The Reflector January 2011

 

Happy New Year!

As I’m sitting here writing this, 2010 is quietly ebbing away as the clock behind me makes its relentless advance on midnight.

 

In the distance, I can hear a few sporadic fireworks and firecrackers popping as folks get ready to ring in 2011, and on TV, a somewhat worse for wear Dick Clark is doing his best to handle his traditional countdown show…

 

Where did 2010 go? Didn’t it just start a few moments ago?

 

I’ve just read some comments on the website where John and Lowell have some nice comments about the year which is quickly passing into history as my fingers hunt the right keys…wonder what 2011 will bring?

 

All month long, our Website and Facebook pages have had custom logos for the season, and they have been courtesy of Zach, KJ4LOO. The New Year’s logo I’m looking at now is the best of the bunch, with an animated ball dropping down the tower.

 

It reminds me that the young folks in our group have made a lot of important contributions this year, and I sit here hoping that Zach knows how much his efforts with these logos are appreciated.

 

New Year’s Eve has already started off with a bang. When I walked into Seminole Wind this morning, 14 people were already hard at it, working on bacon, eggs, grits, and a big helping of pleasant conversation about what they’d done over the Christmas holidays.

 

By the time everyone had arrived, 20 people were gathered around several tables, and our number included two surprises, Kenny, K4BEE, and Tom, K5MET.

 

Kenny moved to North Dakota a few months back, to go to work for a larger beekeeping firm. He came home for Christmas to see his family, and escape what could best be termed a really harsh winter.

 

Tom was passing through Thomasville on his way to Boca Raton to handle a job with his communications company, and timed his trip to pass through in time for breakfast with us.

 

If I’ve ever had any doubts about being on the right path with what TARC is doing as a club, Kenny and Tom’s presence at the breakfast table speaks volumes.

 

Earlier this evening, 28 people gathered on the repeater for one last time this year, and the ideas expressed were warm and optimistic with what the New Year might bring. Several kids were also “sprinkled” in with the adults, and that added to the family feel that we are so blessed to enjoy throughout the year.

 

And now, in a voice made both halting and timorous by medical problems, Dick Clark counts those final seconds away, and 2010 is history. The neighbors are stepping up the intensity of their fireworks, and the baby that is 2011 takes its first tentative steps to the dull “boom-boom-boom” in the distance.

 

As I reach down to take the baby’s hand and begin the trip, which will be known as 2011, I do so without worry about whether this year will be better than the last…I know it will.

 

Probably more so than at any time in the past, we have all the right people in all the right places and that guarantees our path will take us on up to the next plateau, and that this time next year we’ll find ourselves saying ‘What a trip 2011 was!!”

 

I look forward to making that trek with you…have a Happy New Year!!

 

                                                                   Mike

 

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Events for January 2011

 

Jan. 8th – Club Meeting – Plaza Restaurant, 7:30pm (6pm for supper)

Jan. 15th - Midmonth Breakfast – Seminole Wind – 8:30am

Jan. 15th – Test Session – Thomas County Public Library – 10am

Jan. 20th – Weather Briefing Thursday during the Nets

Jan. 22nd – State ARES Meeting – GPSTC, Forsyth – 9:30am

 

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A+ Test Session results

The TARC VE Team had three people request appointments to take a test in December.  The appointments were a “one time deal” to be sure the Team wouldn’t show up and have no one there to test.

 

Louis Jordan, KJ4YOM, easily passed his test for a General upgrade to his license…Congratulations Louis!

 

The next test session will be held on January 15th, at the Thomas County Public Library at 10am, and will not require an appointment to participate.

 

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Christmas Supper at the Wharf Express

 

 

 

Twenty-Seven people gathered together for the annual “Closer at Christmas” supper at the Wharf Express in Tallahassee on December 11th. This was something of a “Christmas Miracle” as the event almost didn’t come off.

 

I had the event set up for Famous Dave’s Restaurant, and at the last minute, we were waved off due to a “double booking.”  I put out an email to the participants asking for thoughts about what to do.

 

Mo, KI4PZS, swung into action and in short order; we had a new location, the Wharf Express. Mo, as you recall, joined our Radio Family back in June after participating in the Field Day exercise with us. He’d been looking for a club to call home, and liked what he saw.

 

The food was great, the fellowship greater, and everyone left with a considerable boost to their Christmas Spirit! I speak for all when I say “Thanks Mo for saving the day” for us!!

 

                                                                 de KE4FGF

 

 

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NØ Tenna Wizard

 

Rotors

 

I cannot think of a single piece of amateur equipment that takes the beating of the antenna rotator.  It is subjected to all kinds of weather and is expected to keep operating without failure.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

 

Lightning is a major cause of rotor failure.  Another common failure is the potentiometer, which keeps track of what direction the antenna is pointing.

 

Rotor failure will happen - it is only a matter of time.

 

 

What follows in this article are several observations regarding rotors that I have made during my 50 years of being a ham.

 

Rotors should be mounted down inside of your tower.  If they are mounted on a push-up pole, this is not possible.  But mounting them down inside of a tower doubles the amount of weight they can support.  Rotors can safely support 1,000 pounds of antenna load.

 

To get Hy-Gain style rotors inside of a Rohn 25 tower will require that a diagonal brace be cut out of the tower.  This is OK as the tower is only slightly weakened from this process.

 

I do not like to use top sections of tower. The diameter of the hole in the top sections is too small for most masts.  I prefer to use 1 1/2" diameter masts - 10 foot pieces of rigid electrical conduit works great! If you use a top section of tower you will have metal rubbing against metal during antenna rotation - not a good thing! I prefer a standard section of tower with a flat metal plate on top and a bushing made from soft plastic for the mast to rotate against it.  The reason for this is that the mast is not perfectly straight and will need a soft surface to turn against.  Otherwise, it is metal rotating against metal - not a good thing to have at the top of your tower.  The clearance between the mast and bushing is not critical.  Anything from a few thousandths to 1/2" is OK as the rotor at the bottom of the mast will turn regardless and it doesn't matter if the mast moves a bit side to side during operation.

 

Many hams believe that you must use a thrust bearing at the top of a tower.  They are only needed for stacked yagis, which place a long mast section above the top of the tower.  Use the plastic bushing I've previously described earlier for lighter installs.  I have large yagis installed using plastic bushings with no problems what so ever.

 

A common rotor failure is with the potentiometer.  At first you may note that the rotor only shows direction in part of its 360 degrees of rotation.  This is usually caused by dirt, which prevents the center wiper from making contact with the wire in the potentiometer.  The only fix is to remove the rotor from the tower and replace the pot. 

 

It is a good idea to put an intermediate plate on your tower to allow the rotor to be removed for service and to hold the mast into position with the rotor removed.  By using a muffler clamp at the point where the mast goes through its bushing or bearing will prevent the mast from falling down when the rotor is removed.

 

Rotors get dirty.  If you attempt to repair one, be prepared for a dirty-messy job.  Also be prepared to chase ball bearings all over the place.  It is a good idea to disassemble the rotor over a large dishpan or something that will catch bearings as they fall out. 

 

There are several rotor repair companies that do a great job of clean up and repair.  Unless you are really skilled mechanically, I highly recommend using the rotor repair companies.

 

There are rebuilt rotors available for about half the cost of a new one.  I highly recommend using the rebuilt ones as they work just as good as new.

 

Love your rotor.  It is a real workhorse!

 

73 & CU on the Air!

 Terry, N0TW

 

 

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“Ro in the Snow!”

For all you Yanks – do I look cold or what?  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! – Roberta, K4HRM

 

 

 

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                                                               Weather Center

 

 

               

            Happy New Year everyone! Looking back at 2010 it will go into the pages of weather history as a year of extremes. It started with a big freeze with 14 consecutive days below freezing in January and even included a rare event in February, a snow storm across the south that resulted in measurable snowfall in our area.

 

            The spring severe weather season proved to be quiet in Southwest Georgia with no major severe weather events. This was primarily a result of the prolonged cold weather pattern that we experienced which also resulted in very cold water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.  Common with El Niñoyears, a southerly steering pattern produced stormy conditions in Central Florida as numerous low pressure systems tracked across the Gulf and the Florida peninsula  keeping the warm sector south and limiting storms in our area.

 

If you like hot weather then the summer of 2010 was for you. The months of May through September all ranked in the top 6 hottest on record and the actual summer months of June to August tied 1998 as the hottest summer in recorded history. Although 1998 had more days above 100 degrees this year we had the heat combined with the humidity making conditions very hot for sure. I have to admit this was one summer I was glad to see come to an end.

 

The extremely favorable conditions were very beneficial for tropical storm formations with 19 named storms. This was enough to tie for third on the list of most storms in a single season. In spite of the high number of storms the majority of the storms remained in the Atlantic with only one storm making landfall in the U.S. It was also the first year since 1999 that no tropical watch or warning was issued in the Tallahassee area. 

