Here’s The Chawed Rag for July 2023. We’ve got some news from ARRL, RWK members Summer of (being) DX, a cheap Shack Power Supply, upcoming ham events, and short features on coax, and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
Well despite the multiple 100+ degree days, I hope you have been able to get in some fun radio activities. We had the annual 13 Colonies Event, The CQ VHF Contest, and the IARU World Championship, so hopefully there was something to get you on the radio.
Locally, we had what I believe to be a record foxhunting weekend last week. Between Fox#1 and Wheatley, we had 41 finds! That’s the most that I can remember for a single weekend, of course it helped that there was a large post Hungry Hams Breakfast hunting group with at least two new people. As a reminder, if you’re unsure how to get started with Foxhunting, most any of the regulars will be glad to help you get started, and after the monthly breakfast is a great time.
If you operated Field Day from your home QTH (in addition to the RWK Field Day event), you’ve got just a couple of days to submit your entry. As of now, we have 15 entries that have tagged “Richardson Wireless Klub”.
For those that missed the Field Day 1:1 Choke Balun build that Bob KG5WRY wrangled, we have a few kits that are available for sale (at meetings and lunches) for $30. With Bob’s well-documented instructions, you can build this (for less than half the price of a commercial product)! It’s the perfect starting piece for building your own fan dipole
I hope you enjoyed this month’s QRV Tech presentation on SDRs (Software Defined Radios)? There were around 30 people, which is right on target for this series. There are lots of notes and a copy of the slides on the QRV Tech post on our website. Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties in recording the session, but I’ll be happy to re-record it if there is interest.
And speaking of meetings, Dr. Fong has again offered RWK the opportunity to make a Group Buy of his antennas at sale prices. Let Michael WT9V know if you are interested or check the RWK website for an announcement as soon as we are ready. Next month’s meeting should be something that it of interest to most all of us – finding and mitigating various sources of HF noise.
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
ARRL Board of Directors Votes to Raise Membership Dues and Modify QST Delivery
By Chip Coker KD4C
The ARRL Board of Directors recently completed their second annual meeting and, as foreshadowed by the member survey held in May, they have voted to increase member dues to $59 per year starting January 1, 2024, as announced by President Rick Roderick K5UR. They also voted to make a print subscription to one of their four publications (QST, On The Air, QEX, or NCJ) an added surcharge above basic membership. The amount of the surcharge was not included in the statement. On-line access to all of the magazines will continue to be available as a basic member benefit. Also included in the announcement was that Life Membership applications would be “frozen” until the “revenue neutral” cost of the memberships could be determined.
CEO David Minster NA2AA stated during the member survey that the ARRL has been operating at a loss for several years against rising operational and printing costs and that membership dues had not increased in many years, so this announcement is not unexpected.
Note: The following is my opinion.
As I have stated previously, I still see the need for a National Ham Radio organization and I still think that you should be a member of ARRL if you can afford it. That said, these changes make it even harder to do that.
There’s a need for a national organization to monitor and fight for our precious spectrum rights, as evidenced by the recent discussions around the recent High-Speed Stock Trading NPRM that has gotten some publicity as of late. That’s just the latest example of how organizations with deep pockets can do endless lobbying to the FCC and Congress to get their hands on some precious spectrum. While this latest NPRM does not go after actual amateur radio allocations (and I’m not sure that the “hype” around this specific NPRM is justified), if it *had* gone after ham allocations, it likely would have succeeded and we would have lost spectrum. Why? Because lobbying the FCC and Congress is a VERY EXPENSIVE proposition. ARRL used to have a full-time attorney/lobbyist on staff (his name escapes me) to interface with the FCC and select members of Congress. Now, I believe they have outsourced that function to an outside law firm on just a part-time basis. Would I pay more in membership if I thought it would support better legislative affairs for ham radio? You bet!
The other failing effort within the ARRL is support of local clubs, which I believe are the lifeblood of promoting and extending the life of a somewhat-endangered hobby. ARRL has a “member services” function, but they do not seem to provide many services to clubs, which are the best collections of active members in the hobby. They could really leverage their effectiveness if they could find a way to make local radio clubs an extension of a well-functioning national organization. Instead they have increasingly isolated the organization behind a publishing firewall in Newington, leaving clubs to attempt to do the work of promoting ham radio on their own. Once again, would I pay more if I though this would change? You bet!
Do I think that any of that will get better? I have hopes that it will. But steering a aircraft-carrier-sized 100 year old organization like the ARRL take a lot of water.
There is a NEED for a national organization for ham radio – A big need. Is the ARRL what we need, and is it worth the money? Not today, it’s not. But I have hopes that it can change to be more efficient, more responsive, and more focused. So I will continue to be an ARRL member, and you should too, if you are able. Canceling your membership and strangling the only organization we have – even if they aren’t quite on track – doesn’t seem like the best plan to get what is needed.
