ViewRF RTL-SDR Dongle Spectrum Analyzer

I've successfully built Stephen Ong's ViewRF RTL-SDR Spectrum Analyzer. If you are interested in cool things that you can do with these little devices check out Stephen's YouTube demo and my project page.

73, Mike KQ9P

Dayton Hamvention

The Dayton Hamvention, the largest hamfest in North America is coming Friday 2014-05-16 through Sunday 2014-05-18. Although it is 7 hours away, a number of AARC members will be attending.

Dayton Hamvention banner

Website: http://www.hamvention.org/

Add this specific event to your calendar: Add to Google Calendar

Note that there are one or more hamfests listed on the club calendar in Virginia or neighbouring states almost every weekend for the next 3 months, except for field day and independence day. Of particular note are Manassas (2014-06-08) and Berryville (2014-08-03). The Roanoke hamfest is also the day before Berryville, and the sponsoring group has reached out to our group to encourage attendance (they schedule it when they do for the convenience of vendors, though it is inconvenient for attendees). Also, the Virginia Beach Hamfest is 2014-09-14 and the Mid-Atlantic States VHF conference (PackratVHF) is a 3 day event in PA starting 2014-09-26.

Kicksat launch this Friday 2014-04-18 or Sat 2014-04-19

UPDATE: Kicksat has successfully launched.
Sprites will be deployed around 2014-05-04 15:45 EDT.
Kicksat orbit is predicted to decay around 2014-05-14.
Frequencies: https://github.com/zacinaction/kicksat/wiki/Radio-Info

Technical difficulties aside, there is a 40% chance weather will permit kicksat to launch Friday and a 36% chance it will launch saturday for a total probablity of 76%.

Day Chance Weather OK chance launch
Friday 2014-04-18 03:25PM EDT 40% 40%
Saturday 2014-04-19 03:02PM EDT 60% 36%
Postponed n/a 24%

The probability of launch on saturday is lower than that on friday, even though the weather is more likely to permit launch; this reflects the possibility that it may have already launched on friday.

Earlysville Volunteer Fire Department Fundraising Barbecue, Saturday 2014-05-03

Picture of front of Earlysville Volunteer Fire Department with 4 emergency vehicles emerging from bays

Bob Pattison, K4DU, writes:

For quite some time now the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) has supported the Albemarle Amateur Radio Club (AARC) by hosting our annual Field Day station. At the most recent AARC meeting it was suggested that we, the members of the AARC, should support the EVFD by attending their Spring Barbecue. At that time we did not have the date and time. Today I received information about the event in the mail. I share it now with you.

Kicksat launch scheduled for tomorrow. SCRUBBED

"Our launch is officially on for tomorrow (April 14th) at 4:59 PM EDT. "
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zacinaction/kicksat-your-personal-s...
Kiscksat (the cubesat) should be transmitting tomorrow evening.
Sprites will be deployed 16 days later.

There is also a lunar eclipse late monday night, early morning (roughly 1AM-5PM) Weather conditions: partly cloudy (wunderground hourly forecast).

UPDATE: Rocket was on the pad but launch was scrubbed due to helium leak. Next launch opportunity is the 18th.

9-10 August 2014 AARC Camp Albemarle Activation, Civilian Conservation Corps On-The-Air Weekend

CCC Logo
Dirk KG8JK in Petosky, Michigan, is organizing the first of what he hopes will be an annual Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) On-The-Air Weekend on 9-10 August 2014. More information about his effort is available at Dirk's event Web site and in the ARRL news item on the topic.

For details about the AARC/Camp Albemarle operation, see the main article (below).

Read more below the fold.

Tue 2014-04-24 Skywarn class

Skywarn logo

There will be a skywarn class in Charlottesville on Tue 2014-04-24 from 6-9PM in the City Council Chambers. This class will teach you how to spot and report severe weather events to the National Weather Service, which relies on a nationwide network of Skywarn weather spotters. Many skywarn spotters are ham radio operators and skywarn nets are organized to relay skywarn reports when phone service is down. Last local class was 2 years ago (apparently 10 years ago in the valley); otherwise, area hams and other interested people need to drive to Dulles/Sterling to take classes. After you take the class, in person, you will be issued a skywarn spotter id.

This class is open to the public; You do not need to be a ham, to take this class.
please RSVP through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GQQ7DV3

Skywarn is supported by AARC, the ARRL, Charlottesville CERT, TJMRC, etc.

About Skywarn: http://skywarn.org/about/

Many AARC members are skywarn spotters.

The Charlottesville/Albemarle area, and surrounding counties, get severe thunderstorms, microbursts, derechos, tornados, hurricanes, snowstorms, blizzards, sleet, hail, freezing rain, torrential rains, flooding, flash floods, and mudslides. The majority of deaths from Hurricane Camille where in adjacent Nelson County.

Due to the seating configuration (no tables), you might want to bring a clipboard.

AARC April 2014 Monthly Meeting: Contesting (Updated with slides)

The AARC monthly meeting will be held at 7:30PM, Tuesday 2014-04-08. Ed Berkowitz N3US will give a presentation on Contesting. The public is welcome to attend. The board meeting is in the same location at 7PM.

Click this button to add to your google calendar:

Meeting Location: NRAO Auditorium, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA.
Lat/Long: geo:38.036817,-78.518115
google map

Ham Radio License Class (Beginners: FCC Technician License)

ARRL Technicial License Study Manual cover image

The Albemarle Amateur Radio Club will kick-off a Technician Class (the entry level license) on Saturday, April 19, at 9 a.m. in the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville. This will be a self-study class requiring the American Radio Relay League Ham Radio License Manual textbook at a cost of $29.95 ordered from www.arrl.org The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual will guide you as you get started in the hobby–as you select your equipment, set-up your first station and make your first contact. You will use this book to study for your license exam. Every page presents information you will need to pass the exam and become an effective operator. The class is free and you will be guided by a team of instructor/counselors. The course will end with the FCC Examination on Saturday, June 28, at the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Department at 9 a.m. For registration and/or information, please reply by email to: jecrosby[at]comcast[dot]net

What is ham radio and why would you want to get a ham license and get involved in this exciting hobby? Here is an 11 minute introductory video made by a Canadian club:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMWn5HkFPnU
And an 8 minute "DIY Magic of Ham Radio" video from the US national ham organization:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlDwVhx7miQ

More details below the fold.

Jefferson Cup Road Race 2014

Sun Mar 30, 2014
Arrive at 7:30AM, safety meeting at 8:15AM; drivers must attend.

Homepage: none
Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/us/charlottesville-va/jeff-cup-loop-route-1547968
Registration: https://www.bikereg.com/22430
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JeffersonCupRoadRace
Start location:
Leslie H Walton Middle School
4217 Red Hill Road Charlottesville, VA 22903-7922
+37° 55' 15.58", -78° 33' 8.78
geo:37.920994,-78.552439 (calculated from above coordinates)
geo:37.921495,-78.551065 (from google map link on bikereg)
UTM: 715135.8128E 4199874.193N Zone 17

Prepare for rain. Weather forecast as of this writing means rain is likely all morning and possibly into afternoon. At these temperatures, being wet carries a risk of hypothermia!

Kicksat Launch Sunday 2014-03-16 04:41EDT POSTPONED

Image of front and back of kicksat sprite PCB
UPDATE: Postponed, possibly to somewhere between March 30th and April 2nd.
"KickSat is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 16, 2014 at 4:41 AM. To check the latest date, look for 'SpaceX CRS 3' on SpaceFlight Now. I believe the launch will be televised on NASA TV, which you can see both on cable/satellite TV in the U.S. and online."

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zacinaction/kicksat-your-personal-s...

AARC is running a ground station for this project. Contact K4IB or AK4OL to participate.

