Archive for August, 2006

Weekend Wrap Up

August 28, 2006

Went up to the Yorktown Battlefield Saturday and linked up with Mark, N1LO. I got to see his portable setup. He was using a delta loop antenna made of speaker wire, maybe about 25′ per side. The speaker wire was in three sections, the sections were connected using fishing line lure links. The speaker wire was terminated using banana plugs and fed into a 1:1 balun. To support the legs of the delta loop, Mark used a combination of a painter’s pole and a fiberglass fishing rod secured by a 3′ picket easily driven into the ground about 8″.

The fiberglass fishing pole’s end easily nests into the painter’s pole with about 6″ overlap raising the loop to a height of about 20′. The painter’s pole was secured to the picket using two small hose clamps. The delta loop tuned easily from 80M to 10M, but would not tune 160M. All the antenna components compacted down to fit into a plastic rifle case. Mark connected the delta loop to his IC-706MKIIG through his LDG AT-200 Pro autotuner and was easily making QSOs into Ohio (the Ohio QSO Party was underway). Power was provided by a ~100aH marine battery and a nice homebrew PowerPole distribution hub. The best part of the setup was the location – in a very nice, shady park on the southern banks of the York River.

In an endeavor to consolidate my 2M packet operations (APRS, Winlink 2K, and good ol’ fashion BBS packet) into the garage, I spent a good chunk of time pushing around boxes and crates. I purchased three 3′ high bookshelves from Target, arrayed them in an open “U” and then placed a 4’x6′ piece of plywood across the top. I filled the bookshelves with back issues of QST and equipment awaiting to be put into use. Next to this workbench, I put a previously unused, small table where I positioned my monitor and PC. I spent the late afternoon converting the PC from Ubuntu back to Window XP (… I can’t commit the time needed to tweak Unbuntu to my needs). Now I need to move the my KPC-3+ from the radio room out to the garage and see if I can get a basic packet station operational.

Also been preparing for the upcoming RV DXpedition. I’ll be taking the ARSIB along with the vertical dipole, but was also thinking about taking a G5RV. I’m also going to try and use a 75M hamstick, we’ll see how that works out.

Icom IC706mkIIg mod

August 23, 2006

Wide band transmit mod for the IC706mkIIg requires removal of diode D.2030. Remove top cover to access main board. Locate IC chip 4052C-8713. Looking at the chip and reading the number from left to right, look just left of the chip to locate 11 solder pads running up and down. Diode D.2030 was the tenth diode from the top of the solder pads on (USA Version) radio. Remove diode. This modification opens up transmit on HF, VHF, and UHF bands.

Ken Bessler KG0WX
Frequency Expansion

photoNOTE: The author does NOT advocate any illegal operation. It is YOUR responsibility to stay within your authorized bands. NOTE: This is for the MkIIG ONLY. Earlier models use an entirely different procedure. NOTE: This procedure WILL RESET the radio to a factory-new condition. All memories and settings will be cleared.

This modification will allow the MkIIG to transmit on most of the frequencies that it receives on.

It is useful for:

1. Accessing the new Amateur 60-meter channels
2. Authorized MARS and/or CAP operation
3. Authorized Maritime and/or Aviation SSB operation
4. Authorized VHF and UHF public service (police, fire, etc) operation
5. Authorized Land Mobile radio operation
6. Authorized VHF marine operation
7. Unauthorized operation on any frequency, only in immanent life/death emergency, only when no other means of communication are possible (legal but still legally risky)
8. NOTE: Amateur Radios are NOT FCC TYPE-ACCEPTED to operate in other services — even if you have the license to do so! Don’t goof around in the legal gray area unless your leg is mashed under an 11-ton boulder! Remember that other (non-Amateur) radio services require not only a license, but also a radio that is FCC Type Accepted for that service!

Tools: The 706 uses components that are extremely tiny. You will need at least the following tools:

1. 2.5x to 3.5x headband visor magnifier or jeweler’s loupe
2. Bright light
3. 15 watt pencil iron with a clean, lightly tinned, needle sharp point
4. Fine-point tweezers
5. Extremely steady hand

How to remove it (D2030):

(IC-706MkIIG ONLY – Top PCB – Red Arrow Indicates tiny SMT Diode to Remove.)

