Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Services ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  February 2008
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

Hello all,

Last night I drove home and upon exiting my suburban, I noticed a hissing sound. Upon investigation, I discovered my right rear tire was leaking air through a rather large hole. It appears my tire found a rock shaped and positioned just as needed to puncture the tread and steel belt(s) and allow the air to exit. As far as I can determine, the rock may be from the gravel placed on the roads to improve traction in the recent snowfall. Since my tires are nearly worn out, this may necessitate the purchase of a new set. The tire turned out to be nonrepairable, so they replaced it under road hazard and the new tire cost me twenty eight dollars. In considering complaints about our recent storms across the country, I have only to watch the news for a short time to realize my complaints are inconsequential in comparison to people who have lost property, their homes, or even loved ones in the tornadoes recently. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers.

I just noticed on the ARRL page that the European Union has apparently changed the privileges accorded to "us foreigners" under the reciprocity agreement. It seems a bit unclear to me, but as I understand the situation, US amateur operators have full privileges accorded to the highest class licenses in the European Union, but the story did not seem to note the privileges, if any, accorded to Technician or General class licensees. I tried to find out more at the CEPT webpage, but apparently lacked the intelligence or skill to find any information there. I did note a wide variety of comments available on the QST webpage concerning this topic. There were some using this to complain about the loosening of the licensing requirements here in the US. Others were complaining about the fact we have access to the question pools as well as the answers so that our radio students can simply memorize the exam without having any knowledge about electronics or radio theory. (In case anyone cares to know, this is how I passed my GROL exams.) I am probably very much like other Hams in that I have my own opinions about the licensing in the US, but my opinions are just that -- opinions and they are worth significantly less than you are paying for them. I have no idea how the reciprocity issue will play out, but then it is their own country or countries and we do have to abide by their rules while there.

Regarding the reduced CW requirements, I want to thank any and all who talk to me on the radio even though you may have earned your General, advanced, or Extra class licenses when they required greater CW. You probably did not take as long as I to get your license as I did (about 26 years). I remember in 2001 or 2002 reading about people with the "old" licenses who were not going to talk to those of us who received our licenses after 2000 due to the reduced code requirement.

I may have been fortunate, in that nearly everyone I have met on the radio seems to be pleasant, helpful, and fun to chat with. I have been laughed at when my wife replied on the air to a comment I made to another ham, as well as kidded about the time I locked my keys in the car and had to call my wife on the autopatch. I have enjoyed the hobby in large part due to the friendliness of other operators and the encouragement I have received. I hope I can provide as much encouragement to others as I have received.



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ARISS Team Looking for Ground Stations

Do you want to be part of the international network of ground stations that help support Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) operations?

ARISS is looking to add numerous ground stations capable of relaying ISS Amateur Radio sessions with schools and also serve as back-up communications relays should they be needed.

Locations all over the world will be considered, but the greatest need for stations is in Central America, South America, Falkland Islands, Western Australia, Canada and Alaska. The following are guidelines for stations wanting to be considered:

* Third Party agreement with United States or waiver from their telecom agency

* Ability to speak and understand English

* Minimal horizon obstructions

* 24/7 access and availability of station

* Operator(s) willing to support scheduled contacts at various times

* Phone patch

* AZ/EL tracking satellite system, preferably an auto tracking system with the capability for manual override

* Multi-element Yagis for 2 meters and 70 cm (circular polarization preferred)

* Pre-amps

* Transmit output greater than 70 W

* Note: If you can specify your station's EIRP and receive sensitivity (thereby taking into account cable losses, pre-amps and antenna gain), it would be greatly appreciated.

Stations that can support the following will be given special consideration, but these items are not required:

* Auto Doppler adjustment of frequencies

* Ability to speak and understand languages other than English

* 1.2 and 2.4 GHz satellite hardware

* Packet


* Digital ATV

* Redundant power system

* High-speed Internet

If you or your club would like to be considered for selection as one of the new ARISS ground stations, send an e-mail to ARISS at, ARISS-telebridge@amsat.org, with details about your station and contact information.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLS001

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Treasurer's Report

As of 1/31/08

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,311.76

            Income                 0.26

            Expenses             154.80

        Ending balance         1,157.22

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,010.80

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,010.80

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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World's Fastest Drinker?

