OCRA/DFMA Field Day – Some Field Day Miscellany from Dave, W4SAR

Not yet the promised message on submitting your scores, that will come soon. BTW, you have a full month after Field Day ends to get your scores submitted. Instead, for this message I am adding a few more tips on Field Day operations and rules.

Test your stations, as soon as possible. Better to find out that your antenna will not load on 40 meters, or that your Digital setup is not putting out any power now, so that you have time to remedy it, rather than at the very start of Field Day itself.

Remember that if you are using the emergency power bonus, that if you are using a computer to control the radio, or using it to modulate digital modes, it is considered an integral part of your station and must be on emergency power also. On the other hand, if your laptop is used just for logging, it is considered auxiliary equipment, in which case leaving it on commercial power is fine.

If you are guest operating at another person’s station, and then going home and operating your own station, you are not allowed to contact the station at which you have worked.

All digital modes are equivalent. If you work someone on FT8, you cannot come back on PSK31 and “double-dip”.

Remember that working the same station on different bands is not a duplicate contact, neither is working a station on the same band by different modes (phone, CW, digital). i.e 5 bands X 3 modes can be 15 legal contacts with one station.

Chase the propagation, 20, 15 and 10 meters are primarily daytime bands, 40 and 80 better at night, but there is often overlap. With the solar index being bad right now, 10 meters will likely not be reliable, but be prepared for openings. If your run is slowing down on 20 meters, take a quick look at 15 or 10 meters for activity. This easier if your radio has dual VFO’s as you can look at other bands quickly and if nothing is happening, go right back to where you were working. I would also suggest that club members notify us on the email reflector of any openings they see on the bands.

Mix up your operating, you can “hunt and pounce” up and down a band, when that tails off in productivity, find a quiet spot if you can, and call CQ.

Make sure that battery is topped off, best is having another one or two topped off and ready to swap in.

For Digital communications, if you are not running QRP, 25 Watts is plenty for modes that favor weak signals such as PSK31 and FT8. Digital modes have heavy duty cycles on transmit, that heat sink will get pretty hot if you run 100 Watts. Besides, you’ll extend battery usage keeping that output power down.

Back up electronic logs frequently on a USB drive. You can back up paper logs by photographing them with your smart phone, or use the copy or scan function on a printer.

Anyone else have any tips? Reply to this message so we keep them handy in one thread.

Dave, W4SAR

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OCRA/DFMA Field Day – Logging Contacts, Bonus Points, Maximizing Score

Hi All from Dave, W4SAR,

In my last post, I wrote a bit about how Field Day works, and what the information exchange consisted of. Here I will talk about recording those contacts, strategies to maximize the number of contacts, and using multipliers and bonus points to get yourself the biggest final score. My next and final message in this series will go over the submission of your final score to the ARRL.

First off, though getting the maximum score you can is the primary goal of any amateur radio competition, it is not the only goal. You need to make it an enjoyable experience for yourself, and learn a few things in the process so you can do it better later on. In other words, don’t obsess about not getting 500 QSO’s, glory in making your first contact, your 10th contact, your 100th. Hey look I just worked South Dakota! Look , I just worked N1LN on three bands! Set yourself some fun goals, and celebrate them with us. We’d love to see how you are doing on Field Day, post messages to this reflector so everyone can see each other’s accomplishments.

Now on to LOGGING:

Logging your contacts:

You need to preserve a record of the contacts you have made, your logging entries will be the exchange information of the stations you had worked, and the time you worked them. It is best to use UTC, Coordinated Universal Time, rather than local time, that avoids the problems of logs listing a variety of local time zones, in short, everyone will be on the same page for time signatures. Field Day will run from 2:00pm local time on Saturday, June 27 to 2:00 pm local time on Sunday June 28. In UTC, that translates to 1600 hours Saturday to 1600 hours Sunday.

If you are logging by computer, make sure your computer is set to the correct local time and date. Electronic logging programs have the ability, based on local time, to correctly record the entry in UTC, but you will need to check your settings to make sure that the time offset is correct.

For those of you performing paper logging, I suggest setting a digital clock to 24 hour format, and then set it to UTC.

