Favorite Ham Radio Gadgets
Frank shares with us some thoughts about his favorite gadgets. These are not going to change the world, but they just might brighten your day. Complete with photographs.
Link to content:
Frank shares with us some thoughts about his favorite gadgets. These are not going to change the world, but they just might brighten your day. Complete with photographs.
Link to content:
Cumberland Amateur Radio Club has a goal of building its bench strength in preparation for a big showing in Field Day 2021.
Part of our preparation strategy calls for placing greater emphasis on the many State QSO Parties and using them as a development opportunity. Many of the skills that an operator needs for Field Day are the same skills as she or he would use when operating in a State QSO Party.
Our approach begins by reviewing the QSO Party Rules looking for areas that can be standardized and simplified for the beginning contester entering as a single operator station.
So, here we are at the end of July 2020 making our plans and drumming up interest.
To our south, the bordering state of Maryland has the Maryland-DC QSO Party on the horizon with an August 8 date.
To our west, the bordering state of Ohio has the Ohio QSO Party around the corner with an August 22 date.
And, if there is someplace I would love to have on my Bucket List it is the 50th State with its Hawaii QSO Party, also with an August 22 date.
Go back a few days in the News Blog and you will find a link to the MDC QSO Party summary that was written as a starter.
Once you have the Maryland-DC QSO Party under your belt please set your sights on Ohio and Hawaii.
Here are a couple of links that will take you to our content.
Earlier today ARRL Members in the EPA Section received information from Jay Silber, ARRL Public Information Coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania Section, describing new weekly digital nets.
Jay’s announcement appears in the PDF shown below.
If this topic is of interest to you please follow the link to the full text of his announcement.
Link to announcement: Notes From The Shack New Statewide Talk Group [PDF]
Andy Forsyth AF3I and Frank Mellott KB3PQT
A few days ago, as part of the Sunday Evening Two-Meter Net, CARC Members heard a glowing report of the great results club member KC3AB obtained by using TECNU Poison Ivy and Oak Scrub to wash-up following an exposure to poison ivy.
I find that I am a poison ivy magnet. When I do yard work and other outdoor chores I am bound to stick my hands some place where poison ivy with its three shiny leaves is growing, unknown to me.
So, I took Doug’s recommendation to heart and went on a shopping trip. With the assistance of my wife I found and purchased the product at Wegmans on the Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA. We were happy to find the product in-stock. It was located in the First Aid aisle within a few inches of the adhesive bandages (e.g. Band-Aids). I also found the product on the shelf at the Giant in Dillsburg.
So, I am well-prepared for the next time I touch the poison ivy vine. Thank you Doug. Friends who share their insights and experiences are best kind. You want to keep them.
Can someone help me with this new woe? I have this tune stuck in my head and it won’t go away.
“Late at night when you’re sleepin’ Poison Ivy comes a creepin’ around”.
With a special focus on the Maryland — DC QSO Party
Scheduled for August 8, 2020
Cumberland Amateur Radio Club recently recapped its performance in the ARRL 2020 Field Day Operating Event. The short version is that we believe the event will be more enjoyable if we take steps to sharpen our skills.
One way of sharpening skills is to practice regularly. Almost every weekend provides an opportunity to practice those Field Day operating skills by operating in one of the on-air Radio Sport contests.
With that in mind, the purpose of this post is to share a few thoughts about the upcoming Maryland – DC QSO Party. CARC Club Members and other ham radio operators may enjoy spending quality time on-the-air as they develop their skills and share contest points with colleagues.
[ There is a lot of good information in the accompanying PDF which rounds-out and completes the introductions shown above. Click the button and the file will download right before your eyes.]
Looking for a portable antenna that is easy to use and affordable?
Looking for a portable antenna that pairs well with a Yaesu 817 or 818 series radio transceiver, or an Icom 703 or Icom 705?
Looking for a portable antenna that is rated to handle up to 100 watts for those times when you feel the need for more power?
If so, the Comet HFJ-350M 9-Band Telescopic Antenna might be the portable antenna for you.
Follow the trail to the KNOW HOW RESOURCES page for more information on a nifty new antenna from Comet!
See ‘ya down the log.
Looking for a way to keep all the MAGIC SMOKE inside your ham radio gear – where it belongs?
Check out the KNOW-HOW RESOURCES page for information about that red blob in the bottom right corner of the photo. [Sorry, the photo is not cooperating. You will not see any red blobs during your visit.]
Click on the SALMAGUNDI link and you will be whisked to the page where the answer and all kinds of helpful information has been uploaded.
Or, simply click on the button below and you will have the document on your screen in seconds with no additional navigation required. What could be easier than that?
See ‘ya down the log.
After Field Day 2020 was in the books a group of us from the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club K3IEC Field Day crew discussed what worked, what didn’t work, and what we can do to improve. Some of our thoughts may well apply to your radio shack.
What you just read is the first three of ten proven techniques that will help improve your operating results — whether it be the Field Day Operating Event, or any one of the many Radio Sport Contests that fill the airwaves most weekends.
To read the entire group of ten proven techniques, please follow this link which will bring you directly to the PDF file. How Do I Field Day Tips [PDF]
Or, you may wish to visit our Know-How Resources tab to see the many different subjects and topics our authors have written about. It is a treasure trove.
See ‘ya down the log.
This is a recap of the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Class A Club Portable setup and operation. Look for our results in December QST in Class 3A as K3IEC CUMBERLAND ARC.
This is a recap of the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Stay-At-Home due to COVID-19 operations performed by Club Members who entered as Class D Home. Look for our results in December QST listed as CUMBERLAND ARC.
Editor’s Note: This information was first posted over a year ago. The content remains an important part of our Club approach to encouraging involvement and participation in ham radio events. I am re-posting the content with minor revisions as needed due to the COVID-19 situation.
A good friend of Ham Radio shared with me a story. The story involved a newly licensed Amateur Radio Operator who set out to make some radio contacts after receiving his license from the FCC. His call sign and his on-the-air techniques revealed that he was a newcomer to ham radio.
To make the story short — this newly licensed ham received a somewhat chilly reception to his on-the-air communications attempts and may have been turned-off by the whole experience. How sad.
The Cumberland Amateur Radio Club would like to warmly welcome newly licensed hams.
We stand ready to provide assistance enabling you to get on the air and to make contacts with other hams who appreciate the hard-work you put into studying and passing the Licensing Exam.
First, we invite you to attend our Club Meetings. Details are in the THINGS TO-DO/CARC EVENTS page of this website. We have a special FREE MEMBERSHIP OFFER for newly licensed hams. How can you beat that? If you are looking for help selecting and setting up your first radio station this is a good place to begin.
Second, if you already have ham radio equipment we invite you to participate in our weekly Two-Meter Net. CARC Members and guests gather each Sunday Night at 7 p.m. local time on 146.490 MHz, FM Simplex in the Two-Meter Band. No Repeater Offset, No PL Access Tones. Simply tune your transceiver to 146.490, listen for the Net Control Station to announce the net. Frank, KB3PQT, usually is our Net Control Station. He is a friendly guy and a great supporter of the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club and ham radio in general.
When it is time, key your microphone, say your call sign, release your mike, and wait to be acknowledged by the NCS. The Net Control Station will say a few words welcoming the people who checked into the net, and then give each person his or her opportunity to speak by saying that person’s call sign. Tell us your name, your location, and perhaps let us know if you have questions. After you have said what is on your mind, simply say “This is [your call sign], Back To Net Control.” and release your mike. It is that simple. No worries, No pressure, No cold shoulders.
If you experience any difficulty when trying to participate in the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Two-Meter Net please email me your name, call sign, location, and a few words about your radio and antenna. We will try to perk-up our ears and listen more carefully for you the next week. eMail: Andrew Forsyth AF3I@RadioClub-CARC.com
• Author: Andrew Forsyth AF3I
The Intrepid-DX Group, a US-based IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes amateur radio in developing countries, has announced its first Youth Essay Contest. The prize is a new Icom IC-7300 transceiver, which the winner must agree to keep and use for 1 year.
Participants will prepare a two-page essay answering these questions:
(1) What are your amateur radio goals? and
(2) What can we do to attract more youth to amateur radio?
