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QC Weather

Chance of a Thunderstorm
Saturday 08/19/2017 80%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Cloudy early, then thunderstorms developing this afternoon. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 78F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%.
Partly Cloudy
Sunday 08/20/2017 10%
Partly Cloudy
Partly cloudy skies. High 82F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Clear
Monday 08/21/2017 10%
Clear
Mostly sunny skies. High around 85F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
Quad-County Weather Page

Latest News

he 2016 Baker Trail Ultra-marathon will be held starting at 6:30 AM Saturday August 26, 2017. This year will be on the "northern section" of the trail (Cook Forest to Brookville).  Here is a link for information and to sign up: http://www.rachelcarsontrails.org/bt/ultrachallenge/uc17    Scroll to the bottom of the page. Please mark your ...

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Amateur Radio Parity Act Moves Into The Senate

Amateur Radio Parity Act Moves Into The Senate

  This important piece of legislation that may very well have an effect on more amateur radio operators than what you may first  expect, has moved into the Senate. The legislation has a history of bi-partisan support but we still need to keep aware of what is occurring with the bill ...

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SKYWARN TRAINING – WORTH YOUR TIME

SKYWARN TRAINING - WORTH YOUR TIME

Sometimes things do not all ways as they appear. SkyWarn training may conjure up ideas of intense detailed training for the likes of those who are meteorologists.  No so! This training is for the everyday person on the street, so to say. The training gives the everyday person the background to ...

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Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Scheduled

Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Scheduled

The SkyWarn presentation has been rescheduled for July 19, 2017. This training is open to amateur radio operators as well as the general public. It is not required but if amateur radio operators could, also email me if  you anticipate attending at: “bryan at wa3ufn dot com”. Since I initiated the planning ...

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North Western PA Tornado

Severe Weather Awareness Week started a bit early for folks in North Western PA. April 20, 2017 brought an EF0 tornado to Mathews Run in Warren County, just north west of Youngsville, PA. Fortunately there were no injuries or serious damage from the short lived tornado. Details of the tornado can ...

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SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 24 – 28, 2017

SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 24 – 28, 2017

Since the National Weather Service outline for Severe Weather Week encompasses the weather that we encounter in our area, it might just be a great idea to check the State College, NWS website (http://www.weather.gov/ctp/SevereWeatherAwarenessWeek) for some important information. The information on the web pages just happen expand on the April ...

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WIRES-X , The New Kid on the Block

This article was originally posted January 15, 2016 Just above the horizon – WIRES-X! Recently you may have heard some rather odd noises and unlikely QSOs taking place on the N3QC, 147.315 repeater. The latest update to our repeater was added January 12, 2016 when the Yaesu Wires-X Voice Over Internet ...

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Desktop Wallpaper, 4x3, on green

April 2017 Parasitic Emission

In a shocking development, Joe W3BC has finally come to his senses and put out a modest but informative edition of the Parasitic Emission newsletter. You may download it here: Parasitic Emission, Volume 43, Number 1, April 2017

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Pennsylvania Flood Safety Awareness Week

The National Weather Service Flood Safety Awareness Week Begins March 27. Considering we experience flooding in our area rather often, it is likely worth your time to check out the National Weather Service flood safety week web page at http://www.weather.gov/ctp/floodSafetyWeek The week starts out with information on the continuing effort ...

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Please Keep Fire Hydrants Clear

I know this is not directly related to amateur radio but it is directly related to neighborhood safety. It may even be directly related to your safety!

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Basic SKYWARN in Punxsutawney

National Weather Service Pittsburgh will be conducting a BASIC SKYWARN course at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center 201 N Findley St on Thursday April 27, 2017 starting at 6PM. To register, email marlene@weatherdiscovery.org This course is open to ANYONE interested in Weather. Hams are encouraged to attend. If you are a current ...

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I Have My Amateur Radio Operator License – Now What

This question often occurs with newly licensed radio amateurs, and may occur from time to time with those who have been licensed for a few years. One of your first avenues to find out an answer to a question may be your local amateur radio club. Often times there are ...

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Get Weather Ready Before A Tornado

Spring really is not too far away and with the change of seasons some rather interesting but destructive weather can occur. One of the more serious weather phenomenons we have to occasionally deal with is the tornado. While not a frequent issue, it is one that we need to be ...