1. Some people just crush it with needle-nose. I don’t like that idea since it might damage the PCB.
2. Take the tip out of your 15-watt iron. Chuck it in a drill. Turn it against a grinding stone, to a needle point.
3. Reinstall the tip. Heat and re-tin it. Tap off the excess solder.
4. Remove power cable from radio. Remove top cover slowly. Carefully unplug speaker.
5. Using visor magnifier and bright light (and a very steady hand), catch one end of the diode with tip of iron (very lightly tinned).
6. Gently pull upward with the iron. The diode will either rotate upward on it’s other lead – or it’ll break off.
7. If you lift one end just a little, you can leave the diode there in case it ever needs to be reattached.
8. Plug in speaker. Reinstall cover. Power up. Reprogram all your memories and settings.


August 22, 2006

(This list effective as of June 2004.)

-1, 2, 3, 4 are for digipeaters and other home stations

-6 is for Operations via Satellite
-7 is for TH-D7 walkie talkies
-8 is for boats, sailboats and ships (maybe 802.11 in the future)
-9 is for Mobiles
-10 is for operation via The internet only
-11 is for APRS touch-tone users (and the occasional Balloons)
-14 is for Truckers
-15 is for HF

Will Mathematician Snub Another Prize? [NPR]

August 22, 2006

by David Kestenbaum

Morning Edition, August 22, 2006 · A reclusive Russian mathematician named Grigory Perelman has puzzled the world of mathematicians. He is credited with helping solve the Poincare Conjecture — a famous math problem about the shapes of space first posed by Henri Poincare in 1904.

The Clay Institute offered a million dollar prize to encourage someone to solve the Poincare Conjecture. But Perelman, the man in the spotlight, never showed up to claim his prize. Now, he may win yet another prize, the Fields Medal, an award given every four years for exceptional achievement in mathematics.

The problem that Grigory Perelman helped solve was first posed by the Frenchman Jules Henri Poincare in 1904. Who was the man behind the question?

A learner of exceptional ability, Poincare contributed to virtually all parts of mathematics. His eyesight was so poor that he often couldn’t see the board in class, but he compensated with his phenomenal memory and his ability to visualize information he heard.

Toulouse, the director of a psychology laboratory in Paris, took interest in Poincare’s mind. Toulouse, who used only one name, wrote a book about Poincare, observing that while most mathematicians build upon established principles their colleagues have developed, Poincare always began his work from a basic principle.

Toulouse wrote that Poincare, “does not make an overall plan when he writes a paper. He will normally start without knowing where it will end … Starting is usually easy … If beginning is painful, Poincare does not persist but abandons the work.”

But he didn’t give up. According to Toulouse, Poincare expected that the crucial idea would come to him after he stopped concentrating on the problem. So he would often abandon a project temporarily, assuming that his unconscious mind would continue to work at it. His method of working has been compared to a bee flitting from flower to flower.

One of Poincare’s most famous discoveries came in response to a prize established in 1887 by the King of Sweden, Oscar II. The challenge was to solve the three-body problem in celestial mechanics, a problem that involved the motion of orbiting bodies in the solar system.

Though Poincare did not provide a complete solution, he was awarded the prize because of his work’s importance. Poincare had already sent his prize-winning work to the publisher when a mistake was discovered! Poincare revised the publication, but even his mistake turned out to be valuable; it laid the foundation for chaos theory.

Poincare is sometimes acknowledged as a co-discoverer, with Albert Einstein and Hendrik Lorentz, of the special theory of relativity. The three were working on the problem around the same time, but Poincare and Einstein were not collaborators. In his work, Einstein made no reference to Poincare but in later talks acknowledged him as a pioneer of relativity.

Poincare disagreed with philosophers who thought that mathematics was a branch of logic, and saw intuition as the key factor for discovery. He wrote in Mathematical Definition in Education that, “It is by logic we prove, it is by intuition that we invent.”


August 21, 2006

Revision 9 – 9/12/04


The Virginia Digital Emergency Network (VDEN) was formed on October 1, 1995 to build and maintain a network for amateur radio digital communications in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The primary purpose for this network is to provide a stable pathway and system for digital communications during emergencies in the state. The primary route to be maintained is into and out of Virginia Emergency Operations Center (“VA EOC”) in Richmond. VDEN may be utilized for digital communications by the National Weather Service’s Skywarn program, local emergencies and public service events whenever the need arises. When the network is not operating under an activation, it operates as a normal statewide network. VDEN is a digital package.


VDEN utilizes:

145.730 – Users, forwarding as required
446.075 – Backbone links and forwarding
441.050 – 9600 bps link between Tidewater and VA EOC

We have established a UHF backbone between our nodes on 446.075. Ideally, this is where all forwarding should take place but we know that it is not always possible. Using UHF for forwarding would allow users easier access on 145.73 and allow the network to operate smoother. 441.050 is a 9600 bps network between Tidewater and the VA EOC. VDEN uses other forms of technology as practical to get the message through such as faxes and the internet. Keyboarding is not an accepted part of the VDEN system during activations and drills.


All Node, BBS and non-BBS operators are invited to participate in the VDEN. Stand-alone TNC’s are encouraged to setup on 145.73, where reverse polling can be used by the full service BBS’s. Stand-alone TNC’s can assist in such ways as providing relays into the system and can be easily transported for mobile operations when needed. Full service BBS members are encouraged to have their own “portable” setups and emergency power supplies.

Full service BBS’s that participate in the VDEN are asked to follow these guidelines:

1) Have a forwarding “path” to the VA EOC BBS (W4ZA) defined. Please note it is not necessary to forward a message directly to the VA EOC. Simply put it as a traffic message on your BBS or the closest BBS to you and let the system forward it. Besides being addressed as ” ST W4ZA @ W4ZA ” it must be signed by an official such as City and County Emergency and Shelter Managers. This traffic will normally be Situation Reports and requests for aid and/or supplies at shelters.

2) Have a forwarding path to the local NWS packet station defined, if such a station exists.

3) Provide automatic NTS and personal message forwarding. Have an NTS instruction sheet readily available to assist with message encoding and decoding.

4) Be able to shut down routine bulletin forwarding during emergencies and drills.

5) Carry ARES/RACES/ARRL/VANET/VDEN bulletins. Other bulletins such as the @USA and @WW should be forwarded on frequencies other than 145.73 whenever possible. The @USA and @WW bulletin forwarding on 145.73 should only be during periods of non-emergencies and drills. NEVER should bulletin forwarding be allowed to interfere with emergency traffic forwarding! Time triggers should be used to help regulate forwarding schedules. Sysops should work out a schedule among themselves. Forwarding of bulletins should be stopped at 1800 local and started again at 2300 local to allow for easy network navigation by the users . Multi-nodes forwarding is not encouraged on 145.73 unless it is necessary to simply get the messages to the next station in the chain. Always let them forward to the next station and so forth as is built into the system. Direct BBS to BBS forwarding is the most favored method of forwarding whenever possible.

6) Ensure that any mail addressed to SYSOP @ VDEN goes only to SysOps and NodeOps of VDEN systems. This is addressed as P$ Sysop @ VDEN.

7) Sysop’s should observe the practice of no BULLETIN forwarding between the hours of 6pm and 11pm. This will allow users easier access to the BBS’s.

Nodes operators that participate in the VDEN are asked to follow these guidelines:

1) Allow access to all users unless otherwise requested.

2) Broadcast a nodes list on a hourly basis.

3) Multi-port nodes and stations that operate on 145.73 and one other common frequency should be setup to forward on the non-145.73 port if possible.

4) When two multi-port nodes, as described in #3, have equipment failure on their common forwarding frequency they will be allowed to use 145.73 to pass their traffic.

5) It is *not* necessary to restrict BBS’s on VDEN to special interest BBS’s. Full service BBS’s and stand alone TNC’s are always welcome to participate in VDEN and are asked to observe the VDEN guidelines.

6) If a neighboring node is abusing a VDEN node or the VDEN system, the VDEN node operator is expected to lock out the offending neighbor node once contacts with the other NodeOp have proven fruitless. The VDEN NodeOp should send a message addressed to SYSOP @ VDEN and advise our other SysOps and NodeOps of the situation.


The amateur radio community prides itself on the ability to “police their own”. To that extent the VDEN will “police it’s own network”, while always attempting to co-exist with all users. If a member of VDEN or a user will not abide by the VDEN guidelines then that person will be locked out of the system after efforts to resolve the problem do not work. Deliberate interfence will be reported to the FCC. There are frequencies and networks for all digital interests, just as 145.73 was designated for emergency messaging support by TMARC/DMARC.

VDEN was originally started to provide backup emergency communications for ARES, RACES, SkyWarn and other local emergency, public service organizations. We know the best way to ensure that the network continues to function is to allow it to operate as normal as possible during periods of non-emergencies and drills.

If a VDEN SysOp or NodeOp is approached by a Local, County or State official and is requested to go into an emergency mode of operations, all routine bulletin movement will cease on the VDEN system. Activation notification will be delivered by whatever means practical to VDEN members ASAP. VDEN members should keep each other informed of all network activities in a timely manner.

