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Posted by on in Main

Ron Bigelow, KF6LSY, passed away December 16th. His memorial service will be Saturday, January 5th, at 2 pm at the Twin Towers United Methodist Church at Oak and Central in Alameda.

Ron was an early member of the Amateur Radio Club and of Alameda's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Ron helped to site and install ARCA's first K6QLF repeater.  He helped many Technician licensees get on the net for the first time, programming their radios and encouraging them to try it out.

In CERT Ron taught supplemental classes, participated in exercises, built out the MDU's and took an activist role on the CERT Board.

He will be missed by many.

Click here for a photo tribute to Ron's contributions


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Recently there has been concern that K6QLF is not performing as well as it has in the past.  As part of an effort to address these concerns, I have carried out s signal level survey to test K6QLF's coverage and signal quality.

The goal is to benchmark repeater signal levels at ground-level using a simple mobile setup. During the test, the repeater broadcasts a test signal consisting of of tones followed by a CW station identifier. I drive a van-mounted Yaesu FT-8800 with a mag mount antenna to each of 23 predetermined locations.  I record an S-level at each location. Note that these are "Yaesu S-units", stated as the number of bars shown on the display.  They are a Yaesu engineering approximation to "true" S-units used on HT and mobile radios.

I also make an RST estimate of signal quality. The S-units are predictive of the perceived RST readings enabling me to report them as range estimates grouped  by S-unit. This is useful for interpreting the results.  The table mapping S-units to RST estimates, along with a descriptive label, is included in the presentation linked below.

The test was carried out during  the day (11 am to 5 pm).

In general it appears that K6QLF's current coverage is "usable" to "excellent" in downtown Alameda, and it is "fair" to "good" on Bay Farm Island.  However, the West End and Alameda Point areas range from "fair", near Encinal High School, to "poor" and "unusable" in neighborhoods north and west of the Webster tunnel.

While we have no prior benchmark to compare with these results, they allow us to see what the current coverage of the repeater is.  It will help us to set goals for improving performance and for determining the best approach.

The club has scheduled a meeting to discuss improvements for the repeater at our upcoming meeting on 

  • Date: December 8th (Saturday) 
  • Time: 9:00 am 
  • Place: Alameda Hospital
  • Room: Meeting Room A, 2nd Floor. 

Here is a presentation summarizing Signal Level Survey Results.

Posted by on in Main

Saturday June 23rd, 2018
0800 - 2000 hours
431 Stardust (Alameda Point)
Alameda Fire Department’s Training Center


See HAM radio in action. We will be using Morse Code, Digital modes and Phone. We will have 3 radios, each set up to use a different mode. We will be operating in emergency power with batteries.

So come experience Ham radio with a great group of friendly people. All classes of licenses will have the opportunity to make contacts over the air. Join us for a cup of coffee and some fun!

0800 - Help set up the antennas

1100 - Start making contacts



Posted by on in Main

This Monday I will run the new portable repeater from the Fire Department Training Center at Alameda Point from 7 to 9 pm. You can hit the repeater by using the "ROMEO3" frequency at 441.875 +, PL 88.5. If you need ROMEO3 added to your HT, come by and I will help you update your radio. I have cables and software for the commonest Baofeng and Yaesu units as well as for some ICOMs and the Wouxun KG-UV3D. If you have a different radio, bring your own cable, and I will try, best effort, to program it.

You can download the channel list (here) or the data file (here). You can also find sample instructions for using Chirp to program the Yaesu FT-60R (here).

When: Mon, March 5, 7 pm
Where: AFD Training Center,
431 Stardust Pl, Alameda Point

Posted by on in Main

The K6QLF repeater is Alameda's "goto" rendezvous for on-the-air volunteers in an emergency. But how do we keep service alive after the Big One, when power fails and battery backup is exhausted?

The problem is that K6QLF is six stories up on an old hospital wing where there is no emergency power. The building predates recent earthquake codes, and access could become problematic after a quake. So one solution is to to have a portable repeater in reserve, which can be brought to safe sites with a generator and an antenna. Portability would insure flexibility in keeping K6QLF on the air.

With this in mind ARCA has acquired a Motorola GR1225 which provides the needed flexibility. It is a rugged commercial grade repeater which packages the transceiver, power supply, controller and duplexer in a single durable unit. I have cleaned it up, tested its performance and enabled it to run on batteries as well as AC. In its current configuration, it can deliver 8W or 16W continuously on either of two channels - one for the K6QLF frequencies and an alternate one for testing, training and  events.

