February 2024 Meeting: Working Satellites with Clint Bradford, K6LCS

Our February 2024 meeting was held via Zoom and featured Clint Bradford, K6LCS presenting “How to Work Amateur Satellites with Your HT.” Clint has been a ham since 1994. His niche in the hobby is working amateur satellites with minimal equipment and spreading the word on how to do it. He has served as a liaison between NASA, the ARISS team, and schools coordinating amateur radio contacts between the International Space Station and students. Clint has created a support Web site at work-sat.com that’s a one-stop source for all the citations, equipment recommendations, and software suggestions made in his presentation. He also maintains a Groups.io list at work-sat.groups.io. He resides in Jurupa Valley, California, with his wife Karen, who expertly handled Zoom duties during the meeting.

Some notable Clint quotes:

  • Why work satellites? It’s just another cool thing we can do in this wonderful hobby of amateur radio. 
  • Tips to improve your HT’s battery life: Cut your output power in half, improve your antenna, use an earpiece. 
  • It’s rocket science… but it ain’t rocket science.
Photo from Clint’s QSL card. He’s seen here at the LA County Fair, where he worked three countries using only 2W of power.

Some slides from the presentation:

Other useful links besides work-sat.com:

Software recommendations:

SPARC thanks Cliff and Karen for an informative (and funny!) evening.

OTHER CLUB BUSINESS

  • Join our Groups.io list and become a member
  • Our simplex net returns next week on 2/14. Chris KM6OUK is compiling signal reports from the simplex nets so we can map propagation behavior in our area.
  • The Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association (BIARA) will hold a special event station on February 22 from 1600 to 2400 UTC. Try contacting this unique radio station to our south in San Pedro.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

  • March 6 at 7:30 p.m. — We’re back at the Eddie Park House where we will be joined by Joe Fakete, an active member of the Southern California Antique Radio Society. Joe will speak on vintage and antique radio restoration. Bring an old ham rig or vintage consumer radio, and Joe will walk you through the steps to put it back in working order. Email us if you would like to bring some equipment but need help transporting it. Related: Jim Fisher, the president of SCARS, invites everyone to learn more about the group, become a member, and participate in SCARS’s annual auction. It takes place on 2/17 in Tustin. 

  • April 3 at 7:30 p.m. — Also back at Eddie Park House, our guest will be Diana Feinberg, AI6DF. Diana is section manager for the ARRL LAX section. Her visits to SPARC to update us on League business and the state of amateur radio are an annual tradition.

73!

January 2024 Meeting: Simplex Operations

Radio Mobile Online propagation prediction

At our January member meeting we introduced the new club officers for 2024 and thanked outgoing president Stan Tahara KR6CV and outgoing treasurer Bob Vanderwall WB6YJJ for all their hard work.

Our featured topic was simplex operation and tips for participating in a simplex net. Jeff Liter, W2JCL gave a presentation which you can view embedded below. Download a PDF copy (1.1 MB) of it by clicking here.

Links from the presentation:
Radio Mobile Online propagation prediction tool
Having Fun with VHF” presentation by Bob Witte K0NR
Ed’s Radio, site listing Southern California nets

In conjunction with the discussion of simplex, we announced the addition of a new simplex net to our monthly schedule (click here for full details).

SAVE THE DATES
January 20: ARRL January VHF Contest. A good opportunity to get on the air and test your equipment. We encourage you to participate from home or the field.

January 27: Winter Field Day. Join SPARC in Eddie Park for this annual emcomm practice event.

JOIN OUR GROUPS.IO
SPARC is migrating its mailing list to groups.io so members and friends can have more control over how they receive news and updates from the club. Whether you are a long-time member or simply interested in hearing about our activities, we hope you will subscribe and stay in touch.

IT’S DUES TIME
And speaking of membership, now is the time to join or renew. Dues are only $20 per year, per household. Cover all hams at the same address with one payment!

📻 Returning members renew by clicking here.

🙌 New members join by clicking here.

If you have more than one ham in your household, please submit a membership form for each person so we can add everyone to our member database.

