Welcome to the April 2013 Edition of the HamSphere Newsletter! Happy Easter to all of you.
We usually focus on the latest features and software developments to keep you updated on the latest additions, but in this edition we will focus on the use of HamSphere and what makes the Amateur Radio hobby so special.
The Art of Conversation
One of the fundamental principles of Amateur Radio is the art of conversation. Ham Radio is made for talking and we must remember that at all times. We should respect both short and long QSOs, rag-chewers and DXers. Some operator came to me the other day and said "The DX Top-1000 is killing HamSphere because operators on HamSphere just lurk in the background and only talk to countries they have not worked". Well, this is true in some respect but it does not kill HamSphere let alone Ham Radio. The same scenario is taking place on real shortwave bands as well and that is the way Ham Radio works. Some operators are into rag chewing and others are in to DXing. We get all kinds of communications on HamSphere.
But I'd like to comment on a few things. When an operator calls CQ whether it is a DX station or a local, old-timer or newbie it is customary to respond to their CQ call. Ham Radio is about talking and the Art of Conversation and imagine the happiness of a newbie when it gets a reply to its first CQ call. Let us all try to answer CQ more responsibly.
Secondly, considering that many of the HamSphere users have English as a second language, the Amateur Radio communication has a standardized QSO pattern that we learn from listening to the bands. A basic QSO contains the exchange of call signs, S-reports, names and often WX (weather). Even this simplistic way of communication should not be frowned upon, as it actually may be a starting point for many operators not so familiar with the English language.
For six years HamSphere has promoted the wonderful Ham Radio hobby to thousands of radio enthusiasts. Many of those are now licensed thanks to HamSphere. According to the update log, we have upgraded over 1000 HS call signs to licensed Amateur Radio call sign. Of course some of those were already licensed using an HS call sign, but a major part actually got their own ticket. Well done all of you!
If you consider becoming licensed you should contact you local Ham Radio club in your town/area.
Amateur Radio clubs usually help out with Ham Radio license training and often have courses every spring and autumn.
Once you get licensed for shortwave communication, you can use your skills that you have picked up on HamSphere and start operating from say the club station etc before you start investing in expensive hardware.
Fox Hunting on HamSphere
The Amateur Radio term "Fox Hunting" refers to another kind of Radio Direction Finding (RDF) contest, done completely on foot in large woods and parks. It's a map-and-compass sport similar to orienteering, with about a half-dozen "fox" transmitters to find in a period of two hours or so. Someday this sport, which is also called foxtailing, foxteering and radio-orienteering, may become an Olympic event. Meanwhile, it's a fun-filled activity for your Hamfests and Scout Jamborees.
On HamSphere we can't do direction finding, but we can hide transmitters.
We have hidden 5 Ham Radio fox transmitters on all bands of HamSphere except BC.
Foxes are ID’d: MOE, MOI, MOS, MOH and MO5. They all transmit with slow Morse code with 100 milliwatts so they can be difficult to spot if propagation is low. This particular hunt will be carried out until Sunday 7th of April 2013 23.59 UTC and the objective is to log as many foxes as possible.
The fox hunting is not about Morse Code. You can just count the dots in the last character of the ID. To ID the Foxes, for example MOE will transmit Dah, Dah followed by Dah, Dah, Dah followed by Dit.
Please log UTC, QRG and Fox-ID in your logbooks. The Fox transmitters are moving around and use different frequencies and bands. There is a 1.5 sec carrier wave before ID to make it easier to spot them.
10 Winners will be rewarded free subscription extensions.
You can listen to a fox demo transmitter on 6210 kHz, Stockholm server #6. It transmits with 0.1 Watts every 15 seconds.
The Hunt is on !!!
HamSphere Band Plan
The HamSphere band plan is an important part of the system and it is based on the real Amateur Radio shortwave bands. The HamSphere Ham bands are as follows; 6m, 10m,15m,17m, 20m, 30m, 40m, 80m and 160m.
How to use the bands:
Use Voice on 6m, 10m, 15m, 17m, 20, 40m, 80m and 160m Use CW on 30m, 80m and 160m (Keep CW within the first 30 kHz) Use Digital modes on 30m (No Voice allowed)
In addition HamSphere has a 48m Broadcast band and an 11m band also known as an extended CB (Citizens Band).
The 11m band emulates a real 27 MHz band centered around 27.555 kHz which also is the calling frequency.
Call CQ on 27.555 and suggest a QSY frequency. Quickly jump to the QSY frequency, make sure it is clear and announce your presence there. Continue your QSO on the chosen frequency. Please do not QSO on the calling frequency 27.555.
The 48m band mimics the upper part of the 49m Shortwave Broadcasting band, which is also known as the "pirate" portion of the shortwave spectrum. (6200-6299 kHz) . Here you can broadcast your own music for instance.
Please be advised that operation from 90 kHz offset and up (such as 50.190) might produce distorted audio. Due to the Sphere sampling frequency of 192 kHz the following frequency offsets should be avoided:
90-96 kHz (Will result in some audio sampling artifacts)
96 kHz (Dead lock = Sample rate / 2, will not produce any audio)
96-100 kHz (Out of band operation, audio will be distorted by bit quantization noise)
0-1 kHz (Near Local Oscillator Deadlock. Out of band operation, audio will be distorted by bit quantization noise)
Tuning HamSphere outside the specs is not prohibited, but please observe the audio limitations.
