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The WA4IWLetter





This time twenty years ago, I was preparing for the adventure of my lifetime. I had been assigned as Chief Design Engineer for water supply projects in six cities scattered around five provinces of Indonesia. Other than five days in Majorca some years earlier, I had never been outside the "right coast", so I had no idea what life in an under-developed country would be like While getting shots for smallpox, yellow fever, cholera and typhoid was mandatory, my main concern was completion of a Heathkit HW-101 (tube-type) transceiver for use over there, once I got my (reciprocal) Indonesian amateur license.

Ah, life was quite different back then. There were about 354,000 American hams then, of which 63% were General/Advanced/Extra. While we had hand-held calculators taking the place of slide rules, the word "computer" was not in our lexicon. Back then an ARRL member got a lot of "bang for the buck". Repeater directories were given out free at hamfests. There were no charges to members or foreign stations for DXCC or any other ARRL award. Monthly propagation charts and DXCC updates were in every QST. A lifetime ARRL membership cost somewhere in the range of $300. ARRL manuals were practical, useful, and reasonably priced.

Well, that's all past history, folks. Tube-type rigs are collectors' items. Now, of the 718,000 American hams, only 43% are General/Advanced/Extra, and the subject of computers seems to dominate any gathering of more than two hams. And the former ARRL freebies are gone and/or going. Now, repeater directories cost $12. ARRL members must pay a minimum of $10 for a DXCC application, and then for only 120 cards, and $20 for the next 100 cards. In contrast, a non-member pays $20 for the first submittal and $30 for additional submittals. The annual $34 ARRL membership fee is more than the difference in charges, so the value of membership is diminished. DXCC listings are gone from QST; the only way to find them is to submit QSLs (and money) every year to the DXCC program, or buy the "DXCC book" which gives this information. As far as the advantages of the use of the members' Outgoing QSL Service, which is now $6 a pop, a person can make use of the "private sector" for quite a number of QSLs to offset the ARRL membership fee.

This has not gone unnoticed by the ham community. The 15 January W5YI Report quotes from a memo sent to all Section Managers by Field Service Manager Rick Palm, K1CE, admitting to a loss of more than 14,000 ARRL members since March 1997. In addition to lost membership, advertising revenues are "waning" as manufacturers and dealers budget these funds into publications showing growth, not decline.

How did this happen? From 1989 to 1995, amateur radio licensees averaged over 7 percent annual increase, however, the growth was in the Technician and Tech+ categories. Regardless, the ARRL saw the rosy growth figures and, like a government bureaucracy, went on big expansion programs of plant and personnel. Commercial Harris transmitters took the place of amateur gear at W1AW--amid much chagrin.

Many of these new licensees never joined the ARRL, and many of those who did soon dropped out. The ARRL can't figure out why this happened. Let's be honest. Is there anything in QST, or is there any "service" provided by the ARRL that cannot be found from other sources, and usually for less money? CQ VHF, and the VHF columns in Worldradio and CQ provide far more items of interest to those Technician or Tech + operators than anything offered in QST. In the past, ARRL manuals were considered "the ultimate", but now serious errors are cropping up, and text is often written in a glib cavalier manner, unbecoming technical manuals.

Like the ARRL, the AARP is also losing members--some 4 million to date--and for the same reason: Neither organization is being responsive to the needs and wishes of its membership.

73 de Jack, W4JS


Our business meeting will start at 7:30pm in Room 400 of the Englewood United Methodist Church, 700 East Dearborn Street (just west of Pine Street). The business meeting will include presentation of the 1999 budget. The program will be a video, "Similarities in Wave Behavior", courtesy of Frank Schwab, W8OK. This demonstration of wave phenomena, including standing waves, was produced by the Bell Laboratories See you at the meeting!


The Snowbird Net meets on HF daily at 10 am, 11:45 am and 5:45 pm on 14.278, and at 7:00 pm on 7.230. Join in and advise those who are stuck up North of our local activities and great weather.

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Minutes of the Meeting

January 15, 1999

President Jack Sproat, W4JS, called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM with the pledge of allegiance to our flag. There were no new members present. Two guests, Santos Sepulveda, KI4QK, and Lloyd Harris, W4GTT, were introduced and welcomed, after which member introductions were made around the room. There were no upgrades to report.

For the Secretary's Report, a motion was made to forego reading of the minutes of last month's meeting by George Shreve, KA4JKY. Seconded by Jim Halli-day, NX2II, and the motion carried.

Howard White, KD4MMY, gave the Treasurer's Report, which covered both the monthly activities and the 1998 Annual Report. Howard explained an unusual miscellaneous item was due to the one-time expense of incorporation. A motion to accept the reports was made by Dennis Babcock, NT9K, seconded by Jim Halliday, NX2II, and the motion carried. Copies of the reports were filed with the Secretary.

PRESIDENT'S REPORT - Jack commented on the Ft. Myers Hamfest, and gave information about a bus they plan to run to the Miami Hamfest.

Jack stated that this is our Annual Meeting which includes various annual reports and the election of officers for the coming year.


SUNSHINE - Gene Fowler, KA1GCU, reported that a card had been sent to Bruce Robideau, K2OY, who was hospitalized recently. It was also reported that Lloyd Pfahler, W8FKL, of Venice, FL passed away on December 23, 1998.

TESTING - Jack Sproat, W4JS, reported we had one candidate for FCC exams last month, and one scheduled for this month. FCC testing is now on a reservation basis only for the EARS team.

HamFest 99 - Frank Maren, W4VV, reported on the status of our hamfest plans. He advised there will be a mail party for hamfest flyers on February 12 at 10 AM at Jack Sproat's house. Volunteers are welcome.

RACES - Frank Kouri, K4KF, gave the RACES report.

DX - No report.

CROP WALK - George Graham, W1PZE, gave the CROP Walk report.

TOWERS - Jerry Mechenberg, K2JWE, reported on the status of the Charlotte County tower ordinance, and submitted a comprehensive report to the Secretary for file. This report gave some background on the need to amend the county tower ordinance and, after months of hearings, meetings and workshops, the amended ordinance was approved on 17 July 1998.

OLD BUSINESS - A motion was made by George Shreve, KA4JKY, to authorize an expenditure of $50 for printing additional newsletters and cover letter to be mailed to local area hams inviting them to membership in our club. Seconded by Gene Fowler, KA1GCU, and passed.

STATE OF THE SOCIETY - The President gave a very good annual report on our club, which covered the major events and activities of the year, and a most important accomplishment of getting the Society incorporated. Jack thanked the club members for supporting club activities during the year and encouraged continued support and participation.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS FOR 1999 - The slate of officers for 1999 which had been nominated last month was read, and is as follows:

President Jack Sproat W4JS

Vice-President Jerry Meckenberg K2JWE

Secretary Ken Anderson W4JQT

Treasurer Howard White KD4MMY

Trustees J R House K9HUY

John Fogle W1JF

Frank Maren W4VV

There were no nominations from the floor. Gabe Meckenberg, K2GQU, made a motion that nominations be closed and the secretary cast a unanimous vote for the slate of officers. Seconded by Free Crosby, W1NPR, and the motion carried. The officers for 1999 are as listed above.

OUTLOOK FOR 1999 - The President discussed some of his thoughts for the coming year regarding club activities and member participation. Getting new members was emphasized, along with some ideas for making newcomers feel welcome. Support of EARS activities through attendance and involvement is what makes the club work. Jack also proposed regular meetings of the officers, and the addition of a Chaplin in the club.


Frank Schwab, W8OK, reported on his recent trip to St. Lucia and their CQWW Contest results.

Howard Hawkins, WB8IGU, says the Snowbird Net on 7.230 at 7PM and 14.278 at 10AM is looking for more check-ins, and Uncle John, K1RSC, would like to hear from more hams in Englewood.

Dennis Babcock, NT9K, advised that WD4NKZ is now active again for packet on 145.090.

Don Glaum, KB8YXE, expressed his thanks to the club for the help he has received, which has enabled him to stay in touch with his sister via ham radio.

George Shreve, KA4JKY, made a motion to adjourn at 8:45PM. Seconded by Frank Maren, W4VV, and carried.

Ken Anderson, W4JQT


-- 1999 DUES ARE DUE! --

See page 3 for more details. Don't be a dropout!

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Here it is, the end of January, and things look more like early Spring. It has been a strange Winter season all over the United States. Snow in Amarillo, TX; it was always a quick change area for weather.

Now to things around Englewood. The first thing I noted was that Dearborn St. is to become a new Business District, then the Elsie Quirk Library would be expanded soon.

See that the new Car Wash on Indiana Ave. is about to be opened. Don't know if it will be manned or a do-it-yourself deal.

As for the on-going sewer work, the latest word is that they hope to be able to connect everyone sometime in the late Spring. (No year mentioned.)

Local politicos in both counties are, as usual, at odds with each other. What would it be like to live in an area where everyone got along??? What a Dream!

Had no luck selling my home by one realtor, so now have gone to the agent that flies the big balloon. Will see how that goes.

Work is still going strong along 776. Some year we may be able to travel from one end to the other with no barriers. Some dream to hope for.

Hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful weather we have been having. Take it easy on the highways as it has been noted that the police are out with their radar and itching to write costly tickets. Don't get caught!

Take things easy and I will be writing another tid-bit column next month.

73/88 de Peggy, KF4BD


For those who are unaware of the significance of this event, its roots go back to the relief efforts initiated by farmers in the Dakotas who sent food to destitute Europeans after the close of WW II. Nowadays this is a charitable event to assist lest fortunate local residents. The Englewood CROP Walk will be held Saturday 27 February. EARS members have traditionally provided communications support along the route taken by the walkers. You can show your support of this event by lending a couple hours of your time. Call George Graham, W1PZE, at 474-2845 if you're willing to help out. Thanks in advance!


Back on 19 December 1998, Dieter Decker, KB8SJM, drove up from Ft. Myers Beach to successfully upgrade from General to Advanced Class. At our 16 January session, Richard Crane came down from Venice and passed Elements 2 and 3A to earn a Technician Class ticket. Congrats to both!!

-- 1999 DUES ARE DUE! --

According to Section 4 of our Bylaws, any member whose dues are not paid by the Annual Meeting is not in good standing, and their membership will be automatically terminated if unpaid by the end of February. If you should be in this category, please send your 1999 dues and correct address, e-mail info, etc. to our Treasurer, Howard White, KD4MMY. Howard will soon be preparing our 1999 Membership Directory, and he needs your cooperation. Please don't be a dropout--continue supporting EARS by getting your dues in as soon as possible.


The EARS VE Team offers ARRL/VEC license exams at 9:30 am the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce building, 601 South Indiana Ave., Englewood. Two-day advance reservation is required.

Candidates must bring:

(1) Original license and a copy of that license.

(2) Original CSCE's and a copy of each CSCE.

(3) Two forms of identification.

(4) A check in the amount of $6.45 payable to "ARRL VEC", or cash in the same amount.

For further information and reservation, contact Jack Sproat, W4JS, at (941)475-1929.


A vote will be taken at the 19 February meeting to waive the Procedures for Distribution of Club Assets, as stated in the Bylaws, permitting these bids to be received and opened in less than 30 days following this announcement for the following items:

1. Telrex TB4EM tri-band beam; good condition and with all hardware.

2. IBM PS-2 Computer w/386 board, monitor and keyboard; good condition, perfect packet station w/Packratt II on hard drive.

Items may be seen at QTH of Ken Anderson, W4JQT, tel. 475-3172, and bids submitted to Treasurer Howard White, KD4MMY, at whose residence the EARS officers will open the bids at 7:00 pm, 12 March.


FOR SALE: Ten-Tec Paragon HF Transceiver with Power Supply-Speaker, FM module, 1.8, 0.500 and 0.250 filters ($90/each, new) - $900 (Ten-Tec's trade-in value w/o filters); Drake L4B linear - $800; two unused 3-500Z tubes - $150. New Cushcraft R-7 vertical free w/entire package. Call Dick Dean, N4RD, tel. 475-2697

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-- OUTLOOK FOR 1999 --

The following is a summary of some of what is envisioned for the EARS during 1999, both for those of you who could not attend our Annual Meeting and to refresh the memory of those who did.

In the past, many decisions were made and actions taken in informal ad hoc meetings, as we only had one formal officers' meeting during the year. While the outcome of such meetings was usually positive, it is obvious that there is a need for scheduled officers' meetings. Regular monthly meetings of the officers will be started, with the schedule in The WA4IWLetter.

We're fortunate to have Jerry Meckenberg, K2JWE, as Vice-President. We know that Jerry is a "take charge" type fellow, based on his dedicated interests in following the Charlotte County administration's activities on the subject of towers. Jerry will be responsible for our programs during 1999, and he will appreciate any suggestions that you may offer for him to successfully fulfill that obligation.

Hopefully all who served in appointed positions during 1998 will continue on in those positions during 1999. We can all agree that they have done exceptionally well over the past year.

Jim Halliday, NX2II, has been appointed to the new position of EARS Chaplin. Jim has always willingly provided an invocation at the proper occasion, and he's perfect for this assignment.

We could also use a "Publicity Chairman" to better promote the existence and activities of EARS. It would be a good policy to have some member or members serve as a "Greeter" at our meetings. If someone was stationed by the door to greet one and all, it would certainly give a positive feeling about our club to both a newcomer and the regular members.

Your support of EARS is recognized when you check into our weekly net on 146.700. If you have any kind of a 2-meter radio, please try to join in. The Net Manager and those who volunteer for the Net Control assignments can only be encouraged when there's a decent number of check-ins.

All of our present and any future EARS activities need your support. Moral and physical support is vital for our Public Service and Field Day activities. Your attendance at our meetings and our HamFest shows that you are more than a member in name only.

A campaign to reach out to prospective members in the area is underway. With any success we could gain enough new members to both replace those recently lost and increase our membership.

This is a good club--and it can be a great club--but only through your loyal support. You all have something to offer, so speak up and be counted.


13/14 Feb Orlando Hamcation at Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 West Colonial Dr., Orlando. Exit 41, West off I-4. TI on 146.760 Info: Tom, AE4NJ, (407)850-9258

20/21 Feb Sarasota Hamfest at Robarts Sports Arena, 3000 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota. Exit 39 West off I-75. TI on 146.910 Info: Dave, AE4MR, (941)923-1688

20 Feb Hernando Co ARA Hamfest at Spring Hill VFW Hall, 15166 Spring Hill Dr, between US 41 and Mariner Blvd, Spring Hill, FL TI on 146.715 Info: Ralph, AF4FC, (352)754-9653

06/07 Mar Gulf Coast ARC Hamfest at Fred K. Marchman Technical Educational Center, 7825 Campus Dr, New Port Richey. TI on 146.67 Info: Rick, KF4GXS, (813)842-2127

13 Mar Englewood ARS HamFest 99 at Tringali Community Center, E. McCall Rd (SR 776) at Pennel St, Englewood. TI on 146.700 Info: JR (941)475-3005

You can see from the foregoing that the Florida Hamfest Season is off and running. Let's all get behind Frank Maren, W4VV, and his HamFest '99 team to make our own 13 March hamfest a successful and memorable event!!


FOR SALE: Kenwood TS-940S HF transceiver w/built-in antenna tuner and IRC's IF filters for $995. 13.8 VDC @ 20 A regulated power supply for $35. Call Ken Anderson, W4JQT; ph. 475-3172.

FOR SALE: Kenwood TS-50S HF transceiver w/matching AT50 auto-tuner, mounting bracket, microphone, tuner/radio cable and manuals. No scratches, dings or faults. All for $850. Call Dennis Babcock, NT9K; ph. 698-0248 or dbabcock@ewol.com


The EARS weekly net meets on the WB0GUX repeater (146.700) at 7:30 pm every Friday except the third Friday, which is our meeting night. Volunteers are needed for Net Control; please contact Don Spencer, WA4IWL, our Net Manager. Recent net activity follows:

Date NCS Check-Ins

08 January KA4JKY George 18

22 January W1PZE George 24

29 January KA4JKY George 12

05 February WA4IWL Don 15

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Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
Dutch DX Contest 1200 GMT 13 Feb

