Amateur Radio Station N8OIF
Hamvention 2008 Info/Update
Hamvention 2007 Info/Update
Field Day 2007
Amateur Radio - Sights and Sounds
Check out my second amateur radio page at http://www.n8oif.net/amateur2.html
One of my main interests is amateur radio. My callsign is N8OIF and I currently hold the
Amateur Extra license (see license grant on the FCC's website). I recently upgraded from the Technician class (see below). If you are ever monitoring the ham bands and hear a callsign, and
would like to know where that person is most likely located, then try the Universal
Licensing System database (for U.S. "hams") on the Federal
Communications Commission's website. That database is the definitive source for data on U.S. amateur radio operators.
I have been licensed as a "ham" for about 16 years. I passed my initial Technician Class written exam in March of 1991. Back in 1991, paperwork was forwarded to the FCC by mail and processed by hand. I had to wait about six or seven weeks for my license to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, I could not talk on a radio that I had already purchased: a Kenwood TH-77A dual band handie-talkie. In the past 15 years I have dabbled in many different aspects of amateur radio, but I have primarily stuck with the 2-meter and 70-cm bands and have mainly used FM. I have participated in a few Field Day events, have attended most of the Dayton Hamventions in that time, and have helped out local clubs with public service events. I have also experimented with different modes such as slow-scan TV (SSTV; visit the Central Ohio SSTV Net page) and satellite communications. My first exposure to satellite communications was in the late spring of 2005. Using a dual band handie-talkie (HT) running five watts output power and a two-band Yagi antenna made by Arrow Antennas, I was able to make a contact through an amateur radio satellite that measures 25-cm by 25-cm by 25-cm. This satellites perigee (or altitude at closest approach) is 696 kilometers or about 435 miles. Here's a video of a contact made at the 2006 Dayton Hamvention with a satellite known as VO-52. [UPDATE: The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Report and Order that eliminates the Morse Code testing requirement. This change will likely take effect on February 23, 2007. It looks like I can finally upgrade to Amateur Extra Class. I'm sorry to the diehard CWers out there, but I had great difficulty in learning the code. I guess that I have never understood why people needed to demonstrate Morse Code proficiency in order to upgrade. Why not packet radio? Why not SSTV? I still think CW has its place and people who enjoy using that mode should not be deprived of that mode (and they aren't). I still have some incentive to learn the code. Eventually, I want to build a microwave station. I know that for low-power or long-distance microwave contacts, CW will work when SSB won't (it will be buried in the noise).]
UPDATE: On February 24, 2007, I did successfully upgrade to Amateur Extra class. It will take a couple of weeks for my new FCC license certificate to arrive in the mail and for the new license grant to appear in the ULS database, but in the meantime, I can use my new privileges by identifying myself as "N8OIF/AE" on the new bands. Here's my Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination from the Saturday test session.
I am planning to expand my satellite station somewhat by getting active on more bands. This will probably require me to buy more radios and more antennas. I am also hopeful that I can get on the HF bands at some point.
I am a member of the following ham radio related organizations, or clubs:
- AMSAT (The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation): This organization designs, builds, and operates experimental satellites used for amateur radio communications.
- American Radio Relay League (ARRL): This is a very large organization in the U.S. that promotes amateur radio. Its website is vast.
- Capital City
Repeater Association (CCRA): an amateur radio club in central
Ohio. I hold the office of Secretary in this club.
- Central Ohio
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (COARES): an amateur radio club in central Ohio devoted to public service and emergency communications. I record their weekly
on-the-air nets, encode them to MP3 formats, and post them to their website. Short video clips from the
2002 COARES/Voice of Aladdin Field Day: Quicktime format and Flash format (as I have
evaluated Flash Professional 8 and recently purchased Adobe/Macromedia's Studio 8).
- Dayton Amateur Radio Association: a club in Dayton, Ohio. Also, one of the few clubs that I am familiar with that has a clubhouse for meetings (board meetings, mainly) and getting on the air. This group also sponsors the Dayton Hamvention, the largest amateur radio convention and flea market in the world. By the way, here is a short video clip of the Yaesu FT-897 HF/VHF/UHF radio; here is a clip for the VX-7R; and here is a clip of the Icom ID-1 D-STAR/FM radio. All three radios debuted at the 2002 Hamvention. The FT-897's successor, the FT-897D, is on my short list of radio purchases. The difference between the original FT-897 and the "D" version is that the "D" version adds the 60-meter SSB channels, and has a 0.5 ppm TCXO crystal unit.
- Central Ohio Radio Club: This is a amateur club in Columbus, Ohio that primarily concentrates on repeater communications. They own and operate a high-profile repeater on 146.76 MHz that is used during severe weather for spotting.
- Midwest VHF/UHF Society: This is a society of hams that share the common interest of the high amateur radio frequencies, including VHF, UHF, microwave, and light.
- North Texas Microwave Society: I just joined this group and I guess that I won't be attending any of their meetings since I live in Columbus, Ohio. As their name suggests they concentrate on the amateur radio bands at 902 MHz and higher. Since I have a desire to start operating on the 1296 MHz, 2304 MHz, 10 GHz, and 24 GHz bands, I thought it made sense to join such a group so that I could learn as much as possible.
- QRP Amateur Radio Club International: QRP operation by definition is low-power operation. Traditionally, it has meant a transmitting power of five watts or less.
- Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR): despite its name, this organization has members from all over the U.S. This group specializes in digital communications, spread spectrum, software-defined radios and other cutting-edge modes.
- West Central Ohio
Amateur Radio Association (WCOARA): A club in the Dayton, Ohio area. I have posted video clips from the 2003 (17
min.) and 2005 (7 min.) Field Days.
And, also pictures from the same Field Day (also pictures from the 1999, 2004, and 2006 Field Days). Broadband connection
recommended; Windows Media Video format.
Amateur radio projects:
WAP-based callsign server for
U.S. and Canadian callsigns. I am also considering building a
web service around this
callsign lookup that others can use in their applications or web pages. UPDATE: The Canadian callsign server is up. Actually, the WAP-based callsign server is on RAC's website (Radio Amateurs of Canada). Point your WAP browser to http://www.hedman.ca/cgi-bin/cs . Another UPDATE: My U.S. callsign server won't be the first. I discovered that KC8KOD had already developed one (this callsign server no longer exists). I'm going to continue to work on mine. I download the data straight from the FCC's ULS Database page. I've successfully imported the data that I need into an Access database and FTP'ed that to this website. Now I am figuring out how to apply Microsoft's ASP.Net and ADO.Net technology to display the data on my WAP web page at http://www.n8oif.net/Callsign/N8OIFWAP.aspx or http://wap.n8oif.net (WAP browser required). The first page, by the way, will display in a regular browser as well, due to ASP.Net's Mobile Controls that generate WML, HTML, or XHTML, on the fly based on the type of browser that makes the request.
- getting active again in packet radio and APRS. I have purchased a Kantronics KPC-9612+ to replace my rather old Kantronics All Mode (KAM). The Kantronics KPC-9612+ can perform 9600 and 1200 baud packet. However, unlike the KAM, the 9612+ cannot perform other digital modes such as RTTY, AMTOR, BAUDOT,or ASCII. For these modes, plus many newer digital modes I plan to use my laptop computer's sound card with my West Mountain Radio Rigblaster Plug-n-Play. I have also recently purchased a new Kenwood TH-D7A(G) HT, to replace one that I had that developed a problem.
- obtaining a antenna and downconverter for the 2.4 GHz amateur band. One of the newer amateur radio satellites, AO-51, operates from time to time in a mode that transmits on 2.4 GHz down to earth. K5GNA offers such an antenna and downconverter.
- Ensuring that my base station, a Kenwood TS-2000X, can operate for a period of time when commercial power is not available. I have completed this project. I am using a West Mountain Radio RigRunner, and a PwrGate, along with a 12V 79Ah sealed lead acid battery.
- Working with digital voice on the VHF or UHF bands. To this end, I recently acquired the Icom IC-91AD 2m/70cm FM/DV handie-talkie.
- Building a Yagi antenna for the 1296-MHz band. QST had an article about constructing this antenna around the June of 2006 timeframe.
- Purchase a transverter for the 1.35 meter (222-MHz) band. A transverter is a combination upconverter and downconverter that relies on another radio to provide the intermediate frequency. Basically, it will allow my existing Kenwood TS-2000X to operate on one of the bands that it can't normally access. Down East Microwave manufacturers transverters for most of the VHF, UHF, and SHF bands.
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