Application for ARRL Centennial Awards Now Available

The application window for the ARRL Centennial Points Challenge and the W1AW Worked All States Award is now open. Read the ARRL press release here:

http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-centennial-points-challenge-w1aw-was-awards-application-window-open

At the time of this writing, both application forms are broken–the “country” field isn’t working–but this author is hopeful the bug will be fixed very quickly.

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Bencher, Inc. sold to Vibroplex, LLC

vibro

(Source: Scott Robbins W4PA, Vibroplex)

Press Release – March 18, 2015

Bencher-by1Bencher, Inc. of Antioch Illinois announced the sale today of the Bencher Amateur Radio product lines to Vibroplex, LLC of Knoxville, Tennessee. This sale ends Bencher’s presence in the amateur radio field, thus allowing the principals, Jere Benedict, President, and Bob Locher, (W9KNI) to move towards retirement.

The product lines sold include the Bencher BY series of Iambic Paddles, (the world’s best selling iambic paddle, with over 150,000 sold) as well as the ST series of single lever paddles, the Bencher Hex Paddle, the N2DAN Mercury Paddle, and the Bencher RJ series Hand Keys. Also included in the sale are the HK-1 Universal Hook-up kit and the YA-1 Low Pass Filter.

Vibroplex has agreed to honor the manufacturer’s warranties of all covered products, and to offer parts and support for these products as well.

Vibroplex will continue to offer the Bencher products through existing marketing channels.

Vibroplex may be contacted at http://www.vibroplex.com, or at (865) 309-5073.
Jere Benedict and Bob Locher wish to express their gratitude to the amateur radio community for its interest and support since the sale of the first Bencher amateur radio products in the early 1970’s.

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This African ISP commercial may be the best amateur radio promotion. Ever.

Many thanks to my buddy Ulis (K3LU) for sharing this brilliant commercial:

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RadioShack liquidation sales

[Note: This post was originally published on my shortwave radio blog, the SWLing Post.]

RadioShack-StoreClosing-2

One of my local RadioShack stores is closing and liquidating all of the merchandise and store fixtures. I’ve visited the store twice and found that the best bargains come from the components cases where everything was marked at least 70% off.

RadioShack-Components

I purchased about $60 worth of components like those above: test leads, connectors, plugs, adapters, RG-58 cables, fuses, breadboards, etc. Two packs of PL-259 crimp on connectors, for example, were about 70 cents each. Those prices are much better than you would find at a good hamfest; so I stocked up!

Several of you have commented about your local RS deals as well–SWLing Post reader, Troy, writes:

The Radio Shack® Digital Recorder you blogged about a few months back is marked down to $2.98 at Radio Shack stores – if it can be found. I drove 43-miles one way to buy one today. Despite gas and a $3 highway toll, I’m happy.

Radio Shack online inventory has historically been abysmal and given that stores are closing I’d encourage your readers to call stores – even if stock is listed as unavailable.

I haven’t tested it yet but from a previous post it appears software can convert the audio from mono to stereo. I’m sure I can figure it out with my MacBook Pro, but if not – given the modest expenditure – I’m satisfied nonetheless.

RadioShack-StoreClosing Many thanks, Troy!

If you are interested in snagging deals, you should act now. There is very little left in my local store and, according to a district manager I spoke with, items are moving as quickly in other regional stores. From reader reports, this is the case across the country.

Keep in mind: not all RadioShack stores are closing. Many franchise and corporate stores will remain open, at least for the time being.

Click here to view a list of all RadioShack store closures.

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Working K1N: The Navassa Island DXpedition

Lighthouse OP at night LED lighting (Photo: k1N DXpedition)

Lighthouse OP at night LED lighting (Photo: k1N DXpedition)

While I love QRP and ham radio in general, I must admit that I’m not much of a DXer. I love the idea of DX, but at this point in my life, it’s hard to make time for it and, frankly, my CW skills are somewhat lacking.

I owe many thanks, though, to my good friend, Vlado (N3CZ), who sat with me yesterday at his QTH and coached me through working K1N on 15 meters CW. It was a bit like learning from a Jedi Master…er, Jedi Elmer. At any rate, it felt good to see my call in the K1N log and to know that I worked a station that may not reappear for another 25 years.

