QRZ Logbook

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WWV discontinuing solar activity alerts

Via the ARRL:

Beginning Tuesday, September 6, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) will cease broadcasting its geophysical alert message on WWV and WWVH. These messages inform listeners of the solar flux, the mid-latitude A and K indices and space weather storms, both current and predicted. Currently, the message is heard on minute 18 from WWV and minute 45 from WWVH. The information will still be available on the SWPC website. If you care to comment on this, or if you have any questions, the SPWC -- part of the National Weather Service (NWS) -- would like to hear from you.

Stormchase 4/25/11

On my way home tonight I ran into a severe thunderstorm moving in from the south. As I continued to watch it develop the winds really kicked up and I observed the formation in the video below (WARNING - turn volume down, the wind was blasting the mic of my cell phone):

The formation did not rotate, but it did have an updraft (you might see it in the closeup at the 31 second mark) which made it very hard to judge what I was watching for a few moments.

It was a few tense moments, but it did not turn cyclonic.

Just after I stopped filming the hail started, fortunately no bigger than pea-sized.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Postcard/QSL card request

I'm looking for QSL and postcards from across the country!!!

I did this a couple of years ago when Lauren was in 3rd Grade but I didn't post it on here. Now, my younger daughter Amber is in 3rd Grade and they're asking for postcards from across the country. I'd like to ask my ham aficionados (and anyone else who catches this) to send postcards or QSL cards from their state.

This "postcard race" is going on for the next couple of weeks, and they accepted QSL cards as postcards then, and they will now!

List some "fun fact" about the state on the back of the card and the card will be added to a map they use and they'll mark off the state the card is from.

Send the QSL/Postcard to the following address, and please let me know!

Ms. Pipkin, 3rd Grade
c/o Amherst Elementary School
5101 Schaad Rd
Knoxville, TN 37931

E-mail me at gregk4hsm at gmail dot com and let me know it's on its way so I can have my daughter look for it in the morning mail!

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


As a ham we've all at some point heard and used WWV and WWVH for setting our clocks, guessing propagation, and getting solar info. There are even non-hams that use WWV without realizing it. They may have a self-setting clock that will listed for the time signal at least once a day and set their clock. And chances are your computer goes out to the NIST website and auto-set's your clock (if you're on XP and above, or OS X).

Right now they're conducting a survey online that might be beneficial to all of us hams out there.

Help make WWV and WWVH a little better by filling out the survey today!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fireball crosses the Tennessee skies Wednesday

Last Wednesday, while talking to my Stepmom on the phone, I saw a meteor streak across the sky off to the West, going from South to North. It was slow moving, not like your typical skimmers and streakers that go across the sky. I actually thought it was space junk re-entering.

According to Spaceweather.com, it looks like that meteor may have actually landed!

I guessed that it might have either burned up or landed around the Jamestown/Crossville area, or north of there. Due to partial cloud cover it disappeared behind the clouds before I could determine if it was disintegrated or if it continued on to the north.

Judging by some reports coming in, it may have continued on towards Louisville, KY (I was in Cave City last summer) or somewhere around the TN/KY border in that area.

If you saw it, submit your report to the American Meteor Society web site's online form.

I wonder if this means that the Meteorite Men are on their way to the area?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CQ the Fark.com QSO party Saturday!

In addition to working the Titanic Special Event this weekend, a web site I frequent for much of my news and funny things, Fark.com, has a few hams in the group, and they're getting on the air this Saturday afternoon!

Host: dittybopper
Description: FARK Ham Radio QSO Party - 04/09/11 17:00 - 22:00 UTC
Date/Time: April 9, 2011 - 01:00 - 6:00PM (Eastern time)
Party Info: FARK QSO Party on Saturday the 9th from 17:00 UTC to 22:00 UTC.

Suggested frequencies are 7.260, 14.260, 21.360, and 28.360 MHz +/- QRM. Call "CQ FARK DOT COM QSO Party". Exchange is callsign, report, and your FarkName (or Fark Account Number if your FarkName is inappropriate for over the air use).

