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Club Meeting: January 12th

Shortwave Goes A Long Way

 

It’s probably happened to you:  Tuning across the AM dial in the night and you hear stations from all over the country.  In fact, 50,000 watt powerhouse KMOX-AM created fans of the St. Louis Cardinals in Texas and in many states.  How is that possible?  The answer is skip.

 The radio signal literally skips or bounces off a layer of the atmosphere above our heads.  That boundary is called the Ionosphere.  Today we are used to seeing any event we like on cable or satellite.  But 50 years ago, skip was the only way to hear live out-of-town sports.

 As late as 1970 Van Patrick, the sports director of the Mutual Broadcasting System used to come into his office well after midnight in Detroit and tune in Chicago, St. Louis and other radio stations to get the latest scores.  Listening live was much faster than waiting for the wire services.

 But those days are gone.  Or are they?  Skip, that bounce is still there. Who could or would use that?  Ham radio does.

 At the next meeting of the Cedar Creek Amateur (ham) Radio Club Joe Clark, N5HDX, will demonstrate how to build a shortwave antenna.  It is amazingly simple.  It will exploit the skip and provide consistent long-range communications.

 The meeting will be held on Saturday, January 12th at the Mabank Café on Hwy 198 in Mabank.  The meeting starts at 9 AM, but many visitors and members come around 8 AM for the great buffet they offer.  Anyone interested in technology is welcome.

The Cedar Creek ARC has over forty members from the tri-county area. It maintains a VHF and UHF repeater system that provides hand-held radio coverage to hams in the lake area, and mobile and base coverage throughout the three counties. CCARC participates in the National Weather Service SKYWARN program and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. The club also provides guidance and information to those wishing to join the ranks of Amateur “ham” Radio. There no longer is a requirement or test for Morse code.

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Lunches for January Returns to 75147
That would be Mabank and specifically the Mabank Café on Hwy 198.  Bring a friend, a neighbor, a complete stranger because we are going to have fun! Trivia like you’ve never heard before.  Okay, you probably have, but on the bright side, you won’t remember.
As always they expect us 11:30.  So, you know, February takes us back to GBC  and Denny’s.

FIELD DAY 2017

Field Day Is A Record Setter

  

The last full weekend of June every year is called Field Day for ham radio operators around the world.  It is a challenge to individuals and groups to get outside of their own ham shacks and demonstrate that they can operate their equipment for 24 continuous hours.  And do it on emergency power and contact as many other stations as possible.

 That challenge was answered by the Cedar Creek Amateur Radio Club.  Their operation at their new club station at the Gun Barrel City Fire Department was a way of testing the equipment and antennas and people.

 And it was a record setter for the club.  They exchanged simulated emergency information with over 200 stations worldwide.  Field Day coordinator Dave Randall said, “The opportunity to test our equipment and our operators at our new home was a great combination.”

The weekend was also used to introduce visitors and members alike to “fox hunting.”  The fox is a hidden transmitter.  Using antennas built at the fire station, groups drove off trying to track down the location of the signal.  This can be a difficult exercise and though the secret transmitter was located in Tool, some folks weren’t so successful.

 Member Jeff Irion’s group couldn’t find it.  Irion said, “We thought we were close around Tamarack, but we were on the wrong side of the lake!”

 It all made for a great learning weekend and presents a challenge to be even better next year.

 

Field Day: Club members and visitors gather at the Gun Barrel City Fire Station for  24 hours of continuous operations.

Building: Old and new members learned how to build a portable antenna to be used for “fox hunting”.

Trailer:  To show support Southern Baptist of Texas Convention Disaster Relief set up their communications trailer.

 

All photos credit: Bob Doss, KG5EUX.

 

Assembly of the HF Antenna

Lifting the Antenna to the Roof

Tex and the Fire Chief

Long Wire Installation


 The club has connected our 444.050 MHz repeater to the Yaesu Wires-X system.

 It allows our repeater to connect with other repeaters and stations around the block or around the world.  The terminology they use is nodes and rooms.  But they really are repeaters and stations.

 So how do you know where and what to connect to?  You need to bookmark the following website:

 https://www.yaesu.com/jp/en/wires-x/id/active_room.php

 There you will see a list of thousands of “rooms” or stations that are currently connected and available.  Here is a sample of what the list looks like…

 

 

On the far left is some information about the room choices.  The next column is the most important.  This 5 digit number is your key to connecting to that station (or room).

 But equally important is the next column that’s called ACT.  That is the activity or how many people are currently connected or using the room.  If it is all zeros, nobody is listening and it would make no sense to try to connect to that room.  But look at the bottom two rooms, lots of people are active there.  That would be your best bet to find someone to talk to.

 You must remember you are on ham radio when using this system so you must use your call and be courteous and allow other people to talk too.  You may connect to a room and hear nothing or a conversation underway.  Listen for a moment to make sure you are not cutting in on an existing contact.  This system replaces short-wave skip with an Internet connection.

 So now you have checked the list and have a room you want to connect to.  First, listen to our repeater and then put out your call and ask is anyone using the repeater?  There may be a lull in a conversation and some club member may already be connected to a room.  So you must listen before trying to connect.  The simplest method is to monitor the repeater a while before you want to use it.

 If all is clear, have that 5 digit room number ready, announce your call and keep the push-to-talk button pushed and tap on your keypad the pound sign followed by the 5 digit room number.  That’s it.  Do not let up on the push-to-talk while doing this sequence.

 It would look like:        (your call) #12345

 Do it smoothly, maybe practice off the air so you can do it confidently.

When you connect you might hear nothing or a conversation underway.  There is no confirmation from the system that you have successfully connected to the room.  So listen before putting out your call.

 HOW DO I DISCONNECT?  This is most important, announce your call and on your keypad press the asterisk or the star sign once.  You will hear a series of beeps that confirm you have disconnected and the repeater is back to local operation.

 This system is NOT available on Sunday mornings, Thursdays at 7 PM or any time emergency communications are needed.

 All this is a work in progress so please understand some things might change.  For now limit your session on the Wires-X system to one half hour at a time and then standby to let other people use it.

 Remember you are representing yourself, our area and our club to the world.

 Of course the primary use of the repeater remains the same, for local communications.

 But at other times…have fun and talk to the world!

Who is that ham in the red shirt??

D-Star, Fusion and DMR

Say that again, we can link  to digital repeaters all over the world with our hand held radios!!