Monthly Archives: January 2010

READING: Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy – the book

I’ve printed out, and will be reading Carlo IK0YGJ’s eBook “Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy” once I finish I book am am rereading for review.

Available off the net, Carlo IK0YGJ’s eBook looks to be quite interesting.

More once I have the document read.

From his press releases:

Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy – the book
This book is the result of several years of experience in amateur radiotelegraphy. It suggests, for the first time, a learning methodology based on an integrated and multidisciplinary approach designed to accompany the apprentice from the first steps in ham radio all the way to a world-class proficiency in telegraphy.

The book introduces, ad-hoc tailored to amateur radio, techniques used successfully by competitive athletes, including extreme sports such as free diving, adapted to the difficult process of learning telegraphy.

You can download it here:

73 de Carlo IK0YGJ



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Learn CW Online – LCWO.NET

I’ve been working with this on-line website to brush up and improve my rather limited CW skills. Works equally well on my Windows or Apple machines, and with the lesson tracking it becomes sort of a self-challenging exercise that is fun to the point of being addictive!

The Web URL is:

LCWO - Learn CW On-Line

From the LCWO.NET Website:

A new website to learn and practice Morse telegraphy has been launched: – Learn CW Online

There are already hundreds of training programs, MP3/CD courses and practice aids available, but LCWO follows a radically different concept: While sticking to well-proven methods for learning and practice, all you need for using LCWO is a web browser!

This gives the user the liberty to practice CW wherever an internet connection is available, always retaining the personal settings, scores and statistics.

Currently the site, which is available in 20 languages offers a complete Koch method Morse course, code group practice, callsign- and plain text training modes and also allows to convert random text to Morse MP3s.

A high score list is available to compare results with other users, personal statistics help to track training progress. is a non-commercial project. Creating a free account only takes a few seconds, and you can start practicing CW right away!

Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK

Technically you do need a bit more than “just” a web browser, as the site uses Java and Flash, while being “on-line” requiring a solid connection for scoring. There are links for MP3 versions, which may allow for self-study without the scoring & lesson tracking.

Will keep you posted how my lessons go, as I improve my CW skills using “Learn CW Online” LCWO.Net



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GUEST POST: A Field Day Antenna by Paul AE5JU

Field Day Antenna


Paul – AE5JU

This past Field Day the club tried to use a folded loop that just didn’t work. All contacts were made on my portable antenna. The club asked me to make something for them that would work on 75, 40, and 20 meters.

Let’s skip right to the conclusion.  I used this antenna to check in with my favorite regional net on 75 meters with my Icom IC-718 operating at 100 w SSB from a RBC-6 sealed lead acid (“gel cell”) battery.  Net control and assistant net controls reported that I sounded good, one giving a signal report of “10 over” from nearly 400 miles away.

This antenna will work on 40 and 20 meters without tuner, and with a little assist from a tuner will work on 17 and 15 meters, too.

Here it is:

This is a Field Day / Portable / Emergency antenna I just finished trimming. An antenna analyzer made for easy trimming.

AE5JU Field Day Antenna

AE5JU Field Day Antenna

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Graphic

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Graphic

This is a multiband inverted V dipole. The club president and I had discussed bands that needed to be covered, so it was decided that 20 meters, 40 meters, and 75 meters were most important. Anything else is extra.

I made my calculations, cut my wire to length, etc. Left a few feet on the ends so that it could be let out.

The 4 legs are all about the same overall length. 40 meter legs go one way, and the 75/20 meter legs are at right angles. The wires double as the guys, with insulators out at the ends, and then 550 parachute cord going on out to tent stakes… or anything else you can find to tie to.

The 75/20 legs have coils in the middle of each leg. These are placed at about where the ends would be if the wires were cut for 20 meters only… traps or chokes. They also act as loading coils so that the overall length will work for 75 meters.

When dipoles are this low (about 22′), proximity to the ground lowers the antenna’s impedance, which causes havoc with SWR. To counter this, like the Buddipole, the feedpoint is just off center, enough to bring up the impedance a bit closer to 50 ohms. The legs connected to the “hot side” of the coax are a little longer, and the coil on the 75/20 meters leg has a few more turns on the coil than calculated. The legs connected to the “shield side” of the coax are a little shorter, and the coil on that shield side 75/20 meters leg has a few fewer turns than calculated. This off center feed allowed for a minimum SWR of 1.3 to 1.4:1, which could not have been achieved otherwise.

Let’s see if this theory works out…

20 meters resonated too high, needed lengthening.

Due to the way this antenna is made it was decided to lengthen the 20 meters segments first by unwinding a turn from the inner side of one coil.  The coil former, 2” pvc pipe, has J-slots cut in each end so that wire may be let out or taken in.

Letting out one turn, lengthening that side by about 7″, brought resonance down some, but not enough. Letting out one more turn on that same side resulted in these figures:

14.000 mhz 1.6
14.100 mhz 1.5
14.200 mhz 1.4
14.300 mhz 1.5
14.350 mhz 1.5

Next I tackled the 75 meters segments, which were tuned by cutting off the ends of the wire on these same segments. I took off about 2′ on one end, and about 18″ on the other to give:

3.900 mhz 2.3
3.910 mhz 1.7
3.920 mhz 1.4
3.925 mhz 1.4
3.930 mhz 1.5
3.935 mhz 1.6
3.943 mhz 2.0

There are some emergency nets on 3.925 – 3.935 mhz.

20 meters was rechecked, and remained unchanged.

40 meters was adjusted by removing about 10″ from each end to give

7.000 mhz 2.9
7.100 mhz 2.3
7.150 mhz 1.8
7.200 mhz 1.5
7.250 mhz 1.4
7.300 mhz 1.5

After these changes all three bands were checked again to make sure nothing else needed to be fine tuned.

15 meters was found to be in the 3.5:1 to 3.0:1 range. A tuner can take care of that quite easily.


AE5JU Field Day Antenna Coil

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Coil

Loading coil. These coils are close wound on 2″ ID pvc with 14 ga insulated wire. There are J slots on each end to allow adding or subtracting turns of wire.

Once the coil tuning was settled it was wrapped with 3M Electrical Tape.

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 1

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 1

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 2

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 2

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 3

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Detail 3

Center insulator made from cheap Wallyworld kitchen cutting board.

100′ of RG-8X coax was used, which is approximately 1/2 wavelength at 80 meters. Also, there are five Palomar Engineers FSB-1/4 ferrite snap on beads on the coax up by the feedpoint. These act as a “choke balun”.

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Stand

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Stand

Base, PA Speaker tripod. The mast is 5 sections of fiberglass pole sections. These are military surplus camo net poles, an Ebay item.

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Termination

AE5JU Field Day Antenna Termination

End insulators. Ordinary ceramic dogbone type.  “550 Parachute Cord” extending out to tent stakes.

The recipe:

Wire used is 14 ga stranded insulated wire, the 500′ roll for $25 from Home Depot.

I had a lot of black parachute cord, but will buy some more orange for the end rope on this. Also, my plastic tent stakes are green. Difficult to see in the dark. I’m going to get some bright yellow tent stakes.

The center insulator is cut from a cheap plastic kitchen cutting board from Walmart. A half inch dia hole was drilled in it, and a SO-239 socket screwed to it. The top of the socket was sealed with Aleene’s 7800 adhesive.

There is approximately 3″ of wire from the socket to each of the four holes, or tie points for the wire legs.

The two 40 meters segments go one way, and the two 75/20 meters segments are perpendicular to the 40 m.
40 meters segments:

AE5JU Field Day Antenna 40m

AE5JU Field Day Antenna 40m

Measurements are from the holes, or tie points on the center insulator out to the hole in the ceramic “dog bone” insulators on the ends.
75 and 20 meters segments:

AE5JU Field Day Antenna 75m and 20 m

AE5JU Field Day Antenna 75m and 20 m

This 75 / 20 meters section is wired parallel to the 40 meters section, only these legs are stretched out at right angles to the 40 meters legs.

