December 31, 2014

2 Meters SSB Contacts

2 meter band opens up with clearing weather.

The 2 meter band was in pretty good shape on Wednesday morning from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.. Made a few Single Side Band contacts on 144.200 MHz., from the DFW area all the way down to near Houston. You never know who you might work when the conditions are good on 2 meter SSB.

73 and Happy New Years to everyone !

December 28, 2014

Digital Modes on 2 Meters

Well, we did have some success this past Saturday morning using PSK-31 on 2 meters. Rob, KC5RET and I were able to make a 2 meter, PSK-31 contact between Henderson, TX and Woodville, TX.

The path according to QRZ, was only 106 miles but it is a great start. There are more amateurs out there that we normally do not get to talk to, that are active and interested in 2 meter weak-signal work, be it with voice or digital modes.

This past Saturday morning we used the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's chat page to coordinate with each other in real-time, which worked very well.

N5SSH, Frank in Laredo, K3TD, Tad, in George Town, KG5UN, Ed, in Abeline, and KA5DWI, Art, in Arizona, also joined the effort and checked in via the chat page.

I appreciate everyone taking the time to check in and increasing the activity on the weak-signal portion of our 2 meter band.

Wouldn't it be great if we had enough active 2 meter stations on the air each Saturday morning to be able to get on and make some SSB and Digital mode contacts with surrounding and distant stations for a few hours each week?

The "Sidewinders on Two" group is a collection of amateur operators, with an Internet presence, who are interested in 2 meter, weak-signal work, especially SSB Voice. I found this group and began to check into some of their 2 meter, SSB nets a couple of years ago. You can find out more about them and what activities they participate in at the Widewinders website and on the SWOTRC website.  

The various SWOT groups hold 2 meter SSB voice nets on most evenings of the week. Several are close enough that we can check into them from the local Henderson area with modest SSB stations and horizontal antennas.

73 and Happy New Years!
Keith - KN5G

December 27, 2014

Celebrating 2014 with fish and friends

Rusk County Hams celebrated another year of amateur radio fun by devouring a load of catfish two days before Christmas. Twenty-five people attended the party, held at Hushpuppies in Henderson and included club members as well as family and friends.

After an evening of fellowship and remembering the past year, a few awards were handed out including New Ham of the Year to Lester Davis and Rarest QSO to James Pike (watch for him on the repeater!).

All agreed that the evening was most enjoyable! More photos of the Christmas Party are posted on here.

December 20, 2014

Saturday Morning, 2 Meter, PSK

Digital Modes on Two Meters:

Well, it wasn't a roaring success but we had several stations on the air this morning. We leveraged, (high-jacked), the Rusk County Amateur Radio club's chat page to coordinate our efforts and that seemed to work really well. We had N5SSH in Laredo, WD5RP in Arlington, KG5UN from Abilene, KD0TEL from Kansas City, myself, KN5G, KZ5S and AF5RI, all located here in east Texas on the chat.

Unfortunately we were never able to make a PSK contact with the outlaying stations. KZ5S and AF5RI were as strong as garlic on PSK,of course, being as close as they are to me.

KG5UN and WD5RP were able to work each other on USB voice and I could just hear them down in the noise from here in East Texas with my horizontal beam pointed west towards them, so they can claim a contact for this morning!

Anyway, just wanted to share a quick report and tell everyone that took the time this morning to try and check in, THANKS for their time and effort.

One of these Saturday morning we are going to catch some propagation and actually make some PSK-31 contacts!

73 and Merry Christmas!


December 18, 2014

Take your Humor where you find it !

"Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying",
as the saying goes. Well, this morning I noticed this cryptic warning sticker on one of my Amateur Radio related devices. I suspect many of you will have this same or similar device in your collection of radio gear and like me, may have glanced at it without actually bothering to read it.

So, here's your challenge for the day, if you choose to accept it.

Decode the text on this warning label and tell us all what it is really trying to say, and secondly, What device do you think this label is found on?

Sorry, no prizes for the correct answers, but as Amateurs, we normally all like a challenge, so get to looking at your equipment and see if you come up with a similar warning label !

You can give us your answers during the Thursday evening net this evening, so remember to check in, starting at 7:30 p.m.


