PCARA
POLK COUNTY AMATEUR RADIO ASSOCIATION
PCARA
Archives of the N9XH.org Front Page
2014
From 1945 to Modern Tube Design - NØXC and KC9ROI
n0xc
Photo: Mike KC9JIK
December 13, 2014 - Steve NØXC and his son Ben KC9ROI brought two very interesting items with them to the December meeting. Steve is holding a 1945 Chelsea 6" Marine Mechanical Radio Room Clock and Ben is holding a home-brew guitar amplifier he recently built.
Field Day! de N9XH 2A WI
N9XH Field Day site campers
Photos: Rick W9WS
June 28, 2014 - The encampment set up by members of the PCARA is shown above. The club call N9XH was used during the 24 hour event. Two transmitters on emergency power were set up by Bill K9WEN and Dan KB9OBF. Additional help was provided by Rick W9WS.
Bill K9WEN at the controls during Field Day 2014.
June 28, 2014 - Bill K9WEN is at the controls during Field Day 2014. The annual event is a fun way to operate radio equipment from a remote location. This year the club set up near their repeater tower site in Balsam Lake.
Dipole antenna, N9XH Field Day 2014
June 28, 2014 - A multi band dipole was erected as well as a multi band vertical. Strong thunderstorms blew through on Saturday night forcing the operators off the air for about an hour until the danger passed.
20 meter station, N9XH FD2014
June 28, 2014 - The 20 meter station is shown above. Computer logging kept the duplicate contacts in check while maintaining an organized log for submission.
 
Coax Attenuation Program - Greg N9CHA
Greg N9CHA brought several types of coax to demonstrate the attenuation factors based on type and frequency.
June 14, 2014 - Demonstrating why different types of coax are used by amateurs, Greg N9CHA brought several manufactures and types of feed lines commonly used to the June PCARA club meeting. From semi-rigid to 7/8" Heliax, Greg showed how and when to use each variety.
N9CHA demonstes how coax can attenuate radio signals based on length, type and frequency.
June 14, 2014 - Greg N9CHA presented a program at the June PCARA club meeting about how RF signals are attenuated by coax. Using a transceiver and service monitor, Greg introduced several types of coax and measured the effects. While most all 50 ohm coax can be used with good results under 30 MHz, it gets a bit more critical at higher frequencies.
 
N9XH Repeaters Get Upgrades
Len N9QIP climbed the N9XH tower and installed a new UHF repeater antenna and remote link beams
Photo: Rick W9WS
May 15, 2014 - Len N9QIP climbed the tower in Balsam Lake which supports the N9XH repeater and packet radio systems. A new UHF repeater antenna and coax was mounted along with a beam antenna for linking the Barron County system to Polk County. Len is a professional tower climber and installer from Arlington, WI. His benevolent contribution of his expertise enables our club to enjoy the repeaters we put on the air.
Len N9QIP and Mike assemble the clamp used to mount the stand-off mount to the UHF antenna
Photo: Rick W9WS
May 15, 2014 - The clamps which mount the antenna to the stand-off are attached on the ground so the assembly can be hoisted as a unit. Len explained that the use of galvanized hardware is best for tower work. Stainless hardware actually rusts because most of it is poorly made today. He proved his point later when he remounted a beam antenna that had stainless hardware. The the stainless U-bolt broke and had to be replaced.
Bill K9WEN moves the DB-404 antenna into position for the lift on the tower
Photo: Greg N9CHA
May 15, 2014 - Bill K9WEN (left) and Chris KC9NVV attached the DB-404 UHF repeater antenna to the lifting rope and attached a tag line. They guided the antenna as it was hoisted into position. Len N9QIP then mounted the antenna near the top of the tower.
N9XH DB-404 antenna being raised for installation
Photo: Rick W9WS
May 15, 2014 - The club's DB-404 UHF repeater antenna is being raised for installation. A stand-off is mounted to the bottom of the antenna which in turn was fastened to the tower. The new antenna allows users to access the repeater and IRLP functions with better signal strength.
Mike operates the winch to lift the new antenna
Photo: Rick W9WS
May 15, 2014 - Mike KB9RBL operated the winch to lift the feed lines and antennas. He and Len work well together by anticipating each others movements. The precision is necessary since safety is the primary goal when doing tower work.
Chris KC9NVV and Bill K9WEN manage the tag line for the antenna and the feed line durring the lift
Photo: Kirk KD9AKU
May 15, 2014 - Chris KC9NVV (left) and Bill K9WEN handle the tag line for the antenna and the feed line during the lift. By keeping the lines separated during the lift, Len was able to control the antenna and get it mounted.
Chuck WD9GWG, Bill K9WEN, Kirk KD9AKU, Chris KC9NVV, Rick W9WS assisted the tower crew during the antenna installation
Photo: Greg N9CHA
May 15, 2014 - PCARA members, l to r, Chuck WD9GWG, Bill K9WEN, Kirk KD9AKU, Chris KC9NVV, and Rick W9WS volunteered to support the tower crew during the antenna installation. It took about 5 hours of work to assemble, lift and mount the new UHF repeater antenna, UHF link beam and feed line on the tower. The rain stayed away for the most part and temps were in the low 50's with calm winds.
 
Chuck WD9GWG Officially Recognized as Polk County EC
Chuck WD9GWG received his Emergency Coordinators certificate from DEC Chris KC9NVV
Photo: Rick W9WS
May 10, 2014 - Chuck WD9GWG was presented with his ARRL Emergency Coordinator certificate by Chris KC9NVV, DEC for Northwest Wisconsin. Chuck has taken on the position since the SET of October 2013. He is working with fellow club members to provide communication services to Polk County during times of emergencies. Chuck is a Founding Member of the PCARA.
 
Antenna Tuners and Matching Networks Explained - Dale W9DKB
Dale W9DKB explains antenna tuners and matching networks
Photos: Rick W9WS
May 10, 2014 - Dale W9DKB provided an excellent program during the May club meeting explaining antenna tuners and matching networks. His presentation included examples of baluns and tuners both home-brew and commercial. He used his experience with operating QRP and making antennas function in less than ideal circumstances to explain the transfer of RF energy. Through study, trial and error and burning up a few inductors, Dale has both a theoretical and practical knowledge of the subject which he shared with his fellow club members.
Dale W9DKB holds up a homebrew balun wound on a toroidal core and housed in a pill bottle
May 10, 2014 - Holding up a home-brew balun, Dale W9DKB explained the virtues of pill bottles as housings for small matching networks like this. Antenna systems including the methods used to transfer energy from the transmitter to the antenna was explained by Dale during the May club meeting. With Field Day on the horizon, portable antennas and tuners will be used extensively.
 
NA1SS de NRØT - Hidden Oaks Middle School - CONTACT!
NA1SS de NR0T Hidden Oaks Middle School
Photos: Rick W9WS
May 1, 2014 - Rolf NRØT takes the microphone and begins calling the International Space Station from the Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake, MN. Coming up over the southwest horizon, Astronaut Koichi Wakata answered back on the first call. 14 students crossed the stage and asked their questions. Technical support was supplied by members of the PCARA.
Listen to the Contact!
 
Students from Hidden Oaks Middle School lined up to ask questions of Astronaut Wakata
May 1, 2014 - Students line up and look over their questions. Each of the 14 students were selected after submitting their questions to their teachers.
Student audience nubered over 900
May 1, 2014 - Over 900 students, teachers and invited guests witnessed the ARISS contact. Sitting with anticipation, all were quiet during the contact. After the last question was asked, the entire student body sent their best wishes to Astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Science Teacher Becky Stark smiles with pride after the ARISS contact
May 1, 2014 - Hidden Oaks Middle School Science Teacher Becky Stark beams with joy after the contact. She and her fellow teachers worked for months to organize the once-in-a-lifetime event for their students. Ms. Stark is an avid NASA fan and has worked with the agency on several projects including the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program.
ARISS Radio Crew: Greg N9CHA, Ben KC9ROI, Chris KC9NVV, Steve N0XC
May 1, 2014 - The ARISS radio crew are all members of the Polk County Amateur Radio Association. R to L are ARISS Technical Mentor Greg N9CHA, Ben KC9ROI, Chris KC9NVV and Steve NØXC. Rick W9WS and Eric K9LGE also supported control operator Rolf NRØT to make the contact come off smoothly. Downlink signals were very strong. Greg switched between two different beam antennas to select the best signal at any given time.
Hidden Oaks Students, Teachers and Amateur Radio Crew
May 1, 2014 - Students, teachers and amateur radio crew pose for a celebration photo after the successful contact with Astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Becky Stark, Hidden Oaks Middle School Science Teacher
May 1, 2014 - Becky Stark, Hidden Oaks Middle School Science Teacher worked with ARISS Technical Mentor, John AG9D to make the direct contact possible. An application process is required which is reviewed by NASA. Becky's enthusiasm and high spirits raised the crowds expectations prior to the contact. The PCARA members and control operator Rolf NRØT caught her passion and did everything they could to be sure the ground station was installed and tested. High winds and cold rain were quickly forgotten when Astronaut Koichi Wakata's voiced boomed over the PA!
 
Hidden Oaks Middle School - Ready For ISS QSO - de NRØT
Hidden Oaks ARISS - Antenna installation crew
Photos: Rick W9WS
April 26, 2014 - Rolf NRØT (red jacket), teachers, and club members of the PCARA are helping to support a regional ARISS contact. The "roof" crew is pictured above after completing the setup of both the Az/El antennas and a vertical. The school is located in Prior Lake, MN and scheduled to contact the Space Station at 11:28 am local time Thursday, May 1st, on 145.80 MHz.
AzEl antenna install
April 26, 2014 - Several teachers from Hidden Oaks Middle School pitched in to help install the antennas. A cool wind chilled hands but the excitement of the project kept everyone warm. The crew worked for about an hour on the roof of the school. Coax and rotor control lines were run from the gymnasium up through a mechanical room stairwell and onto the roof. A clear view to the horizon in all directions makes this an ideal spot for an ARISS contact.
Antennas
April 26, 2014 - Two cross-element yagi antennas are mounted to the elevation rotor. One is a 7x7 circular polarized M2 antenna, the other is a Cushcraft 10x10 linear polarized design. Mast mounted pre-amps and a coaxial relay is mounted to the vertical mast. The back up antenna is a Diamond X50 vertical. Water softener salt pellet bags are used as ballast to hold down the tripods. Severe weather is expected in the Prior Lake area early in the week. Rain is forecast for contact day, Thursday. Even through everything is weatherproof, the pre-amps and coaxial relay were removed. The elevation rotor was lowered on the mast, and the vertical was disassembled in preparation for the unruly weather. It should take the crew about a half hour to restore the equipment for use.
Setup crew after everything was checked and rechecked
April 26, 2014 - The setup crew poses for a photo on the portable staging to be used during the contact. The Middle School students will walk across the stage and meet with Rolf NRØT to ask their question of Astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the ISS. The gym will be packed with over 900 students, teachers, parents and VIP's.
Radio equipment for Hidden Oaks ARISS contact
April 26, 2014 - The primary and backup transceivers are Kenwood TS-2000's which have 100 watt transmitters on VHF. The tracking control software is Nova running an ST-1 computer interface to the Yaesu Az El controller. A Shure FP33 audio mixer distributes the local microphone audio to a digital audio recorder, a laptop for Skype audio, and a portable PA. Backup batteries are in place to supply power just in case of a power outage.
Greg N9CHA climbs onto the school roof
April 26, 2014 - Greg N9CHA climbs onto the school roof to help install the antennas. The ARISS program has several volunteer "Technical Mentors" around the globe ready to assist schools and ham clubs with equipment and experience to facilitate contacts. John AG9D of Montgomery, IL is the ARISS Technical Mentor for the Hidden Oaks contact. Greg and his fellow PCARA club members assisted Rolf NRØT, the principle amateur radio operator for the contact with equipment and manpower. With all equipment checked and double checked the crew is ready for the Hidden Oaks students to ask their questions on Thursday, May 1st.
 
HQ-110 Looking & Performing Like New
HQ110_1
Photos: Rick W9WS
March 22, 2014 - Fresh off the tech-bench at Rick's W9WS QTH, this Hammarlund HQ-110 receiver is ready for daily use. Available from the venerable superheterodyne receiver manufacturer since the mid-1950's, this amateur band unit was very popular.
HQ110_2
March 22, 2014 - Rick reports excellent CW receive utilizing the receivers built-in Q-multipier. Stability is also very good. After just an hour of warm-up time Rick experienced much better performance with this unit in comparison to the one he had back in 1967.
HQ110_3
March 22, 2014 - The final assembly after the refurbishment includes a new quartz clock movement, replacing the original motor and gear driven unit. Be sure to ask Rick about his "new" HQ-110 the next time you see him. Perhaps you'll even have the pleasure of working him on HF in the future so that he may hear your signal on this beautiful ham receiver.
 
Ben KC9ROI Reveals K3 to AH4 Interface
KC9ROI AH4-K3 Interface
Photos: Rick W9WS
Mach 8, 2014 - How do you interface an Icom AH4 auto-tuner and the Elecraft K3? A prototype was on display at the March PCARA club meeting. The project developed when Steve NØXC and his son Ben KC9ROI wanted to use the auto-tune control on the K3 to activate their favorite antenna tuner already installed at their QTH. But, there is no interface available. No problem, Ben just decided to invent one! Using the product manuals for both rigs, he found out a pulse system was needed by the AH4 and the serial control of the K3 interfaced using command codes. An Arduino micro controller required custom written code to decipher the pulse system and provide communications to the K3.
K3 - AH4 Interface
March 8, 2014 - The prototype K3 - AH4 interface made by Ben KC9ROI and his father Steve NØXC required a custom circuit board which they laid out using specialized software, followed by their etching a glass-epoxy board. Version 1.0 is shown above, however a 2nd version is already being planned to incorporate additional features. The keyed buttons allow for easy interface to multiple functions.
 
