Danny Hampton, K4ITL Repeater Builder, Mentor, SERA Leader & FCC Liaison, SK February 28, 2024

OCRA like many other ham clubs, repeater builders and users owe a great debt of graditude to Danny, K4ITL for his very gracious and generous help to anyone with a genuine willingness to learn and build repeater systems to his level of excellence.

Below is the lifetime membership presented by OCRA to Danny at the April 2009 RARS Hamfest in appreciation for his technical assistance, mentoring and advice over the years that has greatly helped in keeping the tall tower OCRA 442.150 repeater on the air.

His talent and generosity was widely recognized.

https://hamvention.org/2009-hamvention-award-winners/

https://www.wral.com/story/engineering-contractor-danny-hampton-has-died/21308694/

http://pcrn.net/

https://sera.org/home/

© 2024 photo by KR4UB, OCRA Inc

The plaque gold section above contains the award text in Braille

© 2024 photo by KR4UB, OCRA Inc

A perspective from two long time repeater builders……

Charlie Durst NC4CD, principle DFMA Repeater Builder

https://www.dfma.org/

It was with great sadness that I heard on Wednesday evening that Danny Hampton, K4ITL, of Raleigh, had died.

I first met Danny in the early 70’s at his home in Raleigh. One of the original members of DFMA, Wayland “Doc” McKenzie, K4CHS, took me to meet Danny one evening at his home. He said, “let me turn on some lights for you”. Danny was blind since birth and his wife, Sandy, was also blind. Together they raised their two children, both sighted. After Sandy’s death, he married a childhood friend, Rose, who survives him. Danny grew up in Kannapolis and attended the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. He had become quite skilled in electronics and worked for the Johnson radio dealer and later with Nextel. After Nextel, he worked with my CSI business partner, Elmo Yancey, in their company, Direct Call. Direct Call provided community repeater and telephone interconnect radio systems before cell phones were available. CSI built the towers for Direct Call.

Danny was a master at designing and building repeaters and linked repeater systems. In the 1970’s he built the PCRN analog linked repeater system that covered North Carolina from coast to coast and into Virginia and South Carolina. As digital radio technology emerged, he designed and built the PRN system which now has over 60 repeaters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia linked via the internet using DMR technology originally pioneered for the commercial market by Motorola.

Danny developed an amazing skill at tuning receivers, transmitters, and duplexers to make a highly functioning repeater. He had a service monitor and other test equipment that ‘talked’ to him. Relying on a keen sense of hearing, he could probably hear a tenth of a dB change in a noise level in a receiver he was tuning.

Many repeaters in the Carolinas and Virginia transmit the call sign K4ITL. Many of these repeaters are on tall TV towers in Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington and had the equipment located near the antennas at heights of over 1500 feet. On several occasions, a repeater would develop a technical problem that required his personal attention. He would put on his safety belt and ride the elevator up the tower to the repeater. Someone asked him if he was afraid of those heights. His response was, “No, I don’t look down !!”

On many occasions Danny’s days and nights would get mixed up and he would send me an email at midnight asking if I was still up for a phone call. Being a night-owl, I would email back and we would talk on the phone until 1 or 2 am about some technical subject. I knew he was ok with email because his computer talked to him.

Danny was recognized for his skills and contributions to the repeater community at the Dayton Hamvention in 2009 when he received the “Ham of the Year” award. Danny was instrumental in the Southeast Repeater Association (SERA) since its beginning in the early 70’s as the Carolinas Virginia Repeater Association. For many years he was the Director for the North Carolina Division and was currently serving as President of SERA.

The ‘shoes that will have to be filled’ by his absence are tremendous. The loss of Danny leaves a void in our hearts as he was a dear friend of many. His expert technical abilities will be difficult to be replaced. The funeral service will be at the McCullers Community Baptist Church in Raleigh with visitation at noon and the funeral at 1 pm on Wednesday, March 6th.

Rest in peace, good friend. Enjoy the tallest antenna site and the beautiful view that you can see from there.

