Here’s The Chawed Rag for August 2022. We’ve got Josh N4NZ on Pike’s Peak, some news from the ISS, more on our upcoming Parks on the Air outing, a great antenna for 10 Meters, Opto-Isolators!, upcoming hamfests and events, a new Icom radio, fire(!), and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
I hope you’ve had a fun ham radio month and are preparing for the Worldwide Digi DX Contest this weekend (if you’re a contester).
We’ve been having great groups (typically 20 or more!) for our weekly “Hungry Hams” lunches and the monthly breakfast. It’s great to see new people all the time discovering (or re-discovering) these fun outings. If you haven’t been (and can get away), we’d love to make room for you. See the calendar if you don’t know when/where.
Speaking of gatherings, we have more details below on our upcoming POTA event in September. If you’re interested in POTA or you’re a Technician and want to play with HF, we would love for you to participate.
Our annual Show & Tell Night is coming up in November, and this will be the first one in person in a couple of years. I’ve noticed, watching other clubs doing Show & Tell, that it presents some unique challenges to make it work for both the assembled group and the remote zoom viewers, so I’ll be working on the best way to do that in the next couple of months. Here’s what we would like you to show: New projects, products or things you’ve built or assembled that you use for ham radio or related activities. These are not necessarily electronics builds or things that involve soldering, rather just unique solutions that make radio easier or more fun. For example, after watching our presentation from June about the Shack rebuilding, I spied an antenna patch panel that W7UUU had incorporated into his new shack design. I’ve done something similar and I’ll be showing that off in November.
We’re not looking for an involved presentation – 5-10 minutes max and a couple of good pictures and/or the actual item. I’m betting that we can show off 8-10 items that will get people talking about how they want to do something similar. We will be creating a list closer to the meeting, but be thinking what you have that you want to show off.
Lastly, here’s another reminder that we have some *great* repeaters that are still very lonely. We all still seem to be in RF isolation. So if you get in your vehicle or are just sitting in your shack, get on the repeater and spit out your callsign! If you hear someone, jump on and say “hi”. We have lots of new members that need the practice! Seriously, if you hear a new KI5Wxx call, then please make them feel welcome. We want to uphold our reputation as a friendly bunch.
Enjoy the band openings and the cooler temps and we will (hopefully) hear you on the MOTA and see you on the 12th.
Thanks for being a RWK Member! – 73 de KD4C (feedback: email@example.com)
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.
This Month’s Chawed Rag Features
SOTA from Pike’s Peak
By Josh Barfield N4NZ
My family was planning a trip to Colorado this August, and we wanted to visit the Pikes Peak summit. I last visited in 2003 (before the new Summit Visitor Center was constructed) and enjoyed the amazing views. On this trip I set aside some time at the summit to operate SOTA (Summits On The Air) and make some 14,115 foot contacts on VHF from my HT.
I didn’t know much about SOTA prior to the trip. I watched a few YouTube videos, read a few articles, and bent the ear of KG5EIU (thanks, David). My goal wasn’t the contest aspect or the points; I wanted to make some long distance contacts on my HT from the top of a (big) mountain. I thought doing a SOTA activation would help alert chasers and improve my chances for contacts.
After a 19 mile drive up the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit we spent some family time admiring the views and the new Visitor Center. Thankfully, it was a clear day, and the views were breathtaking. I bundled up to counter the 48°F temperatures and chilling winds from the North. I grabbed my gear and trekked about 50 feet down from the viewing decks.
I pointed my Elk 2M/70CM Log Periodic antenna North; using my Yaesu VX-6 at 5 watts, I called CQ SOTA on 146.520 at 16:45 UTC. I was ecstatic that I immediately had a pile up to work through! I had previously set an alert using the iOS app “SOTA Goat” indicating I would be activating W0C/FR-004 (Pikes Peak) that morning.
The first station I worked (KC0QOK) ended up being the farthest at roughly 127 miles from the Pikes Peak summit to Wellington (Northeast of Fort Collins). I worked a handful of additional stations and used a voice recorder in addition to a paper and pencil log. After about 30 minutes my hands were numb, so I packed the gear and headed to the Visitor Center to warm up.
