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Owatonna Steele County Amateur Radio 14-Apr-2017

OSCAR News - July, 2ØØ9

OSCAR Meeting
The next OSCAR meeting is 11-Jul @ 9:00 AM, the second Saturday of the month. Meetings are held at the Happy Chef at US-14 West and I-35.
07-Jul Update: The July OSCAR meeting will be in the meeting room at the Owatonna HY-Vee

The next SKYWARN meeting is 21-Jul @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at the Owatonna Fire Station.

Habitat 500
The Habitat 500 is a bicycle ride and fundraiser to support Habitat for Humanity. The 500 mile ride takes place over 7 seven days. The route changes each year. This year, the route is Faribault-Rochester-Rushford-Grand Meadow-Albert Lea-Lake Crystal-Faribault. The organizers asked and were given permission to use the .49 machine and .105 machine for communications on 12-Jul. They are not asking for any local communications support. Remember to use good repeater etiquette and provide help, if asked.

Field Day
Steele County RACES and OSCAR had a successful Field Day. The editor counted 17 folks supporting the 4A operation. Many thanks to Dennis NRPI for organizing the event and Brian KBDD for keeping the crew nourished. Matt KAPQW, Dale WBPKG, Jeff KCUOW, and Mike KDDKC all get honorable mention for making contacts through the night. Pictures have been posted.

At the publishing deadline, the scores have not been tallied. The summary will be posted on the OSCAR web site when it becomes available. Early returns show we had a little over 1500 contacts with the score for contacts a little over 2000 points. Multipliers and extra points need to be figured in.

Comments from Dennis NRPI:

"I had a really good time this year, I thought the location was excellent, the weather was cooperative and everyone pitched in and made this a really outstanding event. I can't say that I have ever eaten better at a field day, and I really appreciate all of Brian's effort and dedication to keeping us fed. The antenna layout seemed to be a great success, we were able to co-exist quite well I thought. Although I am not sure that we really needed to run in the 4A catagory, it didn't seem to be a problem as far as interference goes. The lift and light provided by Jeff was great, as was it's location right above the satellite.

Tony told me that he had talked to a couple of different individuals from the flying club who both told him they would be happy to have us back again. They appreciated our respectful treatment of the grounds and were really impressed we took our garbage with us. Thank you to everyone who participated in this years event, you all made it successful."

Related stories include:

  • KAAL TV has a video news story on the Rochester ARC.
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has issued a proclamation for Amateur Radio Operator Recognition Days for the Field Day weekend. You may go to this website to download a copy.

EME From Multiple Sources
Along with Field Day was an EME event to commemorate the Apollo 11 landings 40 years ago. Around 1,000 people around the world are thought to have the kind of equipment to do this kind of messaging. It takes around 2.5 seconds for a radio signal to reach the moon and bounce back to another part of the Earth, so it takes around five seconds to get a reply. It was timed to coincide with next month's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969. But as the moon does not orbit directly around Earth's equator, this was the closest weekend organizers could arrange for practical reasons.

E-Mail Change
The Editor/Secretary is advancing into the 20th Century (but not the 21st Century) by switching from a dial-up ISP to DSL. AS a result, e-mail address changes are in process. Note the new e-mail address for OSCAR below. Anyone on an OSCAR e-mail list should expect to see a new e-mail address for the occasinal QST.

Repeater Coverage Maps
New coverage maps were added to the repeater page. The maps were developed by Dale WBPKG and include the .49 machine and .105 machine.

When All Else Fails
The strength of Amateur Radio and the Amateur Radio community showed up after the storms of 17-Jun. SKYWARN was active with over 30 spotters responding for Steele County, over half of which are hams. After the storms moved out of Steele County, news of the damage in the Austin area started to filter in. Steele County Emergency Management was trying to contact Austin to see if they needed any help, but could not make the connection. We were asked to make contact via Amateur Radio, and quickly succeeded in passing the message. Anyone monitoring the Austin repeaters could hear the traffic being passed as the Austin area hams assisted there with door-to-door welfare checks and a host of other activities.

DTV Afterwards From Multiple Sources
Hopefully everyone has their digital on-the-air problems resolved. One problem that people might need to solve is adding or improving their antenna. The FCC has help with coverage maps and information on antennas.

A second, much-less-discussed digital transition is already under way among the nation's cable providers. This separate upgrade may cause you to lose TV channels that you've come to expect, or to pay more in monthly equipment fees to your cable provider to get the TV--or it may render useless some of your precious home-entertainment setup. As cable companies push to achieve an all-digital world, the analog versions of existing channels are disappearing on some cable systems. Cable operators are aggressively seeking ways to free up bandwidth for high-definition broadcasts and for additional programming channels. They are also interested in finding more bandwidth for services such as games, voice communications, and interactivity. In the end, consumers will gain more access to digital services--and cable companies will have more services to offer to consumers.

Charter will offer an analog simulcast of broadcast stations. According to the company, some regions have migrated to the digital tier, but as yet it has no plans to go all-digital system wide. Charter says that it's treating the digital migration as a gradual process. A spokesperson notes that only a handful of channels have gone from analog to digital in expanded basic, but eventually all of them will migrate. "We have tried not to make any sweeping changes for our customers," the spokesperson says.

Navy/Marine MARS SK? From AR Newsline
A directive from the commander of the Naval Network Welfare Command has decided to terminate and disband Navy and Marine MARS. All Navy MARS Area Directors have been ordered to close their offices no later than 30-Sep. The Army and Air Force MARS services operate under mandate from the Department of Defense and that mandate is still valid. The Army and Air Force have stated their desire to continue their respective MARS programs.

Solar Jet Streams From Discover
We often talk about how the jet stream affects the weather patterns here. Solar jet streams exist 4,350 miles below the surface of the sun and appear to affect the solar cycle. Every 11 years, the sun simultaneously generates twin streams of plasma at each of its poles. They are magnetized and travel only toward the equator at about 10 kilometers per hour. Sunspots and a new solar cycle begin when the streams reach 22 degrees of latitude, north and south. The jet stream is currently moving slower than usual and is extending the solar minimum or quiet period. Based on the latest solar jet stream measurements, the critical latitude point is now being reached. A new start in the sunspot cycle should start very soon.

Disaster Site Communications From Science Daily
At the conclusion of the Steele County drill last year, one of the first problems noted in the debriefing was radio communication. Recent research by the NIST may provide a practical solution to a common problem in emergency communications. First responders could boost their radio communications quickly at a disaster site by setting out just four extra transmitters in a random arrangement. Since disaster sites rarely allow for niceties of design, NIST studied the benefits of a fast and imprecise technique - random placement of antennas. Researchers observed at least a 7 decibel median power gainroughly a five-fold increase in the median received power when splitting the power among four in-phase transmitting antennas, compared to using just a single transmitter. Coarse signal matching was used because the signals produced by the radio and portable transmitters need to operate at the same frequency and roughly in phase. This produced a 2.5 to 4-fold increase in the median signal at the radio receiver when using four in-phase transmitters instead of four randomly phased transmitters.

Thermoelectric Power From Tellurex
Probably not cost effective, but an interesting use of technology. This device generates electricity by using canned fuel or some other heat source, using the Seebeck effect. The Seebeck effect a discovery from the early 1800's, noting an electrical current flows in a closed loop formed from two dissimilar metal conductors. The magnitude of the current is proportional to the temperature difference where the conductors are joined together and is independent of the temperature distribution along the conductors. The PG-1 creates a temperature difference across a thermoelectric module inside the unit. The net output is approximately 0.75 Watt is adjustable from 3 to 14 VDC.

Superconducting Transistor From New Scientist
Researchers in Switzerland grew a single crystal containing two metal oxides, strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, as separate segments. At the interface of these materials, the team found a layer of free electrons called an electron gas. At 0.3 Kelvin - just above absolute zero - these electrons flow without resistance and so create a superconductor. The group says it can switch this superconductivity on and off by applying a voltage to the interface. The result is a superconducting version of the field effect transistor (FET) - a mainstay of digital electronics. The speed at which a FET can switch is limited by the resistance of the channel, which creates heat. Higher speeds create more heat until eventually the device burns out. That's why a superconducting FET could run much faster. The suggestion is that computers using such transistors would be "much faster than the gigahertz speeds currently available".

Millimeter Wave Amplifier From Science Daily
The new silicon-based amplifier operates at millimeter wave frequencies (70-110GHz) and could provide data transfer rates as fast as 10 Gigabits per second over a kilometer. The new amplifier provides both high gain and high bandwidth. The transmission line is a direct path from the input to the output that carries electromagnetic waves across the surface of a silicon chip. Using positive feedback, amplification "stages" along this transmission line boost the signal power. The periodic amplification stages along the transmission line are crucial to the amplification process. Waves are monitored as they propagate through the transmission line and energy is injected into the wave without interrupting its propagation down the transmission line.

Cell Phone TV From USA Today
Millions of consumers by year's end should be able to watch free, over-the-air television on cell phones, PDAs and other portable digital devices. Consumers with the specially equipped new receivers can watch shows in moving cars and trains. At least 63 stations in 22 cities will transmit news, entertainment and sports to portable devices this year.

EMP Weapons From New Scientist
Add another one to the list of things you may not bring onto a plane. Researchers suggest there is low cost equipment that could generate a highly energetic microwave radio pulse blasted from a device inside a plane. Aircraft are vulnerable to particular types of electromagnetic disruption. The increasing use of carbon-fibre reinforced composite in aircraft fuselages is making them more vulnerable. One researcher claims that basic EMP generators can be built from descriptions available online, using components found in devices such as digital cameras. Another researcher suggests a lot of work would need to go into dramatically decreasing the weight, shrinking the power supply and antenna down to something that could be storwed on the plane.