Monthly Club Membership Meeting October 12, 2020

OCRA Secretary: Bill, N8BR

ORANGE COUNTY RADIO AMATEURS

Monthly Membership Meeting – October 12. 2020 – 7:30 pm

Platforms Utilized: OCRA UHF Repeater and Zoom.

MEETING CONVENED at 7:30 (N1LN):

OPENING REMARKS (N1LN): Good evening all. I am serving as host this evening in place of W4SAR, David, our club president who is presently unavailable. Before we begin, I want to review the following “house-keeping” items:

  1. The majority of the membership present at this meeting are participating through the OCRA UHF repeater. However, some of our members do not have UHF equipment and are joining us via Zoom. I want to emphasize that the primary mode of participation in our meetings is via the club’s UHF repeater and all members are urged to use that platform if possible.
  2. Members should not use repeater or zoom time to test station function. That task should be performed before signing on to the net.
  3. For those of you coming aboard with zoom please keep in mind that it is linked to transmit/receive functions of the repeater and, as such, must comply with FCC requirements for station identification and general operation.
  4. The attendance at most of our club meetings is sufficiently large that it is important to keep individual input as brief as possible during the open round-tables so meeting time can be most efficiently utilized.
  5.  All net input and video are being recorded so that information presented can be accurately included in meeting minutes.

MEMBER CHECK-IN (N1LN and KR4UB):

OCRA UHF REPEATER: KU4GC (Dee), WB1AJJ (Jonathon), W4CFO (Jim), KN4EOO (Richard), W4ORD (Ladd), KA1HPM (Nick), KM4MBG (Jack), KF4PAB (Lenore), K2RRT (Mark), KZ1X (Steve), N2XZF (Paul), KN4ZHP (Mike), KO4DHJ (Ken), KR4UB (Dan), and W4BOH (Wilson).

ZOOM: N8BR (Bill), NA4VY (Dave), KN4VXB (Aurora), W4SAR (David), KD4YJZ, (Karen), KN4QBZ (Fred), and KR4UB, (Dan).

TREASURER’S REPORT (Dan KR4UB): Current Club Membership stands at 115 (85 current active paid up members, 28 requiring renewal, 2 expiring, and 4 pending applications awaiting completion (dues). Twenty-six new members have been added during the past 12 months.

REPEATER REPORTS:

Northern Section (Dan, KR4UB): We have been hosting repairs for the 145.230 machine preparing it to go back on the air. Southern Section (Nick, KA1HPM): We have been working on our repeater and it should be up and running by the end of the month. Chatham EOC is getting building permits and firming up orders for new towers. Construction should begin in December and be completed by the end of January.

Presentation

KN4VXB (Aurora): The presentation tonight is about the recently founded OCRA Ham Pi group, a collection of hams who are interested in microcomputers such as raspberry Pi and Arduino as well as other single board computers and their possible applications in amateur radio. To date this group is comprised of 8-12 folks who have met together twice during the past couple of months. About half of the group is made up of new hams and the other half are more experienced folks. The projects they’re working on include a PTT switch for Zoom meetings, a QCX CW SDR transceiver with an antenna system and various power converters. If you are interested in joining this group please email Aurora.

MEMBERSHIP ROUNDTABLE:

KU4GC (Dee): Not much ham activity this time around. We are still disposing of lots of things from our clean-up and reorganization efforts. Many items have been contributed to the Scrap Exchange.

WB1AJJ (Jon): Not much new here. Work is chaotic and has been taking much of my time. I did manage to get the ICOM 6-meter rig repaired. I suggest more “show and tell” presentations for our meetings, but they are tough to arrange with Covid 19.

W4CFO (Jim): Has been working on a number of repeater projects with Dan and Nick.

KN4EOO (Richard): Has been working on his tractor. It dropped a rear wheel and had to be repaired. A lot of antifreeze was spilled in the process. He is in the process of testing the tractor. In addition he is also taking radio classes (EC16 and BR 101).

KA1HPM (Nick): Managed to get together with his extended family on the beach at Emerald Isle. He set up his HF rig with a Ham Stick antenna for 80 meters on the third floor balcony of their house. Using that gear he was able to access the Sunday night net that originates in Birmingham, Alabama. Additionally, he announced to us that The American Red Cross will be hosting an emergency drill in November which he will attend along with ~250 other participants.

KM4MBG (Jack): In his comments Jack stresses the fact that with the pandemic he is not doing a lot with ham radio, and places emphasis on the projects he wishes he was working on rather than telling us what projects he is actually doing. Among the things he mentioned was the fact that the pandemic is allowing him to spend more time at home and that has provided him with opportunities to do more cooking and more work with the nets. Noteworthy among his homebrew cuisines was a pasta dish with eggplant sauce which he and Lenore considered to be quite good. On the ham front he reports that he has received a shipment of parts for a field programmable gate array that he will be assembling shortly. Jack would like to have presentations on the new modes that are available for hams..

KF4PFB (Lenore): Among her comments Lenore reports that in the recent past she had not been very much involved with ham radio. On the other hand, she has spent more time working at home and taking cooking classes.

K2RRT (Mark): Mark is a new ham and is looking for a good antenna system for his rig. He has also obtained the parts to build a “shari” which is an all star link to put on the Pi 4. In addition, Mark is interested in linked repeaters and would like to talk to any club members who share that interest and understand how these systems work.

KZ1X (Steve): Steve is in the process of rebuilding his ham shack. This will be a major task that involves tearing down walls and performing a complete over haul of his space. In addition, he is planning a major addition to his tower including several new antennas.

N2XZF (Paul): Built a 10 meter J Pole antenna which worked very well. He also helped Dan KR4UB sort out the various signal ground pins on the Kenwood repeater external connector interface which as it turns out, all go to a common internal grount point (LOL!)

NA4VY (Dave): It is time to get up additional wire antennas, especially for 80 meters. Was out of town in Michigan last week and flew in a hot air balloon, While cleaning his basement found found a ten meter transceiver and antenna that he is willing to give to anyone needing HF gear. Suggested topic for presentations: Let the senior members of the club recall how they got involved in ham radio.

KN4ZHP (Mike): Has had success using Win-Link which would help with Red Cross exercises.

KO4DHJ (Ken): Checked into many nets. Is planning to move stuff from his shop and rebuild the shed.

KN4VXB (Aurora): 1. Has been active in the Ham Pi Group, 2. Learning to solder cables, 3. making a prototype Fox transmitter, 4. Learning ways to use Raspberry Pi to control cameras that are used in her graduate research, and 5. Learning to wind toroids.

W4SAR (David): Celebrated his 40th anniversary. Is preparing certificates for Field Day participants. Announced that holiday party plans coming soon. Thanked Bruce for being master of ceremonies for this meeting.

KB4YJZ (Karen): Eating lots of delicious seafood during her anniversary celebration with David.

KN4QBZ (Fred): 1. We’ve had our 50th anniversary and my wife again reminded me that there is no guarantee about what the future will bring so we gotta keep things going!! 2. Folks who are familiar with Winlink are a real asset for the Red Cross emergency exercise and their help would be most appreciated. A discussion of this process would be a good topic for another club program! 3. With regard to “Richard’s comments above about the tire leaking antifreeze solution—the solution for any pollution is dilution—that stuff is CaCl and it is toxic for grass. Dilution and flushing with water is the best way to take care of it!

N1LN (Bruce): As most club members are aware, over the past couple of years Bruce has been down sizing his contest antenna farm from a 4-tower monster with multiple monoband yagi’s to a smaller more manageable but almost equally powerful system using just two towers, each supporting a large multiband yagi. This has not only reduced the complexity of the overall antenna layout, but also the amount of both general maintenance and climbing required to keep the station in good repair. In addition, he has also reconfigured the indoor component of his station so it now houses one principal contest operating position instead of two. The equipment from the former second position has been replaced with a Heathkit DX-60 transmitter, HG-10 VFO and Hammarlund HQ129X receiver to be used for “pleasant memories from days of yore” type operating.

On a downside, the new antenna arrangement has caused some issues with Bruce’s management of the 10 meter OCRA net. Specifically, in the original system which utilized two or three 10 meter monoband yagis stacked together on a single tower it was possible for him to cover two or three different directions at the same time using a stack match. However, with the new set up in order to cover two different directions using multiband yagi antennas on separate towers requires switching rf from the antenna on one tower to another one pointed in a different direction on another tower, To make the process simpler and more efficient Bruce has built a switching/matching system that permits him to simultaneously drive the 10 meter functions of the two antennas pointed in different directions at the same time. The system has been put into operation and is now working as hoped.

KR4UB (Dan): Dan has ordered a Pi 4 and is looking forward to using it. He is also hosting the 145.230 repeater build. In addition, he and Mark KR3AM have been instrumental in the development and implementation of the hybrid repeater/Zoom platform OCRA has currently been using for its club membership to access virtual meetings during the COV 19 pandemic. Under most circumstance the preferred mechanism for accessing non face-to-face club meetings would be only via the repeaters. But, given the significant number of folks who do not have vhf and uhf equipment to access these machines the hybrid platform can be effectively used,

Dan has also been managing the implementation of the hybrid format. And, while it has been effective in bringing club members together during these difficult times, it has been eminently clear that its effectiveness depends on club members’ efforts to learn and practice the procedures necessary to successfully use it. To address that issue Dan is recommending that all potential users go to the club website and select any one of the following three buttons: (Members), (Meetings) or (Nets), and read the article “About OCRA Club Meetings, Nets and Zoom. Questions about any of this information may be addressed to Dan

W4BOH (Wilson): Wilson is anxious to have show and tell back! He is willing to present a show and tell about his restoration of a 1934 Chevy truck.

W4ORD (Ladd): Lost several trees in the storm and while dropping one of them took out his antenna. He will need help pitting the antenna back up. The exchange club is still available for a Christmas party.

 

MEETING ADJOURNED AT 8:45 pm

WLB/DE/s

Ham Pi Experimenters Meeting Notes – 22 Aug 2020

By Aurora, KN4VXB

Next Meeting Agenda:

  • 30 minutes – Discuss projects
  • 1hr Work on projects virtually together – Come with ideas and supplies for your projects.

See you next month,
Aurora, KN4VXB

——————————————————————————————————————-

Ham PiE Meeting 1 Notes – 22 Aug 2020

Agenda

  • Introducing ourselves and discussing interests
  • Pick a group name (A couple of folks have lobbied for a more inclusive name, as we are not just working with Raspberry Pi)
  • Everyone declare a project that they will start working on next month

Attendees and Interests:

  • Aurora, KN4VXB – arduino-based fox hunt transmitters, satellite antenna trackers, raspberry pi APRS igate, raspberry pi wspr, high-altitude balloon transmitters, someday TARPN – 1st project Arduino fox transmitter
  • Tadd, KA2DEW – raspberry pi based radio chat relay network – TARPN – 1st project TBD
  • Dan, KR4UB – interested in Mark’s raspberry pi Zoom conference to radio remote key – 1st project – tinker with Raspberry pi on remote keyer
  • Mark, KR3AM – made pi remote ptt, want to make boxes with physical switches to talk via remote switch that work over wifi, interested in home automation and ventilation, digital modes – 1st project get PTT parts, home automation
  • Sherri, WB4OSU  – interest in software and learning hardware, use pi for logging software, wants a portable digital mode setup – 1st project – troubleshoot wifi on pi and laptop, put a power button on raspberry pi, get Pi4
  • Charles, KN4PTU – digital audio conversion, raspberry pi based digital mode radio, TARPN – 1st project – get sound card working for raspberry pi to HF portable
  • Keith, W1KES – TARPN node, virtual node control for digital modes, mobile digital station – 1st project – add to TARPN node
  • Chuck, KW4KZ – interested in everything!, experience with arduino and raspberry pi, trying to use pi in place of computer, TARPN, home automation – 1st project – get raspberry pi programs working with node red and user interface
  • Boyd, KO4GJO – wants to learn more about raspberry pi, interested in digital modes, digital logging programs, Leonardo board code oscillator/Morse decoder – K04GJO First Project – Finish antenna

Links from chat:

  • From Charles, KN4PTU to Everyone: 01:59 PM www.hifiberry.com
  • From Mark, KR3AM Sidell to Everyone: 02:00 PM yeah, the 12v power hat is great. Where’d you get that?
  • From Charles, KN4PTU Everyone: 02:09 PM Link to the web site for using a Raspberry Pi as Digital modes field server. http://oh8stn.org/off-grid-raspberry-pi/
    Pi Hat, 12v to 5v https://bc-robotics.com/shop/raspberry-pi-power-rtc-hat/
  • From Mark, KR3AM to Everyone: 02:32 PM https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XPHWPR/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  • From Sherri Rapp, WB4OSU to Everyone: 02:37 PM I finally found the HamPi link
    https://qrznow.com/hampi-ham-radio-software-for-raspberry-pi-from-w3djs/

Name Possibilities (1’s indicate votes):

  • Ham PiE- 11111 – Winner! – Ham Pi Experimenters
  • HamPuter – 1
  • HamBoard – 1
  • Pi and General Linking Electronics with Transceivers (PiGLET) -111
  • Small Computer Radio Amateur Makers (SCRAM) -11
  • Pico Computer Amateur Radio Experimenter Society (PiCARES) –
  • Small Computer Amateur Radio Experimenters (SCARE) –
  • Radio Amateur Small Computer Advancement League (RASCAL) – 111
  • Small Computer Radio Amateur Project group (SCRAP group) – 11
  • Digital Radio Operators Durham Raleigh Orange (DRODRO) –
  • The PiPy gang (a play on PI (raspberry), and PY (python)) – OCRA Pi – 111

Next Meeting: 26 Sept. 2020

OCRA Monthly Club Meeting Minutes – August 10, 2020

Monthly Membership Club Meeting Minutes – August 10. 2020 by Bill, N8BR Club Secretary

Meeting convened at 7:30 By David, W4SAR Platforms Utilized: Repeater and Zoom

Members Present: W4SAR Dave, KB1WE Wayne, KR3AM Mark, KA1HPM Nick, N2XZF Paul, W4BOH Wilson, AC4RD Ken, W3AHL Steve, N8BR Bill, WA4AHR Dewey, KO4DHJ Ken, KU4GC Dee, N1LN Bruce, KM4MBG Jack, W4KIL Andy, KI4MXP Gerald, WB4OSU Sherry, N4KF Ken, KN4EOO Rick, KF4PAB Lenore, N1YXU Laurie, KR4UB Dan, KD4YJZ Karen, KZ1X Steve, KN4VXB Aurora, NC4CD Charlie, N4JQR J.R., KO4EJX Steve

Treasurer’s Report (Dan KR4UB): Current Club Membership stands at 111 (82 active paid up members, 28 requiring renewal, and 1 expiring). 3 folks are awaiting volunteer exam session). 21 new members have been added during the past 12 months.

