What does ARES say about Volcanos?!
By Don K6GHA
I’ve been following the recent news in Hawaii, and through contesting I know a few folks in the southern part of the Big Island of Hawaii. I and a few local Amateurs around the bay, and in Santa Cruz, were concerned about some of the regulars that we talk to, or visit on an occasional trip to the islands. So I thought I would share a bit of what is going on, what ARRL is saying, and what local news is sharing.
You may know that the Leilani Estates, on the Big Island, is in the path of the lava flow, and is currently under evacuation, and headed toward the Ahalanui Park Warm Spings (soon to be known as a HOT pond instead of a warm spring!). Tom (KG6AO) has been over in the Islands in this location a lot. Thanks for the references.
Here’s a drone video: https://youtu.be/Gytkbx7Cf3U
Here’s a google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/35zhoczzyHr
I had heard of a few hams who may be in trouble based on the predictions of pending eruption, so I thought I would see how many hams were local to Leilani’s zip code, and within one area south. Doing a quick google search, I found a site that allows you to put in a zip code, and get back a list of call signs registered in that code. http://www.radioqth.net/ziplookup Amazingly, there are over 115 Amateurs local to that area of Leilani Estates. Take a look and see if you know anyone!
Right next door (next zip code south), there are over 120 additional registered Amateurs and club calls. This includes one of Santa Cruz’s past club members, Lloyd Cabral is KH6LC. He is one of Hawaii’s top contesters, so I was a bit more concerned about him. Talking with Tom (KG6AO) I found out Loydd is currently is in good shape, but I have heard that his water supply may be showing signs of Sulphur Dioxide intrusion. This might be because of the volcanic activity.
“Two informal informational nets remain open on the island of Hawai’i (“The Big Island”) in the wake of recent and ongoing volcanic eruptions and seismic activity, Pacific Section Emergency Coordinator Clement Jung, KH7HO, reports. No formal traffic has been passed, but frequencies are being monitored. “All normal communications, i.e., cell, land-line phones, Internet, and public safety, are operational,” Jung told ARRL.
The Kilauea volcano on The Big Island erupted on May 3, spewing lava and venting high levels of sulfur dioxide. An Amateur Radio net is open on 7.088 MHz (SSB), and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) 146.720 MHz repeater (100 Hz tone) on Mauna Kea was activated after Hawaii’s governor issued an emergency declaration.”
You can tune in on 40 meters and listen if you want to hear the events as they unfold.
What would you do in a volcanic emergency?!?
Full House of Guest Speakers
By Don K6GHA
At our club meeting last Friday (April 20th), we had a trio of great presentations from club members, which kept the attention of all present!
It was a great evening covering a variety of subjects, and included a rousing Q&A session from the audience.
Jeff (AE6KS) kicked off a meeting with a presentation on his ADS-B receiver. This Raspberry-PI device captures aircraft beacon information and with software from Flight Radar 24 (https://www.flightradar24.com) allows you to see what your receiver can see! Pretty cool!
Glen (KG0T) asked a simple question… “What is SWR”. The answer was a little more complex, subjective, and educational! Taking a different approach, Glen shared his thoughts, calculations, and experince on what parts of SWR were important to focus on when considering its impact on your station.
Cap (KE6AFE) reminded us all that if the internet were to go down, with your radio, PC, and Winlink (https://winlink.org/ ), you can still have global email access! He recommends that everyone download Winlink Express (https://winlink.org/WinlinkExpress) and take advantage of the Forms that are included for emergency services and Radiogram messaging! Once you have downloaded it, send Cap an email!
I would like to thank Jeff, Glen, and Cap for jumping in at the last minute to present when a scheduled presenter couldn’t attend. It shows the professionalism, strength and breadth of knowledge in our club! Also a big thanks to Becky (K16TKB) for coordinating these great presenters.
Do you have an area of interest you would like to share? Contact the club Vice President, Becky KI6TKB.
CAKE Notes from April 28 2018
Those taking part were Gary K6PDL, Reed N1WC, Glen KG0T and Tom KW6S with Ron W6WO
The session was made special by the Home Brew projects shown by Tom. We have often seen his outstanding work but today what we saw was a collection, the like of which could hardly be surpassed. Tom admits he is a builder rather than a designer but tends to play down the exceptional engineering skill he always employs. The multi antenna switch was “best in show” and comprised a dense package of components, coax connectors, switches and wiring. The PCB traces were cut by hand using a Dremmel tool and “Dead-bug” construction was used; Manhattan would a better label to reflect the 3D nature.
Other projects were a high intercept amplifier, a HF-VHF transverter and a filter designed by Jim Tonne W4ENE (famous for his Elsie filter design software). Tom found it had more pass band loss than expected. Ron questioned the capacitors and will follow up withTom.
We had a fairly long discussion on the significance of the term “Low-dropout” as applied to linear DC regulators like the LM317. This is of interest to Ron who needs a very clean dual 12-5 volt supply for his N2PK VNA. This VNA is similar to a dual channel SDRreceiver with a dynamic range in the region of -140 dBc/Hz. Contrast this with the output noise levels delivered by linear regulators in the region of 20 to 40 micro volts RMS. A product made by OM3LZ was designed for this VNA and has exceptional performance and should be the way forward.
