Friday, January 26, 2018

Keeping Things Stirred Up!


Phil Duggan N1EP has been in the Ham Radio community for, well, let’s leave it as a long time. Phil has held a number of titles in the radio community and I think all that’s left is Jedi. He has been instrumental in organizing and resurrecting ham activities for years. His recent undertakings are covered in the below links and hope you get a chance to check them out and participate when you get a chance in the activities!
www.mainehamradiosociety.com Local Amateur Radio news and activities

www.kidzradioactive.com Educational projects that have the potential to pique children's interest in ham radio and technology and science.

www.n1ep.com Phil's home Ham page!

 

Sunday Sessions Continue!

Andrew N1WMR hooking up his new QRP rig for a demo!




Rob W8HAP, Chuck AC1BS and Jeff KA1DBE discuss the finer points of wrangling coax.
 
Sunday Sessions continue at Meadow View Apartments here in Ellsworth, held on, wait for it...Sundays. Go figure! Great place to work on a project, study and ask questions of long time radio-active folks. And drink coffee whilst spinning tall tales of elusive DX captures! 12 noon to ?
Next scheduled Sessions are :
2/4/2018
2/18/2018
3/4/2018
3/18/2018
73!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

APRS And Tactical EMCOMM


Good read and wanted to share! W1KRP
 
 
 
A presentation of APRS as a tactical EmComm solution,
from an article submitted to the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club, by N8DEU.
(appeared originally in the HARC-VOX newsletter for July 2008 pages 5,6 &7)
http://wb5rmg.somenet.net/2008/bluhor-line.gif
- this article was prompted by Doug's ARES District 6 article
in the HARC-VOX newsletter for April 2008.
-Doug Hilton < WD0UG > was discussing the value of effective NCS protocols.
- Tim has graciously allowed SomeNet to re-publish this article.
 
I read Doug Hilton’s comments from the “ARES District 6” article in the VOX from April with great interest. It was clear to me that the APRS Tactical Communication system can easily fix just about all the problems on the Emergency Net. Having to repeat callsigns 5 or 6 times to check into any net is unacceptable. Not being able to get HAM’s to use the proper international phonetics is just another confirmation that we are all human and suggests we need better methods. Have I failed to communicate effectively over the years that we already have an effective communication tool in our Amateur Radio tool box? APRS can solve these issues and provide an effective tool that has been addressing those needs for many years.

