The Color Codes of Optical SETI

by Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP


           There isn’t enough room to numerically mark resistors with their ohmic values, in a way that they could be viewed no matter how the resistors are mounted.  This is even truer today when we have tiny subminiature resistors that dissipate only 1/25 of a watt.   A standard method of labeling resistors had been designed a long time ago, when ˝ watt units were the smallest in popular use.  The resistors are marked with a color code that all technicians and experimenters soon learn.  Small capacitors, such as mica and ceramic types, are also marked with the same numeric color code, but in the case of capacitors dots rather than bands of colors are used.

The basic color code is designed to sequence in a manner similar to the colors of a natural rainbow, except for numerals 0,1,8 and 9, and this is intended to aid in remembering the code.  A component’s value is usually marked in three bands or dots.  In the case of resistors the third dot indicates the number of zeros that are involved thereby acting as a multiplier of powers of ten.  The code is: -

0=Black, 1=Brown, 2=Red, 3=Orange, 4=Yellow, 5=Green, 6=Blue, 7=Violet, 8=Gray, 9=White

There may be additional bands beyond the first three to mark the tolerance of values.  For example; Silver=+/-10%, Gold=+/-5% and no band =+/-20%

          Remembering the color code has always been a task for technicians that exceed remembering the Morse code in usefulness, especially in today’s wonderful world of electronics. There was a famous sentence that many used as a learning aid.  It starts out with “Bad Boys…” to designate Black and Brown…but the rest may be worth forgetting because it is sort of R rated. I like to use: Big Brooms Rake Over Your Garden Beside Violets Growing Wildly, which is more conservative.  





The Color Codes of Optical SETI (continued)


          I have another hobby.  In addition to being an amateur radio operator, I attempt to be an amateur poet.  I try to limit my attempts at poetry in this newsletter unless they pertain to ham radio.  To prove that I have poetic license I will now explain my attempt to meet a challenge that has long been avoided by many professional poets.  You must grant me a little poetic license in regard to my solutions below.  I don’t know if my poetic license is that of a novice or an extra class word wrestler.  I’ll leave that up to you.

A classical poetry challenge states that it is impossible to find words that rhyme with:

Orange, Purple, Month and Silver  (Month isn’t a color but I’ll include it just to illustrate that words other than colors had been considered impossible to rhyme with anything…That is before W2ILP met the challenge.)  So here goes:

ORANGE:     Home in New York on the range,

                       We usually say are-range…

                       But Pennsylvanians cringe,

                       Because they prefer ore-ringe.

PURPLE:       I gave my cat a purr pill,

                       And she turned Purple.

MONTH:       The last day of a month

                       Might be its thirty-oneth

SILVER:       [Now this was for me, the only real challenge.  For this one I had to study works of Ogden Nash, who seemed to have dealt with similar challenges by fits of    fragmentation.]

                       When you’re panning for gold, using mere pencil verification isn’t as certain as penning for silver.


          White light is a mixture of colored frequencies.  Light of  any pure color has a specific frequency just as radio signals have specific carrier radio frequencies.  Such light is known as coherent light, and may be emitted by a laser that is physically capable of emitting one light, frequency, in a way that is similar to a quartz crystal that generates only one fundamental RF frequency.  Light waves, like radio waves, are electromagnetic waves and travels at the same velocity.  The wavelength of light is extremely small so that light waves are measured in angstroms rather than meters. Certain phenomena of light can not be explained by wave theory and so the concept of light being in a form of energy bundles rather than waves is often used.  The light energy units are known as photons. Color TV depends on resolving all visible colors from three primary colors.  The primary colors used for all TV and computer monitor screens are Red, Green and Blue and differ from the primary pigment colors, from which artists can produce almost the entire color spectrum in paint.  Paint is not a source of light but a media which reflects only light colors that it is meant to reflect.

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The Color Codes of Optical SETI (continued)


            Now let me get to a more serious dissertation about light.  It is the fact that the SETI fans have given up on receiving microwave radio signals from intelligent E.T.s and now are searching for light signals.  Their program is now called O-SETI .  I kid you not!

          This is not a joke.  It comes from a large article entitled “The New Search for E.T.”, which appears in the November 2006 (not an April Fools issue) of the prestigious “IEEE Spectrum”.   The article again explains Drake’s equation as a probable reason to believe that highly intelligent E.T.s are probably trying to contact us.  Now we can read about why they believe that the E.T.s will be signaling with light rather than radio. 

