OCRA Membership Meeting – May 13, 2019

Treasurer Report:

Dan (KR4UB) Balance is still strong, current membership is 67 with 30 needing renewing.   The cost for maintaining our repeater is increasing. The high cost of tower climbers is one reason OCRA maintains a heathy financial balance.  You can easily assist in keeping our financial balance strong.  For those who purchase from Amazon and want to add to OCRA’s coffers, Amazon Smile donates 0.5% to eligible charitable organizations.  For more information, please visit the following site.

DurHam Fest:

The 45th Annual Durham Fest occurs over Memorial Weekend.  OCRA will provide a table to sell members items.  We would ask for a small donation or percentage of sales to off-set the cost of the table.  Admission is $5 and prizes may be won.  For more information, please scroll down for more information.

Repeater:

The OCRA 442.150 MHz PL 131.8 repeater is programmed to notify the club of cancellation due to poor weather.  We encourage all members to listen for announcements and check the groups.io email reflector if storms are present on meeting days.

Field Day – June 22-23:

Field day will again be hosted on Wilson’s (W4BOH) property over the weekend of June 22-23. 

Bruce (N1LN) Station setup will occur on Friday, June 21.  Band captains are responsible for procuring the necessary bill of material and station coverage throughout the event. Please register your station of interest and availability on the website under Events, OCRA/DFMA Field Day Signup Summary.  Again, Elecraft radios are the standard for this year.  Band captains that borrowed radios last year need to ensure their availability again this year.

Bruce will provide N1MM logging software instruction training in June.

Steve (W3AHL) mentioned wireless connectivity for multiple computers with N1MM is difficult to manage.  However with the laptops donated for Field Day by Adam Caudill (WX4WNC) this will be much easier. Thanks to Adam!  The computers will contain a standard configuration image, providing a more stable and consistent approach for management.  

Bruce will provide N1MM software training in June.  Elecraft radios are rig of choice, making interfacing and configuration easier.

John (KM4MDR) will be facilitating Potluck on Friday around 6:00 PM night.  Saturday 5:00 dinner and Sunday breakfast. Attendees will need to prepay for meals. Please see payment options and meal details on the 2019 Field Day post.

Field Day Materials – Operators may want to have present the following as conditions are likely to be hot and humid.

  1.  Helmet – if assisting with tower construction and placement
  2.  Gloves
  3.  Safety kit
  4. Water bottle
  5. Bug spray
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Hat
  8. Smile

2019 OCRA/DFMA Combined Field Day

Featured

Join us on June 21st through June 23rd for another wonderful field day event on the grounds of W4BOH near Hillsborough. There is something of interest for almost everyone at our Field Day event. It is certainly an excellent opportunity to learn a wide range of skills relevant to emergency communications and amateur radio in general for new and experienced hams alike.  Field Day Photos from prior years, Join us this year!

There are multiple ways for you to express your field day interests areas you would like to participate in:

  1. Plan to attend the upcoming OCRA club meetings Monday May 13th, June 10th, and DFMA club meeting Tuesday, June 4th to express your interests and learn more about getting involved.
  2. If you already have a membership or interest profile on this website, you can indicate your field day participation interests by simply updating your profile.
    1. If you have misplaced your profile private access link, simply click on the OCRA website menu “Members” then “Retrieve Access Link” and the link will be sent to your email address listed in your profile.
    2. Once you have access to your profile, scroll down to the lower part of your profile and place a check mark and add any necessary text for your field day participation interest to be listed below. Click here for sample view
  3. Or any other way that works for you, e.g. use the “Click Here to Email OCRA” link on the right side of this page to send an email with your name, callsign and list of interests.

2019 Field Day Sign Up Summary

Volunteers in multiple roles (e.g. station op, FD setup & food) are counted multiple times, once in each role

CW: 4, SSB: 8, Digi: 2, VHF: 3, Bonus: 6, Fri Setup: 12, Sat Setup: 10, Take Down: 12 Food: 11

Call SignFirst NameStation Mode BandSaturday OperatorSunday OperatorBonus PointsField Day SiteSet UpTake DownField Day MealsMeal Volunteer Role
N1LN Bruce 80_CW, 40_CW, 20_CW, 15_CW, 10_CW Captain Towers Fri, Sat Sun
N4KW Pete 80_CW, 40_CW, 20_CW, 15_CW, 10_CW Where CW Capt wants me Where CW Capt wants me Where needed Fri, Sat Sun
KG4CFX Christopher 80_SSB, 40/15_SSB, 20_SSB, 10_SSB, VHF any time any time Served Agency Sun PrePay
W4AEN Ed 80_SSB, 40/15_SSB, 20_SSB, Digi any time Solar, Gnd_Rods, Towers Fri, Sat Sun Fri Potluck Cook
W4BOH Wilson 40_CW, 20_CW, 15_CW CW Band where needed Gnd_Rods, Towers Fri, Sat Sun Fri Potluck Cook
KR4UB Dan 10_SSB, Digi, VHF after noon, evening over night Satellite Aux Pwr, 10/6M Station Setup Fri Sun Sat 5pm Dinner, Sun 9AM Breakfast Plan, PrePay, Buy, Chairs/Tables
NA4VY David 10_SSB, VHF Captain 10m Stn Setup Fri Sun
W1KES Keith 80_CW evening morning Youth Ops Towers Fri
W3AHL Steve 80_SSB Captain, any time any time Section Msg Towers Fri, Sat Sun PrePay
K4SAR Joe 40/15_SSB Captain
KV7D Adriano 40/15_SSB
N2XZF Paul 10_SSB any time any time Gnd_Rods, 10m Stn Setup, General Help Fri, Sat Sun General Help
KN4JYP Kathy after noon morning Satellite, Solar Pwr Solar Fri, Sat Sun Sat 5pm Dinner PrePay, Chairs/Tables
KV4ZR Loren Lge Battery, Aux Pwr, Solar, Gnd_Rods, Towers Fri, Sat Sun Fri Potluck, Sat 5pm Dinner
KU4GC Dee Education, Info Table Gnd_Rods, Towers Fri, Sat Sat 5pm Dinner, Sun 9AM Breakfast Plan, PrePay, Ice, Water_Soda
Jean Sat 5pm Dinner, Sun 9AM Breakfast Plan, Buy
KN4QCC Onda Sat Sun Sat 5pm Dinner, Sun 9AM Breakfast Cook
KM4MDR John Fri Potluck Plan, Chairs/Tables, Water_Soda

Field Day Documents

Name Description Author Last Modified Version Downloads
Name Description Author Last Modified Version Downloads
New 2019 Field Day CW Equipment List

CW Stations Planning - Equipment List for 80, 40, 20, 15 & 10M Stations - Contact Bruce N1LN for questions or updates

Bruce, N1LN 13-05-2019 15:05 2.0 19 downloads

Screen capture copy of the Field Day sign up options accessibile via sign up member profiles. Formatted for hardcopy print.

Dan, KR4UB 13-05-2019 15:07 1.0 13 downloads

Saturday 5pm Dinner & Sunday Breakfast Meal Attendees Requested to Prepay to Keep Costs Low

Food Pre-Pay, done for the first time last year, was a great success in providing a firm count of of those attending Field Day meals, and ensuring that just right amount of food was purchased.

The festive DFMA/OCRA Friday Night Potluck is still FREE of course with attendees signing up to bring a tasty salad, vegetable, main courses and dessert.

For the June 22 Saturday 5PM Dinner & June 23 Sunday Breakfast…

OCRA and DFMA are asking attendees to prepay (the same price as always, $5.00 for each meal) at the Field Day June 22nd Saturday 5 PM Dinner and June 23rd Sunday Breakfast in order to have an accurate count. This keeps costs low and not have to ask members who do show up to pay a higher amount to cover those who do not. These payments also go to fund the availability of free bottled water during the Friday set up day.

Prepayment authorizes the club to buy food on your behalf and can be by cash or check payment at your convenience as described below. Vegetarian meals can be requested.  PayPal is not used as small payment cost is excessive. Based on the food purchase date, meal orders must be received by OCRA by June 17th. If you pay, and later must cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, send an email to orange.county.radio.amateurs@gmail.com prior to the June 18th food order date, and your payment will be refunded or, you can use it as a tax-deductible donation to the club, or to extend your membership.

Making PrePay Easy

  • Using checks, or cash in an envelope as annotated below will help with record keeping (and refunds for timely cancellations). Checks and cash will be held and not deposited until food purchase. Cancellations received before food purchase will be refunded.
  • In addition to opportunities to pre pay by mail or at upcoming club meetings, the following OCRA/DFMA contacts at the Saturday morning breakfast locations below will accept your payment:
    • Payment to OCRA, P.O. Box 294, Carrboro, NC 27510
    • Each Saturday Ham Breakfast – June 1, 8, 15
      • Egg & I Chapel Hill on NC 54 East – Dan, KR4UB or M.K. W4MKR
      • Virlies Pittsboro TBD
      • BoJangles at Hillsborough – TBD
    • DFMA Club Meeting June 4, (TBD)
    • OCRA Meeting May 13 & June 10 (Dan, KR4UB)

Checks or cash in envelopes marked with the same information shown on the check below will help with record keeping  e.g. name, callsign, number attending dinner and breakfast meals, and preference for veggie meals.

Checking Receipt of your  Meal Sign up Status

As prepay checks and cash are received as described above, the OCRA website page at this link will be frequently updated  Field Day Meal Sign up Status

Thanks in advance for helping this part of Field Day to be a success!

OCRA Membership Meeting – March 11, 2019

Introductions:

Treasurer Report:

Dan (KR4UB)

We have 68 paid membership current and 33 requiring renewal.   You can renew membership easily and securely on the website under the heading of “Members.”   

Chatham county continues moving forward with establishing new radio towers.  Currently they are writing specifications to publicly bid the work.  They plan to establish additional towers beyond current need for anticipated growth, with the understanding it is more cost-effective to erect the additional towers now than re-bid the work at a future date.  

WordPress is the most common blog and website platform in use around the globe.  OCRA uses WordPress as our primary club communication channel.  WordPress has many additional features and functionality that we can leverage for multiple uses.  One such use is capturing interest and availability for Field Day. 

With just under four months to go, Field Day 2019 is quickly approaching.  However, we can more easily start planning now.  Dan has created an on-line sign-up form to capture availability to volunteer for food, station, and field site preparation, staffing, and dismantling.

You can easily complete the sign up form on your computer or even phone!  The steps for expressing your interest and availability follow:

 1.     On the site, navigate to the “Member” tab and click “Receive Access Link”.

 

2.      Enter your call sign, answer the math question, and click “Submit”.  An email will be sent to your registered public email address.

3.       You will receive a confirmation screen notifying you the link has been sent to your email.

4.     Login to your registered email address and click the link.  If you bookmark this link, it can be used to update your profile…be sure to bookmark!

5.     Complete the Field Day sign-up sheet.  Be sure to click the “Save” button located at the end of the form.  If there are any data corrections, they will be highlighted in red.  Band captains will reach out to you regarding the specifics. We look forward to seeing you during Field Day!

Program:  Connectors

As many Hams know, it is important when making decisions about getting the right coax for your Ham Station to understand that there are trade-offs that have to be considered between transmitter power, antenna gain, coax loss, and your total Ham Station system performance.  Your bank account may also enter into the equation like most Hams.

Cables and connectors are no exception to the above as they make up the lifeline of your entire station, allowing all of the components to work together.  Steve (KZ1X) shared that oxygen is the enemy of every connector, as oxidation due to poor connections will limit the performance and life of the connector.   Dan (KR4UB) and Steve (KZ1X) further explain the importance of having the right connectors, wires, and crimpers to produce a gas tight crimp.  As Dan shared, in his experience most poor transmissions are the result of bad connectors.  However, with quality material and practice you can build connectors that provide decades worth of radio fun and enjoyment.   

