Video – CW contesting setup

Hunter, K3IE, did an overview of the radio, computer and software setup used to take part in a recent ARRL CW Sweepstakes.

A video of the presentation is here:

A Flex 6500 radio was used along with a number of software packages including SmartSDR, CWSkimmer, Slice Master and DAX:

  • SmartSDR
  • CWSkimmer is the software that takes the I/Q output from the radio and decodes the CW
  • Slice Master 6000 which sits between SmartSDR and CWSkimmer (SDR Bridge is another option here)

    Slice Master does a number of things but is primarily responsible for syncing the radio and CWSkimmer. This lets someone click on the CWSkimmer waterfall and have the radio automatically QSY to the frequency on which the user clicked. In the same way, a user can click on the SmartSDR panadapter and CWSkimmer will automatically scroll to that signal in its display. Slice Master is the “glue” that makes these two programs stay in sync when the user clicks either.
  • DAX is Digital Audio Transport

    It’s Flex software that creates virtual audio cables for the signals coming into and out of SmartSDR.
    It does this by creating a virtual soundcard for the incoming, outgoing, and I/Q signals.
    By having these signals show up on your PC as soundcards, you can use any off-the-shelf ham radio software and configure that software to use the DAX signals. So, in your ham radio software for digital modes like PSK-31, FT8, etc…. if you want to tell the software where to get the incoming audio for decoding, you’ll select the “soundcard” in your PC’s audio picklist called “DAX Audio RX 1”. And, to tell the software where to send the encoded audio for transmission over-the-air, you’ll pick the soundcard called “DAX Audio TX”.
  • N1MM Logger+

    N1MM is the gold-standard software used by contesters

Online Spotter Classes – NWS OHX

To sign up for the spotter classes visit:

From the National Weather Service:

“Online classes offer all the information that our in-person spotter classes offer with the added convenience of attending in the comfort of your own home!

Classes are FREE and open to people of all ages.
Each class is hosted by a National Weather Service Meteorologist from the Nashville WFO.

Classes run approximately 2 hours including a Q&A session.”

To sign up for the spotter classes visit:

Basic Spotter Classes Advanced Spotter Classes
All start at 6PM All start at 6PM
Tuesday February 19 Tuesday March 5
Thursday February 21 Tuesday March 26
Tuesday February 26 Thursday March 28
Friday March 1  
Thursday March 7  

Receive with your Fence

At the January, 2019 Monthly Meeting, Paul, WD9IOK gave a talk on his experiences making and using loop antennas mounted to fences. Check out the attached PDF and discover how to find those stations previously lost in the noise while complying with your HOA.

Winter Field Day 2019 – starts today at 1PM CT!

WCARES Winter Field Day 2019 starts today, Saturday, January 26 at 1PM CT and runs until 1PM tomorrow, Sunday, January 27. Address and parking information below.

Where: 7001 Tartan Dr, Brentwood, TN 37027
Setup Friday Jan. 25 at 1PM CT
Winter Field Day Sat. Jan. 26 at 1PM CT through Sun. Jan. 27 at 1PM CT

Directions/parking: Moores Lane to Moorehead Blvd and turn right onto Tartan Drive and park in the clubhouse parking lot which will be on your right after Vineland Ct. (,-86.8170025,19z )

If you haven’t signed up yet here’s a link to the registration form. If you think you would like to take part, simply fill out the form and submit. We will get back to you soon.

Photos showing entrance, streets and parking (click to enlarge):

Chokes, Baluns & Ununs

Dave, KI4PSR gave an informative talk on Chokes, Baluns and Ununs at the November Chew & Chat.

His talk covers some of the history of transmission line transformers leading to the development of baluns, ununs and choke baluns as well as definitions and theory. Some discussion on chosing the right balun included ideas on measuring common mode current, consequences of high- vs. low-power wiring, misconceptions about ratios, use of ladder line with baluns and grounding. Finally Dave walked us through a number of examples based on different antenna configurations including some being used by WCARES members.

