September 21 Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Club SWAP MEET at DeLaveaga
CAKE notes for August 24 2019
What a very pleasant surprise; we had two ladies join us today Roberta AJ6KN (extra class licensee), and Karen (waiting on her extra class license) We appreciate their talent and enthusiasm. Congratulations and welcome to you both.
Also in attendance were Richard K8SQB,Gary K6PDL, Ray KF6GPE,Steve K6SBW,Arthur KE6DRD, Richard W1WUH, Glen KG0T, and your scribe Ron W6WO. Our typical CAKE QRM was S9 and Ron was frankly rather overwhelmed at times by the several topics being discussed simultaneously.
We expect no CAKE session to be devoid of antenna discussion and today it centered around operating mobile/portable. The inverted wire vee for portable HF seems hard to beat as is a J-pole for mobile VHF/UHF. Grand Master W4RNL (SK) gave particular attention to J-poles, contact Ron for a copy of his study. A multi-band HF vertical is hard to beat for small spaces. Karen was interested in learning more about popular radios. As just one option Ron suggested looking at a Yaesu FT857D’.
Glen and Arthur had their heads together discussing the pros and cons of micro processors. An eavesdropper (like Ron) might be interested to learn that a microprocessor costing $10 may be considered expensive. Glen has much to share on the topic of their hardware and programming. How about a talk on the subject Glen?
Arthur showed an item he has made of the kind one sees being worn at Ham Fests. It was a matrix of about 10×10 LEDs I assume it can be programmed to display messages. How about a demo Arthur? BTW I have just been reading about a competition to create a game limited to 10 lines of BASIC code. It is now an annual event with contestants in 20 countries.
We discussed some strange behavior of modern batteries. For example batteries used in my hearing aid must be exposed to air before installation. In another example Ron recently had portable device which showed no sign of life. It seemed reasonable to suspect the battery so the existing 4V NiMH item was replaced with a new one from a sealed package. The device only reacted by showing a low battery condition. The issue was to suspect the battery or the device. In times of stress an English man’s answer is a tea-break, after which both the device and owner recovered. Go figure !
73 BCNU Ron W6WO
FYI The next regular session wil be on September 14 which I will be unable to attend
DXpedition to use FT8 robot?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
It’s inevitable. At some point, machines are going to render humans irrelevant. It’s been a recurring theme in science fiction since before I was born (1955), and there are numerous predictions of the Singularity, the point in time when machines will be smarter than human, occurring between 2030 and 2045.
It may happen in amateur radio sooner than we think. A couple of days ago, one of my readers, sent me a link to a blog post by John, AE5X: Automated FT8 “FoxBot” in upcoming DXpedition – confirmed. He wrote:
“A DXpedition to Tokelau will take place from 1 to 11 October and it will be your chance to work an FT8 robot operating in Fox/Hound mode.
“Stathis SV5DKL has been working on a “FoxBot” for some time now, is listed as a partner to this DXpedition and has confirmed that the DXpedition will be using his FoxBot.”
John has since updated this post, noting “The SV5DKL logo has now been removed and the DX team will be in ‘full compliance’ with the mode.” Full compliance meaning following the rules set up by the ARRL DXCC rules.
The ARRL is, of course, against the use of robots. A recent ARRL Letter noted:
“ARRL has incorporated changes to the rules for all ARRL-sponsored contests and DXCC, prohibiting automated contacts and requiring that an actual operator is initiating and carrying out a contact. These changes also apply to Worked All States (including Triple Play and 5-Band WAS), Fred Fish W5FF Memorial, and VUCC awards. The changes are effective immediately and affect the rules for both HF contests, and VHF/UHF contests as well as DXCC.
“A resolution at the July ARRL Board of Directors meeting pointed to ‘growing concern over fully automated contacts being made and claimed’ for contest and for DXCC credit. The rules now require that each claimed contact include contemporaneous direct initiation by the operator on both sides of the contact. Initiation of a contact may either be local or remote.”
As AE5X says, however, the use of FT8 robots in the future is a certainty. Sooner or later, some DXpedition is going to use an FT8 robot without saying anything about it. How is the ARRL going to know that a DXpedition is using robots if the DXpedition operators don’t tell them?
I’m wondering when some DXpedition is going to give up on SSB and CW altogether. Why bother with those modes when you can make hundreds or thousands more contacts by just operating FT8?
Another thought just occurred to me. If the ARRL gets its way and Techs are awarded HF digital privileges, how long will it take for some enterprising Tech to make the DXCC Honor Roll using FT8 exclusively. Oh, the horror of it all!
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and often appears on the ICQPodcast (icqpodcast.com). When he’s not wondering when robots are going to take over the world, he likes to (manually) operate CW on the HF bands.
CAKE Crumbs July 27, 2019
Greetings one and all Having just returned from my annual family visits I am pleased to be back in the saddle (or is it Harness?)
Delighted to have some new members with us David KN6DHW and Arthur KE6DRD.Plus some familiar faces. Richard K8SQB, Steve K6SBW ,Gary K6PDL. Rene K6XW and Glen KG0T both made special efforts which is much appreciated. Glen waswilling to find out something on the uP used in the QRPLabs U3S digital mode beacon as it could he problem in the U3S Ron made about a year ago
David is considering a vacation by train and asked about Ham Radio en route. A dual band VHF/UHF fm radio is well worth having and I suggest checking the directory for repeaters en-route.
Gary has installed a back-up camera in his car which appears to do the job at a modest price. I am considering doing something similar as rear-view visibility in my Honda FIT is very poor.
Arthur came up with a mystery involving the behavior of a strip of Power Poles. True to our hobby the case was opened for inspection and testing, a faulty LED was located.
There was some conversation on antique instruments and radios, which I missed. Rene is the go-to expert on all such items
We have usually met twice/month on the second and fourth Saturdays however I wlll not be attending the next session on the 24th.
Have more fun 73
BTW I just had a birthday and became a 16 year-old boy with 70 years experience
Can you copy at 20 words per minute by hand?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
About a month ago, this email from the ARRL was send to the CWOps mailing list:
From: Fusaro, Norm W3IZ [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2019 4:00 PM
Subject: W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate
Greetings Morse Code Enthusiasts.
I have some exciting news that I want to share with you! The ARRL has reinvigorated the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate program. Several things have changed beginning with our new sponsor, Vibroplex, a legend in Morse telegraphy equipment. If you see Scott Robbins W4PA and the Vibroplex team at a hamfest or convention please be sure to thank him for his support. The Vibroplex logo will appear on the newly designed certificates (see below) and in the award recipient page that will appear every month in QST.
That’s right, each month in QST we will publish the most recent recipients of the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate, beginning with all the 2019 recipients. As a bonus, we are sending all the 2019 CPC holders a new certificate at no cost to replace their older style award.
The award is available to anyone who copies one solid minute of code during the qualifying runs. Complete program details can be found on the web at http://www.arrl.org/code-proficiency-certificate.
And to make the award available to more people we will double the number of opportunities to copy the CW text. Beginning September 2019, the qualifying runs will increase from twice per week to four times per week.
I am sharing this advanced notice with the Morse code clubs so that you can share it with your members. I have attached PDF files of the new certificate and the announcement that will appear in August QST, available in digital format July 8. I hope you are as excited about this as I am.
In closing, I want personally thank all of you who promote the use and proficiency of Morse code on the air waves and ask that you challenge your club members to submit their copy for the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate.
Norm Fusaro, W3IZ
Director of Operations
Almost immediately after I posted this to my blog (at KB6NU.Com), my friend, Paul, KW1L, replied, “How does one copy legibly at 40 wpm?” When I replied, “Typing,” he countered, “On page 98 of the July 2019 QST, it says, ‘Legibly copy at least 1 minute of text by HAND…’”
To this, I replied, “Well, I guess you and I are both screwed then. I can’t copy by hand at 20 wpm, and it’s really not worth it to me to practice and get that fast. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this regard. The upshot is that the ARRL is going to be sending out a lot fewer of these Vibroplex certificates than they think.”
I then emailed W3IZ for a clarification. He shot back, “By hand is to mean not using a code reading machine.” I suggested that he clarify this, both on the ARRL website and in QST. Of course, they haven’t yet taken my suggestion, and the website still reads, “Copy one of W1AW’s qualifying runs and submit one minute of solid copy (legible).”
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and is one of the presenters the ICQPodcast (ICQPodcast.Com). Feel free to reply to his CW CQs at any speed you so choose.
NOTE: You can find an image of the new certificate at https://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-Code-Proficiecncy-Certificate-Vibroplex-768×597.jpg
Field Day: Thanks to all club members!
