The SPARC

Volume IX, Number 7; July, 1997
Newsletter of the Boston Amateur Radio Club
A Special Service Club of the ARRL

QNC de Mike Ardai, N1IST

I hope everyone had a great time at Field Day. Looks like we beat last year's score, and had a lot of fun doing it. If you didn't make it this year, please mark your calendars for June 27 and 28, 1998 and reserve those dates! Special thanks to all who helped out with setup, operating, and teardown.

Since this is supposed to be an emergency preparedness drill as well as a fun weekend, please let me know how we could improve things next year. Just send your suggestions to n1ist@netcom.com or let me know on the air.

Congratulations to our new officers for next year: N1IST for president (again - someone will have to run for this office next year since I've done it long enough :-), KA1TUZ for vice president, N1PBA for secretary, and N1ICN for treasurer.

Thanks to the generosity of N1IWF and NU1V, we will once again be having our fireboat and police boat tours; I hope to see a lot of people there.

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.

I hope everyone has a great summer.

73
/mike


Field Day 1997 Was a Success!

I'd like to thank the people who volunteered to help, you were great!

Thanks to:

And many thanks to all the operators, workers and errand runners!

We certainly learned a lot; hopefully we can be even better prepared next year. We even ended up with a good score.

Glenn Meader, N1ZKW
Field Day Coordinator

Preliminary Field Day Results
Bonus points:

100% emergency (generator) power	100
Attempted media publicity		100
Public location				100
Info booth				100
NTS message to SM			100
NTS message relay			 60
Satellite QSO				100
Natural power (solar)			100
W1AW message				100
Packet radio				100
VHF/UHF					100
Bonus total						1050
401 phone contacts X 2 mult				802
(364 CW + 1 pkt + 3 digital satellite) 
X 2 pts each X 2 mult					1472
Total							3324

That's up from last year's score of 3244!

760 total contacts:

        80   40   20  15  10   6   2  1.2 SAT
Phone   72  170    5   1   5  95  51    2   3
CW      119  81  131  16   0  17   0    0   0
 

The latest Field Day results and photos are now up on the BARC web page http://www.barc.org. I hope everyone had a great time, and thanks to all for your help.

/mike


Field Day 1997 Post Mortem
Mike Ardai N1IST

OK, another field day has come and gone. In all, it went very well. Since our goal is to learn from the event, here's my list of observations. Please don't take these personally, and if you have any other observations, send them to me. Why do I get the feeling that I am complaining about too much here? I really did have a good (and exhausting :-) time at Field Day. These are in random order (as I think of them)...

/mike


ARRL Board Meeting

The next ARRL Board meeting will be held July 19-20. As has been the tradition for more than 15 years, there will be a New England Division Cabinet Meeting held the weekend beforehand. Invited guests are Vice Director Don Haney, KA1T, Assistant Directors, all New England Section Managers, members of the ARRL Board's Contest, DX and Public Service Advisory Committees from New England, and the President of every ARRL-affiliated club from New England.

The meeting is designed to gather input on policy topics. This will include discussions on the proposal for license restructuring from March QST, activity in Congress involving Amateur Radio such as ways to deal with rules enforcement and protecting volunteers, and FCC activity that may impact Amateur Radio spectrum.

Your input and suggestions are needed and welcomed. Contact BARC President, Mike Ardai, N1IST; ARRL Assistant Director, Bob Salow, WA1IDA; or send your ideas directly to me before the meeting. What do you think we should be talking about?

Very 73 - Tom Frenaye, K1KI
ARRL New England Division Director
P O Box 386
West Suffield CT 06093
860.668.5444 k1ki@arrl.org

Edited from: ARRL New England Division Bulletin, June 15, 1997


Boston Fire Boat Tour

Once again, BARC has the privilege of a tour of the Boston FD Fireboat, thanks to Capt. Terrence Koen N1IWF of the 33rd Engine. The boat will leave from the Boston Coast Guard station at the end of Hanover St. on August 10 at 9am. Parking is available at the station, just tell the gate guard why you're there. For more details, contact Dick KA1TUZ. Don't forget your HT, hat and sunblock!