Here is what a string of log entries should look like, it will have the time/date in UTC, callsign, station type and location of the station worked:

1601     6/27/2020      N1LN        2E      NC
1605    6/27/2020       W2LOP     5A      NNJ
1608    6/27//2020      N6HHI      1D      LAX
1611    6/27/2020       XE1L        1D      DX
1615   6/27/2020       W3AO       45A    MDC
1616   6/27/2020       VE1AA      1E      GTA

Notice that the locations are abbreviated to 2 or 3 characters. Electronic logging programs will have this standard list ready to plug in (more on that later). For paper loggers, on page 47 of the PDF packet for Field Day is a list of the ARRL/RAC sections and their standard abbreviations, I suggest printing it out for reference. There is a misconception that we may only work stations from the USA (and it’s territories) and Canada. Not so! You will notice a station from Mexico in the list above. Just mark any station outside the USA and Canada as “DX”, if they don’t provide a correct station type, just ask them if they are a home station using commercial or emergency power, and mark it down accordingly, a little bit of work, but it nets you another QSO point.

Electronic Logging:

Likely most of us will do this as it offers a number of advantages, especially when you have managed to work a few hundred contacts. Among those advantages are:

Backing up of information- most will automatically back up at set intervals, Additionally, you can backup to a USB drive as often as you like. I do this on a frequent basis just in case the laptop crashes.

Duplicate checking- When you type in the callsign, it will automatically warn you that you had already worked this station. saving you time so you can move on. If you ignore the warning, most will not let you make the entry.

Autofill- If you have already worked a station on another band/mode, when you type in the callsign it will automatically y fill in the station type and location. Again, a time saver (BTW, working the same stations on a different band or mode is not a Duplicate entry).

Statistics- If it interests you, you can see how quickly you are making contacts and see how many you are making on different bands/modes. A fun one for me is looking at the map of the USA and Canada and seeing it fill in with locations I have worked.

Report generation- I will cover this in my next posting regarding submission of final scores to the ARRL.

By far, the most popular electronic logging programs are N1MM, and N3FJP, there a few others out there , but I am not familiar with them. Those of you who are Excel capable can also like set up a spreadsheet for logging, including Duplicate checking. I will speak to the two I know:

N1MM- Probably THE most popular amateur radio logging program. It is an open-source collaboration, and the price cannot be beat, it is FREE. It is fully capable in dupe-checking and autofill and statistics, you can customize the windows, and generate a Cabrillo file for your report (again, more on that later). If you are new, there is a bit of a learning curve on using it. Bruce, N1LN, is probably our best local resource regarding the use of N1MM. He can answer questions, but with less than a week to Field Day, I don’t see us having much , if any time for a clinic on this. I you want to use it, the download is free, as are any updates. If you already have it,make sure you have the latest update before using it for FD 2020. Keep in mind that when we go back to regular Field Days as a large group, this is the program we will use.

N3FJP- I have used this one for many years, until I started learning to use N1MM for the past few years. As I am operating my station by itself, I am once again using the N3FJP Field Day Logger. It is not free, you can download and test drive it for up to 20 QSO’s, but to validate it for perpetual use, the licensing fee is quite reasonable at $8.99. The interface, in my opinion , is more user-friendly for a new user, the template is dedicated for field day . So just set your laptop correct local date and time, use the settings to input your callsign, station type, and location. Then, just plug in the info from your QSO’s as they come. The report generation id Field Day dedicated, so a summary sheet and dupe sheet can be readily generated for that final submission. I am very familiar with this program and can be a resource if anyone wants to go with it.

One other thing with these programs is to make sure to have it set for input on the same band and mode you are working (i.e. 20 M Phone , 40 M CW, etc). when you change bands or modes on your radio, be sure to match the change on your logging program, or you will have Dupes flagged incorrectly or have new QSO’s with incorrect information. I speak to this from experience.

Paper Logging;

If you just plan to casually work Field Day, and don’t plan on lots of contacts, or just plain don’t want to use a computer while working that radio, you can go old school and just do paper logging. Page 46 of the PDF for the FD information packet (downloadable from the ARRL website) has a logging template you can print out and use. Again , the info is the time of contact in UTC, callsign, station type , location, and what band and mode was used. However, you would be on your own for duplicate checking. If you have a short list, you can just scan it to see if you already worked that station. If you have gone to multiple pages, this is more difficult and time-consuming. The ARRL has not recently added the manual dupe sheet to their info packets, with so many now doing computer logging. However, I have found the old template from years past and will attach it to this message. It is a grid divided up by call sign prefixes and call zones . Just fill in the call sign suffix on the proper grid square. Now you have a quick reference you can scan for duplicates. For the final report, you will have a bit more work than most, to be covered later.

