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11
votes
3answers
2k views

What does the spark-gap do in a spark-gap transmitter?

I read the Wikipedia article about spark-gap transmitters and I have to admit that I’m even more confused as to what the spark-gap actually did. The article references this simplified circuit ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

What does a SSB frequency actually indicate?

An SSB signal is an AM signal with the carrier and other sideband filtered out, if I understand correctly. As such, when specifying an SSB frequency do you specify the carrier frequency, then state ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why would you need a signal generator to receive early satellite transmissions?

I recently watched, on You Tube, a NOVA program about the British school masters and students who were the first to publish the news that the Soviets had started launching satellites from a new launch ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

How to do APRS in real wilderness?

I'm a relatively new ham (licensed a couple of years ago, occasional activity on 70cm and 2m, mostly repeaters). I'm looking to extend my ham experience and am interested in digital and packet modes. ...
11
votes
3answers
197 views

What skills will I learn from contesting?

I got into Amateur Radio for emergency preparation and to allow me to expand my electronics hobby. My needs are being met, but I'm wondering if I'm missing out on increasing my skills by avoiding ...
11
votes
2answers
270 views

Why do satellites receive and transmit on different bands?

Most satellites I've found transmit on VHF and receive on UHF or vice versa. Why is this? I would think there's enough space on a single band.
11
votes
1answer
5k views

What do the three-letter modulation codes (emission designators) stand for?

I've seen these weird three-letter modulation codes like J3E, A3F, A1A, F3E and so on. Someone even wrote 2K40J3E or 12K5F3E. What do these codes stand for?
11
votes
5answers
3k views

What is an antenna tuner? Why bother with resonant antennas in the first place?

There are a lot of antenna tuners on the market that have various capabilities in terms of how they can allow random radiators to work with our transceivers. What exactly do they do? My ...
11
votes
3answers
9k views

Bandwidth of a CW signal?

What is the RF bandwidth of a typical CW signal? How is the signal bandwidth affected by WPM and/or transmitter rise-time? What is the narrowest bandwidth that can still be copied by a human? Or ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the advantage of making an antenna resonant?

I am constructing a small loop antenna; apprx 4' diameter, will be used with an antenna tuner (mounted at the feedpoint) and 100W transmitter, and hope to use it on 20m, 40m, and maybe other bands if ...
11
votes
6answers
576 views

Key CW on zero crossings - zero bandwidth?

I remember being surprised to learn that a CW signal has a bandwidth (albeit small), but when I thought it over, it made sense. Essentially, we are modulating the carrier with a low frequency square ...
11
votes
3answers
5k views

How is “clarifier” control helpful?

My radio-club recently got a Yaesu FT-225RD transceiver and I'm trying to digest its manual (available for download here). This is the first ham radio that I'm learning how to use, so I could be ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Does iron ore in the ground affect my signal?

Mineral content in the ground varies from one place to another. I've visited places where the ground & waters were an orange-red shade from the high iron content; not good for trees either. This ...
11
votes
2answers
762 views

Why is an exemption for music given to NASA broadcasts of manned space flight missions?

FCC 97.113 Prohibited transmissions reads: (e) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Is “low loss” cable required for HF?

I use RG-58 for all my HF antennas, since it's light, flexible, convenient, and cheap. And super easy to choke. Whenever I have a problem I just loop a few turns of it on a ferrite core and the ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Why say “break” and “over” on walkie-talkies instead of an automatic chirp?

My understanding of why movie characters say "break" and "over" during radio conversations is based on this answer, which says that people using half-duplex devices often will want to let others on ...
11
votes
1answer
378 views

Why does the FCC put restrictions on symbol rates?

This answer claims that Mostly, on HF, the FCC has chosen to limit modes of transmission and symbol rates rather than bandwidth Why does the FCC limit symbol rates?
11
votes
2answers
5k views

How do I renew my FCC amateur license?

I have a technician class license, and my license expires in March 2014. How do I renew my license? I received a notification in the mail from W5YI-VEC informing me that I could renew my license ...
11
votes
1answer
465 views

Dominant speeds of Morse Communications

5 wpm is easy to learn and better than nothing in emergency. Speed Morse Coding is fine for "sport competition" I am trying to find out which is the typical speed for what I call "conversation" and ...
11
votes
1answer
768 views

How can I calculate the effects of an LNA, antenna gain, etc. on noise performance?

There are many things I might do enable my station to hear weaker signals that would otherwise be buried in noise. Just a few possibilities: Install a nice LNA Increase antenna gain Reduce feedline ...
11
votes
1answer
655 views

Tuning a wire antenna by folding

Last weekend we tuned a quad loop for 80 m and 40 m. Instead of cropping, we folded the isolated wire using cable ties as shown in the picture below. After folding several quite large sections of the ...
11
votes
5answers
23k views

Should I ground my radio to the chassis or battery for a mobile install?

From what I've seen, there are generally two ways to power a mobile radio: Positive lead to battery, negative lead grounded to chassis Both positive and negative leads to battery I know that ...
11
votes
1answer
952 views

How can I participate on Echolink with my Android phone?

I want to use my Android mobile phone to send and receive over Echolink, like if I was using an amateur radio station. How can I do that? I'm a SWL and only plan to listen until I get my license, and ...
11
votes
2answers
366 views

What would propagation look like on Mars?

If we could get a few HF stations on Mars, what would the propagation look like? Thought shamelessly copied from this blog.
11
votes
6answers
2k views

While backpacking, is it worth mounting the antenna to the backpack frame (above my head)?

I am planning a trip with a large group in 6 weeks. We will be spread out in small groups on a trail in a mostly desert plateau landscape perhaps 5 miles apart, but mostly in a straight line. I'm new ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Where can I find the official definition of ITU Zones?

I've been looking around for a spot that has the official definition of what the various ITU Zones are, but can't find one. What is the official definition? I'm hoping for more than just a map, unless ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

How does VHF/UHF propagate beyond the expected (radio) horizon?

I am not asking about the fairly well-known effect of the earth "appearing less curved to radio waves" that are otherwise still essentially line-of-sight, but a deeper arcanum: In the ARRL Antenna ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does “high SWR” damage transmitters, instead of “impedance mismatch”?

In the audio realm, where cable lengths are insignificant compared to the signal wavelength, I would understand an impedance mismatch damaging an amplifier as follows: Take an audio amplifier that ...
11
votes
4answers
505 views

Is there a convention for SSB frequency selection?

I know that the amateur bands are not channelized. I know that anyone can pick an arbitrary frequency and they're not wrong, and you are not obligated to have a calibrated VFO. But if everyone picks ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

When is APRS use considered commercial?

I've heard that APRS is only allowed for non-commercial use. I was thinking of a building a weather station that uploads data via APRS (so far, non-commercial). If I then include data from that ...
11
votes
1answer
174 views

Is there a special name (and if so what is it) for this flush-style SMA variant?

I have some radios that have a special antenna connector. It looks like an SMA connector, but the dielectric is flush with the end of the connector: rather than recessed the way "normal" SMA ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Is FM modulation still more resistant to noise when given the same bandwidth as an AM signal?

FM modulated radio is much more resistant to noise and can deliver better sound quality than AM radio. But FM signals also use more bandwidth than AM signals. In general a wider bandwidth signal is ...
10
votes
3answers
9k views

Are Baofeng radios illegal in the U.S?

Having a low price budget, my search for my first ham radio to buy has led me towards Baofeng. A quick Google search on baofeng showed a lot of results that said that certain model baofeng handhelds ...
10
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it legal for a non-profit to use ham radios for emergency purposes?

