It was the night before Christmas and….

It was the night before Christmas and ….

Oh, No, No, No!!!!

It was Saturday morning before Christmas, 2019, and seven local hams were gathered at the rear round table of Virlie’s Grill, Pittsboro, NC. Just the week before, John Mitchell, KK4VUR had distributed early Christmas gifts of nice surplus utility enclosures. BIG THANKS to John, KK4VUR !

As part of the lively discussion this morning, Herb Allred, N4HA, revealed what he has already done with his utility box. Attached are photos of his “to go” station, with carrying handle attached to the top, containing his 20 meter CW QRP transceiver, antenna wire, iambic paddle, headphones and battery pack. The first photo shows Herb Alred, N4HA, on the left and Jim Davis, W4CFO, on the right. Note the use of popsicle sticks to secure the key paddle inside the lid of the box.

Very creative and ready to put on the air, maybe at a state park. Add a sandwich, drink and a few snacks in the box, (note the ketchup and maple syrup in the photo), and he is in for a good time.

Good luck Herb with many contacts and some DX. 20 meters has been better lately.

Don’t forget, Saturday mornings, 8:30 am (or earlier) at Virlie’s Grill, Pittsboro, NC (round table in the back of the room).

Best 73 and very MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and HAPPY NEW YEAR !

John, KX4P

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!

OCRA Board Meeting – July 2019

Attendance:

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

Treasurer Report:

The checking and saving balances are in line with ongoing expenses. The pre-pay meal approach proved again very successful with 47 dinners and 34 breakfasts.  The more accurate head count for purchasing and preparing meals left little food with a net income of $93.

Field Day:

A big thank you to Wilson W4BOH and his family for hosting, John KM4MDR for providing Friday lunch and facilitating meal preperation, and all the other OCRA/DFMA members who assisted with set up, operation, and tear down.

Notable events:

  • Weather was very extremely favorable throughout the event
  • Computer network was reliable, thanks to Steve W3HAL efforts
  • The digi stations has some difficulty operating from the garage.  Will need to identify opportunities for another location next year.
  • Progation was very good with contacts made in Washington, California, and Hawaii
  • Satellite proved difficult as power overload from a few sites made contacts difficult for others
  • Consider using FT8 for kid contacts to avoid “mic fright”
  • Estimated contact points was 15,160, with bonus points was 17,310.
  • Further discussion need regarding Friday’s lunch as pre-pay

Please add your Field Day pictures and comments to the site.  We would enjoy sharing in your special moments.

Steve purchased automated external defibrillator (AED) battery and pads, which should be good for the next couple of years.

Nick KA1HPM secured call sign KAM for a special event station to honor Hiram Percy Maxim 150 birthday, co-founder of the ARRL.  The two day special event will take place September 2, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  Mark your calendars now!

 

 

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 Board Meeting Minutes 04/22/19

OCRA Board Meeting Minutes 4/22/19

Attending:Wilson W4BOH, Nick KA1HPM, Lad W4ORD, Karen KD4YJZ, Dave W4SAR, Steve W3AHL, Dan KR4UB, Dee KU4GC.

President, Dave W4SAR, called meeting  to order at 7:00pm

Treasurer: Dan KR4UB, gave the current treasury balance and membership status. The checking and saving balances are in line with ongoing expenses. 68 member’s dues are current with 28 members needing renewal. He suggested dues renewal be focused on at the next club meeting. 14 new members have joined the club over the past year.

Then Dan gave the Annual Financial Report for OCRA.  It showed a modest increase over the previous year. Insurance, PO Box and safe deposit box rental were regular unavoidable expenses. He also noted that pre-pay worked well for both Field Day and the Christmas Dinner.  We came out ahead for Field Day and came out about even for the Christmas meeting except that the club paid for the Exchange Club rental. A motion was made and passed unanimously to accept the report.

Dan presented the report using a brand new video projector.   There had been plans for the OCRA and DFMA clubs to jointly purchase a projector for meeting use.  However, Jimmy Dixon KF4KHU, made a gift of a brand new projector to DFMA and this was the first shared use of this great new asset.

It was reported that the aborted Bouvet DXpedition gave a partial refund to donors.  (Both clubs had sent $410 with each club’s treasury providing $200 in “matching” funds and respective members providing $210.)  OCRA’s net (PayPal charges deducted) refund was $192 or approximately 47%. Donors can request a 47% percent refund or they can leave their share in the club treasury (thank you!).

Dan also discussed using the web site and its database capabilities for hams to list their interests, any areas needing assiatance and participating in the joint OCRA/DFMA Field Day. Provisions have been made for members of both clubs to enter their information.