 

Fall was reasonably uneventful but we did find the Southwest Georgia area falling behind on rainfall  and watch drought conditions continue to increase as many of our area ponds and rivers show by their very low water levels. We ended the year  just like we started it, COLD!! The cold temperatures we experienced in the last month of the year put it at the top of the list as the coldest December ever and capped the year of extremes.

 

 I am looking forward to working with everyone in 2011 as we continue with training, weekly and monthly nets, simulated events and all the other things that we do to remain ready to step up when duty calls.

 

73’s,

Stewart

KJ4GOJ

DEC NWS Tallahassee, FL

Southwest Georgia District ARES

 

 

 

 

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GAARES State Meeting in Forsyth

 

The state meeting for Georgia ARES will again take place in Forsyth on January 22nd at 9:30am. The site is the main auditorium at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, which is located just north of Forsyth, off exit 188.

 

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Working with your Served Agency” and is a “how-to” session about establishing a good working relationship with the local EMA or larger agencies like the National Weather Service.

 

The number of speakers has been cut from three to two, to allow additional time for “group networking” between the county ECs attending. Like last year, both the morning and afternoon sessions are open to anyone who wishes to attend, and that includes non-ARES hams wanting to "test the waters" before joining up.

 

There will also be various discussion tables set up in the lunchroom area and the lunch break is also extended to 2 hours, to give more time to get to and from the local eateries.

 

You may also want to think about a “brown bag lunch” to take full advantage of the discussion tables.

 

If you’re interested in Emergency Communications, this event is really worth the time to attend, and again, you don’t have to be an ARES member to attend.

 

 

 

 

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Thomasville Amateur Radio Club Minutes

December 04, 2010

 

Meeting started at 7:50pm

1.  Welcome and Announcements:  Mike – KE4FGF

 

Midmonth Breakfast

The midmonth breakfast will be held at the Plaza on December 18th, at 8:30 a.m. 

 

Test session

The next test session will be by appointment only.  If anyone would like to take one please call and we will be glad to do it. If there are no appointments, there will be no session, and the midmonth breakfast may also be cancelled.

 

Friday Breakfast -8:30 a.m.

The Friday Breakfast sessions at Granddaddy’s BBQ continue to be well attended.

 

Christmas Eve Net and New Year’s Eve Net:

At this time of the year we not only have our usual nets but there are two special nets that we have.  We have one on Christmas Eve at 9:00 p.m. to give all the children and grandchildren time to attend this net.  The next one is on New Year’s Eve at 9:00 p.m. to give everyone your best wishes for the New Year.

 

Program:

Terry, N0TW, showed us a solid glass insulator from a broadcast radio station. He also brought along a number of QST magazines for anyone wanting them.

 

2.  Minutes and Treasurers Report:

The minutes were in the Newsletter and as Club Treasurer, Bobby, N4KXL was absent, Mike gave a report on our current finances. Both reports were accepted as presented. 

 

3.  Old Business:

 

Fish Fry:

Once again this was a great job on everyone’s part.  The site continues to have problems, notably electrical, so Mike discussed finding a new spot for next year’s event.  The two places discussed were First Newark Baptist Church and Morningside Methodist Church, both previous sites of the Radio Reunions. Bobby and Bill will check on availability.  Mike said that we would still do the parade in Pavo just to keep the ability to utilize the building if we need it in a pinch.

 

4.  New Business:

 

2010 Ham of the Year:

Mike presented the 2010 Ham of the Year award to Bill Kitchens, KW4EF. Bill was cited for the many contributions he makes to the club throughout the year, both in the events, and the VE Team. Mike also commented that the VE Team continues to do really well, and currently has 33 members. 

 

Christmas Supper:

This year’s Christmas supper will be at Famous Dave’s on December 11th at 6:30 p.m.  

 

 

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned with 33 members present.

 

 Next Regular Club Meeting will be held on January 8th, 2011 at the Plaza Restaurant at 7:30 p.m.  Arrive early and eat dinner. 

 

Respectfully Submitted by

Dana Swicord, KJ4GWB

Secretary – TARC

 

 

 

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State of the Club, 2011

 

As is customary, please let this stand as the President’s Report on the “State of the Club” as it enters the year 2011.

1)      Membership:

Good progress continues in adding new members and our meetings are well attended with an average attendance of 45 people. Potential new members have better ways of finding out more about us, with the Club Website leading the way. Classroom upgrade sessions also continue to do well, adding new members and allowing upgrades of present members. 

 

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.

The special fund for replacing the trailer A/C allowed that replacement to happen with negligible effect to the regular checking account.