The competition is open to US amateur radio licensees aged 19 or younger.
Submit essays in text or MS Word attachment by July 31, 2020, or mail to The Intrepid-DX Group, 3052 Wetmore Dr, San Jose, CA 95148, postmarked by July 31, 2020.
Email for more information.
The Intrepid-DX Group hopes to make the Youth Essay Contest an annual event.
eMail address for submitting essays:
eMail address for more information:
Intrepid-DX Group website:
Intrepid-DX Group Facebook page:
Notes from the shack….
Field Day 2020 is in the book – the log book that is!
The 2020 ARRL Field Day has ended. Whether you came out to support your club or operated your own home station as Class 1D or 1E and plan to submit your score to be aggregated with the CARC score for bragging rights, hopefully you had a good time. If so please make plans to have June 26 and 27, 2021 circled on your calendars.
The Cumberland Amateur Radio Club was unable to use Shaffer Park in Carlisle this year due to COVID19 restrictions and our own sense of risks vs. rewards.
A small group of CARC Members and our close ham radio friends met at Dave W3VRE’s farmette instead.. Dave W3VRE, Frank KB3PQT, Doug KC3CPT and Fred KC3KPD set up and operated. Valli N8QVT and Harry K3EYL stopped by for moral support before returning home to operate from their own stations.
We had fun, food and radio! What more do you need? [Editor’s Note: Wine, and Song. My wife strongly discourages the third part of that well-known trio.]
We operated as Class 3A, but only for 4-5 hours so QSO points took a steep dive from what we are accustomed to in prior years. We should do well with bonus points and have a total score around 950-ish. Thanks to AF3I we have the W1AW bulletin and originated 11 radiograms which, together earned 300 Bonus Points. Not as good as we hoped, but from what I am hearing many others had a low score also.
Jim K4CGY in Charlottesville, VA is a huge Field Day fan. He begins preparing for his club’s effort in February. This year he entered as Class 1D from home, and started preparing seriously in April. He said that Saturday was very “dead” but Sunday was a busier day.
Carole KG4DTM, from the northern neck of VA, echoed the same observations. Carole also said her efforts to get a random wire over a tree limb in her yard with a slingshot attracted the “entire neighborhood”.
For some hams, part of the fun of contesting is hearing friends on the air. I heard K3EYK on 10m and 40m and K3LHD on 40m. Also N4USS and KE4HVR.
The WSJT-X eMail reflector filled my inbox with issues about WSJT-X and Field Day. It seems the software crashed a lot. Once that gets all sorted out there may be a How Do I article under the Know How Resources tab on this website. We came up with several other topics as well, so watch the CARC web site! www.RadioClub-CARC.com
Saturday seemed to have had a fair amount of PSK31 activity as well. Did not look but I expect some fellows followed through with plans to use OLIVIA as well.
See ‘ya down the log!
Notes from the shack… Remote License Exam
Where can I take my amateur radio exam test?
With a lot of help from Dale, KC3PIP.
Welcome to the wonderful world of amateur radio!
For some reason, April-June seem to be busier for Volunteer Examiners (VEs are the volunteers who actually administer ham radio license exams under the supervision of a Volunteer Exam Coordinator (VEC – ARRL, Laurel and W5YI are the 3 largest). Many new Technician class licensees seem to want to be ready to participate in the ARRL Field Day the last weekend in June (27/28th in 2020).
Normally one studies for the test using one of the Technician class guides from various sources, or uses paid or free on-line practice exams. On-line classes or in person classes are also options. But in 2020 the COVID19 pandemic has virtually ceased in-person testing.
Dale, KC3PIP decided to go for his Technician class license. He signed up with one of the respected online test study organizations, HamTestOnline™ and studied for the exam. He planned to take the exam locally but then COVID19 came along. He tried waiting patiently but was becoming frustrated and wanted a license. So he went back to HamTestOnline™ and searched for a test site and found that the W5YI VEC and others are offering exams via Zoom. Dale had to register for the test, pay the $14.00 fee (hint, Laurel VEC is always free, but they are not currently offering remote testing) and prepared an area to take the exam in at his home.
About 5 minutes before the exam he received an email with the Zoom meeting information. The VEs had him use his cell phone camera to send video showing the room set up, the lack of material within reach, etc. He then proceeded to take the exam and passed. A few days later, his new call sign, KC3PIP is in the FCC data base and Dale is able to get on the air!
Again Dale, thanks for the help and welcome to a great hobby!
Our Know-How Resources tab has over 50 articles designed to help all amateurs learn more and become active in amateur radio.
See ya down the log!
With some help from our friends at WSJTX@groups.io.com
FT8 is one of the many digital modes in the WSJT-X software suite from Joe Taylor, K1JT and his team of collaborators. The basic software covers everything from weak signal HF to earth-moon-earth and meteor scatter transmissions on 2 meters and 70 centimeters in the VHF and UHF bands. WSJT–X really took off about 4 years ago with the introduction of JT65 and since the introduction of FT8 in spring of 2018, FT8 has become one of, if not the most popular HF digital mode. Please see the Know How Resources Tab for additional articles about the WSTJ-X suite, other digital suites and various digital modes.
Are there any psychologists out there, professional, amateur or wannabe, who have some theories about why FT8, its sibling FT4, and even its older cousins, JT65 and JT9, are so addictive?
FT8, it’s all the fun of Ham Radio – without the jibber-jabber!
For me, since I have hearing loss & tinnitus, I enjoy being able to turn the volume to zero & avoid the noise. And you can certainly multi task in that environment, have a meal, conduct a transaction, pay a bill, even watch a favorite TV show, etc.
In other words, having a life AND playing radio using FT8 are totally compatible – enjoy!
73 – John – N7GHZ
It’s addictive because it works well in crappy conditions, you can quickly and easily see where prop is going, and you can surf the web while operating.
Or clean up the shack. I use WSJT-X software because they make QSOs that I can’t make on CW, the mode I enjoy most.
73, Jim K9YC
I could tell you, but right now I am in a 15 second continuous, never ending, loop … 🙂
from another poster:
Hook up GridTracker and use a Mario Coin sound when it successfully uploads a grid to LOTW and it’s like a video game!
That is a major advantage. One can work stations all over the world even in the horrible current band conditions. Since starting with JT65 and moving to FT8 (a little FT4), it got my digital DXCC and have credit for 100 countries confirmed digital on QRZ and eQSL. I just need a confirmation from an Alaskan station I worked a few days ago on 10M (that was a surprise) and a QSO and QSL from Maine (Hello, any amateurs there — almost never see a balloon.) to complete my 10M digital WAS. I have confirmed all states digitally on 15M, 17M, 20M, 30M and 40M. Due to high SWR on my DX-88 vertical, I don’t work 80M much at all.
It “does exactly what it says on the tin”
And, you don’t need a big all singing station to get heard, just a few watts will work the world!
Whether you love it, or hate it, FT8 seems to be here to stay for a while. Will it be around over 150 years from now like Morse Code (CW)-the original digital mode? or fade away to become about as commonly used as the Telex-Over-Radio (TOR) modes like TOR, PACTOR and other variants of those that were common in the 1980s and 1990s but are rarely heard today? Either way, for now, it has given a lot of Technician class licensees the incentive to upgrade to General and sold a lot of radios.
See ‘ya down the log!
Today the ARRL announced a change in its position regarding Field Day 2020 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
With many of the Field Day Class A and Class B Portable operations being cancelled, and with a corresponding surge in Field Day Class D Home Commercial Power operations, ARRL has temporarily revised the rule which has been limiting Class D Stations to working only Class A, B, C, E, and F stations.
For Field Day 2020 Class D Home stations will be permitted to work other Class D Home stations and receive QSO Points for those contacts.
Additionally, ARRL will modify the format of Field Day results posted in QST Magazine to show a Club Aggregate score. Club Members who choose to operate from Home as Class D or Class E will have their results posted under their own call sign as well as having their score added to the results for their club — in our case, Cumberland ARC.
If you are a member of the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club, and if you plan to operate a Field Day 2020 station from Home using Commercial Power, please review and or update your Logging Software to a version that permits Class D stations to work other Class D stations and earn points for those QSOs. The N3FJP ARRL Field Day Logging Software has been updated to version 6.3 which provides this functionality.
