Digital editions of ARRL Magazines now online.

Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News update are those of the reporters and correspondents.

Content supplied by HQ ARRL, Newington, CT, 06111.

Accessed on 15 January 2021, 0411 UTC, Post 1824.

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NOW ONLINE! Digital editions of February 2021 QST, Jan/Feb 2021 OTAQEX, and NCJ
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February QST
Jan/Feb OTA
Jan/Feb QEX
Jan/Feb NCJ
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February QST
New Ham Kit: A Way for Clubs to Help Get New Hams on the Air
A New York radio association created a valuable tool for new operators.
Bryan Jackson, W2RBJ
It’s a common occurrence in amateur radio for test applicants to pass their licensing exams and never get on the air. Our club, the East Greenbush Amateur Radio Association (EGARA) located in New York’s Capital District, found that the biggest challenge facing many new hams was simply where to start. To help with this, EGARA provides Technician-class licensees with a copy of our New Ham Kit. We’ve found it to be a valuable tool in getting newcomers on the air by offering easy-to-understand information on equipment basics, operating guidelines, and helpful tips.
January/February On the Air
Public Service is Customer Service

Because the FCC rules don’t allow hams to accept anything of value for operating our radios, you might not think that the words customer or customer service would be a part of the ham radio lexicon. However, if you’re involved in the public service side of ham radio, it’s important to keep in mind that the organizations and people we serve are our customers.
Happy Anniversary to On the Air
Enjoy this exclusive, never before read outtake from On The Air
Active and Passive Radiation

In the article, “The Best Antenna for the Job,” in the November/December 2020 issue of On the Air, we laid out antenna suggestions according to the type of ham activity you may be interested in. Here’s another, more technical consideration regarding antennas: active and passive radiation.

The active part of an antenna is the part that connects directly to your radio. Think of it as the filament in an incandescent lightbulb. When you apply power to it, the filament glows. Believe it or not, antennas glow as well, but our eyes can’t perceive radiant energy at those frequencies.

The passive part of an antenna is one that isn’t connected directly to your radio. The passive parts pick up some of the radiated energy and re-radiate it to create a pattern of energy in a particular direction. The famous Yagi antenna works in exactly this way. The antenna elements (made of metal tubes or wires) placed in front of the active part – what we call the radiating element  — receive and re-radiate the energy forward in the direction the antenna is pointing. These antenna elements are called directors. Behind the radiating element there is another tube or wire that passively picks up the energy and re-radiates it forward. It’s called the reflector.

Sometimes passive radiation can be unintentional, and that’s when it can cause interference to other electronic devices, and even disrupt the function of your antenna. Keep this in mind when selecting a location for your antenna. Things like metal rain gutters, aluminum siding, or fencing could be problematic because they might act as passive antennas and cause serious distortion of your antenna’s pattern. If they are close enough to your antenna, they can also change its impedance and cause the standing wave ratio to increase at your operating frequency. Your radio will respond by reducing its output power, which is not a good thing when you are trying to communicate.

January/February QEX
Compact 300 Watt HF Amplifier
This MOSFET-based design boosts RF output from QRP levels to medium power levels.

Rick Littlefield, K1BQT
Many low power software defined radios (SDRs) now come with the same performance features found on top-of-the line 100 W radios. No surprise then that some of us are adopting them for everyday operating. While a 5 or 10 W transceiver may lack the horsepower to blast through heavy QRM, a high gain single-stage VMOS or LDMOS amplifier can boost QRP output anywhere up to the legal limit.
January/February NCJ
The Story of the J68HZ Dream
William J. Schmidt, K9HZ/J68HZ
It is every contester’s dream to own a very capable station in a desirable part of the world that is competitive, maintenance free, and a place that the rest of the non-ham family wants to visit. To that end, my wife and I set out to find that place. Our search started more than 20 years ago with our first trips to the Caribbean. Our family loves the sun and water, so we made arrangements to go to the Caymans, Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, St. Lucia, Curacao, and St. Vincent. Each island has its own charm and feel. I had the opportunity to operate at many of the contest stations on these islands, and I realized the Caribbean could be the perfect location of another competitive contest station. Our observation was that many of the locations were either good for the family or good for contesting, but few checked both boxes.
What’s the Buzz?
On the Air – Episode 13 January 14

Listen to the On the Air podcast host Steve Ford, WB8IMY, interview Curt Laumann, K7ZOO, on his build project for the University’s Collegiate Amateur Radio Club, K7UAZ. Laumann, who volunteers his time with K7UAZ, discusses the antenna project that the club did together, and the various uses of the antenna that they built.
Eclectic Tech – Episode 25 January 14

Listen to the Eclectic Tech podcast for a discussion on extreme magnetic fields, where they can occur in nature, and how we, as amateur radio operators, use this phenomenon to make everyday communications. Tune in with host Steve Ford, WB8IMY, while he chats with ARRL Assistant Laboratory Manager Bob Allison, WB1GCM, about hunting down sources of interference and how we can better eliminate these disruptions from our operating.
Featured Publication
Contesting is one of the most exciting aspects of amateur radio.
Looking to get started? Here are three top contesting tips from Amateur Radio Contesting for Beginners by Doug Grant, K1DG.
  • Get on the air as frequently as possible before the contest, to get a sense of propagation conditions and the call signs that will be on the air during the event.
  • Talk (or send code) at the same rate of speed as the station you’re contacting – don’t go faster. This will help avoid being asked to repeat, so you can move on to the next contact that much quicker.
  • Use contest logging software to log your contacts. General-purpose loggers aren’t optimized for contesting. You’ll want contest software that indicates whether a contact is a duplicate, and that will compute your score in real time.

Save $10 with code CONTEST (one per order) now through January 31, 2021.

Contesting in 2021
Contesting is a fun and exciting way to become involved with amateur radio. Be sure to check out ARRL’s Contest page where you can access the 2021 ARRL Contest Calendar, as well as other helpful resources. The NEW ARRL Contests Portal is now your one-stop shop for all your ARRL contest interests. The new platform allows you to Log Submission, view Logs Received and Raw  Scores, and gives you searchable access to scores, contest records, and much more. You will be able to access everything from the starting bell of a contest to your post-event hard-won certificate of accomplishment.
Upcoming Contests:
Jan 16-18 – January VHF Contest      1900Z, Jan 16 – 0359Z, Jan 18
Feb 8-12 – ARRL/LIMARC February School Club Roundup
Feb 20-21 – International DX CW Contest    0000Z, Feb 20 – 2359Z, Feb 21
Mar 6-7 – International DX Phone Contest 0000Z, Mar 6 – 2359Z, Mar 7
Straight Key Night 2021

To ring in the New Year, ARRL held its annual Straight Key Night (SKN) on January 1, 2021. ARRL staff took to the airwaves, operating as W1AW from the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station at ARRL headquarters in Connecticut. The operators included Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI; Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, and CEO David Minster, NA2AA. David used the vintage straight key from Maxim’s rotary spark-gap transmitter, “Old Betsy.” Bob used a Begali replica of one of Maxim’s straight keys (see video), and Ed operated W1AW’s J-38 key. Together they made 173 contacts on 80, 40, and 20 meters. ARRL member Aaron Ray, N4ARY, participated, posting that he shared the special New Years’ experience with his daughter.

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Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)

Public Information Officer

Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section