After I thawed out, I set up on the East side around 18:05 UTC and made another 8 contacts. Nearing the lunch hour, several of these were mobile stations in or near Colorado Springs. No further stations were answering, and the family was waiting, so I packed up after a total of 16 contacts.
I uploaded my log to the SOTA database, and as of this date I have three confirmations plus one who copied my call incorrectly. Hopefully one of the remaining chasers will log their contact so I reach the minimum 4 required for an activation. Regardless, I had a great time operating and had several nice conversations with people who stopped by to ask about the guy with the strange antenna.
I did not have time to work all four cardinal directions, so in the future I will plan for more time at the summit. While pushing the limits of VHF was thrilling, I would also like to try SOTA on HF. We don’t have many summits in the immediate DFW metroplex, but I encourage you to check the summit database and see what the activation or chase opportunities are for your upcoming travels.
International Space Station Upgrades Amateur Radio Operations
From the ARRL Letter
ARISS, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, announced that simultaneous operations of the ARISS voice repeater and digital APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) communications on the Space Station are now a reality.
Current ARISS operations include voice repeater transmissions with the JVC Kenwood TM-D710GA in the Columbus module and APRS operation from an identical radio in the Zvezda module. Packet operations are on 145.825 MHz.
The Columbus module radio uses the call sign NA1SS and the new radio in Zvezda uses RS0ISS. Aside from the call signs, the radios are identical, and packet operations are the same as before. You can use RS0ISS, ARISS, or APRSAT as the packet path. Both radios are expected to be running full time, except during educational contacts, extra vehicular activities (EVAs), and docking maneuvers. Final checkouts and equipment activation occurred on August 11.
ARISS International Chair Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said, “Simultaneous operation of APRS and the voice repeater on ISS is transformative for ARISS. It represents a key element of our ARISS 2.0 initiative, providing interactive capabilities 24/7 that inspire, engage, and educate youth and lifelong learners — especially lifelong learning in ham radio operations. Our heartfelt thanks to Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, for making this crucial ARISS 2.0 initiative become a reality.”
Rosalie White, K1STO, one of two US delegates to ARISS, said the ham radio community will be very happy with the new radio operations from the ISS. “Hams really love doing ARISS packet, cross-band repeater, and Slow-Scan Television (SSTV) operations. Besides the thousands who download ARISS SSTV images downlinked from the ISS, we discovered that in a year’s time, hams did 80,000 ARISS packet messages,” she said. “We are not sure how many have been enjoying the ARISS cross band repeater, but we know it is a lot. This simultaneous operation capability is going to make many hams happy — and we know that keeping hams on the air is good for ARRL and good for amateur radio,” White added.
Operational status and expected downtimes of the ISS radios can be found at www.ariss.org/current-status-of-iss-stations.
RWK Parks-On-The-Air Outing Coming In September
Plans are coming together for our Parks-On-The-Air (POTA) outing to the Spring Creek Forest State Preserve in Garland. Texas State Park K-4423 is the closest POTA-eligible location to Richardson (and only about 10 minutes east of here). This is a prime opportunity for you to learn how a POTA activation is conducted (or to just go play radio in the park). Come see why POTA has generated over 6 million QSOs in the last year or so.
The outing is planned for the third Saturday in September (Sept 17th). Eagle-eyed RWK members will notice that is the same day as the RWK Hungry Hams breakfast (at Southern Recipes Kitchen). The current plan would be to assemble at the breakfast then convoy to the park around 10am and operate until mid-afternoon. Come for breakfast or just come to the park later.
We’re planning at least two operating positions, probably separated by band and/or mode(similar to Field Day). You are welcome (encouraged even!) to bring your own POTA setup (Radio, Antenna, power) but the club or other members will also have equipment (and power) that can be used so you aren’t required to bring anything except yourself (and possibly a camp chair). If you’re a new ham and want to experience HF operations, just bring yourself and we will get you on the air.
There will be food, fun and a bunch of radio. We will be asking for sign-ups closer to the event so you still have time to work on your POTA antenna.
