WSSM Meeting on the Air – Feb. 15, 2018

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Net Report for 02/15/2018

WSSM Meeting on the Air

Net commenced at 7:00PM (0000 UTC)

Moderator: Tim KB1HNZ, Saco, ME

7 Check-ins, including:

  • W1CJC CJ, Portland, ME
  • KC1HJN Waylon, Windham, ME
  • KC1AOT Ron, Denmark, ME
  • KC1HJK Eric, New Gloucester, ME
  • K1GJY Stefania, Saco, ME
  • KR1MAC Mac, Saco, ME
  • KC1FHU Stephen, Standish, ME

Net closed at 7:20PM (0020 UTC)


The After Net (28.455 USB)

Net commenced at 7:22PM (0022 UTC)

Moderator: Tim KB1HNZ, Saco, ME

5 Check-ins, including:

  • KC1DFO Pete, Dayton, ME
  • KC1FHU Stephen, Standish, ME
  • KB1NZQ Carl, Biddeford, ME
  • KB1PLY Rory, Saco, ME
  • K1AAM Brian, Standish, ME

Net closed at 7:55PM (0055 UTC)


Net Announcements:

The Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Sunday, April 15th, beginning at 12:00 PM local time. The goal is to work as many stations in as many different towns as possible. There are Mobile and Fixed categories for QRP, Medium, and High Power. For complete details, please visit: www.2meterchallenge.com

 

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WSSM Meeting on the Air – Jan 4, 2018

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Net Report for 01/04/2018

WSSM Meeting on the Air

Net commenced at 7:00PM (0000 UTC)

Moderator: Tim KB1HNZ, Saco, ME

11 Check-ins, including:

  • WX1GYX  Eric,  New Gloucester, ME
  • KB1PLY  Rory,  Saco, ME
  • W1AMX  Dave,  Harrison, ME
  • KC1HBM  Peter,  Scarborough, ME
  • KC1DFO  Pete,  Dayton, ME
  • KC1HJN  Waylon,  Windham, ME
  • KC1AOT  Ron,  Denmark, ME
  • KA1VPU  Tim,  Gorham, ME
  • W2VAN  Mike,  Portland, ME
  • W1CJC  CJ,  Portland, ME
  • KC1DSP  Patrick,  Biddeford, ME

Net closed at 7:45PM (0045 UTC)


The After Net (28.455 USB)

Net commenced at 7:47PM (0047 UTC)

Moderator: Rory KB1PLY

2 Check-ins, including:

  • KC1DFO  Pete,  Dayton, ME
  • KB1HNZ  Tim,  Saco, ME

Net closed at 8:15PM (0115 UTC)


Net Announcements:    

SKYWARN was activated throughout the day for the winter storm, beginning at 10AM, collecting reports from multiple sources, including 2m FM, DMR, and HF.

WSSM will take part in Winter Field Day on January 27-28, 2018. A planning session will take place at the January 11th formal meeting at the CCEMA Bunker, 22 High Street, Windham, ME

WSSM Meeting on the Air – Dec 28, 2017

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Net Report for 12/28/2017

WSSM Meeting on the Air

Net commenced at 7:10PM (0010 UTC)

Moderator: Tim KB1HNZ, Saco, ME

17 Check-ins, including:

  • W1AMX  Dave,  Harrison, ME
  • KC1HBM  Peter,  Scarborough, ME
  • KC1FHU  Stephen,  Standish, ME
  • KC1HJN  Waylon,  Windham, ME
  • KB1YYC  Dakota,  Westbrook, ME
  • W1MSA  Sean,  Naples, ME
  • KC1HJK  Eric,  New Gloucester, ME
  • K1GJY  Stefania,  Saco, ME
  • KC1AMQ  Annette,  Greene, ME
  • WZ1J  Steve,  Brunswick, ME
  • NW1B  Troy,  Scarborough, ME
  • KB1ZLV  Bert,  Greene, ME
  • KR1MAC  Mac,  Saco, ME
  • N3AWM  Adam,  Buxton, ME
  • KC1HBL  Ben,  mobile in Buxton, ME
  • KB1PLY  Rory,  Saco, ME
  • KC1CWC  Tony,  Nobleboro, ME

Net closed at 7:45PM (0045 UTC)


The After Net (28.455 USB)

Net commenced at 7:47PM (0047 UTC)

Moderator: Tim KB1HNZ

2 Check-ins, including:

  • KB1PLY  Rory,  Saco, ME
  • N3AWM  Adam,  Buxton, ME

Net closed at 8:15PM (0115 UTC)


Net Announcements:    

WSSM will take part in Winter Field Day on January 27-28, 2018. A planning session will take place at the January 11th formal meeting at the CCEMA Bunker, 22 High Street, Windham, ME

Net control thanked Eric Emery KC1HJK for his support of SKYWARN during the most recent storms over the holiday weekend and on Christmas Day.

Stephen KC1FHU announced that he has a 6m J-Pole available. Call: (207) 831-3964 for more information.

A Ham Radio Operator’s Night Before Christmas

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by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ

T’was the night before Christmas,
And all through two-meters,
Not a signal was keying up
Any repeaters.The antennas reached up
From the tower, quite high,
To catch the weak signals
That bounced from the sky.