73!

New Net Schedule for 2024

Starting on January 10, SPARC will experiment with adding a simplex net to its monthly schedule. We will adjust the net based on need and experience if necessary. Here is the current monthly schedule.

1st Wednesday of the month, 7:30 p.m.
Monthly member meeting — NO NET

2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:30 p.m.
Simplex net on 145.600 MHz, no PL tone

3rd and subsequent Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m.
Check-in Net on the TELCO Repeater
145.180 MHz
PL 156.7 
Negative offset

Our goals for the simplex net are to practice emergency communications skills and to develop a propagation map of the city so that club members know “who can hear me” without a repeater.

Please join our Groups.io announcement mailing list for news about meetings, events, and changes to the net schedule. We hope to hear you on the air soon!

Wrapping Up 2023 and Looking Ahead to 2024

The Canoe House

Our November 2023 membership meeting was cancelled due to a guest speaker falling through, but spirits were high at our annual December social at the Canoe House restaurant. Over a dozen members gathered to catch up and discuss their various radio-related projects.

A week later, during our December 13 on-air net, participants described their favorite ham radio gifts, either received or purchased for themselves. The fond memories included:

To inspire future hams, Mark WB6CIA suggested donating a pair of walkie-talkies to a Toys For Tots drive.

On behalf of everyone at SPARC, we hope you have a happy, healthy, and radio-active 2024!

October 2023 Meeting: Preparedness, Maui Fires, and a Radio SOP

At our October 4, 2023 membership meeting, SPARC President Stan Tahara, KR6CV, led a discussion about emergency preparedness at home and in our community. Using a slide presentation highlighting the resources posted on SPARC’s online preparedness page, Stan solicited ideas and feedback from those in attendance. The presentation is embedded in this post below.

Next, Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM, gave a talk about a family member’s experience escaping the fire which devastated Lahaina, Hawaii in August. The tragic events in Lahaina demonstrate all the complexities of an evacuation. Everyone will have unique considerations in an emergency, and Rick’s narrative was a stark reminder that there is no “one size fits all” plan.

Finally, Jeff Liter, W2JCL, presented his draft of a standard operating procedure (SOP) for SPARC’s communications response to an emergency. We discussed how it could be revised, implemented, and practiced in the future.

We hope you find the below presentation useful, and we encourage you to participate in the Great Shakeout later this week (read this post for full details).

Participate in the Great Shakeout with Winlink on October 19, 2023

September is National Preparedness Month, so now is a great opportunity to get ready for the Great Shakeout, the world’s largest earthquake preparedness exercise. SPARC member, and ARES LAX Northeast District Emergency Coordinator, Oliver Dully, K6OLI has written a guide to using Winlink’s built-in “Did You Feel It?” form during the Shakeout.

Send Winlink DYFI (“Did-you-feel-it?”) Exercise reports with your group. We encourage you to send reports with Modified Mercalli Intensity V (5) or greater.

Step-by-Step Winlink USGS DYFI Instructions
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Exercise Youtube Video
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Exercise Instructions (Downloadable)
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Example Report with point-by-point answers indicating an earthquake with Modified Mercalli Intensity V. If you have never experienced an earthquake you may use the example answers (or make up your own).

Read Oliver’s full article here. Preparedness will be the topic of our next monthly membership meeting on October 4.

September 2023 Meeting: Checking in with Winlink

At our September 2023 member meeting, we learned about the latest features of Winlink from Jeff, W2JCL. In his role as Assistant District Emergency Coordinator for ARES LAX Northeast, Jeff uses Winlink extensively and stays apprised of its development.

Winlink is an email client and a network infrastructure for sending email over amateur radio frequencies. It is especially useful in emergency communications because its robust error correction ensures critical information is sent exactly as intended.

Slide from Jeff, W2JCL’s presentation

Anyone interested in learning about Winlink should visit the official site at Winlink.org. More resources are linked on our Winlink project page, and you can read an earlier presentation from Jeff here (274 KB PDF).