December 05, 2023

Fox Hunt Henderson draws a crowd!

Several club members as well as a few from LETARC in Longview joined us for a fall Fox Hunt! After a brief orientation and a practice with a 70cm fox in the park, W5CWT headed out to "hide" somewhere in Henderson. 

Soon the hounds were on the trail. Eventually, winding up at the Wylie Elementary School on US-259, just south of town. Wyatt (W5IQE) from Longview was the first to find the fox who was hidden under a traffic cone! 

By the end of the morning, the entire crew had located the fox. Thanks to Don from LETARC who also did a brief write-up in the LETARC newsletter!

RF exposure: A guide for hams

Amateur radio is fundamentally a safe activity. Yet, concerns about the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation, including RF energy, are prevalent, especially to those you don't fully understand the science behind the hobby. To address these concerns, the FCC has established limits on RF energy exposure. Notably, since May 3, 2021, amateur radio operators are required to evaluate their stations for compliance with these limits​​.

The ARRL provides essential tools for understanding and adhering to these new requirements:

  • RF Exposure Calculator: This tool aids operators in assessing their stations to ensure they meet FCC guidelines​​.
  • Educational Materials: The ARRL website hosts a range of educational resources, including FAQs about the FCC's RF exposure rules, the 100th Edition ARRL Handbook's RF safety section, and links to relevant FCC resources​​​​.
When neighbors express concerns about RF exposure, it's crucial to approach these conversations with empathy and factual information. Here are some strategies:

  • Educate Yourself: Before engaging in discussions, ensure you're well-informed about RF exposure limits and safety protocols. Utilize ARRL's resources to build your knowledge.

  • Open Dialogue: Invite your neighbors to discuss their concerns. Listen actively and

September 21, 2023

Local Winlink Node - Explained!

(By Keith, KN5G) As most of you already know the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club has a WinLink, VHF Gateway on the air so that local Amateurs can access the Global WinLink Network and send and receive messages through the International WinLink messaging system.

For the newer club members the Gateway station is located in downtown Henderson at the old Jail Building on the west side of the Court House. The antenna is on the tower there at what is presently the OEM Office, along with the County Commissioner’s repeater.

The Gateway is on 145.010 MHz., and supports both Packet WinLink Sessions and the newer and faster VarAC protocol for VarAC Sessions. The Gateway has a good range and can also be used as a digipeater using the alias HENDER.

There are a handful of us who have VarAC stations set up at our home QTH and we enjoy a good VarAC ragchew with each other from time to time. The VarAC mode allows for unconnected Broadcast from

June 28, 2023

Field Day 2023 - a great success!

Another great Field Day is in the books--or perhaps more appropriately, in the logs! It was the club's first time to hold Field Day at the Millville Baptist Church. There was a number of reasons that the club chose to try out the church. 

First, the fairly remote location of the church meant there was almost NO electrical noise on the bands. The church is located in the middle of a large section of land recently reclaimed after the closing of a large surface mine. The mine when right around the church and its cemetery. Second, the building (which is no longer used by any church congregation) is still furnished with tables and chairs and even has air conditioning! And third, there are plenty of very tall trees just waiting to hold up the ends of antennas!

Unfortunately, the Field Day crew was a little smaller than normal, mostly due to the severe weather that rolled through the area the night before leaving thousands of people in the area without power. But the crowd the did show up was treated to a couple of surprises including a visit from Steven Lott (KG5VK) the Section Manager for North Texas. Steven was making the rounds of East Texas Field Day sites and squeezed us in between Tyler and Nacogdoches. Also, Luke (a soon-to-be ham!) brought dinner including grilled hamburgers with all the fixin's on top of homemade sourdough buns made by his wife! Delicious!

Keith took the whole group on a sunset tour of the cemetery, noting some very interesting graves. Marty and Kitch kept the bands hot all night long with Kitch alone making dozens of CW contacts. All in all, it was a great event and we look forward to the next time we can light up the bands!





April 03, 2023

RCARC heads off to the races...AGAIN!

For the fifth year in a row, local radio operators supported the Resurrection Race this year in city of Henderson. The run, organized by a local church, offers runners a 5K, a 10K and a 1K fun run. The race route winds through a number of Henderson neighborhoods and parks. Rusk County ARC club members real-time updates along the race route along with general communication support and weather updates when severe weather threatens (as it did a couple of years ago). 

This year we had nine operators including our a GMRS user which marked the first time we have ever  deployed a GMRS unit in a public service event. The club recently put a GMRS repeater on the air locally and added a handful of club members who only operate GMRS. While our Net Control Operator (KG5IPO) primarily used the club's main ham repeater frequency, the back-up NCO (N5NDC / WREM784) monitored the GMRS repeater to relay reports to main net.

The race had nearly 100  runners on the 5k route and around 20 on the 10K path. Stations were deployed to major race turns where issues could (and have in the past) occurred. After the last runner past the station, the operator would generally redeploy to another point along the route or return to the HQ at the finish line. 

The operation was a success and race organizers were very appreciative of the group's service. "We couldn't do this race without you all," said Kayla Tillison, the race coordinator. "When all these runners are out on the route, your group's minute-by-minute updates gives us real peace of mind."

 
 

April 02, 2023

Choking out RFI on an EFHW antenna

(By Keith / KN5G) While the new End Fed, Half-Wave antenna has worked well on the HF bands I did notice that it had some RFI coming back into the shack and causing some issues with the USB cable’s signal between the computer and the radio. The EFHW antenna is an unbalanced antenna so it is normal to see some RF coming back down the outside shield of the coax towards the shack. 

The fix is a Common Mode Current Choke in the coax before it gets to the radio.

You can buy a CMC Choke but they are kind of expensive considering what they are made of and how simple they are to make. 

Here is one I built with a 240-43 Toroid core wrapped with 12 turns of RG58 coax. I need to put it in a box and solder the coax to the PL-259 connectors.

You can see from the VNA sweep that it has -36.4 dB of attenuation at the bottom of the 40 meter band which is pretty good. If I am not mistaken a 240-31 mix core would provide more attenuation on the higher bands, 20 meters - 10 meters.

Hopefully this will take care of the RFI issue I was seeing with the EFHW antenna.


March 06, 2023

TV station covers storm preparation

KLTV, Channel 7 did a nice little story on preparing for East Texas storms last week in advance of expected severe weather. The story included interviews with Office of Emergency Management Staff as well as a couple of Rusk County ARC club members. Michael and David spoke specifically about hams and GMRS users who serve a storm spotters. Not a storm spotter? Visit a club meeting to find out more!

Here's a link to the online version of the story: https://www.kltv.com/2023/03/02/rusk-county-emergency-managers-storm-spotters-prepare-severe-weather/

March 05, 2023

Get storm spotter training online!

Amateur radio operators play a critical role in providing emergency communications during severe weather events. We help keep communities safe by relaying important information about storm conditions and damage to the National Weather Service (NWS) and emergency management officials. One way operators can prepare for storm spotting is by participating in SKYWARN, a volunteer program that helps keep communities safe during severe weather.

SKYWARN was developed by the NWS to improve the accuracy and timeliness of severe weather warnings. SKYWARN spotters are volunteers who report severe weather to their local NWS office. Although not all spotters are ham radio operators, many of them are. They provide real-time, ground-level observations of severe weather conditions, such as hail, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. This information is then used by the NWS to issue more accurate and timely warnings, ultimately saving lives and reducing property damage.

The Rusk County ARC often partners with the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management to host in-person SKYWARN training in Henderson. Another way to become a SKYWARN spotter is through online training which covers the basics of storm spotting, including identifying severe weather,

March 02, 2023

March meeting...Learn to WiSPeR!

Join us for our monthly meeting for March on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at 7 p.m. for a special presentation on WSPR. This digital mode has been around for a few years, is super easy to set up and can provide some amazing data with just a few milliwatts of power. 

Nathan (N5NDC) will lead the presentation with all the ins and outs of WSPR and how you can join in on the fun, probably with the equipment you already have. We will meet at our regular location at the South Main Church of Christ, 402 S. Main Street, Henderson, TX. See you there!

February 06, 2023

Learn about Repeaters! (GMRS + HAM)

Walkie-talkies may be good when the power goes out or cell service is down, but they only work a relatively short distance, despite what the retail package may say. So how can you stay in contact when you are miles aways from each other or surrounded by tall East Texas pine trees? Repeaters are the answer. And now they are available to GMRS users - a relatively new type of radio that is both inexpensive and easy to start using.

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club will host a special presentation on “Repeaters” this Thursday evening during their regular monthly meeting. Participants can learn how repeaters work, what kind of radio to use and how to find repeaters available right here in Henderson, Tyler and Longview. 

“Learning how to use a ham radio or a GMRS repeater is a great way to be prepared for the worst,” said David Chenault, a member of the Rusk County ARC. “Almost anyone can take advantage of these systems that groups and individuals maintain at no cost to users.”

In addition to helping people stay in touch with each other, repeaters--both GMRS and ham--are often used to report severe weather during storms and hurricanes.

The presentation Thursday evening is just one in a series of topics specifically of interest to GMRS users. Chenault says people wanting to use GMRS radios need to get an FCC license. He adds that the good news is the license fee is only $35 and is valid for 10 years. Best of all, almost anyone can get one because there is no test to take like there is for ham radio licenses.

The program is free and open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 9,  at the meeting room at the South Main Church of Christ, 401 S. Main, in Henderson.