March / April 2013                                                                                                                         Volume 3, Issue 2
<< back
2013 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge Results
3rd Annual
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

 contest banner

GORHAM, ME - The 2013 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge took place on the 10th of February, only a day after the Northeast was struck by one of the biggest blizzards in recent memory. The contest saw an upswing in partcipation, especially around the Bangor area, and despite the challenging road conditions, a considerable amount of mobile activity.          

Congratulations goes out to Stephen Curry, KD1O, for being this year's overall winner, making a total of 104 QSO's with 59 different cities. Stephen operated in the Fixed Medium category, from Aborn Hill, in Knox, Maine.  Other category winners include:

Dakota Dumont
Stephen Curry
John Donahue
Charles Shepard
Thom Watson
Tim Watson

Contest AwardsPictured in the photo, from left to right: QRP Fixed winner, Dakota Dumont, KB1YYC, 2nd place finisher in the QRP Mobile Category, Cindy Shepard, W1CJS, and QRP Mobile winner, Charlie Shepard, W1CPS.

For the complete writeup, next year's rules, and more details about the contest, please click here.

First 2 Meter Century Club Award Winner
Stephen Curry, KD1O
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

2 Meter Century ClubWith his outstanding performance in this year's Simplex Challenge, making a total of 104 QSO's, Stephen Curry, KD1O, also became the first member of the 2 Meter Century Club. The award,  introduced for 2013, recognizes those stations who submit evidence of having made at least 100 QSO's during the annual  contest.

To learn more about this, and other awards offered by the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, please visit the WSSM Awards page.

Metal Shaping Workshop at Owls Head
by Thom Watson, W1WMG

OWLS HEAD, ME - Club member, Tim Watson, KB1HNZ, recently taught a hands-on metal shaping workshop as part of the Winter Education Series at Owls Head Transportation Museum. The course included instruction on the concepts of stretching and shrinking metal to achieve a desired shape, using a variety of hand tools as well as an English Wheel.

"I wanted to be able to show firstly that there isn't some kind of magic happening here. By focussing on applying controlled stretches and shrinks, we can show that you can produce some really complicated shapes by using some very simple hand tools."

And, with the exception of the English Wheel, the tools really were simple. They ranged from plastic, wooden, and raw hide mallets, to flat and high crown hammers, to a leather bag filled with lead shot. The "shot bag" was used to initiate projects, where heavy stretching was required. By striking the metal over the bag with a ball peen hammer, it begins to curl and the shot gives with each blow. When conforming the metal like this, it begins to get wavy along the edge, so the next step is to use a mechanical shrinker to alieve the waviness. This process is repeated several times until the shape becomes close to what is desired.

One of the students uses hand seamers to create a flange Tim demonstrates the English Wheel Finished project

At this point, you have something that only vaguely resembles the finished piece. Its lumpy and has high and low spots - but this, according to Tim, is completely normal. It brings us to the next phase of metal shaping, called plannishing. Plannishing is the process of finishing the metal, either over a forming head or anvil, or in this case with the English Wheel.

The English Wheel is a fascinating tool. Its shaped like a giant C-clamp with a large wheel (usually on the upper half), and a smaller anvil wheel on the lower. When sheet metal is squeezed through the wheels, it is stretched in a very controlled "track," which when layed side by side, begin to curve the metals slightly. The amount of curve is limited by the crown of the anvil and the amount of pressure applied. With this project, the English Wheel was primarily used to plannish the already strecthed, high-crown panels that were started on the shot bag.

Tim's background in metal work includes motorsports fabrication and classic car restoration, and he's taught on two previous occasions at the museum. "It's always fun to introduce new people to metal shaping," he said. "At this year's workshop, I was pretty impressed with how quickly the students took to it. Everyone completed something they could take home and show off, and they were all of exceptional quality."

If you'd like more information on metal shaping,  please click here to download a copy of the workshop handout. 

DX News
March 25 - May  12
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

By far, the highlight of recent DXpeditions was the TX5K activation of Clipperton Island in early March. The first few days of their expedition frustrated many in North America, as they seemed to concentrate mostly on Europe, calling on CW for EU almost exclusively. For those who were patient, though, they eventually did get around to NA, and hopefully many of us got through the pileups. For me personally, this was the first time working Clipperton since the island was most recently activated before I was licensed, in the Spring of 2000 by the FO0AAA team. Other exciting expeditions of late were XT2TT from Burkina Faso, the 5X8C DXpedition to Uganda in early February, and the Borneo Amateur Radio Club's activation of Spratly Island, with call sign 9M4SLL, in mid March.

Check out the list below for upcoming DXpeditions - some of which will be active for the WPX SSB contest at the end of March. For even more DX news, download this bulletin, forwarded by Stefania, YO9GJY.

