Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to be talking about the cold season cousin of The ARRL Field Day, Winter Field Day and some of the challenges that come along with it, we talk about the Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service in our amateur radio club spotlight, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and hamfests over the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!
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Downloads for December: 6,286 – best month to date!
Year end total: 47,436! That’s an average of 968 downloads per episode! If you ask me that is pretty awesome for the first year! Thank you to all of you who listen and thank you for sharing my podcast with your friends, please continue to do so and help me grow even more!
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I would like to thank George Zafiropoulos, KJ6VU with Packtenna.com, Dan Romanchik, KB6NU amd Scott Davis, N3FJP for donating things for give-a-way prizes for this episode.
- $100 gift certificate to Packtenna.com
- Any/all ebooks written by Dan, KB6NU on kb6nu.com
- N3FJP Logging Software Package by N3FJP Software
- Custom call sign desk plate made by me…:)
How To Win?
Being that this is the 50th episode of this podcast, I am going to do this a little different than I have in the past. The only thing that you need to do is to sign up for my email list. If you are already signed up for my email list, then you are already entered. Signing up is super easy, just fill out the form below and click Sign Me Up! Check your email and click on the confirmation link in the email.
Tech Corner – Winter Field!
Winter Field Day runs for 24 hours during the last full weekend in January each year from 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Saturday to 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Sunday. For 2017, the dates are January 28th and 29th. Station set-up may commence no earlier than 1900 UTC (2pm EST) on Friday, January 27th. Station setup may consume no more than 12 hours total. How & when you schedule/spend those 12 hours is up to you.
During 2006 the suggestion for SPAR to sponsor a Winter Field Day was made and after discussions in the Forum, rules and a date were set. On January 13-14, 2007, the First Annual Winter Field Day was held and based on comments from the participants; this will indeed go down in the record books as the start of an annual tradition.
It all started last June when Charles, N5PVL asked if SPAR would be interested in sponsoring a winter field day activity. There followed a discussion, proposed rules and modifications, all culminating in a vote in September approving SPAR’s sponsorship. Next came a flurry of activities to get the word out on fairly short notice and finally, the actual contest in January.
Walt (W5ALT), Charlie (KY5U) contributed greatly to the success of SPAR and WFD. However, due to medical issues activity within SPAR, their forum and support of WFD have declined. Walt did state in the forum that he was somewhat overloaded.
Many amateur operators were upset that 2015 scores were not posted and we could not get a response out of SPAR. They also thought that WFD would just fade away. That is when several of us band together and formed Winter Field Day Association.
The rules are the same and the date is still the last full weekend in January. A temporary committee has been setup to get things up and running. They are: Tom (WD8MBE), Bill (VE3CLQ), Erik (WX4ET), Dave (W3DET) and Ken (N8KC).
For now, if there are any questions, suggestions, or complaints; please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter Field Day 2015 VK3KQ/P Sunday
Operation from inside a remote, insulated, heated (or cooled, depending on your local weather), and weather-protected structure where an Amateur station is normally not available. (Park buildings/cabins, community center, EOC, senior center, club shack, etc).
Winter Field Day in Fairdale Kentucky
Operation from a location partly or fully exposed to the elements and at least 30 feet away from your normal station location and not using any part of a previously erected antenna system or ham station. A campground, park pavilion, canopy, picnic table, tent, pop-up camper, or a backyard shed/tent/deck, etc may be used. Operation from a non-insulated car/truck/van/boat (mobile or not) is considered “outdoor”.
Operation from inside a home or inside another structure attached to a home that could or would be the usual location of an Amateur station (garage, sunroom, etc), generally using a previously erected antenna system. A “Home” entrant may still be eligible to claim the “alternate power” bonus if not using commercial power. Use of any pre-existing (on site) or permanently installed antenna system or station components renders your station a “Home” station.
Your entry “class” is a number designated by the number of stations in your entry that are capable of simultaneous transmission. (Explained further in summary below)
Your WFD exchange will be a combination of your “class” and “category” and your ARRL section as described below, using an appropriate letter designator or phonetics (examples: 1I, 2H, 5I, 6O, 3H, 9I, etc) In short: Call sign, Class + Category, ARRL Section. (Example: K4YM this is KB8X, we are Two Hotel, Ohio …or in CW: K4YM de KB8X TU 2H OH… KB8X this is K4YM, thank you, we are Twelve India, West Central Florida ..or in CW: KB8X TU 12I WCF)
1 point per Phone QSO, 2 points per CW and Digital QSO. Busted exchanges will be penalized by 1 additional point for each missed exchange or callsign. Duplicate contacts (same call, band and mode) will not be counted, but will not be penalized.
Mode and Band Multipliers:
Count 1 multiplier for each mode operated per band. For example, operating CW and Phone on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters, CW and PSK31 on 20m, FM on 2meters and 440MHz would be a total multiplier of 12x.
Power Output Multipliers:
- >100W = 1x
- 100W or less = 2x
- QRP = 4x(QRP defined below)
- You may claim 1500 bonus points if no commercial power is used in powering your WFD sattion. (see “alternate power” definition below) Your “logging-only” computer may use any available power.
- You may claim 1500 bonus points if your operation is “Outdoors” (see definition below).
- You may claim 1500 bonus points if your operation is not a “Home” operation (remote).
- You may claim 1500 bonus points for making a QSO via Satellite (once only. see Satellite rule)
Log submission deadline and contents
Logs must be submitted to email@example.com via email before 0000 UTC March 1st to be considered. Emailed logs should contain the following in the subject line..”WFD 2017 Log KD8XXX” with KD8XXX being the callsign you used for the event.If simply submitting a question about WFD, please put “WFD Questions” in the subject line to ensure your query gets to the right in-box. All logs must be in Cabrillo format and should contain the following information: Frequency, Modes in the log, Date and time, QSO data required: Entrants’s Call, Class + Category, ARRL/RAC Section, and Bonus Points.
Logging Programs that the WFDA recommends:
Now that we have all the official stuff out of the way, let’s talk a little about some of the challenges of Winter Field Day over The ARRL Field Day.
Probably the most prominent thing that pops into my head is the weather and especially for those of you that are in the north! During the ARRL Field Day, those of us in the the south especially, have to deal with the blistering heat. Here in Texas it is typically in the upper 90’s or lower 100’s during Field Day in June. With Winter Field Day it isn’t as bad here in the south as it is typically around 50 for the highs here in Texas, but for those of you up North, you might struggle to get above freezing, which presents a whole slew of different problems.
When thinking about things that the cold could affect, the first thing I think about is how am I going to stay warm? If I am wanting to operate the outside class, I am going to need some way to get out of the elements, like a tent or some kind of shelter and a wind block. I am definitely going to have to have more layers of clothes, as well as some kind of gloves. Of course, that brings me to another thought, If I am wearing gloves, how is that going to affect my operating experience. Is it going to be harder to tune the radio? If it going to be harder to type or write my contacts in my log?
The next question that you have to ask yourself is how is the cold going to affect your equipment. You radio and computers, it probably won’t hurt much, but what about things like antennas or coax. If you are getting any snow or ice, how is it going to affect you antennas. If there is any ice build up, it could affect your SWR’s. What about grounding your antenna system. If you have a lot of snow, or the ground is frozen, it is going to be harder to drive the ground rod in the ground to get that proper grounding.
On top of the antenna and grounding questions, what about your coax? I’m sure that if you have worked with coax in the cold you know that it is a pain to work with when it’s cold. It doesn’t want to lay flat, it doesn’t want to uncoil, it’s stiff. All this and more I’m sure!
West Mountain Radio
I would like to welcome my first podcast sponsor, West Mountain Radio! For those of you that don’t know who they are, they make some awesome equipment that I have had the pleasure of using over the past 15 or so years. They make several pieces of equipment that are so well built and are so useful. Things like the RIGBlaster, RIGrunner and the DC-to-Go Boxes. I talked a little bit about the RIGblaster in my last episode and I’ve talked about the RIGrunner several times in previous episode but today I wanted to tell y’all about their DC-to-Go Boxes.
These are neat cases that you can put a battery in to protect your station’s floor from an unfortunate battery accident, however, they are so much more than that as well. These boxes have a Super PWRgate PG40 and a RIGrunner 4007U or 4008 built into them as well.
The PWRgate provides you an uninterruptible power supply in case you lose AC power it will automatically switch to the battery in the box. This is a perfect solution for a repeater backup and/or event like the upcoming Winter Field Day!
The RIGrunner 4008 provides you with 40 amps of D.C. Power plug over 8 slots while the 4007u gives you 40 amps across 7 slots but it has some extra feature like a digital load meter and USB charging port as well as a solid state push button on/off switch and an automatic shutoff for high or low voltages!
Both of these are mounted to the side of the battery box. All you have to do is drop a battery inside and hook up the leads and you are ready to roll!!
Here are the links for the premade versions of the DC-to-Go boxes. It you can also Custom make one to your own choices!
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RIGrunner & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1381), $249.95
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RR4007U & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1577), $269.95
- Custom make your own!
