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For the Basics Round this Thursday, 9/20, at 8:30 PM: Simplex (aka parrot) repeaters. Simplex repeaters record brief transmissions on a particular frequency, and then immediately play those recordings back on that same frequency. They're never put on the air on a regular basis, but rather, used in temporary deployments for things like tests, experiments, emergency response, and of course, fun and games. A simple version could be put in service with a transceiver connected to a computer with a sound card. The transceiver's speaker output would be connected to the sound card input, and the sound card's output would be connected to the transceiver's microphone/audio-in. We can assume VOX for simplicity, or add some kind of PTT if you like. The software could be dirt simple, perhaps running a routine like this:

1. Listen for activity. When it occurs, start a recording, for up to some maximum (say, 20 seconds).
2. After a recording ends or reaches maximum length, if it's less than some minimum length (say, 5 seconds) then discard it and go back to step 1.
3. Play the recording.
4. Play an ID.
5. Go back to step 1.

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It looks like it's time to seriously setup my FLDIGI software now I have a fully armed and operational death star... Ur, ah, um, I mean BITX 40. Whew, I almost geeked out there. Well, since we discussed general usage of digital modes in ham radio last week I thought I would share a tutorial for setting up and using free software FLDIGI for digital mode communications. Just at this moment I am most interested in setting up the macros to help automate some of the QSO's and rag chews (long chats). If ham radio wasn't so vast and interesting I would have been learning all this stuff before now. Before I had only familiarized myself with CW operation and still should have setup my macros for it, but didn't do much operating after all that. Well here is a playlist on YouTube with a FLDIGI Training Series. I hope you enjoy it, if not let me know what you recommend. EDIT- This isn't exactly the playlist I wanted to upload as it's for Narrow Band Emergency Messaging Software (NBEMS) with FLDIGI, but I am going to let it ride anyway. But do search YouTube for specific beginner and setup videos and playlists of your liking. Maybe post your favorite in the comment section below. Edit#2- I should have shared this first, it's the manual which also contains instructions for the FLDIGI CW keying circuit. Under related pages tab, operating link, CW keying link. Or just Google it. http://www.w1hkj.com/FldigiHelp/

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Time for a personal ham radio update. I finally added some volume controls to the home brew digital interface I made to work digital modes with my BITX40 transceiver. Jim Glover was the brave lad who volunteered to help me experiment with it for my first Olivia and RTTY digital contact. He showed me a setting to turn on (RxID and TxID in the upper right of FLDIGI) during the contact that will automatically select the right mode for decoding in FLDIGI. I really wish I knew about that 2 years ago. Now I have a lot of things to finish setting up for efficiently conducting a digital contact. And I am still having some trouble getting everything to work perfectly in Raspbian, and used the windows laptop to conduct the QSO with. I discovered the limit of the USB current supply when I added the older FLDIGI CW keying circuit which has another relay module that needs full power to click out CW with perfect accuracy. So I just had to continue using the phone charger I ran it from since the beginning a couple of years ago. I also had to move to a larger holiday tin to house all the circuits and USB components in, and put some knobs on it, and most importantly the switch to block the PTT switching that locks on at startup until I initialize the serial port interface in the software settings. It's a bit fiddly but I took a 59 dollar Indian 40 meters lower SSB transceiver module and turned into a nearly fully functional radio with up to 25 watts CW, digital modes, SSB voice, tune, spot, RIT, USB/LSB, ect. usable little box. That was a lot more fun and educational than taking a radio out of a box, trying out a few ways to make contacts without any trouble, and getting bored with it after a few months. I made some new friends along the way and it was a bit cheaper too. So here is a couple of picts, one is the CW keying circuit before I tried to power from USB bus power and then jam it into the new tin box.
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9/16/18
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Topic for Basics Round tonight, Thursday, 9/13: Digital modes

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Apparently I was a good boy this year and Santa Clause stopped by early for a little present delivery at our last Ham club meeting and just sat his bag down in front of me, and when I looked inside there was a big wonderful dual gang air variable capacitor 500pf each gang inside, it was dated Oct 9, 1973. 8 days short of being one year younger than myself. Well this is wonderful since I completely missed out on finding one at our last Ham Holiday. Well I new for sure I had to put this almost perfectly mint condition Cadillac of capacitors in a protective enclosure so I don't accidently bend the delicate rotor plates, or get a big shock from handling this all metal device while tuning a magnetic loop antenna while transmitting a few hundred to a few thousand volts of RF energy through it. So I soldered some 12 AWG stranded wire on it in series which divides the total capacitance by 4 and multiplies the voltage rating by 2 to minimize resistance losses, and arc over when connected to a mag loop. Now the cap range is 15pf - 245pf. I might use some gold plated bullet connectors for Lithium RC battery connectors so I can disconect this cap from a big outdoor mag loop when i am not using it. It's the best low resistance connector I can find right now. So I'll share a couple of photos of it in the box and I will likely do something different for a knob, right now it has a slice of pool noodle stuck on for insulative safety, the other bit of noodle in the box is just a spacer. By the way, Santa Clause looks a lot like Jim Glover in regular clothes. Weird huh?
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9/10/18
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I forgot about this map, it's filled in a bit since it was started a good year ago. It also explains why when I am listening to HF most hams are East and North East, and west coast. This map shows BITX operators who put themselves on the map and also shows a sampling of the ham population in general.

Jim KG5FBO has suggested we discuss the emergency procedure guidelines he's working on this Thursday evening, 8/31. I'm thinking this would be a good topic for our Basics Round. I also think that one assigned topic per evening is a reasonable limit, so we can leave time for the more spontaneous discussion which breathes life into a net. So for our Basics Round, I'd like to ask Jim to cover the topics in the emergency procedures document he's working up, and give the rest of us an opportunity to chime in. The opportunity for everyone to pick up some pointers, and for club members to be on the same page, should be valuable.

Thanks for your work on this, Jim.

Revised draft of an emergency communications plan. Please offer any comments and suggestions.

Aeronautical Center Amateur Radio Club
Emergency Communications Plan


The purpose of this is to exchange information and cases of needs.
We will start out on the 2 M repeater that is used by the Mori Technet or it’s backup. Right after an emergency you should monitor the appropriate repeater. After the first day or two try and monitor the repeater every 3 hours starting at 9:00 AM until 9:00 PM. The schedule may change as needed. Any changes should be announced at the scheduled times for at least a day. A link for Mori Technet is https://w5paa.com/?pg=MORITechNet. A link for all of ACARC repeaters is at https://w5paa.com/?pg=repeaters.

In the event that the repeaters are not available, monitor the standard simplex frequencies starting with 146.550, then 146.580, 146.490, and 146 460 on the same schedule. Try to stay clear of the standard calling frequency of 146.520.

If the repeaters are down, it would be good for someone with a base antenna to reverse the repeaters frequencies, monitor the repeater input frequency and to transmit on the repeater output frequency, the simplex frequency that the Club is on. Most 2 M rigs have a menu item that will do this. You should also use the maximum power to reach the most people.

If the power is out, you will also be running off either battery or a generator. If you don’t have a way to recharge your batteries, then you will need to really watch your power consumption. It is recommended that you keep your transmission time and output power to a minimum.

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This is an interesting site with a lot of information about emergency communications and other topics. Check out the other years presentations as well.
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