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:
And an 8 minute "DIY Magic of Ham Radio" video from the US national ham organization:

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."


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.


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.

Earlysville Volunteer Fire Station
283 Reas Ford Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936
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.

Sat 2013-12-13 VE License Exam 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.

Sat, December 14, 9am – 12pm
NRAO Headquarters, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22906-9999
Google Map

Note that the breakfast bunch will be gathering at Panera Bread before the VE session.

Travel Advisory: The good news is there is no football game to disrupt traffic; unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the weather forecast for saturday includes snow, ice, rain, and freezing rain starting around noon.

Hourly forecast (Charlottesville)

Annual/50th Anniversary Dinner Banquet

AARC 50th Aniversary Mug: Albemarle Amateur Radio Club Est. Nov. 1962

AARC 50th Aniversary Mug: WA4TFZ W4DO www.albemarleradio.org

The Albemarle Amateur Radio Club invites you to join the membership for the 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, December 10th. The celebration will take place at the Elks Lodge across from the entrance to Towe Park.

We plan to gather between 6 and 6:30 pm for a social with a cash bar. We will take our seats at 6:30 at which time dinner will be served. The dinner will include a Fruit and Cheese Table, Filet of Beef, Crab Cake, Country Style Green Beans, Baked Potato, House Salad, Tea or Coffee, and Cake. A vegetable plate will be available if the desire is stated in the reservation. Dinner tickets will be $25 per person pay at the door. Change is always a problem so bring the correct amount of cash or your personal check.

We will need your reservation by Friday, December 6, to make sure we have a place setting for each person and enough food for everyone. Reservations should be made by return email to deason[at]comcast[dot]net or by calling Don Eason, Jr. N4UVA at 434-973-9119.

Michael has lined up some great raffles and the food and festivities will be excellent.
Look forward to seeing everyone there and please bring exact change

Just a reminder that tonight's banquet at the Elk's Club is on! Also, the mugs are in. We are asking for a $3 donation to the repeater fund for each mug.

Microwave Mesh Networks and Services for Emergency Communications

Many of us took note of the article in the July 2013 QST about the HSMM-MESH (now Broadband-Hamnet, broadband-hamnet.org) mesh network and its use by a group of Austin Amateur Radio Club hams in support of a major public service event. Having already decided that I was seriously interested in EmComm, I immediately started thinking about what we could do with this technology here in Central Virginia. I began the process of designing a microwave mesh network for ARES/RACES in Virginia District 3. There are two parallel efforts underway: design of the network itself; and experimenting with possible services that we might like to run on a dedicated amateur radio intranet. If you are intrigued, please check out the developing Web pages on my personal site, kq9p.us under the "EmComm" tab. There are lots of opportunities to get involved...

Friday 2013-11-22: Ham Radio on TV: Last Man Standing

Picture of Tim Allen's character and child at ham station
Last Man Standing Website (ABC)

Photo Credit: show via eham.net (John Amodeo) ,
American Radio Supply, and KK4SHO.
©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
fair use.

Tim Allen's character on the show Last Man Standing will work the 20m band and generate a pileup using audio recorded by real hams then videolog about ham radio.

If you can't catch it during the original air time, the episode should also be available online at the show's website for 1 week only, on Hulu (free) for about 5 weeks, and on Hulu+ (paid service) for the duration of the current season. Season 3, up to the current episode, is on Hulu+ and seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix streaming (paid service).

WA4TFZ 146.760Mhz & 444.000Mhz Repeaters Down for maintenance

Repeater rack photo
stock photo of 146.760 repeater from prior trip

Bill Pond N0WP and Dave Damon K4DND have temporarily removed the entire 146.760 repeater (other than antenna/tower) from the mountain top for maintenance. The repeater will be down for a week or two. Dave's 146.730Mhz repeater, which has similar coverage area, can be used instead; this repeater will be disconnected from the IRLP East Coast reflector during maintenance. The 444.000 repeater will also be down during this time as it is in the same rack which was removed from the mountain.

Remote Operations During the Great ShakeOut

On Thursday, 17 October 2013, I conducted two remote operations. Lots of folks have asked about the technology and configuration, so here’s how it happened.

My Shack Setup With Rig, Interface, and Webcam
My home shack includes a Windows 7 computer, an Icom IC-706MkIIG HF/VHF/UHF transceiver, and a ZLP DigiMaster Pro3 soundcard/rig control interface. For what I did on Thursday full rig control isn’t necessary. You need the ability for your computer to put audio into and take it out of your rig, and the ability for your computer to control the push-to-talk (PTT). Most any soundcard interface and PTT control that you would normally use for digital mode operation should work for remote operation. I also had a Webcam connected to my computer and pointed at my rig and interface so I could see the displays and blinky lights, but that is not absolutely necessary.

Apple Harvest Boy Scout Camporee - Saturday 2013-10-12

Apple harvest camporee logo

Ham volunteers needed for the Scout Camporee. This is located in Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna County. This park is a work in progress and may not appear on maps, gps, or online services. It appears to be located off 53 between the Fluvanna County High School and the Fluvanna County Library. Apple Harvest Boy Scout Camporee Facebook Page. There is also the Apple Harvest Trail 5k Run, not to be confused with the other 5k run in Belmont area that morning, which will affect vehicle access to the site in the morning.

Latitude/Longitude coordinates: geo:37.874722,-78.290278
Google maps

Ed Murphy writes:

The Camporee will be on October 11-13, 2013 at the Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna County (see directions below). The Scouts will be camping on Friday and Saturday evenings, and we are expecting 600-800 Scouts. We are planning a day of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities for the Scouts all day on Saturday, October 12.

We would like to arrange for a demonstration of amateur radio from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 12. Scout patrols will show up at the demonstration site throughout the day, usually one patrol of 4-8 boys at a time. If possible, we would like each group to offer some kind
of competition for the Scouts to help us select the winning patrol at the end of the Camporee. The Camporee will run rain or shine. Please let me know if you need power and/or shelter.

Charlottesville Maker Faire Sat 2012-10-12

Maker Faire Poster
AARC has been invited to set up a table at Charlottesville's first Maker Faire, an event for people who like to build things. Saturday 2012-10-12 from 10am to 4pm at Monticello High School, 1400 Independence Way, Charlottesville, VA 22902, geo: 37.998545,-78.48949 (Firefox plugin for geo URLs) (Google Maps).

KQ9P is organizing our participation. W4MBW and AK4OL will also be there.


Also happening that same day:
- The scout camporee, at which AARC has been invited to set up a station from 9:30AM to 4PM. Contact K4DU.
- Safety day at Sears/Fashion Square mall. 10AM-4PM. CERT and the 911 EOC will be participating. And the Albemarle county fire department will be offering Fire Extinguisher training.
- AARC every other week breakfast. 7AM-10AM. This happens earlier in the day than the other events.
- Clark 5k fun run. AARC is not participating in this event but CERT members, especially traffic team members, have been asked to help. 7AM-9:30AM. Note that this is close to the Maker Faire and may affect traffic. This race is north of I-64 and the Maker Faire is south. But you might want to avoid avon street route to Monticello High School and take route 20 instead.
- There is another 5k race that will apparently obstruct vehicle access to the camporee from 7AM-9:30AM. This is the apple harvest trail run and is organized by the scouts. http://www.bsa-sjac.org/trailrun
- The Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival 10AM-5PM at Rebec vineyards in Amherst. This runs both
Saturday and Sunday.
- Crozet Arts and Crafts Festical, Saturday and Sunday.
- The only saturday in October with no UVA home game traffic.

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