Maritime emergency ham radio recording

maritime-exchange

An SWLing Post reader recently sent me the following YouTube video–a recording Hanz (W1JSB) made on the 20 meter ham band several years ago. Here’s his description from YouTube:

Several years ago I was tuning around the 20 meter amateur radio band and heard this lively, engaging, and impressive exchange on the maritime mobile frequency, 14.300 MHz.

Vessel ‘Elusive’ at sea in the North Pacific was being followed by another ship. The occupants felt threatened that it might be a pirate, so they called for help on the HAM
radio.

Volunteer radio operators around the country worked together to communicate and relay messages with the Coast Guard in California. They also came up with some brilliant ideas to stay safe and get direct help as soon as possible.

The following is a recording from my location in New Hampshire.

– Hanz W1JSB

Many of us who’ve been long-time SWLs and ham radio operators have heard interesting broadcasts and exchanges on the HF bands. Please feel free to comment with your notable listening moments!

P5/3Z9DX: Successful ham radio activation of North Korea

NorthKoreaMap(Source: Southgate ARC)

Ham radio activation of North Korea

The ARRL reports the first amateur radio operation from Pyongyang, N.Korea in 13 years took place on December 20.

In an unexpected turn of events, Polish DXer Dom Gryzb, 3Z9DX, who has been visiting North Korea this week in advance of a planned Amateur Radio operation early next year, came on the air from the most-wanted DXCC entity around 0000 on December 20. P5/3Z9DX has been active on both 20 meters and 15 meters SSB only, and a few hundred stations have been fortunate enough to work him.

Propagation was unfavorable due to a geomagnetic storm that seems to have affected his efforts on 20 meters. He also reported that he faced extremely high ambient noise levels in Pyongyang. He ran 100 W to a vertical antenna mounted on a metal fencepost some 7 feet above the ground among government high-rise buildings.

Read the two ARRL stories:

North Korea on the Air for First Time Since 2002
http://www.arrl.org/news/north-korea-on-the-air-for-first-time-since-2002

P5/3Z9DX Concludes Demonstration Operation from North Korea
http://www.arrl.org/news/p5-3z9dx-concludes-demonstration-operation-from-north-korea

The annual “Santa Net” on 3916 kHz

Santa-Radio-Vintage

If you have a shortwave radio with SSB mode, you too can listen to the Santa Net on 3916 kHz LSB every night until Christmas starting at 01:30 UTC (7:30 PM CST). Of course, if you’re an amateur radio operator, you can talk to Santa as well!

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Santa Net 3916 kHz

Larry Shaunce WD0AKX provides a reminder that at this time of year kids can talk to Santa at the North Pole via amateur radio

Every year before Christmas, there is the Santa net on 3916 kHz on the 75 meter ham radio phone band 7:30 CST or 0130 UT. Round up your kids, grand kids, or neighbor’s kids and let them talk to Santa at the North Pole.

Watch Talk To Santa By Ham Radio – It’s The Santa Net On 3916 kHz!

Scott’s Elecraft KX3 Go-Box

Many thanks to Scott (AK5SD) who shares the following photos and bill of materials for his custom Elecraft KX3 go-box:


IMG_0531 IMG_0534

IMG_0532 IMG_0535 IMG_0537 IMG_0536

Bill of materials

The panel was custom laser cut by Front Panel Express. I have the CAD
file and I’m willing to share it with anyone who wants to reproduce my effort.

Amazon.com
Case B&W Type 1000 Outdoor Case with SI Foam
You won’t use the foam, so you can buy the version without it if you can find it cheaper.

Battery Anker Astro Pro2 20000mAh Multi-Voltage (5V 12V 16V 19V)
Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank
Avoid look alike batteries and the next generation model from Anker. The newer Anker
battery is only capable of delivering 1.5A from the 12V supply. Two look alike batteries
I tried did not have the auto-off feature that the Anker does.

Vetco.net
ACC2 and I/Q Jacks 2 x 2.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (PH-666J-B)
Phone, Key, and ACC1 3 x 3.5mm Stereo Jack Panel Mount (High Quality) (PH-504KB)
Mic Jack 1 x 3.5mm 4 Conductor Jack Panel Mount (PH-70-088B)
12V IN and CHG IN 2 x 2.1mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2112)
12V OUT 1 x 2.5mm DC Power Panel Mount Jack (PH-2512)

You also need plugs and wire for interconnects. I bought some 2.5mm (CES-11-5502)
and 3.5mm (PH-44-468 for stereo, PH-44-470 for 4-conductor) audio cables with right
angle plugs and just cut them to use for the signal lines going to the KX3. I did the same
thing for the 2.5mm (PH-TC250) and 2.1mm (PH-TC210) power cables. A couple of
caveats are in order. The Phone, Key, and ACC1 interconnects require low profile
right angle connectors. The cables I listed above won’t work. Vetco part number
VUPN10338 will work. The power cables I’ve listed above use 24 gauge wire. This
is a little light, but the runs are small so I think it is OK. You can use higher gauge
cables if you can find a source.

USBfirewire.com
USB OUT USB 2.0 Right Angle Extension Cable (RR-AAR04P-20G)

Digikey.com
L Brackets 8 x Bracket Rt Ang Mount 4-40 Steel (612K-ND)
These L brackets are used to mount the KX3 to the panel and the panel to the case.
For mounting the KX3, I use a little piece of stick on felt on the bracket to protect the
KX3’s cabinet from damage. Replace the KX3’s screws with #4-40 Thread Size, 1/4”
Length Steel Pan Head Machine Screw, Black Oxide Finish (see below). For the panel
mounting, use #6-32 Thread Size, 3/16” Length self tapping sheet metal screw. You
may need to cut the tip off in order to not puncture the outside of the case.

RG316 BNC Male Angle to BNC Female SM Bulkhead Coaxial RF Pigtail Cable (6”)
This is not the original interconnect I used for connecting the KX3’s antenna output to
the panel. However, I think it is a better option for new designs. The caveat is that you
will need to verify the hole in the panel matches the bulkhead connector on this cable.
There will be a little loop in the cable when you are done, but that is fine.

Micrfasteners.com
Screws for Sound Card 2 x FMSP2510 – M 2.5 x .45 x 10mm
Screws for KX3 Bracket Mount 4 x MSPPK0404 – 4-40 x 1/4
Screws for Countersunk Panel Holes 8 x FMPPK0403 – 4-40 x 3/16
Screws for USB Connector *** 2 x FMPPK0406 – 4-40 x 3/8

I’m pretty sure these are the right length for the USB connector. I am doing it from memory.

Amazon.com or eBay.com
Soundmatters foxL DASH A Wireless Bluetooth Soundbar (OPTIONAL)

Sonoma Wire Works GJ2USB GuitarJack 2 USB Portable Audio Interface (OPTIONAL)
(Make sure you get the USB model, not the 30-pin model.)

This is optional if you want a built-in sound card interface for a waterfall display using iSDR. Make sure to eliminate the holes in the upper left corner of the panel if you are not installing. You will also need 2.5mm x 10mm screws to mount this to the bottom of the panel (see below).

bhi Compact In-Line Noise Eliminating Module (OPTIONAL)

In my opinion, the KX3’s noise reduction is totally ineffective for SSB communications. This external noise reducing DSP is one solution, albeit an expensive one, to that problem. It is only for SSB, not CW or digital modes. It is also available from GAP Antenna Products.

IMG_0530


Scott: you have done a beautiful job here and have spared no expense to make a wonderfully-engineered and rugged go-box. No doubt, you’re ready to take your KX3 to the field and enjoy world-class performance on a moment’s notice. 

Though I’ve never used them personally, I’ve noticed others who have taken advantage of the Front Panel Express engraving service–certainly makes for a polished and professional front panel.

Again, many thanks for not only sharing your photos, but also your bill of materials which will make it much easier for others to draw inspiration from your design!

AK5SD_QSL_Card

Speaking of designs, when I looked up Scott on QRZ.com, I noticed that he also sports a QSL card (above) designed by my good friend, Jeff Murray (K1NSS). Obviously, Scott is a man with good taste!

The BaoFeng UV-5R is tougher than the $25 price tag implies

UV-5R

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a handheld radio snob.

I don’t own many HT transceivers, but the ones I do own are manufactured by the “big three”–namely, Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom. For ages, these three companies dominated the handheld radio market.

