A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club November 1997

President Report:
Good Evening to all once again.
I hope everyone got lots of candy while Trick or Treating and gets fat like me.

At the November club meeting the club voted to put lightning protection in line with the club 146.700 Repeater for a little extra protection. Hopefully this will keep us safe and on the air in the event of a direct lightning strike.

Also mentioned was the possibility of getting together for a Christmas meal at the Magnolia Restaurant the first Sunday in December. Listen to the Tuesday night net for more info on this. 73's Dennis KI5FW

Vice President Report:
VP corner - Hi from down south. Hope everyone had a good month. Had beautiful weather and nothing too bad. The fair is over, new mall is open and trick or treat is done. Hope everyone had safe ones. Montgomery hamfest next weekend. Ocean Springs hamfest Nov 21/22. KB5BRZ's 444.1 repeater is back on with tone 131.8. All reports good coverage. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. 73's CP 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.

Editor's note:
Also mentioned at the November meeting was the election of officers for 1998. Please try to be present at the December business meeting on December 6th to elect new officers for the coming new year. If you have any articles, items for sell, wanted, or to trade that you would like published in The Spark Gap please call 485-7568. This is your newsletter. Your input is appreciated. 73's Darrell W5MAV

The Day the Sprinklers Sent CQ
by Steve Altig, N7IF

What an afternoon. Sending CQ with the sprinklers doesn't get a ham very far. It only gets strange looks from the neighbors, and the occasional curious earthworm. But, you need a little background.

After discussion with my wife, with retirement just a few years away, and a pending move to the country we reached the conclusion that it would be a good idea for me to rejoin the ranks of Amateur Radio Operators. I had held a General class license (WA6ISW) back in the '60s, but it had expired while I was in the Army, and then family and career became time priorities.

So, I bought a copy of Ham University(c) and began to study the code and technical elements, hoping to get my Novice license and later upgrade to General. The more I studied, the more I began to think I would try to take all the elements qualifying me for a General instead of working up to it.

The big day, March 1, 1997, arrived. There was a big crowd taking various Amateur Radio tests on this day, my day. An entire Scout troop, a group from a school, and an assortment of others, of which I was one.

"We are going to begin with the code tests, and after they begin, no one can leave the room." said the Volunteer Examiner in charge. "Who is taking the 20 wpm test?", she asked. The fellow in the seat next to me raised his hand. After some more instruction, the test began. I listened to the 20 wpm code test, copied about 1/3, and began to worry. When the 13 wpm test began I breathed a sigh of relief when words flowed from my pencil to the paper.

"Anyone want to go for one minute of solid copy," asked the Volunteer Examiner. I raised my hand. He took my paper and began to go over it in detail. "Looks good," he said and gave my paper to the other VE s at the table. "One minute solid copy," he said. They looked up at me and looked back at the paper. After a few minutes they were also nodding and saying things to each other like, "Start here" and "Looks good" and "No problem." Then they looked at me and said, "You passed." What a relief. Element 1B passed. Now on to the technical elements.

Element 2. PASSED. Element 3A. PASSED. Element 3B. Waiting and sweating. PASSED. What a feeling. Walking out with my CSCE showing completion of all required elements for a brand new General class license felt great. Now to get equipment, antennas, and all of the other necessary "stuff" to get back on the air. My license came from the FCC a few days later and I was now KC7UXA.

How things have changed! It's a long way from a Heath kit DX-40 to a modern solid state transceiver. Scary stuff! My biggest problem though was how to deal with the homeowners association restrictions on
antennas. I convinced myself that a random wire antenna, nailed to the eaves of my house was the way to go.

Everything was connected. Power supply, transceiver, antenna tuner and key all ready to go. I was ready. Power on, tune the antenna and try an 80 meter CQ. Out to my shack comes my wife. "There is something wrong with the plumbing," she cries. "Come quick. The pipes are banging and crashing"

I went into the house and listened but heard nothing. She insisted they had been making horrible noises. I stood in the doorway of the house and had her key down a few times and she was right, as usual. Sounded like someone was pounding on the pipes. This was disaster. All my work and study, not to mention money, and now this.

After some thinking and discussion with other hams, it turns out the RF from the transceiver was activating the solenoids in the sprinkler system for our yard. I asked my wife to go watch the sprinklers while I transmitted. What a sight for the neighbors to see water spurting out of the sprinklers to the rhythm of "CQ CQ CQ."

In the end it all worked out and now I am back on the air and have worked 13 states in the weeks since everything came together. Oh yes, I do get the occasional "hi hi" when I tell other hams that my antenna is a random wire nailed to the eaves of my house 12 feet off the ground. But the best part is IT WORKS..

P.S. Since this story was originally written in April, 1997, the writer has upgraded to Extra and is now AB7VZ, and now has new vanity call N7IF.

Happy Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for? - Thanksgiving 1994

While the obvious ones are easy:
1. I am thankful for my wife
2. I am thankful for my five children
3. I am thankful for living in a free country
4. I am thankful for my God and my religion
5. I am thankful for health

There are others, which are not obvious:

1. While I'm not thankful for my wife's illness, I am thankful for the lessons, which can be learned from that living experience. The lessons concerning the real meaning of love, compassion, respect, dignity, fear, responsibility, God, friendship, dedication, humility, sacrifice, racism, judgment and a whole host of others.

2. I am also thankful for her love and compassion for raising our children, and her success in doing so, without the outward signs of being able to walk and do things for them. Her love for her children, her ability to talk to her children and just being here has meant a lot to them.

3. I am thankful for the lessons my children have learned over the last 21 years of her illness, they are better people for it, and they have been formed with qualities, which will always be ingrained in them.

4. I am thankful for the person I am today, much better and much wiser than anything I thought I could ever be, because of the experience.

5. I am thankful for the knowledge of looking beyond the outward signs of suffering and sickness and looking inward for the lessons and meaning of those sufferings, and the understanding, as best I can of the true meanings.

6. I am thankful for the understanding of the phrase "No greater love has any man, then he gives up his life for another". While I always
thought this meant death, I now realize it is
sacrifice, which may or may not be death.
7. I am thankful to God for the other night when my son's fever continued to rise regardless of the medicine, the showers, the baths, I had given him. With one prayer, his temperature dropped from 103.5, in less than 1 hour to normal.

8. I am thankful for a wife, who through all the
pain and suffering over the years still has maintained her humor, her friendship, her desire for life. She has taught me a lot, and has helped me become a better individual.

October 1997
In summary, while I am not sure what the future will bring, as a result of me preparing to leave my job to take care of my wife, I do know that all my thanks to God can be stated through, "I have looked into the face of Death, and I have found Life, I have found Love and I have found God."

Francis D. Ross

The Early Christian

An early Christian was being chased through the streets of Rome by a hungry lion. After reaching a dead end alley, the Christian fell to his knees and prayed, "Lord, please make this lion a Christian." Suddenly the lion stopped, got down on his hind legs, raised his front paws, and began to pray - "Lord please bless this food for which I am about to partake."


Christmas will arrive a bit early for General, Technician Plus, Technician and Novice Class hams. The FCC has announced that vanity call sign program Gate 4--the last vanity gate--will open December 2, 1997, for General, Tech Plus, Technician and Novice class hams to request a vanity call sign on or after that date. The potential number of applicants from these four licensee groups is huge--well over a half
million hams!

Applicants may use either the electronic Forms 610V and 159 on the Web or hard-copy Form 610V and 159 -- but not both. Both versions -- plus fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions -- are available at The application fee is $50, payable by check (to "FCC"), bank draft, money order or credit card. Do not send cash. The FCC gives processing priority to electronically filed Forms 610V for which the filing fee and Form 159 have been received. The FCC now requires all vanity filers to include a Form 159, which must be mailed to the FCC with your fee.

It's up to applicants to make sure that their applications do not arrive before December 2, 1997. The FCC will return all applications that arrive early. All other vanity call sign gates will remain open, and
Amateur Extra and Advanced class operators continue to be eligible to file for vanity call signs under those filing gates.

Any call sign requested must be appropriate for the class of license you hold. This means that Technician, Tech Plus, and General class licensees may ask for a Group C (13) or D (23) call sign. Novice class licensees may only request Group D call signs.

Electronic filers must mail the Form 159 Fee Remittance Advice to FCC, Amateur Vanity, PO Box 358994, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-5994. The Form 159
and the fee must be received within 10 days of electronically filing your Form 610V or your application will be dismissed.

Those filing on document Forms 610V and 159 must mail the application package containing a completed Form 610V with a copy of your license attached, Form 159 and the proper fee in a sealed envelope to FCC, Amateur Vanity, PO Box 358924, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-5924.

For general information, call the FCC's toll-free National Call Center, 888-225-5322 (CALLFCC).


A survey of ARRL Volunteer Instructors shows that most teach between one and two classes a year and the vast majority of students obtain their Technician tickets. The survey revealed that classes average eight students. Graduates are 5% Novice, 88% Technician, 5% General, 1% Advanced, and 1% Extra.

Approximately 11% of the more than 2000 Volunteer Instructors responded to the survey. Of that group, 90% reported they use Now You're Talking in their classes. The instructors said that 80% of their students join the ARRL.

In another survey, ARRL-Registered School Teachers reported that their students' favorite ham radio activities, by far, were HF DXing, taking part in licensing classes, radio club activities and VHF/UHF operating. The 108 teachers who returned their surveys (approximately 11% of the total) say they introduced nearly 8800 students to ham radio. The teachers said that about 60% of their licensing classes prepared
youngsters for the Technician license and 40% for the Novice ticket. Most teachers said they use ARRL study materials.

Volunteer Instructors and ARRL-Registered School Teachers were polled last spring. The ARRL Educational Activities Department recently compiled the results of the two surveys. --Rosalie White, WA1STO

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