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.
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 --- it was fun.
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.
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).
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?
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?
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.
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,
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.
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
---AMSAT SAREX bulletin & Space News