Thursday, April 19, 2012

Simple Antennas for the Hawaii Island Amateur Radio Operator-a continuing series

Those of us forced to use compromise antennas brought on by limited real estate, restrictive CCRs, and HOA (home owner associations) may have another way to enjoy amateur radio without worrying about the neighbors.  The May 2012 edition of "QST" has several interesting articles about HF digital operations.  I was most interested in an article by Steve Ford, WB8IMY, called "Who's on JT65?"  Despite its limitations, this mode for moonbounce communication developed by Dr. Joe Taylor, K1JT, is becoming more popular as the year rolls on.  Ford says, "the key to JT65's burgeoning popularity is found in the fact that you can use it to make contacts over great distances with a few watts and just about any antenna.  As you can imagine, hams confined to indoor operating have embraced JT65 with a passion."  Ford goes on to describe the experiences of Ron Kolarik, K0IDT, and Sergey Kohno, UR3CTB, in Ukraine as models of what this mode can do.  There are limitations.  Unlike PSK31, you can't enjoy conversation with JT65.  The exchanges are limited to call signs, signal reports, and grid squares--perfect for the DX chaser or moonbounce enthusiast.  Operators take turns on even and odd minutes, and it takes about 5 minutes to complete a contact.  Although I've not tried this mode, it sounds fascinating and doesn't require a lot of power or a super efficient antenna.

Steve Ford, WB8IMY, also contributed another article called "RemoteShack RBC-212 Remote Station Controller."  Ford describes how the device can allow hams in poor locations to operate remotely with a high speed computer connection.  When I was working at a commercial radio station in Hilo, Hawaii our engineers used a similar system to remotely monitor transmitter performance across Hawaii Island.  Now, it appears that Radio Shack has developed a device that can control your remote transmiter over the telephone, radio, or the Internet.  Ford says, "as long as you have a telephone, a transceiver with a DTMF keypad, or a laptop and Skype or similar software with DTMF capability, you can control your radio anywhere with RemoteShack."  Although the unit is expensive (almost $575), it may provide a viable alternative for those unable to operate their transceiver from their home.

The May 2012 edition of "QST" also has a nice summary of the recent WRC-12 conference.  The results for amateur radio were positive--a new MF allocation of 472-479 kHz for the amateur service required a lot of work, years of research, and the coopertion of many governments. In the United States, the band won't be released for amateur use until at least 2013.  The FCC will need some time to create the necessary rules and regulations for this portion of the spectrum.  None the less, this slice of the spectrum should spur experimentation in hardware, software, and antennas.  Apparently, Elecraft is already in the game, with the K3 capable of generating weak signals in that band.  Look for more equipment and applications in the year ahead.

Despite amateur radio's success in WRC-12, there are many challenges before us.  WRC-15 preparation is already underway with several agenda items making the "hot list."  These include mobile broadband allocations, possible expansion of amateur service in the 5 MHz (60 meter) band, additional fixed-satellite allocations for Region 1 between 10 and 17 GHz, and a possible primary allocation to the radio-location service for automobile applications at 77.5 to 78.0 GHz.  As amateur radio operators, we must keep abreast of developments that would affect our use of the limited electromagnetic spectrum.  One way to keep informed is to subscribe to the journal of your country's amateur radio community and to follow sites such as QRZ.com and eham.net.  Vigilance, knowledge, and public service will keep amateur radio a vital component of our society.

Have a good weekend!

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM, Laupahoehoe, Hawaii, BK29jx15