The January 2010 Reflector

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

I’m running a bit late with this, but it’s been a busy holiday season and since the meeting is a week late due to the New Year” weekend, I let this slide a bit.

 

We had great participation in the Christmas Eve Net with 40 people checking in to send holiday wishes. That number included a good number of kids and that’s always fun. The New Year’s Net had 27 present and accounted for, and that’s also a good number because there are a lot of folks either still out of town or at parties or “Watch Night” services.

 

I had several folks comment about what all the “Blue Moon” business was about during the net, so to answer any questions; the year normally has 12 full moons. But each “solar year” accumulates about 11 additional days as compared to a “lunar year” and as that time accumulates, every 2-3 years, there will be an additional full moon during one of the months on the calendar. So, the full Moon, hidden by clouds on New Year’s Eve was 2009’s 13th full Moon.  Though the next blue moon will be in 2012, the next blue moon to fall on New Year’s Eve will be in 2028.

 

January is already shaping up to be busy. We’ll have the meeting on the 9th and a principal topic of discussion will be kicking off the countdown to two events: Field Day and the Radio Reunion.

 

Terry, N0TW, asked about chairing a Field Day Committee, and I quickly said yes before he changed his mind. As you know by now, our run in 2009 was good for 5th nationwide in class 3F and left a lot of folks wanting more. To that end, we’ll start a buildup pretty quickly to be fully prepared for that event.

 

That buildup will include antenna parties to build the antennas we’ll be using, and trial installations of those antennas at the EOC well before the event. During those set-ups, we also want to do classes on logging and contesting, and the thought is to coordinate these trail runs with a Saturday when a contest is running to do some “live-fire” practice with the radios that are to be used.

 

What we’re after is for the FD installation to be a “well oiled” operation where we know where the radios will be, where the antennas will be installed, and everything has been “pre-flight checked” to know it operates correctly (no more 5 watt stations!).

 

The 2010 Radio Reunion returns to us, and we need to get a good idea which month we want to do the event. Once decided, I’ll move forward to get the other clubs involved and see what their schedules look like and we’ll narrow it down to a specific day.

 

I’m also looking at involving all the other clubs from our side of the line this time. When we originally tried this event on for size, it involved 5 groups, Tallahassee (TARS), Wakulla County (SPARC), Valdosta (VARC), Madison ARES, and us.

 

Of the original 5 clubs involved, one group has fallen out, and I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know that VARC has been placed on hiatus as a club, and what exists now is a “Repeater Group.” Buddy and I attended what we thought was their Christmas Party, and found out it was their final meeting to decide how to proceed for the moment. They hope to be back soon, but made no commitments as to a date.

 

They also do have some needs, which we’ll discuss at our meeting, and I’ll simply say my hope is that things look up quickly and they’ll be back.

 

Now, that doesn’t mean they’re left out of the Reunion…in fact, I’d hope that taking part would re-kindle a fire to get them started back up as a club. But, since we have enjoyed real success with participation, I want to extend invitations out to the four other groups in SWGA, Moultrie (CCHRS), Tifton (CPARC), Albany (AARC), and Americus (AARA). Again, we’ll discuss this more at the January meeting.

 

The test session this month will be on January 16th, and as I have had a request for a Tech Class, it may be incorporated with the test session. Keep checking with me to see if this plays out, as that would mean the Test Session would not be at the library

 

January 23rd will find a number of us in Forsyth for the State ARES Conference. That meeting takes place at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, which is right beside I-75 just north of town.

 

The morning session will begin at 10am, and anyone involved in ARES is welcome to attend. That session has previously been strictly DECs and up, but 2010 will be a year for emphasizing the importance of the ECs and regular ARES members, so I encourage everyone to come. The afternoon session will start at 1pm and we have three good speakers lined up, as well as some good door prizes and the presentation of the 2009 ARES Ham of the Year. If for no other reason, it should be fun to see how I handle a larger audience….

 

The meeting will be January 9th, at the Plaza Restaurant in downtown Thomasville. Plan to arrive at 6pm if you want supper and the meeting will follow at 7:30pm. We’ll be setting the course for TARC to follow in 2010, so I hope you and your family will make plans to attend. I look forward to seeing YOU there…

                                                             73 de Mike

 

 

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                                 A+ Test Session Results

 

Our last test session for 2009 again had great results. New Club Member Dan Farnsworth, KF4WF, blew right on through the Extra class exam and as of December 19th, has all the privileges he can have as a Ham. New Ham Pete Donovan, KJ4QEE, came in and had no problem with his General class exam and is now enjoying HF with a new radio he obtained from our “Bone Yard” list.

 

Congratulations to Dan and Pete for their upgrades, and I’d like to say a special thanks to the 30 hams that now make up the TARC VE team. 

