Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  November 2009
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

Hello Everyone -

Our club elections were held last month and the new officers are the same as the old ones with the exception of vice president. Welcome Tom Gibb [W7TAG]. If you have ideas for meeting topics, please contact him.

Last month in addition to electing officers, we spoke about Field Day. The Capitol Campus may not be available to us, so we are investigating other locations. Please think about locations that may fit our needs. We will need access for the comm vehicles -- Intel van etc. -- that will not cause them to be damaged by overhanging trees, etc. Also we would prefer not to get them stuck in mud, etc. In addition, we will need restrooms of some sort, as well as site access around the clock for that weekend. If you think of any, please investigate them and either mention them at the club meetings or email them to myself or someone who can.

Finally, Mark Dempsey [KE7JTU] (new General by the way), is looking for people for a Boy Scout night hike on November 21. If you are available, please give it some consideration and contact him for more information or to volunteer.

Thanks and 73,


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Three People Killed While Erecting Antenna

At approximately 8:40 PM on Monday, October 12, a man, woman and their 15 year old son were killed while trying to erect a 50 foot vertical antenna at the home of the man's mother, Barbara Tenn, KJ4KFF, in Palm Bay, Florida. The deceased were not licensed amateurs.

"It happened in an instant," Palm Bay Fire Marshal Mike Couture said in a statement. "It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to the most tragic result."

According to police reports, Melville Braham, 55, Anna Braham, 49, and their 15 year old son Anthony were putting up an antenna -- Tenn's second, at night when they lost control of the antenna and it crashed into nearby overhead power lines. The impact sent 13,000 volts of electricity through the pole the three were holding. A family friend, a 17 year old boy, was on the roof at the time of the accident. He and the couple's daughter, who was in the house at the time, were not injured.

The mother was pronounced dead at the scene. When paramedics arrived, the father and son were not breathing. Rescue crews immediately tried to resuscitate them. They were transported to a hospital where they later died.

Neighbor Jim Vallindingham told television station WFTV that he called 911 when he saw the fire in the back yard and then he ran over: "I had no idea it was electrical until we got over there and saw the three people laying on the ground. So I called 911 a second time to tell them there were casualties. You know, there were people on the ground. So [the 911 operator] told me that's electric, you back away don't touch anything."

Couture said that night was not the best time to be attempting to put up an antenna. "It wasn't the best time, meaning it was night time. Obviously, in darkness, and trying to do something like this and not being keenly aware of where the power line is in the backyard, [was not a good idea]," he said. Neighbors said that Tenn, an ARRL member, used Amateur Radio to talk with her family in Jamaica.

Thanks to WFTV and Central Florida News 13 for the information

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Treasurer's Report

As of 10/31/09

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,823.90

            Income                 0.37

            Expenses              56.79

        Ending balance         1,767.48

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,028.93

            Income                 0.00

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,028.93

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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Packet BBS Gone

The 486 computer on which I have run the OARS packet BBS continuously for nearly 17 years has finally failed.

Since BBS use (and pretty much packet in general) has been practically zero for years, I see no point in expending the effort and cost of rebuilding.

The OLY node is still in place, but I have no way to monitor its operation.

-- George, KB6LE

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George E. Smith, AA2EJ, Wins Nobel Prize

Editor's note: I could not resist including this article from the ARRL Letter. George E. Smith happens to be my son Steve's father-in-law.

Around 5:30 on the morning of October 6, George E. Smith, AA2EJ, of Barnegat, New Jersey, got a phone call that changed his life: He had just found out he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2009 "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit -- the CCD sensor." Smith will share the prize money with two other recipients: Charles K. Kao, of Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in the United Kingdom and Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Willard S. Boyle, of Bell Laboratories. Each recipient will receive a diploma, a medal and a document confirming their share of SEK 10 million (about $1.4 million); Kao will receive 50 percent, while Smith and Boyle will each receive 25 percent of the monetary award.

Kao was recognized by the prize committee for his "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication." His discoveries paved the way for optical fiber technology, used for almost all telephony and data communication today. Boyle and Smith invented a digital image sensor -- the CCD -- that has become an electronic eye in almost all areas of photography.

"My wife Janet, AA2EI, and I sailed around the world for 17 years," Smith told the ARRL. "While we were on our boat, we used Amateur Radio, especially in the South Pacific. Janet was the principal radio operator. With our radio, we could keep track of other boats in the area. Over in the Southwest Pacific, there are shore stations there that provide weather forecasts every day on the ham radio. We would listen for these, as it was such a tremendous help for us as sailors."

The CCD -- invented in about an hour over lunch when Smith and Boyle worked at New Jersey's Bell Labs -- was, according to Wired Magazine, the first practical way to let a light-sensitive silicon chip store an image and then digitize it. In short, it is the basis of today's digital camera. According to Wired, the "most amazing thing about the invention" is that Boyle and Smith came up with the design so quickly. With Bell Labs threatening to take the funds from their department and transfer the money to other research, Boyle had to come up with a competing semiconductor design. He got together with Smith, and within an hour, they came up with the idea and sketched it all out on a blackboard.

"One morning in October, 1969," Boyle wrote on his web site, "I was challenged to create a new kind of computer memory. That afternoon, I got together with George Smith and brainstormed for an hour or so on a new kind of semiconductor device, drawing a few sketches and equations on a blackboard. We called it a charge-coupled device: A 'CCD.' When we had the shops at Bell Labs make up the device, it worked exactly as expected, much to the surprise of our colleagues."

When asked by the ARRL how he felt about winning the Nobel Prize, he exclaimed, "I feel great! Even though there's a lot of nonsense to go through with it, it's worth it and winning it does wonders for your ego. Aside from the initial shock and having to go through piles of mail, e-mail and returning telephone calls, I know that will calm down. As for the long-range future, I'm getting many invitations to give talks. Next year, I've been invited to speak at a major conference in Seoul, South Korea, another in Portland Oregon and another in Switzerland. I've been invited to France to give a talk, China, too. We need to sit down with a calendar and figure it all out. Having a Nobel makes a big dent in your lifestyle."

