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Happy Holidays

As we move into 2018, it is time to remember the past, look to the future, and be thankful. I would like to thank those who guided the SCCARC’s ship for the past year. Please take the time to acknowledge and thank them for their service when you see them.

President, Cap Pennell, KE6AFE
Vice president, Don Anastasia, AA6W
Secretary, David Copp, WS2I
Treasurer, John Gerhardt, N6QX
Board member, Linda Bittner, K6GRL
Board member, Allen Fugelseth, WB6RWU
Board member, David Steinbruner, WB6DWP
Board member, Gary Watson, K6PDL
Board member, past president, Suellene Petersen, K6CPA

With the K6BJ clubs annual elections behind us, I would like to thank the NEW batch of Officers and Board Members for stepping forward to sail the ship. We are all looking for your ideas and recommendations on club speakers, activities, and/or focused events, so please feel free to share them with any board member thought the year or when we introduce ourselves at the first general club meeting in January.

In case you haven’t met the new inductees, here is a list and short introduction to the new group of Officials and BoD.

Don Taylor K6GHA (President)
First Licensed: 2007 then graduated to Extra Class in 2008
Areas of HAM Interest: HF Radio, Contesting fanatic, Disaster Services volunteer, and into collecting ham stuff that glows.
Affiliations: ARRL, ARES, SLVARC, Northern Cal Contest Club (NCCC), IDXC Convention Contest Academy
Other Bio Info: Acquired my Dad’s call (Vanity). Born and raised in Santa Cruz, USAF, Harbor High, Cabrillo, and SJSU. I’m the trustee of NG6O.

Becky Steinbruner, KI6TKB (Vice President)
First Licensed: First licensed in 2008 and now holds a General Class ticket.
Area of HAM Interest:
Amateur radio ambassador thought Community Service. Community leader and advocate through emergency service in Aptos and Santa Cruz communities during 2013 wildfire evacuation by using Amateur Radio to communicate with family, neighbors and activation of local shelters.
Affiliations:
SCCARC, ARES, CERT, Santa Cruz Red Cross
Other Bio Info:
Proudly supporting a family of Hams; Husband Dave WB6DWP, son Stu KI6TKA, and daughters Greta KI6NTL and newest HAM Bria KM6HBM, active in the community and community government. 

Linda Bittner, K6GRL (Secretary)
First Licensed: Technician license in 2004 with call KG6WWZ. Upgraded to General in 2006, and to Extra in 2007, with a change in call to K6GRL.
Area of HAM Interest: HF contacts and contests, and digital modes.
Affiliations:
Member of ARRL Maxim Society, MBARA, NPSARC, MOCO ARES; W5YI and ARRL VE for SBARA, SARA, and PACIFICON.
Other Bio Info:
Resided in the Monterey Bay area since 1992.

Cap Pennell, KE6AFE (Treasurer)
First Licensed: 1993
Area of HAM Interest: For fun, using APRS and email by ham radio (Winlink). To help setup and operate Winlink I’d like to visit hamshacks with MS Windows computers.
Affiliations: Member of several local ham clubs and ARRL and ARES.
Other Bio Info: Family came to Santa Cruz County in 1964. Retired from State of California in 2002.

Allen Fugelseth, WB6RWU (Board Member)
First Licensed:
1967 then graduated to Extra Class
Area of HAM Interest: I enjoy building projects.  I am almost constantly designing and building something. I have built a microwave station and made some contacts from atop Loma Prieta. I would like to learn and build more digital projects. 
Affiliations:
I am the trustee for K6BJ and W6TUW. I am a member of the SLVARC, 50MhzAndUp, Microwave Users Group in the UK, and member of ARRL.
Other Bio Info:
I am a life member of SCCARC K6BJ. I started attending meetings when I was a teenager.

Dale Thomas, KC6ICM (Board Member)
First Licensed: 1990 from Art Lee’s class at Cabrillo.
Area of HAM Interest:
Just moving back to the area, and rekindling interest in Amateur Radio.
Affiliations:
Retired Branciforte Fire District Fire Chief (1984)
Other Bio Info:
At an early age developed an interest in listening to “dx” AM stations, leading to High School electronics class and hands on Ham Radio under supervision.

Ned Rice, N6ZOZ (Board Member)
First Licensed: 1992 Tech currently General N6ZOZ. Original Call KE6ZOZ
Area of HAM Interest:
Handheld and mobile 2 meter and 440 mostly, APRS, slow scan video. Public service and events
Affiliations:
Current Board Member of K6FB
Other Bio Info:
Past SCSO Search and Rescue Team (Explorers) then went on to Volunteer Fire Fighter in Bonny Doon. Retired as a Captain. My High school Teacher (Dan White) and I were friends until his passing. He introduced me to Ham Radio. Over the years, Ham radio has been a big part of my adult life. Before my Dad passed away, I was able to share with him my passion. He and I attended two different classes together, once to get his license as a Tech then again as a General. Taking these classes together help build our adult relationship, since my dad’s passing my sister acquired his Vanity call. At some point, I want to get more into satellite communications and possibly volunteer testing and teaching.

