Here’s The Chawed Rag for March 2022. Let me know what you think (good or bad) and what else you would like to see in the CR. Also, we always need your content so snap some pics of your latest tinkering or if you have seen something that has really helped you in ham radio, send it this way. – KD4C
Greetings RWK and I hope we are finally done with the cold and headed into spring!
It’s antenna month – April – so it’s time to spruce up your existing antennas and check for winter damage, or maybe you need to add to the farm (my current project) to improve your contact-making abilities. Well, get to it! If you’re looking for a unique but effective antenna concept, look no further than the “slot” antenna. Our April meeting presenter will shed some light on this interesting type of antenna (hint: it works like a dipole!).
On a more serious note, recently we had another bout of malicious interference on our 147.12 repeater. Without going into specifics, I want to remind everyone what you should do if/when this happens. 1) Do not acknowledge the interferer! Don’t bait them or make snide comments. Don’t talk about them at all. If you were in a QSO, then just sign off and turn the channel. They want attention – if they don’t get any, they will get bored and go away – DON’T GIVE THEM ANY ATTENTION AT ALL. 2) Note the date and time of the interference and send a note to myself and/or KE5GDB. We can review the recordings (yes, there are recordings) to see if we can learn anything. 3) If the interference is persistent, send a note on groups.io to alert the foxhunters. If it persists 20-30 minutes (which it likely will not if you follow #1), we may have time to get hunting. You can also listen to the repeater input and let us know the signal strength from your location. 4) REPEAT – Do Not acknowledge them! If it makes you mad, just QSY or QRT.
On a lighter note, we’ve been having “pre-pandemic level” crowds at our Wednesday Hungry Hams Lunches at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ on Campbell. Please join us for some good food and some interesting radio talk!
I want to remind everyone again of the Learn CW Program. Those licensed after 2007 never had to learn CW to get their license. This is a great opportunity to learn CW at your own pace, from qualified instructors, and in a fun and non-threatening environment. If you have interest, now’s the time to join the dozen or so in RWK that are already learning!
And finally (insert broken record sound here) please share any interesting ham-related stuff you’ve been doing with the club. Doesn’t matter how raw or badly written, we’ll make you look good and help you show off what you’ve been doing. With over 300 members, if everyone in the klub sent just one contribution to the Chawed Rag each year, we would have plenty of content for each issue.
Thanks for being a RWK Member! – 73 de KD4C
Return to Hybrid In-person/Zoom Meetings in April!
Based on the latest pandemic status in the area and the reduction of Dallas county requirements, we have decided to return to “hybrid” In-person / Zoom General Meetings starting with the April 2022 meeting. The Saint Barnabas health committee has reduced the physical requirements to “masks optional” for the church, so we no longer have to require masks for in-person attendance. Of course, you can wear one if you want, or you can watch from home on Zoom.
We will also continue to take advantage of bringing you the best presentations for the meetings – even if the presenter is not in person. There are some great presenters out there and we want to continue what we have had available for the last several months on our Zoom-only meetings. We will continue to do hybrid meetings for the foreseeable future, and we will also continue to record the meetings for later viewing on the RWK website.
Of course, I’m burying the lede here… Coffee and Cookies are Back!
Systems/Repeater Outage – April 2nd
We have been notified by the City of Richardson that there will be utilities work performed on the Palisades Building on Saturday April 2nd for most of the day. The City will be powering off all the infrastructure on the top of the building and we will have several systems affected, notably:
- The backup 147.12 repeater will be operational (reduced coverage, no parrot tests, limited voice messages)
- The Fusion repeater 444.725 will be unavailable
- The 900MHz repeater (927.025) and network will be unavailable
- Cameras and the NVR system will be unavailable
- The AREDN system will be unavailable (peripheral nodes will be up but unconnected)
- No ALLSTAR connections will be available to our repeaters or hub
- The 443.375 UHF Repeater and the 145.43 K5UTD Repeater should not be affected
- The Foxes will not be affected, so get out and hunt!
The scheduled time of the outage is from 6:30am – 7pm, although it may not take the full period. We will let you know via message when things are returned to normal.
Irving Hamfest for Fun & Profit!
We had a good time at the Irving Hamfest a few weekends ago. RWK bought a table and we hauled a bunch of stuff that we have accumulated over the last couple of years and sold a good bit of it! The fire sale of vintage test equipment sold very well. Next door, the RWK VE Team administered 8 exams and several happy hams left with upgrades and we had one new licensee. Thanks to all the VEs and people that manned the RWK table (those with a sharp eye can spot KD5OUG and W5SU in this pic).
RWK Groups.io Guidelines
By Chip Coker KD4C
Our Groups.io list is a great resource for the RWK! It’s a great way to learn new things and connect with other members, and even get some free stuff! However, as with any communication tool, it takes some knowledge to use it effectively and the best way for the RWK. Our list contains most (but not all) of the RWK members. Joining the RWK does not automatically add you to groups.io, and because the group is an open group, you can join our groups.io and not be a member of RWK. Because it’s a large list (over 350!), it can generate a lot of email traffic, and lots of traffic can make some people want to unsubscribe and leave the list. We want every message to be an important one, so that people feel that the list is valuable.
Here are some tips (and some things not to do) for our Groups.io mailing list:
- Message content should be limited to ham radio subjects and related technologies (things used for radio). Absolutely no off-subject posts (such as politics) are allowed.
- Please reply to the right place! If you want your reply to be read by anyone on the list, by all means reply to the groups.io message (the default response by hitting “reply” to the message). But if your reply is only to the sender of the message, use the “reply to sender” link (at the bottom of every message). If someone is offering something for free to the list, only one person needs to see your “I want it” response, so reply to just the sender please.
- Use hashtag filters to block subjects that you don’t want to see. Many repeat messages that are on the list are for a specific subject and will contain a hashtag (e.g. “#foxhunt” or “#dx”) in the subject line. If you don’t want to see our weekly Foxhunt messages, then block the “#foxhunt” subject (there’s a “mute #” link at the bottom of every message that has a subject hashtag). You’ll never see another foxhunt message, but the fox may have his feelings hurt.
- If the volume of messages is still too high, you can always change your message delivery settings to “daily summary”. You will get a single email every morning with a summary of the messages from the previous day. Of course, the free stuff will probably be gone by then…
With a little care and feeding, our Groups.io list can be a great resource for the RWK and won’t overload us all in email volume!
FCC Fees For Ham Licenses
From the ARRL: https://www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee
The new Amateur Radio license application fees mandated by the recent congressional actions will take effect at midnight (Eastern) on April 19, 2022. The Federal Communications Commission’s authority to impose and collect fees is mandated by Congress.
The $35 application fee, when it becomes effective on April 19, will apply to new, renewal, and vanity call sign applications. The fee will be per application.
Most License Modifications (such as license class upgrades) and Administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, will be exempt from fees.
The process for new amateur radio exams:
When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC and assigns a file number to the application, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have 10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. The applicant must log into the FCC CORES system and pay the required application fee with a Credit Card (the only payment method accepted). After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed the application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license. The link will be good for 30 days.
If the fee is not paid (or not paid within 10 calendar days), then the FCC will dismiss the application without prejudice (which means the applicant can reapply). CSCE credit is good for 365 days, so no-retest would be necessary, but there would be some process (currently TBD) to reapply and start another 10 day payment period.
Notably, for vanity call applications:
Additionally, the FCC stated that applications processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign.
Why Should I Join/Renew My ARRL Membership?
By Chip Coker KD4C
Recently I was asked by a Klub Member “My ARRL Membership is expiring and I’m wondering if I should renew it. I just don’t see what it’s doing for me.” I’m sure that many members may have similar thoughts.
Here is a summary of my response:
RWK Learn CW Program Update
By David Nathanson K5CU
We’re underway with the first part of our Learn CW Program. We have a dozen or so that have started their B1 (first 20 characters) classes. If you missed our RWK February Meeting “How to learn and have fun with Morse Code”, you can watch it here. The Long Island CW Club guys know how to do it so that you will be successful.
The Long Island CW Club is up to around 2700 members and they are adding classes every week, so you can probably find a Beginners 1 class any day/night of the week to make it convenient for you. It’s not too late to get on board!
For full details on how our RWK program is going to work (and to register with the LICW), please go to our special page on the RWK Website: https://www.k5rwk.org/learn-cw/. Hopefully, by summer we should have a new crop of CW ops!
Using Nano VNAs – Antennas
By Mike Jahrig KG5P
A lot of RWK hams have purchased NanoVNAs. I recently obtained myself, and have learned that it provides a wealth of information in the shack. If you are not familiar with this device I suggest you watch the video replay of the October 2021 RWK program by Alan Wolke W2AEW. Alan covers a lot of basic information so I won’t repeat anything in his excellent presentation.
In the next few issues of The Chawed Rag, I will perform the following functions with the NanoVNA:
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
ARRL NTX Mentorfest – Apr 2nd 8am – 2pm
Ten learning sessions and door prizes. To be held at the Denton EOC. (9060 Teasley Ln Denton). For more information: https://arrlntx.org/WP/learning-center/mentorfest-3/
Rookie Roundup – SSB – Sun Apr. 10th
An informal “contest” for newly-licensed hams (within the last three years). Always a lot of fun to QSO with these new hams. More info: http://www.arrl.org/rookie-roundup
RF Bits & Bytes
Need To Get An Antenna Up In A Tree?
Shawn KI5PXG has a suggestion…
“I was helping someone put up a wire antenna this weekend and decided to try a new elevation technique: using a dog ball launcher. Specifically, I used this one because it has a hole in the ball: https://www.amazon.com/Chuckit-Fetch-Fold-Ball-Launcher/dp/B08C3X6Y2F/
I also bought a few hundred feet of 40lb Trilene fishing wire from Wal-Mart for a few bucks. I threaded the fishing line through the hole in the ball and tied a few regular knots in it (sorry, I was neither a Boy Scout or in the Navy!) and put it in the launcher. I unspooled about 50′ of line and was able to very easily send the ball all the way over a 35′ tree the first time I launched the ball – I didn’t even have to swing the launcher very hard to do it! We chose to attach the wire end directly to the fishing line, but you could just as easily attach the fishing line to paracord and then the paracord to the antenna wire. That 40lb line was perfect and glided easily through the tree branches as I elevated the antenna and the 2 or 3 places it got a bit stuck (because we had a massive fishing weight at the end of the wire antenna), a firm pull on the fishing wire was all that was needed to get the antenna in the air. With a firmer swing, I have no doubt that I could send this over a tree about twice that height.
I was previously using a trial-and-error process of a softball/baseball with an eyebolt and paracord to do this, but then I thought, “There has to be a better way… and I don’t want to use a slingshot because I’m often a bit too close to houses.” I’m going to add this to my portable radio kit as it will allow me to string a much better temporary HF antenna when I travel. This would also be good for folks who want to try their hand at POTA but don’t really know how to get a decent antenna in the air.
I hope this helps you!”
73, Shawn KI5PXG
Update from Roy W5EEG: “use a soda straw to aid fishing the line through the ball”. Roy reports having very good success with the Chuckit!
Three Easy Wire 3 Cheap Wire Antennas for New Ham Radio Operators
The DX Commander shows how to build 3 easy and cheap antennas, that both new and old hams alike should “know how to build in their sleep”. It’s spring – antenna weather – so there’s no better time to try a new antenna or two!
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had Dale Finley presenting “Linux for the Ham Radio Operator”
If you missed last month’s RWK General Meeting, you can always watch the video available from the RWK website.
You can always view the RWK Calendar to see our monthly events.
RWK New Members
We have several new members for the month, including some new hams that our VE Team tested recently. If you hear them on our repeaters, please say hello.
Brian Murphy WB8QZM
Burton Williams KI5UFV
Mike Dooley N5BGZ
Mary Kate Kenworthy KI5TIC
Cole Cissell KI5GCS
Scott Bachman K5UHZ
RWK Membership – 345 Active Members
To check your renewal date and Renew your RWK Membership, go to https://www.hamclubonline.com/ and select Pay Club Dues from the menu.
RWK Hats Are Back!
We have a new supply of the popular RWK Hats. They are available at any Hungry Hams lunch or you can order from the website and we will mail it to you!
RWK holds at least one foxhunt every weekend and many weekends there are two foxes available to hunt. A monthly prize drawing is held for klub members that successfully find the fox.
You can always “watch” the hunt in real time by viewing the foxhunt logs:
To read more about foxhunts and learn some hunting tips, see our foxhunt page: https://www.k5rwk.org/foxhunt/
We always have a good group for our weekly Hungry Hams Lunches every Weds at noon at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ on Campbell at UTD. Why not join us?
Interested in Helping the Klub?
The Klub needs YOU! We are looking for members that want to help with the following:
- Website content updates
- Ham Activities (Field Day and Public Service events)
- New Ham Coordinator
- Foxhunt Data
Contact KD4C for more information.
The Klub has a few ham assets available for sale to Klub members at a deep discount. Please email email@example.com if interested. Have something to sell? Send a short description, photo, and offer price to us.
J-38 Straight Key – $40
Vintage J-38 Straight key on solid base with shorting bar and cable. Great key for learning CW.
Kenwood SM-220 Station Monitor – $175
The SM-220 is an oscilloscope and two-tone audio generator designed to test the output of an SSB, RTTY and digital waveforms. General purpose 10MHz scope and built-in attenuator for 40w-2KW signals. From SK Estate.
We also are members of Kroger Community Rewards, so if you shop at Kroger, we can get $! Here is information on how to sign up.