Friday, October 31, 2008

ARES Net and W4H Special Event

On Monday night, Dave KI4NSA called about an hour before our ARES net was to start. He had forgotten that it was his night to conduct the net and would not be able to. He asked if I would mind to take it for the night. I said sure no problem. So with an hour before net time, I ate dinner got my EmComm I book, and come up with a plan. I decided that I would read a small article from TEMA's website (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency). There was a small article on the front page on how a few people from their ranks had just received their HAM licenses thereby giving them more communications opportunities in emergency situations. I also read from the EmComm I book unit 14 on being activated for emergency communications needs. I found it to be a great topic and very informative. I had a total of 23 check-ins which is about average for our net.

This weekend we start operating a special event for the 470 Amateur Radio Group. Starting today Nov. 1, 2008 through Nov. 15, 2008 several operators will be operating special event W4H commemorating the 1st year anniversary of the 470 Amateur Radio Group net on the 145.470 WB4GBI repeater. We have a net every Tuesday night to discuss various topics about Ham Radio, current events, and more. The net is to promote HAM Radio and to have fun. This is the first anniversary of the net so we are having a special event to commemorate the occasion. To receive a QSL card for the special send your QSL card to the station you contact along with a SASE in the US or a SAE and a green stamp for outside the US. Be sure to look for us around the following frequencies: 14.250, 7.250, 28.350, 3.850. For more information about the special event check out The ARRL's special event page or the 470ARG website.

Well I hope to catch you on the air. Until then 73 and God Bless.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

HF in the field with New Homebrew G5RV

Yesterday we decided to build a new dipole and take it to the field to test it out. We had built a ZS6BKV multi-band dipole a while back for field day operations a while back but now have it up permanently, well it's not up permanently but we use it primarily, at dad's (KU4ME) house now. With that being the case and the weather being beautiful, we decided to build a new dipole for the field. After some research, some thought, and consideration to the materials we had readily available we decided to go with a homebrew G5RV. We used 14 gauge copper wire, and some 300 ohm twin lead and a small PVC pipe piece for the feed point. The copper wire was cut for 102 feet, actually 104 feet so we could make our end loops for tying it to rope for hoisting. The twin lead was cut to 28 and a half feet to run from the feed point directly to the TenTec 229 tuner.

With our Antenna completed, we loaded up the radio (ICOM IC-756 Pro), tuner (Ten Tec 229), power supply, watt meter, and all the other supplies to set up and maintain our operations for a few hours into the evening. Luckily for us the field we went to is where we went for field day, along with where we go to view the cosmos on clear winter evenings. Since we had been up here to operate before, we were smart enough to leave ropes in the trees so we can easily string up our dipoles anytime we go up there to play. It didn't take very long to get set up and within the hour we were able to tune on 20 meters, 40 meters, and 80 meters.

Once we were ready, we tuned around on the bands just to see what was going on. We found a station out of Italy (I2VRN) calling CQ on 40 meters. Just for shagrins I picked up the mic and tried to make contact. After about 2 or 3 tries, I broke through the pileup and ended up getting a 5-7 which I thought was pretty good considering the noise on the band and it being just a homebrew G5RV.

After that contact, I decided to find a frequency and start hollerin' CQ. While I didn't end up with a pile up, I did end up work 3 stations: Rick in Texas (KC5AKB) 5-5, Charles in New Market, TN (WB4HLW) 5-7, and Kay (AC7LN) Idaho. While I didn't get a report from Kay I did hear him say he was mobile. Unfortunately the band was quite noisy on 40 and didn't hold up for very long. The most surprising contact was with Charles in New Market. The simple fact that I was able to make contact with another Tennessee station on 40 was pretty cool but considering New Market is roughly 18 miles away as the crow flies.

Once 40 pretty much died we switched over to 80 meters and Robin (AJ4IJ) and I (AJ4JD) worked a few Pennsylvania stations that were working the Pennesylvania QSO party. I think we worked a total of 10 contacts between the two of us. It wasn't much longer after that, that hunger took over and with the wind being as it was, we were to afraid to start a fire to roast some wieners. So we decided it was time to break everything down and take it back to the house. Once we got back and unloaded everything that needed unloading, we headed out to get food for the group.

Overall, it was a fun evening and now we have a field deployable antenna that can work on the main bands we like to operate. Additionally, it is one that is not employed permanently at the base so we can take it out where ever we want to operate.

Now it's time for what everyone likes, the pictures. Enjoy.

AJ4JD and KU4ME Measure out the 14 gauge wire for the antenna.

KU4ME Making the Feedpoint

KU4ME Placing the Antenna in the Feedpoint

The G5RV Approximately 30' in the Air

KU4ME Tunes up the Radio

AJ4JD Making Contact

AJ4IJ at the Doorway to Radioland.

73 and God Bless de AJ4JD

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October ARES Meeting

Well this evening we had our ARES meeting up at the Claiborne County Hospital's Education Building. We went over our thoughts on our SET operation over this last weekend, discussed the rotation on our Nets for Monday night, and as a treat, Bruce (KI4QIS) took us over to the hospital to show us the radio equipment at the hospital that is used during emergency situations. This equipment was donated/bought for the hospital by FEMA and is maintained by our ARES group.

The equipment in use is an ICOM 706 MkIIG. On the roof are a few antennas that are used with the radio: a 2meter verticle, a UHF antenna, a J-Pole for 2 meters, and a foldable dipole. We got to fire up the radio and Bruce made contact with Dave (KI4NSA) while he was out mobile after the meeting on 2 meters. We then tuned around on HF and learned the issue of the dipole as Bruce and Rick (NX6R) has told us about before. It is rather noisy.

After checking out the radio, Bruce then took us up on the roof to see the antennas. Upon reaching the antenna site, we noticed immediately what the problem with the noise is. The dipole runs parallel with power lines that are about 50 feet away. Additionally, there are two poles both with sets of transformers. So with seeing that Bruce and I may make a weekend project of moving the dipole, of course all of our ARES members are more than welcome to come out when we do this. Bruce also demonstrated a problem with the J-pole having a bit of noise. I think that Bruce is correct in that there is probably some water in the coax as the connector from the antenna to the coax is not sealed in any way. That will be something else we shall remedy when we move the dipole.

I'd also like to mention that we had a visitor join us on the tour and one of our other members as well, Harold (N2BFD) along with Robin (AJ4IJ), and Ashby (KJ4EGJ).

Until next time,
73 de AJ4JD

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My first time as Net Control

This past Monday was my first time being a Net Control Operator. On Monday nights at 8:00pm EDT on the 147.360 repeater in our area, the Claiborne/Union County ARES holds either a regular training net or weather net. Bruce (KI4QIS) asked me if I could take the net for him on this night, and of course I agreed.

In preparation I got a preamble, some net logs, and some material to go over printed out. I decided that since winter was around the corner, I'd go over some winter information about frostbite, extreme cold, and other various cold weather info. I read over a page from a winter weather package that can be found at NOAA's website at the following URL:

So Monday night came, and the Net went off without a hitch. Of course, I was pretty nervous. I think my palms, feet, arm pits, and knee pits were all sweating. However, after the net was over, everyone commented on how well of a job I had done. I was very appreciative of the 20+ check-ins and all the nice comments from everyone. Since then I've been signed up through our ARES group to take every other Emergency Weather training net.

So if you are in the area, please feel free to tune into the 147.360 repeater on Monday nights at 8:00pm. We swap between ARES training and Emergency Training every week. If you tune, you're likely to catch Robin (AJ4IJ), and Dave (KI4NSA) on the ARES nets, and Bruce or me on the weather nets.

Until next time,
73 de AJ4JD

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TN Perfect Storm - SET

This past weekend we participated in the Simulated Emergency Training (SET), Tennessee Perfect Storm. I don't know why I've failed to mention this previously, but Robin (AJ4IJ), Ashby(KJ4EGJ), and me are members of Claiborne/Union County ARES here in East Tennessee. Robin and I were both appointed as Assistant Emergency Coordinators (AEC) and Robin is being groomed to be Union County's Emergency Coordinator (EC) for when we split off from Claiborne County and become our own ARES entity for the county. Previous to this, Claiborne County ARES has helped Union County as there were not enough HAMs in the county to make up its own ARES, and the previous HAM that was being trained for the EC position had to move away.

So after joining the Claiborne/Union County ARES, we were appointed AEC's and Rick (NX6R) our EC had to go out of town and left us in charge of the SET operations for our group. Well not having a clue as to what to do or how to do it, we decided to head to Sevierville's pre-set planning meeting and talking with Rick (N4JTQ), Darrell (KA4TAR) the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) for our district.

Well needless to say, after the meeting things were a bit more clear for Robin and she had a plan to which she executed flawlessly. Our ARES group did a wonderful job in the exercise, and Robin was a true professional handling the responsibilities of NET control for our group on the 147.360 repeater. Our main goal was to get a message to the Army/Mars station to pass to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), and receive a message back from them. Just after Robin closed the net, she got the return message, so we declared success.

Our EC Rick, heard the reports and was pleased with how the exercise went. The rest of our group that the exercise went real well too. The other ARES groups in the surrounding counties that participated did a wonderful job as well. Overall, in the event of a disaster in the area and surrounding counties, I believe that if emergency communications are required by our different ARES groups, we will be able to step up to the plate and handle the job.

We have our ARES meeting this Thursday, tomorrow evening, at 6:30pm. If anyone is interested in joining and are located in our area of Union or Claiborne County, please join us at the education center next to the Claiborne County hospital.

Until my next entry,

73 de AJ4JD

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TenTec Hamfest

This past weekend was the mother of all Tennessee Hamfests. Well I might be exaggerating a bit but being as new to HAM radio as I am, it might as well be. That's right, the TenTec Hamfest was this past weekend and we had a really good time. We got to put faces with names/calls that we hadn't yet. We also got to visit with those we had met previously. We walked the bone yard and the only thing we really found that we were looking for was some rope.

We also got to take a tour of the TenTec facility. That was really neat to see where the TenTec radios are made. We got to touch an Omni and got pictures to prove it. Aside from the rope, we also bought an EmComm I book, a TenTec coffee mug, and a couple of TenTec 40th anniversary t-shirts.

After the hamfest, we attended a storm spotter class. This class was pretty interesting. We learned about spotting storms and what to look for in a storm to properly identify it. My thanks go out to Rick(N4JTQ) for arranging this training and to Howard for providing the training. Thanks to the class, Robin (AJ4IJ), Ashby(KJ4EGJ), Dad(KU4ME), and Mom(KF4SSI) are now certified storm spotters along with everyone else who attended the class. Congrats to all.

Well now it's time for what you all have been waiting for...

Ashby (KJ4EJG)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

John (KU4ME)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

Tim (AJ4JD)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

Look at all the pretty Omni VIIs

Skywarn Class after TenTec
Our most recently Certified Storm Spotters.