GR1225 Rear Chassis ViewVolunteers need do nothing special to access the new repeater should K6QLF fail. However, the alternate channel may be used as an adjunct tactical repeater, if needed. To prepare for this eventuality, program your radio to add a channel with the tactical call sign, "ROMEO3":

Frequency: 441.8750 MHz
Duplex: +
Tone Type: Tone
PL: 88.5 Hz

For more information about the ROMEO 3 repeater see the slides from this month's ARCA meeting (here).

Posted by on in Main

 Kudos go to Bruce Gillis, KI6CYT, for this year's effort pulling together the K6QLF Field Day.  ARCA had a full house at the Fire Department Training Facility, and propagation was hot.  So there were a lot of contacts resulting in ARCA racking up more points than any Field Day since 2005. All the action was at 5 watts and on emergency power.

32 people participated,  including Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer and the ARRL's Jim Latham, AF6AQ. The most contacts were on CW and PSK31, which did about equally well.  But the SSB folks put in a strong performance at 5 watts, boosting the total substantially.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_592.JPGSetup began at 8:00 am, and operating started at 11:00 am sharp.  With a break for pizza, the action continued until dinner time. All stations ran on 12V batteries.  Additionally Jerry Juhala, KT6CRT,  put together his solar power rig outside the building - one of two demonstating how to sustain activity on emergency power.

The antennas included Al Sweet's (KG6HM) G5RV in the parking lot, Bruce's 40m vertical next to the Red Cross building and my 20 meter antenna on the Training building.

Howard Harawitz, WA6YAG, in what is becoming a Field Day tradition, shot some great photos of the morning activities (available here). I took afternoon pictures, including those of the Mayor's visit (available here - also including Jerry's picture of Jim Latham).

Posted by on in Main

Saturday, June 25th
8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
431 Stardust (Alameda Point)
Alameda Fire Department’s Training Center

Help set up antennas.

See HAM radio in action - voice, Morse Code, digital.

Learn how to do it all on emergency power!

Join us for a cup of coffee!


Our Field Day Invitation and flier for you...

Posted by on in Main

Bruce (KI6CYT) and I got together last Thursday to do more Field Day antenna testing.  We met at the Sea View Park on Bay Farm Island. I brought my 10-15-20-40 meter OCFD antenna along with my Max-Gain Systems pushup fiberglass mast.  Bruce brought his lightweight 20 meter antenna.

One goal we shared for both antennas was to make it possible for one person to set them up without requiring additional assistance.  The OCFD had previously used two masts employing 4 foot fiberglass military mast sections. This required lots of rigging, a helper and not a little strength to raise each assembled mast. In contrast the new mast was made up of eight 4' long telescoping fiberglass tubes secured with a plastic clamp on the top of each section.  The plan was to set the first section on a base pegged to the ground, and use guy lines to hold it straight.  Two additional sets of guy lines were pre-positioned with the correct measurements so that support was available when the telescoping mast sections were pushed up.

Geometry works!  The secure base and the pre-positioned guy lines made it easy for me to raise the antenna in the usual afternoon sea breeze from the Bay.  And the measured SWR's slightly bested the antenna modelling.

Bruce also had a good result.  He removed the top section of the push pole to increase mast stability and modified the sliding base which held the "crappie" poles so that they went easily into position.  As a result, he was able to put it up himself.

All in all it was a good afternoon.  We are ready for Field Day!

More pictures...

Posted by on in Main

Bruce (KI6CYT) brought his new Field Day antenna for testing at Shop Night. It is a 20 meter dipole in an inverted "V". He has it mounted on a lightweight pushup fiberglass pole from MFJ. The mast employs two "crappie" poles as spreaders to secure the antenna ends.

Cass (AG6NT) and I helped set it up. One of Bruce's goals was to not only make it very light weight, but make it simple enough to set up so that one person could do it easily in the field.  Achieving the hoped-for single person setup didn't happen on this first trial, but our experience gave Bruce some good ideas about how to improve the mast.

Otherwise the antenna met Bruce's goals.  It was very light and portable.  Three guy lines secured it safely adequately in the evening breeze at the Training Center. A check of the antenna analyzer showed that the whole twenty meter band had an SWR of less than 2.0.  And a radio check showed that it was sensitive and could transmit 100w SSB.

Bruce and I agreed to meet again at the Sea View Park on Bay Farm Island to test his ideas to improve ease of use.

See more pictures here!

Posted by on in Main

Since this Saturday is on the Memorial weekend, the ARCA board decided to move the May meeting to the following Saturday, June 4th at 9 am at the Alameda Hospital 2nd floor conference room.

The topic will be the 2016 Field Day. We will be going over the schedule and procedures.

Posted by on in Main

Get your HT tested

Come join us for our monthly meeting at the Alameda Hospital


Tom, KG6MAC, will bring his spectrum analyzer to test your HT to find out how accurate it is when it transmits.


9-11am 4/23/16

Alameda Hospital
2070 Clinton Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501

See you there,

Charles KK6RSH


Posted by on in Main

New Time, New Location!

Come join us for our monthly meeting at a new location -- the Alameda Hospital, and a new time -- the fourth Saturday of the month!

Our very own Al Sweet will be giving a presentation regarding  'An evaluation of the Yaesu FT-991 "Shack in a Box" transceiver.' Al will discuss the important features of the FT-991 radio and share his own on the air experiences with the FT-991.


9am to 11 am

January 23, 2016


Alameda Hospital

Large Upstairs conference room

2070 Clinton Ave.

Alameda CA 94501


Tagged in: Meetings

Posted by on in Main

At one time or another it occurs to most members of ARCA and CERT that it would be fun to build a widget that you could toss into a tree and use as an emergency repeater. With the advent of inexpensive Chinese hand held transceivers, it becomes possible to try this out.

On Monday Shop Night, this August 3rd, we will get together at the AFD Training Center to see what it takes to put together the bare bones “Baby Baofeng” Emergency Repeater. Consisting of little more than two Baofeng radios and cable, it is the simplest possible solution. Does it actually work? Come, bring an HT and find out!

Event: ARCA Monday Shop Night
When: Monday, August 3rd at 7:00 pm
Where: AFD Training Center, 431 Stardust Place, Alameda Point
How to (updated): So You Want to Build an Emergency Repeater?


Posted by on in Main

At Friday night's ARCA meeting, Al KG6HM, presented a program on his experiences designing radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) for wireless communications applications. Al has been active in the RFIC field for many years, both designing die for clients around the world, and teaching RFIC design to graduate students at Santa Clara University. The types of RFICs discussed will be low noise amplifiers, gain blocks, power amplifiers, mixers, and VCOs.

Tagged in: Meetings

Posted by on in Main

ARCA will be hosting a farewell dinner for David (KI6AWR) and Elizebeth (K0EAH) Haycock on Wednesday, April 8th at 6 pm. Join us at the Pier 29 Restaurant in Alameda to celebrate their many years with the  Amateur Radio Club of Alameda.

David has led the club in so many capacities, taught so many classes and mentored so many members that it is difficult to know where to begin crediting him for his contributions.

If you would like to come to see David and Elizebeth off on their life's latest adventure, we will need your RSVP by this Saturday in order to reserve you a seat. Send RSVPs to Jim Wright. Spouses and significant others are welcome.

For more information about the dinner, click on Invitation.  You can see the menu at Pier 29 Early Bird Menu.

Tagged in: Celebrations

Posted by on in Main



Jim Wright, KJ6UHT, gave a demo on setting up a packet BBS and connecting to it. As Jim showed us, a packet BBS means that users are able to pass digital messages (mail) back and forth using the BBS as a post office of sorts. His BBS demo setup uses the  BPQ32 Mail BBS server software, an FT-60R HT and a the MFJ TNC-X packet controller. Two additional packet radio stations use the South Bay ARES Outlook Packet Message Manager to easily create, send and retrieve the messages from the BBS. Both Outlook stations employ the Signalink USB sound card (commonly used for HF digital) to connect to standard VHF radios. All setups are fairly portable, and have the potential to pass EMCOMM messages in the field.

PDF of presentation: Packet_Radio_Demo.pdf

Tagged in: EmComm Meetings

Posted by on in Main

Bruce Gillis KI6CYT gave a presentation titled "Ideas and Short Cuts to Use for Working for your Worked All States Award". It was interesting hearing how a number of topics came together to provide guidelines for getting this award. From antenna modeling to contests and logging, there were lots of different aspects to getting this award. He modeled his antenna, got it situated on his dock (over salt water!) and participated in a variety of contests. This allowed him to earn WAS on multiple bands and modes.

