Sep 20

The 2016 BikeMS ride starting from San Antonio on October 1st is less than a month away from us now.

We still need hams on Saturday to fill a few rest stop positions. Help!

Hams are used on this ride for lots of positions.  Hams are the glue that holds the event together on the day of event, actually 2 days of the event.   If you have APRS capabilities, please plan on using APRS.   Frequencies will be all on 2 meter repeaters, other than perhaps medical.  SAGs may be using dual band, with the Scooter Net simplex frequency on 440mhz. (Same frequency as prior years, same as used for the BPMS150 ride.)

Hams are  used for driving rental SAG Vans and trucks on both days, picking up riders from the side of the road and taking them to the rest stops.  SAGs also take riders from rest stops up the line, sometimes to the finish line, if the rider had unrepairable breakdown of their bicycle, or they were just too tired to finish on their own.  Although we don’t emphasize it much, we have had some serious accidents or injuries in the past where the ham equipped SAGs and Motorcycle Safety Marshals have saved the day.  It’s a serious business, but we try to have fun while doing it.  SAG assignments are for a 2 day commitment due to the nature of the rental vehicles.

Hams are needed for Shadow Positions, riding with medical units, police cars, event officials (think Tour Directors, etc.) and for Rest Stop communications.  While we prefer 2 day commitments for these positions, we understand that some folks are only available for 1 day at a time.

At present time,  Charlie says we mostly need rest stop hams for Saturday, but I think some shadow positions are still available. Enough SAG drivers have been lined up, but backups are always appreciated in the event someone has to drop out suddenly.

The lead volunteer contact is Charlie Land KC5NKK who can be contacted via email at

Sep 13

American Legion Amateur Radio Club Event

American Legion Legionnaires will honor their fellow veterans in a special on-the-air amateur radio tribute on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

Members of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) will operate on the short wave bands starting at 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. EST [1400 – 2130Z], using the call sign K9TAL.

Any ham radio operators who contact the station are eligible to receive an attractive full-color commemorative certificate.

After working K9TAL, send a 9X12 inch self-addressed stamped envelope to The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, 700 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Sep 13

Do you want to be an Amateur Radio Operator? Would you like to be of more service to your community? The Atascosa County Amateur Radio Club (ACARC) will teach a Technician Class course for members of the communities in the Pleasanton and surrounding areas.

WHEN:  September 17th and 24th (Saturdays 9:00am to 5:00pm) with the license exam given at 3:00 on the 24th.  Candidates should attend both sessions.

WHERE:  Leming School in Leming, Bld A on 5th St. (Fire Marshall Dept.)

COST: The FCC license is free and good for 10 years.  The cost of the amateur radio exam is $14.00.

The exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions and is graded immediately.  A passing score is 74 (26 correct).

The instructor recommends reading through the Gordon West Technician Class 2014-2018 Study Guide before the course starts.  Texts for the course should be obtained as early as possible.

It can be purchased on-line for $28.95+tax at or from ACARC for $25.00.

A Baofeng handheld radio will be raffled off after the exam. To be eligible, attend the course and pass the Technician exam.  You may go home with a radio you can begin listening to right away and talking on as soon as the FCC assigns your call sign.

The 426 question pool from which the exam is taken and the 3 graphics can be downloaded from  The club also has a file which contains only the correct answers.  The latter can be emailed upon request.  Both of these are FREE.

Here are some sites where practice tests can be taken.  Some may ask you to “sign in”.  This is so they can track your exam questions and not give you the same ones over and over.  When you are consistently making 85% or better, you are ready to take the exam for real.                                                   

To sign up for the course, buy a book, get the correct answer file or if you have any questions, email Evelyn or leave a message on the Club’s Facebook page:    

Aug 30

CTX_TDC_2016_2-Day_RouteEverybody is likely familiar with the American Diabetes Tour de Cure bicycle rides.  San Antonio held theirs last May and Austin will holding their 2-day event in September.   There are also rides held in Corpus Christi (April) and a new one being held in Laredo later this year that could use some ham help in the future.

If you have an Emergency Go-Kit, this is the perfect opportunity to dust it off and test it.  If you have a mast and portable beam antenna available, this would be a great time to use it.  Mobile radios will be required on high power.  A few locations might, maybe, be close enough to the repeaters to hit, or at least monitor using your HT, but don’t count on it.

The 2-day Austin Central Texas Tour de Cure ride this year, will start in Dripping Springs, loop out west around Blanco, TX, and then head south on Saturday over to Gruene, TX, just north of New Braunfels.  On Sunday, that 2-day ride will leave Gruene and wander north thru Wimberley, on it’s way back to Dripping Springs of course.