A guy runs into the bar and says, "Quick, pour me 5 shots of your best scotch." The bartender pours them and the man drinks them as fast as he can. "Wow that's the fastest I've seen anyone drink," says the bartender. "Well you'd drink that fast if you had what I have" the man says. "Oh my god," the bartender says, "What do you have?" The man replies "50 cents."

-- from AJokeADay via Internet

Speaking of money, have you paid your 2008 OARS dues yet?

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*M**icroHAMS Digital Conference 2008*

Announcing the second annual MicroHAMS Digital Conference! The event will be held this year on the main Microsoft campus located in Redmond, WA on March 22nd, 2008. The agenda this year will include a wide variety of topics around digital communications and Amateur radio. Because of the huge success of last year's event, we have added 50% more seating for this year's event. Lunch and snacks are included with the price of the conference and we'll have free Internet access.

Because of space limitations and parking requirements on the Microsoft campus, we are strongly suggesting pre-registering for the event. Registration is $12.00 if done prior to the event and will be $15.00 at the door. We have a web-based sign-up form (details below) and have arranged pre-payment via the Paypal service. (No Paypal account is necessary) In addition to the presentations, a demo area will be setup along side the conference space and door prizes will be given away.

Event Details

Date: March 22, 2008

Location: Redmond, WA (on the main Microsoft Corporate campus)

Time: 9:00 to 17:00+

Lunch: Sub sandwiches and snacks (provided)

After Event: Pizza Gathering (local pizza place, to be named later)

Cost: $12.00 if pre-paid, $15.00 at the door (To cover the cost of hosting the event and lunch)

Registration: http://www.microhams.com/digitalconference

Registration Details

Due to the requirements for hosting the event on the Microsoft campus, we are required to register all the vehicles that will be parked on the campus. To make the registration process easier this year, we have a web-based registration form available at http://www.microhams.com/digitalconference. You will be able to register for the conference, provide your vehicle information and pre-pay via the MicroHAMS website. On site registration will be available if space is available for the $15 "at the door" fee.

NOTE: The primary parking for the event is in a covered parking garage located below the conference building. For vehicles with large HF antennas there is an open air parking lot available just down the street. (Less then a 5-minute walk) More details will be provided when you register. For more information, please contact ku7mradio@gmail.com .

Hope to see you at this year Microhams Digital Conference.


-- Kenny, KU7M, ku7mradio@gmail.com

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Doctor vs. Lawyer

A lawyer was cross-examining the doctor about whether or not he had checked the pulse of the deceased before he signed the death certificate. "No," the doctor said. "I did not check his pulse." "And did you listen for a heartbeat?" asked the lawyer. "No I did not," the doctor said. "So," said the lawyer, "when you signed the death certificate, you had not taken steps to make sure he was dead."

The doctor said, "Well, let me put it this way. The man's brain was in a jar on my desk but, for all I know, he could be out practicing law somewhere."

-- from AJokeADay via Internet

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net one or more times in the month of January:


Net control stations for the month were KE7EJJ, WC7I and KE7JTU. Thank you for your support!!

The net meets at 7:30 every Tuesday evening on the 3 linked OARS repeaters: 147.36, 224.46, and 441.40 MHz. All Hams are invited to check in.

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Dipole End Insulators

This week, ARRL Letter readers are in luck! The ARRL's very own Doctor, author of the popular QST column "The Doctor Is IN," answers a question from his mailbag:

Question: Wilber Warke, N9RGE, of Lebanon, Illinois, asks: What happens to a dipole or random wire antenna if end-insulators are not used? Does it change the radiation pattern? What if the ends without insulators are left hanging down? Does that change the radiation from horizontal to vertical?

The Doctor Answers: Wilbur, the insulators themselves don't change antenna performance. The insulators are designed to provide a high impedance path between the end of the antenna, usually a high voltage point, and the support structure.