December 09, 2014

Featured Shack: KF5UNL

Today we get a chance to peak in at Lester's (KF5UNL) shack, and especially at his brand new IC-7200.  Here's his story: 

"I had a desire for many years to be a Ham Radio Operator but something always came up more important at the time. I was very excited when I learned that the process had been made easier so I studied and passed my Tech level then my General a month later. My goal is to pass my Extra License this winter. 

"I started out with a FT 840 Yaesu radio and a FT 2900 Yaesu 2M radio. Later I purchased an TS430S Kenwood which was just as exciting as the first radio purchase. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the above radios for different reasons but this hobby takes on a life of itself in a good way. 

"I have grown to a stage of getting interested in digital and 6M work which the other HF radios required a few extra pieces to accomplish this task. I researched many radios in my price range and found an IC 7200 ICOM that fell in the range of what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted everything as compact as possible so the adjoining pictures are my accomplishment.

"I am finding Amateur Radio to be more than I had hoped or expected. My only regret is that I didn't pursue this journey sooner!"

November 26, 2014

UPDATE: Christmas Party Planned

The club will hold its annual Christmas party at Hushpuppies in Henderson at 7 pm, December 23rd. (The time was changed to 7 pm at the request of the restaurant to accommodate another party.) All club members, friends and family are invited to attend. This final "meeting" of the year is always a lot of fun. Please use the form below to let us know as soon as possible if you plan to come, so we can reserve enough space!

November 11, 2014

Tip: Make LoTW uploads little easier

By W5CWT, Dave - I use Ham Radio Deluxe v5 because I'm cheap and it is free. But recently, after a major hacking attack on the ARRL, my automated LoTW uploads stopped working. Maybe it is because I'm using an outdate WinXP machine or maybe it is some other reason, but I wanted to automate my uploads as much as possible. So, here is a tip that made manual uploading a little bit easier.

I created a shortcut link to the tqsl.exe program and placed it on my desktop. Then I right-clicked it and chose "Properties" to edit the "Target" line. After the final double quote marks I added the parameters needed to sign and upload a log file automatically. Here is a copy of my command line:

"C:\Program Files\TrustedQSL\tqsl.exe" /d /u /a "new" /x /l "Home" /p "PASSWORD"

My location, as set in the tqsl program, is "Home". Replace this with your specific location name. This must be a perfect, case-sensitive match. Also, replace the PASSWORD portion with your own certificate password. Since the password is stored on your computer in plain text, using this method COULD expose your password to others if they have access to your computer. Therefore, do this at your own risk. If you wish to manually enter your password each time, simply leave out the /p "PASSWORD" portion of the command. (However, I prefer to let the computer do it since I've yet to find someone snooping around my desktop looking for my LoTW password and thereby gain total CONTROL OF THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! HAHAHAhahaaa!...Sorry, got carried away there.)

Finally, click "Apply" at the bottom of the property window and you're done.

Once you've made a few new contacts, export a log (in .ADI format) to the desktop from your favorite program such as HRD. Then, simply drag and drop the log file onto the shortcut icon. The cursor should turn to an hourglass and then back to an arrow. The file should now be uploaded.

You can check your LoTW activity (under the Account tab on the LoTW webpage) to make sure the file got there. It may take several minutes for it to show up, so be patient. To watch the whole process actually happen, disable "batch mode" by temporarily removing the "-x" portion of the command and then dragging a new log file onto the icon. Once it is uploaded, you can delete the exported log file.

November 08, 2014

Hams and Syrup: A Great Combination!

A Syrup Festival visitor
draws the winning ticket!
Rusk County hams participate in this year's Henderson Syrup Festival by operating a special event station. The station, K5S ("S" for "Syrup") was set up in front of the Rusk County Courthouse and gave some of the more than 25,000 visitors a chance to see amateur radio in action!

The club also used the festival as an opportunity to give away a brand new Acer laptop in a special drawing at the end of the day. Matt Stephens of Winnsboro, LA won the laptop. Congratulations to Matt!

Congrats to Michael Searcy, WX5WMS!

The latest member of the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club to pass his Amateur Extra Exam is Michael Searcy, WX5WMS. Michael up-graded from General Class on Friday, November 7, 2014. This was the second exam session the newly formed, Rusk County Volunteer Examiner Team has conducted for local HAM operators.

