Updated September 1, 2018
It’s going to be another exciting month in ham radio! First, we’re meeting in a new location this month. The Farmers Branch Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Steve Parker and through the efforts of the Emergency Manager Lauren Sanchez, has graciously offered us the use of the training room at the Fire Administration Building. This is at the corner of Hutton Road and Valley View. Directions are on the website.
Second, sunspots are nearly zero. Well, for some days now they have been zero. No sunspots, no radio, right? Yet hundreds if not thousands of hams made contacts during the Thirteen Colonies event. There are all kinds of openings on various bands using both esoteric (FT8 anyone?) and traditional SSB phone and CW. It’s surprising that even with nearly zero sunspot numbers I’m not hearing the whining from the naysayers. They are on the air! You should be, too.
The seriously hot weather has abated for at least a while, so get out there and tackle that antenna project you’ve been postponing. Open up that new piece of equipment and give it a shot! Which brings me to my latest equipment forays.
Musings from the Vice President
MARS repeater trustees are in the planning stage of some fantastic new club-associated repeaters and upgrades. We hope to have these projects completed within the next six months. Details will be forthcoming as we move from planning to procurement, to beta testing, to deployment.
On doing research on these systems, I ran across three very useful articles by BridgeCom Systems. The first article is “BridgeCom Systems Guide to Repeater Systems, With an Emphasis on Duplexers.” In the coming months we’ll feature “Five Things to Consider When Buying a Repeater” and “How to Select Feedline for a Repeater.”
Paraphrasing this old saying, “Everything you need to know about repeaters, but were afraid to ask.” These certainly did that for me.
73 Andy, KE5KOF
Hams Define Their Radios
July 12, 2018
At the July meeting, Tom General, KE5ICX, talked about Software Defined Radio. There are some amazingly inexpensive radio receivers—or “dongles”—that can be attached to your computer and receive a wide range of signals: AM, FM, SSB, Fusion, D-STAR, DMR, and P25. The software is usually free and can run on iOS, Windows, or Linux.
While there are other brands of low-cost dongles, the RTL-SDR R820T2 from RTL-SDR.com seems to be extremely popular. Tom pointed out this company offers software, tutorials and a variety of handy accessories from their store.
The following Play Day on July 14, hams gathered for hands-on Elmering at the Carrollton Library on Keller Springs. Tom and others guided the group as they downloaded the essential software and drivers. Despite the not-so-fast internet connection, many got their devices up and running with no problems.
When not exploring SDR, you’ll find Tom hanging out on the Dallas Amateur Radio Club’s 146.880 repeater (tone 110.9) running their SkyNet and Afterglow nets.
Thanks go to Tom for his presentation and to Andy Parcel, KE5KOF, who spearheaded this project. Please check out the gallery for pictures of the action.
A good group of hams ready to install their software.
Tom General, KE5ICX, in charge.
Bob Norris, N0IIL, and Ken Wendel, W5RPS, ponder the intricacies of Windows.
Elmer Tom and Darrell Crimmins, KG5E
Randy Patterson, KE5JIT, and Bill Brady, KF5ZBL
Daryl DeVault, KE5SAB, and Dennis Allen, WA5LXS
So small, yet so powerful!
David Gilpin, K5GIL, and Bob Norris, N0IIL
Total control from the comfort of your computer.
A very tiny amp–or something.
David Gilpin, K5GIL, listening to WRR.
An SDR looking for signals.
Randy Patterson, KE5JIT, Liz Brown, K5EMB, Bill Brady, KF5ZBL, Russell Fish, W5SGV, and Bill Cahill, AD8BC
Andy Parcel, KE5KOF, assembling an outdoor antenna for SDR setup.
SDR Part II
At the August 11th play day (10:00 am), we’ll go over advanced SDR topics such as D-STAR, Fusion, etc. We’ll also help those who could not make the July Play Day, [see story above] install the SDR software on their laptop. The more broadband receive antennas (such as a discone) we have outside on the patio the better. So bring any you have with coax to the library.
Together with a cheap noise source and RF bridge, we also hope to demonstrate using this SDR as a broadband antenna analyzer. More details on that to follow. Meanwhile, please go to the SDR order sheet to order any more items you may need. Please visit RTL-SDR.com for more info.