May 9 Meeting
Meeting Time: 7:30 PM
Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Rd,
Highland Park, IL 60035
—Erich Grauke, KC9WRB and Marv Michnik, N9SXS
—Dave Hewitt, WW9S
—Greg Karlove, W9GAK
This month’s meeting at the Heller Nature Center will feature Erick, KC9WRB and Marv, N9SXS making a timely presentation on Skywarn and Emergency Preparedness. The reason for Skywarn is that it 1) Allows only severe reports to reach the NWS since irrelevant reports are filtered at the local repeater level , 2) Deloads the Liaison Repeater leaving the frequency more open for storm reports from local repeaters, and 3) Allows the NWS to listen to one frequency instead of 20 regional nets.
So come to the meeting to learn about how you can contribute to Skywarn in our area.
Next, Dave, WW9S will present WSPRite. Have you ever wondered how well your antenna works? WSPRlite with DXplorer will tell you…
The WSPRlite is a special test transmitter that sends a signal to a Worldwide network of receiving stations. When used with our web-based DXplorer system, it’s a powerful new way to evaluate antenna performance. Going way beyond antenna modelling or antenna analyzers, this unique system allows you to see how your antenna is performing in its actual location and in real-time! This type of analysis has never been possible before.
- antenna performance testing (great for contesters)
- compare antennas
- compare locations
- test beam antennas
- spot openings when you are out of the shack
The CBA is capable of higher test rates than other testers: up to 40 A or 150 W, which ever is higher. It not only tests the total amount of energy stored in a battery (capacity in amp-hours), but it graphically displays and charts voltage versus amp-hours.
Unlike a resistor load, it has an electronic constant current load that is controlled both with software and electronics. Constant power tests may be done with the Extended Software.
We think that you will find the CBA a useful and essential tool for anyone that depends on batteries in critical applications. You will learn new and valuable information about your batteries that cannot be determined any other way. Using batteries without a CBA is like driving a car without a gas gauge. So, stay tuned for an informative presentation.
|June 13 Field Day Prep + RTTY|
147.345 Repeater Now System Fusion
November 30, 2016
Late this afternoon our Technical Committee installed a Yaesu System Fusion repeater at our Northbrook site, replacing the analog repeater we’ve had there for several years.
Yaesu System Fusion is the latest entry into the field of digital voice used by ham radio operators. Similar to D-Star, Fusion was designed specifically for ham use, unlike some of the commercial systems (P-25, DMR, NXDN) that have been adapted for ham use. What is unique about System Fusion is that it supports both analog and digital use as well as the ability to connect to “rooms”, which are similar to D-Star reflectors or DMR talk groups.
The new repeater will be on our same frequency of 147.345 MHz. In the analog mode, it will continue to use the same PL of 107.2 Hz.
What does this mean to you? If you are an analog only user, the only change we are recommending is that you activate Tone Squelch (PL receive - 107.2 Hz) on your radio. This way, when the repeater is operating in digital mode, your squelch won’t open up and you won’t hear the distinctive “white noise” of digital modulation. Also, when getting ready to key the mike and transmit, look at your radio to be sure the frequency is clear. Another thing to note is that with your radio in PL receive, you may not hear a courtesy beep, so please be sure to leave space between transmissions so a breaking station can get in.
If you are a System Fusion digital user – The repeater will operate in Automatic Mode Select (AMS). What this means is that it will retransmit whatever it hears. So if you transmit FM, it will repeat FM. If you transmit narrow digital (DN), it will transmit narrow digital. And, if you transmit wide digital (VW) it will retransmit the same. Since you will be sharing the repeater with analog users, we ask that you please use AMS receive at all times (that’s FM, DN or VW with a horizontal line above it in your display). This way you will hear FM users.
What about SkyWarn? Since the repeater always has priority for emergency and SkyWarn traffic, all users must yield to emergency traffic. Digital users must be aware that during times of potentially threatening weather, analog users may break in and need to use the repeater. That’s why we ask you to operate in AMS receive mode.
What about Internet linking? At this time we do not have an Internet connection at the site, so our short term plan is to use an RF link from a member’s home QTH to allow access to the Internet and Wires-X “rooms”, which are similar to D-Star Reflectors or DMR Talk Groups. In the startup period, our plan is to not have unattended full time connections to Wires-X rooms. The reason is that if the repeater is connected to a busy room and no one can execute a disconnect, analog users might not be able to access the repeater in an emergency. So for now, we ask that if you connect the repeater to a Wires-X room, please disconnect when you leave so that the repeater is truly open and available for both analog and digital users.
