Should you consider a digital radio?

From the mid-1930’s until World War II, amateur radio’s #1 mode of voice operation was AM. 

After the war, single-side band voice mode became popular for a number of reasons including 3 kc of bandwidth versus 6 kc of bandwidth in an AM signal and, because of the narrower bandwidth, more power could be “concentrated” on the narrower SSB conversation meaning a longer range to the signal. 

It’s apparent that the same thing that happened to AM radios is happening now to not only SSB, but also VHF & UHF analog FM radios.  Digital modes are quickly taking over from the analog SSB & FM modes.

SSB is in competition with numerous digital modes on the 160M to 10M HF + VHF, UHF and more bands.   Fortunately, we have devices like the Tigertronics SignaLink™ USB Digital Communications Interface that will help us use digital modes on HF and, to a certain extent, VHF & UHF.  The SignaLink™ will give your radios these modes:

  • RTTY
  • SSTV
  • CW
  • PSK31
  • WSPR
  • WINMOR
  • Winlink
  • FLDIGI
  • MT-63
  • AMTOR
    and more.

The SignaLink™ as yet will not give your fairly-soon-to-be-antique analog FM radio access to proprietary digital modes such as C4FM (Yaesu only), D-Star (Icom, Kenwood and FlexRadio Systems only), DMR (available from several vendors), etc.

Digital modes are coming on quickly so don’t forget about a digitally enabled radio when you make your next radio purchase.

When choosing a new radio, please remember that DSTAR is mode of choice in Burke County and all of the rest of Georgia.

Your analog radios will continue to work as we move into 2020, but analog radios are not able to communicate with digital radios.  BARC plans to move more and more toward digital modes.

BARC has four (4) Yaesu C4FM/analog repeaters, but when our 444.1 and our 145.23 receive a D-STAR signal, they automatically switch to D-STAR.  D-STAR is the king of digital modes in Georgia, especially Georgia ARES®, which is why two of our four repeaters are D-STAR capable.

from John MacDonald, K4BR

Amateur Radio Is More Relevant Today

International Amateur Radio Union President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, says Amateur Radio is “probably more relevant today than it was 25 years ago.”

“We’re so dependent now on all kinds of systems of communications — everyone has a cell phone, everyone is used to using the Internet — but they’re not used to what happens when those systems go down,” Ellam said. “Amateur Radio is there” and “there are also advancements in technology that we rely on.”

Ellam pointed out that hams can use computer-based digital techniques to pass message traffic at very low power levels and under poor propagation conditions.  “Amateur Radio has kept pace by developing new ways to communicate,” he said.

“Amateur operators are on the ground. If they’re not close to the site of a disaster, they might even be in it.  They’re there.  They’re ready to go.  For the first 24 to 48 hours you have people on the ground, ready to assist.  They own their own equipment.  They don’t rely on commercial networks.  If cellular service goes down, we can assist by using HF, VHF or UHF communications on a peer-to-peer basis.”

“Don’t forget the Amateur Radio services.  They’re a great asset to [a community, state or nation] in times of crisis.”

BARC’s Most Current News


Are you missing what’s important?
Read BARC’S most current news!

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Please Click here for information  you need to know to participate in the 2019 ARRL Field Day! Please be sure to register if you plan to attend Field Day with our good friends from the Amateur Radio Club of Augusta – thanks. Register for Field Day:  https://w4dv.club/field-day-registration/  John

Field Day Location: Blythe City Hall – 294 Church Street, Blythe, GA 30805

Activity Times: Setup – 9:00 until 11:30 Saturday

Lunch: Served at 11:30 until 13:00 PM (for setup volunteers)

Operate: 14:00 Saturday until 12:00 Sunday

Packing up: 12:00 until 14:00 Sunday

Field Day Category: 4A (4 radios working at the same time)

Operations: SSB and Digital on 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m.

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Echolink Will Return Soon

To BARC’s 146.64 Repeater

“EchoLink allows all licensed amateur radio stations to connect to one another over the Internet.  If you are in range of an FM repeater that features Echolink, you can use DTMF commands from your radio to access other stations and repeaters from all around the world who are logged into the EchoLink network.” [de Echolink.org]  Also, stations for all over the world will be able to access our 146.64 repeater all day, everyday and make a contact with those of us on the repeater who care to chat with them.
You may even install it on your smart phone.

Get a head start on Echolink . . .  Click here to get started with Echolink.

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State-wide Hospital Emergency Operations Drill
This Sunday
and Every First Sunday

Hospital Net Reminder

Sunday, July 7 , 2019 will be the date of the next Georgia State-wide Hospital Nets.  The purpose of the nets is to determine the operational capability of each of the hospitals.  Checking in from home or another remote site doesn’t help meet the requirements of the new CMS rules that are now in effect.

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Burke Medical Center
Hospital Operations Team News

100% check-in for the 1st six months of 2019!  The report:

 

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No July Meeting;
Next meeting announced

There will be no July meeting due to the 4th of July holiday, so Burke Amateur Radio Club members, guests & visitors are invited to join us for supper on Thursday, August 8 at 5:45 PM at Camino Real Mexican Restaurant – 118 E 6th St, Waynesboro, Georgia.

Our BARC club meeting will follow at 7:00 PM at Waynesboro City Hall, 628 Myrick St, Waynesboro, GA. 

Burke Medical Center’s ARO’s:
Please bring a copy of your ham radio license for our document repository in the radio room.

Mid-2019 Goals and Recommendations!

Recommendation # 1 – ARES Basic Skills Test

Everyone in Burke County ARES® should have taken the  Gwinnette ARES Basic Skills Test by now – and most of you have: Thanks! – but just in case, here is the web site for this free service.
You will learn a LOT when you complete your test: http://arestest.org/

Register with my name (John MacDonald), callsign (K4BR), and email address (john@k4br.com).

Recommendation # 2 – GHA911.org

It is now time for all ARES® members to register with GHA911.org.

Amateur radio ops and all other personnel who are not members of ARES® or who are inactive members should not register for GHA911 until they join ARES®.

If you have not already registered, please register today while it’s on your mind.​

Here is the main benefit of registering for GHA911:
You’ll automatically be registered in the ​Everbridge Mass Notification ​System. Everbridge ​will keep you informed before, during and after all events whether emergency or non-emergency by way of email, text messages and/or a phone call.​ No more “phone trees”!​
To be an active member of ARES®, we have to be able to notify you when things happen. Therefore, anyone who fails to register for GHA911 may be assigned to inactive status in ARES®.

Recommendation #3: Join Burke Medical Center Amateur Radio Team

We are now looking for members to join Burke Medical Center’s amateur radio operations team. If you would like to be included in this group, please send your name to Vince Vassello, KB8TEP, who is taking the lead for coordinating this group:

Recommendation #4:  Upgrade your license class

MAKE NO MISTAKE: We are very glad to have Technician Class amateur radio operators in our ARES® group and we look forward to their participation with us during “incidents” that occur in Burke County. Technicians are certainly valuable members of our ARES team by handling very important local communications on 2 meters and 70 cm (440) + long haul traffic via DSTAR. 2m and 70cm will be important ways that we stay in communications with other agencies in- and outside of Burke County.

General and Amateur Extra class ops have much needed privileges on two very important ARES bands: 75 meters and 40 meters. 

Therefore, we encourage all Technician class operators to begin working, if you’re not already, on getting at least your general class license. Thank you so much in advance! If you need any help, please let me know.

Recommendation #5: Upgrade your VHF/UHF transceiver (if you haven’t already done so):

(1) By far, our #1 recommended 2 m and 70 cm transceiver is the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe.  Please note:  The Icom ID-5100A Deluxe is the only ID-5100 model available.
Recently re-priced at less than $400, this transceiver is no longer a high-priced radio. Click here for the latest price from Gigaparts.  Gigaparts (866-535-4442) does not charge tax or shipping. Free channel programming for BARC and ARES® members.  Call me (John, K4BR) for info – 706-466-5646.

(2) If you cannot afford the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe transceiver above, the minimum recommended radio would be an analog 50W mobile radio capable of accessing both the 2 meter and 70 cm bands such as the IC-2730A, currently $259.95 delivered to you (click here), or the Yaesu FTM-7250DR, currently 209.95 delivered to you (click here).


— See https://www.gigaparts.com/yaesu-ftm-7250dr.html
The new Yaesu FTM-7250DR is a compact and ruggedly built C4FM/FM 144/430MHz Dual Band 50W Transceiver and offers the latest advanced features from Yaesu for their System Fusion II platform

Questions? Please call me at 706-466-5646.
Thanks!
John MacDonald, K4BR
EC Burke County/DEC East Central Georgia

Amateur Radio More Relevant Today Than Ever

International Amateur Radio Union President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, says Amateur Radio is “probably more relevant today than it was 25 years ago.”

“We’re so dependent now on all kinds of systems of communications — everyone has a cell phone, everyone is used to using the Internet — but they’re not used to what happens when those systems go down,” Ellam said. “Amateur Radio is there” and “there are also advancements in technology that we rely on.”

Ellam pointed out that hams can use computer-based digital techniques to pass message traffic at very low power levels and under poor propagation conditions.  “Amateur Radio has kept pace by developing new ways to communicate,” he said.

“Amateur operators are on the ground. If they’re not close to the site of a disaster, they might even be in it.  They’re there.  They’re ready to go.  For the first 24 to 48 hours you have people on the ground, ready to assist.  They own their own equipment.  They don’t rely on commercial networks.  If cellular service goes down, we can assist by using HF, VHF or UHF communications on a peer-to-peer basis.”

“Don’t forget the Amateur Radio services.  They’re a great asset to [a community, state or nation] in times of crisis.”

Next Club Night – August 8

There will be no July meeting due to the 4th of July holiday, so Burke Amateur Radio Club members, guests & visitors are invited to join us for supper on Thursday, August 8 at 5:45 PM at Camino Real Mexican Restaurant – 118 E 6th St, Waynesboro, Georgia.

Our BARC club meeting will follow at 7:00 PM at Waynesboro City Hall, 628 Myrick St, Waynesboro, GA. 

Burke Medical Center’s ARO’s:
Please bring a copy of your ham radio license for our document repository in the radio room.

Always use Anderson Powerpoles

Connecting your radio, etc. to 13.8V DC

The standardized power connector for all ARES® is the Anderson Powerpole.  Most importantly, if we all use Powerpole connectors, we’ll be able to share equipment and batteries at home and in the field.

The Powerpole connector is the standard DC power connector for amateur radio for all types of radios and peripheral equipment.  Because it’s more reliable mechanically and electrically than other power connectors, Anderson Powerpoles are the official connector of the ARRL, ARES® and BARC.

The usual Powerpole connectors for amateur radio are 15A, 30A and 45A with 30A being the most popular size.

Amateur radio has adopted this style for putting Powerpole connectors together:

  • Red positive and black negative
  • When you look at them from the contact side as shown below, black is left, red is on the right and  the metal tongues are on top.

Mid-2019 Recommendations!

Recommendation # 1

Everyone in Burke County ARES® should have taken the Gwinnette ARES Basic Skills Test by now – and most of you have:  Thanks! – but just in case, here is the web site for this free service.  You will learn a LOT when you complete your test:  http://arestest.org/

Register with my name, call, and

 

Recommendation # 2

It is now time for all ARES® members to register with GHA911.org,

Amateur radio ops and all other personnel who are not members of ARES® or who are inactive members should not register for GHA911 until they join ARES®.

If you have not already registered, please register today while it’s on your mind.​

Here is the main benefit of registering for GHA911
  • You’ll automatically be registered in the ​Everbridge Mass Notification
    ​System.  Everbridge ​will keep you informed before, during and after all events whether emergency or non-emergency  by way of email, text messages and/or a phone call​.​  No more “phone trees”!​

To be an active member of ARES, we have to be able to notify you when things happen.  Therefore, anyone who fails to register for GHA911 may be assigned to inactive status in ARES®.

 ARES Members:  Please refer to your June 16 email for directions on how to register.

Recommendation #3: 
Please join Burke Medical Center’s ARES® Team – here’s how:

We are now looking for members to join Burke Medical Center’s ARES® amateur radio operations team.  If you would like to be included in this group, pleasae send your name to Vince Vassello, KB8TEP, who is taking the lead for  coordinating this group: 

 

Recommendation #4:
Upgrade your license class

MAKE NO MISTAKE:  We are very glad to have Technician Class amateur radio operators in our ARES group and we look forward to their participation with us during “incidents” that occur in Burke County.  Technicians are certainly valuable members of our ARES team by handling very important local communications on 2 meters and 70 cm (440).  That will be an important way that we stay in communications with other agencies in- and outside of Burke County.

General class ops have much needed privileges on two very important ARES bands:  75 meters and 40 meters.  According to the Georgia state EMCOMM plan, 75 and 40 meters are the #1 priority for all ARES operations.

Therefore, we encourage all Technician class operators to begin working, if you’re not already, on getting your general class license.  Thank you so much in advance!  If you need any help, please let me know.

 

Recommendation #5:
Upgrade your VHF/UHF transceiver if you haven’t already done so:
(1)  By far, our #1 Recommended 50W 2 m and 70 cm transceiver is an analong FM and DSTAR radio:
The Icom ID-5100A Deluxe

This is the high-priced radio I’ve been recommending for everyone.

