Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015 IRA Grand Rapids Hamfest

The 2015 IRA Grand Rapids Hamfest on Saturday, June 6, from 8 am to noon. 
Location: Hudsonville Fairgrounds

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Central States VHF Society Annual Conference for 2015

The Central States VHF Society Annual Conference for 2015 will be held in the Denver Colorado Metro area between Thursday July 23rd and Sunday July 26th. The local sponsor this year is Rocky Mountain Ham Radio with the convention venue being the Denver Marriott Westminster Hotel. 

This years conference will feature technical programs, noise figure measurements, rover vehicles and more, The featured speaker for the Saturday evening banquet is Rick Roderick K5UR. Roderick is the First Vice President of ARRL and an avid VHF'er.

Conference registration, as well as a link to the conference venue for bookings is now available at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Solar e Power Cube 1500

While looking at generators and solar panels for my next outdoor excursion. Whether it's camping, field  station DXing or Emergency Communications. I came across this unique solar generator.
After doing some research I'm seriously considering making this my next purchase.
Solar e Power Cube 1500 Plus Portable Solar Generator 1500 Watt Inverter / 100 Ah Battery

Monday, May 18, 2015

EQplus: 8-Band EQ/Noise Gate

Use EQplus to expand your W2IHY 8-Band EQ/Noise Gate. Connect one simple cable from your 8-Bander to EQplus and you’re connected to world-class audio capabilities.

EQplus can be used as a stand-alone unit. If the onboard Dual-Band EQ meets your needs, put EQplus between your microphone and radio. If you find you’d like to have additional adjustability and control, you can always add a W2IHY 8-Band EQ later on.
Rack users: EQplus is a one-of-a-kind accessory that gives you unmatched capabilities in radio interfacing, impedance matching, level control and RF/audio isolation. Nothing else compares at any price.


Adjustable Compressor gives your signal a serious boost in loudness. Increase talk power while your signal stays squeaky-clean
Adjustable Downward Expander provides ultra-fast and transparent background noise reduction
Limiter manages onboard levels and works in harmony with compressor for big, full, commanding audio
Convenient front panel controls
Interface up to 3 radios
Use the Dual-Band EQ for a finishing touch on your lows and highs
Effects Processor adds smooth bright presence to your signal.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Amateur Radio Emergency Frequencies

Here is a list of amateur radio emergency frequencies to keep in mind when both looking for radios and coming up with a emergency communications plan:

34.90:       Used nationwide by the National Guard during emergencies.

39.46:       Used for inter-department emergency communications by local and state police forces.

47.42:       Used across the United States by the Red Cross for relief operations.

52.525:    Calling frequency used by ham radio operators in FM on their six-meter band.

121.50:     International aeronautical emergency frequency.

138.225: Disaster relief operations channel used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; it is active during earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other catastrophic events.

146.52:    Used by ham radio operators for non-repeater communications on the two-meter band; it is very busy in many parts of the country.

151.625:  Used by “itinerant” businesses, or those that travel about the country. Circuses, exhibitions, trade shows, and sports teams are some of the users you can hear. Other widely used itinerant channels are 154.57 and 154.60.

154.28:    Used for inter-department emergency communications by local fire departments; 154.265 and 154.295 also used.

155.160: Used for inter-department emergency communications by local and state agencies during search and rescue operations.

155.475: Used for inter-department emergency communications by local and state police forces.

156.75:    Used internationally for broadcasts of maritime weather alerts.

156.80:   International maritime distress, calling, and safety channel. All ships must monitor this frequency while at sea. It is also heavily used on rivers, lakes, etc.

162.40:   NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.425: NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.45:   NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.475: NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.50:   NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.525: NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

162.55:    NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

163.275: NOAA weather broadcasts and bulletins.

163.48750: Used nationwide by the National Guard during emergencies.

163.51250: The national disaster preparedness frequency used jointly by the armed forces.

164.50: National communications channel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

168.55: National channel used by civilian agencies of the federal government for communications during emergencies and disasters.

243.00: Used during military aviation emergencies.

259.70: Used by the Space Shuttle during re-entry and landing.

296.80: Used by the Space Shuttle during re-entry and landing.

311.00: Flight channel used by the U.S. Air Force.

317.70: Used by U.S. Coast Guard aviation.

317.80: Used by U.S. Coast Guard aviation.

319.40: Used by the U.S. Air Force.

340.20: Used by U.S. Navy aviators.

409.20: National communications channel for the Interstate Commerce Commission.

409.625: National communications channel for the Department of State.

462.675: Used for emergency communications and traveler assistance in the General Mobile Radio Service.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Field Station (1)

Today I spent some time working on my field station.
I'm hoping to get to to Pere Marquette Beach in the next few weeks and see what kind of DX I can work.
I also plan on doing several night time field setups this summer.

As of right now I'm not sure which antenna I will use, I leaning towards my MFJ-1798 which will operate 10 bands -- 75/80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6 and 2 Meters.
The MFJ-1798 is a great antenna that requires no ground or radials!
Making it a great field antenna.
I hope to work your station.

As for what radio I will be using, I will be using my Yaesu FT- 897D.

I will be posting more info as I plan with dates.

I hope to add your station to the log book. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

ACARC Trunk Sale

Allegan County Amateur Radio Club's annual trunk sale is this Saturday, May 2nd at:
Salem Township Hall
3003 142nd Ave
Dorr, MI 49323
Entry price, whether buying or selling, is $5 per vehicle. Vendor set up starts at 7AM with sales opening to the general public at 8AM and ending at 12PM. Talk-in will be on the 147.240 repeater (94.8pl).
The weather is promising to be great this year - see you Saturday!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2015 QRP To the Field

The official rules for QRP To the Field have been posted. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Muskegon County Walking Challenge

Muskegon County Generational Walking Challenge encourages all ages to get active.

Has the winter kept you cooped up indoors for too long? Has it become difficult to climb the stairs? Have the kids been spending more time online than enjoying the fresh air? Health and recreation partners in Muskegon County are hosting an eight-week Generational Walking Challenge this spring to get all ages active in the great outdoors.

The Generational Walking Challenge will begin Monday, April 6, with a kick-off event at the Snug Harbor day-use area of Muskegon State Park. Bring the family to register for the walking challenge, then check out fitness presentations, free health screenings from the Health Project and information about local trails and parks. 

“This is part of the large partnership to promote healthy lifestyles using Michigan state parks and recreation areas as part of the ‘Big Green Gym’ program,” said Ron Olson, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Parks and Recreation Division.

"This short-term commitment can have a lifetime of benefits, and it all starts with the first step,” said Ann Conklin, chief operating officer for Michigan Recreation and Parks Association.

Registration for the challenge also is available by emailing All registered participants will receive a form to track their activity during the challenge. 

Muskegon State Park will host a weekly walk Mondays at 5 p.m. (meeting at Snug Harbor) to help participants complete their walking goals. The Generational Walking Challenge also encourages people to get out to local parks and trails and get active with running, bicycling and more. 

At the end of eight weeks, on May 9, participants can turn in their activity-tracking forms for a chance to win prizes. The grand prize for the family or group that logs the most minutes of activity is a two-night stay at Muskegon State Park’s yurt (limit seven people per team). P.J. Hoffmaster State Park will host a completion celebration Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m. Completion celebration attendees also can get information about other active living opportunities and resources in Muskegon and around Michigan. 


“This event not only gets people active, but it’s also a chance to spend time with loved ones,” said Elissa Buck, recreation programmer for the Michigan DNR. “It’s a great way for residents to explore Michigan’s parks and trails with their family and friends, and maybe start a new family activity tradition.”

This program is funded by the Department of Community Health's Active Living Grant, in partnership with Michigan Recreation and Park Association and the Michigan DNR. Other partners include the Health Project, EcoTrek Fitness and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

For more information about the Generational Walking Challenge, please contact Elissa Buck at 989-313-0000 or email

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit to subscribe now.

There is no charge to participate in the Generational Walking Challenge, but a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Muskegon State Park and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park for the kick-off event, weekly walks and the completion celebration.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Propagation: Realtime Band Conditions Web-Site

REALTIME BAND CONDITIONS WEB SITE is a new experimental website designed to provide 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day a year real time band condition information to SSB, contesters and other operators interested in increasing their scores. It can also be of benefit to other Radio Amateurs to determine band conditions for nets and casual QSO's. 

This information is not based on any software predictions or any kind of satellite based readings. Instead it uses a new Ionospheric sounding method called "HF Ionospheric Interferometry" which operates very similarly to the PolSAR system used by NASA. Its in cybderspace at  (OPDX)

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Lead Fight to Maintain Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed on Wednesday, February 3rd that he intends to bring wired and wireless broadband services under utility-style rules based on Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. He said Title II would bring to end the debate over how to ensure that the Internet remains open to everyone, a concept known as Net neutrality.

In an op-ed published Wednesday on, Wheeler said the new rules will ban paid prioritization. Thats the idea that an Internet company can pay a premium to ensure that its traffic gets to the consumer faster than everyone else's.

Wheeler also said he would reinstate rules that had been part of the previous open Internet regulation, which went into effect in 2010, but was overruled last year by a federal appeals court, leading to the current situation. The previous rules banned an Internet service provider from blocking traffic or slowing down access to content on the Internet to favor their own services.

Title II of the Communications Act holds the potential to radically change how the Internet is governed by giving the FCC unprecedented authority over it. The provision originally gave the FCC the power to set rates and enforce the "common carrier" principle, or the idea that every customer is treated fairly, on telephone service. FCC Chairman Wheeler hopes to apply that principle to Internet traffic, preventing broadband providers from favoring one bit of data over another.

Net Neutrality is important in all aspects of today's society including amateur radio since more and more emerging communications technologies are dependent on it. And in the years ahead it will be even more so.

ARRL Legislative Objectives Announced

he ARRL has made public some of its legislative objectives for the coming 114th Congressional year. 

The League says that it will continue to secure passage of legislation instructing the FCC to extend the requirement for “reasonable accommodation” of Amateur Radio station antennas to all forms of land-use regulation. The League also will continue to oppose legislation leading to the reallocation of amateur spectrum, or to sharing arrangements that reduce the utility of existing allocations. Any legislation that diminishes the rights of federal licensees in favor of unlicensed emitters, or that encourages the deployment of spectrum-polluting technologies will also be opposed by the League.

Among the other objectives, the ARRL will seek recognition of the unique resources, capabilities, and expertise of the Amateur Radio Service in any legislation addressing communications issues related to emergencies, disasters, or homeland security. 

The League says it will support complementary legislative objectives of other radio communication services, particularly the public safety and scientific services that require spectrum access and protection from interference for noncommercial purposes that benefit the public. 

Support will also be given to legislation authorizing the FCC to appoint an electrical engineer or scientist as an additional staff member to ensure the Commissioners have adequate access to technical expertise when making decisions.

The ARRL continues to oppose “distracted driving” legislation that does not clearly define the class of devices included in the regulation, so as to exclude two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers used by Amateur Radio licensees.

Source: ARRL

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Michigan: Critical Pro-Gun Legislation to Receive Hearings Today

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on multiple pro-gun bills at 12:00 P.M. in Room 521 of the House Office Building.  Included on the agenda are Senate Bills 3435 and the “Air Gun Reclassification Package.”

SB 34 and SB 35 are comprehensive concealed pistol licensing reforms which both seek to create a more efficient, expedient and uniform concealed pistol licensing process for all statutorily eligible Michiganders (i.e. individuals not prohibited under 28.425b and who satisfy all financial and submission obligations).  These two bills are replicas of last session’s Senate Bills 789 and 790, which passed the legislature with bipartisan support but unfortunately fell victim to misinformation spread by out-of-state gun control organizations resulting in a veto by Governor Snyder.  The NRA has worked to ensure that these crucial reforms once again have the opportunity to pass through the Michigan Legislature.  

As previously reported, House Bills 41514152415341544155 and 4156 are a set of bills which make up the “Air Gun Reclassification Package.”  This important legislative package seeks to achieve pragmatic and much-needed reform by redefining the term “firearm” in the Michigan Code to exclude devices that propel a projectile by gas, spring or air.  The goal of this package is to relieve Michiganders, and those seeking to engage in interstate commerce with Michigan residents, from outdated and unduly burdensome restraints on the transfer, purchase and possession of most air guns.

These bills are important fixes to current Michigan firearms policy.  Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and your state Representative TODAY and politely request that they support Senate Bills 34, 35 and the Air Gun Reclassification Package.

