The Arkansas QRP Newsletter

NQ5RP AR QRP Club NQ5RP

June 2002

 

AR QRP CLUB UPDATE

Now that summer is getting into full swing and a busy spring is behind me, I find that summer is going to be even busier. It seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week to get in everything that needs to be done and especially those things that I love to do but put them off till the important items are completed. The list never comes to an end!

I am sure that everyone else in the ham community has the same problem around this time of year. With vacations and trips coupled with outside chores and just enjoying the nice weather hamming seems to fall to the wayside a bit.

I have been listening faithfully to the bands in the early morning hours and early evening hours with not much luck. Things just seem very quiet and the signals heard are usually weak and fading, or just plain nonexistent. Even the digital modes are rather slim picking. As a result my log from the home station has dropped off drastically. In the past I have always taken my Icom 706 along in the car and would run CW while driving down the highway or interstate, but, now that I am getting a bit older and the traffic is getting heavier I have decided to leave the rig home and pay attention to my driving. With all the trucks on the road now it is getting to a point where things are getting mighty crowded. I’m sure it’s not because I am getting older.

All in all for me, the hobby has been pretty slow lately and I am hopeful that it will pick up again soon. I miss my CW and Digital operations.

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I looked back in the log the other day, just out of curiosity, to see when we started the net for the club. I was surprised to see that the first net was on August 26, 1996. (I can still remember back that far)

It seems like just yesterday when we got it going and I can clearly remember talking with Jim, KJ5TF about the possibility of a successful net. Well it is has been going along for the past 6 years now and probably is as strong as ever. There are times when the net is weak on check-ins and then again it is to a point that we are about to run out of time. I am extremely impressed with the people on the net that are willing to pinch hit for me when I am gone. I have had excellent results getting subs and I truly appreciate it. But it also shows that QRP Fellowship is alive and well.

If you have the time you might check in and see what it is like. We don’t spend too much time on the net so no one is drawn away from other activities that are important to them or their family. But we do manage to remain in contact and it allows us to bring the group up to date with all the things happening in our lives.

The net operates on 3.560 MHz every Monday at 0030 UTC during Daylight Savings Time and 00130 UTC Standard Time. We try to spend only a half-hour with the net then end it so we can all get back to our families or TV or whatever.

 

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WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS

I would like to welcome two new members that have joined since the last newsletter was posted: Chris, NV9Z – IN.; Jim, AE4DT – GA

Currently we have the following states represented in the AR QRP Club: AL., AR., AK, AZ., CA., CO., DE. FL., GA., ID., HI., IL., IN., KS., KY., LA., MA., MD., ME., MI., MO., MN., MS., MT., NY., N.C., NH., NJ., NM., NY., OH., OK., OR., PA., SC., SD., TN., TX., UT., VA., WA., WI., & W.Va. If my count is correct it comes to 43 states.

The elusive states that we need for WAS are: Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont & Wyoming.

WE ARE STILL TRYING FOR ALL 50 !!!

(And have been for a long, long time)

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Operating QRP Digital?

The following articles were taken from the W2HOS Newsletter, Jim’s Gazette

The following message from Peter Martinez G3PLX was posted on the PSK31 Mailing List at http://bipt106.bi.ehu.es/psk31/threads.html >From Peter G3PLX.

This is strictly-speaking off-topic, but the subject potentially affects ALL narrow-band digital modes, and that includes PSK31, RTTY, Pactor 1, Pactor 2, and I will include CW too just for completeness.

The company SCS which manufactures the PTC digital mode terminal, and which invented Pactor, has now released the latest Pactor-3 mode, which can be retro-installed into existing PTC-2e hardware, and will be available in new purchases. This new mode is much wider bandwidth that Pactor-1 or Pactor-2. It can be up to 2.4 kHz wide, so that makes it as wide as an SSB emission. If mode-3 is enabled in two Pactor-equipped stations, one Pactor station calling the other on a channel which is 500Hz wide with other QSOs either side, could switch without warning to 2.4 kHz wide, WITHOUT CHECKING THAT THE ADJACENT CHANNELS ARE CLEAR. It is therefore very important that PT3 is ONLY used on channels, which are 2.4 kHz wide before the QSO starts.

The present worldwide bandplans do not distinguish between digital modes of different widths, they just say that all digital modes should operate in specific bands. I have informed RSGB about the latest developments, and asked them to inform IARU and debate this urgently at the next IARU meeting. If nothing is done to change the bandplans, there will be a great potential for conflict. I believe that the intention of the bandplans has always been to keep modes of different widths separate, and that this intention has always been met in the past, but only because digital modes were always narrow-band.

