School Club Roundup!

School Club RoundupOne of our favorite ARRL events is the annual School Club Roundup. It’s a staple of the W8SH fall operating schedule. W9WSW and W8EO were on the air on Tuesday, knocking out 50 QSOs per hour across in 20 states. It’s always fun to watch the bands morph as sunset starts to cross the continent. We started out on 20 meters and migrated down to 40 as the evening wore on. Great to talk with so many other clubs and individuals who are helping inspire the next generation of radio amateurs.

Coming soon! The W8MSU APRS I-Gate

APRS DisplayIn the world of APRS, WA8LMF is a legend. Stephen Smith is an internationally renown expert on this most creative application of packet radio on the amateur bands.

APRS is short for the Automatic Position Reporting System, developed over the last three decades by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR. Emanating at 144.39 MHz on the 2 meter band, it sound like a series of short data bursts fired back and forth between originating stations, digipeaters and devices connected to the Internet via one or more of the over 1500 I-Gates that are deployed around the world.

Hook up a GPS antenna to an APRS radio and you can let the world follow your travels, wherever you may go. Load an APRS application onto your smart phone and, not only can you transmit your location, you’ll also be able to see what other stations surround you.

There are both fixed and mobile stations in the APRS network. Some fire out weather information, others delineate where FM repeaters are located, many are integrated into mobile rigs, making it possible to see how far your best friend may be away from arriving for that face to face QSO at a local hamfest.

There is a robust network of APRS I-Gates in Michigan and soon we’ll have one installed at W8SH. Thanks to Stephen’s generosity a robust APRS station will soon be installed in the alcove near the roof of the Engineering Building, tracking received signals and creating up to the minute maps that we can easily view on any browser, anywhere.

At a recent open shack night, WA8LMF brought the installation over so we could test it. Naturally, it worked perfectly. We are scheduling a time when can give it full Internet connectivity and move it up into the alcove for full deployment.

Stand by for updates!

W8SH is now Flex-ed!

The Flex 3000 on 40 metersThanks to a generous contribution from Dr. Leon Bruner, NT8B, the MSUARC radio shack now has a state of the art SDR rig in our portfolio. We took delivery on a pristine Flex 3000 SDR radio this week. Flex raised the bar in the amateur radio community when it introduced the first significant SDR transceiver to the marketplace. QST gave the rig high marks and it’s SDR Pro software displays a broad swath of the band for point-and-shoot tuning. The radio is especially powerful in digital modes and its robust audio filter options make it easy to pull tough DX out of the mud. Jacob Bruner, KW4EV, joined MSUARC at Sparticipation. The incoming freshman is a double major in engineering and Chinese.

Welcoming Students Back to Campus

MSUARC FlierWhen students return to the residence halls this year, they will find a special welcome from MSUARC. We’re papering the dorms with a flier, directed both at licensed and unlicensed Spartans, inviting them to visit our social sites and join the family.

Getting youth excited about our essential avocation is a challenge when so many other things compete for their time and attention. But we are undaunted! With new gear and new energy in the club, we’re excited about all that we have to offer.

The flier features a Yaesu FT-2DR handheld, the state of the art for those interested in operating both in analog and Fusion digital modes.

Remote Rig Update

The Kenwood TS480 Base UnitOne of MSUARC’s goals for the 2016-17 school year is making W8SH more accessible to more students. In a world where we like to take our technology with us, creating an opportunity to remotely control an operating position was a natural step.

To create a portable experience, the Shack Upgrade Team selected the Kenwood TS480SAT and the Remote Rig 1258 MKII system. Kenwood’s popular HF radio includes a built-in antenna tuner and a control head that connects via cable to an RJ12 jack on the base unit. The Remote Rig 1258 features an ethernet connected base unit and a WiFi enabled remote box with easy connections for both the control unit and microphone.

The Kenwood TS480SAT Control HeadThe gear was acquired and tested on August 14 via a 59 contact with a Maryland QSO Party contestant. Engineering IT generously provided us with a dedicated IP address and configured the control box so that students can connect from anywhere on campus.

Testing was done both on and off campus today and the results were excellent. Check out the YouTube video, below for a taste of how things sounded on a day when the bands were pretty poor. That’s a West Virginia station on 40 meters.


Getting Ready for Fall!

IMG_1440What a summer it’s been! We learned last month that we were again the top university club in the Michigan QSO Party, returning the “Ole Log” to East Lansing in our ongoing, friendly rivalry with our friends in Ann Arbor. Our members chased literally hundreds of hams who “activated” scores of National Parks in the ARRL’s National Parks On the Air contest. And returning students will find our shack transformed with some cool new gear.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 8.45.55 PMIn August we installed a brand new Yaesu DR-1X Repeater, becoming the first entity in the area to support both the C4FM Fusion digital standard and classic analog FM simultaneously. (See a photo album of the project here.)

Kenwood TS480SATThe Shack Upgrade Team also purchased a Kenwood TS-480SAT and associated equipment from to make it possible for students to check out a tranceiver control head and opearate remotely from any area on campus with WiFi. This marks a new era in amateur radio at Michigan State, extending the on air experience beyond the confines of 2121 Engineering Building. A network of remote accessible rigs is envisioned, over time, expanding the locations, students, and ultimately alumni can access from wherever they might be.

We plan another appearance at MSU’s “Sparticipation” this fall, demonstrating all that’s cool about ham radio to students in search of extracurricular activities. Contact us if you’d like to help.