Aug 24

Ham radio operators in Texas, mostly in the affected area and out towards San Antonio and Austin where shelters might be set up, or charging their batteries for their handheld radios and getting their radio gear ready for possible deployment.

In the San Antonio area, the Bexar County ARES group will be coordinating all ham communication deployments at the city counry emergency operations center and the public shelters likely to be set up by the city of San Antonio and the American Red Cross. No shelters were open as of the time I wrote this post. (Aug 24, 2017 at 2100 hours)

Ruth Lewis is the counry EOC for the ham operations and will be working closely with the local city, county, and state officials.

Listen to the 147.18 repeater for manpower updates and the 146.94 repeater for local Skywarn operations as the storm hits town on Saturday.

If the mega shelters are opened in San Antonio, it will probably be for a few days through early next week until they can safely return back to the coast in the flooded areas.

The highways coming from the coast, especially Highway IH-37 from Corpus Christi, is going to have extremely heavy traffic.

I have not yet heard of the state activating the hurricane plan which would turn the various highways into a one-way direction coming from the coast up to San Antonio.

I will post more information as it becomes available to us.

There is no need to self deploy yourself at this time. We need to make sure there’s a place for you to help the cause, rather than causing the problem.

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.

Jun 15
W2IK’s “IK-STIC 2”
The “IK-STIC 2” is a vertical, all band, antenna that is over 25 feet tall yet weighs under 5 pounds !Using a tuner it can easily cover the amateur radio HF bands from 40 – 10 Meters.  No unsightly wires as the radiating wire is inside the telescoping mast!
ONE SD-20 Telescoping mast (WorldRadio sells these)
ONE  6 foot section of 1 1/2 inch PVC Pipe
50 feet of 20 or 22 gauge STRANDED, INSULATED Wire
ONE SO-239 Barrel Connector with washers and Nuts
ONE male and female push on connectors (see photos)
TWO Large (6 inch) Hose clamps (see photos)
Electrical Tape, Epoxy, Duct tape and asst. hardware.



