Meetings & Nets
First Friday Monthly meeting at 7:30 PM at LaPlata Train Station; Net-Tuesdays 8:00 PM on 443.700 MHz, (No PL, TSQL 179.9 Hz)
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:
POBOX 169,La Plata,MD20646
President: Art Audley email@example.com
Vice-president: Charles Hallock firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary: Bill Palmer, email@example.com
Treasurer: Andrew Davidson firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership/Activities: Bob Davidson, email@example.com
Training officer Bob Curran (KE3GG) firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com or mail to Michelle Sack PO Box 1182 Waldorf, MD 20604. Permission is granted to reprint.
Date Primary Alternate
Nov. 01 W1BJC (Bridge Bob) KB3UYZ (Pat)
Nov. 08 KB3UYZ (Pat) K3NHT (Andrew)
Nov. 15 K3NHT (Andrew) AA3RT (Art)
Nov. 22 AA3RT (Art) KB3KOW (Boy Scout Bob)
Nov. 29 KB3KOW (Scout Bob) W1BJC (Bridge Bob)
From our President:
October’s meeting of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club was held this past Friday (Oct. 7th) evening at our usual meeting place, theLa PlataTrainStationMuseum. There were 7 members and 2 guests (One who was to become a member during the course of the meeting.) in attendance.The list of attendees included:
KB3KOW Boy Scout Bob
KE3GG Flyboy Bob
Andrew Davidson (AKA Unlicensed Andrew)
Spencer Johnson (Unlicensed-now CCARC’s newest member)
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some of you actually do read my meeting reminders and in lieu of a program, 3 attendees brought in some interesting items and projects for an impromptu “show and tell”.
My dire predictions of a parking lot free for all didn’t materialize-the Port Tobacco Players had a new production scheduled to begin this evening but there were surprisingly few cars in the parking lot.
Get Well Wishes: Wishing a speedy recovery to Debbie (KA3VNF) who recently went through knee replacement surgery and to Lee (N3YWZ) who also endured some recent medical problems that prevented him from attending tonight’s meeting.
The meeting came to order at 7:50PM (AKA 1950L). After a brief round of self-introductions for the benefit of our guests, we started off with the really interesting stuff-the radio related material.
KE3GG started out by displaying a simple 2 meter loop antenna that he’d recently constructed and discussed some of the theory behind it. He also showed the use of an antenna analyzer in determining the length of wire needed in different bands. Finally Bob showed off a “painter’s pole” that he’d recently purchased at Home Depot-the pole, when fully extended, is approximately 23 feet long but can be collapsed to an 8 foot length-short enough to be carried in a long-bed pickup truck. Bob also showed a clamp that screws on to the top of the pole and can be used to hold an antenna. The pole and clamp could be used in a temporary or emergency setting, all for around $50.00.
KB3UYZ then showed off a recent project of his-a fully assembled “Go Kit”. Using a carrying case that he purchased from Amazon.com for around $21.00, Pat put in most everything one may need when responding to some type of incident where emergency communications are needed. One nice touch that impressed me was the inventory list. (My “Go Kit” which doubles as my electronics toolbox is about twice the size and not nearly as organized as Pat’s.) I asked Pat if he’d share his inventory list so that some of the rest of us might have an idea of what a well-organized kit contains.
Spencer Johnson then showed off a Tesla coil that he is working on. For those of you unfamiliar with a Tesla coil, you can find more information here:
Spencer’s craftsmanship and ingenuity were evident-he’d used some unique construction materials. For instance, the base was made of a cutting board purchased at Target and wire was wound around a plastic drinking glass. He’d also constructed his own circuit boards.
Thanks to Bob, Pat and Spencer for your most interesting presentations!
After all the really neat stuff had been presented, it was time to start the business meeting:
President: My sincere thanks and a big tip of the CCARC cap to KA3GRW, KB3UYZ and KE3GG for their efforts during the Oxon Hill Century Bicycle Ride this past Sunday (Oct. 2nd). I was a late arrival after finally being relieved at my part time job. I know that KE3GG was quite busy at the net control station when I was calling to inform him that I was finally on my way. This past Sunday had to have been the worst weather that I can recall experiencing at a public service event so I really appreciate the efforts of those who were there for the entire event.
I received a telephone call from Mike (KA3GRW) prior to tonight’s meeting. Mike asked me to pass on that the 443.700 MHz repeater hasn’t been forgotten. He’s working on it as time and weather allow but there’s no estimated time of repair at the moment. As soon as the repeater is returned to operation the CCARC will be informed.
