Spy Radio in World War II: “Strategic Service Transmitter-Receiver Number 1” SSTR-1

From Scott Gray, KD4VVC:

Circa 1943. “Office of Strategic Services. Field Photographic Branch… Click here to view Instructional Film: Describes the radio transmitter-receiver unit used during World War II. Explains compactness and ease of concealment, and outlines operations in detail: selection of electrical outlet, battery, or combination of both as power unit; antenna, assembly parts, installation, frequency determination and receiver operation; parts installation, attachment of crystal equipment and transmitter operation.”

Click here for more detailed information on the SSTR-1

The WCARES Vision

From Scott Gray, KD4VVC:

One thing we, as members of WCARES, should always keep in mind….every activity we take part in with WCARES should always have some value in preparing for fulfillment of our mission to provide emergency communication support to our served agencies and communities.  So, when taking part in one of the activities of one of the special interest groups, such as the Technical Subjects group and Skywarn group, always look for how the information and skills shared in these activities prepare you to more effectively fulfill this role.  The same applies to the community service events we assist with, such as the Harpeth River Ride, which gives us an opportunity to set up in field conditions, pass real communications traffic, interface with our served agencies, and give us experience in handling somewhat stressful and confused situations.

As time progresses, I challenge each of you to sharpen your skills and prepare the gear you would use to respond to an event.  As you learn new things that would be valuable for us all to know, please contact the WCARES Emergency Coordinator, so an opportunity can be set up for you to share with as many members as possible.

If you have not done so, please review the Emergency Ops plan that is posted on this website.  It is located in the members area, so if you do not have an account, please take the steps to register.  The plan, is our basis for response to an event, and covers several contingencies, such as repeater outages, etc.


The Ham Whisperer (for learning CW)

Trying to learn CW?  I have found a teacher online that so far has really helped me. The website is http://www.hamwhisperer.com/p/morse-code-course.html  Andy, KE4GKP, has eleven youtube (you can get to the videos through the website, or search for “Ham Whisperer” from within YouTube) based audio courses that present the letters, numbers, and prosigns.  Most lessons present three letters and a number.  He presents a letter and repeats it many times as you write it down, after that letter he will send three words for you to copy and give the answers after, he will then give a random run with all the letters and numbers you should know at this point with the new letter included.  He will then present the next letter, and repeat all the steps.  At the end of the lesson, he presents a longer random run, with everything you should know at this point, the key to this run is on the webpage for that lesson.  At the start of the new lesson, he reviews the last lesson with a random run of those characters, and begins to present the new items. For me, this is really helping, so I wanted to pass it along.  Once I get to a higher level of recognition, I will then include tools to simulate HF noise, fading, other signals, etc…..oh and actually listen on the radio!  But these lessons have gotten me farther than I have been able to stick with the code than ever before……. Also here is a link to the K7QO code course that has audio files and key that starts with letters, numbers, prosigns, words…..eventually getting to entire sections from various books.  This is a program that was being given away by The Fists CW Club of North America at the Dayton Hamfest. http://www.k7qo.net/
-Scott Gray, KD4VVC

The WCARES Antenna Team

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Auxiliary Communicators of Tennessee – on Facebook

There is a Facebook page called “Auxiliary Communicators of Tennessee.”  It is a closed group in the sense that you must be a licensed ham radio operator to join.  Many thanks to Elizabeth St. Vincent (K4KTG) for organizing it.  It is a great place to share information of interest to all Middle Tennessee hams interested in emergency communications.

Global Eavesdroppers

In World War II, dozens of radio operators in Scituate dialed into enemy conversations worldwide.

W4PHS Hamnet Presentation (9/20/14)

Click on this link to access Phil Sherrod’s Hamnet presentation, given at Chew and Chat on 9/20/14

Note: The presentation can also be found at http://qrz.com/db/w4phs under the link for Hamnet MESH Networks.

Hamnet: A Broadband MESH Network

From Phil Sherrod, W4PHS:

I just got home from a meeting with two other Winlink developers. We spent most of one day discussing the Hamnet MESH network, and I had a chance to learn a lot and play with the Hamnet software.

Hamnet is a broadband MESH network providing speeds about the same as a Comcast cable connection (or much faster if you use more expensive equipment). Since it is a MESH network, as long as a node has a connection to any other node, it can reach anything in the network. You can simultaneously stream feeds from multiple 802.11 video cameras, do high-speed file transfers, set up an iGate, use VoIP phones or do anything else you could do through a TCP/IP LAN. You can access the Internet through the mesh if one of the nodes has an Internet connection (optional). It would be very cheap to set up Hamnet drop kits as long as we can get the coverage across the county. You only need a Technician license to be part of it.

One of my Winlink colleagues helped set up a country-wide Hamnet network in Chester Co, PA that provides broadband coverage for nearly all locations in the country. They have a hilly county like Williamson.

Texas is big into Hamnet – especially around Dallas and Austin which have almost complete coverage. Hamnet is spreading like wildfire across Europe and developing countries. It now covers many countries in Europe. We are working with them to set up an interconnection with Winlink through the Wien CMS.

The only equipment we need are a collection of Linksys WRT54G routers of versions 1.1 through 4 or the WRT54GL (Linux); I just ordered several WRT54G on eBay for about $25 each.

Note that you don’t have to have a computer at a node. Just plug in a WRT54G, and it’s instantly part of the network, and it can provide coverage to other stations further away. No on-site software configuration is needed. If you put a WRT54G on a hill with a battery, you would have an instant relay across the hill and coverage for anyone with a LOS location around the hill.

Here’s the main page for the Hamnet organization: http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/

An even better device than the W4T54G is the Ubiquiti Bullet BM2HP or one of their other devices:


The Bullet is available in several frequencies, but I think we should stick with 2.4 GHz to be compatible with other 802.11 devices except for long-haul links where 800 MHz would have better penetration through foliage.

For long-haul, line-of-sight links (10-20 miles), you can use 20+ dB antennas that only cost about $10, such as:


The Fall TEMA/AuxComm exercise is Oct. 10-11, and it’s being held at the Independence High School in Franklin. My plan is to set up and demonstrate a Hamnet covering the exercise.

If you want to get going with Hamnet, here are the steps:

Register your callsign at http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/component/user/?task=register
Read this page to find out which versions of the Linksys WRT54G are compatible with Hamnet. http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/section-blog/37-hardware-faqs/101-supported-hardware.html
Find or buy a suitable WRT54G, and load the Hamnet firmware into it: http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/software-download.html
You may want to consider replacing the antennas on the WRT54G with a mag mount or better. Note that at 2.4 GHz, feed line loss is severe.
If you want to set up an outdoor installation or build a good drop-kit for field operation, this is the recommended equipment including a Ubiquiti Bullet that mounts outside and requires only a CAT5 cable to run inside:
Total cost: $107.41


Ideas for Field-Expedient Antennas

Visit the following website for ideas on field-expedient antennas, many of them applicable in a military-type setting:


Online Weather Spotter Training

Online Webinar NWS Spotter Classes!!
Here is the webpage to visit if you want to sign up:


Remember, to attend the webinar, you will need to complete the two modules on this same page first.
Any questions, just let me know..
Scott Unger
NWS Nashville