73 Charlie NC4CD

Dan KR4UB, principle OCRA Repeater Builder

We both grew up in Kannapolis, NC where our paths crossed two different ways. In looking through my amateur radio station log, my first QSO with Danny was on June 14, 1964 on 3.830 with Danny back for the summer at his childhood home, a whole 2 miles away. Things seemed a lot more distant as a kid back then.

I eventually met Danny face to face through a conversation his father and my father had.  Our respective fathers worked at two businesses just a block or two apart, and both were customers of each other’s business. That’s the way things were in a small town.  One day Danny’s father stopped by my Dad’s workplace and as typical, Dad’s talked about what their kids were up to.

When Danny’s father Wade Hampton Sr., was told of my desire to go the NC State to get an engineering degree, he strongly urged I have a face to face conversation with Danny.

Danny spent much of his early childhood as student in Raleigh at the NC School for the Blind and knew about NC State’s reputation of being a very tough engineering school. He  had a piece of advice to give me. His words were, “if you’re planning to go to NC State, you better be prepared to work your ass off”.  How true that turned out to be.  He was not one to mince words and spoke plainly and directly.

Our paths did not cross again until 30 years later, when John Welton, N4SJW and I took on responsibility for the OCRA 442.150 and the other club repeaters.  Danny was very gracious and generous to anyone who demonstrated a genuine willingness to learn and build repeater systems to his level of excellence.  You can’t venture very far in the ham community without crossing paths with many others that Danny has similarly helped and turned into long term working relationships.

He was gifted in his ability in building relationships with so many hams and institutions who in turn, helped him build the repeater systems he dreamed of.

Maybe it was growing up in a small town where most everybody seemed to know everybody and if you needed help and was one willing to give help, life long relationships were built.

73  Dan, KR4UB

Tri-County Repeater Coverage Maps available on OCRA-DFMA groups.io

The repeater reach-ability testing during several recent OCRA Auxcomm nets on the 442.150 repeater and the demo presentation at the April 10 OCRA meeting (see Youtube video) illustrates many examples of how the topography from your location to a repeater site greatly affects the ability to communicate. 

Without quantitative tools to analyze the issue, it can be a difficult decision on how to fix the problem. What is the problem? What will be the most effective fix?

Repeater topographic coverage maps can help answer questions specific to your location.

To take advantage of these maps you will need to do 2 things:

  1. Download and install the Google Maps application from this URL: https://www.google.com/earth/versions/#earth-pro  
  2. Download the Tri-County Repeater Coverage maps  located on the OCRA -DFMA groups.io file storage area.

The URL link below contains repeater coverage topographic mapping for the 442.150, 145.450, 147.225 and 145.230 repeaters. More repeaters will be added in the future.

Three maps are available for each repeater to show coverage that can be expected with the typical HT, Mobile or Fixed base (home) installations.

Downloading the Repeater Coverage Maps:

You need to use your OCRA-DFMA groups.io login ID and password to access the files area shown below.

Click on this URL https://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/files/Repeater%20Coverage  to go to the file storage area. 

When you click on the “Tri-County Repeater Coverage_V3C.kmz” file link as shown below, the file will download onto your computer, per your browser’s download settings.

Using the Google Earth Pro Application:

Click on the Tri-County Repeater Coverage_V3C.kmz file to open it with the Google Earth Pro application.

Several Google Earth features need to be active so you can select the coverage maps available for the repeater of interest.

The sidebar on the left will be needed to navigate the maps. If not visible, click on the command line “View, Toolbar” to turn it on.

Click the caret symbol to expand the settings and the sub-directories within the .kmz file.

You will want to turn on certain overlays by placing check marks for the applicable blocks as indicated below.

for the “Color Legend” (indicating signal strength into the repeater; more on this later.

“Key Locations” and “Other Locations” will show the repeaters and QTH locations for over 100 hams in the area.

Place a check mark next to the repeater map and station type of interest. In this example, the check mark is for the  442.150 repeater being used by a portable/home station.

Only 1 repeater map/station type should be turned on at a time.

Note:

  • A portable station is one that could be set up for emergency communications and is equivalent to a home station using a 30-50 watt mobile radio,  and a small tower or building mounted fixed base antenna up 20 feet off the ground.
  • The 147.250 file name below is a typo. It is the 147.225 DFMA repeater.

The maps for our region, created with Radio Mobile – RF propagation simulation software , shows the significant role terrain blocking plays in repeater coverage in our in our area. The color indicated at the selected station’s location indicates the expected signal strength back into the repeater. 

  • Red (-77dBm strength back to the repeater)  is solid copy, no noise or fading communications)
  • Yellow (-87dBm), Green (-97dBm) Good communications, may have some occasional noise down in the green areas
  • Turquiose (-107dBm), Blue (-117dBm) Will be unpredictable. May work at times reasonably OK with noise & dropouts or not at all.
  • White (on the color legend) (-117dBm)  No communications. These areas will simply the Google Earth imaging without any coloring.

Common radio setups used for repeater communications are the basis for the 3 topographic map runs made for each repeater.

  • 5 watt HT with the standard rubber duck antenna
  • Vehicle with a mobile radio with 30 UHF, 50 watts UHF output and vehicle antenna
  • Fixed based installation using a mobile radio and a base station antenna higher off the ground.

Additional Information:

Knowing the Effective Radiated Power (ERP) that your radio setup is providing back into the repeater can provide a more tangible perspective. 

  • The ERP Calculator  results below reveals a little better the actual radiated power levels than just considering the antenna gain expressed in decibels. 
  • HT 5 Watts with standard rubber duck antenna loss (VHF -6dBi, UHF -3dBi)

    •  VHF 5W ERP 0.766 watts
    •  UHF 5W ERP 1.53 watts 
  • Vehicle radio and external mounted antenna (e.g. Comet SBB14 VHF 3.5dBi UHF 6.0dBi gain)

    • VHF 5W   ERP 6.83 watts
    • UHF 5W   ERP 12.14 watts
    • VHF 50W ERP 68.25 watts
    • UHF 30W ERP 72.82 watts
  • Fixed based installation again using a mobile radio and fixed base antenna (e.g. Comet GP-9N VHF 8.5dbi UHF 11.9dBi gain)

    • VHF 5W   ERP 21.58 watts
    • UHF 5W   ERP 47.22 watts
    • VHF 50W ERP 215.84watts,
    • UHF 30W ERP 283.32 watts 

Coax loss with also have to be considered for the vehicle and fixed based antennas.

I wish to express my thanks and gratitude to Steve, W3AHL for sharing his valuable knowledge and experience with the Radio Mobile RF propagation application.

Dan, KR4UB

Upcoming General Class October 28th

> Subject: Please publicize my upcoming General Class Oct 28

> Folks:
>
> I would appreciate your help getting the word out about my free weekly General Class licensing course on Zoom beginning Thursday, October 28 and running through Thursday, January 13 (9 sessions plus 3 weeks off for the holidays in November and December.) Sessions will start at 6:30 pm eastern time, and run 3 hours. These are the classes sponsored by the National Electronics Museum that we have been holding for years. Please publicize this with anyone you know that you think would be interested. Those wishing to sign up should email me at roland.anders@comcast.net.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Rol, K3RA

Combined OCRA/DFMA Meeting with NASA Presentation – Monday August 9th

Given the latest CDC information regarding the spread of Covid-19, now containing the Delta variant, the OCRA Board of Directors has made the decision to postpone the return in August to our regular in-person meetings at the Efland Baha’i Center.

The upcoming club meeting on Monday August 9th will be a special meeting as a combined OCRA/DFMA Over-the-Air Club Net and Zoom Meeting with NASA guest presentations, Monday evening August 9th beginning at 7pm.

Note the following time and agenda changes for this special meeting:

  • The Over-the-Air Club Net check-in will begin at 7pm instead of the usual 7:30 on the 442.150 mHz repeater to get callsigns & names of the meeting attendees for the club meeting minutes and any brief club announcements.
  • The OCRA Zoom Video Conference will available starting at 6:45pm for any last minute video/audio testing by attendees, check-ins by attendees not having UHF radio capability, and for all to join in for the NASA guest speaker presentation starting at 7:30pm .
  • Our guest speaker will be Al Feinberg, the Strategic Content and Media Advisor for NASA Space Communications & NASA Television Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
  • The radio net will be secured at 7:30pm and then the Zoom video conference will continue with speaker introductions.
  • Questions any attendee would like to ask the presenters can be posted in the Zoom chat window.

Al’s presentation will be on “Space Communications in Support of NASA”.

The timing of these presentations could not be better as November 9, 2021 will be the 20th Anniversary of International Space Station contact from Barbara Pedersen’s science class room at Chapel Hill Phillips Junior High School. Club member Barbara, KE4JZM was instrumental in the planning, coordination with NASA and with additional club volunteers, the building of the amateur radio station in her science class room that was used for the successful contact.

The Zoom access link, Login ID & password has been distributed by email to all OCRA members and to the DFMA members via the DFMA Link Newsletter email list.

 

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)

Fox Hunt Proposal

from Aurora, KN4VXB

Fellow Hams,

I mentioned this idea to at the Zoom OCRA meeting today, but I don’t think it got broadcast on the repeater, and I wanted to share the idea with the larger group:

Like many, I was sad that field day won’t be happening as usual, and I was trying to think of a group activity that could be done while maintaining social distancing. As preparation for eventual recovery of my own high altitude balloons, I would like to improve my skills at finding hidden APRS trackers.

The logical combination of these two ideas is a Fox Hunt! For those who don’t know, a fox hunt is a scavenger hunt for hidden radio transmitters.

I am happy to be the organizer for this event, but as I am am new to this, I would like an experienced advisors (or two) who would be willing to assist. I recently ordered a small APRS transmitter that I am willing to let the group use for the event, if needed. I have a few questions:

1. Would you be interested in participating in a club fox hunt?
2. Have you done so before? If so, what did you like/not like about what you did before?
3. Do you have equipment we could use for the event, such as APRS transmitters or extra antennas/HTs for folks who don’t have them?
4. Should we have prizes or simply bragging rights? If prizes, how should that work?
5. Would you be willing to help me organize?
6. Do you think late July or early August would be a reasonable time to do this? (I’m starting grad school in mid-August, so if I’m organizing, I’d like to have this done before then.)

Thanks in advance for feedback and ideas!

05/13/20 Update:
Thanks everyone who gave me feedback on my idea!  Based on feedback I’ve gotten so far I’d like to amend my original proposal in a few ways.  I propose we have TWO events over the course of a day or weekend:

  • Event 1: An early- to mid-morning (before it gets too hot) on-foot search for transmitters at a park or large private property.  From the feedback I got, a 2-m transmitter that sends out a string of Morse code would be better than an APRS transmitter, as I originally proposed.  I think this may be fun to do in teams of 3-4 people to make it more social.  Maybe one experience person and 2-3 newbies per team?  Perhaps a capture-the-flag type event where each team hides transmitters that the other teams have to find?  For public health reasons, team members that are not from the same family must stay more than 2 m apart, which should be easy to do.
  • Event 2:  A late morning thru afternoon fox hunt in vehicles to find a hidden person transmitting from an undisclosed location.  The ideal fox would place themselves in an unlikely place where they can work the repeater, but not be heard on the input.  For 50 minutes out of every hours, the “fox” must answer questions when asked by repeater users on the club repeater.  Since this activity can be done in air conditioned vehicles, this event will allow folks who don’t want to slog through the woods or be out in the heat to participate.
If this sounds ok, I will work on putting together a more fleshed out description of events for the group to review and an online survey to figure out who is interested in doing what.  I will plan to only organize events that people actually want to do, and are willing to help out with preparations for.

Best,

Aurora

OCRA Membership Meeting – January 2019

Roll Call:

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

Treasurer report:

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

Members approved 2019 Board:

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

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

Chatham County Radio Club Update, Nick (KA1HPM):

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

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

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

“When All Else Fails:”

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

NC QSO Party:

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

Club Meetings:

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

Club Program:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

73

Technician License Classes Coming Up

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