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This page contains articles that were on the home page that you may have missed reading.  Really don t want to throw them away because they do have some good reading. 

 


 Ham Dismayed Rig Hasn’t Needed Repairs

By K5KVN, on the scene

LONG PINE, NEBRASKA.

I guess I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into,” said Trey Arend, blankly staring at his Hallicrafters SR-150 as it perfectly received an 80m roundtable.

Arend bought his first Boat Anchor five years ago imagining long evenings aligning oscillators and testing tubes. “It was going to be a labor of love,” he said, spinning the precision-calibrated VFO. He leans down and checks into the net, asking for a signal report. He is met with “59s” and “20 overs.” He regularly hears “great audio, old man” blasting from the speaker. “Armchair copy!”

I don’t know what I am doing wrong,” Arend says as he flicks off the well-grounded and regulated power supply. “I have tried everything. Bumping the desk hard enough to knock it out of alignment; occasional coffee spills. I am at a loss.”

I bought this oscilloscope, tube tester, and digital multimeter expecting to use it,” he says. Arend wipes a layer of dust from the pristine boxes. “I guess I’ll mark them up a bit and try to offload them at the next hamfest.”

As of press time Arend was searching classifieds for a worked-the-last-time-I-turned-it-on” Swan 350A.

 


Children Tangled in Dipole After Special Event Station Becomes Pokéstop

by K5KAC, on the scene:

 

VERMILION, OREGON – The Vermilion City Amateur Radio Club awoke early yesterday morning to the cries of local children tangled in their 80m dipole. pokemon_dipole.

“From far away I could see the screens of their iPhones glowing as they called out for help in getting untangled. It was the loudest racket I’ve ever heard,” said Ash Allman, who lead the effort in freeing the kids.

The children were caught in the dipole after the S.S. Anne Park and Marina was named a Pokéstop in the popular mobile game Pokémon GO. A Pokéstop is an area, typically a landmark or park, where Pokémon Trainers can converge to get prizes and set lures to attract rare Pokémon characters. A player must physically visit these locations to collect the rewards.

“We were all set up to work into the night, but the band conditions went south so we decided to get some rest,” lamented Misty Brock, the event organizer. “It wasn’t until morning that we found about a dozen kids wrapped up in the legs of the dipole.”

At press time, the special event station had been forced to cease operation due to lack of participation, with one member finding a high-level Charmander character in his tent and the rest wandering the nearby tree line looking for a Clefairy.

 


Song Played on 14.313 Wins Grammy

By K5KVN, on the scene

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — A Los Angeles songwriter was thrilled – but totally surprised – when he won a Grammy for an obscure song he wrote two years ago.

The award was announced at a small event the day after the Grammys and was not televised. At the ceremony, Grammy officials said the song had been played more than 2,500 times on 14.313 MHz. The tally came directly from Official Observer reports and complaints from around the amateur radio community.

The songwriter, Eldon Jarvis, has been a struggling instrumental composer for more than 10 years but specializes in what he describes as “songs that annoy people.” He says he was told about winning the award, the first he’s ever won, while eating a microwave pizza at his home.

“I had never heard of ham radio or a radio station called 14.313. Do they play instrumental jazz?” says Jarvis.

He says he has learned a great deal about amateur radio this week and will tap into his new fame by launching a new website at songstoQRMpeople.com.

The award-winning song, as well as various other compositions and musical sound effects can be heard nearly 24/7 on 14.313 MHz.

 


 

Optimistic 6m DXer Ready for Opening of the Year 

By K5KAC on the scene

LOW POINT, ILLINOIS — It’s that magic time of year,” said Saul Stuss, as he tested the SWR on a neglected rotatable aluminum dipole hanging in his backyard. “Last year I was able to get in one complete DX QSO before the band quit on me. I can’t wait to see what happens this year!”

If Saul is able to make more than one DX QSO on 6m, he will join a handful of hams who were able to complete the impressive feat. There have been claims that the NRRL is currently in the process of minting “about a dozen” coins for hams who are able to work 6m long this year.

For a period of time in the late 80s through the 90’s, it was believed that it was possible to make many contacts on the 6m band, however the majority of these QSOs have been attributed to cordless phone interference. “I try to forget that part of my life and look forward to the next opening!” Saul stated emphatically.

As of press time, the squelch had broken on Saul’s transceiver once, but he was in the kitchen and signals had faded by the time he made it to his rig.

 


 

Study Determines Top 5 Reasons for Attending Hamfests

By WBØRUR on the scene

NEWINGSTEAD, Vermont – The National Radio Retransmission Legion (NRRL) has results in-hand of a high-level study determining the primary reasons amateur radio operators attend swap meets, commonly called “hamfests.”

Commissioned in 2009 with a price tag of more than $85,000, the NRRL hopes to pinpoint the major reasons for attendance and share those motivators among member clubs. The goal is to provide club guidance and grow this facet of the hobby.

The famed Hoovingmeyer Institute of Rottsdam, Arizona, performed the 3-year-long analysis using the latest scientific methods.

“As you might suspect,” says Hoovingmeyer Institute Executive Director Michael F. Smithton, “the reasons for attending are as varied as the attendees themselves. However, our patented algorithms and pivot tables have determined 5 commonalities. We believe these will be helpful to the NRRL membership.”

Smithton says the top 5 reasons ham radio operators attend hamfests are (in rank order):

5) See if “that guy” is there again,
4) Purchase home-crafted jewelry, kitchen utensils and/or doilies,
3) Return the LED name badge purchased last year that has stopped working,
2) There’s doughnuts and strong, black coffee at the snack bar; and
1) Lunch at the ‘all you can eat’ buffet afterwards.

NRRL President Ray Fergie says the findings are “eye-openers” and will be integrated into the NRRL’s long-term strategy and membership campaigns. “We think these will be key elements to future club growth,” says Fergie, adding, “We might even encourage hamfest organizers to hold their own “all you can eat” events.

No word if bacon will be on the menu; but it should be.

Smithton says the NRRL will share the results with members after someone figures out how to use PowerPoint.

 


 

Big Changes Coming To Field Day

By , on the scene

NEWINGSTEAD, VT — In a controversial decision, the National Radio Retransmission Legion (NRRL) will no longer accept Field Day score summaries on paper beginning next year.

The organization had no choice, says NRRL Director of Contests and Promotions Dr. Johnson Longsville.

“This year we received over 1,200 hand written log entries,” says Longsville. “And about 80% of them are illegible.”

The contest director says it’s not poor hand writing which creates the issue, but food.

“This year we saw it all. One club entry was complete with smeared apple pie and Cool Whip.  Another included BBQ sauce. One club even submitted an entire chicken salad sandwich with their entry…and the mayonnaise ran all over the bonus point section. Completely illegible.”

Longsville provides this breakdown of “foreign particulates” submitted with entries.

1. Coffee and or creamer stains: 462

2. Cherry pie (or other fruit) filling: 276

3. Mustard/ketchup/alternative condiment: 194

4.  Bacon grease and fried egg: 143

5. Fosters Beer: 1

Longsville says in the future, clubs must download a 4.5 terabyte logging and score-keeping app, submit a pass code request from NRRL, and run Linux Red Hat version 2.8 on a 8GB ram desktop computer.

Additionally, uploads to the NRRL computer must be made with a Level 4 VPN secure connection similar to those used in the NORAD Command Center.

“We know it’s a bit of a difficult process for most clubs to get this set up,” says Longsville.

“But it’s still easier than setting up Logbook of the World.”

 


 

Wofargs HT's

 

By WBØRUR, on the scene

FISH BAIT, Washington. A new fad in amateur radio communications across the tiny hamlet of Fish Bait, Washington, has left the local VHF repeater quiet.

Fish Bait Amateur Radio Club President Jakob Rovingmeyer of Eastern Evergreen Parrish, says problems started last month after everyone in the club bought an inexpensive $35 Chinese handie-talkie.