Ron showed graphs of the series inductive reactance, resistance and Q of a coil used in a 40m Hustler whip antenna. At DC the coil has a resistance of 0.5 Ohms which climbs to 500 Ohms at 10 MHz. Q decreases from about 100 at 50 KHz to less than 10 at 10MHz. We briefly discussed the amount of stray RF leaking through the shield of coax cable. A really good shield might be 98% so this at 1500W is potentially a 30 W noise source to adjacent receivers. It would be fun and quite easy to actually measure the degree of coupling between a pair of RG8, LMR cables etc.
The mystery item was a time-honored device about the size of a pencil with a ferrite tip at one end and a brass tip at the other, sorry no prizes. We touched briefly on the subject of maximum power transfer previously raised by Jim K9YC and will defer furthe discussion until the next time he is with us.
May 12 is our next regular session but I may have left for the annual visits back East by then. If so I wish you all a joyful and productive summer in whatever of our great hobby appeals to you. I hope you will continue these meetings in my absence and may yourhearts grow fonder.
73 Ron W6WO
Upcoming Field Day Planning Meetings
May 2nd FD Planning Meeting
The N2PK VNA
an International Ham Radio Success Story
Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers and tracking oscillators are scalar instruments which we have used
for decades so what's new? A VNA is distinguished by the ability to generate, detect and analyze
signals with very precise phase relationships. Prior to the mathematical analysis of electro-magnetic
fields by Clerk Maxwell, vector analysis was probably carried out by physical means.Today affordable
PCs can perform the complex math involved and custom software turns the data into a wide variety of
functions for analyzing the behavior of individual components, networks,transmission lines and
The VNA designed by Paul Kiciak N2PK is unique in several ways. First and foremost design details
and extensive documentation were made available to Radio Amateurs about 15 years ago at no charge.
It has been diligently supported by Paul with new versions as the technology evolved. It is designed as
a homebrew project for the serious builder and experimenter. The technical performance has been
compared to professional products from HP, Boonton and others and found to be very close indeed.
Paul's documentation begins with a few illustrations of precision. For example analysis of a leaded 3.3
Ohm ¼ watt 1% resistor at 40MHz had a resistance of 3.41 Ohms and inductive reactance of 3.3 Ohms.
The superior quality of the N2PK VNA has attracted and encouraged others to contribute their time and
expertise. The associated software and PCB designs are developed and supported by Hams elsewhere
in the US, England, Canada and Sweden. Paul likes to call it the N2PKetal VNA as it is truly an
international Ham Radio success story. Visiting Paul's web site N2PK.com is highly recommended.
I built mine about 14 years ago and used it extensively. One example of the incredible power of aVNA
and associated software is the measurement of common-mode rejection as described in the Nov/Dec
2010 issue of QEX. Recently my own VNA showed no sign of life and after verifying the DC supplies
were OK I concluded that new software drivers were required. For me this became a major challenge
but fortunately a most talented Ham coached me using TeamBuilder; once more proving that members
of our hobby help each other.
The VNA story is incomplete without describing the incredible software and to do so is now on my to-
Ron Skelton W6WO March 2018
“Alexa, help me with ham radio”
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
I have had an Amazon Alexa for nearly a year now. Mostly, I just use it to listen to internet radio stations or tell me a joke, but I think it has more potential than that. For example, I’ve written before about how I’d like to develop an Alexa skill to control my IC-7300. I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but, Joe, N3HEE, has just published an Alexa skill called Continuous Wave. It’s designed to help you learn Morse Code.
To use this skill, you have to first enable it. Once enabled, say, “Alexa, open Continuous Wave.” This opens the skill at the main menu. You can then say any of the following at any voice prompt…
- Common words
- Random words
- Call signs
- Quick Brown Fox
- Stop – To end your session.
I’ve just played around with this app for a short time, but I’ve found it to be quite entertaining. It does, however, have one big drawback. You can’t set the speed. It’s currently limited to sending at 20 words per minute only.
Also, the learn function could use a little refining. When you give the command “learn,” it asks you for a character, sends that character three times, and then asks you for another. If you could set the speed at which the skill sends characters, it could teach a character like the K7QO Code Course, first sending the character slowly, then ramping up the speed.
Overall, though, I think this is a great first shot at a usable Alexa skill for teaching Morse Code. I hope this is the first of many versions of this skill.
Other ham radio skills
While I was poking around on Amazon, I decided to see what other amateur radio skills might be available. Here are a few that I found:
- Ham Exam. Ask Alexa to ask you questions from the Technician Class question pool.
- Ham Lookup. Allows you to look up amateurs by call sign. Information is provided from the callbook.info database.
- Ham Radio Propagation Forecast. Reports the latest forecasts directly from HamQSL (run by N0NBH).
