Category Archives: Club Meeting Presentation Topics

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:

Treasurer:

  • 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.

DIY:

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

  1. http://www.eham.net/articles/5217
  2. http://www.instructables.com/id/air-variable-capacitor-from-scrap-aluminum-sheets/

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 chanoia33@gmail.com

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.

 

 

 

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.

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/MobileAmateurRadioPolicyStatement.pdf

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.

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/pr91-36.pdf

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  http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_20/GS_20-79.4.html

02/27/17 OCRA Board Meeting

Photo of KK4BPH, Mike’s photography studio (note the back drops)  where the OCRA board meets.

Nice large screen TV for presentations, internet access for live demos and Mike generously provides coffee and some goodies to munch on.

Joel KM4NOU is demonstrating some new OCRA website features to the OCRA board under development.

Dan, KR4UB showing off (again!) how easy it is to post to the OCRA website from his Android phone.