The February 2010 Reflector

 

 

Hi Folks,

I hope everyone stayed warm and well despite the bone chilling cold that was January 2010. It was so cold on several mornings, I thought I saw my radio transmissions leave the antenna, freeze in mid air and fall to the ground! Seriously, when you turn a radio on in the shack, and the display is dim for a few minutes as things warm up…you know for sure…IT’S COLD OUT THERE!!!

 

It’s been a busy month and we have a lot of stuff happening. First, I’d like to address a worry some of you were quietly expressing at the January meeting, and that’s what we’re doing for Field Day. I think there is a fear that rather than being a fun event, we’re going to make it a full blown contest, and the event you’ve enjoyed over the years will go out the window…so let me state right now…That’s NOT the case!

 

Last year, the voice stations hit a major brick wall where they were hearing signals, but not being heard. While it’s convenient to blame conditions, with Terry breezing through the event with 915 contacts, the answer was really staring us in the face. It was the set-ups, not the conditions. Terry’s big loop was making the difference.

 

In particular, I watched Zach and Colby sit there all night long, calling until they were blue in the face, and getting very few stations to answer them.

 

I think we will all agree…that’s no fun!!

 

So, this year, we’re re-thinking ALL the set-ups with the aim of having the other stations hunting US because of big signals. If someone sits down and says “CQ Field Day,” they’ll receive an answer in short (read immediate) order. Older more dedicated operators may sit for a while with no answers, but new operators, particularly the kids, bore quickly if their calls go unanswered. We simply want to eliminate that and enjoy making a few contacts…and if we have a really high score as a result…so be it.

 

Wally arranged for us to have an opportunity to speak to a local Boy Scout troop this month and while I was gearing up to do it, I told Zach and Colby about it and Zach said, “I’m coming along too.” As you know, these two are heading up a new youth group, which they have named “SWGA Youth ARES.” Colby also wanted to be there, but had a prior commitment.

 

We ended up with about 25 scouts and parents there, and I let Zach lead off, and as it turned out, he handled the whole show, with brief comments from me. And though I already knew he did a great job, what I heard the next day proved I wasn’t the only one. The result of his presentation: 10 requests for Tech Study Manuals with the indication that several would be father-son teams studying together and all of them are intending to participate in the classes to be held later this month. We couldn’t have asked for better.

 

Wally indicates that they’d like us to do a similar demo for their Cub Scout troop. We’ve wanted more youth participation for a long time and it looks like we may be poised on the brink of that. It’ll take a group effort, and several people have already indicated interest in helping with the classes. Dewey, Lowell, and Zach have filed the paperwork and as a result, we now have five ARRL Certified Instructors.

 

The GOTA station may well be full of young operators this time…we’re all working towards making that a reality.

 

The meeting will be on Saturday February 6th at the Plaza Restaurant in downtown Thomasville. Plan on arriving at 6pm if you want to have supper, and the meeting will start at 7:30.

 

I hope to see YOU and your family there!!

                                                        73 de Mike

 

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           A+ Test Results and February Classes

 

The January test session had one person in for an upgrade, and that was Bonnie Keen, KJ4NHW, who is one of our VEs. Bonnie came well prepared, getting 47 of 50 questions correct as is a new Extra class operator. Congratulations on your upgrade!!

 

We’ll be holding another Tech/General Class on February 20th and 27th. Study guides for either class are $20, and currently, I have none in stock. If you need a manual or have a friend who is going to take the Tech class who will need one, I need to know NOW so I can get them ordered. I’ll be teaching the Tech class and Ivan will handle the General, with Zach, Lowell, and Dewey taking part for the first time. We’ll also have some of our VEs standing ready to help if necessary.

 

The classes will be at the Archbold training rooms we used for the last classes. It’s a good location as the WX4AMH station is next door and allows the students to look and operate if they want.

 

Time will be 9am – 4pm (or later if necessary) and there will be a test session available after each session for anyone who feels ready to test after the first day.

 

So spread the word, and again, anyone needing a book needs to get with me now to be a part of the order.

