Dec 1, 2010

A HAM who's been a Net Controller for 25 Years : VU2DPN felicitated during HAMFEST 2010

The Madras VHF group started a small round table net on 145.500 Mhz from 20.30 hrs during 1985 . 5 to 8 VHF stations joined and used to discuss about various technical subjects related to VHF Radio. This was the period when the chennai VHF activity had just started like a new baby's birth. In the mid 80's madras VHF hambirds were flying only with 1/4 wave antennas which covers only 5 to 10 km radius, slowly the antenna set up improved the VHF activity also became popular . That was the time the a formal net was lauched with set timings,frequency and so on.
Slowly the net check-ins increased from 25 to somtimes 75 callers checking-in . An average of 25 check ins per day used to be there both for the morning and night nets . When the Federation of amateur radio conducted the AGM in chennai the check in crossed 100 callers . After getting the repeater the activity sky rocketed and checkins also crossed average of 50 callers. During the August net checkins 125 callers came on air in an hour.

From the day one of starting the informal Chennai VHF Group/round table in the mid 1980's till today , HAM's in Chennai and outside who check-in to the morning 7:00 am VHF 145.775 Mhz net in Chennai are familiar with this lovely call from a passionate net controller "This is the good morning net conducted by MADRASVHF GROUP, inviting callers to the morning Channels , VU2DPN listening" .
This voice has been rendering service to HAM Radio as the Chennai Net controller for the past 25 years with his unmatched dedication , passion and committment to this unique hobby . The chennai hams wanted to honour him at HAMFEST 2010 held at Pollachi and presented him with a special award . Om Charuhassan VU2 SCU present a memento to him.
Thanks for the efforts taken by VU3 MOA OM mohan in organising this and all wish to keep hearing VU2DPN as net controller for many more decades to come.

Nov 15, 2010

HAMFESTINDIA 2010 held at pollachi a grand success

Hamfest India 2010 held at pollachi on 13th and 14th November was a grand success with great eyeball and nice get-together celebrations for all radio lovers . More than 510 HAM's from all over India as well as abroad participated. Around 30 hams and swls attended from Chennai.

For Full profile 100+ Photo Albums Click below links:
The weather conditions were excellent, a simple homebrew VHF repeater with 500mw output at the venue for local communication (covering from palghat to Coimbatore with low power). Hams from Calcutta, Bombay, Cochin, palaghat, Bangalore and one from Japan also participated. Excellent arrangements from the college, good food. Few stalls selling commercial and home brew antennas, old and new connectors, assembled working boards used scopes and frequency counters added special interest to the home brewers.
Our Chennai ham Aravind VU2ABS with his XYL had the biggest stall selling all kind of HAM tech stuff like a Ham radio superstore you find abroad.

A special thanks to Vijayan VU2 WDP and other pollachi hams for the great function. The next ham meet would be at palghat. More updates with photos would follow.

Chennai hams who participated :

Nov 11, 2010

Wouxun announces VHF/UHF DualBand Base Station

Its good news for all the Wouxun brand radio lovers . Already ChennaiHams Team facilitated two lots of imports of Wouxun dualband handies into India with very good user feedback from Indian HAMS in terms of features vs price & overall value for money.

Finally, Wouxun has announced a new radio in their line-up. It is a dual-band mobile radio. Wouxun have unveiled the KG-UV920R dual band mobile rig. 50/25/5w VHF/40/20/5w UHF RX/TX with AM 500-2000KHz/FM 65-220MHz and LW 150-500 KHz reception.

* Dual Receive (Truly, not dual-watch like the handhelds)
* Crossband
* Dual Frequency display
* 50W
* 999 channels
* Remote head.. Mount radio somewhere else and just put the head on your dash. Looks like Mic plugs directly into the head also. Hope that's a standard feature and includes mounting gear.

Looks like there are going to be multiple versions like the handhelds. 218-260 is listed! So there's a possiblity there of 2m/222.. 136-174/218-260. There's also some weird stuff like the possibility of 2mhz-30mhz AM-only receive. Or 500-2000khz, Or 50-500khz all AM-only. Apparently FM broadcast is available too. So one option there gets you AM & FM radio.

We will need to await and see how they are going to price and how the final version performs , keep reading these pages for further updates.

Nov 9, 2010

Times of India Chennai Article : Amateur weathermen saw cyclone Jal fizzling out

Times of India Chennai published an article on how avid HAM weather enthusiasts based in Chennai monitored weather channels as well as used sattelite data for cyclone data interpretation of recent cyclone "Jal". It also speaks about general benefits of HAM radio and how valuable it is to the society.

Sep 22, 2010

WPC issues clarification on new Amateur rules effective 1st April 2010

At last WPC has issued detailed written clarification with regards to amendments made to the Amateur Radio rules in 2009, which came into effect from 1st April 2010.

Key Changes:

From the existing 4 Categories of licence : There shall be two categories of licences, namely:
(i) Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence (General) - Grade I & Advanced merged
(ii) Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence (Restricted) - Grade II & Restricted merge

New fee structure as below.

Period of Validity - A licence granted under these rules shall be issued for a period of 20 years or lifelong as the case may be commencing on the date of issue of the licence and expiring on the last day of the month preceding the month of issue. For the purposes of this rule, the expression “life long” means till the licence holder attains the age of 80 years. Validity of lifelong licence may be extended on specific request of the licence holder for 10 years at a time without any additional payment.”

Another key development which will be happy news for budding HAMS is that the restricted + Grade II combined "Restricted" license exam there would be no morse code test . New band spectrum allocation as below.

For full official memorandum with full details , pls click on files download section as below.

ChennaiHamsBlogspot Team

Sep 5, 2010

Chennai VHF Repeaters Connected on Echolink

Chennai hams have now managed to go wi-fi/Hi-Tech with an Echolink connectivity via VU2 PUM-R link on the web . The node number is 492650.

Echolink was developed by HAM Jonathan Taylor K1RFD and is a computer based Amateur Radio system that allows radio amateurs to communicate with one another using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology on the Internet for at least part of the path between them. The system allows reliable worldwide connections to be made between radio amateurs, greatly enhancing Amateur Radio's communications capabilities.

In essence it is the same as other VoIP applications (such as Skype), but with the unique addition of the ability to link to an amateur radio station's transceiver worldwide thereby enhancing VHF radio coverage substancially. With this Global Hams can get in touch with any HAM in most parts of South India using link which connect two repeaters in Chennai & one repeater in Yercaud.

With a home brew interface developed by VU2 WIN the node is connected in the morning with the VU2MRR repeater (145.775(-600 Khz) for the morning net and in evenings with the VU3MVR 145.675 MHZ(-600 Khz) repeater for the evening net. After our local net it is linked during the nets with the VU2 TCD Yercaud repeater also, thus giving a very wide coverage.

Even though the interface looks simple it has taken nearly a month time to get the link become smooth and transparent. Thanks to all the stations for the excellent on the air support. The objective is to develop more user friendly options for the RF users like Time, weather etc on the air with simple DTMF code access.

Jun 11, 2010

AN/PRC-148 - World's Most Powerful Handheld Radio

This Handheld military "Walkie Talkie" used by US/NATO forces can be truly called as the most powerful/rugged/highly used handheld Radio in the 21st century.

The AN/PRC-148 is today the most widely fielded handheld multiband, tactical software-defined radio, in use with the US Military and NATO forces around the world.

The AN/PRC-148 is a small and light full-featured Combat Net Radio (CNR) operating contiguously over the 30-512 MHz frequency range. The radio has imbedded US Type-1 COMSEC protection and is capable of both voice and data modes of operation. The AN/PRC-148 provides a hand held, highly flexible tactical radio useful over a very broad range of combat environments.

The AN/PRC-148 is the cornerstone of a complete system solution for the warfighter which includes a Vehicle Adapter with a unique, cable-free, rapid radio dismount capability; dual radio AN/VRC-111 Vehicle Adapter Amplifier; Base Station for fixed applications; Tactical Repeater for range extension; and compact, rugged Man Portable System for dismounted operations requiring higher power output.

Another fantastic feature of the AN/PRC-148 is its ability to communicate with aircraft. Foot Soldiers of the past using standard handheld or man-pack radios were restricted to ground tactical-radio modulation modes and frequency bands (30-88MHz FM) that were not compatible with the radios in all military aircraft.

There is even more good news for troops equipped with the AN/ PRC-148 from the ground-to-air perspective. The radio has built in the ability to generate emergency AM swept tone beacon signals on the standard VHF and UHF international rescue frequencies of 121.5 MHz (AM) and 149.975MHz (AM).
This capability means that AN/PRC-148 users can be heard by virtually every aircraft in the world and located with common aircraft radio direction finding equipment. This feature can literally be a lifesaver when in tactical situations requiring help from airborne search and rescue assets.
Overall a real boon for military foot soldiers and a wonderful handheld radio technology. This could very well be the most capable handheld radio in the world.

SCR-536 Walkie Talkie : World's First Modern Handheld Radio

The SCR-536 is often considered the first of modern hand held, self-contained, "handie talkie" two-way radios. It was developed in 1940 by a team led by Don Mitchell, chief engineer for Galvin Manufacturing (now Motorola) and was the first true hand-held unit to see widespread use. By July 1941, it was in mass production. In November 1942, the SCR-536 received coverage in the amateur radio magazine QST.

It appeared on the cover as well as in Signal Corps advertising, and was featured as part of an article on the Signal Corps. “Smallest field unit of the Signal Corps,” a photo caption read, “it is not much larger or heavier than a conventional handset.” It was carried among the first waves to hit Omaha Beach at Normandy in June, 1944. Every rifle company of the U.S. 29th Infantry division had six; one for each of three rifle platoons, two for the weapons platoon, and one for the company CO.

The Germans were deeply impressed by the SCR-536 and the SCR-300 after capturing several units in Sicily. By war’s end, 130,000 of the units had been manufactured by Motorola.

Today the SCR-536 is often restored and operated by vintage amateur radio enthusiasts and military radio collectors

Apr 30, 2010

1st May 2010 : Chennai VHF Repeater 145.775 Mhz(-600) VU2MRR celebrates 22nd Birthday

On this day 1st May 1989 Chennai's oldest and veteran HAM VHF repeater VU2MRR was given life . A team of 10 members formed The Madras radio repeater Club to buy and installed a VHF repeater in Chennai . Several Good hearted people/HAM radio enthusiasts donated generously for the fund.
With great difficulty the equipment was cleared from the customs and readied for installation . For its untiring service over the last two decades we salute VU2MRR for the contribution and it’s a tribute to all those great HAM’s/Radio lovers who brought this dream alive.

The Madras Repeater Club Team consisting some of the veteran HAM's to date

Chennai repeater Story in the words of VU2MRR – 145.775(-600Mhz)
I was installed on May 1st 1989 at Kesari Kutti ram Building in Royapetttah .The Inaguration was done by the then City police commissioner . My call sign/name given by HAM’s/WPC was VU2 MRR. My RF power capacity is 10 W . I am consisting of basically three parts , the Yaeus FTR2410A Repeater, Wacom WP-639 Band pass-Band reject filter and Diamond F-23 Antenna.
Royapettah building where I was first installed
From all parts of chennai I am accessible 24/7 for any type of HAM VHF traffic . After 14 months to increase my coverage area I was shifted to The Residency Tower Hotel at T Nagar . From that time till today I am working round the clock serving Chennai regions HAM community.

My new residence at Residency Towers hotel from where I have a better line of sight.

I had two major technical surgeries and few minor replacements in the past . My final amplifier was replaced twice. Stations from various parts South India including Tamil Nadu, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Bangalore, calcutta and Srilanka have accessed me and through me reached out to local hams in Chennai . To my knowledge I am the only VHF repeater in India serving for a long time with minor problems, offcourse lot of credit to those HAM’s go have birth to me and continue to take care of me.

That's me growing old but still going strong "VU2MRR"
On my 21st Birth day I thank all users and my well wishers for keeping me in good health. Even though I am healthy a few adjustments, small alignments , repairs are required in due course to ensure I can keep boosting the voice of all Chennai HAMS for decades to come.
To serve you better in a long way kindly trigger me more often with voice signal and look forward to listening to all.

Bye Bye
VU2MRR - 145.775 Mhz (-600)

Apr 18, 2010

Amateur Radio Service Rules in India Amended!!!!

Finally the Govt of India official gazette concerning amateur radio operators has been published by Wireless Planning and Co-ordination department . Amateur Radio in India is governed by Telegraphy Rules and WPC works under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Primarily WPC site tells that there have been two amendements to the rules after1978, one through Gazette Notifications GSR 385(E) on 9th July 2005 & otherthrough the recent GSR 280(E)dated 1st april 2010. The only link WPC has posted is of 2009 amendment and not the 2005 one. Not sure if anyone has got the link for 385(E)2005 amendment which was not published in the gazette for longtime , all our search yielded not results.

First Amendment: THE INDIAN WIRELESS TELEGRAPH (AMATEUR SERVICE) AmendmentRules, 2005 . Gazette Notification GSR 385(E), but no copy available.The key changes that have been made in this 2005 amendment are:

1. Category of license From earlier four categories, the new rules have mergedGrade I and Advanced as General, while Grade II and Restricted have been clubbedtogether as Restricted Grade.

2. Fees Structure Instead of 5 year renewal cycle, amateur radio operators cannow apply for 20 years or lifelong license. They would have to pay INR 1000 for20 years or INR 2000 for life long application.

Second Amendment: THE INDIAN WIRELESS TELEGRAPH (AMATEUR SERVICE) AmendmentRules, 2009 , GSR 280(E). The key changes that have been made in this 2009 amendment are:

1. In rule 8 , sub rule (1), which stated "The examinations for the grant of a licence shall be held at a place and on adate as may be notified by the Central Government from time to time"

amended to as below

"The examinations for the grant of a licence as per syllabus shall be held at aplace and on a date as may be notified by the Central Government from time totime".

2. Rule 13 which says "A holder of licence shall use, as appropriate to thelicence, such frequency bands, power and classes of emission as are set out inAnnexure V of these rules"

amended to as below

"A holder of licence shall use, as appropriate to the licence, such frequencybands, power and classes of emission as authorised by the central government"

Annexure V talks of all the different freq bands in VHF/UHF/HF allotted toAmateurs in India, question is if Annexure V is no more valid what's the newfrequency allocation and when that would be published in the gazette.

3. Annexure- I, II, V which are basically application forms has been ommitted,not word on which forms to be used moving forward.The 2005 amendment made some sense, not sure the objective behind cosmeticamendments in 2009, which seem to be only causing confusion.

Vipin , SWL

ChennaiHamsBlogspot Team

Apr 17, 2010

18th April 2010 - World Amateur Radio Day Highlights

Each year on 18 April, radio amateurs celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. On that day in 1925 the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) was founded. In 2010, the theme of the event is
"Amateur Radio: Combining communication experience with modern digital techniques."

Amateur radio has truly entered the 21st Century. In less than 100 years amateur radio communications has evolved from crude spark-gap technology to digital signal processing and software-defined radios. The amateur's HF choice between voice and CW has been expanded to a broad range of communication choices from television to spread spectrum. Amateur digital communications has evolved. At the end of World War II until the early 1980's, radioteletype, also known as RTTY, was the only HF digital mode available to amateurs. In the 1980's, AMTOR made its debut along with the increased popularity and availability of personal computers.

AMTOR was the first amateur digital communication mode to offer error-free text transmission. From the early 1980's, the rate of change increased dramatically. Packet Radio emerged and for a period of time was the most popular form of amateur digital communication. As microprocessor technology became more sophisticated, there was a rise in modes such as Clover, PACTOR, and G-TOR that were capable of error-free exchanges under marginal band conditions. In the late 1990's, there was an invention that harnessed personal computer technology to create PSK31.
In the VHF-UHF frequency ranges, Packet Radio had less activity at the close of the century than it did in the 1980's and 1990's.

However, Packet Radio was reborn as the popular Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) and traditional packet systems still exist to support public service activities with greatly enhanced functionality. Thanks to individual amateurs, hams now enjoy digital meteor scatter contacts and even moonbounce on VHF and UHF frequencies with modest stations. An ordinary computer sound device and software that can be downloaded free from the internet is all that is needed.

The Japan Amateur Radio League developed the D-STAR digital voice and data standard and there has been significant amateur growth as amateurs establish D-STAR repeater networks on the VHF, UHF and microwave bands. All of these development have inspired amateurs around the world to experiment in their own HF, VHF, UHF and microwave band digital communication.
Activities on the occasion of World Amateur Radio Day 2010 can be a great opportunity to spread the word about what the "hams" are doing in the 21st Century.

Mar 19, 2010

ASOL group Exam conducted at SRM University-Chennai on March 14th 2010

After a long gap of several years , due to efforts of few like minded HAMS an ASOL group exam sessions was organised in Chennai exclusively for students of SRM university interested in this hobby . On March 14th 2010 37 students from SRM university appeared for Grade II and restricted grade ASOL exam .
Thanks to the untiring and committed efforts of VU2CSM who ensured that the students were trained well in all aspects of HAM Radio for couple of months before they were fully ready for the exam . The university students had a valid reason for the urgency in taking up this ASOL exam as the university is launching a nano satellite for amateur operators in collaboration with ISRO.

SRM university is planning to launch a MICRO SATELLITE which is a multi disciplinary research initiative involving faculty and students of Mechanical, Aerospace, Electrical, Computer Science and Chemical engineering and th target is to launch the satellite named SRMSAT - around July 2010.
The 15 watt satellite will weigh between 10 and 15 kg and measure one meter cube.The project is estimated at Rs 2 crore and the construction of the satellite is being carried out within the university's premises. Shortly the university will also have a HAM Radio club station which will be operational . Thanks to Chennai WPC officials who conducted the exam at SRM premises and Vu2ABS Aravind as well as other HAMS for the logistics arrangements/support.
Probably this is the last batch of students/SWL's appearing for the ASOL exams in Chennai as per the old syllabus pattern. From April 2010 the ASOL WPC exam syllabus and the examination pattern is going to change to a new format which would mutiple answer choice questions . Let us all wait for the good news whether this makes the whole process simpler for budding HAMS in any way, although info is morse code would continue for timebeing .

Mar 6, 2010

HAM Radio Demo & Presentation at "Trek Polama" event

“Trek Polama” event conducted by Chennai Trekkers Club proved to be a wonderful success . VU2ABS who is also an active HAM presented a special session to a packed audience on HAM Radio & its use in Emergency communications . Union Minister of State Mr.Napolean , who is also an avid photographer graced the occasion and interacted with all and was quite interested in CTC activities including HAM Radio communications.
VU2ABS Arvind giving the presentation with a small live radio shack on display in background.

A "Garmin" GPS on display

The aim was to increase awareness of trekking in the local community, a healthier and more adventurous lifestyle, bring people closer to nature to build more environmental awareness and get more people infected by the CTC spirit.
Almost 1000+ CTC members and general public participated in the event which started at 2:00 pm with various sessions related to trekking, GPS & Navigation, mountaineering, wildlife, butterflies, snakes and offcourse HAM Radio & Emergency communication.

The presentation session by VU2ABS was quite interesting with both technically as well info of general nature on the benefits of HAM Radio to the trekking community . Presentation also included few video clips CTC members greatly appreciated the value of HAM Radio as most of the forest / hills and remote forest locations they trek do not have cell phone coverage and hence HAM Radio would be a great communication tool.
The mini shack with Wouxun handy
& Yaesu FT All Band base station + antennas

Many of them have expressed interest to take up the ASOC exams to become licensed HAMS and endeavour is to ensure that by year end atleast 100+ ctc members should be becoming licensed HAMS so that there are more people on the band in chennai to share of the passion of this unique hobby.

One of the presentation slides.

