Category Archives: Ham Radio

It’s Field Day weekend 2016: find a local event, have fun

2016 Field Day Logo

If you live in North America and have an interest in becoming a ham radio operator, this is the weekend to check out what amateur radio is all about, and meet local radio enthusiasts.  

It’s Field Day!

What is Field Day?  I’ll quote from the ARRL, who sponsors the event:

“ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

Field Day is a picnic, a camp out, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN!

It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public. For many clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar.

The contest part is simply to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate our radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions.”

GOTAMany Field Day sites have a GOTA (Get On The Air) station where non-licensed individuals are welcome to play radio. It’s a fantastic way to try your hand at transmitting with a little guidance and encouragement from the more experienced. Indeed, even if there is no GOTA station, you will often be invited to try out the mic.

You’ll find that ham radio operators are very welcoming on Field Day–after all, spreading the word about the fun of amateur radio is what it’s all about. Indeed, I’ve shown up unannounced to a number of Field Days over the years; once I even got some serious radio time with the Charlotteville Amateur Radio Club while on vacation in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

This year, I’m joining the Québec Amateur Radio Club (Club Radio Amateur de Québec) and I’m looking forward to it very much!

Keep in mind that there are many shortwave listeners among the amateur radio community; indeed, many hams became interested in the hobby through SWLing.

The ARRL has made it quite easy to find registered Field Day locations in your region. Click here to find a local Field Day event near you–and have a great Field Day!

Video: Yaesu FT-1000MP Repair

Yesu-FT1000MP-Reapir

Remember Mr. Carlson’s excellent video of the Sony CRF-320 restoration? Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ken McKenzie, who shares a link to the latest Mr. Carlson video–a Yaesu FT-1000MP repair:

SDRuno: SDRplay introduces a free native app for the RSP

(Source: SDRplay Press Release)

SDRplay-Logo

SDRplay is pleased to announce the official release of SDRuno for the RSP. SDRuno is the new name for the RSP compatible version of Studio1, the rights to which we obtained and announced on 28th April. SDRuno contains native support for the SDRplay RSP and no extra plugins are required. Third party hardware can also be supported via the ExtIO interface, but with reduced functionality.

SDRuno provides a rugged and flexible, high performance SDR receiver capability and boasts some excellent features:

  • Multiple ‘Virtual Receivers’ which allow for simultaneous reception and demodulation of different types of signals within the same receiver bandwidth.
  • A selectivity filter with an ultimate rejection greater than 140 dB.
  • A unique distortion-free double stage AGC with fully adjustable parameters.
  • Multiple notch filters with BW adjustable down to 1 Hz, Notch Lock feature.
  • A unique synchronous AM mode with selectable/adjustable sidebands, dedicated PLL input filter, and selectable PLL time constants.
  • SNR (stereo noise reduction), featuring a proprietary noise reduction algorithm for stereo broadcast.
  • AFC for FM signals.
  • Calibration for receiver frequency errors.

Over time, we plan to add many more features to SDRuno to enhance the user’s experience of this very powerful piece of software. This software runs on Windows and we don’t yet know how easy it will be to migrate it to other platforms but this is something we will be investigating.

SDRuno will be made freely available to all current and future users of the RSP – to download a copy – simply go to http://www.sdrplay.com/windows.html

Our support for SDRuno in no way lessens our commitment to support HDSDR, SDR Console, Cubic SDR or ANY other software solution where the authors are willing to work with us. We fully recognise that many people have strong preferences for particular pieces of software and we do not want to do anything to undermine the options that people have to use their favoured software packages. Indeed, our view is quite the opposite. Our objective remains aim to have our hardware platforms support any and every SDR package out there. This of course may not be possible, but it is our philosophy and part of the ethos of our company.

About Studio 1:

Studio1 was developed in Italy by SDR Applications S.a.s. and has hundreds of happy customers around the world. Studio 1 is known for its user friendly stylish GUI, CPU efficiency and advanced DSP capabilities, including features not available on other SDR software packages.

www.sdrapplications.it

About SDRplay:

SDRplay limited is a UK company and consists of a small group of engineers with strong connections to the UK Wireless semiconductor industry. SDRplay announced its first product, the RSP1 in August 2014

www.sdrplay.com
Email: admin@sdrplay.com

“When everything else fails, amateur radio will still be there—and thriving”

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(Source: ARS Technica)

by Rupert Goodwins

It’s a good time to be technical. Maker communities are thriving around the world, tools and materials to create and adapt are cheaper and more powerful now than ever, and open source hardware, software, and information mean that if you can think it, you can learn how to do it and then make it happen.

For one group of technological explorers, this is more than just a golden age of opportunity: it’s providing the means to save one of the oldest traditions in electronic invention and self-education, one that helped shape the modern world: amateur radio. That matters.

Radio amateurs get a sweet deal, with effectively free access to many gigahertz of the same radio spectrum that companies pay billions for. They’ve earned it. Throughout the history of electronics, they’ve been at the borders of the possible, trying out ideas that commerce or government deem impossible or pointless—and making them work. One example of hundreds: Allied military comms in World War II needed a way to reliably control the radios used by front-line forces, replacing tuning knobs with channel switches. Hams had the answer ready and waiting: quartz crystal oscillators. (That’s part of computing history too—you’re probably using about ten of them right now.).

[…]Then, there’s backup. Take the European HAMNET, for example. That’s a four-thousand-node high speed data network covering a large part of continental Europe and providing full IP connectivity at megabit speeds. It connects to the Internet—ham radio owns 16 million IPV4 addresses, believe it or not—but is independent of it, doing its own robust and flexible routing. If the Internet was to go away, HAMNET would still be running. The same’s true of nearly all ham radio infrastructure: when everything else fails—power, comms, roads—ham radio is still there, and these days it can be a full-fat digital medium.[…]

Continue reading at ARS Technica…

Steve notes the ITU-R Recommendations on Radio Noise

SX-99-Dial

Commenting on our post about the FCC Noise Floor Inquiry, SWLing Post contributor, Steve Yothment writes:

One of the definitive documents on Radio Noise is the ITU-R Recommendation on Radio Noise, version P.373-12. This (latest) version is dated 07/2015, so it’s only a year old. You can download it [as a PDF] here. It has a lot of info on natural and man-made radio noise.

My favorite graph from the document is shown below:

Graph

It shows the level of radio noise vs. frequency for good and poor conditions. It can be rather surprising how noise, even under the best conditions, can be quite excessive on shortwave frequencies. For example, the best case noise level for 10 MHz is about 30dB above the Johnson Noise level. (That’s the noise level from just a resistor at room temperature.) That’s why the noise level in your shortwave receiver’s speaker gets so much higher when you attach the antenna!

That is fascinating, Steve! It’s no wonder we struggle with noise issues–even in the best of times, it appears.