ARC – Shorts – January / February 2013

March, 2013
Rick Bunn N4ASX – Editor


Our next meeting is March 8th at the Alexandria City’s new Emergency Operations Center at 3600 Wheeler Ave.  We will meet in the Community Room on the first floor. Parking is the public lot right in front of the building.  DO NOT PARK ON THE STREET!!!  At 7:00 there should be plenty of spaces.

Our program will be the SKYWARN BASIC Class for weather spotters.  In order to get all the material covered we need to START THE MEETING AT 6PM. Our speaker will be Mr. Ken Widelski.  If time permits we can discuss some of the home weather stations on the market, Our VP has offered to provide some information.

February Program – VA QSO Party

Our February program was THE VIRGINIA QSO PARTY.  Always a good program with lots of info on how last year’s contest went.  In the past the club has had a strong showing in the contest.  If you do participate,  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE put Alexandria Radio Club in the log as your club, so we get a club score in addition to your individual scores.  It does not take  great deal of effort to get an award.  N4ASX only had 78 contacts (50 multipliers and 500 points for the SPARC club station.) and he was number 2 high power station in Fairfax.


The Virginia QSO Party will be held during the 3rd weekend in March. The times are:  Saturday, 16 March 1400 UTC – Sunday, 17 March 0200 UTC and Sunday, 17 March 1200 UTC – 2400 UTC.   For Virginians, this is Saturday 10 AM – 10 PM and Sunday 8 AM – 8 PM local time.

Sponsors of the VQP are awarding 25 plaques this year, one more than last year. The new plaque is Single Operator Youth (18 or younger) sponsored by the K4AMG Memorial Amateur Radio Club (

The Virginia QSO Party web site is: The website has the rules. the list of plaques and sponsors, and the VQP briefing which contains statistics of past Parties. Please make a QSO with our club station, K4NVA, during the contest and please submit a log.

If you have questions, please email us at
73, Gordon, NQ4K

February Meeting Minutes –

Our secretary was out of town so no details. We started the meeting with the program and had a very short business meeting afterward.

The 224.82 repeater is now operational and under test at K4GOR’s QTH and a crew of volunteers may be needed to move it to the repeater site.  Those who volunteer need to understand that the location is CLOSE HOLD INFORMATION.  Thanks to Tim KT4MV and Craig K4GOR for building the new repeater.

Field Day is getting closer.  Jack has submitted our request for the park and the City is sending a letter to Parks and Rec to secure the park at no cost and get us 24 hours operation.  Thanks Jack for making this happen.

Rick, N4ASX is looking for programs and would like feedback from the members on what they would like to hear.

Future Programs

  1. Network Engineers Repeater Association (NERA)
  2. AMSAT
  3. AMRAD (SDR Radios)
  4. Brief from Alexandria EMS.
  5. RFI from electrical power lines.
  6. Cell Phone systems
  7. Others to be identified….. 

President’s Corner

This weekend was the ARRL DX Contest (phone portion), and while participating in it (and struggling, the hamster was running in the wheel as fast as he could), I got to thinking: We have a lot of new members, but most of them have seen only the VHF side of the hobby.

While it would be unreasonable for me to expect them to put out the large amounts of money it takes to get a new HF rig on the air, I’m hoping we can get them together with our experienced HF people to learn, make a few contacts, participate in a contest, or something like that.

Jeremy KF7IJZ’s “newbies on the air” program is good, and hopefully, we can get some of them to participate. We need to remind them that even if they don’t own or can’t buy an HF rig at this time, there are ways for them to use it other than just field day.

On my first field day, I made a total of either 1 or 2 contacts. I was uncomfortable and inexperienced with HF, and it showed. Rick N4ASX invited me to his house to do a contest with his rig, and showed me what to do, when to jump in, when to move, how to determine who was the caller and who were just the people trying to make contacts, and I made about 40 contacts to mostly far-off lands. Then, I started trying out my QRP rig, just to see if it could be heard, and suprisingly, I could!

With this weekend’s contest, I’m now up to 72 DX entities and 48 states, and I’ve got a nice pile of QSL cards.

I’m not trying to force anyone into HF. Some people are happy participating in the VHF/UHF side of the hobby, emergency communications, etc., and that’s fine, but if there is interest in HF and DXing, I would like it to have an outlet. Most importantly, I would like our new hams to get more involved in the club, and know that there is a place for whatever their interests are. There is always a place for learning. I’ve passed the Extra Class test, but if I design a radio from scratch, you had better test it outdoors, near a fire extinguisher. One of my goals is to learn how do design at least simple radios. Others may want to learn about other facets of the hobby, and I hope that the club will have a place for everyone and their interests.

Shortly, I will be passing out surveys, for people to indicate what facets of ham radio interest them, and maybe we can find some programs and activities to feed those interests.

73, — Tom Kirby KJ4FUU

Up Coming Events

GW BIRTHDAY –  After Action

The 10K race went well and started a bit early with the race starting at 8AM and ending at Noon.

As usual, the weather was cold.  Steve loan the guys in the trailer a propane heater and it made a great deal of difference.  Thanks Steve!  We had a problem with the 1.2GHz D-Star link, but the problem was identified and will be fixed the next time we use D-Star.  This year we had the right list and we were able to pass most of the changes to the reviewing stand by voice.  Next year we will set up 9600 baud packet on UHF as a backup to D-Star.

Despite the problems with our digital links, Mr. Shumard was happy with our efforts and I think all had a good time.

Thanks to all who participated.

Training –

Our latest Technician class started February 26 with 10 students in class and two more who were unable to be there for on the first night.  Our group brings varied backgrounds to the class and their reasons for getting into ham radio.  We are looking for the same success as last time where the entire class finished the course and passed their exams.   There is still room if someone you know wants to become a ham.  They can sign up via the club website or by email to

73, Rich, KA4GFY

Hamfests –

April 6 – Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest, sponsored by the Baltimore Amateur Radio Club.  Its located at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, which is Northwest of Baltimore, right off I-83.  Its an easy 1 ½ hour drive from Alexandria.  Talk in on the BARC repeater, 146.670 (PL 107.2).   A large number of Alexandria Radio Club members make the trip.

Its not too early to start thinking about the Dayton Hamvention.  This year’s Hamvention is May 17, 18 and 19.  We normally leave on Thursday (May 16) and return late evening on Sunday (May 19).  There are 6 rooms reserved for ARC members would like to go.  We normally bunk two to a room.  The cost usually runs around $200 for rooms, $28 for the ticket and bus pass, one tank of gas, plus your meals and whatever you buy at the hamfest.  This is the big kahuna of hamfests.  There were over 25,000 people at Hamvention last year.  If you would like to go, let me know at or at a meeting.

Contests –

  1. Mar 9 & 10 – Idaho QSO Party.  Exchange is RST and your state.
  2. Mar 10 & 11 – Wisconsin QSO Party – Exchange is your state.
  3. Mar 16 – Oklahoma QSO Party – Exchange is RST and your state.
  4. Mar 16 and 17 – Virginia QSO Party – Exchange is a serial number and your VA county or city.  Be sure to get on the air and include “Alexandria Radio Club” in your contest results when you send them in.
  5. Mar 17 – North American Sprint, SSB – Exchange is both callsigns, serial number, name and state.
  6. Mar 23 – Alaska QSO Party – Exchange is serial number, callsign, first name and your grid square.  Most of in the ARC are located in FM18.
  7. Mar 30 & 31 –  CQ WPX SSB Contest – Exchange is the signal report and serial number.  

ELMER – HF antennas for small spaces.

Most of us now get started on VHF with the Tech license, but very shortly afterward we feel the need to talk beyond the line of sight.  HF is a GREAT part of the hobby.  Radios, even 20 year old radios, have great specs, are solid state, usually have digital read outs and run on 12 Volts.  You no longer need to have a table full of gear to have a very capable HF station.  But the radio, and power supply are not a big issue.  Your enjoyment of HF will be related to how well you hear and how well you are heard and that my friends comes down to ANTENNAS.

Keep in mind that smaller antennas are easy to hide,  easy to put up and don’t hear or transmit as well as longer wire antennas.   Many of our members use hamsticks or other mobile whips set up on a mount on a balcony or in a window.  They do work but are not very efficient.  Adding a counterpoise (1/4 wavelength wire on the ground for the band of interest) will greatly help the performance of these mobile whips.  Small whips give up bandwidth.  You will need some form of antenna tuner for 75 and 40 meters and maybe for 20 meters.

Many of us want to be on all of the HF bands, but the smaller the antenna is relative to a quarter wavelength the less efficient it is.  My recommendation is to try the higher bands 10/15 and 20 meters.  A 10 meter dipole can be made from 17’ of wire and a a 20 meter antenna of course is twice that.  Long wires with a tuner with thin wire to a far away tree or support can do very well.  I know one ham who lived on the 9th floor of a condo in Arlington and ran a wire to a pole above the pool across a parking lot. The only thing you could see was the plastic insulator from the top of the light pole and only if you really looked for it.

Another issue is interference.  When the feed point of your antenna is near a building like an apartment building or condo,  you may get some RF energy into some of your neighbors gear.  Most entertainment systems and computer speakers are NOT shielded and running a 100 watt transmitter can cause overload or induct a signal into that gear.  Most entertainment type gear is NOT shielded.  Start at LOW power and work up.

73 Rick N4ASX


Governor proclaims March 12 as Tornado Preparedness Day
Citizens can participate in statewide tornado drill

RICHMOND, Va. – During the past two years, 62 tornadoes struck Virginia, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100. To encourage tornado awareness and safety, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed March 12 as Tornado Preparedness Day.

“Tragically, many Virginia families and communities have been affected by deadly tornadoes in recent years, and recovery continues in many places,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Knowing what to do when a tornado warning is issued can save your life, so we encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming Statewide Tornado Drill.”

On March 12, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals are encouraged to practice taking cover from tornadoes during the Statewide Tornado Drill, set for 9:45 a.m. At that time, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasters, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.

When the test tornado warning is sounded, people should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. Safe areas are basements, interior rooms, bathrooms, closets or hallways on the lowest level of a building. In choosing a safe area, stay away from windows. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor, facing down, and cover heads with hands.

“The best and fastest way for anyone to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “With a weather radio, you get weather data directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. When we issue a tornado warning, the weather radio sounds an alarm or flashes lights and then gives information on where the storm is, which way it’s moving, and telling people in its path to take cover. This radio could be a lifesaver.”

NOAA Weather Radios with SAME alerts are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, discount and department stores, and online. They come in battery-powered models, and many also have AM/FM bands. A special needs NOAA Weather Radio is available as well. The special-needs NOAA Weather Radio can warn deaf and hard-of-hearing persons of hazardous conditions, giving them around-the-clock, up-to-the-minute weather information.

For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for the statewide drill, go to Although registration is not required, people participating in the statewide drill are encouraged to sign up to show their support. The annual drill is a joint effort of VDEM and NWS.

View the Governor’s proclamation for Tornado Preparedness Day:

Here’s a look back at tornadoes in Virginia during 2012:

  • 11 tornadoes were recorded (8 EFO and 3 EF1).
  • There were no deaths, but six people were injured.
  • Property damage totaled $3 million.
  • The highest number of tornados occurred in June (6).

During 2011:

  • 51 tornadoes hit, the second highest number on record (87 struck in 2004).
  • In April, 10 people died and more than 100 were injured.
  • Most tornadoes occurred during April, but tornadoes also were recorded in March, May, August, September, October and November.
  • In April, 212 homes and 17 businesses were destroyed; more than 1,050 homes and businesses were damaged.
  • Nearly every part of Virginia experienced tornadoes, including mountain areas.
  • One-third of the tornadoes struck at night when people were asleep.

Social Events

Monday Night Half Price Burgers – There is a group that gets together at Shooter McGee’s (Duke and Paxton Streets) on Monday evenings at 6:15 PM. A good burger and soft drink runs about $9.00.

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