A model for other schools


Rick Vale, KM6VU



This article is reprinted from Worldradio, December 1997 issue.


A longtime oft-heard battle cry in Amateur Radio is, "We've got to get the young people involved." For the most part, lip service is where the effort ends.


However, there are those (a few) who do have that extra push. There is a phrase, "giving something back," which is talking about not just enjoying the pleasure but in some manner paying for it. We found an amateur who feels that obligation and the following is in his words.


As a school teacher, and since Amateur Radio is my hobby, I'm always looking for ways to get students interested in Amateur Radio. There are a lot of kids interested in this hobby, and a lot of adults, too. The problem always seems to be finding the time to learn what has to be acquired in order to get a license.


This year my school (James Rutter Middle School) is offering special interest classes during an extra class period held prior to the beginning of the regular school day. These classes include French, Computer Web Page design, Beginning Guitar, and a host of other classes not offered during the normal School day. Well, I got the chance to teach a class during this early class period, so naturally I applied to teach Amateur Radio.


My proposal for the radio class was approved and during September I taught the class. All of these special classes are for just one month -- 20 school days -- so I didn't have much time to cover as much material as I would have liked.


The class concentrated on learning the International Morse Code. The students, with an audio oscillator, could send CW messages back and forth across the room. We also studied the content of the Novice exam. I wanted to see if any of the kids could pass a simulated Novice exam by the end of the 20 days. Since I had a limited budget (OK, I had no money at all) I got a lot of my material from the Internet.


Designed as part of the GATE curriculum at the school (Gifted And Talented Education), this program offers GATE students a different class before school each month of the school year. These are enrichment classes that do not appear in the normal school curriculum. This is great for both students and teachers because the teachers get to teach things that are hobbies for them, and the students get something new and exciting each month that is normally not found in the curriculum. Examples include: aviation, Italian, debate, beginning guitar, journalism, economics, gourmet science, etc.


In addition to learning the code and concentrating on the content of the Novice exam question pool, I took my radios in and we listened the Ham bands. I have a 120-ft. 80M dipole on the roof over my classroom and also a 2M J-pole. We made simplex contacts around Sacramento on 2 Meters with Walt Vale, KE6FCI and Tammy Vale, KC6SCS. Two of the students in the class have an uncle, Bob Crossley, WA6KHI, who lives here in town, and we contacted him on 146.880 via the Stockton WA6TCG Central Valley VHF FM Club repeater. While we were on the repeater, we also conversed with Les Raines, WB9SEZ, in Clements.  On 80 Meters we talked to Ed Stribling, WB6ZJQ, near the Oregon border at Willow Ranch and on 40 Meters had a nice chat with Bob Hopkins, K7PE in Northern Idaho, the grandfather of one of the students is in the class!


We used the Internet to access the Ham question pool and look up call signs when we heard them. As the class ended we used some practice exams found on Internet web sites.


There were only 12 kids in the class, but they all scored high on the simulated Novice exam. Three passed very easily. Eight students can copy code at 5 wpm! They're on their way to a VE exam!


About the author: Rick Vale, KM6VU, teaches in the Elk Grove Unified School District located just south of Sacramento, CA. He has taught for 24years. Presently a math teacher, Rick has also taught music.  Despite his interest in Amateur Radio since he was a youngster, he didn't have the opportunity to get his license until 1989. First licensed as KC6CAF, Rick now holds an Advanced ticket. When he was first licensed he got his feet wet right away working the Loma Prieta earthquake in October 1989, at the Fairgrounds shelter in Watsonville, handling traffic between the Red Cross in Santa Cruz and the volunteers operating the shelter at the fairgrounds. He has worked the Sacramento Marathon several times, the California Marathon, Eppie's  Great Race, the old Camellia parade in Sacramento, and has worked Walk America many times.


As a member of the North Hills Radio Club, Rick has served as Vice President and is the current editor of the monthly club newsletter, On Frequency. He also edits the club newsletter webpage for Club Webmaster Carl Schultz, WF6J. The North Hills club webpage is at http://www.ns.Net/~NHRC


Rick has his own web page. He says it's nothing fancy, but it has maintains for school and personal use. They're all linked from http://www.ns.net/~rvale












Staying Active –

Being Involved

By Jerry Wellman, W7SAR



This article is reprinted from the June 2001 issue of Worldradio.


A friend passed away this past week, and in her passing perhaps I could pass along an observation. Alta Miller had just turned 97. She had never married, with speculation being she could not find anyone that was able to keep up with her busy schedule. She was a life-long educator and earned her Master's degree at Columbia University way back when it was unusual for a woman to even attend college. I won't attest to her driving abilities but she continued to drive until she was almost 96. She was tireless and had more energy at 95 than most of us have at 35.


About a month ago, Alta fell in her home and broke several bones in her neck. Following surgery, she was confined to a bed with a "halo" device that would keep her head and neck from moving to ensure proper healing of the bones. While she would joke and make light of the restraint, it was clear that she was in pain possibly more so because of her energetic personality. While the official cause of death was listed as natural causes incident to age, it is very possible her death was due to her being unable to be up and about. With Alta, being 30 minutes early to an event was, to her. "on time." I don't believe I ever heard of her sitting still for any length of time. She either outlived or wore out everyone she grew up with, yet the church was filled with friends for her funeral.


I cannot recall Alta ever complaining, but in the times she felt life wasn't going her way, her solution was to be of service to someone else. She would go and be a friend to someone. Isn't that the essence of Amateur Radio and public service to forget one's own

challenges in life as we find ways to serve others? Over the past few days, I've been thinking -- when disasters strike, some of the first to volunteer are Amateur Radio operators. Whether it is an earthquake, power outage, hurricane, tornado, flood, etc., one can with almost certainty find information via Amateur Radio.


It is my belief (your choice whether simply physical, mental, or religious) that through service we are renewed. We are energized. We are healthier. We are happier. It is a good thing to be anxiously engaged in a good cause.


They didn't call us!

One often heard complaint if you will, is that an agency didn't call out a volunteer group to assist with some particular emergency or public event. My return is a question: Of what value would your group have been? Often, the response is, "I don't know." With some discussion we arrive at the conclusion that the agency simply didn't need the group's services.


I sometimes find the attitude that as a volunteer, we're somehow entitled to be on the

“A “ list of responders, no matter what the event. In a broad perspective, you can always argue that a group could contribute something,  but in reality, often the contribution is unneeded due to the nature of the event.


It's even been apparent that an attitude exists among a group that if they have a radio, an ID badge; and some type of a uniform, they should be on the front line. To understand if your group suffers from this type of thinking, take time at your next gathering to play a case study game. Over the next few weeks (or months), clip articles from your local newspaper concerning various events emergency and non-emergency. I would include items such as sports events, weather events, natural hazards, accidents of all types, and perhaps even public disturbances such as demonstrations and riots.


Now you role play. Ask various members of your group to be the mayor, or the governor, fire chief, police chief, or rescue leader. List elements of the event on a chalk board and then pose questions of the "dignitaries" as to how your group would be able to assist in the particular event. Now modify the event and reconsider your questions. Let me give you an example.


Consider a train derailment. Let's say it's a freight train with 50 cars and it's happened in a remote area. You might ask the "sheriff" and the "railroad official" how you could be of assistance. Would they need communications to the site? What types of volunteers would they need? You don't need to have any "derailment" expertise, just use your imagination and ponder what you might do with these few details.


Then change the scenario. The train was carrying hazardous materials. The train has contaminated water supplies. The train was carrying explosive materials. Then change the location and put it closer to a population center. Then make it a passenger train with minor injuries. Make the injuries more serious and increase the number of passengers. Put some hazardous materials in the baggage car. Do you get the concept? Use the discussion to focus on whether or not your group could be of value in thc given situation.


What I predict you'll discover is that you're prepared and would be of some value in some situations and that others would pose serious risk to you and your group because your capabilities would not be of value under those conditions. For example, would you want t be on the front lines of a hazardous chemical spill?  I don't think so, but would you

be of value relaying weather reports from perimeter areas to the command center? If there were people evacuated, could you assist a group such as the Red Cross in keeping track of shelter capacity and relaying requests from relatives as to the location of those relocated?


In any given event, your group may or may not be of value. As you explore the various scenarios you've clipped from the paper, you'll come to a better understanding of your value as you place yourself in the "decision maker role" such as a mayor or police chief. We often fail to grasp the whole picture, and I'll also make the statement, officials also fail to understand what value your group might be to them. It's much better to approach an agency prior to an event and pose your value to them under various circumstances.


Telephone information

I received quite a few messages concerning telephone line simulators. One of the best simulators around is the "Party-Line" available from Digital Products Company, 134 Windstar Circle, Folsom, California 95630 USA (Te1:916/985-7219). You can find them on the Internet as well. This simulator allows six analog phones to be connected and each has its own unique phone number. The only drawback is that it requires 14 volts AC to operate, but you can find a DC to AC converter that will make it play in the field as it needs less than half an amp current.


From the number of messages, there is certainly interest in such a field device and I was also impressed with the ways many of you told me you'd put it to use and under various circumstances, Bravo! You're using your brain for more than a hat rack. Isn't it neat to discover some goodie and then apply it to a problem that makes things work  smoothly!


One additional note. The Party-line To simulator comes as a kit which is great for Amateur Radio operators who don't get the chance to assemble a rather complex item such as this. The instruction manual is great, it goes together in one or two evenings. If you take your time, it will work first time! I didn't purchase the enclosure, as I wanted to make mine customized for a particular application and also wanted it in a weather-proof box. That too, is part of the challenge as you take this simulator and customize it for your

own needs.

A final thought

If you get the chance, teach your group how to solder. It's becoming a lost art. There are so many projects and kits on the market that I'm sure you can find something of interest as a group project to build. Even something such as a regulated power supply to charge your stand-by battery pack (you do have one don't you?) is a commendable undertaking.


One of the most fun things my son Zach and I built was a lO-minute ID timer. It sits on the table at eve level and every 10 minutes a small light comes on to remind me it's time to identify my station during a contact. He and I found the schematic, purchased the parts, built an enclosure, and had a great time soldering it and testing it. It has some count-down LEDs that indicate one-minute intervals and not only is it useful, the goodie looks impressive.


I'm often sad when someone calls me to fix a microphone connector or solder a power connector. It's not difficult, but for some reason it's intimidating to many operators. Soldering irons are not expensive and with one or two basic projects under your belt, you'll be able to tackle your own minor repairs. I might also add that a co-worker to ask if I knew a good plumber to replace a section of line on his hot water heater inlet. Apparently the pipe was defective and had a pin-hole leak. The commercial shops he called were somewhat expensive in their "over the phone" estimates, so he thought I might know a friend who wasn't as pricey.


As you might suspect, I volunteered to help him. My expertise? Not plumbing, but building copper pipe j-pole antennas. Having learned how to solder pipes (using silver solder) for antennas, I had the tools and expertise to attempt this minor plumbing task. ! even had scraps of pipe and various fittings and was glad to be of service and clean out some of my experimenter parts. There is value in Amateur Radio construction (and having an active imagination) to be of practical benefit around the house.


--Jerry Wellman, W7SAR, our doodad wearin' SAR columnist can be reached by sending snail mail to: P.O. Box 11445, Salt Lake City, UT 84147 or by sending e-mail to [email protected].






Pete, N2PYV


The meeting was called to order by Pat at 6:32 PM. All present introduced themselves.




Finances continue to be in good shape.



Gordon, KB2UB

We have to get our equipment off the roof of Plant 5 in the next few weeks. Tomorrow the antenna tower on Plant 14 will be lowered for inspection and installation of a new antenna. We will probably install a Comet X500 antenna temporarily until we can get the Stationmaster antenna down from the Plant 5 roof. We will try not to interrupt the Bethpage Repeater for longer than necessary.




The Wednesday 20 Meter Net was OK with 4 check-ins. The Thursday 2 Meter Net will be placed on hold temporarily because there is no one available to lead it. The Sunday Morning 40 Meter Net continues to go well.



Bob. W2ILP

There were 3 applicants and 4 VE’s present. Two applicants made General and one made Extra.



Bob, W2FPF

No Activity




Pat, KE2LJ

Pat had a talk with the Plant 14 Facilities people. The carpet is bad in the new trailer that we will be moving into. Attempts to repair it were held up because the trailer was locked when the repairperson arrived. The room in the new trailer will be on the north end. A room about 12 ft. X 23 ft. will be walled off.

We need to get everything ready to move out of Plant 5 by the end of the holiday week. Small stuff will have to be boxed. Everything that is going will have to be tagged. Movers will move the stuff.

The tower at Hauppaugue needs to be painted but Northrop/Grumman does not want to do it. We will have to wait and see how this plays out.






Field Day was the topic of discussion. Pat met with the Town Supervisor and he was given a proclamation.

We need to read the rules for field day and note any changes. Pat will have a trailer ready at 3:15 PM at his hose to move the equipment. We will begin setting up at 9:00 AM on Saturday. It looks like we will be using an 80 Meter dipole and the tribander.

Meeting was closed at 7:20 PM.








Just got back from a short vacation yesterday. Went to visit my son who lives in Indiana.


When I tried to get my E-mail my computer could not log on. Tried to get onto the internet and got the same results. Used Juno and everything worked perfect. So my problem was with Mind Spring my internet server.


Called the company and after two hours on the phone got the problem partially solved. Can now get my E-mail and access the internet.


The error message I was getting said the internet computer was not recognizing my password.


The tech I spoke with said my password and user name were listed correctly on his end and that there was nothing wrong with my dial up system but I still could not connect.


After a few gyrations we created a new dial up network that worked. So now I can get my E-mail and get on to the internet.


The Editor, KA2FEA