Category Archive: News

The default category if the posting party is too lazy to select another for the story. Trump says this is Fake News!

What’s Wrong Here

Astron 50 ready for mod

Astron 50
ready for mod

OK, here’s my idea: I’m using an Astron 50 for Field Day, but want to have backup if the power fails or at least receive function while the generator is being refueled, so I’m hooking up a solar panel to the filter capacitors in the Astron (right after the diode bridge rectifier).
The Astron will handle all normal functions, and indeed, with the solar panel addition will not have to work so hard (1 Amp worth) and that will save a little bit of gas on the generator. Then, if the power fails, the panel (it’ll have a diode to prevent reverse current) will be regulated down to 13.8 by the Astron circuitry and power the HF rig enough to receive.
F/Day Solar Panel (white wire to Astron)

F/Day Solar Panel
(white wire to Astron)

Is this a good idea or what? (insert Smiling Emoji)
Solar costs a lot! Sure, it’s great powering a radio out in the boonies, or for certain ‘low power’ applications where it’s inconvenient to run an AC wire, but for things like running your house and the air-conditioner it gets really expensive compared to the 10c/kWh commercial AC.
The dividing line is somewhere around a 60 Watt light bulb. If your basement is dark you can screw in a 60W bulb and run it all year, about 8000 hours, for (60 x 24 x 365 divided by 1000 times 10 cents) about fifty ($52) two bucks. You’re using 525 kWh of electricity doing that. How many 45 Watt Harbor Freight panels would it take to supply the 1.4 kilowatts you need every day? (The panels produce 0.180 kWh in 4 hours of sun if it’s not cloudy, and then you need some big batteries.)
P. S. The bulb, rated at 1500 hours, will last about 8000 if you never turn it off. Same advantage for tubes in WOW TV’s transmitter.
The ASTRON 50 idles at about 60 Watts with nothing connected. When the power goes off your panel’s precious milliamps, 750 of them, will be partially wasted running the regulator circuitry. There won’t be enough left to run a Yaesu 857 which draws 550 mA squelched and around an Amp with the audio on.
Note: The Harbor Freight three (3) panel setup runs 15W per panel. The single panel shown above doesn’t come close to making a full Amp. I mean 750 maybe, but never an Amp unless you get some big mirrors.

Portable HF Antenna

Patrick KD5LRO holds the  ALL ALUMINUM portable antenna base

Patrick KD5LRO holds the
portable antenna base

At our heavily advertised 4th Thursday May meeting, Joe K0NEB (ex WA0WRI) gave us a lot of history and info on the most popular Hamfest, the Dayton Hamvention, including the recent move to a new arena with pictures and videos from this year’s and other shows going back over 20 years. (Joe went to every one of them)
Joe went first so he could get back to his Lincoln NE home at a decent time, so after another hour of business meeting the secondary program of Albert KE0LOL showing off his newly constructed PORTABLE ANTENNA MOUNT was not seen by all.
Tripod mount looks the same as a multi-hundred dollar mount available for the 'Outbacker'

Tripod mount looks the same
as a multi-hundred dollar mount
available for the ‘Outbacker’

Albert found instructions and measurements on the internet and used his home workshop to make a really nice looking and working portable antenna base. It’s all aluminum as demoed by Patrick LRO holding it up with one hand.
Legs unfold to positive stops, and panels hinge out flat to make capacitive contact with ‘ground’ to make it work better. The mount takes a standard 3/8 by 24 thread screw base. Albert brought along a Hustler 20M whip, but you can use any other brand (Lakeview etc.) or a full size quarter wave if you wish. Just the thing for a quick F/Day setup.
Here's the detail  of the folding ground panel at the bottom

Here’s the detail
of the folding ground panel
at the bottom

With these closeups you could almost make your own

With these closeups
you could almost
make your own

Clean Bill of Health

Saturday morning (5/13) the SWIARC repeater was under the medical scrutiny of engineer John KB0QKH and trustee Greg N0GR. The examination included a sweep of the antenna, feed line, and duplexer. With the microscope applied, what did the doctors discover?

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Electric Avenue

Council Bluffs under attack!

Council Bluffs under attack!

As May opened with a crack and a bang, we were reminded to unplug and disconnect this morning. Around 3:00am was round one and shortly before 6:00am round two. Do you disconnect, or rely on lighting arresters?

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Waubonsie Picnic

Picnic pic by Mike KC0FAN

Picnic pic by Mike KC0FAN

Don W0AF said 14 people showed up, and Greg N0GR said they served ‘lunch’ consisting of grilled hamburgers etc. to a dozen people. Several radios were in operation although the pic above shows everyone relaxing in the sun away from the radios. 20M was hot, and 40M later at night. Don AF made about 20 contacts, someone else 2 pages worth (50), with a variety of operators participating.
One guy from Shenandoah brought along his 1941 Buick with only 16,000 original miles (used as a funeral limo). It had a straight 8 and DUAL carbs installed that way original at the factory. Most of the chrome was original as was paint and (slightly repaired) upholstery. No air. No automatic. They didn’t have automatics back then. 3 speed column shift.
car info de Greg N0GR

Bill KE0XQ Receives Lifetime Achievement Award


Congratulations to Aksarben and Plattsmouth ARC member Bill McCollum KE0XQ for receiving the Skip Miller W0KVM Lifetime Achievement Award for Amateur Radio Nebraska Section. If you remember, Bill came to a SWIARC meeting with George KB0ZZT back in October for the DMR/MotoTRBO presentation.

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Harbor Freight Coming to CB


Real Estate Agent Sarah O’Connor recently announced a deal to bring Harbor Freight to the Lake Manawa Shopping Center located at 3115 Manawa Centre Drive in Council Bluffs Iowa. In a 21,612 square feet building, this Harbor Freight is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2017.

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Ice Storm Survival


When severe weather hits Iowa and Nebraska you will find some of the best prepared are our local ham operators. From electric generators, to solar cells hams stay warm, connected, and well nourished.   Joe N0XAT also points out that there are many ways to make do with an adhoc source of heat. Joe and a handful of other local amateur operators participate in the weekly Prepper’s and Survivalism Information Net here on SWIARC’s 146.82 repeater, 9PM CST Tuesday. Learn how to make do with what you’ve got on had as well as what to acquire in order better prepare for disaster.


When the power’s out how do you stay warm?


This heater can operate on a fuel such as Kerosene


Vent-less Nat Gas Heater (attach to residential gas line)

Remember, these are not vented heating systems.  Read and understand the risks with the use of ventless heating.

Your home may have a central gas furnace, however, in the absence of electricity it will not operate. You have the option to attach an electric generator so that your home gas furnace will operate.

Tuesday Night Net – 9:00PM

The net started by Nick K0NHV, Managed by George KD0NME, now has a new member of the Net Control Team.  KE0KIM – Mark in Omaha will co-host with George this Tuesday (January 17) and fly solo on the following week.

Anyone is welcome to join and participate.  Additionally, if you are interested in a try at Net Control you can simply ask George KD0NME during the next net or anytime by calling for him on the 146.82 repeater.

Visit the Net Information Page (link)

Are you a Webmaster?

The current page is on MediaWiki, however, a complete independent web site would be welcome and a volunteer webmaster to boot!

George KD0NME points out that you may be a Prepper and not even realize it! When discussing the facts with a fellow amateur operator and skeptic George wisely pointed out that there are many things we do to “prepare” for adverse situations such as an economic downturn or a house fire. Even buying a smoke detector is a way of being prepared.

Are you a “Prepper” too?

Scanning .52

This is a Bombardier Lear 75 DWE only said 'Learjet'

This is a Bombardier Lear 75
DWE only said ‘Learjet’

Sunday night 01/08, two hours before the 9PM net on 146.94, you could have heard Mark KC0DWE aboard a Learjet at 39,000 feet traveling from somewhere North towards Florida. He mentioned coming out of the Dakotas, across a corner of MN, and then down diagonally across Spencer Iowa to Fort Dodge and Des Moines.
You had to ‘have been there already’ to get in on it because the whole thing lasted only a dozen or two minutes, DWE crystal clear on 146.52 and most everyone else undiscernable (except Nick KC0YKO who called several times unsuccessfully).
DWE was S2 to S4 most of the time, full quieting, and responded to stations KE0KER, K0FTB, KE0LCQ, and KD0VYD among others. Every time he got done talking there was a pileup, unheard here in Co/Bluffs, but Mark would say ‘I heard FTB’ and then get the full call and have a short QSO. He finally quit nearing Des Moines, saying he was hearing a 2 way on the ground and didn’t want to interfere. He also said the flight was of a medical nature.

DWE flyover notes from logbook Callsigns, cities, etc.

DWE flyover notes from logbook
Callsigns, cities, etc.



Meteor Scatter



by Joel KQ0J
I have recently enjoyed some 6 meter meteor scatter contacts on a budget
using the new version of WSJT-X software with the new MSK144 mode. I am
just using a homebrew 6M square loop – omnidirectional antenna. I am just
using A 100w RIG, running 50-70W output on the 15 second bursts that the
software transmits with.

A good calling frequency is 50.280. People also use 285, 287, 290 when
arranging contacts. WSJT-X V1.7 allows a station to state ” CQ 285 W2FRD”
when calling CQ on 280 and when you click your mouse on that decode, the
SW will QSY automatically for you to 285 when you click on that station!

During the recent Geminids meteor shower on Dec 13-15, I made 2 confirmed
meteor scatter contacts and a handful of partial contacts. I am sure I could
do better on the next shower. Seems most ops are on during the early morning
till about 9 AM. I was only on for an hour or two during the last shower but
it was enough time to see how well this software works.

There is a website where you can online chat with other currently active
stations, set up QSOs and see who is listening or transmitting on what
frequency and mode.

Download the Beta WSJT-X software V 1.7 at:

Descriptive text from:

New Mode for meteor scatter:
1. MSK144 is intended for meteor scatter at 50 MHz and higher. It
uses a low-density parity check code (LDPC) designed by Steve Franke,
K9AN. The mode is a direct descendant of the now-defunct mode JTMSK,
with a number of improvements for better performance on weak and short
meteor pings. The effective character transmission rate is about 250
cps, compared with 147 cps for FSK441. Like JT4, JT9, JT65, and
QRA64, MSK144 uses strong forward error correction. Message decoding
is all or nothing: partial decodes do not occur, and you will see
little or no garbage on your screen.

Standard MSK144 message frames are 72 ms long, compared with about 120
ms for an equivalent FSK441 message. The MSK144 waveform allows
coherent demodulation, allowing up to 3 dB better sensitivity. After
QSO partners have exchanged callsigns, MSK144 can use even shorter
messages, only 20 ms long. As in all the fast modes in WSJT-X, the 72
ms (or 20 ms) messages are repeated without gaps for the duration of a
transmission cycle. For most purposes we recommend a T/R cycle
duration of 15 s, but 5 s and 10 s sequences are also supported.

Short (“Sh”) messages in MSK144 are intended primarily for 144 MHz and
higher frequencies, where most pings are very short. These messages
do not contain full callsigns; instead, they contain a hash of the two
callsigns along with a report, acknowledgement, or 73. Short messages
are fully decodable only by the station to whom they are addressed, as
part of an ongoing QSO, because only then will the received hash match
that calculated using the known strings for “My Call” and “DX Call”.
If you are monitoring someone else’s QSO, you will not be able to
decode its Sh messages.

An MSK144 signal occupies the full bandwidth of a typical SSB
transmitter, so transmissions are always centered at an offset of
1500Hz. For best results, selectable or adjustable Rx and Tx filters
should be set to provide the flattest possible response over at least
300 – 2700 Hz. The maximum permissible frequency offset between you
and your QSO partner is 200 Hz, and less is better.

Gretna, NE

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