Take the SD-20 telescoping mast and remove the bottom cap by unscrewing it.Looking in you will see the sections nestled in place. Remove the rubber plugfrom the next to thinnest section so now all the sections are “open”.  Carefullytake a 21 foot piece of 20 gauge, stranded, insulated wire and tie a very smallknot at the end. Take the knotted end and insert it into the smallest section ofthe telescoping mast and using a straight wire made from a coat hanger, shovethe stranded wire into the section as far as it can go. Then take a small amountof epoxy and glue the wire into place so it can’t be removed from the top section.SLOWLY telescope out the entire mast, making sure that the wire slides insideeasily. When the mast is fully extended you will have almost 20 feet of wireinside. Leave about 5 inches after the mast is fully extended and cut the wire.This will leave a 5 inch “play” to connect the wire at the bottom. NowCAREFULLY drill a small hole in the rubber base of the mast pointing outSIDEWAYS.  Epoxy a push on connector into the hole. Solder another 4 inchpiece of that same stranded wire onto the connector on the INSIDE. On thebottom cap of the mast, drill a hole that will allow you to half way insert, andtightly secure, that SO-239 barrel connector.  Carefully epoxy it on the inside ofthe cap so it won’t loosen. Next, solder the long wire that is in the mast onto theinner part of the SO-239 connector.  Solder the wire from the push on terminal tothe outer section of the SO-239 connector.  Take the cap and give it about 7 COUNTER CLOCK WISE turns so the two wires are twisted. This way, when youscrew the cap on, the wires will untwist in the mast.  Tighten the end cap, but donot glue it.
Next take 25 feet of that same stranded wire and start to wrap it around the 11/2″ PVC pipe at a point 14 inches from one end. (This becomes the top end.) MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE 8 inches of “free wire” before you start the coil wrap.Slowly wind the wire around the PVC pipe creating a coil, leaving a spacing of 11/2 – 2 inches from each turn. As you wind it down the pipe, you may wish tosecure it every so often with electrical tape. The winding does not have to be exact, but keep it as evenly spaced as you can. One foot before the bottom,create a tight wrap of the wire, leaving no gaps on the turns. At the end, tape thewire to the PVC pipe. When you are done, wrap the entire coil in electrical tape so the coil stays in place. On the top end, solder a mating end of a push onconnector so it can plug into the mast’s side connector.
Wrap several turns of Duct Tape to the very top of the PVC mast. This will serveto offset the taper in the telescoping mast when it gets mounted to the PVC pipe.  Using two adjustable hose clamps, carefully mount the very bottom of thetelescoping mast to the top one foot of the PVC pipe. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN. It takes very little compression to keep the mast in place. When you have done this, you can extend the mast out it’s entire 20 foot length. To keep the entire antenna up-right, slip it over a 4 foot section of appropriate thin wall steel tubing that has been pounded in the ground about one foot. The lower coiled section of the antenna on the PVC pipe will then be slightly “ground coupled”. This helps with the antenna’s operation on 30 and 40 meters.  Plug in the lower coil (The PVC pipe) into the male  connector on the side of the telescoping mast. The SO-239 connector is where you screw in your coax cable to your radio. Make a few windings of whatever coax you are using at the connector point and tape them tightly together to prevent RF from returning on the coax shield. Connect the other end of the cable to your tuner and you are all set to go !!.
IMPORTANT: When you attach your coax to the antenna, make sure that the cable is dressed away and at as close to a right angle from the coil base for at least 5 feet and NOT down along it’s windings. Doing this will help prevent RF emitted from the coil from being radiated back on the coax shield and also will prevent “RF bites” at your radio point….ouch!  The pictures are merely for display and do not indicate the coax properly run.This step is very important in it’s proper operation. Keep the coax away from the coil assembly!
 To dis-assemble the antenna, just remove the coax, loosen the hose clamps and take down the mast after unplugging the PVC coil plug.  CAREFULLY retract the mast and the internal wire should slowly coil down into the masting. DO NOT FORCE THE SECTIONS. A few gentle jiggles and a twist or two will do the trick. After several uses it will be easier to retract the sections as the internal wire will have “memorized” how to coil up. You can even store the telescoping mast in the PVC pipe by making a small slot at the bottom of the PVC tube toaccommodate the connector that is on the side of the telescoping mast .   Theantenna is very simple, light and works well when tuned properly. My first contact was on 15 meters when I spoke to Siberia. I have used it on all the bands it covers and have also made an adapter so it mounts on the ball hitch of my truck. This is great when you are parked and can’t make a hole in the ground. (NOTE: If you wish to make an “IK-STIC 2” that covers 160-10 meters with a tuner, use a 7 FOOT PVC PIPE  instead of the 6 ft. PVC and coil  35 feet of wire around it using 1 inch spacing between wraps and two feet near the end increase the spacing until you run out of the wire and the end of the coil wrap is four – sixinches from the bottom of the PVC pipe. Any longer coil winding that this willmake it difficult to tune the antenna on 10 meters.) (Use the rest of the antennabuilding dimensions as outlined above.)
Epoxy two 1 1/4 inch thin wall PVC sleeves to the lower section of the telescoping mast so they will prevent the telescoping mast from beingcrushed by “over exuberant” tightening of the two hose clamps that hold the telescoping section to the other (coil) section.
REMEMBER…. it’s called the “IK-STIC 2”  
Designed by Bob Hejl – W2IK
This antenna has been used at Field Day operations, SpecialEvents Stations, JOTA Events and County Activations with greatresults.


Nov 4

Bexar County ARES has scheduled another Field Examination session for the ARRL Emergency Communications course to be held on December 1, at 5pm at the San Antonio Red Cross in classroom 3. The address is 3642 E Houston St. 78219.

So, if anyone would like to study up and take the test let us know.


So far we have 1 ham interested. The requirements are: Identification (FCC license not required), there is the standard ARRL fee of $15, cash, and you must provide the dates of your completion of the FEMA course prerequisites, ICS-100 and 700.

73 Ray 210-845-2288

Sep 14

The Fall SET is scheduled to coincide with MARS Field Day which is October 10th, 2015 from 8am to 12pm. The scenario this time around will involve shelter communications. MARS would very much like to see some ICS213 voice traffic so in conjunction with our regular fair of WINLINK ICS213 traffic, we’ll incorporate voice traffic as well. We’ll be sending out an SET Document beforehand.

Frank N5SSH

May 24

The Skywarn Operators at the Austin-San Antonio NWO are in the process of updating our files and call-up list. Recently we have found the EC’s, Skywarn Coordinators and Net Controls have changed drastically in the various counties we serve.
It has also been found that several repeaters used in the past to contact and monitor Skywarn operations have changed or are no longer functioning.
If someone from each county could please e-mail me the contact information, frequencies and other pertinent information for ARES and Skywarn it would be greatly appreciated.
Also be advised that we have created a Facebook page and Twitter account to help get the word out. Feel free to like or follow to stay up to date with our operations.
Thank You, Louis – K5STX
e-mail to wx5exw at gmail dot com

May 12

The Bexar Operators Group, with W2IK at the helm, will be operating this year’s 2015 ARRL Field Day at the Choke Canyon State Park’s Caliham Unit near the town of Three Rivers about 70 miles south of San Antonio. We will be operating at the “Screened Shelter” area (These are full cabins WITH air conditioning)

If you are interested in joining us, drop an email at W2IK@ARRL.NET for more information and to reserve your spot.

All food and drink will be supplied. The “class” of operation will be determined later.

We will be experimenting with different antennas ranging from NVIS to “Inverted V”and Wire Beam styles apexed up to 50 feet.

Although all of our antennas do not require tuners when used on their proper frequencies, we will have several types of tuners available so we can compare how antennas compare when attempting to match non-resonant elements on frequencies other than the antennas’ intended use.

We will be using solar powered (400 watts) energy for equipment operation and 12 volt DC lighting systems will be displayed so attendees can see how a DC lighting system works during any emergency communications work and which are the best types to have on hand. There is a big difference between 12 volt incandescent, LED and florescent systems.

Space is limited to 8 persons, so please check with us for availability. New hams are encouraged to make the trip as there will be a wealth of information available.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 11

Fellow hams:

My name is John Ralston, K0RVB, Net manager for the San Antonio Area Rainfall Net. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I send you the following official communication.

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Sunday, July 13th, 2014, will be the last day for the rainfall net.  This decision did not come easily, was not made quickly and involved a great deal of communication with the National Weather Service and board members of the net’s sponsor, the San Antonio Radio Club.

nwscocorahsThe decision to end the net was based solely on our data presentation to the NWS and how they receive their main data stream for daily rainfall amounts. Their main source of receiving daily, timely rainfall data is from CoCoRaHs, a web based reporting model, giving the NWS real time data on a 24 hr model from 8a to 8a.

I encourage each of you to sign up with CoCoRaHs, at if you have not already done so. Our rainfall reports can still be utilized by the NWS by reporting through the website.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 26

skywarn_noaa_trainedHere is a link to a movie trailer I made from video and photos of my Skywarn Spotting Activities over the past year.

The movie, music and titling was all done on my iPhone 5 using iMovie… it’s simple easy to make you just drag and drop the files you want. it creates the audio, transitions and titling for you.

This version has been updated to remove reference to a specific local ham club and local ARES group at their request.

I hope you enjoy watching it, as much as we did making it.

Matthew Rottman K5NON
MPR Photography
Bicycling for the Heck Blog

May 5

W5JBO_John_Orton_SKJohn was born 9/3/1947 & raised in Beverly Hills California. He had 2 brothers Tom Orton & Jim Orton & a sister Victoria Orton.  A daughter Tina Marie Orton, and nieces and nephews.

He went to Beverly Hills High School, then transferred to Belmont High School in Los Angeles where he met at the time & went steady with who would one day be his wife, Karen in 1965. He graduated from Beverly Hills High in 1967 & moved to the Bay area in Northern California, he attended Cabot College.  His career as an Aero Space Engineer took him everywhere from the West Coast to Korea.

John had various interests during his lifetime, he loved trains, sail boating, surfing, hiking, motorcycling & riding his mountain bike plus gardening…but what he loved most was Ham Radio.  In California he was known on the radio as “WA6BOB”.

See his ham radio website  here…

In March 2010 John retired from Space Vector in Chatsworth, California and moved to Texas where he met up again with his now wife Karen and they were married in January 2011, after 44 years of loosing track of each other.

John got back into radio again in Texas and acquired a new handle of  “W5JBO” he got into contesting, was always asked to help out with testing, he would volunteer to put up other operators antennas & would also volunteer to do radio repairs in our garage.  Read the rest of this entry »


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