Public Service Events and Utah SAG – Getting Started With Amateur Radio – Basic Topics – 6 JUN 2024

Dan (N7XDL) briefs us on using your radio and building your radio skills through Public Service events and also talks about Utah SAG, an organization devoted to connecting amateur radio volunteers with the organizations that need their services.

Download the slides here:  Public Service Events and Utah SAG

Or view them directly:

Public_Service_Events_and_Utah_SAG

Winlink Deep Dive – Advanced Topics – 9 MAY 2024

We had another Winlink session this week, with a concentration on P2P with packet.  P2P is peer-to-peer, sending messages directly from one Winlink client (i.e. Winlink Express) to another without going through an RMS or the CMS.  Five people brought their equipment this week, and we successfully accomplished P2P message transfers between three of them.

Next month we'll be playing catch up, trying to get everyone up and running with working Winlink accounts, getting RF working, and getting P2P working with both packet and VARA FM.  If you're planning to attend the Advanced Topics class next month, please plan to bring your radio(s), computer or other computing device, and an interface if required (some radio/computer combinations do not require an interface device).  If you need help figuring out what you need, let Jan (KD7ZWV) know or use the Contact Us form.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to haul our gear out into the wild and pass messages with Winlink.  To that end, we want everyone comfortable with the following:

  • Winlink Account Creation
  • Telnet Connections
  • RF Connections to the CMS via an RMS
  • RF Connections P2P with packet
  • RF Connections (to RMS and P2P) with VARA
  • Using Winlink Forms

Being comfortable doesn't mean you are ready to teach someone how to do it, but it does mean that you're able to get your own setup working.  You're encouraged to practice using Winlink often, send messages to each other, take your setup apart and put it back together, and understand the Winlink concepts.  If there are any of these you're uncomfortable with, come to the meeting in June and ask!

Get On The AIR! – Getting Started with Amateur Radio Series – Basic Topics – 2 MAY 2024

The fifth session of the Getting Started With Amateur Radio series, this session covers actually getting on the air... that includes things like finding frequencies, nets, repeaters, and other amateurs in your area, getting your radio set up, and the most dreaded first you will ever experience as an amateur radio operator:  pushing the PTT button for the first time!

Download the slides here:  Get On The AIR!

Or look at them right on the site below.

04_Get_on_the_AIR

Repeater Status – MARC Repeater is OFFLINE

Until further notice, the MARC repeater (223.960 MHz, standard load channel 27) is OFFLINE.

A few weeks ago, the repeater failed with a "PA FAIL" indicator.  At the time, we were able to bring the repeater back online, but a week later it failed again in the same way.  MARC members pulled the repeater from the rack and had it examined by a local repeater tech, who identified a blown cap in the finals.  The cap was replaced and the repeater is once again functional... HOWEVER:

When reinstalling the repeater, some additional testing on the feedline and antenna configuration took place.  You may recall that when the repeater was initially installed, we had a length of Heliax cable donated to the club, but the cable was not long enough to reach all the way from the antenna to the repeater.  The final 70 feet or so was bridged with LMR-400 cable.  Analysis of the installation showed that the feedline and antenna is presenting an SWR of 1.6:1.  With the repeater pushing 35W of power up the cable, this results in a reflection of about 4W of power back into the repeater's output finals.

While many repeaters would be able to handle this, the Quantar repeater we have appears to be extra sensitive to this type of SWR condition.  We need to replace the coax with a continuous length of Heliax cable and retune the antenna in situ (on the tower).  We have chosen to make plans to do this BEFORE putting the repeater back online.

We have identified a source for the cable we need, but it is quite expensive.  In addition, installation of the new cable will require someone climbing the tower, and Murray City (the owners of the tower) require that this be done by a professional tower crew for insurance purposes.  We have brought the requirements and numbers to our contact with the fire department and the city is currently working on providing the funds required.  Unfortunately, this may need to wait for the next budget year (which starts in June).

For now, we will continue using the 223.440 simplex frequency (standard load channel 29) for our Sunday evening nets, and we are also exploring other options for temporary use.  Stay tuned to this post for more details as they become available.

Winlink Workshop – Advanced Topics – 11 APR 2024

This week we continued our 2024 advanced topics program with a Winlink workshop.  Last month, we introduced Winlink and got people set up with the software, got Winlink accounts created, and made connections using "Telnet" protocol.  This month our focus was on getting people working with RF!  We had about ten folks show up with computers, radios, and interfaces and got most of them going on VHF, using both the Crossroads club's gateway (K7XRD-10) and West Valley City's gateway (N7WVC-10).

Next month we'll continue the process of getting everyone working on RF, and we'll experiment with P2P and other techniques.  If you're just getting started with Winlink, we'll help you get going from the ground up.  If you've had Winlink for a while but not used it much, we'll show you some things you can do.  If you're having trouble getting Winlink to work with your radio, bring it to the meeting and we'll help you get it running and working.

