Archive for July, 2009

2009 ARRL UHF Contest this weekend

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags on July 30, 2009 by WA4ZKO

The ARRL UHF Contest is this weekend. Contest starts on Saturday August 1st at 1800 UTC, ends Sunday August 2nd at 1800 UTC. More info/rules here:

http://www.arrl. org/contests/rules/2009/uhf.html

Hepburn troop forecast, while likely to change, looks like we could have some band enhancement over the weekend: tropo.html

Wx permitting, I expect to be on the air from EM78pp Saturday evening and maybe early Sunday morning.

73 & GL


Walter Cronkite dies, KB2GSD SK

Posted in Ham Radio, Radio Broadcasting with tags , , , on July 17, 2009 by WA4ZKO

The legendary Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD has passed away at age 92 in New York.

CBS News article on his passing and history can be found here.

For the non-hams, SK means Silent Key. It’s a ham radio thing.

The ARRL has a nice story on his career & ham radio involvement here.

Even though he was considered pretty liberal in private, he possessed the ability to keep that out of his reporting. Something far too many of today’s newscasters could use a lesson in.

The 2009 CQ WW VHF Contest this weekend.

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , , , , on July 15, 2009 by WA4ZKO


The 2009 CQ WW VHF Contest is this weekend. Contest starts 1800 UTC Saturday, July 18th. Ends 2100 UTC Sunday, July 19th. Full details/rules can be found here:

This has always been one of my favorite contests. Chances for 6m openings are high and tropo/inversions can make 2m interesting. Since it’s a 6m/2m only contest, it somewhat levels the playing field for the ‘small gun’ stations compared to the bigger contests.

I should be on the air from EM78pp for portions of it.

While it’s still too early to predict, the Hepburn Tropo forecast looks hopeful, but it might stay to our south:

Looks like the Cincinnati area weather will be very nice too! That’s if the forecast holds, grin. Good contest for operating portable or roving!

While VHF/UHF weak signal activity has been moderate this year, June and thus far July has been full of very nice openings on 6m and even a little 2m eskip for some! Many double hop openings to the west coast and Europe. Some just to the north (EM89) have worked JA’s (Japan) on multi-multi-hop eskip (sure ‘taint F2 skip!).

While looking over the various June logs I can see the QSO counts haven’t been as high as usual, but there’s a lot of interesting contacts and some pretty nice DX in there. So I guess you could say that it’s been quality over quantity this year. Definitely been a good year for 6m operating if you had the patience for it! I know I’ve had a blast with what little and sporadic operating time I’ve had thus far.

TAPR annouces availability of Trimble Thunderbolt GPSDO kits.

Posted in Ham Radio, Radio Communications with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by WA4ZKO

UPDATE:  Looks like these are no longer available from TAPR.

TAPR is announcing the availability of Trimble Thunderbolt GPS Disciplined Oscillator (GPSDO ) kits for $130 here. It looks like they are working with the folks on this deal.

So with a little effort you can have yourself a super accurate 10 MHz  and 1 PPS reference source. The product data sheet (PDF) here will give you a peak into the capabilities of these neat units.

I have one and it’s a jewel of a device and a very handy addition to your test bench. I didn’t get mine through TAPR and had to come up with my own power connector f or it…so the TAPR kits will save you some time.

Note:  You’ll need a +12 VDC, -12 VDC, and +5 VDC power supply for these units. A small PC power supply is probably the easiest approach, but not so portable. You will also need an appropriate GPS antenna.

Your local ham radio infrastructure, use it or loose it.

Posted in Ham Radio, Packet Radio with tags , , , on July 12, 2009 by WA4ZKO


Every ham radio operator reading this should pay attention. If you don’t start actively using your local ham radio infrastructure, some or all of it will likely disappear over the next few years. The trend has already started.

John Loze, one of my mentors, used to say something like “the hobby is just a reflection of our society, so we can’t be that surprised by what we are seeing.” Oh John, you had no idea how true that was then and now!

There seems to be a sense of selfish ‘entitlement’ among far too many in our ranks. Sometimes this is intended, but often it’s just folks never really thinking about it. Many seem to think repeaters, digipeaters, nodes, gateways, and other local ham radio infrastructure should be there year after year regardless of activity, support, and so forth.

A lot of our RF infrastructure is installed and maintained by private individuals or small groups with limited resources of time, equipment, and money.  Time is a resource that is increasingly scarce even if money is available for now. Putting stuff on the air is easy, keeping it on the air is often the bigger battle as the years go by.

Regardless of your political leanings, our country seems to be hell bent on a policy of chasing clean energy mandates with a plan that will make existing key energy sources scarce and/or more expensive than they have to be. I find it insane that we can’t pursue an energy policy that results in increasing usage of clean and/or renewable energy over time without forcing existing sources to become scarce and/or increasingly expensive. If it’s a truly better solution, then it will sell itself.  If we really want economic growth, then we MUST have cheap and plentiful energy supplies…PERIOD. Energy drives everything!

So you can bet that a lot of ham radio infrastructure owners/sysops are going to be seeing their energy costs continue to climb and likely skyrocket in the near future. For example, in increased electricity costs. I should NOT have to explain what this will mean for the future of unused or hardly used ham radio infrastructure. You best think about it.

Sysops don’t mind maintaining stuff that sees frequent usage. But few are going to tolerate an ever increasing hit on their budgets to keep stuff on the air that isn’t being used much or at all. In short…USE IT OR LOOSE IT!

NASA – “Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?”

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio, Radio Communications with tags , , on July 1, 2009 by WA4ZKO

NASA’s theory on the very slow return of sun spots for this solar cycle:

Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?”