Olympia Amateur Radio Society

ARRL Special Service ClubWatts News

Monthly Newsletter of the

Olympia Amateur Radio Society

P.O. Box 2861, Olympia, WA 98507

  October 2008
Edited by George Lanning  KB6LE 

Table of Contents

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From the Oval ShackPresident's Message

Hello Everyone

According to our constitution, this is the month we elect officers. I invite everyone to consider a position they might be interested in holding and maybe running for it. Another suggestion is to show up for the meeting even if you are not planning to run to insure you are not elected in absentia. I have enjoyed being president this year and can be satisfied the club has not disbanded during my tenure. I realize the year is not yet concluded, but I have made it about seventy five percent through.

Another item of note: at our last examination session we had a candidate who was not able to test because we only had three examiners and one of these was a family member of that candidate. If you are at least eighteen years of age and hold a General Class or higher license, please consider becoming an examiner. It is free and you get the opportunity to congratulate new licensees before anyone else. If interested, you can get the manual from our exam web page. The easiest method would probably be to go to the www.olyham.org page, click the license exam link, then on that page scroll down to the "want to be a VE or need forms" link and there should be the manual either as a whole or chapter by chapter.

Finally, there is an event toward the end of the month that needs a few hams. This is the Tenino Ghost Muster Run and I think it is to be held on Saturday, October 25. Please contact Tom, KE7EJJ, for details and to sign up.


-- Klaus, AC7MG

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Third annual ARRL on-line auction set for October

The Third Annual ARRL On-Line Auction kicks off October 23, running until November 1 on the ARRL Web site http://www.arrl.org/auction. This is your chance to pick up one-of-a-kind Amateur Radio items. To see what the Auction will offer this year, be sure to check out the Auction preview that begins October 16. Last year, the Auction attracted more than 3000 registered bidders from more than 40 countries. While the majority of buyers were from the USA, Canada and the UK, there were buyers from Australia, Malaysia, Grenada, Vietnam and Tanzania.

According to ARRL Chief Operating Officer Harold Kramer, WJ1B, "Last year's on-line auction -- our second -- proved to be a successful and enjoyable event for both hams and ARRL staff members alike. When the bidding ended, we realized that we had sold 162 items and raised just over $50,000." Proceeds from the auction benefit ARRL education programs including activities to license new hams, strengthen Amateur Radio's emergency service training, offer continuing technical and operating education, as well as creating instructional materials.

ARRL Business Services Manager Deb Jahnke, K1DAJ, encouraged everyone to come and peruse the wide variety of offerings: "Browse through the web site frequently, as items will be added on a daily basis. We also encourage you to look through the 'Help' and 'About Us' sections. You'll find useful information about bidding, FAQs and a host of other facts. To ensure an enjoyable experience, please be sure to read all policies under the 'About Us' section."

This year's auction will again include many transceivers and other items that have appeared in the QST Product Review column and have thus been thoroughly tested by the ARRL Lab. There will be many vintage items offered, as well. Also, returning by popular demand will be four ARRL Lab unique "junque" boxes. These boxes have a starting bid of $50 and have almost anything you could ever possibly imagine in them. No one -- except the ARRL Lab staff -- knows what exactly is inside each box, but each is guaranteed to be full of things that the Lab staff consider valuable (but keep in mind that they collect just about anything).

Jahnke said that due to many requests last year, "all product review items in the On-Line Auction include a link to a PDF file of the actual Product Review, as well as a reference to the QST issue that the review appeared in."

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Treasurer's Report

As of 9/30/08

    GENERAL FUND (checking account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,555.69

            Income                45.35

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,601.04

    REPEATER / PACKET FUND (savings account)

        Previous balance     $ 1,015.98

            Income                 2.59

            Expenses               0.00

        Ending balance         1,018.57

-- Ed Fitzgerald, N7WW, Treasurer

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OARS Net check-ins

The following stations checked in on the OARS General Information Net on September 16:


Net control station reporting for the month was WC7I. 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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Kids' answers on marriage


You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. -- Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -- Kristen, age 10


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. -- Camille, age 10


You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. -- Derrick, age 8


Both don't want any more kids. -- Lori, age 8


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. -- Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. -- Martin, age 10


I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns. -- Craig, age 9


When they're rich. -- Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that. -- Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do. -- Howard, age 8


It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. -- Anita, age 9


There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? -- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is........


Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck. -- Ricky, age 10

-- from Klaus, AC7MG

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Ham Cram, or the One-Day Tech Class

by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

I used to be skeptical of one-day ham radio classes, sometimes called "Ham Cram" classes. After teaching a couple of these classes over the past year, however, I've become a supporter of this method of teaching, at least for the Technician Class license test.

One reason I'm an advocate of the one-day class is that I think a lot of people "learn by doing." I'm not an expert on pedagogy, but my guess is that more people learn by doing than learn by reading or by listening. That being the case, isn't it a good thing that new hams get their licenses quickly so that they can begin doing -- thereby learning -- more quickly?

Second, people are busy. Tell them that the class is going to eat up one evening a week for six to eight weeks and a lot of them will tell you that they just don't have the time to do it. Squeezing in six to eight hours on a Saturday is, however, something that they can do.

Critics of the one-day classes say that if people just cram for the test, they may learn enough for just long enough to pass the test, but they really don't know enough to be "good hams," whatever that may be. There's some truth to this. It's important not to abandon them once they get their tickets. I encourage all of the students to join a ham radio club and make myself available to answer any questions they may have as they get started in ham radio.

Critics also say that releasing this horde on the amateur bands will create nothing but chaos. Fortunately, I've personally seen no evidence that the hundreds of folks that have taken these classes across the country have created said chaos.

Make your next class a one-day class

I would encourage you to give this a try. Make your next Tech class a one-day class. You don't conduct Tech classes? Well, get started! Another benefit of the one-day class format is that it's easier to find teachers since it takes less time for them, too.

As I mentioned previously, over the past year, I've taught two "ham cram" classes. We've learned a few things along the way.

Perhaps the most important thing is to stress that students should study the material before coming to class. The study guide we use is one that I've written. You can find the KB6NU No-Nonsense Study Guide online at http://www.kb6nu.com. You can also purchase a pre-printed version of the study guide at www.booklocker.com/books/3408.html.

Another key is to not get bogged down on a particular topic. Our class runs from 9 am to 3 p.m., at which time, the VEs come in and give the test. To cover all of the material, you have to keep one eye on the clock and keep plowing ahead. To help you do this, a set of PowerPoint slides for teachers of Ham Cram Tech classes is available at http://w9pe.us/.

We conducted our first class last August. Nine out of twelve passed the test that day; the remaining three passed on their second attempt. In early May, we taught our second one-day class. This time, eleven out of twelve passed. In September, we held our third class and thirteen out of fourteen passed.

I am encouraged by these results, and I am planning to make these one-day classes a regularly-scheduled event here in Ann Arbor. Time will tell if these people become active, life-long hams, but so far, so good. If you have any questions about our experience with the one-day class, please e-mail me at cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

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Montana ham assists in rescue of fellow amateur 600 miles away

On Sunday, September 21, Bob Williams, N7ODM, of Bozeman, Montana, was just tuning around on 40 meters, giving his rig a test just before a scheduled QSO with his brother Rich, K7URU, in Spokane, when he heard a faint CW signal around 1 PM (MDT). Glenn Russell Ruby Jr, W7AU, of Corvallis, Oregon had broken his leg and was using a portable radio and Morse code to send out a call for help. Williams said he was able to understand the injured man's code even when his signal became very weak.

"He called me. He must have heard me testing out the radio. When I finished, I signed off with my call, and then I heard, 'N7ODM, this is W7AU/7,' so I answered," Williams told the ARRL. "I told him to go ahead, I had solid copy. He told me that he was a hiker that had fallen and broken his leg. He identified himself as Russ, provided information as to his GPS coordinates, the shelter, food and water on hand, as well as his detailed physical condition. He told me exactly who I needed to contact for assistance."

According to Williams, Ruby had slipped on a wet rock and broken his leg while out hiking in the Buck Creek Pass area of the high Cascades in Western Washington, 600 miles away from Williams. "Russ really had his act together," Williams said. "Before he even called for help, he set up his tent. It was raining when he fell, so he climbed into his tent and got into some warm clothes and had a snack of sunflower seeds and dried apricots. After that, he strung up a wire antenna, fired up his Elecraft K1 and called me." Williams said that Ruby told him he had a "couple of weeks worth of battery power" for the radio.

Ruby asked Williams to notify the Snohomish County Search and Rescue in Washington State. "I didn't have their number, so I called my local 911 dispatcher. All they had was the info for King County in Washington, so I called them and they gave me the number for Snohomish. When I got a hold of Snohomish County Search and Rescue, they asked me to obtain additional info from Russ, such as the color of his tent and if he was in a clear or wooded area, and remain in contact with him as long as possible," Williams said.

"Russ and I were able to maintain contact until about 8 PM on Sunday, during which time I was able to pass additional traffic between Russ and Search and Rescue, but then his signal got so weak where I couldn't copy it anymore. Before he faded, we had agreed to try and make contact in the morning. I tried, starting around 6:30, but he never heard me. I finally heard him calling me around 9 on 7.051 MHz. We kept in contact until he was evacuated from the site by Search and Rescue at about 10:35 AM," Williams told the ARRL.

On Sunday, rescue crews reached Ruby, who had set up camp on Buck Creek Pass, at about 6000 feet just west of the Chelan County line. He was taken to safety Monday on horseback. Williams said that bad weather Sunday prevented a helicopter rescue: "It was snowing all night; Russ told me that when he woke up Monday morning, his tent was all covered in snow."

"I just happened to be at the same frequency," Williams said. "It's just a stroke of luck that turned out great. It was quite an experience. I'm just glad that he was a ham radio operator and that I was able to talk to him. It made the difference for him. What I did was not anything special. I'd like to think that any ham in Montana would've done the same thing."

-- from the ARRL Letter

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Using a Mac in the shack

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

A couple of years ago, I decided to switch to the Mac for business use. (I am a freelance website developer.) I haven't regretted it for a second. The thing just seems to work better.

Last October, I decided to switch to a Mac in the shack and purchased used, iBook G4 Mac laptop. Unfortunately, I can't say that I've never regretted this move. The reason I sometimes regret this choice is that there just aren't as many ham radio programs available for the Mac as there are for the PC, and those that are available are either more expensive than their PC counterparts or don't work as well.

For example, let's take a look at logging programs. When I first started looking, I found one that was kind of expensive (MacLoggerDX -www.dogparksoftware.com/MacLoggerDX.html); one that was free, but didn't want to work so well (RUMLog - http://www.dl2rum.de/rumsoft/RUMLog.html);and one that worked OK and cost somewhere in between the first two (Aether- www.aetherlog.com/). Considering that there are at least a dozen logging programs that run on a PC, this was slim pickings.

I ended up purchasing Aether, but was never very happy with it. For one thing, it took forever to do any kind of sort or look up previous QSOs. Another pain was that it carried over none of the information from the previous contact, so you had to enter all of the information from scratch, even if you didn't change frequencies or bands. It also had an odd way of doing notes about a contact, and I was disappointed to find out that it didn't import the notes from the ADIF file I created from the N3FJP logging program I used previously.

For PSK, It's CocoaModem

I had much the same experience when looking for a PSK31 program. Instead of a the wide variety of PC PSK programs, I only found a couple of Mac programs that decode PSK. Fortunately, I am much happier with my choice here (cocoaModem - homepage.mac.com/chen/index.html). It's a great program, with a polished user interface, and it's free, to boot.

The only problem with cocoaModem is that it doesn't support the wide range of digital modes that some of the PC programs do. One I'm interested in is SSTV. Unfortunately, cocoaModem doesn' t do SSTV.

A Happy Ending

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I'd had enough of Aether and decided to start searching for logging software again. Since RUMLog was still free, I decided to give the new version (v 3.0, March 15, 2008) a go. I'm happy to report that this version likes my computer a lot better, and I like using it a lot!

One of the coolest things is that it did import the notes from my N3FJP ADIF file properly. So, now, when I type in a callsign, the program searches the database, finds all the previous contacts I've had with that station, and then displays them in spreadsheet style WITH the notes. If I've taken notes about a previous conversation, I can pick up right where I left off. Very cool.

It also has a very nice way of showing you what countries you've worked, on what bands you've worked them, and whether or not you've QSLed that country. Not only that, it shows what type of QSL you have, either a paper QSL or a Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL. And, after you supply your user ID and password, it will download your LOTW QSLs and update the appropriate QSO records. Very cool!

Still unresolved is what to use for contesting. None of the programs I've seen so far are useful for contesting, and I think that what I will end up doing is using my old PC laptop running N3FJP or N1MM software. I'm not a big contester, so I think I can live with that.

One thing is for sure -- I'm not going back to the PC aside from some niche applications like contesting. The Mac's ease of use and ease of setup has won me over. For information on even more ham radio software for the Mac, go to www.machamradio.com.

When not trying to convince his friends and family to convert to the Mac, Dan works a lot of CW and PSK, and even a little SSB, on 20, 30, and 40m. You can read more about his adventures in amateur radio by pointing your Web browser to www.kb6nu.com.

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2008 Pasta Run Report

On Saturday evening, Sept. 13, the annual Pasta Run sponsored by South Sound Running took place, and as usual, we had a good representation of hams assisting with communications. The Pasta Run is a 5K & 10K run from the Olympia Farmers Market out through Priest Point Park and return.

A pasta dinner after the finish is offered to the runners (gotta reload those carbs!) and the hams are supposed to join in the feed, too. (I'm submitting a gripe about them running out of pasta this year!)

The race communications was provided by KD7CZN, KE7EJJ, KC7FEE (motorcycle in the lead), KE7JTU, AC7MG, KC7OQJ, KI7SS, KB7STO, N6TPT, NX6W and myself. Thanks to all who participated!

-- Paul, KC7LA

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