Two classes, 21 new hams

My last two Saturdays were once again taken up teaching one-day Tech classes. On Saturday, September 30, I had 19 students in Room 1200 of the EECS Building on the University of Michigan’s North Campus. I really love teaching at U-M, and this class was no exception.

Of the 19, three failed the test. Two of the three who failed were teenagers, and neither of those two studied before attending the class. That being the case, I’m going to claim a pass rate of 16/17 or 94%. The other person who failed the test did so by only one question, and I’m sure that she’ll get her license eventually.

All of the others were assigned their call signs yesterday. They include:

  • Joseph, KC1IGN
  • Justin, KC1IGO
  • Daniel, KD2OHT
  • Justin, KD2OHT
  • Christopher, KE8HXL
  • Steve, KE8HXM
  • Don, KE8HXN
  • Jinto, KE8HXO
  • Kelly, KE8HXP
  • Thomas, KE8HXQ
  • Greg, KE8HXR
  • Brian, KE8HXS
  • Joseph, KE8HXT
  • Vishal, KE8HXU
  • Christopher, KE8HXV
  • Simon, KE8HXW

On Saturday, October 7, there were seven in my class at the first annual HamCon at the Michigan International Speedway. This photo was taken just before the VE test session, which included anyone else that wanted to take an exam. (Sorry for the poor quality of this photo. I took it in a hurry just before I left.)

The class last Saturday was held in the Media Center at the Michigan International Speedway, home to the first annual Great Lakes HamCon. As you can see from the picture above, the room was huge. There are seats for more than 100 press people, who jam the room when there’s a NASCAR race at the track.

I had nowhere near 100 students. Only seven were in the class, including two teenagers. Unfortunately neither of the young people passed. I always warn the parents or grandparents that the one-day format is tough for kids, but they persist on bringing them to the class. Fortunately, the five adults that were in the class all passed, so I’m going to claim a 100% pass rate.

Disappointing attendance

Overall, HamCon was somewhat of a disappointment. While the organizers say that there were more than 1,000 attendees on Saturday, there were fewer sellers than there were at the Findlay hamfest a couple of weeks ago. On Sunday, there were fewer than ten sellers in the entire flea market. I would have been REALLY disappointed if I had paid for admission, but since I taught the class, and also gave a talk on CW Sunday morning, I was given free admission.

Despite the disappointing attendance, plans have already begun for next year. I’ll be back again next year because I’d really like to see this event take off.

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Are digital modes the future of HF?

My friend, and fellow ham radio blogger, Jeff, KE9V, recently wrote about the latest digital mode, FT-8. Since its introduction this summer, it has become very popular. Part of the reason for this is that it offers many of the advantages of JT65 and JT9, but contacts are four times faster.

FT-8 on a waterfall display. Photo: Koos van den Hout

Jeff’s blog post, “Look No Further Than the Waterfall,” describes how he—a die-hard CW man—has become enchanted with the mode and how it’s opened his eyes to a part of the hobby he hadn’t really been aware of. As the title implies, you only have to look at a waterfall display to see how popular digital modes have become. Not only that, Jeff notes, “A high percentage of these [FT-8 operators] are younger than average operators and many of them also happen to be relative newcomers to hobby radio.”

One of the reasons for this popularity is obvious. You don’t need crazy big antennas to operate FT-8 on HF. FT-8 allows you to make contacts with very weak signals. W6LG has even made FT-8 contacts, using two light bulbs for an antenna.

While I can appreciate the cool technology behind this, and I can see myself playing around with this a little, I can’t see myself becoming an avid FT-8 operator. It’s just too impersonal. That’s the same reason I’m not an avid contester. Contests are fun to play around with once in a while, but I’m definitely not an every weekend contester.

What I think would be cool is for this technology to somehow allow more information exchange than just IDs and signal reports. Might this be possible? If it was possible, what kind of information could be exchanged? Does it even make sense to suggest this? If you’ve been working FT-8, I’d love to hear your opinions on this.

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FCC Affirms Huge Fine in New York Interference Case

ARRL — The FCC has affirmed a huge fine of more than $400,000 on Jay Peralta, a Queens, New York, man who has admitted to making unauthorized transmissions on New York City Police Department (NYPD) radio frequencies, maliciously interfering with officers’ communications. The FCC had sent Peralta a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) last April 14. Peralta, 20, is alleged to have transmitted false bomb …

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QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party this weekend



2017 QRP-ARCI(sm) Fall QSO Party

Date/Time:
1200Z on 14 October 2017 through 2400Z on 15 October 2017. You may work a maximum of 24 hours of the 36 hour period.

Mode: HF CW only.

Exchange:
Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number
Non-Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points:
Member = 5 points
Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points
Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

Multiplier:
SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands. The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier:
>5 Watts = x1
>1 – 5 Watts = x7
>250 mW – 1 Watt = x10
>55 mW – 250 mW = x15
55 mW or less = x20

Suggested Frequencies:
160m1810 kHz
80m3560 kHz
40m7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants)
20m14060 kHz
15m 21060 kHz
10m28060 kHz

Score:
Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier.

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.

Categories:
Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate:
Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies. Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself! You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission:
Submit your entry online at http://ift.tt/2nSZpB8 >
Contest logs are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.

Deadline: Entries must be postmarked on or before 29 October 2017.

Results: Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website along with qrpcontest.com

Certificates: Will be awarded to the Top 10 Scoring Entrants.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

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