FARS Meeting Programs - 2020 [2019] [2020] [2021]

Friday January 24, 2020 - Membership Meeting


[Raffle Winners]

Raffle (L-R):
Cliff, KN6DH (2nd)
Elise KI6PUO, (3rd)
Nick, N6COA (4th)
Rich, W6APZ (1st)

Raffle (not present):
Adrian, K3ADM (WYWH $5)
    - donated back to FARS

WSPR, the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter

Paul Simon, W6EXT

Paul Simon, W6EXT, explains WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter), which is a unique technique to determine and present current propagation conditions worldwide. Stations around the world upload receive reports that are collected by a central database where they are available for use. Current methods of analysis fall short of usefulness, but are being improved. Paul describes and shows new methods of exploratory data analysis for processing WSPR data.

Paul Simon, W6EXT, has been a ham since 1957 and on digital modes since 1967 using a model 15 mechanical TTY and home built TU. He operated on a 7/24 RTTY circuit between Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles for many years starting with 170-Hz-shift RTTY.

Paul later switched to PACTOR on 30 meters with a 24/7 circuit with a ham in Portland Oregon. He started using phase shift keying (PSK) around 2000. He now uses the digital modes Contestia (derived from Olivia) and THOR.

Paul has always been interested in radio propagation including solar observations and recently WSPR. Being retired he now devotes more time to Amateur Radio.

Paul is a member of FARS.

Before he retired, he worked in the disk drive industry, doing research and development associated with recording head design and fabrication.


Raffle prizes
Questions for Dr Know-it-All

We will be raffling off prizes at this meeting:

  1. Choice of one of:
    • * Nano Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) 2-port network analyzer with SMA connectors, broad frequency coverage 50 kHz to 900 MHz, measures S11, S22, S21 and S12, includes calibration kit (SMA open, short and 50-ohm). Use it to measure filters, tune duplexers, match antennas, and more
    • Radioddity QB25 Mobile Same as the QYT 7900SD. 4-bands; 25/10 watts; 200 memories; 0.25 uV sensitivity; covers: 2m/136-174MHz, 210-230 MHz, 70cm/400-520 MHz; speaker-mic with key pad entry; CTSS and DCS coding. USB programming cable and software
    • Connect Systems CS-580 UHF DMR radio w/ 2100 mAH LiON batter, charger, program cable, S/W, 1000 memories, analog FM. Preprogrammed for the Bay Area
  2. Choice of one of:
    • * Radioddity GD-73A HT world’s smallest full featured DMR/analog UHF transceiver. Palm size 2600mAH battery, charging cable, belt clip, earpiece - 2 watts output – 1024 memories 1 watt audio output - comes complete programmed to Bay Area code plug (Ed Fong’s version)
    • BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band VHF/UHF HT
  3. * Tetra Li-ion Flashlight w/ USB powerpack, rechargeable 18650 2.6 AH cell. A flashlight, lantern, and an USB powerpack.
  4. * TBJ-1 PVC Tri-Band Antenna - 146MHz/220MHz/440MHz J-Pole Antenna by Edison Fong, WB6IQN
[Nano Vector Network Analyzer (VNA)]

Nano Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) 2-port network analyzer w/ SMA connectors, covers 50 kHz to 900 MHz

[Radioddity QB25 Mobile]

Radioddity QB25 Mobile Quad band (144/220/440 MHz) 25W mini mobile transceiver


Connect Systems CS-580 UHF DMR radio w/ 2100 mAH LiON batter, charger, program cable

[Radioddity GD-73A HT]

Radioddity GD-73A HT smallest full featured DMR/analog UHF transceiver w/ 2600mAH battery, 2W RF out, 1024 memories

[BaoFeng UV-5R]

BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band VHF/UHF HT

[Tetra Li-ion Flashlight]

Tetra Li-ion Flashlight w/ USB powerpack, rechargeable 18650 2.6 AH cell. A flashlight, lantern, and an USB powerpack.


TBJ-1 PVC Tri-Band Antenna - 146MHz/220MHz/440MHz J-Pole Antenna by Edison Fong, WB6IQN

* Indicates prizes that were awarded.

Friday February 28 , 2020 - FARS Winter Banquet

Living Dangerously: Building a 100-year-old electronics startup in California

Dr. Andrew Cromarty, N6JLJ
FARS Winter Banquet 2020

Location: Michael’s at Shoreline. Reservations are required.

Heathkit is known worldwide as the iconic largest, oldest kit manufacturer in the United States. Or it was, until the company changed its business model 30 years ago to emphasize its institutional educational products line.