Neighboring nodes or BBS’s that interfere with the operation of VDEN will be locked out of the network as required to maintain the network’s functionality when the problem cannot be rectified with the abuser.

“P$ SysOp @ VDEN” is a way to send packet messages to other VDEN operators BUT make sure that it is P$ and not B$! Have VDEN entered in your forward file for all VDEN members you forward to.

Sole active member of the original Steering Committee and VDEN co-founder is:

Ben Sager, KC4ASF, Fredericksburg, VA. KC4ASF@KC4ASF and email at KC4ASF@KC4ASF.ORG

The Steering Committee will make suggestions and attempt to resolve problems that arise within the network. The Steering Committee will in no way attempt to run another SysOp or NodeOp’s system. However, in order to maintain order and operation on the frequencies used by VDEN, the Steering Committee may suggest that offending Nodes or BBS’s be locked out of the system until the problem created by them ceases to exist. Lockout is the last solution when all other solutions have been tried. Such interference will be reported to the FCC.

As of this DTG, KC4ASF, Ben Sager and Earl Moore, KR4MA are the Network Managers. KR4MA is located in the Tidewater area. Contact either one for digital assistance.


All members of the VDEN will receive an update of activities within the network as needed. Members may receive this update either by email or by packet. Anyone requesting to be on the email list should send a message to Any news that is to be included in the updates should be sent to:

Ben Sager
Packet address: KC4ASF @ KC4ASF.#FRED.VA
Internet address:
Earl Moore uses KR4MA@KR4MA and

VDEN meetings and drills are held whenever possible but it is known that we all have jobs, families and other responsibilities.


These guidelines will be reviewed and revised by the Steering Committee or Network Manager as needed. Members of the VDEN are encouraged to provide input. VDEN members may use whatever method of technology gets the job done fastest such as the internet or faxes whenever practical.

VA ARES/RACES attachment for the VDEN guidelines .

1. VDEN is a communications SERVICE. We exist to provide backup communications services to Public Service officials and Public Service offices throughout the state of Virgina.

2. Traffic to and from the Virginia EOC (VA EOC) is expected to be in formal ARRL NTS format whenever possible. We have adopted the ARRL message format because it contains the essential information and should be known to VDEN operators. If the traffic handling path is completely packet, the word count is optional, if any voice handling (such as VHF/HF relay) is involved it is required. A NTS instruction sheet should be at all operator locations. NTS formatting is expected to be replaced by another more user friendly format soon.

3. Traffic to VA EOC should be addressed to a specific person or office known to be present at the EOC. Messages simply addressed VA EOC are forwarded to a central clerk who will try to make sense of the message based on context on a time available basis. It is not unusual for the situation room at the VA EOC to be populated with 50+ Public Service officials representing 50 or more state agencies. Traffic that is not addressed to a specific person or office is likely to get lost in the shuffle. It is assumed that Public Service officials are aware of their organizational alignment and SOP’s during states of emergency.

4. The Virginia EOC is NOT a public information agency. Information requests will be referred to the state PIO for handling. Persons seeking information should the advised to contact the state PIO directly rather than tying up emergency communications channels.

5. ALL traffic for the VAEOC must be originated and signed by a Public Service official…i.e., /s/ Joe Hamm, EC of Anytown, VA.

6. Except as may be announced by EOC officials, the EOC does not solicit random observations on current weather conditions, road conditions, or similar observations. Persons wishing to report such information should be directed to contact their local emergency operating facility.

7. The proper form of address for official traffic to the VA EOC is:

ST w4za@w4za

Unofficial traffic, i.e., Sysop comments between VDEN operators (discouraged during busy times) can be sent in informal format and should be addressed to:


8. ARES/RACES stations are expected to send a check-in message to the Virginia EOC as soon as possible after call up.

The messages should contain:

a. Station call sign and name/callsign of operator.

b. Time of activation and time of check in.

c. Identification of the public service agency being supported and name and title of chief communications official in charge.

d. Provide the route by which messages may be replied to. Such as “yourcall@your homebbs” or another address or method that is functional.

e. Communications capabilities, i.e. hf, vhf voice, packet and especially any relay capabilities to adjacent facilities that you have.

f. If you want your msg acknowledged by the EOC Sysop then please indicate so and by what method, ie, packet, voice, pager, email, fax, etc… If you don’t ask then they won’t do it.

