Socorro Amateur Radio Association

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


Report of the Nominating Committee

The nominating committee reported selections for each of the SARA elected positions that will be voted on at the May Meeting. These nominations appear in the Abstract of the Minutes for the April SARA Meeting (below).

Annual Meeting and Election of Officers

The bylaws of the Socorro Amateur Radio Association require that each eligible voter be informed of the Annual Meeting not less than ten nor more than 50 days before the date of the meeting. This constitutes that notification. The meeting will take place in the SARA clubhouse located at 704 5th Street, between Manzanares and Abeyta. In addition, a list of eligible voters is attached. This list will also be available at the Socorro Radio Shack for inspection before the meeting. To be eligible to vote, memberships must be recorded 30 days prior to the annual meeting. One-third of the membership eligible to vote must be represented in person or by proxy. If you are not certain that you will be present at the annual meeting, please complete and return a proxy to: Al Braun, 722 N. California St., Socorro, NM 87801.

WB5QZD Repeater Adopts New PL Tone

The WB5QZD (444.275 MHz) Repeater has changed the PL tone required for access to 100 Hz. The old tone (127.3 Hz) was change to the new 100 Hz tone so that it will conform to the PL tone used on the 146.68 MHz Socorro repeater.

A Word from the President

Well, my first year as president is just about over. It is time to thank all of those individuals who have kept disaster at bay, and made being president possible. The club officers, Bill, Agnes, and Tom; Felix for his work on field day; Bill, Kalman, a couple of Daves, Howard, Chuck, some Jims, John and all the others who worked so hard to make the hamfest work; John for organizing the Christmas dinner; and anyone else that I forgot.

This month we are going to hold a VE session, followed by a picnic. Plans are being laid now.

Hope to see most of you at the May meeting (Al - AC5BX).

Virtual Collins Radio Museum

Visit the Virtual Collins Radio Museum at: This site has pages devoted to amateur radio equipment produced by Collins Radio over the years.

"New" Newsletter Editor Takes Reigns

This marks my last newsletter as editor. The next edition will be put together by Doug Staley (KC5RXI). Many of you will recall that a year ago, Doug edited the June Newsletter during my annual sabbatical, and did a great job. I know that he will continue to do so as the regular editor.

My "retirement" from editing doesn't mean that SARA members won't be hearing from me. I plan to continue my responsibilities as one of the control operators of the SARA 146.68 repeater. There should be regular newsletter reports related to that repeater, and others planned for the area. In addition, I will continue to be webmaster for the SARA homepage. In my copious free time, I might even sit down to the computer to use Super Morse instead of this word processor. I've enjoyed serving as editor for the last two years, particularly because I am convinced that SARA's members are a pretty special breed. It has been an honor to run with the bunch.


Upcoming events

Over the Horizon


Gatherings, gatherings


News from Newsline

T-Hunting Special - Part 2 - And finally, some hams think that finding hidden transmitters is one of the greatest thrills in ham radio. The CQ VHF National Foxhunting Weekend, April 25 and 26. "Hidden transmitter hunts in the USA have traditionally involved cars, trucks or vans full of direction finding gear, roaring off for miles of fun. But the folks in China, Korea, Japan and many countries of Europe such as Belgium and Sweden, well, they think we're sissies. To them, a ham radio foxhunt involves a couple of hours of running through thick forest, using hand-held direction finding sets to seek out five to seven one-watt transmitters.

It's not unusual to have to run or walk three to five miles to punch your ticket at all the transmitters, or "foxes" as they call them. It's a sport for all ages, fit and not-so-fit. They even have national and world championships, the last World Championship was September 1997 in Germany.

Competitors are grouped into age and gender categories, and there are medals for individual and national team winners. Just like the Olympics, right? Well, European and Asian foxhunting leaders would indeed like to see it become an Olympic sport. And they would also like it if hams in North and South America would get more involved. Next week, I'll tell you about upcoming opportunities for that to happen.

Meantime, consider an international-style foxhunt for one of your activities during the National Foxhunting Weekend. For more information, see the April issue of CQ VHF magazine and my Web site, which you can access by link from the Amateur Radio Newsline site." Joe Moell, K0OV.

Be here next week for the conclusion of Joe's 3 part series. (Newsline #1078 - 4/10/98)

From the ARRL

Alabama Tornadoes Bring Out The Best In Hams - What's being described as the worst weather of its type in many years brought out the best in Alabama's ham radio community this past week. The evening of April 8, 1998, became one for the record books as tornadoes touched down in central Alabama leaving death and destruction in their wake. Upwards of three dozen people died, and many were left homeless. "To say the least, it was a long night," said Alabama Section Manager Scott Johnson, N4YYQ, of Vincent. "The hams here did a great job!"

As the severe weather approached, dozens of hams spent hours on weather-spotting nets assisting the National Weather Service in tracking the storms and relaying reports of damage, hail, injuries and relief operations. David Black, KB4KCH, president of the Alabama Emergency Response Team (ALERT) and an ARRL PIO says hams were on the air well ahead of the actual tornadoes. As the "long night" wore on, mobile and stationary spotters on the West Alabama Emergency Net and the Alabama Emergency Net on HF checked in with weather spots, damage assessments, and injury reports. As needed, hams were assigned to assist with Red Cross shelters opened to house tornado victims. A second repeater was activated to handle damage reports. Lisa Wallace, KF4C, in Tuscaloosa, served as liaison on the unofficial net and assisted in passing traffic from the West Alabama Emergency Net to the Birmingham NWS office and the Tuscaloosa Red Cross.

