ARC SHORTS – August 2010

Rick N4ASX

Club Repeaters: 147.315 (PL 107.2), 444.6 (107.2) (down for maint), 224.82(PL107.2), 53.13 (PL)107.2) DSTAR 145.38Mhz


The June meeting was held on July 9th at the INOVA Alexandria Hospital Health Educations Center. My guess is that we will continue to use this location until we hear from the City on the status of the Fire Training Center.

Our program at the July meeting was provided by Craig K4GOR on a tour of the 145.47 repeater. Craig built this system and it was a very impressive display of what it takes to assemble a repeater. Thanks to Craig for a very interesting and informative program. Rich, KA4GFY gave a short presentation on our Field Day efforts.

The meeting was not very well attended, but that may be due to summer vacations or Field Day burn out.

Our president, Jack, K5OTZ, appointed a new webmaster and arranged for new hosting of the club’s website. Jack has had extensive experience with websites.

The list server, If you’re not on our automated list server then you will only get this once. I have been sending the ARC-Shorts out to all on my list and to the list server. If you are not getting info via the list server, please let Ian, N8IK know and we can get you added to the list so you can be up to date on club information.


Our next meeting is August 13th at the INOVA Alexandria Hospital. The assigned room is TBD.

Check into the club net the night before or check at the front desk on meeting night.

The program for our next meeting is tentatively scheduled to be a presentation from the City’s Emergency Management Office. Mr. Mark Penn, Mr. Charlie McRorie and Ms. Kim Purcell (CERT) have been invited to speak and we have confirmed that one or all will be at our next meeting.

President’s Message:

The Club had a great time at the Berryville Hamfest. We were able to sell some of Jim and Tommy’s equipment. I am sure the families appreciate it. Keep checking into the Thursday night Net; this the place to find out club news.

See you on the radio,

Jack Hranicky / K5OTZ

Marine Corps Marathon

You may now sign up for the MCM. Go to WWW.NCACDC.COM or WWW.MARINEMARATHON.ORG. One of the fields asks for a ‘rank’ – you can put ‘ham’ in this field but you can’t leave it blank.

This is THE premier ham radio public service event in this area. The need is for more than 130 operators, The teams include, Net Control, Iwo Jima Support, Race A (half the course – mile and half mile points), Race B, APRS, Medical (D-Star 1.2GHz digital and 9600 baud packet).

The signups are doing well with over 50 volunteers so far. Good for MCM! If you want a specific assignment, but have not yet signed up, do it early so that special considerations can be made. As of last year, once enough volunteers have been signed up, then the team leads will select from the list of volunteers and will make assignments based on 1 – requests, 2 – equipment and 3 – past experience / ability.


Many of the club members attended the Berryville Hamfest on August 1st. The weather was great to BBQ was good and we were able to sell the majority of the Jim Schwitz’s equipment that was not purchased in the club auction. Even if you’re not looking gear, hamfests can be a  great social event.

NEW RADIO REVIEW – Ten Tec Orion II I had been eyeing the Ten Tec Orion for awhile and kept saying I would buy one. This year at Dayton, I took the plunge and became the proud owner of a brand new Ten Tec Orion II. It was the first new HF radio in 10 years. Its hard to believe my Ten Tec Jupiter is 10 years old!

The most noticeable feature is its size. It’s quite a bit bigger than the Jupiter by a factor of 1 ½ times as wide and a few inches deeper. In fact, its 6 inches high by 17 inches wide by 19 inches deep. I had to do some re-arranging in the shack so it would fit on the table. Looking at the front panel, you will notice the large color screen in the middle which contains a wealth of information about frequencies, modes, bandwidth and a real time bandscope as well as information about operating mode, receiver bandwidth, etc.

Like many modern transceivers, the Orion II falls into the category of Software Defined Radio. Most of the functions are controlled through the microprocessor and updating the firmware is as simple as downloading the latest version from the Ten Tec website and installing it on the radio. The firmware takes care of most of the functions such as transmit and receive audio processing, filtering, frequency and mode, Automatic Gain Control and noise reduction.

If you need more filtering than the Digital Signal Processing can deliver, there are crystal filters available for narrow SSB and CW for a very reasonable cost.

Many of the more commonly adjusted functions are accessible through the buttons around the display. These include speech processor, keyer speed and the output power.

Power can be adjusted from 5 to 100 watts. The keyer can be adjusted between 10 and 50 words per minute.

Once activated, the multi function knob is used to change the setting. There are also menus for the “set and forget” settings. From here, you can customize your transmit and receive audio, CW and SSB settings, VOX controls, filters, the display settings as well as a few others. One feature contesters will certainly enjoy is the memories for both CW and SSB. There are three for each mode, so now I won’t go hoarse calling “CQ Sweepstakes” and repeating “Alpha, KA4GFY, 79, Virginia” or worry about messing up the information on CW.

During very noisy conditions on HF one night, I turned on the noise reduction circuit. This has to be the slickest accessory I have found on an HF radio. The noise was completely filtered out, much like an FM squelch, but I didn’t notice any loss of sensitivity in the receiver. I am sure for the really weak signal way down in the mud at the end of a contest, you might lose that contact with the noise reduction circuit on. For everyday use, it is fantastic.

As does many transceivers, the Orion features two separate VFOs, but the Orion has a fully functional second receiver. For working nets or chasing DX, this is a handy device. For net operation, I can continue to listen to the net frequency and listen on another frequency to pass traffic. For DX work, I can listen to the frequency the DX station is calling on and the range of frequencies the DX station is listening for US stations on. A way to avoid being part of the pileup.

Frequency entry is straightforward. You can change bands via the buttons on the right side of the front panel and dial the frequency you want. Or, by pressing another button for direct entry for VFO A or VFO B, enter the frequency and press the direct entry button again. Both VFO knobs are large and smooth. I don’t detect any roughness in them at all.

The receiver bandwidth is adjustable from 100 Hz to 600 Hz. This is another useful tool for listening to CW signals in the noise all the way to shortwave broadcast stations on AM. You can also move the passband plus or minus 2.5 kHz from the center frequency. This comes in handy during a contest with very close, adjacent stations. The bandwidth is displayed on the screen as both a number and a graphic so there is no question just how wide your receiver window is. The passband is also shown as a number and a graphic. As you tune either one, you can see the relationship between the two as they move together up and down from the center frequency.

Like the Ten Tec Delta (I own one of those, too), I can also transmit on one VFO and listen on the other, or transmit and receive on either. There are differences between the two VFOs. The main VFO is optimized for the ham bands, while the other VFO covers 500 kHz to 30 MHz for listening to shortwave broadcast and long range air traffic control, as well as few other services, including ham radio.

The receiver is second to none. The dynamic range and sensitivity are very impressive. I would go so far as to say Ten Tec receivers are underrated. On the transmit side, I have mine mated to the Ten Tec Regal microphone. The microphone comes with instructions on setting up the transmitter for optimal audio. It must be right, I have received compliments on the transmit audio by several DX stations. Working CW is effortless. Like all Ten Tecs, the Orion II features full break in CW. If you have never used full break in before, you will get spoiled. The receiver unmutes between the dits and dahs.

The Orion II operates on all modes legal on HF. There is an accessory jack on the back and a cable included for connecting to your computer to run the soundcard digital modes such as PSK 31.

The one fault I could find with the Orion II is the serial port on the back of the rig to connect to the computer. Serial to USB converters are not as plentiful as they once were. If it were me, I would use a USB port for connection to the computer.

I can see myself using this rig for many years to come. Oh, and the Jupiter I mentioned at the beginning, I still use it too. Along with a Delta (circa 1984) and a Scout (circa 1999).

73, Rich, KA4GFY

Future Programs

AUGUST – City Emergency Preparedness Office (Mr. Mark Penn or sub)

SEPTEMBER – Eric Parker KG4DZA – City Communications System, Ten_tec Hamfest ??

OCTOBER – Tim O’Neill, KT4MV will provide a program on using test equipment in radio troubleshooting

NOVEMBER – Club elections – Movie night.

DECEMBER – Club Dinner – never too early to plan the party….

N8IK has (he picked up 3 new DVDs at Hamvention this year), Project nights, and local programs. Let the club officers know what you would like to hear.

I’m looking for program ideas for next year.

January –

February –

March –

April –

May –

June – Field Day Preparation

July –

August –

Sept –

Oct –

Nov – Club Elections

Dec – Club Dinner


ARES – CITY EMS, Digital Systems, VHF/UHF Contesting, Antenna Modeling (our speaker could not make it this year), MARS, Shack Night – What do you have in the shack?, OLD radios,

Social Events

We expect to be meeting at the Alexandria Hospital from now until our October meeting, so the pre-meeting dinner is now at Atlantis in the Bradlee Shopping Center at 6 PM. This is also a chance to meet our guest speaker as we offer to buy dinner for them prior to the meeting.

Monday Night Half Price Burgers – There is a group that gets together at Shooter McGee’s

(Duke and Paxton Streets) on Monday evenings at 6:30 PM. A good burger and soft drink runs about $9.50.