|The Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club Newsletter
Summit Sentinel, May 2004
Contents of the Summit Sentinel, mailed to members May, 2004.
Volume 26, Issue 2
"From the Sierra to the Sea,
...This is K6FB repeater"
|Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club
P.O. Box 2415
Cupertino, CA 95015
http://k6fb.com << New!
Fifth Saturday Breakfast, Saturday, May 29, 2004, 8:30 AM. When there's a Fifth Saturday in any month we celebrate by having breakfast out! Join your fellow members, invite spouses, kids, and any interested guests, all are welcome! Come to the Hick'ry Pit in Campbell, across the street from the Pruneyard Shopping Center, 980 E Campbell Ave, near Bascom. See the locator map on the back cover of this Summit Sentinel or on the web page. Talk-in is available on K6FB repeaters. Alternate locations wanted! Do you have a favorite breakfast haunt? Let us know or better yet, volunteer to organize the July breakfast!
Pull out your PDA or calendar and note remaining dates for 2004: July 31, and October 30.
Sequoia Century Bicycle Classic, Sunday, June 6, 2004, daylight event. LCARC repeaters have been pledged for communications to this annual bicycle event. Many bicycle loops start from Palo Alto VA Hospital, circle west into the hills and mountains, and then back to Palo Alto. Drivers and checkpoints will use K6FB to report progress, stranded bicyclists, and emergency traffic. This event will not have exclusive use of K6FB repeaters, yet be prepared to share our club resources on this date. Phil Spiegel W6PSO may still be looking for volunteers; if you'd like to help contact him by email: < mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org >
Summer Picnic, TBD. Let's see, where could we hold a picnic for 20+ people? Do you know of a place? Would you like to help plan or provision? Let us know!
If you haven't done so already, plan to renew your Las Cumbres ARC membership soon. The Las Cumbres ARC membership year spans March to February. You should have received a renewal notice in mid-April. If you missed that letter, dues are $25 again this year. You can renew by mail to the PO Box address in the masthead above. Your renewal status is noted in your mailing label for the Summit Sentinel (as of May 16). The original letter also included a snapshot of your personal information, as held in the club roster. If you've had any updates in the past year (addresses, telephones, emails, or call sign changes) then please note that with your renewal too.
- Bob, W6OPO
I just worked Brad Wyatt K6WR via his remote Internet connection to an HF station in Boston, MA! Brad was on a dial-up connection, with some packet loss. Yet when it was solid, it was good. I told him this is ridiculous. He is in a townhouse in Los Gatos, three miles from me, running a station in Boston with an Alpha [RF power amplifier] and of course here I am running an Alpha to get back to Boston to talk to him three miles away.
Learn more < http://www.irlp.net/index.htm >
- Dan, K6PRK
It seems that most of the attention has been paid to the K6FB 220 repeater lately. We have had chronic antenna problems with the wind breaking the elements off of it over the years. The current antenna is an AEA Isopole that seems to have withstood the ravages of the winds on the hill.
John and I (mostly John, KJ6ZL) fabricated a 220 collinear antenna that is housed in an old Phelps Dodge 150 MHz Stationmaster fiberglass radome. There were many problems with matching the 50-ohm feedline to the base of the antenna. It seems that many amateurs have tried to build these antennas and have failed because of an insufficient matching scheme.
John, KJ6ZL, Tom, K6KMT and I got together at my house and with the aid of sliding coaxial matching stubs we were able to achieve a good match to the antenna. John took the 20-foot antenna home and went through a lot more work to package the matching network once it was known how to achieve a good match. The antenna is now finished and can go up on the tree to replace the current Isopole antenna. This should extend the range of the 220 repeater. The antenna is now ready to be mounted on the tree.
There were some other issues regarding the power output of the 220 machine. It seems that the new transistor that replaced the original final, aged and changed the tuning. It had to be brought down the hill for re-tuning. The power output seems to be stable now.
The other problem that was found is that the remote base, which is used to link the 220 repeater to the 2 Meter/440 repeaters was being keyed up by another repeater in Sacramento. I purchased a PL decoder and put it on the remote base receiver to prevent key-ups from the distant repeater. The decoder is in place and working. It can be disabled with a user function if the remote base is to be used on other frequencies and bands.
