Monthly Meetings Temporarily Suspended

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, SPARC is temporarily suspending monthly in-person meetings. This is part of a community-based effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Please note that our regular meeting location, the Emergency Operations Center at the South Pasadena Fire Department, will not be accessible to the public.

Effective Monday, March 16, all city facilities will be temporarily closed to members of the public except for public meetings of the City Council, the Cultural Heritage Commission, Planning Commission and Design Review Board, which will continue to meet to ensure the approval of projects move forward as required by law.

City of South Pasadena

We will continue to hold our weekly on-air nets on Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm. We will announce any additional club activities (on-air or online) via email and this website.

Click here for more information on the city’s response to COVID-19.

Follow the LA County Public Health Department on Twitter.

Oliver Dully, K6OLI, District Emergency Coordinator for ARES LAX Northeast, suggests the following activities for radio operators looking to sharpen their skills while “social distancing”:

– Take FEMA online courses 
– Complete the ARRL’s online introduction to emergency communication, EC-001 
– Use Winlink more regularly
– Improve your map reading skills: https://www.maptools.com/videos and https://www.maptools.com/tutorials
– Play with HF

On behalf of SPARC, stay safe and healthy, everyone!

March Meeting Wrap-Up: All About 220

SPARC welcomed ARRL LAX Section Manager Diana Feinberg AI6DF to our monthly meeting on March 4. Diana spoke about recent leadership changes at ARRL headquarters and gave a presentation about the state of “220,” a lesser-used VHF band. Our amateur privleges on the band are between 222 MHz and 225 MHz, but we refer to the band colloquially as 220.

One of the radios discussed in the presentation.

Diana has graciously offered to share the presentation on our site. It can be downloaded here (581 kb PDF).

Presentation on the 220 Band by Diana Feinberg AI6DF
Click to download the presentation.

SPARC thanks Diana for her expertise and perspective. Several attendees left the meeting inspired to operate on 220 more often.

February 2020 Meeting: Adventures in FT8

At our February 2020 meeting, Frank O’Donnell, K6FOD presented “Adventures in FT8,” an introduction to the popular digital mode. Frank received his technician and general ham licenses two years ago, and within nine months earned the ARRL’s DXCC award for verifying contacts with 100 countries — all on FT8.

In 2019, he received the Southern California DX Club’s Clipperton Award for newcomer of the year. He has verified 143 countries, has earned Worked All States certificates on two bands, and he is completing a third, also using FT8. Currently, he is experimenting with digital modes on the new 630-meter band below the AM broadcast band.

A selection of QSL cards Frank has received.

The following are links that Frank discussed during his presentation.

WSJT-X Homepage
In order to use FT8, you must install WSJT-X on a computer and set up your radio to be controlled by the computer. WSJT-X was written by Joe Taylor, K1JT. It runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux (including on a Raspberry Pi).

WSJTX@groups.io
An active user community that discusses WSJT-X.

Frank explains all the fields in WSJT-X.

Maidenhead Grid Square Locator Map
You’ll need to know your grid square when setting up WSTJ-X.

Time.is and Meinberg NTP Software Downloads
These are tools to make sure your computer’s internal clock is accurate. If your clock is off by more than one second, you will not be able to decode incoming FT8 signals correctly.

The Daily DX Newsletter and ARRL DX Bulletin
Two useful emails covering propagation conditions.

PSK Info: Digimode Automatic Propagation Reporter
A map of beacons and signal reports in near real-time. Useful for seeing who can receive your FT8 signal.

eQSL and Club Log
Two sites for confirming your contacts.

Our next meeting will take place Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 pm in the South Pasadena Fire Department EOC at 817 Mound Ave. Our guest will be ARRL Los Angeles Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF, speaking about the 220 MHz band.

Frank K6FOD will return in April to demonstrate FT8 with a portable station. Hope to see you there. 

