OCRA-DFMA Fox Hunt – Aug. 1 2020 – Save the Date!

Fellow Hams,

I had a good response to my survey and both the on-foot and vehicle based fox hunt events are a go. Thanks so much to everyone who responded!
I am happy to announce that there is one day that works for all interested participants.

Mark your calendars for August 1 for the OCRA-DFMA fox hunt event. For those of you who indicated interest in making or loaning transmitters, I will be in contact soon.

Best,

Aurora (KN4VXB)

Communications for coordination during the  August 1st Saturday Fox Hunt will be held on the OCRA 442.150 repeater.  Further details will be posted.

OCRA Club Over-the-Air Meeting 442.150 Repeater with Audio Linked Zoom Conference

Monday, May 11th, 2020
7:30pm to 8:30pm
Description:
Our next monthly membership meeting for OCRA will be Monday, May 11 at 7:30 pm.  Since Orange County still restricts all gatherings to 10 persons or less, the Efland Baha’i Center remains closed.

We will hold the meeting over the W4UNC 442.150+ repeater, PL 131.8

Additionally, we will have a Zoom meeting held simultaneously, so that those who cannot access the repeater may still participate. We have been experimenting with audio links between Zoom and the repeater, so it should work well.

Hope to hear you there!

See the OCRA Club Meeting Notice posted on the OCRA/DFMA groups.io Message Board for the OCRA Zoom Video Conference Log-in Information.

73,

Dave Snyder, W4SAR

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OCRA Monthly Meeting – Monday April 13th @ 7:30pm via the 442.150 Repeater. NO Meeting @ Efland Baha’i Center

As the Efland Baha’i Center remains closed due to the State and County directives that will not permit gatherings, we will hold our monthly OCRA meeting over the air on the W4UNC repeater (442.150+, 131.8 PL). This will be via a directed net, similar in format to the AUXCOMM/ARES nets held on Saturday mornings, I as club president who usually runs the meetings, will act as net control, with someone else as a back up. We will commence this net at 7:30 pm on Monday, April 13.

When checking in, give your call sign and name only, I ask that we dispense with the “what I’ve done with ham radio lately comments” we usually do with introductions, we’ll have rag chew opportunities later in the net.

After all attendees are checked in, we will have brief officer’s reports. We will have brief pauses for any members to make queries or give brief comments, via the net control.

Our agenda at this time is:

AUXCOMM/ARES

Volunteer Exams

Field Day

Any other items?

There will be a pause after each agenda item, again for any member queries or comments, going through the net control.

Following the completion of the agenda, we will have a roll call checkout, as we do with the Saturday nets, where members who wish to continue a rag chew are welcome to do so.

Hope to talk to many of you there, stay safe all!

73,

Dave Snyder, W4SAR

Morse Code Classes via a UHF Repeater… starting January 8th

Steve Jackson, KZ1X

revised December 29 2019 ….

The way that most people learn Morse Code best is in a classroom style setting. From roughly 1840 through about 1970, this was the manner in which most people learned Morse Code.

For a variety of reasons, beginning in the early 1980s, a trend began where people either did not have the opportunity to attend a classroom setting and / or took it upon themselves to try and self-teach the skill. The former is unfortunate; the latter, many times more challenging.

Well, amateur radio certainly has changed in the ensuing decades but what has not changed is the desire among many hams to be able to use Morse Code on the air.

Due to practical limitations such as the lack of a suitable classroom venue, the geographically diverse nature of potential students, busy lifestyles, and availability of instructors, it is not likely we will see a return to regularly scheduled, local, sit-down type Morse Code classes.

However, for those who do wish to learn in a class-styled environment, and who already hold a Technician or higher grade of amateur license, there may still be an alternative for a group-oriented Morse Code learning environment.

A Proposal

OCRA maintains a wide coverage UHF repeater. Like the majority of repeaters over the past 15 years or so, it is inactive most of the time.

This terrific and underutilized resource could easily host a scheduled on-the-air Morse Code class for students already holding amateur licenses. This document describes such a class.

Conceptually, the idea is simply to move a traditional sit-down classroom experience to one conducted in real time via a repeater. By making it interactive, on the repeater, the class will train participants to communicate over-the-air in Morse Code.

Yes, that’s it. The sole goal of the class is conferring the demonstrable ability to send and receive Morse Code on the air.

Before you ask:

There is no sending or receiving speed goal for this class.

Setting such a goal was important in an era when there was a standardized FCC test to pass. Teaching to receive at a given speed did not serve students well; it only helped the test proctors. Moreover, without a sending test, the underlying Morse communications skill of the student is not certain.

Therefore, a fixed-speed goal is not appropriate for a Morse Code class taught in 2020. Think of this class instead like “Marconi meets Montessori.”

Anticipating your next question:

What speed are the lessons sent at?

The answer is:

Since the class goal is to be able to make practical use of Morse Code on the air, the so-called speed for lessons is actually a more complicated issue than a simple number.

The speed of the dots and dashes for lessons is set at the natural rhythm rate, such the listening part of the brain will not try to ‘count’ these symbols. Instead, each letter’s acoustic pattern gets interpreted by the brain as a unique musical sound. Thus, the same part of the brain used to remember the first notes of a favorite song is activated to memorize the letters.

This is also why significant effort has been put into making the tones used in the class have musical integrity (pitch, tonality, and harmonic content are controlled).

In turn, the space between the letters is artificially lengthened from the expected spacing, so that the student will have time to write down each letter sent.

Focusing on “how fast?” as the sole metric for success is great for horses, not for people. This is about recognition, not rate. Once one knows all the letters and digits, increased speed is then only a function of experience and desire.

How Will The Class Work?

A class participant will learn Morse code over a period of approximately two months. The letters of the alphabet, the ten digits, and certain punctuation and procedural signals are introduced to students each week, in a graduated process.

Materials used are a combination of a Windows software application by G4FON, the K1EL Morse Tutor keyer kits, and a weekly over-the-air interactive instructor-led lesson. The software is used to make the letter introductions, and to help weekly home practice.

Dividing the 26 letters into four groups allows one to learn the more frequently used letters first. In turn, this allows the most rapid progress towards forming words. Quickly thereafter, students can create simple sentences.

The class design is interactive because student participants both receive and send in each class, and draw upon each other’s success. All of this occurs exactly as it would in a ‘live’ in-person setting. It is therefore vitally important that the students faithfully complete each week’s homework and come prepared for the next class.

Classes, Equipment, and Software

Classes

The class itself consists of eight on-the-air lessons,  plus preparatory work.

Preparatory work consists of using the software to practice and learn the assigned new letters each week. Most people find that this will take from 1 to 3 hours per week. (Weeks 2 and 4 are hardest.)

Each on-the-air lesson will be roughly 30-45 minutes in length.

There is a fixed curriculum. One cannot ‘skip’ any lesson, nor are there any make-up lessons possible.

This is in part because the lessons are not simply recordings. They are interactive, and, each lesson builds upon the previous one. In addition, students are active participants in the learning process for and with other members of their cohort.

Each over-the-air lesson consists of a student-listening portion, and a student-sending portion.

  • In the student-listening portion of each class, the instructor reviews the new letters introduced the previous week, by sending the letters over the air to the students.

This listening portion consists of these most recent letters, sent in three sequences of ten random groups of four letters each. The instructor, using an automated tool, transmits these.

After the lesson, the actual letter groups sent will be posted on line, so students can check their copy.

  • In the student-sending portion, the student will formulate words from all the letters learned so far in the class, and then send those words over the air so other class participants can copy them. Each student will send at least two words (generally 4 or 5 letters each).

The student-sending portion of the class is one reason for the K1EL Morse Code tutor kits. These kits allow a low-cost way of sending good quality modulated-CW signals over the repeater.

If a student wishes to use some other Morse tone generation gear, that is their option. However, it will still be necessary to use the same settings as shown below (in the software topic), so that all class participants’ signals sound similar (pitch, speed, spacing).

The student will need to be able to hold their microphone close enough to their kit’s speaker so they can send their words over the air. Of course – they must ALSO access the repeater well while doing so.

Equipment

The intention is for the typical local, licensed amateur to participate in the class easily, with minimal additional expense.

An assumption is that all students will already have the means to access the repeater, often via a handheld radio. It is prudent to check one’s signal into the repeater from the location where one will participate in each week’s lesson, prior to starting the course. Adding an external gain antenna and perhaps a corded microphone accessory could be very helpful.

An in-person set-up session prior to the first class will be available, so that students’ K1EL Morse Tutor kits can be programmed. The reason for this is because the Morse Tutor kits are programmed using Morse Code, and of course, the student using this Tutor does not yet know Morse Code.

The programming will be for rates, student callsign, audio pitch, and related settings.

Software

The software used for the class is by G4FON. It is a Windows program. (If you absolutely must use some other platform, please contact Steve, KZ1X, to discuss options.)

Several features of this software make it the ideal choice. The primary one is the feature where the user can select specific letters for the computer to send, repeatedly, allowing the student to learn new letters every week according to the class syllabus.

Other G4FON program options allow the computer-generated Morse Code to ‘sound’ like the class lessons do.

To set up the G4FON software for the class, choose the following settings on the main screen:

  • Set the Pitch to 660
  • Actual Character Speed to 15
  • Effective Code Speed to 5

and make any needed changes to the ‘button’ type options, as shown above.

Afterwards, open the ‘Setup’ tool and choose the “Morse Character Setup” tab:

For the first lesson, choose only the letters ‘T’ and ‘E’ as shown above.

For the second lesson, choose only the letters ‘E’ ‘I’ ‘S’ ‘H’ ‘T’ ‘M’ and ‘O.’

See below for the subsequent week letter introductions.

Here is a link to access the software:

http://www.g4fon.net/CW%20Trainer.htm

Lessons

Lesson 1 E T

Lesson 2 E I S H T M O

Lesson 3 A W J N D B

Lesson 4 U V G Z K R P X

Lesson 5 F C L Q Y

Lesson 6 1 2 3 4 5

Lesson 7 6 7 8 9 0

Lesson 8 . , ? /

442.150 Repeater to be used for the 2018 Spring Bike Rally – Sunday, April 15th

The OCRA 442.150 repeater will be used Sunday, April 15th for back-up communications supporting the 2018 Spring Rally Bike Event.

The event will start around 8AM and should run until about 3pm.

If you would like to volunteer to provide communications support for the event you can sign up at at the Ham Public Service website.

The North Carolina Bike Club (NCBC) coordinates this charity ride, typically features 31, 62 and 100 mile courses for the riders. SAGS, as well as Hams assigned to Rest Stops will be needed. More information about the Spring Rally event is available on the NC Bicycle Club website

Information web-page for hams in Raleigh

http://torborg.com/a
I created a web page to provide information for hams, originally new hams, but it kind-of got out of hand. The page is intended for hams in Raleigh, specifically, but much of the material is interesting for the surrounding region as well.  I wrote a repeater listing page which was intended to be more up-to-date than RARS’ page.  Now RARs links to my page.  Please comment if there is material missing that seems like it should be there and especially if the page is completely wrong about something.

I’d like to add a new page which lists the best repeaters for drivers in NC and in surrounding states.  145.21 and 442.15 are examples of wide coverage repeaters in this area.  What’s are some good ones useful while driving in other areas including in SC, GA, TN, WV, VA ?
Thanks for the help.
The page is at http://torborg.com/a

73 de Tadd – KA2DEW, Raleigh NC

 

Upcoming Public Service Events April 2nd & 22nd – Volunteers needed – 442.150 repeater to used

Supporting public service events is an excellent way to make Amateur Radio visible to the community, support worthy charitable causes and to hone your field operating skills.  The two events OCRA provides course communications for each year are:

  1. The Not So Normal Run on Sunday April 02 in Carrboro with about 400 runners expected.  This will be our second year participating in the NSN Run.  The course has changed this year, being simplified to a single 6.55 mile loop that is run 1, 2 or 3 times depending on the event.  We haven’t identified where we will be located along the course yet, but will probably need 5-6 volunteers.  The event web site is:  http://notsonormalrun.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=6757
  2. Tar Heel 10 Miler Run on Saturday, April 22 is a large event with over 6,500 runners usually.  The course and our positions are the same as last year, so we need 7-8 volunteers.  The event web site is:  http://tarheel10miler.com/

I’ll provide more info soon, along with requests to sign up for course positions.  These are fun events and are good first-time public service events for newer hams, as well as useful training for ARES volunteers.

Reserve the dates on your calendars if you are interested.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Steve, W3AHL Orange County ARES/AUXCOMM EC

for W3AHL, Dan KR4UB

OCRA 442.150 Repeater to be used for the April 1st, 2017 Spring Fling Bike Event

Permission has been requested and granted for use of the OCRA 442.150 repeater to provide communications support for the Spring Fling Bike Event on Saturday April 1st, 2017.

Net control for the OCRA ARES 9:30am net on that day should use the abbreviated net protocol to facilitate any bike traffic needs to be passed during the net.

This is a 25, 50 and 100 mile bike event that requires SAGS, as well as hams assigned to Rest Stops. This is the first fund raising event of the season sponsored by TeamCBC and for the benefit of the National MS Society.

  • Location: Inside-Out Sports, 2002 Grisdale Ln., Cary, NC 27513
  • Ham Coordinator: John Stone (K3RHJ)
  • Website: TeamCBC

When contacted by Dan Sears, KD4AGQ regarding the event, he also passed the info along that changes are being made to the RARS website and that a new volunteer signup site is being used for this event at  http://zoneapex.net:8082

OCRA and DFMA members are encouraged to sign up for the event that will take place out of Cary into southern portions of Orange County.  Further information at the event can be found at the TeamCBC website.

442.150 Repeater Use Request – 10/19/14

Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2014 07:59:39 -0400
From: kr4ub.dan@gmail.com
To: ai4rt@hotmail.com
Subject: Re: 442.150 Repeater Use Request – 10/19/14

You certainly have permission and I can out a note to OCRA and DFMA try to get some volunteers from this area.  I’m going to be traveling some this week, otherwise I’d go ahead and sign up…. That’s a really nice area for a bike ride.

regards,
Dan

On 10/12/2014 9:35 PM, John Snellen wrote:

Hi Dan:
I would like to request permission to use the 442.150 repeater as the primary
for the Public Service event coming up this Sunday, October 19, 2014.
The North Carolina Bicycle Club (NCBC) Fall Rally event is to be held in and around Wake and Chatham Counties.
Attached is a schematic map of the area we will be covering.
Thank you for your and DFMA’s interest in Ham Public Service.John
AI4RT

BikeFest 2014 this coming Saturday August 9th, OCRA 442.150 Repeater will be primary comm

Reminder:
The OCRA 442.150mhz Repeater (+) (PL 131.8) will be used for primary communications support this coming Saturday, August 9th for the BikeFest 2014 Event.  147.135mhz (+)(82.5) will be secondary.

As mentioned in the event summary below (from the RARS Public Service page), this is a large event in terms of participants, and routes extending through Cedar Grove, Leasburg, Roxboro, Efland, Hurdle Mills, Carr, and with the start/finish in Hillsborough.

Ham volunteers needed for SAGS, rest stops and shadows. You can sign up to support this event on the RARS Public  Service page http://rars.org/public-service.php

Net control ops the Saturday morning 9:30AM OCRA ARES net are requested run an abbreviated net to maximize repeater availability for event radio traffic.

Net control for the event will be John, AI4RT.

See you Saturday!

Dan, KR4UB
W4UNC Trustee

BIKEFEST 2014

August 9, 2014 – Saturday – Hillsborough, NC
The Bikefest tour begins at the Superior Courthouse in downtown Hillsborough, and offers a choice of several rides: a 35-mile half metric, a 62-mile metric century, and a 100-mile English century. The 35 and 62 routes will have 2 rest stops while the 100 mile route has 4 rest stops. Tarwheels donates all proceeds, in excess of expenses, to bicycling related activities in our community. Since 2006 we have donated over $50,000! Previous recipients include Rails to Trails, East Coast Greenways, Chapel Hill Greenways, Triangle Trips for Kids, Lewis Days (bike restoration for children of need) and 78 needy kids who received new bicycles which we distributed through New Hope Elementary School and Durham Social Services.

This is a large 800+ participants. Due to the size and number of routes, we will need about 15+ ham volunteers for SAGs, rest stop monitoring and shadows.

* Ham Coordinator: John (ai4rt)
* Location: Hillsborough Courthouse, 106 E. Margaret Ln., Hillsborough, NC 27278
* Time: 7:00 am – Rollout 7:30 am
* Event Website:Bikefest 2014