House Judiciary Committee Members:

Representative Klint Kesto (R-39), Chairman
(517) 373-1799  

Representative Peter Lucido (R-36), Majority Vice Chairman
(517) 373-0843

Representative Jeff Irwin (D-53), Minority Vice Chairman
(517) 373-2577

Representative Kurt Heise (R-20)
(517) 373-3816

Representative Joel Johnson (R-97)
(517) 373-8962

Representative Martin Howrylak (R-41)
(517) 373-1783

Representative Triston Cole (R-105)
(517) 373-0829

Representative Jim Runestad (R-44)
(517) 373-2616

Representative Rose Mary Robinson (D-4)
(517) 373-1008

Representative Stephanie Chang (D-6)
(517) 373-0823

Representative Vanessa  Guerra (D-95)
(517) 373-0152 

Source: NRA

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Isotron Antennas some Info & (My Thoughts)

I really like the Isotron Antennas.
I've used a few of them many times. They make a great field day or camping antenna and I have a few friends who use them as their base antennas at home.
I get a news letter from Isotron Antenna on a regular basis and thought I'd share the one I received today.


This question is asked quite frequently. Actually what many want to know is, how low to mount the antenna to where it will still work?

There is much to learn about HF propagation. However, a few basics can help to achieve good results.

On VHF and higher you can go by the rule, "the higher the better". This is a ground wave transmission. You can liken it to line of sight. If you were to raise yourself above ground, you would see a farther distance to the horizon. So will the ground wave. On VHF, this will increase the performance in distance. Actually on VHF in particular, it is more forgiving and will bend with the terrain somewhat. This is a reason for using VHF for police and fire in rural areas. We are referring to distances of 10 to 15 miles car to car (depending on power) and as much as 100 miles through a repeater at a very high altitude.

What happens at the HF frequencies? A lot!

HF is normally used for much longer distances than the VHF ground wave. Therefore, where do you start and what factors affect it?

There is one thing to keep in mind. HF radiation rarely reflects. Due to the low frequency, there is insufficient inductance in objects to make it reflect. However, there are other factors that affect HF.

We can start with what you are walking on. The soil conditions of the earth varies per location. Conductivity and various minerals in the soil affect HF communications.

Depending on this chemistry will determine how much HF radiation will be absorbed and not leave the antenna site. What do you look for?

If the antenna is very low to the ground, you can observe the performance. Tuning of the antenna is one factor. Is the antenna reacting peculiar? Minimum SWR a bit too high? If measured, is the impedance of the antenna very low. Possibly receiving performance has deteriorated severely. 

Another check is measuring SWR at low power as compared to high power. If at low power the SWR is closer to normal and high power it increases a lot, then a nearby object is most likely having an affect. Like the earth. Radiation can be absorbed and due to a transformer affect radiate some back into the antenna or possibly the feedline laying on it. This will increase the SWR and can make the antenna very narrow in bandwidth.

If this is the case, Raising the antenna even a few feet will make a change toward normal functioning of the antenna.

We can usually use the same rule as VHF,"the higher the better". However, when you are limited in what you can do, you will want to know the minimum you can get away with. HF will start performing reasonably well if you can get sufficient height from your ground absorption factor. On the average, 20 feet will do it. Some areas are more forgiving and some areas are worse. You will get indications of it by taking note of the readings mentioned.

Next article will continue on this subject.


Ralph WD0EJA

FEB. 2015



Friday, January 16, 2015

CBS Will Air Stamp Collecting Segment

Exciting news – for the first time in its 36-year history, CBS Sunday Morning will air a segment on stamp collecting!  The show is scheduled to run on Sunday, January 18th, at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.  As a collector, you may want to watch.
Correspondent Rita Braver interviewed several leading members of our hobby, including Ken Martin of the APS, organizers of World Stamp Show-NY 2016, Bill Gross and outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.  In addition to visiting the National Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Gallery, Braver and her film crew also attended a Collector’s Club Youth Stamp Club meeting.  According to reports, vintage background footage showing stamps will be part of the segment, too.
It will be fun to see collecting in the news.  Plus I feel a personal connection to the story.  As you recall, Mystic owned the 1¢ Z Grill and traded it with Bill Gross for the Jenny Invert Plate Number Block.

My Stamp Collecting Blog

Counter Added January 1, 2011

free counters


The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 1 to 6 is BEST
  • 7 to 9 is OK
  • 11 or more is BAD

Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.

A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]

  • 70 NOT GOOD
  • 80 GOOD
  • 90 BETTER
  • 100+ BEST

The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.

Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

K index [ LOW is GOOD ]

  • 0 or 1 is BEST
  • 2 is OK
  • 3 or more is BAD
  • 5 is VERY VERY BAD

The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.

A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.

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