OSCAR News - February, 2ØØ8
Local Meetings and Nets
- The next OSCAR meeting is 09-Feb @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month. Meetings are held at the Happy Chef on US-14 West and I-35.
- The OSCAR weekly net on the 145.490 machine is Sunday nights at 7:30 PM.
- The next SKYWARN meeting is 19-Feb @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.
- Jeff KCØUOW passed a significant milestone of 35 years with his employer.
- Adam KCØWPV achieved certification as an Electronics Technicain.
The first night of the OSCAR Net on Sunday 06-Jan appeared to be a success. There are several nets in the 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM time frame. Several operators seem to move from net to net exchanging information. They are great to listen to, even if you can't get into them:
- 7:00 PM - Austin - 146.730 - 100.0 PLL
- 7:30 PM - Owatonna - 145.490 - no PLL
- 8:00 PM - Alber Lea - 146.880 - 100.0 PLL
OSCAR Technician Class
The OSCAR Techician Class is set to begin on 12-Feb. Current details are posted on the OSCAR Techician Class page. Any updates to the information will be posted there. Questions or pre-registration should be directed to the OSCAR e-mail address.
Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MNVOAD) works to assist people who have been (or may be in the future) affected by disaster. It is comprised of numerous volunteer groups, including ARRL at a national level. The 2008 MNVOAD Training Seminar is scheduled for 16-Feb in New Brighton. The focus is communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. Discussions include response to flooding in SE Minnesota and the I-35W bridge collapse. The seminar brochure and registration form can be downloaded as a
Rochester Technician Class
From Rochester ARC
Rochester is sponsoring a one-day Technician Ham Radio Class. It will held on Saturday 26-Apr from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the American Red Cross Building, 310 14th Street SE, in Rochester, MN. The one day class covers all topics needed to pass the entry level Technician written Element 2 examination. Prospective students should contact class coordinator Bill Osler, at 252-5852 to obtain a book at least 2 weeks prior to the class.
New Amateur Extra Class Question Pool
The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) released the
new pool of questions for the Amateur Extra class license. This pool will become effective for examinations given on or after July 1, 2008, and should be in service until June 30, 2012. The pool consists of 741 questions and 12 graphics
Some updating has occurred in the basement of the Owatonna Fire Station. Dave KCØUVY acquired some console pieces from a dispatch center in the Metro. They are being installed in the ARES and SKYWARN communications room. It is a work in process and the consoles are providing needed extra space and organization.
Last fall, an antenna was donated by Dale WBØPKG and another donated by Tom NØUW. They were installed on the Fire Station by the Fire Department. Planned for in the spring is the installation of a VHF radio donated by Paul WØFEI and creating a packet station donated by Kris KCØREO.
Surplus Console Pieces
There are several console pieces remaining unused. Anyone interested in acquirng one should contact Dave KCØUVY through OSCAR. The console sections are approximately 20-1/2" wide and 24" deep. Most are 41-1/2" high and a few are 36-1/4" high. Procedes from the consoles will help make additional improvements to the SKYWARN communications room.
Solar Cycle 24 Confirmed
From Multiple Sources
The astrophysical research group Data Analysis Centre confirmed that Solar Cycle 24 is now officially with us. The group issued a report 04-Jan identifying a high latitude sunspot group.
While this is good news for HF communications, NOAA scientists suggest it also brings increased risks. During a solar storm, highly charged material ejected from the sun may head toward Earth, where it can bring down power grids, disrupt critical communications, and threaten astronauts with harmful radiation. Storms can also knock out commercial communications satellites and swamp Global Positioning System signals. Routine activities such as talking on a cell phone or getting money from an ATM machine could suddenly halt over a large part of the globe.
Commercial Mobile Alert System
From CGC Communicator
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was issued to establish a Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS). The CMAS providers (e.g. cellphone companies) could transmit emergency alerts to the public. The FCC notes many Americans rely on wireless services to receive time-sensitive information. The system would enable the distribution of geographically targeted alerts more precisely than now available through non-commercial and public broadcast stations.
DTV Converter Box
From Various Sources
In the December Newsletter, we mentioned that 100 retailers were named to redeem coupons for DTV converter boxes. Households were enabled to apply for $40 coupons on 01-Jan for distribution beginning 17-Feb. Additional information is available on the web for the DTV transition and
converters box coupon program.
More than 500,000 people requested more than 1 million $40 coupons in the first 40 or so hours of the program. If the pace continues, all currently funded coupons will be gone by late February. Apply for your coupon at www.dtv2009.gov
The chief executive of Best Buy indicated he is "very nervous" about being able to supply customers with the millions of digital TV converter boxes needed ahead of the shutdown of most analog TV transmissions in 13 months.
From Various Sources
Air travelers are no longer permitted to pack loose non-rechargable lithium batteries in checked luggage. Devices with lithium batteries installed in them can be checked, but spare batteries cannot. Spare lithium batteries may be in carry-on baggage, but must be packed in plastic bags.
On a related note, battery manufacturers and scientists launched an intensive effort to improve the safety of these rechargeable power packs. Fires and explosions involving Lithium-ion batteries are rare, estimated as occurring with one in 1 million to one in 10 million batteries. Widely-publicized incidents forced costly recalls of millions of batteries. Researchers do not fully understand why. Possible explanations include impurities that short circuit the batteries or other yet unidentified reactions. As researchers explore new battery materials, manufacturers are already selling or planning to sell safer Lithium-ion batteries.
New Battery Technology
From Cosmic Log
Continuing on the subject of batteries, another battery breakthrough is on its way to market. This innovation involves using silicon nanowires instead of the usual carbon to store energy in a lithium-ion battery's anode. Silicon has more than 10 times as much charge capacity as carbon. If commercial batteries could live up to that performance level, you could theoretically be running your laptop for 20 to 40 hours straight rather than the typical two to four hours. Reality, of course, is more complex than the theory. The expectation is to have the new technology available in the next 3 to 5 years.
From AR Newsline
Two groups are now calling themselves the National Frequency Coordinators Council (NFCC). The original NFCC was established in 1996. It functions as the technical and political representative recognized coordinators in discussions with both the ARRL and the FCC. The new Texas-based NFCC was discovered in December. Incorporated in Washington D.C., the new group claims the original NFCC no longer exists. Needless to say, most of the frequency coordinator groups remain aligned with the original NFCC.
Home Made Triode
From AR Newsline
A new video takes the viewer though the step by step process of creating a triode tube. It is called "Fabrication d'une lampe triode" but the soundtrack is simply background music by famed composer George Gershwin.
From Multiple Sources
A common reference to a ham with poor operating practices is a "lid". The 06-Jan Gulf incident between boats from the US and Iran brought another nickname to public knowledge. Filipino Monkey is a name used by mariners around the globe for someone who uses his radio for unnecessary or inappropriate transmissions. Ships at sea are required to maintain a listening watch on VHF marine channel 16, so as to hear distress messages, collision warnings or other calls. The correct form is to change channels after establishing contact. Apparantly, the knowledge that large numbers of people absolutely have to listen channel 16 becomes an irresistible temptation for a lot of people in possession of VHF sets.
From Yanko Design
An interesting use of technology is designed to exchange basic information by shaking hands. Since shaking hands is a customary greeting action, the Information Ring brings the action one step further by creating an information transfer function. When the rings gain the proximity to operate, they exchange the users’ information and store it while the users are shaking hands. A display card is used to view the basic information stored in the ring. The power source originates from the human body temperature, so no plug is required.
NarrowBand Emergency Messaging System
From ARRL Letter
Radio amateurs are invited to participate in the beta test of the
NarrowBand Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS). NBEMS is designed for point-to-point, error-free emergency messaging on VHF/UHF up to or over 100 miles distant. Using the computer soundcard as the modem, only a simple interface connection between the computer and transceiver is needed.
Cell Phone Exposure
From Multiple Sources
It seems like every month something new comes up relating to radiations exposure from cell phones. One of the recent reports suggests using a mobile phone before going to bed could stop you getting a decent night's sleep. Over 70 men and women aged between 18 and 45 were exposed to varying levels of radiation, and their reactions were studied. Some were exposed to the equivalent radiation received when using a mobile phone, others were placed in the same conditions, but given only 'sham' exposure. Those exposed to radiation took longer to enter the first of the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one, which interferes with the body's ability to refresh itself.
700 MHz Auction
The auction for the 700-MHz-spectrum began on January 24. The spectrum is divided into two bands: a 48 MHZ wide segment called the "lower 700" and a 60 MHz wide segment called the "upper 700". Within the upper 700, 24 MHz is reserved for public safety. Mobile service providers believe the 700 MHZ band will provide better penetration into buildings than the current 800 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies in use now. With 214 bidders, the results of
Auction 73 are available, but the public won't know who the winners and losers are until the auction officially concludes.