Dan (KR4UB) explaining contact spring tension  Steve (KZ1X) explaining Power pole connectors

Vendors who sell quality connectors and supplies include the following:

·         DXengineering – https://www.dxengineering.com/

·         Digi-key – https://www.digikey.com

·         Mouser – https://www.mouser.com

If you attended this meeting, we would welcome your feedback.  If there are other topics of interest, please let know.

73

OCRA Membership Meeting, September 10, 2018

Introductions:

Sixteen members were present, with three people taking exams.

Treasurer Report:

Balance continues to be strong.  Currrent membership is at 78, with 23 needing renewal, and one expiring this month.

Seventeen new members have joined since January.

Repeater:

Dan (KR4UB) brought the latest Southeastern Repeater Association (SERA) repeater journal, providing a listing of repeater frequencies and other relevant information. The SERA was founded in 1971 as the North Carolina FM Repeater Association Inc., when a group of state repeater owners got together to form an organization designed to assist in coordinating, providing communication & technical information, and bringing together all amateur repeater owners into one united body.

RepeaterBook applications are available for Android and Apple devices.  The applications are helpful to identify local repeaters during travels.

Have another Meal (HAM)

Wilson (W4BOH) has offered to host a family friendly, fall cookout of burgers and dogs in October.  You should have received an email via the group.io list serve.  If you did not receive an email, but are interested in attending, please let Wilson known. Please bring vegetables and desserts to share.

Green Bank Telescope

Dan (KR4UB) is planning to revisit the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Green Bank, West Virginia.  The Green Bank site was part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) until September 30, 2016. Since October 1, 2016, the telescope has been operated by the newly separated Green Bank Observatory. The telescope honors the name of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd who represented West Virginia and who pushed the funding of the telescope through Congress.

The Green Bank Telescope operates at meter to millimeter wavelengths. Its 100-meter diameter collecting area, unblocked aperture, and good surface accuracy provide superb sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1–116 GHz operating range. The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire local celestial hemisphere is accessible. It is used for astronomy about 6500 hours every year, with 2000–3000 hours per year going to high-frequency science.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES):

ARES:

Steve (W3HAL) stated OC Emergency Services has requested that OC ARES/AUXCOMM volunteers be on standby for probable activation to support evacuation shelters due to forecasted flooding, high winds and power outages. Details are pending updates on Hurricane Florence’s path and timing and probably won’t be available until late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The typical scenario would have one or two shelters plus the EOC opening, with a team of two ham radio operators per site for two 12 hour shifts per day.  That would require 12 volunteers each day.

As always, the first priority is to make sure your family is safe and prepared for the storm, as mentioned on Saturday’s ARES Training net.  Meanwhile, evaluate your availability to deploy on Thursday, 09/13 through Saturday, 09/15.  If you think you might be available, depending, on how the storm actually affects our area of course, please email me directly so I can get a rough idea of how many volunteers might be available.

Volunteers would need to be registered in the AUXCOMM database to deploy to the EOC.  For shelters, at least one on the team would need AUXCOMM registration and the second could be an ARES volunteer.

And one final reminder to log into the AUXCOMM database and verify your contact info is still valid, if you haven’t done so recently.   https://www.auxcomm.us/db/nc/  (Ignore the certificate error notice)

Please contact Steve w3ahl@att.net for further information

Hog Day:

Hillsborough Hog Day may be postponed or cancelled due to Florence.  Please check the website for up-to-date information.

Boy Scouts Jamboree:

Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. This jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby amateur radio operators ham shack. Many times you can find the hams will come to you by setting up a station at your Scout camporee, at the park down the block, or perhaps at a ham shack already set up at your council’s camp.

Martin (KA5JUJ) shared how one creates a cantenna, a tin can waveguide for WiFi.

Baofeng handheld radios are popular in the amateur radio community as inexpensive, entry level HTs.  Future OCRA membership programs including learning more about repeater operations, programming a Baofeng, and overcoming “mic fright.”

OCRA Membership Meeting, August 13, 2018

Introductions:

Treasurer Report:  Dan (KR4UB)

Club balance was reported.

