ARC-Shorts – September 2011

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 September 9th at theINOVAAlexandriaHospital in the Health Education Center (HEC) located to the west of the main visitor entrance.  The hospital address is:4320 Seminary Road,Alexandria,VA 22304.  We meet at 7 PM and must leave by 9 PM. This month’s program will be Alexandria ARES and Amateur Radio Support to the Marine Corps Marathon.  Guest speakers have been invited.

JULY  MEETING MINUTES  from 6/10/2011

Our program in August was Jeremy’s OUTSTANDING video of our Field Day effort and more importantly and interestingly what it took for him to assemble this video.

We then played a video made by Tom Protz (SK) of the 1990 Joint Arlington / Alexandria Field Day at Ft. Ward Park.

It was interesting to look back 21 years and see some of the changes in the basic effort.  Music not withstanding It sounded like the 1990 generators were a great deal LOUDER than our Honda this last year.

EVENTS IN AUGUST

While it was generally too hot for hamfests, and other outdoor activities, Mother Nature provided both an earthquake and a hurricane for our amusement.  While the earthquake was rare and very little damage was done it was a reminder that we need to be ready should there be a disaster.   Hurricane Irene allowed us to exercise ARES, but we did not get called to do more than standby.   Good time to work on that backup power source and make sure the antennas are secure.

UP COMING EVENTS

Newbee’s On the Air (NOTA) – Jeremy KF7IJZ is our lead to set up a Field Day like station or two for new operators to practice HF operations.   We have reserved the Ben Brenman Park Field Day site for Sept 10th from 10AM to 2 PM for this operation.  If you don’t get a chance to operate HF from your home QTH or are a bit mic shy, now is the time to come out and operate.  The radios, power and antennas are all ready to go.

September 10th and 11th ARRL VHF QSO party.  Lots of fun.  Mostly for those who have SSB on 6/2/220/432 and up.

September 24th and 25th CQ WW RTTY contest.

HAMFESTS Etc.

VA Beach hamfest is September 17.  Its at the VA Beach Pavillion which is right off I 264, a few blocks from the beach.  Its about a 3 hour drive fromAlexandria.

The Columbia ARA hamfest is October 2 at the Howard County Fairgrounds.  Its about 90 minutes from Alexandria.

The Carroll County Tailgate fest is October 23 inWestminsterMDat theCarrolCountyAgriculturalCenter.  Nice drive away from the DC area.  There really is a rural part of MD.  Not a large hamfest, but there are bargains to be had.

After October 23, there aren’t too many hamfests close to our area until the Maryland Mobileers Hamfest in January.

NEXT CLASS – SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Our next class is scheduled to start October 4 and conclude Dec 6.  It will be at the same location as the spring class, K4AXQ’s office space onMill Road.  We will teaching both Technician and General classes.  The cost will be the same, $50 which includes the book, test fee and class materials.

If you know someone who is interested in getting their license or you are looking to upgrade to General, let me know.

If there is an interest in an Extra Class study group, this can be set up to meet at the same time.

Rich, KA4GFY

 

HURRICANE IRENE

This last weekend we had a category 1 hurricane run by this area.  No major damage from either event, but ARES was asked to prepare to support the city after the hurricane went through.

On Sunday morning at 2 AM the Alexandria ARES EC DID receive a request from Mr. Penn,Alexandria’s EMS Manager, to activate our ARES group and he would call back with assignments.  Within an hour the EC had called those on the list that said they would be available and we were on “stand by”.

The fact is that because many ARES volunteers had requested status, Alexandria ARES established an informal net at 7 PM Saturday with 11 check-ins providing status, and we also did a simplex check.  The idea was that volunteers would keep an ear on the repeater and, if needed, we would start our activation on 147.315.

When the call came in at 2AM, the EC made the call out and as expected at that time of day, no one responded.  SO, we were back to making phone calls and waking up families.

By 2:45AM we had about a dozen volunteers up and ready to go.  Mr. Penn called back at 3 AM to inform the EC that their radio system had suffered damage due to water leaks in the building housing their equipment, but that they were still working in the fail soft mode and expected to be able to continue, but asked us to remain on standby.  If called up we would have provided operators at key locations so that message traffic could be passed between EOC, Fire, Police, Red Cross, shelters, and the Hospital.

As it turns out this looks good for ARES, but there were a great many lessons learned.

1-      The phone list the EC has is obsolete, as is the club roster

2-      Do NOT rely on a computer to keep lists like that, with power out and intermittent it becomes impossible to use. (Your EC will be putting this stuff on a laptop and a paper copy in a paper brain book.

3-      Volunteers need to have an up to date SOP (our last issue was Feb 07 and is being rewritten)

4-      We need MORE volunteers!

5-      Our training has been based on public service exercises, but that may not be sufficient.  We will have to talk about a better way to train.

ARES is the way we pay the community back for their support of amateur radio.  While most of us shun publicity, we do need to show the served agencies and the public that we are of value when needed.

1 – I will follow up with the City, Red Cross and the Hospital to make sure we have their SOPs and Points of Contact and will add them to our SOP.

2 – I will meet with our District EC to make sure that he has our SOP and we have contact info for all other EC’s within District 2.

