* *   A POTAstic Day!   * *  

 On Saturday May 4, 2024 CARC members and friends met at Pine Grove Furnace State Park for Derby Day.

Or as one local radio station morning show (Red 102.3) called it in their parody commercial done in the style of a 1980s Budweiser ad as they described the coincidence of Star Wars Day and the Kentucky Derby – “May the Horse be with you”. 

CARC Derby Day was designed to allow individual club members the chance to make a successful Parks On The Air (POTA) activation and participate in the 7th Call Area QSO Party (WA, OR, ID, WY, MT, UT, NV, AZ) and Indiana QSO Party.

Last year’s weather was perfect.  This year not so much.  The scattered thunderstorms became all-day rain forecasts by Friday evening.

Still, thirteen members and friends showed up to demonstrate the fortitude and enthusiasm they bring to the Amateur Radio hobby.

Mark Anstine                      KC3UVG,                  Paula Anstine              KC3UVH,

John Bartko                        W3JJB,                       Dave Donaldson         KC3OSG,

Garry Fasick                       K3EYK,                      Richard Johnson         N3EPY,

Glenn Kurzenknabe         K3SWZ,                     John Luthy                   WA3KCP,

Frank Mellott                     KB3PQT,                   Doug Stenger              KC3CPT,

Bill Wagaman                    N3GTY, 

along with our guests Osmon and his wife Kimberly, who wanted to see the magic happen and learn more about the wonderful world of amateur radio.

 

Contacts and successful POTA activations were made using digital modes and CW.  Band conditions were not the best, but some phone contacts were made in the 7th Call Area QSO Party and some DX, primarily with Italy and Great Britain.

Because it was cold, wet and never got above 50 degrees, the event broke up in the early afternoon.  Doug Stenger KC3CPT, Paula Anstine KC3UVH and Bill Wagaman N3GTY made a wonderful meal of hamburgers and hotdogs. 

After lunch a drawing was held for door prizes, including an ARRL Operating Manual, 250’ feet of Davis antenna wire, a tube of coax connector seal, various other books on antennas, voice over internet-VOIP, GPS and other amateur radio topics.  

Osmon and Kimberly traveled 1 3/4 hours to attend and left with an ARRL Technician exam study guide to help them begin their longer amateur radio journey.

The CARC Radio Road Show team is already looking forward to Derby Day-2025!  Mark your calendar for Saturday May 3, 2025.

 

For more information about POTA, Field Day and another topics, follow the trail to

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

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

*  *   PENNSYLVANIA QSO PARTY preliminary results are in   * *

We did not operate our traditional Portable Multi-Transmitter / Multi-Operation station K3IEC due to the weather forecast calling for rain, cold temperatures, and high winds associated with hurricane remnants.  But quite a few members played along at home.  The PA QSO Party team has now posted those results.

And the winners are…

Name

Call Sign Award Category Location
Harry Fasick K3EYL 2nd place Single Operator Low Power SSB Adams County
Dave Smith W3SOX 1st place Single Operator High Power SSB Cumberland County
Garry Fasick K3EYK 3rd place Single Operator Low Power SSB. Cumberland County
John Luthy WA3KCP 1st place Single Operator High Power Mixed (multiple modes) Cumberland County
Andrew Forsyth AF3I 1st Place Single Operator Low Power Mixed (multiple modes) York County

Congratulations !

For more information about Radio-Sport and another topics, follow the trail to:

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

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

**  In Memoriam    Thelma – Radio Dog  **

 

We received the sad news that Thelma – Radio Dog passed away.   Thelma was a trained service dog for club members Mark Anstine, KC3UVG and Paula Anstine, KC3UVH.  Thelma was a active participant in club events and will be missed.

Please consider a donation in her memory to the Adams County SPCA.