What if we have problems? We understand the migration from an analog-only system to a digital system can create unintended consequences. The North Shore Radio Club has nearly 200 members, the majority of whom are analog only users. While the number of digital users grows rapidly every month, we have carefully considered our implementation so that members are not negatively impacted. One of the reasons we are excited about activating digital on the 2 meter band (virtually all of the digital systems of all flavors in the Chicago area are on the 70 cm band) is that the cost barrier to entry on Fusion is much lower. While a dual band Fusion rig can cost between $300 to over $500, the 2 meter-only Yaesu FTM-3200DR is only $149 at HRO. As a result, more hams can “dip their toes” into digital waters. So to answer the question, if we find we are having problems, we can certainly alter the “rules of engagement” to allow as many people to enjoy the advantages of digital while maintaining a viable analog system.
What if I don’t want anything to do with digital? As we mentioned earlier, if you place your rig in PL receive, you will not hear any digital. Also remember we have a 220 MHz repeater on the very same site as our 2 meter repeater, with very similar coverage. And also understand that we have no plans at this time to convert our 442.725 MHz flagship repeater to digital. We have consciously decided to keep our widest coverage repeater an FM only machine.
What about D-Star? There are no changes to our three D-Star systems (70 cm voice, 1.2 GHz voice & 1.2 GHz data). We are committed to maintaining our D-Star presence in Chicago, since it was our first digital operation nearly ten years ago. D-Star still has more users worldwide than any of the other digital modes, and will continue to be popular for the foreseeable future.
So, in summary, we are excited to be adding this new technology to our fleet of repeater assets. We are mindful and respectful that hams have a variety of interests and are proud to make so many VHF/UHF voice options available to our membership. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact any Board member. And thank you again for your continued support of the North Shore Radio Club.
Field Day 2017 will again be at the Grove Cultural Center in Lake Forest, 100 E Old Mill Rd.
NSRC 2016 Field Day
Field Day 2016 was a lot of fun - many new faces, lots of Scouts and other youngsters trying out ham radio in the GOTA tent, and many dedicated operators filling the chairs throughout the 24 hours. While propagation was not the best, with very little to be had on 15m and up, we managed to produce 12,058 points in class 3A. Down a bit from last year, but sunspots were not in abundance FD weekend.
*** NSRC finished 23rd overall , #1 in Illinois, and 3rd in class 3A. Well done, everyone, for a top 1% effort! ***
Thanks to all for your help and participation, especially in helping us score those bonus points!
NSRC at Dayton 2016
The usual suspects and a few first-timers.
Amateur Radio - A 21st Century Hobby
An excellent introduction to ham radio has been developed by the RSGB and is available on YouTube here. We encourage you to share the link.
Introducing Boy Scouts to Ham Radio
We have set up a small station at the Boy Scout camp for the Northeast Illinois Council, called Makajawan. When I was up to visit last week, there were 23 scouts taking the Radio merit badge! The station consists of an Icom 7200, donated to the program by Icom as a loaner for the season. We also have a Yeasu 757GX, an older radio but which seems fairly reliable, and an Alinco VHF station with two Baofeng HT radios.
The boys have been having fun with the VHF radios running around camp doing search and rescue drills. The Icom radio is working very well both as a PSK demo and as an HF voice station. This is connected to a 20/40 meter trap dipole. The Icom works brilliantly with Ham Radio Deluxe, so you have complete control of the rig from a laptop interface. That was really a great deal of fun to work with. Greg Karlove W9GAK helped me set up the station and the interface earlier this summer. We both got more ticks than radio contacts! The Yaesu was not working very well at all, so I did some antenna repair work and got it to hear better, but I have little confidence that it will last the summer with the antenna we provided. The balun had a dead short!
I was surprised to see that there are no AM radio stations to be heard during the day, we are that far north…plus that says more about the state of AM radio! There have been hams stopping by the station every week to help the boys get on the air, and frankly, this might be the weakest link. We need to find a way to make the station available to the boys at night. Also, this set up is currently only on East camp, which has about 300 scouts. There is another camp across the lake that does not have a station at all.
Based on what I have seen, I am very encouraged by the participation and interest. There is plenty of opportunity for us to do more. Next year, I am hoping I can spend more time at camp and help generate more interest in this activity.