Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Little Island Time – K9ZW on WI-001L and Feed the Fish

Did a quick dash for the weekend, staying with our friends Susan and George W9EVT Ulm at Greengate Farm, Washington Island – WI-001L

Even though the CQWW WPX was on I was occupied with other tasks and more interested in spending time with our hosts and friends, than fussing on radio. Worked with another George, George Nelson, on a Pinball machine being restored and had a great time catching up.

Did briefly get on the air on 160m, joining the Every Night 160 Meter Net late on Saturday after we’d been out for dinner at Finley’s Holiday Inn. Interesting that Finley’s was using “Holiday Inn” years before the chain we see across the country, and has reached an agreement to exist peacefully with the chain both using “Holiday Inn” as their name.

The late Sunday Morning the temptation to get on the air was too great, so it was a quick 20 QSO run on 10m SSB. Here is a screen shot of the eQSL log as entered:

As always quite fun!

As an aside we were introduced to a new movie about the area “Feed the Fish” which is awesome! We laughed so hard and it was a really decent flick! Hard to describe much without being a spoiler, so here is the Amazon link where you can read about it:

Maybe we were in just the right mood and understood all the insider jokes & jabs, or more likely maybe it was that the cast’s sparkle comes over so well – either way (or both) it was a fun movie to watch and recommended.

Hope to do some more serious WI-001L operating time sometime soon!



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Make: Electronics – The Course

Here is an item I am curious if anyone reading has personally looked at?

Systemized “kitted” learning experiences have always appealed to me, and wondering how this one shapes up.

[If you’re ready to dive in right away, pick up our Make: Electronics Deluxe Tool kit and add copy of the book for only $10 more! And to help you work through the book, we’ve sourced the components you’ll need in Make: Electronics Components Pack 1 and Components Pack 2. You can also get the book for just $10 with either of these component packs.]

Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun and experiential way? Start working on some excellent projects as soon as you crack open this unique, hands-on book. Build the circuits first, then learn the theory behind them! With Make: Electronics, you’ll learn all of the basic components and important principles through a series of “learn by discovery” experiments. And you don’t need to know a thing about electricity to get started.

Get step-by-step instructions on building working devices that demonstrate fundamentals such as voltage, amperage, resistance, inductance, and capacitance. Then tackle more complex electronics concepts, including analog/digital conversion, logic gates, and integrated circuits. Along the way, you’ll learn valuable tips and techniques, always with clear explanations of what you’re doing and why.

Start out by breaking things — experiment with components and learn why you experience failure

Set up a tricked-out project space — your own at-home work area, equipped with all of the tools and parts you’ll need for the experiments in this book

Learn about all of the key electronic components and their functions within a circuit through a series of clearly presented, well-illustrated experiments

Create a car alarm, holiday lights, wearable electronic jewelry, audio generators, a crystal radio, and a touch-sensitive lamp

Work with brushed DC and stepper motors to understand their principles and applications

Learn about programmable microcontrollers by building an automous robot cart that can sense its environment and avoid obstacles

If you’ve always wanted to learn electronics, but were intimidated by other books and overly-technical websites, this book is for you!

You can download a PDF sample of the book here.

via Make: Electronics.

If at least one of my sons wants to do the course, I’m likely to buy one for them – what a great way to get started in hands-on electronics.

The idea of purposely “smoking” a few items in designed experiments is neat – like the train wrecks on the Aadam’s Family TV show we watched as kids.



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FlexRadio Systems – New PowerSRD Release Candidate

For all the Flexers out there – a second new release candidate:

PowerSDR v2.0.20 Release Candidate 2 Now Available

Dear FlexRadio customers:

The PowerSDR™ v2.0.20 RC2 Release Candidate is now posted on our download page for immediate use. We highly recommend upgrading to this version from the prior v2.0.19 RC1 version, which was posted on February 18, 2011. As we close in on general availability of a PowerSDR 2.0 Official Release, we are shortening the iteration cycles to address a few remaining bugs found in the RC1 release. Please download and read the PowerSDR v2.0.20 RC2 Release Notes associated with this release.

Below is a list of some of the more significant improvements since the prior release:

Fixed ALC overshoot and corrected leveler gain target in the transmitter audio signal chain. These changes have been verified by customers on air and in the FlexRadio lab using a digital storage oscilloscope to eliminate overshoot. We want to sincerely thank Jeff Anderson, K6JCA, for pointing out a non-obvious cause of and solution to the ALC overshoot problem.

Improved I2C and SPI control firmware on the FLEX-5000 to address lockup issues reported by a small number of customers on v2.0.19 RC1. Some alpha testers report the problems are completely fixed in this release but a small number still see random intermittent problems. This is one of the last issues being worked before the Official Release is finalized.

Wide Band Image Reject (WBIR) algorithms now have improved stability at high signal levels.

Optimized CWX default settings to improve performance and window size.

Fixed CW generation on the SDR-1000.

Improved Radio Chooser logic to reduce first time load confusion.

Added a reminder that for FLEX-1500 driver installations in Windows XP to be prepared to do up to five driver install cycles. Please consult the FLEX-1500 Installation Guide available for download from the home page.

See the PowerSDR Change Log in the \Documentation Directory for the full list of bug fixes included with this release.

With over 7,000 downloads, PowerSDR v2.0.19 RC1 has been a very big success. We appreciate all the great feedback you gave us on the new CW keyer. Thanks also to all of you who sent personal emails of appreciation to our software team for their hard work.

Best 73,

Gerald, K5SDR

via FlexRadio Systems – Software Defined Radios ::: FlexRadio Systems.

It is neat to work with a Software Defined Radio and get a new machine from a simple download!



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Sometimes SWLs have all the Fun – Listen: Secret Libya Psyops, Caught by Online Sleuths

Sometimes SWL (Short Wave Listeners) get to have all the fun!

Whatever your politics on any world event, there is usually some Radio Traffic that you can listen in on.

Interesting is the Airborne “Broadcast Station” being used in Libya – the “Commando Solo” USAF machine.

The U.S. military has dispatched one of its secret propaganda planes to the skies around Libya.

And that “Commando Solo” aircraft is telling Libyan ships to remain in port – or risk NATO retaliation.

We know this, not because some Pentagon official said so, but because one Dutch radio geek is monitoring the airwaves for information about Operation Odyssey Dawn — and tweeting the surprisingly-detailed results.

On Sunday alone, “Huub” has identified the tail numbers, call signs, and movements of dozens of NATO aircraft: Italian fighter jets, American tankers, British aerial spies, U.S. bombers, and the Commando Solo psyops plane pictured.“If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately,” the aircraft broadcasted late Sunday night.

It’s the kind of information that the American military typically tries to obscure, at least until a mission is over. But Huub is just a single node in a sprawling online network that trawls the airwaves for clues to military operations.

LINK URL via Listen: Secret Libya Psyops, Caught by Online Sleuths | Danger Room |

ADDITIONAL AIRCRAFT LINK URL via Inside the Air Force’s Secret PsyOps Plan | Danger Room |

Perhaps you too can catch a bit of the traffic if you listen?



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What’s Hitting Earth? – NASA Science

What’s Hitting Earth?

March 1, 2011: Every day about 100 tons of meteoroids — fragments of dust and gravel and sometimes even big rocks – enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Stand out under the stars for more than a half an hour on a clear night and you’ll likely see a few of the meteors produced by the onslaught. But where does all this stuff come from? Surprisingly, the answer is not well known.

Now NASA is deploying a network of smart cameras across the United States to answer the question, What’s Hitting Earth?

Did that meteor you saw blazing through the sky last night come from the asteroid belt? Was it created in a comet’s death throes? Or was it a piece of space junk meeting a fiery demise?

“When I get to work each morning and power up my computer, there’s an email waiting with answers,” says William Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “And I don’t have to lift a finger, except to click my mouse button.”

via LINK URL What’s Hitting Earth? – NASA Science.



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“With Varying Frequency” Technical and Housekeeping

Some thoughts on how “With Varying Frequency” runs:

Quoted Materials:

A kind person pointed out that a recent post was unclear in attribution, leaving the possibility that a reader wouldn’t know what was quoted and what I wrote, and they were right!

WordPress allows several tools to create Bog Posts, and I’ve been using several of them. One that is quite useful to share other web content, “Press It,” handles quoted material differently than expected – guess reading the directions before use would help!

Thanks to Todd (no call sign given) for the catch, and should be all fixed up.


As a general reminder, All Comments are Moderated. Few, if any, comments where the comment’s author doesn’t give their Amateur Radio Call Sign, or fully identify themselves will be allowed to post. Comments post unedited, excepting if asked by the author, if language demands it (we’re not cussing here, not happening….) or in the case of one regular commentator his spelling gets touched up as agreed with him. Off topic comments, comments that fail the “Golden Rule Test” and deconstructive comments don’t post. If I have written something that really upsets you, I know that WordPress will allow you to start your own Blog where you can help the world understand your views, but it doesn’t happen here.

It is really appreciated when commentators provide their call sign, or drop me a note directly.

Spam Comments

The blogosphere is full of scripts running to post all sorts of rubbish as if they were blog post comments. Though running all the tools available for this configuration of WordPress, an odd spam comment or two still makes it to review. To the script authors of the Forty-Thousand plus spam comments that went into the filter, please take the editing and deletion very personally. It is not a very worthy calling in life to be a spammer.

Travels and that Four Letter Word “Work”

Part of the reason for learning to use the wider range of WordPress posting tools is to learn to post from the road. Work and Pleasure travel have provide the opportunity to use these tools from around the country and out of country. It is neat the way the world electronically is very small with the tools available.

That pesky four-letter word “Work” does limit things at times, and that is when “Press It” posts are moved from Drafts to Published Posts. Hopefully what catch my eye and was interesting, you’ll also enjoy.

Non-Amateur Radio Posts

Continuing with the policy of keeping these to a low count. Would it be I had the time to do more sharing of other technical interests, and general commentary. Don’t have it and as these other thoughts usually don’t fit in the theme here, well they get dropped.

Guest Posts

Always willing to discuss and arrange for quality amateur radio guest postings. Email me (I’m good at with your ideas if being a guest blogger interests you.


A select few posts from the archives are Reposted from time to time. In my first year roughly of posting, Tags were not implemented and in honesty I hadn’t earned the large readership that visits now. The best of these posts get lightly updated and Reposted now and then.

Bad Links

Please email me if you notice a link has expired. In some cases the reference is gone, somtimes a web archive copy is left, and sometimes a quick update can make a post useful again. Thank you to those readers who have let me know of dead links.

Those Sharp Opinions are All Mine

In the posts of more editorial tone – where my opinion on aspects of our hobby such as Emcomm, Freecom, Clubs, the ARRL Website or whatever – are posted the opinion expressed is all mine. Your mileage may vary (YMMV) as they say. Hopefully I provoke a meaningful discussion and thought process. I do try to lay out a classic “Evidence leads to My Opinion” format and appreciate responses. comments and emails that do the same. “Think Deep and Think Often” is the goal.

It Has to be Fun

A friend often commented about Amateur Radio activities at a club I had belonged to, that in the end “It has to be fun” to keep involved. In support of my share-back goal it still has to be fun for me to post. Your feedback is always a nice thing to encourage a writer.

News is for News Websites

There are some awesome Amateur Radio News websites, and respecting the massive sustained efforts their excellent service provides the Amateur Radio internet community, I’m not doing news items. Seems very silly to repeat what eHam, ARRL, QRZ, Southgate, RSGB and a host of other websites (not to mention email newsletters, lists and reflectors) have all ready passed along. Unless I have an opinion or other added thought to make a post worthwhile, you won’t find many news type items here.


Nothing on the web is forever. The rules in respect to this are a set of inverses – the more you want something on the web to disappear the more likely it will duplicate and live on, while the more you would like something to stay available the more likely it will **POP** disappear in a twinkling! The intention is to have this blog continue, and I do not believe in a “reboot & start over” every couple months. WordPress has been great in allowing the blog to exist. If their model changes I’ll have to see what options are out there to put the material up in another form.

If you find something really useful make yourself a personal copy, and locally archive that copy.

Other than corrections of big mistakes pointed out to me and link updates, articles remain as originally posted. Reposts, or Update & Reposts, are titled to be clear.

The Economic Model

This project started as part a challenge when my youngsters said they didn’t think I could do it, greatly as a “share back” in appreciate to the Amateur Radio community and because it is fun. I don’t have a book to sell, a line of gear to sell. Not taking ad money or link money. I do mention extra gear I am getting rid of, offering it to my loyal readership first. Expenses come out of my hobby money (the little roll of about eight-ten dollar bills & cup of pocket change in my sock drawer)!


If I wrote it, the copyright is mine. If you want to quote/use my material talk to me. Attributed fair use quotes for personal use are ok. I like students and haven’t refused a use request yet from a student. Commercial reuse of my material must be discussed and is not pre-approved.

If a guest author wrote it, and those writings left in comments are copyright their authors, with an ongoing unrestricted license for my use of that material. With guest authors any reuse I will attribute to them.

Who’s Responsible (You) and Who’s Not (Me)

It you aren’t happy, somehow hurt yourself, or blow up some gear, I am doing my best and specifically put it on you as a reader that you are personably responsible for any consequences. Just like there is no expectation that you share your new DXCC award with me if my posts help you – as you had to actually use what you learned and put it to use – I can’t be responsible if a project or idea doesn’t work out for you. I’ll gladly refund what you paid to me for your access to the information if you are unhappy – which is Zero, as access is free!

You are responsible for yourself and what you take away & try. You are also responsible to have Fun with it!

What started as a brief note on Todd’s (no call sign given) observation that quotes weren’t showing as quotes on “Press It” posts has ended up a long ramble. Thank you Todd and thank all of you for making this effort Fun!



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