If you are a member of the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club who intends to operate Field Day 2020 please plan to submit your Field Day 2020 Entry to ARRL prior to the deadline, which is end -of-day July 28, 2020. When preparing your entry form please list your club as Cumberland ARC. Scores taken from all of the entries bearing the name of our club will be aggregated and reported.
There may be other activities that come to light in the next few days and weeks. Watch for updates.
A ham radio friend shared this information with me via email. While reading, I found the original source of several morse code shortcuts that are commonly used by ham radio operators. Hams call these shortcuts “prosigns”.
The information seems to have originated from the winfldigi group.io forum. Those are the people who should be credited with providing and sharing the knowledge reproduced below.
First, let’s look at the history of the prosign “AA” (di-dah-di-dah). Those above a certain age may recall when it was common practice to place a comma after each line of an address, or so it was taught in many one-room school houses. This practice, of course, long ago fell by the wayside.
When the nascent telegraph industry began developing standards for transmitting telegrams, they imported this then standard practice. It had the added benefit of acting as a prosign indicating where the address or signature line ended. Because the telegraph industry in North America used the original American Morse Code, the American Morse Code comma was used for this purpose (di-dah-di-dah).
When wireless telegraphy first emerged, American Morse was commonly used for radio communications. As a matter of fact, for the first decade of the 20th century, American Morse Code was the standard on the Great Lakes and for many coastal steamship companies. The reasons are obvious; there were plenty of well trained telegraph operators around. all of whom were proficient in the American Morse Code. Of course, eventually, the Continental Code (International Morse) was adopted as standard for maritime communications due to it’s international nature, issues of safety of life at sea, and so on. However, many of the earlier telegraph procedures were imported into commercial wireless telegraphy and Amateur Radio. Here are some prosign examples:
AR (di-dah-di-dah-dit) is actually “FN” in American Morse Code representing “FINISHED.” This was sent at the end of a telegram, and it continues to be used at the end of ham radio transmissions, which are essentially telegrams themselves which are just part of a conversation or group of message exchanges.
SK (di-di-di-dah-di-dah) is actually “30” in American Morse Code. In the Western Union wire codes, “30” represented “close of work.” It was commonly sent at the end of press stories, at the conclusion of transmitting a file of telegrams, or similar practices. Hams today use it to indicate the conclusion of a QSO in much the same way.
ES (dit di-di-dit) is actually the ampersand (&) in American Morse Code. Like many American Morse characters, it has an internal space, which is slightly shorter in timing than that used between individual characters. In this respect, it shares this characteristic with other Morse characters having internal spaces, such as C, R, Y, Z and O.
One still occasionally hears hams use the Morse letter “C” (di-di dit) to ask if a frequency is in use or to indicate it’s in use.
…..and so on.
So, when radio amateurs began handling message traffic, they simply imported the techniques of commercial operators and adopted the “AA” prosign, or American Morse comma to indicate the end of a line in an address.
The United States leads the world in having the greatest number of licensed amateur radio operators. There are about 763,000 among all US License Classes. About 8,000 of those have Novice licenses, 387,000 have Technician Licenses, 179,000 General, 38,000 Advanced and 150,000 Extra Class. About 160,000 people, not all licensed, are members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
The US is 4th place (behind Japan, China and Thailand) in the percentage of the total population holding an amateur radio license. It’s about 0.23%. A tiny number. And, for those looking for comparisons, more Americans have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in 2020 than the number of Americans who have a ham radio license.
Pennsylvania has about 24,000 licensed amateurs. That’s about 0.19% of the state population, so PA trails the national average. California not only has the greatest number of licensed hams among all US states at over 106,000, and also has the greatest percentage of the state population licensed at 0.27%. Texas has over 53,000 and 0.24% of the population licensed. Alabama has barely 12,000 but 0.25% licensed and Virginia has over 20,000 and 0.24% licensed.
How many of these licensed ham radio operators are active? No one really knows. Some are Silent Keys (ham radio jargon for deceased) whose licenses have not yet expired or cancelled. Many students got a ham radio license for extra credit in high school Physics class, and never really had much intention to ever getting a radio station on the air. Some started out with great intentions, then either left the hobby or put it on hold as life interrupted. Many of today’s “new hams” were licensed 20 or 30 years ago, left the hobby, and as they become “empty nesters” or look for a retirement hobby they return.
