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Surfin’: Listening Anew

01/13/2012

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ describes how to become a PopComm monitoring station and obtain another call sign to boot.

I just got a new call sign: WPC1LOU. It joins WPE1GYX and WA1LOU in my call sign collection.

During the holidays, I began chasing long and medium wave DX using my Kenwood TS-440S transceiver and an inverted V antenna cut for 40 meters. Also, I am building an indoor loop antenna, which I hope to complete this weekend.

I am having a lot of fun doing something different, and to expand on my fun, I considered subscribing to Popular Communications again after a long absence from their subscription rolls.

My timing was perfect. Checking online, I discovered that PopComm now offered digital subscriptions. Not only would I be saving a tree that could be better used for hanging a dipole, I would not have to wait for my subscription to be processed, and then wait for the mailman to deliver a printed copy.

Subscribe online and instant gratification awaited me: I could immediately download and read my first issue. And even better, digital subscriptions were on sale: $9 off the retail price (which is also $9 cheaper than a print subscription).

I subscribed, downloaded and began poring over the December issue as I sat on 198 kHz trying to squeeze the BBC out of thin air.

A few days later, my computer informed me that the January issue of PopComm was available for downloading, so I fetched it and began reading it, too. That is when I found out how I could get another call sign!

PopComm is kicking off the PopComm Monitoring Station Program (PCMS) in a “bid to revitalize a shortwave listening community that was excited and vibrant 50 years ago, while creating a platform for exploration of the far reached of today’s communications technology,” so wrote Richard Fisher, KPC6PC/KI6SN in the January issue of the magazine.

Like Popular Electronics magazine’s WPE shortwave monitoring program -- from whence I obtained WPE1GYX back in the late 1960s -- PCMS also issues call signs, but unlike Popular Electronics, PCMS permits you to choose your own call sign (assuming the one you want is not taken already).

You could request three call signs; the first that was available would be yours. I requested WPC1LOU, KPC1LOU and WPC1GYX; the first two in honor of my ham call sign and the third in honor of my WPE call sign.

Since PCMS was brand new, I figured I had a good shot at getting my first choice (WPC1LOU) and I was correct. Hurrah!

PCMS has a blog, PopComm Monitors on the Web, which serves as the online home of the program. Currently, it describes step-by-step how to join the program, pick a call sign, and after obtaining said call sign, how to print out a nifty certificate (like the one below) to hang in your shack above your favorite RF listening device.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, enjoys the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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