By Rick Bunn-N4ASX
Club Repeaters: 147.315 (PL 107.2), 444.6 (PL107.2), 224.82 (PL107.2), 53.13 (PL107.2), 927.6 (-25Mhz, PL107.2), and 1282.600 (PL 107.2), DSTAR 145.38Mhz, 442.060, and 1284.600
NEXT CLUB MEETING
Our next meeting is FRIDAY, APRIL 13th at Alexandria City’s new Emergency Operations Center at 3600 Wheeler Ave. We will meet in the Community Room on the first floor. Parking is the public lot right in front of the building. DO NOT PARK ON THE STREET!!! At 7:00 there should be plenty of spaces.
Our program will be our own KT4MV who is known for his invaluable work on our repeaters, but Tim is also an expert in avionics and will present a program on that subject at our next meeting
MARCH MEETING – Minutes KJ4FUU
Minutes from 03/09/2012
Training: Rich KA4GFY reports that classes start 03/20, currently about 12 techs and 5 generals estimated to be there.
ARES: Hospital situation is unsettled, this affects our antenna labelling project.
DSTAR: Upgrades installed, reflector 12C will broadcast “Last Man Standing”.
Repeaters: No changes.
Webmaster: Page updated, menu rearranged, Articles of Incorporation on the web, need photos for the web store.
VA QSO Party 03/17 – 03/18 (new operating hours)
Timoneum Hamfest 03/31 (one day only)
Dayton — Room available, Rich is looking for drivers
Old Business: Winterfest was a success.
Bull Run Run upcoming, need 6M FM, Fairfax group wants to use digital, but most will be voice.
Don points out that parking is tight, so the trailer would have to be there on Friday.
Jack K5OTZ is investigating having a special event station (maybe at Fort Ward) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Ian N8IK says that a hole drilling/NMO mount installation demo will be coming up in the near future. Ian is also asking for alternatives to Mango Mikes, if anyone is so inclined. Paradisio will be checked out.
Field Day: Rick N4ASX is looking for a food chairman. Band captains so far: Jack K5OTZ – 20, Jay KV3W – 15, Rich KA4GFY – 75.
03/15/2012: Ian N8IK
03/22/2012: Rich KA4GFY
03/29/2012: Rick N4ASX
04/05/2012: Tom KJ4FUU
04/12/2012: Don KI4D
Program: HAARP program presented by Steve Floyd (Jesse Ventura is all worked up about nothing). Editors note: Many of our members stated that Steve provided the best program so far this year. If you have an idea for a program or a topic you would like to hear more about tell N4ASX and he will try to arrange it.
Mitch AJ4YZ won 50/50 after a redraw (original winner had left already, apparently).
Next meeting: 04/13/2012, at 3600 Wheeler Ave.
The Alexandria Radio Club, using the club call sign of W4HFH, participated in the 2012 Virginia QSO Party by having a group of its members take a trip to Orange county to set up a series of stations at a location near Barboursville, VA. One couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful weekend to have a QSO party, as we were located pretty much in the middle of the Virginia countryside on 28 acres that was in full flower with dogwoods, red bud, and weeping cherry trees bursting forth with beautiful colors. Randy, KI4MWQ, Sandee, KI4QNG, Harry, N4CWP, and Marshall, KI4MWP worked Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in setting up antennas for use on 80/40m NVIS, 10/20m, long wire, and 2/440 FM. Our radio equipment was all Icom–a 756 Pro, 746 Pro, IC-9100, an IC-706 and an IC-2820. We also used an older IC-290A 2 meter rig for SSB. This year’s Virginia QSO Party had a change in the operating hours–10 am to 10 pm Saturday and 8 am to 8 pm Sunday– so there was a flurry of activity early Saturday morning in making sure all the antennas and radios were setup properly. And then, at 10:00 am, the contacts started to come in, first on 40 m, then a few on 80, then 20 m and finally some mobiles on 2 and 440. Several “big guns” stations came in very easily, such as the Fauquier and Stafford clubs, and then there was the added thrill on Saturday afternoon in making contact with K4NVA for the bonus of 500 points. But just as challenging was teasing out some of the fainter stations, such as Bristol, Va or Grayson county, located down in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth. Contacts were made on a steady basis throughout the afternoon, with 40 meters coming in fairly steadily As dusk began to approach, 80 meters began to pick up, and remained pretty strong right up until the cut-off of 10:00 pm. In the meantime, both 20 meters and the 2m/70cm contacts were steady throughout Saturday afternoon, with most of the 2m/70cm contacts being mobile units. We attempted to work some 2 meter SSB, but could not find any takers–maybe next year.
The next day, it was a bit of a different story. Forty meters essentially remained shut until late in the afternoon, and just a few 80 meter contacts came in, mainly in the early morning hours after 8:00 am. Twenty meters was also pretty dormant throughout the day. We did a nice job of picking up a fair number of 2m/70cm mobile units during Sunday morning and early afternoon. Around 3:00 pm or so, forty seemed to come back to life, but with a lot of noise–you could generally make out the “big guns” stations, but really had to work at hearing and exchanging info with the “little pistols”. We were also able to get both counties on the eastern shore–Accomack and Northampton–and with Bristol and Grayson, we had made contacts the breadth of the Commonwealth from east to west. Conditions generally remained marginal right up until the end of the contest at 8:00 pm.
A preliminary analysis of the results indicated that W4HFH made contact with a total of 83 counties and independent cities in Virginia, 31 states and provinces, and 19 DX entries resulting in an overall score of 95,278. This compares to a total of 90 counties and independent cities, 41 states and provinces, and 22 DX entries in our 2011 effort, which resulted in a score of 92,147. So, even though we had 7 fewer counties/cities, 10 fewer states/provinces and three fewer DX entries, will still achieved a higher score in 2012 than in 2011. Why? Because in 2011, we had only 25 mobile contacts, but in 2012 we had 97 mobile contacts, which made a big difference in the overall final score. Given the change in operating hours and the poor band conditions on Sunday, we feel we did a pretty decent job this year in achieving the scoring level that we did.
Our team has now done this type of “mini-expedition” twice, and each time we have gained some new insights into operating away from one’s home. A lot of planning needs to be done to make sure one has all the proper equipment and tools available in case the need arises, for whatever reason. It has been a lot of fun doing the planning, setting up, making the contacts, and taking down, and the Virginia countryside has been beautiful in both instances. We have also been very fortunate in that the weather was great,which made the setup and takedown much easier to do. Many thanks need to go to both Randy, KI4MWQ and Sandee, KI4QNG, for their hard work in finding a good site, working on the setup, and providing the appropriate niceties that make these mini-expeditions fun and enjoyable. And Harry, N4CWP, has been great with all the experience, toolsets, and equipment he has been able to provide the group with during the past two outings. We have posted some pictures of the outing on the club’s website, ww.w4hfh.org, and hopefully this will give others in the club some ideas on what can be done on a “mini” expedition. We all had a great time this year, and we look forward to having others join in in next year’s effort for the 2013 Virginia QSO Party!
In Alexandria, ARES, is a tool seldom used. ARES is there and ready to support the public through our served agencies when there is a need. We can consider ourselves lucky that we don’t have tornado’s hurricanes, massive forrest fires, earthquakes etc. But, it is important that we keep our selves ready in that rare event that we are needed.
Weather plays a big part in disasters. To better support localities the National Weather Service and NOAA have set up the SKYWARN system. SKYWARN provides training for weather spotters and these spotters provide the NWS with “ground truth” on the current weather in an area. In our area SKYWARN uses the 147.300 repeater when SKYWARN is activated.
One does not need to be an amateur radio operator to participate and can call in or e-mail their reports to the Sterling office of the NWS. Amateur radio operators have an advantage in that we can establish a net and pass SKYWARN reports rapidly.
To participate, all must take a short course in Basic weather spotting. The basic class is offered around our area between September and May. If you’re interested, you can check out the SKYWARN page on the Sterling, VA NOAA / NWS weather site.
Before you jump in, there are a few items of to keep in mind. During a weather event, NWS wants details such as rain fall per hour, cloud cover, wind speed, temperature, dew point etc. Many of us do not have a weather station and would have a hard time getting the numbers, but you can still be valuable by reporting weather phenomena. The two hour three hour class covers the details.
Many of us in the club took the Skywarn basic class and a few other more advanced classes when they were taught at the NWS offices at Dullas airport, but that was over 10 years ago.
Mr. Joe Henderson, our liaison with the city EMS, sent us an e-mail asking if we were involved with Skywarn and recommend we read some of the articles on the internet extolling the support provided by amateur radio operators on the skywarn nets in Texas during the recent tornado events. Your EC told him that we were involved but many of us had not taken the training in a long time. This also brings to mind that many of our newer members may not have heard of Skywarn.
If you’re interested, start by monitoring 147.3 when there is a hazardous weather warning. Many of us have weather radios and when our area announces a severe weather event the Skywarn net is usually activated. Give it a listen. While the net would like to get inputs from those who are registered / trained spotters, you can check in and get an idea of how it works and decide if you would like to participate.
What’s in your GO KIT? It’s spring time and this is the time when there are a lot of public service events. Some of us only have a handheld or one radio and many of us don’t run out and DO ARES or public service events, but it’s always a good idea to have your gear where you can get it if you have to jump out to support an event or if we have an event that requires our help.
As ARES EC, I try to participate not only in Alexandria events, drills and public service events, but if time permits, I try to volunteer for a few other events during the year because they are fun way to practice the radio art.
My CORE go kit is a plastic tool box with my handheld radios, extra antennas, antenna adapters, spare battery packs, speaker microphones and 12 volt adapters. In addition I have computer interface cables for packet and APRS operations.
These Go Kits are fine for a short duration event or hamfest, but if the event is an all day event, I have an excel spreadsheet that lists all of my extra items. Events like the Marine Corps Marathon or the Bull Run Run will require mobile radios. With the use of mobile radios, I now need to consider coax, antennas, antenna mounts/masts, but wait there’s MORE! How about what you need to be comfortable? I have a list of items like chair(s), a folding table, a tarp or tent. If your out all day away from food and water, it is also a good idea to bring that type of stuff with you.
The Bull Run Run requires use of 6 meter FM and may require a form of digital comms. For this I have a laptop (not a new one, but one that will make a good terminal) with that I need interface cables and maybe a rigblaster or other interface. Some of us have vehicles that have most of this equipment installed. Good way to go, but don’t try to run all day on your vehicle battery unless you have jumper cables. I have a surplus 110Amphour AGM battery and a Honda 2KW generator. You don’t NEED all this stuff, but if you have it, and decide to use it, have that check list.
Think: What do I need to perform my task? What do I need to keep me operational for the duration of the event?
With my go kit list, I also include a TO DO LIST. 1 – Go through the list and check off what I’m going to take with me. 2 – Find it and get it packed up a day or so prior to the event. 3 – Are the batteries charged? Do I have all the needed cables, connectors etc. Will I need a sun shade for the computer? Do I need an A/C inverter for the computer? Will I have A/C power available? If we are playing D-Star, what do I need?
I watched a program the other night talking about the Prepers? They repeatedly talked about hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Think Murphy’s Law when you pick you gear. Murphy’s Law says: ”An item will fail at the worst possible time with the worst possible consequence’s “ O’Tool’s corollary to Murphy’s Law is: “Murphy was an optimist!”
CLASSES by Rich KA4GFY
The latest licensing class started on March 20 with 10 students and over the next two weeks, we added two more. This is the largest license class we have seen a quite a few years. Perhaps the interest in “do it yourself” has spawned interest in ham radio, or maybe the inclusion of ham radio on ABC’s “Last Man Standing” with Tim Allen has sparked some interest. In either case, its great to know there is interest in becoming a ham radio operator.
In case you didn’t see it, Fox News did a story on their web site sometime last fall that the ham radio population in the US reached an all-time high, with over 700,000 licensed hams in the US. Since that time, the number has continued to grow. So, let’s make sure ham radio continues to thrive by everybody doing their part to give a little PR to ham radio when somebody asks about the big antenna on your vehicle.
DAYTON- ALMOST TIME TO GO!
Last chance to sign on for this year’s trip to the Dayton Hamvention –
I have two rooms left with four spaces left for this year’s Dayton Hamvention. If you never gone and want to go, please let me know no later than the meeting on Friday. I will be ordering tickets this week.
April – Tim –KT4MV –Aviation Communications (Confirmed)
May – ARRL News – Dennis Bodson W4PWF (Confirmed)
June – Field Day
July – D-Star 201 – KI4MWP (beyond the local repeater)
August – ARES/AMSAT/Other??Sept –MCM – Howard, WD5DBC or Tom, N4ZPT (tentative)
Oct – AMRAD (tentative)
Nov – Elections
Dec – Party
Up Coming Events
CLUB Christmas Dinner
Not too early to mark your calendar for this annual event! This year we will have the holiday party on our regular meeting night December 14th (second Friday). We have two choices of locations, primarily due to no room charge which is always an issue in this area, and both restaurants are available on 12/14. First choice is Mango Mike’s http://www.mangomikes.com/mangos-alexandria.html on Duke Street which we’ve been to for a couple of years. Price range is $25-30. The other choice is Paradiso Restaurant http://www.paradisoristorante.com on Franconia Road. Price range is $30-35. At both places beer and wine are available for extra.
Field Day – JUNE 23/24
Field Day is a national event! The idea is to test our ability to communicate to as many places as we can to prove that we can communicate in time of any emergency. No permanent antennas, no commercial power (except for lights and logging computers). We work on the pre WARC 79 bands (160/80-75,40,20,15,10 meters and UP). The club has lots of field day antennas, members and the club have sufficient generators.
What members should do is PARTICIPATE. Join a team or come out and ask to operate. If you work with a band team, then no one has to supply all of the station equipment.
This is a great learning experience and great fun for all of the members. Field Day is a “more the merrier event” If you can spare all weekend fine, but if you have only a few hours try to come out and operate. The club has a lot of gear and we have several antennas made up that are good for this year.
Due to family commitment, Rick, N4ASX cannot continue as Field Day chairman this year. He will continue to support planning and help team captains with putting teams and gear together.
We have the Armistead Booth Park reserved and that worked well for us two years ago.
Monday Night Half Price Burgers – There is a group that gets together at Shooter McGee’s (Duke and Paxton Streets) on Monday evenings at 6:15 30 PM. A good burger and soft drink runs about $9.50.