The CT RFI team met at ARRL HQ in Newington, CT on Saturday, February 25. Training was performed by Rob Leiden, K1UI, New England Division Assistant Director, with the help of Ed Hare, W1RFI and Steve Anderson, W1EMI of the ARRL Lab. A reference handout, developed with the assistance of EMA Team Lead Dan Brown, W1DAN, provided information about the use of the RFI team equipment. Four of the seven sections have now been trained and received their equipment, funded by a grant from ARDC. Another session is scheduled for Nearfest in Deerfield, NH on Saturday, April 29. RFI casework is already in progress with several cases already resolved. Interest in this effort continues to grow as the teams become better equipped and the success of their work becomes known. If you are interested in helping out and have some experience finding and correcting RFI, contact the team lead for your section for more information.
Jay Taft, K1EHZ, and Ken, N1KWG, announce there will be a mesh network training session on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 pm.
All those who are interested are welcome to join the meeting.
The slides to be used for the training can be found on the MVARA website:
If you are interested in participating in the upcoming session, please contact Jay or Ken at their qrz.com addresses.
The Barnstable ARC (BARC) held its first Winter Field Day (WFD) at Boy Scout Camp Greenough in Yarmouth, MA this weekend. The Club and the Boy Scouts are working together to put a permanent amateur radio station at the camp. As part of the close relationship being forged with scouting, BARC (W1MA) set up a 2O station in the camp and manned it around the clock with a dozen volunteers. Since the Administration building was winterized with no heat or water, it was an ideal location for an outdoor experience including temporary heaters and bringing in water. Although the effort was smaller than BARC’s summer Field Day, setting up the antennas and operating in cold weather gave both old timers and newer operators valuable experience. Don, KT1OK (foreground) and Lem, W1LEM were finishing the operation on Sunday afternoon, logging a few last-minute contacts on 15 and 40 meters.
665 contacts were made on 5 bands using emergency power with stations as far away as Hawaii. BARC is taking every opportunity to showcase amateur radio at Camp Greenough that hosts camp outs to scouts from all over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Winter Field Day continues this effort that began with Jamboree on the Air last Fall and continues with WFD and the removal of trees in preparation for Eversource to install three donated poles for the permanent radio station antenna supports.
On January 21, the RFI teams from EMA, WMA and RI attended the 1st New England Division RFI training session, held at New England Sci Tech. The teams received information about some general team-related matters as well as information about the equipment features and techniques for its use. Nancy, KC1NEK, from the RI team has posted some photos at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Cy3nTJsdvka7YEwM7. These three teams now have the equipment funded by the ARDC grant in their possession to use for helping hams with their RFI problems. Hams needing that assistance should start with the rfi troubleshooting guide.
The guide and decision tree will direct you to the RFI team page when you use the tree to guide your investigation and find you need further help. You then will see who your team members are and have the opportunity to answer a few questions so they can help you.
Your information will become part of a record that will be used to identify likely RFI sources for future cases. Even if you find the RFI source yourself, let the team know what you found so that your information can be added to the record keeping.
Even before they received the new equipment, the teams have already been helping hams in the Division find and eliminate RFI and this new equipment will greatly enhance the teams’ capabilities.
The next training session is scheduled for Saturday, February 25, at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, CT. This session is open to the CT team members and members of the ME, VT, NH teams on request and by invitation.
The last session currently scheduled is Saturday, April 29, at Nearfest in Deerfield, NH.
WZ0Z in MA and N2MH’s “Supernode” in NJ have added tunnels into the New England mesh system, bringing the number of states linked to 5; these include nodes in ME, NH, CT, MA and now NJ. Recent ARDC and ARRL grants in ME and RI offer the potential for further expansion and the recent partnerships between the NH mesh and NEDECN nodes raises the possibility of seeing more such partnerships throughout New England. These connections represent a first step towards linking New England with a system that can survive a commercial internet outage, whether due to natural disaster or cyber-attack. The nodes, mostly on the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands, utilize frequencies under threat from commercial interests and represent an enhanced facility for emergency communications including email, chat, iphone, mapping, remote camera operation and monitoring and many other apps found on the internet and familiar to ARES served agencies.
