About That (Expletive) ARRL Proposal to Give Technicians The Whole World

It is my observation that by enabling someone a taste of what can be accomplished on HF (shortwave) spectrum, especially using one of the newer digital modes, that someone has an opportunity for inspiration, perhaps enough to catch the HF fever that is required to move that someone from entry-level to experienced, skilled expert. Right now, the regulations limit the Technician-level license holder to digital operation only on bands that barely propagate (if at all!) during the weak solar cycles. It is a far stretch to postulate that having privileges on dead bands will inspire exploration and tempt the operator to upgrade to a higher license class.

I believe that Technician-class priveledges should be expanded so that entry-level amateur radio operators can get a practical taste of effectively-propagating HF signals on lower frequencies than those frequencies currently available to them for digital operation. And, the allowed mode on these subbands should include digital modes. This “would encourage a sustained interest in Amateur Radio and encourage further development of knowledge and operating skills,” a concept already proven by General-class operators that get enough of a taste that they then pursue the Amateur Extra license.

Comments to me are below the following video section. I also include my response.

In the following video, I share my opinion regarding the ARRL asking the FCC to grant more operating privileges across the many amateur radio allocations on shortwave (HF, or, High Frequencies). The video is my brief takeaway of ARRL’s petition: What is the issue, as a whole, and what the ARRL is addressing–the lack of desire by most current Techs to upgrade. The logic of my perspective concludes that if you give them a taste of lower-shortwave propagation and excitement, then they will want to upgrade. This logic is already proven as applicable by the fact that the General class exists. All this proposal will do is allow the tech to experience what could be very attractive. Just like for the General.

The next two videos are addendums to the first video:

I made a few technical mistakes in the first video. The last video contains corrections and further comments.

Comments Received, and My Response

I have received many responses–some in opposition, some in support. Here are example contrarian responses along with my reply:

[Dear] Tomas David Hood[:] Something for absolutely nothing has never taught anyone anything good, but to want another free lunch. 35 multiple guess easy questions was all that was asked to get general class privileges, but that’s just too hard for the current class. Something for nothing is what sell today, and the ARRL, and probably half the country thinks socialism is the way to reach the new hams I guess. But the ARRL will never get another dime from me. You want a trophy or additional privileges, Get them as everyone else did,, Work for them, study, just a little is all that was asked. Remember, If it didn’t cost anything, it probably isn’t worth anything!

If they are not willing to take a simple test, and yet they want to upgrade, then yes they are the same as saying that we are asking too much, but would participate, you are suggesting, as long as it didn’t require any work or effort on their part, Its a shame.. And I am embarrassed on their behalf… Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could pass that test, but she would probably agree with you, that people are asking them to be smart and study, and that’s somehow probably racist and just over the line for you.

At this point the ARRL should just say, we are not protecting the spectrum, but about selling the ham radio spectrum to the highest bidders. In this case, they be;live that will be the techs who will purchase HF gear, and of course, the ARRL will benefit hugely from the equipment makers desire to market to the group.

My response is:

What the heck is wrong with selling radios?

But, seriously, which of the many Technicians say that they want to upgrade? That’s the point: the majority of Technician-class amateur radio operators are not upgrading. They get on VHF and above, and are stationary, with few realizing that there’s so much more than the aspect of the hobby evident in their local community.

With little to no exposure to other aspects of the hobby, the typical ham in the current ham-radio culture settles for what is presented by local mentors. Weather spotting, DMR, etc.

Because they have current HF privileges that have so little practical use (CW only on lower frequencies; voice on 10 meters which doesn’t propagate well during this period of no sunspot activity…), they see no incentive to delve into what appears like a waste of time.

The proposal is not giving away the farm. It simply adds a small slice on a limited set of HF bands (but where a signal has a better chance of propagation), allowing for Technician-class operators to get a real sense of the potential waiting for them if they pursue the General.

Then, once upgraded to General, they get even more exposure, and hopefully, see why it is great to be an Amateur Extra.

Tomas David Hood what’s wrong with selling radios. Nothing at all, but if I removed the test that drivers take to show they understand the rules and how to drive, then I can sell more cars and more insurance to poor drivers. Do you or anyone else think that’s a good idea. A few tech’s putting their hands on the plate of those high voltage amps, and maybe, just maybe, someone will believe me when I say some basic testing should be required for HF privileges. Now, all they will have is a cereal box license in my book, and in the opinion of many of my friends, so it;s not just me. If I am wrong, then there are a lot of people that are wrong like me, and they will fight for there hobby. I am a ARRL VE, but I will never test another Ham if this goes through, and I will spend the rest of my days making sure any newcomers realize what the ARRL did to what once was a good hobby, and how a few people didn’t seem to understand why giving away free privileges is always bad for our society, and always bad for our hobby.

Actually I have a real case study that is local,, and yes the guy doid put his hand on the plate, and yes he hit the floor.. and yes, after I found out he was ok,, I think it’s plenty funny,, Yes, they need to study more than that.

