Ham Radio

AAR: Red Cross Disaster Drill 3-1-14

The PARC ARES group participated in a statewide Red Cross disaster drill today by providing local UHF communications from disaster relief assessment teams to the local Red Cross HQ, and HF communications from the Texas Panhandle Red Cross group to the East Texas chapter which was supported by the Smith County ARES team. We had some successes, and some failures as well, but we learned from our mistakes and I look forward to supporting future Red Cross activity. More importantly, we were able to establish a working relationship with Monica Lea, the new director of the panhandle chapter. Monica has invited us back to support an upcoming wildfire drill, and a large statewide shelter drill in June. The shelter drill will occur in simultaneously in all Texas Panhandle counties and we will need operators to assist from each county for the event to be a success. I will provide more information very soon.

I invited the AAN9TXA Amarillo DHS/TSA MARS team to shadow our event as a learning experience. The TSA MARS team trains to provide emergency communications during disaster events at a federal level. Because of a scheduling conflict with the PARC monthly meeting, and the Elk City hamfest, and last minute cancellations, we had a lack of ham volunteers. The ham radio licensed MARS operators eagerly volunteered to assist in this drill. Their assistance was greatly appreciated and and they did an excellent job.

I want to personally thank all who participated and encourage others to volunteer for future events.

Participants:

  • KD5ROK Cory Elliot, ARES Volunteer
  • KE5ZRT Chris Seright, ARES Volunteer
  • KF5TCY Sarah Seright, ARES Volunteer, DHS/TSA employee, Super Amazing Wife
  • KF5PUU Sharon Buckley, AAN9TXA DHS/TSA MARS team member
  • KF5PUQ Ricky Davis, AAN9TXA DHS/TSA MARS team member
  • N9RTT John Cummins, American Red Cross volunteer

Special thanks to WR9B Robert Bruse for the use of his backyard repeater which provided excellent HT coverage for the neighborhood we worked in, and KE5WRT James Hiers and K5KBV Ed Krizan for loaning HT radios for the event.

73 de KE5ZRT

 

 

 

 


Donated Ham Gear Available for Bid

A pick-up load of amateur radio gear was graciously donated to the Panhandle Amateur Radio Club (PARC) and is being silently auctioned to raise funds for the club. The list of available equipment is attached to this post. To place a bid, simply email Bob Sanders, N5TBD, PARC President at bsanders@suddenlink.net. List the item(s) you are wanting along with your bid for each item. All reasonable bids will be considered.

Click Here: Donated_equipment_list(1)

Closing date for bidding is Saturday May 5th

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Chassis Mount for 2 Powerpoles Sets (4 conductors)

image

http://www.powerwerx.com/powerpole-accessories/powerpoles-chassis-mount-2-sets.html

This is an excellent universal Anderson Power Pole connector to add to your mobile installation for EmComm purposes!


The Amateur’s Code

The radio amateur is:

Considerate… never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

Loyal… offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

Progressive… with knowledge abreast of science, a well built and efficient station and operation above reproach.

Friendly… Slow and patient operating when requested; Friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; Kindly assistance; Cooperation and consideration for the interest of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

Balanced… Radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

Patriotic… Station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

~~~ The original Amatur’s Code was written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928.


Spectrum Management Bill Threatens Amateur Frequencies

2/17/2011–Article originally posted on the ARRL official website

http://www.arrl.org/news/spectrum-management-bill-threatens-amateur-frequencies

On February 10, Representative Peter King (R-NY-3), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced HR 607, the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011. The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles telecommunications legislation. HR 607 addresses certain spectrum management issues, including the creation and maintenance of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network. As part of that network, the bill provides for the allocation of the so-called “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for Public Safety use.

The D-Block consists of two, 5-megahertz-wide segments of spectrum (758-763 and 788-793 MHz) that became available when the FCC ended analog television broadcasts in June 2009 and reallocated the 698-806 MHz band for Public Safety and commercial broadband. It was anticipated that the D-Block would be auctioned for commercial use. There are several bills in Congress providing for the allocation of the D-Block for Public Safety use, and HR 607 is one of those. But HR 607 uniquely provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue that would occur as the result of the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety instead of commercial auction. HR 607 lists the paired bands of 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz among the bands to be reallocated for commercial auction within 10 years of its passage.

“Of serious concern to the ARRL is the inclusion of the 420-440 MHz amateur allocation in the list of frequencies to be cleared for auction,” said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. “The ARRL and the Amateur Radio community certainly support the work of public safety agencies and understand their desire for an interoperable network; however, the inclusion of most of the amateur 70 cm spectrum as one of the replacement bands is illogical and unacceptable. The 420-440 MHz band is not Public Safety spectrum and should never have been included in any spectrum swap of Public Safety allocations.”

Saying that the ARRL Washington team has already begun meeting with key Congressional staff on Capitol Hill, Henderson noted that Amateur Radio already shares the 70 cm band on a secondary basis with the governmental radiolocation services, such as the PAVE PAWS radar systems: “The 70 cm band is a critical and irreplaceable resource for Amateur Radio public service and emergency communications. The specification of the 420-440 MHz band in this legislation is ill-conceived. To be sure, the ARRL will vigorously oppose this legislation in its present form. It is, as evidenced by other legislation, completely unnecessary to the creation of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network or the use by Public Safety of the D-Block for that purpose. The role of the Amateur Service as a partner to Public Safety in the provision of public service and emergency communications necessitates the retention of full access to the entire 420-440 MHz band.”

HR 607 is presently cosponsored by the Homeland Security Committee’s Ranking Member, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2) as well as Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV-1), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-11), Billy Long (R-MO-7), Candice S. Miller (R-MI-10), Laura Richardson (D-CA-37), Mike Rogers (R-AL-3), and Michael Grimm (R-NY-13).

“As we continue to track the progress of HR 607, I urge ARRL members to watch for further information about the bill on the ARRL website,” Henderson said. “When that additional information is released, it will include a request to contact your representative and express opposition to HR 607, as long as it includes a provision to auction off any Amateur Radio spectrum for commercial use. ARRL members may also sign up for the ARRL Legislative Update Newsletter and automatically receive information as it becomes available. Sign up by logging onto the ARRL website and select the ‘Edit Your Profile’ link located at the top of each page. Once on that page, select the ‘Edit Email Subscriptions” tab and click on the box for ARRL Legislative Update.” The ARRL Legislative Update is prepared on an “as needed” basis to those who have opted-in to receive it. A new edition addressing HR 607 will be forthcoming soon.

(continue reading…)


Welcome to EchoLink

EchoLink® software allows licensed Amateur Radio stations to communicate with one another over the Internet, using streaming-audio technology. The program allows worldwide connections to be made between stations, or from computer to station, greatly enhancing Amateur Radio’s communications capabilities. There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 162 of the world’s 193 nations — with about 5,000 online at any given time.

The program runs on Microsoft Windows®.  It is offered free of charge and may be downloaded here .

What is EchoLink for Android?

