Posts Tagged ‘Web’

Kilo Zero Naval Reserve

I don’t usually get pulled into historical investigations, but I recently found something interesting about my call sign, KØNR. I received this vanity call in April 2002. Before me, Craig Larson W3MS held this call sign starting in 1975. These are the only two entries in the FCC database (Universal Licensing System).

The story starts with me poking around the Digital Library of Amateur Radio & Communications (DLARC), an online archive of radio communications media. I search on “K0NR” and got a number of hits, including an entry from a 1962 Callbook. Back in the olden days, ham radio callsigns and contact info were published in a thick book, kind of like a phone book.

The callsign was listed with “USNR” in the name or organization field. I wasn’t sure what USNR meant so I asked for help via Twitter. Quite a few people came back with “United States Naval Reserve”, which did turn out to be correct. The graphic below is from the 1962 call book and it has multiple callsigns labeled USNR and one labeled USN.

Then Jason W5IPA came up with a page from the July 1949 issue of QST.This article shows there were many amateur call signs assigned to naval reserve stations.

Click to access QST-1949-07.pdf

Then N8URE poked around and came up with this from a 1960 telephone book:

I suspect the 5-digit telephone number is long been obsolete. There still is an address for the Naval Reserve in Dubuque but it is on Jet Center Drive, near the airport.

So there you have it: it was common for Naval Reserve centers to have amateur radio call signs assigned to them. For obvious reasons, they tended to have NR in the call sign. K0NR was assigned to the station in Dubuque, IA.

Thanks for the help from: W5IPA, N8URE, K8BCR, K4ZDH

73 Bob, Kilo Zero Naval Reserve

The post Kilo Zero Naval Reserve appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

My Story on QSO Today

About five years ago, Eric/4Z1UG interviewed me for the QSO Today podcast. He recently retrieved and remixed the audio recording and posted it on the QSO Today webpage. There are a few places where the discussion seems dated (such as the discussion of Yaesu Fusion, which was relatively new at the time.) However, for the most part, the dialog was good and still relevant. Well, at least to me, because it was my story.

During the interview, I mention some of my Elmers, including Virgil/W0INK who influenced me early in my ham career. I also talk about the concept of 360-Degree Elmering, which means that Elmers (mentors) can be found in many different places. Other topics include: Summits On The Air, Colorado 14ers,  the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association (W0TLM), repeaters, DMR in Colorado. There is a plug for Ham Radio School, where I continue to help out. Somehow we got on the topic of lists in amateur radio: DXCC entities, SOTA summits, states, etc.

Anyway, you may find it interesting.

73 Bob K0NR

The post My Story on QSO Today appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Another AI Blog Post: Who is Bob K0NR?

Here is another lazy attempt by me at generating a blog post using ChatGPT. This time I asked the machine to “tell me about Bob Witte K0NR”. I figured there are quite a few things available in the public domain about me, so it would be interesting to see what the AI came up with. Here’s the result with [my comments] inserted.

Bob Witte, also known by his callsign K0NR, is an experienced and respected ham radio operator who has been licensed since the mid-1970s. He is based in Colorado, USA and is known for his contributions to the amateur radio community. [I like the sound of this.]

Bob has a passion for promoting amateur radio and encouraging others to get involved in the hobby. He is a regular contributor to the popular ham radio blog, “The KØNR Radio Site,” where he shares his experiences and knowledge with other hams. He also co-hosts the “HamRadioNow” video podcast series, which covers a wide range of topics related to amateur radio. [Correct on my blog, but I don’t co-host any type of podcast.]

Bob is an active member of several ham radio clubs and organizations, including the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB). He has served in various leadership roles within these organizations and has been recognized for his contributions to the amateur radio community. [Yes on the ARRL, but I am not an RSGB member.]

Bob’s interests in ham radio include VHF/UHF weak signal work, contesting, and digital modes. He is also an avid outdoorsman and enjoys portable operations from remote locations. He has a strong interest in emergency communications and is involved in several emergency communication organizations, including the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). [Not too bad, but my involvement in ARES and other emcomm groups has faded quite a bit.]

