June 12 Meeting

Our next WVARA meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, June 12, in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.  Social time begins around 6:45pm, with the meeting commencing at 7pm.  If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.  

This month’s meeting will be a double-header.  

  1. Ed Fong, WB6IQN, will tell us about the latest original idea in ham radio — the ultra compact, all-mode portable HF transceiver:  the uSDX+ .  
  2. After Ed’s presentation, we’ll finalize our WVARA’s plans for Field Day on Mora Hill, which in case you haven’t heard is June 21-23. If you haven’t done so already, feel free to fill out our on-line participant survey so that we can include you in our Field Day plans.  
    Here’s the URL:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NB28TGZ

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Here are some details about Ed’s presentation:  

The uSDX+ is a software-defined transceiver based on the Silabs synthesizer chip and the Atmel ATMEGA 328P  FPGA.  The entire radio including the 4000mAh Lion battery is only 1 lb 2 oz.  The radio can operate all weekend with a single charge.

  • General coverage receiver – 3.5MHz- 30 MHz
  • Transmits on 80-10 meters including all WARC bands
  • Built-in CW decoder, keyer, all DSP filter from 4KHz to 50 Hz, DSP noise reduction
  • Output –  5 watts for CW –  for SSB  slightly under 10 watts.

This rig uses a Class S is a switching amplifier, so although efficient, it cannot be directly used as a SSB output stage which historically requires a less efficient linear amplifier.  So how do they achieve linear SSB amplification from a switching amplifier and achieve 80%+  efficiency?  The key is in the 800 kHz sigma delta modulator.  Ed’s presentation will focus on this clever approach to generating SSB.

Ed Fong was first licensed in 1968 as WN6IQN.  He later upgraded to Extra Class (when 20 WPM was required ) with his present call of WB6IQN.  He obtained the BSEE and MSEE degrees from the Univ. of California at Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the Univ. of San Francisco.  A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, he has 12 patents and over 40  published papers and books in the area of communications and integrated circuit design.  Presently, he is employed by the University of California,  Santa Cruz (previously with Berkeley from 1997-2010) as an instructor teaching graduate classes in Antenna Design,  RF design and high speed interface.  In his 35 year career, he has done work for Stanford University, National Semiconductor, Advanced Micro Devices, numerous startup companies in the Silicon Valley.

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BTW, several of us meet nearby for dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Disn-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com . Feel free to join us.

Three things to remember:

• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.

• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pmsharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  

• Since Meeting Room 3 is about 100 feet from any entrance, any late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room. So please try to arrive early!  If you need help getting in the door, you can call my cellphone:  408-636-6172.

Jim, K6EI

WVARA Vice President

May 8th Meeting

Our next WVARA meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, May 8, in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.  Social time begins around 6:45pm, with the meeting commencing at 7pm.  If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.  
This month’s meeting will be a double-header.  Mark Aaker, K6UFO, will bring us up to speed on how to be more effective at FT8 contesting.  FT8 is the most popular mode for daily operation and DX chasing, and this popularity is now spilling into contesting.  While entering a fast-paced SSB or CW contest can be intimidating, FT8 cycles reduce the frantic pace and are great for the contest newcomer.   And learning to contest in FT8 can gain you DX, improve your daily FT8 skills, and develop skips that will help you in other contests.
After Mark’s presentation, I will review the status of WVARA’s plans for Field Day, which is June 21-23.  We’ll be on Mora Hill and having a blast as usual.

BTW, several of us meet nearbyfor dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Disn-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com . Feel free to join us.

Three things to remember:

• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.

• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pm sharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  

• Since Meeting Room 3 is about 100 feet from any entrance, any late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room.  So please try to arrive early!  If you need help getting in the door, you can call my cellphone:  408-636-6172.

Jim, K6EI
WVARA Vice President

April 10 Meeting


Our next WVARA meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, April 10, in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.  Social time begins around 6:45pm, with the meeting commencing at 7pm. If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.  

At this month’s meeting, Ralph Simpson will tell us about secret radio communications during WW2 and the cracking of Enigma.  WW1 had been the first war to use radio, which was an enormous advantage on the battlefield. But the weakness of existing ciphers meant every country now had their secret messages broken by the enemy! This vulnerability was the driving force for the invention of more advanced machine ciphers and was the beginning of crypto warfare. The Enigma machine was invented during this time and was the first cipher device to use electricity. So, radio was directly responsible for the resulting explosion of crypto warfare, which continues to this day.

The Nazis used the Enigma in WW2 and had the utmost confidence in the secrecy of their messages, despite evidence of enemy codebreaking. The story of Allied codebreaking during WW2 is a story of innovation, intrigue, and deception. The success of cracking the Enigma was kept secret for 41 years, until 1974, despite tens of thousands of people working on the effort in the UK and US. This secrecy is especially incredible for us living in the age of the internet, WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden. Over 35,000 Enigma machines were manufactured, but only 400 exist today.

Ralph Simpson worked in the computer industry for 32 years, working for IBM and Cisco Systems. He started as a systems engineer for large mainframe computers and held a variety of technical and management roles. He retired as Senior Director for Service Strategy at Cisco Systems.  Ralph is now retired and volunteers at History San Jose and the Computer History Museum. He wrote a book on cipher history called, Crypto Wars: 2000 Years of Cipher Evolution. He is also an avid collector of cipher machines, which you can see on his website, CipherHistory.com

BTW, several of us meet nearbyfor dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Disn-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com . Feel free to join us.

Three things to remember:

• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.

• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pm sharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  

• Since Meeting Room 3 is about 100 feet from any entrance, any late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room.  So please try to arrive early!  If you need help getting in the door, you can call my cellphone:  408-636-6172.

Jim, K6EI
WVARA Vice President

POTA (Parks On The Air) January 10, 2024 Meeting Presentations

Many thanks to Clay and Scott for their excellent presentations about POTA (Parks On The Air) at our January meeting.   There were lots of engaging questions from our enthusiastic crowd.  

Discussions are now afoot for a WVARA POTA activation sometime this spring — maybe from a local state beach.  We’ll keep you posted as plans develop so you can get involved!

Clay Cougar POTA Presentation, What is Parks on the Air (POTA)?

Scott KK6IK POTA Experience, POTA ACTIVATIONS
& LESSONS LEARNED (SOFAR).

March 13 Meeting


Our next WVARA meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, March 13, in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.  Social time begins around 6:45pm, with the meeting commencing at 7pm. 

WVARA 2023 Field day photo

Field Day this year will be June 21-23.  Once again, we plan to operate from Mora Hill in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.  

At our March meeting, we will discuss what worked in 2023 and a few changes that are in-store for 2024.  This meeting will also be a brainstorm session, so be thinking about what you liked the most about our last June’s Field Day and ways our event could be improved to make it more fun, more inviting to visitors, and an even better event.  

If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.   

Several of us meet nearbyfor dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Disn-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com . Feel free to join us.

Three things to remember:

• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.

• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pm sharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  

• Since Meeting Room 3 is about 100 feet from any entrance, any late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room.  So please try to arrive early!  

Jim, K6EI
WVARA Vice President

February 7 Meeting

Because of Valentine’s Day, WVARA’s February meeting will be held a week early on Wednesday, February 7.  As usual we will be in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.   Social time begins around 6:45pm with the meeting beginning at 7pm.  If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.  

At this month’s meeting Dr Richard G Ranson, G3ZTB,  will speak on the care and feeding of your nanoVNA.  The advent of devices like the NanoVNA brings new measurement capabilities within the budget of amateur radio enthusiasts.   This talk focuses on a non-mathematical understanding of calibration and the practical aspects of making measurements, tips on how to improve them and getting the most out of your device. The nanoVNA is much more than an antenna analyser and a valuable addition to any shack.

Dr Ranson has been a licensed radio amateur since being a schoolboy. It led him to a BSc and Phd in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Leeds, and over 40 years in the RF and microwave electronics industry in the UK and USA. He has specialised in various types of receiver system, but never lost interest in the technical challenges of HF radio. His current interests are on high dynamic range SDR radios and the Raspberry Pi computing platform.  He is a life fellow of the IEEE and a retired fellow of the IET in the UK.

Please note:
• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.
• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pm sharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  
• We will be in Meeting Room 3 — about 100 feet from any entrance.  As a result, late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room.  If you need help getting in the door, you can my cellphone:  408-636-6172.
• The meeting will be in-person only and not streamed via Zoom.

By the way, several of us meet nearby for dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Dish-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com .   Feel free to join us.

73,
Jim, K6EI
WVARA Vice President

Winter Field Day

Winter Field Day is coming up soon, on January 27 & 28th. And past year’s WVARA participants want you to have as much fun as we did.

WVARA will be taking over an area of Henry W. Coe State Park to operate four stations on CW, SSB and FM phone, and assorted digital modes, on all allowed bands from 3.5_MHz to 1.2_GHz. We plan to operate continuously from 11am-pst on Saturday through 11am-pst on Sunday.

We’ll start setting up a bit after noon on Friday, January 26th. All are
welcome to check out our set-up and participate.

Watch the WVARA “chat” group for details on our organization meeting, to be held online on January 22nd. For more details on Winter Field Day in general, see [ https://www.winterfieldday.org/ ].

To get there: As you drive toward the park on E. Dunne Ave. from highway 101 in Morgan Hill, CA, look for us in the first parking lot on your right immediately past the park’s entrance sign.

January 10 Meeting

Parks-On-The-Air (POTA) is a great opportunity for hams who enjoy the outdoors to activate portable operations from local, state, and national parks.  POTA also promotes the role of amateur radio in emergency awareness and is a great excuse to get on the air from scenic locations.  At this month’s meeting, Clay Couger (N5YJZ) will bring us up to speed on how to get involved with Parks-On-The-Air.  And Scott Nacey (KK6IK) will pass along some lessons learned from his recent POTA activations. 

This month’s WVARA meeting will be held in-person on Wednesday, January 10, in Meeting Room 3 at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street at Plumeria Drive (southwest corner) in San Jose.   Social time begins around 6:45pm with the meeting beginning at 7pm.  If you haven’t been to the Red Cross in a while, “talk-in” is usually available on the Association’s repeaters. Best choice would be 2m/220.  

Please note:
• Since the west side entrance to the Red Cross Building is always locked, we recommend entering the Red Cross Building through the main entrance situated on the north side of the building.
• The Red Cross locks the main entrance at 7pm sharp, so please come early in order to get access to the building.  
• We will be in Meeting Room 3 — about 100 feet from any entrance.  As a result, late comers who knock on an outside door won’t be heard from our meeting room.  If you need help getting in the door, you can my cellphone:  408-636-6172.
• The meeting will be in-person only and not streamed via Zoom.

By the way, several of us meet nearby for dinner prior to the meeting at 5:30pm at Dish-N-Dash (2551 N. 1st St. San Jose):  https://dishdash.com .   Feel free to join us.

73s,
Jim, K6EI
WVARA Vice President

W6PIY