Programming Your Radio – Getting Started With Amateur Radio Series – Basic Topics – 21 MAR 2024 and 4 APR 2024

The fourth session of the Getting Started With Amateur Radio series, this session covers programming your radio.  We start with talking about various settings and configuration options, diving into detail on what each of the options are and why you would choose one setting over another.  We continue with a discussion of programming in frequencies (and where to find the frequencies to program in).  Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we got into the demos, so we'll continue this session next time, which will be April 4th, 2024.

We continued with a discussion of programming the radio's VFO (Variable Frequency Oscillator) manually from the front panel and saving that information into a memory, then covered programming via software with the manufacturer's software, CHIRP, and RT Systems.

Here's the video from the second session:

Download the slide deck here:  Programming Your Radio

Or view the slides right now:

03_Programming_Your_Radio

What to Do When Disaster Strikes – General Meeting – 7 MAR 2024

Dan (N7XDL) relates his experiences surviving a 7.5 and 7.4 earthquake in Chile and talks about what we should do to be ready to help ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities when the "Big One" hits Utah. MARC welcomed the Salt Lake Crossroads club, who joined us for the briefing.

Download the slides here:  What to Do When Disaster Strikes

Or view them right now:

What-to-do-when-disaster-strikes

EchoLink and the MARC Repeater – Advanced Topics – 15 Feb 2024

Jan (KD7ZWV) introduced the MARC repeater and talked about the need to provide some type of wide area connectivity into the repeater for MARC members (and others).  He covers repeater linking, both RF and Internet based, and moves on to the solution that MARC is exploring, EchoLink.  EchoLink is introduced and we discuss how to get an EchoLink account, including getting your license validated. Finally, EchoLink configuration is covered.  Jeff (KL7KVG) continues with a discussion of the EchoLink for Android application and then talks about the EchoLink node that he has built as a proof of concept for the MARC repeater.  Finally, we observe a demo of the EchoLink software connecting to the MARC repeater using the node Jeff built, which was on display in the meeting room.

Slides are available here:  EchoLink and the MARC Repeater

Or view them immediately:

EchoLink_and_the_MARC_Repeater

Additional notes:

  1. This project is NOT complete... Jeff detailed a few things that we still want to do, including
    1. Registering N7MRY-R as an EchoLink node
    2. Installing the node at a location other than Jeff's dining room table
    3. Not hogging up Jeff's portable computer (dedicating some hardware to the node)
    4. Tweaking and adjusting parameters to improve the functionality of the node
    5. Configuring outbound connectivity from the node (i.e. DTMF control)
    6. and whatever else we think it needs to be a solid addition to MARC's repeater setup
  2. We had some previous classes that covered repeater linking, including IRLP and EchoLink
    1. April 8th, 2021, Radio Linking via Internet IRLP and EchoLink
    2. October 14th, 2021, we had a joint meeting with the Taylorsville club on IRLP and EchoLink presented by Doug (AD7LO).  This meeting was carried on the Taylorsville Zoom and we were unable to record it.  I believe the slides are the same as recently presented to the Taylorsville club and can be found here:  Doug's IRLP and EchoLink Slide Deck
  3. As mentioned during the meeting, our prototype is not online all of the time... Jeff will be facilitating experimentation with it by bringing the node up about an hour before our Sunday net and leaving it up for about an hour afterwards.  If you want to experiment with EchoLink and the MARC repeater, this will be an excellent opportunity for you to try it out.  Get the software installed, get your EchoLink account set up and validated, and be ready to try it out this Sunday beginning around 7:00 PM until about 9:30 PM.

The Farnsworth .62 Repeater – General Meeting with UARC – 8 FEB 2024

The four of us from MARC who attended the UARC meeting tonight learned a lot about the "Farnsworth" .62 repeater.  Clint (KA7OEI), the repeater manager for UARC, started with a brief history of the .62 machine, including some unique aspects related to its installation at the Fox 13 transmitter site.  He then delved into ways to extend the coverage of a repeater by linking multiple repeaters together.  Of course, the best example of this in Utah is the Intermountain Intertie, a linked repeater system that covers most of the state, with branches into Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona.  The drawback to such a system is that each repeater needs to be on a different frequency.  This led to a discussion of the .62's setup, with a master repeater on Farnsworth peak and a secondary repeater on Scott's.  These two repeaters operate on the same frequency, using only one frequency pair for extremely wide coverage.

UARC has posted the recording of the meeting on their Youtube channel, and I'll include it here.  If you're curious how this system works, check it out.  At the end of the presentation, there was also some discussion about direction finding and how to deal with abusive use of the amateur frequencies, which was also quite interesting and may be the subject of a future UARC talk.