Overall, Bob Witte K0NR is a highly respected and knowledgeable ham radio operator who has made significant contributions to the amateur radio community. [Well, I like the sound of this part.]

I would like to get under the hood of ChatGPT to find out how they connected me with HamRadioNow and the RSGB. These are two statements that can easily be checked and found to be false.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Another AI Blog Post: Who is Bob K0NR? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Blogging With AI (ChatGPT)

Sorry that I have not been posting much on my blog. I have several other projects consuming my time and this blog has been neglected.

Then, it hit me: I should just let ChatGPT, a free artificial intelligence (AI) platform that is getting a lot of attention, write my blog for me. All the Cool Kids are Using It. I just entered “Please write my next blog post about VHF ham radio” and this is what I got back:

VHF Ham Radio: Exploring the World Above 50 MHz

When most people think of ham radio, they usually picture a person sitting in a dark room, talking into a large radio with a huge antenna. However, ham radio can be much more than that, especially when you start exploring the VHF bands.

VHF, or Very High Frequency, refers to the portion of the radio spectrum between 30 and 300 MHz. This includes the 6-meter (50 MHz), 2-meter (144 MHz), and 70-centimeter (440 MHz) bands, which are commonly used by amateur radio operators for local and regional communication.

One of the main advantages of VHF ham radio is that it allows for much greater range than the traditional HF bands (below 30 MHz). This is because VHF signals travel mostly in a straight line, and are less affected by the ionosphere and other atmospheric conditions that can impact HF propagation.

In addition to traditional voice communication, VHF ham radio operators also use a variety of digital modes such as Packet Radio, APRS, and D-STAR, which allow for the exchange of data and information over the airwaves.

Another popular VHF activity is contesting, which involves making as many contacts as possible in a short period of time. Contesting can be a fun and exciting way to improve your operating skills and test your equipment.

VHF ham radio is also a great way to get involved in emergency communication and public service. Many amateur radio clubs and organizations work closely with local authorities to provide communication support during emergencies and events.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of VHF ham radio, there are a few things you’ll need. First, you’ll need a radio that covers the VHF bands. There are many options available, from handheld transceivers to base stations with large antennas.

You’ll also need an antenna that is specifically designed for VHF operation. These antennas are typically shorter and more compact than HF antennas, and are available in a variety of types and configurations.

Finally, you’ll need to obtain a ham radio license from the FCC. The process is relatively straightforward and involves passing a written exam that covers basic radio theory, regulations, and operating procedures.

In conclusion, VHF ham radio offers a world of opportunities for communication, experimentation, and public service. Whether you’re a seasoned operator or a newcomer to the hobby, there’s always something new to discover on the VHF bands.
[ end of ChatGPT article]

How many factual errors did you spot?

73 Bob K0NR

The post Blogging With AI (ChatGPT) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Top Five K0NR Blog Posts for 2022

Closing out 2022, here are the top five blog posts at during the year. Some people may see this as a lazy way of creating one more blog post for the year without much effort and they would be right.

Top Five Blog Posts

Leading the list is this blog post…a perennial favorite that seems to make the top five each year. This particular article is tuned for Colorado but it also provides a link to an article that covers the topic for the USA.

Choose Your 2m Frequency Wisely

This is another popular article that provides an introduction to 2m SSB operating.

Getting Started on 2m SSB

In third place, this post explains how the FCC rules get in the way of having one radio that does everything.

One Radio To Rule Them All (Ham, GMRS, FRS, MURS)?

This older April Fools article from 2019 jumped into fourth place this year. I am not sure why it suddenly popped onto the scene but I think it is a fun article as long as you don’t take it seriously.

Radio Club Petitions FCC To Fix Call Area Confusion

In fifth place is one of my favorites, an article that encourages hams to “make some noise on 2m FM.”

Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM

Editors Choice

Just for good measure, I am including one more post that I think is notable. This one promotes the idea of the North America Adventure Frequency (146.58 MHz), which is working out nicely.

