The Reflector December 2010
The year is winding down, and it’s finally time to take a breather. What a ride 2010 has been! Hopefully, December will be a time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of what we’ve done so far, and let everyone throttle back a bit.
The first Saturday of November found Wynona, Bobby, Lawrence, Steve, and Wally setting up Thomasville’s new Veteran’s Day Parade. I haven’t seen any pictures, but it sounds like the parade got good participation, despite some rather cold temperatures.
Ken, W4MWW, was spotted on the route in a military jeep in a leather jacket that I understand wasn’t nearly thick enough, but he enjoyed the ride nevertheless. Because of the short notice, we didn’t have time to get a float together for our Vets, but since the parade was well received (meaning they will do it again), we can try again for next year.
A number of other members braved colder temperatures for the Lawrenceville Hamfest that same weekend. Several drove through icy drizzle and sleet, and temperatures on Saturday morning were in the upper 20’s.
I had to run the state ARES Forum, and that went pretty well, and afterwards I was pretty much camped out at the ARRL booth. Several of our folks took home new Chinese “Wouxan” HTs, which were “selling like hotcakes” for $107. They really have a lot of interesting features, and even if you buy every optional accessory they have, you still have less than $200 invested.
The next weekend found 90+ folks in Pavo for the annual fish fry. Supper started later than anticipated, but the spread was impressive. We added fried green tomatoes this year and none survived the supper. The dessert table was also as impressive as ever.
We owe thanks to all the kitchen magicians who did their magic at home with the numerous side dishes, and to Wynona, Paul, Bobby, John, Colby, Mark, and others who did the majority of the cooking outside.
Following supper, we quickly dispatched the business of the monthly meeting, and there were only two things on the agenda, 2011 Officer Elections, and the Golden Mic Awards. I’ll forego the Officer elections as they’re handled in a separate article.
We have 3 people being honored with awards this year, and I was able to present two of them at the meeting. Lawrence, KC4LYC, was named “Military Vet of the Year” for his service in the Korean War. Tommy James, KJ4SWI was named “Young Ham of the Year” for his exemplary performance at Field Day.
That means there is one award left…Ham of the Year. That person was not at the Fish Fry, so the award will be presented at a regular meeting.
I’m working on the Christmas Supper, and right now, the date is forming up to be December 11th, pending on the availability of Famous Dave’s. I’ll have more info on this at the December meeting.
We also have 2 additional nets this month…Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. I moved the time back to 9pm to allow for the arrival of children and grandchildren in time to be with us. We’ll continue that this year. Any other family members wanting to take part are also welcome as 3rd parties, so gather the whole family around the radio for some good cheer before going to bed to wait out Santa.
So, that’s it for this part of the newsletter. It stretched on a bit further than I intended, because the “Fireside Chat” occupies the back page and also takes a few pages. The meeting this month will take place at the Plaza on December 4th, with supper at 6pm and the meeting to follow at 7:30pm. We all really hope to see you and your family there!!
Merry Christmas and 73,
The TARC VE Team held a test session on November 20th and had one person show up to take a test.
Scott Kleinpeter, KJ4KUY, came over from Marianna to try for a General upgrade and left with a CSCE in hand. Congratulations Scott!!
The December test session will be by appointment only so we won’t tie up a VE Team during the holidays and risk having no one show up for a test. To make an appointment, simply contact Mike at email@example.com.
I do want to say a special thanks to the 32 VEs who make up TARC’s VE Team. It’s because of this dedicated group that we can offer test sessions every month, as well as additional sessions when we hold classes. Your support means more than you know!
John, KE4RWR, as Club Vice President is in charge of gathering a nominating committee and coming up with a slate of possible officers for the next calendar year.
John and his committee, made up of Paul Wittenborn, Lawrence McCuthin, and Steve Williams, presented the following slate of Officers for 2011 at the November meeting:
Vice-President: John Swicord, KE4RWR
Special Events VP: Wynona Sadler, KF4HSM
Newsletter Editor: Buddy Peeples, WD4CJI
Webmaster: Lowell Reiger, NY4D
There were no nominations from the floor and a motion was made to vote on the slate immediately, so these folks are your new officers for 2011.