"Birkie" Success Due In Part To Ham Radio Communications
Birkie2014_05
Photos: Skip W9JRW
February 22, 2014 - The lead group of Elite racers approaching "Rosie's Field" about 5.6K from the finish line in Hayward. Skip W9JRW captured the following photos from his vantage point. A snowmobile leads the way, equipped with a video camera, sent live shots along the trail which were viewed on the internet.
Birkie2014_04
February 22, 2014 - Skip W9JRW communicated with net control, relaying bib numbers of those who were not able to continue. He also kept race officials up to date with the location of the lead racers as they passed his position at Rosie's Field. His was the last EMT/Food Station before the participants arrived in downtown Hayward.
Birkie2014_05
February 22, 2014 - Skip's son-in-law Ben participated in the Birkie as well this year. Several years ago, Ben asked Skip for his daughters hand in marriage... as he was skiing past in a former race! Pretty good tactics from Ben, sure wish he was a ham!
Birkie aid station
Photos: Rick W9WS
February 22, 2014 - The 41st annual American Birkebeiner (Birkie) took place on a well groomed course from Cable to Hayward, WI. Over 10,300 cross-country skiers participated. The temperatures started out below 0° and only climbed to 20° throughout the day. Wind gusts over 15 mph faced the frigid skiers. Amateur radio operators from the surrounding area helped to support the International event with communications.
Birkie skiers leaving Powerline aid station
February 22, 2104 - Ham radio communications was organized by Chris KC9NVV who also manned the net control station in Hayward. Wally N9VAO assisted with the net duties. Others involved included Tom KC9RIK, Rick W9WS, Dwight AG9G, Ron W9RMA, Aaron KC9QQC, Greg W9GDH, Steve WAØOAT, Ron W9JRW, and Lynn KC9LLM.
Birkie
February 22, 2014 - The hams were positioned along the course at the aid stations and were responsible for logistical communications including aid station supplies, ski patrol assistance, and reporting skiers who dropped out. The team used the WeComm repeater (147.075) located at Meteor Hill, some 20 to 30 miles away for primary traffic and simplex as relay and cross-band.
 
Ham Classes Offered by SCVRA
February 19, 2014 - Do you know someone looking to get their ham ticket? Our friends in St. Croix County are offering their weekend ham radio class on March 28-30. Friday, Saturday and Sunday course work is designed to prepare the student for an on-site VE testing session Sunday afternoon. The classes are being held at the Warren Township Hall just outside Roberts, WI.
 
Barron County Repeater - KC9NVV 146.715 On Air
Barron County Repeater installation crew, Greg N9CHA, Chris KC9NVV, Rick W9WS
Photos: Rick W9WS
January 6, 2014 - The Barron County repeater was put back on the air today. Outside air temperature? Somewhere around -27 degrees. However, inside the Poskin tower shack, it was a balmy 68. Shown above are Greg N9CHA, Chris KC9NVV, and Rick W9WS who braved the cold temps. The frequency is 146.715 -600 pl 110.9. PCARA club members got behind this project in hopes Barron County hams may once again reorganize and develop their own ARES/RACES and Skywarn groups. In the near future both the Polk County repeater and the Barron County repeater will be linked. A bit warmer temperatures are needed to complete a tower climb in Balsam Lake.
Barron County Repeater
January 6, 2013 - The Barron County repeater equipment is housed in a professional radio shack at the base of the tower, including full power backup. The repeater is a Motorola MS-5000, CAT-250 controller and an Alinco DR-435 link transceiver. The filters are made by RX/TX.
Grounding
January 6, 2013 - Grounding is extremely important. Chris is attaching the two ground wires added to this buss. One wire goes to the repeater cabinet, the other to the duplexer. Everything in this repeater shack is grounded, including the door, door frame, HVAC unit, etc.
Tower
January 6, 2014 - Looking up the tower at the Barron County site near Poskin. The Barron County repeater antenna is mounted at the 260' point. As a part of the initial installation, amateur radio was considered from the start. The repeater was located near Rice Lake for several years until the current upgrade and relocation.
 
Happy New Year!
January 1, 2014 - The New Year's Net was hosted on the N9XH two-meter repeater by our club's Net Control Manager, Mark W9GWG at 00:01 CST. The following hams checked in and wished each other a prosperous New Year: Paul KB9PDX, Chris KC9NVV, Carlos N9GIM, Greg N9CHA and Russell KCØIVL.
 
PCARA Club Leadership - 2014 Officers
PCARA Leadership Team 2014
December 14, 2013 - The results from the 2014 election are in! Your 2014 club leadership team includes: President Rick W9WS, Vice President Mark W9GWG, Treasurer Chris KC9NVV and Secretary Greg N9CHA. A special thanks to outgoing Secretary Mike KK9MC for his service to the club. Also, thanks to Rick, Mark and Chris for stepping up again this year.
 
N9XH - Polk County Amateur Radio Association - 1732 Forest Circle - Balsam Lake - WI - 54810 - Info@N9XH.org