If the support is metal, without an insulator the current from the antenna will continue to the support and that will become part of the antenna. The resulting performance will depend on the size and shape of the support and how solid a connection there is between the antenna and the support -- but often it will be a poor and likely intermittent connection -- usually a recipe for a number of different problems.

In the more typical case of a tree or other wooden structure, the impedance will be relatively high and it shouldn't matter too much until it gets wet -- then you could easily have a very unpredictable situation and likely be sending much of your power into warming up the tree. Very dry tree branches also introduce the risk of fire, especially if high power is used.

With respect to "dangling ends," they don't need insulators if they will stay dangling in space. Whatever is holding up the antenna just before the dangle suffers as above. Unfortunately, if the dangling ends aren't secured, they have a tendency to get blown around and can get wrapped around the antenna or other nearby objects.

If a "random wire" has both horizontal and vertical segments, each will radiate depending on the magnitude of the current in each segment -- this generally changes from band to band. Sometimes this can be used to good advantage.

In the case of a balanced half-wave dipole, if both ends are dangling the same amount, the vertical radiation will cancel in the direction of the main horizontal radiation lobe. There will be a small amount of vertical radiation, because the ends have less current than the center, in the direction of the dipole ends.

Antenna insulators are not expensive, so why not use them just to be safe. If you don't have a local source, consider making your own from scrap PVC pipe, or couplings. Just drill a hole through both sides at each end, de burr the holes and use them as insulators -- they are pretty close to free.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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AO-16 Satellite Serves as Voice Repeater

Launched in January 1990, AMSAT-OSCAR 16 (AO-16) -- a digital satellite -- has been unavailable for use while the command team dealt with a serious computer problem. The satellite has since been recovered, and is now a voice repeater, at least for an unspecified "test period" using FM voice on the uplink, but SSB voice on the downlink.

Since AO-16 was recovered approximately six months ago, the command team -- Bruce Rahn, WB9ANQ, Jim White, WD0E, and Mark Hammond, N8MH -- attempted to reload the satellite software almost a dozen times without success. The team performed a series of memory tests that pointed toward a hardware failure that prevented the spacecraft software from restarting successfully.

AMSAT Vice President of Operations Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, said, "After concluding that the spacecraft computer system was damaged, and as discussions about decommissioning were taking place, Jim recalled a series of low-level commands that Tom Clark, K3IO, included in the spacecraft design during construction. One of these commands allows an uplink receiver to be directly tied to a downlink transmitter. The twist is that the uplink is regular FM, but the downlink via the BPSK transmitter is DSB (Double Sideband). Mark placed the satellite in this mode early this week and did some testing."

Glasbrenner also said the satellite hears very well; the reduced bandwidth by using either USB or LSB on the ground station receiver allows for a very robust downlink. Tuning the downlink is just like on a linear transponder, meaning it is tight and with fast Doppler. Uplink tuning is not required, just as with the FM mode V/U satellites. My personal observations include being able to access and hear the satellite within one degree of the horizon, much lower than any other current bird for my location [in Florida]. This should be an easy satellite with omni antennas and a 70 cm preamp.

Glasbrenner said that he would like to open the satellite to general use for a test period. The uplink is 145.920 MHz FM, and the downlink is 437.026 MHz SSB +/- Doppler shift. He asks that users restrict their uplink power to a reasonable power level, and do not transmit without being able to hear the downlink; all general single-channel guidelines apply. Please submit reports via e-mail at, ao16@amsat.org . "Enjoy this bird's new life!" Glasbrenner said.

-- ARRL Bulletin ARLS002

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New Definitions

In case you missed it, here is the Washington Post's Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. The winners are:

-- Thanks to Judi Koehn

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Too Rough

A little girl asked her mother, "Can I go outside and play with the boys?" Her mother replied, "No, you can't play with the boys, they're too rough."

The little girl thought about it for a few moments and asked, "If I can find a smooth one, can I play with him?:

- from ajokeaday via Internet

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