ARISS Contact in Decatur

On Friday, March 18th, the Decatur Amateur Radio Club was able to provide support to Tim Cunningham N8DEU and AMSAT as they conducted a contact from Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur with astronaut Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station.  The ARISS contact with NA1SS lasted just under 10 minutes, and 20 students were able to ask questions of the astronaut and hear the answers.  The event was practically flawless and everyone was suitably impressed by the whole thing.


Tim N8DEU did all of the legwork, provided most of the equipment, and was the control operator for the event.  He did a masterful job!

The Decatur Daily published an article on March 19 about the event.  They also posted a photo gallery and a 3-minute video clip.

For those who are interested, here’s Tim’s equipment list:

The basic station consists of the following:
1. Yaesu FT-847 connected to TE Systems amp and SSB Electronics SP-2000 preamp at the satellite yagi’s.
2. Yaesu FT-736 backup radio connected to Mirage 1018G amp to ground plane antenna.
3. Yaesu/Kenpro G5400 Az/El rotor.
4. Satellite tracker interface between computer and antenna system.
5. 50A power supply.
6. Laptop running SATPC32/SATPCISS for antenna and radio automation control (FT-847)
7. The FT-736 has programmed memories pre-programmed in case primary station has hiccups.


Here’s a photo of the antenna assembly on the roof of the school:
N8DEU Antenna for ARISS
There was also assistance from AMSAT, the Marshall Space Flight Center Radio Club, other hams from Athens and from Morgan County, and numerous others.  Thanks to all, and thanks especially to Tim for giving all of us (especially the lucky students) such an incredible opportunity.
Tagged with General on 19th March, 2016. No comments.

DARC Christmas Dinner 2015

Greetings, all!  The Decatur Amateur Radio Club invites you to its annual Christmas Dinner.  It will be held at Libby’s Catfish and Diner on Highway 67 in Priceville.  We will meet at 6:00 on Tuesday, December 1st, and enjoy good food and friendship in the last club meeting of the year.
christmas lol - 09
If you’re available and want to join us, please come and participate!  Bring your family along as well!  The food is tremendous, and the talk around the table will be a lot of fun.

Hope to see you on Tuesday, December 1st!

Tagged with General,Meetings on 29th November, 2015. No comments.

Election of Officers for 2016

At November’s business meeting the club elected the officers for 2016.  They begin serving at the January club meeting.

The officers for 2016 are:

President – Craig McClure KJ4LAA

Vice-President – Mike Lowery KM4JCD

Secretary – Richard Matthews KB4CAY

Treasurer – Lester Christophe W5GSU

We’re looking forward to another good year for our club!

Tagged with General,Meetings on 6th November, 2015. No comments.

The Official Field Day 2015 Results

The ARRL has posted the Field Day 2015 results on the website.  They will be printed in the December issue of QST magazine.

Once again, this wasn’t our club’s best showing.  But we DID make a great effort, as always!

Here’s the breakdown:

– Out of 2,720 entries overall, W4ATD was #769.

– Out of 209 entries in the SE Division, W4ATD was #79.

– Out of 44 entries in the AL Section, W4ATD was #16.

– Out of 391 Class 2A entries overall, W4ATD was #159.

– Out of 30 Class 2A entries in the SE Division, W4ATD was #16.

– Out of 6 Class 2A entries in the AL Section, W4ATD was #3.

Looks like we had a mid-range showing.  Again.  But we did have a bit more competition this time.

Let’s be better next year! June 25th and 26th will be Field Day 2016!

The database can be found at

Tagged with Field Day on 27th October, 2015. No comments.

DARC October 2015 Meeting

The October meeting of the Decatur Amateur Radio Club is going to be a bit different.

Instead of the regular meeting at the Morgan County Courthouse, we will meet at the home of the former club president and current treasurer, Lester Christophe W5GSU.  If you did not receive the notification e-mail with his address and directions, please contact the club secretary (secretary <at> or kb4cay <at> and we’ll get it to you.  Or call out on the 147.00 repeater and someone can help direct you to the meeting.

The meeting time is changing as well.  Since Lester needs his beauty sleep, and it’s close to his birthday (29th, or 39th, or something-9th – again!), we will meet at his home at 6:00 instead of 7:30.One more VERY IMPORTANT thing:  come ready to eat!  Lester’s wife Rosine is a fantastic cook, and we will be treated to some extremely tasty dishes from her kitchen.

And spouses are invited also.  Rosine would probably appreciate some company while we talk sports and radios and whatever else we guys talk about.  Oh, yes.  Club business.  That too.

Speaking of Rosine, she has asked that club members individually consider making a donation for a cancer walk that she will be participating in.  It’s being arranged by Bell P. B. Church, and it will be at Wilson Morgan Park at 8:00 on Saturday, October 24th.  Anything you can contribute will be appreciated, but she and Lester say that donations are NOT mandatory.

So, please DO NOT go the the courthouse on Tuesday, October 6th.  Do not arrive at 7:30 (or earlier, as we usually ask).  If you do, you can sit in the dark parking lot and think about the food and fun you just missed by not coming to the proper place at the proper time.

