Hellgate Static

from the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club



September 2008



Next meeting is September 8, 2008

At City Fire Station #4, 3011 Latimer St.

1900 local

























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


Agenda            8/11/08

Call to order with roll call

Treasurer’s Report

Approval of minutes from last meeting

PROGRAM (Fire Station Solar )

Committee reports

Blackfoot River Cleanup



Old business as below

Notes on the outcome of the executive committee meeting 8/4/08
Attending: Bill Farrell, Lewis Ball, Michael Leary,
Informal meeting due to lack of people.
And this (lack of people) was discussed as a overall club problem.
Consensus, of what is on "our Plate" right now
            sales of the recently donated equipment,
            sale of the OLD Generator
            Getting the 501 Non-profit completed,
            completing the membership drive,
            getting QSL’s Out for Field Day and 4th of July,
            getting repeaters into the configuration the        committee envisioned as being the best for the   club,
            and finally getting space at Fort Missoula for an emergency station and storage of all the club’s   equipment.(Which needs to be inventoried)
These are all old business items that need closure before taking on a lot of other things at this time.

New Business

            SKY WARN in December
            Other new business?



We were short of operators this year but it worked out well thanks to W4YMA & K7vk. Between the 3 of us we covered it quite will although we sure could have used more help. It really takes 5 to cover it well and 6 wouldn't hurt.

Bill brought the repeater and set it up on a mountain overlooking the river with the help of a local with keys to the gates. However, for some reason I could not get into the repeater so we switched to simplex which worked really well. I had an antenna atop a 30 ft. pole which done the trick. I would suggest it for next year.

Vick and Bill moved back and forth between two locations one up river from base and one down river from base. I, AB0CY, was at the Pfisters which was home base. The purpose for the operators was for safety first in case anyone was injured. Then there were shuttle vehicles which delivered waders, rafters, divers and so forth. The operators called into base if someone needed to be delivered or picked up. Also if there was trash or boats to be moved or picked up. In other words for whatever communications were needed. The Fish, Game and Wildlife supplied me with a handheld so I could monitor and communicate with them and I did so. Of course, they are on different freq's. Next year we need to expand the coverage to start at Whitaker bridge down stream to Wisherd bridge which will require 7 operators to do it right.

Again, thanks to Bill and Vick it was successful and rewarding. A good time was had as well as an excellent lunch. Next year I will not coordinate the radio activities and Bill Farrell, W4YMA, has said he will. Good luck Bill and thanks.

Russ Westberg AB0CY



On August 11, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the cost of an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will increase 60 cents, from $11.70 to $12.30. Now that notice of the increase has been published in the Federal Register, the increase will take
effect in 30 days, September 25, 2008.

The FCC is authorized by the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended, to collect vanity call sign fees to recover the costs associated with that program. The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new 10 year term.

The notice in the August 26, 2008 Federal Register, entitled "Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2008,"
includes regulatory fees expected to recover a total of $312,000,000 during FY2008, encompassing all the services the FCC regulates.

More information is available at, http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/08/11/10257/?nc=1.


By Walter Maxwell, W2DU

 In 1948 I was the consulting engineer for the proposed first AM broadcast station in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, that resulted in a construction permit and license for WCEN, 500 watts on 1150 KHz. Using a National HRO receiver, I was performing a hands-on search for an available frequency for the new station, when I encountered an interesting and unusual signal that was entirely out of place in the AM broadcast band-a CW Morse-code station illegally transmitting five-letter-word code groups at 30 words per minute. The illegal signal was S9 +40 dB on 1297.8 KHz, producing a 2200 Hz beat-note with the 1300 KHz frequency of WOOD, Grand Rapids, thus producing a an audible CW signal with the receiver BFO disabled.


The format of the coded messages appeared to be military, IDing as NSS. We know that NSS is the flagship station of the U.S. Navy in Annapolis, MD, but in the AM broadcast band? It appeared that either an NSS transmitter was producing a spurious emission, or a station using NSS as a fraudulent call sign was operating clandestinely in the AM broadcast band. I deemed it important to find out which.


As a former FCC monitoring officer at the Allegan, Michigan monitoring station, the next step was to report the situation to the Allegan station. Although Allegan was 90 airline miles away, the monitoring personnel there could not hear the spurious signal, even though it was S9 +40 dB at Mt. Pleasant. I let the FCC monitors hear the signal through the telephone, but they still heard nothing on their receivers tuned to 1297.8 KHz. Thus the signal must be of local origin near Mt. Pleasant, and not from NSS. However, to be on the safe side, FCC notified the Navy of the spurious signals, and the NSS operators began combing all their transmitters for spurious signals, and found none. The situation is now becoming even more strange.


