Hellschreiber Revisited

By Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP


MAY 2006                                             VOL.  79, NO. 5                                                 CIR 120

My favorite digital mode is Hellschreiber.  That is not because it is popular or because it is fuzzy.  (It isn’t fuzzy according to Lotfi Zedah’s technical definition of a fuzzy logic system).   I like Hellscreiber because it differs from other digital modes which use computer logic to decode codes and convert them to ASCII fonts for display on computer monitors.  Reading Hellschreiber pixels out of the noise depends in the human brain to recognize displayed pixel patterns that form whole words.  There are getting to be fewer and fewer things that depend on human brains these days.  I’m not a Luddite, but I want to use my brain rather than my PC, whenever practical.  I’m sort of like the CW loving Hams who want to copy by ear, rather than by computer sound card.  Many hams don’t want to forget the skill that they learned in order to be licensed HF hams, even if they have software that can automatically copy CW.  I don’t want to forget the skill of reading by whole word recognition that I started practicing in first grade, which is possible even when some Hell pixels are missing.  There is also the advantage that Hellscreiber may actually work better than RTTY, PSK-31, MFSK-16 and other more popular digital modes, during conditions of high noise level.  Mathematically Hellschreiber has all the technical advantages of high speed CW of similar bandwidth.

If you save your newsletters you can refer to an article about Hellschreiber that I wrote in the March 2006 issue.  I also wrote about fuzzy logic in the April 2005 issue, where I explained why I believe that Hellschreiber is not fuzzy..  On the next page there is a message that I am forwarding, which tells of a newly formed Hellschreiber Club.  There continues to be an official Hellschreiber reflector, where the original software writers post.   Some feel a new club was not needed, but I believe that anything that can increase the popularity of Hell is heavenly.   As Art Linkletter said on “Truth or Consequences”…”Aren’t we devils?”

My best recent DX so far using Hellschreiber was a near solid QSO with Alexi, RV6YZ/6, whose QTH is Krasnogrard, Russia. (near the Black Sea).  This was on 20 Meters, using an antenna inside of my attic, which favors north-south..


 The Bands Are Going to Hell!


Here is your chance to operate one of the “new” digital modes that has a lot of history behind it.


For the Past six or seven years I’ve enjoyed the leisurely pace of Hellschreiber, a digital mode that prints across your screen a bit like a fax, which is why it is sometimes dubbed a “fuzzy mode”.



Feld-Hell chugs along at 25 wpm, and some software allows you to print simple pictures like smiley faces and stars.  Mostly you’ll find US operators who like to rag chew, but I’ve had some European DX contacts as well.


A RICH HISTORY There is a rich history to this mode, which was originally patented in 1929 by Rudolf Hell and used exclusively in portable field operations during WWII. It eventually was employed by some news services and remained in use as recently as 1980.  Unlike teleprinters, Hellschreiber machines had only two moving parts and so were mobile and dependable. 


Today you don’t need a Hellschreiber machine because of software by IZ8BLY, MultiPSK or the commercial MixW.


ANYBODY OUT THERE?  Until recently, Hellschreiber enthusiasts were sometimes frustrated by the low level of activity in this mode.  Then in March a Feld-Hell club was formed which has stimulated new interest in the old fuzzy mode.   Membership is free and there are some achievement awards, links to a cluster that spots digital stations, a club newsletter and a weekly 20-meter net.


You can learn about the Hellschreiber mode, join the club and get links to software at http://www.feldhell.co.uk/ .


This page is a w6lax.doc.  It was sent to me by Steve, W0SDG, on April 22, 2006, for the purpose of being included in club newsletters.  Steve says that in just a little over a month 300 members worldwide have joined the Feld-Hell Club and received club numbers for future contests and awards.


As of April 27, I have been an active member of the Feld Hell Club.  I received my membership certificate and my FH Number is 328.  –w2ilp--







Since the UL will not be available for the GARC meeting on May 17th, the meeting will be held at the Bethpage Credit Union (BFU).  It is important that those who wish to attend this meeting arrive before 5:00 PM.  This is because the BFU closes at 5:00 PM for normal business and we must be escorted into the meeting room prior to closing time.  If anyone is not familiar with the BFU, its address is 899 S. Oyster Bay Road, Bethpage, NY 11714-1030.   You can use that to get driving directions from MapQuest.com.