If you have the time and patience, you might try working K1N soon.  I understand the K1N team announced earlier today that they intend to tear down their stations starting this Saturday.  They will go QRT Sunday morning.

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Fully-assembled Mountain Topper rigs soon available from LnR

MountainTopperMany thanks to Chris (K4RCH) for passing along this message from Steve (KD1JV) at LnR Precision:

I am pleased to announce that the 3 band Mountain Topper will be commercially available as a fully assembled product from LnR Precision. They should be available for purchuse around the end of January and will cost $250.00

Steve KD1JV

If you’d like a peek at The Mountain Topper manual, click here to download (PDF).

Steve (KD1JV) is well-known for his brilliant QRP transceivers–$250 is a true bargain. Check out AE5X’s blog for more info about the MTR.

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Sherwood Engineering ranks the Flex 6700

Flex_6700

Rob Sherwood has now tested and ranked the new FlexRadio Systems 6700 on his receiver test data page. Sherwood-RX-data

Hint: the 6700 tops the list when sorted by third-order dynamic range narrow spaced. Click here to view the results.

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October 10: Let’s talk shortwave…and astronomy

PARIdish

I’ve been invited to speak at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), a non-profit educational radio astronomy observatory (and former NASA tracking station as well as one-time NSA installation), in the mountains of western North Carolina.

I’ll be speaking about shortwave radio, of course–both its technical and cultural aspects–on October 10, 2014, at 7:00 pm EDT.  Afterwards, there will be a tour of the PARI campus, and an opportunity to stargaze with both amateur and professional astronomers.

Many thanks to my buddy, Ken Reitz, who shared this article about my presentation in the area’s local county newspaper; here’s my statement about the presentation:

“Shortwave radio is an international communications medium that has been in existence for nearly one hundred years,” said Witherspoon, “yet this vintage technology supports an ever-evolving multicultural landscape that, remarkably, remains relevant today. The Internet and mobile technologies have made the dissemination of information more readily accessible to many, yet shortwave radio remains viable and dynamic, and in many ways still outstrips the Internet.

“I plan to share some of shortwave radio’s diverse voices and investigate some of the technology used to receive them. So, if you are a shortwave enthusiast, or simply interested in learning more about shortwave, this program is for you and will be suitable for all ages.”

Read the full article here–and if you can make the journey, join us for shortwave and astrological fun. There is a small charge for the evening; all proceeds go towards PARI’s mission of providing public education in astronomy.

PARI is a stunning radio astronomy campus which will no doubt be accentuated by the mountains’ fall leaf colors on October 10. For PARI’s location, click here.

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NM0S’ Ozark Patrol regenerative receiver kit

k0awb_ozarkpatrol 3small

Just learned that David Cripe (NM0S) has a new kit for sale: the Ozark Patrol regenerative receiver kit.

The Ozark Patrol is a simple, straightforward kit, designed with beginners in mind. The kit is a through-hole design, which is to say, with no surface-mounted parts.  All of the component values and reference numbers are silk-screened on the board to indicate each part’s location, making for truly quick and fool-proof assembly.

What’s more, Dave is a talented kit designer; he’s the brains behind the kit for our successful ETOW HumanaLight (originally conceived by engineer Greg Majewski). He’s not only clever like that, he’s also a great pal.

In the past, when Dave has announced new radio kits for sale, he’s sold out within a few days. That’s why I ordered mine the moment I saw the announcement.

And, hey…not only does just $40 plus shipping ($46 in the US) get you a superb regen receiver kit, but proceeds also support the Four State QRP Group. Win-win, in my book.

Here are a few specifications and design features listed on the Four State QRP Group’s website:

  • Frequency Range: 3.5-15 MHz in two bands
  • Sensitivity: Yes!
  • Power Supply: 6 x AA batteries
  • Audio Output: A 2.6” speaker is included, as well as a jack for 1/8” stereo headphones

Want one, too? Click here to order your own Ozark Patrol kit…and enjoy tinkering as well as listening!

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New HRO store in Plano, Texas

HROLogoMany thanks to Dave (N9EWO) who writes:

Ham Radio Outlet has announced a new store location in Plano, TX planned to open in the first quarter of 2015.

see:   http://www.hamradio.com/news_announcements.cfm

Thanks, Dave!

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