- ARRL Audio News. Adds ARRL Audio News to your Alexa flash briefing.
Building your own voice app
The Continuous Wave Alexa skill was developed using tools found at VoiceApps.Com. Two other websites—Pullstring and StoryLine—also have tools to help you build voice apps. And, Amazon has an online tutorial that will teach you how to build an Alexa app. I’m just getting started with these tools, so I can’t recommend one over the others, but they do look like they’ll make developing voice apps easier.
Since I’m currently in the process of updating my No Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide, it occurs to me that I should also develop an Alexa skill for drilling students on test questions. I guess you could call them audio flashcards. Stay tuned for that.
When he’s not trying to figure out how to build voice apps, Dan blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com, teaches ham radio classes, and operates CW on the HF bands. Look for him on 30m, 40m, and 80m. You can email him about the voice apps that you like at email@example.com.
CAKE Notes for April 14 2018
Ron arrived 5 minutes late and found the following well known subject-matter experts fully engaged in the sunny patio area of The Abbey. Glen KG0T, Don K6GHA, Gary K6PDL, Peter K6UNO, John N5HPB, Ward AE6TY and Tom KW6S. We were shortly joined by Jim K9YC and Cap KE6AFE. Sitting at the end of the long table made it more difficult than usual for Ron W6WO to hear every subject being discussed.
Don mentioned a Makers Fair to be held at Cabrillo College on May 5 and items from the Ham community would be welcome, contact Don for more info. The emphasis would be to show home-brew hardware /software items but also the excitement of modern Ham Radio in action. One suggestion was a sdr radio transmitting JTxx modes with PSK reporter or WSPR net showing a map of connections. Similarly we could demo Ham satellite and Balloon activity. Ron may be out of town on May 5th but offers assistance ahead of the event. Don reminds us that Field Day is soon approaching.
Once more John demonstrated his varied talents for designing and building just about anything. Today he showed a very neat QRP end-fed antenna tuner and in particular we admired his torroids. John is a mine of information about sources including Metric components and PCB fabrication. Decades agoTom KW6S established his reputation for R&D of many items Today it was a neat antenna selection switch. Tom has an Antenna farm in a small back yard which results in complex interaction between antennas and their feed lines. One indication of this issue was a copper shield included in his selection switch.
The topic of shielding often comes up and is currently of interest to Ron where a second N2PK VNA is under construction. Here the challenge is to have noise levels on the 5 and 12 VDC power sources so low as to not degrade the 100 dB+ dynamic range of the VNA. As we all know switching power supplies are noisy and require shielding from electric and possibly magnetic fields. The question we discussed was the choice of material to be used as a shield. Copper is commonly used because electrically induced currents are constrained by virtue of the skin-effect. Magnetic fields are only constrained by magnetic materials such as steel. Ron suggests a shield using tin plated steel could possibly benefit from the conductivity of tin and the magnetic permeability of steel. Can anyone propose an
appropriate test to quantify shield effectiveness?
The topic of noise was introduced by Jim in an entirely different context. It was asserted that applicability of the maximum power transfer theorem between a radio and an antenna was dubious. This resulted in a spirited discussion which amounted to debating whether a) Max power transfer is generally irrelevant b) Relevant only in the transmit path and c) Relevant in both directions. Thanks to Jim for this stimulating topic and welcome further discussion on this important subject at a future CAKE session. Warren’s NR0V assessment would be appreciated.
Cap showed us a list of our complete membership and a separate list of those who have not paid their dues. Frankly the high % of the latter is disappointing.
To all readers, please come and join us, or send in a question to Ron at any level of complexity All with be treated with respect at a future CAKE session.
73 Ron W6WO
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!
CAKE Notes March 24 2018
We welcomed Mike AJ4NR for the first time and were pleased to haven Richard K8SQB back with us. New minds and voices add so much to our discussions.
Gary K6PDL attends regularly as does Glen KG0T. Gary evidently knows a great deal about “drivers” and offered Ron some suggestions on how to proceed to update those associated with his N2PK Vector Network Analyzer. Unusually our session today included several topics concerning test instruments. Richard showed his newly purchased MetroVNA which is an attractive product about the size of a smart cellphone. It has a most useful frequency range from 0.1 to 256 MHz and gave an impressive demo of a short whip antenna SWR. We are keen to hear more about it in due course.
Ham radio Workbench has been mentioned previously and Mike has recently acquired one of their products, here is a summary of what is included. George from the Ham Radio Workbench states: “Every ham radio workbench needs an oscilloscope, waveform generator, voltmeter, data logger, logic analyzer, and spectrum analyzer. The Analog Discovery 2 includes all these and more in a compact USB connected device. These features are essential for designing and debugging audio amplifiers, filters, logic control circuits, power supplies, etc. The compact size makes it easy to take your workbench with you to the repeater site, DXpedition or the Field Day site”. We keenly await hearing more from Mike. In stark contrast we recalled the huge cost of early test gear,computers and memory.
Gary is enthusiastic about his hand-held Digital Mode Radio (not Digital Radio Mondial ) for talking around the world via a network of digital repeaters.. I think this would fit in well as a presentation on the alternatives such as Echolink, DSTAR, IRLP etc…
As is now the custom there was some intense discussion on Raspberry Pi and like products. Glen is our subject matter expert and mentioned a new
version , the Pi 3B+ It was seen as a fine way to enter the world of uproc programming at low cost. Ron met the inventors of the first 4 bit chip in the mid 70s and remains an interested listener to these discussions today.
There has never been a CAKE meeting without some discussions on antennas. True to form today Glen said he had found an EZNEC model of a small loopwhich Ron has been looking for. Richard had several questions including options for HF antennas while traveling, Ron expressed his opinion that a
telescopic fiber pole to support an inverted VEE is a simple and effective option for regional communications. A vertical quarter wave with some above ground “counterpoise” wires of some sort can be quite effective for DX This could include other features such as a base inductance and a series inductance at about 2/3 from the base. Such an antenna would be only 3dB less efficient than a full half wave radiator. Contact Ron for more info if interested.
Ron mentioned he was disappointed by the way the QEX Editor rejected two recent draft articles. Their policy to provide no further communications
is the antithesis of Hams trying to encourage one another. The Editor of QST may also have reasons for rejecting articles but gives much more help
in understanding the requirements. In short QST issues are likely to include construction details,list of materials etc.
That’s all the news fit to print 73 BCNU in 2 weeks if not before
Bonus When are you likely to find the first description of a VNA to measure common-mode rejection ?
Redwood Mountain Faire
As you may know, the Redwood Mountain Faire is a music festival that
happens the first weekend in June (June 2-3 this year).
It’s purpose is to raise money for Valley Non-Profits, and of course put
on some great music. The non-profits that contribute labor to the fair
get a proportional cut of the profits.
This year for the first time, the San Lorenzo Valley Emergency Network has
as offered to drive the three shuttle vans. The vans are to shuttle
performers, volunteers and some of the fair goers between parking lots in
Felton and the event.
What does this have to do with ham radio? We believe that being able to
coordinator the locations of the vans and requests for pickup by ham radio
will greatly improve the participants experience and give us some valuable
We need hams who have the standard, basic class C drivers license and
feel comfortable driving a van for a four hour shift. There will be
opportunities for breaks.
There are three shifts each day and you can volunteer for more than one.
Those that volunteer can spend the rest of the day at the fair for free,
if you volunteer for more than one shift, you can attend for both days
If you are interested please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org with your:
Sat, Sunday or both –
More than one shift? –
Thanks for your help & 73,
ARRL: How can we help?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
Recently, I received this email from a reader:
“Hope you’re doing well. I have a couple of questions about the ARRL. I’ve been reading your blog and other sources, and it’s clear that the ARRL is in a little trouble. I have to say, though, that as soon as the current administration in D.C. notices that some of their friends can make money off of amateur radio bandwidth, the whole amateur radio service is in very serious jeopardy. The only way I can think of to counter that would be an organization like the ARRL, and I think there’s really only one organization like the ARRL. Is that not true? If it is, how can we help?”
I replied that it is true that there’s only one organization like the ARRL. In the past, there have been groups that have tried to compete with the ARRL, but they’ve never really taken off. It’s an incredible amount of work to set up an organization like the ARRL and none of the alternates have been able to get to critical mass.
The second question—How can we help?—is the big question. Here are a few thoughts:
- Join the ARRL. If you’re not currently a member, join. You’ll have little or no influence, if you are not a member.
- If you are a member, but your friends are not, encourage them to join. The more members the ARRL has, the more influence it will have. This is common sense, but the ARRL doesn’t really seem to care about this. In the past, I’ve encouraged the ARRL to set a membership goal of 25% of licensed radio amateurs (link 1, link 2). I honestly don’t think this is asking too much, and I’ve never heard a good argument for them not to do this. They continue to ignore me, and the percentage of licensed radio amateurs that are ARRL members continues to decline.
- Take an interest in ARRL matters and let your director and vice director know your views. Get your friends to do likewise. Get on the mailing lists for the board meeting agendas and minutes. To do this, log into the ARRL website, click on “Edit your profile,” then “Edit email subscriptions.”
- Invite your ARRL elected officials—your division director, vice director, and section manager—to talk at your club meetings. Be prepared to grill them on issues that you think are important.
- Run for office yourself. I ran for Great Lakes Division vice director twice. Unfortunately, I lost both times, but even running is a way to have an impact. I’d like to see the “loyal opposition” get organized and challenge the status quo, especially in divisions where I think the current director is making bad decisions.
Having said all that, there are ways to make an impact besides playing ARRL politics:
- Get on the air. It’s easier to lose bands if we’re not using them. Encourage others to be active.
- Be an Elmer to those that need it.
- Teach classes to help those who want a license get a license and to help those who are already licensed to upgrade their licenses.
- Be an ambassador for amateur radio, especially to related groups, such as the “maker” groups that have sprung up around the country. Make sure that they know about your amateur radio club and the classes and exam sessions that you offer.
I’d love to hear any other thoughts that you all may have on this. I really do think that at this point, we need to inundate the ARRL Board and staff with input from the membership. While they may have a long history of ignoring the membership and just going about their own merry way, now is really a time of change, and this might be the right time to set the ARRL on a better path.
When he’s not getting all worked up over ARRL politics, Dan blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com, teaches amateur radio classes, and works CW on the HF bands. He’s the author of the No Nonsense amateur radio license study guides and The CW Geek’s Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code.
Club Meeting March 16…
Our guest speaker for the March meeting will be Ed Fong (WB6IQN). As many of you know, he is the inventor of the DBJ-1 and DBJ-2 antenna that was featured in the February 2003 and March 2007 QST. His most recent antenna was the TBJ-1 – a triband base antenna that was published in March 2017 QST. The DBJ-1 is a highly effective dual band VHF/UHF base station antenna and the DBJ-2 is the portable roll up version. The DBJ-2 won the QST Plaque of the Month Award. Both of these antennas are featured in the ARRL VHF antenna Handbook and also in the ARRL Antenna Classic Handbook. There are over 18,000 of these antennas in use today. About half are used by hams and the other half by government and commercial agencies. He will also give a brief discussion of his triband antenna (TBJ-1) that was featured in March 2017 QST.
Ed will give a history on how these antennas were developed and the theory on how and why they work so well. There is no “black magic” to antennas. He will explain in a non-mathematical manner why these antennas work so well.
This should be fun.
Ed Fong was first licensed in 1968 as WN6IQN. He later upgraded to Extra Class with his present call of WB6IQN. He obtained the BSEE and MSEE degrees from the Univ. of California at Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the Univ. of San Francisco. A Senior Member of the IEEE, he has 12 patents and over 40 published papers and books in the area of communications and integrated circuit design. Presently, he is employed by the University of California, Santa Cruz (previously with Berkeley from 1997-2010) as an instructor teaching graduate classes in RF design and high speed interface. In his 35 year career, he has done work for Stanford University, National Semiconductor, Advanced Micro Devices, numerous startup companies in the Silicon Valley.
CAKE Session March 10 2018
First off we were pleased to welcome Richard K8SQB with us for the first time and to learn he lives
just a few blocks from RonW6WO in Capitola. It is always a pleasure to have Bob K6XX with us fresh
from his visit to the Flea Market along with Don K6GHA and Reed N1WC. Also present were K6UNO
Kerry K3RRY, Eric KK6IZY, Jim K9YC and briefly Richard W1WUH .
Bob was pleased with his flea market purchase as it completed his collection of QSTs by finding
several missing issues for 1938. In one issue he found a card (postage paid) to become a member of
ARRL for $2.50. Worth a try Bob ? Another famous bargain hunter is Richard who showed a tuner for
receiving over the air TV that he found on Ebay for less than $20. You might make a set top Moxon
Beam for it Rich.
By now all will know we appreciate inquiring minds so when Eric and Kerry get their heads together
something interesting is going on. Today they had completely dis-assembled a combination padlock
and appeared to be changing its combination, it wasn't clear if this had any criminal intent. Don
produced a tiny device and our pair hazarded a guess it was for igniting electronic cigarettes.
Maybe you are wondering if we discussed anything specific to Ham Radio. Not to worry Jim was with
us and described in detail what he was doing with a variety of ferrite cores for baluns and transformers
.We are sure to learn more of his research using a vector network analyzer known as a VNWA 3E. Jim
also recommended a program called Zplots which converts VNA data into Excel spread sheets.
The term “proximity effect” was metioned by Jim and it is one not often heard, my ARRL hand book
makes no mention of it. I referred to my boyhood bible, Terman 4 th Edition and here it is described.
“When two or more conductors are in close proximity the current distribution in one is affected by the
magnetic flux produced by current in an adjacent conductor as well as the flux produced by the current
in the conductor itself. This effect causes the true resistance to be greater than due to simple skin effect
and is particularly important in RF coils”. Just as Jim told us!!
The VNA designed by N2PK and built by Ron (and OBTW also Warren NR0V) many years ago, has
been idle for quite some time (pre USB in fact). Putting it back in service is a current challenge. The
associated PC-based software called MyVNA was developed by Dave Roberts G8KBB. The many
common functions are easy to use but understanding all (such as trace arithmetic on S parameters)
would be equivalent to a degree in communications engineering. It may surprise to many that there was
a patent issued in the 1930s for a mechanical VNA used to measure common mode rejection (CM)
Recently Ron discovered that the characteristic impedance of RG58 was altered if the outer jacket was
removed (reason for finding this is another story). Two propositions were advanced to explain this
finding. One was that removal of the jacket relaxed the pressure between the braid and the internal
dielectric, the second was that by removing the jacket, E field leakage through the braid becomes
exposed to air instead of the higher dielectric constant of plastic. Other opinions are invited.