The Rusk County Volunteer Examiner Team is prepared to provide Amateur Radio License testing to club members and non-members in the Henderson, Rusk County area.

Federal Communications Commission regulations require that at least three licensed Amateur Radio Operators, be present to administer a test for Amateur Radio licenses, and license up-grades.

The Rusk County testing team administers test under the W5YI VEC organization, based in Arlington, Texas.

Congratulations Michael !

November 04, 2014

Bill, WB5DDX, earns his Extra!

Bill, WB5DDX, earns
his Extra ticket!
Some folks are just determined to move up. And so is Bill Warf, WB5DDX. He's been held an Advanced Class amateur radio license for years. Recently, he decided it was time to upgrade.

This past Sunday, all of his studying paid off. During the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's first self-conducted testing session, Bill sat for his exam and passed! The relief and excitement was clearly evident on his face when he got the news! Bill has been part of the RCARC for about a year. 

Congratulations and best wishes to Bill on a job well done! 

November 03, 2014

Playing with a USB, SDR Receiver...

Dudley and Girly rag chewing on the repeater.

This video clip is of the HDSDR application using one of the little SDR USB receivers. Pretty amazing technology for a USB device that cost around $20. Takes a bit of time to get all the software installed and configured on the computer, but it's pretty neat once you get it up and running.

Here is a website you can check out for more information on these little receivers.
And here is the site for the HDSDR software.

Always something new to learn and fool with in the Amateur Radio hobby!


October 24, 2014

It's official: ARRL Affiliation!

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has officially recognized the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club as an affiliated society! The notification came early today (October 21) in a letter from Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, of the national association for amateur radio. The club is now a part of the West Gulf Division.

Dr. David Woolweaver, K5RAV, who serves as the director for the West Gulf Division, offered his best wishes on the occasion.

"Congratulations on your club's affiliation," said Woolweaver in an email this morning. "If there is anything that I can do to support your efforts, please let me know."

The affiliation means that the RCARC now can benefit from a large variety of resources available from the ARRL. The club will also receive a small portion of the ARRL dues paid my club members.

RCARC elects new officers for 2015

Rusk County Amateur Radio Club members elected new officers Thursday night during the regular monthly meeting. All five current officers have served in their respective positions for two years, the maximum allowed by the club's constitution. Most of the officers will stay on in some capacity with exepction of James (KF5YAF) who will turn over the office of treasurer to Lester (K5UNL). Next years officers also include Michael (WX5WMS) as Public Information Officers, Keith (KN5G) as Secretary, Craig (AF5RI) as Vice President and David (W5CWT) as President. The new officers will official assume their new roles on January 1, 2015.

The meeting marked the largest number of attendees yet, with 20 members and guests, some from as far as Tyler. 

The club also finalized plans for a booth at this year's Syrup Festival, scheduled for Saturday, November 8th. The club will set up a demonstration radio as well as have free literature on hand for anyone interested in amateur radio.

October 19, 2014

Tailgating in Paris - Not France!

Several Rusk County Amateurs flew into Paris this weekend for a little bit of radio culture. Instead of wine, cheese and stroll down the "Champs Elysees,"  local hams dined on hot dogs and shuffled around the flea-market booths. The Main Trading Company (well-loved by many East Texas amateurs) hosted a Saturday tailgating meeting in their hometown of Paris...TEXAS...complete with food and fun.

In addition to giving away items throughout the day, several radio vendors were on hand to answer questions and show off new products.

October 03, 2014

Ham club honors local Electric Co-op

Rusk County Electirc Cooperative accepts a plaque from the
Rusk County Amateur Radio Club.
A local amateur radio organization recently honored Rusk County Electric Cooperative for its on-going support of emergency communications. Members of the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club, often called “hams”, presented the co-op with a special plaque during a ceremony at the electric company's offices.

“The co-op has been indispensable in helping us provide communications in Rusk County--especially in times of emergencies,” said Keith Ballow, president of the radio club. “They have provided valuable space for our antenna and equipment which has allowed us to conduct storm spotting and prepare for major disasters.”

“We are very pleased to be able to help,” said Rhett Reid, who serves as the co-op's manager of engineering. Reid oversees the technical details of partnership between the two groups.
The co-op's general manager, Richard McLeon, noted that helping the community, especially in times of need, is a part of the cooperative philosophy. “This co-op is owned by its members which make up this community. So, supporting and sustaining the community by definition supports our members. And we are committed to those principles.”

For the past year, one of the co-op's 400-foot radio towers has served as a platform for an amateur radio repeater system. Licensed as “N5RCA” by the Federal Communication Commission, the repeater is owned by the club and is regularly used to relay both routine and emergency messages across a twelve-county area in East Texas and western Louisiana.

Before moving to its current location, the repeater stood on a water tower in Henderson. Ballow said the location severely limited the range of the repeater and meant important information could not be shared with other counties.

“It's made all the difference,” explained Ballow. "Rusk County Electric has been a great partner. They've really done a lot to make the community service we provide possible. We just can't say enough of how thankful we are for their continued support of ham radio and emergency communications."

September 17, 2014

Tyler has a new repeater

Dave Baxter, W5KPZ, and the East Texas Amateur Radio Society have graciously donated their 146.96 repeater to the Tyler Amateur Radio Club. The club has moved it to a new site in Southwest Tyler. It’s on the air with a negative offset and 136.5 Hz. CTCSS tone for access. Your repeater committee will come to you with more information at the next club meeting. (Reported on

September 10, 2014

Prepare with Amateur Radio

Emergency "Go Kit"
Most of us know how importance ham radio can be when a disaster strikes. In fact, many of us may have become hams thank in part to our interest in being prepared for the worst. But it can always be helpful to think about exactly how prepared we are. September is National Preparedness Month which means its a great time to think about how "ready" we are.

You must make sure your personally prepared for a disaster before you can even consider helping others with Amateur Radio. Here are a few suggestion to be ready for disaster communications:

  • Train regularly with your local club or organization. The best athletes know, "You play like you practice."
  • Think about how you might best be able to help during a disaster. Some of us are good at installing antennas and equipment, others of us are better at operating on the air. Not everyone is suited to doing every job. Sometimes just having helping hands, spare equipment or supplies can be helpful even if you cannot operate the radios yourself. Generators need fuel, operators need coffee, stations need to be set up. Figure out where you best fit in. Decide how you can help out if you stay home. Can you deploy at a shelter or EOC for a few hours? Operate from home? If you must evacuate. Can you deploy from where you have evacuated to, such as a shelter?

August 18, 2014

Ready...Set...SLOW DOWN with JT65

WSJT software for JT65
Start talking about EME ("Earth-Moon-Earth") or "Moon Bounce" and any ham with a few years experience will have starry-eyed visions of a massive array of yagi antennas mounted on precision rotors tracking the sky. But when it comes to weak-signal work these days, cheap computer processors and even cheaper sound cards carry the bulk of the workload, leaving antennas smaller and power amps lighter. Then there is an added bonus: software originally written to decode the weakest of signals in a sea of mud can be used by almost anyone to make terrestrial contacts which before were practically impossible.

The most popular mode is called JT65 and is available in a variety of software packages. For non-EME operators, the most popular is JT65-HF (along with its narrower companion mode, JT9) and can be worked by running software downloaded from Sourceforge or WSJT's website. There is also a video tutorial on how to install and run the Sourceforge program. The ARRL also has a good JT65 primmer including several links and instructions for getting started.

Once you have it installed and running, get ready to SLOW DOWN. JT65 is like working a sloth on CW. QSOs consist of a standard series of exchanges, each lasting 47 seconds. Each exchange starts at the top of the minute. That means each QSO will last as least five to six minutes, maybe longer if the band conditions are poor. For some of us (like me with a couple of young kids running around yelling) the slow pace is really enjoyable. I sometimes even do other things while the QSO is in progress.

Even though it is appropriately called JT65-HF, it can be done on SSB on VFH and UHF frequencies. Keith (KN5G) found a great website that has an ongoing "chat" of people who work JT65 terrestrially (there are also links on the same page for our EME friends).

So try it out and see what you think!

August 03, 2014

Hamfest a success in Shreveport!

UPDATE: Several of us got a chance to attend the Shreveport hamfest. There was a huge turn out and some great things to see and hear. Organizers at the hamfest said that they hope to expand the event even more next year.

Just a reminder of the Shreveport Hamfest coming up this Saturday (August 9th).

The event will be at the Red Cross Building, 805 Brook Hollow Drive, Shreveport, LA. The hamfest opens at 9:00 a.m. and runs to 3:00 p.m. Admission is $5. Visit the website for more information at

Should be a nice event and it is less than an hour's drive from East Texas! After several years of not having a Hamfest in Shreveport, I hope to see a lot of East Texas hams there supporting this event.

July 18, 2014

FCC gives "N5RCA" to Rusk County Club

It became official today! When the FCC updated its database this afternoon, N5RCA was officially given to the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club as the club's call sign.

The call sign was the first in a series of choices submitted to the FCC in late June after the club received a sequential call from the agency.

The new call sign may be used by the club and is overseen by the station's trustee and club president, Keith Ballow.

July 17, 2014

Moving traffic across the airwaves

Jo Ann Keith, KA5AZK, is serious when it comes to traffic.

"I really love this stuff," she told the members of the RCARC during the club meeting in June. Jo Ann, with the help of  her husband, John, told the club about the national message handling system and how amateurs can send messages from one end of the country to another.

"It might seem obsolete," admitted Jo Ann, "but there is still a need," she said. Jo Ann noted that during the two largest Gulf Coast hurricanes in recent years, hams were the only ones able to get health and welfare messages out of the region.

Jo Ann said that during an emergency, not knowing how to effectively pass messages or participate in a traffic net, "can make a hectic situation even worse." She noted that it is much better to learn how to do it before it becomes necessary

Jo Ann, who lives in the Gilmer area, manages the 7290 Traffic Net which meets twice a day Monday through Friday (10am and 1pm) and once on Saturday mornings (10am).

She gave every member a complete packet of information complete with an ARRL Radiogram form, tip sheets and full instructions on how to originate, send and receive traffic. More information is avialable at

July 11, 2014

Field Day 2014 is in the log!

Field Day was finally here and the bands were hopping! Several local amateurs and visitors dropped by the Rusk County EOC to check out all the Field Day operations.

Craig Roquemore and his son Chris worked together to log the 100th station during the special event. The club used the call sign K5R during Field Day.

The club operated as a 2F station, with two transmitters on the air at the same time. Members put up two inverted "V" antennas as well as an end-fed long wire and 2m vertical antenna.

The club used N1MM logger and several mesh nodes to link logging computers together. the EOC has a nice "smart board" which allowed the group to monitor the log and current statistics live on the wall during the event. Thanks to Bob Tomlinson for the use of his FT-1000 which provided a great voice signal on HF.

Full photo album of RCARC's Field Day Station.

July 09, 2014

Going digital is easier than you think!

by KN5G - Enjoying a little JT65 on 6 Meters this morning. Once you have your computer and rig interfaced for digital modes they all work pretty easily just by switching software. JT65, BPSK, RTTY, they all use the same interface between the computer and transceiver.

I understand from talking to the HRD folks at HAM-COM, that the latest version of Ham Radio Deluxe being released right about now will support the JT65 mode along with all the others that it already supports.

The new versions of HRD cost around $100, but it is a super program if you are considering interfacing your computer to your HF rig. The older FREE version of HRD is still out there if you want to give that a try before dropping $100 on the new version.

The screen-shots here are from the WSJT-X program, which is a free download.

July 02, 2014

Rusk County's New and Upgraded Hams!

Congratulations to a group of new and upgraded hams in Rusk County! Bob Tomlinson upgraded to Extra, Micheal Searcy upgraded to General and Peyton Chenault (a brand new ham!) got a Technician license. All three hams took their tests during the RCARC's first ever test session in Henderson. A generous group of Volunteer Examiners from Cherokee County made the session possible. New testing sessions are already being planned and will be announced here on the website.

Craig Roquemore and David Chenault also recently upgraded to Extra at the recent HamCom hamfest in Plano.

June 11, 2014

County and City declare Radio Week!

Both Rusk County and the City of Henderson have declared the week of June 23-29, 2014, Amateur Radio Week. The declarations come as the the RCARC prepares to host its first-ever test session on Thursday, June 26th and Field Day that weekend.

