Welcome to the K4RAB Web site!  

I am putting this site on line mainly to do some things not found on other ham dedicated sites and to delve into subjects not seen elsewhere.  Like most ham Web sites, this one will no doubt reflect the particular aspects of the amateur radio hobby that are of interest to me, particularly QRP and covert HF operations.  Another interest of mine is ham radio use of computers, particularly those that are alternatives to programs that run only on that ubiquitous operating system that originates with a company in Redmond, Washington.

Particularly interesting to me is the rise and growth of open source software, particularly Linux, and its uses for Amateur Radio. My recent discovery of the new ITX motherboard form factor, which enables the building of a small, but fully capable computer in a case about the size of the Elecraft K2, led me to build a small dual boot (Windows 2000 and Linux) machine which I have described in an article in the Fall 2007 edition of QRP Quarterly and have included notes on this Web site. This machine is capable of running all the digital modes and of course, running logging software under both Windows and Linux.

But, as the television commercial would say, there is more! Like most hams, I have many interests in and out of the hobby, many of them technical in nature. In the hobby itself, I am most interested in QRP or low power operation along with low profile and stealth operation. Stealth antennas are a particularly strong interest of mine. I am frequently thinking about what can be made into a disguise antenna or how can a piece of wire be made practically invisible to the prying eyes of enforcers of antenna restrictions. It is an art and a science that more hams need to develop so they can get on the air! Many hams have developed utterly ingenious ways to engage in covert operation without tipping off nosy neighbors and rules enforcers. I will link to those who have put descriptions of those solutions on line. I also have some ideas for stealth operation that I will post here.

Unfortunately, even though Amateur Radio is a perfectly legal activity licensed and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, it faces, along with other communications services like broadcasting and cellular telephone services, an increasingly hostile local land use regulatory environment.  Even though many of the states have codified the FCC's PRB-1 (limited Federal preemption of municipal land use regulations pertaining to Amateur Radio installations) into their state statutes, this preemption has no effect on certain private entities that also regulate land use. Thus arises the need for covert and stealth antennas, along with the need to engage in low power operation to avoid detection of your activities by neighbors. Many municipalities demand that cellular telephone companies use stealth antennas and strictly regulate where cellular antennas may be installed. This regulatory overkill often extends to Amateur Radio installations, making stealth operation even more necessary.

Perhaps the biggest problems faced by hams are those posed by the spread of 'common interest developments,' which are run by a private government known as a homeowner association. Outdoor antennas are (with the exception of TV and satellite TV) banned altogether in these 'communities'. Furthermore, in many of the more populated areas of the United States, it is very difficult to find a newer home without an HOA and its antenna restrictions. I have been doing some investigation as to why this is the case and will be including that in an article I am writing on local land use restrictions that prohibit antenna installation.

One thing is certain. The need for stealth antennas and covert operation will not go away soon.  In fact, it is becoming more and more essential for hams, both new and more experienced, to become capable of stealthy operation. This Web site is dedicated to helping hams do that, as well as find housing where such extreme measures are not necessary.

                                                                                                                                           Rick Black