Please welcome the new Officers and Board for 2018. We are looking forward to a lot of fun setting sail with you, and representing you, in the New Year.

SCCARC 2018 President,
Don K6GHA

 

 

CAKE  Notes for Nov 25, 2017

Those attending today were Richard W1WUH, Fred KJ6OOV, Eric  KK6IZY,Warren NR0V, Glen KG0T and Ron W6WO. This is truly a group with such a wide range of knowledge that two hours of concentrated discussion could only scratch the surface of any one topic. Fred showed a professional VHF folded dipole which he rescued from a dump. It was part of an array of dipoles that incorporated impedance matching achieved with sections of coax within the tubing. As many know Ron can become unBalUnced when coax is involved and must resist beating his chest. Forgive but how would you answer this. Given two sections of cable, one twin lead and the other coax.  Which could be described as a balanced transmission line?  Answer at the end of this note.

The conversation today had much to say about connectivity. Ron bemoaned the need to have special cables and connectors, for example the 8pin DIN connector on a typical radio and the USB connector now standard on PCs. One day we woke up and parallel ports were gone followed by serial ports what next, fiber Bluetooth ?. Glen made a kind offer to explain and assist. Eric showed a diabolical mix of connectors associated with powesupply and other subsystems in his PC. The tour of his Lenovo P51 thinkpad laptop was quite simply astounding.

Both Eric and Warren described some of the precautions they take to safeguard their data. Warren mentioned his recent work developing
software to take care of anomalies  affecting High Performance SDR behavior due to the buffering and reading of data packets. Warren is a true pioneer,  builder and problem solver.

Now to the question.  The answer is both as they are inherently balanced. The twin lead is obvious but ideal coax will carry exactly differential E and H fields internally ie balanced conditions. Consider a 50 Ohm coax terminated in two 25 Ohm non radiating resistors in series with their junction connected to some reference point. No common mode current will flow back to the source via  the reference point. It is radiation from an unbalanced system or antenna (most are to one degree or another) and the shielding property of the outer conductor that causes common-mode feedline current and radiation.  An even more engaging question is,  if it does why
should we care ?

Our next CAKE date is Dec 9 which is the date for our Club dinner at 6 PM stay tuned for details

73   Vibrate effectively
Ron  W6WO

 

FT-8: I’m not really feeling the magic

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU        

Partly out of curiosity and partly because Jeff, KE9V, shamed me into it, I setup my Signalink interface, downloaded WSJT-X from https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html, and started operating FT-8, the latest “shiny object” (as the ARRL dubbed it) from the K1JT team. As you probably know, this mode has really caught on with the digital crowd, and the waterfall is chock full of FT-8 signals. Part of the reason for this is that it has some of the characteristics of JT-65, but is not as excruciatingly slow.

  A waterfall display generated by WSJT-X at 7:30 pm, 11/23/17.

ft-8-waterfall-20171123

Over the past couple of days, I’ve made 32 QSOs, including a couple of DX contacts. It’s been fun to try something new, but to be honest, I’m not really feeling the magic.

Part of it is that I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything. I downloaded the software, plugged in my digital interface, fooled around with the settings a bit, and then, the computer started making contacts. I have to click a few on-screen controls to make contacts, but even that’s a step that could be easily programmed in by the WSJT-X developers. (In fact, I wonder why they haven’t done that already!)

  WSJT-X screenshot. The sequence of transmissions in the Rx Frequency window comprises a contact.

Take a look at the screenshot above to see how a typical contact happens. When a CQ appears in the “Band Activity” window, you double click on it. When you do this, the software begins listening for signals on that frequency. In this case, I double-clicked on the CQ by WA9THI. When I double-clicked on the CQ, the program began decoding signals on that frequency and display the transmissions in the “Rx Frequency” window.

 

WSJT-X screenshot. The sequence of transmissions in the Rx Frequency window comprises a contact.

Then, I clicked on “Enable TX” and the program began the contact sequence, sending “WA9THI KB6NU EN82.” EN82 is my grid designator. This is shown as the first yellow line in the Rx Frequency window. The transmissions that I sent are highlighted in yellow. The transmissions sent by WA9THI are highlighted in red.

The sequence of transmissions shown there comprise a complete contact, and that whole process takes less than two minutes. And, once WA9THI received my first transmission, the sequence is all automatic. You just sit there and watch the two computers talk to one another.

While I can certainly appreciate the thought and the work that went into the design of the protocol and programming to implement it, sitting and watching the computers talk to one another just doesn’t excite me. On the other hand, if you’re one of those guys who wants to make contacts, but doesn’t really want to talk to anyone, than this is the mode for you!

