News

NC SECTION NEWSLETTER

NOVEMBER 15, 2020

Greetings from the High Country, where low temperatures will begin dropping into the upper 20’s for several days this week.  Although we had significant rain earlier in the week, communities down off the mountain had severe flooding.  Some areas received as much as 7 inches of rain. Tragically, five members of a family lost their lives at a camp ground in Alexander County and one youngster died in the flooding in Wake County.  

River levels continue to be high in Eastern and Southeastern North Carolina as the floodwaters move through the river systems in-route to the ocean.   I saw that the storm caused Jordan Lake in Chatham County to rise 5.5 feet from its normal pool level of 216 ft amsl..  Considering that the Lake covers 16,000 acres that is a lot of water.  Two days ago, the Lookout Shoals Dam on the Catawba River near Hickory had four gates open and was releasing water at the rate of 33,900 cubic feet per second.  That, too, is a lot of water.

GIVING VETERANS THEIR DUE

November 11 each year is set aside for Americans to say thank you for the service and sacrifices made by our Veterans.  They left their homes, families, and jobs as volunteers or when called. Their service over nearly 250 years of American history allowed our country to become more just an idea which tyrants tried hard to stomp out.  Thank you to each Veteran for your service.

HAM CLUB MATTERS

Compliments go out to Tim Slay, N4IB, for organizing our first virtual meeting of Club Presidents and Program Chairs this past week on November 11.   About a dozen clubs participated in the Zoom meeting.  Ideas about keeping clubs active and vital were exchanged and a number of common problems were identified.  Tim will soon distribute a summary of the meeting.  If you want a copy or if you desire to be advised of our next meeting, please contact Tim at n4ib@arrl.org.  We decided to schedule a second meeting in February.

One of the ideas coming from the meeting was to encourage the exchange of newsletters among clubs since many of the clubs have similar concerns. 

Also, there was a very good discussion of how Zoom meetings have allowed clubs to reach out to guest speakers during the COVID-19 restrictions.  Riley Hollingsworth spoke to a couple of NC clubs about the ARRL Volunteer Monitor program and another club has arranged for Bob Heil to speak to their club in the near future.   

If you want a ready-to-go presentation for a club meeting, here are a couple of suggestions. 

This past week, Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, retired instructor at the US Naval Academy, gave a talk at a Section Managers Zoom Meeting concerning Emergency Power for ham stations during which 150 hams participated.  

I found parts of the Bob Bruninga’s talk very interesting, particularly where he showed that all hybrid electric vehicles have the ability to generate 50 kilowatts of power that can be used to power ham equipment during widespread power outages.  He also spoke about a number of choices available for homes using solar power and high efficiency heat pumps.  If you want to view the talk, go to https://vimeo.com/user107547861/download/478779727/7c28d9a52c .  Documents from the meeting are found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/cyp1c9azn8cf8o5/AABEPGFXBmbLOH31ShAn0qBFa?dl=0 .

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?

You have probably heard of Bob Bruninga,  He developed APRS while teaching a computer science class at the Naval Academy(25 years ago) when he challenged his students to track the movement of the championship trophy being taken from Annapolis to the Army-Navy Football game in Philadelphia. Lately he has become a champion of solar power.

Most hams know of the excellent microphones and headsets that carry the Heil Sound logo.  What is likely less known is that Bob Heil has been recognized for his remarkable contributions to the music industry that involve his sound systems.  Bob’s equipment is exhibited in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   He collaborated with some of the greatest musicians in the 1970’s.  A video that discusses his unique ham radio and music career can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=UBI9LOSeKFA.

OTHER CLUB PROGRAM TOPICS

Section Manager Zoom meetings in recent months have covered a variety of topics including setting up and using Winlink, NVIS antenna propagation and the relatively new digital messaging service called VARA.  Let me know if you want links to any of these talks; they typically last about an hour but some go longer due to the large number of questions put to the presenter. 

Additional Section Manager Meetings have been scheduled which you  will be able to download for future club meetings.

18-Nov  Nano VNA (Vector Network Analyzer)

25-Nov Thanksgiving EveNo presentation

2-Dec   Band Plan

9-Dec   SDR 101 -Intro to Software Defined Radios

16-Dec  WA3FET Antenna

23-Dec  Noise Mitigation

30-Dec  ARRL Public Relations

19-Nov  RED CROSS Disaster drill follow up.

26-Nov Thanksgiving-no Zoom presentation

3-DecI  Introduction to Digital Voice, including IP Voice over Internet, Hotspots, DVMEGA Product presentation

10-Dec TBA (To be announced)

17-Dec  D-STAR HF –(Digital Voice on HF)

HAMFEST CANCELATIONS

In case you had not heard, the Orlando Hamcation, normally held in February, will not be held in 2021.  The Charlotte Hamfest, scheduled for March, has been canceled and will not be held in 2021.

REPEATER COSTS AND HAMFEST CANCELLATIONS

Several clubs have grown concerned that the cancellation of their hamfests will affect club operations since proceeds from the larger hamfests support a number of repeaters operated by the clubs.  Users of repeaters too often take for granted use of repeaters but, in truth, there are significant on-going expenses associated running repeaters. 

