The National Institute of Standards and Technology Radio Station WWV will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in October 2019. The oldest continuously operating radio station in the world deserves a
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (NCARC) have reached an agreement and are working together to organize the event.
NIST will focus on the plans for Tuesday, October 1, when they will host a recognition ceremony and an open house at the radio station north of Fort Collins.
NCARC will operate a special event amateur radio station, call sign WW0WWV, on the WWV property starting September 28, and going 24-hours a day through October 2. The goal is to make as many U.S. and world-wide contacts during the 120-hour period as possible, using multiple bands and multiple modes on at least 4 simultaneous transmitters. The effort will require hundreds of volunteer operators.
YORK, ME – The WS1SM team ventured to the summit of Mt. Agamenticus on May 19th, meeting for breakfast at Maine Diner, in Wells, before making their way up the mountain. Among those who participated were Greg Dean K1ME, CJ Carlsson W1CJC, Brad Brown KC1JMH, Eric Emery KC1HJK, and myself. It was my second activation from the summit, having been part of the 2013 team, but for the others, it was their first SOTA activation from Mt. Agamenticus (W1/AM-381).
Being a former ski area “The Big A,” Mt. Aggie is more developed than most of the mountains we hike to. There is a summit house, that was once a ski lodge, well groomed hiking trails, a parking area, and remnants of an old T-bar chair lift, among other relics. We set up our stations on a picnic table on the northern side of the clearing at the top.
Among the equipment used were my Yaesu Ft-857d and BuddiPole rotatable dipole, which I used on 14 and 21 MHz, CJ’s Icom IC706, which was paired with a 40m dipole strung in the trees, and various VHF radios. Greg brought a yagi for 144, which made for some interesting contacts, and we also used a TYT TH-9000D and J Pole for 220 MHz. Brad KC1JMH also took the opportunity to try his partially finished QRP kit on the air for the first time.
The weather was cloudy and windy at times, but otherwise pretty nice compared to the several days of rain that preceded the expedition. The only rain we experienced was a little bit on the drive toward the mountain, and some during setup, but it didn’t last. Conditions on the HF bands were much worse, however, and contacts were slow going with only a handful on SSB and CW. We made the majority of our QSOs on VHF, making one summit-to-summit contact, and one as far away as Boxboro, MA on 2 meter FM Simplex.
Photos courtesy of Eric Emery (copyright mark), and Brad Brown
For more information about WSSM SOTA expeditions, click here.
Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise June 22-23 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.
The public is encouraged to attend on Saturday, June 22, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more than 100 years, amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the internet. Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day last year.
“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise, and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” says club Vice President, CJ Carlsson, of Portland, ME.
During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League. Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities, and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites, and digital technology.
“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Carlsson.
Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.
“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries, or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” says club member, Tim Watson, of Saco. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we’re ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts, and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”
The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency and members also support the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN operations in Gray, ME.
“Since 2014, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, has recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and hopes to finish on top again in 2019,” says Carlsson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”
Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. For more information about Field Day, and amateur radio in general, please visit: http://www.mainehamradio.com
Amateur Radio has never been considered a mainstream hobby, but it has had its fair share of time in the spotlight of American popular culture – the most notable being when the hobby is featured on television or film. We’ll take a look back at some of ham radio’s more memorable appearances from the past, and a few recent ones.
When I was a boy, I used to love reading detective books and watching movies of the same genre. One of the first ones I remember that featured ham radio was a film called Nancy Drew, Detective, starring Bonita Granville (Warner Bros., 1938), where the teenage sleuth’s friend, Ted, showed off his radio shack and demonstrated the art of making a QSO. It played a minor role in the plot of the story as well. Ted even had a call sign – W8YZR, by which we can infer that Nancy’s fictional home town of River Heights must be located somewhere in the Midwest.
Another film from around the same era is The Men of Boys Town (MGM, 1941). In this sequel to the popular film Boys Town, Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney), has frequent conversations with his friend Pee Wee (Bobs Watson) over the airwaves. Whitey transmits from the home of his adoptive parents, while Pee Wee operates from the Boys Town club station.
A scene in Orson Welles’ famous rendition of The War of the Worlds for Mercury Radio Theater, which aired on October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System, features an amateur radio operator saying: “2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York. Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone . . . 2X2L”
The Glass Bottom Boat (MGM, 1966), starring Doris Day, who has a “20-foot antenna,” shows her corkboard full of DX QSL cards above her Collins and Marine radio gear. Day uses a radio to talk to “Pop” (played by real-life ham Arthur Godfrey, K4LIB).
