OCRA Membership Meeting, September 10, 2018

Introductions:

Sixteen members were present, with three people taking exams.

Treasurer Report:

Balance continues to be strong.  Currrent membership is at 78, with 23 needing renewal, and one expiring this month.

Seventeen new members have joined since January.

Repeater:

Dan (KR4UB) brought the latest Southeastern Repeater Association (SERA) repeater journal, providing a listing of repeater frequencies and other relevant information. The SERA was founded in 1971 as the North Carolina FM Repeater Association Inc., when a group of state repeater owners got together to form an organization designed to assist in coordinating, providing communication & technical information, and bringing together all amateur repeater owners into one united body.

RepeaterBook applications are available for Android and Apple devices.  The applications are helpful to identify local repeaters during travels.

Have another Meal (HAM)

Wilson (W4BOH) has offered to host a family friendly, fall cookout of burgers and dogs in October.  You should have received an email via the group.io list serve.  If you did not receive an email, but are interested in attending, please let Wilson known. Please bring vegetables and desserts to share.

Green Bank Telescope

Dan (KR4UB) is planning to revisit the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Green Bank, West Virginia.  The Green Bank site was part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) until September 30, 2016. Since October 1, 2016, the telescope has been operated by the newly separated Green Bank Observatory. The telescope honors the name of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd who represented West Virginia and who pushed the funding of the telescope through Congress.

The Green Bank Telescope operates at meter to millimeter wavelengths. Its 100-meter diameter collecting area, unblocked aperture, and good surface accuracy provide superb sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1–116 GHz operating range. The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire local celestial hemisphere is accessible. It is used for astronomy about 6500 hours every year, with 2000–3000 hours per year going to high-frequency science.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES):

ARES:

Steve (W3HAL) stated OC Emergency Services has requested that OC ARES/AUXCOMM volunteers be on standby for probable activation to support evacuation shelters due to forecasted flooding, high winds and power outages. Details are pending updates on Hurricane Florence’s path and timing and probably won’t be available until late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The typical scenario would have one or two shelters plus the EOC opening, with a team of two ham radio operators per site for two 12 hour shifts per day.  That would require 12 volunteers each day.

As always, the first priority is to make sure your family is safe and prepared for the storm, as mentioned on Saturday’s ARES Training net.  Meanwhile, evaluate your availability to deploy on Thursday, 09/13 through Saturday, 09/15.  If you think you might be available, depending, on how the storm actually affects our area of course, please email me directly so I can get a rough idea of how many volunteers might be available.

Volunteers would need to be registered in the AUXCOMM database to deploy to the EOC.  For shelters, at least one on the team would need AUXCOMM registration and the second could be an ARES volunteer.

And one final reminder to log into the AUXCOMM database and verify your contact info is still valid, if you haven’t done so recently.   https://www.auxcomm.us/db/nc/  (Ignore the certificate error notice)

Please contact Steve w3ahl@att.net for further information

Hog Day:

Hillsborough Hog Day may be postponed or cancelled due to Florence.  Please check the website for up-to-date information.

Boy Scouts Jamboree:

Jamboree-on-the-Air, or JOTA, is the largest Scouting event in the world. It is held annually the third full weekend in October. JOTA uses amateur radio to link Scouts and hams around the world, around the nation, and in your own community. This jamboree requires no travel, other than to a nearby amateur radio operators ham shack. Many times you can find the hams will come to you by setting up a station at your Scout camporee, at the park down the block, or perhaps at a ham shack already set up at your council’s camp.

Martin (KA5JUJ) shared how one creates a cantenna, a tin can waveguide for WiFi.

Baofeng handheld radios are popular in the amateur radio community as inexpensive, entry level HTs.  Future OCRA membership programs including learning more about repeater operations, programming a Baofeng, and overcoming “mic fright.”

OCRA Membership Meeting, August 13, 2018

Introductions:

Treasurer Report:  Dan (KR4UB)

Club balance was reported.

Dan created a new attendance sheet.  He also went through old club records to capture the date members joined.  There are many current members who helped establish the club in the early 1990s, when the club was called the Orange County Wireless Pioneers.  Steve Jackson (KZ1X) was the spark plug for establishing the club.  The first meeting was in the community room of OWASA.  Anyone with club records, please let Dan know. Dan will scan and add the content to the site, which will help preserve club records.