January 2020 Meeting Wrap-up

SPARC held its first monthly meeting of 2020 on January 8. In February, we will resume our normal schedule of meeting on the first Wednesday of the month (7:30 pm at the SP Fire Department, 817 Mound Avenue).

Newly-elected SPARC President Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM led a roundtable discussion of members’ radio goals for the year. Rick shared his experience taking a SOTA hike on Barber Benchmark in the Mojave National Preserve during which he made a contact in Washington State on 20m.

Some housekeeping matters followed. It’s time to pay dues for 2020. Dues remain $20 per household and can be paid via cash, check or PayPal. If your contact information has changed, please fill out a new membership form and email it treasurer@southpasradio.org.

We have six SPARC T-shirts left, all in size XL. Email treasurer@southpasradio.org to purchase one. We will print another run in more sizes as needed.

Bob Vanderwall, WB6YJJ is developing a training schedule to teach club members how to run net control from the Emergency Operations Center using the city’s new Kenwood D710GA. Full details to follow. Our goal is to expand the number of net control operators and get all of them comfortable with the Kenwood.

SPARC’s executive board has accepted the Pasadena Radio Club’s invitation to once again manage a Get on the Air (GOTA) station at Field Day. The dates this year are June 27-28.

Next, we watched the trailer for A High and Awful Price, a new documentary about the destruction of Paradise, CA during the Camp Fire of 2018. Several members who have seen the documentary urged everyone in attendance to watch it. What happened in Paradise is a sobering reminder of how quickly a disaster can overwhelm a community and how emergency plans must be flexible.

We concluded by announcing some upcoming volunteer opportunities:

Eliot Science Night — The Eliot Arts Magnet Academy Middle School in Altadena will host its annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Environment and Health Night on January 24. Both ALERT and PRC will have a presence. Email website@southpasradio.org for more information.

Firecracker Run/Ride — Chinatown’s annual run and bike ride event takes place Feburary 15-16. The 40-mile bike route cuts through the San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena. Radio operators are needed for follow vehicles and net control. Email volunteers@firecracker10k.org.

LA Marathon — This year’s Los Angeles Marathon takes place March 8. If you’d like to help with communications, click here then click the blue “Sign Up To Volunteer” box, and in the next screen click Volunteer Shift “G1- Radio Operators” and fill out the form. Follow-up information will come from Greg Powell, KD6AIS, who is the Marathon’s amateur radio coordinator.

Hope to hear you on the air or see you at our February meeting.

November Meeting Wrap-Up: Configuring Winlink

At our November 6 meeting, Jeff, W2JCL presented “Using Winlink for Emergency Communications.” This was the second in a planned series of discussions and workshops which will develop members’ skills in these useful communication techniques. Jeff’s focus was installing and configuring the Winlink email program on a Windows laptop. Click here or on the image below to download Jeff’s presentation as a PDF.

One of Winlink’s time-saving features is a collection of templates used to share damage assesments and situation reports with hospitals and served agencies. Jeff has built a custom template matching the city of South Pasadena’s preferred damage assesment format. Click here to download that template plus ARES Northeast “quick check-in” and “quick check-out” templates. Then, save the files under:

C:\RMS Express\Global Folders\Templates

To use the ARES check-in and check-out templates, customize them with your personal information. However, items in brackets such as <CALLSIGN> are completed automatically by Winlink, so they should not be edited.

Below are links from the last page of Jeff’s presentation where you can download the necessary software to start becoming a Winlink expert. (Version numbers current as of 11/6/19.)

Winlink – version 1.5.25.0
https://downloads.winlink.org/User Programs/

Soundmodem – version 1.05
http://uz7.ho.ua/packetradio.htm

VARA FM version 1.2.9 and VARA HF version 3.0.4
https://rosmodem.wordpress.com/

Click here for part one of the presentation (176 kB PDF).

October Meeting Wrap-Up: Digital Mode Training Begins

At our October 2 meeting, SPARC president Stan, KR6CV and SPARC treasurer Bob, WB6YJJ reported on the club’s sale of radio equipment from the estate of founding SPARC member Tim Cox, WA0PTC. Funds from the sale are being set aside to fund the purchase of a dedicated SPARC repeater. 

Bob and Rick, KI6ZKM discussed our demonstration of the new city-owned amateur station during the ARRL September VHF Contest. We logged twenty-three contacts over approximately four hours.

In recognition of September being National Preparedness Month and October’s upcoming Great Shakeout, Stan led a discussion of home preparedness best practices. Several members and guests shared ideas and experiences, and there was an informal show-and-tell of radio go kits.

The main topic of the meeting was a presentation by Jeff, W2JCL entitled “Digital Modes for Emergency Communications.” This was the first in a planned series of discussions and workshops which will develop members’ skills in these useful communication techniques. Jeff demonstrated the Winlink email program by exchanging messages with Oliver, K6OLI and Mike, KM6KAQ. Click here or on the image below to download Jeff’s presentation as a PDF. The last page includes links to further information and software downloads.

Click to download (176 kB PDF)

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

Location Change: June Meeting Held at Kaiser Permanente

The South Pasadena EOC is unavailable for our June 5, 2019 meeting, so we will meet at the Walnut Center location of Kaiser Permanente: 393 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena. This is the long-time location of monthly PRC meetings. Enter at the public/visitor entrance at the southern end of the parking structure on Los Robles Ave, just north of Walnut Street and meet in Room 1E (corrected on 05/26/19it’s room 1E not 1D) on the first floor of the building. Parking is complimentary. SPARC thanks Kaiser for generously providing its space.

See you there on June 5.

Explore the Challenges of the AC100 Race at Our March Meeting

The South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club (W6SPR) is proud to present “Amateur Radio at the AC100: Lifeline for one of the Most Challenging Endurance Races in the World!”
featuring
John AC6VV, Assistant Director of the AC100 and Director of AC100 Amateur Radio Operations
and
Doug WA6IFY, Cloudburst Checkpoint Amateur Radio Communications Leader

Photo courtesy of and copyright Rick KK6EUH

John AC6VV is Assistant Director of the AC100 and Director for Amateur Radio Communications. He organizes and manages all Amateur Radio Communications at AC100 and will share the challenges, anecdotes and rewarding nature of radio communications at AC100!

Doug WA6IFY is Cloudburst Checkpoint Station Communications Leader. He organizes and manages the ALERT communications team at Cloudburst checkpoint, a remote location deep in the Los Angeles Forest, where Amateur Radio and Satcomm are the only means of communications. Doug will talk about the ins-and-outs of running communications at a checkpoint, the challenges that operating remotely present and the fun operators have during the race!

Like many races, the AC100 requires Amateur Radio Operators work off-grid, address challenges on the fly and excel at team work, just like they would during a disaster deployment.

Supporting the AC100 is one of the most rewarding and fun Amateur Radio activities the L.A. area has to offer. Join John, Doug and SPARC for an evening of fun and anecdotes, and learn more about AC100.

When:
Wednesday, March 6, 7:30 PM
Where:
South Pasadena Fire Station EOC
817 Mound Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030
Who:
All interested Amateur Radio Enthusiasts

See you there!

73,
Oliver K6OLI

Meeting Change for December 5

Dear members and friends of SPARC,

Unfortunately, the EOC room at the South Pasadena Fire Department is still under construction.  The SPARC board has therefore decided to officially cancel our regular meeting tomorrow, Wednesday December 5.


Unofficially some of us are getting together tomorrow at Canoe House to talk radios, reminisce about the many fun events we have had in 2018 and enjoy each other’s company.  You are welcome to join us at Canoe House ( goo.gl/maps/DxfQWuetdRo ) from 19:30 onwards!

73,

Stan KR6CV
President
and the executive board of SPARC