Posts Tagged ‘radio’
Morse Code Day on April 27 (every year) honors one of the inventers of the Morse code, Samuel Morse, who was born on this day in 1791.
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American inventor and painter. After having established his reputation as a portrait painter, in his middle age Morse contributed to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs. He was a co-developer of Morse code and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.
Alfred Vail developed the dot-dash structure, and Leonard Gale along with Vail was instrumental in developing the mechanical receiving apparatus for code.
Samuel Morse gets most of the credit because of his work in promoting this code as a viable means of communication. Morse code is still used now. Amateur radio is one of the communities in which Morse code is popular and in daily use.
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The last three years have been, well, challenging.
In 2021, I became ill with Covid. That was rough, but I bounced back. That bout with illness caused me to lose my job, though, because I was ill too long. What is worse is because I was not hospitalized, I did not fall under the protections of “disability,” and had to step down from my employment at that time. After I recovered, I found employment.
In 2022, I again fell ill to a second Covid. That illness was significantly worse! I nearly WAS hospitalized, but I resisted this, and hung on by a thread. I made it through, though the illness lasted a lot longer the second time around. Because I was ill for about five months, I again had to step down from employment. This second Covid was the worst illness I have ever experienced, physically, emotionally, and financially. I am thankful for my friends and family that were very supportive.
After I recovered, I found employment in late 2022. It took a while for my health to stabilize, but the new job leadership has been supportive. I have been happily working at this new job since late 2022.
But, the challenge to recover was high. I sought answers.
In December 2022, I was diagnosed with Primary Hyperparathyroidism. Sure enough, the many tests I endured confirmed that I had more than one tumor in at least two of my four parathyroid glands (we each have four of them, because we’re given redundancy for this critical body part).
I had surgery at the end of February 2023 to remove these tumor-riddled glands. The surgeon, once in my neck, found that THREE of my four glands were tumorous! He removed the three. I now have just one parathyroid gland.
Recovery has gone well. My health is improving nicely. It is like a switch was flipped, and I no longer have some of the debilitating symptoms like brain fog, extreme fatigue, and an out-of-control metabolism. I have a stable function of the remaining parathyroid gland, and that is supporting the proper function of the rest of my body. It is amazing how the whole body relies on these four glands for running correctly!
All of these challenges of the last few years caused enough distraction that my YouTube channel, and my writing, here, as well as other hobby activities, suffered my absence. Now that I am getting back on my feet with my health, and because my job continues nicely, I am beginning to spend some energy and time on these hobby areas. I plan on creating and releasing a few series on amateur radio, radio propagation, and space weather, on my YouTube channel. If you are already a subscriber, you probably saw my latest video where I announce that I am, indeed, back:
If there are topics that you would like me to cover in the new educational videos I am planning and will create, please let me know with a comment to this post, or, look my email address up on my profile at QRZdotCom. I will do my best to answer your questions and cover amateur radio and space weather topics in which you are interested.
If you are not yet familiar with my YouTube channel, you can find my channel here: https://YouTube.com/NW7US — Please subscribe and hit the bell to be notified when I release new video content.
I will also post more often on this site. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you my love of amateur radio, and the science of propagation and space weather which affects our radio signals.
There is a new book from a fellow Morse code amateur radio operator, Chris Rutkowski (NW6V), about “Learning, Living, and Loving Morse Code (in a Digital World).” NICE!
Title: “The CW Way of Life“
Already, I think it rivals any other book on the topic, including “The Art and Skill of…,” or, “The Zen of…”
It is not, however, meant to replace, but to augment, what is available. But, it is a complete guide, including a “work book” section (nearly half of the book?) on how to improve your skill. Really good stuff, but I’m only in one day.
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Announcement: Special Event Weekend, 02/11/2023
THE 1ST EVER OLIVIA DIGITAL MODE WEEKEND QSO PARTY
When is this special QSO party?
Valentine’s Day Weekend. This event is held this year on February 11, 1400 UTC, through February 13, 0200 UTC
Join our mailing group for live interaction with other Olivia users:
Sponsored by the Olivia Digital DXers Club (on Clublog, and on Facebook: Olivia Digital Mode on HF Radio (Contestia included))
Certificate for participants, and more. Organizer: Tomas Hood (NW7US), PO Box 110, Fayetteville, OH 45118.
This is the FIRST ever weekend QSO party for Olivia.
From the RAIN HamCast episode #56, 2021-XII-11 (used with permission):
When you were knee high to a grasshopper, did you undergo a game-changing experience that shaped your future career?
Here is text from the introduction:
Tomas Hood/NW7US did. Tomas has been a shortwave enthusiast since 1973. He was first licensed as a ham in 1990 at age 25.
In the mid 1990s Tomas launched the first civilian space weather propagation website, HFRadio.org, which later spawned SunSpotWatch.com. His website, NW7US has been up and running since June, 1999. 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 today in Fayetteville, OH. RAIN’s Hap Holly/KC9RP spoke with Tomas recently about Solar Cycle 25 and the game-changing afternoon Tomas experienced in 1973 at age 8 ( Read more about this, at his amateur radio and space weather blog: https://blog.NW7US.us/ ).
Here is the first part of the two-part interview:
Mentioned in the interview is Skylab:
From Wikipedia’s article on Skylab: Skylab was the first United States space station, launched by NASA, occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974. It was operated by three separate three-astronaut crews: Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4. Major operations included an orbital workshop, a solar observatory, Earth observation, and hundreds of experiments.
Tomas was drawn into space weather as a life-long passion, by inspiration from Skylab, and from the hourly propagation bulletin from the radio station WWV.
WATCH FOR THE NEXT EPISODE, PART TWO
This video is only part one. The RAIN HamCast will conclude Hap’s conversation with Tomas in RAIN HamCast #57, scheduled for posting Christmas Day.
Hap Holly, of the infamous RAIN Report (RAIN = Radio Amateur Information Network), is now producing The RAIN HamCast. The results are both on https://therainreport.com and on the RAIN HamCast YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUbNkaUvX_lt5IiDkS9aS4g
KEEP ON HAMMING!
The RAIN Hamcast is produced and edited by Hap Holly/KC9RP; this biweekly podcast is copyright 1985-2021 RAIN, All rights reserved. RAIN programming is formatted for Amateur Radio transmission and is made available under a Creative Commons license; downloading, sharing, posting and transmission of this ham radio program via Amateur Radio in its entirety are encouraged. Your support and feedback are welcome on https://therainreport.com. Thanks for YouTube Technical Assistance from Tom Shimizu/N9JDI.
A VISUAL + AUDIO AIR CHECK OF DIGITAL MODE FT8 QSOs, ON THE 30-METER BAND
Here is a video capture of the reception and transmission of many digital FT8-mode amateur radio high-frequency (HF; Shortwave) communication signals. This video is a front-seat view of the software operation performed at the radio room of amateur radio operator, NW7US, Tomas Hood.
The software packages demonstrated are installed and operational on a modern personal computer. The computer is connected to an Icom IC-7610 radio transceiver, controlled by the software. While there is no narration in the video, the video provides an opportunity for you to see first-hand how typical FT8 operations are performed. The signals can be heard.
The frequency used for the FT8 communication in this video is on or about 10.136 MHz, in the 30-Meter shortwave amateur radio allocation (or, band). As can be seen, the 30-Meter band was active at this time of day (0720 UTC, onward–local nighttime).
In this video you see (and hear) NW7US make two-way contacts, or QSOs, with stations from around the country and the world.
There are amateur radio operators within the amateur radio community who regard the FT8 digital mode (FT8 stands for “Franke-Taylor design, 8-FSK modulation“, and refers to the mode created by Joe Taylor, K1JT and Steve Franke, K9AN) as robotic (automatic, automated, and unattended) computer-to-computer communications, and not ‘true’ human communications–thus negating the spirit of ham radio. In other words, FT8, in their opinion, is not real amateur radio. While they pontificate about supposed automated computer communications, many of those holding this position have not installed and configured the software, nor tried communicating with the FT8 digital mode. They have perhaps formed their anti-FT8 opinion in a vacuum of knowledge. (This writer has other issues with FT8, but not on this point–see below)
As you watch the video linked in this article, consider these concepts:
+ A QSO is defined (as per common knowledge–see below) as the exchange of at least the minimum information needed as set by the requirements of a particular award, or, as is defined by law–for instance, a QSO would have at least an exchange of the legal call sign assigned to the radio station and/or control operator, the location of the station making the transmission, and a signal report of some kind about the signal received from the other transmitter at the other end of the QSO.
+ Just how much human involvement is required to make a full FT8 QSO? Does WSJT-X software run all by itself, with no human control? Is WSJT-X a robot, in the sense that it picks a frequency, then initiates or answers a CQ call automatically, or is it just powerful digital-mode software that still requires human control?