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NOAA’s  National Weather Service Pages Are Changing

NOAA's National Weather Service Pages Are Changing

If there is anything true about our world it is change! The changes on the NWS pages has been moved to April, as the information states.: "Effective April 4, 2017, NWS will implement the next version of the forecast pages. Highlights will include a standardized look and feel, a mobile-ready landing ...

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Updated QCARC Net Format

Hi folks, by clicking on the Club logo below, you will find the current net format to be used for the VHF and UHF nets. This format was first used for the February 19, 2017 VHF and UHF nets and is available for download so that anyone can run the net. Running ...

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QCARC Events

  • No events.

WIRES-X , The New Kid on the Block

This article was originally posted January 15, 2016

Just above the horizon – WIRES-X! Recently you may have heard some rather odd noises and unlikely QSOs taking place on the N3QC, 147.315 repeater. The latest update to our repeater was added January 12, 2016 when the Yaesu Wires-X Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) was added. More information will follow as we decipher some of the information and operational aspects of this new mode.NodeQSLScreen2

In case you didn’t hear, one of the first QSOs was a 3,565 mile digital contact with a station in England. The English ham was traveling to his home QTH while we were heading down the road in Du Bois, after the brainstorming session of getting the WIRES-X operational. Seeing the information showing a station that was just over 3500 miles away displayed on the radio’s display was quite a surprise!

The contacts are not totally automatic, you actually have to initiate a connection with one of the many WIRES-X nodes around the world. The connection can be made with either a Yaesu FTM-400 in digital mode or, as it it setup on the 147.315 repeater, any analog FM two-meter transceiver with a DTMF keypad (otherwise know as a touch-tone pad) connected to the transceiver. The digital connection to WIRES-X on the repeater is not available as it is set for analog only so that all can use it. You need to know the node number of the location that you want to connect, enter that on the DTMF keypad and the connection should be established. The digital mode displays much more information and has much more utility as well but as mentioned the digital radio is not needed, even a hand-held 2 meter rig can activate and use the system.

This is just a brief overview of the WIRES-X system, there will be much more to come on this website and at the QCARC regular meetings. Stay tuned for some very interesting experiences with WIRES-X!

 

January 16 article addition

I expect there are more questions about WIRES-X, since the announcement at the January Club meeting. Even though I was half of the team that set it up, I still have questions. The best place to begin to learn about the operation is to go directly to the Yaesu WIRES-X web site. Toward the left top of the page you will notice several tabs to connect to information that will better describe what WIRES-X is all about. The member log-in is for registered node users, you don’t need to worry about that part.

The three main information tabs:
The “What is WIRES-X?” tab gives an overview of the system.
The “User page” tab has a very good description, with good pictorials, of the way the system operates. Keep in mind this shows a digital radio operation but it is informative for both digital and analog modes.
The “WIRES-X ID list” tab will take you to the page that lists all of the WIRES-X nodes around the world and you’ll be able to see if there are any located near a city that you may want to talk to. You can sort the lists by clicking on the header for each column: call sign, city, state, country. Keep in mind the node list changes everyday as new nodes are registered.

The 147.315, N3QC repeater WIRES-X system is operating in the analog mode so that everyone can use it.

Stay tuned for more information as it relates to the N3QC/R WIRES-X system.

 

January 21, 2016 article addition

The WIRES-X room node will be connected for the time being. This should enable any one who connects to be able to more easily to use the system. To connect to a node room at a distant location, you will need a DTMF, touch-tone pad, on your microphone or hand-held, then you will need to know the node room number, available on the Yaesu WIRES-X web site . Remember to select the WIRES-X ID list tab to view the node number list.

 

February 3, 2016 article addition

So far the WIRES-X connection has served us well. I think that one of the biggest advantages that I’ve heard is that folks who may have moved from the area may now have the opportunity to get into the local repeater and talk to others they know. This has been proven out with K3AHS, Ed who is able to get into the 147.315 repeater, from his home in Texas, to check into the Sunday net and at other times to talk to hams who are in the area that he grew up.

