ARC Shorts – February 2010

News letter and meeting announcement for the Alexandria Radio Club. Club repeaters and detailed info can be found at Club Net: 147.315 (-600Khz, PL107.2) on Thursday’s at 8 PM local time Club Meetings: Second Friday of each month at 7:30PM at the Alexandria Fire Training Center.

WA4CCF- Jim Schwitz –Silent Key

It is sad to report the passing of Mr. James Schwitz, WA4CCF.  Jim was the man behind our current stack of repeaters. He built them and maintained them from 1978 to the present and helps greatly with the recent upgrades and refurbishment of the system.  Jim was an avid traveler, VHF operator, experimenter and builder.  Due to his efforts we were the first club in the area to have linked 440 MHz and 2 Meter repeaters, 220, 6 meter, 900 MHz and 1.2 MHz repeaters were also built by Jim.  When we lost the lower 2 MHz of the 220 band and there were threats to 440 MHz, Jim was instrumental in pushing club members to use these bands and to get active.

Jim had worked for PEPCO as a technician and worked with Tommy Lucas, W4TBL,

Jim’s support of the club represented a major investment both in time and resources.  Without his support the club would not be where it is today.

Jim was also available to provide advice when asked.  He was a great example for others in amateur radio and he will be missed.

A Word or two from the President

The Alexandria Radio Club has another great year coming up; many fun radio events. First, we want to thank Rick Bunn, N4ASX, for preparing ARC-Notes. Next, the GW Parade is always fun, so contact Rick – you will need a 2 Meter HT. D-Star would be nice – er. The Ham Fest season is starting. This is a good place to find the items that you need for your Shack. Also, it is fun meeting hams there that you have been talking to on the radio.

We will schedule events that you suggest…you only need to tell us. Repeaters are working well, so tune in on Thursday nite at 8:00 pm on the 147.315 frequency. We usually get 10 to 12 check-ins. This is a good place for learning about current events and radio activities.

You are invited to make contributions to ARC-Notes. This newsletter is for all Club members and hams anywhere… see you on the radio.

73 Jack Hranicky Alexandria Radio Club President K5OTZ

Minutes of the last meeting.

If you missed the January meeting you missed a good one!  Hans Timmerman PB2T, gave a program on the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) and how they interact with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).  ITU is the governing body for international agreements on the use of radio spectrum.  IARU does a great deal to protect our spectrum and help expand our spectrum when it can be justified.

GW Birthday 10K RACE and GW Birthday Parade – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

The Alexandria Radio Club and other in the area have supported these events for a long time.

The 10K race is on February 13th. The race starts and ends at the Movie Theater on Eisenhower Ave next too the Metro Station. We need at least 7 operators using 2 meters.  We need to meet at 7:30 AM, race starts at 8:30 and the event ends by 10:30AM.  Many of us have been going out for a late breakfast or early lunch after the event.  We will bring out the club trailer to show it off and may get a few folks interested in ham radio.  Course is the same as it has been for several years. Please let me know if you can volunteer.

The BIG event is the GW Parade on Monday February 15th. We need to be on the parade course by 10 AM, Parade starts at 1 PM and ENDS at 3 PM.  We then go for a club supported late lunch afterwards. Last year we meet afterward at Fudd’s, but it open to the group.  We need D-Star and 2 meter handhelds.  We provide organization support before the race starts and safety along the course. Need at least 12 operators for this effort.

To participate, call Rick, N4ASX, (703)317-9305 or e-mail

Our next meeting is scheduled for February 12th at the Fire Training Center behind the Nanny J. Lee Center. At 7:30 PM. Many members and guests meet at the Chicken Out Restaurant on the Corner of Washington and Franklin Streets at 6 pm for dinner.  The schedule program for this meeting is the Virginia QSO party. Our club usually sponsors at least one award (and our contesters have been known to win more than one!

Tech and General Classes

The next licensing class starts Tuesday, March 2 and ends May 4, 2010.  The location will be in room 3 of the Health Education Center at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, 4320 Seminary Road in Alexandria. The cost is $50, which includes the book, test fee and materials.  Time is 7PM to 9:30 PM.

As in the past, both Technician and General classes will be covered.  For more information, contact Rich Adamy, KA4GFY, and (703) 960-4096 or

Future Programs

MARCH – Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, Advances in APRS. APRIL – Craig Church, K4GOR, will present a program on the building and rebuilding of the 145.47 repeater.

MAY (tentative) – Terry Hines, N4ZH will be presenting a program on antenna modeling (same one as provided to QCWA in November) JUNE – Field Day Planning (June meeting) Dennis Bodson – ARRL news.(Tent) JULY – Tim O’Neill, KT4MV will provide a program on using test equipment in radio trouble shooting AUGUST -City Emergency Preparedness Office (Mr. Mark Penn or sub)  SEPTEMBER – Open -looking for DXing / Contesting / VHF – UHF program / AMRAD OCTOBER – Open – 2011 Club officer nominations NOVEMBER – Club elections DECEMBER – Club Dinner – never too early to plan the party…. If you have an idea for a program you would like to hear, please let the VP (N4ASX) know and we will try to arrange it.  Some suggestions include running the DXpedition videos that Ian Keith N8IK has, Project nights, and local programs.  Let the club officer’s know what you would like to hear.

Social Events

Many of the club members meet prior to our meetings at the Chicken Out Restaurant at Wilkes and Washington Street 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 MaGee’s on Monday evenings at 6:30 PM. A good burger, and soft drink runs about $8.

Richmond Frostfest February 6th. Many of our members car pool.  As we don’t have a meeting before this event, check into out THURSDAY Night net to coordinate.

Troubleshooting Tips for Used Amateur Radio Equipment – Part 1

Buying used radios at Hamfests and bringing them back to life is a fun part of the hobby.  Do your homework ahead of time, bring cash, and know the values of the gear you seek.  Radios that are not working, can be bought at bargain prices, but are sold “as-is”, so buyer beware.  Do you think you can handle this project?   HF transceivers built in the 1980s are a good start.  These radios were built with parts that are large enough to see, and easy enough to find and replace if needed. The Kenwood TS-520 series and the Yaesu FT-101s were popular, have solid-state components and RF power amplifier tubes, and can be found for a reasonable price ($100 – $200). All solid state radios like the Kenwood TS-120, TS-130, TS-140 and Yaesu FT-301 and FT-707 make good projects.  Try to bargain the price down at a Hamfest.

Some all tube radios like the Heathkit HW-101 are a good buy if you want to work on an older tube radio.  Older radios were often separate receivers and transmitters.  A few companies made a matched pair, but it was not unusual for a ham to use a receiver made by one company and a transmitter made by another.  Once you get the radio home the first step, before applying power, is to open the radio and do a detailed visual inspection. Look for burnt or missing parts, improperly replaced parts, loose wires, or other obvious problems. Radios that have been stored in basements, attics, and garages can also attract insects or mice, and a good cleaning may be required. It is also a good idea to do this inspection in your garage or on your patio.

Research the radio and locate a schematic and manual.  There are many Internet websites that have digital copies of these documents.  Some radios have multi-pin power plugs that may use several pins for 12 VDC positive and several for negative, so check the power plug wiring carefully. Some radio also require jumper pins on the rear panel connectors.

Before applying power, replace any AC power cords that are frayed or brittle. Check to see if the correct fuses are installed. Stay clear of any high voltage components, especially plate caps on the tops of amplifier tubes. These should be protected by metal screened boxes for safety reasons.

Once the radio is powered up, check for normal operation of the receiver using an appropriate antenna. Check all bands and modes of operation.  Check the transmitter by listening with another receiver. Use a wattmeter to confirm power output level.  If you are lucky, the radio may just need some contact cleaner sprayed on the noisy switch contacts.