Coupled with that, I will continue to voice what I think needs to be done to change the current ARRL into an organization that does what is needed for ham radio for the next 100 years.
Summer of DX for a Couple of RWK Members
By Chip Coker KD4C
A lot of RWK members work DX but not many of us actually get to BE the DX. A couple of RWK Members have gotten a taste of being the DX this summer.
Ed W8QH has a place in Belize that he’s been working on and he goes there 2-3 times a year. Last year he spent time fighting with the weather to get an antenna up and this year he seems to have improved it significantly. He’s been in Belize for several weeks and has managed to make 1800 QSOs down there as V31XE.
Shawn KI5PXG recently was planning a family vacation to Turks & Caicos (close to the Dominican Republic in the outer gulf) and, after all the POTA activities we’ve had, started thinking seriously about trying to get on the air from VP5-land. He even managed to find a resort next to an official POTA park (that has had no activations up until now)!
I won’t steal his thunder (in hopes that he will write it up for a future Chawed Rag) but I think he’s had fun and a new appreciation for what it’s like to be on the other side of a pile-up!
Has anyone else had similar experiences in being DX? Please let us know!
A Simple HP Server Power Supply Mod Creates The Perfect Shack Power Supply
by Josh Barfield
Everyone needs a good power supply for today’s solid state HF and VHF radios. 20 years ago, your only option was a bulky, hot and heavy linear power supply from Astron or similar (which are still great supplies), but 35 amps of 12 volt DC weighed about 15 pounds and put out a bunch of heat as well. Thanks in part to the advances in computer servers, switching power supply technology has improved greatly from even several years ago. Today’s modern computer servers need lots of clean 12V DC power that can ramp up or down in current instantly – sound familiar?
The good news about these supplies is that they can supply an incredible amount of current from an incredibly small package. The 1200 watt supplies can deliver 60 amps of clean power – that’s 30+ pounds worth of Astron supplies – from a small 2 pound module.
There’s only two problems: 1) We hams are used to having a 13.8V supply, not a 12V supply, and 2) the raw HP Server supply leaves something to be desired in packaging.
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
ARRL Rookie Roundup – RTTY – Aug 20 (1800-2359UTC)
Rookie Roundups encourage newly-licensed operators (“Rookies”) in North America to operate on the HF bands and experience competitive Amateur Radio operating. Experienced operators (“Non-Rookies”) are strongly encouraged to participate and help new operators – either on the air or in person. The August session is focused on RTTY (Radio TeleTYpe) – if you’ve ever been interested in RTTY, this is a great opportunity.
Huntsville Hamfest – August 19-20
One of the year’s more popular. More info: https://hamfest.org/
Worldwide Digital DX Contest – Aug 26-27
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/
Annual Route 66 Event – Sept 10-18
More coming next month on this popular event. Full Rules and Info: https://w6jbt.org
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
It’s all about coax this month…
Tour of ABR Industries – Custom Coax Supplier
So if you’ve been to HRO lately, you might have seen bundles of coax piled up on their floor with the signature Green Caps on the connectors. This is coax from ABR Industries, a relatively local (Houston area) supplier of quality coax for hams and commercial customers. ABR makes standard length cables available for sale from HRO, but they also offer custom cables and connectors from their website: https://abrind.com/
Here’s a quick tour of their operation with K8MRD and Shannon, the ABR president:
Finding Coax Loss Using a NanoVNA
So this subject came up the other day on the Friday Lunch Bunch zoom meeting: How to measure the loss in a length of coax using a NanoVNA. This short video explains just how to do that. You can easily find out if that random piece of coax you have laying around is any good!
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had A Highly Effective UHF Base Antenna by Dr. Ed Fong (WB6IQN). His talk will be the DBJ-UHF 5dB gain base antenna, a highly effective 5dB base antenna at only 37 inches tall and no radials. There have been over 8,000 sold since its introduction ten years ago. It requires no radials and is a DC shorted design so no lightning arrestor is needed.
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.
Michael Serafin KC5GRW
Richard Hernandez KB6POE KJ5BKA
Todd Campbell KJ5BYM
RWK Membership – 340 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.
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.
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 2023 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
President – Chip Coker KD4C
Vice-President – Bob Perkins W5RLP
Secretary – Josh Barfield N4NZ
Treasurer – Michael Masterson WT9V
Trustee – Andrew Koenig KE5GDB
Activities – Bob Hill KG5WRY
Public Service – Don Klick KG5CK
Education – Shawn Prestridge KI5PXG
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.