In recent years, a new management team at Heath Company has been methodically restoring Heathkit to its destiny as the leading designer, manufacturer and provider of the world's highest-quality electronic kits. Dr. Cromarty expands on his recent invited IEEE History lecture by presenting materials from the century-old Heathkit historic materials archive not previously shown to the public. For those unfamiliar with Heathkit, he provides an abbreviated tour of the thousands of Heathkit products, and describes a few products you probably did not know existed. More…

Dr. Andrew Cromarty is President of Heath Company (Heathkit). He is an Amateur Extra class license holder, N6JLJ, and has been a ham for about 40 years, having served as an Assistant EC, Assistant DEC, and Section Traffic Manager and participated in many contests, although since restarting Heathkit it's been difficult for him to find time to get on the air.

Prior to Heathkit, Dr. Cromarty has been a chief officer in a half-dozen Silicon Valley companies ranging from tiny startup to billion-dollar publicly-traded tech company and spanning broadband, wireless, health, entertainment, and investment banking, as well as serving in past corporate scientist and corporate marketing roles, and he has sat on corporate boards of directors or advisors in technology, advertising, and corporate venture capital.

He holds undergraduate degrees in Music, Biology and Psychology, and MS and PhD degrees in Computer & Information Science. In addition to his work as President of Heath Company, he has been active in scouting for decades, and he chairs the board of advisors for a company applying microloans, agriculture and community-scale entrepreneurship to address the clean water crisis in Africa.

Friday March 27, 2020 - Membership Meeting - On-line Meeting

Using QucsStudio for Circuit Design

Adrian Motamedi, K3ADM

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

FARS member Adrian Motamedi, K3ADM, introduces and demonstrate QucsStudio – a free program for circuit analysis and simulation. Circuit simulators are software programs that allow one to design circuits using a computer, thereby saving many hours of “bench” time building and testing prototypes. A circuit can be analyzed in the time domain or in the frequency domain, and simulators of both types exist. Most hams are familiar with a time domain circuit analysis program developed at UC Berkeley called SPICE and Linear Technology’s free version LTSpice.

The ARRL published a book “Circuit Simulation and Analysis” (2013) on such tools. However, for analyzing RF circuits, expert designers prefer a frequency domain program. One such program popular among hams was Ansoft's Serenade Student Version (SV). This was a free program featured in QST, January 2001. It had a “harmonic balance” analysis engine that derived from an earlier program called COMPACT, developed originally by Les Besser in 1973. Although hams still use it, the free student version is no longer available or supported.

The Quite Universal Circuit Simulator (QUCS) debuted in 2003 as a free open-source circuit simulator that would run under Windows. It filled the void left by the disappearance of Serenade SV. A new program QucsStudio has was released in 2011. It features an easy to use schematic editor, linear and nonlinear analysis and optimization, a library of device models, and the ability to import device models. Adrian introduces the general features of QucsStudio, its user interface and analysis and graphing tools. He shows an S-parameter simulation of a simple filter.

Adrian's presentation is available on-line.

Adrian Motamedi, K3ADM, started his career as a high-speed digital circuit design expert at Siemens, later Infineon Technologies.

In 2007 he joined Juniper Networks, where he worked on system, chip, package and EMI designs.

His last project at Juniper was one of the first backplanes with 10- and 25-Gbps and 3000 links (MX2020, Juniper's flagship product in the Edge market).

His next stops were at Aruba networks and, in 2013, chip startup Xpliant where his team designed and shipped a 3.2-Tbps bandwidth switch chip for “white box” switches at commercial data centers. He worked on the XP 56-Gbps PAM4 chips as Xpliant was acquired first by Cavium and later by Marvell Semiconductors.

He currently works for a stealth automotive startup. Adrian has six patents. He is a member of the IEEE, a board member of a physics non-profit, and holds licenses for Amateur Radio and student pilot. He enjoys hiking and flying small airplanes.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday April 17, 2020 - Membership Meeting - On-line Meeting

PackTenna: A High-Performance Portable HF Antenna

George Zafiropolous, KJ6VU

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Designed by George Zafiropolous, KJ6VU, PackTennas are lightweight, compact, portable HF antenna systems ideal for operating on the trail, at the campsite, on Field Day, SOTA activation, air travel, or HOA restricted locations. PackTennas were featured in QST November 2016. George tells us the story of these great antennas, why they work so well and how to get the most from them.

