Welcome Ham Radio Fans

We sliding into 2018 with our faux-magazine, "Topics," a spin-off from group discussions generated daily on 40 meters. Before we start we want to give a special thanks to the Ham Radio Morning Crew Sponsors of Group 7155, who have been the sole inspiration for Topics. Had it not been for your radios, antennas, amplifiers, cables, tuners and shacks breaking down and burning up, this magazine wouldn't have the material it has today. And so, we bow to all the ones with nimble fingers and brilliant intuitions, those who seeked and searched to find ways to mend, tape, splice, repair, refinish, retune and recap. And then tell the tall tales. You are Gentlemen all.


Ken O'Neill & Dave "JS" Phillips

Welcome to 2018, Now Learn how to say, "Bigger Bombs" -- It was a strange year last year and this one is off to an even weirder start this year. In general I like "Eight" years. But I have to say, with the Solar Cycle and Stock Market, and other grow-light disturbances on bands that allow reasonable transmissions, it has already proven to be, yes, a very weird year indeed. No matter what camp you come from, it is nice to know that 7155 is a political-free zone at sun-up. We hope you join us soon!

Please keep your turn short and sweet, a one to two minute treat, because there are others waiting to say hello. And pause before you take your turn so that anyone trying to get into the group, can.



Table of Contents

March 2018 - Has Civility Died on 75?

January 2016 - All About Tuners and Bandscopes
February 2016 - The IF and The Scope
March 2016 - Let's Go On an RF Hunt!
2nd Quarter 2016 - Our Interplanetary Influences (open for write-ins)
Antenna Mythology - Reactance, Resistance, Coils & Trouble


If you like what you see and enjoy our Group, please Donate below.
It will give you a warm fuzzy feeling and help to offset the costs of our Website.



Sid, K7SID, reported seeing a fireball last night (June 1, 2016). This is a great site to find reports on sightings, check it out and enjoy!


Group 7155 Topics - 2nd Quarter 2016

Hanging Out with the Mr. Sun

I don't know about you but when I hear someone ask what ham radio all about, the typical beginning of the conversation is about licenses, all the toys, antennas and such. But seldom hear, about signals and how they get to where they are going with relation to the largest influence in our hobby, the Sun. Truth is, you can buy all the amplifiers and build the tallest antennas, but if the Sun has a bad day, watch out, it will make our gear sound like crystal radios.

Our Earth is wrapped in this wonderful invisible magnetic gel pack and when it is poked in the slightest it can set off all manner of minor radio propagation to very real life threatening disturbances. This amazing balance is so very critical with everything in place with such tight precision. And the artistry that is our universe, ah, there is the real wonder. From the tiny atom and it's design that matches precisely the same design as our solar system. There is something to think about! There are as many solar systems in the Universe as there are grains of sand on our plant.

I want to present more about this topic in the next couple of days, so I will leave you with this short list of perfect links to get started. When I come back I'll share more and we'll see where this takes us.

Sunspot Number Graph

Live Animated Ionosphere Maps

Realtime Observations of Radio Flux

Alerts and Predictions of Events

Radio Propagation

Understanding Solar Indexes

  Group 7155 - The Ham Radio Morning Crew
  "Topics" created by Ken O'Neill, W6BQZ - The Big Quiet Zebra - Carlsbad, California



Group 7155 Topics - March 2016


Books in a pileup

Bad Stuff Begone - RF is Near! Or is it?
Thanks to Group 7155 Sponsors!

Hear that fuzzy tone in your voice? Did you try to clear your throat and nothing happened? And, worse yet, your friends are telling you they hear it too, and it isn't something that you ate that can be cured by mouthwash. It's in your wires and it's not good. You shouldn't live with it one more minute, read on ham dogs (and trust me, you don't wanna become a "ham dog" like they show in the videos below), these precautions are for you!

Wanna Go On An RF HUNT?

RF Meter Trifeld

You should probably start with the article page, RF Exposure - Evaluating Your Station located on the Ham Radio School dot com site. You'll love how the site is laid out and well, old or young, new in the hobby or so long you think you know it all, this site is still for you.

They will take you through the Regulations, the Evaluations and what you need to do to bounce, tromp and be rid of that nasty invisible foe, RF. Because if you don't do something about it, you'll be Really Fried (get it?)

