February blew right on through and we’ve been doing something radio related every weekend.
We started out with a well-attended meeting with a number of visitors and also added one new member, Larry Bostic, K3LB, who is from Berrien County. Larry is retired Navy, and a great CW operator, so Terry will have someone to back him up come Field Day.
Emil Borchardt, WA4FYA, who is our ARES EC for Echols County was also in attendance and brought with him Russell and Lana Lane. Russell was interested in becoming EC for Lowndes County, and after a conference with John, that appointment has taken place.
We also had the “James Gang” visit us that night. Not Jesse and Frank…rather Thomas, Theresa, Tommy, and Taylor, who are from Moultrie. They also showed back up for both class sessions this month. More on those results in a separate article later on in the newsletter.
The second Saturday found a lot of us in Orlando, for the hamfest. Lots of interesting stuff, and many folks brought home new stuff from radios to parts for building antennas. I saw a lot of other folks I knew and spent more time talking than I did buying (a good thing). Because of the unusual chill in the air, the buildings stayed crowded all day because it was too cool to be walking around the bone yard.
The last two Saturdays have found us teaching Tech and General classes at Archbold, and though we didn’t get as many people in the classes as I’d hoped to see, there were good numbers both days and we did a lot of good as a number of folks left with either a new license, or an upgrade. Again, more information on these sessions a little later…
March is also shaping up busy. We have EmComm 1 classes being held in Monticello for those of you interested in getting that done. Roberta, K4HRM can give you more information about that. The classes are set up for March 13, 27, and April 3, with the test being given on the 3rd. You can contact Roberta at email@example.com for more info.
Stewart also has two Skywarn classes on the agenda for us this month. These are both webinar based and can be taken from home. The Basic class on March 9th is a strictly home class. The Advanced class will be on March 23rd, and we have the big classroom at Archbold reserved for that. For more information, be sure and check with Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, March 20th is the busiest day; as we will have breakfast, move on to a test session at the library, then on to either the EOC or the Sunset Fire station for an antenna party to build out the antennas for the Georgia QSO Party and Field Day. The antenna parties are always both fun and educational. If you need to learn more about antenna building, soldering, or any number of other things, this is an event for you.
I’ve sent out the invitations to the other clubs about the 2010 Radio Reunion, slated for April 24th, and am already receiving RSVPs. I’ve also seen the invitation being circulated on the other club websites, so I’m thinking we’ll have a good turnout. If you have someone who isn’t involved with any of the clubs that you’d like to have along, that’s perfectly all right as long as you let us know they are coming.
The March Meeting will take place at the Plaza on Saturday, March 6th. Plan to arrive at 6pm if you want to eat, and the meeting will follow at 7:30pm. Our main discussion will be getting ready for the classes and the Antenna Party, so I hope you’ll make time to attend, and help us lay out the course for the month. I look forward to seeing you and your family there!!
73 de Mike
We had two test sessions following both days of our Tech/General Classes. Those going home with new licenses or upgrades are:
1) Bill Kitchens – KD4WQR - New Extra (and a new call)
2) Steve Cooper – KD4YUS – New General
3) Jay Leverett – KJ4NFA – New General
4) Jackson Leverett – KJ4NFB – New General
5) Theresa James – KJ4NBG – New General
6) Gary Diehl – passed Tech and General
7) Allen Brazier – Passed Tech on week 1 and General on week 2
8) Cindy Rykard – New Tech
9) Janice Sinclair – New Tech
10) Tommy James – New Tech
11) Daniel Watson – New tech
12) Ashley Leverett – New Tech
13) Dinah Brazier – New tech
14) Patrick Slaughter – New Tech
Congratulations to all these fine folks on passing their tests. The next test session will be on March 20th at the Thomas County Public Library.
February 20th dawned cloudy and cool as I headed to town. We were again starting up Technician and General classes to get some of our TARC “family” members upgraded and add a few more folks on as new Hams.
The first stop was the local donut shop to get some refreshments to get the students eyes open. John and Dana added cookies, coffee, orange juice and soft drinks and we were off and running.
Ivan and I have done these classes several times, but this time out, we had Zach, Dewey and Lowell joining us to help teach. As there are a number of kids signed up, as young as 7 years, the class has to be taught differently than if the students were all adults.
