Category Archives: Articles

Icom IC-7300: Field Day reports?

Icom-IC-7300-Front

I’m curious: any Post readers use the new Icom IC-7300 on Field Day?

While I gave Icom’s new transceiver a very positive review, it was based on operation at my home QTH. There were no significant contests in progress during my review window.

Field Day has, arguably, some of the toughest receiver conditions out there.  If a transceiver/receiver performs well during Field Day’s dense signal environment, without overloading or distorting, it’s a good receiver.

I’m very curious if anyone tested the IC-7300. I assume someone took it out to play on Field Day!

Please consider commenting with your report!

BBG, take note: Shortwave radio distributes smartphone apps

smart-phones

Many thanks to Andy Sennitt, who posted a link to this Mission Networks News article on Facebook.

Imagine being able to download an app…without the internet.

Well, it’s finally happened, thanks to shortwave radio.  Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), take note:  Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH), a Christian organization that distributes Bibles in parts of the world where they are difficult to distribute, have a free smartphone app called Bible.is.  The only problem is, the app wasn’t available in countries where there is no access to the Internet nor where authorities block the app…at least, until now. By using Trans World Radio’s Guam shortwave transmitter site, they have successfully “downloaded” this app to multiple smartphones in Thailand:

[D]ue to a major recent breakthrough by Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH), they were able to deliver the Bible to an unconnected smartphone using shortwave radio towers over 3,000 miles for the first time ever.

Troy Carl, Vice President of FCBH, explains, “Yesterday, we were able to transmit file casting data packets from Guam all the way to Thailand using shortwave frequencies, and we were able to do that in partnership with Trans World Radio. So it was really quite exciting! Basically what we did is created one-way internet access turning that tower into a super WiFi router. And that’s quite a story because it’s never been done!”

To put it another way, Carl wrote this description in a recent post:

Just like the one you use everyday in your house, where you connect a data source (internet cable) and a power source (you plug it in) and the little antennas broadcast internet around your house (say 500 ft.) and you connect to it with your phone to read/listen/see the data it’s transmitting.

In Guam, we took a HUGE antenna, (supplied by Trans World Radio), hooked up a data source (a Bible.is app device), turned the power on (250kw) and sent the data into the air bouncing it off the ionosphere over 3,000 MILES!

Our team in Chang Mai Thailand, hooked up to this giant router with a proprietary decompiler. Then sideloaded the Bible.is app with all its content to multiple smart phones using a simple wifi broadcaster!

As I wrote in, Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future?, I’ve always believed that the shortwave medium could be leveraged for international digital/data communications, and should be, especially in countries under repressive regimes such as North Korea. In my article, I focused on Radio Canada International (RCI), which was then dismantling their shortwave transmitter site:

[B]roadcasters should not dismantle their transmission sites as Canada is currently doing. Not only is the current service originating from these sites a more reliable form of emergency communications than the Internet, should a national disaster befall us; not only do they continue to provide a broad-spectrum mode of diplomacy; but should future digital communication modes find a way to take advantage of the HF spectrum as is now under discussion, this would be most unfortunate.

Imagine a wi-fi signal with a footprint as large as several countries, digital devices with tiny fractal antennas that receive this signal containing rich media (e.g., audio and video)––these are not science fiction, but highly plausible uses of these transmission sites, even within the next decade…

FCBH’s innovation is simply a first step in this direction. If it turns out that this method is both accessible and affordable, this could truly pave a new road on the mobile information highway.

URE: Radioaficionados available as free download

RUE-Spain-HamRadio

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Spain’s national amateur radio society the URE has made annual compilations of its magazine Radioaficionados available for free download

PDFs of the magazine are available from 2001 to the end of 2015.

To download each year click on the Descargar buttons at
http://www.ure.es/component/docman/cat_view/110-revistas/156-.html?orderby=dmdate_published

URE website in Google English
http://tinyurl.com/SpainURE

Guest Post: Communications Service Monitors – A Radio Hobbyist’s Perspective

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


Communications Service Monitors – A Radio Hobbyist’s Perspective

Mario Filippi, N2HUN

(All photos courtesy of author)

Over the past few decades I lusted after a communications service monitor for my radio hobby but prices were always prohibitive; several thousands of dollars for a new model and tens of thousands for high-end ones. Not being a working professional in the communications field made it difficult to justify purchasing a piece of equipment whose price tag rivaled a down payment on a house. So, fast forward a few decades later and now life and times have fortunately changed for the better; the house is paid for, the job is secure, the income is finally steady, life is good financially, and to boot many of these older service monitors manufactured by Ramsey, Motorola, Wavetek, IFR/Aerotek, Cushman etc., are currently being sold on the pre-owned market at a fraction of their original decades-ago hefty prices. These service monitors are finally in financial reach of electronics hobbyists who will find many uses for these former electronic workhorses that toiled many years in the industry and now, in their golden years are being retired and becoming available for a second life via reuse/reincarnation/repurposing/reinvention.