                                                de KE4FGF

 

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                         Events for February 2010

 

February 6th – Club Meeting – 6pm

February 12th, 13th, 14th,  - Orlando “Hamcation”

February 18th - HF Weather Net – 7:30pm

February 18th  - VHF Weather Net (during regular Thursday Night Net)

February 20th  - Tech/General Classes, 1st session, 9am-4pm

February 27th – Tech/General Classes, 2nd session 9am-4pm

No regular Test Session or Breakfast, Test sessions follow each class session.

 

 

 

 

         A Note to the Field Day Station Captains

 

Buddy will be bringing the N3FJP CD software we will be using to log with to the February meeting.

 

Field Day Captains - please bring the laptop or other computer that you plan to use at Field Day to the meeting so you can download software and begin learning how to use it.  Buddy has the password keys to unlock the software - it is a different password for Field Day and GQP.

 

If you wish, this software can also be downloaded from the N3FJP website.

 

                                                  73, Terry, N0TW

 

 

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NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW

 

Lightweight MOXBEAM

 

I demonstrated a lightweight 10m MOXON beam at the December club meeting that was constructed using inexpensive plastic garden stakes, pvc tubing, and a plastic cutting board.  Walt, KI4TFL, estimated the weight for this antenna to be less than 5 pounds - making it an ideal antenna for portable operation.  And, the beam slips together in less than a minute!

 

Although the 10m MOXON that I demonstrated was constructed from materials that would not survive for a long time while exposed to the elements - it would be easy to make a more durable version using fiberglass spreaders.

 

For example, a 20-meter MOXON beam requires spreaders just over 13 ft in length.  MAX-GAIN Systems sells a fiberglass Quad spreader composed of 3/4" O.D. tubing and 1/2" solid rod for $13.50.  Using 4 of these adds up to only $54 and weighs just 11.2 pounds.  This 20m antenna has a turning radius of less than 13 ft and is easily handled by a small TV type rotor.  TARC will be using 20m and 15m versions of this antenna for Field Day.  Be sure to take a peek at them when you visit the EOC Field Day site. To demonstrate the flexibility of the MOXON beam, the 40m CW station will also be running a vertical version of this antenna.  Be sure to stop by the CW/Digital Trailer and hear what this antenna can do.

 

Allen, KG4JJH has written a very good article detailing construction of the MOXBEAM.  His article tabulates all the dimensions for construction of this terrific little beam.  His article includes a table showing dimensions for 6m through 20m MOXBEAMS including WARC bands.

 

http://kg4jjh.com/moxbeam.html

 

I am planning to use the 10m MOXON that I constructed when operating the 10-10 Mobile Contest on March 20 of 2010.  While driving, I will use a vertical antenna, but while parked on the side of the road I will use the MOXON mounted on a small mast.  The MOXON will greatly increase my signal strength - both on transmit and receive.

 

For all the Technician Class TARC club members, remember that you have 10m SSB privileges and that it does not take expensive equipment to operate on this band. A MOXBEAM and inexpensive Radio Shack HTX transceiver will get you going.

 

The other nice feature of the MOXON beam is that due to its lightweight, it can be supported from a tree limb and hand rotated with a line attached to the beam. 

 

CU On the Bands          73  Terry, N0TW

 

 

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                                                               Weather Center

 

Greetings,

           

The weather rollercoaster has been racing over the peaks and valleys in recent months. Tallahassee ended 2009 with the third wettest December on record only to start 2010 with 14 days of consecutive freezes, breaking the existing record that has persisted since February 1966.

 

 No one can tell us what the remainder of the winter season has in store but we can use history to give us some clues. We are in an El Nino year that typically results in a more active subtropical jet stream and an active storm engine across the southern half of the United States. Storm tracks will be further to the south increasing our rainfall and reducing our average temperatures.

