Information Net for February 11

Ham Radio Shuts Down Super Bowl

Monday, February 4, 2013 at 5:54PM
By K5PO, on the scene

Read by: RICK N9GRW

electricity

electricity (credit: Terry Freedman)

New Orleans, La.; Feb. 4, 2013 – Details are beginning to emerge as to the cause of the Super Bowl power outage. The New Orleans Police Department issued the following statement at 4:15 p.m. local time:

“We have evidence that indicates the stadium’s master electrical control unit suffered radio frequency-based damage early in the 3rd quarter, causing the failure of the control unit, and ultimately the power outage.” Said NOPD Captain Ronald Wick. “While the investigation continues, we do not anticipate criminal charges to be filed.”

The Bayou Bishop Amateur Radio Club was excited to promote Super Bowl activities for the week with a “special event station,” a common activity in the amateur radio community. Operating as “Whiskey Five Bowl”, the radio club was racking up contacts.

“It was kinda hard to get a good copy through the cheering,” said club president Amos Mason. “But, we were getting quite a pileup going! I was operating with my Yaesu FT-897D on battery power when it happened. At first, all I noticed was that the local QRN dropped from S8 down to nothing, which was awesome! Then I looked around and saw all the lights were off.”Mason, a resident of nearby Kenner, admits he wasn’t familiar with NFL football when a club member suggested the special event station idea at a recent club meeting. “He said he wanted to see the Ravens play, and I thought he was talking about the Ornithology Club meeting in Avondale. I hadn’t a clue!”

Mason offers his sincere apologies to those that may have been bothered by the power outage. “Clearly the numbskulls running this place need to get some RF shielding on their power control. Given the low power I was running, I’m surprised all the cell phones around here don’t shut the power down too.”

The radio club has been banned from the Super Bowl grounds, but is already planning a special event for next year, to commemorate the day the lights went out at the dome.

Note:The story is fictional and intended for satire and humor only. Original source: The Noise Blankers

How Surge Protectors Work

Read by:RANDY KJ4TFU

When you put together a computer system, one piece of standard equipment you’ll probably buy is a surge protector. Most designs serve one immediately obvious function — they let you plug multiple components into one power outlet. With all of the different components that make up a computer system, this is definitely a useful device.

But the other function of a surge protector power strip — protecting the electronics in your computer from surges in power — is far more important. In this article, we’ll look at surge protectors, also called surge suppressors, to find out what they do, when you need them, and how well they work. We’ll also find out what levels of protection are available and see why you might not have all the protection you need, even if you do use a quality surge protector.

The main job of a surge protector system is to protect electronic devicesfrom “surges.” So if you’re wondering what a surge protector does, the first question is, “What are surges?” And then, “Why do electronics need to be protected from them?”

A power surge, or transient voltage, is an increase in voltage significantly above the designated level in a flow of electricity. In normal household and office wiring in the United States, the standard voltage is 120 volts. If the voltage rises above 120 volts, there is a problem, and a surge protector helps to prevent that problem from destroying your computer.

Read by: NICKI KF4DHK

To understand the problem, it is helpful to understand something about voltage. Voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy. Electric current travels from point to point because there is a greater electric potential energy on one end of the wire than there is on the other end. This is the same sort of principle that makes water under pressure flow out of a hose — higher pressure on one end of the hose pushes water toward an area of lower pressure. You can think of voltage as a measure of electrical pressure.

As we’ll see later on, various factors can cause a brief increase in voltage.

  • When the increase lasts three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, it’s called a surge.
  • When it only lasts for one or two nanoseconds, it’s called a spike.

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict some heavy damage on a machine. The effect is very similar to applying too much water pressure to a hose. If there is too much water pressure, a hose will burst. Approximately the same thing happens when too much electrical pressure runs through a wire — the wire “bursts.” Actually, it heats up like the filament in a light bulb and burns, but it’s the same idea. Even if increased voltage doesn’t immediately break your machine, it may put extra strain on the components, wearing them down over time.

Why ham radio endures in a world of tweets

By David Rowan

Read by: MARTHA KJ4RIQ

Somehow it makes little sense that amateur “ham” radio continues to thrive in the age of Twitter, Facebook and iPhones. Yet the century-old communications technology — which demands such commitment that you must generally pass an exam to receive a licence — currently attracts around 350,000 practitioners in Europe, and a further 700,000 in the United States, some 60 per cent more than 30 years ago. What is it about a simple microphone, a transmitter-receiver and the seductive freedom of the open radio spectrum that’s turned a low-tech anachronism into an enduring and deeply engaging global hobby?

For a start, there is that thrill in establishing a magical person-to-person long-distance radio conversation that no commodified internet communication can compete with.

Read by: ED KE4JWS

In a world of taken-for-granted torrents of emails, instant messages and Skypevideo-chats, there is a purity and a richness in the shared experience of exchanging “73s” during a live “QSO” with strangers on another continent. Why, the very “ham slang” that defines the community — 73 translating as “best regards”, and QSOs as two-way conversations — tells practitioners that they belong to a special, mutually curious and highly courteous club. And the fact that DXers — long-distance amateur operators — take the trouble to acknowledge received transmissions and conversations by sending their new contacts custom-designed postcards through the analogue postal service… well, that is charm itself in a world where it’s considered excessive to end a communication with anything more effusive than a “bestest”.

Read by: LARRY KC4ZOA

You only need study a handful of these cards to understand, even today, the old-fashioned excitement of connecting with a stranger who might be many thousands of miles away. The postcards — known as QSL cards — can be as quirky and personality-filled as the senders themselves. At times humorous and characterful, at others terse and geographically factual, they have naturally inspired their own subculture that has spurred DXers to collect and display them much as they would colourful foreign postage stamps.

The cards invariably display as a minimum some basic factual information about the sender. This will generally include the radio operator’s individual call sign, his (there are not too many hers) location, and a few details about the signal detected. And just to show that the Twitter generation did not invent the linguistic contractions exemplified in text-message-speak, QSL cards too rely on slang and abbreviations to pack information into a tight space.

Read by: PAUL KJ4WQN

So cards will display the “RST” — the received radio station’s readability, signal and strength; perhaps details of the sender’s “XMTR” (transmitter) and “ANT” (antenna); and occasionally a request to reciprocate, expressed as the shorthand “PSE QSL TNX” (please send an acknowledgement card, thanks) or the more chatty “hw abt a crd om?” (how about a card, old man?). Old man, by the way, is not a reference to the recipient’s age — just as, on the rarer occasions when the DXer is female, she is referred to as a “YL”, a young lady, whatever her chronological age.

DXers have been exchanging QSL cards since at least 1916, when Edward Andrews of Philadelphia — callsign 3TQ — recorded the receipt of a card from 8VX of Buffalo, New York. Over the next decade, the hobby took off — so much so that, by 1928, Paul Segal (W9EEA) had formulated an “amateur’s code” setting out six key qualities to which practitioners must adhere: “The radio amateur is considerate… loyal… progressive… friendly… balanced… [and] patriotic,” Segal specified, always ready for service to country and community.

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