Dan created a new attendance sheet.  He also went through old club records to capture the date members joined.  There are many current members who helped establish the club in the early 1990s, when the club was called the Orange County Wireless Pioneers.  Steve Jackson (KZ1X) was the spark plug for establishing the club.  The first meeting was in the community room of OWASA.  Anyone with club records, please let Dan know. Dan will scan and add the content to the site, which will help preserve club records.

Dan has a repeater still occupying space in his basement.  The current repeater market in Durham and Alamance is rather saturated.  However, as Chatham County is growing, so is the need for communication towers.  Nick (KA1HPM) mentioned that the county is planning to install several new towers for 2020.   There may be opportunities to relocate the repeater to a tower in Chatham County for amateur radio and CERT usage.

Field Day results:

While radio propagation was sketchy, we were able to accumulate 2000 more points this year over last.  Every station, minus 80 meters, was able to increase their score, with digital exceeding last year by over 1000 points.   This year’s numbers will change slightly as Dave (W4SAR) thoroughly combs the combined log to eliminate duplicate contacts, fix broken exchanges, and eliminate broken exchanges that cannot be made good:

For more detailed information on Field Day, we encourage you to read the July 2018 DFMA newsletter. https://www.dfma.org/TheLink/2018/Link1807web.pdf

Show and Tell

Steve (KZ1X) was cleaning out an old radio box and brought in a Micron SWR field strength meter, which may have been purchased as the old Radio Shack in University Mall.  The Micron measures the amount of signal transmitted by your antenna system, and a signal pattern can be plotted by taking readings around your antenna.  The meter covers 3 to 30 MHz and can handle up to 1KW.

He also brought alligator clips with magnifier glass used for splicing wire and adding connectors.

Dave (KW4XL) brought in several 3D printed products, including a raspberry pi hotspot case and working crescent wrench.

The next membership meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 10.  Hope to see you there!

OCRA Membership Meeting, July 9, 2018

Meeting Attendance: 28

Treasurer:

  • Club balance is still strong. Current membership is 79, with 24 requiring renewal.  The club has added 17 new members this year.
  • Field Day – Thanks to all who assisted, supported, and participated in the Field Day food preparation and delivery. The pre-paid approach for Saturday’s evening meal and Sunday’s breakfast was very successful.  For Saturday’s meal there were 44 pre-paid with 6 people paying at meal time.  Likewise, for Sunday’s breakfast there were 36 pre-paid with 4 people paying at meal time. The success of meal pre-pay may become a new payment model for future field day meals.
  • Overall, the club profited $174 from meals, which will be added to our club coffers.

Field Day (FD) Recap:

Dave (W4SAR) provided a comparisons of 2017-2018 point totals.  For 2017 the total point was 19,760.  For 2018, we had an estimated total of 21,635.  Dave should have final 2018 totals in the next several weeks.  Congratulations to all for the great work securing the additional points…and the fun had by all.

This year, the Digi mode was a good success.  Dan (KR4UB) mentioned that Digital radio mode success in amateur radio has been partly attributed to the work of Joe Taylor (K1JT), who developed the WSJT-X software.  Joe is a noble prizing winning physicist, who has focused the past two decades on weak signal communication.  Joe is the developer behind several popular digital protocols like FT8 and JT65.

General FD Observations:

  • Less interference on 40 and 15 SSB than years past.
  • Accessible stations in garage worked well for all.
  • N1MM network may require piloting the software and associated computers a few weeks prior to FD. This may help reduce complexity, however, much of the issues are not the result of the application.  Rather, the issues are more likely attributed to the Microsoft OS and configuration of personal computers. Other clubs purchase refurbished PCs for FD from NewEgg to reduce configuration mismatch.

Band Captain Comments:

  • 40/15 SSB propagation and noise on the bands most of Saturday. By Sunday morning the bands opened with much less noise.
  • CW worked well…3 stations covered all night. Better scheduling provided coverage through the morning hours.  Power was more stable this year over lasts.
  • 20 SSB – had similar propagation and noise issues like other SSB stations. The station ran on solar power directly or from batteries recharged by solar throughout the entire FD.
  • 80 SSB did not have as many operators as years past. Was difficult getting confirmation due to static on the receiver.
  • Digital was well covered and enjoyed throughout the event. However, next year more comfortable seating will be needed.
  • VHF was challenging, but the 5 element Yagi provided a noticeable return on the points.

FD Logistics

  • For the larger antennas, a dedicated spotter on point for ensuring safety should be available, with agreed upon standard communication and terms. Additionally, a tower safety demonstration and additional guide wires for support may reduce operational risk.
  • Replace the wood antenna support “walk up” with metal. This will reduce the likelihood of the wood splitting and causing the tower to fall and potential hurt people.
  • The scheduling spreadsheet helped ensure adequate coverage of stations throughout the event.

Should we plan to add a Sunday lunch? Please reply to this post with your suggestions. We would enjoy reading your ideas!

 

2018 Field Day Operator Schedules

Link

Here are links to spreadsheets or whom to contact to schedule operating time for the Field Day stations below.

For spreadsheets, enter your call sign (or name if unlicensed) on any unoccupied block of time. For the other stations, contact the band captain with times you are available.

The 40/15 SSB station (air-conditioned trailer) scheduler can be accessed via this link:

http://tinyurl.com/W4EZ-40-15-SSB

The Digital Stations (40/20 and maybe 15 meters) will also double as accessible stations for those who cannot negotiate stairs. One station (Access1) will be available for accessible SSB operation, and change to that mode as required, and back to digital when not.

https://tinyurl.com/W4EZ-Sched-Access-SSB-DIGI

For the 20 Meter SSB station (in a trailer) see this link:

https://tinyurl.com/20M-SSB-Operator-Schedule

To operate a CW station, coordinate with Bruce, N1LN.

For 80M SSB, contact Steve , W3AHL.

For VHF, contact Doug, W5ETS

For 10M SSB, Dave NA4VY

Dave, W4SAR

OCRA Membership Meeting, June 11, 2018

Introductions:

Treasure:

Financials remain very strong, and we are current on club insurance. Dues current is 73.

Field Day:  June 22-24

Food:

Friday night pot luck is being coordinated by John Boone (KM4MDR).  Setup is Friday, June 22.  Dinner will begin at 6:00 PM.  We would appreciate your letting us know in advance if you plan to attend so we can better plan for the number of guests.  Spouses are welcome.  If you have any questions, please email John at jsboone@msn.com.

If you plan to attend, please email John your call sign, name(s), number of folks attending, the dish you plan to bring, and special requirements, your phone # or email.  Please let us know if you can setup for dinner or clean up after dinner.

  • To date, 26 have purchased tickets at $5 dollars. Reimbursement will be available until June 18.  Please reference the Meal article below on this blog.
  • Still need cooks to help with preparation.
  • Emails from groups.io will keep everyone informed over the next 2 weeks.

Stations

We will be operating 9A again this year.  The list of stations are as follows:

CW – in MCU – Bruce (N1LN)

80 SSB – In RV – Steve (W3AHL)

40/15 SSB – In Trailer – Joe (K4SAR) and Adro (KV7D)

20 SSB – In Trailer Lad (W4ORD)

10 SSB – In Barn Dave (N4AVY)

40/15 Digital – In Garage Dave (W4SAR)

20 Digital – In Garage Sherri (WB4OSU)

VHF – In RV Doug (K5ETS)

Accessible stations will be located in the Garage.

Logging Software Overview

Bruce (N1LN) presented an N1MM overview.  The presentation is located on the Groups.io web sitehttps://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/files#

Login credentials are required to access presentations.

A few key points include:

  • Band captains should ensure a PC is available for their station.
  • Will need to ensure that software is installed and working.
  • All stations must be same version (1.0.7193.0) to work properly.

Steve (W3AHL) provided an overview of the networking. Initial setup will be Friday afternoon.

Please refer to presentations on the groups.io website.  https://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/files#

Login credentials are required to access presentations.