The April 2010 Reflector
First let me say that it was good to finally see Bobby, N4KXL, back at his position at the March Meeting. He’s been MIA for quite some time due to health problems and issues with his van. While he’s mended up pretty well, he’s elected for the time being to be a “non-driver” as the transfers from wheelchair to driver’s seat has caused several broken bones in the recent past.
His church, First Newark, has decided to help him along with that problem and has started a fund to help him financially in replacing his current van, the familiar blue Ford. If you’d like to participate, you’ll see a tab for further information on our website, which saves me from re-typing it all here again. We’re all hopeful that in the very near future, he can take to the road when he wants to, rather than waiting until when he can arrange a chauffeur.
It’s been a busy month in March and April isn’t letting up either. We had a good test session with two more new Techs and a General upgrade. Young Henry Leverett was back after his Tech license again, and I hate to report that he’s still just 2 points short. But you know what, you have to admire an 8-year-old who already has a gritty determination to get that thing passed. It’s a safe bet that he will be licensed before much more time passes. I also understand Abby, who is Henry’s 6-year-old sister, is already commenting about when she’ll get her license. For them, amateur radio is already becoming a family affair.
Several members are currently working on the EMCOMM 1 certification at a class in Monticello at the EOC. The EOC is new and has a really top-notch radio room with plenty of capability. Gary, KA3FZO, who is a TARC member, has just accepted the Jefferson EC slot, as Roberta, K4HRM, will be moving to North Carolina in a few months.
That leads me to some more bad news…we have another TARC family member who is leaving the area. In addition to Roberta, Robert, KB4RG, is also moving home…in this case to Texas. Robert is moving closer to his family, and as he’s an IT worker, he feels the job situations will be better there as he’d be closer to a lot larger cities.
It’s hard to see your friends leave, but times are tough and family has to come first. And I hope that both of you realize you’ll still be part of our family, here or not….
So, April is already pretty much booked for every Saturday. We’ve already mentioned that EMCOMM class plus the club meeting on the first Saturday of the month. The other three are equally busy.
April 10th and 11th are the dates for the Georgia QSO Party and we’ll be set up at the EOC to operate that event and get our new Field Day/Trailer antennas on the air and tested out. We’ll discuss when we want to set the antennas up at the meeting and get some schedules set up for operations on both days. This should be a pretty fun event because unlike Field Day, DX stations and county hunters will also be lurking and should guarantee some lively contacts.
Also, because of a technicality, we’ll have the EMCOMM 1 test at the Thomas County EOC at 2pm on the 11th. Apparently, the ARRL needs two weeks notification that the test is being given, and that slipped by. I’ll remind you again that if you want to study on your own and just take the test, that’s perfectly ok…BUT…you have to let the Instructor know so they will have the correct number of tests, so you need to speak up now!
April 17th is the return of the TOSRV Bike ride which starts in Quincy, and goes to Albany on Saturday and return via a slightly different route on Sunday. We’re discussing deploying the trailer to Sale City which is the end point of our part of the race on Sunday, but we’ll still need stations to fill out the route between there and Cairo, which is where our responsibility begins. Wynona will be signing folks up, or you can let me know as well. This is a fun event and will let you know just how well your stuff actually works, so you new Ops will want to help here too if possible.
Finally, Saturday, April 24th, is the 3rd annual Radio Reunion, which will be held at 1pm at First Newark Baptist Church. If you and your family are coming, I need to know by Monday, April 19th, so we can get the chickens ordered, plus I need to know what your side dish will be.
The invitations have gone out to the other clubs, with the reminder that this is also Rose Festival weekend, so they can bring their family and “smell the roses” before joining us for fellowship and lunch afterwards.
Remember that the principal idea this event revolves around is that it’s a family oriented and no radios, with the exception of the talk in station (in this case the Comm Trailer) are allowed. We want our family members to attend without worrying about any of us looking down endless rows of gear as normally occurs at a hamfest.
So, once again, we have a LOT on the plate for this month, and I hope you’ll start it out right by joining us at the Plaza on April 3rd and helping us plan this stuff out. Plan to arrive at 6pm if you’re ordering supper, and the meeting will start at 7:30. Bring your family along too. I look forward to seeing everyone there!
