Meeting Change for December 5

Dear members and friends of SPARC,

Unfortunately, the EOC room at the South Pasadena Fire Department is still under construction.  The SPARC board has therefore decided to officially cancel our regular meeting tomorrow, Wednesday December 5.


Unofficially some of us are getting together tomorrow at Canoe House to talk radios, reminisce about the many fun events we have had in 2018 and enjoy each other’s company.  You are welcome to join us at Canoe House ( goo.gl/maps/DxfQWuetdRo ) from 19:30 onwards!

73,

Stan KR6CV
President
and the executive board of SPARC

Watch November’s SOTA Presentation by Scott WA9STI

SPARC thanks Scott Hanley WA9STI for his informative presentation on SOTA at our November meeting. Robert K6YZF recorded the talk, and John KK6ZVQ edited it. We’re posting it here with Scott’s permission. Below the video are links to some of the sites and resources Scott mentioned. We hope this inspires you to get out and operate from the great outdoors!

 

GETTING STARTED
The main SOTA site: sota.org.uk
Announce activations and spot in real time at sotawatch.org
Look for SOTA peaks near you using the SOTA Mapping Project
Automatic spotting handled by the Reverse Beacon Network

 

Groups.io for SOTA
California
North America

 

RADIOS
Yaesu 818
Yaesu 857
Yaesu 897
Elecraft KX3 and KX2

 

SAFETY
Trouble on the trail? Use the Wilderness Protocol
Leave a hiking plan: tips from the LA County Sheriff and a sample plan (PDF)
Track and beacon your location with APRS

 

GEAR
Scott recommends end-fed dipole antennas. Some commercial antennas Scott mentions in his talk or has in his pack:
Buddipole
HF Pack
LNR
Ventenna

 

Whiterook portable CW keyer

 

RG 174 coax cable

 

Frogg Toggs Rain Gear

 

See photos of the meeting here.

 

This map shows all of the SOTA-eligible summits in our region:
SoCal SOTA Summits

November Meeting Topic: Operating Amateur Radio from Mountaintops

The featured guest speaker for our November meeting is Scott Hanley, WA9STI, presenting “Operating Amateur Radio from Mountaintops.” Scott is active in Summits on the Air (SOTA), a communication activity which is based on portable operation from mountain peaks and hilltops around the world. All HF and VHF bands and modes may be used, making it ideal for both newly licensed and experienced hams. While SOTA usually involves hiking up to a high point, or in some cases driving up, you can also participate from your home station.

Scott was first licensed as WN9STI at age thirteen in 1966.  Two months after getting his novice license, his mother took him on the train to the federal building in downtown Chicago where he successfully passed his General class exam. He has been on the air ever since.SOTA Carlton Pk MN

Communicating via amateur radio in the outdoors is one of Scott’s passions which includes using low power SSB and CW while camping, going to remote locations to work Field Day as a solo 1B operator, participating in the 2016 National Parks on the Air event, helping on the Baker to Vegas race, and hiking trails to set up his equipment on summits.  Scott has operated SOTA from 170 peaks in 21 states plus Ireland.  From his home QTH, he has communicated with 1,885 hams on summits.

Moreover, Scott is a member of the ARES LAX (Northwest District) and the Los Angeles County Disaster Service (DCS).

Join us for this lively presentation where Scott will explain about the radios, antennas, batteries, and hiking gear that he takes on his trips and will bring his pack to show the equipment he carries.  The talk will also cover the use of APRS, a hiking plan, and the 146.52 simplex Wilderness Protocol.

When and Where
Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m.
South Pasadena Fire Department, EOC Room
817 Mound Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030SPFD_map

Free parking is available across from the fire station. Hope to see you there.

Get to Know the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network

One of the fastest-growing areas of ham radio is mesh networking. You can think of it as homebrew WiFi — using the amateur radio spectrum to create a WiFi network without relying on the normal Internet infrastructure of phone and cable companies. Several SPARC members are active in a regional effort to build a robust mesh network that can transmit data when the Internet isn’t available during an emergency. (It also comes in handy out in the Nevada desert.)

If you’d like to know more about mesh and what it can do, two of our resident experts recommend this episode of Ham Radio Now. It features an interview with members of the AREDN group (Amateur Radio Emergency Network), the organization that maintains the mesh software of the same name. Take a look, then stop by one of our monthly meetings to talk about building your own mesh go kit.

October 2018 Meeting Wrap-Up

KevinZ181003

Kevin from Bioenno Power

It was a full room with several first-time visitors at our monthly meeting on October 3. The draw was Kevin Zanjani, KI6DHQ, from Bioenno Power. Hams have been raving about the portability and performance of Bioenno’s lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries for over two years now. Kevin’s presentation, “LiFePO4 Batteries for Ham Radio and Solar Applications” provided a deep dive into the science behind these much-sought-after components.

BioennoWares

A range of batteries, a powerpack and the company’s latest solar controller.

Kevin explained several use cases for Bioenno products beyond amateur radio. Many industries and government agencies are migrating to solar power solutions and relying on LiFePO4 batteries over traditional lead acid batteries, which are less efficient and must be replaced far more frequently.

