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.

May 31, 2019

Winlink Node Changes Frequency

The packet Winlink node in Henderson has permanently changed frequencies. The node, designated W5CWT-10, has moved from it's original frequency of 145.07 MHz to it's new frequency at 145.01 MHz.

The change was made to help strengthen a growing network of packet stations in East Texas. The node is can now be used as a digipeater to connect to others stations, including the N9JN-10 Winlink Node in Tyler.

To use the Henderson station as a digipeater, simply specify it as W5CWT-7. The node is located in the OEM building in downtown with the antenna approximately 40 feet in the air.

April 23, 2019

SKYWARN class set for this Thursday

The National Weather Service in Shreveport, LA will provide free SKYWARN training in Rusk County on Thursday, April 25th, 2019. The training will be held at the Henderson Civic Center, is free and open to the public.

 NWS staff will teach both Beginner and Advanced SKYWARN levels including basic storm identification, storm mechanics, severe weather indicators, spotter safety and best practices. The "Advanced" level will include topics on radar products and in-depth meteorology.

The training is required for all active ARES storm spotters in North Texas.

April 22, 2019

ARES Helps When Storm Ends 5K Race

Rusk County ARES members were on hand last Saturday when weather forced organizers of Henderson's annual Resurrection Run 5K to call the race in the middle of the event. Then the decision was made, amateur radio operators sprung into action. It was something even race officials weren't really expecting.

"When we asked [hams] to help out, I thought, 'they won't much since we never have anyone get hurt,'" said Kayla, who oversaw race preparations. "But wow! We couldn't have done it without you!"

Before the race began, ARES members were deployed to several locations along the race route to report on runners' progress and unexpected emergencies. One operator was assigned to a mobile unit driven by a race official. The National Weather Service had predicted severe weather during the day and fortunately all ARES members were trained storm spotters.

The first hour of the race was relatively eventful until a band of thunderstorm moved into the area. The net control station, run by Eric, KR5G, kept an eye on lightening strikes using equipment on loan the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management.

Finally, when the sky lit up with a strike within less than a half mile, race officials made the call; the race was done. Instantly, operators reported in on the location of runners, nearly half of which were still scattered along the race route.

The mobile unit was dispatched to pick up anyone with special needs or runners who were in open areas and most exposed to danger. Within 15 minutes, all the runners had been alerted to the danger and many had been brought back to race headquarters. 

February 28, 2019

ARRL members elect new NTX SM

ARRL members in the North Texas Section have elected a new Section Manager (SM). Steven Lott Smith, KG5VK, who lives near the town of Ben Franklin, received 714 votes to 576 for Ken Mitchell, KD2KW, of Oak Point.

Smith has been president of the Key City Amateur Radio Club in Abilene, and of the Shreveport Amateur Radio Association in Louisiana. Smith will pick up the reins from current SM Jay Urish, W5GM, who opted not to run for a new term after serving for the past 2 years.

Smith was one of four new ARRL Section Managers elected in the just-concluded winter election cycle. Section Manager election ballots were counted on February 19 at ARRL Headquarters. Smith begins his term on April 1.

February 06, 2019

Listen to Rusk County online!

Thanks to the efforts and equipment of Jon (NU5G), anyone can monitor the N5RCA repeater as well as current events in Rusk County online! For just over a year now, the Rusk County public safety scanner feed has been streaming.

Jon has dedicated a computer for the feed and has added an N5RCA live scanner feed as well. The feeds stream 24/7, have a short 30-45 second delay, and are archived for 180 days.

There are several iOS and Android scanner apps that can be used or you can listen via a web browser here:

Rusk County Public Safety

  • Rusk County Sheriff Primary
  • Rusk County Fire
  • City of Henderson Police dispatch
  • City of Henderson Fire

N5RCA 146.7800 MHz Rusk County Skywarn Repeater

  • N5RCA 146.780 MHz Repeater

February 04, 2019

New 2-Meter Fusion Repeater tested

Keith (KN5G) has been putting together a new Fusion (C4FM) repeater. The repeater was purchased with club funds nearly two years ago. The club had planned to replace its current analog repeater with the new digital system. However, engineering issues with the new repeater delayed worked for sometime.

Now, Keith has the repeater on the air for experimental purposed and to test the range of the system and the effectiveness of the duplexes. The repeater is currently located west of Henderson, although Keith said he is considering relocating it in town for further testing.

The repeater can be access on 145.250 MHz with an offset of -0.6 MHz and a PL tone of 131.8. If can be used in both analog FM mode and digital C4FM (or Fusion) mode with a compatible radio.

(Yes, I know the photo in this post is of a 70cm repeater. It is actually a picture of NU5G's Fusion repeater.)

February 03, 2019

RCARC elects new officers for 2019

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club has elected new officers for the 2019 term. The election was held at the club's October meeting. With several of the 2018 officers ending a second term, most were replaced by new faces.

The new officers include Michael Searcy (WX5WMS) as President, Eric Smith (KR5G) as Vice President, Dana Ashby (AG5DA) as treasurer, Craig Roquemore (AF5RI) as secretary, and Danny Burrows (KG5OSD) as public information officer. The new slate of officers took on their roles on January 1, 2019.