It's time to go through your "Go Kits" and restock batteries, check your cables, connectors, spare antennas, manuals, update your frequency lists and make sure you radios are programmed with the current repeaters (don't forget to charge your spare battery packs!).
If you don't have a "Go Kit" or need to put one together, there are some great resources on the Internet.
Here's just one : www.qsl.net/kc0nrk/go-bags.html
HT's & Rubber "Duckies"
With the explosion of the "cheap", $40 dual-band radios from China flooding the market, it's time to revisit some basics on HT's.
I ran across this article on eHam written in 2001, but it's even more relevant today:
Ed Harris, KE4SKY, Virginia State RACES Training OfficerThe National Institute of Science and Technology tested Public Safety "high-band" VHF and amateur 2-meter antennas. Flexible antennas commonly used on portable transceivers have negative gain compared to a quarter wave whip held at face level.
This means that 5-watt portable VHF with stock antenna has an effective radiated power of only 1-watt. Placing the portable on your belt produces -20db of attenuation, reducing EIRP to 50 milliwatts! UHF results are no better...
An effective expedient to improve a flexible antenna is to attach a counterpoise (19.5" long for the 2-meter band, or 6.5" for the 70 cm band) of stranded wire, crimped and soldered to a battery clip or ring terminal which will fit over the antenna connector. Reinforce the soldered connection with heat shrink to resist flex. When attached to the outer collar of the BNC connector or the antenna shield, the counterpoise prevents transmitted RF from coupling with your body. This enables it to perform like a center-fed dipole, instead of an "end-fed dummy load!" The main lobe of the radiation pattern can be "aimed" by, grasping and pointing the end of the counterpoise in the direction where you need a stronger signal.
Some after-market and home-made antennas performmuch better than the standard helical "rubber duck." A J-pole antenna constructed of 300-ohm twin-lead rolls up and fits into your pocket. When thrown up in a tree, it increases both height and gain. Full-sized, flexible 1/4 wave and telescoping 2-wave antennas work very well.
A quarter wave provides unity gain when used with a counterpoise and held at face level. This represents a 5 dB improvement over a stock flexible antenna, because most of the effective signal is radiated. If operating from a vehicle, connect your portable to a magnetic mount mobile antenna to provide a clear RF path outside the vehicle. This overcomes the substantial attenuation, which results from operating a portable unit from inside a metal vehicle. Always carry suitable adapters so that you can connect your portable transceiver to an outside base or mobile antenna, when one is readily available.
In marginal operating locations a telescoping, half-wave is much better, because it provides the same unity gain without a ground plane that a 1/4 wave antenna does when used with a ground plane. A 2-wave antenna can be pulled up into a tree, dangled out a window, attached to a window pane with suction cups, or be used bicycle or motorcycle mobile, or in city driving on a window clip mount. A telescoping half-wave increases useable simplex range of a typical 5 watt, 2-meter portable from about a mile with the stock flexible antenna to 3 miles or more, depending upon terrain. Adding a counterpoise to an efficient antenna enables a portable unit to keep in reliable contact within 5 miles of an EOC or base station equipped with an efficient antenna elevated on a tower.
I started back in late December playing around with Teamviewer and trying to get it to work throught the Broadband-Hamnet nodes using a couple of laptops with Windows 7. After messing around for a month, I finally got it to work!
After emailing KC9UHI, who got it to work on a couple of PCs during some downtime on the road. I suspected that it had something to do with the network configuration on the PCs.
Having both wifi and ethernet adapters on the laptops and constantly changing configurations between the two, I think that windows and Teamviewer got confused or something got corrupted. So, I went back to square one and started with a couple of clean WIN XP desktops (with only one ethernet card in them) and a fresh install of Teamviewer 9. I hooked them to the same node and tested to make sure everything worked. Then I moved one of the PCs to a second node and with just a little tweaking in Teamviewer, it worked. I added an IP camera, a website, FTP server and installed Focus VideoPhone (VideoPhone is a video-communication application that can be used in LAN or Internet).
Without going into a lot of detail, Windows keeps track of everything you do on the system. It tracks what network hardware is installed, MAC addresses, how it's configured (and everytime it changes), DNS, DHCP, IP addresses. Every computer and network you have ever connected too and what you do on the system. Most of this is tracked in the registry. I think the problem was that Windows (7 & Vista) get confused and/or something got corrupted when I started changing network configurations many times over the weeks of testing.
Originally, I tried disabling my network adapters, then from a command prompt, ran ipconfig /flushdns, /release and /renew to clean up the net configuration. This usually works, but it wasn't completely successful. After some research on the Internet, I came across a useful article support.microsoft.com/kb/299357. I uninstalled Teamviewer. Then I used the netsh command "netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt" (this rewrites two registry keys that are used by TCP/IP and has the same result as removing and reinstalling the protocol). The reset command rewrites the following two registry keys: SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\ SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DHCP\Parameters\
I rebooted the computer. Reinstalled Teamviewer and connect to the node. After that, it worked flawlessly!Now I can remote control any PC (whether it's XP, Vista, Win7 or Linux) on the Mesh.
Each BBHN node is configured with the defaults (5-node Direct Mode). Teamviewer justs need to have the Incoming Lan Connections on the General Tab, set to "ALLOW". When your network is LAN only (with no Internet), Teamviewer will show the IP address of your PC in the YOUR ID Box on the left of the dialog. There is no port forwarding to configure, no rules, no tunneling.
