OCRA Club Meeting April 9, 2018

Introductions:

Treasurer Report: 

We have a strong financial balance.  Current membership listing is located under the Membership tab.

Repeater Update:

Dan (KR4UB) explained that installing the repeater at UNC is not cost effective at this time.  The club is seeking a cost sharing arrangement with UNC.  More information will be known later this Spring.

General Reports:

  • Raleigh (RARS) Fest – The Club sold a few items totaling $40 dollars. Thanks to Steve’s (KZIX) $67 donation at the meeting, we added a total of $107 to our savings account.
  • Durham Fest is Saturday, May 26, 2018. Tickets are now available.   – Tickets available.  Link to site with Dates.
  • The Tar Heel 10 Miler is April 21st. The Tar Heel 10 Miler and Fleet Feet 4 Mile run both start at the UNC Chapel Hill Bell Tower running you through the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, the historic Rosemary district, the UNC Campus and the beautiful Gimghoul neighborhood. Steve (W3HAL) has inquired with race management regarding amateur radio support.  We should have an update in the next week or two.
  • A VE Session is scheduled for Saturday, April 14th at the Orange County Emergency Services Center. Thanks to Paul (N2XZF), Nick (KA1HPM), Andy (W4KIL) and Dave (NA4VY) for their assistance.
  • OCRA has experience difficulties managing our emails distribution with Yahoo. As such, earlier this month Dave (W4SAR) transitioned our Yahoo account to Groups.io, which provides a more mature platform providing more features and easier group management.
  • Field Day is approaching…June 23 and 24. We are planning to retain the same band captions, but will move Digital to field, which will make the barn available for more easily accessible stations. We plan to leverage the NCOCRA blog calendar to manage station coverage throughout the event.  Still looking for a “few good hams” to manage the food committee.  If interested, please let Dave (W4SAR) know.

Program:

Vertical T-Wire Top Antenna 80 and 160 Meter Vertical and 80 Meter Dipole

Wilson was inspired by the  Bouvet expedition to build a “T” Top Antenna for 80 and 160 Meter.  While the Bouvet expedition was not successful (Inclement Weather) the “T” antenna was successful.  For more information on the Antenna, please reference Dan’s (KR4UB) blog article, “The Lurid Details of a W4BOH antenna for Bouvet.”

For more information on Low-Band DXing, Wilson recommends John Devoldere (ON4UN) book,  Low-Band Dxing: Antennas, Equipment and Techniques for DXcitement on 160, 80, and 40 Meters.

An overview of the EZNEC design and analyzer measurements of W4BOH’s 160/80M vertical/dipole antenna, as of mid-March is located at:
https://groups.io/g/OCRADFMA/files/Antenna%20Designs/W4BOH%20160M%20&%2080M%20Vertical%20T-Wire%20Elevated%20Radials%20L-Netwk%20&%2080M%20Dipole%20Project%20031218.pdf

Andy (W4KIL) presented a 5W CW Transceiver kit by QRP Labs.  The transceiver is a feature rich, high performing, single-band 5W CW transceiver kit, with WSPR beacon and built-in alignment/test equipment for only $49.

OCRA Club Meeting Monday, April 9th Presentation – The Lurid Details of a W4BOH antenna for Bouvet

When the Bouvet Island DXpedition was announced, some of W4BOH, Wilson’s DXer friends ganged up on him and urged him to put up a respectable antenna for 160m, since making a contact with Bouvet on 160 would be a real challenge. Or maybe they wanted company in the misery of not contacting Bouvet.

In any case, Wilson exercised his best management skills and recruited expert assistance from two of the DXer friends to help design and erect the antenna, which turned out to be a 57 foot top loaded vertical with four tuned radials. Always looking for a bargain, Wilson got W3AHL, Steve to adjust the EZNEC model to make the antenna potentially useful on other bands and in other configurations by changing the matching arrangement at the base.

Once the design was done, WA4PSC, Howie visited the Land of Magic and made two magnificent shots with his PBTBL (PneumoBallistic Tennis Ball Launcher) to get ropes over some of the highest trees at the OCRA/DFMA Field Day Site. At least the last two shots were magnificent. Steve then helped assemble some strong wire, of unknown parentage, into something resembling his design and helped pull it up into the ether. Of course his skill and analyzer were used to tune the radials to bring the antenna to resonance in the low end of 160m.

You’ll have to come to the OCRA Monday, April, 9th meeting to learn the lurid details of just what the beast (the antenna) looks like and what it can do on the air. Who knows, there might even be another story about getting a suitable amplifier assembled in time to contact (Or NOT) Bouvet some day.

OCRA Board Meeting, February 26, 2018

Attendees:

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

Treasurer Report:  Balance is still strong, current membership is 77 active members.

