May 2022 Meeting: Lessons from Baker to Vegas

At our May 4 membership meeting, Jeff Liter, W2JCL, presented a recap of ARES LAX Northeast’s deployment to the annual Baker to Vegas relay race. Each year, a dedicated team of volunteer operators from Northeast maintains a checkpoint along the race route. Below are a few of the pictures that Jeff shared.

The lunar landscape of the Baker to Vegas race.
A portable mesh kit for WiFi speed on the go.
This station monitors activity via cameras on the mesh network.
Robert, K6YZF, operates at Stage 8 of the race.
Baker to Vegas has a fun, positive energy despite (or maybe because of!) the difficult conditions.
The ARES LAX Northeast team takes a meal break.
The camp site at night.

April 2022 Meeting: The History of TELCO

On Wednesday, April 6, SPARC welcomed Bill Westphal, WB6YPF, the trustee of one of our area’s most important ham radio resources, the TELCO repeater in Pasadena.

TELCO, W6MPH, was originally installed by the amateur radio club of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company (hence the name). Bill joined the phone company right out of high school in 1969, and he has been carefully maintaining the repeater since 1992. In 2017, the Pasadena Radio Club stepped forward to contribute funds for the repeater’s continued operation. PacTel may be gone, but the legacy of its radio club is in good hands.

Bill gave a brief history of repairs and upgrades he has made to TELCO over the years. The most important recent repair to TELCO had nothing to do with the repeater itself – a microwave antenna located on the same roof as TELCO was leaking signal and causing interference. After grounding the offending equipment, the noise is gone and TELCO sounds great once again. Bill also revealed the origin of the station identification, “Welcome to the D Light Full W6MPH repeater.” The digital ID system doesn’t include the word “delightful,” so Bill programed it to say the word phonetically. For a time, Bill connected a PC to the repeater that would read “A Visit from St. Nicholas” on Christmas Eve.

TELCO’s current configuration. Its output power is 30 Watts. The small grey box with the dial is an exciter driver built by Allen Wolff KC7O.
Two rows of duplexers separate the input frequency (bottom) from the output frequency (top).

Bill recommends that anyone looking for more information on repeaters should check out the Repeater Builders web site and their associated Groups.io page.

SPARC thanks Bill for the evening of local radio history and for his many years of service to the ham community.

March 2022 Meeting: The Hunt Is On

On Wednesday, March 2, SPARC welcomed Scott Bovitz, N6MI and Bill Hacker, WB6MGT as they presented “Transmitter Hunting: How to Drive Yourself Crazy, Hunt Sometimes-Hidden Signals and Still Have Fun on a Weekend!”

Both Scott and Bill have been licensed operators since 1969, and of all the aspects of the hobby, t-hunting is the one they are most passionate about. Scott explained that the best way to think of t-hunting (also known as fox hunting) is “electronic hide and seek.” Scott and Bill have been on day-long hunts that have taken them throughout Southern California, into Arizona and Nevada, and as far as St. George, Utah. The image above shows a gathering of t-hunters earlier this year in Palm Springs.

A tiny transmitter, or “fox box,” made from an Altoids tin. This model of transmitter is a fun DIY project and the perfect size for a t-hunt in a park.

All it takes to get started in t-hunting is a handheld and, ideally, a four-element Yagi antenna. Scott’s mobile station is far more elaborate, based on an Icom 7100 and a sturdy antenna mast that slides in through the roof of his car. Hidden transmitters broadcast a beacon signal on 146.565 simplex, the nationally-coordinated t-hunt frequency. Typically, when a hunter finds the transmitter, there is a sign-in sheet for logging call signs, mileage driven, and the time. There are usually no prizes, just bragging rights.

Here are a few links that Scott shared for those who’d like to explore t-hunting:

Southern California Transmitter Hunters (greater LA)
Southern California Transmitter Hunters (San Diego area)
Homing In, a site maintained by Joe Moell, K0OV
Will Burt, a commercial source for industrial-grade masts
Byonics, manufacturers of pre-built transmitters

Scott on the cover of 73 magazine in 1988

SPARC thanks Scott and Bill for a funny and inspiring evening. Happy hunting!

