March 26 Meeting: Hams in Space: An Overview of Amateur Radio Satellites and Satellite Operation

March 26, 2014, 7:00 PM, Squires 219
Zach Leffke, KJ4QLP

This week’s VTARA meeting will cover a variety of topics pertaining to Amateur Radio Satellites. Zach Leffke, KJ4QLP, will show how they are launched, how to track them, Doppler shift, polarization considerations, modes of operation, and where to look up information about them. An overview of various ground station configurations, from simple to fairly complex, will be presented. Participants will learn about amateur satellite operation procedures and will have an opportunity see real ground station equipment. Zach will also lead a discussion about a future vision for satellite operations from the K4KDJ shack. Zach also hopes to bring plenty of show-and-tell type of equipment, as well as give us an update on recently launched satellites and a look toward what is coming in the future.

There is a chance we *might* be going outside for some of this meeting, so dress appropriately!

March 5 Meeting: Breaking Through the Pileup: DXing, Contesting, QSLing, and Awards

March 5, 2014, 7:00 PM, Squires 236

Breaking Through the Pileup: DXing, Contesting, QSLing, and Awards
Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF

Have you ever wanted to contact those far aways stations on HF, but you weren’t quite sure how? Do contest exchanges confuse you? How do I collect QSLs from exotic locations around the world? What is LOTW, DXCC, and WAS, anyway? Do I need a big antenna and a lot of power to be heard on the air? The answers to all of these questions and more will be discussed at this week’s VTARA meeting. Using HF radios in a live demonstration, we will also show how to set radio filters and fine-tune your radio settings and response in order to maximize your chances of making the QSO.

Congratulations to New Hams!!

Hello, VTARA!

I am once again pleased to tell you that we had a very successful VE session tonight. Six candidates came to take their technician license exam, and all of them passed. Congratulations to the following new licensees:


Some of them are involved with Dr. Sweeney’s Balloon and EME projects, while others came because of an interest in working with remote controlled aircraft.

Thank you to the following VE’s who also made this possible: Johnathan Mayo AB3FX, Zach Leffke KJ4QLP, Dr. Davis, W9KIC, Ben Williams KK4EWT, Shenghou Ma KV4RJ, and Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF.

Feb 19 Meeting: VTARA History Night!

  • 5:30 - 6:15 PM Special Viewing in the Newman Library Special Collections
  • 6:15 PM Dinner Downtown
  • 7:00 - 9:00 PM General Meeting and Old Radio Show-and-Tell in Squires 236

We have a special schedule for this Wednesday's (Feb 19) meeting. We will meet from 5:30 to 6:15 on the first floor of the Library to view the special collection holdings related to VTARA history, as well as some holdings related to Al Gross. Al Gross was a VT Professor that had signficant influence on the development of the walkie-talkie and cell phone. A representative from Special Collections will us how to add additional material. Very special thanks to Ed Lener, AK4IS, for coordinating this special viewing. At 6:15 PM, we will go for dinner at the Rivermill, and then proceed to Squires Room 236 for our general meeting. This meeting will be BYOB, or “Bring Your Own Boat anchor.” We would like everyone to bring an old radio or two for show-and-tell after the general business meeting.

Congratulations to New and Upgraded Hams!!

Congratulations to all our new and upgraded hams.  We had 9 candidates in all, and everyone passed what they came for or more.  We now have 4 new Technicians, 3 new Generals, and 2 new Amateur Extras.  They are:

Feb. 5 Meeting: Operating Ham Radio in the Out-of-Doors for Fun and Challenge!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 @ 7:00 PM

Squires Student Center Room 219

Abstract: Carter Craigie, N3AO, will give a demonstration and presentation about operating ham radios outdoors for fun and challenge! Learn about contacting far away places with VERY little power. He will bring an extensive array of equipment: 4-5 low power transceivers, battery power supplies, antennas and feedlines, 4-5 paddle sets, and an extendable mast. Everything he brings will be able to fit into a backpack! All rigs will be opened for inspection and passed around. Participants will learn how to send the letters "CQ," and the numbers "73" in Morse Code. Carter will talk about fun Contests for Low Power (QRP) operation, and give "Tales from the Trails - Appalachian Trail in PA, MD, and VA, and more..."

N3AO operating on Hatteras Island at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which is part of IOTA (Islands On The Air) Islands Group NA-067 in July 2010.

Get Started with Ham Radio and Software Defined Radio! Interactive Workshop to take place in Lee Hall next Wednesday.

This Wednesday, January 29th at 7:00pm several members of VTARA will be leading an interactive workshop for engineering students in Studio 1 of Lee Hall. This workshop will cover the basics of ham radio and also give students the opportunity to try out the RTL-SDR USB dongle for themselves. 

Workshop participants are encouraged to bring laptops. Also, we will have a small number of RTL-SDR USB dongles for sale at $15 each (cash, credit, or check). 

Juno Satellite Hears Ham Radio Operators: Virginia Tech Featured in Results Video

When NASA's Juno spacecraft will flew past Earth on October 9, 2013 on its way to Jupiter, ham radio operators from all over the world said "HI" to the satellite using morse code on the 28 MHz/10 m band. Operators from VTARA participated in the event from K4KDJ. Juno project scientists have analyzed the satellite data and were able to decode to the "HI" message sent to the satellite. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory just released a video showing the results of the experiement. VTARA members Shyam Nambiar, KK4ORE, Shenghou Ma, KV4RJ, and Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF were all interviewed by JPL and can be seen in the video.

Meeting: "Military HF Radio Communications and Near Vertical Incidence Skywave Propagation”

Speaker: Captain Matthew Sherburne, KF4WZB / US Army Signal Corps
Time: Wednesday, December 4, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Place: Squires, Mountain Lake Conference Room

Synopsis: HF communications allows us to communicate around the world by reflecting radio waves off the ionosphere. This mode of communication has allowed militaries to move farther and faster than ever before at least until satellite communications were launched. Learn how HF is still a viable means of voice and data communication for both amateur radio operators and the military.

I will cover the basics of HF radio-wave propagation followed by a history in military HF communications from WWII to today. Before communication satellites were launched, Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) was the preferred method for communicating over mountains and large areas covering a 300-mile radius. I will discuss how various militaries adapted their vehicles to take advantage of NVIS communications and the current antennas in use today.

Congratulations to New and Upgraded Hams!

Well, we sure had an awesome VE session tonight!

In short, we have 10 new/upgraded hams:

3 Technicians
5 General
2 Extra
It is really fantastic to see so many General and Extra Class hams come out of this session! Here is the list:

Miao, Technician
Jeff, KK4URJ, General
Dale, WB2PVF, General
Joan, WA2PVG, General
Greg Earle, General (Passed both Elements 2 & 3)
Grayson, Technician
Christopher, General (Passed both Elements 2 & 3)
Shyam, KK4ORE, Extra
Jim, KK4UDI, Extra
Xiaofu, Technician


Subscribe to K4KDJ - Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association RSS