St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club

Posts filed under Station Building

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.

URGENT Action Required for the Amateur Radio Parity Act!

From the ARRL:

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), is still not supporting H.R. 1301 / S.253 the Amateur Radio Parity Act.

In fact, Senator Nelson has placed a “hold” on the legislation, effectively barring consideration of the Bill despite its widespread bipartisan support.  If this hold isn’t removed, the bill will die in the Senate and require the process to completely start over when the new Congress begins on January 1, 2017.

You are one of well over 40,000 licensed Amateur Radio operators living in Florida.  Many of you already live in deed-restricted communities, and that number grows daily.

We need you to reach out to Senator Nelson TODAY!  Right away.  We know that thousands of you have written to the Senator.  NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL HIM ON THE PHONE, tell him you’re a constituent, that you support H.R. 1301 and S.253, demand that he stop blocking the Bill, and to support the legislation to its passage.

Here are his phone numbers.  Please call your local office AND the Washington D.C. office.

Office                                Phone
Washington D.C.:          202-224-5274

Broward                           954-693-4851

Fort Myers                       239-334-7760

Jacksonville                     904-346-4500

Miami-Dade                    305-536-5999
Orlando                            407-872-7161 or toll free in Florida: 1-888-671-4091

Tallahassee                      850-942-8415

Tampa                               813-225-7040

West Palm Beach            561-514-0189

Thank you.
Very 73,

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rick Roderick, K5UR
ARRL – The national association for Amateur Radio®


W4TA back in Contest Mode…New Antennas Work Great

With the completion of the relocation of our Log Periodic antenna on our new tower and the erection of a temporary dipole for 40M/80M, W4TA is on the air. The tower puts the antennas up around 55 feet. And boy do they work well in combination with the Alpha 9500 amplifier. We inaugurated the antenna/amplifier combination in the CW Sweepstakes contest, the oldest contest in amateur radio. It was no effort to hold a frequency and it was fun to hear the pile ups focused on us.

Congratulations to all that were involved in raising the SPARC contesting effort to a new level.


Tom, W4CU working CW Sweepstakes


Contest Crockpot Chile keeps the operators fueled for the contest


New tower fully extended


Looking up the tower


Special lunar element enhances propagation

Log Periodic Antenna Moved

The Log Periodic antenna was transferred from its old location atop the shipping containers to the new tower by John, KI4UIP; Donn, N4KII; Dave, KR4U; Bob, N2ESP; and Hal, W1EES. Ron, KP2N replaced the logging computer power supply. With luck, W4TA will be ready for the sweepstakes. Click on title for photos.


The LP antenna removed from shipping containers.


The LP antenna installed on new tower.

Antenna Modeling with EZNEC


The program for Friday, Nov 4, will be antenna modeling, building simple models and then comparing them to more complex antennas.  Ed, NZ1Q will demonstrate EZNEC software, which offers a free demo program that can be easily downloaded.   Ed will go through how to build an antenna model and read the resulting charts and graphs for a simple dipole, a two element beam and then as time permits, an Off Center Fed Dipole and other antennas., Radiation patterns, SWR, impedance matching and effects of grounds will be demonstrated. 

Be sure to join us this Friday for a truly informative program.


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