Amateur Radio Club Spotlight
Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service
- 1st Monday of every month at 116 Reservation Road in the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake
- 146.610 – PL 162.2
- 146.820 – PL 162.2
- 444.000 – PL 162.2 System Fusion
- CARS Weekly Club Net – Sunday at 8pm – 146.820 Repeater
- CARES (ARES) Net – Wednesday at 8pm – 146.820 Repeater
- Virginia QSO Party
- Field Day
- Battle of Great Bridge Special Event
- Tour de Cure
- Shack Day – 3rd Sat of the Month the club shack is opened to all members and the general public.
|QRP Fox Hunt||0200Z-0330Z, Jan 6|
|PODXS 070 Club PSKFest||0000Z-2400Z, Jan 7|
|WW PMC Contest||1200Z, Jan 7 to 1200Z, Jan 8|
|SKCC Weekend Sprintathon||1200Z, Jan 7 to 2400Z, Jan 8|
|Original QRP Contest||1500Z, Jan 7 to 1500Z, Jan 8|
|Kid’s Day Contest||1800Z-2359Z, Jan 7|
|ARRL RTTY Roundup||1800Z, Jan 7 to 2400Z, Jan 8|
|EUCW 160m Contest||2000Z-2300Z, Jan 7 and
0400Z-0700Z, Jan 8
|DARC 10-Meter Contest||0900Z-1059Z, Jan 8|
|QRP Fox Hunt||0200Z-0330Z, Jan 11|
|AWA Linc Cundall Memorial CW Contest||2300Z, Jan 11 to 2300Z, Jan 12 and
2300Z, Jan 14 to 2300Z, Jan 15
|QRP Fox Hunt||0200Z-0330Z, Jan 13|
|NCCC Sprint Ladder||0230Z-0300Z, Jan 13|
|Old New Year Contest||0500Z-0900Z, Jan 14|
|UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest||1200Z, Jan 14 to 1200Z, Jan 15|
|North American QSO Party, CW||1800Z, Jan 14 to 0559Z, Jan 15|
|NRAU-Baltic Contest, SSB||0630Z-0830Z, Jan 15|
|NRAU-Baltic Contest, CW||0900Z-1100Z, Jan 15|
|Run for the Bacon QRP Contest||0200Z-0400Z, Jan 16|
|QRP Fox Hunt||0200Z-0330Z, Jan 18|
*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
- FreezeFest – Locust Fork, AL
- LARC’s Annual HAMFEST – White Pine, TN
- West Allis RAC’s 45th Annual Midwinter Swapfest – Waukesha, WI
- Greenwood Hamfest – Greenwood, SC
- San Antonio Radio Fiesta – Schertz, TX
- TARCFest – Tampa, FL
- TechFest 2017 – Lawrenceville, GA
- Thunderbird Hamfest 2017 – Phoenix, AZ
- Winston-Salem Firstfest – Winston-Salem, NC
- Winter Hamfest 2017 – Lovleland , CO
- Sunday Creek Amateur Radio Federation Hamfest – Nelsonville, OH
*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar
New Amateur Radio FM Transponder CubeSat Now in Space
The BY70-1 CubeSat launched on December 28 from the Taiyuan Space Launch Center in China, but in a lower orbit than intended. The satellite carries an Amateur Radio FM transponder.
BY70-1 was intended to go into a 530-kilometer (approximately 329-mile) circular Sun-synchronous orbit, but it appears the orbit is 524 × 212 kilometers, which will give the spacecraft an orbital lifetime of just a month or two.
Paul Stoetzer, N8HM, reported working Wyatt Dirks, AC0RA, through the FM transponder during the 1709 UTC pass on December 28. “Uplink requires precise frequency adjustment, and there’s a delay on the downlink, but the signal is strong,” Stoetzer said.
BY70-1 is a 2U CubeSat project for education and Amateur Radio. It features 3-axis stabilization and deployable solar panels. In addition to the FM transponder, BY70-1 has a camera, and plans call for downloading images and telemetry via a 9600 bps BPSK downlink. The IARU Amateur Satellite Frequency Coordination pages list an uplink of 145.920 MHz, and a downlink of 436.200 MHz.
AMSAT-UK has more information.
FCC Denies Expert Linears’ Request for Waiver of 15 dB Rule, Petition Pending
The FCC has denied a request by Expert Linears America LLC to waive §97.317(a)(2) of the Amateur Service rules limiting amplifier gain. Expert, of Magnolia, Texas, distributes linears manufactured by SPE in Italy. Its waiver request, filed in June, would have allowed Expert to import an amplifier capable of exceeding the current 15 dB gain limitation as it awaits FCC action on its April petition (RM-11767) to revise the same Amateur Service rules. That petition remains pending. Expert has asserted that there should be no gain limitation on amplifiers sold or used in the Amateur Service. Most commenters supported Expert’s waiver request, but a couple of commenters — including FlexRadio — demurred.
“In light of the conflicting comments regarding the desirability of eliminating the 15 dB limitation, we conclude that waiving the limitation at this stage of the rulemaking proceeding would prejudice the rulemaking proceeding and prematurely dispose of commenters’ concerns,” the FCC said in denying the waiver. “Moreover, we agree with FlexRadio that granting Expert’s waiver request while the rulemaking petition remains pending would provide an unfair market advantage for one equipment model over other manufacturers’ RF power amplifiers that would still be limited by [the existing rules].”
The FCC said it would rather give full consideration to “the pending issues” and apply the result of the rulemaking proceeding to all Amateur Radio Service equipment. The Commission said rule waivers “generally” are not warranted “merely to accommodate technical parameters that are based solely on harmonization with the manufacturer’s products available abroad.”
The FCC said a minority of those commenting on the waiver request expressed concern that eliminating the 15 dB limitation would lead to an overall increase in power levels, “including transmissions that intentionally or unintentionally exceed the maximum power limit.”
In its April rulemaking petition, Expert maintained that the 15 dB gain limitation is an unneeded holdover from the days when amplifiers were less efficient and the FCC was attempting to rein in the use of Amateur Service amplifiers by Citizens Band operators.
Although the FCC had proposed in 2004 to delete the requirement that amplifiers be designed to use a minimum of 50 W of drive power — and subsequently did so — it did not further discuss the 15 dB limit in the subsequent Report and Order in that proceeding.
Expert has pointed to its Model 1.3K FA amplifier as an example of a linear “inherently capable of considerably more than 15 dB of amplification,” which would make it a suitable match for low-power transceivers now on the market.
National Parks on the Air Contact Tally Tops 1 Million!
Participants in the ARRL’s National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) program have completed more than 1 million contacts! Activators operating from National Park Service units across the US and Chasers around the world pushed the contact tally over its goal this week. ARRL sponsored NPOTA to help the National Park Service celebrate its centennial.
“National Parks on the Air has become one of the most popular events in the history of the League,” NPOTA Administrator Sean Kutzko, KX9X, said. “It’s been fun seeing so many hams take part.”
Kutzko said the NPOTA Facebook group really helped drive participation, especially in the last 3 months, when it became clear that the 1 million-QSO goal was within reach. “Some 25,000 NPOTA contacts were uploaded to Logbook of The World (LoTW) every week since October,” he noted. “The entire group came together and simply willed the 1 million-contact mark to be broken. It was incredible to watch!” He said some real friendships developed among those who frequented the NPOTA Facebook page.
Those taking part in NPOTA made nearly 20,000 visits to 460 of the 489 NPS units eligible for NPOTA credit, including portions of the National Trails System and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Nearly 150 Chasers completed contacts with more than 400 of the 489 NPOTA units this year, while one Activator transmitted from more than 250 different NPS units in 2016. Kutzko said the activations effectively transported those National Park Service units via radio to all 50 states and more than 100 countries during 2016.
Kutzko said NPOTA garnered interest from hams at all proficiency levels, but he was especially gratified to see how it encouraged less-experienced hams to acquire new skills, such as operating a portable station on battery power, learning CW, or discovering digital modes. “Pileups from some activations rivaled those during a major DXpedition — if only for a few hours at a time,” he added.
Jim Clark Jr., an NPS Ranger at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont, said NPOTA helped to generate greater awareness of his unit. “National Parks on the Air has afforded us the opportunity to connect with a much larger and more diverse audience than we could have ever imagined,” he told ARRL. “We are pleased and proud that the world of Amateur Radio helped us to celebrate 100 years of service to the nation.”
Kutzko said being able to blend Amateur Radio with the history and scenery offered by the National Park Service was a wonderful gift. “We heard from countless amateurs who learned something about our country while operating from an NPS unit and experiencing ‘the other side’ of a pileup. There will be other on-air events from ARRL, but National Parks on the Air was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I don’t think there will ever be anything quite like it in Amateur Radio again. I will miss it.”
Until month’s end, NPOTA Activators will make a big push to get on the air from NPS units all across the country in a final sprint to the finish line. Get in on the action as NPOTA ends with a roar on December 31 at 2359 UTC!
As of this recording there was 1,062,159 QSOs over 20,184 separate activations. It really surprised me when I went through the list of activation states and there was 16 parks that were not activated!
Another thing that was really interesting to me was on the leaderboard page. The person that had the highest number of activations was Stuart H Thomas, KB1HQS. He has 500 activation points, the second place person is N4CD with 335. Stuart was a guest over on the Hamradio 360 podcast a couple months ago, click here to listen to that episode. He is on the cover of the 11th edition of the ARRL Operating Manual for Radio Amateurs and did a write up about tips, tricks and techniques for portable operating in the book starts in page 1.76. He also has an article in the November 2016 QST on page 69. He is also featured in the 2017 ARRL Calendar in August.
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM