May 2018 Newsletter


January 2018

This Months News

Presidents Corner - May 2018

G Wolfe - KI0KK

Greg KI0KK

Summer is almost here and time to think of Field Day again. With the poor band conditions during the middle of the current solar cycle making contacts will be more of a challenge. Hope everyone has great plans for the summer with family and friends.

The Special Event station at the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City was an enjoyable event again this year. 

The May 12 - 13 WW1USA event will be sponsored by SFTARC. Sign up information has been sent via email and is available on the club web site. We expect to be using the club trailer for this outdoor event. For all those new hams this is a great opportunity to not only operate but to experience what it is like to be in a pile up or a DX station. There will be many experienced operators from around the KC Metro there to learn from.

Field Day is approaching rapidly. We plan to operate from Ensor Museum site again this year. Come join us for good fun and food.

The club is planning to have a camp fire event at Ensor in July, look for further details.

If you have a topic you wish to write about or find an interesting topic please publish it either in the newsletter area or the Tech Blog on the web site. We can also list web links on the website if you find ones that are of general interest. If you have club news, event pictures or ham related comments the club also has a Facebook page, "Sftarc Olathe".

Read the Meeting Notes in this newsletter for more details on these and other subjects.

Check out the web site club calendar for upcoming events.

See you at our June 2nd meeting at Perkins in Olathe.

May 2018 Meeting Minutes

Mike Costello - KB0ISQ


The President, Greg Wolfe KI0KK, called the meeting to order.
Introductions of attendees were made by name and call-sign.


Secretary/Treasurer Mike Costello KBØISQ reported the bank balance, there were no expenses or income for April.


WW1USA for 2018

May 12 and 13, 2018 is the WW1USA event at the Liberty Memorial. Our trailer and a tent will make the event happen outdoors, also the Shrine portable tower and Raytown generator. OPERATORS and LOGGERS are needed, please come down and join the event, make our club look good! Setup on Saturday will begin at 7:30AM.

Tall Grass Prairie

According to Jim, K0NK, the event at Tall Grass Prairie on Saturday went well, 56 contacts were made. Possibly will be an article in Kansas Field and Wildlife.

Field Day

Set up on Friday, June 22nd, and on Saturday morning after breakfast. Field Day is June 23 – 24. Help is needed for both setting up and tearing down on Sunday afternoon. Operators and loggers will be needed for CW, HF, digital and GOTA stations. 


A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting. Meeting was adjourned.

WW1USA - Battle of Cantigny



The Battle of Cantigny, fought May 28, 1918 was the first major American battle and offensive of World War I. The U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the five American divisions then in France and in reserve for the French Army near the village of Cantigny, was selected for the attack. The objective of the attack was both to reduce a small salient made by the German Army in the front lines but also to instill confidence among the French and British allies in the ability of the inexperienced American Expeditionary Force.

Join the Santa Fe Trail ARC and other clubs in commemorating the Battle of Cantigny at the Liberty Memorial on MAY 12-13, 2018 from 10 am on the 12th to 5 pm on the 13th.

With your Ham license, you and two others may gain admission to the WW1 Liberty Memorial for only $5 per person.

Tallgrass Special Event 2018

Jim Andera - K0NK

Saturday April 21, found over a half a dozen SFTARC members sitting in an 1881-vintage barn hamming it up on 20 and 40 meters.   Proving that it takes more than a little rain to keep the SRTARC off the air in a portable setting, the SFTARC participated in the Jr. Ranger Day program at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve located near Strong City, KS, just over a 100 miles SW of Olathe. 

In addition to seasoned hams, a couple of relatively new hams, Denise, KE0QKU, and Marty, KE0PEZ, worked 40m and 20m SSB respectively.  The club’s trusty Cushcraft R5 vertical was used on 20m with an Alinco DX-70 transceiver while a Kenwood TS-830 operated into a 30/40m fan dipole. Propagation from 9 am to noon was nothing to brag about. In the end, the team made 58 contacts, but the fun of operating from this National Park Service historic site made the operation a success in the minds of the participants.  Some technical difficulties made for unsuccessful 30m CW operation and with the marginal 20m propagation the team did not even try to work 17m.

