November 15, 2019

Annual Christmas Party Set for 12/19

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's annual Christmas party is being planned for mid-December. The club has made reservations at Sal's Italian Restaurant for December 19, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Members, spouses, children and other guests are all invited!

This meeting will take the place of our regular monthly club meeting. So mark you calendar and join us for a festive holiday dinner!

November 05, 2019

New Repeater Report added to website

We've added a new feature to the RCARC website to help us keep tabs on our repeaters. Frequently, when we discover a repeater is down or a digipeater is not working, someone will say, "Yeah, I tried it two weeks ago and it was doing that." The fact is, it can't be fixed if we don't know it's broken.

So now, if you have an issue with a repeater such as you notice interference getting into the machine or a digipeater is not responding, simply go to the web page, find the link to the Repeater Report and log your report. Then an alert will be sent to the repeater trustees and they can begin to diagnose the problem!

A link to the Repeater Report form is located on the left side of the website just below the list of repeaters in the area. We've also added a "Status" indicator next to each repeater or node. The indicator is a small, red or green circle to show whether the repeater is operational or not. Is the status is ● then the repeater is up. If is  then the repeater is down. We will try to keep the status indicators as current as possible.

November 01, 2019

Find your way to a "Digi" today!

Since a lot of us are tinkering around with WinLink and Packet Radio now, this list from the website.  It gives a pretty good list of the local Gateways and Digi-peters in and around East Texas. Click on the image for a larger version.

To use a Digipeater with Winlink Express, simply choose the "Digipeater" option when selecting a station in the packet radio session. Then, enter the dipeater callsign and SSID (the nubers as the end) in the box showing "via." One example is connecting to N9JN-10 via W5ETX-3. In other words, your signal will "hop" from your station to the W5ETX-3 and then hop again to N9JN-10.

If you imaging your are on one side of a creek and the Winlink node is on the other, then it's kind of like hopping on a rock to get across a river. You can hop on several digipeaters, but remember, each hop takes time and the more you add, the slower your connection will be.

Some digipeaters have mailboxes attached to them (think 1980s computer BBS systems). You can leave messages and check for mail to you. They are not connected to the internet, so the messages will not forward to another system.

October 30, 2019

Club builds 2-meter Slim Jim Antennas

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club (and friends) had a "build night" last Thursday evening. The project was a 2-meter Slim Jim antenna built from 450-Ohm Ladder Line. The antenna is easy to build and rolls up small enough to fit in a large pocket or backpack.

"That was really a lot of fun and a great learning time for sure!" said club member Stephen Freeman.

The club purchased enough supplies for several antennas and everyone got involved! The most difficult part of the build was soldering the SO-239 Bulkhead connector to the antenna. A couple of antenna analysers were on hand to test the SWR and make the antenna perfect.

For more information about the antenna, see this website.

NWS Teaches Storm Spotting Class

There was a good crowd for storm spotting class last night at the Henderson Civic Center. Nearly three dozen people showed up for the annual class taught my a meteorologist from the Shreveport office of the National Weather Service. 

Several of those attending the class were firefighters or EMTs along with a several amateur radio operators. There were even a few teenagers on hand who wanted to learn more about weather. 

The class was a "combo" class which includes the basic storm spotter training along with parts of the advance-level training. Topics included cloud identification, the life-cycle of a thunderstorm, proper reporting methods and criteria and even a primer on reading sophisticated radar scans. 

September 19, 2019

Six new amateurs earn their tickets!

(L-R) Bryan, Robert, Gary, Jessie, Clay
and Karan all passed their tests!
Six new Hams earned their tickets Thursday afternoon! Karan, Jessie, Robert, Gary, Clay and Bryan all passed their technician exams on the first try.

The examination session marked the end of a six-session class hosted by the Rusk County Amateur Radio club. The students had put in several hours of hard work both in the classroom and at home studying their materials.

Keith, Michael and David served a VEs for the testing session and were the the first to congratulate the news amateurs! Now the group is anxiously waiting for the FCC to issue their callsigns.

August 21, 2019

ARRL Director's race set for Fall

From the ARRL: The race for the ARRL Director's position including Texas has been set for this fall.

In the West Gulf Division, incumbent John Stratton, N5AUS, faces a challenge from Madison Jones, W5MJ.

In Divisions where more than one candidate is seeking the same position, full members in that Division in good standing as of September 10, 2019, will have the opportunity to cast ballots. Official paper ballots and candidates’ statements will be mailed no later than October 1, 2019, to members who are eligible to vote.

Completed ballots must be received at the address on the envelope provided by noon Eastern Time on Friday, November 15, 2019, when ballots will be counted at ARRL Headquarters and successful candidates announced.

The full article is on the ARRL Website here

August 07, 2019

Send Text Message via Winlink

Winlink provides a relatively simple way to send email over amateur radio. First, use Winlink Express to create a "Winlink Message" and post it to the "Outbox" in the software. Then, using your computer connected to a TNC (either a physical one or a software-based one) you simply log into a Winlink gateway over an RF path. Both VHF and HF gateways exist giving users a variety of options.

From there, the message is routed either to another callsign within the Winlink system to the Internet to be delivered to a standard email address. To send a text message, simply substitute the telephone number and carrier domain for the recipient.

Each carrier has a slightly different domain and possibly a different format. For example, to send a text message to a Verizon phone, simply address the email to the A sample address would be:

Other Carriers:

  • AT&T - (SMS)
  • Boost Mobile - (SMS)
  • Cricket - (SMS)
  • Sprint - (SMS)
  • T-Mobile (SMS and MMS)
  • U.S. Cellular - (SMS)
  • Verizon - (SMS)
  • Virgin Mobile - (SMS)
The Winlink system treats these messages like any other email. Remember, most carriers will truncate the message at 140 characters, so keep the subject and message short.

July 04, 2019

Field Day a success at the EOC

The RCARC club members organizes another successful Field Day this year at the County's Office of Emergency Management building. The club was able to use our new radio room, located just off of the Emergency Operations Center. Members also used our newly acquired Icom 7100 radio.

Several visitors also stopped by the Field Day site with three students (ages 9 through 12) even making some contacts on the air. When the dust settles, the club had racked up approximately 1,300 points. Thanks to all who participated in this years event!

July 03, 2019

A New Ham in Rusk County!

Congratulations to Matthew on passing his technician license exam this past Thursday evening. Matthew has been attending the club meetings for a few months and studying for the text.

He showed up this month ready to test. Following the meeting, Keith, our local volunteer examiner team leader, put together a testing team and administered the exam. And of course, Matthew passed. Let's welcome Matthew to the hobby.