Here’s The Chawed Rag for February 2023. We’ve got February updates, a Spring POTA event and an antenna made for it, Straight Key Century Club, 4th Annual Go-Kit Challenge, another lost ham radio balloon(?), Winter Field Day wrap-up, Dual-booting a “Pi-Beater”, upcoming events and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
As I type this, we just had our second major 6 Meter opening for the Spring of 2023 – Hawaii was booming into North Texas. I expect many more from now until June/July. Cycle 25 seems firmly in the upswing and early signs are that it might be better than average. So time to get those antenna projects in work!
The Irving Hamfest is this weekend (see below for more). I’m expecting a big crowd and a full space. As a reminder, it’s only a 3/4 day fest, so get there early for the bargains (and hourly door prizes). RWK will be there with a table and we will be selling a few things, so come by and say “hello”. You’re welcome to bring an item to sell at the RWK table but you have to pay by “manning the table” for an hour per item.
As far as RWK Ham Activities, we’re having a Spring POTA Event in March that’s focused on getting Techs and HF-limited people on the air (more below), so if that is you, get ready! Also, we will be doing a group/team foxhunt again this year (probably in April). It will be a bit more organized than the one last year, but hopefully just as fun. If you’ve been wanting to get on the foxhunt train, then this will be a great time to learn how the experienced people do it. Hopefully there will be something to make you get out of the house!
Speaking of getting out of the house, thanks for accommodating the special meeting circumstances for the February meeting. I think it went well given the circumstances and the church was appreciative of our flexibility. We’re back to our regular General Meeting location in March, and our program will be “Choosing tthe Right Field Antenna” by Tom Witherspoon K4SWL. Tom runs QRPer.com, a website specifically devoted to field radio. I hope to see you there.
As I have said at least 3 times recently (maybe more), our K5RWK DMR Repeater sounds the best that it ever has, after a couple of tweaks in early January. If you bought a DMR HT a few years ago (probably for a hotspot) and it’s been in your drawer sitting unused, get it out, dust it off and let’s get it programmed! Before the March Meeting, at 6pm we are going to have a small clinic to show you what you need to know to get your DMR on the air on the RWK repeater. We’re not going to program your radio for you, but we will show you what you need to know to do the programming.
And speaking of showing how to do things, in addition to the Team Foxhunt in April, we’ve got some other fun things in the planning stage. Please stay tuned to this channel!
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
Spring POTA Event for Techs and HF Beginners
By Chip Coker KD4C
Our RWK POTA events have been fairly popular, and recently someone suggested that we have a POTA event focused on getting Technicians and those that are HF-challenged at home on the air. So that’s what we’re doing in March. Weather-permitting, of course!
So if you’re a Technician, remember that you have voice privileges on 10 Meters, and most days there are plenty of people to talk to on 10 Meters. Come to our POTA event and we will get you on the air with a simple station and you can try your hand at 10M SSB – with your own callsign! If you are HF-challenged at home, either due to antenna restrictions or lack of HF equipment, we can get you on the air on the other bands as well.
We’re planning on the 3rd Saturday in March (again, weather permitting) after the Monthly RWK Hungry Hams Breakfast at the Spring Creek Forest Preserve on Shiloh Road in Garland (six miles east of Richardson City Hall). Put it on your calendar, and more specifics will be announced closer to the event.
If you want to build a simple-but-effective POTA antenna for HF, read on! (hint- it doesn’t just work in a park, it will work in your yard too)
A Low Cost Quick Deploy Portable Antenna
By Bob Hill KG5WRY
After watching the video, “Lowest Cost Antenna Ground Spike You Will Find”, (featured in the January 2023 Chawed Rag), I decided to try this antenna build. I purchased a MFJ-1979 17 foot telescoping antenna from DX Engineering, a CB Radio Antenna Mirror Mount and a right-angle UHF adapter from Amazon, and a 12 inch nail from Home Depot. The radials for the antenna are made from four 40 foot sections of surplus communications wire I had on hand. Total cost: less than $100.
