Bouvet Island DXpedition

Take a boat full of hams, gear, helicopters, fuel, and moxie, then push them out of a port in Chile and point them at the most remote island in the Pacific Ocean. That is the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island DXpedition 2018. They have already endured huge storms and a 6.6 earthquake on their journey. They have just arrived at the island and are making preparations for the landing and establishing camp. They should be on the air shortly. You can also check out their Facebook page here.

New ARRL Contest NASA On The Air Begins December 11

Set your calendars for December 11, 2017 as that is the kick off for the next <something> On The Air contest! Following the huge success of the National Parks on The Air contest from this past year, this new contest will include clubs from around the US which will operate from 16 NASA centers around the US. You can check out their web site for operational details. This looks like a really fun event. Check it out!

2017 August 21 Solar Eclipse and QSO Party

On Monday August 21st, from 1400-2200 UTC (6AM-3PM local time) there will be a total solar eclipse that will traverse the entire United States from Oregon to South Carlolina. It will cross 11 states at a speeds over 1,000 miles per hour.

A group called HamSCI is hosting the Solar Eclipse QSO Party. The pupose is to gather scientific data for Virginia Tech to study atmospheric propagation during the eclipse. If you are around on Monday, be sure to register your station, collect some QSO’s and turn in your logs.

The rules for the QSO Party can be found here. They are pretty basic. The exchange is the call sign, signal report, and your grid square number. You can find your grid square number here.  As an example, most of Morgan Hill is either CM97ec or CM97ed. I would imagine they are hopping that people do something other than 59, like most do in a regular contest. This page has a good explination of the signal reporting system.

A couple of fun sites for the ecplise are a couple of simulators that will give you an idea what the eclipse will look like from your address or zip code.

Eclipse Mega Movie

NASA JPL Simulator

One interesting aspect of the eclipse is that the sun rises and travels East to West, yet the eclipse crosses the US from West to East, entering the US at Oregon.

One last link is the American Astronomical Society page that has lists of safe and tested solar glasses that can be used to view the eclipse. There are unsafe glasses flooding the market. Do not mess with your peepers. If you do purchase some, make sure they are safe and from a reputable dealer.

ARRL Request to Contact Your US Senators Supporting S 1534 – the Amateur Radio Parity Act

Got this from the ARRL:

I am writing to you today because we are at a crossroad in our efforts to obtain passage of The Amateur Radio Parity Act.

Our legislative efforts scored a major victory in our campaign when The Amateur Radio Parity Act, S. 1534 now moves to the Senate, where we need every Senator to approve the bill. This is the companion Bill to H.R. 555, which passed in the House of Representatives in January.

You are one of over 730,000 licensed Amateur Radio Operators living in the United States. Many of you already live in deed-restricted communities, and that number grows daily.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL HAMS TO GET INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS!

• If you want to have effective outdoor antennas but are not currently allowed to do so by your Home Owner’s Association, SEND THESE EMAILS TODAY!!

• If you already have outdoor antennas, but want to support your fellow hams, SEND THESE EMAILS TODAY!!

• If you want to preserve your ability to install effective outdoor antennas on property that you own, SEND THESE EMAILS TODAY!!

We need you to reach out to your Senators TODAY! Right away.

Help us in the effort. Please go to this linked website and follow the prompts:

https://arrl.rallycongress.net/ctas/urge-us-senate-to-support-amateur-radio-parity-act

Field Day 2017 is a Wrap!

Thank you to all that came out to support the MHARS, GVARC, SBCARA combined 2017 Field Day! We had a really great team that helped set up, feed, and operate this past weekend. This was the first year our group ran 24 hours for the event. We had several sleep on-site while others ran stations. The bands were very busy. 20 meters was a non-stop pile-up coast to coast. While we do this for fun, we still managed to wrack up over 300 contacts for the weekend. 20 metes was busy but 80 meters overnight was only slightly behind. Kudos to the overnight 80 meters team.

We ran 4A. Our station captains came well prepared with batteries and solar panels. Our antennas consisted of:

  • 20 meter hex beam on 70 foot portable tower with rotator.
  • 40 meter sloper off 50 foot crank up tower.
  • 15 meter beam on push-up tower with rotator.
  • 80 meter dipole between the 70 and 50 foot towers.

