Software can make radio more fun !

When I read that headline my first reaction was — “What?  Software can make radio more fun?”

YES, it is true.

Even a fairly modern ham radio can benefit from software enhancements.  FLRIG from W1HKJ  is part of the time-tested FLDIGI suite of amateur radio software.

 

This application is FREE (Free is good!) at http://sourceforge.net/projects/fldigi/files/

 

Using the simple on-screen controls (even works on a touch screen).you can change VFOs, frequency, band. mode, split, volume, squelch, mic gain, RF power, and others.

The programs run on Apple, Windows and Linux operating systems.  Because this popular software is free and is only used by a few thousand people, your anti-virus software may not like it.  Its fine, just give AVG a minute and it will install.

I found it is easier to set the notch filters, noise reduction, and other radio options using the FLRIG graphical interface than it is to go into the radio menus.

 

For a lot more on FLRIG, FLDIGI and other fun radio stuff, please follow the trail:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

 

 

 

This is sort of old news. 

On April 19, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission reduced the fee for a ten year GMRS license to $35 from $70.  At the same time, the previously free, but had to pass an examination, amateur radio license fee went to $35 for ten years.

While I am sure there are people who paid for the GMRS license because that was “easier than studying for and passing a test”, I am sort of surprised at the number of licensed amateurs who are reporting buying the GMRS license now that the cost has come down.

While I think the GMRS service has a lot of value, and I see good reasons for being licensed in both, if you were already licensed as an amateur, and if you only bought the GMRS license because the fee came down, would you please reach out to me at the eMail address shown below and tell me what the appeal is?

President@radioclub-carc.com

 

I have heard from a couple of people saying that they want to explore GMRS.

OK…but are there other reasons?

 

 

For more information about radios, setting up your station  and another topics, follow the trail to:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

W3R QSL Cards

The W3R  Special Event station QSL cards have arrived from the printer.   They look fabulous.  Look to the right where you will find an image of the card.

Cumberland Amateur Radio Club sends its THANK YOU to Randy Dorman at https://www.KB3IFHqslcards.com for a great job.

The Special Event made 670 contacts between March 19 and March 26, 2022. 

From among the many people we worked during those eight busy days about 60 QSL cards have arrived at the home of our QSL Manager.  Those cards represent 28 of the United States of America and Canada.  We expect DX QSL Cards will take longer to arrive.

A duo of CARC Members have been huddled around the kitchen table burning the midnight oil for several days  admiring the QSL Cards we received from our friends and colleagues, checking our logs for the matching QSOs, and preparing our W3R QSL cards to be signed and mailed.

The cards will be mailed the first week of May.  A little birdie told your Editor that some cards are already in the mail.

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As wars and rumors of wars flood the media, sometimes you just need to step away.

Go to the shack… Turn the transceiver on and do what you enjoy doing: whether you choose to hunt down new-to-you grid squares in FT8, ragchew, check into a net, chase DX, work a contest, or learn something new.    

 

What have you learned today?

For more articles please follow the trail below:

https://www.RadioClub-CARC.com/resources/

 

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

Notes from the shack…                

 Field Day 2021

The December 2021 QST has arrived. 
Let’s check the club’s Field day 2021 results.

Aggregate score from eight entries on behalf of Cumberland ARC  was 3,975 points.

The club call, K3IEC, was one of 22 Class 3E entries submitted nationwide and one of two Class 3E entries submitted from the ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania section.. 

This local entry represents the collective efforts of a group of CARC Members who operated three Field Day stations powered by an emergency generator.  The group consisted of eager volunteers who braved the elements to ensure that K3IEC would be on-the-air and logged by other Field Day operations across North America.  Recognition is awarded to members KC3KPD, KB3PQT, K3EYK, N8QVT, W3VRE, KC3SJE, and AF3I for their jobs well-done.  Additional efforts put forth by friends, family, and agency officials brought total participation in the K3IEC operation to twelve.

Incremental support was provided by CARC Members who operated their Home Stations as Class 1D, making Field Day contacts, and submitting logs on behalf of their club. They include:  K3EYK, K3EYL, KB3PQT, N3FWE, W3JJB, WA3KCP, and AF3I.

 

In total, there were 174 entries among all Field Day Operating Classes (A-F) from our ARRL section, Eastern Pennsylvania EPA.

Other ARRL sections demonstrating high levels of participation include:

Ohio                           OH      249 entries

North Carolina         NC      215 entries

Illinois                        IL         197 entries

Virginia                      VA       195 entries

North Texas              NTX    189 entries

So as you can see, EPA was the 6th most active section.

 

For more on the ARRL, Field Day, Contesting  and other fun radio stuff, follow the trail to:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

Passing the Torch

After fifteen years of leading the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club to new achievements including the highest membership headcount ever, Andrew Forsyth, AF3I decided to listen to his wife and not run again for the presidency.  Fortunately for our club, Andy is sticking around to maintain the website and other functions where his experience is desired.  

Frank Mellott, KB3PQT has been elected President and Doug Stenger KC3CPT has stepped into the Vice-President’s office.   Garry Fasick K3EYK, Maura Smith-Mitsky KC3SJE and Richard Johnson N3EPY are continuing to serve the club and fill their roles as Treasurer, Secretary and Membership Secretary respectively.  

CARC Club Members — Please see the new monthly column “From the President’s Desk” which appears on a new menu page in the password protected MEMBER AREA of this website.

Or, follow this link:   https://www.RadioClub-CARC.com/from-the-presidents-desk.

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

Notes from the shack…  DMR contesting

 Contesting has been a part of the great wide world of amateur radio since at least 1928 in the US.  Typically contests involve spending hours in the shack on the HF bands (160M, 80M, 40M, 20M, 15M, 10M) and in some contests there will be VHF/UHF activity on 6M, 2M and up. 

Virtually all contests exclude contacts made through repeaters and satellites.    There are some good reasons for those rules.

I had never heard of using DMR in contests until I saw the posting reproduced below.
This appeared on the N3FJP Software Users Group.

You say, “therefore it can’t be counted for any regular 2-way ham radio award”.  Times have changed. There are special events and contests that are allowing VOIP contacts.  Earlier this summer I participated in a 10 day special event from the UK called, “GOTA” – Gateways On The Air.  I used the Allstar network exclusively and logged every contact.  It’s a good thing I did.  I won the International Operator Award for most contacts from bona fide GOTA stations.

There will be more of these types of special events and contests coming as more involve themselves with VOIP.  Contesting and events are not exclusive to RF only.

 

DMR radio has already been adapted by some 3 million users world-wide and seems to be the entry level radio of choice in the US at the moment.  DMR is especially popular in Europe. Like it or not, DMR is changing the hobby.

I have done no research to see which contests are accepting DMR contacts. 

It is amazing that someone like Glenn K3SWZ can devote a weekend to HF contesting and earn 600K points or more. It is even more incredible that a brand new Technician Class licensee can conceivably reach even more places with a simple DMR HT and a hot spot.

For more articles please follow the trail below:
https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

See ‘ya down the log.
Frank KB3PQT

 

Editor’s Note:  Let me say that every operator should read and understand the rules of any contest he or she chooses to enter.  If the rules specifically allow the use of DMR, VOIP, repeaters or similar technologies then you have a “green light” to go ahead and use those technologies in that contest.  Likewise, operators who pursue ham radio awards have a similar obligation to understand and honor the rules as to what constitutes a valid contact.

AF3I — Editor

 

Notes from the shack….

Fun with numbers!

 

The Cumberland Amateur Radio Club (CARC) is a diverse group.

Current Membership Statistics by license class:

 

Advanced 4 11%
Extra 17 45%
General 10 26%
Technician 7 18%

 

The FCC database seems  to only go back to 2000.   Just with that data, the club members have been licensed 482 years.   The actual total is upwards of 1,000 years!

 

One of the fascinating subsets of the hobby is making contacts with different call sign prefixes.   There are awards and contest multipliers based on them.   The club has members with 13 different prefixes:

AF3
K3
K4
KA3
KB3
KC3
KV3
KX3
N3
N8
W3
WA3
WB3

 

Club members call Cumberland, Dauphin, York, and Adams counties home.

 

For more articles please follow the trail below:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

Notes From The Shack…

I have come to the realization that while for most new amateur radio operators, the first radio is a HT.  That is great, but too many are encouraged or choose to get a DMR, D-Star, or System Fusion radio as their first.   Then they struggle to get it programmed and use it.  And then become discouraged and leave the wonderful world of amateur radio.

That is sad.

I know money matters.  I know you want to get the “most bang for your buck”.  Why spend $130 or $150 on an Icom V86 or Kenwood TH-K20A handheld, when for a few dollars more you can buy a Yaesu FT70DR dual band with C4FM digital or an Alinco DJ-MD5XTG dual band DMR radio? 

If this is your very first radio, please, do yourself a favor.  Buy the simple analog radio, and use it.   Get the RTS programming software for that radio and use it.  That will get you some experience on the air, give you an idea of what you can accomplish and get you some experience using simple, easy to configure software.

Once you have mastered the analog HT, then move up to the DMR, D-Star or C4FM radio of your choice.  Digital radios have to be programmed.  Many of the DMR radios have their roots in the commercial radio world and CANNOT be programmed from the front panel.

If you are grumbling that a simple Yaesu FT60 is difficult to program, DMR may be a very challenging hurdle.  So before you get frustrated and quit, master the simple!

 

For more information about radios, setting up your station  and another topics, follow the trail to:   
https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

 

 

Logging Question…                             

From our friends on the N3FJP groups.io site.

 

The resounding answer, from multiple people was NO!  

You worked it, you logged it.  You may never get a QSL card, but you made the QSO. 

Many operators had been licensed for 20, 30, even 40 years before the ARRL introduced Logbook of The World (LoTW).

Many DX operators are just now getting into LoTW and may take a while to transcribe their paper logs into LoTW. 

Be patient grasshopper, your QSL may come yet!

 

Logbook of the World is a free service, provided by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  You do not need to be an ARRL Member to use LoTW.  

But if you are a US-based operator and if you enjoy rapid confirmations of contacts, then join ARRL and “help pay the freight”.  LoTW is the benefit I use the most often.

For more information about ARRL, N3FJP logging software, LoTW and another topics, follow the trail to https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

Q.)  “Do any of you purge your logs of unconfirmed entries after a set amount of time?  

I mean, an unconfirmed entry is not worth much.”

 

A.)  “NO!”

Why Play Radio… 

For many years, I was a member of the Yahoo Groups Sandpatch List.  Sandpatch, named for Sandpatch Mountain and tunnel, is where the Baltimore & Ohio, now CSX, crosses the Alleghenies.  It was built after the world famous Horse Shoe Curve near Altoona, PA where the Pennsylvania Railroad crosses the same mountain chain.  Sandpatch is steeper and has its own horseshoe curve at Mance, PA.

 

Yahoo Groups was a predecessor of groups.io, where you can find the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club group.   The Sandpatch list was fairly small, but one regular poster was Ted from Michigan.  The list went to Facebook as the demise of Yahoo Groups was imminent.  I lost track of the members. 

 

Periodically I like to check on some other amateur radio club websites to see what they are up to and how they compare to our site, maintained by Andy, AF3I.  One of the “peer group” sites is K3SMT, the Somerset County (PA) Amateur Radio Club.  They seem to be an active group and their page has been improved a lot since my last visit.  They have a “Meet Our Members” tab.  There are profiles of some of the members there (sound familiar?)  One of them is Ted from Michigan!  Aka AC8SW!  

 

Thanks to ham radio, Ted and I are back in touch.

 

For more information on the great wide world of amateur radio, follow the trail to:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

To see Ted, AC8SW’s profile on the Somerset Amateur Radio Club site:

http://www.k3smt.org/OurMembers/OurMembers.htm

 

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

“Thanks to ham radio, Ted and I are back in touch.”

Photograph (headshot) of ham radio operator KB3PQT.

Frank, KB3PQT

Rail Fan and
Amateur Radio Operator

 

Notes From The Shack…

Sometimes you just have to go play outside.  But there is life… so what do you do? 

Operate portable from the porch?

Or, get a good look this crowded setup…

 

Yeah, this little folding tray table is kinda full.  And it was Plan C after Plan A and Plan B did not do the job.

 

But with this table and a 1/4 wave Two-Meter mag-mount antenna stuck on the car, we passed message traffic between KB3PQT and AF3I on two-meters FM Simplex using Domino EX and BPSK31.  

That’s 12-15 miles as the crow flies.

 

For more articles on two-meters, digital modes and portable operations, please follow the trail below:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

Fun with N3FJP software – An Update!

A few months ago, I shared some data that I had extracted from my N3FJP Amateur Call Log.

At that time about 41% of my lifetime QSOs were on 80 meters. 

In an effort to use more of the amateur radio spectrum, and to explore some of the other amateur bands, I tried a new approach — “Anything but 80”.

 

How did that go?

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

(Number of QSOs by Band)

Band     CW       Phone          Dig         Total          %

——-       —-        ——-             —-          ——            —

   160          0                9           25             34            1

     80          0        1,279         186        1,465         39

     40          0           209         223           432         11

     30          0                0           82             82            2

     20          0             55         110           165            4

     17          0                8              6             14            0

     15          0                4           24             28            1

     12          0                1              0                1            0

     10          0           103              2           105            3

        6          0                2              0                2            0

        2          0        1,454              5        1,459         39

——- —   —–              —         —–              —

Total          0        3,124         659        3,787       100

 

  • Total QSOs went up about 400 since last October (2020).
  • 80 meters has slid to 39% of the total.
  • Thanks to robust activity on the Sunday Night 2 Meter net (146.490 MHz FM simplex), 2 meters went up to 39%.
  • 40 meters actually lost 2%.  If this was the Electoral College, 40M gained contacts, but not as fast as 2M, so 2M gets more votes.
  • I think my next goal is to get over 100 QSOs on 30 meters and over 200 QSOs on 20 meters.
  • 17 meters has been “okay” lately, and for some reason I prefer 17 and 30 meters to 20 meters. Not sure why, but I do. 
  • 10, 12 and 15 meters will probably have to wait for improved propagation over the next couple of years.

 

If you would enjoy reading more articles like this please follow the trail below:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

 

• Do you have an interest in DMR radios?

 

• Perhaps you are hesitant to wade into digital radio communications because it seems as if there are so many different “standards”.

• D-STAR, WIRES, FUSION, C4FM — Where do I start?.

• Are you just itching to learn more about a new mode that has revolutionized the Plain-Jane HT?

 

• Have you been put off by new buzz words like CODE PLUGS and TALK GROUPS? 

 

Watch this space!

Do these questions sound familiar?

If so, we have some articles in place that take a 10,000 foot view of the digital landscape.

 

And, over the new few months, the digital world explorers at CARC expect to produce new material about digital amateur radio.

 

For more articles please follow the trail below:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

Notes from the shack…

 From the ARRL Newsletter

 Updated Radio Frequency Exposure Rules Become Effective on May 3, 2021

The FCC has announced that rule changes detailed in a lengthy 2019 Report and Order (R&O) governing RF exposure standards go into effect on May 3, 2021. The new rules do not change existing RF exposure (RFE) limits but do require that stations in all services, including amateur radio, be evaluated against existing limits, unless they are exempted.  For stations already in place, that evaluation must be completed by May 3, 2023.  After May 3 of this year, any new station, or any existing station modified in a way that’s likely to change its RFE profile — such as different antennas or placement, or greater power — will need to conduct an evaluation by the date of activation or change.

 

 

The full text of the ARRL Newsletter article
is available here, as a PDF:   Click to read…

Notes from the shack…

The ARRL and Me

What does the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) do for me? 

I am a member of the ARRL.  The ARRL sends a nifty magazine, QST, to my mailbox every month.  QST provides news, equipment reviews, How To articles and upcoming events.

The ARRL has a very comprehensive line of books.  Topics cover everything from How To get licensed, to How To get on-the-air to the enduring annual ARRL Handbook and more advanced How To books.

The ARRL sends members weekly and monthly newsletters. Some of the info makes its way into QST and some does not.

The ARRL tries to offer something for everyone.   Various insurance programs, discounts, classes, seminars, awards and license exams are at your fingertips.

Cumberland Amateur Radio Club (CARC) is an ARRL Affiliated Club.  That relationship brings the club benefits when it comes to attracting new members and promoting our club!

 

See ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

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Amateur radio on the international space station

20th Anniversary Celebration

SSTV Image reception

from space

is within your reach !

The 20th anniversary of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station event is going on through December 31, 2020.  The astronauts and cosmonauts on-board the ISS are transmitting a series of Slow-Scan Television (SSTV) images periodically.  There are at least 8 different images.

The transmissions are freely accessible to those who have suitable radio reception equipment and PC sound card image decoding software. 

The equipment that will do the job is something many ham radio operators already have in their radio stations. 

As part of our How Do I…? series we posted a step-by-step article earlier this year when a similar event took place.  The link to that article is https://www.radioclub-carc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ARISS-SSTV-Presentation.pdf 

 

To be recognized for your accomplishment, and to receive an award certificate, upload one of your received images to https://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_SSTV/index.php 

 

To be eligible for a certificate please complete your upload by January 3, 2021.

The ISS is transmitting on 145.800 MHz FM Simplex and using SSTV mode PD-120. 

 

See  ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

Image shows school children participating in an event promoting Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)

 

 

Learning new stuff is always good!

My dad’s cousin is 86.  She was a math teacher and has been interested in computers since the late 1970s.   She studied and earned her amateur radio license around the same time and became an ARRL Life Member.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cut back on her activities and her friends and family use ZOOM for video calls.  This weekend she decided she wanted to join the fun.  She has successfully completed setting up ZOOM and was able to log in to her first meeting.

CARC uses ZOOM for the monthly meetings and in conjunction  with the 10 meter net on Wednesdays.

If you are a CARC Member, the Zoom Meeting ID and Passcode can be found on our website in the password protected MEMBER AREA > MEMBER LINKS. 

If you are not yet a CARC Member, and someone who would like to attend one of our meetings, please eMail our Club President AF3I (AF3I@RadioClub-CARC.com), introduce yourself, and express your interest in attending either or both of the meetings.  He will send you the Zoom Meeting information you need.

 

Please note:  There are two separate Zoom Meeting Invitations. 

  • One invitation for the Monthly Meeting that takes place on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m..
  • A separate invitation for the 10 Meter Net that takes place on all the remaining Wednesday’s of the month at 8:00 p.m.

 

For useful articles on amateur radio, computers, technology and other fun stuff follow the trail to:

https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.
Frank KB3PQT

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