During their regular commissioners' court meeting on Monday (June 9th), Rusk County Judge Joel Hale thanked several members of the RCARC for their readiness to provide public service radio communications. The county's commissioners then unanimously approved the declaration.

The next evening, during the Henderson City Council's meeting, Mayor Pat Brack made a similar declaration and thanked the club for its assistance with storm spotting and other emergency communication assistance.

June 01, 2014

Preparing for Field Day 2014

Field Days is fours weeks away and it is time to think about specifics!

The club asked, and received permission to hold Field Day 2014 at the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) which serves as the county's Emergency Operations Center or "EOC". There is a special provision in the ARRL Field Day rules that allow for EOC operations and would classify our station as an "F" station. Once nice benefit is we can use normal power mains and even has air conditioning! (Can I get a big "yeah!"?)

 Going over the rules again here are some thoughts:

The first thought is deciding on how many transmitters we need. Field Day rules classify all participating groups by the number of radios they have transmitting simultaneously at any time during the event AND the type of operation (low power, off the grid, individual at home, at an

May 30, 2014

Calling CQ CQ CQ de KG5CGV!

Who is that on the air? It's the RCARC with its brand new club call sign! The FCC officially assigned KG5CGV to the club earlier this week and it now appears in the FCC database. 

But don't get too friendly with it yet. The club decided several months back to apply for a vanity callsign that would be shorter and more significant than a sequentially generated callsign. However, you have to have the regular call before you can apply for a vanity, so this is only the first step. Still, it calls for a celebration!

Here's a link to the page on the FCC's website so you can see it for yourself:

Catching DX with "Regular-Guy" Station

By W5CWT - I've really come to enjoy JT65 and the slooooow QSOs it allows. I'm able to work some great DX with a very modest station (at only 20 watts!) while doing other work on my computer. NICE! I recorded a quick video of a recent QSO with an Italian station to give you a feel for it.

May 23, 2014

Take it to Ground! Protecting your gear

Tom Wilbeck speaks on grounds
(VIDEO) Tom Wilbeck, N5KGN, from Longview, spoke about the importance of having a good grounding system during the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club's monthly meeting Thursday evening.

Tom, who spent his career working with in the electronics and telephone industry, said his motivation for building a safe system came quite suddenly, in less than 4 milliseconds to be exact.

"The entire room lit up with a green glow. And although I had my eyes closed, it was so bright, I could see it through my eyelids." It happened just over 20 years ago, Tom explain. He was in bed when his amateur radio tower took a direct hit from lightening. The strike took out his computer and several items in his radio shack, and while he says he didn't loose his main HF rig, he did gain a healthy respect for proper grounding techniques.

May 10, 2014

6 Meter Opening brings QSOs

Six Meters is open to California this afternoon. Several six stations working into Texas.

Up-Coming Events for RCARC

Up-Coming events for the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club

22 May, RCARC Monthly Meeting - Henderson Fire Department, Station One, West Main St.

14 – 16 June, VHF QSO Party - For amateurs in the US and Canada (and their possessions) to work as many amateur stations in as many different 2 degrees x 1 degree Maidenhead grid squares as possible using authorized frequencies above 50 MHz.

26 June, Rusk County Amateur Radio Club Testing Session, with monthly club meeting to follow the testing session - 6 p.m. Henderson Fire Department, Station One, West Main St. Let’s talk this up and encourage folks to take advantage of this testing session to up-grade their license, and especially let’s get the word out to non-licensed folks that are interested in getting their amateur license.

28 – 29 June, Field Day - To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. The Rusk County Club is planning to have three stations on the air and we will need operators to man the stations. We will have a HF, 6 Meter, and 2 Meter station set up at the Rusk County EOC Office, located on the North West side of the Rusk County Court House, in the old county jail building. Make plans now to come out and participate. Everyone is welcome to take a turn or turns operating the various stations. Be sure to check the RCARC website for updates as we firm up the plans and schedule. Spread the word!

KN5G - Keith

May 02, 2014

Storms prompt Rusk Co. Skywarn Net

A series of storms moved through Rusk County in the early morning hours of Monday, April 26, prompting Rusk County hams to activate a llocal Skywarn net on the RCARC's repeater.

