Watts News

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

 March 2001
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Contents of this issue

  •  6.8 earthquake cancels February OARS meeting
  •  March 08, 2001 ARES Meeting Minutes
  •  Riley Hollingsworth speaks
  •  Repeater Autodial List
  •  Earthquake commentary
  •  Bear Advisory
  •  Treasurer's Report
  •  Bureaucracy in action
  •  OARS Net check-ins
  •  Have you paid your OARS dues ?
  •  From the Oval Shack
  •  From the Vice President
  •  2001 Flea Market
  •  Darwin must have been right...

  • --back to OARS home page

    6.8 earthquake cancels February OARS meeting

    Emergency communications were for real on February 28, the scheduled date for last month's OARS meeting. With key OARS officials on duty, and building safety uncertain, it was deemed best to forego the meeting.

    The planned presentation on DXpeditions, with a video on the Clipperton Island DXpedition, will be given this month instead. The meeting will also feature discussion of the earthquake communication activities, and the proper role of OARS repeaters in such emergencies. For KA4VVA's take on this, see his article included on page 3. It should be interesting, so plan to attend.

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    March 08, 2001 ARES Meeting Minutes

    The meeting was called to order at 19:30. There were 16 members in attendance along with 4 visitors. 

    We were honored with a visit from Sheriff Gary Edwards and Dianne Oberquell. They each stopped to offer their thanks to the amateurs that assisted during the recent quake as well as to those that checked in to the net and were prepared to assist if needed. They both were pleased with the manner in which the net was operated.

    Lee, KI7SS, reviewed the recent rally. He said he was pleased with the overall performance of the Hams, and that it had gone very well.

    There was a brief discussion on the upcoming Flea Market in Puyallup. 

    There was a brief review of coming events -- marathons, parades, etc. 

    There was a review of the net activation after the quake. The members described what they were doing during the quake and what they did following it. They also provided thoughts upon what they felt could have been handled differently.

    -- Dan KB7DFL

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    Riley Hollingsworth speaks

    FCC "enforcer" Riley Hollingsworth addressed my local amateur radio clubs (the Carroll County Amateur Radio Club/Potomac Valley Radio Club) in Maryland on Monday, 12 March. He had a lot of interesting comments and spoke for over 90 minutes.

    He said that the current state of the amateur bands resulted from 12 years of FCC regulatory neglect, and he thinks that it will take another 3 to 5 years of aggressive FCC enforcement to return the bands to responsible use. He believes that there will be no enforcement changes under new FCC chairman Powell, especially since Powell has a background in that area. At the same time, he noted that complaints from amateurs are decreasing so he is better able to concentrate on the hardcore violators.

    Turning to the amateur radio fraternity, he reminded all of us that "the world is listening." By that, he meant we, as amateurs, always need to remember that everything we say on the ham bands is broadcast to the world. This realization is important for several reasons. In the United States, businesses are eager to get amateur allocations and in the international sphere, many countries do not appreciate amateur radio and would love to get ham allocations currently guaranteed under treaties. Both record amateurs fighting over frequencies, jamming each other, spouting profanity, and the like to use as proof that they can make better use of the ham bands. Moreover, the general public has purchased thousands of scanners and when they hear negativity on the ham bands, support for amateur radio erodes. He actually was pleading for amateurs to act responsibly and not drive prospective hams away.

    In the same vein, he said that enforcement can not save amateur radio. Our job, as hams, is not to embarrass ourselves. Moreover, we have to be able to show ourselves to the public in a good light. To achieve this goal, he gave five suggestions:

    1. Each of us needs to recruit someone to be a ham.

    2. Amateur radio needs to be publicized.

    3. Hams need to pay attention to what they say on the air so as not to drive prospective hams away.

    4. Some people take self-policing to the extreme. Don't get into arguments with violators; don't fight on the air; and don't jam violators. Instead, alert the FCC.

    5. Don't give third world countries reasons to propose that amateur radio allocations be turned over to other uses.

    In his view, amateur radio serves America despite all the negative publicity. When disaster strikes, amateur radio had always been flexible enough to come through. He emphasized that the cell phone system has broken down in every disaster and, in fact, when most of the telecommunication infrastructure has become inoperable, hams come through (and for free).

    Looking at the future, he sees three potential threats to amateur radio:

    1. There will be an increasing need to fight the production of part 15 junk (i.e. consumer products that radiate interference).

    2. Public complaints about cell towers will spill over to all antenna towers, and he cited the recent Texas law on tower restrictions.

    3. Restrictive deeds and covenants.

    Turning to the FCC, he noted that the commission is "complaint driven." By that, he meant that the FCC generally only acts on complaints. If you believe that someone is violating the rules, he suggests informing the violator, and then recording the violator's behavior. Send the recording and a description (frequency, times, etc) to the FCC and they will look into the problem. In many of the recent enforcement actions against violators, ham recordings have played an important role.

    Finally, he said a few words about 10 meters. The FCC currently is involved in a study to determine who the intruders are on the amateur bands, including 10 meters. The FCC is also looking at a proposal to have FCC agents at truck weigh stations to inspect trucker CB/ham equipment. Mr. Hollingsworth noted that many truckers operate legally on 10 meters, but there are a lot of bootleggers, and he would like to get the illegal operators off the band. At the same time, he acknowledged that the vast majority of intruders on the ham bands come from "off shore" and that those problems will have to be addressed on the international level. We can help in that regard by forwarding tapes of illegal operations to the FCC so that they have the appropriate evidence to challenge bootleggers, both domestically and overseas.

    I hope this review of his comments was of interest.

    73 de Pete, N3FNE

    -- submitted by Ben Bennett, N7IVM

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    Repeater Autodial List

    911 ; 911 phone (hit *911C to dial)
    00 C ; 273 8614 JEFF WITHERS (hit *0C to dial)
    01 C ; 754 0781 Oly AWOS
    02 C ; 367 6453 Oly civil WX
    03 C ; 992 7433 FSS 1 800 WX Brief
    04 C ; 534 9357 KEN DAHL K7TAG
    05 C ; 943 4352 LARRY WATKINSON KC7CKO
    10 C ; 491 9541 RICK ENLOW WB7TT
    12 C ; 866 0800 LEE CHAMBERS KI7SS
    13 C ; 491 0354 WALLY MUSIC W7UUO
    14 C ; 704 2740 911 DISPATCH KA4VVA TOM
    15 C ; 943 1624 MARK MATTHIES N7EIM
    16 C ; 867 0756 GHERY PETTIT N6TPT
    17 C ; 438 5066 DON SHIELDS KJ7NV
    18 C ; 352 2514 KEITH MCDONALD N7JSK
    19 C ; 456 2427 DOC GOODNOW N7JHJ
    20 C ; 705 8600 DANIEL BAHRT KD7ECC
    23 C ; 438 9860 GARD FORESTER KF6GAQ
    24 C ; 438 7411 AMY WONG KC7FED
    25 C ; 352 9189 MARK HANNIGAN K7CEZ
    26 C ; 352 7516 ALLAN JONES W7SAY
    27 C; 273 5900 DAVID BLOHN KD7KQD

    Call W3GE to get any phone number added !

    -- Jeff Withers, W3GE

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    Earthquake commentary

    -- by Tom Dennis, KA4VVA

    Here are some headlines for OARS membership to ponder:

    FEMA owns OARS repeaters!
    Yes, true. In the event that local, state or federal emergency response/assistance agencies are activated, and they call up the RACES organization, then ALL of the OARS repeaters come under FEMA guidelines and operational standards. OARS and ARES/RACES members have no say so on how the equipment or nets are operated. It is all under FEMA guidelines during the incident.

    Chicken little leads lemmings over cliff!
    Unconfirmed information, gossip and general comments aren't needed! If you are not the originator of the information, then get the name and call sign of who is. Passing on gossip and rumors doesn't help anyone. Also, just yelling the status of a school building, people, and street doesn't do any good -- address the issue with the EOC or NCS. Three types of people came out of this event: "CHICKEN LITTLES" that ran around dazed, yelling or whining, their followers, and the self-serving types. And what adds fuel to this is that most of these individuals are members of ARES/RACES, but never attend the majority of the meetings or classes, so they have little or no knowledge of operational requirements. But as you have heard, they are the first to be vocal about not having their personal needs met, the heck with the community, and people believe them as experts on the subject!

    Dropping repeater links will not hurt anyone!
    The linked repeaters should have been dropped. Why? The Crawford site is on propane generator backup, and we had no idea of the site status. But people sure wanted to waste the energy keeping the link because some folks didn't know we had 440, 220 and 2 meter in the EOC and Red Cross (and the Comm Van) to monitor all repeaters. Now we have come to learn all the new bells & whistles for the repeater system will now allow us to just drop one link for the time being. Seems there was a lack of communications in getting this gear recently. Also, there needs to be ONE designated person in charge of the repeaters. There are too many fingers in the pie where responsibilities are concerned.

    OARS is financially strapped!
    OARS dues have never met the operational requirements for their repeaters. Since the early 1980's, OARS has made an agreement with local county government. OARS would allow unlimited use of their repeater systems in the event of an emergency or public service related activity, and the Sheriff's Office pays the monthly property rent, electricity bill and the phone patch. Over the years, the county has also donated coax, commercial grade antennas and filters for OARS repeaters. So what does this cost? Each site costs approx. $267.00 per repeater per year in combined utility and rent costs, and the phone patch is $49.00 a month. Do the math; do you think OARS has the budget to handle this on its own?

    What can OARS do?
    Well, some can act just like the Olympia City Council and talk endlessly and whine about this and that. If you have the time to waste, you too can get in on these discussions. OARS only allows ARES/RACES (and FEMA) to use their equipment so they can (a) Be listed under ARRL as a "Community Service Club" and (b) get someone else to pay the bills. If the membership does not like the current setup, OARS has the option of removing their gear from county sites and paying their own way. ARES/RACES is getting a new funding system and they would be able to acquire their own repeaters systems in the near future. Lastly, people with common sense, analytical thought and the ability to see the greater needs of the local amateur radio facilities and not their petty personal needs for a repeater, can tell the Chicken Little's to shut up and sit down. Allan Jones, W7SAY, the ARES/RACES Radio Officer, and Dan Crane, KB7DFL, OARS President, made all the right decisions during the event. If you still don't like it, then you take over and do better.

    -- Tom Dennis, KA4VVA

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    Bear Advisory

    The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen, and Hams working rallies to take extra precautions and be on the alert for bears while in Washington state wilderness areas.

    They advise people to wear noise-producing devices, such as little bells, on their clothing to alert but not startle the bears unexpectedly. They also advise you to carry pepper spray, in case of an encounter with a bear. It is also a good idea to watch for signs of bear activity. People should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings.

    Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly squirrel fur.

    Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper spray. 

    -- from ZL3AI, via packet

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    Treasurer's Report

    As of 2/28/01

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)
        Previous balance $ 2,285.64
            Income 114.26
            Expenses 160.40
        Ending balance 2,239.50

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)
        Previous balance $ 910.94
            Income 0.00
            Expenses 0.00
        Ending balance 910.94

    -- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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    Bureaucracy in action

    Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert.

    Congress said: "Someone may steal from it at night." So they created a night Watchman Position and hired a person for the job.

    Then Congress asked, "How does the watchman do his job without instruction?" So they created a Planning Department and hired two people: one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.

    Then Congress said, "How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?" So they created a Quality Control Department and hired two people: One to do the studies and one to write the reports. 

    Then Congress said, "How are these people going to get paid?" So they created the following positions: a Time Keeper, and a Payroll Officer, then hired two people.

    Then Congress said, "Who will be accountable for all of these people?" So they created an Administrative Section and hired three people: an Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.

    Then Congress said, "We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $18,000 over budget; we must cut back overall cost."

    So they laid off the Night Watchman.

    -- from ZL3AI via packet

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    OARS Net check-ins

    The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on February 27:

        AA7YD  AB7NE  AB7PS   K7WJP



        N7AGG  N7JHJ  N7SSD   N7WW

        W3GE   W6FKR  W7SAY

    * Net Control Station

    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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    Have you paid your OARS dues?

    Next month we will publish the semi-annual OARS membership directory. If you wish to be included, make sure that you have paid your 2001 dues. The amount is $20 per individual or $25 per family. Mail your check to OARS at the P.O. Box address on the back cover, or pay to Treasurer Ed Fitzgerald at the next meeting.

    --back to table of contents

    Here it is early March; the flowers are up and my grass is growing. I had to mow it before I could take my mower in for its seasonal tune up and clean up. Usually we would be bemoaning the amount of rain we received. This year it looks like we will be wishing that we had more than we have. 

    As a result of the earthquake it would appear that the OARS club needs to assess the club's position on how they want the nets to be operated. There have been many comments as to the manner in which the event was handled recently. Considering the relationship that OARS has with the Sheriffs Office and DEM, I believe the event was properly managed. If that is not what the members want, then guidelines need to be established for the future. These decisions need to be performed collectively by the members. So think about what you want the net to be. What kind of service do you want it to provide. How do you want to operate with DEM and the Sheriffs Office. I will be coming back to this issue with some history of the development of the OARS repeaters. This will allow all of the members to be able to analyze the situation.

    Senate Bill SB 5002, regarding Amateur Radio Antenna Height Restrictions, has died in the committee. Personally I am surprised that, after having our recent quake, our Senators did not send it along for passage. Again, write your representative and express your feelings regarding the issue. 

    -- Dan KB7DFL

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    From the Vice President

    Last meeting was a bust, what with the earthquake just hours before! No way could we have a meeting with the courthouse closed, roads and bridges questionable, everybody on edge and busy listening to the ARES net on the repeater. I was somewhat put off by the forced decision to cancel, however, as I'd lined up a great program, and I was up for it. Fortunately, the program is repeatable, and so we'll see it this month, instead. I'm excited -- I've seen it, and every time I do, I get more out of it.

    I suspect we've all put the stories of where we were and what we did during the '01 earthquake, in long-term memory! It certainly was fun, and gave us a chance to evaluate our potential for helping in a crisis mode in a way that "mock" events don't! We identified a problem with the repeater -- it's too popular during one of these events to carry both our personal health and welfare traffic and the bona-fide emergency traffic it is needed for -- and in an emergency, the emergency traffic wins, of course.

    What to do? Much of the emergency traffic in this event needed to pass between the EOC and the Courthouse; clearly a separate, non-repeater link could guarantee communication whilst freeing the repeater. But that may not be the situation "next time." Almost certainly we'll have that traffic, of course, but there will be some other, unique communications needs that we'll need to support and rise to. We need a plan so that if the repeater is needed for emergency use, it can be counted on for that use, AND we can still communicate our non-priority traffic. Perhaps we move our traffic to simplex, or to Steve's 146.80 machine, or split up the linked system -- I dunno. Each scenario has its advantages, and disadvantages. That's the fun of it, for me -- figuring out the best way to use our considerable resources. 

    Elsewhere are listed some of the events coming up, including the Mock Search, YMCA run, Marathon, Road Rally, etc. I've already started calling everyone I know, with special emphasis on those that I can count on to help, asking if the dates in question are available on everyone's calendar. Please, if you've an inclination to help, please give me a call, or leave me an e-mail. I enjoy managing these events most, and these events run much better, when I've got a pool of willing helpers volunteering without cajoling. Then I can focus on the logistics.

    By the way, if you've an inclination toward strategy, I could use some help! There's often a lot of planning that goes into an event, and I've sometimes felt a little alone, making up the schedules and defining the processes the event will use. Who gives me the right to do these things, anyway? I KNOW that a team planning an event is able to put together a better plan than I am by myself, and I KNOW that as a result of me doing it alone some worthwhile things just don't get thought of or done. Like, doing proper advertising of our efforts, or getting REALLY NEAT event tee-shirts made -- or whatever. So if you've a little time, give a call. We can do a lot of this on the net, or on the air; we don't have to travel or consume vast amounts of time.

    The next OARS meeting is March 28th, at 7 PM, at the courthouse. I know the earthquake put itself on the agenda, and we've got a great program lined up, held over from last month. Come check it out! 73! 

    -- Lee, KI7SS (KI7SS@ARRL.NET)

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    2001 Flea Market

    Well, another grand gathering of the clan has ended for this year. Puyallup was its usual self, though it seemed that the overall amount of both buyers and sellers was somewhat smaller than last year. The OARS tables were on the second floor in the Northwest corner.

    Thanks to those that participated: Paul Taylor, Lee Chambers, Larry Watkinson -- and thanks to the people who donated something to the club to be sold there.

    Financial Report:

        Cost of tables (2 @ $22.00)   $ 44.00

        Entry Passes (4)              $ 24.00

        Total Expenses                $ 68.00

        Sales income                  $110.00

        Profit after expenses         $ 42.00

    -- Dan, KB7DFL

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    Darwin must have been right...

    There was a huge revolt across the nation, and all politicians had been rounded up and sentenced to die before the firing squad. Bill Clinton was the first one placed against the wall. Just before the order to shoot him was given, he yelled out, "Earthquake!" The soldiers panicked, and scattered in all directions. Bill jumped over the wall and escaped in the confusion.

    Al Gore was the second one placed against the wall. The squad was reassembled and Al saw how well the ruse by his old boss had worked. Before the order to shoot was given, Al yelled out, "Tornado!" Again the squad fled in panic and Al slipped over the wall. 

    George W. was the next politician to be placed against the wall. He thought to himself, "I think I've got this figured out. If I just yell out some sort of disaster, the firing squad will panic and I can just hop over the wall." As the firing squad was reassembled and the rifles raised in his direction he grinned and yelled out, "Fire!"

    -- thanks to Dave LeFevre, KC7FEC

    --back to table of contents

    --back to OARS home page