June 2024 Meeting: Preparing for Field Day

At our June monthly meeting, we discussed SPARC’s upcoming joint deployment with the Pasadena Radio Club for Field Day. This will be our clubs’ first in-person Field Day since 2019. SPARC has volunteered to set up a VHF/UHF station and organize its operators. The details are:

Start: Saturday, June 22 at 11:00 a.m.
End: Sunday, June 23 at 10:59 a.m.
Location: Art Center College of Design parking lot
Enter at 1700 Lida St., Pasadena, CA 91103
What3Words location: help.rock.vouch

If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to operate with us, please reach out to us through our contact form.

Click this link or the image below to download a copy ( 1.9 MB PDF) of this year’s Field Day presentation.

If you can’t be with us in person for Field Day, we hope to hear you on the air!

May 2024 Meeting: Learning CW with Carol, KE6SRN

At our May 2024 meeting, SPARC member Carol Bruegge, KE6SRN gave an overview of proper Morse code usage and shared tips for how to become proficient. (Apologies for the blurry photo above.) Fun fact: What we refer to as “Morse code” is more accurately called “Gerke code” because it was standardized by a German telegraph pioneer named Fredriche Gerke. Carol covered several topics including efficient communication and free learning tools. Below are links to the tools that Carol recommended.

Click here to download all of Carol’s slides (1.7 MB PDF).

After Carol’s presentation, we had a show and tell session with paddles, straight keys, and “bugs” from SPARC members’ collections.

To the left of the paddles were laptops loaded with RufzXP, Morse Runner, and Iambic Master. Attendees could compare the programs and see which ones might be worth trying at home.

At 9:13 p.m. the ham radio satellite SO-50 passed overhead, and Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM led the group in a contact demonstration. This was an opportunity to see a satellite contact in action, inspired by our February meeting on the topic.

Rick, KI6ZKM contacts SO-50

Next month, it’s time to talk Field Day! Join us on June 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Eddie Park House.

John Aboud, KK6ZVQ

April 2024 Meeting: State of the Hobby with Diana Feinberg, AI6DF

At our April member meeting, SPARC welcomed ARRL LAX Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF. Diana has served the local ham community as section manager since 2016 and in numerous other capacities before that.  She is currently president of the Palos Verdes Amateur Radio Club, and she was formerly president of the 220 Spectrum Management Association of Southern California. She has chaired the Los Angeles Area Council of Amateur Radio Clubs, served as the chair of the HAMCON hamfest, and has been active in the Los Angeles County Disaster Communication Service.

Diana opened by discussing what is new with the ARRL both nationally and locally. Topics included:

  • How to know when the digital editions of ARRL magazines are available.
  • The fight to protect radio spectrum from high-speed trading systems.
  • ARRL membership numbers in LA County. 
  • A program that helps members locate sources of RFI (hint: check your dimmer switches first). 
  • Patterns of volunteering.

The second part of her presentation was titled “Surprises in Amateur Radio.”  It covered the aspects that make our hobby unique, including the constant improvement of its equipment and development of new modes such as the M17 standard.

As a gesture of our thanks, we presented Diana with a bag of Li’l Sparky’s Blend whole beans (actually the Lost Parrot Blend from Jones Coffee Roasters).


ARRL SSB Rookie Roundup, 4/21

For the purposes of the event, a Rookie is defined has having been first licensed in the current calendar year or the previous three calendar years, regardless of license class. You can also be a Rookie if you haven’t made any contest contacts on the contest mode (in this case, SSB).

May Meeting, 5/1

We’ll be discussing CW and Morse code. Do you have an interesting Morse key, bug, or paddle? Bring it in for a show and tell.

Exploring the End-Fed Half Wave Antenna

Ferrite core

Tony K6TTP sent us this article on the end-fed half-wave antenna written by John VA3KOT for Ham Radio Outside the Box. “This is probably the best overview article on end-fed half-wave antennas I’ve read in many many years. It broadly addresses in brief the fact and opinion that exists in the EFHW world, and explains the complexities, alternatives, and some variations on the type.” It’s a great introduction for anyone considering constructing one of their own. The caption for the image accompanying this post reads, “49:1 showing 2xFT140-43 ferrite cores. No case, insulated wire protects windings from moisture.”

