Friday, November 2, 2018

Sunday Session(s)

This coming Sunday, November 4th at 12 Noon the crew will meet for another Session. 25 Tweedie Lane in Ellsworth Meadow View Phase 4 Community Room where the club meetings are held. Possible plan on getting a shopping list to together for the End Fed antenna Morgan mentioned at the EAWA meeting recently! Bring your stuff your working on anyway and coffee of course!!

Foundations of Amateur Radio


Get on air and make some noise ...

Get on air and make some noise is a phrase I use often to encourage amateurs to be active on-air and use the bands that are available to us.
One thing that's often glossed over is how to actually make that noise. It can be scary to make that first contact.
If you've got your radio installed, your antenna erected, your operating position set-up just right and you're ready to actually key your microphone, how do you do that and how do you get the attention of those around you?
First things first.
You need to establish if your radio is actually working as expected. If you're using a UHF or VHF radio, often the simplest way is to find a local repeater, key-up your radio and give your callsign. The result should be at least a carrier, a beep or a callsign in Morse-code. Some repeaters even have a voice ident, so you can hear that your action of keying the push-to-talk had an effect. If that isn't working, then there are lots of things you can troubleshoot, but that's for another day.
If you want to do the same on HF, unless you happen to be in a position that there is a repeater within propagation distance, generally only on the 6m and 10m bands, then you're essentially out of luck. There isn't a beep, or a carrier, or a voice-ident to be found. This means we have to solve the problem in a different way.
First of all, if you cannot hear any stations, the chances of someone hearing you are slim. So, the first thing to do is to check that the squelch on your radio is set to allow all signals to arrive at your speaker. Then find a band where it's noisy. When I say noisy, find one where there is lots of hiss. Generally speaking an open band, one where propagation is getting a signal to you, makes noise, lots of noise. There are exceptions to this, but for now, find the noise.
Depending on how you have your antenna set-up, you need to make sure that you're using the right antenna for the band you're using. Some antennas work on multiple bands, others only on one, it depends entirely on what you have got hanging off the end of your radio.
Once you've found the noisiest band, go hunting for beeps, as-in Morse-code beeps, or voices, or digital sounds. Find a signal, find evidence of activity. If you have multiple noisy bands, check them all.
You might recall that this is all dependent on the ionosphere, so depending on what's going on with the sun, things will change, sometimes within a minute, an hour, or weeks. Generally there is a difference between day and night and sunrise and sunset, so experiment.
Once you've found some activity, you need to find someone to talk to. If the voice you hear is weak, look for a strong one. The stronger the better. While this isn't universally true, it's a good starting experience. Every radio and antenna combination has a sweet spot on where you know that they can hear you, but you don't know yet what that sweet spot is, so trial and error is the way to go.
HF is not like the local repeater. The people on HF can be anywhere on the planet. They might be there for the first time, or for the third time that day having been on air for sixty years, it's hard to tell.
A good analogy is to think of a sport stadium with a hundred thousand people in it. There are people all around you and you're trying to make contact with one of them. You can pick their frequency, but they're likely to be talking to someone else. You might be interrupting a daily chat, a regular net, or happen upon a contest or a special event station. You don't know which one it is and sometimes you can't hear both sides of the conversation. So, before you key your microphone and make some noise, listen to what is going on.
Once you've figured out that the station you're hearing might be amenable to talking, wait for a break in the conversation, key your microphone and just say your callsign phonetically, once. If there's no break, that's a good indication that the other station doesn't want to talk to you, unless there is an endless stream of stations, in which case the going might be tough and you might be there for a while.
If the other station acknowledges your call, great, you just made contact. Confirm that you have their callsign and that they have yours, write it down with the time and frequency, then start with exchanging information, start with a signal report. In the beginning, less is more. Your first name and city is often more than enough.
All we're doing is establishing that we can talk to someone and that they can talk to us. Don't overdo it, get a feeling for what's going on.
Then do it again.
And again.
Before long you'll have some experience on how to get on air and make some noise and you can start learning about improving your skills, becoming familiar with your radio and being an active amateur.
Hopefully that wasn't so scary, and remember, every amateur had to make their first contact one day, even those who have been on-air for longer than you've been alive.

Friday, October 19, 2018

DMR....Here and Now!

Related image

Digital Mobile (Amateur) Radio…DMR…. is here! Check out the Maine DMR page in the links to the right and see what’s going on in the state. Locally we have a new repeater in Gouldsboro with the following info:

Gouldsboro, ME     KC1FRJ DMR Repeater,   145.210 -0.600 ,   CC-12  

Possibly great things are on the horizon folks, stay informed! 

“Rules of Radio”
Dan Hubert, VE9DAN

(Originally published sometime in 1996 or 1997)


1) There shall be no talking by the family during a QSO.
2) The XYL shall assist with antenna construction when and only when required.
3) The shack budget will take precedence over all other incidental items such as mortgages, food, echoes, etc.
4) Christmas stocking stuffers for the OM must include at least two items for the shack (total value of not less than $300).
5) Flea markets, hamfests, and field days over-rule family holidays.
6) Furry pets are not allowed near the rig (except for testing purposes).
7) TVI never occurs within the home, or if it does, is negligible and does not count.
8) All trees around QTH shall be considered antenna supports, and not "greenery", "landscaping", or other such nonsense. Corollary: Any tree may be cut down, pruned, poisoned, dug up, or otherwise removed should it be in the way of wire.
9) The last postage stamp and envelope in the home shall be reserved for direct QSL mailings, and not for personal letters, bills, or mail orders (unless orders are for shack).
10) Any number of holes may be drilled in the family car to accommodate mobile whips. Corollary: Coax may droop across the steering column occasionally.
11) Never herewith shall insurance coverage of shack items be less than triple the replacement value, notwithstanding acts of God.
12) Burger King must never allow the holy whopper oven to cool.
13) Newly licensed hams must honor, praise, look up to, ask easy questions of, and purchase coffee for, old guys.
14) The XYL shall anticipate good band propagation conditions at all times, and whenever rare DX flows in, she shall without fail;
a) keep log when requested;
b) hold all phone calls - except those from other hams;
c) call the OM's work QTH the next morning and cover his absence with a good excuse;
d) appear very excited;
e) change all her plans to suit;
f) provide steaming coffee at 45 minute intervals;
g) cancel all household chores, and in particular, cancel vacuuming.
15) All materials owned by the work QTH can and will be used for ham projects.
16) These rules may be modified at any time, without notice, to continuously be in the OM's best interest.
17) The most recent licensee must beareth the brunt of our collective teasing until the next new licensee fills his humiliated shoes.
18) All members of all radio clubs must support, in unsurpassed vigor and cooperation, whatever the resident "contest man" suggests-ith.
19) Whence OM bears unrelentless fright of tower height, others must climbeth said structure unfailingly upon request.
20) Refer longstanding rule #15. Verily, if you cannot convince work QTH to donateth items for thine shack, thou shalt quit said despicable workplace without notice. Simply QRT-eth hastily-eth.

21) New rule added by Rich, WB2MBM, August 11/97 via pactor: I'd like to add a rule to the list... "Coax cables may be routed to achieve the lowest loss, regardless of whether they cause doors, windows, etc., to be blocked or otherwise not to function. And if the house appears to be trapped in a sort of rubber "spider's web," that's a plus rather than a minus." 

"Sunday Session"

Ham radio projects: the FEP enclosure.

This coming Sunday, October 21, we are starting up regular scheduled "Sunday Session" once again at Meadow View Phase 4 Community Room located at 25 Tweedie Lane in Ellsworth. Firing up around 12 noon and ending who knows when. Possibly we could have a discussion on projects we might want to tackle as a group!? Who knows. Anywho, bring your projects, latest toys and tall tales and a cup of coffee of course and see whats up.

 Anyone interested in what Amateur Radio is all about is welcome to drop on by and pick our guarantees on how fresh the fruit is though. 73!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Saturday 4.21.18 QRP Down By The Union River

 Message From Jeff KA1DBE organizer of the event:

Greetings all,

Looks like we are going to have a good day and plenty of different
rigs/antenna/hardware.  Most of all, we will have plenty of operators.
I am planning on being on site about 9:30ish but you can show up when
you can.  Here are some last minute notes:

Need to log every contact.  Please use UTC or let me know if you use
EDT so I can convert it.  If computer logging, send me the ADI file so
I can merge it into the final log.

We will be using W1TU for the callsign.

The exchange will be RST ME Union R.  Not all contacts will be 599.

Please familiarize yourself with the rules.  SSB and CW only.  Was
hoping to do some digital but maybe we can do some demos.  Here is a
link to the rules:

Would like to capture the event in photos so forward them to me if you
have some good ones.

Most of all, have fun.  I am looking forward to it and remember that
we are in the public so be ready to answer questions without too much

Any last minute questions?

Jeff, KA1DBE

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sunday Session!

A recent Sunday Session provided Jeff KA1DBE with a couple of photo ops. Top is a nice looking go-kit based in a Harbor Freight case by Chris AB1PZ. Bottom photo Chuck AC1BS replaces the battery in his Kenwood TS-50. Thanks Jeff for the photos!