Boy Scout Radio merit badge updates

January 1st saw some updates to various Boy Scout requirements, including those for the Radio merit badge.

Most of the changes are clerical in nature, such as moving to its own item the requirement to explain how WWV can be used to determine propagation. For the Amateur Radio option, the requirement to have a 10-minute QSO was moved to the end of the item, to put it in more of a logical sequence and imply that the other requirements be done first, in order to give greater understanding to making the QSO. (The requirements can be done in any order, however, and Scouts who are licensed hams can submit evidence of QSOs already made.)

Perhaps the most significant update is the addition of a fourth option for the experiential requirement. Continue reading “Boy Scout Radio merit badge updates”

How about a .radio domain name?

The European Broadcasting Union has been appointed the official distributor of one of the newest Internet top-level domains – .radio. (A top-level domain is the last part of a domain name. You’re probably most familiar with TLDs like .com, .org, .edu and the like.)

One of the provisions in the EBU’s pitch to hold the keys to .radio is that they plan to require some sort of radio affiliation by the party registering a domain under that TLD. One of the affiliations they specifically list is “Radio Amateurs”, which means that soon you will be able to get as a domain. Continue reading “How about a .radio domain name?”

Straight Key Night

Straight Key Night is one of my favorite activities of the year. Even though I don’t spend a lot of time at it, it’s a chance to get on the air at the start of the new year and make some interesting contacts. Many hams use vintage gear to go along with their historic telegraph keys, but my “vintage” gear isn’t up to snuff, so I use the gear that I use regularly – just sending with a straight key instead of the keyer. Since I use the straight key every month in the NAQCC sprints, I’ve kept in practice and can send quite smoothly at around 18 wpm.

If you got on the air for SKN, be sure to send a report to ARRL. It’s one of the few events where participants’ calls are listed in QST, so it’s a great way to get your call listed in the magazine.

Sweepstakes 2016

novembersweepstakeslogoWell, another ARRL Sweepstakes is in the books, and while I didn’t set any personal bests or come close to a clean sweep, I had fun during the time I had on the air.

In the CW weekend, I made 203 QSOs in 69 sections for 28,000 points in about seven hours in the NF8M shack. Additionally, I put perhaps 50 QSOs in the log at W8SH, my college club at Michigan State University. W8SH made just over 200 QSOs in total.

The phone weekend saw more limited time. Continue reading “Sweepstakes 2016”

Hustler 6BTV Vertical Antenna Installation

6BTV AntennaI recently finished building and installing a Hustler 6BTV six band vertical antenna that I purchased from DX Engineering at the Dayton Hamvention. This antenna, which covers 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 and 50 kHz of 80 meters, has been a reliable workhorse among amateurs for many years, and is a favorite of DXpedition operators because of its simplicity and ease of construction and installation.

For temporary installations, it’s possible to put the pieces together, tune, hoist, mount and guy it, and run out a few radials along the ground in less than an hour. For more permanent installations, there are many augmentations that turn it into a versatile and easy-to-maintain antenna.

In addition to the antenna, I also purchased the SO239 feed bracket, the reinforced lower tube, and an Alpha Delta lightning spark gap from DXE. They also offer two kinds of tilt mounts, but both are designed to mount on a single 2 inch pole driven into the ground. My mount consists of two Unistruts anchored in concrete with aluminum panels mounted across them, which was the mounting arrangement for the 30 and 15 meter vertical which the 6BTV replaces. Continue reading “Hustler 6BTV Vertical Antenna Installation”