Category: amateur radio

Programming the KST V6

It’s pretty simple once you get the hang. First of all you have to set the I/O to 1.6MHz for the 222MHz band. This is done by doing the following:

– Press the orange F key and then the 9 key to get into settings

– Scroll to option 4 with the up and down keys – until the frequency differential reads 01.60

– Press the F key to save it.

Now the repeater offsets will work. The radio has a split personality – it originally started out as a radio for 2m and 70cm so now that it’s on 1.25m it retains the 10MHz offset which doesn’t work so doing the above gets you set to go!

So now key in your frequency – for my example I just programmed in the 224.060 repeater with negative offset and CTCSS of 103.5.

1) Enter the frequency into the radio, in this case 224.060.

2) To set the offset hold down the orange F key and press 5 and it cycles between none, positive and negative offset. Another relic of 2m and 70cm here.

3) To set the CTCSS press the orange F key and then the 8 button. Then use the navigation buttons to scroll to item 14 which is the 103.5Hz CTCSS tone to access the repeater.

4) To save the repeater in memory press the orange F key and then the * key. Use the direction buttons to choose a memory slot to store the memory. The radio does not automatically go to next empty slot btw, so try to remember where you started.

5) Once you’ve programmed it in the radio will be in channel mode. To switch back to Frequency mode hit the # (VM) key. You can continue to add repeaters following the steps above.

** Special Note ***

To change the power level on a channel simply hit the orange F key and the # key. It toggles between lighting the little L indicators in the display and turning it off. When the indicator is off it’s in high power mode. Save the channel again (F+*).

I hope this helps folks out. It’s a whole lot more clear this way than in the Chinese to English manual.

Coronal Mass Ejections: What you should know

If you have watched any television news program or visited any of the news sites online you have probably seen the gloom and doom warnings about the latest CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) that was hurtling a plasma made up of particles toward earth.

You then heard it could affect GPS, communication systems, electric distribution, etc.

Well, they had predicted a category 3 solar storm, in reality it was only a category 1. But even still, the Earth has what is called a magnetosphere. Has something to do with that mass of molten metal in the core of the planet generating a huge protective magnetic bubble around us. We experience that magnetic activity using a compass.

Look at the image below:

That little ball in the middle, that is Earth. See how the magnetic field deflects particles coming from the sun?

What this means is that terrestrial networks, particularly the wired kind are relatively protected. But if you get a particularly strong particle storm, it can induce currents in a wire and that can cause issues. For example, the electrical grid in the U.S. is synchronized for frequency. Induced currents in the line will trigger protective mechanisms in the network.

And those same particles can play with RF gear too. Hence GPS satellites. But let me put it this way, GPS was originally for the U.S. military. I’m pretty sure that even back when they shot those satellites into orbit, they knew that they’d be a bit exposed out there. So they developed methods to shield the electronics, to harden them. If you’ve ever owned anything rated MIL-STD you’ll see what I’m talking about. My old Yaesu FT-2500 was a MIL-STD radio. Built like a tank!

I sold the FT-2500 and a Kenwood TH-27 to a friend and got a Yaesu FT-5100. And that was a very modifiable radio. I actually submitted a couple of the mods.

But here is the part that interests me. You probably know from reading the above that I not only have my amateur radio Extra license, I also hold a commercial radio license too.

And we amateurs and radio people know that the sun goes through about an eleven year cycle from solar maximum to solar minimum. When the sun is in solar max (or a couple years before and after the actual maximum) the E1 and E2 layers of the atmosphere do get charged by particles coming from our star, Sol, the Sun. And when those E1 and E2 layers are charged, a magical thing happens in the world of HF amateur radio. HF being High Frequency but the reality is today it isn’t so high when we’re slinging signals in the GHz range all over the place.

But what happens is that signals BOUNCE off those charge layers. So using an antenna that radiates outward some of your signal will hit the E1 or E2 layer and bounce across the globe.

So if you are an amateur, get on 10m, 20m, 40m and up and make those DX contacts. For while the news will spell gloom and doom, we know that a charged upper atmosphere is good for propagation.

So there you have it. Yes solar storms can cause some havoc but we’ve known about them for a number of years now and we actually build to accommodate the occasional hit.

I AM a Ham

So occasionally The Tonight Show has some redeeming value. In this case it put morse code (Or as we hams call it, CW for Continuous Wave.) up against test messaging.

The gentleman sending the morse code is using what is called paddles. Paddles are sweet but I’d have rather seen this done with a plain old fashioned key.

Here’s the video:

And as a ham who did his 20WPM code without issue, I must say that working CW is lots of fun.

For example, a while back I got a QSL card from a ham in Germany. The card stated it was a CW contact but I haven’t worked CW in years.

So apparently someone needs to improve their copy skills.

FCC drops morse code requirement for amateur radio

Was surfing slashdot when I found an article stating that the FCC had abolished the the morse code requirement necessary for a licensee to access the HF bands.

I was first licensed as a no-code technician in 1992. Over the course of a year I practiced my morse code using Gordon West’s practice tapes. Matter of fact a camping trip in July of 1992 gave me ample opportunity to study as it did nothing but rain for four out of seven days. Came back from the trip and passed my elements 1B and 3A to get my general class license. Then studied for element 4A which would result in my advanced class license, and finally took element 1C and 4B to get my extra class license.

The 1n elements were morse code, 5WPM, 13WMP and 20WPM.

What this does is give me rights to gripe. My buddy is an extra who only had to do 13WPM code and I rag on him about that constantly. Now we’re going to have extras on the HF bands with absolutely no knowledge of morse code.

What is this world coming to? Instant gratification for all.

Something unexpected in todays mail

So I get home and check the mail. What to my surprise should appear but a QSL card.

A QSL card for you non-hams is a way to acknowledge a contact. I’ve got quite a few from people I’ve conversed with over the years. But anyhow, this wouldn’t be so unusual except for one little fact. I haven’t been active on the amateur radio bands for a good five years now. Well, with the exception of every now and then firing up on 2m or 70cm bands.

My first thought was, “Uh oh, someone is using my callsign on the HF bands (High Frequency, then there’s VHF and UHF, I’ll let you figure those out. A hint though, VHF is where the 2m band lives (144-148MHz) and UHF is where the 70cm band lives (420-450MHz).

While IM’ing with a fellow ham buddy, I noticed that the card indicated that we ‘conversed’ on 26-11-06 at 14:28GMT, which in my time zone would be 9:28AM. It happened on the 20m band on 14.001MHz and my RST (Readability, Signal and Tone) was 599 which is pretty much excellent.

The conversation mode was CW (Continuous Wave) or morse code for the uninitiated.

I’m afraid that DL6IAN didn’t copy a callsign correctly, else I’d not have gotten his QSL card. But here’s the thing, he needs RI to get his Worked All States certificate, so I’ll send him a nice QSL card. Least I can do for the guy, particularly since he did spring for postage and included an SAE (Self Addressed Envelope).

Oh, a bonus:

The formula for getting the band wavelength in meters is 300/f where f is the center frequency of the band. So in the case of the 2m band which runs 144-148MHz I’d take 146MHz as my center and 300/146 = 2.05m. Other bands don’t work so nicely, 70cm is actually more like 66 or 67cm. But we abhor lots of decimal places if we can help it, so we round it up to70cm.

70cm btw is ab out 27.6 inches. That’s the distance it takes for a complete sine wave to occur.

Can you tell we hams like acronyms? And to my regular readers, sorry I went a little technical there. Had to do it though and you likely learned something reading this post.