Hellgate Static

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January 2008

W7PX

http://www.users.qwest.net/~k7vk/

Next meeting is January 14, 2008

At St. Patrick Hospital Meeting Room

1900

 

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Hellgate Amateur Radio Club

P.O. Box 3811

Missoula, MT. 59806-3811

HARC Board of Directors

Club President, W4YMA, Bill Farrell at billfarrell@hotmail.com
Vice-president, AC7UZ, Lewis Ball at ac7uz@blackfoot.net

Treasurer, N7GE, Jerry Ehli at jehli@modernmachinery.com

Secretary, KE7IZG, Mike Leary at michael.leary@umontana.edu

 


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MY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS’ MESSAGE TO THE HARC

 

I wish you all the Merriest Christmas and the most Joyful and successful New Year coming. I look forward to working with you all and to give my all for the Club’s success and growth.

 

Thank you for the faith you put in me to continue the club’s good works.

 

Bill,

W4YMA

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BRAVO GORDON

The newest Missoula ham passed his technician examination last night and he is just 10!  Wow.   Congratulations to KE7QIR, Gordon Martin, harmonic of K7SAX, Nate. 

 

Volunteer examiners were N7MSU Bob, K7PX Steve and K7VK Vick.  Our next examination session is January 14, 2008.

 

73,

Vick       K7VK


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SNOW CAVE COMMO

K7PX, Steve and fellow caver Tom skied away from Lolo Pass Saturday and dug a snow cave at 5500' in over 7 feet of snow.  There they relayed status updates to their wives via K7VK on 2 meters, the 146.96 repeater.  K7VK had to use simplex as he can hear, but not access that repeater.  K7PX from within the snow cave was easily able to access 96 repeater and at a range of over 30 miles hear K7VK simplex.  Cool, eh!    

Vick    K7VK

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SIX METER NEWS

In "the World Above 50 MHZ", January QST, are listed W7KNT John & W7GJ Lance.   W7KNT received DXCC #862, the first awardee in the Northwest for 100 countries on six meters, using sporadic E and F2 propagation.  received DXCC #815 being the first awardee in the Northwest for 100 countries on six meters using some Earth-Moon-Earth(EME) contacts.  Congratulations to them!

Vick    K7VK

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UPDATES ON BPL CONCERNS IN MISSOULA

Hello Vick:
      Sorry for the delay but I've had the crud that has been going around the valley. After some research and not much info locally I have found this much out. Bridge Maxx is NOT BPL. They do have a modem that plugs into the AC mains. However that is to power it only. They are operating up in the 2 GhZ range with their antenna up on Dean Stone Mtn. So I hope that is useful info. With all the growth in the valleys we may yet see BPL implemented someday. But for now we are not affected.

73 Mike N7WKR

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H.A.R.C. DUES ARE DUE! 

PLEASE SEE JERRY, N7GE TO GET OFF THE BAD LIST!

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ARRL Club Newsletter
December 14, 2007

Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, Editor

Remember When? Remember Now.
By Norm Fusaro, W3IZ

At one time or another we have all drifted back to happier, simpler times to help ease the stresses of life.  While many professionals
might agree that an occasional trip down memory lane is healthy and often therapeutic, few would recommend that we live in the past.  Our human brains are wired to remember things that are comforting and suppress unpleasant memories.  That is why we tend to use phrases like "the good old days" even if the time in reference was peppered with hardship.

Depending on how you look at it, ham radio like the automobile, has either hardly changed over the last 100 years or has advanced
dramatically because of technological progress.  Today's automobiles are loaded with safety features and convenience gimmicks yet the basic car is still a wheeled vehicle that burns fossil fuel in an internal combustion engine in order to transport passengers from
point A to point B.  In comparison radio operators still modulate and demodulate electromagnetic signals to communicate with stations near and far.  Computer processing and micro electronics play a big part in how these illustrations have evolved, but have things really changed?

Amateur Radio is just one of many sectors where we see state-of-the-art technology blended with traditional concepts. A trip to any marina will find modern sailboats made from composite materials and loaded with the latest navigational electronic devices but the basic component, harnessing energy from the wind to propel a vessel, has not changed in the thousands of years since its discovery.  I am sure that you can think of your own examples where the application of modern technology has reshaped an old-fashioned idea, but the point is that while it is nice to remember and replicate things from the past, we live in the present. 

Many people have an image of Amateur Radio as a nostalgic remembrance of another time when radio seemed to be magical when in fact it has always been cutting edge and futuristic.  This portrayal of ham radio is reinforced by radio amateurs themselves through their reluctance to accept change and their insistence on preserving old technologies.  The propensity to look back is not as prevalent in other activities as it is in Amateur Radio.  When I go fishing I don't run into any anglers sporting woven rattan creels and bamboo fishing poles yet there is not a day that goes by when I am not reminded that "real radios glow in the dark" or some other witty reference to bygone times. How far back do we want to go to be authentic before it becomes absurd?  "If it ain't spark it ain't radio?"

Years ago companies like Heath provided a way for many to get involved with Amateur Radio through kit building.  The radio kit was
less expensive than factory produced gear and, depending on the skill level of the builder, the finished products performed pretty well.
Maintenance and repairs were easily performed because the builder had an intimate knowledge of the circuitry.  Today, mass production and robotic manufacturing processes help drive down the cost of electronic equipment and in many situations make replacing a device more cost effective than repairing it. A current manufacturer of Amateur Radio that started life as a kit company quickly experienced a similar evolution.  After a few short years of producing kits, the company found that they could offer a better product at a lower cost by providing assembled circuit boards populated with surface mount components.  Assembly is a matter of plugging-in boards and configuring systems similar to how a computer is built.  Digital electronics has allowed the experimenter to trade-in the soldering iron for computer software codes and the term home-brewing, once a common ham radio activity, has now given way to a more descriptive phrase -- soft-brewing.

Developers like Joe Taylor, K1JT have completely re-written the rules when it comes to EME, meteor scatter and other exotic digital modes once reserved for the eccentric radio amateur. Today many hams employ WSJT software with modest stations to ricochet information to one another via the lunar surface.  Other software experimenters are developing new modes and tools for the radio amateur to exploit the power of digital processing.  Commercial interests are able to offer feature packed equipment that is relatively less expensive than gear offered in the past, and hams are finding applications for this stuff that could only be imagined a short time ago. 

Amateur radio has many examples of innovation and creativity.  Sometimes an idea can be ahead of its time.  Take for instance an
article that appeared in the July 1934 issue of QST that suggested "International Round Table Nets and Globe Circling Relays" using an elaborate network of tape machines and relays to remotely control HF stations as far as 200 miles away so that the ARRL broadcast could be made simultaneously in all 48 United States.  We are able to do that exact thing today using Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) but there are some who will argue that this is not "real" radio. Phooey! 

ARRL founder Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW was a forward thinker who moved in the same circles as Edison, Ford and Firestone, people who changed our world.  Maxim was innovative and has many inventions to his credit.  When the spark gap transmitter used at Maxim's station 1AW, could no longer generate radio signals it was replaced by a modern transmitter that used vacuum tubes.  When asked if there were plans to repair the spark gap transmitter Maxim acknowledged the position of employing modern technology when he remarked "The voice of the spark set at 1AW will not be heard again." (QST, January 1923, pg 14)

Maxim was always looking beyond the horizon.  Displayed in a showcase at ARRL headquarters is the Elser-Mathis cup.  This trophy was inspired by Col Fred Johnson Elser, W6FB and SCM Lt Cmdr Stanley Mathes, K1CY after Elser learned of Maxim's fascination with the planet Mars.  The unique wooden cup is waiting to be awarded to any radio amateur for the first Amateur Radio Contact between Earth and Mars.  I am certain that "tongue may have been firmly planted in cheek" when this award was conceived but I believe that this trophy may be awarded to some radio amateur in my lifetime. 

I would like to think that if Mr. Maxim were here today he would be very happy to see that Amateur Radio and the ARRL have stood the test of time and continue to attract newcomers to the hobby nearly 100 years since the League was founded.  However I would not be surprised if The Old Man shook his head in bewilderment to find that we have spent much time and energy worshiping the past instead of looking ahead to the future. 

It may be comforting to stroll down memory lane and fire up the vintage radio for the evening. The warm glow of the tubes and the refreshing aroma of heat radiating from the chassis will create soothing reflections and transport you back to a time when there was
no internet, e-mail or cell phones.  As you blow smoke rings from your briarwood pipe and replicate the authenticity of what you refer
to as "real radio," try to remember that the icons of technology that you pay homage to were once state-of-the-art, modern appliances that filled the dreams of many.  As much as Amateur Radio owes to its past, adoration of vintage radio should not take away from Amateur Radio's future.

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NORTHWEST REGIONAL DIVISION NEWSLETTER

JANUARY 2008

Dear Northwestern Division ARRL Members,

It's been quite a while since I updated you on events and issues in the Northwestern Division and ARRL in general.  The combination of work, hamfests, bicycle training, and other activities keep me quite busy.  I actually found some time for on-the-air activity!

Since Spring, I rode my bicycle over 1,500 miles and participated in the Seattle to Portland (STP) bicycle classic in July.  The STP was a mere 204 mile ride over two days.  Next year, I'll take a handheld along to talk to folks as I pass through the various locales.  My wife Shirley, KE7CBH, mandates that I WILL ride again 2008!

Both Vice Director Sawders and I continue to participate as members of influential committees at HQ.  Bill was appointed to the Administrative and Finance Committee and I was elected to the Executive Committee by my fellow board members.

In addition, I serve as a board member on the ARRL Foundation.  Approximately 60 students received scholarships including a 4-year
scholarship for one deserving ham.  As you receive mailings from the Foundation, don't forget the scholarship program as you make your benefactor decisions.

AMATEUR RADIO SUPPORTS COMMUNITIES DURING THE DECEMBER 2007 STORMS IN OR AND WA:   Thanks to all who assisted with communication work during the rainstorms and subsequent flooding earlier this month.  Along with providing much needed assistance to the communities affected, the Amateur Radio Service received some excellent praise from local and state authorities in both Washington and Oregon. The Amateur Radio community really came through and our ability to be of service to our
fellow man was recognized.  This is the reason the Amateur Radio Service exists.  Thanks again to those who participated in this
emergency situation.  The February 2008 edition of QST on page 12 quotes many positive comments about service to our communities during this storm.

LICENSING:  Almost a year has passed since the FCC eliminated CW as a requirement for licensing.  Some are against this action; some are for; some don't care.  But, there are more hams on the air and the old timers need to mentor them just as we were mentored when we began experiencing this wonderful hobby.    Thanks to all who encouraged both new and experienced folks to join our organization. 

ARRL MEMBERSHIP
:  Speaking about prospering, the statistics regarding ARRL Membership continue to be positive.  In the past year, ARRL membership has grown by 3.5% with the Northwestern Division leading other Divisions with a 5.9% growth.  Many of these new members are recently licensed hams.  Thanks to all of you for encouraging their entrance into the Amateur Radio service and for the mentoring you are doing to teach them how we enjoy and learn the radio craft.   At the board meeting in July, we established a goal of an additional 30,000 new licensees during the next year.  Let's get those folks who have an interest in Amateur Radio motivated.

