THE SPARK GAP A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club May 1999
Boy another month has gone by. It sure turned off hot. Wanted to do some shallow water fishing, but they went deep quickly.
Field day is upon us. Hope everyone has it marked and making plans to be there. Committee is doing good job in setting it up and planning activities. Hope the weather will cooperate with us that day. Hope for mild temp.
A good turn out on emergency sessions. The National Wx is proposing a lot of storms this season. Sure hope they are wrong. They will be too.
The Birmingham Hamfest was a good one. I like the new location. Easy to get to it off I 459. They had plenty of room and not too much walking. Lots of people there. Had a nice tailgating area.
Hope everyone will be at our next meeting the first Sat in June to get the field day lined up. Most every thing is worked out.
The weather has been good to us. Not all states can say the same. This is the bad wx season so be wx wise and listen to repeater in stormy conditions. Be wx wise and have a good haming month.
73s and 88s CP W5OQY
From the Editor:
For those of you that did not hear me shout; "School is out". The graduation ceremony went very smooth; the weather was nice and pleasant.
Thank you all for your patience with the late delivery of the newsletter these last few months. I hope to be able to get back to the delivery being on time very soon. I still can use any positive comments or amateur radio related articles from talented writers for publication. Please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicksburg ARC host "AARL Day in the Park"
The Vicksburg ARC will host the 1999 "ARRL Day in the Park" on Memorial Day (May 31) at Riverfront Park in Vicksburg.
The Park can be reached by taking I-20 Exit 1A and turning right at the top of the ramp. Then travel north on Washington Street for 0.5 miles. At that point you will turn left down the hill at the Riverfront Park entrance sign and follow the road into the picnic area (0.2 miles from the top of the hill). This will put you on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi between the Ameristar and Isle of Capri Casinos.
Lunch will be at 11:30. Hamburgers will be available for a nominal cost, however, folks are encouraged to bring a potluck dish, and we'll just put it all together and see what happens. The ARRL will provide soft drinks and watermelon.
VARC folks will be setting up at 8:00 AM, and we'll stay as long as the fellowship lasts. Bring your boat anchors to sell off your tail gates, if you want to. There's plenty of parking, playground equipment, and rest room facilities at Riverfront Park, plus a spectacular view of the Mississippi, so bring the whole family. You might want to toss a lawn chair in the back of the truck, if you don't like to sit on picnic benches for a long time.
So if you're in the Vicksburg area over the Memorial Day Weekend, come see us!
Results from the May 20 VE Test
Gary KM5UX Upgraded to EXTRA CLASS
Steve KD5CHD Upgraded to EXTRA CLASS
Jim KD5GMP Upgraded to TECH PLUS
Brian Quinn Passed his No Code and will be looking for his call on QRZ
The last several test sessions have been great. We are really moving right along. Gary and Steve both, are applying for VE accreditations which really makes this VE feel great. I'm sure the other VE's feel the same. After all, this is all the pay any VE will get. VE's administering the May 20th exams were; KI5FW Dennis, W5MBJ Gene, WA5EE Russell , and N5JCG Mel. Tnx for all the help and will look forward to seeing all again for the next exam which will be announced later. Congratulations to all on FB job.
73's es CUL Mel N5JCG
WX Report by WB5OCD
Rumors abound that this hurricane season will be even worse than last year. More storms are expected and they will likely be larger because the ocean currents are warmer this year. If this holds to be true, we can expect to see one or more storms come into the Gulf of Mexico and possibly into our area. With that comes the evacuation of coastal residents and the possibility they will seek shelter in the Meridian area.
We were not ready to support those evacuees last year during Hurricane Georges' with anything other than providing some shelter data. If that situation happens again we hope to be better prepared. We have operators interested in assisting the travelers with finding shelter and passing health and welfare messages as needed.
Mel (N5JCG) conducted a traffic handling class in April to prepare our group for the event. It has been interesting to hear messages originated and delivered over the local two meter net as a result of this class. I hope that he will be able to teach another one soon and that the response is even greater.
The topic of lightning has come up in several conversations that I have been a party to over the last several weeks and deserves a few words in this month's article.
Lightning kills about 100 people in the United States each year. Thousands of lightning strikes occur in the world each minute.
England by contrast has only one or two strikes each year. Most of us don't live in England, so we have to take precautions to keep from becoming one of those 100 or so persons mentioned above.
When outside, avoid being in or near tall metal objects (radio towers, antennas, airplanes, flag poles, and metal buildings) as well as trees, light poles, baseball dugouts, picnic shelters, both metal and wood bleachers, fences, water, convertible autos, unenclosed farm equipment, and boats. When these objects are isolated in open fields, on water, or atop hills they seem to be even a greater attractor of lightning.
Some safer locations are large enclosed structures (with proper lightning arrestors), cars, busses, trucks, and vans with their windows rolled up seem to provide good shelter (but do avoid contact with metal surfaces inside the vehicle).
When you are inside and lightning is within about 15 miles (when you can see the flashes or hear the thunder) you should not talk on a telephone (cordless is questionable), take a bath or shower, wash dishes, come into contact with metal plumbing, electrical wires, cables, metal doors, or window frames.
Amateur Radio Operators in their quest to transmit/receive better tend to have tall pointed things protruding from the tops/sides of their houses and cars. These objects can be a conduit for lightning and place our homes, autos, equipment, and families as well as selves at greater risk than those homes or cars without the aforementioned tall, pointy objects.
Be safe and operate with good earth grounds, provide your towers and antennas with proper lightning protection. Without that protection you could find your radio room in shambles from a direct strike or with minor damage from electromagnetic pulse or a minor strike.
Do not be afraid to go off the air if the conditions warrant. It is expected that at some point you may have to do so. Disconnect transmission lines and power cables from your equipment and protect computer gear too. Return to the air when it is safe. Surge protection is available for your power lines and telephone systems and also for your radios and towers. The ARRL handbook is a good source of info on how to protect our systems from this hazard. Contact your power company for whole house protection.
There is now a two meter rig at the LEMA building so that we can communicate directly with that agency when our net is in session. The Tuesday night net is the target of some changes too. More to come later.
Be aware that the net will not be called into session for every thunderstorm that passes through the area. The net will normally be activated when the NWS brings up the HF Net or if LEMA asks us to help. We do not have the capability at this time of sustaining a long term operation; our numbers are small.
There are approximately 155 HAMS in Lauderdale and 21 in Clarke Counties. Please contact any of those individuals that are not members of our group and encourage them to participate. We especially need operators to provide info in the northern parts of Lauderdale and southern parts of Clarke counties. Without the information provided by the storm spotters in Oklahoma the death toll would have been much higher.
All area amateur operators are encouraged to participate in the WX program. You DO NOT have to be a member of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club, ARRL or any other group to participate. All you need to operate on the two meter net is a Technician class license or higher, a radio that will operate on the frequencies we will use, and the desire to serve your community.
Being a member of the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is also not required but does provide the group with affiliation with a nationally recognized organization with operating agreements with FEMA, NWS, Red Cross, Salvation Army and local emergency management agencies through the state run agency. Novice through Extra class operators can be members of the ARES unit. As a Novice class licensee you can operate outside your license class if a higher class control operator is available. You can also be of other service if you wish to donate your time. If you would like to be trained to function as a net control operator or storm spotter, please contact me on the W5FQ repeater, e-mail using email@example.com, or at 601-644-3226.
Jim - WB5OCD
Have a great month
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