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License Exams – March 14

We are holding an Amateur Radio License Exam session on Sunday, March 14, 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.

basket, easter eggs, easter

Winfield Township Egg-Stravaganza – March 27

CALLING ALL GOOD EGGS :  Amateur Radio volunteers are needed for parking and traffic control at the Winfield Township Community Egg – Stravaganza on March 27th.

Amateur Radio volunteers are needed for this community event.  If you would like to help with this event please contact Club President Julian Savage.

DateSunday, March 27th
Report
Time
9:00 AM
Duration2 hours (estimated)
Required
Equipment
Dual-Band VHF/UHF HT
(don't forget a spare battery)
LocationWinfield Community Park
194 Brose Road
Cabot, PA

Members of the public can find more information on this event by visiting the event’s Facebook Page (CLICK Here).

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.

Digital Training Net – Wednesdays

Please join us for our weekly Digital Training Net at 8:00 PM on Wednesdays (except the second Wednesday of the month). The purpose of the net is to learn about digital modes and practice using those modes for emergency response and public service events. All amateurs are welcome regardless of experience with digital communications.  Come to lean and have fun. CLICK Here for details…