Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Handiham World Podcast for 28 August 2013

My little dog Jasper needs to go out first thing in the morning, so a little after 5:00 AM we made our way out through the garage and back door into the waning Minnesota night. 
There it was - staring us right in the face:  The constellation Orion, marching into the southeastern sky with his faithful hunting dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor, following behind.  The thing is... Orion is a WINTER constellation. It hardly seems like winter can be knocking at our door when the temperatures here have been over 90 degrees and it is, after all, still three weeks until autumn equinox.
The analemmaBut there it is: The days are getting shorter and that means we will slide quickly down the steep slope of the analemma - the thingy on a globe that looks like a number "8" bisecting the equator.
A slide down toward autumn and into winter is fast, and we will notice that the daylight hours are quickly fading here in the northern hemisphere even as they grow longer south of the equator. Less daylight will mean less sun to create the annoying D-layer absorption on the 80 meter band, and that means that it is time to think about how you can leverage 80 and 75 meters to have some great contacts that can range from local and regional to DX!  This morning, with Jasper busy burying his snout in his food bowl, I decided to wake up the ham shack for the day and started by dialing across the 75 meter band.  It was still well before sunrise, but there was some thunderstorm static skipping in from the southern states.  There were also plenty of 5-area callsigns on the air, meaning that 75 meters was a clear pathway between north and south this morning.  As the day dawns and the sun rises, so does the D-layer absorption.  By mid-day, the band will be mostly abandoned because propagation is so poor that near-vertical incidence propagation is nearly dead, thanks to absorption.  But as the days grow shorter and Orion sticks around all night long, the 75 meter band will become a go-to place for getting on the air and really having a lot of fun.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Handiham World Podcast for 21 August 2013

The fact that I can type this story out on a keyboard is due only to the sheer luck of good timing. 

In my early days as a young and clueless guy in  my 20's, I had rented a house with a yard and put up a used tower to support my 2-element Gotham quad antenna.  The antenna had been on a tower at my parents' house, and I had managed to disassemble it and get it down to the new location. As most of us know, when you have just started out on your own you have a very tight budget, and at that time I felt pretty lucky to be able to have a multiband transceiver and an antenna. At that stage of life there is no alternative but to watch every penny. I'd built the radio, a Heath HW-101, from a kit. The Gotham quad was just plain downright cheap, made with the lightest, cheapest aluminum alloy, wooden dowels, and cheesy plastic standoffs for the thin single-conductor aluminum wire elements. It covered 10, 15, and 20 meters, though - three bands that I liked using almost every day.  (This was pre-internet, of course.)

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Handiham World Podcast for 14 August 2013

If your schedule is off-the-charts busy during summer you are not alone!  Radio clubs are stirring, awakening to a new season of meetings - and there is a sudden realization that it's only TWO WEEKS UNTIL SEPTEMBER!  The newsletter isn't started! No one arranged for a club program, either.  The meeting room wasn't reserved.  What to do?  Where to start? Who does what?  Help!

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Handiham World for 07 August - Podcast Release

Deciding on a new radio soon?  Consider the Kenwood TS-590S, but think about the other good options out there.

Let's start by saying that this is not another rig review.  You can get reviews from QST and CQ and plenty of opinions, educated and otherwise, on the internet. There are loyalties to brands that transcend individual models and that can lead to recommendations for one rig over another even though the well-meaning advice is wrong. 
It has been said that if a dozen amateur radio operators are asked which radio or antenna is best, there will be a dozen different opinions!  I have been asked for radio and antenna advice many times over my ham radio career, especially in the past couple of decades working in the Handiham office.  It can be hard to stay open-minded when you prefer a particular manufacturer's products, but that is what I - and you - have to do when someone asks you for advice, especially if they are a newbie.
Read or listen to the entire story or podcast here:
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