April 1, 2020
We are all feeling the effects of the “Safer at Home” orders and as a result, the HF bands are hopping! If you have time on your hands, let’s get off the news channels with their endless loops and study for that upgrade you have always been meaning to do. Our resident Volunteer Examiner team leader is working with the W5YI group to come up with a virtual/remote test session protocol. It’s not ready yet but by the time you crack the books and take a few practice exams it might be. So, go for it! A General or Extra is within your reach!
When’s the last time you have been on CW? Now is your opportunity to try out some modes you haven’t done before. Our last Play Day introduced FT8. I hope you are on that mode now racking up the contacts and awards. But a more conversational experience awaits on CW, PSK or RTTY. Some of the newer rigs have those modes built-in. Add a keyboard and away you go! Others work better with a computer and software such as fldigi and Ham Radio Deluxe and similar. But a basic paddle will get you on CW, and let you practice. So, let’s get out there!
Our next club meeting is on Thursday, April 9th. We’re going to try a conferencing app called Zoom. You can go to zoom.us and get the client installed beforehand, if you want. There are clients for Linux, MacOS, a bunch of different Windows versions, iPhones and iPads, Android and Chromebook devices. You can choose to enable your video camera if you like, or disable it, but please upload a recent picture—it helps to know who is speaking. I expect this will have some bugs and glitches and QRN and QRM, but it should be fun. We are going to try to have a presentation and conduct our business meeting, so please plan to attend. We will send out links and the meeting ID and so forth a bit closer to the event.
We’ll probably practice at our Board of Directors meeting the night before, Wednesday, April 8. All MARS members are able to attend and observe Board meetings, so if you want to see the Board in action you are welcome to participate. It’s pretty boring, though—nothing like the fights one might see in the Asian parliaments or the stuffy insults in the British parliament. I’ll be trying out a different technology on the Tuesday before the Board meeting so there could be a last-second change of plans. Stay tuned!
As you may have heard, the Texas State Parks On The Air (TSPOTA) event has been cancelled by LAARK. They were going to try for it because many of the parks are activated by individuals, but alas, many of the parks are closed altogether. It’s very sad.
I see most of the sellers of new ham radio gear are offering sales and discounts, so if you were going to upgrade your radios, antennas or accessories there’s no time like the present. Don’t wait until the shelter order expires and then wonder why you didn’t take the time to spruce everything up.
Last Saturday we held our first Health and Welfare Net. It was very successful. Our Vice President Andy Parcel, KE5KOF, ran the net. We had our members checking in using the 145.21 KB5A club VHF repeater, and we had other hams eager for a break from the shelter tedium checked in too! A great time was had by all. There is no time limit or structure – it’s informal. Perhaps we need an alternate net control for this next Saturday’s net. How about you! Let me know at if you can be the alternate net control. Until then, I look forward to seeing you on the air.