The Noise Blankers: Running Loose on the Interwebz

noiseblankersI am always on the lookout for great ham radio information on the internet. I haven’t found any lately but I did come across The Noise Blankers radio group web site. It was difficult to tell if these guys are really serious or not but they do have an Official FCC Club Callsign (KF5TQF) so they must be legit. Who I am to disagree with this endorsement from the Federal Government?

The mission statement of the club is:

  1. Do radio stuff.
  2. Have fun doing it.
  3. Show people just how fun it is.

This mission statement is very much in harmony with The Universal Purpose of Amateur Radio, so that is a good sign!

I see that the club has posted cutting-edge reports about a West Virginia ham who bought his wife an Alpha amp for Valentines Day,  a Michigan man that declared himself to be a new DXCC entity and the problem causing the Logbook of The World backup. Check their website frequently for more exciting ham radio news.

I have been unable to confirm the rumor that this group is a renegade element of the Lost Island DX Society (LIDS), still presumed to be missing somewhere in the Chihuahuan Desert.

73, Bob K0NR

GNT Shirts Now Available

GNT

The Committee to Preserve Golf November Tango is pleased to announce the availability of the new GNT Polo Shirt. The origins of the GNT frequency traces back to the incident when three ham radio operators found themselves stranded on the shore of Lake Michigan, calling out in desperation for Gin and Tonic. You may recall the unfortunate circumstances that caused confusion about the correct Golf November Tango calling frequency.

Fortunately, this has all been cleared up and The Committee has authorized the sale of the Golf November Tango shirt, with the official GNT frequency embroidered on it. (It seems that the group is really bad at documenting things, so they figured that if they all had a shirt with the frequency written on it, it could only help. See the logo shown to the left.)

These awesome polo shirts are available online in both mens and womens sizes at the Ham Radio Techwear store. The committee apologizes that these shirts are a little late for Christmas presents, but there is always next year.

Remember, when all else fails, make a call on the GNT Frequency.

73, Bob K0NR

Bdale KB0G Makes Stuff!

Last week, I had lunch with an old friend, Bdale Garbee (KB0G). Bdale and I had both worked at HP for a number of years and we have been involved in some common ham radio clubs and activities. I followed the test and measurement path with Agilent Technologies when that company was formed, while Bdale stayed with the HP computer business. He is a recognized industry expert in Unix, Linux and all things open source. It is always cool to catch up with him and find out what he has been doing. He recently took early retirement from HP…I am not sure what “retirement” means for Bdale but its not playing shuffleboard at the retirement home!

Coincidentally, a few days later, I came across this video from HamRadioNow of Bdale talking at the ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference. In this talk, Bdale discusses the general theme of making stuff and the satisfaction that is derived from that activity. It is about an hour long so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and take a seat.

 

By the way, check out the other HamRadioNow videos, especially the videos of the DCC technical talks. Good stuff!

73, Bob K0NR

What’s All This SOTA Stuff?

w0sotaThe Summits On The Air (SOTA) program is seeing increased activity in the US. SOTA represents another one of those crossover activities that combines amateur radio with another activity, in this case hiking. The whole idea is to operate ham radio from a designated list of summits or to work those radio operators on the summits.

I’ve always had this fascination with Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT) and how that can really make a difference for radio operating, especially on VHF and higher. This means that on most hikes of any altitude, I’ve got some kind of radio gear with me.

To get an idea of how the SOTA program operates, check out these web sites:

The SOTA program provides some structure for this activity and a method to keep score. I’ve noticed throughout my ham radio experience, having a specific goal (usually in the form of an award such as WAS, WAC, DXCC, etc.) has been a good motivator for me. In some ways, I don’t like the notion of “keeping score” entering into a fun hobby, but I have to admit that sometimes it helps. The SOTA database is a robust system that keeps track of summit activations and contacts made. I don’t have a specific goal yet, other than to activate summits when I have the opportunity and to work as many of summits on VHF. (Yes, my VHF/UHF bias comes through again.)

To get a feel for the action, take a look at the Activator Scores, click the Filter selection to W0-USA (or other call area of interest), click on Show!. You’ll see the list of hams that have been activating summits, such as K0MOS, WG0AT, N6UHB and KD0PNK. You will find my callsign a ways down the list. Similarly, you can look at the Chaser Scores,  also selecting the call area of interest and clicking on Show!

But wait, there’s more! The SOTAwatch web site provides a way to spot active summits and to alert people of future activations. Clicking on Summits, leads you to a useful set of data about each summit. For example, Devils Head (designated as W0c/FR-051) is a summit that I activated on 15 Jul 2012, with SOTA info available here.

So check out SOTA…you might find it fun to activate summits or you may just decide to be a chaser. Or maybe both. Anyway it works out, it will be fun!

73, Bob K0NR