December, 1999

RANV Holiday Party
Coming Up!
Welcome New Officers
Our Last RANV Meeting
The Prez Sez
Field Day First Place
Contest Results
Contest Corner
Prefixes for US Mail
Close Those Windows!

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Be sure to attend the ham radio event of holiday season! The RANV holiday party will be held Tuesday, December 14th at the shack of Mitch W1SJ. Festivities get underway at 5:30.

The party will feature food, radios, videos and of course, good company. In the food department, we will have a platter of cold cuts, salad, vegetables, bread and drinks. Everyone is welcome to bring a hot dish or dessert item to share as well. In the radio department, the shack of W1SJ/WB1GQR will be open for all sorts of on-the-air operating and debauchery. Both 75 and 20 meters are hot and 10 meters may have some things happening early on. For videos, we have an assortment of things, including: scenes of the setup of last year's Field Day operation, a rare video of RANV's first meeting and our wild and woolly public service event with ETV! And for good company, we present - ta-da - all of you who are going to come!

We encourage you to bring to bring family and friends to share in the festivities. If you haven't been to a RANV event in a while, why not stop by and say hello to gang? To get an idea of how many will be at the party, please contact Mitch and let him know the good news that you are coming! Also, if you plan to bring any food (optional) let us know that so we can coordinate. If you haven't been to W1SJ, this would also be a good time to get directions. Hope to see you all next week!


It is a quiet couple of months coming up, ham radio speaking. After the holiday party, there is always Straight Key Night, if you really don't have anything better to do to usher in the millenium besides sending CW. The good news is that all straight keys are Y2K compatible. UGH!

Our January meeting will feature a talk about the E-911 system from someone from the Vermont Department of Public Safety. They have been very busy changing everyone's address and now are looking to see how amateur radio can fit into emergency preparedness.

A couple of contests of interest are the VHF Sweepstakes on January 22-23 and the Vermont QSO Party on February 5-6th.

The big event for the winter is the Millenium Milton Hamfest on February 26th. Right now we are hard at work putting together a monster program. If you have suggestions, please let Mitch know. New this year will be a change in entry procedures at Milton. Check the RANV Web for details on the hamfest.


RANV has a new president and secretary for the year 2000. When all the votes were counted at the November meeting, it was decided in a landslide - Paul AA1SU is our new president and Fred N1ZUK is our new secretary. Richard WN1HJW continues on as Vice President and Treasurer. The officers will be installed at the Holiday Party on December 14th. Unlike in previous years, this time, we have procured the installation instructions!

A tremendous thank you to Eric N1SRC who retires after 3 years as RANV president. Eric has set a standard of excellence which will be hard to top.

RANV meetings and events are planned at the Steering Wheel Meetings. We encourage everyone to get involved at these meetings, as they are not just for officers.


by Paul AA1SU, Sec'y

At the meeting of November 13th, we had 13 members in attendance. We started off with the introductions, followed by the counting of the votes. Eric N1SRC counted the 6 ballots, including 2 from e-mail, and the outcome was pretty predictable. All nominees were voted in as printed out on the ballots. There was however, one write-in vote. It was for Eric as Club Secretary. The officers-elect will be installed at the December RANV meeting. As mentioned on page one of this newsletter, that meeting will be at Mitch W1SJ's house on December 14th.

Richard WN1HJW and Eric discussed the possibility of ordering RANV club jackets. They had prices from one place, and we will be checking into other places. Pricing looks like it will be in the $45 range. We welcome any leads that other members might be able to provide.

Our featured guest speaker was Tom Cooper W1EAT, fresh off of working in the ARRL CW Sweepstakes as a QRP entry. Tom came to talk about wire antennas, baluns, antenna tuners, computer modeling programs, and general good old ham radio stuff. Tom has experimented with wire antennas for many years. Nowadays, he also uses antenna computer modeling programs to see how an idea for a new antenna might play (perform). Using ladder line, relays, baluns, and machine tool wiring, he has built many wire antennas, and can easily work the world with 5 watts. As for holding these wires up in the trees, dacron is the recommended rope. It is strong, resistant to ultraviolet, and elastic.

There are a few different types of baluns, and Tom likes to use what is called a remote current balun. Ladder line is fed to it from the antenna, and coax from the other side of the balun, runs into the shack to the antenna tuner. We also got to see the inside of an antenna tuner. Tom had one that he had modified to meet his specific needs for specific contests, like the NA Sprint. We all found it most educational. Another important function of an antenna tuner, we found out, is to help hear shortwave or ham radio transmissions, even better. If the antenna is tuned properly, the received signal strength is greatly improved. The talk included a variety of other items, like transformers and relays. A big thank you goes out to Tom for a very nice and personal talk.


by Eric N1SRC, president

Thanks for all who have helped me along in ham radio and with RANV. Please continue to support the club officers. They all put in a lot of work. It is nothing like full time job, but they must take responsibility for making things happen, and can never get the job done without help from others. Please keep the ideas and support coming. If you think you have even a minor brain storm, or brain drizzle please speak up. For those who have not been there, it is impossible to comprehend how many ideas get tossed around for meeting topics, activities and so on. Many of them are well worn. We could use some new ones any time; even ones that we may not adopt may prove to be the basis for others.

Please also keep in mind that reliable help with things like QSLing and newsletter mechanics are useful. The fact that jobs get done now does not mean that help would not be appreciated!

Now that Paul will take over as President I hope to be able to spend a few more hours actually playing with radios. My schedule has been rather chaotic lately. Thanks to both of our wives for putting up with our club efforts and the added chaos.

We are doing a little house and yard cleaning. We were supplied with a 30-yard rolloff. It is now getting full and we are not done cleaning. The place is looking less crowded than before. Even some cherished salvage projects have been pitched into the monster wastebasket. Many were useless anyhow because I could not find them under the clutter. For those familiar with Pippi Longstocking, we are thinking of calling this place Villa Villekula. We may even take a horse onto the front porch when it is done for a photo session.

Maybe THIS winter I will get my 13wpm code down. I have actually got in some time copying slow code (well, FRAGMENTS of slow code). It is still fun to listen to some of the different fists and rigs to hear how different they are.

Blessed festival of lights and merry Christmas! I look forward to a good time at the meeting. 73, N1SRC


We knew it was a Field Day blowout back in June. The contacts just kept on coming to the point where we set all sorts of QSO records for our group and wound up with over 12000 points. The only question was, "how did everyone else do?" The answer is in, and we bested them all in the 2A category. If you look in the Field Day results for 2A, you will see that W0CQC had many more points. This year, the ARRL combined the QRP battery groups with everyone else. Traditionally, all Field Day groups running QRP on battery power have been listed in their own section. If you look in years past, W0CQC won every year in 2A-battery and competitive battery groups will always beat the non-battery groups. The ARRL says that, next year, they will go back to keeping the QRP battery groups separate from everyone else. We'll accept that as a first place finish!

Overall, W1NVT scored number 16 in the nation in all groups and categories. And everyone else was running more transmitters! In terms of number of QSO's, we were number 8 in the nation - unheard of for a little 2A group. That says two things - we did well in making contacts and also, it says that we need to do more CW! No matter how you slice it, we produced an impressive result. This was not done with fancy equipment, monster towers, big name operators, or even an ideal geographic location. We did what we did with preparation, practice and plain old hard work. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Not only were we successful in acquiring points, a picture of RANV's Field Day effort made it into the front pages of QST! At the top of page 21 of the December, 1999 issue, the CW station with Brian WA1LIR madly trying to keep up the logging in the foregroud while Doug AB1T pours on the contacts. A whole bunch of visitors and potential future hams can also be seen. Missing is CW mascot Bugs Bunny, who was hiding in the grass. Thanks to Bruce WW1M for his nice photography work!

On a statewide level, this was the largest ever Field Day in Vermont. Some 13 Vermont groups showed up in QST, representing a reported 175 amateur operators. A few other groups straddle the VT/NH border and are also included. I remember it wasn't too long ago when there was only one group - and it was poorly attended.

