Author Archives: Jeff Fuller

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The approaching holiday season and year’s end are traditionally a time for reflection and giving thanks for our many blessings. This Veterans Day, let’s take a moment to express thanks to our veterans – the young ones who are in harm’s way today defending our freedoms, and those who have gone before, sometimes giving all.   I know my fellow vets and I have had those occasional days when we felt like just a small cog in a big machine and wondered if we were making a difference. In honor of Veterans Day, here’s a story about a young service member who made a difference by using his ham radio skills as a springboard to help create one of America’s WWII war winning capabilities. Young Radioman Harry Kidder took an interest in ham radio while stationed with the U.S. Navy… Read more »

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Cooler temperatures of fall will soon be here and, along with them, the beginning of the holiday season. I’m sure your family, like mine, has some holiday traditions which have been passed down over the years. We carry them on, not necessarily for practical reasons, but as a means of bonding and connecting with past generations. Learning to communicate using Morse code or CW is one such tradition in the amateur radio community. I’m happy to see several of our new hams accepting the challenge. Here are some interesting Morse factoids to encourage you in your studies. Q. Why do hams call it CW? A. CW stands for Continuous Wave, meaning a sine wave produced by an electronic oscillator. The first radio signals from spark transmitters were damped waves occupying lots of spectrum. Q. Was the original Morse code the… Read more »

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As we begin National Preparedness Month, Hurricane Dorian devastates much of the Bahamas and begins its sweep up the east coast of the U.S. Fortunately, it looks like northern Virginia will escape most of its wrath. We may not be as lucky next time. Now is a good time to check your emergency supplies. Do you have enough food and water for you and your family to last several days? You can find information about recommended emergency kit contents at https://www.ready.gov In addition to the damage caused by their high winds and wind driven water, hurricanes often spawn tornadoes and systems of violent thunderstorms extending many miles inland from the eye. The resulting power outages can last for days. Do you have backup power for your radios and essential items? If you plan to rely on batteries, please be sure… Read more »

Amateur radio in Antarctica during the winter of 1956.

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With the event filled months behind us, we slide into the slower days of summer and a sweltering heat wave. HF propagation is at its worst in many years. If the low sunspot blues have you down, check out six meters. There have been a number of afternoon sporadic E openings as far as the midwest and southern Florida. Time for a virtual cool down as we explore the exceptional contributions of a young ham named Art to several polar expeditions and to the field of HF radio communications. Born in 1909, Art took an early interest in emerging wireless technology. Licensed at the age of 14, he assembled his own station in the attic of his family’s midwestern home. Art first gained the attention of polar explorers during the McMillan expedition to Greenland in 1925. Knowledge of propagation was… Read more »

OSCAR 1

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June was quite a busy month for the club. In a span of two weeks we managed to cover the Warrior Bike charity event, Hamfest, Field Day, and a MiniTri – flawlessly. Well done Team OVH! In addition to celebrating our nation’s independence, this July marks another important anniversary – the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. As a youngster I can remember being awestruck by those first TV pictures from the moon. It wasn’t until a few years later while pursuing a technical degree that I began to appreciate just how daunting a task the communications link design for the Apollo missions was. Among the challenges: – A path loss of over 200db ruled out the VHF communications used on earlier missions. A special S-Band (2GHz)radio and deployable parabolic antenna had to be developed to link… Read more »

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June is shaping up to be a busy month for club activities. We’ll have Hamfest, Field Day, and the Warrior Bike for the SOWW veterans charity. Speaking of veterans, this month also marks another milestone, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Normandy. Imagine what it must to have been like to maintain radio communications during the utter chaos as the first waves hit the beaches. Lets take a look at two radios which played an important role in bringing tactical comms to D-Day. U.S. ground forces found themselves on the eve of WWII with large HF manual Morse radios for headquarters elements, but nothing portable enough for the company or squad level. After several R&D efforts, the winning bid went to Galvin Industries, a manufacturer of car and police radios. Galvin’s design, the SCR-536, became the first production… Read more »

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As we celebrate Armed Forces Day this month, lets take a moment to recognize some of the contributions made by our fellow hams in uniform. This column, I’d like to recognize Edwin H. “Howard” Armstrong, W2XMN, whose contributions helped to forge the foundation for much of today’s radio communications technology. Armstrong grew up in suburban New York at the turn of the century and was fascinated by wireless technology. By age 14 he had filled his bedroom with wireless gear and erected a 125 foot antenna on his parents property (no HOAs in those days)[1] He was soon accepted at Columbia University where he received his electrical engineering degree in 1913.   America entered WWI shortly after his graduation and Armstrong joined the Army. Sent to France as a Signal Corps officer, he was tasked with improving short wave (<… Read more »

(Adapted from xkcd.com)

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Soon spring will be here, birds will be singing, and a young ham’s fancy turns to … antennas. Yes, as part of spring cleaning, now is a good time to check your RF plumbing or maybe think about expanding your antenna farm (cover your ears Pinkie …) A popular ham radio saying: “If your antenna stayed up last winter, it wasn’t big enough. After that last storm, I’ve determined that mine was big enough … Want to brush up on your antenna theory? Learn something new about gain, polarization, or baluns? Then our latest additions to the OVH lending library (right)are for you. W1CRO donated several copies of each to the club. Thanks Art! I’ll bring them to the meetings where they’ll be available for check out. How about something a little more hands on – like a simple mobile or… Read more »

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