This ride is a bit different from those we have supported with ham radio communications in the past.   Their SAG vehicles are provided by the Austin based ABC Commercial Services company (formerly ABC Pest Control with that Ant Eater logo).   Rest stop supplies are coordinated by Austin Energy vehicles, with a few Penske trucks thrown in for good measure.   So that leaves mostly Rest Stops that need ham radio communications, plus a few trouble shooter hams that will be roaming the route in support of the MSET-TX motorcycle EMS group.

We’ve got some hams from the Hays / Caldwell ARC  on board, thanks to Mike Wilmore KF5ACHJeff Schmidt N5MNW is the overall ham coordinator, operating from the Austin / Dripping Springs main hub.  Lee Besing N5NTG is coordinating from the south end of the route.  Primary net control will be in Dripping Springs, with a backup net control in Gruene at the Saturday finish line.  Frequencies are being tested and will likely be using IRLP linked repeaters on 2 meters, but that may change depending upon the testing.

If you can help out either or both days, please contact Jeff Schmidt at and Lee Besing at  If you are a member of Hayes Caldwell ham club, please contact Mike Wilmore at


Aug 30

(Karnes County) The Otto Kaiser Memorial Hospital in Kenedy, Texas, has contacted us asking for help in joining the 21st century of ham radio communications.   🙂   I put them in touch with the ARES leaders for that district (Karnes County) and some others.  Ongoing discussion is starting up to cover a NDMS drill on the morning of September 20th.   The problem is that there are only about 10 hams licensed in that immediate area, with 2 of them (husband / wife) being registered hams and over the road truck drivers.

The hospital has a Kenwood dual band TM-D700 mobile radio that they are in the process of moving to a new location within the hospital.  They also want to establish HF Packet / Winlink capabilities.  Help with designing the antenna system and equipment will likely be needed.  I’m presuming the hospital is willing to budget for the equipment, but you know that presuming can be dangerous at times.

The latest word that I received (yesterday) was that the hospital would like someone to teach a class for some of their hospital employees and area volunteers to create a new batch of hams.    Of course, using HF would require a ham license of at least General class.

If you would like to help, please email me at with the words “Karnes County” in the subject line.  I’ll forward your information to John Taylor KE5HAM (STXARES District 10 DEC)  in Victoria.

Aug 16

The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club, located in Kerrville, TX, invites you to our next meeting on September 1, 2016.

We meet the first Thursday of each month at the American Red Cross building, 333 Earl Garrett (corner of Earl Garrett and Jefferson) in downtown Kerrville. Meet and greet from 6 – 7 PM; business meeting beginning at 7 PM followed by a monthly program. Visitors are welcome!

The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club has over 90 members and is a general interest club. We have a full HF and VHF station (N5HR) located at the American Red Cross which is available to club members. We also operate an open repeater (N5HR) 146.98- (PL 162.2).

For more information call 830-257-0073, email or visit our website at or our Facebook page.

Aug 16

When: Four Saturdays beginning September 3, 10, 17 and ending September 24th. Classes will run from 9 AM until 3 PM, with a 45 minute break for lunch.

Where: American Red Cross building, 333 Earl Garrett St., Kerrville.

Cost: $30 for the course, plus $25 for license course book. We will use the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 3rd edition. It is available from and Or I can purchase it for you. The $30 course fee will be waived for any public service employee or active/retired military.

Deadline to Sign Up:  August 28, 2016.

Content of Course:   The course will cover everything you will need to know to pass the FCC Technician Class Amateur Radio License Exam. The course book includes all informational materials, and all the questions that may be on the exam. No Morse code is required for any amateur radio license, only the written exam. I will email a copy of the syllabus of the course to registered students when we get closer to the first class date.

Additional Licensing Information: You will have an opportunity to take the FCC amateur radio license exam immediately following the conclusion of the last class on September 24th. The cost is $15 and is payable at time you take the exam. This fee is not included in the course fee. As part of my course, I will go over the exam process, what to expect on the day of the exam, and the paperwork you will need to bring with you. You will also have the opportunity to take several practice exams as part of the course.

Information on Your Instructor:  Dale Gaudier holds an Extra Class amateur radio license, call sign K4DG. Dale has over 48 years experience as a ham radio operator. He has a background in physics and electronics. He is a registered amateur radio instructor and license examiner.

Need more info? Call Dale Gaudier at 830-257-0073 or email at for more information on these classes.

