The FCC says you have a new callsign. Now what?

Once I knew that I had a new callsign, I sat down a wrote down a list of what I needed to do…

(1) QRZ.com website. When my callsign changed a few years back from AD7MI to NI0L, I jumped on the air to “test it out”. On 20m, I was having a PSK31 QSO when the distant party thought I was a pirate station because on QRZ.com my new callsign did not reflect the name and QTH I was using. A pirate! I explained that it was a new callsign but I could tell that the other guy was not buying it.

I thought I would need to go on to QRZ.com and register as a new user. I made a posting in the QRZ.com forum category dedicated to callsign problems. The end result: just wait… the change will take place automatically in a few days.

And that is the case. If you are a US ham and change your callsign, just wait. Within two or three days the callsign change will be reflected on QRZ.com. If you get on the air before QRZ.com is updated, be prepared for people to think you are a pirate.
No-Pirates-Allowed-348x196

(2) Log of The World. Easy to do. Just submit for a new certificate under the new callsign. ARRL usually responds within one working day.

(3) EchoIRLP node. This ended up being much easier than I thought it would be.

a. To change your callsign in the IRLP database, go to this webpage using a computer connected to the same router as the IRLP node.

b. Go into your node and edit irlp/custom/environment file to change the old callsign to the new callsign. Restart the node and verify the changes have taken effect.

c. For the EchoLink side:
Validate your new callsign.
– Check for validation of the new EchoLink call sign / node number on EchoLink using the EchoLink PC client software. Remember, EchoIRLP only allows link (-L) or repeater (-R) nodes.
– Note: you can only register the new callsign once the EchoLink folks of pulled the latest and greatest database update from the FCC. This may take a day or two. Once that is done, you can validate your new callsign. Your new callsign will be assigned a new EchoLink node number. If you want to use your previous node number, EchoLink allows you to swap node numbers between your old callsign and your new callsign.

– Once you are validated and have swapped node numbers edit the files and settings listed below:

/home/EchoIRLP/ custom/tbd. conf
ConferenceCall =
ConferencePass =

/home/EchoIRLP/ custom/echo_ environment
export ECHO_MYCALL=

/home/EchoIRLP/ custom/userdata. txt

Restart IRLP from root login with script /home/irlp/custom/ rc.irlp, or reboot the node.

IRLP node 4433 and EchoLink node 536398 are up and operational.

(4) APRS – change the callsign in my vehicle, HTs, and UI-View32. Pretty straight forward. The home weather station info can now be found here.

(5) Change the blog website. I have been keeping an amateur radio blog for about 10 years now. Web hosting companies make it pretty easy to get a domain for your website and then setup web hosting. I like using WordPress to setup and maintain the actual blog. Fairly straight forward but flexible to do just about anything you would want for a amateur radio blog. The new website is up and running.

(6) Callsign license plate. Kansas makes the pretty simple. I went down to my county office on Friday after work. The application process was smooth and the wait should be about 4-6 weeks.

(7) New QSL card. I am thinking of going with this:
N0ZB_qsl_card

Notes From The Shack

Friday, November 27th

Had a good day in shack. Was able to get a good portion of it cleaned up. Filled up a trash bag and a big box of “stuff” I just do not need.

Fired up the HF rig and ran it through it’s paces. Had a Phone QSO with a station down in Costa Rica and worked a few stations around the US on PSK-31. Enough to let me know the rig is still working. Listened to my favorite bunch of old timers who meet weekday mornings (8AM) around 7.140 MHz. I’ve never joined in, but used to listen to them all the time from my mobile when my work hours were a bit different. Nowadays I don’t get the opportunity to hear them.

For the last few weeks I have been trying to square away my VHF/UHF setup. My embedded EchoIRLP node has consistently suffered from pulsing. I have tweaked about every software setting and radio setting possible but was unable to fix the issue. It looks like the pulsing generally correlates with my APRS signal. I use a Kenwood TM-D710A in the shack. A computer with UI-View32 is driving the left half of the TM-D710A, sending and receiving APRS data. The right side I usually dedicate to the EchoIRLP node which is normally set to a simplex UHF frequency. I started to notice that everytime UI-View32 sends out my position or weather report, my EchoIRLP node would pulse. I honestly think the rig is the issue.