Okay, the gong, I know. But pay attention, this stuff is important.


The above meter is from Trifield and please click on the photo and you will find a complete description of how to use it and what measurements it can perform. At least one ham in our group uses that meter and has good luck with it. Below, you will see that there are two other units with different price points that you can also use. There are two other manufacturers that some claim are better, Narda and AR Modular (which may be a lot more expensive).


Dave Phillips (KB7JS) writes:

Good subject for conversation, too many people ignore the dangers. This article is focused on VHF transmissions at power levels greater than 50 Watts.   Few rigs actually provide that much power, and not too many hams actually do that, the exception usually those who chase SSB contacts during atmospheric ducting events, Moon Bounce, Sattelites, etc;  Most of us urban Ham’s can hit any number of repeaters with 5 watts,  and don’t run that much power.  Still, those who decide to run higher power put themselves at serious risk by ignoring the issue.  The typical HT user doesn’t realize how dangerous continued and long term exposure to VFH/UHF transmission is present due to the rubber duck antenna so close to their head.  Even at 1 to 5 watts, this can be very dangerous.

To broaden this discussion, I would like to mention that the rapid expansion in use of antenna tuners at the operating position, especially those built in to the transceiver,  also poses the possibility of serious risk for RF exposure for HF operators.  The tuners themselves radiate RF, and the typical use for the tuner is to balance the feed line to an antenna that is not resonant, specifically to make the transmitter happy with low SWR.  However, the SWR on the feed line to the antenna is still there, and when the tuner is in the shack, that reflected RF is always present.

Chris (W7AMD) writes:

Sometimes these things work out quite differently than you expected. The group that I recently retired from AR Modular RF builds RF tactical amplifiers as part of it's product line.  One of them is a 20W wearable PA for the 30-512MHz band.  We were asked to show that operators would be safe to use this amplifier system and compare it to the standard 5W portable unit.  I went through the FCC exercise using input from the services about modes of operation, and timing of transmissions etc., and surprise to everyone the system met the FCC guidelines. Tactical radios have been steadily moving up in frequency in recent years and now that they are using up to 2GHz or so there's considerable interest in "body absorption" levels.

AR makes a line of field strength measurement probes with traceable calibrations similar to NARDA products that cost a small fortune by ham standards. The EMC testing community spends a great deal of time and money to generate and then measure accurately E and M fields in their testing environments.

My input is to use the FCC guidelines.  Keep reasonable distances from high power systems, enjoy the hobby and don't worry too much!

Steve (K0UO) writes:

My group uses the Narda 3006 for most surveys, at HF below 300mhz the FCC requires you need to use both E and H field probes for testing, (you could buy 2 new  Icom 7851 rigs or one Narda 3006!).

I did a few FUN  videos which are on YouTube,  this one we cooks a Hot Dog,  don’t try this at home!!! I am using tested High Voltage gloves and a $10,000 Narda test meter:

RF Hot Dog

This one is showing how RF can light things up, around RF leaking cable which is used for in building radio coverage:

Most ham HF stations are very safe, as long and you can’t touch the antenna.


If you like what you see here guys, please help the Zebra out if you think you can:




I know there will be more, but for now while we take a short break, can I interest you in a really interesting Video regarding Induction and Electromagnetism?

Watch the entire Video (ie, dont turn it off if you think it is ending)

Left Hand Rule


RF Follow Up

Ok, back to RF chasing. We did have some follow ups, and those were directed toward the manufacturers of the measuring devices. One said that the Trifield was not the best and that Narda was far superior. And, since we are noting manufacturers, AR Modular was also mentioned in the article.

That is about all for our RF Section. Thanks for stopping by and giving us a read. If you like what you see, why not write in and let us know.

73 all ... Ken, W6BQZ




BQZebra was here!


TOPICS was started for you, Mom. I miss you and could only wish you had a license up there to transmit from time to time.

  Join 7155 Today - Click Here!
  Group 7155 - The Ham Radio Morning Crew
  "Topics" created by Ken O'Neill, W6BQZ - The Big Quiet Zebra - Carlsbad, California

Group 7155 Topics - January 2016


Books in a pileup

Outdoor Tuners: Quality, Longevity & Users
A Misbegotten Collaboration from BQZebra & Dave's Junk Shop, KB7JS


The latest hot topic this past two weeks has been outdoor tuners and how well they operate, or don't operate - even their fail rates. Have something to add? Tune up to 7.155 MHz and chime in.

The door is open. Learn more. Gil, N2GG has found one of the best arrangements for using wires. Pretty simple, you just have to know a few tricks. Stop by, ask him. It's all about pushing out the most power with optimum efficiency. And then you ask,"What about the power limitations these things have?" And, so, it begins . . . .


MFJ Tuners

SGC appears to be the big contender and sensible because they are reliable. Then there is LDG with a 600 watt outdoor tuner and good old MFJ with their Legal Limit tuner that seems to be a little prissy when setting up with a short stem of coax and a 4:1 balun. We have already had a fail within the first 3 months of ownership in the group. It's back at MFJ getting repair (or replacement).

And, of course, we're talking automatic which turns the conversation to manual tuners and it went on to why some hams love AM and boat anchors. See what you're missing?

Our own Dave Phillips, KB7JS writes, "Before the birth of SGC, SEA, Stevens Engineering Associates, manufactured a line of HF radio equipment specialized for maritime use.  The brand is still in business but now owned by another company.  They were one of the first to produce a remote automatic antenna tuner that could be used with any HF transceiver as it  did not require channel/frequency data or other control signals from the transceiver, instead it automatically determined the transmit frequency and tuned the antenna load to provide a good match.  The first really successful model was the SEA 1612B."

Here is how the story goes, according to Dave who says, "I found a strange SG-230, at a flee market five years ago, my first encounter with the beast.  I still have it.  It is unlike any SG-230 anybody else has seen, housed in a aluminum enclosure, not water tight.  Of course, being flee market fare, the thing did not work, so I set about trying to repair it, and first task was to get schematics.  I talked myself silly with the "geniuses” at SGC Tech Support, who continued to tell me that I must be mistaken, or I had acquired a Chinese Knock-off, because the tuner did not match any of their model numbers or schematics.

At some time, there was a loss of brotherly love amongst the SEA Associates, and an unknown number of them packed their bags and moved down the road a few miles to start their own company, named SGC.  They immediately began to produce their own HF auto-tuner to compete with SEA in the maritime market, but also had the audacity to market it to other HF users, HAM’s.  The retail price of their tuner was outrageous, in the high 3 digit range, but you know ham’s, they’ll buy anything when they read an Advertisement that says it can perform magic.  The rest is history, SGC sold a hell of a lot of their SG-230 tuners and it’s spin-offs."



Books in a pileup

The IF and the Band Scope
Courtesy from Dave's Junk Shop, KB7JS

The IF is simply the conversion frequency.  The input signal is mixed with another signal.  Mixing is simply a process where two different frequencies are passed through the same amplifier stage.  In most receivers, this actually happens two, three, even four time (double, triple, quad conversion). The output of each IF amplifier is a broadband signal that contains both input signals, as well as the sum and product of their frequencies.  It’s like making soup, mix two things together, and get four separate flavors.

After the amplifier, a filter selects the desired mix result, usually the product.  The idea is to obtain an output that always results in the same frequency to facilitate further filtering and processing of the input RF noise. 

This is where it gets a little confusing, but the reason for converting all frequencies into a single frequency is to simplify the remaining receiver circuits so they only have to be designed to interpret one frequency band out of the billions of possibilities. Keep in mind that the VFO on your radio only spans a certain segment of a band, typically 500 kHz,  so the output of the IF amp is usually passed through a 500 kHz filter, so that the output then contains all of the signals within +/- 250 kHz of the IF frequency. That is why your band scope driven from the IF signal can display all the signals within a certain range.  The HDSDR software needs to know what frequency band you are listening to, and then simply does the math to convert the display image of the IF frequency back to the actual signal frequency.  This is computer software massaging the data to make it human readable by interpreting the IF content.

Washing Machine WringerCONVERSION: There are a number of reasons for the different stages of conversion, but the driving force is selectivity and noise rejection.  Converting the original signal to a different frequency also allows it to be cleansed of unwanted noise and heterodyne byproducts, some of which occur within the mixing process itself.  This was much less of a problem in the vacuum tube days since the inherent high impedance of tubes (all that open space in a vacuum between elements) meant that there was very little noise generation.  That is why older tube radios used only single or double conversion designs.  Modern solid state radios with all their digital components self-generate an enormous amount of noise, so the receiver design has to separate all of that from the fundamental HF signal that you want to hear.  Most solid state receivers today will first convert the input signal to a much higher frequency out of the bandwidth of the ham bands, aka “Up Conversion”, typically somewhere in the area of 45-75 MHz.  Then, the signal is converted back down to a more reasonable value for filtering, typically 10 MHz, where it is mixed with the output of the VFO to provide selectivity of the desired center frequency.  Finally, the last stage of conversion will take the input down to a frequency that is easily converted to audio, and the most common frequency for this is 455 kHz.  

The FT-1200 and FT-1000 are classic examples of multi-conversion of an input signal.  The FT-1000 is a Quad conversion receiver, where the signal is converted to 73.62 MHz, 8.215 MHz, 455 KHz, and 100 KHz. The FT-1200 is a triple conversion design, with the first IF at 40.455 MHz. The 1st IF frequency is typically chosen to attack the self-generated noise problem.  In the case of the 1200, they were focused on using DSP to filter noise at a later stage, and selected the 40 MHz range specifically because it was out of the bandwidth of the DSP and would not interfere.



And now for something completely different . . .


Telegraph Key Picture

US Navy & Wireless Telegraph Keys

For a great read, this is perfect for a rainy afternoon! Just tap the Key above.


Topics Files: A New Life for Your FT-101 - Article on QST Hints & Kinks in 1969



Check this out:

Reference Guide

If you think this is cool (above), you have to see the rest of this PDF by Raytheon. Click Here!


Do You Need An Antenna Tuner? Well, do you? Click Here

Is this the Better SDR?



Thank You Note Thank You Note from W6BQZ to Group 7155

Hey Guys,

I cannot believe how the site is coming together even more thanks to the kind and thoughtful contributions of several of the Group members. Thanks guys. Thanks for being there, thanks for your help, your contributions above and beyond, and just look at what it has already done for the site. I believe that in the days ahead we will see even more. is definitely here to stay. Let's keep rockin'. You guys are the greatest.

By now you probably have noticed the TOPICS section on the page. Kind of big, isn't it? Well, the plan is to have it's own page you can click to, and to have it grow. So if you have a Topic that you are interested in and find a resource that stands out in a crowd, let me know and I will include it with a reference back to you if you like.


Ken, W6BQZ - The Big Quiet Zebra - Your Web Guy

Join Us Today - Click Here!

Group 7155 - The Ham Radio Morning Crew




Continued from

Has Civility Died on 75?
by Dave, KB7JS

The vile behavior of so many operators on 75 Meters these days is disgusting, but not necessarily a new phenomenon, just a nasty evolution of bad manners by what I have to classify as low-life's with a radio.

As I remember, in the 60's and early 70's,almost everyone on the bands, with very few exceptions, operated with excellent manners and practiced deliberate courtesy.  All of the many people I had contacts with were class act people, the long Rag Chew was the typical contact, and not once over a continuous operating stretch of  many years did I encounter bad manners, harassment, jamming, or other obnoxious behavior.  Amateur Radio was a gentlemen's sport and hobby then, where civility, courteous behavior, and a universal willingness to be helpful were the common traits shared by all. 

In the 1960's, I had the opportunity to occasionally operate at the MARS station at Da Nang AB, South Vietnam.  We tried to operate round the clock to provide phone patch and message passing communications by military personnel with their families and loved ones back home.  Although we had excellent equipment, we were often challenged by band conditions, but we would always be accommodated by countless state-side Hams who would stay up to all hours simply to facilitate our communications.  That kind of comradery and selfless service has become a rarity.  Today, many operators will openly object to lengthy phone-patch operations as it conflicts with their search for contacts to verify WAS, WAC, WAZ, or whatever awards they might pursue.  Others will openly interfere with arrogant disdain for a frequency in use.

In the 70's, the only annoying interference on the bands was the rapid increase in the use of Antenna Tuners by Op's who had that discovered a tuner was absolutely essential to keep from frying their trusty new transistor based radio due to a less than optimum crappy antenna system.  Heterodynes were rampant as people keyed up to twirl the dials of their tuner to peak their output.   In 1979, a co-worker and friend of mine, Amos, KA7ACK, and I started a Sunday afternoon Net on 21.350.  We called it "The Great American Load Em Up and Tune Em Up Net for Antenna Tuner Users".   Over the summer months of that year, we became a regular net with 10-20 patrons checking in each weekend.  We would throw the Net Control handle around randomly, and periodically announce the Net, state our agenda as "We provide a place where you can safely load up and tune up without raising anyone's ire, because we simply do not care, so Tuner Uppers, check in now".  


In practice, we would invite our fellow Antenna Tuner owners to tune up on top of us while we chatted, thereby avoiding inconveniencing or annoying anyone actually trying to have an intelligent conversation.  This was intended to improve their efficiency while they attempted to tune up on what they thought, or simply failed to listen for, was a clear frequency.  Often this failure to recognize our presence was because they couldn't hear anyone because of that crappy antenna system that required the Antenna Tuner in the first place.   Never offended, we would even provide signal reports for the tuner-upper's efforts, often telling them when they had reached optimum annoyance level, or to stop before the fire starts, or sometimes tell them they would have to get a bigger radio before they were going to successfully annoy anyone.  We often had dozens of folks check-in to our net simply to join the fun and laugh along with us, and we actually got dozens of tuner-uppers who thanked us for the service

Since all who joined the net enjoyed the experience, we began to operate on a regular schedule.  As a result, we started getting people that checked-in just because we sounded like a Net.  That led to changing the name to "The Great American Load Em Up and Tune Em Up Net for Antenna Tuner Users AND Net Checker-Inners".      Although we often had folks check in that were confused with what we were talking about, everyone laughed and had a good time.   Not once over a period of several months did we have anyone say they were offended.  Try this today and you will generate an immediate pileup full of vile commentary.


I also remember the dark days of the 70's when there was much angst between licensed Amateur Radio operators, and their nearby neighbors who operated, with or without license, on 11 Meters. Much of this rancor was reflective of the lack of conformity and decency present on that band, which became heavily populated with obnoxious behavior,  illegal use of non-type certified equipment, and a general disdain for rules and regulations, let alone common decency.  This feud reached epic proportions in the 70's when CB operators began using modified Amateur equipment, amplifiers, Yagi antennas, boob box audio amplifiers, exchanged QSL cards, and essentially conducted a general practice of thumbing their noses at their nearby Ham band operators.


Today,  I'm afraid that the derogatory patronage given to "CB'ers" back then, while offensive to some, is still an accurate invective as a description of a large number of current band abusers.  These people abuse their licensed privileges with arrogant disdain, practice offensive and selfish behavior while operating, synonymous with the bullies of the kindergarten playground.  I am also convinced that the steady and rapid decline in the quality of education in America has contributed to a class of anarchists who have no respect for anything but their over inflated egotistical view of their own persona. 

Similar to the current on-going assault on "Free Speech", civil behavior has begun to wane on the Ham bands.  Nothing ticks me off more than the people who arrogantly refuse to treat fellow HAM's with respect.  Most irksome of this bunch are the ones who regularly disdain fellow op's if they don't operate a full legal ( or more ) power amp, even when operating NVIS in when band conditions are actually quite good.  True, they achieve consistent 20 Over signal reports, while at the same time broadcasting a signal that can will interfere with local communications by other operators thousands of miles away. Power contesters can also often be an irksome bunch.  They pile on with their Amp's and giga-dollar antenna array's to bump and shove their way into a 59 signal report from guys next door, all the while cramming the band with cacophony that completely overwhelms operators on the other side of the planet who are only trying to have a decent rag chew and have no interest in their contest.  I cannot understand their lack of consideration to other Ham radio enthusiasts around the world as they totally ignore the "sufficient power" tenant that most of us have politely lived by for years.  For points?  Give me a break.

