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The October 11th RANV Meeting

We will be going through the process of building a station. Yes, we will also be operating! Everyone gets a turn.


Reminder that Elections will be held in November. Also, remember that we are meeting at the Wheeler House at 1100 Dorset Street, South Burlington.


Mitch W1SJ

Most of us do not get the opportunity to go to a lot of hamfests. Unlike the metro Boston or New York areas, where there is something going on every month, we get two local hamfests, or else we travel 3 hours to Deerfield. But that's not too bad, actually. NEAR-Fest is one of the best non-convention hamfests in the country.

Debbie wanted to visit an aunt in Ithaca, New York. Now this is where knowledge of geography and hamfests come into play. "Sure", I responded, "But let's do this on the weekend of September 24th." Why would I pick that particular date? I happened to know that it is when the Elmira Hamfest takes place, and Elmira is fairly close to Ithaca. Debbie questioned why I would go to a place where I didnít know any of the hams there. I assured her that I would have no trouble running into people I know at any hamfest!

I've heard about the Elmira Hamfest for many years. It was always sizeable, but not quite as big at the old Rochester, New York hamfest. We often made the 6-hour trip out to that one. These days, that show has dwindled down to two small shows on successive weekends Ė certainly not worth the trip anymore. Elmira has emerged as the largest hamfest in New York State. It is not quite as large as NEAR-Fest, but not too much smaller.

After visiting family the day before, I got up bright and early on Saturday and made the 45 minute trip to the Chemung County Fairgrounds in a strangely named town called Horseheads. I knew I was in the right place because when I passed under I-86, I saw a bass relief of horse's heads etched into the side of the highway.

The fairgrounds looks similar to the Champlain Valley Fair - a large area with a grandstand in the middle plus a few smaller buildings. I got there right at the 8:00 general admission opening, and the place was already hopping. I donít know the exact attendance, but I did estimate about 400 cars on the site, and with an average of 2+ hamsters per car, thatís a likely attendance of 800-1000 Ė not too shabby.

And while it seemed there were an endless number of KB2's and KB3's (only 10 miles from PA) running around, I did run into a whole bunch of people I knew Ė including vendors John Bee from Quicksilver, Gary Schneider, Pete K2AUO, Gene K2KJI plus a few other hams searching the flea market.

I picked up a few items I was looking for - some old rotors and a USB keyboard for my new computer. Within 2 hours, I was out of there - some sort of a record for me! The plan was to drive an hour and 15 minutes up to Seneca Falls to put the Women's Rights NHP - HP48 on the air.

It was a beautiful drive along the shores of Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) and past all the wineries. I got up into the parking lot at HP48, tossed the 40 meter dipole into a waiting tree, and made a bunch of QSO's before heading back to pick up Debbie for the trip home. It was super duper ham radio day!


Mitch W1SJ

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is Vermont's only National Park. It is a wonderfully preserved area, along with a mansion, other buildings and pristine forest land. The area was formerly owned by the Marsh, Billings and Rockefeller families, hence the name. The NPOTA designation for this unit is HP26. This was a group activation, operating as W1NVT consisting of AB1DD, KB1FRW, KB1WXM, KC1EKV and W1SJ. Travel time from the Burlington area was just around an hour and a half. We set up at the Prosper Road trailhead, some 2 miles WNW of the main park entrance in Woodstock Village. This location offered a fairly high elevation, numerous tall trees, and absolutely no cell service! Any calls for help would have to be done via ham radio.

While this wasn't near the main park entrance, we thought we would be all alone up there. Not true! A good number of hikers and dog walkers dropped in all day long and spent time staring up in the sky at our antennas, and asking what we were doing there.

