Tag: podcast

Foundations of Amateur Radio #142 – What criteria do you have for your ideal shack?

From time-to-time people move and their shack tends to move with them. For me that move is happening right now, I’m moving all of 900m up the road, a long story in itself, but perhaps best told over a camp fire far from civilisation.

As I started the process of working out what needed to be done I realised that I made a few rookie errors. The first one, one that I’ve made before, but at the time my excuse was that I knew nothing about amateur radio – some say I still don’t – this time I was busy focussing on above ground power, pole-top transformers and high-speed internet. I forgot to check mobile phone coverage, forgot to bring a radio and forgot to listen on HF.

I will no doubt find out what the state of these things is when I actually move, in a few days from now, but my rationalisation was essentially, “I’m not able to operate from home as it is, so it won’t get any worse and if I’m lucky, it might get better.”

Frankly I didn’t have the heart to tell my long-suffering partner that there was yet another condition, you know among the “must have actual proper internet, not the promise of one next year”, “must have space for my office” (more…)

Foundations of Amateur Radio #140 – How should I promote my contest?

The act of telling someone about something is promoting it, not in a marketing sense, just an awareness sense. The act of not telling someone is keeping a secret.

Radio amateurs, and I have no doubt, people who are not, like to plan things. They set-up contests, on-air activities, organise swap-meets, build websites, write articles, invent things, build stuff, and all manner of other amazing activities. Some amateurs talk about what they’ve been up to, but most just sit quietly, hoping that their brilliance will be discovered by someone.

Of course that rarely happens.

Let’s imagine a contest. It’s an activity that you’d ideally want other amateurs to participate in, talking to yourself, on your own is like being a broadcaster and I can tell you, that’s a tough gig. A contest is about making contacts between different participating people.

So, your contest, it’s going to have rules, a planned outcome, say more QRP activity on 40m, and it’s going to run at a particular time. I’ve lost count of the times where that’s the sum-total of effort put into organising a contest. Of course the contest flops, since no-one knew about it, and often that’s the end of it.

So, what can you do to actually get a head start in making this contest work?

For starters, you should figure out who the audience for this contest is. If you set it up on 160m and aim for beginners you’ll have a problem, since they’re not allowed on that band. So, the audience is based on the rules of the contest and of course one influences the other.

Once you’ve got a defined audience, and no, all the amateurs on the planet is not a valid audience, since by that metric you could also say all the taxi-drivers in New York city, and while that is a defined group, it’s unlikely that (more…)

ICQ Podcast Episode 259 – RF Safety

In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Leslie Butterfield G0CIB, Matthew Nassau M0NJX, and Bill Barnes N3JIX to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature is RF Safety by Bill Barnes (N3JIX)

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Foundations of Amateur Radio #139 – Antenna gain and polar chart magic

If you’ve ever been on the hunt for an antenna, and let’s face it, in amateur radio that’s pretty likely, you’ll get information about the gain of an antenna. Often someone will tell you that this one has 12 dB gain, versus that one which only has 9 dB.

As an aside, I’ve seen a few videos where people are comparing sound levels and mention that without the fan, there is only 3 dB less noise. What they don’t realise is that 3 dB means HALF the noise.

The same is true with an antenna. That 9 dB antenna has half the gain of a 12 dB antenna.

In the past I’ve talked about gain. It’s always in comparison to something else. If I say “that antenna has 12 dB gain”, I’m actually saying: “that antenna has 12 dB gain when compared with an isotropic source”. To jog your memory, an isotropic source is a theoretical source of electromagnetic radiation. It cannot actually exist. It radiates uniformly in all directions.

Now when we talk about gain, we’re saying that our new funky antenna radiates better in some or other direction than an isotropic source.

As a consequence of this, it also means that it radiates worse in other directions.

So antenna gain is a trade-off between radiating everywhere like an isotropic source, and only radiating in one direction like a laser beam. As an aside, a laser beam could be seen as an antenna for light. It radiates much better in one direction than in any other, and given that light is also an electromagnetic radiation, we’re still playing in the same area of physics. (more…)

Ham Talk Live! Episode 100 – Bouvet Island DXpedition LIVE update

Thursday at 9 pm Eastern (0200Z) on Ham Talk Live!, we get an update from some of the 3Y0Z – Bouvet Island DXpedition 2018 team about how the trip is going and when you will have a chance to work them! We will have the lead pilot, Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L and the youth pilot, Bryant Rascoll, KG5HVO on the show. And if possible, we will go LIVE for a part of the show with the team. They may still be on the boat, or getting ready to move to the island, or with any luck they will be on the island…

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TX Factor Episode 20

At long last, TX Factor Episode 20 is on the air and you might notice it’s got a fresh new look for 2018! The show has been restyled with a new opening sequence and theme tune, but it’s still packed full of all the interesting features that you have come to expect

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Foundations of Amateur Radio – Episode 137 Virtual Radio

There is a feeling of anticipation in the air, the year has started, there are so many different ideas bubbling through my mind that I feel like an excited puppy dog wagging its tail.