George Zafiropoulos, KJ6VU, was first licensed as a Novice in 1972. He currently holds an Amateur Extra license and is an avid QRP/portable operator. He is the co-host of the Ham Radio Workbench Podcast, one of the more popular ham radio podcasts.

George has a long and interesting ham radio history as well as being an accomplished home-brewer, builder, operator, and high tech executive. His projects have included repeaters and repeater controllers, the Cactus Intertie, DMR, and building with Arduino micro-controllers.

George is a director of BayNet, which operates a system of seven repeaters around the Bay Area with links to other repeater networks. He organizes BayNet’s annual radio conference BayCon held in February.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday May 22, 2020 - Membership Meeting

The Russian Woodpecker Over the Horizon Radar – A Blast from the Past

Keith Snyder, KI6BDR

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Hidden deep in a serene forest yet taller than the clouds, standing in surreal beauty is an antenna array like none other on earth, having an aperture area greater than 15 U.S. football fields. One of the great wonders of the world – a top secret Soviet radar, so secret that even the name is uncertain, for it had many. It was the Russian Woodpecker. It was the Steel Yard. It was Duga.

The story of this top secret place is one of mystery and intrigue. Now abandoned, a rusting testament to man’s cold war hubris, almost all popular accounts on the web are seriously flawed – victims of deliberate disinformation. Where did it come from? What did it do? Did it transmit? Did it receive? Was it the first of three, or the third of two?

Keith Snyder, KI6BDR, has been busy reverse engineering to uncover truth before time erases history. Keith shows visible engineering clues that reveal the mission and correct the history of the huge “Duga 3” antenna Array. The Duga 3 is located a few kilometers from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site. Although it has fallen into disrepair, it stands today due only to a hasty exit forced by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The nuclear accident ironically protected the array from dismantlement, a reprieve from all but the ravages of time. The antenna array today attracts tourists who visit Chernobyl. It is one of the 8th wonders of the world due to its titanic size.

Keith Snyder, KI6BDR, is a master power user of the FEKO numerical electromagnetics code for antenna modeling and analysis. He started using FEKO 18 years ago as user no. 8 in the U.S. and no. 1 at Northrop Grumman. Keith is an expert at reverse engineering antennas using photos and AutoCAD to import complex models into FEKO.

Keith studied antennas under at The Ohio State University. He had the great fortune of having Professor John Kraus as his electromagnetics instructor. Keith’s aunt was Kraus’s secretary!

Keith graduated from Ohio State in 1980 and picked up a Telecommunications Certificate from U.C. Berkeley. Keith has considerable antenna design experience having worked on a wide variety of antenna applications including: AM antenna matching at Harris Broadcast in Quincy, Illinois; reflector antennas using the NECREF code at GTE in Needham, Massachusetts; patch antenna arrays at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado; radar antenna design at Aydin Radar in San Jose; broadband antennas at GTE in Mountain View; shaped reflector antennas at Space Systems Loral; and finally antenna and array design and analysis for aircraft and vehicles at Northrop Grumman in Sacramento, San Jose, and San Diego.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday June 19, 2020 - Membership Meeting

Knowledge, Sufficiently Forgotten, is Indistinguishable from Magic

Shrikumar H., KA6Q

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Shrikumar, KA6Q, has been an Amateur Radio enthusiast for 40 years and a licensed ham for about 40 weeks.

“Since I grew up in a negative-20 year time-warp in my high-school days, and was later transplanted to Silicon Valley at the temporal edge of civilization, I am as comfortable with valves like the ECC81 (an electron tube like the 12AT7) as I am with ML-engines implemented in 14nanometer FinFETs.”

His favorite bed-time reading material varies from the Lenkurt Demodulator to Running Light Without Overbyte.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday July 24, 2020 - Membership Meeting

Phones, Fires and Failures

Alan Thompson, W6WN and Bob Hess, W1RH

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Alan Thompson and Bob Hess present how cellular and Internet communications systems failed during the 2018 Camp Fire and placed peoples’ lives at risk. The presentation exposes the reasons why such failures have occurred elsewhere throughout California and the US and will likely occur again. Much of California shares the same severe fire conditions that destroyed the towns of Paradise and Magalia. These conditions, coupled with our over-reliance on cell phones and the Internet for all our communications, creates unnecessary risk for our homes, families and communities. One thing is clear: We need more resilient communications solutions to help ensure our communities get timely, life-saving information about fast-moving disasters. Topics covered are:

  • The sequence of the communications failures on November 8, 2018, the first day of the Camp Fire.
  • The role that Amateur Radio communications played during disaster recovery after the fire.
  • The reasons behind catastrophic Internet and cell phone systems failures, which continue to impact emergency communications, alerts, and evacuations throughout the US.
  • Steps that Amateur Radio clubs can take to help make our communities safer during local disasters or emergencies.

Alan and Bob’s presentation is available on-line.

Alan Thompson, W6WN, grew up in Placerville, California, and still lives there with his wife Debra.

Alan was first licensed at age 11. He went inactive due to school, work and family, but after a 35-year career in the satellite communications industry, Alan returned to Amateur Radio.

In 2018 Alan was part of a Disaster Recovery Team that installed satellite Internet systems to restore cell-phone service ten days after the Camp Fire destroyed the towns of Paradise and Magalia and disabled Internet and telephone communications throughout the region. What Alan witnessed there inspired him to become an "Accidental Advocate" for community fire and communications safety.

Starting in 2019, Alan has been meeting with Amateur Radio clubs, civic groups, homeowners’ associations and fire safe councils throughout Northern California and Western Nevada to alert others to the dangers we face from an over-reliance on vulnerable cell-phone and Internet communications services.

Alan is owner and Chief Field Engineer of El Dorado Networks, a satellite communications company.

He serves as the Public Information Officer of the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club http://www.edcarc.net.

Bob Hess, W1RH, was first licensed in the 60s.

Bob grew up in California but spent much of his professional life on the East Coast. Bob now lives with his wife, Karen, in Lotus, California.

Bob and Karen are members of the Coloma Lotus Fire Safe Council. Bob enjoyed a distinguished, 37-year career as the Director of Operations, Engineering and IT at KOVR Channel 13 TV in Sacramento.

Bob is an accomplished, award-winning DX’er and contester. Bob is President of the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club. He also serves as Vice President & Publicity Manager for the Mother Lode DX / Contest Club, past President of the Northern California Contest Club and was the Sacramento Valley Section Official Observer Coordinator.

Bob is responsible for installation and maintenance of an advanced, interconnected system of 10 VHF and UHF Amateur Radio and GMRS Repeaters located throughout El Dorado County. He divides his spare time between his hobby of wine-making, his love of radio, and his dedication to implementing Community Radio programs.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday August 28, 2020 - Membership Meeting

A DIY Stand-Alone Solar Project

Peter Chow, W0NG

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Peter made an interesting solar project that used solar modules that he bought a few years ago. He explains the ins and outs of making something useful that works using free energy from the sun.

Peter’s presentation are available on-line at his web page.

Peter is a retired engineer. He spent 34 years in Silicon Valley, working for Amdahl, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle - working on computer systems. He has a BSEE degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. His hobbies include ham radio, astronomy, and photography. He was an active FARS board member.

He holds an FCC Amateur Extra license, has been licensed since 1995, and is a member of ARES.


There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday September 25, 2020 - Membership Meeting


Home Brew Winners:
Rachel, KK6DAC (1st)
Shri, KA6Q (2nd)
Andy, KR6DD (3rd)
John, K6JDS (4th)

FARS Annual Home Brew Contest


This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

This meeting is about you. Yes you, our members and guests. Our Annual Amateur Radio Homebrew Contest is a opportunity to show off a project that you have worked on in the past year. Each participant has a few minutes to show and explain his project to our audience and has a chance to win one of our four prizes:

$40 First prize
$30 Second prize
$20 Third prize
$10 Fourth prize

The following presented at this meeting:

Henry W6REK S/W Android listener for Kiwi SDR
Andy KR6DD G4 Doppler S/W for the RPi
John K6JDS DC40 SMT Soldering project
Peter W0NG Line Filter for RFI
Shri KA6Q A Totally Pointless Antenna
Rachel KK6DAC Simple Axis Solar Tracker
Marc AF6DW WSPR Transmitter
Daniel K6DLC Digital Voice
Peter WA6VAQ Hidden Antenna
Adrian K3ADM RPi P25 SDR RX
Keith KI6BDR Mini Whip Antenna

There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday October 23, 2020 - Membership Meeting

Repeaters To Go... Wild

Steve Sergeant, KC6ZKT

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

What if you're organizing a back country event where there is no communications infrastructure? It's the kind of problem that amateur radio operators are uniquely suited to solve. What if your repeater site is only accessible on foot? Then you need a portable repeater system that can be carried to site in a backpack. Steve will talk about design requirements for highly portable repeaters systems, and show and demonstrate two 70-cm systems he has built for public service events, and review events where they were used.

Steve’s presentation is available on-line.