Now that there will be wide digital modes, I think we need to change the way the bandplan is worded, so that we CONTINUE to separate wide and narrow modes. THIS MEANS PUTTING PT3 HIGHER IN THE BAND THAN THE PRESENT NAARROW-BAND DIGITAL MODES. In fact on the popular amateur bands, 80, 40, 20, this can be done without a change, at least it can in the region 1 IARU bandplan, because the sections 3600-3620, 7040-7045, and 14101-14112 are already shared between digital modes and SSB.

I would therefore ask anyone who receives this reflector to copy this message to other discussion groups, especially those concerned with all narrow-band amateur modes including PSK31, RTTY, Pactor, and CW, with the intention to agree that ALL Pactor-3 activity should be inside the sections of the bands that I have shown above, and certainly NOT below 3600, 7040, and 14100 where narrow-band modes are normally used. In the case of 10MHz, it is well known that this is a shared band and the IARU bandplan prohibits SSB because of this. PT3 should therefore also be prohibited on this band. This may all change in September if there is some IARU resolution agreed at the next IARU region 1 meeting.

73 Peter

 

 

Aside from those brief notes, this is a single-issue issue of the newsletter. Bear with me as we reluctantly open Pandora's Box and take yet another grudging look at Pactor III and its ramifications. (If I had a choice I'd rather review a book about 'How To Lose Ten Pounds Working 160 meter DX' or 'How to Win Friends and Influence People With HF Packet - if someone would only write them!).

Be that as it may, the newest iteration of Pactor is now released. This software can be run on most if not all of the SCS modems and the signal will soon be visible to more and more CW and RTTY operators around the world. This is indeed time to take a look, and I want to do so from a purely personal standpoint - what it means to me as a plain vanilla digital ham. I'll ignore the opinions of the multiple Emails, the movers and shakers, the FCC, the ARRL, the IRU and focus on me and my small corner of the spectrum. There is no more appropriate way to view the problem!

There are some things I know for sure. The signal does move a lot of traffic in very short order. Even if the test claims on the SCS website are somewhat overstated, which may or may not be the case, the product outshines most other options available to the MBO operator. But, as is always the case, there are tradeoffs when it comes to signal content. All high-volume HF modes share the same shortcoming. It's called BANDWIDTH, which increases in direct proportion to the increased data transmitted. And, to me, this is the gut issue regarding this latest development.

Pactor III uses a big chunk our precious bands, for its signal stretches to over 2kHz. Please conjure up your own image of what such a signal means to your operation on the digital or CW bands; try to estimate how far up and down the band the MBOs will need to spread out in order to avoid serious QRM if MBOs try to operate within restricted frequencies, and then try to guess the final impact of this mode and its voracious demand for space.

I've reflected on my own recent experience, and I admit to being a bit depressed at the thought. There has been for some time a reasonably effective gentlemen’s agreement between the MBO's and the PSK crowd. The narrow space used by PSK on 15 meters, where I spend most of my radio time, has been mostly free of MBO traffic. Oh, don't misunderstand me. You can see the Pactor traces both above and below the PSK space so their scan frequencies are very close indeed. But they are over there and I operate here, for the most part, without being swamped by their much stronger, wider signal. It happens on occasion, I merely swear a bit, move elsewhere and quickly outgrow the irritation.

In a few weeks or months from now, though, I'll fire up the computer and rig and view what happens when the trace turns out to be Pactor III instead of one of the narrower, earlier, friendlier versions. Simple! My PSK space gets blown away by a single signal, is dead and buried if there are two adjacent stations . . . and I will have one helluva time finding an empty slot to renew any kind of on-air activity or to find a fellow survivor because there is no 'elsewhere' left. And that's when I begin to get emotional about the subject. At that point, and it will apparently arrive sooner than later, I begin to think about how to slay the dragon infesting my turf. And I will be joined by many, many others.

I am not a lawyer and don't wish to delve into the intricacies of whether or not Pactor III is a legal mode for amateur service, whether or not the mode has been documented for the communication authorities, whether or not it is legal to page a scanning MBO without identifying the station calling, whether or not the automatic response of the MBO which interferes with an ongoing digital QSO is legal, whether or not it is legal to run two or even three Pactor robot MBOs under the same callsign, whether or not a significant percentage of the growing volume of Internet/MBO traffic is legitimate amateur radio traffic and so on ad infinitum. Those questions are for the professionals and not for those, like me, who deal in small signals and low power within our amateur spectrum.

Be that as it may, I then turn to Paragraph 'C' of FCC 97.221. Lawyer or not, there seems to be a clear message here. If I am in error, please let me know.

The paragraph, after outlining frequencies for an 'automatically controlled digital station,' (including 14.095-14.0995 and 14.1005-14.112 MHz), goes on to say that 'A station may be automatically controlled while transmitting a RTTY or data emission types provided that: (1) the station is responding to interrogation by a station under local or remote control; and (2) No transmission from the automatically controlled station occupies a bandwidth of more than 500 Hz.'

