Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – January 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

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Now without further ado…

Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/01/january-2016-issue-of-ohio-section.html

Jeff Kopcak – TC

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2016! Hope Santa was good to you and left you a new radio under the tree. A white Christmas would be nice but I’ll take the warm temperatures we had for the holidays. I took some MUCH needed time off from work and spent it: sleeping, doing things with friends and family, operating on the radio, and watching NCIS. Got a couple hundred JT65/9 contacts in the log (really because I was slacking the last couple months and to make up for lost time!), played with Yaesu’s System Fusion, and WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting).

I hope everyone got to spend some time at their local club’s holiday parties. My family and I attended the LEARA (Cleveland) holiday meeting where I won the club’s giveaway of a new Baofeng radio and also a hat courtesy of our own Section Manager! This past weekend (Jan 10), I visited the Wood County Amateur Radio Club (Bowling Green) and attended their Kick-off banquet to begin the New Year! Great to see everyone.

I’ve been invited to visit the Columbus Radio Enthusiasts Society on February 16th. They asked me to present at their meeting on what the Technical Coordinator does and projects I’ve worked on. Stop by and say hi as it’s my first club meeting in central Ohio. More: http://www.w8zpf.net/


A couple months ago, I decided to see if I could get Fldigi working on the Raspberry Pi with my SignaLink. Fldigi is a modem application that is used for message passing or operating PSK, RTTY, and many other digital modes. I thought the tutorial could be a good resource for those who want to replace large PCs with much smaller Raspberry Pi computers or install digital in their go-kit. It was a success, or so I thought. I hit a couple snags along the way during initial testing. The first problem was a junky USB power supply. The SignaLink would key the radio for a time but would start a key-unkey sequence every second or so. I got what I paid for — use quality parts in your project. I swapped out the power supply. After that, I thought it was good to go.

Unfortunately, Ken W0KAH (from Missouri) contacted me over the holidays and said ‘it’s working great… except for our custom forms.’ I tried it and he’s absolutely correct. I loaded up his forms and ones that Technical Specialist Bob – K8MD created. When selecting these custom forms in Flmsg, the application hangs. The included forms work fine. I tried to first debug and later re-work the process to no avail. If anyone has custom forms working on the Raspberry Pi, please contact me. The build instructions and additional notes about the issue are available: http://www.k8jtk.org/2015/10/13/running-fldigi-flmsg-and-flwrap-on-the-raspberry-pi-2/

Speaking of Bob – K8MD, he wrote in to inform me that he’s been assisting with NBEMS during drills in Medina County. NBEMS (Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (or Software)) is a set of standards for passing text based messages and files over ham radio. His proficiency and use of NBEMS was noticed by ARES folks in nearby counties. Bob reported on the event:


On Saturday 5 December, Medina County ARES conducted a damage assessment drill with Medina County CERT team. The exercise was centered around the Damage Assessment form that I created for FLdigi. The objective of the exercise was to complete an initial damage assessment of an area that had been hit by a tornado. This initial damage assessment must be completed by the County EMA within 12 hours. This initial damage assessment is used by FEMA, the Red Cross, and other agencies to increase their situational awareness. The information is used to determine the size of the response necessary for the incident.

The exercise was a resounding success! CERT was divided up into six teams. Each of these teams had a mobile / portable ARES station paired up with the team. The CERT volunteers filled out the damage assessment forms and the ARES stations transmitted the forms back to the County EMA. The amount of information passed in a short amount of time was quite impressive.

One of the key things that I think we learned at this exercise was to keep the digital traffic on a separate frequency and separate band from the FM phone net. The traditional FM phone net was established on a 70cm repeater. A two meter simplex frequency was designated for the digital traffic. The portable ARES stations would use the FM phone net to ask permission to send digital traffic on the digital channel. This permitted the normal FM phone net to resume operations while the computers did all the work transferring the digital traffic on a separate channel. It’s critical that the digital channel take place on a different band then the FM phone net, so that the digital traffic receive is not de-sensed from adjacent frequency intermod. It’s also important for the stations doing a digital transmission on an FM phone frequency to announce: “CALLSIGN with tones” before transmitting. One of the digital transmissions went over a repeater and a non-ARES ham that was listening, thought the repeater was malfunctioning and allowing paging signals to be re-transmitted.

Mike Brugger, N8CEY is the ARES EC for Wayne County. He came up to observe the exercise from the Medina County EMA. I helped him get FLdigi and FLmsg installed and properly configured on his laptop, while he helped me with Net Control duties. Mike left with an extremely positive appreciation for the digital traffic handling. He’s planning to take the knowledge back to the Wayne County ARES team and start training on FLdigi.


Thanks for that great report. Bob, Dave – NF8O, Fred – K8FH, and I put together a hands-on NBEMS training session for Medina county. The sides are available online: http://www.k8jtk.org/2015/11/10/vhfuhf-nbems-an-introduction-using-fldigi-and-flmsg-presentations/

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK