Learn about Map Your Neighborhood on October 23 at Caltech

The Pasadena fire department is offering a class on “Map Your Neighborhood” at Caltech on October 23. MYN provides a step-by-step process to organize neighborhoods to be better prepared after a disaster. In the event of a disaster, your best bet for assistance will come from neighbors rather than first responders. This class will offer instruction on how to identify needs and skills that would be available when needed. 

SPARC Demonstrates New EOC Station to the Public

On Saturday, September 14, SPARC demonstrated a new amateur radio station that has been added to the city’s Emergency Operations Center. Our fire department has invested in a dedicated antenna on the roof of city hall and a dual-band VHF/UHF radio. This equipment will help keep communications open even if traditional phone and Internet systems stop working.

In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, SPARC invited city officials, CERT members and Neighborhood Watch captains to see the station in action. The demonstration coincided with the annual ARRL September VHF contest to ensure there was sufficient on-air activity to test the station’s capabilities. SPARC members operated four additional radios to compare against the EOC station. The new station performed well, picking out signals that the others were unable to hear. The station is a valuable addition to the city’s preparedness resources.

SPARC thanks the city fire and police departments for allowing us to use the EOC for this open house and test. We appreciate the hard work that the city and other civic groups do to keep our city resilient and ready. 

Public Demonstration at September VHF 2019
Testing the EOC’s new amateur radio station.
EOC Kenwood
The EOC’s radio is enclosed in a protective case.
Antennas in Courtyard
A new permanent VHF/UHF antenna has been installed on the roof of city hall. For our test, temporary antennas were set up in the courtyard and on the roof.
Logging contacts on the big screen
The new EOC station was tested against radios and antennas brought in by SPARC members. Contacts were logged using N3FJP+ and displayed on the main monitor to the right.
Tribander and Homebrew 6m Dipole
Left, the Ed Fong TBJ-1 triband antenna. Right, a homebrew 6m dipole constructed by Rick, KI6ZKM. A SPARC member stands between them for scale.

Field Day Results Are In

Dear all,

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer while we still have some left. Below are excerpts from the PRC bulletin with this year’s Field Day results. As you know, we ran the Get On The Air (GOTA) station, and we did a good job grabbing contacts. Nonetheless, it was decided not to include our results with W6KA. Instead, our results were submitted separately as a 1A class station. The reason for not including the GOTA station was a concern that our procedure did not fully comply with ARRL rules. So, to be on the safe side, our results were not included with W6KA. I have to admit the ARRL rules are somewhat ambiguous with regards to operators and coaches. 

GOTA score for 2019

I don’t see this as a negative. We all had a good time, and our efforts were productive. If anything, this will be the first time SPARC has participated independently in Field Day. We’ll have to wait for QST to report our overall ranking later this year.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. We can discuss this at our next meeting on August 3. 
73,
Stan KR6CV
President SPARC

In the Pasadena Radio Club (W6KA) bulletin, Paul Gordon N6LL writes:

W6KA Field Day 2019 score

Our groups made 2150 QSOs. That’s 250 more than last year even though we had one less transmitter on the air.

Our Platinum QSO-Master Award goes to David Hodge N6AN with about 500 QSOs; the Gold to Stan Sander N6MP with 400 Qs; Silver to Mark Seigel W6MES with 300 Qs. The Bronze is shared by David Ockun N2JNR and Eric Farrow W9EO who each made nearly 200 QSOs.

At the GOTA station, over 60% of the people who sat down in front of our radios chose to operate. Most of them made fewer than ten contacts each, but likely the first HF QSOs of their lives. Contemplate the impact! For this Stan Tahara KR6CV and the SPARC GOTA crew win our Grammy award, The Elmer.

A score of non-contest operators Got On The Air. There was often standing room only at the GOTA station, W6SPR, as folk were lined up to make a QSO. Operators who had scheduled time in advance were yielding their time slots to kids who were hot to qualify for the Radio merit badge. Stalwart Michele KC6FSP kept the station running through the wee hours, becoming one of three GOTA operators to make twenty or more contacts. The other two high scorers aren’t even hams… yet. They all kept the GOTA coaches busy serving as control operators. Those coaches, led by Stan KR6CV of SPARC, mentored operations for the full 24 hours.

When the dust settled, 175 contacts were in the GOTA log and 20 participant operators had had a fine introduction to HF, having worked 24 states under the watchful eye of a mentor coach. N6LL declared it was the finest GOTA scrimmage he had ever seen. But then a yellow flag was found on the playing field. Illegal motion in the backfield, they said. We can’t count their score, they said. Woe unto us who have not read the rules. Rules? Rules. Thirteen pages of Rules! And another 15 pages of explanatory Q&A. Upon re-read- ing the rules… again… on the morning after, so to speak, Eagle Eyes discovered that GOTA Coaches are not allowed to do the logging for GOTA participants. Woe is us. It seemed innocuous at the time. And so we do not have a GOTA score. Instead, W6SPR will have its own entry in the listings.

We remain proud of our fine GOTA crew and of the camaraderie and public outreach they provided. You just wait ‘till next year. We can hardly wait !