Skywarn Observer Training

A training session for Skywarn observers will be held at Northeastern University on Sat. June 26 from 12pm to 4pm. People who complete the session will become accredited with the NWS as Skywarn spotters. No pre- registration is required. Those who listened to the Skywarn nets during last week's severe weather must realize the valuable contributions that Ham observers make. Contact Bill N11VUX for location and details. Talkin on 145.23.


It's Hurricane Season. Are You Prepared For It?

The Atlantic hurricane season each year runs from June 1st through November 30th. During this period tropical storms and hurricanes are a threat to land, including New England. Since 1900, a total of 39 tropical systems have impacted New England in one way or another. Some brought just light amounts of rain and light winds, while others brought flooding rains, large storm surges and destructive winds.

Since hurricane season is here, now is the time to prepare for it. Here are some things you can do to help protect life and property before a storm threatens:

Inland residents:

Tropical storms and hurricanes not only affect the coastal and marine communities, inland areas can be affected as well. Now is the time to prepare:

Be sure to have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights, AM/FM radios and your NOAA weather radio. More often than not, power will be disrupted during the storm, and may be disrupted for several days.

Be sure to have canned food and other items that do not need refrigeration on hand. As stated above, it is almost a certainty that electrical and telephone power will be disrupted.

If you own a portable generator, be sure it is properly hooked into the power supply. If it is not properly installed, it may do damage to the main power supply.

Store plywood and plenty of nails so that you can quickly board up windows on open facing sides of your home. Do not use masking tape to tape windows - it will not help.

In case of the unlikely event that you must evacuate, know where your nearest storm shelter is located - and the quickest route to it.

Coastal residents:

Know your evacuation routes and the proper shelters for your area. Check with your local town hall to see if you are in an evacuation zone.

Most shelters will not allow pets. Make arrangements ahead of time for a place for your pets to stay. Some animal hospitals offer to keep pets until you are able to return home.

Know where your gas and water shutoffs are. It is essential that you turn off both your gas and water before you leave your home.

If you choose not to head to a shelter, make arrangements now with relatives or friends if you wish to stay with them should you need to evacuate.

The marine community:

One of the main threats a tropical storm or hurricane can pose to New England is to the boating community. Now is the time to prepare your vessels for such a threat:

Boat owners should have all the necessary gear on board for properly tying down the vessel. You will lose precious time if you have to rush around searching for gear when a storm is approaching.

Realize that you may not be able to pull your boat out of the water before a storm threatens. Your only alternative will be to tie the vessel down.

Have a plan worked out with the marina operator so there are no questions or any confusion when the time comes to tie up or pull the boat out of the water.

Be sure to take pictures and make a written description of the vessel, so that this may be used after the storm passes for insurance purposes.

Ensure that your vessel is as watertight as possible.

Following these simple steps will help make what can be a very stressful and difficult time that is created by the threat of a tropical storm or hurricane go a bit more smoothly.

The names for the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season are: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

Public information statement - pre-hurricane season
National Weather Service Taunton MA
935 AM EDT Thus. Jun 5 1997


Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Seminar

The first in a series of Amateur Radio Emergency Communications seminars for Ham radio operators is scheduled for Sunday August 3, at 1:30 PM at the Bridgewater Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Area 2 Headquarters.

The topic is an introduction to RACES, ARES and Skywarn, what they are, how they work, how they work together in Massachusetts, who they serve and how to get involved. Each of these three major Amateur Radio emergency communications groups will be presenting information on their programs for the Hams of South Eastern Massachusetts. Any and all Ham radio operators are invited. The same seminar will be run in Belchertown, MA. in November, Tewksbury, MA. in February 1998, and Framingham, MA. in May 1998.

We will present how the groups work together, and the concepts of our cooperation; each group will have 20 to 30 minutes to present its activities and information, followed by a question and answer session.

In the future we hope to offer seminars in various aspects of Amateur Radio emergency communications such as Traffic Handling, Incident Command, and specific training by some of the served agencies.

Directions to MEMA Area II Headquarters: Route 495 to Exit 7 - Route 44 East. 3/4 of the way around the rotary take Route 18/28 North. Follow 18/28 North to the first set of traffic lights take a right. Take your first left onto Titicut St. (and note the sign for Area II) Follow to the prison complex. The Area II bunker is under the 160 foot Monopole tower on the left.


July General Meeting

The experiences of Field Day 1997, and preparations for Field Day 1998 will be the subject of this month's General Meeting.

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.


N1YVW Ron Hicks SK

Ron Hicks was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1945. He came into this world totally blind. The strength and determination Ron displayed throughout his life of hardship and struggle were an inspiration to all the people who knew him. He never let his lack of sight stop him from fulfilling his goals and exploring that which interested him, and with all he tried and accomplished, one thing remained constant in his life: his love for ham radio.

In 1953, Ron received his first amateur radio license, becoming the youngest amateur radio operator, blind or sighted, in the United States. His extremely sensitive ears enabled him to operate his equipment by the sound it made. He also repaired and built his equipment using a soldering gun when necessary.

Ron was also an extremely talented violinist and concertmaster of his high school orchestra. His future in music looked promising until he developed epilepsy in his late teens. Forced to take heavy medication, he lost his fine digital control. He became one of the first blind students to enter regular education and he graduated from a large midwestern high school in 1964.

Ron moved to Boston in 1973 where he continued in ham radio, also handling disaster and emergency traffic. He has a license for nearly forty of his fifty-two years. His license lapsed when his deteriorating health necessitated residency in a nursing home where there was not space for his equipment. When he became terminally ill with cancer, he wanted to get back into ham radio with small palm held equipment. So, in his dying days, he listened to tapes of the recorded exam questions and took and passed the Technician exam. But his license arrived too late; he became too sick to transmit.

N1YVW died on May 11, 1997 in Boston Massachusetts.

Alka Khetarpal
Sister of Ron Hicks


Ham License Confers Royalty?

We have noticed (that's the permissible editorial "we") that many Hams routinely speak in the first person plural. "We are on the way to work," for example. When I (or if you prefer, the editorial "we") hear that, I ("we") usually tend to think that ol' N1WHATEVER, his wife and maybe a couple of his buddies are en route to the job in that one automobile.

But ol' N1 never mentioned anybody else being in the car with him.

Or how about, "We are in the shack working on a new antenna." I (we) figure ol' N1 has a couple of his Ham friends or his Elmer working with him. But there is no mention of W1SOMEBODY being on the scene.

Royalty normally speaks in the plural, a practice that has been legitimized by centuries of use. When a king or the queen speaks, he or she is speaking for the nation. Likewise, when a pope speaks, it is in the plural as he speaks representing the entire Roman Catholic Church. On other fronts, and without getting into theology, I think the same applies with the Dalai Lama.

I never had any problem understanding that popes, royalty and editorial writers use the plural "we", even though I know it is actually only one person doing the talking and perhaps expressing a personal opinion.

When I got my no-code tech license, I couldn't find anything on it telling me that I should use the royal (also called the imperial, papal or editorial) "we". After a long struggle with code and earning the tech plus ticket, I again failed to find wording conferring upon me the privilege (if it may be called that) of using plural. Even when I completed what I considered a real highlight of my life, the passing of the general class exam, there was no edict bestowing plurality upon me.

But that's OK, guys. If you want to say "we" when it's just little ol' you out there, by all means do it. What the hell, I can even adjust to "We are destinated." By the way, my spell checker just rejected "destinated."

Cheers
Bill Sullivan N1TDF


Editor's Notes
Pushing the envelope

I guess that everyone in BARC has seen the photos of the Martian surface sent back from Pathfinder. For the first time in years, I missed the fireworks on the Charles to follow the progress of the lander. I had to think "30 million miles, and no more than a few watts of TX power, now that's DX". You've also probably heard that 2M rigs were used for contacts between the Shuttle and the damaged MIR station (were they HTs ?) Of course, there are the usual (if that's the word) summer weather disasters, with Hams routinely providing emergency communications for the relief efforts.

