Tech Net News 09-15-2018


Don’t forget to sign up for the October 7th Lifewalk by using the contact us form or by reaching out to Randy Patterson, KE5JIT, directly. The club needs your participation!

And if you need a public service event right now—you just can’t wait until October 7th—the Plano Balloon Festival could use your help. You can sign up and find out more at their website. The festival is coming up next weekend, so you’ll need to get moving.

Next weekend—Saturday the 22nd, to be exact—also marks our next Lecture and Lab. Come out to the Dallas Medical Center from 10 am to 3 pm and you can join in the DARC RTL-SDR Roundup: a chance to get technical help, show off your skills, share your discoveries, and indulge in all things SDR.

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Tech Net News 09-08-2018

csm_waedc_2b3afa5c0dOur next Lecture and Lab will be an RTL-SDR Roundup. Club experts will help you solve software problems and guide you to get the most from your RTL-SDR dongle.

The club still needs volunteers for the 2018 Prism Health Lifewalk on Sunday, October 7th, 2018. Please contact the club and sign up!

We could always use a few more presenters for Tech Net on the Hill on October 27th. Let us know if you could share your skills!

There are a couple of very cool things on the contest calendar this weekend: the ARRL September VHF Contest is going on now, and the “other DARC” is sponsoring a major event, the Worked All Europe DX Contest. European stations get points for working non-European stations, and you can get extra points for sending message traffic—excerpts from your own station log. Please check out the rules for full details.

UPDATE: Bill Brady, KF5ZBL, would like to remind us that the W9IMS Indianapolis Motor Speedway Special Event is almost done for 2018! Because of poor propagation conditions, they’re also on FT-8.

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Tech Net News 09-01-2018

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Meerkats are cute, cuddly, and lethal.  The piranhas of the desert! Credit: Dominic Cram

Don’t forget that the next club meeting is this Tuesday, and we’re looking for folks who can contribute to the show-and-tell. It’s easy to miss a meeting by accident when it’s on the first day of the work week. I’ve done it…don’t let it happen to you.

The Meeting on the Air and RACES Net will be tomorrow night, too; it might not feel like a Sunday, but it really is.

There’s nothing too surprising on the contest calendar this weekend, but we’ve got two state QSO parties. Alabama’s party ends tonight, and the Tennessee QSO Party is Sunday-only.

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Lecture and Lab Presentation 08-26-2018: Measuring Return Loss with the RTL-SDR

return loss plot_cropSeveral club members and guests have asked if I can share my presentation…so here it is!

Some links you might find helpful include:

The scanning and comparison software that we installed and practiced using, RTLSDR-Scanner:

The “runner up” software that can, sometimes, display spectrum graphs in real time, Spektrum: (be sure to use version 1.2)

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Tech Net News 08-25-2018

Helianthus_whorl credit l shyamal
Kansas is awesome! “Helianthus Whorl” by L. Shyamal,

Hey, you. Pssst! Please sign up! Our club show-and-tell is coming soon. It won’t be a fun meeting this September 4th if you just wait and watch…plan to participate instead!

The contest calendar offers some great QSO parties for your enjoyment this weekend. The Hawaii QSO Party ends tomorrow evening; the islands are divided into 14 multiplier zones. There are lots of stations and locations to work. The Ohio QSO Party ends at 11 pm Dallas time today, so get moving.

And last but not at all least: the Kansas QSO Party is one of the most elaborate special events I’ve ever seen: it’s their 10th anniversary, and so there are special rules and tons of prizes, including t-shirts, sweaters, and antique radio postage stamps. Some of these prizes are not hard to earn at all, and they encourage “stamp collecting.” They have put 61 1×1 special event stations on the air this weekend, leaving me just a little bit amazed. Check them out and get working! Your time will be up at 3:00 pm tomorrow.

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Lecture and Lab 08-25-2018: What to Bring

analyzer setup IMG_20180710_142419262This Saturday’s Lecture and Lab should be a fun one: we’re going to learn about different ways to turn our RTL-SDR USB dongles into antenna analyzers. Bring yourself and your curiosity. Bring $45.00! Bring your RTL-SDR dongle. Bring your favorite ideas about what to do with the RTL-SDR. We’ll have time to talk about them. Besides all those things, you should bring:

    1. A laptop computer. A Raspberry Pi might not have the horsepower, but if you’re stubborn, you can try.
    2. You’ll save time if you download and install the software we’ll be using. We’ll start by doing things the easy way, with the RTLSDR-Scanner. The installation is very easy for Windows, but a little more involved for Mac or Ubuntu. If you have a Windows or Linux laptop, you can also install version 1.2 of Spektrum, which we’ll discuss and experiment with.
    3. Bring your RTL-SDR Dongle! We will not have any for sale. If you’d like to support the club, your could order a dongle or a dongle with small dipoles through
    4. A 12-14V power DC power supply for your noise source. It helps if it has a variety of barrel connectors so that you can be sure of having the right one. It can be very low power; only 0.2 amps are needed.
    5. Bring an antenna to measure. You can even bring more than one. (You can bring a lawn chair to analyze! Have Fun! —KE5ICX) We’re going to have plenty of time to measure antennas, experiment with the scanning software, and share our favorite tips and tricks for the RTL-SDR.