In addition, provision has been made for currently licensed, non DFMA or OCRA members to participate who meet one of the following criteria:

  • Current or future planned participation in OCRA, DFMA or Chatham AuxComm training and emergency exercise activity.
  • Current or future planned participation in the combined OCRA/DFMA ARRL Field Day Event

Licensed amateurs, not a member of the OCRA or DFMA, but desiring to list their interests may do so by by attending the next OCRA or DFMA meeting and complete an interest/assistance needed sheet and if desired an OCRA/DFMA Field Day participation sign up sheet. This can also be done on the OCRA website by clicking on “Members, Interest Registry Signup to Apply for OCRA Interest Registry Listing.

Hamfests: Dee KU4GC reported on the club tables at RARSfest.  He expressed some disappointment in participation in the club table from both clubs  Main income to OCRA was from the gift of a non-member. With rare exceptions people did not bring anything to sell. (A large part of DFMA income also was due to a gift from a non-member).  The net income to OCRA after paying for the tables was $34. (There is yet one big item from the gift to be sold that could provide additional income.)

Dee announced DurHamFest is on May 25th, the Saturday of  Memorial Day weekend. Dave W4SAR has registered the VE session and will again coordinate that.  Wilson, W4BOH will again produce delicious BOH-burgers on the grill. MK W4MKR and Dee KU4GC will take care of food logistics.

Auxcomm/ARES: Steve W3AHL announced that the Tar Heel 10 Miler had no ham involvement this year.

Repeaters: Nick KA1HPM, reported on activities in Chatham county.  There will be a ham antenna at 230’ on the 300’ tower. Provisions for ham antennas have been planned for all coming towers.

Dan KR4UB reported that OCRA has an almost new Comprod 2M antenna (never installed) which could be sold at a good price to an interested party.

Field Day: Dave, W4SAR reported that nice laptops were donated for Field Day use through the efforts of Adam Caudill WX4WNC. They are Lenovo T440’s with 128Gb SSDs.  The Windows 10 systems still need update to the Bios and Drivers.  A general discussion about Field Day computers and logging ensued.

New Business: Lad W4ORD asked if we want to continue to use the  Exchange Club even if we go to a potluck format. The consensus was “yes”.

Meeting Adjourned (~ 8:30pm)

Submitted by Dee KU4GC

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 Board Meeting – February 25, 2019

Attendance:

Steve (W3AHL), Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Bill (N8BR), Wilson (W4BOH), Dan (KR4UB), Dee (KU4GC), Keith (W1KES)

Treasurer report

Savings balance is strong, with 78 member’s dues current and 23 needing renewal.

Bill (N8BR) offered his resignation from the Board.  While we hate to see Bill leave, his vacancy presents an opportunity to install Nick (KA1HPM) on the Board in the capacity of Chatham County liaison officer.  Nick is currently actively working with the Chatham County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to establish radio infrastructure at several fire stations and other county premises.  OCRA has agreed to support this effort by lending Chatham county our repeater. Nick will serve as OCRA’s repeater custodian.  OCRA and Chatham EOC still need to finalize and formalize scope, responsibilities, and draft a document of understanding.  However, strengthening county relationships and providing assistance in support of emergency response is a primary goal of amateur radio, and OCRA is happy to help.

NCOCRA.ORG

Dan (KR4UB) has done an outstanding job of enhancing OCRA’s on-line presence.  The website is quickly become data central for all of OCRA’s general announcements, membership information, activities calendar and historical records.  The site captures personal interest for use in program development and field day assignments.

Dan is exploring the websites survey function this year to match interest and availability in staffing Field Day 2019.  We would encourage each member to login and update their areas of amateur radio interest.

From the interest list we have identified several topics for future membership meetings: Fox hunting, Satellites, and Dxing.  Please update your interest profile and let us know what topics you would like discussed at a membership meeting.

Our next membership meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 11 at the Efland Baha’i Center.  Topic considerations include building jumper cables, powerpole connectors, and crimping.  This is a great opportunity to learn something new and refresh skills.  Hope to see your there.

DurHam Fest

The 2019 Durham Fest will be held on Saturday of Memorial weekend.  Please bookmark the following link to DFMA as more details will be posted shortly.  OCRA Board approved renting two tables to sell items at RARS Fest.  Hope to see you there. 73

OCRA Board Meeting – January 28, 2019

Attendance:

Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Wilson (W4BOH), Steve (W3AHL), Lad (W4ORD), Keith (W1KES)

Program Development

A primary focus for OCRA in 2019 is establishing monthly programs of interest.  The Elfand Baha’i Center’s location is ideal for hosting various amateur radio programs.  The large gathering area near the kitchen provides ample space for converting dining tables to workshop stations. The large yard provides opportunities for establishing a quick HF station for educating club members on best practices and new techniques.

Several program ideas were discussed:

  1. Understanding coax options and appropriate use
  2. Soldiering techniques
  3. Creating and connecting Anderson power poles.

There are many wonderful videos on Youtube providing understanding on the topics above.

Soldering 101 for Makers and Radio Hams:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqz1xGj_m_E

Installing Power Pole Connectors:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUPWKxPGRGI

What are your program suggestions?  What would you like to learn or teach?  Please leave your comments below.