The Reflector October 2010
Well, its official…October Madness has begun again!
We coined this phrase a few years ago because of all the events taking place, and this year is no different.
October 2nd starts things off with not only the club meeting, but also the Simulated Emergency Test being handled by our ARES group. If you recall, last year, the entire state took part in the SET exercise, which was a statewide power-outage, to see how we’d perform if EVERYONE had problems. This year takes it a step further…we’re being joined by the North Florida and Alabama Sections as well.
This year, we’ll face “Hurricane Jay” and rather than go into the specifics here, have a look at “Breaking News” on the state ARES website www.gaares.org
The most current version of the exercise is posted there and includes a lot of good supplemental information.
Current plans locally are to have the Thomas County EOC and Archbold stations on line with HF, VHF/UHF, HF Digital, and D-Star in operation at or before 9am. Buddy will also be taking PITS-1 to Quitman to activate that hospital, so if you want to play radio, the SET is an event you’ll want to take part in.
We’ll discuss this fully on the air Thursday night (9/30) following our regular Thursday Night Net. It will be an extended version of the SWGA-ARES Simplex Net, and we’ll be on the 145.17 repeater at 9pm. If you want to get involved, plan on joining in.
The next Saturday, Oct. 9th, is the Thomasville Fly-In, and we’ll be running a Special Event Station with our kids as the primary operators, and using PEACH and PITS-1 as the station.
If you’ve never been before, the actual Fly-In has airplanes from all over the southeast that “fly in” for a visit to Thomasville. There are plenty of interesting planes and other displays, and if you’ve saved up your allowance, you can also take a ride to see the operation from the air. It’s a nice family outing, and the actual radio operation is very laid back, with no emphasis (but no limitations) on how many contacts you can make.
We’ll start there at 9am or so, and deploy the trailers on Friday evening before the event. I also have this event listed in the current QST, page 91.
The final Saturday of the month is Oct. 30th, and there will be 2 events that day. Like locomotives on the same track, the events are heading straight towards one another and the collision point will be Boston, at about noon.
Somehow, the Spaghetti 100 Bike Race got scheduled to run the same day as the Boston Mini Marathon/Festival. Both events start at 8am. After finding this out, I raised an immediate “red flag” but the decision is that things will proceed as scheduled…so where does TARC stand?
Well, Boston always asks us immediately after the current Marathon, to put them right back on our calendar for next year’s event (Pavo does this too). That means we said, “YES” to this event last October. So, our first allegiance is to the Marathon. If we have enough people involved to operate both events, we’ll try to do that, BUT the Marathon has first priority.
The interesting point here is that the bikers will arrive about the time the Marathon runners will be coming back into town, and the Marathon route is on the Spaghetti 100 long route. Add to that the Parade, which will be forming up on the route at the same time…well…you get the picture…
Now, the first Saturday in November is the 6th, and we have been asked to take part in a new event, a Veteran’s Parade in downtown Thomasville. Set-up begins at 8am and the parade starts at 9am. There will be no particular order, so this will be easy to set up.
Wynona has suggested that in addition to playing a part in set-up, that we also think about a float for our Veterans in the parade itself. Everyone this has been mentioned to likes the idea, and so the next question is to our Vets…how many of you are interested in riding on the float? Think about it and we’ll discuss at the meeting.
I heard from Tom Brewer via email this week, and was saddened to hear that his wife Becky’s father, James Gentry, had passed away rather suddenly. Some of you got a chance to meet her when she visited on several occasions. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Becky, Tom, and Clint, their son.
Several of you had mentioned not seeing the “Big White Truck” at Holiday Inn lately, and that’s because Tom and Dave’s deployment came to an end and they returned home back in June. I talked to Tom on the phone a few weeks ago, and he was unsure at that point if they’d be back or not. I know we all hope so….
The meeting will be on October 2nd at the Plaza. Plan on arriving at 6pm if you want supper, and the meeting will start at 7:30. We’ll need to discuss the November Fish Fry at this meeting because the next time we meet will be the fish fry itself.
We’ve got a LOT of stuff on the plate for the next few weeks, so please make your plans to join us and help map it out. I look forward to seeing YOU and your family there!!
The TARC VE Team held a session at the library on September 18th and had two people show up for tests. Both left with what they came after. They were:
Don Vollenweider, KJ4YEA, Valdosta - New General
Louis Jordan, Woodville - New Tech
Don was a member of the last Tech Class, and Louis is a brand new ham. Hearty Congratulations to you both!!