The local room node is still connected, no issues appear to have resulted in the full time connection. In order to connect to another node you first need to disconnect from the local room by pressing the ” * ” touch-tone pad button. Then listen for the disconnect acknowledgement of an “H” in CW (4 dots, they’re sent fast). Once you hear the “H” enter the node room number of the distant location with a leading ” # “, via the touch-tone pad, to connect then talk to hams from that area.  Remember to read up on the information contained in the above links. This is a system where skimming or guessing just will not work, you have to play by the WIRES-X rules! Remember to play by the FCC rules too and identify when connecting to the nodes.

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HY GAIN AV-620 HF multiband Vertical

Hi all!

Selling my AV-620 vertical.

This is 6 band vertical antenna, with 6-20m coverage, it’s 23 feet tall, and weight is 12 lbs.

It’s got short ground plane, and only need coax hooked up, and you are on the air.

Bandwidht 2:1 VSWR

20m 500khz

17m 500khz

15m 500khz

12m 500khz

10m 1500khz

6m 6000khz

Thinking $150 is a fair price, since it’s in very good condition.

Needs to be picked up in Clearfield though.

Can deliver localy

more info,

http://www.hy-gain.com/Product.php?productid=AV-620

73, Lars

KB3WBT

 

12 VDC Power Control

 

Many amateur radio operators have equipment operating on 12 VDC power supplies. There are times that the equipment needs to quickly switch to a 12 volt battery back-up. There is a very easy way to accomplish this without any intervention needed to switch back and forth from the AC operated power supply and the battery back-up as needed. I’ve found that the PWRgate meets the need to control a supply of 12 volt power to equipment when the AC power supply fails.
pwrgate
You’ll see in the photo that this unit has the Anderson Powerpole® connections that make connections super easy, if you have adopted Powerpoles® as your method of 12 VDC power connectors a standard. Remember that the Powerpoles® are the standard with most ARES and RACES groups across the Country to make interoperability of powering equipment easy but that’s another topic.

The latest model of the PWRgate has three output connections for the equipment that you may need to power, up to 25 amps. There is a connection for your back-up battery to charge your battery and power your equipment when the AC power supply loses its 120 VAC supply, as well as the input from an AC powered 12 VDC supply.

I can say from experience, I have one in use, this unit works as advertised. It is great to maintain 12 VDC to equipment that may otherwise lock up if the power is removed then reapplied when an orderly shutdown/restart should be done. The PWRgate is offered by an amateur radio operator, who provides fast shipping and super service if an issue may arise. You can visit the web site http://ki0bk.no-ip.com/~pwrgate/LLPG/Site/Welcome.html for more information on the PWRgate and other devices that are available.

 

New Tri-Band Baofeng on the Market

 

UV5X3The Baofeng Tri-Band hand-held hits the market! For those interested in using the 220 MHz band it is now a bit easier with the new UV-5X3, 5 Watt Tri-Band Radio: 130-179.99mhz (VHF), 222-225.99mhz (1.25M), 400-520.99mhz (UHF), it also is reported to have the FM broadcast band receiver.The new hand-held looks a lot like a UV-5 but “you can’t judge a book by its cover”.

 

The best place to go for a good review of the radio is: http://www.miklor.com/COM/Review_5X3.php

 

Yaesu FT-991 A huge step for mankind….

Hello again

It was a while ago since I wrote anything here, but now I really have something to write about!

As maybe some of you know, I took the step, and bought a new radio, the Yaesu FT-991. It is an all band all mode transceiver incl C4FM, where all the best parts from Yaesu’s more exclusive transceivers come together in a very compact sized box. Already the first day, i was struck by the radios very quite receiver and ease of use, even though it’s the first time I’ve ever used a radio with touch screen. But, if you are familiar with a smartphone or a tablet, then you feel right at home with the FT-991. Last weekend, I got to test it’s phenomenal ability to pick out stations just above the noise, even though I had 59+ signals right beside, and without earphones, it was easy to hear what the weak station said, and, to work him! This time Yaesu really hit the head on the nail! I dare to say, that nobody in this price range come even close to the FT-991! It is a radio that will fit in any Go-Box, since it’s even got a built in tuner as well as a built in audio board for digital traffic.   Yaesu FT-991FT-991 Rear Panel

I will bring the radio to the next meeting, so you all get a chance to play a little with it. I hope we get a weather like we had today, so we can put up some antennas, and make a few contacts!

See you all at the QCARC meeting!

