06/20/13

Field Day 2013

ARRL Field Day 2013 is right around the corner. Seriously it’s Saturday! My first Field Day I took part in it with the local ham club and ARES group. It was a combined effort between all of us. I was a member of both. It was quite a bit of work getting setup and there was agreements but it was so so so much fun! At the time I was a new ham, for the most part, and I had a freakin’ ball. Between those two groups there a lot of Elmer’s to me.

This year I am in a new city and I have not hooked up with any ham groups yet. I have I guess joined ARES but they meet quarterly and that’s just not enough to keep my interest.

So I’m on my own, which is ok! For the most part. I am engineering all my own solutions. I have gone through several ideas and what I am down to is. 20 meter dipole in a tree. I would like to say I have more than that but I don’t. Not this year. Hundreds of feet of field line to feed multiple antennas is expensive and frankly I don’t have as much room as I thought. I have a bunch of trees that run along the apartment building and that’s it. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to get a 20 meter dipole just as high as I can. If i feel adventurous I’ll through up a 40 meter dipole but I doubt it. If I’m really in need I’ll cut a 80 meter dipole but I really really doubt it.

But that’s my plan. hanging a dipole. No generator or alternative power. Not this year, maybe next. I’d like to get into solar. We’ll see.

73 from K4EQM

06/3/13

A really cool setup…

This is a picture I came across on Pinterest. It is of a beastly tech-ed out setup. There is a Motorola Mobile Computer framed with a GPS, scanner, vehicle lighting control, radio transceivers and a few radio accessories. All mounted on a niece center console. Based on the dial cluster looks like in a Ford SUV. This is what I imagine as a perfect setup. I just love this system.

I have a Kenwood Dual band radio, a Yaesu HF 50mhz – 160m and a Motorola Mobile Computer. I just need a nice center console.

05/21/13

A really cool setup…

This is a picture I came across on Pinterest. It is of a beastly tech-ed out setup. There is a Motorola Mobile Computer framed with a GPS, scanner, vehicle lighting control, radio transceivers and a few radio accessories. All mounted on a niece center console. Based on the dial cluster looks like in a Ford SUV. This is what I imagine as a perfect setup. I just love this system.

I have a Kenwood Dual band radio, a Yaesu HF 50mhz – 160m and a Motorola Mobile Computer. I just need a nice center console.

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05/15/13

Repost: blog.g4ilo.com/ – What weather station?

Link to Original Post

A few days ago my Fox Delta WX1 Micro Weather Station stopped working. As it turned out, I just had to switch off the power and switch it on and it started working again . But while I was waiting for the rain to stop so I could go out and look at the device I began thinking about getting a better weather station – one that measures wind speed and direction and rainfall as well as temperature, humidity and pressure.

When you start to look at weather stations the choice is overwhelming. My first priority was that it should work with APRSISCE and generate the file wxnow.txt that it uses to update weather objects. That requirement led to the stipulation that it should be compatible with the free weather software Cumulus, which creates the required file. There is a list of weather stations that work with this software, which narrowed the choice down a little. After reading many reviews the best choice seemed to be the Davis Vantage Vue. Unfortunately this cost about four times more than I was willing to pay, so it was back to the drawing board.

The weather stations made by the Chinese firm Fine Offset and sold under the Watson brand name seemed to meet my criteria at a more reasonable price. However, browsing through the reviews on Eham.net and elsewhere there were quite a high proportion of dissatisfied users. Complaints about anemometers that stopped rotating, poor wireless reception and so on. With weather stations as with everything else, it seems, you get what you pay for.

Despite the reviews I am tempted to get one of the Watson W6861 solar weather stations. But before I did I thought I would take the opportunity to ask my readers for their experiences. Many of you must have home weather stations. So which ones are good, which are bad and which should be avoided at all costs? I await your comments with interest.

05/13/13

Repost: kb6nu.com – Tip of the Day: Add elements to make a single-band dipole a multi-band antenna

Link to Original Post

You can make a make a simple dipole antenna into a multi-band antenna by adding an additional set of elements for the band you want to operate. A couple of years ago, I added 30m elements to my 40m dipole and now it works on both 40m and 30m. The reason this works is that when operating 40m, the 30m elements present a relatively high impedance, while the 40m elements a relatively low impedance. RF current, like any kind of electrical current will take the path of least resistance.

As shown below, the 30m elements hang down below the 40m elements. If you space the elements close to one another, you may have to tweak the lengths of the elements for the best SWR. In my case, that wasn’t a problem.

fan-dipole

If two bands is good, why not four or five? Yes, you can do that. You can add as many bands as you have space and wire for.

05/6/13

Why you should upgrade to General Class – by kb6nu.com

Re-posted from kb6nu.com

Why you should upgrade to General Class

While getting a Tech license is no small feat, one of the first things you should do as a Technician is to start studying for the General Class license. Oh, I can hear the complaints and excuses already. “I’m never going to get on HF, so why should I get my General?” “I only care about emcomm and public-service communications, so why should I bother?” “I just don’t have the time right now to study for the General Class exam.”

Well, if you ask me, all of that is just hooey. If you don’t upgrade to General (and steadfastly refuse to learn code), then it’s a certainty that you’ll never operate on the HF bands. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why deny yourself that capability before you even try it?

Similarly, saying that all you intend to do with your ham radio license is to participate with your local CERT or SkyWarn group is fine and dandy, but public-service and emergency communications do take place on HF as well as on VHF/UHF. Why limit your usefulness as an emergency communicator by not having HF privileges?

And, if you don’t have time now, when will you have time? It’s a matter of priorities, and while the material on the General Class exam is more difficult than the material on the Tech exam, it shouldn’t take you all that much more time to study for the General Class test than it did for the Technician Class test. Not only that, waiting is only going to make it that much harder to start studying again when you do decide to do it.

Resources

One excuse that you can’t make is that there aren’t any resource available. There are more than you could ever use. My favorite, of course, is The No-Nonsense General Class License Study Guide. It’s my favorite because I wrote it! A PDF version is available for free from my website. E-book versions are available for $7.99 from Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Another resource is the ARRL General Class License Manual. When you buy this book, you also get practice exam software. This Windows software allows you to take randomly-generated practice exams using questions from the actual examination question pool.

Also popular is the General Class Manual by Gordon West, WB6NOA. “Gordo,” as he is known in the ham world, has been around a long time and does a great job explaining the answers and highlighting keywords. This study is also available as anaudio book.

There are many more resources out there. To find them, simply Google “amateur radio general class license study guide.”

There really is no excuse not to upgrade. Once you do, you’ll be more knowledgeable about our great hobby, be a more effective communicator, and have a lot more fun with amateur radio.

04/16/13

Repost: WHY CAN’T PUBLIC SAFETY JUST USE CELL PHONES AND SMART PHONES?

VIA N5FDL AMATEUR RADIO

From: National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (npstc.org) via Chris Quirk W6CJQ

Why can’t public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents.

Public safety officials cannot depend upon commercial systems that can be overloaded and unavailable.   Experience has shown such systems are often the most unreliable during critical incidents when public demand overwhelms the systems.

Public safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements. Optimal public safety radio communications require:

 

  • Dedicated channels and priority access that is available at all times to handle unexpected emergencies.
  • Mission-critical one-to-many group capability, a feature not available in today’s commercial cellular systems.
  • Highly reliable, secure, and redundant networks under local control that are engineered and maintained to withstand natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • The best possible coverage within a jurisdictional area, with a minimum of dead zones – even in areas where commercial cellular services are not economically viable.
  • And, unique, ruggedized equipment designed for quick response in emergency situations. First responders must not be forced to dial, wait for call connections, or get busy signals when seconds mean the difference between life and death!

 

Why can’t public safety just use the planned nationwide publicsafety broadband network (NPSBN) for their mission critical voice communications?

Again, it’s not that simple.

Although the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have voice capabilities that will be valuable to public safety, the network will not be able to initially provide (for many years and maybe never) the mission critical level of voice service and dependability needed by public safety.   The NPSBN is intended to provide urgently needed broadband data capabilities for public safety and is not initially being designed to replace current land mobile radio (LMR) mission critical public safety voice systems.

One key element lacking for the NPSBN to replace LMR is that the NPSBN will use LTE commercial technology, a network technology that does not currently provide the “OFF NETWORK” capability that is critical to public safety.  This means that when the broadband network is not available or not reachable there will be no communications, a critical requirement for public safety.

Other key elements required for mission critical voice include but are not limited to:

 

  • Nationwide broadband build out:  It will take 10 years or more to build out the nationwide public safety broadband network to provide mission critical coverage equal to current public safety land mobile networks.
  • Direct Mode  or Talk Around: The capability to communicate unit-to-unit when out of range of a wireless network

 

OR when working in a confined area where direct unit-to-unit communications is required.

 

  • Push-to-Talk (PTT):  The standard form of public safety voice communications today.  The speaker pushes a button on the radio and immediately transmits the voice message to one or many other units.  When they are done talking they release the PTT switch and return to the listen mode of operation.
  • Group  Call:  This method of voice communications provides communications from one-to-many members of a group and is of vital importance to the public safety community.

 

There is much debate relative to whether broadband will eventually have the capabilities to replace current mission-critical public safety LMR systems, however the facts are clear that if this capability becomes reality it is not likely to happen in less than 10 years.

Local,  tribal, state,  and  federal public officials are  urged  to not  abandon or stop  funding their  public safety voice  LMR  systems until such  time  as  it can  be  demonstrated that  broadband can  safely and  adequately provide public safety with the mission critical requirements currently provided by LMR.

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPTSC) is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.

Voting Members

1. AASHTO ……….American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

2. ARRL ……………American Radio Relay League

3. AFWA …………..Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

4. APCO……………Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International

5. FCCA ……………Forestry Conservation Communications Association

6. IACP…………….International Association of Chiefs of Police

7. IAEM ……………International Association of Emergency Managers

8. IAFC …………….International Association of Fire Chiefs

9. IMSA ……………International Municipal Signal Association

10. NASCIO ………..National Association of State Chief Information Officers

11. NASEMSO ……..National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

12. NASF ……………National Association of State Foresters

13. NASTD………….National Association of State Technology Directors

14. NENA……………National Emergency Number Association

15. NSA……………..National Sheriffs’ Association

Associate Members (Non-Voting)

1. ATIS …………….Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

2. CITIG …………..Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group

3. NCSWIC………..National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators

4. TIA………………Telecommunications Industry Association

5. UTC……………..Utilities Telecom Council

Liaison Organizations (Non-Voting)

1. FCC ……………..Federal Communications Commission

2. FEMA……………Federal Emergency Management Agency

3. FPIC …………….Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications

4. NTIA ……………National Telecommunications and Information Association

5. OEC……………..Office of Emergency Communications

6. OIC ……………..Office for Interoperability and Compatibility

7. PSCE ……………Public Safety Communication Europe

8. US DOI …………US Department of the Interior

9. US DOJ…………US Department of Justice

Resources:

NPSTC Mission Critical Voice Definitionhttp://www.pscr.gov/projects/broadband/reqs_stds/Functional_Description_MCV_v5.pdf

Voice over Broadband Articles:

Voice and Public Safety Broadband http://andrewseybold.com/3038-voice-over-public-safety-broadband

Mission-Critical Voice over LTE: What, When and How?

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how

Mission-Critical Voice and LTE: Be Careful

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how