If you operate a mesh network in New England and would like to tunnel into the existing mesh system, please contact Rob Leiden, k1ui, Assistant NE Division ARRL Director, Spectrum Protection and Use at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the RFI Teams prepare to be trained and receive the equipment purchased with the $23.6K ARDC grant, additional team members are sought in ME, VT and RI. Training and distribution of equipment will occur in early 2023. This is an opportunity to help your friends and your club and learn something new with some very sophisticated equipment. You can see who has already volunteered on the New England RFI Team page. If you’d like to see your name and callsign on the team page, please contact your section team lead listed on the page. RFI is a major concern for all hams and the knowledge you receive will help you and help others. For more information, please email me at email@example.com.
The RFI team equipment is on order and delivery will begin this month. When available, the equipment will be used to finalize training materials. Following that, meetings with each team will be performed to train on and distribute the equipment. New England Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection and Use, Rob Leiden, k1ui, will be contacting the team leads to establish meeting venues and dates. Ordering of the two pieces of Division equipment is still in progress but will not directly affect the team equipment distribution. With the arrival of this equipment, the RFI Team project now can leverage the web page process hams can use for hunting RFI by enlisting team support with more capable, standardized equipment.
The Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) has issued a press release to acknowledge the $23.6K grant it awarded to the New England Division to equip its RFI teams. In part, the press release states:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ARRL New England Division to Combat RFI
An ARDC grant will provide teams in each of the ARRL’s New England sections with the equipment they need to find and eliminate radio frequency interference.
November 11, 2022—Radio frequency interference (RFI) has become an issue for many radio amateurs in the past decade. Solar energy systems, LEDs, switching power supplies, dimmers, variable-speed motor controllers and other non-linear devices have all raised the noise floor. This impacts radio amateurs across the board, including those participating in emergency communications, traffic handling, and those talking with friends on the air. In some cases, it makes communicating via amateur radio all but impossible.
To combat this problem, the ARRL New England Division has created teams to help radio amateurs find sources of RFI and eliminate or reduce the interference. These teams are also able to provide additional assistance when required, such as working with utility companies, the ARRL, or even the FCC.
A $23,640 ARDC grant will allow the New England Division to purchase RFI equipment for each of the seven sections in the division. Each kit will have the following equipment:
● Icom IC-705 transceiver, outfitted with a backpack and spare battery, for RFI detection and spectrum capture.
● DX Engineering NOISELOOP receiving antenna and a DXE-NL-PRE-ATT-1 preamplifier- attenuator to detect sources of high-frequency RFI.
● Elk Antennas 2M/440L5 Dual-Band Antenna for locating RFI sources in the VHF and UHF portions of the spectrum.
In addition, the division will be purchasing a Radar Engineering RE-243 Broadband RFI Locator for detecting power-line noise and a Radar Engineering RE-245 Circuit Sniffer for detecting indoor noise sources. This equipment will be dispatched to the sections when needed.
The funds will also help the division with on-site training for all seven New England section teams. Rob Leiden, K1UI, Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection & Utilization, notes, “This grant will really help our dedicated teams combat RFI throughout the New England Division.”
Jay Taft, K1EHZ, writes:
Jay Taft, K1EHZ and the Merrimack Valley ARA and Bill Barber, NE1B, representing NEDECN have partnered up to connect several DMR repeaters in southern NH with 5.8 GHz mesh networks. This approach makes the internet connections between the repeaters more robust and provides the potential for remote monitoring of the sites, both using cameras and spectrum sampling. The high elevation sites also provide better unobstructed distances between mesh nodes making it possible to deploy more efficient networks using fewer nodes to achieve long distances. One useful feature of the network is the mapping of the various network nodes in layers that improves visualization and planning activities. Use of various symbol types for different services and color coding of node speeds and link types provides a compact but also complete view of the network. Watch for future posts that discuss various other mesh network capabilities as the New England Division witnesses expansion of connected emergency networks using recently approved and future grants. Progress is discussed at the firstname.lastname@example.org bi-monthly Zoom meetings, next held on Thursday, November 3 at 7 PM. Membership in the group is open to all interested hams.