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:
- 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.
- Members should not use repeater or zoom time to test station function. That task should be performed before signing on to the net.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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