HAM radio

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by Tarheelpilot, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    As noted before, there is a mix. Back when I was more serious as an SWL (late 1960s) I had QSL cards from a number of international broadcasters. Mostly government propaganda outlets. I had a special QSL card from Radio Nederland. Their main studios were in Hilversum, Holland, but I caught their new relay station in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles in its first 10 days of operation. Pure luck on my part. Radio Moscow, Radio Havana, Radio China were all easy. So was Radio RSA (Johannesburg, South Africa). Heck, I remember tuning into it from the Bay Area with a current probe around a power cable when performing a TEMPEST test on a communications hut while working for the Navy. Probably the 31 meter broadcast band, IIRC.

    Ham radio still is great. You never know who might be on the other end.

    Problems with neighbors oftentimes are only in their heads. The conventional wisdom is to put up your tower (I wish) and antenna, solve all the interference complaints, then hook up a radio and get on the air. A friend in California several decades ago had one better. He put up his tower and a neighbor came over to complain of interference. My friend pointed out that he hadn't even installed an antenna. The neighbor went home, rather red in the face, and never said another word. I had a neighbor ask if my ham rig might be causing the pair of lines of interference on his TV (this was back in the analog TV days). I pointed out that I had the same problem, and that it was time for us to call PG&E and have them clean the insulators on the medium voltage distribution lines down our back fences. No problems after that.

    WWV and WWVH are very useful time and frequency standard stations. WWVB runs at 60 kHz and is the station that your automatic setting watches and clocks use.

    The 31 meter international broadcast band (around 9.5 MHz) was also a hotbed for me "back in the day". Give it a try, as well.
     
  2. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Howdy! K4IVE here. I have been working and experimenting with digital radio formats quite a lot in the last six or so years. There are many digital modes suited for HF and VHF/UHF repeater use. It is a global community and finding an Elmer in your area should not be difficult! I have had excellent success using the fldigi suite of digital modem software: http://www.w1hkj.com/ https://sourceforge.net/projects/fldigi/files/
    You should be able to find a decent HF rig for $600 to $700 and a good FM rig for half that. Antennas are super cheap and adjustable if you make them yourself. There are several online forums available to keep you confused and entertained, sort of like this one! 73!
     
  3. Plano Pilot

    Plano Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I need to pull the plug and get my HAM. Back in the code days we went to school but had to leave 2 days before the exam. My boat has a working SGC-2000, remote head SSB/HAM. Two months ago someone gave me another SGC without the remote head but it will not transmit. Back in the late 90's when we were cruising the joke was SGC stands for "sucks giant #$%^". We bought ours at the end of the time period of the 5 year warrantee. Had to send it back to SGC every year for the first 3 years. After the last fix it has been working fine, fingers crossed.
     
  4. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    FYI, it's "ham," not "HAM." It's not an acronym. See definition 3b.
     
  5. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Funny story about that....

    Years ago, before smart phones and GPS in cars, we used to run SCCA road rallies. These were "Time/Speed/Distance" rallies. Not fast driving, not off-road, the goal was to complete the course (given typically very cryptic instructions) while hitting numerous checkpoints with the EXACT elapsed time and distance traveled as compared to the course organizer. Pretty geeky stuff. Anyway, one of the important aspects was making sure your clock or watch was set the same as the "official" time. Setting watches and clocks to WWV just before the rally start was common. Well, one day a helpful competitor had his portable radio/tape player sitting on top of his car as he was preparing to run. You could clearly hear WWV, and several people set their watches to it.

    Too bad he was actually playing a cassette tape of WWV from a different day, a few minutes off...
     
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  6. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I always check my watch by the big clock in front of the Naval Observatory while driving up Massachusetts Ave in DC.
     
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    2011_Lenexa 080.jpg
    Here's my official keeper of the time.
     
  8. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Line Up and Wait

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    The history of the term is interesting, and there's a brief note about it on the ARRL website. Basically, it started out as a derogatory term professional wireless telegraphers used to describe amateur operators who were interfering with their commercial operations (spark gap transmitters used a lot of bandwidth).

    http://www.arrl.org/ham-radio-history

    Scroll down to
    Historical Terms
    -What is a Ham?
     
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  9. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Since you're still here, I guess they didn't hang you or boil you in oil. I would have at least stolen all your lug nuts.
     
  10. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Wasn't me. I was never that devious. I was the guy who spent a couple of weeks getting all the club rally clocks in sync. Set to WWV... wait a day... tweak the trimmer cap... repeat.
     
  11. Doug Reid

    Doug Reid Pre-Flight

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    Been a ham about 50 years now. Still operate a Heathkit SB303 and SB401, HW7 and HW8,vibroplex key ....mostly cw. Have toyed with running aeronautical mobile in my C195, using the ADF wire antenna. I am not sure how well I can send cw while flying .. even more difficult would be logging contacts....maybe I better forget this !
     
  12. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have a HW-101 the all the cool mods. It has a dual VFO DDS digital oscillator. I have several of them in original condition to rebuild or use for parts... I have a Jones for the green paint, I guess...
     
  13. KRyan

    KRyan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Years ago, I went to a Hamfest where a guy was selling a military straight key that had a spring clip on the base that would fit over your knee/lower thigh. I was told it was specifically so pilots could send code while flying. There's one for sale on Ebay right now.
     
  14. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The guy who flew his Mooney around the world while in constant contact on his HF radio had a paddle mounted on his yoke. I have plans to run a 20 meter wire antenna between the tail and wingtips of my C-140.
     
  15. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I've seen a setup a guy built to send CW while riding his motorcycle. Little iambic paddle built onto one of the grips, using two microswitches and a 35mm film container (remember those?) I applaud his efforts... and have absolutely no desire whatsoever to operate CW while driving, riding, or flying. I won't even run APRS, never did see the point to it.
     
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  16. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-Flight

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    Un-attributable...I previously owned a C-172 and ran a dipole from the vertical fin to each wingtip AS AN EXPERIMENT (!). The antenna was fed via a simple tuner and my IC-720A (100 watts input). Worked well and propagation as a function of height above ground was certainly interesting!! ONLY AN EXPERIMENT...OF COURSE!! ;)
     
  17. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yep. That is the way i want to do it. It will be a balanced antenna with the feedpoint/balun in the center. The length of the wires works out to be a perfect 1/4 wave 20 meter element. I have an ICOM IC-706MK2G picked out for the radio.
     
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  18. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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  19. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Although I'm not that good, my brother (WQ8B) would be capable of doing something like this...he copies code in his head at unbelievable speeds. Although I've used CW for years, I'm probably a 12wpm guy at best...maybe once 15wpm at my peak. He copies at 50 wpm in his head. He said its weird when you do it, as you actually hear words like someone is just talking to you. I'd love to be that fast.
     
  20. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    I've considered this...but lately I've been goofing around with my FT-817 in the plane, using just 2 meter and 440...I've had some great contacts while flying.
    If you experiment with a "line of sight" calculator, you'll see that you don't need to be super-high to gain a bunch of range VHF...in fact, there's a point of diminishing returns: its not like you get 100 miles at 5000 feet, and 200 miles at 10,000 feet...its not linear.
    A couple of day ago I flew a short cross county at 6500 feet. With just 2 1/2 watts out, and my antenna horizontal plugged into the front of the FT-817 sitting on top of the dash, I talked to a guy 2 meter simplex FM for quite awhile 65 miles away.
    I recently bought a spare vent window for my PA28. I drilled a hole in the spare window, and in the hole I mounted a bnc/bnc pass-through to the window. Now I can actually put a VHF/UHF antenna outside the plane, by simply switching vent windows (which on my PA28 the vent window is easily removed/replaced at the hinge by pulling the hinge pin). Certainly beats trying to stick the antenna out the window!
     
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  21. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I was never super fast, but back when I was working a LOT of CW on HF I got to the point where I could copy pretty well at around 18-ish. One evening I was in the middle of a QSO and one of the kids came into the shack (OK, the cluttered, ratty back corner of the back corner of the basement where I had my gear crammed into an old second-hand particle board desk) and asked for some help with homework or something. After a few minutes I realized I was carrying on a conversation with the kid while copying CW in my head. That was pretty cool.

    I haven't operated CW in years, though I've spent countless hours talking in Morse code while developing keyer firmware. I routinely use Morse for output from various PIC microcontroller projects, since it doesn't require a computer or display. If I could get an effective antenna up at my house I might be active again, but I just don't see that ever happening.
     
