General Class starting November 5th, 2020

Roland K3RA is starting a General Class course on Zoom beginning Thursday, November 5, and running for 9 sessions. Due to holiday breaks, the course ends January 21. Sessions will start at 6:30 Easter Standard Time (2330 UTC), and run 3 hours. No charge, of course. These are the classes sponsored by the National Electronics Museum that we have been holding for years. Please publicize this with anyone you know whom you think would be interested. Those wishing to sign up should email Roland at roland.anders@comcast.net.

Easy Points for Field Day

It’s not a contest, I know, I know, but everyone wants to get as many points as they can on Field Day.  Here are some easy points you can rack up without trying hard:

100 points for a formal message to your ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator:  It has to be in the form of a standard ARRL Radiogram and transmitted using the radio (no Internet).  The easy way to do this is send a radiogram using WINLINK to kk4bfn@arrl.net or k4hbn@arrl.net  (7.3.5)

100 points for copying the W1AW Field Day Bulletin.  The schedule for the broadcast is at: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2020/4_37-2020%20W1AW%20Sked.pdf (7.3.9):  

100 points per transmitter if you are running off of emergency power (if you are operating from your home station that means you are running as a E class not a D class) (7.3.1)

50 points for turning in your entry via the web app at: https://field-day.arrl.org/fdentry.php (7.3.14)

And remember to get your power multiplier.  A 100watt station gets a power multiplier of 2 (7.2.4)

It is a good idea to look over the rules at: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2020/1_61-2020%20Rules.pdf to see if there are any other rules that might influence how you operate your station.

If you need help/advise during the event, try calling on the 147.030 repeater

So good luck, be safe and have a great time

73

Tuning Tips for SSB

Tuning Tips for SSB

Stan, K4SBZ

Here are a few random tips for tuning in stations on SSB during Field Day (and during contests). They do not apply to other modes.

Precision. Most stations operate on even multiples of .25 MHz. For example, 14241.000, 14241.25, 14241.50, 14241.75, 14242.00. Some spotting stations will erroneously spot at 14241.1 or 14241.6.  .25 and .75 are problems with the DX Cluster. The only report to one decimal place, therefore, they report as .20, .30 .06 or .08. Follow the spot and then correct to the proper frequency or you will be 10 kHz off. (Sometimes stations do try to squeeze in between the .25 frequencies, especially operators that are accustomed to other modes.)

Tuning Step. If your receiver has a tuning step, set it to .05 (50 kHz). Setting it to .100 will make it impossible to tune the .25 and .75 stations precisely. Setting it to .01 will make tuning slow and is unnecessary.

Tuning Upper/Lower Sidebands. Stations operating above 10 MHz will normally use upper sideband (USB); stations below use lower sideband (LSB). When tuning through a band, it is usually easier to tune in stations as you approach them from their operating frequency in the direction of the sideband. For example, approach a station on 7.214 from the upper side down his operating frequency (7.214.2, 7.214.15, 7.214.10, 7.214.05 and stop at 7.214.0). For USB, start low and tune up. 

Automatic Gain Control (AGC). Most radios now have automatic gain control (AGC). For SSB, setting you AGC to medium or slow will give the best results. Try it on a loud (but not blasting) signal to see what you prefer.

Bandwidth. Remember that an SSB signal is 2.7 kHz (2700 Hz.) wide. If you have a bandwidth control/bandpass filter, setting it to 3.0 or 2.7 would be normal. With a crowded band, setting it at 2.0 or even slightly lower will partially suppress stations that are near the one you want to copy. Setting it too narrow will distort the sound.

Understanding the SSB bandwidth will guide you on where to try to transmit if you are in the running mode (calling CQ). You should pick a frequency that won’t interfere with other stations and where other stations won’t interfere with you. If someone is on 7.214 MHz, you shouldn’t get any closer than 7.122 below or 7.216 above the station. If you could go a full 3.0 kHz away from him, you would be giving even more room for your 2.7 kHZ signal. You need, of course, to check that there is enough room on the other side of you so as not to interfere with or be interfered by another nearby station. Bottom line is that you need a 4-6 kHz wide opening where there are no signals. You should then ask, “Is this frequency in use?” at least twice before operating.

Field Day Questions/Tips From Other Club Members


Question from Don (KK4SIH):

Since I will be operating using my callsign (1D/E) should I upload my contacts (QSOs) to LoTW or QRZ etc so that others can claim the contacts for other purposes or do field day contacts not count for other purposes?

Answer from Stan (K4SBZ)

Many people upload Field Day contacts to LoTW, eQSL and QRZ. Although there is no contest, any contacts that you make at any time (Field Day, DXing, ragchewing, etc.) count for certificates such as WAS, Worked All Counties and the CQ WPX Award. 

If you have a good day, you could make WAS in one day on Field Day.

Don’t forget to upload to 3830Scores.com to get a quick look at how you and our club are doing for FD.

Answer from Gerry Gross (WA6POZ)

You can upload your contacts to LOTW since you are operating from home your QTH and grid square have not changed. 

———

Comment from Paul ( KN4TRT) 

Thanks for the nice breakdown discussion in the Field Day Band Forecast.  I just want to point that you missed one of the most important watering holes.  JS8 mode, according to the statistics give at pskreporter.info, is consistently one of the top 4 utilized digital modes.   I have included a list of frequency settings for JS8 in the table below, but as a general rule, the JS8 frequencies are 4 kHz above the FT8 frequencies.

160m:   1.842000 MHz

 80m:   3.578000 MHz

 40m:   7.078000 MHz

 20m:  14.078000 MHz

 15m:  21.078000 MHz

 10m:  28.078000 MHz

   6m:  50.318000 MHz

   2m: 144.178000 MHz

——————

Comment from Mike (N4JEL)

This might be of interest to anyone who wants an information overload. It looks like a club presentation. It is a fat file. The thoughts on which station class to use are helpful.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vSWypTtJ_R0s-UmysOEhQWwJwBlMrOavXqfs5AvigQzad8Z1c3JFn9TMl5ewxc8VVIIX-2g6bOTpUFD/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g774df1657a_0_3

___________

Comment from Austin (KN4YRH)

I would like to have you use these two videos on the site to help introduce ham to others.  This is what I used to get people interested.

—————–

Comment from Don (KK4SIH)

Reminder that our “Club or Group Name” is “Tallahassee ARS” when you submit your scores

The main ARRL Field Day site is at:  http://www.arrl.org/field-day

All of the information that has or will be sent out is located on the club web site at http://k4tlh.net

New to Field Day

It’s Fun! It’s Easy!

Be sure to get on the air for the 2020 ARRL Field Day. It will be fun. It will be easy. Even if you have operated very much HF before. 

Operating in Field Day is similar to operating in a contest. Some say Field Day is a contest, but it is not adjudicated and there are no awards. It is just a demonstration of amateur radio capabilities. 

You don’t have to work DX or any special bands. You can operate on any authorized band, except the WARC bands. All you have to do is work stations with different ARRL or RAC (Canadian) sections. So don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of power or a great antenna. You can still rack up a good score.

The contest is from 1800 UTC (2 pm EDST) Saturday to the same time on Sunday, so you can pick your operating times at your convenience. As mentioned earlier, you can operate on almost any band, so you can operate day or night and choose your band. Just get on and make as many contacts as you can and have some fun!

Don’t forget to join the Club event. It will be great to see TARS listed in QST among the other participants. Just enter Tallahassee ARS (not TARS) as your club and the contest robot will take it from there.

New to Field Day?

Does operating during Field Day sound interesting, but you do know what to do? Never fear. It is easy. Read on.

The Contact

The first thing you have to do is make a contact. There are two ways of doing that: “running” and “search and pounce.” Running is simply sitting on an open frequency and calling CQ. It is the most efficient because the other stations come to you. However, it is for the more experienced contester because you may experience a pile-up with many stations wanting to contact you and that can be stressful to the inexperienced. So, you should probably start out with search and pounce which is just searching for someone else calling CQ. When you find them, listen for a few minutes to get a feel for what others are doing. When you are ready, just give your callsign once, using standard phonetics, and listen to see if they come back to you. If not, try again.

The Exchange

The main thing about making a contact is the exchange. After the other station has come back to you and probably given his exchange, you should give your exchange. For Field Day, it consists of your station class and your ARRL section.

Class. If you are operating from home, you will probably be Class D. This is for home stations operating on commercial power. If you are able to operate from emergency power such as a generator, batteries or solar power, then you would be Class E.  If you can operate portable, then you may be Class B. Check the Field Day rules for details. As part of your class, you also state the total number of transmitters that you have operating. Most of you will be operating just one transmitter, so your class would probably be “1D”.

Section. The ARRL and RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) have divided the two countries into sections. Most states have one section, except for the larger states such as California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and Pennsylvania. The US and Canada combined have 84 sections. Tallahassee is in the North Florida (NFL) section.

So, you would probably say “One Delta, North Florida” for your exchange. And you are done (unless you need to do a repeat). I usually say QSL or Thank You before saying One Delta North Florida. I also usually follow North Florida with its abbreviation, NFL, given phonetically: November Foxtrot Lima.

The other station will respond with “QSL” or “thank you” and go on to make his next contact, by saying either QRZ or CQ. 

So, an example of a Field Day contact might be: 

W1AW:           CQ Field Day CQ Field Day. This is Whiskey One Alpha Whiskey. 
Whiskey One Alpha Whiskey.

K4SBZ:           Kilo Four Sierra Bravo Zulu.

W1AW:           Kilo Four Sierra Bravo Zulu, we are Four Alpha, Connecticut.

K4SBZ:           Thank you, I am One Delta, North Florida, November Foxtrot Lima.

W1AW:           QSL. This is Whiskey One Alpha Whiskey, Q-R-Zed?

Because Field Day is not a formal contest, many operators will also say “73,” “Good luck” or “Have fun,” but generally you should keep it brief.

Log the Contact

Now you log the contact and move on to the next one.

It is that simple!

At The End

Once the contest is over, use your contest logging software to produce a Cabrillo log and email it to the address given in the rules. You should get an email within minutes from the ARRL confirming the receipt of your log or telling you about any errors you may have made. A contest robot reviews your log immediately. You may resubmit your log as often as necessary to correct any errors. 

You may also submit your results to 3830Scores (http://www.3830scores.com/ ) to compare your score with the claimed scores of other participants. The results are almost immediate and totally unofficial. Don’t be discouraged to see that the top guns have a few million points and you have only a couple thousand. They may have 1500 watts, three beams and worked every minute of the event.

Then sit back and wait. The official results take months before they are published, usually in the December issue of QST. The ARRL website often has the unofficial results sooner.

Now that you are an old hand at making contacts, why not try a real contest? WA7BNM’s Contest Calendar (https://www.contestcalendar.com/) shows a new contest almost every weekend. There is also an overview of the next month’s contests in each issue of the TARS newsletter, The Printed Circuit.

HAVE FUN!  JOIN IN!

Field Day Safety Briefing

Field day is a time of excitement for everyone but take some time out to think about safety so that a fun afternoon does not turn into a painful experience.

These are a few ARRL recommended practices for a large gathering but they are still valid if you are just working from your home station or out in your yard.  Make sure that:

  • Fuel for generator properly stored.
  • Fire extinguisher on hand and appropriately located.
  • First Aid kit on hand. First Aid – CPR – AED trained participant/s on site.
  • Access to NWS alerts to monitor for inclement weather.
  • Tent stakes properly installed and marked.
  • Temporary antenna structures properly secured and marked.
  • Site secured from tripping hazards.
  • Site is set up in a neat and orderly manner to reduce hazards.
  • Stations and equipment properly grounded.
  • Access to a means to contact police/fire/rescue.
  • Minimize risks and control hazards to ensure no injuries to public.
  • Monitoring participants for hydration and ensure an adequate water supply is available.

In addition since we are in Florida and it is summer:

  • It is going to be hot – make sure you drink lots of water
  • The sun is bright  – If you are in the sun put on sunscreen
  • Be wary of lightning – Disconnect your radios when it is close, or not so close
  • There are going to be critters about – make sure you watch for pesky fire ants, mosquitos and other creepy crawlies 

Field Day Band Forecast

by Stan Zawrotny, K4SBZ

The ARRL Field Day rules say that you can operate on the “160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 Meter HF bands, as well as all bands 50 MHz and above.” That’s a big help – anywhere except the WARC bands (60, 30, 17 and 12 Meters). But where should you actually operate? And when? Which modes?

Let’s start off with a general rule for HF: You should operate on the higher bands (20, 15 and 10) during the daytime. At dusk, move to 40 meters. After dark, operate on 40, 80 and 160 Meters.

To narrow that down a little more, 20 Meters is the “Money Band” during the day. 40 and then 80 are the best choices at night.

But, if you want to make the most contacts in the most ARRL and RAC sections, you need to have all of the bands in your arsenal. Here is a band-by-band synopsis of the current band conditions, as I see them. “Your mileage may vary” – by mode, time of day, changing propagation and capabilities of your station. A summary of the band’s frequencies and modes follows each band’s forecast.

Daytime

20 Meters:  As previously mentioned, 20 Meters is the “Money Band” during the day. It is also the busiest.  That’s because you can work the world on 20 Meters. Don’t expect to hear many locals here. Their signals are going over top of you to the ionosphere to be reflected down hundreds of miles away. It’s difficult to work Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on 20. Most of your contacts will be west of the Mississippi or north of the Mason-Dixon Line. 20 may be a little slow during the middle of the day and then pick up after 3 pm. After sunset, 20 usually closes down, but has been known to be open all night.

20 Meters starts at 14.000 MHz and extends up to 14.350. As with most bands, CW occupies the lower end, from 14.000 to 14.150 MHz. Only Extra Class operators are allowed in 14.000 to 14.025. Imbedded in the CW band are “watering holes” for PSK31 (14.070), FT8 (14.074), FT4(14.080) and RTTY (14.083 to 14.110). Voice (SSB) occupies the upper end of 20, from 14.150 to 14.350. General Class operators must stay above 14.225 MHz. The band will be busiest between 14.225 and 14.300. If you are looking for an opening to call CQ, you stand a better chance of finding one above 14.300 MHz. Avoid the SSTV watering hole at 14.230. You should probably also avoid 14.280 which seems to be a favorite for Latin American hams.

15 Meters: 15 Meters is an alternative to 20. It is also a longer distance band with the West Coast and South America most common. 15 is more likely to be open during mid-day, closing around 4 pm.

The range for 15 Meters is 21.000 to 21.450 Mhz. CW occupies the lower end up to 21.200 MHz, with the first .025 MHz reserved for Extras. Technicians may operate CW, but not voice, on 15 Meters. You will find PSK31 at 21.070, FT8 at 21.074, FT4 at 21.140 and RTTY from 21.080 to 21.110 MHz. SSB starts at 21.200 with Generals restricted to above 21.275 MHz.

10 Meters: During this low sunspot period, 10 Meters has mostly not been open except for short periods. However, during the early summer months, 10 has been known to be open for long distances, with the skip usually favoring the West Coast and South America. This usually occurs during late morning and early afternoon. However, at the time of this writing (two weeks before Field Day), 10 has been open later. I have made FT8 contacts around the clock.

The 10 Meter spectrum is quite large: from 28.000 MHz to 29.700. The lower end, up to 28.300 is for CW. The PSK31 sub-band is at 28.070. RTTY starts at 28.080. FT8 is at 28.074 and FT4 is at 28.180 MHz. Voice starts at 28.300 with no sub-band set aside for Extras. It’s important to note that Technician Class may operate up to 28.500 MHz.

Nighttime

40 Meters: 40 Meters is actually open most of the day for short-range contacts, so you will nearly always find a little activity there. 40 opens up right around, or just before, sunset. As the Gray Line moves westward, so does the range for 40 until it reaches the West Coast or beyond. From sunset on, 40 is very crowded.

40 Meters is the 7 MHz band, extending from 7.000 to 7.300 MHz. CW occupies the lower end up to 7.125 MHz, with the usual .025 beginning reserved for Extras. The PSK31 watering hole is at 7.080 (note that the “.070” pattern is broken here). RTTY starts at 7.0430, FT8 is at 7.0740 and FT4 is at 7.0475. Technicians have CW privileges along side the Generals on 40. SSB starts at 7.125 for Extras and Advanced Classes and at 7.175 for Generals. The range from 7.175 to 7.200 is the busiest. Look out for the “Good Ole Boys” who occupy 7.200 MHz. They don’t take kindly to anyone encroaching on “their” frequency. The section above 7.200 also has a couple of European shortwave AM stations. Remember that from 10 MHz down, SSB is Lower Sideband. Doing “search and pounce,” it’s easier to start high and tune down into the signal.

