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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.

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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?

 

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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

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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

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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: http://eastbayarc.org/pdf/pacificon_2013.pdf

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: http://ky6r.wordpress.com/

 

Tagged in: Meetings

Posted by on in Main

This year's Field Day came off smoothly. Not only did ARCA pull together to implement Fred (KI6BES) and Bruce's (KI6CYT) plan, but the enthusiastic participation of CERT and ARES members did a lot to make it a success.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_580.JPGRon (KF6LSY), Dean and Wade arrived early towing two CERT Mobile Disaster Units from Fire Station 4 to the Bay Farm Shopping Center. These were set up quickly, with Bruce's vertical and dipole antennas going up soon thereafter. Al's (KG6HM) G5RV was raised along with various VHF/UHF antennas.

One MDU was dedicated for use as a PSK31 operating position for Howard (K6SID) and Lea (KJ6BNS). The other MDU hosted Sam (KJ6AF), Cass (AG6NT) and others for HF voice. Joe (KC6ZZT), Michael John (KF6YRG), Doug (KI6BZT) and Al held down the fort in the CW pavilion, while Fran (KF6UVB) and Al manned the GOTA pavilion, talking with Boy Scouts in Texas and getting Bruce's grandson on the air for the first time.

Rose (K6LEZ), Ruth (KI6TYZ), Marianne (KI6MTU), Fred and Joann teamed up in the VHF/UHF pavilion. They signed in visitors, explained Field Day activities and provided literature.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_592.JPGThe CERT and ARES folks were very active. Jerry (KT6CRT) set up a complete, self-contained emergency radio position including antenna, battery, generator, solar energy and shelter. In the CERT pavilion, Dean, Carmen, Wade, Jerry and Eric (KJ6UHP) showed visitors an impressive display of emergency tools, including a full MDU medical kit.

One innovation this year was the addition of bandpass filters to the HF stations. The filters enabled simultaneous activity for voice, data and CW without interference. David (KI6AWR), along with Cass and Bruce, spearheaded this initiative, which was a success.

Later in the day we had visitors from the Red Cross, including Madeleine Biskintaoui (AF6NL) and Richard Fateman. Chief Ricci Zombeck came by from the Alameda Fire Department, and Jim Latham (AF6AQ), Jim Tiemstra (K6JAT), Bob Vallio (W6RGG) and John Rabold (KS6M) represented the ARRL.

All in all it was an excellent day, with beautiful weather, good contacts on 15 and 20 meters and a much appreciated dinner at Harbor Bay's Penca Azul.

For more pictures of Field day activities, see here or here.

Posted by on in Main

Rehearsal crew ready for Field Day!Saturday the 22nd is ARRL Field Day, when Alameda's Amateur Radio Club shows what can be accomplished by setting up from scratch under emergency power and making as many contacts as possible. Field Day will be held in the Harbor Bay Shopping Center in front of CVS.  You can't miss it - there will be two Alameda CERT Mobile Disaster Units, several pavilions and antennas everywhere.

On June 8th the team rehearsed pulling everything together to work out the kinks. In two hours ARCA members were on the air and talking to other hams.  Here is the tired, but proud crew at the end of the morning.

Join us Saturday!

You can see more pictures here or here.

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ARCA is holding 2013 Field Day this year at the Harbor Bay Landing shopping center on Bay Farm Island.  We have permission to set up in a section of the CVS parking lot.  This will give us great public exposure, parking is easy and there are no strict requirements which force us to close down early.  The promises to be a great event and we want to make it especially successful by having a brief Field Day rehearsal. 

We will be hollding the Field Day rehearsal on Saturday June 8th 2013 at 885 Island Dr Alameda 94502.  There will be one MDU in position and the objective will be to get it set up as it will be for the real event (Saturday June 22nd 2013). 

The event will begin at 10:00 am and will last approximately 2 hours.  A succesful event will get us on the air and iron out the kinks so that we will be well prepared for the great event later in the month.  We will be getting the MDU ready, setting up the antennas, firing up the generator and getting on the air too!  Whether you are interested in setup, operating, logging or just observing at the real event, please come along and participate.  The more the merrier. 

Tagged in: Field Day