MAY 2012
VOLUME 12, No. 5
Mercury Amateur Radio Association - MARA - North America - North East
May 13th is Mother’s Day in the
U.S.A. and Canada. Don’t forget
At least send her a card for
having to put up with you
for all those years!
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Grandma Mara’s
round this time every spring, a young (and old)
ham’s fancy turns to thoughts of... Field Day!
This year is no different. Wendy had been talking
to Walter and I about doing a joint F.D. operation. As well,
her brother, father, and even her mother had expressed a
desire to participate in some way. So it was, that we held a
“family council” one evening in late April to discuss what
everyone wanted to do.
Both Walter and I have had
experience with the high pres- “In short and
sure type of operation, where
typical fashion,
the idea of fun was thrown
it was decided
out the window, and the sole
that the menfolk
reason was to win, win, win!
Neither of us was interested in would see to
doing that anymore; also feelthe antenna
ing that it was not in keeping
and equipment
with having Wendy and her
family participate.
setup while
It was decided that we would the meals
run two stations; one on CW
preparation fell
and the other on SSB. One of
to the women.”
the three of us would always
be present when any of the
others were operating voice.
If they got tired of that mode then we would switch them
over to one of the digital keyboard types.
In short and typical fashion, it was decided that the menfolk would see to the antenna and equipment setup while
the meals preparation fell to the women. Wendy grumbled,
“where was women’s lib when you needed
it” so we laughingly shifted her to the male team
and the equipment. Her
mother and I said we
would provide the necessary grub, and split the
cost in proportion.
The next thing was to
figure out where to go.
That one was simple, as
we were all in favor of the
same state park where
Wendy and I went last year. She said she would call our
ranger friend and arrange for the same site as before, and
also the one next to it.
Since Walter had all of his emergency antennas ready
to erect at a moments notice anyway, that part was a nobrainer; as was using his RV
“Since Walter had
as a base. Wendy’s dad said
he would bring their camper all of his emerand borrow the ward’s scout
gency antennas
cook tent. Being in the bishready to erect at
opric, the latter would pose
no problem, as the scouts
a moments noweren’t using it for that
tice anyway, that
weekend, anyway.
part was a noThe meeting ended, with
an agreement to get together brainer...”
in a week, to report on site
procurement and finalize any remaining details, and of
course, with a plate or two of my chocolate layer cake for
Repairs are taking much
longer than planned. Therefore,
starting next month, this
column will take some time off!
If anyone would like to take a
shot at writing a column of any
kind, resumes are being solicited by the NEWSLETTER
gnomes for the position.
We will even consider changing
the column name to something
ANØNMS says it’s OK!
MAY 2012 - PAGE 2
by JEFF - AI7D
recently retired from Acopian Technical Company
ny one who has been living on the planet in the
last 20 years or so, should know about “external”
power supplies. I bought a Hewlett Packard
HP-55 calculator in 1974; it is recharged by an external
power supply, with 2 prongs on the case, which plugged
directly into the wall outlet. The power supply/charger
still works, but the battery pack does not accept a charge. I
can probably take it apart and fix it with new AA cells, but
have not done so.
( That was 38 years ago!) I still have that calculator. Anybody collect old calculators?
That was my first significant wall wart power supply
that I can remember. There may
have been others, but that was one “I still have
that I kept.
that [HP-55]
I am writing this article with my
week old HP laptop. It has a “lump calculator.
on a cord” power supply. The three Anyone
conductor cord is removable, and
collect old
the output is 18.5V DC at 3.5A, 65
W. Per the very fine print on the
label, the input is rated for 100 to
240 VAC, ~1.7A, 50-60 Hz.
Now, being a power supply engineer, (ok, RETIRED
power supply engineer), I will pull out the calculator, (a
newer one) and run some numbers.
Let’s see - the output is 18.5V X 3.5A = 64.75 W,
which rounds up to 65 W. If I take the 100 VAC X 1.7 A
= 170 VA. Note I said VA (Volt Amperes) not W (Watts).