The next session will be October 16th at 10am at the Thomas County Public Library.
NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW
You want a DX challenge? Try 160-meters.
Getting on 160-meters requires a large amount of real estate - right? Well, maybe and maybe not. There are folded antennas, such as the Cobra, that can squeeze a 160-meter antenna into as little as 140 ft of space. A full-sized dipole is 250+ ft in length and an inverted L antenna needs just over 128 ft of total vertical and horizontal space for operation. Let's discuss what each of these antennas can do for you in your quest for 160-meter QSOs.
As a side note, the inverted L is primarily vertically polarized while the Cobra and dipole are horizontally polarized if installed in the horizontal plane with the earth. Can you operate a dipole with 1/2 of it vertical and the other half horizontal? Yes, and then the antenna will be vertically polarized. The advantage of vertical polarization is that if the transmitting station is vertically polarized, then if your receiving antenna is also vertically polarized there is a pronounced improvement in the signal strength. I have even experienced the fact that the other station can be transmitting with horizontal polarization and with a vertical antenna at my receiving location his signal was better than on a horizontal antenna.
Back to the 3 types of antennas that I mentioned above. Perhaps the most tried-n-true antenna is the horizontal dipole. It is possible to bend the dipole into folded positions to get the antenna to fit into tight spaces with little effect on the antenna's operation.
I have mentioned in previous antenna articles the fact that I love open-wire feeders. The loss in flat open-wire feeders is typically 0.01 dB per 100 ft of length at 3.5 MHz. This means the loss at 160-meters would be approximately the same - a miniscule of wasted power. And, open wire feeders are very economical to make.
Some other factors to consider with a dipole is its bandwidth. Some things you can do to increase bandwidth is to add additional wire (making fan or cage arrangements), add a parasitic wire sleeve, or to make it into a folded dipole.
I must confess that I do not know much about the Cobra antennas. They work by having 3 wires running parallel to one another on each side of the center insulator. The signal travels down one wire, is shorted to the middle wire where it travels back to the insulator but is not connected to the insulator. Instead, it connects to the third wire. The serpentine pattern formed by the current flow gives the antenna the name "Cobra".
The inverted "L" antenna is also very popular for DX operation on 160. The basic antenna is 128 ft in length with as great a length oriented in the vertical direction as is possible. The top portion of the antenna is bent horizontally. The Inverted L antenna requires radials for it to operate properly.
The 160-meter band is also known as the "gentleman's band". QSOs often go on for hours at a time with roundtables common. KA3FZO operates 160-meters and quite often talks to his buddies up north in PA and MI. Contacts with the west coast are common during 160-meter contests.
I would like to mention ON4UN's book, "Low-Band DXing". This is an excellent book covering all types of antennas for 160, 80, & 40-meter bands.
For those of you who tire of operation on UHF/VHF or even HF, give 160 a try. You might be surprised at the stations you can work.
73 & CU on the Air!
In case you missed the last meeting, we have purchased two repeaters for the Thomas County EOC and they are operational. The frequencies are:
146.865 MHz. with a negative offset and a PL of 141.3Hz.
442.000 MHz. with a positive offset and a PL of 141.3 Hz.
The tones on these machines are not currently active.
The Boston 147.24 MHz. machine is on the air, and if you can’t access it, you need to know that the PL tone (141.3) is active. There is a source of interference local to this machine, and the tones were enabled to help reduce the problem.
As we move into the month of October the true peak of the hurricane season is behind us. The hurricane season is certainly not over and we find that historically there is a smaller peak in the month of October that is yet to occur.
The key point of interest to those of us in the South Eastern region of the U.S. is the fact that, although September is the peak month, the vast majority of storms that occur are initiated in the eastern and central portions of the Atlantic Ocean and often do not have an immediate impact on our area. This September was certainly an example of this was when we saw storm after storm diverted out to sea off the U.S coast.
October brings a different climatology as we begin to see a large increase in the number of storms that form in the central and western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. We also find October to be a transition period when we see cold fronts begin to move down from the great white north, opening the door for the tropical systems to move northward with a northeast curvature to their path. As a result, we have an increasing chance that any storm that forms in the region can have some level of impact to our immediate area.
The SET scenario of a large and powerful hurricane moving out of the Caribbean into our area is a distinct and real possibility that we all need to take very seriously. We are overdue statistically for a storm of this type to make landfall in our area. The time clock has been ticking away, drawing that event closer and closer with each day that goes by. Let's all continue to fully prepare ourselves to be ready for activation when such a storm is bearing down on the panhandle of Florida and has the Southwest Georgia District in it's crosshairs.
DEC NWS Tallahassee, FL
Southwest Georgia District ARES
Thomasville Amateur Radio Club
September 11, 2010
Meeting started at 7:32 p.m.
1. Welcome and Announcements: Mike – KE4FGF
The midmonth breakfast will be held at the Plaza on Sept. 18th, at 8:30 a.m.
The next test session will follow the mid month breakfast at the Thomas County Public Library at 10:00 a.m.
Friday Breakfast -8:30 a.m.
The Friday Breakfast sessions at Granddaddy’s BBQ continue to be well attended.
Gary, KA3FZO, asked to make a few announcements about the Jefferson ARES group’s activities. They have started a weekly net on Monday nights at 8pm on the 145.43 repeater.
They have also acquired a new callsign, WX4JEF. Plans are moving forward to replace the old repeater with a brand new one and to add a D-Star “Hotspot.”
2. Minutes and Treasurers Report:
The minutes were in the Newsletter and Club Treasurer, Bobby, N4KXL, gave a report on our current finances. He stated that though we have spent a lot of money this year, both the regular account and the repeater fund continue to be in excellent shape. Both the Minutes and Treasurer’s report were accepted as presented.
Mike then made the announcement that Dewey, KI4RGD, had stepped down as TARC Secretary, due to moving out of town for a new job. Dewey accepted a position in the ARRL Education Department and will begin his new duties on September 27th. Buddy, WD4CJI suggested, and then made a motion that Dana, KJ4GWB, become Club Secretary until the officer elections in November. Numerous people seconded the motion and applause followed her acceptance.
3. Old Business:
Mike reported that the club had acquired two new repeaters from the estate of Jim Thayer, KS4JW, of Tallahassee. Jim’s wife Holly, K4FUR, had given first rights of purchase to our club, as soon as the estate matters were settled. The machines are on 146.865MHz. and 442.000MHz. As out EOC location has a dual band antenna, the decision was made to locate the machines there and they were picked up and installed on Labor Day. Mike demonstrated the 2-meter machine with his HT from the podium.
The machine has three remote receivers for additional range, and we also received a 4-bay repeater antenna as part of the deal.
Mike reported that the ID on the repeaters was still KS4JW, and he has already ordered new Eproms to change both to W4UCJ.
Mike further reported that he had heard from Scott, KB0Y that the 147.195 machine would be ready to return to Metcalf shortly.
4. New Business:
Mike reported that the new D-Star repeaters at Archbold were giving good performance, and had greater than anticipated coverage. The 3 repeaters use the callsign KJ4PYB, and are on 145.08 MHz., 440.65 MHz., and 1248.75 MHz. Gary, KA3FZO, reported that he had no problem accessing the machines from Jefferson County.
John, KE4RWR, reported that the D-Star program could be a little tricky for beginners.
He said there were several people in the club now who better understood the system and were available to help.
Mike also reported that the Thomas County EOC might be getting one of the GEMA D-Star radios that were purchased for distribution around the state.
Gary, KA3FZO, asked about plans for the D-Star repeaters and Mike said they would stay at the hospital to maintain Internet capabilities. Buddy also reminded us that D-Star did not cost us anything because it belongs to GA ARES.
Simulated Emergency Test
The SET is approaching fast; it will be on October the 2nd. This day is also our next meeting day. The SET this year will involve three states and will start at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. More information on this event can be found at www.gaares.org.
FLY-IN Special Event for kids
We have been requested to again take part in the Thomasville Fly-in by officials from that event. After discussion it was decided that we will deploy the PEACH and PITS-1 trailers and that the kids will be the primary operators of the station. Start time for this event is 9 a.m.
Spaghetti 100 &Boston Mini Marathon
Mike announced that the Boston Mini Marathon is on its usual day, which is October 30th. The Spaghetti 100 also occurs in October but Mike was unsure as to the date, but if it followed usual protocol, it should occur on October 23rd.
Mike asked for further business, and Dan, KF4WF, asked if he had everyone’s pictures for his nametag project. He encourages anyone who wants one, and hasn’t had their picture taken to get with him.