For those not familiar with POTA, you’re encouraged to watch Don Weeks N5SKT’s General Meeting presentation from December 2021 or visit the Parks-on-the-Air website. Here’s a short video of David KG5EIU (and Bill KF5ZBL) and their (fancy) POTA setups:
KG5EIU and KG5ZBL activating Park K-4423 in Garland
Plano Balloon Festival 2022 Looking For Volunteers
The Plano Balloon Festival is back for 2022. This is the 43rd year of the festival, a three day event from September 23rd through the 25th. As in years past, the Plano Amateur Radio Club is looking for communications support volunteers. There will be a reduced number of balloons and will not require as many resources as in years past, but you can go here for more information and to sign up as a volunteer.
The Super Penetrator – A Beast on 10 Meters
By Chip Coker KD4C
Those who know me and my ham radio experience know that I love 10 Meters. Early in my ham career (and in the peak days of solar cycle 21), I would come home from school and turn on the radio to armchair copy of VK/ZL and South American stations on 10M SSB, just like they were next door. In between those booming signals, there was silence! No noise, no static, no foreign broadcast QRM, and (because this was before the ubiquity of computers and cell phones) no computer interference. So you would tune from S9 station to S9 station with almost nothing in between!
Then at nighttime (after the band had closed – although sometimes it didn’t), there was a local bunch that gathered on 28.650 MHz. Almost every evening, there would be 15-20 of us from all walks of life – a high school kid like me, young tech types like my friend KD4B that worked for IBM (we passed Extra on the same day), housewives, some “old” men in their 40s, and one very feisty grandmother – and we would just have this perpetual roundtable, talking about nothing and everything, until we got tired. And then we would do it all again the next night. All of us were within 10-15 miles “ground wave” of each other. Signals weren’t strong, but the noise was low enough that it didn’t matter. It was a very formative experience to me (a lowly high school kid) being accepted into that group as a peer, and it was the start to a lifetime of ham radio experiences on 10 Meters.
Fast forward to today. The start of a new solar cycle – probably not as good as cycle 21, but promising to be fun nonetheless! 10 meters is starting to cook on many days, and I needed a good antenna to take advantage of it!
Behind The Scenes at The Chawed Rag
By Chip Coker KD4C
OK, I’m not really going to show you my desk, cause it’s a bit cluttered… but I did get a question this week that I’d like to address.
This is the 12th edition of the “new and (hopefully) improved Chawed Rag”. We’ve now had one full year of regular (and mostly on schedule) Chawed Rags. The format continues to subtly evolve, but overall I’m happy with the direction that our club newsletter is headed (based on comparison with our sister clubs in the area).
I wanted to address why the format is like it is. Some may have noticed that, with the new web-based Chawed Rag newsletter format, some CR articles are 2-3 paragraphs and are self-contained within the CR, while others (usually longer) have teaser paragraphs with links to separate posts. This is for two reasons: to keep the scroll length of the CR manageable and to have those posts have a “separate life” as independent posts on the K5RWK website. If you wanted to, for example, find info and pics about last year’s Field Day, you could search the RWK website (you DO know that you can search the site, right? The search box is in the upper right of every page! Have a look now. We’ll wait…) for “Field Day 2022” and you would see a dedicated post rather than having to scroll through a particular CR month.
One of the main reasons that we made the change to the web-based format was for searchability. Our site has pretty good “traffic” so anything that we post will do pretty well in Google results. So anything you write for the CR that has broad appeal to all hams will be available to a much wider audience through google searches (rather than having to search PDFs of monthly CRs). This in turn helps RWK by making our website more relevant and prominent. Which makes RWK better (comparatively) and hopefully more appealing to new and prospective hams.
Probably more than you wanted to know, but I do think about such things…
Now, if the inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) was only overflowing with people wanting to write for the CR. I continue to be eternally hopeful!
Opto-Isolators: A very useful device in the ham radio world
By John Slaughter WB5HSI
An opto-isolator is a light emitting diode and a phototransistor in the same package. The LED is completely isolated electrically from the phototransistor. Most devices have 1000 volts or more of isolation. The capacitive coupling between the input and output is also very small.
They are commonly found in radio interfaces where you want isolation between your radio and your computer. The audio is commonly isolated with transformers and the PTT is isolated with an opto-isolator.
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
Worldwide Digi DX Contest – Aug 27-28
4th FT8 / FT4 only DX contest sponsored by a collaboration between the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) and Slovenia Contest Club https://ww-digi.com/
Queen Wilhelmina Hamfest – Sept 9-10 (Fri-Sat)
Jon NN5T says “If you have time to drive (and have fun driving), this is fun hamfest on the top of the mountain.” It’s in Mena, AR (at the border to OK) on beautiful Rich Mountain – a good 4 hour drive from Richardson. http://www.menahamfest.net/
ARRL September VHF Contest – Sep 10-12
Always a popular event. Get your 6M (and up) antennas tuned and ready. All mode on 50MHz and up. http://www.arrl.org/september-vhf
Belton Fall HamExpo – Sept 30-Oct 1
Don’t miss it! https://tarc.org/hamexpo-schedule/
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
We usually always have a good group for our Friday Lunch Bunch on Zoom. Topics are (mostly) ham radio related and questions are welcome (especially from new hams). Bring your lunch as stay as long as you want – we promise we don’t care if you eat in front of us!
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
Icom Introduces New IC-905 VHF/UHF/SHF Transceiver
They teased it at Dayton, but Icom officially announced the new IC-905 VHF/UHF/Microwave transceiver at the 2022 Tokyo Ham Fair. It has the same form factor as the IC-705 but it covers the 144, 430, 1240, 2400 and 5600 MHz bands. It has an optional module for the 10 GHz band. The multi-mode radio supports all the usual modes and also supports FM ATV. Output power is 10 W on 144 / 430 / 1200 MHz, 2 W on 2400 / 5600 MHz and 0.5 W on 10 GHz. Pricing was not announced but it is expected to be north of $2k.
Fire at Richardson City Hall
There was a fire at the City of Richardson City Hall in the early morning hours on Monday Aug 22. The fire was believed to be caused by an “unintentional electrical failure” (anyone want to bet on a power strip?). The two-alarm blaze was brought under control in about an hour and no injuries were reported, but City Hall operations will be disrupted for several weeks.
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had Carl Luetzelschwab K9LA presenting on Solar Cycle 25 Update and Propagation. Carl reviewed previous solar cycles and presented the current status of Cycle 25 and summary of the propagation on 160-10m and what to look for in terms of 10.7 cm solar flux, sunspot number and the K index. An enlightening update on all things Propagation.
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.
Matthew Thomas KI5WMW
Orlando Davila KI5WNB
Bryan Daniel KG2BAD
RWK Membership – 355 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!
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.
Icom IC-207 Dual-band Mobile – $125
This is a classic dual-band Icom mobile. One of the first with a detachable face. 50W/35W. This radio has been part of the RWK loaner program but there’s not much demand to borrow a mobile radio, so it needs to find a new home. Comes with a powerpole cord and mobile mounting bracket.
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?
Don’t forget about the Hungry Hams Monthly Breakfast every third Saturday at 8am at Southern Recipes Kitchen on Plano Parkway.
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.
Need to Renew Your ARRL Membership?
If you are joining the ARRL for the first time, the RWK is entitled to $15 of your ARRL dues, and if you renew your ARRL membership, the RWK is entitled to $5. You now can just apply directly on the ARRL website (instead of filling on a paper form). When you apply (or renew), there will be a place on the application form for you to designate the Richardson Wireless Klub as your primary club. If you do that, then RWK gets the money that we are entitled to. (this change is effective June 1 2022)
Here’s the link to join/renew your ARRL Membership: https://home.arrl.org/action/Membership/Join-ARRL
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.
Set up AmazonSmile and the Klub will receive a small percentage of your Amazon purchases. We’ve received over $900 to date cause you guys buy lots of stuff!
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.
The Chawed Rag
A monthly publication of the Richardson Wireless Klub, PO Box 830232, Richardson TX 75083. The Club Callsign is K5RWK.
Content from this newsletter may be reused by other Amateur Radio organizations with appropriate credit, notification, and source linkage.
Contributions are welcome – please send material to firstname.lastname@example.org
President – Chip Coker KD4C
Vice-President – Bob Perkins W5RLP
Treasurer – Michael Masterson WT9V
Trustee – Andrew Koenig KE5GDB
Education – Bob Hill KG5WRY
Public Service – Don Klick
Social – David Nathanson K5CU
Quartermaster – Jon Suehiro NN5T
Past President – Mark Beebe W5YF
Meetings of the Board of Directors are held monthly on the first Thursday of the month and are open to any member in good standing of the club. Please contact any club officer if you would like to attend.