Steve Sergeant, KC6ZKT, is a third-generation ham. Originally licensed Novice class in 1972, his licensed expired, but in 1991 he was granted KC6ZKT as a Technician and has since upgraded to Extra.

Steve has a long career in audio engineering for professional and later consumer audio system integration. He currently works at Dolby Laboratories as an Applications Engineer.

Steve is on the boards of the WVARA and the Nature Sounds Society. He is also a volunteer backpacking instructor for the Sierra Club, who teaches in ultralight techniques, and a Uniformed Volunteer for California State Parks at Henry Coe State Park.
There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday November 20, 2020 - Membership Meeting

WiFi iGate and Weather Station

Nimit Hongyim, K6XOX/HS1IFU,

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Nimit Hongyim, K6XOX/HS1IFU describes his project to make an emergency and portable APRS iGate. The unit connects to a network wirelessly via Wi-Fi using inexpensive modules: a $3 ESP8266 NodeMCU. For a TNC he used a $2 Arduino Mini, which can also serve as a weather WX station by adding sensors for pressure, temperature, and humidity. One version of the project architecture is shown below. Nimit gives simple step-by-step instructions so anyone can make it, and he will describe other APRS-related projects that he did in fulfillment of requirements for his MSEE degree. Nimit is gives this Zoom presentation from Thailand.

Nimit’s presentation is on-line.

My first Call sign was ..HS1IFU.. License from Bangkok, Thailand.

More Info: http://facebook.com/k6xox

Currently resided back to THAILAND as HS1IFU

Operate HF in Thailand - 7.128 MHz

If you are planing to visit Thailand please give me a call +66 81 963 9422 (Thailand Cell) or Google Voice (408) 461-9422

I would be happy to help for reciprocal call sign.

Nimit came to the U.S. in the 2000's and was a member of FARS and on the FARS Board in 2008 and 2009. He returned to Thailand to work on his doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering. He still holds his Thai license (HS1IFU) and his US license (K6XOX).


There was no raffle, or WYWH for this meeting.

Friday December 18, 2020 - Membership Meeting

Quartzfest 2020

Rachel Kinoshita, KK6DAC
Rob Fenn, KC6TYD
Frank Fox, AF0XX
Karen Misenhimer, KK6NGA

This was a Zoom on-line only meeting.

Quartzfest, held in Quartzsite, Arizona, is like Woodstock for Hams. It is a camping adventure and a learning opportunity. Our illustrious gang of four, Rob, KC6TYD; Rachel, KKC6DAC; Frank, AF0XX; and Karen, KK6NGA, regale us with the desert fun of Quartzfest 2020. They share their adventures experienced during Quartzfest 2020. See what happens when you mix ham radio with boondocking – from daily seminars and four-wheel driving, to evening campfire camaraderie.

This presentation prepares you for Quartzfest 2021 coming the week of Sunday January 17 through Saturday January 23. Details are at Quartzfest web site. For 2021 Quartzfest has been renamed Quartz-PAUSE. "NOTHING WILL BE ORGANIZED".... just like the first 4 years of Quartzfest 25 years ago! That’s right, NO ONE IS IN CHARGE!! Hams are all ON THEIR OWN!! Quartz-PAUSE will continue to be radio ACTIVE. Talk in is on 146.550 simplex. Park ANYWHERE you want, and leave more room to spare. Announcements will be in the morning and evening on 146.550. The Main Fire Ring will be the focal point where there will be no gatherings, per management. But there is NO management this year. Yea!

Rachel Kinoshita, KK6DAC, moved from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989 to work for a start-up email software company and has spent most of her career working in the messaging industry.

She now spends her time fighting spam, malware, and phishing attacks. Rachel considers herself still a newbie to ham radio, having only gotten her license in early 2013. Although like many things, Rachel jumped in with both feet and soon got her general license, an HF rig and starting exploring the world in the low bands.

At the same time, she found herself working with her local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to help develop and shape their communications plans and policies. She also found her way to the South County ARES (SCARES) organization where she developed an interest in emergency communications.

Rob Fenn, KC6TYD, has been a ham since 1991. Over the past 11 years he has been involved with Parachute Mobile, a unique combination of ham radio and skydiving. He has been working as a Paramedic in Santa Clara County for 18 years.

Frank Fox, AF0XX ex WA6KGD, is a FARS member and a member of MARS (the Military Auxiliary Radio Service).

He has an illustrious history in Amateur Radio. In his early years, Frank operated the “green keys” of a Model 15 Teletype machine sending RTTY. He served as president of the Hayward Radio Club in the 1970s.