I helped lobby for that paragraph way back in 1994 because I felt that the Winlink stations performed yeoman service during Desert Storm (the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq). TG9VT and many others devoted almost full-time effort to move the traffic from the Middle East to the folks back home. They deserved my support and I do not in any way wish to alter my stance. But there is a major difference now.

We were talking then about supporting and believing in an operation that provided an incredibly valuable public service and still fit within the bandwidth limitations and operating characteristics of amateur service. Surely there was some interference to ongoing QSOs for, as a station interrogating TG9VT, even though I checked to make certain the frequency was clear in my neck of the woods, there was no predicting where my signal might go and whether or not a QSO on the other side of the world would be degraded. But, even if it was, the narrow bandwidths deployed made it relatively simple to move over a few Hz to continue the QSO.

Imagine my problem now if my PSK conversation is blown away by a signal that is 70 times wider than the 31Hz PSK signal my 30 watts is transmitting.

There is no recovery. There is no way for these modes to live together. There is no room for Pactor III except in the 14.105-14.112 space. They are welcome to it. Be my guest!

73 de Jim N2HOS: GAZETTE at www.n2hos.com/digital

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IF YOU HAVE CHANGED ADDRESSES, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT IT IS.

If your e-mail bounces, I remove you from the mailing list till I hear from you.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TALK UP THE AR QRP CLUB…LET’S MAKE 2002 A BANNER YEAR

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SOME INTERESTING COMMENTS

DARK SUCKER THEORY

Fred w2xn #233

For years, it has been believed that electric bulbs emit light, but recent information has proven otherwise.

Electric bulbs don't emit light; they suck dark. Thus, we call these bulbs "Dark-Suckers."

The Dark-Sucker Theory and the existence of dark-suckers prove that dark has mass and is heavier than light.

First, the basis of the Dark-Sucker Theory is that electric bulbs suck dark. For example, take the Dark-Sucker in the room you are in. There is much less dark right next to it than there is elsewhere. The larger the Dark-Sucker, the greater its capacity to suck dark. Dark-Suckers in the parking lot have a much greater capacity to suck dark than the ones in a room.

As it is with all things, Dark-Suckers don't last forever. Once they are full of dark, they can no longer suck. This is proven by the dark spot on a full Dark-Sucker.

A candle is a primitive Dark-Sucker. A new candle has a white wick. You can see that after the first use, the wick turns black, representing all the dark that has been sucked into it. If you put a pencil next to the wick of an operating candle, it will turn black. This is because it got in the way of the dark flowing into the candle. One of the disadvantages of these primitive Dark-Suckers is their limited range.

There are also portable Dark-Suckers. In these, the bulbs can't handle all the dark by themselves and must be aided by a Dark Storage Unit. When the Dark Storage Unit is full, it must be either emptied or replaced before the portable Dark-Sucker can operate again.

Dark has mass. When dark goes into a Dark-Sucker, friction from the mass generates heat. Thus, it is not wise to touch an operating Dark-Sucker. Candles present a special problem as the mass must travel into a solid wick instead of through clear glass. This generates a great amount of heat and therefore it's not wise to touch an operating candle-type Dark-Sucker.

Also, dark is heavier than light. If you were to swim just below the surface of the lake, you would see a lot of light. If you were to slowly swim deeper and deeper, you would notice it getting darker and darker. When you get really deep, you would be in total darkness. This is because the heavier dark sinks to the bottom of the lake and the lighter light floats at the top. This is why it is called light.

Finally, we must prove that dark is faster than light. If you were to stand in a lit room in front of a closed, dark closet, and slowly opened the closet door, you would see the light slowly enter the closet. But since dark is so fast, you would not be able to see the dark leave the closet.

Next time you see what is called an "electric bulb", remember that it is really a "Dark-Sucker."

 

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UPCOMING CONTEST

ARRL Field Day - June 23-24. A great place to get a QRP Station going.

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*** Keep in mind, I can always use articles for the newsletter.***

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A FINAL NOTE

I plan on changing the method of acquiring member profiles. Rather than sending out a request I am just offering a standing offer, I will be happy to receive anyone’s profile for the newsletter whenever you send it to me. As usual, I will edit it if necessary and see to it that it gets in the newsletter. If I do receive more than I can handle for the current newsletter I will just hold it till the next letter is due.

IT WILL GET PRINTED IF I RECEIVE IT.

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NET SCHEDULE

The schedule for the AR QRP net is:

CW Net Monday (0130 Z Tues.) 3.560 MHz. (7:30 PM CST…6:30PM CDST)

I am also encouraging you to participate in some of the other nets that are functioning for the QRP Community

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72/73, listen for NQ5RP

Also

Watch for it on CW, PSK31, MFSK, HELL & RTTY

Bob, N9ZZ - AR QRP #1 E-Mail: n9zz@cox-internet.com

bschll@yahoo.com