2014 VA QSO Party, March 15 and 16.

random map of prior VA QSO party results
The 2014 VA QSO party is this weekend, Saturday March 15, 10 AM - 10 PM and Sunday 8 AM - 8 PM Virginia local time. This is a contest/operating event "to promote amateur radio activity in the 95 Virginia Counties and 38 Virginia Independent Cities". At least on station of each QSO must be in VA; VA stations can work stations anywhere out of state stations can only work VA stations. Virginia Mobile/Expedition stations get a 100 point bonus for each Virginia County/Independent City from which they log a valid QSO. Multipliers are the total number of Virginia counties, Virginia Independent cities, U. S. States (except Virginia), Canadian Provinces, and DX entities. HF (No WARC bands), VHF, and UHF.

http://www.qsl.net/sterling/VA_QSO_Party/2014_VQP/2014_VQP_Main.html

2014-03-29 Ham Radio License Test (VE Session)

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Patch

AARC will be holding its quarterly VE (Volunteer Examiner) session where people can take exams to obtain or upgrade an Amateur Radio (ham radio) license, adminstered for the FCC by our ARRL accredited Volunteer Examineers (VEs). Your exam will be graded on the spot.
http://www.arrl.org/exam_sessions/earlysville-va-22936-9999-2

Earlysville Volunteer Fire Station
283 Reas Ford Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
http://www.earlysvillefire.org/
https://maps.google.com/?f=q&daddr=283+Reas+Ford+Rd+Earlysville+VA+22936+US
Latitude: 38.144678 Longitude: -78.491183. Maidenhead Grid Locator: FM08SD14BR

Add to your google calendar: google calendar button

Tue 2014-03-11 March AARC meeting

Jim Wilson, K4BAV, will give a talk about telegraphy.
Meeting is at 7:30PM. Board meeting a half hour earlier.

Meeting Location: NRAO Auditorium, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA.
Lat/Long: geo:38.036817,-78.518115
google map

Special Edition of The Beacon now posted under "Beacon Newsletter" to the left.

The Beacon was posted late waiting for the minutes of the February meeting. The minutes came in just after posting the newsletter without them. The president asked that the minutes be posted in a special edition of the newsletter. That has been done and can be found in a file "201403 Special" next to the regular edition.

2014-02-23 Hamfest: Vienna Winterfest

Winterfest Logo
The 2014 Vienna Wireless Society Winterfest is on Sunday, February 23 in Vienna, VA (Northern VA) at the gymasium of the NVCC Annandale Campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003.‎
geo:38.833216,-77.236872 (Google Maps)
Talkin: 146.91Mhz NV4FM Northern VA FM Association Tysons Corner Repeater. -0.600Mhz, no tone.

Website: http://www.viennawireless.org/winterfest.php

February Meeting Tues 2014-02-11 -ARES

Mike McPherson, KQ9P, will be doing a presentation on ARES/RACES.

Meeting will be at NRAO but I believe it will be in a different room than usual as another group will be using the auditorium.

Meeting Location: NRAO Auditorium, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA.
Lat/Long: 38.036817, -78.518115
google map.

Hamfest Saturday 2014-02-01: Richmond Frostfest

frostfest logo

Frostfest will be on Saturday, February 1, 2014, from 8:30AM-3:30PM at the Richmond Raceway complex.

Details, directions, website links, floorplan, and video below the fold.

January meeting

Annual meeting at NRAO 7:30PM Tue Jan 14. Election of officers for 2014.

Update: Bill Arnold K4IB and Mike McPherson KQ9P gave a presentation on the Kicksat project which launches on February 22.

Surplus Pan/Tilt mount as Azimuth/Elevation Rotator and satellite tracker.

Picture of Pelco Pan/Tilt Mount with cover removed.  Small Version.  Front Side.  Visible items include two slow-syn synchornous AC motors in NEMA23 mount and two worm gear sets for vertical and horizontal rotation.

No, that isn't a picture of a cute little robot. Or is it? It is a robot for moving your antenna but in a previous life it was a weatherproof mount for moving large expensive closed circuit TV cameras at secure facilities. With the cover removed, the motors look like eyes. Seller had 25 available and at least 11 have been sold but some are still available. New, it cost about $1000 or in the same price range as a Ham Alt/Az rotator but these are available surplus and in this case we have an unusually low price of $30 $39 on a Pelco, let alone one with the rare feedback pots, plus a reasonable price on shipping. I have purchased one and another club member has followed suit and a couple more plan to do so.

While these aren't quite as good for amateur use as a proper az-el rotator, at least for large antennas, you will probably never get a deal anywhere near this sweet on one of those.

This article will describe these mounts in more detail and will also discuss how antenna rotators in general work, balancing and wind loading issues, and the history of stepper motors.

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