Author Archives: Jeff Fuller

VP-2020-08-An amateur radio operator, Yvette Cendes, KB3HTS, at station W8EDU, 2005-Wikipedia

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As 5G and other new commercial wireless systems deploy, competition for scarce radio spectrum will become intense. As stewards of a good chunk of that spectrum, it will be up to hams to justify our allocations. Some are saying that new technology will make our traditional emergency communications role obsolete. So, what else do we bring to the table? How about our long and proud history as a springboard for youngsters who went on to landmark careers as engineers, Nobel Laureates and astronauts? Here are some examples. Edwin H. “Howard” Armstrong, W2XMN 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). He was soon… Read more »

USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), formerly the Horst Wessel and also known as the Barque Eagle, is a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. - Wikipedia

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Hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day as we celebrated our nation’s birthday. August marks another important birthday – that of the U.S. Coast Guard, tasked with protecting our shores from smugglers and terrorists. As we honor that anniversary, here’s a sea story about one of that service’s epic battles. It began 100 years ago this year with the passage of the 18th Amendment.     Popularly known as Prohibition, the new law forbade the import or manufacture of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. Predictable results followed its opening kickoff. British and Canadian distilleries ramped up to full production and the smuggling race was on. Seagoing smugglers loaded up motherships for rendezvous with small speedboats just outside U.S. territorial waters. The Coast Guard’s task was a daunting one. A limited number of cutters had to cover thousands of… Read more »

A local wireless telegraphist operator operating an AWA 3BZ teleradio at Segi Coastwatchers station, British Solomon Islands

VP’s Corner

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June brings sweltering heat to northern Virginia and a chance for hams to adapt to a new version of Field Day. This month’s ham radio history takes us to the steaming heat of the WWII Solomon Islands and the story of a young ham who used every bit of his Field Day skills to keep his gear up and running while reporting on enemy forces and dodging Japanese patrols.               Sydney, Australia native Paul Mason became  interested in amateur radio during his school days, becoming proficient at Morse and building his own transmitter in 1936 [1]. Thanks to his work as a plantation manager before the war, Paul had good knowledge of the Solomons and their inhabitants. His background made Mason a perfect candidate for a program set up by Australian Naval Intelligence in… Read more »

Armed Forces Day

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As we commemorate both Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day this month, lets take a moment to recognize some of the contributions made by our fellow hams in uniform. For this month’s vicarious escape from cabin fever, we’ll explore a fascinating but little covered corner of radio history – the role of Joan and Eleanor in WWII OSS secret agent communications. OSS (Office of Strategic Services) entered service as America’s national intelligence agency during the dark days of WWII on 13 June 1942. In addition to its traditional collection and analysis missions, OSS was responsible for covert action against Axis forces. That meant inserting agents behind the lines in Axis occupied territory to link up with partisan resistance groups. Reliable and secure communications with these groups was essential for receiving their reports, scheduling supply drops, and coordinating their tasking. Deployed… Read more »

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As we hunker down in isolation during the current health crisis, many of us are finding our hobby a welcome way to connect with others. Not surprisingly, the press has reported increased public interest in amateur radio.  And OVH is receiving new membership applications. Looks like some opportunities for online Elmering may be on the way. How about some other activities to distract from cabin fever? Antennas. A traditional spring sport for hams in keeping with that classic quote “If your antenna stayed up last winter, it wasn’t big enough”. Tell us about your latest design, how well it worked and how you managed to hide it from your HOA. Or, how about your wackiest encounter with an HOA.   Exploring new bands. Could we maintain comms across the local area without the repeater? Want to try 6 or 10 meters?… Read more »

Members of the Virginia Defense Force conduct training on multiple communications systems.

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This week we’re experiencing a few days of spring like weather and the ionosphere is teasing us with occasional HF openings into Europe and hopes for an increase in the sunspot number. Speaking of HF, this spring marks another anniversary in radio history. In spring of 1956, Air Force General Curtis LeMay led a flight of several aircraft half way around the world while maintaining continuous HF SSB communications with several Strategic Air Command (SAC) ground stations. Why? As commander of SAC’s newly minted nuclear bomber force, LeMay needed a way to guarantee continuous command and control of his forces. Smaller fuselage designs of faster jet bombers meant smaller crews and no room for a Morse operator. AM’s noise vulnerability and poor talk power weren’t going to hack it. What to do? SSB (single sideband) offers a big improvement in… Read more »

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It seems our recruiting efforts have been paying off with several new members joining the club recently. When you see them at a meeting or club function, please take a minute to introduce yourself and welcome them to OVH. Club recognition has definitely helped our recruiting. So, as spring approaches with Hamfest and other activities, this would be a good time to order your club nametag and polo, if you don’t already have them. Nametags may be ordered from: http://www.thesignman.com/clubs/ovhcart.html I have club polos in stock which can be customized locally with your name and callsign.      Email me your size. This month in radio history … A February 1902 Scientific American article on building a simple wireless station[1]is credited with bringing the first amateur radio to the U.S.[2]               This year’s Virginia QSO Party,… Read more »

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As we enter the new year, I’m reminded of a quote my faculty adviser kept posted on his wall: “We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunity.” Opportunities abound at OVH. Here are some of them for the coming year. How about a position on the OVH leadership team? We’ll put together the slate at this month’s meeting with voting to follow in February. Or, come join your fellow club members in providing event communications for the Mini Triathlons held on the George Mason campus:         Enjoy the beauty of rural Virginia while  supporting a veteran’s charity bike ride.       Help support the club’s annual fund raiser, Manassas  Hamfest. Join us for the next Hamfest.  Planning Committee meeting on January 28th.                 Want to learn more about the microwave mesh… Read more »

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