Following is a listing of the Vermont and nearby New Hampshire Field Day groups. To allow for a comparison (and because I had nothing particularly better to do), the percentile (ranking of each group to the number groups in its category) is shown.

RA of No VT	W1NVT	2A	4450	12194	2	558	.996
Twin State (NH)	W1FN	4A	3917	11772	2	152	.987
Nature Boys	W1ECH	1Abat	759	7795	4	222	.982
Udder Club	W1MOO	5A	4056	11700	5	90	.944
So Vt ARC	WT1B	3A	2497	6446	36	368	.902
St Albans ARC	K2KI	2A	814	2792	183	558	.672
Green Mtn 	WG1Q	2A	925	2606	205	558	.633
Ct Vly FM Assn	AA1PK	2A	364	1896	292	558	.477
TESARO  (NH)    WI1M  	2A	366	1530	368	558	.341
Burlington ARC	W1KOO	2A	448	1382	397	558	.289
Non Club	W1XX	1B	75	375	80	106	.245
Lyndon Alumni	AA1VT	1A	194	722	177	222	.203
Sherburne ARC	KB1WI	1A	218	536	194	222	.126
Brattleboro ARC	W1FPS	3A	290	1180	323	368	.122
Border ARF	KB1BRN	2A	186	606	551	558	.013


It's been an active contesting month for hams in our area. We set a new record for Vermont contacts handed out during the phone SS! Over 5500 contacts were made by hams in this area alone. Check for up to minute coverage on the RANV Web page.

Don't forget to get on for the 10-Meter Contest this weekend. The great conditions promise to make it a super time!

160 Meter Contest
Call 	QSO 	Mult 	Score 	Category
W1SJ 	925 	85	166k 	High Pwr
AA1SU 	552	54 	 62k 	Low Pwr
W1EAT	 89 	29	  5k 	QRP

CQ Worldwide CW
Call 	QSO 	Mult 	Score 	Category
AA1SU	609 	183 	300k 	Low Pwr
N0ICI 	120      79 	 27k 	Low Pwr

Sweepstakes Phone
Call 	QSO 	Sec 	Score 	Category
WB1GQR	1715 	79 	271k 	High Pwr
KK1L 	1374 	79 	217k 	High Pwr
K1HD 	 935 	79	148k	High Pwr
N0ICI 	 765 	79	121k	Low Pwr
AA1SU 	 726 	79	115k	Low Pwr

Sweepstakes CW
Call 	QSO	Sec	Score 	Category
N0ICI 	756 	75 	113k 	Low Pwr
AA1SU	706 	72 	102k 	Low Pwr
W1EAT 	581 	77 	 89k 	QRP


By Paul AA1SU

Here we are in December, and we just had 6 exciting contests in the last 7 weekends. That is why they call it contest season. I hope that some of you will get on for the ARRL 10-Meter Contest, as it is popular with all HF license class operators. Several RANV members were on for the November Sweepstakes and a few of us got sweeps. That means all 79 ARRL sections were contacted; not an easy task. Vermont was well represented this year, mostly by our own club members. By the way, did we kick butt during Field Day, or what?

Things slow down a little this month in the contesting world, but that doesn't mean that you won't find hams on the air, from all over the world. On the weekend of December 18th, there are 5 contests alone. Although I am now a RTTY contester, I will skip the OK DX RTTY Contest (at night, anyway), in favor of the Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge. Stew Perry, W1BB was one of the pioneers of the 160 meter band in the early days of ham radio. You can read more about him in the March 1999 RANV News & Views. This CW-only contest is in his honor and the exchange is grid squares.

Most of you can't work 160 or RTTY, so the RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada Winter Contest might be for you. It is phone or CW, and only Canadians count for points. Details are on page 88 of December QST. This is a very good contest to practice your search and pounce skills.

For New Years Eve, you could always participate in Straight Key Night. This is not a contest, rather a friendly on-air gathering to enjoy the art of conversation using "straight" CW hand keys. It starts at 7pm and goes for 24 hours. Instead of sending RST, send SKN before your signal report. This will clue in other listeners.

