Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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

The June Meeting

... was held on June 12th with 20 members in attendance.


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW

There have been several concerns expressed regarding the "anti-kerchunk" filter (AKF) that has been in use on the SARA repeater for the last month or so. I'd like to use a little of this space to explain what the filter is, how it works and why we have enabled it.

All of us who use repeaters have, at one time or another, "kerchunked" a repeater. The practice involves keying up your transmitter momentarily, then listening for the response from the repeater. While "kerchunking" is not illegal (as long as you identify within 10 minutes), it is generally regarded as poor form, particularly in densely populated areas. The makers of various controllers have included "anti-kerchunk" filters so that control operators can limit the problem in areas where use (and kerchunking) is high.

Perhaps you've noticed that the initial syllable is clipped from the received signal when using the battery save function on your handheld. The AKF on the SARA repeater works in much the same way. When no signal has been received for a time, the controller will "doze off" and not retransmit a received signal until the filter is "saturated." Awakening the controller takes only a moment (1--2 seconds of received signal) and thereafter, as long as the QSO continues, there is no delay in retransmission of received signals.

In mid-May, our repeater experienced entended periods of cycling induced by either intermod or a distant signal source. At midday the controller would cycle for an hour or more, and on at least two occasions, it timed out completely. Enabling the AKF dramatically improved the problem of cycling and I made the decision to leave it on. A problem is that this coincided with my departure from Socorro, so the word was not passed to members as it should have been. For this I apologize.

While I am aware that having the filter enabled represents something of an inconvenience for users, we all want our repeater to bring credit to the Association. There are, of course, other possible solutions to the problem. If the squelch is being broken by intermod, an intermod filter might solve the problem. Subaudible (PL) tones were once equated with closed repeaters, but today are a fact of life on open repeaters in areas where there is overlapping coverage on repeater pairs and where interference is common. Arizona, a state much like New Mexico, has just gone to universal PL access for its repeaters. While we have been lucky in Socorro to be operating in a rather pristine RF environment, we can expect that there will be increasing problems in the near future. Perhaps it is time for SARA to implement PL access on its repeater.

Field Day

Field Day `96 is past. Once again, SARA/TARA fielded three stations. One at Datil Well campground, one at Macey Center, and one near Escondida. Details of their scores "to be announced."


Chuck Broadwell, W5UXH

The AOC has donated 20 batteries to SARA. They were recently removed from a UPS and are supposedly 50 AH capacity. They are in my garage being cleaned, charged and tested. They will be available to members on a first-come first-served basis, after we determine how many are good. I will reserve one or two for the club to keep on charge at the club house. Anyone interested in reserving a battery should contact me.


On June 19, Mary & Doug Staley (KC5RXI) had a new little boy, named Thomas Julian. Then, on June 25, Jean (N5HZV) & Monte (WB5RZX) Bateman also had a boy, named James William. Two new harmonics in one month. This has to be a SARA record! Parents and babies are doing fine, and the sleep deprivation experiments have begun...

President's Corner

Come to the club meeting, 7:30 pm 10 July at the party house behind the Electric Co-Op on Fifth Street. There isn't a special presentation so once business is over, we can proceed to refreshments and lies. The former will be provided. Please bring an adequate supply of the latter. See you there.

Howard Peavey, K9PV


Gatherings, gatherings

Upcoming events

From the ARRL Letter

ARRL Officials Operate Field Day

If you worked WA2DHF during Field Day, you worked one of a group of frustrated FD ops. Finding no other date available, Ad Hoc Repeater Committee Chairman and Rocky Mountain Division Director Marshall Quiat, AG0X, called a meeting of the committee for (gulp!) Field Day. Realizing that all of the League's officials love operating Field Day, First Vice President Steve Mendelsohn, WA2DHF, toted his Yaesu FT-990, Bencher key, portable computer and Hustler mobile antenna to the meeting.

Following the committee's deliberations, the multi-op station was set up with the antenna hanging over the 14th floor balcony of the Dallas Airport Marriott. In addition to Mendelsohn and Quiat, operators included ARRL President Rod Stafford, KB6ZV; Vice President Hugh Turnbull, W3ABC; Executive Vice President Dave Sumner, K1ZZ; and League Counsel Chris Imlay, N3AKD.

Operating for four hours on Saturday night, with 40-meter CW the centerpiece of activity, the group managed 135 QSOs before the telling of Field Day stories outweighed the desire to operate. Should a committee chairman call a meeting on Field Day next year, the group decided it would be mandatory that the chairman also bring the generator.

New Life for Old Heathkits?

The ARRL Lab's Mike Tracy, KC1SX, has uncovered a possible source for surplus Heathkit parts that Heath sold off a number of years ago. It's Spectrum Electronics, Eastern Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507, 616-742-0613. Mike says that although Spectrum Electronics is strictly a repair business, if you let them know what specific Heath part number you are looking for, they may be able to provide it. However, he emphasizes that you be specific and use part numbers. For example, don't ask for "the plate cap in the SB-200."

