Socorro Amateur Radio Association


SARA Newsletter ----- "All the news that fits, we print" ----- April, 1995

Open House for Our HF Station

Yes, the HF station is here, and it's working! Some "early birds" already have made contacts using this station, and the signal reports indicate that we're sounding great.

Now it's your turn. On our meeting night this month, Wednesday, April 12, we're opening up the clubhouse at 6:00 p.m. to give members a chance to see, hear and use the HF station. Come on out and make a few contacts. Let's see who can work the most DX before the meeting starts!

This is the club station, and it's for you --- the SARA members --- to use and enjoy. If it's been a while since you've been on HF, or if you've never explored the world of HF, come on down and give a listen. Find out what's on the "low bands."

At the meeting, we'll be covering the procedures for members to get access to the station and for using it. We want you to use this facility --- your support of our organization is what made it possible for us to have this facility.

So come early for the meeting and join us in getting a good start on using this new SARA facility.

The March Meeting

... was held on March 8th with 20 members in attendance, including one new member --- David Romero, KC5MTG. Welcome!

License Class ---

The license class has concluded with seven new licensees. Congrats to: Joyce Aguilar, KC5NTY; Brenda Broadwell, KC5NTX; Scott Mace, KC5NUA; Alice Oty, KC5NTZ; Aimee Partain, KC5NUC; Jonathan Spargo, KC5NTW; and Norma Sparks, KC5NUB.

Repeater ---

There are several developments, mostly positive, to report regarding the SARA 2m repeater. Grant (N5YFX), with help from Tom (N5PLX) and me (I drove) installed the new surge protector recently purchased by the association. Its compact design significantly reduces the equipment volume in the bay, and there hasn't been a single lightning induced failure since installation.

With the help of several members (particularly Felix, WB5LXA; Thurman, AB5WS; and Ken, KC5HGG), we have optimized the balance between receiver and transmitter audio levels so that objectionable background noise is reduced. While weak and distant signals continue to suffer from some apparent desensing, the overall quality of retransmitted audio is improved.

Two problems related to controller operation continue to defy resolution. The manufacturer has concluded that these are likely software problems, and has agreed to send a replacement CPU programmed with a software version known to support the wayward functions. This CPU exchange should not result in more than a momentary interruption of repeater operations.

Felix (WB5LXA) and I tested the Reverse Autopatch function which is authorized for emergency operations, and it works well. Based on this success, I have prepared a draft SOP for Emergency Operations and a separate SOP covering Amateur-generated 911 calls for use by the Socorro Police Department.

The major (read easily obtainable) components (voter circuit, power supply, UHF and VHF receivers and UHF transmitter) for the voter system have been identified or are in hand. If you have an overwhelming desire to assemble PC boards (graphic equalizers, buffers, etc.), build a UHF yagi or VHF J-pole, please let me know. Have I got a deal for you.

--- Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

Trinity Site ---

The special event station will be July 16 from 0500--1100. We will work all "non-WARC" HF bands. We will have a "war veteran" straight key from the Pacific Theater which was used by Paul Harden's father to re-establish a Navy radio station on Guam after the island's recapture from the Japanese. The Socorro Chamber of Commerce will get a speaker from Los Alamos, and they plan on 2000--4000 visitors.


--- New Business ---

Fat Tire Antenna ---

We need to have a better antenna for the Fat Tire Fiesta "net control" station. Kalman volunteered his 2-elelment quad for us to use or copy.

Highway cleanup ---

... will be April 22.

President's Corner ---

... We Have an HF Station

SARA now has a complete, modern, functional HF station, available to all our members. This station is installed in the SARA room at our clubhouse.

This HF station is a club facility, provided as one of the privileges of your SARA membership. We owe our thanks to the HF Station Committee --- Chuck Broadwell, W5UXH, Howard Peavey, K9PV, and Tom Rehnert, N5PLX, for doing the legwork of assembling this station. The result is something in which they can justifiably take pride.

This new facility also is something in which all of SARA can take pride, because so many of you, whether you realize it or not, helped make it possible. Those who have supported SARA through their memberships, those who have helped our organization grow and have promoted amateur radio among their friends, and those who have helped make our Hamfest a tremendously successful event, all are responsible for making this HF station a reality.

This station marks another milestone of success for SARA.

The HF bands hold a unique place in amateur radio. It is on HF, more than any other part of amateur radio, that our hobby becomes international in scope. It is on HF that we can meet the greatest diversity of people. The HF bands are where decades of experimentation, recreation and public service have written much of the history of amateur radio.

Nowadays, of course, HF operation is not as central to amateur radio as it once was. International contacts are possible, and routine, using VHF weak-signal propagation, Moonbounce, and satellites. One can meet new ham friends through packet networks and large linked repeater systems. Still, every ham should at least become familiar with what HF has to offer. Some will find HF's allure irresistible, and others will pass it up for other aspects of the hobby.

Now all our members have the means to find out which route they wish to choose, without having to invest in equipment.

In addition, the SARA station is a community resource for emergency communications and public-service events, such as the international scouting Jamboree on the Air.

Earthquakes

And just as we were getting our HF station assembled, we saw an outburst of publicity about the liklihood of a major earthquake here in Socorro.

Many of you remember the program on earthquake safety and response presented to SARA last year by the state's earthquake coordinator, Bob Reddon. Now, with the likelihood of an earthquake here judged to be higher than before by the experts, we should review our preparedness for a quake.

First, of course, we should make sure our own homes and families are prepared in case of disaster. Next, we should review our amateur radio equipment and our ability to get on the air following a disaster. We should prepare to contribute useful communications services to our community when (not if) this need arises.

So how are you fixed for batteries?

VE Session

Our March 30 VE session was a successful one for nine new hams and two upgraders. We gained six new Technicians and three new Technicians Plus at this session. Congratulations to them and to Al and Sandy, KB5SZV and KB5YIX, who both upgraded to Amateur Extra Class. Our youngest new ham is David Best, son of Mike, NE7H. David is 10 years old.

Once again, we thank our VE team for making convenient, local testing sessions available to Socorrans. The VEs working this session were Kalman, AJ5B; Bill, N5RKD; Doug, AB5WT; Howard, K9PV; and Jim, AB5UO.

In addition, this session was the first in which I served as one of the "signatory" VEs, and the experience has made me far more aware of the work that goes into administering exams and making sure the paperwork that goes to the VEC organization and to the FCC is correct. Despite that, I found that the reward of watching the faces of people who just learned that they became hams is more than enough to make up for the work required.

--- Dave Finley, N1IRZ


The Voyage up South Baldy ---

First, I'd like to announce, the road to South Baldy is NOW OPEN! We encountered snow and first got stuck about 9500 ft. We plowed thru the drifts, got stuck, backed up, rammed thru it some more to get thru. Had to dig snow with shovels in one spot, and towed each other thru some real icy areas. One such spot had a 1000 foot drop off on the right as we fish tailed around the corner. But we made it. An interesting feeling knowing you're the first to make it up the mountain this year. Went up in NA5N's '76 Toyota Land Cruiser and AB5WT's brand new doesn't-have-a-scratch-yet Jeep. I figure the Forest Service owes us big bucks for this service!

There was virtually no snow at the top, but it was COLD and a stiff breeze. But a beautiful view. You'd swear you can see the Pacific Ocean!

You'd be surprised what you can find on the top of a mountain. We set up our stations around an old comet observatory building that had a 50-60-ft boom crane sitting in front of it. N1IRZ looped one end of his dipole around the end, but if only we could have fired up that crane and raised the boom...? (We checked: no batteries in the crane!). We worked from about noon to 4pm local, when the cold finally beat us and we could no longer tap out our calls. But we had fun and a very good time (lousy contesting though ... where was everyone?).

Station summaries:

N1IRZ, Dave Finley, operated exclusively 20m CW with his nice new QRP+ using a dipole "up 10,700 ft." --- stretched between the crane boom and a weather station mast (with a 200 mph anemometer on it with two busted vanes on the propeller!). Dave worked 14 stations on 20m, so 14 QSOs x 5 = 70 x 3 afield = 210 pts.

AB5WT, Doug West, operated 40m CW with his NorCal40 using a dipole stretched from the weather station mast to the corner of the comet observatory bldg. (about 90 degrees from N1IRZ's dipole). I don't have his log, but Doug worked about a dozen stations. (I've phoned, but Doug no longer returns my calls!)

NA5N, Paul Harden --- operated 40m CW with my mini-rack of modified MFJ's (only the 40m rig was contest "legal") off a dipole up 10,700 ft.- stretched between the Land Cruiser and a 14-ft portable mast taken up for the occasion. Found a big wooden cable spool with a big cable being laid, but abandoned 200 feet from my dipole. Deciding it's a better "desk" than what I brought, it took 20-30 minutes to roll that thing up to my dipole, where indeed it made a nice operating position once I got it on its side. I worked 17 stations, so 17 QSOs x 5 = 85 x 3 afield = 255 pts.

W5UXH, Chuck Broadwell operated 40m CW with his NN1G and an inverted Vee off a portable telescoping guyed pole ... a neat arrangement. To Chuck's credit, he was the only one to actually hike to the ~11,000 foot summit and had a coupla QSOs. There is a lightning research facility using different parts of this mountain top. At the very summit, Chuck encountered an acre of solid metal plates and mesh to attract lightning. While probably excellent for a vertical, it seemed to suck electrons out of Chuck's wire antenna. So down the peak he hiked to join us about 2pm and set up his station near the western ridge (just before it drops thousands of feet to the valley floor). There he received some better signal reports.

Another team member was K9PV, Howard Peavy. He came up the mountain later and stopped at a campground around 9500 feet several miles before the summit. We had worked a couple of times on 40m and he was running around a dozen contacts inside this gorge, surrounded by rocks and trees. He camped the night there and haven't seen him since to get a final score from him. His QTH seemed to be as effective as ours!

We all had fun and a good time in spite of the poor (mostly cold) WX. I was a bit disappointed in what appeared to me to be a weak turn out for the event, but then again, 40m was just kinda soft Saturday. 7040 was trashed for long periods by QRO ragchews, Amtor, etc. I called CQ several times on 7050 for long periods and never got an answer from a participant. I would like to see future QRP contests encourage 7040 to 7050. 7050 was in the clear most of the time. There isn't anything that sacred about 7040.

In terms of operating from a high mountain top ... to be honest, I really didn't see where it offered any tactical advantage or improved performance, EXCEPT for no power line noise and associated QRN. For FD and other QRP events, we may just cross the Rio Grande and set up atop a good old Mesa for probably the same effect. But the trip to the mountain WAS enjoyable. I also think "QRP to the field" might enjoy a better participation if held just a little bit later. As other reports indicate, much of the country is still experiencing snow, cold and winds this time of the year.

73 de NA5N, W5UXH, AB5WT, N1IRZ and K9PV

Click here to see pictures from the QRP expedition.


Nets ---

Gatherings, gatherings ---


Upcoming events ---


News from Newsline ---

Automatic renewal form

Renewing your ham license is getting a lot easier. This is because the FCC is coming out with its automatic ham radio license renewal form. It's called Form 610-R form and will be automatically sent out to amateurs whose licenses expire on or after September 1st, of this year.

Tentative dates are set so the first notices will be mailed around June 1st and subsequent mailings will be made about 90 days prior to expiration of each hams license. This new FCC renewal service will probably put an end to need for the ARRL to provide its free license renewal reminder service to its members. Whether or not the W5YI VEC will continue to offer its \$5 license renewal service is not known.

Club calls

Effective immediately, the Federal Communications Commission is accepting applications for new club and military recreation station licenses. Call signs will be issued by the FCC from the Group D call sign block, based on the applicant's call district.

A special FCC Form 610-B must be used to apply, and applications must be sent to the FCC's Gettysburg Licensing Facility, 1270 Fairfield Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245. Form 610-B can also be obtained from the ARRL VEC for a self addressed stamped envelope.

800 success

Also from the FCC, word that its Gettysburg, Pennsylvania license processing 800 information number may be too successful! They are already considering a second line and also looking into ways of releasing information on new licenses via the Internet. We also hear that in regard to the latter, the FCC staff is turning to the American Radio Relay League for help.

Vanity call sign reconsideration sought

The ARRL has petitioned the FCC for partial reconsideration of one aspect of its proposed vanity call sign program. The League wants the Commission to require that amateurs requesting vanity call signs in eligibility gates other than Gate One to specify call sign choices in the call sign region of their then current mailing address.

The League says it believes that the history of call sign regions and the nature of Amateur Radio communication indicate that call sign regions should be retained for vanity call sign applicants. It notes that some call sign regions have fewer available call signs than others. It says that allowing an open field would deplete the call sign pools in these regions. This says the ARRL would ultimately deprive some applicants who want a call sign in their own region the opportunity of obtaining one. The ARRL cites the limited call sign banks in Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii as examples.

The League voiced no opposition to this inter district call sign assignment to Gate One. This is because Gate One is for applicants for a previously held call sign or the call sign of a deceased relative.

The ARRL says that aside from this one point that it otherwise it fully supports the Commission's vanity call sign proposal. The League adds that it believes sufficient time is available to consider the proposed change before the FCC is ready to open Gate Two, the first gate that would be affected.


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @ nmt.edu