The Gamification of Ham Radio

I think contest organizations and the ARRL understand one aspect of fostering activity in the hobby. The logbook awards, contests, and sprints have their roots in achievement, competition, and accomplishment. Stanford gaming theorist Jane McGonigal recently spoke at a Security Conference I attended where she remarked on the incredible amount of time poured into online gaming. More than the combined manpower of the largest companies in the world, games contribute literal trillions of man-hours (billions a week) to seemingly “useless obstacles”. Why? Because games bring out a full-brain engagement like few other daily activities. The same concepts are readily (albeit unintentionally) applied to ham radio. Even contests that aren’t scheduled,… Read More

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Wiring a CW Paddle

Many HF transceivers use a stereo jack for the internal electronic keyer. Some have a 1/4″ jack, others have a 3.5mm jack. This is a note on how most of these are wired to a CW paddle. On a TRS cable (tip ring sleeve 3.5mm) Red: tip (left, dit) White: ring (right, dah) Yellow: sleeve (common ground) (this wire could also be black) If you’re right-handed, use the left paddle for the dit, which would go to the tip of the plug which would be the red connection. The white connection is the dah (right paddle) which goes to “ring” on the plug, adjacent to the tip. The common ground… Read More

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CERT Basic Final Exercise 2/10

I had the chance to be a “survivor” of a mock disaster for the Sacramento Metro Fire Station 21 CERT Basic class disaster simulation today. This normally means having a severe injury and role-playing an often uncooperative survivor. I was to be a victim who had a big hit to the head, and was disoriented and wandering. This meant I did not get to be covered in blood, but only sported a large bruise on my forehead. Maybe I should have chosen to have more contusions on my face or something, would have been far messier. Our disaster event was we were survivors along the debris path of a plane… Read More

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SDARC Meeting 2/8: History of Phonetics

We had our monthly meeting for the Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club on February 8, 2018 at 7:30pm. After usual club announcement and business, we were treated to a presentation by Jim WB6BET of the Lodi Amateur Radio Club (LARC): The History of Phonetics. Jim went on to describe DX phonetics. Emilia KI6YYT, president of LARC, also gave a presentation on the USS Hornet, describing its radio systems and an all-women’s QSO event they held there last year. It was interesting to see the kinds of radios they used on ships back then (one slide had a bank of Harris RF-350s). It’s cool that the club meetings are not only a chance… Read More

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ARRL EC-001 Emergency Communications Course

Today marks the day I took the final for ARRL’s EC-001: Emergency Communications Basic/Level 1 course. It’s a 9 week course that I started in November and covers a wide range of EMCOMM topics: From the organizational structure of emergency communicator groups to traffic net etiquette to digital modes to message handling to deployment preparation and expectations. It is designed for those who want to volunteer in ARES or another emergency communications group. The 9 week course is comprised of 29 lessons, with an estimate of taking 45 hours to complete. Along the way, there are assignments/activities for each lesson, and frequent check-ins with a designated mentor of the class.… Read More

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More CW Practice

Merry Christmas! Today I landed upon a video by KJ4YZI Eric of HamRadioConcepts (https://youtu.be/Jls-PiR-dBI) entitled “How I learned Morse code fast and easy”. I found the title suspect because CW is neither fast nor easy, but he did help me a lot with this simple video. He learned with the help of an Android app called Morse CT that allows him to practice by tapping the alphabet and numbers on his phone. It never occurred to me that I could tap on my phone screen to learn sending. I have been so slow going because the Koch method is tedious and very hard in the beginning. I was thinking I… Read More

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Passed the Amateur Extra exam

It took a while of studying, and a HamCram at the end, but I got my Extra class ticket this afternoon with W6SF Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club. I missed one out of the 50-question exam. This is the last level of amateur radio licensing. Now I have no excuses… I need to just focus on actual radio practice and experimenting with all the different things that have opened up at this level. I will have the ARRL Band Plan on hand at all times till I memorize it, and can now pretty much transmit on all available FCC amateur bands without worrying if I’m in the wrong operator allocation.… Read More

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