Category Archives: Meetings

OCRA Membership Meeting Notes – September 11, 2017

OCRA Membership Meeting Notes – September 11, 2017

Quick Notes:

  • Location: Efland Baha’i Center
  • Introductions:
  • VE Session – 3 candidates
  • Hillsborough annual Hog Day this weekend, September 15 and 16.

Officer’s Report:


  • Current balance is $13,395.49… 74 members paid up.
  • Please consider using Amazon Smile to support OCRA. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. This year, OCRA has received nearly $50 from Smile purchases.

Show and Tell:          

  • Over the weekend of September 4th, Chuck (KW4KZ) placed the Ed Fong orders. The order included 11 radios, 5 antennas, and one 50ft real of coax.  Shipping should occur in the next several weeks.
  • Andy (W4KIL) recently purchased a Radiooddity GD-77, a digital mobile radio (DMR), dual band handheld. Andy mentioned Durham DMR is very active, and with this radio and Internet connection, you can make contacts to other DMR repeaters all over the world.
  • Wilson (W4BOH) demonstrated a push/pull butterfly capacitor, which contains two stators and a rotor arranged in such a way that turning the rotor will vary the capacitance between the rotor and either stator equally. This has the great advantage that current flows through two series capacitors from stationary plate, across the rotor to stationary plate without any sliding contacts. Wilson’s capacitor was manufactured by Barker and Williamson and would have cost roughly $25 in the early 1930’s, or nearly $500 in today’s dollars. Wilson explained how this capacitor suppresses 2nd harmonics. For more information on suppressing harmonics, please visit the following site.
  • Dan (KR4UB) elaborated on the importance of equal balance, which supports longitudinal balance required for maintaining voice signals along telephone lines, and how perfect symmetry for balance in computers allowed for longer Ethernet lines, thus securing Ethernet as an affordable networking technology.


Interested in building your own air variable capacitor, check out the links below.


Emergency Preparedness:

As this day represented the 16th anniversary of 9/11, and with the recent hurricanes in the Gulf, we felt the need to reflect and discuss the importance of amateur radio and being prepared for emergency events.  Several notable best practices we discussed, included the following:

  • The importance of a generator. Gas generator’s work well, as long as there is gas.  The recent events in the Key’s illustrates that gas may be difficult to find and limited in supply. A dual fuel solution, or propane or natural gas may better if power outages are sustained beyond a few day, and one has access to a large propane tank, or existing natural gas line.
  • Also, be sure to have cash on hand. If power outage is widespread, banks will be closed. However, during the day, restaurants may have ability to serve food, but may not accept credit cards, if power is out…in this situation, cash is king.
  • The Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist provides a good starting checklist to follow on hurricane preparedness.

Equifax Breach 

We had a very informative discussion on the recent Equifax breach. Dan (KR4UB) provided a document with links to the various credit rating bureaus. We discussed the values and challenges of credit freezes.  We would encourage people who are interested to research the value of credit freezes and determine if it makes sense given your personal situation.

Adro (KV7D) sent an email (September 18) via the yahoo reflector with helpful information, including malicious websites not to visit and emails to delete.

Please let me know of any errors or omissions.

73, Keith (W1KES)



OCRA Membership Meeting Notes – August 14, 2017

OCRA Meeting Notes – August 14, 2017

Quick Notes:

  • Dan (KR4UB) – Facilitated the meeting
  • Quick introduction by attendees
  • Joel (KF4KQW) moved to the coast permanently. We wish him well.
  • Keith (W1KES) was approved as Club secretary.
  • Dee (KU4GC) provided the following Interactive NASA solar eclipse map
  • EOC renovations will commence soon. We will most likely hold the September OCRA Membership meeting in the Fellowship Hall of the Efland Baha’i Center.  More details to follow.

Officer Report:

Treasurer Report: current Budget is $13,262.59, with 72 paid members

Kirby Saunders, Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator, stopped by for quick introduction.  Orange County is eager to have active ARES involvement in local emergency training exercises.

Such participation is part and partial to being an amateur radio operator. All OCRA members and active hams are encouraged to get involved in ARES.  The Weekly Orange County ARES Training Net begins on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am on the W4UNC 442.150 MHz PL 131.8Hz repeater.

