Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Move to new Blog

I have officially moved my blog to my new home,

Please update your links and please follow me to my new home!

73, Jack K4SAC

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have been absent for a few days....I have been working on a new version of this blog.

Check it out at

Please let me know what you think of the new blog, it is still a work in progress.

I will post when I actually move over full time to the new blog.

73, Jack K4SAC

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Software review:N1MM part two

The last installment, I talked about the N1MM entry window and some of the features of N1MM.

Today I am going to go a little deeper and explain some of the features. I am going to break this review into bite sized pieces so that you dont get bored reading a bunch of stuff at one sitting.

Last entry, I talked about a bandmap feature, N1MM has a bandmap feature that if you are connected to a dx cluster, you can actually see the stations that are spotted along a bandmap of your VFO.

As you can see the dx cluster has populated the bandmap with the calls that have been posted to the cluster. Calls in red are new multipliers. You can hold your mouse over one of the spots and you can see more information.

You can zoom in and out on the bandmap using the [+] and [-] keys. If you click on a callsign, if you have your radio interfaced, your radio will automatically go to that frequency and populate the entry window with the call of that station.

When you complete a QSO and tune off the frequency – the spot’s color code turns to grey, so that you know at a glance that you have worked the station already, and won’t waste time when you come back to that frequency again.

You may say, I don't use packet or dx clusters....well the bandmap is STILL useful. As you S&P your way up and down the band, each station you’ve worked will be marked with a grey self-spot, so you can skip by them the next time even if you have no packet spots.

Right clicking on the band map gives you other options as well

To read more about N1MM's software, please check out

Credit: N1MM Quick Start Guide

Monday, July 07, 2008

Software review: N1MM Logger part one

This is a review of the freeware contest logging program N1MM.

This is the program I use here at K4SAC for contest logging.

I wanted to do a review on this program, but it is so full featured and robust, you just cant do it in one review. So I am going to break this review up into several chunks.

N1MM logger is one of a few contest logging programs that embrace SO2R/SO2V operation.

The N1MM Logger is a freeware program designed to do contest logging and some general logging. It is not a general logging program with award tracking etc. but is mainly a contest logging program to use with a lot of different supported contests.

There are many features found on the N1MM logger.
1) Digital Voice Keying
2) Automatic CW generation
3) RTTY support (uses the MMTTY engine)
4) PSK31 and PSK 63 support
5) bandmaps
6)packet window
7)beam heading and sunrise/sunset
8)Check partial
9)Multiplier window
10)telnet support
11)winkey support
12)SO2R/SO2V support
13)statisical reports
14)greyline program
and many other features....

The meat and potatoes of this program is the log entry window.

Below is a screenshot of the log entry window

As you can see the entry wndow is jampacked with information
As you type in the call of the station you are working, you see the bearing, the milage, and the long path at the bottom of the entry window

The color of the station callsign tells you what kind of multiplier it is.
If the callsign is RED, it is a Single Multiplier Example: CQWW - qso is either zone or country multiplier (one multipliers)

If the callsign is Green, it is a Double or better Multiplier Example: CQWW - qso is a zone and a country multiplier (two multipliers)

If the callsign is Blue it is a new contact.

If the callsign is GREY, it is a Dupe contact or an unworkable station in a non-workable country. This means that you don't need this station because he is a dupe or you are not even 'allowed' to work him in this contest according the contest rules.

You may notice the 2 colored dots right below the Callsign box. Those are to tell you which had RX(recieve) and TX(transmit) focus. Green dot/LED - This VFO/Radio has receive (RX) and keyboard focus. RX and keyboard focus are always together. Red dot/LED - This VFO/Radio has transmit (TX) focus

(Run/S&P) designators are shown. Ru means the station is in running mode, and SP means the station is in S&P mode

At the very bottom you will see the status bar. This information on the left is country, zone, and continent. The middle is QSO's/Multipliers/Zones and the right is the Current score.

Now you may be reading all this and think it is confusing. Once you actually install it and start playing with it, you will find that this program is fairly intuitive and easy to lean. Yes there are a ton of features that take time to learn, but for a small pistol contestor you can get by without 99% of the stuff and just use the program in its basic form.

Bug fixes come fairly fast as there is a Yahoo group that the developers monitor and respond rather quickly.

Stay tuned for part two of this review......

You can find out more by visiting

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July

As a former Air Force soldier, I just would like to take a minute on this holiday to recognize all of the brave soldiers that we have, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines that stand up for us each day and protect our freedoms.

From the Revolutionary War to Present day Iraq, Americans have been able to depend on our soldiers to protect our freedoms for which was fought for.

The brave women and men of our armed forces need our support and our gratitude as they continue to carry on their missions.

Not only do they deserve and need our support while they are in the service, they deserve and need our support after they leave the service and return to civilian life.

Today, if you see a soldier, stand up and thank him/her for their service to their country.

May God bless you all and enjoy your 4th of July.

73, Jack K4SAC

Radio shack power supply recall

From the shortwave yahoo group:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

July 2, 2008
Release #08-319

Firm's Recall Hotline: (800) 843-7422
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

RadioShack Recalls Power Supplies Due to Electrocution and Fire Hazards

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall
of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: 13.8V DC Power Supplies

Units: About 160,000

Importer: RadioShack Corp., of Fort Worth, Texas

Hazard: The recalled power supplies are wired incorrectly, posing electrocution and fire hazards.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recall involves RadioShack 13.8V DC Power Supplies, catalog numbers 22-507 and 22-508 with date codes from 08A04 through 01A08.

Date code format is MMAYY where MM is the month and YY is the year. The catalog number and date code are located on the back of the power supply.
Power Supplies with a green dot on the product and the product's packaging have already been repaired and are not included in the recall.

Sold at: RadioShack stores nationwide from October 2004 through January 2008 for between $50 and $85.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should unplug the recalled power supply immediately and take it to any RadioShack store for a free repair. Registered owners of the recalled power supplies will be mailed a notice.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact RadioShack at 800-843-7422 anytime, or visit the firm's website at:
To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:


Thursday, July 03, 2008

What a diverse hobby we have to enjoy

As ham radio operators, we enjoy a diverse range of different things that we can participate in within our hobby.

Contesting, DX'ing, CW, SSB, VHF, UHF, Satellite, County Hunting, DXCC, SSTV, PSK31, IRLP, and RTTY are all different facets of this wonderful hobby that we can partake in.

Each of us have a favorite mode or part of the hobby that we focus on, and we tend to forget that there is this wonderful range of options that we have.

A good analogy to this is the world's population. We have Caucasian, African-American, Latin, Asian, Europeon, and Arab races just to name a few. In today's world we have to be more tolerant of race and culture because we have a worldwide culture now. Bias and ignorance have no place in today's world wide society.

As hams, we need to be more tolerant of fellow hams that practice different modes than what we like. Myself, I focus on contesting, dxing, and cw. Even though I focus on those areas, I do not belittle those hams that enjoy their own aspects of ham radio. I feel that we need to have people that enjoy all these different aspects of ham radio, that those different areas help keep the hobby alive and people interested.

As a long time ham, I have been a CW operator since 1974. When no-code was proposed, there was a roar of disgust from the ham populace and a bias against no-coders. Eventually that has died down, although some hams are still biased, the majority of the ham populace has come to accept, if not embrace, the new hams.

It should not surprise me though, that some of the new hams themselves would harbor their own biases.

I wrote about the History of Field Day in a blog post here

In the town I live in, there was 3 different Field Day operations.

The FD operation I participated in, the 4 of us, was with a dx'ing and contest group (KY Indiana DX Association) and our focus is contesting. We do the 160 contests, and usually play in the SS contest but we focus on FD each year the past few years.

The other groups were casual operations, which is perfectly fine and fulfills the needs of those operators. Some people just want to get together for the companionship and the cameraderie and that is a wonderful thing if that is what all the operators want to do.

Some people view FD as a test of their emergency equipment and a test of their endurance and skill sets. If a group of people are focused on that as a group, that is certainly fine as well.

The point is, that there is something in FD for everyone, whether you are a casual operator, or a hard core operator or somewhere in between.

Later on after FD was over, on the local 2 meter repeater, there was some of the new hams that were rag chewing and talking about the different operations. The point was made that FD should be a casual operation and be about the fellowship and comraderie of being together and that working FD like a contest is not what it is about.

As I listened, I couldnt help but think about the biases we see all too often in ham radio and it just isnt the bias of the older operators either.....

Rag Chewers hate Contesters or Traffic Handlers hate Contesters, or DX'ers hate List Operations, or PSK31/RTTY ops hate AMTOR/PACTOR stations, or SSB operators hate AM operators, No-Code vs CW .......repeater operators hate IRLP, etc etc etc.

The fight for frequency spectrum continues to grow. Our frequency allocations could be a very rich bankroll for the FCC if they ever decided to auction off our frequencies.

As hams, we need to put aside our internal biases and learn to work together and co-exist in harmony, because if we don't, and we don't increase our numbers, we may find that our valuable frequecy bands will be put up for sale to the highest bidder.........

73, Jack K4SAC

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ARRL wins versus BPL and FCC???

On October 23rd, 2007, The ARRL argued case # 06-1343 at the United Stated Court of Appeals (District of Columbia district) on the FCC's handling of the BPL issue.

On April 25th, 2008 the Court ruled on the matter.

According to the ruling found here (Adobe acrobat reader required) the ARRL met the burden of proof that the " FCC failed to satisfy the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative
Procedure Act (“APA”) by redacting studies on which it relied in promulgating the rule and failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its choice of the extrapolation factor for measuring Access BPL emissions."

At issue here was the long standing tradition by the FCC that unlicensed operators must not cause harmful interference to licensed operations (Part 15 operations) , i.e. that a unlicensed device must not cause harmful interference, and if found to cause interference, that unlicensed operator must cease operation.

The second point at issue here was that the FCC relied on a study, which was redacted when released to the public, to remove possibly contrary evidence to the conclusion that the FCC wanted to reach.

The FCC stated that it relied on it study to reach its conclusions and when the ARRL filed a FOIA request to see the data, the FCC denied that request. The ARRL filed a second FOIA request, then at that point the FCC released the redacted studies.

The ARRL then petitioned the Court to review on 4 points
1) That the FCC went against 70 years of precedent by using Section 302 to rule that unlicensed stations could cause harmful interference to licensed stations within limits
2) The studies that the FCC relied on were not released to the public in unredacted for, thus violating the APA (Administrative Procedure Act)
3) That the FCC's 40 db per decade decay assumption was flawed in citing what was "harmful interference'
4) That the FCC failed to consider locating BPL devices between 30-50MHZ to mitigate harmful interference.

Basically the Court in favor of the league on (2) and (3), remanding the rule back to the FCC.

Credit: US Appeals Court and ARRL

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