Monday, May 15, 2017

Sad News. Jeff James Becomes a Silent Key

Jeff (Luther) James passed away Friday, May 12th. He was preceded by his wife Barbara Jean James nearly one year to the day. Jeff is survived by his son Glenn and his daughter Vicky. There will be an informal service Saturday, 10 AM - 12:PM at the Gentry-Morrison Funeral Home 3350 Mall Hill Dr, Lakeland, FL 33810.

 Jeff and Barbara Jean James


Jeff "two hats" James
We will miss you.



LUTHER J. JAMES

LAKELAND - Luther 'Jeff' J. James, Jr., 83, passed away at his home on May 12, 2017, surrounded by his family. Jeff had fought a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Jeff was born and raised in Lakeland, FL. He was married for 60 years to Barbara Britt James, who preceded him in death on May 15, 2016. Jeff graduated from Lakeland High School, Class of 1952. He served in the United States Army, being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Reserves after attaining the rank of Sergeant. He worked 41 years with the railroad, retiring from CSX Transportation in 1996.

Jeff is survived by his daughter, Vicki Spears of Lakeland; son Glenn James (Mary) of Polk City, FL, granddaughter Brittany Spears of Newport, NC; and 26 nieces and nephews. In addition to Barbara, he was preceded in death by his parents, L.J. and Clemmie James; brothers Dewey, Howard, Vernon, and Marshall; and sisters Daisy Blondena, Gilda, and Evelyn. 

Visitation at Gentry-Morrison Funeral Home, 3350 Mall Hill Drive, Lakeland, FL 33810 on Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Alzheimer's disease research, Vitas Hospice or Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Voices From On High

Drew Draws A Crowd

Speaking to a captivated audience, Drew presented the the history and theory behind satellite communication. Later the group retired to the outdoors where he put theory into practice. In the space of a few minutes he made a contact with a ham in Texas.Then, wishing to share the fun Drew got Liam KM4STS to participate.

Liam KM4STS makes the call while Drew aims the antenna.


Liam takes his turn holding the antenna while
Tyler takes the mic,
and Liam's mom, dad and grandpa, all hams, look on. 

They make it look so simple. Like child's play. :-)

In his presentation Drew discussed the history, theory, and practice of ham radio satellite communication. It was made clear that it doesn’t take much to get started in satellite radio. An antenna and a dual band HT will do. Two dual bands are better.

For those interested, the Internet is a great place to start learning about this phase of ham radio. Besides the radio you will need a directional antenna and some idea of where the satellite you are trying to reach is at any moment. Antennas can be purchased, or if you prefer, you can build your own. The two popular brands are the Elk and the Arrow. Both are priced in the $145 dollar range. This is a lot of money if you just want to experiment to see if you might be interested in this phase of the hobby. For the cost conscious, the tape measure beam optimized for direction finding might be just the ticket.

http://theleggios.net/wb2hol/projects/rdf/tape_bm.htm

I built one of these for fox hunting, but I am told it will work with satellites as well. You can’t beat the price.

So assuming you have the radio/s and a suitable antenna, how do you determine the direction to point the antenna and the frequency to set your radio?

The pointing solution comes from software programs which use unclassified information collected by NORAD and passed onto NASA. From this data, these programs predict the position of the satellites at any one time. Using software like this lets you know when the satellite is in range.

Most of us are familiar with repeaters and how they rebroadcast an incoming signal either above or below the received frequency. However, with satellites, the operation is somewhat different. Most satellite transponders, repeat what they hear, the up-link signal, on a another band, the down-link signal. There is another wrinkle. Because the satellite is moving it will exhibit a Doppler shift. This means that as the satellite rises its frequency will appear to be higher than published, and then once it has reached its peak, will become progressively lower than published. This shift is more pronounced on the higher frequencies.

Mode describes the up-link and down-link bands used. For example Mode V/U means the up-link is on VHF, and the down-link on UHF. Mode U/V would be the reverse.

Schedule is another important piece of information to have. Satellites are not always on. However, schedules are published for each. It is a good idea to check ahead of time.

This link will get you started:


Click on the above link. This will take you to the AMSAT site.

Start by clicking on the drop down menu Satellite Info
Scroll down to Communications Satellites
Pick one, ie AO-85
Read about its history and discover the frequencies it operates on.

Go back to the drop down menu Satellite Info
This time select Pass Predictions
Select the Satellite of interest AO-85
Enter your location grid square or latitude and longitude
Click on Predict and a table similar to the following will appear.



