Category Archives: General Article

Amateur Radio New Year’s Resolutions

Via Amateur Radio New South Wales’ Facebook page.

Is Amateur Radio on your list of New Year’s Resolutions?

Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. If, by chance, you are not yet licensed, get your license this year.  If you have not yet passed your Standard or Advanced, do it this year.  Having trouble studying or passing?  Contact ARNSW education on
  2. Try something new, there is something for everyone!  FM repeaters and HF SSB just scratch the surface.  New digital and sound card modes seem to appear weekly.  A year ago, no one had heard of FT-8.  It’s now, by many accounts, the most popular HF Digital mode.  D-Star, DMR, and other digital voice modes are growing by leaps and bounds.  Have you tried 6 Meters yet?  The Magic Band can yield some surprising contacts.  How about SSB or CW on 2 Meters or 70 Centimeters?  Every Antennas are small and easy to construct from hardware store parts.  It doesn’t have to be pretty — an ugly antenna will radiate just as well.  Use your imagination and try something different! If you need ideas, checkout the internet for ideas.  Peter Parker VK3YE has just published an e-book, see
  3. Do something.  Set an achievable Amateur Radio goal for the year — and then work at it!  Earn DXCC or WAS, maybe on a single band?  Better your contest score by 10%?  Get your CW speed up to 20 WPM?  Reorganize and rewire the shack?  Increase your technical knowledge?  Convert your paper logs to electronic format and start using Logbook of the World?  Try QRP.  SOTA (Summits of the Air), WWFF (World Wide Fauna and Flora).  Enter a Field Day or Contest.  Chase a satellite.
  4. Build something.  There are many simple things to build.  Work up to building your very own transceiver, there are plenty short form or long for project kits available.  Simple projects can also be a great way to teach new hams the basics of soldering and kit-building.  String up that antenna you’ve been thinking about forever and see how it plays.  Download a free antenna modelling program and learn how to use it to design and build your own.  Order a kit and assemble it.  Melt some solder and have fun!  Once you start you’ll be hooked.
  5. Learn something.  Microcontrollers like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and PICaxe are quite inexpensive.  With a few LEDs and pushbuttons you can learn simple programming to get started.  There are many useful Ham Radio projects that you can find online.  And if you have an idea for your own gadget, you’ll have a lot of fun learning how to roll your own computer code.
  6. Teach something.  You know how to do things others don’t, but would like to learn.  Are you already familiar with programming microcontrollers?  How about a club project to teach the basics to other members?  Or a demonstration on using Anderson Powerpoles?  Or properly installing coax connectors?
  7. Become an Ambassador for Amateur Radio.  Get just one person (or two, or three) interested in Amateur Radio.  Offer to demonstrate Ham Radio at the Senior Citizens’ centre, Scouts and Guides meetings, your club outside the hobby, or any similar organization.  Groups like that are always looking for an interesting speaker or activity.  A simple but impressive and effective demonstration is to bring an HT and line up some contacts in advance… all they need to do is reply with a quick contact.  Network with others to present the diversity of this hobby.
  8. Get involved!  Join your local Radio Club.  If you already belong, attend the meetings.  Just about every club (not just Radio Clubs) has the same problem — 10% of the people do 90% of the work.  You don’t need to volunteer for everything… select an area that interests you, and help with that.  Even better, suggest an activity and then take the lead in organizing it.  Work with new Amateurs.  Help present a Chapter on the Foundation Weekend.  Something as simple as “I’m going to set up a portable station at the park on Saturday morning, everyone is welcome to come by” can be a great time.  If you make it a BBQ you’ll draw a real crowd.
  9. Stay positive, ignore the negative.  Don’t listen to the cranky old farts who insist that “Ham Radio is dying”.  Participation in contests remains strong, even at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  Manufacturers continue to introduce new models that we could barely dream of just a few years ago.  Hamfests that are well-organized and well-run are thriving.
  10. Most of all, resolve to have more fun with Ham Radio in 2018!

See You Soon!!

(Adapted from an original newsletter from John Bee, N1GNV)

Icom IC-9700 VHF/UHF (and more) from the Tokyo Ham Fair

Henry VK2ZHE and I were discussing the lack of new high end dedicated VHF/UHF transceivers the other day and it seems Icom heard us (or perhaps it’s just a coincidence?).   The venerable Icom IC-910H is a fantastic rig, but it’s really getting a little (okay, a lot) long in the tooth and satellite / EME operation could benefit greatly from the drastic improvements made in DSP since its release a mere 17 years ago!

Enter the glorious looking Icom IC-9700, for now just a prototype shown at the Toyko Ham Fair, following in the design footsteps of the IC-7300 / IC-7610:

Click images for full size versions.

As it’s a prototype, there’s no confirmation of final product features, cost and availability – though we can surmise it’s probably an SDR based radio.  Photo indicate it’s 2m/70cm/23cm as standard and the photo above of the rear shows LAN (!), Data, USB and Remote connectors.  The inclusion of a LAN port will make for some interesting remote control capabilities.  As expected with a rig like this, you’ve got touchscreen operation, simultaneous two band reception, D-Star and satellite modes.

Also at the Icom booth were the following radios we can expect to see shortly:

  • IC-7610 SDR HF/50MHz Transceiver (Base Station)
  • IC-R8600 SDR Wideband Receiver (Base Station) with updated firmware capable of I/Q output
  • IC-R30 Communications Receiver (Handheld)
  • ID-31PLUS UHF Digital D-STAR Transceiver (Handheld)

All photos via Japan’s FBNews.

Lucas Replacement Wire Harness Smoke

As spotted By Bob VK2BIG who says:

Thought this might be worthy of dissemination.  A bottle in every ham shack, I wonder if they make a negative earth version?

Bob’s right of course, it’s of limited use to us without a negative earth version, perhaps a group buy may be in order?  In trying to track down a group buy price, I managed to find the following information on this product and matching Churchill Tool 18G548BS adapter tube and metering valve from a past auction:

These kits were supplied surreptitiously to Lucas factory technicians as a trouble-shooting and repair aid for the rectification of chronic electrical problems on a plethora of British cars.  The smoke is metered, through the fuse box, into the circuit which has released it’s original smoke until the leak is located and repaired.  The affected circuit is then rectified and the replacement smoke re-introduced.  An advantage over the cheap repro smoke kits currently available is the exceptionally rare Churchill metering valve and fuse box adapter.  It enables the intrepid and highly skilled British Car Technician to meter the precise amount of genuine Lucas smoke required by the circuit.

Unlike the cheap, far-eastern replacement DIY smoke offered by the “usual suppliers”, this kit includes a filter to ensure that all the smoke is of consistent size, It has been our experience in our shop that the reproduction Taiwanese smoke is often “lumpy”, which will cause excessive resistance in our finely-engineered British harnesses and components.  This is often the cause of failure in the repro electrical parts currently available, causing much consternation and misplaced cursing of the big three suppliers.

These kits have long been the secret weapon of the “Ultimate Authorities” in the trade, and this may be the last one available.  Be forewarned, though, that it is not applicable to any British vehicle built after the discontinuing of bullet connectors, so you Range Rover types are still on your own…

This Genuine Factory Authorized kit contains enough smoke to recharge the entire window circuit on a 420 Jaguar, and my dear friend and advisor George Wolf of British Auto Specialty assures me that he can replace ALL the smoke in a W&F Barrett All-Weather Invalid Car( 147 CC) with enough left over to test a whole box of Wind-Tone horns for escaped smoke.  How much more of an endorsement do you need?

More, you say?  Well, I once let the smoke out of the overdrive wiring on my friend Roger Hankey’s TR3B, and was able to drive over 200 miles home from The Roadster Factory Summer Party by carefully introducing smoke into the failed circuit WITHOUT even properly repairing the leak.  Another friend, Richard Stephenson, was able to repair the cooling fan circuit of his Series 1 E-type by merely replacing a fuse and injecting a small quantity of smoke back into the wires. So there!

The history page the above text is from also has a lengthy Q&A section addressing any questions you may have about this miraculous product.  Imagine the ham radio applications!  It’s nice to know that the bottle is easily refilled when emptied too:

Thanks Bob!

How-to: Perfectly Clean Wires in Minutes!

Here’s a quick one that you have to click through to view in detail.  Thanks to Stuart VK2FSTU for the link.  Solomon NH7ZE says:

Here is an old ham radio operators trick for cleaning wires for soldering that are old and corroded.  It is hard to find this technique printed anywhere!  I am a ham, NH7ZE, and learned it from my elmer (mentor).  I am passing it on.  I hope it helps people who need to clean wires  😛

Left: After – Right: Before

See the full article by clicking here (or the picture above), as hosted on

The CAT Mobile Phone Hotspot

Here’s a simple installation that uses an unpowered, passive parabolic dish to provide mobile phone coverage in remote Australian locations:

The CAT are the Centre for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit who’s vision is “Sustainable and enterprising communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People underpinned by appropriate ‘fit for purpose’ technology.”.

The PDF Flyer from CAT describes the hotspot as follows:

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (“CAT”) mobile phone hotspot uses unpowered passive parabolic ‘dish’ antenna technology to focus and amplify the received and transmitted signal strength at the user end, thus extending coverage well beyond the existing footprint to locations where hand held mobile use would otherwise not be possible. A very marginal 1 bar signal becomes 2 or 3 bars and enables calls to be made reliably.

The parabolic antenna is mounted some metres above the ground, and is aligned in azimuth (direction) and elevation to point at the nearest or most suitable tower. In the standard configuration, the antenna height is arranged such that the phone can be either hand held by a user standing with the phone at the dish focus or mounted on the cradle provided, for hands-free loudspeaker mode operation. The phone/device antenna is thereby loosely coupled with the dish antenna, and the overall configuration achieves an effective increase in both-way gain.

This solution works regardless of the user mobile device technology, and can be used in conjunction with any mobile network provider’s network. In situations where a distant town provides multiple (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) services, a single mobile phone hotspot can be used to connect with any of these services.

Whilst other product solutions are available for locations where 240 volt power is available and the associated equipment can be securely housed in an indoor environment, or where solar panel / inverter equipment can be secured and maintained cost effectively and regularly, the robust CAT mobile phone hotspot is ideally suited to the many outdoor situations such as roadside stops, small remote Indigenous settlements and remote tourism locations where the provision of power and the cost of maintenance would make the overall cost of ownership for powered solutions prohibitive.

Very innovative!