Friday, September 12, 2014

Weathering the (Solar) Storm

DUCK!
Those of you working HF are obviously looking for something to do. Band conditions are lousy for the moment as the sun has blasted some charged particles our way, rendering HF propagation into so much hash & static. Oh well...
Goes to show... unless you're a Ham Operator, or read stuff on the internet, you'd more likely never know that the planet is awash in a direct stream of solar flux. But by breathless accounts from the popular press, we should all be hanging on for dear life as the sun has sent a tremendous cloud of plasma our way. Funny... can't tell it from looking outside that's for sure.
So while waiting for the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) to get back to normal here's a look back at some of the most noteworthy solar storms Earth has had to deal with since... when someone started following such things... (Article courtesy of Space.com)
1859: The Carrington Event
The Carrington Event of 1859 was the first documented event of a solar flare impacting Earth. The event occurred at 11:18 a.m. EDT on Sept. 1 and is named after Richard Carrington, the solar astronomer who witnessed the event through his private observatory telescope and sketched the sun's sunspots at the time. The flare was the largest documented solar storm in the last 500 years, NASA scientists have said.
According to NOAA, the Carrington solar storm event sparked major aurora displays that were visible as far south as the Caribbean. It also caused severe interruptions in global telegraph communications, even shocking some telegraph operators and sparking fires when discharges from the lines ignited telegraph paper, according to a NASA description.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

goTenna™ set to boldly take your smartphone where "no signal" has gone before

An ambitious startup hopes to expand the functionality of smartphones everywhere, solving common limitations to cellular service. It's often a problem in crowds, remote locations, or during power outages...cellular phone service is interrupted, a maddening circumstance, especially when the need to communicate can be particularly vital. But a new device, aiming to be available late this year, may fill the "no signal" gap by offering point to point communications with other similarly equipped smartphones nearby.
The patent pending goTenna™ is a 2 watt two-way radio, operating on the 151-154 MURS band, linking via bluetooth to your smartphone, and broadcasting your signal to other goTenna™ equipped smartphones. The device is currently undergoing compliance testing with the FCC. If accepted, it should be on the market by Christmas.
The device will be sold in pairs so two different smartphones can communicate, with an effective range of up to a half mile in typical urban settings, further in open terrain. goTenna™ promises to solve many of the common problems associated with current cellular systems by eliminating the need for cell towers, wifi, or satellite to communicate from one phone to another.

Learn more about goTenna™ or even pre-order your own set, on their website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BaoFeng Adds 8 Watt Handheld Radio to Lineup

Chinese Electronics Manufacturer Baofeng(Pofung), is offering a new dual band handheld radio, with more transmit power, a new generation chipset, compatibility with existing battery options, and clearer, more understandable instructional documentation.

John Miklor, with his Miklor.com's website, has been an invaluable web resource on all things Baofeng, and has good things to say in his initial review of this newest model in the Baofeng Radio lineup.  "Looks like a New Model BF-F8HP is a true 8 watt handheld. It appears Baofeng/Pofung is listening and moving in the proper direction."

The Chinese Electronics Manufacturer has taken the US domestic Ham Radio market by storm, offering a line of inexpensive handheld 2 meter & 70CM radios based upon SDR technology, taking a domestic business band radio & adapting it for US Amateur Radio use. Baofeng's UV-3, UV-5R & it's variants, are leading the wave in sales of affordable handheld radios, popular not just with Hams, but with the survivalist & prepping movement in the US & abroad. 
Some of the features of the BF-F8HP radio are:
- Tri-Power (1, 4, and 8 watt) 
- New 2nd Generation chipset
- DTMF keypad issue finally resolved (ABCD is actually ABCD)
- Compatible with AA and 3800mAh battery packs
- 76 Page User Guide
- CHIRP software compatible
The Miklor.com review shows actual side-by-side power level tests between UV5R, UV82, BFF8+, and F8HP performed using a calibrated Telewave 44A. READ FULL REVIEW HERE
Currently the BF-F8HP is available through Baofeng Tech on Amazon.com.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ham Radio: An "Old" Technology is a Lifesaver in the Emergency Field

Article by Kara Tarantino / Georgia Health News

Like a black-and-white movie, ham radio may evoke an image of how people communicated in the old days. In fact, Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, who died this month at 93, starred in a classic film as a teenager in which ham radio was a key plot device.
But ask someone in emergency management about ham radio, and you’ll find that this medium of communication is anything but outdated. In recent years, recognition of its importance has actually increased.
A case in point occurred in March 2008, when thousands of people were attending the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament in downtown Atlanta, and thousands more were at various venues nearby as a  tornado struck, cutting a path of destruction through the heart of Georgia’s capital city.
Unbeknownst to many, a lone amateur radio operator, using only a hand-held radio, called “CQ, CQ” — the ham radio code that signified he was reaching out to whatever stations could hear him. He hoped to alert any station on the air that he was located in the worst of the storm-affected area and needed help.
Barry Kanne, an active ham radio operator, and an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteer, happened to be listening to the main ham radio weather channel as the storm hit. He responded to the CQ call. Immediately, an ad hoc emergency net between the two operators was established. Soon other stations joined in to report storm damage. (READ MORE)
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