If I take the high end of the range, it would be 240 X 1.7
= 408 VA! What is going on here, the output is a measly
65 W. The lump on a cord power supply is very small, 4
3/16 X 1 ¾ X 1 1/8 inches. If all that power was wasted
in efficiency, then the power supply would catch fire,
So there are some things we should mention. First of
all, the DC rating of the power supply is 18.5 V and 3.5
A. It barely gets warm when the battery is charged and I
am running the computer. Why? Normally, the delivered
output current is much less than the 3.5 amps, perhaps
well under an amp. I just plugged in the power supply to
charge the battery, and my Kill A Watt meter shows 58W
and 114 VA. 0.90 A. Also
0.51 PF (Power Factor), all
this at 124.1 VAC.
Now, the very fine print
label has all kinds of information on it, as required by
a number of agencies, and
here is my take on what
this means. The rating of
100 - 240 VAC 50-60 Hz
really is telling you that this
unit will work on 100VAC
(Japan), 120 VAC (North
America), 208 VAC and 240
VAC, likely a bit below 50
Hz and more than 60 Hz. It will also likely work just fine
at 90 VAC and 265 VAC also, but the regulatory label will
not mention that.
I just felt the power supply, it is slightly warm. The
input watts is down to 35 now, and the notebook battery is
at 93% capacity. I am not stressing the computer much by
writing this article, (although the fan is running slowly, )
so the draw other than the battery charging is likely not all
that much.
The wall wart and lump on a cord power supplies of
today are likely all switching units.
The HP-55 calculator power supply has a switch, 86 to
127 VAC and 172 to 254 V, 48 to 56 Hertz (not Hz) and 5
Watts. Then it says rated 0.8 W max. I am not sure what
to make of that, but it is well over 30 years old, and the
regulations were less stringent then.
Some of the wall wart units are actually AC output, and
the DC part is inside the equipment itself.
When you see the wide voltage input range rating (100
– 240 VAC) on a power supply, wall wart or lump in a
cord, or other type, you can bet that it is a switcher, not
a linear unit. This is because switchers lend themselves
to the wide input range easily, and linear regulated units
do not. Also, the switchers
are much higher efficiency, “Some of the
smaller in size, and run
wall wart units
much cooler too.
are actually AC
Now the tip off on the
output, and the
power factor is that the
input VA is relatively
DC part is inside
high vs. the input watts.
the equipment
International regulations
require power factor
correction for power
supplies over a certain power level (I think it is 75 watts)
but the laptop power supply is less than that, and does not
need PFC. As a result, the input current can be relatively
high and the actual power input lower.
MAY 2012 - PAGE 3
My battery is now charged as I type this, the input
power to the power supply is 12 watts, 27 VA, and the
Power Factor is 44%. (12 W/27 VA=0.444 PF.) I talked
about power factor in a previous article, but I will say
that the power companies would prefer that we have
close to a 100% power factor, because it greatly reduces
the requirements to deliver current to its customers.
Further, our kilowatt hour meters do not charge for current
consumption, just watts, so the power companies do not
get paid for our excess, poor AC current consumption due
to low PF. Industrial customers are frequently charged for
low power factor, residential customers are not.
Now, if your house or ham shack has a large collection
of wall wart or lump in
a cord power supplies,
“Many of the
you can consider
power supplies
consolidating them if the
voltage is the same, and
above 75 watts,
the lack of dielectric or
for sale in the U.S.,
galvanic isolation is not
do not have power
a problem. This means
factor correction,
that a common ground
with different equipment
as the laws and
will not be an issue. Also,
regulators do not
there could be interaction
between different types of require it at this
equipment which might
cause problems.
Many of the power supplies above 75 watts, for sale in
the U.S., do not have power factor correction, as the laws
and regulators do not require it at this point. Linear power
supplies almost never have PFC, and switchers may or
may not have such capability.
Of interest to some may be that compact fluorescent
bulbs generally do not have PFC, but I have some LED
bulbs which do. Certainly, the price of the LED units is
so very much higher, and allows the luxury of the extra
To finish up, “wall wart” and “lump in the cord” power
supplies seem to be here to stay. They allow for more
compact equipment, and for rechargeable units, allow
the power supply to be relatively portable, along with the
In 1962 (gulp, that was a half century!), I had a ham
shack and certainly had no such power supplies. But I got
rid of the typewriter a long time ago, and so I will enjoy
the high tech equipment along with the required power
Years ago, before the advent of wall-wart type supplies, it
would be common to have 115VAC brought into the rear
panel of amateur and consumer electrical and electronic
equipment. This meant that these items had to be certified or type accepted by UL in the US, ULC in Canada,
and its equivalent in other countries, for safety and shock
hazard. Once wall-warts (or external supplies) came into
use, and the input voltage to the equipment became low
voltage AC or DC, then only the “power supply” had to
be certified. Something that was a lot less expensive than
the previous process! And once a supply was tested and
approved, it could be used on multiple pieces of equipment, again reducing the per unit cost. More profit to the
manufacturer and less cost to the consumer.
June 2
est on ield Day is
ir ope e largrating
in Am
to the ens of tho adio. It
ves e
exper g both new h year,
opera nced amat nd
tors t
eur ra
end o gether for
f fun!
Any questions or suggestions would be welcome.
Jeff AI7D/3 - trying to sell his house and
move to 7-land - can be reached at
MAY 2012 - PAGE 4
ur stake has been in the process of installing high
speed internet in all of our meeting houses. As
the stake tech geek, it has fallen to me to handle
the job. Just when I thought the task was nearly finished,
the stake was amalgamated with a portion of the nearby
district, gaining several more branches.
The physical installation has been challenging enough,
trying to get the modems in existing installations moved
to the security of a clerk’s or the branch president’s/bishop’s office. Some of these buildings were built in phases
with little or no thought given to anything other than
the air handling system ductwork. Certainly, not much
thought of future anything seems not have received much
consideration. Regardless, in most cases, the guy from Facilities Management and I managed to get Ethernet cable
from the clerk’s office to the chapel or the hallway ends
or outside the Relief Society room. The security is necessary to keep someone from plugging into the rear of the
modem, bypassing the firewall feature of the router.
In theory, the configuration of the CISCO 881W wireless router is simple. Connect it to the modem. Connect
the laptop to one of the ports on the rear panel and power
it up. Power up the CISCO. A welcome screen should
appear on the laptop. Sign on with your LDS account
information. Fill in a few bits of information, choose the
building from a list that comes up, or enter a building
number. The rest should
happen automatically, and in “In theory, the
a few minutes a congratulaconfiguration of
tions screen should appear
the CISCO 881W
telling you that you have
successfully configured your wireless routers
router. That’s the theory! In
is simple.”
some cases (less than half
of my thirteen installs) this
actually worked. Most didn’t and involved multiple calls
to support. They would have to delete files on the server.
I would have to do a full hardware reset on my end and
start the configuration over again. This certainly isn’t your
home router that you pick up at Staples!
I must say that the tech support people were good! If the
support person didn’t know, they were willing to bump
the call up the ladder. I suspect it was a learning curve for
them and I know for certain that it was for me!
When it worked, most installs would have the router
configured “successfully” in less than ten minutes from
power up to being able to connect to the Internet through a
rear port. The wireless function might take another ten to
twenty minutes. The ones that didn’t configure “normally”
took several hours. One, I had to leave and come back the
next day. It did its thing sometime in the night.
One of the things that would have helped but doesn’t
seem to be available, was a description of the start-up
sequence of the LED’s on the 881W’s front panel. Support knew what I was talking about but didn’t even have it
for themselves. Just knowing what was normal and what
wasn’t would have saved me considerable grief.
Almost as bad as the routers were the access points.
Again, the LED flash sequence would have been very
helpful but wasn’t available, either from support or
CISCO (at least I couldn’t find anything with on-line
The biggest (and most subtle) problem was poor quality RJ45 connectors. I had two crimping tools - one from
Radio Shack and another from Jensen Tools - both almost
as gray haired as I am. The connectors were from my local
electrical/data supplier.
I found I was having a high percentage of failed connections when testing with inexpensive cable test equipment
- the ones that test for normal pairs/reverse pairs/cross
pairs. Sometimes, re-crimping helped; at other times, no
matter how much force I applied to the tool, cutting off
and replacing the connectors was the only solution to the
I checked with the supplier’s data section and
was told that they weren’t
aware of any problem
with connectors! Seems
as if I was the only one
with troubles! When they
failed to suggest alternative solutions, I contacted
another supplier and
bought a kit of connectors
and tools (one tool for
stripping the outer cable
cover, the other for the
actual crimp) sold under the name of GEM
RJ45 kit sold by GEM ElectronElectronics. On these
ics with cable cover stripping tool,
crimping tool (blue handles), and
connectors, the wires
loose connectors.
feed thorough and out
of the connector end. A good idea, since you can check
that the wires are actually in the right position, before
crimping. The tool crimps the connector and cuts the wire
flush with the end.
Since going to the new connectors and crimping tool,
there have been only two failures in the cables. Both of
these were with access points failing to connect to the
MAY 2012 - PAGE 5
router - both caused by
my not getting the wires
in the correct order in the
A connector with individual conducSo, if you are about
tors fed through before crimping and
to do router and access trimming.
point installations in
your branch, ward or stake, drop me a note. Maybe I can
save you from having to climb the learning curve all by
yourself, by giving you a helping hand up.
“Not all are called to be artists in the specific
sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all
men and women are entrusted with the task of
crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they
are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”
~ Pope John Paul II
Pictures and
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f they were still alive, my high school English teachers would be very surprised to learn how much I enjoy
their subject now! Especially the ones who tried to
instill the rules of writing and grammar into students who
were less than receptive or caring (what do I need this
stuff for, anyway!).
As the years have gone by, I’ve come to feel a greater
desire to know how words work, and how they can catch
someone’s interest, persuade individuals to move in a particular direction, or create pictures in the mind. Very much
at a beginner’s level, I’ve developed a pleasure in learning
about those things.
I’ve become interested in typography and why different typefaces evoke differing emotions or trigger different
reactions in those reading print or viewing on a computer
I’ve always had an interest in making things fit, making
them work, either in the electrical, electronic or mechanical sense, or in the artistic realm. If I could afford it, I
would retire and go back to school full time, just to learn
about the things in which I’m interested. Not being able to
do that, I’m always on the lookout for books to teach me
something of these things.
Web pages have fascinated me since I first learned how
to “write” script to create simple designs. Beginning with
hand coding and moving
up through the early
“...the fun, the enWYSIWYG (What You
joyment is not so
See Is What You Get)
programs which, more or
much in arriving
less, did the coding for
at the destination,
you, I’m now “playing”
with XARA Designer Pro. it’s about the journey.”
This program allows me
to input text or graphics,
and wherever I stick them
on the screen is where they show up on the web page.
The program does equally well in creating drawings. In
the hands of someone with talent, this program does some
amazing things.1
Adobe InDesign is still my software of choice for this
newsletter, and other text/graphics projects I’m involved
in, and every time I use it I continue to discover new-tome features. From Adobe, the cost is very steep. Look
for a copy on E-Bay, or buy the student edition, and save
yourself a lot of money.
Unlike Chic, WA2USI/W2CAN/SK, who did wedding
photography as one of his many interests, I don’t particuMAY 2012 - PAGE 6
larly like taking pictures of people (except my grand children!). I prefer animals, rocks, buildings, and trees, over
humans. I enjoy exploring the world through a camera
lens; besides, the aforementioned inanimate objects don’t
complain if they appear too fat!
Recently I upgraded from Adobe Photoshop Elements
photo software to the full Adobe Photoshop package,
complete with its steep learning curve. And yes, books
have been ordered!
Speaking of books - a couple I’ve found useful and
more than a little interesting regarding design are
THE NON-DESIGNER'S DESIGN BOOK Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual
Novice - 3rd edition by Robin Williams
Designer's Almanac of Dos and Don'ts - by
Adams, Dawson, Foster, and Seddon
There is so very much to discover in this life. For me, the
fun, and the enjoyment is not so much in arriving at the
destination, it’s about the journey.
Until next month,
MAY 2012 - PAGE 7
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