80/75 Meters: After dark, 80 Meters starts to open up and remains open all night. 80 is not as crowded as 40. Many hams fill their logs on 40 Meters, then move down to 80. Most activity will be East Coast and Mid-West. 

80 Meters (3.500 to 4.000 MHz) is so broad that it is sometimes broken into 80 Meters (3.5 to 3.7 MHZ) for CW and 75 Meters (3.6 to 4.0 MHz) for SSB. It is sometimes difficult to get an antenna tuned to both ends of the band. The 80 Meter CW band has the first .025 reserved for Extras. Generals and Technicians share the rest. PSK31 occupies 3.580 MHz, RTTY is from 3.590 to 3.600, FT8 is at 3.573 and FT4 is at 3.575 MHz. On the 75 Meter Band, SSB starts for Extras at 3.600, for Advanced at 3.700 and for Generals at 3.800 MHz. You will encounter a lot of rag chewers in the General portion of the band. They don’t like “contesters.”

160 Meters: This is known to many as the “Top Band.” 160 is definitely a nighttime band, not opening up until well after dark. It is also a high QRN band, especially during the summer months and any other time when there are thunderstorms. Another factor resulting in low activity is the size of an antenna resonant at 160 Meters. Most multi-band antennas do not include 160.

The entire length of the 160 Meter band from 1.8 to 2.0 MHz is both CW and SSB with no sub-bands for Extras. There is a PSK31 watering hole at 1.838. FT8 can be found at 1.840 MHz. There are no watering holes for RTTY or FT4.

VHF

6 Meters:  Most HF rigs also have 6 Meter capability. 6 Meters, the “Magic Band,” is best during the summer months, especially June. During the ARRL VHF June Contest, June 13 and 14, the FT8 sub-band was as active as 20 meters. While the propagation favoring 6 Meters usually occurs during the day, the band was open to some degree all night long from Tallahassee to New England and the Mid-Atlantic during the contest. Many multi-band HF antennas will operate on 6 Meters. In a few hours, mostly on Sunday, I was able to make 77 contacts in 17 states, mostly in the Southeast, Mid-West and New England. Reports on 3830Scores.com from other hams indicate that CW and SSB were also active. Please note that I was using a multi-band HF OCF dipole, not a beam antenna. There have been recent reports of 6 meters being open to Europe for short spells.

Although 6 Meter extends for 4 MHz from 50 to 544 MHz, activity is mostly on the first MHz. CW will mostly be found from 50.0 to 50.120. 50.125 is the SSB calling frequency. You will find SSB CQs from 50.120 up to 51.000 MHz. The primary FT8 frequency is 50.313, with some activity also on 50.323. 50.318 is the FT4 sub-band. You can use FM simplex from 51.1 to 52.0 MHz. From 52.05 to 53.0 MHz, FM simplex shares the band with FM repeaters.

Modes

You can use any authorized mode for Field Day. However, most of the activity will be CW or SSB. RTTY is fairly active on FD. PSK31 will have some activity, however, PSK31 operators usually don’t understand about contests and FD, so you may find them sending their “brag” reports rather than the FD exchange. If so, try asking for the necessary information. They won’t know their class, but most will be operating 1D. FT8 and FT4 have both been very active in contests recently. Because of their weak-signal capability, FT8 and FT4 may be active even when CW and SSB fade out. A Field Day reporting feature is now built into WSJT-X.

Assistance

Many hams report (“spot”) their contacts to the DX clusters. You can monitor a DX cluster to see who is active on what frequency. Be aware that the DX clusters are world-wide, so a spot may be by someone in Europe and not workable by you. You can usually filter the clusters to give only the modes, bands, and reporting stations that you need. There are a number of DX clusters available. One popular cluster is DX Summit at http://www.dxsummit.fi/#/

Most of the contesting software packages provide a direct link to a cluster and also show a band map with the stations heard on the band that you are on. If you have activated the CAT capability, linking your rig to your computer, you can click on the callsign and the logger will change your rig directly to that frequency. Check your logger’s user guide for specifics.

Monitoring the DX cluster will also enable you to tell which bands are open. When you see only a few spots on the band that you are on, it’s a good time to move to another that shows more activity.Please feel free to contact me or any of the TARS Field Day coordinators with any questions that you may have. My email address is K4SBZ.Stan@gmail.com