In light of the problems with both the KA3GRW and W3BPT repeaters, Mike has arranged for the CCARC to use the W4KGC (KingGeorgeCounty) repeater during the course of the BSA Potomac Heritage Bike Ride on October 30th. The W4KGC repeater operates on a frequency of 146.745 MHz (-600 KHz offset, PL 107.2).
More on the W4KGC repeater here:
Finally Spencer Johnson submitted his personal information for membership in the CCARC. He was voted in unanimously. Welcome aboard Spencer!
Vice President: Absent (Still on travel?)
Treasurer: Andrew reported that there was no income, nor were there any expenditures for the month of September, thus the treasury’s balance remains the same.
Saturday, Oct. 15th: Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) combined with Parks On The Air (POTA) at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site onRose Hill Road. In the absence of any local repeaters available, Bob may try some simplex activity for this event-frequency to be forthcoming. Your assistance in this event would be appreciated.
Wednesday, Oct. 19th: Exercise “Capital Shield” atCivistaHospital.
Sunday, Oct. 30th: Potomac Heritage 100 (Formerly Civista 100) bicycle ride. KB3KOW gave a preliminary of the currently scheduled rest stops and personnel to man each position. The route of this year’s ride has been disrupted from previous years due to the closure of Route 234 which was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Lee. More information here: http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=465494
Christmas dinner: For the benefit of newer members of the club, the CCARC does not meet in December but usually holds a Christmas dinner at a local restaurant where family members, friends, significant others, etc are invited to attend. At this time we don’t have a meeting place or date selected. If you know of a restaurant, reasonably priced with decent food that has a meeting room, preferably in the friendly confines of Charles County, please contact Boy Scout Bob (KB3KOW) with your suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob (KB3KOW) and I will be communicating in the very near future to set up 2012′s preliminary schedule. This primarily consists of going over the calendar and scheduling 2012′s meetings, avoiding holiday weekends, so that I can reserve the train station for our monthly meetings. If you aware of any already scheduled events for 2012 (For instance, we already have the tentative date for the Indian Head Century bicycle ride.), please contact Bob or me so that we can add these events to the calendar.
From the members: Pat (KB3YUZ) mentioned that he has some photos taken at last weekend’s bicycle ride to send to Jim Hudnall of the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club. He also has a couple of photo CD’s for those of you who participated in this year’s Field Day and haven’t been to a meeting recently.
The antenna raising has been delayed by weather and activities but is still tentative for later this fall. Pat will inform us ahead of time when he’d like to follow up on this.
Tom (W3TOM) talked about his and Debbie’s summer travels toColorado,Wyoming,IdahoandMontanaamong other places and also informed us on Deb’s recent knee surgery. Tom then talked about some ARRL business-he mentioned an upcoming ARRL webinar on the narrow band emergency management system (I was unable to locate a link for this one). Tom also mentioned that past webinars are available from the ARRL for a nominal fee.
Tom also asked that those CCARC members who are also members of the ARRL fill out your ballots for the upcoming ARRL election and support Bill Edgar (N3LLR) to return as Atlantic Division Director.
Tom also mentioned that the ARRL magazine “QST” will be going digital in the near future and there may be a demonstration copy on line by March of 2012. There are some aspects of this that still need to be worked out.
Bob (KE3GG) said that Jim Hudnall stopped by net control to thank the CCARC for our support of the most recent Indian Head Century ride and asks us to keep our calendars open for September 9th of 2012.
Bob’s still working on obtaining the use of a classroom in one ofCharlesCounty’s schools for a monthly kit building/technical work session.
The meeting adjourned at 9:17PM.
Next meeting: Friday, November 4th at theLa PlataTrainStationMuseum, start time 7:30PM.
Once again, my thanks to KB3KOW for his conscientious note taking during the meeting. Any errors or exclusions are my fault.
Thanks and a big tip of the CCARC cap to:
Pat (KB3UYZ) for posting 3 photos and a scan of the inventory list for his “Go Kit”. As I mentioned in last week’s membership meeting followup report, I was very impressed with Pat’s kit and his organizational skills. Thanks for the follow up Pat!
(For those of you who haven’t signed up for the CCARC Yahoo Group yet, here’s the link:)http://groups.yahoo.com/group/charlescountyhams/
Fly Boy Bob (KE3GG) for taking the net control position on last night’s weekly membership net and for the great follow up report. Appreciate your efforts Bob!
To David Tenhoff. David passed the element 2 exam this past Saturday (8th) and is now licensed as KB3WNX. Hope to hear you on the air soon David!