Program Introduction: (David, W4SAR): Tonight’s program was a presentation by one of our club members, Aurora KN4VXB. Aurora has been active in a number of our events. In June she made a serious contribution to club efforts during Field Day when she single-handedly spearheaded its effort to make a two-way contact with one of the amateur radio satellites. And, more recently in August she organized and hosted a fox hunt for the club. In tonight’s program she will tell us in detail about the two parts of that event.

OCRA Foxhunt (Aurora KN4VXB): In Aurora’s words this activity was inspired by the non-conventional format of field day this year as well as Aurora’s own desire to learn about radio direction finding. It was her first experience with the technology. Primary “Elmers” were Steve K1ZX who provided the fox beacon, and Dan KR4UB who volunteered to be the “fox”.

I am also including a link of the article written about the fox hunt by KR4UB after actually participating in the event itself. It is on the OCRA website at:

Who were those masked folks at the August 1st Foxhunt?

Further, the link to one of the foxes hunted on the foot search is:
https://www.byonics.com/mf

Finally, the Fox Hunt KC9ON Fox Hunt version 6 kit Aurora used is at:

Fox Hunt V6

Following the presentation Aurora held a question and answer session with the membership.

Comments (David W4SAR): Thanks to Aurora for a marvelous presentation. Thanks also to Dan for his help.

Award for Outstanding Service to the Club by New Member:

One of our club members who wishes to remain anonymous has given a gift to the club in the form of dues for one year to be awarded to a new club member for their outstanding service to the club. This year that award is going to Aurora KN4VXB. Congratulations!

Club-wide Discussion and Commentary:

W3AHL Steve: I am in the process of preparing for a trip to New Mexico some time in the future but being hampered by some difficulty with my vehicle.

WA4AHR Dewey: I appreciated Aurora’s talk. Would like to participate in a fox hunt. He will do it another time.

KO4DHJ Ken: Thanks to Aurora. I really enjoy the club.

KU4GC Dee: Aurora did a wonderful job. The material on the raspberry Pi is interesting.

N1LN Bruce: Two things. 1. I joined the virtual hamfest online this past weekend and there was a wonderful session on the K4. The first shipments will be the end of August. 2. This coming weekend is the NA QSO party on SSB.

W4KIL Andy: Nothing to add. I am enjoying what is going on.

WB4OSU Sherry: I did a zoom-build with Aurora. We built an antenna and I learned a lot. The stuff with raspberry pi is interesting. Also enjoyed learning N1MM for field day.

N4KF Ken: I am new to the club and have enjoyed the comments. My home is in Hillsborough.

KN4EOO Rick: I enjoyed the presentation. I am currently taking on-line courses.

N1YXU Laurie: I’ve been helping Bruce take his antennas down. Thanks to Aurora for a great presentation.

KR4UB Dan: Many thanks to Aurora. I am looking forward to the upcoming sessions on raspberry pi and other microcontrollers. I want to learn more.

KD4YJZ Karen: I am interested in the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. I wasn’t able to get on, especially the segment on remote operating. Can we get a copy of what’s going on?

KB1WE Wayne: Hello all! A great presentation tonight by Aurora. I have built some fox hunt stuff and will send along the details. Especially on directional antennas.

KA1HPM Nick: Aurora I appreciate your efforts. This is encouraging to hear about! There are 3 Volunteer examiners in Chatham County now. Perhaps they can run some VE sessions with us. Our 2 meter duplexers are finished and ready to put into cabinets now.

N2XZF Paul: A new DFMA 6 meter repeater is now on the air at TV Hill in Durham. Program your radio to receive 53.630 MHz and transmit on 52.630 MHz with a 88.5Hz PL. All are invited to check in to the weekly 6 meter net on Wednesdays at 8:30pm. Bob, K4VO is net control.

W4BOH Wilson: Chris was with us helping neighbors put up a repeater to boost signals for the cell phone. The subscription is through T Mobile. He also has an antenna on his field day tower. Has some updated information on the tape measure antenna.

N4JQR J.R.: Hello All! Great Meeting.

Adjournment W4SAR David: The club just keeps going in spite of numerous distractions. Good Evening all! Meeting Adjourned.

Interested in Ham PI Group?

Fellow hams,

At the fox hunt last weekend, one of the new hams, Nan (KN4GUM) asked if there were folks interested in radio + microcontrollers such as Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone (which Nan has experience with), and Arduino. I said I had done a little bit of non-radio work with Arduinos and was very interested in learning more about it and Raspberry Pi. I’ve also really enjoyed the virtual antenna build days we’ve had and would like to continue with something similar.

Would anyone else be interested in forming a “Ham Pi” group? We could meet virtually once a month on Saturday afternoons to spend about 30 minutes discussing our latest microcontroller projects and swap tips, and then work on projects with others for virtual company for about an hour. Once Covid is over, we could also start meeting in person, if desired. I am very interested in learning to make a Raspberry Pi based APRS igate, and Arduino-based beacons/foxes.

Let me know if you would be up for some Ham Pi!

Best,

Aurora (KN4VXB)

Who were those masked folks at the August 1st Foxhunt?

Thanks to Aurora, KN4VXB for coordinating and inspiring all to participate in a Foxhunt, Saturday August 1st!

But who were those masked men and women? Well none arrived riding a fiery horse with the speed of light but they were chasing some RF traveling at the speed of light!

Pictured left to right above are the participants in the on-foot foxhunt  Joe K4SAR, Ben KO4BHX, Dan KR4UB, Aurora KN4VXB, Nan KN4GUM, Steve KZ1X and Boyd, awaiting a VE session.

Thanks to Steve KZ1X for preparing and hiding his fox transmitter for the on-foot event.

Aurora KN4VXB with her tape measure yagi antenna.

Joe, K4SAR Hi Ho Silver! I think I’ve found a fox!

Boyd with his  yagi antenna

Aurora KN4VXB, Nan KN4GUM, Joe K4SAR, Dan KR4UB and Mark, KR3AM (not in photo) enjoyed a great conversation on their diverse interests after completion of the fox hunt driving event. Dan was “the fox” in the driving event.

comments about the event…

I am pleased to dub the Fox Hunt Event held yesterday as a success! I would like to extend a big thanks to Steve (KZ1X) for preparing and hiding his fox transmitter for the on-foot event and to Dan (KR4UB) for being “the fox” for the driving event. Thanks also to the folks who came out to participate in the hunt. We had seven participants in the on-foot event and five in the vehicle based event, including several new hams. If folks want to do this again, I’d be happy to organize another one in the spring. Aurora, KN4VXB

Thanks very much for the pictures Nan. And also to Aurora, Dan and everyone for making this Foxhunt such a fun and educational event on Saturday. We really enjoyed meeting everyone and learned a lot along the way. Not just about radio but compasses too. Ben, KO4BHX

So many thanks to Aurora and the other hams at the hunt yesterday. I had an incredible time and learned so much! I was deeply appreciative of the welcoming and collaborative atmosphere. What a great group! Nan, KO4GUM

Thanks again Aurora for coordinating all this! I had a great time and enjoyed meeting a couple of new folks and seeing some old friends. Appreciated the iced coffee and snacks! Great job as the fox, Dan! Joe, K4SAR

and where did that spirited masked man music come from?

Information for Fox Hunt – Aug. 1

from Aurora, KN4VXB….