- CW Captain: John AC6SL
- Digital Captain: Craig N6SBN
- Food Captains: Angie KM6BHX and Robert KB6QXM
- GOTA Captain: Ray W6LPW
- Info Station staffing: Gary and others
- NTS Messages: Bert KG6MBA and Cap KE6AFE
- Phone Captain: Tom W6TJK
- Recycling/Garbage Disappearance: Roy KF6KVD and Becky KI6TKB
- Satellite Captain: John KJ6ZL
- Safety Officer: Gary K6PDL
- VHF Captain: Richard K8SQB
Getting loaded (antenna-wise, anyway)
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
A couple of years ago, I homebrewed a “Cobra” antenna (https://www.kb6nu.com/yet-another-new-antenna-the-cobra/). It’s a doublet antenna, meaning that it consists of two elements connected to a center insulator, where it connects to a feedline. The unique thing about the Cobra antenna is that each element consists of three parallel conductors connected in series.
My antenna uses a lightweight, three-conductor rotor cable that used to be available from Radio Shack. The feedline is 450 Ω ladder line that connects to an antenna tuner to give me multi-band operation.
Connecting the conductors in this way is is supposed to provide “linear loading.” Somehow, running the conductors in parallel is supposed to increase the antenna’s effective length. My antenna is only 73-ft. long, but it easily tunes up on 80m.
The ARRL Antenna Book has a short section on linear loading. It says that linear loading is a “little understood” alternative to inductive loading that can be applied to almost any type of antenna. Furthermore, “…it introduces very little loos, does not degrade directivity patterns, and has low enough Q to allow reasonably good bandwidths.”
As I mentioned, I’ve been using this antenna with good results for a little more than two years now. When I first put it up, someone mentioned the concept of linear loading to me, but not being an antenna guru, I didn’t ‘give it much thought. About a week ago, though, I ran across a link to the page Short Ham Antennas for HF (https://www.hamradiosecrets.com/short-ham-antennas.html). That got me thinking about the topic again.
This page describes a way to build a linearly-loaded dipole antenna with a feedpoint impedance of approximately 35 Ω. This allows you to feed it with coax instead of the ladder line that I use. The author uses 390 Ω ladder line for the elements. He says it’s commonly available, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen 390 Ω ladder line. You could probably use 450 Ω ladder line by adjusting the element lengths a little.
At that point, I started Googling. The next linear-loaded antenna design that I ran across is a design from M0PZT (http://www.m0pzt.com/40m-linear-loaded-dipole/). He built his elements from some sturdy wire and homebrewed spacers made from PVC pipe. He’s used this design for the 40m elements of a fan dipole covering the 40m, 20m, 15m, and 12m bands. Only the 40m elements are linear-loaded.
I also found a design for a linear loaded vertical antenna for 40m and 80m (https://www.qsl.net/pa3hbb/ll.htm). This antenna is only 7.736m, or 25.4 ft. tall. Of course, it requires a good radial system to work well, but it will work a lot better for DX than a low doublet or dipole.
Finally, there’s an eHam discussion on linear loading (https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?topic=84418.0). Unlike a lot of eHam discussions, this one is quite civil. It’s worth reading if you’re interested in the topic.
So, if you’re thinking of getting loaded, errrrr, I mean loading your antennas, here’s a method for you to consider. It works!
Congratulations to Gary Watson, K6PDL
Congratulations to Gary Watson, K6PDL, for his volunteer communications workon our behalf. For his work with County OES, Gary is scheduled to be recognized with a Outstanding Volunteer Award at the County Board of Supervisors meeting at 10AM on March 16th. And Gary has just received his Certificate of Successful Course Completion for the ARRL’s advanced course, “Public Service and Emergency Communications Management for Radio Amateurs (EC-016).” Gary is our first local ham to complete this training course.
Now Gary qualifies as Level 3 in the new 2019 national “ARES Plan.”
73, Cap KE6AFE
Photos from SCCARC Annual Holiday Celebration
Saturday December 15 at the Capitol Ihop.
David Shoaf KG6IRW, SK
I am very sad to announce that one of our club members is SK.
David Shoaf (KG6IRW) passed last Thursday, Nov. 29th after a short, but valiant, battle with cancer.
Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to David’s family, his wife Sharon, and David’s son, and grandchildren.
Davidl appeared at a CAKE meeting in October, and Ron (W6WO) commented on how everyone was delighted and happy to see him attend the meeting. David had a way of making a conversation light up, especially when he talked of the hobby he enjoyed, and the equipment he supported. Always an ambassador of fun, David’s contribution to any conversation was appreciated, and interesting.
I met David around 2011 when he attended the K6BJ Club meetings, and he soon became a semi-regular at CAKE meetings. Elecraft soon occupied much of his time, where he became their chief support and event manager.
Through a series of conversations, David and I came to find out that we had crossed paths many times in life. From our shared background working at Hewlett Packard (David for over 20 years), at events when he was representing Elecraft (Dayton, Friedrichshafen, and Visalia), and at his other passion of playing at local musical events, like Bocci’s Cellar and other locations around town. One of my favorite times to say Hi to David was as a runner in the Wharf-to-Wharf 10K race. My annual visit to him was punctuated by a quick wave, and a shouted ‘73’ as I ran past, while he played for the participants, and waved back.
David spent his time helping others. Setting up an HF station, giving inspiring talks to the club on a variety topics like Amplifiers and upcoming digital technologies. In one talk on JT-65 (I still have the link to his slides), not only did he tell us about it, he actually went to peoples shacks (including mine) to get them up and running! All you had to do was ask.
Storytelling by David was still one of the greatest joys in being around him. His smooth voice incorporated a warm southeastern style, with a little mischief. It was his signature on (and off) the air. When you got him talking, you also found out about his audiophile and engineering background, and his joy just talking to folks. David always had an ease and grace in making you feel like you were his friend, even if you only just had met him. There we many stories told at events, but none where so special to him when he proudly talked about his son as a pilot in the Air Force, and David working him on HF while in flight.
I’ll miss a David as a Ham, a musician, but most of all a friend.
It is unknown at this time if a celebration of life will be held, but please let everyone know if there will be one.
I am sure there will be some wonderful stories, good laughs, and warm friendships continued and created. Something David would enjoy.
73, de Don K6GHA
Some Images from the December 8 CAKE Meeting
Field Day 2018 at Ben Lomomd CDF Camp
Reminiscent of John Reihart’s break though in 1922/3
First USA – EU amateur QSO on 2200m, used QRP Labs Ultimate3S transmitter at both stations
It’s always nice to be able to report unusual uses of the well established Ultimate3S QRSS/WSPR/etc transmitter kit. The majority of constructors use the kit for WSPR. But it can transmit lots of other modes too! CW, FSKCW, DFCW, QRSS, Hell, Slow-Hell, JT9, JT65, ISCAT, Opera, and PI4. In all their various flavours. DFCW is very slow CW, sending Morse characters but with both “dit” and “dah” having the same duration; to differentiate between them there is a frequency shift so that the “dah” is typically 5Hz higher than the “dit”. It has a very high signal to noise ratio when long symbol durations are used.
Chris 2E0ILY and Paul N1BUG report the first ever USA – EU amateur radio QSO on 2200m band (136kHz band), on 26-Mar-2018. They used DFCW mode with 60 second dits and a frequency shift of 0.25Hz permitting a very high signal to noise ratio. 60 second dits in normal CW would mean about 1 word per HOUR!
Chris and Paul both used their Ultimate3S kits to transmit the DFCW messages. Antennas are necessarily electrically short on 2200m, and so typically high powers are used. Paul N1BUG says he uses a home-made single FET Class E power amplifier, with 175-200W output; the EIRP is estimated at no more than 0.5W. His antenna is a 27m tall vertical with 3x 33m parallel top hat wires spaced 1.5. The receiver is a 9m tall low noise vertical feeding home made band pass filter, pre-amp and Software Defined Radio. Paul says:
“We used an old technique of night by night transmission sequencing and completed the QSO in four nights which is the minimum possible with this method. This QSO would not have been possible without Chris’s kindness and dedication nor without my trust U3S!”
“The receiver is a modified Softrock Lite II. The oscillator has been reworked to provide a suitable LO for 2200m reception, the front end filter reworked and significantly augmented. It is preceded by a 2N5109 preamp and BPF.”
More details are on Paul’s website http://www.n1bug.com/lfmf/
The pictures below show Paul’s Ultimate3S, and Chris 2E0ILY’s transmission mberswith the “O” signal report as received by Paul N1BUG.
Congratulations to Paul N1BUG and Chris 2E0ILY on this achievement!