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.
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).
SPARC welcomed Bill Hacker, WB6MGT to our August meeting for a presentation on his experiences as a transmitter hunter. Bill began t-hunting in 1970 in Simi Valley using a Yagi antenna made out of coat hangers and tied to the mirror of a 1958 VW van. He’s upgraded his equipment since then as you can see in the above picture of Bill and his current professional-grade Yagi. For much of Bill’s t-hunting career, he has partnered with his college roommate Doug, WA6RJN. Bill’s longest hunt required locating a transmitter in Barstow, California; one near Las Vegas; one along the 15 freeway in Arizona; and the main transmitter in Saint George, Utah. Bill has worked in IT at USC for over twenty years and serves as net control for USC’s Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Team. He last spoke to SPARC at our March, 2022 meeting.
After his presentation, Bill led a practice t-hunt in Eddie Park. SPARC members got a chance to use their tape measure Yagis and signal attenuators to locate a transmitter stashed out of sight. Below are some pictures of the hunt in progress.
SPARC thanks Bill for a fun and informative evening!
At SPARC’s April, May, and June meetings, we continued working with the tape measure beam antennas we constructed in February. At the April meeting, we tuned the antennas to make sure they resonated at 146.565 MHz, the local t-hunting frequency. By adjusting the spacing of the steel elements, we made sure each antenna was ready to hear a hidden transmitter.
At the May and June meetings, we constructed an attenuator kit to pair with the antennas. Stan, KR6CV arranged a group purchase of kits from KC9ON. The V7 kit provides 4 MHz of signal attenuation. KC9ON explains how that helps:
When you’re closing in on the fox [the hidden transmitter] you may find the signals to be strong enough you can no longer find a peak or null with your antenna. Sometimes the signal is so strong that the RF will leak straight into the radio, connections and other equipment making the antenna useless. The solution is to use an offset attenuator. The circuit consists of a small RF generator, in this case 4 MHz, which will mix with the incoming fox signal (such as 146.52 MHz) and produce new signals at plus and minus the fox signal (142.52 MHz and 150.52 MHz). A potentiometer on the board changes the injection level of the RF generator which in turn attenuates the incoming mixed signal to your radio to a level where tracking can continue.
At our March, 2023 member meeting, Jim Marr, AA6QI presented “CW – The Why and the How.” Sending Morse code over CW is the oldest radio transmission mode, but it remains useful today. CW isn’t merely a nostalgic throwback. Jim explained that while digital modes like FT8 and JT65 may be more efficient, they can only exchange limited information. CW is “totally unstructured” with no limits on what knowledgable operators can communicate.
Learning CW continues to be a badge of honor for hams, as expressed on the shirt seen here on Jim’s introductory slide.
In his teen years, Jim practiced his code skills by transcribing stories from the daily newspaper. As his proficiency increased, the practice of sending and receiving CW became more enjoyable. “You like to do what you’re good at, and you’re good at what you do a lot,” Jim observed.
Jim recommended that anyone interested in learning CW should explore the two most popular training methods, Farnsworth and Koch, and see which one feels more natural. Some online resources include:
Happy New Year to everyone! I hope it will be a good “radio” year for all.
I would like to announce that SPARC will host an antenna building session at our February member meeting – Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. Specifically, we will construct tape measure antennas for 2m. The materials will be free of charge to SPARC members. If you are not a member, for the price of membership ($20) you too can participate. As a bonus, you will become a SPARC member for one year! Please join us for a fun and convivial meeting, even if you just want to observe the proceedings. All are welcome!
If you are interested in participating, please email me (email@example.com) by Wednesday 1/18. We need to get a head count to purchase enough materials for the build.
Thanks in advance and hope to see you soon,
Stan KR6CV President SPARC
WHAT: 2m tape measure antenna build WHEN: Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. WHERE: Eddie Park House, 2017 Edgewood Dr., South Pasadena, CA 91030
The photo above is an example only. Our antenna will not look exactly like that one. Photo via Wikimedia and Texas ARDF.
The South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club will meet in person for a holiday social gathering on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 7:30 PM at the Canoe House restaurant located at 805 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena, CA 91030. The return of this event is cause for celebration so please spread the word and join us for an evening of good cheer in the company of our amateur radio family.
It’s official: The South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club has resumed in-person monthly meetings. The timing remains the same, the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m., but our location has changed. As of October, we are now meeting at the Eddie Park House at 2017 Edgewood Drive, South Pasadena, CA 91030. SPARC would like to thank the City of South Pasadena for their help in securing this new venue. We look forward to increasing the scope and ambition of our monthly meetings now that we can once again meet offline. Eyeball QSOs are back, and we hope to see you soon!
At our September meeting, SPARC member John Minger, AC6VV gave a presentation on the radio tools he uses to support the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. As the ham radio coordinator for the AC 100, John oversees a mix of analog and digital equipment that tracks the location and safety of the runners. Below is a selection of John’s slides which gives a sense of the scale of this annual event in our local mountains. If you’re interested in volunteering to help the AC 100, visit the official web site. SPARC thanks John for this informative and exciting look at operating under difficult conditions.
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.
Allen Wolff, KC7O, joined us at our July 6 membership meeting to present “Diplexers, Triplexers, and the Low-Profile Mobile.” Using pictures and diagrams of his own mobile installations, Allen described his methods of integrating radios into a modern car to achieve a stealthy, clean interior with low-profile equipment. All of the radios in his cars were cleverly tucked away yet readily usable (unlike in the porcupine of a car pictured above). He illustrated the “old” days and the improvements made as well as the difficulties integrating radios into modern cars including modern battery systems and safely grounding radio equipment. Allen’s installations are possible thanks to diplexers and triplexers along with multiband antennas. He also discussed the difference between diplexers and duplexers.
Allen has been licensed since 1964 and lived in New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Utah, and has been in California since 1984. He earned his First-Class Radio Telephone License in 1974 and is a retired aerospace electrical engineer. SPARC thanks Allen for another impressive and inspirational talk!