August 2022 Meeting: Summer Simplex Test

For our August membership meeting, SPARC conducted a live test of SPEAR, the South Pasadena Emergency Amateur Radio, a Kenwood 710GA. Bob Vanderwall, WB6YJJ, operated the station from Garfield Park in an attempt to determine how far SPEAR’s signal could reach. SPARC thanks the following stations for their participation.

Richard King, KE6VYZ

Jeff Liter, W2JCL

Clark Miller, K9IXS

Daniel Duncan, WA6NZZ

Randy Canfield, N9BM

John Wooten, N7JAY

Stan Tahara, KR6CV

Chad Alapag, AJ6UX

Chris Cronin, KM6OUK

Festival of Balloons 2022

After a two-year pause due to Covid restrictions, South Pasadena once again held its annual Festival of Balloons parade on July 4. As in years past, SPARC marched in the parade with members of local Neighborhood Watch and CERT groups. Thanks to SPPD Detective Richard Lee for organizing everyone.

The picture above, taken by Stan Tahara, KR6CV, shows SPARC President Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM; SPARC Treasurer Bob Vanderwall, WB6YJJ; member Mike Newman, KM6KAQ; and member Conrad Besocke.

June 2022 Meeting: Options for Field Day 2022

At our June monthly membership meeting, the club held its annual review of Field Day rules and discussed plans for one of the biggest events of the ham radio calendar. The ARRL has announced that some Field Day rules introduced to accommodate social distancing are now permanent. Embedded below is a presentation that summarizes the most important Field Day facts.

This year Field Day will start at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time (1800 UTC) on Saturday, June 25 and end on Sunday, June 26 at 1:59 p.m. (2059 UTC).

In years past, we’ve enjoyed a regional Field Day operation organized by our friends at the Pasadena Radio Club. This year, there is no physical site for everyone to meet, but we can use these two online tools to add a social element to our individual operations. 

  1. Discord
    Discord is a chat and video streaming app much like Zoom. But unlike Zoom, which was designed for business use, Discord was designed by and for video gamers, so it has extra features that are useful for radio contesting. For example, rather than a specific, time-limited Zoom meeting, Discord “servers” are up and running at all times. Members of that server can log in and log out as they please and talk to whomever else is logged in at the time. Also, many people can share their screens simultaneously and stream their activity. You could share a view of your N3FJP screen or GridTracker or just your face. And you can selectively mute any of these streams — it would be overwhelming to hear all of them at once. If you’d like to join the SPARC Discord server, use the Contact Us page to request access. 
  2. ContestOnlineScore.com
    ContestOnlineScore.com is what the URL implies, an online scoreboard for monitoring a particular contest. Once you create your account, you can affiliate with a club and/or a contest team. You configure your logging program (N3FJP, N1MM+, etc.) to share your score with the site. To affiliate with SPARC, you can select “South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club” from the pull-down menu of clubs. Click here for information on how to configure your logger to post the scores.

As always, SPARC encourages everyone to get out, make some contacts and have fun!

Take Part in SOTA This Weekend

Dear SPARC members and friends,

Members of the South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club will be activating a few local Summits on the Air (SOTA) peaks on Sunday, July 18, 2021. SOTA is a great opportunity to combine hiking and portable operating (see the Summits on the Air website for more information). Peaks and times will be posted as “alerts” and “spots” on SOTAwatch during the day on Sunday. Bands and modes will vary but the operators will use the “North American Adventure Frequency” 146.580 MHz FM simplex for local contacts at some point during their activations. Please feel free to make contact with those operators, they will certainly appreciate adding you to their logs.

If you are interested in activating a peak, consult the map at SOTLAS and the Bobcat Fire closure map to find peaks in open areas of the Angeles National Forest. As with any voluntary wilderness activity, choose a peak well within your physical ability, consult weather and trail conditions, take appropriate water/food/clothing/equipment, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

You can use the Contact Us page of our site to let me know if you plan to participate (activator or chaser), and I’ll make sure we listen for your call sign and maybe even arrange some summit-to-summit contacts.

Be safe and have fun,
Richard Besocke, KI6ZKM
SPARC President

To inspire your own SOTA adventures, below is a report from SPARC member Jose Gonzalez KM6PFM about activating Mt. Langley in the Sierras last weekend. Langley is a 14,000’+ peak neat Mt. Whitney and is quite an accomplishment.

A lot busier area than I had envisioned. For some reason I thought people would be elsewhere. Boy was I wrong. Arrived at sundown. Horseshoe Meadow is in the thin air — 10,000ish feet. [The area] has to offer, yes, horses. I overheard a little boy say, “Boy, these horses are loud!” lol… Camp full, luckily scored a parking spot. My hiking group wanted to get all 22ish miles done in a day and rest back at Horseshoe Meadow. So at 4am the next morning with views of the Milky Way overhead, we headed out. Cottonwood Lakes were awesome with the sunrise. Old Army Pass was a bear in the searing sun (take more water than you think if you come out). Up on the pass at 12,000 feet, found some bighorn sheep roaming. Followed the Jenga-style cairns on the way to the summit. Some clouds rolled in, and it started snowing a bit. The rocks get larger, and the ground gets sandier. Made it to the summit, and after a few pics, it started raining under partially-cloudy skies. Lots of blue sky still and thankfully no thunder or lightning.