03/25 - 04/12
03/26 - 04/16
03/27 - 03/28

03/30 - 04/03
03/30 - 04/13
04/01 - 04/13
04/03 - 04/11
04/04 - 04/16
04/04 - 04/18
04/06 - 04/13
04/07 - 05/05
04/20 - 04/28
04/22 - 05/04
04/23 - 04/30
04/25 - 05/08
04/27 - 05/04
04/28 - 05/05
04/29 - 05/06
05/03 - 05/14
05/03 - 05/12
05/04 - 05/18
05/07 - 05/11
05/11 - 05/12
Cocos Keeling
South Cook Island
South Cook Island
Norfolk Island
By DL7BC (AF-027) Bands: HF; SSB; QRV for WPX; QSL via DL7BC
By SP5EAQ, from Tongatapu (OC-049) Bands: 80-10m; SSB
By F4BKV, F4FET, & EA3NT, from (EU-164) Bands: 80-10m
By 9M6DXX from Vientiane; Bands: HF; 100W; QSL via M0URX
From (OC-003) Bands: 160-10m; SSB, CW, RTTY; QSL via N3SL
By AG1LE,  from Rarotonga, (OC-013) Bands: HF
By JA1XGI, from Pohnpei (OC-010) Band: 160-10m; CW, SSB, RTTY
By G0VJG, from (AF-024) Bands: 80-10m; QSL via RSGB bureau
From (OC-097) Bands: 80-6m, incl 60m&2m; EME, CW, SSB, RTTY
From Bayfield, (NA-021) Bands: HF; QSL via Direct or VE Bureau
By IK2GZU, from Ilembula; Bands: HF; spare time operation
By DF8DX; also from Pemba Island (AF-063) Bands: HF
From Chichijima (AS-031) Bands: 40-10m; CW, SSB, RTTY
From Bodufinolhu (AS-013) Bands: HF
From Nukunonu Atoll (OC-048) Bands: 80-10m; CW, SSB, RTTY
From Djerba (AF-083) Bands: HF-6m; SSB, PSK31, RTTY, CW
From Chichijima; Bands: 160-6m; all modes; QSL: JP1IOF or Buro
From Djerba (AF-083) Bands: HF
By ZL1AAO, from Rorotonga (OC-013) Bands: 40-10m; SSB
From (OC-005); Bands: 80-10m; CW, SSB, RTTY
By K4UUK; BAnds: 80-6m; SSB; QSL direct via K4UUK
By ZS6AYU, from Bilene; Bands: 40-10m; CW
From Piton de la Fournaise (AF-016) Bands: HF; all modes

QSLing International Broadcast Stations
Writing Useful Reception Reports
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

International broadcasting across borders is a very specialized form of media, which makes use of bouncing signals off the ionosphere to reach targeted audiences. As ham radio operators, we can relate to the challenges this poses for engineers, as well as the fact that frequency choice, and the time of day these transmissions take place, are extremely critical. Since shortwave broadcasting began in the early part of the last century, one of the most effective ways to maintain a quality signal is to make use of reports on reception quality from listeners. Many shortwave stations have made an appeal (and still do) for such reports at the beginning or end of their broadcasts. In response to such reports, a station will often send back a QSL card, filled in with technical details of the transmission that was heard.

Nowadays, many stations send out QSL cards simply as a public relations excersise, and make appeals not for technical information so much as feedback for their programming, but either way, reception reports are still a way to gage whether or not their broadcasts are being effective. Radio Netherlands writes in a pamphlet called "Writing Useful Reception Reports," that "knowing that specific items are of interest to people thousands of kilometers away is a helpful stimulus to the broadcaster. Trends in listener mail, and even individual letters, are often a topic of discussion at monthly producer meetings. Being different is key to Radio Netherlands survival in a financial climate that is becoming increasingly hostile to public service broadcasters around the world."

KOL Israel CHU

Popular broadcasters such as Radio Netherlands, Radio Prague, and others have in fact suffered from cutbacks in recent years, and only survive as internet broadcasters today. But this almost defeats the original purpose of such broadcasts. While radio waves are free to anyone who can receive them, the internet, in places such as China, is heavily regulated. This should only further the need to write in support of international broadcasters, and provide them with the useful information they need to keep going.

For those who have never written a reception report, there are some standards to be followed. To begin with, always include your name and address, as well the station address, and in some cases, the name of the specific program (if you're commenting on a particular one). Next, you should include the date, written out in full, such as March 20th, 2013. This cuts down on any confusion, since the shorthand is different depending on which continent you reside. Then you have to include the time you heard the broadcast. When indicating the time, ALWAYS write it in UTC (or GMT), so that no conversion is necessary. Next, describe the point on the dial that the signal came in. This should be indicated in kHz.