73 de Mike
The TARC Test Team had another good session on March 20th with three people leaving with CSCEs in their pocket. They were:
Micah Witt, KJ4AZW – new General (Tallahassee)
Dennis Day – new Tech (Tifton)
Walter Payne – new Tech (Perry)
Congratulations to these three fellows for their accomplishments!
The next test session will be one week earlier than usual and will be at the EOC on Remington Avenue. We’re moving it due to conflicts with the TOSRV Bike Ride and as the second Saturday is also taken, this seemed to be the easiest alternative rather than cancel the session altogether. So the new date will be April 10th, and we’ll set the time at high noon, 12pm. That gives anyone testing the chance to operate the QSO Party station afterwards and help us get a few more contacts. And again, the EMCOMM 1 test will be given on that Sunday, April 11th also at our EOC at 2pm.
NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW
Shortened Vertical Antenna
A good DX antenna for the 75-80 meter band is the 1/4 wave vertical. However, a 1/4 wavelength antenna for 3.8 MHz is about 65 ft tall - something that not everyone has the ability to construct. Is it possible to use a shorter antenna and get it to resonate? The answer is yes - using various loading techniques.
Although a coil can be inserted in the shortened vertical (either at the bottom or near the center) to achieve resonance, a more efficient method uses a wire "T" as a capacitance hat. The general rule of thumb is to use a "T" wire that is twice as long as the portion of the antenna that is missing (to make it a 1/4 wavelength antenna).
For example, suppose that you have a support that is tall enough to support a 43 ft vertical antenna. This is 22 ft short of the 65 ft needed to resonate at 3.8 MHz, so adding 44 ft of wire to the top of the vertical and spreading the top wires out horizontally (or sloping downwards) should make this antenna work very well. It will take slightly longer top wires to get resonance if the top wires are installed in a sloping configuration.
Since the bandwidth of the 75-80 meter band is quite wide, it is often necessary to add a base mounted coil to allow the vertical to be used down on the CW portion of the band, if you have designed it to operate in the SSB DX window (3.795 to 3.8 MHz).
Part of the secret to making a vertical work is in the radials. 4 ground-mounted 1/4 wavelength radials (for each band) are the minimum that I would consider using. However, if you raise the vertical up off the ground, you can get by with just 1 radial per band.
That is the approach that I have taken with my 4-square (4 full-sized 65 ft verticals) with the bottoms at 15 ft above the ground. I do not as yet have this antenna completed - I will probably try to have it ready for next winter as this is when 75m DX is the best.
Stay tuned as I will try to do a follow-up report on the 4-Square once it is operational. W4USA runs a 4-Square on 75-meters and he says he can hear and work stations on it that he can not hear at all on his Carolina Windom.
73 es CU On the Bands
EmComm Notebook, April 2010
By Robert Grabowski, KB4RG
ARES-ADEC Southwest District
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Whether you are logging contacts or compiling notes for an after action report, it is always good practice to use an accurate source for time.
With the advent of GPS receivers embedded in radios and phones, I thought I had the perfect source for accurate time. What could be more accurate than a whole constellation of orbiting satellites each with three to five atomic clocks on board whose ability to precisely provide speed and position information is dependent on coordinated time? Then I tried to correlate the GPS time with WWV time. The GPS receiver time in my Droid phone was always 14 seconds ahead but the GPS receiver in my Yaesu VX8R exactly matched. Then I tried to correlate the time with my four digital clocks that are designed to reset with WWV every night. None of them agreed. Then I tried to correlate the time with my computer, which gets its time from tier one Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers every day. It matched WWV within a few milliseconds.
With a little research, I can now explain these discrepancies.
1. WWV broadcasts National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) time and intervals on frequencies available on most HF and shortwave receivers. At least one of the broadcast frequencies can be heard at any time of day on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, or 20 MHz. Even HTs with wideband receive capability can tune these frequencies. This reference is available to radio operators and represents the official standard time within the United States. Since radio signals travel at the speed of light, the time difference from the signal source in Colorado to your location is very short. An excellent web site for further study is: http://tf.nist.gov/stations/wwv.html
2. Radio controlled clocks should reset every night when propagation is best for the WWV signals. Depending on the quality of the clock antenna or the location of the clock, it may or may not reset every day. If it does not reset for several days it can accumulate compounded errors. Most radio-controlled clocks have an indicator showing if they were successful with the synchronization. If you don't see that indicator, don't rely on the clock for exact time information.