Lars KB3WBT

PS: The Yaesu FT-991 price is now even lower, $958 after mail in rebate at RandL electronics, which is a super deal!

Powerpole® Crimp Tool Review

For many hams the go-to 12 VDC connector is the Anderson Powerpole®. I feel the same, this connector is the only one that makes sense forPP crimper convenience and durability of connection among my own radios and if the need arises other power supplies. This form of 12 VDC power connection really makes the issue of interoperability for a power source a non-issue. The connector is recognized across the Country as THE power connector to use for ARES and other public service applications.

Anyway, where this is leading is the issue with installing the connectors on the wire. It really is not difficult but there is a standard, in order to interface with the rest of the world! Amateur radio has adopted the standard that when viewed from the contact side, the mnemonic for remembering the arrangement for the positive connector is: “Red Right — Tongue Top“.
Of red powerpolecourse red is positive while black is negative. Even though there is a standard, I feel it is still a good idea to confirm the connection that your rig may be connected to is verified visually and also electrically using a volt meter or one of the LED connectors that indicate if the connectors are configured to the standard.

 

The installation of the connector contacts can be problematic if the proper crimp procedure is not used. I’ve used the crimping pliers type PP crimper diescrimp tool, until now. I finally invested in a crimp tool made for the Powerpole® connector contacts. I have to say that I should have done it sooner, no exaggeration! There are are several styles of crimpers available with the special dies for the crimp, study their operation and style then decide for yourself which one suites your needs. The version that I settled on has a feature in the tool that helps maintain the alignment of the contact while the crimp in done (see photo). My opinion is that the crimp done with the pictured tool is far superior than the crimping pliers style. Along with the quality of the crimp, there is no distortion to the contact. With no distortion there is no reforming the contact which results in a much easier insertion into the Powerpole® shell and much better contact surface for maximum conductivity.

Antique Radio Flea Market and Auction – May 3

atwaterkent206_34_

Tri-State Radio Fest
10th Annual Antique Radio Flea Market and Auction

Vintage TV, Amateur Radio, Audio & Phonograph (No Computers.)

Open to buyers from 8:30 am – 12:00 noon
-Entrance fee $5.00 
Check-in for auction items 9:00 am to 11:00 am
Auction to begin at 12:00 noon
Auctioneer: Richard Estes-www.estesAuctions.com
Raffle Prize—restored Atwater-Kent 206
Featured: Contest – Atwater-Kent radios

Center Stage Banquet Hall

1495 Old Brodhead Rd, Monaca, Pa 15061 

  • I-376 “Beaver Valley Expressway, Exit 39, Route 18 North (13 miles North of Greater Pittsburgh Airport)
  • Near the border of Pennsylvania & Ohio
  • Near the Beaver Valley Mall, food and lodging close by
  • Look for  TSRF signs leading the way

Sponsored by: 

Pittsburgh Antique Radio Society (PARS) 

The Buckeye Antique Radio and Phonograph Club  (BARPC)

For more detailed information, Visit :  www.PittAntiqueRadios.org or call :

Chris Wells          724-942-1113
Andy Manko        412-884-6194
Tom Dixon            412-343-5326

The QCARC 443.85 Repeater Is Now Dual Mode, Analog/Digital

system-fusionAs of approximately 2:00 PM, 4/8/2015 the analog only UHF repeater was replaced with a Yaesu System Fusion Analog/Digital repeater. This is the same type repeater as used for the 147.315 repeater.

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 transmission is received by the repeater. If you want to use the repeater, just talk as you have in the past. The repeater has the capability to automatically 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.

Website Update

QCARC-WebsiteI 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!

Using the Digital Repeater

(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.

Contest Results – Fall 2013

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.

Antenna Science

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!

The Radios

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!

The Operations

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.

LED’s vs grain of wheat bulbs

Everybody who has had burnt out bulbs in a radio, knows how hard it can be to replace them, so why not try to convert them to LED’s instead?

That’s exactly what I did in my old Kenwood TS-700A.

Now, if you look at the picture below, you can see that the S-meter has a very dim light, and also the two knobs down at the right (shortly after this picture was taken, those two lamps went out)

Now look at the picture at the right, quite a difference isn’t it?

LED’s found at RadioShack and also the resistors needed (1/4w 180-220 Ohms)