Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Services ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  November 2008
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

--bacl tp OARS home page


<>From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

<>Hello Everyone

The elections are finally over and we now have some new and some returning elected officials in various government offices. I think the high point for me is the end of the political advertisements on broadcast radio and television. I have also noticed that most of the yard signs have been removed. Our OARS elections are also over and our present officers were re-elected for next year. There was a fairly small turnout at the election meeting. While there was temptation to elect absentees to some offices, we were merciful. If there are any complaints about the officers, run for office.

The local LDS church has pretty much finished their licensing class. The two classroom sessions have completed, leaving the review and exam on Saturday, November 22. You may have also heard Lee (KI7SS) advertising the Technician class in Centralia November 30 and December 7 with an exam session on the afternoon of December 7. Spread the word.

Mark (KE7JTU) was contacted about someone to operate radios at the Red Cross if needed this last week. I gave my number and indicated I could be available. Fortunately I was not needed. While I do not have any experience with actual emergencies, I am also thankful few people were flooded.

We need meeting topics, etc. Last month I bored you discussing my senior project from college and microcontrollers. This month, I may be forced to bore you with a discussion of radios, amplifiers, and tuning. Be merciful to your fellow members and think of something for the meetings.

I realize I am about a week late with this, but "Thank You" to our military veterans.

73, -- Klaus

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ARRL General License Course on CD-ROM now available

Now there is even more help for upgrading to a General class Amateur Radio license -- the new "ARRL General Class License Course" http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=1387. The course includes the popular "ARRL General Class License Manual" with an all new instructional CD-ROM. This package has everything you need to upgrade.

The CD-ROM includes topics divided into "bite-sized" sessions, allowing you to learn at your own pace. The visual animations, along with colorful illustrations and audio, make your learning experience exciting and fun. The CD-ROM also includes quizzes and practice exams based on official exam questions to help reinforce your learning. The complete "General Class License Manual" is on the CD, giving you the freedom to have the entire book at your fingertips.

There are many reasons to upgrade your license, including:

* More frequencies -- The General class licensee has access to more bands.

* More communications options -- As you access the General frequencies, you now have many more ways to make contacts on new modes and with new groups of hams. Your new skills are also valuable to your emergency team or club.

* New technical opportunities -- With your new General class privileges, you now have many more ways of assembling and operating a station. The effects of the ionosphere and solar conditions will become second nature. Your improved technical understanding of how radio works will make you a more knowledgeable and skilled operator.

* More fun -- The traditional activities of ragchewing, DXing and contesting continue to attract hams as they have for decades. You'll find that even familiar activities take on new and interesting aspects on the HF bands.

Not only does upgrading your license grant you more privileges, but your experiences will be much broader. You'll enjoy Amateur Radio in ways that hams have pioneered and fostered for generations. These new privileges are well worth the effort.

By earning your General class license, you will gain access to nearly all amateur frequencies. Remember: There are no bands on which a General class licensee can't transmit! As a more experienced ham, your wider knowledge will allow you to experiment with, modify and build equipment and antennas to improve your communications abilities.

The "ARRL General Class License Course" with CD-ROM is available from the ARRL for only $74.95 http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=1387. This course is valid for exams given until June 30, 2011.

Minimum system requirements for CD-ROM: Microsoft Windows Vista/XP/2000/NT/98/95 or Apple OS X; 200 MHz processor; 32 MB RAM; sound card and speakers; 4-speed CD-ROM drive or higher. Requires web browser -- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Mozilla Firefox 2.0, Apple Safari 3.0 or later versions. Some documents require Adobe Reader.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Treasurer's Report

As of 10/31/08

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,601.04

            Income                 0.33

            Expenses             108.47

        Ending balance         1,492.90

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,018.57

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,018.57

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Grandma's pills

An 80-year-old woman's doctor finally retired after many years of seeing her. At her next checkup, the new doctor told her to bring a list of all her prescriptions.

As the young doctor was looking through the medications on the list, his eyes grew wide as he noticed a rather odd prescription for a woman her age.

"Mrs. Smith," he said as he pointed to the medicine. "I have to say I'm a little confused over this one prescription. Could you tell me what it's for?"

The woman looked at the medicine and replied, "Oh, yes. Those are wonderful pills. They help me sleep."

The doctor was taken aback. "Mrs. Smith, I don't mean to contradict you, but I don't see how they can possibly help you sleep. You see, these are birth control pills!"

"Well, I know that, dear," she said. "You see, every morning I grind one up and mix it in the glass of orange juice that my 16-year-old granddaughter drinks. And I promise you... they definitely help me to sleep at night."

-- from Klaus, AC7MG

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on October 21, 2008.


Net control station reporting for the month was Tom Bohon, KE7EJJ. 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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SKYWARN Recognition Day Set for December 6

The 10th Annual SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) Special Event will take place Saturday, December 6, 2008 http://hamradio.noaa.gov/ . SRD is co-sponsored by the ARRL and the National Weather Service (NWS) as a way to recognize the commitment made by amateur radio operators in helping to keep their communities safe. According to SRD Coordinator David Floyd, N5DBZ, Amateur Radio operators can visit their local participating NWS office http://www.crh.noaa.gov/hamradio/participating_offices.php, working as a team to contact other hams across the world throughout the 24 hour event.

The idea for the first SRD took shape in the summer of 1999. Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Goodland, Kansas NWS office Scott Mentzer, N0QE, tried to find a way to recognize the valuable contributions storm spotters make to the National Weather Service.

"Since many of those storm spotters were also hams," Floyd said, "it seemed like a natural fit for the recognition to be centered on Amateur Radio."

With the approval of NWS headquarters and a commitment to participate from many local NWS offices across the country, the first National Weather Service Special Event took place on November 27, 1999. "At the end of the event, an amazing 15,888 QSOs were logged, with contacts made to all 50 states and 63 countries," Floyd recounted. "The Des Moines forecast office took the honor of making the most contacts of any office that first year with 761 QSOs, and went on to lead the pack until 2003 by logging between 1300-1500 contacts each year!"

Floyd said that feedback from that first event was "overwhelmingly positive" from both the NWS staff and the local ham clubs. "Suddenly there was incentive for more NWS staffers to either obtain a license or upgrade so that more people could work ham radio during severe events. In addition, many club members had never visited an NWS office before. When they came for the special event, they learned the value of their reports and how they were used in conjunction with existing technology."

And so began an annual tradition. The following year, 85 of the 122 NWS offices -- almost 70 percent -- participated in the event, making nearly 24,000 QSOs. "Perhaps the most unusual contact occurred in 2000 with an airliner 39,000 feet above Utah," Floyd said. "The pilot ended the QSO with a request for a 'spot weather forecast' for his arrival at Salt Lake City airport."

In 2001, the name of the event was changed to SKYWARN Recognition Day, a name Floyd said better relayed what the day was all about: "Each year since the inception of SRD, the number of NWS offices and local ham clubs participating has increased, until now more than 100 offices sign up each year to take part. The most contacts made during any SRD occurred in 2006 when -- thanks to the staff and local hams in the Grand Junction, Colorado area -- 1640 QSOs were logged!"

Station call signs have also changed over the years. Floyd said that some NWS offices and clubs apply for a special event call sign, "such as

W3B in Brownsville or N0Y in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Other call signs hint at office location, including WX9GRB in Green Bay and WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center. Still others represent more of the big picture, as in KC0SKY in Pleasant Hill, Missouri."

Floyd said that as SKYWARN Recognition Day has grown throughout the years and is mainly an SSB event, he has seen a greater use of digital communications in addition to CW, RTTY and packet radio: "Each year, more and more contacts are being made using EchoLink and Winlink."

2008 SKYWARN Recognition Day will be held on December 6 from 0000 UTC -- 2400 UTC. Last year, contacts were made in all 50 states and 40 countries during the 24 hour event. If you haven't joined in the fun, make 2008 your year to do so!

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Let's get on the Maker bandwagon

-- by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

About a week ago, I got an e-mail from a ham down in Texas who had attended the Maker Faire (makerfaire.com). "Makers" are people who love to tinker and make things. They even have their own magazine, Make (www.makezine.com).

He was amazed at the lack of any amateur radio content. He wrote, "The Maker Faire was unbelievable. Incredible stuff. Pedal powered carnival rides, robots, computer drive routers, kits. Outside of a table with a Vectronics kit, and a license manual, and a QRP book, the only radio stuff was from a pirate radio group."

I'm kind of amazed at this as well. It just goes to show how disconnected amateur radio is getting from the mainstream. These are exactly the kind of people we want to get interested in amateur radio, yet there was no one there representing us.

