SPARC completed another successful day at the St. Petersburg Science festival. Situated under a big oak tree on the breezy shore of Tampa Bay, SPARC station W4GAC was again on the air.
This year we focused on CW. We noticed in prior events that the sound of Morse code emanating from our tent caused people to ask “what is this?” We set up a simple 20M CW station and put CW guru Dave KR4U behind the key. In spite of so-so propagation, Dave was able to work numerous European stations, as there was a German contest underway. Domestically, the New York QSO party kept Dave busy with domestic QSOs. Dave’s brass pounding also peaked the interest of festival goers.
Dave KR4U at the CW Station [N2ESPhoto]
Once we got folks attention, a variety of code equipment was available for visitors to try. Most of the kids enjoyed tapping out their name on a basic code practice oscillator using a CW cheat sheet. When they found the tone pitch knob, many of them became musicians, changing the pitch of the signal as they sent some really ugly code. Another crowd favorite was a code key connected to a Morse decoder that Dee N4GD made using a Raspberry Pi computer. Send a letter in code and it popped up on the screen….cool. Finally an electronic keyer with iambic paddle provided a third alternative to keep the CW flowing.
Future CW Op Learns the Code [N2ESPhoto]
Our booth was manned by Dave KR4U, Rex, KB8ESY, John KI4UIP, Bob N2ESP, Dee N4GD and Ed NZ1Q. In addition to answering numerous questions, we passed out a number of our SPARC brochures. The most frequently asked question was how far away have you talked? When KR4U replied “I’ve talked with Russia, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France folks eyes opened in amazement. When folks then asked “what was the farthest conversation you have ever had;” the answer was ½ way around the world… any further then you turn your antenna to go the short way. Folks were truly awestruck.
Future CW Ops at Work [N2ESPhoto]
All the SPARC participants agreed this was one of our best years at the festival, and offered suggestions for improvement next year. Dropping by for a visit were club members Kyle N4NSS, Molly KN4GFN and Bob WB4MCF. It’s a lot of fun to watch the kids quickly associate the dits and dahs with the alphabet and subsequently their name. Hopefully we planted the ham radio bug in one or two visitors and will see them on the air in a few years.
If you would like to join in the fun of next year’s Science Festival, contact one of the club officers.
Join us June 23rd, 24th and 25th at the SPARC club house for this year’s ARRL FD activities.
2016 SPARC Field Day
Our goal is not a big score, but for everyone to take part and experience station setup and getting on the air.
Field Day setup begins on Friday at 2:00PM. We will begin station configuration. This includes tables, antennas, radios, computers, and power.
Saturday morning, beginning at 10:00AM, we will finish station setup and verify all systems are go. We will form Ad Hoc committees to take care of the operating schedule, food and any other necessities.
The event starts Saturday afternoon at 2:00PM. Let the fun begin. Operators of all experience levels are welcome to operate. CW/Digital/SSB operating positions will be available at various times of the day. If enough operators are available, we can keep the station open a full 24 hours. Remember to bring your own headphones.
Sunday at 2:00PM the operating event ends and station take-down begins. Many hands make light work, so chip in and don’t miss the fun.
The new SPARC FD format should be more fun and less hassle for all members. Look forward to seeing everyone there.
Coverage is needed Tuesday, April 4, through Sunday, April 9, 2017. Operating hours are 0900 – 1700 each day except Sunday, 0900-1500. W4S will be setup at the back West exit of the Museum. General information on the Fly-In, can be found at the Sun n’ Fun web site click HERE.
Volunteer time will be 3 1/2 to 4 hours per day. I need to know the day they wish to and if they would like to work AM or PM hours. Volunteers will get a pass into the Fly-In for each day they operate, a parking pass as well as sandwiches for lunch and drinks.
If you would like to volunteer, please advise me of the day and AM or PM hours you would like to operate. I will do my best to honor your request, depending if someone has already requested that time period. Please contact me ASAP with Call sign, T-Shirt size and emergency contact. I will get all other information off QRZ.com. I prefer you contact me via email so I have information in Black & White. You are welcome to call or text me with any questions etc.
SPARC announces that three of its members have been inducted into the ARRL “A-1 Operator Club.” Nominated by Dave, KR4U and George, W1AAG, SPARC members Dee, N4GD; Tom, NY4I and Bob, N2ESP received framed A-1 Operator Club Member certificates and pins at the February club meeting.
L-R: Dee, N4GD; Tom, NY4I; Bob, N2ESP
First organized in May 1933, the ARRL A-1 Operator Club has a proud history and occupies an important place in Amateur Radio tradition. Communications Manager Ed Handy, W1BDI, announced its formation with these words in July 1933 QST:
Are you an A-1 Operator? Excellence in stations has often been emphasized. Yet, station performance, equipment, adjustment, etc., are but part of the story. The operation of the equipment, knowledge of procedure, and general communications technique are of very great importance in determining the results of any station. To bring attention to good operating as a paramount issue, and to give it something of the importance it deserves we are this month announcing in these columns the launching of a club for A-1 operators.
Through the years, recognition as an A-1 Operator represented an unsolicited acknowledgment of one’s high standing among one’s peers. Prospective members must be nominated by two current members of the A-1 Operator Club. This prestigious award is based on:
Transmissions: well filtered, minimum required bandwidth.
Voice: clarity, brevity, wording, grammar
Digital: tones, operating-frequency selection.
CW: character formation, spacing, appropriate speed
Listen before transmitting.
Appropriately short CQs
Proper procedures and abbreviations
Make sure that traffic is routed to its destination.
Judgment and courtesy.
Courteous, and considerate of the other operator’s point of view.
Assists others, especially beginners.
Patient and helpful
Never knowingly operates as to lessen the pleasure of others.
Passing information through interference from other stations (QRM), atmospheric noises (QRN), fading (QSB), etc.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue will host a National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotter training on December 14th. This free 75-minute long class will be delivered by Tampa Bay National Weather Service Warning and Coordination Meteorologist Dan Noah. Those completing this training will receive a weather spotter’s guidebook and become part of a nationwide network of citizen monitors. Citizen monitors report anomalies such as tornados, flooding rains and extreme temperatures.
WHO: Anyone! You can attend the training even if you do not want to be an official spotter.
WHEN: Wednesday, December 14th at 10:00am
WHERE: St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Headquarters, 1st Floor Classroom
400 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
WHY: You can help protect yourself, your family, and neighbors by becoming a trained SKYWARN Spotter. A trained spotter knows the weather threats in Florida, safety rules, and visual clues regarding thunderstorm strength.