March Club General Meeting

At tonight’s club meeting, ATV & Digital Modes Net controller Brian Milburn (K6BPM) provided SBARC members with a glimpse of the fun that can be had on HF with digital modes.  By tunneling into his shack computer, Brian was able to project his own software defined radio (SDR) on the presentation screen at the meeting for a live demo of JT-65.  JT-65, originally designed for Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communication, has become tremendously popular on the HF bands for its ability to perform under extremely poor conditions.  Those in attendance seemed intrigued by the prospect of being able to work stations around the world to fatten their logbooks even under the most dire band conditions. Although Brian’s SDR setup is quite impressive, one doesn’t need to spend a lot of money to get on many of the numerous HF digital modes, including JT-65.  Even many older HF radios support computer interfaces such as SignaLink and RigBlaster, which are more than adequate for dabbling with free digital mode software like Fldigi and WSJTX. Listen to an audio recording of Brian’s presentation from our audio archive: Post expires at 7:39pm on Friday April 17th, 2015 but will still be available in the archives.

ATV Special Modes Net – February10, 2015

We had a great turnout this week with 9 check-ins to the net. Several Club members have recently purchased new Yaesu digital VHF/UHF radios, so this net is becoming the place to come to learn about this exciting new twist on day to day FM voice communications. Everyone that has experienced using this special digital mode cannot stop raving about the clarity and total lack of noise. Often, when two or more members go off to another frequency to experiment with digital, it is difficult to get them to come back! As we continue to experiment and test we’ll devote a portion of this net to talking about digital FM each week. During the past couple of nets we have also been talking about operating with JT65. To many, this low power, weak signal mode seems somewhat boring, so we talked about some of the finer points this week. Low power, weak signal operating can really become an art form if one takes the time to explore it deeper than face value. Once you learn basic operation, it is not unusual to hear about operators using incredibly small output wattages in the sub-1W range and making thousand mile contacts. We also talked about using JTAlert, an add-in product for JT65 that adds a lot of additional functionality and convenience to the two major JT65 applications. JTAlert can be freely downloaded at If you are a JT65 user, this is a useful addition to your setup. It offers a full macro system, callsign lookups, log book interface, and even allows user to user real time chat.

ATV Special Modes Net – February 3, 2015

Last nights net was very well attended with 8 checkins and at least half of us operating JT65 at the same time. KI6HGH Steve, also joined in on both Allstar and 40m JT65 from Yucca Valley. HGH and K6FLD Frank also carried on QSO’s with other hams on the band and we were all able to watch the action. Even the Shackmaster was able to find a little time in his busy Tuesday night schedule to follow along from the Club Station. This was a really great demonstration of how JT65 works and why it is becoming so popular. We also took some time to discuss Yaesu’s new digital voice HT radios. In a week or two, we should have 5 members who have these powerful little radios and we’ll be able to add a new digital activity to our nets. These radios have a lot of interesting capabilities we’ll be exploring and learning about. So tune in to the ATV Special Modes Net next Tuesday at 8:30pm and keep up with the latest and greatest in digital ham radio.

ATV Special Modes Net – January 27, 2015

Even though the net was lightly attended, we nonetheless had another good discussion on antennas and using JT65. We operated locally on 6m for awhile, then moved to 40m and carried on a couple of QSO’s so that we could compare our long range signal propagation on PSKReporter. is a web site that aggregates signal reports from hundreds of digital mode operators all over the world. Almost all digital mode software applications automatically report this information to PSKReporter whenever the application “hears” a callsign. So whenever you transmit in a digital mode, and another station hears your signal, your callsign and signal report are reported in real time. This is called “spotting”. It enables you to immediately see where your signal is being heard, and how strong your signal is. Data is displayed on a world map and you can easily see where and when your signal is being received. The PSKReporter site is also great for finding out where all the current activity is, and what modes are being used. Our Shackmaster Dave is usually very busy on Tuesday nights while the station is open. Nevertheless, he tries to tune into the net and follow along with whatever mode we are working. He will have all the activity displayed on one of the shack computers. So, if you get the chance and want to see what this is all about, drop by the shack during the ATV Special Modes Net, and follow along or participate in the action!

ATV Special Modes Net – January 20, 2015

Last nights net was very active with a lot of good discussion about antennas and lead lines. Two of the participants have recently installed new end fed antennas that have impressive all band, 6m to 160m coverage. The particular models we discussed are the DXtreme from UTILMAX Antennas. We also operated JT65 with several of the checkins participating. Jt65 is a fun mode that works especially well with very weak signals. There are several JT65 programs available for Windows and Mac. The image below was captured last month using a JT65 variant called JT65-HF-HB9HQX Edition. Click on the image below to view it full size. We will be going on the air next week and learn more about this mode, so try to check in!