Jul 11

Fellow hams:

My name is John Ralston, K0RVB, Net manager for the San Antonio Area Rainfall Net. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I send you the following official communication.

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Sunday, July 13th, 2014, will be the last day for the rainfall net.  This decision did not come easily, was not made quickly and involved a great deal of communication with the National Weather Service and board members of the net’s sponsor, the San Antonio Radio Club.

nwscocorahsThe decision to end the net was based solely on our data presentation to the NWS and how they receive their main data stream for daily rainfall amounts. Their main source of receiving daily, timely rainfall data is from CoCoRaHs, a web based reporting model, giving the NWS real time data on a 24 hr model from 8a to 8a.

I encourage each of you to sign up with CoCoRaHs, at http://www.cocorahs.org/ if you have not already done so. Our rainfall reports can still be utilized by the NWS by reporting through the website.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 4

fcc-transThe FCC is requesting to raise the Amateur Service vanity call sign regulatory fee from its current $16.10 to $21.60 for the 10-year license term. The $5.50 increase would be the largest vanity fee hike in many years. The proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), “Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2014; Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for Fiscal Year 2013; and Procedures for Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees,” which appeared in The Federal Register on July 3.

The FCC reported there were 11,500 “payment units” in FY 2014. The Commission said the vanity program generated $230,000 in FY 2013 revenue, and it estimated that it would collect nearly $248,000 in FY 2014.

Interested parties have 30 days to comment on the NPRM. Changes in the vanity call sign fee typically take effect in late August or early September

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Jun 24

Howdy!

I’d like to personally invite you to attend the 48th Annual Central States VHF Conference.

If you’ve ever wondered about what it takes to get on the VHF/UHF and Microwave bands, this is an excellent conference to attend. You’ll want to attend our VHF-101 introductory class. This year’s conference theme is QRO, or making high power on the VHF and up bands. We have an impressive list of speakers supporting this topic and many other topics including oscillator design, antenna construction, station design and construction.

We’ve poked, prodded and twisted arms to get THREE unique speakers this year:

  •  - Gerald Youngblood, K5SDR, from FlexRadio Systems presents an analysis of system noise and its effect on station performance at the Friday luncheon
  • - Jim Klitzing, W6PQL, from Klitzing Electronics will discuss component selection for projects at the Saturday luncheon
  • - Our banquet speaker is Jimmy Treybig, W6JKV. Jimmy has done over SEVENTY six and two-meter DXpeditions to over 50 countries. He’ll be sharing his perspectives on family and DXpeditions.

The conference will feature noise figure and gain measurement, sun noise measurement, prizes, a rover-row and dish-bowl, a swap fest and an excellent lineup of vendors.

The family program starts off on Thursday evening with a chartered boat tour including a meet-and-greet with a catered BBQ dinner and an opportunity to watch one of the largest colonies of Mexican Free-Tailed bats emerge for their evening dinner run. Even though you live here in Austin, you may not have had an opportunity to take one of these boat trips and having done one last year, I must say they are a lot of fun and not to be missed! Please note: the boat trip is filling up fast so if you are interested in this trip, register ASAP!

On Friday, the ladies program ventures out to Fredericksburg for shopping, wine tasting and to soak up the culture and then on Saturday on to the Natural Bridge Caverns for a tour of the underground caves and on to the San Marcos Premium Outlets for more shopping.

The RMG team has worked hard to make sure you and your family will have a blast at the conference. But we know that even with all the fun and education we’ve lined up, the big draw is you: other hams from in and out of the area travel to this conference to meet up with others that are doing unique things in the VHF world and they want to get an opportunity to talk with you about your exciting projects and plans. Please join us for the fun! To find out all the details on everything I’ve mentioned, visit the link below:

http://www.csvhfs.org/2014conference

Then, register today for the conference:
http://www.csvhfs.org/2014conference/2014Registration.html

It’s important to register early so we can have adequate transportation for the family events.

JULY 2nd is the deadline to get conference discounted hotel rooms.
http://www.csvhfs.org/2014conference/lodging.html

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us an email and we’ll get right back to you (austin2014@n5ac.com).

73′s and see you in Austin!
Steve Hicks, N5AC
2014 CSVHFS President

Be sure to join us at the 48th Annual CSVHF Conference on July 24-27 in Austin, TX. Visit www.csvhfs.org for more information.

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Jun 11

Field Day is coming up soon, on June 28-29th, so here are a few thoughts (and facts) as you plan your group’s operation.

A FEW TIPS FOR ANY FIELD DAY OPERATION – I’ve posted some of this before but I think they should be repeated. (I’ve updated them a bit for 2014) 1. When setting up antennas within close proximity: If you are using wire antennas such as dipoles, and they run parallel to each other there will be interference on your HF operating bands in the form of hash so arrange them at right angles to each other and at slightly different heights.

If you use wire antennas such as dipoles, try to stay away from trap dipoles and use full length antennas instead. You may also wish to run your dipoles in different configurations such as have one as an “inverted V” and another as a sloper, etc. An antenna cut to the exact band you are using will decrease interference to and from other bands.

Do not compromise by using trap or “all band” antennas. (The only efficient “all band antennas” are a log periodic and a “fan dipole” NOT a “folded dipole” or others that claim they use “balancing resistors” as this only wastes RF energy in the form of heat.) With others you may make a few contacts, but they are junk and will cause harmonic radiation. Do not fall for any ads claiming “miracle antennas”.

Don’t waste your watts! Dedicated operating needs the right antenna. Wasted energy on trap antennas (some of your RF energy is used up in the form of heat) and that equals an inefficient radiator, especially as you go lower in frequency. On HF, try not to use vertical antennas as they receive too much man-made noise from sources such as generators, street lamps, etc.

Using a Yagi style antenna for Field Day may look impressive, but be careful that the “focused energy” doesn’t interfere with other operations. Know as well, that transmitting focused energy may be all well and good, but it, in receiving signals it can also make your station “deaf” from directions so you may have to waste time turning the beam…. is it worth it? —–  READ ON, THERE’S LOTS MORE INFO! —-

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May 26

skywarn_noaa_trainedHere is a link to a movie trailer I made from video and photos of my Skywarn Spotting Activities over the past year.

The movie, music and titling was all done on my iPhone 5 using iMovie… it’s simple easy to make you just drag and drop the files you want. it creates the audio, transitions and titling for you.

This version has been updated to remove reference to a specific local ham club and local ARES group at their request.

I hope you enjoy watching it, as much as we did making it.

Matthew Rottman K5NON
MPR Photography
Bicycling for the Heck Blog

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May 23

NEW FUSION DIGITAL REPEATER SYSTEM IS NOW ON THE AIR – 443.025 PL 82.5
by Greg Lewis, N5XO

This repeater will replace the current UHF repeater (on same frequency) running at the American Red Cross HQ on East Houston Street & Commerce, near IH-10, on the east side of San Antonio, Texas.

GREAT news is that a 2 Meter VHF version of the Fusion System is planned for mid-summer 2014 “on the air” date.

Yaesu’s entry into the Digital Market is fantastic. Fusion is every thing that D-Star is not. The best part is the repeater supports both Analog, Wide Digital {fantastic audio} Narrow Voice and The Fusion repeater will auto switch between modes allowing all parties to communicate.  Data. Full GPS tracking and very soon it will be linked to a national Fusion Network.

Yaesu_DR-1_Digital_Repeater

We recommend that you research online for more information on Yaesu’s new Fusion radio system.

Important Operating Notes:

  • The Repeater is currently running low power until we can replace the Duplexers. Our current duplexers were limited in power, N5XO have the replacement duplexers and will try to tune them and get them on the air ASAP allowing us to turn the repeater to full power.
  • Because this repeater operates Analog and Digital, we recommend Analog users set not only the PL Tone of 82.5 but your Squelch tone as well to 82.5  This will eliminate RF HASH.

IF YOU HAVE ONE OF THE NEW YAESU DIGITAL RADIO’S

  • FT-400DR Mobile rig
  • FT1-DR HT

Hop on over to our upgrading Repeater and give your rig a work out.

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May 23

Beaumont_ARC_Balloon_Launch_LogoThe Beaumont Amateur Radio Club will be launching another High Altitude Near Space Balloon on Saturday, May 31, 2014 around 8am.  

Actual launch time will very, depending on launch preparations and weather conditions that morning.

Launch site will be the Beaumont Municipal Airport, 455 Keith Road at Hwy 90 (College Street), Beaumont, Texas

Pay Load Includes:

  • APRS/GPS positioning/locating for altitude, direction, distance and speed. Can watch this info live via RF or from www.aprs.fi.  Call sign for the balloon will be W5RIN-8.   Here is a direct link.. http://aprs.fi/#!mt=roadmap&z=11&call=a%2FW5RIN-8&timerange=3600&tail=3600
  • Telemetry to monitor Package Temperature, Ambient Temperature, Battery Voltage
  • HAM Radio Live Feed TV Camera (Slow scan TV?)
  • HAM Radio Cross Band Repeater:
    • Uplink to Balloon: 446.000 MHz
    • Down Link from Balloon: 146.565 MHz

More information about past balloon launches by the Beaumont Amateur Radio Club can be found online at http://www.qsl.net/w5rin/

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May 16

theifTo all radio operators,

I am posting this report of two “missing” Heath Kit SB-220 amplifiers and some other ham radio equipment that was recently “borrowed without permission of the owner”.  One of the Heath Kit SB-220 amps has WA5JDU call sign edged on the bottom plate.

In addition, I’m also looking for a “missing” ICOM 766 PRO loaded with filters and a “missing” 30S1 Collins AMP., TS-430S, TS-440s, and other miscellaneous items. I have most of the serial numbers for the missing ham radio gear.

I would ask that anyone who knows anything about this “missing” equipment to please contact me via e-mail at n5wsw@yahoo.com.

No Charges, will be filed on those who purchased the equipment, but I would ask for a signed statement of whom you purchased in from, there is an on-going investigation regarding a complete Amateur Radio Station.   Just want to confirm who you, purchased the equipment from and who you paid.

