Friday, October 1, 2021

For your listening fun.


Web SDRs are nothing new to shortwave listeners or amateur radios op's alike. Internet SDR's provide a portal for many to access a wide variety of listening pleasures. No longer does one need a shortwave receiver to access the air waves.  I was shocked to learn how many countries are still broadcasting on shortwave. If Shortwave is not your cup of tea, many Web SDR's offer a very wide frequency spectrum for most, if not all, interests. As for me, I like to tune into the ham bands to see what action is on the airwaves.  Also, while reading blogs, writing a post or just surfing the net I tune in some nice jazz piano tunes via Web SDR's. A few months ago I stumbled across a Web SDR that for me is a real gem! NA5B WebSDR receiver system   Among the great shortwave and amateur bands offered NA5B also has a 100 mW  medium wave radio station (FCC part 15 permits this). I found GREAT jazz piano listening, so it's my go-to place when I am doing what I am doing right now, writing a post. (1700 kHz) Last evening I shared this gem with my wife Julie, and she had a listen. (she too is a big fan of jazz piano) Right away she told me of some now and then static and hiss and asking why I just don't look up jazz piano music on the web, and it would be without the static and hiss. I informed her it adds to the shortwave listening experience. 

There are many Web SDR's on the internet, but my go-to place is The site has a vast bibliography of Web SDR's, and it offers band and region filters. The listed SDR site offers location, antenna and frequency information, and you have a handy link to their SDR site. One thing I have tried calling up a WebSDR in a certain country from there venture over to a ham band in the CW portion, I then transmit and find out if I can hear my signal. There is a bit of a delay, but it's cool when you hear your own signal. 

If you haven't already discovered the world of WebSDR give it a go and if you are a veteran please share what you do and where you listen.  

Having enjoyable music in the background helps me concentrate and feel relaxed, thank you NA5B for your great 100mW jazz broadcast. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Seems the IARU has been busy......

Below is a cut and paste from the QRZNOW.COM site which by the way is a great site for news and reviews in the ham radio world. 

Over the past 18 months, a proposal for an IARU HF Digital Mode reorganization has been undertaken by representatives of all three IARU Regions

IARU-R1 reports:

The objective was to review the data modes usage of the Amateur Radio HF spectrum and propose changes that:

Reduce inter-mode conflict between dissimilar operating modes; and
• Facilitate the expansion of new technologies.

In conducting the review, it was realized that it was necessary to update the manner in which the IARU creates its band plans. Accordingly, the IARU’s band planning definition toolkit has been redefined, and additional data mode definition characteristics have been added to help separate activities that are fundamentally incompatible within the data mode family.

With the band planning process updated, the proposal then revised the band plans of all three IARU Regions, focusing on the data sub-bands and taking into consideration:

Popularity and capacity requirements; and
• Existing band users and inter-mode compatibility assessments.

The team also took the opportunity to harmonize the band plans of all three IARU Regions to the greatest extent possible, of course.

The proposal is now being discussed with the relevant committees.

As I read the piece, I was excited to see their purpose:

• Reduce inter-mode conflict between dissimilar operating modes; and
• Facilitate the expansion of new technologies.

Whether we like it or not (I like it) the digital modes are getting the IARU's attention and their proposal is to give them more room on the bands. For me, it's great news for Amateur radio op's whether you are a supporter of data modes or not because as a whole it's a win for the community for the IARU to recognize the need for expansion! I like reading this as opposed to our community is aging, and it's going to die off along with the hobby. 

In the proposal, some in the community are not going to like giving up some bandwidth for the Date modes. Both CW and Phone segments are mentioned. For a full run down of all 3 IARU regions and the proposed bandwidth changes, here is a link  Once on the page click the "X"'s to remove the  congratulations notifications. Then, from the list, click on the "input" file folder. Scroll down the presented list to the PDF document 4th from the bottom of the list and this will give you information regarding the band plan proposal. 

The proposal is now being discussed with the relevant committees, and the translation I got from this is:

1. Nothing is going to happen anytime soon. 

2. Don't get your feathers ruffled as things in the proposal can change.  

Monday, September 27, 2021

My ham radio adventure continues.


 Around this time last year, I registered for the CWops intermediate CW course. The CWops is a worldwide group of radio ops that support the operation of CW. On top of this, they want to help up-and-coming CW ops as well as those (like me) who want to improve their speed. As for me, I wanted to improve my speed and learn how to head copy morse code. For me, I found when receiving around  20wpm and up it's very hard to write things down and keep up with the conversation. 

So as I was saying last year around this time I applied to join the CWops intermediate CW class. With joining they ask for a commitment to 1 hour a day of practice time and once a week taking part in an online zoom style class time. I was accepted and as the time came near to begin the class COVID had my wife working from home. This meant our hobby room was also doubling as her office. This was a huge problem as she is always doing video conferencing as well as Webex phone calls. Her office hours were all over the map as she works with counterparts in many world time zones. I ended up cancelling my placement in the CWops class as I wanted to leave it open for someone who was sure they could dedicate the time needed. 

Well here we are a year later and my wife is now basically retired and I have lots around the house on the go but I still wanted to get my CW speed up and nail down this head copy biz. I ended up going to the CWops website and downloading the study material and I made a commitment to set aside time each day and go through the drills, studies and practice..... but on my own. I am happy to say that I have been going full tilt for the last 18 days and things are coming along. 

I am now starting to get the head copy gig, not a hundred percent yet but I am on my way. My other goal is to get to the point that in a CW contest I can start calling CQ contest and not have to search and pounce for contacts. My issue with not calling CQ contest at this point is I feel my CW speed is not up to par. I feel that I will just be a frustration to other operators in the contest who are trying to complete a contact with me. 

Here is a link to the CWops website. Pay them a visit and look around at the links even if your not interested in moving up the CW speed ladder. You can learn CW with them or pick up some great links to other CW-related information. 

Well, I press on in my continual CW adventure! 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Part time radio weekend.

In Canada and the U.S. this is a long weekend (Labour Day Weekend) with Monday being a holiday.  I was able to spend a little time on the radio in the late afternoon a few days of the long weekend. I was able to spend a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  For the most part I spent my time on 20m CW and both days the bands seemed to not be too busy. As I spent some time on the radio I found the bands were not that quiet. It was deep QSB that was working its magic to drop an S9 signal just at or below the noise floor. 

Having a radio with a waterfall is a great advantage and my Icom 7610's waterfall came in very handy showing me a signal before they would fade away to nothingness. I heard 4X6FR from Israel calling CQ and I was surprised he did not have a pile up. I gave him a few calls but he answered other stations.  Not a problem I would just wait it out. This is where the QSB kicked in and within a very short time I found only static and no 4X6FR!  The 7610 has 2 independent receivers which is a great advantage. In this case with my headphones I listened for a reappearance of 4X6FR in my left ear or VFO B. The right ear VFO A was scanning other signals that appeared on the waterfall. Needless to say, the station from Israel never again showed up on the waterfall, but he was still out there as he was being spotted by U.S. stations on DX Summit. 

As time went on the best way to describe what I saw on the waterfall was "now you see them and now you don't" When I did tune on some DX and made contact it was touch and go to make a fast and simple RST exchange and if I felt lucky I added my name and location. I was pleased with my radio time and made contact with 4O4T in Montenegro, R5AF, SP6AEG, LZ305AI, IK5OPR and finally TZ4AM from Mali which was a new one for me. I saw him being spotted on 17meters and I decided to venture there as 20m was getting a bit slow. 

The spot indicated "up 1" which meant there was a pile up and he was operating split. I skipped over to 17 meters and then landing myself on his calling frequency just to make sure I could hear him before I got too excited. There he was at S6 and I knew I had to move fast as the deep QSB had robbed me a few times from catching nice DX. I set my radio to split and dual watch which allows me to hear the DX and those who are calling him. BUT strange thing no one was calling him and my waterfall was void of signals. It could be the QSB playing games with me. So when I heard him call CQ I put my call out and he came back to me on my first call. TZ4AM was in the log and I was happy. Very shortly after the contact the deep QSB took the signal from the waterfall. 

It's Monday today and I was busy getting some household chores done throughout the day. Maybe this evening I will be back on the radio and see how 40m treats me.