"We agreed that we should test a unit or two and determine the reliability of the Wofarg HT.  Before you know it, they were selling 'em like hot cakes to us. Within two weeks, there were 25 or more Wofargs' in the club".

Poor receiver sensitivity and four watts output means conversations on the repeater are very rare now.

"With the topography in Fish Bait, no one is able to hit the repeater. And when you can, no one hears it".

Rovingmeyer says radio communication is so poor, they can't hold their regular club net to plan another in-person meeting; so they're stuck using the HTs for now.

"Maybe I"ll bump into a few of the guys down at the barber shop next week when I get my hair cut",says Rovingmeyer. "But, hey, until then, we're saving a ton of money on our repeater electricity bill".

 


 

FCC Expanding License Printing Options

By WB0RUR, on the scene

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a shocking turnaround, the Federal Communications Commission has reversed its decision to halt the printing of paper amateur radio licenses. In fact, federal administrators say they will do just the opposite and expand printing options available to ham operators.

"We really didn't understand the outcry that would come from the ham radio community," says Pontus "Smokey" Blumenthal, FCC spokesman "We are getting a lot of bad press on the forums, in social media and at ham club meetings. We were only attempting to reduce overhead, lower our expenses and bring the budget more in line with expected revenues. But we may have been shortsighted and are now seeing new cash flow opportunities."

Blumenthal says effective April 1, applicants receiving a new license or current amateurs renewing existing licenses may opt for one of several print options for a nominal charge. At press time those options are:

      • Plain paper; license emailed to you; print at home: FREE
      • Heavy card stock print at agency and shipped in mailing tube to your home: $19.95 plus shipping and handling
      • "Old World Style" parchment  with the words "Past Here Be Sea Monsters" along the margins, printed and shipped to your house in well-packed box: $49.95 plus tip for the delivery guy.
    • Richly colored vellum paper with license info printed in squid ink; printed and shipped to your home in a hermetically sealed box: $129.95 
    • License printed on actual 1-inch thick sheet of lucite suitable for use as an entire radio operating desk top; printed by laser etcher and shipped via common carrier truck to your residence (no P.O. Box delivery): $1299
    • Deer hide license  Tanned 3x3deer hide(shown to the right),license is hand printed by Native American Navajo artisans using buffalo ink; printed and shipped to your home in a secured shipping container accompanied by armed guard: $4250 (Note: the FCC does not keep deer hide in stock and must dispatch a team of hunters each time an order is placed, so be patient.)

Blumenthal says all hams should take advantage of this new vanity licensing printing program. However he encourages orders to be placed soon; they are managed on a first come, first served basis.

 


 

Ham Club Squabble Over Field Day Preps Ends With Fisticuffs

 

By WBØRUR, on the scene

GOLDEN SPIKE, Montana – The monthly meeting of the Gold Diggers Amateur Radio Club ended abruptly last night at the local Sizzler when insults and yeast rolls were hurled.

Lou Rodden, the club president, says it began as the club was discussing Field Day preparations.

Club member Junior Brown says someone else can handle ordering food for Field Day this year. “We just made it through the first trip to the buffet line when it escalated out of control. There’s bad blood and tension among members after the fiasco of last year.”

Previously, club members brought “pot-luck” food and shared their contributions with others. However, last year, the club majority voted to cater a meal, rather than prepare on-site.

“Unfortunately, Junior Brown – the person responsible for the catering last year – forgot to order it. It was like working QSOs at a funeral wake after that,” says Rodden.

Watonga County Sheriff’s Deputy “Diamond Jim” Simpson investigated the disturbance at the Sizzler last night.

“Someone said quote, ‘Eat hearty. There won’t be any food at Field Day if Junior is involved.'”

“It really was a mess. They knocked $50 worth of sirloin tips off the cutting board, landed a big cloverleaf roll in the French dressing and spilled two pots of vegetable soup onto an elderly lady celebrating her 80th birthday.”

No arrests were made, but the group was issued a warning for unruly conduct and advised to hold meetings elsewhere from this point forward.

Rodden says they’ll resume Field Day discussions in two weeks when the club meets at St. Mary Francis Parochial School at 7:00 p.m.

 


 

NRRL Servers Hacked; Members Like It

 

By K5KVN, on the scene

NEWINGSTEAD, Vt. — The National Radio Retransmission Legion (NRRL) says their email servers were hacked this week, exposing the personal email addresses of all of its members.

NRRL officials were unabashedly happy about the security breach, saying that most of the thousands of ham radio operators that received the spam emails were actually glad to get them.

“One guy told me that getting an email containing a photo of a partially nude woman was quite thrilling!” said NRRL president Ray Fergie. “Another told me that the Viagra coupon he received was exactly what he needed. He thanked the NRRL for providing such personalized service!”

Roberto Turnbuckle, a 72-year-old NRRL member from San Antonio, wasn’t concerned with receiving six emails about Diabetes medication. “As I said on the 80m Lone Star Net last night, I actually need to order a refill, so the timing couldn’t be better.”

In an emergency meeting of the NRRL board of directors to discuss the matter today, Fergie said, “I wish we would have thought of hacking our own servers. Our members are particularly enjoying the mail-order bride emails. Membership is up 120%!”

He added that anti-spam security on the servers may actually be relaxed in the coming weeks. “Based on the feedback, it seems NRRL members were disappointed that this wasn’t intentional. We received a number of requests to re-enroll members in the spam lists.”

 


 

Woman Creates Candles As Excuse To Attend Hamfests

By WBØRUR, on the scene

WEST MOLINE, Nebraska – A Nebraska woman is offering a line of “ham radio scented” candles just in time for purchase at the Dayton Hamvention.

Maudie Carlisle of rural Milford County has been producing top-selling scented votives for over 20 years, but this is her first foray into amateur radio themed products.

She sells her wares – produced in her Nebraska root cellar – at over 50 arts and crafts fairs each year under the “Carlisle’s Cornhusker Candles” brand.

“Usually, we sell floral scented candles…with names like ‘Lilac Valley Surprise’, ‘Night in a Damp Rose Garden’ and ‘I See a Bright Chrysanthemum; Let’s Pick It,’” says the gray haired grandmother, who adds that she became interested in candle making after taking a class at the local extension service office.

“My husband’s been a ham radio operator for years, and he encouraged me to come up with “ham radio scented” candles so I can travel with him to hamfests,” she says.

Carlisle’s Cornhusker ham radio scented candles – stylishly designed to look good on any ham radio operating desk or fireplace mantel – will be offered in 5 intoxicating ham radio aromas:

  • “MY FINALS ARE ON FIRE MUSK”
  • “INSULATION BURNING OFF POWER LEADS”
  • “BITTER, BITTER COFFEE AND CIGARETTE SMOKE”
  • “SOMEONE NEEDS A SHOWER AND IT AIN’T ME”
  • “I SHOULD HAVE LOOKED FOR THE CAT BEFORE I FIRED UP THE AMPLIFIER”

Maudie says the Dayton Hamvention is her first big hamfest experience, although she has sold product at local hamfests;  usually next to the lady selling doilies, the lady selling home-made jewelry and the guy selling bottles of grape juice with amazing healing properties.

 


 

Long Time Net Has No Check-Ins; NCS Undeterred

By WBØRUR, on the scene

PARSIPPANY, Pennsylvania — Rutherford County “ham radio” operator Thomas Von Funcktoven has served as net control station of the “Arizona AU-1 Transmitter Collector’s Net” since February of 1984. To date, he’s had no check-ins. Not a single one.

“We meet every other Saturday at 1300GMT on 14.287 MHz,” says the retired chicken farmer, stretching out his suspenders emblazoned with images of a Rhode Island Red.

“I’ve been on the air with that net since the winter of ’84, just like clockwork.”

