Couple smiling at Ron K3FR

OVH assists Serve Our Willing Warriors (SOWW) bike ride

The Serve Our Willing Warriors bike ride used ham radio for its communications.   The ham radio part was organized by Andy, KJ4MPT and included both OVH and Woodbridge Wireless members.  This was actually a 3 in 1 bike ride — there were courses for 58 miles,  30 miles and 13 miles.  The OVH members helping included Andy, KM4MPT;  John, KG4NXT;  Ron, K3FR;  Byron, AK4XR; Jay, NQ4T;  David, KG4GIY; Greg, KM4CCG; Ray, KM4EKR; and Sandy, KM4JUS. The rest stops were manned by  fire department EMTs from several jurisdictions while the water and snacks were provided by a Fairfax church. Ron, K3FR described his experience as follows: “I was on the course as the ham radio operator at checkpoint ROMEO-11 (St Louis Rd and Foxcroft Rd) in southern Loudoun County, so all of my shots are of metric century riders.  This was… Read more »

Jay NQ4T'S IGate setup

Jay makes APRS iGate for SOWW Bike Ride

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Outside of things like packets bouncing off the ISS, APRS does have a legitimate use other than just playing around with packet. In fact, one of the original uses of APRS by it’s designer, Bob Bruninga, while a research engineer at the USNaval Academy in the 80s, was for plotting the positions of naval ships over HF. He later developed a more advanced version for tracking horses during a 100 mile endurance run. Of course, this was long before the use of GPS that allowed even more accurate position reporting along with automated beaconing. For the SOWW race, there was some very limited APRS usage; a few of the Nam Knights had APRS trackers placed on their motorcycles. The location of our race was quite rural, and there was question as to if the trackers on the motorcycles would be… Read more »

2020 National Preparedness Month

VP’s Corner

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WB6UIE   As we begin National Preparedness Month, Hurricane Laura has devastated portions of Louisiana and spawned systems of severe storms as it swept inland. Northern Virginia was fortunate to escape most of its wrath. We may not be so lucky next time. Now is a good time to check your emergency supplies. Do you have enough food and water for you and your family to last several days?   You can find information about recommended emergency kit contents at https://www.ready.gov Are your radios ready to go and programmed with local repeater frequencies? You can find this info along with the local ARES op plan and training schedule at http://pwcares.org/ In addition to the damage caused by their high winds and wind driven water, hurricanes often spawn tornadoes and systems of violent thunderstorms extending many miles inland from the eye…. Read more »

2 of the Gracing Spaces volunteers taking delivery of the OVH laptops

OVH Laptops will be used by shelter kids for classes

The year 2020 has been one strange year. There’ve been times when I thought “up” must be “down” and “left” must be “right”. This is the only way I (“The Other Ken” – KN4DD) could explain to myself how a mostly respiratory disease could cause toilet paper, frozen pizza and bread yeast shortages. And, as I would soon find out, laptop shortages. When I received a broadcast email from John (KG4NXT) back on August 22, asking for ideas on what to do with newly retired XP laptops, I didn’t think I could help. At first, all I could offer was this: maybe some recycler would offer money for the scrap. And so, with the trap set, John sprung it. Would you look into this please? Based on what turned out to be an outdated memory, I agreed. I had remembered… Read more »

VP-2020-08-An amateur radio operator, Yvette Cendes, KB3HTS, at station W8EDU, 2005-Wikipedia

VP’s Corner

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As 5G and other new commercial wireless systems deploy, competition for scarce radio spectrum will become intense. As stewards of a good chunk of that spectrum, it will be up to hams to justify our allocations. Some are saying that new technology will make our traditional emergency communications role obsolete. So, what else do we bring to the table? How about our long and proud history as a springboard for youngsters who went on to landmark careers as engineers, Nobel Laureates and astronauts? Here are some examples. Edwin H. “Howard” Armstrong, W2XMN Armstrong grew up in suburban New York at the turn of the century and was fascinated by wireless technology. By age 14 he had filled his bedroom with wireless gear and erected a 125 foot antenna on his parents property (no HOAs in those days). He was soon… Read more »

Bouncing Signals off the International Space Station

What if I told you that even without any astronauts actively working a radio and making contacts, there was still a reason to point your antenna at the sky when the ISS passes over and throw some RF at it? Well, it’s true, and it’s nowhere near as difficult to accomplish as you might think; in fact the last two nights in a row I’ve successfully sent a radio signal up to the ISS and gotten one in return. How? I’ll tell you! There are a number of objects in orbit that we as amateur operators can actually transmit to. There are a number of low-powered satellites of various modes you can talk through, but the ISS is the most well known of LEO (low earth orbit) objects for obvious reasons; just about everyone knows what it is! While being… Read more »

Byron AK4XR with Plaque and Coffee cup

Sunshine Corner

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Happy birthday to our club members celebrating another year this month –  Jack, KN4HHQ; Steve, KB4OF; Ken, WB4ZOH; Philip, KI4WCC; Jeff, KM4FTK; George, K4GVT; Sandy, KM4JUS; Rosalie, KN4ZLY; Dwight, N4GSD; Mary, KK4GOW; Jeff, K9VEG; Richard, KJ4ZIH and Luther, WA3FMO. Hope everyone found a way to celebrate his or her special day! Very happy to announce we have a new member of the Heartney clan, Ben was born on June 19th to Elizabeth, KG4TVM & Nick, KG7SOM.  They live near Seattle, so if all goes well we will see them in August. Way back in February, we had our last in person club meeting and it was the elections of officers.  My intention was to present a plaque to Byron, AK4XR at the March meeting for his service as club president for 2 years.  Also, I had engraved travel mugs for… Read more »

USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), formerly the Horst Wessel and also known as the Barque Eagle, is a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. - Wikipedia

VP’s Corner

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Hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day as we celebrated our nation’s birthday. August marks another important birthday – that of the U.S. Coast Guard, tasked with protecting our shores from smugglers and terrorists. As we honor that anniversary, here’s a sea story about one of that service’s epic battles. It began 100 years ago this year with the passage of the 18th Amendment.     Popularly known as Prohibition, the new law forbade the import or manufacture of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. Predictable results followed its opening kickoff. British and Canadian distilleries ramped up to full production and the smuggling race was on. Seagoing smugglers loaded up motherships for rendezvous with small speedboats just outside U.S. territorial waters. The Coast Guard’s task was a daunting one. A limited number of cutters had to cover thousands of… Read more »

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