|Soldering 101||Marathon and Parade||Field Day Is Coming|
|Secretary's Report||The Prez Sez|
Here is your chance to learn how to solder or brush up on your rusty skills. There will be a brief discussion/demonstration of the basics of technique and equipment. We will see live demonstrations (hands-on) of proper soldering techniques for connecting a wire to wire, how to solder components to printed circuit boards (PCBs), how to remove components from PCBs (desoldering), how to solder a PL259 onto coaxial cable and, hopefully, how to make a good connection on copper pipe so you can build that J-pole antenna that you have been thinking of.
The novice solderers can learn how to make basic connections correctly and experienced practitioners can share their wisdom. Everyone should bring along your own basic equipment (soldering iron, holder, third hand holders, extension cords and solder) and we can match up learners with those who have soldered before and everyone can get a chance to try their hand at this art form.
Mike N1FBZ, expert solderer, will be there giving tips, help and instruction. Bob KB1FRW will supply wire, strippers, practice PCBs, a few soldering irons/stations, solder, PL259s, and copper pipe.
I have a critical need for ham operators for public service events in late May. These events have had a loyal following of hams supporting them over the years. Unfortunately, as time goes on, people move on to other things and we lose communicators without replacing them.
The largest public service event in Vermont is the Vermont City Marathon. This entails over 8000 runners, tens of thousands of spectators and only 40 hams to tie it all together. With more people retiring, moving away or getting less active, we have a very critical need for operators. Not only is it important to have past years operators return, it is also important to bring on and train new operators for this year and the future. There is no better training for emergency preparedness than a full blown Marathon!
Operating in the Marathon requires commitment. You cannot simply waltz in at the last moment. Not only is there some training and orientation required, but the organizer, Run Vermont, requires a complete list of participants ahead of time. This, in fact, is true of all Marathons today. So, to operate in the Marathon, you have to spend some time reading the documents, attending a staff meeting and operating at the Marathon, which typically runs from 7AM until 2PM. Some operators start a bit later, some end a bit earlier.
The training includes both standard ham radio emergency protocol and procedures used specifically for this event. Operators will receive access to a web site with all of the detailed information which is downloaded and read at your pace. Finally, the training culminates with a staff meeting before the event where we meet with the Marathon staff and work out any and all situations so that everyone knows exactly what the job is on race day.
Your thank you for this event includes an official Vermont City Marathon T-shirt and a ringside seat for the show. And of course, the experience in helping out at a community event is considered priceless.
If you are interested in operating in the VCM, contact W1SJ right away.
The other event which is in need of operators is the Essex Memorial Parade on the Saturday before the Marathon. This is a far easier task than the Marathon. We help the groups line up and try to keep them marching down the route like a parade (as opposed to an unruly mob). No pre-training is required and typical operating times are 7AM until noon. Please contact W1SJ if you are interested.
Field Day is June 24–26th this year, which is less than 2 months away.
The first thing that we all must tend to is Calendar Management. Make sure all of those weddings, dinners, side trips and extended family outings are moved to a safe weekend (any other weekend). We still have the same personnel needs as any other year: Phone/ CW operators, GOTA operators, setup and take-down crews and special ops people (i.e. food). Soon enough Carl, Bob, and I will be contacting everyone to see who can do what job when. We have a whole slew of new hams this year and I hope we can involve them in the operation as well.
Now that we are top dog in category 2A, other FD groups are gunning for us and the pressure is on (just like in any other sporting event). Can we rise to the challenge? In the next few weeks, contact me with your desired Field Day schedule and if you plan to operate, spend some time on the air making contacts—in fact, you should always do that anyway!
Bob reminded us that hams are needed for the Essex Memorial Day Parade, May 28th, and especially for the Vermont City Marathon on May 29th. The Marathon is an event where hams really make a difference.
Jim KB1LOT will bring the snacks to our next meeting.
Tom Cooper, W1EAT gave us a satisfying and lighthearted presentation on loop antennas. A regular dipole has its maximum current in the center near the feedpoint. That part of the antenna radiates more energy than the ends. But with a loop antenna, the current is also at a maximum opposite the feedpoint, and possibly at other points, too. A loop antenna tends to be very quiet, and 12-gauge stranded wire is enough to get some great performance.
The 12-gauge wire can be rather stealthy, too. In fact, Tom did not notice that part of his loop had fallen down during the winter and was lying on the ground. As he put it, “If I’d have known that, I wouldn’t have worked all those guys in Africa.”
Tom’s experience has been with vertical loops, shaped like diamonds, triangles, or “skinny shields.” He also had good luck witha triangular antenna, with the feedpoint at one vertex. The opposite side of the triangle tends to act like a vertical without the ground losses.
He had some good success with pairs of wire antennas at right angles. Connect the radio to either or both loops to aim the signal in particular directions. Tom feeds his antennas with ladder line and a minimum of coax. His largest antenna is 270 feet long, making it a full wave on 80 meters. His final advice to us was to “set the switch on, and talk!”, even though all those QSL cards from far away places are such a nuisance.
I’m back! From NearFest that is. Damn, what a good time that was! Almost perfect weather, plenty of attendees, and a multitude of good deals.
I got to thinking about why I was there, especially since I show up a day early to help with the setup and direct traffic in the early AM. The answers were varied, I was there for the Swap meet of course, which turned out to be quite productive this year, the list of deals included a working Weller temperature controlled soldering station for cheap, a 30-amp power supply for about ½ the pricing I have ever seen, a brand new dual-band mobile rig for the lowest price in the country, and a 800-1000 watt linear amplifier with glowy things (vacuum tubes) in it. OK the jury is out on the last item being the deal of the fest. I’ll let you know how the last one turns out, but it is sure to be a heck of a learning experience.
One of the other things I get from NEAR-Fest is the chance to see and interact with a lot of other hams I never see, this is a great experience. It is hard to quantify this part, but the longer and more active you are in Ham radio the more people you will get to know in this community of folks who are quite wide-spread. What is the usefulness of that, you say, well there is some difference between talking to them on the air and having a face-to-face. More information is passed more quickly, the Hamfest environment is quite conducive to the discussion of ham radio equipment and ideas, you can usually find the stuff you are discussing and a lot of times someone who knows reams about it. It is an immersion into the core of the hobby, where you can hear all kinds of things that may inspire you to think and act on some facet of ham radio you have never pursued.
So there it is, some of the reasons I go twice a year and have a good time rain or shine. Hope you can make it next time.
Make sure you make it to the next meeting if you want to become a expert solderer, we will give you the tools to achieve this goal
Other things to think of this month are the Vermont City Marathon and the Essex Memorial Day parade, if you have a handie-talkie and some time, get in touch with Mitch, W1SJ.
So have a good spring and get on the air once a week and talk to someone new!
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