ALERT members activated the well-equipped ham station at the National Weather Service office in Birmingham. As former Alabama SM and current ARRL Alabama District 8 DEC Tom Moore, KL7Q, explains, the station has VHF/UHF capability to access remote bases for linking to various repeaters--and local SKYWARN nets--in the region. Those attempting to track the weather on the ground gathered information not only via ham radio nets but via an Internet/packet radio gateway developed by hams in Alabama. The digital Internet/packet gateway has an extensive wide-area dedicated RF node network and provides hard copy of severe weather bulletins, exchange of storm and damage reports, and keyboard-to-keyboard contact with supporting SKYWARN groups. Johnson said the keyboard-to-keyboard aspect worked especially well and helped to relieve voice traffic congestion.

"The more I watched this system, the more impressed I became with it," he said. He's hoping other Alabama counties can be convinced to adopt a similar approach.

Weather service meteorologist Brian Peters, WD4EPR, said hams often were first with important storm-related information. "They were absolutely great," he said. "We couldn't have done it without them." Peters classified the storm as an F5--the most violent category. Winds were estimated in excess of 200 miles per hour. SKYWARN groups elsewhere in Alabama--including the capital city of Montgomery and in Northern Alabama--also were active as the severe weather ripped the state.

TV meteorologist James Spann, WO4W, had words of praise for his fellow hams. "I thought the watch and warning process was just flawless," he said. Peters, Spann and others agreed that spreading the word quickly on the approaching danger saved many lives, and hams deserve at least part of the credit.

Black says that, at one point, 14 Alabama counties were under tornado warnings at the same time. Tornadoes touched down in the Edgewater community west of Birmingham, damaging homes and other structures. More than 30 people died in Jefferson County alone, and the funnel cloud even threatened downtown Birmingham at one point. A tornado also caused heavy damage in western Tuscaloosa and St Clair counties, where others also lost their lives. Johnson said St Clair County ARES/RACES members assisted emergency services personnel and "probably did 90% of the damage assessment" in the county. Johnson says Mark Oglesby, KF4NLZ, left his home during the storm on a damage assessment foray only to return and find his own home gone in the tornado's wake.

As the extent of the damage became clear, hams in Birmingham were called upon to provide communication backup at Red Cross shelters set up for storm victims. More than a dozen shelters remained open a week later. Johnson says members of the HEART Net were very active in western Jefferson County providing shelter communication and other help as needed. Fortunately, Birmingham's repeaters remained on the air and got heavy emergency use. Hams also helped provide communication between responding agencies and volunteers searching for victims and assessing the damage from the violent weather.

Robert "RB" West, W4BAT, who lives near Montgomery and away from the disaster area, lent a hand to the Salvation Army in the storms' wake. "They are swamped with work in Birmingham," he said, "so, I gave a little help here at the Montgomery center." West said he worried about the Montgomery area as the storms approached, and he tuned to a local weather spotters' net. "I had no idea what was going on 100 miles north," he said. In the stricken zones, the Salvation Army has set up feeding centers and has been relying on hams for some logistical support.

Black passed along tales of personal heroism on the part of some amateurs. Some examples: Janice Rock, KF4PVR, Ricky Rock, KF4RRS, and Joel Booth, KF4PWA--all ALERT members and all Emergency Medical Technicians--responded and helped carry a man with a head injury nearly a quarter mile through a thicket of fallen trees to an ambulance. Lacking a stretcher, they used a door they found to carry the victim. After hours on the SKYWARN nets, Bill Heaton, KE4FBH, went around delivering water and food to victims who had not eaten all day. Walter Cooney, KF4AAG, was stationed at the Birmingham-Jefferson County EMA headquarters and became the point man for a heavy load of damage reports passed via 2 meters. Many other hams assumed less epic roles and just pitched in as needed with the work at hand.

Disaster officials called the destruction some of the worst they'd ever seen. Vice President Al Gore and President Clinton also have visited the disaster scene. Hams are expected to remain available to help as the long recovery process continues in Alabama. --thanks to David Black, KB4KCH, Tom Moore, KL7Q, Scott Johnson, N4YYQ, and others (Volume 17, Number 16; April 17, 1998)

1.2 GHZ Threat - The ARRL has learned that the second civilian frequency for the global positioning system (GPS) could wind up within Amateur Radio's secondary allocation at 1.2 GHz. A decision on whether the new, second frequency will be 1205 or 1250 MHz is expected to be made in August. An allocation at 1250 MHz could mean the end of Amateur Radio in the band 1240 to 1260 MHz. The Amateur Radio 23-cm band runs from 1240 to 1300 MHz.

In February 1997, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Defense (DOD) announced an agreement assuring civilian GPS users of a second frequency--referred to as L5 and considered essential for critical civilian GPS uses. According to a DOD news release, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, chaired by Vice President Al Gore, "called for the establishment of a second civil frequency as part of a broader program to maintain US leadership in aviation and satellite technology."

For more information, see 95-97.html. (Volume 17, Number 16; April 17, 1998)

Abstract of the Minutes for the April SARA Meeting

Old Business New Business

SARA Officers


Dave Johnson, KB5YIW
SARA Newsletter Editor

1307 Lopezville Rd.
Socorro, NM 87801-4853