Today's HAM bands are not the sandbox I grew up playing in.  Today, it's all about bragging points quickly acquired, not comraderies.  The mess on 75 Meters is not new.  I remember the days when shiny new Collins owners would snub everyone else attempting to check-in to their "exclusive" 75M nets.  IMO, those same obnoxious guys are typical of far too many of those who arrogantly cruise by at 90 MPH in their electric Tesla's.   Alas, those in-the-moment cruiser should pay attention,   Elon Musk recently stated admitted that he does not plan a long venture in automobile manufacturing, recognizing that electric cars are simply not cost effective.  Wait a few years until those same Tesla owners discover that replacing their failing Tesla's Lithium Batteries will cost more than the original price of the car. 

These days, I tire of suffering the idiocy of the operating conditions on the bands and seldom key up a microphone.  To me, electrons and the elusive magic smoke that hides them within our electronic toys are far more entertaining and provide more rewarding experiences.  I really enjoy breathing life back into a dead radio or anything else that thrives on electrons.  Trouble is, fewer and fewer of our fellow HAM's have any knowledge or even interest in what and how we do what we do. A good number of them would never think of repairing a radio when they can use its failure, no matter how trivial the problem,  as an excuse to go buy a new one, and most of them are the same way with all their shiny possessions, cars, RV's, entertainment toys, guns, even women.  


As much as I enjoy the ability to find scores of vintage spare parts on Ebay, it abhors me to find so many people who gobble up decent radios that no longer sparkle or work well solely to rip them in to pieces and part them out for profit.  All of those radios could have been restored and returned to fully operational condition.  Trouble is, nobody appreciates them.   How can they be worth anything if they don't have DSP, Roofing Filters, SDR features?  Hell, the TS-930 receiver still out performs them all, and without Roofing Filters.  I recently worked on a TS-940 that had an incredibly complicated Mod in it to add switchable INRAD filters in both 1st and 2nd IF stages.  When I took the covers off, one of the filters fell out, dangling on its wires.  It had been stuck to the back of the front panel circuit board with foam tape that had dried out.  

Unfortunately, like minded hands-on technicians who enjoy dancing with electrons and the thrill of chasing the elusive magic smoke are becoming a rarity, and I find myself somewhat uniquely isolated at my bench.  Some folks think that what I do in the shop is magic, and truth be told, it is, at least to me.  But there is a good portion of luck involved too, and how long can that last?   Maybe I've had my run.  After all, how long can my magic touch and luck hold before somebody's spiffy gold-plated radio with 38 knobs uses up all my best tricks and eats my lunch?   That would truly be embarrassing.  I'd be mortified, just another dude who didn't really know what the heck he was doing.  That kind of Faux Pas just wont do, scares away all the customers.  Then I'll just be another guy with a microphone looking for company on 40 meters. 


Maybe it's time to retire, again.  I am finding that there are too many broken radios, and too little time to fix them all.  I've been so busy I haven't had a decent Margarita in at least a week.  I am seriously thinking of giving up the repair business and going back to one of my other favorite hobbies, radio control aircraft, gardening, fly fishing, Skiing, reading, woodworking, maybe even take the wife out dancing, all of which may provide a happy respite.  But,  Heaven forbid, I have spent my last days on the Golf course.  I will never again play Golf, where all the cronies on the fairway (my long –time duffer brothers included, A Buck a Stroke.  Really?) can be more frustrating than abusive HAM's and annoying Tesla drivers. The last time I played the links, they wanted me to bring my own beer.  What kind of comradery is that?  That kind of rudeness reminds me of the characters on 75 meters.


Narrative by Dave, KB7JS - If you would like to discuss any or all of the above please join in on Group 7155 on 40 meters at 7.155 MHz in the morning around 7am Pacific Time or 1400 UTC seven days a week. It is possible that the FCC needs to revisit our licensing levels and bring code back into play, if even just 5 WPM. Something to separate us from CB. At the very least it is time to start a conversation.

  Group 7155 - The Ham Radio Morning Crew on 7.155 MHz in the Morning 1400 UTC



I often wonder as I stare into the nighttime sky, when I am all

alone and there is near-silence from the days loud noise and

pushy people at Costco and Walmart. And I wonder how much

worse can it get? When will it end? I run you over with a shopping

cart and the guy on the freeway sticks a gun in your face for the

way you drive. Our leaders with their bomb threats, while we wait

in wonder. How far can it go?



We won't admit it if they ask us . . .




tiger jumping DREAM BIGGER


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