If you add Internet to your Mesh, it will display a 9 digit number or if you are using the online web management, you can assign a name to each PC. You can connect to remote PCs using the 9 digit number, IP address or Name.
The main objective was to be able to control an HF rig at my home from the EOC. I can connect to the PC at home (the radio and PC have to be on) with a connection to a Mesh node (Internet for normal use). Once connected to the remote PC I can bring up HRD (v.5.X, the last free version), activate the VOIP in Teamviewer on both PCs (I keep the mic muted in VOIP on the PC I'm working from until I want to transmit. If you don't, and you start talking, it will key the transmitter via VOX). With a headset/boom mic, I can transmit & receive, change bands, frequencies and do anything I would do normally do with HRD, sitting in my shack.
Added benefits of Teamviewer 9 besides being free:It has built in Chat, VOIP, Video, file sharing and of course remote control! One free application that does a whole lot.
In the next few articles, I will go into more detail on setting up HRD with a soundcard and hardware to control an HF rig. I will also go into more detail on Teamviewer for remote control and some of the features like Chat & VOIP.
Matt De Namur KC9UHI has started up a message board as a central location for discussion of various digital technologies in amateur radio. It seems as many people in the area are beginning to get more involved with HSMM, P25, APRS, etc. and working on implementing the technology for use. Unfortunately, most of the project ideas and breakthroughs aren't currently easily communicated to others who might have valuable input - here's a way to do so. Check out the board at http://digital.kc9uhi.net Please feel share the site with others who might be interested.
Lightning striking 10-15 miles ahead of a approaching storm is often called a bolt out of the blue or clear air lightning. It poses a significant hazard for outdoor venues and workers because it is unpredictable and comes without warning. See video links:
Distributed by the Milwaukee Area Skywarn Association (MASA). Nonprofit and IRS 501c3 tax exempt.
Skywarn is the identification, evaluation, and reporting of dangerous weather.
Everyone talks about the weather, but storm spotters do something about it. Fear is not an option.
Visit us at: www.mke-skywarn.org Facebook, Twitter, Youtube. Zello channel: milwaukeeskywarn.
Our best spotters always practice safety first.
If you haven't seen the latest ARES E-Letter, check out the article near the bottom on EasyPal Does More Than SSTV.
EasyPal is being used by many operators for SSTV, but what it really does is send files.
It can send jpg, txt, doc, xls, and pdf files, just to mention a few. It also has several standard forms built into the program like a blank free-form screen for entering text and a form resembling an ARRL Radiogram, an ICS-213 form, an ICS-213 (ARES Version), an ICS-213-1 (a more casual version of an ICS-213 form), and a MARS form.
They all have proper formatting and blanks, which can be filled in at the sending station and printed at the receiving station.
Any of these forms can be sent in under 30 seconds.
The following are membership standards to keep in good standing
Participation in 12 home county ARES/RACES training nets per year.
Participation in one ARES/RACES activation (either Skywarn or other) per year.
Attend one ARES/RACES meeting per year (might be the annual meeting).
Send one NTS radiogram per year indicating the member is still interested in retaining membership. This does not have to be on the air, it can be through e-mail or Winlink 2000, etc., but it must be in NTS format.
Be a contributor to the team in the eyes of the EC (subjective, but important).
Attend Skywarn training at least once every two years.
If you don't have your amateur radio license and are interested in getting it, it's pretty easy. There's no morse code requirements and there are 35 questions on the Technician test. You can go online to www.qrz.com/hamtest and register to create an account (it’s free) where there are study materials and practice tests.
Once you login click on “Resources” at the top center of the page and a drop down box will appear. The top two are where you want to go. The first one is the practice tests on line (you want Technician). The second is a list of study guides, books and courses you can purchase if you want something in print.
When you start hitting 80-90% on the tests you should be able to pass the exam.
When your ready to take the exam, contact the Green Bay Mike & Key Club www.k9eam.org/ and they will let you know when the next "ham cram" and testing is (usually held on a Saturday from 9-3 pm at St. Norbert College in De Pere). They spend about 4-5 hours going over the material on the test and the exam follows (the test fee is $15). You’ll know right away if you passed.
"These tests are a free service provided by QRZ.COM. In order to facilitate scorekeeping, all participants must now have an active QRZ account to use the service. There is no requirement to be a ham radio operator to start studying (because that would be silly).
Unlike our previous online system, these tests are designed to take you through all of the pool questions at a smooth, progressive pace. The system even keeps track of your personal progress so that you'll know exactly when you're ready for the actual exam.
For example, whenever you answer a question wrong, the system will offer specific subject matter categories for you to study. Either way, the system will continue to present the failed questions until you get them right. Our users say that it is a near certainty that once you have completed the entire question pool presented here that you will most likely pass your test on the first try.
Here is a short list of some of the new features of these tests:
The system keeps track of your personal scores and learning trends
Questions are presented in exactly the same way as actual tests
The correct answer (i.e. A, B, C, D) changes with each run
A record is kept of your successful completion of every question in the pool
You can pause and review any question during the test, and even "skip until later"
Works with all modern browsers, including Apple's iPad (no Flash requirement)
Has suppressed advertising (for subscribers)
These practice tests are meant to supplement a course of independent study that provides the background information necessary to understand the answers. Every student should have a book, such as those offered in the W5YI-Group Bookstore.
If you would like a copy of the complete question pools, please see the NCVEC Website , where they are available for free download in a number of formats.
A passing score is 26 correct for Technician and General, and 37 correct for Extra"