Category Archives: Amateur Radio

Phonetics Part 2

From N1BUG

ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Using Phonetics, Part 2.
Last week we looked at use of the phonetic alphabet to communicate anything which must be spelled out: call signs, other mixed letter/number groups, proper names and uncommon words. It was noted that use of standard phonetics is considered good practice. Remember that amateur radio spans all cultures and languages of the world. It is also very diverse, ranging from public service and emergency communication to learning about other cultures, chasing awards, contesting, and making contacts in a seemingly infinite number of ways. With so much diversity, developing standard, universally understood operating procedures has many benefits.
That said, there are times when temporarily substituting a different phonetic can be helpful. An example would be the last letter of my call sign (G) when talking to an operator in Central or South America who may be just learning the phonetic alphabet or struggling with the English language. Substituting the longer word Guatemala, clearly enunciated, can be more effective than Golf in that case. Good practice would be to try standard phonetics first and use something else only when encountering difficulty. For example if I have tried standard phonetics twice and the other operator is still having trouble getting it I will try an alternate only for the specific letter or letters that are not being understood. Don’t switch phonetics for a letter that has already been correctly understood! This may lead the other operator to think he got it wrong and try to change it. I always revert to standard phonetics for the next contact. Those who find themselves enjoying aspects of amateur radio where alternate phonetics can be an asset will learn when and what to use as they observe what works (and doesn’t work) for others.
One other point about phonetics is worth noting. Some repeater owners and repeater clubs frown on the use of phonetics. We should try to respect their wishes and fit in when we become aware of their preferences. Phonetics are very welcome and encouraged on the N1BUG 147.105 repeater. Not everyone has perfect hearing. Understanding letters that sound alike can be a real challenge regardless of mode. Many new hams start out on FM and repeaters. Some go on to other aspects of amateur radio where phonetics are much more important. I see repeaters as a good place to learn and practice universal operating techniques and skills that may be useful here as well as elsewhere throughout amateur radio.
Remember it is often kinder to elmer than to overlook.

2017 Hamfest Maine

It’s almost that time a year again… HamFest time, so mark your calendars!  What you haven’t heard of HamFest, it’s the next best thing since sliced bread?! Okay this is what it is: ” a hamfest is a meeting of people interested in Amateur Radio. Hamfests offer exhibits, forums, and flea-markets for Amateur Radio operators or “hams.” (ARRL.org).  If you find yourself in Milo, Maine this August, please stop and see my friends from PARC at their HamFest. Mark your calendar’s for Saturday 5 August 2017 and join the PARC at the Kiwanis building in Milo Maine.  

What happens…well besides finding radio equipment…there are events to introduce the public to Ham Radio and even get on the air.  You can also take your Technician, General or Extra Class License Exam at a HamFest (exams start at 09:00 don’t be late)!

This year my friends at PARC will be featuring live music by The Junction Express.  They are set to perform from 11:00-13:00.

ARRL Surprise

I had a wonderful surprise in today’s mail from the ARRL!

I am now a Volunteer General Class V.E., I have to say I love my hobby more and more each day, I’m learning so much. My accreditations thus far: General Class Operator, Licensed Technician and General Class Instructor and ARES member. 

Elmer Tip

From one of my good friends and my first Elmer, N1BUG.

ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Order of Call signs.
Convention on which call sign goes first (calling station or station being called) varies by radio service. In amateur radio the call sign of the station transmitting goes last. Let’s look at an example. I am N1BUG. If I want to call K1PQ, the correct order is “K1PQ, N1BUG”. A tip to help remember this is to imagine the words “this is” between call signs. Sometimes we actually speak those words: “K1PQ, this is N1BUG”. Often we omit the middle part and just say the call signs, but “this is” is always implied. From this you can see the call sign of the station actually doing the transmitting should always come last. The same applies if you choose to give both station call signs at the 10 minute ID interval or at the end of a communication. (Note: you are only required to say your own call sign every 10 minutes and at the end of a communication, but in practice we often say both the call sign of the station we are communicating with and our own call sign).
Why it matters: On local repeaters where people quickly learn to recognize each others’ voices this may seem unimportant. What is important is maintaining uniform operating procedures throughout amateur radio. In other facets of amateur radio call sign order is very important. Getting it reversed can lead to confusion, frustration and misunderstanding. It is better to encourage and learn the proper order of call signs early than risk having to let go of established habits and relearn later on.
Remember it is often kinder to Elmer than to overlook.

