The Reflector September 2010
Starting out a bit late this month. With Labor Day pushing things back a week, it was easy to get caught being lazy with a few extra days…but here we go…
Started out this morning with a power outage that lasted about an hour and a half. As I sat there thinking about not being able to start on the newsletter, I realized I had the prime opportunity to head to the shack, and fire up on battery and see who was out and about.
I’ve been plagued with a lot of noise, up to about S9 on the meter, and I’ve thought all along that it was power line related, and knew this was the ideal moment to test the theory. The radio came up on 20 meters, and I saw no noise on the meter, period…OK…make sure the radio is tuned…yep…no problem there. I tuned upwards and there was a conversation absolutely pristine.
Time for the acid test…let’s move down to 75. I found the Alabama ARES net finishing up with late check-ins on 3965. Heard EVERYONE, and when they un-keyed the needle fell from S7 to ZERO. I continued to tune around and caught another net where the participants were all around S6-7, with a Net Control who was around S9.
I sat back and enjoyed listening for a few minutes and the thought “wonder when the power will come back on” wandered through my head. Apparently Grady EMC heard that thought as about 30 seconds later the net disappeared under S9 noise and what sounded like the rattle of an arc, as the power returned.
That’s all the proof I needed…hope they are ready for a phone call, because I’m going to give them one.
August was a busy month as we returned to the classroom for Tech and General Classes. Lowell and I ran the classes, with Dewey stepping in to help Lowell. We had pretty good attendance in both, and resulting in 7 people either getting new licenses or upgrades.
We’ll take ladies first. Carol Wilson emailed me a few months back about getting some help, and the way she wrote left me with the impression that she was a really young girl, around kindergarten age. There was a reference to being in “pre-school” and I assumed her mother was writing the email for her. When I answered, I mentioned that, and it was cause for a laugh as she answered saying she was “in pre-school from an Electronics standpoint.” Carol did really well in the Tech class and is now KJ4YDZ.
Lynelle, KJ4VHM, and Roy, KJ4VHL came in for the General Class, and Lynelle took home a CSCE so she can now put their FT-897 on the air on HF. Roy didn’t get to study much due to getting ready for a “summer job” so for the moment, Lynelle will have to be the Control Op.
Don Vollenweider came over from Valdosta to attend the Tech Class. Don is a Lutheran Minister. He also did very well, and his new call is KJ4YEA, which we have said stands for “Youthful Energetic Amateur.
Steve, KJ4UKR, came in for the General class, and though uncertain, decided to try the test after the classes were over. No problem there…pin the stars on your collar, Steve!
Jerry James, who is Thomas’s dad, came in to help his granddaughter Taylor study for Tech, and ended up as the “Star” pupil of both classes. He easily passed the Tech on the first weekend, and then moved across the hall to help Tommy study for General. Yep…he passed that one too. Jerry is now KJ4YBQ, and the James family continues to grow from a Ham standpoint.
Not to be undone by his dad, Thomas, W4TBJ, studied quietly in the back during the classes and sat for the Extra Class, and had no problems passing it.
Wayne, KV4IM, also made a beeline from the airport (he’d been out of town) and though out of breath, not only blew right through the Extra, but also finished before anyone else, despite it being a 50-question test.
So hearty congratulations to all these folks, and thanks to John, KE4RWR, for getting us the first class rooms to teach the classes in. Also thanks to Dana, KJ4GWB, who made sure the refreshment table was stocked and properly set up.
Our other major happening this month was the addition of two more repeaters to the W4UCJ system. Jim, KS4JW, became a silent key last year, and his three repeaters were removed from service. His wife Holly, K4FUR, approached us a while back about our interest in owning the machines, and I said yes. It’s been a while, due to estate issues needing settlement, but she called me back and we started moving forward.
Most of you saw the email from me about this purchase, and everyone who responded agreed to move forward, and so we did.
The 2-meter machine is on 146.865 MHz., and the 70cm machine is on 442.00 MHz. I passed on the third machine, which is on 1.2 GHz. As no one in the club uses that frequency, it would have been idle most, if not all of the time.
John, Colby, and I made the trip down on Labor Day, and the new system currently resides on the EOC tower, which has a dual band antenna, and emergency power.
The tones are not currently active and as I’ve heard no interference since we turned the machine on, we’ll leave them off for the moment.
We will have to get 2 new Eproms from the manufacturer as the call sign and PLs are burned in and cannot be changed. At that point, we’ll change both the radios to have a PL of 141.3 Hz.
In the interim, if you try the machine and hear it ID, you’ll hear KS4JW in code. Please immediately identify yourself, and say that this is the W4UCJ repeater to keep things legal. I’ll be ordering the chips ASAP, so this is a temporary thing.
This system also came with remote receivers to allow for longer range, and we’ll be working on getting them checked out and operational to extend the range further out.
I’ll also add here that several folks have made contributions to the repeater fund after hearing about this, and we thank them for doing that.
September should be fairly quiet, with only a test session scheduled right now. There may be other things crop up though, as our ARES group will be (and already is) ramping up for the Simulated Emergency Test, which will occur on October 2nd. If you are not an ARES member and want to see what it’s all about, the SET will be a good chance, as we’ll have both the EOC and WX4AMH operational, as well as several other hospitals in the area from fly-away stations.
We’re also currently planning an ARES meeting at 1pm on September 11th, before the regular club meeting. It’ll be held at the Thomas County EOC. If you’re involved in ARES, or want to be, you’re welcome to come.
So, that’s it for now. We’ll be meeting on 9/11 at the Plaza for the September meeting. Plan on arriving at 6pm for supper and the meeting will follow at 7:30pm. We’ll be back in our usual room, so there should be plenty of elbow space again.
I hope to see YOU and your family there…
ARES stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Service, and it’s one of the groups that handle emergency communications via Amateur Radio during disasters. There’s no cost to be involved and I think anyone who is already signed up will tell you they know a lot more about the hobby and their own gear because of their involvement.
Each county that TARC is involved with has an Emergency Coordinator (EC), and this is the person you need to get with about signing up. They are:
Grady County – Dewey, KI4RGD
Decatur County – Dana, KJ4GWB
Seminole County – Mitch K4TPD
Mitchell County – Walter, N1QJ
Colquitt County – Kenny, K4BEE
Echols County – Emil, WA4FYA
Gadsden County – Kerry, AI4CW
Jefferson County – Gary, KA3FZO
Madison County – Pat, K4NRD
Leon County – Alan, W1ABT
Yes, we have members on both sides of the stateline, because disasters don’t recognize them and neither should we. In addition to these local appointments, there are several District Emergency Coordinator appointments as well:
Stewart, KJ4GOJ – NWS-DEC-SWGA
Zach, KJ4LOO – NWS ADEC-SWGA
Dan, KI4HGO – DEC-Capital District
Dave, W4SKG – ADEC-Capital District
The Simulated Emergency Test for this year is a Cat 4 Hurricane named “Jay” after the Alabama Section Manager. This is because for the first time, we’re stretching out across two state borders and involving the Alabama and North Florida Sections with us in this exercise.
To see the actual scenario, go to the “Breaking News” tab on www.gaares.org
There are a lot of people watching this event, as a multi-section drill hasn’t really ever been done before. Last year, Georgia took the unusual step of taking it statewide, and this year’s exercise is simply an outgrowth of that.
Simply put, if it were a REAL Cat 4 hurricane out there, we’d be involved with each other anyway, so this is the best way to sort things out beforehand.
So, if you want to be involved, now is an opportune time, and we all promise that you won’t be judged lacking because you’re a brand new ham. We want YOU with us!!
A note from Dewey
I have big news!! I have accepted a position as an Education Resource Coordinator with ARRL HQ in Hartford, Connecticut.
As I write this article, I am in the process of gathering boxes and deciding what to take and what to leave behind. I will be leaving later this month and hope to start in my new position on Monday, September 27.
So how did all this happen?