This turns out to be a very quick antenna build. The 12 inch nail bolts onto the CB mount. The telescoping antenna screws into the CB mount 3/8 thread. The right angle UHF adapter keeps the coax from being bent as the antenna is pushed into the ground. The radials are connected to the CB mount using a ring connector and a butterfly nut. The longest part of the build was measuring out the 40 foot radial wires and connecting them to a crimp ring terminal.
Tuning the antenna was also straight forward. Using a nanoVNA, I tuned the antenna for each band by extending the antenna to the calculated height (1/4 of wavelength) for a band, adjusting the height of the antenna for band resonance and marking that resonance point on the antenna with a permanent marker. By repeating this measurement I marked resonance points for 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. I have been pleasantly surprised that the resonance points of the antenna are repeatable by extending the antenna to the marked indications on the antenna. So to change bands, just extend the antenna to the marked height and it is ready to transmit on that band.
The SWR of each band is very good, with the worst SWR being under 2.0:1 for the 20 meter band. All other bands are close to 1.2:1 SWR.
The antenna is very portable with quick easy setup and teardown. The typical deployment is to connect the coax cable to the antenna, press the spike into the ground, raise the antenna to the desired band, unroll the 4 radials, and unroll the coax back to the radio site. The deployment time for the antenna is less than 5 minutes. Teardown of the antenna is almost as quick. I take care in rolling up the coax and radials so they will not kink on the next deployment.
The performance of the antenna is typical of a ¼ wave vertical. I can easily make coast to coast, North and South America contacts. With good conditions Europe and Japan are possible. As I was writing this article, I made two contacts to Moscow on 15 meters and got 5×7 quality/strength marks in the QSO.
This is now my primary portable antenna for the park.
MFJ 17 foot telescoping antenna: DX Engineering (Part Number: MFJ-1979)
CB Mirror Mount Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GDGVSQ7
12 inch Nail: Home Depot Model# 12HGSPKE Grip-Rite 3/8 in. x 12 in. Galvanized Spike Nail
Right Angle UHF Adapter: https://www.amazon.com/Degree-PL-259-Connector-Adapter-Coaxial/dp/B076GXHXV8
2023 Go-Kit Challenge
By Chip Coker KD4C / DCARA
The Fourth Annual Go-Kit challenge is March 18th in Highland Village. This is a very informal and fun way to show off your portable rigs as well as get ideas for your next build. Every year it has been bigger and better and I’d expect nothing less this year. There’s no cost to enter and you might walk away with a prize! Questions to Scott Boutwell KG5RJR at DCARA.
South Texas Balloon Project AB5SS-107 Lost Over China?
I’ve been watching a pico balloon that was launched by the South Texas Balloon Project last week (Feb 21). The balloon has a small solar-powered WSPR transmitter and the received telemetry is being uploaded to APRS.FI. You can see the path here: https://aprs.fi/#!call=a%2FAB5SS-107&timerange=604800&tail=604800
It skirted the Gulf Coast before flying over Cuba and the lesser Antilles islands before zipping across the Atlantic at over 100MPH. From there it swept over Africa and Saudi Arabia, southern Iran, and Northern India. I was hoping that it would continue a southern track and avoid China, but it took a northward track over the Chinese mainland. The last status was two days ago (Feb 26). Did the Chinese shoot it down?
Winter Field Day 2023
By Chip Coker KD4C
RWK had a POTA-style Winter Field Day 2023 at our POTA Park-of-choice – Spring Creek Forest Preserve (in Garland – about 6 miles east of Richardson City Hall). We had just under 20 participants and 4-5 stations on the air at various times. The weather cooperated for the hours that we were there and I think 50-60 QSOs were made. None of us were shooting for a high Q count – some (me) were testing antennas, others were just enjoying operating in the park. It was the perfect amount of Winter Field Day! Thanks to everyone that participated!
Straight Key Century Club
By Dick Burroughs K5KIP
Congratulations are in order for Brian Murphy WB8QZM! Brian was one of only 19 SKCC members to work all states and Puerto Rico during the most recent Straight Key Month. Additionally, Brian worked all six continents in this year’s Straight Key Month event.
The SKCC recently celebrated its’ 17th anniversary. The anniversary of the SKCC is celebrated each year in January during an event known as Straight Key Month. Members contact other members in all ten US call districts, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico as well as six continents (Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe, North and South America).
