Digital Voice Modes Training – March 10

Our March 10th monthly meeting will feature a special Digital Voice Modes training session presented by John Lewis, AI3I. This is great timing considering the recent addition of C4FM digital voice capabilities to our 443.900 MHz repeater.

John Lewis, our local ARRL Technical Specialist, will give a talk on Digital Voice modes for amateur radio. His talk will highlight some of the technical underpinnings that make up DMR, D-STAR, C4FM (Fusion), and to some extent P25 and NXDN.

The March meeting, along with John’s talk, will take place as a Zoom video teleconference.

As with all our meetings, this talk is open to the public. BCARPSG members will receive an e-mail invite with all the details. Non-members can request the Zoom video teleconference login details by contacting events@k3psg.com.

Details

Date:  Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Time:  7:30 PM (John to present at 8:00 PM)
Location:  Virtual. The meeting will take place on Zoom

Please see our February blog post, 443.900 Repeater Upgrade…, for an overview of digital voice capabilities on our 443.900 MHz repeater.

443.900 Repeater Upgrade – February 20

We will be upgrading hardware at our 443.900 MHz Butler County EOC site on February 20th, 2021.  A two hour maintenance window will start at 11:00 AM and conclude at 1:00 PM. The 443.900 repeater will be intermittently off-the-air during the maintenance window.

The upgrade will involve replacing the existing Icom IC-RP3010 FM repeater (right) with a Yaesu DR-1X System Fusion repeater (above).

After the upgrade 443.900 will support both analog FM and digital voice C4FM modes.

Information on C4FM and System Fusion can be found here: What is System Fusion

Icom IC-RP3010 FM UHF Repeater

What This Means for Current Repeater Users

Repeater operations will continue as normal for most users. The repeater will auto-detect what mode you are transmitting and shift between analog voice and digital voice accordingly.

It is important to note that the repeater can only operate in one mode at a time. It will not covert analog transmissions to digital (a process known as transcoding) or vice versa.

  • Analog operators should set both the PL Tone and Tone Squelch on their radios to 131.8 Hz. While only an uplink tone (PL Tone) is needed to access the repeater, a downlink tone (Tone Squelch) can be used to filter undesirable audio from any digital transmissions.

    Or put another way…

  • Un-decoded digital voice traffic sounds similar to the “modem” sounds you’ve become used to hearing during our Wednesday Night Digital Training Nets. If this sound is annoying or disruptive you can use your radio’s CTCSS tone squelch option to mitigate.

  • Analog operators can interrupt a digital QSO at anytime by keying the repeater. The repeater’s auto-mode detection will drop the digital transmission and reset all stations (digital and analog) to analog FM.

What This Means for C4FM Capable Stations

If you have a radio that supports C4FM digital voice then place your radio in Automatic Mode Select (AMS) mode and set the C4FM mode to either DN (digital normal) or VW (voice wide). As long as  you have enabled AMS then your radio will follow the repeater through digital/analog transitions.

This is a Test and Only a Test

We’re upgrading the repeater at the Butler County EOC as part of a trial to evaluate how digital voice modes fit into the long term communications needs of our club. There are some technical and performance obstacles to overcome with this particular hardware deployment.  If performance falls short of expectations we will revert to the RP3010 analog repeater.

In other words… we’ll see how it goes. 

Amateur Radio Newsline – Tuesdays

We are now carrying the Amateur Radio Newsline on our Alameda Park repeater (147.300+). The weekly report will be transmitted at 2:00AM and 8:00PM on Tuesdays. We hope you enjoy this public service from our club.

IMPORTANT: If you have emergency traffic to pass during this broadcast send DTMF code *999. This code sequence will cancel the transmission until the following week.

Simplex Drill – January 16

The BCARPSG will be running a VHF simplex drill to test VHF radio-to-radio communications. The drill will take place on Saturday, January 16th at 2:00 PM. All amateur radio stations are welcome to participate in this drill.
 

BCARPSG Simplex Drill Details

 
Date/Time:    Saturday, January 16th, 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
 
Primary
Frequency:    147.57 MHz (simplex)
 
Backup
Frequency:    147.300+ MHz (repeater), PL 131.8
 

Procedure:

  1. Net Control W3TXG will activate the net and take check-ins on 147.57 MHz starting at 2:00 PM.

     

  2. If you cannot reach W3TXG then please attempt to relay through a station that has contact with W3TXG.

     

  3. KA3RNF will monitor the Alameda Park repeater (147.300+/PL 131.8) to assist with any stations that cannot make contact on 147.57

    Please attempt to make contacts on simplex and use relay stations if needed. It will be good practice using relays. If that fails then please check-in with KA3RNF on the repeater frequency and await further instructions.

  4. W3TXG is located in the South-West corner of Butler County so there is a chance you will not be able to make contact without a relay station. As a result, net control may be passed to a centrally located station after the net is underway.

Please keep a log of your contacts and at the conclusion of the drill please forward results to chucklewis at zoominternet.net

License Exams – January 24

We are holding an Amateur Radio License Exam session on Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 4:00 PM. Testing for all license classes.

Walk-Ins are Welcome!

Location is the Trinity Presbyterian Church, 107 Staley Ave, Butler, PA 16001.

IMPORTANT:

  • Please plan on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to testing. 
  • Please bring two #2 pencils, scratch  paper, and a check for $15 made out to ARRL.
  • Please bring two forms of ID, and a copy of your current license (if you are upgrading) or your FCC Registration Number (FRN) if this will be your first license.
    • New applicants should create an account at the FCC’s Registration Page prior to attending the exam session. You will be issued your new FRN as part of the account creation process. Bring this number with you to the exam. 
  • Please see the ARRL’s What to Bring to an Exam page for a complete list.

  • Please wear a face covering to the exam in accordance with CDC Guidelines for protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.

Please use our Contact Us page for any questions regarding this exam session.

christmas tree, ornaments, christmas

Christmas Party – December 9

It’s time for our annual Christmas Party!!! As with everything in 2020 it is going to be a little different but we will adapt. We are amateur radio operators.

Date/Time:  Wednesday, December 9th // 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Location:  Cyber Space

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases here in Butler County we decided to have our first virtual Christmas Party. This will be just like our recent meetings and will allow us to talk and see each other. It’s not the same as getting together in person but it’s the next best thing.

Some fun activities we have planned:

  • BCARPSG Year in Review
  • 2020 Photo/Video Montage
  • Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest

Cozy up to the computer with your favorite holiday snack and drink. It will be fun!   

Hope to see you there.

SKYWARN Recognition Day – December 5

SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) celebrates the long relationship between the amateur radio community and the National Weather Service SKYWARN program. A Special Event to commemorate SRD will take place on December 5th from 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC .

The purpose of the SRD Special Event is to recognize amateur radio operators for the vital public service they perform during times of severe weather and to strengthen the bond between amateur radio operators and their local National Weather Service office. This event is co-sponsored by the ARRL and the National Weather Service

Special Event Information

Objective: To exchange QSO information with as many National Weather Service Stations as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meter bands plus the 70 centimeter band. Contacts via repeaters are permitted.

Dates/Times: December 5th from 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC (7:00 PM EST December 4 to 6:59 PM EST December 5)

Exchange: Call sign, signal report, QTH, and a one or two word description of the weather occurring at your site (“sunny”, “partly cloudy”, “windy”, etc.).

Modes: NWS stations will work various modes including SSB, FM, AM, RTTY, CW, and PSK31. While working digital modes, special event stations will append “NWS” to their call sign (e.g., N0A/NWS). NWS offices may also participate via Social Media platforms throughout the 24 hour period.

Registration: CLICK HERE to register for this event and receive your SRD Number

More Information can be found at the ARRL SRD Special Event page.