Multipliers:

Each QSO by phone that you log is 1 point, whereas QSO’s by CW or Digital modes count as two points each. Additionally , there is a multiplier applied to these based on power level used and power source. The multiplier applies to the highest power level used by that station throughout Field Day, you cannot break them down between power levels.

5X Multiplier- 5 Watts maximum output at the feedpoint for your coax AND power source other than commercial grid or fossil-fuel driven generators. By definition, this would only apply to Echo Stations (home station using emergency power), or Bravo stations if any of you are doing that. So with a 5X multiplier, each phone QSO equals 5 points, each CW or Digi QSO equals 10 points.

2X Multiplier- If your power output at the feedpoint will be between 5 and 150 watts, the 2X multiplier applies for all station types. If you are a Delta station (home station using commercial grid), your multiplier remains 2X even if you are using 5 Watts or less. Phone QSO’s equal 2 points, CW and DIGI are 4points.

1X Multiplier- Between 150 and 1500 Watts.

The multiplier is up to you, based on your capabilities and strategy. If you have really efficient antenna systems, going for 5X is an option, as that strategy is what helped our FD operation place so high in the rankings. But you will hear a lot of stations that will not hear you.

I personally plan on going with the 2X multiplier, since I only have a G5RV multiband wire antenna and a 1/4 wave vertical for 40 meter digital to use. The strategy is that I’d make more then 2.5 X the number of contacts at this power level to make up the difference from a 5X multiplier at QRP levels.

As for the 1X  level, they will be heard! When the lights brown out in Orange County, that is Bruce and Laurie keying down.

Bonus points;

In addition to QSO points, there are bonus points to add to the score (multipliers do not apply to these). The information packet goes into detail on these, I will just do a quick run-through on those that apply to home stations (Deltas and Echoes).

Emergency Power- 100 point bonus for each transmitter using emergency power only for entirety of Field Day (100 points for one transmitter, 200 for two, and so on).
Media Publicity- sending out a notice to news media about your station. You need to retain a copy of the press release and who you contacted for documentation, document any media response. 100 points
Message Origination to Section Manager- report on your station , number of personnel, ARES personnel. Must be sent via RF. 100 points.
Message Handling- 10 points for each message sent through traffic nets, up to 100 points.
Alternate Power- at least 5 QSO’s made using anything other than direct power or battery power derived from the commercial power grid or fossil fuel driven generators. Examples are solar panels, batteries charged solely by solar panels, manually driven generators, fuel cells etc. Document which QSO’s in your log were done vis Alternate power.100 points
W1AW Field Day Bulletin- These are generated by phone, CW and digital modes. Copy must be submitted for documentation. See the ARRL FD Info packet for the schedule. Personally, I use PSK 31 to copy the message, and then cut and paste it into a Notepad file for documentation. If you go by phone, try to record it for transcription. Tip- The bulletin is first put out on the Friday evening before FD itself, it is a good time to catch it and it is perfectly within the rules to do so. 100 points
Elected Official- If you can get one to come to your QTH, document it. 100 points.
Served Agency Official- A visit to your QTH by any representative of an agency served by ARES, these include Emergency Management, American Red Cross, Municipal Fire Departments. 100 points
Youth Participation- 20 points for each operator 18 years of age or younger at your station, up to 100 points total. You must document Name or Call sign and age of each youth op, and document which QSO’s are theirs on your log (at least one QSO for each).
Web Submission- Using the ARRL’s web interface to submit your final score (details later). 50 points.

Other bonus points are available only to Class A, B and F stations. Unfortunately, the 100 point Satellite contact bonus does not apply to home stations. But you do get the hugest of bragging rights.

I will add the ARRL Field Day Info Packet and the Dupe Sheet template to the files section of this IO group. I can also email those directly to anyone that requests them.

Okay, my next and last message will go over the final submission of scores, and maybe a few more operating tips. Stay tuned.

73,

Dave Snyder, W4SAR

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OCRA/DFMA Field Day Operating Tips

Hi All from Dave, W4SAR

So pleased to see so many of us will be participating in Field Day this year, despite the fact that for safety’s sake, the two clubs cannot run the usual top-ranking mega-operation. In stead most of us will operate out of our homes, but as part of your score submission, you can still declare your club affiliation which will allow us to show an aggregate club score. I will talk about logging contacts and score submission on a separate posting.

Here , I will tell you a bit about how Field Day works, and some tips from a number of us who have operated over the years, to help make your participation more enjoyable.

First off, Field Day is a bit different than most contests. As a matter of fact, The ARRL officially does not call it a contest, it is a very big disaster drill involving all of the United States and Canada. No prizes for high scorers, just bragging rights. Although our fantastic joint club operation got us as high as #2 in the total rankings, the real contest has always been with ourselves, can we outdo what we did the year before? In most cases, we did, and we have learned how to make our stations more efficient as a result.

So, how do I take part in Field Day?

THE EXCHANGE-

In most contests, stations make a quick exchange of information, usually callsigns, locations , signal reports, possibly a listing number.

For Field Day , the exchange is very simple: CALLSIGN, STATION TYPE , LOCATION.

You will note there is no signal report , if you can hear them well enough to exchange info, that is enough. (It is amusing to hear on other contests things like “What is your callsign…again… again…got it, you are 5X9!)

CALLSIGN – Yours if you are using your own station. If you are a guest operator, then use the control operator’s callsign

STATION TYPE: For a full run down, look at the Field Day rules. either online or download the PDF. For most of us , we will be either “DELTA” stations, or “ECHO” stations
DELTA- A home station using commercial power. A rule waiver this year allows Delta stations to work *all* stations, under the usual rules, Deltas could not work other Deltas.
ECHO- A home station using emergency power. You may use batteries (not recharged by commercial power during FD), generators, solar panels. Echo stations continue to work everybody.

The other part of station type is a number indicating the number of transmitters that can put out a signal at the same time. So if you are a Delta station with only one radio , you will be a “One Delta”. If you are an Echo station that is running two transmitters at the same time, you will be a “Two Echo”. I noticed some confusion regarding number of operators, that is irrelevant for the exchange information. Whether you have one operator for all of Field Day, or have 20 operators rotating in for relief, your “One Delta” will stay “One Delta”.

Lastly, your location is part of the exchange, which will be either the ARRL Section, or RAC section for Canadian stations. For us it will be “North Carolina”.

So I will give you examples of an exchange by both Phone  and by CW/Digi.

By Phone:
My station – “Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo, One Echo, North Carolina”
Other Station, “Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo, this is Kilo Three Zulu Papa, Two Delta, Eastern Pennsylvania”
My Station- “Kilo Three Zulu Papa from Whiskey Four Sierra Alpha Romeo,  I copy Two Delta Eastern Pennsylvania, Thanks and 73”

By CW or Digital:

My Station: “W4SAR 1E NC”
Other Station: “W4SAR DE K3ZP PSE COPY 2D EPA”
My Station: “K3ZP DE  W4SAR  QSL 2D EPA, TU and 73”

Both stations have exchanged the necessary info and have politely moved on. Depending on who you talk to, it may be even more terse or more wordy.

Now some operating tips:

You may work the same station on different bands and different modes. For Example I can work K3ZP on 80, 40 and 20 meters by phone. I can also work him on 20 meters alone by phone, CW and Digital modes. Do note that Digital contacts only may be done once , by whatever method is used. You can’t work someone on FT8 and then work them again on PSK31,only one digital contact is allowed.

Have a comfortable chair, you can operate longer with good back support.

If a lot of people are working a station you are trying to get, move down the band and work one without so much competition, you can get back to them later when the big guns have moved on.

Even if they sound in the clear, if a station does not respond to you after three tries, move on and try again later. The propagation may improve in the meantime and then they may hear you, this is especially true if you are running QRP (5 Watts max).

Mix it up, I usually “hunt and pounce” running up and down the band and calling to stations I hear, but occasionally stop in a clear zone and call CQ for them to come to me.

