OCRA Board Meeting, April 24, 2017

The minutes of the 4/24 Board Meeting were approved at the 5/29 Board Meeting

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The OCRA Board met on Monday, April 24th at Mike Carwile’s QTH.Attendees: Dee Ramm KU4GC (Board Member), MK Ramm W4MKR, Lad Carrington W4ORD (Board Member), Keith Stouter W1KES (Board Member), Mike Carwile KK4BPH (Board Member), Dan Eddleman KR4UB (Treasurer/Repeater Manager), Joel Dunn KM4NOU (Secretary), Dave Snyder W4SAR (President/Field Day Coordinator), Karen Snyder KD4YJZ (Vice President).

The first order of business was the Officers reports. Karen KD4YJZ gave the VP update. For the May meeting, the primary topic is Field Day, as is the June meeting. For the July meeting, we will have a Skywarn presentation.

Joel KM4NOU, Secretary, presented the minutes from the 3/27 Board Meeting for approval, and they were approved with corrections. We are still looking for members with an interest in content creation. Lad and Keith expressed and interest in accounts, and Joel will set them up.

Dan KR4UB, Treasurer, reported that we had a total of 65 members with dues current and that we maintain an appropriate reserve balance in our accounts. Annual insurance is a significant payment that is coming due.

Dan KR4UB, wearing his Repeater Manager hat, gave a repeater update and said that we are still working with UNC for the Neurosciences repeater.

For RARSFest, Dee KU4GC reported that the club earned $447 (net of the $36 table fee).

Dave W4SAR gave the President’s report. The main topic was Field Day.  We are currently an 8A operation rather than a 9A. We are exploring splitting the 40 and 15 phone stations. The key is the total number of stations operational, but they do not have to operate continuously, nor do they all have to be operational simultaneously, so we should be able to get to a 9A operation. The group had extensive discussions around the various options. Additionally, we are pursuing various bonus point opportunities, as this can really make a difference in score. We are pursuing satellite operations (Tucker McGuire W4FS). Also, we are working on several options for elected officials. For ongoing education bonus, a key is who the target is. We talked about Boy Scouts. Lad W4ORD will contact a Durham troop, and Joel KM4NOU will check on Orange County troops. We also discussed the possibility of traffic passing, but this is still aspirational.

LAD W4ORD asked Dee KU4GC for his spreadsheet of how much food to buy, and Dee said he’d get this. In addition, Lad asked Dee about his 10×20 tent, and Dee confirmed he had that. From DFMA, Don KE4UVJ will be bringing ice.

We discussed the importance of getting youth operators (do not have to be licensed, can operate under supervision). We also discussed personal preparedness, and Dave W4SAR said he would put this would put this on the blog, in his role as Safety Chair.

 

We adjourned at 8:00PM

OCRA Board Meeting, March 27, 2017

The minutes of the 3/27 Board Meeting were approved at the 4/24 Board Meeting

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The OCRA Board met on Monday, March 27th at Mike Carwile’s QTH.

Attendees: Dee Ramm KU4GC (Board Member), MK Ramm W4MKR, Lad Carrington W4ORD (Board Member), Keith Stouter W1KES (Board Member), Mike Carwile KK4BPH (Board Member), Dan Eddleman KR4UB (Treasurer/Repeater Manager), Joel Dunn KM4NOU (Secretary), Dave Snyder W4SAR (President/Field Day Coordinator), Karen Snyder KD4YJZ (Vice President), Steve Ahlbom W3AHL (Board Member/OC ARES EC) and Sherri Rapp WB4OSU (Board Member).

The first order of business was the Officers reports.

Dan KR4UB, Treasurer, reported that we had a total of 68 members with dues current and that we maintain an appropriate reserve balance in our accounts.

Joel KM4NOU, Secretary, presented the minutes from the 2/27 Board Meeting for approval, and they were approved with corrections.