Heathkit manuals often are available from: Hi-Manuals, PO Box 802, Council Bluffs, IA 51502-0802, tel 712-323-9737; Manuals Plus (test equipment manuals only), PO Box 549, Tooele, UT 84074, tel 801-882-7188; or W7FG Vintage Manuals, 3300 Wayside Dr, Bartlesville, OK 74006, tel 800-807-6146 or 918-333-3754; e-mail; WWW

SAREX a hit Aboard STS-78

Hams aboard the space shuttle Columbia made all 11 scheduled SAREX contacts with schools, plus QSOs with family members and plenty of random contacts with earthbound hams. The packet radio robot, W5RRR-1, also has been active. It seems those on both sides of these QSOs have been enjoying the experience.

A "wonderful SAREX contact" was reported from Monroe Elementary School, Santa Barbara, California. As 100 onlookers and TV and newspaper reporters stood by, eight students got to interview the astronauts. The school had snagged shuttle QSOs on the previous pass while setting up, as well as two days earlier. "Thanks to all of the NASA/SAREX folks for putting this together! These kids will never forget it," wrote Winnie Hennigan, KA6OFZ, and Jay Hennigan, WB6RDV.

From Anacortes Middle School, Anacortes, Washington, Julia Berry, KJ6VV, reports "a great SAREX contact" from the Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island. Pupils from Oak Harbor Middle School and Ft Langley Elementary School also participated and asked more than a dozen questions. They enjoyed both a scheduled direct contact plus a second unscheduled direct contact on the next orbit. Berry reports some 150 people were on hand for the scheduled SAREX QSO. "June 29 was a great day for us!" she reports.

Earlier in the mission, four crew members took a half-hour to answer questions during the shuttle Web's "Ask the Crew a Question" feature. SAREX volunteer Pat Kilroy, WD8LAQ, of Bowie, Maryland, asked astronaut Chuck Brady, N4BQW, about the importance of SAREX on this mission and on future International Space Station missions.

Calling SAREX "tremendously important," Brady explained that "the longer the stay [in space], the more important it is to have that kind of personal contact back to Earth, and it's something I think will play a real important role in helping morale, and keeping the psychological adjustment steady aboard station."

Brady mentioned one SAREX contact with the USS Essex, cruising about 1000 miles off the coast of San Diego. "They'd been on quite a long deployment, and I think really enjoyed it from their end and we certainly did here on board Columbia."

Michael Schlabach, KB7YVM, of West Linn, Oregon, was thrilled to contact the shuttle and get a 53 report from astronaut Susan Helms, KC7NHZ, of Portland, Oregon. Michael reports that Susan "talked excitedly about the Pacific Northwest and meticulously made sure that she captured the appropriate QSL information. I could really tell that she had a ton of energy and enjoyed what she was doing. It was one of the most exciting things that I have ever experienced, and I thank all of the people involved in making SAREX a reality, and the shuttle crew members who take the time in their frantic schedules to talk with earthbound amateurs. Keep it up!"

Columbia's crew performed orbital high-fives when told of the decision to extend the mission by one day to allow for additional science data-gathering. The mission now is set to end July 7. The call to the STS-78 crew came last weekend while the payload crew worked on many of the 40 experiments that make up the Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission. Columbia's 20th space flight is now likely to break the space shuttle endurance record. The spacecraft's current orbit is circular at 168 statute miles, circling Earth every 90 minutes.

Due to the high atmospheric drag being experienced by the space shuttle, accurate orbital predictions demand frequent Keplerian data orbital element set updates. Check NASA's Shuttle Web site, or W1AW bulletins for the latest information.

The crew uses separate receive and transmit frequencies. Please do not transmit on the shuttle's downlink frequency. The downlink is your receiving frequency. The uplink is your transmitting frequency. The crew will not favor any of the uplink frequencies, so your ability to communicate with SAREX will be the "luck of the draw." Transmit only when the shuttle is within range of your station and when the shuttle's station is on the air. Here are the SAREX frequencies:

SAREX reception reports and QSL cards should be sent to: ARRL EAD, STS-78 QSL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111-1494. Include the following information in your QSL or report: STS-78, date, time in UTC, frequency and mode. In addition, an SASE using a large, business-sized envelope must be included if you wish to receive a card. "The Net" in Anacortes, Washington, has generously volunteered to manage the cards for this mission.

News from Newsline

FCC License Figures

According to FCC figures, the numbers of new hams and of hams who have changed their class of license is up compared to the last half of 1995. New hams for the months of January, March and April have each totaled more than 3000, and upgrades have topped 1200.

In February, new hams numbered 2109, and there were 980 upgrades. During the last half of 1995, which included the Federal government furlough the last half of December, the number of new hams averaged 2137 per month, while upgrades averaged 811 per month.

Lucid to Daughter QSO

NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid has been using R0MIR with permission of the Mir commander to talk to her daughter Shandara Richeson, KC5UAR, and son-in-law Jeff Richeson, KC5UAQ. Both recently received their ham radio licenses and Shandara actually talked to her mom while mobile in Houston, much to her mother's surprise.


Monte Bateman, WB5RZX
SARA Newsletter Editor
bateman AT