Tech Net News 09-01-2018

meerkat 180830113030_1_540x360
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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Skynet 8-25-18 NASA Analog Missions (Part 2) & Constellation Aquila 9PM CT

Lunar Electric Rover (LER) Desert Testing in Flagstaff, ArizonaSKYNET!!!!  9PM CT – 10:30PM CT

Saturday’s Topic: “NASA Analog Missions (Part 2)”  and “Tour of the Constellation Aquila”

Net Control: Billye KF5PDS

Afterglow Movie 10:30PM:
“Moon” 2009

2-Meter Repeater W5FC: 146.880MHz, PL 110.9, –

Echolink: W5FC-R, node 37247. Search “DARC Skynet” Search “DARC Skynet” Search “KE5ICX”

Direct Video Link:

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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.


Tech Net News 08-18-2018

This HF dipole array has transmitted conspiracy theories for thousands of miles. Credit:

Don’t forget: the DARC needs volunteers for the show-and-tell at our September 4th, 2018, meeting and for our October 27th, 2018 Tech Net on the Hill event. Please sign up! Show and tell presentations only need to be a few minutes long.

Our next Lecture and Lab is coming up in a week: join us on Saturday the 25th to build an antenna analyzer using your RTL-SDR dongle. You’ll need $45.00, a Windows or Linux laptop computer, a 12V power supply, and your dongle. You might also want to bring a VHF or UHF antenna to analyze! I’ll make a special post with more details in the next couple of days.

I’ve also been reminded that the Plano Balloon Festival, Sept. 21-23, is still looking for volunteers. Most of those who’ve signed up already are folks who have to be there: volunteer coordinators, and the like. More hams are definitely needed for this big and beautiful event.

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Skynet 8-18-18 “Top Astronomy Websites” & Constellation Sagittarius 9PM CT

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 9.53.25 AM

SKYNET!!!!  9PM CT – 10:30PM CT

Saturday’s Topic: “Top Astronomy Websites”  and “Tour of the Constellation Sagittarius” 

Net Control: Tom KE5ICX

Afterglow Movie 10:30PM: 

“Special Bulletin” (1983)

2-Meter Repeater W5FC: 146.880MHz, PL 110.9, –

Echolink: W5FC-R, node 37247. Search “DARC Skynet” Search “DARC Skynet” Search “KE5ICX”

Direct Video Link:

Yahoo Groups:


Saturday’s DARC SkyNet is at 9PM CT.

Discussion topic of the evening.

The 10 Best Space and Astronomy Sites on the Internet – From the Astronotes Website

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