Socorro Amateur Radio Association

SARA Newsletter ----- "If it happens, it's news to us" ----- March, 1998


Nominating Committee

The following is taken from the Bylaws of the Socorro Amateur Radio Association.
Section 3: Nomination of Officers: At the regular meeting held in March of each year, an officer nominating committee of three members shall be elected from and by the membership of the corporation. It shall be the duty of this committee to nominate candidates for each of the offices to be filled at the Annual Meeting in May. The nominating committee shall report its nominees to the membership at the regular meeting in April. Before the election at the Annual Meeting in May, additional nominations from the floor will be accepted.

Repeater Report

The term "alligator" (all mouth and no ears) has been applied to Socorro's repeater on more than a one occasion in the last year or so. With the Mastr II the problems were related to receiver desensing and in the initial months of the Vertex's residence on the mountain, the problem related to a misaligned receiver front end. The alligator now has ears.

Jim (WB5GWH) and I visited the repeater site on M- Mountain (on 2/24/98), Jim performed an incantation over the receiver front end, and viola the ears now match the voice. In several tests from NE Albuquerque, I could bring up the repeater with 5 watts mobile and with a "strong signal" response from the controller, where formerly I could not even bring up the repeater with 45 watts.

Also during this repeater visit, we reinitialized the controller allowing me to program once again. As of 3/1/98, the repeater is running on most cylinders. Which ones are firing?

  1. The PL access is enabled and you will now have some control over it. You should use a CTCSS tone of 100 Hz to access the repeater, although any standard tone will work. You may disable the PL squelch. Key "#100" and the carrier operated squelch (COS) will be enabled (the CTCSS squelch will be disabled). It is important to note that this command may be delivered without a PL on your signal. Even though the repeater squelch will not break, the controller will receive, decode and implement the command. To return the repeater to PL squelch, key "*100". Should you forget to do so, the repeater will automatically return to PL squelch mode after 10 minutes if there is no input to the receiver. Whenever the repeater ID contains the suffix "PL" it is in PL squelch mode. If the suffix is missing, the repeater is still in COS squelch mode.
  2. There is again a 100 Hz tone on the output permitting you to use the tone squelch feature on your radio.
  3. The autopatch works! Access to the autopatch is with the long established SARA autopatch access code. Remember that you key in the code AND the phone number WITHOUT letting up on the PTT. You may dial any number that begins with 835-, 838-, 450-, 480-, and 1 800-. Access to the 800 numbers is an experiment intended to allow callers to access public service toll-free numbers. If it is used to call local mail order catalog distributors instead of for road conditions, we may skin this cat another way. We have no plans to enable 1 900- numbers.
  4. The Socorro Emergency Service number (911) is now enabled. Simply key in '911' (the autopatch access code is not required, although I think you can reach the Emergency operator with the access code and '911") and you will be connected to the City of Socorro 911 operator. If the emergency you are reporting is not in the City of Socorro, the operator will connect you to the Socorro NM State Police office.
  5. Both autopatch calls will 'timeout' after 3 minutes or after 60 seconds without an input to the repeater receiver, whichever comes first. In the near future, I will program the controller so that there is no timeout for 911 calls as long as there is an input to the receiver at least every 60 seconds.
  6. End your telephone session with either the traditional "#3" or the "#" keys.

What isn't working?
  1. I have not yet programmed the autodial numbers, but when I do, they'll be the ones you've had all along. I'll let you know when this has happened. If you don't have an autodial number, but would like one, let me know and I'll assign one.
  2. There is not now a "Touch Tone Pad Test." If you would like to see if the controller detects any DTMF tones, you can key "A" which will generate a DTMF response. If you key "A06" it will prompt the ID string.
  3. There is neither a "patch reset" to redial nor is there a "patch timer reset" at present.
I received an email message from the designer of the controller who informed me that the new ('better') software should be ready to ship sometime around 3/7/98. What this means is that: 1) I'll be able to program via phone and 2) all bets are off. Much of what appears above may be subject to change. I would like to thank you all for your patience during all this, but as William Westmoreland said, "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel." Hopefully it isn't a 100- car freight headed right at us.

I've disabled the "redial" feature on the autopatch. Come to the March meeting prepared to discuss the options related to this feature.

