Category Archives: Club 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:

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

Attending:

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

 

OCRA Monthly Meeting, March 2017

The OCRA meeting for March was held on Monday, March 13, and was well attended with 31 operators in attendance! Always fun to hear the introductions and roundtable.

We started with an update from Steve on ARES. He has built and relocated cables in the emergency communications radio room, so they are ready for use. Additionally, he reported that classes are being offered during the first week of May for DHS emergency communications, ICS protocols, and AUXCOMM. Steve said:

  • The classes offered below are excellent opportunities, with the AUXCOMM course being the most useful for Amateur Radio operators with an ARES/AUXCOMM interest.  Note that to obtain certification, there is a task book requiring you demonstrate your understanding and ability to perform the tasks, witnessed  by a qualified supervisor.  Which is how critical training should be conducted!  You have about two years to complete the task book signoff, although many of the tasks can probably be completed during the Exercise on May 5th.
  • Note that prerequisites are:  completion of IS-100, 200, 700 & 800 courses; a General class license or above; experience with auxiliary communications and a desire to learn how to work with a COML in a NIMS/ICS environment.

See his email of March 13 for detailed information on how to sign up.

Dan presented the Treasurer’s report, including a discussion about the new membership processes. We have the new membership list on the website; dues updates will be posted to this list every two weeks. Dan also reported as repeater coordinator that the 442.15 repeater will be used for upcoming special events (see the website for information). He also reported that RARS is redoing their website, with a new location to sign up for public service events. OCRA leadership will be looking at ways we can also leverage online event signup.

Dee reiterated that we have a total of 4 tables for DFMA and OCRA at the upcoming RARSFest. Jack reported that we do need volunteers to help with DurHAMFest.

Joel and Dan gave a presentation on the member database on the new website, including the ability to collect information on member interests and make this available for search and filtering. We will be expanding our use of this database as we discover other things we want to collect and manage. Dan emphasized that we are doing this with security and privacy in mind, using HTTPS for data transmission.

Dave led a discussion about preliminary field day planning. He had previously posted a message about this, but emphasized that the clock was running and we needed to start detailed planning as we are only 3 months out. Getting band captains identified is critical! Bruce will be organizing CW, Lad will do 20 phone, Adriano will do 40 phone, we’ll run 10 and 15 together. John and Dave will be working on digital modes, and Jack will do a VHF station. A major change will be use of a common logging program, N1MM. Bruce will lead a training session on this. Joel suggested using the Zoom communication program for an online training session, and all agreed that this was a good idea.  Joel volunteered to do a presentation on Zoom at the April member meeting. This will be very helpful to Joel, as he’s out of town on a business trip for the April member meeting, and this way he can not only attend but present!

OCRA Club Meeting – March 13, 2017

Dan, KR4UB takes yet another photo with his cell phone and, having editor authority, posts it to the OCRA website within minutes.  Pictured on the lower right corner is Joel, KM4NOU, OCRA Secretary and webmaster giving a presentation of recent capabilities he has recently added to the OCRA website. This includes the change to the website to make the section you are currently viewing,  the home page.  The intent is for the site to become the place where OCRA members can communicate on more of a real time basis, for example Dave W4SAR’s “presidents message” and frequent updates on 2017 Field Day planning. Members who would like to contribute articles of interest to the membership are encouraged to contact Joel the OCRA Club Secretary.

The second part of the demo was of the membership listing page and how members can update their information, whether it be vanity call sign changes, contact information, ham radio interest areas, check their dues expiration date and as has been on the site for some time, the PayPal links for dues payment.  Joel demonstrated how members can obtain their private access secure link to update their information.

He also gave a glimpse of the back end that powers this capability, a site plug-in called “Participants Database”. This tool is very flexible and easy to adapt to however the club membership elects to use it in the future.

Dan, KR4UB pointed out that the site uses SSL or Secure Sockets Layer that encrypts data to and from the user, whether it be from their computer, cellphone, tablet or notepad to the website.  This is the same methodology used for financial transactions over the internet.

OCRA Monthly Meeting, February 2017

The OCRA meeting for February was the first of 2017, due to inclement weather in early January. The first order of business was election of the slate of officers for 2017.

The following slate was presented:

  • President – David Snyder W4SAR
  • VP – Karen Snyder KD4YJZ
  • Secretary – Joel Dunn KM4NOU
  • Treasurer – Dan Eddleman KR4UB

There was one open board position, and Lad Carrington W4ORD was standing for that.

Incumbent President David Snyder asked for nominations from the floor. There were none, and the slate of candidates was affirmed by voice vote. We then had the following committee reports and announcements:

Treasurer’s report:

    • We have $300 more than last year, even with repeater maintenance
    • Encouraged the club to use smile.amazon.com and select OCRA as the receiving organization

ARES report:

  • We have been invited back to Tar Heel 10 miler on 4/22
  • 7000 runners, have 7 volunteers stationed along course
  • We need volunteers, it’s a good way to get into public service

Repeater operations:

  • UNC Neurosciences site is moving along, end of the process seems to be in sight

Hamfests:

  • Dee highlighted RARSFEST on 4/22, asked for approval for the club to buy two tables for $36 to allow the group to sell equipment; this was approved.
  • Jack discussed the Durham Hamfest on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, said they needed volunteers.

Report from the board meeting:

  • David said that there was a proposal to create a joint email list with DFMA. This was supported, as there is already considerable overlap in the membership of OCRA and DFMA. The Yahoo group has limitations, and other options were suggested, including “groups.io”. At this time the final direction has not been selected, but we will merge the two groups.
  • David also said that for the NCQSO party on 2/25-6, he would activate as W4UNC

Presentation:

  • Howie described his NPOTA activation of Moore’s Creek Bridge National Battlefield with slides and good humor!

Wrapup:

  • Lad gave a report on the Christmas dinner, and strongly encouraged more members to attend. We need to have enough to get favorable catering prices. Much discussion ensued about pricing, pre-payment options, and other methods to both increase participation and to make sure the we have enough attendees and that everyone who promises to come pays. Lad will be leading this again in 2017, so expect a few tweaks to be announced in the fall.

January 9th 2017 Meeting Canceled due to Winter Storm

Due to the winter storm affecting our area through the weekend, the Orange County EOC will be activating tonight , and at minimum will be active through Sunday. The monthly OCRA meeting, as well as the exam session has been cancelled. Elections for club officers and board members will be postponed until the February meeting.

I had contacted the EOC this morning, asking them to contact me as soon as possible if they believe the training room would be active use or on standby due to events. I received the response just a few minutes ago, and stated they felt it best that we make alternate arrangements as it is not clear when the EOC will stand down.I decided on a cancellation instead of a change in venue as travel conditions on Monday may still be unsettled

Thank you all for your understanding. Get the word out and stay safe.

/for Dave Snyder, W4SAR; by Dan, KR4UB