The moral? Exciting and/or useful things are always going on in communications. I hope you'll be inspired to try something in the hobby that you've never done, and also show a Ham friend something he's never done. This weekend, I was hilltopping on Mt. Wachusett, and met a new Tech visiting from PA. He had his HT and asked me for some good repeaters in the area. I gave him the .23 machine, but suggested that he try a simplex call for kicks. He shouted on 146.52, and right back comes a station from mid NH, full quieting. The man was excited that his HT could do such a thing, and I suspect a new VHF hilltopper was made that day.

We can't all do 30M mile DX, but there's always something in communications just beyond our horizons, but within reach with a little effort. Reach out and touch someone - in a new way!

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.


Got A Question?

Does anyone now what the shelf life of alkaline batteries is...and how it relates to the "best if used by" date...and how that date relates to date of manufacture.

In other words, if I have a Duracell and they want me to install it by January 2000...when was it manufactured? Is there any appreciable shelf life difference between manufacturers?

Tom McGee
Tom_McGee@bmugbos.org

Ralph Walton replies:

Here are some of the things that I can share that I have observed about alkaline batteries. It is my belief that the shelf life of a battery was supposed to be the time that its capacity (in AmpHrs) would decline to 80% of the original - assuming the battery was stored at temperatures between 32F and 212F. These days, "use by" dates are given as about 5 years after manufacture, I am suspicious that, for marketing reasons, "use times" stated for name-brand batteries are longer than similar privately labeled batteries. So, I believe that stated shelf lives are getting so long that no one knows just what they are! Furthermore, since we are dealing with bell curves, you can fudge the shelf life a few years either way by changing the percentage of batteries that meet the spec. As far as determining the date of manufacture, all manufacturers used some kind of date code, at least until they started stating "use by" dates. These codes were usually groups of letters and numbers that corresponded to year, month, and lot.

For example: several retailers have private label batteries packaged similar to Eveready (Energizer.) Looking at these batteries under a magnifier, you can see four digits pricked in the wrapper of each battery. These appear to be the last two digits of the year followed by the month of production. Interestingly enough, I haven't spotted these numbers on the new Energizer brand-name batteries (packaged with the "battery tester.) The production dates seem to indicate that the retail distribution pipeline is four months long for high volume products, and as much as a year long for low volume products like large packages of "D" cells and 9 volt batteries. Whereas before, the "use by" dates were updated several times a year, they now seem to be updated once a year (to save on printing costs.)

I have not noticed any private label Duracell products, but the date code they used ran something like this - last digit of year followed by a letter from 'a' to 'l' for the month followed by two digits for the day (of manufacture.) After the "use by" date appeared, this code disappeared, but I think they still use it on some products.

Some other manufacturer packaging shows only three digit lot numbers, which increase with time, but bear no obvious relation to date.

 

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.


Ham Volunteers Protected

Ham radio volunteers stand to benefit from The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 signed into law June 18 by President Clinton. The measure aims to provide Federal protection from "frivolous, arbitrary, or capricious" lawsuits filed against individuals affiliated with nonprofit organizations and government entities and acting in their volunteer capacities. This would include members of the Amateur Auxiliary and volunteer examiners, as well as other volunteers.

In general, the new law will exempt a volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity from liability for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of such organization or entity if:

The volunteer was acting within the scope of his or her responsibilities at the time.

The volunteer was properly licensed or otherwise authorized for the activities or practice in the State in which the harm occurred.

Willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed did not cause the harm.

The volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the State requires the operator or owner to possess an operator's license or maintain insurance did not cause the harm.

The law, known as Public Law 105-19, becomes effective September 16, 1997.

From ARRL Bulletin 033, June 24, 1997


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:

Ed BudreauKA1QDX
Mike CooneyWG1I
Hakim MadjidN1ZFF

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

MemberOld CallNew CallUpgrade to
Glenn MeaderKA1LKMN1ZKWGeneral
David M DahlbackaN1XQC General

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

19 JulNE Antique RC (Nashua NH)
20 JulMIT Flea
17 AugMIT Flea
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)

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 June 1, 1997.

ExtraAdvancedTech/GenNovice
AA1SGKE1HXN1ZIXKB1CDW


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 Arthur Ashley at arthura@ix.netcom.com, or (both) via the club PO box.


BARC Member Classifieds

Depressed because you have a treasure you must turn to cash and the flea market season is not quite here? 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.


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