Now that I have cleared my lungs, lets take a look at the ways APRS addresses each of the points that were made in the ARES District 6 article in April’s VOX:
  • 1. NCS making 5 or 6 attempts to get the correct callsign from check-ins.
  • 2. Operators using unconventional phonetics.
  • 3. Priority messages wait for 10 or 20 stations to check-in.
  • 4. Taking check-ins is a time consuming process to get name, location, and callsign correct.
  • 5. Delay time between check-ins.
  • 6. Inefficient transfer of information.
The APRS tactical communication system addresses each of these points and many more. How does it address these points?
  • 1. Getting the correct callsign is a thing of the past unless the sending operator mistypes it. The APRS network will quickly sort out multiple check-ins as the same time. 10 or 20 stations could be logged into the network in a fraction of the time it takes to do it by voice. The bottom line is there is 10-100 times more bandwidth available for the important information from multiple stations. Emergency traffic can actually be passed while stations are checking into the net very easily.
  • 2. There is no need for phonetics in the APRS world. What you see on the screen is what you get. In addition, there is no need to write anything on paper at the NCS station when using APRS, because it can be logged automatically in a file for archival or sent to a printer for automatic documenting.
  • 3. Priority messages suffer due to the way a voice network and human interaction work. This is the most limiting factor of any voice network. It is only as good as the operators and the protocol allow it, but it is a time consuming process. Priority traffic on APRS is built into the core operation of the system. New traffic takes precedence over older traffic. Some may argue that APRS uses an un-connected protocol. This is true and it is the main reason that it is so efficient. New messages take priority and traffic is re-transmitted by an decaying rate while new messages are re-transmitted more often taking priority. Personal messages are acknowledged by sending a message back to the sender to stop sending it. Bulletin messages are the beauty of APRS as they are sent in the same decaying rebroadcast format and everybody receives it virtually at the same time with the broadcast protocol. Thus, newer bulletins take priority in any time critical event.
  • These messages DO NOT wait for check-ins or anybody else. They are multiplexed in between check-ins in case of a REAL emergency situation. I can remember on the old connected packet BBS network when weather bulletins took forever. When the weather was bad the number of bulletins brought the network to a crawl. It would take all night to get all the weather traffic using that old protocol. Today, we utilize that same equipment employing the APRS unconnected packet protocol and that problem is gone. Weather bulletins are sent in real time from the NWS and broadcast to every APRS packet station for all to receive immediately. With some weather bulletins you will be informed exactly how far and in what direction you are from the maximum area of concern. This is immediate information and it waits for no operator to send the message or announce it over a voice repeater. How many times have we experienced storms in our area and the voice net woke up after the threat had passed through the area. This simply does not happen with APRS because APRS users are informed immediately as those NWS messages are broadcast. In fact, with all the weather nodes available on APRS you can set trigger points for wind speed, temperature, and barometric pressure to sound an alarm on your APRS station remotely.
  • 4. With APRS you can reduce the check-in time to a fraction of what you experience today. If those 10-20 check-in stations used the APRS network, the check-in time could be less than 2 minutes, nobody would have to repeat their information (unless they typed it wrong), your location information would be automatic and your APRS symbol would be placed on the map. I know I have refrained from checking into the voice net many times because of the lengthy process. Any station can send priority traffic at any point, even during the check-in process. It is easy, effortless, and better utilizes the bandwidth for increased traffic when needed. Voice nets will never compete with the speed of traffic passing on the APRS digital network!
  • 5. The delay between check-ins is a waste of bandwidth. There will be dupes on a voice network and there will be dupes on an APRS network. The advantage is the APRS network automatically takes care of those dupes rather quickly by the design of the protocol and no human intervention is required. Any delay is wasted bandwidth that can be used more efficiently to transfer information.
  • 6. Inefficient transfer of information on a voice network can be a thing of the past with the APRS network. Information is sent as the sender intended. No repeats are necessary that the protocol does not already address.
  •  

After digesting this material, I read Rolf’s article titled “Madison County ARES / RACES Update” in the April VOX concerning weather spotter training. Here is another example of where APRS is a practical tool for the services of the Amateur Radio Community. APRS is already weather oriented. No other tool in the Amateur Radio Community contains the weather reporting capabilities of APRS. NWS weather bulletins are broadcasted in real time on the APRS network. Those who utilize APRS maps will see counties highlighted in red or yellow indicating areas with watches or warnings posted in addition to the bulletin itself. You always know how far you are located from the maximum area of concern. All this information is available on the APRS radio network as well as the Internet APRS network since they are seamlessly integrated. Weather is unpredictable at times and the APRS tactical communication system fits the mold on VHF or UHF to contain traffic to a specific area or event. The Internet is nice but it is not required in a tactical communication system where digipeaters can be easily installed to make any necessary connections with conventional radio equipment. APRS knows where you are located, which takes away any guesswork by simply looking on a map and physically seeing your location relative to any activity that may be of concern. In the end, APRS is really an informational awareness system and it performs its function very well.

What better tools do we have for a tactical communication system? The APRS infrastructure has grown and continues to grow in popularity with new digipeaters being added to this tactical communication system. We have solutions to serve the public interest not just a bunch of toys. Although, APRS is a pretty cool toy.

Am I picking on the HAM radio population?
You bet! The status quo or old fashion methods may be a little dated for our nets to run efficiently. Does this make you mad? It should! It should make you so mad that your blood starts pumping uncontrollably to the point you get on you feet and think about the problems and the solutions. If we do not have the solution, then what service will replace us along with our valuable radio spectrum? How do you spell the value of Amateur Radio?

Happy APRS Packeting
73’s de Tim - N8DEU

 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

EAWA Minutes January 11, 2018


           
 
 
EAWA

The January 11th meeting of the EAWA was called to order at 7:04 PM by President Chris Stanley N1CJS . Evie KA1BRA made a motion to accept the December Minutes as e-mailed. Rob W8HAP seconded the motion. The motion passed. Dick W1KRP made a motion to accept the Treasurer's Report that was seconded by Chuck AC1BS.  The motion carried.

                                                        

         EMCOMM  NETS                                                               EAWA  NETS

Tuesdays at 7:00PM on Simplex 146.565                   Wednesdays at 7:00PM on the 147.030 Repeater

January 16  Chris WeaverAB1PZ                              January 17 Chris WeaverAB1PZ        

January 23  Evie Sargent KA1BRA                           January 24  Evie Sargent KA1BRA              

January 30 Chuck Liebow AC1BS                             January 31 Chuck Liebow AC1BS

February 6 Dick Small W1KRP                                 February 7 Dick Small W1KRP        

(Evie KA1BRA wanted those interested in doing nets to know that he/she does NOT have to do both Tuesday and Wednesday nets. Feel free to volunteer for either or both.)  

           
                                                            PROGRAM

Phil N1EP presented a power point presentation and talk on Kidz Radio Active. This is a program designed by Phil et al to get our youth interested in science and ham radio. For more information, please go to www.kidzradioactive.com.

 
                                                            Old Business

Slate of Officers to be voted upon:

The Nominating Committee (Evie KA1BRA, Chris AB1PZ, Chuck AC1BS) presented the following slate to be voted upon:

                                                President Chris Stanley N1CJS

                                                Vice-President Dick Small W1KRP

Additions from the floor:       Co-Secretary/Treasurer Joan Hildreth W1DLC & Evie Sargent KA1BRA

                                                Board Member Jeff Hanscom KA1DBE

All in favor; none opposed.

 
                                                            New Business

Field Day Committee – Dick W1KRP suggested that a Field Day Committee be appointed before we get much further into 2018. Those “volunteering” to be on that committee are Chuck AC1BS, Dick W1KRP, and Chris N1CJS. John KQ1P added that depending on the location Mary and Margaret KB1TPE would be willing to help Evie KA1BRA with the cooking—great cooks and lovely ladies!

Thanks, John, for volunteering them!

Winter Field Day – Winter Field Day will take place on Saturday, January 27th from 1:00-5:00PM. We will use the club station. Please bring snacks/whatever to share.

Donated Equipment: Burt Lowry K7HUN made the motion to give radio equipment that was donated to the EAWA by Barb Murnane WB1EHS and can be used by the Kidz Radio Active program to N1EP.

I missed who seconded the motion, but it passed.

Club Station W1TU- Dick W1KRP reported that the club station has been cleaned up and is operating. The new battery needs to be charged and stored. The station does need a power strip.

W1TU License Renewal- The W1TU FCC License is up for renewal by May. As club Trustee, Rob has done the renewal for us and it is in his name. He wanted to know if the EAWA wanted him to remain Trustee for the club call with the FCC. Chris N1CJS made a motion for Rob W8HAP to continue as Trustee and to please do the FCC license renewal. The motion was seconded by Burt K7HUN. The motion passed. Thank you, Rob!

 Winter Fest In Augusta -Phil N1EP mentioned that Winter Fest would be held Saturday,February 24th

For more information: http://www.1tlc.org

 Symposium and VE Session  - Phil N1EP will host a VE session and Symposium on Saturday,

May 19th. The symposium will be held at Meadow View Apartments  IV Community Room,

25 Tweedie Lane, Ellsworth. Mega Builder Robots will be present. The symposium will consist of digital communication, robotics, etc.

 Rob W8HAP made a motion to adjourn that was seconded by Burt K7HUN, Jeff KA1DBE, Galen KB1NJC, and several others. So done at 8:08PM.

 Respectfully submitted ,

Evie Sargent KA1BRA

Secretary/Treasurer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                  

 

 

 


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (Copied from eHam)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NOTE: This is a article making good natured fun at a great service. It is not intended to offend and if some one is offended, sorry. W1KRP
 
from Rick McCallum, KC7MF on October 30, 2017

When all else fails, there is Amateur Radio. We all stand ready to provide communications in times of emergency. We can actually do quite well at this and I do not mean to make light of it. Well maybe a little. That said.
As a new ham you may want to get your feet wet in what we call ECOM, or ECOMM, or EMCOMM...whatever. Let’s go with ECOM for brevity sake. As a newly licensed Technician-Class ‘Amateur Radio Station Operator/Licensee’ (ARSOL) uh, I mean Licensed Amateur Radio Station Operator(LARSO) you will start with the basics. You will learn emergency communications from the ground up.

The Basics:
First you will need equipment. You will need a name tag with your call sign on it. It should also have your name on it because there will not be one living soul with whom you will work who will be able to remember your name for over 30 seconds and you will get really tired of being called Mike Foxtrot. Then you will need a hat with your call sign on it. The best hat is a green hard hat indicating that you belong to a CERT team. (More about CERT in part II.) It will afford you protection when you are working “in ECOM” as we say. I recommend putting your name on the back of your hard hat. This way people who hiding behind…that is to say following your lead, will not forget your name. It will be easy for them to communicate with you at the disaster site, shouting official ECOM stuff like, “Rick. Slow down. It is really scary here. Do you smell smoke?”…And other such essential emergency communications. You will need camouflage fatigues and combat boots. You will need a Sam Brown belt to carry your bundle of keys, your aluminum 36,000 lumen flashlight, spare batteries, your canteen, your flare gun, your knife, your first-aid kit, your multi-tool and your portable field Morse code key (snicker).
You will crown your new outfit with an orange reflective vest with ECOM on the back of it. (You may be asking yourself, “won’t the orange vest counteract the effect of the camouflage fatigues? The answer is yes but just drop it. OK? There is no call to be pedantic.) Now let’s move on. There are Ham radio Badges. They look just like Police badges. Do not get one. You will look like an id…well let’s just say the police do not like any badges with references to “ham” on them. OK? A little sensitivity…

Of course you will need an “HT”. This is short for “Handy Talkie”. Your HT will cost anywhere from, at the high end, about $600.00 down to, at the low end, about $6.00 used. Perhaps one of your new ECOM friends (or should I say platoon mates) will help you. “Oh? Bill is looking for an HT? He can have this worthless piece of…oh there you are Bill. Let me give you this rig to get you started”. Wouldn’t that be a lucky stroke? He/or she may just be your new Elmer. Please note. There is no difference between a $500 and a free HT. They all work equally, ah, one might almost say, well.

Thus outfitted you are ready for ECOM training. This is a series of evening classes taught by a guy named Frank (known affectionately in the ECOM community as Methuselah.) You will be able to spot him right away at the radio club meetings as he is the one with the green hard hat, orange vest, HT with remote mic and ham radio badge. (NOTE: Before you ask, yes we have all noticed that he looks like an 80 year old school crossing guard and it is not necessary to mention it.) These classes will be exciting. You will learn ECOM procedures, first aid, outdoor survival, equipment preparation, which vegetation is edible, jeep riding, and why you should keep all of your radio equipment in a Faraday Cage right next to your three year supply of food and 846 guns, and always vote libertarian and...but then I digress… (Do not worry for the moment what a Faraday Cage is. You will not really need to know until you go for your extra class ticket unless, God Forfend, events lead you to really need one but in that case the subject is sort of academic.)
Trained to the hilt you will participate in events designed to hone your emergency communications skills. Most of these are bike races. Your leadership will have pled... that is to say, kindly volunteered your group’s services to monitor the race route in case something awful might happen. There you will be; dressed in your entire combat-first-responder ensemble, HT at the ready, stuffed full of surplus trail mix and ready for any emergency. And then it happens. Something awful! You get on your HT and shout, “Operation Chainguard Flash Eagle Leader Alpha Charlie One whatever this is Flash Thunder Falcon three four, Kilo Echo Seven Uniform Xray Echo, we have a code 6. A bicycle just crashed into three people who were not paying attention because they were on their cell phones and wandered into the race route. Get on your cell phone and call the paramedics.” And there you have it. ECOM at its most basic. Most gritty. Most…
Now if that does not whet your appetite there is more! You could become a weather observer!

