It is with sadness that the Quad-County Amateur Radio Club notes the passing of Douglas A. Rowles W3DWR, 72 of Morrisdale, PA on Friday, January 2, 2015 at UPMC-Shadyside in Pittsburgh, PA. Doug was currently serving the club as a member of the Executive Board, and was an a frequently serving officer of the club, having recently held office as Treasurer and President. Doug was also the Net manager, and a fixture at club activities including public service events, contests, dinners, banquets, breakfasts and meetings.Doug served as Facilities Coordinator for the annual Field Day event held every June.
Doug was an enthusiastic supporter of operation on the VHF and UHF bands, including repeaters, and simplex operations, as well as single sideband operations on Six and two meters. He was part of the “WIT Team” – a group of club members focused on VHF contesting led by Gary Boucher W3GNR, and with the group scored first place an numerous VHF contests through thhe early 1980s.
Doug is survived by his brother, Jeff KA3FHV who resided with Doug at their home in Morrisdale. Funeral arrangements are being provided by the Chidboy Funeral Home in Curwensville. Viewing will be on Tuesday, January 6, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm, and on Wednesday, January 7 from 10-11 am, with services following.
I am writing today with some sad news. My wife Mary Ann (N3PUH) has been in touch with one of her friends that she’s worked with over the years, a cousin to Doug Rowles (W3DWR). As I think most of you know, Doug’s health has not been good for quite some time; particularly, these past 6 weeks or so. He has been in the hospital since around Thanksgiving.
Recent tests reveal that Doug is experiencing organ failure. His primary health concerns these last several years have been heart issues and diabetes. He’s been on a respirator during this last hospitalization.
His family has decided not to prolong his illness with dialysis or other heroic measures. Doug’s brother Larry is coming today to take Jeff (KA3FHV) to Pittsburgh to stay with him till other arrangements can be made for his care. As some of you know, Doug’s mother, Lillian, was the matchmaker who introduced Mary Ann and I at one of the club banquets at the Curwensville Branding Iron over 20 years ago.
Please keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers and feel free to pass this information along to others who may want to know. I haven’t been an active member of the clubs for several years and I certainly do not want to slight anyone by omission. I’ll send updates around as more details become available.
I did some very much-needed maintenance on this website today. All necessary software updates were completed, configured and debugged. One or two small issues remain, but I think you will all enjoy the improvements!
Please visit the poll section on the left often to make your voice heard. Polls are once again working and will be changed weekly. you can click the link at the bottom of the poll box to see the results or participate in past polls. Have fun!
Turn the APRS modem off.
Set a UHF frequency in either the upper or lower display, using either the VFO or memory.
Set a VHF frequency in the other display, using either the VFO or memory.
Turn the FTM-400 off.
Press and hold the lower 3 buttons to the right of the display then press the power button. “X-BAND Repeater” will be displayed between the upper and lower frequency displays, if the FTM-400 transferred into cross-band repeater mode.
Exiting Cross-band mode
Turn the FTM-400 off.
Press and hold the lower 3 buttons to the right of the display then press the power button. “X-BAND Repeater” will not be displayed between the upper and lower frequency displays, if the FTM-400 transferred out of cross-band repeater mode.
Return the frequencies to your preferences.
Turn the APRS modem on, if you run APRS.
Thanks to N3FYD, Greg for the link to the YouTube video.
(From the handout at the March 21, 2014 Club program)
You can still communicate as you have in the past, you will not have to buy a new radio, your radio will not be obsolete. The main difference is that at various times you may hear a noise similar to buzzing or a static like noise, this is likely a digital conversation. The digital conversation noise can be eliminated by setting up your radio’s receiver with a tone squelch of 173.8 Hz. The digital side of the repeater does not transmit the 173.8 Hz tone, therefore your radio will stay quiet until another analog FM radio transmits into the repeater. If you want to use the repeater, just talk as you have in the past. The repeater has the capability to detect what type of signal it is receiving and switch to the proper mode to enable you to talk to anyone whether they have a digital radio or the traditional analog FM. Also if you happen to hear or know there is a digital conversation on the repeater you can join the conversation just as you have in the past. When the repeater “hears” your analog FM signal it will switch to your mode and the folks who are using the digital mode will be switched to your analog FM mode. Everyone on the repeater will be able to talk, all automatically!
If you need help setting up your radio with tone squelch, check with one of the officers in the Club, they will be able to direct you to the right ham to help you.
WOW! THE DAUNTLESS QCARC contest team warmed up the ionospere during several on-air operating events in October and November. Thanks to the generosity of Club President Peach Caltagarone AB3OG, we were able to string up some pretty impressive antennas at Hummingbird Speedway and rack up some pretty impressive scores, operating from the really nice cabin overlooking Hummingbird Speedway.
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE antenna was the N3QC Rhombic (orange in the photo), with its beam centered on Southern Europe and the Mediterranian Sea — an area encompassing the largest hotbed of DX Contest operators in the world. In case you’ve never heard of a rhombic, it’s a wire antenna with the wires oriented in such a way as to generate a high-gain “pencil beam” in the desired direction with a very low angle of radiation. Round-the-world communications along a narrow path are possible even in poor conditions.
The N3QC Rhombic is made up of four one-wavelength (on 40 meters) legs with a 53.4° apex angle, suspended 50 feet above ground. The main lobe radiates on a bearing of 63.3° toward Europe, with a take-off angle of 21.2° above the horizon on 20 meters, and 9.2° on 10 meters. Gain is 19.75 dBi on 10 meters, 15.08 dBi on 20 meters, and 10.85 dBi on 40 meters with a 45° takeoff angle and a 60° beamwidth!
The first thing you notice about the rhombic is how quiet it is. Due to its enormous size of 240 by 120 feet (2/3 of an acre!) the aperture is large enough that nearby terrestrial noise is picked up in common mode, and cancels itself out in the feed system. Which brings us to the second thing you notice: Received signals are HUGE! The large aperture means a gigantic capture area allowing the incoming wavefronts to generate strong currents along the wires. On transmit, the nearly 20 dB gain means our 500 watt signal results in an ERP of over 40,000 watts!!!
When we first hooked it to a radio, we could hear European hams on 10 meters. It was midnight in Europe, and they were just chatting with each other using low power. tuning around the 10 meter band, I heard one station in Spain calling CQ and answered him with only 100 watts. He incredulously asked if I was really in W3. He turned his yagi toward the US and we were both astounded by the S9 + 20 dB signal strength. That was a very good sign for our upcoming contest efforts!
The rhombic is a tough act to follow, but it’s highly directional and there was a need to cover areas it didn’t. So up went two G5RV antennas. The first (red in the photo) hung at 43 feet and was aligned parallel to the rhombic’s main beam, to provide coverage perpendicular to it. Specifically, the coverage was planned to cover Japan and the Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and South America. The second G5RV (green in the photo) was suspended at 60 feet and aligned north-south to provide coverage of the US on 80, 40 and 20 meters, and have four lobes on 15 and 10 meters to the NE, SE, SW and NW to supplement the first G5RV.
Although significantly noisier than the rhombic, the G5RVs proved to do their intended jobs and provided solid coverage to their predicted target areas, just as they were designed. Although yagis or tribanders would provide more gain and flexibility than the G5RVs, the expense and effort to install towers and beams was not feasable at this time. The G5RVs were a good compromise, and worked more than adequately. Perhaps in the future, another unterminated rhombic (bi-directional) would better serve Japan, the Pacific islands, the Caribbean and South America. (Or maybe a curtain array, say an HRRS 4/4/0.5, phase-steerable +/- 30°, centered on 330°/150°. Such an antenna would cover 80% of the world’s landmass with about 16 dBi on 20-10 meters.)
The science works in practice, and I am sure that were he still with us, QCARC’s first president Gary Boucher W3GNR would be very proud of our engineering work!
WE ARE NOT wealthy. But our club is rich in the generosity we show each other! For example, the rhombic consists of 550 feet of wire, provided by W3BC. He also provided 50 feet of RG-8 coax (enough to reach the ground) and a 4:1 balun. WA3UFN provided 150 feet of RG-8 coax to continue the feed to the shack. W3BC also provided 500 feet of rope, and the insulators used to hold the four corners of the rhombic way up in the air. His baitcasting skills and equipment launched the support ropes over the treetops. AB3OG provided the racetrack location and permission to place the antenna there. Cost to the club: $0.00 — Value: Priceless!
When it came time to operate, W3BC transported a shackful of contest-grade radios. His classic Icom IC-751A transceiver, IC-R71E receiver, IC-2KL solid-state, fluid-cooled linear, and AT-500 automatic bandswitching antenna tuner made up one operating position for the first couple events. His newly-acquired Icom IC-756 Pro III replaced the erstwhile 751 for the Phone Sweepstakes. AB3OG brought his Icom IC-765 for the second operating position. His one-time world-champion Icom flagship rig performed admirably, allowing us to tune out the severe QRM and focus on the signals we wanted.
