Meetings & Nets
First Friday Monthly meeting at 7:30 PM at LaPlata Train Station;
Net-Tuesdays- N3NO repeater in Prince Frederick: 145.350-, with a PL tone of: 156.7 (First Tuesday)
KA3GRW repeater in LaPlata: 443.700+, with a PL tone of: 179.9 (Remaining Tuesday’s)
Once a month social gathering for breakfast –please check the website for schedule
Second Tuesday Commex with the ARES/RACES team Charles County 7:00PM EOC LaPlata
How to Contact Us:
PO BOX 169, La Plata, MD 20646
President: Rob Hoyt email@example.com
Vice-president: Mike Tackish firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary: Art Audley Aa3rt@comcast.net
Treasurer/membership: Bob Davidson, email@example.com
Activities: Spencer Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Training Officer Bob Curran email@example.com
Secretary Emeritus: Bill Palmer KE3RE
Smoke Signals is published monthly as the newsletter of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club, Inc. Items to be published in the Smoke Signals should be submitted by the Sunday before the first Friday of the month. Email submissions are most efficient firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Michelle Sack PO Box 1182 Waldorf, MD 20604. Permission is granted to reprint.
Primary: Patrick – KB3UYZ
Alternate: Mike – KA3GRW
Four new hams
On Saturday (April 20, 2013) the CCARC volunteer examiner team administered tech exams to a local class being held in White Plains. I am happy to report that there are four new hams in our area. Please listen for them on the air and welcome them to the ham community. The four new hams are listed below.
Preston Ransom – KC3AMG
Eleni Franklin – KC3AMH
Ronald Franklin – KC3AMI
Joseph Michela – KC3AMJ
73, Bob, KE3GG
After a hiatus of a couple of months, it’s time for me to resume the monthly meeting follow up reports, especially since there were some changes in the CCARC’s “officer corps”.
Last night’s meeting found 16 folks at the La Plata Train Station Museum for the April 2013 meeting. Attendees, as always in alpha-numeric order:
KB3KOW Boy Scout Bob
W1BJC Bridge Bob
WD8OYG Dwayne (Accompanied by wife Jennifer)
The meeting came to order at 7:30PM. Owing to the number of new attendees, we began with a round of self-introductions.
Then guest speaker, Dwayne (WD8OYG) Kincad, owner of LDG Electronics, began a presentation on automatic antenna tuners. Dwayne began by discussing what an antenna tuner is and how it works, transforming the impedance of an antenna or feed line to a value that allows a transceiver to produce the maximum of RF power. He then gave a short history of tuners and discussed the three most common tuner configurations and the types of auto tuners. The three tuner types are desktop, long wire and internal and the strong and weak points of each were discussed. We received a bit of refresher training on measuring SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) and calculating impedance. Dwayne then demonstrated the workings of a couple of the antenna tuners his firm produces and gave us even more refresher training, this time in binary numbers.
Dwayne produced his first antenna tuner in 1995 and authored an article that appeared in the January 1996 issue of QST. According to Dwayne, reprints of this article are one of the most requested reprints in the history of QST.
Finally Dwayne and Jennifer discussed their operation and some of the challenges they’ve faced as equipment manufacturers. A number of club members said that they owned an antenna tuner produced by LDG, in fact, there were a couple of members who stated that they owned more than one. All were in agreement that they were more than satisfied with the operation of their tuners. If you’d like to check out LDG’s product line, follow the link:
We’d like to thank Dwayne and Jennifer for a most interesting presentation. Dwayne thoughtfully produced a handout although there were more attendees than handouts. If anyone else would like to see one, I bring mine to next month’s meeting.
After a short break, we resumed with the business meeting. Officer reports:
Secretary: Newsletter editor Michelle (N3YRZ) sent the April issue of Smoke Signals. Now that we are able to send the newsletter, with photos and attachments, I’d like to directly forward it to the membership list. It will still be posted at both the K3SMD.org site as well as the club’s Facebook group.
Treasurer: The treasury remains in the black. There have been some additional dues from new members. Expenses have included the yearly club insurance bill and reimbursing Fly Boy Bob (KE3GG) for items relating to the VE team. The post office box rent is due this month. The membership roster will be updated with the new members in the very near future.
Activities: Celebrate La Plata Day is Saturday, April 27th. The March of Dimes March for Babies will be in early May. This year will be a combined event with the other southern Maryland counties but will be held at Regency Furniture/ Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Stadium. Details to follow.
I’m happy to report that the CCARC has gained a number of new members in the last two months. Please welcome the following who joined our ranks during the course of tonight’s meeting:
Then came the much anticipated off year elections. Owing to the departure of President Andrew to the sunny climes of Erie, PA, the position of president needed to be filled.
Your new president is Rob, N2OMC with new vice president Mike, KA3GRW.
(For the benefit of our newer members, or for those older members who may have forgotten, our “normal” election cycle is to hold elections in March of even numbered years. Thus, we will be holding elections for the entire board-president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and activities manager-in March of 2014.)
With Rob ascending to his newly attained position as president we discussed Field Day, to be held this year on June 22nd & 23rd. Thanks to Bridge Bob (W1BJC) for once again securing Laurel Springs Regional Park for our use this year. There had been some discussion of finding an alternate location this year however, nothing has been forthcoming to date so we will plan to use Laurel Springs for now. Bob informs us that there is a pavilion further back from the one that we’ve been using for the past few years that would offer more privacy but does not have a commercial electric hookup. We need to check out this location in the daylight, particularly to check out the logistics of stringing antennas. Rob suggested that we do this after breakfast one morning.
The other major concern is generators. The suggestion was made that each club member who owns a generator bring it to Field Day to exercise the generator.
Saturday, April 20th-LDS Church in White Plains, start time 9:30AM
Saturday, June 1-Charles County Public Library, Waldorf West, more details as we get closer to the date.
Meeting adjourned at 9:38PM. Next meeting: Friday, May 3rd, start time 7:30PM
My usual caveat: I’m probably the world’s worst note taker-If I’ve overlooked something or misinterpreted something, it is purely unintentional. If something is so glaringly wrong that it needs to be corrected, please email me at email@example.com 73, de AA3RT
On July 28th, 2013 (Sunday), the BSA will host their annual Century bike ride between Charles County and St. Mary’s. There are currently three rest areas and the Net Control Location:
St Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point
Oak Ridge Park
For those who have participated in the past and familiar with the way the rest stops were run, this year will be a bit different. The rest stops will be used on both the Southern journey and again on the North bound return home, so they will be open longer than in the past. So, I’m putting the call out now for help in manning the rest areas as well as net control. Due to the amount of time that each stop will be open, we may wish to break the stops into two different time slots, however the BSA will be happy with any and all support, so even if you want to stay all day in one location,
that would also be great.
Please check your calendars and let me know if you’ll be available to help at any of the sites this year. 73 Bob KB3KOW
Other Activities and Information:
Changing the Internal Battery
in the HTX 202 and HTX 404
Hand Held Amateur Radio
By: Charles Hallock, AA3WS
April 25, 2013
The Radio Shack HTX 202 and HTX 404 hand held radios are built to last. I use the HTX 202 for APRS, Packet and Airmail. The radios are tough and easy to external power with a conical power plug in the top of the radio. The radios have no problem operating with the power from a vehicle auxiliary 13.8 Volt DC power jack. If you have the alkaline battery box that comes with the new radio you are fully mobile. Note that the NiCad batteries that came with the radio will most likely not hold a charge.
I buy the HTX 202 at Hamfests for $5 to $10. At this price the “Er 1” code is most likely present. (Remember before buying a HTX 202 or 404 ask if the internal battery is bad. Most people at the Hamfest inform you the internal battery is bad or there is an “Er 1” code, if you ask. Once the internal battery failure is acknowledged, the price drops.)
I obtain the internal batteries at “batteryBob” at www.batterybob.com. The battery needed for the HTX 202 and 404 is the CR2032-T. (From some manufactures the battery may have a plastic cover.) Note: The tab placement is important for installing a new battery. The battery from batteryBob has the correct tab placement. The cost of the battery is $13.99 with free shipping.
Picture Source: www.batteryBob.com
Tools and Supplies:
Small Phillips Screw Driver
Small Blade Screw Driver (Pry Bar)
Needle Nose Pliers
Side Cutting Pliers
Soldering Station or Iron
Heat Shrink approximately ½”
Battery Replacement Procedure
1. “Er 1” on the display means it is time to change the internal battery.
2. Measure the new battery voltage. The voltage should be greater than 3 Volts DC. NOTE: If the battery voltage is not greater than 3 Volts DC you need a new battery.
3. Remove the 10 case screws starting with the 4 battery slide screws and 2 battery contact block screws. When you remove the battery slide a metal clip and a small black plastic slide will fall off. Remove the 4 back case screws. Place all screws and parts into a cup.
4. Case separation is accomplished by “SLIGHTLY” prying the back case. Use finesse to remove the battery contact block.
5. You will now see the coin battery. Measure the battery voltage. If the voltage is greater than 3 Volts DC, the battery may not be the problem. Change the battery anyway because it is old and you are already here. Practice R (sic) good.
6. NOTE: The positive terminal of the battery is face up!
7. Lift off and retain the insulator on top of the battery.
8. With a sharp knife cut the heat shrink on the positive terminal tab and slide the heat shrink up the wire.
9. Power up your soldering iron and set the temperature control to 699 degrees Fahrenheit. NOTE: You are heating a lot of mass here. You need a hot iron on the battery terminals. During the unsoldering and soldering placing a dab of fresh solder on your iron tip will aid in the heat transferee process.
Side Bar: Why 699 degrees Fahrenheit? 699 degrees Fahrenheit is below the fume off gassing of lead. 699 degrees keeps the Safety folks happy at my place of employment. Life R (sic) good.
10. Unsolder the (+) battery terminal tab.
11. Lift the battery up. Note: You will need the pad below the battery. The pad may be in several pieces. Don’t fret; we will glue the pieces back on.
12. Unsolder the (-) battery terminal tab and remove the battery.
13. Install a 1/8” piece of heat shrink on the NEW (-) battery terminal tab and apply heat to shrink.
Side Bar: Lithium batteries are very unhappy when the terminals are shorted. The installation of the above piece of heat shrink prevents the (-) tab contacting the (+) terminal which is the upper case of the battery.
14. Remove the remnants of the pad off the bottom of the old battery and glue them to the pad remnants where the old battery was on the radio shield. Place some glue on the top surface of the pad for the battery to stick to. The glue I use is Rubber Cement; rubber cement gives you plenty of time for the next step.
15. NOTE: The positive terminal of the battery is face up!
16. Place the battery on the pad were the old battery was. Solder the (-) terminal to the shield were the old battery was soldered. Then use pressure on the battery to get the rubber cement to adhere (aka: stick) to the new battery. This time will vary depending on how much glue was applied.
17. Cut a piece of heat shrink ¼” long. Slide the piece of heat shrink on the (+) battery terminal wire. Push the heat shrink as far away from the end of the wire a possible. Now solder the (+) wire to the (+) battery terminal tab.
18. After cooling slide the heat shrink over the (+) battery terminal tab and apply heat to shrink.
19. Reinstall insulator removed in Step 6. You may have to apply some glue, rubber cement, to the battery top to make it adhere (stick). Time for a break to give the glue time to dry.
20. Measure the battery voltage. The voltage should be greater than 3 Volts DC.
21. Fold the back and front together. Use finesse to place the battery contact block.
22. Loosely install 4 back screws and 2 battery contact block screws.
23. 23. Install the metal clip and small black plastic slide. The clip fits in the first notch. Now place the battery slide over the metal clip and loosely install the 4 battery slide screws. Ensure the metal clip is in its place. Tighten the 4 battery slide screws. Tighten the 2 contact block screws. Tighten the 4 back case screws..
24. Power up the radio the display will flash “ER 1”.
25. Turn radio off. Press and hold “F” and “D” and turn on the radio. The “F” is the Function button which is just above the Transmit button on the left side of the radio. There is not a picture of the left side of the radio in my paper. Function is used to access the alternate push button commands printed above the push buttons.
FCC Seeks to Reassess RF Exposure Limits
On March 27, the FCC released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and a Notice of Inquiry (ET Docket Nos. 13-84 and 03-137). The documents seek to reassess the FCC’s RF exposure limits and policies, as well as to propose changes to the FCC’s rules regarding human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields.
These proposed changes would affect the Amateur Radio Service (Part 97) rules- can be found on the web in PDF format at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2013/db0329/FCC-13-39A1.pdf.
In the 201-page document, the FCC noted that “[p]eriodic review of the government’s rules and regulations to ensure they have kept pace with current knowledge and changing needs is an important
characteristic of good government, and we here will advance the
process of providing a comprehensive review and modification, where appropriate, of this Commission’s various rules pertaining to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for environmental reviews, specifically those reviews related to health and safety of radiofrequency (RF) emissions from radio transmitters. Our actions herein are intended to ensure that our measures are compliant with our environmental responsibilities and requirements and that the public is appropriately protected from any potential adverse effects from RF exposure as provided by our rules, while avoiding any unnecessary burden in complying with these rules.”
The document is divided into three parts: a First Report and Order
(First R&O) and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in ET Docket No. 03-137, and a Notice of Inquiry (Inquiry) in a new docket, ET Docket No. 13-84. In the R&O, the FCC looks at several technical and semantic issues — initiated in 2003 — to be revised and updated; in the FNPRM, the FCC proposes to further update and revise its procedures and treat all services equally.
In the Inquiry, the FCC seeks comments to determine whether its RF exposure limits and policies need to be reassessed. “Since
consideration of the limits themselves is explicitly outside of the
scope of ET Docket 03-137, we propose with the Inquiry to open a new docket to consider those limits in light of more recent
developments,” the FCC said. “The Inquiry is intended to open
discussion on both the currency of our RF exposure limits and
possible policy approaches regarding RF exposure. We look forward to developing a complete record to determine whether the current rules and policies should remain unchanged, or should be relaxed or tightened.”
According to the FCC, mitigation matters are “post-evaluation
procedures to ensure exposure limits are not exceeded, such as
labels, signs, barriers, enforcement and occupational issues.” In
its Notice of Inquiry, the FCC included clarifications related to
the application of occupational exposure limits for devices and at
fixed transmitter sites. The FCC noted that it “should be helpful to
licensees to codify our earlier adopted policy with regard the use
of occupational/controlled limits at Amateur Radio stations.”
This policy was first established in the RF Report and Order of
1996, but it was not incorporated in the rules at that time. It
allows amateur stations to be evaluated “with respect to
occupational/controlled exposure limits, as long as appropriate
training and information has been provided to the amateur licensee
and members of his or her immediate household. Other nearby persons who are not members of the amateur licensee’s household must be evaluated with respect to the general population/uncontrolled exposure limits.” The FCC will codify this policy by adding a paragraph as a new sub-section in Section 1.1310 – radiofrequency radiation exposure limits — to its rules.
The FCC pointed out that one goal of the general exemptions from
routine RF exposure evaluation proposed “is to avoid specific
exemptions for particular services and ensure a consistent set of
rules without exceptions.” With this in mind, the FCC is proposing
to delete the special exemptions from evaluation in the Amateur
Radio Service in Section 97.13(c) of its rules.
“We appreciate that Amateur Radio operators are knowledgeable about the appropriate use of their equipment, such that separation
distances are likely to be maintained to ensure compliance with our exposure limits,” the FCC said. “However, since the existing amateur exemptions are based only on transmitter power and do not consider separation distance or antenna gain, exempt transmitting antennas that are unusually close to people could potentially lead to non-compliant exposure levels.” The FCC said that a separation distance of at least 24 feet would meet its proposed exemption criteria, “considering a currently exempt 50 W transmitter at VHF in accord with Section 97.13(c) and assuming an antenna gain of 6 dBd.”
The FCC noted that existing classification of amateur exposure as
occupational “is consistent with use of our proposed general
exemption criteria based on general population exposure limits
because awareness of exposure greater than the general population
limits is required in all occupational settings, including amateur
households. Application of the general exemptions proposed here to Amateur Radio installations would preclude the possibility of
overexposure and require further evaluation only when necessary,
giving guidance for both fixed and mobile transmitting antennas.”
The FCC invited comments on how this would affect the amateur
community: “Parties that support maintaining the current exemption based on power alone are requested to explain how it provides adequate assurance that the public is protected against exposure to RF energy in excess of our limits and the extent of the burden imposed by this proposal. We encourage interested parties to comment on the relative costs and benefits of the proposed changes in this section, as well as those of alternative approaches.”
“The ARRL has an RF Safety Committee, consisting of experts in the field,” explained ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ; “The committee members, as well as Board members and staff are reviewing the lengthy document and will formulate a response.”
Comments will be accepted until 90 days after the R&O, FNPRM and Notice of Inquiry are published in the Federal Register (this can take up to six weeks after its release by the FCC). Reply comments will be accepted until 150 days after publication in the Federal Register.