Although access to the mountain is a little uncertain this time of year, I plan to return the repeater to service soon after SARA's February meeting. This will afford us an opportunity, at the meeting, to review the features available on this controller, as well as to permit sign ups for autodial numbers. For those of you who are not familiar with the MCC controller, it stores 90+ phone numbers, each of which can be accessed with an autodial prefix followed by a unique two digit number that causes the controller to dial the phone number stored in that slot. It is the club's policy to make one autodial number available to each member. Additional slots may be issued on a temporary basis, if slots are available. If you would like to have one of these numbers assigned, come to the meeting or give me a call at home (835-1432) or work (835-5771). One reminder for those of you who do not attend February's meeting and who will use the autopatch on the new controller. You need not use the "9" prefix. This controller dials that for each outgoing call. And the direct "911" access will again be available. How will you know when this all transpires? The key is in the courtesy "beep." If it goes from piercing to pleasant, it's the new controller. The ID will also change to the club's call (KC5OLJ) and will be delivered via morse code.
The eight week class starts on Tuesday, February 6, at 7 PM, at the SARA clubhouse. Class sessions will cover both Morse Code and the General-class theory exam. The class is free; the only cost will be for a license manual for the General exam. These books will be ordered after the first class session.
Heavy emphasis will be placed on building Morse Code proficiency to pass the 13 word-per-minute examination. We will be using the computer-based "Koch method" that Dave Finley, N1IRZ, has outlined in his "Morse for Morse-Haters" lectures the past couple of years. Don't have a computer? Don't worry --- we'll have a machine available to all class members in the clubhouse. You'll be able to check out a clubhouse key, just like you do for the club HF station, and come to use the computer at your convenience.
Dave will be leading the Morse training, and will cover the method in a lecture at the first class session. If you plan to attend, it's important to attend this first session, even if you've heard Dave's talk already. He'll cover material that is both different and in more depth than his earlier lectures, and then we'll go through a "hands-on" session on setting up the software for your personal practices.
At each subsequent class meeting, there will be a "coaching" and troubleshooting session on the code training.
Material on the General written exam also will be covered in subsequent class sessions. We'll cover some of the operational/procedural material by getting on the air with the club HF station.
Across the nation, code-free Techs are dramatically boosting the numbers of upgraders to the "top three" license classes. In the five years before the code-free license was instituted, nearly 18,000 people moved up to General, Advanced or Extra. In the five years after the new license came about, that number jumped to nearly 46,000. Let's add to those upgrade figures here in Socorro. You can do it!
Every time I would key-down on my paddle to transmit, the dial lights on the rig would dim. But only when the power output was 40 watts or greater; below 40 watts the rig behaved just fine. Wanting more power, I decided to investigate the problem. After many hours of signal tracing, voltage tracing, checking individual components, and studying the schematics but not finding anything wrong, I concluded that it had to be a cold solder joint. Since I had already localized the problem to two circuit areas (the speech proccessor board and final amplifer board), I took the boards out of the rig and heated every joint until I was satisified that they were good connections. I put the boards back on the radio and hooked up the power and antenna. I then tried transmitting at 60 watts. The dial lights dimmed just a little, which was an improvement, but still not the way it should be. I then decided to check the grounding. Inside the shack, all connections were good, clean and tight, but outside, the connector to the grounding rod had become corroded. Why this corrision happens is a mystery to me. The connection is about 2" above the earth ground and there is not generally that much moisture in Socorro air. The ground rod is 1/2" x 6' copper and the gounding wire is also copper, but the connector is made of brass. Maybe the dissimilar metals cause corrosion to happen and create a tiny insulation between the two metals. I took the connector off and cleaned it until it was shining like a jewel and then reinstalled it. The rig now cranks up to 150 watts without dimming the dial lights. The manual says it will put out 160, but what the heck, 150 watts is good enough.
You may be wondering why target the speech proccessor board when the problem was with CW? Well, in the Kenwood TS130SE, part of the carrier control circuit is embedded on the speech proccessor board. The carrier control adjustment allows more voltage to pass on to the finals for more power.
The moral of this story is that sometimes common sense just works better when trouble shooting. Before pulling out the oscilloscope, frequency counter, multimeter and whatever else you might have, check first for loose connections, loose screws or nuts, and corrosion. Look for the obvious; if it looks wrong or feels wrong, then it has to be corrected. We are lucky here in the Southwest that we do not have long periods of high ambient humidity. But, we still must remember that in the good old summer time, we have our swamp coolers flooding our homes not only with cooler air, but cooler air with moisture. For outside-the-home electrical connections, there is not much one can do, except to periodically make an inspection of all your connections. Hope this sparks some thought on your next repair.
73 de Felix, WB5LXA
While it was open January 11, the FCC accepted electronic amateur license application files for processing from VECs. The Commission says that it will try to expedite the application backlog, but some temporary software adjustments were needed before licenses are granted. As a result, it could be another week for the FCC to get back up to speed. New and upgraded license information is available from ARRL by calling 860-594-0300. Applicants also can check the University of Arkansas at Little Rock FCC database at http://www.ualr.edu/doc/hamualr/callsign.html.
The earliest word on call sign assignments and upgrades was not expected until Wednesday, January 17th and there is no word when filing for vanity call signs might begin. As previously reported, the FCC has several pending petitions for reconsideration that it must tackle before it accepts applications for vanity calls. Several of those who filed the petitions have indicated that they will take the matter to the federal courts if their requests are denied. If this happens, the vanity call sign program could remain on ice for several more years.
The league notes that a survey of subscribers in early 1995 indicated an interest in electronic delivery because information delivered that way will be more timely.
Current subscribers to the printed version of the ARRL Letter will have their subscriptions extended so that they will receive the same number of copies as they would have under the twice monthly mailing. The league is also cutting the annual subscription rate for new mail out subscriptions as well.
The only question left is whether or not W5YI will follow the ARRL and Newsline to the Internet. We posed that question to Fred Maia. He says that he has no plans of going to electronic delivery at this time. Maia is planning to start his own home page on the World Wide Web but he says he is into the printed page to stay.
Reiter reports all four fuses in the two connected transceivers have blown and only two spare fuses remain. Last month, Reiter used the digital voice recorder, built by Thomas Kieselbach, DL2MDE, to broadcast holiday messages. The primary transmitting frequency is 145.800 MHz.
Recently, the cosmonauts on MIR unpacked new Amateur Radio equipment delivered by rocket, including a 70-cm FM transceiver and 9600-baud packet gear.
Reiter was philosophical. "Well, at least we can be reached and still can talk with the world," he said in a message to Dave Larsen, N6JLH.