Brave Search

Brave Search Now in Public Beta

Brave Search is available in beta release globally on all Brave browsers (desktop, Android, and iOS) as one of the search options alongside other search engines, and will become the default search in the Brave browser later this year. It is also available from any other browser at search.brave.com.

Brave Search is different from other search engines because it uses its own index and follows different principles:

  1. Privacy: no tracking or profiling of users.
  2. User-first: the user comes first, not the advertising and data industries.
  3. Independence: Brave has its own search index for answering common queries privately without reliance on other providers.
  4. Choice: soon, options for ad-free paid search and ad-supported search.
  5. Transparency: no secret methods or algorithms to bias results, and soon, community-curated open ranking models to ensure diversity and prevent algorithmic biases and outright censorship.
  6. Seamlessness: best-in-class integration between the browser and search without compromising privacy, from personalization to instant results as the user types.
  7. Openness: Brave Search will soon be available to power other search engines.

Will it gain any traction with users? The Brave browser made quite the splash on its debut so it will be interesting to keep an eye on this search engine launcn.


Negative, Ghost Rider

I mowed the grass last Monday and noticed a lot more pollen kicked up than usual. So when I woke the next day with a sore throat I wasn’t surprised nor concerned. But the next day I started coughing and couldn’t stop. These generic symptoms could mean almost anything, but of course in the Age of Covid the klaxon of alarms were going off more than usual. Then I noticed I couldn’t smell anything either and that was a big oh-oh moment that led me to take a Covid test.

I’ve been fully vaccinated for months and have kept a fairly low-profile. I work from home and some weeks never leave the house. That had me perplexed as to how I could have picked up the virus and been one of a small-percentage of those vaccinated who still contract the virus.

That turned out not to be the case as the test result came back negative and apparently I’ve “only” got a case of bronchitis. But the ordeal caused me to lose the confidence I had been slowly gaining in resumption of normal life. I know, it’s irrational given how it all turned out, but I think I’m going to continue avoiding public gatherings and in general, other humans for a little while longer. Better safe than infected…


Orbital SSTV Event

“Amateur radio on Shuttle, Mir and ISS” SSTV event - June 21-26

The ARISS team will be transmitting SSTV images continuously from June 21 until June 26. The images will be related to some of the amateur radio activities that have occurred on the Space Shuttle, Mir space station and the International Space Station.

The schedule start and stop times are:

Monday, June 21 – Setup is scheduled to begin at 09:40 UTC (transmissions should start a little later).

Saturday, June 26 – Transmissions are scheduled to end by 18:30 UTC.

Downlink frequency will be 145.800 MHz and the mode should be PD120.

Those that recently missed the opportunity during the limited period of MAI transmissions should have numerous chances over the 6 day period to capture many (if not all 12) of the images.


Dark Age of HF

If it were possible to tally all the words written along with all the words spoken about Solar Cycle 25 they would easily fill the Grand Canyon. HF propagation has been so bad, for so long, that I’m convinced people now are just making up fake good news to keep from beating themselves in the head.

The earliest predictions seemed to indicate that 25 would be nearly the same or weaker than 24 which, as you may recall, was a total bust. And yet as we got closer to the magnetic flip indicating the Sun had started the new cycle random reports about how active and robust Cycle 25 was going to be began appearing like weeds.

The ARRL was out in front in their cheerleading effort by offering Cycle 25 swag. Who knows, if enough hams wear enough hats with “Cycle 25” on them Old Sol might take note and do a little dance?

So how is Cycle 25 treating you so far? It’s early days and who knows, maybe good times are just around the corner. The peak isn’t expected until about 2025 so there’s still time for big movement. There have been a few blips of increased activity noted, but to this point reality seems to indicate this cycle is tracking right along with the last one.

It looks (to me) like the peak may occur early, say late 2023 and then we will see a longer slide back down to minimum around 2030. I remain convinced we’re in some new era of solar decline that has yet to be named. It’s not a Maunder, but it’s not normal either. A century from now scientists who study such things will have a name for this long season of low solar activity.

Radio hams will simply refer to it as the dark age of HF propagation.


Right Feels Good

Chuck Lorre is an American television director, writer, producer, composer, and actor. One of the many sitcoms he produced was the Big Bang Theory. If you watched it you may have noticed those vanity cards that sometimes were filled with text, but flashed by too quickly on the screen with the credits at the end to read them.

I never paused the program to see what they said, but fortunately they are available for viewing online and I’ve found them amusing and sometimes thought provoking. Take this one for instance:

People prefer to be right. Right feels good. It’s empowering. Wrong feels awful. And this is by design. Evolution rewards being right and punishes being wrong. The foraging monobrows who looked up from the berry bush and said, “That’s a predator, run away,” had a better chance of passing on their genes than the Alley Oops who said, “No, it’s just a big pussycat with an unfortunate overbite.” (They were more likely to become virgins tartare.) In other words, wrong equals death. If you’re wrong enough, you get excused from the planet. This explains why it’s almost impossible to change people’s minds. In order to have a shift in perspective, one must first admit to being wrong. That’s extremely hard to do. History is filled with people who chose to cause unbelievable carnage rather than consider the possibility that they’ve misjudged a situation (I’m talking about you Imperial Japan, Deutschland über alles, and The Confederate States of America). Which is why I fear for our future. None of us are willing to be wrong. The very idea of it is inconceivable. Unless, of course, some enlightened soul came along and proposed an alternative to the polarity of right and wrong. Perhaps the idea of Neither. A middle way leading to peace, serenity and joy. And if we were again to use history as a guide, we would most likely decide the Enlightened One was wrong, then we would kill Him, then we would worship Him, then we would kill anyone who didn’t agree that ours was the true faith. Which would allow us to be… yep, you got it… righteous.

I think he’s spot-on with his assessment of humanity. It’s not good and it’s likely what will doom us, but at least we have an excuse. Blame it on evolution.


Other Arrangements

There was always considerable risk that the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet in 2023 would be called off. The list of possible reasons is long and begins with it being a very difficult place to go. Bouvet is a sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic. After all, it’s the second-most-wanted DXCC entity, behind North Korea for a reason.

Beyond that there could have been funding problems, health issues, bad weather, rising seas, global pandemic, etc.

But what killed the operation was somewhat unexpected:

Today, we were informed that Braveheart will be sold. As a result, Nigel Jolly will no longer be associated with the ship, our contract with the ship has been cancelled and our deposit will be refunded. This is a very disappointing development to all involved.

The Braveheart has been the primary transport for large-scale amateur radio DXpeditions for years. It’s importance has been such that the owner was inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame. When asked about contracting another charter the reply has been that other than the Braveheart, a suitable charter to Bouvet would cost a million dollars and that’s just not a “ham radio” kind of budget.

This reminds me of the days when amateur satellite enthusiasts finally had to come to grips with the notion that the launch industry had become big business and getting a payload into a high-earth-orbit could cost as much as $20 million dollars. The days of the free ride were over and it wasn’t long after that the days of amateur satellites in highly elliptical orbits ended too.

Satellite enthusiasts trudged thru a long and dark season before finally having to make other arrangements by moving on to other things that they could do in lower, less expensive to get to orbits.

In an oddly similar fashion, it seems reasonable to suspect the days of the big DXpeditions may be over for a season and serious DX chasers will also need to make other arrangements in order to fuel their passion. At least until a practical solution presents itself.


Long Live Field Day

With Field Day 2021 just two-weeks away things are gearing up for amateur radio’s largest annual operating event. Some think it’s an exercise in emergency preparedness, others think it’s a contest. Still others think it’s just a great time to hangout outdoors with friends enjoying radio, good food, and good fellowship. As it turns out, everyone is right as Field Day is all three things rolled into one summertime weekend extravaganza of radio fun and action.

Field Day is also the largest public relations event of the year for amateur radio. Local newspapers love to report on the activities of radio enthusiasts involved in this event. You can’t throw a rock and not hit another feel-good story about our hobby in the two weeks before and two weeks after Field Day. It’s a great opportunity to explain what we do for our community, and let’s face it, a bunch of hams operating equipment from tents with gasoline powered generators, solar panels, and make-shift antennas is precisely the kind of photos that editors love to publish.

As for me, I’ll participate the same way I have for decades. I’ll be in the backyard using batteries and QRP equipment with temporary wire antennas attempting to put 100 CW contacts in the log. When I’m done with that I take a shower and then head to the shack to listen to the cacophony generated by thousands of operators struggling through poor band conditions and mosquitoes, often in pouring rain while I enjoy a few cold beers in the air-conditioning. You may think I’m doing it “wrong” but the way I do it is why at the end of the long weekend I always earnestly proclaim, “Long Live Field Day!”.


Bitcoin EME

Radio amateurs from Brazil sent bitcoin thanks to the moon

Márcio Gandra, Rafael Silveira, Narcélio Filho, André Alvarenga and Paulo Jr. are five radio amateurs and bitcoiners from Brazil who, using a radio system, made the first bitcoin transaction using the moon. The intention is to demonstrate how cryptocurrency can be used even without the internet.

The P2P transaction was made between André Alvarenga and Narcélio Filho, located Belo Horizonte and Macacos-MG, respectively, but they needed two digital signatures to validate the operation on the network. At that time, Rafael Silveira and Paulo Jr intervened, both at more than 600 km away, in the state of São Paulo.

The distance between the participants made it impossible for the transmission to be made in a straight line, since it was carried out without internet and only using radio waves, so they used the moon as a kind of “mirror”, under a technique known in amateur radio like EME (Earth – Moon – Earth) or «Moon Bounce».


Ghost of DeSoto

My entry into amateur radio came in the same way as it did for so many others of my era. I was a shortwave radio listener. Enchanted with the glow of the dial in the dark and the exotic signals that were snagged out of the aether by my wire antenna. At some point, my tuning around uncovered other interesting signals that I learned were from radio hams.

Being fourteen, I turned first to my high-school library to see what more I could learn about these mysterious radio operators. Info on this topic was scarce and there was no Internet to assist in my research, but the school library had one book, CALLING CQ that was written by Clinton B. DeSoto and published in 1941.

I checked that book out once, then twice, then a dozen more times.

The adventures of shortwave radio operators captured my imagination and from that day I wanted to become one of them.

(Click to Tweet this article to your friends).

I fell in love with that book and couldn’t bear the thought of losing it so I checked it out one more time just before I graduated, reported it lost, and paid $2.50 to the library.

That book sits within arms-reach to this very day.

In fact, now I have three more of them for a total of four. All first edition, hardback books. I’ve collected these others online from old library sales and other collectors. Just this week I learned of an antique book dealer who had one in-stock only this one had been autographed by the author. I had to have it even if it did cost a hundred times more than what I paid my high-school library more than forty years ago.

(The book was signed ‘73 to Adolph Gross’ one of the two owners of Terminal Radio Corporation in New York City in those days)

In case you didn’t know, DeSoto was the fellow who imagined the DXCC program into existence. He worked for ARRL as a QST editor and had earlier authored the seminal work on the history of amateur radio in, 200 METERS AND DOWN: The Story of Amateur Radio.

I’ve collected a lot of other Clint DeSoto memorabilia over the years too including personal letters, photos, and interviews with family members. I even have a video of him from the 1940’s.

I’ve been working on a book about DeSoto for years and hope to publish it not long after I retire. His is a fascinating story with a real twist and not so happy ending. Nevertheless, he introduced me to the hobby and probably countless others thru the magic of his words and while his place in history is secure, his life story deserves to be told too.

And it will…


CQ Greenland

OX3LX operating from various locations on Greenland’s southwest coast including IOTA NA018, NA220, and NA151 now thru July 10.

His primary focus is 6m and 4m but he expects to be on HF too. It’s not a DXpedition but a work trip so he will only be QRV when not working. Best chance for contact is in the morning around lunch and after dinner (local time = utc-2) and on weekends. See recent spots for him and additional QSL details.

Greenland is number 217 on Club Logs Most Wanted list.

Greenland is the world’s largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.


ISS Repeater Status for Field Day

ISS repeater remaining on until after Field Day

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has decided to keep its ARISS InterOperable Radio System (IORS) in crossband repeater mode until after ARRL Field Day ends.

Good news for everyone!


Back to the Future

My fascination with certain old mechanical things led to the acquisition of another typewriter. A 1937 Smith-Corona portable that was in good condition, but still required some work to make it pristine. Fortunately, I know a guy in Cincinnati who lovingly restores typewriters and his work will be complete soon.

This isn’t a museum piece, I intend to put it to work on day one to write the Great American Novel - and filling out QSL cards. I can just imagine carrying it into my favorite coffee shop, removing it from it’s leather case, and filling the place with a clackity noise from yesteryear.

I wonder if they will ask me to leave?

The 1930’s was a great period for discovery and invention and many things crafted in that era is valuable to me. And as it turns out, this is the same typewriter that Clinton B. DeSoto, W1CBD used to write his classic book ‘Calling CQ’ in 1941 so I like to think there may be a little mojo in this machine…


Finally Friday

The unseasonably cool weather seems to have surrendered to a tropical invasion. The lawn seems happy enough now that I’m having to mow it twice a week. I keep telling myself this is just a phase and eventually it will quit raining and the lawnmower will get some relief. Still, I’m happy to have replaced the HVAC a few months ago as the system is keeping things cool and dry on the inside.

That new QRP CW transceiver from WA3RNC arrived yesterday and I’ve had it on the air briefly for a quick shakedown. No luck working anyone yet but I’m making the attempt with a temporary antenna and conditions on 20 and 40 were abysmal during the half-hour I managed to set aside to play with it.

This weekend will provide a better opportunity to see how it plays and to capture some thoughts and results about it.

I had ordered a couple of short mobile whip (40 & 20) antennas with the notion that I would use them on the roof of the Jeep which would eliminate setup time in the field. I have a big magnetic base that should be perfect. But no, nothing is that easy. The fitting on the mag-mount I have isn’t compatible with these antennas.

DX Engineering is to my ham radio hobby what Lowes is to my home improvement. I can’t seem to complete any project, home or hobby, without multiple visits and multiple purchases…


Long Distance

My kids never seem to tire of hearing about the days when we would “cheat” the phone company by calling collect using a fake name as a coded message. That was how we signaled our in-laws that we had safely arrived back home after the 500 mile drive from their house to ours.

As soon as we would get home we would make a collect call for “Phil Johnson” and the operator would place the call to our in-laws and say, “I have a collect call for Phil Johnson will you accept the charges?” My wife’s Mom would reply, “he’s not here right now”, and the call would end with no charge to either of us.

Given that a five-minute long-distance charge back then might add ten bucks to the monthly phone bill, I’m not really sure who was cheating who in this phony transaction. Of course, that’s no longer an issue in this modern world of unlimited calling. No one even refers to “long distance” anymore as that no longer exists.

Whenever I think about those days I can’t help but remember one ham radio friend who lived down the street from us when I was a kid. He was one of those hams who assisted my entry into the hobby by showing me his shack and explaining his use of radio.

His entire use for amateur radio was so he could maintain regular contact with his brother, also a ham, who had moved thousands of miles away to Oregon. He figured that a two-hour monthly phone call would set him back at least a hundred bucks and therefore ham radio was a cheaper communication option.

I got his point, but still question his math. He had a fairly modern (for 1975) transceiver and a tri-band beam at 50-feet which surely set him and his brother back more than the long-distance charges. (He’s been dead for decades now and I never asked).