Here is another Cryptogram:








Solution to April’s Cryptogram:


   --W.S. GILBERT--





Next month the cover article in this newsletter will not be about another digital mode.  I intend to write an article about a famous radio listening project.  It is about what is called the SEARCH for EXTRA-TERRESTIAL INTELLIGENCE (SETI).  Unlike ham radio, SETI is not two way communication.  It is hopefully one way communication from intelligent life far out in space to listeners on Earth.  It does not require a ham license to listen, but many hams, as well as SWLs and well equipped government and academic scientists have been involved with SETI.  I personally believe that SETI is a waste of time.  I will explain why in the next newsletter, so stay tuned.  Meanwhile I would like to hear the opinions of the readers of this newsletter.  Do you think that SETI is a worthwhile project?  Why?  Why not?  If you have the September 2005 issue of “QST”, you can read an article on the subject of SETI that was written by H. Paul Shuch, N6TX.   I had been in contact with Paul for about five years via e-mail and have debated with him about SETI.   The project’s history, as well as the general subject of the possibility of alien intelligence is indeed interesting.

                                                                W2ILP, Your editor                                                                   






Karen KC2OPX

The meeting was called to order at 5:45 PM by Pat.



Finances continue to be in good shape.                     There is need to move the Bethpage repeater.


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

Two applicants passed Technician exams.                The Sunday Morning Net was poor as all could

One of the applicants was 12 years old.                     not copy each other.  The Thursday night net was

VEs present were AB2NT, KB2QFT,                         good.

KC2HNN, W2ILP and W2QUV.                                           



The next meeting will be at the Bethpage Credit Union.



Frank Fallon, N2FF, was the speaker for this evening.   He spoke about hams in relation to 9/11, Kuwait      and Iraq communication.  He told us that ARRL has proposed to the FCC that regulations should require a band plan based on bandwidth rather than modes.  He spoke about the work of Ed Hare and BPL.  He said that the FCC had decided in 2000 that CW exams should be eliminated but they could not do so due to International regulation (by the ITU), which required all HF operators to know Morse code at that time.   This regulation no longer exists. . He expects that the CW tests will be eliminated but at this time we do not know when.  Frank also told us about making donations and nominations to the Bergen Amateur Radio Awards for the Grand ‘Ol Ham and Technical Achievement Awards by 5/23/06.

The meeting was adjoined at 7:00 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 http://www.mapquest.com   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 and GARC members are invited. to attend, but please call Pat Masterson, KE2LJ, at 516-346-7125 to confirm place and time of meeting. SEE NOTE IN THIS NEWSLETTER FOR MAY MEETING LOCATION.


GARC WEB SITE  The web site of the GARC can be found at http://www.qsl.net/wa2lqo/     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.                                                       




The internet link for this month is: - http://www.werewolf.org.index.htm

This is the website of Laurence, GJ3RAX, whose QTH is Jersey Island.  I met Laurence when he responded personally by e-mail to a message I had typed on the Mensa - Ham Radio special interest group reflector.  His web site is as good as or better than those of other Hams and it links to ARRL and QRZ as well as RSGB sites and technical information.  It is outstanding, in my opinion, because it includes a group of humorous or not so humorous (depending on your outlook) quotes which I might have quoted from myself.  Now don’t go trying to work Laurence if you want to get IOTA points or a QSL card.  He prefers to rag chew about the kind of things that I think are more important to human survival, and doesn’t QSL to casual contesters who only want to swap the mundane required contest data..  He is also unlike most Mensans.  Most Mensans only use their intelligence for friendly sociable gatherings, without any serious technical or political debating.




My biggest concern about BPL is that I may not be able to recognize it when it gets tested in my area.  This is because I have always been troubled by at least S4 of power line noise, centered on 40 meters.

I sent a form letter to Mr. Richard M. Kessel, who is CEO of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).  The letter was suggested by Frank Fallon and other ARRL members and it requested that BPL work be halted as a result of tests made in other locations that proved that BPL would cause harmful interference to hams and SWLs.  In all fairness, I will reproduce the hand signed response I received from Mr. Kessel here.