After a quick site analysis, we put up dipoles for 40 and 20 meters some 50-60 feet up in the trees. The 40 meter station was a K3 driving an Elecraft amp, located in a pop-up shelter. The 20 meter station was a K3 driving a vintage Heath SB-200 amp, located in a minivan. Power came from twin Honda EU-2000i units. Less than 1 gallon of fuel ran the entire operation. Conditions were pretty good compared to the last few weeks. The pileups on 20 meters were insane to start with - some 180 stations were worked in the first hour! Things died off for a while, and then came back with a bang later in the afternoon. We were helped by a DX contest in the morning and the California QSO Party in the afternoon. Over on 40 meters we had stations calling in all day long.

The 5-hour activation resulted in an amazing 856 QSO's. To put this in perspective, there were 45 previous activations which resulted in 1374 QSO's, or about 30 QSO's per activation. After we were done, we increased the HP26 total 60%. This shouldn't be a rare park anymore! We worked something like 45 states, 52 DX stations in 21 DX countries and 5 other National Parks. It was an incredibly successful activation and we had a ball. And it didn't rain on us - even though it rained most everywhere else! Our next activation will be at the Lamprey Natural River area on October 15th. This is just down the road from Deerfield, so we will make some QSOís after the fester before heading home!


Kathi K1WAL

We had our first RANV meeting at the Wheeler House. The wood floors had just been redone and the rooms were clean and welcoming. What was not so welcoming was that all the chairs were put away and we had to hunt for them. Then there was the fact that all of the plumbing had been removed for a renovation, including toilets! When the meeting was over it had become dark outside and there were no lights outside to show the way to our parked vehicles. We are hoping these issues will be resolved before out next meeting but bring a flashlight just in case.

Our first order of business was establishing snack for the October meeting. Paul AA1SU graciously stepped up to the plate. Thank you Larry KB1ZEB for the yummy snacks for the September meeting.

We discussed the upcoming NEARFest weekend. A plan is being put together to meeting up at the Lamprey National Wild and Scenic River (WR23) for a NPOTA activation. The idea is to leave NEARFest around noon, arrive and set up around 1:00ish, and operate until around 4:00. More information to come.

Presentation: Show & Tell
Club members brought items and ideas for Show & Tell. First up was Paul AA1SU who showed his stack of W1AW card DX cards. Each card listed all the operators from the week since it was impossible for the ARRL to list ALL the operators.

Bob KB1WXM showed his "bug zapper" antenna. Well, that's what it looked like. This was a 3.7 MHz antenna Bob built. He provided his eBay pages for parts to those were interested.

Kathi K1WAL showed some Lechatelierites (a type of Fulgurite) found at the Silver Bell Mine in Arizona. These are the result of lightning strikes on mine tailings.

Jeff N1YD showed a homemade Oscilloscope tester powered by a USB thingy (0.03 lowest frequency, 1 MHz highest); a signal generator built from a kit, and an old electronic calculator circa 1970, one of the first processors made by Intel.

Paul AA1SU stepped up again with an old telegraph sounder from the 1850s. This was before they used tones.

Jonathan KB3DQZ announced that he had several computer work stations used for designing gaming software (which he teaches) free to a good home. These computers are 3-4 years old, have both serial and parallel ports, and uses Linex. There was one taker for his local library.

Adam KB1LHB presented a slide show of his home project where he built a UPS out of car batteries and a Pure Sine inverter. He has a solar panel charging during the day and a wall charger at night. He has an Arduino controlling when the charger turns on. The Arduino is measuring the Voltage of the batteries and if it gets below a certain voltage the Arduino turns on a relay which turns the charger on. Once the Voltage gets high enough it turns the relay off.

Bob KB1FRW showed his Bird 43 watt meter, PEP/2x, 5x element range extender with the cool blue LED add-on PCB kit that cost $55. He also showed his Hy-Gain T2X rotator controller that has the Idiom press add-on PCB which has automated functions like point and turn (set a heading, push one button and forget) and locked brake release (problem with T2X rotators). There is also a serial RS-232 interface for controlling the antenna direction from your logging program.

It was an enjoyable and informative meeting with 20 in attendance.

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