50th Anniversary Net
Fifty years ago most voice (radiotelephone) amateur transmission was using Amplitude Modulation (AM). A small group of Georgia hams began to use a new mode of transmission called Single Sideband Suppressed Carrier, now called SSB, or Single Sideband.
On December 1, 1960, the Georgia Single Sideband Net started its first session with 27 amateurs checking in.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the net, we will call a special session this year on December 1st using the original roll call list. Several of the original members are still around, and we welcome them into the net. Many Silent Keys have passed but we will call them in honor and respect for their contribution to the net, and to amateur radio.
Please join us for this milestone in amateur radio by checking into the net during this special time in amateur radio.
The Georgia Single Sideband Net will be called into this special session at 6:00 P.M. (EST) on Wednesday, December 1, on the frequency of 3975 KHz.
Section Traffic Manager
Director, Georgia Single Sideband Association
NØ Tenna Wizard
Recycling Old Antennas
I have recently had the opportunity to recycle some old antennas, an activity that I love to do.
The first antenna is a freestanding 80-10 meter vertical - the Telex Hy-Gain
18-HT-S "Hy-Tower". A ham friend had it installed in his backyard and wanted to get it removed due to his losing interest in ham radio. The antenna showed signs of aging - rusted hardware and coax cable that had water penetration. But with some cleanup, this antenna will once again be ready to transmit and receive some RF. Is there anyone in the Thomasville Club who would like to work on this antenna and put it to use? Let me know via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
The second antenna is a real monster. It is a Telrex STB4 beam antenna that weighs 350 pounds. It has elements for 10, 15, 20 and 40 meters. The 40-meter elements are about 65 ft in length. I am planning to strip most of the elements off of it and use it as a 5 element 20m beam. A friend has a 5-element M2 beam and it is a really nice antenna. He regularly busts pileups with his big beam. How big is it? Well, the boom is about 44 ft long and 3" in diameter.
I was able to purchase this large beam antenna for about 10% of its new price - if it were even still manufactured.
What I would like to do with this month's column is to encourage you to look around for old antennas that can be repaired and placed back into service. Old aluminum works just as good as new shiny aluminum if care is given to clean up the joints and replace rusted parts. For example, if you can find an old CB beam antenna, it works fine on 10 meters if the element lengths are adjusted. I can help you with determining what lengths they should be if you need help with this calculation. Just because an antenna has a broken or bent element does not mean that it cannot be repaired. Aluminum splices nicely, and the RF does not care if it flows through a spliced joint.
Hope you decide to recycle some aluminum. It's a real joy to be able to pick 'em out of the noise with a good beam antenna.
73 & CU on the Air!
Don’t forget that December has two additional nets and for 2010, they occur on December 24th and December 31st on the 145.17 MHz. Repeater.
The Christmas Eve Net will start at 9pm, and that’s to allow additional time for everyone to make it home from parties, or for the grandkids to make it in. Third party check-ins, particularly kids are encouraged, and on at least one occasion in the past, a grandma wanted a few minutes on the radio too.
W4ZDP and kids a few years ago
The New Year’s Eve Net will also occur at 9pm, and is simply to allow us to get a few final words and thoughts in before ringing in the New Year.
The regular Thursday Nets on December 23rd and 30th will run as usual.
These two nets are a lot of fun, so please make plans to join us if you can!
A Brief History of Storm Spotting
December 4th is SKYWARNTM Recognition Day, an event first established in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. The purpose is to acknowledge the contributions that volunteer SKYWARNTM radio operators make to the National Weather Service (NWS). During the day SKYWARNTM operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the country.
So when did storm spotters first venture out into harms way in order to support the NWS with real time weather reports? What was the motivation behind creating a group like this?
We have to go back to 1942 and 1943 during World War II to find records of the first organized spotter groups. The Weather Bureau in cooperation with the military set up volunteer storm spotter networks across the country at locations it deemed to be important. Initially the primary concern was lightning near military ordnance plants, but during the war the program grew to include other weather hazards including tornadoes. Tornadoes had a significant impact on war production plants in 1942 and this could be the reason for expanding the role of the spotters.
The first tornado forecast was issued by the United States Air Force in March 1948 by forecasters Fawbush and Miller. In 1952 the Weather Bureau launched its own severe storm forecasting service and created the Severe Local Storms Forecasting Unit paving the way to alert and deploy spotters in advance of threatening weather situations. By the mid-1950 spotters had become well established and were on their way to becoming common place, especially in the tornado-prone portions of the United Sates where terrain and visibility allowed them to be used. On March 8, 1959, the Weather Bureau held the first training course in Wellington, Kansas for 225 severe weather spotters.
The Palm Sunday tornado outbreak in April 1965 was another major event that resulted in changes. Although the Weather Bureau forecasts were reasonably accurate for the event, they found that the dissemination of that information to the general public was less than adequate and the public was poorly prepared to use the information. That same year, the Natural Disaster Warning System (NADWARN) was established to coordinate the natural disaster-related emergency functions of various Federal agencies. A special, tornado-specific plan called SKYWARNTM was created, under the guidance of the United States Weather Bureau and the program that has grown to the network we have today was born.
In the 1970's the National weather Service recognized the ability of amateur operators to become their eyes in the field. So a program to recruit and train Amateurs in identification of severe weather was started. Before there was Doppler and NEXRAD radar, there were Amateurs radio operators in the field serving as first line of warning of severe weather to protect lives in their communities.
Over the last 45 years the program has continued to grow and today SKYWARNTM consists of a network of all-hazard weather spotters (not just tornadoes). NWS has over 235,000 trained all-hazard weather spotters in the SKYWARNTM program. These spotters work with the Warning Coordination Meteorologists (WCMs) at the 122 NWS offices throughout the United States.
A special thank you to all that participate in this important program!
DEC NWS Tallahassee, FL
Southwest Georgia District ARES
Amateur radiostations located in National Weather Service Forecast Offices across the country will work together with a common goal to make as many contacts as possible with other NWS stations and with amateur radio operators during the 24 hour exercise.
Radio stations will be operating on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 2 meters using phone operations. Some sites may utilize other modes such as PSK-31, RTTY, packet, and CW, IRLP and Echolink so be creative and use all modes available to you.
Remember to give a signal strength report, your location, and a brief 1 or 2 word weather report like sunny, cloudy, or heavy rain. This is not a contest but results will be posted so make as many contacts as you can.
Let's work together to make this day a success as we recognize those who work to be the eyes of the National Weather Service by providing all important ground truth reports during severe weather events
Good Evening Friends,
I started these columns a few years ago, after a club member likened my long term as President to Franklin Roosevelt’s time in office. His “fireside chats,” opened with the same comment I started this column with, were the original “Radio Addresses to the Nation” and that alone makes it appropriate, as we are a “Radio Family.”
2010 has been another banner year. I admit to being a little worried about that as 2009 had so many big accomplishments, that we’d be hard pressed to keep 2010 on similar footing…I needn’t have worried…
One of the biggest things we did for the year started early on, the addition of a new club website. Lowell, NY4D, makes his living handling websites, so we tapped his expertise to get ours going. Our first discussion was what to call it. We looked at using the club call, W4UCJ, but Lowell suggested that we’d get better traffic by using a different name, and just that quick, http://thomasvilleamateurradioclub.com was born.
Lowell thought using that name would guarantee more traffic on the site, and that has proven to be the case far past our wildest hopes.
We set some high goals; the most important of which was to keep the content as fresh as possible, and Lowell has made sure of that. In meetings elsewhere around the state, I’ve had numerous comments about what we had going, indicating they’d “read all about it” on the website. On one occasion, when being introduced at a meeting, a comment was made about our group’s great website. So, Lowell…take a bow…mission accomplished!
