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Owatonna Steele County Amateur Radio 13-Apr-2017

OSCAR News - September, 27

OSCAR Meeting
The next OSCAR meeting is 08-Sep @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month. Meetings are held at the Happy Chef on US-14 West and I-35.

The next SKYWARN meeting is 18-Sep @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.

Austin Swapmeet
The Austin Swapmeet on 10-Aug was cancelled due to rain. It has been rescheduled for 08-Sep at 10:00 AM. Austin ARC will not have a meeting that morning. It will be in the parking lot of Johnnys' restaurant on north Main St. (across from the Spam Museum).

Emergency Exercise
Steele County is planning a drill in Blooming Prairie on Saturday, 22-Sep. The drill begins at 8:00 AM and scheduled to end at noon. Amateur Radio is being included in the planning of this drill. The plan calls for five portable/mobile VHF stations. This is the first time Amateur Radio is being written into a drill and it would be great to demonstrate our abilities. We appreciate your support. Please contact Tom NUW to indicate your interest or ask questions.

Pictures from Field Day were added, courtesy of Mark WAF.
Dale WBPKG updated the Propagation page.

Tom NUW completed some upgrades on the EOC trailer while it was at the Steele County Free Fair. The radios had struggled with the trailer power converter when the battery was marginal. We added an Astron RS-50 power supply to provide a stable power source. A Rig Runner was added to provide individual fuses for each radio and the wire was upgraded to 12-gauge throughout.

ARES Response
The heavy rains the weekend of 18-Aug brought flooding throughout portions of southern Minnesota. The southeast corner put out a call for ARES assistance from surrounding counties on Sunday 19-Aug. Deuel NSL, Matt KPQW and Tom NUW responded and were assigned to assist other ARES volunteers in Rushford. The group left Owatonna around 3:00 PM and returned about 1:00 AM, spending about 6 hours on site. Matt assisted running a net operation from within Rushford to Winona. Deuel ran communications at a temporary shelter near the flood waters that was being evacuated for higher ground. Tom was assigned to handle communications at the Red Cross shelter on higher ground.

For the "Three Musketeers", it was the first time they participated in an actual communication emergency. Talking on the way home, all felt good about being able to help. The universal concern was battery power for HTs. Due to the long drive, battery packs were able to be charged in the car. A gas station in Byron was emptied of its AA battery supply. Matt recognized the need to have a mag mount and PL-259 to BNC adapter. Deuel indicated the need for a GO-Kit. Tom remembered the need to know how to activate little used features on his radios.

We demonstrated our ability to communicate as part of Field Day. How many of us are really ready with a GO-Kit? A suggested list is included in the ARES section of the OSCAR web site.

ARES Volunteers
When the regional call came for assistance, Tom NUW made several phone calls to individuals he felt would be able and willing. Tom always wonders who might have an interest that he is not aware of. If you have an interest, or know of someone, register your capabilities or please drop Tom an e-mail at the OSCAR address below. Not everyone can respond every time, and that is always understood. The goal is to know what resources might be available before they are needed. Thanks.

Steele County SKYWARN is featured in a posting on the KAAL-TV web site. This is a great example of how Steele County volunteers spring into action.

National Preparedness Month From Various Sources
September is National Preparedness Month. When unexpected natural or man-made emergencies occur, our greatest individual defense is preparedness. The State of Minnesota is challenging all of us to plan today for our safety and well-being in the future. Minnesota launched a statewide initiative designed to help Minnesota residents get organized with personal and family preparedness. codeReady hosts resources to become prepared by making a plan and assembling a kit. Resources for the home are available also available at ready.gov.

When Cell Phones Fail From Cosmic Blog
One of the tag lines for Amateur Radio is "When All Else Fails..." On a regional basis, the collapse of the I-35W bridge certainly hit close to home. The Cosmic Blog is an interesting article on the failure of cell phones during the incident. The idea of using text messages for health and welfare messages certainly is worth remembering. The main suggestion is that when a significant event occurs, text a message rather than trying to make a call.

Extra Class Upgrade
Viking ARS is planning an Extra Class Upgrade session. The session will probably begin in January with a VE session in April. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

D-STAR Digital Radio From AR Newsline
D-STAR and APCO 25 protocols are gaining in popularity as a replacement for analog F-M repeaters. Some question if the relay scheme qualify as a repeater system under FCC rules. Until the FCC makes a ruling, the ARRL is asking coordinators to recognize and accommodate the new technologies. In the ham world, D-STAR is gaining over APCO 25 protocol because of patent license fees. While the P25 platform is public domain, the encoder/decoder requires a fairly steep cost.

White Space Devices From Various Sources
White Space devices operate in the so-called "white spaces" between DTV channels. Fixed devices rely on base stations and satellites to establish that they are operating on vacant channels while the remote-sensing devices do it intuitively and on the fly. The FCC indicated it plans to allow fixed devices in the band subject to testing and other safeguards to make sure the devices do not cause interference to TV reception. It has not yet decided to allow the remote-sensing unlicensed devices.

On July 31, the FCC said that a prototype device built by the White Space Coalition (Google, Microsoft, and other technology companies) doesn't work as promised. The devices submitted by the White Space Coalition were designed to sniff for broadcasts in spectrum before transmitting in the band. The devices do not consistently sense or detect TV broadcast signals and in fact, sometimes could cause interference to TV broadcasts.

HDTV Deadline From Various Sources
Americans do not appear to be getting the message that their TVs may become obsolete in less than 2 years. A poll released in January by the Association for Public Television Stations indicated 61% of respondents had "no idea" the digital transition was going to take place. The result is analog TVs could be useless after February 18, 2009, when broadcasters shut off their analog signals. About 19% of the nation relies on an antenna rather than cable or satellite to receive television signals. Analog TVs would require a decoder box to continue being used to receive over-the-air signals.

The FCC also released a new DTV Table indicating final channel assignments for 1,800 HDTV stations across the country.

Toner Hazard From PC World
Researchers at Australia's Queensland University reported that some laser printers may be a health risk to office and home computer users. They detailed emission measurements of 58 laser printers and ranked them as non-, low-, medium- or high-emitters. HP dominated the high-emitter, accounting for 90 percent of the printers classified as emitting high levels of particulates. A statement by HP said "We do not believe there is a link between printer emissions and any public health risk".

RSQ vs. RST ?? From AR Newsline
Readability - Strength - Quality (RSQ) is being considered a replacement for the traditional RST reporting system. "Tone" is identified as not being suitable for digital signals. "Quality" is supposed to provide a more useful signal report for HF digital modes. It has been endorsed in IARU Region 1 and Region 3. It will be considered for Region 2 during the Region 2 Conference in September.

FCC's ULS and CORES From ARRL Letter
A quirk with the FCC electronic filing systems has been identified. Two FCC computer systems are the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and the Commission Registration System (CORES). Information between the two computer systems is not being exchanged. Information updates in the ULS license database does not find its way into the CORES database. When information needs to be updated in the FCC database, it is important to make the changes in both the ULS and CORES systems. CORES can also be updated by submitting FCC Form 161.

Weather Training Course From ARRL Letter
Karen from the National Weather Service in Chanhassen does a great job presenting SKYWARN training in Steele County. An opportunity to expand your knowledge is being offered by Storm-Prep. The course offers knowledge on learning how to interpret real-time weather data to recognize and prepare for the variety of weather hazards. The course demonstrates how to use the Internet to access and interpret radar imagery, satellite imagery, other weather data, and sky clues. The course takes 6-10 hours to complete and the cost of the CD is $39.
NOTE: We have not seen the course and do not make any evaluations or recommendations.

New Country Prefix From ARRL Contest Rate Sheet
Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted the prefix block E7A-E7Z by the ITU. This replaces the T9A-T9Z block in current use.

Impedance Matching From ARRL Contest Rate Sheet
G3YNH published a collection of articles on the subject of impedance, impedance matching and high-frequency power transmission. The author describes the series of articles as "my attempt at teaching AC theory, electrical materials science, inductance and capacitance; and at using those ideas to make radio stations work."

Propagation Tools From ARRL Contest Rate Sheet
G4ILO offers VOAProp, a free propagation prediction program based on the Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program (VOACAP). VOAProp shows you typical propagation for a given hour of the day during a given month. VOAProp can also display daily point-to-point propagation charts showing the best frequency and time of day for communication with a particular location.

VOACAP is a free professional HF propagation prediction program from NTIA/ITS. The output charts are in an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand format, plus there are excellent graphics.

RF Exposure From AR Newsline
A South Korean study suggests children who live close to an AM radio transmission tower may have an elevated risk of leukemia. Researchers took measurements of electric and magnetic fields surrounding AM transmission towers. Mathematical models were used to estimate residents' exposure to radiation. The results suggest that children who lived within 2 kilometers of an AM radio transmitter were twice as likely to develop lymphocytic leukemia as children who lived more than 20 kilometers away.

Weather Radio Recall From Consumer Product Safety Commission
Oregon Scientific is recalling certain weather radios. The radios could fail to receive National Weather Service alert signals in certain areas of the country. This recall involves the following Weather Radios and Weather Stations sold from December 2005 through June 2007:

  • All Hazards Portable Weather Alert Radio Model# WR103NX
  • Portable Public Alert Radio Model# WR108
  • Public Alert Weather Station Model# WRB308
  • John Deere Public Alert Weather Station Model# WRB308J
To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to: CPSC.

On The BPL Front From AR Newsline
Satellite television provider DirecTV is partnering with the Current Group to offer BPL connections. The service is slated to begin in the Dallas - Fort Worth area by the end of the year. According to the ARRL, Current Group has a good track record in the Cincinnati deployment, without major interference problems for ham operators. The system does not operate below 30 MHz on overhead lines and uses HomePlug technology inside, which notches out the ham bands.