 

Our next session will be January 16th and the location will be contingent on whether or not we have a Tech class in session. The possible dates for the Tech class would be January 16th and 30th if a second session is needed. Email Mike at ke4fgf@arrl.net with any questions.

 

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                                   New Club Website!!

 

Hopefully you have all had a chance to look over the new club website that kicked off last month. We also have a new Webmaster, Lowell, NY4D. 

 

The new site is at http://thomasvilleamateurradioclub.com and it looks really great!

 

Our hope is that incorporating the word Thomasville in there will increase the traffic on our site due to people doing a web-search for Thomasville.

 

That leads to another change. Rather than use time and space in the newsletter with the “TARC Bone Yard” column, that feature is now located full-time on the website. This change allows for the material there to be refreshed more than once a month when the newsletter comes out. If you have items for that column, you can email Lowell at ny4d@arrl.net or send it to me.

 

The site looks really good and we all thank Lowell for taking on this task, as well as saying thanks to John, KE4RWR, for getting us started in the website business last year.

 

 

 

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             KJ4NFB takes the Gold Medal!

 

The Civilian Marksmanship Program recently held a new event called the “Dixie Double” Precision Air Rifle and Air Pistol Competition at the new CMP South Competition Center in Anniston, Alabama.

 

The new event had some of the nations most talented young sharpshooters as competitors, including local Ham, Jackson Leverett, KJ4NFB, and his brother Henry and sister Abbie.

 

Jackson, age 9, led the Junior Supported Air Pistol Division both days of the competition and brought home the gold medal. Henry, age 8, and Abbie, age 6 also had high scores.

 

Jackson and his father Jay, KJ4NFA, were classmates in the June 2008 TARC Tech Class. Jay and his wife Ashley are the Coaches of the “Leverett Shooting Team”

 

 

 

 

 

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NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW

 

Transmission Lines

 

My Idea for this month's newsletter article came from the November 2009 QST titled, "A Closer Look at Window Transmission Line".  If you have access to this article, take a minute to reread it - it contains some very good data regarding the characteristics of various cable types and their ability to get RF to your antenna.

 

I took the liberty of using data from the article and have listed it in the chart that follows.  What I was primarily interested in was the ratios between the various cable types when operated under high-SWR conditions.  The Line Loss data in the chart was in dB per 100 ft ** for the various cable types.

 

Line Type

28 MHz

 

Ratio vrs Open Wire

 

 

Matched Loss **

Loss with 10:1 SWR **

Matched Loss

10:1 SWR

Open Wire

0.1

0.5

1

1

Window

0.15

0.71

1.5

1.42

RG-8X

1.87

5.3

18.7

10.6

LMR240

1.27

4.01

12.7

8.02

RG-8X

1

3.46

10

6.92

LMR400

0.66

2.48

6.6

4.96

 

If you construct an antenna, such as a 75-meter dipole, and use it under resonant conditions, then the SWR on the feedline will be low.  If, however, you use the same antenna and use it on several different bands by tuning it with an antenna tuner, then the transmission line will experience high SWR values on bands other than 75 meters. 

 

As the chart shows, feeding a 10-meter antenna with RG-8X coax cable (under resonant conditions) will result in losses that are 18.7 times as great as using Open Wire line. 

 

Let's say you are fortunate to have a couple of tall trees on your property and can get a 75-meter dipole up 50 to 70 ft high.  A good way to feed this dipole and make it usable on multiple bands without losing a lot of your RF as line loss is to feed it with open wire feedline and then install a balun near the ground level - then use coaxial cable from the balun into your shack.  This method will allow you to tune the dipole on multiple bands while minimizing your line loss both on transmit and receive.  Some stations eliminate the balun and coax and take open wire feedline directly into their shack - using feed-thru insulators at windows, etc.  Care must be taken as open wire line gets very "lossy" when it comes in close contact to the earth or metallic objects. 

 

The center-fed 75-meter dipole is used by many Field Day stations for multi-band operation. It is also an excellent choice for use in emergency deployment situations.

 

My goal behind this month's article is to make you aware of the various losses you will encounter when using different cable types for your antennas.  I would also like to encourage you to consider using open wire or ladderline feeds when installing HF antennas.  Open wire feedline can be easily built using normal copper wire or copperweld wire and plastic clothes hangars as separators.  If you are capable of drilling holes through the plastic hangar, then you can build the open wire feedline (much cheaper than buying it).

 

By getting more power to your antenna you will radiate a stronger signal plus you will be able to hear weaker stations.

 

Remember, if you can't hear the other station - you can't work them!

 

C U on the air.

 

 

 

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                                                                Weather Center

 

Greetings,

           

As we look back on the year 2009 we can make a long list of things that our club has achieved and it is exciting to think about the goals being set for 2010. The Southwest Georgia District SkyWarnTM and ARES programs are no exception in both accomplishment and objectives and I look forward to working with each of you to make the year 2010 a success as well.

 

The month of January brings the second annual WeatherFest an event developed by the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida in cooperation with the Florida State University Meteorology Department as well as state and university emergency management officials.

 

This is a great opportunity for you to learn how meteorologist are trained, how watches and warnings are posted, how local forecast are generated as well as the science of meteorology in general. Kids of all ages will find this very interesting, educational and there will be lots of fun for all who choose to attend.

 

If you have any interest in weather and you missed WeatherFest 2009 you should make every effort to attend and participate in activities like a simulated severe weather event where you get to post the warnings, or watch weather balloons being launched, tour emergency support vehicles or see WX4TAE in operation.

 

For more information visit the National Weather Service web site at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/tae/?n=weatherfest2010 for a complete list of times and events to be held that day. It is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the SkyWarnTM program we are active in works to support the forecasters at the National Weather Service.

 

Happy New Year and 73,

Stewart

KJ4GOJ

 

  • When: Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2010
  • Time: 10 AM to 5 PM EST
  • Who: Anyone who has an interest in science and meteorology

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                 TARC Meeting Minutes for 12/5/09

 

Mike opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and making the following announcements:

1) The Test Session will be held at the Library on December 19th at10am

2) The Midmonth Breakfast will be held on December 19th at the Plaza at

     8:30am

                  3) The Christmas Eve Net will move back one hour to 9pm and the New

                      Year’s Eve net will be at the regular time of 8pm.

4)      Services for Ray Prim, KD4VQS will be held on Dec. 11 at 1pm. The location is the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL

 

The Minutes and Treasurer’s Report were accepted as presented.

 

 

In Old Business, Mike announced that the “Santa on the Radio” event has been cancelled due to no location being available. Wal-Mart has been approached and has declined saying the only group they are allowing to have a Christmas event on premises is the Salvation Army kettle drive. We’ll look at this again for 2010 with an earlier start.

Since both Yaesu and AES have declined to work on the Boston Repeater, it will be taken to Ley’s Radio Shop in Quitman to see if Billy, WA4NKL, can make the needed repairs. 

 

In New Business, Mike announced that the “closer to Christmas” gathering would again be at Famous Dave’s Barbecue in Tallahassee on December 19th at 7pm. This is not a formal meeting, simply a “Radio Family” supper.

 

Terry, N0TW, has accepted Chairmanship of a new Field Day Committee to make that event run smoother and allow for a better run at a high score. TARC finished 5th nationwide in Class 3F for 2009. Roberta, K4HRM, asked Gary, KA3FZO, to tell the group about a new packet node that Jefferson County ARES has on line in Jefferson County for inputting traffic into Win-Link. The node will be located on an N0TW tower at around 100’ and everyone is encouraged to check it out.

 

Mike then announced that he had two more “Golden Mics” to present and that both honorees were present.

 

The first award went to Wally, KJ4KUK, for all his service and hard work to make TARC events come off well. Wally attended meetings even before getting licensed, and always arrives early and stays late helping clean up when we have an event.  Because of his connections with the Preparedness Fair organizers, we had a great place to set up the trailer. He is also working on getting a Boy Scout troop involved with us, and was a major player in the 2009 SET exercise. He always goes out of his way to help his fellow club members.

 

The second award went to Zach, KJ4LOO as the “Young Ham of the Year.” Zach started out helping his dad set up ARES stations at the Boston Fire station. He’s made much progress this year and put in 20+ hours at Field Day, operating overnight. Upgrading to General class in September, he’s now the NWS-ADEC for Southwest Georgia and has agreed to help get a TARC Youth-Ham group started. Finally he was “Co-Pilot” of SWGA Airways Flight 1103…the fictitious airliner that crashed during the 2009 SET.

 

In congratulating both recipients, Mike noted that neither Wally nor Zach were licensed hams at this point last year.

 

Terry, N0TW, gave a presentation on QSL cards and methods of delivering them. He showed off part of his collection, and suggested that we may wish to get some W4UCJ QSL cards made up as we are getting more popular in the 10-10 International group.

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9pm with 32 members and visitors in attendance.

 

Submitted by KE4FGF in absence of KI4RGD

 

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                            State of the Club, 2010

As is customary, please let this stand as the President’s Report on the “State of the Club” as it enters the year 2010.

1)      Membership:

Good progress continues in adding new members and our meetings are well attended with an average attendance of 40 people. The addition of three ARRL Instructors and licensing and upgrade classes are helping make the difference. Potential new members have better ways of finding out more about us, particularly with the addition of a new website, and we receive a number of inquiries throughout the year generated by our “Special Service Club “ status.