HAMFESTS :  We attended a number of hamfests, conventions and clubs this year.  It was great to say HI to a number of you at the Division Convention at Seaside, OR in June.    In July, the WIMU (Wyoming-Idaho-Montana-Utah) convention allowed us to meet a number of members in the eastern regions of the division.  Moving into fall, we spent time at the Pacific Northwest DX Convention, where I met many more members including Eric Martin K7ABV from Great Falls, MT.  Eric and I have had QSO's for the better part of 40 years and it was a pleasure to meet him in person after all of these years.  Finally, we closed out the hamfest season visiting the Washington State Convention in Spokane, North Kitsap Hamfest in Silverdale, and the VHF/UHF Convention in Bend, OR.   We look forward to venturing into all the sections in 2008.   Both Bill and I welcome the chance to speak to individual clubs and gatherings.  Please e-mail us regarding dates and places.  Since I still hold down a full-time job, it is tough to get away during the week.  However, let's see what can be scheduled. Please mark May 30 -- June 1 on your calendars.  These are the dates of the Northwestern Division Convention in Seaside, OR.  Nearly 2,500 folks attended last year.

RED CROSS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU):  Some of you have heard and made comments regarding the controversial American Red Cross directive with which the ARRL has taken exception.  This newly announced policy allows a third-party firm hired by the Red Cross to request Police Checks but also financial and "mode of Living" inquiries.  The board went on record to inform members about this policy and the implications of signing the Red Cross form.  Remember, the Red Cross will utilize our communication services for up to 7 days without requiring this background and financial investigation.  We understand that both Red Cross staff and other serving agencies also disagree with this global investigation.  So...make your decision with full knowledge of potential consequences.  In the meantime, the ARRL is working to update the MOU with the Red Cross which expired mid-year. As of this e-mail, the ARC has not responded to our request to re-open negotiations.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION:  As I noted in my last newsletter, the ARRL's Legislative Action program is getting started.  Stephen Kangas, W9SK (ex- AE7SK) has agreed to be the focal person for this activity.  This program is just getting started  and I expect that we will be asked to participate in legislative activities this winter.  Thanks to the 35 or so members who are currently signed on as Legislative Action Assistants in their various locales.

REGULATION BY BANDWIDTH:  Another issue that has been in the mainstream is the Regulation by Bandwidth proposal perhaps better known as RM-11306.  This proposal, first filed with the FCC in 2005, seeks to regulate band use by bandwidth of the transmitted signal rather than by mode.  A number of negative comments showed a lack of understanding of the petition.  In the spring, a modified proposal for 10 meters and up was proposed.   This proposal was subsequently withdrawn in late-spring.  Although the concept is sound, I believe that the ARRL and leadership did a less than stellar job of explaining the merits and rationale of the proposal.  At the July Board meeting, the directors chose to defer additional comments and better explain the proposal until some future date.  Lamar Ray WA7LT agrees with the proposal as something that will allow flexibility in the future as new modes are invented.  Ward Silver, N0AX notes the need for good behavior by hams if and when the proposal is adopted.  Larry Wassman W3OZ is concerned about the impact of bandwidth on the hi-fi SSB experimenters.  Others are concerned about a proliferation of digital robots across the bands.  One thing on which you can bank on, I won't vote for a re-filing until a top notch marketing program explaining of the concept is developed and publicized.   Not all will agree but a consensus will, I'm positive, be reached.   Stay tuned...
 
RECOGNITION OF NORTHWESTERN DISIVSION MEMBERS :  During the first part of the year, two Northwestern Division members were recognized for their contributions to our avocation.  First, Roy Lewallen W7EL was named a member of the CQ Hall of Fame for his work in developing the ELNEC propagation system.  Roy and I worked about 50 feet apart during our Tektronix days and I remember his enthusiasm during the early days of the program's development.  In addition, Rick Campbell, KK7B received the prestigious Bill Orr Award for technical writing.  Rick wrote a series of articles in QST relating to the MicroT2 Transmitter and MicroR2 receiver  (see page 66 in February 2008 QST).  Congratulations to both Roy and Rick!