ARES Report:

Steve Ahlbom (W3AHL): Orange County ARES/AUXCOMM has been requested to participate in a formal shelter exercise at the C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough on Wednesday, August 16th from 9:00-12:00 (first shift) and 12:00-1500 (second shift).  The exercise will simulate power outage and establish shelter for 85 people.

This is a great way to learn or refresh shelter exercises.  Typically, one must complete ICS 100, 200, 700, and 800 free online courses from the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and have some ARES experience (training nets, public service events, etc.)  Steve will request a waiver for those who have not completed the courses prior to the exercise.

Incident command training is standardized across the country, which provides a common vocabulary and means of planning and organizing people to accomplish task.  To participate in formal training exercises, one needs to complete the courses listed above.

Public service events are good way to learn about ARES and incident response. There are several ways to keep informed of training exercises…reflector emails, OCRA website, or contact Steve.

Show and Tell:

Dan (KR4UB) provided a reflection of the winter 1996 OCRA Newsletter, which mentioned the initiation of OCRA’s repeaters now known as W4UNC. Tremendous effort was involved to get the repeaters on the air.  A key participant in this effort was John Welton (N4SJW), whom has since moved to Colorado, but was in attendance for this meeting.

John provided a similar recollection on the effort to establish a repeater on the UNC Campus.

John recalled that emergency response played an important part in establishing the repeaters on the Faculty Laboratory Office Building (FLOB), better known today as the Mary Ellen Jones building on the University of Chapel Hill (UNC) Campus.  The UNC hospital, also located on campus, is the largest burn center in the South East.  As such, a means for providing emergency communication coordination with the hospital and surrounding area was needed.

In 1996, with financial assistance provided by the Hospital, Orange County, and Town of Chapel Hill, along with sweat equity from OCRA and DFMA members, the repeater was installed on top of the FLOB.  The repeater still provides Chapel Hill and the hospital wide area communication capabilities today.  John also recalled the challenges associated with RF coverage inside the building, as the structure had very thick concrete walls.  The site leveraged IRLP as the communication infrastructure, as cell phone coverage was not pervasive at that time.

Continuing the conversation on John Welton’s influence on disaster preparedness, Dan shared a 2009 QST article entitled, “When the Big One Hits, South Carolina Will Be Ready!”  The article mentions John, along with fellow University of South Carolina nurse Brian Fletcher, involvement in obtaining funding to establish a statewide Amateur Radio 2 meter and 70 cm repeater system.  The article states, South Carolina is prone to earth quakes, and John and Brian implemented a project at the Medical University of South Carolina to provide hospitals with Amateur Radio communications for redundant communication capacity in the case of hurricane evacuations and earthquakes.  We were glad to have John and Dan’s reminiscing on past experiences and share the role amateur radio operators play in emergency management and natural disasters.

Chuck (K4RGN) – At the July DFMA meeting, Ed Fong (WB6IQN) presented a program where he discussed his antenna designs and his latest, patented, triband antenna, which was featured in March QST 2017.  Chuck brought one of Ed’s TBJ-1 triband antenna to the meeting.  He separated the antenna from the PVC casing and explained the design.  Dan also added commentary on the eloquent helix transformer design.  Ed is selling the antenna for $60.  Likewise, Ed is selling an HF SSB handheld SDR based receiver, and a GP5/SSB for $60.  If interested in any of these items, please contact Chuck at

Steve (KZ1X) – Presented a low cost ($59), 40 meter SSB HR rig from HFSigs, based on the popular Bitx40 design.  The rig is shipped built from Indian with digital read out…did I mention it was only $59. This rig is ideal for low power WSJT-X communication modes like JT65 and JT9.  A friend of Steve’s created a 3D mounting for the rig, which is makes a solid rig worthy of addition to any ham shack.

Andy (W4KIL) – Has been active with DMR radio listening to repeater’s out west.  He recently purchased an AAI Impendence Analyzer with graphing function for $150.  The analyzer covers 140MHz~2700MHz, which includes Wi-Fi and maps all S parameters. Nice purchase Andy.