3. Computer based time reference can also be very accurate if you account for network latency. NIST time is available at http://www.time.gov/
The US Navy also has a vested interest in accurate time and they offer a variety of computer clocks at: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/frontpage.html
4. The U.S. Naval Observatory also provided the answer to the question of time differences in GPS receivers. To learn more about the incredible GPS system, start on this page: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/time/gps . The presentation on the cesium beam clock is pretty interesting also. A very simplified explanation of GPS time follows. The GPS time is represented as a Composite Clock that began life in January 6, 1980. Time is adjusted from UTC for leap seconds and navigation messages. All the information for the corrections is in the data stream, but not all GPS receivers handle all the corrections. Two GPS receiver applications in the Droid phone did not account for the corrections, but the GPS in the Yaesu VX8R processed them correctly. The exact amount of time adjustment from UTC is always available on the USNO web site.
Now when someone asks you what time it is, you can tell him or her with confidence using the information above. You don't even need to maintain your own personal cesium beam clock and that will save you several million dollars that you can now spend on radios and antennas.
Hopefully this newsletter will be getting to everyone about the same time we have our first 80degree temperatures since November of 2009. I feel sure the warm weather will be welcomed by everyone with a smile as we enjoy all the beautiful colors of spring! This winter weather season has certainly been much longer, colder and wetter than normal not to mention our severe weather season has been virtually non-existent to this point.
You may recall from the November 2009 Weather Center that April is our peak month for the number of tornadoes that have occurred in a given month in the Southwest Georgia area since 1910. With the first quarter of the year behind us and very few events in our area, the natural question would be what type of weather we should expect in April of 2010? Although there is no way we can rule out severe weather in Southwest Georgia the fact that we are in an El Nino year and the self waters of the Gulf continue to have temperatures much below average we should expect a below average month if history is our guide. This certainly doesn’t mean that we can lower our level of awareness since we will see temperatures and dew points continue to increase between frontal passages allowing conditions to become better suited for strong to severe storms to develop with each frontal passage.
El Nino years historically have resulted in more southerly storm tracks that create a higher level of severe weather across the Florida peninsula during the winter and early spring months. The year 2010 has remained true to this pattern with Central and South Florida experiencing a greater amount of severe weather in the Deep South so far this year.
Last but not least, I want to thank everyone that helped to make our first Advanced Spotter Course a success. Everyone that brought food to the pre-class feast of chili dogs and especially John KE4RWR for arranging the use of the Archbold training facility that provided a superior environment for the class and the equipment that worked perfectly for presenting the course. We had a brief but good discussion about the SKYWARNTM program in Southwest Georgia and I hope we will continue to see growth in the program over the coming year.
DEC NWS Tallahassee, FL
Southwest Georgia District ARES
Mike, KE4FGF, called the meeting to order at 7:32 and after welcoming everyone made the following announcements; the Midmonth Breakfast will take place on March 20 with a test session to follow at the Thomas County Public Library at 10am. At the conclusion of the test session, we will move to either the EOC or the Sunset Fire Station for an “Antenna Party” to build the antennas for Field Day, and those antennas will also become the deployment antennas for the Communications Trailer.
Bobby, N4KXL, was also welcomed back after a long absence due to health issues and van problems.
The Minutes and Treasurer’s Reports were approved as presented. Bobby also passed a sheet around with his current list of who has paid their 2010 dues to insure its accuracy, plus he encouraged everyone present who hasn’t paid their dues to please do so.
In Old Business, Mike stated that the 147.24 Repeater was now operational and that the tones were not active, to give everyone a chance to get the new frequency in their radio, and also to allow those with radios with no tone board a chance to use it. If the repeater works well enough the PL tone will only be activated when needed.
An EmComm Level 1 Class will be taught at the Jefferson County EOC on March 13, 27, and April 3 with a test following the April 3rd session. While it is not necessary to take the class before taking the test, the instructor will need to know you want to take the test so there will be enough copies at the test session.
The Georgia QSO Party will take place at the Thomas County EOC on April 10th and 11th and everyone is encouraged to help run the stations. Mike and Lowell will have rigs available and we will use the antennas that will be built at the Antenna Party to test their effectiveness before Field Day. That gives us a chance to address any problems early, and ensure that our Field Day Operation works to perfection.
Buddy reported that he is compiling information on the Trailer A/C replacement and asked Mike to get him the measurements of the access hole where the present unit mounts on the trailer.
In New Business, Mike indicated that the invitations for the 2010 Radio Reunion, to be held on April 24th at the First Newark Social Hall, have gone out to the other clubs in our area. He asked that all club members be proactive in inviting people to this event, but to be sure they let us know how many are coming so we have enough BBQ chicken. Buddy indicated he was working on having enough smokers available but would need to know by April 19th what the actual head count would be for the order.
Mike also indicated the invitation was on our website and several people mentioned how happy they were with how the website looks now. Lowell asked for any good pictures from anyone and also discussed a club member list with email addresses that he wished to add.
Dan, KF4WF, is also working on pictures for club ID cards and everyone was encouraged to see him after the meeting if he has not made a picture of you.
Stewart gave a report on two Skywarn Classes to be held later this month. The first is on March 9 at 7pm and is the Basic Class. This will be an “at home webinar” rather than a classroom setting, and you will need Internet capability and another phone line for the audio portion. The second class will be in the Archbold Training room on March 23 at 7pm and is the Skywarn Advanced Curriculum. We will meet at 6pm for a potluck supper in the classroom. If you can’t make it to the class, as this is also a webinar version, you can take the class at home. Everyone interested needs to sign up on line, whether you’ll be in the class at Archbold or not, so the National Weather Service can have an accurate count of students, add you to their list of potential spotters, and to have an email address to send information regarding the test to follow.
As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm with 37 members and no visitors present.
An Open Invitation to the Radio Reunion!
TARC will be hosting the 3rd Annual Radio Reunion on Saturday, April 24th, at 1pm.
For those who aren’t familiar with this event, the Radio Reunion started in 2008 as an event to get several local clubs together for an afternoon of fellowship, which includes our families.
One of our former members, Sandy Donahue, W4RU (SK) dubbed it “Just like a Hamfest….with chicken!” There is one further deviation from a Ham-Fest…with the exception of a talk-in station, there are NO radios…that’s right none!
As we want this to be a “family friendly” event, we leave the radios at home so the non-ham members will also want to attend. And that idea has been very successful as the attendance has been over 100 hams and their families for the first two years.
In addition, we’ve timed the event this year to coincide with Thomasville’s 89th Annual Rose Festival, so you can bring the family to see the various Rose Festival events and join us for lunch and fellowship afterwards.
The club handles the main dish, which is BBQ chicken and we ask that you bring a covered dish to fill out the table. A jar for donations will be available if you want to contribute to help offset the cost, but it’s strictly voluntary.
The important part is that we need to know beforehand if you’re coming and how many are coming with you. We don’t want to risk anyone going home hungry, plus we don’t want to buy so much that we’ll all be eating chicken for several weeks afterwards.
The deadline for that is April 16th, which gives us a week to place an order for the chickens.
Please email that information the club email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, we need to know what your side dish is so we don’t run the risk of having BBQ chicken and a LOT of chocolate cake.
Because of high attendance, the facility we used the first year got a little bit close, so we are moving to First Newark Baptist Church, which is located east of Thomasville on US 84, about 2 miles east of the last location. The physical address is 225 Russell Road. And again, the time will be 1pm.
So mark your calendars for April 24th, and plan on bringing your family to the premier ham radio event in this area…the Annual Radio Reunion…\
We all hope to see you there!
The following column is from Emil, WA4FYA, who is the new EC for Echols County. He’s trying to get his effort underway in a county where there are virtually no hams. If you’re close by and want to help support his efforts, check in with them on their nets. I know he’d appreciate it…..read on…..Mike
The Echols County Newsletter
The Echols County Newsletter covers ARES and Amateur Radio Club news for Echols County. This is the first edition.
Emil Borchert, WA4FYA, met with the county commissioners on March 9, 2010, to request a space to have ARES and Club meetings. The board approved the use of the Fire House one day a week for meetings. Space is also being provided for the installation of radio equipment in the Fire House. Mr. Canty will be working with Emil to coordinate the dates and times of meetings.
Susan Borchert, KD4TWC, met with the Principal, Mr. David Rosser, to see if there is an interest at the middle and high school level for an amateur radio club. Assistant Principal, Mr. Gross and Susan will set up a time during the after school enrichment program to present two half hour demonstrations with Ham Radio. We need to coordinate the times with potential ARRL representatives to help with the presentation.
There is an interest in Amateur Radio and Amateur Radio Emergency Services in Echols County, and to that end, we will be having a QSO party –date and time to be determined.
We have had some donations of equipment; we still need more. Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated.
We are currently setting up a 2-meter repeater for Echols County but do need to find tuning cavities for the repeater. If anyone is willing to donate or know where these tuning cavities may be procured, please contact WA4FYA at 229.242.1663.
We would like to thank all the ARES representatives as well as Hams that are helping us in our infancy. We also want to thank all Hams for making our Tuesday night Echols/Lowndes ARES net a success! Meet you on the air on 147.135 Tuesday evenings at 8:00pm.
73’s WA4FYA and KD4TWC
The first time I remember meeting him, he was a late arrival to a club meeting in Moultrie. The Colquitt County Club had just changed its meeting place to a local restaurant, and because the restaurant had two locations in town, a number of other club members had also chosen the wrong location first that morning. He had a seat next to me and introduced himself as Robert, KJ4HII.
Robert got involved in Ham Radio because of a love of emergency communications, and rose quickly through the ranks to Extra class. As soon as that paperwork landed, he acquired the call we know him by now…KB4RG.
Being located in Moultrie, put him right in the middle of things, and he ended up as a member of three clubs, CCHRS (Moultrie), CPARC (Tifton), and TARC. His fifth wheel trailer was parked east of Moultrie and the site had no tall trees close by. This made wire antennas a bit of a problem, but the wide-open area guaranteed that no antenna would have any shadowing in the pattern.
He quickly put up a dual band vertical and used the push up pole mount as the center point for several different wire antenna designs. Coupled with the 100-watt output of his base station radio on 2 meters, there were very few repeaters in the SWGA District that he couldn’t access.
After signing up for ARES, Robert accepted the AEC position for Colquitt County and served in that capacity briefly before moving up to Assistant DEC for SWGA. He was also the primary net control for the Moultrie Net at that time, and in an effort to get some more participation, suggested that they make it an ARES net. The club members, who aren’t ARES members for the most part, wanted to keep their net informal, so Robert decided to start another net, this one on simplex, to see just how well we could all communicate across the area.
The first night out was a Wednesday, and as feared, because a lot of folks were involved with church activities, Robert decided to move to Thursday night and use our Thursday net as a springboard for participation in his.
The numbers immediately improved and have continued to grow. Routes across the district are being identified and much good has come of it. He also has come up with some interesting other tests to see if we’re all as “up to speed” as we tend to think we are.
His major victory thus far has been getting the hospital in Moultrie involved, and during the SET last year, he and Kenny, K4BEE (EC-Colquitt) set up an impressive station in front of the hospital and handed FRS radios to the ER Nurses station to get them involved with our plane crash scenario.
He also volunteered and did a great job as a statewide Net Control for several of the GAARES nets that ran that weekend.
Back in December, he headed back home to Aberdeen for Christmas and got caught in that monumental snowstorm that brought Texas to a virtual standstill. I got an email in the midst of that and after telling me he was stranded, he wanted to know if John was going to set up the Echolink system so he could check in with us on the Christmas Eve Net.
As the net was running, I kept listening to see if he’d come up, and as it drew to a close, shortly before 10pm, I decided to keep my seat and see if “Santa” would finally break through.
Sure enough, about 10:05, he got connected in and we had a nice chat. Because of the snowstorm, he was running on emergency power, and was worried how long he’d be there as the roads that weren’t impassable, were still extremely dangerous.
The weather finally calmed enough to allow him to return, and though he was happy to be back, I noted a slight change in his demeanor. I figured that his family visit may have “kindled a fire” to be a bit closer by. Georgia to Texas is a long distance to cover for a weekend with your family when you want to “reconnect and recharge.” I thought then that he might be considering a move, and as we know now, that was the case.
He’s made some tremendous contributions to the way we do things, particularly in the ARES arena, and his efforts at uniting the district will really be missed. So will his support of what our club works to accomplish…he’s always been a true ambassador of “all things TARC” with the other groups he plays a part in.
Most sorely missed will be his warm friendship, and his willingness to work for the common good of all of us. Our loss will be Texas’s gain. He’s already mentioned he may well join the Skywarn group called the “Cloud Cowboys,” whose manuals we’ve been reading.
So Robert, please know that we’ll miss you from our midst, but we wish you Godspeed and know that you’ll do great things once you get settled in again.
Your Fellow Members