Jim described how he has been working with Frank W6JTI to activate an extremely rare grid square. If
I have it correctly it is CN70 located in a tiny spot on the coast near Shelter Cove. Getting there
requires backpacking down a steep trail, and of course the surrounding hills make any propagation
inland very difficult. A future presentation to the Club on such an adventurous expedition would be
very much appreciated.
There you have it gentle folk and I hope to meet again on the 24th
73 for now Ron W6WO
CAKE notes 2/24/18
Those present on this crisp cool morning were, John N5HPB,Kerry K3RRY, Glen KG0T, Peter K6UNO, Fred KG6OOV, briefly Gary K6PDL and Ron W6WO. We began with a review of two topics raised by Ward AE6TY on previous sessions. The first concerned limitations associated with the famous antenna modeling software NEC2. One question was the smallest size of loops that EZNEC can deal with. The documentation defines this being a circumference .05 of a wavelength. Can anyone find a model of a small loop? Previously Fred had shared information about possible errors when using verticals.
Ward had recently mentioned an interest in copper-steel wire and our conversation centered on reasons when such wire would be appropriate. It was concluded that for steel clad in copper, it would be to combine the tensile strength of steel with the lowest loss due to the skin effect of copper. Wires of this kind are often used for long wire antennas. In a
second form, strands of both steel and copper are combined. This combination is know for its dimensional stability and use in multi-element wire antennas like an X-beam.
Kerry described his interest in making a wind speed indicator and this resulted in a storm of ideas from John and Glen. John mentioned his interest in products coming from QRP Labs like their antenna analyzer and GPS module As always we discussed antennas, this time about those for deep space research. Ron wondered if a miniature steerable array could be constructed from a large number of tiny flat panels, individually addressable and with individual phase shifts; sort of RF IoT !
Our nod to antiquity was a discussion on early diodes and transistors. Fred mentioned his use of common electric house wire in building transmission line transformers. Subsequently Ron tested this wire and found that when taped as a flat pair their characteristic impedance was 116 Ohms.
There was some interest in field trips and one mentioned was Point Reyes. Let Ron know why you might be interested to go there or other locations.
The Radiation Therapy obtained at CAKE sessions is free, organic,sustainable, artisenal, non GMO, a known antidote for most ailments, and soon-to-be world-famous. Come join us on March 10th
We will miss Warren NR0V and wish him all the very best .
—73 Ron W6WO
Field Day Kickoff Meeting
A meeting was held on Wednesday, February 21st to begin discussions of Field Day operations for 2018. Approximately 11 people attended, including representatives from both SLVARC and SCCARC. This e-mail summarizes the discussions, conclusions, and actions assigned so far.
As in the past, we will conduct FD jointly between the two clubs, again at the CalFire Training Center on Empire Grade. The SCC Club has voted to allocate $300 for FD activity (primarily food). We have arranged to make the facility available, and will ensure gate access when we get closer to the event.
The default configuration is to have: one HF CW station, one HF SSB station, one HF Digital station, one VHF/UHF station, one GOTA station, and one Satellite station. However, John KJ6WKT has agreed to research the possibility of networking at least the HF stations using WiFi, with a central log server. In theory, this would allow any HF station to be used on any mode or band, since dupe checking could be performed across the set of stations. (This is the primary reason why we segregate stations, either by mode or band, so that dupes can be checked locally. We have done this once before, using wired Ethernet; WiFi has been problematic given the station separation on site. Also, N1MM+ networking requires careful pre-configuration of every station. We will consider this option only if it looks very promising.
HF CW Station: John AC6SL has agreed to be captain, and the radio (K3), power supply and antennas will be the same or similar to last year. No big change here. The Red Cross trailer is available, but we need someone to tow it to and from the site. The CW station will share a generator with the SSB station.
We have a number of generators available; we will try to use the smaller, quieter, more fuel-efficient Honda 2KW or 3KW units. If necessary, larger (and noisier) generator are available, including my own.
HF SSB Station: Tom W6TJK and Robert KB6QXM have agreed to co-captain this station. In the past, Ed KI6DAS has provided his K3; we will either use this one or another (Ed’s does not have the built-in tuner, which can be useful at FD). The captains will arrange for power supply and antennas. As above, the generator will be shared with the CW station. Tom plans to erect the 80m Double Zepp (540 feet long); we will need Bob K6XX or someone else to do a “tree install” using a drone helicopter, as in the past.
HF Digital Station: We don’t have a captain or a plan (yet) for this station. “Z” KM6FDC has agreed to look into what is needed with respect to software, computer interface, and radio interface (which is the hardest part of a digital station). Emphasis is on RTTY and PSK, but we should be prepared to operate FT-8 if there is any significant activity in this mode.
