Category Archives: Club Newsletter

Nashua Area Radio Club Newsletter Articles. You can find an archive of our Club Newsletters on our website.

Nashua Area Radio Club Family Picnic at Greeley Park

On August 19, we held the Nashua Area Radio Club Family Picnic at Greeley Park in Nashua.  There was good weather for the picnic and members brought delicious food to the potluck lunch.  We all had a great time catching up with club members and their spouses and hunting for the fox.  We also visited the Art Show, which was held in the park that weekend.

Tom, AB1NS, Hamilton, K1HMS, Jeff, WA1HCO, and Fred, AB1OC at the Nashua Area Radio Club Family Picnic
Tom, AB1NS, Hamilton, K1HMS, Jeff, WA1HCO, and Fred, AB1OC at the Club Picnic

Fred, AB1OC hid the club’s two fox transmitters, which provided for a challenging Fox Hunt.

Hunting for the Fox
Hunting for the Fox

The  picnic was a fun event for members and their families.

SOTA/POTA Activation on Mt. Washington

On August 26, a group of members did a SOTA/POTA Activation from the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast at 6288 ft.  Members reached the summit by different means.  Abby, AB1BY and Mike AB1YK hiked to the summit.  Patrick, KC1HDN and his XYL Dorothy took the Cog Railway and others took the Mount Washington Auto Road.

Entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road
Entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road

Driving up the Auto Road

Fred, AB1OC, Tony, KC1DLX, and Anita, AB1QB, road up the Auto Road.  It was an 8-mile drive to the top with breathtaking views along the way.

A Stop along the Auto Road
A Stop along the Auto Road

We had great weather on the mountain.  Clouds sometimes passed overhead but it was sunny most of the time which provided for great views of the surrounding White Mountains.

View from the Summit
View from the Summit

Operating at the Summit

When we reached the summit, we set up a 6-meter station with an Icom IC-7300 and an M2 6 meter beam at 22 ft.

6 meter beam antenna at the Summit
6-meter beam antenna at the Summit

The station was powered by batteries and solar panels.

Fred, AB1OC, Mike, AB1YK, and Tony, KC1DLX setting up the solar panels
Fred, AB1OC, Mike, AB1YK, and Tony, KC1DLX setting up the solar panels

Fred, Tony, and I had a great time operating the station, completing over 50 QSOs all over the Northeast.

Anita, AB1QB, operating on 6 meters from the summit of Mt. Washington
Anita, AB1QB, operating on 6 meters from the summit of Mt. Washington

Several other members joined us at the summit, including Al, KC1FOZ and Tom, KC1GGP.

Al, KC1FOZ and Tom, KC1GGP operating from the summit
Al, KC1FOZ and Tom, KC1GGP operating from the summit

After the Activation

Thanks to Tony, KC1DXL, and his XYL Josephine, who hosted us for a delicious dinner at their nearby condo after the activation.

Thanks to Jamey, KC1ENX, for planning a great day for club members!  This was our 3rd SOTA/POTA activation this year and each one has been better than the previous one!  We’re looking forward to the next summit!

Here are more pictures from Mount Washington:

Mt. Washington Summit ViewMt. Washington Summit View 2Mt. Washington Summit View 3Mt. Washington Summit View 4Mt. Washington Summit View 5Mt. Washington Summit View 66m Station6m Station 26m Station 3Solar PowerSolar Power 2Operating on Mt WashingtonOperating on Mt Washington 2Mt Washington SummitNashua Area Radio Club Members on Mt. WashingtonNashua Area Radio Club Members on Mt. Washington 2Cog RailwayCog Railway 2Cog Railway 3Auto Road  Views 4Auto Road  Views 3Auto Road  Views 2Auto Road ViewsAuto Road EntranceAntenna on the MountainAntenna on the Mountain 2Antenna on the Mountain 3AB1QB OperatingAB1OC Operating

A “Tech Night” To Remember – Our Visit To KC1XX

Our August “Tech Night” featured a Saturday visit to the Matt Strelow, KC1XX’s superstation. Matt’s station sits on top of a mountain in Mason, NH.

KC1XX QTH
Matt Strelow, KC1XX’s QTH

Our visit began with a tour of Matt’s antenna farm. Matt has a total of 13 towers and each one has a unique story and purpose.

300 ft Tower at KC1XX
300 ft Tower at KC1XX

Matt’s tallest tower is used for 80m as well as other bands. It is painted red and white and has a light on top!

Antennas and Towers 5
Base of Rotating Tower at KC1XX

Several of Matt’s towers are rotating ones with some serious tower turning hardware at the base.

Antennas and Towers 2
Rotating Tower Guy Rigging

Rotating towers use a special type of guy attachment ring which allows the tower to turn while being supported via guy wires.

Coax Feedlines
Coax Feed Lines at KC1XX

Matt has built an extensive infrastructure which supports all of the antennas at his QTH. The picture above is a small building where all of the feed lines from Matt’s antennas enter his station.

Dennis, K1LGQ Operating at KC1XX
Dennis, K1LGQ Operating at KC1XX

After the tour of the antenna farm, we saw the KC1XX “shack”. Several of us had a chance to operate Matt’s station. How’s this for QRP Dennis?

Abby, AB1BY Operating at KC1XX
Abby, AB1BY Operating at KC1XX

Abby wasted no time in building her usual pile up. It easy to see why KC1XX has a pile up whenever they are on the air after just a short time spent operating from there.

Nashua Area Radio Club "Tech Night" Group 2Nashua Area Radio Club "Tech Night" GroupKC1XX QTHDennis, K1LGQ Operating at KC1XXDennis, K1LGQ Operating at KC1XXAbby, AB1BY Operating at KC1XXAntennas and TowersAntennas and Towers 2Antennas and Towers 3Antennas and Towers 4Antennas and Towers 5Antennas and Towers 6Antennas and Towers 7Antennas and Towers 8Antennas and Towers 9Antennas and Towers 10Antennas and Towers 11Coax Feedlines

After a great day of fun and lots of picture taking, See the gallery above for more pictures. Matt treated us to refreshments and some more conversation about his Amateur Radio experiences.

Nashua Area Radio Club "Tech Night" Group
Nashua Area Radio Club “Tech Night” Group

All of the members who made this memorable “Tech Night” had a great time and we’d all like to thank Matt for his gracious hospitality. We learned a lot!

Fred, AB1OC

FT8ful Encounter

Hamming with a multi-band vertical on a small lot means having to compromise on what to do when it comes to being heard. The current down-slide in the sunspot cycle doesn’t help either. The emergence of weak-signal digital modes such as JT65 and JT9 a few years ago from Joe Taylor, K1JT has been a welcome addition to my operating tools. If you are familiar with Joe’s work, JT65 and JT9 are Taylor-made (sorry Joe) for modest stations and simple antennas. The modes sport S/N levels of -20 dB or lower for Q5 copy, far better than an S1 CW signal. I have been happily working DX over the past several months using the WSJT-X program that integrates with its companion JTAlert logging application to link to DXLab Suites.

Anyone who has used these digital modes knows there is a downside to them. They are SLOOOW. A typical QSO takes 6 minutes to complete with nothing more than a report, acknowledgment, and goodbye. It is like watching paint chip and peel. To keep from falling asleep between exchanges, Steve Franke, K9AN has collaborated with Joe to rev up the process.

Say hello to the new FT8 mode which is the designation of the Franke-Taylor 8-FSK digital mode that Steve developed to integrate with the existing modes supported by WSJT-X. It is sort of like JT65 with a turbocharger. An FT8 receive and transmit cycle each takes 15 seconds to complete compared to 60 seconds for JT65. A transmit cycle switches to the receive mode after 13.5 seconds. When compared to JT65 that allows 12 seconds between cycles for the operator to select a station or a macro, 1.5 seconds doesn’t leave much time to do anything. Fortunately, the mode supports an auto-sequence QSO mode wherein the next macro is automatically selected during a QSO. The result: a QSO can be completed in 90 to 120 seconds.

I first started using FT8 in late July after seeing a number of spots for stations running the mode. I had to update my version of WSJT-X to the current release. Fortunately, JTAlert also has been updated to capture FT8 for logging. I jumped in to work stations on the new mode and promptly screwed up. I tried in vain to manually select a macro when working a station only to find the previous macro being repeated. After a few busted QSOs, I discovered the program automatically switched to the correct macro in the QSO sequence. This is definitely a cool feature to have.

It did not take me long to realize that I could call a DX station off-frequency to avoid competing with stronger stations calling. If he/she answered me, the program would automatically QSY me to the DX station’s frequency. Slick!

The mode is also tolerant of poor band conditions where signal strengths can change as much as 10 dB between transmit cycles. There have been a number of times where I have repeated a macro several times before getting a response and moving on to the next macro. Under such circumstances a QSO may take three minutes to complete, still better than JT65.

To date, I have worked some 200 stations on FT8, including 49 states, most of Europe and a handful of Far East DX stations. I run 40 watts to a 6BTV multi-band vertical and a 17-meter Moxon in the attic of my garage. QRP purists may be aghast as such a QRO level. However, remember that signal strength is about ERP. A monoband beam with 5 watts beats a quarter-wave vertical at the same power level every time. Remember that a vertical with 200 radials situated on rich Iowa loam (Ok, a salt marsh is better) has a gain several dB below a simple dipole and well below a monoband beam.

As a related note, the club here in The Villages kicked off a friendly competition the first of August to see who could work all 50 states. While most folks have parked themselves on 20 SSB, I decided to go after the states using FT8. The JTAlert logging application maintains a running list of stations heard that includes their states so I don’t have to blindly call hoping I have worked a new one. Like shooting fish in a barrel. It is only a matter of time before my elusive Montana station pops up.

To encourage you to try FT8, why not initiate a club competition to work all 50 states? The modest station requirements and free software make it easy for anyone to give it a try. Finally, if you use Logbook of the World, the ARRL has added FT8 as a recognized digital mode so you can get another neat endorsement.

Ed, K2TE