St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club

Posts filed under Operating

The MAK is Back

SPARC contesters enjoyed entering W4TA in the newly reestablished Makrothen RTTY contest. Makrothen is a Greek word meaning distance. In spite of poor propagation, the SPARC team made 541 QSOs with a claimed score of 2,203,706 points.

Tom W4CU running while Ron KP2N watches [N2ESPhoto]

What makes the Makrothen different from the other contests we compete in is the method of scoring. Most contests are scored based on the number of QSOs times the number of “multipliers” worked in the contest. The points value awarded for each QSO varies with each contest. Different points value may be assigned to stations worked in a country different from yours, operating mode, or band. Multipliers also vary by contest. Typically each DX country is a multiplier; multipliers can also be established geographic radio “zones” worldwide. This type of scoring is biased in favor of population centers, with east coast US stations closer to Europe, with its large number of countries and the Caribbean with numerous small island countries.

Leslie WA4EEZ running as Tom NY4I looks on [N2ESPhoto]

As its name implies, the value of a QSO in the Makrothen contest equals the distance (in kilometers) between the two stations. The information exchanged between the two stations includes the Maidenhead grid square in which each station is located. The four character grid square designator exchange gives a rough indication of each station’s latitude and longitude. This information is then used by computer logging program algorithms to determine the distance between the two stations. Hams regularly working DX are aware that it is more difficult to work stations on the lower frequency bands. To encourage the use of these bands in the contest, QSO point values on 40M and 80M are multiplied by 1.5 and 2.0 respectively. In the event both stations are in the same grid square, a value of 100 points is assigned to the QSO.

N1MM+ RTTY contest software [N2ESPhoto]

This contest is run in three eight hour segments (8PM-4AM, 12PM-8PM and 4AM-12PM) that are separated by three eight hour off times.

SPARC members participating in this event were: Paul KA4IOX, Rex KB8ESY, Ron KP2N, Dave KR4U, Bob N2ESP, Richard N4BUA, Dee N4GD, Tom NY4I, Tom W4CU and Leslie WA4EEZ.

If you are interested in participating in any of the contests we enter, contact one of the folks above. No experience is necessary, we will provide an Elmer (mentor) to get you started in this competitive area of our hobby.

Leslie WA4EEZ enjoying her run on 15M [N2ESPhoto]

SH5 Contest Stats
QSOs by Band

Click here to see more results produced by the SH5 contest statistics processor.

Upcoming Activities

Besides this being the start of contest season, we also have some other events that you might want to check out.

On October 13 through October 15, there is the Makrothen RTTY contest at the club station. See here for more info….

On October 21, it’s the St. Petersburg Science Festival. Look for more info here and at the club meeting but this is a chance to spend a great day on the waterfront in St. Pete showing amateur radio to kids of all ages.

On October 28 in Palm Harbor, is the Upper Pinellas ARC Hamfest/tailgate. More info on that is here.

We also have the ever-popular Tampa Bay Hamfest on December 8th and 9th. More info on that hamfest is found here.

Check back on this website for upcoming contest operations from the W4GAC SPARC HF Station.

As Hurricane season winds down, amateur radio season starts up (he said optimistically…).

All About Batteries by Ed, NZ1Q

Everything you wanted to know but never got to ask.  Perfect for this active storm season.

Ed will discuss the different types of batteries available to the amateur such as NiCad, Nickel metal, lead acid, Lithium based and new types like LiFePO4.

Topics to be covered include the best applications for each battery type and how to maintain and properly recharge the different battery types.

A table will be provided that summarizing the usage and care for each type of battery.

Be sure to attend our October meeting to enjoy this informative presentation.

One Day General Class Upgrade Workshop Forming

Tom NY4I is forming a multi-club one-day General Workshop.

THIS IS NOT A CRAM SESSION. You must do pre-work from the book. Our goal is to work with the material you have learned by self-study, clarify some topics and teach you how to be a general. We want people to know what to do with their general class license when they get it.

We will start 6 weeks before the scheduled workshop day. Each student is REQUIRED to purchase a Gordon West General Class Study manual. The students have to commit to doing the work ahead of time with help from our instructor team to understand anything along the way. When they got to the session, we did a high-level review of the questions but more importantly, we sat them down at the radio (using the well equipped SPARC HF station) so they knew how to use their radio. Having the beam outside to show the difference between the director and reflector, having a working HF station so we can show digital modes, etc makes for a much more hands on session.

We plan a session to be held on a Saturday starting at 8:30 AM at the SPARC clubhouse in Pinellas Park. We have coffee available. The students bring a sack lunch. They spend the day reviewing any areas they have questions and also get experience hands-on with the equipment. An example is something simple but it illustrates the intent. Last time I brought my box full of coax connectors and adapters. They read about N connectors in a question, but passing them around and seeing them up close makes them better hams. Due to the need for a fully-operational HF station, plus for the amount of room we have, the location has to be the SPARC location in Pinellas Park. That is quite centrally located to everyone.

A the end of the day, a VE team comes in and gives tests to all the students. No one that was an instructor in the workshop is permitted to participate in that test session. That is just to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The expectation is that the student could really pass the test after their pre-study work. This gives them a specific date to get it done. The students have to do the work up-front. If they think they cannot crack the book and just attend a one-day class, they will most definitely fail. That is on them. If they participate, and respond to our interim sessions (a few conference calls emailing questions) and come to the session wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, they will pass. We had 6 out of 6 pass the last time we did this session.

We will set a date only after we gauge the interest. I have to limit this to 20 people. The first 20 people that respond are on the list. We can then decide on a weekend.

The optimal student is self-motivated, willing to make studying for a General class license a priority and electronically available (email, etc). Please respond to Tom Please let me know if you are interested in upgrading to General with this workshop format. Note this info is being shared with other clubs in Pinellas County so if you are seriously interested in upgrading to General, reply today!

SPARC Contesters Win US 4th Call Area in CQ WPX RTTY

During the WPX Contest earlier this year, SPARC posted a score of 2,810,572 points in the Multi-operator, Single Transmitter category. This was good enough to win 1st place in the US 4th call area, 7th place in the country and 23rd in the World. This was a team effort of the following operators: KA4IOX, KB8ESY, KR4U, KP2N, N2ESP, N4BUA, N4RI, NY4I, VE3XD, W4CU ad W4TSP. The full results are available on the CQ WPX RTTY Website as well as the write up in the July 2017 edition of CQ Magazine. Congratulations to all these RTTY Operators.

W8IM Places 3rd Worldwide

Dean, W8IM. earned 3rd place worldwide in the 10M PSK31 QSO Party that is sponsored by 10-10 International. What makes this accomplishment more amazing is that Dean won in the QRP category! An accomplished CW operator, Dean decided to expand his horizons with PSK31. Congratulations Dean. Click the title to see Dean’s certificate.



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