Participate in the Great Shakeout with Winlink on October 19, 2023

September is National Preparedness Month, so now is a great opportunity to get ready for the Great Shakeout, the world’s largest earthquake preparedness exercise. SPARC member, and ARES LAX Northeast District Emergency Coordinator, Oliver Dully, K6OLI has written a guide to using Winlink’s built-in “Did You Feel It?” form during the Shakeout.

Send Winlink DYFI (“Did-you-feel-it?”) Exercise reports with your group. We encourage you to send reports with Modified Mercalli Intensity V (5) or greater.

Step-by-Step Winlink USGS DYFI Instructions
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Exercise Youtube Video
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Exercise Instructions (Downloadable)
=> Winlink USGS DYFI Example Report with point-by-point answers indicating an earthquake with Modified Mercalli Intensity V. If you have never experienced an earthquake you may use the example answers (or make up your own).

Read Oliver’s full article here. Preparedness will be the topic of our next monthly membership meeting on October 4.

September 2023 Meeting: Checking in with Winlink

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.

Slide from Jeff, W2JCL’s presentation

Anyone interested in learning about Winlink should visit the official site at More resources are linked on our Winlink project page, and you can read an earlier presentation from Jeff here (274 KB PDF).

August 2023 Meeting: T-Hunting Practice with Bill Hacker, WB6MGT

Bill Hacker, WB6MGT with his t-hunting beam antenna

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!

Tuning in to 146.565 MHz
It must be this way…
Closing in on the fox box
Transmitter waiting to be found in a bush
Two MicroFox transmitters made by Byonics

Resources 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

Festival of Balloons 2023

SPARC members ready to march on July 4, 2023

SPARC was proud to march in South Pasadena’s annual July 4th parade and reconnect with friends from across the community. Our thanks go out to the Festival planning committee for hosting another fantastic celebration.

Pictures from the June VHF Contest 2023

Members and friends of the South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club gathered in Eddie Park on June 10 for the annual ARRL June VHF Contest. Propagation conditions varied over the course of several hours, and most of our contacts were located in LA or Orange counties. We were happy to be ambassadors for the hobby to several passersby, and we discussed the city’s emergency preparedness plans with a representative from the South Pasadena police department. We look forward to the next opportunity to get on the air together and share our expertise.

Our contest site in Eddie Park

Photos courtesy of John, AC6VV and Carol, KE6SRN.

March 2023 Meeting: Learning CW with Jim Marr, AA6QI

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. 

Why Learn CW? from Jim Marr, AA6QI's presentation

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.

A slide explaining the fundamentals of CW spacing and speed

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:

Koch Trainer app for iOS and Mac

G4FON Koch app for Windows, a daily challenge inspired by Wordle

The FISTS CW club

Learn CW Online

Many HF rigs include an internal CW keyer, but some operators may prefer an external device such as a WinKeyer-compatible kit sold by K1EL. 

SPARC thanks Jim for his comprehensive guide to radio’s most famous mode.

Constructing a 2 Meter Tape Measure Antenna

Inserting the tape measure segments

At our February 2023 membership meeting, the South Pasadena Amateur Radio Club organized a group building project. We constructed 2 meter tape measure antennas ideal for radio direction finding or “t-hunting.” The club provided a kit of necessary parts to all dues-paying members who wished to participate.

The project was led by Bob WB6YJJ, Rick KI6ZKM, and Stan KR6CV, who provided instruction and assistance as members assembled the antennas. The process involved measuring and cutting tape measure segments to the correct length, assembling a frame from PVC pipe sections, then soldering the components of the driven element (the part of the antenna that radiates).

There are various plans for similar tape measure beam antennas, or “cheap Yagis,” available on the Internet. Here is the schematic for the one we built, designed by Joe Leggio WB2HOL:


Visit Joe’s page linked above or this re-post for a full explanation of how the antenna works and instructions for building one.

Below are photos of all the steps in the building process, courtesy of Robert K6YZF, Stan KR6CV, and John KK6ZVQ.

Demonstrating the tape measure antenna
Bob Vanderwall, WB6YJJ demonstrates the 2 meter tape measure Yagi for the builders.
Template sticks for PVC and tape measure
“Story stick” templates for cutting the PVC pipe and tape measure segments.

PVC cutter
Once the PVC segments have been measured and marked, they are cut with a pair of ratcheting PVC cutters.
Cutting tape measure segments
The tape measure segments can be cut with a pair of tin snips or heavy duty scissors.

Sanded tape measure
The center pair of tape measure segments form the antenna’s driven element. In order to create an electrical connection, you must sand off some of the yellow paint on those segments.
Inserting the tape measure segments
Inserting the tape measure segments into the PVC frame.
Splitting the coax
Splitting the antenna’s coaxial cable is necessary to expose the pieces that get soldered to the central tape measure segments.
Coax error
Stripping coax is a delicate operation. Apply too much pressure, and you may end up with useless bits.

Soldering close-up
A close view of the soldering step.
K6XIX solders the central tape measure sections to form the driven element.
Soldering station
The two halves of the driven element are connected by a U-shaped wire.
Soldering the driven element’s components
Bob WB6YJJ solders the driven element’s components.
The wire choke
Five turns of the coax cable around the PVC frame form a common mode choke.
W9LBC and WB6YJJ discuss how to optimize the antenna’s performance.
Finished antennas
Three completed tape measure beams.
Once completed, the antennas were tested with an antenna analyzer or a NanoVNA, above, to measure their SWR.

This building activity was a welcome return to hands-on projects at our meetings, and we look forward to hosting more in the future.

Pictures from Winter Field Day 2023

Thank you to everyone who dropped by Eddie Park to hang out and make contacts on Winter Field Day! SPARC members and friends operated with the club call sign W6SPR and a “Two Oscar” class designation, meaning two simultaneous transmitters. Highlights of the afternoon included a visit from YouTube/TikTok personality Natalie NW6S (aka the Glam Ham), and one visitor making his first-ever HF contact. We hope to see you at our next “SPARC in the Park” opportunity!

Build an Antenna with SPARC on 2/1

2m tape measure Yagi

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 ( 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

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.