Online:
Home | adams-county-spca (adamscountyspca.org)

By Mail:

Adams County SPCA
11 Goldenville Road
Gettysburg, PA  17325

 

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

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

#####

**  FAMOUS HISTORICAL PHRASES RENDERED IN MORSE CODE **

 

Club President, Frank Mellott KB3PQT, offers a challenge to viewers of this blog page.

Frank gathered several well-known phrases from history and applied the corresponding dots and dashes to paper. 

He wanted you to read the printed dots and dashes and submit a transcription of your discovery. 
But Morse Code involves hearing dits and dahs.  Your Editor recorded the audible dits and dahs and hopes our website can render the WAV file as audio.

There are two files.  The first file contains audio for phrases one through four.  The second file contains audio for phrases five through eight.
The Morse Code was sent at 10 words per minute.  Each phrase is introduced with a tag such as CW1 NEXT and a moment of silence.     
The space between words was lengthened slightly for the benefit of those who are taking their first steps with Morse Code.

The length of each file is on the order of four and one-half minutes. 

Let’s see if this works:   (YES !  It worked.)

Phrases 1 through 4

 

Phrases 5 through 8

 

Give it a try.   Write down the words that you heard.
Submit your entry via eMail to:  president@RadioClub-CARC.com
We welcome your comments.

Questions can be directed via eMail to:   AF3I@RadioClub-CARC.com   If you would like receive a slower transmission let him know.  Andrew is open to special requests.

#####

**  So how many active hams are there?  **

 Curious Newcomer (CN) and Experienced Elmer (EE) both started interesting groups.io threads.  One asked for people to tell what they do on the air, and the other has had a lot of fun with FT8 and wondered if …

a.)   With that as background, I have noticed recently that when I watch the JTAlert “All decodes” window, 20-25 percent of those active on the band at a given time are people whom I’ve already worked. That makes me wonder about a couple of things:

 b:)   How popular are the FT modes, anyway, and if you could collect similar stats for CW and phone, would we see something similar?  I’m still a long way from “working the bands out”, but it’s been a little surprising.

 Let’s look at numbers.  A couple years ago ARRL stated that FT8 was 70% of all HF activity.  That is market share a monopolist would love.  70% is a lot, and that is only 1 mode.

 

The ARRL, as of August 14, 2023, shows 759,159 licensed amateurs in the US and territories.

 

Class Number Percent
 

Novice

5969 1%
 

Technician

377810 50%

 

Tech Plus

0 0%

General

187274 25%
Advanced 33327 4%

 

Extra

155139 20%

 

Technicians have some HF privileges, but I doubt that more than maybe 10% get on HF. 

And a high number, maybe as high as 50%, of all Technician class licensees are not active in the hobby at all.   It has been over 23 years since anyone received a new Advanced class license.  In 2015 there were over 54,000 Advanced licensees.  While some have upgraded to Extra, too many have become inactive or Silent Keys. 

I have no good way of estimating how many General and Extra class licensees are actually active on the air.  But on any given day there may be as few as 200,000 to 250,000 who actively would use the HF bands in the US. The good news?  In 2016, there were 725,000 US licenses. According to NPR, that was up 60% from 1981.  But according to Wikipedia, in 2021, the US had 779, 545.  or a whopping 0.233% of the  population.  In 2 years the US has lost about 20,000 and by the numbers, most of those came from Advanced licensees going SK.  In percentage of the population licensed, the US has fallen to third.  Japan is in second and Slovenia is in first place.  The US has about twice as many as Japan, but a smaller fraction of the population is licensed. China is in third place in numbers, with 150,000 as of 2019.

Amateur radio is not dead.  But it will always need new people getting involved.

 

For more information about Amateur Radio, Cumberland Amateur Radio Club, and another topics, follow the trail to

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

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

#####

** Radio musings **

When I have too much time on my hands I enjoy crunching numbers.  We had some cold, wet weather recently.  I stayed indoors.  That was my invitation to curl up with a good database and extract some numbers. 

My research was focused on the popularity of amateur radio as a hobby around the world and locally in Central Pennsylvania.  My results are represented by the proportion of licensed Amateur Radio Operators among the population as a whole.

 

USA

The USA has 779,545 licensed amateur radio operators.  In case you wondered, that’s 0.233 percent of the population.  For those of you who broke up with math in the 1980s, and learned that getting back together is awkward, that works out to 23 amateurs per 10,000 people. 

Let’s put those numbers into a real-world context.  The seating capacity of the GIANT Center arena is 10,500.   How about dropping the loose change and call it 10,000.  If you sprinkled 23 ham radio operators among all the event attendees you would have the same proportion of ham radio operators in the arena as there are in the United States, as a whole.

 

Global Highlights

By comparison, in other locations where amateur radio is a poplar hobby, we found these numbers from 2019.

Japan has 381,899 licensed operators, or 0.304% of the population.

Thailand has 101,763 licensed operators for 0.147% of the population.

Germany has 63,709 licensed operators for 0.0735% of the population.

 

Locally in Central Pennsylvania

Here are population counts in the 170xx Zip Code area as of 2021

            Cumberland County has 262,919 people.

            Perry County has 45,986 people

            Lebanon County has 143,943 people.

The FCC shows 1,752 licensed amateur radio operators in 170xx.  So, at 0.39%, that Zip Code area has nearly twice as many amateur radio operators as the USA average.  Go 170xx !

Moving to the west, the 155xx Zip Code covers Bedford and Somerset counties.  A database search returned 242 licensed amateur radio operators.  Bedford has a population of 47.461 people and Somerset has 73,627.  The percentage of amateur radio operators in the 155xx Zip Code area is 0.20% of the population, which is less than the national average.

 

Marketing Analysis

You probably are wondering…. Why do these percentages matter?  Really – Who Cares?

Well, someone cares.  You can be sure of that.   

  • Mr. or Ms / Mrs. Business Person — If you are thinking of opening an Amateur Radio themed Pizza and Cheese Steak Restaurant your business is more likely to succeed in Cumberland County because the pool of potential customers is greater there than if you located your shop in Bedford or Somerset counties. That is why you care.
  • If dating an electronics wizard who wears a plaid shirt and a baseball cap embroidered with his amateur radio call sign is one of your personal objectives you are likely to find a bigger selection of potential candidates in Cumberland County than you might find in Bedford or Somerset counties. That is why you care.
  • What if you needed technical advice on the directional antenna heading for making a long path QSO to Madagascar? If you focused your search on Cumberland County you stand a better chance of getting an answer than if you sent out feelers in Bedford or Somerset counties.  That is why you care.

 

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

#####

** Call Signs **

 I have seen some nifty call signs lately.  The call signs mentioned below are all active. 

Some people are fascinated by license plates and try to make clever sayings from state issued letters and numbers.  I suspect many of these are vanity calls, but when I see a call sign, especially if I want to remember it, I come up with words.

For example

Valli N8QVT:             Valli calls herself Quick Valli Talk.

Dave W3VRE:          I remember Dave’s call as W3 Virginia Railway Express

 

Here are some nifty ones:

WG5EEK   When I first saw it, I read it as WG5EEK. but looking at it again, I think it is WG5EEK

K8TE  would the perfect vanity call for a certain Youtuber from Montana with an interest in radio, but @KatesAg will have to wait a bit.

W8UPI   or W8 United Press International.

KF0RT or KF0RT  (use the zero as an “o”.

NU4U   or “New for You!”

KA9FOX  The KA9 prefix makes this work.  “Canine FOX”

 

After working KS0USA  I got to pondering once again how many states you can work into the call sign with a USA suffix?

US calls begin with A, K, N, W  and we have states that start with all four.  Extra points if the call area matches the state.

AL    Alabama             for example AL4USA

AK    Alaska                  A natural Alaska call is a KL

AR   Arkansas            

AZ    Arizona                Unfortunately we won’t see these.  All the A calls are 2×2 or 2×1:

                                       AF4JH, AF3I for example.