If you are an active ham, what are you doing to encourage others to become more active? If you are an inactive ham, is it involuntary, or have you simply not found the time?
If it is the later, What is required to get you back on the air? Stealth antennas? Portable operations? Satellite activity?
Even if you don’t have a ham radio station or antenna you can enjoy some aspects of the hobby by using EchoLink. EchoLink is PC-based software which uses the Internet in conjunction with traditional ham radio.
Our own club – the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club – conducts some of its activities using the Zoom Web Meeting application. If you would like to familiarize yourself with the type of activities that are of interest to today’s ham radio operators I invite you to connect into one of our Wednesday evening 8:00 p.m. get-togethers.
eMail AF3I@RadioClub-CARC.com to tell us what is on your mind and to request a meeting invitation with ID and Password. We are glad to help and will welcome you.
Check out our Know-How Resources tab for some ideas and more information!
Recently it was my privilege to participate in a presentation given by Jim Idelson, K1IR, on the topic of Tower Safety. Jim has performed research and analysis into how and why amateur radio enthusiasts suffer injuries and fatalities while erecting, maintaining, and removing antenna towers.
My brief summary of the presentation barely does justice to the effort Jim Idelson put into his research and the presentation. Hopefully, my words will capture your interest and you will seek the original material to develop and build your own understanding of the topic.
The presentations can be viewed on YouTube. You may wish to search for K1IR Tower Safety.
Or, this link will take you to a recording of a recent presentation given by Jim Idelson:
Short version — Amateur Radio enthusiasts are exposed to injury or death at a rate of about four times greater than experienced by commercial tower workers. Factors that .
Jim Idelson is the founder of the Zero Falls Alliance.
For more information about the Zero Falls Alliance and Tower Safety visit www.ZeroFalls.org Take the pledge.
Since retiring my wife and I have been regular visitors to the nearby Carroll Township (York County PA) park where we start our day by making a couple of traverses around the walking path (weather permitting).
The other day the skies were clear and temperatures were seasonally mild following an overnight thunder and lightning storm.
As we entered the third leg of our four-legged journey we noticed a portion of the path was littered with tree bark and splintered tree wood as if a tree had fallen in that spot. But, there was no tree lying on the ground.
Closer examination of the nearby trees showed one tree with an exposed bare wood scar that ran from top to bottom. Presumably this tree had been struck by lightning during the storm. The force of the lightning blasted all the bark off an approximately four inch wide strip of the tree and deposited the debris on the walking path.
I captured some photos showing the damage inflicted on the tree and the debris that rained down on the path.
Posted by: AF3I
Some people find memorizing things is easier if they associate it with something else. This is how a lot of acronyms come in existence and how “memory experts” sell their tips.
Their memorization techniques generally don’t work for me. If your name is Karen, your chosen career is a Nurse, and I cannot remember something as simple as that how does thinking of Karen as “Carin’” as in A Nurse Cares For Someone help? The steel sieve leaks enough!
The other night I was happily working FT8 (A popular digital mode. See the Know-How Resources tab for more articles on that topic). A call from a grid square I don’t have confirmed popped up. I looked at the call and did a double take — K3LA. I had to work that one!.
Why? I am a train enthusiast. The Nathan K3LA air horn is one of the most common and widely used locomotive horns in the USA. The Nathan K5LA, with 5 trumpets, is less common but even more impressive. The ham radio call sign K3LA belongs to Chester located in Sharon, PA. His QRZ page gives no biography info, so I have no clue if his call sign was an available 1×2 call, or perhaps Chester really likes Nathan air horns, or trains in general.
I was watching some other interesting call signs.
W0BLE. is that “Wobble”? “Wobbly?” or W0 Bessemer [&] Lake Erie [RR]?
M0WIT. “Mow it”? or “Mo’ Wit”?
K3GPS, a member of our own ham radio club and now a Silent Key, was famous for his love of technology. The call sign fit him perfectly.
What interesting calls have you seen?
See ‘ya down the log.