Socorro Amateur Radio Association


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

The April Meeting

... was held on April 10th with 19 members in attendance.

Repeater

Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

The KC5OLJ repeater has completed a little more than a month in service at this point. The `dumb' DTMF decoder that I alluded to in the last letter became `smarter' when the audio level to the controller was lowered. You may still expect to have difficulty if your signal into the receiver is marginal.

There are a couple of differences related to autopatch operation that are worth noting. This controller uses a "store and forward" approach that differs from autopatch access using the old controller. This controller receives, decodes and stores all of the DTMF tones that you transmit. When you cease transmitting a DTMF string, the controller will then redial the stored string. If you are using the autopatch, you should not pause for a dial tone. Key the autopatch access code and the seven digit phone number before you release the transmitter PTT. This system is ideal for those of you who have "speed dial" capabilities on your handy talkies. Autopatch users should now be able to access 835-5xxx, -6xxx and -7xxx phone numbers. Tech's ISD was kind enough to reconfigure their PBX software so that the embargo on these calls is lifted for our line. New Mexico Tech has been very generous with its support of the association for many years, particularly because of our strong commitment to public service.

In the past month there have been several excursions to the repeater site to attempt improvements in the quality of the received audio. Progress is incremental and there are still problems. During one visit, I discovered a strong signal that lapped over onto the input frequency (146.080 MHz) for our repeater. The signal was present only inside the bay, and disappeared altogether when power to the repeater was cut. It turned out that our controller was the source. A call to MCC established that the signal was likely a product of the controller clock. MCC shipped a different crystal which Monte (WB5RXZ) replaced on a trip up the hill Friday (4/26) afternoon. The signal is still generated, but now well away from our input frequency. We had every reason to believe that the static problems would be a thing of the past. Initial audio reports were quite encouraging, however, during the few instances where the repeater was in use on Sunday (a very windy day), static levels were again very high. I'm open to suggestions.

I plan to bring the pieces of the (Phase II) remote receiver/transmitter system to the May meeting. If you would like to take home a "piece of this project" you are welcome to do so. Participants become eligible for our grand prize: An all expense paid, guided tour of the Socorro Amateur Radio Association repeater site on West Peak. You may already be a winner.

Highway Cleanup

On Saturday, April 20, an even dozen willing volunteers came to help pick up trash. The outing was once again coordinated by Gayle, KC5HGJ. The rest of the crew included: Bill, K8HUH; Tom, KA0YYP; Dave, KB5YIW; Kalman, AJ5B; Howard, K9PV; Clarence, AA5RH; Art, KF5HQ; Doug, KC5RXI; Jon, KC5NTW; Doug, AB5WT; and Monte, WB5RZX. Thanks to all of you for your help.


President's Corner

New officers

We have another excellent slate of officers for the coming year, thanks to the nominating committee. Those who have agreed to serve SARA for the next year are:

President: Howard Peavey, K9PV
Vice-President: Dave Johnson, KB5YIW
Secretary: Gayle Rhodes, KC5HGJ
Treasurer: Chuck Broadwell, W5UXH

Thanks to these folks for agreeing to spend some of their precious free time helping SARA to continue to be the great organization it has become.

Thanks ...

As you may have noticed, the officers for next year are all the same as this past year, except for me. I encourage every SARA member to tell these folks "thank you" for their help and service --- and willingness to go for another year. It takes lots of effort to keep a club running smoothly, and I very much appreciate the help of my fellow officers. Thanks! And to everyone in SARA, thanks for making my year as president so fulfilling. We accomplished many great things this year, and had a lot of fun doing it. I will be continuing as newsletter editor, for a few months at least. Later in the summer, Dave Johnson will be taking over this job. It's time for me to "pass the torch." I've certainly enjoyed helping where I could, but I also am a firm believer that "volunteer organizations eat their young."

Thanks --- it was fun.

Monte Bateman, WB5RZX


Nets

Gatherings, gatherings


Upcoming events


QRP ... To the Field!

Paul Harden, NA5N

In spite of all our problems and the weather (brutal winds), we had a blast at Riley. (Blast: blowing sand moving horizontally at 60 knots). Started packing the 4x4 Friday morning and promptly blew the water pump while getting gas. Begged to use my son's 4x4 (who arrived Thursday for a week's leave from the sub service). He said OK. About 7pm, met with Tom KB5QYT from Albuquerque ... we were the "advance guard" into Riley. A few miles out of town, got stopped by a NM State Patrol for speeding. Real embarassing when you have fellow hams following you and the entire repeater association listening! We finally arrived Riley about 10pm. By 11pm, Tom and I had erected two tents and a travel trailer.
Bonus Points:
500 x3 (Erecting tents/trailers in the dark)

Then we sat and sat and sat, staring at a Coleman lantern, waiting for Jay Miller, WA5WHN, to arrive with our distinguished guests. You know how quiet and dark a ghost town is at midnite? Jay finally arrived about 2:15am with his son Jason KB5OME, Doug Hendricks, KI6DS, and Chuck Adams, K5FO. Really fun meeting famous people in the pitch dark.

Bonus Points:
250 x3 (Meeting famous hams by flashlight).

No sooner had Jay parked his brand new 4x4 (Ford Explorer?) than you could hear air leaking from not one, but two tires. Within a couple of minutes, Jay's vehicle was listing to port pretty bad. We finally crashed at some weird hour.

Morning came awfully fast. We all got up. So that's what Doug and Chuck look like --- a lot different in bright sunlight than in the beam of a flashlight! Somehow, probably just trying to navigate in the dark, Doug squashed and broke his glasses in the tent. We jacked up the port side of Jay's 4x4 and threw two flat tires in the back of my son's pickup, and Doug and I took off for the small town of Magdalena some 30 miles away. Got two tires fixed, had a "Magdalena Omlet" at the only restaurant open, then took off for the 25 mile drive to the Very Large Array. Inside the labs, Doug and I performed meticulous surgery on his pair of glasses. With a little super glue, #30 wirewrap wire, solder, etc. --- I mean Dr. Pearle would be proud of us. Doug put on his glasses, and seems his first words were "Where the hell are we?" Gave Doug the nickel tour of the VLA (plus a few choice surplus parts for a 40-9er/Altoid project).

Bonus Points:
500 x2 (flat tire repair)
500 (emergency optometric repair)

Half an hour later, back in Magdalena and stopped at the only grocery store in town for some steaks. I was at the meat counter with an arm full of steaks, eggs, etc. when Doug rushes in and says "Quick ... AB7PF, the aeronautical mobile is over Riley and wants to work you." So I dropped all my groceries in the meat counter, ran outside the store, grabbed my handheld and worked Steve, AB7PF/AM. Was the highlight of my day. Went back into the store and tried explaining to the poor ole meat counter guy what the emergency was. I don't think he was as impressed as was I.

Finally about noon, got back to Riley with fixed tires, glasses and food. Tim Pettibone, AB5OU, set up his station at an old abandoned house, a 20ft. mast and a long zepp with his QRP+, doing fairly well. The other station was KB5QYT's travel trailer, IC-706 and vertical, somehow managed to place on a tin roof for ground plane --- and worked well. About this time, the wind started and within no time, it was so strong that I could not get up either of the two antennas I brought (inverted vee/30 foot mast and my 2-element phased array). We time-shared using Tom's station, with myself, KI6DS, K5FO, WA5WHN, etc. working a dozen here, dozen there. Did I mention it was windy?

Bonus Points:
500 (Gale force winds)

And to the N8ET gang ... we too flew a kite antenna for awhile, but the strong wind broke the kite in two and down it came. Didn't have a single QSO on it. Did I mention it was really windy?

Bonus Points:
250 (Busticated kite, crashed and burned)

About 3:30pm, Tom had to close up his station as he is a conductor for the Santa Fe Railroad and had to get back to Albuquerque to work. We got his vertical down, now blowing wildly in the wind, and got his travel trailer packed up and off he went. There went our station, antennas and wind shield. That left only AB5OU with a working station. So we sat around in the wind, Doug showing off his Altoids 40, Chuck his neat paddles, etc. Kinda an informal NorCal meeting. Even decided on next year's QRP TTF theme! By 5pm, the wind and sand continued to pelt us, no way to erect another antenna, our tents blown down by the wind, etc. We held a "Council of War" and decided to cook our steaks, then pack up and get out of Dodge (er, Riley, actually). Did I mention it was windy? We were planning on a nice camp fire Saturday nite and spending the night, but not when you can't even keep a tent on the ground.

Bonus Points:
500 (Eating WA5WHN's cooking)

Although, K8BI's and N5ZGT's cooking was pretty good. K5QQ from ABQ was also at Riley for awhile, delivering some ice and food, and Howard K9PV showed up for awhile (he had set up a tent and station on the Rio Grande, but got blown away also). I've probably forgotten a ham or two that was there. Shortly before sundown, Riley was once again a ghost town and we were all on our ways home.

We probably have 200 QSOs or so, sum total (thanks mostly to AB5OU), but the fun factor was tremendous. In spite of the wind, it was one of the best times I've had in a long time. Can't wait for the NEQRP QRP Afield in September. Will do Field Day to warmup for the QRP Afield.

I've never met Doug, KI6DS, or Chuck, K5FO, before, and that of course was a pleasure for us all. Upon meeting them, you can see why NorCal, QRPp, QRP-L, the FOX hunts, etc. are such successess ... they are the results of hard work by a couple of hams who are smart, love the hobby, and are very energetic to promote QRP.

CU for the next one,
Paul, NA5N


News from ARNS

Amateur Radio in the 21st century

by Ron Levy, K2AIO

No matter how I try to envision our hobby in the 21st century, I see dramatic change; I see it becoming increasingly difficult to attract newcomers.

As a technology, radio has become archaic. Commercial radio stations have begun "broadcasting" on the Internet---eliminating interference, antennas, and even the radio receiver. You can hear CBS "Newsradio-88" on the Internet, provided you have a multimedia computer. It seems just a matter of time before all the world's broadcast stations will be online---all perfectly readable, independent of radio propagation conditions.

Our computers can access an inconceivable amount of information from all over the world. Special interest groups have "home pages" on the World Wide Web. Our government provides documents, forms, and more. Universities and libraries exchange ideas and research findings---facts and figures on nearly any topic you can imagine.

Physicians are going online. A diabetic can send in blood-sugar test results. The physician adjusts the dose, if necessary and notifies the patient of the change---all without an office visit.

You can ragchew via the Internet; thousands chat in real time. The Internet transmits their words, and now their voices almost instantly.

Given all that, how can we justify Amateur Radio? How can we stimulate non-Amateurs, when all we offer is outdated communications technology? Why would anyone become a ham, knowing they would have to spend big bucks on a rig and antenna system, when they can communicate more easily with nothing but a computer and modem?

Computer communicators don't need to learn about electronics. They don't need to take an examination and be licensed. They don't need to learn the Morse code. They don't need to worry about the sunspot cycle. And they won't have to endure complaints about TV interference.

Ham radio has given us a great deal of pleasure. It was fun building our own gear and seeing it work. It thrilled us to work a station in an obscure, faraway country, to work QRP, to communicate on the UHF frequencies, or via slow-scan television, fast-scan TV, RTTY, satellites, or moon-bounce. All this and much more fascinated Radio Amateurs for 80 years.

We even had our own forms of digital communications---from RTTY to packet radio, with its bulletin boards, mail boxes, DX clusters, and direct communication using computers and keyboards.

But now, powerful desktop computers are available at a cost nearly anyone can afford. And geniuses among us have developed programs and techniques that let those computers communicate. For less than the cost of a Yaesu FT-1000D, today's personal computer includes everything necessary to communicate, and to do many other things as well.

At best, Amateur Radio will find itself integrated into the computer world; at worst, it will cease to exist. What can we do to ensure our hobby's survival into the 21st century? I don't know. But I think the problem warrants a lot of serious thought. We need a workable plan, and we had better implement it soon.

---from the North Jersey DX Assn. "NJDXA Newsletter"
---Bob Greenquist, N2GHV, Editor.


News from ARRL

FCC: Interference often starts at the factory

The FCC says it cannot resolve most of the thousands of complaints of interference to TVs, radios, stereos and televisions "because the cause of this interference is the design or construction of these products and not a violation of any FCC rule." The FCC points out that basic consumer information concerning interference solutions now is available on the Internet through the FCC Compliance and Information Bureau's home page, at http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Compliance/WWW. The list also is available through the Commission's Fax on Demand service at 202-418-2830. Request document 6904.

The basic information includes the CIB Interference Handbook and the CIB Telephone Interference Bulletin, among others. The Telephone Interference Bulletin states: "Interference occurs when your telephone instrument fails to `block out' a nearby radio communication. Potential interference problems begin when the telephone is built at the factory." The Interference Handbook includes a list of equipment manufacturers who provide specific assistance with interference problems. "Involving dealers and manufacturers in the resolution process should give them knowledge of the problems and provide both the opportunity and incentive to protect their products through customer service," the FCC said in a recent Public Notice.

The Commission emphasized, however, that its Compliance and Information Bureau "will continue to take appropriate enforcement action where it has been determined that the interference is caused by violations of the Communications Act or the Commission's rules or policies." ---FCC

US Ham on Mir

Astronaut Shannon Lucid is now a member of the Mir crew for the next four months. The Russians have approved her use of the Mir radio on 2 meters, with the call sign R0MIR. Look for her on 145.55 MHz, FM simplex. Dave Larsen, N6JLH, is now the US QSL manager only for current R0MIR and R0MIR-1 contacts. QSLs must include date, time, and mode. N6JLH will not handle SWL reports. For contacts with the Mir packet radio personal message system, include the message number issued by the PMS on the QSL card. QSLs must be sent along with a business-sized sase. A "green stamp" to cover postage also would be appreciated. QSLs should be sent to: N6JLH, PO Box 1501, Pine Grove, CA 95665. QSLs for previous Mir contacts may be sent to: RV3DR, Chief of Cosmonaut Amateur Radio Department, NPO Energia, PO 141070, Box 73, Kaliningrad, 10 City, Moscow Area, Russia.

---AMSAT SAREX bulletin & Space News


73!

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