FAQforSolar_Bioenno.001

Slide from Kevin’s presentation

Kevin had a nice surprise for us — he donated a twenty amp-hour battery to our montly door prize raffle. The lucky and grateful winner was Scott, KI6SC. On behalf of SPARC, thank you, Kevin for your time and generosity!

Other News

  • Our next club build will be a roll-up antenna, perfect for the go kit. More details to come in early 2019.
  • We now have a photo-packed SPARC brochure created by Tran K6NHI. We will soon have copies to distribute at public events and license exam sessions.
  • The regular monthly ARES NE meeting will be held at 9am on October 13 in the Huntington Memorial Hospital’s Wingate Conference Room. Topics to be discussed include The Great Shakeout (10:18am on October 18) and the Statewide Medical and Health Exercise (November 15).

SPARC Welcomes Bioenno Power at Our October Meeting

Come to our monthly meeting on October 3 to hear Bioenno Power‘s Kevin Zanjani present “LiFePO4 Batteries for Ham Radio and Solar Applications.” Bioenno batteries are a favorite in the ham community for their high performance and low weight. Several SPARC members rely on Bioenno’s lithium iron phosphate batteries to power go kits and mobile rigs.

Wednesday, October 3 at 7:30 pm
South Pasadena Fire Department
EOC Room
817 Mound Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Hope to see you there.

Photos from the 2018 Public Safety Open House

Thanks to all the SPARC members who staffed our table at the annual South Pas Public Safety Open House. And thanks as always to the police and fire departments for hosting such an informative and fun event! The following photos were taken by Robert K6YZF. The fire extinguisher training was conducted by SPARC and CERT member James K6CUT.

SP Police and Fire Open House 9-16-18-14SP Police and Fire Open House 9-16-18-3SP-Police-and-Fire-Open-House-9-16-18-15.jpeg

SP Police and Fire Open House 9-16-18-7

SPARC members at the 2018 South Pasadena Public Safety Open House

SP Police and Fire Open House 9-16-18-6SP-Police-and-Fire-Open-House-9-16-18-5.jpeg

September 2018 VHF/UHF Contest Results

On September 8, SPARC set up two stations in Garfield Park to participate in the ARRL’s September VHF/UHF contest for a few hours. We made thirty contacts on FM and SSB and tested mesh nodes. Several members of the public stopped by — some who had prior ham experience and some who were just curious about all the wires. Thanks to everyone who helped with set up and clean up! Contests are a great opportunity to spend time operating and testing equipment, so don’t hesitate to stop by the next time we take part in one. Photos by Robert K6YZF.

Fun with CW

At our past two monthly meetings, lucky SPARC members have gone home with a speical door prize: the Pixie 40m CW transceiver. The Pixie is a low-cost way to send and receive CW on the 40-meter band. “CW” and “Morse code” are often used interchangeably, but technically CW refers to the method of transmitting a radio signal (“continuous wave”), and Morse code is the series of audio tones being sent over that signal (the famous “dits” and “dahs” or dots and dashes).

CW is an effective way to communicate over long distances with low power, but today’s hams can spend years in the hobby and never use it. Since 1991 it’s been possible to earn an amateur radio license without passing a Morse code proficiency test. The FCC dropped Morse code requirements from all license classes in 2006. Having those Pixie transceivers around has spurred some club discussions about CW both in person and during our on-air nets.

On a recent net, Tim WA0PTC explained the procedure known as “zero beating.” Essentially, it is the process of making sure the sender and receiver of CW signals are both on the same frequency. The ARRL’s Doctor Is In podcast has an entire  episode on zero beating.

If you’d like to learn Morse code and give CW a try, Mike Dinelli sells a book called The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy, which some refer to as “the bible of Morse code.” There is both a free version and an updated edition available for purchse.

Communicating via Morse code may seem like a relic in the age of smartphones, but certain engineers at Google disagree. The company’s Gboard keyboard for mobile devices (available for both Android and iOS) has recently added a Morse code option. And in order to make learning Morse easier, they’ve released a game called Morse Typing Trainer. Google claims the game can teach you Morse code in under an hour. The addition of Morse to Gboard is an attempt to improve the accessibility of devices like phones and tablets.

To supplement the Typing Trainer game, Google released a poster with the game’s mnemonic images. Click on the version at the bottom of this post to download a printable PDF.

Updated 09/20/18: In the September edition of the Pasadena Radio Club Bulletin, Paul Gordon N6LL lists a few other CW resources.

HelloMorse-Poster

Talk to SPARC at the 2018 Public Safety Open House

SPARC will have a booth once again at the annual South Pasadena Police and Fire Department Open House on Sunday, September 16. The open house runs from 10am to 3pm. We will be located in the courtyard behind the fire station. This fun and informative event runs in conjunction with the Cruz’n for Roses classic car show supporting the SouthPas Tournament of Roses float committee. Come meet SPARC members, see some radio gear, and learn about our activities. Hope to see you there!

2018 Public Safety Open House

Click for PDF version.