Von Funcktoven’s net honors the memory of the Arizona AU-1 transmitter and the “Add-A-Piece” transmitter kit, which people didn’t understand back in 1937 and – three decades later – still don’t comprehend.

“The idea of the “Add-A Piece” program was to build your transmitter piece-by-piece. You bought this piece and then you bought that piece. Several times. Of course, it wouldn’t actually transmit until you bought the last piece, which could mean years and years of hording war ration coupons and saving your grocery change in your pocketbook.”

His HF net gives collectors of the obscure transmitter a chance to return the vintage vacuum tube radios to the air, swap stories about operating the units and share tips for renovation. The trouble is there are no other units left in existence except the one in Von Funcktoven’s shack.

“I didn’t think this thing through on the front end,” says the befuddled ham. “I just assumed there MUST be others out there. But I’m in too deep now. I’m committed. I can’t cancel the net after 30 years!”

Von Funcketoven says he held out hope for the first 10 years that another Arizona AU-1 would turn up in a barn or chicken coop or an old warehouse and be put back onto the air

“Oh, it’ll be grand!” he exclaims. “We’ll share terrific stories.”

So far, it hasn’t happened. Until then, net control keeps a stiff upper lip and dreams of the day he has a check-in. Just one.

If you are in the Parsippany area, feel free to stop by Von Funcketoven’s shack for a bottle of New Coke and a Caramello bar. Look for the Edsel in the driveway and ring the doorbell.

 


 

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS Safety First!

by Cory Sickles, WA3UVV

Unlike solid-state electronics, which operate with lower voltages and relatively high currents, hollow-state electronics operate with high voltages and relatively low currents.  In a CB rig, it is not uncommon to find voltages between 150 to 350 volts - perhaps more.

If you are going to put your fingers inside the cabinet, please do so when the set is off and unplugged.  While the higher-voltage power supply should have a bleeder resistor to slowly discharge the electrolytic capacitors that filter such voltages, things happen when radios age - or others fool around with "golden screwdrivers" and that resistor may not be there , as designed.

NEVER put yourself in a position where a high-voltage to ground discharge can occur through your chest - commonly by placing one finger on a connection while the other hand is touching ground. That's effectively how a defibrillator works.  While it's great to start a stopped heart, it can also stop one that's running - not good.

The best overall rule is to make sure you keep one hand behind your back or in your pocket.  At the very least, keep it "out of range".  Plus, stay aware of where the mains - voltage - connections are. You don't want to casually encounter one of those exposed points, either.  Also, be aware that tubes get hot, not just warm.  Bottom line, watch where you put your fingers.

The upside is that such radios are easy to work on, especially when compared to surface mount technology.  The circuits are well-spaced, large component designs, that are easily traced and understood.  Kids like me learned electronics by experimenting with circuits that were laid out point-to-point.

With all questions I used to ask the TV repairmen who showed up, I'm surprised they never charged my family for the "educational content" of their visits.  Some were even kind enough to "share" some parts now and then, including the ham who let me have a pair of used chassis' for the foundation of my first amateur radio transmitter.

 


 

NASA Experiment!

This next article was sent to me by Chris VE5BAR. Very interesting things are happening from the planet to outer space. Thanks Chris, greatly appreciate the info

NASA undertook an experiment to contact the Juno spacecraft as it flew by earth in an effort to obtain more speed using the sling shot affect of gravity assist on its way to Jupiter. The spacecraft was launched August 5, 2011 and will arrive to study planet Jupiter in July of 2016.

The experiment that involved ham radio was for hundreds of operators to key down at a certain time on a given frequency and if the spacecraft heard the transmission it would send Morse code back on the same frequency. For more information on the Juno mission and to learn more about the ham radio project check out the Internet links shown below

Juno Mission main web page http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Video on ham radio Juno experiment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_yqHy_MpNiQ 

 


 

INSTRUCT-O-GRAPH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that this model may date back to the 1940's. Apparently my Father did some mods on the "amplifier" and he even left a note in his handwriting to fit a new 1.5 Volt battery and solder up the terminals The unit is driven by a Garrard No 20 clockwork motor and the earphone is definitely part of it but the Morse key may not be the correct one. I have a few old morse keys and will compare with the illustrations in the manual to get the correct one with the kit.