Elmer Tips 

From N1BUG. 

ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Station Identification Requirements.
FCC Regulations require us to give our call sign every ten minutes during a communication and at the end of a communication. Remembering to identify can be a challenge for those coming to amateur radio from unlicensed personal radio services. Of course nervous mistakes happen when one is new but in the absence of gentle reminders it is easy for such mistakes to become habit. A common error is giving one’s call sign only when making a call or checking into a net, then forgetting to identify every ten minutes during and at the end of a communication. On nets such as the Wednesday PARC Net where we check in and later get a turn to make comments, it is important to give our call sign at the end of our comments regardless of timing or whether we expect to transmit again during the net. We may not know whether we will be transmitting again or how long it will be before our next transmission. Identifying at the end of our turn ensures we stay within the rules. For normal communications outside nets, we should identify every ten minutes and at the end of the contact or conversation.
Why it matters: Identifying may not seem important when everyone on the repeater knows each other, but remember we are granted extensive privileges to use a finite and valuable resource known as the electromagnetic spectrum. In return we are expected to follow certain regulations. It behooves us all to do so.
Remember it is often kinder to elmer than to overlook.

Grief Transforms to Opportunity

Everyone in amateur radio, those in the military and those who are history buffs may already know this…but I had to do a little research to confirm something I read on Facebook and it was true read on.

Samuel F. B. Morse Artist/Inventor (1791-1872).

Samuel F.B. Morse was an accomplished painter before he invented the telegraph and changed the way the world communicated. After a mediocre showing at Phillips Academy, save for a strong interest in art, his parents sent him to Yale College. Samuel’s record at Yale wasn’t much better, though he found interest in lectures on electricity and focused intensely on his art.

“Morse worked with several British masters and the respected American artist Benjamin West at the Royal Academy. Morse adopted a “romantic” painting style of large, sweeping canvases portraying heroic biographies and epic events in grand poses and brilliant colors.”

In the decade between 1825 and 1835, grief transformed to opportunity for Samuel Morse. In February 1825, after giving birth to their third child, Lucretia died. Morse was away from home working on a painting commission when he heard his wife was gravely ill, and by the time he arrived home, she had already been buried. The next year Morse’s father died, and his mother passed three years later. Deep in grief, in 1829 Morse traveled to Europe to recover. On his voyage home, in 1832, he met the inventor Charles Thomas Jackson, and the two got into a discussion about how an electronic impulse could be carried along a wire for long distances. Morse immediately became intrigued and made some sketches of a mechanical device that he believed would accomplish the task.

Here is some of his work.

Self Portrait Hangs in Adison Gallery of Art
President John Adams Hangs in the Brooklyn Museum
Samuel Finley Breese Morse (American, 1791 – 1872 ), The House of Representatives, 1822, probably reworked 1823, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund) 2014.79.27
Eli Whitney Hangs at Yale Univ

 

Miracle of Saint Mark  (after Tintoretto – Jacopo Robusti) Museum of Fine Art Boston
General Lafayette (“Marquis de Lafayette,” oil on canvas.) Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

This was the image that originally sent me to do my research.

One Year


CQ! CQ! CQ! This is KC1FLG! CQ! CQ! CQ! Today marks my one year anniversary of getting my amateur radio license! My first contact ever was Bill Welsh, KB1WEA, both on EchoLink and the N1BUG repeater!  
It has been a wonderful year in this hobby, I’ve gone from a Technician to a General Class operator. I’ve participated in many ARES events both in Maine and Florida and one deployment here in Florida. I’ve also became an accredited VE with the ARRL. 
This next year I’m studying for my Extra Class and will attempt to learn CW!  
I want to thank a few good people who have helped me along the way. Colin KF5UTP, Debra KF5UTQ, Paul N1BUG, Bill KB1WEA, George WA1JMM, and the rest of the PARC! You will always be my Elmers and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

FCC to Reinstate CW

FCC to Reinstate Morse Code TestApril 1, 2017 by Dan KB6NU

Washington, D.C. – April 1, 2017 – Today, the Federal Communications Commission’s previously approved Report and Order 17-987af which reinstates the Morse Code test for Technician Class, General Class and Amateur Extra Class licensees goes into effect. “It was a big mistake eliminating the Morse Code test,” admits Dotty Dasher, the FCC’s director of examinations. “We now realize that being able to send and receive Morse Code is an essential skill for radio amateurs. As they say, it really does get through when other modes can’t.”