Michael (KF5QXL) drove from his home in Smith County, tracking a series of cells that had developed out infront of a dryline moving across East Texas. The net was activate just after 2 a.m. The storm moved just east, south of Henderson and just north of Mt. Enterprise.

At one point, Michael found himself in the unpleasant reality of being right in the middle of a Tornado Warning. The warning was issued when National Weather Service forecasters saw signs of rotation in the cell. Due to limited visibility, Michael was not able to see a funnel cloud, although he did report numerous sightings of wall clouds associated with the storm.

 Jon, (NU5G) also checked into the Skywarn net and spotted from his location just south of Henderson. The net was finally shutdown just after 4 a.m., once all the potentially severe weather had passed the area.

April 23, 2014

Large crowd turns out for Skywarn

More than 30 firefighters, hams, emergency responders and citizens turned out to learn about storms and how to report severe weather to the National Weather Service (NWS). Bill Parker, with the NWS office in Shreveport, taught a basic and an advanced class Tuesday evening (4/22/14) at the Rusk County Sheriff's Office.

Several RCARC members were part of the group. The club is currently working on establishing the protocols to activate storm-spotting nets when severe weather is possible in the area.

RCARC hams it up with the Kiwanis

Richard (K5RRB) and David (W5CWT) spoke to the Henderson Kiwanis' Club on Tuesday about the importance and fun of amateur radio. The Kiwanis were most impressed with Richard's ability to make a QSO to Lake Palestine from the basement of the ETMC hospital, where the club meets for lunch.

"How many of your cell pones have service down here?" Richard asked, before calling "CQ" on the repeater. When a fellow ham responded from more than 50 miles away in crystal clear audio, the room was in awe. It was a fine example of how when everything else fails...ham radio!

April 17, 2014

SKYWARN class set for tonight

It's official! Rusk County residents will have an opportunity to refresh their storm-spotting skills (or learn them for the first time) in April. The National Weather Service will be in Rusk County on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. The class will run from 6 pm - 9 pm at the Rusk County Sheriff's Department Training Room, 210 W Charlevoix St, in Henderson. (Click link for a map).

The free training will include both Basic and Advance level training sessions and is open to the public. Hams, along with local EMS, firefighters and first responders are encouraged to attend.  Rusk County Office of Emergency Management is organizing the classes, so if you plan to attend, please RSVP emailing Patrick Dooley at patrick.dooley[at] so he can get a head count.

April 13, 2014

Club enjoys time at the I-20 Tailgate

Several members of the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club traveled to LaTourneau University Saturday to the I-20 Tailgate. The event, hosted by more than 15 radio clubs from around East Texas, was a great success.

The RCARC donated one of several door prizes given away during the event and several members picked up a number of items from tailgaters, including radios, microphones and antennas.

April 11, 2014

Club participates in Electric Coop's Expo

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club participated in the annual Farm and Ranch Expo hosted by the Rusk County Electric Cooperative in Henderson Thursday. Richard (K5RRB) and Craig (KD5YHR) set up the club's booth and shared their passion of ham radio with Expo visitors.

The club was a part of the health and emergency services section of the expo, providing visitors with opportunities to learn more about preparing for local emergencies and improving their health. Several non-hams stopped by the booth to talk about ham radio and ask how they might begin the process of become hams themselves!

April 07, 2014

Texas Parks On The Air a success!

KN5G and K5RRB enjoying the
morning at Martin Creek State Park.
On April 5, 2014, members of the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club activated the Martin Creek Lake State Park for the Texas State Parks on the Air Contest. Five members of the RCARC club met at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning to erect antennas and set up the amateur, “HAM” radio station on the shore of Martin Creek Lake.

Guests at the adjoining campsites were curious as to why five grown men would be using a rod-n-reel to cast a fishing wait up and over as high a tree limb as we could manage. After explaining to them that we were planning to pull a length of wire up as high as possible to use as a radio antenna they knowingly nodded their heads and went back to their campsite, but they kept a watchful eye on their kids in case they happened got too close to what I’m sure seemed to them to be crazy radio guys.

April 03, 2014

Test of the Storm Spotter Net set

By W5CWT, Dave  - Next week (April 14-16) there will be a test of the local Storm Spotter Activation Plan including a Storm Spotter Net on the RCARC repeater. The test will be initiated by call through the county's CodeRed Alert system to all Rusk County hams who are registered with the county as storm spotters.

