EARS May 13, 2024 Newsletter

Below is the newsletter for May 13, 2024. I could use some help with the newsletter so we can keep sending a newsletter out weekly.

I am trying to include original articles and I would like to thank Chuck, KP4DJT, for contributing the AREDN articles. If you can write an article or even if you have a suggestion for an article, please let me know!

Steven Christy, N5ZQ

Ham Corner – AREDN Part 7 – Hardware, Antennas, Cables

In this section we will take a look at some of the hardware used in a node site. 

AREDN® is one of the lowest cost parts of the service. The radios are not expensive, with the most costly being the sector antennas (the long vertical boxes you see on cell site towers) and some of the very high gain directional antennas. As we obtain high locations for node stacks (sites with multiple nodes like a tower, water tower or tall building) the average user will be able to use a Mikrotik hAP ac lite which will cost around $50 on average but can be found as low as $41 but you may at times find them no lower than about $57, a very volatile market. The hAP will function as a router and 5 port switch. The radios on your tower, pole or whatever structure you use to reach the node stacks will usually have 1 or 2 Ethernet ports on them. They are powered using PoE but it is of the older nonmanaged PoE, which runs no more than about 30vdc. The radios you will need for your RF link may range from a radio that Mikrotik sells which will allow you to re-purpose a satellite dish for a high gain RF path. NOTE, there are several publications that when this configuration is used one should not get into the beam path. Also high gain (30db) dishes which cost about $120 for the dish and about the same for the radio used with the dish. Most of these devices have several radio options, so the dish and radio are sold separately. You may also have a good site with tower and want to offer access to your neighbours and others more distant but who have a good path to your tower so you may install sector antennas. The sector antennas rather than concentrating all of the RF into a narrow beam for Point to Point links  have a wider beam coverage, usually in 60, 90 or 120 degree beam  widths. Of course the wider then beam path the lower the gain. Let us look at some configurations. First some of the parts:

You may plug your home lan into this port. It is used to provide for a tunnel or access to the device from your local public network.

The 3 middle ports framed in black are the AREDN® LAN ports for your devices you want on the AREDN® LAN. The right most port framed in yellow is the DtD or Device to Device port, this is where your outside antenna will be connected. If there are more than one, a dumb switch will allow for multiple radio connections. The cable used in all of this is standard cat5/6 cable using the standard connector format with RJ-45 connectors. No coax!!! 

This is the LHG series radios, the 5 series have in most cases a 24 db gain antenna on them RF power is about .5Watts, the EIRP is right at 100W. Do not put it in front of your face when powered up either. There is a higher cost version of this antenna which has 27 db of gain which gives EIRP 250W. 

These antennas range from about $67 for the 24 dB gain version to $100 +/- $10 for the larger version. 

These are easy antennas to install and provide good gain for a good price. They are also very easy to use mobile. The screen allows the wind to go through them but sends the 5Ghz RF the right direction. There is also a 2.4Ghz unit, the gain is somewhat lower but 2.4Ghz penetrates trees better, the only drawback is there are only two non-part 15 channels the rest of the part 97 band is shared with part 15, and it is very noisy. 

There are other antennas such as the SXT series seen below, this antenna is available for $39 right now, that price will probably change, as they do fluctuate. This antenna has about 16 db of gain so it will give good performance linking to a sector antenna up to about 5 miles distance. 

Looking at some other products, one which comes up quite a bit is Ubiquiti. We have several of those in service, here are some examples:

Litebeam ac5, you want the AC model of these though the older ones are all over the place and well  Supported by AREDN® We have several of these in service around the network. The dish gain is 23 dB. These radios actually have two radios in them, the 5Ghz radio which is the point to point (PtP) radio and a 2.4Ghz radio which is sort of and administrative WiFi radio. You can use the Chart function built into the node to align these antennas. You connect a cell phone to the 2.4Ghz WiFi radio, you then open the browser to localnode.local.mesh and go to the chart function on the node status screen, you then turn audio on, now you will hear a tone that follows the signal level, you adjust the antenna for the highest tone pitch. A very handy tool already built into the node. NOTE: if there are two or more links terminating at this antenna you can use the Select Device to select the link you want to measure or align.

Below is the Rocket Dish, it is the antenna only, the radio maybe selected. The original radio was the Ubiquiti Rocket M5. Until recently we had one in a link to the node stack in downtown OKC. It has been replaced with a Rocket R5AC

This is the Rocket R5AC-lite. The two black connection points are where the antenna goes connected via two short coax jumpers. The R5AC-lite is mounted on the rear of the dish, there are special support rails and a hood that form part of the antenna along with the mounting hardware.                                

One last antenna that is used for multiple access is the sector antenna, it functions as a point to multipoint antenna, mounted on a tower, water tower, rooftop, or other structure. It gives access to multiple users within the coverage of the antenna. 

This is a Mikrotik Sector antenna, it may have a 60 degree beam width, a 90 degree beam width, or 120 degree beam width.  As the beam width increases the gain drops. You choose the antenna to fit the coverage.

We generally do not use omnidirectional antennas, the gain just is not that good and you get into hidden terminal problems with them. 

Now let us put the parts together for a simple node stack

Here we have a directional antenna, an LHG5 which will be aimed at another antenna either another node site also being a part of the mesh, or an access point for multiple users. The red line is cat5/6 connecting the radio on the tower to the hAP ac lite. This is the DtD or Device to Device circuit, if there are more radios a simple switch in line will allow them all to communicate. More on this later

The green arrows are the LAN ports for connecting devices such as a computer, a camera, VoIP phone, weather station, whatever you want as long as it meets Part 97 rules.

This is a node stack with multiple antennas on the tower/structure, there are two point to point antennas and a sector antenna. This might be an EOC or hospital site. 

We can use dumb switches to extend both the LAN port number and the additional antennas. The PoE or Power over Ethernet injector allows 12-30vdc to use the same cable as the data. Most systems run up near 30vdc due to the long run of cable. Again the applications are generally what you will find on the public network. 

Here is a picture of the Edmond South node stack antennas on top of the tower:

At present time there are only point to point antennas, notice that all of the antennas on this tower were previously described. The switch rather than being down below is a small box directly behind the large antenna. Below the same antenna  you can just make out a small device, it is a Pan Tilt Zoom camera.

Down in the equipment box below is the hAP ac lite, a solar charge controller (this site is solar powered) a Raspberry Pi for gathering data from the charge controller and also functioning as a remote control. The battery resides at the base of the tower. 

This is the lower section of the tower, note the solar panel and below that is the control box, the battery box is on the left side on the ground.

This is the control box. The only difference between this setup and a home station is perhaps the power. A home setup would probably use a 24vdc power supply, you might use solar, but most likely you would have it on a separate panel from your ARDEN gear. Your power source would probably be mains power backed up with a battery, ups or solar. It is for emergency communications. 

Going from left to right, the fan is seen on the far left, then mounted on a DIN rail is a Raspberry Pi  next to it is the hAP ac lite

Lower half going from left to right is a punch down block, 3 breakers for Load (blue breaker on left) Solar panel, middle breaker, and battery, right breaker. Then there is a small device next to the right most breaker, that is an interface between the Raspberry Pi and the charge controller, the blue box on the right.

I used this node stack because all of the equipment is quite easy to view, and associate. A shack system would be the hAP in the shack and the antennas up on the tower.

The added complexity here is the solar power system. But we want the network to operate regardless of the state of the mains power. 

Below is a list of common devices and materials used in a node stack. Your future node stack will probably consist of a mix of some of these devices.

In the next part we will look at Services and applications, all of this is just so much hardware without a job to do. Services and applications provide those jobs.

Chuck, KP4DJT

EARS May Board Meeting

EARS holds a monthly board meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. The next board meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14th at 7pm. The meeting is at Edmond Fire Station 5 in the training building down the hill by the tower. The blue pin on the map below shows the meeting location.

Fire Station 5 is located at 5300 E Covell Rd which is just East of I-35. If you need any help finding the meeting location, please give us a call on the repeater and we can help you out.

Don’t forget the Field Day meeting at 6pm prior to the board meeting!

Field Day 2024

Please note that we will hold a Field Day meeting on Tuesday, May 14th at 6pm prior to the May board meeting. All are welcome to attend!

Field Day 2024 is June 22-23 from 1pm CDT Saturday to 1pm CDT Sunday. It will be held at the Edmond Masonic Lodge which is located at 1026 North Blvd, Edmond, OK 73034. This is a new location for us this year so we will have some things to figure out but it is a large space with a kitchen that should be great for Field Day operations and also the dinner.

The number of simultaneous transmitters has not yet been determined but we set up 3 last year along with a 6m station (which does not change the classification) and there was plenty of time where not all transmitters were on the air. We will likely set up the same number of stations again this year.

We will again be running on battery power with the on-demand propane generator. A member has graciously offered to let us use this equipment again. It worked really well last year. We ran the generator during the afternoon and evening and turned it off and ran off battery most of the night. We also ran off of just battery power during the dinner which eliminated the generator noise. It was fantastic!

Now we get to the part where I ask for volunteers. Field Day does not happen by itself and I cannot do it all alone. We need to determine what class we want to run, figure out what radios we will use, what antennas we need and where/how to set them up. Logging is computerized so we need to get the computers updated and tested. On the morning of June 22nd, we have to set up antennas, computers and all of the radios. It is traditional to have a dinner on Saturday evening which also needs to be planned.

My plan is to have someone in charge of antennas, someone in charge of radios and someone in charge of computers. Each of those people will need others to help them get everything organized prior to Field Day and then set up on Saturday morning. I currently have computer help but I do not have any help yet for radios or antennas.

We also need a team to plan the Field Day dinner. I believe I have enough people to plan the dinner but I am sure help will be needed to get everything set up that evening.

As you have probably figured out, we need you! Below you will find a Field Day 2024 volunteer form. If you are able to help in any way, please complete the form on the Field Day 2024 page and indicate how you can help.

Steven, N5ZQ

Ham Holiday – July 26-27, 2024!

Preregistration for Ham Holiday 2024 continues!!!

Ham Holiday 2024 will be on Friday, July 26th and Saturday, July 27th at the Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC).

The Ham Holiday 2024 website for preregistration is:  https://hamholiday.com/tix/

The preregistration prize is a Buddipole “Buddistick Pro” portable antenna and the grand prize for Ham Holiday 2024 is a Yaesu FT-710 AESS HF/50 MHz SDR Transceiver with matching speaker.

The special drawing prize is a Yaesu FT-710 FIELD HF/50 MHz SDR Transceiver package.  The package includes a DX Commander vertical antenna, TekPower TP30SW power supply, coax, a Vibroplex SRacer key, along with other accessories. Only 300 special drawing tickets will be sold.  Special drawing tickets are $20/ticket.

There will also be a Royal Order Of The Wouff Hong ceremony on Friday evening. Stay tuned for further details on vendors, programs, seminars, and hourly prizes.


Tickets Available Now – Click To Get Yours Today

EARS Volunteers

I am sure all of you are aware that EARS is an entirely volunteer organization. That means we alway need volunteers. There are many tasks to get done and the more we share the load, the more this club will be able to do!

Below is a summary of just some of the events and activities in which the club participates:

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
LibertyFest Parade
Cowboy Christmas Parade
Cycle 66 Bike Race
Monthly Siren Test
Weekly Information Net – 52 Net Control Volunteers
Monthly VE Test Session
Bi-Monthly Club Dinner – 5 Dinners
Christmas Dinner
Technician License Class – Spring and Fall
Field Day – Also One of the Club Dinners
Severe Weather Spotting

This list does not include all of the administrative and management function of the club. The website needs frequent updates, this newsletter needs to be written, etc.