Wilson (W4BOH)Son and friend reuse computer batteries.  If you have extra computer batteries, let Wilson know and a deal can be made, and they will be used.

Lad (W4ORD) mentioned that Southern Battery in Kernersville has refurbished batteries at great prices.


Nick (KA1HPM) – Attending the Cape Fear Amateur Radio Society swap in Fayetteville last weekend.  Purchased a DL1000 dummy load.  Tried it out on Sunday, and it worked.  There was no documentation, or any manufacture listed on the product. Nick conducted an internet search and noticed a similar item in a 1980 British publication.  Steve thinks it maybe of Japanese origin.  In any case, it was a good find at an affordable price. Just goes to show you what deals you can find at a swap.

Rick – mentioned that Timber Lake Fire Department will be offering ICS 400 training on August 22, 23, 24.




Virlies August 5th Ham Breakfast in Pittsboro, Eggs, Chickens and Bridges

Been a while since I’ve joined the Pittsboro gang at Virlie’s Grill instead of the usual trip to the Egg & I in Chapel Hill on NC 54 East for my Saturday morning breakfast HAM activity .  Time to get off autopilot and venture to some of the other favorite places hams are known to congregate on Saturday mornings.

After suitable and effective arm twisting by Nick, KA1HPM,  I found myself heading down the delightful back roads, passing scenic farm land and places like the Chicken Bridge (there’s a story to that name)  for breakfast and splendid conversation with KX4P, John, WA2JLW, Roy, N8BR, Bill, KK4JGT, Terry, N4HA, Herb, and Nick, KA1HPM. It made for a very pleasant journey and morning.

The food at Virlies is always delightful and the staff very accommodating.  I mean where else when asking our waitress to take a group photo, would she take time to find something to stand on (can’t say what…that might be an OSHA violation) and take this wonderful picture from high above..

After having two delightful eggs for breakfast, chicken seemed to stick on my mind, or was it driving over the Chicken Bridge, which I had not done for some time.  Knowing the inquisitive mind hams have, strict ham breakfast protocol now requires explanation of the aforesaid bridge name. If you missed it, back up to above aforesaid link.

After exhaustive research and effort of typing “Chicken Bridge” in Google and pressing the “Enter” key, I learned not only more about the history of the name but also that the bridge itself was used as a target for mock bombing runs in the 70’s and into the early ’80s.

I already knew, or more correctly should say had heard these runs, fearing loss of the roof on the house or worse and, also had heard about terrain following radar for low level flight and hoped that stuff kept terra-firma (and QTH) well protected from said flying objects as they passed directly overhead.  The QTH is north of the bridge as the crow flies, or perhaps I should say as the A-4 Skyhawk or an F-4 Phantoms of the era flew. Somewhere around here in my extensive collection of detritus, I still have the sectional aeronautical chart I obtained to learn more about this whole business.  There it was on the chart… the red line emanating from Cherry Point, complete with warning to airmen to check the NOTAMs (NOtice To All airMen) for when the area would be in use, right over the house and down to the Chicken Bridge.

Did you hear about?… no that will have to wait till the next breakfast! Everything of interest is covered with lots of camaraderie to be had.

Come on out!

Dan, KR4UB

Geezerfest at Virlie’s, goings on, on going adventures

This Saturday, five diehards, defying the infernal temperatures, met for the weekly Saturday morning ham breakfast at Virlie’s restaurant in Pittsboro.

John, KX4P, who has rebuilt a homebrew crystal-controlled AM transmitter, described his impressive feat of raising the frequency of an FT-243 crystal by hand grinding the quartz crystal with some VERY fine sandpaper, raising the frequency about 20 KHz. It took him only 18 tries to sneak up on it.

Bill, N8BR, has been cutting firewood, probably training for a transcendental antenna effort.

Roy, WA2JLW, remarked that his Vibroplex paddle needs occasional adjustment. Obviously a case of hypermorse activity. He also observed that 4 out of five of the breakfast attendees were 75 years old. His birthday is Sunday.

Nick, KA1HPM, the youngster of the group at only 73, brought a show-and-tell of an adapter for his headset/ mic to his radio. Nice job. He does a lot of that.

Herb, N4HA, reminisced about a sideswiper key he built as a young ham from a hacksaw blade. Thank goodness for iambic paddles.

Where are the youngbloods? Please join us and inspire us every Saturday morning.

posted by KR4UB for Herb N4HA

OCRA Board Meeting, April 24, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


We adjourned at 8:00PM

NC4KW Team wins 2017 NC QSO Party Club/In-State/Mixed Mode Award

The NC4KW team (Jim KG4NEL, Bruce N1LN, Laurie N1YXU, Howie WA4PSC, and Sarah KM4WHL) won the NC QSO party for our division. Not only that, our team recorded the highest EVER score for the NC QSO party. Sarah commented “This was my first contest and I felt lucky and pretty intimidated to be part of such an experienced group. It was a blast! I have definitely caught the contesting bug.”

The placque shown above was presented to the team by Dwayne, N4MIO at the May 8th OCRA Club meeting.

OCRA Board Meeting, March 27, 2017

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


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

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

The first order of business was the Officers reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We adjourned at 7:56PM

OCRA Monthly Meeting, April 2017

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

We started with the usual monthly introductions and roundtable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Proposed Brian Garlock Act – Senate Bill 364 and Amateur Radio Mobile Use

The recent ARRL North Carolina Newsletter contained information suggested to be included in letters hams may wish to write to their senators regarding Senate Bill 364. This topic was discussed at the OCRA April 10 club meeting. Members asked that the following additional information be put up on OCRA website.

When the city of Chapel Hill considered a similar cell phone use ban while driving, the following information regarding federal pre-emption was presented at public hearing and accepted by the city council to be incorporated into that proposed ordinance. That proposed ordinance was later withdrawn and did not become law.

In further research of NC General Statute 20-79.4 which authorizes and establishes the terms and conditions for issuance of Amateur Radio license plates, it would appear that this statute requiring applicants to “assert to the Division that a portable transceiver is carried in the vehicle” and then have SB364 declare usage of such equipment illegal to be a contradiction of logic.

While positions taken by the ARRL and the FCC are summarized below, I recommend you read the documents at the URL links below and use that information in letters you may choose to write to your senator on SB364.

Federal Pre-emption – FCC asserting sole rights to regulate Amateur Radio

suggested wording to your senator…
In reading about the proposed ban on the use of electronic devices in automobiles, it would appear that broad wording also covers mobile operation of Amateur Radio which is regulated solely by the Federal Communications Commission.

I am sure you are aware of Federal Pre-Emption, that is, the principle of federal law that not only regulates certain areas, federal law pre-empts further State and Local law in conflict with federal law. Over the years there have of course been legislation proposed by State and Local authorities in conflict with federal law. The FCC has a vigorous history of defending its sole authority to regulate areas in its domain as authorized by Congress.

If SB-364 goes forward, I strongly recommend the bill incorporate wording as included in the link below, excluding Amateur Radio Operation in order to avoid your ordinance be in conflict with federal law.

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) also has a long track record of bringing before the Commission, Requests for Issuance of Declaratory Rulings on ordinances affecting amateur radio that go beyond the scope of authority granted to States and Local Governments.

Lastly, for your information, the link below is a ruling by the FCC that, while not specific to the cell phone issue, does include a number of findings on the safety of mobile Amateur Radio operations and recites the authority of the FCC to act and respond to state and local laws that are in conflict with federal law.

SB 364 in conflict with requirements of NC Statute Chapter_20/GS_20-79.4

excerpt from North Carolina General Statute 20-79.4. Special registration plates.
(a1)      Qualifying for a Special Plate. – In order to qualify for a special plate, an applicant shall meet all of the qualifications set out in this section. The Division of Motor Vehicles shall verify the qualifications of an individual to whom any special plate is issued to ensure only qualified applicants receive the requested special plates.

(9)        Amateur Radio Operator. – Issueable to an amateur radio operator who holds an un-expired and un-revoked amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and who asserts to the Division that a portable transceiver is carried in the vehicle.  The plate shall bear the phrase “Amateur Radio”. The plate shall bear the operator’s official amateur radio call letters, or call letters with numerical or letter suffixes so that an owner of more than one vehicle may have the call letters on each.

Link to NC General Statute 20-79.4