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It shall be our purpose to further amateur radio by serving the public; to promote technical knowledge, fraternalism, and individual operating proficiency; and to advance the general interest and welfare of amateur radio in the community.

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DX Engineering Open House  

See parts for DX Engineering    (Jan 18, 2015) -  -  Members of the MARC and amateurs around the area attended MFJ Day at DX Engineering on Saturday, January 10th.

This was a perfect opportunity for Ham Radio enthusiasts to shake off the winter doldrums and make some "eyeball" QSOs with friends. Martin F. Jue and the DX Engineering staff were on hand for consultation, technical advice and new product information.

I saw many folks carrying out new purchases thanks to the many deals being offered. A good time was had by all and we look forward to the next "Open House".

A nice crowd arrived at DX Engineering !

The store was stocked with good prices !

The small show room was busy with folks !


Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes Senate Committee  

  (Nov 18, 2015) - -  The Amateur Radio Parity Act S. 1685 has been endorsed by the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In the voice vote on November 18, two Senators — Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) — asked to be recorded as voting “no.” The Committee held an executive session to consider the various legislative measures and nominations.

“Our work is not finished on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, although this is a huge step forward,” said ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN. She urged ARRL members to continue to write, call and e-mail their Senators about S. 1685 to build up its support for the future. “We know that members’ response to the call for a communications blast last week made all the difference for some Senators on the committee.”

S. 1685 picked up another Senate cosponsor on November 18, when Sen Jerry Moran (R-KS), who sits on the Commerce Committee, has signed aboard the bill. “ARRL members in Kansas should contact his office to say thanks,” President Craigie said. “Having an additional cosponsor who’s on the Committee is especially good news.”

On hand to observe the Committee mark-up session were ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, and ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD.

President Craigie encouraged ARRL members in Florida and Hawaii to keep contacting Senators Schatz and Nelson, urging them to change their minds about the legislation. “Don't be harsh or angry,” she advised. “Keep it factual and courteous, and don't give up.”

On November 5, US Sen Al Franken (D-MN) signed on as the second cosponsor of S. 1685. That legislation and its US House twin, H.R. 1301, call on the FCC to extend the limited federal pre-emption of PRB-1 to cover private land-use restrictions such as deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). If the legislation becomes law, radio amateurs living in antenna-restricted communities would have the opportunity to negotiate with homeowners associations to install an antenna that reasonably accommodates Amateur Radio communication.

H.R. 1301 has 114 cosponsors as of November 18. President Craigie said ARRL members should continue to urge their Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1301 and to thank those who already have signed on.

The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 page on the ARRL website has more information on how you can become involved.


A Holiday Ornament  for Your Tree  

   (Nov 14, 2015) - - The club is excited to offer a new Christmas ornament that would look great decorating your Christmas tree this holiday season.

Created exclusively by club member Marvin Seacrest of M & K Engraving for our members, the 3 1/2 inch ceramic ornament features the club diamond logo with Merry Christmas across the top.

Price is $4.75 each and are available from M & K Engraving in Strasburg. Their phone is (330) 878-7500 or by email at katie@mkengraving. Get your orders in early to be ready before Christmas !


October Program Summary    

     (Oct 4, 2013) - -  Special thanks to Wade - WD8MIU, Jim - WA8GXM, and Byron - KF8UN for the nice recap from the Kelley's Island Expedition. 

They reported fine weather and reasonable band conditions during their day of operating. Contacts were reasonable and they all had a fine time.

Thanks to the team for this club outing and for the pictures !

Wade, WD8MIU at the controls !

Wade's Portable Equipment Rack

Team Member Brooker, KD8JNX at the station


September Club Program    

     (UPDATED Sept 7th) (Aug 25, 2013) -- The program for the September club meeting will be a kit or homebrew equipment "Show & Tell" night.

We originally planned some sort of a Show Us Your Heathkit Night but it was decided to open it up to any equipment you built, bought or just would like to show off to the club.

I still own several Heathkit products nearly all of which are still operational. I plan on bringing along a few of them to the meeting. I hope some of you will also share some piece of your favorite equipment to share with us. The plan will be to give everyone 10 minutes or so to show off their rig and give us a short report on it. Radio's, Antenna's, whatever you want to bring along will be appreciated. Let's see what shows up !

UPDATE....  We had a nice crowd for our September meeting including several members who brought along their Heathkits, Radio's and homebuilt antenna's to show off to the members. Lots of great old Heathkit memories and stories were swapped and everyone enjoyed looking and hearing the vintage radios and test equipment.

Thanks to everyone who brought our equipment for our Show & Tell Night at the club. Sounded like we will be doing this again in the future !

Heathkits galor filled several tables at the club meeting with everyone enjoying discussing their favorite kit building experience.


July Club Events    

   (July 22, 2013) - - It was a busy weekend for the club as we participated in several public demonstrations that included a small fundraiser.

On Friday, July 19th we participated once again in the annual William McKinley Museum Summer Science Splash. The club's Emergency Communication Trailer was on display with several stations setup and running over the entire event. An information table also greeted visitors as we demonstrated our hobby to the numerous visitors who were attracted to our trailer thanks to the vertical mast nearly fully extended with the American Flag at the top. It was another great event with lots of people interested in our activities. Event director Lynette Reiner was again grateful for our support of this event over the last three years. 

Jim - WA8GXM (L) and Gary - WC8W ran our Friday night net from the trailer while Jim operated on 6 meter AM.

A small information center greeted visitors

The McKinley Monument was our backdrop as the trailer greeted visitors to the event

Special thanks to the following club members who staffed the display or dropped by to lend support. They were, Tony - KD8UXK, Terry - N8ATZ, Ralph - K8HSQ, Jim - WA8GXM, Gary - WC8W, Mike - WA8MKH, Wade - WD8MIU, Ann - N8GAF and Perry - W8AU.

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Then on Saturday, we again setup and displayed at the Jackson Belden Buehler's Food Market. This was also a small fundraiser for the club as we grilled hot dogs during the afternoon. A dreary morning turned into a great afternoon as our display was well attended with a few visitors stopping by to have a look at the Communications Trailer.

The Crew hard at work at the grill !

Plenty of Supervisors !

Ready for all the customers !

The Trailer also had a few visitors

Again we were lucky to have many club members who assisted and visited the Buehler's Fund Raiser. They were, Wade - WD8MIU, Steve - KD8ACF, Terry - N8ATZ, Jim - WA8GXM, Mike - WA8MKH, Carol - KB8IMH, Stephen - KC8IDJ, Perry - W8AU, Ralph - K8HSQ, Don - W8DEF, Don - W8DEA, Gary - WC8W, Tony - KD8UXK, Igor - K8INN, Stephanie - KD8RDN, Charlie - KB8STV, Bill - KD8TKX, YL Shirley Treacle, harmonics Shirley and Alexandra, Barry - WA8WBL and Kathy - KC8IXE.


April Meeting Well Attended   

    (Apr 7, 2013) - - The April meeting was well attended and included several special presentations as well as a great program.

Club member Don Wade, W8DEA was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation for his operating achievement during the club's 85th Anniversary Special Event Station. Don had been on assignment with FEMA during Super Storm Sandy and is finally back home for a well deserved rest.

In addition to Don, Callsign Plaques were issued to Jack Wade, N8LCS and Jerry LaRocca, KF8EB. This recognition is issued to club members who have maintained club membership for 25 years. Congratulations to both Jack and Jerry !

The club program for April was a presentation on the Civil Air Patrol presented by member Charlie Ssherger, KB8STV with assistance by fellow CAP Member Don Wade, W8DEA.

The program covered the basics of the Ohio Wing and included a very interesting powerpoint presentation that covered the history and mission of the CAP.

The club enjoyed the program and we appreciate Charlie and Don's efforts and their service.


Don Wade, W8DEA (R) receives his Certificate of Appreciation from President Mike Sciarini, WA8MKH.


Jack Wade, N8LCS (R) receives his 25 year callsign plaque


Jerry LaRocca, KF8EB (R) receives his 25 year callsign plaque.


CAP Captain Charlie Scherger, KB8STV presented a fine program on the Civil Air Patrol.

Thanks to Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ for the pictures!


Annual Club Banquet Report  

  (Jan 27, 2013) - -The Massillon Amateur Radio Club's Annual Awards Banquet was held on Saturday, January 12th at the Massillon Senior Center, the home of the MARC with nearly 40 members and guests attending.

After opening remarks from outgoing President Bryon Berger, KF8UN, we enjoyed a fine hometown meal with all the trimmings including lots of great desserts catered by The Top of the Viaduct Restaurant.  Click Here for a recap of the full event.


Amateur Radio Licenses at All Time High  Courtesy of the ARRL

  (Jan 18, 2013) --  As 2012 came to a close, ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, had a good reason to cheer: The number of radio amateurs in the US reached an all-time high of almost 710,000. “2012 was definitely a banner year for the number of Amateur Radio operators here in the US,” she said. “It is amazing to see these new numbers and to know that Amateur Radio is experiencing such a healthy trend.”

In looking at new and upgraded licenses, as well as licensees per ARRL Division (see the charts below), Somma also crunched the numbers looking for growth within each license class -- and all of Amateur Radio -- over the last 40 years. “This is an all-time high for Technician, General and Amateur Extra class licensees,” she said. “When looking at the three current license classes, the number of Technicians, Generals and Amateur Extras peaked in December at 345,369, 163,370 and 130,736, respectively.”

Somma explained that the total number of US amateurs in the FCC database also continues to grow each year: “As of December 31, 2012, the number of licensees reached an all-time high of 709,575; year-end totals were 702,056 for 2011 and 696,041 for 2010. The number of licensees increased at an average rate of 21 per day, while the number of US licensees has increased by 7 percent since 2008!” More than 3000 new licenses were issued in 2012 than in 2011, while upgraded license activity remained steady in 2012.

 

In the past 40 years, the number of Amateur Radio operators in the US has grown at a remarkable rate:

  • December 1971: 285,000
     
  • December 1981: 433,000
     
  • December 1991: 494,000

December 2001: 683,000

December 2012: 709,000

The ARRL VEC is by far the largest of the 14 Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) groups in the country, coordinating approximately 70 percent of all Amateur Radio exams. “When looking at the statistics over the last year, the ARRL VEC sponsored exam sessions and exam elements taken were up in 2012, which is a good sign for Amateur Radio overall,” Somma said. “Compared with 2011, ARRL VEC exam sessions in 2012 were up by 8 percent. A total of 6831 exam sessions were administered in 2012, compared to 6352 in 2011. Exam elements were slightly up from 41,096 last year, to 42,473 this year. The total number of accredited ARRL Volunteer Examiners (VEs) has reached an all-time high of 36,682. The ARRL VEC has been busy meeting the needs of the Amateur Radio community by helping people become radio amateurs or upgrade their existing licenses. 2012 was a very good year for Amateur Radio -- I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings!


MARC Fundraiser at Buehlers 

 (Oct 1, 2012) --  The club completed another nice fund raiser at Buehlers Market in Jackson Township on Saturday, September 22nd. Although the weather was a bit chilly in the morning, it improved and by early afternoon was very nice. We did pretty well selling lots of hot dogs and drinks while promoting our hobby to the public.

It was nice to see the extra tips that many people left for us when they realized who we were. Many even comments that they have seen us during the year and noted the public service work we provide. The tip jar looked pretty full by day's end. This was nice to see.

Also a special thanks to the following volunteers who staffed the event. Wade - WD8MIU, Terry - N8ATZ, Steve - KD8ACF, Robert - AC8GE, Mike - WA8MKH, Carol - KB8IMH, Bruce - KC8RKS, Gary - WC8W, Don - W8DEF and Jeremy - KB8VHL.


MARC Display's at Menards 

    (Oct 1, 2012) -- The MARC held a special public demonstration as part of the club's 85th Anniversary. The event was held at the Massillon Menards store on Saturday, September 15th.

There was a nice write up in the local newspaper on Saturday morning announcing our event. Attendance was steady but not overwhelming, allowing us to have more interactions with the public. We only made two contacts on HF, one with club member W8AU currently from the LST325.

It was an enjoyable day and demonstration. We gave a special welcome to a Stark County resident who came to check out our club and learn more about us. He may event try for his license at our hamfest.

Thanks to the following for assisting / helping during our public event. Carl - AB8CC; Robert - AC8GE; Carol - KB8IMH, Mike - WA8MKH, Leonard - KC8RPB, Don - W8DEF, Ed - WA8DRT, Jim - WA8GXM, James - WA8HHO, Bud - WA8KWD, Tim - WB8HHP, Gary - WC8W and Wade - WD8MIU.


MARC Activates Tappan Lake 

    (Oct 24, 2012) -- The MARC participated in the Annual Islands-On-The-Air operating event the weekend of October 20-21 by setting up and operating from Tappan Lake Island in Harrison County.

The clubs EComm Trailer was used for the event with several club members participating for a total of nearly 24 hours. This event was also timed to coincide with the clubs 85th Anniversary Special Event station with additional club members also operating this portion. Contacts were made on mostly 20 and 40 meters with a few on 15 and 80 meters. Phone & CW was used for this event.

Thanks to an announcement in the October issue of QST Magazine, the bands were busy over the weekend with several special event stations and the annual Boy Scouts Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) event taking place over the same weekend. Lots of contacts were made including many with JOTA stations all over the country giving scouts an opportunity to experience Amateur Radio first hand.

The total of our contacts isn't known as yet but could well exceed over 100 for the weekend. A fine operating event for the club and we thank the multiple members who support this event.

The operator and volunteer sheet included the following members:  Club President Byron - KF8UN, Secretary Robert - AC8GE, Treasurer Gary - WC8W. In addition were Russ - N8PII, Wade - WD8MIU, Terry - N8ATZ, Jim - WA8GXM, Mike - WA8MKH and XYL Carol - KB8IMH.

Several local hams also stopped by for a visit and several members of the public who saw the club trailer and learned a little about amateur radio.

Operators Russ - N8PII (L) and Wade - WD8MIU at the station


MARC Welcome's Ohio SEC 

    (Sept 8, 2012)  ---  Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Matt Welch, W8DEC was the quest speaker at the September MARC club meeting. His powerpoint program titled "Public Service Communications 101" covered many of the basic requirements needed including both training and equipment necessary to be a part of public service communications.

Matt also covered the current status of the ARES program here in Ohio and how hams can become more involved in local ARES operations.

The program was well received by those present and we enjoyed having Matt join us for our September meeting !


Field Day - It's A Wrap ! 

Field Day Pin (2012)  (July 2, 2012) ---   Field Day 2012 has come and gone and thanks to our core of dedicated club members, we had yet another successful weekend communications exercise.

Near perfect weather, decent band conditions and another great Field Day Feast combined for a great club gathering.

Yes, we made lots of contacts, especially the CW station thanks to Igor, Perry and a few other operators who kept the station on the air most of the weekend. Phone did well and gave lots of other members a chance to operate and have fun. Six and Two were our extra stations and we enjoyed some contacts there as well.

The sign in sheet showed over 30 callsigns with many staying part of the weekend. Lots of thanks to both the setup and tear down crew as well. Our core group of setup and weekend operators is getting a little long in the tooth and it would be nice to see some of our younger operators begin to take over the reins (we do have some younger operators, don't we?)

All in all, another great weekend and the score will be whatever it totals up to. The most important part of the weekend was enjoying a fun radio event with fellow members, family and friends. I say let's do it again next year !  

Thanks to club member Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ, click here to have a look at this years Field Day pictures posted on Ralph's site.

https://picasaweb.google.com/113171320573539613102/2012FieldDay?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCLTTgpac9sbrsgE&feat=directlink

 

Link to E. Mike Presentation 

 (Apr 8, 2012) --- Thanks to club Secretary Robert, AC8GE, E. Mikes presentation has been recorded and is now available for download on our website as a MPEG 42 MB file. Most media players will play this file. The presentation lasts about 45 minutes.  You may wish to download it to your computer and play the file from there. Simply Right Click on the link and select "Save Target As".  If you missed this excellent presentation, feel free to download this file !

 CLICK HERE for the file...


Annual Summer Splash 

    (Aug 1, 2012) --   The Massillon Amateur Radio Club again participated in the annual Summer Science Splash at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton on Friday, July 20th. The event showcased local science exhibits and included special shows, forensics presentations, reptile and animal shows and of course, amateur radio.

Our exhibit included the club's Communication Trailer with several static display's that highlighted equipment, an informative video, various club awards and promotional literature covering our hobby and the club.

The event was staffed by Terry, N8ATZ, Jim Farriss - WA8GXM, Gary Kline - WC8W, Ralph Bugg - K8HSQ and Perry Ballinger - W8AU.

Numerous visitors stopped by our display to have a look at our equipment and ask about our hobby. Several even expressed and interest in obtaining their license.

Thanks to all the volunteers who assisted with the event. Science Director Lynnette Reiner appreciated our participation again this year and hoped we will attend again next year !


MARC Fundraiser at Buehler's 

   (Oct 16, 2011) -- The MARC participated is a community fund raiser sponsored by Buehler's Grocery Store in Jackson Township on Saturday, October 15th.

This event involved the club staffing an outdoor grill selling hotdogs and drinks over a six hour period. Even though the weather was cold and windy, we were pretty busy throughout the day.

The club's Emergency Communications Trailer was on display to the public with an operating station that drew a few curious shoppers who stopped by for a look. Although sales were only moderate, it was a great public relations display for the club. We have already talked to the folks at Buehler's about participating in this event next summer when the weather should be a lot warmer !

Special thanks to the following club members who participated in this community event.

They were, Wade - WD8MIU; Terry - N8ATZ; Jim - WA8GXM; Perry - W8AU; Don - W8DEF; Don Wade - W8DEA; Steve - KD8ACF; Ralph - K8HSQ; Tom - KC8QOD; Mike - WA8MKH; and Pat - KA8DAL. 

 

Part of the Grilling Crew at Buehler's !

Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ also took a few pictures of the event. Click Here to check them out !


MARC Field Day 

  UPDATED (Nov 25, 2011) -- Again this year the MARC participated in the ARRL's annual Field Day communications exercise the weekend of June 25-26th.

Held again at Petros Park in Perry Township, we enjoyed great weather (we didn't get wet!), decent band conditions, a great Field Day dinner and great company. Although member participation was a little down from previous years, we had a fun time over the weekend. Both the Phone and CW stations stayed busy most of the time with very little down time. Nearly all club members were given the chance to operate over the weekend with some guest operators having a turn at the GOTA station for a taste of contest operating.

A special thanks to Stephanie, XYL of Igor, K8INN who again took on the daunting task of preparing our annual Field Day Feast. The menu included burgers and dogs, along with barbeque chicken marinated in a special secret recipe that had us all lined up waiting for the dinner bell. The result was another great dinner for the Field Day crew.

Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ was also busy with his new digital camera capturing some great photo memories for us. Click Here to visit his photo page website.

NOVEMBER 25th UPDATE !

The ARRL has officially released the scores from this years Field Day exercise and as submitted the clubs final score was 4,290 points on 1,179 QSO’s placing us 87th in the US in Class 2A. A hearty congratulations to everyone involved in helping us achieve another great operating event. While our score was down slightly from last year (by only 200 points), it was still a successful event and I know everyone had a great time. The Canton club again scored very well garnering 9,648 points on 2,522 QSO’s. This placed them 17th in Ohio. Well done guy’s.

Class 2A is a tough category to compete in. It always has the most entries with 387 this year. The Ohio Section also has the most participation with 134 scores submitted this year. We are in good company and we placed very well considering we are in the toughest category in the US !. It won’t be long before we will begin planning for next years event, lets work together to make it another great club event !. 


MARC Displays at Safety Fest 

    (Jun 28, 2011) -- On Saturday, June 4th, the Massillon Amateur Radio Club participated in the Annual Ohio Safety Fest held at Clay's Park Resort.

Ohio Safety Fest is an outdoor festival highlighting safety, crime prevention, police, fire, and other safety related department partnerships with the community via informational booths, displays, interactive activities and educational seminars.

The MARC has provided support communications for many public safety departments during our eighty year history and have been an active part of our community that entire time and we were pleased to have been invited to take part in this annual safety fest by event organizer Chuck Maier.

Our display was centered around our Emergency Communications Trailer (EComm 1) along with several informational displays depicting the many facets of our great hobby. Along with a working HF and VHF station, we also demonstrated Winlink Digital Communications, ATV and had a working CW practice station that was popular with the many children that stopped by our table. Literature on Ham Radio, the MARC and our Skywarn Spotter program was also available to the public.

The day was a busy one for the club volunteers who staffed our display. Thanks to club member Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ, we have lots of pictures covering our participation in Safety Fest. Click Here to check them all out.

A special thanks to all the members who helped make this event a big success !


Why Ham Radio Endures in a World of Tweets

  (Feb 20, 2011) --  Somehow it makes little sense that amateur “ham” radio continues to thrive in the age of Twitter, Facebook and iPhones. Yet the century-old communications technology — which demands such commitment that you must generally pass an exam to receive a license — currently attracts around 350,000 practitioners in Europe, and a further 700,000 in the United States, some 60 per cent more than 30 years ago.

What is it about a simple microphone, a transmitter-receiver and the seductive freedom of the open radio spectrum that’s turned a low-tech anachronism into an enduring and deeply engaging global hobby?

For a start, there is that thrill in establishing a magical person-to-person long-distance radio conversation that no commodified internet communication can compete with. In a world of taken-for-granted torrents of e-mails, instant messages and Skype video-chats, there is a purity and a richness in the shared experience of exchanging “73s” during a live “QSO” with strangers on another continent.

Why, the very ham slang that defines the community — 73 translating as “best regards”, and QSOs as two-way conversations — tells practitioners that they belong to a special, mutually curious and highly courteous club. And the fact that DXers (long-distance amateur operators) take the trouble to acknowledge received transmissions and conversations by sending their new contacts custom-designed postcards through the analog postal service … well, that is charm itself in a world where it’s considered excessive to end a communication with anything more effusive than a “bestest”.

You only need study a handful of these cards to understand, even today, the old-fashioned excitement of connecting with a stranger who might be many thousands of miles away. The postcards — known as QSL cards — can be as quirky and personality-filled as the senders themselves. At times humorous and characterful, at others terse and geographically factual, they have naturally inspired their own subculture that has spurred DXers to collect and display them much as they would colorful foreign postage stamps.

The cards invariably display as a minimum some basic factual information about the sender. This will generally include the radio operator’s individual call sign, his (there are not too many “hers”) location, and a few details about the signal detected. And just to show that the Twitter generation did not invent the linguistic contractions exemplified in text-message speak, QSL cards too rely on slang and abbreviations to pack information into a tight space.

So cards will display the “RST” — the received radio station’s readability, signal and strength; perhaps details of the sender’s “XMTR” (transmitter) and “ANT” (antenna); and occasionally a request to reciprocate, expressed as the shorthand “PSE QSL TNX” (please send an acknowledgement card, thanks) or the more chatty “hw abt a crd om?” (How about a card, old man?) Old man, by the way, is not a reference to the recipient’s age — just as, on the rare occasions when the DXer is female, she is referred to as a “YL”, a young lady, whatever her chronological age.

DXers have been exchanging QSL cards since at least 1916, when Edward Andrews of Philadelphia — call sign 3TQ — recorded the receipt of a card from 8VX of Buffalo, NY. Over the next decade, the hobby took off — so much so that, by 1928, Paul Segal (W9EEA) had formulated an “amateur’s code” setting out six key qualities to which practitioners must adhere: “The radio amateur is considerate… loyal … progressive … friendly … balanced … [and] patriotic,” Segal specified, always ready for service to country and community.

Since then, the hobby has captivated royalty and celebrities alike. Among the most celebrated DXers have been the late King Hussein of Jordan (call sign JY1), Queen Noor (JY1H) and Juan Carlos, King of Spain (EA0JC). Had you picked the right moment, you could have chatted to Morocco’s King Hassan II (CN8MH), the former Sultan of Oman (A41AA) or Bhumiphol Adulayadej, King of Thailand (HS1A).

If monarchs have never appealed, you could instead have shot the breeze with Marlon Brando (FO5GJ), prime minister Rajiv Ghandi of India (VU2RG) or the CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite (KB2GSD) — not forgetting the singer Cliff Richard (W2JOF), Joe Walsh of The Eagles (WB6ACU) and genuinely beyond-this-world DXers such as Yuri Gagarin and Helen Sharman.

It’s little wonder that collectors describe the buzz of receiving a new exotic foreign card as akin to that of philatelists discovering a rare commemorative stamp. That explains why the late Jerry Powell, a New Jersey ham between 1928 to 2000 (W2OJW), proudly displayed the 369 cards he had gathered from Okinawa to Papua.

Another obsessive collector, Thomas Roscoe of Brookfield, Ohio (K8CX), has created an awe-inspiring QSL museum where he displays his trophies from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. (You can see his individual cards at hamgallery.com). Take a journey with Roscoe to Wallis & Futuna Island and Western Kiribati, to Kyrgyzstan and Kerguelen Island; visit “states” whose international status is somewhat contentious, such as the Republic of Ichkeria and the Principality of Sealand; celebrate one-off events such as Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, or the Queen Mary’s last voyage.

But it’s not simply the romance of card-collecting that continues to inspire DXers, nor the blunt urge to communicate. Instead, hams talk proudly about belonging to a global “brotherhood,” with few rules and little bureaucracy and the ability to transcend language, religion and race — while never quite knowing who they might come in contact with.

Plus, of course, the chance to be a genuine real-life hero. Days after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake devastated Haiti in January, amateur radio operators were busy at work connecting rescuers within the country and contacting survivors’ families. When a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit Chile the next month, and the phone network collapsed, a radio operator named Alejandro Jara broadcast the first information from the ground.

Hams stepped in on September 11, 2001, and during Hurricane Katrina. Then there was Tony Pole-Evans, a bird lover with a short-wave radio on Saunders Island, who famously risked his life during Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands to radio the first news back to Britain that 1,000 soldiers had landed on Goose Green.

How exciting it must have been to intercept that particular radio call. And boy, what a QSL card to top one’s collection. You can tweet all you like, but this is the way to communicate.

Article Reprinted by permission from WIRED.COM


Put-In-Bay Island Historical Marker

(Nov 14, 2010) --  During my annual trip to Put-In-Bay Island for a day of biking I happened upon this historical marker by the marina. Placed by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission it reads:  

First Ship ~ To ~ Shore Radio Broadcast

On July 18, 1907, Dr Lee deForest broadcast the first ship-to-shore radio message from the steam yacht Thelma. The communication provided quick, accurate race results of the annual Inter-Lakes Yachting Association (I-LYA) Regatta. Frank E. Butler, a Monroeville, Ohio native and assistant to deForest, was stationed in the pavilion at Fox's Dock (known today as the Jet Express Dock) and received the radio transmission.

The creation of the vacuum tube by deForest permitted the rapid development of radio and eventually television. The inventor disliked the existing term "wireless" and chose a new moniker -- "radio." On this site wireless-transmission radio broadcasting was born.

The Historical Marker near the marina on Put-In-Bay Island


K8CP Inducted Into Veterans Hall of Fame

   (Nov 19, 2010) -- As an Air Force Chaplain, Leslie A. Peine has held worship services with astronauts and smuggled Bibles into Saudi Arabia. Since retiring, he's shepherded the flock at First United Methodist Church in Massillon and helped spearhead a project to honor the city's six Congressional Metal of Honor Award recipients.

Recently, Les Peine of Jackson Township was also recognized for a lifetime of service with his induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Since returning to the greater Stark County area, Les has also been a member of the Massillon Amateur Radio Club.

The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, created by former Gov George Voinovich in 1992, exists to honor those "who have honorably served their country through military service and who have continued to serve and inspire their fellow man with their deeds and accomplishments throughout their lifetime," according to the Department of Veterans Services website.

Les, who also was the keynote speaker for a Veterans Day assembly at Washington High School, is the third Massillonian to be inducted into the hall of fame.

A familiar voice on the club repeater during the morning, we are truly honored to have Les as a member of our club. A distinguished veteran, Les is also an inspiration to his community, his country and the Massillon Amateur Radio Club. Click Here to read about the Veterans Hall of Fame.

 

Rev. Leslie Peine, of First United Methodist Church, was the keynote speaker during a Veterans Day assembly at Washington High School.


North Bass Island Expedition
By Tom, WD8MBE

   (Aug 2, 2010) -- First, I would like to thank everyone who donated toward the expedition. Your support made it possible for us to qualify this island for the US Islands Award Program.

Second, thank you to all the team members. Our meetings and watching every detail kept this expedition on track. Teamwork made this expedition possible from start to finish. Great Job, NBI Team !.

North Bass Island is the most northern island of the Bass Island Chain. The only transportation modes to North Bass are either private boat or plane. Ferries no longer travel there as the population has dropped from approximately 300 residents to only 14 full time residents. Luckily we came across Bud Stonebrook, who helped with our transportation and became our liaison for North Bass.

Friday, July 23, 2010 the team departed Stark County and headed north for which would turn out to be a very interesting trip. The further north we traveled, the wind seemed to increase. After unloading the vehicles and loading everything onto the ferry, we realized that we were in-store for a roller coaster ride. The lake had become very chopp0y. The trip from Catawba Island to Middle Bass Island lasted about 45 minutes and several of the passengers, including part of our team, received a wet welcome from Lake Erie as the waves splashed onto the deck. It was refreshing as the temperatures were on their way to the 90's.

Upon arriving at Middle Bass, we were advised by Bud that his brother, Dale, had also traveled from North Bass with his boat to help with transportation. This saved the team about a half hour in travel time. Arriving at North Bass, there was a van waiting to take us to our temporary home, the old school house.

Friday was miserably hot and humid and made erecting the antennas a laborious job. We had to take several breaks and drink plenty of fluids as the temperature and humidity was in the high 90's. Antenna teams were assigned and the vertical went up in a couple of hours. The dipoles were more difficult to install as we needed on the roof and the black shingles just made the heat worse.

All equipment was up and operational around 5 PM and we were just supposed to do radio checks and some QSO's. However, once we got on the air, many stations started to contact us and we had our required QSO's before the day was over. This turned out to be in our favor as storms rolled in Friday evening and we had to shut the equipment down. We called it an early night and tried to sleep in what turned out to be a classroom sauna. Byron, KF8UN, needed to check into a net at 3 AM Saturday morning ans woke all of us up. WE were not a happy bunch!

Saturday was a little cooler than Friday, but the heat and humidity were still very high. Saturday also brought a change to our operating procedures. IOTA, Island On The Air (Salt Water), was also having a contest that day. All bands and our published frequencies were jammed up with contesters. All we could do was try to operate around them or use some of them for contacts. Needless to say, we ended up with a total of 168 QSO's.

Our team was; AB8CC - Carl; KD8JNX - Brooker (part-timer); KF8UN - Byron; N3JJT - Scott; WC8W - Gary; WD8MBE - Tom; Wade - WD8MIU; Perry - W8AU and Peggy - W8PNT. And we can't forget Toby - the RF Yorky. He kept the water snakes away and we kept the coyotes away from Toby. 

Look for a more detailed story to be posted soon on the North Bass Island website at www.north-bass-island.com


FIELD DAY 2010 RECAP

   UPDATED ! (Aug 2, 2010) -- Well folks what can I say, this year was - just nearly perfect ! Yes we got a little wet taking down the antennas & all but hey- It’s not Field Day unless it rains a little HI HI !!!

But outside of that the weather cooperated (mostly) although it was mighty hot and humid; temperatures above 90 degrees on Sunday, and I bet the humidity was above 90 % as well ! Outside of a minor computer glitch at the beginning it went nearly flawlessly. We made (before any looking at the logs and simply going by the counters in the logging program) nearly 1000 contacts, both phone and CW, not including the GOTA station, 6 meter and two meter stations, digital and of course satellite stations ! Yes we did it all this year !

We would like to take this opportunity to THANK everyone who gave of their time and effort into making this year as “one of the best” on record ! From set up to tear down, a lot of people made this happen. We would especially like to thank Stefanie and Igor Nikishin (K8INN) who planned out and made a delicious meal on Saturday night. “Hams cannot live by CW contacts alone” ! Likewise a big THANK YOU also goes to Don & Linda Finley: W8DEF & K8MOO, for at their own expense and effort make a very delicious & nourishing Sunday morning breakfast for those who stayed all night or showed up very early for the “relief” operators !

I realize I cannot list everyone who operated this weekend but I would like to list the few who made the outstanding effort such as Igor K8INN who put many hours (including the “all - nighter”) into making CW contacts and THANKS goes to Jason KC8LIN, Dave, KC8WVH, Russ, N8PII, who pulled the all - nighter and provided the much needed security and likewise made many contacts for the “effort” ! We also had perhaps a “first”, maybe at least it’s been a while but we had a Dad & son effort as Randy, KD8JN and son, James made a great phone contact team ! I realize this is just a partial list of operators and hams that showed up for some great food and comradery. But again THANKS to everyone !

Additional club scoring report...

BAND PHONE CW DIGI
80 Meters 29 190 0
40 Meters 13 285 0
20 Meters 359 58 14
15 Meters 23 34 1
10 Meters 16 4 0
6 Meters 72 4 0
SAT 9 0 0
GOTA 60 0 0
TOTAL 591 577 15

This makes our claimed score 3,550 points. Adding in 940 Bonus points makes an estimated score of 4,490 Points. 

The total score will be reviewed by the ARRL and should be published in the December issue of QST. Congratulations everyone on a great MARC Field Day Event !


Summer Splash Recap

(July 10, 2010) -- The Massillon Amateur Radio Club was again part of this years Summer Science Splash at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton on Friday, July 9th from 5:00 - 10:00 PM.

This event showcased local science exhibits and will include special science shows, a forensics presentation, reptile and animal shows, science crafts and other programs.

The club participated in last years event and for our exhibit this year, the club displayed our Emergency Communications Trailer in addition our display included some radio equipment displays, an informative video and handout literature used at Field Day. The booth was staffed by Terry Russ, N8ATZ and Gary Kline, WC8W, Jim Farriss, WA8GXM and Don Finley, W8DEF. Club President Carl Cunnert, AB8CC and Skip Westrich, WB8OWM also attended and operated the HF Station during the event. Numerous visitors stopped by to gaze at our display and ask questions about our hobby and our activities. Science Director Lynette Reiner appreciated our participation at the event again this year and is already looking forward to another great Summer Splash event in 2011 and you can bet we will also be there !

Additional information is available on their website at http://www.mckinleymuseum.org

Gary Kline, WC8W at the Discover World Display


MARC Earns ARRL Special Service Club Status

  (May 2, 2010) -- As of April 6th, the MARC has been granted Special Service Club Status (SSC). The club held this unique recognition several years ago but it expired when we did not maintain the basic requirements of the SSC program. We reapplied back in February and we were notified by Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver, K8JE that we had once again been granted this special club ranking.

So what exactly is an ARRL Special Service Club ?

SSC's have gone through a review process above and beyond the normal requirements for basic affiliated clubs and have demonstrated proficiency in the following disciplines:

1.) Training and supporting local Amateur Radio efforts in licensing, upgrading, and continuing education.

2.)  Public Relations and improving the visibility of Amateur Radio, promoting it as a positive force within their community.

3.)  A willingness to become involved in local emergency drills.

4.)  Technical Advancement in the hobby.

5.)  Promote Operating Activities within the club.

6.) Activity in additional miscellaneous amateur programs.

Thanks to our very active club, we successfully met all of the requirements listed above and were approved for Special Service Club status.


Club Field Trip to WHBC Radio

   (Apr 4, 2010) -- The club enjoyed a great field trip for our April club meeting, a tour of local AM-FM Radio Station WHBC in Canton. 

At 7:30 PM, members gathered at the station for our monthly meeting. We had a short business meeting followed by a slide show covering the history of the station and pictures of the studio and transmitter sites.

The trip was made possible thanks to club member Jason Stroll, KC8LIN who now works for the station in their IT department.

Jason talked about the history of the station and how it operates today. Jason then gave tours of the station and the individual studios. Club member David Selby, KC8WVH also a part time station employee assisted with the tours. The visit concluded with a great pizza party.

Our thanks to both Jason and WHBC Radio for this great field trip. Thanks to Ralph, K8HSQ, pictures of our trip can be viewed by clicking here.

Some additional station history is posted on the station website available here. Additional station pictures are also posted here.


Family Preparedness Expo

   (Mar 21, 2010) -- On Saturday, March 20th, the MARC participated in the Family Preparedness Expo, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held at their Canton Ward in N. Canton.

During the March club meeting one of our guests was Barbera Markle, KB7KEV, a member of the Canton Ward who asked the club for assistance in participating in this event. Club VP Wade Huthmacher, WD8MIU volunteered his Saturday to participate and along with Terry, N8ATZ prepared a display for the event.

The purpose of this Expo was to raise awareness of the importance of being prepared for any and all local emergencies, something that ham operators are well aware of.

The club’s display included literature about Amateur Radio and our club, a video from the League covering public service and various equipment examples. Along with Wade and Terry, the booth was also staffed by Barbera Markle, KE7KEV and her friend Mike Falk, KB7OHV who also provided some display materials used during his time in Oregon ARES.

Other displays included the American Red Cross, FEMA, Fire Safety & Prevention and Kid Fingerprinting courtesy of both the N. Canton Fire and Canton Police Department. Other displays included how to setup a 72 hour Emergency Ration kit, Water Storage and Purification and demonstrations on Alternative Cooking methods by the Boy Scouts of America Venturing Group.

Many visitors attended the Expo with lots of interest in our Amateur Radio Display. We also spoke to several attendees on obtaining their ham radio license including several scouts.

Our thanks to the Canton Ward for giving us the opportunity to promote our hobby and our club and how we serve the community when disaster strikes.

Wade Huthmacher, WD8MIU at Family Preparedness Expo

New club member Barbera Markle, KE7KEV and Mike Falk, KB7OHV.


Programming a VX-7R HT  

  (Jul 24, 2010) --  As of last year I became the proud owner of two new fine amateur radio products, the Yaesu VX-7R Handheld and the FT-8900 Quad Band Mobile radio. I had owned the VX7R for a little while and find it a great little radio. Just last fall I finally upgraded to a newer work car and of course decided to treat myself to a new mobile radio as well. I had been running an Icom IC-3200 Dual Band in the old red sled and used a GE Delta Commercial radio for my six meter work. I realized that the new car wasn’t going to work well with the big control head of the Delta radio so I used that as an excuse to upgrade mobile radios. While I do miss the 125 watt output of the GE Delta, I find that I do almost as well using the 50 watt Yaesu. I have always been a fan of Yeasu products, in fact my HF radio is the now obsolete Yaesu FT-840, a modest but very nice 100 watt HF radio.

One of the items on my Dayton Hamvention list this year was the programming software for both radios. The best source of cloning software is from RT Software. Most of the major dealers and distributors carry it and I was hoping for a “deal” at Dayton. I needed both the software and I also wanted a USB style clone cable for my not so new Dell laptop. Up until recently all you could by was serial style cables and you needed to use a USB/Serial adapter cable to fit modern laptop and desktops.

After some price shopping I ended up getting everything I needed from Ham Radio Outlet. Programming kits for both radios cost me about $70.00, a slight discount from normal pricing. I went home a happy camper until I found out that the VX7R kit contained a serial cable not USB as was marked on the box. Lesson #1, always open and inspect the contents of every Dayton purchase before driving all the way home ! As it turned out, this was only a minor inconvenience as my well stocked radio / computer junk box had the adapter I needed. I found out later from my buddy Don, W8DEF that another good outlet for Yeasu programming software is from Bob Freeth, G4HFQ. His website is www.g4hfq.co.uk. Bob’s prices are very reasonable if you only need software, about $15.00 US dollars for either radio.