I have a total of 8 tapes with it although there may be two tapes missing from the set. You are more than welcome to publish the pictures in any of your newsletters. you can mention it belonged to the Danie Pretorius from Parys ZS4CN, but I am at this stage not keen to to sell it. Danie Pretorius, 23/04/2014

The Instructograph was a paper tape-based machine used for the study of Morse code. The mechanism consisted of two reels of oil-impregnated paper tape perforated with dots and dashes used to actuate a set of electrical contacts which operated an audio oscillator. The contacts would in turn operate an external sounder, buzzer or oscillator (used by radio operators and railways), or a light for optical communication (used by the Navy for ship-to-ship contact). The earliest versions of the Instructograph used a wind-up phonograph motor with a variable speed governor to power the rotation of the tape reels.

Learning to receive code is generally more difficult than learning to send, and this portable device allowed the student to practice code without the aid of an instructor or fellow student. A full set of training lessons consisted of ten tapes, ranging from the most basic sending tape with practice gaps between characters, to a fully punctuated newspaper article. The tapes had perforations along both edges so that when one side was finished playing, the reel could be flipped over to continue the lesson and rewind it at the same time. By varying the speed of the paper tape, the Morse Code audio could be adjusted from 3 WPM to 40 WPM

The Instruct-o-graph served a very useful purpose when Morse Code was important and audio players were not so common. However, over the years as technology marched on, competition from cassette tape recorders, computer programs and MP3 audio players left the bulky Instruct-o-graph machine in the dust. The Instructograph was in production from about 1920 through 1983

Sources: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructograph Orange County Amateur Radio Club www.w6ze.org/Newsletter-2009

The webmaster has "borrowed" one as this is how she originally learned her CW. Maybe she can get her speed back up once she actually hooks things up and starts to practice.

 


 

Ham Looks for New Hobbies!

by WB0RUR, on the scene PORT ARTHUR, OKLA.

Checotah County ham radio operator Bobby Willis says he’s working exclusively “digital” modes from this day forward.

“I really like the way that you can set up the macros, allow the software to automatically log QSOs, and the ability to work stations with low signal to noise ratios,” says Willis

Willis says he’s been a ham for at least a dozen years, but it was only after four years of “fiddling around” that he actually got his digital mode configurations set the correct way for making contacts.

After you get those digital mode settings correct, don’t touch that dial! “Yeah, it took awhile,” says the retired electrician. “I just didn’t seem to be able to get all the software, knobs, switches, co-ax connections and options set the correct way at the right time.” Now, he says, he’s afraid to change to another mode – or it might take another 4 years to get it all put back for digital again.

By the way, Willis says he’s considering taking up additional hobbies to fill the time while his PSK31 macros transmit: hobbies like “long-exposure photography” and “tracking the constellations across the sky.” You can work Willis on the PSK31 digital mode, Monday – Friday on 14.070MHz on the “Don’t Touch This Net."

 

Also for your enjoyment, take the time to watch this "Old Time Movie about Ham Radio. Sometimes you just have to sit back, relax and have a good laugh. It does take a bit of time to load, so please be patient http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBGIdf0VjQ4

 


 

Study Confirms ORMers are Bad People

 

In keeping with our NE Director's article in the latest QSO, I found this article, written by Kevin Thornton K5KVN rather funny.  Kevin writes the Ham Hijinks.

 

NEWINGSTEAD, Vt. — Results of a worldwide study have confirmed what many ham radio operators have suspected all along: people who purposefully interfere with other transmissions are psychopaths.

The study, conducted over the course of one week by the National Radio Retransmission Legion (NRRL), was released yesterday. “It became immediately clear what kind of people we were dealing with. One week was all we needed to determine that people who QRM are just terrible, nasty trolls,” said Bruno Harlingturn, NRRL Deputy of Scientific Studies. 

