OCRA Board Meeting – January 28, 2019

Attendance:

Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Wilson (W4BOH), Steve (W3AHL), Lad (W4ORD), Keith (W1KES)

Program Development

A primary focus for OCRA in 2019 is establishing monthly programs of interest.  The Elfand Baha’i Center’s location is ideal for hosting various amateur radio programs.  The large gathering area near the kitchen provides ample space for converting dining tables to workshop stations. The large yard provides opportunities for establishing a quick HF station for educating club members on best practices and new techniques.

Several program ideas were discussed:

  1. Understanding coax options and appropriate use
  2. Soldiering techniques
  3. Creating and connecting Anderson power poles.

There are many wonderful videos on Youtube providing understanding on the topics above.

Soldering 101 for Makers and Radio Hams:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqz1xGj_m_E

Installing Power Pole Connectors:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUPWKxPGRGI

What are your program suggestions?  What would you like to learn or teach?  Please leave your comments below.

 

OCRA Membership Meeting – January 2019

Roll Call:

25 member’s presence, with 2 candidates for exams.

Treasurer report:

  • NCOCRA WordPress upgrade now provides website access on mobile phones…check us out.
  • Savings balance is strong, with 74 member’s current on dues, with 24 needing renewal.
  • The club has added 15 new members over the past 12 months.
  • Prepay for Holiday meal worked well, and may well use prepay moving forward.

Members approved 2019 Board:

  • David Snyder (W4SAR), President
  • Lad Carrington (W4ORD), Vice-President, Program Committee
  • Dan Eddleman (KR4UB), Treasurer
  • Keith Stouder (W1KES), Secretary
  • Steve Ahlbom (W3HAL), ARES EC
  • Karen Snyder (KD4YJZ), Member at Large
  • Dee Ramm (KU4GC), Member at Large
  • Wilson Lamb (W4BOH), Member at Large, Program Committee
  • Bill Bishchoff (N8BR), Program Committee

If you have ideas for enriching your club experience, we would like to know.  Please reply below.

Chatham County Radio Club Update, Nick (KA1HPM):

Chatham County radio club has established a club station at the county emergency operation center (EOC) with two VHF and two HR radios, and Winlink.   The club as applied for a vanity call, but with the FCC currently on furlough, it may be some time before the call is issued.

The club is preparing for an April 30 communication exercise at the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant.  Rehearsal for the event will be March 28. Please join the club net every Tuesday night on 442.15 MHz, PL tone 131.8. Hope to hear you on the air!

Vice President: Lad (W4ORD) – The Holiday Meal was well received.  However, suggestions to explore new food options are being considered.

“When All Else Fails:”

With the recent weather events in Wilmington, NC, hospitals are encouraging employees to become amateur radio operators offering communications when “all else fails.”  Opportunities for local radio clubs to assist may be forth coming.

NC QSO Party:

The NC QSO Party is quickly approaching.  This year, the event will occur on Saturday, February 24 from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST.  This is a great event to sharpen your SSB skills with running or search and pounce.  Click on link above for more information.

Club Meetings:

If you are new to amateur radio, or would like to refresh your knowledge, the Program Committee would like your ideas.  Considerations are being given for having instructions on coax termination with soldiering or crimpers.  Or, how to build an affordable wire dipole.  Do you have any suggestions on program content?  If so, leave a reply below.

Club Program:

Pete (WA1YYN) provided an overview of several emergency and life saving devices.  First, Pete created a GPRS enabled apparatus comprised of a raspberry pi that can be attached to a fire fighter’s outfit that captures both health and situation metrics. For example, the apparatus can capture, record, and transmit fire fighters body temperature, pulse oximetry, acceleration, etc.  such data is vital for ensuring situational safety.

Pete also explained that many emergency response communication technologies are proprietary and expensive.  He mentioned that the national fire protection association (NFPA) and NIST, national institute of standards and technology are working together to develop emergency response data interoperability and deployment standards.

Pete (WA1YYN) discussing his use of GPRS and amateur radio in emergency response communication and coordination.

 

 

 

 

 

Pete demonstrated an open source solution providing GPRS tracking with real time monitoring and visual overlay perspectives of the rescuer, drone, and incident command.  This solution will more accuracy and quickly identify persons in need improving resource coordination thus reducing response time in saving lives.