Tower Report

Tower Engineering provided a quote to complete the drawings, gain state approval, and install the antenna.  However, the quote is cost prohibited for the club.  Dan (KR4UB) and Steve (W3AHL) will schedule time with UNC to discuss a possible cost sharing arrangement.

Meeting Development and Membership Encouragement

 Meeting development and membership encouragement is a primary focus this year.  As expressed in the last Membership meeting, and again in this Board meeting, we are seeking ideas on how to improve the meeting experience.  Below are a list of suggestions and actions being taken to enhance our membership meetings.  We encourage members to provide feedback and get involved.

Amateur Radio Club Development is based on establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationship.  We encourage members to get involved in the club.  If you have interests, skills, or experiences you wish to share with new hams, or the general membership, please let any of the Board members know.

Suggestions and Actions:

  • Keith (W1KES) contact the Chapel Hill High School to begin discussing presenting Amateur Radio to the Physics class.
  • John (KX4P) will be facilitating our next meeting program. The topic should be finalized later this month.
  • Kurt (N2PCC) is working with published schematics to build his own 40 meter Benson small meter. Once complete he is willing to be program topic.
  • Dan (KR4UB) is installing software to the NCOCRA blog that will allow members to add pictures directly to the blog.
  • Dave (W4SAR) is establishing an Elmer resource pool. After Membership introductions, we need to ask if there are questions, or if anyone needs assistance.  If so, we can assign an Elmer to assist.
  • Wilson (W4BOH) has offered his barn for wheel chair accessible for Field Day. The barn has a concrete floor and would be more wheel chair friendly than the grass.
  •  The board suggested scheduling a portable station at a local park to provide a demonstration and educate new hams and the public to the wonderful world of amateur radio.

Dave (W4SAR) will take the suggestions above and those offered at the last membership meeting to develop a plan, which he will communicate at the next membership meeting.

We want to hear from you.  Please provide a suggestions by replying to this post.  73

Springtime at Virlie’s

Springlike weather coaxed eight hams out of their shacks for the weekly breakfast and kaffeeklatsch at Virlie’s Restaurant in Pittsboro this past Saturday. If Spring was in the air, so were tales of LDE’s (Long Delayed Echoes). Nick, KA1HPM and John, KX4P were in a roundtable on 75 meters when they experienced delays of around 1 second on the signals of several of the participants. The phenomenon lasted for about thirty seconds per occurrence. One of the most popular extant theories is that signals are trapped between two ionized layers and are guided around the world several times before falling out of a hole in the bottom layer.

Roy, WA2JLW, loaded up some N1MM contest software and enjoyed playing in the ARRL DX CW contest the previous weekend.

Terry, KK4JGT, has organized our first emergency communications coverage test for Chatham County this Monday evening on the OCRA 440 repeater which the OCRA crew has generously allowed us to use during emergencies and training. Terry also described his copper pipe dual band J pole.

Bill, N8BR, had a motherboard crash, but retrieved the hard drive intact. He is working on also retrieving his old log files from that drive.

Dave, W4INN, is getting into the swing of spring by planning to do some gardening.

Pete, K4PHS, brought his newly constructed 30 meter WSPR beacon. Transmitting with 1 watt and a dipole in the attic, it has been received in Europe and Antarctica.

Herb, N4HA, hopes he’ll figure out how to program his new HT before the repeater test Monday evening.

Please join us for radio fun Saturday mornings at Virlie’s Restaurant in Pittsboro around 8:30 AM.

Herb, N4HA

OCRA Membership Meeting, February 12, 2018

 Introductions:

Suggestion was given to shorten introductions to just name, call sign, and location.  This would reduce the overall meeting time.  However, we want to encourage new people to talk about their experience and interests.

New hams will receive a free year membership to OCRA.  This is a great deal that we need to market better.

Treasurer:

Strong financial balance with 70 currently paid members.

Website:

Dan (KR4UB) has added a new document repository on the site.  We encourage members to post radio related documents that would benefit the membership. Likewise, if there are informative amateur radio YouTube videos, please post a link.  Our intention is to make our Website a great starting points and interactive resource for sharing ideas, experiences, and events.

Similarly, Google calendar is now on the site.  Under the “Events” section, located on the top ribbon, you can keep informed about when and where Membership and Board meetings, local nets, public service opportunities.

Repeaters:

Dan (KR4UB) and Steve (W3AHL) are working to get a quote to determine the feasibility for re-establish the repeaters back on the UNC campus.

ARES/Public Service:

Steve’s (W3AHL) recently has been absence on Saturday morning nets due to other public service commitments.  Mark your calendars now, the Tar Heel 10 Miler will occur April 21. Please clear your schedule and get your HT ready!

Dave (W4SAR) is near the top ranking of VE sessions participation in the Roanoke region. Thank you Dave for your years of commitment.

RARS Fest:

 Dee (KU4GC) requested and the Treasure approved expenditure to support 2 tables. This is a great opportunity to part with old equipment and purchase new, and add dollars to the club coffers.

Mission and Membership:

The OCRA club was established in the early 1990’s when life was technically simpler.  With the advent of competing technology provided by the Internet and cell phones, the role of amateur radio has changed.  This year, the Club is embarking on a discussion to revisit our Mission statement and discuss how we can enhance the Membership experience.

With the club beginning to age out, how do encourage new membership, increase active participation, and prepare for succession planning?  These are questions we seek answers to sustain trained hams for community service, promote the fraternal aspects of radio, and encourage technical outreach.

During this Membership meeting, many people raised questions, voiced concerns, and offer suggestions to improve club participation and amateur radio awareness in the area.  We truly appreciate the engagement and discussion.  Below are some of the salient points that were raised and will be discussed in future meetings.

  • The role of ARES and Auxiliary Communication has changed over the past several decades with increased consolidation and redundant infrastructure. What and how can we leverage these roles in OCRA?
  • How do we foster more relevancy with newer hams?
  • Chatham County Emergency Management has expressed interest in establishing an amateur radio CERT team. The 442.15 repeater is ideally located to support this effort.
  • Increase “hands on” programming to learn about lightning surge suppression, antenna building, and grounding.
  • Show and Tell makes for good programming. We have many DIY hams that engage in educational and fun development projects, which make for a good program.
  • Explore amateur radio in local high schools as an introduction during a class room and/or sustained activity with a station.
  • Establish a group build activity (QST project) where hams meet for a day or two to construct an antenna, or create various types of feedline.
  • Cross pollenate amateur radio with other local groups or clubs, like Linux club. Many hams use Linux in the shack.  Perhaps this becomes a cooperative topic for those interested in combining amateur radio with computers.
  • Park the MCU at a mall for a day. This would provide us an educational opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the continuum of amateur radio activities like satellites, repeaters, DX, etc.
  • Establish a bi-monthly agenda that repeats each year. The 5-6 agendas would be an annual topic .

What other ideas do you have?  Please be sure to “reply” to this post.  We look forward to hearing from you!

February 12th Meeting – The Program is You!

Our next monthly meeting will be held 7:00pm Monday at the Efland Baha’i Center.

The program is…You! I believe our club is at a crossroads, times and situations have changed since the founding of the club over 25 years ago. At our recent board meeting, concerns were raised that the long-term core membership is aging out, some of us have worked hard over many years and want to avoid burn-out. The greatest concern perhaps, is assuring a succession of the club to newer generations of hams, and the passing on of the club’s knowledge base and technical ability to keep the repeaters running, and to keep a pool of trained communicators available for public service and emergencies in our area. We don’t want to see a malaise and decline set in, but want the club to be fun and vibrant.

So let’s have a serious discussion, we want to hear from you what can be done to revitalize the club. Are changes needed? What can we do to build a technical pool? What engaging, fun things can we get into?

We already have Field Day, probably the single biggest group project we engage in (with the DFMA).
Can we get teams for other contests as well?
What hands-on “clinics” would you like?
What presentations would you like best?

It is your club, tell us what you like about it, what is not working, what you would want to see done.

73,

Dave, W4SAR

OCRA Board Meeting, January 28, 2018

Attendance:

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

Topics:

  • Thanks to Wilson for hosting the meeting at his home.
  • Keith will reach out to Chapel Hill High School to explore the possibility of introducing students to the hobby.

Treasury

73 membership dues are current and an appropriate reserve balance is in our accounts.

For 2017 our expenditures exceeded income by $457. The largest contributor to our negative balance was the purchase of the extra repeater, which was a great value for the price.

Repeater

The 442.150 MHz repeater currently has limited usage. Steve (W3AHL) mentioned that resident’s of Chatham county would be interested in establishing a local CERT. The Board would support the usage of the repeater for CERT and encourage the residents to focus on developing the team. Similarly, the Board encourages OCRA members to join and support ARES, which is a great way for new hams to become familiar with equipment and techniques.

What questions, technical or procedural, would you like answered? Let us know.

OCRA Membership Meeting, January 8, 2018

Introductions:

Treasurer:

  • 71 membership dues are current and an appropriate reserve balance is in our accounts
  • Individual OCRA members supported the Bouvet DXpedition with $210 dollars’ worth of donations. The Board agreed to match individual donations up to $200, thus total contributions from OCRA for the DXpedition were $410.

Quick Notes:

  • First 2018 OCRA Membership meeting at Efland Baha’i Center went well. Membership agreed to continue using the facility for the remainder of the year.  Thanks to Dave, W4SAR, for managing the new location.
  • Dan, KR4UB, has made updates to the NCOCRA website. The goal of the updates are to improve the user experience, search ability, and navigation. Please let us know your thoughts on the changes and any suggestions for improvements in the “reply” section.
  • Steve (K1ZX) presented the FA-VA4 Vector Antenna Analyzer Kit from com. This low cost, $139 antenna analyzer powered by 2 x AA alkaline batteries, has graphing capabilities and provides one port measurement of frequencies ranging from 100 kHz to 100 MHz with a system impedance of 50 Ohms (BNC).  Good features at an affordable price….Thanks for sharing Steve.
  • Sherri Rapp, WB4OSU, recently purchased an Elecraft KX3, nice! As such, she is no longer in need of her Kenwood 440.  If interested please email Sherri at staleyrapp@mebtel.net or call her at 336.253.5549

Repeaters:

Dan, KR4UB, made large scale copies of the current Tower drawings.  He and Steve, KZ1X, will present the drawings to Tower Engineering in Raleigh to assist in the feasibility of putting the repeater on the air.

2018 Elections Results:

Officers:

Dave Snyder, W4SAR – President

Lad Carrington, W4ORD – Vice President

Keith Stouder, W1KES – Secretary

Dan Eddleman, KR4UB – Treasurer

Board Members At Large:

Karen Snyder, KD4YJZ

Dee Ramm, KU4GC

Wilson Lamb, W4BOH

Program Committee:

Wilson Lamb, W4BOH

Bill Bischoff, N8BR

Lad Carrington, W4ORD

Christmas Dinner:

The 2017 Christmas Dinner held at the Hillsborough Exchange Club was well attended, and enjoyed by all.  Thanks to Lad for managing the details and for being a very gracious host.

Discussion regarding the 2018 Christmas Dinner entertained the idea of purchasing tickets in advance, rather than pay at the door.  This payment approach would better ensure an accurate head count and associated cost.  Further discussion will be occur later in the year.

 Field Day 2018:

There was much discussion on how to improve the Field Day experience.  Several notable discussion points included:

  • Establishing a food committee with dedicated resources responsible for suppling and preparing the meals.
  • Establish an operator schedule to ensure coverage of stations throughout the event.
  • Operational options ranging from antenna design and deployment to use of a bucket truck for adequate antenna height.
  • Sherri, WB4OSU, and Loren, KV4ZR offered to assist Lad on the food committee.

These discussion points as well as others will continue to be debated and discussed at future Board and Membership meetings as we get closer to the 2018 Field Day, June 23-24.

Membership Meeting Improvements:

Steve, KZ1X, suggested leveraging the large screen TV and wireless access for displaying content, like documents and videos, focusing on “how to” programs.  Wilson, W4BOH, also mentioned that there is good amateur radio content on the Internet that we can use in developing membership programming.

This new program approach may provide new Hams an opportunity to explore and learn about the hobby, while providing experience Hams an opportunity to share their experiences, best practices, and lessons learned.

If you have additional ideas or suggestions on how to improve the membership meeting experience, please reply below.

 

Hams & Eggs at Virlie’s

An octet of hungry hams conclaved at Virlie’s in Pittsboro for the last breakfast gathering of the year this past Saturday morning.

John, KX4P, brought in a broken main frequency dial digital encoder for the group’s examination. It was from a Collins KWM-380 from the 1979-83 era that he recently repaired.

Dave, W4INN, determined to get on the air one way or another, is toying with the idea of just running anantenna wire out the window. Dave likes bees because he likes honey. His daughter-in-law gave him a whole jug of the stuff for Christmas.

Terry, KK4JGT, agrees. He has four hives now and a gardener neighbor who gives him produce in appreciation for his quadrupled yields since Terry became a beekeeper. With perhaps the best eyes in the group, he made several good observations regarding the shapes and orientation of the slots in the rotating disk assembly of John’s encoder.

Nick, KA1HPM, described working back-in-the-day with, and the workings of, the coordinateograph, a beautiful machine which is basically a highly precise Etch-a-Sketch. He is still puzzling out his mysterious loss of power on FT8.

Roy, WA2JLW, commented on the Bouvet Island DXpedition as well as CW and digital operations. He is now getting out of his back yard on 160 with his improved antenna which sports a pair of 30 foot radials.

John, KK4VUR, reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX will attempt to put a car into heliocentric orbit on its next test launch. Maybe a Tesla? John confessed that he has been listening to HF on his SDR. (Ah, the HF siren beckons.)

Bill, N8BR, suggested that John try a vertical antenna for his HF SWLing. Bill is bracing for Bouvet.

Herb, N4HA, kept busy trying to remember what was being said so he could compose this. Thanks to KX4P for mnemonic assistance and the photo.

We hope you will join us in the new year for some stimulating conversation, friendship, and breakfast. We still meet around 8:30 AM.

Happy New Year to all.

and thanks to Herb, N4HA and John, KX4P for the always interesting reports and photo.