June 8, 2011Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
The upcoming Kids Day event on June 18th is a great way to have some fun with your kids and introduce them to HF radio. This is just one week before Field Day, too, so why not get them used to the microphone and they'll be ready to try out the GOTA station!
You may have received a newsletter last time in which the too-many photos were badly placed due to problems with browser versions and other formatting issues. To see all of the photos and captions, click on the link at the top of the email that reads "If you are having trouble reading this issue..." or visit arrl.org/contest-update-issues and click on the link for the May 25th issue.
The Luso tower rotator plate pictured is intended to rotate the entire tower and goes at the bottom. Yikes! (Thanks, Tom N4NW) The plaque RA3AUU was shown receiving for the P33W team was a CQ WPX plaque, not the CQ WW. (Thanks, Doug K1DG)
VHF+ contesters will want to congratulate Gene Zimmerman W3ZZ on his years of service as the author of the QST column "The World Above 50 MHz" as Gene announces his retirement from that duty after the July issue. Gene has been writing the column since 2002 and will no doubt put his new spare time to work on the air and figuring out how to help the K8GP Grid Pirates team (call sign corrected) stay competitive in the VHF+ contests. Beginning with the August 2011 issue of QST, Jon Jones NØJK, of Wichita, Kansas, will take over the column. Jon is also a familar figure on the VHF+ contest scene and brings a wealth of practical experience to the job. Well done, Mr Z and welcome, Mr J!
Ed WØYK's Muns Vineyard and Don AA5AU's rttycontesting.com are excited to announce the new 10-Meter RTTY Contest to be held for the first time on Sunday, December 4, 2011. rttycontesting.com will sponsor plaques for the winning Single and Multi-op entrants. If you are interested in sponsoring a plaque, such as continental or USA winner, etc, please contact the sponsors directly. Also, the top ten single operators will receive a bottle of Muns Vineyard fine California wine.
The hard-at-work WRTC 2014 leadership team was very visible at multiple events during the recent Dayton Hamvention. As WRTC 2014 Chairman Doug K1DG, says, "We have much to do in a short time!" Members of the WRTC 2014 organizing committee met with the new WRTC Advisory Council members (Tim K3LR, Craig K9CT, and George NR5M), explored equipment options with ham radio vendors, discussed event plans with interested contesters, and did some fund-raising at the Contest Dinner and announcing the winner of the Poisson D'Avril donation competition. Keep WRTC on your radar as 2014 will be here before we know it!
Scientists have discovered a species of bacteria that live on caffeine, producing carbon dioxide and ammonia. I think I operated with that guy at Field Day one time.
If you were wondering about HF conditions later this week, this story from Space Weather News for June 7th should give you a clue. "This morning around 0641 UT, magnetic fields above sunspot complex 1226-1227 became unstable and erupted. The blast produced an M2-class solar flare, an S1-class radiation storm, and a massive CME. A recording of the blast from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory ranks as one of the most beautiful and dramatic movies of the SDO era. High-latitude sky watchers in both hemispheres should be alert for auroras during the late hours of June 8th or 9th when a CME from today's eruption could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field." Ol' Sol...he's ba-a-a-ck!
The Youth DX Adventure (YDXA) team received a nice surprise at the Dayton Hamvention when the winner of the IC-718 prize donated by Icom America, Frank WB6RMB, asked that the radio be donated in turn to the YDXA for use on their travels. Thank you, Frank! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
The Contest University presentations "Contesting the Right Way" by Doug K1DG (should be required viewing for anyone submitting a contest log) and Rob NCØB's "Contest Radio Performance" have been posted to the Potomac Valley Contest Club website under the Recorded Webinars link. (Thanks, Ken K4ZW)
Thanks to the professors at Youth Contest University (YCTU) led by Scott W3TX, along with Ben AK2X, Sarah, AK2D, Mark N5OT and several others. Yuri, VE3DZ and his friend provided Russian translation assistance for the Skype video conference between YCTU and young YL CW hams in Russia thanks to Paul, NØAH. It was exciting to see such awesome enthusiasm from YCTU.
You'll enjoy this neat detective story by Steve Lubbers KE8FP about troubleshooting a moonbounce station. All contest operators will be able to relate. And the following story about gravity isn't bad either!
Winner of the ARRL's Rookie Roundup in one of last year's contests, Anna WØANT received the Young Ham of the Year Award in the Rocky Mountain Division.
Dave W9ZRX announces that new versions of the VHF Super Check Partial (SCP), and Prefill Databases are now available. The new release is now based on logs from 2009-2011 only and includes DTA and SCP files to support most popular logging programs. The Excel format (XLS/XLSX) has been discontinued but the CSV files can be opened by Excel. The SCP database contains 10079 call signs and the Prefill 9736. Send Dave your Cabrillo-formatted files after the ARRL June VHF QSO Party for an update prior to the CQ WW VHF Contest in July. Dave wishes to thank John N4XI for his software assistance, as well.
The N1MM team is pleased to announce the release of new, reorganized documentation for N1MM Logger. The material has been arranged into three new sections that you will find in the Documents menu of the N1MM website. The authors of this revised documentation would like to acknowledge the huge contribution made by Thomas PA1M who wrote and maintained the original N1MM Logger manual for a decade. (Thanks, Larry K8UT, Pete N4ZR, and Rich VE3KI)
Try this online certificate service if you'd like to print out a spiffy version of your hard-won Amateur Radio license. It's not official, but good enough to show your family certainly! Or to show all those other hams in your Zip Code. (Thanks, John KE7KDQ)
"I just looked under the sofa cushions and there it was..." If you were wondering where all the missing mass in the Universe went, you can rest easy because a 22-year-old Australian student solved the problem over her summer break. I guess it beats the typical summer job! The best line may be at the conclusion of the story.
In the antique technology news, engineers at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, England have succeeded in rebuilding a Tunny Machine. These were used to decode German messages during World War II and were destroyed at the end of the war. The team had to reassemble the documentation from bits and pieces of information and recollections from the original builders, so now you have a perfect excuse for never throwing anything away.
Tom West, the shy computer engineer who became an unlikely symbol of high tech to multitudes of general-interest readers as leader of the engineering team portrayed in Tracy Kidder's book "The Soul of a New Machine," died on May 19 at his home in Westport, Mass. He was 71. (Thanks, Trey N5KO)
Jim KI7Y reports that the Williamette Valley DX Club (WVDXC) lost one of its oldest members recently - Jim W3CP. Jim was active in contests well into his 90s and had a distinguished career at the Naval Research Labs.
Do you have a Kindle and want to read e-books in other formats such as PDF? Mike VE3EQP reports that several freeware programs such as MobiPocket and Calibre, will convert most ebook formats to work well in the Kindle. Many free ebooks are available on the Web, legally, from The Gutenberg Project and others and Amazon also provides many free books to Kindle users. I find having an engineering dictionary on my Kindle to be very helpful, for example.
We live in a sea of jargon with more being generated every day. Luckily, you can keep up with the latest in this online jargon dictionary. For example, you'll be able to make use of the term 'bogosity', I'm sure! (Thanks, Matt WØXEU)
Web Site of the Week - There's an intriguing link on the Kansas Section web site with the title "Amateur Nirvana! 500 Websites! All Ham links! Nothing but Ham Radio." It's a great resource for web information about our hobby. Thanks to Orlan WØOYH and Kent KBØRWI for compiling these ham radio links. (From the Midwest Division newsletter by Midwest Division Director, Cliff KØCA)
WORD TO THE WISE
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, theory and practice are different - Unknown.
The difference between theory and practice in theory is less than the difference between theory and practice in practice - AD3F.
Awesome photos from the Dayton Hamvention have been published by Tom K8CX. More Dayton photos are online from Jorge CX6VM - it was great to meet Jorge with whom we all have many contacts in our logs. (Thanks, Hector XE2K)
The 2011 Hamvention Antenna Forum presentations from K4IQJ, ON4UN, W8VVG and K9LA have been posted online later thanks to hosting from N5KO and help from K5TR. The TopBand Dinner presentations on VP8ORK by VE3EJ and low-cost receiving antennas by K3LR are also available for download. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
The video of Wayne WA6HHQ's presentation of the brand-new Elecraft KX3 can be found on YouTube. (Thanks, Bob N7XY)
Wow! Take a look at the K7XC 6 meter kilowatt rover - just in time for this weekend's ARRL June VHF Contest. (Thanks, Paul NG7Z)
The recent 7th District QSO Party (7QP) covers a lot of territory and so does this video by K6BBQ about his recumbent bicycle operation! (Thanks, Jim K7WA)
Have you listened to Bob Heil's new Ham Nation podcast yet? Bob's first guests were Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, and Dave Jennings, WJ6W. The show is produced in cooperation with Leo Laporte of the TWIT (This Week in Tech) Network.
Spurious emissions aren't always a Bad Thing, no matter what Part 97 says. Why, just look at these guys flailing away at the Hamvention Contest Super Suite! The Spurious Emissions Out of the Band held the crowd in thrall with a "Free to get in, $5 to get out" policy. (Enter "Spurious Emissions Band" into the YouTube search window to find all seven of the videos which were taken by Ken K6LA.)
K8CC from the Mad River Radio Club, K3WW from the Frankford Radio Club and K3LR from North Coast Contesters hosted the pizza party Thursday night. The Potomac Valley Radio Club and Yankee Clipper Contest Club hosted the two weekend pizza parties in the Super Suite. 93 Pizzas and 300 QSL wings were consumed over all 4 nights - lots of smiles!
Preliminary Results for the February 2011 NAQP RTTY are now online. Many new records were set - congratulations! Final published results will be in the July / August 2011 Issue of the National Contest Journal. See you again in NAQP RTTY on July 16th. (Thanks, NAQP RTTY Manager, Mark K6UFO)
If you have questions about submitting logs or the CQ WPX CW contest, you may be able to save some frustration by using the new log submission web page. It will check your log format and explain any errors that are found. Once you have fixed any errors you can have it submit the log direct to the robot. (Thanks, CQ WPX Director, Randy K5ZD)
Stan EI6DX's contest analyzer has just finished parsing Russian DX Contest (RDXC) logs and results are now available. Clearly RDXC is gaining a lot of popularity and it is now one of the top three world-wide contests. For example, combined CW and SSB rates of RDXC are higher than those of CQWPX CW for same hours in 2010. For more, check out the online information.
Summertime propagation can be quite different than in the winter and as the northern hemisphere enters the summer months, the southern hemisphere contesters are entering winter. Don't forget to listen for them in ways you hope they listen for you in our winter!
A great article on fitting PL-259 connectors to ½" hardline using brass compression fittings includes photos by Henry K4YCR in the June 2011 issue of the Potomac Valley Radio Club's PVRC Newsletter.
Weatherizing a battery for portable operation is covered in this online article by Peter W1PNS. There's more to it than meets the eye.
For re-sealing a fiberglass tube such as for a collinear or whip, conversations from the ham-antennas reflector point to a coating of clear polyurethane varnish rated for exterior use. It's available from your local hardware or paint store in both spray and brush-on form.
Need a table of aluminum tubing sizes? The RF Café has lots of resources just like that.
Soldering to steel, or nickel or stainless steel is not that difficult if you use the right materials as shown in this video by Sigi DG9BFC.
Scott N7SS recommends Maguire's Mirror Glaze Plastic Polish #10 for getting rid of scratches and scuffs in plastic bezels and displays.
Chuck K7QO has a great web page tutorial on making project enclosures from PCB material. Just right for gadgets and adaptors and those little bitty things our stations seem so full of. (Thanks, Allen VE3GAM)
Plastic rivets - who knew? (Thanks, George K4GVT)
What's killing your WiFi signal? PC Pro dispels the notion that other WiFi signals are drowning yours out in favor of the same type of RF interference generators that plague hams - wireless video cameras, fish tank heaters, and all manner of other noise emitters. The story also lists some software tools you can use to track and diagnose problems.
Will graphene modulators count for digital modes? At these bit rates, the whole CQ WW RTTY contest would be over in about 500 msec!
