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Ham Radio Now

The audio version of our TV programs for and about Amateur Radio (Ham Radio). The video version is hosted at www.HamRadioNow.tv (and, to be totally honest, on YouTube). Our shows come in three flavors: Talk Shows, Seminars/Forums, and mini-documentaries. Sorry for the mash-up, but any episode may be in one (or more) of those categories.
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Oct 16, 2017

SATERN's been busy. Well, so have all the EmComm services, but SATERN's in our spotlight for this episode. We're talking to Salvation Army National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist WB8BZH (pronounced "Feest" or "Feast").

Like most Amateur Radio EmComm groups, SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network), is going digital... slowly. We'll find out about that and lots more in this patented HamRadioNow In-Depth conversation. Bill reviews activity for the Eclipse, and back-to-back-to-back hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

And as nice as the Skype video is, this is another radio show. All talking heads (and a little web you can look up yourself), so a Radio Rating of A.

http://satern.org

Oct 4, 2017

I really wanted to call this something obscure, like The Wet Diamond Noise Blanker (you'll see why), but I restrained myself.

FlexRadio's Steve Hicks N5AC gives an illuminating talk on how SDR technology lets you detect signals that are 'below the noise level' - and how you might not even know what 'the noise level' really is.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Chris Petersen K9EQ digs into the capabilities and possibilities of Yaesu's System Fusion.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

David Bern W2LNX and his local club (the Montgomery MD ARC) cover all the bases in making new hams, with the help of the Laurel VEC.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Jon Poland N0WL reviews ways to keep track of just about everything in your ham radio life with tools on the Internet.

From the ARRL & TAPR 2017 Digital Communications Conference, Sept. 15-17, St. Louis, MO.

Oct 4, 2017

Before the DCC sessions get started, TAPR President Steve Bible N7HPR spends a few minutes welcoming everyone to this year's conference, giving the lay of the land (bathrooms, lunch) and introducing the people who help put on the event.

Listening to this session gives you a little more of the "DCC Experience." If you consider attending in person one year, you'll have a better idea of what to expect.

 For us, it's a chance to pitch our fundraising. The DCC videos are expensive to produce, and we pay for it with viewer (listener?) contributions. Here's how to 'click the pig' on audio: https://www.hamradionow.tv/contribute/

There will be 16 individual talks, each appearing as a HamRadioNow episode. We'll also have the Banquet talk from Saturday night, and the Sunday Seminar, a 'deep dive' into a single topic that takes four hours on Sunday morning. That usually appears as a three or four-part episode. 

That's about 20 episodes! It takes time to edit each talk. We usually produce two or three a week, and the fall holidays slow things down. It will take until December... maybe January, to get them all done.

Radio Rating? Always a problem with forums that are heavy on PowerPoint slides. Sometimes the slides are mostly text, and the presenter reads them and elaborates on the points. Sometimes there are pictures, graphs, formulas - stuff that doesn't translate well to speech. We don't want to have to analyze them that closely and carefully calculate the grade. Our cop-out is to give them all a Radio Rating of C. If we do remember well, we'll fine-tune the grade. This episode has some slides, but you don't miss much, so this one is upgraded to a B.

Oct 2, 2017

Did you know the Boy Scouts Jamboree on the Air has been around for 60 years? So that's why Old JOTA. But our panel of hams — Scout leaders from around the country — keep the discussion fresh.

Gary and David welcome Bill Stearns NE4RD, Brian McDaniel N4AE, Mike Crownover AD5A and Jim Wilson K5ND to the show to talk JOTA, the annual Scouting on-air event that's coming up October 20-22. 

If you or your club are interested in hosting a JOTA event, it's not too late to get involved (assuming you see this in early October). Here's a good place to start, but you'll have to dig a bit to volunteer: https://www.k2bsa.net/jota/. The guys give more tips during the show.

This show is (a lot of) talking heads, so the Radio Rating is A. If you want to know who's who in the graphic, the top row, left to right, is David, Mike and Brian, and the bottom row is Bill and Jim. 

 

Sep 30, 2017

Oh, geez, what to say about this 'episode.' In quotes.

This was just a Facebook Live session to let fans see how David W0DHG was progressing in his quest to duplicate Gary KN4AQ's ARVN Studio.

We would say this is hard to do, if Marty Sullaway KC1CWF, who busts in halfway through this episode, hadn't done it himself practically overnight. But that's the kind of thing that makes Marty the Newsline Young Ham of the Year (and our late friend Bill Pasternack WA6ITF should be in that title somewhere).

So there's a lot of screwing around, and a lot of reference to the video (really... shouldn't this all be just audio, and wouldn't it be a lot easier?), so a Radio Rating is hard to pinpoint. Somehow we continue this ramble for more than 90 minutes. And it really is just for diehard fans of the show. And it's here in the audio feed only because we've got the bandwidth here at the end of the month, and we don't hold anything back.

Sep 30, 2017

In Part THREE of the 2009 Hamvention SDR Forum, Scotty Cowling WA2DFI updates the state of the HPSDR Project. Then former ARRL President Joel Harrison W5ZN looks at SDR from the operator's perspective.

The HPSDR talk will probably be a little arcane.. ok, a lot arcane.. unless you're into that project. HPSDR was.. still is.. a set of boards that TAPR and HPSDR developed as kits that eventually built an SDR HF transciever. This was full direct sampling SDR before any manufacturer was doing it (years before). The boards included a receiver, transmitter, power supply, amp, audio I/O, control, a back plane, etc.

The system progressed over the course of almost a decade, and every year at TAPR forums and conferences, Scotty updated the progress until a whole radio was complete. Lots of slides with some text and some pictures of the boards. That part of the show gets a Radio Rating of C-, which you'll say is too generous if you're not into HPSDR, but you might say doesn't respect the historic nature of this forum if you are into it.

Joel's talk is more accessible to the 'average' ham. He's got some slides, too (text, charts), but for the audio listener, he gets a Radio Rating of B+.

Sep 30, 2017

In Part TWO of the 2009 Hamvention SDR Forum, FlexRadio's Gerald Youngblood K5SDR and Elecraft's Lyle Johnson KK7P square off on the two company's different approaches to implementing SDR.

At the time, neither Flex nor Elecraft did 'direct sampling' - they both used analog heterodyne stages and did their A/D conversion in the IF. The big difference was that the Elecraft radios looked like traditional ham equipment, with lots of knobs and buttons. The only Flex interface was a computer screen. Since then, of course, Flex has advanced to direct conversion, and added an option for a somewhat more traditional front panel. Elecraft has expanded their line of radios, but still uses analog conversion ahead of their SDR stage.

Both presentations have some useful slides, so the Radio Rating is B-.

Sep 30, 2017

Quickly trying to use-it-before-we-lose-it data quota with some archive material. Just couldn't get any of the DCC shows completed before the deadline.

This is Part ONE of an SDR Forum from the 2009 Hamvention®. Yes, there was SDR back in 2009. Michelle Thompton W5NYV will talk about the Microwave Engineering Project, and CQ's Doug Grant K1DG gives and early look at new rules for contesting that all the new capabilities of SDR necessitated. 

Michelle and Doug have only a few slides each, so this is a Radio Rating of B.

Sep 18, 2017

Jeri Ellsworth, co-founder of the Augmented Reality company castAR (among many, many other things) had added ham radio to her list of accomplishments. She's now AI6TK. We spotted her at the Dayton Hamvention this year (AmateurLogic TV snagged the interview).

And she just attended the ARRL/TAPR DCC in St. Louis with her friend Amy Herndon KM6FZE. Over the past year, Jeri and Amy have jumped into ham radio with both feet, but even for these technically accomplished women, ham radio had a steep learning curve. We'll talk about that and lots more in this quick hour.

This is a sit-down, talking heads conversation, and while those heads are interesting to watch, you'll get 97% out of just the audio, so we award a Radio Rating of A. (YouTube?... YouTube?... we don't need no stinkin' YouTube...)

Aug 25, 2017

WARNING: Radio Rating — D minus...

Yeah, sorry... this show is all about the Eclipse. There's barely any ham radio in it, and the video is really important.

On the other hand, we will say that pictures of the total eclipse don't do it justice, so maybe you're better off with just the audio. 

Gary KN4AQ, Jeff AC4ZO and Bobbie KD4ZVW traveled to Wyoming for the best potential of clear skies to view the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. They were not disappointed.

Thanks to Frank NF9H and KC KC9MTL, we found a site that was ideal. We also touristed around the Denver area, visited Pikes Peak, the HRO store in Denver, a hamfest, WWV, the Red Rocks Amphitheater, and a super kite shop (very little of which you'll see in Gary's highly edited video).

The centerpiece of this show is video Gary shot of... not the eclipse (though some of that is there - you see it in the poster for this episode)... but the ground, the people reacting and the area going dark. You'll only hear that in the audio. Then you'll hear Gary's reaction. And maybe that's enough. 

Aug 12, 2017

The Amateur Radio Parity Act drew plenty of critics in its original form (HR 1301, the early days) from hams who thought the government shouldn't stick its nose into private contracts. After the ARRL and the CAI (Community Associations Institute) arrived at compromise language, the US House of Representatives was happy (and passed it), but ham critics accused the ARRL of 'selling out'.

More recently, several hams who are also lawyers crafted their own, considerably more thoughtful arguments about to why the compromise bill (now HR-555 and S-1534) are not good for Amateur Radio.

Two of them, former FCC attorney Jim Talens N3JT, and well-known antenna law attorney, author (and contester) Fred Hopengarten K1VR, join David and Gary to make their case. 

If you want an explanation of what's in the Bill, pre- and post-compromise, check out HamRadioNow Episode 259 (Click-bait titled PokeHAM GOta).  If you want to be able to read along, the video is on YouTube. The link will take you to the spot Gary starts his review.

This episode also has some text of the bills, but we're pretty careful to read everything out loud. So we'll give it a Radio Rating of B+. 

Aug 7, 2017

Last time on HamRadioNow... David and Gary wondered if there was an ARES mission with the coming Total Eclipse. Something about millions of people cramming into a 70-mile wide swath of darkness, overloading the highways and cell systems, and taxing emergency services. So yeah, maybe there was. But we hadn't heard much about it. Just Propagation studies and QSO parties.

Well, watching that show were Don and Betsy Reid, W7DMR and K7BTS. Don is EC for Benton County OR ARES, and Betsy is his AEC. And they were already making plans with their ARES group to be on the air from the county EOC, running a net. 

So in this show we'll get the details. We'll also talk to the HamKid, Sam Reynolds KM4WDK. Sam and his family are planning to drive down to South Carolina from their home in Charlotte. Sam was a good foil for our concerns that, while there will be ARES activity in many areas (and especially in South Carolina), it's hard for hams who may be traveling to those areas to learn about them.

OK, we'll stop doing the whole show here in the cliff notes and let you listen. Especially since this talker gets a Radio Rating of A. That one pesky map keeps it from getting an A+.

Aug 4, 2017

All the chatter about Amateur Radio and the Eclipse (coming August 21 to a sky near you, if you're in the USA...) has been about propagation. What effect will the eclipse have on the bands?

But major HRN fan Mark Cartwright noted that one county in Idaho had declared Eclipse Day to be a State of Emergency

Think about it. The path of totality is about 70 miles wide, stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic in South Carolina. Most of it is in very rural territory, and a few small to medium size cities are right in the middle. Millions of people are expected to flock to that zone. In any given county, it could be tens to hundreds of thousands, depending on expected viewing conditions.

It turns out that emergency management in most areas have been preparing for months. The State of Emergency may (or may not) be a bit too much, but at a minimum, EM is expecting gridlock on most major arteries in the zone. So are astronomers who have experienced total eclipses before.

While an eclipse isn't a 'natural disaster', and won't wipe out communications (maybe a little on HF), that many people in rural territory will certainly overload the cell system.

Does Amateur Radio have a role? And are ARES groups stepping up to fill it?

This show began as an off-line Skype discussion between hosts Gary KN4AQ and David W0DHG. At some point, David said 'this ought to be a show', and Gary pushed the Facebook Live button. 

We'll probably do another show after we've rounded up a few ECs, etc. in the zone to talk to about what they're planning.

Gary shows some maps of the path of totality. You can see it here:

http://www.eclipse2017.org/xavier_redirect.htm

But mostly it's a discussion. So an accidental Radio Rating of A.

Toward the end of the show, they go off-topic, and Gary discusses the 'Future of HRN'. Spoiler alert: Gary says that view counts and downloads do not justify doing the show. Only the level of fan contributions make it worth doing (and that's at the 'just barely' level).  So while this 'show-not a show' rambles and ambles a bit (typical, really), you might want to stick around to the end.

Aug 1, 2017

Early this morning, Tropical Storm Emily spun up in the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at Tampa FL and a path across the state in just a few hours.

It wasn't expected to do more than rain a lot. But ya gotta be prepared, right? Just in case?

So we talked to Darrell David KT4WX, the ARRL Section Manager for West Central Florida. And he told us. The short answer is "Stand By". The longer answer is... this show. 

This is talking heads. Darrell isn't even on video - he's on the phone. You'll miss a few web sites and radar of the rain (see the episode picture, available on some of these fine podcast apps). And you'll miss Gary trying to reorient a couple of cameras that he was too rushed to reset from the Fix It! Volume 2 show, so that's fun. But we're pleased to bestow a Radio Rating of A. 

Aug 1, 2017

Back in HRN 335: Fix It! with AC4ZO Jeff and Gary reviewed a fix of Gary's Icom 7000's optical encoder, and then looked briefly at a new (maybe) problem that surfaced — a hollow 'ping' and ringing in the transmit audio. And in that episode, we noted that swap and replace is one of the most effective (speed, if not cost) troubleshooting techniques. 

So that's just what we did. Gary borrowed another 7000 and played with all the settings that made (or mitigated) that tin-can sound.

What happened? Or rather and you won't believe what happened next! 

You will quickly notice that this episode audio is entirely SSB. Awesome, right? And really, this is barely an episode. But corporate policy is to put an episode number on everything. Gary sneezes, it's an episode. That's how we keep ahead of Ham Nation.

RADIO RATING? Well, the video shows the radio display and menus a lot. Maybe not critical for understanding what Gary's doing (he describes them most of the time). But enough to pull the RadioRating down to B-.

Jul 26, 2017

[This is Episode 337, not 397 as Gary says at the top of the show... twice]

Bill Morine N2COP, the ARRL Roanoke Division Vice Director (and friend of the show) dropped in on the national Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia this week to bestow an award on the Scouts from the League. Bill is a long-time Scout leader himself, and a decade ago was a volunteer at the K2BSA station at the Jamboree back when it was held on an Army base in Virginia.

So David Goldenberg W0DHG, himself a Scout leader, and Gary Pearce KN4AQ (a former Cub Scout) talked to Bill about the Jamboree and ham radio's place in the grand scheme of the event. 

Toward the end of the show, we put Bill back in Vice-Director mode and talked about Field Day, the Parity Act, and Media & PR at the League.

We've got the usual bunch of web pictures and a little video from the K2BSA Facebook page, so this isn't a total talking heads show, but mostly it is. So we'll issue a Radio Rating of B. It should get you through your commute - both ways unless you're in NYC, DC or LA. Or maybe Chicago.

Jul 24, 2017

Marty (Chicken With Fries) is back from camp, and having been deprived of all technology for weeks (a Luddite camp requirement), he's itching to record an episode of The Phasing Line Podcast. His partner in crime, Sterling Coffey N0SSC, isn't available (apparently), so he turns to old, reliable KN4AQ (emphasis on old). 

So this is a Phasing Line show, not a HamRadioNow show. And maybe it gets a little rambling (even for us! And strike the 'maybe'. Really, it falls apart). We're joined toward the end by HRN's David Goldenberg W0DHG and Ham Talk Live's Neil Rapp WB9VPG, and, um, that really doesn't help with the focus. 

But hey, content is content, and some of you may have a low entertainment threshold, so here it is. And given Marty's track record with co-produced shows not ending up on TPLP, this may be the only place you hear it.

Now the Phasing Line Podcast is an audio show. So as it appears here on the HRN channel, that seems to require an automatic Radio Rating of A+. I mean, there shouldn't even be any pictures. But there are, because it went through the ARVN Studios and onto Facebook Live. The only really worthwhile pictures are from Marty's Field Day site. At least we're aware that you won't be seeing them unless you go to the video on HRN. Marty may put some on the PL web site. Which, BTW, is http://phasinglinepodcast.com

 

Jul 22, 2017

This was not supposed to be an Episode.

It was just supposed to be a quick test on Facebook Live, checking out the work I'd done in Wirecast to be able to add titles to the video 'live' as I'm recording the show, rather than later in 'post production' (editing). We're tending to do most shows on Facebook Live as we record them, so we needed a title upgrade.

But I'm a wind-up toy. Put me in front of a mic and camera, and I perform. The 'test' ran over 20 minutes, and one of the clever viewers on Facebook said it should be a show. So it is. 

The title of this show, Episode Name, came from the 'generic' title I'd built as a placeholder so I could just fill in the title of whatever episode I'd be doing. I was planning ahead... just not for this to be a real episode. And it's still open to debate over whether or not it is a real episode. But at least the placeholder had the 'correct' episode number (336), if not a real date. And if you do see the picture in your app, look carefully and you'll notice that there is no drop shadow around the 'Episode Name' title. Wirecast's title maker keeps unclicking the shadow button. Eventually it seems to stick. 

Now the key word here is video. Except for the picture that some of you see in your podcast app, the titles don't mean squat to you audio listeners. But I don't want you to feel left out. And in an earlier show I wrote that an episode would get a Radio Rating of F only if there was no sound at all. And I am talking here. And there are even a few sound effects. So this is a solid Radio Rating of D.

Scared you there with that bold F, didn't I?

- Gary KN4AQ

Jul 19, 2017

Co-co-hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Jeff Wittich AC4ZO join Gary to talk about troubleshooting techniques, centered on a problem Gary had with his ICOM 7000 mobile HF/VHF/UHF transceiver. And toward the end, David recounts an ARES drill that dovetailed with a real activation.

Radio Rating? Well, this is a studio show, with Gary's new 3-way split-screen. But Gary set up a working radio in front of Jeff, and took a bunch of still pictures detailing the repair, and you kind of need to see them to really understand what they're talking about. The pictures are on the HamRadioNow web site, so maybe that'll help.

But that's maybe 30% of the show, leaving you 70% that you'll get fine by audio. Still, we'd feel a little dishonest with a Radio Rating grater than C. Not even C+. We'd like to, but we gotta sleep tonight. 

Jul 12, 2017

Gary joined NC Section Manager Karl Bowman W4CHX for a tour of 10 Field Day operations in western North Carolina. In between the site visits, they operated as 1C mobile

This show is basically a video documentary... a television show. So how much can you get from just the audio? Well, maybe more than you (we?) think. Theater of the mind? We were going to ding this show with a really low Radio Rating because of how long it too to edit the video, but after listening to a lot of it, you know, it's not such a bad radio show. So the Radio Rating is B-. Couldn't see our way clear to a solid B.

Jul 8, 2017

Sam Reynolds KM4WDK is The HamKid.

The what now? Who says?

Well, he does, based on producing a couple of episodes of his new YouTube show The HamKidbeing a ham, and being... well, a kid. Sam is 13, but he was licensed almost a year ago, when he was 12.

We'll talk about how he got into ham radio and YouTubing (is that technically podcasting?), scouting and stuff. And Gary will demo a side-by-side comparison of his PR-40 that a much cheaper Audio Technica mic, the ATR-2100 that all the podcasters are flocking to (at least those who don't have $350 to spend on a Heil mic). 

As a Skype show, there's not a lot to see besides our smiling faces. Radio Rating: A.

Jul 2, 2017

SNARS is the Sierra Nevada Amateur Radio Society, and literally yesterday (as I type this) their President, Tony Marcin W7XM, invited us to speak via Skype at their next meeting. Well, the next meeting was today, and while Tony was really thinking about some future date, this meeting happened to be open, so David and I jumped on it.

Of course we recorded it, and put it on Facebook live, and here it is! 

I present a lot of my history leading up to creating ARVN and then HamRadioNow, and David describes how he got involved in the program. Then I talk a little about the 'new media' landscape, and we take a few questions from the audience.

We've done the 'origin' story before, but hell, Spider-Man has done what... three of them? Maybe I cover something new. In any case, it's 99% talking heads, so the Radio Rating is 'A'.

And thanks for inviting us, SNARS!

Links:

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