Bob, W6OPO had an idea to increase interest in the club by changing the usual Monday night net into a "talk net". This new idea was an instant success! It seems that the new net format went beyond the normal 15-minute session, and sometimes the net extends beyond an hour!
This introduced problems with net scheduling and the lengthy CW ID's that were present on the repeater for years. A board action took place to modify the CW ID's to only say "K6FB" and be sent between 18 WPM and 22 WPM. This reduces the amount of time taken from the net time by ID'S. The scheduler was also reprogrammed for the new net duration. Net time now starts on Monday nights at 7:25PM and ends at 8:30PM. The former announcement for the beginning and ending of net time was "automatic control operator change over", and it is now "tic-tock, tic-tock". At non-net times the normal voice announcements are still there.
The only other remaining problem that we had was the 220 repeater controller ID'ing on it's own, at 10 minute intervals. A firmware update to the 220 repeater controller allows IDs to be switched off during the net by touch tone commands. The courtesy tone on 220 was also turned off.
Everything else on the repeater seems to be working fine, except for the telephone line noise that occurs during a blowing rainstorm. It appears that this problem is beyond the point where our repeater telephone lines are connected to the telephone company's junction box. This problem may recur during bad weather.
One other programming change is the frequently heard "call complete" message. This came about because a ring delay timer on the controller was set way too short. Any noise spike on the telephone line would fool the controller into thinking there was an incoming call. This setting was made many years ago and no one remembers why the timer was shortened in the first place. It is now rare to hear a call complete coming out of the repeater anymore.
In the future, I've devised a scheme that will link the 220 box in the same fashion as the 440 repeater is currently linked. The difference is that we will be able to cut the 220 repeater loose and have it operate as an independent repeater if we desired or required. Club members can use a code to link and delink the machines. Once this is done, we will be able to use the remote bases AS remote bases instead of a link to the 220 repeater.
As you can see, the Technical Committee has been very active. Thanks to all that helped me with the Technical Committee activity.
Dan K6PRK, LCARC TCC
- Jey KQ6DK
John KA2FND and Bob W6OPO have put < http://www.k6fb.com > on the air!
Bob arranged for a new web host, affordablehost.com, to host our club web site and our new domain k6fb.com. Then John initiated a transfer of the k6fb.com domain he had acquired for the club many, many months ago. Within days, k6fb.com was alive! Finally, I moved the content of the club web site to our new host. And it's done! Be sure to update your bookmarks to the club web site.
If you have content for the site, pictures or text, or feedback, then please send it my way.
USA ARDF CHAMPIONSHIPS COMING TO CALIFORNIA IN MID-JUNE
Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) enthusiasts across the US are gearing up for the fourth annual national ARDF Championships next month. ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, says, the sport--also known as radio-orienteering or foxtailing--is an all-on-foot "adventure in the woods" to see who can track down and find the most hidden transmitters in the shortest time. The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) will host the competition. Radio-orienteers from all over the country plus visitors from abroad are expected to attend.
The California events end just in time for final selection of ARDF Team USA 2004 members, who will travel to the Czech Republic for the 12th ARDF World Championships September 7-12. More than 200 participants representing two dozen or more countries are expected to turn out for the event. Moell says Team USA's positions will be filled based on performances in this year's national championships in California and in last year's national championships in Ohio.There's more information on the 2004 USA ARDF Championships on the SBARC Web site < http://www.sbarc.org/ardf/index.shtml >> --Joe Moell K0OV
ARRL E-MAIL FORWARDING SERVICE CHANGES AIM TO IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW
The ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service < http://www.arrl.org/members-only/emailfwd.html > has instituted several changes to reduce the overall volume of unwanted e-mail traffic while evening out the flow of desired correspondence. One outcome--at least in the short term--has been a reduction in undesired and unsolicited e-mail ("spam") via @arrl.net e-mail addresses. Several Forwarding Service participants have even e-mailed ARRL Headquarters to remark on the improvement. ARRL Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY, says daily volume on the free-to-ARRL-members service and the number of users--63,000 and rising--have grown dramatically, requiring some mitigation. Volume was averaging 500,000 messages per day, and on some days, traffic reached nearly one million.
"Changes had to be made, as this volume threatened to overwhelm the resources of the servers that maintain and process the e-mail for the ARRL E-Mail Forwarding Service," Shelley said. "In addition, because of the volume of spam, Internet service providers (ISPs) would periodically refuse to accept messages originating from @arrl.net addresses, mistakenly identifying the Forwarding Service as a spam source." "We're trying to keep the Forwarding Service viable and at no cost to members," he said.
The Forwarding Service also reduced the amount of time a message remains in a queue on the @arrl.net servers before the sender receives a delivery failure message. Although the vendor adjusted the number of recipients the Forwarding Service server will process at any one time, there is no limit on the number of addressees.
"What it means is that the sending server may have to deliver a given message more than once to reach all intended recipients," he explained. "The idea is to smooth out the flow of messages through the system, reducing the number of messages in the queues as well as eliminating or minimizing delays resulting from a high volume of traffic."
Members can help reduce their vulnerability to spam by not posting their @arrl.net e-mail addresses on public Web sites, Shelley says. But, he adds, as long as spamming continues to be a moneymaker, nothing will eliminate it entirely.
HAM RADIO-CARRYING ROCKET HOPES TO REACH SPACE
An amateur rocket team is hoping to send a 21-foot-tall rocket carrying a ham radio avionics package into the fringes of space. The launch by the Civilian Space Xploration Team (CSXT) could occur as early as Monday, May 17, from Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A CSXT try to reach space in 2002 ended some three seconds after launch when the rocket's engine exploded. Avionics Team Leader Eric Knight, KB1EHE, says CSXT has since rebounded from that devastating blow with a newer, bigger vehicle.
"We are very pumped," the Connecticut amateur told ARRL. "Our confidence level grows with each launch. All the ingredients are there for success." Knight's avionics team includes eight Amateur Radio licensees, most of whom also were involved in the 2002 launch attempt. The entire CSXT team, headed by CSXT founder and Program Director--and former Hollywood stunt man--Ky Michaelson of Minnesota, has 18 members.
In terms of Amateur Radio, the GoFast rocket, named for a corporate sponsor, will transmit telemetry on the 33-cm amateur band and Amateur TV at 2.4 GHz using a high-quality color camera. The avionics also incorporate multiple global positioning system (GPS) units to record the vehicle's precise location and flight path, redundant data acquisition and storage systems, and a variety of data sensors.
Once the rocket goes up, appropriately equipped amateurs may be able to receive signals from the approximately 2 W transmitters onboard, even at some distance from the launch site, Knight says. Specific frequencies had not been selected by week's end, however. In addition, the team will set up a special event HF station at the launch site with the call sign K7R--"for rocket," Knight says. Look for K7R in the General class phone portions of 20 and 40 meters.
Knight says the avionics crew even salvaged a few electronic components for the 2004 launch from the 2002 avionics package, which continued to function flawlessly until the rocket crashed into the desert.
Plans call for the solid-fuel rocket to zip upward from the desert floor and reach a speed of more than 4000 MPH in about 9 seconds. Assuming all goes well, the suborbital vehicle will, on its own momentum, attain an altitude of 100 km or 62 statute miles--high enough to be considered "space"--linger there for a couple of minutes then arc back to Earth some 26 miles down range. If successful it would mark the first amateur rocket launch into space.
Knight is optimistic that the team has gained valuable knowledge from its past failures. "We've learned a lot that you can't get from a textbook," he said. "We feel we have a chance to make history."
There's more information on the CSXT Web site, < www.civilianspace.com >.
YOUNG HAM AIDS EFFORT TO RESCUE CLASSMATE
Jordan Webb, KI4AVG, of Knoxville, Tennessee, had a feeling he should take his 2-meter handheld transceiver along on an April 30 field trip. Heading off with his eighth-grade class to remote Abrams Falls in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains, the 13-year-old decided to throw his handheld into his backpack--just in case.