Based on true events, The Red Tent (Paramount, 1969), tells the story of the dirigible Italia, which crashed over the Arctic ice cap after flying over the North Pole in 1928. Authorities believed no one could have possibly survived the accident and soon gave up searching for survivors, until a young Russian radio amateur, Nikolai Schmidt (Nikolai Ivanov), heard on his modest radio set the faint SOS signals sent from the wreck site by Roberto Biagi (Mario Adorf). Thanks to the information provided by Schmidt, the rescue of the survivors was organized. The Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, first man to reach the South Pole, perished during the rescue operation.
Another film from around that time, The Anderson Tapes (Columbia 1971), starring Sean Connery who portrays a recently paroled thief that decides to rob an entire apartment building, while unknown to him, the government is watching and listening to every move via telephoto lenses and shotgun mikes. His character disables all telephone lines, but a young boy, in a wheelchair, is able to summon help via his ham radio. In the end, the government destroys all tapes because they had no legal business placing him under surveillance.
Ham radio enjoyed a renaissance in popular culture in the 1990’s. Some movies from the time include Pump Up the Volume (New Line Cinema, 1990), where a teenager’s father provides him with amateur radio equipment to keep in touch with his friends on his native east coast when his job transfers him to Arizona. However, the teenager uses the equipment to start a pirate radio station promoting his cynical views on American life.
The science fiction film, Contact (Warner Bros., 1997), starring Jodie Foster playing Dr. Arroway, opens with the heroine operating a ham radio transceiver as a child, using the callsign W9GFO. She later becomes a researcher working in SETI.
The Sweet Hereafter (Alliance, 1997) starring Ian Holm, features a scene where a man is sitting at a table, holding a pair of communication headphones up to one ear. On the wall is a plastic QSL card holder full of cards.
In the mystery-science fiction film, Frequency (New Line Cinema, 2000), John Sullivan (played by Jim Caviezel), and his father Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) use ham radio to communicate; due to unusual aurora borealis activity John is able to communicate via ham radio with his father 30 years in the past.
So far, we’ve looked primarily at movies, but ham radio also been referenced several times in television and short film as well. One of the more-subtle references appears in the Disney cartoon, Donald’s Better Self, (Walt Disney, 1938), where Donald Duck is pursued by both angel and devil versions of himself. In one scene, the devil duck calls CQ from a mailbox as he passes by.
In the popular TV show, ALF (1986-1990), an Alien Life Form crash lands at the Los Angeles home of Willie Tanner, who is a ham.
In an episode of the Munsters (1964-1966), Grandpa Munster, uses an army surplus BC-654 field radio as a ham station.
In an episode of The Loretta Young Show (1953-1961), a young couple are snowed in at a ski chalet when a boy with pneumonia shows up at their door. Rita (played by Loretta Young), uses a ham station at the chalet to summon medical assistance.
In a double episode of The Waltons (1971-1981), Jim-Bob uses ham radio to help two young guests speak to their mother in England.
In an episode of The Jetsons (Hanna-Barbera 1962-1963), George’s son, Elroy, uses an interstellar version of ham radio to chase DX.
In an episode of M*A*S*H (Fox, 1972-1983), called “Springtime”, Henry uses ham radio so Father Mulcahy can marry Klinger to his girl back in the USA. The other “ham” that gets in the middle of the QSO with her recipes is Mary Kay Place.
Similarly, in an episode of McHale’s Navy, one of McHale’s crew members finds out about the birth of his baby back home via a phone patch from a Stateside ham radio operator.
On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno that aired May 13th, 2005, they held a showdown between Morse code ops Chip K7JA of Yaesu USA and Ken K6CTW and “the fastest text messagers in the country” to see who could transmit the message “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance” faster. The Morse code operators won by completing the message first.
The main character of Last Man Standing (Fox, 2011-Current), Mike Baxter, (played by Tim Allen), is a ham radio operator, and ham radio is figured into many episodes – one of the most memorable is a scene where Mike retreats to his basement ham shack during Thanksgiving dinner to talk on the radio while his family squabbles upstairs.
Club member, Brad Brown KC1JMH, let us know recently that, in addition to the character, the show’s executive producer is a real licensed ham and he and several other crew members are on the air every Tuesday night at 23:45 UTC (6:45p EST) as “KA6LMS”. They often work 20 meters, and post where they are on dxsummit.fi. They also post the station log on Facebook and send out cards. This coming Tuesday, they plan on being active on D-STAR REF 012A during the same time slot.
Amateur Radio has also been prominently featured in print. One book that I remember distinctly was a Hardy Boys mystery called “The Short-Wave Mystery” (Grosset & Dunlap, 1945). The events that set the plot into action are when the Hardy Boys hear a mysterious call for help on their shortwave radio set: “Help — Hudson”. This happens while their father, Fenton Hardy, is investigating nation-wide thefts of radio equipment by a group of criminals called “The Hudson Gang”.
Ham radio is also featured in an Archie Comic, Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure (1997), and in at least two Dilbert cartoons. In one of them, Dilbert’s date hints that Dilbert’s sex appeal would be increased if he got his ham radio license. In another, one of Dilbert’s team members says that she got her ham radio license in a workshop held by Dogbert.
Looking back, a lot of these rekindled old memories. At the time I first encountered many of them, I had no idea what amateur radio was really like, and remarkably, many offer an accurate portrayal. This was by no means a complete list, nor was it meant to be, but hopefully you’ve had as much fun revisiting them as I did.
T’was the night before Christmas,
And all through two-meters,
Not a signal was keying up
Any repeaters.The antennas reached up
From the tower, quite high,
To catch the weak signals
That bounced from the sky.
The children, Tech-Pluses,
Took their HTs to bed,
And dreamed of the day
They’d be Extras, instead.
Mom put on her headphones,
I plugged in the key,
And we tuned 40 meters
For that rare ZK3.
When the meter was pegged
by a signal with power.
It smoked a small diode,
and, I swear, shook the tower.
Mom yanked off her phones,
And with all she could muster
Logged a spot of the signal
On the DX Packet Cluster,
While I ran to the window
And peered up at the sky,
To see what could generate
RF that high.
It was way in the distance,
But the moon made it gleam –
A flying sleigh, with an
Eight element beam,
And a little old driver
who looked slightly mean.
So I though for a moment,
That it might be Wayne Green.
But no, it was Santa
The Santa of Hams.
On a mission, this Christmas
To clean up the bands.
He circled the tower,
Then stopped in his track,
And he slid down the coax
Right into the shack.
While Mom and I hid
Behind stacks of CQ,
This Santa of hamming
Knew just what to do.
He cleared off the shack desk
Of paper and parts,
And filled out all my late QSLs
For a start.
He ran copper braid,
Took a steel rod and pounded
It into the earth, till
The station was grounded.
He tightened loose fittings,
Cranked down modulation,
Installed lightning protection.
He neutralized tubes
In my linear amp…
(Never worked right before —
Now it works like a champ).
A new, low-pass filter
Cleaned up the TV,
He corrected the settings
In my TNC.
He repaired the computer
That would not compute,
And he backed up the hard drive
And got it to boot.
Then, he reached really deep
In the bag that he brought,
And he pulled out a big box,
“A new rig?” I thought!
“A new Kenwood? An Icom?
A Yaesu, for me?!”
(If he thought I’d been bad
it might be QRP!)
Yes! The Ultimate Station!
How could I deserve this?
Could it be all those hours
that I worked Public Service?
He hooked it all up
And in record time, quickly
Worked 100 countries,
All down on 160.
I should have been happy,
It was my call he sent,
But the cards and the postage
Will cost two month’s rent!
He made final adjustments,
And left a card by the key:
“To Gary, from Santa Claus.
Then he grabbed his HT,
Looked me straight in the eye,
Punched a code on the pad,
And was gone – no good bye.
I ran back to the station,
And the pile-up was big,
But a card from St. Nick
Would be worth my new rig.
Oh, too late, for his final
came over the air.
It was copied all over.
It was heard everywhere.
The Ham’s Santa exclaimed
What a ham might expect,
“Merry Christmas to all,
And to all, good DX.”
Originally published in the March/April 2014 issue of The Radiogram
In a recent QST article entitled “More Views on Pileup Misbehavior,” the author expressed his opinion that pileups are more unruly now than ever before, and the reason for this is that hams who are calling a DX station have either a genetic predisposition toward conflict, or a complete disregard for the rules. I don’t know about about any of you, but my own experience from recent pileups doesn’t quite match this description. Sure there are always those few who continue calling even if the letters in their call sign are nowhere near what the DX station came back to, or when working split, there’s the occasional few who don’t get the message and call on the DXer’s transmit frequency instead. But these are rare exceptions. The biggest menace lately is the increasing number of what I call “Band Cops.”
Have you ever wondered who these people are? The fact is, we don’t know because they never identify. They sit on a DX calling frequency, (obviously without any intention of contacting the DX, since they don’t operate split). Furthermore, they have stations that most of us would probably envy, because their signals are almost always 20db over S-9! This makes you question why they don’t just work the DX station and move on, but instead they park themselves there for an extraordinary length of time, just waiting for the opportunity to pounce.
But why? What authority do they believe they have to “police” the bands, and for who’s benefit? Certainly not hams like me who are trying to work the DX but can’t hear them because there’s 3 idiots who are screaming “he’s working split! Up! Up! Up!” over and over and over. Most of the time I don’t even hear the so-called offending station – if there even is one! As far as I’m concerned, these “band cops” are causing intentional interference, and are the only ones breaking any laws.
What is the Solution?
Now, in order to best answer this question, let’s first identify the disorder that is at the root of this problem. “Band Cops,” we know, have or show a feeling of patronizing superiority. In psychology, this is called a Narcissitic Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, this is one of the three most difficult disorders to treat. It is definied as an ongoing pattern of grandiosity and need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. It should be noted that it’s three times more common in males than females. (which seems to hold true, since I’ve never heard a YL Band Cop). These individuals have an obvious self love, and they believe they are more knowledgeable and indeed an expert in “the rules of DXing,” among other things. Furthermore, they are usually shocked when they are not praised for their efforts.
The QST article, which blames inexperienced and “unruly” hams for “Pileup Misbehavior” is unfortunately the kind of condescending and unhelpful nonsense that is actually the most damaging behavior in amateur radio today. It seems to me that if this were truly an issue, then the easiest way to fix it would be through education and support – something it doesn’t offer. It is more likely that this particular article, in a misguided attempt to deflect blame, is written by a card carrying “Band Cop” himself.
Since I’ve now shocked the “Band Cop” community by not praising their efforts, I will now attempt to explain my reasoning. The biggest being that you’re doing it all wrong! So, to help assist you in your future band-policing efforts, I’ve come up with a few simple rules:
Rule Number 1 – For a split operation, spend most of your day listening and transmitting on the DX sending frequency. On CW, if somebody calls on this frequency, right away, using your Vibroplex at 5 wpm, send: VP.. UG.. NP… UP (until you get it right).
This has three benefits:
A. Others waiting to work the DX station will be forever indebted to you for informing the offending station that the DX is working split.
B. The offending station will be grateful.
C. You will get some needed code practice so you can get over that 5 wpm hump.
Rule Number 2 – (For those with CW and Voice memory keyers, this will be easy). All you have to do is pre-program some macros with the words: “UP” and “LID.” For the more advanced operators, you can try “SPLIT” or “YOU IDIOT, WORKING SPLIT.” And don’t forget the simple, but effective “FU.”
Using the memory keyers for your days policing will save your voice. Should you happen, by chance, to have a QSO… you might need it.
There is no question that DMR technology for hams has moved past the early-adopter phase and is now well into the mass adoption phase. The combination of an open source protocol and the availability of inexpensive, mass-produced Chinese DMR radios (in some cases for as low as $109 with a color display and free programming software), has made this possible. In addition to inexpensive new radios, there are a number of used, first generation Motorola and Hytera DMR radios for sale in flea markets. These radios perform just as well as the current models, but have less memory.
D-STAR, Fusion, and to a lesser extent NXDN, are all established digital voice modes, and are not going away anytime soon, but in many areas they are not experiencing any meaningful growth when compared to DMR. This is especially true for the Northeast. In New England alone, there are close to 80 active DMR repeaters, and this number is growing every day.
Because of Yaesu offering repeaters for $500 for a period of time, there were a few installed in the area (in most cases replacing existing FM repeaters), but from my experience, it’s been extremely rare to find anyone using C4FM, and in some cases these repeaters are operating in just FM mode, so the digital part isn’t even an option. It’s hard to say exactly why Fusion or D-STAR hasn’t taken off, (last time I checked there were only 3 D-STAR repeaters in Maine), but it probably has a lot to do with price. D-STAR and Fusion radios aren’t cheap, and without some assurance that there will be a repeater within range to use them on, it’s hard to justify the cost.
Unlike the other modes, there is also something unforced and organic about DMR. Its cutting edge, and yet, it still feels like ham radio. A lot of members of our club were early adopters, and have also explored uses for DMR in both the EmComm environment, and for SKYWARN. For SKYWARN, especially, the DMR-MARC network has been an extremely useful tool to gather weather reports from areas that are outside the range of typical FM repeaters.
For more information about DMR, click here to check out our DMR Intro web page.
Waylon McDonald KC1HJN (background) operates the HF station, while Eric Emery KC1HJK operates the VHF station at NWS Gray, ME
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
On Saturday, December 2nd, the WX1GYX team participated in SKYWARN Recognition Day from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Activities started at 8pm on Friday evening (0000Z Saturday), and continued for 24 hours.
Now in its 19th year, SKYWARN Recognition Day is a popular on-air activity that was developed by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.
SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017 was a fun event and perhaps our best so far! WX1GYX made 315 QSOs in total, on 4 different bands, including 44 different states, and 29 different NWS Offices/SKYWARN Clubs!