RADIO AMATEUR NEWS & VIEWS, JUNE 2011

RADIO AMATEUR

NEWS & VIEWS

JUNE 2011

IN THIS ISSUE...
Introduction to SDR Secretary's Report The Prez Sez
Weather Keeps Hams Hopping Help, Help & More Help Needed Field Day is Coming

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NEXT MEETING: JUNE 14, 2011 - INTRODUCTION TO SDR

The June meeting's presentation will be by Gene Risi W1BR. Have you heard about SDR (Software Defined Radio) and wondered what it is? Or seen some information but still have lots of questions?

If the answer to either of the questions is YES, then this should be an hour well spent. Gene W1EBR has only been a ham for a few years, but has been an electronics enthusiast since he first started disassembling his parents' appliances. Gene's hope is that this presentation will get you eager to start playing with software defined radio, or help resolve any initial frustration you may have had while playing with SDR.

After the presentation there will be canned demos and a Q&A session.

And snacks!


SECRETARY'S REPORT - MAY MEETING

JEFF N1YD

BUSINESS:

About 15 members came to the May meeting.

PRESENTATION:

Club President Bob KB1FRW, gave a talk and demonstration called "Soldering 101". In previous meetings we saw how to deal with teeny tiny stuff. Bob's talk focused on the big stuff - like PL-259 connectors and half-inch copper pipe for poles.

For PL-259 connectors, Bob recommends an 80-watt soldering iron, or even a butane torch. Without enough heat, the insulation can burn before the metal gets soldered. Having enough heat lets you work quickly.

To start at the beginning.:

For any soldering on circuit boards, remember that rosin flux is conductive. Clean off rosin after soldering using an alcohol/acetone mix and a stiff brush. Steel wool, a flux pen, and Nocorrode solder paste are all useful in their own ways. Then (since propane torches are not allowed indoors at the O'Brien Civic Center) we all went outside to see a demonstration of how to solder copper pipe:

It's a thing of beauty when it works.


THE PREZ SEZ

Bob KB1FRW, President

FIELD DAY, FIELD DAY, FIELD DAY, it is that time of year again!

Plan, plan, plan - then scurry around gathering radio stuff, meet in a big field or two and work until you think you might drop (only on Sunday) putting up four towers and antennas, three tents. Get all the radio stuff working and get on the air for 24 hours making as many contacts as you can. Then tear it all down and put it away for next year. This is one of the RANV showcase performances. We routinely place in the top-ten stations in the nation in the 2A category, which has the largest number of entries. We have finished number one 6 times since 1986 and have no intention of letting up this year!

The show consists of 4 continuous running stations, CW, Phone, GOTA, and VHF/UHF that need to be setup, manned, and torn down all in a three-day period. This takes quite a slew of people (about 30 last year) so we need you. In exchange for your blood, sweat, and tears you get bragging rights if it all stands up for a day and if the propagation gods smile upon us. You also get to learn how it all goes together, a valuable skill set that applies to many aspects of Ham radio. So come one, come all and help out this year with any part you feel like. There is opportunity to operate if you are a contester type (see W1SJ) or a relatively inactive or new ham (see AB1DD) or you want to take a chance with 6-meters at the VHF station (see KB1FRW).

We setup three main operating areas with four 50 foot towers and antennas, three tents including a 32'x 16' for GOTA/VHF. We need setup and tear down help plus some one with a pickup truck to move things Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon (see the above call signs to help), all jobs are important and make the whole event work. Anyone want to take care of the food?

This all takes place June 24-26th at the Chittenden Solid Waste District field (why do you think they call it "Field Day"?) in Williston. Come visit even if you can't lend a hand and be sure to get on UHF/VHF and HF and give us a contact. We are usually right near the UHF/VHF calling frequencies and will move to any band you have.

Last weekend was quite a time with Saturday kicking off with the Essex Memorial Day parade that almost ended disastrously when a large semi truck in the parade tore down an overhead wire as it was leaving the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, trapping three divisions (30%) of the parade on the fairgrounds. Some quick thinking and some good luck got the parade rerouted a bit out of order but it continued.

Then the next day was the Vermont City Marathon which hadn't got off to a very good start earlier in the week when W1SJ and I tried to put up the Marathon primary repeater only to find that the antenna tower we used was gone and we didn't have what we needed to get the job done. Two more trips (and one lightening storm) later we had it on the air Saturday afternoon only to discover a few hours later it was too noisy to work well in the low signal areas. This gave W1SJ the opportunity to setup the net control station at the waterfront and go and fix the antenna. It was pretty nip and tuck for a while.

The Marathon itself went off with very few glitches considering how the setup went and the runners were able to enjoy their day in the sticky hot sun. Fortunately the repeater came down a lot easier than it went up and by 4:00PM on Sunday it was over.

Plugged in the NEAR-Fest Amp the other day and it didn't blow up so I may be making progress there, but I have slowed down on that for a bit while I learn more about it, more to come.


WEATHER KEEPS HAMS HOPPING

Mitch W1SJ

The Memorial Day ham public service doubleheader is over and it was a rollicking and wet time! The Essex Memorial Parade was Saturday, May 28th and the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms. Fortunately, none of this came to pass. The Parade had a lot less volunteers this year, but fortunately, we had a large ham radio crew to pick up the slack. And then, there were no commercial radios for the non-ham marshals, which was probably more of a good thing!

The field in the Fairgrounds was quite wet. Drivers of the larger rigs refused to try to drive across the grass (smart move). So we had to cache the large vehicles up on the gravel road and stage them so that they came into the line of march in time. This worked well, but it did take a lot more effort to set up. A lot of cancellations and last minute changes produced a good deal of traffic between the line up area and the reviewing stand at the Five Corners.

The parade was 3/4 over when the large tractor trailer used to house the Shriner Go-Karts grabbed a telecom line and pulled down a power pole dumping a high voltage line across the line of march. Fortunately, a backup route was quickly devised and the latter 3 divisions were able to join the parade, albeit after a long pause.

The good news is that the RANV Go-Kart performed flawlessly as I was able to cruise several divisions along the parade checking for problems. The no-so-good news is that Representative Peter Welch is not a CW operator because the high speed CW emanating from the van was clearly bothering him and he changed divisions. The CW had no effect on Governor Shumlin however.

Thanks to AA1SU, KB1FRW, KB1KCL, N1LXI, N1WCK, N1WQS, W1DEB, W1OKH, W1SJ, W3BH, W4YFJ.

--------------------------------

Less than 24 hours later, we were back at it, providing communications for the Vermont City Marathon. Rain and hot, humid weather promised to make things very challenging for everyone. Fortunately, things didn't get too hot, and runners adjusted to the less than optimal conditions.

A number of changes made things interesting. A major change at the finish line had everyone nervous about how things would work out. The repeater site underwent changes and we struggled for several days to set up a suitable mount for our antennas on the building and have it work right. This year, we were able to borrow the Vermont Emergency Management trailer. This gave us a self-contained, air-conditioned operating facility which was much improved over the tent we were used to using. It did take a bit of thought to figure out how we would fit everything into place, but it worked perfectly. Although our new location in the park was quite muddy, we were right next to food tent, which was very helpful!

I can report that no one got swept away by the high tide in the lake, there were no lost busses, no lost kids, and we had an average number of medical calls.

In non-communications results, Jim KE1AZ finished the full marathon in 5:08 and Laura KB1MRT ran a leg in the 3-5 runner relay. Neither carried a radio in the race.

In all, 37 hams were involved in providing communications for the 2011 Vermont City Marathon.


HELP, HELP, & MORE HELP NEEDED
Field Day As Seen From GOTA

Carl AB1DD

The only things certain are death, taxes, and Field Day. Although they have some things in common, we should look forward to Field Day. Lots happen during this event, but the part I concentrate on is GOTA. GOTA is "Get On The Air." A station set up for new hams, inexperienced hams, and nonhams, GOTA is a fun place to get a little time in on HF. You don't need to know what you are doing, not many of us do anyway. A mentor is provided to tell you everything you need to know, and help you along. There is a need for people to operate over the 24-hour period we are on the air. An hour (or more if you want) is all the time needed. Get a friend or two and sign up for some time in the "big chair."

I'll be setting up a schedule of operators soon, so get your time slots reserved today. First come, first served. The times are 2:00PM on Saturday to 2:00PM on Sunday, June 25 and 26. See you there!

PS, There is also a need for mentors. Same time frame, but you will need to hold a General or Extra class license. Contact Carl, ab1dd@arrl.net.


FIELD DAY IS COMING

Mitch W1SJ

In a little over 2 weeks it will be time for Field Day! RANV will be working hard to defend its first-place finish in the 2A category. There are a lot of excellent challengers out there and all sorts of pitfalls in the way. Will we be successful? No way to know for sure except to give it our all.

The facility worked quite well last year and no major changes are planned. Hopefully it will remain dry for a few weeks so that we don't have to set up in a lake. It looks like most of our core operator group will be back. The key thing is to get enough help on Friday and Sunday for set up and take down. As we all get a bit older each year, it is imperative that we have an adequate number of helpers so that no one person is forced to over-extend or get injured. As anyone who is at Field Day can attest, when we have a lot of help, the antennas go up in short order. Please let Mitch know what times you will be able to help out at the site.

Once we get the facility in place, we need to make sure we have the operators to put the contacts in the log. We put the experienced contest operators in phone and CW where the rates can be quite high. There are early morning slots for newer contesters to try their hand. For the casual operators, we have the GOTA station (HF) and VHF stations to keep running. We try to keep these stations running throughout the day and early evening. Operators are scheduled, so please contact Carl AB1DD to get on the GOTA schedule. We also need young operators for the youth bonus. Get those kids to the Field Day site so we can get 'em on the air!

If you cannot make it to Field Day, please be sure to look for us on the air and give us a contact. The VHF bands get very quiet due to lack of activity. Get on and make some noise!

For more info and details visit www.ranv.org/fd.html.

Our Field Day planning meeting will be held on June 20th at 7:00PM at the shack of W1SJ. If you are new to Field Day, this is the best way to get a feeling for what is about to happen on the weekend.

Sign up for whatever hours you can spare to be available. If you can't decide, then come for the whole show! Contact Mitch W1SJ or call (802) 879-6589. The operation will run from 2:00PM Friday until 6:00PM Sunday:

   * Friday    2:00-9:00PM    Antenna Setup
   * Saturday  10:00AM-2:00PM Station Setup
   * Saturday  2PM-Sunday 2PM Field Day operating
   * Sunday    2:00-6:00PM    Tear Down

FD Site Directions:

* Route 2A to Mountainview Drive at the lights.  This is 2 miles north of I-89 or 1 mile South of Essex Junction.
   * Take Mountanview Drive EAST for 1 mile, turn left on to Redmond Road.
   * Take Redmond Road to top of hill (less than a mile).  Look for hams, antennas, guy wires, etc. Park on the road (right/east side).




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