Fellow hams,

I just wanted to remind folks that we have a Fox Hunt Day on August 1. There will be two events, an on-foot transmitter hunt from 8 am – 10 am and a vehicle- based hunt from 10:30 am – 1 pm (Note time change from original proposal).

The on-foot event will take place at the Brumley Nature Preserve – North. We will meet first in the parking lot at 8 am for instructions. There are no restrooms or running water at Brumley so plan accordingly.

The vehicle-based event will take place in Orange County. You should be able to hear the fox starting at or near the Brumley Nature Preserve – North lot.

Here’s a link to the instructions for the events. I will have printed copies for folks, or you can print and bring your own.

Prizes and (bragging rights) are available for hams who most quickly find the foxes.

Recommended equipment for the on-foot event:
1. Dual band HT FM radio
2. 2-m Directional antenna, such as a yagi
3. Attenuator (optional, but recommended)
4. Water bottle full of water
5. Sunscreen and bugspray
6. Weather appropriate clothing and comfy shoes

Recommended equipment for the vehicle event:
1. Dual Band HT or Mobile radio(s) – This event can be done with one radio, but will be easiest if you bring two, one for transmitting, one for listening.
2. 2-m directional antenna, such as a yagi
3. Attenuator (optional, but recommended)
4. A road map of Orange County or phone with maps/GPS
5. Water and snacks for the road, if desired

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Best,

Aurora (KN4VXB)

N1LN Field Day – 2020 Audio Recording of Laurie

Because we could not get together this year for a club Field Day weekend, Laurie and I decided to participate from home in the 1D classification.   We would only use one station and take turns operating with Laurie operating SSB and me operating CW. We would run 100 watts and band selections would change based on time of day and propagation.  We had a great time and made lots of QSOs.  When it was all over I ended up with more CW QSOs, but we pretty much attribute that to on-the-air time.  We were on the air for a total of 18 hours.  I was on for 11.5 hours and Laurie was on for 6.5 hours.  During that time we mostly RAN (we called CQ and other stations called us) but did some S/P (Search and Pounce – calling other stations that were calling CQ).  Running is much more effective to get the QSO count up.  To that point, we ended up with a tie for one key metric.  In the QSO/Hour metric we both had a maximum rate of 144.  Perhaps some of you have “run” before and some of you are hesitant to give it a try.  There are a couple of key factors when running.  First, don’t assume it is mandatory to copy the call of the station calling first time.  You can ask for repeats, clarifications, or whatever may be needed to copy and accurate exchange of information.  Second, you are in control of the speed, what station you come back to, etc.  Listen to this recording and hopefully you will hear how easily Laurie manages the pile-up.  At this time her rate is 135 QSO/hr.  It is only 4 minutes – enjoy!

73,

Bruce N1LN

OCRA Monthly Membership Meeting – July 13, 2020

from Bill N8BR, OCRA Secretary….

ORANGE COUNTY RADIO AMATEURS
Monthly Membership Meeting – July 13, 2020 MINUTES

Convened at 7:30pm by Dave, W4SAR – 442.150 Repeater Net & Zoom Video Conference

Members Present: N8BR, Bill; WA2JLW, Roy; WA4AHR, Dewey; W3AHL, Steve; KN4EOO, Rick; W4BOH, Wilson; KA1HPM, Nick; KU4GC, Dee; KO4DHJ, Ken; KA5ETS, Doug; N1LN, Bruce; KC1BVL, Robbey; KM4MBG, Jack; KI4MXP, Gerald; W4KIL, Andy; WB4OSU,  Sherri; KW4JY, Calvin; W4ORD, Lad; N4SJW, John; KD4YJZ, Karen; KZ1X, Steve; KN4ZHP, Mike; NA4VY, Dave; KJ4VWG, Sam; KN4VXB, Aurora; N2XZF, Paul; N1YXU, Laurie; KR3AM, Mark; W4SAR, David; KR4UB, Dan

Dan, KR4UB – Treasurer’s Report: We now have 85 club members with dues current and 27 needing to renew their membership. 25 new members have joined the club over the past 12 months. A new power supply and SCOM repeater controller needed to deploy the 145.230 repeater in Chatham County has been purchased. Nick, KA1HPM is modifying the cabinet for better mounting of the equipment and Steve, W3AHL is in process of retuning the duplexer.

Dave, W4SAR – President’s Report on Field Day: In a normal year field day is a combined effort between the members of OCRA and DFMA. This year, owing to the Covid19 pandemic, folks participating in this event were encouraged to operate from their homes. In past years these “D” category stations were not permitted to earn credit for contacts with other stations operating in that category. However, this year the ARRL relaxed that requirement and allowed the “D” group operators to earn credit for contacts made with all operating classes.

Further, all members of a recognized club who are operating in the event are required to submit individual scores along with verification of their club affiliation instead of having their clubs submit a total club score on their members’ behalf. Be sure to enter “Orange County Radio Amateurs & Durham FM Association” in the Club/Group Name Field. So, this year The ARRL will combine the points earned by each member of a recognized club and post the club totals. This makes it absolutely necessary for each of us who participated in field day to submit a score by no later than July 28th.

Please mark your calendars so this deadline will be met!! If assistance is needed with the preparation of a log, please let me know so arrangements may be made to get this task completed.

Relevant to this discussion. David is preparing certificates for OCRA and DFMA participants in Field Day. To date 42 participants have indicated their involvement. Please make certain that you have made him aware of your involvement.

Club-Wide Discussion of Field Day:
Bruce, N1LN: This was a great event. Congratulations to all participants, Laurie and I worked together. She used SSB and I was on CW. We shared a single rig and alternated modes for the entire contest. It was a wonderful opportunity for Class D stations.

Pluses for this year’s format:

  • 100 watts. This power level proved to be a great advantage for running stations—a big boost over the normal QRP efforts we made in past years.
  • Reduce the number towers, power distribution, complexity, etc that must be set-up, then torn down which is very tiring given the summer heat. More time and energy left to operate.

Minuses for this year’s format:

  • No potluck on Friday night. That get-together was important and a highlight of FD.
  • Problem solving activities associated with set up that fostered lots of valuable interactions.

Suggestions for the future: Should have lower than 9A category for the club. Too many stations and not enough operators. Should run 100 watts.

David, W4SAR: Shares Bruce’s sentiments. Misses the potluck.

Wilson. W4BOH: Enjoyed field day! Agrees with Bruce’s suggestions that we go lower than 9A and above 5 watts. Is continuing his activities with old radios and animals.

Dan, KR4UB; Enjoyed field day. Supports Bruce’s notion of less than 9A and above 5 watts for next year. Believes field day is a great medium for mentoring new members and teaching a wide variety of skills that are useful in many aspects of the hobby. Enjoyed the video conferencing that was set up for field day and was a great motivator watching Bruce, Laurie, and others working into the night. That motivation led to 287 FT-8 contacts for 1198 points total.

Nick, KA1HPM: Nick and his son (KN4QBY) worked field day together from home. Nick Jr, learned radio and they both had fun. They will both be submitting logs. They were disappointed in the logging program and did not know how a dupe sheet is supposed to be used in log submission.

Lad, W4ORD: Operated field day out of his trailer using battery power. They got a late start. A 20 meter sloper was used as an antenna which worked well on 20. 40, and 15. Solar power was used during the day. The triband beam they were planning to use fell down but new parts are being installed to make repairs.

Aurora, KN4VXB: Believes that many new hams out there want to learn about the practical aspects of the hobby such as equipment set-up, antenna installation, etc. So it is important to include them in the setting up for field day and other events. She worked hard to make a satellite contact during FD but couldn’t get through the pile ups. Between now and the next field day she will practice making satellite contacts so next time she will succeed!

Jack, KM4MBG: Enjoys the Friday night events at field day and enjoys putting together the stations and antennas.

Andy, WA4KIL: Only 15 FD log submissions have been made so far. Those still outstanding should be submitted to the ARRL ASAP!

Ken, KO4DHJ: Ken, a new ham, enjoys set up and take down in events like FD. Please keep him in the loop.

Sherry, WB4OSU: FD this year was a bit weird, but it was nice to stay in house. She made 470 points. She had to learn to configure and use N1MM for logging, but it was a good experience and worked well. Old antennas that she had previously abandoned worked well for field day. Her 5 watts seemed to work pretty well and she is looking forward to the next contest.

Doug, KA5ETS: He needs to submit his logs. 112 digital contacts were made. Good Zoom and a good time.

Dave, W4SAR: His vertical antenna was broken, but he was able to figure out how to do FT8 and had a ball using it.

Lad, W4ORD: Last year we had an outstanding caterer for the Christmas Party. If we want to use him this year we have to make a reservation and need to decide on a location. We can go ahead with that and just put it on hold until our plans solidify.

Wilson, W4BOH: Apparently the Bahai’ facility is available but our regular hall in Hillsborough would be closer. The idea of having a potluck has been floated. What do folks feel about that?

Laurie, N1YVU: Thanks to Lad and Wilson for your work and suggestions. There has been talk about the possibility of a potluck. Be assured that our members provide well-honed skills good service and great food. Plus, there is the possibility of getting them to prepare a cookbook.

Dan, KR4UB: Supports the idea of a potluck. That would also provide a better level of socialization for the event and, if the pandemic causes a last minute disruption, it will be easier to respond accordingly.

Lad, W4ORD: I can certainly support a potluck. Either way is fine with me.

Bill, N8BR: I support the idea of a potluck. The folks in this group prepare wonderful food, appetizers and desserts. Thumbs up for that!

Paul, N2XZF: I like the idea of the cookbook!

Aurora, KN4VXC: Just a reminder of her earlier announcement concerning the Fox Hunt on August 1. There will be both morning and afternoon events, and if you are interested in either one or both please let her know.

Nick, KA1HPM: Update on repeater towers in Chatham County. It turns out that the planned Moncure tower is in the approach path of the Lee County Airport. In the FAA permitting process it was determined that the original planned 350’ height can only be 270’ in height due to its location in the flight path. The search is on for alternative locations, one being the use of an existing water tank with a tower extension to achieve the desired height. More news later.

Hearing no further comments the meeting was adjourned by net control Dave, W4SAR.

Remote VE Session Methods that Hams in the Area Have Used

This article is a compilation of emails received from several new hams in the OCRA club on how they were able to obtain their amateur radio license via remote VE sessions there were available.

From Steve, now KO4EJX…

Dan,

I found the website for on-line exams thru Facebook, I think.  The site is https://hamstudy.org/.  There is a button to find a session and it tells you ff they are on line or in person.  I scrolled down until I found a session that was a) not full and b) at a time that I thought would work.  Primarily, eastern time, not pacific time!

I filled out a registration and paid the fee ($15) by pay-pal and they sent me all the info to  log into the Zoom session and a separate link for the exam.

Once the session started, 3 VE’s were on Zoom and I had to have two cameras, one on the laptop and a second on my phone or i-pad.  During the exam, I had to share my screen and have the second device muted and aimed at my hands and the computer.  Before the exam, we did a 360 around the room, under the table and everywhere else to make sure there were no notes, books or papers.  No cheating! I think that was part of the conditions to hold exams on-line.

The exam itself was on-line, click the letter with the answer and scroll down to the next one.  Once done, they graded it immediately and off we went.  The proctors were watching but turned off their video so they didn’t distract me.

I passed with 32/35 and had my call sign the next morning.  They sent the e-mail with the call sign before noon the next morning and then the FCC sent an e-mail a couple of days later.  Very easy/painless.  The main VE said in one e-mail they were using a beta exam software.  I’ll try to find his info and send it along so maybe the club can ask about that.  This was all thru the Columbia University ARC in NY.

Hope this helps and I enjoyed the meeting tonight.  Lots of fun and you guys make us newbies feel welcome!

Thanks
Steve

Here is the e-mail I received after registration for the on-line exam.    There may be several e-mails attached.  I’m not sure how this is going to forward!

STeve

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Alan Crosswell <alan+ve@columbia.edu>
Date: Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 4:12 PM
Subject: Confirmed Hamstudy registration
To:  Steve…….
Now that you’ve registered on hamstudy.org and have received your 4-digit PIN, please follow the next steps. Upon successful completion of those steps, you’ll be assigned a time slot beginning somewhere between 6:00 and 7:45 PM Eastern Time.
  1. Make sure you’ve reviewed www.w2aee.columbia.edu/video-exams and that you meet the requirements for taking the test. If you are using a Mac, make sure you set permissions in advance. (This is a new Zoom feature as of late May, 2020.)
  2. Let me know if you plan on taking more than one exam element: We will allow you to take additional exam elements if you pass earlier elements, but only if you are well prepared. There is no additional fee for additional elements but we need to know your plans so we can schedule your and other candidate’s exam sessions accordingly, since we are only able to supervise one exam at a time.
  3. Pay the registration fee by sending $15 either by Venmo, Zelle or Paypal. Failure to send payment by 48 hours before the scheduled session time will result in your session reservation being cancelled.

VENMO

Send to @Alan-Crosswell (scan the QR code below) and provide the last four digits if Venmo asks: 7124

image.jpeg

From Ken, now KO4DHJ……

Dan,

When this pandemic hit I was ready to take my test at your March 7th testing session but…… (other obligation)……I passed on in person testing.

As April rolled around I was all ready to go and every test session was being shut down. I viewed a YouTube being done by Martin Brossman and a couple of guys that had been doing remote testing for quite some time in Alaska. So I recorded all their contact info and began my quest to remote test. I already had my FRN so all I needed to do was pay for the small registration & testing fee and find a proctor to monitor me while I tested. I found my neighbor across the street who is a General Class license holder who needed to qualify and be tested to be a proctor and obtain certification as a proctor by the Anchorage VECs. Once that was accomplished we needed to pick a date. That was May 7th at 6:00PM. The proctor inspected my kitchen, my laptop, table, scratch paper and pencil. Once the area passed inspection, I logged into the testing system and once sound tests were done and all 3 remote VEs could view and hear ok, the test began. In 15 minutes, I had passed Technician Class with 88.6% correct, then they offered General Class test which after another 20 minutes, I also passed General with an 86.8%. I was congratulated and asked if I wanted to try the Extra, which I said no.  Next an email document was sent and electronically signed my signature and that I’d have my call sign within the hour!

Waited my hour, no call sign, then I got a call from the Anchorage VEC telling me congrats for passing Tech, and because my proctor was only a General, I could only get credit for Tech.  Had I taken the Extra and passed it that night and only came away with Technician, I would have been a bit upset!

The AVEC also said  it would have been better if I had someone proctor that was not affiliated with amateur radio at all. Like a doctor, lawyer, police officer, sheriff deputy and not retired but active! My next choice would have been a retired federal prosecutor from church which wouldn’t have qualified because they need to be actively employed in their field of work.

All in all a great experience and I’ll get the General retest as soon as I can get a live in person session.

Feel free to modify the text if it is too detailed or feel I forgot a key point, I’ll answer any questions you have.

Ken

OCRA/DFMA Field Day – Some Field Day Miscellany from Dave, W4SAR

Not yet the promised message on submitting your scores, that will come soon. BTW, you have a full month after Field Day ends to get your scores submitted. Instead, for this message I am adding a few more tips on Field Day operations and rules.

Test your stations, as soon as possible. Better to find out that your antenna will not load on 40 meters, or that your Digital setup is not putting out any power now, so that you have time to remedy it, rather than at the very start of Field Day itself.

Remember that if you are using the emergency power bonus, that if you are using a computer to control the radio, or using it to modulate digital modes, it is considered an integral part of your station and must be on emergency power also. On the other hand, if your laptop is used just for logging, it is considered auxiliary equipment, in which case leaving it on commercial power is fine.

If you are guest operating at another person’s station, and then going home and operating your own station, you are not allowed to contact the station at which you have worked.

All digital modes are equivalent. If you work someone on FT8, you cannot come back on PSK31 and “double-dip”.

Remember that working the same station on different bands is not a duplicate contact, neither is working a station on the same band by different modes (phone, CW, digital). i.e 5 bands X 3 modes can be 15 legal contacts with one station.

Chase the propagation, 20, 15 and 10 meters are primarily daytime bands, 40 and 80 better at night, but there is often overlap. With the solar index being bad right now, 10 meters will likely not be reliable, but be prepared for openings. If your run is slowing down on 20 meters, take a quick look at 15 or 10 meters for activity. This easier if your radio has dual VFO’s as you can look at other bands quickly and if nothing is happening, go right back to where you were working. I would also suggest that club members notify us on the email reflector of any openings they see on the bands.

Mix up your operating, you can “hunt and pounce” up and down a band, when that tails off in productivity, find a quiet spot if you can, and call CQ.

Make sure that battery is topped off, best is having another one or two topped off and ready to swap in.

For Digital communications, if you are not running QRP, 25 Watts is plenty for modes that favor weak signals such as PSK31 and FT8. Digital modes have heavy duty cycles on transmit, that heat sink will get pretty hot if you run 100 Watts. Besides, you’ll extend battery usage keeping that output power down.

Back up electronic logs frequently on a USB drive. You can back up paper logs by photographing them with your smart phone, or use the copy or scan function on a printer.

Anyone else have any tips? Reply to this message so we keep them handy in one thread.

Dave, W4SAR

_._,_._,_

OCRA/DFMA Field Day – Logging Contacts, Bonus Points, Maximizing Score

Hi All from Dave, W4SAR,

In my last post, I wrote a bit about how Field Day works, and what the information exchange consisted of. Here I will talk about recording those contacts, strategies to maximize the number of contacts, and using multipliers and bonus points to get yourself the biggest final score. My next and final message in this series will go over the submission of your final score to the ARRL.

First off, though getting the maximum score you can is the primary goal of any amateur radio competition, it is not the only goal. You need to make it an enjoyable experience for yourself, and learn a few things in the process so you can do it better later on. In other words, don’t obsess about not getting 500 QSO’s, glory in making your first contact, your 10th contact, your 100th. Hey look I just worked South Dakota! Look , I just worked N1LN on three bands! Set yourself some fun goals, and celebrate them with us. We’d love to see how you are doing on Field Day, post messages to this reflector so everyone can see each other’s accomplishments.

Now on to LOGGING:

Logging your contacts:

You need to preserve a record of the contacts you have made, your logging entries will be the exchange information of the stations you had worked, and the time you worked them. It is best to use UTC, Coordinated Universal Time, rather than local time, that avoids the problems of logs listing a variety of local time zones, in short, everyone will be on the same page for time signatures. Field Day will run from 2:00pm local time on Saturday, June 27 to 2:00 pm local time on Sunday June 28. In UTC, that translates to 1600 hours Saturday to 1600 hours Sunday.

If you are logging by computer, make sure your computer is set to the correct local time and date. Electronic logging programs have the ability, based on local time, to correctly record the entry in UTC, but you will need to check your settings to make sure that the time offset is correct.

For those of you performing paper logging, I suggest setting a digital clock to 24 hour format, and then set it to UTC.

Here is what a string of log entries should look like, it will have the time/date in UTC, callsign, station type and location of the station worked:

1601     6/27/2020      N1LN        2E      NC
1605    6/27/2020       W2LOP     5A      NNJ
1608    6/27//2020      N6HHI      1D      LAX
1611    6/27/2020       XE1L        1D      DX
1615   6/27/2020       W3AO       45A    MDC
1616   6/27/2020       VE1AA      1E      GTA

Notice that the locations are abbreviated to 2 or 3 characters. Electronic logging programs will have this standard list ready to plug in (more on that later). For paper loggers, on page 47 of the PDF packet for Field Day is a list of the ARRL/RAC sections and their standard abbreviations, I suggest printing it out for reference. There is a misconception that we may only work stations from the USA (and it’s territories) and Canada. Not so! You will notice a station from Mexico in the list above. Just mark any station outside the USA and Canada as “DX”, if they don’t provide a correct station type, just ask them if they are a home station using commercial or emergency power, and mark it down accordingly, a little bit of work, but it nets you another QSO point.

Electronic Logging:

Likely most of us will do this as it offers a number of advantages, especially when you have managed to work a few hundred contacts. Among those advantages are:

Backing up of information- most will automatically back up at set intervals, Additionally, you can backup to a USB drive as often as you like. I do this on a frequent basis just in case the laptop crashes.

Duplicate checking- When you type in the callsign, it will automatically warn you that you had already worked this station. saving you time so you can move on. If you ignore the warning, most will not let you make the entry.

Autofill- If you have already worked a station on another band/mode, when you type in the callsign it will automatically y fill in the station type and location. Again, a time saver (BTW, working the same stations on a different band or mode is not a Duplicate entry).

Statistics- If it interests you, you can see how quickly you are making contacts and see how many you are making on different bands/modes. A fun one for me is looking at the map of the USA and Canada and seeing it fill in with locations I have worked.

Report generation- I will cover this in my next posting regarding submission of final scores to the ARRL.

By far, the most popular electronic logging programs are N1MM, and N3FJP, there a few others out there , but I am not familiar with them. Those of you who are Excel capable can also like set up a spreadsheet for logging, including Duplicate checking. I will speak to the two I know:

N1MM- Probably THE most popular amateur radio logging program. It is an open-source collaboration, and the price cannot be beat, it is FREE. It is fully capable in dupe-checking and autofill and statistics, you can customize the windows, and generate a Cabrillo file for your report (again, more on that later). If you are new, there is a bit of a learning curve on using it. Bruce, N1LN, is probably our best local resource regarding the use of N1MM. He can answer questions, but with less than a week to Field Day, I don’t see us having much , if any time for a clinic on this. I you want to use it, the download is free, as are any updates. If you already have it,make sure you have the latest update before using it for FD 2020. Keep in mind that when we go back to regular Field Days as a large group, this is the program we will use.

N3FJP- I have used this one for many years, until I started learning to use N1MM for the past few years. As I am operating my station by itself, I am once again using the N3FJP Field Day Logger. It is not free, you can download and test drive it for up to 20 QSO’s, but to validate it for perpetual use, the licensing fee is quite reasonable at $8.99. The interface, in my opinion , is more user-friendly for a new user, the template is dedicated for field day . So just set your laptop correct local date and time, use the settings to input your callsign, station type, and location. Then, just plug in the info from your QSO’s as they come. The report generation id Field Day dedicated, so a summary sheet and dupe sheet can be readily generated for that final submission. I am very familiar with this program and can be a resource if anyone wants to go with it.

One other thing with these programs is to make sure to have it set for input on the same band and mode you are working (i.e. 20 M Phone , 40 M CW, etc). when you change bands or modes on your radio, be sure to match the change on your logging program, or you will have Dupes flagged incorrectly or have new QSO’s with incorrect information. I speak to this from experience.

Paper Logging;

If you just plan to casually work Field Day, and don’t plan on lots of contacts, or just plain don’t want to use a computer while working that radio, you can go old school and just do paper logging. Page 46 of the PDF for the FD information packet (downloadable from the ARRL website) has a logging template you can print out and use. Again , the info is the time of contact in UTC, callsign, station type , location, and what band and mode was used. However, you would be on your own for duplicate checking. If you have a short list, you can just scan it to see if you already worked that station. If you have gone to multiple pages, this is more difficult and time-consuming. The ARRL has not recently added the manual dupe sheet to their info packets, with so many now doing computer logging. However, I have found the old template from years past and will attach it to this message. It is a grid divided up by call sign prefixes and call zones . Just fill in the call sign suffix on the proper grid square. Now you have a quick reference you can scan for duplicates. For the final report, you will have a bit more work than most, to be covered later.

Multipliers:

Each QSO by phone that you log is 1 point, whereas QSO’s by CW or Digital modes count as two points each. Additionally , there is a multiplier applied to these based on power level used and power source. The multiplier applies to the highest power level used by that station throughout Field Day, you cannot break them down between power levels.

5X Multiplier- 5 Watts maximum output at the feedpoint for your coax AND power source other than commercial grid or fossil-fuel driven generators. By definition, this would only apply to Echo Stations (home station using emergency power), or Bravo stations if any of you are doing that. So with a 5X multiplier, each phone QSO equals 5 points, each CW or Digi QSO equals 10 points.

2X Multiplier- If your power output at the feedpoint will be between 5 and 150 watts, the 2X multiplier applies for all station types. If you are a Delta station (home station using commercial grid), your multiplier remains 2X even if you are using 5 Watts or less. Phone QSO’s equal 2 points, CW and DIGI are 4points.

1X Multiplier- Between 150 and 1500 Watts.

The multiplier is up to you, based on your capabilities and strategy. If you have really efficient antenna systems, going for 5X is an option, as that strategy is what helped our FD operation place so high in the rankings. But you will hear a lot of stations that will not hear you.

I personally plan on going with the 2X multiplier, since I only have a G5RV multiband wire antenna and a 1/4 wave vertical for 40 meter digital to use. The strategy is that I’d make more then 2.5 X the number of contacts at this power level to make up the difference from a 5X multiplier at QRP levels.

As for the 1X  level, they will be heard! When the lights brown out in Orange County, that is Bruce and Laurie keying down.

Bonus points;

In addition to QSO points, there are bonus points to add to the score (multipliers do not apply to these). The information packet goes into detail on these, I will just do a quick run-through on those that apply to home stations (Deltas and Echoes).

Emergency Power- 100 point bonus for each transmitter using emergency power only for entirety of Field Day (100 points for one transmitter, 200 for two, and so on).
Media Publicity- sending out a notice to news media about your station. You need to retain a copy of the press release and who you contacted for documentation, document any media response. 100 points
Message Origination to Section Manager- report on your station , number of personnel, ARES personnel. Must be sent via RF. 100 points.
Message Handling- 10 points for each message sent through traffic nets, up to 100 points.
Alternate Power- at least 5 QSO’s made using anything other than direct power or battery power derived from the commercial power grid or fossil fuel driven generators. Examples are solar panels, batteries charged solely by solar panels, manually driven generators, fuel cells etc. Document which QSO’s in your log were done vis Alternate power.100 points
W1AW Field Day Bulletin- These are generated by phone, CW and digital modes. Copy must be submitted for documentation. See the ARRL FD Info packet for the schedule. Personally, I use PSK 31 to copy the message, and then cut and paste it into a Notepad file for documentation. If you go by phone, try to record it for transcription. Tip- The bulletin is first put out on the Friday evening before FD itself, it is a good time to catch it and it is perfectly within the rules to do so. 100 points
Elected Official- If you can get one to come to your QTH, document it. 100 points.
Served Agency Official- A visit to your QTH by any representative of an agency served by ARES, these include Emergency Management, American Red Cross, Municipal Fire Departments. 100 points
Youth Participation- 20 points for each operator 18 years of age or younger at your station, up to 100 points total. You must document Name or Call sign and age of each youth op, and document which QSO’s are theirs on your log (at least one QSO for each).
Web Submission- Using the ARRL’s web interface to submit your final score (details later). 50 points.

Other bonus points are available only to Class A, B and F stations. Unfortunately, the 100 point Satellite contact bonus does not apply to home stations. But you do get the hugest of bragging rights.

I will add the ARRL Field Day Info Packet and the Dupe Sheet template to the files section of this IO group. I can also email those directly to anyone that requests them.

Okay, my next and last message will go over the final submission of scores, and maybe a few more operating tips. Stay tuned.

73,

Dave Snyder, W4SAR

_._,_._,_

OCRA/DFMA Field Day Operating Tips

Hi All from Dave, W4SAR

So pleased to see so many of us will be participating in Field Day this year, despite the fact that for safety’s sake, the two clubs cannot run the usual top-ranking mega-operation. In stead most of us will operate out of our homes, but as part of your score submission, you can still declare your club affiliation which will allow us to show an aggregate club score. I will talk about logging contacts and score submission on a separate posting.

Here , I will tell you a bit about how Field Day works, and some tips from a number of us who have operated over the years, to help make your participation more enjoyable.

First off, Field Day is a bit different than most contests. As a matter of fact, The ARRL officially does not call it a contest, it is a very big disaster drill involving all of the United States and Canada. No prizes for high scorers, just bragging rights. Although our fantastic joint club operation got us as high as #2 in the total rankings, the real contest has always been with ourselves, can we outdo what we did the year before? In most cases, we did, and we have learned how to make our stations more efficient as a result.

So, how do I take part in Field Day?

THE EXCHANGE-

In most contests, stations make a quick exchange of information, usually callsigns, locations , signal reports, possibly a listing number.

For Field Day , the exchange is very simple: CALLSIGN, STATION TYPE , LOCATION.

You will note there is no signal report , if you can hear them well enough to exchange info, that is enough. (It is amusing to hear on other contests things like “What is your callsign…again… again…got it, you are 5X9!)

CALLSIGN – Yours if you are using your own station. If you are a guest operator, then use the control operator’s callsign

STATION TYPE: For a full run down, look at the Field Day rules. either online or download the PDF. For most of us , we will be either “DELTA” stations, or “ECHO” stations
DELTA- A home station using commercial power. A rule waiver this year allows Delta stations to work *all* stations, under the usual rules, Deltas could not work other Deltas.
ECHO- A home station using emergency power. You may use batteries (not recharged by commercial power during FD), generators, solar panels. Echo stations continue to work everybody.