Dan KR4UB, wearing his Repeater Manager hat, gave a repeater update and said that we are still waiting for drawings on the UNC-CH Neurosciences repeater, which Michael North KK4EIB is working on.

For RARSFest, Dee KU4GC reported that he may have the ICOM 706 sold. Dee also emphasized that doors open Friday at 12 noon for setup, with open setup until 10PM. Then, it is open for setup at 6AM on Saturday.

Steve W3AHL gave the ARES report. He needs volunteers for the two upcoming running events on 4/2 and on 4/22. Volunteer participation has been low, and he will have to trim the number of stations manned without additional participation.

Dave W4SAR gave the President’s report. He worked on title page of the Yahoo group, which he found he could change without affecting archives. He has added DFMA to title page reflecting the joint focus of the group. We also discussed the NCOCRA website, and making it more interesting. Joel KM4NOU will work on getting pictures in a rotation on the banner.

The main topic was Field Day. Dave W4SAR said that we would have 9A battery operation, with 2 digital stations. The 10M team won’t do phone. Dave will put out a blog post summarizing Field Day prep so far. We need to work on the food plan, and may break out food planning from beverage and ice planning.

Additionally, on Field day, we are looking for ways to get bonus points, and will review opportunities for continuous education and traffic passing. Joel KM4NOU mentioned that he would reach out to Shakori District BSA to see if anyone was interested in youth participation or education, for an introduction to radio.

N1MM will be used for logging this year, and at the April 10th member meeting, we will have a presentation on using the Zoom videoconferencing software, which will be used for training by Bruce Meier N1LN.

There was additional discussion about grounding the Field Day operation from Dan KR4UB and Steve W3AHL. Steve also asked about using Elecraft equipment for all stations; it looks like we do have enough transceivers to make that happen.

We adjourned at 7:56PM

OCRA Monthly Meeting, April 2017

The OCRA meeting for March was held on Monday, April 10, and was well attended with 25  operators and two CERT volunteers in attendance.  introductions and roundtable.

We started with the usual monthly introductions and roundtable.

Then, we had the Treasurer’s report from Dan KR4UB. We have 68 members paid at this point in time. Dan also said that we should all contact our NC General Assembly to include an amateur radio exemption in legislation currently under consideration (Dan posted an update after the meeting).

Secretary Joel KM4NOU encouraged all to contribute to the website in their areas of expertise. Contact Joel for an account if you are interested.

Dee KU4GC reported that preparations for RARSFest on 4/15 were well underway, and he implored members working at the table to keep documentation on what was sold, but also to volunteer to help!

Steve W3AHL gave the ARES report. While we had problems filling our slots for the “Not So Normal Run,” all volunteer slots for the Tarheel 10-miler are full, for this community service event. Steve also introduced our CERT guests.

Dan KR4UB, wearing his repeater hat, said that we are still working on the the UNC Neurosciences installation, and right now we owe UNC some drawings, on which we are working.

Dave W4SAR gave the President’s report, which focused on Field Day.  He explained that Field Day is a combination disaster drill and contest, and that our club (partnering with DFMA) was #3 of 1,500 clubs entering nationwide! He said we are still fine tuning the bands and working with Band Captains, but should have as many as last year. We are working on a wireless networking installation that will allow communication among logging stations but which will not create RFI. John KM4MDR is coordinating the pot luck, Lad W4ORD is running the Sunday grill, and we’ll be getting help from DFMA (Noble Phelps N4UOQ) for Saturday. Dave is still working to try to make sure we can get as many bonus points as possible. Joel KM4NOU reached out to County Commissioner Barry Jacobs, who has tentatively agreed to visit. See Dave’s April post on Field Day for more information.

For the program, Joel KM4NOU presented the Zoom videoconferencing tool, and turned things over to Bruce N1LN to describe how training on the N1MM software to be used for Field Day will be managed using Zoom.