Thank you, all!

Don, N5WSW
n5wsw@yahoo.com

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May 11

ntslogoThe San Antonio Central Texas Traffic Net has been restored and operating on 443.025 with a PL of 82.5. The Net requires activity and support to restore to full operational capability and recognition. Even if you do not have traffic to pass, please sign in for the count to help get the net back off the ground.  The repeater is located at the San Antonio American Red Cross HQ on the east side of San Antonio.

Do you have a message that’s just got to get through?  Is that special someone waiting to hear from you?  Well, come on up to the Alamo Traffic Net and let us help.  We have connections to the outside world through the 7290 Traffic Net, the Texas Traffic Net and even the CW traffic.

Call us on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays at 1900hrs, on 443.025 + 82.5.  We use the standard ARRL Traffic format so keep your message short (25 words or less) and sweet.  When you call, use ITU phonetics for your call sign and we’ll talk to you.

There will be some future nets to train on the proper method to pass traffic and opportunity for people to sent some messages out to learn and operate.

BTW, you don’t have to have a message, we’d just like to hear from you.  Come on up and get on the count.

History: In years past, the Central Texas Traffic Net was held nightly on the 147.14 Buzzard’s Roost repeater located east of Canyon Lake. However when the repeater’s aging Heliax (coax) deteriorated to the point of making this strong repeater almost worthless in coverage area, the net was discontinued.  Several other repeaters were tried, but none had the coverage area (from Austin to San Antonio and beyond), so eventually the net was dropped.  The Daytime Texas Traffic Net continues to be on HF 7.285 in the mornings (Monday thru Saturday, 8:30-9:30am CT).  More information can be found on Facebook or  their website… http://www.daytimetexastrafficnet7285.org/

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May 6

John David Watkins aka White NoiseBackground info: John David Watkins is a ~30 something year old man, former security guard, still living with his mother.  He is non-licensed operator who has been caught jamming other licensed ham radio operators on both simplex and various repeaters as far back as November 2012.  His interference has continued thru present day, with only a few periods of relatively silence while he obtained a new radio.  He has now had 2 HT ham radios confiscated by police, each time after denying that he had a ham radio.

He has been caught repeatedly interfering with ham radio operations during the past 2 Rock & Roll Marathons, including one year (2012) where he interfered with emergency radio traffic happening (runner down) during the event. He was recorded making sexually implicit comments about the female runners and the female ham operators working the event.  During the 2013 R&R Marathon event, we had to change repeaters to be able to conduct our operations during the race because of his repeated interference.

He also made multiple harassing phone calls to hams last December (2013) and January (2014), who were members of the AARO ham club and others, including to myself (Lee N5NTG). Some of his calls to me were made at 2:30am.  Those harassing calls only stopped when complaints were filed with MagicJack, the company who was providing his phone service, and they disconnected his service.

See original Express News article about the first arrest online here… http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Radio-operator-accused-of-terroristic-threats-4286456.php

John David Watkins is still pending trial, but his case has been allowed to be extended and delayed over and over again due to issues with his  lawyer.  His original lawyer quit the case after the original charges were dropped and new charges were placed, so now he has gone thru multiple public defenders. His newest trial date will be in July, right before Field Day weekend.  He has been accused of making terroristic threats on the radio, serious enough that the constable’s office sent 4-5 armed officers to the restaurant where the AARO ham club was holding it’s meeting once month.

See bottom of this article for the current case number and details….

Laura Smith from the FCC had written him ‘cease and desist’ letters after receiving literally 12+ hours of audio recordings taken from on the air transmissions. Three other licensed operators also received ‘cease and desist’ letters from the FCC over this incident because they were recorded talking to him and making suggestions of what radio nets to interfere with, plus helping him program his radio HT that his  mom bought him from a Pawn Shop.

He has violated that warning over and over again, but this time he was caught in the act by a local ham, with confirmation by two Converse City Police Officers.

From Greg N5XO, comes the following details for this event happening on May 5, 2014.

John_David_Watkins_ConversePD_05052014Some time between 10:30 and 11:am this morning (Monday,  May 5, 2014),  John Watkins, AKA White Noise, made threats on the ham radio  against me, my home and my property. His signal was full strength on my radio (146.52 frequency), so we knew he was close {hear attached audio}.

When I came home this evening, I was in the shack working on the Red Cross ham UHF repeater and he again transmitted with the transmission aimed at me again with threats. It was full strength I jumped in my truck and took off, found him riding a bike into the J’s corner store right next to my house, I took a few photo’s to confirm it was him. He spotted me when he came out, glared and rode off on his bike I followed him to bus stop and contacted Converse Police.

Audio recording of today’s radio threats is linked here… (If you can’t see the speaker play icon, just click on the left of the “00:00″ on the black bar)

They arrived just as he was putting his bike on the bus rack and was stepping in the door of the bus. When I told the police officer, that if his name was John Watkins, he was making threats against me, my family and my property and had been arrested for such threats in the past and was pending trial. Cop ran over and pulled Watkins back off the bus….. Read the rest of this entry »

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