The test will be during the evening hours on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Spotters should receive a call and/or an email requesting storm spotter activation. The call will identify itself as a "test". It will also instruct spotters to check into the storm spotter net on the local repeater at that time. A "test" net will be conducted immediately after the alert to simulate a real activation. However, spotters will NOT be asked to deploy to any spotting locations during the test.

March 20, 2014

Club activates Martin Creek Lake Park

TSPOTA Certificate
Join the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club on April 5th as we activate the Martin Creek Lake State Park for the Texas State Parks On The Air contest.

We will meet  just before 9:00 a.m. at the park to set up. The contest will run from 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (local time). Spouses, children and friends are all invited to attend! If this sounds like something you would like to participate in, let me know and we'll start making plans. 

According to the contest's organizers, the TSPOTA contest was conceived with three main goals in mind: to promote public awareness of ham radio and Texas' beautiful state parks system; to contribute to the recognition that Texas has a very diverse and wonderful ecology; and to promote camaraderie within the ranks of Texas Amateur Radio operators. It is with your participation that we believe those goals will be achieved.

For more details: For directions to the Park, click here: Martin Creek Lake Park Map

March 13, 2014

Longview turns on D-Star Repeater

The Lonview East Texas Amateur Radio Club has turned on thier D-Star repeater system which covers a large part of East Texas. The range covers most of Tyler, Longview and Marshall and connects through the Internet to repeaters in Dallas, Austin and across the country.

For more information on the local D-Star repeater, visit the Longview club's page here.

March 05, 2014

Rusk County Hams get connecting

Jerry Ritchie gave a very interesting talk on various RF Connectors and their impedance characteristics. Surprisingly the very common PL-259 connector is not even rated for impedance, but is used extensively in the Amateur Radio Service.

The BNC and N connectors can be purchased for use in 50 Ohm feed line circuits. Fortunately the PL-259 can provide acceptable service in the HF
bands but is reaching its upper limits in the 2 meter band and can really degrade an antenna system in the 70 CM band.

February 26, 2014

Time to renew your club membership!

It's DUES time!
A new year means another chance to learn new skills, meet new friends and hangout on the repeater with some of the best folks in East Texas. But, as always, there are bills to pay and those are covered by your club dues! We couldn't do it without you!

Dues for 2014 are due now, so bring cash or a check to the next meeting. Remember, dues are an affordable $25 for individual hams, $35 for you and your whole family or $10 for a non-voting associate member. Every dollar helps to promote ham radio in Rusk county so dig deep y'all!

Checks can be made payable to the RCARC (or Rusk County Amateur Radio Club).

February 25, 2014

A little propaganda from Cuba

By W5CWT - It's not every day that you find revolutionary propaganda from a communist country in your mailbox. But hey, last Friday must have been a special day.

Anyone who works 20-meter PSK knows Cuban station are a common site on the waterfall. I've worked several of them. Last Friday I received my first QSL card from one of those Cuban stations, CO2WL. It was sent direct in what appears to be a special self-folded envelope designed specifically for QSL card.

The outside of the envelope contains the phrase, "Federation of Radio Amateurs of Cuba" in Spanish. Also according to the envelope, the Cuban government has passed a resolution approving a special postage rate for QSL cards: 5-cents (actually, not a bad idea).

February 24, 2014

Fox hunting in Henderson

Craig (KD5YHE), Keith (KN5G) and David (W5CWT) along with a couple future hams--and eventually Dudley (N5SAY)--went fox hunting Saturday morning. The fox, actually a radio inside a weather-proof container, took shelter near the Meals on Wheel building at Fair Park in Henderson.

The fox was built using Craig's BoaFeng HT and a voice recorder on which David had pre-recorded a voice and CW message. Keith brought a couple of large 2-meter yagi antennas which, while great a early one, proved difficult once the group was within a few hundred feet of transmitter. The signal was simply too strong and it was difficult to determine
which direction the null was -- even with an inline attenuater!

Regardless, the whole group learned a few lessons and had a lot of fun. We will work on plans for a larger, more in-depth fox hunt in the near future.

Click "Read More..." below for more photos!