Attending:

W4MKR – MK Ramm
KU4GC – Dee Ramm
Cert Volunteer – Ken Morgan
Cert Volunteer – Tom Milledge
KA5JUJ – Martin Brody
KD4YJZ – Karen Snyder
N4ZAK – Robert Little
KM4LBW – Chris Florio
N2XZF – Paul Robertson
WA4HHR – Dewey Thompson
Kw4KZ – Chuck Anoia
W1KES – Keith Stouder
N1LN – Bruce Meier
W4BOH – Wilson Lamb
KG4NEL – Jim Jingozian
K4TY – Charles Battig
KB4BM – Rose-Marie Battig
WA4PSC – Howie Hoyt
W3AHL – Steve Ahlbom
W4KIL – Andy Yates
N8BR – Bill Bischoff
W4ORD – Lad Carrington
KW4XL – David Vielbaum
NA4VY – Dave Belt
KR4UB – Dan Eddlemon
KM4NOU – Joel Dunn

 

OCRA Board Meeting, February 27, 2017

The minutes of the 2/27 meeting were approved unanimously at the 3/27 board meeting.

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The OCRA Board met on Monday, February 27th at Mike Carwile’s QTH. This was the first meeting since the 2017 elections, with new VP Karen Snyder KD4YJZ, new Secretary Joel Dunn KM4NOU, and new Board member Lad Carrington W4ORD attending as members.

Attendees: Dee Ramm KU4GC (Board Member), MK Ramm W4MKR (Board Member), Lad Carrington W4ORD (Board Member), Keith Stouter W1KES (Board Member), Mike Carwile KK4BPH (Board Member), Dan Eddleman KR4UB (Treasurer), Joel Dunn KM4NOU (Secretary), Dave Snyder W4SAR (President), Karen Snyder KD4YJZ (Vice President), and Mike North KK4EIB (Board Member).

The first order of business was the Officers reports.

Dan KR4UB reported that we had a total of 72 members with dues current and that we maintain an appropriate reserve balance in our accounts. Dan also explained how he managed Quicken record keeping for individual members, couple members, and family memberships. He then described the process of exporting the Quicken data to the new website database, and passed the presentation to Joel KM4NOU to show.

Joel KM4NOU gave a presentation of the website database, which is developed using the Participants Database plugin. We are developing the ability to allow members to maintain certain information themselves. Joel showed a new membership list page, which allows sorting and selection and is easier to read! Additionally, Joel and Dan both showed how easy it is to post to the website by an authorized user (member accounts need board approval), and Joel created an account for President Dave!

Michael KK4EIB gave a repeater update, and reported that the we have three of the four brackets needed for the repeater on UNC-CH Neurosciences, but still need to buy one for $120. He also has Autocad drawings which will be annotated to show the hardware for the OCRA installation. Howie Hoyt WA4PSC who has previously done an installation on campus, showed the drawings he prepared that were accepted by UNC-CH.

We confirmed that we would have two tables at RarsFest, and Dee KU4GC will make sure that we have this arranged. Dave W4SAR said that he has an ICOM 706 for the table (that was a donation some years back to OCRA) and Dee said he has another 706 for the table. We need to ensure that the membership at large knows that we have these tables for displaying merchandise. We will also be represented at Durhamfest.

Lad W4ORD brought up a concern that if the membership votes to participate in events, that they should understand that this comes with a commitment to volunteer. He asked the officers to stress this when the club committed to volunteer activities.

We had preliminary discussions about Field Day. Dee KU4GC will no longer be coordinating food plans, but he will share the 10-15 years of historical information that he has. Dave W4SAR said that it was important to get a food committee started at the next member meeting, to allow sufficient time for planning. John Boone KM4MDR has already agreed to plan the Pot Luck dinner.

We adjourned at 8:15PM

March 20th, 2017 – Monday Night 10 Meter Net Notes

Joel KM4NOU, filled in for Bruce N1LN as Net Control.

Joel reported that he’d had a nice weekend visiting his son and family in Centreville, VA.  Grandma always likes to visit the granddaughter, Sierra, who is now 10 months old! Joel took his radio and portable antenna with him and was able to participate in the Virginia QSO party as a Virginia station.

KZ1X (Steve) – a little DXing; some antennae problems

KR4UB (Dan) – administrivia, working on taxes, first pass thru; needs to work on DMFA club minutes (this prompted Joel to remember that he needed to work on OCRA meeting minutes!)

KU4GC (Dee) – confirmation on Thailand, new country; DMFA board coming up; visit to the Egg and I; some power supply problems

KJ4UZU (Clint) – new country on 80, French Polynesia on JT65; a couple of new countries on 80M; looking forward to the weekend contests; worked Ivory Coast on 80M;

W3AHL (Steve) – Been a while since he was on the 10M net; some time working on the tower today, cranked it up today; spent several hours working on ICOM HT; shack computer wouldn’t power up so has to work on that;

KA1HPM (Nick) – with contests over the weekend, enjoyed contesting and some DX; working on digital interface for JT65; heading to Nags Head in May, working on the rig for traveling;

KX4P (John) – using old Collins running barefoot, glad to be heard. Still working on 100 countries confirmed digital (stuck at 99);

KG4NNT (James) – in and out on the second list;

W4BOH (Wilson) – Reporting from the Land of Magic; Working on an old amp, fixed power supply; went out to local greasy spoon for dinner; Some DXing, got Ivory Coast, etc.

We had a total of 10 stations, including KM4NOU as Net Control.

OCRA Monthly Meeting, March 2017

The OCRA meeting for March was held on Monday, March 13, and was well attended with 31 operators in attendance! Always fun to hear the introductions and roundtable.

We started with an update from Steve on ARES. He has built and relocated cables in the emergency communications radio room, so they are ready for use. Additionally, he reported that classes are being offered during the first week of May for DHS emergency communications, ICS protocols, and AUXCOMM. Steve said:

  • The classes offered below are excellent opportunities, with the AUXCOMM course being the most useful for Amateur Radio operators with an ARES/AUXCOMM interest.  Note that to obtain certification, there is a task book requiring you demonstrate your understanding and ability to perform the tasks, witnessed  by a qualified supervisor.  Which is how critical training should be conducted!  You have about two years to complete the task book signoff, although many of the tasks can probably be completed during the Exercise on May 5th.
  • Note that prerequisites are:  completion of IS-100, 200, 700 & 800 courses; a General class license or above; experience with auxiliary communications and a desire to learn how to work with a COML in a NIMS/ICS environment.

See his email of March 13 for detailed information on how to sign up.

Dan presented the Treasurer’s report, including a discussion about the new membership processes. We have the new membership list on the website; dues updates will be posted to this list every two weeks. Dan also reported as repeater coordinator that the 442.15 repeater will be used for upcoming special events (see the website for information). He also reported that RARS is redoing their website, with a new location to sign up for public service events. OCRA leadership will be looking at ways we can also leverage online event signup.

Dee reiterated that we have a total of 4 tables for DFMA and OCRA at the upcoming RARSFest. Jack reported that we do need volunteers to help with DurHAMFest.

Joel and Dan gave a presentation on the member database on the new website, including the ability to collect information on member interests and make this available for search and filtering. We will be expanding our use of this database as we discover other things we want to collect and manage. Dan emphasized that we are doing this with security and privacy in mind, using HTTPS for data transmission.

Dave led a discussion about preliminary field day planning. He had previously posted a message about this, but emphasized that the clock was running and we needed to start detailed planning as we are only 3 months out. Getting band captains identified is critical! Bruce will be organizing CW, Lad will do 20 phone, Adriano will do 40 phone, we’ll run 10 and 15 together. John and Dave will be working on digital modes, and Jack will do a VHF station. A major change will be use of a common logging program, N1MM. Bruce will lead a training session on this. Joel suggested using the Zoom communication program for an online training session, and all agreed that this was a good idea.  Joel volunteered to do a presentation on Zoom at the April member meeting. This will be very helpful to Joel, as he’s out of town on a business trip for the April member meeting, and this way he can not only attend but present!

