Working on Amateur Radio New Year's resolutions

What personal goals I may set myself for my hobby:

- pass Extra exam
- get proficient at CW @ 20 wpm
- build portable NVIS antenna
- expand my portable solar and hand crank power solution
- purchase / install mobile HF/ VHF/ UHF solution
- go hiking/ operate portable at least 1x/ month
- help organize and operate Jamboree on the Air 2013 for the Little Rock, AR Boy Scouts

And you?


Amateur Radio and Situational Awareness - A proposal

Amateur Radio is a distributed resource able to transmit messages when all other forms of communications fail. As such it is predestined to support situational awareness in times of emergencies.

FLDIGI is a suite of programs which allow easy sending and receipt of ICS (Incident Command System) Forms as developed by FEMA and the US Coast Guard. These structured messages should be well suited for ATOM or RSS feeds, due to their well known structure and common use in Incident Command Systems.

I thus propose that the data of ICS forms received by Amateur Radio Operators, be it that they provide service under ARES (the Amateur Radio Emergency Service) or as individuals who monitor the airwaves (for example the NBEMS Radio Assistance Network) be copied into individual blog entries, which in turn are offered as ATOM or RSS feeds, same as this blog on Blogger is available as an ATOM and RSS feed.
This presentation of data should also be extended to all other forms of more randomly received data from emergency areas, for example by entering it into an ICS-213 form, which lends itself to an open text entry.

This ATOM/ RSS data can then in turn be incorporated into Situational Awareness Maps.


Amateur Radio and Situational Awareness

I am becoming more and more intrigued by Crisis Mapping and how Amateur Radio and Non-Amateur Radio Crowdsourcing may contribute to overcoming disasters.

Just came across this article:

and then went on to look at MapMill and signed up.

Now - how about porting that idea to data received by Amateur Radio Operators...?


Solar power for portable Amateur Radio

I finally took delivery of my last item of my portable solar solution consisting of:

- a PowerfilmSolar R28 rollable waterproof panel
- a Genasun GV-5 charge controller
- and an A123 Systems 12V drop in lead acid replacement Lithium Ion Nanophosphate battery.

To the best of my knowledge, these products belong to the best in their class. Will write more about why I chose these items in future posts and will inform on how they perform.


Best instructional video on Automatic Link Estrablishment (ALE)

The best instructional video on PCALE and Automatic Link Estrablishment (ALE) that I have found to date is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4USt8JFUHE

It truly is worth the time to watch.

73 de Marcus KD0JKM


Hand Crank Generator

In search of a Hand Crank Generator to provide an independent power supply "when the lights go out", I had the following criteria that were important to me:

- Made in the USA
- high quality long lasting construction
- light weight, backpack / manpack portable
- 12V output
- "consumer product price range"

The first criteria, "Made in the USA" was the most difficult to fulfill, since I only found three US manufacturers, of which only two still had their product in construction. Of these, only one was backpack / manpack portable, the Pasco Hand-Crank Generator Model No. EM-8090.

The other (non- backpack / manpack portable) hand crank generator is the Crank-a-Watt which is undoubtedly also a great idea and product.

Unpacking the Pasco Hand-Crank, I was impressed by the solid build quality, essentially no plastic (except for the handle)! It is reasonable in size, easily packable. Cranking it without a load attached was easy, it has a well working easy-going mechanism inside. Cranking it under load was understandably harder and easily produced the specified 12V and 25W. There is however a caveat to it, it produced RFI while tuned on the 20m band, did not try it out on the other bands but assume that there may be some RFI too. Now I understand why MilSpec hand cranks sell for much more money! This however did not make me send it back. I have remained a proud owner and look forward to some "muscle training" on future backpack operations.

73 Marcus KD0JKM


Google Crisis Map for Hurricane Sandy

...or how Amateur Radio Operators and SWLs may assist from far away in disaster response efforts

Google has put together an interactive map combing radar, satellite images,
forecasts, Red Cross shelters, etc. for Hurricane Sandy.

On the following page they have a link: "Tools for First Responders".

They've been doing this since Katrina.

let's brainstorm how these tools may assist in our EmComm efforts and how HAMs and SWLs (who are remote from the affected area of a disaster) may be able to assist in Disaster Response efforts by transcribing data received while monitoring the airwaves. It's certainly not necessary to be "in the front lines" as a HAM or SWL to be able to help those in need.

I credit Irv W4IWK for making me aware of this resource.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM


First time as NetControl on 5403.5

Operated the HF Radio Assistance Network tonight for the first time on 5403.5 kHz at 20:27 hours local (CST) time from Little Rock, AR. Was not surprised that no one responded on it's inauguration. Will aim to operate the net every night at 20:00 hours local time (CST).

73 Marcus KD0JKM


30 Meter Multi Mode Weekend – 27/28 October 2012

Please take note of the following announcement:
30 Meter Multi Mode Weekend
*** includes promoting FLDIGI and RSID - see event details ***

When: October 27th and 28th 2012

Where: 10 MHz - 30 Meter Band (10.100 – 10.150)

Objective: To promote experimenting and using different digital modes on the unique 30 Meter Band. 

For a more detailed listing of this event go here:

(You are welcome to post this event information to your other digital friends, Clubs, Yahoo/Google Groups, other Ham Related Websites, etc – please DO help us promote this event - the more that participate the more fun for al and thanks to those that participate on the 30 Meter Band!)

The 30 Meter Digital Group (30MDG) is celebrating….5 year Anniversary, 6,000 members (120DXCC), and our 30MDG Award Program issuing over 31,000 Award Certificates. 30MDG is FREE to join, FREE Awards program with FREE Award software – Ultimate 30 or U30).

GL and as always this is NOT a contest – no start or stop times, no exchanges, no logs to send to anyone, no winners or trophy – this IS to PROMOTE AWARENESS of the 30 METER BAND and the only winners are those that participate and have fun!

Don KB9UMT 30MDG#0001-Founder
And the 30MDG Team


My first QSL card

Today I made the final decisions regarding the design of my QSL card. Please be aware that I reference multiple entities on my card, which I truly admire. I believe to be infringing no copyright. No parts of this design may be used for other works as I have no rights over the logos featured on my card. 

Please visit especially:

and allow me to mention Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA whose work in HFLink and HFPack has had great influence on my HAM operating, although we never met or had any significant direct exchange of ideas.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM

Monitoring Global Center of Activity, HFLink and HFPack frequencies:

Introducing the Radio Assistance Network

Another interesting concept I read about this weekend...

Allow me to re-blog:

to join the email group for this new idea.  Your input will be appreciated.  The concept draws on comments and thoughts over the past few months about alternative concepts to ARES/RACES and formal groups,  and also on the comments made by those wishing to expand some of the NBEMS HF activities..  Co-moderators for the email group are solicited. 

The website is quite basic at the moment, not even any colors, but will improve it as suggestions arrive and as interest grows.  I'll create a specific domain name if their is sufficient interest.  The group is open to all , around the world.  Perhaps some regional sub-groups in the future.

Of particular interest are your comments on what may seem like a peculiar idea, the 8-8-12 Nets.  

Andy K3UK


I came across an interesting concept this weekend and it's best explained in the words of the creator:

"Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio
Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, often referred to by its acronym RaDAR, is concept for operating an amateur radio station anywhere, anytime and even in adverse environmental conditions. This concept supports the amateur radio service’s emergency communications mandate."

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about the same lines for quite some time.

To read more about this concept, visit the website:

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM

Monitoring Global Center of Activity, HFLink and HFPack frequencies:


FLARQ reception reports for today.

Had one connection via FLARQ with PSK31 to Canada today, two US stations who emailed me that they would like to connect, but that we were likely too close for the 14 MHz band to allow this since they did not see my signal.
As can be seen by the attached screen capture taken from pskreporter.info, many stations heard me via PSK31. Regrettably, FLARQ was unable to keep the connection with the Canadian station up and running, the connection was just too bad.
Noticed during my short conversation, that the message pane in FLARQ is quite short, not allowing longer sentences. Guess it was not constructed for long chats :)


FLARQ reception reports for today.

No stations connected to my beacon over a period of approximately 7 hours, at least I did not register any successful attempts. But, look at the reception reports posted on pskreporter.info, the furthest contact I made with PSK31 was 4997 miles! I find that amazing.

Hope you will connect to me via FLARQ tomorrow, for today I've shut down my station.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM


Operating FLARQ this weekend.

Mode: ............BPSK31
Frequency: ....on or around 14071.0 kHz.
Transceiver: ..Barrett 2090
Antenna: .......Buxcomm 7510CF2TD
Power: ..........10W
Time: ............as long as I sit in my chair to supervise my rig :)
Software: ......FLDIGI on OSX with FLARQ
Software found here: http://www.w1hkj.com/Fldigi.html

Hope to meet you on air!

73 de Marcus KD0JKM


QTH locator : EM35MC

QTH locator : EM35MC   or   "lessons learned from using a whip antenna with low branches"

Had a great day hiking in Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, weather could not have been any better

hiked along the Canyon Trail, which although it is considered "easy" was quite tricky at times due to several trees having fallen across the trail. 

Had my 2090 in the backpack with the whip antenna attached, no counterpoise (would have caught in the underbrush). The whip got quite a beating from low branches and I had feared that the antenna might get bent, but had confidence that the flexible adaptor between the 2090 and the antenna would prevent this. What I did not expect was that the multiple beatings on the antenna would exert a circular force an the antenna and its adaptor, so that the screw in mechanism would work itself free and lead to complete detachment of the flexible antenna from the base. Nearly lost the antenna that way! 

Forgot to mention that I had 2 great QSOs today on the HFPack 20m frequencies while on my approx. 3 hour walk, one to Yellowstone National Park, the other to Pennsylvania. I found it most surprising that I was able to keep up conversations considering that I was in a canyon. A small canyon but nonetheless essentially not allowing direct line of sight with the horizon, especially when considering that I was underneath a high tree canopy. 

I regret that I had to cut both contacts somewhat short due to me having to pay attention to not losing my footing on the trail and/or due to having to work out how to get back on trail, being slightly lost at one stage. Have to also thank my XYL that I could work my transceiver nearly all the way, considering that it was "our time"!

For the future I have a tape antenna on my "to purchase" list, being well aware that it's radiation pattern is even more of a compromise...

73 de Marcus KD0JKM


AT-1743 dipole antenna


Used my AT-1743 Tactical Dipole this weekend. Learned that  one has to be meticulous about slipping the antenna wire into the slots provided on the storage boards after choosing the desired frequency. After my initial set up, I thought I'd just play it safe and let my internal tuner look at the SWR, although theoretically, I should not have needed the internal ATU for the quasi tuned Dipole antenna. But low and behold, the SWR was through the roof. Turned out that one of the wires had slipped and unraveled itself out of the storage board, resulting in a non-tuned setup. After correction, I was able to reach CO and NY from AR with 30W on 20m.

Nice learning point, nice contacts = fun operating! And my XYL meanwhile enjoyed our picnic together, what could be better :)

My review of the AT-1743 at this time:
Plus: tuned Dipole antenna for any frequency
Minus: Weight... which is however due to the high quality wire, which is long enough for a tuned 2MHz Dipole, so is this really a minus? The reader may decide.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM


80' horizontal grass loop antenna: excellent for 60m

K3MT'S Grasswire antenna idea transferred to a 80' (24.38m) horizontal loop?
I am thinking of trying out an 80 foot horizontal loop antenna at near grass-level on field day. Wish I had found some post on the Net of someone else trying it out, but found none. Any suggestions/ feedback welcome!
vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM

Update 2012-06-22:
I tried it out today, operating SSB as KD0JKM/BP from Saint Louis, MO: 80' wire loop antenna, elevated approximately 8'' (20cm) above ground with some small poles from a DIY store, arranged in a circle, directly connected to my Barrett 2090 transceiver with 30W power. The setup was extremely fast.

Came up with an SWR of 1:1 on 5403.5 kHz USB and 1.3:1 on 5371.5 kHz USB. Thus I called CQ on these 60m frequencies and quickly made nice contact with WM9I and WB9JOX (who are 92 miles and 245 miles away from me), thank you for answering my call and the nice QSO! My signal reportedly ranged from 35 to 48.
I then tried to tune on the HFPack frequencies on 160m, 80m, 40m - but SWR "indefinite".
Was able to tune on the HFPack frequencies on 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and had an SWR between 1.7:1 to 2.8:1, did call CQ multiple times on each frequencies, but no contact made. Did however hear CW clearly with copy of 57 to 58 and also some SSB, but SSB copy had only an RST of 25.

Did not expect to make any contacts due to my NVIS setup - but will sure try again tomorrow on Field day (of course not on the 12m, 17m, 30m and 60m bands).

A single wire 80' loop antenna at near grass level is a viable antenna set up for 60m SSB contacts.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM

Post Field Day update:
When I tried out the above setup, the only two pedestrians walking around the park where I operated, had to walk straight through my loop antenna setup although I had marked it extremely well with orange markers as a site to avoid, nonetheless - as usual - some people are more attracted to safety markers, than to walk around them in some distance.
Since I was in more crowded locations (with my portable setup) during Field Day, I did not dare put out my loop antenna at grass level, being too afraid that someone would purposefully walk right through, trip and fall. As of yet I am unsure how to deal with this in the future. Post huge warning signs? Hardly. Suggestions welcome.
Thus, I only operated portable mobile with my whip on my manpack. Was fun!
vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM



Operating portable today.

Was on the air for about 2 hours today, calling CQ on the HFPack frequencies, but no answer. What a shame! Was able to log into the MMSN 14300 net without a problem, reportedly with a decent signal. Operating portable with headphones is really nice, no HF hiss in the ears anymore...

vy 73 de KD0JKM


Arlan communications headset with environmental connector to Barrett 2090 manpack

For some time I had been thinking about getting a headset for my 2090. The telephone style handset of the 2090 is an ergonomic solution and the sound quality is good, but I thought I was loosing out on some of the audio. I considered the headphone options offered in the Barrett catalogue, but then went along to try out the headphones from Arlan Communications. They have rave reviews on eHam and I can say that I am not surprised about that.

Dave Bottom from Arlan Communications http://www.arlancommunications.com/  and Bradford Oliver from http://www.barrettusa.com/ made the connection between the RS22CF and my Barrett 2090 possible - charging me only for the material used without markup - no charge for the development cost. Dave even custom built a cable adaptor for the KPT connector in his machine shop, without extra charge. Bradford drove with a 2090 to Dave's shop, in order to test the 2090- RS22- headphone- microphone interaction, which led to additional optimization on the part of which microphone should be matched to the 2090. So much for the service - if there was a better word than "outstanding" then I'd use it.

What about the product quality?

RS22CF with all comfort options, with custom development of cabling solution with environmental connector to Barrett 2090:
Build quality: outstanding
Audio quality: outstanding (Bose, Sennheiser, you name it - are no match)
Custom connector cable assembly build quality: outstanding
Custom order turnaround time: outstanding
Comfort options: outstanding, sure worth the little extra investment, I can wear these headphones with glasses for hours and still feel totally comfortable. Never felt anything like it.
Customer service: outstanding
Price/Value relationship: outstanding. Do the math. Compare these to commercial grade pilot or studio headphones. Compare the audio quality. Wow.

Barrett 2090:
Post-sales customer care: outstanding. Bradford accompanied this project from beginning to end. You name the project - Bradford transforms it into reality. More about this on subsequent posts.
Audio quality of the 2090: "blows my socks off" with the RS22
Noise Reduction feature: now I am able to appreciate it fully. With the handset, voice seemed to muffled with low audio, with the headset - clear with excellent acoustic quality.
Audio Mute feature: even this feature is far better than appreciated with the handset. Now I can hear that the audio mute gradually fades out when other stations stop talking. Thought that the hands free speaker feature of your cell phone or home phone was great? Notice how it often cuts off the words of the speakers? The 2090 audio mute feature does not cut off the other stations voice, it response is immediate and very pleasant to listen to.

"You get what you pay for."

With these two fine HAMs and their products, you get much more. You will not regret the purchase of the RS22 or the 2090 if you appreciate quality and want to save money. Want to buy "cheap", then don't complain later about the (lack of) quality. Buy quality once - and you save more money than buying "cheap" twice or three times or...

Disclaimer: I have nothing to disclose; I have not received any benefits of any kind for this review.

Thank you Dave and Bradford.

vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM



Welcome to my amateur radio blog detailing my experience, in the hope that others may find some useful information for themselves. Please be advised that all contents of this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA. The information in this weblog is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my opinion. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please. Thank you. vy 73 de Marcus KD0JKM