Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Advice for Beginners

eHam Do’s and other opinions:

1. Do buy good used equipment. You can get good used equipment from the classified section on QTH.COM, local hamfests, on Eham, and from other amateur radio operators that you know; especially from members of your radio club.
2. Do join a local radio club or two or three of them! I belong to 4 radio clubs. Why? First, I feel an obligation to help reimburse the club operating the repeater(s) that I use on a frequent basis. Also you will meet many experienced hams and get to know them. They will help you if you ask with just about anything related to the hobby.

Hams are a pretty vocal group when it comes to equipment reviews and operating techniques. You will hear many “opinions”, just remember that each experienced ham has probably already tried what you are doing right now. Use their experience as a guide with your station setup, equipment purchases, antenna selection, and operating procedures. The club membership fee is a very small price to pay for immediate access to EXPERIENCE.
3. Do think ahead! For example, you may be operating at 100 watts right now. But what if you decide to buy an amplifier somewhere down the road. Plan ahead and setup the station so you will be able to operate “full bore”. This requires a little bit of thought when selecting the antenna, feed lines, and antenna tuner. A legal limit antenna tuner is not much more expensive than one rated for 200-300 watts; especially if you are buying good used equipment.

Also put up the best coax you can afford. My personal opinion is nothing under 213 for HF and LMR 400 for VHF-UHF. That RG8 might be OK for 100 watts HF but what about 1000 watts HF? Usually the total cost difference might be no more .40 cents more per foot between RG58 or RG8 and RG213. (cheaper if you buy on-line from reputable sources.
4. Do plan out your station for easy comfortable operation. An example would be a desk microphone or suspended boom microphone and a foot-switch. Much more comfortable, no hands, station operation; also put the most used equipment like the antenna tuner and radio(s) where they are very accessible. A shelf over a desk can make your station bigger, to accommodate more equipment, without actually being WIDER- GO UP higher with your equipment.

5. Do buy patch cables of the same quality as the main feed lines. Do not use RG58 patch cables from Ebay or of unknown quality; use the same ones as the main feed line ( LMR400, or RG213) made by yourself or from the same source as your main coax lines; and use good connectors. I did not do this originally and now I am replacing all the patch cables with better quality lines. It would have been cheaper to have done this originally.
6. If you have the room, Do buy the best highly rated antenna(s). In my case after several attempts, I am now using a Comet GP 9, and a commercial end fed long wire called the QSO King. A good J pole or Diamond vertical will also work just fine on VHF-UHF if you are not far away from the repeaters you want to work. Good recommendations can be found on-line at or from your local radio club members.

The QSO King I use can be installed nearly invisible in restricted HOA areas. The wire has worked very well up to now and has permitted me to make contacts as far away as Russia and New Zealand using 100 watts during band openings. It is also rated for legal limit so I have continued to use it with my ALS 600 amplifier. Recently I completed WAS on both LOTW and on Eqsl, using just this almost invisible wire antenna.
I also purchased an Alpha Delta 4 band dipole DXCC, which I intend to put up later this year. I have not decided just yet as it would also make a good portable antenna using my tripod light stand-mast and two trees. Again buy good highly rated equipment and you will be a happy ham. The antenna is just as important as the radio you use and some would say more important. I must say that I have a preference for long wire antenna designs; however I am now completing the ham shack equipment by installing a tower and Mosley 33 tri-band beam. Again, buy good highly rated equipment and you will be happy.
7. Do share! with other hams. That’s right you remember your mother told you this! Share your knowledge, loan your equipment, and offer to help, other hams. You will be rewarded with multiple friends and remembered long after you have disappeared from planet Earth.

8. Do use the internet as a resource for knowledge. There are great videos about all aspects of the hobby on Just search for “ham radio”. Also I can recommend all of the weekly Ham Nation videos on Youtube. Again just search for “ham nation” on Youtube. This is a weekly video podcast AND you can listen in and check-in LIVE on HF radio.
The forums at are also a good knowledge resource along with the forums on
9. Do jump into the 21st century. Use your computer and get setup on, and Learn how to use the ARRL log book of the world LOTW. All of the contacts you list there can be backed up to your personal logbook on your computer. I have heard some ham’s say that they don’t use them because the logs can be lost if they go out of business. This is just not true. A complete copy of your log can be stored locally on your computer and backed-up so you will always have a copy. I do answer real QSL cards with a return real QSL card that I designed on my computer and print out as needed. This is the proper thing to do with hams that have sent you a real card. However I have a binder with over 150 Eqsl cards ( 4 of which are real) in only the last 12 months of operating on HF. On a monthly basis I upload my log to LOTW. This keeps me current on the ARRL logbook. Easy to do!

