Here’s The Chawed Rag for October 2023. We’ve got SSTV back on the ISS, some good and bad FCC changes, a special birthday for W5XJ, a ham demonstration for 500 4th graders, kit building fun, lots of upcoming events and news and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C
A bunch of ham radio stuff starts up in October after the summer heat is over. The start of the contest season is upon us, temps are great for some POTA and for finishing those antenna projects, and there are a bunch of public service events on the books. I hope you have been able to get in some fun radio activities this month and are looking forward to what’s coming.
Bob W5RLP would want me to remind you that our annual Show&Tell meeting is coming up in less than 2 weeks. This is your chance to spend 5 or so minutes showing off something that you’ve done or built over the past year. We need 6-10 people to spend 5 or so minutes showing off something they have done in the past year: a project, kit, or antenna, or just something that makes ham radio more fun. It’s always interesting to see what people have been up to, and there are usually some good ideas shown. Please reserve your time slot here: https://forms.gle/Q9q5UaB3k2gTBSji9
As I mentioned a paragraph ago, October is the start of public service event season, with several annual local events that will be looking for volunteers. Notably, Turkey Roll and the Dallas Marathon are always big events that RWK contributes to. Here in Richardson, RWK supplies communications for the annual Christmas Parade in support of the City of Richardson. As I’ve said before, it’s a small way to pay the City back for all they do for us as a club, so we need to do everything we can to make our part successful. The Richardson Christmas Parade will be on December 2nd.
Our POTA events continue to be popular. After our September event, we had several requests for another one, so we had 14 members out to Spring Creek after the October Breakfast, and we got at least one new ham on the HF bands, along with several K-4423 activations. These might just turn into monthly events!
I got a lot of comments on my September Chawed Rag piece on the Collins Richardson Campus history. Evidently it was shared among several other lists and has been viewed close to 600 times! If you’re interested in more Collins History, Frank KR1ZAN suggests this page: https://collinsaerospacemuseum.org/
Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone that kicked in towards out FT-DX10 Campaign for North Texas Giving Day. I’m happy to report that our goal was met and exceeded by a bit and I look forward to showing off our shiny new FT-DX10 at a future club meeting soon, and then at our next POTA event and Winter Field Day in January.
Here’s (I think) the full list of contributors:
As I mentioned at the October meeting, we plan on having a recognition plate of some sort to be affixed to the radio, so please let me know if there are any correction to the above.
RWK is ending the year at a membership high (350 members!). As we wind up the year, it’s time to ask each of you two questions: 1) what are we doing right or wrong as a club?, and 2) do you want to get more involved with making RWK a great club? If you’ve got thoughts on either (or both) of those subjects, we would love to hear from you. Please send any feedback (good or bad) to the email below (or to any of the officers in the right column below). We will be looking at leadership for next year soon, and your comments and suggestions will factor into our planning and the nominating committee’s actions.
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
ARISS SSTV Is (Hopefully) Back In Operation
By Chip Coker KD4C
After an extended outage due to equipment failure, the ability of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) to send SSTV is back! At long last, the ARISS Team is conducting tests of the SSTV system for the next few days. Welcome Back SSTV!
The test is scheduled from 27 Oct 7:15am to 31 Oct 1:20pm (all times CDT), but there may be changes to the schedule. After what we hope is a successful test, the ISS SSTV Special Events should resume (there’s usually a big one for the end of the year holidays).
The International Space Station (ISS) orbits around 250 miles overhead and the orbit period is around 90 minutes, which means that you can usually hear a few passes per day, and since the ISS is in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), you can hear it with a handheld and usually don’t need any special antennas (although they certainly help). And one of the easiest ways to hear the ISS is when they are operating Slow Scan Television (SSTV).
You can go to www.amsat.org/track/ or spotthestation.nasa.gov and find when the ISS will be overhead. Passes that have the highest “Max Height” will be the best (lowest noise) and longest (you will need a relatively long pass to get a full SSTV frame).
For SSTV from the ISS, set your 2M FM receiver to 145.800 wideband FM. You can use your home 2M FM radio (best) or you can use a mobile or HT. Better and higher antennas will work better. The best antenna for satellite reception is circular polarization because there is some polarization-related fading, but a simple vertical will work as well. Doppler correction on FM usually isn’t necessary.
Once you have your pass schedule, you need to figure out how to receive the SSTV image. If you have a 2M radio with audio connected to a computer (for things like Winlink or FLdigi) then you just need an application that will decode SSTV. If you use windows, the most popular is MMSSTV (free) and for linux or raspberry pi the most popular is QSSTV (also free). For just receiving images, minimal configuration is required and there are lots of youtube tutorials on how to set them up.
Don’t have a connected computer? You can use your phone! There are SSTV apps for both iPhone and android phones. Just install the app and hold the phone next to the speaker on your HT or mobile radio. It couldn’t be easier!
If you’re successful in capturing an image or two, please share on discord or in groups.io. There is also a place to post on the ARISS blog.
The Good and The Bad – Two Proposed Changes To The Amateur Service
There are a couple of changes to the FCC rules for the Amateur Service that we should pay attention to and comment on:
The Bad – Changes To the 60M Allocation
There’s a proposal to basically eviscerate our ham frequency allocation on 60 Meters. The FCC proposal would take away several of the discreet channels and reduce power output from the current 100 W to less than 10 W.
ARRL asks that all amateurs file comments during the public comment period, which is open until November 28, 2023. ARRL encourages expressions of support to the FCC for the current 100 W ERP power limit (instead of reducing the power limit to 15 W EIRP) and continuing secondary access to the current channels.
ARRL has assembled a web page with instructions on how to submit your comments, that also includes background information on the issue: www.arrl.org/60-meter-band.
To submit your comments for the FCC’s consideration in the rulemaking process, go to the FCC web page for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’s (NPRM) Docket Number 23-120 at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/docket-detail/23-120.
The Good – Changes to the Symbol Rate Limit
This has been an ongoing issue for several years and now (finally) there is a scheduled vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider removing symbol rate restrictions that restrict digital modes, foster inefficient spectrum use, and dampen incentives for innovation. In the draft Commission decision, the FCC would replace the current HF restrictions with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit. The Commission also announced that it will consider a Further Notice in which it will propose eliminating similar restrictions where they apply in other bands and consider relying on signal bandwidth limits.
For more info on both of these, see the most recent issue of The ARRL Letter
RWK VE Team Conducts Clandestine Operations
Recently the RWK VE Team was contacted by the son of a prominent RWK Member. Seems the son wanted to get his Technician license but to keep it a secret to be revealed to the father at a later date. Well, we’re nothing if not accommodating! So on October 4th, Mitchell Laughlin (son of Grant W5-Xray-Juliet!) passed his Technician exam remotely with the RWK VE Team (from Colorado) and became KF0NWL.
Not too long later, a strangely cryptic birthday card shows up in the mailbox of one W5XJ:
Of course Grant had no idea whose callsign that was. Boy was he in for a surprise when he looked it up! Happy Birthday Grant, and glad that we could play a small part in a special birthday for you!
Ham Radio Is Part Of Kids HalloGreen Festival
By Larry Nealy KI0R
(Editor’s note: Larry KI0R moved to Mount Pleasant in August 2022, but remains a loyal member of the Richardson Wireless Klub.)
On October 10 and 11, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Mount Pleasant, Texas hosted their 5th annual Hallogreen festival. Over 500 fourth grade students from Mount Pleasant ISD, Chapel Hill ISD, Harts Bluff ISD and Rivercrest ISD each spent a long morning doing activities and seeing demonstrations at 7 separate stations, all staffed by volunteers from the Cypress Basin Master Gardener Association (https://cbmga.org/ ). The Hummingbird Garden, nature trail, photo booth, livestock demo, dog care clinic and ultraviolet (UV) sensing bracelet assembly stations are popular every year. These activities and demonstrations are tied to the required science curriculum for fourth graders in Texas. In 2023, for the first time, one of the stations included an Amateur Radio demonstration.
For each student group of up to 50 students, a short presentation discussed the effects of the Sun on the Earth, including photosynthesis from visible light, ultraviolet (UV) light impacts on humans, and UV impacts to Earth’s atmosphere affecting radio wave propagation. Then, voice communication using SSB on the 20m band (space wave) was demonstrated by Larry Neely KI0R. Line of sight VHF and UHF communications were queued as backup communication methods if RF propagation was unreliable. One special event station, and a number of Parks On The Air (POTA) activators, were exploited to demonstrate the capabilities of Ham Radio to these fourth-grade students. Members of the Gilmer area amateur radio club (www.UAARC.club ) were available as backup contacts if RF propagation proved unreliable. The location of each new contact was pinned manually on a map during the demonstrations, and space weather cooperated to make the demonstrations successful. Several students spoke on the air under KI0R supervision.
- 14 ham radio demonstrations held
- Snacks, water and string backpacks with fun stuff provided to 566 fourth graders
- 522 fourth graders introduced to Ham Radio
- 32 teachers and several volunteers also introduced to Amateur Radio
- 30 QSO contacts logged across 21 states and one province, with some contacts covering more than 1 POTA designated park
A 2023 special event QSL card will be prepared for sharing Hallogreen information with the QSO contacts.
In summary, over 500 fourth grade students and their teachers were introduced to amateur radio over two days, with the hopes of planting seeds for new licensed ham radio operators in the future. Plans for Hallogreen 2024 will be formulated during the summer of 2024.
- Yaesu 857D radio transmitting 100W, using commercial power and power supply
- Horizontal dual band 20m/40m homebrew skeleton sleeve folded dipole at 4 meters
- Vertical dual band 2m/70cm homebrew skeleton sleeve dipole at 5 meters
- Two folding poster boards with solar science knowledge nuggets
The Thrill of the Build
By Larry Pollis KI5UXC
Back in the stone age days (circa 1976) of my ham radio journey I built my first HF Transceiver. It was a Heathkit SB-104A, the first all solid-state transceiver with a digital frequency readout. Along with that kit, you had to build the power supply and speaker to get functional. Additional options for the SB-104A lineup were a station monitor (a limited ‘scope), a phone patch (what’s that? Unheard of now!), and the SB-230 linear amplifier. It was also ahead of its time. It’s output was 1200 watts peak to peak SSB and 1 kilowatt on CW and it used a single, conduction cooled, final tube.
After a 30 year hiatus from amateur radio I returned to a different world. There is no Heathkit. Kit building was the norm back then and not only for ham gear. I built many pieces of test gear, stereo amplifiers, weather stations… The list goes on. I thought that my kit building days were over. Much of the technology has moved on to more sophisticated manufacturing methods that are not home-brew friendly such as surface mount technology, multi-layered PC boards, and ultra-miniature components. I thought that the “Thrill of the Build” was gone!
Then I discovered that I was wrong!
Upcoming Ham Radio Events
These ham radio related events are coming up soon.
ARRL Sweepstakes – CW – Nov 4-6
ARRL Sweepstakes – SSB- Nov 18-20
Work all US and Canada Sections for a “Clean Sweep”. Begins 2100 UTC Saturday and runs through 0259 UTC Monday. http://www.arrl.org/sweepstakes
DCARA Turkey Roll – Sat Nov 18th
Turkey Roll is just around the corner. This is one of the largest bike rides in the area. The course will be somewhat similar to years past, but the start/finish area has moved to the new Denton Bronco High School. DCARA is looking for volunteers to cover all positions: NCS/ANCS, SAG/rovers, and rest stops. Reporting times are going to range from 6:00AM through 8:30AM and the event should be wrapped up by early afternoon. This is a great opportunity to use your go-kits and demonstrate your operating skills to the public. Sign up link: https://forms.gle/XUFeFNg2k9P3yyn69
All the details: https://dentonturkeyroll.com/
Richardson Christmas Parade – Dec 2nd
This year marks the 51st Annual Christmas Parade for the City of Richardson. RWK will again be assisting in parade communications and we’ll be looking for volunteers closer to the event. Parade is on the West side this year (Coit Road). More info: https://www.cor.net/departments/parks-recreation/community-events/christmas-parade/
Dallas Marathon – Sun Dec 8-10th
Amateur Radio is an integral part in making the Dallas Marathon a success by providing a public service radio communications network for safety and logistics. The many Amateur Radio Clubs in and around the Metroplex have supported the Marathon for nearly 40 years. If you would like to volunteer (or for more information): https://sites.google.com/site/dallasmarathoncomms/home
Chawed Rag Pic of the Month
Did You Know: At most RWK meetings, we actually have one or more radios set up and operating. If you would like to try and make a QSO or two, just ask!
Ham Radio Bits & Bytes
A 2M Antenna Made From “Duck” Tape
Here’s a guy that used Duct Tape to make a J-pole antenna for 2M using John Portune W6NBC’s copper foil tape design and duct tape.
Is Radio Shack Coming Back?
The Radio Shack brand has been purchased and the new owner promises new brick and mortar stores.
Last Month’s Program
Last Month we had Chip Coker KD4C talk about Logging and QSLing the history of logging and confirming contacts before we had computers and the internet, and how having those has changed logging and QSLing for current hams. We’ll see current ways to log your contacts, obtain QSLs, and track awards. We’ll also see that the old ways aren’t completely dead, and why you might want to send and receive physical QSLs. QSL Cards are a lost art and one of the things that has made ham radio special, and we’re in danger of losing it.
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.
Guy Dineen K1GBD
TC Cison W9TAC
David Hauser K5UTX
Howard Test KJ5CXK
Brian Huddleston AD5HC
RWK Membership – 350 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.
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 2023 by the Richardson Wireless Klub 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
Activities – Bob Hill KG5WRY
Public Service – Don Klick KG5CK
Education – Shawn Prestridge KI5PXG
Youth – Joe Hammond N1JOE
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.