 

In past El Nino years, this southerly track of the storms has also resulted in an increase in the number of severe storms in Central and South Florida. Closer to home, this weather pattern does not eliminate the severe weather threat but often results in a decrease of severe weather occurrences for a variety of reasons. One key reason is the fact that the warmer and more humid air that is needed to fuel severe storms remains over the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Speaking of severe weather, the National Weather Service recently made a change in the criteria for the size of hail required for severe storms increasing this from ¾ inches to 1 inch. It is important that we clarify that this is not a change in the size of hail that should be reported by us during a severe weather event but a change in the size of hail required to define a storm “severe”. We should report all hail over ½ inch in size and in most cases the National Weather Service would appreciate hearing of any incidence of hail in our area. 

 

 

73’s,

Stewart   KJ4GOJ

 

 

 

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Thomasville Amateur Radio Club

Minutes

January 9, 2010

 

Meeting started at 7:37 p.m.

40 Members, 4 Visitors

 

1.  Welcome and Announcements:  Mike – KE4FGF

 

A.  The next test session will be held at the Thomas County Public Library, 10:00 a.m. on January 16th.

 

B.  The next midmonth breakfast will be held at the Plaza restaurant on January 16th at 8:30 a.m.

 

C.  The state ARES conference will be held in Forsyth, Georgia, January 23. 

Mike asked who is planning to attend the meeting.  Participants may want to car pool.  The actual site has plenty of room and can seat 1,500 easy.  The morning meeting starts at 10:00 a.m. 

 

 

D.  The National Weather Service: Weather-Fest, will be held in Tallahassee, January 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Love Building on the FSU campus. 

 

Stewart, KJ4GOJ  – The Weather-Fest will be held at the Love building on the FSU campus.  There will be several items on display and tours given of the weather building.  It’s a great time to see how the National Weather Service is set-up and see what they do.  John, KE4RWR, added that it is a great time to go and see everything.  Stewart also added there are simulated drills going on that you can get involved with.  Look for the building with the observatory dome on top. 

 

E.  A D-STAR Training academy will be held in Tallahassee on February 6th. 

 

Farley, AE4KJ - The D-Star Training Seminar will be held at the Tallahassee Auto Museum on February 6.  It is located off highway 90E.  Farley mentioned that more details would come out in the next few weeks.  Mike added that several Icom representatives would be there along with products to see (not purchase).  If you are interested in D-STAR, this will be a great presentation to attend.

 

 

F.  The Orlando Hamfest is scheduled for February 13-14th.

Mike explained that this Hamfest is a good one to attend to purchase new equipment.  Several mentioned they were planning to attend. 

 

 

 

2.  Minutes and Treasurers Report: Mike – KE4FGF

Mike commented on the new website and the work Lowell, NY4D, has put into the project.  Several members applauded how great it looks  .The minutes are posted on the website.    Mike read the Treasurer’s Report.  No questions for the minutes or treasurers report.  Ray – KI4TFL, made a motion to accept the treasurer and minutes as read.  Motion passed. 

 

 

3.  Old Business: Mike – KE4FGF

 

A.  147.24 Repeater – minor problems but working.  Mike commented that Yaesu refused to work on the repeater since it was so old.  Billy Ley did the repair work for $102.  Adding the programming board cost $81 (still under $250).  Mike plans to look at the relay board since this could be causing it shut down.  Chip Coffin, WA4ISY, commented that if it is a mechanical relay board, use scotch tape to fix it. 

 

Mike also commented that the repeater puts out 18 watts.  There was further discussion on the power output of the repeater, which is located in Boston.

 

 

4.  New Business:  Mike – KE4FGF

 

A. Field Day Committee – Terry, N0TW

Terry and Lowell are both heading up this year’s Field Day event.  The plan this year is to run in Class 4F, which entails 6 actual stations. Those stations and their managers are:

1)      CW – Terry, N0TW

2)      HF Voice – Lowell, NY4D

3)      HF Voice – Mike, KE4FGF

4)      HF Digital – Robert, KB4RG

5)      GOTA – Dewey, KI4RGD

6)      VHF-UHF – Ivan, W4FWL 

 

They will check out the Thomasville EOC site and measure out where antennas will go.  The initial plan is to put up several loops.  Terry wants to have several training opportunities prior to Field Day – for example the Georgia QSO Party.  There are plans for an antenna building party before the training exercises.  Mike mentioned it would be helpful to build a few antennas we can put with the trailer.  We need to allocate monies for these projects.  Terry did not request a specific amount, but said we will need supplies in the next few months. 

 

A question was asked when the antenna party would be held.  Terry answered it will be mid-March or April when it warms up.  The GA QSO party is around Easer.  Paul, N7SDQ, said we need to let him know so he can sign-up the EOC for us. 

 

Gary KA3FZO, mentioned, that the group he worked with in south Florida went for a title and it got too complicated.  Terry agreed that we want to keep this in mind.  Mike commented that each station would have a manager to help new operators, and that the build-up we’re discussing is to make sure when a new operator makes a call; they will get a quick reply.  Buddy asked about the logging software.  Terry mentioned each station would have its own logging software.  Terry said the GOTA station would have hard copies (in addition to logging software) for the younger operators, to make sure we get the GOTA bonus points.  Lowell mentioned we would have segregated stations operating on specific bands since we had duplicates last year.  Buddy mentioned we should have the logging software in place before the training dates.  There was further discussion on the logging software. 

 

Robert said April 10 and 11 are the dates for the Georgia QSO party, Mike asked Paul to go ahead and reserve the EOC. 

 

 

B.  Radio Reunion – KE4FGF

We will again host the Radio Reunion this year.  Mike is asking some other clubs to help and/or invite them.  The Valdosta club has shut themselves down at the present time.  There was discussion concerning how many would show up if we invite these other clubs.  Buddy asked Mike to explain the history and purpose of the Radio Reunion.  Mike explained that the event is meant for families (since radios are not allowed.).  It’s a “meet and greet” event.  Farley commented that it was nice to see ARRL officials show up at the last one.  Mike is looking for a date – possible in April. Bill, KD4WQR, asked where we would host it.  Mike mentioned that we were looking at First Newark Baptist Church as it has a gymnasium with a kitchen. 

 

 

C.  Tech/General Class – KE4FGF

Mike said we would have classes for both Tech and General licensing at Archbold Hospital on February 20 & 27.  He has books available for both Tech and General – see him.  Also, the Tech Question Pool will change as of July 1, 2010, and questions about schematic drawings will be re-introduced. 

 

 

Other New Business:

 

 

 

 

 

Mike made a motion to adjourn.  Motion was passed. 

Meeting adjourned at 8:18 p.m.

Next Regular Club Meeting will be held February 6, 2010

 

Respectfully Submitted by

Dewey Rykard II, KI4RGD

Club Secretary

 

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New Communications Antennas at the Madison County EOC

1-19-10    By Patrick Lightcap   

On a sunny and warm January afternoon members of Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) gathered at the new Madison County Emergency Operations Center to install radio antennas.  The County
moved the antennas from the old site at the County Jail and the Ham Operators agreed to install the antennas and run the feed-line to the radio equipment in the Communications Room.

 

Patrick Lightcap, K4NRD, EC for Madison County ARES said, “We now have VHF radios covering the area from Tallahassee to Lake City and HF radio covering the world operational from our local EOC.”

 

ARES is made up of volunteer licensed Amateur Radio operators who give of their time, expertise and equipment to provide emergency communications whenever needed.  Ham operators in the U.S. have
been maintaining contact with radio operators in Haiti since the earthquake hit a week ago today.

The  set  up crew, left to right were: Gina McCulley W4GNA, Willard Keen KI4IFD, Rich Sweitzer KJ4AOU, Joe Kelman KI4TRR, Jr Odom KC4VPJ, Jim Anderson W4FAO, John Cuppett KD4EKS, Mike Brock KF4NG. Gina and Willard are TARC members

 

 

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                                  Forever Members…

 

The sign beside the road said Thomas County, and for the couple in the truck, pulling a trailer behind, Thomasville looked like a good place to stop for a while.

 

Ray and Bobbie Phillips had spent a good while on the road after retiring; Ray, from the Post Office, and Bobbie, from a position as a legal secretary. Travel was something both loved, and when the final gun sounded, they left their house behind for a truck, a fifth wheel trailer, and the open road.

 

After a while, the adventure of it all began to dim, and Ray and Bobbie began thinking it might be time to once again put down some roots and spend their “golden years” in a home without wheels.

