Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 ~ The Year of SSB Transceivers

N6QW Innovative Transceiver Projects!

One of my goals for 2018 is to share information about my past projects in hopes that other homebrew enthusiasts will take up the iron and "roll their own" Many of the projects go back over ten years; but are relevant today.

You can make great contacts using homebrew gear! But I should caution you that you may get comments from the other end such as "well I am looking at your signal with my FlexRadio 6700 on a 72 inch screen and it appears you are 10 Hertz low in frequency". You gotta have thick skin--just think your rig cost $100 and his maybe $10,000. But even being 10 Hertz low --you are still having a QSO. 

There are three specific projects I would like to cover today and these include the following:

The first is a 20 Meter SSB transceiver that used MMIC's (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits) arranged in a bilateral configuration. There were six total MMIC's employed in three sets of two for the bilateral amplifiers. This was kind of leading edge in 2011 for a homebrew ham transceiver. Initially I used a VTO (varactor tuned oscillator) but later this was changed to a Si570 VFO via a K5BCQ kit. [This was another rig given away when I had to move in 2013.] This by my definition an innovation in a ham rig.]

The second rig is a 17 Meter SSB Transceiver originally built in 2007. The innovation here was to use a crystal switched Super VXO to give a wide frequency coverage. The innovation here was the selection of the IF 4.9152 MHz and using 11.52 MHz crystals in a diode frequency doubling Super VXO circuit produced a signal; a 23.04 MHz and in doing the math 23.04 - 4.9152 = 18.124 MHz. Using the doubling circuit gave twice the swing in a Super VXO circuit. That worked so well that I custom ordered additional 11 MHz crystals so that I can cover almost the whole 17 Meter phone band. 

The third project was a Shirt Pocket Sized 20M SSB Transceiver which was built in two versions with the first requiring a rather large pocket. The second version is 2X2X4 inches --still needing a big pocket. A third version planned for 2018 is to be Altoids tin sized. This rig also employed a 4.9152 MHz IF and this time a crystal switched heterodyne VXO. The first version in 2017 was retrofitted with a Si5351 and OLED Display.

Some Project Details:

The first is the MMIC Transceiver which was the very first "big time" article I ever wrote about one of my projects --this even made the cover of QRP Quarterly. The embedded you tube video was made at the time the rig first had the VTO and the drift is pretty apparent. It was real crap. The final version with the K5BCQ Si570 VFO kit --was like night and day. I regret having to give this rig away when I moved. In 2017 I used the bilateral MMIC stage in a compact 20 Meter SSB transceiver. The AG-303-86G is a superb device. As I mentioned in the article I got help with the bilateral circuit from a ham at Tri-Quint who was the manufacturer of the MMIC.

In passing at times you bump into things that amaze you. A friend sent me an eBay listing for the AG-303-86G MMIC device from a seller in Israel. In the ad, my schematic for the bilateral stage was featured to show how they could be built into the circuit. The MMIC's are termination insensitive good from DC to 6 GHZ and feature 20 dB gain. Should mention that the data sheet includes the required resistors for various sources voltages which enable you to run the devices on anywhere from 5 to (I think ) 9 VDC. I picked  5VDC. Another neat feature of my circuit is diode steering so that when you "bias on" the MMIC that also steers the signal right left or left right. So OK another bit of innovation --for 2010.

To the best of my knowledge I am unaware of any other homebrew rig which used MMIC's in a bilateral configuration in 2010. I am sure there are commercial designs but my application may have been a first. I am sure blog readers will let me know otherwise.

In the last photo is shown the MMIC board (underneath the green perforated board) and a shot of the completed rig. There are two stories here (actually three) with first being the suitability of the MMIC's for our beloved rigs. The second is that the MMIC's can be effectively used in a bilateral configuration and the third -- great for making compact rigs.

The 17 Meter SSB Transceiver Project:

The second project is a 17 Meter SSB Transceiver first started in 2007 where some fundamental circuit blocks were initially developed that found their way into future projects. The heart of this rig was a bilateral amplifier circuit developed by G4GXO [SPRAT # 128] which used either a Dual Gate MOSFET or two J310's configured as a DGM. 

Based on some information gathering in preparation for the build, I discovered that in the Elecraft K2 the IF Frequency was 4.9152 MHz. Hmmm good enough for Elecraft so good enough for me. This was a wise choice as I soon discovered that using a stock computer crystal of 11.52 MHz in a diode frequency doubling VXO circuit produced an output at 23.04 MHz. The frequency scheme in a down mix resulted in tuning smack in the middle of the 17 Meter Phone band. Subsequently I purchased special frequency commercial crystals that provided the upper phone band coverage of 17 Meters. A trick I used was to switch the VXO crystal banks was a relay that was controlled by a panel mounted toggle switch. Thus I had a high range of VXO frequencies and also a low range. The yellow cube in the photo below is a DPDT 12 VDC DIP Relay. Because of the frequency doubling two crystals per range in the Super VXO Circuit provided a large frequency excursion.  

Also note the use of single sided copper vector board where a solid ground plane is the norm. After using this (somewhat expensive) medium you never think of Manhattan construction for projects like this. All wiring is point to point underneath the board. With some circuit noodling of the layout it is possible to achieve a layout that minimizes the circuit wiring and reduces the possibility of unwanted coupling. Some nice innovations here.

Complete details of this transceiver can be found on my 2nd Website Believe it or not this project started out as an attempt to build a shirt pocket SSB transceiver which resulted in a working rig; but definitely not something to fit in your shirt pocket. The boards above were finally fitted into an aluminum chassis measuring 7X7X2. There is room in that chassis to fit an Arduino/Si5351 and an OLED Display. That is in the queue.

The 20 Meter Shirt Pocket Transceiver:

As I stated earlier my initial quest to build a shirt pocket SSB transceiver started in 2007; but it was not until 2011 that I arrived at a shirt pocket sized transceiver. A rig 16 cubic inches is small BUT you still needed a large shirt pocket --Paul Bunyan sized more like it. In 2018 I am looking forward to building this same rig into an Altoids sized tin. 

In 2011 I was overtaken by the desire to really get serious about a shirt pocket sized transceiver. W3TLN, Ed Vester built an all solid state SSB rig running 100 Milliwatts on 20 Meters that ran off of 6 VDC. The choice of 6 VDC was because it was a mobile rig fitted into a Volkswagen Beetle -- an early version with a 6 volt battery. It was a small rig and used a homebrew crystal filter and a VXO. The Vester rig was published in a QST article and subsequently published in the ARRL Sideband Handbook. 

I built the Vester rig in the 1970's from the ARRL Sideband Handbook. But I could never get it to work. In the course of preparing some articles for QRP Quarterly, in 2010 I mentioned to John W5DIA about my non-success with the earlier project and he sent me a photo copy of one of the pages in the original article. BOOM --the article and the Handbook version schematics were different. That was my problem! I had a difficult time reconciling how there could be two different versions of the same schematic --in a QST publication...

Thus having found the problem with the Vester rig I decided that I would just build my own version -- the Vester rig was 7x7X2 --not a shirt pocket rig.

I built two versions of the shirt pocket rig with the idea that the first version would be the proof of concept and the second would capitalize on that experience to make it really small.

The is information on my  website about this project including some schematic diagrams. This project also was a subject of a QRP Quarterly article. 

Noteworthy the original rig used the same crystal switched VXO approach as in the 17 Meter Rig  with a twist in that the Super VXO operated at 12.906 MHz and was mixed with crystals in the 6 MHz range to give about a 120 kHz spread on 20 Meters. The reason for this choice/approach was the availability of standard computer crystals.

Fast forward to 2017 and these rigs have been further modified with new case colors and Version 1 and been retrofitted with a an OLED/Si5351 and Nano digital LO.

This is a lot to absorb ... but is provided to open up a view of the homebrew possibilities. It goes without saying -- most of these are not first time projects but they do offer an insight into the amazing (and cheap) technology that is available to us today.

Pete N6QW

Cathode Keying Safety

As I participated in various radio events this past winter I thought about a safety issue common in budget and homebrew transmitters prior to about 1960. Many, if not most, of these transmitters used cathode keying with no regulation of the screen voltage. In these transmitters it is common to find over 100 volts across the key terminals. I measure 125 VDC at my Johnson Adventurer key terminals. Some of my friends checked their 1929 homebrew transmitters. They found as much as 190 VDC at the key terminals. All of these are basic one or two tube cathode keyed transmitters, the sort of transmitters used by many today to experience tube gear.

What can be done about the high voltage at the key terminals?

- Keep your fingers off the key terminals: I've been doing this up to now. It usually works but my wife worries that it does not always work. It also follows the "If it hurts don't do it" rule.

- Covered Key Terminals: Several military keys and even some bugs are available that hide the terminals under a cover. This is a workable low tech solution but you have to find a suitable key or bug.

- Mechanical Relay: Use your key or bug to operate a relay that is actually keying the rig. I've never tried this but it appears that speed may be an issue. How well does the relay keep up?

- Electronic Isolator/relay: I used a "Keyall HV" from Jackson Harbor Press / WB9KZY. The Keyall HV includes an opto-isolator and MOSFETs rated for 1000V at 3 Amps. Besides low voltage at the key terminals it is also low current so it can be used to interface a modern keyer to the heaviest of our cathode keyed boat anchors. See for details.

The Keyall HV kit includes five parts and a small printed circuit card. This kit is just about as simple as one can get. Instructions are on the Jackson Harbor Press website.
I used a small aluminum utility box for my keyall housing. I could have used a smaller box but the only two battery battery holder I had was for type C flashlight batteries. The batteries needed all of the available width. I used a barrier strip for the transmitter connection because some transmitters do not have one side of the key connection grounded.

The Keyall HV interface sits in-line between my key and the transmitter. The key terminals now have less than 3 volts between them. The two C cells should be good for over 500 hours of key down time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Phone Contesting Tips For DX Contests (AE6Y)

Proper use of a phonetic alphabet can be very helpful when working phone under marginal conditions. I’ve written a basic article on phoneticsover at, so you might want to review that. I recently came across an article by Andy/AE6Y on some tips and tricks to use during contests. He does a super job of explaining why the ITU phonetic alphabet isn’t always the best choice. I don’t usually reprint other author’s work on this blog but somehow this article really got my attention. Reprinted here with permission. – Bob K0NR
Phone Contesting Tips For DX Contests
Andy Faber, AE6Y
This article is prompted by the recent WPX SSB contest, in which I worked thousands of guys from Aruba as P49Y, which engendered much reflection (and teeth-gnashing, to be sure) about how U.S. hams can be best understood from the DX end.  I’m not addressing this to relatively clear-channel domestic contests but to the situation where you are trying to get through to a DX station that may be hearing a pileup, plus noise, ear-splitting splatter from adjacent stations and all of the other sonic annoyances that make many contesters prefer CW. If there is no pileup and you know the DX station can hear you completely clearly, then you’ll get through regardless, but if not, here are some suggestions:
First, be sure you are calling on his exact frequency.  In CW contests, it can be helpful to separate yourself from the pack by calling off frequency, but that’s not true in SSB.  Off-frequency stations sound distorted and are hard to understand.  The DX station may well come back to a weaker, but more intelligible station that is on frequency, even if you are louder.  In order to work you, he has to figure out which way to adjust the RIT, and then go ahead and do it. A tired operator on the other end may just not bother, until he has worked everyone else.
Second, make sure your audio is clean.  It is so much easier to understand clear audio, even if it is weaker than a louder, distorted signal.  KH7XS mentioned in his 3830 posting that this year there particularly seemed to be over-processed signals coming from South America, and I noticed the same thing.  It used to be that the Italians who were the worst offenders, but they seem to be better now.  This weekend, the Cubans were particularly hard to understand. The prize for the easiest audio to understand goes each contest to the hams from the British Isles.  The G’s, M’s and their derivatives invariably have very clean (and usually nicely treble) audio that can be understood even when the signal doesn’t budge the S-meter.  On several occasions I chose a weak but clear Brit over a loud, but distorted, competitor.
Ok, so you have a clean signal and are calling on frequency, now how do you get the information through, both your callsign and your contact number (for WPX)?
Here are some tips:
If you are loud enough and have an easily recognizable call, you can skip phonetics.  So this weekend, when K1AR called, he was easy to pick out, same for K3UA, K3ZO, N6AA, and a few others. But for most guys, and when in doubt, use phonetics.  Endless bandwidth has been expended on the subject of phonetics, and people have differing opinions on the topic, but here are my thoughts from being on the DX end:
The first thing to understand is that the standard, “recommended” international alphabet works dismally in marginal conditions.  The words are too short, and some don’t have unique sounds. Generally speaking, the one-syllable words just get lost, while the two syllable words are better, and the longer ones are even better.
Thus, one-syllable words like “Fox”, “Golf” and “Mike” are horrible.  Some of the two-syllable ones are OK (e.g., “Hotel” and “Quebec”), but others, such as “Alpha” and “Delta”, or “X-ray” and “Echo”, “Kilo” and “Tango” sound very similar, so are easily confused.  I worked a guy with the suffix XXE, and had to get a number of repeats until he finally said “X-Ray X-ray Ecuador,” which did the trick.
There are two basic cures for these problems. The first is only to use these crummy phonetics the first time as a trial.  If the DX station asks for a repeat, say your call twice, once with the standard phonetics and once with different ones.  Don’t just keep repeating your call the same way.  Something in either the way you say it or the way the DX hears it is creating ambiguity.  If you keep repeating the call the same way it may well be that part of it is just hard to decipher, and it may not get any easier.
If the DX station is a good English speaker then custom phonetics may work, such as “King George Six…” In fact when I thought a KK4 station was a K4, he used a very effective phonetic, “King Kong Four…” WA2JQK uses “Jack Queen King” in domestic contests, but that won’t work well for non-native speakers.  The Wyoming station N7MZW uses “Many Zebras Walking” sometimes domestically, but I noticed he was using normal phonetics in WPX.
The second approach is to switch to the geographical phonetic alphabet.  This features longer and more distinctive-sounding words, which are much easier to understand.  For example if your suffix is, say, HLF, then you can say “Hotel Lima Fox,” then try “Honolulu London Florida.” When I give my call with last letter “Yankee” and get asked for a repeat it works much better to say “Last letter Yankee, last letter Yokohama.” Many of the geographic phonetics work particularly well for speakers of Romance languages like Spanish and Italian (e.g., terms like “Guatemala”, “Nicaragua”, and “Santiago”). There are a few letters for which there are not good geographic equivalents.  Obviously, “X-ray” is one of them. For “Echo”, “England” is sometimes used, but “Ecuador” is better.  Although “London” and “Lima” are both geographic terms, “London” is much better.  And “Denmark Mexico” is many times superior to “Delta Mike.”
Numbers in the callsign can also cause trouble.  What if the station comes back to “K3” instead of “K6”? In general, just try to repeat the number, but if he still doesn’t get it, you can try counting, e.g. “Kilo Six, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.” Or for us West Coasters, “Kilo Six in California, West Coast” can be useful.
Which brings me to the subject of numbers in exchanges like WPX.  I commented in a 3830 post a few years ago that the English numbers that everyone uses are just too ambiguous, most of them being plain too short.  I recommended using some Spanish numbers, like “cuatro” and “ocho”, but that suggestion went nowhere, so I hereby drop it, unless you are trying to get through to a native Spanish or Italian speaker.  In fact, In WPX, I just couldn’t understand a number from a CO8 station with terrible audio. I kept asking, “your number 424?”, “your number 242?”, “your number 224”, etc. Normally, one doesn’t confuse “two” and “four,” but this guy’s audio was driving me crazy and I wasn’t sure how well he was understanding me either.  Finally I had the presence of mind to ask in Spanish, and when he said “dos cuatro cuatro,” he was in the log.  If he had said that in the beginning I would have understood him in spite of his maladjusted audio.
One source of confusion for the DX station is not knowing how many digits there are, particularly later in the contest when a number can have 1, 2, 3, or 4 digits.  There are a couple of ways to help. For example: suppose the DX station thinks he hears “[garble] six six” and he asks: ”your number six six?” If your number is just 6, you can say to be helpful “Negative. My number zero zero six, number six.” Adding the word “number” in front of the digit indicates there are no missing digits.  If your number is 66, just say “Roger, roger.” If it’s 56, say “Negative, number five six, fifty–six.” If it’s 256, say, “Negative. Number two five six, two fifty-six (or even “two hundred and fifty-six”). I know we were taught that it is incorrect to say “two hundred and fifty-six,” and we should just say “two hundred fifty-six,” but using the “and” makes it more intelligible.
In general, it’s usually best to say your number twice, in two different ways.  For example it’s often hard to discern, “two three” from “three three”. So you can say: “five nine, two three, twenty-three,” since “twenty” and “thirty” sound very different.  Similarly if your number is 15 and you say “one five”, that might be confused with “one nine”, so say “one five, fifteen.” If it’s late in the contest and you might be expected to have a three-digit number you can say “zero two three, only twenty-three”. And if you have a one digit number late in the contest, it’s best to add zeros, saying, e.g., “zero zero nine, number nine”, not just “nine.”
I hope these tips from the DX end are helpful.  They should be even more useful in the next few years, as declining sunspots forcing us increasingly into the QRM alleys of 20 and 40 meters.

Possible ISS SSTV on Wednesday | Southgate Amateur Radio News

Possible ISS SSTV on Wednesday | Southgate Amateur Radio News

China Plans to Bring Artificial Rain to Area Three Times the Size of Spain

China Plans to Bring Artificial Rain to Area Three Times the Size of Spain: Artificial rain is set to fall on mountainous plains three times the size of Spain. At least, that’s the plan for China’s latest weather manipulation project. The system includes solid fuel burners, drones, planes, artillery, and a network of weather satellites covering vast swathes of the Indian Ocean.

Monday, April 23, 2018


RTL-SDR brought cheap and ubiquitous Software Defined Radio (SDR) to the masses, opening up whole swaths of the RF spectrum which were simply unavailable to the average hacker previously. Because the RTL-SDR supported devices were designed as TV tuners, they had no capability to transmit. For the price they are still an absolutely fantastic deal, and deserve to be in any modern hacker’s toolkit, but sometimes you want to reach out and touch someone.
GSM network broadcast from a VGA adapter
Now you can. At OsmoDevCon [Steve Markgraf] released osmo-fl2k, a tool which allows transmit-only SDR through cheap USB 3.0 to VGA adapters based on the Fresco Logic FL2000 chip. Available through the usual overseas suppliers for as little has $5 USD, these devices can be used unmodified to transmit low-power FM, DAB, DVB-T, GSM, UMTS and GPS signals.
In a demonstration on the project page, one of these USB VGA adapters is used to broadcast a GSM cellular network which is picked up by the adjacent cell phones. Another example shows how it can be used to broadcast FM radio. A GitHub repository has been set up which includes more examples. The signals transmitted from the FL2000 chip are obviously quite weak, but the next step will logically be the hardware modifications necessary to boost transmission to more useful levels.
To say this is a big deal is something of an understatement. For a few bucks, you’ll be able to get a device to spoof cellular networks and GPS signals. This was possible before, of course, but took SDR hardware that was generally outside the budget of the casual experimenter. If you bought a HackRF or an Ettus Research rig, you were probably responsible enough not to get into trouble with it, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. As exciting as this technology is, we would be wise to approach it with caution. In an increasingly automated world, GPS spoofing can have some pretty bad results.

Know How... 378: Stream How: Personal Streaming Part II

Know How... 374: Stream How: Personal Streaming

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Live Stream Archive - HF hangout, Digital modes, recorded April 21st, 2018

Tech Optimists See a Golden Future—Let's Talk About How We'll Get There

Tech Optimists See a Golden Future—Let's Talk About How We'll Get There: Tech evangelists dream of a future when we’re all liberated from mundane work by artificial intelligence. In the long term, automation of labor might benefit the human species immensely. But in the short term, it has all kinds of potential pitfalls. So, the question is: How do we get from here to there?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

10 Amazing Things You Can Learn From Your Poop

10 Amazing Things You Can Learn From Your Poop: To optimize your health, make progress against chronic disease, or know which foods are right for you—much of this information can be found in your microbiome. Viome's Naveen Jain lists a few amazing things you can learn about yourself by measuring these microscopic organisms and their behavior at a molecular level.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

APRS Messenger Quick Start Guide HFAPRS

Ham Radio - April 8th 2018 fox hunt. Hiding the fox!

Ephemera 101: When are you going to clean under your bed?

By Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

ephemera 1 : something of no lasting significance 2 : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles

When mom ordered me to “clean under my bed,” she was not referring to the dust bunnies.  She was despairing over my teenage clutter: movie calendars, church bulletins, pamphlets, tickets, and so much more.  Fortunately, a lot of folks were not raised to worry about such clutter.  Rather, they collected and savored programs, advertisements, bulletins, and more. Some of these memorabilia find their way to the MHS Research Center’s Ephemera Collection.

Recently two pieces of ephemera from 1918 landed at the MHS Library.  These century old documents offer informative glimpses of Helena as well as Montana’s cultural environment.  The first is a theater program dated April 4, 1918 from Helena’s Marlow Theater. In hopes of understanding the context of the piece, I searched the 1918 Helena Independent. I discovered that just the day before, April 3, was the Marlow’s grand opening and Helena’s social event of the year!  Newspaper headlines described the “Capital Elite in Force.”  The sheer spectacle of scenery and costumes of “Show of Wonders” amazed the crowd.  However, the Independent critiqued the chorus as “young and pretty and shapely,” but “not a real voice in the lot.”  Also reported was a generous gift of $50.00 for “Red Cross Women to Attend Marlow Opening,” sent by the vacationing Senator T. C. Power. [1]

The Helena IndependentApril 3, 1918
Marlow Program
April 4, 1918
MHS Research Center Ephemera Collection

The program itself delivers a plethora of historic information.  It lists the schedule for the Marlow in the coming weeks, from vaudeville and musical performances to “black face comedians” and drama.  Fisher’s Millinery, the State Nursery & Seed Company, and Montana Phonograph Company are just a few of the dozens of businesses advertised.  The leaflet also lists the Theater’s stockholders and firms connected to the Theater’s construction.  In short, the program offers an exciting glimpse into Helena’s businesses, society, and the era’s entertainment culture. [2]

Montana State War Conference, May 28-29, 1918
MHS Research Center Ephemera Collection

The second booklet is for the May 28-29, 1918 Montana State War Conference, coincidentally, held at the recently christened Marlow Theater. Numerous delegate organizations are listed.  Governing bodies such as the Red Cross, Liberty Loans, Federal Food Administration, Extension Bureau, and County Councils of Defense are predictable.  The presence of groups such as YMCA, Rotary Clubs, and Knights of Columbus reflects the depth of mainstream participation. The Conference’s patriotic goals were highlight by musical performances of Marseillaise, America, and Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Newspaper reports emphasize the diversity of backgrounds represented by speakers. They included Lt. Paul Perigord, a Catholic priest turned soldier, and Dr. James A. B. Scherer, Lutheran Minister and expert on Japanese relations.  The Independent declared that “in Montana, politics, religion, sex and creed have been forgotten.” The common goal was to “help the national government win the war.” [3]   The many organizations represented at the Conference played integral roles in not only uniting Montanans, but in monitoring and regulating individual behavior. 

While the Marlow program creates images pertaining to 1918 recreation and entertainment, the Montana State War Conference pamphlet reminds readers of the countless organizations and coordinated efforts necessary to win the war.  Two very different perspectives of 1918 Montana, both accessed through items not meant to last a house cleaning – ephemera. 

[1] “Helena Theater Opened, Capital Elite in Force,” pg. 1 & 7,  “Senator T.C. Power Gives $50,” pg. 8, Helena Independent, April  3,1918.
[2] See Montana Historical Society Research Center Ephemera Collection, “Helena (Montana)-Theatres-Marlow Theatre.”
[3] “History is Debated by Councilmen,” Helena Independent, May 28, 1918, pg. 1 & 6.

W2LJ QRP - When you care to send the very least!: Another portable antenna from the QRPGuys

W2LJ QRP - When you care to send the very least!: Another portable antenna from the QRPGuys: Boy, these fellows are really cranking out the new kits! Any new portable antenna is bound to catch my eye - here goes: The QRPGuys Mul...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Supporting clubs to encourage growth and participation

 | March 27, 2018
RSGB Strategy 2022We know that clubs around the country are doing great things to encourage new people into amateur radio and to help current radio amateurs to develop their skills at all levels.
The Society provides a range of services to support clubs in these activities, from the administration of exams to the provision of contests and the help of the Regional team. However, it also provides other tools to enable clubs to nurture growth and participation – two of the RSGB’s strategic priorities – and this month we’d like to highlight a few that are new or that clubs may be less familiar with.
Kit-building workshops: In order to encourage participation in construction activities, RSGB Legacy Committee funding has enabled the purchase of a tool kit that can be loaned to Affiliated Clubs and Groups. This new kit contains twelve sets of tools, currently transported in two roll-along suitcases, including everything you need to run your own Buildathon or Club kit-building workshop. Clubs are expected to provide the consumables, solder, kits, etc and a report of their event for RadCom but transport costs are being covered by the RSGB Legacy funding for the first year. Clubs will soon be able to book the tool kit by completing an online application form – look out for announcements across our communication channels. Steve Hartley, G0FUW will be coordinating the kits initially so contact him if you’d like to find out more by email to
Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) equipment: The ARDF Committee is keen to open up this aspect of ‘Sport Radio’ to regions where there isn’t any local ARDF activity. Their RSGB equipment can be loaned to Affiliated Societies and the 3.5MHz equipment is configured to provide five transmitters in a five-minute cycle accompanied by ten receivers. A map of the area to be used is not essential but the equipment gives a realistic feel for the ‘classic’ ARDF format. The 144MHz equipment comprises a set of five transmitters (with rechargeable batteries) and antennas but no receivers are included. To find out more about the kit or about possible ARDF Taster Days, contact Bob Titterington, G3ORY by email to
Expert presentations for club talks: The Society’s Convention presentations offer clubs a way of bringing world-class experts to club evenings. Currently there are 30 talks in our online video portal, with many more due to be released during this year. They are a fabulous resource at your ngertips and a great way to inspire club members to try new aspects of amateur radio. Take a look at
Building on this, the Propagation Studies Committee (PSC) has created two
downloadable, narrated video presentations for clubs: Understanding HF Propagation and
Radio Propagation – VHF and higher. Both come with notes and have the option of a
Skype Q&A session with a PSC member. Over 130 clubs have seen one of the presentations and the feedback has been excellent – would your club members be interested? To book one of the presentations contact Steve Nichols, G0KYA by email to

“help and inspire clubs as they work to encourage the growth of amateur radio”

Throughout this year we’ll be creating an online resource bank for clubs. It will draw together not only the great range of tools provided by the RSGB but will also highlight innovative activities from clubs around the country that were shared during the President’s review of clubs in 2017. We hope that this will help and inspire clubs as they work to encourage the growth of amateur radio in their areas.
Heather Parsons
RSGB Communications Manager

First UK 136 kHz ham radio transatlantic contact with USA | Southgate Amateur Radio News

First UK 136 kHz ham radio transatlantic contact with USA | Southgate Amateur Radio News

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Jim Langley's Bicycle Beat: Q&A: Dealing with disc brake rubbing and bent roto...

Jim Langley's Bicycle Beat: Q&A: Dealing with disc brake rubbing and bent roto...: A couple of questions about common disc brake issues came in recently. With discs on so many different bicycle types today, it's a good ...

Head for the Hills....: Persistence in the Bitterroots

Head for the Hills....: Persistence in the Bitterroots: This tour fought us the entire way.  A close to 2 hours drive from Missoula had us unloading sleds at the snow line on schedule for our day....

3D Printing - Adding lights to my Anycubic I3 Mega

Ham Radio Blog by AG1LE: Time Reversal Fractal Antenna

Ham Radio Blog by AG1LE: Time Reversal Fractal Antenna: Lexington, April 1, 2018.  Nine months ago I purchased my first 3D printer. Recently I received a new, much improved printer (model PRUSA...

Steve's Eclectic Radio Blog: Shack in the Box: A 2m/70cm FM transceiver

Steve's Eclectic Radio Blog: Shack in the Box: A 2m/70cm FM transceiver: This is a project that I started last year and, after a few weeks, lost interest in it until recently. During my usual web snooping for...

