Watts News

Monthly Newsletter of the
Olympia Amateur Radio Society
P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  June 2003
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

  •  From the Oval Shack
  •  Treasurer's Report
  •  New 60-meter band becomes available July 3
  •  Learning Visual Basic
  •  From the V.P.
  •  If
  •  Another Terrorist
  •  On the Edge: The Future of Fuel Cells
  •  New Technology
  •  OARS Net check-ins
  •  ARRL Seeks Computer-based Multimedia Presentations, Videos
  •  Hold the phone
  •  An Apple
  • --back to OARS home page

    The time of year has rolled around to our annual ARRL Field Day event. We will again be on the Washington state capitol at the intersection where 14th Ave and SE Angle Dr. meet Capitol Way. This is also the same corner where the information office is located. The only potential problem may be a general power outage on the capitol campus that weekend, which means that everything will run on the generators.

    Setup will begin at 9:00 AM Local. All help is appreciated

    Intel and Thurston County Sheriff's Office will again provide their communications vans as operating positions, so we will have a nice location from which to operate.

    We will run a 3A station. Steve Ward, WC7I, will provide his rig to use with the OARS trailer- mounted tower beam. The Intel van has an FT-100 for another rig with antenna. We will use the TS-930 which was recently donated to the club as the 3rd station. Fred Baker, W7SIX, will provide a satellite system, providing he is available.

    As always, we are planning to use all bands and as many modes as possible.

    We will again have the local area network and logging database that Duane WB7ROZ developed for us last year. It helps us to prevent duplicate contacts and also duplicate band and mode operation. It was a great asset to us last year, and should prove to be a great tool again this year. We are even going to try WiFi operation to prevent having to install the LAN cables.

    We will have a potluck beginning at 18:00 on Saturday for everyone, even if you are not participating in the rest of the Field Day activities. If your last name begins with:

    A-E bring a main dish

    F-M bring bread/beverage

    N-S bring a salad

    R-Z bring a dessert

    OARS will provide plates, plastic silverware, and a ham. You should also plan on bringing your own seating. Families are welcome.

    Tear down will be on Sunday morning, and help is always needed.

    -- Ken Dahl, K7TAG

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    Treasurer's Report

    As of 5/31/03

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance  $2,834.74
            Income             1.07
            Expenses         322.47
        Ending balance     2,513.34

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance   $ 965.75
            Income             0.00
            Expenses           0.00
        Ending balance       965.75

    -- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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    New 60-meter band becomes available July 3

    The new five-channel 60-meter domestic secondary amateur allocation becomes available to US Amateur Radio operators at midnight local time on July 3. The FCC Report and Order granting the allocation was published June 3 in the Federal Register. Federal government users are primary in the 5 MHz band.

    The FCC has granted amateurs use of five 2.8 kHz-wide channels with center frequencies of 5332, 5348, 5368, 5373 and 5405 kHz. The channels will be available to General and higher class licensees. The only permitted mode will be upper-sideband USB phone, and 50 W ERP is the maximum power allowed.

    Users of the 60-meter channels should set their carrier frequency 1.5 kHz lower than the channel center frequency. ARRL suggests restricting transmitted audio bandwidth to 200 Hz on the low end and 2800 Hz on the high end for a total bandwidth of 2.6 kHz. ARRL recommends that amateurs considering modifying existing amateur equipment for operation on 60 meters contact the equipment's manufacturer for advice.

    -- ARRL Bulletin ARLB038

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    Learning Visual Basic

    Recently in QST and QEX there have been series of articles on creating Amateur Radio software applications, using readily available software. Among this software group was Visual Basic 5. I have the following introductory books which I will be pleased to pass on to anyone who has an interest in pursuing this subject:

    a. "Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 24 Hours" -- Sams Pub. 

    b. "Programming with MS Visual Basic 5.0" -- Course Technology 

    c. "MS Advanced Visual Basic 5" -- Microsoft Press 

    Each of the books has an accompanying CD, and there are a few 3 ½ in. floppies with examples. If you have any interest in any or all of these, please contact Ben Bennett, N7IVM, at 705-8533.

    -- 73 de N7IVM Ben

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    From the V.P.

    Got your new antennas up yet? It's THE SEASON for us antenna nuts, and this year I've been pulling wire! Well, to be truthful, the really big loop isn't up yet. I'm working on the supports, but it's on its way into the air, maybe next weekend. Maybe not -- it occurs to me that I have to get the OARS portable tower all together for Field Day. This will take a couple hours; I hope for sunny weather!

    You have plans to make Field Day, don't you? Nothing should stand in your way that weekend (except possibly a new romance, and you can bring her along) as you've been warned for a long time now that the 4th weekend in June is Field Day weekend! This year we're using OARS's TS-930 SAT (gifted to OARS recently), WC7I Steve's TS-850, and the FT-100 in the Intel van. We're going to be truly generator-powered, as the power will be off on the capitol campus. It'll be REALLY DARK! Cool, I say, as maybe that'll cut some RFI from all the left-on computers nearby, too! But going to the bathrooms will be a challenge -- take a flashlight!

    Anyway, Field Day starts about 9 a.m., with arrival of the assembly team. That's you, me, and everyone else who can come. We'll get the systems up and running, and be there at 11 a.m. for the cacophony as the bands go from pretty quiet to bedlam in ten seconds! You gotta hear this! I never counted, but I bet there are 10,000 "CQ Field Day" calls at the same time, at 11:00:01, and it's really amazing to listen to! 

    Potluck dinner will be at 6:00 p.m. Bring your own chair and heed the instructions, elsewhere, on what kind of food to bring, so we don't all end up with salad and no drinks! We'll be on-site all night, so if you're too busy during the day, you've no excuse at 8 p.m., or 2 a.m., or whenever. Do come -- it's only once a year, and it's the most fun on HF you can have (short of an hour QSO with the south pole)!

    The following Saturday is Fox-Hunt Saturday. We'll all show up at seven for the breakfast at Nickelby's, and then deploy to find a no-reflections location where we'll wait for W7MRK to show up on 147.52. And then we'll try and find him. Mark should be active after the ARES/RACES Saturday net that meets on HF (3985 kHz) at 9 a.m., so I'd be listening from about 9:15 on, with my beam and attenuator at the ready. Check out the fox hunt stuff on the web. There are some amazing solutions to help you find the elusive Mark -- amazing and cheap! Everyone's invited. BCNU!

    I have Tom KA4VVA's Lakefair Parade plans in hand. I assume you're helping, and have touched bases with him for an assignment? Tom's picked up the coordination hat from me this year, and my job is to install and make sure the PA systems for the announcers all work. I couldn't do both tasks and Tom's really taken this on and it's going to be our best parade management effort ever! Thanks, Tom!

    The car rally deserves some mention. As you know, ordinarily we hams do health and welfare support for the car rallies. Three weeks before the start of our June rally, there was a crash back in PA that killed two experienced rally workers. The insurance people didn't like that; the upshot was that they changed our rally into a "TSD" (time-speed-distance) rally while they sorted out the issues. We hams still went out as planned, but our roles changed. We still had a part to play, just not the critical health and welfare role we're used to. We still counted cars, assuring that everyone was out of the woods and the gates could be locked. We still had hams in the sweep vehicles. There just weren't the risks that the typical rally generates, as there weren't any130 mph dirt-road stages. I have it on good authority that in September, when the next rally comes to town, things will be back to normal -- and then some. The next rally will be the biggest event since the 80's, and they want seven separate stages, and a radio op every three miles. This will test our logistics expertise, for sure! Plan to help, please!

    The OARS monthly meeting will be just before Field Day this month, so we've one more planning session before the BIG WEEKEND. Please come, bring your ideas and enthusiasm, and we'll all be the better for it! So until a week from Wednesday, 73!

    -- Lee, KI7SS

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    Another Terrorist

    At Heathrow Airport today, an individual -- later discovered to be a public school teacher -- was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a compass, a protractor, and a graphical calculator.

    Authorities believe he is member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

    -- from ZL3AI via packet

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    On the Edge: The Future of Fuel Cells

    By Rich Gray, SPACE.com

    Based on an electrochemical process that was discovered over 150 years ago, fuel cells use an electrically conductive material to convert chemical energy from hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy. They pollute less than traditional power sources, producing little more than water as a by-product. Fuel cells are not dependent on dwindling oil supplies, running instead on hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. And, unlike traditional batteries, fuel cells can be refueled. 

    While this may sound great, all is not roses for the industry. Fuel cells are currently expensive to produce (for automobiles, they can be ten times the price of conventional engines), and the hydrogen they use can be difficult to store and distribute. Yet, fuel cells today are much less expensive and more powerful than the prototypes used in 1960s NASA space capsules to produce both power and water. We're now on the brink of mass roll-outs of the technology in several areas, including automobiles and mobile devices.


    Much of the buzz surrounding fuel cells is in the automotive industry. Researchers expect that Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells will be twice as efficient as internal combustion engines and will cut carbon dioxide emissions in half. The current goal is to get fuel cell vehicles to the 300-mile mark before needing to refuel. Fuel cell vehicles can be refueled as quickly as today's vehicles, and the absence of a motor would allow engineers to develop vehicles that would last 20 years and would provide the ability to easily fit a different type of body on the chassis, a much cheaper solution to buying a whole new vehicle. 

    A number of automakers are now testing fuel cell vehicles. Daimler Chrysler is building 30 buses with fuel cell engines from Ballard Power Systems that will be deployed in European cities, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London, where they will be driven for two years in normal traffic to see how they perform. General Motors, Ford, and Honda are testing fuel cell prototypes, and all are aiming for mass production by 2010. At that point, the cost of purchasing a fuel cell vehicle should be comparable with that of a traditional car (the current test models can cost $1 million or more).

    Mobile Devices

    Another area where fuel cells are expected to play a prominent role is in mobile devices like laptops and cell phones. Direct methanol fuel cells would draw their power from methanol without the need for a reformer. Methanol has ten times the power of lithium batteries, and one cell could power a laptop computer all day. The fuel cell would draw in methanol and oxygen, and emit water (probably collected in a bladder) and a small amount of carbon dioxide. To refuel the laptop, you would simply pop out the fuel cartridge and slip in a new one. It's unclear at the moment how much such cartridges would cost.

    There are many companies making significant strides in this area. MTI Micro Fuel Cells has developed a prototype methanol mobile phone that will provide power for much longer periods than traditional cell phones when it is launched in 2004. Motorola, Toshiba, Casio, and Sanyo are developing miniature fuel cells for a variety of devices, including PDAs, laptops, and cell phones. Some very innovative work is being done by Neah Power Systems, which has developed a "porous silicon" design that would make fuel cells not only cheaper, but also much more powerful than current cells.

    The Department of Transportation gave the industry a big boost last October when it announced that a fuel cell design by PolyFuel would be allowed on airplanes, a change from the airline industry's rigid "no fuels" policy. Methanol powered devices, such as cell phones and laptops, should appear within the next two years.

    Additional Applications

    While the automotive and mobile device markets are expected to be most affected by fuel cells over the next few years, they are hardly alone. Fuel cells can be used anywhere that energy is required. Things such as highway road signs, often used where power is hard to come by, are currently being powered by prototype cells in New Jersey. There are a number of commercial fuel cell generators now working around the world, and companies such as Plug Power are testing residential generators that not only produce electricity, but can also be used for water and space heating.

    -- from the space.com website

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    New Technology

    A lady came to the hospital to visit a friend. She had not been in a hospital for several years and felt uneasy, not knowing about all the new technology. A technician followed her onto the elevator, wheeling a large, intimidating looking machine with tubes and wires and dials.

    "Boy, would I hate to be hooked up to that thing," she said. 

    "So would I," replied the technician. "It's a floor-cleaning machine."