Jose KM6PFM at the summit of Mt. Langley

Quickly assembled my Yagi in the rain and got to it. Tried to self spot with SOTA Goat, but I guess the signal bars on my phone were just there for decoration because it wouldn’t establish the link, lol. Made a few local contacts in Bishop area then aimed the Yagi south. Very happy to reach ~280km away to W6/CT-013 Keller Peak where W6MHS, KJ6IJT, KM6WCO [thanks for spotting me!], and KE6PLA had set up to try and catch me. Some raw video is linked below. I don’t normally get to hear myself on the other side of the QSO, so that was cool. I was only active about 10-15min then had to pack it up due to increasing rain/snow and friends clamoring for me to hurry up ?. Made it back down and enjoyed a nice evening at camp. Grateful for no nausea or altitude sickness Could have benefitted from another day at camp — blood oxygen levels ranged from a low of 82% on arrival day to 85-93% on summit day. All in all, another memorable activation!

Get Your Kicks on Route 66 on the Air 2020

The Citrus Belt Amateur Radio Club, W6JBT, will host its annual Route 66 on the Air special event from Saturday, September 12 through Sunday, September 20. For the duration of the event, radio clubs using special 1×1 call signs will operate from locations along “the Mother Road.” The western-most station will be W6A in Santa Monica, run by the Westside Amateur Radio Club. The eastern-most station will be W6U in Wilmington, Illinois run by the Wilmington Area ARC.

South Pasadena is proud of its connection to Route 66, so this event is an exciting combination of radio and local history.

Route 66 stencil event on Fair Oaks Avenue in March, 2017. Photo credit: South Pasadena Review

According to the CBARC website, participating stations are likely to be found in the vicinity of the following frequencies:

Hz

80M

40M

30M

20M

17M

15M

12M

10M

6M

CW

3.533

7.033

10.110

14.033

18.080

21.033

24.900

28.033

50.033

SSB

3.866

7.266

N/A

14.266

18.164

21.366

24.966

28.466

50.166

DIGI.

3.573

7.074

10.136

14.074

18.100

21.074

24.915

28.074

N/A

ALL frequencies shown above can be +/-  due to QRM and other in use conditions

CBARC states that this is the twenty-first year of the event.

Originally started by the Northern Arizona DX Association, it was a way to allow amateur radio operators a fun way to “Relive the Ride.” They also can relive their own memories of Route 66, and get to celebrate the highway’s rich history in making the U.S. what it is today.

Full information is available from CBARC on their site. And for some added inspiration to get on the air, take a look at the Westside ARC’s archive of Route 66 QSL cards.

Spring Sprint 2020 Results

Dear SPARC Members and Friends,
 
The SPARC VHF/UHF Spring Sprint had operators making contacts on the 144, 220, and 440 MHz bands using both FM and SSB. Seven logs were submitted before the deadline, and the top three results are as follows:

  1. Paul, N6LL 15 total contacts (7 unique, 3 bands)
  2. John, AC6VV 14 total contacts (7 unique, 2 bands, 2 modes)
  3. Jeff, W2JCL 12 total contacts (9 unique, 2 bands)


Congratulations to our top finishers and thank you to all who participated. We will certainly do this again soon.

Rick, KI6ZKM

Participate in SPARC’s VHF and Up Sprint Contest on May 6

In lieu of our May monthly meeting, SPARC will hold its first-ever contest, a VHF and Up Sprint.

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 from 1930 to 2000 PDT. 

The goal of this informal contest is for participants to make as many VHF/UHF simplex contacts as possible in thirty minutes. All modes and VHF/UHF bands are allowed, but please be sure to follow band plans, use established simplex frequencies, and listen before transmitting. A few recognized southern California FM simplex frequencies are: 145.600, 146.520, 146.550, 223.500, and 446.000. Spotting and coordinating with others is permitted and encouraged. No prizes will be awarded, but the top scores will be recognized and posted to SouthPasRadio.org . 

Rules:

  1. The contest will be held on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 from 1930 to 2000 PDT. 
  2. The contest is open to any licensed amateur radio operator.
  3. Only amateur frequencies from 144 MHz and up are allowed.
  4. All modes are allowed, but contacts using repeaters or satellites are not permitted.
  5. The exchange is call sign and signal report (RST).
  6. Participants will keep a log of contacts.
  7. Participants will email only the number of contacts made to contest@southpasradio.org by no later than 2030 PDT. Operators with top scores may be asked to submit logs for confirmation. 
  8. Scores will be announced by 2100 PDT via email.      

Hope to hear you on the air on May 6.

Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM
President, South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club

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.