Jun 24

I had the fortunate experience to visit 4 of the 7 area Field Day sites on Saturday, June 22, 2019. The first three were visited during daylight hours, enabling me to fly one of my drones to get some unique perspectives. The 4th site was visited after dark and I was unable to fly while up in Boerne visiting KARS ham club.News media picked up SARC’s eventhttps://spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/san-antonio/news/2019/06/23/san-antonio-participates-in-amateur-radio-nationwide-exercise?cid=share_clipI’ve uploaded 3 videos to YouTube and will share them below… Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun 20

Field Day is a nationwide ARRL sponsored event on the fourth full weekend of June where many local ham clubs set up in a field environment to simulate the operation of amateur radios under emergency conditions.

While there is a contest aspect to Field Day, the real objective is to give members experience operating in an austere environment like those that may be faced in emergency situations.

It’s that time of year again to start up those generators, dust off those solar panels and charge up those batteries. Oh, and get your temporary antennas tested and move those radios from the boxes over to the field day location of your choice.

ARRL has a list of registered Field Day sites nationwide at this link, http://www.arrl.org/field-day-locator , but some clubs choose not to get registered prior to the event weekend. Just put in your city / state in the search bar to find your nearest event location.

Note: Any contact information listed below was found published at the ARRL site locator map, or was provided to me for this purpose. None of the email links are live, so you will need to cut/paste in order to send that person an email about their event.

Don’t expect many of them to be checking their emails frequently during the weekend, they will likely be on the radio instead. Most will have a station monitoring 146.52 simplex to gain contacts in that manner.

Side Note: The San Antonio Radio Club (W5SC) will be holding a morning VE Test Session on Saturday, June 22nd, at the Great Northwest Public Library (Near Grissom Road and Timberwilde) beginning at 10am. While walk-ins are welcome, preregistration is requested via email at hamtest@gmail.com.

Pat AD5BR will be conducting the exams with her VE team. There is the usual $15/test attempt fee payable in cash and you will need the usual ID and proof of existing license (if upgrading). Please contact Pat AD5BR for more info.

This is the last chance in the San Antonio area to upgrade to General before the question pool changes on July 1st.

Area Clubs whom I know are conducting Field Day Events, include:

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Apr 8

Our FOURTH event—sponsored by AC5RN and K5USN, and in memory of K5LKY SK

We will be there all day so stop by when it’s convenient for you!
Please join us at Fischer Park in New Braunfels Apr 27th (Saturday)

What we will provide:
• Operating stations that you are welcome to operate!. One VHF/UHF/SHF all mode station and one HF Station. WH2ACT can demonstrate Yaesu System Fusion.
• A covered pavilion in a beautiful park on a hill with tables and power from a 4 outlet plug.
• Talk in on 147.000 (-) 103.5hz or 146.52 simplex. Call KA5UAO (STEVE) for directions. Enter the park off Old McQueeny Rd.


What you may bring:

Please feel free to bring your own operating equipment or antennas but keep in mind we have limited space and we will just need to coordinate operations amongst ourselves so we don’t damage ears or receivers by operating on the same bands!

AC5RN will coordinate operating bands.

Bring what ever comforts, food and drink, family, pets, etc you need or desire.

Again Apr 27th, Saturday!
Please help spread the word!

Ronnie and I will begin setting up our stations around 7am (ish), and will be in the park throughout the remainder of the day and evening weather permitting. Come and visit and stay as long as you like!

Head on over to the park for some fun!

73,
Mark AC5RN, Ronnie K5USN

Our goals:

To promote amateur radio to the public and to potential future hams.To provide opportunity for any ham to operate on new bands and modes, exercise portability and set up, or operate without HOA antenna restrictions!To promote comradery amongst hams and have fun.

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Jun 18
Field Day 2018
icon1 N5NTG | icon2 Field Day | icon4 06 18th, 2018| icon3No Comments »

The annual amateur radio field day weekend is coming up this weekend on June 23rd 24th . There are gonna be multiple sites around the area where the different ham clubs are going to be setting up.

Following is a summary of local area clubs Field Day 2018 plans:

SARC – Setting up at Shavano Park City Hall starting Friday at 3pm. Operating for 24hrs starting 1pm Saturday. Having a BBQ catered by Grady’s 6pm Saturday.

KARS – See website at KB5TX.org for directions to and schedule of activity.

HCARC – At Our lady of the Hills Sports Complex off HWY 27 just past the airport if traveling North toward Kerrville. Take exit 454 off I-10. Operating 24hrs. Shrimp Boil at 6pm Sat.