The video was captured from the screen of the PC running the following software packages interacting together as a system:
+ WSJT-X: The primary software featuring the digital mode, FT8. (See below for some background on WSJT-X software.)
+ JTAlert: Provides several audio and visual alert types based on decoded Callsigns within WSJT-X.
+ Log4OM, Version 2: A full-featured logging program, which integrates well with WSJT-X and JTAlert.
+ Win4IcomSuite: A full-featured radio controlling program which can remote control rigs, and provide control through virtual communication port-sharing.
+ Com0Com: The Null-modem emulator allows you to create an unlimited number of virtual COM port pairs and use any pair to connect one COM port based application to another. Each COM port pair provides two COM ports. The output to one port is the input from other port and vice versa.
As mentioned, above, the radio used for the communication of FT8 at the station, NW7US, is an Icom IC-7610 transceiver. The antenna is an off-center fed dipole that is over 200 feet in total length (end-to-end measurement).
WSJT-X is a computer program used for weak-signal radio communication between amateur radio operators, or used by Shortwave Radio Listeners (SWLers; SWL) interested in monitoring the FT8 digital communications between amateur radio operators. The program was initially written by Joe Taylor, K1JT with Steve Franke, K9AN, but is now open source and is developed by a small team. The digital signal processing techniques in WSJT-X make it substantially easier for amateur radio operators to employ esoteric propagation modes, such as high-speed meteor scatter and moonbounce.
WSJT-X implements communication protocols or “modes” called FST4, FST4W, FT4, FT8, JT4, JT9, JT65, Q65, MSK144, and WSPR, as well as one called Echo for detecting and measuring your own radio signals reflected from the Moon. These modes were all designed for making reliable, confirmed QSOs under extreme weak-signal conditions. JT4, JT9, and JT65 use nearly identical message structure and source encoding (the efficient compression of standard messages used for minimal QSOs). They use timed 60-second Transmit/Rreceive (T/R) sequences synchronized with UTC (Universal Time, Coordinated). JT4 and JT65 were designed for Earth-Moon-Earth communications (EME, or, moonbounce) on the Very-High Frequency (VHF), Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) and microwave bands. JT9 is optimized for the Medium-Frequency (MF) and High-Frequency (HF) bands. It is about 2 dB more sensitive than JT65 while using less than 10% of the bandwidth. Q65 offers submodes with a wide range of T/R sequence lengths and tone spacings.FT4 and FT8 are operationally similar but use T/R cycles only 7.5 and 15 seconds long, respectively. MSK144 is designed for Meteor Scatter on the VHF bands. These modes offer enhanced message formats with support for nonstandard call signs and some popular contests. (The MSK in MSK144 stands for, Multiple Frequency Shift Keying.)
FST4 and FST4W are designed particularly for the Low-Frequency (LF) and MF bands. On these bands, their fundamental sensitivities are better than other WSJT-X modes with the same sequence lengths, approaching the theoretical limits for their rates of information throughput. FST4 is optimized for two-way QSOs, while FST4W is for quasi-beacon transmissions of WSPR-style messages. FST4 and FST4W do not require the strict, independent time synchronization and phase locking of modes like EbNaut.
As described more fully on its own page, WSPR mode implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. WSPR is fully implemented within WSJT-X, including programmable band-hopping.
What is a QSO?
Under the title, CONTACTS, at the Sierra Foothills Amateur Radio Club’s 2014 Technician Class webpage, https://www.hsdivers.com/Ham/Mod15.html, they teach,
An amateur radio contact (called a QSO), is an exchange of info between two amateur radio stations. The exchange usually consists of an initial call (CQ = call to all stations). Then, a response from another amateur radio operator, and usually at least a signal report.
Contacts can be limited to just a minimal exchange of call signs & signal reports generally between amateurs previously unknown to each other. Very short contacts are usually done only during contests while longer, extended ‘rag chews’ may be between newly met friends with some common interest or someone you have known for a long time.
Wikipedia has an entry for QSO, too.
My Issue With FT8 and WSJT-X
I have written in the past, on this website, about an issue that came about during the course of the development of the WSJT-X software package. The development team decided to widen the slice of ‘default’ (pre-programmed) frequencies on which to operate FT8. The issue was how the choice of new frequencies was made, and what choices were implemented in an upcoming software release. Read more about all of this, in these three articles:
Has this issue been resolved? For now, yes. There appears to be more coordination between interested groups, and the proposed new frequencies were removed from the software defaults in WSJT-X. At least, up to this point, at the time of publishing this article.
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.
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