Ham Radio Weather Observers

This is a highly technical program to…well…tell people it is raining or windy. I know. Even a no-code Extra can tell when it is raining and/or windy but I guess some people can’t. On edit: I was just informed that I am off-base here. It is not to tell people it is raining and/or windy. It is to tell people who are not where it is raining and/or windy that it is raining and/or windy somewhere else. That makes more sense, even to me. Oh no really?
Okay. The person who told me about the rain just told me that these “observers” go out and try to find tornadoes and then tell people that there are tornadoes somewhere else. You could do that! How cool. You could don all of your ECOM equipment, jump into your emergency SUV, and head toward really nasty looking weather, where you could jump out and look for funnel clouds. Here is where you must make a strategic decision. “Do I carry all of my emergency equipment or travel “light”. The decision will be based upon your skill set. If you are not, shall we say, fleet of foot, the extra weight of the equipment might come in very handy. Your training will be important here. At times like these it is sometimes easy to forget proper radio procedure. But you will stay calm. Seeing a funnel cloud roughly the size of Cleveland headed your way you will take cover behind that… oh what is there... fence post... key your HT and say..."Holy, I mean Hotel Sierra there is Bravo Foxtrot funnel cloud, about the size of Cleveland that just ate my camouflage SUV and is headed right for me. Where is it? I’ll check my map. I have it in my back pocket... I’ll let you know in a minute. Something has uh gotten on my map."

Doesn’t that sound like fun? And it’s important too. It allows the folks at headquarters to tell others not to go near you (or where they believe you were) and give thanks that they are not there with you. Don’t worry. I have never actually heard of someone getting his clothes blown off and you can always get another CERT hat and map. My suspicion is that when this article is published there will be a great many of them available. All the better for an aspiring storm watcher.
This is enough for the first installment. Next time we will cover CERT and ARES. There is much to cover. But at this point it is important to add that what ham radio can and does do in emergencies is a very real thing. I have answered a real Mayday call myself and it is quite the experience. Sometimes though it is instructive to take an alternate look at some of our “foibles.” That is what we just did.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Local Ham Radio Happenings!!


Image result for ham radio
Seems to be quite a bit going on in the Down East Maine area in the Ham Radio community! Below I have listed the highlights. Please stay tuned to the local frequencies for updates and the local nets!
**The “Sunday Sessions” will be starting back up on Sunday November 12th at noon time! If you have a project you are working on and want to share or just work on bring it along! Questions on operations and/or equipment…hopefully they can be answered! The session on the 12th will be an open discussion as well on VHF digital ops with emphasis on getting reacquainted with packet radio and APRS! Bring your setups if you wish to get going or troubleshoot! ALL are welcome to attend, even those new to the hobby and want to see what it’s all about!
**Last week (10/10/2017) Phil acted as net ctrl on a 10M net and it was interesting! Contacts from the Ellsworth area were pretty good, Phil had a hard time copying but with relays all seemed to make their presence known! Tonight 10/17 there will be a 6M FM net at 1830 hours on 52.525…now THAT should be fun!
**On Saturday, November 18th at 1300 hours there will be a VE Test session at Meadow View Apartments Phase 4 Community Room, 25 Tweedie Lane in Ellsworth. For those wanting further information contact Phil Duggan N1EP at phil.n1ep@gmail.com . (No N1CJS, I am not ready to test to Extra!)
**Theres some new kids in town…well sorta. The group once known as the Narraguagus Bay Amateur Radio Club, has resurrected as the Maine Ham Radio Society holding its first meeting on October 14th in Milbridge. It’s great to see the group active again and offering more for the Hams further Down East! Look for info on further meetings!

 **Next meeting of the Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association (EAWA) will be held on Thursday November 9th . The business meeting which is held at 1900 hours will be preceded by training provided by the National Weather Service starting at 1800 hours centered on winter weather observation/reporting. The following is the NWS release:

2017 Winter Spotter Training Ellsworth

 
Help your National Weather Service by becoming a Winter Weather Storm Spotter!  Storm spotters report snowfall, ice accumulation, high winds, high surf, freezing spray and coastal flood erosion during Maine’s long harsh winters.  Spotter training will teach you about winter storms, in addition to teaching you how to accurately measure and report significant winter weather phenomenon! 
 
Where: Meadowview Apartments (Phase IV Community Room), 25 Tweedie Lane, Ellsworth, ME

 When: Thursday, November 9th at 6 PM

 Cost: Free to all those interested in Weather!!!

 
**Next Ham Radio breakfast will be Saturday, November 4th at 0900 hrs at Denny’s in Ellsworth. Confirm with Phil N1EP at phil.n1ep@gmail.com who and how many will be attending!

 
**Look for upcoming information about a Special Events Station during next fall’s Autumn Gold Festival here in Ellsworth!

 

EAWA October 2017 Meeting Minutes


EAWA Minutes October 12, 2017

The October 12th meeting of the EAWA was called to order at 7:05 PM by President Chris Stanley N1CJS. Evie KA1BRA made a motion to accept the September Minutes as e-mailed. Rob W8HAP seconded the motion. The motion passed. Dick W1KRP made a motion to accept the Treasurer's Report ( Petty Cash $313.57, Savings account $1050.50,  VE Account $18.82, and Repeater Fund $92.39) that was seconded by Chuck AC1BS.  The motion carried.

                                                           

                        EMCOMM                 NETS                                      EAWA

Tuesdays at 7:00PM on 146.910 Repeater     Wednesdays at 7:00PM on the 147.030 Repeater

October 17  Evie Sargent KA1BRA              October 18 KB1ONQ Scott Grindle

October 24  Chris Weaver AB1PZ                 October 25 Chris Weaver AB1PZ     

October 31 Phil Duggan N1EP                      November 1 Bradley Nuding KC1HVP                   

November 7 Chuck Liebow AC1BS              November 8 Chuck Liebow AC1BS 

REQUEST FROM N1EP_NET CONTROLS, PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR CHECK-INS SO THEY WILL KNOW YOU HEARD THEM!

                                                            Old Business

October Breakfast – Greg N1IRH reported that the October breakfast held at Denny's in Ellsworth  Saturday, October 7 at 9:00AM was attended only by three.

                                                            New Business

November  Breakfast – TheNovember breakfast at Denny's in Ellsworth will be Saturday, November 4th at 9:00AM. Please let Phil N1EP (n1ep@yahoo.com) know if you plan to attend so he can give them a head count.

6 Meter Net – Phil N1EP stated that there is a possibility of having a weekly 6 m (52.525 MHz) net on Tuesdays at 6:30PM

Echo Link Down – Chris N1CJS reported that his Echo Link is down. Possibly it can be moved to another location where it will decide to start working again.

November Test Session – Since there is interest in a VE test session, Phil may try to get one scheduled for November.

Program for November – Chris N1CJS announced that the EMA will be hosting a SKYWARN program at Meadow View Apartment IV Common Room 25 Tweedie Lane, Ellsworth at 6:00PM on Thursday, November 9th.  The SKYWARN program will be presented by a meteorologist from Caribou.This program is different than the one presented earlier this year so please try to attend. The EAWA business meeting will immediately follow the SKYWARN program.

Sunday Sessions -  Sunday Sessions will start November 12th noon to whenever . Bring a project or just drop by to see what's happening or to operate the club station. Meadow View Apartments 25 Tweedie Lane

Junk Requested – John KQ1P would like to have your junk radio stuff for a high school class project.

He may offer a radio class to the students in the spring. Joe WA4OVO is willing to help teach  from afar.

Sweep Stakes – Phil N1EP is hosting at his home on Sunday, November 19th the Sweepstakes on phone.  Show up anytime and operate or check out the action . Light refreshments will be served.

 Rob W8HAP made a motion to adjourn. John KQ1P seconded. So done at 7:28 PM

 Program-Finalizing communication plans for the MDI Marathon on Sunday, October 15, 2017.

Respectfully submitted,

Evie Sargent/KA1BRA

Secretary/Treasurer