THE SPARK GAP A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club March 2000
A sincere thank you to N5JCG (Mel Oubre) and WB5OCD (Jim Stevenson) for conducting the training sessions over the past several weeks. Most of the candidates for new or upgraded Amateur Radio Licenses walked away from Thursday nights VE Test Session (held in Meridian) with a smile on their faces.
Ten super individuals applied to take their element 5 WPM code, Novice, Technician, or General Class theory. There were six upgrades to Tech Plus, three passed their General Class Theory, and two passed the Novice Class Theory Exams. If I counted correctly there were about 5 persons who passed the 5 WPM code exams. Please note that this is an unofficial result.
Several of the folks that tested will be ready for the change in rules that takes place on 15 April that will allow them to obtain upgraded licenses. Check the new rules; you could be eligible for an upgrade too.
Congratulations to all that tested and passed and to those that gave it a really good effort.
Special thanks go out to the VE Team Members (Dennis, Mel, Steve) that made this session possible. These guys perform a tremendous service for the amateur community. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. WB5OCD
VICE PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS
Will try to keep all my comments short this month. We have a message from Mr. Quixote himself. Rumors have it that his message is quite verbose. Hope it's better than the last John McCain speech I heard.
The business meeting on Saturday, March 4, was a short one. Our beloved President was out of town and left me without a script for the meeting. Gotta thank Darrell and Donna for keeping me straight. No new business was introduced and most of the old business is just old business. It is my sincere hope that each of you has a great month and hope to hear you on the bands.
Hope you got to work the Clipperton DX Expedition if you are into that sort of thing. This was an excellent opportunity to work the approximately 3 mile square island which is located about 670 miles southwest of Mexico. It is No 57 on the most wanted DX list. WB5OCD
By Steven Dennis Smith, N5HGN
It was in the year 2015 and John Chandler was adrift in space. His spaceship was filled with little square pads of steel wool filled with soap and he sat there in the captain's chair laughing uncontrollably at himself and his situation. He was facing sure death.
John was almost ordinary and almost extra-ordinary. He had grown up during the computer explosion of the 90's and came of age during the great technology rise after the turn of the century that came about as a direct result of the 90's. It was a remarkable time to be alive. Computers and daily life were so intermingled and intertwined that life was too easy. Replicators could produce food and any item that took the strain off life just by simple voice commands. You tell the computer what you want and it would produce it for you.
John had an amateur radio license, which put him above average, but it was a code-less license and that fact kept him from attaining greatness. But ease of life had also had a detrimental side. It was true that there was no more crime due to the Replicators but they also had a dangerous side effect on human beings. The Replicators had made people lazy. Human knowledge, the web, and the Replicators had become one and the same. There was no need for an engineering degree or any degree for that matter. If you could think it, then speak it, the Replicators could create it. There was no need to steal, no need to aspire for anything of self worth because the Replicators took care of you.
As long as you were on Earth there was no need even for technicians to service the systems. All you had to do was tell the Replicators that you wanted a "service robot" and it would be created in the time it took to speak it. But John was no longer on Earth. He was adrift in space somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn knowing that help was on the way but also knowing that it would arrive too late.
The voyage to the outer planets was also due to the Replicators. They could build a space craft capable of sustaining life and small enough to be feasible. There was no need to carry food or life support for it could be replicated as long as there was enough electrical energy produced by the giant solar panels that extended off two sides of the spaceship. In the event of loss of the solar panels there was a battery back up system that kept the essential life support services in operation as well as a beacon for location by a rescue team but it also kept the computer down to minimal operation. Since Morse code was basic digital language, the computer dropped the voice commands and fell back on the code for the Replicator's instruction.
It was John's amateur radio license that caused him to win the worldwide contest for the free space ride. His childhood interest in amateur radio had placed him a cut above everyone else but It was also a time of few details for the Replicators, and computers had caused people to skip the "small stuff" for humans didn't have to think for themselves anymore. John was one of the last ham radio operators alive but his was a code-less license and that detail was overlooked. The sponsors of the contest simply assumed that John knew Morse code because that is what the old encyclopedias had said about ham radio operators. They had to learn Morse code in order to get a license. There was no place in history for the code-license for amateur radio was in it's death throes by the time of the "code-less ham" and that detail was overlooked by the writers of history.
They came out of nowhere. Two dark objects against the dark background of space. John was in the captain's chair viewing the vast beauty of unobstructed night sky when the unthinkable happened. Two asteroids as if shot with purposeful precision accuracy tore off the solar panels as John watched in horror. Immediately the computer switched to the battery pack and spoke the last words that John was to hear. "Do not be afraid. A locator beacon has been activated and help is on the way. To save energy the voice control will be disabled but the Replicator will still be active. Please revert to the Morse code input for Replicator instruction."
And then there was silence. The soft glow of the emergency lights lit up the panel that slid open and revealed the set of paddles. John stared dumbfounded. His brain was beginning to over heat. "Morse code?" he thought. His memory racing backwards to childhood. "What was that universal signal of distress?" "S .. S something. SOS! That's it" He grabbed frantically at the paddles and began to tap out clumsily, dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit. Over and over again, faster and faster he tapped out the code.
The Replicator started up and began to spit out little square pads of steel wool filled with soap. The Replicator had been built by lazy people only interested in it's commercial capabilities and SOS was recognized as a request for a pad to clean with. It knew nothing about the distress signal.
So John sat in his captain's chair, tapping out the only code he knew, somewhere between Saturn and Jupiter, laughing uncontrollably, knowing starvation was at hand, help would be too late and his rescuers would find a spaceship filled with little square pads of steel wool filled with soap and wonder why.
Copyright reserved Don "Q" International
Continue to expect thunderstorms as spring arrives. Do not know which of the Mr. Groundhogs was correct. Looks like spring is about upon us and I love it. Hope you do to. Just keep watching the weather channel and listening to the nets. We did have two severe thunderstorm systems move through our area in February. Good work on the WX Nets and reports to the NWS. WB5OCD
Prize Winners For SELARC 2000
We are pleased to announce the main prize winners for SELARC 2000:
Grand Prize-ICOM 706MKII-Rick Bass,KC5OXI
2nd Prize - ICOM 200 - Rene Landry, N5ZI
3rd Prize - MFJ 1270C - Robert Walker, W5RLK
Nathan Gifford, N5BFC
President - SELARC
Update: Hamfest 2000
The Jackson Amateur Radio Club hosted another very successful Capitol City Hamfest and ARRL Section Convention on February 4th and 5th. Chairman Ron Brown, AB5WF, reports over 1200 registered. Further, at the VE Session on Sunday following the Hamfest, 57 candidates attempted to upgrade with a very high number being successful.
Special guests at the Hamfest this year were Steve Ewald, WV1X, Field Services Administrative Assistant at ARRL Headquarters, Henry Leggett, WD4Q, ARRL Delta Division Vice Director, and Jim Stafford, W4QO, President of QRP International.
This year's Hamfest featured an unprecedented number of forums. In addition to the ARRL Forum, sessions were held on such topics as QRP, DX, APRS, and MARS. The Baptist hams also had their annual meeting to elect officers.
An ad hoc meeting was organized on Saturday afternoon by KI5FW, N5XXX, WB5OCD, and W5XX in an attempt to organize a linked repeater network across the state for use during emergency situations. The approach for this plan would be for area and local nets to collect information for emergency management agencies and then designate a liaison to pass the information through the linked repeater system to the agency requesting the information.
Using this concept the emergency links would not be overloaded with non-essential traffic, and local hams could continue using their repeaters while at the same time gathering additional information of interest to the emergency management agencies.
After discussion the following network was initially proposed. Meridian (440.5) will link with Forest (147.39), which in turn will link with Jackson (146.94). Further, Waynesboro (147.105) and Purvis (146.67) will link with Collins (146.985) which in turn will link with Jackson (146.94). At 8 PM on the Sunday night after the Hamfest an operational test was conducted by N5XXX Everything worked except the link from Waynesboro to Collins which will require additional equipment. Wow!!!
The linking was such a success that a weekly net has been proposed in order to regularly test emergency preparedness, to determine the area over which emergency information can be gathered, and to continue to build interest in emergency communications.
Looking further down the pike, possibly other repeaters can be linked into this network to add more coverage area, especially the Gulf Coast and North of I-20. Stand by for developments! 73 de W5XX
Event: Severe Weather Seminar/Basic & Advanced Spotter
Date: Saturday March 18, 2000
Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Where: North Mississippi Regional Medical Center
830 South Gloster
For more info contact: Benny McDowell, 662-841-9020
Event: FCC testing session
Date: Sunday, March 19, 2000
Time: 2 PM
Where: 16 Nottingham Lane, Columbus, MS
Several people have indicated a desire to test on that date. If you want to take a test on that date notify Bob Ray, K5VVA, at 241-5342. If you are taking a test you need to bring:
1. A photo ID or two non-photo ID's.
2. $6.65 in correct change. (There is no charge for the Novice exam)
3. The original and a copy of your current license.
4. The original and a copy of any current CSCE's.
We will be giving tests based upon the "old" exam material. On and after April 15, exams based upon the new study material will be given. Any CSCE earned at this session (other than cw) will be of no value after April 15.
We have also scheduled another test session for Saturday April 15 at 10 am at 16 Nottingham Lane. This will primarily be a paperwork session for those passing test elements in the "window of opportunity" but we will give the "new" tests for anyone interested..
Please pass this information along to any friends that may be interested and/or do not have email. LET ME KNOW IF YOU PLAN TO TEST. (So, far Ron Braswell and Jimmy Watkins are on the list.) 73, K5VVA
Northeast Mississippi Swapfest Y2K
The Tupelo Amateur Radio Club Brings You:
The Northeast Mississippi Swapfest Y2K
April 8th 9 am until ???
Tombigbee State Park
Just off Hwy 6, Southeast of Tupelo.
Tables are available under a large Pavilion for $3.00 per table (only 17 tables available). Admission is FREE! Tailgating is FREE! (You can't beat the price). Food will be provided for purchase. (Corny's famous Smoked Sausage IS A MUST!). For info or to get a table contact: Jack Ellis KI5QV at 662-842-7255.
Directions From Downtown Tupelo:
Take Hwy 6 East (Main Street) to East Tupelo. Before reaching the large water tower at Elvis' Birthplace you will be bearing off to the right and following Hwy. 6 South. Go about 4 Miles until you reach Plantersville.
There are signs directing you to Tombigbee State Park. Drive into the Park and go to the main office. The Swapfest is all the way in the back of the Park.
From Highway 45 North or South: Take Hwy 6/Main Street exit. Turn east on Hwy 6/Main Street. Follow the above directions.
Talk-In will be available on 147.380/.980 (No Tone)
Have a great month
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