OSCAR News - February, 2ØØ9
The next OSCAR meeting is 14-Feb @ 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 17-Feb @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.
OSCAR Technician Class
For the fourth consecutive year, OSCAR will hold a Technician License class. The free classes will follow the format used last year and begin 10-Feb. Class concludes with a VE Session on 05-Mar. The Exam Fee is $15 for 2009. Questions and pre-registration can be directed to class organizers Dale WBØPKG and Tom NØUW. Additional instructors include Jeff KCØUOW and Marv NØFJP. Additional details and updates are posted on the
OSCAR 2009 Class Page. Updates will be posted as they become available.
Class content will be based on the ARRL
License Manual. The manual can be purchased directly from the ARRL for $24.95 plus $8.00 S&H. The manual should also be available from most Amateur Radio dealers as well as Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc.
An Elmer Session is planned for Tuesday, 24-Mar. Anyone looking for some help on an problem are invited to get some general help from the OSCAR membership.
President's Volunteer Service Award
Steele County Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) held their annual meeting on Thursday, 08-Jan. Mike Johnson KCØWQQ used the meeting to also recognize Steele County volunteers from other groups. The President's Volunteer Service Award program is a way to thank and honor Americans engaged in volunteer service. The award recognizes individuals that have achieved a certain standard – measured by the number of hours served over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime. OSCAR members recognized with awards included:
Congratulation to all of the recipients, and thanks for your time and efforts.
- Dave KCØUVY - Gold
- Jeff KCØUOW - Gold
- Tom NØUW - Gold
- Deuel NSØL - Bronze
- Tim KDØDKA - Bronze
The editor is bound to have missed someone, so I'll apologize in advance. Walter KCØYAT was honored for 50 years of service as a Steele County Special Deputy.
Dennis NØRPI and Dennis NØRPJ join the ranks of Volunteer Examiners. They indicated the process of reading the material and taking the open book test took about 4 hours. We appreciate their support in helping others to enjoy our hobby. At this writing, Dale WBØPKG indicates he also has submitted for VE credentials, but has not received them.
Tim KDØDKA was kind enough to acquire some lumber to build a shelf in the dungeon. We now have a place to store some of the Amateur Radio supplies for emergency communications and Field Day. We appreciate the donation.
From Multiple Sources
TV stations in Hawaii went all-digital by a special early deadline. Hawaii made the change early to coincide with a move from one antenna site to another on the Big Island. TV stations moved towers down from the slopes of the Haleakala volcano in advance of the nesting season of an endangered bird, the dark-rumped petrel.
It may not be 17-Feb? President-elect Barack Obama is urging Congress to postpone the Feb. 17 switch from analog to digital television broadcasting. The Commerce Department has run out of money for the coupons that subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers. Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not giving consumers enough help with the TV transition. The Senate voted in late January to postpone the transition to June 12. Congress, however, voted down a bill to postpone the upcoming transition, leaving the current Feb. 17 deadline intact. The House opted to rush the vote, which meant the bill was required to win two-thirds approval rather than a simple majority. The House can bring the bill back and allow a full debate. If it does this, the bill will need only a majority of votes to pass, which the bill had after the rush vote.
Since there are two sides to every story, public-safety organizations asked to exclude spectrum designated for first responders in any plan to delay the transition to digital television next month. Agencies across the nation have already
acquired radios capable of operating in the 700 MHz band. There is also at least one and perhaps a couple other
instances in which a public-safety agency has received or is currently seeking special FCC authority to utilize spectrum on a television channel being relinquished as a result of the Digital TV transition.
Don't have your converter coupons? The government program providing vouchers has run out of money. Applicants for a digital TV converter box voucher are put on a waiting list. Nearly 53 percent of coupons requested have been redeemed, and 13 million have expired. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is now sending out new coupons only as older, unredeemed ones expire and free up more money. The NTIA had nearly 2.6 million coupon requests on a waiting list.
Adding to some of the confusion is the assumption that all DTV will be on UHF channels. Some DTV stations are moving back to
VHF channels. This could lead to reception problems after the February 17 DTV switch as UHF over-the-air indoor and outdoor antennas make very poor VHF antennas.
Digital Emergency Beacons
From Multiple Sources
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will stop using its satellites to monitor the 121.5 MHz frequency used by older analog boater and private airplane distress beacons. On 01-feb, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard will limit their watch to newer digital signals coming across the 406 MHz frequency. The distress signals go up to a network of nine NOAA satellites, which also monitor weather patterns. They are relayed to a command center in Suitland, Md., before being farmed out to Coast Guard and Air Force search and rescue centers across the country.
The older satellite based system has been plagued by false alarms and imprecise beacons since their introduction in the 1980s. Everything from pizza ovens to football stadium scoreboards triggered false alarms. NOAA and other agencies pushed for a second frequency that minimized the false alarms and allowed satellites to better pinpoint a distress signal's location. Private airplane pilots balked at the $2,000 to $4,000 cost. Congress prohibited federal aviation regulators from requiring the new beacons. The new devices also are not mandatory equipment for recreational boaters. Commercial vessels operating more than three nautical miles offshore are required to have the new device.