I’ve been playing with a wonderful piece of software called GNU Radio, more on that in a moment.

So, I have for a while been dissatisfied with the offerings of SDR software. There is lots of development going on, lots of new toys being invented and many different hives of activity in this area.

It’s not unlike the progression from reel-to-reel based radio broadcasting via VHS tape, to computers with audio files. There are lots of solutions solving specific problems, but there are also a group of solutions looking for a problem and only time will sift out which one is worth the effort.

In amateur radio we deal with valves, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, integrated circuits, crystals, connectors, solder and many, many different physical things.

I’m a computer guy, have been since I was in primary school. I grok computers, more-so than any aspect of anything else. Amateur radio was intended as an escape from this world, but initially to my dismay, but now to my delight, computers are making serious inroads into the hobby. Not just as peripherals that take care of logging, messaging, propagation forecasting and the like, but as integral parts of the radio. (more…)

ICQ Podcast – Setting up a second shack

In this episode, Martin is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Martin Rothwell M0SGL, Dan Romanchik KB6NU and Ed Durrant DD5LP to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature is Setting up a second shack
For the full article, http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2018/january/icqpodcast-0801.htm

Foundations of Amateur Radio #135 What is amateur radio? What’s not part of the hobby and what is?

The more you dig into this, the deeper the rabbit hole goes. I’ll start with an analogy to set the scene.

In aviation, Sir George Cayley was the first person to investigate heavier-than-air flying vehicles. He invented the aeroplane in 1799. The first full-sized glider, built in 1849 carried the first person in history to fly, the ten-year-old son of one of his servants. Since then the Wright brothers made their flight at Kitty Hawk. We saw the invention of commercial aviation, the turbo prop, the jet engine, the space-shuttle, helicopters, drones, rockets, hot-air balloons, the Hindenburg, the Goodyear blimps, hang-gliders, gyro-copters and many, many other contraptions.

Each of those are considered aviation and the person controlling the device is considered a pilot.

In amateur radio we talk on the radio.

We also create repeaters and talk on them. We link them together using what ever technology is available. We make it possible to connect to such networks using software such as Echolink, AllStar Link, IRLP and other internet based systems. We create digital networks with DMR, use WSPR to exchange information, make contacts using CODEC2, have contests using CW and Morse code.

We build software defined radios where we use computers to decode and encode radio signals, test back scatter using all manner of signal processing, use packet radio, RTTY, Hellschreiber and bounce signals off the moon and nearby meteors or an overflying aircraft. (more…)

Foundations of Amateur Radio – Episode 134 No Onno, it’s not slippery and other lessons …

There is a saying in my family, which I’ll translate into English for you, “No Onno, it’s not slippery.”

This came about when I was ten or so and cycling with my grandmother. It was the middle of winter, it was cold, there was the promise of snow in the air, but nothing had actually fallen. On the little plants, twigs is probably a more accurate term, dotted alongside the cycle path you could see little signs of frost. I was cycling on my shiny new bike and my grandmother was following behind. We came up to a corner on the cycle path and from behind my grandmother called out that I should be careful going around the corner because it was slippery.

Being the indestructible ten year old, I called back: “No grandma, it’s not slippery.” at which point I fell flat on my face.

A few years ago I went on a camping trip with my local club to participate in a contest. One member had a tray-top ute and the idea that we could use that as the base of operation. We planned on putting up a 10m Yagi at the top of a pole. Before we started the process I was asked to test the antenna. I plugged it into my radio, keyed up the PTT and noted that the SWR was as expected, good to go. We then set about attaching the antenna to a telescopic mast. The mast is one of those awkward contraptions. Each segment is about 2.5m tall and standing on a ladder on the back of the ute is just enough height to get to the top of the segment, so you can push up the next and clamp it down.

The segments are made of mild steel, so you need to be careful to keep the whole thing straight, guy-wires everywhere, people scattered all around holding on for dear life and needing a spanner to clamp down on the next segment because the locking pins had long vanished or ceased working. (more…)

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