Not only will new applicants have to take the appropriate test, but Technician Class licensees who have never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 5-wpm code test. Similarly, General Class licensees that never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 13-wpm test, and Amateur Extra Class licensees will have one year to pass a 20-wpm exam. All of these exams will require perfect copy for at least 1 full minute out of a 5 minute test session. Those amateurs that fail to pass the test will face revocation of their operating privileges. Some examinees, may not be able to copy and send Morse Code as slowly as 20-wpm. So, at their request, they may take the exam at a higher speed if they so desire. Materials for administering the examinations will be distributed to Volunteer Examiner Coordinators by the end of April, so that they can begin the testing on Monday, May 1, 2017.

“This isn’t going to be one of those silly multiple-choice type tests,” noted Dasher. “We’re going to be sending five-character random code groups, just like we did in the old days. And, applicants will have to prove that they can send, too, using a poorly adjusted straight key. This sending portion of the Examination will be read by machine, so it would behoove prospective examinees to practice with Morse decoding software or hardware to ensure that their sending exhibits no irregularities.”

Technician Class licensees will be required to take a Morse Code test, and so will a test be required for new applicants. “We discussed it,” said Dasher, “but decided that even though most Techs can’t even figure out how to program their HTs, requiring them to learn Morse Code seemed like the absolute minimum that we should demand of them.”

When asked what other actions we might see from the FCC, Dasher hinted that, in the future, applicants taking the written exam will be required to draw circuit diagrams, such as Colpitts oscillators and diode ring mixers, once again. “We’re beginning to think that if an applicant passes an amateur radio license exam it should mean that he or she actually knows something,” she said.

For further information, contact James X. Shorts, Assistant Liaison to the Deputy Chief of Public Relations for the FCC at (202) 555-1212 or jim.shorts@fcc.gov. For more news and information about the FCC, please visit http://www.fcc.gov. periodically.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

A Year Ago

Has it been a year already?  One year ago today, 26 March 2016, I passed the Element 2 Technician Class Exam, sponsored by the Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club (PARC).  I took the exam at Milo Town Hall in Milo Maine.  I was nervous, however my hard work and study paid off, I passed the test with 33/35.  Then begins the wait for the license to be granted…I will post on the anniversary of that date.

Just think, in one years time I’ve gone from Technician to General, and I still have a lot to learn, and a lot more fun to be had.

BaoFeng UV-82HP Review

BaoFeng UV-82HP Blue High Power Dual Band Radio: 136-17MHz (2M VHF) 400-520MHz (70cm UHF) Amateur Portable Two-Way HT

This is a great HT for the price,  I will have links on where to purchase at the end of this review (all links open in a new window).   I’m still learning it, but love the added power over the UV-5RA. Added bonus for me it was available in one of my favorite colors, blue! It is also available in red, yellow, camo and standard black.

Just an FYI for everyone that uses a speaker mic, when you use the mic it will only TX on the bottom VFO (only drawback I’ve seen so far).

I do recommend not using the factory antenna that comes with it but using the Nagoya Dual Band antenna. Do yourself a big favor and buy the programming cable. This HT is easily programmed with CHIRP, I haven’t tried to program it manually (truth be known I’d much rather program it with the software then do it on the fly). The HT has great clarity in the audio I receive and my TX is far above what I expected, even bets the 5/9s I got on the UV-5RA.

Here is the current prices for each as well as the link to buy them.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my two cents, de KC1FLG/AG.

BTech Mini UV-2501+220 Review

BTECH MINI UV-2501+220 (Gen. 3) 25 Watt Tri-band Base, Mobile Radio: 136-174MHz (VHF), 210-230MHz (1.25M), 400-520MHz (70cm UHF) Amateur Radio

With antenna, mag mount and programming cable I paid a total of $237.29.  I will provide the links at for all at the end of this review.

I love this mobile rig, I have it mounted in my 2004 Chrysler Sebring Limited Convertible.  I bought it when I lived in Maine where I was able to utilize all three bands and I could not say enough good things about it. I moved to Florida and sadly the 220MHz is sadly lacking here (I do hope that this changes though). I’d recommend this rig 100 times over.  It can get a little warm especially during long QSOs but it does have a great fan in it. I get great reports on my transmissions and clarity.  You cannot go wrong for the price.  The radio is easily programmed with CHIRP.

As promised the links:

Thanks for reading de KC1FLG/AG.