Earlier this summer, the ARRL posted a job vacancy for a qualified individual that could help expand their education initiatives. I applied since I have a background in education, administration and have just completed my Masters Degree in Educational Administration.
Mrs. Debra Johnson, the ARRL Education Services manager with ARRL, contacted me via email and we set up a series of phone interviews, followed by a quick trip to Connecticut to meet everyone and take the grand tour of ARRL headquarters.
I did not have a lot of time to “play radio” on my trip, although, I was able to call CQ at W1AW. That was a lot of fun. If you ever have a chance to visit the ARRL and W1AW – do it! ARRL headquarters is a fascinating place.
As an Education Resource Coordinator, a few of my job duties will be to help assist over 4,000 volunteer instructors that teach the Tech, General and Extra classes; answer questions, provide lesson plans, and resources. I will also assist editors (with a teacher’s perspective) as they revise educational materials; manuals, radio literature, tech resources, new curriculum, etc…
What I am looking forward to the most is the opportunity to develop a systematic approach to introduce “radio theory” in schools across our country; to help kids understand radio, to appreciate its many modalities and to help get them plugged into a club so they can get licensed.
With that said, I am going to miss all of my radio friends here in South Georgia.
Sure, I will make new ones, but it won’t be quite the same. We have a very special “family” atmosphere down here that I am sure would be hard to duplicate elsewhere.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the club secretary and the EC for Grady County. Please wish me luck.
NØ Tenna Wizard: by Terry Webb, NØTW
4-Element SteppIR Beam Antenna
This is an amazing beam antenna that has the ability to change the length (i.e. resonance) of its elements via small stepper motors while it is up on top of a tower. The beam covers 6 through 20-meter bands (including WARC bands) and provides 4 active elements on each band.
The stepper motors drive copper-beryllium straps in and out to make the different element lengths. The straps have holes drilled into them, which allows the stepper motors to engage and drive the straps. The straps travel inside of fiberglass tubes and are completely unexposed to sunlight or rain. Whenever it is desired, the straps can be retracted completely inside of the drive motor housings, thus reducing the exposure to lightning to practically nothing.
You may wonder about the name for the antenna - SteppIR? Well, its inventor has the callsign of K7IR, thus the play on the name Stepper.
The antenna includes a built-in balun that converts 22 ohms (impedance of the beam) into 50 ohms - the perfect match for 50-ohm coax cable. The matching section includes 4 contact points that insure good contact is made to the copper tape. It can safely handle 3000 watts.
For 6-meter operation, it is possible to add 2 additional passive elements, transforming the beam into a 6-element version.
There are many of these antennas in use worldwide - 1, 2, 3 and 4-element versions. I have never heard one that did not sound "LOUD". The company also makes adjustable vertical antennas.
Some of the other neat features include a button that instantly reverses the direction that the antenna hears. For example, if the antenna is aimed at Japan and a station from Africa calls you, pressing the 180-degree button electronically reverses (in about 3 seconds) the antenna without having to rotate it mechanically. You can also operate the antenna in a bi-directional mode. For SWL functions, it is possible to tune this antenna to any frequency between 14 and 54 MHz.
While this antenna carries a fairly hefty price tag, stop and consider what separate 4-element monoband beams, towers, and rotators would cost to perform the same function.
If you have never experienced operating a 4-element 20-meter beam antenna, it is very exciting. Imagine aiming your antenna towards Asia and hearing Cambodia, China, etc coming in like they are next door. That is what an antenna of this construction is capable of doing. In fact, I have recently worked these two countries and many others as well. DXCC with this antenna can be accomplished easily in one weekend.
The antenna weighs almost 100 pounds - so it is not designed to fit on smaller push-up poles. For those of you who will be getting a higher-class of license, remember that your antenna is the most important piece of equipment that your station will need in order to hear and be heard. Invest wisely in good antennas and you will enjoy the hobby with more gusto. Given the choice, I would much prefer to have good antennas to a more expensive radio.
If you are interested in seeing construction on my 4-element SteppIR, here is a link to our blogsite.
73 and C U on the Bands
9/11 – ARES Meeting 1pm – Thomas County EOC
9/11 – Regular Club Meeting
9/18 – Breakfast /Test Session
9/25 – final SET Preps
10/2 – SET 9am-4pm
10/2 - Regular Club meeting
10/9 - Annual Fly-In Special Event
10/16 – Breakfast / Test Session
10/30 – Boston Mini Marathon
10/30 – Spaghetti 100 (this will probably move)
11/6 - Lawrenceville Hamfest
11/13 - Annual Fish Fry – November Meeting
11/20 – Breakfast / Test Session
11/25 – Thanksgiving
12/4 – Regular Meeting
12/11 Pre-Christmas Supper (tentative)
12/18 – Breakfast / Test Session
12/24 – Christmas Eve Net
12/25 – Christmas
12/31 – New Year’s Eve Net
Thomasville Amateur Radio Club
August 7, 2010
Meeting started at 8:00 p.m.
47 Members, 4 visitors
1. Welcome and Announcements: Mike – KE4FGF
A. Midmonth Breakfast – Cancelled
The midmonth breakfast has been cancelled for August 21 due to the Technician and General classes offered at Archbold Hospital on this date.
B. Classes will be held August 14 and 21 at Archbold Hospital from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Mike – KE4FGF will teach the Technician class and Lowell – NY4D and Dewey – KI4RGD will co-teach the General.
C. Test session – Will follow both training classes
The next scheduled test session will be held following both training classes, August 14 and 21, at Archbold Hospital.
D. Friday Breakfast at Granddaddy’s - 8:30am
You are invited to eat breakfast every Friday morning, 8:30 a.m., at Granddaddy’s on Smith Ave.
E. Ivan – W4FWL is moving back to Alabama.
Ivan is moving back to Alabama so he can be closer to his parents. He has several wire antennas and other items available to a good home. See Mike for more information.
2. Minutes and Treasurers Report:
There were no minutes for July since there was no club meeting. Bobby, N4KXL, read the Treasurer’s Report. As there were no questions, both were approved as presented.
Billy Joe, W4ZDP, commented that Ken Lanter, W4MWW, who is one of the few remaining survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II, was able to attend the 2010 Ship’s Reunion that brought the remaining survivors together.
Program: Gerry Gross, WA6POZ – DXpedition to Jordan
Gerry is the president of 10-10 international. Gerry presented a slide show of his DXpedition to Jordan several years ago. The presentation lasted 45 minutes and was very interesting.
Citing the late hour, Mike asked if there was any important business that needed resolution before next month’s meeting. None was forthcoming so Mike said we would hold off any other business until next month
Mike again reminded anyone who is taking a class this month to let him know ASAP if they need a study guide.
Before closing the meeting, Mike recognized Jackson, KJ4NFB, and Henry, KJ4VHK who, along with their sister Abby, recently won the top “Air-pistol Shooting Team” honors at Camp Perry, Ohio. This is a National title. Their team, known as the “Georgia Generals,” is coached by their parents, Jay (KJ4NFA) and Ashley (KJ4SWF) Leverett.
Meeting adjourned 9:15 p.m. with 51 people present.
Next Regular Club Meeting will be held September 11, 2010 at the Plaza Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. Arrive early and eat dinner.
Respectfully Submitted by
Dewey Rykard II, KI4RGD
Often the back page of our newsletter takes on a somber note, and unfortunately that’s the case again.
As you’ve read earlier in this edition, Dewey will be leaving us for a new position with the ARRL at the end of the month, but his chair will not be the only one empty.
Ivan, W4FWL, was the first to let us know he was moving back nearer to his home in Alabama, so he could be closer in case his parents needed anything.
Ivan has been a TARC member for a long time, and was one of our original VE Team members, also serving as the CVE after Ed Kirkpatrick, N4LC, moved back home to Milledgeville.
Ivan had moved to Tallahassee for educational purposes as I recall, and liked the area well enough to stay on.