1200 GMT 14 Feb

160 - 10 Meters SSB/CW Dutch Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serical No.
YLRL YL-OM Contest 1400 GMT 13 Feb

0200 GMT 15 Feb

80 - 10 Meters


YLs work OMs; OMs work YLs, Anywhere R/S + Serical No. and QTH
North American Sprint 0000 GMT 14 Feb

0400 GMT 14 Feb

80 - 20 Meters CW USA, Canada, North American DXCC countries Serial No. + Name & QTH
ARRL International DX Contest 0000 GMT 20 Feb

2400 GMT 21 Feb

160 - 10 Meters


Stations Outside USA and Canada R/S/T + State
CQ 160 Meter Contest 2200 GMT 26 Feb

1600 GMT 28 Feb

160 Meters


Anyone, Anywhere R/S + State
French DX Contest 0600 GMT 27 Feb

1800 GMT 28 Feb

80 - 10 Meters SSB France, French Overseas Territories R/S + Serial No.
North Carolina QSO Party 1200-2400 GMT 27 Feb

1200-2400 GMT 28 Feb

160 - 2 Meters SSB/CW North Carolina Stations Only R/S(T) + QTH & Serial No.
Belgian DX Contest 1300 GMT 27 Feb

1300 GMT 28 Feb

80 - 10 Meters CW Belgium + European Union DXCC Countries R/S/T + Serial No.
ARRL International DX Contest 0000 GMT 06 Mar

2400 GMT 07 Mar

160 - 10 Meters SSB Stations Outside USA and Canada R/S + State

From February 1999 Worldradio, February 1999 CQ and February 1999 QST.


The primary contest of general interest from those listed above is the ARRL International DX Contest. Twenty years ago this was a four weekend contest, with the first weekends of February and March being the phone weekends. (Ed note: Not working CW, I've no logs and can only guess that the CW weekends were the third weekends of February and March.) Sometime later the ARRL concluded that was a "bit too much" and fell in line with the other, two-weekend events.

This is a contest where the DX stations actually want to work the USA and our Canadian brethren to the north. So, a good old "plain vanilla" W, K, or whatever, Stateside callsign suddenly takes on importance and the DX piles up on the stronger USA/VE stations, rather than vice-versa. However, this is a good contest for even a marginal USA/VE station to participate in as they will be sought after by all DX stations looking for multipliers.

With 10 meters now having excellent propagation into Europe and Africa on a daily basis, and better than average openings to the Middle East, the Far East and Southeast Asia, this contest also gives the Novice and Tech + operators an opportunity to work some good DX. In the ARRL's December 10-meter contest, DX can work anyone, but in this contest they can only work the USA/Canada. That, in itself, gives those Novice and Tech + stations a better opportunity to work some DX.

While USA/VE stations report R/S/(T), DX will give R/S/(T) and a 3-digit number (or "KW") for power output. Each DX QSO counts 3 points. The sum of DXCC entities worked per band is the multiplier. You cannot work USA or VE stations other than KL7, KH6, and the islands of St. Paul and Sable.

Why not give it a go?


EARS member Frank Schwab, W8OK, and some sixteen fellow operators from the Southwest Ohio DX Association put J6DX on the air from St. Lucia in a big way for the CQWW CW weekend, 28-29 November. They tallied 14,861 QSOs and managed to snag all 40 CQ Zones. 15 meters saw the most action, with 3922 QSOs, followed by 10, with 3233 Qs. Top Band yielded 651 Qs. Congrats, Frank and the SWODXA!

JR, K9HUY, was active in the ARRL VHF Sweepstakes 25-25 January. (Unfortunately, Bruce, K2OY, was recovering from surgery in Englewood Community hospital and couldn't make this one.) JR reports that 6 meters had a good opening on Saturday, mostly to the mid-west, and that 2 meters opened up across the Gulf on Sunday. Band by band tallies:

6 Meters 84 QSOs 30 Grid Squares

2 Meters 60 QSOs 19 Grid Squares

70 Cm 6 QSOs 3 Grid Squares

Totals 150 QSOs 52 Grid Squares

JR managed to work 13 of the 14 grid squares in Florida, missing the one inhabited only by "Charlie" the alligator and his friends. Well Done, JR!!

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(Band/GMT for best chance of S5 or better signal)



BEARING 80 40 20 17 15 12 10
Tromelin - FR5ZQ/T

Temotu - H40MS

Christmas Is - VK9XX

Cocos-Keeling Is - VK9YY

Midway - KH4/IV3NVN

Wallis & Futuna Is - FW5FN

Nauru - C21SX/C21ZM

Niue - ZK2EGV

West Kiribati - T30RD

Banaba Is - T33RD

03 Feb - 03 Mar

Now thru March

06 - 13 Feb

13 - 20 Feb

21 Feb - 03 Mar

23 Feb - 08 Mar

27 Feb - 07 Mar

During March

01 - 08 March

10 - 28 March

















































































Updated 07 February 1999, based on 08 February QRZ DX and 06 February The 59(9) DX Report. Solar Flux assumed at 155 for all forecasts.

Notes: NO = No opening forecast. ??? = Callsign not yet known. Long path bearings and opening times (if any) are underlined.


The Solar Flux was 167 on 01 January and was on a roller coaster most of the month. Ranging from 110 on 10 January to 178 on the 22nd, the SF ended the month at 115. The A- and K-indices were low during January and HF propagation was generally good throughout the month. The January SF averaged 140.7, or 5% higher than last month's forecast. A smoothed Solar Flux of 137 is forecast for February.

Propagation forecasts for February are as follow:

DX propagation will be excellent on five bands during daylight hours. Fifteen meters will be the best band from shortly after sunrise until shortly after sunset, with 10, 12, 17 and 20 meters not far behind.

From sunset to midnight, as many as seven bands (160-15 meters) may be open for DX. Fifteen should hold up well past sunset towards Central and South America, the Pacific, and the Far East and Southeast Asia. Twenty meters should remain open to most areas from sunset to midnight, but with signals strongest from southerly and westerly directions. Thirty, 40 and 75 meters will be open towards the east and south during this time period, with possible 160-meter openings in the same directions

From midnight to sunrise, it's a toss-up between 20, 30, and 40 meters for worldwide DX. Good openings may be possible on 75 and 160 at that time.

Beginning in late February DX conditions between the northern and southern hemispheres will improve, due to the effects of the Spring Equinox period.

Probable best DX days for remainder of month: 17, 18, 21 and 27 February should be "Above Normal"; 20, 22 and 28 February should be "High Normal". 24 February may be "Disturbed".

(From "Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, February 1999 CQ)


Expect unusually good DX conditions on the 6-meter band, particularly when conditions are expected to be "High Normal" or better. There may be F-layer openings to many ares from the USA, in addition to Trans-equatorial scatter to South America. The best time to check for TE openings on 6 meters is between 7 and 10pm local time. Some 2-meter TE openings may also occur at the same time.

No significant meteor showers are expected during February. Radio storminess expected during the month should produce some widespread auroral activity. Look for such conditions on 19, 23 and 24 February.

(From "Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, February 1999 CQ)


The ZL9CI operation from Campbell Island ran up an impressive tally of over 93,400 QSOs from 07 to 24 January. As they had to leave the island every night and return after sunrise (for "environmental" reasons), low band operation was limited to the few nights when it was too stormy for a safe departure. Such constraints make their accomplishments even more remarkable.

Any and all of the locals who wanted to work ZL9CI enjoyed success, and it was a "new one" for many. JR, K9HUY, worked them 10 times on 5 bands--20 thru 10 SSB and CW--which is very commendable. Up Nokomis way, Bob, N1RA, worked them 9 times on 6 bands--30 thru 10--and quite an accomplishment when you consider that Bob lives in a gated, restricted community and all his antennas are wires in the attic of his home! That just proves the point that IF you want to get on the air, you can do it--and with a notable degree of success! Congrats to both those operators on a job well done!!