Some tallies for the weekend…

  • 80 M – 107 contacts
  • 40 M – 56 contacts
  • 20 M – 115 contacts (+ about 30 CW contacts) for 135 total
  • 15 M – 15 contacts

Arizona was the busiest state for us with 26 contacts.We covered over 60 sections.

We are already planning how we will improve for next year.

 

 

 

2017 Field Day Sign Ups and Information

2017 Field Day is here! Join us on June 24-25 in Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy with members from GVARC, SBCARA, and the “We are not a club” club from Morgan Hill for 27 hours of Field Day. We will be operating 4A, with GOTA (Get On The Air).

If you would like to volunteer, please use the Field Day 2017 link and fill in the information for the shifts you would like to operate.

So… if you are new to amateur radio, or would like to find out more about it, stop by. Check out the map for the location in Christmas Hill Park…

 

Looking for Amateur Radio Operators to help with the Sea Otter Classic

The 27th Sea Otter Classic will be held on April 20-23, 2017. Help from amateur radio operators has been a vital resource for communication in the Fort Ord National Monument back country and the Gran Fondo (“Great Endurance”) Carmel Valley Route.

The Sea Otter Classic attracts over 9,000 athletes and over 70,000 spectators and is now universally regarded as the world’s premiere cycling festival. The areas where we assist have little or no cellular or repeater coverage. It is an excellent opportunity for demonstration and practice of emergency communications and help build readiness for a real disaster.
Continue reading “Looking for Amateur Radio Operators to help with the Sea Otter Classic”

Get on 40 meters SSB voice for $59

http://www.hfsigs.com
The BitX40 “you finish it” kit for $59

On tonight’s net, I mentioned that you can get on 40 meters for under $60, and without the need to be a virtuoso on the soldering iron or know tons about radios.  Say hello to the BitX40, an almost completely-finished 7 watt transceiver.  All you need to do is supply a box or case of some sort to put it in, a battery, and an antenna.  Everything else is already there for you.  To finish it, you solder on wires to a few controls, the battery (or 12 volt power supply), the antenna connector, and you’re ready to get on the air.

The BitX series of radios have an interesting back story.  A ham in India named Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE, was concerned about how low the number of hams there were in his country, as well as other third-world countries.  After pondering this issue for a bit, he decided that one of the greatest problems a prospective ham faced was the high cost of even used ham equipment there.  He set out to make a 20 meter voice transceiver that used less than $20 in materials.  Thus was born the BitX20 about 10 years ago.  He cut costs in some very innovative ways.  For example, instead of the relatively-expensive ferrite toroids that are often used in radios, he substituted fiber or metal washers and wound his coils on them instead.  He decided to limit the power output to less than 10 watts so that a very common power MOSFET transistor could be used.  He also designed a novel main VFO tuning system made from a plastic drinking straw and a coil of wire.  I have one of these original (slightly improved) kits.

About 6 months ago, Ashar decided to try and help employ women in India to make a radio that might sell in higher quantities if he made it easier to build, but still supplied a quality product.  He created the BitX40, and founded a new small business to support it.  This is what I have in a my hands today, and I have to say that it is a very high-quality product, and he’s made it very easy to complete.

Gone is the drinking straw VFO, replaced by a very cool “Radiuino” board.  It is a very hackable Arduino that drives a 2-line LCD display and a DDS chip that outputs a highly-accurate, clean RF signal.  This one item alone increases the “fun factor” quite a bit, and helps contribute to a feeling that you are using a high-quality product that you yourself completed and mounted in your own custom housing.  Mount the display face and knobs to a plastic or metal ammo can and throw in a small battery pack, or put it in a cigar box (do they still have those?), or make your own custom wood enclosure.  It’s all up to you.

I suggest you give this cutie a try.  It’s not very intimidating, you’ll be very pleased with the results, and you’ll be helping some folks in India become more self-supporting.  You can find his website and ordering info here:  http://www.hfsigs.com/

 

 

AB 1785/CVC-23123.5 – “Distracted Driver Law” Update

As some of you are aware, last year, AB 1785/CVC-23123.5 was passed which is a fairly broad ban of using any communications devices while driving. In years past, ham radio was specifically listed as an activity that was permitted. But in this latest version there is no such provision which puts radio use for S&R, event support, ARES deployments, and other uses of ham radio in jeopardy. There is a change.org petition to get clarification and to re-word the law to be less ambiguous, and to take the contributions of ham operators and other services into consideration. If you have not signed the petition, you should.

Check out Ham Radio Now’s episode 311 on the matter…