Pete’s work in supporting emergency response fulfills several key goals of amateur radio:

  • Supports the awareness and growth of Amateur Radio worldwide;
  • Advocates for meaningful access to radio spectrum;
  • Strives for every member to get involved, get active, and get on the air;
  • Encourages radio experimentation and, through its members, advances radio technology and education; and
  • Organizes and trains volunteers to serve their communities by providing public service and emergency communications.

What is your passion?  What aspects of amateur radio keeps you involved?  Let us know by leaving a response below.

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OCRA Board Meeting – November 26, 2018

Attendance:

Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), Dan (KR4UB), Bill (N8BR), Lad (W4ORD), Wilson (W4BOH), Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Steve (W3HAL), Keith (W1KES)

Board’s Fiduciary Responsibility

Dan (KR4UB) provided the Board copies of the IRS’ Compliance Guide for 501(c)(3) Public Charities for review.  Board members are responsible and accountable for managing club expenditures in accordance with requirements for maintaining not-for-profit status.

The Board agreed to revisit the guidelines after every annual election.

Board Members – 2019

Existing Board members agreed to continue service for the 2019 calendar year.  If interested in volunteering or being a future member of the Board, please let us know.

  • David Snyder (W4SAR), President
  • Lad Carrington (W4ORD), Vice-President, Program Committee
  • Dan Eddleman (KR4UB), Treasurer
  • Keith Stouder (W1KES), Secretary
  • Steve Ahlbom (W3HAL), ARES EC
  • Karen Snyder (KD4YJZ), Member at Large
  • Dee Ramm (KU4GC), Member at Large
  • Wilson Lamb (W4BOH), Member at Large, Program Committee
  • Bill Bishchoff (N8BR), Program Committee

Orange County, Emergency Operational Center (EOC)

The Orange County EOC  suffered water damage earlier this fall, and is currently under repair.  It is estimated that repairs will not be complete for another three to four months.  As such, volunteer exam sessions will continue to occur at Efland’s Baha’i Center until spring.

Field Day

The Board discussed purchasing nicely used laptops for the sole purpose of using them for Field Day.  The laptops would be securely configured and networked for N1MM, our Field Day logging software, for sharing  contact log updates and consolidated reporting. Further considerations and discuss will be made next year.

Holiday Dinner: Reminder

The club is asking attendees to pre-pay for the Monday December 10 Christmas Dinner (and will refund if you must cancel, provided written cancellation is received before the December 7th food purchase).

OCRA Membership Meeting – October 2018

Introductions:

19 members and 1 guest present.

Reports:

Treasurer report:

Strong financial balance, with current membership at 77 with 21 members up for renewal and 3 members expiring this month.

ARES:

Steve (W3AHL)

Hurricane Florence prompted plans for several OCRA hams to be on standby for deployment to shelters in conjunction with the Red Cross, while others were on standby for deployment to several fire stations in case the Viper network became unavailable. Thankfully, neither groups were deployed, but were well prepared if needed.

Repeater 101

Dan (KR4UB) provided a wonderful presentation and demonstration of a radio repeater system.  OCRA operates several repeaters under our W4UNC call sign.

A listing of the repeaters and corresponding frequencies are available under the About tab on our blog site.

AUXCOMM

Nick (KA1HPM)

Nick is leading a three weekend, Chatham County EOC sponsored Auxiliary Emergency Communication (AuxComm) amateur radio technician review course.  The review course original had eight registered participants but is now at fourteen.  Each session meets for three hours culminating into an October 27 VE session.  The training and VE session occur at the Chatham County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located in

Scouts – Jamboree on the Air

OCRA plans to drive the MCU to a Durham location providing Scouts and the community an opportunity to learn about amateur radio and participate in 61st Jamboree on the Air.

Have another Meal (HAM) – Update

Wilson is considering hosting a “have another meal” meal at the homestead, tentatively schedule for the afternoon of October 20.  Communication and coordination of this event will occur via the reflector.

Technician License Classes Coming Up

Nick, KA1HPN, will be teaching a Tech License Class Saturday mornings in October. Basic information: Technician License Classes
  • Get your first Amateur Radio License – the Technician Class
  • Three class sessions:
  • 9:00 AM to Noon
  • October 6, 13, 20
  • Chatham County Emergency Operations Center
  • Exam session
  • 9:00 AM, October 27
  • Chatham County Emergency Operations Center
  • Open to class attendees and walk-ins for all classes of Amateur License exams.
This classed was organized for the Chatham County CERT Program, but all persons interested in amateur radio are welcome to attend this course. Contact Nick, KA1HPM, by email at KA1HPM at ARRL dot NET to register and/or get more details. Nick, KA1HPM; 9/28/18

OCRA Membership Meeting, September 10, 2018

Introductions:

Sixteen members were present, with three people taking exams.

Treasurer Report:

Balance continues to be strong.  Currrent membership is at 78, with 23 needing renewal, and one expiring this month.

Seventeen new members have joined since January.

Repeater:

Dan (KR4UB) brought the latest Southeastern Repeater Association (SERA) repeater journal, providing a listing of repeater frequencies and other relevant information. The SERA was founded in 1971 as the North Carolina FM Repeater Association Inc., when a group of state repeater owners got together to form an organization designed to assist in coordinating, providing communication & technical information, and bringing together all amateur repeater owners into one united body.

RepeaterBook applications are available for Android and Apple devices.  The applications are helpful to identify local repeaters during travels.

Have another Meal (HAM)

Wilson (W4BOH) has offered to host a family friendly, fall cookout of burgers and dogs in October.  You should have received an email via the group.io list serve.  If you did not receive an email, but are interested in attending, please let Wilson known. Please bring vegetables and desserts to share.

Green Bank Telescope

Dan (KR4UB) is planning to revisit the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Green Bank, West Virginia.  The Green Bank site was part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) until September 30, 2016. Since October 1, 2016, the telescope has been operated by the newly separated Green Bank Observatory. The telescope honors the name of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd who represented West Virginia and who pushed the funding of the telescope through Congress.

The Green Bank Telescope operates at meter to millimeter wavelengths. Its 100-meter diameter collecting area, unblocked aperture, and good surface accuracy provide superb sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1–116 GHz operating range. The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire local celestial hemisphere is accessible. It is used for astronomy about 6500 hours every year, with 2000–3000 hours per year going to high-frequency science.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES):

ARES:

Steve (W3HAL) stated OC Emergency Services has requested that OC ARES/AUXCOMM volunteers be on standby for probable activation to support evacuation shelters due to forecasted flooding, high winds and power outages. Details are pending updates on Hurricane Florence’s path and timing and probably won’t be available until late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The typical scenario would have one or two shelters plus the EOC opening, with a team of two ham radio operators per site for two 12 hour shifts per day.  That would require 12 volunteers each day.

As always, the first priority is to make sure your family is safe and prepared for the storm, as mentioned on Saturday’s ARES Training net.  Meanwhile, evaluate your availability to deploy on Thursday, 09/13 through Saturday, 09/15.  If you think you might be available, depending, on how the storm actually affects our area of course, please email me directly so I can get a rough idea of how many volunteers might be available.

Volunteers would need to be registered in the AUXCOMM database to deploy to the EOC.  For shelters, at least one on the team would need AUXCOMM registration and the second could be an ARES volunteer.

And one final reminder to log into the AUXCOMM database and verify your contact info is still valid, if you haven’t done so recently.   https://www.auxcomm.us/db/nc/  (Ignore the certificate error notice)

Please contact Steve w3ahl@att.net for further information

Hog Day:

Hillsborough Hog Day may be postponed or cancelled due to Florence.  Please check the website for up-to-date information.

Boy Scouts Jamboree:

Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. This jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby amateur radio operators ham shack. Many times you can find the hams will come to you by setting up a station at your Scout camporee, at the park down the block, or perhaps at a ham shack already set up at your council’s camp.

Martin (KA5JUJ) shared how one creates a cantenna, a tin can waveguide for WiFi.

Baofeng handheld radios are popular in the amateur radio community as inexpensive, entry level HTs.  Future OCRA membership programs including learning more about repeater operations, programming a Baofeng, and overcoming “mic fright.”

OCRA Board Meeting, August 27, 2018

Attendance: 

Steve (W3HAL), Dan (KR4UB), Bill (N8BR), Wilson (W4BOH), Lad (W4ORD), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dave (W4SAR), Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), and Keith (W1KES)

Treasurer Report:

Treasury balance is still strong with 78 members current, 28 needing to renew, and 2 being removed from membership.

Repeater – Chatham County has budgeted for additional towers, which may provide opportunities for OCRA to share available repeaters.

Repeater insurance continues to increase, with two insured climbers required for any tower work resulting in several thousand dollars per climb.   The Virginia Beach Kenwood repair business, which NCOCRA used for repeater repairs, was independently owned but now no longer in business.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES): 

Steve (W3HAL) will retire from ARES AuxComm later this year.  Thanks to Steve for all his support over the past years.  This provides a great opportunity for those interested in ARES or emergency coordination to gain experience and continue Steve’s work with Orange County and other service organizations. This will be a topic of discuss at the next NCOCRA Membership meeting.

Keith (W1KES) and Dan (KR4UB) will prepare a presentation on the technical and communication practices for repeaters.  This presentation will provide a great way for new Hams to learn and older Hams to relearn about standard repeater usage and support.

Hillsborough Hog Day is September 14 and 15.  NCOCRA historically has a booth to introduce the public to amateur radio.  If interested, please contact Lad (W4ORD).

Christmas Dinner – We discussed options to reduce the food variety, which may help to lower the costs. We are striving to keep the cost to approximately $20 per person.

Wilson offered to host a Have Another Meal (HAM) pitch in at his house this Fall. More information will be forthcoming.

 

 

 

August Gathering at Virlies

The weekly amateur radio confabulation at Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro this Saturday morning was enjoyed by eight stouthearted hams who overcame the local audio QRM to exchange pleasantries and repartee.

Jesse, KM4AMR – a new member of the breakfast club – flies drones for fun and profit. With a straight face he informed the group that there was now a drone that can pollinate crops to ameliorate the decline of the honey bee population.

Bill, N8BR, gave an impressive description of DX Engineering’s four square antenna for 160 meters as well as a practically comprehensible explanation of the role of catalysts in the building of complex proteins.

John, KX4P, waxed nostalgic upon his recollection of acquiring his Red Ryder lever-action BB gun as a lad. He still keeps it locked and loaded behind the door. Squirrels beware.

Roy, WA2JLW, remarked on the irony that the Hawaii QSO party was this weekend while they were getting pummeled with Lane’s rains.

Roger, KS4VX, solved the SWR problem on his Butternut vertical … cable. He reminded those assembled that the only free cheese is in a mousetrap.

Nick, KA1HPM, offered to email Jesse some programming info for his HT. He also mentioned that he would like to see an OCRA program on repeaters. Many heads nodded in either agreement or lack of caffeine.

Dave, W4INN, has five boxes of radio junk, about which his wife has given him The Ultimatum. He has made the right choice.

Herb, N4HA, unable to hear half of what was said, made most of this up to encourage your joining us some Saturday, around 8:30 for the fun of it.

By reading this newsletter, you are agreeing that any misstatements, fabrications, and/or typing errors are not the responsibility of a superannuated septuagenarian.

Posted for Herb, N4HA by KR4UB

OCRA Membership Meeting, August 13, 2018

Introductions:

Treasurer Report:  Dan (KR4UB)

Club balance was reported.

Dan created a new attendance sheet.  He also went through old club records to capture the date members joined.  There are many current members who helped establish the club in the early 1990s, when the club was called the Orange County Wireless Pioneers.  Steve Jackson (KZ1X) was the spark plug for establishing the club.  The first meeting was in the community room of OWASA.  Anyone with club records, please let Dan know. Dan will scan and add the content to the site, which will help preserve club records.

Dan has a repeater still occupying space in his basement.  The current repeater market in Durham and Alamance is rather saturated.  However, as Chatham County is growing, so is the need for communication towers.  Nick (KA1HPM) mentioned that the county is planning to install several new towers for 2020.   There may be opportunities to relocate the repeater to a tower in Chatham County for amateur radio and CERT usage.

Field Day results:

While radio propagation was sketchy, we were able to accumulate 2000 more points this year over last.  Every station, minus 80 meters, was able to increase their score, with digital exceeding last year by over 1000 points.   This year’s numbers will change slightly as Dave (W4SAR) thoroughly combs the combined log to eliminate duplicate contacts, fix broken exchanges, and eliminate broken exchanges that cannot be made good:

For more detailed information on Field Day, we encourage you to read the July 2018 DFMA newsletter. https://www.dfma.org/TheLink/2018/Link1807web.pdf

Show and Tell

Steve (KZ1X) was cleaning out an old radio box and brought in a Micron SWR field strength meter, which may have been purchased as the old Radio Shack in University Mall.  The Micron measures the amount of signal transmitted by your antenna system, and a signal pattern can be plotted by taking readings around your antenna.  The meter covers 3 to 30 MHz and can handle up to 1KW.

He also brought alligator clips with magnifier glass used for splicing wire and adding connectors.

Dave (KW4XL) brought in several 3D printed products, including a raspberry pi hotspot case and working crescent wrench.

The next membership meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 10.  Hope to see you there!

OCRA Membership Meeting, July 9, 2018

Meeting Attendance: 28

Treasurer:

  • Club balance is still strong. Current membership is 79, with 24 requiring renewal.  The club has added 17 new members this year.
  • Field Day – Thanks to all who assisted, supported, and participated in the Field Day food preparation and delivery. The pre-paid approach for Saturday’s evening meal and Sunday’s breakfast was very successful.  For Saturday’s meal there were 44 pre-paid with 6 people paying at meal time.  Likewise, for Sunday’s breakfast there were 36 pre-paid with 4 people paying at meal time. The success of meal pre-pay may become a new payment model for future field day meals.
  • Overall, the club profited $174 from meals, which will be added to our club coffers.

Field Day (FD) Recap:

Dave (W4SAR) provided a comparisons of 2017-2018 point totals.  For 2017 the total point was 19,760.  For 2018, we had an estimated total of 21,635.  Dave should have final 2018 totals in the next several weeks.  Congratulations to all for the great work securing the additional points…and the fun had by all.

This year, the Digi mode was a good success.  Dan (KR4UB) mentioned that Digital radio mode success in amateur radio has been partly attributed to the work of Joe Taylor (K1JT), who developed the WSJT-X software.  Joe is a noble prizing winning physicist, who has focused the past two decades on weak signal communication.  Joe is the developer behind several popular digital protocols like FT8 and JT65.

General FD Observations:

  • Less interference on 40 and 15 SSB than years past.
  • Accessible stations in garage worked well for all.
  • N1MM network may require piloting the software and associated computers a few weeks prior to FD. This may help reduce complexity, however, much of the issues are not the result of the application.  Rather, the issues are more likely attributed to the Microsoft OS and configuration of personal computers. Other clubs purchase refurbished PCs for FD from NewEgg to reduce configuration mismatch.

Band Captain Comments:

  • 40/15 SSB propagation and noise on the bands most of Saturday. By Sunday morning the bands opened with much less noise.
  • CW worked well…3 stations covered all night. Better scheduling provided coverage through the morning hours.  Power was more stable this year over lasts.
  • 20 SSB – had similar propagation and noise issues like other SSB stations. The station ran on solar power directly or from batteries recharged by solar throughout the entire FD.
  • 80 SSB did not have as many operators as years past. Was difficult getting confirmation due to static on the receiver.
  • Digital was well covered and enjoyed throughout the event. However, next year more comfortable seating will be needed.
  • VHF was challenging, but the 5 element Yagi provided a noticeable return on the points.

FD Logistics

  • For the larger antennas, a dedicated spotter on point for ensuring safety should be available, with agreed upon standard communication and terms. Additionally, a tower safety demonstration and additional guide wires for support may reduce operational risk.
  • Replace the wood antenna support “walk up” with metal. This will reduce the likelihood of the wood splitting and causing the tower to fall and potential hurt people.
  • The scheduling spreadsheet helped ensure adequate coverage of stations throughout the event.

Should we plan to add a Sunday lunch? Please reply to this post with your suggestions. We would enjoy reading your ideas!