These costs can be considerable.  Repeaters require some maintenance.  Back up batteries need to be replaced and wind and ice can damage antennas and cables.  There may be site rentals and power bills. Some sites require that repeater owners carry liability insurance and some site owners may stipulate that only certified professional climbers are allowed on the tower.

Communications costs maybe significant at repeater sites.   Digital repeaters generally need internet access in order to be linked with other repeaters.  A telephone line is often needed (with a monthly cost) to access and reprogram a repeater controller.

Equipment upgrades may be desired.  Fancy linking systems may require controller upgrades.  Some clubs have added camera at their sites.   In the Pacific Northwest, in a couple of instances, video feeds from repeater sites alerted the Forest Service of forest fires before the fires were reported.

A growing problem is that there are fewer persons who are skilled in maintaining repeaters.  A poorly or mistuned duplexer will turn an excellent repeater into an alligator—all mouth and no ears—which will frustrate users.    If you think repeaters are expensive look at buying a good service monitor which may not be used all that often.

Another issue involves antennas.  Experience has shown that a high quality antenna is needed in order to survive high winds.  I know of a club that needed an antenna and chose one based on published gain rather than construction.  Nearly $500 was wasted when the fiberglass encased antenna snapped in two during the first winter storm. 

High quality repeater antennas are not cheap but the aggravation and cost of replacing an antenna on a mountaintop can be considerable.  A few weeks ago a club in the western part of the state rented a 60 foot bucket truck for a day in order to ready their site for the winter conditions that will soon arrive.

So, with all these costs, I hope that users will recognize their desire to help out the clubs and individuals that have provided the repeaters.

FCC MATTERS

The deadline is rapidly approaching for filing comments about the proposed $50 application fee that would apply whenever anyone files an application for a new, renewed or modified license or requests a vanity callsign.  Your comments are due no later than the end of business on Monday, November 16, and may be submitted electronically at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/     

Late on Saturday afternoon (11/14) a total of 3306 comments had been filed and 105 comments came from North Carolina.

The comments have been pretty much consistent in opposition to the fee.  Some ARRL leaders have indicated reluctance to come out against the proposed fee since they feel that the argument against a $50 fee that applies for a ten year license seems weak coming from owners of high power stations with tall antennas costing tens of thousands of dollars. However, the Executive Committee of the ARRL Board on October 22 voted to have the ARRL FCC lawyer file comments in opposition to the fee.  A news item on the ARRL webpage (arrl.org) describes how members can file comments.

Also on the FCC front, there still has been no final action taken by the Commission concerning several matters which have been pending for several years.  These include rule changes that would:

a.         remove the 300 baud rate limit on HF and allow PACTOR 4 which can be accommodated in the bandwidth needed by a SSB voice signal (2.8 KHz);

b.         designate specific sub-bands on HF for digital operation (to settle conflicts between digital operators and the SSB and CW operator community);

c.          grant voice privileges in the 75 and 40 meter bands for Technicians as well as RTTY and digital privileges on CW allocations on 80,40 and 15 meters.

In a separate matter, the ARRL has asked the FCC to reconsider a decision made by the Commission in early October which removed Amateur Radio as having a secondary allocation in the 3.3 to 3.5 GHz band.  The FCC directed amateur operation in that band to “sunset”.  The ARRL has asked the FCC to reconsider its ruling but it appears that with so much demand for spectrum coming from 5G and other devices there is little chance the FCC will reverse its ruling.     

ARRL MATTERS – AMATEUR RADIO PARITY ACT?

During a recent on-the-air visit with hams on the Outer Banks Repeater System, I was asked about the status of the Amateur Radio Parity Act. 

Many readers will remember that ARRL pulled out all the stops and pushed hard for about five years in its efforts to get the Congress to pass a law that would direct the FCC to adopt a rule (under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution) to set aside property restrictions on erecting ham radio antennas.  My predecessor, Karl Bowman, did Yeoman service at several hamfests in providing hams with letters for them to sign and then have the letters collected by the ARRL which then delivered the letters to members of Congress from each State in their offices in Washington.

My answer was not very helpful because, in truth, no information has come out in the past year concerning what the ARRL plans to do on this matter.  I have received no information whether the ARRL intends to seek legislation or an FCC rule pertaining to subdivision or property covenants limiting the ability of amateurs to erect antenna towers. 

Some think that it is futile to go up against home owners associations which have a very effective national lobbying and political action group.  Still others feel that a ham consider moving into a subdivision should have investigated whether antenna towers are permitted and, if not, the prospective purchaser should look elsewhere for a home because the premise underlying restrictive covenants is that everyone in the subdivision bought property with a common understanding of what the subdivision rules would be unless everyone in the subdivision agree to change the subdivision rules.

If you have concerns about the Amateur Radio Parity Act, you should contact Roanoke Division Director Bud Hippisley, W2RU (w2ru@arrl.org) and Bill Morine, N2COP (n2cop@ec.rr.com).  They are your representatives on the ARRL Board and they need to hear from members about this or any other policy matter.

At the October 22 meeting of the ARRL Executive Committee, it was decided that the January meeting of the ARRL Board would be held using virtual meeting technology instead of meeting in person.  Many of the Board members were reluctant to fly to Connecticut for their Annual Meeting.

CLUB VISITS     

Due to the on-going restrictions relating to COVID-19, I want to remind everyone that I am available to make brief comments as well as answering your questions during your club meeting.  I can do Zoom, WebEx and Echolink to reach out to any of the 110 clubs in North Carolina.  Drop me a note and if the time and date does not conflict with a prior commitment, I will be happy to visit with you.

LOUSY PROPAGATION FOR TARHEEL NET

Net Control Stations for the Tarheel Emergency, held each night at 7:30 p.m. on 3923 KHz, have reported great frustration with band conditions which have made communications within North Carolina difficult.  In ham talk, the band has been long which means that distant stations are easier to contact than closer ones. 

For example, last Monday night, I was to serve as Net Control and I heard no one on frequency when I asked for a signal report.  After several attempts with no response, I switched to my backup radio.  This gave no improvement and I continued calling for a signal report until about 7:40 p.m. I still heard no one on frequency.  However, I tuned down to 3913 where there were signals and I politely asked the three hams who seemed to be in a QSO to give me a signal report. One guy came back immediately and told me I was S9 in Wisconsin but he could not hear his friend who was 100 miles away.  Another ham in northern Wisconsin jumped in and said that he heard me but not the other two Wisconsin stations.

The Tarheel Net remains active and we hope that conditions soon will improve.  Meanwhile, the net control stations are asking stations to serve as relay stations and advise NCS about stations that NCS cannot hear.

On the other hand, QRZ News reports that Solar Cycle 25 has begun and HF daytime propagation is improving.

NET REPORTS

W4DNA submitted this data for October 2020.  The full report is posted each month on the NC ARRL webpage (ncarrl.org).  The ARRL mailing system makes it very difficult to include the spreadsheet in the form in which it was prepared by Dave.

W4DNA – NC Section Net Report – OCTOBER 2020
NETNMGRQNILISTEDPASSEDTIMESESSIONSTFC %
 
SECTION NETS 
CNKC4PGN4381531365946288.89%
CSNKV4WN13125246203196.00%
NCENW4DNA4061071065203199.07%
NCMNW3OJO38496924033195.83%
THENAE4MF452  60230 
 
LOCAL NETS 
CWTNN4CNX383565652031100.00%
ENCTNW4DNA116333314231100.00%
PCTNW4TTO214535320431100.00%
 
TOTAL 2524523500360527895.60%

SECTION APPOINTMENTS

Based on input from Dave Roy, W4DNA, NC Section Traffic Manager, I have appointed the following persons to serve as Net Managers.

Carolinas Net – John Garrou II, KC4PGN

Carolinas Slow Net – Ned Mellon, KV4WN

NC Morning Net – Joe Holler, W3OJO

Central Western Traffic  Net – John Trull, N4CNX

Piedmont Coastal Traffic Net – Joe Squashic, W4TTO

Tarheel Emergency Net – Mike Fagan, AE4MF

Appointment Certificates have been printed and will be distributed this week but I wish it would be possible to deliver them in person. 

TWO FRIENDS MOVE AWAY

Dave Houser, WA9OTP, and his wife, Alice, KI4CCD, have moved to Greenville TN to be closer to their family and to care for grandchildren.  On Thursday night, the Mayland Amateur Radio Club honored Dave for his untiring service to the club.  Many hams have met Dave as one of the SHARES HF Winlink course instructors.  Dave is a credentialed COML and held virtually every office in the Mayland Club.   In the EmComm world, David is a skilled operator who could always be counted on to step forward when the call went out for volunteers.  Whether it involved missionary work in South America or prison ministries, Dave and Alice have done more than their share. I will miss seeing them in the High Country.

SILENT KEYS

If you know of the death of a ham, please advise me so that I can arrange to have that person’s name and call listed in QST.  ARRL policy requires that I send a copy of an obituary published in a newspaper or by a funeral home.                                                                                                                              

CLOSING COMMENTS              

The Holiday Season will soon begin.  Thanksgiving will likely be very different than previous ones.  A lot of debate is occurring over whether to travel to see family who are far away.  The CDC is now warning that there is a risk associated whenever groups get together, even if they are family.  My daughter, who is an MD, says that the trend lines look bad and said she worries about the people traveling with the numerous opportunities to pick up viruses on gas pumps and at rest areas.  She strongly recommended that I get several bottles of hand sanitizer and to use it since a mask is not enough to stop the spread of the virus.

This is the 18th (twice a month) newsletter prepared since I became Section Manager on April 1. Your comments about the newsletter are very much appreciated.  I am also grateful for the friendships that sustain me in troubled times.  Despite the many ailments that we have as a society and the illnesses that some of my friends have, I am grateful for all the blessings that we have received, even when they are more than we deserve.


Marv, WA4NC

NC Section Manager

Boone

828 964 6626

Wa4nc@arrl.org