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.

 

January Meeting Location Change

Hello All, The renovations to the EOC have impacted the room in which we have held our monthly meetings. The room has been reduced to 18 seats, with cubicles on each side. Some of those cubicles are open, so in theory up to 30 may be able to participate.

After discussion with the board, we decided that this does not allow enough space for our monthly meetings, as sometimes we have more than 30 participants. The January meeting will be at the Orange County Baha’i Center in Efland, which has been used for a couple of exam sessions and for one membership meeting. Click the “Directions” link on the right for a Map.

The Fellowship Hall of the Baha’i Center can comfortably accommodate more than 60 people. There is a 55″ flat screen TV available for presentations. A kitchen is available so we can even lay on coffee and tea if so desired. I contacted the Baha’i Assembly, and since they know that the club’s mission is public service, they will allow usage of the center at no charge.

I proposed that we hold our next membership meeting at the Baha’i Center on January 8. Besides the elections, the membership can vote on whether they wish to continue holding the meetings at that location through November.

The Orange County Baha’i Center is located at 119 Maple Street, Efland ,NC 27243.

From Interstate 40/85, take Exit 160, turn north onto Mt. Willing Road. Go 0.3 miles, to the railroad crossing, and turn right onto Forrest Ave after go cross the tracks. Take the third left which is Maple St. Go past the church building and park in the gravel lot on the left. Enter through the church, go down the hallway to the left to the Fellowship Hall.

From Highway 70- Maple St is just west of the Efland Ruritan Club. Turn right onto Maple St, enter the gravel lot on the right.

One last- We are maintaining a toehold at the EOC, the exam sessions held on the 2nd Saturdays of the even-numbered months will continue to be held there.

73,

Dave Snyder, W4SAR

NCOCRA Membership Meeting, November 13, 2017

Introductions

Treasurer:

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

NCOCRA Annual Christmas Dinner:

The OCRA Annual Christmas dinner will be held this year at the Hillsborough Exchange Club on Monday, December 11, at 6:00 PM. We are striving to have attendance be above 60, which will secure the cost at $20 per person. Reservations for attendance are required no later than December 4th. Please email Lad (W4ORD) via the Yahoo reflector reserve your reservations.

Repeater Manager:

Danny Hampton made the Club aware that our current Kenwood TKR repeater series is being discontinued. As such, Dave (W4SAR), club president, made an executive decision to purchase an extra repeater as a spare.

The new backup repeater is identical to the one currently in operation.  This particular model is now discontinued, thus the urgency to purchase.  The new repeater was $1,000 and can be cloned to provide additional continuity for the existing repeater for many years.

For comparison, a newer repeater model is roughly $4000.  While the new repeaters are both digital and analogue, the additional cost would not have provided an identical clone to the existing repeater.  With the cost of tower work now around $1,000 per incident, cloning the existing repeater and having a ready backup made better fiscal sense than purchasing a newer repeater model.

Elmering or mentoring has long been the backbone of Amateur Radio. While technology constantly evolves, the human interaction between hams will not be replaced and will always remain one of the hobby’s strongest traditions. As such, there is a need to begin Elmering the next generation of FM repeater managers.  Understanding repeaters is a valuable skill for any ham, and especially for those ham’s interested in emergency response.

Please let Dan (KR4UB) or Steve (W3HAL) know of your interest to learn about repeater management.

ARES:

Public Service: AUX Comm site is down. Work is in progress to restore.

ARES Portable Station Equipment, Steve (W3AHL)

Many ARES/AUXCOMM events are best supported using a portable radio station.

“Portable” is defined here as:

Capable of being set up inside a building, such as a shelter.

  1. Twenty+ watts of output power.
  2. Antenna, mast and coax that allows placing the antenna outside, if necessary.
  3. Battery back-up capacity for 12 hours of heavy usage.

Often your mobile radio and antenna can serve as your portable go-kit (if easily removed from the car) by adding a battery, coax and mast.   An HT is not recommended as a primary portable station, although with an exterior gain antenna and a 12 VDC 7 AH battery, it may be sufficient for many locations.

Almost any VHF or UHF transceiver is suitable for portable operation.  A dual-band radio is desirable, but lacking that you may be able to use an HT or another single band radio to monitor activity on other nets.  The radio should be programmed with all of the frequencies in the ARES Communication Plan.  It should be used weekly or monthly to verify it is working.

Many ARES operators build a radio go-kit containing the radio, power supply, speaker, microphone, headphones, power/SWR meter and battery voltage meter permanently mounted in a self-contained box that may be weatherproof when closed.   Others keep their gear in a duffel bag, tote container, or just remove their mobile equipment when needed for portable operation.

Don’t forget to include “office supplies” like pens, note pads, ICS-213 General Message forms, stapler, tape, a small All-In-One printer/copier/scanner, etc.

Choosing the correct portable antenna system may be the most important decision in assembling your go-kit.  If local repeaters are off the air due to a storm and more distant repeaters or simplex operation is needed, your normal antenna may not be adequate.

We try to deploy in teams of 2 if enough volunteers are available.  That allows pooling of resources if one operator is missing some items needed for the site.

Some factors to consider are:

1.     Many commercial buildings will attenuate your signal and require using either an external antenna or one mounted near a window facing the required direction.

2.    A dual-band base, mobile or j-pole antenna that can be mounted on 15 feet of mast, with 75+ feet of coax is recommended.  A chart at the end compares the relative signal strength of typical antennas at various heights.  A 5’ base antenna mounted 15’ high will have 12 dB more gain than a mag-mount antenna on your car.  This is the equivalent of increasing your transmit power from 20 watts to almost 300 watts, without using more battery power.

3.   The mast can be a commercial push-up pole, 1.25” TV mast in 5’ sections or military surplus mast.  Fifteen feet is a good height that can be supported without guy wires and improves the antenna gain by 3-5 dB compared to 5’ height, or much more if it clears nearby obstructions.

4.   You should try to have several options for supporting the mast.  A tire board is good if open parking is near your operating position, which is often not the case.  A 3’ roof tripod can be used with a tire board, 12” long spikes driven into the ground, or with large rocks or cement blocks.   If guy wires are used to support the mast, they must be well-marked to avoid injury to pedestrians and cars.  This is often impractical, especially at night.  Chemical or LED battery powered light sticks on guy lines are a must.  Make sure they last all night.

5.    Coax and power cables must be routed to eliminate any hazards to foot traffic.  Red duct tape can secure it across aisles, but may leave a residue that is hard to remove.  White gaffers tape is a better option.  RG-8X coax can often be routed under a door threshold or window seal, but has 8 dB loss at 440 MHz per 100’.   Several shorter pieces of coax will allow you to use only what you need and reduce loss. Larger low-loss coax such as 9913F or Davis Bury-FLEX work well for long runs and only have 2.5 dB loss. Use a short piece of RG-8X to go under a tight door if needed.  Waterproof your connections.

6.   A simple power/SWR meter should be used to check your antenna & feed line before operating.  It’s better to find a shorted or open coax with a meter than by smelling smoke from your radio.

7.   Headphones are a must!  You will be able to hear messages more clearly and those sharing the space will appreciate the silence.

8.    Always carry a charged battery that will allow at least 12 hours of operation, assuming you will be transmitting 20% of that time typically.  An 80 amp-hour battery is rated to provide 4 amps for 20 hours, but your radio may not operate below 11.2 volts, so you may only get 12-15 hours instead of 20.  And batteries that are old, too cold or have been over-discharged may provide only a fraction of their rated power.   Carry a spare and learn how to load test a battery.

9.   The battery cables must be fused near the battery.  If the battery is connected to a power supply, use dual diodes to isolate them (or a West Mountain PowerGate), or you may fry the power supply when you lose AC power.   Battery terminals should be insulated to prevent accidental shorting.  Looded-cell batteries should always be in a battery case to prevent acid leakage during charging.

10. Use Anderson PowerPole connectors on all power cables.  Borrow a PowerPole crimper to make your cables. Don’t use a single-dimple crimper if you want reliable connections.

11. If your antenna is inside the building you may desensitize other agency’s radios or interfere with public address systems.

12. Frequently check your antenna, mast, coax and power for safety issues.   Don’t allow your station to become part of the emergency!

13. Once you get your portable go-kit packed up, actually use it occasionally, even if it is just in your back yard during the Saturday ARES Training Net.

Portable Antenna Performance Comparison

Relative gain in dB compared to a mobile mag mount, as measured from W3AHL to W4UNC 443.475 repeater at UNC Hospital (5.5 miles) in 2009 using a spectrum analyzer.

Antenna Mounting

Gain dB Relative to Mag Mount

Diamond X50NA (dual band base) 5′ Tripod

7

Diamond X50NA 10′ Tripod

10

Diamond X50NA 15′ Tripod

12

Diamond X50NA 25′ Roof mast

14

Diamond NR770HB (dual band mobile) Mag Mount on 5′ Tripod or SUV Roof

0

J-pole dual band (300 ohm twin-lead DIY) top 10′ above ground (hung from gutter)

0

18″ whip for HT 5′ Tripod

-1

18″ whip for HT hand held (varies greatly with slight movement)

+2 to -16

6″ Rubber ducky for HT 5′ Tripod

-3

6″ Rubber ducky for HT hand held (varies greatly with slight movement)

-3 to -23

Note:  Most Mag Mounts have a 3 dB loss (50% of power) compared to body-mounted antennas with shield connected to metal body panel.

Bouvet Dxpedition:

OCRA and the DFMA are trying to raise money for the January 2018 Bouvet Island Dxpedition. Both clubs will each match donations up to a total of $200. While cash and Paypal are acceptable forms of payment, checks are preferred. Please make the check out to Bouvet Dxpedition and add OCRA or DFMA in the check comment section. Additional donations can be made on the Bouvet Dxpedition website.

Field Day:

The joint field day operation for OCRA and DFMA has ranked 3rd again nationally. Second place went to W4IY, who had 1200 points on us. Please visit the ARRL Field Day results for more information.

Great Job Team!

We will begin focusing our 2018 Field Day efforts in January. Have a Great Holiday Season.

NCOCRA Membership Meeting, Monday, October 9, 2017

Quick Notes:

  • Welcome back Dave…thanks to Karen for taking care of Dave.
  • The Bouvet Island Dxepedition is planned for early 2018. Bill (N8BR) suggested the club donate money to the dxexpedition. The OCRA Board will discuss financial support options at the next Board meeting.
  • This Saturday, October 14, OCRA will hold a testing session at the Orange County EOC.
  • Final Field Day results should be published in the next QST.
  • Amateur Radio operators have been working diligently assisting with communications in Puerto Rico. The following media outlets have covered these efforts.

Officer’s Report

Treasurer

  • 72 membership dues are current and an appropriate reserve balance is in our accounts

Program Topic – MFJ Enterprise 45th Anniversary Celebration

During the last week of September, John Green (KX4P) and Nick Szydlek (KA1HPM) and their better halves took a road trip to the deep south. In Birmingham Alabama, John and Nick and spouses visited the Barber Motorcycle Museum. The museum is a building consisting of four floors. At any one time, more than 600 motorcycles are on display in the museum. The total collection numbers over 1,400. They have have many bikes in storage, and museum guests can view this area of the collection during large events and when purchasing a Premium Museum Tour, which features the Restoration Level.

They have have many bikes in storage, and museum guests can view this area of the collection during large events and when purchasing a Premium Museum Tour, which features the Restoration Level.

According to Barber’s Website:

Since the world’s best and largest car collections had already been established, George Barber heeded some wise advice. His longtime friend Dave Hooper—a motorcycle enthusiast as well as the person who ran Barber’s delivery fleet for 27 years—suggested that Barber shift his focus from cars to motorcycles. Being a man of big dreams, Barber seized the opportunity to accomplish what no one else had done… build the world’s “best and largest” motorcycle collection.

The adventure continued as John and Nick visited the Alabama Historical Radio Society. John mentioned that the society was founded in 1989. Don Kresge, a retired General Electric engineer, founded the society to provide an opportunity for people of all ages to pursue their interest and enjoy the history of vintage radios. The museum is housed in an old bank owned by the Alabama power company. The museum holds educational sessions for teaching radio history, and on Saturdays they hold workshops to restore old radios.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Alabama, John and Nick ventured to Mississippi where they rendezvous with other participants of a Sunday night 80 meter net. Many of the net participants have known each other since childhood and continue their strong relationship through their interest in amateur radio. Their shared interest in amateur radio led them to participate in MFJ Enterprise’s 45th Anniversary Celebration.