We got our upgrade classes started in February, and I’ve been really proud of how well those are working out. We are getting folks licensed, but more importantly, they are being exposed to the club at the same time, and that’s led to a number of new club members. For the most part, the new folks are surprised at how many additional people show up as “support personnel,” and by that, I don’t mean additional instructors.
Sure, we have folks who do make themselves available to the students for additional help, but there are also plenty of folks showing up to make sure the refreshment table is taken care of and that the new people are comfortable and relaxed during the classes. Afterwards, it’s not unusual to hear someone offering to be an “Elmer” to a student, regardless of whether they passed or not.
We also have a number of VEs show up to help with the test sessions that follow each class day, and we are all justifiably proud of this group. The TARC VE Team currently numbers 32 people, and that’s a larger group than a lot of clubs have as regular members outright. They represent a number of other communities other than Thomasville, and if we need to take a test session “on the road,” there are usually at least two VEs pre-placed where all that has to happen is for me to show up with the paperwork.
Two VEs, Alan, N4KGT, and Kerry, AI4CW are there at ALL the sessions, and indeed, Alan has offered to run the sessions following the classes so I could concentrate on teaching. You just don’t see dedication like this very often anymore.
This was also our year to host the Radio Reunion, and we chose to try another venue due to worries about having enough room.
Bobby’s church, First Newark Baptist, has a large social area (it’s a basketball court!) and we decided to use it for the festivities. They also have a great kitchen facility, which makes the event preparations easier on the crew.
The crowd featured visitors from the Albany ARC and several other clubs plus a few visitors who just wanted to know more about us. The food was plentiful and everyone had a great time.
We decided to add on the Georgia QSO Party as an event this year, and to use the EOC as the site so we could test some possible Field Day antennas while we were at it. Things really went well, with a number of people participating and a possible new “station captain” for Field Day emerging.
Until the QSO Party, Gina, W4GNA, had never really worked a contest before. Indeed, the first 30 minutes or so were a bit tentative until she got the hang of what she needed to be doing. Then the gates opened and we were off!
There were times where I simply couldn’t keep up with her on the logging program and had to use the times she stopped for a breather to catch up. One of those periods was the infamous “88 QSO” where a slightly amorous Italian wanted to make sure she knew he enjoyed the contact…so much in fact that he had several friends help add to her numbers.
We ended up in 66th place (if I counted right) which was not bad, and to be honest, we didn’t set out to blow anyone away…just wanted to get our Ops some experience with contesting, and I look forward to doing this event again in 2011. It did set the stage for the next event…Field Day 2010.
Field Days are always fun because they uncover problems you either don’t think about, or haven’t thought out as well as you believed you had. But that’s the real point…finding out the places you need to work on. And this year, blazing hot temperatures added to the “degree of difficulty.”
Thankfully, “PEACH” was sporting a new A/C unit, and it really made the difference. In fact, the CW station in the front room had to shut the door on several occasions to warm back up!
Antenna problems are usually foremost at any FD location, and that’s because the rules stipulate the size of the area you have to operate from, and it’s rather confined. In a real event, you’d also be operating from a size-restricted area, and this FD Rule forces the issue so you get practice solving those kinds of problems.
We did have a few, but there were also two stellar performers…the two Moxon beams and the antenna trailers we call PITS 1 & 2. Those two beams allowed for another bright spot…the two voice stations.
Because of her QSO Party performance, I’d asked Gina to take on Captain duties at the second voice station, and she took it one step further by making it a “Women’s GOTA” station. Throughout the 24 hours, there was an unofficial race between Voice 1 and Voice 2 and the end results were much higher SSB scores than in recent years.
In particular, Gina, Mary, KI4JOO, Theresa, KJ4NBG, and several others, kept the radio operational for most of the 24 hours. Also saw Thomas sneak over on a couple of occasions to team up with Theresa…husband-wife combos are unusual too.
The guys also did well, and two instances come to mind. The first was Wayne and Lowell working a “24-Alpha” station…that means 24 HF stations within a thousand feet of each other. Can you say “RF City?” And the other was Colby making a few last minute contacts on Sunday afternoon, saying, “CQ-Field Day, will someone PLEASE come back to me with a contact…CQ Field Day!”
