Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Homebrew Hero 2019 Announced

The Homebrew Heroes Award Program announced its first annual recipient, Hans Summers, Call Sign G0UPL. The recipient is the very popular proprietor of QRP Labs and maker of numerous homebrew style projects in amateur radio. He’s been producing them for over a decade now. The details are available at this link, including a video of the award to Hans.
Hans G0UPL Hero 2019
Being involved with launching the Homebrew Heroes Awards Program with Martin Butler M1MRB and Colin Butler M6BOY on the Steering Committee has been exciting as we’ve been very busy with development since the idea hatched at Xenia Hamvention this past May. But the payoff is seeing the impact that such attention can bring to a most deserving recpient, like Hero 2019 Hans Summers. “I am just blown away by it all!” said Hans when he received the plaque and customized clothing designating him as Homebrew Hero for 2019. This annual award recognizes persons, groups or organizations who help define the frontiers in amateur radio technology through the long-standing tradition of “home brew” construction. This is the first of the annual awards to be given by the new program, housed at the website address, A video of the award is available here. A longer feature interview with Hans is available in Episode 308 of the ICQ Podcast which is the promotional partner of the Award Program.

Magic on the Pemigewasset River

It’s all magic. The perfect sunny day. The sparkling river. The trail. The QRP contacts with Manitoba and Pennsylvania.

I took a bike ride this afternoon up the old road along the Pemigewasset River. There’s a gate at the entrance to keep out cars and trucks… only horses, bicycles and walkers allowed.

I throw a water bottle over the branch of a huge pine tree and pull up a 30 foot wire. I sit down along the edge of the trail and hook up the KX3. The bands are pretty poor and I start out on 40 meters. Ron N4PGJ is calling CQ and I answer. We’ve worked a dozen times before and we chat for a few minutes.

Then I switch to 20 meters. Don VE4ESE is calling CQ from Manitoba. He’s strong to me and he gives me a 559. I tell him it’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m sitting by the river. He tells me he’s running an old TS-520 from 1975. He’s changed the finals only once since then. We sign and I take another snap shot downstream. It’s amazing.

The most beautiful place in the world. A gorgeous day, and a couple of quick contacts with the portable setup. It’s all magic. I ride back to the car with a big smile on my face.

Saving Your Amateur Radio Club, the Airspy HF+ Discovery, and More

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

TSM Reviews:
Airspy HF+ Discovery: It’s a Whole New World of Radio
By Larry Van Horn N5FPW and Gayle Van Horn W4GVH

While the term “digital radio” has been around since the 1970s in US government circles, it wasn’t until 1984 that the term “software defined radio” first surfaced. At first, many old-timers in the radio hobby scoffed at the idea that any radio that didn’t have a tuning knob and all the circuitry associated with it was a real radio. People pushing a computer-based technology were on the outside looking in as far as major manufacturers were concerned. It did not take long for software defined radio, or SDR, to come out of the shadows and be embraced by the radio hobby industry. Larry takes a look at the Airspy HF+ Discovery, the latest in a series of high-performance, low cost SDRs that are changing the world of HF radio listening.

Digital TV Ten Years Later and ATSC 3.0 Today
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR

The mass migration of analog television transmissions to digital television (DTV) broadcasting in the US officially went into effect June 12, 2009. The run up to the switch was years in development and involved extensive technical testing and a huge investment on the part of broadcast TV interests. There was nothing smooth about the transition. Ten years later, the dream of HDTV with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound has faded considerably, with few channels actually achieving that benchmark. Now the FCC is preparing to do it again—this time with DTV’s successor: ATSC 3.0, which promises landmark 4K Over-the-Air TV channels and auxiliary channels in HDTV. Unfortunately, ATSC 3.0 is not compatible with any ATSC 1.0 TV sets in use today. Having failed to deliver ATSC 1.0, will the broadcast TV industry be able to deliver on ATSC 3.0.? And, anyway, whatever happened to ATSC 2.0?