OCRA Monthly Meeting, February 2017

The OCRA meeting for February was the first of 2017, due to inclement weather in early January. The first order of business was election of the slate of officers for 2017.

The following slate was presented:

  • President – David Snyder W4SAR
  • VP – Karen Snyder KD4YJZ
  • Secretary – Joel Dunn KM4NOU
  • Treasurer – Dan Eddleman KR4UB

There was one open board position, and Lad Carrington W4ORD was standing for that.

Incumbent President David Snyder asked for nominations from the floor. There were none, and the slate of candidates was affirmed by voice vote. We then had the following committee reports and announcements:

Treasurer’s report:

    • We have $300 more than last year, even with repeater maintenance
    • Encouraged the club to use smile.amazon.com and select OCRA as the receiving organization

ARES report:

  • We have been invited back to Tar Heel 10 miler on 4/22
  • 7000 runners, have 7 volunteers stationed along course
  • We need volunteers, it’s a good way to get into public service

Repeater operations:

  • UNC Neurosciences site is moving along, end of the process seems to be in sight

Hamfests:

  • Dee highlighted RARSFEST on 4/22, asked for approval for the club to buy two tables for $36 to allow the group to sell equipment; this was approved.
  • Jack discussed the Durham Hamfest on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, said they needed volunteers.

Report from the board meeting:

  • David said that there was a proposal to create a joint email list with DFMA. This was supported, as there is already considerable overlap in the membership of OCRA and DFMA. The Yahoo group has limitations, and other options were suggested, including “groups.io”. At this time the final direction has not been selected, but we will merge the two groups.
  • David also said that for the NCQSO party on 2/25-6, he would activate as W4UNC

Presentation:

  • Howie described his NPOTA activation of Moore’s Creek Bridge National Battlefield with slides and good humor!

Wrapup:

  • Lad gave a report on the Christmas dinner, and strongly encouraged more members to attend. We need to have enough to get favorable catering prices. Much discussion ensued about pricing, pre-payment options, and other methods to both increase participation and to make sure the we have enough attendees and that everyone who promises to come pays. Lad will be leading this again in 2017, so expect a few tweaks to be announced in the fall.

Jan 2nd, 2017 – Monday Night 10 Meter Net Notes

Joel KM4NOU, filled in for Bruce N1LN as Net Control. Bruce was went to a Dook basketball game, but this Tarheel still filled in to let him go!

We had a total of 11 stations, including NCS, so not bad for a holiday weekend, with folks just getting back into town.

Joel KM4NOU reported from NCS that he’d had a very nice holiday, visiting his son and family in Centreville, VA. Joel and Jan got to see seven-month old granddaughter Sierra at the beginning and end of the week, since during the middle of the week, the Centreville contingent made a trip to visit other relatives in Kentucky. That left Joel and Jan in charge of his son’s house, their own two Labrador Retrievers, and also the two ten-month old Labrador Retriever puppies that call it home. It was a Labapalooza! Joel had his HT, and the VHF/UHF in the truck, but didn’t find anyone to talk with on the local repeaters. He did make a trip to the HRO store in Woodbridge, VA, and bought himself a Christmas present: a new Heil HM-12 mic, a pedestal, foot switch, and appropriate cables to hook to his FT-450D.

KR4UB – Dan: Not much happening with him, made it to the Egg and I, and had some neighbors over for NYE. Dan said that Joel’s new mic sounded good 🙂

KM4MBG – Jack: Lots of food over the holidays, but mostly relaxing. He’s wanted to get a 6M antenna, but tried tuning his HF antenna and got an SWR of 1.5, so he’s pretty happy and was able to connect to the OCRA 6M Friday Net. Getting ready for “back to work.”

KU4GC – Dee: Being retired means every day is a holiday! He did a little HF, but it was slow; picked up a couple of new band/countries.

KF4PAB – Lenore: Enjoyed holiday parties, food and festivities, but is now getting focused on getting back to work.

KJ4UZU – Clint: Happy New Year! Not much DX (yeah, like we believe that, Clint!) but did work Belarus on 80M last week. Like others, he’s getting focused on back to work.

K0OUX – Vic: Late coming into the Net, had been talking on another frequency, and didn’t shift sideband when he came onto 10M. Still recovering from a double hit of Chickenpox and Shingles that really hit him hard. We were all happy to hear that he was well on the mend after a rough time.

W4BOH – Wilson: It was a fine holiday! Going to carpool to the DFMA meeting on the 3rd, so the Western Orange contingent will be represented. He’s done little DX’ing, but a few cards are dribbling in. Still stuck at 213 countries. One of the kids got a Yaesu 817 for Christmas, but not much other radio stuff.

KK4PH – Lowell: Just rolled back in from a trip to Pennsylvania, Happy New Year, all! Just got the car unpacked, ate dinner, and turned on the radio. It was good to have time off work; worked on a few projects, including installing radios into his truck (that involved welding a bracket to the transmission hump, so serious work there!).

KA5ETS – Doug: Just back from the grocery store, turned on the radio and caught the Net in progress. Enjoyed Christmas with the family in Nashville, and then the beach for New Years. Has been doing a bit of digital mode radio.

WQ8U – Mac: Wilson had been harassing him about joining the Net, he turned on the radio, and there we were! He had a great, if hectic holiday, with 4 of his 6 kids at home at various times.

Respectfully submitted by Backup NCS
Joel KM4NOU

Dec 5, 2016 – Monday Night 10 Meter Net Notes

Joel, KM4NOU, filled in for Bruce as Net Control. Bruce was stuck at work listening to vendors trying to sell product to make their end of year quota 🙂

It was a busy night (making it challenging for the rookie NCS!), with 15 stations, plus Net Control, for a total of 16!

WA2ROC, Dick – Not much to report, happy to keep the tubes lit and listen in. Dick gets the “gold star” for early checkin at 7:50PM.

KA2DEW, Tadd – Not much to report, just wanted to be in on the conversations. Still working thru antenna repair (actually, not so much antennas as the support systems for antennas) after Hurricane Matthew. It’s a work in progress.

KW4JY, Calvin – It’s been a while since he was on the 10M net, thought he’d swing by and keep us company.

W4BOH, Wilson – Glad to hear everyone, not much news, Christmas prep is overwhelming radio. However, he did have a banner weekend on 160 CW, with for than 50 contacts. More 160 contacts than he’d ever made before, so he was pretty happy with this!

W3AHL, Steve – Long time since he’d been on the ‘net. Working on setting up computers for volunteer tax work. Also helping to install a radio for KI4KKY in a Jeep, and trying to finish other projects.

KU4GC, Dee – Keeping up with a few nets, worked a couple new country/band combos. Replaced a hard disk with an SSD in one of his computers, and is really happy with the results. Much faster!

KZ1X, Steve – Still planning restore of his receive antenna. Also 40M antenna still broken, and one of his three 80M antennas is not working. Lots of projects. Don’t take your antenna to Steve’s QTH unless you want it to stop working 😉

K0OUX, Vic – Coming to us from Chapel Hill, low noise this evening, but 10M seems to be a bit strange as to who he can hear and cannot.

KM4MBG, Ed – Happy to have the time to be on the 10M net tonight, and looks forward to hearing from everyone.

KJ4UZU, Clint – Good to hear all. Picked up Indonesia on 40M SSB Monday afternoon at 5:30PM, was quite surprised and pleased by this. Has had good luck on 40M lately. Picked up a couple new countries on 80M, and picked up Alaska on 80M.

KF4PAB, Lenore – Using new desk mic, hoping folks can hear well. Most reported that she was coming in well; for some reason Net Control was hearing a lot of noise from Lenore, probably due to geography and antenna orientation. She’s looking forward to the DFMA holiday party!

N1LN, Bruce – Glad to have escaped the vendor presentation in time to check in on the net! His voice was a bit horse due to attending a Duke ladies B-Ball game on Sunday. Had a great weekend for the AARL 160 CW contest. He and his team were in 6th place nationally! He has antenna envy of the first place station, which is located at an old AM radio station next to a salt marsh in New Jersey, with two 300 foot towers!

KR4UB, Dan – Almost missed the net, was watching TV! Working on outside projects before the weather gets colder. Repaired his auxiliary antenna, and fixed his headset. Also looking forward to DFMA!

KK4PH, Lowell – Setting up a new radio that will go in his truck, an FT891. Currently in his house on the desk right now, waiting on a fuse for the truck. It sounded good, tho. As to DX, he talked to South Africa on 40M SSB. Worked on a UHF repeater, and continued the never-ending work on fall leaves.

NA4VY, Dave – Only running 100W tonight, rather than 300W, hopes everyone can hear him (was coming in fine to NCS). Had a really bad RF problem, where he found that if he left the stereo, TV, and phone on at the same time, his 300W radio was leaking RF to all these devices, and his voice was coming out of all the other speakers in the house. He’s still working on this, but thinks some ferrite chokes have helped the problem! At least his XYL didn’t come running when he transmitted to the Net 🙂

Respectfully submitted by Backup NCS
Joel, KM4NOU

A Decade on the Air

By: Joe Simpson K4SAR

Like any other institution, interest, or organization, Amateur Radio represents many different things to its varied participants: a focus for technical fascination; a medium for creativity and experimentation; a venue for sharing expertise; a way to serve others; a connection to friends, community, and the world.  On the occasion of one local ham reaching the milestone of ten years in the hobby, here’s a look at his involvement with Ham Radio, and how it has enriched his life.

William Presley “Bill” Creery grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.  In his early years he participated in public service through meeting the requirements of earning the rank of Eagle Scout in the BSA – which he was awarded in 2003.  He also saw both of his sisters engaged in emergency services, as one was a member of a fire brigade on the Caribbean island of St. Croix and the other served on the rescue squad for Knox County, TN.

Bill sought a way to involve himself in the emergency services as well, even while meeting the challenges of several physical and neurological disabilities.  Although legally blind, Bill was still able to read with much effort.  His reading tutor found several articles on Ham Radio for him, and the content sparked a great interest in the subject.  However, there was no support available locally to provide a way for Bill to follow through at the time.

In 2003, Bill and his family moved to Durham, NC.  His social worker, learning of his strong interest in public and emergency service, helped Bill obtain a position volunteering with the Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department, a unit of Durham County Fire and Rescue located in northwest Durham.  As Bill worked at the station, he enjoyed hearing the calls come over the squad’s radio system, so he got a scanner in order to keep up with the traffic when he was off duty at home.  This fanned the spark of interest in Ham Radio, and Bill set his sights on obtaining a license.

He ordered the Gordon West books and tapes, and began studying.  In the spring of 2006 Bill attended his first Ham Radio club meeting with the Orange County Radio Amateurs, and that June he participated in the club’s Field Day event and got on the air for the first time.  By the end of that weekend Bill was, like so many of us after our first Field Day, thoroughly hooked on radio – and soon began making plans to attend the Handiham Radio Camp in northern Minnesota that August.

The Handham program (http://handiham.org) originated in 1967 with a small group in New York; eventually it took root in Minnesota and began growing nationally and internationally.  In 1975 it was adopted as an official program of the organization now known as Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.  Its mission is to provide tools for people with disabilities to learn Amateur Radio and technology skills, and to earn their Amateur Radio licenses.   With the help of the staff and volunteers at the Handiham camp in the town of Maple Lake, Bill studied hard, learned through hands-on experience how to operate, and passed the exam to earn his FCC Technician class license – callsign KI4RAN.  As a licensed graduate of the Handiham program, Bill received his first transceiver: an Icom IC-V8 handheld radio.