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

2010 was a banner year for the W4UCJ Repeater System.  Repairs were finished on the 147.24 MHz. repeater in Boston, and it went back into service.

 

Later in the year, two more repeaters became available and were purchased from Holly Thayer, K4FUR. These two, on 146.865 MHz. and 442.00 MHz were installed on the dual band antenna at the Thomas County EOC.

 

The money for these machines came from the repeater fund, and due to greater than usual donations, that fund is well on the way to replenishment.

 

Three other repeaters were also added in July, under the call sign KJ4PYB, and these are D-Star repeaters belonging to GAARES. They were meant for a site in Pelham, but as that site wasn’t ready, Club VP John, KE4RWR, arranged for them to be placed into service at Archbold.

 

The one repeater left hanging is the Metcalf machine on 147.195 MHz. and Nirmal reports it is about ready for re-installation. Another effort for 2011 hinges on this machine’s return, so I want to make it a priority for early this year. 

 

4)      VE Team

We finish the year with 33 VEs on board, most of which are Extra Class Ops. Because of the geographic placement of our VEs, the TARC Team can hold test sessions in a number of places outside Thomas County with minimum effort. Three VEs, KE4FGF, NY4D, and KJ4LOO, are also certified ARRL Instructors and the classes they administer are adding more hams to the group.

 

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 2011, following a 2nd place nationwide finish in class 4F in 2010. We will again use the Georgia QSO party as a “testing ground” for antennas for this years exercise.

 

6)      Archbold Radio Station – WX4AMH

The hospital station continues to work well, and was used extensively during the 2010 SET. The hospital is building a new building and plans are to move the station location to that new building, a six story “tower,” as soon as the facility is finished.

 

7)      PEACH – the Club Communications trailer

 The A/C unit was replaced with minimal effect to the checking account, and worked very well during Field Day.

 

The club purchased the parts needed to add a proper 30-amp service outlet at the EOC for any operations that require the trailer to be deployed there.

 

KE4FGF has also added two antenna trailers to give “PEACH” added punch when deployed.   

 

  

 

Objectives for 2011

 

1)      Training:

 

a)      SKYWARN Classes – Because of Stewart’s webinar format Skywarn classes, it becomes very easy to accomplish either basic or advanced training and as we have new members, that training needs to continue.

b)      Simulated Emergency Test – 2010 took this event into new territory as we added two more ARRL Sections, Alabama and North Florida, to our plans. The group in SWGA performed very well, and for 2011, we’ll be tested even further.

c)      TCFR Exercises – 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 – The 2010 event ended with TARC in the #2 position, nationwide, in class 4F. We’ll use the Georgia QSO Party as a “spin-up” to this event again in 2011, as a number of folks got invaluable training in this venue in 2010. Several new “Captains” will be in place for 2011, so we can increase our depth of experience. 

 

2)      New Member Recruitment – Youth Group

We have added a number of kids to our group through our classes and through recruitment. For 2011, I’d like to make a concentrated effort at moving the TARC youth group, which Zach and Colby named “SWGA Youth ARES,” forward. The first move has been to make Zach the “Advisor” as his age has moved him from the “Kid” category.

 

The next move is to make Colby the Chairman, and while he’s not really a kid either, he’s close enough to the age of the rest of the group to effectively mentor them.

Both indicated they thought a weekly net was the best first step, and I agree with that, and as a number of possible youth to participate are in Valdosta, the 1000 foot vantage point of the 147.195 repeater becomes really critical to the success of a youth net.

 

So, as mentioned earlier, the return of the Metcalf repeater is becoming crucial.

 

I’ve also opened the door to the Boy Scouts, having taught a Morse Code Class over the last couple of months. I’m pretty sure we may see both the Scoutmasters, and the boys at the next class session we hold. 

 

 

3)      Full time radio gear for PEACH and the Thomas County EOC:

Now that we have the A/C problem solved, the next move is to acquire full time radio gear for the trailer that can be permanently mounted. Doing this means no one has to pull personal gear loose when the trailer is needed in an operation.

 

 I think the same needs to be done for the EOC, particularly if GEMA does send in a D-Star radio. I will begin looking into the possibility of a grant to do this so that the club doesn’t bear the brunt of the cost.

 

And by gear, I mean power supplies, antennas, and needed accessories, not just radios. 

 

Summary:

The Club is in really good shape going into 2011, following a “banner” year in 2010. We accomplished a lot more than expected, which sets the bar pretty high to do as well again this year. 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 2011 as yet another great year!

                                                                         de KE4FGF