3 – D-Star’s National Capital link was and is valuable to cover the area in this type of operations.

4 – Redundant HF capability to be able to link to the state EOC on 75 and 40 meters needs improvement.

I truly was impressed with the willingness of our ARES volunteers to put up with my 2 AM calls and to be available in spite of really nasty weather.   We are few in number and there are many who doubt the value of ARES support in the age of high speed digital communications, but it’s not the gear, but the willingness to apply what we know and what we have to the problem in an emergency.

Rick Bunn
N4ASX

Marine Corps Marathon

MCM amateur radio support requires over 120 ham radio operators.  At this time we have just over 70 volunteers and need to get the rest signed up before the end of September.  This is THE biggest amateur radio public service event in our area and one of the most complex.  You can do this if you have a 2 meter handheld and a good antenna.  Each year we have high percentage of new operators.  There will be a training session for all operators within a month of the race.  The organizational group assigns team leaders for each amateur radio function, so there is always someone to help you get ready for the race.

For security reasons, all volunteers must be in the database by the end of September.  Don’t procrastinate.

To volunteer, go to www.marinemarathon.com and sign up as a “Ham Radio” volunteer.  You will get an e-mail back asking you to go to another website to provide specifics on your abilities and your equipment.  This information and your preferences will determine your assignment on the course.  You will get an assignment and detailed briefing materials long before race day.

Please volunteer.
73 Rick, N4ASX

 

HAMFESTS and CONTESTS

President’s Corner

In my last month’s notes section, I mentioned the need for ARC members to be prepared, and the last few weeks in August have driven that home.  We here inNorthern Virginiahave had a rare earthquake as well as sustained impacts from Hurricane Irene.   In addition, those Virginians in the Tidewater area have been putting up with reduced visibility from the smoky haze of an ongoing fire in the Great Dismal Swamp, so it’s safe to say that the Commonwealth has been visited by effects of earth, water, wind and fire all within a few short weeks.   And, as mentioned elsewhere in this edition of ARC Shorts, ARES members were contacted by the City of Alexandria  early Sunday morning to possibly assist with communications due to the effects of Hurricane Irene on the city’s communications infrastructure.   All this reemphasizes the need for ARC members to make sure that they have developed a preparedness checklist so that when an event happens, you at least have some knowledge of best steps to take to ensure that you and your family are ready to handle the event in a systematic manner.    From a radio perspective, remember that electricity may not be available, so do you have auxiliary power available in the event you need to communicate with others to obtain critical information?  If your current antenna has been damaged, have you thought about how you could put up a quick J-Pole or dipole to send or receive information?  If you are involved with ARES, have you put together a “Go kit” that you pick up and utilize quickly?   I’ve found that being the “radio guy” in my neighborhood,  fellow neighbors sometimes come to me after an event to ask if I have any information that might be of help to them, and I’ve tried to ensure that I have my equipment setup in such a way that I can obtain information as appropriate.   We in this area are generally pretty well prepared for weather events such as hurricanes;   it’s the surprise things, such as the earthquake, that make the point how fragile our communications infrastructure can be.   I once again encourage ARC members to assess their level of preparedness in the coming months so as to ensure they and their families are able to handle the unexpected gracefully.

73
Marshall

 

 Ten Tec Jupiter

The Alexandria Radio Club recently became the proud owner of a Ten Tec Model 538, better known as the Jupiter.  I have owned one for 11 years and it has been a real workhorse in my station.  That doesn’t make it old by any means.  When it was designed, Ten Tec built in a feature to allow for upgrades right over the internet.  So, as new features were added to the operating system, you could download the new firmware from the Ten Tec website and transfer it to your radio.  Within a minute, you have the latest features.  No need to buy another radio to get the latest and greatest.  Ten Tec is still the leader on this.

With the free software, the Jupiter is fully capable of integrating with your station computer.  You don’t need any type of interface between the radio and computer to get them to talk with each other.  I use Win EQF logging software at my station and the software reads the frequency and mode right from the radio.

The Jupiter is a medium and high frequency radio, operating from 100 kHz to 30 MHz.  It does do all the common modes found on HF, such as SSB, CW, AM, FM and RTTY.  Power output is rated at 100 watts for all modes except AM, which is 25 watts.  Ten Tec suggests reducing power to save the final amplifier.

Operating the Jupiter is about as simple as it gets.  Many of the functions are adjustable through buttons and knobs on the front panel.  Changing operating mode and band are as simple as pushing the appropriate button until you get to where you want to be.  Other settings are basically “set and forget” in the menus.

The Jupiter is a great portable operation radio.  It is very tolerant of voltage variations.  As long as the supply voltage is between 11.5 and 16 volts, the Jupiter will operate as designed.  The optimal voltage is the 13.8 volts from the power supply, which will produce full power out.  So, operating on the battery power in the trailer will not be the issue as on other HF radios the club previously owned.

Rich Adamy, KA4GFY

 

Social Events

Pre-meeting dinner is now at Atlantis in the BradleeShopping Centerat 5:30 PM. This is also a chance to meet our guest speaker as we offer to buy dinner for them prior to the meeting.

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 PM. A good burger and soft drink runs about $9.00.

ARC - Shorts

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