Archive for December, 2005

New Elecraft Product

December 31, 2005

80/30m Module for Popular KX1 Portable Transceiver

from Wayne Burdick, N6KR

We’re pleased to announce that the KX1 is now a 4-band radio!

Many KX1 owners have asked for 80 meter coverage, notably Bruce Prior, N7RR, who pointed out that 80 meters is a great band for traffic handling at night (in both the CW and SSB segments). Up till now, Bruce has been taking his KX1 and a second rig that covers 80 meters on his extensive backpacking trips. Our new KXB3080 option will lighten his load a bit. 80 meters is also a popular field day and QRP band, and is especially active in the Eastern U.S. and in Europe. Band noise is lower in Winter, so this is the perfect time to give 80 meters a try.

The dual-band KXB3080 module installs in the same location as our 30-meter-only module, the KXB30. The KXB3080 is very easy to add to your KX1, since all but two components are surface-mount, pre-installed at the factory. (This was necessary in order to provide both bands in such a small amount of space.) Also supplied is a small PC board that mounts in place of the original low-pass filter inductors (L1 and L2). This board includes a relay that configures the low-pass filter for efficient operation on either 80 or 40/30/20 meters.

The KX1’s firmware has been updated in conjunction with the KXB3080. The new firmware adds:

* Full 80-meter band coverage on transmit and receive
* Additional receive-only coverage: 1000 kHz to 5000 kHz (reduced sensitivity outside the 80-m band)
* Programmable scanning (great for monitoring quiet bands, waiting for signals to show up)
* Variable-rate fast tuning: 1 kHz in ham bands in all RX modes, 5 kHz outside ham bands in USB/LSB modes

We have several beta testers lined up for the KXB3080, and will be supplying them kits in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I’ve been having great fun on 80 meters with the first 4-band KX1, even with a wimpy 40-foot random wire. In addition to 80 meter transceive operation, I can copy many AM stations from 1.0-1.6 MHz. This broadcast band coverage should prove useful feature for field operation.

If you have any technical questions about the KXB3080 option, feel free to send them to One question I’m sure to get is whether the KXAT1 ATU is usable on 80 meters. The answer? Yes, but the KXAT1 wasn’t designed to cover this band, so it will only help with specific end-fed wire antenna lengths to be determined. It will of course help with tweaking of nearly-resonant antennas, such as portable whips and ad-hoc dipoles.

* * * N O T E * * *

Please don’t call about the KXB3080 or new firmware just yet. We will announce the price of both in late January, and take orders then.

Elecraft Web Site


December 31, 2005

THE FARC (Forsyth Amateur Radio Club) SWAPFEST

Saturday, January 7, 2006

7AM-12 Noon

Talk in 146.64 Mhz (100Hz PL)

Summit School Parking Lot

Come be a part of one of the FARC’s “Triad” of events – An all outdoor event- $5 gets you in the lot- Free coffee- BYO tables/chairs. Contact the FARC at 336-723-7388 and leave message for more info. Come swap/buy/sell or just chat!

Directions to Summit School:

Take I-40 Business to Winston-Salem.- North on Silas Creek Pkwy towards Wake Forest University- Right on Reynolda Road at WFU light. Right on Kenway Drive into Summit School lot.

The Original W4NC QSL Card from 1930

storm spotter training

December 31, 2005

I found this article by Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU. He does a weekly online column on and has publish a number of books on packet radio and APRS. I really enjoy reading his weekly column and found this article in Stan’s archives.

Surfin’:Spotting Extreme Weather

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor March 4, 2005

This week we visit a Web site where you can learn a lot about the weather. So much so that afterwards you can consider joining the ranks of Amateur Radio weather spotters.

Reporting weather conditions is Amateur Radio public service at its finest. As spring approaches (none too soon in these parts), the thunderstorm and tornado season also looms in many parts of the nation. So, it is apropos that we check out a Web site that deals with the observation of extreme weather.

Comprehensive storm spotting training can be had at the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Spotter Training Web site.

Old friend John Nelson, K0IO, sent me a link to a slide presentation on storm spotter training that was put together by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Des Moines, the folks who operate K0DMX. Who is better qualified to educate us on weather than the NWS?

The slide presentation is excellent and I learned a lot perusing the 219 slides that compose the presentation. For example, the "Look Alike" portion of the presentation taught me that those funnel-shaped clouds I saw on vacation in Florida once upon a time were not necessarily tornadoes; the lesson learned is that a funnel-shaped cloud is a "tornado" only if it is rotating. I also learned about weather conditions I had never heard about before, for example, land spouts, gustnadoes, and mammatus clouds.