EchoLink for Android is an edition of the EchoLink software that runs on an Android smartphone or tablet, such as a Motorola Droid or an HTC Evo. If you own one of these devices and are a validated EchoLink user, you can access the EchoLink system from nearly anywhere where WiFi or 3G networking is available. EchoLink for Android is available free of charge from the Android Market; tap the Market icon on your phone and search for EchoLink. Or, if you have a bar code scanner app on your Android phone, scan the QR code that appears to the right.

Once you have downloaded the free software, all you need is an internet connection and a microphone headset and you can talk to hams worldwide. Alternatively, you can access EchoLink via RF without a computer from your handy-talkie, base or mobile station. Locally, in Amarillo the KC5EZO repeater (444.050, PL 88.5, node #307304) is tied in to EchoLink. Additionally, in Borger, the WA5CSF repeater (147.060, PL 00.0, node #387265) is also tied in to EchoLink and both can be accessed via RF.

What is EchoLink for iPhone?

EchoLink for iPhone is an edition of the EchoLink software that runs on an iPhone or iPod touch. If you own one of these devices and are a validated EchoLink user, you can access the EchoLink system from nearly anywhere where WiFi networking is available. If you have an iPhone, you can also use it to access EchoLink over the cellular data (3G or EDGE) network. EchoLink for iPhone is available free of charge from Apple’s App Store.

How do I access EchoLink from my Amateur Radio?

To access EchoLink via RF through a local repeater, you will need to know a few function commands that you will enter with DTMF tones from your radio station. You may not need to know all of the commands in the table below, but some of them will be necessary. Additionally, you will need to know the node number of the station that you want to connect to. A list of EchoLink active nodes that are available can be found here.

Command Description Default
Connect Connects to a station on the Internet, based on its node number. num
Connect by Call Connects to a station on the Internet, based on its callsign. C+call+#
Random Node Selects an available node (of any type) at random, and tries to connect to it. 00
Random Link Selects an available link or repeater (-L or -R) at random, and tries to connect to it. 01
Random Conf Selects a conference server at random, and tries to connect to it. 02
Random User Selects an available single-user station at random, and tries to connect to it. 03
RandomFavNode Selects an available node (of any type) at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. 001
RandomFavLink Selects an available link or repeater (-L or -R) at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. 011
RandomFavConf Selects a conference server at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. 021
RandomFavUser Selects an available single-user station at random, and tries to connect to it. 031
Disconnect Disconnects the station that is currently connected.  If more than one station is connected, disconnects only the most-recently-connected station. #
Disconnect All Disconnects all stations. ##
Reconnect Re-connects to the station that most recently disconnected. 09
Status Announces the callsign of each station currently connected. 08
Link Down Disables EchoLink (no connections can be established). (none)
Link Up Enables EchoLink. (none)
Play Info Plays a brief ID message. *
Query by Call Looks up a station by its callsign, and reads back its node number and status. 07+call+#
Query by Node Looks up a station by its node number, and reads back its callsign and status. 06+num
Profile Select Switches to a different stored set of configuration settings (0 through 9). B#

+num

Listen-Only On Inhibits transmission from RF to the Internet. 0511
Listen-Only Off Restores normal transmission from RF to the Internet. 0510

Connect

The default for the Connect command is to simply enter the 4- 5-, or 6-digit node number to which you wish to connect.  To prevent interference with other DTMF functions, however, you may wish to configure a special prefix, such as A or 99.

Link Up and Link Down

No defaults are provided for these functions.  To enable these functions, enter a DTMF sequence for each one, using the DTMF tab of the Sysop Settings page.

Profile Select

Profiles are numbered from 0 to one less than the number of profiles shown under File->Profiles.  Profile 0 is always MAIN.

Station Shortcuts 

Custom DTMF commands can be created to connect to specific stations. These commands are called Station Shortcuts, and are not shown in the table above. To manage your Station Shortcuts, click the Station Shortcuts button on the DTMF tab of Sysop Settings.

Entering Node Numbers

To enter a node number (for the Connect or Query by Node commands), enter the 4-, 5-, or 6-digit node number.  If the specified node is not among the stations currently logged on, EchoLink will say “NOT FOUND”.

Entering Callsigns

To enter a callsign (for the Connect by Call or Query by Call commands), press two digits for each letter and number in the callsign.  The first digit is the key on which the letter appears (using 1 for Q and Z), and the second digit is 1, 2, or 3, to indicate which letter is being entered.  To enter a digit, press the digit followed by 0.  When finished, end with the pound key (#).

For example, the letter “K” is entered as “52″, the letter “Q” is entered as “11″, and the digit “7″ is entered as “70″.

Callsigns need not be entered in full.  If a partial callsign is entered, EchoLink will find the first match among the stations currently logged on.  If no match is found among the stations currently logged on, EchoLink will say “NOT FOUND”.

Examples

(These examples assume that the default DTMF codes are configured.)

  • To connect to node number 9999:

Enter:  9 9 9 9

EchoLink responds with:

“CONNECTING TO CONFERENCE E-C-H-O-T-E-S-T”

followed by

“CONNECTED”

because 9999 is the node number of conference server “*ECHOTEST*”.

  • To get the status of K1RFD:

Enter:  0 7 5 2 1 0 7 2 3 3 3 1 #

EchoLink responds with:

“K-1-R-F-D 1-3-6-4-4 BUSY”

because 13644 is the node number of station K1RFD, and K1RFD is currently busy.

  • To connect to a random link or repeater:

Enter: 0 1

EchoLink responds with:

“CONNECTING TO K-1-O-F REPEATER”

followed by

“CONNECTED”

because K1OF-R was selected at random.

****************************************************************

Hopefully this information was useful. I hope to hear you soon on the weekly Ham Twit Net Thursdays at 01:00 UTC, (Wednesdays at 19:00 CST) which can be accessed via EchoLink node W5RAW-R #387265, or on the Borger repeater 147.060, PL 00.0. For more information on the HamTwitNet, click here.


Amateur Radio Applications for Motorola Droid Phones

I don’t intend to portray myself as a Motorola Droid salesman, and I don’t intend to compare the Droid to the iPhones at all. I certainly do not intend to start any debate over such trivial matters. However, I do own a Droid, and I have found many useful applications that are designed for the Droid that are related to Amateur Radio and I thought I would share them. Maybe someone can share some useful applications designed for the lesser quality, and less reliable iPhone.

Amateur Radio Call Log, by APK Labs, FREE www.apklabs.com

Amateur Radio Call Log is a basic ham radio logging app for An droid 1.5 and above. It stores Date, Time, Station, Freq, Mode, RST, and additional comments. Also has the ability to easily look-up callsign information from the FCC database.

UTC Time (beta), by bjg222, FREE www.bjg222.com

Simple, fast way to check current UTC/Zulu time. App syncs with internet time servers. Includes widget. Useful for pilots or aviation industry!

Scanner Buddy, by Karlan Mitchell, FREE www.3dstoneage.com

Turn your phone into a Police Radio Scanner! Supports many major US/International cities! Additionally Fire & other public services.

Ham Radio Study, by Tango 11, FREE www.tango11.com

Prepare for Amateur Radio examinations. Includes full question pools: Technician (effective till 2/30/2010), General (effective till 2/30/2011), Extra (effective till 6/30/2012). Asks you questions, remembers which questions you’re having trouble with. Does not yet include images, which is mostly an issue for Extra.

Ham, by Smerty Software, Free www.smerty.org

Open source Ham Radio App for Android. View current solar data and calculated band conditions. 1.3 very minimal QRZ.com callsign lookups.

HamSatDroid, by jcrq, FREE www.sites.google.com/site.hamsatdroid

Amateur radio satellite pass prediction. Home location’s maidenhead grid shown on pass and map views.

EchoLink, by Synergenics, LLC, FREE www.groups.google.com/group/echolink-android

This app is for licensed Amateur Radio operators only. See www.echolink.org for more information. EchoLink for Android provides access to the EchoLink network from your Android device. You can use this app to connect to the EchoLink system from almost anywhere, using either a Wi-Fi or cellular (3G) connection.

Morse Droid, by UtopicSoft, FREE www.utopicsoft.com/android.php?pkgid=com.twistandroid.morsedroid

*NEW SOUND added! This application converts text into Morse code, and Morse code to text, and vibrates this code.

Amateur Radio Callsign DB, by Infantry Company, FREE www.infantrycompany.com

This app allows you to quickly and easily lookup license data for U.S. amateur radio callsigns. Search by callsign or last name.

Signals, by APK Labs, FREE www.apklabs.com

“Signals” provides a quick and simple reference to various communications signals, such as 10/11 codes, Morse Code, Phonetic Alphabet, Police Codes, Q-Signals, and more. Great for police scanners and ham radio enthusiasts.


Packet and APRS in the Panhandle

This post is intended to be tied in with the Feb 7th PARC meeting. The intent is to provide members and others interested in packet/APRS in quickly finding useful links on how to implement a digital station either in your home, vehicle or on the go.

 

This is not indented to go into detail about how to configure your station, rather to give you a general idea and a central resource to find all the applications and equipment we use to make our stations run. Hopefully in the future I can go more in depth on how to configure various items, but for the time being I feel there are enough good articles around the net to get anyone started, Google is your friend!

And of course any of us who are into packet and APRS would be more than willing to answer your questions online, over the radio or in person.

 

For a good introduction to packet radio, read this: http://www.tapr.org/pr_intro.html

 

Now some equipment.

 