Tagged in: Contesting Meetings

Posted by on in EmComm

On Saturday December 28, 2013, Alameda Police Department contacted the Alameda CERT group for assistance with searching for a missing 68 year old woman with Alzheimer's. CERT leaders put into action their call out plan, which included contacting Ham Radio operators to assist with communication between the search teams and the Command Post. I would like to thank these operators who came out to help: Ron Bigelow KF6LSY, Anthony DiSalvo KI6TZG, Patrick Preminger KJ6UHO, Rose Kennedy K6LEZ, Marianne Schenone KI6MTU and Eric Yeh KJ6UHP. If I missed any operators please let me know.

The woman was last seen at 12 noon on the 28th in the area of Lincoln and St Charles. She had recently moved to the area to be with her son and daughter in law, so she was not familiar with all the streets or landmarks. She was also assumed to be walking her 10 year old Labrador.

APD Officers had been searching for the woman all day including use of a Search Dog from County Search and Rescue. The dog traced the womans scent but lost it at Atlantic and Webster. Since the woman had her dog with her and was assumed to have no money, it was unlikely that she would have been able to take a bus anywhere. It was presumed that she continued walking and the Search dog lost the scent due to the increased foot traffic in the area.

APD activated their Code RED calling feature to send out voice and text messages to people and businesses in town about the missing woman as well.

As darkness fell and it became colder they called Alameda CERT about 10:30 pm to see if they could provide additional personnel in looking for the lost woman. CERT Leader Ron Bigelow, KF6LSY, activated CERTs text and calling tree to notify members of the pending search. This initial call out included about 50 people. He also requested help from the ARES group to assist with communications.

APD set up a command post at City Hall West on the old Navy base and requested all volunteers to meet there for a briefing and assignments. Ron Bigelow set up a portable radio station and acted as CERT Incident Commander. Dean Lauerman acted as Operations Chief. While the command post was being set up, Linda Juhala called the remainder of the people on the Activation list, about 100 people. We had 16 people show up to assist with the search. 

CERT Leader Dean Lauerman coordinated with the APD staff on scene ( a Lieutenant, a Sergeant and a patrol officer ) to develop a search grid and dispatch the 2 person Search teams. APD requested that we start with the Navy Base property and when that was completed search the streets and public areas from the base to Webster Street. APD was in overall command of the operation and CERT and ARES volunteers assisted them as requested.  APD had also requested the CHP helicopter with night vision optics to assist. This was invaluable to help cover the large open areas of the old Navy Base, especially the runways and outer perimeter.

But they still needed hands on searching done of the area, side streets, bushes and multitudes of small areas around the base. Each team included a radio operator and another volunteer. They used both Ham and FRS radios depending on whether or not there was a Ham Radio licensed volunteer available or not. Each team was given an area to search and tracked on a map. When the team was done with their assigned area, they returned to the command post, were debriefed as to what area they covered and what was discovered and then were re-assigned to a new search area.

Ron Bigelow also acted as Radio Officer and helped keep in contact with the search teams that were in the field, relaying information and providing answers to questions as they arose. He also made sure that they kept in radio contact so we knew they were safe.  It took about 4 hours for the teams to search from Webster Street to the Navy Runway fence line. At 4 am the APD staff decided to suspend search operations for the night. All teams were recalled, given a final debrief and released from duty to go home and get some rest.

About 11 am on Sunday, only 7 hours later, APD again requested CERTs help to continue searching for the missing woman. They wanted to get more volunteers out in the daylight when it would be easier to see. CERT Leaders began the process again to contact their members for another search. Fortunately we received a cancellation message within about 30 minutes. The woman and her dog had been found at the Bay Farm Island Library. This is on the opposite end of town from where she was last reported seen.  At this time we still do not know where she was all night or how she got to the library.

APD and CERT leadership want to thank all the volunteers that came out to help search in the middle of the night and to those that we woke up and said they were not available for the first night but could help out later if additional resources were needed.

Alameda CERT has been contacted 5 times to assist APD with searching for lost people. The first was in 2011 when a woman was lost on Bay Farm Island. CERT and ARES volunteers helped APD search BFI from 11 pm – 2 am. The woman was eventually found at the Alameda Hospital.

The other three requests were cancelled within 30 minutes as the missing person was found each time.

The ARES group in Alameda works closely and supports the Alameda CERT program by providing the vital communication links needed to keep all members safe and help coordinate search activities. These types of events also help our operators to gain real world experience in working with CERT, APD and search teams to accomplish the required goals.