KS    Kansas                KS0USA is an active call

KY    Kentucky            

NC   North Carolina   

ND   North Dakota     

NE   Nebraska            

NJ    New Jersey        

NY   New York            

NV   Nevada                Unfortunately the natural N calls have a 2 letter prefix, or suffix

                                       You have a N#ABC  or NN#AB  but not NN#ABC for example

WA   Washington       

WI    Wisconsin          

WV   West Virginia      WV8USA (active call)

WY   Wyoming            

 

 

What interesting calls have you seen or worked?

 

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

#####

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

#####

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Why Play Radio… 

 

For about 50 years or so, rail fans have used radio scanners to listen to the railroad frequencies in the land mobile FM portion of the 137-174 MHz band.  The railroad frequencies are right below the National Weather Service 162 MHz frequencies and can be found in the 159 to 161 MHz range.

Because the land mobile band is close to the Amateur Radio two-meter band, and many amateur radio transceivers can receive the Weather Service band, those transceivers are capable of listening in on the land mobile frequencies.  You cannot transmit, but you can listen.

 

The other evening I was at local rail fan spot waiting on a Norfolk Southern heritage unit.   Some other fans arrived.  I have noticed this before, but it was especially obvious that evening.  One of them was using a cell phone and a scanning app.  I do not know which one, but Broadcastify is a common app.  They have receivers and capture the radio traffic and put it on the internet where it can be accessed via an app or website.   There is a time lag as all this happens.  My amateur radio receiver, set to 160.980 MHz FM, would pick up something.  About a minute later the nearby cell phones would begin making noise and we’d hear the same conversation again. 

 

I have spent well over 30 years in pursuit of the perfect “scanner”.  I think I have almost found it…and used it for many years now.  But I am still slightly amused when I see someone rolling in and they sort of look down on this “old guy clinging to his outdated technology”.  Then they are amazed when I hear stuff they have not heard yet.

 

Radio is cool!

 

For more articles on two-meters amateur radio, railroad frequency lists, and related topics follow the trail to

 

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

Explore the content behind the GENERAL INTEREST TOPICS heading.

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

“… I am still slightly amused when I see someone rolling in and they sort of look down on this “old guy clinging to his outdated technology”.  Then they are amazed when I hear stuff they have not heard yet.”

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 publishes a digital magazine, QST, 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

##### 

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

#####

Take a break from radio…

…or play radio outdoors !

 

Amateur radio is a fun hobby!  It is amazing to receive a Slow-Scan Television (SSTV) image from the International Space Station, or realize the FT8 digital contact you just completed put a new state or grid square in your logbook.

 

But sometimes you just need to take a break, or play elsewhere.  Fall is a beautiful time of the year.  Whether it’s wandering off to Leidigh Park to sit by the creek and fish, watch birds, or photograph trains as they cross the nearly 100 year old railroad bridge, take a ham radio along!

 

That Hand-Held Transceiver (HT) you routinely use for accessing the nearby repeater can make a great scanner for listening to railroad communication, or with a handheld yagi antenna and a lot of luck, you could make a QSO with another ham operator via earth-orbiting satellite. 

 

You might enjoy putting a mobile HF rig in your car or truck.  Some of your fellow ham radio operators might be in need of a two-way radio contact from one of the rare counties.  Consider combining a sight-seeing trip with some ham radio activity.  If you give out rare contacts be prepared to send QSL cards to the lucky men and women on the other end of the contact.  They will appreciate your efforts.

 

Follow the trail below to find more articles on radio, SSTV, rail-fanning and other stuff:

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

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

Photograph of ham radio operator W3VRE operating his ham radio transceiver.

 

Part of the Notes From The Shack…
series.