MT Adventures: North Trapper new routes

MT Adventures: North Trapper new routes: Ned skiing Hidden couloir. Ned was kind enough to join for an exploratory mission to the Trapper group.  It was potentially unwise to ...


When thinking about Montana, images of wildlife, jaw-dropping landscapes and recreation in pristine mountain wilderness probably come to mind. But in the midst of all off this, Montana is also bustling with a lesser known beautiful thing: breweries. Glacier Country is home to more than 20 brew houses, and we’re here to highlight the handful in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. This scenic valley is long (96 miles, to be exact) and is flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east. It’s also home to the Bitterroot River, charming communities, incredible history, fabulous food and an abundance of year-round outdoor recreation. However, we’re here to tell you about the exceptional craft beer coming straight out of “The Root.”
Biking along a gravel road under the shadows of the Bitterroot Mountains.
Lolo Peak Brewing Company
Enjoying the 5 Spice Pork Tacos and an Alpenglow Wheat Ale.
Just 8 miles south of Missoula, Lolo heads up the northern end of the Bitterroot Valley. This small town is something special, and the “brewery on the hill” makes it all the more so. The ultra-cozy, rustic taproom is a welcoming place to try one of 12 tasty beers on tap. Some of our favorite brews at Lolo Peak include BuffaloTrout Golden Ale and the Double Eagle Scotch Ale (so good). Pair one with some of their tasty tacos or onion rings and you’ll be glad you brought your appetite.
Blacksmith Brewing Company
Blacksmith Brewing Company in Stevensville is a great place to enjoy some locally crafted beer.
Welcome to historic Stevensville. Home to the cutest downtown, where Old West charm lives alongside amazing eateries and one phenomenal brewery. Serving up some delicious flagship and seasonal beers, Blacksmith is the perfect place to stop and stay awhile. We suggest the Brickhouse Blonde or, if you like IPA, try the Cutthroat…you’ll be glad you did!
Wildwood Brewing
If you’re looking for a place to sit by the fire and “listen to a story told by a fine craft beer from Montana,” Wildwood is the place. Try their award-winning Organic Spirituous Smoke (seasonal). This four-vessel brew house in Stevensville offers distinguished beer and iconic Montana characters.
Bitter Root Brewing
Ordering a the beer flight is the best way to try out all the different brews.
When you’re out and about exploring the Bitterroot Valley, this Bitterroot mainstay is a must. The brewery produces more than 40 different styles of beer a year, with 11 on draft at all times. Pair their remarkable beer with their delectable food and you won’t be disappointed. (Try the Sriracha cheese curds—you’ll thank us.) Brewery Bonus: Musicians play here every Thursday and Saturday evening from 6 – 8 p.m. Grab a Bitter Root IPA and settle in.
Higherground Brewing Company
Delicious beers + phenomenal environment = the perfect Montana brewery experience.
Hamilton is one of the most charming towns in Western Montana, and some pretty incredible beer is made here. You’ll also find Higherground serves up some of the tastiest pizza in the region. Higherground sources local ingredients as often as possible, and it pays off—the food and beer are amazing. Some of their delicious house brews include Dry Fly IPA, Clear Water Crystal Ale, Flash Flood Milk Stout (one of our favorites) and Base Camp Irish Red.
Bandit Brewing Company
One of the smallest breweries in Montana, Bandit Brewery is the perfect place to gather for some tasty brews.
Located in the heart of downtown Darby nestled at the base of the Bitterroot Valley, this quaint nano brewery makes 40-gallon batches at a time. Bandit is one of the smallest breweries in Montana, but their flavors are immense. Bandit houses the perfect blend of community pride and tasty craft beer.

Dungeons and Dragons, Not Chess and Go: Why AI Needs Roleplay

Dungeons and Dragons, Not Chess and Go: Why AI Needs Roleplay: Games are frequently used as a benchmark for an algorithm's 'intelligence.' Yet the games that get chosen—like Go and chess—tend to be tightly bounded, with set objectives and clear paths to victory or defeat. What if instead we used more open-ended games, like Dungeons and Dragons?

Know How... 376: Tinkercad