THANKS AND WELCOMES:  There have two changes in the Northwestern Division Section leadership in 2007.  Thanks to Ed Bruette N7NVP (WWA) and David Stevens KL7EB (AK) for their leadership as Section Managers during the past few years.  These positions are among the toughest in the ARRL hierarchy and I value their contributions.  Welcome to new Section Managers Jim Pace K7CEX and Jim Larsen AL7FS.  Both Jim's (that is a good name!) have good and solid divisions thanks to Ed and David.  Please support their efforts as we move forward.    K7CEX certainly had a baptism by fire (or was it water) during December as noted by
comments above.   Jim lives in Centralia, WA, the center of the storm and resultant flooding last month.  The ARES organizations in WWA and OR were stellar performers during this event and receive accolades from the governors in both Oregon and Washington.   Thanks to Bonnie and Jim and congratulations to your section organizations for a job well done. In addition, Doug Rich W7DVR (ID), Doug Dunn K7YD (MT), Bonnie Altus AB7ZQ (OR) and Mark Tharp KB7HDX (EWA) will continue providing leadership in their respective sections.  Thanks,  too, for your time and energies leading your sections to work together and prosper.

SURVEY:  I am working, along with other Directors, to develop a membership survey for the Northwestern Division.   It is hoped to
distribute this document in the spring.  In the meantime, I would like to hear from you regarding how Bill and I can better support Radio Amateurs in the Northwestern Division.  Please forward your comments to the e-mail address below.

THANKS:  Thanks again for your support of Amateur Radio in general and in the ARRL in particular.  Both Vice Director Bill Sawders K7ZM and I wish you the best for the New Year.  We look forward to meeting you at hamfests and club meeting.

73

Jim Fenstermaker K9JF  K9JF@arrl.org                                            Bill Sawders K7ZM  K7ZM@arrl.org
ARRL Northwestern Division                                                            ARRL Northwestern Division
Director                                                                                                  Vice Director
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from ARRL CONTEST RATE SHEET

JANUARY 9, 2007

Ward Silver, N0AX

TECHNICAL TIPS AND INFORMATION
Vactrols are often specified as variable resistances for terminating receive antennas, but they can be hard to find and may be fragile.
Dave KB8NNU seized the day and made his own with a standard photo cell that you can get at RadioShack (http://radioshack.com) and a super-bright (1100mcd) LED.  1" of 3/8"-diameter black rubber vacuum hose works great to hold both parts in alignment.  Dave uses a variable voltage to control the intensity of the LED, that in turn changes the photo cell's resistance.  In this way he can also "tune" his K9AY loop's front-to-back ratio from the comfort of his shack rather than traipsing out in the gelid weather to fiddle with frozen fingers.

Another small (7' turning radius) rotatable, variable-termination flag antenna design http://www.n3ox.net/projects/flag from Dan N3OX has generated some interest. The variable termination changes nulls on stations on groundwave vs. different distances and presumably different arrival angles.

Giving in to the multifarious loopiness of low-band contesting, Dave K8CC offers the following link to a presentation by the K9AY loop's designer - http://tinyurl.com/ytyxco.  Ron W8RU contributed this interesting design http://taliaphoto.com/n4is/waller/BIG_DUAL_LOOP.html.  Rick N6RK has updated an under-used small-loop feed system at
http://www.n6rk.com/160RXloop.jpg . The 4' diameter was chosen because this was originally a 2.5 MHz loop for receiving WWV.  For 160 meters, a somewhat bigger loop would provide more output. In contrast, both Tim K3LR and Greg K8GL relate that a low dipole (about 5' above the ground) can also be an effective receive antenna.