Me:

Your argument that Technician-class operators will kill themselves because the test is so easy that they will end up electrocuting themselves is yet another Red Herring. Technicians play with dangerous VHF, UHF, SHF equipment, with ominous dangerous aspects deserving respect. If you really think that the General test is the difference between life and death, why even worry? The number of technicians will be nicely reduced to a more acceptable, comfortable number.

I’ve seen Amateur Extra-class operators do the same sort of dangerous, life-threatening stunts.

The issue you are highlighting is a different problem that must be solved separately from the idea of creating a more practical incentive; all tests should be improved in such a way as to foster greater technical knowledge and awareness of all aspects of the hobby.

Better mentoring. Less us-vs-them. More education. More community. All of these should be explored and enhanced. Solve the problem, instead of ostracizing. And, realize that this proposed change is NOT a dumbing-down maneuver to give away the ham radio hobby to the unclean.


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'.

Radio Direction Finding using KerberosSDR

Traditionally we’ve seen radio direction finding (RDF) in the form of Doppler kits and tone meters, however with the proliferation Software Defined Radio (SDR) we’re seeing a new form of direction finding.

Essentially if you take four software defined radios and coherently link them together, you can then compare the signals from four separate antennas to get a bearing of your target signal’s location.

I recently came across a project on Indigogo which offered this in a complete package called the KerberosSDR. Here is a video of my setup and a demonstration of this radio.

The KerberosSDR is still under development, but from my tests it works fairly well. Unfortunately, I don’t have any traditional RDF gear to compare it to but from what I’ve seen it’s certainly a potential way to go if you’re looking to have some fun with RDF and want some more modern gear.

If you’re interested in the KerberosSDR, you can find more information about it here:

https://indiegogo.com/projects/kerberossdr-4x-coherent-rtl-sdr


Harold Giddings, KRØSIV, is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com. He is a Ruby programmer and maintains the website Signals Everywhere. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #280: 1.21 Millimeters

Welcome to the 280th installment of Linux in the Ham Shack! In this episode, the hosts discuss a wide variety of topics including AMSAT, encoded amateur radio transmissions, SSSUUUHF records, a new version of VIM, JS8Call, TWCW, FSQ and a whole lot more. Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoy the show.

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].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2019 Apr 08 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2019 Apr 08 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2019 Apr 08 1120 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 01 – 07 April 2019

Solar activity was very low throughout the period. Region 2737 (N12, L=63, class/area-Cao/40 on 02 Apr) was inactive before decaying to plage on 04 April. Region 2738 (N06, L=298, class/area-Hsx/300 on 07 Apr) produced low level B-class activity after rotating around the east limb. No Earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were observed.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit reached high levels on 05-07 April with moderate levels observed throughout the remainder of the reporting period.

Geomagnetic field activity reached active levels on 01 and 03 April with unsettled levels on 02, 04-06 April due to coronal hole high-speed stream (CH HSS) influence. Quiet conditions were observed on 07 April.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 08 April – 04 May 2019

Solar activity is expected to be at very low to low levels throughout the outlook period.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels on 08-12 April and 02-04 May with normal to moderate levels expected throughout the remainder of the outlook period.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to reach unsettled levels on 24-25, 27-28, 30 April and 01-02 May. Quiet conditions are expected throughout the remainder of the outlook 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/

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. https://Twitter.com/NW7US 2. https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on Groups.io

https://groups.io/g/propagation-and-space-weather

Spread the word!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Links of interest:

+ Amazon space weather books: http://g.nw7us.us/fbssw-aSWSC
+ https://Twitter.com/NW7US
+ https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

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:

https://www.patreon.com/NW7US

The YouTube channel:
https://YouTube.com/NW7US

..


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'.

My End-Fed Half-Wave (EFHW)

The last few years have seen a resurgence of interest in the end fed half-wave wire EFHW antenna. A half-wave at the lowest band of interest will also work well on all harmonically-related bands which has become particularly attractive to those wanting a quick portable wire antenna.

It looked like an interesting antenna to try, as I was in need of a good 80m radiator and following several days of fine summer-like weather, I was able to get my new 80 / 40m wire vertical completed ... a half-wave on 80 and a full-wave on 40m. It’s built as an inverted-L, going up 80’ and the remaining 50’ being horizontal at the same height. It’s fed at the base through an impedance matching transformer and was pruned for the CW end of the band.

There's always a great sense of anticipation when first testing a new antenna and the experience only comes around once in a rare while ... it always brings back memories of my teenaged ham years, quickly scrambling off of my parent's steep three-story roof and tuning-up the DX-20 to see if the latest antenna was going to be something special. Yesterday was similar, except for the roof-top scrambling and the old DX-20.

By mid-afternoon everything was wired up ... but before waterproofing all the connections against the west coast rains, I went to the shack and warmed-up the FT-1000mp, setting it for exactly 10W out. Tuning across 40m, I immediately heard fellow NRR’r Howie, WB2AWQ down in Reno, calling CQ on 40m with one of his military transmitters. He came back immediately and we had a short chat, so at least I knew the new antenna worked!
 