North America Adventure Frequency: 146.58 MHz

Also, take a look at this post:

How’s That North America Adventure Frequency Working?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

73 Bob K0NR

The post Top Five K0NR Blog Posts for 2022 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Top Five K0NR Blog Posts for 2018

Closing out 2018, here are the top five blog posts at during the year. Apparently these posts are “evergreen content” because they were all written years ago, well before 2018. With the exception of the Baofeng cable article, they were all on the top five list last year.

Happy New Year and 73 from Bob/K0NR

The post Top Five K0NR Blog Posts for 2018 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Is the Internet Destroying Amateur Radio?

How many times do you hear the comment “ham radio…do people still do that?” followed by the statement that “surely the internet has made ham radio obsolete.” For the most part, that misses the point about the use and attractiveness of amateur radio. And yes, that is a clickbait headline.

I’ve written before that Amateur Radio Is Not for Talking and that the Universal Purpose of Ham Radio is to have fun messing around with radios. One significant statistic is that the number of FCC amateur radio licensees remain at an all time high. Eventually, the demographics will likely catch up with us and this number will start to decline, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The internet has become a tool that is used to complement amateur radio, often in ways that we may not have predicted. Although there are plenty of “keep the internet out of amateur radio” folks in the hobby, there are many more that have found clever ways to make use of the internet. I view emerging technologies and technological innovation as unstoppable forces that will impact us whether we try to ignore them or not. Using that lens, let’s examine the impact of the internet on amateur radio.

Here are a few broad categories of impact:

1. Communication Pipe

The internet is often used to provide an additional mechanism for transporting ham radio communications. Obvious examples are VoIP systems such as EchoLink and IRLP. Also included in this category are digital voice systems that use the internet to connect radios together: D-STAR, Yaesu System Fusion, Brandmeister Network, DMR-MARC Network. WinLink is a global email system using ham radio. The core transport technology is the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) which is not limited to the public internet. Some ham radio organizations are implementing IP links using microwave gear on the amateur radio bands so they are independent of the internet.

Another application in this category is remote operation of ham stations. That is, use an internet connection to control a ham station at another location. Sometimes people refer to this as the Long Microphone Cord Model (or maybe I just made that us). Hams do this with their own private stations but there are also shared stations established by radio clubs and commercial vendors (see Remote Ham Radio). With community restrictions on external antennas being very common, having a remote station available is very attractive.

This has turned out to be quite disruptive because so much of ham radio operating depends on your location, which is generally determined by the location of the transmitter. But now you can have a person sitting in downtown Denver operating a transmitter that is in Fiji. Kind of confuses things a bit. Regulatory issues also come into play: that transmitter in Fiji is going to fall under Fiji regulation which usually means needing an amateur radio license issued by the local government. The day is coming when a DXpedition to a remote island will consist of a helicopter delivery of a remote radio box (with satellite link and self-deploying HF antenna) that is operated by someone sitting at home using their smartphone.

2. Reporting and Coordination

Ham radio operators also use the internet for spotting and reporting purposes. Spotting has been around for a long time, which basically means letting other hams know that a particular station is on the air and can be worked from a particular location. Hams have done this without the internet but the internet certainly allows for more efficiency. Or at least a lot more spots. DX Maps is a good example of a spotting web site that supports lists and mapping of spots.

Radio hams also use the internet for coordinating radio contacts. One of the most extreme examples is the use of pingjockey for arranging meteor scatter communications. Typically, two hams will connect on pingjockey and agree to try a meteor contact on a specific frequency, with specific timing, etc. This technique is easy to abuse, either intentionally or via sloppy operating habits, because you can inadvertently share the radio contact information via the internet. However, properly used, pingjockey is a wonderful tool that promotes meteor scatter operating. ON4KST operates an amateur radio chat website that enables a wide variety of online communication and coordination between hams.

The Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) is a network of radio receivers listening to the amateur bands and reporting what stations they hear. These stations are often referred to as CW Skimmers because they skim the CW information from the received signals. RBN began with decoding CW but now also supports RTTY. There’s no fundamental reason it couldn’t be extended to other modes, even voice modes, with sufficient computing power. 

PSK Reporter is a similar reporting system which accumulates signal reports from HF digital stations. As the name implies, it was first focused on PSK31 but has expanded to include other digital modes.

Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) is more advanced propagation reporting system that uses transceivers and advanced DSP techniques. The compressed protocol sends the transmitting station’s callsign, Maidenhead grid locator, and transmitter power in dBm. WSPR lights up the world with low power transmitters and measures HF propagation on all bands in real time. Very clever system.
These worldwide networks produce a very complete picture of available propagation and stations on the air. Some hams complain that “nobody tunes the dial” anymore because they just rely on the station of interest to be spotted. DX stations often have the experience of huge pileup as soon as they are spotted on one of the networks.

3. Logging and Confirmations

For decades, hams have been keeping their radio logs using a wide range of software that is available.  This is a handy way of keeping track of radio contacts and tracking progress towards operating awards. More recently, online systems have been developed to allow radio contacts to be confirmed electronically. That is, instead of exchanging QSL cards as confirmation of a radio contact, both hams submit their log information to a central server that records the radio contact. The ARRL offers the Logbook of The World (LoTW) which supports these awards: DXCC, WAS, VUCC and CQ WPX. The eQSL web site was the first online QSL site, offering electronic QSL card delivery and its own set of operating awards. Club Log is another online electronic logging system. The popular web site has added a logbook feature to its set of features.

Electronic confirmation of radio contacts is a huge improvement for ham radio. While many of us still enjoy getting a paper QSL card, collecting QSLs for awards is a royal pain. Mailing QSL cards is expensive, takes time and often involves long delays.

Impact on Amateur Radio

Here’s my analysis of the situation: Categories 2 and 3 mostly represent a net positive influence on amateur radio. These are straight up information age applications that provide useful and quick updates about radio propagation and radio contacts. Yes, there is some downside in that many hams become dependent on them instead of doing it the old fashioned way: turn the big knob on the radio and listen. Not a big deal given the benefits.

Category 1 is more of an issue for me. The major effect is that it enables worldwide communication a lot easier while using ham radio. This is what causes many hams to say That’s Not Real Ham Radio when the internet is used to do so much of the work. Focusing on the actual radio wave propagation, there is really no comparison between working DX on the 15m band and making the same QSO with a UHF DMR handheld piped through the internet.  At this point, I try not to overthink the issue, dropping back to The Universal Purpose of Amateur Radio is to Have Fun Messing Around with Radios. So if chasing DX on 15m floats your boat, keep on doing it. If the DMR handheld provides enjoyment for you, I’m OK with that, too.

Perhaps more importantly, we can’t really stop the impact of new technology. Oh, I suppose the amateur radio community could petition the FCC to restrict Category 1 use of ham radio. There could be regulations that limit the use of the internet being interconnected with Part 97 radio operation. However, that would have an even bigger negative impact on the hobby by arbitrarily restricting innovation. Imagine if we had to tell technically-minded newbies in the hobby that “well, we have this rule that says you can’t actually use the biggest technology shift in the 21st century” while using ham radio. We do have some rules concerning awards and contests such as you can’t use a VoIP network to quality for DXCC. There will probably be more of that kind of restriction occurring as technology moves forward, which is fine by me.

What’s Next?

When it comes to technological change, its often difficult to predict the future. Some of it is easy: we’ll see higher bandwidths and more wireless coverage on the planet as 5G and other future technologies roll out.  Figuring out how this affects ham radio is a bit more difficult. Right now, there are still remote locations that aren’t on the network but that will change. I expect even remote DXpeditions to eventually have excellent connectivity which could lead to instant check QSLs. (That’s kind of happening already but it could become more of a realtime event.) As systems become smarter (e.g., machine learning, artificial intelligence), distributed systems will become more automated. We can expect more automation of ham radio activity which will certainly be controversial. Did you really work that other station if the software in your home ham station did it while you were away at work?

To wrap up, I don’t think the internet is ruining amateur radio but it is certainly changing it. The key is to keep having fun and enjoying the hobby. If you aren’t having fun, you probably aren’t doing it right.

What do you think?

73, Bob K0NR

The post Is the Internet Destroying Amateur Radio? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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