Work of Art: Author’s Ramsey COM3 Service Monitor

Work of Art: Author’s Ramsey COM3 Service Monitor

So what exactly is a communications service monitor, or “service monitor” as the folks in the trade refer to? Well it is an instrument for servicing AM and FM radio equipment, although some units also have the ability to service SSB equipment. The service monitor is basically a highly accurate and precise receiver and low-power signal generator all in one allowing a technician (or electronics hobbyist) to perform service, repair, or alignment of radio equipment. Most of us have had the experience of owning a malfunctioning radio whether it is an AM or FM broadcast radio, two-way radio such as a CB (Citizen’s Band) radio, pager, or a ham radio transceiver, and that is where a service monitor proves its value and utility because now you, the hobbyist, can perform the work yourself.

My Friend’s Ramsey COM3010 Service Monitor, Big Brother of the COM3

My Friend’s Ramsey COM3010 Service Monitor, Big Brother of the COM3

As a radio enthusiast (shortwave, ham radio, satellite communications) for over half a century, I’ve definitely owned more radios than shoes; everything from AM, FM, shortwave receivers to CB radios to ham transceivers, all in different stages of health and vintage. For years I relied on standalone RF signal generators, audio generators, frequency counters, and CTCSS decoders to aid in rehabbing, troubleshooting, and aligning each of the many units that paraded past my radio shack. Then one day a friend showed me his service monitor, the Ramsey COM3010, another venerable workhorse still in production, and it was a defining moment; the time had come to invest in one.

Aligning a Uniden President Washington CB Radio Prior to Owning a Service Monitor

Aligning a Uniden President Washington CB Radio Prior to Owning a Service Monitor

My Ramsey COM3, purchased second-hand from an Internet auction site for $400.00 is a no frills, basic unit without the features found in more sophisticated service monitors having built-in oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, frequency sweeping ability, and frequency scanning ability. The COM3 was in production from the late 1980’s to around 2003 at a price of around $2500 (ca. 1989) and was considered a workhorse in its time, weighed 13 pounds with the internal battery, and was easily luggable from site to site. It covers from 100 KHz to 999.999 MHz and has become an invaluable tool in my radio shack for measuring a transmitter’s operating frequency and deviation, measuring receiver sensitivity, S meter calibration, and checking CTCSS tones on my two way VHF/UHF radios. My unit evidently had an easy former life as the only needs were to replace the internal battery, perform an external cleaning, check transmitter and receiver accuracy and check accuracy of the internal audio generator. Interestingly, Ramsey Electronics (www.ramseytest.com) still services and calibrates COM3s.

Vintage Tempo One Transceiver Restoration Was Made Easier with the COM3 on the Bench

Vintage Tempo One Transceiver Restoration Was Made Easier with the COM3 on the Bench

So, if you’ve been dreaming of owning your own communications service monitor either as a hobbyist or small repair radio shop proprietor then start looking as there are plenty of used units out there; you’ll pay top dollar when buying from a commercial vendor but at least you’ll get some form of warranty. If instead you travel the same road I did, via an Internet auction site, there’s lots more risk involved, but the plus is you’ll save big if you do your homework by checking past auctions, seller feedback scores, and determining what price the market is bearing by looking at the winning bids. In closing, the COM3 owner’s manual is available on line by doing a simple search, and a review of the Ramsey COM3 by Larry Antonuk which appeared in the August 1989 issue of 73 Amateur Radio Magazine is also available as a free download.


Mario, thank you for another brilliant guest post! I always learn something new from your articles. By the way: I have that same Nye Viking straight key–it obviously pairs beautifully with the Tempo One!

One week of Hamvention, Air Force Museum, Wright Brothers and National Parks On The Air

DSC_4449I returned home last night from my week-log Dayton Hamvention trip around 8:30 PM.