For a home station you have two choices when it comes to transmitting and receiving packet data, that is, using a hardware TNC or a software TNC (AKA, sound card interface).

 

Let’s start with hardware

 

The most widely known and used hardware TNC manufacturer is Kantronics, we use them in the majority of our nodes and digi’s here in the panhandle. Second to the MFJ 1270c that we use for real packet nodes where routing is needed.

 

Here is a good article on aprs.net on choosing a TNC for APRS, although most of this would also apply to general packet operations as well. It looks a bit old but still good.

For another good list of usable TNC’s see http://www.packetradio.com/windex/tnc.htm

 

To add to the list www.byonics.com also sells the TinyTrak4 that can be used as either a APRS tracker or a KISS TNC. It’s code is constantly being updated and more and more features are being added all the time. The byonics TinyTrak3+ is likely the most widely used APRS tracking device used today and it quite powerful with tied in to a GPS.

Along with this the Open Tracker is a very nice APRS tracker.

 

Just about any TNC made my MFJ, Timewave (AEA) or PacComm should have no trouble interfacing with just about any radio (even a scanner, if you just want to receive) without much effort, wiring diagrams can be had by doing simple searches for your TNC type and your radio model on the internet.

 

Software TNC’s

(Sound Card Interfaces) come in many shapes, sizes and of course price ranges. They can even be built from parts you might have laying around in your junk box.

The idea behind the software TNC is to transport the audio to and from your radio to your computers built in sound card using the mic/line in and speaker/line out jacks. Doing so moves the task of encoding and decoding the data packets to the PC.

 

Other than building your own interface one of the cheapest available is the RASCAL interface made by Buxcomm (www.buxcomm.com) where you can get a cable to match just about any radio on the planet.

There are also other interfaces by Tigertronics and RigBlaster.

 

KC2RLM.info has tons of useful sound card info available at http://www.kc2rlm.info/soundcardpacket/

 

Software

Last but not least is the software end. The majority of the software that will be listed below can be used for packet and APRS using either a hardware TNC or a sound card interface.

 

The application that I feel does the best job of turning your computer into a huge TNC is AGW Packet Engine, aka, AWGPE (http://www.sv2agw.com/ham/agwpe.htm ). Using this software and any receiver to pump audio into your sound card one can be decoding packets in no time flat.

 

AGWPE is a great software package and allows the user to do many things via a radio and or TCP/IP (this does not mean the internet) For example one could take a small computer with AGWPE installed on it using either a hardware TNC or a sound card interface (or both really), connected to a radio and antenna and plugged into a building wide TCP/IP network and via software such as Winpack or WinAPRS remotely connect to the computer and send and receive data via the TNC just as if were directly connected to your local computer.

This gives you the advantage of connecting many people to the same device using minimal hardware plus keeping coax cables runs short in the process. The other advantage is being able to connect multiple devices to this computer via AGWPE and combining the data into single streams or crossing to other bands or modes. And even multiple AGWPE nodes to each other via TCP/IP. Neat stuff.

 

For straight up packet radio operating I like to use Winpack. As it allows me to configure a serial port for connecting to a TNC directly or a software port for connecting to AGWPE. Add with that if you are using a sound card or limited TNC it can act as a mailbox and BBS.

Almost any terminal program can be used with a hardware TNC. Hyper Terminal that in included with most every windows computer makes a quick and easy terminal should the need arise.

 

For APRS mapping I’m quite partial to WinAPRS, with tiger mapping.

Although AGWTracker and Xastir (for Linux) are very popular as well and can both be used with both types of TNC’s.

 

Some of the other devices that you will need will be things like

 

USB to serial adapters (if your computer doesn’t have a s real serial RS-232 port for direct keying of a radio or connection to a TNC)

USB or PCI or ISA Sound Card (to dedicate to a sound card interface)

GPS for connecting to your APRS Tracker

Misc. cables and parts and pieces from for building your own cables and interfaces can be found at the www.buxcomm.com website.

 

 

If one is looking to check out what APRS is and don’t want to purchase any equipment the best way to do so would be by visiting the www.findu.com webiste and http://aprs.fi website. Type in a callsign or a city name and start exploring.

 

I apologize for the sloppy article, but I hope this gives you an idea of just what’s availabe to one seeking to get in to packet or APRS be it for the first time or as a returning user. 

I’m sure I missed alot of good links, software applications and hardware, please feel free to comment and hopefully I’ll find time to update and clean up this post with the most useful data

 

Adair Winter

KD5DYP


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