THE SPARK GAP A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club March 1997
President Report: Hello again to all. I hope February was a good month for everyone. I would like to say tnx to Mr. John Davis W5DEJ, Bill KB5ASR, and Mel N5JCG, for volunteering to serve on the committee to head up Field Day 1997 this June 28-29 at Lake Okatibbee. Anyone with any ideas or willingness to help; please contact one of these hams. During the March 1st meeting it was brought up to the club about possible linking into the National Weather Service in Jackson during bad weather. This could be helpful and benefit all hams across the state. And finally, as the local VE examiner, April 12th (Saturday) at 12 noon VE exams will be given again at MCC. So study hard and upgrade. 73's Dennis KI5FW
Vice President Report: Hello from south of town. We sure are wet down here. We need some sunshine. My feet
feel like they are webbing. Ha. I talked to Peter Budnik KB1HY from Burlington, Ct. One of the ARRL Headquarters staff, at the Jackson Hamfest. The question about when to ID has been brought up that is on the test in a ARRL publication. ID every 10 minutes and some thought you could bring up the auto patch without ID. He said we should use the common sense approach. We always ID at the beginning of a QSO and every 10 minutes and the end. He said of course we have to ID at beginning of Auto Patch operation regardless of time in between. It is time for bad weather. Hope we don't have any. 73's and 88's C P. W5OQY
Secretary Report: Don't forget to check into the Tuesday evening 2-meter net at 7 P.M. each week on 146.700. Any announcements, emergency traffic, or a simple hello and 73 can be passed along to others. Let us know how you are doing. Bill KB5ASR
Treasurer Report: Please mail your dues to: Mr. John Davis, 2215 28th Ave, Meridian, MS 39301.
The ARRL - WRC - 99 planning committee ask you to comment on their suggestions to the proposed changes in the Amateur Radio licensing structure. These proposed changes can be found in your monthly issue of QST magazine,or on line under the ARRL web page. Please send your comments to: Rick Roderick K5UR, P.O. Box 1463, Little Rock, AK 72203 or K5UR@arrl.org John W5DEJ
Supporting the "home" repeater
-by Wayne C. Williams, K4MOB
So what's the home repeater you might ask ... and what do you mean by supporting.?
A home repeater is generally the repeater you hang around most of the time. Everyone has one. It's the one your friends know you can be reached most of the time.
Support is like a "tip." If you go to a restaurant, and the waitress gives you good service you leave her a little something (in cash).
Over the years, repeater ownership has taken changes. In the '70s most repeaters were owned by individuals. They pieced together that old Motorola, made up some control circuits, and the expense was tubes, electricity and telephone lines. It was always a "gentle man's agreement" that if that was your home repeater, you dropped $10, $20, $30 or so in the mail to the owner each year (unsolicited) to help defray the expenses. Since most all repeaters then were being actively supported by users, your donation to your home repeater was justification for using other repeaters and their auto patches free, since someone else was supporting that repeater as their home repeater.
Today, in the '90s, things have changed drastically. Today's repeaters can represent as much as $10,000. Most of today's repeaters are sponsored by a club. The club gets operating expenses for the repeater(s) through membership, special fees for special capabilities of the repeater, conducting Hamfest and other fund raising activities. In turn, sometimes, repeaters don't like "strangers" coming by and using the features of their machines... which is sad. The point we're trying to make today is that if you operate FM and you use repeaters, find out how they are funded. If you like the repeater, join the club, participate, do whatever is required to carry your load in supporting the club's repeaters.
If the repeater you hang around is privately owned, find out how the owner gets support to pay the bills. (DON'T ask him on the air). When you find out, support him in whatever way he suggests, whether it be participating in a repeater activity, monetary donations or whatever. Repeaters and wonderful to have around. But someone has to pay the bill. Someone has to keep them operating. The responsibility lies with the users. They should see that the machine is secure financially and can operate in a way in which they want to see a repeater operate effectively, without problems. It's payback time, fellow hams. This wonderful stuff we have is not free. It doesn't operate without cost. Do your part as a good ham. Join the club, participate, support the repeater in whatever way you feel is needed.
HAM RADIO GROWS IN 1996
Good news: The number of licensed Amateur Radio operators in the US rose by approximately 1.9% last year! FCC statistics show that ham ranks increased by 12,207 from December 1995 to December 1996. During 1996, 28,854 new licenses were issued by the FCC, while another 13,926 hams upgraded their operating privileges.
Not-so-good news: During January 1997, the total number of hams dropped by 641 (possibly due to the cancellation or expiration of the licenses of deceased hams). The number of new and upgrading hams also was off slightly last month compared to the month previous.
Bad news: The number of applications forwarded to the FCC by the ARRL-VEC for new and upgraded licenses during 1996 was down by 5198 over the previous year. That represents a 16% drop--consistent with what
other VECs are reporting.
Due to very little solar activity these last few weeks, I thought this would be a good time to include an article to help explain what all those numbers mean.
The sunspot number is not simply a "count of sunspots." Rather, it is a number based on the size, count, and grouping of sunspots. For example, on January 30, the Sunspot number was 15. This meant that the number, size and grouping of all the observable sunspots worked out to a reference number of 15. The "mean" is merely the average of the Sunspot numbers for the seven-day period.
We measure solar flux on 10.7 cm because this particular band happens to give us very good references for UV and X-ray intensity, and radio noise from the sun.
The term "Planetary A Index" is a measure of small variations in the earth's geomagnetic
field. Now, this index is what happened the day "before." It is not necessarily an indication
of current geomagnetic activity. On one day, the A index could be low; on the next day it might be high. If the A index is, say 6, we can expect there to be quiet conditions. If it happens to be 33, then we can expect there to be instability in the geomagnetic field.
These numbers are very important because radio communications are directly affected by changes in the geomagnetic field, and in our ionosphere. If we didn't have this solar information, we would not be able to predict how radio communications may be affected.
(Of course, radio communications are also affected by tropospheric activity and other
phenomenon, but those are other subjects.)
73, Joe, NJ1Q
W1AW Station Manager
VE exams, will be held
Saturday, April 12th
Time: 12 noon
NEW WATTS NUMBER FOR HAM INFO FROM FCC
The FCC has designated a new, toll-free (WATS) number for Amateur Radio license inquiries--including inquiries about vanity and new call signs. The new number, 888-225-5322, will connect callers to the FCC National
Call Center, handled by the FCC's Consumer Information Bureau. Callers to the old consumer information number will get a message referring them to the new number.
MARC celebrates 50 years:
The Meriden (Connecticut) Amateur Radio Club
observes its 50th anniversary this year. The club's "in memoriam" call sign, W1NRG, formerly was held by Ed Bisschert, a club member and World War II Navy veteran radioman who died in 1952. The 100-member club has
one 50-year member--Frank Darmofalski, W1FD. MARC members are active in public service communication and operating events. Bill Wawrzeniak, W1KKF, is the current president.
Hams donate community service time: Amateur Radio operators in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area calculate they donated nearly 4700 hours of public service to the Lincoln-Lancaster County community during 1996. Spring and summer storm watches accounted for some 630 hours, while the remaining 4000-plus hours were spread out over two dozen events where hams were able to make an important public service contribution.
--Lincoln Amateur Radio Club Inc
Largest Ham Family under one roof in the World?
N1LU announces completion of
family project and six new hams!
What do you do to compensate for the lack of useful education in our public schools? How do you get the kids away from the video games and into some kind of activity where they might actually learn some- thing besides how to traverse the levels of Duke Nuke 'em? Well, you guessed it. Ham Radio!
First job was to get an assistant. Vicki, the XYL, got things off to a quick start when she attended a weekend course for a Technician License at the Framingham Radio Club and became N1XYA. We started with one hour sessions every night after dinner. It was tough at first, especially for David (age 7) because his reading vocabulary was much smaller than required. In the first week we discovered Anthony (10) seemed to have difficulty reading. A quick trip to the eye doctor and he was right up to speed with the best of them! I guess they thought his performance was "normal" in school! Their older sisters were quick studies when we could get them off the phone, but it wasn't until we reminded them that with ham radio they could talk ad infinitem that they really buckled down. It was fun working out the metric system and watching the puzzled looks slowly turn into enlightened enthusiasm. "Now I get it!" became a pretty common phrase as we went from picofarads to microfarads to henrys to ohms law to millivolts and micro volts and kilovolts and wavelengths and so on. Suzanne, age 13 was the first to pass Technician and she became N1YFT. She was followed two weeks later by Laura, N1YGB, and Kristina, N1YGC ages 16 and 13 respectively. A week later, Anthony, age 10 entered ham radio as N1YHL. He was followed the next day by David who became N1YHO at age 7.
The most important thing to come of the entire effort, which took about 10 weeks start to finish, was the exposure of these young minds to some real technology at a level where some knowledge about how it works and why was imparted. Reading skills and comprehension soared for all of them and their vocabulary increased as well. You probably have tried to get your kids interested in ham radio before and are hoping for some secret trick. After all, it's hard to compete with VGA graphics, stereo sound, touch-tone phones, and MTV! So here's the trick. The secret is motivation and time, especially 1 on 1. In my case the kids had been after me for a trip to Disney World for years. I really can't afford it (there are 7 of us!), but decided that we'd find a way to go if they all got their tickets. It worked. The bottom line is that you can get your kids interested in ham radio but it will cost you - not only an incentive but some time - however it might just be one of the best learning experiences they or you will ever have! Disney World here we come! 73, Len N1LU
Have a great month
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