Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Secret Life of Machines: Radio

There's a story behind these magical devices we use for sending information wirelessly. One of the best "How To" Tv Series from the 80's, "The Secret Life of Machines" gave a very practical explanation of Radio Theory, and a humorous history of early radio. Take a break & learn something here...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Portable HF Antenna as Adaptable as a Chameleon

The focus on communications under field conditions often involve UHF/VHF handheld radios, good for tactical point to point close contact. But to reach over the horizon, an HF Radio is the meat & potatoes for that communication task.
Modern ham radio boasts HF gear fitting in a backpack with globe spanning reach, however when the rubber meets the road, it's the antenna that far often makes the difference in making the radio do it's thing.
This is where Chameleon Antennas comes in. The Newport Beach based manufacturer has hit great strides in offering top quality, highly efficient and highly configurable field antenna systems perfect for emergency, space restrictive, and stealth operations.

Chameleon Antennas newest, the CHA HYBRID-MICRO is all that in spades.

The CHA HYBRID-MICRO is a lightweight highly portable broadband antenna system, designed to offer maximum portability and performance. The antenna weights about 1 lb. The antenna will operate at all frequencies in the 1.8-54 MHz band without any adjustment with most modern external antenna tuners. No masts or guying are required. The antenna will work successfully supported by trees, masts, the tops of vehicles or any convenient object or structure. The antenna works most effectively when elevated at a reasonable height. Like it's lizard namesake, the Chameleon, the antenna can be configured to adapt to it's surroundings.
The number of different antenna configurations is impressive!
To operate on the High Frequency Amateur Radio Bands, you must be licensed with a higher than Technician Class license. However it is easy to learn enough radio theory to pass. It is no longer a requirement to know morse code to get licensed, and armed with a General Class Ham License, you can be granted permission to operate on 90% of the world-wide HF bands.
With only a 12 volt battery, a low-power HF portable radio, and a wire antenna like the Chameleon CHA Hybrid-Micro, you can easily make contact over the horizon, beyond a disaster area, or around the world.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weathering the (Solar) Storm

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
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.
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