If a radio has multiple voltages supplied from the power supply, check them all.  Even a modern radio uses one 12 VDC supply, but may internally convert this to several different lower voltages. If one of these voltages is missing, the radio may partially function.

Make an extra copy of the schematic diagram and use colored pencils to highlight certain items.  Color the HV feeds from the power supply red and the screen voltages on tube radios orange.  AVC circuits in receivers can be highlighted to help locate faults in the circuit.  Write down the actual measured voltages at test points to record your progress.

Next time this column will address techniques to locate intermittent faults.

Tim O’Niell KT4MV

Ham Humor

Looking for inputs – Fill in – “You might be an amateur radio operator if________________” Please send your inputs to Rick,

Using Your Radio for D-Star Voice Usage KI4MWP, Marshall DeBerry

W4HFH D-Star Overview

Members of  the Alexandria Radio Club have been using D-Star since the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon, with the local W4HFH D-Star site going live in late February of 2007.  The current site consists of a full D-Star “stack”:  a 2 meter voice module,  a 70 centimeter (440) voice module, and two 1.2 GHz modules used for voice and data transmissions.  The following table shows the various frequencies for the different modules:

Digital Voice Parameters Setup Summary

Given the above information, how would you go about setting up your D-Star capable radio for use?  The following table summarizes the different setups for the various Linking and Gateway usage.

The first three rows demonstrate calling “CQ” on simplex, the 2 meter local repeater port and on both 70cm and the 2 meter port.

The fourth demonstrates calling “CQ” on ALL the local repeater ports of the W4HFH system. (note that there is a slash ‘/’ right in front of W4HFH’s RPT2 callsign)

The fifth row shows how to setup the Gateway in RPT2 in order to communicate with someone such as a Dongle User coming into the repeater, or any station on a Reflector. We strongly recommend that when you program the 2 meter port,  70cm (440) port and 1.2 GHz port into your radios that you put the W4HFH _ _ G into the RPT2 field.  This should be your default so you don’t have to program the RPT2 field each time you want to talk to a remote station on the Gateway.

The sixth demonstrates calling a specific station, AC5RA, using the gateway, while the last row shows how to call “CQ” through the gateway to a remote system 2 meter port, in this case K5TIT. In each case in the table below  you are transmitting on 70cm (“B” port. (note that there is a slash ‘/’ right in front of K5TIT’s callsign)

*Please substitute for your call sign as appropriate. 

Remember: Call sign fields have eight positions for characters, and the last one is where the ‘port switch’ needs to be. Adjust spaces accordingly, or be frustrated!

Reflector usage

There is another way to communicate with other hams around the world without having to do a direct Gateway call to a particular call sign.  D-Star reflectors have been developed that allow hams to talk by just dialing in their local D-Star frequency on 2, 440, or 1.2 GHz and identifying themselves.  There are currently thirty reflectors that have been setup, ranging from the general conversation reflector found on Reflector 1C to the “local” reflector for the National Capital Region (NCR) D-Star group found on Reflector 25B.  (For a complete listing of reflectors, go to for detailed information as well as other useful information on D-Star.)

Currently, the W4HFH D-Star site has Reflector 1C setup on the 2 meter D-Star frequency,  Reflector 25B on the 440 D-Star frequency, and Reflector 14A operational on the D-Star 1.2 GHz voice frequency. The NCR D-Star group has a Sunday night net at 7:00 pm, at which time Reflector 25C is mapped to the W4HFH D-Star 2 meter frequency for the duration of the net, and then switched at the end of the net back to Reflector 1C.  (Please note that all hams with D-Star capable radios are welcome to join any local D-Star nets.)  To access any of these reflectors, simply tune your D-Star capable radio or dongle to the appropriate 2 , 440 or 1.2 GHz frequency, have the RTP1 setting set to the appropriate C, B, or A port in position 8, verify that your RPT2 setting is set to go out through the W4HFH Gateway (G setting in position 8),  and issue your call sign. Reflector 1C has become a world-wide “party line” of other D-Star users, so feel free to jump right in and enjoy the fun of D-Star!


Richmond Frostfest February 6th – This is the Virginia State Convention.  It’s held at the Richmond Raceway Complex (the old fairgrounds).  It has expanded from its days in the old department store on US 360.  Well worth making the trip.

Vienna Winterfest (club has two tables) February 28th – Conveniently located at the Northern VA Community College campus in Annandale.  Just two traffic lights west of 495 on Route 236.  The Vienna Wireless folks put on a nice hamfest.  This is a great opportunity to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile.

Timmonium (Baltimore) March 27th and 28th – Well worth making the trip.  Located at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timmonium, off I-83.  This is by far the largest hamfest in the area. There are large indoor areas for tailgating and commercial exhibits, as well as an outdoor fleamarket.

Its not too early to start thinking about the Dayton Hamvention. Its May 14th through May 16th . If its ham radio related, it WILL be at Dayton.  This is the time when manufacturers bring out their new equipment.  For those with an interest in aviation, Wright Patterson Air Force Base is home to the US Air Force Museum.  The museum has some familiar aircraft as well as some one of a kind.

Rich, KA4GFY, has rooms reserved.  We also need folks willing to drive their vehicle (about 1200 miles round trip).  If you are interested in going, see Rich. (

One of the ideas that came up recently was to have an informal spring cleaning tailgate party at one of the local parks. No vendors, no refreshments (unless you bring them), just a chance to clean out your excess stuff and buy other stuff.  Tentatively we will schedule this when the weather gets warmer.  We can invite other clubs to join us as well.

Upcoming Contests

Feb 6th and 7th – Vermont QSO Party, 10-10 Winter Phone QSO Party, Delaware QSO Party.

Feb 6th – Minnesota QSO Party

Feb 7th – New Mexico QSO Party

Feb 13th and 14th – Louisiana QSO Party

Feb 20th and 21st – ARRL DX Contest (CW)

Feb 27th and 28th – Mississippi QSO Party

This is not the whole list for February, but this should get you going.

QSO parties are a great way to get started in contesting.  Most states have one.  They tend to be low key events. If you’re working on DXCC, the ARRL DX contests are a good way to work new countries.

ARES and upcoming public service events.

While we are in the dead of winter and it’s been way cold, it’s now the time to think of spring, warmer weather and of course public service events.

The first one to come up is the Washington’s Birthday Parade is February 15th. If this goes to form, we will need about 5 or 6 operators to support the 10K run on Saturday the 13th and about 14 operators to help with the parade on the 15th. After the parade we will head for Fuddruckers for a late lunch. Please let Rick, N4ASX know if you can support.

The Nations Marathon is March 20th.  I will have more info on this event, but sign up is via their website.

Potomac Marathon, date unknown, but usually supported by amateur radio with Mt Vernon ARC in the lead role.

A few words about ARES.

ARES or Amateur Radio Emergency Services is an ARRL organization that provides emergency communications support to served agencies. This can include: The City of Alexandria, Red Cross and Alexandria Hospital.  For city run events, drills or real emergencies, ARES volunteers must be registered with the city and a simple background check done.  I will need to get more forms but should have them by the February meeting.  To sign up for ARES, you need to go to WWW.ARESVA.ORG and register.  If your already on the list, you can update your information if needed. Once you have registered the SEC will send me your information and I will put you on the list.

The city also requires that you have taken FEMA’s Independent Study 100 (IS100) which is taken as a web class and takes about 30 minutes.  When you get your certificate please send me a PDF copy. (

I will be revising the Alexandria ARES Ops Plan and will get it out to all volunteers and interested members at the February meeting.

73 Rick


ARC - Shorts

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