Kevin KF7CN notes that while tracking down RF interference from audio and video equipment, including computer monitors, be sure to check the quality of interconnecting cables. Using a cable with good shielding and metal connectors is a good and inexpensive first step. Different interfaces can also change the interference level. He reports changing from VGA to DVI eliminated a great deal of
monitor-generated noise.  Starting with the cables may be an inexpensive first step in cleaning up a noisy (or noise-prone) installation.  Fred WA7TZY has discovered that to get a linear power supply replacement for noisy switching supplies (especially low-voltage lighting units), you need to request a "coil and core" unit, since "transformer" is used generically for all power supplies.  He says the weight of the unit indicates whether or not it contains a real transformer.

Using feed line length to control phase in an all-driven array is not as simple as it often seems.  The electrical length of the line is
not necessarily the amount of phase shift that occurs in feedpoint current. The amplitude of current out of the phasing line is usually
different than the input current, too. Roy W7EL's excellent article on the subject from the ARRL's Antenna Compendium, Vol 2 is on-line at Roy's EZNEC Web site http://www.eznec.com/Amateur/Articles/Simpfeed.pdf .  It's worth the time to read carefully. (Thanks, Jim W6RMK)

If you have problems with twin-lead or window line vibrating in the wind, try twisting the line once per foot or so.  This helps keep the line from acting like a wing.  This will not prevent the entire line from moving around in the wind - just the annoying flutter.  Don't twist the line so much that it wants to collapse the conductors together! If the copper-clad conductors in the line are too stiff or
if you have problems with the cladding, try the ladder-line with all-copper wires from http://www.w7fg.net. (Thanks, Charles W2SH and others)

As Dave K6LL instructs, it's easy to measure a beam's front-to-back ratio without assuming any s-meter calibration or linearity.
                1. Have a local ham friend 500 meters or more away transmit a carrier.
                2. Turn the back of the beam toward your friend.
                3. Note the s-meter reading.
                4. Turn the beam toward your friend.
                5. Crank in attenuators until the s-meter returns to the original reading.
                6. Read the f/b ratio from the attenuator setting.
Remember that f/b ratio changes with elevation angle, so not all signals will be rejected equally.

John K9MM reports good luck removing oxidation from normal stranded hard-drawn copper wire using a product called "Copper Glo Liquid". http://barkeepersfriend.com/copper%20glo.htm On wire that has been exposed to the elements for years it takes awhile to work and more than one application may be required.

If you have access to bamboo poles, you might be interested in the recent discussion on bamboo on the Towertalk reflector
(http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/Towertalk). There are also Web articles on building bamboo fly rods, such as
http://globalflyfisher.com/rodbuilding/bamboo1/index.php Fly rod makers are concerned about strength and flexibility - useful
attributes for antenna supports, as well. (Thanks, Rich NU6T)

Larry N7DF's son did a Science Fair project using a "Dr. Gauss" EMF detector http://www.johnleemd.com/store/more_gauss.html and discovered that it could detect my buried coax from the 60 Hz EMF along its length, even when the coax was disconnected from the radio we could get a reading.

And if you're in need of a variable high-voltage power supply, Gerald K5GW points out that supplies and components for microwave ovens are quite inexpensive.  Add a Variac adjustable transformer and you can control the output voltage.

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IS THIS FREQUENCY IN USE?

We hope the HELLGATE STATIC was interesting for you this month.  Let us know if this newsletter is to your acceptance.  So far, I’ve only heard good things.  If there is something YOU would like to see, or that you feel is overdone, please let me know.  This is the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club newsletter, not mine!  If you have something (even a simple one-liner) please write to me at our address or e-mail me (Craig, KE7NO) at twincreek@blackfoot.net.

 

Happy New Year to you all and I hope there was something above that was worth your time to read it.  As you can tell, I didn’t write anything this month (with this paragraph being excluded).  That means I need to get it from somewhere (mostly ARRL mailings) or from our members (as always thank you again Vick!).  If you would like to see me include info on some other part of the hobby, let me know and I will make my best attempt to capture it and get it into the Hellgate Static.

 

My thanks to the “previous administration” of the Hellgate ARC and as for the next group of officers, I hope that we all can help you improve the club.