Measurements for the inner 20 meters segments are from the tie points on the center insulator out to the first turn on the coils. The measurements for the outer wire segments are from the last turn of the coil on out to the hole in the ceramic “dog bone” insulators on the ends.

The coil formers are 2″ ID PVC pipe, which is 2.375″ OD. I have holes drilled in the pipe to secure the ends of the coils with ty-wraps. After tuning was deemed finished, the coils were wrapped with Scotch 3M electrical tape. I find Scotch electrical tape does not turn gummy and fall off with age. Good quality tape is worth the money. I made the coil formers with “J-slots” on the ends, to allow more turns to be taken off or added for tuning. Now that I have the final measurements that will not be necessary when making future copies of this antenna.

Due to the diameter of the 14 ga insulated wire, I was able to get right at 9 turns per inch, close wound, that is, turns touching each other. I used this 9 turns per inch figure in an online coil design calculator. This gave a nice repeatable build on the coils, and a length to diameter ratio of about 1.75:1, which is right in the middle of the suggested design ratios of 1.5:1 and 2:1.

Other notes:

There are five Palomar Engineers FSB-1/4 ferrite snap on beads placed on the RG-8X coax near the feedpoint. This forms a “choke balun” to stop RF on the shield.  Similar snap on beads may be purchased from Ham City listed with the coax.

The apex of the antenna is at approximately 22′. This includes the tripod base and 5 fiberglass mast pieces.  These are the common military surplus fiberglass camo net poles sold at hamfests and on eBay for use as antenna masts.

The only drawback of the coils is that the 75 meters bandwidth is narrower than if the antenna were full length. However, the antenna still covers the desired portion of the band with good SWR, and a little more using the tuner. * (see note at bottom of this post)

But the use of coil loading and the overall length of this 75 meter antenna (appx 50% of full size) causes no noticeable drop in signal.  I still got good signal reports from others I regularly talk to, so they know what I usually sound like with my full size dipole.

While this is not a permanent antenna for me, this might possibly help others fit 75 or 80 meters into a small yard.

One added note: While many say coax length does not matter, during initial testing with an analyzer I was getting good, consistent readings on 40 and 20 meters, but the 75 meters SWR readings were squirrely. Then it dawned on my… 50′ of coax. Considering velocity factor, that is very close to 1/4 wavelength at 80 meters. The next time I tested it I used 100′ of coax, and that works out to approximately 1/2 wavelength at 80 meters. SWR readings were consistent and stable.

Lesson learned: The old “conventional wisdom” to use 1/2 wavelength of coax got to be “conventional wisdom” for a good reason. I related this to one of our old club gurus and he just smiled and said, “Toljaso.” Length does matter, so use 93′ – 100′ of coax with this antenna.


* So, a thought occurred to me… What if you do want to go lower in the 75 meter band? Why not put some sort of connector near the ends, down by the insulators? Then clip on some added pieces of wire, 1′ long each, or 2′ long each, and string them on past the insulator, perhaps securing them to the parachute cord end ropes with tie wraps? That would drop the resonant frequency to a lower portion of that band.

AE5JU Field Day Antenna - Add-On Thoughts

AE5JU Field Day Antenna - Add-On Thoughts

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Hamcrams, Hamshacks and Guests

Have been working on materials for the February 6th Mancorad W9DK Hamcram and VE session at Lakeshore Technical College.  Very excited personally to get the W9DK Mancorad Hamcram program fired back up.  Currently have a VE assistance request out for Extra Class VEs to help with upgrade testing, as a number of people have asked to sit higher exams.

Have spent a bit of time in the Hamshack, a maybe 40 QSO quick run at the NAQP (North American QSO Party) but more importantly was able to put a young 11 year old on the air fr his first experience with Amateur Radio.  He did very well and a huge thanks to Ed KD6RUH for helping with the favorable first QSO for this young lad.

Personally we were away  out of country from Dec 17th onwards, returning to have out of country houseguests  arrive Dec 28th and then changed over to family houseguests until yesterday Jan 17th!  At the peak we had 5 teenagers in the house with the extras!

Lots of projects here for my K9ZW radio room.  Some new gear to put up, some lingering minor glitches to sort out and now that the house is back down to just four of us for a while, some radio time to schedule.



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On Site Report from Haiti – follow on to The Voice of Community Radio – Low Power FM Radio Project in Haiti

EDIT Jan 15th – Until the Haitian Low Power Community Radio Project restarts, or if their would be some Amateur Radio news concerning Haiti not covered elsewhere, With Varying Frequency will return to my usual subjects for Blogging.

From the pastor who’s Haitian Church was the local focus fo rthe Low Power FM project:

From: Huguener& Betty Bastia
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:19 PM
To: Caneille Calvary Chapel
Subject: Betty and Bastia Safe – Earthquake Update

Hi everyone,

We are writing this e mail to the many who have written and asked how we are in light of yesterday’s earthquake in Haiti. Short answer – Yes, Bastia and I are both safe and unharmed due to nothing short of a miracle of God..

Bastia and I were both in Port au Prince when the earthquake took place. Bastia dropped me off at a grocery store to do some shopping while he and our friend TiJean went across the street to get their hair cut. Within 10 minutes of being in the grocery store, I felt the floor start to tremble. I remember thinking, “This feels like an earthquake, but Haiti doesn’t have earthquakes”. As I looked up, the ceiling tiles were trembling. Underneath me, the trembling increased where I could not stand, so I knelt down on the floor, covered my head, and prayed. The trembling increased and the lights went out. It was pitch black everywhere. I heard people screaming and the sound of people trying to run to get out of the building as ceiling tiles fell and things fell off the shelves. All around me, I was aware that things were falling, but nothing touched me. The tremors stopped, and the first thing I tried to do was try to call Bastia from my cell phone. No answer, just a recorded message in Creole. Same thing the second attempt. I was aware that there was a woman behind me. “Are you OK?” I asked. “Yes”. I said, “Don’t be afraid, Jesus is with us.” I told her to follow me, and with the light of my cell phone, we carefully and slowly began crossing the debris to exit the building. As I exited, I looked everywhere for Bastia. And then, right there in front of me, there he was along with TiJean. I cannot explain the relief and joy to see his face.

Bastia had a more harrowing experience. It was a huge cement building and he and TiJean were sitting in the barber chairs when the tremors began. TiJean fell on the way out, but got out before the building collapsed. Bastia was not able to get out and a huge slab of cement fell down right above him and stopped right above his head. I personally believe Gods’ angels were holding up the cement to not crush him. He saw no way to get out, but then found a hole to crawl through and escaped. This morning, when we drove by the same barber shop, it had totally collapsed, and Bastia would have died if that had happened while he was in the building. Once out, he and TiJean came immediately to find me.

We are praising God continuously for His protection and deliverance. Thank you for all who pray for us. God has a plan and nothing will stop it.

The situation in PAP is severe. Many people are trapped in buildings of which almost all are made of cement. This morning there were wounded, bleeding people everywhere, and dead people on the streets who were covered with a shirt or sheet. There was little vehicle traffic and literally thousands of people walked the streets looking at the damage and searching for their loved ones.

One hospital was completely destroyed. We took a truckload of injured people to the hospital. There was hardly a place left on the hospital grounds to even put them. The hospital was full and there were no medical personnel seen outside. One beautiful young girl was dying before my very eyes as the young man with her looked at me and said, “She’s dying.” There were cries and wails of pain everywhere.

Schools throughout the entire country are closed till further notice. The presidents’ house has been destroyed as well as the police station, hospital, schools, many businesses, homes,etc.

No one here ever recalls Haiti having had a severe earthquake like this. In Caneille and Hinche, light tremors were felt, but no damage. The light tremors hit Caneille and Hinche before PAP, and the people of Caneille said they were praying for us fervently and relentlessly.

We arrived back in Hinche this afternoon and are trying to stock up on food, gas, and culligan water. Everything originates from PAP and we expect prices to skyrocket and things to be unavailable.

Phone communication is not possible since yesterday when the earthquake hit. Most people have digicel phones which are done by communication towers and not by satellite so people are not able to get in touch with their loved ones. I am writing this in Caneille and so it seems that we will have Internet access for our communication. Our Internet service is by satellite. Praise God for that.

Please continue to pray for us and Haiti, especially those impacted by the earthquake. God is sovereign, God is good, and He has a plan for each one. We pray for many to be saved through this present affliction.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We are living proof that they make a difference. To God be the glory! Sorry we are not able to respond to each one of you individually due to the overwhelming number of e-mails we have received. We are so blessed to be loved like that!

With grateful hearts.
Betty and Bastia

Your support of relief efforts are needed.



This is follow up of article: The Voice of Community Radio – Low Power FM Radio Project in Haiti –

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The Voice of Community Radio – Low Power FM Radio Project in Haiti

An update from Max KC9LOE:

“Good Morning Everyone. Just a quick note about my trip to Haiti as it relates to the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince yesterday. As of this time our trip has been put on hold and we will not be going down next week. This decision was made by Pastor Dwight in Appleton who is the Senior pastor of Calvary Chapel of Appleton who was coordinating the mission trip.

Right now we still have not heard from Pastor Bastia from Calvary Chapel Caneille in Haiti. He and his wife were in Port-au-Prince yesterday for a couple days, so please keep them and all if Haiti in prayer as they struggle to recover from this devastation.

As I have updates I will pass them along to everyone.

Serving Christ in Radio,

Max Rathke”

and from CQ/WorldRadio:

“CQ News: At least one Haitian Ham station active
Date:January 13, 2010 10:10:29 AM CST

From the CQ / WorldRadio Online Newsroom:

Some ham radio activity from Haiti is beginning to be heard, following yesterday’s devastating earthquake.

Father John Henault, HH6JH, in Port-au-Prince, made contact late Wednesday morning with the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) on 14.300 MHz, the IARU Global Centre of Activity frequency for emergency communications. Based on relays monitored at W2VU, Father John reported that he and those with him were safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day. He asked the station copying him, William Sturridge, KI4MMZ, in Flagler Beach, Florida, to telephone relatives with information that he was OK.

The following frequencies are in use for earthquake-related traffic and should be kept clear unless you are able to provide requested assistance: 14300 (IATN), 14265 (SATERN); 7045 (IARU Region II) and 3720 (IARU Region II) kHz. Additional frequencies may be activated on different bands at different times of day, so be sure to listen carefully before transmitting to make sure you are not interfering with emergency traffic.

We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

— The editors

Worldradio-l mailing list “

In the hours since I posted this Haiti has suffered a huge natural disaster – from the BBC News:

“A 7.0-magnitude quake which hit south of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince is feared to have killed hundreds of people across the Caribbean country.

In the space of a minute, Haiti’s worst quake in two centuries wrecked the HQ of the UN mission, the presidential palace and numerous other buildings.

A “large number” of UN personnel were reported missing by the organisation.
The capital is now said to be in total darkness with many people sleeping outside amid fear of more aftershocks.

Describing the earthquake as a “catastrophe”, Haiti’s envoy to the US said the cost of the damage could run into billions.

A number of nations, including the US, UK and Venezuela, are gearing up to send aid.”

From CQ/WorldRadio the devastation and clear frequencies:

“Earthquake net frequencies – 7045, 3720 kHz – Please keep clear

From the CQ / WorldRadio Online Newsroom

All radio amateurs are requested to keep 7045 kHz and 3720 kHz clear for possible emergency traffic related to today’s major earthquake in Haiti.

International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region II Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, reports that as of 0245 UTC on January 13, nothing had been heard from radio amateurs in Haiti, but that the above frequencies were being kept active in case any Haitian hams manage to get on the air, and in case of other related events in surrounding areas, including aftershocks and a possible tsunami.

The following is from an e-mail from CO2KK:

A few minutes after the earthquake was felt in eastern Cuba’s cities, the Cuban Federation of Radio Amateurs Emergency Net was activated, with net control stations CO8WM and CO8RP located in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and in permanent contact with the National Seismology Center of Cuba located in that city.

Stations in the city of Baracoa, in Guantanamo province, were also activated immediately as the earth movements were felt even stronger there, due to its proximity to Haiti. CO8AZ and CO8AW went on the air immediately, with CM8WAL following. At the early phase of the emergency, the population of the city of Baracoa was evacuated far away from the coast, as there was a primary alert of a possible tsunami event or of a heavy wave trains sequence impacting the coast line at the city’s sea wall …

Baracoa could not contact Santiago de Cuba stations on 40 meters due to long skip after 5 PM local time, so several stations in western Cuba and one in the US State of Florida provided relays. CO2KK as IARU Region II Area C Emergency Coordinator, helped to organize the nets, on 7045 kHz and also on 3720 kHz, while local nets in Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa operated on 2 meters.

As late as 9,45 PM local time 0245 UTC we have not been able to contact any amateur or emergency services stations in Haiti.

Amateurs from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela were monitoring the 40 meter band frequency, that I notified to the IARU Region II executive Ramon Santoyo XE1KK as in use for the emergency, requesting that 7045 kHz be kept as clear as possible..

We are still keeping watch on 7045 kHz hoping that someone in Haiti may have access to a transceiver and at least a car battery to run it.

All information that has so far come from the Cuban seismologists tell us of a very intense earthquake, and also of the possibility of other events following.

Following the advice of the geophysicists, we are keeping the 7045 and 3720 kiloHertz frequencies active until further notice.”

Our individual willingness to help projects like this may be even more important as the country rebuilds

I’ll post Max KC9LOE’s project updates in respect to the earthquake.

——- ——- ——- ——-

Calvary Chapel Caneille Haiti

Calvary Chapel Caneille Haiti

Max KC9LOE is a Mancorad Hamcram Student who is participating in a very excellent project to bring a Low Power FM Radio project to life in Haiti:

“Steve, it was good to talk to you.

Here is the synopsis on my trip to Haiti Jan 18th to the 24th. I am going down with 3 other gentleman from Calvary Chapel of Appleton to setup a FM radio station for Calvary Chapel Caneille ( They are located about 10 miles SE of Hinche, Haiti. We have purchased a NiCom LT 500/LCD 500w transmitter/amplifier combo, and will be taking down a SWR FM1/2 2 bay circular antenna. We will be placing the antenna approx 30 feet off the ground, and have approval from the Haitian government to operate on 99.5FM with 500w of power. Here are the coordinates if you would like to see where we are going to be: 19º 06′ 20.02″ N 71º54′ 12.82″ W. This station will be broadcast in the native language, Creol, and will play both music and bible teaching from Pastor Bastia from Calvary Chapel Caneille, and eventually they also hope to do live broadcasts of interviews and their weekly church services as well.

Right now, we have the transmitter, antenna, transmission line, and grounding straps lined up. We are just working on a sound board, cd player, studio mic, and all the audio cables to interconnect everything together.

Wayne from Franks Radio Service is tuning our antenna to the correct frequency for us. If Wayne has problems tuning the antenna, we will need to get a new one but have a source we can purchase one that would be able to get it made, tuned and to us by 1/15 if needed.

I was asked to go with them because I am running our local station here in Manitowoc, 96.3 FM, WTSW-LP and had more radio experience than any of the others that are going, (as scary as that sounds! J ).

I think that covers pretty much where we are at right now and what we are hoping to accomplish.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you,
Max Rathke

These sort of projects bring a lot to community and are worthy of each of our support. Max KC9LOE can be contacted at servant -at-

I know some of Mancorad fellow members have been in contact with Max KC9LOE and have offered either technical or monetary for support of this project. You too can make a difference.



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