in 2015 and of the 3,000 scouts attending the Jamboree, some 350 of them came to our Ham Radio Station to earn a Ham Radio badge at Camp Barnard.

We anticipate the same number of scouts, (i.e. boys and girls aged 11 – 14 years old), to attend this year’s Jamboree and a similar number, (350 – 400) to visit our station to earn a badge. Our club call sign is VE7SHR (i.e. for Scout Ham Radio).

A Scout Pacific (BC / Yukon) Jamboree like other Jamborees are held every 4 years. In 2015 it was the first Jamboree at Camp Barnard in many years and cost over a million dollars to put on with improvements and additions to roads, water and power lines, added washroom facilities, dock extension, food deliveries, fire, police and medical preparations, (i.e. we have an onsite hospital set up), etc. etc. and requires hundreds of volunteers.

Having just earned my VA7RTB Ham Radio Certification in early 2015, along with the Camp Ranger Willy Burrows VE7WRB, and with the 2015 Pacific Scout Jamboree only months away, we decided to try our hand at running a Ham Radio Station. Help from a much more experienced advanced Ham, Chris Carr VE7BAC, from BC’s mainland didn’t hurt either!

As a volunteer organization and little money however, we put the word out to the local Ham community for the donation of any used / unwanted Ham Radio equipment. We were overwhelmed with the response with donations of radios, towers, antennas, coaxial cables, power supplies etc. etc. We also were given permission to share the archery room to create a permanent Ham Shack as seen in the pictures below which needed some extensive renovations to accommodate us.

Although a lot of the equipment donated was outdated or not working, there were some very usable pieces, plus the donations that Chris brought over from his scrounging over on the mainland, made our shack operational. One bonus was being able to purchase a brand new Yaesu FT-8800 from the Jamboree fund for our permanent shack.

So, with a 20’ X 20’ rented army tent, we set up our Ham Shack and waited for all 3000 youth to arrive, but not sure how much interest our station would actually generate. Well, we didn’t have to wait long, as scouts, (i.e. boys and girls aged, 11 – 14), seemed to gravitate to us and were keen to earn a “generic” Ham Radio badge. Being located next to the badge trading station didn’t hurt either. We were however, in fact blown away by the interest and enthusiasm of the youth. Originally we had them complete six activities to earn a badge, however as we were quickly running out of badges, we upped the requirements to completing 9 activities, and still we ran out of badges in the end.

As an example of the positive responses we got, Chris said that we had more youth attend our station on day one, than attended the week long Ham Station a year earlier at the “Canadian Jamboree” that was host to 2 & 1/2 times as many scouting youth as our provincial Jamboree. It was also great to have the youth make HF contact with other Hams in Alaska, Russia, the Virgin Islands, a weather ship at sea and even Disneyland.

Other events at the 2015 Pacific Jamboree included, canoeing, rock climbing, an overnight hike, scuba diving, visiting the town of Sooke, log rolling, a variety of arts and crafts, robotics, swimming, log pole climbing and ax throwing, to mention a few.

So, with the 2015 Pacific Jamboree over, we immediately set our sights on planning for 2019. We continued to try and improve our equipment, designed a more Ham Radio specific badge, (as seen in the email below), and looked at some new activities to involve the youth in such as Morse Code keying, and having them look up available Call Signs. We have also, as in the last Jamboree, invited local Hams to either come out and assist us, or at least call in to our station on their radios. We are also negotiating with another Ham to borrow his 30’ Ham Radio trailer to be present on site at the Jamboree.

We are also looking at setting up a second Ham Shack location on site as it is a larger space and can accommodate bigger groups throughout the year. (We haven’t determined yet exactly which frequencies we will be monitoring but that will come.)

So what’s next? We have already heard that the Francophone Scouts are scheduled to hold their Jamboree at Camp Barnard in 2020,as well as the Girl Guides holding there SOAR Jamboree there that same year. Again, some 3,000 Girl Guides are planning to attend. Plans are in the works for both of these events, for us to offer a Ham Radio Station. We also plan to participate in the “Scout Jamboree On The Air” (JOTA), held every October, and we do smaller presentations to Beaver, Cub and Scout groups throughout the year when asked.

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