Dan has a repeater still occupying space in his basement.  The current repeater market in Durham and Alamance is rather saturated.  However, as Chatham County is growing, so is the need for communication towers.  Nick (KA1HPM) mentioned that the county is planning to install several new towers for 2020.   There may be opportunities to relocate the repeater to a tower in Chatham County for amateur radio and CERT usage.

Field Day results:

While radio propagation was sketchy, we were able to accumulate 2000 more points this year over last.  Every station, minus 80 meters, was able to increase their score, with digital exceeding last year by over 1000 points.   This year’s numbers will change slightly as Dave (W4SAR) thoroughly combs the combined log to eliminate duplicate contacts, fix broken exchanges, and eliminate broken exchanges that cannot be made good:

For more detailed information on Field Day, we encourage you to read the July 2018 DFMA newsletter. https://www.dfma.org/TheLink/2018/Link1807web.pdf

Show and Tell

Steve (KZ1X) was cleaning out an old radio box and brought in a Micron SWR field strength meter, which may have been purchased as the old Radio Shack in University Mall.  The Micron measures the amount of signal transmitted by your antenna system, and a signal pattern can be plotted by taking readings around your antenna.  The meter covers 3 to 30 MHz and can handle up to 1KW.

He also brought alligator clips with magnifier glass used for splicing wire and adding connectors.

Dave (KW4XL) brought in several 3D printed products, including a raspberry pi hotspot case and working crescent wrench.

The next membership meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 10.  Hope to see you there!

OCRA Membership Meeting, July 9, 2018

Meeting Attendance: 28

Treasurer:

  • Club balance is still strong. Current membership is 79, with 24 requiring renewal.  The club has added 17 new members this year.
  • Field Day – Thanks to all who assisted, supported, and participated in the Field Day food preparation and delivery. The pre-paid approach for Saturday’s evening meal and Sunday’s breakfast was very successful.  For Saturday’s meal there were 44 pre-paid with 6 people paying at meal time.  Likewise, for Sunday’s breakfast there were 36 pre-paid with 4 people paying at meal time. The success of meal pre-pay may become a new payment model for future field day meals.
  • Overall, the club profited $174 from meals, which will be added to our club coffers.

Field Day (FD) Recap:

Dave (W4SAR) provided a comparisons of 2017-2018 point totals.  For 2017 the total point was 19,760.  For 2018, we had an estimated total of 21,635.  Dave should have final 2018 totals in the next several weeks.  Congratulations to all for the great work securing the additional points…and the fun had by all.

This year, the Digi mode was a good success.  Dan (KR4UB) mentioned that Digital radio mode success in amateur radio has been partly attributed to the work of Joe Taylor (K1JT), who developed the WSJT-X software.  Joe is a noble prizing winning physicist, who has focused the past two decades on weak signal communication.  Joe is the developer behind several popular digital protocols like FT8 and JT65.

General FD Observations:

  • Less interference on 40 and 15 SSB than years past.
  • Accessible stations in garage worked well for all.
  • N1MM network may require piloting the software and associated computers a few weeks prior to FD. This may help reduce complexity, however, much of the issues are not the result of the application.  Rather, the issues are more likely attributed to the Microsoft OS and configuration of personal computers. Other clubs purchase refurbished PCs for FD from NewEgg to reduce configuration mismatch.

Band Captain Comments:

  • 40/15 SSB propagation and noise on the bands most of Saturday. By Sunday morning the bands opened with much less noise.
  • CW worked well…3 stations covered all night. Better scheduling provided coverage through the morning hours.  Power was more stable this year over lasts.
  • 20 SSB – had similar propagation and noise issues like other SSB stations. The station ran on solar power directly or from batteries recharged by solar throughout the entire FD.
  • 80 SSB did not have as many operators as years past. Was difficult getting confirmation due to static on the receiver.
  • Digital was well covered and enjoyed throughout the event. However, next year more comfortable seating will be needed.
  • VHF was challenging, but the 5 element Yagi provided a noticeable return on the points.

FD Logistics

  • For the larger antennas, a dedicated spotter on point for ensuring safety should be available, with agreed upon standard communication and terms. Additionally, a tower safety demonstration and additional guide wires for support may reduce operational risk.
  • Replace the wood antenna support “walk up” with metal. This will reduce the likelihood of the wood splitting and causing the tower to fall and potential hurt people.
  • The scheduling spreadsheet helped ensure adequate coverage of stations throughout the event.

Should we plan to add a Sunday lunch? Please reply to this post with your suggestions. We would enjoy reading your ideas!

 

OCRA Membership Meeting, June 11, 2018

Introductions:

Treasure:

Financials remain very strong, and we are current on club insurance. Dues current is 73.

Field Day:  June 22-24

Food:

Friday night pot luck is being coordinated by John Boone (KM4MDR).  Setup is Friday, June 22.  Dinner will begin at 6:00 PM.  We would appreciate your letting us know in advance if you plan to attend so we can better plan for the number of guests.  Spouses are welcome.  If you have any questions, please email John at jsboone@msn.com.

If you plan to attend, please email John your call sign, name(s), number of folks attending, the dish you plan to bring, and special requirements, your phone # or email.  Please let us know if you can setup for dinner or clean up after dinner.

  • To date, 26 have purchased tickets at $5 dollars. Reimbursement will be available until June 18.  Please reference the Meal article below on this blog.
  • Still need cooks to help with preparation.
  • Emails from groups.io will keep everyone informed over the next 2 weeks.

Stations

We will be operating 9A again this year.  The list of stations are as follows:

CW – in MCU – Bruce (N1LN)

80 SSB – In RV – Steve (W3AHL)

40/15 SSB – In Trailer – Joe (K4SAR) and Adro (KV7D)

20 SSB – In Trailer Lad (W4ORD)

10 SSB – In Barn Dave (N4AVY)

40/15 Digital – In Garage Dave (W4SAR)

20 Digital – In Garage Sherri (WB4OSU)

VHF – In RV Doug (K5ETS)

Accessible stations will be located in the Garage.

Logging Software Overview

Bruce (N1LN) presented an N1MM overview.  The presentation is located on the Groups.io web sitehttps://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/files#

Login credentials are required to access presentations.

A few key points include:

  • Band captains should ensure a PC is available for their station.
  • Will need to ensure that software is installed and working.
  • All stations must be same version (1.0.7193.0) to work properly.

Steve (W3AHL) provided an overview of the networking. Initial setup will be Friday afternoon.

Please refer to presentations on the groups.io website.  https://groups.io/g/OCRA-DFMA/files#

Login credentials are required to access presentations.

OCRA Board Meeting, May 28, 2018

++ Please Note: Field Day – Prepay Meal explained below. 

Attendees:

Dave (W4SAR), Karen (KD4YJZ), Dee (KU4GC), MK (W4MKR), Steve (W3AHL), Dan (KR4UB), Keith (W1KES), Wilson (W4BOH), Lad (W4ORD), and Bill (N8BR)

Field Day:  Prepay Meals

For this year’s 2018 Field Day, OCRA and DFMA are asking attendees to prepay ($5) for the Field Day June 23, Saturday 5 PM super and June 24 Sunday Breakfast (will refund if you must cancel, provided written cancellation is received before the food purchase date noted below.)  This is necessary to avoid the club losing significant money or, asking members who do show up to pay a higher amount to cover those who do not.

Prepayment authorizes the club to buy food on your behalf and can be by cash or check at the next meeting or mailed.  PayPal costs for many small payments is excessive and precludes use of that feature. Meal orders must be received by OCRA by June 18th.  Vegetarian meals are available. If you pay and later find you must cancel, send an email to treasurer@ncocra.org prior to the June 19th food order date, and your payment will be refunded or, you can use it as a tax deductible donations to the club, or extend your memberships, hihi.

The food purchase committee consisting of Lad, MK,and Dee will work with Jean (KR4UB ‘s XYL) to coordinate logistics.  We are seeking donations from Food Lion and possible Costco, but will reconsider whether donations are needed for next year.

DFMA Hamfest: 

The DFMA Hamfest was a good success.  OCRA club table netted $52.  The Volunteer Examiner (VE) session was successful with outcomes for 2 Extra, 4 General, and 3 Technician.

Repeater:

OCRA Board has decided to limit pursuing UNC campus for a repeater location. Instead, the priority will be to keep the 442.150 repeater active and on the air,  and ensure we have a trusted, hot-swappable repeater for backup.

We are actively seeking interested OCRA members to join the Repeater “team.”  This is a great opportunity for interested Hams to learn more about maintaining and supporting repeaters in the local area. If interested, please leave responsed to this post, or send an email to board@ncocra.org.

 

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 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!

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.