A CPO and straight key, along with an old-time straight key and sounder, let the few youth that participated in the event try their hand at the Morse code.  In addition to the ham radio activity, the kids also got to try their hand at mock steer roping and receive a Jr Ranger Certificate.  NPS personnel appreciated our participation and one ranger even prepared some hot coffee and a hot chili meal for the team--perhaps to help compensate for the chilly temperature in the barn.

SFTAC members Del, K0DDS; Bob, KC0TZX; Jim AC0KN; Jeff, KA0CAZ; Larry, KD0RIU and Jim, K0NK, participated in the event along with Denise and Marty.   This was the SFTARCs third year of participating in the Jr Ranger day and there is already talk of doing it again next year.  Thanks to all that participated.


Andre Marie Ampere


André-Marie Ampère made the revolutionary discovery that a wire carrying electric current can attract or repel another wire next to it that’s also carrying electric current. The attraction is magnetic, but no magnets are necessary for the effect to be seen. He went on to formulate Ampere’s Law of electromagnetism and produced the best definition of electric current of his time.

Ampère also proposed the existence of a particle we now recognize as the electron, discovered the chemical element fluorine, and grouped elements by their properties over half a century before Dmitri Mendeleev produced his periodic table.

The SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named in his honor.

Armed Forces Day



In celebration of the 63rd anniversary of Armed Forces Day (AFD), the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are co-sponsoring the annual Military/Amateur Radio Cross band Communications Test. Although Armed Forces Day is traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday in May -- May 18 in 2013 -- the AFD Military/Amateur Cross band Communications Test will be conducted on May 11 to prevent conflict with the Dayton Hamvention®, scheduled for May 17-19.

The annual celebration features traditional military-to-amateur cross band communications SSB voice and Morse code tests. These tests give Amateur Radio operators and short wave listeners an opportunity to demonstrate their individual technical skills and to receive recognition from the appropriate military radio station for their proven expertise. QSL cards will be provided to stations making contact with the military stations.

Military-to-amateur cross band operations will take place on the dates and time in UTC on the frequencies listed for the Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps and Coast Guard MARS stations. Voice contacts will include operations in single sideband voice (SSB); some stations will use CW to provide the opportunity to check in by Morse code. Depending on propagation and staffing, some stations may not operate the entire period. Participating military stations will transmit on selected military MARS frequencies and listen for Amateur Radio stations in the amateur bands. The military station operator will announce the specific amateur band frequency being monitored. Duration of each voice contact should be limited to 1-2 minutes. The annual Secretary of Defense message will be transmitted via digital modes, including RTTY, PACTOR, AMTOR, PSK-31, MFSK and MT63 from certain stations.

Check the MARS Armed Forces Cross band Test website for schedules and frequencies of participating military stations, including a list of stations that will be transmitting the annual Secretary of Defense message. Instructions on how to copy and submit the message are also included.

Robots to Lighten Domistic Chores


At the end of every year in recent memory, it seems, high-tech optimists have predicted the next year as the one when robots will finally lift from our shoulders the burden of dreary domestic tasks.

Think washing floors, scrubbing the grill, cutting the lawn, watering plants, changing cat litter, vacuuming the carpet — and, for good measure, pacifying the baby and entertaining the older children.

That was certainly the case at the close of 2013, said Dan Kara, a robotics analyst with ABI Research. “This was supposed to be the year where everything was going to be different,” Mr. Kara said. “Again.”

And while that home-robotics revolution didn’t exactly come to fruition this year, Mr. Kara said a handful of interesting robotic debuts in 2014 brought consumers one step closer to the chore-free home of the future.

That sentiment was echoed by two others who closely follow the consumer robotics industry: Erico Guizzo, editor of the Automaton blog of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and Andra Keay, managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group. Based on recommendations from these specialists, as well as some firsthand tests, here are 10 notable robots that made their debut this year.

Neato Botvac Vacuums constitute the biggest and most competitive consumer-robotics category in the marketplace, and they’re getting better. The earliest models were criticized for their over-reliance on humans to maintain them. (“I had to constantly clean my cleaning robot,” Mr. Guizzo said.) Owners also had to drag the bots to their charging stations when the batteries died, and move furniture that the robots couldn’t squeeze beneath. The Neato Botvac ($480 to $600) requires less cleaning than the earliest robotic vacuums, and it features good pickup power and a low profile that helps it sneak under couches. My favorite feature: When the battery is low, the Botvac returns to its charging station. When Dyson’s much-anticipated robot appears next year, watch for similar features.

