Socorro Amateur Radio Association

SARA Newsletter ----- "All the news that fits, we print" ----- January, 1996

The December Meeting

... was our annual Christmas dinner held on December 8th. If you weren't there, you missed a good one!


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

There is absolutely nothing to report in the way of news related to Socorro repeaters for the month ending December 31, 1995, except perhaps that they appear to be functioning normally. That being the case, I'll do what the news media do at this time of year when they have no news --- recap the past year's repeater happenings. At least part of what I hope to accomplish is to remind myself of all that remains to be done.

A `new' Mastr II-based repeater was installed on Socorro Peak in mid-November 1994. The response to the new controller and its capabilities was immediate and positive. There were, of course, several matters that required attention after installation (for instance a CPU that was misprogrammed was replaced, and overvoltage protection was installed). Several trips up the mountain were made attempting to improve the quality of received weak signals by `tinkering' with level adjustments and various audio output alternatives, but by late spring it was clear that the receiver problems could not be resolved on the hill.

Bob Sparks (WB5QZD) was instrumental preparing the `old' repeater for return to the hill while the Mastr II was tested here in Socorro. The switch was made in early July and the melodious tones of Sandy Braun's (KB5YIX) voice ID for the AA5RH repeater once again greeted all. Activity on trouble slowed as vacations competed with ham radio, but by late September, Jim Oty (WB5GWH) discovered that the receiver board was bad. The now normally functioning Mastr II repeater languishes at the club house awaiting transfer to a six-foot rack, and the addition of a voter and remote receiver. Once this is done, it can be returned to service. This is a task that I had hoped to accomplish by mid-January 1996, however, other responsibilities have intruded, requiring an additional delay.

There have been a number of milestones passed for the City of Socorro in the last few years, not the least of which relates to the installation of Socorro's second repeater. In early November, a crew installed the WB5QZD repeater on Socorro Peak opening 70 centimeters for use. The location for this machine makes it ideal for use from town using low power.

January Program

Paul Harden, NA5N, will speak on some of the nifty pieces of QRP gear he has designed. Paul has been asked to be one of the keynote speakers at the Dayton Hamvention, so we are privileged to get a sneak preview. Guaranteed to be entertaining and informative!

President's Corner

Monte Bateman, WB5RZX

A Christmas Dinner...

What a wonderful Christmas dinner we had! The new location of K-Bob's Steakhouse worked out very well. Nearly forty members and spouses showed up to enjoy good food and good company. Thanks to Jon Spargo, KC5NTW, for organizing our event.

In Recognition of our Appreciation

At the Christmas dinner we recognized three of our members for their service to SARA:
Thanks to these individuals for their time, their talents, and their hard work. We have accomplished many great things because of our willing and dedicated members.

Upgrade Classes

It's time to think about classes for 1996. We have held classes for newcomers the past three years. It's now time to have an upgrade class. We need to survey our membership and find out what class is needed. I suspect it is a 5wpm and 13wpm Morse code class. Come to the meeting and voice your opinion!

A Look Back

Some of you may know that I like to collect old (ancient?) ham magazines. During our Christmas trip back to Oklahoma, I picked up some early `70s editions of Ham Radio magazine. As I looked through at the ads, the prices struck me as being very high. For example, in 1972 Drake advertised their R-4 HF receiver and T-4 HF transmitter for $499 each. A thousand dollars for an HF station! In 1996 dollars, that's about $3000. Think about how much more radio we can buy today for less than half that amount. Digital control, memories, split VFOs, sophisticated filters, lots of new modes, and many more than those original five bands!

So the next time you feel like complaining about the cost of new HF gear, don't think of them as high-priced --- think of them as half-priced!


Gatherings, gatherings

News from Newsline

Form 610-V

A form many amateur radio operators have been anxiously awaiting, Form 610-V, the application for Vanity callsigns, is now available. In response to requests by radio amateurs, the ARRL has mailed 9,000 copies of the form. If you requested one from the League and haven't received it yet, call 860/594-0300. There is one catch, however. Once you obtain a copy, you still can't turn it in, because the FCC is not yet accepting 610-Vs for filing. The Commission is expected to announce opening dates for the first vanity callsign filing gate in early 1996. You can obtain FCC Form 610-V, along with FCC vanity callsign information fact sheet PR-9000 number 206V by writing to the ARRL. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. You can also obtain Form 610-V from the Internet at The Commission's Forms Distribution center will accept orders in about a month; you can call the center at 800/418-3676.

