ARC – Shorts – March 2013

ARC-SHORTS
April, 2013
Rick Bunn N4ASX – Editor

Club Repeaters: 147.315 (PL 107.2), 444.6 (PL107.2), 224.82 (PL107.2) NOW UP AND FULLY OPERATIONAL, 53.13 (PL107.2) Down for replacement, 927.6 (-25Mhz, PL107.2), and 1282.600 (PL 107.2), DSTAR 145.38Mhz, 442.060, and 1284.600

NEXT CLUB MEETING

Our next meeting is April 12th    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.  You may now park on the street!!!!

Our program will be presented by Mr. Mark Penn, City of Alexandria Emergency Management Services (EMS) Manager.  Mark has been asked to review how ARES and the Club is set to support the city when needed and also to talk with us about how we can continue to be of relevance to the city.  We go back to our 7 PM start.

As part of Ways and Means – I have a few Midland converted radios, minimum bid will start at $50,  I have  one 110 Watt 6 meter mobile with 22 channels, one 440 Mhz and one 2 meter, 40 watts out each with 22 channels.  The radios will include the software which runs under Windows.  You will need to buy or borrow a programming cable.

March Program – SKYWARN Basic Class

Our thanks to Ken Widelski for his presentation of the SKYWARN weather spotter basic class.  My guess is that we now have many new weather spotters in Alexandria and Fairfax.  It was a very interesting program.  Due to federal budget cutbacks we were the LAST program for this year.  There is a Skywarn website which has some interesting info on it.

March Meeting Minutes

Due to the length of the Skywarn program there was no real business meeting this month.  The need for a good 6 meter repeater antenna was briefly discussed.  A motion to fund the new antenna and assemble a working party to install it will be brought up at the April meeting.

VA QSO PARTY

Rick, N4ASX issued a challenge on the Thursday evening net for those in the club who participated in the VA QSO Party.  For each club member you work you get a club point, for mobiles 2 points, for the expedition station (W4HFH) 20 points.  At the April meeting we can compare our overall scores and see whom you worked in the club.

Many members participated and had a good time.  40 meters seemed to be the best HF band for working within the state, but I heard a great many stations on VHF/UHF bands.

President’s Corner

We just finished up another glorious VA QSO Party, and I heard plenty of participation from the members of the Alexandria Radio Club, and it reminded me of something I forgot: I wanted to tell all of our Technicians who only had 2-meter capability to sit on a frequency (it turns out 146.58 was suggested) and try and make a contact, so they could get a certificate. I had my radio dialed back to 5 watts, since I was participating in the QRP category, but was still able to make contacts to Alexandria, Fairfax County, Arlington, and Falls Church. I was listening, and occasionally putting out a call, and could have heard hams nearby me. I need someone to remind me next year, since the certificates are always interesting.

Contests are fun, but they serve a purpose: They will give you an idea of whom or where you can contact in the event of “when all else fails” and that’s nice to know. My antenna is not ideal for 40 meters, but it will work locally. I was able to reach Galax with no problems, Buena Vista with difficulty, and on a better day, could have reached Bristol and Hopewell. I ended up with 37 multipliers (32 counties and cities, and 5 states).

I would like to remind all our newer members that if you want to participate in one of the contests using HF, that some of our more experienced members may make their stations available and help you  “learn the ropes” of contests, and HF operation in general. I hope we can have a “newbies on the air” event again this year, preferably before Field Day.

And now that Field Day has been mentioned, please make plans to at least drop by our Field Day site for a while. You can help setup,  break down, or operate for a while — all participation is welcome. Contact Jack K5OTZ to see where you can fit into the plans.

I really appreciate the effort put into our club programs, and really enjoyed the NWS training class. I look forward to other interesting and informative programs in the future.

Some logging programs don’t automatically credit you with the 500 bonus points for contacting K4NVA. I asked Gordon NQ4K about this and he told me not to worry, since they re-score all logs, and will credit you with the 500 points if they see a contact to K4NVA.

73,
— Tom Kirby KJ4FUU
President, Alexandria Radio Club

Future Programs

Working on ARRL, AMRAD –  SDR radios, AMSAT – Eagle Sat, NERA – Wide area UHF repeater system, Cell Phone/Trunked Radio Systems, Field Day – Planning,

ELMER’S Corner – HF courtesy and contests / DX operation.

Technician class operators DO have HF privileges.  SSB on 10 meters from 28.3 to 28.5 as well as CW on 80,40, 15 and 10 meters.  A few things etiquette items to keep in mind when operating on HF that are not common with VHF operation.

1 – There are no ‘channels’.   On most VHF/UHF radios, the tuning is done by synthesizer and set to 5KHz steps.  ON HF, radios are tuned in 1 Hz or 10 Hz increments and an SSB signal is 3 KHz wide and a CW signal is about 200 Hz wide, but your front end may not filter out an adjacent signal within the limits of the filters you have installed in the radio.  Many casual CW operators do not put narrow CW filters in their HF radios so if your 500 Hz up or down you may be interfering.  I’ve heard new hams on HF tell a contact that they were off frequency because they were NOT on an even 5 Khz frequency.  Not a good way to show your knowledge.   It is important however to recognize that even if you hear another station 2 Khz away from a frequency in use, your calling that station may interfere as your signal will overlap the others by 1 KHz.  Also remember that many radios don’t have the greatest of ability to reject strong adjacent signals, so give others a little extra room.

2 – When there is a conversation on the frequency or a net on the frequency,  you may ASK to join them, but it is considered rude to just put your two cents in.  As with VHF you can drop your call sign, but DO NOT use the CB phrase BREAK BREAK.  Again it will not be welcome and it shows your lack of knowledge.  If you drop your call sign and it’s ignored that’s your answer, time to move up the band (or down the band).

3 – During contests and DX contacts, there is a great deal of competition, this does not mean that manors go out the window.  Take your turn,  it may take a while to work that DX station, but after the stronger stations have gone, you’ll get a chance.  If your call is KK4ABC and he says, The WA station, DON’T JUMP IN.  Some stations will work you even if you don’t meet the criteria, but that may be the last time he works you.  Best technique is to see whom the station works and what they sound like.  IF the DX station picks up the first to call, then be in with the first to call stations,  If the DX station picks up the last clear call, then you can try to time your call to be just at the back end of the calling pileup.  Always start with your full call, but some folks will also use just the call suffix to get the stations attention.  Remember that this is NOT an id according to the FCC, so use your full call when you make the contact.

4 – On HF nets the NCS will call for check ins. Just drop your call and wait for the NCS to call you and ask for your particulars.

5 – On some of our contests, (VA QSO Party, Field Day, etc) weaker stations usually do not hold a frequency and call CQ, but hunt and pounce on those who do going up and down the band.  But, if you do decide to sit on a frequency you should first make REALLY sure that the frequency is clear and NOT IN USE.  Try, CQ CQ CQ this is KK4ABC – Is the frequency is use? About three times, then listen.  If you don’t get a response then go for it.  On some occasions someone will come up after you have started to use the frequency and tell you that he’s holding it for the Old Farts Net or some other net that meets 24/7/365 on the frequency and has done so for 100 years.  (This guy will be a charter member of that net).  The FCC says all frequencies are shared, but an argument may be counterproductive, most of us will move off the frequency, but you might ask if the net is in session and advise that when the time comes for the net to begin you will then move off the frequency.

6 – Another common error is not to wait until a contact has been completed to jump in with your call.  Please wait.  A good DX or contest station will say QRZ and that’s your cue to jump in, but some will tell the previous station about their signal and want to ‘tie the ribbons’ on the contact, wait until the previous QSO is really complete.

7 – There are many adjustments on the modern HF radio, Try to have your rig set up correctly.  If you figure that you can get a few more watts out by running the mic gain all the way up or setting the processor all the way up, your watt meter may show more output but signal will sound like dog food or what happens to dog food.  On HF you may be trying to communicate with someone who’s command of English is not so good.  If you make it hard to understand you then you won’t get the contact.  I have heard many stations with great signal strength, but their mic gain is so high that they are NOT understandable.  Keep the mic gain at a level where it just trips the ALC.  Read the owner’s manual on it and resist the urge to push the limits.  Misuse of the controls leads to “you are 59, what was your call again?” type responses.

8 – Keep the pace of the station you’re working.  If the station you’re working wants to engage in a rag chew, then by all means, but if he’s working 30 to 40 stations an hour, that is not the time to ask about the weather or his antennas or what radio he or she is using.

I hope this helps

73 Rick / N4ASX

Training –

We are already approaching the halfway mark in the latest class.  Our students are eager to learn and ask great questions.  Don’t forget the exam on May 7.  It’s not restricted to class members, so if you are looking to upgrade, let me know so I can make sure we have the test material available.  If you’re not licensed and want to take a test, you are welcome to join us as well.

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.

 April 13 – York Hamfest.  A short drive away off I-83 not too far into Pennsylvania.  Location is the Porters Community Fire Company.  Talk in is on 147.330 MHz (PL 123.0 Hz).

May 4 – Great Hagerstown Hamfest.  Location is the Washington County Agricultural Center.  Talk in is on 147.090 MHz.

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 who 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 ka4gfy@arrl.net or at the April 12 meeting.

73,
Rich, KA4GFY

Contests –

  1. Apr 6 – Missouri QSO Party.  Exchange is RST, serial number and your state.
  2.  Apr 13 through 15  – Montana QSO Party – Exchange is your state.
  3.  Apr 13 and 14 – New Mexico QSO Party – Exchange is your callsign, name and your state.
  4.  Apr 13 – Georgia QSO Party – Exchange is   RST and state.
  5.  Apr 20 – Michigan QSO Party – Exchange is serial number and state.
  6.  Apr 20 – Nebraska QSO Party – Exchange is RST and state.
  7.  Apr 20 and 21 – South Dakota QSO Party – Exchange is RST and state.
  8.  Apr 20 and 21 – North Dakota QSO Party – Exchange is RST and state.
  9.  Apr 20 – Ontario QSO Party – Exchange is RST and state.
  10. Apr 27 – Florida QSO Party – Exchange is RST and state.

73,
Rich, KA4GFY

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.

ARES

Looking for volunteers ALWAYS.  Let Rick, N4ASX know.

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.

Visit to Udvar Hazy – Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Rick, N4ASX, has agreed to organize a visit to Udvar Hazy out near Dullas Airport.   Tentative date is Saturday March 3rd.   Lets plan to meet at the Fire Training Center parking lot and carpool to Udvar Hazy.  They don’t charge for entrance to the Museum but they charge $15 per car to park.  Rick can take three in his vehicle.

ARC - Shorts

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