Scott Davis, N3FJP and his fine team at Affirmatech have created a constellation of software logging packages.  His AC Call Log is one of the more popular software loggers, and there are dozens of computer assisted logging programs.  Not only does his software do the usual logging, easy uploads to e-QSL and Logbook of the World, address labels, but under the VIEW tab I found some interesting statistics. 

A screen snapshot taken from my log:

Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
 —-           —      —–         —     —–       —

  160        0       9      25      34       1

   80        0   1,192     178   1,370      41

   40        0     208     210     418      13

   30        0       0      70      70       2

   20        0      55      81     136       4

   17        0       8       2      10       0

   15        0       4      20      24       1

   12        0       1       0       1       0

   10        0      96       2      98       3

    6        0       1       0       1       0

    2        0   1,137       5   1,142      35

            —   —–     —   —–     —

 Total       0   2,711     593   3,304     100

 

A few months ago, 80m made up 43% of my total contacts, and 2m made up 33%.  This Summer and Fall I made a deliberate effort to make contacts on “anything but 80m”.  That has not gone so well, as the shift from 80m to 2m shows, but I made more contacts on 30m (a fun band!) as well as 20m and 40m.  I am always amazed at how, while my perception is that most of my radio time is spent on digital modes, phone is the mode on which the bulk of my contacts have been made.

The N3FJP statistics also show the ARRL sections (usually obtained from contest loggers and imported into AC Call Log afterwards), states, countries, etc. The item I wish it tracked was mode by type:  RTTY; PSK31, FT8 etc.

 

Total Contacts by State \ Prov:

 State       Total     %
 —–         —–    —

 PA          1,283    39

 VA          1,016    31

 NC            189     6

 (blank)      98     3

 MD            63     2

 FL              47     1

 

This screen snapshot shows my top five states (plus the ever popular “blank”). 

I am not sure which surprised me more: that 70% of all my contacts were made with two states, or that NC ranks third, or that MD ranks fifth.

 

Follow the trail below to the Know-How Resources Tab to read more about computers and amateur radio,   https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

Not just for grown-ups!

 

Faye KN4WDF recently was the Virginia Fone Net  Net Control Station and reported that she had talked to a newly licensed ham on another net she runs.  The new ham is an 8 year old girl.  Unfortunately I do not know the young lady’s call sign.

Faye is an enthusiastic supporter of the ham radio hobby.  While has not been licensed very many years herself, Faye seems to be very good at drawing people into the hobby.  She has expressed several times she wishes she had gotten into ham radio decades ago instead of waiting until after she retired.

How enthusiastic is Faye?  She was still getting her 50 required check-ins in order to become a VFN member when she said she was willing to be a net control on Saturdays, a day when the net can get 50 or more check-ins.  That’s enthusiastic!

 

The Virginia Fone Net meets on 3.947 MHz, at 1630 and 1930 Eastern time daily.

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

 

#####

Field Day, Contesting and Random Operating Thoughts

After Field Day 2020 was in the books a group of us from the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club K3IEC Field Day crew discussed what worked, what didn’t work, and what we can do to improve.  Some of our thoughts may well apply to your radio shack.

  1. Know thy radio! Sure, you have a brand new super duper KenIYea1000 with every bell and whistle you could possibly want.  But do you really know how to use it?  Or every time you want to adjust something you need to get the manual out?  Doesn’t have to be a new radio, just new to you or maybe an old favorite that doesn’t get used much.  The point is if you are spending more time looking at the book than operating, maybe you need more practice!
  1. What should you expect to achieve? If your antenna works best on 80 meters, you may have a less than satisfactory QSO rate in the early hours of Field Day, but wait until dark and it could be your time to shine!  If you are able to cover multiple bands, either with one or several antennas, you can hopefully make contacts regardless of what band is “open”.  Starting on 20 or 40 meters (or even 10 or 15 meters) then gradually moving up (or is that “moving down”) to 80 meters may net you more contacts and increase the fun level!
  1. On Field Day a “clean sweep” – working every ARRL section – is an awesome accomplishment. But if you cannot sit still for a long time, have family or household responsibilities and know you can operate for only a few hours, you may need to lower your expectations.  The point is to have fun, not generate stress!

 

What you just read is the first three of ten proven techniques that will help improve your operating results — whether it be the Field Day Operating Event, or any one of the many Radio Sport Contests that fill the airwaves most weekends. 

To read the entire group of ten proven techniques, please follow this link which will bring you directly to the PDF file.  How Do I Field Day Tips [PDF]

Or, you may wish to visit our Know-How Resources tab to see the many different subjects and topics our authors have written about.  It is a treasure trove.

 

See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

FT8 addiction?

With some help from our friends at WSJTX@groups.io.com

FT8 is one of the many digital modes in the WSJT-X  software suite from Joe Taylor, K1JT and his team of collaborators.  The basic software covers everything from weak signal HF to earth-moon-earth and meteor scatter transmissions on 2 meters and 70 centimeters in the VHF and UHF bands.   WSJT–X really took off about 4 years ago with the introduction of JT65 and since the introduction of FT8 in spring of 2018, FT8 has become one of, if not the most popular HF digital mode.  Please see the Know How Resources Tab for additional articles about the WSTJ-X suite, other digital suites and various digital modes.

Are there any psychologists out there, professional, amateur or wannabe, who have some theories about why FT8, its sibling FT4, and even its older cousins, JT65 and JT9, are so addictive?
73,
Ken, AB1J

Some replies:

Yes…

FT8, it’s all the fun of Ham Radio – without the jibber-jabber!

For me, since I have hearing loss & tinnitus, I enjoy being able to turn the volume to zero & avoid the noise. And you can certainly multi task in that environment, have a meal, conduct a transaction, pay a bill, even watch a favorite TV show, etc. 

In other words, having a life AND playing radio using FT8 are totally compatible – enjoy!

73 – John – N7GHZ

 

It’s addictive because it works well in crappy conditions, you can quickly and easily see where prop is going, and you can surf the web while operating.

Scott N7JI

Or clean up the shack. I use WSJT-X software because they make QSOs that I can’t make on CW, the mode I enjoy most.
73, Jim K9YC

 

I could tell you, but right now I am in a 15 second continuous, never ending, loop … 🙂 
Marion  K4GOK

 

from another poster:

Hook up GridTracker and use a Mario Coin sound when it successfully uploads a grid to LOTW and it’s  like a video game!

 

That is a major advantage. One can work stations all over the world even in the horrible current band conditions. Since starting with JT65 and moving to FT8 (a little FT4), it got my digital DXCC and have credit for 100 countries confirmed digital on QRZ and eQSL. I just need a confirmation from an Alaskan station I worked a few days ago on 10M (that was a surprise) and a QSO and QSL from Maine (Hello, any amateurs there — almost never see a balloon.) to complete my 10M digital WAS. I have confirmed all states digitally on 15M, 17M, 20M, 30M and 40M. Due to high SWR on my DX-88 vertical, I don’t work 80M much at all.
John, WB9VGJ

 

It “does exactly what it says on the tin”

And, you don’t need a big all singing station to get heard, just a few watts will work the world!

Ken.. G0ORH

 

Whether you love it, or hate it, FT8 seems to be here to stay for a while.  Will it be around over 150 years from now like Morse Code (CW)-the original digital mode?  or fade away to become about as commonly used as the Telex-Over-Radio  (TOR) modes like TOR, PACTOR and other variants of those that were common in the 1980s and 1990s but are rarely heard today?   Either way, for now, it has given a lot of Technician class licensees the incentive to upgrade to General and sold a lot of radios.

See ‘ya down the log!

Frank KB3PQT

#####

Are you an active ham?

Good day!

The United States leads the world in having the greatest number of licensed amateur radio operators.  There are about 763,000 among all US License Classes.  About 8,000 of those have Novice licenses, 387,000 have Technician Licenses, 179,000 General, 38,000 Advanced and 150,000 Extra Class.  About 160,000 people, not all licensed, are members of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). 

The US is 4th place (behind Japan, China and Thailand) in the percentage of the total population holding an amateur radio license.  It’s about 0.23%.  A tiny number.  And, for those looking for comparisons, more Americans have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in 2020 than the number of Americans who have a ham radio license. 

Pennsylvania has about 24,000 licensed amateurs.    That’s about 0.19% of the state population, so PA trails the national average.  California not only has the greatest number of licensed hams among all US states at over 106,000, and also has the greatest percentage of the state population licensed at 0.27%.  Texas has over 53,000 and 0.24% of the population licensed.  Alabama has barely 12,000 but 0.25% licensed and Virginia has over 20,000 and 0.24% licensed.

How many of these licensed ham radio operators are active?  No one really knows.  Some are Silent Keys (ham radio jargon for deceased) whose licenses have not yet expired or cancelled.  Many students got a ham radio license for extra credit in high school Physics class, and never really had much intention to ever getting a radio station on the air.  Some started out with great intentions, then either left the hobby or put it on hold as life interrupted.  Many of today’s “new hams” were licensed 20 or 30 years ago, left the hobby, and as they become “empty nesters” or look for a retirement hobby they return.

If you are an active ham, what are you doing to encourage others to become more active?  If you are an inactive ham, is it involuntary, or have you simply not found the time? 

If it is the later, What is required to get you back on the air?  Stealth antennas?  Portable operations?  Satellite activity?

Even if you don’t have a ham radio station or antenna you can enjoy some aspects of the hobby by using EchoLink.  EchoLink is PC-based software which uses the Internet in conjunction with traditional ham radio.

Our own club – the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club – conducts some of its activities using the Zoom Web Meeting application.  If you would like to familiarize yourself with the type of activities that are of interest to today’s ham radio operators I invite you to connect into one of our Wednesday evening 8:00 p.m. get-togethers.

eMail AF3I@RadioClub-CARC.com  to tell us what is on your mind and to request a meeting invitation with ID and Password.  We are glad to help and will welcome you.

Check out our Know-How Resources tab for some ideas and more information!

 

See ya down the log!

Frank KB3PQT

Memory Aids for Ham Radio Call Signs

Photograph of air horn trumpets as one might find on a train locomotive or eighteen-wheeler truck.What on earth is this doing here? 
                                                                               It will make sense after you read the story.

Some people find memorizing things is easier if they associate it with something else. This is how a lot of acronyms come in existence and how “memory experts” sell their tips. 

Their memorization techniques generally don’t work for me.  If your name is Karen, your chosen career is a Nurse, and I cannot remember something as simple as that how does thinking of Karen as “Carin” as in A Nurse Cares For Someone help?   The steel sieve leaks enough! 

The other night I was happily working FT8 (A popular digital mode.  See the Know-How Resources tab for more articles on that topic).  A call from a grid square I don”t have confirmed popped up.  I looked at the call and did a double take — K3LA.  I had to work that one!.  

Why?  I am a train enthusiast.  The Nathan K3LA air horn is one of the most common and widely used locomotive horns in the USA.  The Nathan K5LA, with 5 trumpets, is less common but even more impressive.  The ham radio call sign K3LA belongs to Chester located in Sharon, PA.  His QRZ page gives no biography info, so I have no clue if his call sign was an available 1×2 call, or perhaps Chester really likes Nathan air horns, or trains in general. 

I was watching some other interesting call signs. 

W0BLE.   is that “Wobble”? “Wobbly”?  or W0 Bessemer [&] Lake Erie [RR]?

M0WIT.   “Mow it”? or “Mo Wit”? 

K3GPS, a member of our own ham radio club and now a Silent Key, was famous for his love of technology.  The call sign fit him perfectly.

What interesting calls have you seen?

 

See “ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

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