CTC Member , VU2ABS + Harmonic & VU3VWR with a HAM banner in the background

Today the most important step to be taken by HAM’s is to ensure that in the face of stiff competition from other modes of communication like Cellphones/e-mail etc as well as people having various options for a hobby, how do we attract more youngsters to become HAMS and continue this passion to years to come. CTC like platforms could be the ideal lauchpads to catapult HAM hobby to next level.

For full photo album pls click here.
Congrats to VU2ABS Aravind for his initiative in this direction and we hope more such public awareness events to attract younsters on the joy of HAM Radio are conducted in Chennai in the near future.

Feb 28, 2010

A Thrilling Adventure : 2010 MARS Chennai Foxhunt

The MARS (Madras Amateur Radio Society) Fox Hunt was conducted today 28.02.10/Sunday at Chennai. Many teams participated in the event which began in the morning at 8:00 am with the fox making an announcement for commencement and then fox started howling the tone in fox frequency 144.900 Mhz. The timeframe target for locating the fox was 8:00 am to 12:00 am and indicated distance was 60 Kms line of sight from city “0” stone.

The tools of the trade, straight out of a 007 BOND movie, beam antenna, compass , VHF Transceiver etc being kept ready at startpoint for taking initial direction bearning.

The fox tone was given for 60 sec on & 240 sec off and the power was reduced from 50/25 W in the beginning hours to 500 MW by the end of the hunt. Most of the teams started the fox hunt from City/outskirts and then signals indicated West/South West towards Tambaram/GST Road direction. But since signal tracking is a real skill and is influenced by so much extraneous environmental factors, the fox signal proved very elusive and erratic.

The veteran YAESU handy tuned to the fox frequency.

Team taking intermittent bearing on hilltop.

5 teams participated in this years MARS foxhunt as below.
Team 1 : VU2DH , SWL Vipin Shankar , SWL Satheesh & VU3UBR
Team 4 : VU2DRK , VU3MOA , VU3USI
Team 5 : VU3WIB , SWL

Checking signals in the middle of an overbridge.

But the fox signal proved very elusive with conflicting signal strengths as well as directions as time passed . After 12:00 pm /4 hours an announcement was made that since nobody could locate the fox, the hunt would be extended for another 30 minutes.
By this time most of the teams were within 5 Kms radius of the fox and were into drastic measures including walking on hot dry Palar river bed, climbing up a stone quarry hill , use bikes to check on smaller trails, rummaging through farm houses etc , but all this did not yield anything.
Finally close to 12: 30 PM the fox location was announced as “Pazhaya Seevaram Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy Temple” which was a hilltop temple shrine location on the banks of Palar River and on Chengalpattu-Kanchipuram road at an approx 60 kms to 75 Kms direct road drive distance from Chennai depending on the route you take . No team managed to catch the fox this time even after the time extension . The fox hole was at an approx line of sight distance of 56.6 Kms from Chennai “0” stone point (source - Wikimapia software).

The "Fox Den"/hilltop marked in square as seen in this sattelite aimage with adjacent shrub jungle/stairs/hills etc.

Participants had to climb up many steps leading to the "Fox Den" at the top of the hill .

The "Fox Hole"

The elusive fox was VU2GHX Madhavan . Within 5 to 10 min of the fox locaton announcement most teams reached the spot.
Anyways it was real fun as after all its for the love of HAM hobby that everybody set aside a whole good Sunday and made this trip . All teams had their own moments of fun , joy, tension, anger etc which all made the whole foxhunt a thrilling and challenging experience for one and all, especially for the first timers. Thanks to the MARS organising team for conducting this event again after a gap of couple of years. All HAMS hope the Chennai Foxhunt becomes an annual event moving forward.

A special mention of VU3WIB (Right) who's spirit & love for the hobby really needs to appreciated as he travelled the entire journey of 150+ Kms with rig/beam on a two wheeler with an SWL.

A good lunch session/getogether was arranged by MARS for all the participants near to the fox den which was appreciated and relished by all. The only regret was that all the day’s hard hunting by teams didn’t yield any prizes to take home, only good memories of this unique experience .

Anybody else having more photos/something to be added to the story board pls send across.
ChennaiHamsBlogspot Team