Digital Ham Radio

This past year, I’ve been dabbling more in the digital voice modes for ham radio. I really like the digital audio quality and, I’ll admit, the networking aspect of it all is keeping me interested.

I’ve just added a page to keep track of helpful links and information resources as I find them. My ham readers might find them useful.

 

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Posted in Ham Radio

My HamRadioNow Interview Part 2

Just completed Part 2 of a video interview on HamRadioNow with host and producer Gary Pearce KN4AQ. This time around, we’re talking about the Internet and ham radio.
Non-hams might also enjoy this though, as we discuss quite a few general web sites and handy applications. A full list is below…
Here’s the link to the show:
 Here are links to the sites we discussed in the interview:
General
 Social Media
Ham Radio
 Weather
Ham Radio Clubs
Posted in Ham Radio, Internet

Get on the Air!

My recent video interview on HamRadioNow has generated a few questions on ham radio. For those folks wanting more info, I’ve just added a new Get on the Air tab on my website with links to explain what it’s all about and how to get started in this terrific hobby.

Posted in Ham Radio | Tagged

A Video Conversation Covering 50 Years

Fifty years ago, I had just gotten my ham radio license and was working local hams with my $45 Heathkit radio and homemade coat hanger antenna. One of the first guys I talked to was Gary Pearce, WN9NSO, located in a nearby suburb. We had a lot in common, so we often chatted on the radio in the evenings throughout high school and college.

Gary and I later served together on the board of directors of the Chicago FM Club and then headed in different directions. Gary went on to a career in broadcast and video production in North Carolina shortly, and my new wife and I moved to Texas.

Recently, Gary and I ran into each other on the Internet and he asked to interview me for his long running video podcast series HamRadioNow.  We had planned to chat about social media and the Internet, but veered off into swapping stories about the “old days” on ham radio.ARVN-6

Hams (especially older ones) will get a kick out of this video, but anyone wondering what it was like “growing up on the radio” in the 60’s might enjoy the video stream. There were quite a few interesting characters on the air with us back then. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-owWhOy2hk

We’re planning a Part Two soon where we’ll actually talk about the Internet.

 

Posted in Ham Radio

Weather Stations

I just posted an article on weather stations here at Cedar Creek Lake, and of course mine is down for repairs!

Posted in News

50 Years later, Ode to a Radio

2014 marks fifty years since I passed my “beginner” ham radio license exam. The Novice class license required a Morse code send and receive test at very slow speed, and a multiple choice exam on basic electronics and ham radio rules and regs. The license was valid for only one year and could never be renewed. In that one year, you were expected to upgrade to a higher level class.

I passed the next license class up with two months to spare, and scoured ham magazines for a radio that I afford. I found it in a Heathkit catalog, a 5 watt VHF AM transceiver called the “Twoer.” Many hams jokingly named it the Benton Harbor Lunchbox, since Heath was based in Benton Harbor Michigan, and, well, it DID look like a lunchbox!

The Twoer was something even a high school kid on an allowance could afford! I was able to build the kit on my own, asked for help from my high school radio club buddies getting it tuned it up, and I was on the air.

VHF is a local-only radio band and I only used 5 watts, but I still had a ball talking to other hams around the Chicago area, and experimenting with antennas fashioned out of coat hangars. I remember the excitement of contacting a San Angelo TX ham during a rare atmospheric event. He even wanted a diagram of the antenna that I had built!

Reminiscing about that old radio recently, I couldn’t resist heading over to eBay. For $26 plus postage, I now have another Twoer here in the ham shack. I didn’t expect much when I plugged it in (and stood back) but the tubes lit up and it actually receives and transmits!

Ham radio has come a long way since the Twoer, but it’ll be here on the shelf as a fun reminder of my early days!

twoer

Posted in Ham Radio

Cedarcreeklake.com

I’ve begun authoring an occasional article on technology topics for cedarcreeklake.com, a thriving website serving the lake area. The column is geared for the non-technical person.  Here’s my latest installment.

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Talkin’ Ham Radio at GBC Chapter Chamber Meeting

I had a chance to serve as guest speaker at the June 20 meeting of the Gun Barrel City Chapter of the Greater Cedar Creek Lake Chamber of Commerce. The topic was ham radio, storm spotting and the Cedar Creek Lake Amateur Radio Club.