If you need to fill in gaps in concrete, the usual material is called grout. Outdoors, such as for tower bases, you'll need non-shrinking grout. Hard to find at general hardware stores (don't use the type intended for bathrooms) you might have better luck at a masonry supply house. (Thanks, Steve K7LXC)
Jim K9YC has published a new set of slides from his presentations on how to deal with RFI. There's lots of information here as well as his tutorials on ferrites.
Designers of audio and RF switching gear for the ham shack should browse Analog Devices' "Ask The Applications Engineer" series of helpful notes, particularly "Switch and Multiplexer Design Considerations for Hostile Environments" and "Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Filtering Reduces Errors in Precision Analog Applications." The ham shack is an environment with plenty of static discharges and lightning pops along with the usual kilowatt-level voltages and currents. A few pennies worth of simple components can save hours of frustrating misbehavior.
While web-crawling in search of information on loopstick antennas, this little bon mot caught my eye - "In a triode, no one can hear you screen."
Technical Web Site of the Week - Roger W3SZ is a mighty busy guy and has developed some very advanced DSP hardware and software for the SDR station. (From the May 2011 "Cheese Bits" newsletter of the Mt Airy VHF Radio Club "Packrats")
This issue's editorial comes from ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager, Allen Pitts W1AGP. Allen deals with a flood of news on ham radio every day and does his best to make sure the right information gets to the right people. Allen also recognizes that beyond the after-the-fact stories, there are whole audiences out there we need to make aware of ham radio. He's working on a new video project at HQ and I thought the readership would like to know about it. Plus, it might inspire us to do a little outreach of our own. Field Day is coming up and there's no better opportunity! 73, Ward NØAX
When One Wild Idea Breeds Another
There's no doubt that the emergency communication aspect of Amateur Radio is a primary draw when the general population discusses ham activities. That's the one that gets us into the newspapers and on TV and, for better or for worse, brief sound bites and video clips are how most of the population seems to learn about their world these days.
But there is another species of sentient human out there, and it is one that we need to address. These are the people who shun the role of being just another "consumer" (a "sheeple") and want to open the box, tinker with the wiring and see what else they can make of a product. They are the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) crowd, the ones that attend Maker Faires, the people that write the apps, not just download them, and have an unquenchable creative sparkle that often causes (literally) sparks. In another era they would be shunned as "nerds," but in today's world the term is "geek" and being a geek is "cool." Muscles and hair alone are not enough anymore. In more and more movies and on TV, it is the geek who McGyver's the solution that saves the day - and the geek is often female!
For the most part they are young(er), bright, literate and genuinely excited in trying something new just for the fun of it. Launch a balloon-camera into near space? Sure! See the kids at K2GXT. Create an electric dress that lights with different colors depending on your mood? Just ask KC2UHB! Want to play with light and see how far one LED of a particular frequency can send a message? K4THZ is your club! There's a whole list of them at WeDoThat-Radio and this just scratches the surface.
Most already know about Amateur Radio but they are not your "usual" hams. Just as they will take the latest Gee-Whiz electronic box from Best Buy, open it and see what else they can do with it, they do the same with radio. They may not have any interest at all in contesting or in making the DXCC, but they glow with thoughts and dreams of what could be, might be, and how they can use the electromagnetic spectrum to make it happen. And because the Amateur Radio bands are the last frontier where an individual still can try things on their own, even if it fizzles, they are drawn to the Service.
So how do we reach out to them? First and foremost we need to accept and claim them as "hams." Maybe they don't have tribanders on their houses but they're hams in the best sense of the word. Secondly, we need to speak to them in their own way - and that language is by inspiration as one idea seeds another and then another. To do this, the ARRL is creating a special video that will be coming out in the fall of 2011. This successor to "Amateur Radio Today" with Walter Cronkite speaks in a new way to an entirely new audience, the 16 to 26-ish year-old "geek." Along with a supporting group of short (YouTube-size) auxiliary videos, the main video will present several unusual and curious projects that the DIY-hams are doing. No, it's not your grandfather's radio - it's creative radio for creative minds. It's people experimenting in basements and garages just to see if they can make "it." But isn't that where Amateur Radio started?
