West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group, Inc.
a Florida Non-Profit Corporation

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Monthly Meeting

The next regular membership meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail N, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. The program for the meeting will be about the Ducie Island DXpedition (VP6D) in late 2018. This will not be another run of the mill video. The presenter will be Les Kalmus W2LK who was an active participant on that trip. Ducie Island has been part of the Pitcairn Islands since 1902. There are no permanent inhabitants, nor is there any scheduled transportation to the island. Ducie is a designated "Protected Marine Area". Landing on the island requires permission, payment of a per person fee, and a visa.

The presentation at the November 20, 2019 meeting (NOTE THE CHANGE OF DATE) will be by Jim Nagle KF4OD and Mike Bald K4MIA about our planned “Pico Payload Balloon Launch”. For more information, see the following article on "Bella's Bottle".

We do not have a regular membership meeting in December. Instead, we have a festive Holiday Party. Details to follow.


Bella's Bottle

Bella’s Bottle is an activity to set adrift a helium or hydrogen filled Mylar balloon carrying a very small ham radio transmitter. Once it reaches about 30,000 feet in altitude, it catches the jet stream and can be carried wherever the jet stream takes it. That could be around the world! Ham Radio stations on earth receive the transmissions and share the location on the internet so everyone can track its whereabouts. The payload can contain a message on a micro SD card. It's like a 21st century version of the old "message in a bottle" if and when someone finds it.

For more information on this project, click on the following link:
Bella's Bottle


Spring Picnic and Foxhunt

Our annual Spring Picnic and Fox Hunt was held on Saturday, March 23, 2019. A good time was had by all. Thanks to Richard Smith KM4RYM and Jerry Grant KI4NUV for running the picnic and to Bob Hagans for running the Foxhunt.


On August 18, 2018 the WPBARG held a 'Build Your Own Antenna' Workshop. Attendees built their own tape measure Yagi antenna for use in Fox Hunts or just for normal operating.

Recent Meeting Programs Have Been Outstanding

* June-Josh Mahr N4KSM presented "Hot Spots for VHF/UHF Digital Modes"
* May-Tour of new Brain Exhibit at the Science Center led by Marc Wiskoff W2MBW
* April-Introduction to about D-Star, led by Steve Ikler KS3K
* March-Balloon Launch by Marc Wiskoff W2MBW
* February-Jim Nagle KF4OD presented "The Softer Side of SDR"
* January-Marc Wiskoff W2MBW conducted a special show for us at the Science Center Planetarium.
* November-Rex Rathbun AJ4GC presented "Moon Bounce (EME)"
* October-Steve Ikler KS3K presented "Ham Radio Digital Modes with Emphasis on FT8"
* August-Dr. Ron Goldstein KJ4UUG presented "Disaster Survival Skills"
* July-A viewing of a video by Bob Allphin K4UEE about the aborted Bouvet Island DXpedition earlier this year.
* June-Amateur Radio Satellite Communications by Jim Nagle KF4OD and Mike Bald K4MIA
* May-Communications at the Honda Classic Golf Tournament by Steve Werner KD3WK
* April-Digital Mobile Radios (DMR) by Dick Groth WB2NBU
* March-A live demonstration on CW Contesting for Non-CW Operators and using the Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) Logging program by Steve Ikler KS3K
* February-“Vertical Antennas” via Skype by Tim Duffy K3LR. Tim is the COO and GM of DX Engineering and a noted contester. Tim has one of the biggest contest super-stations in the US and it’s located in northwest Pennsylvania.

Successful VE Session on August 3, 2019

On August 3, 2019 the club held its regularly scheduled Volunteer Examiner (VE) test session at the Science Center. We had seven candidates taking tests. Four achieved their Tech class licenses and one passed the Extra exam.

Thanks to our Volunteer Examiner Team, Bob Hagans, Team Leader (W4SOG) and Steve Werner, Asst. Team Leader (KD3WK).

The next VE test session will be on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 10:30 AM at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, Discovery III building. Please contact Jerry Grant KI4NUV at ki4nuv "at" yahoo "dot" com to reserve a spot for the test.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station Logo

WPBARG Links Students with Astronaut in Space Via Ham Radio

In 2016, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (SFSC&A) submitted a proposal to the "Amateur Radio on the International Space Station" (ARISS) program to host a radio contact with the crew on-board the International Space Station (ISS). The proposal included the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group as its partner to provide technical assistance. In a December 15, 2016 press release, the program announced that their proposal was selected to "move forward into the Next Stage of the ARISS Selection". Only 11 schools/organizations qualified for the second half of 2017. A successful contact with the space station was held on November 6, 2017.

Local students were given the chance of a lifetime to talk live with an astronaut in space. During the radio contact, eleven young students talked with Italian astronaut/ham Paolo Nespoli and asked questions they had prepared. The students, ranging in age from 7 to 12, were selected after writing an essay on what one question they would like to ask an astronaut. There was only a nine minute window where the ISS was in range for a radio contact. The ISS travels about 17,600 miles per hour and is over 250 miles above earth.

Members of the WPBARG were actively involved in the event. The lead technical person was Jim Nagle KF4OD and he was assisted by Rex Rathbun AJ4GC. Jim initiated the contact by calling, "NA1SS this is WS4FSC." NA1SS is the callsign of the ISS and WS4SFC is the callsign for the club's radio station. After a couple calls, the ISS replied and the contact began. Jim then handed the microphone over to the first student for him to ask his question. After receiving the answer from the astronaut, the next students followed with their questions. Things went so smoothly that some students had time to ask a second question.

The WPBARG was previously given the opportunity to conduct a radio contact with the ISS at the Science Center in 2012.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States, and other international space agencies and international amateur radio organizations around the world. The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students in classrooms or informal education venues. With the help of experienced amateur radio volunteers from amateur radio clubs and coordination from the ARISS team, the ISS crew members speak directly with large group audiences in a variety of public forums such as school assemblies, science centers and museums, Scout camporees, jamborees and space camps, where students, teachers, parents, and communities learn about space, space technologies and Amateur Radio.

Jim Nagle, KF4OD being interviewed by media

Jim Nagle, KF4OD, being interviewed by media.

Anniversary Logo

Club Celebrates 80th Anniversary in 2019

The West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group was founded on July 12, 1939 which means that we celebrate our 80th Anniversary this year. We plan to have several events during the year to celebrate the occasion. Our new Anniversary Logo is at the top of this column. We are working with our shirt vendor to have special shirts with the logo available for purchase. We had a Special Operating Event On-The-Air from July 5, 2019 through July 19, 2019 using the callsign W4P. Special QSL cards were sent to those who contacted us and sent an SASE. We made over 1,000 contacts during the event and all contacts were uploaded to the "Logbook of the World" (LoTW).

Watch the Home Page for more events when they become known.

2019 Field Day Logo

Field Day 2019

• Held June 22-23, 2019 at the Discovery III building, SFSC&A, WPB
• Operated Class 2A – two simultaneous transmitters, plus a satellite station
• Food – Wawa sandwiches and pizza
• Operating Results
◦ 40 Meters – 10 Phone, 65 CW and 31 digital contacts
◦ 20 Meters – 32 Phone and 46 CW contacts
◦ 15 Meters – 1 CW contact
◦ Total of 185 Contacts
◦ 370 Bonus Points, including Youth participation bonus, site visit by served agency official bonus and 100% generator powered (XCVRs)
◦ Total of 1026 Points

Thanks to These People/Organizations:

◦ South Florida Science Center & Aquarium - for use of building and grounds
◦ Loan of generator Jerry Grant KI4NUV
◦ Other overnight operators/security – Rex Rathbun AJ4GC and Joe Duffy KC4FSU
◦ All the operators and loggers and all the people who helped with setup and take-down

Technician Class Given on April 27-28, 2019

On April 27-28, 2019, the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group gave a Technician Class test review session. The instructor was Richard Smith KM4RYM. Five students took the class and all five passed their Technician exams.
VE Testing for Tech Class

Class Picture for VE Testing

L-R Zoran Milenovic KM4ZM (VE), James Cruz KN4UKC, Maria Ruiz KN4UKB, Richard Smith KM4RYM (Instructor), Clara Casalins KN4UKD, Joe Duffy KC4FSU, Nick Prince KN4UKA, Bob Hagans W4SOG (VE), Knut Iversen WA4KI (VE), Steve Ikler KS3K (VE)