You can tell us about your antenna building adventures on Instagram, Threads and Mastodon.

SPARC and Friends Support Family Bike Ride

SPARC was proud to provide communication assistance to South Pas Active Streets during a community cycling event on Saturday, March 16. Jason KM6WJQ and David KK6DA, two active members of ARES LAX NE who recently worked the Firecracker 10k in a similar capacity, lent their considerable expertise. Together with John KK6ZVQ, they monitored the progress of a bike caravan along Mission Street and informed ride marshals whenever the group became split up by red lights or delays.

South Pas Active Streets organized over eighty bicyclists to ride from Garfield Park to the South Pasadena Nature Park and back. Over half of the riders were children, many of whom had never visited the Nature Park or Arroyo bike path before. Several community groups participated in activities at both parks, including South Pasadena Beautiful, Friends of the South Pas Nature Park, the D.U.D.E.S., a local Lionsheart chapter, and The Hive which provided a craft station. Mayor Evelyn Zneimer and Councilperson Janet Braun joined the group and spoke about the importance of community involvement with our civic planning.

Below are two embedded Instagram posts showing a selection of photos from the event.

We look forward to helping with similar events in the future!

March 2024 Meeting: Restoring Vintage Radios

At our March 2024 meeting, SPARC welcomed Joe and Sandra Fekete to discuss vintage and antique radio restoration. Joe Fekete is an active member of SCARS, the Southern California Antique Radio Society. He was a ham in 1970s and has served as an FCC liaison. He currently lives in Monrovia with his wife Sandra who is a self-described “conehead,” which in the restoration hobby means someone who specializes in repairing speakers.

Sandra and Joe Fekete

Joe and Sandra demonstrated their techniques for restoring old radios to appear “right off the assembly line.” For example, when stuffing capacitors they recreate vintage labels to preserve technical information and capture the look of the original components.

Vintage capacitor labels ready to be scanned and reprinted

The meticulous couple spent three years restoring the radio of a 1957 Corvette on behalf of Cerritos collector Kent Browning.

Sandra holds the metal frame of a classic Corvette speaker.

Here are a few resources the Feketes mentioned for anyone interested in attempting a restoration:

If you’re interested in acquiring a vintage radio, SCARS will hold a swap meet in Burbank on June 15.

Several SPARC members have extensive experience with vintage ham equipment. Bob WB6YJJ brought in two beautiful vintage radios and an oscilloscope, seen below.

A nonworking 1930s commercial radio from the Feketes (top left) and three working pieces of equipment from Bob WB6YJJ

The gleaming transmitter on the right is a working Johnson “Viking Valiant” from the late 1950s. Rick KI6ZKM brought a Hallicrafters rig that he plans to repair.

Interior view of a Hallicrafters rig owned by Rick KI6ZKM

Tony K6TTP shared several tips for anyone embarking on a restoration:

  • Document everything with photos.
  • Locate a trustworthy schematic for your rig and compare it to the physical equipment.
  • Replace all the capacitors. If a vintage capacitor hasn’t failed, it will. 

Tony recommends Old Radio Parts for obtaining replacement components and the website HiFiAudio.com for its many kits and guides. Tony is restoring a Hallicrafters SX-140 with help from HiFiAudio’s guide.

Mark WB6CIA suggested building a collection of vintage tube substitution books. He also consults SAMS Photofact manuals which can be ordered online or found in vintage bookstores.

SPARC thanks the Feketes for a fascinating presentation, and thanks all the members who shared their equipment and wisdom.

Amateur Radio Booklet by Noël F4JJD

Flying around the web, I found this useful booklet created by Noël Martin, F4JJD. It’s called, simply enough, the Amateur Radio Booklet 2024 Edition (3.3 MB PDF). It includes:

  • Band Plans
  • Classification of Emissions
  • Q Codes
  • Morse Code
  • Radio Abbreviations
  • Digital Modes
  • Radio Waves Physics
  • Prefixes Allocations
  • Amateur Radio Grid Locator

Noël maintains the booklet as a project on GitHub. According to his personal site, he’s a ham and software engineer in France. You can follow him on Mastodon here.

TNX to Cale K4HCK, and his great newsletter Amateur Radio Weekly, for the link!