Once he got into Amateur Radio, he also decided to continue his education, taking Electronics Technology courses at Lively Vo-Tech, and getting his General Radiotelephone License and as I recall, the radar endorsement as well.
First time we really crossed paths was during the Spaghetti 100 a few years ago. He’d elected to operate from his motorcycle and firmly attached to the sissy bar was a short mast, and a home built 2-meter ground-plane. Bet that antenna got him a lot of curious looks from non-ham passersby.
He’s had several calls, but finally settled on W4FWL, whose suffix stands for “Full Wave Loop,” one of his favorite antennas.
Ivan and I teamed up to teach the first TARC Tech Class at the EOC several years ago, and that class had another signature “moment”… it took place as Tropical Storm Fay raged outside.
Kenny, K4BEE, has been a member for a while as well. He and his family attended one of our Field Day exercises a few years ago, when we were still out at Camp Piney Woods.
Kenny was the nephew of another member, Wendell, KF4DZX, who is a silent key now. Kenny’s lived in Moultrie for quite a while, and has been President of the Colquitt County Ham Radio Society for a couple of years. He replaced long time President, Dale, W1BPP, and I’m sure that following someone who has held the position as long as Dale couldn’t have been easy.
Kenny’s call comes from his beekeeper job, and that is what prompts his move to South Dakota. I asked how he’d be able to handle the cold and he’s indicated that when it gets cold, the new operation he joined up with moves to California for the winter. Guess the bees don’t appreciate the cold either.
Kenny has stayed pretty busy as he’s also a TARC VE who missed very few test sessions and classes. He’s also the Colquitt County ARES EC, so John will be busy finding a replacement for that position.
My favorite picture of Kenny is when he was seated behind a radio in front of a CCHRS member’s motorhome at the Ag Expo, where they operate each year as K0W.
Dewey, KI4RGD, has been our club Secretary for a couple of years. We first met Dewey, when he accompanied his father Lee, KI4NYU, to a special test session prior to a regular club meeting. Lee had been unable to get to a session closer to him (he’s in Alabama) and had made contact with me through Dewey to see if we could schedule one for him.
I don’t think Dewey had his license at that point, but he sat in on the meeting afterwards with Lee and apparently liked what he saw.
I remember the first time he tried checking in to the Thursday Night Net, and he lost three different “doubles.” I knew there was someone else in there, but heard nothing further. Afterwards, he told me that after trying three times, he felt like he should stop, so I explained the “pile-up” concept to him.
He’s done very well in the last few years as the GOTA Coach, where his job as a teacher has stood him well in working with the kids. His mother, Marilyn, also got her license at one of our classes, and right after getting her call, KJ4NBF, she attended our Field Day exercise with Lee.
I asked if she’d made a contact yet and she said no. I offered to get her set up on a station, and she said “Thanks, but no…Dale’s helping me make my first contact.”
Don’t know the story behind that nickname, though I’m told there is one …maybe I’ll find out before he leaves for Newington.
Yes, our man Dewey is going to be an ARRL staffer, in the Education Department. I received a call from Debra Johnson, K1DMJ, who heads the department, and she wanted to “check up on him” before she “invited him into the fold.”
I started to spin a really good story about him because good Club Secretaries are hard to come by, but decided I just couldn’t do that to him.
This gives him a shot at helping draft the paperwork that the ARRL Instructors receive to help teach classes, and I hope what he learned from our classes will help him along the way.
Even though he’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks, Cindy will remain behind until sometime next spring. Cindy got her license at the first class session Dewey helped teach and is now KJ4SWA.
And, I’ll take this opportunity to remind Cindy that if you need anything while he’s gone, let any of us know, and we’ll be there to help…OK?
So, to Ivan, Kenny, and Dewey, please know that we’ll all miss you from our group, but our prayers and best wishes go with you as you travel the path. And, if decide you need another infusion of BBQ chicken, good conversation, or encouragement, you know where we are…
Congratulations and Best Wishes!
Your Radio Family