What I like best about the TM-D710A is that I can use my one antenna that I have mounted off my chimney. The TM-D710A allows me to use both the APRS and EchoIRLP at the same time. But I think that pulsing issue will keep me off IRLP reflectors or Echolink conferences unless I disable UI-View32 and the TM-D710A’s TNC while I am using the reflector/conference.

I upgraded my version of fldigi. I made sure my log and settings were backed up and the upgrade went without significant issue. I was able to setup the WX macro function, which I have been meaning to do. The macro pulls the latest WX from Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and allows me to slide that into a PSK-31 QSO via macro. I wish it could pull the data right from my WX station. Not sure how to do that.

I setup my D-Star DV Access Point Dongle – hadn’t done that in a while. I am consistently unimpressed with the audio quality that I get listening to the D-Star reflector on my ICOM IC-92AD. The audio is very metallic and tinny.

APRS has taken up a bit of my time lately. I enjoy playing around with my Yaesu VX-8GR. I am amazed at the different ways you can send a message from the APRS system to an email address. I have improved my ability to work the VX-8GR to input text for a message.

I figured out how to get my UI-View32/TM-D-710A setup to only digipeat APRS packets from either my callsign or the XYLs. That comes in handy when I have the HT. One thing I have not been able to figure out is how to get my UI-View32/TM-D710A setup to digipeat packets destined for my HT’s SSID. For example, if I send a message from my HT, it is digipeated out through my UI-View32/TM-D710A setup and picked up by a nearby real digipeater. But when the “Ack” packet comes back, my HT won’t hear it and I am not sure how to get my UI-View32/TM-D710A to recognize that packet and digipeat it.

Did I mention the humidity sensor on the Davis Vantage Pro2 is not working properly?

I checked into a net tonight! We have an awesome daily email called Larry’s List that contains all kinds of interesting information about the amateur radio goings on in the greater Kansas City area. From swap and shop, to license testing, and opportunities to volunteer in support of public events to various club activities and nets…. Larry’s List is one stop shopping for anything you would want to know about what is happening. The list mentioned a net conducted from a repeater setup on top of the VA hospital in Kansas City (KC0VA). I decided to check in and was privileged to partake in a very interesting discussion about how to handle an emergency if it occurred during a net. I also learned about the Q-signal “QRRR”… which I had never heard or read of before.

Talking Back To Home

Having an EchoIRLP node here at home allows me the option of communicating with the XYL (who holds a Tech license) when I am on the road. I found this very useful when I was stationed in Korea. With the time difference, the end of my day was the beginning of hers. I could check APRS to see when she started her morning commute and then connect to my home node. This allowed me to check in with her as well as saying “Hi” to the kids.

With the Summer Trip, the XYL will not be with us the whole time. Therefore, IRLP may well offer a solution.

Time change will not be a significant factor – which means the best times to schedule IRLP QSOs with the XYL would be during the commute times. That should work fairly well because I do not plan to be on the road either too early in the morning or much past the late afternoon.

What is the availability of IRLP nodes along the route I am taking and will they be near our overnight stops? Enter the ARRL’s Repeater Directory. I remember my dad almost always having the shirt-pocket version of this directory by his easy chair along with his HT and a mechanical pencil that he used to make notes. I have consistently followed his lead, although I usually keep a copy in my truck as I am not too much of an HT guy. Another difference is my excitement about the Desktop Edition of the Repeater Directory. I find the shirt pocket edition way too tiny and difficult to use. The Desktop Edition is the Business Class of directories…. spacious, roomy, and comfortable.

I took advantage of ARRL’s birthday coupon to purchase the 2015-2016 directory and am using that to start my IRLP node research. Without digging up my maps and looking too much at the surrounding areas, here is what I found:

Sioux Falls, SD, IRLP Node #7346, 444.2, 82.5
Gillette, WY, IRLP Node #3307, 449.75, 123
Cody, WY, IRLP Node #7194, 146.85, 103.5
Great Falls, MT, IRLP #7908, 147.3
Great Falls, MT, IRLP #5670, 147.36, 100
Bozeman, MT, IRLP #3692, 448.35, 100
Billings, MT, IRLP #3398, 449.75, 100

What I will probably do is use my home node to connect to these nodes to see if they are in operation and get an idea as to what their coverage areas are.

From eastern Kansas to the California Sierra Nevada – QSO with KD6EUG

Back in December of 2011 I got this email from my dad, Larry (KD6EUG) about the severe storm damage to his cabin in Mi-Wuk, California – located in the Sierra Nevadas:

The big pine tree that is located at the corner of the back deck, the one that we used as the center for all our antennas, split in two and about 90 ft of it landed on the back deck and cabin/garage. All the dining room windows and sliding doors are blown out. There is a 6″ separation between the garage and the kitchen. The PG&E power meter and feed lines to the power pole are ripped out. The wind had gusts of over 35mph.

Dad

Here are a few of the picture I received over the next few days showing the destruction:




My dad and I had a great field day from the cabin back in 2009. It was quite a blow to see what nature had delivered.

It has been a long path since December 2011. Through diligence and perseverance, my dad was able to revive the cabin. The work was finally completed this past summer.


We had another scare with the Rim Fire back in August and September. The fire actually came within a few miles of the cabin but fortunately the firefighters were successful in stopping it before it could do any damage.

My dad is now up there enjoying the California QSO Party from the cabin in Tuolumne County (…sometimes a pretty hard-to-get county in the CQP).

We have tried on several occasions to attempt HF QSOs while he has been at the cabin and I have either been here in Kansas or when I was stationed in Virginia. We never had much luck and have primarily used my EchoIRLP node as the best way to chat (IRLP Node 3553/EchoLink Node: KI4ODI-L 518994). Well, our luck changed today. We decided to give it a go prior to the CQP and started at 10Ms and worked down until we got to the 15M band. On 21.400 MHz we had brilliant success in carrying on an HF QSO. I’ve already send out the QSL card to confirm the contact.

With my coming retirement from the Army, I am going to have the opportunity to head back out to the California Sierra Nevadas this next June for Field Day 2014. I am looking forward to that!

What’s going on in the hamshack?

(1) Two shelves are up. I offloaded my computer that handles the weather station, my printer, the EchoIRLP node, and the TM-D710A that supports both the weather station via APRS and the EchoIRLP node. I put wheels on the hamshack table after I moved it from the rental we were in to our current house. This raised the table to the perfect height, allowing my chair to slide under. The wheels also allow me to swing the table out to get to the back side and take care of any wiring issues with a fair degree of ease. But the weight of the equipment that piled up on the far end of the table made it hard to move. With the equipment I rarely touch placed up on the shelves, the table is much easier to move.

(2) I got my West Mountain Radio Super PWRgate PG40S hooked up. And it works! Additionaly, I have an UPS hooked up. So I should be good for backup power to run the weather/APRS station.

(3) The maps are up! I have the world map and a North America map. It looks like Millennia Arts no longer produce these maps. Who can blame them? I purchased these maps in 2006 and how many additional entities have there been since then? I’d imagine it is just not cost effective to produce up-to-date, high-quality maps like these.

(4) My kindergardener had a weekend project to collect 100 of something. Why not a 100 QSL cards? I dug through my pile pieceing together a variety of cards. Not quite ready for DXCC submission, but going through my tub-o-cards has motivated me to organize my card collection (… and prep for my DXCC submission).

(5) Speaking of QSL cards, it is time to address the “log problem”. Since my first DX contact (VP5VAC, 21 May 2005, on 6M), I have jumped around to differnt logging programs (and different computer OSes). I have txt files, MDB files, and adi files. Logs from special event stations, lighthouse activations, Field Day, Iraq, Korea, and just sitting in front of the rig spinning and grinning. I have used LoTW and eQSL. I’ve also had a few different callsigns. It is time to establish the MASTER LOG. One-stop-shopping for all my contacts that exist currently as some form of a digital log. The tool to get me to where I need to be appears to be DX Shell’s Contest LogChecker. The application will allow me to take many different types of formated logs and combine them together.

(6) Were we speaking of QSL cards? Jeff, KE9V, says he is getting out of the QSL card game. [AE5X as well] I can understand his motivations and why he arrived at the decision to forego the hard copy QSL card. I may, someday, arrive at a similar decision. Although it looks like AA6E is proud of his card. But as of now, I still love QSL cards… desinging my own, sending them, receiving them, getting that fat package from the Buro, etc. That being said, I designed a new QSL card for my new QTH here in Lansing, KS:

…. I hope to receive them soon – and hope to work you soon so I can send one your way.

Ham radio and my year in Korea

Here is a a re-cap of my amateur radio activities during my past twelve months in Korea:

(1) DX – I enjoyed working a good bit of DX, enjoying most QSOs with stateside contacts as well as Pacific exotics. The greatest limitation I had was my operation location and resulting inability to ideally situate an HF antenna. Living in the barracks (the ultimate in CC&R) restricted any type of permanent antenna installation, further limiting my options. I solely used a Buddipole (which after many additional accessory purchases, became two Buddipoles). Despite the antennas being positioned next to a three story building, I was able to make contacts to North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa. I credit this to improved band conditions over the past months and also the Buddipole… it’s a keeper.


(2) EchoIRLP node – I brought my embedded EchoIRLP node to Korea and interfaced it with a Kenwood VHF/UHF rig. Again, with my poor location and inability, I could not have an antenna installed outdoors. Instead, I kept the Kenwood rig at its minimum wattage setting and used a roll-up J-Pole made from ladder line. With my HT also set on minimum power, I was able to make effective use of the EchoIRLP node. My primary contacts via the node were with the XYL back in Kansas. She has a mobile VHF rig, to include APRS. I could check to see when she was on the road for her morning or afternoon commutes, connect through my EchoIRLP node here in Korea to our EchoIRLP node back in Kansas. With the XYL’s rig set to the frequency of the Kansas node, I could frequently ride along with the XYL and harmonics as they moved about. Additionally, the Echolink capability of the embedded node allowed me to regularly talk to my dad, KD6EUG, while he connected to my node via an app on his cell phone. Another great enjoyment was the ability to monitor the different IRLP reflectors and sometimes participate in ongoing nets. I am sold on the flexability of the embedded EchoIRLP node and will take it with me again when I get deployed for a long duration.


(3) D-STAR – starting with a D-STAR Dongle, I moved to a DV Access Point and got an ICOM D-STAR HT. I enjoyed playing with D-STAR and the ease of having the Access Point as well as the IC-92AD (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/5092.html) made using D-STAR pretty straight forward. There is no aruging that the audio quality for D-STARS is poor. The complicated nature of setting up a rig at home for the XYL would also make D-STAR a poor choice to replace the EchoIRLP node. However, I enjoyed having the flexibility of having the ability of getting on D-STAR.


(4) Linux – all my radio operations here were supported by using the Ubuntu distrobution of Linux. After toying with CQRlog, I have settled on fldigi as my primary interface to my HF rig.


(5) APRS – although my APRS operations here were limited to the internet (Korea has virtually no APRS traffic), I used xastir (www.xastir.org) to show where my operating location was and also advertised my EchoIRLP node.


(6) WX station – never happen. I could not find a good location to place the collector, so it is still in the box. More importantly, wgoohat I didn’t get the opportunity to learn was how to interface a weather station to the APRS application xastir.


(7) Stars & Stripes article – I was able to discuss my amateur radio experiences with a reporter from Stars & Stripes.

Post-Christmas Wrap Up

Christmas has come and gone – we had a great time here in Kansas. We had friends over Christmas Eve for dinner. The XYL made a huge feast and I took advantage of the home cooking. Meanwhile, we tracked Santa via the NORAD/Google Earth website. At 7pm, we were actually able to raise Santa via EchoLink and the USA Reflector. The kids enjoyed talking to Santa and where able to get in their last minute requests. After the guests left, I helped the 5 year-old put out milk and cookies for Santa. Then it was upstairs for a bedtime reading of The Night Before Christmas. Once the harmonics were snug in their beds (… not sure about the dancing sugar plums, more like dancing Zhu Zhu hamsters), the elves went into overtime setting up for the following morning (to include hanging the stockings with care). With the work finally complete, I was able to watch the last 30 minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life. I have seen it a million times, but always enjoy the sappy ending.

Christmas morning finally arrived. With a flurry of discarded (and ever growing pile of) wrapping paper – treasures were revealed. Lots of toys for the girls – to include an astronaut Barbie doll for the 5 year old (oddly enough, they don’t make a ham radio Barbie). I received an excellent book: Array of Light: Straight Talk About Antennas and Related Subjects (Third Edition) by Tom Schiller, N6BT. My dad picked the book up for me at Pacificon and I was quite surprised when I opened it. Mr. Schiller is a prolific author of antenna articles, co-founder of Force 12, and the dad of one of my good high school friends. Little did I know back then that my friend’s dad was a ham radio guru.

Next out of Santa’s sack with my name on it was the DVAP.

The DV Access Point Dongle is a neat device that plugs into an internet-connected computer’s USB port and allows you to access the D-Star network without having to go through a local D-Star enabled repeater. With my Icom IC-92AD, the DVAP is a perfect solution to access D-Stars. With the IC-92ADs ability to monitor two frequencies simultaneously allows me to connect and monitor a D-Star reflector or repeater while also listening to my embedded EchoIRLP node. It is a veritable cornucopia of ham radio VOIP.

New Years’ Nets


From: Dave Gingrich
To: irlp at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 6:42 PM
Subject: [irlp] Happy New Year announce

Well, it’s that time again. The annual IRLP New Years Eve QSO party is set for (you guessed it) New Years Eve! Beginning at 1030 UTC Friday December 31 (30 minutes before midnight in New Zealand) through 1030 UTC Saturday January 1 (30 minutes after midnight in Hawaii). All on Reflector 9200. No net control stations, just stop in and enjoy party as the New year celebration wends its way around the planet! Welcome 2011!


Dave K9DC

I am in the process of getting an EchoIRLP node up and running back here in Kansas. Previously I have been using EchoLink to talk with the XYL. I’d use the iPad app from my QTH in Korea and connect to my wife’s EchoLink node here in Kansas – usually while she is mobile around the local area. Here van has a Kenwood TM-D710A and is interfaced to GPS for APRS, so it is easy for me to see when she is out and about. I’ve now brought online my EchoIRLP node in Korea and thought it would make communications a bit more stable if I had an identical node back here in Kansas.

The node here in Kansas is:
IRLP node: 3553
EchoLink node: 518994

It looks like the EchoLink side is experiencing some difficulties right now, but the IRLP side is good to go.

In addition to the IRLP New Years fun, the hams here in Leavenworth run a New Year’s Eve check-in net called something like the Buffalo Chip Net. I have been able to participate the past two years and am looking forward to checking in this year as well. It is fun (and a little surprising) to hear the number of local hams check-in.

10M?

Last week was busy – I spent the whole time down in Seoul attending meeting after meeting with my evenings spent on a bunk bed in a communal room (trying to save a little cash for Uncle Sam). The week was productive, but tiring. The main US military garrison in Seoul, Yongsan, has a lot of amenities that you will not find up at my camp. I got to enjoy many of the various restaurants located there as well as venturing off into Seoul itself, located just outside the gates. Two key finds in Seoul: a restaurant that serves American Chinese food and an Irish pub that serves Guinness from the tap. I enjoy Korean food quite a bit, but also like a variety. Most people know that Chinese food in the US does not come close to resembling the actual cuisine of China… and I have no problem with that. Serve me up some Orange Chicken or General Tsao and I am a happy man. Top it off with a fresh pint of Guinness… now you’re talking.

However, by Saturday morning I was still tired and unmotivated to put up my Buddipole… despite the lure of the 10M contest. I did have a QSO with my dad via EchoLink. He used an app on his Android cell phone and connected through my EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370). My friend brought by some freshly made Hotteok. These pancakes are delicious and I enjoyed them while they were still hot with some coffee. Still wasn’t motivated to put up the Buddipole.

Sunday – the Buddipole went up. A 10M dipole with the Buddipole consists of only the 9.5ft whips on either side of the VersaTee. 10M was not really cooperating. In all I had only nine contacts: Australia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Guam. Surprisingly, I only heard one JA and he couldn’t hear me. No stations from Asiatic Russia either.

After sunset, I switched the antenna from a 10M dipole to a 40M vertical. I thought I might look for some JA stations to practice my CW. I have yet to understand how the JA’s use 40M. The JAs can use phone down to 7.030 MHz. This compacts the CW to between 7.000 and 7.030 MHz. PSK-31 is suppose to be around 7.038, but I have never seen any PSK-31 traffic on 40M over here. I must be looking in the wrong place. Shortwave stations still come in at 7.100 MHz and above. So after sunset, all the 40M action is wedged between 7.000 and 7.100 MHz. So far I have not found any one band location where the QRS folks hang out (like the old Novice band in the US). Maybe with a bit more listening I can crack the code on how the JAs manage 40M.

As for the HLs… I’ve only heard two on the air. Where are all the HLs?

Here’s the good news… cue Bing Crosby… I am heading back to Kansas for leave this coming Friday! Christmas at home with the XYL and harmonics!!

A little DX


I spent Saturday filling out QSL cards, stuffing them in envelopes, and putting on $0.98 worth of postage for the USPS first class international air mail rate. To make life easier I ran both the return envelopes and main envelopes through the printer to get my address on. It would be easier to get some kind of mailing label sheets, which I think I will try to find when I get home for Christmas. Any way you slice it, filling out QSL cards and getting them in the mail takes a while. Keeping me entertained during the QSL card envelope stuffing session was the Insomniac Net through my IRLP node.

Sunday I woke up early and put up my Buddipole antenna, configuring it as a dipole for 20M. Exceptional DX catches for the day were:
UN7FU – Kazakhstan
WH0/WH7C – Northern Mariana Islands
FK8GX – New Caledonia Island
CW3TD – Timoteo Dominguez Island, Uruguay

I am continually surprised by my ability to work stations in South America. I’m not sure what path I am getting the propagation from. There is no one single time of day for my South American contacts – some are in the morning, others in the afternoon.


Today was the first day using my MicroHam USB III. The device is small, just larger than a pack of cards. The radio cable, which comes with the interface, is very well shielded. I used the USB III for both CW and PSK – the device worked well in both modes. Is the MicroHam USB III better than the West Mountain Radio USB PnP RIGBlaster? From a performance standpoint, I think it does a better. With PSK streams, I was able to detect and have QSOs with much weaker signals using the USB III. The fact that the USB III has its own soundcard is a big plus.


Almost done reading A Year of DX by Bob Locher, W9KNI. Bob details his year-long run in the CQ DX Marathon. The reader gets to sit side-by-side with Bob as he uses his Elecraft K3 and DX cluster alarm to work country after country. Bob demonstrates the importance of researching the various rare entities, determining when they might become active and how best to work them. The book is divided month by month, detailing the QSO with each new entity. Between the month chapters are useful chapters concerned with amplifiers, SSB phone techniques, and an amusing Walter Mitty-esque short story themed around DX contacts. I’m enjoying the book and recommend it (…potential stocking stuffer!).