GOTA Station: No one involved with previous GOTA stations was in attendance. We *assume* that Reed N1WC and/or JV K6HJU will provide the usual GOTA setup, including radio, computer and the “Box ‘O Life.” One important difference was discussed. Since we are now near the bottom of the solar cycle, 10 and 15 meters are likely to be LESS active, and 40 meters will be a “money band” for all modes. Thus, it may be prudent to let the HF SSB station operate 40 meters, and dedicate 15 SSB to the GOTA station. It’s also easier to put up a 15 meter monoband Yagi on the GOTA trailer than to build the two-or-three element inverted Vee Yagi that has been used there in the past. (We may want to use that Yagi for the point-generating SSB station.) This is still flexible. We may be able to use 40 meters on the GOTA station during the daytime, and then transfer that band to the SSB station in late afternoon and all night.
UHF/VHF Station: Again, no one involved with this station was in attendance. We believe the CommVan used in previous years will again be available, but someone will need to bring it to/from the site. Historically, we get very few points from VHF/UHF communications, but it is very useful for packet radio use to send the NTS traffic messages to get those bonus points.
Satellite Station: John KJ6ZL has agreed to provide a turnkey operation, as in previous years. All he needs is electrical power.
Elizabeth N6FIT has agreed to provide public relations, press releases, and to attempt to get attendance by a served agency and/or an elected official.
We have an opening for someone to be responsible for running the Information Booth and sign-in sheets.
Food service will be coordinated between Angie KM6BHX and Becky KI6TKB. Much greater attention is needed to the NUMBER OF ATTENDEES and the AMOUNT OF FOOD provided. There was considerable overage and waste last year. Food service will be as in the past: On Friday, folks are expected to bring their own lunch (water will be provided). Friday pizza dinner will be provided by the club(s). Saturday lunch will be provided, along with the “main course” at the evening dinner. People will be asked to bring side dishes, salads, and desserts. Drinks will be provided by the club. Sunday morning coffee and light breakfast will be provided as well.
We have a need for a Safety Officer. The job mostly entails inspecting the site and ensuring that it conforms to the Safety Checklist provided by ARRL.
That’s it for now. If you wish to volunteer for any of the open positions, or provide generators, radios (please, only modern rigs with good intermodulation performance that can operate in close proximity to other stations), antennas, etc, please email me at:
I will provide an update as information comes in, and give a report at the April 6 SLVARC meeting. If you attended the meeting and remember something important that I didn’t mention, please feel free to post to the club reflectors.
Field Day 2017
Speaker Line Up for 2018 SCCARC Meetings
February 16: Michael Fluegemann (KE8AQW) speaking about DX in Spain, antenna work, and his work with Ford.
Michael, KE8AQW, became involved in ham radio at the University of Alabama where he studied electrical engineering. He is from Michigan and started working at Ford Motor Company after graduation and is currently doing a 7 month rotation in Palo Alto, CA working on a connected vehicle project as part of the Internet of Things sphere. Michael is Also an Eagle Scout and enjoys being outdoors hiking, camping, sailing, sometimes with a radio. Some of his favorite parts of ham radio are kit building, portable operation, meeting new people, and Field Day.
March 16: Ed Fong (WB6IQN) will speak (via Skype) about his famous J-pole antenna work.
CAKE Notes Feb 10 2018
All CAKE meetings celebrate inquiring minds such as those in action today with Tom KW6S, John N5HPB, Kerry K3RRY, Eric KK6IZY, Reed N1WC, Glen KG0T, Fred KJ6OOV, Peter K6UNO and Ward AE6TY.
Tom presented a mystery object and after much discussion we had to admit it remained a mystery, we took some comfort in agreeing that it probably was unrelated to radio. Tom then showed the main RF board of commercial receiver with a freq range from KHz to GHz. Some components were suspect and Tom is likely to replace them, such confidence and ability is rare indeed. Tom mentioned that he will be selling a number of HF radios and amplifiers at the next De Anza Flea Market
Fred had recently returned from the ARRL Specialty Convention in Arizona and provided a copy of a paper presented by Tom Schiller N6BT entitled Antenna Efficiency Evaluation Using Drones. This is well worth close study but what stood out were the claims made about the reliability of NEC2 in simulating the performance of some horizontal antennas and some cases where vertical antenna calculations become unreliable.
Ron mentioned that antennas had been foremost in his mind for the past two weeks. You may recall Ward’s question about data reliability vs limitations of NEC 2 modeling software such as EZNEC. Clearly the Garbage In Garbage Out law applies but Ron promised extra due diligence before offering a response and this work is in progress. It seems a visit by Steve Stearns would be in order and we will see if he can join us once again. Ward told us he was investigating how to analyze copper-steel wire without much discussion. This then provides us with our question de jour. What would you like to know about copper-steel wire and why?
As usual there were several topics in the air including: loops for receive only (John). The loss factor of water, amazing tales of a warranty, current level of Graph Processor Units, popularity of the FT8 digital mode and high power semi conductor components (Ward et al). An individual vintage 2N753 transistor, neatly packed for sale, was shown as an indication of how semiconductors have evolved over a relatively few decades.
Ron spoke of finding a 3.5 inch floppy disk and located an old PC with a drive in his garage. The disk contained a treasure trove of 100 antenna models as EZNEC .EZ files. If you would like these files let Ron know, he wondered why no models of small loops were included when there were two with helical elements.
