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I AM a Ham May 9, 2007

Posted by truthspew in amateur radio.
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So occasionally The Tonight Show has some redeeming value. In this case it put morse code (Or as we hams call it, CW for Continuous Wave.) up against test messaging.

The gentleman sending the morse code is using what is called paddles. Paddles are sweet but I’d have rather seen this done with a plain old fashioned key.

Here’s the video:

And as a ham who did his 20WPM code without issue, I must say that working CW is lots of fun.

For example, a while back I got a QSL card from a ham in Germany. The card stated it was a CW contact but I haven’t worked CW in years.

So apparently someone needs to improve their copy skills.


FCC drops morse code requirement for amateur radio December 16, 2006

Posted by truthspew in amateur radio, FCC, morse code.
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Was surfing slashdot when I found an article stating that the FCC had abolished the the morse code requirement necessary for a licensee to access the HF bands.

I was first licensed as a no-code technician in 1992. Over the course of a year I practiced my morse code using Gordon West’s practice tapes. Matter of fact a camping trip in July of 1992 gave me ample opportunity to study as it did nothing but rain for four out of seven days. Came back from the trip and passed my elements 1B and 3A to get my general class license. Then studied for element 4A which would result in my advanced class license, and finally took element 1C and 4B to get my extra class license.

The 1n elements were morse code, 5WPM, 13WMP and 20WPM.

What this does is give me rights to gripe. My buddy is an extra who only had to do 13WPM code and I rag on him about that constantly. Now we’re going to have extras on the HF bands with absolutely no knowledge of morse code.

What is this world coming to? Instant gratification for all.

Something unexpected in todays mail December 2, 2006

Posted by truthspew in 2m, 70cm, amateur radio, QRZ, QSL.
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So I get home and check the mail. What to my surprise should appear but a QSL card.

A QSL card for you non-hams is a way to acknowledge a contact. I’ve got quite a few from people I’ve conversed with over the years. But anyhow, this wouldn’t be so unusual except for one little fact. I haven’t been active on the amateur radio bands for a good five years now. Well, with the exception of every now and then firing up on 2m or 70cm bands.

My first thought was, “Uh oh, someone is using my callsign on the HF bands (High Frequency, then there’s VHF and UHF, I’ll let you figure those out. A hint though, VHF is where the 2m band lives (144-148MHz) and UHF is where the 70cm band lives (420-450MHz).

While IM’ing with a fellow ham buddy, I noticed that the card indicated that we ‘conversed’ on 26-11-06 at 14:28GMT, which in my time zone would be 9:28AM. It happened on the 20m band on 14.001MHz and my RST (Readability, Signal and Tone) was 599 which is pretty much excellent.

The conversation mode was CW (Continuous Wave) or morse code for the uninitiated.

I’m afraid that DL6IAN didn’t copy a callsign correctly, else I’d not have gotten his QSL card. But here’s the thing, he needs RI to get his Worked All States certificate, so I’ll send him a nice QSL card. Least I can do for the guy, particularly since he did spring for postage and included an SAE (Self Addressed Envelope).

Oh, a bonus:

The formula for getting the band wavelength in meters is 300/f where f is the center frequency of the band. So in the case of the 2m band which runs 144-148MHz I’d take 146MHz as my center and 300/146 = 2.05m. Other bands don’t work so nicely, 70cm is actually more like 66 or 67cm. But we abhor lots of decimal places if we can help it, so we round it up to70cm.

70cm btw is ab out 27.6 inches. That’s the distance it takes for a complete sine wave to occur.

Can you tell we hams like acronyms? And to my regular readers, sorry I went a little technical there. Had to do it though and you likely learned something reading this post.