After a few weekends to catch up on other projects I finally had time to try out my new programming kit. First up was the VX-7R handheld mostly because it was easy to setup on my workbench. Figure 1 shows the cables and connectors necessary to use the programming software with a 9 pin serial connector. Once you see the picture you will see why a simple USB cable is easier to use.

The assortment of cables needed when using a USB/Serial Adapter


As seen in the picture, you will need to install the programming software first into your computer. I run all Windows XP Operating software but other versions of Windows will work all the way back to Windows 98. Version 4 of the software now works with Windows Vista and Windows 7 Operating Systems.

Once you have the program installed the next step is to connect up all the cables to the radio. Keep in mind you will need the Yaesu Microphone adapter cable thanks to the special screw-in connector used with the VX7R. You will also need a mini to sub mini stereo adapter plug to make the final connection. These are still available from Radio Shack if you don’t have one. 

Somewhere along here you will discover that no user instructions are provided with the programming kit probably because it isn’t really isn’t necessary. The software help files explain everything in pretty good detail and the software prompts you along the way. 

The cables connected to the radio and ready to download


As my VX-7R was mostly programmed anyway I decided to download the current programming to the laptop. A quick click of the Transfer button and the download was complete in about ten seconds. The results are displayed in sort of a spreadsheet format although the file saves the download in a special extension. I have about forty frequencies in mine that includes both ham and public service agencies.

The really nice part of having them in the laptop is that now I can customize them individually including power settings, PL tone frequencies, etc and send it back to the radio in a jiffy. This is much easier than trying to perform it all from the radio keypad. 

I’m still learning the software but it makes a great way to keep track of all the settings in your radio. Let me know if you would like to see the programmer work, maybe at a club meeting sometime. Next month I’ll let you know the details of the programming kit for the Yaesu FT-8900.


25th Anniversary of STS-9

   (Nov 28, 2009) -- Amateur Radio has been carried aboard US Space Shuttles for over 25 years. It all began in the fall of 1983 with Shuttle Mission STS-9. 

On November 28, 1983, STS-9 was launched carrying Mission Specialist Owen Garriot, W5LFL, and his ham radio into orbit. For 10 days the Space Shuttle Columbia streaked through the skies, and for the last seven of those days, hams around the world were sent emotionally into orbit when they heard Dr. Garriot's voice break their radio squelch's calling earthbound stations.

But it was just the beginning. Amateur Radio had moved into it's newest frontier, and it was here to stay. By the time the flight had ended, Owen Garriot had made the first ham radio transmissions by an amateur radio operator in space during the flight. This led to many further space flights incorporating amateur radio as an educational and back-up communications tool. QST published an account of Owen's flight in an article in February 1984.

The MARC also took part in this historic flight by activating our club station W8NP during one pass close to North America and tried to contact the shuttle. We used our 2 meter rig and a vertical antenna. Reluctantly after multiple attempts during the short pass, we were unable to break through the intense pile-up and make a contact.

Owen did record over 350 contacts during the flight with amateurs all over the world. While W8NP did not end up in his log, the thrill experienced in just hearing his callsign emanate from space was a great time and made us all proud to be ham radio operators. The tape recorder was running during our attempt and you can hear Owens call to earth by clicking on the audio link below. The recording is in a short WAV file playable by most media players.

Click Here to hear Owens Calling from Shuttle Columbia   

Owens son Richard, W5KWQ continued the family tradition by operating ham radio from the International Space Station during his visit in October 2008, almost 25 years later. Click Here to read his account on the ARRL website.  


MARC Celebrates 75th Anniversary as ARRL Affilated Club

  (UPDATED) (Sep 5, 2009) -- A very special meeting was held on August 7, 2009 at the Massillon Senior Center at our usual start time of 8:00 PM. We celebrated our 75th year as an ARRL Affiliated Club.

To celebrate this very special achievement, Mr Jim Weaver, K8JE, Great Lakes Division Director  attended our meeting to present the club with a plaque honoring this great achievement. This is quite an honor for the club we encourage everyone to attend the meeting. We are all looking forward to Jim's visit and being with us to celebrate this great club achievement.

In 1934, members and Officers of the Massillon Amateur Radio Club voted to become an American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Affiliated Club. In the succeeding years each new club president and Executive Board has continued to uphold the standards set forth by the League to remain an Affiliated Club. We have been honored to maintain the high standards that come with being an ARRL Affiliated Club. 

Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE presents our 75th ARRL Affiliation plaque to the club.


1st Annual Greater Stark County Fox Hunt Results

Reprinted courtesy of the AARC Zero Beat Newsletter
J. Myers, KD8MQ

  (Aug 1, 2009) -- Well, the 1st Annual Greater Stark County Fox Hunt is history. The rain held off almost long enough for all hunters to find the fox, and gather at Hog Heaven, for the swapping of tall tales, and some friendly ribbing.  

The hunt was a joint venture between the Alliance , Canton , & Massillon Amateur Radio Clubs. The planning committee was made up of John (KD8MQ), Tom (KC8QOD), Dale (NX8J), Mike (KD8ENV), and Scott (N3JJT).  

Scoring was simple; As the hunters located the fox boxes, the grabbed the lowest numbered tag from the box. The hunters with the lowest sum of both tags were the winners.  

The day began bright & sunny, but started clouding over as the hunt progressed. The hunt started just a few minutes after 10 O’clock, with the activation of fox # 1. Signing KD8MQ on 147.51, the signal was weak, but reception was still possible at the starting line. Within moments, the parking lot was bare, as the hunters left in pursuit of their prey. At that point, Mike, accompanied by Scott, left to place fox # 2 in its hiding place, and activate it on 145.580.  

Barely 30 minutes after the hunt began, word was received from Tom, Re-checking their route on the computer, are the 2nd place team of Richard, KD6MPN, and Don, K8OMO that two hunters had arrived in the vicinity of fox # 1, and were homing in quickly on the foxes lair. Not long afterwards, the team of Justin (W8JKC), Jake (KD8GPM), & David (KC8WVH) arrived back at the starting line with the # 1 tag from both foxes. This was good enough for first place.  

Soon after they arrived, the rain began, so we all retired to the restaurant, to wait for the rest of the hunters to straggle in. The 2nd place team of KD6MPN, and K8OMO arrived soon after, followed later by 3rd place Jason (KC8LIN), and Anthony (KC8FFC). Dale (NX8J), and Andy (One of the venture crew members) arrived around the same time as Les (W8TJF), and Gary (WA8ADA), who had been rained out.  

After a fine lunch served by the staff at Hog Heaven, we drew for prizes. The “experienced” copy of “Transmitter Hunting: Radio Direction finding Simplified” was won by Dale, NX8J. The winner of the K0OV offset attenuator board, was Richard, KD6MPN. One interesting note is that both the 1st & 2nd place teams used offset attenuators using the K0OV design, though K8OMO swears they didn’t use theirs until they were hunting for fox # 2.  

The idea for the hunt began last December, when John, Tom, Mike, and Scott put on a fox hunt for some local scouts. After the hunt, the idea was raised of an inter-club fox hunt, and the idea was born. Plans for next years hunt are tentative, but the CQ Magazine National Foxhunting Weekend in May is being discussed. We’ll have more information as it becomes available. Thanks to all who participated, for making this one a success. See you in 2010 !


MARC Participates in Summer Splash  

  (Jul 11, 2009) -- The Massillon Amateur Radio Club was part of this years Summer Science Splash at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton on Friday, July 10th from 5:00 - 11:00 PM.

This event showcased local science exhibits and will include special science shows, a forensics presentation, reptile and animal shows, science crafts and other programs.

The club was contacted by Science Director Lynette Reiner from the Museum who wanted to include an Amateur Radio presentation. Our display covered our own local radio club and amateur radio in general. It included some radio equipment displays, an informative video and hand out literature used at Field Day. The booth was staffed by Terry Russ, N8ATZ and Gary Kline, WC8W. Numerous visitors stopped by to gaze at our display and ask questions about our hobby and our activities. Science Director Lynette Reiner appreciated our participation at the event and has already asked us to be part of next years Supper Splash which will celebrate the Museum's 40th Anniversary.

Additional information is available on their website at http://www.mckinleymuseum.org

Gary Kline, WC8W (L) and Terry Russ, N8ATZ at the Discover World event at McKinley Museum 


Ohio Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE  (SK)

  (Jun 28, 2009) --  Joe Phillips, K8QOE, who served as ARRL Ohio Section Manager since 1998, passed away suddenly at his home on Saturday, June 20. He was 68. Licensed in 1959 as KN9SYL, Phillips first joined the ARRL Field Organization as an Official Emergency Station (OES) in 1986. He became a Public Information Officer in 1989 and has served as an Official Observer (OO) since 1997. He was elected Ohio Section Manager in 1998.

A graduate of Youngstown University, Phillips had a career as a journalist and a teacher. He edited six separate ham radio newsletters in Cincinnati before becoming Newsletter Editor for the Ohio Area Repeater Council in 1984, a position he held for five years. In 1986, Phillips organized the first Ohio Repeater Directory and in 1992, organized the Ohio Section Ham Radio Newsletter Contest. He authored a weekly ham radio newspaper column in the Sunday edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer called "Ham Call" and hosted a similarly named program for cable television in the Cincinnati area.

In 1994, Phillips was elected to the Greater Cincinnati Amateur Radio Hall of Fame, and in 1995, he was the recipient of the ARRL's McGan Silver Antenna Award. This award is given annually to a League member who demonstrates outstanding public relations success on behalf Amateur Radio at the local, state or national level. Phillips was excited about having his photo on the cover of the May 2009 issue of QST featuring the annual Dayton Hamvention.

"Throughout a 40-year friendship, Joe and I worked closely together on many occasions," said ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver, K8JE. "From his early days of supporting the county ARES/RACES unit and the Ohio Repeater Council, Joe has always provided energetic and effective leadership with a friendly, personal touch. The magnetism of his style of leadership drew the best from others who soon became solid friends, not mere associates."

ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, remembered Phillips fondly: "If you have been to Dayton you have met and laughed with Joe. He was the master of the Wouff Hong ceremony. His red jacket is the stuff of legend in Ohio. Joe was more than a Section Manager -- he really gave all of himself to ARRL for 20-plus years. With him dies the last paper newsletter sent to section membership. When I answered his phone calls, he announced his call with 'Here's your Ohio Nightmare.' He loved baseball, maybe more than I did. He was a good man, and he is really going to be missed."


Digital TV Is Coming ! 

   UPDATED (Feb 7, 2009)The digital transition is underway. Prepare now! On Feb. 17, some full-power broadcast television stations in the United States may stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. The remaining stations may stop broadcasting analog sometime between March 14 and June 12. June 12 is the final deadline for terminating analog broadcasts under legislation passed by Congress and expected to be signed by President Obama. Find out more about the transition date change. Go now.*

 -- Actually, it's already here. Many of the broadcast networks have been transmitting digital in addition to standard analog television for quite some time. Digital Television (DTV), is an advanced broadcasting technology that will enhance everyone's viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It offers multiple programming choices, something traditional analog TV can't provide.

Converting to DTV will also free up parts of the scarce and valuable broadcast spectrum. Those portions of the spectrum can then be used for other important services, such as public safety services and advanced wireless services. This may even benefit Amateur Radio by easing up the pressure these services have been placing on the FCC to re-alocate parts of our amateur bands to commercial service. 

TV stations serving all markets in the US are airing digital programming today, although most will continue to provide analog programming through February 17, 2009. At that point, full-power TV stations will cease broadcasting on their current analog channels, and the spectrum they use for analog broadcasting will be reclaimed and put to other uses.

Many if not most of the members of the MARC subscribe to Massillon Cable TV (MCTV) although several are Satellite  subscribers with the remainder still using traditional over-the-air TV antennas. 

If you are in the last group still using TV antennas to receive over-the-air signals on TV sets having only analog tuners you will need to obtain separate digital to analog set-top converter boxes to watch TV. These boxes receive digital signals and convert them into analog format for display on older style TV's. Analog sets connected to such converter boxes will display digital broadcasts, but not necessarily in the full, original digital quality. 

Between Jan 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, all US households have been eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40.00 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two, digital to analog converter boxes. The coupons have an expiration date 90 days after mailing and must be used by that date. Many retailers carry these converter boxes for as little as $49.95 (with coupon only $9.95).  Visit www.dtv2009.gov to get your coupons.

If you are a subscriber to MCTV, this transition is a little easier. MCTV began the change from analog to digital technology almost 15 years ago when they installed a state-of-the-art fiber-optic broadcast cable system. Since then they have continued to enhance their system with the introduction of their high-speed internet service, digital TV and phone service, and High Definition TV (HDTV). Throughout this time they have continued to provide analog feeds to those customers still using old style TV sets. As of February 17, 2009 however, customers still using old style analog TV's will see their screen go dark unless they have obtained a converter box from MCTV. These simple boxes called the Mini-Max Converter will be provided at no cost for up to three TV's. If you already have a digital converter box in your home from MCTV, you're all set as these converters will continue to work. This will cover the set it's connected to however, any additional TV's in your home will need a set-top converter box. 

MCTV is contacting all of it's customers on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis to explain the transition to DTV. They have also setup a very detailed website that covers this transition to DTV and is located at www.dtvrollout.com

It would appear that Time Warner Cable TV subscribers will have it even easier during this DTV rollout and may not have to do anything at all. Have a look at their website at www.timewarnercable.com for complete links. There you find links explaining their transition to DTV service.

Satellite subscribers already use special receivers to view programming but may need new DTV equipment to receive and view High Definition digital programming. You should check with your system provider for complete details. 

Complete details on the Digital TV transition can be found at www.dtv.gov

The ARRL received a request from the FCC asking that ARRL members provide technical assistance to their communities concerning the FCC-mandated DTV conversion. Click Here to read the full article.  

This MARC website article was written in an effort to provide this general assistance to both our club members and the community.


LST 325 - (Large Slow Target) From the October MARC Newsletter

  (Oct 1, 2007) -- Sailors aboard the World War II Landing Ship Transport or LST's jokingly referred to their ships as Large Slow Targets because when fully loaded they could only obtain about 12 knots speed (about 12 - 15 MPH).

Our own Perry Ballinger, W8AU, is the Chief Radioman aboard the LST-325 which this past September sailed up the Illinois River to Peoria to display the WW II Transport ship. They were to leave Peoria on September 5th but high river water delayed them for about a week. The main idea was to sail down the river to Alton, IL and stay there from September 6th through the 11th and then sail back home to Evansville. If nothing else, Perry got some quality "radio" time in including a contact with club newsletter editor Gary Kline, WC8W and of course Rodger Trompower, KA8FTS and others on the club MRN net.

Perry has been very active from the LST-325 over the past several years and his travels have been covered in both the club newsletter and on the website. You can review some of his past adventures by clicking here.


Another Great MARC Field Day !

  UPDATED !(Aug 12, 2007) -- Thanks to lots of hard work by many club members Field Day 2007 was another big success with everyone enjoying good company, really nice weather, lots of contacts, some especially great food and loads of FUN !.

From setup Saturday morning to teardown Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed yet another great weekend communications exercise. 

As always lots of great memories are generated with each Field Day and many of which are captured in "Kodiak Moments". I hope you enjoy this special Field Day Memories Page, I have also included a few pictures from the archive from past Field Days ! 

We also wish to thank the Canton Repository and staff writer Denise Sautters (denise.sautters@cantonrep.com) for the great story they did on our Field Day exercise. The story appeared in the Sunday, June 24, 2007 edition of the paper in the LOCAL section. 

Click on the Field Day graphic to go to our annual Field Day webpage. I also have a whole bunch of great Field Day pictures from several club members including Gary - WC8W, Jason - KC8LIN, Don - W8DEF, Ric - K8RIC including some of my own that I hope to post as time allows.  Jason currently has many pictures posted from Field Day on his website. Go directly to www.kc8lin.com to have a look !

A special thanks to everyone who participated in this years event, if you didn't make it this year you missed out on another great Field Day !. Have a look at our Field Day page to see what all you missed !  MARC Field Day 2007.

The results from Field Day 2007 have been made official and are posted below.

CW CONTACTS

BAND CONTACTS
80 M CW 332
40 M CW 240
20 M CW 106
15 M CW 36
6 M CW 2

PHONE CONTACTS

80 M Phone 61
40 M Phone 50
20 M Phone 201
6 M Phone 37
2 M Phone 4

Total CW Contacts were 716. Total Phone Contacts were 454. There were 5 Satellite Contacts, 8 Digital (RTTY) Contacts for a total of 13 Digital Contacts.

We had 101 GOTA Contacts. This totals to 1,912 total QSO Points with a multiplier of X2 equals a claimed score of 3,824 points.

We are claiming total bonus points of 1,260 (our best ever). This figures out to a Grand Total of 5,084 Points ! 

The final results are usually published in the December issue of QST Magazine.


MARC in Memorial Day Parade

  (Jun 3, 2007) -- The MARC participated in the annual Massillon Memorial Day parade using our Emergency Communications Trailer decorated to suit the holiday with flags representing the Armed Forces along the front. Several of our honored club Military Service veterans rode in the back as Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ pulled the trailer. 

A special thanks to club members Perry Ballinger - W8AU representing the US Navy, his son Bob Ballinger - N8KXO representing the Marine Corps, Perry's grandson Brent Shriver - KC8EBE currently an active member of the USMC and Jim Farriss - WA8GXM representing the Air Force Reserve.

 

The MARC in the Memorial Day Parade


MARC Spring Fox Hunt Results

  (Jun 3, 2007) -- Saturday, May 12th the MARC held it's annual Spring Fox Hunt in conjunction with CQ Magazine's National Fox Hunt Weekend.

It was a great turnout with eight hunters testing their skills to find the elusive fox. The Fox turned out to be hiding in a corner of Massillon Community Hospital buried in a pile of mulch. Nearly everyone found the general area of the fox but only half actually found the buried transmitter. Congratulations to Gary, WC8W who was the first to find the Fox !. The other Fox Hunters were Tom - KC8QOD, Rodger - KA8FTS, Dan - N8DZM, Don - W8DEF, Linda - K8MOO, Perry - W8AU and Scott - N3JJT.

More Fox Hunting is scheduled for Field Day weekend. We will be hiding multiple transmitters somewhere in Petros Park on the Fox frequency of 145.62 Mhz. Get your Fox Hunting gear ready to go as we expect lots of participation. 

Remember since you are only receiving, anyone can participate, even non-hams. Just an HT or scanner is all that is needed and your wits ! Make sure you join us this year !  De Dan - N8DZM, MARC Foxmister.

The Spring Fox Hunters !


Tech Talk - Are You Connected ?

(Feb 1, 2007) -- Do you read QST Magazine? One section I always like to read is their column called "The Doctor Is In". This monthly column always has some interesting project information covering a wide variety of topics.

A recent item came in from a ham named Davis, KA3SNY who asked the 'Doctor' what maximum power limits can reliably transmit through a BNC connector?

The Doctors answer - BNC connectors are rated at 500 V peak. That translates to 5,000 Watts peak in a 50 Ohm system with a 1:1 SWR, although most folks run less power through them, typically 500 watts or less. One problem is that the cables that are typically connected to BNC connectors are usually rated for 500 Watts maximum.

That got me to thinking about the various RF connectors we depend on to connect our antenna's to our radio equipment. You would be surprised how many installations are using top notch antennas fed with expensive grade coax cable yet connected with improper connectors that aren't properly installed. But that sounds like the subject of a future column. For now, lets talk about some commonly used RF connectors.

BNCFirst a bit more information about the BNC. Developed in the late 1940's as a miniature version of the Type C connector, BNC stands for Bayonet Neil Concelman  and is named after Amphenol engineer Carl Concelman. The BNC product line is a miniature quick connect/disconnect RF connector. It features two bayonet lugs on the female connector; mating is achieved with only a quarter turn of the coupling nut. BNC's are ideally suited for cable termination for miniature to subminiature coaxial cable such as RG-58, RG-59 and RG-179 to RG-316.

The BNC is designed to operate up to 11 GHz and typically yield low reflection through 4 GHz. Ham's typically use them to connect up to our handhelds, ATV and oscilloscopes. 

The next connector used in nearly every ham shack is the venerable old UHF UHF or "PL" style connectors. Invented in the 1930's by an Amphenol engineer named E. Clark Quackenbush (yes, I said Quackenbush!), UHF coaxial connectors are general purpose units developed for use in low frequency systems from 0.6 - 300 MHz. Invented for use in the radio industry, UHF is an acronym for Untra-High Frequency because at the time 300 MHz was considered high frequency.

UHF connectors are rated at up to 500 volts peak (same as the BNC) but with a frequency range of only up to 300 MHz aren't suitable for the true UHF amateur spectrum we use today. Despite this, the connector is routinely used on most of the Dual-Band mobiles being sold today.

Type NLastly is the Type N Connector. Named after Paul Neill of Bell Labs after being developed in the 1940's, the Type N offered the first true microwave performance. The Type N connector was developed to satisify the need for a durable, weatherproof, medium-size RF connector with consistant performance through 11 GHz.

There are two families of Type N connectors: Standard N (for coax cable) and Corrugated N (for helical and annular cable). Their primary applications are for the termination of medium to miniature size coaxial cable, including RG-8, RG-58, RG-141 and RG-225. RF coaxial connectors are the most important element in the cable system. Corrugated copper coaxial cables have the potential to deliver all the performance a system requires, which is why Hams use this type of cable/connector in most repeater systems both VHF & UHF. This also helps to hold down intermodulation distortion. They are also easily installed using simple hand tools in the field and are highly resistant to pull off.

Thanks to a solid 50 Ohm impedance, a frequency range of from 0 - 11 GHz and a voltage rating of up to 1,500 volts peak, it is the connector of choice for most of today's high power amateur and commercial systems.

There are lost of other RF type connectors in use today, but these are the ones most often used by the amateur community.

Now that you know a little more about them, we can all make sure we pick the right connector for that next antenna project !. If you would like to learn even more about RF connectors, review Amphenol's website at http://www.amphenolrf.com.


MARC Field Day Results

  (Nov 24, 2006) -- The ARRL has posted the official results from this years Field Day and the club’s score of 4,872 points ended as our final score for the event. I am pleased to say we placed 9th in Category 2A for the Great Lakes Division this year, a solid effort. Ohio was a very active state during Field Day this year, there were 117 submissions for Field Day, more than any other state in the U.S.  

The official results are currently posted in the December issue of QST Magazine and if you look at page 83 you will see that we made it in their annual Field Day review with a picture of our might Field Day Blimp. This marks the first time the club has been included with both a mention and a picture from our Field Day event. The story is also covered on the ARRL website. 

Thanks to lots of hard work by many club members Field Day 2006 was another great success with everyone enjoying good company, really nice weather, lots of contacts, great Field Day food and a whole bunch of FUN !. Click Here for the complete details of this years event.

(Jul 10, 2006) --  Late Addition - W8NP Field Day included in the ARRL Webpage Contest Soapbox.  Click Here to Read it all !

Only a part of the 2006 MARC Field Day Crew !


MARC At Goodyear "Safety Day"

(July 4, 2006) -- On Friday, May 26th Department 465e held its 2nd annual Safety Day. This year I was approached and asked if the MARC would like to participate. After quick discussion at the next club meeting, it was decided that we would participate.

Attending and operating the club's Ecomm Trailer were Perry Ballinger-W8AU, Anne Ballinger-N8GAF, Don Finley-W8DEF and Wade Huthmacher-WD8MIU. The main topic of the day was Emergency Communications. The mast was extended and an inverted V was hung from the mast. Four groups (about 15 people each), stopped by throughout the day and visit the trailer station along with many other activities scheduled at the Akron Test Facility. We supplied the volunteers with lunch and after we wrapped things up for the day, I took the group on a tour of our test lab. All in all we had a great time, and again a big thanks to the volunteers for spending their entire Friday donating their time and putting the MARC in the eyes and minds of others.

73's  De Scott, N3JJT.


The Massillon Summer Time Festival

(Jul 19, 2006) -- Massillon held it's Annual Summer Time on Fourth Street Festival last Sunday, July 16th and again this year several club members took part in this years event which offered a step back into Victorian time when organ grinders, street performers, artists and homemade ice cream were the norm of the day.

As part of this years event, club historian Perry Ballinger - W8AU along with friend Ed McHugh and assistance from Igor - K8INN and Scott - N3JJT demonstrated an authentic Western Union telegraph station. Adorned in typical telegrapher atire, Perry setup a morse key and sounder sending messages to Igor and Scott across the street at a receiving station.

Many people stopped by hearing the unique sound of the sounder. Also on display this year was a Spark Gap Transmitter replica that could have easily been used on the early ocean going liners. The unique sound of the Spark Gap attracted numerous visitors to witness first hand what communications were like in the very early day's of radio communications. A special thanks to Perry, Igor and Scott for braving very warm weather and participating in this community event.

Want to learn more about the Telegraph and Massillon ? Click here for an interesting look back thanks to Ed McHugh.

The "Telegrapher Crew" on duty at the Festival
Scott-N3JJT (L), Igor-K8INN and Perry-W8AU

Click Here for some additional pictures !


W8NP Contacts Space Station

About AMSAT (Apr 18, 2006) -- Congratulations to our resident Amateur Satellite operator Dan Anastis - N8DZM for the great contact he made with the International Space Station on behalf of the club. Using the club call W8NP, Dan made a contact with the ISS last December 14th and has a QSL card to prove it.

The Official QSL Card of NA1SS issued to Dan - N8DZM

Congratulations Dan for making the great contact for the club !


Green Keys and Hams

(Mar 26, 2006) --  I'm a regular reader of ARRL Contributing Editor Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU and his latest "Surfin" report is titled "Green Keys and Hams" and currently appears on the ARRL website.

The story brings back many fond memories of my early days of RTTY operating during the early 1980's. Some of you may remember a short lived splinter special interest radio club around during that time called "The Stark RTTY Group". During it's peak it had about 25 members as I recall, some of which are still around, and held monthly meetings at the old Canton Mellet Mall General Officies. I held several positions in the club over the years including newsletter editor. I still have some of the old newsletters around today and I bring them out to reread every now and then. 

"Green Keys and Hams" spotlights the mainstay hardware teleprinters used by RTTY operators during that era. The mighty Model 28 ASR was a technological masterpiece of it's day. You weren't a serious RTTY operator unless you owned one of these serious Teletype machines.

During my early years just getting started in RTTY I bought a Model 15 Teletype machine. This smelly, noisy clankity clank machine weighted in at about a ton and needed a special high voltage loop power supply to operate. I spent many an evening fascinated by its many moving parts typing away messages over HF.

Eventually I upgraded to a Model 28 ASR, state-of-the-art RTTY Teletype Machine and finally I was running with the big dogs. I even added a gear shift so that I could run eith 60 or 100 Words-Per-Minute (WPM). This was big time operating. It was email before computers. Through the use of an autostart circuit, you could leave your equipment on and it would sit quietly and listen for someone to fire up on our old RTTY frequency of 145.75 Mhz simplex. Suddenly my Model 28 would automatically fire up and type out the message.

During those days I still lived at home and my radio room was on the second floor right above my parents bedroom. I can still remember their dismay when someone decided to send out a message (darn that Joe Ebner!), at about 2 AM and the whole second floor ceiling would begin shaking like an earthquake had just hit. I think my parents were a little worried that suddenly my 300 pound teletype machine would come crashing through the floor onto their heads !

RTTY had just started to develop into a full blown digital mode during these days. This was the days before personal computers so many of us used the "Green Keys" to enjoy this mode. Nothing could compare to the sights and sounds of a Model 28 Teletype Machine pounding out the latest ARRL Bulletin at 100 WPM. The machines were widely used as part of both the Military MARS system and the National Traffic System (NTS). They were the defacto standard at that time to send messages. 

There were a number of RTTY Magazines that sprouted up during that time and many of us couldn't wait for the annual CQ RTTY issue each year. 

Another favorite pastime during those years was the printing of pictures using our Teletype machines. The paper was on a continuous roll and we routinely sent and received pictures that were anywhere from 3 to 5 feet long. My favorites were the scantily clad cleverly posed swimsuit models, amazing what detail you could print out using a typewriter ! Some of us were lucky enough to have pictures on pre-punched paper tape. The tape was fed through the Teletype Machine just like film through a projector. We even had a windup roll on the other side.

As years progressed new equipment manufactures began producing some very nice and expensive commercial equipment to run RTTY. This was just at the beginning of the use of personal computers in ham radio and paved the way I think for the modern methods of digital operating we know today. Each year at Dayton Hamvention we would always drool over the newest high tech RTTY equipment introduced by many manufacturers like HAL and Infotech.

It's only been a few years ago that I finally decided to get rid of my venerable Model 28 Teletype Machine. It had quit working many years ago and try as I may I couldn't get it repaired. I still have some of my old pictures still rolled up in small film canisters but they too have dried up and probably wouldn't run through a machine these days. 

Like so many others I eventually succumbed to a modern desktop computer and a Television style monitor to operate RTTY. Many of us still have very fond memories of operating the "Green Keys" long before the ease of using a PC. I encourage you to check out Stan's article and explore the several links he has included on the page. I don't think RTTY is nearly as popular as it once was with the dozen or so other more advanced digital modes that populate the amateur bands today.

But lest we not forget it all began with the golden sounds of an old Teletype machine clanking away in many a hams radio room. Now that was Real Radio !   

 

A great old Model 28 ASR Teletype Machine just like we used to use !


MARC Attends Multi-County Meeting 

(Mar 30, 2006) -- A Multi-County Coalition meeting was held last Sunday, March 26th at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia with several Stark County ARES members attending including Assistant EC Terry Russ - N8ATZ who along with Winlink Technical Director Ralph Bugg - K8HSQ presented a slide presentation on our Stark County Winlink Communications Initiative.

The meeting included nearly 30 attendees representing about seven southeastern counties as well as several ARES Emergency Coordinators, Assistant EC's and District Coordinators. Additional MARC members in attendance included Net Manager Michelle Gill - KC8ZEJ and husband Bob - N8DVS.

Club representatives reported on their current activities and ARES coordinators also reported on their current public service activities. Discussions also involved the need for ARES volunteers to become familiar with FEMA's Incident Command System training courses. Most important were ICS-100, ICS-200, ICS-700 and ICS-800. 

After a short break Stark County Winlink Coordinators gave a  slide presentation on our Stark County Winlink Initiative.

The meeting was well attended with a lot of information shared with all attendees. The next Multi-County Coalition Meeting is scheduled to be held on Sunday, July 23rd at 2:00 PM in Coshocton.


Massillon Radio Net  (MRN)

  (Nov 12, 2005) -- The newly formed Massillon Radio Net (MRN) convenes Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights at 7:30 PM EST, on 3650 Hz plus or minus QRM under the direction of MARC member Perry Ballinger, W8AU.

This CW net is designed to provide new operators with the basics of traffic handling techniques and other message training. All area operators are invited to participate in this open and informal net. The code speed is kept at about 5 wpm to make it more comfortable for new operators to take part in the net.

The net is operated in the spirit of the National Radio Emergency Network (NREM). The NREM is designed to provide a 24 - hour emergency communications capability for fixed, portable, or mobile stations. It is sponsored by the Michigan Net, QMN. It is the goal of the QMN organization to promote high-quality public service and emergency communications activities.

You can learn more about the National Radio Emergency Network on their website at http://68.43.101.244:81/nren. You can learn more about the Michigan Net, QMN, and its programs at their webpage at www.qsl.net/w8ihx

In keeping with the training directives of the NREN, a recent training topic is covered in the November issue of the MARC monthly newsletter FEEDBACK. Authored by Jim Wades, WB8SIW, General Manager of the Michigan Net, QMN, it covers setting up a radio station designed for ARES or Traffic Handling work including a few useful accessories for traffic handling.

If you didn't get a chance to read this excellent story, it is currently posted on this website. Click Here to check it over.


The Great K8KIP Tower Project

(Dec 19, 2005) -- A nearly year long project to replace a tower is finally nearing completion for club member Bob Kiplinger, K8KIP despite several setbacks, one being the terrible fall of Kip's old tower with our resident tower climber Jim Farriss, WA8GXM hanging on for dear life.

Jim was severely injured when Kip's old tower gave way crashing to the ground with Jim was near the 40 foot mark. Jim had to be extracted by emergency service personnel and was hospitalized for over a week following the accident. It took several months but Jim is nearly back to his old self.

With the old tower fully removed and Jim back in shape the installation of the new tower began several months ago with Jim leading the project. Despite some chilly fall weather and with winter snows pending Jim was able to nearly complete the job thanks to the assistance from Kip, Scott - N3JJT and Don - W8DEF. Kip was also able to arrange for a bucket lift truck on several occasions thanks to his brother-in-law that really made a big difference. Aside from some finish work the job was completed just after the Thanksgiving holiday.

We have several pictures courtesy of Don - W8DEF and Terry - N8ATZ that help to tell the story but they don't do justice to this huge tower. Now we won't say this tower is tall but it's only thanks to Kip's rural location near Dalton that meant tower lights weren't necessary ! 

 

All towers are built from the ground up which is true for Kip's tower too except it measures about 18 feet apart between each of the four legs.


Ladders and Gin Poles help out a lot during tower projects but can only reach so far. Were at about 30 feet up so far.


Jim, WA8GXM slowly builds the tower one leg at a time just like a huge Erector Set.


Finally help arrives in the form of a bucket truck. 


Jim slowly fits each tower piece in place secured by several bolts. This tower had over 500 pieces to fit together !


At about the 90 foot mark, they are finally reaching the upper most sections. Almost at the far reach of the bucket truck.


The project was delayed by weather and the need for a higher reach bucket truck. Kip's brother-in-law was able to arrange for an even taller reach truck. How tall ?  You don't even want to know !


At over the 100 foot mark, Jim literally stands inside the tower at the very top to secure the antenna mast to the rotator. The ever careful Jim always belts himself in place. There's room in the bucket truck for another helper - any volunteers ?


The finished tower with beam in place. Now this signal we should be able to hear !


National Radio Emergency Network  

NREN Training Topic

Walk into the average Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or mobile communications trailer and one is often confronted with an ARES radio installation more suited to DX contesting or casual operating than emergency communications. In some installations, the radio equipment is the focal point of the installation, consuming significant desk space, while at the same time, some basic “traffic handling” tools are often overlooked. Of course, this situation is to be expected as 90 percent or more of our time as radio amateurs is typically spent having fun!

In this week’s training topic, we will discuss “key stations,” which are typically located at club facilities or served agencies. However, many of the same rules apply when setting up a home station for ARES or traffic-handling work. Likewise, we will discuss a few useful accessories for traffic handling.

What type of radio?

When selecting communications equipment for an EOC or club station, one should select equipment that offers good performance with a minimum number of “bells and whistles.” For example, in the case of a High Frequency radio, features that are advantageous for the DX contester are often of little value for the public service communicator. In most emergencies, one places a transceiver on a particular frequency for long periods of time. It is unlikely one will require the use of multiple VFOs for split operation, spectral displays, and the like! Furthermore, newer radios, with complex “menu-driven” controls are difficult to master in a short period of time. As such, operators arriving from outside the area to assist or even local operators who may use the radio only a few times a year during drills or exercises, may find it difficult to learn or ”relearn” a complex menu structure.

For High Frequency communications, a basic radio, with volume, a simple VFO and a few filters is usually sufficient for reliable communications. VHF radios should likewise be simple. It is often best to program local and surrounding ARES frequencies into the memory so that all one has to do is rotate the knob until the desired repeater frequency appears. Therefore, when selecting radios for an EOC or similar facility, select a simple, reliable unit that is easy to master with just a few minutes briefing-time.

Dual band radios are often encountered in the field. However, a single ”dual band” radio is not recommended. A failure involving a key component can result in both bands being unavailable at the location. However, when two dual band radios are present, they offer some limited redundancy by insuring both VHF and UHF are available on site. Ultimately, the basic rule is to select simple, reliable radios that are easy to master with just a few minutes briefing-time. 

Radio Placement

Unlike chasing DX, the primary activity of a traffic handler or emergency communicator is the management of information. As such, adjusting the radio is not the focal point of one’s activity. Desk space must be available for logs, message forms, and the like. Radio gear can be placed above the writing/work surface using mobile mount brackets or a solid shelf. In the case of mobile command posts and similar facilities, all equipment must be solidly secured to withstand an emergency stop or sharp maneuvers that may occur when avoiding accidents.

When possible, it is best to separate voice positions with digital or CW positions in the radio room. This prevents voice operators from slowly and subconsciously increasing the volume and “talk level” as they compensate for ambient noise. All operators, voice or CW should have headphones available.

A CW station should always have a straight key available, as well as a few adapters, which permit operators to bring a favorite “bug” or personal paddles/keyer from the outside.

Computers and Peripherals

The computer is an integral part of many modern communications centers, whether as part of a digital communications system or a simple administrative tool for transcribing messages and keeping radio logs. Regardless of the computer application, it is important to remember these basic rules:

1. Software should be simple and standardized. ARES groups throughout a Section or region should attempt to standardize software so that most operators are at least minimally familiar with a particular application. This again minimizes the “learning curve” for operators arriving on-scene.

2. A computer is worthless without a printer. As mentioned in an earlier training topic, public safety officials do not have time to linger over an amateur’s shoulder trying to read a packet radio message before it scrolls away on screen. Be sure to have extra paper, printer cartridges and the like on hand. A “generic” printer driver should be resident on the computer hard-drive so that any available printer can be pressed into service for basic text printing in the event of a primary printer failure.

3. Be sure the computer has a floppy disk drive and CDROM drive, which permits served agency officials to prepare a document on their own lap-top and then provide it to you on disk for up-load and transmission to a nearby facility.

Message Forms

The beginning traffic handler will likely use the yellow “radiogram” forms extensively for traffic work. These are an excellent first choice because they walk one through the process of constructing the message. However, for the experienced traffic handler, who is intimately familiar with radiogram format, other options exist.

A favorite is the Adams “Rapid Memo” pad stock number SC-1158. These pads, available at Office Max and similar retail outlets provide a carbonless form perfect for emergency use in the field. The top form can be removed for delivery to an official, whereas the bottom “yellow” form allows one to retain a carbon-copy of all messages handled. The form is set up with “text boxes,” the top box can contain the service information, a “To” box contains the address, and a single large text box is available for the text and signature. The cost for a pad of 50 is less than seven dollars, and the booklets containing the message forms are small enough to be placed in a small “go-kit” or portable station case, making them ideal for portable operations.

When a computer and printer or a typewriter is available for transcribing messages, one may wish to consider the use of QMN Form 9701, downloadable from the NREN page. One can change the header to reflect the name of your local net or ARES group. Either way, this form allows one to place a blank form in a computer printer and print a neat copy of a message for delivery to a served agency either directly or via FAX.

Tally Counter

A useful tool for fixed or portable operation is the “tally counter.” This is a small device that allows one to keep track of outgoing message serial number simply by pressing a button each time a message is drafted. 

Two simple versions are available from the “Ben Meadows” Company (www.benmeadows.com). These are the desk-mount version, stock number 102996, and the handheld version, 102954. Cost is approximately 12 dollars each. By the way, the Ben Meadows company, while catering primarily to the Forestry and Natural Resources community has a wide variety of items that may prove useful to the emergency communicator, ranging from arborists “throw bags” for tossing antenna line over tall tree limbs to back packs designed for GPS and surveying that are ideally suited for use in man-pack communications configurations. Best of all, their customer service is outstanding!