The Hamvention actually ended at 1:00 PM on Sunday, May 22, but my buddy Eric McFadden (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC) and I stayed Sunday night in Dayton, and Monday night at Eric’s home in Athens, Ohio.

After packing up our Hamvention booth (for Ears To Our World) on Sunday, we made our way to the nearby National Museum of the USAF–the largest aviation museum in the world. We visit the museum every year–and every year I discover something new.

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This BC-348 can be found in one of the museum’s B-29 displays.

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In June, the Air Force museum is actually opening a fourth building which will house an additional 70 aircraft in four new galleries.

If you’re an aviation buff–trust me–the  National Museum of the USAF is worth a pilgrimage to Dayton, Ohio.

NPOTA activations

Monday morning, Eric, Miles and I packed up, ran a few errands on Wright Patterson Air Force Base, then made our way to our first National Parks On The Air activation: the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (HP11) and North Country National Scenic Trail (TR04) “two-fer” at Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center in Dayton, Ohio.

Eric worked CW on 20 meters and I worked SSB on 40 meters using the LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver (which I’m currently reviewing) and my recently-purchased Hardened Power Systems QRP Ranger.

For all of my Monday NPOTA activations, I used the EFT Trail Friendly antenna I purchased at the Hamvention:

EFT-Trail-Friendly-Antenna-QRP

The EFT Trail Friendly Antenna made set-up a breeze: simply throw a line into a tree, hang the end of the antenna, then hook up the other end to the feedline/transceiver. No antenna tuner is needed for 40, 20 or 10 meters once the antenna is tuned for resonance. It packs up into a small bundle that easily fits in my radio go-kit (see photo above).

The LD-11/QRP Ranger/EFT antenna combo worked amazingly well and made for very quick deployment.

LNR-LD-11 and QRP Ranger NPOTA

I can easily fit the LD-11 transceiver and QRP Ranger on a foldable metal chair (my make-shift field table!).

My buddy Eric, I should mention, is typically on the leaderboard for NPOTA as he’s an avid QRP field operator.

WD8RIF-20M-Vertical-NPOTA

Eric (WD8RIF) operating NPOTA with his field-portable vertical HF antenna.

You can follow Eric’s activations on QRZ.com or his website.

Eric's field-portable HF vertical packs up into this small canvas bag.

Eric’s field-portable HF vertical packs up into this small canvas bag.

We had a tight NPOTA activation schedule to meet Monday, but after packing up from our first sites, we took 30 minutes to stop by the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and The Wright Cycle Co. museum in downtown Dayton.

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Well worth the short visit! Next year, I’ll plan to revisit both museums when I have more time.

Next, we made our way to the second scheduled NPOTA activation site: the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (MN18).

NPOTA-QRP-LD-11-QRP-Ranger

Despite not having my antenna very far off the ground (my antenna line fell down one branch in the process of hanging) I still managed to work a pile-up of stations from Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Connecticut, Michigan and Indiana. After Eric and I racked up a number of QSOs, we packed up our site in haste and made our way to the final activation of the day: the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (HP15). We arrived as the Park Ranger was getting in his car to leave for the day!

At Hopewell, I managed to deploy the EFT antenna much higher off the ground. I worked a small pile up of stations from all over the region which, to my surprise, included two radio friends (Ed and Eileen) in Franklin, NC. Eric also worked blogging buddy John Harper, AE5X on 20 meters CW (got your message, John!).

NPOTA-QRP-LD-11-QRP-Ranger-Hopewell

All in all, it was a fantastic day to be outdoors and on the air.

Of course, a side benefit of doing National Parks On The Air activations is that you get to check out all of these amazing park sites.

Without a doubt, this was one fun-filled and radio-centric Hamvention week! It couldn’t have been better.

NPOTA Log

Part of my log sheet for NPOTA HP11 and TRO4 “Two-Fer” activations. Not bad for such a tight schedule!

Thank you

Many thanks to my friends Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), Mike (K8RAT) and Christine (KM4PDS) for volunteering to manage our Hamvention booth for Ears To Our World. It was a record year for collecting donations. Many thanks to all of you for the support!

I’d also like to thank the SWLing Post readers who stopped by to visit our new location in the Silver Arena–it was great seeing everyone!

Now that I’m back home, I essentially have one week of emails and comments in my backlog to sort before hitting the road again rather soon. I appreciate your patience as I catch up. If you don’t hear back from me soon, it’s okay to give me a nudge! 🙂