Here’s The Chawed Rag for April 2022. Let me know what you think (good or bad) and what else you would like to see in the CR. 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, see the right column below on how to submit it. – KD4C
Greetings RWK! I hope you’ve had a fun ham radio month. For the last couple of weeks, the HF bands have been on fire! It’s time to forget about the doldrums of propagation and start getting ready for Cycle 25. If the first few months of 2022 are any indication, we’re in for a good time. So get to work on those antennas, start watching the Solar Flux Index (which was 160 last week!), and get on the air.
It’s been great to see really good turnout at the Wednesday Hungry Hams lunches at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ. Seems like we’re back to having two tables and a good YL group pretty much every week, which is like I remember it from the “before times”. If you haven’t been to the RWK lunch recently, we would love to see you again soon.
It’s May already, and that means we start thinking about Field Day. It looks like this year won’t be with all the restrictions that we had last year, so we have the opportunity to have a more complete Field Day, possibly including a Klub social event and other activities. But that’s all up to you! The Board is going to start discussions in the next couple of weeks, but we want to hear from you. What do you want as part of Field Day 2022? Send me an email (email@example.com) and let me know and we’ll discuss it.
Speaking of the Board, we have almost a dozen members (Officers and Board Members) that devote extra time each month to help make RWK great. First, I’d like to thank them for all they do to make my job easier! Second, it’s been our policy for several years to “do all the boring stuff” separately from our monthly General Meetings. We’re just trying to keep the meetings shorter and more entertaining (and so you don’t have to listen to me even more!). However, our RWK Board Meetings are certainly open to all members – We have them on the first Thursday of the month on Zoom (this month it will be May 5th at 6pm). If you would like to attend (even if you just want to listen to what the Board does), let me know and I’ll send you an invitation.
In other (not so good) news, as announced last month, the congressionally-mandated fees for new hams, license renewals, and vanity calls went into effect on April 19th. It has not gone terribly well. One of the reasons for the big delay in imposing the fees was so that the FCC could modify their systems to collect the fee prior to issuing the license. Evidently that modification has not gone well. As of the end of April, the VECs have not been able to submit new licensees to the FCC for several days, and we don’t have any word on how long it will take to get it resolved. What literally took a matter of hours (before fees), now is on total hold. Stay tuned!
Finally, please share any interesting ham-related stuff you’ve seen or have been doing. Doesn’t matter how raw or badly written, we’ll make you look good and help you show off what you’ve been doing – see the right column for details. 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
Foxhunting For Real
By Chip Coker KD4C
At Field Day 2019, RWK had a side activity where hams built a small “tape-measure yagi” and had a small foxhunt in Lookout park. Since shortly after Field Day 2019, we have staged foxhunts in the City of Richardson most every weekend with at least one fox (and two foxes on most weekends). While foxhunting has been a fun and active for the klub, it has a practical purpose. Foxhunters develop the skills required to identify and locate harmful and malicious interference to amateur and public service. And last week those skills were needed.
On Wednesday, April 20th, the RWK was called into service to help find the source of a signal that had timed out the 146.92 main DCARA repeater since the previous evening. Seems that a “stuck PTT” or dead-air carrier (with no modulation) had appeared on the input to the 6.92 repeater the previous evening, effectively timing out the repeater. They (DCARA) hoped that it would be discovered by the owner and resolved overnight (someone would have figured out that their mic was stuck on or wedged between the seat, etc.). When that didn’t happen by Weds. morning, more drastic measures were called for.
Using Phonetics to Improve Communications
By Doug Mansor WA8UWV (Reprinted from ARRL Club News)
If you’ve been a ham for a few years, you are probably aware of the phonetic alphabet and have used it or at least have heard it being used on the air. As a new ham, you might have encountered the phonetic alphabet while studying for the test but stashed it away in the back of your mind for later study if needed.
The phonetic alphabet we use as hams is sometimes referred to as the NATO phonetic alphabet, and is considered the standard for general use on the air. It consists of words that represent corresponding letters of the alphabet. It is important to use this standard to prevent being misunderstood on the air, such as when giving your call sign, location, or name to a rare DX station or any station under noisy conditions.
It may be fun to create a unique set of phonetics to represent your call sign, but that is not likely to improve communication. When the standard phonetics are used, you will eventually learn to associate that word with the corresponding letter. It’s the same mechanism that is used to interpret Morse code. Instead of thinking of “dit dit dah dit” as the letter “F,” you simply hear “F” when that code is presented. So, instead of hearing the word “bravo,” you would actually hear the letter “B.” If the other station uses nonstandard words to represent the letters in their call sign, you would have to take the time to think how each word is spelled and then what the first letter is. By the time you have accomplished all that, you will have missed the next two words (letters). For example, my call is WA8UWV. If I say, “Whiskey Alpha Eight Uniform Whiskey Victor,” it would be readily understood. If I say, “We all ate ugly white vegetables,” it would take a while to translate.
When checking into a net, the Net Control Station (NCS) is often required to report the call signs of stations reporting in. If a letter of the reporting station’s call is misinterpreted, the NCS report will be incorrect. In regard to the Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society (PCARS) net, where ten check-ins for each week in a row will entitle you to a certificate, an error in reporting your call might cause a disqualification.
How easy is it for a letter to be misunderstood? I have often mistaken similar sounding letters.
As an example, the following groups of letters tend to sound similar.
Sounds Alike: BCDEGPTVZ AJK QUW IY SX
This group of letters tend to have unique sounds and are less likely to be mistaken.
Unique Sounding: FHLMNOR
As you can see, more letters have the potential to be mistaken than not. The results are highly dependent on the enunciation practiced by the speaker and radio conditions.
RWK Shirts – We’re Taking Pre-orders
We’re almost done taking orders for embroidered RWK Polo Shirts (from the same embroiderer as the popular RWK Hats). In addition, we are able to add your CALLSIGN under the logo on the front for a small additional charge. Shirts are Navy “spotshield” Jersey Knit Cotton Blend and are available in S-XL for $25 and 2XL-4XL for $28. $5 extra for personal callsign emboidery. See KD4C at the Hungry Hams lunch to place an order (payment is required in advance). Or you may place your order at the next RWK club meeting. We’re almost at our minimum order quantity so don’t miss out!
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 – Filters
By Mike Jahrig KG5P
This month I will continue my discussion of the NanoVNA. One useful accessory I have found is a RF Demo Kit that I bought off the internet from Banggood or somewhere for about 12 bucks. This device contains a lot of test components that you can experiment with while exploring the functions of your Nano VNA. Note the 30 MHz low-pass filter (LPF ) and the 100 MHz high-pass (HPF) filters in the upper left. (Figure 1)
Today we start our investigation of common filters found in all amateur radio equipment, specifically low-pass and high-pass filters.
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
Dayton Hamvention – May 20-22
The premier ham radio event in the US returns to Xenia OH https://hamvention.org/
Pic of the Month
KD4C played “guide” to a group of foxhunters a few Saturdays ago, coaching on the finer points of hunting, and here’s most of the successful group pictured with Fox#1 (David K5CU was behind the camera). From L-R, Brian WB8QZM, Chris KV2T, and Eric W5MWM and me with Fox#1. Let any of the regular hunters know if you want to ride along or just have us give you some tips during a weekend hunt.
RF Bits & Bytes
What’s the best wire for a Dipole?
Shawn KI5PXG forwards this find from Ian Jackson – VK3BUF, general secretary of the Radio Amateur Society of Australia – RASA.
The short answer: it doesn’t matter much as long as you aren’t using MIG wire, but uninsulated wire is a bit better than insulated.
Here’s a link to the full article with test results: https://sz1a.org/en/featured-articles/whats-the-best-wire-for-a-dipole-video/
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 John Portune W6NBC presenting on “Slot Antennas for Ham Radio”. You may not have heard of a “slot” antenna, but you’ve probably seen one.
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.
Daren Nerad KD0OPS & Amber Nerad KE0QYL
Charles Delap KI5NMO
Scott Eisenbeis KD9USR
Larry Pollis KI5UXC
Dick Burroughs N5KIP
John Dusek W3JED
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?
Share Your Activities In The Chawed Rag
The RWK is always looking for content to publish in The Chawed Rag. If you have an article, technical subject, project or fun story you would like to contribute, please submit it to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To submit an article to the Editor for consideration, please put your article into a single Word Document, or if that is not possible, collect all of your article’s components into a folder and create a zip archive of all of it. Then simply email the Word Doc or zip file to email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. Have something to sell? Send a short description, photo, and offer price to us.
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.