Things will start to heat up again, with the NA QSO Party, CW on January 8th. "Parties" are a little more laid back than "Contests". This one starts at 1pm, and single ops can only work 10 of the 12 hours. You can use this one to sharpen your CW skills, so that we can use you for Field Day, later next year. Working on Worked All States (WAS)? Then, this one is for you! Exchange is name and state. Some people send strange nicknames, a real test of your ability.

Now to answer lasts month's tease. Cabrillo is a new standard electronic file format now required for all ARRL electronic contest submissions. It seems that several different file formats were submitted in the 1998 ARRL 10-Meter Contest. They were all technically correct, but additional work was needed to process them. The Cabrillo format standardizes the QSO information that appears in each data column. New contest software supports it, or you can visit to get file specifications and templates.

Next month, here comes the Vermont QSO Party & W1B again!


by Paul AA1SU

I've been doing a little research lately, and I wondered what are the places on this earth where one could send away for a DX QSL Card for a mere 33 cents and an SASE? So, I went to the post office and asked them. After obtaining that information, I matched the countries up with their respective ham radio call sign prefixes and compiled the following list. Now I know a lot of you don't chase DX or contest, but keep this list handy, because you can work any of these DXCC Countries on Ten Meters with 100 watts.

The term "U.S. Territories and Possessions" comprises the following:

	Country   		Prefixes
	American Samoa:  	AH8, KH8, NH8, WH8, some KS6's
	Baker & Howland Is: 	AH1, KH1, NH1, WH1
	Guam:  			AH2, KH2, NH2, WH2, KG6ASO
	Palmyra & Jarvis Is: 	AH5, KH5, NH5, WH5
	Johnston Is:  		AH3, KH3, NH3, WH3, KJ6BZ
	Kingman Reef:  		AH5K, KH5K, NH5K, WH5K
	Midway Is:  		AH4, KH4, NH4, WH4
	Navassa Is:  		KP1, NP1, WP1
	Mariana Is:    		AH0, KH0, NH0, WH0, KG6SL
	Puerto Rico:       	KP3, KP4, NP3, NP4, WP3, WP4
	U.S. Virgin Is:        	KP2, KV4, NP2, WP2
	Wake Is:          	AH9, KH9, NH9, WH9

The term "U.S. Freely Associated States" comprises the following:

	Country	Prefixes
	Marshal Is:     	V7, KX6BU
	Palau:    		KC6, T8
	Micronesia:        	V6

These are all on the DXCC Countries list and by the way, so are Alaska, Hawaii, and the United States. Here are some other post office rates.

			 Canada   	Mexico 	Other Countries
	Post Card    	 40 cents  	35 cents  	50 cents
	1/2 ounce letter 46 cents  	40 cents  	60 cents
	1 ounce letter   52 cents   	46 cents  	$1.00

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, an IRC is usually needed to get those DXCC QSL cards that you don't want to use the QSL Bureau for. For the countries mentioned above, just an SASE will do. Another way to round up cards is to be on the look out for call signs that look like this: VP5/N0AT. VP5 is the Turks & Caicos Islands, but a QSL card could easily be obtained by sending an SASE to the home call of N0AT. Have fun, and I hope that you get to work some of these rare DX Countries before the next postal increase.


editorial by Mitch W1SJ

I hate Windows. No, I'm not talking about that confounded operating system brought upon us by the likes of one Mr. Gates, although I can get a lot of agreement on Windows hatred.

It's not the Windows operating system I'm talking about, nor is it the windows which have to be washed every so often. I'm talking about amateur radio windows - certain chunks of frequencies set aside by agreement for this group or that group.

The operating window concept started out as a seemingly good idea. Let's set aside 10 kHz on the low end of 75 meters so that we can hear the week DX stations. Let's do something similar on 160 meters. OK, now let's set aside some space for the Slow Scan TV operators. And, for good measure, let's reserve a generous 10 kHz guardband around each operating Net.

It's gotten out of hand. Reserving frequencies is no longer a good idea because people are taking advantage. What has been long forgotten about these windows is that they are not laws or regulations, but simple agreements. If an amateur operator chooses not to adhere to these agreements, it is not illegal and certainly does not warrant jamming and other illegal activities. What should be a friendly agreement turns into daily and nightly turf wars. The poor soul who trespasses on these sacred pieces of frequency is rudely told to leave. Then, in quick succession, they are called a lid or jerk, are further harassed and finally a number of stations take to dumping carriers or calling CQ right on top of the "intruder". This must stop. We have proved that the window concept does not work. It doesn't put amateur radio in a good light, so therefore get rid of it.

I'm pretty much aware of most of the windows and major nets. When I casually operate, I tend to stay away from the window areas, unless I happen to be engaging in chasing DX on 75 meters, where it would be appropriate to be in the DX window. There is usually adequate room to move around and what frequency I happen to be on fdoesn't matter all that much. However, most of my HF operating consists of contesting. For the major phone contests (SS, ARRL DX, CQWW and Field Day) there are several thousand participants and hundreds upon hundreds of amateurs will be on a particular band when it is open. Popular bands like 75 and 20 meters are wall-to-wall QRM. There simply is not enough room for everyone. It is ludicrous to expect that 10 kHz of spectrum be kept clear for 20 DXers while a thousand or more contesters scratch for a kHz of frequency to work people. So, what happens is that the contest spills over into every part of the band - windows included.

I've always followed a simple rule when I operate - I check to see if the frequency is in use, and if it is, I move off. I'll do this either by asking, or by sending a very short CQ. During this past Sweepstakes, I found a clear spot right on 3800 kHz at around 0100. K8DX was 2.5 kHz above, barely enough space to filter his S-meter pinning signal. I operated there for a while with little QRM. K8DX slid down to 3801.8 kHz, and it was virtually impossible to hear much, so I slid to 3799.6 and tightened up the filters and tried to make the best of a poor situation (normal for 75). This went on reasonably well for 45 minutes. Then, things deteriorated. G0NVD came on the frequency and ordered me to leave. He had a S9 +20 dB signal (so much for the weak DX argument). There was no where else to go (I checked). And, the window was full of contesters. So, he did the honorable thing and proceeded to call CQ DX on top of me for 45 minutes. Along with DJ7AA, they took turns calling CQ and bellyaching about the contest. They could have slid down the band or moved to 160 meters or perhaps wait until Sunday night at 0300Z when the contest would be over. But noooo, they elected to maliciously interfere with me to protect their DX turf. To add insult to injury, DJ9AA then continued his bellyaching on the Contest reflector about that bad old Vermont station interfering in his beloved window. Gee, why didn't he take out an ad on CNN as well?

This is one incident of many over the years and all contesters can relate a bunch of similar horror stories. Recently, I was outside of a window and was still told to leave because there was DX on! I guess that means I must curtail any CQing whenvever DX is present. One year I was "evicted" from 3802 kHz because my Lower Sideband was heard across the DX window. Over on 20 meters, SSTVers claimed 14.230 as their operating window. In practice, any contester who ends up anywhere between 14.220 and 14.245 gets TV tones dumped on them for hours at a time. One year, I was minding my own business on 14.260 MHz and the IOTA net came on and they told me go away. Badly. I told them that I could move up a kHz, if they move down a little. Nope - "go away!" was their response. The FCC has recently taken notice and has told all Nets that they don't own any frequency and that malicious interference will not be tolerated. We only hope an improvement will be made.

The bottom line is this: We must all share the frequencies. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you are doing - all must share. It doesn't matter if you are working DX, a contest, or are ragchewing - all are equal. The only folks who have priority are those DIRECTLY handling emergency traffic. The person who is on a frequency first and actually using it (not reserving it, as some do) should have priority. I don't start using a frequency if it will cause someone interference. Conversely, I object to anyone coming on or near my frequency and I politely but firmly ask them to move up or down. Amazingly, this works most of the time with contesters. The ARRL has promoted many of these windows and special frequencies in their publications. They didn't invent them, but are informing us. However, I see that we are at a time where these reserved frequencies have outlived their usefulness and cause more problems then not. The ARRL should insist on courteous operating and not inform or in anyway promote reserved frequencies. Let the amateur operators on the bands figure out where they need to be operating.

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