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PCRN: Ham Radio's Price / Performance Leader
Danny, K4ITL now has a six meter repeater on the air (53.03 MHz, input is 52.03 "standard -1 MHz offset). The repeater is located south of Raleigh, near Lake Wheeler, but not at the same site as 147.150. If you have 6M capability, give it a try. The latest report I had from Danny is that it isn't working as well as he would like (Which is still pretty good. Danny has high standards.) as there is some unaccounted for noise and interference at the site. I'm sure he'd be real interested to see how it works with some of the new tri-band portables.
Some other repeater news. Some of you may have noticed that the 147.150 talk in (and to some extent the talk out) seems to be down recently. This PCRN repeater that's used a lot by the CARC, is located on the 96.1FM tower out near Lake Wheeler on the south side of Raleigh. The normal coverage performance of this machine is somewhat of a legend. Although it's antennas (yes it has more than one, more about that in a moment) are ONLY up about 800 ft, it has coverage that compares favorably with the 146.88 repeater that's at the 1400 foot level on the WRAL-TV tower at Auburn, NC. The 147.150 repeater doesn't have a duplexer! Instead, it actually has two transmission lines and two antenna's up top. One is used for the transmitter and one is used for the receiver. The receiver also has a tower top preamplifier and bandpass filter that helps make up for the loss in the 800+ feet of cable running up the tower.
I have another motive for writing this piece of news, besides just letting you know what's going on with the repeater. It now looks like that unless we're real lucky and the repeater receiver just needs a tweak, that the real fix will probably require a trip up the tower to either repair the preamp or repair water ingress into the coax cable. It only takes a few drops of water at the connector interface to mess things up. A trip up the tower involves someone climbing 800 feet with a bag of tools, etc. Needless to say this is not for the young. Mike, WB4TQD has done this for years, and we're about the same age. I don't do this any more (even though I've lost 20 pounds recently, my desk job just doesn't provide enough physical exercise to do something like this). We probably don't have many folks in the club that have both the technical skills to fix this and the physical wherewithal to make the climb. (Now you see why big towers with elevators are real popular!). Danny mentioned to me and Bob, K4HA, that it might be time for PCRN to dip into their treasury and just hire a professional climber to fix this. Obviously this isn't for free even though this is a hobby.
So, I'd like to encourage each of you that aren't a member of PCRN to become one and help support this fantastic network of machines that these guys have put together. I have some information about the history of PCRN, the linking system, and some frequently asked questions on my web page:
Ed, AB4S (one of our CARC's finest) is the PCRN treasurer. To become a Supporting Member mail a check for at least $15 to:
P.O. Box 12734
Raleigh, NC 27605
Let's make CARC a 100% supporter of PCRN. Thanks in advance for your support. Frank, KE4ZEQ
Four hamfests have been canceled in the South Eastern United States. This, because of the overall downturn in ham radio sales and poor attendance at the shows. According to Wayne Williams, K4MOB, writing in the March issue of Repeater Journal magazine, these four are in addition to the pair of shows that were not held last year. Williams also says that four other show planners are undecided if they should go ahead later on in 1999.
Repeater Journal identifies the canceled shows as those formerly held in Concord and High Point, North Carolina, Aiken, South Carolina and Wheeling, West Virginia. The four still in doubt have not been named but Williams points out that its getting to a point where exhibitors are no longer willing to travel hundreds of miles and work thirty to forty weekends a year for less than minimum wage. (RepeaterJournal)
Repeater shut down by FCC for user abuses
The FCC's Riley Hollingsworth has temporarily shut down a San Francisco area system of repeaters. This, after telling the license holder that he is responsible for allegedly permitting unlicensed people to transmit signals through the repeaters and permitting the wrong kind of language to be retransmitted.
Bruce Wachtell, K7IJ, is the license holder of the four affected repeaters operating from atop Grizzley Peak overlooking San Francisco. In a certified letter, the Hollingsworth told Wachtell that his ham ticket could also be in jeopardy for permitting the user abuses. The FCC then proceeded to modify Wachtell's Amateur license to prohibit any form of repeater operation for 180 days. This, starting at midnight February 28th.
The FCC has also set aside the license grants of four of the repeaters users who it alleges had operated on the system before their licenses were issued. It has also warned another user about his operations on the repeaters as being in violation of the Amateur Service rules and warned a non-ham user to stop illegally operating a radio transmitter. Finally, it has begun consideration of punitive action against two of the repeater's control operators who the agency alleges have helped to foster illegal transmissions through the systems.
This is the first major VHF repeater enforcement action the FCC has taken in decades. It is also the first time in almost thirty years that a repeater license holder has been held legally responsible for the actions of his control operators, licensed users and others who transmit through his repeater.
It also appears to end the unofficial First Amendment language standard used by the FCC since the late 1970's for Amateur Repeater operation. Under it. a repeater could retransmit almost anything as long as the language used was considered acceptable to the majority in the local ham radio community. In a letter to one of the repeaters control operators, the FCC alleges that he: "has apparently not only allowed, but encouraged, use of the repeater by unlicensed operators, rebroadcast of cordless telephone calls, playing of music, and profanity and obscenity."
This definitely is a shift in the paradigm. No word from any of those affected if they plan any appeal. FCC)
Repossessed police radios
Police in the city of Miami, Oklahoma were forced to the 11 meter Citizens band a few weeks ago. This after the North-East Electric Cooperative repossessed the agency's repeater system for non payment of a bill.
According to Sheriff Jack Harkins, his office purchased the repeater from the co-op in 1997. He said that from the moment it had been put in service it was a troublesome unit that required an enormous amount of maintenance. So before paying the $2,100 cost of the machine, the Sheriff wanted it to work properly.
But the co-op wanted payment and sent a bill. When the utility did not receive its payment on the date demanded, it went up to the site and took back the repeater. A spokesmen for the North-East Oklahoma Electric Cooperative said that the repeater was not actually removed from the site. It was simply made inoperative until the police paid the bill. The police did and the repeater sprang to life again some 24 hours after it was taken off the air. (KB0STN)
The United States Postal Service is reportedly investigating about a half a dozen U.S. hams for alleged postal fraud. This, involving the way that they allegedly prepared Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes sent to QSL managers of DX'peditions.
The inspectors are trying to determine if the hams deliberately misplaced postal stamps in such a way as to avoid being automated canceled and making them re-usable at a later date.
The investigation is being coordinated by the Postal Inspector in Phoenix, Arizona where the alleged fraud was uncovered. The inquiry reportedly includes radio amateurs residing in New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky and Florida. A number of overseas hams are also alleged to have taken part in the scheme.
CARC Meeting Minutes - February 25
Meeting opened at 7:32 p.m., by Pres., Charles, KE4CDI. All introduced themselves.
South Eastern Repeater Association (SERA) - Frank, KE4ZEQ, talked about what SERA is, the extent of its area served (eight states!!!), how you could support it.
Treasurer's Report - Will, K4IWW, reported was: Savings, $1,210.83; Checking, $1,262.33; C-O-H, $7.00; Total, $2,480.16. Dues are due (!?!?) at the March meeting, Thursday, March 25. The entire Cary Community Center has been reserved for Friday evening, July 16, and Saturday, July 17, ALL DAY!
American Radio Relay League (ARRL) - Reed, AB4W, NC Section Manager, said there would be an important meeting at the Charlotte HAMFEST, Saturday, March 13. The organizations served - Red Cross, Emergency preparedness, etc., will be there to present how they can work with the Amateur community during an emergency. Ought to be a very informative meeting. // Tornado season is starting in March. // The NC QSO Party is on this weekend. Jump in and put NC on the map. Bob, K4HA, handed out paperwork for use during the QSO Party.
Piedmont-Coastal Repeater Network (PCRN) - (See report above.) Mention was made of the "rule" that every Amateur who uses repeaters locally, should support their own repeater. Then, they will feel more comfortable using a
repeater away from their home territory. The PCRN does a great job of keeping many repeaters up and running. The labor is donated, BUT the equipment does require some monies. The minimum suggested annual donation is: $15.
Will, K4IWW, reported on a meeting about the SWAPFEST at the QTH of Tom, KM4LB. The questions decided were: keep the Flea Market, but require each person getting one or more spaces to purchase an indoor ticket; have one prize - an HF rig (probably an IC-706); work hard to rent all tables; charge $5 to enter the Flea Market area; engage more commercial vendors to sell more tables; print Tickets in time for sale at the Charlotte Hamfest; do a
better job of the mailing; send a packet of flyers to Clubs in the area; send several complimentary tickets to the same Clubs; put some publicity in the Cary News emphasizing the VE exams and the used equipment for sale; decide if a shuttle between parking lots and the Center is workable.