The research sought to determine exactly why people engage in malicious interference. QRMers were identified by NRRL interns, who used “inexpensive direction finding equipment” to pinpoint the location of the interference. Many were found on 14.313 MHz in the United States. The interns then sent written surveys to those identified as the source of the interference. 

When asked why they QRM, respondents said, in part:

“I’m actually making it more fun for the hams, by making it more challenging to hear the rare DX through my whistling.” "The longer I press on my J38 key, the more pleasure I receive.” “I enjoy the audio characteristics of belching, particularly when 20 meters goes long late in the day.” " The more beautiful the SSB signal is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.”

Researchers say these answers point to narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy) and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

“Let’s not mince words here. These fools are certifiable nutcases,” said Harlingturn. He said the study was so successful, the NRRL plans to replicate the methodology on a future study. “I think we can soon determine why so many hams use phonetics on two meter repeaters,” Harlingturn said. 

Ham Hijinks will report on that study when it becomes available.

 


 

GLOW BUGS


Glowbug transmitter hand built by AI2Q 

 

Our President Gordon VE5UJ has often talked about the Glowbugs. So this little bit of info is for him and all the other "Glowbug Enthusiasts" 

"Glowbugs" are a related aspect of vintage radio and harken back to the early days of amateur radio, when the majority of hams hand-crafted their own equipment. Smaller in size than "boat anchors", "glowbug" is a term used by US amateurs to describe a simple home-made tube-type radio set, reminiscent of the shortwave radio-building craze of the 1920s and 30s. "Glow" refers to the glow of the vacuum tubes and "bug" to the gear's relatively diminutive size. The Doerle regenerative receiver and Hartley transmitter circuits are considered "classic" glowbug designs. Generally, any small, home-built tube-type transmitter or receiver may be referred to as a glowbug. The majority of glowbug transmitters are designed to be used in the CW radiotelegraphy mode.

As late as the 1960s, glowbugs were part of many beginner ham stations, and the ARRL Radio Amateur Handbook for those years exhibited a number of such simple, tube-based designs. Today, glowbug operators are enjoying a resurgence of interest among QRP enthusiasts and others with a penchant for constructing their own equipment. Many hams are assembling "glowbug rigs" on improvised chassis such as tin cakepans and wooden boards, and putting them on the air between 7040 – 7050 kHz and 7114 – 7125 kHz. Amateur radio Glowbug enthusiasts can often be heard communicating on the shortwave bands via CW using Morse code. Popular frequencies to hear glowbug contacts are around 3560 kHz and also 3579.5 kHz, chosen because crystals for this frequency can be salvaged from discarded color TV sets, along with other transmitter components.

 


 

SOLAR FLARES

 

According to NASA, a flare is a “sudden, rapid and intense variation in brightness.” A solar flare takes place when magnetic energy that has collected in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. Interestingly, the first solar flare documented in astronomical literature was on September 1, 1859. The space agency notes that scientists Richard C. Carrington and Richard Hodgson were independently viewing sunspots at the time, when they observed a big flare in white light.

According to Space.com, the flare is the largest of 2014 and “one of the strongest in recent years.” While this may be the largest solar flare of 2014, what if a flare as strong as the 1859 Carrington Event took place today? That’s the question addressed by National Geographic’s Richard A. Lovett in a 2011 piece for the publication.

According to Lovett, the Carrington Event led to reports of northern lights as far south as Cuban and Honolulu, while southern lights were observed as far north as Santiago, Chile. If an equally-strong event took place today, “the world’s high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.” 

Citing Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Lovett notes that power surges caused by solar particles could destroy giant transformers and, unfortunately, these transformers can take a long time to replace. 

This particular flare is classified as an X4.9-class flare. NASA explains that X-class designates the most powerful flares, while the number offers more information about its power. For example, an X2 is twice as powerful as an X1, an X3 is three times as powerful, etc. 

What do you think would happen if we experienced the largest solar flare ever recorded? 

 

 

 

 

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