Tommy, KJ4SWI, also turned in a great performance and was the only youth operator to get his GOTA contact sheet fully filled in. That’s one of the reasons he got TARC’s Youth Ham of the Year award for 2010.
The final result…W4UCJ was the #2 4F station in the nation, and number one was a scant 123 points away. Add to that the other lessons learned that weekend, and I feel sure that the 2011 score will erase that narrow margin.
July is typically a month of rest, but we got an exciting bit of news…the promised D-Star Repeater system for Pelham was finally ready for delivery, but there was one problem. The site wasn’t ready for the install, missing both antennas and the Internet access that makes D-Star do it’s magic.
A quick phone call with John resulted in the repeater getting a temporary home…Archbold Hospital. A new tri-band antenna was installed as a full stack repeater like this has radios on 2 meters, 70 centimeters and 1.2 Gigahertz. The next day, a crew from Atlanta showed up and by early afternoon, KJ4PYB was operational and part of the worldwide D-Star system.
A short time later, we made another move forward in the repeater area. For about a year, I had been in contact with Holly Thayer, K4FUR, about acquiring the 440 MHz. repeater owned by her late husband Jim, KS4JW, for our EOC. The estate paperwork had finally cleared and she let me know that it, and the 2-meter machine were both available.
I made a trip down to look them over and found that the two machines were interfaced together in the same rack. While not inseparable, it occurred to me that having another 2-meter repeater might not be a bad idea, particularly since being located at the EOC would have them both on emergency power.
We had a quick discussion among the officers, who were also likewise on board, and I dispatched an email to everyone asking for thoughts about the purchase. Everyone wanted to move forward, so we now have both machines operational from the EOC.
October brought several challenges as we again had events almost every weekend. October 9th found us at the airport doing a special event station for the local fly-in, and that event went pretty well. We were allowed to park the trailer on the tarmac inside the fence, so we had good access to everything. The airport officials were glad to have us back (we’d done this event several times in past years) and as I was pulling out on Sunday, one stopped me and asked that we do it again next year.
Saturday October 30th found us having a great tailgate breakfast courtesy of Wynona, and then deploying to cover the Boston Mini Marathon. At this same time, TARS was deploying to handle the Spaghetti 100, and did so using our “repeater system” for the most part.
The next weekend, Wynona and four others took part in a new event…a Veteran’s Parade in Thomasville. Despite the cold, I’m told this event went pretty well, and was easy to set up. Regrettably, I wasn’t there as my duties as Georgia SEC had me running the State ARES meeting at the Lawrenceville Hamfest.
The annual Fish Fry was the following weekend, and we had a large number of folks show up for it, though as everyone didn’t sign in, I can’t be sure exactly how many. Catfish, mullet, corn-on-the-cob, fried green tomatoes, and many other excellent side dishes were consumed in large quantities.
The best part though, is watching old friendships being rekindled, and new friendships forming as everyone walks around while waiting for the cooking to be finished.
A few years ago, I chose to do the annual “Golden Mic” awards at the fish fry because of the large crowd that always gathers. This year was no different. While the “Ham Of the Year” was missing in action, the other two recipients were there.
The Youth “HOTY” is always the most fun to present, and this year’s winner, Tommy, KJ4SWI, was really interesting to watch during the year. Tommy is very competitive and took it as a challenge to fill out that contact sheet for the GOTA station completely.
He also took the last General Class and told me before starting that he wanted to be a “$14 General,” building on a comment I’d made in the Tech class about us wanting to get them so well prepared that they would only spend $14 to get their new Tech license.
Needless to say, I was impressed by that comment, as were several folks who were in earshot. Thinking about it later, I now worry that Tommy may have inadvertently put a “monkey on his own back” because I think he’s a little fearful that now having said that, he’ll take the test, not pass it the first time, and we’ll all laugh at him.
Three words Tommy…”Not Gonna Happen!” We want to see you get that license and if it takes more than once, I promise it will not dim our high estimation of the ham and the man you’re growing up to be…after all, we’re all family here…right?
Picking a Military Vet to honor is also a task I look forward to. As I write a back page column on the person in question, it requires some additional reading on my part and focuses my attention on some aspects and theaters of war that I haven’t looked at closely before.
Honoring Lawrence, KC4LYC, for his service in the Korean War is a case in point. He’s the only Korean Vet that I know, and I haven’t read a lot on the subject. He also doesn’t talk a lot about his experiences so the chances of picking up any stories on him have been few and far between.
So, how do I go about getting the information without the recipient knowing why I’m asking? In a number of cases, I have someone else do the questioning, and either report back to me, or ask the questions when I’m in earshot. This time, I had Bobby make the phone call, with the excuse of getting background information on the folks to be honored on the “Vet’s Net” we were planning.
Bobby did get some good information but our efforts backfired a little bit, because Lawrence told a LOT more of his story on the Vet’s Net, which was too late for the already published column “The Forgotten War.”
He did seem to be surprised at getting the award, and I can’t think of a nicer or more deserving person…Congratulations and thanks for your service Lawrence!
The same “Vet’s Net” was also a new thing for us, and will become a yearly tradition for Veteran’s Day, and maybe Memorial Day as well. In addition to the Vets who checked in, I had asked for a list of those who were no longer with us, and it’s surprising how many different areas of Military history that our Vets represent and can talk about.
So, we’re down to the last few weeks of 2010, and I think we are all ready for a “long winter’s nap.” We’ve been pretty much full throttle all year long, and I know I can speak for everyone when I say we need a rest. I do want to talk about a few folks before I close here.
First, your club Vice President, John, is one of those people who quietly goes about getting the job done, without raising any attention their way. Running a club the size that TARC has become (including family members, that number is 145) isn’t an easy job, plus we are also the focal point for ARES operations in SWGA and John also handles the DEC duties. I really appreciate the fact that he has my back and is always available when needed. I’m glad you’re coming back for another year John.
Wynona has filled in many positions and is currently your Special Events VP. When everyone is looking forward to Fish Fries, Radio Reunions, and the like, Wynona is the one who sweats the details to make the event happen. I’m glad you’re on our side Wynona…
Dana is coming in as our new Secretary and took the job in the interim when Dewey left for his new job with the ARRL. She’s usually found over in Wynona’s corner helping her make the events happen. She also masterminded the slide show of “TARC- Past and Present” that runs at our larger events. She’s a lot of fun to work with and we’re already collaborating on stuff for 2011. She has some good ideas that will take us along some new…and fun paths…
Like Wynona, Bobby has held pretty much every TARC Officer position, including being President (though that was some time ago). He’s only the 2nd Treasurer the club has had, taking over after Billy Joe stepped aside after 48 years. He’s had an interesting year trying to get back on the road again, and I think he finally has smooth sailing ahead.
Buddy has also held a lot of the positions and has had some rough times this year. He’s faced several operations, and indeed one left him in the position of being “Coach” while John and Carolyn did the BBQ chickens for Field Day. Buddy has been Newsletter Editor for quite a few years now, and I don’t hesitate to say that his publication has a lot larger number of readers than we think…
Lowell’s position as Webmaster isn’t an elected position, but maybe it should be. He deserves a lot of kudos because his expertise in running our website has really put us on the map. He also spent a lot of time helping new Ops learn the ropes at Field Day and the GA-QSO Party, and they have all mentioned that they really appreciated the support.
And finally, there’s one more person to thank here, and that’s YOU. As a member of the TARC Radio Family, your contributions, your cheerful support, and your willingness to push this group forward is the reason our club is the stand-up organization that it is.
It’s a continued privilege to be asked to remain “up front” and lead what I believe is the finest group of people in the area, and I look forward to seeing where we will go in 2011.
As is custom, I will remind you that we do have some members of the group who can’t get around as well as they used to. Christmas is a good time for a visit, and the gift they wish for is a few minutes to see and be with YOU. So, plan that visit today…you won’t regret it.
I hope you and your family has a very Merry Christmas!!
See You At The Meeting Saturday Night