  22. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Back around 1980, the ARRL put an introduction to computer article in QST that was a software-implemented clock that beeped once for one o'clock, twice for two, etc... We suggested there was probably some other encoding that might be more meaningful for hams. I've implemented morse diagnostics in things a few times that only had a light to blink.

    One of the instructors who was giving me a stage check early on dinged me for not checking the VOR against the chart. I told him I had ID'd it as CYS or whatever it was. He said how could I do that without looking at the dots and dashes on the chart. I told him I has a ham. He tuned in several other stations before he'd believe me that I could ID the stations without having to resort to looking at the morse code on the chart.

    Years later I was flying in the back seat of a 172 while my wife was taking a lesson. The instructor is having her track the EMI VOR but something isn't working. They're both casting about trying to figure it out when I pipe up from the the back that the thing is sending TEST rather than EMI. The sad part is my wife is an Advanced Class ham herself.
     
  23. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I had a similar experience.
    And did you have the urge to respond with, "599 TU"? :D
     
  24. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After having been inactive as a ham for many years, becoming a pilot gave me the incentive to re-learn Morse, which I had mostly forgotten.
     
  25. KRyan

    KRyan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Is he by any chance a musician? My father-in-law was supposed to become a radio operator when he got drafted in WW2, but he couldn't learn the code. He said he found out later that Army found out that people with musical abilities learned code a lot faster, and were the better operators. My FIL couldn't even sing in the shower!
     
  26. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Actually yes! He is a pianist and was the lead singer for Jeff and the Atlantics for many years....but then I am too, so what does that say about me? lol
     
  27. KRyan

    KRyan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You can do 12 wpm, more than a lot of people can do (including me).
     
  28. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I got my ham ticket after the morse requirement was dropped so never learned. Which is probably why I never realized, until your post, that the code for the VOR was actually the station ID.. duh! I'm guessing I'm not the only one who had/has no idea..
     
  29. IK04

    IK04 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For me, I can "see" the words scrolling like a ticker tape right above my head.
     
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  30. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I did 20WPM to get my Extra back in 1989 or so. I was the VEC liaison for the first hamfest that came after no-code tech (we had 100 people show up for the exam that session). Frankly, I always thought the Morse Code was a silly requirement. I had been a ham since 1974 and spent the next 20 years or so as a Technician Class not budging off 5WPM until a friend shamed me into upgrading. Took me a month of solid work to get 13, and three more months to get 20.

    But on the other hand I now have a commercial radiotelegraph certificate to go with my GROL.
     
  31. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    I agree it is a silly requirement, but I still think of it as quite useful...although these days, I only use it when I want to make QSOs when QRP...it really shines for that.
     
  32. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought the FCC issued licenses, not certificates. ;)
     
  33. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I never had that problem with my original CFI, but he and I both were Extra class hams (and knew each other through the local ham club before I started lessons).

    Now, did being a ham help me learn to talk on the aircraft radio? I think the folks in the tower at KOLM are still laughing about my first attempt, and that was over 18 years ago. Different lingo.

    Oh, and I'm one of those 13 wpm Extras. I passed the 13 wpm test back in 1992 when I upgraded from Technician to Advanced. Passed the Extra written, as well, but 20 wpm was not going to happen. And I never pushed the issue as the pain of getting to 20 wpm was not worth the extra 75 kHz of SSB spectrum I would have gained. When the FCC announced dropping the code speed for all license classes to 5 wpm and reducing the number of license classes to three I went to a test session, took and passed the Extra written, then waited for the rules change to take effect. Walked in the CSC for the Extra written, paid the test fee and walked out with my Extra. Glad I did it then, when the code requirement went away and the Advanced class went away for new issuances the Advanced and Extra test question pools were combined. The Advanced written was the most difficult of the old written exams. The old Extra was easy if you had been in the hobby for any period of time and had paid attention. Now the written for Extra is a more difficult written, as it should be. Oh, and I've been an ARRL VE for years.

    This reminds me, I need to look at the proposed articles for QST and QEX and review and comment on a few. I'm an ARRL TA and this is one of our jobs.