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 Board Meeting, August 27, 2018

Attendance: 

Steve (W3HAL), Dan (KR4UB), Bill (N8BR), Wilson (W4BOH), Lad (W4ORD), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dave (W4SAR), Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), and Keith (W1KES)

Treasurer Report:

Treasury balance is still strong with 78 members current, 28 needing to renew, and 2 being removed from membership.

Repeater – Chatham County has budgeted for additional towers, which may provide opportunities for OCRA to share available repeaters.

Repeater insurance continues to increase, with two insured climbers required for any tower work resulting in several thousand dollars per climb.   The Virginia Beach Kenwood repair business, which NCOCRA used for repeater repairs, was independently owned but now no longer in business.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES): 

Steve (W3HAL) will retire from ARES AuxComm later this year.  Thanks to Steve for all his support over the past years.  This provides a great opportunity for those interested in ARES or emergency coordination to gain experience and continue Steve’s work with Orange County and other service organizations. This will be a topic of discuss at the next NCOCRA Membership meeting.

Keith (W1KES) and Dan (KR4UB) will prepare a presentation on the technical and communication practices for repeaters.  This presentation will provide a great way for new Hams to learn and older Hams to relearn about standard repeater usage and support.

Hillsborough Hog Day is September 14 and 15.  NCOCRA historically has a booth to introduce the public to amateur radio.  If interested, please contact Lad (W4ORD).

Christmas Dinner – We discussed options to reduce the food variety, which may help to lower the costs. We are striving to keep the cost to approximately $20 per person.

Wilson offered to host a Have Another Meal (HAM) pitch in at his house this Fall. More information will be forthcoming.

 

 

 

August Gathering at Virlies

The weekly amateur radio confabulation at Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro this Saturday morning was enjoyed by eight stouthearted hams who overcame the local audio QRM to exchange pleasantries and repartee.

Jesse, KM4AMR – a new member of the breakfast club – flies drones for fun and profit. With a straight face he informed the group that there was now a drone that can pollinate crops to ameliorate the decline of the honey bee population.

Bill, N8BR, gave an impressive description of DX Engineering’s four square antenna for 160 meters as well as a practically comprehensible explanation of the role of catalysts in the building of complex proteins.

John, KX4P, waxed nostalgic upon his recollection of acquiring his Red Ryder lever-action BB gun as a lad. He still keeps it locked and loaded behind the door. Squirrels beware.

Roy, WA2JLW, remarked on the irony that the Hawaii QSO party was this weekend while they were getting pummeled with Lane’s rains.

Roger, KS4VX, solved the SWR problem on his Butternut vertical … cable. He reminded those assembled that the only free cheese is in a mousetrap.

Nick, KA1HPM, offered to email Jesse some programming info for his HT. He also mentioned that he would like to see an OCRA program on repeaters. Many heads nodded in either agreement or lack of caffeine.

Dave, W4INN, has five boxes of radio junk, about which his wife has given him The Ultimatum. He has made the right choice.

Herb, N4HA, unable to hear half of what was said, made most of this up to encourage your joining us some Saturday, around 8:30 for the fun of it.

By reading this newsletter, you are agreeing that any misstatements, fabrications, and/or typing errors are not the responsibility of a superannuated septuagenarian.

Posted for Herb, N4HA by KR4UB

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!

 

Annual Ham Migration

While the crew at Virlie’s Grill took their annual vacation, the ham conclave met at the Root Cellar in Pittsboro for an enjoyableSaturday breakfast.

Pete, K4PHS, appeared wearing a tee shirt which advised us that there were “two types of people: 1) Those who extrapolate conclusions based on insufficient data.” (Some paraphrasing may have occurred.)

Bill, N8BR, is now selling his supply of RG400 coax in 10 foot lots. Cheap.

Terry, KK4JGT, our Chatham CERT organizer, announced a request for CERT support for a Haw River rescue exercise. He now has over a hundred on his mailing list and there are 21 hams.

Hank, K3YDX, participated in Field Day with a Snow Camp group. Casual and fun.

Herb, N4HA, enjoyed a 20 meter CW stint with the DFMA/OCRA team at W4EZ. Thanks to them.

John, KX4P, worked the Baker dxpedition on 40 meters 11 minutes before they closed up shop. That’s cutting it close, John.

SHOW & TELL TIME! John, KK4VUR, brought his newly constructed antenna amplifier for his satellite work. He added a T-bias to supply power. Does anyone remember what the Lagrangian point is?   

Nick, KA1HPM, brought his duplexer on which he repaired a broken coax center conductor with some electronic brain surgery.  

Hope you will join us and add your ham radio input to our next Saturday breakfast at Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro. Photos by John, KX4P.

73, Herb, N4HA

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.

OCRA/DFMA Field Day Saturday 5pm Dinner & Sunday Breakfast Meal Attendees Requested to Prepay to Keep Costs Low

From last year’s Field Day and member discussion at club meetings, planning for the Field Day meals is one of the more challenging activities in terms of knowing how many will be at the meals and ensuring the right amount of food is purchased.

