Wouff Hong

One of the most interesting and unique artifacts from the early days of radio was not powered by batteries nor did it have any electronic components. I far as I can tell, Radio Shack never stocked it on their shelves and you can’t order it from Ham Radio Outlet.

From the 1969 ARRL “Radio Amateur’s Operating Manual”:

Every amateur should know and tremble at the history and origins of this fearsome instrument for punishment of amateurs who cultivate bad operating habits and who nourish and culture their meaner instincts on the air…

This is the Wouff Hong.

It was invented -or at any rate, discovered- by “The Old Man” himself, just as amateurs were getting back on the air after World War One. “The Old Man” (who later turned out to be Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW, Co-founder and first president of ARRL) first heard the Wouff Hong described amid the howls and garble of QRM as he tuned across a band filled with signals which exemplified all the rotten operating practices then available to amateurs, considering the state of the art as they knew it. As amateur technology and ingenuity have advanced, we have discovered new and improved techniques of rotten operating, but we’re ahead of our story.

As The Old Man heard it, the Wouff Hong was being used on some hapless offender so effectively that he investigated. After further effort, “T.O.M.” was able to locate and identify a Wouff Hong. He wrote a number of QST articles about contemporary rotten operating practices and the use of the Wouff Hong to discipline the offenders.

Early in 1919, The Old Man wrote in QST “I am sending you a specimen of a real live Wouff Hong which came to light out here . . . Keep it in the editorial sanctum where you can lay hands on it quickly in an emergency.” The “specimen of a real live Wouff Hong” was presented to a meeting of the ARRL Board and QST reported later that “each face noticeably blanched when the awful Wouff Hong was . . . laid upon the table.” The Board voted that the Wouff Hong be framed and hung in the office of the Secretary of the League and there it remains to this day, a sobering influence on every visitor to League Headquarters who has ever swooshed a carrier across a crowded band.

The Old Man never prescribed the exact manner in which the Wouff Hong was to be used, but amateurs need only a little i
imagination to surmise how painful punishments were inflicted on those who stoop to liddish behavior on the air.

Read more about the Wouff Hong:

… and you can buy your very own miniature replica of the Wouff Hong in the form of a pin from ARRL. Now how cool is that?

Army Ham in Space!

Army Colonel Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, has put together an awesome YouTube video of himself making contacts over North America prefaced by a tour of the International Space Station. He has just successfully returned to Earth. Welcome Home, Sir!

Makes you want to go right out and get an Arrow II.

Region 1 = Europe * Middle East * Africa * North-Asia
RXdownlink: 145.800Mhz (FM).
TXuplink: 145.200Mhz (FM).
NA1SS VOICE FREQUENCY (region 2 & 3).
North and South America * Caribbean * Greenland
South Asia * Australia * New Zealand * Oceania
RXdownlink: 145.800Mhz (FM).
TXuplink: 144.490Mhz (FM).

On these links you can see the ISS position:

On this link you can see ISS crew’s work and sleep times:

Radio Adventure in The Pacific

I am researching the possibility of doing a mini-DXpedition to one of the Pacific Islands. The overall intent of the operation is to have an adventure, not to activate “a rare one”. The focus has also been narrowed (at least initially) to US possessions. Going to a US possession will alleviate the need to get special operating licenses and/or permissions. Here are the prefixes for what is out in the Pacific:

KH0 Mariana Islands
KH1 Baker, Howland Islands
KH2 Guam
KH3 Johnston Island
KH4 Midway Island
KH5 Palmyra, Jarvis Islands
KH5/K Kingman Reef
KH6-7 Hawaii
KH7K Kure Island
KH8 American Samoa
KH8 Swains Island
KH9 Wake Island

There are a few of these I can eliminate immediately. KH1: Both Baker and Howland Islands have restricted access. I don’t have the time or energy to devote to get special permits and I am only going to go somewhere that has commercial aviation service. KH2: Guam offers this, but it is definitely not exotic enough of a location. KH3/KH4: Johnston and Midway Islands have restricted access and no commercial aviation service. KH5: Both Palmyra and Jarvis Islands are too complicated to get to. KH5/K: Kingman Reef – no way. KH6-7: Hawaii is in the same category as Guam. KH7K: Kure Island… see Kingman Reef. KH8: Swains Island (which probably has one of the most unique stories) is privately owned with no regular commercial service. KH9: Wake Island is a distant possibility because it still has active military and AMC flights, although I would have to get official permission – which is unlikely (but not impossible).

The best candidates are KH0: Mariana Islands and KH8: American Samoa. The Mariana Islands (with Siapan, Tinian, and Rota as the only islands that I am looking at) are probably the easiest for me to get to. Siapan has direct flights from Seoul and is a tourist destination for Koreans. From Siapan there are regular commercial flights to both Tinian and Rota. Both these islands also have lodging possibilities as well.

American Samoa will take a bit more traveling – no direct flights. But it is definitely possible to get there and lodging is no issue.

So the islands in the running are now:
KH0 Mariana Islands CQ 27 ITU 64
KH8 American Samoa CQ 32 ITU 62
KH9 Wake Island CQ 31 ITU 65

The time for the trip will probably be April and I think I would go for 10 days. Now it is time for more research.

D-Star, DV Dongle, and Ubuntu

Yet again, more success with Ubuntu and ham radio. I purchased a D-Star DV Dongle earlier this year and never had much time to play with it. I do not own an actual D-Star radio and the only time I have really ever seen D-Stars in action was at this year’s Hamvention. I am a fan of Echolink and IRLP – the DV Dongle seemed like a good way to dip my toe in the D-Stars pool without a big cash investment. Additionally, I haven’t been living near any existing D-Star repeaters (either back in Kansas or here in Korea).

Installing the DV Dongle on the hamputer went smoothly. Great instructions are located here or here. For support, there is a Yahoo Group which is active and brings quick response in troubleshooting problems.

Once I had the DV Dongle up and running, NJ6N has a webpage that provides a live look at who is active on which D-Star repeaters and reflectors.

There are plenty of resources out there, which could indicate the growing popularity of D-Stars.

If you are interested in having a D-Stars QSO, let me know.

Xastir up and running

More success with the Ubuntu hamputer. I found a great wiki that does a great job of walking through the install process. Once I had Xastir up an running, it was interesting to see the massive amount of APRS in Japan compared to the absolute minuscule amount of APRS activity here in Korea. I have a hard time understanding why APRS is not embraced here.

For the record…

Here are details for my Ubuntu hamputer installation:

(1) Install the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 10.04DO NOT INSTALL THE 64-BIT VERSION!
(2) Run Update Manager and reboot
(3) From the terminal sudo apt-get install: libssl-dev, libhamlib2 and libhsmlin-utild
(4) Download CQRLOG (my version was cqrlog_0.9.6_install.tar.gz)
(5) Extract file and you get cqrlog_install.sh – run the script in the terminal
(6) After the install is complete, you should be able to start and run CQRLOG
(7) Now you need Fldigi… this takes a bit more work to get the latest version
(8) From the Synaptic Package Manager, install: g++, libfltk1.1, and libfltk1.1-dev
(9) Find via Google (or use the supplied links), download, extract, configure, make and install: libsamplerate-0.1.7.tar.gz, pa_snapshot.tgz (v19), libpng-1.2.9beta11, and hamlib-1.2.7
(10) Then download fldigi-3.20.29, configure, make, and install
(11) That is it – everything should be good to go.
(12) For bonus points, download and install Flrig

For more on CQRLOG – listen to Episode 47: CQRLOG Revisited of Linux in the Ham Shack… the best (and only) amateur radio/linux podcast out there.

Linux is finally in the Ham Shack

Back in February I talked about my plans to piece together a portable station based around the iPORTABLE enclosures, an IC-7000, and a Dell Zino HD computer. In one iPORTABLE I installed an LDG AT-200pro and the IC-7000. The other iPORTABLE contains an Alinco DM-330MV power supply and the Dell Zino.

The iPORTABLE enclosures keep everything contained and compact. I’ve set them up, one stacked upon the other on my desk near the window in my quarters here in Korea… which makes it easy to connect to the antenna feedline.

When I recently received my Buddipole and subsequently got on the air, I looked to an Ubuntu solution for managing my log, digital modes, as well as rig control. Fldigi, by itself, was great for digital modes… but was difficult to get working with my Dell Zino’s sound card and my West Mountain Radio’s (not so) Plug & Play RIGBlaster. Using Grig for rig control was unsatisfying. Logging with Xlog worked, but it wasn’t integrated with either rig control or Fldigi. I was looking for a similar experience that I got from Ham Radio Deluxe.

Many of the Linux crowd bash Ham Radio Deluxe – and I am not fully sure why. First off – it is free… doesn’t cost a dime. The two primary gripes are that HRD doesn’t offer a linux version and that the overall software package is bloated. I’ll be the first to say that I used HRD for quite a while and found all its features quite useful. The integration of its digital modes software package with HRD made HRD that much better. I used HRD as my primary logging/digital modes suite when I was operating from Iraq and the software never let me down.

That being said… I still wanted to find the Linux solution, if for no other reason than to just do it. I tried shackbox. shackbox was on the right path, but installation was a bit wonky and then the developer stopped supporting it. Linux In The Ham Shack taunted me with the elusive vision of a amateur radio station seamlessly powered by Linux. Using WINE to run HRD under Ubuntu seemed ridiculous… using WINE, to me, seems to defeat the purpose of having Linux.

Fldigi has long been a linux ham radio star. Featured in the January 2010 issue of Linux Journal, it is a favorite. But for me, it wasn’t a replacement for HRD. It lacked full rig control and the logging was pretty basic. CQRLOG offered a solution. It claimed to integrate Fldigi and provide top-notch logging along with rig control. Was this the solution I was looking for?

For hardware, I selected the Dell Zino HD. It has a small form factor – just fitting into one of the two shelves in the iPORTABLE enclosure. The computer ended up being easy to configure as a dual boot – Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I tried using Fldigi, but kept running into problems. Thinking it was a problem with the Zino’s soundcard, I ordered one of those USB stick soundcards from Startech.com… which I got and stuck in the drawer, still in its blister-pak.

The arrival of the Buddipole spurred a renewed sense of urgency to achieve a Linux-ham solution. I tried to install CQRLOG… it looked like it installed fine but when it I tried to start it – nothing happen. Caught between a decision to get on the air and participate in CQ WW DX Contest or dork around with Linux, I defaulted to using Windows 7 and HRD.

Now that the big contest is over – I decided to tackle this issue of ham and linux. The problem, as I’d left it, was that CQRLOG wasn’t working and I had a questionable soundcard. After researching, Googling, peeking, and poking I figured out that the problem was that CQRLOG does not play well with 64-bit distributions of Ubuntu. I reinstalled Ubuntu using a 32-bit distribution, installed all the required libraries, configured, make’d, sudo’ed make install…. and then…. it WORKED! After more tweaking with the rig control, Fldigi worked along side CQRLOG. Flrig as well – which is a great rig control app.

The final nail in the coffin for Windows and HRD was when I exported my log and then imported into CQRLOG… without issue. Now I am truly Spinning and Grinning in a 100% Linux Nirvana.

On a radio safari

Today was a real adventure on the airwaves. I only made 12 contacts, but there were a few that are quite memorable. My location here in South Korea affords me the ability to make contact with exotic locations even with my modest Buddipole antenna. The first contact wasn’t actually a contact – tuning around 20M, I stumbled across 9W6HLM and 9W6BOB operating from Borneo (yes, 9W6BOB is Borneo Bob… how cool is that?). Both stations were on the air, leisurely trolling for contacts… although they couldn’t hear me. I was able to hear them work Denis, WA5TYJ, in New Mexico. Fortunately, the noise level for me was very low and I could just hear Denis.

The next two contacts were with JA’s – a completely unremarkable accomplishment from the QTH here in HL-land. However, they were made using my newly basedlined Linux Ubuntu hamputer using CQRLOG, Fldigi, and Flrig. Again, an unremarkable accomplishment on the face of it… until you hear about my trials and tribulations of getting it working.

Then I worked ZS6CCY, a South African station, on 20M phone! That was pretty exciting. I switched to Fldigi to give PSK31 a try and was able to work a few Russian stations. Then booming down the waterfall came Kim, HL2DYS. I had yet to work another station here in South Korea… but I had to be patient. Kim was working the South Pacific and Europe. When there was a hole, a jumped in and we had a great QSO. Hopefully I will be able to meet Kim soon for an eyeball QSO.

There was a major JA phone contest underway, so I decided to head up to 17M and see if I could scare up another phone contact. While spinning and grinning I fell upon V73RS… Rob on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Wow!! He was just above the noise level and I was his first contact before the spotters got him and the pile-up hit. Rob stuck with me, which is saying something. First – because my callsign here is HL2/AD7MI…. which is horrendously difficult to pass across less than desirable band conditions. Second – Rob wanted the name of my city, which is Uijeongbu (I spell: Uniform India Juliet Echo Oscar November Golf Bravo Uniform). It is quite a mouthful. The pileup kept building, but Rob stayed with the QSO and told me he was there on Kwajalein and that I should look for him on 10M, as conditions generally more favorable for a 2-way exchange.

Back to 20M where I worked another Russian station. Then I snagged JT1DN, a station for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is hard to get more exotic than Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia is not actually far from Korea, but it was my first contact ever with the country and I won’t soon forget it.

Maintaining the exotic theme – my next contact was with YC9ETJ – Bali Island, Indonesia. Agung had quite a pile up and I was glad to get picked up by him.

Sunset and the grayline approached and I was successful in working Poland and Norway. All in all – I was quite excited with the contacts for the day.