2)      Finances

Both the regular checking account and the repeater fund are in excellent shape. Outside contributions and early payment of club dues have maintained the checking account at a stable level, and another special fund has been started to do needed maintenance of the club communications trailer. Contributions to the repeater fund have that account slowly continuing to grow. It should be stated here that the recommended amount for a donation is $60 annually, which is $5 per month. As this is a voluntary contribution, the amount does not have to be $60, if a member wants to contribute a greater or lesser amount that is perfectly acceptable.

3)      Repeaters

The 147.06 repeater continues to work well from the FEMA site, and continued to be operational when taking a direct hit from an F2 tornado in February.  The Boston 147.24 repeater is currently operational on reduced power until the new hard-line for the antenna is installed. The 147.195 repeater is being re-worked for a return to Metcalf. And finally, the SEDAN packet node“GATE” continues to operate from the Thomas County EOC.

4)      VE Team

We finish the year with 30 VEs on board, most of which are Extra Class Ops. KE4FGF, W4FWL, and KI4RGD are also now certified ARRL Instructors and the classes are adding more hams to the group. Between classes and regular sessions, there are more than 50 new licenses and/or upgrades for 2009.

5)      ARES Group

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service group is continuing to grow in both personnel and knowledge. Plans are already in progress for a more concentrated effort for Field Day 2010, following a 5th place nationwide finish in class 3F in 2009. More antenna parties will take place as well as several Saturday training sessions on equipment and logging. Stewart, KJ4GOJ, has been working with the NWS on having “webinar” type Skywarn classes, which have gone well past our expectations.  

6)      Archbold Radio Station – WX4AMH

We established a separate “club” for the hospital station, Archbold Memorial ARC, for the purpose of obtaining a separate call sign, and that has been accomplished. We have added a 75-meter loop antenna to the system to help quiet the rampant noise in that location. It was during this work that we discovered the TS-480 had problems and was only making 5 watts of output power. It will be returned to the factory for repairs.

 

7)      Communications trailer

 We’ve got a good start on setting up the Communications Trailer for running any event we need to. We have a good start on the fund for the replacement A/C unit, but after we accomplish that, I’d like to see contributions continue for additional equipment in the form of radios and other items. While people have used their personal equipment to rig it out when needed, it would be better if it had its own compliment of gear for operations.

 

  

 

                                                  Objectives for 2010

 

1)      Training:

We’ve talked about doing additional training, both radio and non-radio related. What I’d like to see take place in 2010 is:

 

a)      SKYWARN Basic and Advanced Class – We’ve all taken the basic class and have a refresher each year, but for 2010, the addition of Stewart’s webinar format makes it very easy to accomplish either basic or advanced training easily, and that goes for other clubs in the area.

b)      Simulated Emergency Test – 2009 saw a statewide SET at work, but we finally got to do the “Plane Crash” scenario I’d hoped to do in 2008. Madison ARES also got involved and pulled in 23 HF stations from around North Florida, again proving that the state line is no impediment to our ARES operations. We will see another statewide SET for 2010, but again, I want us to have a more localized scenario running as well.

c)      TCFR Exercise – Our first SET was with Thomas County Fire Rescue and we all agreed that we should do it again, and possibly a couple of times a year. We need to look at doing this again, and maybe also have a class on Fire Department “lingo” so we better understand any traffic we’re passing.

d)      Field Day – With the appointment of Terry, N0TW, as FD Chairman, we want to make a more concerted effort at performing well in this exercise. It opens the door for antenna building, Logging Classes, and learning more about operating in a contest type environment.

 

2)      New Member Recruitment – Youth Group

While we are adding new members with the advent of classes, I’d like to see a better effort at recruiting younger members. In that light, I’ve asked Zach Chandler and Colby Swicord to co-chair a youth group for TARC and they have accepted. There were a number of young operators added to the group from the Tech class, but they have younger siblings and friends. Several members are also looking into getting a Boy Scout Troop involved. As an Instructor, I’m reworking the Tech Class PowerPoint presentation to be more understandable by younger candidates.

 

3)      New repeater for the EOC:

There is currently a 2-meter packet node on the antenna, but it is dual band, and I’d suggest we think about a 440-voice repeater to go along with it. I believe the coverage will be better than we think, because while 147.06 was in there, it was operating with a dead power amp, which pulled it’s output power down to a couple of watts. A number of operators have 440 available on their radios, but no local outlet to use it, other than simplex or cross band repeating. If for no other reason, it’d be another tool in the ARES toolbox, plus be emergency powered like 147.06.

 

Summary:

The Club is in really good shape going into 2010, following a “banner” year in 2009. We accomplished a lot more than expected, which sets the bar pretty high to do as well in 2010. But, our group is healthy and interested in accomplishing new goals and in my estimation, at this time next year, we’ll be looking back on 2010 as yet another great year!

                                                                         de KE4FGF

 

 

 

 

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