International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend

August 20, 2006

I enjoyed activating the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse this weekend. Went out both on Saturday and Sunday. Had some great QSOs. Was able to work N1LO and AG4GO (operating as N4P) at the New Point Comfort Lighthouse…. that was cool. Also had QSOs with Denmark, Bermuda, and El Salvador…. all new countries.

Learned some leasons when setting up a portable operation:
(1) Don’t set your operating station up farther away from your antenna than the lenght of your feedline allows.
(2) Don’t print your log sheets with an ink jet printer… when you’re sweaty after setup and try to write in the log, sweat will make the ink jet print smear,
(3) If you have a shelter to keep you out of the sun, go ahead and use it.
(4) Make sure you have everything BEFORE you pull out of the driveway (i.e. your feedline, log book, headphones, and tools).

Good news… this was the first real deployment of the ARSIB. Everything worked very well. Even used the the ARSIB and the vertical dipole on 17M, in addition to 40M and 20M.

The Shack

August 18, 2006

by John Oden (KC0QEH) [from eHam]

I will never forget the first day with the new technician license.

With gleeful anticipation, I proceeded to the two-story shed out back. I picked out the perfect spot just above the ladder in the upper floor; this in an effort to keep the cables as short as possible. My genius was to put a table under the ladder with a chair on top and use the upper floor for the ham desk.

This worked great until winter came to Minnesota. I built an insulated walled-in platform on top of the table with a door. I built a wall across the upper floor that stretched to the ceiling.

I added electrical outlets and an electric heater. I was in my glory while I figured out how to get a 2nd hand computer to control the FT-847 and the Yaesu 5500 rotators.

I must have climbed the ladder 1000 times in an effort to get the long yagi’s and 2.4 GHz dish pointed in the right direction.

On January 2nd 2004 I made my first contact on AO-40. Then I heard it; the scratching sound in the ceiling of my newly insulated shed.

In the middle of my first Satellite QSO a Giant Squirrel dropped right into my lap!

I immediately stood up in a space that was too small to stand straight up. As my head crashed thru the sheet rock every nut the squire had squirreled away for the last three months rained down on my feet.

Realizing this squirrel was as big as a cat and not happy, I decided it was time to be somewhere else.

In my haste to leave the area I slipped on the nuts and smashed the wooden chair I had been sitting on with all my 280lbs of self.

I was still able to scoot through the door that I had to kneel down to get in to faster than any other man alive.

My foot missed the 5-gallon bucket I was using for a step. I landed flat on my back on the floor. The Giant Squirrel ran across my chest and burst through the heavy insulated shed door held shut with a bungee cord.

It was then I realized 3 things.
1) I was still wearing my headphones.
2) I still have a QSO in progress.
3) I just got my butt kicked by a squirrel.


APRS Icon for a Lighthouse

August 17, 2006

\L AL Lighthouse

Station Books

August 16, 2006

I want to finish up my station books tonight. I got the idea from an eHam article, but the idea behind a station book is just a consolidation of all the equipments manuals as well as a station layout diagram (to include wiring diagrams).

I’m creating a book for the main shack, the ARSIB, my Tundra mobile, and the Avalon mobile.

Quick & Dirty: APRS WX Station?

August 16, 2006

I want to put together an inexpensive APRS WX station for my dad, KD6EUG, to install up at his cabin in Mi-Wuk Village, CA. There was an article in the July 2006 QST that talked about one solution. But the big price tag comes with the weather station itself.

Today I found a nice, inexpensive solution from TAPR, the T-238+MODEM2 Kit. Not only is it APRS ready, it also incorporates it’s own TNC. The weather station components that it works with, 1-Wire™ Weather Instrument Kit V3.0, and also doesn’t break the bank.

We’ll see how this project comes together. For the radio, I will use either an FT-1500M (ideal for the job) or an HTX-242 if I can ensure it’s capable of the task. I like the W3BW (see QST article) solution of using a gel cell with a trickle charger. Should the shore power drop out, the APRS weather station should function for quite some time.

Speaking of WX stations…. you can go here to see the weather at the home QTH.

Looking at the APRS activity around Mi-Wuk, I’m seeing the following nearby stations:

K6TUO-3: looks like a digipeater in Sonora, sponsored by the Tuolumne County Amateur Radio & Electronics Society (TCARES).
K6NFL: over in the town of Arnold, Dave has a very nice wx page.
KE6KYI: located in Groveland.