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Owatonna Steele County Amateur Radio 14-Apr-2017

OSCAR News - March, 28

Note: The March meeting will be held at Hy-Vee (1620 S. Cedar)as part of the NOAA Weather Radio event.

Local Meetings and Nets

  • The next OSCAR meeting is 08-Mar @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month.
  • The OSCAR weekly net on the 145.490 machine is Sunday nights at 7:30 PM.
  • The next SKYWARN meeting is 18-Mar @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.

NOAA Weather Radio
In a joint community effort, Steele County SKYWARN and OSCAR will participate in a NOAA weather radio promotion. On 08-Mar-2008, HY-Vee in Owatonna will sell NOAA weather radios at a discount. Members of OSCAR and SKYWARN will provide assistance to individuals to program the radios. Look for promotion details in the HY-Vee circular at that time. Check the Steele County SKYWARN web site for information on participating in this event. Many thanks to Deuel NSL for developing the idea and working all of the details to make it a success. Contact Deuel NSL if you are willing to spend an hour participating in this event.

OSCAR Technician Class
The current class has 15 participants with many from CERT, SKYWARN, and the Owatonna hospital. Joining Dale WBPKG, Kris KCREO, and Tom NUW as instructors is Jeff KCUOW. A new feature of the class is the Elmer Session. OSCAR membership will be available on 25-Mar to help new hams (and others) answer the "What do I do now?" questions.

OSCAR VE Session
OSCAR is hosting a VE Session as part of the Technician Class on 11-Mar. It is an open session. Exams for all license classes will be administered by Paul WFEI, Willis KAKEL, Deuel NSL, and Tom NUW.The current exam fee is $14. A photo ID or two other forms of identification are required, plus your social security number.

VEC/VE Manual From ARRL Letter
The ninth edition of the ARRL VEC/VE Manual is now online on the ARRL Web site. The manual has everything you need to know in order to be an ARRL Volunteer Examiner. Any General, Advanced or Amateur Extra class license holder is eligible to be a Volunteer Examiner. Becoming an ARRL VE requires completing the ARRL VE application form and pass a 40-question'open book' test. Current VEs should download the new manual as it updates the recent rule changes.

OSCAR is looking to add another VE or two to the roster. Contact Tom NUW if you are interested.

SKYWARN Training
Be sure to look up the details of the SKYWARN training opportunity on 13-Mar. They can be found on the Steele County SKYWARN web site.

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.

CERT Class
Congratulations to the most recent graduates of the CERT training class. The final class was a drill in the basement of the Fire Station. Jeff KCUOW is the Chief Director of Education for Steele County CERT. He briefed the 17 new members on the drill scenario of a tornado. We appreciate the efforts of all CERT team members to provide a valuable resource to Steele County.

FCC Payments From ARRL Letter
The FCC Changed the "Lockbox Bank" for Vanity Call Sign Payments. U.S. Bank is now the lockbox bank for all FCC programs (with the exception of auction-related payments). Applicants who manually file FCC paper applications via mail (e.g. new or renewal vanity call signs) will need to send payments to U.S. Bank. After completing all required forms, mail them along with the payment to the address of the Commission's new lockbox bank:
Federal Communications Commission
PO Box 979097
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000.
The FCC strongly encourages the use of their electronic filing and payment options.

Ham Related Movie From AR Newsline
A new British movie titled The Bank Job features Amateur Radio. The plot is a fictionalization of a daring, unsolved robbery, which took place in London more than 35 years ago. The criminals used handhelds and were intercepted by a ham radio operator. The ham becomes involved in the attempt to catch them. It is scheduled for release in March.

FAA Battery Restrictions From Multiple Sources
Some additional information on restrictions by the FAA on batteries. Laptop batteries can explode catastrophically and it's only a matter of time before it happens in-flight. Laptop batteries contain somewhere between six and nine individual lithium-ion cells. If any of the cells gets too hot (350 degrees), they can leak flammable liquid and explode. A chain reaction through the rest of the cells throwing poisonous liquid, flames, and toxic smoke. New rules were briefly mentioned in last month's newsletter.

The 01-Jan restrictions ban spare laptop batteries in checked luggage. Batteries actually installed inside devices are and most spare batteries in your carry-on are allowed. Carry-on batteries are now governed by a complicated new set of rules:

  • You can carry batteries with 8 grams of lithium or less in your carry-on luggage. Cell phone, PDA, and most laptop batteries, contain less than 8 grams of lithium.
  • Like other liquids, they must be carried in plastic bags.
  • A limitation of two batteries with between 8 and 25 grams of lithium. Security will take away anything more than two.

Battery manufacturers are making improvements to the polymer insulators used. Polymer membranes are porous, hair-thin separators that control the flow of electrons through the battery. Their failure appears to result in the overheating. Battery manufacturers have developed new polymer separators with greater porosity for improved power flow and stronger insulation materials for improved safety.

CEPT Universal Licensing From AR Newsline
The CEPT license was created to minimize the need for hams licensed in one nation to operate from another without requesting a reciprocal license in each country. The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations found the recently revised US licensing standards for Technician and General no longer have any equivalent in the European community of nations. This means that a US Tech or General may have to apply for a reciprocal operating permit in that nation. Those holding a US Advanced or Extra are not affected by this decision.

Asia Internet Outage From Wired
Large portions of the Middle East and Southeast Asia were affected by damage to two major undersea fiber optic links. The two cables account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East. Early reports blamed an errant anchor for severing the cables. The two cables are competitors that carry traffic from Europe through the Middle East along to Japan. Some telecoms had complete outages since their contingency plan was to use the other cable if one went out. A third cable was subsequently damaged near Dubai. Several postings on amateur radio portals commented that these events and the recent Blackberry outage should be a reminder to not rely on the internet for emergency communications.

ARISS Ground Stations From AR Newsline
ARISS -- Amateur Radio on the International Space Station is looking to expand the international network of ground stations that help support manned ham radio in space. New ground stations should be capable or relaying ISS amateur radio sessions with schools. They will also serve as back up communications relays should they be needed. If you would like to be considered, contact ARISS at telebridge@amsat.org.

AO-16 From AR Newsline
Vintage amateur satellite AMSAT Oscar 16 has been given a new lease of life. Launched in 1990, the successful digital store and forward system eventually failed. AMSAT controllers have reconfigured the satellite as a voice repeater. Its 2m FM receiver has been connected to the 70cm double sideband transmitter. Uplink signals on 145.920 MHz are relayed on 437.026 MHz. Results so far have been surprisingly good, although there is no way to forecast how long the satellite will function.

DTV and Low-Power Stations From Multiple Sources
At the February OSCAR meeting, a couple of questions were raised about the DTV conversion. The fine print of the DTV program inidcates that low-power television stations and translators will be able to continue to transmit in an analog format past the 17-Feb-2009 deadline for the full power stations. Broadcasting by full-power stations in the digital television service is limited to channels 2 through 36 and channels 38 through 51. Channels 52 through 60 are being vacated by the DTV conversion. There apppears to be a program to help low-power stations convert to DTV format. There is no deadline established for conversion, but 2011 or 2012 date is expected. More information can be found on the FCC web site.

DTV Converter Boxes From Wired
The newsletter has included several bits in the past dealing with analog TV converter boxes and the coupon program. Those boxes are supposed to be available at most major retailers across the country. Apparently, the converter boxes are hard to track down. With a three month expiration to use the $40 coupons, by the time you find a converter box, your coupon may have expired.

Analog Phone Service From CGC Communicator
Another analog service may bite the dust with analog TV. Cellular telephone companies are no longer required to provide analog service as of 18-Feb. While most wireless telephone users already have digital phones, some cell phones, alarm systems and OnStar in-vehicle communications gear will be impacted.

Motorola Cell Phone From Multiple Sources
Motorola recently concluded the purchase of a stake in Yaesu and now wants to sell its mobile phone unit. As the world's third-largest mobile phone maker has been losing market share to market leaders Nokia Corp and Samsung. Motorola is looking at at changes that might include spinning off or selling the phone division, which accounts for about half of revenue.

Digital Radio Mondiale From Economist
A number of broadcasters are a digital replacement for traditional long-, medium- and short-wave radio. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) was developed by a consortium of broadcasters and equipment makers and has now been endorsed as an international standard. DRM provides the same range as these traditional AM transmissions without the interference. It can be broadcast by modifying existing AM equipment and does not use as much electricity as an equivalent AM service.

Digital Repeater Band Plans From AR Newsline
The SouthEastern Repeater Association is adopting provisions for digital voice technology systems (e.g., P 25 and D-Star). The group appears to being taking the position that digital voice technology must have minimal impact on all existing analog operations. Although a work in process, you can view the new 2 meter and 70 centimeter bandplans on line:
2 meter Plan
70 cm Plan

HAARP From Multiple Sources
A fair amount of publicity appeared recently about a low band moon bounce experiment. An audio recording is available on youtube.com. It is a 6.79 MHz CW signal from the HAARP array followed by the moonbounced echo after the HAARP array was shut off. Then the cycle repeats many times: first the direct HAARP signal is heard, then the moonbounced reflected signal.

Over 1500 reports were received from amateur radio hams across the world. Countries reporting include Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, Australia, Marshall Islands, Hawaii, and Japan.

Chip Enhancements From Multiple Sources
Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have unveiled a new chip design for portable electronics that can be up to 10 times more energy-efficient than present technology. The design could lead to cell phones, implantable medical devices and sensors that last far longer when running from a battery. The key to the improvement in energy efficiency was to find ways of making the circuits on the chip work at a voltage level much lower than usual. While most current chips operate at around one volt, the new design works at just 0.3 volts. One key to the new design was to build a high-efficiency DC-to-DC converter to the lower level. Including the converter on the same chip reduces the number of separate components.

Automotive Bermuda Triangle From NY Daily News
An automotive Bermuda Triangle lies in a five block radius of the Empire State Building lies. A local towing company indicates they get calls for 10-15 cars every day that quit running. The cars start up after they are towed out of the area. Apparently everything works, but the cars will not start. The Empire State Building has been transmitting broadcast signals since 1931, currently with 13 TV and 19 FM stations antennas on its spire.

CQ Serenade From AR Newsline
We mentioned the song CQ Serenade in an early edition of the Newsletter. It was composed by the late Canadian musician Maurice Durieux VE2QS. There are two music videos available, one in English and the other in French with ham radio related scenes cut to the beat of Duriux 1960's song. The appropriate links are: