Monthly Archives: July 2010

ARRL Web Survey Amusements – Where’s the Real Content?

Fun & amusing, the vast majority of website based surveys are openly acknowledged as unscientific and biased to the point of uselessness.

They can be a lot of fun, and can have a great use in prompting the website visitor to think about topics and perhaps interactively reflect on subjects of mutual interest.

The ARRL has joined the ranks, but at a new low for mundane meaningless questions – from the ARRL website:

QuickStats to Debut on Web and QST
TAGS: arrl web

Member polls have returned to the ARRL Web, but with a twist. Rather than a single weekly poll, the new QuickStats page at offers several polls at once with new questions every 30 days. The results will be published in QST beginning with the October issue.

Start by visiting the QuickStats page now. Be sure to bookmark it in your browser! Watch for poll results in the special QST QuickStats page in the rear advertising section of the magazine. Along with monthly poll results, QST QuickStats offers colorful charts and graphs that highlight interesting Amateur Radio statistics.

The Link: and the current web polls:

Make Yourself Heard!
Vote in all or even just one of the QST QuickStat polls below. We’ll publish the results in an upcoming issue of QST (look for the QuickStats page in the Table of Contents).
Poll #1

What is your favorite HF band?

160 Meters
80 Meters
60 Meters
40 Meters
30 Meters
20 Meters
17 Meters
15 Meters
12 Meters
10 Meters
Poll #2

What is your favorite VHF/UHF band?
6 Meters (50 – 54 MHz)
2 Meters (144 – 148 MHz)
1.25 Meters (222 – 225 MHz)
70 cm (420 – 450 MHz)
33 cm (902 – 928 MHz)
Poll #3

When are you on the air most often?

Weekend mornings
Weekend afternoons
Weekend evenings
Weekday mornings
Weekday afternoons
Weekday evenings

Please Note: QuickStat polls are informal and for entertainment purposes only. They are not scientifically valid; they reflect the opinions of only those ARRL Members who have chosen to participate. The ARRL does not promote or endorse the use of this information for any factual purposes and can not be deemed responsible for any inaccuracies in the results.

What is your favorite band? When are you on the air the most?

Not bad questions, but the offered answers are sorely lacking!

How could the favorite band miss answers like “Max MUF limited open DX band” or when most often on miss “On the most during Contest Weekends?”

The alternative imaginative answers are legion, and while the effort to add amusements to the gray & boring ARRL website welcome, there will need to be some imagination & inspiration added to make ever looking at “Quick Stats” worth the time to click on the link.

Oh did you catch that not only will bandwidth be wasted on the lame polls, but you can expect part of your QST to feature this rubbish starting in October?

Hopefully this QuickStats nonsense is just a placeholder for real content.



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Hilberling PT-8000 – Its On!

Dr Hilberling Demonstrates the PT-8000

Dr Hilberling Demonstrates the PT-8000

Sales, at least for much of the world, of the very interesting and hansom PT-8000 have started. At the Hilberling website there are currently a lot of very nice pictures of the German Show

A new English/German Sales Flyer:

PT-8000 Sales Flyer

And the Price List:

PT-8000 Price List

(At Today’s Rate 13,290 Euro is roughly $17,200)

Not certain if the PT-8000 is the FCC approved version and if it is being offered for USA Sales.



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When Are You going to get On the Air?

Hey, this is something I am guilty of right now.  Significant additional work responsibilities have whittled away at my “free time” and summer activities have taken another chunk.

In my case my work-load and sunny weather induced hiatus is temporary – as soon as I have my time reorganized I’ll be on the air a bit more.  My hiatus is also only partial, with operating time reduced to a couple times a week.

For too many of us it is more serious – we end up seldom on the air at all for extended periods of time.  Tongue in check only a little, it seems that many of the people offering operating advice to other newer hams are people from this rarely on the air group.

Not that they don’t have plenty to offer, but the really neat “come over to my shack and I’ll demonstrate how I am doing it, and then let you have a go” isn’t usually part of their offer to the newer ham.  Come to find out that some haven’t had an operating station for years.

How to fight these blahs – yeah, what seem to work for me to get on the air that might also work for you?

  • Make and keep Skeds – set up a schedule to meet with friends regularly on the air.
  • Work Special Events – make a plan to work that special DX or Event station while they are up.
  • Be part of Club Events – sign up to operate at a club event.
  • Be an Elmer – invite a newer yet ham to come over so you can demonstrate & share how you are operating.
  • Improve your Station – make a plan and rework your station so you just “have” to test out the new configuration.
  • Take a Class – the ARRL on-line Digital HF Class comes to mind, as the greater number of graduates become active working HF digital mode.
  • Go Portable/Mobile/QRP – trying that new challenge may just get you fired up!
  • Contesting – work a few sprints, ladders, QSO Parties or full contests.
  • Different Mode Operating – brush off that CW key, or go digital – over how about RTTY or AM?
  • Homebrew Some Gear – just like the reconfiguration you would need to test this newly built gear!
  • Move your Station into your Living Area – many hams share the frustration I have of my station being tucked away in the house, move it no more than 10 steps from your usual traffic pattern area and most people are rewarded with more operating time.
  • Leave your Station on to Receive & Listen – you’ll want to work what you hear!
  • Use DX Spots or a Skimmer Type Feed as your Screen Saver – so you have an on-going display of hints to work.
  • Get involved in an On-Air group – groups like OMISS, 10-10, Century Club or similar operating groups offer an increased fellowship is magic to increasing your operating satisfaction.
  • Do a Mini-DXpedition – operating from an Island, uncommon County/Grid Square, Lighthouse, Museum Ship or Event Location can spark a lot of interest.
  • Get Family Involved – if the XYL and children in your household want airtime, you may be inspired to get on more too!
  • Make Your Station a Group Opportunity – Adding an Audio System with Guest Headsets, or a modified Aircraft Type 2-way intercom may make it fun!
  • Work to an Award – that WAS (Worked All States – perhaps in a new mode/band), DXCC, IOTA, County Collectors or other award can be a goal to work to.
  • Get really out of your usual “box” and add something special – maybe satellite operations, a vintage station, that 160m set-up you never had, microwave or some other special technique/set-up.
  • Roll in EchoLink/ILRP type VoIP/hybrid-VoIP-Radio operations – whether to augment your on the air time or substitute during life periods when you don’t have a operating opportunity, these fun “near-ham” activities can keep you interested.

These are but a handful of the many ways to spark your interest!

See you on the air, and soon I hope!



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Net Failure – The ARRL Modernizes right back to 1985…

Working with the Internet, in all of its forms, to communicate well with a Public, a Membership and as a Reference Site certainly cannot be an easy task for any organization. Just the distraction of working through the amount of potential options for every aspect of a web presence can bring many groups to a grinding halt.

Importantly it is very easy to loose sight that in terms of web presence “Change is Just Change, and All Change Doesn’t Imply Improvement.”

The ARRL certainly has been changing its web presence, and unfortunately rather than creating a look-forward awesome web presence has in many ways gone backwards, in some cases 20 years or so…..

It is as if emotional and economic over-investment has clouded any web presence decisions.

As it is widely held that any web-transaction system needs to be simple, secure, robust, portable and user friendly there are a whole raft of lessons simply being ignored concerning the klutz ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL database system. I’ve written about this clumsy system several times, most recently as part of my decision to drop participation in LOTW as having almost no benefit for me in comparison to the technical pain of dealing with an obsolete software model. LINK Simple Thoughts on a Complex Mess – LoTW, Run or Drop?

The “redesigned” commercialized ARRL website may feature some “gee-wiz” scripting, but is dull in both design and content. Now heavily advertisement ladened this website has dropped from my daily “look-see” bookmark list as I have found it preferable (and ad free) to only monitor the RSS feed. LINK Are we a League or a Internet Vendor?

The commercialization in both implemented web design (how can it be less costly to job out the website than do it with ARRL HQ staff, specially considering the less than subtle loss of control of a contracted-out web presence?) and in the large amount of space dedicated to Internet Selling (internal ARRL ads and Paid Vendor ads) has greatly diminished my interest as an ARRL Life Member in the organization’s website.

The sell-out decision  “to tart up” & “to add paid vendor ads” has been forced down our throats with the various ARRL email newsletters “going commercial.” Maybe Newington doesn’t understand the difference between communications and Spam? I’ve found that I have gone from a nearly 100% read of the former newsletter designs to almost never looking at these new noisy, vendor ad ladened versions.

Further web efforts into offering “exclusive” and “additional” ARRL content to those members willing to participate in the third-party social networking & noisemaking systems Facebook & Twitter, with the implication that the only way for a ARRL Member to get this addition exclusive content is to use these third party websites, shows how completely out of touch the Newington web presence effort is.

There is arguments enough on other Amateur Radio blogs and forums about whether Facebook & Twitter are “evil” and “trivial” that I will only offer than there is a much more serious issue the ARRL hasn’t gotten – that these are THIRD PARTY web sites that the ARRL has no control over, and most importantly that a significant number of ARRL Members DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN.

The simple fact is the ARRL has promised a superior information flow not from its own web presence, but only through third party conduits – they are “gypping” members who do not want, or cannot for technical reasons participate in these third party information conduits, while missing the important part that they are further driving “hits” away from the ARRL website (why look at that dog, when you can get it elsewhere) which will even drive down the advertising revenue for their commercialization through Paid Vendor ads.

In many ways the ARRL appears to be heading backwards – from a bright vibrant website that filled a page to a dull clumsy commercialized website – from newsletters than set the standard for amateur radio CONTENT to advertising glossy unreadable spam-letters – from a consolidated “best content is on the ARRL website” focus to a purposeful “don’t look here, but rather look at Facebook to get anything special” drive away from the main ARRL website – from a mainly ad-light or even ad-free web presence to a ad-ladened catalogue with some content – and of course head in the sand with a LOTW system that is a dinosaur for so many of us.

Maybe the membership needs to have a chat with Newington about the concept of “Signal to Noise” in web presence?

As usual “your mileage may vary” and I would like to point out that my web presence is no masterpiece, but I’m not charging you the reader a membership and haven’t promised anything for a goal on this web project to anyone other than a promise to self “to do my best.”



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K9ZW Swag – Great Stuff from Jim’s Engraving!

I ask Jim Thibeault of Engraved Memories (LINK: ) to make me one of his renown Call Sign Clocks and a couple engraved mugs!

They came out great! The engraved mirror of the call sign clock is a hit! The mugs are great – I’ve one at work and one at home!

My camera has ended up at the office, or I would post pictures right away, but the delay gives me a second chance later praise Jim’s work when the pictures go up!

Recommended – highly!



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Satellites with Vic KC9NWB & Winston KC9FVR Update – 2

Well we are not quite there with the Satellite Work.

Programing the Yaesu VX-7R has proven to be a learning curve. Somewhere I have the cable & software to do it from a Windows Machine, but that isn’t useful when we were traveling with only my work computer (a MacBook) running OS-X.

Also the frequencies we downloaded and programed after puzzling over odd-split frequency memory storage command sequences were out of date – they were never going to work and given that they asked to program in steps smaller than the VX-7R is capable of, they appear to be “theoretical guidance” rather than “practical instructions!”

In the end we improvised and were able to listen to QSOs on AO-51 (ECHO) with ease.

As we were remote for the weekend, operating from EN55uu it is a bit of a shame that we didn’t get the transmit portion sorted out. Will be trying again from the home QTH (EN64dc) this week.

Both Vic KC9NWB and Winston KC9FVR had a blast trying and look forward to logging our first successful QSOs soon!



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