OSCAR News - September, 2ØØ8
The next OSCAR meeting is 13-Sep @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month. Meetings are held at the Happy Chef at US-14 West and I-35.
The next SKYWARN meeting is 16-Sep @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.
Steele County Drill (SET)
Steele County Emergency Management is planning a drill for Friday, 12-Sep. This is a multi-organization drill that includes RACES/ARES. The goal for RACES/ARES is to establish a digital connection to transfer information between locations. Marv NØFJP, Dale WBØPKG, and Tom NØUW have spent some time getting their radios and computers set to run PSK. Willis KAØKEL will evaluate our activities on passing messages in ARRL Radiogram format. Contact Tom NØUW if you want to participate in the drill.
This Was Only A Test
Tom NØUW had a stern reminder to himself after the SET. Vacation to the North Shore followed the SET. Returning a week later, he went hunting for his faithful HT. After a couple days of trying to retrace steps from memory, the conclusion was that the HT fell off his belt at one of the many locations visited during the Steele County Drill. Thoughts of wishing some sort of personal ID on the radio danced through his head as visions of it being lost forever danced through his head. Thankfully, the trusty HT was found stuffed under the car seat (after looking there 3 times). It now has an address label. Just a reminder to others that have purchased an HT.
National Preparedness Month
From Department of Homeland Security
National Preparedness Month (NPM) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Ready Campaign. NPM is held each September and is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. September 2008 is the fifth annual NPM. The month will focus on important preparedness steps including:
- Get an Emergency Supply Kit
- Make a Family Emergency Plan
- Be Informed
- Get Involved
Butt Splice recall
Gardner Bender is recalling butt splice connectors sold between June 2005 through April 2008. The recalled butt splices are used to connect electrical wires to one another. They are typically used for wiring small electrical appliances, like audio equipment, or in automotive applications. The splices are yellow insulated vinyl and measure about one inch long and ¼ inch wide. They were intended for use with 12-10 AWG wire. 12-10 is stamped on the side of the splices. Model numbers 10-126, or 21-126, and Gardner Bender are printed on the product’s packaging. They were sold in packages of 8 or 50. The splice can fail to hold the wires adequately together, posing a shock and fire hazard to consumers. Gardner Bender has received one report of a recalled butt splice failing to hold wires together. No injuries have been reported. Consumers should immediately stop using products that contain the recalled butt splices and contact the firm for free replacement splices.
Vanity Call Sign Fees
From Multiple Sources
The FCC announced that the cost of an Amateur Radio vanity call sign will increase from $11.70 to $12.30. The fee increase will be effective 25-Sep. The FCC collects vanity call sign fees to recover the costs associated with that program. The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable not only when applying for a new vanity call sign, but also upon renewing a vanity call sign for a new 10 year term.
The 420-430 MHz segment is allocated to the amateur service in the United States on a secondary basis. While at the Dakota Convention in Rochester, the editor attended the ARRL town hall meeting. Once of the topics was 70cm repeaters potenially interfering with the PAVEPAWS radar systems. The potential conflict with PAVEPAWS is not an issue in the midwest, but the dicussion brought up a reminder about Line A along the US-Canada border. No amateur station shall transmit from north of Line A in the 420-430 MHz segment. Line A runs from Aberdeen, WA to Bangor, ME. In the midwest, the path is:
Pull out you maps and globes to plot that out. Just remember Line A when you are making your trips to the North Shore or near the Canadian border. This discussion on Line A is interesting reading.
- parallel 48º N from the west to the intersection of 95º W
- then by great circle arc through the southernmost point of Duluth, MN
- then by great circle arc to 45º N
Moving Broadcast AM Radio
From Multiple Sources
A group of broadcast consulting engineers proposes a new use for TV Channels 5 and 6 in the United States once their occupants migrate to digital. It recommends the reallocation of part of that spectrum for the use of the US AM stations. This conversion would include a migration of all AM stations to digital transmissions only. The plan includes designations for users like municipalities and LPAM stations.
From Multiple Sources
The August Edition, included a note on testing of devices in the "white space" of broadcast television. Opposition to the use of white spaces is led by sports leagues, National Association of Broadcasters, and some lawmakers who want the white spaces spectrum to be auctioned off the highest bidder. The testing was conducted in a variety of conditions including a regional park in the Washington-Baltimore area, BWI Airport, downtown Washington and Ellicott City, Md. The tests used devices from Motorola, Philips, Adaptrum and InfoComm International. Motorola's device was the only one using both geolocation and sensing technologies. The other devices rely only on sensing to detect existing TV channels.
It should not be a surprise that the competing forces have differing views on the results of the test. Motorola claims the combination of geolocation and sensing technologies performed well in FCC testing. After the Federal Communications Commission test at a Buffalo-Washington preseason game, Shure Microphones pronounced the field trials a bust. Motorola, however, did not participate in the testing of white spaces and wireless microphones.
When the FCC concludes the outdoors testing, the agency will then prepare a report and make overall recommendations on the use of white spaces devices. If the FCC supports the use of white spaces, device makers could start manufacturing technology for laptops, smart phones, PDAs and set-top boxes that can utilize the white spaces.
From Radio World
The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a ban on wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary stations from operating in the 700 MHz band after the end of the digital television transition come February. The point is to eliminate harmful interference to new public safety and commercial wireless services in the band. After the end of the DTV transition, low-power auxiliary stations would be able to continue operating in additional spectrum bands on a secondary basis, including certain broadcast television channels below 700 MHz.
Another DTV Casualty
Think about watching TV shows on your cell phone. You can do this with an imported Chinese phone, but you can't with any phone sold in the U.S. — at least not without monthly charges. Most phones sold in Japan can tune in to free TV broadcasts, as well as South Korea, Germany and China. Analog U.S. broadcasts are being replaced by DTV, but there are no phones anywhere that can tune in to it.
When the U.S. digital TV standard was laid down in the early 1990s, it was optimized for high-definition signals to stationary antennas. At the time, cell phones had screens that could display eight digits and nothing else, so little thought was given making the broadcasts work with mobile gadgets. U.S. TV broadcasters are quite eager to provide free broadcasts to cell phones, just as they do to TVs with "rabbit-ear" antennas. The Open Mobile Video Coalition wants to reach cell phones through a new wireless standard. It will use regular TV frequencies to reach mobile gadgets, meaning TV stations will be able to broadcast from existing towers.
From Multiple Sources
Verizon Business launched a service designed to allow emergency responders to connect to each other on the same network, whether they are using traditional radio sets, mobile phones, fixed-line phones or e-mail. The service uses a private IP (Internet protocol) network to connect disparate communications equipment and convert them to IP traffic. A claimed advantage is allowing emergency response agencies to keep their existing systems, and it runs over a private network. In addition, the service allows emergency response agencies to set up local networks ahead of time or dynamically.
Editor Note: At the Dakota Division Convention, there was a presentation about the communications network for the Twin Cities Marathon. The whole network is D-Star based and operates just as the Verizon system is described. A QST article featured the system.
XM Satellite Radio
From Radio World
Sirius and XM sent letters to subscribers indicating they may have satellite radio tuners that contain wireless FM transmitters that may interfere with terrestrial stations. XM is asking subscribers to visit a Web site or call an 800 number to discuss no-cost options to “alleviate this possible interference.” Those include XM sending the subscriber ferrite beads to attach to the FM antenna and power adaptor cables or a replacement cassette adaptor to use with the XM radio. Sirius sent similar letters, offering a free “Optimizer Kit” with several options that subscribers can take to prevent interfering with other devices.
Driving and Passengers
Many articles have been written on driving and cell phone use. One counter-claim is motorists who talk on their cellphones while driving are no more dangerous than chatting to a passenger. A new study suggests that having someone in the car actually improves safety. In fact, the study suggests safety improves with the number of passengers on board. One major exception is youngsters drove worse if their passenger was younger than they were.
From Radio World
In an effort to combat road accidents and traffic jams, the European Unions’s Intelligent Car Initiative program has dedicated a single radio frequency to smart vehicle communication systems. The system is based on a wireless communication technology and allows cars to “talk” to each other, to warn of slippery conditions or accidents. The system relies on a single Europe-wide frequency band that is 30 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. It will be rolled out within the next six months and will not hinder existing roadside services.
Know Your DX Geography
From CGC Communicator
This is a fun geography challenge. See how well you know the locations of major European cities. Every time you play, the cities change.
From Contest Rate Sheet
Freescale Semiconductor saves all those great, old Motorola Application notes in their online archive. At the entry page, select "Application Note" and "active plus archive" to see the older literature, some of which is classic stuff. Freescale Semiconductor is the spun-off Motorola Semiconductor.
From PC World
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) employ a thin layer of organic material that emits light when electricity passes through it. OLED displays need no backlight, they are brighter, cheaper to manufacture, and more environmentally friendly than plasma displays or LCDs. OLEDs today are used in some cell phone displays. Several manufacturers (e.g., Samsung, Epson, LG, Toshiba) are increasing their manufacturing capacity. It's likely to be two years or more before OLEDs can compete with LCDs on price. Consumers may see OLED panels in the 20-to-30-inch range in 2009.
Morse Is Alive
From AR Newsline
The KPH transmitting and receiving sites north of San Francisco are one of the last places left where one can see a real coast station in operation. Their transmitters cause the whole building to vibrate as their mercury vapor rectifiers flash in time with the Morse being sent. At the receive site the operating room is flooded with the music of Morse as it was in the golden years. For those who can't pay a visit, 3 videos will give you an idea of days at the station. The videos include "KSM Station Operations", "Antenna Maintenance at KPH/KSM" and "Press Wireless PW-15 Transmitter".
Antenna, Horse, and Saddle?
From ARRL Contest Update
An old mnemonic "Never Saddle A Dead Horse" can be used to help remember how to attach guy clamps. If you hold a clamp with the U-bolt part down, it looks a bit like a saddle cinch strap and the sliding part looks a bit like a saddle. The saddle part of the clamp has much better holding power than the U-bolt. Not having the saddle on the live guy wire causes the clamp to lose about 40% of its holding force!
Burst of Air
From Radio World
Need a small burst of dry air is needed and there’s no can of ‘commercial’ dry air available? Using an empty plastic dishwashing soap bottle like Dawn or Joy, with the nozzle still on, will give a nice, forceful burst of air every time the bottle is squeezed, and all without batteries. Using this air bottle along with a small clean paintbrush can help push dirt from hard-to-reach places inside a transmitter or computer. If you are worried about the air inside the bottle collecting moisture, unscrew the cap of the plastic bottle and insert a little gel pack to “soak” up any moisture that might get in.
GAP Titan Vertical. No Trap Center-Fed Vertical - Offers wide bandwidth on 80-10 meters including 12, 17, and 30 meter WARC bands. New in AES catalog $399. Sale $200. The antenna was assembled but never erected - no corrosion on the aluminum. Partially disassembled into bundles. Longest section is 106". Will deliver to Owatonna. N1UW@arrl.net