A few years ago, several Chinese radio manufactures (BaofengWouxun, TDXone and TYT to name a few) started flooding the market with inexpensive handheld transceivers–radios that literally cost a fraction of those produced by the “big three.” Where a Yaesu dual band handheld might cost between $150-250 US, a Baefeng model might cost $25-50 US.

As one might imagine, these inexpensive transceivers gained quite a following in the ham radio community and with preparedness/communications enthusiasts.

I’ve read that many of these ultra-cheap transceivers are difficult to program and I’m sure that’s one of the factors that has kept me from purchasing one.

I also assumed that a $25 radio must be very poorly constructed. Seems I’m incorrect at least on this point.

Many thanks to Dave (K4SV) for sharing the following video from Chris (K5CLC), who put the popular Baofeng UV-5R through an “extreme” field test:

The Baofeng UV-5R is available at Amazon.com for a mere $25.80 US shipping included.

UV-5R accessories. Click to enlarge.

UV-5R accessories. Click to enlarge.

The UV-5R even comes with a number of accessories:

  • a ANT5 SMA-J flexible antenna,
  • BL-5 Li-ion battery (7.4V 1800 mAh),
  • belt clip,
  • wrist strap,
  • AC adapter (8.4V 600ma)
  • and drop-in charger.

Frankly, it’s hard to believe you get so much radio for the price.

Curiosity is getting the best of me and I believe I very well may purchase a UV-5R in the coming days. I’ll probably purchase the USB programming cable as well [UPDATE: several readers suggested this proper FTDI cable as a much better option].

Click here to view the Baofeng UV-5R on Amazon: I encourage you to read the numerous reviews–many of which sing its praises, others do not.

Readers: if you have the UV-5R, please post your comments about this little radio. I’m curious if you find it easy to use and if the battery life has held up over time.  Any tricks for programming it?

SWLing Post, Number 2,000

SX-99-Dial-Nar

This morning, I noticed that we’ve crossed a small milestone here at the SWLing Post: as of this post, there are now 2,000 published posts in our archives.

It’s a bit incredible that it’s already been almost seven years since I started this blog. In the beginning, I had no aspirations for the SWLing Post to become a popular destination for shortwave and amateur radio enthusiasts; it was mainly a site where I could jot down things I found of interest to me and keep tabs on the radio and international broadcasting industry.  I was simply making my bookmarks and thoughts public, perhaps a little in advance of the social media outlets that now exist for shortwave radio and related topics.

A couple of months after starting the SWLing Post, I began using Google Analytics to track readership. I was absolutely floored to discover that, after a year or two online, I had about 200 pageviews per day–meaning, our website guests were reading about 200 pages/posts of information per day! It seemed surreal.

Each year–indeed, each month–that number grew. Now, it’s hard for me to believe the site has about 5,500 daily pageviews.  Per month? We’re up to 167,000. As of today, here’s what Google Analytics gives for our monthly figures:

SWLingPost-Numbers

The thing is, these numbers continue to grow.

Best of all, what does this say–loud and clear!–about these “dying” radio shortwaves, about this old and washed-up medium of communication–?  It says to us:  interest in this hobby is far from dead, but rather, is still alive and well…and perhaps even growing.

And the very best part about hosting the SWLing Post? The community it’s created.  So:

Thanks to everyone who makes this possible–to all of those who create guest posts, to those who comment, and to those who help other readers; thanks to those who participate in and moderate the chat room.  Thanks to the readers who follow, to the SWLers who listen, to all those who care about radio.  Thanks to you all…for the camaraderie, the coffee, the chance to enjoy the growing company of so many readers and fellow-listeners from all around the globe…I am now, and will remain, most humbly grateful.

And to extend my thanks, I’m looking into hosting a forum here on the SWLing Post which should allow for even more interaction within the community.  So, yet again, allow me to say:  Stay tuned!

There’s even more to come.

Christoph’s photo tour of Friedrichshafen 2015

Photo by Christoph Ratzer

Photo by Christoph Ratzer

SWLing Post reader, Christoph Ratzer, has posted a photo gallery of the 2015 Friedrichshafen Ham Radio convention in Germany.

Click here to view Christoph’s gallery.

Many thanks, Christoph, for this fine photo tour! I actually recognize a couple of friends in those photos. I have always wanted to visit Friedrichshafen and I certainly hope to someday.

Readers: Check out Christoph’s website Kurzwelle Ratzer AT and the A-DX Fernempfang Facebook page.