Tag Archives: WSPR

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – May 2024 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 Tom – WB8LCD 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.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Tom has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the Ohio section will need to use the mailing list link above.  Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).

  • Go to www.arrl.org and click the Login button.
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  • There should now be a green check mark next to “Division and Section News.”  You’re all set!

Now without further ado…

Read the full edition at:

Jeff Kopcak – TC

Hey gang,

One thing that has kept me busy this year is work. We’ve been traveling for deployments and other work projects. Pilot sites get someone onsite to make sure the transition goes (relatively) smoothly. In addition, cutovers for other sites and other systems have been occurring off hours – early mornings or late at night. One of the perks of traveling for work is the ability to extend a trip using personal time.

The first trip was an M&A (merger and acquisition) in East Hartford, Connecticut last March. One reason I wanted to extend this trip was because East Hartford is about 15 minutes away from Newington – otherwise known as the location of ARRL HQ.

I like to drive and this was a drive at 9 hours. It ended up being more like 10 or 11 with stops and detours. Extending this trip, partially because of ham radio, and getting to drive means I take a lot more ham radio stuff. I put on music and will switch off listening to VHF & UHF. I have an ICOM IC-2820 radio with a homemade cigarette lighter power cable. Using the cigarette lighter (now called an accessory port) is more than good enough to power the radio especially when listening more than transmitting. Since this wasn’t my car, the install has to be very temporary. Most accessory ports are fused at 10A. That limits me to low or medium transmit power. Low power (5W) draws 4A and medium power (15W) is about 7A (a little less on 2m). No reports of alternator whine either.

I know there are those who make lists of repeaters when traveling. With electronic sources such as RFinder and RepeaterBook, it’s easier more than ever to import repeater data into radio programming software. The Travel search in RepeaterBook makes it even easier by selecting a travel route or highway. A problem with that feature is the repeater owner or a contributor to RB have to tag a repeater as being accessible on or from a particular route. I-80, which I traveled through most of Pennsylvania, only lists 25-2m/440 repeaters end-to-end. I traveled 270 miles of I-80 in PA. That seems low.

Instead, I use band scan memories or scan edge memories. To me, it’s easier than making banks of repeaters for different cities along the way. Scan edges are memories available on most modern radios. Set the start and end frequency and the radio scans frequencies in-between, stopping on any signals received. Once it hits the end frequency, returns back to the start frequency and begins scanning again. These memories are often notated as “xA/xB,” “xL/xU,” or similar memory locations noting beginning and ending frequencies respectively.

The 2820 is capable of dual-band operation with two receive frequencies at one time. On the left side of the radio, I had a scan starting with 144.000 and ending at 148.000, which covers the 2m ham band. On the right side was 440.000 – 450.000 for the 70cm ham band. The “step” setting determines frequency increments. 15.0 kHz step starting on 144.000 will then scan 144.015, 144.030, 144.045, and so on. A step of 5.0 kHz starting on 144.000 will then scan 144.005, 144.010, 144.015, etc. Most 2m ham band repeater plans are 15 kHz and 25 kHz on 440. I stick to those as my step settings.

W1AW digital equipment Rack 1: APRS/D-STAR/HF MARS. Rack 2: Demo. Rack 3: Echolink & Winlink. Rack 4: IRLP

Setting the step to 5 kHz catches more transmissions in cases where a repeater might be coordinated on a non-standard frequency or simplex conversation had on a weird frequency. It does take much longer to scan and the radio will stop on much more interference from the car or other near-by transmitters. Not worth it to me setting such a small step value.

In this day and age, noise will be an issue and the scan will stop frequently. Stopping frequently can be further reduced by turning up the squelch or attenuator, but you’ll miss weaker signals. Some radios have a ‘skip’ (sometimes called “lock-out”) function that will skip over problematic frequencies. I use the radio’s “scan resume conditions” to resume scanning 10-seconds after arriving on a signal. This is nice so I don’t have to keep messing around with the radio while driving. If there is an interesting conversation, it’s one button to stop the scan to remain on that frequency.

Before someone says ‘you should have flown,’ a co-worker did fly out of Cleveland. Since there are no direct flights to Connecticut, he flew from CLE to ORD (Chicago) then onto Connecticut. With layovers and delays, he left the same time I did from Cleveland and arrived only an hour sooner than I did. If I would have cut out my own detours made in New York, probably would have beat him there.

Unfortunately, this was a grueling trip. Driving wasn’t really bad until I got to Scranton, PA, but it was still a lot of driving. We were on site Friday through Tuesday, working 10-to-12-hour days. Didn’t do much operating on the front end of this trip. Once we ate and got back to our rooms, it was time to get some sleep and do it all again the next day. We got it done, though. Left the site Tuesday a little after 2pm and tried to catchup on rest. I planned a ARRL HQ visit the next day, Wednesday, March 20th.

I took a bunch of pictures outside of the towers and arrays. Apparently, they don’t give tours of HQ anymore (except virtually). I was pretty disappointed. When they did give tours, you could see things such as the ARRL Lab, testing equipment, ham radio archives, and outgoing QSL Bureau. Not to be had this time. Headquarters lobby and bookstore were open and the only parts accessible.

On my last visit with the family, by the time we got to the visitor’s station – W1AW, storms were on their way in. I made calls on HF but made zero QSO’s before NJ1Q had to shut down the station. Being one of my first few times on HF was really bummed not to make any QSO’s and learn how things worked. A year after that trip, I got an HF station setup at the home QTH – which my dad had a big hand in setting up.

Studio 3 operating positions. I operated as W1AW from the station at left.

This time was quite different. No storms to worry about. I had over an hour – probably an hour and a half – operating as W1AW in Studio 3 with a Yaesu FTDX9000D, Heil Microphone, and Alpha 9500 amp running about 600 watts. I don’t remember which antenna/array they had be working on. Operated mostly on the upper part of 20 meters, around 14.290. Changed frequencies once or twice to avoid other stations that were coming up out of the noise. Had a great path into Ohio as I worked many stations from the Section. Those in Northeast Ohio informed me I missed the two inches of snow. Dodged that bullet. Unfortunately, didn’t note exactly how many contacts I made. I had 40+ contacts after an hour, probably 50 or so QSOs in total. If you happened to make contact, QSL cards are available direct to the ARRL HQ mailing address.

I had such a good time operating that I stuck around even longer and talked with Joe, NJ1Q – Station Manager and Trustee. Fascinating person to talk to. He had finished testing, fixing, and was packing a portable station for a school contact with the ISS in Colorado. Spoke to him about their digital setup including Winlink station. I’ve previously used W1AW on HF to exchange messages from the home QTH. “It must be working,” said Joe. It sure is. Wish I had their racks of digital equipment in my shack and towers in my backyard. He also gave me some tips for things to try with some issues I am having. A veritable fountain of wisdom.

For being at the visitor’s station, you now receive a certificate for either visiting or operating. Remember to bring a copy of your valid amateur license in order to operate. The certificate was something carried on since the centennial 10 years ago. I didn’t receive one on my last visit. We figured out it had been 11 years (2013) since my last W1AW visit and certificates started just after that.

The remainder of that trip was non-ham radio activities. One of the wide-area linked repeater systems with 10 sites had a pretty bad hum. The owner and some users were trying to track it down. I don’t own a repeater but it is a thankless job.

Snapshot from video I took – near the end of totality, 4/8/2024

Couple weeks later, I was in Waco, TX. Since I was flying, I took the IC-91AD HT with me but didn’t have much time to use it. I take hardly any ham equipment when I fly because I don’t want to deal with TSA.

Waco was in the path of totality for the April 8th Eclipse. I thought about extending the stay but decided against it. Good decision because they had storms. Contacts at the site wanted to see my pictures from Ohio because it turned out to be a crummy day for them. I also heard car rentals were up around $600/day in Dallas.

Speaking of the Eclipse, I took the day off and contributed to HamSCI by transmitting and uploading spots for WSPR. I had to make preparations to get my camera setup and had family coming over. Since I wasn’t seeing many special event stations on the DX Cluster in the morning, left the radio to do WSPR spotting. Maybe HamSCI will be at Dayton/Hamvention and I’ll talk to them about the data gathered from Ham Radio stations.

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK

Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – September 2017 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.

You can receive the Journal and other Ohio Section news by joining the mailing list Scott has setup. You do not need to be a member of the ARRL, Ohio Section, or even a ham to join the mailing list. Please sign up!

If you are an ARRL member and reside in the Ohio Section, update your mailing preferences to receive Ohio Section news in your inbox. Those residing outside the section will need to use the mailing list link above.
Updating your ARRL profile will deliver news from the section where you reside (if the leadership chooses to use this method).
Go to www.arrl.org and logon.
Click Edit your Profile.
You will be taken to the Edit Your Profile page. On the first tab Edit Info, verify your Email address is correct.
Click the Edit Email Subscriptions tab.
Check the News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager box.
Click Save.

Now without further ado…

Read the full edition at: http://arrl-ohio.org/news/OSJ-September-17.pdf

Jeff Kopcak – TC

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey gang,

Last couple articles have been features so this month is a lot of odds-and-ends…

System Fusion

Last month’s article covering many System Fusion issues sparked some feedback as one might imagine. It was split.

One group in the section was using an external controller and was having a DR-1X repeater lock-up problem. They troubleshot the issue and with “additional circuity” resolved their issue. One disputed my assertion the repeater is two FTM-400 radios, but didn’t provide any details to the contrary. Having opened up LEARA’s DR-1X and upgraded the firmware, one radio looks exactly like the 400 (minus the speaker). Additionally, the firmware upgrade process was identical to my 400. Arguably, the transmit radio could be different but it’s hard to really tell with the heatsink mounted on top.

On the opposite end, a club in the section is completely frustrated with how Yaesu treated them as customers. They’ve attempted to call and email no less than 6 Yaesu representatives asking for details on promotions, hardware specifications, or answer to questions but never heard a word. They believe ‘Yaesu has lost any competitive edge they had by flooding the market with Fusion gear.’ Though I agree, I have not experienced this particular problem with my inquiries to support. My emails have been answered within a day or so – usually confirming suspicions I heard elsewhere. Seemingly ignoring customers is bad for business. Though customers feel they are being ignored, it may be a management attempt to better coordinate internal communication before going public. You’re doing it wrong, but it is a possibility. As pointed out previously, statements of fact made countless times are suddenly reversed and changed at release.

To clarify a point, the FTM-400 radio does operate both A & B sides of the radio simultaneously. My issue is, for their high-end offering of a mobile radio, it should be able to operate Fusion from both A & B sides of the radio at the same time. It does not. The A side can operate Fusion digital or FM. B only operates FM. Operating Fusion digital from both sides is one nice feature of the FT2D.

It didn’t take long before I started hearing the DMR arguments. DMR does have issues too but I see them as growing pains. It’s not: ‘this crashes, this locks up in transmit, this doesn’t work until you get a factory upgrade, need to spend $$$ to work around a shortcoming, upgrade to get the full power output, something can’t be fixed because there is no published specification…’ the list goes on. I’ve covered DMR issues here before and have noted most of them in my DMR Terminology and Programming a Code Plug learning series: http://www.k8jtk.org/category/amateur-radio/dmr-in-amateur-radio/.

Background checks, public service, & saving lives

The era of submitting to a background and credit check before helping out with fund-raising public service events is upon us. The local Multiple Sclerosis Society in Cleveland hosts a 150 mile (or so) bike ride every year. This used to be called “Pedal to the [Cedar] Point” but was renamed “Buckeye Breakaway” when the ride changed destinations to Ashland University. Last year, the MS society pushed for all volunteers to run a full background check. This included all ham, SAG (Support and Gear), and medical units – whether they were mobile or stationary at rest stops. Failing to complete the required check or failing the check would mean that person couldn’t volunteer or participate. This request was sprung on the ham and medical coordinators a few weeks out form the event. Citing time constraints and the amount of push back from volunteers, eventually the required check was no longer required but not after some had already completed the investigation.

This year, the MS society required a background investigation and proof of liability insurance for SAG drivers. Though I was not transporting riders, I too had to submit because I was the shadow of an MS staff person for the event. The investigation service stated a ‘credit check’ would be part of the reporting, though the society said it would not be a factor for eligibility.

Like many organizations, the MS Society is going through its share of layoffs, reorganizations, and centralization. The Cleveland chapter had little recourse since the background check was mandated from HQ. I suspect this will become the norm rather than the exception in the legal, CYA, society we live in. It sure takes the fun out of doing a public service event and not sure I want to give up that much personally identifiable information again for a fundraiser event. Then again, Equafax hands out PII data to anyone who can gain access to their systems.

That issue aside, a real life threatening event happened. Ham and medical volunteers dealt with a roll-over accident involving one of the cyclists in the event, a utility pole, and a parked car – all because of an impatient driver. This happened in Medina County near Valley City. The accident was radioed in by a ham volunteer. Other hams were on scene along with the Northeast Ohio Medical Response Corps to triage the situation. NEOMRC is a group of volunteers who provide medial support services for events and nearly all are licensed hams. The injured cyclist was life-flighted to a nearby hospital. The driver, who caused the accident, left the scene. By late afternoon, the story was all over the local news: http://fox8.com/2017/08/05/cyclist-struck-by-car-during-race-in-medina-county/. Fortunately, no one was killed. Img: Brunswick Hills Firefighters.


To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), a slow scan TV event was held July 20th and ran for 3 days. During these events, SSTV transmissions originate from the International Space Station as it orbits in space. No special setup is required to copy the images. To receive the best images, Yagi antennas on a tracking tripod is best. I just use my external VHF antenna and let the radio listen for transmissions. Images sent featured different ARISS activities over the past 20 years. Check out the images 34 images I received: http://www.k8jtk.org/2017/08/03/sstv-transmissions-from-the-international-space-station-july-2017-edition/. If you want to get started in SSTV, check out the links to my getting started tutorial of MMSSTV in that post. I will also be giving my SSTV presentation at the Geauga Amateur Radio Association meeting on September 25, 2017 at 7:30 in the Geauga County Emergency Operations Center. More on the meeting: https://geaugaara.org/.

2017 Eclipse & WSPR

I contributed to the radio sciences taking place around the solar eclipse. I didn’t get to travel to an area of totality or even take off work. Instead I worked a number of the special event stations in the surrounding days. Still have to send away for my certificate. Since I didn’t take off work or do anything unusual, my contribution to the “eclipse QSO party” was to leave WSPR decoding signals and upload the spots. Scientists are hoping to learn more about eclipses and effects they have on the atmosphere and radio propagation from those spots.

WSPR stands for Weak Signal Propagation Reporting Network. If you have WSJT-X installed, WSPR is included in that package. WSPR is intended to be a QRP mode because each receive and transmit window is 2 minutes. It works like a beacon network based on timed transmissions like JT65, JT9, and FT8. Each band has 200 Hz of bandwidth designated for WSPR. A transmitting station will digitally transmit their call sign, grid square, and dBm (power output). Similar to the JT’s, the signal report (DB), time difference between the two clocks, and drift are calculated by the receiving station. Decoded signals are uploaded as spots to the WSPR Net website. The data is crunched and used to draw real-time maps of propagation. More: http://wsprnet.org/

Technical Specialist Reports

In Technical Specialist news, Dave – KD8TWG held a “Test and Tune” night for LEARA. Communications and spectrum analyzers were brought in to tune radios that might be off frequency or show how much those Baofeng radios do transmit everywhere at once. Contact Dave or a section Specialist to bring this educational and eye-opening experience to your club meeting.

In addition, KD8TWG would like to thank everyone who came out and worked the 195th Great Geauga County Fair. Dave was in charge of the communications and networking for golf cart drivers who transported fair goers to and from their cars. Golf carts were equipped with APRS for location tracking. A WiFi network based on the Mikrotik NV2 protocol was built for two weeks. NV2 is a proprietary WiFi protocol based on TDMA in the 5.1-5.8 GHz range. The advantage of TDMA wireless is better throughput and lower latency in point-to-point or point-to-multipoint networks. Traditional WiFi is built on a Carrier sensed collision avoidance system where nodes transmit only when they sense the channel is idle. Dave points out, this is NOT mesh. Over the wireless network, they ran a phone system and IP cameras. The Sherriff’s Office was impressed with the video coverage and wants to run more cameras next year. By the numbers: 60 volunteers worked 1,284 hours, with just under 700 golf cart transports. Dave ate approximately 47,000 calories in fried food. Imgs: KD8TWG.

Technical Regulation Reform

An ARNewsline report (#2080) points out the FCC Technical Advisory Council is looking for opinions and suggestions to update existing technical regulations or to adopt new ones. “The FCC wants the council to single out any rules that are obsolete or in need of being brought up-to-date. The Council also wants comments on how the agency’s regulatory process on specific technical rules could become more efficient. The agency stresses that the issues being considered are those of a technical nature.” Thoughts or opinions can be filed in ET Docket 17-215 or with the ARRL. October 30th is the deadline. More: http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-technological-advisory-council-investigating-technical-regulations


I’ve only participated in two Fox Hunts. The first time, I came in dead last. Second time, came in second. No idea how that happened because no skills were honed at all. The Ham Radio 360 podcast had an episode with Larry Jacobs – WA7ZBO talking all about Fox Hunts. Surprising to me was the Tape measure antenna is very popular even among serious hunters. As for gear, an antenna, attenuator, and radio are needed. In the absence of an attenuator, your body could be used to attenuate signals. Larry talked about some dos and don’ts. He encouraged hamfests to hold hunts to ‘whet the appetite.’ The most popular hunts are races with mileage and time restrictions to keep things safe. Don’t make the hunt too hard where participants get discouraged and don’t want to ever participate again. Always use public property. Use common sense and don’t be a wise guy. For example, a convention had the fox located near the hotel pool. When someone asked what everyone was doing with antennas around the hotel, someone responded with ‘a Soviet Satellite with a radioactive payload went down near here.’ Guests couldn’t check out of the hotel fast enough. The hotel asked this group not to return. While funny, don’t be that guy. Instead have ARRL handouts and pamphlets about ham radio when someone asks. The episode can be found at: http://hamradio360.com/index.php/2017/07/25/ham-radio-360-fox-hunting-transmitter-bunnies-too/

Last Man Standing & Frequency TV shows

Many have heard by now the Tim Allen show “Last Man Standing” was canceled by ABC and possibly looking for a new home. Tim Allen plays a fictional ham radio operator using the call sign KA0XTT. The show was popular among politically conservative individuals and ham radio operators. According to ARNewsline (#2069), talks fell through for the show and it will not be returning with new episodes. The show will soon be removed from Netflix as 20th Century Fox struck a deal with Hulu for exclusive rights to their catalog, which includes Last Man Standing. Hulu is a premium service for streaming TV and moves. Channels carrying reruns include: CMT, Hallmark, Freeform, and The CW. Also on CW was the TV spinoff of the move Frequency, it too was canceled.

TYT MD-2017 Broken Antenna Connectors

If you purchased an early Tytera MD-2017 DMR dual-band radio and the antenna connector broke, contact your dealer. This appears to be a first-run issue and TYT has shipped replacement connector parts to their dealers. Replacing the connector requires opening the radio and soldering. If you’re not comfortable, ask if the dealer will do the work or swap the radio.

Thanks for reading, 73, and Go Tribe!… de Jeff – K8JTK