Archive for the ‘Videoblogging’ Category

Part 2 of 2: Life-changing Moment and Solar Cycle 25

From the RAIN HamCast episode #57, 2021-XII-25 (used with permission):

RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25. This is the second and final excerpt from their discussion.

From the introduction to The RAIN HamCast, Episode #57:

In this episode, we continue our discussion with Tomas Hood/NW7US, the author of many writings about space weather and effects of solar activity the past 20-plus years.

(Part 1 of 2 can be found here: Episode #56, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnuSOXhFELQ)

Tomas has been a short wave enthusiast since 1973, a ham operator since 1990, and is a United States Army Signal Corps veteran today. He launched the first civilian space weather propagation website, HFRadio.org, in the mid 90’s; HFradio later spawned SunSpotWatch.com; at press time Sunspotwatch.com is being revamped for the new Solar Cycle 25.

Tomas has contributed to the Space Weather Propagation column in CQ magazine for over 20 years, and for The Spectrum Monitor magazine since 2014. A product of the Pacific northwest, Tomas resides now in Fayetteville, Ohio.

RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25. This is the second and final excerpt from their discussion.​

Here is the second part of the two-part interview:

If you missed part one of this conversation, you’ll find it as RAIN Hamcast #56 both on therainreport.com and on the RAIN Hamcast page on YouTube, as well as here: Episode #56, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnuSOXhFELQ.

RAIN Hamcast #58 will post January 8, 2022. Hap Holly/KC9RP edits and produces this biweekly ham radio podcast. It is copyright 1985-2021 , RAIN, all rights reserved. RAIN programming is made available under a Creative Commons license ; you are encouraged to download, share, post and transmit the RAIN Hamcast in its entirety via Amateur Radio. Your support and feedback are welcome on therainreport.com. Thanks for YouTube Technical Assistance from Tom Shimizu/N9JDI. I’m Will Rogers/K5WLR bidding you very 73 and 44 from the Radio Amateur Information Network.

KEEP ON HAMMING!

Footnote: Yes, NW7US misspoke about the time it takes sunlight to travel from the Sun to the Earth. He meant that it takes sunlight and radio waves just over 8 minutes to make that trip…

 

A Different Approach to a New Year: the Ham Systems Think!

What is the most important aspect of life?  Having fun! (Of course!).

Perhaps it is unusual to wax philosophical in an amateur radio forum, but I am going out on a limb to share a perspective that hopefully is refreshingly new and full of life:  Systems thinking — an amateur radio approach.

What I’m sharing herein, I find very intenseinvigoratingchallenging, and motivational! The more I think about amateur radio with this perspective–the Systems Thinking perspective–the more fun I’m able to define, and then accomplish.

In my opinion, this approach to life is REVOLUTIONARY! Why isn’t this knowledge distributed far and wide?  Why aren’t these precepts taught in the schools for young children, so that they can be equipped for a life full of accomplished purpose?  Perhaps it is due to the deceptive simplicity of approaching life with the perspective of Systems Thinking.

SYSTEMS THINKING AND AMATEUR RADIO

Systems Thinking and Ham Radio

Amateur Radio as a Service – a System, not a Collection

What is Systems Thinking?

In a very simplistic sense, a system is any group of parts that make up one complex whole.  Each part cannot function as the whole, and each part interacts with other parts, such that this behavior affects that end result which is expressed by the whole.

Think about a motorcycle.  Let’s play with that thought: I disassemble my motorbike in your living room.  Once the bike completely taken apart and the parts are scattered all over your living room floor, can any one of those parts support my riding it out to the countryside, and back again?  No.  Only the bike can act, when it is made whole again, as a motorbike.  But, even if the individual parts, doing their part well, try to be the bike all by themselves, but fail, in the end realize that the parts are very important.  Each part has a place and a job.  Each part belongs.

By now, as you think about this, you probably realize that there is a difference between collections, and systems, of course.  A bag of rocks is not a system.  A motorcycle is a system.  A bag of motorbike parts is not a motorbike.  The assembly of the motorbike parts does make a motorcycle.

What does this have to do with amateur radio?

The amateur radio service (hobby) is a system, not a collection.  There are many parts–and one of the most important component of the amateur radio system is you and me.  We interact with each other, exchanging knowledge, reports, friendships; we each function, lending our functioning the the autonomous self, the amateur radio service.

It takes more than one of us to make up the amateur radio service.  It would take at least two amateur radio operators, at the most extreme emaciated existence as a public service. It is obvious that one ham, all by herself, does not make the amateur radio service.  No one of us is the amateur radio service, by ourselves.  We need each other in order to have a ham radio community–the amateur radio service.  Ourselves, our radios, antennas, computers, knowledge, schedules, and so on, are all parts of the big system with which we participate in our community.

Let that sink in.

Ponder the long-term repercussions of this revelation:  We need each other, and we need our resources (time, skills, knowledge, radios, etc.).

How do we shape our System?  What will elevate our System so that it is effective?  And, so we begin to do this, SYSTEMS THINKING.

Please read, and ponder these thoughts, as you read through this article:

https://thesystemsthinker.com/a-lifetime-of-systems-thinking/

Additionally, you should check out this video–it is  great!

Bonus (not necessary but still VERY good deeper dive):

In my estimation, Dr. Russell Ackoff is amazingly wise, and inspiring!

SYSTEMS THINKING

At the moment, I am studying and trying to implement system thinking.  It is the topic I am mostly studying right now.

The following is an introduction to Systems Thinking:

https://thesystemsthinker.com/

Download this useful paper that helps you understand system thinking:

http://nw7us.us/systems-thinking/Introduction-to-Systems-Thinking-IMS013Epk.pdf

I would very much like to hear your thoughts on all of this.  Seriously.  Take your time.  But, let’s start wading through this pool of refreshing water…

Happy New Year!

Tomas Hood
NW7US

Addendum:  I do not necessary agree with every perspective, conclusion, or point made by Dr. Russell Ackoff.  Never-the-less, the overarching idea of systems thinking seems valid, and is worth considering.

 

Just Get On The Air! (A Makeshift Temporary Dipole Shortwave Antenna)

It might not take as much antenna as you may think would be necessary to make two-way contacts on shortwave radio (as an amateur radio operator putting an HF transceiver on the air). However, often, makeshift antennae are effective enough to be viable–just look at all the contacts many amateur radio operators make with their low-power (QRP) rigs (transceivers) using short, helically-wound, mobile antenna sticks. If they can work magic with such inefficient antenna setups, surely your effort at an antenna would pay off to some degree. Right?

Of course, I want to make a proper dipole out of this example antenna. But, while I wait for the rest of the parts I need to complete this antenna project (pulleys and a ladder, and maybe a potato launcher), I’ve put this makeshift antenna on the air, with it just high enough so that I can enjoy some time on the shortwave bands.

With this antenna, I’ve made successful two-way voice and Morse code contacts (QSOs) with stations in Europe and across North America. I am able to tune it on the 60-, 40-, 30-, 20-, 15-, 17-, 12-, and 10-Meter bands. Reverse beacon detection picks up my Morse-code CW signals, especially on 40 meters (the band on which it is tuned physically).

The bottom line: just get something up in the air and start communicating. Improve things over time. You’ll have much fun that way.

73 de NW7US dit dit

Perfect Straight-Key Morse Code? Can It Be Made Without Machines?

What is the proper (and most efficient) technique for creating Morse code by hand, using a manual Morse code key?
Ham radio operators find Morse code (and the CW mode, or Continuous Wave keying mode) very useful, even though Morse code is no longer required as part of the licensing process.
Morse code is highly effective in weak-signal radio work.  And, Preppers love Morse code because it is the most efficient way to communicate when there is a major disaster that could wipe out the communications infrastructure.
While this military film is antique, the vintage information is timeless, as the material is applicable to Morse code, even today.  This film has the answer to the question, “Can a person craft perfect Morse code by straight key, without the help of a computer or machine?
The International Morse Code (sometimes referred to as CW in amateur radio jargon because a continuous wave is turned on and off with the long and short elements of the Morse code characters) is a type of character encoding that transmits telegraphic information using rhythm. Morse code uses a standardized sequence of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals, punctuation and special characters of a given message. The short and long elements can be formed by sounds, marks, or pulses, in on off keying and are commonly known as dots and dashes or, dits and dahs. The speed of Morse code is measured in words per minute (WPM) or characters per minute, while fixed-length data forms of telecommunication transmission are usually measured in baud or bps.
Why is it called Morse code? This character encoding was devised by Samuel F. B. Morse, the creator of the electric telegraph. This Morse code came in two flavors, in the beginning years of its usage. One was in use by the railroads of America, and is known as American Morse Code. And, there is a unified, internationally-used version (adopted by radio operators), now known as the International Morse Code. Now, when most people refer to Morse code, or CW, they mean, International Morse Code.
Currently, the most popular use of Morse code is by amateur radio operators, although it is no longer a requirement for amateur licensing in many countries. In the professional field, pilots and air traffic controllers are usually familiar with Morse code and require a basic understanding. Navigational aids in the field of aviation, such as VORs and NDBs, constantly transmit their identity in Morse code.
Morse code is designed to be read by humans without a decoding device, making it useful for sending automated digital data in voice channels. For emergency signaling, Morse code can be sent by way of improvised sources that can be easily keyed on and off, making Morse code one of the most versatile methods of telecommunication in existence.
More about Morse code, at my website: http://cw.hfradio.org
73 de NW7US dit dit

Software-Defined Radio: Try Before You Buy? You Might Like It!

Sure! You don’t need to have a software-defined radio (SDR) before you start learning how to use the technology; there are a few different paths you can take, exploring and learning about SDR.

One way to gain some experience with SDR without spending a dime is to install a free software package for the very popular, non-Linux, operating system (that starts with ‘W’), and give SDR a test drive. If you like it, you might consider getting your own hardware (like the SDRplay RSPdx, for instance), and connecting it up to your computer and running this software, too.

Why I Dived Into SDR

I have always loved radio, ever since the early 1970s, when I discovered shortwave radio. In the last couple of years, I’ve had an increasing interest in the world of SDR. When I am working, but away from home (remember those days, before Covid?), I want to sample news and programming from around the world, but through shortwave. The way to do that, I found, is by using the various SDR options which allow a person to tune a remote receiver, and listen.

I also find working with the waterfall of a typical SDR-software user interface rewarding because, instead of blindly searching for signals in a subband, I can see all of the received signals on the scrolling time representation of a slice of frequency. Simply select that signal on the waterfall, and the radio tunes right to it.

I often connect to different SDR radios around the world, to catch all manner of shortwave signals, from maritime, military air, trans-oceanic air, or coast guard radio traffic, or other interesting HF communications including amateur radio CW and SSB signals. Occasionally, I also check out VHF and UHF signals from around the world. All of that, while instead an office building that is not suited for shortwave radio reception.

I’ve now decided to give back to the community; I’ve added my SDR receiver to the collection of receivers located around the world on the SDRSpace network of SDR radios.

My new SDRplay RSPdx software-defined radio receiver is live, via http://www.sdrspace.com/Version-3, using the SDR Console software (Version 3).

The receivers are online whenever I am not transmitting and when there are no local thunderstorms.

Antenna Port A is connected to a wire antenna (a horizontal 100-foot wire that runs out from my house’s chimney to a tall tree; about 10 feet of that wire is oriented vertically, where the wire passes through a pulley and then is weighted down so it can move with wind-driven tree movement), while Antenna Port B is connected up to a VHF/UHF discone.

Both antenna systems have an AM Broadcast band notch (reject) filter reducing local AM Broadcast-Band radio station signals by about 30 to 40 dB. I need to use these because the very close KLIN transmitting tower is just miles away and those signals overwhelm the receiver. When I use the signal filters, the local AM Broadcasting signals no longer overwhelm the receiver.

In the following video, I first explain my SDR setup, and in the second half of the video, I tune around the radio spectrum, using the software to control my SDR receiver.

A Couple of Questions

After watching this video, WO9B wrote an email to me. Michael asked of me two questions, summed up as:

1. Your SDR window has the IF screen on top. How is that accomplished?

2. Your AM Broadcast filters; more info, please. I live in the area of mucho broadcast stations and that looks like something I could use.

In the following video, I demonstrate how I changed my layout of the SDR Console software. And, I mention the AM Broadcast Filter for SDR Receivers (the hardware filter is found here: https://g.nw7us.us/3kU5SJN).

To Use My Receiver

Download the latest version of SDR-Console from https://www.sdr-radio.com/download – there is a 32-bit and a 64-bit Windows installation package.

The 64-bit installation package may be downloaded from one of these three sources:

1. Googlehttps://g.nw7us.us/3auBq44
2. DropBoxhttps://g.nw7us.us/310ooIG
3. Microsofthttps://1drv.ms/u/s!AovWaZDu7Hrd3U-yqK1bs3wuaFw2?e=o4nKeh

The 32-bit installation package can be downloaded from one of these three sources:

1. Googlehttps://g.nw7us.us/3iLasrZ
2. DropBoxhttps://g.nw7us.us/3g4VcVc
3. Microsofthttps://1drv.ms/u/s!AovWaZDu7Hrd3U4mJiiRtI9lm70s?e=HDG4ZX

Install the SDR Console package according to the directions given. Once you have the software installed, you will want to add my server. It takes some work to get familiar with the software, but there are online FAQs on how to begin.

One guide on how to add a server to the list from which you can pick may be found, here:

https://www.sdrplay.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/SDRConsoleV3-ServerGuide1-1.pdf

I worked on getting all of the bugs worked out of my installation before making the video. It did take some work, and reading up on things. But, the software is solid and a good contender against SDRuno, and HDSDR, and, this way I can share it online with you.

My server is known as, ‘0 NW7US‘ — it will be online when I am not using my antenna systems for transmitting. It will be offline during thunderstorms, or during times when I must use the systems for transmitting.

Look for the 0 NW7US server.

Software-defined radio is a great way to hear all sorts of communications, from local AM broadcast stations, FM stations, VHF Air Traffic, to shortwave radio stations including amateur radio HF communications.

Thank you for watching, commenting, and most of all, for subscribing; please subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://YouTube.com/NW7US Also, please click on the bell, to enable alerts so that when I post a new video, you will be notified. By subscribing, you will be kept in the loop for new videos and more.

73 de NW7US

.. (yes, this is an expansion of an earlier post… forgive the redundancy… thank you) ..

YouTubers Hamfest Starts TOMORROW! May 23rd

Check the website below for links to the Largest, Online LIVESTREAM Hamfest ever attempted. All of the channels participating in this event are incredibly excited about pulling this off.

Join us at 18:00EDT for a Happy Hour Livestream with all of the YouTubers and lots of guests in the Live Chat.

A HUGE thanks to all of the Brands who will be guest speakers during the event, either Saturday or Sunday morning. Those include:
FlexRadio
AREDN
Ham Radio Deluxe
ARRL
YOTA
State Of the Hobby Survey with N8RMA
SDR Play
Packtenna
Bioenno Batteries
DX Commander
ICOM
Heil Sound
QuirkyQRP
MFJ
Chameleon Antennas
SteppIR
HobbyPCB
Gigaparts
Bridgecom Systems
Ham Radio Outlet
Yaesu

https://youtubershamfest.com

 

Yet in Quarantine, Life Blossoms!

About a month ago, I asked,

What is going on with you during this challenging situation?” and, “How do you use amateur radio, now that we are all stuck at home?  Are you using ham radio more, now?  Less?

I am moved to say, “Thank you, to each of you who commented and even those who made a video response. I sure appreciate it!

During that video blog (or, Vlog), back a month ago (link: Chat From a Quarantined Software Engineer – Welfare Check!), I mentioned my need for dental surgery. 

I did have to have the tooth removed.  It was completely split down the middle (top to bottom), down to the root.  There was no justifiable way to save the tooth. 

I now am missing two bottom back-most teeth, and one bottom, back-most tooth.  I can report that I have healed up nicely.  I am starting to enjoy a hamburger or two.

Through all of this, I’ve still been working. Also, I’ve been involved with a LOT more ham radio–especially with Morse code activities.

How has the last month treated you?  After watching this new video (below), please leave a comment or two, or three; let hear from you, okay?

More than anything, please leave a comment to let me know how you are doing.  I hope to hear from you.

Here’s the video:

73 de NW7US dit dit

 


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