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-- WHAT'S UP DOC? --

As ol' Bugs Bunny might query, "What's up" for the next generation in ham radio? CW replaced spark; superheterodyne replaced regenerative; SSB replaced AM; AMTOR and RTTY are replacing CW; digital replaced analog in computers; and digital satellite TV is replacing analog systems. This is called "progress".

Well, if TV/audio signals are being sent and received digitally, how about audio communication between ham stations via digital mode?

After four years, the ARRL has yet to come up with a band plan for the ten channels between 219 and 220 MC. Vast numbers of hams could utilize that spectrum simultaneously via digital processes. On 11 December 1998 K4ABT and another ham utilized the digital mode on such a channel to pass pictures and audio simultaneously through two nodes at a distance of 250 miles. Dedication of those channels to such methodology could prove that amateur radio is making "progress".

Digital audio communication by hams will probably be a spin-off of recent innovations such a "voice assist" programs/software and voice-mail systems. Such programs now enable users to dictate notes or memos on a PC, and read books or articles in ASCII text form to blind persons.

The hardware requirements include use of a 486DX or better IBM-compatible PC with a 32- or 64-bit sound card. Voice-assist and voice-mail software are now available for less than $100. The operational concept consists of four main steps:

1. Convert regular voice/speech to ASCII data.

2. Convert that ASCII data to packet, AMTOR, etc.

3. Transmit the data in regular packet or AMTOR format.

4. Convert received packet or AMTOR signal back to ASCII and then to regular speech.

There are definite advantages to the use of such a system. Use of packet or AMTOR format would assure complete accuracy of the received transmission. By incorporation of translation software in the system, operators comprehending only their native tongues could communicate between one another.

So, Bugs, there's a lot "up", if we're just willing to hop on for the ride. This looks like an exciting mode to try and we'll have a follow-up article next month.

(From "A New Mode for the New Millennium" by Dave Ingram, K4TWJ, February 1999 CQ)


FOR SALE: Heathkit Model 221 kilowatt amplifier for $350. Call Steve Belok, KC4HDD; ph (941) 497-4484


(Ed. note: The following borrows generously from "The Prez Sez..." in the January 1999 QUA-RAE, the Radio Association of Erie's newsletter.)

Why not resolve to learn or do something new in Amateur radio. Here are some ideas.

APRS (Automatic Packet/Position Reporting System) is a fast growing area of the hobby. Have any of you ever tried this (or even heard of it)?

How about ATV (Amateur Television)? Over in the Port Charlotte area an ATV repeater is up and running. 434.00 ATV receive and 421.25 ATV transmit; with audio on the 146.925 repeater.

Have you tried building an antenna lately? Try putting together a simple 3-element quad for 2 meters or a yagi for six. True Value Hardware has suitable aluminum tubing in stock for the latter. How about one of those famous CATV hardline loops that Howard Hawkins, WB8IGU, has built and used with great success? Or a versatile G5RV? Ken Anderson, W4JQT, is a past master with that antenna.

Has there ever been a "fox hunt" (aka "hidden transmitter hunt") held in the area? You don't even have to get out of your vehicle to participate, as long as you can devise some form of directional antenna.

While Heath no longer provides their wonderful kits to the amateur market, there are other manufacturers and vendors who have kits available. Rather than splurge on a new multi-mode VHF rig, how about building one of those VHF-HF converter its offered by Ten Tec?

Sunspot Cycle 23 is on the rise and HF propagation is great to all parts of the world. Why not try for at least 5 wpm Morse and get on 10 meters? Ask Bob Benkovich, KF4YOW, about the DX he's been working with his Tech + privileges on 10 meters.

Is there a neighbor kid you know who might be interested in ham radio? The Internet is making global communication a common event for the kids, so we have a lot of competition there. Try to sell them on the fact that with your little black box on your desk (or in your car) and that antenna in your yard (or on your car) you put out your own "personal" signal to someone, somewhere. Now, that's magic!

There are a lot of opportunities out there, so why not resolve to broaden your amateur radio experience this year. But, you have to take the first step. Come on; let's do it!


FOR SALE: Cushcraft A3WS (3-element 12/17-meter yagi) for $120 ($290 AES price new). Call Jack Sproat, W4JS; ph. 475-1929.

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