St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club

Posts filed under Station Building

Mini-Hamfest & RTTY Contest

Mark Saturday July 15th on your calendar. Beginning at 8:30AM, SPARC will hold a mini-hamfest consisting of the station of George Campbell, N4IMI (SK). A list of available equipment may be found by clicking here.

Following the mini-fest, at 2:00PM, SPARC will participate in the NAQP RTTY contest as W4TA. If you’re interested in learning about RTTY and/or contesting, hang around and we’ll put you on the air.

All activities take place at DMI Research. 6699 90th Avenue North, Pinellas Park.

Announcing the July 2017 SPARC Mobile Installation Contest

Are you proud of your mobile installation? Why not enter it in the first annual SPARC mobile installation contest? At the regular July SPARC meeting on July 7th, members are welcome to enter their car in the contest for a chance to win a nice prize in either the HF category or VHF/UHF category (or both). The judging criteria are summarized below. Click here for more detailed judging criteria. It is not about the cost of your equipment, but how finished and polished the installation is. The more your installation looks like it came that way from the factory, the better.

HF and VHF/UHF entrants judged on:

Power Connections         Antenna Mounting

Grounding                         Cable Routing

Radio Installation              Operational Safety Concerns



All cars entering contest should park in front of DMI building (car show style) by 7:00 PM.  Judging will start at 7:15 PM. To take advantage of the light, we will have time for people to look at the cars until it starts getting too dark. Then we will go inside for the regular meeting and then the judges will highlight what they saw in the contest and announce the winners. Think of it as a meeting in reverse.

So tie off those cables, neaten that rat’s nest under your dash or under your hood and come out and enter your car–or just get ideas to improve your own installation.

Please contact Tom Schaefer, NY4I at or 727-437-2771 to register for the contest or with any questions.

Automatic Antenna Switch Decoder added to W4GAC Station

Ron KP2N and Tom NY4I added a Top Ten Devices Band Decoder to the W4GAC station. This switch ties into the existing Six Pack antenna switch. The idea is that rather than the operator having to select the right antenna, the Band Decoder follows a signal sent from the radio that tells the decoder what band the radio is on at the time. The corresponding position is then switched on the antenna switch. So when the radio is on bands 10m – 20m, the Log Periodic is selected. When it is on 80 or 40m, the dipole is selected. It is also possible to use alternate antennas (in case we want to have a 40m vertical as well).

This addition is also needed for the remote station as the manual selection switch would not work with a remote station to change antennas. Below are a couple of pictures of the project. One is the band decoder and another is a handy little DB-25 breakout Ron used to get the pin outs correct before he soldered up the DB25.

DB25 Breakout Board

SPARC Members attend West Central Florida Section TECHCON

Section Manager Darrell KT4WX discussing PICAXE Microcontrollers.

On Saturday, February 25, several members of SPARC made the trip to Sarasota for the 3rd annual WCF section TECHCON. This is a free technical conference put on by the WCF ARRL section technical staff. The location changes to various places around the section to allow the most section members to attend.

This year, there were two conference tracks. One focused on more introductory topics such as station design, antenna building, APRS and programable microcontrollers such as the PICAXE and the Arduino. Another track discussed more technical topics including the Amateur Radio Emergency Digital Network (AREDN) and HamWAN—both which allow creating high-speed data networks similar to WiFi but over greater distances and utilizing amateur radio frequencies (HamWAN was presented by SPARC member Bryan Fields W9CR.


Tom NY4I and Charlie W4OQM – Photo by Ed NZ1Q

One of the benefits of these meetings besides the technical content is the chance to discuss the technical aspects with other hams. During breaks, it is common to hear hams discussing how they are applying the things learned in unique ways that you would not learn just reading the material from a magazine article in QST. For example, the two networking topics might seem competitive but during the Q&A sessions, we discussed how to couple the mesh capabilities of AREDN for emergency data networks wth the long distance networking backbone capabilities of HamWAN can complement each other to serve the widest area.

If you missed it, make plans to attend next year’s TECHCON (around the same time in February tentatively planned for somewhere in Polk county.

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