Here’s The Chawed Rag for September 2022. We’ve got POTA pics, repeater maintenance, a $1000 shack challenge, a $70 SDR kit, siren test monitoring, upcoming events, and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
I hope you’ve had a fun ham radio month and are enjoying our recently repaired UTD FM and DMR repeaters (more on this below). Thanks again to Andrew KE5GDB for making RWK’s six (!) top notch repeaters some of the best in North Texas. If you want more on DMR and Fusion, check out my September RWK meeting presentation where I attempt to describe the use of digital voice in VHF/UHF. I know it was a lot to cover but I’ve had several people tell me that it helped them understand some things they were confused about.
We had 21 people at our first RWK POTA outing and the feedback indicates that we should do more of them. Check out the pics below.
The start of October signals the start of Fall Contesting Season. For those of you that have been interested in getting started with “radiosport”, we have celebrity contestor (and owner of DX Engineering) Tim Duffy K3LR explaining all things contesting as well as Contest University (the premier event for serious contestors) and how you can take advantage of these resources. We may have some things to promote a little intra-RWK contesting competition.
This is another reminder that 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.
A final word of thanks to those of you that donated to RWK during the North Texas Giving Day – we appreciate the support. Also a reminder that you can always support RWK through Amazon Smile and Kroger Community Rewards – it helps us and you don’t pay any more (see right column for details).
Thanks for being a RWK Member! – 73 de KD4C (feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
RWK Parks-On-The-Air Outing
By Chip Coker KD4C
On Saturday Sept 17th (after a big “Hungry Hams” breakfast for most), RWK had its first (of many?) Parks-On-The-Air (POTA) Event at the Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Garland to “activate” park K-4423. We had 20 RWK members and one guest and ended up with 5 total stations on the air during the outing.
The Event was designed to help people that were interested in POTA get experience in setting up and operating in a park-like setting, with all that entails (portable radio setup, temporary antennas, generators/battery power, etc.). We also wanted to give an opportunity to Technicians to experience HF in a semi-busy band condition (it was the weekend of the Texas QSO party and we ended up working more than a few TQP stations).
Based on everything that I’ve heard, people had fun and are interested in repeating the event. With all the setup activities of all 5 stations, not everyone made as many QSOs as were expected. Don N5SKT “activated” the park (10 QSOs are required for a station to activate) but I’m not sure how many of the other stations did. Also, we will do a better job of “sharing the mic” with the Techs that are there – I’m not sure that all that wanted to get a shot at operating got a chance.
We did learn a few things that can be improved next time! Using a VNA to tune an antenna can really QRM all the other stations trying to operate. The consensus was that 5 stations was probably too many to operate at a time, due to interference (hmm, sounds like Field Day) so future outings should be limited as to how many can be on the air at any one time. Also, antennas take longer to set up than you think they will.
Overall, people were really impressed with the low noise level that operating in a park (even one as close as Garland) provides. It’s really pretty easy to throw up a station and get on the air for a few hours if you’re prepared. Maybe Don N5SKT won’t have the park to himself for long!
UTD/TAGER Repeater Improvements
By Chip Coker KD4C
On Tuesday September 6, Andrew KE5GDB, Bryan N5HL and myself took a trip to the UTD Repeater site to do some long-awaited repairs to our equipment there. The trip was successful and everything at the UTD/TAGER site is working as intended.
Here’s what was done:
(BTW, please check out both repeaters – we would appreciate signal reports from outside of Richardson. If you need help on DMR, watch September’s RWK meeting and ask if you need help in getting your DMR programmed).
The CaHR $1000 Station Challenge
By Don Weeks N5SKT
Recently the guys at Coffee and Ham Radios (CaHR) put together a little challenge to come up with a ham shack for less than $1000 and create a video around it. I had an idea to use a radio that I have had in my shack for a while – the Hermes Lite 2.0. The original radio is no longer available but I looked and a similar unit was being sold again. So, I chose the Hermes Lite 2.0 for my $1000 station.
The Hermes Lite 2.0 is a board that was designed as a public domain project. It is based on the Apache Labs Anan radios (See resources below).
Richardson Outdoor Warning Siren Monthly Test
By Chip Coker KD4C
One of the ways that RWK “pays the City back” for all they do for us is that we monitor the proper operation of the City’s Outdoor Warning Sirens (OWS). We’ve been doing this for at least 10 years!
The City has 25 sirens that serve as an alert to the residents for severe weather or other potential event. The purpose of the sirens is to alert people that are outside to seek shelter and seek out further information (note: the sirens are not intended to be heard inside houses or buildings).
