OCRA-DFMA Saturday Morning Breakfast, rather Video Conference

from Jack, KM4MBG & Chris, KK4VBE

Reminder tomorrow, April 4th, after the 9:30am Orange County Auxcomm net on the 442.150 repeater

There will be a Saturday morning video conference to help fill the void left by the cancelation of our celebrated ham breakfasts due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That net usually doesn’t last long, so we’ll try to start at 9:45am local time.

Directions for Joining:

Make sure you have a computer with good microphone and speakers (a headset often works well). There is no software to install. Use your web browser to go to URL address posted in the video conference announcement note on the OCRA-DFMA Joint Email list at the appointed time.

Thanks to Chris, KK4VBE, for hosting the server. Hope to see y’all online.

And more from Chris,

If you do not have a computer with a camera and or mic but have a smartphone you can still join in on the video call. You will need to install the Jitsi app form the app/play store.

IOS App Link https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jitsi-meet/id1165103905
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.jitsi.meet

Then at the appointed time click the link in the recently posted note on the OCRA-DFMA Joint Email list and your web browser will open and give you the option to launch the app.

73, Chris KK4VBE

Earlier note from Jack, KM4MBG,

  • WHO: As some of you know, there are various HAM groups in the area that meet on Saturday mornings for breakfast.
  • WHAT: At least one of these groups organized a virtual meeting March 28th among themselves. We had also talked about doing a virtual meeting on the DMFA net.
  • WHEN: Originally, I had called for the club’s virtual breakfast meeting to be at the same time as one of these other gatherings, but decided to defer to next Saturday, April 4th.
  • WHY: Those of use who are not introverted [1] need some socialization time. In addition, those of us who are not working from home or are unhappy with the remote collaboration tools that our workplace is using, wanted an excuse to play with technology.
  • WHERE: This wasn’t asked, but it fits the theme. For the first meeting, we’ll be using the Jitsi Meet browser application. I’ll send out more details and a reminder next week.

Many thanks Jack & Chris!

It was the night before Christmas and….

It was the night before Christmas and ….

Oh, No, No, No!!!!

It was Saturday morning before Christmas, 2019, and seven local hams were gathered at the rear round table of Virlie’s Grill, Pittsboro, NC. Just the week before, John Mitchell, KK4VUR had distributed early Christmas gifts of nice surplus utility enclosures. BIG THANKS to John, KK4VUR !

As part of the lively discussion this morning, Herb Allred, N4HA, revealed what he has already done with his utility box. Attached are photos of his “to go” station, with carrying handle attached to the top, containing his 20 meter CW QRP transceiver, antenna wire, iambic paddle, headphones and battery pack. The first photo shows Herb Alred, N4HA, on the left and Jim Davis, W4CFO, on the right. Note the use of popsicle sticks to secure the key paddle inside the lid of the box.

Very creative and ready to put on the air, maybe at a state park. Add a sandwich, drink and a few snacks in the box, (note the ketchup and maple syrup in the photo), and he is in for a good time.

Good luck Herb with many contacts and some DX. 20 meters has been better lately.

Don’t forget, Saturday mornings, 8:30 am (or earlier) at Virlie’s Grill, Pittsboro, NC (round table in the back of the room).

Best 73 and very MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and HAPPY NEW YEAR !

John, KX4P

August Gathering at Virlies

The weekly amateur radio confabulation at Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro this Saturday morning was enjoyed by eight stouthearted hams who overcame the local audio QRM to exchange pleasantries and repartee.

Jesse, KM4AMR – a new member of the breakfast club – flies drones for fun and profit. With a straight face he informed the group that there was now a drone that can pollinate crops to ameliorate the decline of the honey bee population.

Bill, N8BR, gave an impressive description of DX Engineering’s four square antenna for 160 meters as well as a practically comprehensible explanation of the role of catalysts in the building of complex proteins.

John, KX4P, waxed nostalgic upon his recollection of acquiring his Red Ryder lever-action BB gun as a lad. He still keeps it locked and loaded behind the door. Squirrels beware.

Roy, WA2JLW, remarked on the irony that the Hawaii QSO party was this weekend while they were getting pummeled with Lane’s rains.

Roger, KS4VX, solved the SWR problem on his Butternut vertical … cable. He reminded those assembled that the only free cheese is in a mousetrap.

Nick, KA1HPM, offered to email Jesse some programming info for his HT. He also mentioned that he would like to see an OCRA program on repeaters. Many heads nodded in either agreement or lack of caffeine.

Dave, W4INN, has five boxes of radio junk, about which his wife has given him The Ultimatum. He has made the right choice.

Herb, N4HA, unable to hear half of what was said, made most of this up to encourage your joining us some Saturday, around 8:30 for the fun of it.

By reading this newsletter, you are agreeing that any misstatements, fabrications, and/or typing errors are not the responsibility of a superannuated septuagenarian.

Posted for Herb, N4HA by KR4UB

Annual Ham Migration

While the crew at Virlie’s Grill took their annual vacation, the ham conclave met at the Root Cellar in Pittsboro for an enjoyableSaturday breakfast.

Pete, K4PHS, appeared wearing a tee shirt which advised us that there were “two types of people: 1) Those who extrapolate conclusions based on insufficient data.” (Some paraphrasing may have occurred.)

Bill, N8BR, is now selling his supply of RG400 coax in 10 foot lots. Cheap.

Terry, KK4JGT, our Chatham CERT organizer, announced a request for CERT support for a Haw River rescue exercise. He now has over a hundred on his mailing list and there are 21 hams.

Hank, K3YDX, participated in Field Day with a Snow Camp group. Casual and fun.

Herb, N4HA, enjoyed a 20 meter CW stint with the DFMA/OCRA team at W4EZ. Thanks to them.

John, KX4P, worked the Baker dxpedition on 40 meters 11 minutes before they closed up shop. That’s cutting it close, John.

SHOW & TELL TIME! John, KK4VUR, brought his newly constructed antenna amplifier for his satellite work. He added a T-bias to supply power. Does anyone remember what the Lagrangian point is?   

Nick, KA1HPM, brought his duplexer on which he repaired a broken coax center conductor with some electronic brain surgery.  

Hope you will join us and add your ham radio input to our next Saturday breakfast at Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro. Photos by John, KX4P.

73, Herb, N4HA

Springtime at Virlie’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herb, N4HA

Hams & Eggs at Virlie’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year to all.

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


Virlies August 5th Ham Breakfast in Pittsboro, Eggs, Chickens and Bridges

Been a while since I’ve joined the Pittsboro gang at Virlie’s Grill instead of the usual trip to the Egg & I in Chapel Hill on NC 54 East for my Saturday morning breakfast HAM activity .  Time to get off autopilot and venture to some of the other favorite places hams are known to congregate on Saturday mornings.

After suitable and effective arm twisting by Nick, KA1HPM,  I found myself heading down the delightful back roads, passing scenic farm land and places like the Chicken Bridge (there’s a story to that name)  for breakfast and splendid conversation with KX4P, John, WA2JLW, Roy, N8BR, Bill, KK4JGT, Terry, N4HA, Herb, and Nick, KA1HPM. It made for a very pleasant journey and morning.

The food at Virlies is always delightful and the staff very accommodating.  I mean where else when asking our waitress to take a group photo, would she take time to find something to stand on (can’t say what…that might be an OSHA violation) and take this wonderful picture from high above..

After having two delightful eggs for breakfast, chicken seemed to stick on my mind, or was it driving over the Chicken Bridge, which I had not done for some time.  Knowing the inquisitive mind hams have, strict ham breakfast protocol now requires explanation of the aforesaid bridge name. If you missed it, back up to above aforesaid link.

After exhaustive research and effort of typing “Chicken Bridge” in Google and pressing the “Enter” key, I learned not only more about the history of the name but also that the bridge itself was used as a target for mock bombing runs in the 70’s and into the early ’80s.

I already knew, or more correctly should say had heard these runs, fearing loss of the roof on the house or worse and, also had heard about terrain following radar for low level flight and hoped that stuff kept terra-firma (and QTH) well protected from said flying objects as they passed directly overhead.  The QTH is north of the bridge as the crow flies, or perhaps I should say as the A-4 Skyhawk or an F-4 Phantoms of the era flew. Somewhere around here in my extensive collection of detritus, I still have the sectional aeronautical chart I obtained to learn more about this whole business.  There it was on the chart… the red line emanating from Cherry Point, complete with warning to airmen to check the NOTAMs (NOtice To All airMen) for when the area would be in use, right over the house and down to the Chicken Bridge.

Did you hear about?… no that will have to wait till the next breakfast! Everything of interest is covered with lots of camaraderie to be had.

Come on out!

Dan, KR4UB

Geezerfest at Virlie’s, goings on, on going adventures

This Saturday, five diehards, defying the infernal temperatures, met for the weekly Saturday morning ham breakfast at Virlie’s restaurant in Pittsboro.

John, KX4P, who has rebuilt a homebrew crystal-controlled AM transmitter, described his impressive feat of raising the frequency of an FT-243 crystal by hand grinding the quartz crystal with some VERY fine sandpaper, raising the frequency about 20 KHz. It took him only 18 tries to sneak up on it.

Bill, N8BR, has been cutting firewood, probably training for a transcendental antenna effort.

Roy, WA2JLW, remarked that his Vibroplex paddle needs occasional adjustment. Obviously a case of hypermorse activity. He also observed that 4 out of five of the breakfast attendees were 75 years old. His birthday is Sunday.

Nick, KA1HPM, the youngster of the group at only 73, brought a show-and-tell of an adapter for his headset/ mic to his radio. Nice job. He does a lot of that.

Herb, N4HA, reminisced about a sideswiper key he built as a young ham from a hacksaw blade. Thank goodness for iambic paddles.

Where are the youngbloods? Please join us and inspire us every Saturday morning.

posted by KR4UB for Herb N4HA

Foggy Saturday Mornings in Pittsboro

On a foggy Saturday morning this week, local hams dedicated to amateur radio and eating met at Verlie’s Restaurant in Pittsboro for the weekly RF download and a plate of eggs.

When the conversation turned to robots, Terry – KK4JGT, suggested a book he recently read called “We Are Legion”, wherein the main character signs up for cryogenic preservation, is subsequently killed in a car wreck and wakes up 200 years later with the dystopian occupation of being part of a computer.

John, KX4P, reports seeing a JT65 signal at three frequencies simultaneously on the waterfall display. He emailed the station who suggested that John update his software. Admitting that it was at least possibility, he tried to update but was thwarted by his Norton anti-virus.

Guy, KM4QLF (is that the best CW call you’ve heard, or what?), is contemplating putting up a multi-band fan dipole and asked what other breakfasteers were using for an antenna.

Bill, N8BR, has found a remote rig controller made in Sweden that does it all without a computer. He has also settled on the DXtreme logging software.

Nick, KA1HPM, showed photos of his new, neat and XYL-friendly home station.

Roy, WA2JLW, has recently recovered from a stomach bug and hasn’t been on the air much this week.

Pete, K4PHS, has moved and is much closer to the “Egg and I” breakfast, so he will be going there for his ham breakfast. We’ll miss him and hope he can come by sometime.

Herb, N4HA, was bedeviled by his inability to delete “599” from the N1MM logging software during the recent NA QSO Party contest.

If you’re not joining us, we hope you will soon. It’s every Saturday morning, around 8:30, at Verlie’s Restaurant in downtown Pittsboro.

/for Herb, N4HA … KR4UB Dan

Brrrr…. eakfast at Virlie’s

Another delightful report on the Virlie’s goings on by Herb, N4HA

Despite the coldest temperatures of the season thus far, six hearty hams sated their hunger for eggs, coffee, and radio this Saturday morning at Virlie’s in Pittsboro.

Nick, KA1HPM, a newly ordained VEC, had to leave early to administer tests for some lucky amateurs-to-be. But not before relating a story of his being mistaken for Santa Claus by a young child in a store.

John, KX4P, is inching up on his digital DXCC goal at 96 confirmed. His quest to separate a length of 1 1/2″ copper pipe from its union with a union continues. A friend has offered the services of their tractor, winch, and a sturdy tree. Failing this, Nick will press his weedburner into service.

Terry, KK4JGT, continues to organize the Chatham County CERT program, despite its likening to herding cats.

Bill, N8BR, shared his knowledge of ice cream and old age. (The best ice cream is Graeter’s, coincidentally made in Cincinnati, Bill’s hometown. Also, don’t expect to live past 127; beyond that, the body falls completely apart.)

Roy, WA2JLW, extolled the empirical virtues of the G5RV antenna ( it works pretty good).

Herb, N4HA, has hit another snag in the postponement of the erection of his 30 meter switched Vee antenna due to the recent acquisition of some antenna wire and a crimp-on pl-259.
Now the only thing left is to put the darn thing up and see if it works.

note: please overlook any misspellings, incorrect statements and/or hyperbole. It’s hard enough remembering how old I am.

2016 OCRA Christmas Dinner – December 12th

The OCRA Christmas Dinner Monday, December 12th will be $18.50 per person Paid at the door.  $18.00 if enough pre-register. If there is any change in price I will post after my next meeting with Kelly.

The location is the exchange club building in Hillsborough on Exchange Club Rd. The hall will be open at 6:00 pm with an expected serving time of 7:00pm. Going south in Hillsborough – to Sun Trust Bank (turn right). If going north – to Exxon Ctr turn left.  After turning on Orange Grove Rd, at the immediate right is Exchange Club Rd – turn right and in about 100 yards is the Exchange Club on the left.  If you have ever gone to the Sat morning gathering at Bojangles, the turn is the first stop light past Bojangles heading into Hillsborough. The other way in is to turn down the street that runs beside the Weaver Street  Grocery  parking lot (opposite side of the lot from the building) and proceed past the trestle to the Exchange Club on the right. Talk-in frequencies  145.450 & 147.225

Anyone needing more detailed directions may call me at 919-304-0796 or 919-455-3330

73 everyone,


This is a list of the items to date selected by the last number of votes:


Salmon Broiled / Baked
Baked Ham
Roast Beef
Chicken Tenders


Vegetarian Pinto Beans
New Potatoes
Cornwallis Yams
String Beans
Vegetarian Lasagna


House Salad

Iced Tea – Sweet and Unsweet


Apple Cobbler
Chocolate Chess Pie
Caramel  Iced Pound Cake
Peanut Butter Pie

Additions or substitutions are possible but I need early notice to let Kelly know. I also need to know if anyone needs any special dietary conditions or has food allergies.

CQ Breakfast from Pittsboro

by Herb N4HA

Chatham hams assembled for the ritual breaking of eggs at Verlie’s Grill this past Saturday morning. Seven and a half amateurs attended the breakfast.

Terry, KK4JGT, reported that he has had a dozen people respond to his Chatlist posting concerning starting a CERT team in Chatham County. The state authorities have been contacted and the process is under way. Good job, Terry.

Nick, KA1HPM (a.k.a. “Hiram Percy”) had a premonition that he should back up his hard drive about two weeks before his un-backed-up hard drive crashed. He says retrieving the data from his old drive will be very expensive, if even possible. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m backing up mine NOW.

John, KX4P, brought in the chassis of the AM modulator for the radio he is rebuilding. He asked for advice on how to clean the smoke and debris deposits from the chassis, the result of an expired power supply transformer. Nick suggested oven cleaner or putting it in the dishwasher. Nick also brought in adapter plates he had fashioned for the replacement transformer and mic connector.

Bill, N8BR, enjoyed the North American QSO Party, making around 1300 QSO’s for the team of 4 at N1LN’s super station. He is having some trouble getting his new logging software, XMlog, to do right.

Roy, WA2JLW, was able to get a few licks in during the NAQP also. At some point in the conversation – can’t remember where – he reminded the group,”never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity… but don’t rule out malice.”(This is known as Heinlein’s or Hanlon’s Razor).

Pete, K4PHS, has gotten the radio unpacked after his move into his new digs. He has made a contribution of several antique radio pieces to an antique radio museum.

Herb, N4HA, saw two meteors during the recent Perseids shower.

John, KK4VUR, made a brief cameo appearance while breakfasting with another group.

Hope you all will join the fun some Saturday morning.

Verily, Breakfast

by Herb, N4HA; posted by Dan, KR4UB

Eggs all around were enjoyed by the attendees of the weekly Saturday morning breakfast at Verlie’s Grill in Pittsboro.

Bill, N8BR, is looking for a DB-25 chassis punch and a source for 5 pole 25 throw rotary switches to control his remote station. Nibblers, drills, Dremels, and everything short of hatchets were offered as alternatives to the $200 price of the chassis punch.

Ray, K2HYD, related his entanglement with volunteering to restore a 160 MHz antenna to its original height at the railroad where he volunteers. It seems any change to antenna height, ERP, direction, range, etc. requires a modification in the FCC permit.

Roy, WA2JLW, celebrated his birthday with us and was treated to the dissonant tones of “Happy Birthday” from members of the group. He enjoyed the up-tick in sunspots by having a nice CW ragchew on 30 meters with a Russian ham.

John, KK4VUR, after performing the almost unbelievable feat of singing “Happy Birthday” backwards, told us of his latest project: using a noise generator, a directional coupler, an SDR dongle, and computer, a sweep frequency report can be generated showing the efficacy of an antenna. (I may have the details screwed up; see John for those.)

John, KQ4P, described a clothesline dipole, a folded dipole which can be tuned to resonance by effectively changing the feedpoint. He also posed a mystery regarding the 80 meter tube transmitter he is rebuilding. There is a ‘tickler’ winding on the output of the oscillator which is connected to the doubler. A few possibilities were proffered, but nobody knew. John says have no fear, Wilson, W4BOH, is on the case.

Nick, KA1HPM, is sporting a new callsign license plate. He told of an acquaintance who erected two tilt-over towers; a shorter one to pull up the taller one.

Herb, N4HA, also basking in the sprinkling of sunspots, has been more active on 40 & 17.

Hope you all can join us on Saturday mornings around 8:30 or so.