Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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

The October Meeting

... was held on October 11th with 22 members in attendance. Our newest member is Mary Grace Barreras, KC5RGS. Congratulations!


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

Probabilities remain high that the WB5QZD 70-cm repeater will be installed on Socorro Peak before the hamfest, but progress has slowed considerably. We had scheduled Wednesday, October 25 as the day to install both the antenna and repeater. That plan was confounded by an automatic IDer that wasn't at all automatic. Hopefully, this problem will be solved soon enough so that we can meet our goal of November 18. This new repeater will go a long way towards relieving the recent, unacceptable level of crowding on the 146.68 MHz machine (hi, hi).

If anyone knows the whereabouts of the manual and codes for the WB5TGR (70 cm) repeater that was on Socorro Peak until last year, would you please contact me (-5771)? I have communicated with both Neil (AB5FR) and George (WB5TGR), and neither can cast any light on who might have a copy here in Socorro.


Things are taking shape rapidly. We have most of our prizes in hand and every day more trinkets arrive in the mail. The ARRL sent a box of books for door prizes and a box of handouts for our ARRL table. We will need lots of help to make sure everything runs smoothly. A signup sheet will be at the next meeting. Don't miss it!

Christmas Party

It's getting close to time for our annual Christmas Party. Please check your calendars before the next meeting; we will choose a date and time then.

President's Corner

Monte Bateman, WB5RZX

Organization of the Year!

SARA has received a great honor from the community. The Socorro County Chamber of Commerce voted us the Organization of the Year, and we received a nice plaque at the annual awards banquet last Saturday. I spoke with Gwen at the Defensor-Chieftain about all the things that SARA has done in the last year. Take a look at this list (prepared by Dave, N1IRZ):

Public Service/Emergency Communications

Educational Support

Community Promotion/Outreach

Dave, N1IRZ, is working on an article for QST about SARA and our fantastic successes; with this award it's quite likely that QST will publish our story. Good job, as usual!

Hamfest Preparation

Twelve skilled workers came to the clubhouse to help assemble our mailing. We sent out 4150 flyers; about 400 have come back. We will have a display at the hamfest of our new plaque, photos of club activities, and a sampling of the QSL cards received from our Trinity Site special event. With the QRP events going on, we hope to attract lots of new folks to come and "see what it's all about." Never forget that you are an ambassador for SARA and for ham radio. Tell everyone how much fun it is to be a ham and a member of SARA.


This Tuesday, November 7, the new NOVA episode Lightning! will air on PBS (Channel 5 in ABQ). The NOVA crew visited Langmuir Lab during the summer of 1993 and filmed balloon launches and rocket-triggered lightning flashes. Every ham should learn all they can about lightning!


Gatherings, gatherings

Upcoming events

VE session --- Register @ 11:00; test begins @ noon.

QRP Forum, ARRL Forum, RFI Forum.

N1IRZ speaks on "Morse Code for Morse Haters"

Giveaway table & QRP/Homebrew contest

News from ARRL

FCC Field Office Cuts OKed by Commissioners

The FCC has approved a field office restructuring plan that it says will improve operations and save money. The plan, submitted to the Commissioners by FCC Chairman Reed Hundt on August 17, would automate the FCC's network of airwave monitoring stations and reduce the number of field offices and field personnel in the Compliance and Information Bureau (CIB).

The plan also will improve public information services by establishing a new toll-free national call center, the FCC said. The Commission's field enforcement activities would be maintained at current levels.

The plan would close nine separate attended HF monitoring stations, and three additional monitoring sites within FCC field offices. Technological advances permit the replacement of these monitoring stations with a national automated monitoring network by the summer of 1996, the FCC said, and "overall, monitoring capacities will be enhanced." One facility, in Laurel/Columbia, Maryland, will remain as the network central station.

The new FCC Call Center would, for the first time, enable the public anywhere in the United States to call one toll-free number to reach the FCC for information or to report complaints. The Center will handle this function more efficiently, and with greater convenience to the public, than is now possible in the dispersed field offices, the FCC said.

The FCC said that, under the plan, authorized staffing in the CIB will decrease by about one-third by the beginning of FY 1997. The CIB plan will require an investment of $5 to $7 million in equipment and personnel in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 and the Commission estimates it would save more than $8 million (in current dollars) annually thereafter.

Hundt said "The CIB restructuring plan will enable us to enforce the rules that govern the nation's airwaves better and cheaper. We will also be able to provide information services to the public better and cheaper."

As is required for all major FCC reorganizations, the CIB restructuring plan must be reviewed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. At the same time, the FCC will begin required negotiations with the union that represents FCC employees.

FCC Denies Requests to Lower CW Speeds

The FCC has denied three requests to lower the Morse code requirement for the General Class license.

The request letters came from three Technician-Plus class licensees. All three asked that the 13 wpm Morse code requirement for the General Class license be lowered to 5 wpm. Two of them also asked that the Technician Plus operator license class be eliminated and that holders of Technician Plus licenses be granted General Class operator privileges.

In an Order released October 19, 1995, the FCC said "The current amateur service license structure and examination requirements were developed in accordance with the expressed desires of the amateur service community through numerous rulemaking proceedings that generated many thousands of comments.

"The amateur service community indicated on each occasion that it strongly desires to preserve communications by telegraphy. After considering the views expressed in those proceedings, the Commission adopted the rules that are codified in Part 97" (of the FCC Rules).

"The requesters have not presented sufficient evidence to justify revisiting these matters at this time," the FCC said.

Hurricane Service

If you were active in relief efforts during or after one or more of this fall's hurricanes, please send your report or story to ARRL Field Services Manager Rick Palm, K1CE, by January 1, 1996. Thanks!

CQ to Debut new pubs for Contesters, VHFers

CQ Communications Inc. plans a mid-December debut of a new magazine, CQ VHF. It will be "aimed at ham radio operators active on frequencies above 50 MHz." Richard Moseson, NW2L, will be the editor.

Publisher Richard Ross, K2MGA, said that "CQ VHF will serve the specific needs and interests of hams whose operational and technical interests exist above 50 MHz." Moseson said there will be a mix of articles for the new ham as well as the more experienced operator.

The first issue of CQ VHF will be dated January/February 1996, but the magazine will be published monthly beginning with the March 1996, issue.

CQ Communications also will introduce CQ Contest, beginning in January 1996 and planned for ten issues a year. The editor will be CQ World-Wide Contest Director Bob Cox, K3EST. "One of the principle goals for CQ Contest will be its international focus, scope and depth," CQ said. "The magazine will concentrate on coverage of people, analysis, techniques, reporting and technology." CQ said the new magazine would "in no way signal the abandonment of contest reporting in its parent magazine, CQ."

News from ARNS

PL Tones, what they are and how they work

by David Breaux, KC5BLY

Hams have used PL tones for many years, though few understand how they work. Yet understanding PL can improve a ham's operating proficiency.

PL tones are a form of selective signaling. On a shared channel, PL can relieve an operator of hearing other users while awaiting a message intended for himself. Community repeaters use PL tones to separate user groups, or to prevent the repeater from rebroadcasting noise and intermodulation interference.

Tone signaling spans a number of technologies, including dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF), continuous-tone-coded squelch (CTCSS), digitally coded squelch (DCS), automatic number identification (ANI), selective calling, status reporting, tone remote control, and paging. Continuous-tone-coded squelch goes by various trade names. Motorola owns Private Line (PL).

To understand how PL (CTCSS) works, let's first consider the transmitter. A PL transmitter sends a sub-audible tone along with its voice/audio signal. The sub-audible tone, which the transmitter sends continuously, can be any of a selection of standard frequencies below 300 Hz. The frequency deviation of the subaudible tone should be +/- 750 Hz when the voice modulation is absent.

The CTCSS receiver is more complex, because it must respond to the correct tone, while rejecting all others. When the receiver detects the proper tone, it unsquelches the audio path---to "open" the receiver for the incoming signal. A signal with the wrong tone, or with no tone, must not activate the receiver.

A good CTCSS receiver employs a high-pass filter after its subaudible-tone detector stage, to attenuate the subaudible tones. Without that filter, the radio's user may be able to hear the tones, which can be annoying.

By its very nature, a CTCSS system cannot be perfect. Though a receiver with PL passes audio only for signals with the correct subaudible tone, any RF signal, with or without tone, can tie up the channel.

Also, with PL turned on the operator hears no traffic even when the channel is in use. That's the PL system's purpose. So to avoid interference, an operator must check the channel with his or her own PL turned off (or watch the receiver's S meter for a few seconds), before transmitting.

---from the January '95 Cajun Electric ARC (New Roads, LA) "The CEARC Journal" Gary Hollier, KA5HLC, Editor.

From the Internet

How to sound like a LID

Rusty Bumpers, N6LID

On two meters lately, I have noticed a tendency of people making a concerted effort to sound like a lid. Since this appears to be the new style in Amateur Radio, I thought I would present this handy guide to radio nerd-dom. The following is what I call: "How to sound like a LID in one easy lesson."

  1. Use as many Q signals as possible. Yes, I know they were invented solely for CW and are totally inappropriate for 2-meter FM, but they're fun and entertaining. They keep people guessing as to what you really meant, i.e., "I'm going to QSY to the phone." Can you really change frequency to the phone? QSL used to mean "I am acknowledging receipt," but now it appears to mean "yes" or "OK." I guess I missed it when the ARRL changed the meaning. Also, it's best to use OK and QSL together. Redundancy is the better part of Lid-dom.

  2. Never laugh when you can say "hi hi." No one will ever know you aren't a long time CW ragchewer if you don't tell them. They'll think you've been on since the days of Marconi.

  3. Utilize an alternative vocabulary. Use words like "destinated" and "negatory." It's OK to make up your own words here. "Yeah Bill, I pheelbart zaphonix occasionally myself."

  4. Always say "N5LID (insert your own call) for I.D." As mentioned in Step One, anything that creates redundancy is always strongly encouraged. That's why we have the Department of Redundancy Department. Please note that you can follow your call with "for identification purposes" instead of "for I.D." While taking longer to say, it is worth more lid-points.

  5. The better the copy on 2-meter FM, the more you should phonetically spell your name, especially if it is a short and/or common one, i.e., "My name is Al ... Alpha Lima" or "Jack ... Juliet Alpha Charlie Kilo." If at all possible, make up unintelligible phonetics. "My name is Bob ... Billibong Oregano Bumperpool."

  6. Always give the calls of yourself and everyone who is (or has been) in the group, whether they are still there or not. While this has been unnecessary for years, it is still a wonderful memory test.

  7. Whenever possible, use the wrong terminology. It keeps people guessing. Use "modulation" when you mean "deviation" and vice-versa.

  8. If someone asks for a break, always finish your turn, talking as long as possible before turning it over. Whenever possible, pass it around a few times first. This will discourage the breaker and, if it is an emergency, will encourage him to switch to another repeater and not bother you.

  9. Always ask involved questions of the person who is trying to sign out. Never let him get by with a yes or no answer. Make it a question that will take a long time to answer.

  10. The less you know about a subject, the more you should speculate about it on the air. The amount of time spent on your speculations should be inversely proportional to your knowledge of the subject.

  11. If someone on the repeater is causing interference, you should talk about that person at great length, making sure to comment on at least four out of six of the following: (1) His mental state; (2) His family; (3) His intelligence, or lack of same; (4) His sexual preference; (5) His relationship to small animals; (6) His other methods of self-entertainment.

  12. If you hear two amateurs start a conversation on the repeater, wait until they are 20 seconds into their contact, and then break in to use the patch. Make sure that it's only a simple routine phone call. It's also very important that you run the autopatch for the full three minutes. This way, once the two re-establish contact, they won't even remember what they were talking about.

  13. You hear someone on the repeater giving directions to a visiting amateur. Even if the directions are good, make sure you break in with your own "alternate route but better way to get there" version. This is most effective if several other LID trainees join in, each with a different route. By the time the amateur wanting directions unscrambles all the street names whizzing around in his head, he should have mobiled out of range of the repeater. This keeps you from having to stick around and help the guy get back out of town later.

These thirteen easy steps should put you well on the way to Lid-hood. I hope these helpful hints will save you some time in your quest to sound like the perfect Lid.


(Rusty Bumpers is a pen name. He maintains anonymity so he can sit peacefully at club meetings and avoid the wrath (and breath) of the uninformed.)

From Newsline

No Quacking!

Joe, VE3NDX, tells about an Australian man who was fined $2,000 for quacking like a duck on his radio transmitter. No, we are not kidding. $2,000 for going quack, quack on the air. The fine was levied after the man pleaded guilty to operation and possession of unlicensed communications equipment. He was also ordered to forfeit the equipment to the government.


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @