Happenings

We all like to hear what other hams are up to, and we'd love for you to share some of the fun projects you've been involved in.  That's what the weekly round table discussion is for, but if you've got something noteworthy you'd like to share here too -- especially if you have pictures -- just email me the information.

Also, news of upcoming events is posted to this page.

Feel free to browse this page any time you happen to be on the site, or, better yet, click the link below to subscribe to its RSS feed* to keep abreast of the happenings of your fellow hams.

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Terminated Folded Dipole

posted Nov 14, 2018, 10:33 AM by Charles Boling

Charles, AD7UF, finally has a new HF antenna to supplement his venerable coax-fed 75M electric fence wire dipole, issued by the Civil Air Patrol, for whom he does radio communications (and was recently appointed commander of our local squadron).

[Advertisement: The Mount Saint Helens Composite Squadron meets at the Kelso airport (SWRA) and has a great bunch of cadets, but we're in desperate need of senior members! It's a great volunteer organization. If you'd like to know more, visit the CAP web site and/or talk to me!]

The antenna, model AT-FD90-800 from Alpha Tech, is a 90ft folded doublet with a big fat terminating resistor.  Having an antenna of another length with a different radiation pattern was a definite need at my place, particularly for 40m, where due to the high impedance and no transformer between the mast and my shack, 100ft of coax ate 99% of my signal.

The resistor is the magic in this antenna, though.  On frequencies where the impedance of the radiating system is high, the resistor absorbs the extra energy, wasting it as heat (bad)  and presenting a reasonable impedance, that is then transformed by a balun to roughly 50 ohms  that the rest of the system likes.  Less than 2:1 VSWR from 2-30 MHz without a tuner.

Contrary to the wild claims you may hear about such antennas, it's not going to miraculously work every frequency better than any other antenna.  It's a "Jack of all trades, master of none".  Its performance below 5 MHz is decidedly inferior to my other wire in most cases where I've tested, but it does quite well around 7 MHz, which used to make my radio huddle in agony and terror.  The real beauty (and the reason that CAP uses them) is that my radio can switch between bands very quickly without stopping to re-tune.  I am now able to operate true ALE, not the "I'm listening but you're only going to reach me on this channel" kind that I've been running for the past couple of years.

The flexibility of being able to jump to a frequency and instantly join a conversation is outstanding.  I've been able to make a lot of contacts that I would've missed with my other antenna because either I couldn't tune it fast enough, or the performance was just too poor for that particular QSO.  Sure it's a compromise antenna; all real-world antennas are compromises.  But when you see an antenna that offers a theoretical 3dB or even 13dB (2-20x) loss over another, realize that the remote station location vs. radiation pattern and the variation in atmospheric propagation, especially, often means received power variations of 1,000,000:1 (60dB) or more.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid of an "antenna for dummies" or other compromise antenna.  Which antenna's going to net you more QSO's: the one that gets used, or the one that doesn't?


PS: I'd include a picture of it, but I neglected to take one before raising it, and what few photos I found online are for older versions and don't do this one justice.  Here's a diagram, though:

T2FD antenna diagram
The page where that drawing came from has a lot more information on this and other antennas used for frequency-agile applications.


SEA-PAC Friday seminar on EmCom/Prep

posted Feb 25, 2018, 7:45 PM by Charles Boling

If you've looked at this year's mailer for SEA-PAC, you surely noticed that one of the all-day Friday seminars is on the topic of Emergency Preparedness.  Since SEA-PAC is still over 3 months away, the exact content of presentations is far from fixed.

Here's your chance for input!  What things would you like to see covered under this umbrella topic?  This is not rhetorical -- we really want to know!  Is there something that you are particularly interested in?  A weak area where you'd like more information? Or is there something you'd like to see preached to others?  Lecture, workshop, forum, whatever the best medium might be, we're interested in hearing from you.

This will be the topic of tonight's round table, but you're invited to share your suggestions any time.  Email Charles (address on "About" page) or otherwise let us know.


'Twas the night before Christmas...

posted Dec 17, 2017, 9:57 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Dec 17, 2017, 10:02 PM ]

If you really like twisted versions of this famous Christmas poem, the last reference (which includes a couple of the others) is part of a larger collection containing 849 versions of the poem.
Here's the main index of the Canonical List.

And here's the video version of the 1st one, posted by the ARRL.

2017 ERC/CARS Xmas Party

posted Nov 7, 2017, 12:23 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Nov 7, 2017, 12:24 PM ]


CARS Annual Meeting 

&

Portland ERC's Early Christmas Party/Potluck Dinner

Saturday November 18th, 6:00pm at the Milwaukie LDS Stake Center

8331 Cason Road, Gladstone OR 97027


Everyone is invited to the Cascade Amateur Radio Society's Annual Meeting 

Joint with the Portland Region ERC's Early Christmas Party/Potluck Dinner.

Bring the Whole Family !!!!! 

There will be Door Prizes

Each person please bring a Crazy (ed.: but tasteful) Gift for The White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Such Gifts don't have to be related to Ham Radio; but nice if they are.


CARS Elections- All of the CARS Officers for 2018 will be elected.

& hear the Portland Region ERC 2017 Update.

For the Potluck you can bring: 

  • A Crock Pot of Soup/Stew    &/or
  • A Salad of some kind             &/or
  • A Dessert


CARS will provide Soup Bowls, Plates, Cups, Utensils, Napkins, Rolls, Butter, & Ice Water.

This event is always a good time to 'Catch Up' with Old Friends and to make new ones.  Put faces to all of those Names & Call Signs you know from Over The Airwaves.

Anyone in the area of the 24 Stakes of The Portland ERC Region are Invited.

North, South, East, or West--- You are all invited.

You don't have to be a member of CARS to attend.

Who knows? Santa might even show up.

Please add this to your Calendar.


Hope to see you there!

Ken Tolliver, K7ICY

Portland Region ECS  & CARS Secretary

Fall ERC Test Canceled

posted Sep 26, 2017, 3:42 PM by Charles Boling

There will be no regional LDS ERC exercise in October. The next one will be in April.

630/2200m bands open!

posted Sep 24, 2017, 10:13 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Sep 24, 2017, 10:13 PM ]

The new 137 kHz & 472 kHz bands are open in less than a month -- and since it requires a 30-day wait after registering to use them...

http://www.amateurradio.com/fcc-opens-630_and_2200-meters-amateur-band-pre-registration-required/

The article mentions that whether or not you plan to transmit on these bands in the near future, filling out the registration form (a link to the web form is in the article) will reserve your ability (and that of other local hams) to use them in the future, theoretically preventing the possibility of any goofy Power Line Communications stuff from cropping up in your neighborhood, and lets the FCC know that you care.

Ham Radio PR Posters

posted Sep 24, 2017, 9:57 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Sep 24, 2017, 9:58 PM ]

The ARRL recently created a set of 6 tabloid-size posters using a "Ham Radio Is..." theme:
  • ...Adventure
  • ...Discovery
  • ...Friendship
  • ...Out of This World
  • ...Ready
  • ...The Game
Nice to have around during BSA merit badge workshops and other PR/recruiting opportunities.
http://www.arrl.org/pr-posters

Wahkiakum article on ham test

posted Jun 28, 2017, 11:37 PM by Charles Boling

It's always nice to see good press for amateur radio and local clubs:
http://www.waheagle.com/story/2017/06/29/wahkiakum-people/four-local-hams-passed-test/13199.html

Late/short Net tonight

posted May 21, 2017, 4:56 PM by Charles Boling

As should have been announced last week, tonight's net will be at 8:45 PM, check-in only, on the .260 repeater.

FRS/GMRS changes

posted May 8, 2017, 10:09 AM by Charles Boling   [ updated May 8, 2017, 10:10 AM ]

The FCC is finally addressing the embarrassment known as FRS/GMRS.  They acknowledge that "many" (uh, well over 95%?) of people who purchase the FRS/GMRS combo "walkie talkies" from consumer stores operate them illegally in GMRS mode (I used to be only one of two people in my ZIP code to actually have a GMRS license; now our numbers have doubled!), and that that horse is already out of the barn and miles down the road.  The FCC further states that it really hasn't caused any problems to licensed GMRS users -- at least not that have been reported.  (I doubt many people have bothered to report interference whose source is not consistent enough to track down.)

The FCC has issued a 114-page "Report and Order" revising many Part 95 (Personal Radio Service) sub-services. The most significant changes, however, pertain to FRS/GMRS.

3 months from whenever the changes are officially released, these changes (and others) will take effect:
  • FRS users may use all 22 FRS/GMRS channels at up to 2 Watts*
  • "Real" GMRS users can also use all 22 of the same channels (no more FRS-only freqs), as well as continuing to use the existing 8 repeater channels.*
  • No combo radios may be sold. Today's combo radios are more restrictive than tomorrow's FRS-only radios will be, with the exception that you might find a rare combo unit that can output 5 Watts.

* Actually, the 7 467 MHz interstitial channels that were previously FRS-only are still limited to 0.5 Watts

The only truly new capability this opens up is 4x the power for unlicensed operation.  The additional channels for FRS users will be nice to them, esp. in urban areas where the spectrum is more crowded, but in rural areas the power increase is definitely the important thing, both to increase range when talking to other FRS users, and to better balance the power when talking to a GMRS base station.*

* I do not believe that the rules have ever contained any prohibition of FRS/GMRS inter-service operation, though I could have missed something.  It does not make a lot of sense to me to prohibit such use on shared frequencies.

This makes FRS a slightly more attractive option for neighborhood EmComm.  With the addition of a licensed GMRS base station operated by the neighborhood communications coordinator, its utility is greatly increased; even with the rugged terrain around my house, I can talk to hand-held users a mile away reliably.

A copy of the FCC's R&O draft can be found at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-344617A1.pdf

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