As Bill became more involved with Amateur Radio, he continued learning and developing his skills.  He returned to the Handiham camp in 2008 and again in 2009, when at the end of the session, on August 22, he passed the General class license exam.  In June 2013, he once again traveled to northern Minnesota, this time to take a Handiham course in Operational Skills.

On the local front, Bill joined both OCRA and Durham FM Association shortly after the Handiham camp experience.   Within the two clubs he found many friendly members who were eager to lend a hand in getting him started and who assisted him with programming his radio, learning how to use it, and setting up external antennas, among other things.

The primary KI4RAN station location is in an apartment, where external antennas are not allowed.  So, Wayne Estabrooks KJ4GDW built and installed a 440MHz/70cm antenna in the attic (fortunately Bill is on the top floor!) along with a commercially-built 144MHz/2m antenna so that signals can reach a number of local repeaters and provide some good simplex coverage.  Bill regularly visits his parents nearby in Durham, so Joseph Fields KF4QYY installed a 2m antenna in the attic of their house for use when Bill is there.

Lowell Tieszen KK4PH has provided much support with radio programming, station setup, troubleshooting, operating, and the like, as has Joe Simpson K4SAR.  Bill has returned the favor by assisting with maintenance and enhancements to the K4SAR travel trailer used for the 15m/40m SSB OCRA/DFMA Field Day station, as well as serving as a regular operator of that station for many years.  He has operated one station or another at Field Day every year since 2006.

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Bill’s interest in meteorology has also played well into his Amateur Radio activities; he is a regular participant in weather nets and has for several years served as Weather Safety Officer for the Field Day events, where he monitors the weather situation and keeps the crew advised of any developing summer thunderstorms or other potentially dangerous weather conditions approaching.

Besides monitoring NOAA weather radio broadcasts, Bill uses several Internet weather tools to keep an eye on things.  And, he enjoys using the various internet-based ham tools such as IRLP, Echolink, and Remote Bases.  Windows accessibility features and software such as the JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader help to compensate for Bill’s visual challenges.

Bill’s operating position in his apartment is neatly laid out with radios and computer within easy reach.  He helped design a wooden mounting rack for his radios, power supply, microphones, and speakers, which his parents, Pres and Kitty Creery, built and finished in their garage workshop.  This handy rack freed up much desktop space and allowed Bill to neatly organize power and antenna cables.

Currently, Bill’s fixed ham station comprises a Yaesu FT-1900 rig for VHF and a Tait model T2010 for 440MHz, both connected to a switching power supply.  Nearby are a scanner for monitoring emergency service transmissions, and a custom fixed-frequency receiver to pick up the Triangle Radio Reading Service’s broadcast for the visually impaired (which is carried on an SCA subchannel of the WUNC-FM radio signal).  For portable ham operation, Bill carries an Icom IC-T7H dual-band transceiver.

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In addition to fire station and radio activities, Bill is involved in the Quilts of Valor Foundation (http://www.qovf.org/), which links those skilled in the art of quilt-making with military service members and veterans who are in need of healing and comfort.  Bill and his mother work as a team to create quilt tops which are sewn into quilts by a volunteer in Wake Forest, and then given to veterans scarred by war.  To date Bill and Kitty have completed 21 tops for quilts – one of which was presented to a local war veteran who is also an Amateur Radio operator.

Upon the 10th anniversary of his entry into the world of Ham Radio, Bill wishes to thank all of the ham operators who have stepped up to assist him with this wonderful hobby which has added so much enjoyment and meaning to his life – as well as the many hams who have gone before to build the foundations of what has become the state and art of Amateur Radio today.  So, here’s a big, “Thanks, and 73!” from Bill, KI4RAN.

Author: Joe Simpson K4SAR