From Multiple Sources
Have an interest in satellites? The increased interested in satellites generated by the Slow Scan TV (SSTV) transmissions from the International Space Station has resulted in many newcomers wanting to find out more about Amateur Radio satellites. The RadCom article 'Getting Started on Amateur Radio Satellites' by John Heath G7HIA can be downloaded from the AMSAT-UK Web site. It is an excellent introduction to use of amateur satellites, something well within reach of most radio sport practitioners. It originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of the Radio Society of Great Britain magazine RadCom and the RSGB and author have generously agreed to allow AMSAT-UK to put the PDF of the article on the web.
Other sources of information are:
Deep Space Internet
Today, NASA's information superhighway to outer space flows through one major gateway - the Deep Space Network - to a host of space probes, scattered all the way out from Earth orbit to the edge of the solar system. As those probes proliferate, the Deep Space Network has to keep up with an increasingly complex communications schedule. After more than a decade of tinkering, NASA has successfully conducted the first deep-space test of a communication protocol that could serve as the foundation of an interplanetary Internet.
The Internet protocol, known as the TCP/IP communications suite, are designed to work over a continuous end-to-end connection between the various parts of the network. That isn't well-suited for Earth-to-Mars communications, where the delay between sending a message and having it received can run as long as 20 minutes. The Delay Tolerant Network (DTN) is designed to accommodate a store-and-forward system, with built-in smarts. The protocol has been used by Laplanders herding reindeer on snowmobiles, as well as cell-phone users on the bleeding edges of their coverage areas. It's even being deployed by the Pentagon for battlefield communications. The next step would be to install the software on the international space station, creating a permanent DTN node in Earth orbit.
What Does A Meteor Sound Like?
From Space Weather Radio
The Air Force Space Surveillance Radar scans the skies above Texas. The meteor generates a PING! as it passes over the facility. You can listen to the echoes as earth is peppered with thousands of random meteors every day.
Plasma TV Ban?
From Daily Telegraph
Power hungry plasma screen televisions are expected to be banned under new EU legislation. The United Kingdom press reports that plasma screen TV's could be banned under new European Union rules now making their way through the legislative system. The Daily Telegraph recently carried a story that plasma screen TVs have had a bad reputation among users of the Short Wave radio spectrum. This, because of the high level of RF interference they can generate and many radio users will be pleased to see them go. And as a result of mounting complaints, the European Union is now considering the anti-plasma screen regulations.
From ARRL Contest update
Do you think being a Ham has taught you world geography? This simple,on-line geography quiz that works by dragging the country names into the correct locations on this map of the Middle East. Once you finish the puzzle, you will be far more educated about this very intense part of our world.
From ARRL Contest update
The November IEEE Spectrum made the observation that within each 9 V battery are six 1.5 V AAAA cells. These cells are a little shorter than AAA's and those inside the 9 V package aren't labeled for polarity, but in the time-honored tradition of ham frugality, these cells can be put to work in various low-power applications.
From Radio World
Unless you have a very tall tower or live near an airport, most hams only have to work with local governments when constructing a tower. Structures more than 199 feet above ground level and some shorter structures near airports require lighting and marking must be registered. Who regulates these towers? In a strange twist of regulations, the Federal Aviation Administration can only recommend tower lighting and marking (L&M). It is the Federal Communications Commission that can require it as a condition of the station license grant.
From AR Newsline
73s.org has a bit of everything you can imagine. Its kind of a cross between an interactive website with movie hosting ability and a web log or blog where users can post their thoughts and ideas.
Radio Shack History
From AR Newsline
Radio Shack announced in 2006 it would no longer sell amateur radio gear. The "shack" was one of the prime mail order suppliers of ham gear and accessoriesback in 1930's. You can view the 1939 Radio Shack catalog I on line.
Wireless signals fade into the electronic background after ten metres or so. An EU-funded project, UROOF (Photonic components for Ultra-wideband Radio Over Optical Fiber) set out to find an inexpensive way to stretch that range to hundreds or thousands of metres. Researchers envisioned a hybrid system, in which ultra-wideband (UWB) radio signals could be transformed into light beams, relayed over long distances via inexpensive optical fibres, and then transformed back to radio again. Focusing on UWB signals, the system starts with a central laser that generates an unmodulated optical signal and sends it through a single optical fibre to remote units. In its downlink mode, the central unit receives a UWB radio signal, modulates the optical carrier, and beams it to the remote units. In the uplink mode, a remote EAT modulates the optical signal and sends it back to the central station.
From Science Daily
Plastic is light and inexpensive, but insulates electric current. Metal is resilient and conducts electricity, but is expensive and heavy. What really is needed is a resilient plastic that conducts electricity. Researchers have devised a process to achieve just that. A special process produces a composite material with a homogeneous and fine-meshed electrically conductive network.
What's A Fax?
Old technology remains alive, including the fax machine, originally patented in 1843. With all of the current electronic options available, one might think the fax use is on the decline. Think again. Although sales of stand-alone fax machines may have plummeted, multifunction (copy, scan, fax) printers sales increased 340 percent from 2001 to 2007. The number of people who can send and receive faxes is still increasing, despite the availability of pdfs and e-mail.