Ham radio needs to be at these events and get plugged into the "maker community." The Faire has not yet released attendance figures for this particular Faire, but more than 65,000 people attended the Faire held in May 2008. Dayton, with its attendance of about 20,000, looks anemic by comparison.

I blogged about this back in May (http://kb6nu.com/why-cant-dayton-be-more-like-the-maker-faire/). One of the things I suggested then is moving Dayton to some place like Austin. Seriously, if you were a new, young ham, where would you rather go, Dayton, OH or Austin, TX? Let's be real here.

And can there be a worse place for an event than Hara Arena? The parking lot, where they hold the flea market looks like a mine field, and it usually rains, making the flea market a wet, unpleasant experience. Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer vendors choose to haul stuff out there? Some of us older hams might fondly reminisce about the bargain we found while traipsing around wearing a trash-bag poncho, but a story like that is not going to resonate with new hams.

Please don't get me wrong. I don't mean to badmouth the Dayton Amateur Radio Association or the Hamvention. I actually think that they do a great job, all things considered. I'm just pointing out that if ham radio wants to again be part of the mainstream, we have to get with the program. Unfortunately, that program probably won't be at the Hara Arena.

Ham radio has got to figure out how to latch onto the Maker phenomenon. At the very least, the ARRL should have a booth at the next one, and in addition to all the books and t-shirts, they need to come up with some kind of demo or display to attract makers into ham radio. I don't know what exactly, but I'm willing to start talking about it.

This phenomenon might also be a boon for clubs who hold hamfests. Just as the computer craze turned ham swaps into ham and computer swaps in the 80s, perhaps ham clubs could turn their hamfests into a combination hamfest and Maker Faire in their communities.

As I said earlier, Makers are exactly the kind of people we want in ham radio. Let's go out and get them.

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Modern Zen

01. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me all alone.

02. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.

03. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

04. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

05. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else .

06. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

07. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

08. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

09. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is probably not for you.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably a wise investment.

12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

17. Duct tape is like "The Force." It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

-- thanks to Katy Smart

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ARRL to offer self-study course on digital technology for emergency communications

With digital technology becoming an integral part of amateur radio, hams interested in emergency communications now have a new tool to help them take advantage of emerging modes such as Packet Radio APRS, Winlink 2000, IRLP, EchoLink and WIRES-II, D-STAR, APCO25, HF sound card modes and Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). "The ARRL Digital Technology for Emergency Communications Course" will introduce hams to all of the ways amateur radio operators are using digital technology as a valuable emergency communications tool http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?item=1247.

Written by ARRL Publications Manager and QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, this self-study CD-ROM will answer such questions as:

* Can you transfer supply lists or personnel assignments between emergency operations sites?

* Can you get critical e-mails to the Internet if a connection goes down?

* Can you relay digital images of damage at specific locations?

* Can you track the locations of emergency personnel and display them on computer maps?

Illustrations, screenshots, Internet links and audio files are used to demonstrate transmission modes and equipment configurations. Bite-sized learning units and interactive knowledge checks make learning interesting and fun!

"This course is a great starting point for anyone interested in the public service applications of digital communications technology," said Ford. "The ARRL Digital Technology for Emergency Communications Course" is available from the ARRL for only $49.95.

Minimum System Requirements for CD-ROM -- Microsoft Windows Vista/XP/2000/NT/98/95 or Apple OS X; 200 MHz processor; 32 MB RAM; sound card and speakers; 4-speed CD-ROM drive or higher. Requires Web browser -- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Mozilla Firefox 2.0, Apple Safari 3.0 or later versions. Some documents require Adobe Reader.

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Bogus ARRL emails

E-mails asking for personal information are not from ARRL (Oct 17, 2008)

We have received several reports from ARRL members with arrl.net e-mail accounts who have recently been contacted via e-mail asking for personal information, such as user names and passwords. Please be assured that these e-mails are fraudulent attempts at "phishing" and did not originate from ARRL. According to ARRL Information Technology Manager Don Durand, "This is a very crude attempt at phishing, using an easily determined spoof of the originating/return address. There is never a time when we would ask via mass e-mail for user names and passwords of arrl.net users. There is simply no need to ever do so." If you receive an e-mail asking for personal information and it looks like it originated from ARRL, please do not respond, just delete it.

-- ARRL Western Washington Section Manager: James Pace, K7CEX

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