Meet the Admins
HamSphere has about 40 Administrators around the world who constantly monitor the system to assist users and maintain order.
We are here proud to present two of these Admins:
Mike G0AMO - from Andover in southern UK. As an HF operator he has always had a particular interest in the Datamodes and SSTV. Mike is an IT Teacher by profession so always enjoys the interfacing of radio and computers. Most of his time on Hamsphere is spent monitoring and operating on the 30m band. He can be found on RTTY, PSK31, MT63 1K and CW and also enjoys operating SSTV. He runs the Datamodes Facebook group that currently has 62 members - this allows members to share ideas, hints and tips to ensure good operations on these modes.
To support Hamsphere Mike also scans the bands most evenings listening behind the scenes just in case anyone needs support and of course will intervene if there are any operators who are misusing the system and annoying others. Hamsphere is such a good simulation of HF radio he says - "I spend very little time these days transmitting RF but have found plenty of contacts and friends all over the world through this system".
Mike KD8JUF from Cleveland, Ohio, USA is a General Class HAM radio operator also holds a ARRL Field Organization appointment as a District Emergency Coordinator for their Amateur Radio Emergency Service where he oversees the operation of 5 counties and 237 volunteers. He also serves as a volunteer examiner coordinator for the ARRL and Wi5Y and has been involved in ham radio for over 10 years.
Mike tells us that he learned about HamSphere two years ago when doing research on VoIP and he continues "After using it for only a few days I became a subscriber and then an Admin a year later. My favorite activity on HamSphere is helping novice users learn to use the program. I also enjoy contesting and working on my WAS certificates. This program is the next best thing to being on HF and during my many club talks during the year, I use HamSphere to teach others about HF operations. Hope to see you all further down the log book in the future….73 from Ohio!"
HamSphere next generation
HamSphere 4.0 news. As previously announced HamSphere is working on its next generation of transceiver.
Preparations for this platform are in progress. We are currently working on a third part API which will enable external developers to make plugin modules for both audio and visual applications. The HamSphere 4.0 is scheduled for release in Q1 2014. HamSphere 3.0 has already a "replace skin" implementation and there are actually other skins developed, but we have decided to drop all further developments of 3.0 to benefit the new platform. An API RFC (Request For Comment) will be released to the public in Q3/Q4 this year. The API is 100% Java based and external developers will have to go through a certification process by us.
The use of #HamSphere on twitter
We have updated the HamSphere main page with a live Twitter feed. Whenever you tag your Tweets with #hamsphere they will instantly show up on the HamSphere main page. This is a great way of getting information out quickly and advertises some event or Ham related stuff on HamSphere.
The HamSphere International DX Contest was held Saturday to Sunday 2013-02-23 00:00 to 2013-02-24 23:59.
A total of 10300 QSOs were filed from 475 contestants. We congratulate YT2KID, Dragi from Serbia who won this contest. Well done indeed!
Our users share a lot of stuff on our FaceBook group. QSL Cards, Awards, technical features and other Ham Radio related material. Facebook is a good place to share information and the group has some 1300 users. Operators are proud to share their achievements with others and what better way than using Facebook. So join our Facebook group today.
Help make Hamsphere sound good! When you log on....
go to 160 meters and dial in 01.823.45 and do a 10 sec audio test.
Adjust your audio so you will sound great to the other users....help make Hamsphere sound great!
Do you have a question or need help with Hamsphere? ...Remember to use the Support page!
It is great to see such DX spirit on HamSphere. The top-10 are as follows:
1. VE3JAR Vic, CANADA with 180 verified countries
2. 16HS222 Luc, BELGIUM with 148 verified countries
3. 2HS3433 Paul, UNITED STATES with 145 verified countries
4. 56HS244 Antero, FINLAND with 142 verified countries
5. 68HS3965 Kenny, NORTHERN IRELAND with 141 verified countries
6. 93HS101 Joseph, MALTA with 141 verified countries
7. 50HS1308 Michael, RUSSIAN FEDERATION with 141 verified countries
8. PU1PML Edson, BRAZIL with 139 verified countries
9. YV4EOH Gerardo, VENEZUELA with 139 verified countries
10. S51LD Dusan, SLOVENIA with 138 verified countries
Hunting DX is difficult. You must have a little luck and be at the right place at the right time. If you put some effort in you will see a significant climb to the DXHC Top-1000 list. Good luck and Good DXing!
DX Countries on HamSphere
Wow, what a month. So many new exciting DX countries are showing up. This really shows that the Internet infrastructure is improving around the world. Here is a list of countries that have connected and been QRV on HamSphere since the last Newsletter.
LED Callsigns - Special HamSphere Station Offer - 10% Discount!
HamSphere, in association with Ham Radio Signs, are pleased to be able to offer a 10% discount on their wonderful LED illuminated call signs. These signs are laser engraved and made to order. They are set in a black acrylic base, which comes with a 60cm power lead for 12v - 13.8v DC.
We have negotiated this offer as a result of the positive feedback and 'likes' on our HamSphere Facebook page.
"Wow, I really like this. Did you make it? If not, where can we order these from?" - Robert Long.
"Beautiful and original" Roman Malsev.
Well Robert, now you have your answer and a big 10% discount too!
No Radio shack is complete without one and they are very bright even in daylight.
For our Trial users we have included a special Trial extension in this newsletter. So start your HamSphere software now and get in contact with your old friends. You can download the latest software from http://www.hamsphere.com/download