Palm Springs Luncheon Recap

The PAPA Palm Springs Luncheon

was held on Saturday October 29, 2022!

It’s that time of the year again! Each 5th Saturday of the month (except during the blazing hot summer) PAPA meets for lunch at American Legion Post 519 in Palm Springs. The October 29th meeting featured two excellent presentations given by PAPA members.

The first session was a fascinating presentation led by PAPA member Randy Standke, KQ6RS, and supported by fellow PAPA member Karl ‘KC’ Cain, KC6B.  As briefly described in the posting on the PAPA website, Randy talked about the program that he and KC have developed that gives San Diego’s Mt. Carmel High School students hands-on experience with the practical aspects of Ham radio as applied to high altitude balloon flight.  Randy presented a brief video featuring the student-members of the Mt. Carmel Amateur Radio Club preparing for a balloon launch in the field, followed by a very informative slide show which provided some technical context for the program.

Randy, KC, and other interested volunteers recover radiosondes (small, lightweight radio transmitters used by NOAA to gather atmospheric data) that fall to earth after completing their NOAA missions, and repurpose them for this student program.  NOAA designed these radiosondes to be single-use devices.  However, these frequently return to Earth largely undamaged, and can be reconfigured and launched again.  Once recovered, these light-weight radio transmitters are modified and reprogrammed by the students, with Randy’s guidance.  Rehabilitated and tuned to Ham frequencies, the devices are fitted to new helium balloons by the students, and launched.  Environmental data, and in some cases photographic data, from the airborne transmitters is collected and processed by Mt. Carmel’s Amateur Radio Club student members.

Learn more about the NOAA balloon program, including launch and landing site information, at this web site:

Here’s a screen shot from that web site, detailing the life cycle of a balloon recently launched from a hilltop that should be familiar to PAPA members: Otay Mountain.

The second session was equally interesting.  PAPA member and long-time technical supporter, Chris Durso, AA4CD, provided a brief overview of the repeater subsystem that he designed to improve connectivity in an RF ‘shadow’ in the PAPA 4 service area.  This subsystem consists of three components: a Motorola remote receiver, a frequency-specific RF filter, and an AllStar VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) module.  The Motorola receiver is programmed to the same input frequency as PAPA 4, but uses a different CTCSS tone (in Motorola-speak: PL tone).  The filter allows the receiver to discern the desired signal from the cacophony of RF signals that exist at all repeater sites.  The AllStar device receives the filtered incoming audio signal from the remote receiver, and then transfers it to PAPA 4, thus greatly improving the coverage in this zone.  This design can be used to improve coverage in any service area that has service ‘shadows’, and is currently in service to the PAPA 8 repeater at Mt. Wilson.  As is the case with PAPA 8 (8V and 8W), the PAPA system analog repeater spreadsheet will have two lines of information for PAPA 4, once this new subsystem is installed.  Installation is expected to take place within the next two to three months.

This design / application exemplifies the intersection of Chris’s competency and creativity in Ham radio technology, and his dedicated service to the PAPA system.

What I found to be just as amazing as the subject matter of these two excellent presentations is the fact that all three of these PAPA members, beyond being Extra Class operators, are also Electrical Engineers.  They come to PAPA from careers in the aerospace industry and the Department of Defense.  What an amazing opportunity to sit-in on a workshop led by three EEs!

When we think of PAPA, most folks immediately think about the dozens of hilltops and the broad coverage that blankets the Southwest.  We should also recognize that PAPA is more than repeaters; it’s members like Randy, KC, and Chris, that keep the system going, and reach out to the next generation of PAPA members.  Down the road, the future of PAPA belongs to young Ham operators like those in the Mt. Carmel High School Amateur Radio Club.


Paul Letson, KN6RED


Author: Ed KB6THO

Where shall I hike today?

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