There will be much more about this in the fall. Stay tuned!
8 June through 21 June
An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral in PDF format is available. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.
Kid's Day-- Phone, from Jun 18, 1800Z to Jun 18, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Name, age, location, favorite color. Rules
CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test-- CW, from Jun 8, 1300Z - see Web site. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods, twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed, 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules
Portugual Day-- Phone, CW, from Jun 11, 0000Z to Jun 11, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial or district code. Logs due: Sep 1. Rules
WFF Green Days-- Phone, CW, Digital, from Jun 11, 0000Z to Jun 12, 2359Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and WFF number if available. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
World Wide QRP Contest-- Phone, CW, from Jun 11, 0000Z to Jun 19, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-432. Exchange: RS(T). Logs due: Jul 11. Rules
DRCG Long Distance Contest-- Digital, from Jun 11, 0000Z -- see Web site. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RST, CQ Zone, and UTC time. Logs due: Aug 1. Rules
Australian Shires Contest-- Phone, CW, from Jun 11, 0600Z to Jun 12, 0600Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and VK Shire or CQ Zone. Logs due: Sep 1. Rules
Asia-Pacific Sprint-- Phone, from Jun 11, 1100Z to Jun 11, 1300Z . Bands (MHz): 14-21. Exchange: RST, serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules
GACW WWSA CW DX Contest-- CW, from Jun 11, 1500Z to Jun 12, 1500Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, CQ zone. Logs due: Jul 30. Rules
NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint-- CW, from Jun 15, 0030Z to Jun 15, 0230Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday (alternating). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules
SARL Youth Day Sprint-- Phone, from Jun 16, 0800Z to Jun 16, 1000Z . Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: RS and age. Logs due: 7 days. Rules
All-Asian DX Contest-- CW, from Jun 18, 0000Z to Jun 19, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, operator age (YL may send 00). Logs due: Jul 31. Rules
West Virginia QSO Party-- Phone, CW, Digital, from Jun 18, 1600Z to Jun 19, 0200Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW--35 kHz from band edge, Phone--35 kHz from General/Nov/Tech segments. Exchange: RS(T), WV county or S/P/C. Logs due: Jul 20. Rules
Feld-Hell 10 Meter Sprint-- Digital, from Jun 18, 2000Z to Jun 18, 2200Z . Bands (MHz): 28. Frequencies: Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, QTH, Feld-Hell number. Logs due: 7 days. Rules
ARRL June VHF QSO Party-- Phone, CW, Digital, from Jun 11, 1800Z to Jun 13, 0300Z . Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Jul 14. Rules
World Wide QRP Contest-- Phone, CW, from Jun 11, 0000Z to Jun 19, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-432. Exchange: RS(T). Logs due: Jul 11. Rules
REF DDFM Six Meter Contest-- Phone, CW, from Jun 11, 1600Z to Jun 12, 1600Z . Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: RST, serial number, grid square. Logs due: 15 days. Rules
SMIRK QSO Party-- Phone, CW, from Jun 18, 0000Z to Jun 19, 2359Z . Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: Grid square and member number. Logs due: Aug 1. Rules
WAB 50 MHz Phone-- Phone, from Jun 19, 0900Z to Jun 19, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: RS, serial, WAB square or DXCC entity. Logs due: 21 days. Rules
LOG DUE DATES
8 June through 21 June
June 9 - ARS Spartan Sprint
June 10 - His Maj. King of Spain Contest, CW
June 11 - Wake-Up! QRP Sprint
June 12 - ARCI Hootowl Sprint
June 12 - DigiFest
June 13 - FISTS Spring Sprint
June 13 - RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data
June 15 - Indiana QSO Party
June 15 - Nevada Mustang Roundup
June 15 - Aegean RTTY Contest
June 16 - QRP Minimal Art Session
June 16 - CQ-M International DX Contest
June 19 - UT5EU VHF Memorial Contest
June 20 - 10-10 Int. Open Season PSK Contest
June 21 - RSGB National Field Day
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