Grillbot It’s a small, nasty job that’s too often forgotten until the food is ready to throw on the barbecue, but cleaning a grill can be a pleasure — as long as someone else is doing it. The $130 Grillbot works like a miniature Roomba, but with more fearsome metal bristles. On a hot or cold grill, start the bot, close the lid and 10 to 30 minutes later, the grate is clean enough to cook on. Some users have noted the bot’s tendency to shed bristles, but Ethan Woods, the company’s chief executive, said a new design has addressed the issue. Forgetful types will appreciate the device’s alarm, which sounds when the bot is left in a hot grill for too long.

Soloshot2 Filming oneself, for fun or work, is easy enough if you stand still. But for less-static pursuits — like sports, dance or just even romping in the yard with your toddler — filming and doing are mutually exclusive. The Soloshot2 is a $400 system made up of a robotic camera harness and a separate sensor that attaches to whatever you want to film. The harness points the camera in the direction of the sensor. With a range of 2,000 feet and a battery life of eight hours for the base and four hours for the sensor, the Soloshot2 can be used to videotape any activity, even your next synchronized swimming session (the sensor is waterproof). The only thing you need worry about is someone stealing your camera while you’re playing in the pool.

Litter-Robot Changing cat litter is the most dreaded entry on my children’s list of chores. The Litter-Robot may change that. It’s built with a sensor that knows when your cat has visited, and afterward the unit rotates like a giant cement mixer, to sift and deposit clumps into a waste tray. There are downsides: The Litter-Robot is fairly big — about 29 inches high and roughly 25 inches from front to back — so it may not fit easily in smaller apartments. At $389, it’s not cheap. And you need to keep it stocked with carbon filters and waste-tray liners.

rockaRoo A company based in Pittsburgh, 4moms, built the RockaRoo to track a baby’s weight and seat position hundreds of times per second, and replicate the rocking motion with a seat that pivots at the bottom. The motion includes “falling at the speed of gravity,” the company said, and the motor is quiet enough to allow napping or for the baby to hear whatever music parents wish to play over the device’s internal speakers. For parents of colicky or otherwise sleepless babies, this particular bot may be worth the $180 price. For this parent of older kids, it arrived around 12 years too late.

Scooba 450 No company has done more to popularize home robotics than iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum, the Looj gutter cleaner, the Mirra pool cleaner and, this year, the Scooba 450 floor scrubber. The $600 device soaks the floor, spreads cleaner and scrubs and vacuums the dirty water before a final pass with a squeegee. One hiccup we had during our otherwise successful testing: The “Virtual Wall” accessory, which creates an infrared barrier to keep the Scooba out of specific areas, cast so much infrared light that in smaller spaces the robot was hesitant to scrub anywhere.

Robomow RS Most household tasks can be blown off with few consequences. Drag your feet on lawn-mowing duties, though, and you pay dearly. Robomow’s RS ($1,100 to $2,000) is among the latest entries in a category that’s attracting competition from established brands and start-ups. Setting up the mower can be a chore, as you must map out your yard with wires to define the Robomow’s boundaries. Once that’s done, though, the bot cuts as often as you like and returns to its charging dock when low on power. It’s electric, so noise is less of a problem than with conventional mowers. For American consumers, one big question for Robomow and its competitors is long-term reliability. But analysts give the latest generation of robotic mowers good marks for reliability, and electric mowers generally require none of the annual maintenance faced by owners of gas-powered mowers.

Kibo The toy market is cluttered with robots that dance and make noise and then, if my children are any indication, collect dust once a child has grown bored with the toy’s schtick. Kibo is a different breed of bot, having emerged from a children’s technology lab at Tufts University. Designed for ages 4 to 7, it’s a learning tool disguised as a toy: Kids program the $230 robot using wooden blocks that form different commands. Kibo scans the sequence of the blocks and executes the commands, while also reacting to sounds, light and obstacles. Its components are so intuitively designed that a child (or adult) can operate it without reading directions. The idea isn’t so much to get kids to understand programming, but rather to use a self-programmed device to enhance playtime activities like storytelling and role playing.

Robotis Mini Robotis generated much attention for its Robotis-OP humanoid robot, which was praised for its sophistication and versatility, but which carries a $12,000 price tag. This year the company released a miniature version of that device, which loses some of the versatility and durability of its bigger sibling but remains a technological wonder. Unlike the humanoid robot toys on the market, the $500 Mini is programmable and responds to touch, gesture and voice commands with fluidity and precision. Some owners have complained that putting the robot together is unduly difficult, and the company tacitly acknowledged as much with video tutorials intended to help users through the hours long assembly process. Another significant drawback, for now, is that you need an Android mobile device running Android software version 4.0 to control the Mini. The cheapest of these are around $150. An Apple version is in the works, the company said.

Droplet Gardeners with day jobs and cluttered lives understand that watering plants is a classic problem. You want precise and regular watering; you’re more apt to deliver a massive dousing after work and before dinner, and only after the plants have begun tilting earthward for lack of moisture. At $300, Droplet is a pricey but reliable solution to the problem. Set the sprinkler in place, program the system on a computer or mobile device and connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi router, and the system takes over from there. Droplet checks weather data and points the sprinkler to specific pockets of your garden to deliver water where and when it’s needed. With a range of 30 feet in all directions, the units can manage bigger gardens and entire swaths of lawn with less wasted water.

Electronic Keyer Logikey K-5

Idiom Press


The Logikey K-5 is the latest implementation of the famous CMOS Super Keyer III firmware, described in detail below. Idiom Press continues to make the industry standard super-keyer, a full-featured multipurpose keyer that will be right at home in any radio shack. Whether you are a contester, a DXer, a rag-chewer or a meteor-scatter burst mode fanatic, your needs are met easily and simply with the Logkikeys mnemonic interface. No memorizing charts of keyer commands! No re-programming your keyer for every contest. No looking for menus when you need to change speed. These features, and more, make the Logikey the most user-friendly keyer on the market.

The K-5 features a new compact enclosure and circuit board featuring enhanced protection, side-tone volume control, negative keying capability, and built-in AAA battery holder. An accessory hookup cable kit is available in three versions, to suit most any transmitter.

The Super CMOS III Kit has a long and well-deserved reputation as one of the best Morse keyers ever designed. And when you look at the list of features you won't believe the price. The Logikey K-5 is the factory assembled keyer, with a very nice case, ready to "plug and play;" -- all the features of the kit plus negative keying capability, adjustable amplified side-tone, and an internal battery pack!

These keyers feature speed control by pot, six pushbutton memories (which can be banked to provide 18 separate message memories) and no other controls apart from your paddle! Several functions are readily available by combinations of key presses, and there is a built-in side-tone oscillator for practice and programming. Those are just the highlights-- check out the features list:

1. Iambic keyer with dot and dash memories
2. 6 active message memories, +12 banked messages, 1430 characters total
3. Messages may "call" other messages, and contain embedded functions
4. Input queue to call messages sequentially
5. Contest serial numbering 001-9999 with variable formats and easy correction
6. Digital and analog speed control, 5-60wpm
7. Adjustable weighting on dots and dashes-- 25-50%
8. Side tone (and practice) oscillator with variable pitch
9. Tune (key down) function
10. Selectable automatic character spacing
11. Timed pauses within messages
12. Message loop capability for continuous play
13 Text insertion from the paddle during message play
14. Curtis A/B and eight other timing-emulations

15. Ultra-speed messages to 990wpm for meteor scatter, etc.
16. Ultra-low power consumption for battery operation
17. Full beacon capability
18. Stored (memory) message editing capability
19. Messages and configuration saved when power is off
20. Keyer can compensate for transmitter shortening
21. Hand Key mode.

In reference to the features described above, there are NINETEEN FUNCTION COMMANDS (for setting features), THIRTEEN INQUIRY FUNCTIONS (the keyer will report the settings), and ELEVEN EMBEDDED FUNCTIONS (which can be placed in stored message text). There are even FIVE TWO-BUTTON COMMANDS, executed by pressing two of the six buttons simultaneously, for common functions like going into tune mode or hand-key mode.

But don't let all of this intimidate you! First, the commands and functions are mnemonic-- "S" for Speed, "M" for Monitor, and so forth-- so you don't need to refer to the manual every five minutes.

Second, the most commonly used functions-- setting the speed, sending a stored message, storing a message-- are all right there in front of you. You can start using the keyer immediately, and worry about programming the more advanced features later.


Club Contact Information

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Contact information is on our web site:
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Calendar of Events

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