Sponsoring Organization: This license course is sponsored by The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club located in Kerrville, TX.  The Hill Country Amateur Radio Club meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 PM at the American Red Cross in Kerrville. Visitors are welcome!



Jun 29


Where:  Christus Santa Rosa Medical Center Hospital, 2827 Babcock Rd.   (West of the Medical Center, between Medical Dr. and Hamilton-Wolfe Rd.), in the Kingman room. (As you go in the main entrance, turn right past the information desk.  The room is at the end of the hall.)

When:   Saturdays, August 13, 20 and 27, 9AM to 5PM.  Attendees should attend all three sessions.  Test will be given Saturday,  August 27 at 3PM.

Cost:      $15 for VE exam

Recommended study material:  Gordon West, W5YI General Class Book.  (Available at  www.w5yi or 1-800-669-9594.  Cost, about $25)  Amazon has it also, click here.

For additional information, please contact Bob Rodriguez at (210) 887-6618 or .

Jun 22

AARO will be holding their Field Day event at Raymond Russell Park, on IH-10 west near Camp Bullis exit, operating on Saturday only due to restrictions on the park usage.

ROOST will be at their Clubhouse location on the SE side, off Hwy 181, operating the full weekend.

GVARC will be operating from a member’s home (WQ5C) on River Road, but using Temp FD antennas and power sources. Access may be limited after dark, but operating the full weekend.

Texas Water Safari got rescheduled until this weekend, due to river flooding a few weeks ago, so many of those hans won’t be able to participate in FD this year.

I haven’t heard about the plans yet for Atascosa County ARC (Poteet fairgrounds or in Pleasanton?), Wilson County ARC (City park in Floresville?), or Guadalupe County (Chaparral ARC in Seguin).

San Antonio Radio Club (SARC) – The club will be holding it’s Field Day event in Shavano Park. The address for this event is 900 Saddletree Ct. Shavano Park, TX 78231. The club plans to operate from Noon on Saturday through Noon on Sunday. They will also host a barbeque at the site Saturday evening.

Medina County Amateur Radio Club (MCARC) – The Field Day event will be held at the Creekwood Community center located just off US90 half way between Hondo and Castroville. The community center is at the corner of County Road 458 and County Road 4510. Operating times are from Noon on Saturday and into Saturday evening (potentially 8pm).

Hill Country Amateur Radio Club (HCARC) – The Field Day event will be held at Our Lady of the Hills High School athletic field and pavilion in Kerrville, TX. Address is 235 Peterson Farm Road Kerrville, TX 78028. The site is just off of TX 27 SE of Kerrville near the Kerrville Municipal Airport. Please RSVP with Dale Gaudier k4dg(at)arrl(dot)net.

Kendall Amateur Radio Society (KARS) – The KARS 2016 Field Day event will be held Saturday June 25th between 1:00PM and 8:00PM CDT and Sunday June 26th between 7:00AM and 1:00PM CDT. The event will be held at Alan Walters, K5NOF’s, ranch located at 48 Rust Lane, BOERNE, TX 78006-1163. More information can be found at If you go please let them know that you are from STXDXCC so that they know who you are.

The ARRL has also provided a Field Day Locator website if you are in need of more information.

Have fun this weekend and be safe! Get out there and get on the air!

Have you tried the highest rated email app?
With 4.5 stars in iTunes, the Yahoo Mail app is the highest rated email app on the market. What are you waiting for? Now you can access all your inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, AOL and more) in one place. Never delete an email again with 1000GB of free cloud storage.
Yahoo! Groups • Privacy • Unsubscribe • Terms of Use


Jun 16

New and Old Notes About Field Day

Field Day is coming up soon, on June 25-26th, so here are a few thoughts (and facts) as you plan your group’s operation.

A FEW TIPS FOR ANY FIELD DAY OPERATION – I’ve posted some of this before but I think they should be repeated. (I’ve updated them a bit for 2016) 

1. When setting up antennas within close proximity: If you are using wire antennas such as dipoles, and they run parallel to each other there will be interference on your HF operating bands in the form of hash so arrange them at right angles to each other and at slightly different heights.

If you use wire antennas such as dipoles, try to stay away from trap dipoles and use full length antennas instead. You may also wish to run your dipoles in different configurations such as have one as an “inverted V” and another as a sloper, etc. An antenna cut to the exact band you are using will decrease interference to and from other bands.

Do not compromise by using trap or “all band” antennas. (The only efficient “all band antennas” are a log periodic and a “fan dipole” NOT a “folded dipole” or others that claim they use “balancing resistors” as this only wastes RF energy in the form of heat.) With others you may make a few contacts, but they are junk and will cause harmonic radiation. Do not fall for any ads claiming “miracle antennas”.

Don’t waste your watts! Dedicated operating needs the right antenna. Wasted energy on trap antennas (some of your RF energy is used up in the form of heat) and that equals an inefficient radiator, especially as you go lower in frequency. On HF, try not to use vertical antennas as they receive too much man-made noise from sources such as generators, street lamps, etc.

Using a Yagi style antenna for Field Day may look impressive, but be careful that the “focused energy” doesn’t interfere with other operations. Know as well, that transmitting focused energy may be all well and good, but it, in receiving signals it can also make your station “deaf” from directions so you may have to waste time turning the beam…. is it worth it? —–  READ ON, THERE’S LOTS MORE INFO! —-

2. When NOT to use a tuner! Tuners are great and some people use them all the time. (This includes any rig’s “built in tuner” or any “out board tuner”) HOWEVER, you need to concern yourself with something called “insertion loss”. Every time you use a tuner, there is a power loss due to heat of matching an antenna system to a rig.

READ THIS TWICE: If the antenna system is measured at an SWR (standing wave ratio) of 1:1.5 or less before using a tuner you do not need to use a tuner to do a perfect match as the insertion loss of using the tuner will be off set by any matching it does. Power (ERP) will be lost in the form of heat within the tuner. If you don’t believe me, do a test, using a good field strength meter at a distance of several wavelengths away from the antenna and you will see that what I’m saying is correct.

Tuners do not work miracles, so don’t expect them to. Using a tuner for NVIS is another story as it is an emergency “compromise antenna”.

Using a tuner to compensate for an antenna that is way “out of whack” should tell you to use a better antenna (or FIX it), matched by it’s length, for whatever band you wish to operate. If you use a tuner to match, say a 20 meter signal to work with a 15 meter antenna, it will also create harmonic distortion on the other bands! Don’t interfere with other operations at your site by doing this.ICE_Bandpass_402x


3. When operating within a tight area, as required by FD rules, it also pays to use “band pass filters” such as those manufactured by ICE. I have a full set of these HF filters and they work great. They are only about $38 per band and drastically reduce interference from your other operating posts. Make sure they are grounded as seen by the grounding lug on the top of the photo.

If your pocketbook can’t afford them, use coax “stub” filters. The lengths of these and how to build them can be found at: They are simple to make and easy to use. Both systems have been used by the major DXpeditions all over the world with great success. On HF frequencies make sure each operating station is properly grounded.

Do NOT use a common ground for all your operating posts. If you do, you will get “ground loops” with energy going where you don’t want it, including in to computer logging systems and the possibility of RF burns by operators or anyone touching the equipment.

4. Make sure that each operating position has a laminated chart of frequencies that can be used under your station’s or club’s operating license. Watch out and don’t operate too close to the band edges. (and remember: no one “owns” a frequency)

5. If using computer logging, always have paper logs and scratch pads ready to use in case your computers bog down or crash. (Ever use a “dupe sheet”? Don’t know what it is? Find out and use it!) Paper logs as a backup to computer logging also makes sure you get the info (exchange) right…. in some cases (mainly contesting), having the wrong info may get your operation penalized points or even disqualified.

6. Whenever I operate either in contests or operating events, I find it advantageous to camp out (remain on) a frequency rather than tune around (hunt and pounce). Remember that propagation conditions will change so stick with it even if you think the band has died or other stations appear on your frequency that weren’t there earlier. That’s just how propagation works. Save “hunting and pouncing” for near the end of the event when you wish to eek out those few last stations. Remember: When you move frequency, someone may take your camping out frequency and you won’t get it back!

7. Keep your calling frequency active by calling CQ often. Don’t wait! Leave a gap of only four (4) seconds between calls or stations tuning by will miss your call and other stations to camp out may take over your frequency. In events such as FD, it also pays to use an automatic voice unit such as MFJ 434B “voice keyer”. (Cost is about $170.)

If you can’t obtain one, use a cheap electronic memo reminder and just play back your pre-recorded CQ while holding it close to your microphone but not so close as to induce audio distortion. (Editor – Your smartphone might have a way to record and quickly replay an audio recording as well.)

This form of “acoustic coupling” is an inexpensive way to save your voice. I have used both methods over the years with success. Keep your calls “short and sweet” using ITU phonetics ONLY. Don’t use any “cutesy” phonetics.  BEFORE FIELD DAY…. REPLACE ALL BATTERIES IN VOICE AND CW KEYERS, ANTENNA ANALYZERS, DIGITAL CLOCKS, FLASH LIGHTS  AND ANY OTHER UNITS THAT USE BATTERIES!

8. If you are lucky enough to cause a “pile up” (several stations calling you at once) answer the easiest one to hear first. If you can’t make out complete callsigns, ask for the station with the easiest partial call to reply. The others will wait. Do not get flustered. If you do, simply state “QRX”. (This means you are requesting those stations to pause, usually so your station can change operators, go flip to another blank log sheet, etc.) This will give you a few seconds to re-focus your thoughts. It is at this time where it also pays to have another person with you to help sort out any call signs or help with logging.

9. Ignore jammers. Do NOT bother answering them.

10. Have your station’s callsign and exchange info posted in large letters at your operating position in case you get a bit tired or flustered so you won’t forget and announce your own call by mistake. Make up some large signs to indicate what band / mode each station is operating on, to avoid having more than one station on the same band / mode at the same time (rules violation).

11. If possible, bring your own headphones to make your life easier and to cut down on ambient noise from your area and helps you to concentrate. An “odd ball” pair of headphones can actually put stress on you if they don’t fit properly.

12. Talk in a loud, clear voice, just like you were talking with a child and want to put a point across. No need to shout as it distorts your signal and makes it splatter to adjacent frequencies. Speak in to the microphone at an angle. Female operator’s voices tend to attract more contacts for some reason as well. Other stations might accuse you of “switch and bait” if you use the recording from a female operator, but answer with a male’s voice.

13. Pace yourself, drink plenty of fluids and let whomever is in charge know when you need a break. Do NOT be a “mic hog” as other people may wish to gain the experience of operating. Hopefully there will be plenty of ops around which will allow you the chance to rest a spell.

14. Learn a bit about propagation characteristics for each band time of day before you come to FD. With sunspots on the raise, the higher bands will be a bit more active than in pervious years, unless there is a solar flare or other disturbance.

As a rule: Use higher HF frequencies during the day, when the sun is doing it’s job with the ionosphere, and use lower frequencies after sunset. Find out what “grayline” propagation is and learn how it use it to your advantage. (Grayline is the “terminator line” of sunrise or sunset, but read more about how it works and how it can work for you. If you are a DXer, you NEED to know about this.)

15. If there are enough people, have someone do the logging for you. This way they will learn to copy callsigns under less than perfect situations and will make life easier for you. A “double set of ears” makes it easier to operate and log. It might even entice non-hams to get their license. When you aren’t operating at the moment, try to keep the “chit-chat” down at any operating post. Save the talk when you are away from whomever is operating as it may confuse them.

16. If you want your FD to be more successful, WAIT until all members have arrived before deciding what amount of stations you wish to put on the air for the event. You can always change bands, even with a 1A station. Years ago one club I was a member of on Long Island decided to operate 20A! That’s 20 stations operating. The only problem was there wasn’t enough people to man all the stations for the length of FD, so we were stuck at times with 10 stations we couldn’t use. You can’t change your exchange once the event starts. Talk about bad planning. Make sure everyone signs a log-in sheet so operator tally can be accounted for.

17. Flag all coax runs, power cords and antenna guy lines with brightly colored caution tape so no one walks into them or trips over them. Label each member’s equipment and cables so you can sort them out easier at the end of the event.

18. Never assume you’ve “worked them all”. In 1991 a pair of inexperienced ops came out of the 40 meter SSB tent claiming they “worked the band dry”. I told them they hadn’t and taking another op to log for me, in 30 minutes I worked an additional 60+ stations on that “dry band” by hunting and pouncing. Lesson learned: There are always other stations out there to work AND propagation changes…. sometimes from minute to minute.

19. Know the rig you are operating by reading each radio’s instruction manual. By doing so you’ll avoid problems and make more contacts. Be especially careful of the filters in complex radios as they could filter out wanted signals. Keep your operations simple so the next person assigned to your station won’t get confused twisting and turning knobs!

Have a rig’s “cheat sheet” handy. For Field Day, basic rigs with basic filters, work the best.

20. Turn off all gear during refueling of any gas generators. Use proper safety procedures so voltage spikes won’t harm your radios. This means to turn off your radios BEFORE the generator shuts off and wait until it reaches operational speed before turning your gear back on. You can get voltage spikes during the shutting off of the generator and the start up cycle. Use care when refueling the generator and NEVER gas it up while it is running. A gas spill even when the generator is off but HOT can also spell disaster.

21. Learn , but most of all : Have fun. Take lots of pictures to post on your club’s website and on any report you may have for www.     Also, have your station license handy (the call sign you are using)… it’s an FCC requirement.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email at:



« Previous Entries