Additionally, W3TM brought headsets, rig interfaces, voice keyer, CW paddles and footswitches to round out the operating positions. W3BC supplied the logging computers and software. He also made up Great-Circle maps centered on our QTH, with the patterns for each antenna and band superimposed. AB3OG paid the electric bill, and kept the lights and heat running in the beautiful, modern cabin, which made operating comfortable and fun. The nicely appointed cabin was the perfect blend of rustic atmosphere and modern convenience to make our time spent there very enjoyable. Those not operating were able to follow the games on a wide-screen TV, also courtesy of AB3OG.
The Club provided food, snacks and beverages, and KA3MKY brought snacks and served up the world’s best homemade chili. Nobody went hungry, and all the comforts of home were available. Again, the cost to the Club was small.
During the setup, KB3LES helped out with the heavy lifting, and brought his MFJ antenna analyzer which proved to be valuable in locatiing a faulty coax connector. That was the only equipment failure, and the CB-grade connector was completely burned up when we applied 500 watts to the feedline. (A PL-259 that meets specifications will easily handle well over 1000 watts at 50 ohms, but the cheap imitation ones sold in CB shops WILL fail at under 100 watts — catastrophically!!!) Thanks to W3TM who provided a replacement connector on a moment’s notice!
For the Jamboree on the Air, WD3D brought his Kenwood transceiver and a vertical antenna. He demonstrated the ease with which an Amateur Radio Station could be set up and talk to other stations around the world!
THERE WAS NO shortage of operating events! We started out with the Pennsylvania QSO Party on October 12 and 13. We operated the full 22 hours of the event, and had a very sucessful experience. Not only did we score 145,000+ points, but we made a “Clean Sweep” of all 67 counties! It was very easy to bust a pileup on our first call, and we received many unsolicited comments about our “big signal”. Operators were AB3OG, W3BC, W3TM and WD3D.
Next was the Jamboree ont the Air on Saturday and Sunday, October 19-20. Boy Scouts from the local troops were invited to attend. A number of hams were present to help out. Wd3D brought a complete station and set it up, and talked to the world. Club members present were W3DWR, KA3FHV, AB3OG, W3TM, KB3LES, KA3MKY, W3BC.
This was taken 10/26/13 around 7:30pm shortly before the half million point threshold…CONGRATULATIONS JOE AND PEACH!!! [KA3MKY Photo]
Then on October 25-27 it was time for the big one… The biggest contest of them all, the annual CQ World-Wide DX Contest. Could we hope to even be heard with all the world’s biggest of the big guns? The answer was a resounding, YES! The rhombic showed its true colors as we again received many reports of a booming signal from all over the world. New Zealand at over 9,000 miles away was booming in on 10 meters. We often could hear “local” stations via long path, with their signals going 24,000 miles the long-way around the world with the characteristic 1/8 second delay or “echo”. The “red” G5RV delivered a dozen QSOs with Japan on 10, 15 and 20 meters! We worked well over 100 countries — DXCC in one wekend! We jokingly suggested that we should shoot for a million points. The truth is that we almost made it: Our final score was over 897,000 points and if we could have had even a couple more manhours on one or the other radio, we would have likely hit the million-point mark! Ops: W3BC, AB3OG. More would have been very welcome and appreciated!!!
Finally on November 16 and 17th, we set up shop for the ARRL November Sweepstakes phone contest. We entered in the multi-operator, single transmitter category. W3BC’s new Pro III was the workhorse, and the radio and antennas performed perfectly. Band conditions were fantastic. The long-path”echo” of our own signal was often heard when we let up on the transmit switch! 10 meters was wall-to-wall with stations all over the US and Canada. It was like being in one of those game show money booths, and we tried to grab as many QSOs as we could. We worked both Alaska and Hawaii right off the bat in the first few minutes, and had collected contacts in 60 different ARRL sections within the first six hours, leaving 23 to be worked for a clean sweep. By the time we shut down for the night, we had made a couple hundred QSOs, and had talked to station in all but seven states.
