Sunday, June 29, 2008

Field Day 2008

Field Day 2008 has come and gone.

This year saw 15 meters open up and even 10 meters for some periods of time.

Many special event stations were noticed on the bands.

The KY Indiana DX Association consisting of K4SAC, AA4RL, KJ4EVH, and KY4COE operated FD from EM67.

We made just a shade over 1020 Qso's, over 90% on CW.

We had a great time and look forward to next year's run!

73, Jack K4SAC

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Firefox phones home.......

I was disturbed to learn that Firefox makes unrequested connections....I thought those of you that read this blog may want to know....Click on my title to go to the original article. 73, Jack K4SAC

Firefox makes unrequested connections

Some people are particularly concerned about the connections Firefox makes to the internet, especially when such connections are made with no apparent cause. This article will explain the various reasons why Firefox may legitimately make a connection to the internet, and how you can stop it from doing so if you so desire.

Loopback connection

A loopback connection (to IP address can be made by Firefox on non-Unix machines. In this case the browser is communicating with itself as expected, and it is not recommended that this communication be blocked. See bug 100154 for more information.

Live Bookmarks updating

Live Bookmarks automatically reload themselves on a regular basis, and in doing so will make a connection to the internet. Deleting all your Live Bookmarks will stop these connections from being made.

Auto-update checking

Warning: Disabling update checking is not recommended and will leave you open to security vulnerabilities that get fixed in newer versions.

Firefox occasionally checks to see if any updates are available for itself, for your add-ons (extensions, themes, etc), and for your search engines. To disable these checks:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Advanced icon.
  3. Select the Update tab.
  4. Uncheck Firefox, Installed Add-ons, and Search Engines.

Home page loading

Your home page may be loading. To change your home page to something that doesn't generate connections to the internet:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Main icon.
  3. Set When Firefox starts to Show a blank page.

Anti-phishing list updating

Warning: Disabling the anti-phishing protection is not recommended, as it will leave you vulnerable to untrustworthy web-sites that might try to steal your financial information and/or your identity.

The phishing protection list may be updating itself. To turn this off:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Security icon.
  3. Uncheck Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery.
Firefox 3:

Anti-malware list updating

Warning: Disabling the anti-malware protection is not recommended, as it will leave you vulnerable to untrustworthy web-sites that might try to infect you with a virus, trojan or spyware.

The malware protection list may be updating itself. To turn this off:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Security icon.
  3. Uncheck Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected attack site.

Firefox will prefetch certain links if any of the web sites you are viewing uses the special prefetch-link tag. For more information, please see the Link Prefetching FAQ. To disable prefetching:

  1. In the Location bar, type about:config, and press EnterReturn.
    • The about:config "This might void your warranty!" warning page may appear. Click I'll be careful, I promise!, to continue to the about:config page.
  2. In the about:config page, search for the preference network.prefetch-next.
  3. Observe the Value column of the network.prefetch-next row.
    • If it is set to false then do nothing.
    • If it is set to true, double-click on it to set it to false.

Extension blocklist updating

Warning: Disabling blocklist updating is not recommended and may result in you using extensions known to be untrustworthy.

Firefox may be updating its extension blocklist. To disable this:

  1. In the Location bar, type about:config, and press EnterReturn.
    • The about:config "This might void your warranty!" warning page may appear. Click I'll be careful, I promise!, to continue to the about:config page.
  2. In the about:config page, search for the preference extensions.blocklist.enabled.
  3. Observe the Value column of the extensions.blocklist.enabled row.
    • If it is set to false then do nothing.
    • If it is set to true, double-click on it to set it to false.

Live Title updating

If you have any Live Title bookmarks, they may be updating themselves. Deleting all your Live Title bookmarks will stop these connections from being made. For more information, please see the Microsummaries wiki page.


An extension you have installed may be making a connection to a web site that it relies on. For example, a connection to a web site to synchronize your bookmarks, a connection to a web site to update a list of sites to block, etc. Or it is possible an extension could be changing the expected behavior of Firefox in other ways. For example, FasterFox extension has an option to prefetch all links.

To easily disable all of your extensions please read the Safe Mode article, paying particular attention to the Disable all add-ons option under the Make Changes and Restart section.

Firefox 3:

Downloads restarted

When you start Firefox, any interrupted downloads from your previous browsing session may be automatically resumed.

  1. From the menu bar at the top of the Firefox window, select the Tools menu and then select the Downloads menu item.
  2. Ensure nothing is currently being downloaded

Infected with malware

If your machine is infected with a virus, trojan, or spyware, then Firefox's internet connection may be being piggybacked in order for the malware to communicate with its author or to deliver adverts onto your machine, etc. If you suspect this is the case, consider seeking specialized advice from one of these malware support sites:

Please be aware that Mozilla is not responsible for the content of third-party web sites.


Technology Tip

If you need to share files between computers and have an internet connection at each computer, Microsoft has come out with a free(for now) service. That you can hold up to 5 GB online.

You have to have a Microsoft Live ID (which I think hotmail accounts work for that)

below is the blurb from Microsoft about this new service...

· 5 GB of free online storage, available from any computer with Internet access.

· Create personal, shared, and public folders -- you decide who has access to each folder.

· Windows Live SkyDrive works well on any Windows or Macintosh computer with Firefox 1.5 or higher, or Internet Explorer 6 or higher.

How we help protect your files

· Your personal folders are password-protected with your Windows Live ID, so only you have access.

· When you create a shared folder, the friends you're sharing with need to sign in with their own Windows Live ID and password.

· Just like at your online bank, all file transfers are protected using Secure Socket Layers (SSL).


· Use personal folders to back up important files that are only for you.

· Get to your files from any computer with Internet access by signing in with your Windows Live ID.


· Shared folders make it easy to collaborate with coworkers or classmates.

· You decide how much control each person has over each shared folder. Some can just read what's there: others can add and delete files.

· Everyone who is sharing uses their own Windows Live ID.


· With public folders, anyone on the Internet can view your files, but they can't change them.

· Want to show your public files to others? Just send them a link! Each folder and file has its own web address.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Worked All KY Counties Award

The QCWA Bluegrass Chapter 214 is sponsoring a new Worked ALL Kentucky Counties Award.

The rules are:

Contact and confirm with each of the 120 counties of Kentucky
Any Band
Any Mode
No date restrictions
SWL's may also apply
No Endorsements are available

Applicants must use The Bluegrass Chapter 214 application form and county list.
Both are available for downloading from the Bluegrass Chapter 214 offical website or by sending an SASE to the award manager.
If you are a current holder of a USA-CA 3077 all is required is an filled out application and fee.
Upon completion submit a filled out county list and application with a fee of $7.00.
The award manager reserves the right to request contact confirmation to check for validity.
Mail application and completed counties list to the Worked All Kentucky Award manager:

Dave Vest, K8DV
2934 Rontina Drive
Goshen, Ohio 45122
Questions may be directed via e-mail to or via a SASE to the award manager.

Amateur Radio Week in KY

Gov Steve Beshear, Governor of Kentucky has proclaimed June 22nd-29th as Amateur Radio Week in Kentucky.

A copy of the proclamation can be found at this link here

Friday, June 20, 2008

CQD or SOS????

As a avid CW operator, I had always thought that SOS stood for 'Save Our Souls'

The BBC recently published an article outlining the history of CQ, CQD, and SOS.

In the early days of radio there was no voice communication. It was all morse code.

Before radio, ships in distress could only signal other ships in range using lights, flags or flares.

But before SOS the was a distress signal called CQD.

CQ was a general call to demand attention from all stations, preceding a time signal or other announcement. The Marconi company, the dominant power in early radio, suggested this signal be appended with a D to work as a distress signal.

Many people thought CQD meant 'Come Quick Danger' but in reality it did not mean anything except a distress call.

The year 1906 brought a wireless telegraphy conference in Berlin, and there was a pressure to agree on a common signal.

The Italians uses SSSDDD, the Germans used SOE, and everyone used CQD.

The conference decided to use SOS and set the effective date as July 1st, 1908.

Many mistakenly believed it stood for Save Our Souls, or Sinking Of Ship, or Send Out Succour or Save Our Ship.

The first ship believed to have sent an SOS was the American steamer Arapahoe in 1909.

When the Titanic was sinking in 1912, its operator first sent out CQD and then SOS, alternating.

So that is the story of the morse distress signal.

73, Jack K4SAC


Thursday, June 19, 2008


As most hams know, the solar cycle controls the amount of sunspots on the sun, which in turn affects the propagation here on Earth.

The solar cycle tends to run in 11 year cycles, where the maximum activity occurs in the middle of the sunspot cycle and the minimum occurs at the bottom of the 11 yr cycle as it transitions from one cycle to the next.

Unfortunately, there is not usually a sharp transition, the bottom may hang around for 2 years or more.

Solar activity is defined as sunspots, solar flares, or even solar eruptions(eruptions of gas from the Sun.)

The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is currently at the end of its cycle transitioning into the new cycle.

What has scientists that track solar cycles concerned is that this minimum has produced no solar activity at all. While some inactivity is normal, this period of inactivity has stretched longer than normal.

In the past there have been some extended periods of inactivity. There was a period in the past where the sun did not produce sunspots for 50 years, from 1650 to 1700.

This affect ham radio operators, because during the sunspot minima low bands such as 160, 80 and 40 become the workhorse bands because the propagation does not get up to the 20-10 bands as easily.

Some links that talk about propagation:

N0HR's propagation page

N3KL's propagation page

Solar Cycle 24 Page (Excellent site)

WM7D Solar Page

N6RT's Propagation page

And a link to propagation software

So those spots on the sun do affect us more than you know!


73, Jack K4SAC

Blog List....

On the right of my blog, you can see that I am posting excerpts from other ham radio blogs around the blogosphere.

There are many ham radio blogs out here, so I can't post them all, but check out my blog list and links for other information.

K9JY has a good series running on Club Program Ideas, so those of you that are club officers, give his series a look!

73, Jack K4SAC

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Field Day History

Field Day is coming upon us June 28th and June 29th and I thought I would write a bit about how Field Day began.

In 1933, The June 1933 QST announced that the second Saturday in June, for a period of 27 hours, starting at 4 pm local time, that hams would go into the "field" and set up portable stations.

W1BDI F.E. Handy said:
“The real object of this contest is to test ‘portables’ wherever they may be available.… If successful, we want to make it an annual affair.”

The scoring of that first contest was each QSO with fixed stations will count 1 point, contacts
with other portables count 2 points, and DX contacts count 3 points. Multiply QSO
points by the total number of ARRL sections, plus countries worked

September 1933 QST announced the winner of the 1st Annual Field Day was W4PAW. They made 62 QSOs and had 28 sections for a total of 1876 points.

1934 Field Day #2 is announced.

1936 Field Day was so popular that a second Field Day was held August 22nd-23rd of that year. The highest qso total for June was 143 and the highest QSo total for August was 136.

1937-Field day #5 is announced for June 19th-20th. The FD message bonus was added. The winning qso for this FD was 204 QSO's at a rate of 7.5 qsos/hr.

1938- Field Day period goes from 4 pm Saturday Local time to 6 pm Sunday Local time.

1939- the first rule to include all station apparatus must fall within a 100 ft radius excluding antennas.

1940-The 100' rules is changed to 500'. Home stations are allowed to work FD.

1941- The ARRL inadvertently forces a nationwide start time by notifying the FCC of the Field day period and the FCC communication 73-D references a single start time for all ham stations for Field Day from 4pm EST June 7th to 6pm EST June 8th.

1942-1945 All Ham activity ceases.

1946-Field day returns and adds a VHF only category

1948- 11 meters (now the CB band) is added for a Field Day Band. FD is shortened to 24 hrs. Battery and Emergency power categories are added.

1949- Mobile category added to FD.

1950- The modern day FD classes are established. The circle is increased to 1000'

1951- To encourage home emergency power, a home emergency power class is added Class D while home stations off power mains are class E.

1957- Simultaneous starts return, starts 4 pm EST and ends 4pm PST the next day. Anyone can operate 24 of the 27 operating period. 10,000th ham participates.

1963-ARRL rules that a FD site can only use one callsign.

1968- Setup within the 27 hr period is mandatory and the start time is moved to 1900z. All home stations are moved to Class D.

1969- The setup rule is hugely unpopular so ARRL changes the rule so that if you wait to set up you can operate the whole 27 hrs, otherwise you can only operate 24 hrs of the 27.

1970- A free Novice station is allowed. Starting time is moved to 1800z.

1972- Battery results are listed separately.

1973- Repeater rule is waived for satellite contacts and a 50 point sat bonus is included for the first time.

1974- A 100 point bonus is added for making contacts solely by natural power. 15 minutes rule for band changes is instituted.

1975- the Explosion of SSB leads the ARRL to institute a 2X multiplier for CW contacts.

1976- 10,000 qso mark is broken by W1VV/1

1977- The natural power bonus disappears and techs are now allowed to operate the Novice station. The 2X CW rule becomes permanent.

1980- RST is replaced with category and class for the exchange. Setup time is changed again, nothing can be set up before the 24 hr period. natural power comes back as a 100 point bonus. Sat and FD message bonuses increase to 100 points.

1981- Due to the popularity of packet radio, a 100 point bonus is instituted for one packet QSO and the repeater rules are waived for qso's through a digipeater. The Yankee Clipper Contest Club W2RQ turn in an impressive 11,201 qso total for Field Day.

1984- power multiplier is changed from 200 watts to anything less than 150 watts.

1993- Due to the influx of Technicians, a 100 point bonus is added for making 10 VHF/UHF contacts and a free VHF/UHF station is allowed class A and B.

1994- The modern FD record is set by K6CAB 15A by getting 3450 QRP QSO's for a total score of 30,150

1998- Free packet station and bonus are eliminated, but RTTY/PSK31 are added as a 3rd FD mode. The 100 point bonus for VHF/UHF stations is deleted.

So that is the history of Field Day. We've come a long way Baby!

Credit: December 1999 QST

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dayton Hamfest-The Future????

Inspired by a post on K9ZW's blog , He is having a discussion about the future of Dayton hamfest.

I was going to go to Dayton this year, but due to work issues at the last minute I was not able to attend.

Many of the posters on Steve's blog say that Hara Arena was in bad shape, that the Crowne Plaza (where many of the contesting and dx groups hold their hospitality rooms) was in bad shape.

Should the Dayton hamfest be moved to another city? Has Dayton had its heyday?

Vendors at Dayton this year reported an increase in sales much to everyone's surprise.

Tell me what you think and read Steve's blog as well.

73, Jack K4SAC

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ham radio, and licensing

I was discussing how licensing has changed over the years.

I was 13 years old when I got my first ticket in 1974, I had to drive about a 4 hour drive to Indianapolis, IN to take my exam in front of an FCC examiner. The question pool was secret, you had to have the knowledge, not memorize a bunch of questions. You had to take your morse code test, sending and recieving, they had a machine that had a bunch of head phones attached to it and you listened to the code through the headphones.

You had to get 1 minute of solid copy on your paper.

My Novice ticket if I remember right(it has been a few yrs) was only good for 2 years (originally it was 1 yr) and 75 Watts.

I was limited to xtal control, so I had crystals for a few different frequencies in the 80 and 40 meter band. I would call CQ on one of my xtal frequencies and had to tune my rcvr up and down the band to listen for a reply. Talk about inefficent use of bandspace!

Finally transmitters such as the Heathkit DX60 came out and you could hook a VFO to it and QSY up and down the band. That was so neat, you could actually get calls on the same frequency you transmitted on.

W1AW was my friend as I would listen faithfully to the code practice to get my speed up so I could get my General ticket within the 1 yr timeframe. W4OYI would get on the air and help me also by qsoing me and pushing me on my cw speed.

Finally, I made the trip to Indianapolis and sat for my General and passed it. 13 wpm code...By that time I was copying 20 wpm, but I was so nervous taking the test I barely copied the 13wpm.

Another year went by and I went to take my Advanced exam. That was the hardest written exam I think I have ever taken. It was even harder then my 2nd class Radiotelegraph Commercial ticket I eventually got. I know it was harder than my extra exam. There were tube schematics on it, one of them I remember was a tube type colpitts osciallator!

Then finally I got my Extra ticket. This one I ended up driving to Atlanta Ga and taking it. At that time, at Indianapolis, they would only give the exams like 4 times a year and they weren't giving the Extra in Indianapolis before college started and the only way to get it before I went to college was to drive to Atlanta and take it. By this time I was copying 25 wpm or better, but again in front of that FCC examiner, that 20 wpm sounded a lot faster.

But in those days of FCC examiners, they did have a license you could get sort of like the tests you take now. There was a ham license called the Conditional license. It granted basically the same priviledges as a General license, except you took the exam in front of another ham.

It was originally intended to be for people that had disabilities that prevented them from traveling to take the test in front of an FCC examiner.

This was the precusor to todays VE exams.

Like anything not monitored properly, there were abuses of the Conditional license process which led the FCC to re-examine some Conditional Licensees in front of an FCC examiner and eventually the FCC abolished the Conditional license.

Today the licensing process is totally different.

You no longer have to drive hours away to sit in front of an FCC examiner to get your ham license. The Novice license no longer exists and although some Advanced licensees are still alive once those licensees die out, there will no longer be any Advanced licenses.

Today you can get the Technician, General and Extra. You no longer have to know the code to get a ham license.

Today the license pools are published with the exact questions and answers to the test questions.

Today there are VEC's which accredit examiners and it takes 3 VE's to give tests. The FCC learned from the days of the Conditional that one tester is subject to impropieties, but if you have 3 you are less likely to have abuses of the system.(Although that is not a given as there have been some VE test sessions that have been discredited.)

Even though I have been licensed for 34 years and I am a CW operator, I am not going to sit here and preach that the old way was better. Times have changed and society itself has changed and most of all the focus on ham radio from the FCC's point of view has changed.

What hasnt changed over the years is the fact that the Amateur Radio Service has been a self-policing service and internally we try to correct the abuses we see or hear about. It is up to us as licensees and us Old Timers to not denegrate the new licensees but to teach the proper ways of operation and for us OTers to set the example for the newer licensees to emulate.

But self-policing hasn't been enough and over the years the FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Riley Hollingsworth has been enforcing the Ham Radio rules and you can read the list of enforcement actions that the FCC has taken

We need to continue to be active on the HF bands and especially our VHF and UHF bands, as spectrum allocation is getting very competative and there are certainly many services that would love to take away our frequency allocations. There is big money to be made by the government in frequency allocations and if we as a Amateur service do not make good use of our frequency allocations, then we could possibly look at losing frequencies in the future.

Yes, Ham radio has changed a lot over the years since 1894 when Marconi first sent a wireless radio signal across the English Channel. The Ham radio landscape has changed numerous times and probably will change again.

I can honestly say that Ham radio has given me one of the greatest pleasures in the past 34 years and that I hope it continues to give me pleasure, but also that it continues to flourish.

73, Jack K4SAC

6 Meters

The last few days 6 meters has been opening up like crazy here in EM67.

If you have 6 meters give a listen.....if you have 6 on your radio, but dont have an antenna, you can make a 6 meter dipole and it doesnt take a lot of room.

Click on the link below on instuctions on how to make a 6 meter dipole!


Jack K4SAC

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