From the time it came out until last week, the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe with 50-watts of power on FM & DSTAR was $529.95.

During May, GigaParts (866-535-4442) has it for $399.95  including shipping and handling!

Free channel programming for BARC and ARES® members..

See https://www.gigaparts.com/icom-id-5100a-deluxe-d-star-mobile-radio.html

icom_id-5100

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(2)  Only if you can’t afford the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe transceiver above, the minimum recommended radio would be an analog 50W mobile radio capable of accessing both the 2 meter and 70 cm bands
— minimum recommended radio would be the FM Yaesu FT-7250
— $209.95 delivered to you
— See https://www.gigaparts.com/yaesu-ftm-7250dr.html

Yaesu FTM-7250DR C4FM/FM 50W 144/ 430MHz Digital AMS Transceiver

The new Yaesu FTM-7250DR is a compact and ruggedly built C4FM/FM 144/430MHz Dual Band 50W Transceiver and offers the latest advanced features from Yaesu for their System Fusion II platform.

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(3) Minimum radio with 75 watts of transmit power, but in the 2 meters only category, would be the Kenwood TM-281A with a price of $137.95 delivered !  See https://www.gigaparts.com/kenwood-tm-281a.html

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Questions?  Please call me at 706-466-5646.
Thanks!
John MacDonald, K4BR
EC Burke County

Our new mixed mode DSTAR repeaters.

There are two D-STAR repeaters in Waynesboro! 
Waynesboro’s VHF DSTAR repeater: 145.23 MHz (-600 KHz transmit offset)
Coverage:  100% of the City of Waynesboro including Burke Medical Center & Burke Co. EMA
Repeater brand/model: Yaesu DR-1X repeater
Tx/Rx modes: DSTAR and/or FM depending on the signal received (mixed mode)
Antenna: 4-bay folded dipole approximately 400 ft.(above sea level)
Heliax/hardline: Commscope 1/2″ Heliax
Waynesboro’s UHF DSTAR repeater: 444.100 MHz (+5.000 MHz transmit offset)
Coverage:  approximately 80% of the CSRA
Repeater brand/models: Yaesu DR-1X repeater
Tx/Rx modes: DSTAR and/or FM depending on the signal received (mixed mode)
Antennas: 4-bay folded dipole approximately 470 ft.(above sea level)
Heliax/hardline: Commscope 7/8″ Heliax
 
For the present time, we are leaving the D-STAR part of the repeater connected to reflector 030B, the GA ARES® reflector.  Feel free to change to whatever reflector you like, but please change the reflector back to 030 B when you’re finished using the repeater.
 
How it works:
A small, fairly inexpensive device called a UDRC-II that is available from Northwest Digital Radio at http://nwdigitalradio.com is what makes the repeater work as an analog FM, C4FM Fusion or D-STAR repeater.  The UDRC-II’s 40-pin connector plugs directly into the pins on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3.

For $89, the UDRC-II  comes with a cable that is ready made for the DR-1X Yaesu repeater and the UDRC-II.  As soon as you plug it into the repeater and turn it on, the UDRC-II and Raspberry Pi “light up,” take over the controller duties from the DR-1X’s built-in controller, and set the mode of the Yaesu repeater to “AUTO.” 

When an analog FM signal comes in, it lets the repeater’s internal controller take over and the repeater operates just as it always has receiving and re-transmitting a standard FM signal. 

When a D-STAR signal comes into the repeater, the UDRC-II’s controller takes over and shifts the mode of the repeater from “AUTO” to “FIX” as shown on the repeater’s front panel.  You hear no audio through the repeater’s speaker and the repeater’s microphone doesn’t work.  About 2 or 3 seconds after a D-STAR transmission ends, the repeater shifts back to “AUTO” mode.  It’s actually pretty cool to watch repeater and its lights work!

Everything is working perfectly on this new system and local stations are able to connect to all D-STAR reflectors including world-wide reflectors.  A list of all reflectors are available by following this link.

FM stations cannot communicate with D-STAR stations, but the two modes (plus Fusion) coexist very nicely on this one repeater as long as a D-STAR op doesn’t try to communicate at the same time as an FM op. 

By the way, when a D-STAR conversation is going on on the 444.1 repeater, analog FM users hear nothing – and vice versa.  The only indication of a conversation in a different mode from your mode is that the signal strength meter on your transceiver will show transmit power from the repeater.  So, a person with an analog FM transceiver tuned to 444.1 wouldn’t even know that an entire 10 or 15 minute D-STAR conversation had happened on 444.1 unless he had looked down at his transceiver’s signal strength meter!