73, de AA3RT
Just to let the club know that we received a letter from the Oxon Hill Bicycle & Trail Club thanking us for the communications support provided for the Southern Maryland Century ride on Oct. 2nd. Bob (KE3GG), Mike (KA3GRW) and PAT (KB3UYZ) were all individually thanked in the body of the letter.
Accompanying the thank you letter was a very generous donation to the CCARC from the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club.
Next year’s ride will be held on September 9th, barring any hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes, plagues of locusts or any other natural disasters.
For those of you on the CCARC Yahoo Group, a scan of the letter can be found in the Files section labeled as “OHTyLtr0211″.
BTW-My thanks to Bob (KB3KOW) for the great writeup on the JOTA/POTA activity at the Thomas Stone National Historic Site this past Saturday and to Pat for providing photos of the event on the Yahoo Group.
73, de AA3RT
Tonight the CCARC had a successful 2-meter simplex net. There were four check-ins: KB3UYZ, Patrick; KA3GRW, Mike; K3NHT, Andrew; and W3TOM, Tom.
Patrick reported that he had taken photos of his Go-Kit that he showed at the club meeting Friday night. If anyone is interested in the phot os and information about his Go-Kit please contact him.
Mike reported that the repair work on the 443.700 MHz repeater is ongoing. He has replaced waterlogged cables on the duplexer and is working on methods to dry out the hardline feeding the antenna. He also contacted the King George repeater folks about using their repeater for the upcoming Potomac Heritage Bike Ride. They have agreed to allow us to use their repeater
which should provide excellent coverage along the route. Currently they are experiencing low power conditions on their transmitter but hope to have the repeater back to full transmit power before the bike ride.
Andrew reported that he has been absent from recent meetings because he and his lady have acquired a new puppy and his time has been spent with puppy training and the all too frequent doggy walks. He reported that he started a new job in August that allows him to work at home. He stated that he does not miss the daily commute. Of note was that Andrew checked in via EchoLink using the node at the residence of KB3KOW, Bob. I’m sure Bob would appreciate any signal reports.
Tom gave us an update on the recovery progress of his wife Debbie’s (KA3VNF) recent knee replacement surgery. Debbie continues to do fine and is making good progress. Tom reported that 10-meters and 15-meters have been wide open every day for the past few weeks. The sunspots have returned! If you haven’t tried operating on 15 or 10-meters lately you are in for a big
Good signals were heard from all who checked in by yours truly, KE3GG, acting as net control for the night. For those interested in the station setup at my location, the antenna was a Workman UVS300 base station antenna at 30 feet and the rig was a Kenwood TM-261 running 50-watts through 140
feet of Belden 9913 cable.
73 all, Bob, KE3GG
I did have one modification to the notes from the meeting that I
failed to mention last night.
Oct 19th: Exercise Capitol Shield == After talking with Wanda (KA3HI), the lead for the PG Hospital Coalition, it was discovered that the Southern Counties of Maryland (Charles, Calvert & St. Mary’s) will not be participating in the exercise.
I contacted CIVISTA to verify or see if they were going to do a ‘table top’ drill in-house but they have verified they will not be involved this year.
Vr/ Bob KB3KOW
Hello Bob (BoyScout Bob),
I am puzzled as to why Civista (fondly aka CiviTa) choose not to partake. CMC will soon be renamed because of its recent affiliation with the University of Maryland. They purchased that blue colored building next door on Charles Street that was once the OB GYN offices of Dr Aron.That structure appears to have once been residential, then added on and on and on. I expect that will be torn down and I see an expansion of some sort, along with their designation as a training hospital. That further compounds my curiosity as to why they will not be participating. I
learned of these topics via a friend who is employed by CMC, however I have yet to see anything in print. I recall the wonderful days of Physicians Memorial Hospital.. Things surely do change. The population of La Plata has exploded, and is projected to double in the next ten years. It seems that once the tornado hit, La Plata went from Mayberry-like to Raleigh-like. Almost immediately.
Sorry I missed the meeting last night. Anxious to meet a few new faces. Do you know if FlyBoy Bob has plans/sketches/diagrams for his new antenna? I would like to put one of those at my new office in Upper Marlboro. Sounds impressive.
Have great day. Will contact you later today on Monday status. It all depends on how things go as this day progresses. Appreciate your offer, as always.
73 Lee N3YWZ
Yesterday marked the 54th Jamboree On The Air and has been one of the best JOTA’s I’ve been able to participate in in recent memory.