 

Visiting the local amateur radio club in Thomasville, they found a lot of new friends, and shortly thereafter a nice comfortably small house in the Lake Riverside community. Ray, in particular, was happy to leave the road, as his health, in particular his heart, was giving him some problems.

 

Before leaving on their “road trip” he and Bobbie had lived in the Albany area, and Bobbie had done so well in her profession that she was named “Legal Secretary of the Year” for 1978, and in 1989 received the “Support Staff Award” from the Dougherty County Circuit Bar Association.

 

As their daughters lived in Albany and Havana, Thomasville was a good midpoint for visits from the grandkids, so they happily settled into the house out at the river.

 

Ray and Bobbie spent a lot of time with their TARC friends; at least when Ray felt up to it. They became members of the First Baptist Church...life was good…

 

Then a shot out of the blue, at a routine doctors appointment, Bobbie received a stunning diagnosis; she had early onset Alzheimer’s.

 

As Ray was already having a lot of medical problems, he deemed the best idea was to buy another travel trailer, and move in next to their daughter who lived in an RV park on the south side of Albany. That way, if either he or Bobbie needed help quick, it was readily at hand.

 

I stopped by their house a few days before they headed out and it was evident as we talked that this was a move he didn’t want to make…he had figured this would be where they’d stay for good. A good number of us got together with he and Bobbie the day before they left at the Homecoming Restaurant, and I presented them with one of our “Golden Mic” awards, that said simply “To Ray and Bobbie, Forever Members of our Radio Family.”

 

They spent a good while living there next to their daughter, but about 2 years ago, found out about an assisted living facility in Plains, which was run by a lady from Americus, that they already knew (she was a ham too).

 

The apartment, though small, was nice and the lunchroom was a quick walk, which meant they didn’t have to worry about groceries or cooking. It was the ideal situation and they decided to make the move.

 

On moving day, as Ray was helping get their bed in to the bedroom, he was knocked to the floor and suffered a debilitating back injury that left him unable to lie flat on the bed. To this day, he’s forced to sleep sitting up in his recliner.

 

Bobbie’s condition continued to worsen. We visited them last summer and found them watching TV. Ray talked about all they’d been through, and Bobbie sat there quietly, until the phone rang, which upset her considerably when Ray said it was a wrong number.

 

I talked to Ray on the phone a few weeks later after receiving an email that said he was going to have to put her in another home in Americus that specialized in Alzheimer’s patients. Apparently she woke up one night, and Ray heard her trying to get out of the apartment. He stopped her, and she told him she had to get home “before my parents come looking for me.”

 

If not for the fact he was asleep in his recliner, which is close to the door, she’d have left the apartment. Ray told me then that if she’d gotten out, he’d have never been able to catch her.

 

At about this same time, the doctor discovered she also had cancer, and they began treatment for that as well. As her condition worsened, Ray had to move her one more time, to another facility that could deal with both problems.

 

Ray visited her daily and kept me up on what was going on as he had time. Sometimes she recognized him, sometimes not. She lost the fight on Nov. 20th.

 

I made the trip to see Ray at the viewing in Sylvester, and he seemed to be handling it   better than I’d expected, and there was a large crowd of family and friends.

 

Four of us returned the next day for the funeral. The minister told us that her final wishes were for a closed casket and a brief service with no music or singers. She simply wanted her friends to get on with their life, and not waste a lot of time at a funeral.

 

I went on to the cemetery and was surprised to see some other people I knew from Thomasville but didn’t realize they were part of Bobbie’s family. Ray again seemed to be handling things OK, but told me “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that it’s finally over.”

          

We’ve all kept an eye on Ray and Bobbie, as we were all close friends when they were with us, and miles do not dim friendship. And there is a plan afoot now to have supper with Ray in Albany in the near future, as his back doesn’t let him travel very far easily.

 

Ray, know that we share your pain over Bobbie’s passing, and we look forward to the time we get to see you again…you’re “forever a member of the family” too…

 

                                    In Love and Sympathy

                                     Your “Radio Family”

 

 

 

 

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