SCARS News October 26 , 2018

In This Issue… 
Picnic Report
ARISS with a J-Pole
Link of the Week

Dates To Remember,
The Doctor Is In,
This Week’s ARRL Letter,
ARRL DX Bulletin,
Amateur Radio Newsline,
Ham Nation,
Odds and Ends,
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles _…_._

In This Issue
 ARISS on a J-Pole? You bet!,
week 3 of  5 Saturday Ham Events,

Texhoma HAMARAMA Today and Tomorrow,
“Do you really need a tower?” (Doctor),
‘Successful ISS contact” (Letter),
and all the usual stuff!

“Read all about it” below.

Picnic Report
I was at Clemson last weekend (youngest granddaughter’s Senior year) and missed the Picnic, but several reports that I’ve heard indicate that there were at least 40 folks (and likely many more) who showed-up to consume food and engage in EYEBALL QSOs for several hours. Thanks and kudos to Denny and Leota for hosting (AGAIN!), Phil for cooking, and to those who brought snacks and desserts!

ARISS on a J-Pole

[ Editor’s Note: Some of the BEST posts come from SCARS members. This one from a new member and an almost brand-spanking new Amateur – Scott, W5EDM. Enjoy! ]

When Mark Kleine, N5HZR, asked me to write an article about contacting the ISS using amateur radio, I was initially a bit hesitant.  I’m the last person that should be writing an article about how to contact a manned station in orbit, speeding along at a mind-boggling 17,000+ mph at an altitude of 254 miles. Let’s not even consider the fact that I have only been licensed since September 7th of this year.  I am about as green and inexperienced as one can get.  But, then I started thinking that maybe contacting the ISS only takes minimal equipment, very basic knowledge, and a healthy dose of good luck.  I am very grateful that everything came into place and I was able to log this contact. When I receive my QSL card, it will be a prized possession for sure. But honestly, this is something that ANY Technician class operator can do.  

I had first heard about Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS while studying for my Technician exam.  I have always had a high interest in everything space-related, especially manned spaceflight. So, the ARISS program was something that I immediately took note of.  Looking back, the Challenger incident is what solidified my lifelong interest in spaceflight. I was 14 when the Challenger disaster occurred. It was “one of those moments” for me.  I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the Challenger breaking apart in flight. The world stood still that day. Thankfully, moments like that are rare.

When I started to assemble my home station, I went in with the mindset that most beginning operators have; bang for the buck with ease of use and set up.  Having been in CB radio, I knew that the antenna system was just as, if not more, important than the transceiver. I settled on a KB9VBR dual-band J-Pole, 2 10’ chain link fence top rails for a mast, and a 3’ tripod to hold everything vertical. I also used guy lines (just in case), a grounding rod, a lightning arrestor, and I was in business.  The one thing that I didn’t “skimp” on was coax. I did spend the extra money for solid core LMR-400 with Amphenol solder connectors. Coax loss at different frequencies was (and still is to some degree) somewhat foggy, but the charts and message boards indicated this coax was a solid choice.

As far as transceivers go, it wasn’t long before I wanted something more substantial than my Yaesu FT-60r.  I had used this handheld to listen to repeaters before getting my ticket. I still use it often when roaming around the house and during the ARES siren net on Saturdays with SCARS.  But I could tell it wasn’t going to work as a base. After much thought and research, I settled on a Yaesu FT-7900r which is simply a dual band mobile. So far, I am happy with this choice.

When programming my transceiver, I put most of the local repeaters in one memory bank and frequencies for Will Rogers World Airport in another bank.  Just for fun, I programmed the ARISS downlink and uplink frequencies in the same bank with the repeaters. I knew about Doppler shift in sound waves and learned that it also affects radio waves much the same way.  I didn’t program any “shift” frequencies at the time. As it turns out, I really didn’t need them. The downlink frequency for ARISS is the same worldwide, 145.80 MHz. The uplink frequency depends upon your location.  Voice uplink for the Americas is 144.49 MHz. These frequencies program into your radio just like a local repeater, but as an “odd split”. An odd split simply means that the transmit and receive frequencies do not follow the standard offset.  This can be tricky to program, but your radio’s manual, YouTube, and Tuesday evening Elmer nights at the Norman Red Cross are lifesavers! Another option is to obtain an inexpensive cable online that is specific to your transceiver and use CHIRP with your computer to program your radio.  There are several good programs to do this, but I use CHIRP, so it is what I’m familiar with. It is good to know how to program your radio manually, but programming through your computer is much easier and saves a ton of time and frustration.

I was starting to think that maybe I had made a mistake in programming for the ISS.  Several weeks had passed and I didn’t hear anything on that frequency. I had all but given up until one evening I noticed a voice that I hadn’t heard before.  I got up to see what frequency it was, and it was the ISS. There are currently 3 amateur operators on board the station; Ricky Arnold, KE5DAU, Alexander Gerst, KF5ONO, and Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT.  It was simple to tell who it was since it was a female voice. I started getting excited about this whole station thing again. At the time, she was trying to contact a specific ground station, so I knew well enough not to interfere. I could hear them, so maybe they could hear me after all. I immediately went into planning mode.

The first problem I needed to solve was simply about timing.  For several years, I have been receiving text messages on my phone from NASA about visual sightings of the station.  The station is visible just after sunset or just before dawn during that short period of time when the earth’s surface is dark, but the station itself is illuminated by the sun. To make these sightings even more infrequent, the station must be fairly close to your location during this time.  Visually, the ISS appears as a bright dot of light streaking from horizon to horizon in a matter of only a few minutes. If you like, you can sign up for text or email alerts at Now, as fun as seeing the station overhead is, I knew these infrequent alerts would not help for working the ISS.  The station is relatively close several times a day, both day and night. I started looking for something more comprehensive and found many free apps for my phone to help increase my chances for contact. There are also recommendations on the ARISS website that are PC based. The app I chose is simply “ISS Detector”. It’s easy to set up and use, gives alerts before the ISS is close, and gives information concerning future passes for the next 10 days. There are several apps that will work, though.  I use an Android phone, but I assume there would also be several choices for Apple also.

While planning this attempt, I started to wonder if my gear would be up to the task.  I watched an online video about an operator making AMSAT contacts. My knowledge base of AMSAT is virtually nonexistent, so I’ll save the embarrassment of trying to explain AMSAT in detail.  On a very basic level, AMSAT is using orbiting satellites that are geared for amateur radio use to make contacts using various modes. That seems to be a safe enough explanation. Anyway, the operator in the video was using a battery powered transceiver, a very large and expensive looking handheld Yagi directional antenna, a headset… he pretty much had all the bells and whistles.  He was working station after station, fairly impressive. After thinking about his gear, his antenna was about the only thing I thought I may need. I was concerned about my simple J-Pole sitting a meager 20’ in the air. It does clear the neighborhood roof lines, but would a simple unidirectional antenna be enough? At this point, I wasn’t entirely too confident.

I noticed from my app that the ISS had 2 close passes the morning of October 20th. Well, this could be promising.  It was a Saturday so I would be home during the morning and the ISS was making educational radio contacts during this time.  Hopefully, they would be inclined to make general ground contacts also. The first pass was around 8:15 a.m. I turned my radio to the memory channel with the ISS frequencies, opened the squelch, and listened.  As they came into range, I could hear KG5TMT speaking with a school. I was both excited and disappointed at the same time. I could still hear the station, but attempting contact was a no go this time. So, I waited patiently until the next go around at 9:45 a.m.  Same procedure: I turned to the ISS channel, opened the squelch, and listened. The voices slowly broke through the noise and finally, they were working general ground stations! I waited until they got a bit stronger and the previous operator had faded, then I jumped in. “November Alpha 1 Sierra Sierra this is Whisky 5 Echo Delta Mike” Absolutely nothing, let’s try again. “November Alpha 1 Sierra Sierra this is Whisky 5 Echo Delta Mike”.  “Whisky 5 Echo Delta Mike this is November Alpha 1 Sierra Sierra, how are you doing this morning?” I froze solid. I literally almost couldn’t talk, my little rig and my little antenna put my voice into the ISS… and they were talking back! We were able to talk for a brief 30 seconds or so. Even though I don’t remember exactly what I said, I do know that I didn’t make too much of an idiot out of myself (hopefully). I’m writing this the day after all this happened, and I still feel that numbing high you get when something amazing happens.  

Sitting here writing and reflecting, what did I learn from all of this?  I learned that preparation is very important, but luck and conditions can be almost as important.  I also learned that basic equipment and a decently tuned antenna can do a lot more than you expect.  Recently, I started making homebrew antennas and I had posted some questions on the SCARS Facebook page about where to locally obtain supplies. I received many helpful responses, as I have learned that hams are more than willing to help in most any way possible.  They only ask that you do the same when your time comes to help. I have received invaluable help, advice, and encouragement from nearly every amateur radio operator that I have come across, whether in person or on the air. Local hams like Peter Laws N5UWY, Gordon Hudson AD5GG, Don Byrer N0DLB, and Mark Kleine N5HZR both through Facebook and Elmer nights, have suffered my many questions with solid advice.  But, in this case, I think Peter has given the most relevant advice. Concerning the type of rod to use for a homebrew antenna, Peter said: “Just put metal in the air – someone will hear you.” Well, Peter, they did!

Link of the Week

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

With Scott’s article, this link was a no-brainer. There is a LOT at this website. But you have to be very careful, you just might learn something new!

Online Ham Stuff

New This Week:

The Running List

The Amateur Amateur

KE2YK’s Special Events Page

Route 66 On The Air

W8JI’s “Noise” Page

Maritime Mobile Radio

SCARS Youtube Channel

SCARS Field Day Page

KSARRL’s DeepLink Page

Southgate Amateur Radio News

KB6NU’s Ham Radio Blog

Amateur Radio Education & General Learning Resources

Ham Radio Horizons Magazine

AD5GG’s blog:

Listen to The Bands Online

Heathkit Virtual Museum

Ham Radio 2.0

Charts, Propagation, Antenna Patterns, LOTS of stuff:

Foothills ARS. Also, Lots of Stuff, but good Technical Presentations:

K7AGE’s Youtube channel. How-tos here by the score

ARRL’s “Identify noise source by sound” links (this is good!)

Dragnet Radio:

Share your favorite online Ham resources! I Want Your Links!

Dates To Remember

Today and Tomorrow – Texoma Hamarama –

November 1 – SCARS VE Testing –

November 3 – Enid Hamfest –

November 10 – SCARS November Meeting –

The Doctor Is In

The Doctor’s Latest Podcast is titled
“Do You Really Need A Tower?

This episode’s synopsis:
“The vast majority of amateurs do not own antenna towers, but that doesn’t mean you should strike one from your list of future station improvements.

Listen to it here-> The Doctor Is In Podcast

The Doctor’s Homepage is here: The Doctor Is In

This Week’s ARRL Letter

Read it all here: ARRL Letter

ARRL DX Bulletin

DX Bulletin 44 ARLD044
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT October 25, 2018
To all radio amateurs

ARLD044 DX news

This week’s bulletin was made possible with information provided by
IZ8CCW, ON4EI, W3UR, The Daily DX, the OPDX Bulletin, 425 DX News,
DXNL, Contest Corral from QST and the ARRL Contest Calendar and
WA7BNM web sites. Thanks to all.

GEORGIA, 4L. Mamuka, 4L2M will be QRV as a Single Band on 20 meters
entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via EA7FTR.

CYPRUS, 5B. A group of operators will be QRV as C4A from Nicosia in
the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL direct to 5B4KH.

OMAN, A4. A group of operators will be QRV as A44A as a Multi
Operator entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via A47RS.

BHUTAN, A5. Operators JH1AJT, OH2BH, DJ9ZB, JF1IST and E21EIC are
QRV as A5A, A52BH, A52ZB, A52IST, and A52C, respectively, from
Thimphu until October 30. Activity is on 160 to 10 meters. They
will be active as A5A as a Multi/2 entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB
contest. QSL A5A via JH1AJT, A52BH via OH2BH, A52ZB via DJ9ZB,
A52IST via JA1HGY, and A52C via E21EIC.

QATAR, A7. A group of operators from the Qatar Amateur Radio
Society and others will be QRV as A73A from Doha as a Multi/Multi
entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via M0OXO.

TAIWAN, BV. A group of operators will be QRV as BV2A/3 from DaXI,
Tao Yuan City in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via direct
or bureau.

CHINA, BY. Look for B4T to be a Multi/Multi entry in the CQ World
Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via BA4TB.

CUBA, CO. A group of operators will be QRV as T42T as a Multi
Operator/Single Transmitter/High Power entry in the CQ World Wide DX
SSB contest. QSL via operators’ instructions.

CAPE VERDE, D4. A group of operators are QRV as D4C in the CQ World
Wide DX SSB contest. They are also QRV as either D4Z or D41CV prior
to the contest. QSL via LoTW.

PALESTINE, E4. Janusz, SP9FIH will be QRV as E44WE in the CQ World
Wide DX SSB contest as a Single Band on 20 meters entry. QSL to
home call.

ESTONIA, ES. A group of operators will be QRV as ES9C as a
Multi/Two entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via ES5RY.

MAYOTTE, FH. Willi, DJ7RJ will be QRV as FH/DJ7RJ from October 29
to November 6. Activity will be on 160 to 10 meters using CW and
SSB, with a focus on 160 meters. QSL to home call.

FRENCH GUIANA, FY. A group of operators will be QRV as FY5KE in the
CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via LoTW.

FERNANDO DE NORONHA, PY0F. Members of the Noronha Contest Group are
QRV as PY0F until October 29. Activity is on 160 to 10 meters using
SSB and FT8. This includes being active in the CQ World Wide DX SSB
contest. QSL direct to PY7RP.

SURINAME, PZ. A group of operators are QRV as PZ5K until October
30. Activity is on the HF bands using CW and RTTY. This includes
being active in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via G3NKC.

GREECE, SV. Nicolas, F1RAF will be QRV as SV8/F1RAF from Poros
Island, IOTA EU-075, from October 28 to November 3. Activity will
be on 40 to 10 meters using SSB. QSL to home call.

MARSHALL ISLANDS, V7. Masa, JA0RQV will be QRV as V73MT from
October 26 to 29. QSL via M0OXO.

DUCIE ISLAND, VP6. A large group of operators are QRV as VP6D until
November 3. Activity is on 160 to 10 meters using CW, SSB, and
various digital modes including FT8. QSL via operators’

HONG KONG, VR. Alberto, VR2XAN will be QRV from Peng Chau Island,
IOTA AS-006, as a Single Band on 80 meters entry in the CQ World
Wide DX SSB contest. QSL to home call.

BURKINA FASO, XT. A group of operators are QRV as XT2SZZ from Bobo
Dioulasso until October 30. Activity is on the HF bands. This
includes being active in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via

VANUATU, YJ. Chris, VK2YUS is QRV as YJ0CA from Efate, IOTA OC-035,
until October 29. Activity is on 40, 20 and 15 meters. QSL direct
to home call.

ZIMBABWE, Z2. A large group of operators will be QRV as Z23MD as a
Multi/2 entry in the CQ World Wide DX SSB contest. QSL via IK2VUC.

SSB Contest, NCCC RTTY Sprint and NCCC CW Sprint will certainly keep
contesters busy this upcoming weekend.

The UKEICC 80-Meter CW Contest, CWops Mini-CWT CW Test and Phone
Fray are scheduled for October 31.

The ARRL International Grid Chase runs during all of 2018.

Please see October QST, page 91, and the ARRL and WA7BNM Contest Web
Sites for details.

Always Latest version at the top here: ARRL DX Bulletin

Amateur Radio Newsline




NOTE: The “SCRIPT” and “AUDIO” above are hyperlinks. Click to read or listen!

Live links, Script, and Audio here: Amateur Radio Newsline – Latest News

Ham Nation


Episode 373’s highlights:

“Bob, Gordo, and Randy at Pacificon,
Amanda interviews Karl Martin KG4HBN on
coordinating ham operators during hurricane Michael,
adding a mixer to a ham shack with Dan,
finding a replacement crew for the International Space Station,
and more!”

The last half-dozen or so episodes are linked right here: Ham Nation

Where We Are On The Web

Homepage, News / Updates, On The Air Resources, Facebook, Twitter, Email

Homepage: W5NOR.ORG
News and Updates: scarsnewsletter
On The Air Resources: SCARS Repeater
Facebook: SCARS Facebook
Twitter: W5NOR

Odds and Ends

Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles

Link below lists all the ARRL-related hamfests within a 250-mile drive of Norman for about the next 5 months. Lots of good ones close to Norman.

As always, News, Links, Repeater Info, Hamfests, Licensing, General Help & more linked from the sidebar at the SCARS Homepage – W5NOR.ORG !!!

73 de Gary, WB5ULK …_._





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