Printed accessories

The NREN Web Page has a variety of downloadable forms available. As mentioned before, the QMN form 9701 can be printed or used as a template for the printing of messages for hand delivery or facsimile transmission to a served agency. The Form 9805 radio log, “borrowed” from the Air Force, offers a simple, easily duplicated format for keeping an accurate radio log. The ARRL also offers some useful forms, such as the FSD-244 Disaster Welfare Message Form, the FSD-212 “Pink Card,” and similar items. Be sure to have a variety of these available for use in time of emergency.

Delivery Options

Today, served agencies use FAX machines, the Internet, and similar facilities as part of doing business. As such, the delivery of messages via these methods is considered both desirable and normal. These resources, when available in a key station or shack permit one to deliver neat, printed messages to a served agency. Just make sure they are told to expect the delivery via these methods. Otherwise, you may find out your message sat unread on a fax machine’s output tray for a couple of days until long after the emergency situation passed!

Review and Preparedness Steps

1. When selecting communications equipment for a key station, select simple, reliable equipment that is easy to use and master in a short time.

2. Place radio gear above or adjacent to your work area. Work areas should be open for handling paper work, radio logs, and message forms.

3. Address issues of ambient noise. Separate voice positions with digital or CW positions. Provide “cans” (headphones) for operators.

4. Make sure adequate message forms are available. Use the option best suited to the circumstance. Portable operators may wish to use simple carbonless two-part pads, which are ideally suited to field deployment. Fixed stations may wish to use forms suitable for insertion in a mill (typewriter) or computer printer.

5. In the case of a key station or even a well-equipped home station, give some thought to alternate methods of delivery, such as FAX and e-mail delivery. These are part of the modern business environment and serve to improve accuracy and eliminate misunderstanding in the delivery process.

A final thought!

Remember that the quality of customer service is more important than the technology. Most public safety and relief agency officials care little about how you send or receive their traffic. Rather, they care about how well you send and receive their traffic. When an operator is well trained and messages arrive in a neat, timely, and consistent manner with all of the required information, Amateur Radio will be valued and highly sought-after. From the perspective of a served agency, we are first and foremost, a service, and not a conglomeration of technologies.

WB8SIW

(article submitted by Perry, W8AU)

September Safety Break News

  (Sep 10, 2005) -- The MARC completed their late summer/early fall Safety Break event over the Labor Day weekend. This years event was at the Northbound Rest Area on I-77 just north of Dover. The weather was just perfect for this years event with moderate temperatures and sun shine the entire weekend.

This was our only Safety Break this year and provided a great service to both the community and our club. It is always difficult to gather enough volunteers to staff our Safety Break station for an entire weekend, especially when it also occurs over a holiday as well. This year 26 club members along with YL's and XYL's comprised our very dedicated team and we manage to complete a successful event. The results won't be known until the October club meeting but we believe we did well considering a slower than normal holiday weekend freeway crowd.

A special thanks to the following club members for their volunteer spirit in staffing our safety break this year.

They were --   Ed Clinger-WA8DRT,  Rodger Trompower-KA8FTS,  Joe Herrick-WD8BGW,  Dan Anastis - N8DZM,  Mike Sciarini-WA8MKH and his XYL Carol-KB8IMH,  Igor-K8INN,  Scott McCamish-N3JJT,  Saundra Becker-N8TZB and Shelby Foss-N8XEO who worked a double 12 hour shift !. Terry Russ-N8ATZ and XYL Lynnette,  Ralph Bugg-K8HSQ,  Steve Hall-KD8ACF,  Rich Ross-KA8ZQH and XYL Martha,  Gary Kline-WC8W, Larry Fierstos-KC8RKU,  Jerry LaRocca-KF8EB,  Matt Kraner-K8MAT,  Stan Smith-WA8NZE,  Bob Ballinger-N8KXO,  Byron Berger-KF8UN, Sandy Muirhead-Gould-K8FUN,  Don Finley-W8DEF,  Perry Ballinger-W8AU and Jim Farriss-WA8GXM.  Our apologies if  we omitted anyone !..  This also includes everyone who took time to run and bag the donuts,  all the cookie bakers and volunteers who kept our refreshments well stocked over the weekend !


W8AU Part of Summer Time Festival  

(Jul 23, 2005) -- Massillon's Fourth Annual Summer Time on Fourth Street event was held Sunday, July 16th and several MARC club members took part in this year's Summer Time Festival which offers a step back into Victorian times when organ grinders, street performers, artists and homemade ice cream were the rule of the day. 

As part of this years event, club member and historian Perry Ballinger - W8AU, along with friend Ed McHugh and club member Don Guisinger, demonstrated an authentic Western Union Telegraph station. Adorned in typical telegrapher uniforms, Perry setup a morse key and sounder and transmitted messages to Don across the street at a receiving station. The demonstration was very well received with many visitors stopping by at the sound of the telegraph sounder. Perry's wife Anne - N8GAF was also part of the Summer Time Festival staffing an old fashion cotton candy concession booth.

Want to learn more about the Telegraph and Massillon ? Click here for an interesting look back thanks to Ed McHugh.

    

Western Union Telegrapher Perry Ballinger - W8AU at Summer Time on Fourth Street Festival


Ten-Tec Co-Founder Al Kahn, K4FW, Silent Key  

  (Jun 18, 2005) -- Albert R. "Al" Kahn, K4FW passed away on June 15th at the age of 98. An ARRL member, Kahn - together with Jack Burchfield, K4JU, co-founded Ten-Tec following his retirement from Electro-Voice, which he also founded and served as President.

Ten-Tec holds a special place with the Massillon Amateur Radio Club. A Ten-Tec radio is believed to be one of the first solid state transceiver's ever used during our annual Field Day club activity as well as our main radio at our club station, W8NP, currently located at the Massillon Senior Citizens Center. 

Ten-Tec's were also usually a main prize at our annual Hamfest, where many ham operator would discover the pure joy and simplicity of owning and operating a Ten-Tec radio. They had the unique ability to produce amateur transceivers that had the true "look and feel" of classic amateur radio. They also pioneered several of the innovations thirty years ago that are the defacto standard even today. CW operators especially liked the full break-in feature which allowed the receiver to operate in between the CW signal. Their transmitters are also rated continuous duty at full power output, something SSTV and digital operators have long appreciated. Long before current manufacturers built in SWR protection, Tec-Tec's unique design protected the finals by simply shutting down the radio with high SWR. 

Experimenters and builders could even buy enclosures that were patterned after their HF radio transceivers. For the first time you could build your own accessories in enclosures that would look like your main station. Quite an innovation that is still going on today.

Even their equipment names envoked visions of spectrum domination among radio operators. The Argonaut, Century, Trition, Centurion, Titan, Orion and Jupiter make up only some of the names from their famous line up over the years.

The club has always owned several Ten-Tec products as well as many of our members. Ten-Tec's continue to hold a special place in the history of many ham radio operators and always will thanks to founder Al Kahn, K4FW.  

Click Here to read the ARRL announcement of Al's passing. Some additional historical information can be found on the N9VV Ten-Tec history page. Current Ten-Tec products as well as their other offerings are available on their website at www.tentec.com


MARC Part of Summer Time Festival  

(Jul 19, 2006) -- Before the telephone and the internet there was the telegraph. Between the Civil Way and World War II, if you wanted to contact someone in a hurry you sent them a telegram - a written message transmitted electrically over wires. The invention of the telegraph in the 1840's had the same kind of impact on society that the internet has today. It revolutionized communication and it's early operators like Massillon native Jesse H. Bunnell were the "techies" of their day.

Telegrams were used for everything that we now do by telephone, fax and e-mails; for example, holiday messages, business transactions, birthday greetings, train movements, stock reports and perhaps the saddest duty during World Wars I and II - the announcement of the deaths of service members to their loved ones. The telegraph was also used to operate synchronized clocks and alarm systems and send news and sports reports. For over a century, the telegraph office on election night  was one of the most popular places in town as voting results came in. In the 1920's and 30's, before the advent of long distance telephone lines, telegraphs were even used to "broadcast" baseball games. An operator in the press box at the baseball stadium would send the results of each pitch and play to a radio station by telegraph. At the station, a broadcaster would "recreate" the game for the radio audience based on the telegraph messages.

HOW TELEGRAMS WERE SENT

You couldn't send a telegram yourself so you would go to the local office of one of the large companies that operated telegraph networks - e.g., Western Union or the Postal Telegraph, fill out a message form and pay a small fee for each word transmitted. Your telegraph office would transmit the message to the local office at its destination where it would be written down and given to a bicycle messenger for delivery. Massillon had its own local telegraph office for almost 120 years. The first office opened in 1851, and for many years was located in the Opera House building. Western Union finally closed their office in Massillon at 25 City Hall Street SE in 1969.

The telegraph companies used a special language called Morse Code (named after an inventor of the telegraph - Samuel F.B. Morse) to send messages. Morse Code was not a voice language but instead used electric pulses (specific dashes and dots for each letter), to communicate. Morse Code was sent by an operator through a telegraph "key" over wires using electricity. A good operator could send 30 or more words per minute. When the electric impulses arrived at their destination, a "sounder" translated them into audible dots and dashes for transcription into letters and words by another operator. 

MASSILLON'S OWN - JESSE H. BUNNELL

A Massillon native, Jesse H. Bunnell, was one of the most prominent men in telegraph history. Born in Massillon in 1843,  just a year before the telegraph was invented, he became a messenger in the local telegraph office at age 11, and a full fledged operator by the age of 13. At the start of the Civil War, he joined the Union Military Telegraph Service and worked under the legendary Andrew Carnegie. In 1862, he became the personal telegrapher of General George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac and later served with General Rosecrans in Tennessee and Georgia. After the War, Jesse founded the J.H. Bunnell Company, which became the largest manufacturer of telegraph equipment in the United States. Bunnell died in New York in 1899. Although he did not return to Massillon after the Civil War, Bunnell's brother, a livery stable operator, continued to live in Massillon until the 1900's.

A Special Thanks to Ed McHugh For The Above Historical Information.

Some Additional Pictures from the Festival

The "Telegrapher Crew" on duty at the Festival
Scott-N3JJT (L), Igor-K8INN and Perry-W8AU

The replica of an original Spark Gap Transmitter

Scott-N3JJT (L) and Igor-K8INN receiving messages from Perry

Perry sends a message from a young visitor to the receiving station


LST-325 Plans Amateur Radio Operation During Cruise With W8AU Aboard  

Courtesy of the ARRL

 

(L-R) Perry Ballinger, W8AU, Tom Pendarvis, W0MTP, and Bob Wilder, AF2HD, in the LST-325 radio room.

LST-325 at Normandy Beach in June 1944.

W8AU copying CW on a "mill" in the LST-325 radio room.

W0MTP at the helm of LST-325.

Crossing the Atlantic from Greece to Alabama in 2000.

LST-325 arriving in Mobile. She will return here from her upcoming voyage on July 4.

NEWINGTON, CT, May 3, 2005 --  The LST-325, a 327-foot World War II vessel designed to transport and deploy tanks and troops during coastal beach landings, will have Amateur Radio aboard when she cruises up the East Coast and back this spring and early summer. The historically significant vessel is officially a cruising museum ship, but she still carries the USS LST-325 name and World War II marine radio call sign NWVC. For this voyage, LST-325 will be on the Amateur Radio bands as WW2LST.

"Her radio room features functioning vintage receivers and transmitters that are true to the models she carried into battle during the 1942-1945 time period, including the RBB, RBC and TCS-12 receivers, plus the TDE and TCS transmitters," says Tom Pendarvis, W0MTP, LST-325 radio operator. "The ship's radio room also carries modern marine and Amateur Radio transceivers for routine communications."

Pendarvis will share LST-325 radio room duties with Perry Ballinger, W8AU. Both are US Navy veterans and Navy-Marine Corps MARS operators. They also split duties working the radios during the LST-325's two-month cruise of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in 2003.

Where applicable, AM and CW operation will occasionally use the LST's WWII-vintage transmitters and receivers. Phone-patch traffic will be handled on Navy-Marine Corps MARS frequencies and via the ShipCom Coast Radio station WLO. During these periods, WW2LST likely will be off the air due to antenna logistics.

Crewed primarily by US Navy veterans--including some who served on LSTs during World War II--the ship will depart her home port of Mobile, Alabama, on or about May 17, bound for Alexandria, Virginia, where LST-325 is expected to arrive May 26. The vessel will depart May 30 for Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, arriving on or about June 3. From there, the ship will sail to Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard, arriving on or about June 8. On June 11, the USS LST-325 will lead the column of ships with the USS Constitution. On June 18, Capt Robert D. Jornlin and crew will participate in the 60th anniversary salute to WW II veterans sponsored by the US Department of Defense. Her final port of call will be on or about June 20 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The vessel will set sail for home on June 22 and arrive back in Mobile on July 4. A detailed--and still tentative--itinerary is on the USS LST Ship Memorial Web site.

 

Tentative LST-325 WW2LST/mm Operating Schedule

 

 

While in port, the radio operators will attempt to maintain a reduced operating schedule while also giving ship tours and participating in port activities. Any additional operating information or changes will be posted on the USS LST Ship Memorial Web site. Updates also may be listed as bulletins with the Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN).

Bob Wilder, AF2HD--a retired USAF veteran with sea duty experience--again will serve as "mission control" for Amateur Radio operations during the May, June and July cruise. He also will handle QSLs when an SASE is supplied. QSL to USS LST 325 Amateur Radio Club, 6032 Idlemoore Ct, Theodore, AL 36582-4117.

LSTs--or Landing Ship Tanks--typically had no names, just numbers. They were strategically pivotal in many Pacific and Atlantic assaults, and LST-325 made landings in Sicily and Salerno as well as at Normandy.

Following WW II, LST-325 was on loan to the Greek government, which handed it over to the USS LST Ship Memorial Inc at the beginning of the new millennium. In 2001, and showing manifold signs of age and neglect, LST-325 completed a 4200-mile journey from Crete, Greece, to Mobile, Alabama. Operating as WW2LST/mm, Executive Officer Jack Carter, KC6WYX (SK), was on the air throughout the voyage. On board were more than two dozen sailors--men in their 60s, 70s and older and most of them retired US Navy veterans--who were determined to deliver the ship, built in 1942 in Philadelphia, to a permanent berth in Mobile. Volunteers from all over the US have completed substantial repairs and updates to the ship since her arrival in the US in 2001.

After returning to Mobile this July, LST-325 expects to be moving northward to a new freshwater home port on the Ohio River--Evansville, Indiana--where many LSTs and P40s were built during the Second World War.

There's additional information on the USS LST Ship Memorial Web site

W1FEZ visits W8AU on board LST 325  

(Jun 18, 2005) -- Canton Amateur Radio Club member Joe Vignos - W1FEZ recently visited Perry Ballinger on board the LST - 325 during it's stop at Massachussetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA. Our thanks to Joe for sharing his visit with us and is reprinted here.

W1FEZ and XYL visited the USS LST 325 on it's 2005 East Coast Cruise while it was anchored at the Massachussetts Maritime Academy, in Buzzards Bay, MA on June 7th. We had a nice visit with our Chapter 21 crew member Perry Ballinger - W8AU, who is one of the two radioman (and main radio tech). The photo below shows Perry alongside his "pet project", the restoration of the Navy TDE Transmitter. From there the LST will proceed to Boston Harbor to participate in the once a year sail around the harbor of the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides".

Perry had sent us an email with a brief description of the voyage to date, these experiences will certainly make a great program for a future club program. You had to be there to see all the work Perry has done on the old radio gear and the sea going antenna farm, including a foldover mast.

 

Perry along side the TDE Transmitter on board LST 325 


The Folding J-Pole Project

(May 16, 2005) -- As a local coordinator of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, I'm always on the lookout for idea's that could prove useful while providing public service communications. While skimming the pages of the March 2005 issue of QST Magazine I came upon the article titled "A Backpacker's Delight - The Folding J-Pole". Authored by Michael Heiler - KA0ZLG, Mike was after a good all purpose two meter antenna for outdoor use that was physically strong and durable, yet easily transportable. That formula also works for public service work. Rubber duck antenna's on our handhelds are very useful for close repeaters but sometimes you just need a signal boost, the kind you get from an external antenna. The Folding J-Pole from KA0ZLG looked like exactly what we need, an external antenna with some gain that was easy to carry in the field. I decided it was time to build an antenna. 

You don't need to be an experienced antenna builder to construct this folding J-Pole antenna. In fact it's a great first antenna construction project for those new to the hobby. I've discovered over the years that you're not really considered a bonafide ham radio operator until you've built something !  This useful antenna project should take care of that myth and officially pronounce you a seasoned ham operator !

Having been a home owner for about 15 years, I've already had the honor of working with copper water pipe, learning by trail and error the secret to joining two pieces of piping together by soldering or sweating as its called by tradesmen. It really isn't all that different from soldering electrical components together, it just takes a lot more heat usually provided by a propane torch. Another useful tool you might want to have is a simple copper tubing cutter. Mine came from Home Depot for under ten dollars.

My plumbing junk box is usually pretty empty so starting this project meant a trip for parts. Most of the article material's list is available at your favorite hardware store. Here's my first tip for this project - my little subcompact car doesn't carry anything very long without hanging it outside the window. I discovered that you can probably buy the copper pipe in five foot long sections, much easier to carry. Two pieces will do it with a little scrap left over. Here's my second tip - the list calls for five feet of 5/16" bungee cord. Easier said than done ! I relentlessly searched several stores looking for a five foot long bungee cord only to find that the longest standard length I could find was only four foot long including the hooks. Try as I might, this would not stretch enough to fit in the antenna, just too tight. Thanks again to Don - W8DEF, he found bungee cord on a spool for only about .37 cents per foot at Demmer Hardware. Just what the project needed. Don was also kind enough to provide me with a piece of 1/4 inch thick Plexiglas needed for the feed point assembly. This can also be a little hard to find locally. I've decided to add it to my Dayton Hamvention want list.

With materials in hand it's time to cut the copper tubing and begin assembly. Follow the article for this phase and you won't go wrong. There are ample pictures and assembly drawings that make it easy. I had the basic pieces cut and ready to assemble in about 30 minutes. Clean the area of the pipe to be soldered with a light grit sandpaper to ensure a good joint. Heat the connection with the propane torch, remove it and let the connection draw in the solder. The connection doesn't have to be water tight, just enough to make a good connection. The heat will discolor the fitting and make a dull looking connection, use a wire brush with your battery drill to buff it back to a bright finish. Solder only the pieces referenced in the article.

Construction of the eyebolt assembly into the pipe end cap is a bit tricky but is still easily done. I did discover that I needed a third hand to hold the eyebolt assembly steady while I soldered it into the end cap. Make sure you follow the article instructions to use only brass bolts with the eyelet or it will never hold. With some concern, I was able to convince my wife to hold the bolt with a pair of insulated pliers while the end cap was clamped into my bench vise. This left my hands free to carefully solder the eyebolt into the cap. Fill the cap with enough solder to cover the two nuts. Be careful, one slip of the torch here and I could have easily ended up in divorce court !.

With the J-Pole assembly complete the next part was to fit the bungee cord through the eyebolt loop and tie it into a knot. Oops, one problem, the resulting knot was so big it wouldn't fit into the pipe. After a few attempts, I simply bent it around itself and used several small wire ties to hold the assembly together. Where would we be without wire ties !. Finish one side and then feed the bungee through the remainder of the antenna to the opposite end cap. Stretch the bungee cord to provide sufficient tension to hold the antenna together while still allowing it to be pulled apart for disassembly. Repeat the eyebolt loop at this end and test out the tension. 

The last section to complete is the feed point assembly. Thanks again to my buddy Don, I already had a cut-to-size piece of Plexiglas ready to drill and mount. Find the center of the piece and use a 3/4" hole saw for the SO-239 connector. Surface mount the connector with the rear of the connector centered over the hole. You can use one of the four mounting holes to secure the connector to the plate. Head for the junk box and find some hardware to finish the connections as noted in the article. I used some 14 AWG stranded building wire with crimp on ring terminals to wire the connector to the antenna and radiator section. My antenna used the pipe clamps as stated in Mike's article. With the pipe clamps set at 3 inches from the bottom of the radiator I measured an SWR of about 1.5 to 1 at 146.00 Mhz. It even tuned up pretty decent on UHF although not really designed for this purpose. A J-Pole is a third harmonic antenna on 70 cm and will work on this band just not very well. 