Jim Mar AA6QI, Field Day chairperson, writes:

Thanks to our SPARC team members, our GOTA station remained on the air operating on HF for the full 24 hours, making 175 contacts. Unfortunately, none of those contacts count towards our score because our GOTA station didn’t strictly adhere to the exacting (and very complex!) GOTA station operating requirements in the ARRL FD Rules. This is clearly my fault as Field Day Chair for not fully understanding these rules myself so that I could ensure that the GOTA team also fully understood what those rules were. Specifically, each GOTA Operator must transmit, receive, log and ad- just the equipment themselves, no one else can do any of that for them. Coaches can only advise the GOTA operators and are not allowed to do any part of what the GOTA Operator must do. Additionally, the GOTA station records must clearly show which contacts go with which GOTA operators and who the Coach was for all times that the GOTA station was in use. While a log was kept, it did not contain enough information to match all of the contacts logged into the computer log with the operators who made them. Thus, we were left with the tough decision of disallowing all of the GOTA contacts. Still, with all of the youth and new operators who made con- tacts on the GOTA station, this was a really OUTSTANDING public outreach activity by the SPARC team that will earn us dividends in the future. We’ll do better with our rule compliance next year!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s Field Day such a fun and productive event!

Ham 101 Returns – Reserve Your Spot

‭ARES LAX Northeast, our local branch of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, will hold a new session of “Ham Basics 101.”

Saturday, July 27
9:00 am – 12:00 pm, followed by informal mentoring
Huntington Memorial Hospital
conference room adjacent to the cafeteria

Ham Basics 101 is a two-hour workshop for amateur radio beginners and those getting back into the hobby or seeking to improve their skills. Topics covered include:

  • • basic operations and radio options
  • • how to use simplex and repeater frequencies
  • • how to program your radios manually and using software

For more details and to sign up please visit this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/laect-ham-basics-101-tickets-64313738122

This workshop is open to all licensed amateurs.

Pictures from the 2019 Festival of Balloons Parade

Members of SPARC were proud to march in South Pasadena’s 2019 Festival of Balloons Parade with friends and neighbors involved in CERT and Neighborhood Watch. Mike KM6KAQ wore a fully-functioning mobile rig in a backpack, complete with a portable antenna mast. Tran K6NHI, who works for the Southern California Earthquake Center, had a busy morning thanks to the magnitude 6.4 Ridgecrest earthquake which occurred shortly before the parade. We thank the festival committee and our police and fire departments for organizing another fun day out for the whole community.

Our Next Meeting Is the July 4th Parade

Dear all,

The monthly meeting scheduled for July 3rd will not be held. Instead, we will meet on July 4th to participate in the South Pasadena Festival of Balloons Parade. See the attached flyer, which features SPARC members in last year’s parade.

We will meet on El Centro St. in front of the library. Be sure to wear your SPARC t-shirts, and look for the rest of us in the parade marshaling area. 
A pre-parade welcome ceremony begins at 10:30 am, so plan on being there by 10:15 am. The parade itself starts at 11:00 am, and the route ends at Garfield Park (less than one mile).

Hope to see you there.
73,
Stan KR6CV
President, SPARC

Message from the President: Thank You for a Great Field Day

Dear all,

We had a great Field Day last weekend! A big THANK YOU to all the SPARC members who showed to help set up the Field Day site and staff the GOTA station. 

We made close to 180 total contacts on HF and were able to introduce many unlicensed, youth, and new hams to HF radio and Field Day. Thanks to our “partners in crime,”  Pasadena Radio Club, JPL Radio Club, and Caltech Radio Club. SPARC is grateful for the great organizational leadership, help and the opportunity to participate. We made new radio friends and learned a lot about the art of ham radio. We look forward to doing the same next year. If you didn’t have the opportunity to participate this year we look forward to seeing you in 2020!

Robert K6YZF was our photographer, and he made a GREAT video slide presentation to document our activities.

He said he still has a lot more to share and I am positive we will see more in the August club meeting.

73 all,
Stan KR6CV
President, SPARC

Join Us for Field Day 2019

It’s time to prepare for Field Day, “amateur radio’s open house.” Once again SPARC will join forces with the Pasadena, JPL and Caltech radio clubs and operate from the Art Center College of Design campus.

Field Day 2019 begins Saturday, June 22 at 11am and ends on Sunday, June 23 at 11am. The address is 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, 91103. Above is a flyer for the event put together by the PRC.

Come to our monthly meeting on May 1 at the SP Fire Department EOC and learn about getting the most out of Field Day.

Pictures from B2V and Rookie Roundup

At SPARC’s April meeting, Oliver K6OLI provided a wrap-up of all the action at Baker to Vegas 2019. He has kindly shared a summary of the weekend in this Google Photo Album. The album contains photos from Oliver, Jeff W2JCL, Robert K6YZF, Mike KM6KAQ and Lew AC6LS.

Preparing for runners at the Baker to Vegas relay, March 23, 2019. Photo by Robert K6YZF

On April 14, SPARC participated in the 2019 Rookie Roundup. We made contacts in multiple states and tuned in some very clear signals from Georgia and Michigan. Below is a gallery of pictures from the day. Led by Joss KM6NXI, we took time to play a few rounds of kubb, a lawn game that’s increasingly popular here in South Pas.