Finally thanks to those who relieved me of items donated by Jeff AC6KW and a reminder that there are 2m yagis and various sections of Al tubing that deserve new homes
Wishing you radiant times ahead
Blog post on electronic stores in San Jose area
I just found this article on electronic/surplus stores in the San Jose area. Thought it might be handy to pass the information around.
Excess Solutions (moved from Milpitas to 7th St.); Anchor Electronics; HSC (Moved to Corvin in Santa Clara)
Which way does current really flow?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
I was recently taken to task by one of my blog readers regarding my description of current flow in my No Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide. He wrotYou casually say that current flows from Positive to Negative (with cool accompanying directional arrows), without any accompanying qualifying statement. Over the years I have looked at ALL the views on the subject. Positive to Negative is NOT what I was taught 48 years ago, and I have never seen a good reason to change my view.
In a subsequent email, he pointed me to a Nuts ‘n Volts article, “Which Way Does Current Really Flow?” and asked my opinion. In the article, the author, who is a ham by the way, does a good job of explaining the various types of current flow.
I agree that in electronic circuits electrons flow from negative to positive, but it really doesn’t matter. I agree with one the article’s commenters who says,
This is a silly argument. It’s like comparing apples and oranges and challenging people to take sides.
Electron flow is not current flow. Electron flow is easy to understand, an actual physical property, and a real help in understanding vacuum tube operation. But it falls apart when one needs to understand complex electronic systems.
[Conventional] current flow is a mathematical abstraction. It is defined as a net flow of positive charge, irrespective of the polarity of the physical charge carriers — whether electrons, holes, positive or negative ions, or whatever.
When looking at any circuit containing a resistance with a voltage across it, conventional current through that resistor says that the voltage drop occurs as the current through it meets resistance. On the other hand, in negative (electron) flow, a voltage INCREASE will correspond to the ‘current’ flow through it, clearly violating physical laws. Conventional current flow is consistent with the laws of physics and those of other engineering disciplines.
You are correct that engineers, professors and scientists use conventional current flow. That is not because they are too obtuse to understand electron flow; I assure you they fully understand it. It is because in their world they have to solve more general problems involving complex math and science, and, again, conventional current flow is consistent with physical laws.
It is unfortunate that electron flow and current flow are so often confused. They both have their place.
After reading that article, I thought I’d see what the ARRL Handbook has to say about current. In the 1963 edition, they don’t mention electron flow at all. They have one diagram showing the direction of current flow in both series and parallel circuits, but the voltage source has no polarity. It’s simply labelled “Source of E.M.F.” Diagrams giving practical examples of series and parallel circuits do include a battery, and if the reader were to mash up the two diagrams, they would conclude that current flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal.
The most recent edition of the Handbook that I have is the 2005 edition (it might be time to get another copy!). It says,
Electrons move from the negative to the positive side of the voltage, or EMF, source. Conventional current has the opposite direction, from positive to negative. This comes from an arbitrary decision made by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century. The conventional current direction is important in establishing the proper polarity sign for many electronics calculations. Conventional current is used in much of the technical literature. The arrows in schematic symbols point in the direction of conventional current, for example.
Having said all that, I really don’t see that there’s much of a controversy here. I did learn to think of current as conventional current in college, although it was mentioned that electrons actually flow in the opposite direction. Using the concept of conventional current has never seemed to hold me back. I’ve been able to design circuits and repair electronic equipment thinking that current flows from positive to negative.
Although it’s a departure from my “no nonsense” style, I am thinking of including a sidebar, similar to the paragraph above from the 2005 Handbook explaining the two ways of looking at current flow. What do you think?
When he’s not trying to figure out which way current flows, Dan blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU.Com, teaches ham radio classes, and operates CW on the HF bands. Look for him on 30m, 40m, and 80m. You can email him at email@example.com.
Dave Rank KO6RS, SK
The images are of both sides of a card handed to participants at Dave’s memorial service yesterday. There, Dave’s urn was buried in the cemetery. The small image under the Curie quote is of “the green flash.” The card was put together by Dave’s son. Two of Dave’s sons spoke at the service.
My Memories of Dave Rank KO6RS
I was intoroduced to Dave almost 20 years ago. and visited him at home in Aptos on many occaisions. Our common interest was the science of amateur (Ham) radio and in particular HF antennas. Dave introduced me to antenna modeling which became the foundation for our joint experiments from then on. We began to meet 1on1 regularly at Surf City Coffee in Aptos.
Some of our designs became sucessful projects which included a Moxon beam combined with a Yagi. Dave desinated it a MOGI. Another was a dual 2m 70 yagi which I laced with plastic ivy to become a steath antenna. The design of a 4 element dual band 20/17m beam used an unusual combination of driven and parasitic elements and still is the principal antenna at my home in KY.
Dave and I often argued vigorously which I believe was good for both of us. He became a close friend and later on I only stopped visiting him at his request.
Old hams never die they only QSY
Ron Skelton W6WO
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,