FCC Book on the Internet

The FCC Interference Handbook is now available on the Internet. The 22-page booklet, available from the Compliance and Information Bureau via the FCC World Wide Web home page (, includes the same information and illustrations contained in the recently published Interference to Home Electronic Entertainment Equipment Handbook. It includes information about equipment installation, identifying interference sources, curing interference problems, and filters. You'll also find a list of home electronic equipment manufacturers and telephone numbers. Pictures illustrate different TV interference problems, including ham or CB transmitter interference.

Radio Amateur's World Atlas

The ARRL has announced the availability of The Radio Amateur's World Atlas. Published in english by the German Amateur Radio Organization, this booklet is now being distributed in the United States by the ARRL as a complement to the recently revised ARRL World Map and Map of the US.

The World Atlas includes separate, easy-to-read color plates of North America, Central America/West Indies, South America, Asia, Indian Ocean, Japan, Australia/Pacific Ocean, Europe, Africa and Antarctica. Each map shows country boundaries with prefixes, along with CQ zones, states or provinces, major cities, rivers and mountain ranges. The 8 x 11 inch booklet also includes an index with both ITU allocated prefixes and national prefixes for each nation of the world.

SAREX 1995 Wrap Up

Space history was made in 1995, for this was the year when the United States and the Russian space programs stopped racing one another and began working together toward a common goal. It was an equally historic year for SAREX, the Shuttle Amateur Radio EXperiment. When astronauts in a space shuttle flew up to the Russian MIR Space Station, docked and exchanged visits with the cosmonauts, they took ham radio along to share the experience.

The first SAREX mission of the year was in March, and it was the longest shuttle mission in history. Six of the seven crew members were licensed amateurs and they stayed in orbit for 18 days, talking to students in a record breaking 26 schools.

In June, STS-71 was the first Shuttle-MIR docking with SAREX aboard. Charlie Precourt, KB5YSQ, piloted the Atlantis during the rendezvous and docking. He and Ellen Baker, KB5SIX, used both SAREX and MIR hardware for their 2 meter contacts, using a 10 watt wide band radio designed for use by NASA to communicate with MIR.

A few days after 71 landed, STS-70 took off from Cape Canaveral, and provided contacts with eight schools, talking to 291 students and making 400 voice and almost 800 packet contacts with the general ham community.

Finally, in November, STS-74 went up, with an all ham crew, headed by commander Ken Cameron, KB5AWP, flying his third SAREX mission. They also rendezvoused and docked with the Russians, while sharing the incredible experience via amateur radio. They made more than 100 general voice contacts a day and talked to five schools with an estimated 2,300 students participating!

There are at least five SAREX missions scheduled for 1996, beginning in March. These include two docking missions during which American astronauts will be left aboard the MIR. Shannon Lucid, who is waiting for her license, and Jerry Linenger, KC5HBR, both plan to contact U.S. schools while they are aboard the space station.

More than coincidentally, all of this action with the Russians is leading to an International Space Station in orbit, with first hardware going up in 1997 and a finished configuration by 2002. The SAREX Working Group is at work with NASA, designing and developing what they hope will be a permanent manned ham radio station in orbit, complete with voice, packet, video and all sorts of experiments. The four SAREX missions in 1995 brings the total to 19 in all since the first one in 1983. Yes, 1995 was a very good year for SAREX.

News from ARNS

Brazing Rod: Cheap but useful stuff

by Howard Lewis, KB6VGF

Don't overlook bronze brazing rod; it has many uses in and above the ham shack. Brazing rod comes in 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, and 1/4-inch diameters --- and in 3-foot lengths. Knowing they will come in handy, I keep a small stock on hand, in a variety of sizes.

Bronze is nearly impervious to damage by water; it stands up well to weather and even submersion. In many ways, it beats steel or aluminum for a range of antenna uses. Remember: Rust never sleeps. Avoid unprotected contact between dissimilar metals, such as bronze and aluminum, to prevent electrolytic corrosion.

You can bend brazing rod, and you can cross-drill it. It also solders easily. You can even thread certain sizes directly. Use 1/8-inch rod for 5-40 threads, and 5/32 rod for 8-32. For 10-24 or 10-32 threads, use 3/16-inch rod. And you can thread 1/4-inch rod for any 1/4-inch thread (1/4-20, 1/4-24, or 1/4-28). Just clamp the rod in a vise and use a button die in a die stock.

Brazing rod is available at hardware and auto parts stores, and it's cheap---stock up! You'll be glad you did.

---from the ARC of El Cajon, CA "Counterpoise" --- Dave Manescu, W6CCM, Editor.


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @