OCRA Board Meeting, February 26, 2018

Attendees:

Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Wilson (W4BOH), Steve (W3AHL), Dan (KR4UB), Keith (W1KES)

Treasurer Report:  Balance is still strong, current membership is 77 active members.

Tower Report

Tower Engineering provided a quote to complete the drawings, gain state approval, and install the antenna.  However, the quote is cost prohibited for the club.  Dan (KR4UB) and Steve (W3AHL) will schedule time with UNC to discuss a possible cost sharing arrangement.

Meeting Development and Membership Encouragement

 Meeting development and membership encouragement is a primary focus this year.  As expressed in the last Membership meeting, and again in this Board meeting, we are seeking ideas on how to improve the meeting experience.  Below are a list of suggestions and actions being taken to enhance our membership meetings.  We encourage members to provide feedback and get involved.

Amateur Radio Club Development is based on establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationship.  We encourage members to get involved in the club.  If you have interests, skills, or experiences you wish to share with new hams, or the general membership, please let any of the Board members know.

Suggestions and Actions:

  • Keith (W1KES) contact the Chapel Hill High School to begin discussing presenting Amateur Radio to the Physics class.
  • John (KX4P) will be facilitating our next meeting program. The topic should be finalized later this month.
  • Kurt (N2PCC) is working with published schematics to build his own 40 meter Benson small meter. Once complete he is willing to be program topic.
  • Dan (KR4UB) is installing software to the NCOCRA blog that will allow members to add pictures directly to the blog.
  • Dave (W4SAR) is establishing an Elmer resource pool. After Membership introductions, we need to ask if there are questions, or if anyone needs assistance.  If so, we can assign an Elmer to assist.
  • Wilson (W4BOH) has offered his barn for wheel chair accessible for Field Day. The barn has a concrete floor and would be more wheel chair friendly than the grass.
  •  The board suggested scheduling a portable station at a local park to provide a demonstration and educate new hams and the public to the wonderful world of amateur radio.

Dave (W4SAR) will take the suggestions above and those offered at the last membership meeting to develop a plan, which he will communicate at the next membership meeting.

We want to hear from you.  Please provide a suggestions by replying to this post.  73

Springtime at Virlie’s

Springlike weather coaxed eight hams out of their shacks for the weekly breakfast and kaffeeklatsch at Virlie’s Restaurant in Pittsboro this past Saturday. If Spring was in the air, so were tales of LDE’s (Long Delayed Echoes). Nick, KA1HPM and John, KX4P were in a roundtable on 75 meters when they experienced delays of around 1 second on the signals of several of the participants. The phenomenon lasted for about thirty seconds per occurrence. One of the most popular extant theories is that signals are trapped between two ionized layers and are guided around the world several times before falling out of a hole in the bottom layer.

Roy, WA2JLW, loaded up some N1MM contest software and enjoyed playing in the ARRL DX CW contest the previous weekend.

Terry, KK4JGT, has organized our first emergency communications coverage test for Chatham County this Monday evening on the OCRA 440 repeater which the OCRA crew has generously allowed us to use during emergencies and training. Terry also described his copper pipe dual band J pole.

Bill, N8BR, had a motherboard crash, but retrieved the hard drive intact. He is working on also retrieving his old log files from that drive.

Dave, W4INN, is getting into the swing of spring by planning to do some gardening.

Pete, K4PHS, brought his newly constructed 30 meter WSPR beacon. Transmitting with 1 watt and a dipole in the attic, it has been received in Europe and Antarctica.

Herb, N4HA, hopes he’ll figure out how to program his new HT before the repeater test Monday evening.

Please join us for radio fun Saturday mornings at Virlie’s Restaurant in Pittsboro around 8:30 AM.

Herb, N4HA

NC QSO Party – Sunday February 25, 2018

NC QSO PARTY 2018 (2/25) – The NC QSO Party 2018 will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2018, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST. For further information, see http://ncqsoparty.org/  This year marks the 48th anniversary of this great event.

The South Carolina QSO Party is held on Saturday, February 24 from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM EST. http://scqso.com/

Complete details, rules, categories and county activity may be found on the new NCQP website, www.ncqsoparty.org With 146 counties between the two states, these events are a county hunter’s dream. There are 22 operating categories, each one eligible for beautiful trophies and attractive certificates with some special prizes, including this year’s Spelling Bee. You don’t have to be an avid contester to enjoy these operating events. There is no shortage of casual operators participating, which make these QSO parties very enjoyable for all. Many regulars really look forward to the challenge of chasing our many mobile Op’s, as they travel from county to county in both states, racking up multipliers.

The NCQP continues to grow every year. Whether you operate Phone, CW or Digital, get on the air and have some fun. The North Carolina QSO Party is sponsored by the Raleigh Amateur Radio Society (RARS). … Thanks to Marc Sullivan, W4MPS, NCQP Log Analyst, for providing this information! (sources: NC QSO Party website, W4MPS) ——————————————————————–

ARRL North Carolina Section Section Manager: Karl F Bowman, W4CHX w4chx@arrl.org

OCRA Membership Meeting, February 12, 2018

 Introductions:

Suggestion was given to shorten introductions to just name, call sign, and location.  This would reduce the overall meeting time.  However, we want to encourage new people to talk about their experience and interests.

New hams will receive a free year membership to OCRA.  This is a great deal that we need to market better.