Here are a few more notes about FT-8 operation:

  • Not surprisingly, synchronizing your computer with the other stations computer is very important. To do that, you need to get your computer to use the network time protocol (NTP). I failed to do this when I first installed WSJT-X, and while my waterfall was full of FT-8 signals, WSJT-X just wouldn’t decode them.
  • I got my PC laptop to talk ntp by installing Meinberg NTP software (http://www.ntp.org/ntpfaq/NTP-s-def.htm). Once I did that, WSJT-X magically started decoding transmissions.
  • Most of the cool guys seem to be using Meinberg NTP, but there are other options. One of the guys in our club is using a program called Dimension 4, for example.
  • Apparently, you don’t have to limit your power output as you would with PSK-31. At first, I set my output power to 10 W. I had a bit of success at 10 W, but I expected more. When I asked on Twitter how much power other guys were using, most of them said that they were using more than that.
  • For the last couple of sessions, I’ve been setting my output power to 25 W, and I’ve been having more success. I’ve now worked several Europeans on 30m.
  • Even at 25 W, my signal reports are more often than not not as good as the signal reports I’m handing out. I haven’t figured this one out yet. This doesn’t happen to me when I’m operating CW, so I don’t think it’s my antenna.
  • When I’m operating, I write down the calls of stations I’ve contacted. The reason for this is that while WSJT-X does have a logging function, it doesn’t have a log window, so unless you have a great memory, you could end up working guys two or three times a session. That’s probably not a big deal since contacts are so quick, but I’d rather avoid doing that if I can.
  • WSJT-X works “split.” While most contacts take place on the same frequency, a station can call you anywhere in the passband of your receiver and WSJT-X will decoded the signal and begin a contact. This threw me the first time or two that this happened, and I tried to change my transmit frequency to match the other station’s. In doing so, I messed up the sequence. I now just let the contact proceed normally, and it works out great.
  • When I work the other digital modes, I set my IC-746PRO to the USB-D mode. In this mode, the receive passband is narrower than for working phone. When operating FT-8, however, you don’t want to limit that passband. Signals will appear across the entire 2.6 kHz of the USB signal, and if you narrow the passband, you won’t be able to work those stations.
  • WSJT-X checks the validity of call signs. This afternoon, there was a guy who had typed in his call as “WAMAD” and was calling CQ. WSJT-X wouldn’t let me answer that CQ.
  • Operating this mode opens up the possibility of working more stations whose callsigns spell words and adding those QSL cards to my collection. I have, for example, already worked K1GUY, N4HER, and N5SLY. I’m guessing that these guys don’t operate CW.

All told, I’ve found this to be an interesting foray into a new digital mode. While I’m not feeling the magic that some others seem to be feeling when operating FT-8, it certainly will be a change of pace to operate this mode from time to time. Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

Dan, KB6NU, is the author of the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides and blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com. When he’s not working FT-8, he teaches ham radio classes and operates CW on the HF bands. You can email him at cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

 

 

CAKE  Crumbs notes Nov 11/2017

Those present on this cool bright morning were Fred KJ6OOV,Gary K6NUL,Kerry K3RRY, Peter K6UNO, Glen KG0T, Cap KE6AFE, Reed N1WC, Don K6GHA, Jim K9YC, Richard W1WUH and your scribe Ron W6WO.There was never a dull moment as could be expected with such a group.

We love exhbits of any technology and era. Today the most unusual was a Norden bombsight gyroscope that Peter supplied. It weighed several pounds and clearlly was remarkable engineering. Peter remarked how the era often combined sophisticated engineering,with rudimentary technology. Today, of course, a gyroscope might well be included in a cell phone.

Kerry showed a handsome APRS Tracker from Byonics, enclosed in a Pelican 1030 case  plus a battery isolator. Don K6GHA showed a solar powered project called “Lighting for Literacy”. This poject is aimed at children in 3rd World Countries and built in part by schoolchildren here. Fred showed pictures of a Yagi antenna that he had rescued, recycled and modified for 2meters and some astounding atronomical images he had recentlycaptured .

Ron mentioned a DIY project described in the recent IEEE Spectrum magazine which was a cordless temperature controlled soldering iron. A rapidly evolving (dare I say Penomenon) called Block Chaining is claimed will likely affect many aspect of our lives. It involves BitCoin encryption, dataprocessing and networking on a global scale.  The Chinese have a huge bitcoin vault and the amount of energy used in this facility meant it had to be built where energy was local and cheap, as in Mongolian coal powered generation plants.

Some other threads of discussion were discerned. Kerry’s preparations for Iron Man. Fred spoke of his dislike for end-fed antennas wheras Ron thinks they are generally maligned (a topic for another day!

Have you noticed that some topics rise to the surface in several forms, almost simultaneously. Ron mentioned he had recently read the report on Noise by Jim K9YC and the following day later checked into a Webinar on the topic of Automobile Electromagnetic Compatibility. This presentation is now available in the archive of Computer Simulation Technology and is highly recommended because of its general relevance to Ham Radio. You have to create MyCST account. A recent development is a new device from Xilinx called the ZyNq, it combines separate processors, one for serial procesing and a FieldProgrammable Gate Array FPGA for fast Digtal Signal Processing. See QEX Nov/Dec 2017.

Finally: Glen we appreciate the effort that you made to be with us and wish you a speedy and complet recovery from your injuries

With apologies for any errors or omissions

73 Ron W6WO

 

 

 

 A New Tradition for Field Day?