Senate Bill 3690 – Amateur Radio Emergency Preparedness Act

On January 30, 2024, US Senators Roger Wicker (MS) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced S.3690, the Senate companion bill to H.R.4006, introduced last June. Both bills reflect the Congressional campaign efforts by ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® to eliminate homeowner association land use restrictions that prohibit, restrict, or impair the ability of an Amateur Radio Operator to install and operate amateur station antennas on residential properties they own.

READ THE BILL HERE:
S.3690 – Amateur Radio Emergency Preparedness Act

Weather Balloon Tracking

For the past month I have been running this weather balloon tracking program. Its called “auto_rx” and it is a great piece of software.  This software lets you receive weather balloon data and uploads it to the Sonde-Hub Tracker website so other can see the balloon tracks.  For running the software locally you can get real time data it has an internal webserve so any computer in your house can see the data from the balloon and follow its plot on a map, and one of neater things it can do is to plot earlier received balloon paths.

Now my setup is a Raspberry PI 5 {A 4 would work} an RTL-SDR receiver and one of Arts WA3BKD J-Poles.   As you can see I can track a balloon all the way beyond State College. These balloons often reach a height of 107,000+ feet.  So I can hear it from a pretty far way usually its the curvature of the Earth causing me to loose the signal.  While my station is receiving the signal it will also forward the data to the Sonde-Hub Tracker website. It is neat to see your callsign as the station providing the data.

Now my setup has only one RTL-SDR dongle so I can only track one balloon at a time. The software can handle more than one RTL-SDR at a time. So right now once I loose the first track it will start scanning again and often picks up the balloon coming from Cincinnati, OH. Also a couple of times when the wind is blowing from N to S it will pick up Canadians balloon at their peak altitude.

Below are the links to the Sonde-Hub Tracker website and Auto_rx software, the balloon are launched at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM and are airborne for an hour to an 1 1/2 hours.   People do use this software to track and recover the balloon payloads.  It just another neat part of this wonderful hobby.

Website: Sonde-Hub Tracker
Software: Auto_rx

Software Define Radio’s

Do you know with as many servers we have out in the “Hut”, that Steel City club runs a SDR Receiver from the club house.  It was installed by W2BRS and has been online for many years now.  The primary purpose is to let operators listen to their own transmissions and to quick check on band conditions. The receiver also picks up the most popular Short Wave radio stations and the popular AM Broadcast band.  We have most of the clear channel station bookmarked on the receiver so it’s easy to tune to any of them. So if you want to listen to the ball game from another city at night the AM band become alive and you can listen to cities from around the country.

Steel City SDR Receiver: https://www.w3kwh.net/openwebrx/

Here are some of the most popular frequencies:
KDKA AM RADIO – 1.020 Mhz
ECARS 40m Moring Net – 7.255 – {Most Days Mornings}
PA Health and Wellness Net – 3.983 Mhz – {Weekdays 9:00 AM}
Breezeshooter 10m Net– 28.480 Mhz – {Mondays 9:00 PM}

Want to listen to more options? Mike King, WA3PYU use these next two websites to listen to weak signals from the net’s he listen too around the state.  These are useful for checking your signal since the SCARC receiver can be desensitize by our transmitters so close.

http://www.k3fef.com/
http://na5b.com/

Look here for SDR receivers from around the world: http://websdr.org/

Cordless Phone Hamshack Hotline

click to see

What do you do if you want to have Hamshack Hotline on a cordless phone?  I always hate having to run into my shack to answer an Hamshack Hotline call.  Now I don’t have to since I picked up an Grandstream 820 cordless phone.  This phone is not cheap your looking at $132 to pick one up since this is still an phone that is still in production. So here is why I spent some buck on a phone.

First I do have a normal VoIP phone line into my place so I needed a phone that could handle a normal VoIP line and a Hamshack Hotline number.  The 820 has the ability to have two accounts on it and I can select which line I want to call out on.  So not only is this phone my Hamshack Hotline phone it is my normal phone too.

Hamshack Hotline Approved Phones: Supported Phones

Second I just wanted to deal with one piece of equipment.  I didnt want to get a DECT base and a DECT handset.  Hamshack Hotline has on there approved modem list the SPA-232D and SPA302 which requires you to get both and they are both “End Of Life”.  Since cordless phone require new batteries I didn’t want to deal with USED phones.  The Grandstream 820 uses Wi-Fi so it will talk directly to my router.  So I can use my phone anywhere I have wireless access. I can also access the configuration menu directly using any computers on my network.

Now for my normal phone service I use VoIP.ms which is a VoIP service that I have had for several years now.  You can even port your current landline number to this service.  I pay as you go which means I pay $0.01 for outgoing calls and $0.009 for incoming calls.  There is a $0.85 a month charge for having an phone number. Now I don’t talk much on phones except when one of my sisters calls so I don’t spend a lot of time on my phone.  Which mean twice a year I’ll put about $20 into my balance and that will last me quite a while.

Information On VoIP.ms

Since the Grandstream 820 is not on the supported line list.  You have to get an “Experimental Number” with Hamshack Hotline.  The hotline folks with let you use any VoIP phone on the hotline. The catch is they will not offer you any support. Which mean they will send you the configuration information but you have to configure your own phone and  trouble shoot your own issues.  So it does take someone that can do a little research to get you up and going.  Once it works it is like any other Hamshack Hotline phone.

 

 

Tape Measure Beam – Radio Direction Finding

TAPE MEASURE BEAM OPTIMIZED FOR RADIO DIRECTION FINDING
Joe Leggio WB2HOL
Description

This antenna evolved during my search for a beam with a really great front-to-back ratio to use in hidden transmitter hunts. This design exhibits a very clean pattern and is perfect for RDF use. It trades a bit of forward gain in exchange for a very deep notch in the pattern toward the rear. (You could optimize the design for more forward gain, but at the expense of a really good notch in the pattern toward the rear.) It is a design that can be constructed using only simple hand tools (no machine shop needed) and still perform well. It has been duplicated several dozen times by other local hams and has been successfully used as a club construction project.

When I designed this antenna I had one basic idea in mind. It had to be easy to get in and out of the car when hunting for a hidden transmitter. This would be accomplished by the use of steel “tape measure” elements. These elements could fold easily when fitting the antenna into my car and yet still be self supporting. I decided to use three elements to keep the boom from getting too long.

Another of my design goals was to use materials that were easy to obtain. I chose to use Schedule-40 PVC pipe and fittings available at my local hardware store for the boom and element supports. These kept the cost for the antenna very low. The element supports consist of PVC crosses and tees.

Read The Full Article Here: WB2HOL Website

Skywarn Recognition Day 2023

Starts at Friday 7:00 PM – Dec 1st
Ends at Saturday 7:00 PM – Dec 2nd
Skywarn™ Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that Skywarn™ volunteers make to the NWS mission, the protection of life and property.
Amateur radio operators comprise a large percentage of the Skywarn™ volunteers across the country. The Amateur radio operators also provide vital communication between the NWS and emergency management if normal communications become inoperative.

All Skywarn™ spotters provide critical weather information before, during and after adverse weather strikes. This includes reports of rain and snow, ice and wind, storms and tornadoes, flooding and fire. This is our 24 hours to recognize all of the Skywarn™ spotters serving our nation!

All ham radio operation should check out the Skywarn page on Weather.gov and Skywarn member follow the link below to get your location posted to the spotter mapping page.

Skywarn™ Recognition Day 23 Registration Form

Skywarn Spotter Mapping Form

Contact the ISS

Some ISS crew members make random, unscheduled, amateur radio voice contacts with earth-bound radio amateurs, often called “hams”. They can make radio contacts during their breaks, pre-sleep time and before and after mealtime. Astronauts have contacted thousands of hams around the world. The work schedules of the ISS crew dictate when they are able to operate the radios. The crew’s usual waking period is 0730 – 1930 UTC. The most common times to find a crew member making casual periods are about one hour after waking and before sleeping, when they have personal time. They’re usually free most of the weekend, as well.

The following frequencies are currently used for Amateur Radio ISS contacts:  

  •  Voice and SSTV Downlink: 145.80 (Worldwide)
  • Voice Uplink: 144.49 for ITU Regions 2 and 3
    • (The Americas, and the Pacific and Southern Asia)
  • Voice Uplink: 145.20 for ITU Region 1
    • (Europe, Russia and Africa)
  • VHF Packet Uplink and Downlink: 145.825 (Worldwide)
  • UHF Packet Uplink and Downlink: 437.550
  • VHF/UHF Repeater Uplink: 145.99 (PL 67 Hz)
  • VHF/UHF Repeater Downlink: 437.80

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://www.ariss.org/

Steel City Teaches Scout Merit Badge

In November 2023 our education chairperson Jeffrey Bussard, N3EVN taught a class for the Boy Scouts for the Radio Merit Badge.  Along with Jeff several of our members join him to operate our two Go Kits to get the “Make A Contact” requirement done.  By using our Steel City Repeater and the North Hills ARC repeater, and many operators that were standing by, we were able to help the large group of scouts.

Boy Scout Merit Badge – Nov 18th

On November 18th the Steel City members will be helping the Boy Scout earn their Radio Merit Badge at Camp Guyasuta.  Steel City ARC will be needing operators to help the scouts make contact so that they can finish their education and earn the Radio Merit badge.if your willing to help please contact Jeff N3EVN at n3evn {at} yahoo {dit} com.

WE ARE IN NEED OF OPERATORS TO GO TO THE CAMP TO HELP THE SCOUTS AND OPERATORS THAT WILL STANBY ON THE REPEATERS AND HF BAND SO THEY CAN MAKE CONTACTS

For Merit Badge Information: Radio Merit Badge PDF

Location of Camp Guyasuta: 300 23rd St Ext, Sharpsburg, PA 15215

ARRL Hails FCC Action to Remove Symbol Rate Restrictions

ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® reports that earlier today, the FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the Amateur Radio Service rules to replace the baud rate limit on the Amateur HF bands with a 2.8 kHz bandwidth limit to permit greater flexibility in data communications.

“The Federal Communications Commission today adopted new rules to incentivize innovation and experimentation in the amateur radio bands by removing outdated restrictions and providing licensees with the flexibility to use modern digital emissions,” announced FCC.

“Specifically, we remove limitations on the symbol rate (also known as baud rate) — the rate at which the carrier waveform amplitude, frequency, and/or phase is varied to transmit information — applicable to data emissions in certain amateur bands,” concluded the FCC Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, adopted November 13, 2023. “The amateur radio community can play a vital role in emergency response communications, but is often unnecessarily hindered by the baud rate limitations in the rules.”

Read The Full Article Here: https://www.arrl.org/news/