Tag 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.

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.

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!

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.

What Ham Radio Operators Do

One of my dearest friends and followers asked me to explain what we do as Ham/Amateur Radio Operators. So this post is devoted to the subject of Ham Radio and what we do.

First let me define Amateur Radio per the ARRL: “Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need. Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators.”

There are three license classes. The entry level license is the Technician Class, the mid-level license is the General Class (I’m a General Class holder) and the final class is the Extra Class.

We are inventors, innovators, scientists, and community service volunteers.

Part of being a Ham Radio operator is building antennas, transceivers (a device that can both transmit and receive communications, in particular a combined radio transmitter and receiver), test equipment, CW (Morse Code) Keys, and many other things. Ham Radio has many facets, many hobbies with in the hobby.

Hams are huge supporters of our Military, in fact we as Hams volunteer with MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System). “Army MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program which utilizes Amateur Radio operators to contribute to the mission of the Department of the Army. Army MARS members must have access to HF radio equipment, file a monthly report, and participate a minimum of 12 hours total, including a minimum 6 hours on HF radio each quarter. DoD Directives 4650.2 (26 Jan 98), 3025.1 (15 Jan 93) MSCA, 3025.15, 18 Feb 97 and AR 25-6, 21 Apr 86, defines the primary mission for MARS is to provide DOD–sponsored emergency communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to existing DA communications. What does this really mean? Army MARS members will be assigned, trained and prepared to provide essential emergency communications support via HF radio to the United States Army, and other Federal Agencies in response to natural and man-made disasters. Army MARS members support America’s “First Responders.”

We participate in contests. The biggest reasons we contest or DX is to keep our emergency skills sharp. Contents can be in the local county or the world. The biggest contest day for Ham Radio is Field Day! Click here to read about my experience last year.

“You can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car, all without relying on the Internet or a cell phone network You can take radio wherever you go! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies. For instance, the Amateur Radio Service kept New York City agencies in touch with each other after their command center was destroyed during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham radio also came to the rescue during Hurricane Katrina, where all other communications failed, and the devastating flooding in Colorado in 2013.

You can communicate with other hams using your voice and a microphone, interface a radio with your computer or tablet to send data, text or images, or Morse code, which remains incredibly popular. You can even talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station, talk to other hams through one of several satellites in space, or bounce signals off the moon and back to Earth!”

I participate in SkyWarn. This past Hurricane season, during Hurricane Matthew I manned a shelter, I was the link between the shelter and the Emergency Operations Center for my county. I am also a QSL Card collector; a QSL card is a written confirmation of a two-way radio communication between two amateur radio stations.

Are you familiar with the Great Balloon Festival in Albuquerque New Mexico, the Boston Marathon? You will find Ham Radio Operators there providing communications for the events. While I lived in Maine and was a member of the Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club I was on the team that provided communications for two big events. The Piscataquis River Race and the Sebec River Race.

We even have some celebrities that are hams…some unfortunately are now Silent Keys.  Here is a list of them:  Patty Loveless KD4WUJ,  Walter Cronkite KB2GSD (SK), Worth Gruelle W4ZG (SK), Burl Ives KA6HVA (SK), Joe Walsh WB6ACU, Chet Atkins W4CGP (SK), Stu Cook N6FUP, Stewart Granger (Actor James Stewart) N6KGB (SK), Garry Shandling KD6OY (SK), Cardinal Roger M Mahony W6QYI, Prince Yousuf Al-Sabah 9K2CS, King Bhumibol Adulyadej HS1A  (SK), Queen Noor of Jordan JY1NH, Bob Heil K9EID, Larnell Harris WD4LZC, Marlon Brando KE6PZH/FO5GJ  held a US and French Polynesia License (SK) and last but certainly not least James E Damron N8TMW.

I’m a Rag Chewer (talker), now that I have my General I’m also going to try my luck at contesting and digital modes. Yes, we can even do Ham Radio on the computer as well as on the internet. You can send pictures, television, and even email over Ham Radio. We can talk via satellites  and even bounce a signal off the Northern or Southern Lights and even a comet! I told you we are innovators!  Did you know that a requirement of being a U.S. Astronaut is being at least a General Class Ham?  Now you do!

Well that’s it in a nut shell.  Now how about you join me in this adventure.  It’s not to difficult and is a great hobby!  Click here or simply ask me and I will get you started!

This is KC1FLG/AG bidding you 73!  Hope to hear you one day soon on the radio waves!

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.

Element 3 Exam

CQ! CQ! CQ!  de KC1FLG…

My brothers and sisters,
family both blood and spiritual,

I ask that you keep me in prayer.  I have enormous test anxiety when ever I take a test and tomorrow I sit for the Element 3 Amateur Radio Exam (General Class License Upgrade).  I will drive an hour northeast of my home to Merritt Island and take the 35 question exam at 17:30 Eastern Time.   I know the material and have been passing the practice exams.  Just a tad nervous.  If I recall I was this way prior to taken the Element 2 (Technician Class) which I passed with only two incorrect answers.  I thank you in advance for the prayers.