I’ve since learned of many people who got into ham radio just to avoid excessive phone bills. I hope most of them got more enjoyment out of it than just that, otherwise much of that crowd probably bailed out with the advent of free long-distance leaving me to wonder if advances in personal communication technology have helped or hurt our little rebel alliance?


WA3RNC CW Transceiver Kit

I caught a note on a mailing list yesterday that said WA3RNC was taking orders for his new TR-25 CW Transceiver Kit so I pulled the trigger and placed an order. It’s a dual-band (40/20) five-watt CW transceiver in an attractive format.

And there’s this:

…a compact but powerful 2-band CW transceiver kit that uses no tiny pushbuttons, and without those seemingly endless and hard-to-remember back menus. There is a knob or a switch for every function!

Not having to do a deep dive thru stacked menus to find some function gets more important (to me) with each passing year. I’m amused by the flurry of mini-handbooks that appear for sale with the release of most new transceivers these days. I figure if the cool new “thing” requires purchase of a cheat sheet the user interface design was a failure.

But, hey, that’s just me - you do you.

The TR-25 has no internal auto-tuner and that’s usually a show-stopper for me. In a world that includes the KX3 and KX2, both with excellent internal auto-tuners, who needs new transceivers without them? But I’m making an exception in this case as the features seem to outweigh my objection and my Elecraft T1 external tuner could use a little work.

The new transceiver is supposed to begin shipping on June 7 and I look forward to its arrival and the opportunity to see if it works as good as it looks.


You've Got Mail?

Starting on June 29, all applications filed with the FCC must include an email address for FCC correspondence.

Seems simple enough, but it’s a big change that comes with opportunity for unintended consequences. For instance, expecting the government to maintain the privacy of its citizens by not using this non-voluntary harvesting of citizens email addresses seems a stretch, even if the ARRL did get the agency to agree to keep the email addresses private.

Beyond privacy, hams should do a quick evaluation of the reliability of their email service and dump anything considered substandard. That’s because if the FCC sends you an email message that can’t be delivered for any reason, your license will be at risk:

On or after June 29, a valid email address must be provided with each application, and must be kept current by filing a modification application as necessary. Under the amended Section 97.23, “The email address must be an address where the grantee can receive electronic correspondence. Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct email address.”

There are bound to be a few licensed hams who don’t maintain an email account and for these the ARRL suggests using the email address of a relative. But really, do you trust your amateur radio license to your teenaged granddaughters Yahoo email address?


About Last Night

The Hoot Owl Sprint took place Sunday evening. This well-liked event was highly anticipated back in the day, but like the QRP movement it’s popularity has faded a little over time. I’m not sure why QRP-ARCI reduced it to a one-hour operation this time around though they recently polled members about contest and sprint activities and maybe this was a suggestion from the peanut gallery?

No matter, I skipped it as another more urgent matter required my full attention.

My wife and I have become fairly rabid Winnipeg Jets hockey fans. We’ve traveled around the US (pre-COVID) to see them play in the States and even spent one week in Winnipeg a few years ago where we got to see them play two games at home.

Last night they played game three of their best of seven series against Edmonton in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I might have made an exception and gotten on the air but going into last night the Jets were leading the series 2-0 with the third game going back to Winnipeg. Game 3 was going to be critical as Edmonton has proven to be not only the better team this season, but they seem to really enjoy beating the Jets.

We pay for an NHL TV package that permits us to watch most all of the regular season Winnipeg games, but the playoffs move to other networks. Watching games called by non-familiar announcers and commentators is often frustrating as our team never seems to garner much love from them.

So when Edmonton jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period last night, the announcers were tossing up ominous warnings that while Winnipeg had held the Oilers in scoring the previous two games, tonight they would face the full-wrath of the much vaunted scoring duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, (they are league leaders), and for the first fifty minutes that was indeed the case.

Midway thru the final period Edmonton was leading 4-1 with less than ten minutes to go in the game. And then, Eureka! The Jets scored three times in a span of just over three minutes and suddenly the game was tied and headed to overtime. Just a few minutes later the Jets scored again to finish the comeback and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the playoff series.

Obviously it ain’t over until it’s over and Edmonton could still turn this thing around. They are that good. But for right now we’re savoring the moment and looking forward to game four. Of course we would like to see the Jets close it out tonight, but even more than that, we’re looking forward to seeing those smug smiles and snarky comments wiped from the faces and lips of those TV commentators…

And that’s why I wasn’t in the Hoot Owl Sprint last night.

GoJetsGo!


Ham Radio in Real Life

I attended a tailgate about fifteen miles south of here yesterday. Notable because it was the first in-person ham radio event I’ve attended since the pandemic shutdown last year. Being an outdoor event there was little cause for concern, and I’m willing to guess that most who attended were vaccinated anyway. It sure was nice to see the locals again without Zoom.

At the same time, and on the other side of town, another group was gathering at nearby Mounds State Park for a group POTA activation.

The takeaway from all this is that the pandemic seems to be retreating and things are starting to look a little more normal. The entire episode remains far from over, but it feels like the heavy cloud of concern is beginning to lift.

Because of that, I went ahead and registered for the W9DXCC convention that will take place in September in the Chicago area. Brenda and I attended in 2019 and we were looking forward to another visit the following year, but then came the virus.

This seems to bode well for the fall and winter hamfests, especially for those up north. Concerns remain that localized flare-ups could become a problem in many southern states where more people are rejecting the vaccination.


Changing Weather

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it” - Charles Dudley Warner

My own opinion about the Spring weather so far is that this year seemes cooler than normal. But the actual data tries to make it out to be a lot closer to normal than my faulty recollections. No matter, warmer weather is coming and while that’s okay with me, I’d prefer not to move from 60F days to 90F days over the course of a night or two. There’s a good reason a person eases slowly into a hot bath and the same should go for weather. Nevertheless, the leap to 88F just a few days from now according to the 10-day forecast brings me no joy. The farmers who have already planted probably don’t see this as troubling as I do…


Giddy Up!

With the virus continuing to improve it seems several local ham radio events might actually take place - and not via Zoom!

The local QRP gang is planning a group POTA activation from a nearby state park on May 22nd:

“I have scheduled a Parks On The Air activation at Mounds State Park on May 22. Just in case the weather does not agree the Woodland Shelter is reserved and I have it for the entire day. You are all invited to stop by and take part or just watch the activity. Bring other hams / friends with you. If you want, bring your own rig that you have been wanting to try out in a portable situation. The antenna that I am planning for the activation is a 40 and 20 dipole. The shelter has 110 v available”.  

I’d like to join the group in the park, we haven’t met in person since the pandemic shut-down. But another radio club just a few miles south of here is planning a tailgate on the same day.

I’m not sure I can make both of them (and get all the weekend chores done) so a tough decision will need to be made.

Difficult as it may be to decide, I’m pleased as punch that normal life is returning to the hobby and one way or another, the face-to-face fellowship with like minded radio folk is set to resume!


Lynn Lamb, W4NL, SK

SEDCO W4DXCC Co-Founder, Noted DXer Lynn Lamb, W4NL, SK

ARRL Life Member Lynn Lamb, W4NL, of Maryville, Tennessee, died on May 10 following a lengthy illness. He was 83. Lamb co-founded SEDCO W4DXCC DX and Contest Convention in 2005.

Licensed in 1954, Lamb retired from a career with the US Department of Defense (US Navy and Air Force). He was a founding member of the National Capitol DX Association (NCDXA) and belonged to Potomac Valley Radio Club, the International DX Association, and other amateur radio organizations. He was 339/371 in the DXCC standings.

Lamb was a member of the CQ DX and University of Tennessee Amateur Radio Club Halls of Fame. Survivors include his wife Rosie, KA4S. A memorial service will be held at a later date.


GB2RS News via QO-100

GB2RS News via QO-100

“GB2RS can now also be heard via the QO-100 amateur radio satellite. The transmission is provided by Keith, GU6EFB at 0800UTC, using upper sideband on 10489.900 MHz, which is in the mixed-mode section of the narrowband transponder. QO-100 is a geostationary satellite with a footprint that covers Europe, Africa and India, so this news bulletin is a specially-adapted international version. The RSGB would like to thank AMSAT-DL for their kind cooperation in making this broadcast possible.”

I made myself a reminder about this when I first saw the news item because I’m a frequent listener of QO-100 via streaming audio and thought it would just be cool to give a listen.

I could have downloaded the news but where’s the fun in that?

This way requires the audio to be uploaded to the satellite transponder with the resulting signal being received by the Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall and streamed around the world to little old me me via WebSDR.

That’s certainly more satisfying than just downloading a file!

Alas, that didn’t work out because the weak-link in that long chain of communication was me. I must have glossed right over the part where this was scheduled for broadcast at 4am my time.

Ouch! Maybe I’ll set an early morning alarm to monitor this one of these days, but having to be awake at that hour has caused me to slide this one down a few spots on my “to-do” list…


Ei2iP Satellite Ground Station

I noticed a tweet by Ei2iP today that showed his satellite ground station. He’s done a nice job of integrating an IC-9700 with his Mac mini, a couple of monitors and AzEl rotor. He was using MacDoppler for satellite tracking and MacLoggerDX for logging.

There’s an IC-7300 on the desk for good measure.

This is almost identical to my own setup though I keep futzing around with the station layout. I asked him what he was using to control the rotor and he replied that chore was handled by a GSB-232B interface from JZG Electronics which wasn’t familiar to me.

You can follow the link above for additional details. My interest was because the rotor interface was the last component added to my satellite station and I went with the S.A.T. by CSN Technologies. I’m pleased as punch with the unit I purchased, but this seemed an oddity to me because long ago we almost always built these interfaces from kits provided by AMSAT or TAPR.

Those options didn’t seem to exist when I started the current satellite station build so I purchased off the shelf. There are several options available, but it’s good to know that there’s at least one more available too, even if it’s in Europe.


Saving the Radome

Saving the Radome

To secure the large dish’s future and replace the deteriorating radome, the MIT Radio Society spearheaded a fundraising effort and immediately got to work. Building on the momentum of a previous successful fundraising campaign among Radio Society alumni that helped refurbish their equipment on the roof, they further mobilized the MIT community of alumni and friends by organizing a second campaign.

The students also pulled together a successful grant application in record time to Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), a non-profit private foundation supporting amateur radio and digital communications science, resulting in ARDC’s largest-ever philanthropic contribution, made in memory of the organization’s founder Brian Kantor. This lead gift brought the MIT Radio Society across the finish line to successfully meet their fundraising goal.

Great story with a happy ending thanks to the folks at ARDC.


PSAT2 Comes Alive

In a message to the AMSAT-BB mailing list, Bob Bruninga, WB4APR reported on the current status of PSAT2:

PSAT2-1 DTMF users

PSAT2 appears to be operating normally after awakening on 26 April from a 9 month sleep. All VHF and UHF functions are intact. The APRS digi is off to encourage experimentation with other modes. Such as DTMF Grids, PSK31, SSTV relay, HF voice SSB uplink, UHF FM down.

The goal of this mode is to allow anyone with ANY radio to do a digital communication without having to have a specialized APRS data mode. All you need is a DTMF memory to store your callsign digits.

Additional information on the satellite is available here.


Backyard to the Rescue

I had hoped to slip into the backyard this evening to participate in the monthly Spartan Sprint. That might still happen though the forecast says to expect thunderstorms this evening. No complaints though, we need the rain and I did just lay down the first application of weed and feed on the lawn over the weekend.

The Adventure Radio Society runs the popular Spartan Sprint and recently announced resumption of the annual Flight of the Bumble Bees outdoor operating event:

“In concert with today’s National Arbor Day, The Adventure Radio Society is announcing the return of the Flight of the Bumble Bees on the last Sunday of July. This year it is July 25. Applications for field stations. Bumble Bee number requests will be opened on Friday, June 25 - one month before this year’s BB event.

After being cooped up inside for much of the winter and with so many virus-related shut-downs, we’re all probably a little stir-crazy at this point. I just read a report about vacation rentals being tough to find for the summer and apparently many of the State and National Park camping areas will be in short-supply too.

Good thing my backyard continues to be wide open for low-powered radio adventure and I hope to enjoy the summer out there in my own little wilderness - with the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom just 20 yards from the main radio action!


A Third Gone

Hard to believe that a third of this year has expired so quickly. While most ham radio events remain virtual it feels like we may be turning a corner on this virus thing. Between the vaccinations and warmer weather we can move around outdoors with less concern for health and safety and that’s a welcome change. I even met a fellow ham last weekend (both of us fully-vaccinated) in an actual coffee shop!

The last month has been a blur. Busy with a number of projects at home, some pressing AMSAT duties (bylaws amendment) and an out of town project for work chewed up all of April. I’d like to take another week of vacation despite having enjoyed a week off at the end of March, but that doesn’t seem likely. Apparently, it’s going to remain busy right up to the day I retire - and I’m told it gets even busier after that.

a few other things…

Apollo Astronaut Mike Collins died this week at the age of 90. Collins is the guy who remained in the command module orbiting the Moon while Armstrong and Aldrin went for a stroll on its surface. In the news of his passage was mention of an auto-biography aptly titled, Carrying the Fire first published in 1974. I downloaded the Audible version and began listening on my drive home yesterday. That trip was only 4.5 hours so I haven’t finished it, but I’ll finish it over the next few days. Great story, more about it when I get done.

The demolition of Hara Arena is nearly complete. Check this video.

MacDoppler version 2.38 was released as was MacLoggerDX version 6.33.

An updated TQSL configuration file for LoTW was released (config.xml v11.14) on April 22nd that adds the Q65 mode.

Have you taken advantage of the free PDF book download, YASME, The Danny Weil and Colvin Radio Expedition by James D. Cain, K1TN yet? It might not always be available…

Dave Sumner, K1ZZ to Step Down from IARU

At its April 5 meeting via Zoom, the ARRL Executive Committee (EC) nominated past ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, to become the next Secretary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). The incumbent Secretary, David Sumner, K1ZZ, has announced his intention to step down on July 1. ARRL International Affairs Vice President Rod Stafford, W6ROD, explained that ARRL, as IARU Secretariat, has the right and obligation to appoint a successor. Harrison currently serves as IARU Assistant Secretary. The ARRL Board of Directors ratified his nomination on April 16.


ARISS-USA Volunteer Search

Having established the independent ARISS-USA non-profit organization recently, the group now seeks volunteers to fill many of its operational goals.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, Inc. (ARISS-USA) is seeking volunteers to support our mission:  

To provide and operate Amateur Radio systems on International Space Station (ISS) and elsewhere to inspire, educate, and engage youth and communities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) and to support ISS backup communications.  ARISS-USA, is a 501 (c) (3) charitable, educational and scientific non-profit that was recently incorporated in the state of Maryland in the USA.   

Descriptions of each of these roles are given in Article 8.6 of the ARISS-USA bylaws.

Interested? Take a look at the press release and list of positions and required qualifications at the ARISS-USA site.


2021 Contest University

CONTEST UNIVERSITY Live via Zoom Webinar (free) – Thursday, May 20th

Click above to register for the day-long 2021 Contest University that would have taken place during Hamvention weekend. Take a look at the course outline. Slide presentations will be available for download on the day of the event. Four ICOM Radios will be given away during CTU at random times. You must be registered in Zoom and present during the random time drawing.


Visalia Registration Open

72nd International DX Convention

Pre-registration for the 72nd International DX Convention is now open. Due to the virus, the event will be conducted online via Zoom. It’s a two-day event, May 15-16. Pre-registration is required but the event is free.

Check out the program schedule and the list of door prizes.

See you there!