If you missed the presentation or just want to review, Dave has provided his slides and text; You can find PDF copies at the following links:


Common mode current on the feedline of a dipole without a balun

Top 10 for Field Day 2018 – with pictures

During the preparations for Field Day 2018, Carl KB9DKR had talked about the “moonshot” possibility of WCARES breaking into the Top 10 list in QST Magazine. Well, the results are in and we did it! WCARES placed 9th overall out of 2903 groups participating with a score of 14290 and we were 1st among the 186 EOCs that took part this year.

A HUGE thanks to Cliff, N4CCB and Carl, KB9DKR who inspired us and coordinated and managed our effort this year along with all the station captains – Jeff and Peter (SSB), Tim and Cliff (CW), Phil (Digital), Al (VHF), Janise and Joe (GOTA), Jon and Jason (Satellite), Dave (fantastic Welcome Table) – and everyone who participated or volunteered to help.

We’d also like to thank Commissioner Dana Ausbrooks, of course Bill Jorgensen, Director of Williamson County Office of Public Safety and our EC, Randy Moore, KK4SRO along with the many visitors and GOTA participants for taking part and making this possible.

The December issue of QST has all the 2018 Field Day results, starting on page 71.

Pictures from WCARES 2018 Field Day.

Using WSPR – a presentation by Tim Kreth, AD4CJ

At the recent October Chew & Chat meeting Tim Kreth, AD4CJ, gave an interesting talk introducing members to WSPR and the WSPRlite. The presentation included discussion on using WSPR to learn about HF propagation, the WSPRlite and related resources. Tim also discussed the calculations necessary and presented a spreadsheet tool useful for converting WSPR signal levels to a relative approximation of what might be needed for other modes such as CW or SSB. The presentation and the spreadsheet are available via the links below:

WSPR Presentation (PDF)

Spreadsheet for Signal level conversion (XLSX)

Does your receiver have an IQ? A talk by Dave Matthews, KI4PSR

Dave Matthews, KI4PSR gave a talk at a recent Chew & Chat. The talk covered receiver designs over time and included discussion of the Tayloe detector.

Randy Moore, KK4SRO, our EC, has uploaded a video of Dave’s talk to Youtube and Dave’s slides are available as well:



WCARES featured in Williamson Herald Field Day 2018 story

WCARES is featured in a story posted by the Williamson Herald and written by 

The story features interviews and photo’s of members.

Read the story via the link below:

Field Day 2018 – Thank-you to all who took part!

Randy Moore, KK4SRO, WCARES EC would like to thank everyone who took part in what turned out to be a magnificent Field Day this year. It appears we did very well with numbers up in all categories. A big thank-you to Carl, KB9DKR and Cliff, N4CCB for all their hard work putting this event together.

Carl, KB9DKR echoed Randy’s words and congratulates all of the WCARES operators. Every station exceeded last year’s QSO targets – we’ll need to wait for the official results in November’s QST magazine but it appears we will do very well again this year. Carl thanks Commissioner Dana Ausbrooks and Williamson Co. Public Safety Director Bill Jorgenson for taking the time out of their schedules to visit our event and get on the air – Commissioner Ausbrooks at the GOTA station and Director Jorgenson operating at one of our SSB stations.

Carl also would like to give special recognition for the GOTA station which was planned, organized and run by Janise, KK4HTA and Joe, KM4QJW again this year. GOTA really knocked it out of the park this year. This station had the most positive attitude of any amateur station that Carl has ever encountered. The station was very carefully designed including a new station layout to facilitate pictures of the operators, multiple listeners and a separate space for printing of certificates and photos with the GOTA coach – all very important aspects of the public outreach that is part of GOTA. The great work done on the GOTA station will last a very long time. GOTA made 55 contacts and we would all like to recognize Janise and Joe for all the hard work running that station.

If anyone has photos or comments please get in touch with David, KK4CQD by e-mail .

Carl’s own person hightlight:

It was great to see so many of our WCARES operators working together. While working CW2 on Sunday morning, I came across a loud 10M beacon from Canada so I ran over to tell Jon Kessell who was working SSB1 and then returned to my station to call CQ and watch the band populate with signals on the pan adaptor. Then, I glanced at the logbook data and noticed that Jon had filled the entire screen with SSB QSOs–simply amazing for 5 watts. It was a phenomenal opportunity to be very early on what became the dominant propagation trend for the biggest radio event of the year. Oh Canada beacon, thank you! Carl KB9DKR