Treasurer:

Strong financial balance with 70 currently paid members.

Website:

Dan (KR4UB) has added a new document repository on the site.  We encourage members to post radio related documents that would benefit the membership. Likewise, if there are informative amateur radio YouTube videos, please post a link.  Our intention is to make our Website a great starting points and interactive resource for sharing ideas, experiences, and events.

Similarly, Google calendar is now on the site.  Under the “Events” section, located on the top ribbon, you can keep informed about when and where Membership and Board meetings, local nets, public service opportunities.

Repeaters:

Dan (KR4UB) and Steve (W3AHL) are working to get a quote to determine the feasibility for re-establish the repeaters back on the UNC campus.

ARES/Public Service:

Steve’s (W3AHL) recently has been absence on Saturday morning nets due to other public service commitments.  Mark your calendars now, the Tar Heel 10 Miler will occur April 21. Please clear your schedule and get your HT ready!

Dave (W4SAR) is near the top ranking of VE sessions participation in the Roanoke region. Thank you Dave for your years of commitment.

RARS Fest:

 Dee (KU4GC) requested and the Treasure approved expenditure to support 2 tables. This is a great opportunity to part with old equipment and purchase new, and add dollars to the club coffers.

Mission and Membership:

The OCRA club was established in the early 1990’s when life was technically simpler.  With the advent of competing technology provided by the Internet and cell phones, the role of amateur radio has changed.  This year, the Club is embarking on a discussion to revisit our Mission statement and discuss how we can enhance the Membership experience.

With the club beginning to age out, how do encourage new membership, increase active participation, and prepare for succession planning?  These are questions we seek answers to sustain trained hams for community service, promote the fraternal aspects of radio, and encourage technical outreach.

During this Membership meeting, many people raised questions, voiced concerns, and offer suggestions to improve club participation and amateur radio awareness in the area.  We truly appreciate the engagement and discussion.  Below are some of the salient points that were raised and will be discussed in future meetings.

  • The role of ARES and Auxiliary Communication has changed over the past several decades with increased consolidation and redundant infrastructure. What and how can we leverage these roles in OCRA?
  • How do we foster more relevancy with newer hams?
  • Chatham County Emergency Management has expressed interest in establishing an amateur radio CERT team. The 442.15 repeater is ideally located to support this effort.
  • Increase “hands on” programming to learn about lightning surge suppression, antenna building, and grounding.
  • Show and Tell makes for good programming. We have many DIY hams that engage in educational and fun development projects, which make for a good program.
  • Explore amateur radio in local high schools as an introduction during a class room and/or sustained activity with a station.
  • Establish a group build activity (QST project) where hams meet for a day or two to construct an antenna, or create various types of feedline.
  • Cross pollenate amateur radio with other local groups or clubs, like Linux club. Many hams use Linux in the shack.  Perhaps this becomes a cooperative topic for those interested in combining amateur radio with computers.
  • Park the MCU at a mall for a day. This would provide us an educational opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the continuum of amateur radio activities like satellites, repeaters, DX, etc.
  • Establish a bi-monthly agenda that repeats each year. The 5-6 agendas would be an annual topic .

What other ideas do you have?  Please be sure to “reply” to this post.  We look forward to hearing from you!

February 12th Meeting – The Program is You!

Our next monthly meeting will be held 7:00pm Monday at the Efland Baha’i Center.

The program is…You! I believe our club is at a crossroads, times and situations have changed since the founding of the club over 25 years ago. At our recent board meeting, concerns were raised that the long-term core membership is aging out, some of us have worked hard over many years and want to avoid burn-out. The greatest concern perhaps, is assuring a succession of the club to newer generations of hams, and the passing on of the club’s knowledge base and technical ability to keep the repeaters running, and to keep a pool of trained communicators available for public service and emergencies in our area. We don’t want to see a malaise and decline set in, but want the club to be fun and vibrant.

So let’s have a serious discussion, we want to hear from you what can be done to revitalize the club. Are changes needed? What can we do to build a technical pool? What engaging, fun things can we get into?

We already have Field Day, probably the single biggest group project we engage in (with the DFMA).
Can we get teams for other contests as well?
What hands-on “clinics” would you like?
What presentations would you like best?

It is your club, tell us what you like about it, what is not working, what you would want to see done.

73,

Dave, W4SAR

OCRA Board Meeting, January 28, 2018

Attendance:

Steve (W3AHL), Lad (W4ORD), Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dan (KR4UB), Wilson (W4BOH), Keith (W1KES)

Topics:

  • Thanks to Wilson for hosting the meeting at his home.
  • Keith will reach out to Chapel Hill High School to explore the possibility of introducing students to the hobby.

Treasury

73 membership dues are current and an appropriate reserve balance is in our accounts.

For 2017 our expenditures exceeded income by $457. The largest contributor to our negative balance was the purchase of the extra repeater, which was a great value for the price.

Repeater

The 442.150 MHz repeater currently has limited usage. Steve (W3AHL) mentioned that resident’s of Chatham county would be interested in establishing a local CERT. The Board would support the usage of the repeater for CERT and encourage the residents to focus on developing the team. Similarly, the Board encourages OCRA members to join and support ARES, which is a great way for new hams to become familiar with equipment and techniques.

What questions, technical or procedural, would you like answered? Let us know.