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned with 35 members present.
Next Regular Club Meeting will be held October 2, 2010 at the Plaza Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. Arrive early and eat dinner.
Respectfully Submitted by
Dana Swicord, KJ4GWB
Interim Club Secretary
As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I could see a light colored Chrysler mini-van following along behind me as I headed back to Thomasville in the van known as “Old Blue.”
I picked up the radio microphone and said, “you know you can take the lead here.”
The smaller van slid out into the passing lane and eased past me. When we arrived back at his house, Bobby said that it was the first time he’d seen “Old Blue” underway from another vehicle…
All this to say, after a long time being sidelined, Bobby is behind the wheel again!
It’s been quite a long absence, which started after Bobby hurt his arm doing too many transfers when his mother was in the hospital. Several months of therapy finally had him ready to roll again, and he was once again turned loose to drive…and in a few days tragedy struck again. He fell making a transfer and broke his leg.
Due to the “astronaut boot” style cast, once again, he couldn’t get behind the wheel. The weeks stretched out but finally the doctor said “OK” and he joined us at last years Preparedness Fair under his own power. We had a good event, and he left to have supper at the coast with his family and things seemed to be returning to normal. Then he fell and again broke the same leg.
About this same time, “Old Blue” began having problems of it’s own. The lift has always been problematic, and has at times left Bobby stranded when it either wouldn’t open to let him out, or wouldn’t go back up to put him in.
This time, it took on a life of its own, opening when it wanted to, regardless of whether the doors were open or not. That led to damaging the doors and busting out the side windows on at least two occasions.
The van stayed in Jacksonville for a number of weeks, and Bobby was effectively homebound, missing church, and for the first time ever, the November Fish Fry. The final solution to the ramp problem was to add two more main power cut-offs, but the handwriting was on the wall…Bobby simply needed a new van.
Due to the high cost of a properly rigged out wheelchair- accessible van, that’s easier said than done. But there were other things at work, because you see…Bobby has a lot of friends.
His First Newark church family rallied around him and began a fund drive. A goodly number of us took part in the shotgun raffle, and it wasn’t unusual for people to hand over large bills far in excess of the price of a ticket, and refuse to take the change, simply saying to add it to the fund. Regular donations also began coming in, and in short order; the money for purchase became available.
It was obvious that the first requisite was a van that would allow Bobby to roll right up behind the steering wheel, without the need for a transfer, and to also if possible downsize the vehicle to be more ‘friendly” at the gas pump. Filling “Old Blue” required around $60 most of the time, and the needle didn’t stay on “full” for very long.
Bobby’s new vehicle is a 2007 Chrysler “Town and Country” with a ramp, rather than a lift. The vehicle actually lowers itself down to make the ramp angle less steep. Purchased from a man in Virginia, the new van arrived on the back of a truck, and was unloaded at Lowe’s. At long last things seemed to be lining up, then another problem arose…
Even though Bobby has been driving with hand controls for 30+ years, the law now reads that you have to have a specific license class before hand controls can be installed, and Bobby’s new van didn’t come with them.
So, paperwork began to flow between Atlanta and Thomasville, adding weeks to the time he’d be able to get back behind the wheel. Finally, with the correct forms, he faced one final hurdle…a driving test.
I’d just got home from one of our Friday breakfast sessions and the phone rung. Bobby excitedly told me the paperwork for the driving test was in his mailbox, and could I please come back and go with him to get it over with.
Bobby drove to the Trooper Post to be sure he was still comfortable and I made sure he got transferred without hitting the floor. There was a crowd there, and so began another long wait as they worked him in due to not having made an appointment (wonder when they started that?)
Finally the moment arrived. I made sure he got into the seat OK, and then it was just Bobby and the Examiner. They were gone for about 20 minutes, and it was finally over. Other than losing a few points for knocking a cone over parallel parking (bet the Examiner couldn’t have done that good) Bobby had a passing score and we left a few minutes later with paperwork and a license in hand.
This week, we took both vans to the conversion people and late the next day, everything was finished and we were underway north.
I looked on Facebook last night and Bobby had multiple paragraphs thanking everyone he could think of and those nameless for all the help over the last year.
It’s been a long journey for Bobby, and I think I speak for everyone when I say “Congratulations…You deserve IT!!”
So, be careful when you’re out on the roads…Bobby’s on the prowl once again!