And for this session, that was true in both classes as 10-year-old Jackson Leverett joined his father in the General class, whose curriculum is pretty tough even for adults. In the Instructors favor, Jackson is pretty intense about his studies…I knew that from when he took the Tech class with me.
The Tech class had several kids, Tommy, Henry, Kyle, and Chandler, plus Henry’s mother Ashley, and his younger sister Abby.
From the looks I kept seeing on her face, 6-year-old Abby would have been happy to be just about anywhere else on Earth but that classroom.
Also in the class were Jan Sinclair, who is from Moultrie, Dan Watson, who is Chandler’s uncle and a local Scoutmaster, and Dewey’s wife Cindy.
With the younger kids present, you have to make sure your explanations are as non-technical as possible, without using words they’re not likely to have seen before. That’s pretty difficult because despite how well you explain things, those “big words” you avoided using are still on the test, so how do you strike a happy medium?
I use a PowerPoint presentation to help teach these classes and it’s a continuing work in progress that changes a bit after each class. By the questions asked during the presentation, and seeing how the students do on their tests afterwards, it becomes apparent where the weak points are, and what needs to be modified to make things more understandable.
Zach and Dewey were there as first time Instructors, and I handed the class off to them that afternoon so they could get their feet wet too. It’s really a learning experience for all of us. Just when you think you have the material down pat, a student will show you the question they’re having problems with from a totally unique viewpoint, and that gives the teacher a bit of excitement.
You’ve already seen the scores posted earlier in this newsletter, but I wanted to interject some other thoughts here.
While the Instructors get a lot of the glory when these sessions go well, there are others whose equally important contributions might get lost in the shuffle.
John, KE4RWR arranges us to have the great facilities at the hospital to teach the classes. If you’ve never seen the classrooms, which have control consoles to run everything while you’re teaching, you owe yourself a trip to see the classes in action. John also makes sure we have copies of anything we need.
This session, I forgot my color copies of the ARRL Band Plans the first morning. About 20 minutes into the class, even though I didn’t ask him to, John came in and started passing out copies he’d pulled off the Internet and printed for us.
Dana took time from working on her General license to make sure the refreshments were available, and that everyone had what they needed. She called me several days in advance to get an idea of what we’d need so she could get it before Saturday morning, preventing us from running all over town.
A number of our VEs come to these sessions to help administer the tests. They can also be found explaining things to individual students who have problems but don’t want to slow the rest of the class down. Kerry and Alan have been very good in this regard, with Alan offering to give the test sessions so I don’t have to.
Several folks commented to me this past weekend about all the “support” folks we had showing up. They were curious how we could get so many to help. It was with great pride that I could say, “We’re very much a family organization. We approach these events as a group, and people simply show up to help without me having to ask for it…”
I don’t need to tell you that the attitude we share as a group is becoming a scarce thing these days. And every time we do a class, the warm atmosphere that is a TARC standard isn’t lost on the students, regardless of age. When they get that license and begin looking for a club to call “home”…it’s a safe bet that TARC will get the first look.
Did we do well? Most of the class got the license they were after. Those that didn’t are well within striking distance of getting it at the next regular test session, and they left smiling because they know with a little bit more study…they’ll be there too.
Tommy’s younger sister Taylor, who now finds herself the only one in the James family without a license, is seriously thinking about taking the next Tech class we offer.
I have only three words…”It’s ALL good!”
So, rather than going through a list of names, I want to simply say thanks to everyone who took part in our February Class Sessions, whether as an Instructor, VE, or Club Member in support…your efforts make this club’s reputation continue to shine.
And to our students and new Hams, I hope you enjoyed your classes and will think about returning to future classes when you are ready to upgrade again. We’re here to help you become the operator YOU want to be!
NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW
How Does an Antenna Radiate?
There are some very strange misconceptions regarding how antennas radiate. These misconceptions may begin by confusing "Radiation Resistance" and DC resistance of the conductor.
For example, if you look up the DC resistance of #12 copper wire, you will find that it has about 2 ohms resistance per 1000 feet. Does this mean you have to have 25000 feet of antenna wire to have a 50 ohm feed to match your coax feedline? No, of course not.
So, there must be some other kind of resistance acting within the wire to generate high frequency impedance associated with Radio Frequencies. In fact, a 20-meter dipole has about 3.7 ohms per foot of this "Radiation Resistance" - a value almost 80 times higher than its DC resistive value.
So as we apply energy to the antenna, electrons within the conductor vibrate and collide with each other. But unlike DC current, RF energy travels very close to the outside surface of the conductor and does not utilize the entire cross-sectional area of the conductor for its journey. Using the 14 MHz (20 meters) signal as a reference, an individual electron may move only one hundred-millionth of an inch during each half cycle. While this may seem a very small distance to us, it is a huge distance compared to the very small diameter of the individual electron.
You may recall from your high school science courses that a current flowing within a conductor generates a magnetic field surrounding the conductor?
A scientist named Maxwell devised a set of equations that describe the effects of current flow in a conductor and the associated Electrical and Magnetic Fields that are created. He then took his work a step further and thought what would happen in a vacuum? Would the rules still apply? What he determined was: (1) There are no electrical charges in a vacuum, (2) There are no Magnetic monopoles in a vacuum, (3) a changing magnetic field generates an electric field, and (4) a changing electric field generates a magnetic field. These last two rules are very important for radio amateurs because they are responsible for allowing antennas to radiate.
At this point in my article, you may be saying - this is way too deep for me to understand. But in reality, antenna radiation is simply a conversion between an electric field and a magnetic field. When energy is applied to an antenna, an electric field is created. When that electric field collapses, it is converted into a magnetic field that is propagated at the speed of light (300 million meters per second, 186,000 miles per hour)! The transformation is not without losses. Nearby objects will absorb some of the electrical (RF) energy with the lost energy converted into heat.
As many of you know, different kinds of antennas have different levels of efficiencies. Mobile HF antennas are some of the most inefficient. That is why many HF mobiles do not have very strong signals.
My purpose in writing this article is not to try to confuse you with a bunch of scientific data. It is to allow you to think about a segment of our hobby and to help explain "How it Works".
C U on the Bands!
73, Terry, N0TW
By Robert Grabowski, KB4RG
ARES ADEC, Southwest Georgia
On February 6, 2010, more than 150 amateur radio operators gathered in Tallahassee, FL at the auto museum at 8:30 AM. Was it the special cars that brought us together? No, it was the topic of D-STAR radio.
Representatives from Icom, the inventor of DV-Dongle, and the driving force behind D-STAR implementation in Georgia presented a series of informative talks concerning technical and practical aspects of this digital communication technology.
I viewed the event through the lens of emergency communications and came away with several better-informed opinions.
At the heart of the D-STAR system are the repeater stacks that can contain one to three repeaters operating on 2m, 70cm, and 23cm. Repeaters are connected to the Internet, which provides:
a) The ability to link one or more repeaters
b) Low speed data
c) High speed (128kbps) data on 23cm
d) Station routing worldwide
My first reaction was that the Internet connection represents vulnerability during times of disaster. If the link goes down, access to remote repeaters is precluded. As long as the repeater remains operational, regional coverage for D-STAR radios would continue to operate, including the data modes. The high-speed data mode just would not have access to the Internet. The D-STAR implementation on the Georgia Public Broadcasting towers rides on a highly protected, very high speed, private Internet network. Since this data pipe is also used for the television transmissions, you can be assured that it will have emergency power and hardened facilities.
If a D-STAR repeater completely fails, D-STAR radios can still communicate with each other, but they have to be programmed to do so. Point to point communication, including data modes is possible without the repeater. Don't forget, D-STAR radios can also operate in analog mode just like all your current narrow FM radios.
Unlike your current analog radios, a D-STAR Radio can link repeaters located anywhere in the world. Within seconds you can create a network of repeaters to meet the needs of a specific geographic region. This is a very powerful capability. Just think how long that would take with the current linked repeater technologies. If you are within range of a repeater, you can easily talk to stations in Japan (or anywhere within range of a D-STAR repeater) using your HT anytime you want. Since D-STAR radios digitally transmit your call sign every time they transmit, check-ins to nets can be accomplished with a simple key click. D-STAR radios with GPS receivers can provide a very smooth track in APRS-like applications. The 23cm data radios provide Internet access to computers as long as one end of the connection can attach to the Internet. Also, unlike your analog radio, D-STAR radios can transmit voice and data at the same time.
Programming D-STAR radios to take advantage of all their functions requires three to ten memories per repeater. Choose a radio with lots of memory. It became apparent that programming software is almost essential to filling in all the fields and commands necessary. For EmComm use, preprogramming the radios will be more important for D-STAR than for analog radios. D-STAR operations will also require more procedural training so that important communications are not inadvertently interrupted.
D-STAR radios are more expensive now because they contain a vocoder - a chip to digitize voice for the voice over IP data stream. Voice quality is bit perfect. As volume and competition increases, the prices will come down. An entry level HT runs about $450, but D-Star radios can easily exceed $1,000 when fully optioned. If you want to get your feet wet, consider a $200 DV-Dongle. This USB device connects to your computer and uses your Internet connection for access to the D-STAR system. Using your computer's microphone and speakers, you can talk to other D-Star operators. This device can help you learn D-STAR programming concepts and allows you to perform tasks like linking repeaters. Many D-STAR repeater owners use DV-Dongle to monitor and administer their repeaters. A new version of DV-Dongle ($250) does not include the vocoder chip, but has a low power radio that acts as a very local D-STAR repeater for your D-STAR radio. It also connects to your computer and Internet service, but allows you to use your HT as if you were talking to a repeater. This would be especially useful if there are no D-STAR repeaters in range. I view both of these devices as educational and useful as long as Internet service is available by some means. In a true disaster, Internet access is usually one of the first services disrupted.
An excellent D-STAR website for more information is: http://www.dstarinfo.com
Is D-STAR appropriate for every communication situation? Probably not. Does D-STAR provide powerful and useful capabilities? Absolutely. Every speaker emphasized that D-STAR is just another tool that can be used by Amateur Radio operators for a wide variety of purposes.
I plan to add some D-STAR tools to my go-kit.
In recent months we have seen an increase in our practice of using simplex communication thanks to the efforts of Robert, KB4RG and the Southwest District ARES VHF Simplex Net. This is certainly helping us become better prepared to be fully effective during a time of emergency when repeaters may not be available for a variety of reasons.
This use of simplex nets is very important to SKWARNTM, in my view, since this will likely be the most common means of communicating storm or damage reports during and immediately after a serious weather event like a major hurricane. Even during routine storm events, reports from remote locations will likely be simplex to an operator within transmitting distance of a repeater.
Simplex communication over very large areas is dependent on relay communications between operating stations. This is a great benefit to a net control operator as reports are received from distant stations in an effort to get those reports to the National Weather Service and other emergency officials. Relay communications propose a special problem that we all must keep in mind, accuracy.
Accurate and timely reports are the key purpose behind the SKWARNTM program. The National Weather Service receives all kinds of reports many of which are more harmful than helpful. They may include inaccuracies such as over estimates of the wind strengths, or incorrect damage locations or directions of storm movement among a long list of other reasons.
Look at this slightly modified example from the NWS:
ORIGINAL SPOTTER REPORT at 7:30 PM:
“I am 10 miles north of Thomasville on Highway 319 N. I see a tornado about 5 miles to my northwest. It appears to be moving east along Highway 188”
Spotter report is relayed to another station, which relays it to the net control, which relays it to the NWS.
REPORT AS RECEIVED BY NWS at 7:40 PM:
Obviously, the report the NWS received is not accurate – the location and the time are incorrect. If you are relaying a report, be SURE the pertinent information isn’t “lost in translation.”
HOW TO REPORT: REMEMBER WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN
Your severe weather report should be detailed but concise, and should address the following questions:
WHAT did you see?
WHERE did you see it? Report the location/approximate location of the event. Be sure to distinguish clearly between where you are and where the event is thought to be happening (“I’m 5 miles north of Mayberry. The tornado looks to be about 5 miles to my northwest”). GPS coordinates are even better because they leave nothing to interpretation.
WHEN did you see it? Be sure that reports that are relayed through multiple sources carry the time of the event, NOT the report time.
Any other details that are important - How long did it last? Direction of travel? Was there damage? Etc.
Keeping reports short, to the point with specifics is the key to success. Relay stations should be sure to get the What, Where, and When before relaying the report and make sure we do not paraphrase anything. Training in emergency communication will be available in March and I hope we take full advantage of this opportunity.
Thomasville Amateur Radio Club
January 9, 2010
Meeting started at 7:35 p.m.
_40_ Members, _7_ Visitors
Mike – KE4FGF took a few minutes to let everyone introduce themselves for all of the new members and visitors.
I. Welcome and Announcements: Mike – KE4FGF
Mike asked if everyone had received the newsletter. The newsletter is now on the new website.
A. Tech/General Classes – Feb. 20 & 27
Ivan and Mike will be teaching the next Tech and General classes with some help from Lowell, Zach, and Dewey. The class will start at 9:00 and go until 4:00 p.m. A test session will be given at the end of both class sessions. The class will be held in the auditorium of Archbold Hospital located downstairs. John, KE4RWR, explained how to get there. The website will also have a map/instructions for the location.
B. Midmonth Breakfast – cancelled
C. There will be two test sessions following the Tech & General class sessions: one on February 20 and the other on February 27
D. Orlando Hamfest – Feb. 13th
The Orlando Hamfest is the weekend of February 13. It is located on the fairgrounds in Orlando. Farley added that the website is www.Hamcation.com and is located off HWY 52.
II. Minutes and Treasurer’s reports:
Mike mentioned that Bobby has his van back; however he is at home recovering from dental procedures and didn’t feel like coming out tonight. Bobby emailed Mike a copy of the treasurer’s report. Mike read the report. Farley asked what the dues are currently? Single dues are $20 and family $25. Repeater dues (voluntary) are $60 or whatever you can give. Mike asked if there are any questions. Walt – KI4TFL made a motion to accept the treasurer and minutes as read. Motion passed.
III. Old Business:
Mike explained that the repeater worked fine for two weeks at his QTH and upon re-installation at Boston, it immediately got stuck in transmit mode. Mike discovered that the hardline had never been grounded, so the whole system was “floating,” and wide open to RF interference. The repairs will be handled ASAP and another ground run from the plate to ground the cabinet as well. Mike also suggested going ahead and putting the repeater into memory on our radios. The tone is currently off, but is 141.3 hz. if enabled.
B.Field Day Committee Report – GA QSO Party – April 10
The antenna party will be held March 20, check the website for more details. Mike explained that there are several events scheduled for most Saturdays throughout the spring. Mike asked how many would be interested in taking an EMCOMM class. He also explained that on March 20, we will have a morning test session and then the afternoon antenna building party. Mike commented that April includes the GA QSO party, TOSROV and on April 24 we will host the Radio Reunion. The month of May will include the Pavo Peacock parade and regular test session. In June we will have Field Day during the last full weekend. Buddy mentioned we will knock-off until August (after Field Day).
Mike explained the Radio Reunion concept for the new members and visitors. Buddy reiterated that the event is strictly a social one – no radios (except a talk-in radio). Buddy explained that the club would furnish the chicken. Everyone brings a covered dish. The club will take donations at the door to help offset the cost.
Terry explained the materials for building the antennas for field day and also for the communication’s trailer: Terry explained to everyone that we will have five loop antennas. The GOTA station will have the largest. We will build the antennas at the antenna party scheduled for March 20. Terry explained most of the supplies will be picked up at the Orlando Hamfest. The materials will cost around $473 ($500). Terry asked the club if the cost was okay. A motion was presented. A question was asked concerning storage of the antennas when not being used, and terry explained that they would stay with the trailer. Walter - N1QJ placed a motion for the club to purchase the materials for building the antennas. Russell seconded the motion. Motion passed.
V. New Business:
Gina inquired about the air conditioner in the communications trailer. Buddy explained that the club’s communication’s trailer needs a new air conditioner. Buddy asked that we should borrow the money from the repeater fund to fix the trailer before field day. The repeater fund is set up to pay for repeater repair. Most repairs made to our repeaters have been paid from the general fund. Buddy explained that we could hold several fundraisers to replace the funds. The cost will range from $600 - $800. The air conditioner needs replacing and not repairing since most parts are not made anymore. Mike asked if there were any comments. Walt asked about the cost of an AC unit that would also have heat. Paul said there is a propane furnace that was very efficient at keeping the trailer warm. Walt warned the use of propane could be dangerous if used for heating the trailer. Paul asked that we look at the maintenance of the propane furnace. Mike asked how large the unit on the TCFR trailer was. Paul said they were comparable. Donna made a motion to proceed with Carolyn seconding. Motion passed.
A. 2010 Radio Reunion – April 24th – First Newark Social Hall
A map will be available on the website.
B. EMCOMM Level 1 Class – 3 - 8 hour classes. The instructor suggests holding the classes March 13 & 27 and April 3.
Mike asked how many have taken the EMCOMM class? Several mentioned they took the course online instead of sitting in class for 24 hours. Farley mentioned that ARRL’s requirement is mandated for 24 hours. The class will be held at the Jefferson county EOC. Mike asked how many would want to take the class? About five raised their hand.
Mike asked if there was any other new business?
Stuart discussed that we will hold another basic spotter class this spring. He hopes to have another advanced class soon. He asked how many would like to take the basic class. About seven raised their hand. It would be held online. Stuart mentioned to look for a date and info soon announcing the class/course. Mike asked what is typically the best night? Stuart is considering Tuesday nights. The consensus was to hold the class on Tuesday, March 2. Stuart said the class is about two hours long. Mike mentioned there is a gentleman from Charleston who may work with Stuart on presenting this course.
Walt mentioned there are a lot of silent keys either in the club or in the area and asked if every six months or so we could have a moment of silence or remembrance for them. Walt gave several suggestions; taking a moment before or after a net to read their names, etc. Mike agreed this was a good idea.
Mike asked who is planning on going to Orlando Hamcation next weekend? Gina has to work and has a ticket available.
Lowell explained how the Georgia QSO Party operates. It resembles field day ops. We are planning to operate at the EOC as a pre-exercise for field day.
Mike explained that we are still going to operate field day as a family fun event and some mentioned it was turning into a contest… not the case. Mary said we are just making it more fun.
Mike discussed that earlier this month we met with several boy scouts. Zach did a great job presenting material. We anticipate having several of them at the Tech class on February 20.
Terry discussed that we have the logging software available for each team captain. Terry also discussed he will be mobile during the GQP – Lowell mentioned that you can either operate at the EOC or at home; it’s a time to practice using the logging software.
Mike reiterated that this was the end of severe weather week. Numerous check-ins to the HF and VHF net for the Wednesday Tornado drill made it a huge state-wide success.
Motion to adjourn. Paul second. Motion passed.
Meeting Adjourned 8:40 p.m.
Dewey Rykard II – KI4RGD
TARC - Secretary
An Open Invitation to the Radio Reunion!
TARC will be hosting the 3rd Annual Radio Reunion on Saturday, April 24th, at 1pm.
For those who aren’t familiar with this event, the Radio Reunion started in 2008 as an event to get several local clubs together for an afternoon of fellowship, which includes our families.
One of our former members, Sandy Donahue, W4RU (SK) dubbed it “Just like a Hamfest….with chicken!” There is one further deviation from a Ham-Fest…with the exception of a talk-in station, there are NO radios…that’s right none!
As we want this to be a “family friendly” event, we leave the radios at home so the non-ham members will also want to attend. And that idea has been very successful as the attendance has been over 100 hams and their families for the first two years.
In addition, we’ve timed the event this year to coincide with Thomasville’s 89th Annual Rose Festival, so you can bring the family to see the various Rose Festival events and join us for lunch and fellowship afterwards.
The club handles the main dish, which is BBQ chicken and we ask that you bring a covered dish to fill out the table. A jar for donations will be available if you want to contribute to help offset the cost, but it’s strictly voluntary.
The important part is that we need to know beforehand if you’re coming and how many are coming with you. We don’t want to risk anyone going home hungry, plus we don’t want to buy so much that we’ll all be eating chicken for several weeks afterwards.
The deadline for that is April 16th, which gives us a week to place an order for the chickens.
Please email that information the club email address, email@example.com. In addition, we need to know what your side dish is so we don’t run the risk of having BBQ chicken and a LOT of chocolate cake.
Because of high attendance, the facility we used the first year got a little bit close, so we are moving to First Newark Baptist Church, which is located east of Thomasville on US 84, about 2 miles east of the last location. The physical address is 225 Russell Road. And again, the time will be 1pm.
So mark your calendars for April 24th, and plan on bringing your family to the premier ham radio event in this area…the Annual Radio Reunion…\
We all hope to see you there!