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

santa_ham

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.”

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?

dmr_banner

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.

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017

SRD_2017 Waylon McDonald KC1HJN (background) operates the HF station, while Eric Emery KC1HJK operates the VHF station at NWS Gray, ME

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, December 2nd, the WX1GYX team participated in SKYWARN Recognition Day from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Activities started at 8pm on Friday evening (0000Z Saturday), and continued for 24 hours.

Now in its 19th year, SKYWARN Recognition Day is a popular on-air activity that was developed by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017 was a fun event and perhaps our best so far! WX1GYX made 315 QSOs in total, on 4 different bands, including 44 different states, and 29 different NWS Offices/SKYWARN Clubs!

Operators included: K1GJY, KB1HNZ, KC1HJK, KC1HJN, & N1KTA

Among the 5 operators, there were three returning and two newly licensed hams, who were participating for the first time.

Thanks to everyone who got on the air during SRD, and also to those who contributed throughout the year!

Electronics Course in Kennebunk

In early 2018, the New England Radio Discussion Society will sponsor a free, basic course on electricity and electronics for Radio Amateurs and interested community members.  Course attendees will meet at the New School in Kennebunk every two weeks in the evenings for two-hour sessions with 45-minute review discussions on alternate weeks.

Alex Mendelsohn will conduct classroom sessions with adjuncts providing presentations to enhance course material. For more information and scheduling, contact Alex at alexmm@roadrunner.com or 967-8812.

Youth CW Academy Pilot Program

by Rob Brownstein, K6RB

The Youth CW Academy program has been brewing for about two years, now, and it is finally ready to be launched. CWops is sponsoring a CW Academy program aimed squarely at young people. The pilot program will begin in January 2018.

For the last 50 years, ham radio has been ageing. The average age of a licensed operator is now above 60 years old. In contrast, back in 1960, the average age was just below 30. The ARRL points to the increased number of licensees, these days, but the real question is how many remain committed to radio? The HF bands are notable for the decline in daytime activity with the exception of DXpedition pileups and contests.

True, young people have many distractions in their daily lives – school, social media, smartphones, games – so for years the appeal of ham radio among the youth has been waning. Teenagers, today, are not wowed by wireless communications the way we baby boomers were wowed. Nearly all of them have a wireless transceiver in a pocket. So, 2 meter handi-talkies, repeaters and the like have little long-lasting appeal. And, frankly, neither does HF phone or RTTY.

We have found that a reasonable number of teens and sub-teens, however, are attracted to CW. It shares many of the qualities of texting, which is something a lot of them do, routinely. So, the time appears ripe to entice young folks to ham radio by virtue of its Morse Code heritage rather than the now jaded magic of wireless technology. Does it really matter why they may flock to HF CW? The truth is if we can get a sizable number of kids on the air, on HF, using CW, we have a shot at rejuvenating a hobby that would otherwise be unlikely to exist in 25 years.

So, here’s our chance to embellish CWops’ already noteworthy CW mentoring efforts by launching a program expressly for young people between the ages of 11 and 19.

The Plan

In the short term, Youth CW Academy will borrow from our very successful CW Academy Level 1 program and offer a Level 1 for kids. The syllabus will be essentially the same but the makeup of the groups will be different. Here, in addition to grouping by time zone the students will also be grouped by age zones. There will be three such zones: 11-13, 14-16, 17-19. Ideally, no student will be in a group with someone more than two years younger or older. From the beginning, they will be encouraged to work in teams. The goal will be to impart CW skills and build groups of young ham friends. The pilot programs will be exclusive to already-licensed applicants – especially no-code technician licensees. Later manifestations will be also include unlicensed applicants who will learn CW skills and license-test knowledge, simultaneously.

For the first pilot program – Jan-Feb 2018 – we will try to establish up to five groups of five students, 25 students in total. There will be enough advisors, for now, to handle that many groups. We will repeat the pilot program, again, in April and May 2018. Then, over the summer, we will roll out (hopefully) a full-blown program that includes both licensed and unlicensed applicants. In addition, the full-blown program will include an equipment loaner program so that graduates will be able to get on the air right after graduating. For students who already have equipment, we will just mentor them to get them up to speed. For those who cannot afford equipment, we will offer a loaner program that includes donated HF radios and club-provided portable HF antennas.

Moving Forward

We will begin accepting applicants from 15 November through 15 December. The application should be emailed during that period. Applications should be emailed to: k6rb58@gmail.com and the header Youth CWA should be used for easy spotting. The information should include the following:

First and last name
Call sign and license type (e.g. tech, general, extra)
Age
Time zone (EST, CST, MST or PST)
Email address
Telephone number

For now, applicants will be restricted to North America (US/Canada). When we begin adding license-test preparation, non-licensed applicants will be restricted to US applicants while we expand the test-preparation program.

How You Can Help

If you know some young licensees between the ages of 11 and 19, let them know about the Youth CWA program, and encourage them to apply. If you are interested in advising a YCWA group, let me know (k6rb58@gmail.com). If you are interested in mentoring graduates to help them get up to speed on the air (helping to set up stations and antennas), let me know that, too.

We hope to begin a loaner program by Sep-Oct 2018. Toward that end, anyone who has a working HF rig capable of CW operation, preferably 100 watts power, please let me know that, too. I am planning to establish a non-profit entity for rig donations that will allow for a modest tax write-off for your donated gear.

Please email me with any questions you may have about the pilot program.

WSSM at the South Portland Fire Department Open House

spfd_wssm_booth

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, October 14th, WSSM members, including Rory McEwen KB1PLY, Charlie Shepard W1CPS, and Tim Watson KB1HNZ, set up a display table and a portable HF station during the annual South Portland Fire Department Open House.

The event, which took place at the Western Avenue Fire Station, featured fire trucks on display, including a fully extended ladder unit, an ambulance, demonstrations of the jaws of life, food, activities, and more.

The Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA), and several local businesses also had displays. There were lots of kids having fun, climbing in the trucks, and the many families were enjoying the beautiful fall day.

The WSSM team setup an HF radio, using a BuddiPole antenna, for on-air activities, and made a good demonstration of the hobby for the curious onlookers. There were also some other radios on display, including an Icom IC706MKIIG, which is used during SOTA and other portable operations, as well as some of the other equipment used, including SLA batteries of various sizes. Intro to ham radio handouts and club information was also available.

spfd_mascots

The highlights of the day occurred when mascots from two of the local sports teams stopped by to play a little radio.

 

Maine SET is October 28th

8am-1pm

SET_2017

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, October 28th, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team, which meets monthly in Windham, will participate in a statewide drill to test their communications capabilities between various different sites throughout Cumberland County and the state. The drill, known as the Simulated Emergency Test, or SET, is an annual exercise, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, which encourages amateur radio operators from across the country test their communications skills during a mock disaster.

During the SET, hams are required to quickly establish communications between various Emergency Operations Centers and exchange formal messages and traffic, which contain requests for supplies, medical or weather information, or other things that may be of importance during a disaster. They do this via voice, Morse code, and digital two-way radio, on bands ranging from HF to UHF, as required.

“The scenario for this year is an ice storm, which is a real possibility in Maine,” says Rory McEwen, of Saco. Rory is president of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, which provides communications support for Cumberland County EMA, as well as the National Weather Service. “The SET tests how we respond during large-scale disasters, where commercial infrastructure has failed. In these events, hams are often the only source of communications.”

“The hams in our club are a dedicated group,” adds Thom Watson, one of the founders of the club. “Amateur radio has a long history of volunteerism. Sure, it’s a hobby and there’s some fun things that we do like mountaintop expeditions or competitive events like contesting, but so many like to stay sharp by providing support for charity walks and community events, and drills like this, so they’ll be ready to offer their time and expertise when disaster strikes.”

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is participating in the SET for the third time. “The first time we participated was only a few days after we formally established a partnership with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, so we weren’t very organized yet,” says McEwen. “but last year went really well, and we have a solid plan and a list of goals to accomplish for 2017.”

After the event, the participants will do an assessment to determine how well they performed and look for areas to improve on. “There’s always new things to learn and ways to improve,” says McEwen. “But the important thing to know is that we’ll be ready to help.”

For more information about amateur radio, or the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, please visit their website at:

http://www.mainehamradio.com