The children, Tech-Pluses,
Took their HTs to bed,
And dreamed of the day
They’d be Extras, instead.

Mom put on her headphones,
I plugged in the key,
And we tuned 40 meters
For that rare ZK3.

When the meter was pegged
by a signal with power.
It smoked a small diode,
and, I swear, shook the tower.

Mom yanked off her phones,
And with all she could muster
Logged a spot of the signal
On the DX Packet Cluster,

While I ran to the window
And peered up at the sky,
To see what could generate
RF that high.

It was way in the distance,
But the moon made it gleam –
A flying sleigh, with an
Eight element beam,

And a little old driver
who looked slightly mean.
So I though for a moment,
That it might be Wayne Green.

But no, it was Santa
The Santa of Hams.
On a mission, this Christmas
To clean up the bands.

He circled the tower,
Then stopped in his track,
And he slid down the coax
Right into the shack.

While Mom and I hid
Behind stacks of CQ,
This Santa of hamming
Knew just what to do.

He cleared off the shack desk
Of paper and parts,
And filled out all my late QSLs
For a start.

He ran copper braid,
Took a steel rod and pounded
It into the earth, till
The station was grounded.

He tightened loose fittings,
Re-soldered connections,
Cranked down modulation,
Installed lightning protection.

He neutralized tubes
In my linear amp…

(Never worked right before —
Now it works like a champ).

A new, low-pass filter
Cleaned up the TV,
He corrected the settings
In my TNC.

He repaired the computer
That would not compute,
And he backed up the hard drive
And got it to boot.

Then, he reached really deep
In the bag that he brought,
And he pulled out a big box,
“A new rig?” I thought!

“A new Kenwood? An Icom?
A Yaesu, for me?!”
(If he thought I’d been bad
it might be QRP!)

Yes! The Ultimate Station!
How could I deserve this?
Could it be all those hours
that I worked Public Service?

He hooked it all up
And in record time, quickly
Worked 100 countries,
All down on 160.

I should have been happy,
It was my call he sent,
But the cards and the postage
Will cost two month’s rent!

He made final adjustments,
And left a card by the key:
“To Gary, from Santa Claus.
Seventy-Three.”

Then he grabbed his HT,
Looked me straight in the eye,
Punched a code on the pad,
And was gone – no good bye.

I ran back to the station,
And the pile-up was big,
But a card from St. Nick
Would be worth my new rig.

Oh, too late, for his final
came over the air.
It was copied all over.
It was heard everywhere.

The Ham’s Santa exclaimed
What a ham might expect,
“Merry Christmas to all,
And to all, good DX.”

Digital Age Drama

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Originally published in the Winter / Spring 2017 issue of The Radiogram

During the month of December, reports began to emerge that upper management of the popular software, Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD), had been blacklisting subscribers in retaliation for writing negative reviews. The story sent shockwaves throughout the amateur radio community, but also the business world. Many questions were raised, but the unavoidable theme was that the practice of retaliating against customers who write negative reviews – no matter how harsh the review might be – is unethical, and what HRD did was completely wrong. 

Reviews are essential to companies in order to gage customer satisfaction. They are also an important training tool to help businesses improve in areas that may otherwise go unnoticed. Chris Boeckelman writes in the article Why Unhappy Customers Are a Valuable Resource, that “Sometimes unhappy customers force companies to confront and solve problems that are negatively impacting their business. And those solutions can lead to major success.”

Companies like Apple, Ritz Carlton, and Zappos are well known for placing a high importance on culture and customer experience. This focus on culture has set them apart in their fields, and they serve as shining examples not only to their respected industries, but to the entire business world. Providing a truly exceptional customer experience has become trendy and profitable, so how is it that a company like HRD can survive if it doesn’t place its customers in such high regard? The answer, I’m afraid, lies in the simple fact that software companies that focus on ham radio are very few in number. It’s a niche industry that is unaffected by the traditional pressures of competition, which historically is what forces businesses – and individuals, for that matter – to either evolve for the better, or ultimately fail. 

HRD’s behavior emerges from an unrestrained arrogance, that they are in control of the marketplace. They forgot the basic principal that no matter how much control a company has, it is the customer who determines its success. With access to multiple review sites, social media, blogs, and forums, the customer is now more empowered than ever before, and they are not afraid to speak out when something is wrong. 

Another example of a marketplace that is anemic in competition, is that when the story began to break, QRZ.com (on which HRD is a major advertiser), attempted to protect them by removing negative posts. It’s not clear whether this was done at the request of HRD, but when evidence of this began to emerge, subsequent posts were allowed to remain. Similar advertising conflicts may also be why the story has not been picked up by the mainstream ham radio publications. But the important thing to remember is that when enough people are mistreated, whether by an individual, a company, or even a government, the truth will eventually find an outlet. 