ROOST – Operating from their Clubhouse as usual. 7201 Palm Park Blvd.

MCARC – Setting up at Castroville City Park. Running 24hrs

AARO – Setting up at American Legion Post 300 at 3290 Grosenbacher Rd, just past the Bullet Hole. Running 24hrs starting at Noon on Sat. Planning to run 15 stations.

I’m just going to refer you to the different websites for more location information.

Kendall Amateur Radio Society in Boerne (KARS/KB5TX)
http://kb5tx.org/Field_Day.htm

Alamo Area Radio Organization (new field day location) (AARO/AA5RO)
Http://aa5ro.org

San Antonio Radio Club (SARC/W5SC)

Home

Guadalupe Valley Amateur Radio Club (GVARC) at 3485 River Road. Same location as prior years. Talk-in on their 147.000 repeater in New Braunfels. (-, 103.5 tone, I think)

Radio Operators Of South Texas (ROOST / W5ROS) will be operating from their clubhouse on the SE side of San Antonio, off Hwy 181. 7201 Palm Park Blvd.

South Texas DX Contest Club has a club location near Bandera, TX, referred to as the Goat Ranch. I’m not sure about the details or if they have active plans.

Medina County Amateur Radio Club had a great setup last year in a clubhouse for a neighborhood association. This year they will be at Castroville Park. Http://mcarc.org.

You can find out more field day sites at ARRL’s website, http://arrl.org

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Jun 23

The South Texas DX and Contest club will be holding a Field Day Operation at their club station in Bandera, TX.

Location: Bandera, TX (contact info below)
Time: June 24th 1pm CDT – 9am CDT June 25th

The STXDXCC will be running a multi-transmitter “D” (Home Station) operation with a focus on Side Band and CW. Operators of any license class are welcome.

For details contact Marty Meyers W5MRM at info@w5rta.net or call or text 210-602-0371.

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Jun 22

Greetings to all HCARC members and interested friends,

Field Day is almost here. The annual emergency preparedness exercise
starts this Saturday at 1:00PM local time and continues to Sunday at
1:00PM local time.

The objective is to contact as many stations during the field day period of 24 hours. The HCARC will be operating at the Our Lady of the Hills athletic complex just off Highway 27 and west of the Kerrville airport on Peterson Farm Road where there is a blinking yellow light.

All club members and their friends are invited to attend. There will be an evening supper of chicken fajitas with the usual condiments starting at 6:00PM.

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Jun 20

 

Field Day 2017 is nigh upon us! June 24-25th. We will be operating for the full 24 hours, 1300 hours Saturday thru 1300 hours on Sunday. Members will be arriving earlier, around 0930 hours, to do some permitted preliminary setup and arrange for logistics.

All SARC members are encouraged to participate in Field Day. Yes, you can bring all of your own equipment, but you don’t have to bring all of your equipment or even any equipment.

We welcome visitors of any type. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a club member or a non ham operator. Everybody is welcomed.

Our location will be at Shavano Park’s City Hall, outside in the parking lot.   The address is 900 SaddleTree Ct, Shavano Park, just off of NW Military Drive, north of De Zavala Rd, and inside Loop 1604.

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Jan 16

Howdy neighbors,

Some of the guys and gals in the N5OAK Oak Hill ARC (based in South Austin) will be operating from a small farm near Luling for Winter Field Day on January 28th and 29th, and I thought I’d extend an invitation to all of the fine folks in the area to stop by for a visit.

We’ll be running CW, digital modes, and voice on 160m-70cm, through a variety of antennas and rigs, so if you’d like to join us, you’re welcome to come see what we’re up to and hang out for a while, and you’re also welcome to operate from any of our stations. You are also more than welcome to bring your licensed and unlicensed friends and family.

When: January 28th thru 29th, 1 PM to 1 PM

Where: 125 Horseshoe Bend, Luling, TX 78648

What: WinterFieldDay.com

Who: Everyone is invited (hosted by members of the N5OAK ARC)

If you have any questions, please email me at blake.ormand@gmail.com, or give me a call at 512-699-3644.

Hope to see you there!

73,Blake Ormand K5URU
Buda, TX

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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 http://www.kb5tx.org/FieldDay2016. 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. http://www.arrl.org/field-day-locator

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

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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: http://www.k1ttt.net/technote/k2trstub.html 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 http://sanantoniohams.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/mfj434b.jpgwishing 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. SanAntonioHams.org     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: alonestaryank@aol.com

 

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