LHS Episode #470: The Weekender XCII

It's time once again for The Weekender. This is our departure into the world of hedonism, random topic excursions, whimsy and (hopefully) knowledge. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we're doing. We'd love to hear from you.

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].

ICQ Podcast Episode 378 – Gateways On The Air 2022

In this episode, Martin Butler (M1MRB) is joined by Martin Rothwell (M0SGL), Frank Howell (K4FMH), Bill Barnes (WC3B) and Leslie Butterfield (G0CIB) to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin (M6BOY) rounds up the news in brief and in the episode's feature Gateways On The Air 2022.

We would like to thank Yusuf Chadun (M7CZF) and our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit - http://www.icqpodcast.com/donate

  • "Q" RSL to Celebrate The Queen's Platinum Jubilee
  • SOTA on BBC Countryfile
  • 23cm Band and Sat-Nav Coexistence: ITU-R WP4C Studies
  • The Undead Spacecraft
  • Essex Radio Amateur in Queen’s Birthday Honours List
  • GB70U: From Guernsey to Space – and Back Again
  • Boston Amateur Radio Club Field Day 2022

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

Listen with your eyes closed.

 


Way back in high school one of my classes was band class, now this was not brass band but strings and wood wind. I was a cello player and very much enjoyed it but when it was time to sign it out to practice at home I had wished I picked the flute....I digress....What does the cello have to do with ham radio? Well back when I was in band class part of our testing was to listen to a recording of an orchestra playing and identify as many individual instruments as we could. Simple with violin, double bass, cello and clarinet. But the Oboe, Bass and E-flat Clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon and then the Viola. Our teacher told us to close our eyes as we listened and it would make things much easier and over time it did. 

So you ask again what does this have to do with radio? For the past 6 months I have been on a mission to build up my copy speed of Morse code. I really did not like the code and had to learn it and I say "had too" because when I first went for my ham ticket the code was a requirement. I learned the code back then to later forget it once I obtained my ticket. 

I have come full circle to respecting and admiring the skill of Morse code. I worked very hard to learn the code and it's very true if you don't use it you loose it. I had lost it over time but in my mid 50's I started again to learn it and wanted to master it....have not got there yet but the challenge keeps me sharp. 

I am focusing on contest Morse code and my next challenge will be a higher speed QSO Morse code. I am at the point now (35-38 wpm contest code) that as my practice contest code programs spill the code at me I find myself typing the letter or number and looking at the screen on the PC to see if it's correct and then listen for the next letter. At 36-38 wpm looking at the letter to confirm is not an option I end up missing letters and not getting the call sign or exchange correct. 

Now at this speed of code I strongly recommend proper home row touch keyboarding and not hunt and peck the letters and numbers. As mentioned in a past post thank goodness in school I took typing and am able to touch type. As I struggled to hit the 35-38 wpm mark I remembered my music teacher...."close your eyes and listen" I did just that and my rate of copy went from 70% up to the 90's. I don't keep my eyes closed all the time and I feel it's just really helping me to concentrate on the rhythm of the letters and numbers. 

To close your eyes and listen sure does the trick for me.


Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Listen with your eyes closed.

Way back in high school one of my classes was band class, now this was not brass band but strings and wood wind. I was a cello player and very much enjoyed it but when it was time to sign it out to practice at home I had wished I picked the flute....I digress....What does the cello have to do with ham radio? Well back when I was in band class part of our testing was to listen to a recording of an orchestra playing and identify as many individual instruments as we could. Simple with violin, double bass, cello and clarinet. But the Oboe, Bass and E-flat Clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon and then the Viola. Our teacher told us to close our eyes as we listened and it would make things much easier and over time it did. So you ask again what does this have to do with radio? For the past 6 months I have been on a mission to build up my copy speed of Morse code. I really did not like the code and had to learn it and I say "had too" because when I first went for my ham ticket the code was a requirement. I learned the code back then to later forget it once I obtained my ticket. I have come full circle to respecting and admiring the skill of Morse code. I worked very hard to learn the code and it's very true if you don't use it you loose it. I had lost it over time but in my mid 50's I started again to learn it and wanted to master it....have not got there yet but the challenge keeps me sharp. I am focusing on contest Morse code and my next challenge will be a higher speed QSO Morse code. I am at the point now (35-38 wpm contest code) that as my practice contest code programs spill the code at me I find myself typing the letter or number and looking at the screen on the PC to see if it's correct and then listen for the next letter. At 36-38 wpm looking at the letter to confirm is not an option I end up missing letters and not getting the call sign or exchange correct. Now at this speed of code I strongly recommend proper home row touch keyboarding and not hunt and peck the letters and numbers. As mentioned in a past post thank goodness in school I took typing and am able to touch type. As I struggled to hit the 35-38 wpm mark I remembered my music teacher...."close your eyes and listen" I did just that and my rate of copy went from 70% up to the 90's. I don't keep my eyes closed all the time and I feel it's just really helping me to concentrate on the rhythm of the letters and numbers. To close your eyes and listen sure does the trick for me.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

FT8 and the Magic Band

Now that 6m is in full swing once again, many of you will be operating FT8 on 6m for the first time! Things are a little different on 6m compared to operating FT8 on HF and here are a few things for newcomers that might help to keep you out of the naughty corner! (originally published in 2020 but still important today) Today’s blog is directed to those that may be new to 6m or new to using FT8 on 6m. Some of the things discussed will make your experience on the magic band better for you and better for your neighbors. Unlike using FT8 on the HF bands, 6m presents some different challenges, especially if you operate in a region where there may be a lot of other locals also using the band at the same time. Although the weak-signal capability of FT8 has made it possible for many smaller stations or those with makeshift antennas to take advantage of the unique propagation 6m has to offer, it also can create problems for other users of the band when used inappropriately. In regions of dense population, even small stations can create very high local signal levels, often making it impossible for their neighbors to hear weak signals. This is not deliberately-caused QRM but arises when some operators operate 'against the flow’ and transmit on the opposite ‘sequence’ to everyone else in their local area. On HF, one can transmit or listen on whatever time sequence they wish. Choosing ‘TX 1st’ or ‘TX 2nd’ is usually determined by who you hear calling CQ or who you wish to work. On 6m however, in a densely-populated region of local operators, chosing to transmit whenever you want to is a luxury that can create big problems for your neighbor who may be trying to hear that weak DX signal while you are transmitting! These problem will not occur if everybody in the region uses and follows the same transmit-receive periods, so that everyone is listening or everyone is transmitting at the same time ... one or the other. Unfortunately, this ‘ideal’ system falls apart easily when one or more of your neighbors is not using the same sequence as everyone else. For the past few years, a protocol that seeks to alleviate this problem has become popular and well accepted by those familiar with it. Those new to 6m may not know about it or understand the reasoning behind it. Above all, I would urge new users of the band, or to the FT8 mode, to first listen carefully for a few minutes, before beginning operation, to determine what the majority of stations in their local region are using for sequencing. If they are using ‘TX 1st’, then your choice of ‘TX 2nd’ will likely cause hearing difficulty for many others, as well as for yourself. Although there are no strict rules, there is a very successful and well-practiced protocol, and that is that the ‘easternmost’ station transmits on ‘1st’ while the ‘western end’ goes 2nd’. This is why you will hear most eastern stations in the morning hours transmitting ‘2nd’, as they are usually calling or looking for Europeans to their east, who are transmitting ‘1st’. By the same token, you will also hear western stations transmitting on '2nd', who are also looking for Europe to their east, transmitting on ‘1st’. This sequencing protocol usually reverses later in the day when signals from Asia become a possibility, and all North Americans then become the ‘easternmost’ stations and will transmit on the ‘1st’ sequence ... unlike in the morning. I can easily see how newcomers to the band could become confused, when they hear both sequences being used! The best thing, once again, is to listen carefully first and then ‘go with the flow’. You can read about the UK's Six Metre Group's initiatives regarding these protocols HERE. OK... so you’re not interested in EU or Asia? Then it shouldn’t matter to you which sequence that you use and best operating practice would again be to ‘go with the flow’ in consideration of other users. A few days ago I saw a prime example of exactly what not to do, in too many respects. I made a posting on the ON4KST 6m chat page that VE1SKY in NS (Nova Scotia) was being decoded here, mainly to alert others in my region that European signals might be coming next, as hearing the VE1s in BC is often an indicator that the European path is building. In less than a minute, an S9+ local began calling ‘CQ NS’ on the exact opposite sequence of all others ... effectively blocking the waterfall and any possible hope of hearing weak EU signals. I’m sorry, but this is just terrible operating procedure, with almost zero chance of success, while showing no consideration for nearby users. Just like working DX on CW or on phone, the best way, as it always has been, is to ‘listen, listen and then listen some more’. You will work FAR more DX by listening and calling at the right time, than you will by calling CQ. I also see some local stations everyday, calling endless CQs, often for over 60 minutes straight and often with many replies that go unnoticed. With FT8, one can check ‘work 1st’, go away, and return later to see who they might have ‘worked’. Perhaps this is what these operators are doing, but they should understand that they are also creating non-stop QRM for other users ... those that choose to listen carefully to the band rather than to endlessly CQ. Once again, this is just poor practice. You may argue that if nobody called CQ, then there would be no contacts made. There is nothing wrong with a few CQs but CQing for an hour? And don’t worry, there will always be other stations CQing endlessly for you to hear, even if it’s not a great way to operate. With a little pre-planning for sequencing and consideration for your neighbors, everyone can and should be able to enjoy 6m FT8 with very few problems ... and that is my hope for all of us. After forty-eight summers of CW and phone on 6m and two summers on FT8, these are some of my initial thoughts on how to best operate for maximum success and consideration for other band-users. The latter is part of the basic framework upon which amateur radio was originally established, when back in 1914, the ARRL described in their 'Code of Conduct' for amateurs ... "The Amateur is Gentlemanly. He never knowingly uses the air for his own amusement in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others."  Now, let the magic, and the pleasure, continue!  

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

LHS Episode #469: I Can Has Cheezburger

Hello and welcome to the 469th episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this short topics episode, the hosts discuss attendance and other topics about the recent Hamvention 2022, memes, the Platinum Jubilee special event station, pulseaudio, Distrobox, The LInux Foundation and security, wfview and much more. Thank you for listening. 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].

Hearing Too Much and Not Enough…of the Right Signal!

Field Day is once again happening later this month. Hearing everyone is a blast, no? Well, it might not be. Especially if it’s the ham at the table right next to you. The “sshh, sshh” sound of the CW op bleeding over into your SSB ban frequency or the nearby FT8 transmissions doing the same. But you’re forgetting the CW op hearing your voice signal peaks, too. Unless you’re listening to the monitor on FT8 (or other digital mode), you just might not reliably decode a QSO transmission. All in all, it’s just not the folks whom you want hear!

It might be time to include an HF bandpass filter system into your Field Day or other portable operation station(s). But what to do? Build a kit? Buy commercially assembled? Or some of both? This is the focus of my article that appears in the June issue of CQ Magazine.

I bought an HF BPF system covering 160-6 meters from an Australian company, VK-Amps, from their eBay store at a very good price. Here’s a picture of the assembly into a customized aluminum case on my workbench. I tested it for filter characterization comparison against N5DU’s DX Engineering’s comparable DXE-419 filter system. My portable ops team tested the two during the Mississippi QSO Party. How did it do? Take a look at CQ Magazine’s June issue!


Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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