We started up again on Sunday morning, and found 10 meters was good for DX but not the US. We went to 15 meters and could hear that “long-path echo” on almost every station. I’ve never seen conditions that good in 47 years of being a ham. We settled into systematically tuning the band, and it seemed that on every QSO we picked up one of the needed sections. Before long, we were down to single digit numbers of needed sections. Over the course of an hour, we brought it down to the final four: Newfoundland and Manitoba in Canada, and North Dakota and Kentucky in the US. We tried tuning 20 meters, but the approaching weather front was producing S9 + 20 dB of “static” on that band. Back up to 10 meters, but not many signals, and those we heard we had already worked long before. Then on 15 meters, we almost immediately found a VY2 and the “NL” multiplier was ours. On the TV, the Steelers had just scored a field goal, so that must have been a lucky time for Western Pennsylvania.
A little more tuning around and there was Manitoba! Now we were down to two more sections. On 40 meters, there was Nancy K9DIG calling “CQ Sweepstakes” and in a matter of seconds, North Dakota was in our log! Only one more setion to go! We went down to 80 meters for an hour or two and began to give up hope of the Clean Sweep. We did work a large number of stations in an hour-long pile-up of stations who needed Western Pennsylvania, but none of them were from Kentucky. We then went back up to 40 meters to take a quick run across the band and pick up the few stations we hadn’t worked yet.
The Steelers game was over, everybody had worked everybody else and boredom was setting in. We heard one guy calling CQ and answered him. He replied, “N3QC You blew me out of my chair with that big signal. You’re the loudest station I ever heard!” Yes, our modest station was acting much more like a Big Gun than the little pistol we really were!
As evening fell, the rain was coming down and 20, 15 and 10 meters were closing when we heard a W4 calling CQ on 40 meters. Was he in Kentucky? We threw out our call. No reply. We called again a couple more times. Still nothing. And then…
Another pile-up of stations started calling us. We worked through them, and when they tapered off, we tried calling “CQ Kentucky” a couple times in the closing hours of the contest. We could visualize our hopes for a Clean Sweep sprouting wings and flying away. But up from the ashes, a friendly voice came through the speaker, “There’s a Kentucky down on 3702.”
Off we went!
Sure enough, the Kentucky station was there, working a huge pile-up. We got our ducks in a row, and AB3OG sent our call once along with the dozen or so other stations who sounded like feeding time at the hog trough. But thanks to the rhombic and the amp and the Pro III audio and the operating skill (along with a little luck), there was Kentucky calling N3QC!!! Peach finished the QSO and entered it in the log and then we all cheered the accomplishment. We had made our Clean Sweep!!! Of course that implies that we also worked all 50 states… In only a 24-hour period!
That Winning Season
THE WEATHER WARNINGS started flowing in when there were still a couple more contest hours left to go. Putting safety first, we made the difficult decision to forego the hundred or so more QSOs that would have put us over the 100,000 point threshold and opted to shut down and load all the equipment up. Mother Nature even sided with us and suspended the drenching downpour that had been going on all afternoon and evening. We tore down and removed all the equipment from the cabin, loaded it in the vehicles and then set about securing the antennas for the winter.
Sweepstakes operators were W3BC, AB3OG and KA3MKY, with a nice visit by KB3LES and his XYL Jo. We all had a great time in the Sweepstakes and all the other events. Everyone had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. The radios and antennas worked perfectly and more than lived up to our expectations. We proved that we could get the techincal part right without spending a fortune. We also proved that we could operate efficiently for long periods without succumbing to exhaustion.
The 2013 Fall contest season had come to a close. Our club suited up and showed up. We made very good scores without overworking ourselves, and probably won some awards — we definitely won two “Clean Sweep” awards — and really, really enjoyed ourselves. The silent key founding members of our Club would be very proud of our efforts, both in the technical and the competitive aspects of the events. We did our best to honor their heritage.
The only dark cloud was that we missed you. There was plenty of fun (and food) to go around, and even if you don’t think you’re up to contesting, you could have shared our excitement and fun while watching us win each little victory and by cheering us on. Yes RadioSport is a spectator sport too, and your team spirit and support would have meant a lot to those of us who were competing on the air. Can we count on your support next time? It really does mean a lot to those of us in the thick of the competition.
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Hello everybody, now we are going to have some fun! As some of you new hams might remember, at the last meeting I promised that you were going to play with some of my rigs at upcoming meetings, and I thought you should get acquainted with the easiest rigs first, so, take a look at the […] […]
Hi All, Here’s the project I’m looking to undertake and I’m wondering if anyone has any particular suggestions about what might work best in this area? I’m looking to put up an antenna(s) for 160-20 meter use. I already have a 10 meter dipole, which also seems to work ok on 6 meters, but am willing […] […]
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