Steel City @ WASHfest

Steel City @ WASHfest

On Sunday Feb 25th the Steel City ARC will be having two tables at the WASHfest Hamfest.  One table will be promoting the club and the other table will be for SCARC members to sell items.  As always members are encourage to stop by and say Hi or even man the booth and talk about the club to the hamfest goers. We will have extra chairs for SCARC members to rest there feet while enjoy the hamfest.

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

Winter Field Day 2024

JAN 27 & 28. 2024
This Year We Are Doing Something Special
Operating From Raccoon State Park {Cabins}

Check Out MEMBER ONLY section
For Signup Sheet

Look for the club at Cabin #6 @ Raccoon State Park. 


  • Setup: 2:00 Friday  @ Club House To Load Up
  • Friday Dinner: 6:00 PM
  • Breakfast: 8:00 AM
  • Finish Setup: 10:00 AM
  • Lunch 12:00 Noon
  • Setup Testing: 1:00 PM
  • Contest Start Time: 2:00PM Saturday
    • We will need 6 people for all the contest times
      • 3 Operators
      • 3 Loggers
  • Dinner: 6:00 PM
  • Breakfast: 8:00 AM
  • Lunch: 12:00 Noon
  • Contest End Time: 2:00 PM Sunday
  • Tear Down: 2:00 PM Sunday

Stations Equipment:

  • Go Box – FT991 and FT7900
  • Two More – HF Radios – Either Club or Member
  • Go Box Accessory Kit
  • N3LRG – IC-820 for 2m contact to SCARC repeater
  • N3LRG – G5RV antenna
  • WA3BKD – Long Wire and Tuner
  • Two more HF antennas looking for members
  • Three Laptops for logging.
  • PC For log storage
  • Wifi Router & UPS for linking laptops
  • More Items to be listed…

Driving Map to the Cabin #6 – Click Here    

Click for Full Size

Winter Field Day Description

At the Winter Field Day Association, our mission is to encourage emergency operating preparedness during the winter months when the potential for freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and other hazards may present unique operational challenges.

We sponsor the Winter Field Day Exercise in the form of a contest to encourage you to participate. Although we have a Class for Home stations, we highly encourage setting up remote and outdoor operating positions. Operating out in the field, away from the comforts of home, is the best way to increase your level of preparedness for disasters and improve your operating skills in subpar conditions.

WFD is a learning experience, and we hope at the end of this year’s WFD exercise, you will feel more confident about your ability to adapt and overcome adverse weather conditions. Please read through the rules thoroughly. If you have questions, contact us on our website or social media for clarification.

At the WFDA, we use the term contest very loosely around here, so don’t get too hung up on our rules. At the end of the day, your total points don’t matter. What you learn during WFD and your ability to adapt and overcome sudden obstacles is what will help you during unexpected emergencies. As we continue with another year of the WFD exercise, we want to encourage participants not to chase the contacts or the points but to test their abilities and equipment. If you want to exchange signal reports, please give each other accurate information, so the other station knows how well their station is working.

Finally, have fun with the event, talk about the temperature, meet new friends and make memories as you continue to enhance your skills as an amateur radio operator.

For More Information:

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:

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.

Look here for SDR receivers from around the world:

24th Annual WASH Two Meter Contest 

This January will mark the Twenty-Fourth Annual WASH 2 Meter Contest. We’re looking
forward for a chance to stretch our legs, our wheels, and our antennas once again! Join us for a fun operating event, where you can hear some old friends, and maybe make some new ones, as well as net yourself a free Door Prize Ticket for WASHFest 2024 just for submitting a log! See you on the air!

Date & Times: Saturday, January 13th , 2024 from 7 to 11 PM EST.

Needed Forms:

Logging: Wash-2m-Logging-Forms.pdf
Entry Forms: Wash-2m-Contest-Entry-Form.pdf


  • To have fun!
  • To make as many contacts as possible
  • To have more fun!

Band, Modes & Frequencies: The contest will take place solely on the 2 meter band.

FM : 

  • FM simplex only, no repeater contacts.
  • The FM frequencies are all standard 2 Meter Simplex frequencies, as per the ARRL 2 Meter
  • Band Plan, every 15 kHz, from 146.505 to 146.595 MHz, and 147.450 to 147.580 MHz.


  • 144.05 to 144.1 MHz Only. (See ARRL 2 Meter band plan)
  • CW Notes: Listen for CW QSO’s around 144.1 MHZ 15 minutes after the hour
  • SSB & AM: 144.2 to 144.275 MHz Only. (See ARRL 2 Meter band plan).
  • Voice Notes: → Listen for SSB & AM QSO’s around 144.2 MHz 30 minutes after the hour
  • Digital (including RTTY): 144.51 to 144.55
    MHz. (See ARRL 2 Meter band plan) Multiple
    digital modes may be used, and participants
    are free to use any generally accepted Digital
    mode, but only ONE Digital QSO with a given
    station regardless of mode.

FULL RULES HERE:  WASH 2024 2m Contest
WASH-FEST 2024:  Feb 25th

CompuServe Historical Status

Editors Note: CompuServe Ham Radio forums were one of the first social media locations where ham radio operators could hang out together and exchange information.  Personally sent my first Internet email via CompuServe about the Oscar-Dove 17 satellite. 

A central Ohio building that once served as the global headquarters for CompuServe has been recognized with historic marker status by the state.

At its height in the 1990’s, the pioneering tech company — one of the first to offer commercial internet services — was known by the public for online forums that offered news, message boards and data file transfers. The firm also introduced the GIF image format back in 1987.

“This may be the first historical marker about the internet. Most history is not recognized and celebrated in your lifetime, but this is and its really special,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted at a dedication event featuring state officials and former CompuServe CEO Jeff Wilkins. “Today we have a vibrant, growing tech economy in the state of Ohio. And it began right here.”

Read The Full Article Here: CompuServe

Tape Measure Beam – Radio Direction Finding

Joe Leggio WB2HOL

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 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