Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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

The March Meeting

... was held on March 13th with 22 members in attendance.


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

Well, it is up and running --- after a fashion. The "new" Mastr II repeater was returned to Socorro Peak on Saturday (3/30) afternoon by a party that included Monte (WB5RZX), Jon (KC5NTW) and me. The removal of the old machine and installation of the new one took a little more than two hours, a period followed by another hour of testing and tinkering. As it turns out, I might have tinkered a little more. As this is written, the controller is a little slow at decoding DTMF tones. It will do so, even from great distances, but the controller may require long tones (hold each key down for a bit) to do so. The rapid autodial feature in your high tech handheld may be too fast for the decoder. The fix almost certainly involves lowering the audio level to the controller, a task that I hope to accomplish on Friday (4/5).

All of the features, codes and autodial assignments are as they were when the repeater was brought down late last year. Your old reference card still applies. I will undertake a program of eliminating autodial assignments held by lapsed members, but not until after the repeater is functioning satisfactorily. These freed slots will be made available to current members.

A great deal has been accomplished with this repeater in the last month or so and there is a great deal of recognition to pass around. If I miss you, I apologize and will make amends in the next newsletter. Felix (WB5LXA) spent hours adapting the repeater to the new six-foot rack provided by Langmuir Lab. Jon (KC5NTW) and Dora played host to the repeater in their garage during a couple weeks of intensive testing and modification. This period involved several invasions on weekends and weeknights by various of us who were intent on exploiting Jon's free time. Monte, Tom (KA0YYP), Jim (WB5GWH), and Howard (K9PV) were notable among those who offered a helping hand, advice and moral support. Dave (KC5MTG) provided structural integrity (braces) for both the cavities and the rack. Bob (WB5QZD) visited on a couple occasions to provide the instrumentation and expertise to maximize repeater parameters.

At various points in the testing process Paul (NA5N), Jim (AB5UO), Jim (KC5FAS), Tom (N5PLX), Clarence (AA5RH), and Ken (KC5HGG) contributed everything from audio reports to weather reports. Radio Shack [Sandy (KB5YIX) and Al (AC5BX)] provided those last minute parts at a discount.

Even if it is not yet working as well as it might, every SARA member may take pride in this facility. And for any of you who imagine that progress on a project like this is linear, I invite you to join our next project. It is coming soon to a garage near you.

Highway Cleanup

We will assemble on April 20 at 8:00 at the Chamber of Commerce. Gayle, KC5HGJ, will get the trashbags for us. In the past, this job has taken about two hours to complete. Please come and help if you can.

Officer Elections

Our constitution says that elections are to be held in May. In preparation, we will appoint a nominating committee at the April meeting. This committee will seek out qualified and willing individuals to serve SARA for the next year. If you would like to be on the nominating committee, volunteers are being solicited.


Last month, George MacLeod, WB5TGR, gave us a great slide show about his and Holly's bicycle trip around the state of New Mexico. What a great show it was --- thanks George!

This month, as announced last time, I will give my program about the ARRL incoming QSL bureau. Come and hear how tons of DX QSL cards get sorted, re-sorted, and mailed. It will give you an appreciation for all the hard work those volunteers do each month.

President's Corner

Monte Bateman, WB5RZX

It Lives!

As you have read in Dave's column, the "new" repeater is once again atop M-mountain. Thanks to everyone who put in so many hours to make it happen. Once again, we have a repeater we can be proud of.

Disaster Drill

The Socorro County Emergency Coordinator, "Tiny" Anaya, is making plans for a disaster drill. We will have a simulated, magnitude 6.0+ earthquake, sometime between mid-July and the end of July. I attended the first planning meeting; there will be at least one meeting a month until July. An exact date will be chosen at the next meeting. I told Mr. Anaya that SARA is willing to participate in any way that we are needed. These drills are extremely important in the event of a real emergency.

SARA does a good job at maintaining preparedness, with our weekly net and annual Field Day exercises. We may be called on to do things we have never done before, so be ready to assemble "disaster packs" of supplies and equipment. We may want to form a committee to "brain-storm" about what we should do to prepare and the ways in which we can help. Paul, N5YGC, ARES Coordinator, may have some good ideas and general guidance. Above all, "Be Prepared!"

One of our own makes the big time...

Again, we have a piece of news from Jay Miller, WA5WHN, of Albuquerque. He reports that our own Paul Harden, NA5N, will be on "Ham Radio & More," hosted by Len Winkler, KB7LPW. Paul will be on for about 6 minutes live on Sunday, April 21 on WWCR (7.435 MHz AM) @ 4 PM MDT (time may change). Thought the crew in Socorro would like to know. Paul, talking about QRP on a 100 kW Shortwave Station. I always wanted to say "CQ DX" on WWCR. :)

For info about Len's show, check the WWW at the following URL:


Gatherings, gatherings

News from Newsline

Auction Threat to Ham Bands

What are the possibilities of losing our amateur bands? It may be greater than you think. The Congressional Budget Office in Washington, D.C. has started to evaluate the amateur radio spectrum as well as other services for its potential auction value. It is thought that this action has been brought on as a way to lower the Federal budget deficit. In the past, the FCC has auctioned off segments of the RF spectrum as a way to settle disagreement between two or more entities wanting the same section of a particular band.

The ARRL has supplied documentation to the CBO highlighting the positive aspects of amateur radio in such areas as emergency communications and other contributions to society in attempt to insure the amateur bands will continue to be excluded from any further action. Amateurs should make sure that their congressmen and senators are aware of the full extent that amateur radio plays in their districts.

By the way --- the ARRL is the only organization representing Amateur Radio that is taking an active part in these hearings. Other groups claiming to be a voice for US hams have not even bothered to show up in Washington to make their voices heard.

More Vanity Callsign Delay

If you are wondering why the vanity call sign program is still on hold, look to some of your fellow hams for the answer. Several are still petitioning the FCC for last minute changes in the program. Those petitions, coupled with a mandate from congress to implement the Telecommunications Rewrite Act have put vanity calls on hold at least until mid year.

Still awaiting FCC action are Petitions for Reconsideration filed last fall by Charnelle H. Summers, W4IJE; David B. Popkin, W2CC; Robert Nelson, on behalf of the Hill Country Amateur Radio Club; and Christine M. Gill, on behalf of the Southern California Repeater and Remote Base Association. It appears as if the FCC will not even begin to look at any of these petitions until early this summer. How long after that it will take to dispose of them is not known. And there is always the possibility that more petitions for reconsideration could arrive. By law, each must be addressed.

Even worse, some of the current crop of petitioners might take their cause further if the commission does not give them a decision favorable to a given position. This means appeals before the full commission and maybe even taking the matter into federal court, if they have the money and the desire to do so. Meantime, the FCC vanity callsign application Form 610V is now available, but the FCC will not accept completed forms until the appropriate filing gates are opened.

News from ARRL Letter

Scouts put a new Twist on Tower Construction

During these weeks when thoughts turn to Field Day planning, you might consider inviting some Boy Scouts along to help with the antenna. On February 10 at special event station K2BSA/6 at Camp Pendleton Marine Base, scouts from Troop 319 of Huntington Beach, California, designed and built a 35-foot HF tower lashed together from wooden poles. Assistant Scoutmaster Mel Goldberg, KO6TF, said the scouts built the tower on its side, then 40 scouts pulled it erect using ropes. Then three scouts (what else?) served to rotate the structure as needed. The operation drew media attention, including a mention in the Los Angeles Times and three regional papers. Kenwood provided HF gear for the event, and, Goldberg reports, 1400 scouts stopped by to visit.

The K2BSA/6 operation snagged 35 states and three countries in its eight hours on the air. One QSO was with an 84-year-old ham who had been an Eagle Scout in his younger days but was now partially blind and wheelchair-bound. A QSL certificate is available that shows the completed tower and all of the scouts on and around it. Pictures of the tower and the operation are on the ScoutRadio site at on the World Wide Web. Goldberg cites a "conservative estimate" that 250,000 Amateur Radio operators are or have been in scouting. He said Troop 319 will operate as K2BSA/6 during the 1996 Jamboree on the Air, October 18--20.

Dayton Hamvention 1996 Award Winners

William A. Tynan, W3XO, has been named Hamvention 1996 Amateur of the Year by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association. Tynan, who now serves as president of AMSAT-NA, long has championed the cause of VHF/UHF enthusiasts worldwide. For 18 years, he was editor of QST's "The World above 50 MHz" column, where he helped nurture new communication techniques, encourage DX performance and improve contesting rules on the VHF/UHF bands. He also pioneered the establishment of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). From the launch of OSCAR-6 to the present, Tynan has sacrificed much of his personal time, talent and resources to the promotion and development of the amateur satellite program. His vision continues with the advent of the Phase 3-D project, set for launch in December.

John Kraus, W8JK, is this year's Hamvention Special Achievement award winner. Kraus' contributions to advancements in antenna design continue to be enjoyed today by many Amateur Radio operators. Over the years, Kraus invented several antennas, but he's perhaps best known for the W8JK beam. Other Kraus designs include the helical antenna and his most-recognizable "Big Ear" antenna. In fact, with the building of the "Big Ear" antenna came the "Wow" signal, an apparently extraterrestrial signal that remains to be explained. During his tenure as a professor at Ohio State University, Kraus also authored many articles and textbooks.

William I. Orr, W6SAI, has been named the Hamvention's Technical Excellence award winner. Orr has inspired new and veteran amateurs alike with his consistent encouragement and technical expertise. Among his publications that have become ham-shack standards are: The Radio Handbook, The Beam Antenna Handbook, The Quad Antenna Handbook, and The UHF-VHF Manual. An EIMAC engineer, Orr has gone beyond the call of duty by personally answering technical questions and supplying schematics to curious Amateur Radio builders. Orr writes the "Radio Fundamentals" in CQ magazine. After he announced his retirement last year, hundreds of letters prompted him to reconsider.

Field Day Dates

Just so there's no confusion over the dates for ARRL Field Day this year: the competition is always the fourth full weekend in June, which means it's June 22--23 this time around, and thus will not conflict with Father's Day, which is Sunday, June 16.

Antique Wireless

The Antique Wireless Association is on the WWW at The AWA home page features a picture of the building housing both their Radio Communication Museum and the Bloomfield, New York, Historical Society. Bruce Kelley, W2ICE, is the AWA museum's curator. The museum is devoted to research, preservation and documentation of the history of wireless communication. A wide range of historical communication equipment is on display, much of it still in working order.
---James R. Frederick, K2GBR


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman @