January / February 2012                                                                                                                          Volume 2, Issue 1
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A Winter Meeting Place
Thursdays at Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 22
by Tim Watson

For those who like meeting more frequently like we do in the summer at Wassamki Springs, we've continued the tradition by getting together at the Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 22 (73 County Road, in Westbrook) from 7PM-9PM on the "off" Thursdays.

Frank Allen, KA1QW describes the Thursday night get together as an "informal meeting," where we can build comraderie and talk about whatever comes to mind... Sometimes that involves ham radio and sometimes it doesn't.

Dunkin Donuts

Last Thursday we actually did talk radio, though. Dave, KB1FGF, brought in an AES catalog and was researching which new HF antenna to buy. This led to a debate about just what antenna designs are the best, and by the end of the discussion, we agreed that the only way to know for sure is to put the darn thing up in the air and try it. It it works, its a good design. Charlie, W1CPS talked about discovering an old Heathkit at a local antique shop, but unfortunately, when he looked at it more closely, he determined it was beyond hope. He's still be interested in picking something up to restore in the near future. Frank, KA1QW talked about practically everything else, including operating JT65, but the most interesting was when he described the process of manufacturing tantalum capacitors and writing a software program to improve the yield.

In previous weeks, we discussed the possibility of "spontaneous" field operations, where we could set up in a local park or public space and have fun making contacts, while showing off ham radio in the process. Rory, KB1PLY brought up the possibility of operating mobile from a rail bike. Most of us had no idea what he was taking about - a few even said he lost his mind, but thanks to the help of a YouTube video, we, at least now now, what a rail bike is. Click here to see the video.

So, if you don't have anything else to do on a Thursday during the winter, stop by Dunkin Donuts and join us for a coffee, some laughs, and an altogether great way to pass the time.

Getting Started with
A useful resource for operating digital modes
by Tim Watson 

One of the of the most useful websites I've come across, especially for identifying and locating various digital activity, is The website, designed and maintained by Laurie Cowcher of Chirnside Park, Victoria, in Australia, is a valuable resource for monitoring digital clubs, scheduling QSO's, and tracking down activity on new or rarely used digital modes.

So, here's how to use it... Say, you're all set up for Feld Hell and you're having trouble finding someone to have a QSO with, or you remembered hearing something about a net, but you're not sure when it is. lists club activity for a number of digital modes clubs. From the homepage, just click "Digital Clubs" and then select "FH, Feld Hell Club." What follows is a list of all the recent activity by Feld Hell Club members. Another way to track down activity by mode is to click "Digital Modes" at the top of the screen and select either "All Modes" or a specific mode on the drop down bar.

Feld Hell Club

We'll choose "RTTY" for an example. What we find is "Local Spots and Skeds" in the left-hand column, which is where users can post messages and schedule QSO's. On the right is the "Cluster Spots," listed with the most recent on top, and organized by colors. Each color tells you which band the call sign was spotted on. Details include call sign, location, and what time it was last spotted.

The website has other uses as well. It allows you to search a particular call sign to check where they're operating, or what his or her favorite modes might be. You can also check your own call sign to see where you're being heard. This is a great way to check propagation, or to determine which antenna to use. It does have its down sides, though. I can't tell you how many times I've called CQ on RTTY and not heard anyone answer, only to find that I was spotted by 200 stations! Of course, many of those stations may be setup to automatically spot, so maybe half the world was asleep...

Another useful feature is the ability to determine whether or not a particular operator is signed up for either LoTW or eQSL, which comes in handy when you're trying to track down a few elusive ones for that next award. If you click the "LoTW & eQSL" tab at the top of the page, it shows links to LoTW and eQSL "cluster spots," and allows for a search of either the LoTW or eQSL lists of active calls. 

In all, is an excellent resource, and I reccommend it to anyone who's active on the digital modes.

For Sale
Many items for sale, including Mosley Classic 36b Tri band yagi, Ten Tec Model 544 transceiver, Astatic Model D104, Bencher paddle, and more. All in great working condition. Call for details and pricing: Ernie Bourgon, KI1B at 207  563-2398.

WinterFest 2012 - February 4, 2012 - Location: Augusta, ME. Type: ARRL Hamfest. Sponsor: Augusta Amateur Radio Association. Contact: Bill Crowley, K1NIT, 207-623-9075 or [email protected] or click here for more info.

Vermont State Convention - February 25, 2012 - Location: South Burlington, VT. Type ARRL Convention. Sponsor: Radio Amateurs of Northern Vermont. Click here for more info.

WRTC 2014

You Can Help
items for trade
If you have any items for trade, contact one of our members to have it listed here. Send an email to: [email protected] with a brief description and contact information. 
If you offer any ham radio related services, for example, if you repair meters or radios, build your own transmitters, make QSL cards to order, or rebuild microphones, you may list these services here.

If there are any items you may be looking for, use this space to get the word out. Just send an email to [email protected], or mention it at an upcoming meeting.

Don't forget the ARRL School Club Roundup - week of February 13-17th. For more information, click here.
All advertisements are listed for FREE. Advertising shall pertain to products and services which are related to amateur radio. No advertisement may use more than 40 words. Please send a description of items for sale, wants, or services to Thom Watson at [email protected], or bring it to an upcoming meeting of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine. All ads will be printed one time, unless renewed.
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