The City conducts tests of the sirens on the first Wednesday of the month at 12 noon, weather permitting. If the sky is overcast or there is a forecast for rain/storms, then most likely the test will be cancelled for that month.
If the test is not cancelled, RWK and Richardson RACES members go to each of the 25 sirens just before the test to observe that the sirens operate properly (sirens sound and rotate if capable and strobe is visible). There is a brief “net” on the K5RWK 147.12 repeater to collect the results from each siren and those are sent to the City so that any needed repairs can be made. Total time required: about 15 minutes + travel time.
We have a contingent of loyal and reliable monitors each month (thank you!), but we are looking for a few more to serve as permanent monitors. We are in the process of realigning people to sirens that are close, so most people would only have to go a few blocks to their siren. We’re also trying to get a few alternates that can serve as backups for people that need to miss a month for things like vacation.
We need your help if: 1) You’re free at noon on the first Wednesday of the month, 2) have a mobile or portable 2M radio, and 3) are able to get out and visually/audibly observe the sirens (which are mounted to 50 foot monopoles). If this sounds like something that you’re interested in and can do, then send a note to Don KG5CK (email@example.com) and let him know that you’re interested in helping with OWS tests and where you will normally be at noon on Weds (home or work address).
It’s our way of paying back the City and we want to do the best job that we can, so we’re grateful for your help!
Building the QDX from QRP Labs
By Ron Guest K5IDL
According to the QRP Labs website, the $69 QDX is “a feature-packed, high performance, four-band (80, 40, 30, 20m) 5W digi-modes transceiver kit, including embedded SDR, 24-bit 48 ksps USB sound card, CAT control, synthesized VFO with TCXO reference”. That’s a lot for $69!
This was my first RF build and as you can tell I need to improve my winding. However I’m happy to say the instructions were excellent and it worked just fine right away. Using the board voltage taps I estimate its actual output to be around 4W. I tested its operation on FT8 using both my iMac and a RPi to run WSJT-X.
It is now serving its intended purpose: running WSPR on an RPi on an EFHW (when the antenna is not in use on my IC-7300). An operator in Australia (VK5CIA) hears it consistently enough that he emailed me last week asking for advice he could pass on to a US operator friend of his whose WSPR setup wasn’t picking up much. It was fun to build and money well spent.
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
Belton Fall HamExpo – Sept 30-Oct 1
Don’t miss it! https://tarc.org/hamexpo-schedule/
Electronics Recycling Day – Sat Oct 22
The next Richardson Paper Shredding and Electronics Recycling Day is scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd from 10 am until 2 pm at the north end of Richardson Square Mall. The event is sponsored by the Richardson Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. Event is free, with the exception of old-school CRT-style TVs and similar gear. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
CQ Worldwide DX Contest SSB – Oct 29-30
Biggest SSB Worldwide DX contest, enjoy the sideband DX in Cycle 25 conditions. http://www.cqww.com/rules.htm
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
Just one of the five stations at the RWK POTA event in September!
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
Don’t Be Left In The Dark
It’s hard to envision while feeling 90-plus degree heat, but winter is approaching, and with it the possibility of another round of power outages. Now is the time to think about being prepared for being without power, starting with being without lights. Jason KM4ACK shares his list of things to keep on hand.
CW Is An International Standard
You may have never thought about it, but CW is an International Standard as defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The standard exists because “a) that versions of the Morse code have been in use since 1844;
b) that it continues to be used in some radiocommunication services including the amateur and
amateur-satellite services, and to a diminishing extent in the mobile and fixed services; and c) that the code needs to be updated from time-to-time to meet the needs of the radiocommunication services,”
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had your illustrious
flunkee President presenting “DMR and Fusion and HotSpots, Oh My!”, basically everything Digital VHF/UHF. We will review how we got here, with the history of analog VHF and why we have digital VHF/UHF. We will cover the similarities and differences of the various flavors of digital radio (Fusion / DMR / D-Star / Others) and how all the digital systems can be networked together (and the similarities to AllStarlink). We’ll talk about “HotSpots” and how they can be used and why you might or might not want one. We’ll finish with what you need or want to have to use all this stuff..
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.
Eric Lytle KI5WXD
Robert Bender AE5BB
Grant Halliday KI5WNF
Gerald Marchant WB5NZV
RWK Membership – 352 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) Web renewals with club is still in work at ARRL
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 Administrator
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.