Monday, May 11, 2020


ARRL FD and COVID-19 Social Distancing, What’s Your Plan?
I have a feeling that Field Day, the premier Summer Radio Activity for most Amateur Radio Clubs, is going to be a little different this year. With limits imposed by the COVID-19 precautions of Social Distancing and the higher risk populations present in most AR Clubs, club officers are scratching their collective heads to decide how they are going to do FD this year.

Traditionally FD was the event where many Hams were first exposed to HF operating, setting up antennas and stations, simplex SSB VHF (not FM repeater operation) and Contest style contacts. It is a time of fellowship and learning that is impossible to replace. But this year we may have to take a break from the normal mode of club-sponsored operations, but we do not have to skip operating FD.


I have put together a Slideshow Presentation- “Field Day in Social Distancing”. You can read through the presentation, share it with fellow club members and even have me present it to your club as an online meeting presentation. Here is the link - tiny.cc/fdsd.


Before We Go too Far, SAFETY FIRST!
     By its nature Socially Distanced FD is a compromise in many ways with untested tools, equipment and plans
     Thus, we need to be even more vigilant
     Don’t Rush
     Don’t Cut Corners
     Don’t Go Near Overhead Wiring!!!!
     Care when climbing, better yet avoid climbing when possible
     Be careful with Generators
     Gasoline, especially refueling
     Carbon Monoxide fumes in enclosed spaces
Some of the highlights of the presentation:
     What FD Classes are they and how does each adapt to Social Distancing
     Class B solo or duo operations
     Ideas for Class C mobile operations
     Class D and E operations from your home
     Using a vehicle to do a Class B operation with the advantages of the vehicle as a shelter and power source but with the advantage of larger, more efficient portable instead of mobile antennas
     Operations for those without a station or even an HF radio at home
     Remote operation of stations
     Permanent (home) stations
     Temporary field station (along the lines of a club set up Class A station)
     Home VHF operations
     Increased use of simplex FM
     FD Options for Technician Licensees (Technician class Licensees have additional limitations due to operating privileges)
     VHF Station 6 and/or 2 Meter
     Satellite Contacts
     10 Meter SSB
     CW Only Operations on 80, 40 and/or 15 M (including ideas for those with little or no code proficiency- tiny.cc/fwm)
     A call for local clubs and ARRL officials alike to encourage operation on less frequently used bands and modes to provide opportunities for Technician Licensees and newly licensed hams of all classes
     Calling CQ on 10 Meters for local/regional contacts even during poor band conditions
     2 Meter FM Simplex to provide local contacts
     Slower speed CW opportunities at top of old Novice band CW allocations
     FD Logging Software and help with setup and use

Another thought for FD this year-- consider getting younger family members at your house involved in your home or vehicle-based FD, but remember to keep safe with both Social Distancing and regular FD safety.

Here is the link to “Field Day in Social Distancing” - tiny.cc/fdsd. You can read through the presentation and please share it with fellow club members via your club’s newsletters, website and nets. If you are looking for an online meeting presentation, I would be happy to do this for you. If you prefer another talk here are seven I have been recently presenting remotely:
7.    Ideas & Resources for Growing Youth Involvement in Amateur Radio (based on my article in March 2020 CQ Magazine)
Recently, through these presentations, I have been able to meet club members around the state of Ohio that I never would have imagined I’d have an opportunity to speak to. It has been great and I am always looking for more opportunities to present (and I don’t limit to Ohio) so have your club program director contact me at k8zt@arrl.net. Visit my website www.k8zt.com for a wide variety of resources during this time of imposed isolation.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Having Fun with Morse, Getting Started with CW & Getting on HF Bands with Any License



The mode of Morse Code in Amateur Radio is commonly referred to as “continuous wave” or “CW”. (This name was chosen to distinguish it from the damped wave emissions from spark transmitters, not because the transmission is continuous.)

Morse Code, No Fun! Why?
Before 1990 all Amateur Radio licenses required at least some code and up until 2007 Code Proficiency was required to have most Voice HF radio privileges. It was something you had to do.
Many learned just enough to get their license but never used it on the air, they really just wanted voice privileges. Or worse yet, they got frustrated and lost interest in Amateur Radio. Now there is no code proficiency requirement for any level of Amateur Radio license.
Fun with Code- Maybe?
So the goal of this document is...
  • To get you on the HF bands as soon as possible.
  • To help you get on the air using code
  • To learn how it can be a fun and effective way to make contacts on HF
  • No testing or shaming of your code ability

Fun with Code- Yes!
Morse Code could be Fun and Useful:
  • Gets you on HF now!
  • More efficient in getting contacts than SSB (especially with QRP- low power)
  • Lower cost equipment & simple kits
  • A very popular contesting mode
  • No one knows how old you are, your gender or your accent
  • Doesn’t bother spouse or other nearby (with the shouting of voice contacts)
  • Did you realize you already have HF privileges with just a Tech License? Using CW- You Already Have HF Access!
    • You can use CW with your Tech License!
      • 80 meters    3.525 - 3.600 CW
      • 40 meters    7.025 – 7.125 CW
      • 15 meters  21.025 – 21.200 CW

Want to Work 6, 10 or 12 Meters But No Sunspots? Don’t Miss Your Chance with Summer E Skip and FT8.

You may have heard the doom and gloom about being in the depths of the 11 Year Sunspot Cycle:
  • “No propagation above 20 Meters”
  • “Ten is dead!”
  • “Might as well sell the radio”
  • “The sun will never return”
  • “It’s 80 & 160 Meters only for the next few years”
  • “#$@&%*!”


Well, the idea to concentrate on 160 and 80 Meters is a good idea, but not until late
fall or winter. In the meantime, there is a way to make contacts on 6, 10 or 12 Meters
most days of the week by taking advantage of the summer enhanced E Skip season
and the new mode of FT8.

Typically during high sunspot activity (solar flux) ionization of the F layer of the
atmosphere facilitates refraction of signals on higher HF bands allowing
worldwide communications. The E layer is below the F layer and is responsible
for a propagation type known to abnormally effect VHF and higher HF frequencies
called Sporadic E or E skip.  This happens went ionized particles appear in the
E layer of the ionosphere. Sporadic E as the name implies occurs sporadically
throughout the year and is not dependent on 11-year sunspot cycle.
In the Northern hemisphere, sporadic E activities are more frequent during the
summer months.



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

FT4 a New Mode!

FT4 a new Digital Mode, similar to FT8 is here!
With even shorter transmissions (4.48 s, compared to 12.64 s for FT8), FT4 is designed for contesting.
Click here for details. Here is also a video of Joe Taylor announcing it- link
Download the software here (scroll down to Installation packages for WSJT-X 2.1.0-rc5)and get in on the inauguration of this new mode. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Using PSK Reporter Website as Propagation Tool

PSK Reporter, www.pskreporter.info/pskmap.html, is a powerful tool for monitoring your
FT8, JT65 or PSK signals around the world. But, even if you are not transmitting on any
of these modes it can still be a great propagation tool for determining which bands are
open and to where in the world signals from your area are being heard.


Here are some instructions with screenshots to get you started:
  1. Go to the PSK Reporter website- www.pskreporter.info/pskmap.html
  2. A map of the world will appear.

Don't Miss My Other Resources

  • K8ZT.com- connects all my sites & blogs, but focuses mainly on Amateur Radio, Cooking, Trains & Maps
  • ZTLearn.com- Resources for Students, Educators & anyone interested in learning something new.

If you are a new ham, just getting started on HF or looking to increase your country and state count this presentation is for you. Learn some Top Secret Techniques to WAS & DXCC. Includes tips for winning operating and contesting awards for the average ham.