December 30, 2020

Using UZ7HO for Winlink (Updated!)

While there are several ways to access the Winlink system, some are easier than others. One way is to use a "software" TNC (terminal node controller). A TNC is basically a modem for a radio and was originally a piece of hardware. It converted data into tones that could be transmitted to another radio and eventually decoded back into text. But today, even relatively modest microprocessors are fast enough to use software as a means of encoding and decoding tones for radios. In fact, while some will still certainly argue the point, tests have shown that software TNCs can outperform hardware TNCs for many applications including packet radio. 

Software TNCs use a computer's sound card to listen for and play tones to and from the radio. Many modern desktop radios come with USB soundcard built in, which means all you need to use them is a USB cable connected to your computer and some software.

One of the software packages currently available is written by UZ7HO and is simply called, "Soundmodem". (On the website, the file is called The is a different program and not what you are looking for.) It has been around for many years but the programmer recently released an updated version which make it even better. Previously, you had to use VOX (voice activated control, or in this case tone activated control) so your radio would automatically switch back and forth between receiving and transmitting. Switching back and forth is called the PTT (or push-to-talk) function. (Another option was to use a Signalink which provides a soundcard and PTT functions.

However, the newest version of Soundmodem includes a new feature that allows you to automatically control most popular desktop radios. Simply download the file from the UZ7HO's website, unzip it and place the files in the same folder as Soundmodem. Then, in the Settings menu, under Devices, you'll see a section called "PTT Port". Choose "CAT" for computer automated and hit Apply. You'll get an error which will be followed by a "Advanced Settings" where you can choose your radio, port, speed and other options. It worked very well with my IC-7100 and really make Soundmodem even more useful!

It's really a longer story, but to use UZ7HO, you simply install the Winlink software and then configure it to use the KISS port on UZ7HO. Then in Soundmodem, make sure to enable the KISS Interface so the two programs can talk to each other.

October 08, 2020

Club to visit OEM Station

The Rusk County ARC will visit the Rusk County's Office of Emergency Management radio room where the club's HF station is housed. The club will meet at 7 p.m. at the OEM office (behind the Rusk County Courthouse) for the tour and presentation and then will move to the South Main Church of Christ for the remainder of the meeting. Visitors are always welcome!

The OEM station consists of an Icom 7100, an LDG autotuner, a Signlink digital interface and a Pactor-4 Modem feeding into a multiband roof-top vertical.

August 02, 2020

Club changes regular meeting night

The club has decided to move its regular monthly meeting night from the fourth Thursday of each month to the second Thursday. The change will be effective with the September meeting.

The club originally choose to meet on the fourth week due to scheduling conflicts with the Henderson Fire Department meeting room where the club has met since the club formed. The fourth week did post a few problems such as having to cancel or move the meeting each November and December to avoid the holidays. After some discussion on the email reflector, most of the members finally settled on the second Thursday of the month as a suitable replacement. 

NOTE: Currently we are meeting at the South Main Church of Christ, 402 South Main, Henderson, TX

July 26, 2020

New Lightning Monitor added to site

We've added a real-time lightning monitor to the club's website. You'll find it on the Weather page just below the National Weather Service's outlook images. 

The data comes from which provides lightning data from around th world. Visit their site if you'd like to explore current storms anywhere in the world. 

The information included on this site is centered on Henderson and is often about 10 seconds delayed, but could be more depending on network factors.

June 11, 2020

In-Person Meeting Planned for June

The RCARC is planning an in-person meeting for their monthly June club meeting. The meeting will be at 7pm on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Due to the Fire Station still being closed for outside use, the club with meet at the South Main Church of Christ, 402 South Main. The easiest parking wil located on the Van Buren side of the building. Look for signs.

All visitors are welcome to attend, licensed or not, you do not have to be a member of the club. The location is large enough for social distancing. Visitors are welcome to wear a mask and hand sanitizer will be available. Here is a page showing the layout.

March 18, 2020

Louisiana ham fined $18,000 by FCC

From the ARRL - In an enforcement case prompted by complaints filed in 2017, the FCC has imposed an $18,000 forfeiture on Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, for intentional interference and failure to identify. The FCC had proposed the fine in a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) in the case in July 2018, and, based on Materne’s response to the NAL, the agency affirmed the fine in a March 12 Forfeiture Order (FO).

As the FCC recounted in the FO, an FCC agent “observed Materne causing intentional interference to a local repeater by generating digital noise into an analog radio.” The agent further reported that Materne failed to transmit his call sign, as required.

Materne disputed the FCC’s findings, arguing that the NAL should be canceled because the agent “was mistaken in his determination that the source of the interference was Materne’s station” as his

March 16, 2020

March meeting planned for ON-AIR

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club will hold it's regular monthly meeting in March on the air. Due to COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the City of Henderson, the club's regular meeting room at the Fire Department is not available.

So, the club has decided to hold the meeting on the club's N5RCA repeater. The meeting will be on Thursday, March 26. The meeting will start at the typical net time of 7:30 p.m. instead of the normal 7 p.m. meeting time. This will help avoid interference with another net held the same frequency (on a different repeater). The N5RCA repeater is at 147.68 (- offset, PL131.8).

Several members noted that holding the net on the 2-meter repeater complies with the CDC recommends staying at least six feet from each other people to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since two meters is slightly longer than six feet!

February 27, 2020

Building a Power Distribution Box

Karan and Keith solder the connectors.
The Rusk County ARC built power distribution boxes during their February club meeting. The boxes, based on a design from AE5CZ and a similar build by KK6OYV, accept a single input and provide three outputs for radios, tuners or other devices.

The club used an online 3D Printing service (CloudCraft) to produce the cases and sources the Anderson Powerpole connectors from Powerwerx. Several of the members who built the boxes are relatively new hams who also benefited from the soldering practice.

The soldering job, in fact, was a little more difficult than expected as the connectors needed to be carefully aligned in order to fit inside the final case. Also, most builders added two small copper wires as "bus bars" across the bottom of the connectors to strengthen the solder joints.

The kits came in right around $15 each and we still have two extra kits still available is anyone would like one.

Adding a bus bar proved very tedious, but effective.

Danny's is ready to go into the case.

It's finished! (With some added decoration)

January 26, 2020

Winter Field Day heats up!

A handful of Rusk County hams made a good showing for Winter Field Day 2020 over the past weekend. Keith, KN5G, offered his "deer camp" to host the station and even with a few sprinkles at the very end, it was a perfect location.

The station consisted of David's, W5CWT, go-box with a FT-991 and Keith's LiFePO4 30Ah battery. The battery kept the station on for nearly 10 hours without a hitch. Group erected an end-feed long wire antenna, an inverted-V and a multi-band BuddiePole. All three antenna's performed well across the bands.

The group also enjoyed hot dogs grilled on the campfire (thanks Stephen for the chili!) and some coffee to stay warm.

January 24, 2020

Learn more about Powerpoles!

David, W5CWT, presented a presentation on Powerpoles at the January club meeting. Powerpoles are the standard for ARES and RACES groups across the country and have become the typical power connector for most amateurs.

Powerpoles are easy to install and provide a simple and safe way to connect your gear to someone else's power supply. There are even several powersupplies and radios that come already equipped with powerpoles.

The club will hold a "Build Night" next month (February 2020) during the club meeting to construct a Power Distribution Unit using powerpoles. The unit will accept a single input and have three output connectors to run a radio, a tuner and something else. Cost to build the project is $15. Let us know if you want to participate by registering here.

The presentation is available here (thanks to the unknown ham who originally created it!)

January 21, 2020

New Section affects Sweepstakes

A new section has been announced by the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC). The RAC is Canada's equivalent of the ARRL in the states. The change will bring the total number of "Sections" used as multipliers in many ham radio contests to 84. That will also be the number of Sections needed for a clean sweep in the ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) this year.

The new section resulted from the addition of Prince Edward Island (PE) and will become effective on April 1 2020 (not a joke!). RAC said its Prince Edward Island members have been working for some time to create a separate Section for RAC ARES activities there. The provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will continue to be in the Maritimes (MAR) Section.

To see a map of all the ARRL/RAC sections, as well as a ton of other good information, visit EI8IC's very complete website.