The Monitor, our local lake paper, did a nice write-up on the talk.  Only one correction from all my ramblings: the NWS has not split Henderson County into two SAME codes for weather alert purposes (although they could in the future).

Here a link to the story.

Chamber 1

Monitor Photo/Susan Harrison
Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Gun Barrel City chapter breakfast speaker and Henderson County Amateur Radio Emergency Services Coordinator Rich Casey (left) and member Ed Busch hold their ham radios, which are available in a variety of sizes.

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Cedar Creek Lake Chamber Leadership Class

I was a member of the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber Leadership class for 2012-2013. Our class met monthly beginning last Fall, touring facilities and meeting with various local leaders. Topics included city and county government, the Texas Legislature, healthcare, education, economic development and police and fire departments.

We just finished the course in July. It was an interesting and an eye opening experience for me; I learned quite a bit about how our community works.  The lake area is not one town but several small towns, and learning how it all fits together was enlightening for a city guy like me.

I understand many Chambers of Commerce throughout the U.S. offer a Leadership class; if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area, I highly recommend it!

Monitor Photo/Susan Harrison Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom (center front row) presents the 2012-13 Leadership Class with plaques July 11. Graduates pictured (front row from left) are Linda Fernald, Hanstom, Rev. Dana Coker, (middle row from left) Becky Hepker, Mendy Davis, Gina Dieterich, Laura Capehart, (back row from left) Will Grissom and Rich Casey. Not pictured are Timothy Cline, Tobi Story, Bruce Lawrence and Sherry Andrus.

Monitor Photo/Susan Harrison
Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom (center front row) presents the 2012-13 Leadership Class with plaques on July 11. Graduates pictured (front row from left) are Linda Fernald, Hanstom, Rev. Dana Coker, (middle row from left) Becky Hepker, Mendy Davis, Gina Dieterich, Laura Capehart, (back row from left) Will Grissom and Rich Casey. Not pictured are Timothy Cline, Tobi Story, Bruce Lawrence and Sherry Andrus.

Leadership Class Meets with County Judge Richard Sanders (far right in this picture)

Last Fall, the  Class Met with County Judge Richard Sanders (the far right in this picture)

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A Smart Watch Named Pebble

photo (26)There’s been talk of an iWatch (Apple Watch) for so long it’s almost a foregone conclusion that there’ll be one someday.  But an Internet community funded Kickstarter program has produced an interesting alternative. It’s called a Pebble, and I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks; here are some impressions.

So, what’s a Pebble? It’s a smart watch that connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android phone. From there, you tell it what to do. You can view your texts, incoming phone calls, emails and anything you can “push” to the watch. There are also downloadable watch faces to choose from; you can store seven at one time on your Pebble.

Features include a crisp epaper display that’s very readable in any light and a backlight that comes on with a flick of the wrist. The watch runs approximately 6-7 days on a charge. It’s water resistant and feels very well made.

The Pebble is not small; the standard 22 mm watch band is an indication of just how big it is. Since I had been wearing a Suunto outdoor watch, it’s about the same size for me.  The photo above shows it on my average-sized wrist.  By the way, I’m in direct sunlight. As you can see, the screen is really legible!

The Pebble allows me to control my iTunes selections on the fly… one click to pause, skip to the next song, etc. And Runkeeper has just announced that it integrates with the Pebble.   Maybe that will get me to start exercising again!

Using the If This Then That website menus provide all sorts of possibilities with the Pebble.  I have it send me a weather forecast each evening at 7 p.m.. And weather warnings via Weather Underground text messages have been especially useful.

watchface2

The Software Development Kit for Pebble was just released, and I expect all sorts of creative applications will be developed over time.  The watch face coding standards were released earlier in the year, and there are now quite a few watch faces free to download; check out My Pebble Faces.

While I’ve only had my Pebble for two weeks, it’s already become a part of my daily routine. My wrist watch vibrates and I check it; it might be a text message or a phone call. Many times I don’t have to fish the iPhone out of my pocket. 

Email notification is still flakey from an iPhone, and who needs that anyway? I do wish caller ID worked; right now, it just displays the phone number. By the way, both caller ID and email messages work fine on an Android phone. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

All in all, it was a long wait for the Pebble but it was worth it! It’s limited feature set is just the beginning; it will be fun to see what this thing will do in a few months.

You can’t buy one just yet. The Pebble folks are still fulfilling orders from their Kickstarter backers (all 68,000 of us)!  But they are taking pre-orders, if you’re interested.

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