Until next week, keep on surfin’.

Editor’s note: Back when he was in grade school, Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, built a homebrew manually operated low-tech rain gauge. Now he maintains a fully automatic high-tech weather station at WA1LOU-15. To talk about the weather (and do nothing about it), e-mail Stan.

Page last modified: 02:41 PM, 03 Mar 2005 ET Page author: awextra@arrl.orgCopyright © 2005, American Radio Relay League, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Weather Display Working With UI-View

December 30, 2005

Swaped out the power supply with a new one and that did the trick.

I got the computer back up and operational. Weather Display was pretty easy to configure to get it started – although there will be a lot of tweeking. And with one or two clicks of the mouse I was able to send the weather data to UI-View/APRS.

You can see the latest data here:

Weather Station Is Up!

December 30, 2005

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that I installed the anemometer up on the roof, spliced in an extension cord, placed the outdoor thermometer outside, and ran all the cables into the junction box inside the radio room. After getting everything plugged in, both the temp and wind gauge were responding – so far so good.

I connected the serial interface from the weather station to my tower that also runs the APRS application UI-View. I then downloaded Weather Display and started setting up the interface between the station and computer. I stepped out of the radio room for a moment and when I came back the computer had gone quiet.

Very odd. I’ve never had any problems with this computer before. After a little trouble shooting I can tell that the problem is with the computer and most likely the power supply. So I’m going to try and find a 300w power supply I can swap with the bad one.

… but did I mention the weather station is working!

Start making plans for….

December 30, 2005

Official website here.

UX-5 Balloon Launch Saturday, December 31

December 30, 2005

from Greg Williams, K4HSM
Website: on December 30, 2005

The University of Tennessee Amateur Radio Club (UTARC) is planning to launch the UX-5 balloon on Saturday, Dec. 31. Approximate time for liftoff will be at 1830 UTC, or 1:30 PM Eastern Time.

UTARC will attempt the official distance record for this launch with a CW beacon on HF relaying telemetry and location information as the balloon takes to the air.

The balloon for the launch is designed for distance and longevity, so the flight may last over 24 hours if winds and equipment are favorable.

On UTARC’s previous balloon flight, UX-4 was carried aloft by a 200 gram latex weather balloon, and was in the air for an estimated 2 hours, although the transmitter continued to operate for over 36 hours. Predictions indicate it probably landed in Virginia. The transmitter was built by Carl Lyster (WA4ADG) and had a 0.8 watt output. Reception reports were received from as far away as British Columbia.

Recovery of the balloon is not anticipated at this time unless the balloon bursts early into the flight. Contact information will be on the balloon in case of a physical recovery.

The telemetry feedback will be in the following format:

Frequency: 14.325 MHz +/- 2kHz

Mode: CW
Sequence: AA4UT/B every 15
seconds; full telemetry every 4 minutes as follows:

ALT xxxxxM
LAT xx.xxxxxx(N|S)
LON xxx.xxxxxx(W|E)

TEMP (P|N)xxxC
SEQ xxxxx


Weather forecasts for the launch are slowly becoming favorable, but UTARC is still planning to launch even if conditions are less than favorable. Weather does not normally affect a balloon launch unless adverse conditions affect the safety of the crew.

As of now, the forecast is as follows:
Saturday: A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 8am. Partly cloudy, with a high around 54. West wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 32.
As with the the last launch, postings on DX Clusters will be made and signal reports can be sent via the web site at

This is a long-distance record attempt. Your reception reports will be most welcome and valuable. If you do return a reception report, please give us your coordinates in Latitude and Longitude so that we may plot distance accordingly.

Thank you for reading and 73. We hope to hear from you this Saturday. The University of Tennessee Amateur Radio Club, AA4UT


December 29, 2005

From : Don
Reply-To : HamRadioHelpGroup@xx
Sent : Thursday, December 29, 2005 9:33 PM
Subject : [HamRadioHelpGroup] Re: Satellites (AO-51 mostly)

Bryan KE7EZE (really like the EZE call)

Hey…I use to live on working the Birds/SATS but still try to work them from time to time, so yes I have some suggestions and info. First, it is weaksignal work so no squelch and turn up the volume once your area of the world is in the ‘window’ of the SAT. Second, make sure your tracking software is on the correct time and it and your clocks are correct…you can’t work anyone if the pass you think is overhead was 30 mintues ago or before…also remember that you will only get a few passes so the first ones over the horizion will be shorter and just mintues and the max maybe 10 to 15 minutes so you don’t have much time…be at the ready…also note what type antenna you have and the angle it works best for SAT contacts, if it works best to the horizon like a directional yagi then work the SAT at the 0 to 20 deg range at the horizion is your best bet because if you don’t have a rotor to go overhead you will be out of luck when the SAT is higher overhead..if you use a vertical or eggbeater note the best areas or passes and the degree the SAT is at when best signals. Finally, make sure if you have a small station that you work the SAT on the ‘off’ pass cycles or the less busy times…you can bet that a 7pm pass will be very busy and have more Hams wanting to work the SAT than a 11pm or 12mid pass…your chances will be better on less busy time passes.

As far as some sites for SAT homebrew Jerry K5OE has one of the best sites for that…some PVC and wire and you might be surprised at what you can make for the SATS…give these a try:

For those new to SATS here is an old blog on SATS and it also is in our Ham Radio Help Group ‘files’ but here is a bit of info for those new to Ham SATS:

******** from our files section **************

Thanks for your interest in knowing more about working the Amatuer Satellites. They are fun to work and if you are in a dead area for 2 meter or 440 70/cm contacts this will give you another way to work stations using those bands! BTW AMSAT is the Sats number one oranizations with tons of information for the Sat user so keep this link handy: for the Satellites……if you crave some DX and more activity on VHF/UHF then working the Sats will do just that for you.

First off ………how does a Satellite actually work?…… How the Sats work is quite simple really…they are like a floating repeater system……you will transmit up on one band (like the 2 meter band) and then it will then inturn take your signal and tranmit it down on another band (like the 440 band). That is the simple way to explain it now there are other things involved like knowing when the Satellites are in “view” or in your “window” in order to work them….knowing some about the position (height, angle etc) of the Satellite and also the doppler effect (which is like a loud car driving by you … sounds and frequency will change as it is far to close etc). But really just think simple…this is not brain surgery and anyone can work the Sats!

First you will need to think about an antenna syatem to use for the Satellites. Like anything else in radio the better the antenna system the more stations (or Sats) you will work. I know many on just HT’s or mobilt antennas that work the Sats (possible but lots or trying! Also most have 2 meter FM rigs but maybe not a 440 rig but many of you DO have a scanner with 440 on it so try it with an outside 440 antenna)…..but most are on Eggbeater or smaller beams. You will need one for the each band the Satellite that you want to use uses…a nice 2 meter and 440 is good for starters (btw the Sats have different modes that are derived from the band you use going up and the band used coming back down to earth). Just to give you a look at some homebrew Sat antennas take a look at Jerry’s K5OE website…..he is a great guy and if you get into Sats then you will surely hear and work this guy…but look at all you can build for little of nothing…go here:

Another good Sat Antenna site:

So let you know I use a small 2 meter 5 element beam for the up band and a small 7 elelment 440 beam for the down band. You can also tilt your beam at an angle…I tilt my 440 beam at about 20 degrees or so up in the air at an angle to get better coverage of the Sats (I do not have an expensive rotor to do that so I just have them tilted up if that makes since to you….also use old Aliance U-100 tv rotors that are `through’ hole mast rotors around $30 to $40 used).

Ok….now you know what you have to have for antennas so how about reading a very good article on “WORKING THE EASY SATS”…..after reading this article I worked my first Sat the next day…..make sure to note the Frequecy Charts on this great article…also bookmark it or print it or copy it and use it as a reference!! I would work the UO-14 Sat first (note: UO-14 is DEAD so please not this but other Sats are worked just the same…and a new Echo51 up and running )…it is by far the easiest but you will have to try lots as it is the hardest to get into also since it is the easiest……remember on these FM type repeater Satellites the STRONGEST signals win out on them!! So go here and read this please!!! here:
(look about midpage down for the “WORKING THE EASY SATS”)

Also this is a good one:

Ok …now you got an idea of what you need for antennas….and you got an idea how these Sats work by reading that article but now you need to know when you can work them…or when the Satellites are over your area. There is a nice online real-time tracking from Nasa called JTrack and you can use that if you are online and know when a Sat is in your view. Also on the NASA page you can print out plots or predictions so you have them at the ready…I think you can even have them email the predictions to you weekly if you like! The other program for tracking I strongly suggest is SATSCAPE….so go here and download the best Satellite Predicting program out there called SATSCAPE….and it is FREE!!! Go here and download and install your free virsion (I can help you set it up if you need help): (you can even print a plot of the Satellite path to take it out in the field/yard with you!…also you can set this site up to email you the path schedules of the Satellites you want to work!) you got all the tools you need to work the Sats…..that is it!!! Don’t make this complicated because it is not! It is lots of fun and although the windows for contact or short (like only 20 minutes per Sat passing) is fun and worth it!!! You will get lots of QSL’s of people wanting to confirm your grid square and contact! So have those QSL cards ready! If you need a program to make your own QSLs then go here …get the FREE Qslmaker and make your own if you need too…that is what I use…go here:

Ok…I went on way too long but I really like the Sats and Ham radio.
So do these steps:
1. Have a 2 meter and 440 meter antenna ready to go (make them or use whatever you have now and see if you can hear the Sats….the homebrew stuff are easy and cheap!)
2. Read “Working the Easy Sats”….it will make since one you read it!
3. Use the NASA Jtrack or download and install SATSCAPE for FREE…you have to have a tracking program to know when you can work them!
4. Have Fun and work some stations!
5. Get addicted to them and keep upgrading with better coverage/gain antennas feed with low loss feedline adding rxpreamps…it’s weak signal work that is a challenge.

GL on the Birds!
de kb9umt Don EN50
ps….There are many Hams that are Satellite only ops and don’t use anything but Sats to make contacts…many are Tech license folks that are so addicted may never want to go to HF and just be left to the action on the Satellite VHF/UHF bands!…….above was just a very short overview with only a small amount of information using FM Sats…once you get into them you will see the FM Sats are easy and you will want to work some SSB/voice/digital ones with more band space for long QSO’s and other Sats out further with larger coverage areas…….and more contacts! They are addicting!

Current Sat stats from

Operational Summary
Here is a basic summary of satellite status. The table that follows this status is a summary of operational satellites that are or were recently popular. These tables lists only OSCAR satellites.
Operational AO-27, FO-29, GO-32, SO-50,AO-51, VO-52, ARISS, PCSAT2
Semi-Operational* AO-7, UO-11, RS-15, AO-16, LO-19, NO-44
Non-Operational OSCAR, OSCAR II, OSCAR III, OSCAR-IV, AO-5, AO-6, AO-8, RS-1, RS-2, AO-10, FO-12, RS-10/11, UO-14, UO-15, DO-17, WO-18, FO-20, AO-21 (RS-14), RS 12/13, UO-22, KO-23, AO-24, KO-25, IO-26, PO-28, MO-30, TM-31, RS-17, SO-33, PO-34, SO-35, UO-36, AO-37, OO-38, WO-39, AO-40, SO-41, SO-42, SO-43, NO-45, MO-46, BO-47, BO-48, AO-49, XO-53
Future Launch SSETI Express, P3-E Express

AO51 info:
AMSAT-OSCAR 51 (Echo or AO-51)
Analog Uplink: 145.920 MHz FM (PL – 67Hz)145.880 MHz FM QRP (no PL)
1268.700 MHz FM (PL – 67Hz)
Analog Downlink: 435.300 MHz FM2401.200 MHz FM
PSK-31 Uplink 28.140 MHz USB
Digital Uplink: 145.860 MHz 9600 bps, AX.251268.700 MHz 9600 bps AX.25
Digital Downlink: 435.150 MHz 9600 bps, AX.252401.200 MHz
38,400 bps, AX.25
Broadcast Callsign: PECHO-11
BBS Callsign: PECHO-12
Launched June 29, 2004

Status: Operational
AMSAT-OSCAR 51 or Echo as it is more commonly known is a FM satellite carrying 4 VHF receivers, 2 UHF transmitters, a multimode receiver and a 2400MHz transmitter. It can handle voice and FSK data up to 76.8Kbps. Echo was launched into a low, sun-synchronous polar orbit approximately 850 km high. You must transmit a 67Hz PL tone in order to access the Echo voice repeater.
Please note the change in operational phone downlink frequency to 435.300 MHz.

— In, “Bryan Koschmann, KE7EZE”
> Hello All,
> Hope everyone had a nice holiday! I ended up with the flu just before Christmas, but nice otherwise.
> Anyhow, I’ve been attempting to work AO-51. I’m using Predict (on a slackware box) for tracking. FT-8900 setup as a base to my antenna up on the roof (not sure what the technical name is for it, SO-239 with a vertical and 4 radials of copper).
> I can receive decently I guess, and didn’t get any responses to my call but on one occasion during a high pass (~85 degrees), but didn’t catch his call and lost him. Now I’m looking for a better solution (different antennas most likely).
> I guess I really have 2 choices, some better omnidirectional(s) for the roof, or yagi/quagis using handhelds in the backyard. I really prefer to build my own, but a lot of the sites that seem to have what I need are down.
> I’ve mostly been looking at some sort of Eggbeater style for the roof, or just building smaller, separate yagis for 2m and 70cm and rigging up a mount to use outside.
> Does anyone have any pointers, plans, tips, hints, etc etc? 🙂
> Thanks,
> Bryan, KE7EZE

Going to put up the wind meter

December 29, 2005

Wish me luck – tomorrow I’m heading up to the roof to install the wind meter. I need to make sure I bring a compass, the allen wrench, and the control box to set the wind direction.

Evolution and Respite… Announcing the 2006 ARRL Straight Key Night

December 29, 2005

Recently I had the chance to talk with a group of amateurs at a local club. They ranged from old-old-timers to several still studying for their first license. As always seems to be the case, the topic of FCC’s NPRM eliminating the Morse Code requirement for amateur licenses came up. And true to form, the comments ranged from “it’s about time” to “how can they be so short-sighted?”

Regardless of your position, the important fact for CW enthusiasts is that the NPRM doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use the code if you choose. Radio communications have evolved a long way from the early spark-gap transmitters and their hand-created Morse code communications. Once in my life I would love to hear the electrical hissing of this unique ancestor of our current modern modes. It would be nice to see if you could really “smell” the signal in the air as “Old Betsy” (Hiram Percy Maxim’s name for his spark-gap radio, which is on display at W1AW) or its cousins literally lit up the ether. But alas, as this particular mode is no long permitted, it will have to remain a perception challenge for the imagination

At the beginning of each year many operators around the US, and world-wide, declare a respite from the technological evolution. They turn back the pages of modern operation and look towards our roots in this hobby — ARRL Straight Key Night. Some consider CW antiquated while others view it an outdated technology. But for many — old-timer and newcomer alike — it is a reliable friend. (And if you think it is a technology that has been replaced by Blackberry and text-messaging technology, did you see the “Old Timers” – Chip Margelli, K7JA and Ken Miller, K6CTW — smoke the world champion fastest text messenger on the NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno back on May 13th 2005?)

In this era of digital communication, keyboarding, FM and electronic keys, once a year many excellent operators bring the past to the present and participate in the annual ARRL Straight Key Night. The object of this friendly event is to enjoy some good, old fashioned QSO fun, using straight keys. The emphasis is on rag-chewing rather than fast contest-type exchanges. SKN 2006 begins at 7:00 p.m. EST December 31 and runs for 24 hours through 7:00 p.m. EST January 1 (0000 –2400 UTC January 1, 2006).

In many circles SKN has been expanded to encompass vintage radio equipment as well. Reminiscing about their early days in our hobby, many operators use SKN as the “excuse” to refurbish their old Viking, Heathkit, or Scout. You will hear as many vintage radios on the air during SKN as you will variety of keys. And you will hear signals generated using old-fashioned bugs, a variation of the straight key. SKN is the time amateur radio recalls the past, transporting it to the present.

When participating in SKN 2006, instead of sending RST before sending the signal report send the letters SKN, to indicate your participation, and to clue in passers-by who may be listening that SKN is going strong. After SKN, send the Contest Branch a list of stations worked, plus your vote for the best fist you heard (it doesn’t have to be one you worked). Also, include your vote for the most interesting QSO you had or monitored.

Don’t forget to post your comments and interesting photographs from your SKN adventure to the ARRL Contest Online Soapbox at Entries should be emailed to the Contest Branch at or may be sent via regular mail to SKN, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. The Soapbox becomes an on-line album of stores and photographs to share with others.

Entries for SKN 2006 must be received by January 31, 2006. Votes for ‘Best Fist’ and “Most Interesting QSO” will be tabulated and included in the April 2006 issue of QST. If you have questions about SKN, please visit the Contest Branch Web Page at or contact

Last year we had 312 submissions for SKN — the most ever for Straight Key Night; from 45 states, 5 foreign countries, Puerto Rico, and 3 Canadian provinces. Why not dust off the key, clean the contacts and light up the ether with the beautiful melody of hand-created CW? Sweeter music is hard to find.