"I didn't think I would have to use my Icom V-8, but I packed it anyway," Webb told ARRL.
As it turned out, while swimming Vine Middle Magnet School classmate Christopher Drinkard was pulled under the water of Cades Cove by strong currents from Abrams Falls. Webb and another classmate, Zach Hubbs, jumped into the water to help Drinkard when Webb remembered the radio in his backpack.
Webb alerted a teacher that he had his radio and hoped that if he could get to high-enough ground, he might be able to call for help. After scrambling up a hill, he was able to contact Jim Bond, K6SPY, in Knoxville. Bond alerted authorities to the situation, and emergency medical personnel were able to respond relatively quickly to the isolated area. If someone had had to hike out, it would have taken considerably longer. Unfortunately, despite rescue workers' quick response, Drinkard did not survive.
Tennessee Assistant Section Manager David Bower, K4PZT, observed that the incident occurred in a part of the Smoky Mountains where cell phones typically don't work. "Ham radio was the means used to request help when this emergency first happened," he said.
A ham for about one year, Webb is a member of the Anderson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, the Radio Amateur Club of Knoxville and several other ham radio groups in the Knoxville area. Anderson County ARES Emergency Coordinator Jeff Yawn, KF4UVT, said Webb has spent Kid's Day in his shack, and he called him "a fine, upstanding young man."
"I know he did all he could to help his friend," Yawn added.
LOGBOOK OF THE WORLD DXCC CREDITS SYSTEM RENEWING DXCC ENTHUSIASM
The DXCC credits component of ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW)
"Several hundred users had linked their logbook accounts to their DXCC accounts in the first 24 hours the DXCC component was on-line," Mills said. "I'm thrilled to see people getting interested in DXCC again."
An ARRL member from Missouri earned the distinction of becoming the first to qualify for an initial DXCC certificate using only LoTW "virtual QSL" records. Another amateur--ARRL Midwest Division Vice Director Bruce Frahm, K0BJ--used LoTW credits to update his DXCC record and now has qualified for the DXCC Challenge.
The Logbook of the World database has grown to be a repository of some 42 million individual contact records submitted by users in the US and abroad. When both QSO participants submit matching contact records to LoTW, the result is a "virtual QSL" now good for DXCC credit. Mills says more than 2.5 million QSO matches already exist in the system.
For more information, contact the Logbook of The World staff [Thank you to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League for this content -ed.] - Dan, K6PRK The monthly flea market, formerly at Foothill College, has moved to Sunnyvale! Here is the URL for more information: < http://www.electronicsfleamarket.com/ > The web site has maps, dates, and other information for this monthly event. Editor: Jey KQ6DK 2004-05 Club Directors Voice Repeaters (All are linked) Packet © 2004, Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club
Electronics Flea Market
Vice-PresidentJohn Rosica, KA2FND
SecretaryJey Yelland, KQ6DK
TreasurerBob Lanning, W6OPO
Membership ChairTom Campbell, K6KMT
Technical CommitteeDan Smith, K6PRK
TrusteeTom Campbell, K6KMT
Member at LargeNed Rice, KE6ZOZ
- K6FB/R: 145.450 MHz (-) PL=100
- K6FB/R: 442.575 MHz(+) PL=100
- K6FB/R: 223.880 MHz(-) PL=100
- K6FB-1: Digipeater: 145.050 MHz
- K6FB-2: Bulletin Board: 145.05 MHz
- K6FB-7 Node (alias LCARC): 145.050 MHz
- K6FB-5 tcp/ip "losgatos" [18.104.22.168], 145.750 MHz
[Thank you to The ARRL Letter and The American Radio Relay League for this content -ed.]
- Dan, K6PRK
The monthly flea market, formerly at Foothill College, has moved to Sunnyvale! Here is the URL for more information: < http://www.electronicsfleamarket.com/ > The web site has maps, dates, and other information for this monthly event.
Editor: Jey KQ6DK
2004-05 Club DirectorsPresidentKen Carey, KN6CK
Voice Repeaters (All are linked)
© 2004, Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club