I've been tasked to help update my organization's emergency contingencies and ham radios were brought up. We provide residential services to the mentally handicapped and we are looking at ways to make ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Non-traceable radio emitters

There are various techniques for locating a radio emitter. But what are some methods to make this really difficult? There is usually a patch to every vulnerability, at least from the world where I ...
10
votes
3answers
498 views

Why does ARRL license examination procedure preclude students from discovering what questions they got wrong on licensing tests

I got my Amateur Extra ticket some time ago. I was able to discover what my score was (the number of questions I got wrong). However, my examiner was not able to tell me specifically which questions I ...
10
votes
7answers
9k views

What is the impedance of an end-fed half-wave antenna?

It is my understanding that the feed-point impedance ($Z_a$) of an end-fed half-wave antenna is dependent on at least the following factors: $L_a$: The length of the radiating element of the antenna. ...
10
votes
4answers
415 views

Is use of the phonetic alphabet mandatory?

The phonetic alphabet is often used on amateur radio to spell out names and callsigns more clearly, especially when the clarity may be poorer. However, there are cases where I simply forget certain ...
10
votes
5answers
501 views

Does an amateur radio licence work worldwide? [closed]

Lets say that I get my amateur radio license in country A and then some time later I move to country B. Will I need to get a new license on country B or does the license obtained in country A works ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

How did hams manage to tune their antennas before VSWR meters?

In the early 20th century --back when the hobby was still new-- before VSWR meters and antenna analyzers were invented, how did radio operators know whether they were tuned for maximum power out? ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Can every antenna be used both for transmit and receive?

Assuming I have an antenna for receiving GPS signals, can I use it also for transmit — to create a repeater in a tunnel (or some place with no reception)?
10
votes
4answers
8k views

Operating proceedures: testing an HT against a repeater?

Assuming proper licensing for the frequency, what is the proper operating procedure to test whether an HT works and is within range of a (documented as open, 2M or 440) club repeater? Should one wait ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Can a 1:1 transformer be used as a protection from static electricity?

It's well-known that under certain conditions verticals and dipoles can gather static charge, which is a common reason of transceiver damage. There are several ways to solve this issue. Some hams ...
10
votes
8answers
6k views

What is the best time of day/Band to make a contact with Hawaii from the East Coast?

I need to get Hawaii for Worked All States, and live on the East Coast (Virginia). Furthermore, I have a poor antenna, and thus only the prime times of the day seem to really be opened for me. What ...
10
votes
2answers
429 views

What is the decimal in Morse Code?

The ITU's International Morse Code recommendation ITU-R M.1677-1 specifies a "Full stop (period)" as ".−.−.−", however it falls short of specifying a decimal point. Even the examples, though they ...
10
votes
2answers
326 views

Full UK license visiting US: Can I use frequencies in US but not UK license?

E.g.: 7.2-7.3MHz are Region 2 but not Region 1. My license is "from" Region 1. 1.25 meter band is not available in the UK Operating from aircraft is not permitted in the UK. Would it be if I visited ...
10
votes
1answer
810 views

Faraday cage in Microwave oven

If I put my mobile phone in my microwave oven and close its door, Should I be able to get incoming calls ? Because, I tried it and I was able to get calls, what does it mean? Does my microwave oven ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What kind of antenna has a spiral connected to a reflector like this picture?

The description on the antenna says it is used for satellite communication, but it was taken in 1984. Is this an antenna style that is still in use? What is it called? What kind of gain should be ...
10
votes
3answers
853 views

Why are germanium diodes specified in amateur radio designs?

It's somewhat common to find a schematic that calls for a germanium diode in amateur radio contexts. For example: This is a QSK circuit from the Fldigi manual. And yet, purchasing a germanium diode ...
10
votes
5answers
5k views

Grounding a second-story shack with an outdoor antenna

My shack is on a second story, really far away from the house ground. To run a ground from my equipment to the outside/ground is a run of at least 60-75 feet. The antenna is at least 100 feet away as ...

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