The Hunt for the Bismarck
By Scott A. Caldwell

Summer 1941 was a dark time for the British Empire, which in reality was alone and isolated. Nazi Germany was rampant in its military conquest of mainland Europe and now one of the most powerful battleships in the world was ready for a commerce raiding campaign in the North Atlantic Ocean. The pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck was a turning point in naval strategy that was based on the utilization of a central command structure, which acted as a clearing house for intelligence information. Scott examines the communications systems used by both German and British commanders and how mistakes were made on both sides that led to the sinking of both German and British naval vessels and how the eventual sinking of the Bismarck became a turning point in the war for sea superiority.

Zen and the Art of
Amateur Radio Club Maintenance – Part 2
By Cory GB Sickles WA3UVV

If you did your homework from the previous installment, you have some better perspective into the size, finances, direction and overall health of your amateur radio club. Hopefully, you did not find yourself in or on the edge of critical mass, where your organization is about to fail. Even if you did, there is probably time to still be able to turn things around. If not, then perhaps the answer is to reflect on what went wrong and start anew. Cory gives us all more tips on how to save your ham club from itself.

Scanning America
By Dan Veeneman
Scanning Sumner County, Tennessee

Federal Wavelengths
By Chris Parris
Nevada DoE Update; FAA Closeup

Larry Van Horn N5FPW
Phantoms in the Desert

Utility Planet
By Hugh Stegman
It’s Summer “Numbers” Time!

Shortwave Utility Logs
By Hugh Stegman and Mike Chace-Ortiz

VHF and Above
By Joe Lynch N6CL
PTRX-7300: A Panadapter Module for the IC-7300

Digitally Speaking
By Cory GB Sickles WA3UVV
Digital Voice Moves On

Radio 101
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR
Hits and Misses: Grace Digital Mondo+

The World of Shortwave Listening
By Jeff White, Secretary-Treasurer NASB
Can the Internet Replace Shortwave? Plus: NASB and SWL Fest 2019 Report

The Shortwave Listener
By Fred Waterer
WWII Radio Commemorations

Amateur Radio Satellites
By Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF
Amateur Radio Satellite Primer (Part V)

The Longwave Zone
By Kevin O’Hern Carey N2AFX
Gearing Up!

Adventures in Radio Restoration
By Rich Post KB8TAD
Reviving a “Poor Man’s Collins” The Heathkit SB-301 Receiver

Antenna Connections
By Dan Farber AC0LW
Top Band: Antennas for 160 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.

AM & SSB: A ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’

Hello to my friends and Directors of the ARRL,

I noted with pleasure that the ARRL Board has passed a motion addressing HF data bandwidth.

For many years, there has been an outcry from HF AM operators to have the ARRL Board address the situation of the original ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement that was set up – basically from the stations that operated AM. In the mid 50’s, SSB became more in use, the “wars” began and I can attest, personally that there were actual wars. I was not a part of the physical ‘wars’ but knew some that did get involved. All of this came to the end when both sides met and formed a ‘Gentlemen’s agreement which – at the time, the ARRL helped to adopt and publish the agreement. Everything became calm. The two modes worked side by side, respecting each other.

The ‘agreement ‘ on 75 meters was originally 1.885 – 1.900, 3.870 – 3.890. 7.290 – 7.295. 14.280 – 14.290 This ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement worked for more that a decade but as new license holders came on the scene, they knew nothing of this verbal agreement as the ARRL no longer published or admonish the original ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement. Little was said of it – nor the need. If they did publish, one had to dig deep to find any of the information about the AM window. To answer some of the complaints , the ARRL set out to publish their own band plans… however most of the times the band plan is published, the AM Window is never mentioned…. Perhaps just a calling frequency. The DX windows, the SSTV windows have all been rewarded the strength of the ARRL to help publish their operating window and helped to keep those published and policed. Why has the ARRL not continued what was set forth back in the late 1950’s ?

With the advent of the newer transmitters and SDR equipment that all work beautifully on AM, there is a resurgence of the mode joining the scores of vintage operators that have been operating in those windows for many years….. usually having to put up with many unruly operators that could care less about a’window’. Little is published or talked about from the ARRL, so why should they worry? The respect of other operators has certainly dwindled. The other issue of maintaining these windows, is that new operators are invited to join an entirely new form of Amateur Radio communication. Without your help, AM operation sometimes become a vast wasteland of SSB operators that feel they can land anywhere, thus causing very unwelcome places to operate. Each of us work hard to bring young operators onto the frequency bands, but I know – first hand that when some of these brilliant, inquisitive young minds are looking into modes that have never worked they sometimes discover some very unpleasant conversations. All of this can be corrected by publications, articles and some policing by the new Volunteer Observers organization. Without the help of the Board of Directors to maintain this ‘Agreement’, the VOO have no ’teeth’.

I, along with many AM operators truly believe that if the Board of Directors would address THIS situation as they have the data bandwidth situation, it will further the development of new operators to join fellow AM operators and brings yet another aspect of Amateur Radio without conflict.

I look forward to being of any help to bring the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ back into play.


Dr. Bob Heil, K9EID

Becoming a Ham

A few days ago I was tuning 40 meters, I heard some slow CW, about 8 wpm. As I mentally copied the CW, my mind drifted back to 1956 when I first became a ham. Back then, to be a Novice, you had to know CW at 5 wpm and pass a written test. Well, the anticipation of being able to communicate with people by radio from your home was a tremendous turn-on for me.

At an early age, I built crystal radios, and would listen far into the night, sliding my contact arm on the home wound coil and using a cat whisker to peck around in the crystal. My earphones gave just enough volume to hear baseball games, storytellers and even picked up some stations with languages foreign for a ten year old.

Later, I would pull my red wagon up and down alleys, and gather anything that was remotely connected to electricity. Motors from washing machines, junked radios, and on one occasion I hit the jackpot with a television!

With an old coal bin in the basement turned into my “shack,” I would spend hours tearing apart motors, radios, vacuums and getting them running. My greatest accomplishment was repairing a TV, as at that time my parents did not have one! What a surprise when they returned home from work and found me watching a RCA 9″ TV with Howdy Doody!

The year before I entered High School I took my Novice test and passed and became a Novice. With money from my paper route I had bought a used SX-99 Hallicrafters receiver and a Heathkit transmitter. I strung a dipole between my neighbors house and mine. With a few fixed crystals I was ready to talk to the world. Hour after hour I would send out CQ’s and tune up and down for reply’s. I made hundreds of CW contacts from all over the US and even some DX!

I was now ready for the big time. Phone! Voice! AM! Time to get my General. Aha! 13 wpm CW and a technical test on vacuum tubes, power supplies, receivers, transmitters, rules, and operating procedures. Well I had read, studied, used, and practiced CW till I was blue in the face. Test time came and as I set in the cold, dreary FCC testing room in St. Louis, my palms sweated and my hands trembled. What was this 13 year boy trying to do? Fourteen other adults and me.

Then came the CW test. We had to copy 13 words error free out of a 5 minute test. The tape was turned on. The first sounds were like the blast of a machine gun. Just one continuous stream of ‘dits’ and ‘dahs.’ After about one minute I had a jumbo mix of letters and numbers that made little or no sense. Trying to focus I let my mind start leading my fingers with little or no thinking about what I was copying. I did not look back at the words, I just kept copying and writing.

Suddenly the tape ended. The silence was almost deafening. Out of the 15 in the room, four got up and left without turning in their CW copy. I quickly scanned the crooked letters on the paper. There were words! Real words five letters long. Did I have 13 in a row? The monitor quickly gathered the papers. He said that we could not take the written test unless we passed the CW portion. Two more got up and walked out!

Time passed as I watched the second hand on the clock seemingly stop, and at one point it appeared to actually click backwards! The monitor called each individual up to the front. He mumbled a few words and the individual either returned to his seat or if he had failed he would walk out. Then with a thundering roar like God from Mount Sinai, I heard my name! This was the do or die, the beginning or the end, to fly like an Eagle or sink like a rock. I slowly rose, my knees felt weak, a sicken feeling rose from stomach. Did I pass? Would I have to do this all over in 3 months? He looked in my eyes and raised the test paper. Here it comes. “You managed to pass.” he mumbled. Return to your seat for the written portion.

I had not really let it sink in. I had actually passed! I had actually passed! As I fell limply into my seat I knew that I was going to be a General Class Amateur. The technical test would be a no-brainer. In about an hour, he said the magic words. “Congratulations K9LLY.”

Today I am still active with an Extra Class License and former President of a radio club in Florida. I still love the hobby and find the new technical modes exciting. We are getting young people involved again, despite the competition from cell phones, games and PC’s.

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.

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