10. Embrace new technologies, the digital modes, Dstar, Echolink, SAT communications, a Raspberry pi; if you are getting to be a "bored" ham radio operator branch out into new modes of communication. The hobby has many ways to communicate long distance and has already merged the radio with a computer. This usually appeals to the "geek" inside most everyone in the amateur radio hobby.

Growing Amateur Radio by NA4IT

It has occurred to me that the among old and new hams, there are four basic types of “hams” or reasons that these “hams” got their license.
The first is the electronics geek that wants to truly learn about amateur radio. This person is more than willing to explore the many facets of what amateur radio has to offer. They are even open to serving the public through ARES, RACES, ACS, SATERN, or other groups. And they enjoy learning. They are like sponges, willing to self-study, and also learn from others. They love experimentation in antenna and equipment.
The second is the operator that while they do want to learn about amateur radio, they operate solely to “make contacts”. They want entries in the logbook. They aren't into conversations, passing traffic, serving the public. They just want the bragging rights to show off their operating prowess as it pertains to making the contact.
The third is the casual operator. They may or may not be interested in learning more about amateur radio, and are not interested in serving the public. All they care about is taking to others. And usually, they frequent only a few frequencies. Some even have a mentality that radio is “my four and no more”, meaning if you aren't a part of their circle, then don't bother talking to them.
Then there is the ham radio operator who is basically a “prepper”. They got into amateur radio simply to be able to communicate when the next disaster comes, or heaven forbid, the government should take over. Unfortunately, most ham radio preppers are so misguided in what they need to do to be able to communicate effectively, they are doomed to failure.
What should the ideal amateur radio operator look like? First, they don't have to be a geek. They do need to want to learn about amateur radio and be willing to explore. There is so much more than repeaters and "store bought" equipment and antennas. They should be interested in making contacts, but finding out how that other person is communicating. What kind of rig, antenna, etc? They should have a concern for being able to communicate when the chips are down, if no other reason to keep themselves and their family safe. And lastly, realize, there are a whole lot more people beside just their little circle of friends.
So, how do we grow amateur radio? Will it take a disaster hitting home? I hope not. But, some how, some way, old and new amateurs alike have to grow, when it comes to our craft. It's not enough to sit back and let the ARRL and FCC “call the shots”. We need learning and input from all. Just because someone is a new ham doesn't mean they don't have anything to offer. And by the same token, just because you have a new technician license doesn't mean you know everything.
A college adviser said this to me: “You can't learn it all in one day, but you should learn something every day. If you stop learning, you die mentally.”
What have you learned today? What have you shared with another ham today? Are you dying mentally as a ham radio operator?

Monday, July 18, 2016


Something to think about; in the past we, EAWA and EMCOMM have had what we call Sunday Sessions where we get together and work on projects we are messing with and getting help in areas that tax our patience and dexterity of our fingers…and eyesight. With today’s ever busy lifestyles and with a few key “elmers” not around in the cold Maine winters (smart people!) these sessions seemed to fall by the wayside. Possible now is the time to consider firing these back up and getting interest stirred back up in our home brewing heritage. Give some thought to this and bring some ideas to the next monthly EAWA meeting on August 11th.
We also spoke of the possibility of getting the club, most important the hobby, out there in the public’s eye. We agreed Field Day is a great experience and a lot of fun but the past few years its been more of a competition out of public view than what one of its purposes really is that educating the public to what we provide in times of need and promoting the hobby as well. We used to do demos at the Maine Coast Mall here in Ellsworth. With the limited amount of traffic there it probably would not pan out too well. SO, put your thinking caps on and lets see what we might do as a group spread the word!


73 de W1KRP


CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch Systems)

1.01 - the very basics  (Jim, KC9HI)

CTCSS    (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch Systems) 
aka "Tone Access" or "PL"

Many repeaters have a LOCK on their receiver to keep unwanted interference from getting in (Lock = receive CTCSS tone). If it does, your radio needs to transmit the matching KEY to enter. (Key = transmit CTCSS tone).

If you put a LOCK on YOUR radio's receiver, the repeater now needs to transmit the matching KEY to enter your receiver as well.

Very important - Not all repeaters that require a KEY to unLOCK its receiver will transmit a KEY back to the user. If it doesn't transmit a KEY, and you have programmed your receiver with a LOCK, you will not hear the repeater because it cannot get in without a KEY.

Never LOCK your receiver unless you are absolutely sure the repeater is sending the matching KEY to YOUR radio as well.


Enc = Encode tone (Key) on the transmitter
Dec = Decode tone (Lock) on the receiver


What is a CTCSS (PL) Tone?

A CTCSS is a 'Tone' sent along with your voice when you transmit.
The transmit tone is referred to as the Encode tone.
The receive tone  is referred to as the Decode tone.
It is Sub-Audible. You can't hear it, but a receiver or repeater can.
The 'Tone' on your TX must match the tone required by the RX on the other end.

CTCSS is part of a repeater's receiver that allows only signals with the proper "Tone" to access or open the receiver.  This allows distant repeaters using a different CTCSS to co-exist on the same frequency.

Some, but not all, repeaters will transmit a CTCSS Tone back.

If the repeater you are trying to listen to is not transmitting a tone, but you have programmed your receiver to require one, you will not hear that repeater.

For this reason, DO NOT initially program your radio's receiver to require a tone. Program your transmitter ONLY to match the repeater you are trying to access.


Avoid using CTCSS on simplex channels.  You must retain the ability to hear others currently using the same frequency to avoid interfering with existing conversations.

Adding these tones in no way guarantees privacy or security of any type. It is used to block out reception of other signals using the same frequency.  Any receiver that does not have CTCSS/DCS tones activated on their radio's receiver will be able to hear your transmissions.

EAWA July Meeting Minutes

EAWA Minutes July 14, 2016

The July 14, 2016 meeting of The Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association was called to order at 7:05 PM by President Mark Albee N1MEA. Evie KA1BRA made a motion to accept the June 9, 2016 Minutes as e-mailed. The motion was seconded by Rob W8HAP. Motion carried. Rob W8HAP made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report of Petty cash $178.01, Savings Account $1201.23,VE Account $18.82, and Repeater Fund $92.39. The motion was seconded by Dick W1KRP. The motion carried. Evie mentioned that the food costs for Field Day were $119.53.
Net Controls EMCOMM (Tuesdays, around 7:00 PM, 146.91 repeater)        
                             July 19                 Evie KA1BRA
                             July 26                 Chris AB1PZ                
                             August 2              Mark N1MEA
                             August 9              Evie KA1BRA
 Net Controls EAWA Net (Wednesdays, 7:00 PM, 147.03  repeater)              
                             July 20                 Evie KA1BRA       
                             July 27                 Chris AB1PZ      
                             August 3              Mark N1MEA
                             August 10            Mark N1MEA
Field Day Report - Rob W8HAP gave the following tally for Field Day:
                             CW 469    SSB 131    GOTA 10 = 610 contacts
                             Bonus Points  1450 (We racked up here!)
                             Total Score for 2016 = 3608
                             Total Score for 2015 = 4246
                             Total Score for 2014 = 4334
                             Total Score for 2013 = 4140
                             Rob noted that propagation was not as good this year
                             and we had fewer operators.
From the past - Rob W8HAP received a QSL card and a letter from one of the Field Day contacts. He is a collector of old QSL cards and kindly sent us a W1TU 1948 QSL card from the station of Luke W. Dufresne.
Public Awareness- Dick W1KRP, Galen KB1NJC, et al expressed the need to keep ham radio visible to the public. Dick has been very good about keeping ham radio and the EAWA on public media.  It was expressed that there is a need for a public demo of ham radio like we used to do at the Maine Coast Mall. There was no resolution to this issue.
Rob W8HAP made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Chris AB1PZ. So done at 7:37 PM. 
Respectfully submitted,
Evie Sargent KA1BRA, Treasurer/Secretary