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President’s Corner

September 9, 2019

    There is so much going on right now, it’s amazing! For example, there are two events going on right now or coming up this weekend—the Texas QSO Party and the Route 66 QSO Party. The Route 66 is going on all week through Sunday, so get on the air and have fun! The Texas QSO Party is this Saturday and Sunday.

    We will set up HF at the Library and be able to work both events. If you haven’t worked HF you can come and we’ll see how those events are going. I’ve noticed that band conditions mysteriously improve when there’s a QSO party going on!

    We’re trying something new for this month’s meeting—Show and Tell. Bring something fun and ham radio related that you can show us. Could be anything—a new radio you purchased, a new piece of equipment, even some software that you are using. Plan on five to ten minutes depending on how many people bring things to talk about. We’ll all learn things! You can even talk about how you did in the Rookie Roundup, if you participated in that.

    Depending on time, we may have a short presentation on RTTY showing what the signals look like and how to tune them. RTTY is a fun mode.

    Steve Darrah, KD5YPB, is starting to plan the Festival at the Switchyard. MARS will have a tent there to show off ham radio to the public. Plan to attend and spend some time at the booth. It’s a great festival.

    Big things are afoot at ARRL! The past year ARRL has been marked by some turmoil. Some have claimed—with some justification—that the League has drifted away from representing the members and more about perpetuating the Board. A group of new Directors has been empaneled and the League is charting a new direction. I’ll discuss some of the exciting changes that are being implemented at the meeting on Thursday. If you are an ARRL member, you won’t want to miss it!

    The French proposal to share the 2m amateur radio band with aviation data and navigation has been quashed. Great support by the ARRL helped to make that happen. So, we are safe for now. But the 5G operators are eyeing our GHz bands hungrily. One estimate is that spectrum is selling for around 1 billion dollars per megahertz. We need the ARRL to defend our bands!

    Did you know that you can use four of those RTL-SDR sticks and make a radio direction finder? I ordered a set and intend to download and install the software (looks like Linux and Android versions only for the moment, no Windows or MacOS) and see if it’s as cool as it seems. It won’t be here in time for this month’s meeting, but I plan to try it out at an upcoming Play Day.

    Speaking of Play Day, for October we’re planning a “Play Day in the Park” somewhere. We were hoping for Mary Heads Carter Park but it’s not available. We’re planning to participate in one of the simulated emergency tests as well as do other Play Day activities. Stay tuned for news on October.

    At the regular meeting in October we will have a presentation on Winlink Wednesdays by the founder John Hill, KF5VO! He’s a member of LAARK and came up with this weekly and fun exercise to help people get on the air and keep their Winlink software and forms updated. If you don’t have Winlink Express installed, it’s easy to set up. In fact, see if you can get it going before Saturday and then come with any questions or for help getting a radio connected. Winlink is a crucial communications mode in a disaster. It’s being used heavily to support the Bahamas right now, and the FCC granted a temporary approval to use the high-bandwidth Pactor 4 mode. Everyone should have Winlink working and be familiar with it. Of course, MARS has a Winlink VHF gateway you can use to send messages and practice.

  See you at the meeting!

  73 Kevin N5KRG President

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