The SPARC

Volume IX, Number 8; August, 1997
Newsletter of the Boston Amateur Radio Club
A Special Service Club of the ARRL

QNC de Mike Ardai, N1IST

I just got back from the BARC fireboat tour; thanks to N1IWF and KA1TUZ for arranging it. It was good to see such a large crowd there.

Lately we have been experiencing some interference on the repeater; I'm not sure how much of it is due to the building's window-washing rig (a metal unit the size of a school bus that is currently parked about 5 feet north of the antenna) and how much is due to summer band openings. If anyone has any suggestions about how to reduce the gronking, please let me know. In the meantime, we will be putting the input PL on more often. This means that you will need to use an 88.5 Hz PL to access the machine. You might as well program that in to your radios, since transmitting a PL when the machine doesn't need it is harmless. WN9T will be making a trip to the site to fix the voice announcement that should be there when the input PL is turned on.

While on the topic of the repeater, please remember that 145.23 is a wide-coverage machine, and we have many YLs and kids listening to it (when it isn't gronking...) Please leave breaks between calls so others can get in, and keep the topics appropriate for the crowd and the time.

We are currently looking for speakers, people to run workshops, and people to teach classes. If you can help out with any of these, please let me know.

Hope to see everyone at the upcoming flea markets and meetings.

73,
/mike


145.23 Machine Uses PL Tone

Since the repeater has been gronking a lot lately, we will be turning on the PL more often. Please program an 88.5 PL into your radios for .23. If the repeater doesn't need PL, having it won't hurt anything.

Note: this PL is needed to access the repeater. The output PL (also 88.5) is always on, and can be used (if your radio does PL decode) to reduce intermod and pager noises on your end.

The voice announcement about the PL is currently broken; we'll fix it next time we are up at the site. (Ed. Perhaps it is fixed, I've heard it the last few days.)

/mike


Thanks To BARC

As noted in the June issue of The SPARC, 22 hams provided communications support for the Assistive Technology Conference (AT97). BARC received a letter, dated June 25, 1997, from the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership Center which sponsored the event. Here is that letter:

"On behalf of the Conference Planning Committee, I would like to thank the Boston Amateur Radio Club for helping to make the Assistive Technology '97 conference a success.

"The presence of your HAM radio operators throughout the convention hall and workshop area provided a quick and easy way for key event staff members to communicate with one another. In a venue as large as the World Trade Center, such a service is invaluable. It was especially nice to see some of the same HAMs who had volunteered for AT'95 back again this year. I was also pleasantly surprised at the large number of HAMs who took time in the middle of the week to volunteer to work the event.

"Again, many thanks for your help in making Assistive Technology '97 a success. Enclosed for your information is a copy of the AT'97 Guide to Exhibits and Programs, which was distributed to everyone who attended. Please note acknowledgement of our appreciation to the Boston Amateur Radio Club on page two.

Sincerely,
Jan Stankus
Conference Coordinator


Hams Needed For Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk

A walk along the 26-mile Marathon route will be held again this year on Sunday, 28 September to benefit the Jimmy Fund for children's cancer research. The event is sponsored by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and is produced by the Boston Athletic Association. Some of this walk's technical operations are tested for the BAA Marathon.

The BAA has once again asked BARC to coordinate the emergency and administrative communications along the route of the Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk.

This event is smaller than the "real" Marathon, and is an excellent opportunity to gain public service experience with less stress. Working directly for the BAA, we have been requested to staff 13 to 15 Walker Support stations, providing water, food and rest. Some of these stations will have Red Cross First Aid services. The Finish, Medical and Supervisory areas will also be covered.

Ham operation is expected to be on 2 meters and 70 cm, with approximately 20 - 25 hams needed. Your help is valuable. If you are available for this important public service event, please call Bob Salow, WA1IDA, at 508.650.9440 from 0900 to 2300 (email: erc@world.std.com) as soon as possible.


All You Can Eat And Public Service, Too

Here's a ham public service event where the reward might be better than the job. WGBH, the public TV channels 2 and 44, and FM radio, will hold its annual FunFest on Saturday, 6 Sept. and Sunday, 7 Sept. at the station on Western Avenue in Allston.