Smith told the ARRL that he knew the CCD was under consideration for the Nobel Prize, "but we didn't know exactly if, or when, it would happen. Research that wins the Nobel is often done many years beforehand. In my case, this was 40 year old research. The Prize Committee wants to make sure the research has stood the test of time.

"Amateur Radio has always attracted individuals who want to understand and exploit nature's laws," fellow Nobel Laureate Joe Taylor, K1JT, told the ARRL. "These are essential characteristics for first-rate scientists, as well. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics honors the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit -- the CCD sensor used in digital cameras, the Hubble Space Telescope and many other scientific and consumer devices. It was no great surprise to learn that one of the Laureates, George Smith, is also a radio amateur." Taylor was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 "for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation."

Next month, Smith will travel to Stockholm, Sweden for the award ceremony on December 10. It is certain that his picture will be taken scores of times by the international media, made possible through the technology that he and Boyle pioneered.

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Beauty Aid

A guy comes in to a bar and orders a double whiskey. He drinks it and looks in his pocket. Then he orders another one, drinks it and looks in his pocket again.

This is repeated a dozen times before the bartender asks him what he is doing.

He replies, "In my pocket I have a picture of my wife. When she gets good looking, I quit drinking..."

-- from AJokeADay via Internet

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Give Your Generator Some Space

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the same folks that bring you WWV, publish a monthly newsletter called NIST Tech Beat. Here's an item from the 10/6/09 issue of NIST Tech Beat that will be of interest to radio amateurs:

To subdue the steaming heat of hurricanes or to thaw out during a blizzard, gasoline-powered, portable generators are a lifeline during weather emergencies when homes are cut off without electricity. But these generators emit poisonous carbon monoxide (CO). A single generator can produce a hundred times more of the colorless, odorless gas than a modern car's exhaust. New research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that to prevent potentially dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, users may need to keep generators farther from the house than previously believed -- perhaps as much as 25 feet.

Up to half of the incidents of non-fatal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning reported in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons involved generators run within 7 feet of the home, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Carbon monoxide can enter a house through a number of airflow paths, such as a door or window left open to accommodate the extension cord that brings power from the generator into the house. While some guidance recommends 10 feet from open windows as a safe operating distance, NIST researcher Steven Emmerich says the safe operating distance depends on the house, the weather conditions and the unit. A generator's carbon monoxide output is usually higher than an automobile's, he says, because most generators do not have the sophisticated emission controls that cars do.

"People need to be aware that generators are potentially deadly and they need to educate themselves on proper use," Emmerich says. With funding from CDC, NIST researchers are gathering reliable data to support future CDC guidance.

NIST building researchers simulated multiple scenarios of a portable generator operating outside of a one-story house, using both a test structure and two different computer models -- the NIST-developed CONTAM indoor air quality model and a computational fluid dynamics model.

The simulations included factors that could be controlled by humans, such as generator location, exhaust direction and window-opening size, and environmental factors such as wind, temperature and house dimensions. In the simulations the generator was placed at various distances from the house and tested under different weather conditions.

"We found that for the house modeled in this study," researcher Leon Wang says, "a generator position 15 feet away from open windows was not far enough to prevent carbon monoxide entry into the house."

Winds perpendicular to the open window resulted in more carbon monoxide entry than winds at an angle, and lower wind speeds generally allowed more carbon monoxide in the house. "Slow, stagnant wind seems to be the worst case because it leads to the carbon monoxide lingering by the windows," Wang explains. Researchers determined that placing the generator outside of the airflow recirculation regions near the open windows reduced carbon monoxide entry.

In the next phase of the study NIST will model a two-story house that researchers believe will interact with the wind differently. NIST researchers also have worked with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on related work. (See: "NIST to Study Hazards of Portable Gasoline-Powered Generators," NIST Tech Beat, March 5, 2008.)

The generator study can be downloaded at http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build09/PDF/b09009.pdf.

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The photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots, so he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. "It will be waiting for you at the airport!" he was assured by his editor. As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, "Let's go! Let's go!"

The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air. "Fly over the north side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes."

"Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures! I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures!" said the photographer with great exasperation.

After a long pause the pilot said, "You mean you're not the instructor?"

-- from AJokeADay via Internet

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Pocket Tazer

Stun Gun: a great gift for the wife. A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Tazer for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse sized Tazer. The effects of the Tazer were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety. WAY TOO COOL!

Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however that if I pushed the button and pressed it against a metal surface at the same time, I'd get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs. AWESOME!!!

Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right? There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (troubled little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on flesh and blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie for a fraction of a second and thought better of it. She is a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?

So there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and Tazer in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your ass flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting batteries.

All the while I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5" long, less that 3/4 inch in circumference -- pretty cute really and (loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself "no possible way!" What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best.

I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as if to say, "Don't do it dude." Reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny thing couldn't hurt all that bad. I decided give myself a one second burst just for the heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and....


I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again! I vaguely recall waking up on my side in a fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling legs. The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to "mug" yourself with a Tazer, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would be considered conservative.


A minute or so later (can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits, the little I had left, sat up and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was. My whole right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling. Apparently I pooped on myself, but was too numb to know for sure and my sense of smell was gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came from my hair. I'm still looking for my nuts and I'm offering a significant reward for their safe return!

P.S. My wife can't stop laughing about my experience, loves the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!

-- from Klaus, AC7MG

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OARS Net Check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on October 20:


Net control station reporting for the month was Rod, KI7CQ. 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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