Know Your GPS

Garmin Nuvi 255W GPS
Garmin Nuvi 255W GPS
Photo: AK4OL, CC-BY-3.0-US

Do you know how to get coordinates in and out of your GPS? As staggering as this is, given that latitude and longitude are the fundamental units a GPS works with, many older car GPS units don't let you enter or retrieve these coordinates. And even when they do, some users don't know how to use these features. A GPS is an important tool at a public service event or emergency response.

At a recent public service event, we had a rest stop at a location that baffles many GPS, google earth, google maps, etc. First, the White Hall Community Center is not known to these systems. Worse, many GPS units have trouble finding the intersection of two roads; even though they have a mode for this, in the map data itself the streets don't always register as intersecting. Garmin GPS doesn't find Wyant's Store across the street and google earth/maps have this store in a completely wrong location (though unlike the GPS, they can locate the intersection by road numbers). So, this is just one example of when you need to use coordinates.

Makerspace preview at McIntire Plaza Fall Festival and Open House

Sketchup 3D model Image of future makerspace
Preliminary sketchup model of future makerspace.
Photo: Michael Asaro and Google

The local maker group organizer is taking possession of the rental property to be used for his woodworking business and the future local makerspace (Community Shop) on Nov 1. The shopping center which houses this happens to be having an open house from 2PM to 6PM this saturday 2013-09-14 and the Maker Group will have a table set out.

Sat 2013-09-14 Breakfast: Panera bread

Image of Hot Air Baloon over Panera Bread
Hot Air Balloon over Panera
During AARC Breakfast Gathering
Click to enlarge
Photo Credit: Mark Whitis AK4OL
License: CC-BY-3.0US

Mike Gilmore K8RVR writes:

Coffee and Danish sound good to you?

This is a reminder for those not going to the VA Beach Hamfest, this Saturday is our bi-weekly breakfast gathering. If your participating in the VE session at the NRAO, stop by on your way. We'll be starting around 7:00 AM. We'll be talking about the upcoming Fox Hunt on the 28th, Sprites in Space, and anything YOU want to talk about. Bring whatever project you are working on to show off.

This week, we will again be at the Panera Bread at Barracks Rd.

We look forward to seeing you there...

Also Saturday:
AARC VE Session
VA Beach Hamfest
McIntire Plaza, around c'ville coffee, 2PM-4PM, has a open house event and the local Maker group
which is opening a community shop soon will have a table there.
On Sunday:
Boys And Girls Club Cycling Challenge (AARC Public Service Event).

Saturday.2013-09-14: Virginia Beach Hamfest/ARRL Roanoke Divisin Convention.

We have a VE session and breakfast on saturday and a public service event on sunday, but saturday is also the VA Beach Hamfest, also known as the ARRL Roanoke Division Convention, SEPTEMBER 14, 2013 9AM-4PM.

AARC Digital Net Survey (Results!)

The results are in!

Question 1

KickSat Sprite Satellite Ground Station Project Gets Off the Ground (sorry about that...)

There is a lot of action on the Club's KickSat Sprite ground station project. In the late spring of this year, Bill K4IB, proposed that we establish one of the network of ground stations to support the launch of Cornell graduate student Zac Manchester's constellation of femtosatellites, named “Sprites” by Zac and colleagues. The Sprites, now scheduled for deployment in January 2014, will travel into near earth orbit in association with a SpaceX replenishment mission to the International Space Station. A group of Club members has formed around this project. (For more detailed KickSat Sprite information see the KickStarter and GitHub sites.)

Propagation Maps (Updated)

Combined map with BGCCC 2013, Gran Fondo Virginia 2013, Miller School Road Race 2013, MS150 Tour de Vine (multiple years), Jefferson cup (multiple years) race/ride routes, local repeaters, 7.5minute quadrangle grid, and line of sight (LOS) propagation overlay for 146.760, 146.925, and 146.895 repeaters. Created by AK4OL.
Propagation map with bike routes

(sticky) Sunday 2013-09-08 Public Service Event: Gran Fondo Virginia Bike Ride

Gran Fondo Virginia Logo
Image from web site

Volunteers Needed! Contact Joe Flamini W4BXG.

We have sketchy last minute info that our help is needed for an unnamed bike race on sunday:

On another note, Kenneth Kang just e-mailed me informing me of another (new) bike race that he needs comms for. This one is next week (!), on Sunday the 8th. The race benefits an environmental non-profit. Race begins & ends at Walnut Creek Park; races are from 9:30 to 5:30. Looks like four people would do it.

From the sketchy details provided, this appears to be the first ever Gran Fondo Virginia Bike Ride. Not to be confused with a couple other "Gran Fondo" events that take place in Virginia. And the non-profit mentioned would be Better World Betty. Walnut Creek Park is off Old Lynchburg Road near North Garden, VA a bit north of Plank Road and a bit south of Red Hill Road.

Note that the ride actually starts at 9:30AM; hams should try to be be there earlier. Registration is from 7:30 to 9:15 AM.

Additional details I have been able to uncover are below the fold, including route maps and propagation forecasts.

Topo maps for upcoming public service events

reduced resolution topo map of Crozet, VA 7.5minute quadrangle
Crozet quadrangle

The following 7.5minute quadrangles cover the routes for the BGCCC, Gran Fondo Virginia, and Miller School Bike Race: Swift Run Gap, Stanardsville, Browns Cove, Free Union, Earlysville, Waynesboro East, Crozet, Greenfield, Covesville, Alberene, Schuyler, Esmont, and Howardsville. Charlottesville West, Charlottesville East, and Simeon would also be desirable as they cover the area immediately around Charlottesville, including some of our repeater locations.

Miller School Road Race 2013 only needed Crozet and Covesville.

BGCCC 2013 needs: Swift Run Gap, Stanardsville, Browns Cove, Free Union, Earlysville, Waynesbora East, Crozet, and Greenfield

Gran Fondo Virginia 2013 needs: Waynesboro East: Crozet, Greenfield, Covesville, Alberene, Schuyler, Esmont, and Howardsville

Repeater locations include: crozet, covesville, Alberene, Simeon, and Charlotteville East.

2013-09-15 Public Service Event: Boys and Girls Club Cycling Challenge

Volunteers Needed! Contact Joe Flamini W4BXG.
Joe Flamini W4BXG wrote:

Hi, All---
The Boys & Girls Club Race is in two weeks (Sunday, 15 September), and we need a few conscripts. I'm actually gonna be a part of this one, so I need six more souls. Only two of the posts are all day; the other five are only partials.Here are the seven posts:

Old Trail Swim Club (HQ)-- 7:00 on (All day)
White Hall Community Center-- 7:00 on (All day)
Greenwood Community Center-- 8:00-12 Noon
Broadus Wood School-- 11:00- 4:00
Boonesville-- 10:00-2:30
1 SAG-- 8:00-11:00
1 SAG-- 11:00-4:00
They'll provide rides for SAGs; I've got club event radios as before.

I'll send the map in an e-mail immediately following this one.

2013-09-28 AARC Fox Hunt (upcoming event)

May 2013 Fox Hunters
Fox Hunters from May 2013 fox hunt

This will be after our usual every other saturday breakfast. You don't have to come to breakfast but, like last time, we will have the fox there and turn it on at the beginning of breakfast so you can verify your radio is properly set up and hear what it sounds like and even test your antenna close in and at a distance. Then Mike KQ9P will depart early from breakfast and deploy the fox.

Fox hunting is a term for hidden transmitter hunting. One person hides the "fox" and the other people try to find it using radio direction finding techniques.

Frequency: 146.565Mhz

The fox was built by Paul McKee AK4OH.

2013-09-14 9a: AARC Volunteer Examiner Session

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Patch

AARC is holding a VE (Volunteer Examiner) session where people can sit to take their amateur radio license exams in the vicinity of Charlottesville, VA. Walk-ins allowed. There is a modest fee to take the exam. These sessions are held about once every 3 months.

Location: NRAO HQ, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA. google maps link.

WA4TFZ 146.760Mhz Repeater Storm Damage UPDATE: repeater is back up

NOAA Photolibrary image of multiple lightning strikes
Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Bill Pond N0WP writes on Saturday 2013-08-31:

It appears the Marshall Manor repeater site may have experienced some storm related damage today. Mike McPherson notified me around 5:15 PM today that he heard some beeps, then nothing on the 146.760. We did some attempts to reset it, etc. Both the 146.760 and 444.000 appear to respond to commands, key up as expected, however there is no audio output at all. No audio from repeater generated audio, or repeated audio. Carrier hang time seems correct, but zero audio. In the interim, I've disabled both transmitters. I'll play with it a bit more tomorrow, but I think there's a good possibility we'll have to install the spare controller to get it back on the air.

I'll update this as I learn more. At a minimum, I'd expect we'll have to run the Monday night net on 146.895 this week.

Shelby Hamfest: Saturday/Sunday 2013-08-31 to 09-01, Shelby, NC

If you have been paying attention to the new club calendar you know that it is labor day weekend and that in addition to our every other week breakfast bunch gathering (separate story) it is also time for the Shelby, NC hamfest and that traffic in town will be a mess due to a UVA home game.
Shelby Hamfest Logo
Saturday August 31 & Sunday September 1, 2013
Cleveland County Fairgrounds
1751 E. Marion Street, Shelby, NC 28152

Gates open at 7:00 AM each day (August 31 & September 1)
Inside Dealer Buildings will be open 8:00 AM-5:00 PM on Saturday
Inside Dealer Buildings will be open 8:00 AM-1:00 PM on Sunday

Talk-In: 146.880 (-), No Tone - W4NYR Repeater

Breakfast bunch: Back at Panera

Image of Hot Air Baloon over Panera Bread
Hot Air Balloon over Panera
During AARC Breakfast Gathering
Click to enlarge
Photo Credit: Mark Whitis AK4OL
License: CC-BY-3.0US

Looks like we are back at Panera this saturday. Mike KQ9P writes:

This Saturday is our regular Ham Radio Breakfast Group! Let's make it Panera in the Barracks Road Shopping Center this time. I will be there by about 7:15am. Things usually wind down around 10am. Drop by any time.

Things that I am pretty sure we will talk about are scheduling the next foxhunt and an update on our KickSat satellite ground station project. Anything is fair game, though.

Panera Bread
1121 Emmet St N, Charlottesville, VA ‎
Barracks Road Shopping Center
(434) 245-6192 ‎
lat/long: 38.052218, -78.501571
google maps.

Virtual test equipment: computer audio signal generation tools

plot of sin(x) from -2pi to 2pi using gnuplot

Your computer and sound card can be used in lieu of some pieces of test equipment, particularly audio equipment. A couple times in as many weeks, I have needed to generate tones to send over the radio.

Most of the tools described here run on Linux; most are also available on Mac OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, etc.

AARC Breakfast Group Location Survey

Thanks for all the responses. The results are in!

Question 1 Part A

Review: Cheap SMA to BNC adaptors

(click to enlarge)
I just received an order of SMA to BNC adapters from They are cheaper than most other resellers with an adaptor price of $1.60 or $1.80 and $3 shipping for multiple adaptors. More info below the fold for those who are stuck with SMA connectors on their radios, including pictures with various radios and antennas.

Video: "road" to Marshal Manor repeater shack. +Photos

Don't forget to reprogram your radios. See separate headline.

Part 2: This is the last part of the journey to the repeater shack. This is the Safari part of the journey. It does not include the drive to the winery or the drive through the winery which includes some rough and steep but traveled roads. This video starts just as we resume travel after closing the last gate. The site is located on "marshal manor" south-southeast of charlottesville which is actually the back side of the Carter Mountain Ridge but it is not on the portion where the commercial antenna farm and apple orchards are and what locals think of when you say Carter Mountain and is reached by a different route. "Marshal Manor" is actually a subdivision on the west side of the ridge (we are approaching from the west side) though in this video we will basically be travelling north along the ridge. We waited weeks after a rainy spell for this road to be considered passable even with a 4x4 truck with high clearance.

The May 2013 Fox Hunt

Fox Hunt Transmitter (exterior view)We should be scheduling a new fox hunt soon. But not enough was written about the last fox hunt. Here is a picture of the Fox Hunt transmitter used in our May 2013 fox hunt. A fox hunt is a nickname for a ham radio hidden transmitter hunt.

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