The Straight Key Century Club has grown to over 27,000 members who are interested in CW communications using manual keys (in contrast to keys utilizing electronic components for generation of the elements of Morse code). Straight keys, sideswipers (cootie keys) and semiautomatic “bugs” meet the club requirements.
For more information on SKCC and its’ activities see: https://www.skccgroup.com/
The Asus BR110C “Pi-Beater” – How to Dual-Boot it to Boot
by Mike Jahrig KG5P
This month I’d like to talk about the so-called “Pi-beater” I’m not sure where the term originated, but it was probably by an RWK member on the Klub groups.io blog.
In case you have been living in an alternate universe, a Pi-beater is a laptop more obtainable and in some cases a less expensive alternative to a Raspberry Pi. The Pi-beater laptops usually come equipped with some version of the Windows operating system, Win 10 or 11. The they are full featured and are less total cost than the Pi because don’t need additional equipment such as mice, keyboards, displays, and power supplies.
Several types have sold at Microcenter, often at reduced prices. The first was the 128 GB Maestro Evolve III. Another is the Asus BR1100, which is my subject today.
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
Annual NWS SKYWARN Training – Virtual Sessions
We’re coming up on the spring weather season, and that means it’s time to refresh our knowledge of weather spotting skills. The Fort Worth/Dallas NWS office conducts annual training for storm spotting and the 2023 schedule has been posted and sessions are underway. Live sessions are back this year and a few training sessions are live virtual/online – both evening and Saturday morning times are available. So get trained (or refreshed)! The full schedule is available here: https://www.weather.gov/fwd/skywarn
Irving Hamfest – Sat Mar 4th 8am-2pm
For RWK, the Irving Hamfest is a great way to kick off the hamfest season. Get there early to find the big bargains. https://irvingarc.org/hamfest/
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
Some Raspberry Pi Alternatives (That Aren’t Windows)
If you haven’t been under a rock for the last couple of years, then you probably know that everyone’s favorite Single-Board Computer – the Raspberry Pi – has been in very short supply. The Raspberry Pi foundation assures us that this is going to get better sometime this year, but if you can’t wait (or just like to play with different stuff), here are several alternatives that might be close enough to a Raspberry Pi to be used for Ham Radio applications.
What Is The Limit To Receiver Sensitivity?
Receiver expert Rob Sherwood NC0B gives an overview of modern receiver performance and considerations (from a couple of years ago). Interesting watch (but a long video) if you are into the nuts and bolts of radio.
The CQ Serenade (circa 1960 Dayton Hamvention)
I’d give it a 73, but you can’t dance to it…
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had Dr. Bob Heil K9EID, a legend in the audio business. Aside from lots of stories about his career, he had some tips on the best way to hook up and configure your microphone and HF radio to obtain the best possible sound and break through that pile-up!
If you missed last month’s (or any previous) 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 see them at RWK events or hear them on our repeaters, please say hello.
Tim Culver N2TLC
John Ross KI5WXB
Joe Wigner K5MGY
Dwaine Hurta N5HD
RWK Membership – 333 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. Have something to sell? Send a short description, photo, and offer price to us.
Micro(u)BitX Transceiver – $100
This kit has been assembled and seems to work, although we’re not sure how well. It came from a SK estate and would be perfect for someone who wants to experiment with it (there are lots of upgrades to be made). Comes complete with case and 2 Line LCD display (did I mention there were upgrades?). For more information about the microbitx series: https://www.hfsignals.com/
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Support RWK by Buying 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.
Original content from this newsletter is Copyright 2022 by the Richardson Wireless Club and the bylined author(s). Content may be reused by other Amateur Radio organizations with appropriate credit, notification (to the Editor), and source linkage.
Contributions are welcome – please send material to email@example.com
President – Chip Coker KD4C
Vice-President – Bob Perkins W5RLP
Secretary – Josh Barfield N4NZ
Treasurer – Michael Masterson WT9V
Trustee – Andrew Koenig KE5GDB
Education – Bob Hill KG5WRY
Public Service – Don Klick KG5CK
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.