Monthly Archives: October 2011

Brass Pounder's League – so close…

About half way through the month of October I realized that I might have a chance to hit the five hundred message mark to qualify for the ARRL’s Brass Pounder’s League.  As the liaison from Virginia to 4RN and sometimes from 4RN to EAN I have the potential to move some traffic.  Add in my NTSD station and we’re talking message central here.  And since new ra-day started a few hours ago here’s how I faired:


For those that don’t know O stands for messages originated, R stands for messages received, S stands for messages sent, and D stands for messages delivered.  T is just the total of all messages handled.  Unfortunately I was twelve messages short of the required 500.

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make the 500 message mark but 488 is a lot of messages!  And I’m not giving up, either.  I effectively have this entire month to try to do it all over again!  Hopefully I’ll have more trips to EAN with more traffic and hopefully band conditions will improve from my station to the rest of fourth region (VA to FL).

CW Opportunties for Fun

I friend of mine recently tested for the Technician-class Amateur Radio license and passed without trouble.  Not that this is surprising given his history in the communications world (fricken helium atom, Sir).  What I find neat is his style of operating as a newly licensed ham.  I remember when I received my Technician license all I wanted to do was talk on the local repeaters and meet people that were around town.  This guy I *think* owns an HT but has been sucked down to the bowls of 40 meters ever since receiving his ticket.  The Novice portion of the band never looked better to him.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to meet him up on the air.  It’s not for him trying, however.  He noted in a recent message that he is QRV beginning when he walks in the door from work and then again for a couple of hours starting at 8PM.  I, on the other hand, am usually pulling myself out of the office/radio room during those times.  I do plan, however, to make a sched for later this week.

In the mean time I thought I’d send him a couple of resources that he might find useful.  And if he might find it useful then I’m sure others might as well so I’ll just post here.

Clubs and Organizations

  • Straight Key Century Club – When I met W8DEA on the radio back in December of 2010 he pointed me to this group.  Free to join and participate, this club encourages folks to get on the air and have fun (using a straight or other manually operated key).  I highly recommend not only joining the group but participating with the group.
  • The International Morse Preservation Society – Also known as FISTS is one of the older groups of Morse enthusiasts that have a presence around the world.  Similar to SKCC, they have contests and other activities getting people on the air using their skills.

Local Nets

  • Carolinas Slow Net – Meeting every night at 8PM (ET) on 3571 kHz, this net is great for those just getting into CW and needing a little help finding their feet.  This net is also a NTS-affiliated net and traffic is passed.
  • Carolinas Net – Early – Meeting every night at 7PM (ET) on 3573 kHz, this net facilitates traffic flowing from North Carolina and South Carolina to the 4RN net.  This net is advertised as running 20 to 22 WPM.
  • Carolinas Net – Late – This net is a partner to the Carolinas Net – Early.  The Late net meets to distribute traffic coming from the EAN and 4RN nets.  The Late net meets at 10PM (ET) on 3573 kHz.
  • Virginia Net Early (VNE) – This net meets at 7PM (ET) on 3578.5 kHz to pass traffic throughout Virginia and to the 4RN net.

Other neat stuff

  • Maritime Radio Historical Society – I’d be holding back if I didn’t give some credit to one of the groups that really spurred me on to working on my fist.  The guys (and gals) at KPH/KSM/K6KPH really know how to excite the atmosphere and my receiver.

This is a short list of items I’d pass to a new ham who is hot on the key.  I, for one, will be guarding 7114kHz when I’m in the shack and not on a net working traffic.  Remember to throw your callsign out every so often so that others will know you are there.  If anyone knows of any other good resources please leave a comment and I may just include them.


Automatically Controlled Digital Stations on HF

According to Part 97 of the FCC rules (specifically §97.221 Automatically controlled digital station) automatically controlled digital stations have 134.5kHz of space to work in on the the HF bands (10 meters through 80 meters).  Breaking this bandwidth up into 500 Hz channels* we see that we have 269 spaces for digital stations to work.  The breakdown is as follows:

Frequency               | Bandwidth | Channels
28.120 MHz - 28.189 MHz | 69 kHz    | 138 channels (57 channels @ 1200 baud)
24.925 MHz - 24.930 MHz | 5 kHz     | 10 channels
21.090 MHz - 21.100 MHz | 10 kHz    | 20 channels
18.105 MHz - 18.110 MHz | 5 kHz     | 10 channels
14.095 MHz - 14.0995 MHz| 4.5 kHz   | 9 channels
14.1005 MHz - 14.112 MHz| 11 kHz    | 21 channels
10.140 MHz - 10.150 MHz | 10 kHz    | 20 channels
7.100 MHz - 7.105 MHz   | 5 kHz     | 10 channels
3.585 MHz - 3.600 MHz   | 15 kHz    | 30 channels

So we can easily see where we have the most areas to play.  Ten meters may be a bit misleading as you can run 1200 baud packet there.  So who is operating on all these frequencies?  Looking backwards (longest wavelength first) we see the following channel users:

3.5850 MHz - WL2K
3.5859 MHz - NTSD
3.5870 MHz - WL2K, NTSD
3.5872 MHz - WL2K
3.5890 MHz - WL2K
3.5900 MHz - WL2K
3.5909 MHz - NTSD
3.5910 MHz - WL2K
3.5919 MHz - NTSD
3.5930 MHz - WL2K
3.5935 MHz - NTSD
3.5950 MHz - WL2K
3.5970 MHz - NTSD
3.5979 MHz - NTSD
7.1004 MHz - NTSD
7.1011 MHz - NTSD
7.1012 MHz - WL2K
7.1014 MHz - NTSD
7.1015 MHz - WL2K
7.1017 MHz - WL2K
7.1019 MHz - WL2K
7.1024 MHz - WL2K, NTSD
7.1029 MHz - NTSD
7.1030 MHz - WL2K
7.1034 MHz - WL2K, NTSD
7.1035 MHz - WL2K, US Packet
7.1037 MHz - WL2K
7.1039 MHz - NTSD
7.1044 MHz - WL2K
10.1409 MHz - NTSD
10.1412 MHz - WL2K
10.1419 MHz - NTSD
10.1420 MHz - WL2K
10.1429 MHz - NTSD
10.1434 MHz - WL2K
10.1437 MHz - WL2K
10.1449 MHz - NTSD
10.1450 MHz - WL2K
10.1455 MHz - WL2K
10.1459 MHz - NTSD
10.1462 MHz - WL2K
10.1465 MHz - WL2K
10.1467 MHz - US Packet
10.1470 MHz - WL2K
10.1477 MHz - WL2K
14.0959 MHz - NTSD
14.0962 MHz - WL2K
14.0974 MHz - NTSD
14.0978 MHz - US Packet
14.0979 MHz - NTSD
14.0980 MHz - WL2K
14.0985 MHz - WL2K
14.0987 MHz - WL2K
14.1027 MHz - WL2K
14.1042 MHz - WL2K
14.1067 MHz - WL2K
14.1080 MHz - WL2K
14.1085 MHz - WL2K
14.1089 MHz - WL2K
14.1099 MHz - WL2K
14.1100 MHz - WL2K
14.1120 MHz - WL2K
18.1062 MHz - WL2K
18.1069 MHz - WL2K
21.0934 MHz - NTSD
21.0987 MHz - WL2K
(All frequencies are center.  WL2K and NTSD station frequency list pulled on 19 October 2011.  Incomplete listing of US Packet SKIPNETs.  Only US stations included in the listing.)

So are we using our frequencies in a channelized fashion?  No we are not.  What does that mean?  That means that the overall efficiency of our spectrum is reduced.  If you have a station between two channels transmitting they are basically occupying two channels instead of one.  Is this a problem?  Maybe.  I’ve heard several times two stations transmitting where they were clearly overlapping causing neither station to communicate with who they were attempting to talk with.  But from where I’m listening  (40 meters) it’s rare.  The use of PACTOR-III makes things worse, however, as these stations transmit 2kHz-wide signals taking up four channels.  These stations also get on and off the frequencies faster as well so they aren’t taking up any channels as long as a regular 500 Hz station would.  (Yes, we are TDMA.)  You can tell by the ellipses I’ve included in the chart where there are gaps in known usage.  That means that there is still room for new stations to come up on HF and utilize the spectrum.

Would it be better to have a “frequency coordinator” of sorts working with all HF networks to spread stations out and make better use of the spectrum we have?  Probably wouldn’t hurt.  Is it necessary?  Probably not; at least not now.

And remember that band that has 69kHz of available spectrum?  No one claims to be there…

* There is nothing that says we have to channelize our spectrum here but to not do so would be incredibly wasteful and could lead to interference.

W520 won’t boot from hard drive.

I received my shiny, new ThinkPad W520 this afternoon and immediately installed Fedora 16 Beta.  All seemed to go well but when I rebooted it wouldn’t actually boot into Fedora.  No GRUB no nothing.  So I grabbed a F15 Live DVD and booted off of that.  No problem so far.  Did the installation from there and same thing.  No error message or anything.

I’ve disabled the IEEE1394 port and VT-d to no avail.  Anyone have any ideas?

Update: (140227Z) – First, thanks to everyone that responded to my request for assistance.  I’ve humbled by the number of people that provided advice and gave me additional avenues in which to look.
I believe I am having the GPT problem.  The reason F15 wouldn’t work is that I didn’t do a “full disk” installation (I used the default of replace Linux installation which doesn’t update the partitions).  So when I did a full installation including “full disk” everything “just worked”.  Now that I have additional information I believe I’ll go back and do some more troubleshooting.  I have to fly out on Sunday so I need to have a working, fully patched and hardened, system to take with me.  I’m hoping I can get a native install of F16 Beta on-board before I go.  If not I may just have to upgrade from F15 to F16 Beta and leave it at that.