There is news related to the long silent 444.750 repeater. Jim and visited this machine on our trip up the hill and discovered that winds had broken one let of the AC on the transformer on the pole. The SEC has been notified and that machine should be back on the air within a few days. (Dave, KB5YIW)


The URL for SARA's web page is changing. The new address will be changing. The new address will be The old address (on griffy) will continue to work indefinitely, but to conform with the new practice, please make note of the change, particularly when making reference to the site in written or internet materials. Thank you.

Opening for Wordsmith

The May 1998 issue of the SARA Newsletter will be my last as editor. If you have ever thought of giving newsletter editing a whirl, this is your big chance. If you have any questions about what is involved, get in touch with me. There are no particular prerequisites, although a computer, printer and a good word processor are pretty important to the task. If you have access to the internet and the time to surf amateur radio sites, it can be down right fun.

Upcoming events



Gatherings, gatherings


From the ARRL

Hams Help In West Coast Flooding - Amateur Radio has been very active in the San Francisco area, assisting emergency officials in coping with the disastrous effects of heavy rains in recent days. ARRL San Francisco Section Manager John Wallack, W6TLK, reports that floods and mudslides have closed many roads and isolated smaller communities, especially along the coast. "With more rain forecast for this week, flooding along the Russian River here in Sonoma County may enter a second week," Wallack says. In six canyons along the river, 400 homes are at risk of sliding down muddy slopes.

Hams have been stationed in the affected areas at shelters and EOCs since the disaster started on February 3. In Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Marin counties hams have also been active in supporting emergency activities. Wallack says he worked at the Sonoma County EOC February 6 and 7. "I had a chance to see the excellent response by the emergency ham radio teams in assisting emergency officials in responding to the serious needs of our community," he said. "Amateur Radio has again proved to be a valuable resource." (Volume 17, Number 7; February 13, 1998)

FCC Computer System Back On Line - The FCC got its errant Amateur Radio licensing computer system back on line February 21 and began processing the backlog of applications. The system went down February 10, and no paper or electronic applications were processed for nearly 11 days as FCC personnel in Gettysburg attempted to troubleshoot the problems with the system.

Gettysburg personnel first processed data submitted on February 11 and 12 by VECs and had an updated file available for the Internet call sign servers on February 21. Since the initial processing went well, VECs then sent on the applications they'd been holding back at the FCC's request. By February 26, it was business as usual. Gettysburg had caught up with the backlog and ran a batch of vanity applications, although a number of applications remained in the work in process (WIPs) stack.

The FCC offered no explanation for the computer breakdown--its longest ever. The situation frustrated those who have been hoping to learn their new call signs or to check on updated licensing status. Call sign servers on the Internet also were affected. The FCC apologized to VECs for the inconvenience. (Volume 17, Number 9; February 27, 1998)

SETI League annual meeting set - The SETI League Inc will hold its fourth annual membership meeting and a press briefing Sunday, March 29, 1998, starting at 2 PM Eastern Time, at the organization's headquarters in Little Ferry, New Jersey. At the press briefing, SETI League scientists will report on the progress of their Project Argus search, launched just over two years ago. The SETI League calls Project Argus--named after the fictional search in the late Carl Sagan's 1985 novel, Contact-- "perhaps the most ambitious radio astronomy project ever undertaken without government equipment or funding."

Project Argus will deploy and coordinate approximately 5000 small radiotelescopes around the world in an all-sky survey for signals of possibly intelligent extraterrestrial origin. For more information or to join The SETI League, see or send e-mail to or call toll-free 800-828-7384 (TAU SETI). (Volume 17, Number 9; February 27, 1998)

Special Event Stations

Submissions to SARA Newsletter

Contributions related to amateur radio will be considered for inclusion in the SARA Newsletter. Text should be of general interest to readers, and on the order of 200 to 300 words. Each month ads from SARA members to buy, sell, or trade may be included. The usual caveat applies, items must be ham-related. Material will be included on a space available; first come, first served basis; and pretty much at the discretion of the editor. For information on the cost of advertising by nonmembers contact the editor. To be assured of consideration for the next newsletter, material must be received by the 25th day of the month. I would prefer to have submissions in the form of a DOS ASCII file. Email is ideal (to, snail mail to 1307 Lopezville Rd., Socorro, NM 87801-4853, or you can FAX text to (505) 835-6436. Telephone queries will be received at 835-1432 AT hm, or 835-5771 AT wk. (D. Johnson - ed.)

SARA Officers


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW
SARA Newsletter Editor

1307 Lopezville Rd.
Socorro, NM 87801-4853