We will continue to make ourselves available to APD or AFD as requested to provide volunteers as needed. Other tasks we might be asked to assist with are:

·         Communication between the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and other vital areas of town in the event of a communication failure.

·         Communication between a Red Cross shelter and the City or the Red Cross

·         Assist with Medical Points of Distribution (PODs) to get medical and humanitarian supplies to a large number of people.

·         In the event of a large scale disaster, communicate between the EOC and Neighborhood CERT teams to relay information on problems in town that city officials need to be aware of.

These Search and Rescue call outs provide a wonderful chance for us to test our gear, skills and communication abilities in a safe and secure environment. By doing this now, we learn what works and what does not and what we will need when a real disaster happens. This makes us better prepared to be communicators in rough conditions when we may not have access to water, power, shelter, etc.

It is a good idea to be cross-trained as a CERT volunteer as well. You learn a lot of good information about Disaster Preparedness, get some good stuff from AFD and provides another way to help out your community. If you have not yet gone through the CERT training course offered by AFD, the next session of classes is coming up on Jan 25.  You can see a full schedule for the year at

Alameda CERT will be having an Urban Search and Rescue training class on February 8, from 9 am – 2 pm. This class teaches you how to search an outdoor area, what to look for, how a person tends to react when they are lost and what they are likely to do.  Also how to organize a search team and conduct a search of a specific area. After the classroom session there will be a hands on exercise where teams are created, Command Post is setup and a search is conducted for a missing individual.

There is also an FRS Communication class happening January 11. This teaches CERT volunteers how to be communicators, radio protocols, best practices and how to use an FRS/GMRS radio. It is a good class for Ham radio people too if you have never taken this type of class before so you can learn how CERT communicates and their procedures.


This is all done at the AFD training facility at Alameda Point. If you are interested in attending this class, you can sign up by calling the Veronica at the AFD administration office and signing up. Her contact information is Veronica Hallam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call  (510) 337-2121




01/08/2014 - Follow Up

According to APD, Harriet was found the next day, Sunday, by someone near Godfrey Park. This person gave Harriet a ride to Petco to get some food for her dog and then to the Bay Farm Island Library where he dropped her off.

When he returned home, he got the voice mail about the missing person and realized who she was and called APD.

About the same time, someone near the Library saw Harriet and also called APD.

Tagged in: ARES EmComm SAR

Posted by on in EmComm

Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) Features Amateur Radio

This is an interesting reference guide to keep handy. You can download and print as many as desired. The default configuration comes out as a 4” wide x 7” high document that you then need to cut and bind. I found if you change the printing option to print at 170% it looks good on a full sheet of paper and no cutting is necessary. – Jerry Juhala

The Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) is a new reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an Amateur Radio organization supporting public safety.


This reference guide contains information about AuxComm best practices, frequently used radio frequencies, Mutual Aid channels as well as tips and suggestions about auxiliary emergency communicators integrating into a NIMS ICS environment to support communications for planned events or incidents. It can serve as a reference both for auxiliary emergency communicators and public safety communications professionals. You can download the AUXFOG by clicking here and then clicking on the link and save it to your own storage device. It will only download as a PDF.-- Thanks to Jim Duram, K8COP, Whitehall, Michigan [editor's note: This book looks like an exceptionally well done technical reference that is a must-have for every ARES operator. I'll have a more comprehensive review of this Department of Homeland Security pub in the next issue -- K1CE]



Tagged in: ARES EmComm FOG

Posted by on in Main

We had a nice presentation from Rich Holoch KY6R called "DXCC Honor Roll in One Solar Cycle". Rich made Honor Roll on New Year's Day 2013, and he did it in only 11 years between solar peaks using simple antennas – none of which were mounted very high (except the dipole). He presented on the process of improving his antennas to get over the "wall" -- a period of 3 years where he was stuck at 325, and had no new DXCC entities. One of the more interesting points for the club was his use of EZNEC and HFTA. We've had several presentations on using EZNEC as an antenna modeling program, but he went further and used a program called HFTA. This allowed him to take his antenna model, and see how his QTH affected HF gain, in the direction of the entities that he would need for DXCC Honor Roll.

Current PDF of his presentation:

Rich is currently working on DXCC on 160 meters, and will be presenting at Pacificon 2013. We are looking forward to seeing more from Rich. If you want to follow him, he's on twitter and has a blog here:


Tagged in: Meetings