Update: (140517Z) – After talking with more Fedorians on IRC I hit me that I hadn’t turned off UEFI and then tried to install F16.  I also had a plan to use the F15 partitions for F16 which would also “fix” the GPT problem.  I’m not sure which but the problem is gone.  I’m successfully running Fedora 16 Beta on my shiny, new laptop.  I’ll talk more about it tomorrow but for now I’m going to finish doing the system hardening and then go to bed.

Dressed for success… I hope.

Shirt that says 01000100 01000001 01000100

I've been labeled.

My wife, being the organized one in our household, believes that everything has a place and everything in its place.  Items should also be labeled so that you know what they are, their purpose, and most importantly where they are supposed to be at any given time.  So it was no surprise to me that I finally received my label (see shirt to the left).

Shirt tagI’ve been told I can’t wear it just yet as it’s not official but that I should bring it to the hospital.  That’s cool.  I understand not having the label until the kid comes and all but I felt the need to share my new toy.  I’m quite excited and will wear it with pride.

The best part was that my developer/programmer father-in-law immediately knew what it meant and started laughing.  I think he was a bit jealous and we may need to find one that labels him as well.  Maybe not in binary but rather in COBOL.

I also thought a picture of the tag would also be a good addition.  Glad to know that I can’t put it in the dishwasher, that it’s for external use only (glad I read that one since I was getting ready to do something that would have been embarrassing), and yes the contents are hot.

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Sparks’ Linux Journal by Eric “Sparks” Christensen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

XFBB and NTS Message Routing

NTS traffic is addressed very simply:@NTS.  So if I was going to send an NTS message to the ARRL I would use 06111@NTSCT.  Simple, right?  And I’m assuming that most BBSs would allow you to route traffic based on the @NTSportion of the address but not FBB.  FBB routes traffic based on the zipcode *only*.  While this does allow a more fine tuning this also means that your forward.sys file will be quite long for routing NTS traffic all over the US and Canada and you’ll also have to figure out the zip code schema.  Not to worry as I’ve already done that last part for you.  Below is the complete list of zip codes per state.  Simply copy and paste which zip codes a forwarding BBS will handle into their portion of the forward.sys file and off you go.

  Z 35*
  Z 36*
  Z 99*
  Z 85*
  Z 86*
  Z 71*
  Z 72*
  Z 90*
  Z 91*
  Z 92*
  Z 93*
  Z 94*
  Z 95*
  Z 96*
  Z 80*
  Z 81*
  Z 06*
  Z 197*
  Z 198*
  Z 199*
  Z 20*
  Z 32*
  Z 33*
  Z 34*
  Z 30*
  Z 31*
  Z 39901
  Z 96*
  Z 83*
  Z 60*
  Z 61*
  Z 62*
  Z 46*
  Z 47*
  Z 50*
  Z 51*
  Z 52*
  Z 66*
  Z 67*
  Z 40*
  Z 41*
  Z 42*
  Z 70*
  Z 71*
  Z 039*
  Z 04*
  Z 20*
  Z 21*
  Z 01*
  Z 02*
  Z 05501
  Z 05544
  Z 48*
  Z 49*
  Z 55*
  Z 56*
  Z 386*
  Z 387*
  Z 388*
  Z 389*
  Z 39*
  Z 63*
  Z 64*
  Z 65*
  Z 59*
  Z 68*
  Z 69*
  Z 88901
  Z 88905
  Z 89*
  Z 03*
  Z 07*
  Z 08*
  Z 87*
  Z 88*
  Z 06390
  Z 10*
  Z 11*
  Z 12*
  Z 13*
  Z 14*
  Z 27*
  Z 28*
  Z 58*
  Z 43*
  Z 44*
  Z 45*
  Z 73*
  Z 74*
  Z 97*
  Z 15*
  Z 16*
  Z 17*
  Z 18*
  Z 19*
  Z 028*
  Z 029*
  Z 29*
  Z 57*
  Z 37*
  Z 38*
  Z 73301
  Z 73344
  Z 75*
  Z 76*
  Z 77*
  Z 78*
  Z 79*
  Z 885*
  Z 84*
  Z 05*
  Z 201*
  Z 22*
  Z 23*
  Z 24*
  Z 98*
  Z 99*
  Z 247*
  Z 248*
  Z 249*
  Z 25*
  Z 26*
  Z 53*
  Z 54*
  Z 82*
  Z 830*
  Z 831*
  Z A*
  Z B*
  Z C*
  Z E*
  Z G*
  Z H*
  Z J*
  Z K*
  Z L*
  Z M*
  Z N*
  Z P*
  Z R*
  Z S*
  Z T*
  Z V*
  Z X*
  Z Y*

Creative Commons License
Radio W4OTN by Eric H Christensen W4OTN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.