I then copied five minutes of the coded text and sent a copy to the FCC, who relayed it to NSS for comparison to their transmissions. The situation is now both perplexing and frustrating, because the text I copied on 1297.8 KHz agreed exactly with a transmission that had been made by NSS. How could that signal have been transmitted on 1298.7 KHz if no spurious signals were emanating from NSS? But it's obviously not a fraudulent station. What then?


A partial answer came shortly thereafter. As I resumed the search for a useable frequency for the new station, I proceeded downward from 1298.7 KHz, going through 1280 KHz and hearing WFYC, Alma, 1000 watts, 15 miles away, also S9 +40 dB. But on continuing further downward I immediately came across another S9 +40 dB thumping CW signal. I switched on the BFO and discovered the CW was also a five-letter-word coded transmission at about 30 wpm, the same as NSS. I retuned to 1298.7 KHz and the NSS signal was also there, as before. So I cranked up a second receiver to monitor both frequencies simultaneously.  Surprise! Both frequencies were showing identical simultaneous transmissions. I then measured the frequency of the lower-frequency signal-1262.2 KHz. Voila!


The higher CW frequency was 17.8 KHz above WFYC's 1280 frequency and the lower CW frequency was 17.8 KHz below WFYC's frequency. A quick reference to the Berne frequency listing showed NSS assigned to 17.8 KHz. This situation now appeared to indicate something very wrong going on at WFYC. The low-frequency world-wide ground-wave signal from NSS was apparently somehow mixing with the signal from WFYC, and producing the 1297.8 and 1262.2 KHz sum and difference frequencies. But what non-linear device in WFYC's system could perform that mixing? Don't know, but I reported this new information to the FCC and that was the last I heard of the situation.


Fast forward now to 1955. I was now employed as an electrical engineer at the RCA Laboratories, the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, NJ. An assignment took me to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual conference of the NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the keynote address. However, one of the technical forums was presented by Jack Young, Chief Engineer of the RCA Broadcast Division. His topic was on the solution of mutual interference between two broadcast stations in Los Angeles, KFI and KNX.


It seems that in a section of the Los Angeles area it was impossible to hear one of these stations without hearing both simultaneously-when tuned to 640 KHz for KFI, both KFI and KNX were heard, and when tuned to 1070 KHz for KNX, both KNX and KFI were heard.


Young was assigned the task of determining the cause of the interference and eliminating it. To make a long story short, he discovered that there were ancient and rusty oil well derricks in the affected area. Currents from both KFI and KNX transmissions were being induced in the oil well towers, and the rusty joints were acting as mixers for the two frequencies, producing both the sum and difference frequencies, as well as re-radiating both signals on their original frequencies. When the derricks were removed the interference stopped.


So how is this incident relevant to the NSS problem? Well, at the conclusion of Young's presentation I had the opportunity to talk with
him, and because of the similarity of the problems, I told him of my discovery of the NSS signals appearing in the AM broadcast band. Talk about coincidences! He was surprised and excited to learn that I had discovered the NSS problem at WFYC, because he was the one assigned to determine the cause of the problem. He had never been told how that problem originated, or how the problem had been discovered.

He then explained that he had found the ground radial system under the WFYC antenna a horrible mess. Cold solder joints throughout, and far ends of the radials hanging loose in the water of the nearby Pine River, establishing the non-linear mixer condition that resulted in the sum and difference frequencies being generated between the NSS and WFYC signals.


Cleaning up the radial mess ended the appearance of the NSS signals in the AM broadcast band, thus concluding an interesting journey.



This has been a warm Summer so far, but not as hot as last year.  Many I talk to are ready for s bit of Fall to cool things down some.  It DOES beat the dark days of Winter though.

We attended Glacier Hamfest last month and had a great time.  Attendance was down some, no doubt due to high fuel prices and harder time crossing the border from Canada.  Attendance was about 200 and those present seemed to be enjoying the Hamfest.  The weather was beautiful and campground was in fantastic shape.  My thanks to all who worked so hard to make our State Convention such a fine presentation.  Welcome to new Amateurs who passed their entry level tests at Hamfest and thanks to Loren-AA7MT, Sam-K7SAM and Evelyn-K7EVE who put on the test session.  Next year is the 75th annual Glacier Hamfest, the longest running Hamfest in the world.  If you can make the trip, we'd love to see you there.