What does all this mean? It means We Need You! If you are able to help in any way, please let us know. Even if you are unsure how to help or where you might best fit, please let us know and we will work with you to find the best fit.

If you are willing to help, please contact us at k5eok@k5eok.org. That will send a message to both myself, Steven, N5ZQ, and Clay, WA6LBU and we will be in touch!


The LibertyFest events are coming up starting on June 14th and culminating with the fireworks celebration on July 4th. EARS has been helping with these events for many years and this year is no exception. LibertyFest is an entirely volunteer organization and EARS plays a large role especially with the parade and fireworks.

Below are the LibertyFest events in which help is needed:

  • Rodeo Day 1 – Friday, June 28, 4:00pm to 11:00pm
  • Car Show and Park Fest – Saturday, June 29, 6:30am to 2:30pm
    • We need 5 golf cart drivers in addition to other volunteers for this event
  • Rodeo Day 2 – Saturday, June 29, 4:00pm to 11:00pm
  • Parade – Thursday, July 4, 6:00am to 12:00pm
  • Fireworks – Thursday, July 4, 5:00pm to 11:00pm

As you can see, we need quite a number of volunteers to help LibertyFest happen. If you are able to help, please visit the LibertyFest page and fill out the form. It is not too early to volunteer!

All of the information on LibertyFest can be found on the LibertyFest website.

Logan County ARES Meeting

The next Logan County ARES meeting is Saturday, May 18th at 9am at the Sheriff’s Training Room. The address is 219 S. Broad St in Guthrie. The planned topic is radios and radio technologies. Anyone is welcome to attend.

If you are interested in ARES or emergency communications, please make plans to attend!

Logan County Siren Test

About a year ago we started assisting with a monthly storm siren test that occurs on the 3rd Saturday monthly. The county should have 4 additional sirens to test soon and I could use a couple of additional people in the rotation to ensure that we can cover all of the sirens each month. The format is similar to the Edmond siren test many of you assist with monthly.

If you are able to help, please let me know and I will add you to my list.

Steven, N5ZQ

Space Weather

Space (Solar) Weather is important is impacts our radio communication. While the greatest impact is usually on HF frequencies, it can also impact VHF, UHF and even higher frequencies. The video below comes from a YouTube page that is updated about every 2 weeks with new space weather reports. I encourage you to watch her channel for updates when you can as it is very educational.

Explanation of Aurora Borealis Chart

As most of you are aware, we were able to see the Aurora Borealis (or northern lights) in Oklahoma last weekend. Below is a graphic that helps explain this phenomenon.

Web Links

Here are a few links to other websites that may be of interest.

Upcoming Events

  • EARS Information Net – Every Monday at 8pm
  • Field Day Meeting Prior to May Board Meeting – Tuesday, May 14th at 6pm at Edmond Fire Station 5, 5300 E Covell
  • May Board Meeting – Tuesday, May 14th at 7pm at Edmond Fire Station 5, 5300 E Covell
  • Logan County ARES Meeting – Saturday, May 18th at 9am at 219 S. Broad St, Guthrie
  • EARS Licensing Testing – Saturday, June 1st at 8am – Sign Up on License Testing page
  • Edmond Siren Test – Saturday, June 1st at 11:30am
  • Field Day – June 22nd – June 23rd at Edmond Masonic Lodge at 1026 North Blvd, Edmond
  • LibertyFest Rodeo Day 1 – Friday, June 28 – Volunteer on the LibertyFest Page
  • LibertyFest Car Show and Park Fest – Saturday, June 29 – Volunteer on the LibertyFest Page
  • LibertyFest Rodeo Day 2 – Saturday, June 29 – Volunteer on the LibertyFest Page
  • LibertyFest Parade – Thursday, July 4 – Volunteer on the LibertyFest Page
  • LibertyFest Fireworks – Thursday, July 4 – Volunteer on the LibertyFest Page
  • Ham Holiday – July 26th and 27th

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