Build an Antenna with SPARC on 2/1

Dear Friends,

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 (president@southpasradio.org) 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.

PS: Don’t forget about our Winter Field Day operating event, also at Eddie Park, on January 28.

December 2022 Meeting: See You at the Canoe House

Dear SPARC members and friends,

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.

Thank you,
Rick Besocke, KI6ZKM
SPARC President

November 2022 Meeting: In-Person Meetings Have Resumed

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!

Photo credit: Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

September 2022 Meeting: Radio and the AC 100

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.

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

July 2022 Meeting: Going Mobile with Allen Wolff, KC7O

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’s mobile installation as featured in a 1974 issue of QST Magazine.
Allen Wolff, KC7O

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!

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!

May 2022 Meeting: Lessons from Baker to Vegas

At our May 4 membership meeting, Jeff Liter, W2JCL, presented a recap of ARES LAX Northeast’s deployment to the annual Baker to Vegas relay race. Each year, a dedicated team of volunteer operators from Northeast maintains a checkpoint along the race route. Below are a few of the pictures that Jeff shared.

The lunar landscape of the Baker to Vegas race.
A portable mesh kit for WiFi speed on the go.
This station monitors activity via cameras on the mesh network.
Robert, K6YZF, operates at Stage 8 of the race.
Baker to Vegas has a fun, positive energy despite (or maybe because of!) the difficult conditions.
The ARES LAX Northeast team takes a meal break.
The camp site at night.

April 2022 Meeting: The History of TELCO

On Wednesday, April 6, SPARC welcomed Bill Westphal, WB6YPF, the trustee of one of our area’s most important ham radio resources, the TELCO repeater in Pasadena.

TELCO, W6MPH, was originally installed by the amateur radio club of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company (hence the name). Bill joined the phone company right out of high school in 1969, and he has been carefully maintaining the repeater since 1992. In 2017, the Pasadena Radio Club stepped forward to contribute funds for the repeater’s continued operation. PacTel may be gone, but the legacy of its radio club is in good hands.

Bill gave a brief history of repairs and upgrades he has made to TELCO over the years. The most important recent repair to TELCO had nothing to do with the repeater itself – a microwave antenna located on the same roof as TELCO was leaking signal and causing interference. After grounding the offending equipment, the noise is gone and TELCO sounds great once again. Bill also revealed the origin of the station identification, “Welcome to the D Light Full W6MPH repeater.” The digital ID system doesn’t include the word “delightful,” so Bill programed it to say the word phonetically. For a time, Bill connected a PC to the repeater that would read “A Visit from St. Nicholas” on Christmas Eve.

TELCO’s current configuration. Its output power is 30 Watts. The small grey box with the dial is an exciter driver built by Allen Wolff KC7O.
Two rows of duplexers separate the input frequency (bottom) from the output frequency (top).

Bill recommends that anyone looking for more information on repeaters should check out the Repeater Builders web site and their associated Groups.io page.

SPARC thanks Bill for the evening of local radio history and for his many years of service to the ham community.

March 2022 Meeting: The Hunt Is On

On Wednesday, March 2, SPARC welcomed Scott Bovitz, N6MI and Bill Hacker, WB6MGT as they presented “Transmitter Hunting: How to Drive Yourself Crazy, Hunt Sometimes-Hidden Signals and Still Have Fun on a Weekend!”

Both Scott and Bill have been licensed operators since 1969, and of all the aspects of the hobby, t-hunting is the one they are most passionate about. Scott explained that the best way to think of t-hunting (also known as fox hunting) is “electronic hide and seek.” Scott and Bill have been on day-long hunts that have taken them throughout Southern California, into Arizona and Nevada, and as far as St. George, Utah. The image above shows a gathering of t-hunters earlier this year in Palm Springs.

A tiny transmitter, or “fox box,” made from an Altoids tin. This model of transmitter is a fun DIY project and the perfect size for a t-hunt in a park.

All it takes to get started in t-hunting is a handheld and, ideally, a four-element Yagi antenna. Scott’s mobile station is far more elaborate, based on an Icom 7100 and a sturdy antenna mast that slides in through the roof of his car. Hidden transmitters broadcast a beacon signal on 146.565 simplex, the nationally-coordinated t-hunt frequency. Typically, when a hunter finds the transmitter, there is a sign-in sheet for logging call signs, mileage driven, and the time. There are usually no prizes, just bragging rights.

Here are a few links that Scott shared for those who’d like to explore t-hunting:

Southern California Transmitter Hunters (greater LA)
Southern California Transmitter Hunters (San Diego area)
Homing In, a site maintained by Joe Moell, K0OV
Will Burt, a commercial source for industrial-grade masts
Byonics, manufacturers of pre-built transmitters

Scott on the cover of 73 magazine in 1988

SPARC thanks Scott and Bill for a funny and inspiring evening. Happy hunting!