The other part of station type is a number indicating the number of transmitters that can put out a signal at the same time. So if you are a Delta station with only one radio , you will be a “One Delta”. If you are an Echo station that is running two transmitters at the same time, you will be a “Two Echo”. I noticed some confusion regarding number of operators, that is irrelevant for the exchange information. Whether you have one operator for all of Field Day, or have 20 operators rotating in for relief, your “One Delta” will stay “One Delta”.

Lastly, your location is part of the exchange, which will be either the ARRL Section, or RAC section for Canadian stations. For us it will be “North Carolina”.

So I will give you examples of an exchange by both Phone  and by CW/Digi.

By Phone:
My station – “Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo, One Echo, North Carolina”
Other Station, “Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo, this is Kilo Three Zulu Papa, Two Delta, Eastern Pennsylvania”
My Station- “Kilo Three Zulu Papa from Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo,  I copy Two Delta Eastern Pennsylvania, Thanks and 73”

By CW or Digital:

My Station: “W4SAR 1E NC”
Other Station: “W4SAR DE K3ZP PSE COPY 2D EPA”
My Station: “K3ZP DE  W4SAR  QSL 2D EPA, TU and 73”

Both stations have exchanged the necessary info and have politely moved on. Depending on who you talk to, it may be even more terse or more wordy.

Now some operating tips:

You may work the same station on different bands and different modes. For Example I can work K3ZP on 80, 40 and 20 meters by phone. I can also work him on 20 meters alone by phone, CW and Digital modes. Do note that Digital contacts only may be done once , by whatever method is used. You can’t work someone on FT8 and then work them again on PSK31,only one digital contact is allowed.

Have a comfortable chair, you can operate longer with good back support.

If a lot of people are working a station you are trying to get, move down the band and work one without so much competition, you can get back to them later when the big guns have moved on.

Even if they sound in the clear, if a station does not respond to you after three tries, move on and try again later. The propagation may improve in the meantime and then they may hear you, this is especially true if you are running QRP (5 Watts max).

Mix it up, I usually “hunt and pounce” running up and down the band and calling to stations I hear, but occasionally stop in a clear zone and call CQ for them to come to me.

Just have fun with it, take breaks and let other operators relieve you. If you are operating solo, take breaks and be sure to eat and stay hydrated.

Keep an eye on the weather, if thunderstorms are approaching, shut down your station and disconnect the antenna feed line until the storms are well past.

Listen on different bands for activity, even ones not likely to be productive. At FD’s past, even with poor solar indices, occasionally 10 meters had productive openings.

Jus plain have fun with it!

In my next post, I will talk a bit more about logging your exchanges, ways to maximize your score, bonus points you can catch, final score submission.

73,

Dave, W4SAR

_._,_._,_

OCRA General Membership Over the Air Meeting June 10,2020

In compliance with The State of North Carolina’s revised health requirements for preventing the spread of Corvid-19, this meeting could not assemble at our normal gathering place in Efland, NC. Instead it was replaced by a virtual event that made use of the 442.150MHz repeater and ZOOM. This novel functional linking together of a club repeater with Zoom, a popular and widely used video conferencing platform, made it possible for all members of the club to both attend and participate in a virtual meeting. The club gives its special thanks to Dan, KR4UB, our treasurer/website manager, and Mark, KR3AM for spearheading and providing continuing support for this initiative.

MEETING (7:30 PM): The meeting was convened at 7:30 P.M. by club president David W4SAR. The check-in process proceeded smoothly. Callsigns from 32 stations attending stations were recognized.

Introductory Announcements:

  1. Dan KR4UB: We currently have 105 members on the club roster, 75 of which have paid up dues. In addition, new apps have been placed on the club website. One of these is for Zoom conferencing. The club has purchased a site license to use this product
  1. David W4SAR: The club is looking for ways to continue offering its program of volunteer-administered license testing for members in the wake of the pandemic. One approach to solving this problem might be to search out opportunities for collaboration with other clubs to accomplish this important function remotely in a shared fashion. David also reaffirmed that the club will continue to practice social distancing in all of its activities. .

Discussion:

  1. David W4SAR: The main topic for this meeting is to discuss how the club’s participation in field day will be impacted by the recent rule changes proposed and adopted for the event by the ARRL. Before launching that discussion It is important to recall that the rule changes were made to encourage and allow broadened participation of League members and clubs from their home stations rather than stations grouped together in a “field” setting which has traditionally been the desired format. In fact, in past years club rules have dictated that participating stations operating from their homes and obtaining power from commercial mains (Category “D” stations) could only earn contact points for exchanges with traditional non-D stations operating in the field. The new rules recently placed in effect only for field day 2020 permit category ”D” stations to work and earn contact points through exchanges with all other categories of stations participating in the event.
  1. Questions and Comments from Membership

This section contains a synopsis of the commentary offered by club members following David’s introduction.

  1. Wilson W4BOH – Offered operating space to anyone wishing to set up a station at his home. This kind offer is a continuation of Wilson’s generous hosting of the field day operations for OCRA and DFMA members for many years.
  2. Howie WA4PSC – Offered to provide an Elecraft KX3 for someone needing an HF rig for SSB or CW operation in the contest.
  3. Aurora KN4VXB — Announced her interest in making satellite contacts during Field day. She would like to work with others to build a station capable of doing that. One of her planned projects is to build a tape measure antenna for satellite work.
  4. Bill N8BR – Offered the use of his IC7300 for someone needing an HF rig for CW or SSB operation during the contest.
  5. Bruce N1LN – Offered suggestions on how the club might best organize its overall effort during this year’s revised event. Historically speaking field day efforts involving DFMA / OCRA groups during past years have been highly coordinated. Stations for each band have been planned, organized, equipped, set-up and staffed under the tutelage of a Band captain who has overseen its operation throughout the entire weekend event, and ultimately helped our club president in the preparation of a composite club log for submission to the ARRL. However, the operation we are contemplating for this year is comprised of a group of autonomous stations separated by relatively long distances each focused on earning as many points as possible in a contest effort for which many of us have little experience. There are no band captains to organize operators, attend to equipment needs, design and set up stations for individual bands, or coordinate logging. Many of us may be very good operators but are lacking in the knowledge or equipment needed to get the whole job done. To help to alleviate some of these issues I am volunteering to contact those of you planning to operate in FD to determine any equipment needs you may have or special assistance you may need to get your planned operations up and running. That information will be posted on the club website. We also need to know what resources you might have available to help others participate more effectively in this effort. Please note that we have only about 2 weeks to not only get our planning done but to implement it as well.
  6. David W4SAR: As a point of clarification, logging for field day operations this year will be done and submitted to the ARRL on an individual basis by each participating category D station wishing to contribute to a club score. Please study the current rules for field day and procedures for submitting logs found at ARRL.org or on your club website. In order for your QSO’s to count toward our combined club score please indicate your affiliation with OCRA/DFMA when you submit your log.

After a number of closing comments the meeting adjourned at 9:17 PM.

Bill N8BR/s

OCRA-DFMA Fox Hunt – Aug. 1 2020 – Save the Date!

Fellow Hams,

I had a good response to my survey and both the on-foot and vehicle based fox hunt events are a go. Thanks so much to everyone who responded!
I am happy to announce that there is one day that works for all interested participants.

Mark your calendars for August 1 for the OCRA-DFMA fox hunt event. For those of you who indicated interest in making or loaning transmitters, I will be in contact soon.

Best,

Aurora (KN4VXB)

Communications for coordination during the  August 1st Saturday Fox Hunt will be held on the OCRA 442.150 repeater.  Further details will be posted.