It is important to point out that this antenna is only for short term portable use, not permanently mounted for long term exposure to the elements. The connections are not waterproof although the article gives a few suggestions on this as well. A short length of one half inch Sch 40 PVC pipe stuck in the ground makes a fine mounting for this antenna, I used two small diameter hose clamps to hold the antenna to the PVC. 

A close up of the bungee cord inside the antenna. Ream the cut ends of the pipe smooth to avoid cutting the cord.

How well will it work in the long term ? Hard to say. I don't intend to leave it up for long periods in the weather but for short duration public service events where you need more than your handheld rubber duck this should do the trick. I am looking for a suitable case to store the antenna as well as a short length of feed line. I only need something about 23 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. Any ideas ?. This was a fun project and cost only about $15.00 including all parts. Not bad for such a neat folding antenna. If you decide to build one, let me know how it works out or if you need any help.

   

The finished antenna on a temporary mount in my front yard.

The antenna folded down and ready for storage. 

DE Terry - N8ATZ


Practice What You Preach ! 

  (Apr 5, 2005) -- Have you converted all of your 12 volt connections in the shack using the new PowerPole style connectors ?

Since their adoption as the ARES defacto standard power connector hams have been using these new universally recognized connectors. Here in Stark County many of our members have been converting to these new connectors on both mobile and base station equipment as well as on their spare equipment making it very easy to quickly power up their equipment whenever and where ever needed. The Massillon Amateur Radio Club has already converted our Emergency Communications Trailer power connections using the new PowerPole system.

Why is this being stressed so heavily around the ARES community ?  

Several Reasons....

The primary reason for a common ARES connector is that it will allow ARES members to connect their equipment to any available power source in an emergency situation. This could be a fellow ARES members home or vehicle station, a shelter, fire station, hospital or any other location where we might be called upon to setup a station.

They also provide high current capacity. The standard connector is rated 30 amps, which is sufficient to power VHF and high power HF transceivers.

The connectors are simple to install, the terminals may be crimped or soldered together. One piece of advise if you intend to crimp the terminal, purchase the RECOMMENDED crimp tool. Otherwise you could improperly crimp the connection making a potentially unreliable connection. A poor crimp may also not fit properly into the plastic housing creating yet another problem.  After heeding a word of advise from fellow ham Jim Farriss, WA8GXM, I now solder all of my connectors and have had no problems with them.

I went one step farther with my home shack as seen in the picture below. My original rats nest of wiring was the result of years of adding and changing equipment, splicing in to the power supply as needed. I did take a step in the right direction when I built a simple multiple powertap using plastic construction box and added a few banana plugs. This helped but did not clear up the clutter nor did it provide any additional protection to the equipment.

The Rats Nest of wiring for my various radios.

At the Dayton Hamvention several years ago I purchased a Rigrunner multiple PowerPole strip from West Mountain Radio along with a supply of 30 amp PowerPole connectors. The Rigrunner is a 5 outlet strip rated a total of 40 amps. A short time later I also purchased their PWRGate PG40 backup power system. This is a 12 volt backup power system that can supply up to 40 amps continuously from either a power supply or a battery. It also provides a modest battery charge to maintain a backup battery. Any connected equipment will instantly switch to battery power during a power failure.

After waiting far to long (over a year!), I decided it was time to install the system. Armed with about 30 PowerPole connectors and some 12 AWG red & black power wire also picked up at a hamfest, I proceeded to install the connectors on all of my station equipment and made up several jumpers to go from the battery to the PWRGate and to the Rigrunner multi outlet box. Looking back on it, I wish I would have bought the next size Rigrunner box. I have already run out of spaces on this one !. Oh well, Dayton is right around the corner !. I used a 35 watt soldering iron which heated up the connector fairly quickly making for a easy job.

One important note to mention. West Mountain Radio strongly recommends installing a fuse as physically close to the positive terminal of the battery as possible. A short circuit in a battery wire, connected to a large battery, will instantaneously cause the wire to heat sufficiently to possibly cause a fire, not a good situation. They did NOT put in a fuse in the PWRGate as it would NOT protect the wire itself against a short.

The picture below shows the installation of my PWRGate PowerPole backup power system. The battery is a Douglas Maintenance free type that should provide about 24 hours of backup service in the event of a power failure. Larger shacks with lots of equipment might want to consider a larger capacity battery but this one should power my meager shack very nicely.

The newly wired Rigrunner and PWRGate backup system.

So have you converted your equipment to the new PowerPole style connectors yet ? Now would be a great time to begin. The connectors are always available at nearly all area hamfests and many commercial outlets. Installation tips are available from several websites also. Check out Anderson Power Products main home page. It lists a lot of technical information about the terminals, suggested wire gages, etc. Anderson Power Ideas has some nice tips on actually installing the connectors and assembling the plastic housing to the connector. It needs to go on the proper way to lock the connector in place in the housing. West Mountain Radio carries the Rigrunner boxes and the PWRGate backup power system. 

This might make a good club project or maybe for Field Day weekend. Either way now is the time to consider updating your equipment to these new style connectors. 


10,000 and still counting

(Feb 20, 2005) -- By the time you read this the hits counter on the clubs website will have surpassed 10,000 hits. What does this mean?  It means that our website has been viewed by at least 10,000 viewers since first established. It has undergone at least three major revisions since then as we updated software and just plain figured out what the heck we were doing.  

That’s quite a milestone considering the fact that it’s only a small amateur radio club sponsored website that was originally established as a means to keep members aware of our club’s activities and to raise awareness of our club and our hobby to the general community and beyond. So far so good!  

It’s hard to imagine that the site went “On Line” in October 1999. We used QSL.Net as our first hosting service mostly because it was free and supported only by donations. This was a great hosting service owned and operated by a ham radio operator who wasn’t in it for the money, only to help protect the future of the Amateur Radio Service in his own way. We kept this service up until two years ago when it was decided to move the site to a hosting service that provided a greater level of features and service at minimal cost to the club. This allowed us more bandwidth which allows the site to operate much faster and has greater reliability than ever before.  

The site averages from 5 to 10 “hits” every day and it currently about 100 Megabytes in size. Pictures occupy a large part of the site; the World Wide Web is as much a visual medium as it is text. I’m just now learning the secret to posting pictures that look pretty good and don’t require a lot of space. Maintenance of the site is purely a labor of love with emphasis on the labor. There are only two people who maintain the site, Dan Anastis – N8DZM and I. The site is managed using Microsoft Front Page software which works very well and is easy to use. I originally created the site using only a text editor and html commands, a feat that took a lot of time. Standard file transfer protocol (FTP) software is used to upload the site to the server. This secure password protected system keeps the system secure and prevents someone making unauthorized updates to the site.  

One thing we have discovered since setting up the website. It’s much easier establishing a website than maintaining one. We try to add something new to the site each week, usually on Saturdays or Sundays. We devote about five hours or more per week maintaining the site. Adding new information, removing obsolete material, pictures, stories, etc takes up a lot of time.  

We are always open to ideas for improving the website and are happy to hear from you. At least we know that it is being looked at! We hope you like the site and its contents. Maybe you even find some of the information useful in your enjoyment of the hobby. If so then I believe we have fulfilled our mission. Your webmasters work very hard keeping it that way. I hope you like what we have done. 


Ready for New Years Resolutions ? 

  (Jan 17, 2005) -- Have you broken any of your New Years Resolutions yet ? Did you even make any? As we begin this new year why not consider making a few radio related goals/resolutions and let's all try to stick with them throughout the year. Need a few ideas ? Here are my Top Ten Goals for 2005.

1.) Take at least the ARRL Emergency Communications Level 1 Class.

2.) FEMA and the Red Cross also offer training, most of it free. Pick one that sounds interesting and see it through.

3.) Attend the Skywarn Spotter Training Seminar this year and commit to helping during 2005's severe weather season.

4.) Have you kept your ARES Registration information current ? Have you ever filled one out to register yourself with us ? Click Here to download an Adobe pdf registration form. 

5.) Do you have a shirt or jacket that can identify you as an ARES Volunteer ? How about a magnetic sign for your car ? Do you have an authorized Stark Co ARES namebadge ? 

6.) Is your Go Kit packed and ready ? Do you know what a Go Kit is ?

7.) Do you know how to operate your hand held ? Could you change frequencies or add a different PL tone while assisting with a public service event ?

8.) Make this the year you become familiar with digital communications. This will be used more and more this year during ARES operations.

9.) Do you regularly check in to our Tuesday night ARES Net ? I don't mean just listening each week, let us know you are there by checking in with net control. Perhaps even consider volunteering as a net control operator for our net, it's a great way to build your skill.

10.) Volunteer ! Help us make the Stark County ARES stronger by volunteering your time for public service events. These provide valuable training that help prepare you for emergency situations.

Throughout this year I'll discuss these 10 Resolutions in depth and how you can complete these goals to become a better ARES volunteer and I hope have some fun in the process !

------------------------------------------------

Ready For New Years Resolution Number One ?
Terry Russ, N8ATZ - Assistant Emergency Coordinator

    (Feb 23, 2005) -- Let's begin reviewing my ten New Year's Resolutions by talking about the first one.

 (1) Take at least the ARRL Introductory Emergency Communications Course.

Since their inception in 2000, the ARRL Emergency Communications Certifications were designed to raise awareness and provide additional knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer. The Level 1 course has been designed as an Introduction to Amateur Radio Emergency Communications. The course has 23 lesson units, normally takes approximately 25 hours to complete over an 8-week period.

The course introduces the volunteer to the many facets of emergency communications from our relationship with served agencies, net operation, basic skills, message handling procedures, deployment to a disaster scene, equipment considerations plus many other basic principles of emergency communications.

I believe all ARES members can substantially benefit from the basic training provided by the Level 1 course. Another advantage to consider is the $45.00 registration fee is currently being reimbursed after successful completion of the course. This has been made possible thanks to a generous grant provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the United Technologies Corporation. This year will be the last year for the grant-subsidized courses. Since grant-subsidized courses began, 4,000 amateurs have had their training reimbursed.

If an eight week online course doesn't fit your schedule you can order the Level 1 Study Guide through the ARRL for only $ 12.95. Most area VE test sessions are now offering the ARECC certification examinations. If you already have experience in ARES operations this is a great way to obtain your certification.

As amateur radio emergency communications has continued to evolve, it has become apparent that some form of formal certification was necessary in order to assure that we continue to provide trained and professional communicators for public service events and local emergencies.

Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator John Chapman - WB8INY encourages all ARES registered volunteers to obtain at least their Level 1 Certification. Just as we participate in many emergency communications drills, nets and exercises, it is equally important to participate in training offered by the ARRL and other sources. 

Make this the year you obtain your ARRL Level 1 Emergency Communications Certification !


Field Day Trophy Presented to W8AL 

  (Jan 20, 2004) -- The Canton Amateur Radio Club annual awards dinner was held on Wednesday, January 19th and several MARC members were on hand to once again present the coveted Field Day Trophy back to the CARC recognizing their winning score over the MARC again during 2004 Field Day.

Representing the club at the dinner were President Joe Herrick - WD8BGW, Historian Perry Ballinger - W8AU who personally delivered the trophy, Terry Russ - N8ATZ and his XYL Lynnette. Several other members who hold dual membership also attending were Rodger Trompower - KA8FTS and his wife Helen - KC8ZWG. Stark County ARES EC David Beltz - WD8AYE and his wife Jody also attended. 

The Trophy was presented to a packed house to current CARC President Scott Duncan - KK8D to a rousing applause. Due to the age of the trophy, it had been decided to enclose it in a new plexiglass case that would preserve the coveted award for future generations of CARC/MARC members. Joe expressed a good natured disappointment at not being able to win back the trophy during Field Day but promised that new club Vice-President and our Field Day Secret Weapon Igor Nikishin - K8INN has vowed to bring the trophy "back home" in 2005.

Mike Harlan - KC8WVJ, CARC newsletter editor and webmaster of W8AL.org took several pictures of the gala event that are already posted on their website. Go to www.w8al.org to view all of the pictures.

 

Joe presents the Field Day Trophy to Scott


Click to view full size image

The newly protected Field Day Trophy


MARC's Tower Climber - WA8GXM 

(12/12/2004) --   Like most of you, I tend to take our repeaters for granted. Whenever I want to use them I need only dial one up and key the mike. Fortunately our club has several excellent repeaters that are available for all of us to use 24/7/365. Keeping them that way is the responsibility of a few key club members, one being Jim Farriss - WA8GXM.

We are also fortunate to have as a tower site one of the best locations in Western Stark County. It is located on Alabama Avenue, just South of State Route 172 and sits at about 1,300 ft elevation on a 180 foot tall railroad microwave tower.

Jim is literally on call day and night to keep our systems up and running. To prove the point, several weekends ago in near freezing weather and wind gusting up to 25 mph, Jim spent part of his Saturday near the top of the tower changing out an antenna on his 443.675 repeater. Jim has done this type of repair many times before servicing the clubs repeaters also.

The pictures below show what's involved every time Jim has to climb the tower. Donning a safety harness and with no fear of heights, Jim completed yet another fix. All in a day's work Jim would say. Of course, we're always looking for the next club tower jockey. Nerves of steel, able to scale a 200 foot tower in a single bound while tied to a 30 pound tool belt and hoisting an antenna with you as you scale the tower are but a few of the qualifications necessary. Any Takers ???    

With replacement antenna in hand, Jim slowly scales the tower to about the 150 foot mark. This only takes him about 25 minutes. 

Jim is nearly at the top, to small to see from the ground.

Once in position Jim climbs outside the tower to begin the antenna replacement. That's nearly 200 feet in the air !


W8DEA Assists FEMA During Florida Hurricane Recovery

  (Nov 6, 2004) --  Don  Wade, W8DEA just returned from the Florida Panhandle last week after spending nearly an entire month, from September 26 until October 16, helping the FEMA agency in the wake of the worst Florida hurricane season in quite a few years. Don joined other fellow FEMA agents in the counties of Escambia and Santa Rosa , two of the hardest hit counties in the Florida panhandle. Don, a Field Supervisor for FEMA was assigned the area of Santa Rosa .. Don was in charge of five FEMA  teams that consisted of 10 to 12 people each. The State of Florida sent in SERT Teams( State Emergency Response Teams) that was assigned to Don and his Teams.  

The State of Florida also sent in teams from the Department of Transportation and Department of Human Resources that were assigned to work for Don. There (FEMA)  jobs were to assess the damage to  property and help the citizens in any way they could. The  Teams were made up of people from all over the United States and were of all ages. From Alaska , Idaho , Ohio Michigan but most were from out West, Texas , etc.  

A  typical day for Don began around 4 30 AM , he would arise and begin to work. He would do all his own planning and operations on a daily basis get up and make changes depending on personnel that was available. Don would like to be on the road by 6:00 AM and call his team leaders and make sure all the personnel were on the road.  Travel time was about two to two and a half hours, depending on where they were assigned that day, mainly because there were no rooms closer. Their days would usually last from 10 to 12 hours a day. Then they would have to drive back. Most of the work was to assess damage and community relations. Many times they were the first officials the storm victims would see. They would listen to their stories and offer their help such as what Don called Special operations that was to make sure they had Food,  Water, and Shelter either from the government or the Red Cross, or other agencies working in the area. Don and his teams would fill out a report on the victims and submit this report to FEMA, this started the process of recovery for the victim. They(victim) could call FEMA 1-800 number and start the report in which Don’s teams would receive and follow up to verify  its validity.

            The picture above is typical of what Don and his teams encountered every day. They would have to assess the damage, verify and contact  the owners of the home and then start the process of making reports the homeowner could receive assistance to repair the damage. The homeowner in this type of damage could be facing up to a year to 18 months before his home is completely repaired.

            In the meantime he had to either make arrangements for housing or FEMA would help, usually in the form of a mobile home placed on his property and set up with water, electricity and sewer if available. Many of the sewer departments were overloaded from the storm and suffered extensive damage, so many of the “FEMA” homes had to have above ground septic tanks installed which of course had to be emptied regularly

            Some of the special problems that they ran into was that a lot of the people they helped could not speak English, so the reports and other paper work was made out in Spanish, Japanese, and Vietnamese. Since each team was given a vehicle to travel to their destinations, they were responsible for their own food , water and gasoline. Travel sometimes was nearly impossible since there was so much debris in the roads, not to mention that half of the roads were covered with sand, that had to be bulldozed away. in the picture below, you can see some of the debris that was “just bulldozed to the edge of the street & left for the clean up crews to remove.” In the background is a hotel that was damaged by a wave surge that hit the hotel at the 60 foot mark (that’s five stories up!) and did extensive damage to the hotel.

            As you can see, much of the roadways are still covered with sand and will be probably up to November 1. Semi truck after  semi truck were loaded with debris and hauled away to a landfill that was especially created to handle the storm debris.          

            Restoring utilities as can be imagined were a monumental task. Power crews from all over the United States were sent to the storm damaged regions to help with the rebuilding. Crews from Ohio Power, Ohio   Edison and others from Ohio also helped with the rebuilding. Some areas are still without power, but soon will have them restored. Don personally seen Ohio Edison crews in his area. Although much of the utilities were extensively damaged, most are up and running a month after the storm hit. Gasoline and food supplies have been restored, in fact a lot of the fast food restaurants were the first to reopen, however they were limited because many of their employees had a hard time just getting to work  and a lot of them had to leave the area because their homes were destroyed. Total restoration could possible take years to complete, some will never be the same.  

            After the initial meeting with homeowner the teams handed out a flyer and made sure they registered, the process was mostly up to the homeowner to contact FEMA, give them his name, address (if anything was left or where he could be reached) and his  social security number. Once they were in the system a FEMA inspector would come make contact  with them and check out their residence to determine the extent of damage and what their long term  needs were.

            Don was in Florida during Hurricane Ivan and tropical storm Mathew. A lot of his work became frustrating because of the extensive damage and the limited supplies and manpower that was available. A lot of the victims were living in tents, or any other shelter they could find. Some even moved in with complete strangers, just to have  a roof over their heads. Those who helped were wonderful people to let them into their homes and tried to help in a time of need. After a period of time they found the system wasn’t moving fast enough. People had to qualify before FEMA could bring in trailers for temporary housing. They had to fill out paper work and this took time, which made their work even more frustrating.

            Don’s future plans with FEMA are right now quite up in the air. He has to go back to Florida for one more month and if the opportunity arises, he might take on a full time job with FEMA. He is currently awaiting the decision of his superior before he can make the “ultimate” decision. He would be permitted to stay in this area and if the need arises, he would travel to the next “hot spot” He says that anyone can work for FEMA, it requires a two week training in the Field (just like Don did) and then a supervisor’s job would be offered. If you are interested, log onto FEMA’S web site and follow the selections there for opportunities.  

Don's "going away” party during the last few days he spent in Florida . If nothing else he will have some fond memories and a very satisfied feeling of being able to help people in their time of need. Eh!...  Hey Don I see there was no shortage of pizza & pop! 


Club Completes Red Cross Antenna Project  

(Jun 12, 2004) -- On Saturday, June 12th several members of the club completed several antenna projects, one for the Western Stark Red Cross and the other at our club station, W8NP.

With the potential merging of the Canton and Massillon Red Cross into a single unified County Chapter the chapter office on Third Street will be closing and the building sold. With that in mind, Red Cross Liaison Jim Farriss, WA8GXM needed to remove the antenna and tower from the building. This was completed on Saturday morning thanks to volunteers Don Finley - W8DEF, Rich Ross - KA8ZQH, Jim Farriss - WA8GXM, Dan Anastis - N8DZM and Terry Russ - N8ATZ.

After completion of this project, Don, Jim and Terry completed the installation of the newly purchased Diamond Tri-Band Vertical antenna at the club station. New coax cable was also installed on the antenna which will enhance our ability to operate on 2, 440 and 6 meters from the club shack.

Below are some of the pictures taken from the removal of the Red Cross antenna & tower and the installation of the new tri-band antenna at W8NP.

 

Resident Tower Man Jim - WA8GXM begins disassembly of the Red Cross Antenna and Tower from their offices. The tower was about 80 feet high.

 

Jim and Don - W8DEF set the new Diamond Tri-Band on top of the Senior Center.

 

The new coax is run from the antenna to the weather head.

 

From the weather head straight down to the shack.


W1AW - The Maxim Memorial Station
by Terry Russ - N8ATZ 

  (Mar 13, 2004) -- Recently the League published a story that covered the ARRL's Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW. The story details the recently expanded capability of the station to include many of the newest digital modes.

Although known the world over for its on-the-air Morse code practice sessions and news bulletins, most ARRL members think of W1AW as the first place to visit at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. And while it is an impressive station with its rows of bulletin transmitters, guest operating positions and one heck of an antenna farm, it wasn't always so. 

The W1AW story actually began in 1928 when the first official HQ station went on the air from Hartford as W1MK. The station we know today was conceived in 1936. A flood in April of that year would destroy that station and a new headquarters station was started in Newington on seven acres of land. Construction was completed in 1938 and with a new call sign W1AW, the formal dedication took place in September 1938 on Hiram Percy Maxim's birthday.

Since that day, generations of hams have experienced the thrill of a first contact with W1AW.

I even made the pilgrimage to 225 Main Street, Newington, CT back in 1985 in my classic gold Cougar, aka The Love Mobile. I'm not sure how it got that name, maybe because I always kept pillows handy in the spacious back seat ! 

The 700 mile journey was great fun. I got to tour the famous W1AW, Maxim Memorial Station as well as the main Headquarters building. With a copy of my amateur license in hand I even operated for a while in the afternoon and made over 300 contacts on SSB and RTTY. The RTTY was sent with a then state-of-the-art HAL Keyboard and dedicated terminal. No computer operations at that time.

I have an album of pictures from my visit and I'm hunting for an old video tape that tours the ARRL and W1AW. Maybe we'll use it for a future club program sometime. I'll be sure to bring along the photo album. A few are shown below.

Back in 2001, the League website revisited W1AW which included a little history and what's currently going on at the famous amateur station. Click Here to read that story.

If you're up that way I would encourage you to stop by and pay your respects. I really enjoyed my short time there which included a full tour of the headquarters building as well. Make sure you time it to spend a little time at one of the now three quest operating stations and experience what it's like to be on the other end of a pile up !

No matter what your views of the League are, a trip to ARRL Headquarters is a great way to support the goals of the League in its fight to maintain the Amateur Radio Service as it is organized today.

In December 1915, each member of the newly formed League received in his mail a 16 page magazine called QST -- "the December Radio Relay Bulletin."  Its stated object was "to maintain the organization of the American Radio Relay League and to keep the amateur wireless operators of the country in constant touch with each other."

Today, W1AW continues to provide the service that was the basis for the ARRL's founding nearly 90 years ago. 

The famous N8ATZ Crusin Cougar of 1984. What a great year !

 

Ready for a trip to W1AW complete with several radio's. A Kenwood TS-130 for HF, a KDK for VHF, hand helds for 220 and 440 and a Fox scanner. All on a custom built carpet covered passenger operating table.

 

Welcome to W1AW !


The Grand Old Days of Kit building

by Terry Russ - N8ATZ

   (Jan 4, 2004) -- Among the many purchases brought back from last years Dayton Hamvention, several of us picked up a Ramsey Doppler Direction Finder Kit. While not a Heathkit, this formidable project uses current CMOS technology and a large LED bearing indicator to assist in locating hidden transmitters. The kit is complete with everything needed to setup a fully functional Doppler Direction Finding System including four magnetic mount antennas. 

After sitting unopened in the box for seven months, my first New Years Resolution was to finally assemble this kit in preparation of the 2004 fox hunting season. I decided this might make a good short story for the website and give some of you first time kit builders an idea of how to prepare.

The first item in assembling any kit is setup and preparation. This is an essential part of any kit building experience and should be done before any of the plastic parts bags are opened.

Gone are the days when my eagle eyes could easily assemble the most complex 10,000 part kit in my dimly lit hamshack operating table. Since Lynnette's son Christopher has decided to make his own way in the world, I quickly reclaimed the spare bedroom and have converted part of it into my new project workroom. Two immediate problems surfaced, one was an empty room with no worktable and two, only a single 60 watt ceiling light to see by. Both conditions totally unacceptable. A trip to the local Wal-Mart remedied the workspace problem with the purchase of a new heavy duty eight foot plastic worktable with a light gray top. The light colored surface makes it much easier to see smaller parts.

The second problem disappeared when Lynnette got me a new clamp-on fluorescent light with a built in magnifying glass. She either read my mind or saw my Christmas list ! The light is just exactly what most of us need these days as kits get smaller and our eyes weaker. 

Now we're getting closer to actual assembly. What else do we need ? Some tools and a soldering iron for starters. Some years ago in Dayton I purchased a nice Weller variable wattage soldering iron station that has a built in stand and a moistening sponge. This little gem has a cushioned keep cool grip and is perfect for this type of project. The dampened sponge will help keep the tip clean and helps make perfect solder connection each time. A small coil of 60/40 rosen core solder placed on my homemade de-spooler is kept close and we are almost ready. 

Time to decide on the tools needed for this kit. The Ramsey instructions call for only small needle nose pliers and a pair of diagonal cutters. I must own about five pairs of both these items. Like a serious sport fisherman carefully selects his favorite fishing lure, I chose my 3 inch jaw needle nose and small spring loaded cutters. A few assorted screwdrivers will eventually be needed to assemble the board into the case but we don't need to clutter up the work surface with these just yet.

After years of using whatever moderately heave object In could find to steady the circuit boards during assembly, I also highly recommend some type of small vice to hold the board during soldering. One with a heavy enough base to hold itself steady and plastic coated jaws to minimize damage to the circuit board.

Remember, kit building is as much about assembly as it is using it afterward. A few extra tools and accessories will really help make it a fun experience and not just a means to an end. Finally I would also suggest a small role of desoldering braid for the just in case and a good shop rag.

Now that the tools are ready, what's next ?

Before we open up the parts bags lets think about what the bulk of the kit is comprised of. Lots and lots of very tiny parts. The instructions indicate the kit has 48 resistors, 52 capacitors and inductors, 44 semiconductors and integrated circuits and about 30 other miscellaneous parts. For some strange reason many present day kit manufacturers don't package all similar parts in the same bag, meaning in order to inventory all the parts you have to literally empty out all the bags. This means 174 parts scattered about over the work table ! Not a good idea. 

Experience has taught me a few tricks over the years to handle this type of problem and the solution can be really cheap. Head for the refrigerator and look for the egg carton. This handy container has 12 small individual compartments just right for separating some of the smaller components. Still have eggs in it ? Make a few omelets. Small plastic multi compartment boxes work well also. I also like foam. That's right. those small blocks that come in new products to protect it from damage. I always keep some around. It works great for holding small parts by the leads. 

Speaking of small parts, time for a tech lesson. Most of the capacitors, inductors, IC's and the like have part numbers or values printed right on them making it easy to identify the part when called for. Except resistors. All they have are narrow colored bands around them. Now think back to your old high school 
electronic shop days or maybe even the old college days. We learned in component 101 that the colored bands on resistors identified the value and tolerance ratings. My shop teacher as well as my college instructor both were characters so we learned the color code by memorizing a rather sexist poem to make it a bit easier. Hey, it was a perfect way to teach a sixteen year old the color code ! I can still remember it to this day. 

If you skipped that class you can go to almost any ARRL Handbook for a chart of the color code. Radio Shack still carries a pocket size guide that uses a color wheel to locate the value. I still like my old poem. What ever method you choose, consider writing down the value to find it easier later on during assembly. If all else fails, Ramsey gives you both the resistor value and it's color code in each assembly step. Finally, I like a book stand to hold the instructions at a nice angle for easy viewing and to minimize glare.

What's left before starting assembly ? Make sure you begin when you have plenty of time available because time passes quickly when you begin stuffing parts onto the board. The instructions state this is about a three evening kit. That probably didn't count the evening I spent just getting everything ready.

Time to grab a beverage and maybe a munchie, pull up the chair, fire up the magnifier and soldering iron and lets get started.

Next month, the actual assembly begins.

73's for now.

Terry - N8ATZ


The Grand Old Days of Kit building Part 2

by Terry Russ - N8ATZ

    (Feb 22, 2004) -- Since I posted Part 1 of this story, I started assembly of the main circuit board and the four antenna boards which called for surface mounting the components. 

If you missed part 1 of the story, you can check it out using the link above. 

I'm glad to report so far so good, no major problems or catastrophe's and no soldering bridges thanks to good preparation and the right tools. 

Assembly began with the main board which contains the majority of the kit's components. It is all pretty straight forward thanks to Ramsey's easy to follow assembly instructions which takes you through each of the kit's primary circuits and explains a bit of circuit theory along the way. Most of the components are easy to install and solder in place.

Here are a few tips that you might find helpful should you decide to build one for yourself but they can apply to any kit. Resistors are pretty burly little components designed to take and dissipate heat. They are not likely to break simply by bending the leads for placement into the PC board. Other components however are not so forgiving. 

Prebend the leads of diodes, Inductors and especially the ceramic capacitors by holding the lead close to the body with needle nose pliers and bending the remainder of the lead by hand. This technique will keep stress from the component lead from fracturing at the main body.

Most all the components are pretty tolerant to the heat from soldering. Semi-conductors are a little touchy but if you use the right wattage iron and don't apply the heat all day, you should make a good connection without doing any damage to the part. I like to apply the heat by placing the iron tip against both the component lead and the circuit board trace. This evenly heats the joint and apply solder from the opposite side. When the connection gets hot enough to melt the solder, it will fill around the connection and make a good joint. Do not just heat the component lead. This will create a cold solder joint. While this may work for a while, they will ultimately fail down the road. The DDF-1 Kit has a double sided board (circuits on both sides), with the holes plated through to both sides of the connection. This is the sign of a better quality board. I've assembled boards that weren't this way which required soldering both sides of the connection. This means more heat and greater chance of failure.

There are ten multipin Integrated Circuits (IC's) that must be soldered in place. While I like sockets for these types of components, Ramsey doesn't recommend them for this kit. While they do permit easy replacement when necessary, over time they will tarnish are cause connection problems. Patience and a steady hand are needed to solder them in place and I always take my time with them. It doesn't take much to bridge solder between the legs of the part. Orientation is critical also but the instructions and a full size pictorial drawing makes this almost impossible to do wrong.

The last major assembly of the main board involves installing the sixteen positioning LED's to the board. The LED's are polarized so proper orientation is necessary. The instructions go to great length to describe how they are to be installed so that the case will fit afterward. I found that suspending the case slightly off the worktable allowed the LED's to project through the case. With all LED's installed and double checking for the correct polarity, I soldered only one side around the entire bank. This allowed me to make sure they were still aligned and make any adjustments necessary. I sniped off the excess leads and soldered the remaining leads to the board.

All told I spent about three evenings or about six hours on the main board. I could have finished a bit earlier but remember I said that building the kit is part of the overall enjoyment, no need to rush it ! One additional evening was spent on assembling the antenna mounting boards. This includes the antenna interface board and the four main antenna boards.  

The antenna interface board accomplishes the solid state switching between each antenna. Because the board will operate at RF frequencies (i.e. short component lead length, coax cable connections) are critical. Remember this is a direction finding kit, any loss in signal due to poor assembly here will make it less sensitive when looking for the elusive fox. To help with this process, Ramsey opted for a "surface mount" procedure to install the remaining components. This means components are mounted on the trace side of the board. Component lead length need to be as short as possible, soldered to the surface trace and trimmed.

Master wood craftsman Norm Abrams has special homemade fixtures he uses to make it easy to build the many projects he does, we amateur builders have a few also. 

This picture shows my makeshift component hold device to secure surface mount components to the board. Not quite like having a third hand to hold the components but it works. Other components can be held by tape in place while soldering. Use your fingernail to compress each lead against the board close to the body.

The final installment covers the assembly of the antenna boards to the interface board. This involves careful preparation of the tiny RG-174 coax cable and looks like it may take a while. We'll finish this and the remaining final assembly on our next installment.

 

73's For Now
De N8ATZ


The Grand Old Days of Kit building Part 3

by Terry Russ - N8ATZ

(Mar 6, 2004) -- Our third installment will cover what ended up as the toughest portion of the entire kit, the preparation of the RG-174 cable that connects the antenna mount circuit boards to the antenna interface board. All that is necessary is to prepare four 13 inch pieces of the cable and install them on the boards. Sounds easy right ? 

With a good steady hand I began to prepare the cable assemblies that would connect the four individual antennas to the interface board. After cutting the cable into 4 - 13 inch pieces I had to CAREFULLY prepare each end with a 1/4 inch section of tinned braid and a 1/4 inch piece of the center conductor. I found that even my smallest wire strippers didn't do a very good job of stripping the outer jacket without cutting the braided section. I found it was necessary to do it all by hand with my very sharp hobby knife. After they were all prepared you have to solder the braid section to a very tiny surface pad on the board. The same had to be done with the center conductor. I found that too much heat and the inner jacket would short with the outer braid. It took several tries to get it right.

Preparing the cables took about 5 hours to complete. A few minor repairs were necessary when I discovered a few shorts in the cables thanks to a few braid strands. Small scrap resistor leads are used to wrap around the braid section and are soldered to the board. This helped to insure a good ground and also helps to hold the cable in place. 

I would recommend leaving lots of time to complete this portion of the kit. Any solder bridges here or wiring mishaps will cause the unit to malfunction and will be hard to repair later. 

Once this part was completed it was time to assemble the four copper clad steel antenna rods. This requires soldering the antenna rods into short steel standoff's. Sounds simple enough until you discover the dissimilar materials won't solder worth a hoot !.

Time to break out the torch. In my well ventilated garage I clamped the standoff into the workbench vise, and applied some solder paste around the solder connection. Next problem - the diameter of the hole in the standoff was way bigger than the antenna rod. While looks aren't that important here, I at least wanted the antennas to be somewhat straight. 

I was finally able to hold them using an old clamp stand I don't use much anymore. This picture shows the clamp placement.  Using the torch to heat up the antenna rod and standoff, I fed solder into the opening and hoped for the best. After several attempts to find the best heat to solder flow ratio I was finally satisfied with the results. While not my best work, the antennas are solid and fairly straight. My friend Don - W8DEF found some nice telescopic antennas that will eventually be used here but we are still looking for the right hardware to mount the antennas to the boards.

The next assembly is to find some 5 conductor cable that connects through a DB9 connector to the antenna interface board. This isn't supplied with the kit and must be purchased separately. Cable type isn't critical, I bought some six conductor telephone wire at Radio Shack that works well. Cut enough wire to reach from the interface board to the main unit. Thanks again to my bench vise clamps it was a simple task to solder the leads to the DB9 connector. One minor problem with the kit, the DB9 connector didn't come with the hood cover that is normally used here. I found out why when I installed a cover over the connector, doing so will not allow the connector to be installed into the main enclosure. The cutout provided in the case is simply to small. Since this connection will always be inside the car and protected I may leave it as is. It looks unfinished without a cover but maybe I'll think of something.

The other end of this cable is soldered to surface pads on the interface board. Pads one to four are for the antennas, pad 5 is ground. The instructions state that special care is needed to insure that the antennas sequence in the correct order for proper operation of the unit. Since the telephone cable is made up of colored pairs, just make note of what color is used for pin 1 and connect this to antenna one on the board. This part was easy, no braided wire to worry about !.

Lastly you will need to supply a length of RG58 cable that connects the antenna interface board to your radio. Radio Shack sells coax with a nice copper braid that solders well to the board. The connections are a really tight fit to small pads on the board. Take your time here and don't rush. I spent over a half hour just preparing the cable end for connection to the board. Use a cut resistor lead to help secure the cable and help make a better ground connection as is recommended by Ramsey. I'm still a little worried about all the stress that will be present on this connection. When I finish and place a plastic cover over this board, I'm going to try to provide some additional strain relief at this point probably with some silicone sealer. The cover provided by Ramsey didn't completely cover some of my solder connections. A larger diameter plastic cap is needed but I'll have to find one around the house somewhere.

The last official connection is to install a PL259 connector to the other end of the RG58 cable. I cut my cable to about 15 feet in length. This should allow me plenty of space to mount the unit in the center of the dash during fox hunts.

Some initial tests showed that the small flat magnets supplied for the four antennas didn't hold very well at moderate highway speeds. Short of taping them down to the car roof, I'm going to look into some beefier magnets to use here. I think Radio Shack still carries some hobby magnets that may work for this. 

This completes the basic construction of the unit. The last article in this series will cover initial testing, final setup and calibration and a road test. 

73's till then.

De Terry - N8ATZ


The Grand Old Days of Kit Building - Part 4

by Terry Russ - N8ATZ

(Apr 4, 2004) -- Between setting up a suitable workspace, gathering the necessary tools and spending about two hours per session assembling the DDF 1 Direction Finding Kit, within 3 weeks the entire kit has been assembled along with performing some preliminary tests prior to conducting the always gut wrenching "Smoke Test". 

While it survived the initial tests, as normally happens during the completion of a kit some construction aspects went according to plan and some required creative thinking in order to complete the required steps. All in all I was pleased with the kit and for the most part had a great time building it.

There are 2 1/2 pages of initial testing that you should do and since this is a learning project as well I encourage you to follow them as best as you can. I did check for any dead shorts between power and ground and applied power to the unit. This is called the "Smoke Test" for us old timers. I am pleased to report no smoke appeared and voltage checks agreed with the manual.

The manual states that full functional testing requires the use of a DC voltmeter, a frequency counter, oscilloscope and an audio generator none of which is mentioned by Ramsey. You will only find this out once you have purchased the kit. I have everything mentioned except the audio generator, but I have repaired and tuned up many a radio without the recommended test equipment. How much different can this project be?

The functional test requires an oscilloscope which is used to verify the output of the clock oscillator. The unit should output a square wave with an amplitude of 5 Volts and a period of 125 ms (8Khz). My unit was pretty close as shown by the picture. No need for exact values here, I'm just glad to see a square wave pattern. At least I know that the oscillator is working. Testing the signal level indicators, direction indicators and calibration controls requires the use of an audio generator set to inject a 500 Hz sine wave with an amplitude of 1 V P-P into the receiver audio input jack. Since I didn't have the generator I decided to skip this step for now. If everything else checks out this can be done during actual field testing of the unit.

The Antenna Switcher testing is next and also turned out to be the most crucial and confusing aspect of the whole project. Must have been true because this is where I had my first problem. This is a critical area as the antennas must turn on in sequence to emulate an antenna spinning in a circular pattern for the Doppler DDF unit to operate properly. A single antenna turned on out of sequence is enough to produce a bogus RDF reading. 

Verifying proper operation requires only a DC voltmeter. Before we continue the instructions will tell you there is a correction that effects the proper operation of the kit. The screened enclosure label has been printed incorrectly. The Scan Switch is labeled backwards. The STOP Mode is actually RUN and vice-versa. To correct this I broke out my handy dandy labeler and printed up small replacement labels to overlay the original label. Not exactly factory but it didn't turn out to bad.

Back to the voltage checks. With the antenna's connected to the unit by means of the DB9 connector, hook up the voltmeter with one lead to ground and the other connected to pin 1 of the connector. RUN and STOP the scan switch until the voltage on pin 1 reads +5 volts. Pins 2,3 & 4 should all read zero volts. This may take several attempts to find voltage on pin 1. When you have it, pin 1 is now the antenna enable signal for antenna 1. Follow this wire color to the corresponding mag mount antenna and mark this as Antenna 1. During my antenna testing the voltage on pin 1 only rose to +1.5 volts, way short of the +5 volts indicated. The other pins did however read zero volts as required.

Move the voltmeter lead to DB9 pin 2 and open and close the scan switch again until the voltage on pin 2 reads +5 volts. Pins 1,3 & 4 should be zero volts. Pin 2 is the antenna enable signal for antenna 2 and should be positioned to the right of antenna 1 as viewed from the center of the antennas for a clockwise spin. Continue on for pin 3 (antenna 3) and pin 4 (antenna 4). 

My setup went according to the instructions except for the low voltage on the active antennas. I decided to consult Ramsey about this difference. Email seemed to work best and tech support is available at techsupport@ ramseymail.com. Within a day Scott from Ramsey had replied to my question indicating the +1.5 volts was acceptable. It may have been caused by the low tolerance of some of the kits components and the long cable length I used between the antennas and the main unit. 

The instructions have one additional test for the proper RF operation of the antennas. Since the other tests were successful and this test somewhat duplicated the previous antenna testing I elected to skip it. If you are totally unfamiliar with this type of setup however I would encourage you to complete the test.

The reminder of the instructions detail on road operational tests. Since we have several Fox transmitters available in the area I completed this portion of the tests with the help of my fellow ham buddy Don Finley - W8DEF. While the initial tests seemed OK with the Fox transmitter close we quickly found out the unit was pointing almost 180 Degrees away from the transmitter during road tests. Not to good for a direction finder! I could correct this by using the calibrate control but then the unit would read incorrectly on the next reading. I was pretty satisfied that I had wired the unit main board correctly but remembered some minor problems when checking the Antenna Switcher setup.

Since I had a quick response from Ramsey Technical Support I decided to email them again for advise on this new problem. Again within a day Scott had responded. Apparently, despite my best efforts I had not correctly completed the Antenna Switcher voltage checks. Ramsey indicated the problem was the antennas were out of sequence and by reversing the wiring on pins 2 and 4 of the DB9 connector this should correct the problem. I switched the wires on the connector and repeated the road tests. Sure enough after initially setting the calibration control with the transmitter directly in front of the unit, it correctly displayed the fox location on the LED display as Don and I moved the fox transmitter around the car. 

It was finally time to close-up the case. If you haven't yet installed the adhesive overlay to the case top go ahead and install it at this time. Be careful, the adhesive is very strong. Once positioned it will be nearly impossible to remove without ruining it. Take your time, start at the bottom and smooth it out as you work your way to the case top. Ramsey included 3 press fit knobs for the three controls but I could not get them to fit. The holes in the knobs were simply too small. I could have reamed them a bit larger with a drill bit but a trip to my junk box yielded slightly larger ones that fit fine. I suppose you wouldn't have even needed knobs here but I always liked a more finished look to my kits. Radio Shack still carries knobs that would have worked fine for a few dollars.

With additional help from Don, we have completed several road tests of the unit with satisfactory results. The unit has correctly pointed the direction of the Fox during each run even with very little signal. I have discovered the unit does get a little confused as signals bounce around buildings, hills, etc. The Damping Control is intended to compensate for some of this but I'm not sure it works all that well. The best method was to continue driving in the last known direction given on the display until you again get a solid direction reading.

Selecting the best audio level for the unit is a matter of adjusting the actual radio volume while a signal is being received. Adjust the DF Audio level control until the two audio level LED indicators are off. The unit directions state to never trust a bearing indicator if either LED is lit. Adjust the volume on your radio and the RDF unit until this is achieved. The units internal speaker allows you to hear the Fox transmitter along with the Doppler tone. The tone will change as the car moves about. The tone will sound like a pure, undistorted 500 Hz sine wave when the transmitter is not being reflected about. The tone will sound raspy and distorted during these times and the bearing LED's will jump around randomly until it receives a solid signal. The unit should then give you a pretty solid bearing.

While it won't compete with the very expensive Doppler Units, I'm impressed with the general accuracy of the unit so far. I'll know better when we begin conducting Fox hunts again this spring. I had lots of fun and a little frustration assembling this kit but all in all I think it was worth the money. Several other club members are also putting the final touches on their units and should be ready for road tests soon.

Fox hunts are going to be a little easier for all of us this year and for those knuckle heads who like to interfere with the area repeaters, we're gonna getcha !

73's

Terry - N8ATZ


MARC Spotlighted in OSJ

  (Dec 2, 2003) -- The Winter 2003 Edition of the Ohio Section Journal (OSJ) features several items spotlighting the MARC and its members.

Under Assistant Manager news, we received very nice kudo's from both Southeast ASM Connie Hamilton - N8IO and Northeast ASM Robert Winston - W2THU. Connie attended out Hamfest Banquet and both visited our October Hamfest and had a very enjoyable time.

Ohio Section News included a great picture taken at our banquet celebrating our 75th Anniversary and was well attended by club members and ARRL leadership. Both Section Manager Joe Phillips - K8QOE and Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver - K8JE joined us for the evening and then attended the hamfest on Sunday.

Club member Terry Russ - N8ATZ was also included in the OHJ with his story covering his view of the 2003 ARRL Great Lakes Convention including his induction into the Royal Order of Wouff Hong along with Don Finley - W8DEF.

A special thanks to both the ARRL and the Ohio Section Journal for this special recognition !

Use the link below to download and print out your own copy from the MASER website. 2003 Winter Ohio Section Journal.  


Club Member Visits Ten-Tec

   (Aug 16, 2003) -- During my recent vacation I again had the opportunity to visit Ten-Tec, the last American manufacturer of Amateur Radio equipment. One of the friendliest places you'll ever visit, from the minute you step in the lobby you will feel right at home. And if you are in the mood to operate, their guest radio room, although not exceptional, always has a selection of their finest current equipment set up and ready.

The folks at Ten-Tec are always eager to show off the place and were glad to give me a short tour of the factory. Jack Burchfield, K4JU, the current company President conducted our tour which included the many segments of company operation including engineering & design as well as their in-house printed circuit board manufacturing, plastics molding, sheet metal fabrication & finishing and electronic assembly & testing. All this as well as the ability to produce their own tooling in a well equipped tool and die shop. They are literally able to completely fabricate their radio equipment start to finish all in house. Only a handful of very specialized components are purchased from outside sources.

They are currently working on building up the new Argonaut V, a return of the legendary QRP transceiver. The current model sports IF-DSP and runs 20 watts.

They will again be hosting their 4th Annual Ten-Tec Homecoming Hamfest this year on Friday & Saturday, October 3-4. Events include factory tours, discounts on new & used equipment, on-air demonstrations of their newest equipment, door prizes, technical forums and of course a growing flea market in the parking lot. I visited this event about two years ago and it was a blast. I highly recommend it if you can get away this fall. Anybody up for a road trip !

Jack is very familiar with our club as we have been a strong supporter of Ten-Tec equipment at many of our previous club hamfests and we are considering the new Argonaut as a main prize for this years event. Jack has promised to provide us with a newly available video they offer that talks about Ten-Tec and includes clips from factory tours. This should make a great future club program.

Always with camera in hand, I took a few pictures of both the lobby and the factory during my visit that are posted below.  Want to learn more about Ten-Tec ? Check out their website at http://www.tentec.com.   

73's De Terry - N8ATZ

 

The lobby area as you enter the front door. Lots of stuff on display and look at all the old egg shell cases selling out.

The main display case. Currently chock full of cases on sale cheap ! I came home with a few that will find a project someday !

Ten-Tec's Radio History display. Some radios that date back to day one. How many do you recognize ? They are currently looking for a Ten-Tec Triton 4 Series to set on display. Anyone have one to donate ?

The newest radio in the Ten-Tec line-up, the Orion complete with Linear Amp. What a dream station if you have the loot ! I operated here for about a half hour, the radio takes a bit to learn !

Custom manufacturing is part of Tec-Tec's history. This operator is finishing the band module case used for the Scout transceiver. Even though no longer a current production item, spare parts will be made for years to come.

Custom Cabinets are produced on a daily basis. These are for a commercial job running the day of my visit. They also do all their own silk-screening in house on the left.

The left side shows one of the equipment assembly tables. Much of it still all by hand. The right side is partially assembled Tuners.

Another assembly area showing Orion parts in various stages of assembly.

President Jack Burchfield shows off their latest - the Argonaut V. A super little QRP Radio and one that I hope will one day sit in my shack !

Orders are hot & heavy for two radios right now. The Orion and the new Argonaut. The top shelf shows about 30 completed Argonauts ready to go to final testing.

One of several tune up benches currently finishing up an Orion Rig. Boy would I like to have some of this equipment on my bench !


Great Lakes Director Visits Club

    (Aug 3, 2003) -- After being forced to cancel his May visit to the MARC, ARRL Great Lakes Director Jim Weaver - K8JE visited the club as our guest for our August meeting and covered several area's of interest to the members and guests in attendance. 

Jim began by explaining his introduction into ham radio and his goals during his term in office one of which is to do a better job of informing the members in the Great Lakes Division of current topics affecting our hobby and those items on the ARRL's agenda. One way he has already done this is by issuing via email a monthly Director's newsletter called "Weavers Words", that is sent to all League members. We hope to include these newsletters on this website in the near future and incorporate them in our monthly newsletter. One very important item on Jim's agenda is the great concern over Antenna Height Restrictions that affect our ability to communicate effectively. Jim also spoke on the League's recent success of our 40 meter band which will greatly reduce the commercial radio services that have plagued amateurs for years.

Jim also tried to explain why League membership dues are so high. The main reason, Jim stated is to maintain the existence of a viable lobbying organization to promote and help maintain the frequencies and privileges that we currently enjoy. 

Finally, Jim covered several short subjects including the League's idea of establishing new band plans on the amateur frequencies based on the actual bandwidth used for the various modes. Jim believes there is some merit to the idea but believes all league members should have a say in the proposal.

The program was concluded by a short Question & Answer session.

The MARC gratefully thanked Jim for taking the time to come and visit us and we hope Jim will be able to stop by and staff the ARRL table at our hamfest this October.


MARC In Memorial Day Parade 

  (May 27, 2003) --   On Monday, May 26th several members of the Massillon ARC celebrated Memorial Day both by participating in the annual Memorial Day parade and in a special memorial service held at Massillon Cemetery.

As the annual Memorial Day parade stepped off, the club's Emergency Communications Trailer, ECOMM 1, took its place in the parade adorned with official flags honoring all branches of the U.S. Armed Services. Banners noting the contribution amateurs make in the Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS), also were proudly displayed on the trailer. 

Several club members retired from military service also participated by riding along in the parade. They were current Vice-President Master Sergeant James Farriss - WA8GXM of the United States Air Force, Senior Chief Petty Officer Perry Ballinger - W8AU of the United States Navy and Petty Officer 3rd Class Don Wade - W8DEA also of the Navy. Don is also currently a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol.

The Rev Leslie A. Peine - K8CP also took part in the morning services. Pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Massillon, Les spoke at services held at Massillon Cemetery immediately after the parade. Les was Commissioned an Air Force line officer in March 1968 and a Chaplain in July 1977. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in the grade of Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel having served 22 1/2 years on active duty and five years in the Reserves.

Also involved in the day's events was club member Saundra Becker - N8TZB representing the American Red Cross, Western Stark Chapter who took part in the parade by driving the chapters newest response vehicle.

Other members who assisted in the parade were Terry - N8ATZ, Don - W8DEF and XYL Linda - K8MOO and driver  Gary Kline - WC8W.

Click Here to see some pictures taken during the parade.


The Search for the Elusive Fox !

   (May 5, 2003) -- Having participated now in several club sponsored "Fox Hunts" and having suffered the humiliation of not yet being the first to find it, I can still say I'm having a better time at this club event than I've had in quite a while. The reason ? Simple - Fox Hunts are fun !. 

Very little equipment is required to join in the fun. Lets see, a hand held, a rubber duck and maybe a very simple directional antenna and that will just about do it. Like any aspect of the hobby, you can add expense to the activity with sophisticated direction finding systems, Doppler analyzers, RF Sniffers and the like but its an activity mostly based on skill which is probably why I haven't been the first to find the elusive fox yet. Remember, if at first you don't succeed - try a different antenna !.

I've also discovered that everyone has there own approach to Fox Hunting. In our case we normally start off from the Club Shack at the Senior Center together and from there everyone scatters. A mobile radio does come in very handy initially as the rigs S-meter will give you a relative signal strength reading. Since we have established Massillon as boundaries for the fox hunt, this means it may be hiding anywhere North, South, East or West of the Center. Only four choices, sounds easy right ? Not exactly. So how to decide which way to start off ? If you have a directional antenna, now's the time to use it. These can be a little difficult to use from the car though. I constructed a small circular two meter loop out of a broomstick handle and about three feet of No. 12 solid building wire. It's not much to look at but it does work. The best it will do is show a very slight difference in signal strength by standing in place and rotating slowly in a circle. With any luck you will see this difference on the S-Meter and get a direction to head for. Now its off to the races. If you picked the right direction the signal will get stronger as you get closer to the fox. Consider stopping and using the directional antenna again to take a bearing. Are you still going in the right direction. Again with any luck you will continue to get closer and pick up stronger signals. Terrain, buildings, etc can deflect the signal and head you in the wrong direction also. Hey, who said it was supposed to be easy ?

Now the tough part. Once you get close the mobile radio is no longer useful. You're getting a full signal, which way do we go now ? Time to switch to the trusty hand held. Using just my HT and the circular loop hopefully the signal won't be full scale and I can get a bearing. Attenuating the signal will help if the signal is full scale. This can be done several ways. You could use a commercial attenuator if you have one. You can find them at hamfests or building one. I have an old one that will provide almost 100 db of attenuation. It's a bit heavy and clunky to use but it does work. Another way is to just partially disconnect the HT antenna. 

Again with a little luck you've narrowed the search to one end of town. Now what ? At this point I'm probably using just my HT and have started searching on foot. One trick I've learned from other Fox Hunters is that you can use your body to shield the radio. This may also point you in the right direction, or maybe not. Or you might try my favorite tactic - any other fox hunters around ? You might be close or they are just as lost !

A whole different strategy is required when you get this close. A directional antenna in combination with an attenuator is the best bet. Other fox hunters are using any number of methods, RF sniffers, portable frequency counters (these will work if you get within a few feet of the transmitter), field strength meters, you name it. Remember the fun is in the search, try different methods. Keep your eyes open for a likely hiding spot. We never leave the "Fox" in plain sight, what fun would that be !

In the end it will probably be a combination of skill and pure luck that finds the fox. Traditionally the "Fox Finder" gets to be the "Fox Hider" next hunt. Maybe some time I'll get to hide it. I'm always looking for that perfect hiding spot. Until then however I'll keep looking and having a great time in the process !  de Terry - N8ATZ.


MARC Celebrates 75th Anniversary 

(September Update) The club officially celebrated our Silver Anniversary by holding a pizza party in conjunction with our October club meeting. Travel schedules did not permit any ARRL visitors but Section Manager Joe Phillips - K8QOE expressed his personal congratulations at this great achievement. A special 75th Anniversary Certificate was shown to the membership that will be on display at the Hamfest before being permanently displayed at the club hamshack.  Pizza was provided by South Erie Pizza and included at lease seven different varieties. The Special Event station was also in full swing during the meeting and we will have a full wrap up report at the November meeting. Special Event Certificates are currently being designed by member Perry - W8AU and should be ready by meeting night. 

 Some Memories of our 75th Party

 

The crowd gathers for Pizza !


Birthday Boy Terry - N8ATZ (L) with Steve - WD8MIJ and Terry's xyl Lynnette


Big Ed - WA8DRT (C) with Big John - K8LBZ (R) and xyl Janet 


Club President Gene - W8KXR and xyl Marylin


Founding member Thomas Berbari - W8GBJ (L) - with Ed - W8PUC and Don - W8DEF


SUPER CLUB MEETING WELL RECEIVED

The joint area Multi-Club Meeting was held on Wednesday, March 27th. with 85 area amateurs attending this first of a kind amateur gathering. The meeting began with opening remarks from Canton ARC President Mike Robinson - KI0DE, who thanked everyone for attending the joint meeting. Gene Beckwith - W8KXR, President of the MARC, pictured above, gave a fine account of the clubs "active lifestyle", noting the many club activities we are active in.  Six amateur radio clubs or organizations were represented over the evening, each giving a short report on current club activities and other items of interest. David Beltz - WD8AYE, Stark Co ARES Emergency Coordinator with Terry Russ - N8ATZ, Assistant EC, reported on the renewed commitment of area amateurs involved in community service and also took the opportunity to register Stark County amateurs with ARES, a function that hasn't been updated in nearly 15 years

Mike Robinson then introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, Ohio Section Manager Joe Philips - K8QOE. Joe's topic for the evening was "The Future Of Amateur Radio". Joe stated that Amateur Radio had experienced a period of "negative growth" during the 1990's, for various reasons and that he believes that since the Y2K concerns, our hobby has received a much needed "jump start" as numerous public service agencies began to investigate alternate means to maintain communications. Then in September of last year, the hobby was once again called upon to help establish order after the chaos of 911. Joe believes that the development of "Homeland Security" will once again bring our hobby back to the forefront of the communications world. This will no doubt bring about the resurgence we have been looking for, bringing many new hams to our hobby. It's still a passion, and its back stronger than ever.

The meeting concluded about 9:00 PM with several drawings and refreshments being served. Mr. Marvin Secrest of M & K Engraving was also in attendance providing name badges and accessories to those present.

ARES also registered 25 hams, well on our way to re-registering a new corps of ARES registered volunteers. The overall success of the multiclub meeting prompted organizers to consider making this an annual event. A special thank you to the following clubs for attending this years event, The Alliance ARC, The Massillon ARC, QCWA Chapter 21, The Tusco ARC, The Canton ARC and the Pioneer Amateur Radio Fellowship.



MARC Spotlights Jim Farriss - WA8GXM


    After an unfortunate spring thunderstorm blew over the radio tower of club member Jim Farriss - WA8GXM for the second time, most people would decide fate had spoken and just pay attention. Jim however is not your average ham. You might think he would just settle for something a little lower - wrong. When faced with tough odds Jim went looking for something a little stronger. After a season of searching Jim came across something called an Aeromotor Tower. Think of those modest tri-legged monsters that the utility companies use to run high voltage wires over the country side. Now you get the idea !

    With a lot of determination Jim has recently completed both the restoration of the old tower and the installation of the new one. Here's the complete rundown: (you better get a Kleenex ready for the drooling !)

The New North Tower raises nearly 100 feet into the morning sky and its solid, the legs at the base are about 18 feet apart !. It's complement of antennas include a Mosley Classic 36 six element tri - bander for HF work rotated by a very heavy duty ring rotator. In addition there are 2 - 12 element M2 stacked two meter yagi's for SSB operation as well as 4 - 21 element F9 Tonna UHF Yagi's also stacked for weak signal 432 operation. Not bad for starters.

The South Tower is now a modest 80 foot tall that has been dedicated for mostly VHF/UHF antennas. At the top is an 88 element J - Beam designed especially for Amateur Television (ATV) work. Directly below is a 6 element High Gain 6 meter beam antenna. Hanging from a side arm is a dual band vertical for 2 & 440 FM work.

Jim also is a Amateur Satellite enthusiast and has a modest 30 foot tower that sports KLM 2 & 432 beams mounted to dual tracking rotators. A side arm also contains a 6 meter vertical.

All this is resting on a hill that measures out at about 1180 feet elevation making for quite an antenna farm which definitely make this Western Stark Counties "Towers of Power" ! 

Click on any of the pictures below to see Jims very impressive array. The last picture is of Jim's radio shack. This too is pretty impressive and we'll explore it next time !  PS: The little spot on the bottom of the left picture is Jim, told you the tower was tall !

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