Rules for Band Cops

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Originally published in the March/April 2014 issue of The Radiogram

In a recent QST article entitled “More Views on Pileup Misbehavior,” the author expressed his opinion that pileups are more unruly now than ever before, and the reason for this is that hams who are calling a DX station have either a genetic predisposition toward conflict, or a complete disregard for the rules. I don’t know about about any of you, but my own experience from recent pileups doesn’t quite match this description. Sure there are always those few who continue calling even if the letters in their call sign are nowhere near what the DX station came back to, or when working split, there’s the occasional few who don’t get the message and call on the DXer’s transmit frequency instead. But these are rare exceptions. The biggest menace lately is the increasing number of what I call “Band Cops.”

Have you ever wondered who these people are? The fact is, we don’t know because they never identify. They sit on a DX calling frequency, (obviously without any intention of contacting the DX, since they don’t operate split). Furthermore, they have stations that most of us would probably envy, because their signals are almost always 20db over S-9! This makes you question why they don’t just work the DX station and move on, but instead they park themselves there for an extraordinary length of time, just waiting for the opportunity to pounce.

But why? What authority do they believe they have to “police” the bands, and for who’s benefit? Certainly not hams like me who are trying to work the DX but can’t hear them because there’s 3 idiots who are screaming “he’s working split! Up! Up! Up!” over and over and over. Most of the time I don’t even hear the so-called offending station – if there even is one! As far as I’m concerned, these “band cops” are causing intentional interference, and are the only ones breaking any laws.

What is the Solution?

Now, in order to best answer this question, let’s first identify the disorder that is at the root of this problem. “Band Cops,” we know, have or show a feeling of patronizing superiority. In psychology, this is called a Narcissitic Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, this is one of the three most difficult disorders to treat. It is definied as an ongoing pattern of grandiosity and need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. It should be noted that it’s three times more common in males than females. (which seems to hold true, since I’ve never heard a YL Band Cop). These individuals have an obvious self love, and they believe they are more knowledgeable and indeed an expert in “the rules of DXing,” among other things. Furthermore, they are usually shocked when they are not praised for their efforts.

The  QST article, which blames inexperienced and “unruly” hams for “Pileup Misbehavior” is unfortunately the kind of condescending and unhelpful nonsense that is actually the most damaging behavior in amateur radio today. It seems to me that if this were truly an issue, then the easiest way to fix it would be through education and support – something it doesn’t offer. It is more likely that this particular article, in a misguided attempt to deflect blame, is written by a card carrying “Band Cop” himself.

Since I’ve now shocked the “Band Cop” community by not praising their efforts, I will now attempt to explain my reasoning. The biggest being that you’re doing it all wrong! So, to help assist you in your future band-policing efforts, I’ve come up with a few simple rules:

Rule Number 1 – For a split operation, spend most of your day listening and transmitting on the DX sending frequency. On CW, if somebody calls on this frequency, right away, using your Vibroplex at 5 wpm, send: VP.. UG.. NP… UP (until you get it right).

This has three benefits:

A. Others waiting to work the DX station will be forever indebted to you for informing the offending station that the DX is working split.

B. The offending station will be grateful.

C. You will get some needed code practice so you can get over that 5 wpm hump.

Rule Number 2 – (For those with CW and Voice memory keyers, this will be easy). All you have to do is pre-program some macros with the words: “UP” and “LID.” For the more advanced operators, you can try “SPLIT” or “YOU IDIOT, WORKING SPLIT.” And don’t forget the simple, but effective “FU.”

Using the memory keyers for your days policing will save your voice. Should you happen, by chance, to have a QSO… you might need it.

Is DMR the Mass Adoption Phase Winner in Digital Voice?

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

There is no question that DMR technology for hams has moved past the early-adopter phase and is now well into the mass adoption phase. The combination of an open source protocol and the availability of inexpensive, mass-produced Chinese DMR radios (in some cases for as low as $109 with a color display and free programming software), has made this possible. In addition to inexpensive new radios, there are a number of used, first generation Motorola and Hytera DMR radios for sale in flea markets. These radios perform just as well as the current models, but have less memory.

D-STAR, Fusion, and to a lesser extent NXDN, are all established digital voice modes, and are not going away anytime soon, but in many areas they are not experiencing any meaningful growth when compared to DMR. This is especially true for the Northeast. In New England alone, there are close to 80 active DMR repeaters, and this number is growing every day.

Because of Yaesu offering repeaters for $500 for a period of time, there were a few installed in the area (in most cases replacing existing FM repeaters), but from my experience, it’s been extremely rare to find anyone using C4FM, and in some cases these repeaters are operating in just FM mode, so the digital part isn’t even an option. It’s hard to say exactly why Fusion or D-STAR hasn’t taken off, (last time I checked there were only 3 D-STAR repeaters in Maine), but it probably has a lot to do with price. D-STAR and Fusion radios aren’t cheap, and without some assurance that there will be a repeater within range to use them on, it’s hard to justify the cost.

Unlike the other modes, there is also something unforced and organic about DMR. Its cutting edge, and yet, it still feels like ham radio. A lot of members of our club were early adopters, and have also explored uses for DMR in both the EmComm environment, and for SKYWARN. For SKYWARN, especially, the DMR-MARC network has been an extremely useful tool to gather weather reports from areas that are outside the range of typical FM repeaters.

For more information about DMR, click here to check out our DMR Intro web page.