We have been asked to assist with communications for orderly crowd and vehicle management, as thousands are expected to attend. It's a compact area, so 2 meter simplex HTs can be used. About 10 to 12 hams are needed each day.

Although such a good cause doesn't need it, here is the good part: all volunteers get to eat all the ice cream you can consume (urp!).

If you can help either or both days, get more information by calling Mike Kass, N1YER, at 617.891.1682, or Bob Salow, WA1IDA, at 508.650.9440.


Did You Participate As A Ham At the "Corporate Challenge?"

Hams who helped at the "Corporate Challenge" on July 17 should be aware that this event is purely a commercial venture. Although it was the Red Cross which asked for the ham support (not through BARC), the race was held primarily to raise money for the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York (as if they needed it).

According to the Boston Globe, "It's also one of the few events of its kind these days that don't contribute most of their proceeds to charity." While the bank was also looking for favorable publicity, it seemed to irritate many motorists by clogging downtown during rush hour.

It's one thing for hams to support public service events, especially when charitable and non-profit organizations could not afford communications and safety services. But hams may wish to be more cautious when being involved with commercial, moneymaking enterprises.

Bob Salow, WA1IDA;
BARC Public Service Chair


AES Incentive Program for Ham Clubs

Amateur Electronic Supply Inc. has announced that if a member of an Amateur Radio Club buys from AES, 1% of the invoice total will be provided for a club purchase. So, if a BARC member buys a $1500 HF rig, BARC will receive a $15 credit for club purchase. This applies for purchases from Sept 1, 1997 to Sept 1, 1998. BARC members who buy from AES are asked to provide copies of their invoices to the club treasurer, Jim Clogher, N1ICN.


Site Needed for BARC Holiday Party

In years past, BARC has held its December holiday party at Matt Garrett's in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. Well, Matt Garrett no longer exists! We need an idea for a restaurant for this year's party.

The requirements are that the restaurant be able to handle a reserved party of about 50- 75 people; the food not be too exotic (American, Italian, Chinese, etc. are fine,) and that it be T accessible.

Any ideas should be given to N1IST. People are, of course, encouraged to volunteer in organizing the holiday party.


Traffic Handling is Core Ham Radio

Traffic handling is something that is as old as amateur radio itself. One of the reasons we were sanctioned by the U.S. Government was to be able to assist in relaying messages. From those early days traffic has grown from mere CW communication to a more systemized manner of public service with the National Traffic System which includes CW, voice, and now, to the digital modes. I neglect to say e-mail because that is not anything that is sent over the airwaves and hence, is not amateur radio.

Amateur radio has served many purposes in its history and the main idea of this hobby was to have fun. That's why there are so many modes to choose from. Traffic handling can serve a dual purpose, you perform a public service while getting experience in how to conduct yourself should any emergency occur, and secondly, to have fun while doing it.

When you have just delivered a message to someone who is not a ham, they are usually thrilled to get a message in this manner and you had part in making this happen, which in turn, makes you feel good inside too.

Personally, I much prefer the CW mode for handling traffic because it is an art to talk with one's fingers. And, it isn't all that hard to do either. It is just a matter of practice and your code speed begins to increase for those upgrades you have been thinking about.

Traffic handling isn't for everyone but if you do decide to give it a shot, you might find it very rewarding.

73, Jim Hatherley, WA1TBY
Section Traffic Manager East Mass.


Ham Radio Show on Local BCB

There is an AM radio station locally in the Greater Boston area that broadcasts a one hour radio show aimed at ham radio operators.

The station is WLYN in Lynn, Mass on 1360 kHz. The show is produced by a local ham employed at the station in a non-on-air capacity (but he has such experience elsewhere) and he has convinced the station management to let him run the show when the station cannot otherwise sell that particular time block (midnight to one) So, the show is on maybe three to four times a week (don't know exact schedule, sorry)

Not having a "clear channel", the station is required to drastically reduce its power at night, which makes reception from anyplace other than the local Lynn/Revere area a real challenge to most. I believe transmitter power is something like 40 to 70 watts.

The show includes the playing of music and commentary by the host and a guest.

I have heard a number of BARC members mentioned on the show. The host (sorry, I forget his callsign) will invite a ham to either come into the studio for a show taping, or call in over the telephone, to discuss an aspect of ham radio. And while the tape of the show plays, folks hang around on 2M simplex (146.58) and comment on it.

(Ed. It was stated on a BARC net that the producers of the show are: Salvatore Arria N1FEV, Richard Meuse N1HID, and David Bard N1QCW)

Richard Amirault N1JDU
amirault@tiac.net


August General Meeting

This month, Jim Hatherley, WA1TBY, EMA Section Traffic Manager will speak on the NTS system and traffic handling in general.

This month's general meeting will be held at the Volpe Transportation Center, 55 Broadway, Cambridge, at 7:30 PM, July 16. The Volpe Center is across the street from the Kendell Square Red Line T Station, at the corner of Broadway and Third Street. Parking is available along Potter Street. Enter the building on the Third Street side, and sign in with the guard at the desk. Talk-in is on 145.23.


NYNEX Has Your Number

Beginning this fall, two new area codes will be activated in Eastern Massachusetts by dividing 617 into 617 and 781, and also dividing 508 into 508 and 978. As this is likely to impact some BARC members and other readers, please notify the Keeper of the Database as soon as NYNEX grabs more control of your life.

You can reach Bob Salow, WA1IDA, by phone at 508.650.9440 or by e-mail at erc@world.std.com


Net Control 101 Returns

On Monday night, Sept. 29, after the regular BARC Net on 145.23 - held at 9pm - there will be a practice net held. People who have never run a net before will get to try their hand at being NCS of a simulated traffic net. Net elmers will be on hand to guide and advise in net operations. Of course, people are needed to check in also. So, after the BARC net is over, hang around and join the practice!


Editor's Notes

Little free space. Short editorial. Cycle 23 started. Practice CW. Upgrade.

I'm grateful to all that sent contributions and suggestions for improvement - keep those cards and letters coming in. I can be reached by email at pvc@tiac.net, snail mail at 11 Commonwealth Court Apt#15, Brighton, MA 02135, and most if not all BARC club nets and general meetings.


Field Day on the Web

Several clubs took us up on the offer to post some Field Day photos on the ARRL New England Division web pages. The first group is already online thanks to N1IST! Check back in a week or two for more.

Get to the New England Division web page via the ARRL (www.arrl.org) link or direct to:

http://www.barc.org/nediv.html"

If your group has some good photos in digital format (preferably *.gif or *.jpg, please send them along!
73 Tom

E-mail: k1ki@arrl.org
ARRL New England Division
Tom Frenaye, K1KI, P O Box 386,
West Suffield CT 06093
Phone: 860-668-5444


W1BOS FD Oops!

Just so's you know, in my mailbox on Wednesday was a notice from OO W2CC that W1BOS was out of band during Field Day. On the 29th at 0150UTC someone was calling KB3AFT on 3751.8 LSB. It's close, but not quite close enough. Operators should stay ~3kc from the lower band edge on LSB. Oh yes, we were 59 in NJ. Too bad we couldn't count the OO report in the score. Should we QSL him? ? Looks like FD was a success!
John
WN9T/W1BOS


Lost at BARC Field Day

This is to anyone who was at Field Day: I am missing a 2-foot aluminum carpenters level. I brought it to FD to level any tower or mast that we were going to put up. It is missing. IF you happened to pick it up during FD, please let me know.

Ed Parish K1EP
eparish@netcom.com


The Automatic Position Reporting System
An Overview and Introduction
by Arte Booten

Many of you have heard discussions about a packet radio program called The Automatic Position Reporting System, (also called APRS.) It's a system, which, unlike PBBS's, nodes and DX clusters, uses an unconnected protocol to transmit your exact position, a symbol denoting the type of station you're running and a brief comment about it. It also uses direct keyboard-to-keyboard "chatting," has direction-finding capabilities and much more.

How does it work? In its most simplistic form, you transmit a packet which contains your callsign, exact latitude and longitude, information on your transmitter's power, your antenna's height, gain and pattern as well as a brief comment of your choosing along with some symbols necessary to make the system work. With this information your station appears graphically on a map (actually, one in a series of many maps) on the monitor as would other stations that are on frequency. Since this is an unconnected protocol, on-air packets can be kept to a minimum.

Consider this: When you connect to a local station using standard AX.25, you send a connect request to that station, they acknowledge that packet, then they send you a connected packet which you must then acknowledge. The same thing happens with every packet you, or the other station, sends. With APRS you only send one packet to convey your in-formation. If it's not received on the first transmission, APRS re-transmits this information using a decaying time delay (that is, the second packet is sent fifteen seconds after the first, the third thirty seconds later, the fourth a minute later, the fifth two minutes later etc. until it levels out at a period of twenty minutes!) This makes more efficient use of the frequency.

APRS uses four different kinds of digipeaters, which use the aliases RELAY, WIDE, ECHO and GATE. RELAY stations (the default setting) are base stations used to digipeat low-power portable and mobile stations. WIDE stations will digipeat packets addressed either to their specific callsign or the generic WIDE to other VHF stations and WIDEs. An ECHO performs a similar function on HF. A GATE will digipeat from HF to VHF. When setting up APRS for your location you'll set your digipeater path based on the situation at that QTH and where you want your information to go. For keyboard-to- keyboard communications (which are the only comms in which "ACK's" are used) you can also set alternate digipeater paths. Not only does this direct your message via the shortest possible route, but it also reduces QRM.

The program also interfaces with popular weather stations such as those made by Davis and Peet Brothers, thus allowing for real-time weather data which is available at the touch of a key. The potential for this during a SKYWARN situation is obvious. You'll get wind speed and direction, temperature, rainfall amounts by the hour and 24-hour period and, in some cases, barometric readings. Such weather data can also be entered manually if a station has the information but not the hardware.

There is also a Direction-Finding mode, which can be used by stations with either a beam or omni antenna! When the "fox" transmits, stations can call, by voice (on another frequency!) or keyboard their beam headings and/or signal strength. Using the antenna gain figures for these stations, circles are drawn on the map. The "fox" will usually be located where these circles converge. If you have one of the many "doppler" antenna systems they can also be used.

If DX-ing is your thing, there's also a "DX- mode" which also uses the UI protocol by simply monitoring the DX cluster frequency. As new spots are posted, they appear on the map with their callsign. Their location is based on the callsign prefix of the spot. Obviously, since you're not connected to the cluster, this isn't meant as a replacement to your normal AX.25 program, and you can't SEND messages, you can receive them (the program will flag yours and display them when asked.) It's just another tool for your county- or country-hunting efforts.

If, like me, you have a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with NMEA-0183 output this, too, can be utilized with amazing results! Your mobile or portable position can be regularly updated. Using such a "stand-alone tracker" you don't even need a computer. All you'd need is a HT, TNC and GPS! Think about the possibilities for such a setup in something like a marathon, walkathon or even for someone shadowing an important official.

APRS was written to be able to run on just about any PC compatible computer from the latest Pentium Pro down to a lowly 8086. Heck, I know several people that use it with a Hewlett-Packard HP-200 palmtop! Maps are available from a large-scale map of the whole world to extremely detailed street- level maps. There's even a mail-reflector about it to which you can subscribe. It's lots of fun, has many potential ARES / RACES / SKYWARN uses and I'm sure you'll enjoy playing with it!

As always, if anybody cares to use these articles (in a newsletter, making copies for friends, etc.) all I ask is that I get credit for them and (if possible and applicable) a copy of that newsletter. 73

Arte Booten N2ZRC
N2ZRC@KB2VLX.#BRONX.NY.USA.NA
N2ZRC@webspan.net


Got A Question?

I recently purchased a used laptop, and want to put it to use on APRS. Since I haven't kept up with APRS for a long time, I'd appreciate any pointers people can offer to get me started (probably receive-only for now). The laptop is a Compaq LTE Elite 486DX/40, color display, 12 Meg RAM, 320 Meg hard drive, 2 PCMCIA slots, and is presently running freshly installed versions of DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. I'm considering a memory upgrade to 20 Meg (16 Meg module + 4 Meg on motherboard) and installing Windows 95.

I have a working (I think) TNC by PacComm (basic 2m 1200 bps).

