Updated November 1, 2017
October is shaping up to be a big month. I’ll use my column to bring you up to date, and to ask for your help.
Of course, Thursday is the regular club meeting. If you are ready to upgrade your license, we’ll be testing at 6. Otherwise, we’ll see you at 7 pm at the Carrollton Public Library, Hebron branch.
This should be a very interesting meeting, with a representative from Icom flying all the way in from wherever he hangs his hat. Details elsewhere in this newsletter/website.
This one’s a head-scratcher. All the usual folk who manage Play Day are tied up with other ham and non-ham events for next Saturday.
If you can help, please let me know. Basically, you ask the librarian to open the room, then be there to greet folk as they arrive. If you want to put on a program, great, otherwise, just help people get out a table or two and some chairs, and maybe play with their equipment and antennas. Plus your own, if you bring something. Otherwise, if no one steps up, we’ll cancel this month.
Speaking of which, I’m looking for a Play Day Committee member who can help set up a schedule of builds and Play Day activities for the next twelve months. Could be anything – RaspberryPi or Arduino or similar, especially as applied to ham radio. Interfacing radios and computers. Ham Radio Deluxe (we’ll have a guest speaker on that). Contesting – would be great to show folks how to participate in one of the contest weekends. HT Bootcamp, etc. Can you help? Let me know.
A Band Chart featuring the new amateur radio frequency allocations in the 2200 meter and 630 meter bands is available for download from the ARRL. Go now to download your very own PDF.
Should I Learn CW?
At the September meeting Don Murray, W9VE, sought to answer this question that troubles many hams. Don explained the differences between CW and Morse Code, then looked at the history of Morse and current ham activities that use it.
Turns out that hams can successfully participate in some CW-related activities by using gadgets and apps without having to learn code. He explained the levels of mastery required to learn just enough Morse to get involved.
Don showed various approaches to learning Morse, including some mental “brokering” schemes that are supposed to help, but really don’t. Don explained the stages of learning Morse and talked about the progress that often occurs. He wrapped by grouping operators into common types and considered the reasons they continue to use a digital communication mode almost 200 years old.
Don has been “pounding brass” for 55 years on the ham bands and Navy MARS CW nets. As a Novice, he built his first transmitter on a cast-off baking pan and still enjoys building and using QRP equipment and an occasional venture into homebrew QRO. His dad, a high-speed Kana (a form of Morse code used to send Japanese text) intercept operator in WWII, got Don interested in radio at an early age. In turn, Don launched his dad’s ham radio career by giving him his Novice test in 1965. They had regular QSOs (CW only) for about 40 years.
Challenged to stay alert during his 40-minute commute each way between his home in Dallas and work at McKinney, Don cautiously tried running mobile CW to ease the boredom and moments of sheer terror on US 75. Hundreds of mobile CW QSOs and thousands of miles later he is convinced that running with the crazed pack on 75 is safer and much less stressful when you’re having a good CW QSO. Now retired, Don and his YL Ginger, W5AAN, volunteer to teach ESL when not pursuing their hobbies.
Fit to be Tied
At the August 10 meeting, Steve Darrah, KD5YPB, demonstrated some handy knots for radio amateurs. Whether you’re tying down a load of gear, securing ends of wire dipoles, or stabilizing a mast, knowing the ropes is a good skill. “Tying a proper knot makes untying the knot a whole lot easier.” Here are just a few examples:
Square Knot (or Reef Knot)—A square knot is used to join two ropes of the same size and is a good all-around knot. http://www.animatedknots.com/reef/
Two Half Hitches—Two half hitches are used to connect the end of a rope to an object. This knot does not slide and stays tight even when the tension is removed from the rope. The round turn shown in the animation makes the knot more stable.
Taut Line Hitch—The taut line hitch is used when the rope will need to be tightened occasionally or even loosened. An extra hitch may be added to the two hitches to improve stability of the taut line hitch.
Jae Kim, AA5EE’s phone is tied up. Please call back later.
Bowline—The bowline (pronounced bōˈlĭn, or bōˈlīn) is used to form a loop in the end of a rope.
A bowline can be tied with one hand as well to facilitate a person’s rescue. http://www.animatedknots.com/bowlineonehand/
I’ve been playing with a bunch of new technology this past month. Andy KE5KOF bought one of those amazing Android phone plus UHF FM and DMR radio combinations and has been having lots of fun with it.
I get to play with it for short intervals when I can get it away from him. This may be the future of HTs! ICOM started it, I think, with the ID-31 and then ID-51 Dstar radios. You can load the entire USA Dstar repeater list into files on an SD card, and then pull up code plugs (programming files) and load them into the radio whenever you like. Plus, the radio has GPS and you can have it search for and create a list of the nearest repeaters. Very cool. I have one of the original ID-51’s – it’s about five years old now.
This new Android phone/radio combination goes a step beyond. It uses either WiFi or a cellular data connection (LTE) to access the RFinder database and show you the current nearby DMR and FM UHF repeaters. So it’s always up to date.
Musings from the Vice President
This month we will be discussing Radio Code-Plugs, the new DMR android phone/radio (yes I mean a combination Android cell phone and DMR/analog UHF radio), and the upcoming speaker topic for the August MARS meeting at the Hebron public library, 10th of August, testing at 6:00 PM, meeting at 7:00 PM.