The festive DFMA/OCRA BBQ Potluck, hosted by Wilson and a small group of helpers is still on and still FREE. John Boone will be soliciting registration and potluck contributions as last year, so please sign up to join us and bring a tasty salad, vegetable, or dessert.

For the June 23 Saturday 5PM Dinner & June 24 Sunday Breakfast…

For this year’s 2018 Field Day, OCRA and DFMA are asking attendees to prepay (the same price as always, $5.00 for each meal) at the Field Day June 23, Saturday 5 PM Dinner and June 24 Sunday Breakfast in order to have an accurate count. This will help keep the cost low and avoid the clubs losing significant money or, asking 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 costs for many small payments is excessive and precludes use of that feature. Based on the food purchase date, meal orders must be received by OCRA by June 18th. If you pay, and later must cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, send an email to treasurer@ncocra.org prior to the June 19th 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 2, 9, 16
      • Egg & I Chapel Hill on NC 54 East – Dan, KR4UB or M.K. W4MKR
      • Virlies Pittsboro John, KX4P
      • BoJangles at Hillsborough – Mike, KK4BPH
    • DFMA Club Meeting June 5, (M.K. W4MKR)
    • OCRA Meeting June 11 (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 Board Meeting, May 28, 2018

++ Please Note: Field Day – Prepay Meal explained below. 

Attendees:

Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), Steve (W3AHL), Dan (KR4UB), Keith (W1KES), Wilson (W4BOH), Lad (W4ORD), and Bill (N8BR)

Field Day:  Prepay Meals

For this year’s 2018 Field Day, OCRA and DFMA are asking attendees to prepay ($5) for the Field Day June 23, Saturday 5 PM super and June 24 Sunday Breakfast (will refund if you must cancel, provided written cancellation is received before the food purchase date noted below.)  This is necessary to avoid the club losing significant money or, asking members who do show up to pay a higher amount to cover those who do not.

Prepayment authorizes the club to buy food on your behalf and can be by cash or check at the next meeting or mailed.  PayPal costs for many small payments is excessive and precludes use of that feature. Meal orders must be received by OCRA by June 18th.  Vegetarian meals are available. If you pay and later find you must cancel, send an email to treasurer@ncocra.org prior to the June 19th food order date, and your payment will be refunded or, you can use it as a tax deductible donations to the club, or extend your memberships, hihi.

The food purchase committee consisting of Lad, MK,and Dee will work with Jean (KR4UB ‘s XYL) to coordinate logistics.  We are seeking donations from Food Lion and possible Costco, but will reconsider whether donations are needed for next year.

DFMA Hamfest: 

The DFMA Hamfest was a good success.  OCRA club table netted $52.  The Volunteer Examiner (VE) session was successful with outcomes for 2 Extra, 4 General, and 3 Technician.

Repeater:

OCRA Board has decided to limit pursuing UNC campus for a repeater location. Instead, the priority will be to keep the 442.150 repeater active and on the air,  and ensure we have a trusted, hot-swappable repeater for backup.

We are actively seeking interested OCRA members to join the Repeater “team.”  This is a great opportunity for interested Hams to learn more about maintaining and supporting repeaters in the local area. If interested, please leave responsed to this post, or send an email to board@ncocra.org.

 

OCRA Board Meeting, April 30, 2018

Attendees:

Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), Steve (W3AHL), Dan (KR4UB), Keith (W1KES), Wilson (W4BOH), Lad (W4ORD)

Financials:

Balance statement is strong.  Current membership with dues current is 74.

Establish a Board email group – will use to share and approve meeting minutes

Dan (KR4UB) has created a new membership sign up form to assist in managing existing and new members.  We need to announce at next membership that OCRA stickers are available for $5.

Repeater:

Dan (KR4UB) will contact Alex at UNC to determine if they are able to provide any financial assistance.  The level of assistance will help determine our next steps.  There may be opportunities to locate and share the repeater with Chatham County CERT. We need to be diligent in discussions and move forward with a repeater decision in the coming months.

Public Service:

Steve (W3AHL) mentioned that public service activities are down this year.  However, John Stone mentioned that several new events have been added to the schedule. If interested in sharpening your ARES or CERT skills, these events are great learning opportunities.

Durham Fest:

There is work session Friday May 25 from 6:00-8:00 for setup.  Saturday morning, setup assistance will be needed starting around 7:00 AM.  The ham fest will start at 8:00 AM and end around 12:30 PM, with tear down starting shortly thereafter.  Tables are $12 and space available for $8.

Early registration tickets are available and will be registered for $50 drawing.  VE session will also be part of the HAM Fest.

Decision:

Board agrees to spend $24 for two tables.

Field Day:

Planning is ongoing. Antenna designs and locations will be finalized in the next month.

Lad will contact Kelly to determine available, costs, and logistics for providing diner around 5:00 PM on Saturday night.  This would reduce the dependency on band captains and other participants in managing meal logistics.

Sunday morning breakfast will still be provided by members.