At the close of the meeting, a note of appreciation from the Austin family was read to the Club thanking the Club for support and help during the funeral of Jim Marino, Sr., WB2RQF.
Remember: Dues are due in March! Pay by check and avoid the confusion.
Please mark June 26-27, 1999 on your calendars. THAT IS FIELD DAY WEEKEND!!! W3HL
Repeater jammer websites targeted
The nations repeater owner operators have targeted a pair of Internet Service Providers who are hosting websites that appear to promote jamming of repeaters and harassment of law abiding hams. The repeater owners want the sites off the web now.
The grass roots protest campaign began last week after information regarding the two URL's was posted to the Repeater Owners reflector. One site is located on the East coast. The other appears to be hosted in the San Francisco bay area. Both seem to carry the message that jamming is a constitutionally protected freedom of expression. And in both cases the site sponsors have gone to great length to amass and publish information on those hams who are dedicated to tracking down that areas repeater jammers and getting those operators taken off the air.
The nations repeater owners look at these websites and the activity they promote as an organized threat to Amateur Radio relay communications. They want the host Internet Service Providers to remove these sites from their servers.
Jammers cont. Copies of the protest letters are also being sent to FCC jammer fighting point man Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH.
And this just in. One of the subscribers on the Repeater Owners remailer reports success in getting the Lycos Search engine to drop the listing for the alleged East coast pro-jamming website. (Newsline from Repeater Owners Reflector)
Stuff for Hams
From Newington comes word that all back issues of its popular QST magazine are now available in a CD-ROM collection that begins with the issues from 1915. Included on each of the Microsoft Windows compatible disks are all the articles, columns, covers and even the ads. Each set of CD's has an index to aid in finding the page or section of the issue you want to view or print. For more information visit the Leagues website. Its at: www.arrl.org/catalog
The February issue of the Smithsonian's Air and Space magazine features an article on contacting the Mir via ham radio. Check out: www.airspacemag.com for more.
Here's a story of a ham trying to sell his radio and a newspaper that just could not get the ad right. Graham Kemp, VK4BB of Q-News says that this one will leave you laughing.
The VK6 Radio Oldtimers Club has forwarded the following which is an advertisement from a local newspaper which appeared four days in a row - the last three hopelessly trying to correct the first days mistake.
MONDAY: For sale: R.D. Jones has one FT 101 Radio for sale. Phone after 7:00 PM and ask for Mrs Kelly who lives with him. Cheap.
TUESDAY: We regret having erred in R.D. Jones ad yesterday. It should have read, One FT 101 Radio cheap. Phone and ask for Mrs Kelly, who lives with him after 7:00 PM.
WEDNESDAY: R.D. Jones has informed us that he has received several annoying phone calls because of
the error we made in yesterdays classified ad. The ad stands correct as follows: For sale - R.D.Jones
has one FT 101 Radio for sale cheap. Phone after 7:00 PM and ask for Mrs Kelly who loves with him ...
THURSDAY: I, R.D. Jones, have no FT 101 Radio for sale. I smashed it. Don't call again as I have had the phone Disconnected. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my house keeper but she quit!.
All this goes to prove that a Swapmeet might be the safest way to sell your unwanted gear. (Q-News)
Ham Radio at the NAB
Ham radio will be in evidence at the 1999 National Association of Broadcasters Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gathering is slated for the Las Vegas Convention Center and several area hotels from April 19th to the 22nd. Ham radio will be in evidence in several areas. The American Radio Relay League will have a booth headed up by Bill Cornelius, KC7GHX, of Henderson, Nevada.
Also in attendance will be several Newsline staffers who work for broadcast related companies. And last but not least there will be the traditional Ham Radio Reception on Wednesday evening April 21st. This gathering is literally a mini two hour hamfest unto itself with about 600 in attendance each year.
And if you have a hand held or mobile radio with you, the frequencies to remember are 146.94 on 2 meters and 449.700 MHz on UHF.