For those of you who are CW enthusiasts and have an old Vibroplex laying around the shack, this might be of interest.  The Vibroplex Co. has a program to refurbish that old bug, clean it up and make it as much like new as they can.  I sent in one of my older bugs and just got it back in super condition. It runs like a dream.  If you are interested, just send it in (very well packed) to them and mark the package for "Betsy". She'll take it apart, shine it up and replace any worn or damaged parts.

This is "Preparedness Month", time to think over your emergency action plan and what it would take to mobilize your station to another location or out into the field.  Power supply is a big consideration, as are antennas and some sort of shelter out of the weather.  Think it over, perhaps build an emergency kit of needed gear, clothing and supplies you might need for fast deployment to the field.  Also consider personal comfort needs, meds you must have and a warm place to sleep.  Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, and you can’t be prepared for them all, but a general state of readiness can be of great help should things fall apart around your home or State.

IMN-W7GHT, QNI-469, QTC-101 (Great month!) MTN-W7MPK, QNI-1949, QTC-68 MSN-K7YD, QNI-136, QTC-2
Thanks to all who make Montana a great Section to represent.

73-  Doug, K7YD
SM, Montana Section



We are changing our weekly nets to Monday. We figured that it'd be easier for you, if the conditions were good.

7:30 PST (6:30 MST) on 7268 kHz. Hope you can make it. Bring friends

Steve Harding, KT6Z










































September Brain Teaser

by Pete Varounis Sr. - NL7XM/3


A bookkeeper noticed there were two consecutive double letters in the word balloon.  She found other examples, such as woolly and spittoon.  Then she tried to think of a word with three consecutive pairs of double letters.  She couldn't think of any.  Can you?




I received a note from Vick, K7VK this month stating that Lance has contacted on another DX stations on 6 meters.  6W1SE (Senegal) has now graced his log and is #132 on his DXCC list.  All QSO’s since #82 have been moon bounce (Earth-Moon-Earth).  Not a bad achievement





From Northern Valley Gazette July 17, 2008

by Bob Green / KE3AW

Member of the Delaware Lehigh ARC


     Amateur Radio!  It's a fascinating hobby with a fun side, and a serious side.  In both cases, there is a lot of self-satisfaction to be gained from it.

     But let's take a closer look.  What is it all about?  Amateur radio is about 100 years old as old as radio itself is.  Many of the pioneers in early radio were amateurs, and experimenters.  They not only operated their radios on the air, but they also designed and built their sets making improvements along the way.  Many of those advancements are in our home radios – and television sets and we use them daily; the results of those amateurs' discoveries.

     From that humble start amateur radio developed into the hobby, and service it is today, with a variety of interests in the overall hobby.

     First,, there is the fun and friendship hobby side that attracts people who want to communicate with other amateur radio operators (often called “Hams”) around the block or around the world.

     Another side involves emergency and public service, where volunteer radio operators can be called upon to provide needed communications for health and welfare concerns, such as in earthquake, hurricane and flood situations, motorist accidents and search and rescue operations.  With the wide use of cell phones many people think the need for hams no longer exists.  In actuality, in times of emergency, cell phone lines are likely to be jammed, if not out of operation completely due to power loss or cell towers being down.  On the non-emergency side, ham radio is used as a public service to provide communications for coordination in community events, such as parades, charity walks and bicycle tours.  

     The third side of amateur radio is the technical and experimental side, for those people with the interest in designing and/or building better radios or antenna ... the “tinkers” -- those folks who have the yearning to see exactly what is inside the box called their radio.  Of course, there are various radio activities that span across these three sides of the hobby.  One such activity that some hams enjoy is doing E-M-E (Earth-Moon-Earth) or moon-bounce transmissions.  Yes, bouncing radio signals off the moon to make contact with hams somewhere in the world.  Success sometimes requires computer-controlled tracking of the antenna so it always is pointed precisely at the moon as the earth revolves, intricate antenna arrays and a lot of patience.  But it's a good challenge for those so inclined to accept that technical challenge.

     How do we communicate in ham radio?  By voice, generally.  We talk into a microphone, then listen for a response, but there are also other modes of operation that are interesting and available, such as Morse Code, and digital communication, linking radio and computer technologies!  Hams can talk between stations anywhere in the world, and even in space (talking with astronauts and cosmonauts in space stations).  We send our signals directly through the air (station to station transmissions), by way of any of the thousands of “radio repeater stations” in the world, or by relaying signals off satellites, such as OSCARs (Orbiting Satellites Carrying Amateur Radio), or by combining radio, the computer and the internet.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  As you may have guessed, this is not our grandfather's radio anymore.

     There are about 25,000 hams in Pennsylvania, around 750,00 in the United States and about 2.5 million worldwide.  Who are these people?  Well, they could be your next-door neighbor.  They are doctors, students, teachers, mechanics, politicians, housewives, truck drivers, secretaries and rock stars, as examples.  They are people of all ages, from around 8 years of age through senior citizens.  This is a hobby that is great for kids, too.  One particular event is with the scouting program.  Annually a Jamboree on the Air is held, where scouts with ham licenses or under the guidance of licensed operators contact other scouts throughout the world.

     It is easy to become an amateur radio operator, but you need to earn an FCC (Federal Communication Commission) license to operate legally.  Much different than CB (Citizen Band) radio, amateur radio has a set of defined FCC rules of operation that actually make it more acceptable and manageable than restrictive.

     To earn a valid amateur radio license you will need to learn some basic radio knowledge.  How a radio works, safety awareness and understanding regulations and protocol for operating a radio station essentially are what the 35 multiple choice questions test is all about.  In February 2007, the FCC dropped the requirement for Morse Code operation from the license testing, making it even easier to learn the necessary test information, although Morse Code is still a common mode used by some hams.  Operating amateur radio illegally can lead to trouble for you; confiscation of the equipment and fines imposed by the FCC are likely consequences.  Get that license! It's easy!


The ARRL Letter
Vol. 27, No. 34
August 29, 2008

As of Friday, although Tropical Storm Gustav is still several days away from landfall on the US mainland, disaster preparations are being rolled out along the Gulf Coast. ARRL Leadership Officials, with the support of the ARRL Headquarters staff, are taking measures that will facilitate emergency communications among ham volunteers, among hams and served agencies such as the Red Cross, and among Leadership Officials during the expected emergency and in its aftermath. ARRL Section Managers in the Gulf Coast states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are marshaling resources and setting up procedures that will take
effect as the storm approaches the mainland.

Support from the ARRL Headquarters staff includes referrals from local and national media, shipment of Amateur Radio equipment via the Ham Aid program, Section Manager liaison and referral of inquiries from Amateur Radio operators. Two special Web sites are available for Amateur Radio operators looking for information and volunteer opportunities: http://www.arrl.org/gustav/ and http://www.arrl.org/gustav/vol.html . In addition, news will be updated on the ARRL Web site over the weekend and early next week, as Gustav moves toward the Gulf Coast.

On Thursday, as Gustav was slamming into Haiti and heading toward Jamaica, WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, activated at 12 PM EDT (1600Z). The NHC requested all land based stations as well as ships at sea in the areas affected to send them weather data (measured or estimated) and damage reports.

A post to their Web site stated: "If you are in the affected area and normally monitor on a local Net on VHF, 40 or 80 meters, we would appreciate your checking into the HWN NET or EchoLink/IRLP Net once per hour to receive the latest Hurricane Advisories and to report your local conditions. Please do not venture outside during the hurricane to gather weather data."

In addition, the VoIP Hurricane Net activated Thursday at 11 AM EDT (1500Z), according to a post by Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, VoIP-WX Net Scheduler.

Also on Thursday, FEMA posted a news release that said, in part: "The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating plans and preparatory activities of numerous federal agencies in close communication with state, tribal and local officials as Tropical Storm Gustav threatens to return to hurricane strength prior to impacting Gulf Coast states. All residents in the region are encouraged to make personal preparations. Information is available at www.Ready.gov on how families and individuals can best prepare before the storm.

"FEMA and its federal partners are in close communications with states along its potential path in order to review plans, pre-station assets and personnel, and respond to any request for assistance. FEMA's work with states using a Gap Analysis tool to determine in advance of storms where federal assistance is most likely to be needed has helped federal and state agencies to develop pre-scripted mission assignments and other contingency plans to help improve response and recovery efforts."

The news release also provides details on preparations now underway by several other agencies, including the American Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for his state on Wednesday, and he activated 3000 National Guard troops, with more on call. The state of Mississippi declared a state of emergency on Thursday. Governor Haley Barbour stated, in part: "I urge all Mississippians to please take this storm seriously. One of the most important lessons we learned after Hurricane Katrina was that there is no substitute for awareness and self-help, especially in the days before the hurricane is predicted to hit."



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.


Hopefully you enjoyed this month’s edition of the Hellgate Static.  As always, I would like to remind you to e-mail or “snail mail” me an article for the October edition.  As autumn comes closer, it reminds us of the needs we need to repair prior to the winter months.  Is your antenna farm ready for a winter blizzard.  Will the ropes hold?  Is the feedline ready for a cold and wet October rainfall?  As can be attested to by many of us (myself included) winter isn’t the time to repair a PL-259 either.  When was the last time you checked your guy lines?  There will still be some nice days of late summer to come, use them wisely.