Just have fun with it, take breaks and let other operators relieve you. If you are operating solo, take breaks and be sure to eat and stay hydrated.

Keep an eye on the weather, if thunderstorms are approaching, shut down your station and disconnect the antenna feed line until the storms are well past.

Listen on different bands for activity, even ones not likely to be productive. At FD’s past, even with poor solar indices, occasionally 10 meters had productive openings.

Jus plain have fun with it!

In my next post, I will talk a bit more about logging your exchanges, ways to maximize your score, bonus points you can catch, final score submission.

73,

Dave, W4SAR

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DFMA / OCRA 2020 Field Day Cancelled due to COVID-19

There will not be a joint DFMA / OCRA 2020 Field Day (FD) event due to COVID19 related issues. Safety first. The ARRL has not changed any rules regarding FD 2020 at this time. If you want to participate in FD 2020 you may due so as you wish from your home. Please refer to ARRL FD 2020 rules and apply them to your own operating conditions.

Dave, W4SAR

OCRA Membership Meeting – July 8, 2019

Dave, W4SAR, club president opened the meeting with introductions, the topic for tonight’s meeting being Field Day results and call for officer reports.  In attendance tonight were 8 license-seeking candidates, one of our largest membership meeting testing groups.

Dan, KR4UB, treasurer reported 73 members are current with their dues with 26 members needing renewal. Club treasury balance is in line with ongoing expenses.

Nick, KA1HPM, stated two towers near Lowes hardware in Chatham County exist with antenna and feed-line.  Steve, W3HAL, and Dan, KR4UB, would assist in assessing the possibility of usage.

Field Day Results:

Dave, W3SAR, provided a Field Day point breakdown, and will post final results on this    website soon.  The unofficial count was 2997 QSO points, with 1727 QSO points awarded multipliers for a total of 14,985 points.  We had less points this year, but propagation was poor, except for 40 Meter.

Steve, KZ1X, proposed running 100 Watts rather than 5 Watts next year. While QRP, or low power…5 Watts, gets you multipliers, 100 Watts would allow more stations to hear, which would be more fun. Additionally, if sun spot activity is nearing a null, then 100 Watts may a sound strategy for the next couple of years.

Wilson gave thanks to Steve, W3AHL, for doing a great job on the N1MM network.  Steve, W3AHL, stated the 10 dedicated computers along with static IP addresses provided more resiliency and up time than last year. Wilson also appreciated John, KM4MDR, for doing a wonderful job managing the food preparation and service…at a’boys!

Additional Notes:

Dan, KR4UB, stated Phillips High School still has an antenna and transceiver used from an earlier ISS contact needing reclamation.  If interested in assisting, please leave a reply!

Finally, Dan, KR4UB, will present FT8 at the next DFMA meeting!

Point me in the right direction

Dan KR4UB accepted the satellite challenge for Field Day, a noble challenge indeed.  Aiding his effort, Dan reclaimed and repurposed available parts and materials to build an industrial strength satellite antenna boom…materials and instructions follow.  Nicely done Dan!

  • army surveyors tripod non magnetic construction, no ferrous metals added below to disturb compass reading.
  • left over 2″ PVC electrical conduit and elbow..
  • some ironwood strips inside the PVC to take the floppy/flexy out and balance out weight of antenna.
  • wood doweling, epoxy, brass screws to reinforce compass support elbow butt glue joint onto PVC elbow
  • good quality surveyor’s compass bought to rough out new boundaries when  purchasing adjoining land some years back
  • section of left over central vacuum cleaner return pipe (near perfect fit over PVC electrical pipe).. rotates for quick antenna polarization adjustment.
  • Brass  screws (where used) so no ferrous metal near compass
  • Arrow VHF/UHF gamma matched antenna. The foam covered handle fits perfectly inside the end of the 2″ dia PVC electrical conduit used as the boom.
  • powered by arm-strong…..

OCRA Membership Meeting – June 10th, 2019

Dave W4SAR, club president opened the meeting with introductions, the topic for tonight’s meeting being Field Day Planning and call for officer reports.  He reported that at the last VE Session on June 8th, 6 candidates were tested with 5 passing the exam earning their license.

Dan, KR4UB, treasurer reported 74 members are current with their dues with 25 members needing renewal. Club treasury balance is in line with ongoing expenses.

Dan also covered the need for attendees who plan to have a Saturday dinner or Sunday breakfast meal from the field day grill to pre-pay for the food to be purchased on their behalf. Costs for some food items have increased as much as 15% from last year and we need your help in keeping the cost per meal low.

Nick, KA1HPM made an announcement of a request he had made to the ARRL via Carl Bowman, Section Manager requesting that an ARRL contest be organized to celebrate the 150th birthday of Hiram Percy Maxim on September 2nd, 2019.  The ARRL responded with an alternative option of a Special Event Station be set up to celebrate the event. Nick made the call for volunteers to set up and run such a station, using his call sign KA1 H(iram) P(ercy) M(axim)  on September 2nd from 8am to 8pm.

Next, Dave W4SAR began the planning discussion for the 9A class battery powered 5 watt station operation for 2019 OCRA/DFMA Field Day to be held at the Wilson, W4BOH QTH on   3117 Moorefields Road , Hillsborough.

Starting Friday morning at 8am focus will be on tower setup and all other outdoor ground activity to get as much as possible done prior to mid day heat.

Stations and Band Captains are as follows:

  • CW Stations – Bruce N1LN Captain – 3 stations located inthe MCU covering 80 -10M CW operating antennas onf 3 towers. 2 sets of headphones are on each radio so interested observers can listen in on the operation. Operator slots are available.
  • 80M SSB Station – Steve, W3AHL Captain – located in the W3AHL motorhome using two 75M dipoles. Typically band conditions mean 75M is a 6pm to 6am operation. New operators are welcome.
  • 40/15M SSB Station – Joe, K4SAR Captain – located in an air conditioned trailer using a 3 element 40M wire beam and 3 element 15M beam. Joe needs operators to sign up.
  • 20M SSB Station – Lad, W4ORD Captain – located in an air conditioned trailer using tower mounted team, solar power charged batteries.
  • 10M SSB/Digi Station – Dave, NA4VY Captain – located in the air conditioned “red barn”  using a Moxon beam.
  • 40/20M Digi Operation – Dave, W4SAR & Sherri, WB4OSU are co-captains operating PSK-31 and maybe FT-8 located in the handicap accesible garage at the food area.
  • 6M VHF Station – Doug, KA5ETS principle operator also located in the “red barn” building.
  • Satellite Contact: Dan KR4UB & Bill N8BR will be out on the grounds at the scheduled times for satellite overflights.

Additional operators are needed on all stations.

Bonus Point areas were covered next. Volunteers signed up for the various areas are listed OCRA website home page.

Bruce, N1LN then gave a presentation and demo of the N1MM logging software to be used at field day. The presention is available on the OCRA website home page.

Steve, W3AHL discussed the networked logging setup using the pre loaded and configured laptaps that will be available to each station.  All stations need to be ready to participate in the isolated WiFi network setup test at 9AM Saturday morning.

Scroll down for further detail for Field Day planning in the next article.

Dan, KR4UB filling in for Keith, W1KES club secretary.

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

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, 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!

 

OCRA/DFMA Groups.io Photo Upload Procedure

A new Photo section has been recently activated for all subscribers to OCRA-DFMA@groups.io.

If you haven’t tried it yet and have some good Field Day or other amateur radio event photos, here is a demonstration of the procedure.

If you are logged in to groups.io, this link  https://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/photos will take you direct to the OCRA/DFMA groups.io photos gallery.

Or, from the groups.io home page click on the   tab to go to the photos home page. You will see several albums already on the site e.g. 2018 OCRA/DFMA Field Day, 2018 Field Day Potluck, and others.

You can create a new album by clicking on the blue New Album tab  or you can click on an existing album to add your photos.

A couple of thoughts about opening new albums:

  • The reason the “2018….. ” albums shown above are listed first is that the site lists albums in alphabetical order.
  • If you do choose to open another album the name ought to start off with consistent naming with the albums already in existence, otherwise the albums for the same event will be scatttered though out the whole library of photo albums.
  • Lastly, you might want to consider adding your photos to an already existing album to avoid viewers having to open many different albums to see all the photos related to a specific event. Each photo within an album will show and give credit to who uploaded the photo to the album.

To select an existing album, click on the photo