Other useful pieces of information include the receiver you used, as well as the antenna. Portable radios with built-in antennas perform adequately in most cases and should be noted, but if you use a specialized receiver, with either a random longwire or specially built antenna such as a dipole, yagi, or inverted V, these should be mentioned by name.

Next is perhaps the most important part. Almost as soon as reception reports began to be sent to radio stations, there became a need for standardization, so they could be compared. Soon a set of internationally recognized codes were introduced. The most popular is the SINPO code, in which each letter stands for a specific item, and each is rated from 1 to 5. (See the chart below). For example, a 43333 report would indicate a Good Signal, with Moderate Interference, Moderate Noise, Moderate Fading, and a Fair Overall assessment.


Next, you should include program details, and comments about the program (or programs) that you listened to. This doesn't mean you have to copy word for word what is said, but just note the titles of the programs, some of the key topics, and tell whether or not you enjoyed listening to it and why. Its also important to say whether you intend to listen again, items that interest you, and what topics you suggest the station should cover in the future.

So, next time you tune in to a shortwave broadcast, take the time to write a report, and not only will receive an interesting QSL card in response, but you'll also be helping the engineers and programmers to continue to provide a necessary international service.

Member Spotlight

Charlie Shepard, W1CPS
by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Charlie first became interested in Amateur Radio, like so many of us, from listening to his scanner. When the opportunity came to learn more about the hobby during a class at Wassamki Springs Campground, he was all in. "My elmer was Frank Krizan, KR1ZAN," he said. "Frank has helped a lot of hams get their start." When asked what his favorite aspect of the hobby was, he said "meeting new people that I would never have met if not for radio," and went on to describe the satisfaction he has from being able to assist the public through radio communications.

Charlie's favorite band is 20 meters, and that's where you're likely to find him when he's in the shack. He's also been known to frequent the AM portion of 6 meters, and is found regularly on VHF when mobile.  Charlie's wife, Cindy, W1CJS, is also a ham.

Charlie  W1CPS Shack                                                                      Charlie in the shack                                                                                          The W1CPS Shack

Outside of the hobby, Charlie enjoys camping outdoors, learning how to fly, "but most importantly," he says, "spending time with my wife."  By trade, Charlie is a master burner technician, and is the sole proprietor of C&C Heating Company, of Westbrook. In the summer, when the heating business is slow, he works for White Brothers (a division of Lane Construction), driving a vaccine sweeper for paving crews all over the state.

Charlie is one of the founding members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, and also served as its President from 2010-2011.

QSL Corner

Below you'll find some recent QSL's. If you received an interesting one yourself that you'd like to show off, please send a digital image to [email protected] and we'll be sure to publish it in an upcoming issue.



Pope Benedict XVI

Republic of Congo, 27 January, 2012. 20m SSB contact by KB1HNZ at 2330 UTC.

Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, 24 June, 2012. 20m SSB contact by WS1SM at 2050 UTC.

Radio Vaticana
- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during one of his visits to Vatican Radio - QSL for RPT of an English Broadcast to Africa at 0500 UTC on 7260 KHz.

For Sale
Ten If you have and items for sale, contact one of our members to have it listed here, or send an email to: [email protected] with a brief description and contact information.

Portland Hamfest - April 20th at the Stewart Morrill American Legion Post #35, 413 Broadway, South Portland, ME. For more information, contact: John Bogner, W1JLB, at (207) 776-2288 or email: [email protected]

Framingham ARA Annual Spring Flea Market - April 7th at the Joseph P. Keefe Technical School, 750 Winter Street, Framingham, MA. For more information, visit: or contact Stephen Hewlett, KB1NIV, at (508) 872-9336, or email: [email protected]  
The Flea at MIT - April 21st at the MIT Campus, 40 Albany Street, Cambridge, MA. Sponsored by the MIT Radio Society, Harvard Wireless Club, MIT Electronics Research Society, and the MIT UHF Repeater Association. For more information, visit:, call (617) 253-3776,  or email: [email protected]

WRTC 2014
items for trade
If you have any items for trade, contact one of our members to have it listed here. Send an email to: [email protected] with a brief description and contact information. 
If you offer any ham radio related services, for example, if you repair meters or radios, build your own transmitters, make QSL cards to order, or rebuild microphones, you may list these services here.

If there are any items you may be looking for, use this space to get the word out. Just send an email to [email protected], or mention it at an upcoming meeting.
All advertisements are listed for FREE. Advertising shall pertain to products and services which are related to amateur radio. No advertisement may use more than 40 words. Please send a description of items for sale, wants, or services to Thom Watson at [email protected], or bring it to an upcoming meeting of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine. All ads will be printed one time, unless renewed.
Page 2