The proper place:  W5GSU’s home in Decatur.

The proper time:  6:00pm on Tuesday, October 6th.

See you there on Tuesday evening!!

Richard Matthews  KB4CAY

Secretary, DARC

Tagged with Meetings on 4th October, 2015. No comments.

Field Day 2015 Scoring

The scoring is complete, all of the bonus documentation has been collected and is being submitted, and Field Day is over for another year.

At least, until the scoring summary is published in QST Magazine in November or December.

Here’s the rundown on the club’s submitted score:

Number of participants: 23

CW contacts:            126  (THANKS Byron N4AX!!!!!)
Digital contacts:        0
Phone contacts:       508 (includes 145 GOTA contacts)

QSO points:

126 x 2 =        252
363 x 1 =        363
145 x 1 =        145

Total QSO points =                          760

Power multiplier:      150 watts or less = QSO x 2

Claimed QSO score =                     1,520

Bonus points:

200 points – 100% Emergency power
100 points – Media Publicity
100 points – Set-up in Public Place
100 points – Information Table
100 points – Site Visit by Invited Elected Official
100 points – Site Visit by Invited Served Agency Official
80 points – GOTA bonus
50 points – online entry form submission

Total bonus points =                        830

Total submitted score:       2,350 points

(38 points less than last year)


Photos taken by Richard KB4CAY, by Bob K4MLR, and by Craig KJ4LAA have been posted to the club’s Flickr account.  If you happen to have a photo or two of Field Day that you’d like posted in the album, e-mail it to the secretary and they’ll get included.  Here’s the address to look at the pretty (NOT!!) pictures:

Thanks again to everyone who participated in any way!  Please be thinking already about next June.

NOTE:  Post edited to correct error by fat-fingered typist who left out 100 CW contacts.  Apologies and thanks to N4AX for pointing it out!


Tagged with Field Day on 12th July, 2015. No comments.

Field Day 2015 Is Coming!

It’s that time of year that we all really look forward to:


2015 Field Day Logo Red Design 1

The Decatur Amateur Radio Club will hold its 62nd Field Day event at the usual location: the picnic shelter behind the Spirit of America Stage at Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama.

Set will begin around 9:00 on Saturday morning, June 27th. The contest begins at 1:00 and continues for 24 hours. Then we clean up, lick our wounds (which will hopefully be few!), and tally up the score for submission to the ARRL.

Last year was a pretty good effort (see the previous post for details), but there is certainly room for improvement. There are already several newcomers who have expressed an interest. If you are reading this and are curious about ham radio, or if you are now or have been a ham and would like to get on the air (GOTA – there will be a special station for that!!), then come out and join us at Point Mallard on Saturday or Sunday.

Field Day 2015. See you there!!!

Tagged with Field Day on 7th June, 2015. No comments.

Field Day 2014 Results

The December 2014 issue of QST magazine has the results of this year’s Field Day contest.  This wasn’t our best showing.  But we DID make a great effort!

Here’s the breakdown:
  • Out of 2,686 entries overall, W4ATD was #761.
  • Out of 195 entries in the SE Division, W4ATD was #69.
  • Out of 26 entries in the AL Section, W4ATD was #12.

  • Out of 392 Class 2A entries overall, W4ATD was #157.
  • Out of 33 Class 2A entries in the SE Division, W4ATD was #14.
  • Out of 5 Class 2A entries in the AL Section, W4ATD was #2.

Looks like we had a mid-range showing.  That means that next year can be better!  Be planning for June 27th and 28th to help out with Field Day 2015!

The database can be found at the ARRL website’s contest page <link>.
Tagged with Field Day on 12th November, 2014. No comments.

Club Officers Elected for 2015

At the November meeting the club elected officers for 2015.  They begin serving at the January club meeting.

The officers for 2015 are:

President – David Stephenson KJ4OKJ

Vice-President – Craig McClure KJ4LAA

Secretary – Richard Matthews KB4CAY

Treasurer – Lester Christophe W5GSU

Another good year awaits our club!

Tagged with General,Meetings on 8th November, 2014. No comments.

Field Day Aftermath

Field Day is over a month gone, and some of us are just now recovering from the long weekend.  Special thanks to the club’s Vice-President, Craig – KJ4LAA, who put in a 28-hour all-day/all-night effort to help make Field Day (mostly) successful.

Our overall attendance was higher than before, but we had fewer contacts to show for it.  We had visits from Morgan County EMA director Eddie Hicks, Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long, County Commissioner for District 2 Randy Vest, and State Representative Terry Collins (who made a contact on the GOTA station!).

We had 148 contacts on CW and 483 contacts on phone (including 135 from the GOTA station).  Our QSO score was 1,558.  Bonus points add an additional 830 points to the total, for a submitted score of 2,388.  This is approximately 300 points less than last year’s effort, but still not terrible for the group we have.

Now we wait for November or December when the ARRL posts the final results.

And then . . .

Wait till next year!!!  June 27th and 28th will be the dates.  Reserve them now!!

Photos are posted on Flickr (click here).


Tagged with Field Day on 3rd August, 2014. No comments.
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