/Extra bonus points for CW contacts on 7.060, 14.060, 21.060, or 28.060

So if you're a fellow Farker like me, then get out there and let's hear ya!

BTW: My nickname is "redwing"!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Commodore 64 making a comeback (sort of)

Some of you had one growing up in the 80's, many hams bought them for packet well into the late 90's and early 2000's. I myself bought one at Dayton in 1998 but never was able to get it to work (what a waste of $15).

Yet for it's time, this was not only state of the art, it was the best thing going (if you couldn't afford and Apple IIe). The Commodore 64 was THE computer to have for many. We had several in high school and used them for everything from video games (can you say, Defender of the Crown?)to learning about math.

Well, if you yearn for the days of yesteryear when this "compact" system was the rage, then today's you're lucky day (actually the end of April). Commodore USA has the retro-style Commodore 64 coming out with more of today's technology built in.

Say goodbye to the 1 MHz MOS 6510 and whopping 64 kB of RAM and say hello to 1.8GHz dual processor, 2-4 Gigs of DDR3 RAM, HDMI out, optional blu-ray, and USB. Sorry, looks like wi-fi's not built-in...

Windows can be installed, but the system doesn't come with it. Ubuntu Linux will be shipped with the unit and Commodore's proprietary COS 1 will be available sometime later in the year.

Check out the NY Times post about it here.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

How close are we to losing 440?

If you've been paying attention to some of the news items this week, legislation is now introduced (by Pete King of New York) that would force amateur radio operators to give up the popular 70cm (440MHz) band by selling the spectrum off to commercial interests that would offset lost revenue from reallocating first responders' frequencies in order to streamline communications. This comes in light of a review by the 9/11 Commission which recommended a more integrated network of communicating with the different agencies to prevent the communications issues that arose during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The frequencies given to the first responders is the freed up spectrum from the conversion of TV from analog to digital.

Bill HR 607 has now been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles telecommunications legislation. It's one of the beginning steps that is taken to get an act passed through into law. A long ways to go, but when it comes to raising money through a bake sale method, Congress finds ways to move it through in expedited fashion.

There are a couple of obstacles that could get in the way, in the form of two members of Congress who are hams. One is Greg Walden, W7EQI, who made headlines in December when he tweeted in morse code on Twitter that he was going to chair the House Communications Subcommittee. This may be the biggest ally ham radio has, and he's in a powerful position to force the bill back in to revision.

The other congressional ham operator is Representative Mike Ross, WD5DVR of Arkansas. He is a Democrat (Walden is Republican) so the potential for getting support of the opposition of this Bill in its present form on both sides of the aisle is greater.

Another potential ally is Congressman Billy Long of Missouri, who co-sponsored the Bill. He's gone on record in USA Today stating he's willing to come to an amicable solution to ensure that neither the first responders or hams are affected by this spectrum selloff, so we need to hold him to that promise.

The ARRL has a video on the bill.

I can understand the need to raise "bail money" considering the debt we're getting ourselves into, but doing so at the cost of one the best resources for emergency communications is a grave misstep. Besides, there's some spectrum down in the 220 band that was sold off awhile back and look how that turned out. Why not give that to the first responders? Or give it back to the amateur operators who would use it more than it's being used now.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Titanic Special Event Station W4S next weekend

Next Saturday and Sunday (April 9-10) there will be a special event to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Listen for call W4S on the air from Noon ET Saturday until Noon ET on Sunday, operating from the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Having toured the museum right after it opened last year, I can tell you it's well worth the time and the price of admission to take the self-guided tour if you're ever in Pigeon Forge. The artifacts are not from the ocean floor, but either collected from people who were on the boat and disembarked in Cherbourg, France, or Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, or from the debris during recovery.

The family and I will be up there operating during the evening hours, and I plan to try and stay overnight if possible. So listen for W4S and say hi to me!