Based on the above, what else do I need? I have gone to TAPR's FTP site to get APRS796.zip and have unzipped it. I am (still) in the Boston, MA area.

I have an ICOM 2AT and a Yaesu FT530 (dual-bander). I could run it from my car for dual-band, or run my home (no outdoor antenna permitted), with just 2 meters, since the dual-band antenna is on the car.

Thanks for any help/leads.
73 all,
Scott, WY1Z

 

I think it has been a general assumption of many people that hams work only or mostly in high-tech jobs.

I'd like to take a personal, informal pole of hams reading this message to see what company you work for and your position within the company.

I do request that responses be sent directly to me, as there are some that may not wish to reveal their information to the rest of the world.

My email address is: sehrlich@shore.net

Thanks much for your time, and I hope to hear from many of you.

73,
Scott Ehrlich, wy1z

 

I need to obtain a General Radio and Telephone License in order to apply for an opening in the communications department of a power distribution company. I have 10 years of telecommunications experience, however, I lack radio experience. Can you tell me how to obtain this license and how I can get more knowledge about the radio portion of the test required for the license?

Thanks for your help
Tim Lewis
tslewis@gte.net

 

I just received a call from John Kahila. He is looking for some information about receiving Radio Finland via the World Radio Network off satellite. He is living in Boston, and has mininal southern view from his QTH. If anyone has any info about what he would need to do this, please contact him at jkahila@world.std.com

 

You have a question - technical, operating, equipment, club activities, ham radio, computer, whatever. You asked on the air. You asked at a club meeting. You asked your friends (maybe even your enemies). No useful answers. Next step? The Reader's Forum in the SPARC. This space will be devoted to your questions, problems and grief relief. If we can't get you quick internal solutions, there are 300 other readers who can take a crack at it. Contact the Editor by e-mail, snail-mail, phone, or in his face. You'll be glad you did.

By the way, if you have something to sell or you're looking for a special part or equipment, The SPARC is the place to let the ham community know about it. These notices are free for members.


BARC Member Classifieds

It's shack-cleaning time!
Mike Ardai, N1IST

 

Free Ham Magazines!

Jim W1QMT has a collection of old QSTs, 73s, and electronic manuals that he will donate to any individual ham or radio club who will come and take them away. He can be reached at: 617-641-0189

 

Depressed because you have a treasure you must turn to cash and you couldn't make it to the last flea market? Well, cheer up, Bunky! SPARC will run your (non-business) ad for free. Of course, a 10% donation will be cheerfully accepted. Just send your ad to Editor Paul Carter, N1TMF.


One Less Little LEO

The Little LEO industry that has been seeking access to spectrum below 1 GHz, including amateur bands, is about to have one less player. On July 14, CTA Incorporated of Rockville, Maryland, and Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, announced an agreement for Orbital to purchase CTA's satellite manufacturing and communications service business units. The deal is expected to close in August.

Orbital is already in a joint venture with Teleglobe to provide Little LEO services through Orbital Communications Corp. (ORBCOMM). ORBCOMM's system is already licensed and is operational on a limited basis. Uplinks are 2400 bps FSK in the 148-149.9 MHz band and user downlinks are 4800 bps FSK in the 137-138 MHz band, with beaconing in the 400-401 MHz band. In its press release announcing the acquisition, Orbital said that a CTA service it had purchased, called GEMtrak, may be expanded to use the ORBCOMM network in the future. GEMtrak is a system for tracking truck trailers and rail cars and their cargoes.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, noted that the combining of CTA's satellite business with ORBCOMM's will reduce by one the number of companies seeking Little LEO licenses. "CTA was one of the companies that sponsored the ill-conceived and controversial 'flexible allocation' proposal that we had to oppose earlier this year," he said. "ORBCOMM did not endorse the flexible allocation concept."

The Little LEO issue is on the agenda for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-97) to be held this fall. ARRL Technical Relations Manager Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, is a member of the US delegation. The US is now finalizing its proposals for the conference. At this point, no US Little LEO proposal for WRC-97 would affect ham radio.

ARRL Bulletin 45 ARLB045
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT August 8, 1997


In Boston, it is illegal to hold frog-jumping contests in nightclubs.

If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?


BARC Growth and/or Vanity

It's a rare month when we fail to add a few new members. We plan to publish the names of new members periodically. Please make a special welcome for the following new (or long lost) BARC members:

Al BirdN5NBA
Larry BrownKA1ZFK
John BullittN1ZOR
Rich CarltonN1ZOS
Alex McLeodN1YQW
Tony MoynihanWA1ZKI
John NelsonN1ZFG
Daniel RajczykN1KJN
Dave TroianoN1YZT

In addition, we would like to note here any call sign changes you have made, and honor all members who upgrade.

With the FCC "vanity" call sign program under way, it's possible to have a number of changes in our ranks. If you have upgraded and/or changed your call sign, please promptly notify the Keeper of the Database, Bob Salow, WA1IDA, by phone at 508.650.9440 or by e-mail at erc@world.std.com.


I See the Future
Events Ahead

17 AugMIT Flea
23 AugMARC Flea (Gardner)
24 AugNoBARC Flea (Adams)
24 AugEast V-UHF Conf & Flea (Enfield CT)
14 SepSE MassARA Flea (S Dartmouth)
20 SepRIFMRS Flea (Forestdale RI)
21 SepMIT Flea
28 SepFramingham ARA Flea
3-4 OctHoss Traders (Rochester NH)
19 OctMIT Flea
25 OctNE Antique RC (Nashua NH)
15 NovMayflower RC Flea (Plymouth)
22 NovWaltham ARA/1200RC Auction (Newton)
17 JanNE Antique RC Flea (Nashua NH)
1 MarMt Tom ARA Flea (Northampton)

As you might expect, there are many more events (public service, hamfests, flea markets, etc.) taking place - some only peripheral to ham radio. For information on these, covering New England and some of New York, the "Ham - Electronic Flea Market" and the "PSLIST" lists tell the story. They are posted by e-mail to barc-list and on PBBSs regularly. If needed, contact any club member who has access to these.


Eastern Mass Public Safety Net

The EMA Public Safety Net will be held every Tuesday at 2100hrs on 145.230 The net is a forum type net for Public Safety subjects. All Amateurs are welcome.

Any input for the net should be sent to net managers: KA1TTG Bob Ankenbauer (Somerville Ma PD) at ka1ttg@juno.com or on packet to N1GJO Tom Mc Laughlin (Newton FD) at N1GJO@KA1TUZ.FN42JH.MA.USA.NA

73 Dick
rcdoherty@juno.com
KA1TUZ@KA1TUZ.FN42JH.MA.USA.NA


EMA ARRL Section Net

It's time again for the Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Net. This net is held the fourth Sunday of each month (Sunday, May 25) on the MMRA linked repeater system at 21:00 local time. Each club should send a representative to the net. Please stop on by and find out what the section and various clubs are doing.

These machines include:

We are also looking for net control stations for upcoming nets. If you can run the net one of these nights please let me know. I'll include the net preamble at the end of this message.

For further information, contact: Mike Ardai, N1IST n1ist@netcom.com

Here's the preable for the EMA Section Net.


FCC Issued Call Sign Update

The following is a list of the FCC's most recently issued callsigns for District 1 (NE) as of August 1, 1997.

ExtraAdvancedTech/GenNovice
AA1SOKE1IFN1ZQFKB1CET


Several Hundred Boston Area Hams Could Be Reading Your Ad Right Now

Commercial advertising in the newsletter provides important services to our members. Besides bringing income to defray the newsletter production costs, you can learn about and patronize those who support us.

We limit the ads to electronics related businesses and to professional ads from members. Advertisers can display a business card size (3.5 x 2 inches) space for $10.00 per month or $48.00 for the same ad for six consecutive months. If camera ready copy is not provided, there may be an additional charge.

However, you play a part. Your effort as a member is needed to present the advantages to advertisers. Businesses and professionals can reach our circulation of over 300 in Greater Boston. Show your copy of this newsletter to businesses that should be looking for our kind of readers. For more information, contact Paul Carter at pvc@tiac.net, or Treasurer Jim Clogher via the club PO box.


Future Meeting Dates
(Third Wednesdays at 7:30 pm)
Future Exam Dates
(Second Mondays at 7:00 pm)