 
Having  waterproofed all of the connections, I ventured to the shack once more, now just 45 minutes before sunset. I’ve always found that a quick way to gauge relative antenna performance is listening for my low-power signal via the vast KIWI online SDR network

With the power still set at 10W on 40m I listened on several east coast SDRs, from NH, PA, MD, NY, VA and immediately heard a surprisingly good signals on all of them. Even at 5 W, the signal was copyable. Several of them produced an audible copy when I reduced power to just 1W.

I then tried two SDRs in Brazil and immediately heard the 10W signal again! How about KH6 ... still late afternoon out there? Yes, easy copy in Hawaii as well. 

Dare I push my luck and try one more ... one of the SDRs in Iceland? 

I almost fell out of the chair when the 10W signal was good copy there as well ... still 15 minutes until sunset and with bright sky outside the shack window. 

One last thing to try was 80m although it was still very early here for 80 ... the SDR in MD returned a nice copy at 10W to complete my quick round of pre-sunset testing. 

From these early observations it would appear that the new antenna is working well but I had yet to do any A-B comparisons with my benchmark best performer, a 40m half-sloper which will be hard to beat. 

The 40m half-sloper has always outperformed any other antennas that I have tried. It's the same one that I completed my Tuna Tin 40m W.A.S. on, so its been well tested.

The following evening, I had a chance to A-B test the new antenna, listening on the Kiwi network once again with my power set at 10W.

N8DTT/6 (California)  EFW 1S unit better
NO2CW (Florida)   EFW slightly better
Jersey Shores, NJ    EFW slightly better
TF1VHF (Iceland)  EFW slightly better
ND7M (Nevada)     equal with slight edge to EFW
KA7EZO (Utah)      equal
RTM (Dominican Republic)   sloper ~ 1/2 S unit better
KP4CA (Puerto Rico)   equal
Paraguay   equal
PY2GN (Brazil)   EFW ~ 1/2 S unit better
AI6VN/KH6 (Hawaii)   equal
VE7HUN (BC)   equal  (groundwave)

Unlike 1/4 wave verticals that require a fairly robust counterpoise / radial system for effective operation, the counterpoise requirements for a half-wave are far less-demanding. Mine consists of about fifteen short turf-pinned radials and the first 50' of the coaxial feedline's shield. A common mode choke (CMC) is installed on the feeder at the 50' point, keeping any RF out of the shack and the rest of the feedline from radiating.

I was actually pretty surprised at these results but how they will relate to everyday operating is yet to be determined. My main goal was to get a good-performing 80m antenna and anything that works well on 40 would be a nice side benefit but not really required. Unfortunately I don't have another 80m antenna to run some A-B checks with but from what I can tell, performance on 80m seems to be good.

If you are on Facebook, there is a lot of good discussion and information available on the End Fed Half Wave Antennas group.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #279: Ham Radio Deluxe Deep Dive

Hello and welcome to Episode 279 of Linux in the Ham Shack! In this episode, the hosts take a deep dive into the wonderful world of Ham Radio Deluxe, the self-proclaimed radio amateur's best asset, among other things. It's an application that puts all of amateur radio on the palm of your hand. From logging to ego stroking, there's nothing it can't do. And it does it all with flair. Thanks for listening and we hope you have a great week.

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].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2019 Apr 01 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2019 Apr 01 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2019 Apr 01 0125 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 25 – 31 March 2019

Solar activity was very low throughout the period. Region 2736 (N08, L=284, class/area-Eki/420 on 22 Mar) produced low level B-class flare activity after its rotation around the west limb. Region 2737 (N12, L=059, class/area-Bxo/10 on 31 Mar) emerged on the disk but was inactive. No Earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CME) were observed.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at moderate levels throughout the reporting period.

Geomagnetic field activity reached active levels on 31 March and unsettled levels on 26-28 March due to influence from multiple, negative polarity coronal hole high-speed streams (CH HSS). Quiet conditions were observed on 25, 29-30 March.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 01 April – 27 April 2019

Solar activity is expected to be very low on 01-05 and 20-27 April. Low levels are expected between 06-19 April due to the return of Region 2736.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels on 01-07 April with normal to moderate levels expected throughout the remainder of the outlook period.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to reach active levels on 12 April due to influence from a recurrent, negative-polarity CH HSS. Quiet to unsettled levels are expected throughout the remainder of the outlook 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/

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. https://Twitter.com/NW7US 2. https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on Groups.io

https://groups.io/g/propagation-and-space-weather

Spread the word!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Links of interest:

+ Amazon space weather books: http://g.nw7us.us/fbssw-aSWSC
+ https://Twitter.com/NW7US
+ https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

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:

https://www.patreon.com/NW7US

The YouTube channel:
https://YouTube.com/NW7US

..


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'.

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