Thursday, April 28, 2011

Monitoring Solar Cycle 24

Now that solar cycle 24 is definitely underway, it's good to be able to monitor what the sun is doing since as hams, it dramatically affects our ability to communicate. I've used for a long time as a site that I can go to for a quick overview of what's going on, but for more in-depth information I'll stop by (aka Kevin, VE3EN put this site together in 2006 to track the status of the then-upcoming solar cycle 24, and he's kept improving it since then. On that site, there's information about the current solar conditions (flux, sunspots, flares, etc.), historical data (such as the chart I've included in this post), solar images, and a message board where there are some fascinating discussions, many by recognized experts in their field. Kevin's even built a version of his site that's perfect for viewing on mobile devices, so you can view it while on the go.

Kevin's been funding this site primarily on his own since it's inception, although he does have a way to make a donation if you so choose. He's been very low-key about this, but on a recent visit, I saw that he's got an impossible-to-miss banner up on his website asking for help. Apparently his full-time job has been "off-shored" and he's not sure that he'll be able to keep the site available. If you click on that link it will explain the situation more fully. I have no interest in this site other than as a visitor, but if you find it useful, you might want to consider making a donation to help keep the site (and Kevin) going.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

More silly things heard on the radio

This is a follow-on post to my recent post "Weird things heard on the radio". If this keeps up, perhaps I'll make this a series, though I'm not sure that "weird" is quite the right word. Silly is more like it, and I've adjusted the title of this post accordingly.

As I write this at about 18:30 GMT on 23 April,  I am attempting to work 9M2TO from West Malasia on 17m phone. He's got a good-sized pileup and of course, there's the usual guys who can't figure out how to turn their VFO to tune up their amplifier off the frequency. For non-hams who might be reading, this sounds like a high-pitched squeal on the frequency, and is pretty annoying. Aside from it being rude, it's in violation of FCC rules against intentionally interfering with ongoing transmissions. (I'm sure that it's against the rules for amateur radio operators in any country, of course.) That's not the silly part, that's the annoying part.

Here's the silly part: As usual, the DX Cops are present, and one of them said the following: "Hey, don't tune up on the frequency". Some of you will immediately know why this is silly, but I'll elaborate: Under normal circumstances, when you are transmitting you are not receiving. Aside from the fact that the guy who was tuning up likely doesn't care what anyone else thinks, he's not going to hear the guy yelling at him. All it does to yell is to add to the noise, which is as bad as the guy tuning up.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Passover, Morse Code Style

For my friends celebrating Passover, here are the four questions in CW. First the "intro" question:

And the other four questions, a bit faster (so you can get on with the seder):

Text to Morse translation courtesy of Learn CW Online. The first part is at 20 wpm, the main four questions are at 50 wpm. (And no, I can't decode that by ear either.)

Happy Passover!

The player embedded here requires HTML 5, which means you'll need a pretty recent browser. If you don't have one, you can right-click and save the intro and the questions.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Follow-up from Brian, KP2HC

Last night, Brian, KP2HC, left a comment on my original post about the passing of his wife Ann, KP2YL. Because many of you might not see it otherwise, I wanted to provide a direct link to that original post where you can now read Brian's remarks: Ann, KP2YL, SK. I was very touched that Brian posted such a wonderful message about Ann, and I wanted to make sure that as many people saw it as possible. Please spread the word so that others might see it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ann, KP2YL, SK

I very rarely post "news" items, but I received the following email from Steve, KF2TI via the DX-News reflector and wanted to repost it here. I'd met Ann and Brian several times at NJDXA meetings and of course had worked Ann many, many times. She will be missed.

One of the greatest things about being in The 3 Steve's ARC was going to ST Croix to visit our dear friends, Brian (KP2HC) and Ann (The Queen of DX) KP2YL and to use their station and actually be DX.  Not only were we busy working stations, but I got over my fear of flying..something Ann never let me forget
Many a time, while working HUGE pile-ups on 80M, I could throw my call out and she would spend a few minutes with me on the air, then right back to the pile-ups.
Ann and Brian are responsible for many new band countries for St Croix for so many
It is with that in mind that I pass along the sad news that Ann, passed away quietly, in the company of her friend and husband, on the island that they both loved, this morning
Brian has asked that you keep Ann and him in your thoughts and to give him some time before you email or call.
I speak for the all 3 Steve's when I say that a small part of us passed this day as well
As it is said, may her memory be a blessing