February 2022 Meeting: Vital First Aid Lessons

At our February 2022 monthly membership meeting, SPARC welcomed a fixture of the local ham community, Nancee Darling, K8NBD. Nancee is an active member of several local groups including ARESLAX Northeast and ALERT. She gave an important presentation on Stop the Bleed, a program from the American College of Surgeons that teaches how to stop bleeding in a severely injured person. Nancee is a certified STB instructor, and she advocates that everyone should learning how to provide assistance in an emergency. Stop the Bleed is “a skill that can be utilized with your family, in your neighborhood or after that horrific traffic accident. You will enhance your ability and confidence to recognize life-threatening bleeding and intervene effectively. The person next to a bleeding victim may be the one who’s most likely to save him or her or yourself.”

Nancee followed up a few days later with more detail on liability concerns about intervening when someone is injured. “While Good Samaritan laws are different between jurisdictions,” she explained, “most of them share three common elements. They are that the helper is protected from liability if:

They obtain the permission of an ill or injured victim to render aid, when possible.
They provide care in an appropriate and non-reckless manner.
They provide care due to the situation being an emergency, and trained help has not arrived yet.”

Below is a video Nancee recommends on how to use a tourniquet.

SPARC thanks Nancee for sharing this practical and potentially life-saving information.

August 2021 Meeting: Raspberry Pi in the Shack

At our August monthly membership meeting — yes, six months ago, sorry — SPARC welcomed Jason Oleham, KM4ACK, the creator of Build-a-Pi. If you’re thinking about using a Raspberry Pi as your shack computer, Jason’s Build-a-Pi script can install many of the most popular ham radio apps and utilities automatically. Jason’s YouTube channel is a great source of information about Raspberry Pi, field operations, EmComm and digital modes. SPARC thanks Jason for speaking with us and for sharing his work with the entire ham community!

Free Tower Needs a New Home

Dear SPARC members and friends,

Please see the forwarded message from Jim Marr AA6QI below.

Thank you,

Rick Besocke
SPARC President

From: Jim Marr AA6QI

Tri-Ex MW-35 tower – free

From the estate of SK ham N6TG, there is a Tri-Ex MW-35 (S/N 57204) crank up tower that is available for FREE to the first taker, with the proviso that you pick it up and move it to where ever it needs to go.  I would be happy to help with the moving and I’m sure that we can scare up even more help when the time comes.

Here are two pictures:

It looks like it’s about 25’ long and has one internal telescoping section.

The tower is lying on the ground in Pasadena on Madre St below California Blvd.

If you’d like to look at it, let me know and I can arrange with the family for a visit.

73 — Jim AA6QI

September 2021 Meeting Canceled

Dear SPARC members and friends,

The South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club is taking a short summer break and will NOT meet on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The weekly check-in nets will continue and the monthly meetings will resume on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

Thank you,
Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM
SPARC President

Ham Estate Offers – August/September 2021

At the August meeting of the Pasadena Radio Club, Jim Marr, AA6QI, presented a selection of ham equipment that PRC has been collecting from the estates of deceased members and friends. Some of the equipment is outstanding and available at very low prices. Prospective buyers should contact Jim at AA6QI@arrl.net. The equipment is available for pick up in Pasadena. Jim has tested the equipment to ensure it operates properly or to identify what must be done to make it operate correctly. The below PDF (4.7 MB) lists and illustrates the available equipment. (Note for new hams: The term “SK” means “silent key,” a radio operator who has passed away.)

July 2021 Meeting: Propagation and Solar Cycle 25

At our July monthly membership meeting, SPARC welcomed Carl Luetzelschwab K9LA, an expert on the science of radio propagation. Professionally, Carl worked for forty-one years as an RF design engineer, and in his spare time he was a columnist for WorldRadio (and later CQ) beginning in 1997. He continues to write a monthly column on radio topics at his personal website. His presentation to our July meeting is linked below (2 MB PDF). SPARC thanks Carl for speaking with us and for his continued devotion to the hobby!

Click here to view (2 MB PDF)