          The techniques for receiving light signals by using photo multipliers that convert photons into electrons and optical telescopes called photon buckets may be advantageous over state of the art microwave receivers and dish antennas, but the one way radar equation applies to light in the same way that it applies to microwaves. Our one way radar equation shows that enormous light power would be required to travel hundreds of LYs.  This can be achieved, according to the article, by using nanosecond light pulses that can produce enormous peak power with lower average power. Even so the “lower power” is expected to be a significant percentage of any recognized star’s radiated power. Light photons can be concentrated into narrower beams than microwaves using similar apertures.  The gain advantage of a narrow beam however becomes a disadvantage when we realize that the signal must be aimed specifically at our Earth with much greater precision in order to realize the advantage. The article believes that the E.T.s message data will be injected by the variation in the pulse repetition rate (the spacing between pulses).    When some of the original SETI folks were trying to narrow their microwave search they picked a specific frequency to look for.  It was 1420 MHz, the frequency of the hydrogen atom, which they were expecting would be familiar to any average universal E.T. physicist.  Now what color of light should the folks who have been using a broad band photo bucket since April 2006 at the Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Mass. be paying most attention to?  Well…now they say they must look for a colored light that falls into the optical hole of one of the Fraunhofer lines.  These would be colors that most stars do not radiate and would thus be immune to interference from natural stellar radiation as well as distant pulsars.  The photon bucket directed by Professor Paul Horowitz is now scanning for a broad spectrum of color.  Who can be sure that E.T. transmissions are pulse time modulated?  Perhaps they, like resistors, are color coded!  In a recent bulletin from the ARRL, I learned that the FCC will now permit hams to experiment with spread spectrum modulation on 220 MHz.  This is obviously a chance for the most advanced hams to experiment.  This adds more certainty that advanced or extra  E.T.s will have gotten over their star wars security fears by now, and harnessed the advantage of spread spectrum color coded light transmission.  Who knows for sure?  Like 20 Meters, E.T. DX communication can only be open at night. Our first message from an E.T. might be “Green green green…I Pink it up…Yellow…This is Marvin”.  Oh no! That was in last month’s newsletter.  It came not from an E.T. but from a Microsoft technician in India.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB


 Karen KC2OPX, secretary.


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



 Finances continue to be in good shape.                Renewed membership in METRO-CORE. 


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

There were 4 applicants, 3 Technicians and          Thursday night .330 had a good turn out;.    

1 General,.  VEs present were: AB2NT,                .745 was fair.  Sunday morning net has not been good.  

 KA2GVD, WJ2R and W2ILP.                              Poor propagation on 40 Meters has cause some                                                                                                                                       stations to not be heard.                                                                                                                                        



Bill Savage, N2SFT, performed as Election Chairman, (taking over for Marty NN2C).  The election     slate for 2007 was read, including all incumbents.  Any others desiring to run for office should contact                 Bill. Bill presided over a moment of silence for NN2C.

A new location for GARC meetings, starting in January 2007, was negotiated by Jack Cottrell, WA2PYK.  The new location will be at Alan Park in Farmingdale.  The December 2005 meeting/           Holiday Party will be held at the Old Country Buffet, 3023 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY, the            same place where it was held last December.   



The future of the Grumman Amateur Radio Club was discussed.  Anyone with suggestions for future      meeting presentations should contact Pat or a board member.


The meeting was adjoined at 6:40 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 are usually held at the Underwriters Lab, 1285 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY.  Driving directions and maps can be obtained from   It is suggested that the GARC Web Site be checked to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter is distributed. Board meetings are held eight days before the General Meeting.

                                                                                                                                           Page 5





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.   





In keeping with the motif of this month’s cover story, the internet link of this month is a COLOR TEST.  You can take the test yourself by going to:-

This test can prove more about you than seeing if you are color blind.  It has nothing to do with your IQ so don’t worry about that.  This ingenious test can show if you are able to get the half of your brain that recognizes colors to take control over the other half of your brain that recognizes printed words.  Some people find that it is easy to do so.  For others it is nearly impossible.  The fact is that different tasks make many of us half witted.  Some people are able to control which of their half wits can do a special job. Some people can not.  It is sort of like the fact that some people can’t rub their bellies and pat their heads at the same time…I think.   Converting sounds to letters and words in order to copy Morse code may require functions of both halves of our craniums but with one half dominating…because we don’t want to just copy the sounds of dits a dahs; we want to do that plus convert the dits and dahs to characters.   This takes both brain halves and some coordination between both halves and that is probably why mastering CW is more of a difficult task for some people, especially the people who lack good cross cranium coordination and communication skills.




Here is another cryptogram:  UBHMMHP   TZH   YGH   NLXCD,   ILZ   YGHN   MGTBB   OCGHZOY








Our November general meeting will be at the Underwriters Lab in Melville on November 15th.  This is expected to be our last meeting at U.L.  Our December meeting / Holiday Party will be at the Old Country Buffet in Levittown.  Our meetings for 2007 will be at Alan Park in Farmingdale.  Directions for going to Alan Park will be in the December newsletter.





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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 1: 5 WPM CW

Element 2: Technician

Element 3: General

Element 4: Amateur Extra Class


The fee for 2006 is $14.00 for all exams taken in one sitting.


Applicants for upgrades should bring their present license and a photocopy of it and know their FRN number.


New, first time applicants should be aware that their Social Security number will be required on their application form, unless they register with the FCC for an FRN.


All applicants should bring picture ID such as driver’s licenses.


Until further notice exams will be given 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.


It is recommended that all applicants contact W2ILP to confirm the location, which is subject to change.


For any information e-mail:-

or phone-

(631) 499-2214


Study material is available at the web sites of the ARRL

or W5YI

All VECs use the same Q &A pools.


Since the beginning of the VE program the GARC has provided opportunities to take the ham exams monthly, during all 12 months of every year.


Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP and the GARC VE team.




November 2006

 VOL.  79, NO.  11



Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP

(631) 499-2214





And all the members of GARC (we hope!)


CQ de WA2LQO is published monthly by the Grumman Amateur Radio Club for its members and friends. Send articles and amateur equipment advertisements to:




If you want to submit articles or amateur equipment ads via e-mail do the following:

1. For submission direct to editor call him at above number to set up a transfer.

2. For e-mail transfer:

Internet Address




We have been considering the possibility of distributing this newsletter by e-mail or continuing to post it on our web site rather than sending it by postal mail.  This is because we may not be able to reproduce the newsletter at Northrop Grumman in the future and also because we might like to reduce postal costs.  In order to do so we must know if members have e-mail with attachment access, and/or Internet access.  We realize that some members may not be computer savvy, and do not want to lose them.  Please send Pat your  e-mail address, if you have one.  Also send you telephone number.  It would also help if you could tell if you have Internet access (an ISP) and can read newsletters from the GARC web site.  You might tell if you have MS Word, Adobe Acrobat or other text formatting software, as well.   Anyway sending the newsletter digitally could make it more colorful.   I know that some of us OTs still remember B&W TV, but most of the youngsters of today, like highly intelligent E.T.s, expect everything to be in living color.


On behalf of the GARC, I want to wish all of our members and their families a *HAPPY THANKSGIVING*.            



w2ilp (Incurring Less Postage?)






President                                                     Pat Masterson              KE2LJ    V01-01    516-346-7125

Vice President       Gordon Sammis             KB2UB            Retiree     631-666-7463

Secretary               Karen Cefalo                KC2OPX    
Treasurer               Ed Gellender                   WB2EAV        X02-14    516-575-0013

1Yr Board Member    Zack Zilavy                WB2PUE        Retiree     631-667-4628
1YrBoard Member     Dave Ledo                 AB2EF

1Yr Board Member   Bob Christen            W2FPF            

2 Yr Board Member   Bob Wexelbaum     W2ILP               Retiree     631-499-2214

2 Yr Board Member    Jack Cottrell           WA2PYK          Retiree     516-249-0979

Trustee WA2LQO       Ray Schubnel          W2DKM         Retiree




Meeting Programs       Contact a Board Member

FCC Exam Coord.         Bob Wexelbaum       W2ILP    Retiree         631-499-2214



































                                 TECHNICAL BITS                


The digital computer operates using only two levels of signals.  There is “0” which is usually near zero voltage and “1” which is a voltage of around 2 to 5 volts, depending on the choice of hardware chips involved.  The modern personal computer (PC) was made possible by the development of the microprocessor chip (uP).  To appreciate what a microprocessor does I like to compare it to the human brain.  The organization of the digital computer was explained by John Von Neumann. Every PC contains both analog to digital and digital inputs whose data can be temporarily stored on random access memory (RAM) chips.  A keyboard is an example of a digital input.  A microphone is an example of an analog input.  The computer also contains permanently stored operating software that is stored on a hard drive, where it may be accessed by commands from the uP.  The software for operating the computer program is called its Operating System (OS).

Data can also be stored on the hard drive, as well as specialized program files.  The OS causes the uP to follow a series of commands, which enable the computer to fetch information from RAM or from the hard drive and perform logical comparisons, arithmetic logic, and other operations.  The resulting digital output is sent out to driver hardware circuits. These video and audio drivers contain digital to analog converters, and drive the monitor display, the audio speakers and the printer.  The operating commands of the uP are all enabled by the computer’s clock.  Each OS command requires one or more clock cycles.  The speed of PC clocks has increased greatly since the first PCs became practical, enabling the PC to do more real time work such as displaying DVD video at a speed similar to TV video or better.  The Von Neumann computer block diagram, has given us some insight as to how the human brain must also work.  It must contain memory to store information and it must also contain a processor to operate on the information.  In order to be highly intelligent the brain must be able to handle problems that may be very abstract.  Some people have a very good memory.  They can learn by rote and do very well on most tests…but they may not have the ability to process abstract information and to develop thought based on inner direction.  They may not do well on IQ tests. High IQ geniuses often have poor memories.  They are not interested in remembering stuff that is of no use to them.  What they do have is a talent for processing some types of information from concepts or viewpoints that most people can’t develop.   This is why Einstein did not get good grades during his early school years and why he forgot what he ate for breakfast in his later years.