May  2007



Saving Watts

By Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP


Whether you are worried about climate change due to man made use of energy or not, it is a good thing to conserve electrical energy because it will save you money.   As a ham, it is always a good thing to use only the level of RF power that is needed for communication.  I respect the QRPers who are able to work the world with single digit power levels, and frown on the guys who use a killowat and a half of RF output, so that they can out shout others in HF pile-ups.

Along these lines I recognize that all of us must conserve powser of all kinds.  We can no longer make unnecessary car trips unless we want to spend unnecessarily on gas that today costs over $3.00 per gallon.  I have had tripple pane windows installed on my house to help reduce fuel bills for both heating and air conditioning.  I try to make the greenhouse effect work for me in my house even if I don’t entirely believe in the algore-rythem methods of global greenhouse control, that might only serve to move what remains of American smoke stack heavy industries to China or India..

Dave Ledo,AB2EF sent me an e-mail suggesting that I read about the compact fllorescent lamps (CFLs).

I always welcome suggestions from club members because they give me ideas about what I can write about that is of interest to them and may be of interest to other club members.  You can see the web site that Dave recommended by going to:

 The guy who made the web story about the switching high voltage power supply in the base of a CFL got me interested in researching the whole story of CFLs, which I obtained from various sources.

I have bought and am using many CFLs myself and I have found that they have not only gotten cheaper as time progressed but they have gotten better and are now entirely free of creating any noise or radio interfearence to ham radio users.  The first ones I bought did cause lots of noise and they had longer delays before they would light up after being switched on.  Some eventually failed to light entiredly after only a short life.  The capability for long life, quick turn on, and good solid lighting without any RFI is now available in most CFI and I have bought some for only $1.00 each at dollar stores and not much more, if you buy packs of four at Home Depot.  Most are made in China, as are most name brands such as GE and Phillips.  If you haven’t seen the recommended web site, I’m talking about the new florescent light bulbs that have a glass spiral.  Let me give you some specifications here.  In an incandescent lamp the filament heats to as much as 2,300 degrees C., and the glass envelope typically heats to about 300 degrees C.  You can’t touch the bulbs after they have been on for a while because they are too hot to handle.  Not so the new CFLs which heat to less thant 100 degrees C.                                                                                                        


Now let us look at the specifications:

INCANDESCANT           CFL                     LIGHT OUTPUT

40 Watts                           7-10 Watts            780 Lumens

60 Watts                           13-18 Watts           890 Lumens

75 Watts                           18-22 Watts        12210 Lumens

100 Watts                         22–25 Watts        1750 Lumens

150 Watts                         30-38 Watts         2780 Lumens


In the base of each CFL there is a low current , high voltage (as much as 600 Volts)  switching power supply, that switches at high frequencies.  I don’t know how high, but the new ones are said to switch at much higher frequencies than the older models.  The higher the frequency the easier it is to filter the power input line, with small components and to eliminate any switching noise from getting out on the power line.  International Rectifier Corp. has designed chips that can do the job.  They are what are called dual inline package types or DIPS, and can just about fit inside the bases of CFLs, but there are even smaller components used in some of the Chinese CFLs that do the same job.  The high voltage is used only to start the lamps.  It causes a small amount of mercury within the lamps to vaporize and once that happens the only job is to current limit the regular 120 volt line voltage.   This is technically called an “electronic ballast” function.   The long tube and circular flourescant light that have been around for many years use what is called an “iron ballast”.  This ballast also is required to provide a high voltage to start the lamps.  It is mainly a tapped inductor (a coil of wire wound around an iron core) that can act as an auto-transformer and momentarily step up the line voltage to a higher voltage, after which its inductive reactance can serve to current limit the voltage going to the lamps.  Replacable cartridge starting switches (starters) are usually part of the circuiot.   The electronic ballast system used in CFLs is based on capacitive rather than inductive reactance and voltage storage.  Solid state automatic switching is part of the minitureized circuit that is all inside of the bases of the CFL lamps..

Because the new CFLs work at higher frequencies there is less of a possiblity of flickering or strobing that might be visually anoying.         

You can see from the specs that you can save a lot of watts using CFLs instead of incandescant lamps.  The lives of the new CFLs are now rated at 15,000 hours, as opposed to the typical incandescant lamps, which are expected to last for only 1,000 hours. You can save as much as 75% on lighting costs by changiung all of your lamps to CFLs, and in the long run the cost of the CFLs themnselves, if they last as long as specified, will be less than incandescant light bulbs..

Latimer (who worked for Edison) had added a small amount of nitrogen or argon inert gas to slow the eventual burn out of metalic lamp filaments of incandescant lamps.   This is added to what is desired to be a vacuum, for only a small amount of air inside of the lamp envelope would contain enough oxygen to support a quick burn out of the filament.   Flourescent lamps do not generate light by burning a filament.  They light  up  because of electrons that hit a phosphor coating inside of the tubes.  This is similar to the way the screens of  black and white TV cathode ray tubes light up.   This is what provides a cool light.  Modern scientists have been able to provide white light from CFLs that has a spectrum similar to the incandescant lamps that the CFLs are designed to replace.  Some users of CFLs have, however, claimed that CFLs have radiated IR light that has interfered with remote controls used for TV.  I have not experienced such problems myself..

My present usage of CFLs is only for replacing all of the 40 and 60 watts lamps that I formerly used.   I now only have incandescant lamps in my dining room and my den, because I use lamp dimmers in those rooms..  I read that CFLs that are designed to work with lamp dimmers are now available. They are more expensive than regular CFLs and I have not tried any yet.  I have a CFL in a desk lamp on my operating desk, where I have my IC-706 ham transceiver as well as my PC computer system.                      


 There is absolutely no interference to any ham band received on the IC-706 when I turn on the CFL, nor is there any interference to my computer. Aside from the CFL and unrelated to it, I have found that there is interfgerence to my computer that prevents me from using digital modes on 10 Meters…but not on any other HF ham band.   This could probably be fixed by the use of ferrite beads on my interconnecting cables. 

 I started a thread on QRZ, asking all hams to tell if they had experieced RFI or noise from new CFLs.  All who replied said that they have absolutely no RFI or noise from the NEW CFIs. But some had experienced interferencence from older CFLs.  I also ask members of the GARC their own experience with CFLs.  I will print them in this newsletter if I receive any comments related to CFL usage..

Now let us talk about solid-state dimmers.  I know about them because I have built some myself.  Unlike switching power suplies used in CFLs, there is no high frequency switching involved within dimmers.  A typical dimmer circuit depends on a triac, which is really like two SCRs (silicon control rectrifiers) back to back..  A potentiometer control is used in a very low current circuit that triggers the triac with varying phase delay. The triac mearly cuts off a part of the 60 Hertz power line sine wave on both the positive sides and the negative sides.  It thus reduces the power going to the lamps that it is intended to dim by eliminating a portion of the energy that they get from the AC line..  When dimmers do that they are actually distorting the 60 Hz wave form and thus causing harmonics of  60 Hz to be generated.  A small R-C or L-C filter circuit within the dimmer can usually reduce the interference caused by the distortion of the power line waveform, but some users have noted interference when dimmers are used.  Some have even claimed to hear high pitched audio coming from dimmers!  I have never experienced any myself.  Dimmer circuits should be installed inside of metal electrical boxes, that may have formely held on-off toggle switches. The metal electrical boxes are grounded and can help to prevent the dimmer circuits themselves from radiating, thus aiding in eliminiating a possible source of RFI.   I hope that this clears up a lot of misinformation about dimmers.   Because of the way they work, they actiually reduce the electrical energy going to the lamp and consume very little energy themselves.  They can save you money when they dim lamps that need not be very bright.

The government of Australia has gone as far as to ban the sale of incandesant light bulbs.  In England they are now proposing to highly  tax incandescant bulb sales, so as to promote replacement with CFLs.  There have been various programs to give rebates and even free CFLs to people by power companies and local governments across the U.S.  Check the prices on the four packs of CFLs at Home Depot if you haven’t bought any lately.   CFLs can cerrtainly pay for themselves if they are put to use.

Now lets talk about mercury.  The amount of Mercury (Hg) to be found in a typical CFL is only enough to cover the tip of a ball point pen, which is less than 4 mg.  This however is cause for alarm because there will now be millions of CFLs around and when they go bad they will have to be disposed of in a proper way.  Mercury is a poison and it is cumulative because humans can not easily elkimninate it when it is digested.  However mercury is not so danbgerous when not ingested.  At one time red mercuirichrome was used as a disinfectant on open wounds.  A compound containing mercury was used on the eyes of new born infants to prevent any inferction by possible VD.   School children were alowed to play with mercury, enjoying its curious liquid properties.  Spilled mercury could be swept up without considering proper diosposal.  Now mercury has joined lead, asbestos and most chemicals used to make batteries on the dangerous list.  I guess ithere is danger if  you consider how much of those materials may be found in the homes of averasge Americans.  Mercury vapor is not new to radio engineers.  Automobile radios used to use type OZ4 rectifiers, which were cold cathode tubes, containing mercury.  Broadcasting radio transmitters needeed rectifiers that could handle high voltages at high curents. The most popular types were 866s and their smaller brothers, 816s.  All contained mercury, which when vaporized, made the tubes glow blue and presented a low forward voltage drop, and thus less power to disipate inside them,  than vacuum tube rectifiers without mercury,               

(to be continued next month)                                                                          








      There has not been much good news to report on lately. Lots of news, but not good news. Well, this month we have made some progress. Facilities notified me last week that they had run some antenna cable from the roof of plant 14 down, and into, our Club trailer. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this, believe me. But, my second thought were, “jeepers, I hope they didn’t use RG58U or some Radio Shack garbage..” So, I went over there on the way home, and saw they had used  RG214. This is the same double-shielded cable that we use on the duplexors, so it’s pretty good stuff. I don’t like the losses for 100’ of it on 2 meters, though. I would have preferred something newer like LMR600. This stuff has losses as low as hardline, but is real flexible coax. Nevertheless, we have what we have, and it will certainly be put to use as soon as possible. I also was curious on two other points; how did they route the cable, and why the trailer? Well, the cable was zip-tied to an external electrical conduit that runs up the side of the building. This is precisely what I wanted to do 3 or 4 years ago, but was told I couldn’t, because it would look too ugly. Now I see that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, as usual. Secondly, I am also told that the trailer won’t be going away now. It was supposed to be moved from there to make way for a new loading dock area. I am now hearing that they’ll probably keep the loading dock in plant 1, but maybe relocate it close by to where it is now. Facilities also asked me to indicate to them which antenna to erect on top of the building. I just have to make sure our StationMaster is there, and I will get them to put it up for us. That will get us on the air again. I also wonder to myself, very quietly, if I could possibly sneak a second run of cable right next to the 214 without them noticing it. Then we could use 2 antennas on the repeater, and that would help considerably with our receiver de-sense problems. This all has to get looked at very carefully..

 The news at the home QTH is as follows. We have had the house on the market for about 3 weeks now. Our real estate agent lady has held 2 open houses, both on nice sunny, Saturdays. The first one drew over a dozen families, and the second one drew about 5. We got one offer so far. If we don’t get any other bids soon, we are going to accept that one offer, and try to go to contract as soon as possible. If it all goes as it should, we’ll probably be packing up mid-June, and be out within a few weeks. I should be able to make one more Field Day happen, but we’ll cross that bridge later.

 Our last meeting was a little brief. We had planned to show a video at the meeting room in Farmingdale. But, the person who had the key to the video cabinet had already left for the day, and there wasn’t a spare to be found. Thus, no video. Karen (KC2OPX) called the park office a day later, and the lady there was very apologetic, and promised that this would never happen again. Meanwhile, Andy (W2RNC), spoke to some other folks, and was able to get a copy of the key for himself. So, we should be able to have unfettered access to the video system from now on. We’ll play that video next month, when we meet on 5/16. I hope to see you all here.  –pat KE2LJ











Secretary, Karen KC2OPX


The meeting was called to order by Pat at 5:40 PM.



(not Present)                                                             Most of Bethpage repeater is now in the trailer.                      

Finances continue to be in good shape                      We need a new site.  146.745 is still on somplex.                    


VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP                                  NET REPORT- Zack,B WB2PUE

2 applicant passed Tech exam. 5 VEs were              Thursday night net was good, with some operating 

present: AB2EF, AB2NT, KB2QFT, KC2HNN,       simplex on 146.745.  Sunday 40 Meter net was 

and W2ILP.                                                                good, but conditions locally poor.



Started to clean out trailer.



Discussion of  future meeting place fpr board meetings..



A video which Pat brought which was about a California ham group’s DX expeditions could not be       shown because we did not have the key for the TV/DVD player.  Judy from the Town of Oyster Bay   apologized about the key.  She promised that this won’t happen again.


The meeting was adjoined at 6:30 PM.



40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.

2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz  (-.600)at 8:30 PM EST Thursdays.

                                           145.330 MHz (- .600) at 9:00 PM EST Thursdays.

[Tone for both repeaters is 136.5 Hz]         (ARES/RACES) Mondays




General Meetings of the GARC are held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 5:30 PM.   The meetings will be held at the Allen Ellsworth Park in Farmingdale.  Check the GARC web site to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter, is distributed. Board meetings are held eight days before the General Meeting.





 The web site of the GARC can be found at     Webmaster is Pat Masterson KE2LJ.  Pictures of GARC activities, archives of newsletters, roster of members, and other information about the GARC may be found there.                                          




Most of us won’t be going to the Dayton Hamvention this year. The next best thing is to see the convention with streaming video from a web site.  I’ll type no further myself and print out a message from Tom WA5KUB who sends us this reminder:


Don’t forget to join in the fun of the 2007 Dayton Hamvention this year by live streaming video and audio and chat room.  Many have joined us last year.  We will be broadcasting the 3 days of the Hamvention live at   May 18th – May 20th.  We will also be broadcasting our 500 mile drive live to the Hamvention.  Watch us drive and chat with us and others around the world.  We depart at Wednesday May 16th at approx 1300 GMT.  The web site is up and running right now (right now it has recorded video of a previous Hamvention) and we will be switching to live soon.

Please help us load test the system by going to  and watching and chatting with us and others.

Thanks and 73,



Pat Masterson expects to visit the Hamvention.. Perhaps the WA5KUB camera will scan to him.  I’ll be on the lookout myself.




Here is another cryptogram:









--VKOO   YHFIPB---  







We are continuing to proctor exams for all classes of ham licenses on the second Tuesday of each month starting at 5:00 PM.

The present exams are:

Element 2: Technician

Element 3: General   

Element 4: Amateur Extra Class.


The fee for 2007 is $14 for all exams taken at one sitting. 


Applicants for upgrades should bring a photocopy of their license and any CSCE and their FRN number.


New, first time applicants should be aware that their Social Security number will be required on their application form.  All applicants should bring driver’s license or other picture ID.


Until further notice, VE exams will be at Briarcliffe College

1055 Stewart Avenue

Room: Long Beach #5

Bethpage, NY

Briarcliffe in Bethpage is located in a building that was formerly part of the Grumman complex.


All applicants should contact W2ILP to preregister so as to confirm location.  If no applicants apply, exam sessions may be cancelled.


For any information e-mail: - or phone: -

(631) 499-2214


Study material information is available at the or the web site.

All VECs use the same Q & A pools.

Since the beginning of the VE program the GARC has provided opportunities to take ham exams monthly, during all twelve months of every year.


Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP

and the Grumman VE team.                                   

































20 Years Ago- “CQ DE WA2LQO” – May 1987   Vol. 58 N0.5  CIRC 406


            The may meeting was held in Plant 14A. Steve Mendleshon, WA2DHF, ARRL Hudson Division Director was the speaker.. Last month Hank Foglino spoke about underwater detection techniques and above ground pistol instruction. The GARC VE exam sessions were advertised. The VE exams were given at the Bethpage Senior High School. Howard, W2QUV was the man to contact for information. Ken Fitch, the GARC president wrote about preparation for Field Day. Fred, N2GCW was Field Day chairman. The WAG nets on Thursday nights were run by Bob, W2UVY and Rosalie, N2FEN.  Hank, W2ZZE ran the 20 Meter noon net..  George Klaus wrote an article about building low pass filters for digital frequency counters.  Schematic diagrams were included for both simple R-C filters and an active filter using a 1458 dual operational amplifier chip. The main purpose of the counter filters was to measure low audio frequencies that are used for repeater PLs.    

            Several small articles were repeated from ‘World Radio” of March 1987. One of them was about Amateur Radio testing in Canada.  It said that only four test sessions are held in Canada each year. The annual fee was $26.00 ($20.00 if you already hold a ticket) plus a fee for each portion of the examination taken.  We could consider ourselves lucky in the United States because of our low cost VE sessions.  There is FCC fee for a ham license here.  The FCC only collects fees for vanity call signs.


I hope that you like to read about our club’s past activities.  If there are no complaints I will continue to write about what I find 20 year old newsletters  here.



w2ilp, your editor.