    -- from "Joke of the Day" via Internet

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    OARS Net check-ins

    The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on one or more of the dates May 6, May 13, or May 27, 2003:


    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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    ARRL Seeks Computer-based Multimedia Presentations, Videos

    ARRL Field and Educational Services (F&ES) is seeking Amateur Radio presentation programs or slide shows that utilize Microsoft PowerPoint or similar computer-based slide-viewing software. F&ES also is interested in VHS and digital video programs to add to materials F&ES offers hams through the ARRL Video Series http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/materials/videos.html.

    Topic choice can be any Amateur Radio topic of interest to hams or targeted for a non-ham community, including demonstrations and tutorials on various topics. The ARRL Web site's Multimedia Frequently Asked Questions page http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/materials/visuals.html has further information. The League's video library needs media in forms that are easily portable, easily presented and up-to-the-minute. As file size and download speed may be an issue for downloading submissions from the ARRL Web site, F&ES wants to offer the best submissions by topic collection in CD-ROM format.

    Presentations and slide shows submitted should be placed on disc or CD-ROM (file zipping is acceptable). Videos should be in VHS or DVD format and not exceed 20 minutes in length. Submissions must contain original material and should not use music, video clips or copyrighted materials owned by others without appropriate permissions.

    Submissions should include a cover sheet describing the program, system requirements and file sizes and noting any use of materials used with the permission of others. Submissions accepted for use and distribution by ARRL will require the signing of a release form provided by ARRL. CDs selected for distribution would be made available to clubs and interested individuals for the cost of duplicating, shipping and handling. 

    Send presentations or slide shows on disc, CD-ROM, VHS tape or DVD to Multimedia Project, c/o Mary Lau, N1VH, ARRL Field and Educational Services, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. For further information on this project, contact Mary Lau, N1VH, mlau@arrl.org.

    -- from the ARRL Letter, Electronic Edition

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    Hold the phone!

    The FCC has written two Northern Virginia residents to follow up on complaints from a local amateur who's alleging that he's on the receiving end of harmful interference from telephone devices with the capability to support multiple cordless remotes. Both are unlicensed Part 15 consumer electronics devices made by a well-known manufacturer. The complaints from Bernie Keiser, W4SW -- an ARRL member in Vienna, Virginia, near Washington, DC -- represented a bit of a turnabout from the typical interference scenario, where ham operation occasionally generates complaints of interference to cordless consumer equipment.

    "Harmful interference to a licensed radio service from a Part 15 device is a violation of FCC rules," warned Sharon Bowers, deputy chief of the Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Division of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. Bowers explained that the equipment was classified as an "intentional radiator" -- a device that generates an RF signal as part of its normal operation. In separate letters June 2 to the two Part 15 users -- both also Vienna residents -- she pointed out that if their cordless telephone devices cause harmful interference to licensed spectrum users, "the operator of the device is responsible for correcting the interference, ceasing operation, if necessary, whenever such interference occurs."

    Keiser told ARRL that the interference -- in the form of broadband noise from 2400 to 2450 MHz -- impairs his ability to hear the AO-40 downlink and beacon on the band. "I have a 2.4-GHz cordless telephone that does not cause problems," he said. According to Keiser, the devices in question electronically poll various remote stations, and it's the polling function that apparently causes the noise. He was able to track down the noise sources on his own and has discussed the issue with his neighbors, with whom, he says, he remains on friendly terms. He said the owner of the device that's causing the worst interference is a communications attorney who understands the problem and hopes to deal with it through the manufacturer.

    In her letters, Bowers cited the applicable sections of Part 15 and advised that the alleged harmful interference must be corrected before they may use the devices legally. She suggested the consumers contact the manufacturer or retailer of the devices to see if they'd either allow them to return them or exchange them for devices that don't cause interference.

    -- from the ARRL Bulletin, Electronic Edition

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    An Apple

    While visiting a friend who was in the hospital, I noticed several pretty nurses, each of whom was wearing a pin designed to look like an apple.

    I asked one nurse what the pin signified. "Nothing, " she said with a smile. "It's just to keep the doctors away."

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    --back to OARS home page