                                                                                                              April 11, 2006

Dear Mr. Wexelbaum:


            Thank you for your letter regarding the Long Island Power Authority’s Broadband Over Power Lines (BPL) and Wireless Demonstration Project.


            The two year demonstration project, commencing during the second half of 2006, will help LIPA make crucial decisions regarding the application of broadband and wireless technologies to its grid to enhance systems operations and reliability.  It will also help LIPA evaluate the potential for offering price competitive broadband services such as internet and telephone access over power lines.


            With respect to your concerns regarding radio interference, LIPA has included requirements in the Request for Proposal (RFP) which address them.  For example, the RFP requires that vendor proposals strictly adhere to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations regarding interference and abide by its prohibitions and guide lines.  In addition the RFP also requires vendors to provide a proven history of FCC regulatory compliance in their proposal.  


            I feel confident that these measures will go a long way in addressing your concerns.  Please be assured that the proposal that best serves the needs of all of LIPA’s rate payers will be selected to build and operate the demonstration project.


                                                                                                               Richard M. Kessel






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 for all exams taken at one sitting. 


Applicants for upgrades should bring a photocopy of their license 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 if possible so as to confirm location, but walk-ins may still be accepted.


For any information e-mail: -

[email protected] or phone: -

(631) 499-2214


Study material information is available at the http://www.arrl.org or the http://www.w5yi.org 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.




May 2006

 VOL.  79,  NO.  5



Bob Wexelbaum  W2ILP

(631) 499-2214

[email protected]




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

[email protected]




 I hope that those who aren’t interested in digital modes don’t mind that I have again devoted newsletter space to Hellschreiber.  I will be interested to learn if any GARC members join the Feld Hell Club.  There are contests scheduled for the future, which present Feld Held members hope will encourage more activity.   The old Hellschreiber reflector is still active as well, but activity had been dwindling.  The new club may help to spur more interest.  Even with poor propagation conditions and poor antennas, I do manage to work Hellschreiber on 20 and 40 Meters.  I admit that I don’t spend very much time on the air, but when I do get on I do make contacts.   If you guys aren’t interested I won’t bother to continue writing about Hellschreiber here…but I do think it is a very interesting mode and may be the kind of thing that helps ham radio survive after there are no skilled CW OPs.


There is still no news as to when the FCC will drop the 5 wpm CW General test requirement, but it is certain to happen.


The new Q & A pool for the Tech Class exams is now available.   New Tech tests will be used by all VEs starting in July.



W2ILP (Interfering LIPA Power?)




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             

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

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

Trustee WA2LQO       Ray Schubnel        W2DKM      Retiree




Meeting Programs       Contact a Board Member

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


































                          TECHNICAL BITS                


Regular Amplitude Modulation (AM) involves plate modulation in most cases.  As mentioned, before, plate modulation of the final RF amplifier requires an audio modulator of at least half the power capability of the RF power input.  It also requires a modulation transformer, which is usually quite expensive.  Since the hams who built transmitters before the days of SSB usually used non-linear (class C) RF amplifiers, low level AM modulation of early transmitter stages was not possible.  Thus hams tried to find the least expensive way to transmit phone signals, and found that screen modulation offered a possibility.  It had the advantage of being capable of modulating a high power rig, without a high power modulator and without a modulation transformer.  The basic requirement was that a tetrode or pentode needed to be used for the final amplifier.  I was told that the first type of screen modulation that was tried by hams was found to work by modifying what was called a “clamp tube” to do screen modulation.  This mode was called “clamp tube modulation”.  A clamp tube circuit in a CW rig was originally used to protect the final RF amplifier from running at excessive current if the RF drive was not producing the proper control grid self bias.  A ham decided to connect a low power audio amplifier to the clamp tube, which protects the final by controlling its screen voltage and he found that he then had a phone transmitter.  The signal from a clamp tube screen modulated rig is the only signal that you won’t learn about in a college communication course…but it does work.  It is what is known as a controlled carrier mode and is unlike normal AM, because both the sidebands and the carrier vary with the audio waveform.