Myself (KB3KOW) along with Rob (N2OMC) and Patrick (KB3UYZ) arrived at the Thomas Stone NHS around 0900. We went in to ensure the rangers were aware we were on site and getting ready to set up and it seemed they were more pumped up than we were about us being there.
Our location was next to the visitors center, amoung the trees and
picnic tables. They provided us an electrical outlet and after taping it down to minimize any trip hazards, we commenced setting up the equipment. With the three of us there, set up took less than 20 minutes which kept us on track for the 0930 start time. To reduce time we opted to set up an inverted “V” using a G5RV and a mast and at the top of the mast also mounted a
2M/440 J-pole. Once all was connected, we powered up the IC-718 on 20 meters, tuned up to the recommended ‘Scout’ freqs and immediately heard one station calling CQ JOTA. A quick contact was made to verify our set up and we had Florida in the books.
While this might seem like normal operations to many, as Rob can verify, this is the first time in about the last 5 JOTA’s that we’ve been able to hear anyone on HF let alone talk to them, and it gets better! While we waited a bit for any Scouts to show up (more on this later), we moved to 10 meters and found ourselves in the middle of a German contest. Using just 60 watts, we gave a call and within a few minutes had two German stations in the logs. A bit more tuning and we heard 9A9A (Croatia) calling. Yes, we did try but no luck as the more power stations out there kept getting in our way.
We moved back down to 20 meters and made a few more contacts with some other JOTA stations including those in Florida and North Carolina.
After a few hours we were happy to see two Scouts show up, but I knew someone had sent in a ringer there. See, one of the Scouts, Ryan, is the grandson of Vince Cusack, WA3WGL, but Ryan did bring along a friend and their merit badge blue cards.
If you did not know, the Radio Merit Badge can be done in one of three radio related fields:
1) Broadcast Radio
2) Shortwave Listening
3) Amateur Radio
As part of the amateur radio portion, you either have to have a 10 minute QSO or make 5 contacts. By this time 20 meters was pretty packed and trying to get a word in edge wise was difficult, so we move to 40 meters where to our luck we found out it was the New York QSO party. After some quick training, we set the Scouts loose making a number of NY QSO’s and within a matter of a few minutes they were able to get their required number of QSO’s, but then Ryan noted he really wanted to talk to granddad, so after a phone call or two, we established a link on 40 meters between Pinefield and Thomas Stone! At this point Vince talked with both boys for the needed 10 minutes. The Scouts departed happy along with a free Pin the park provided. They no sooner left and we were able to establish a 40 link to the distant location of the Flick Estate
and had a nice QSO with Lee.
We had close to 20 contacts for the day, all via HF, and that was with us not even really trying to rake up the QSO’s. Our locations included:
- North Carolina
- Maine (Moose Island)
- Iowa (Special Events)
- New York (several stations)
and the good ones:
- England (Scout Camp)
- Holland (Scout Camp)
Thomas Stone NHS: Wow! What a location and great weather! Yes, it did get a bit cool at points with the gusty wind, but a light coat helped there. The Park Rangers went out of their way in helping us and came out to check up and listen in on several occasions. We were also surprised to learn they were going to do a posting on Facebook and they have a Twitter Account and posted a note about us there.
The best part — they noted we should come back in the spring to do this again! Rob, Patrick and I all agreed this would be an excellent thing to do. Play radio and get a bit of historic education.
While I thank Rob and Patrick for spending their day playing radio, I really need to also thank Robs niece, who spent the day with us listening to us ‘talk radio’ and bothering her to make a contact or two. She appears to be at that age when she can
easily tune us out and totally ignore anything we were saying.
If there was anything ‘bad’ for the day it was the fact that the Scouts of the County didn’t take us up on this opportunity to come out and play radio. I suspect this was due to a combination of both nice weather and the desire to get out and do something else
coupled with getting the information out to the parents.
If I was looking for any “ROI” (Return On Investment), it wasn’t to be found there. In the past we’ve had some participation but that has been at a scheduled Scouting event which is normally the ‘Fall Camporee.’ We’ll have to see how things play out next year.
73 The 54th JOTA Team Rob, Pat & Bob
Just a short update. I attended the last logistics meeting and have some updates and info. First, please be prepared for some confusion on the day of the event. This is a new group trying to run it this year. So far they have less than 75 cyclist signed up on-line to participate. They do realize they will get some walk-ins on the day of the event, but those norally are a small percentage of
the overall total. The SAG routes are looking to be from stop to stop along the route. So the SAG at the starting point would do the
‘loop’ between there and the second rest stop, the next
SAG would cover the loop between the second and third
rest stop, etc, etc.
I did tell the we needed electrical power at Net Control and also
how CIVISTA worked it. When I noted a cell number was provided by the event coordinator, they looked a bit surprised, but one of the other folks there noted that Laura Castle normally gave up her cell for the day. Their proposed solution is that the once cell number provided will be forwarded to something like “GoogleTalk” and then net control can use that along with the LaPlata WiFi to get the phone calls. If you don’t think this would work, then maybe have the event coordinator forward the calls to another cell phone. They were also a bit surprised when I asked them to identify a POC or two for the event. I noted that as part of the ‘comms’ we relay info from the rest stops and it is the event coordinator or someone else who makes the decisions on what to do. The Net control would just task the SAG’s based on location to the cyclist. I’ll keep you up to date on anything more I hear.
73 Bob Greetings CCARC,
First, the magic number: 27. No, this wasn’t the total number
of riders or volunteers or even a winning lottery number. That was
the ‘degree,’ as in “Bob, why are we out when it’s 27 degrees?” type of degree. Yep, it was a nice cold brisk morning to start the annual Potomac Heritage bike ride. The good news is it would only get warmer since the day dawned clear with no hint of the Saturday night storm.
Jim (WB3KAS) and Wanda (KA3AHI) arrived before 0600 at the start and finish line behind the Charles County Court House in LaPlata and set up the net control station and in short order was up and connected to the W4KGC (King George County) repeater. The repeater worked great and did in fact provide coverage for the event, however, the one issue noted is that there was a fair amount of ducting occuring that morning and we believe that a repeater in New Castle, PA, appears to be on the same freq and was causing some mild interference.
Net Control was then joined by Bob (KB3KOW) to act as the interface between the Scouts and Net Control as well as to learn the job for future events.
As the day went on, the rest stops were manned up by Mike (KA3GRW) at Christ Church in Chaptico and Pat (KB3UYZ) at the Leonardtown Wharf and Joe (KB3HMP) joined us at the net control station later in the morning.
The turn out was very light. They had a total of 57 pre-registered
cyclists. A small number were from the PA area but they never showed for the race, so we suspect the Saturday night weather had something to do with that. There were also about 21 cyclist who signed up the day of the race, for a total of about 80 folks out on the track for the event. There were only four calls for SAG support and two of them were for the same rider who suffered first a flat tire in the front and then a flat in the rear tire. He gave up after only doing 18 miles of his desired 80 mile trip.
Both Mike and Pat kept net control advised of the number of riders they saw and any needed logistics. I think the most interesting one was the delivery of the porta-potties to the wrong location at Christ Church. While they are easy to relocate, this would have involved moving them over dirt and paved roads close to 4/10 of a mile.
As with the past bike rides, the number one question that kept
getting asked is “how many riders are still out.” There was some
discussion last year outside of Casey Jones about ways to keep
track and I know Jim and Wanda provided some thoughts and Mike will provide some input also. I’ll be able to consolidate it and get it to the event coordinator for their consideration next year.
This year, while the ‘finish’ line didn’t move, most of the
staff did move over to Casey Jones for the post-ride party, which
was also very light in attendance.
From a ‘comms support’ side of things, it went very well and
the reports were greatly appreciated by both the staff as well
as Paul at Casey Jones. In fact, due to the reports from Pat at
Leonardtown, the event coordinator made the decision to remove
one of the return loops, thus reducing the distance. While we
were not advised of the reason, we suspect it was noted that
those folks would end up returning after 1700, which was the
end of the ride.
I do know the coordinator is already looking at next year and
of course, having it a few weeks earlier in the year, but only
time will tell.
Thanks for the support for the event. As it currently stands, the
next event will be our Christmas party. More on that over the next
73 bob KB3KOW
For the 2012 calendar year I’ve made a recommendation
to the CCARC Board that we place a little effort into
identifying and attending events where we can put ham
radio on display. This does not mean providing them
radio support for the event.
An example would be things such as LaPlata Days which were
held in the past.
We’ll discuss more at this Fridays meeting along with some
ground rules, but if you are aware of any events coming up in
the first few months of the new year, please bring them up as a
starting point for discussion.
73 Bob KB3KOW
Can you please try and see if you can hit the following repeater:
443.600 PL 103.5
If you can, please let me know and I will continue coordination with Mr. Curtis and SMARC for use of that repeater for our weekly nets until such time that the 443.700 machine is functional.VR/ bob KB3KOW