 
To interpret this chart you need to know the following:
AOS (UTC) stands for Acquisition Of Signal in Greenwich Mean Time – the time the satellite just pops over your horizon
AOS Azimuth – the location of the satellite in relation to true north as it just pops over your horizon.
Maximum Elevation is the maximum height of the satellite above the horizon in degrees.
Max EL Azimuth is the direction relative to true North when the satellite is at its highest point on the horizon relative to your position.
LOS Azimuth stands for the direction relative to true north when the signal will be lost.
LOS(UTC) is the Greenwich Mean time the signal will be lost.

So on May 6, at 14:54:36 AO-85 just popped over the horizon for someone living in Lakeland. The direction was 226 degrees from North. After about 5 minutes the satellite reached a height of 32 degrees above the horizon at a direction of 311 degrees from North. Finally, the satellite disappeared over the horizon about five minutes later at a direction 15 degrees from North.

Finally, by clicking on View the current location of AO-85 you can get a plot of where it is and where it is expected to be in the near future.




If this information gets you interested in satellite communications, it has done its job. Several of our club members are heavily involved with this mode of operation. Two in particular are Matthew KK4FEM and Rich N4ESS. I am sure they would be happy to share their experiences with you.

Note: after reading this post Matthew made some valuable suggestions.They follow:

Hi bill,

I read your blog post. If I may offer a few suggestions...

You don't have to pay $145 for an arrow. The least expensive one they offer will work fine with 2 radios (it doesn't include a duplexer) for $90. Also, if you purchase any of these things through the amsat store, they get a percentage of the sales to support operating and building more satellites.


We also highly recommend AGAINST using tape measure Yagis for sats. These may have worked fine in the past for birds with stronger down links, but with the current fleet of sats people will just be frustrated trying to use them. They don't have enough gain, especially on 70cm to allow people to copy the downlink effectively.

A much better alternative if folks don't want to shell out the cash for an Arrow or Elk is the WA5VJB "cheap yagi" that drew mentioned during his presentation. This can be built using scrap wood and common house wire for almost no money. Here is the info.


73

- Matthew kk4fem



Monday, May 1, 2017

March For Babies 2017 Was A Success!

The club was well represented with volunteers, as usual. No mishaps this year, but we did have one little gal that needed some assistance. She was too tired to walk and mom had her hands full with her sister. I think she may have been saving her energy for the inflatable playroom available to the kids, after the walk. 

Jim Stewart brings new meaning to going the extra mile.

As in past years, LARC Ladies participated in the walk.

There is nothing like a little walking to get you into shape.

Also, as in previous years, Publix was well represented.

For more images of this event click March For Babies 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marvin Johnson Becomes a Silent Key

Marvin Johnson passed away, April 22, 2017. He was 83 years old. Marvin was a long time ham, and faithful supporter of LARC. He held the position of Treasurer for many years. Always a gentleman, know for his kind smile, he will be missed.

Marvin Johnson being presented with an award for his his many years of service as club Treasurer by then President and now Treasurer, Patrick O'Neil. This picture was taken in 2012.



 The service will be held Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 1:00 PM at the Lakeland Funeral Home Chapel, Lakeland, FL.You can get directions, and learn more at Funeral Arrangements

Sunday, April 23, 2017

March For Babies 2017

As in years past, our club is supporting this event in two ways. Please contact Bob Doherty to volunteer to work a station. Around fifteen volunteers will be needed to cover all the locations. Bring your HT.

The club will sponsor walkers again this year as well. Please let Bob know if you will be walking in support of this cause.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Meeting

These are times of change. The most obvious is our new meeting location. It is much more comfortable than the last location from the point of view of space and acoustics. It is easy to be heard and understood, even without a microphone.

Field Day
The venue for Field Day 2017 has changed. Plans are to hold this year's event at the Kathleen Historical Society grounds. This facility is air conditioned, making it more comfortable for participants. For those not familiar with this location, you can visit their website at http://www.kahsatsocrum.com/#

Deadline for MIGS
The deadline for Member In Good Standing status was April 1. If you have not paid your dues, and still wish to be a club member you should contact Patrick to pay your dues.

Club Records Update
April is also the time of year when we look at club records. Mike Oliver and Bill Johnson will be making a push to make sure club records are up-to-date. If you have not made changes to the paper that was circulated during the meeting, you will be contacted by phone. If the phone number we have for you is not current, then we will contact you by email. If neither phone nor email is current you will simply be unreachable. This could be disadvantageous, so unless you chose to be a Stealth Member, you should contact the Secretary to update your records. :-)

Sign-in Sheets
As secretary I soon became aware that from day one, LARC has always had sign-in sheets at meetings and some events. No one ever questioned this, and to my knowledge no one has ever made use of them. I suppose on the outside chance you need an alibi for where you were on the first Monday of the month they might come in handy, but only if they are accurate. This is one reason we are considering the bar-code approach to attendance records, but there are others.

Generating bar-codes is not a big deal. If you wife is not also a ham, I created a bar-code with the suffix XYL for her. I also created a bar-code for you if you bring your son, YM or YL if you bring your daughter.

Other than being rather cool looking, and related to amateur radio in the sense that they were inspired by the Morse Code,bar-codes are a very practical and efficient way of generating attendance reports. A marked up sheet of bar-codes can be scanned into a worksheet in less than two minutes. But then what? For those interested, here is the workflow:
  1. Members circle their call sign
  2. Scan bar-codes into a spreadsheet - less than two minutes
  3. Port data to a table in a data base - about a minute
  4. Marry the scanned data with other information in the database, print out a hard copy, and generate a soft copy for publication. about five minutes. 
We are going to try this for a while. There have been suggestions made to affix a bar-code to the back of your membership card. This is very doable, but it requires that you carry your membership card in your wallet. The concept of bar-coded tattoos on the forehead was rejected out of hand. However, judging from the amount of ink we see these days, maybe sometime in the future. :-)

So what does a hard copy look like: (Please keep in mind that we are in the process of updating our records so if you paid your dues, or your information is not accurate, please be patient. Feel free to contact me with any updates and corrections.)





Membership
Call Sign Name LARC ARRL ARE SKYWARN
AA4HT Roberet (Rip) H. Van Winkle YES YES NO NO
AA4HTXYL Carolyn YES
AB1DX Oliver L. Richards NO NO NO NO
AE4RM Roger O. Meadows YES NO NO NO
K1DU Fredrick (Fred) A. Delaney, III NO NO NO NO
K2EUH Robert F. Foxworth YES YES NO YES
KA2BVC Alwin (AL) E. Pogue YES YES NO NO
KC2RMZ Brian Volz NO NO NO NO
KF4Q William R. Busbin YES YES NO NO
KG4PWF James (Jim) O Scott YES NO NO NO
KG4YNI Ernest (Ernie) H. Haynes, III YES YES NO YES
KG4YNIXYL Joan Haynes YES
KI4DNO Larry R. Walker YES NO YES YES
KI4ZMV William (Bill) Johnson YES YES NO YES
KJ4AFB Patricia E. Morris YES NO NO NO
KJ4AYU Victoria L. Walker YES NO NO NO
KJ4DSQ Roger D. Land NO NO YES NO
KJ4MJ Joy Gafford NO NO NO NO
KK4FEM Matthew R, Stevens YES YES YES YES
KK4YXR Franklin F. Fitzgerald NO NO NO NO
KM4BAO Robert Doherty YES NO NO NO
KM4CUG Debra (Debbie) M. Leahy YES YES NO NO
KM4STU Leon T. Holzer YES NO NO NO
KR4R Johnnie M. Ritter, Jr. NO YES NO NO
KT2T Michael (Mike) Wayne Oliver YES LIFE YES YES
N2TE R. Edward Marchese YES NO NO NO
N4ESS Richard (Rich) Kennedy YES LIFE NO YES
N4KWR Kevin W. Rought YES NO NO NO
N4PEG Margret (Peggy) Lang YES YES NO YES
N7CUC Samuel (Sam) H. Shaver YES NO NO NO
W4MQB Barbara S. Ritter NO YES NO NO
W4XDS James (Jim) Stewart YES NO YES NO
W4ZSC Albert (Al) P. Sheppard, Jr. YES YES NO YES
WX4AMS Andrew Stevens YES NO NO YE

What? You were there but you did not circle your name. Guess you will just have to make a point to do it next time. :-(

Guest Book
 In the past we have asked guests to sign in at the bottom of the sign in sheet. There wasn't much space to do this and we did not ask for their email. That has changed. We now have a sign-in book, with a place for email so that those who visit can keep up with club activities, and maybe even become members someday.

Testing Testing 1,2,3 Testing
  
Left to right, George, Thomas KN4BOE, Joh, KM4MTQ, Mark Tech, Duain TECH, A, and Richard. Jon Byrd is now Extra, Thomas Conner General, Mark Welch General, and Dwain Hoffman is a new Tech. Brandon Dye also tested, and is a new Tech.


 Below, Paul Pippin KG4EPU proudly holds his graduation certificate. He is now a General and free to roam the HF bands.Directly to Paul's right, and also in the picture above is Chris AA4CB a visiting VE from the East Pasco Amateur Radio Society.



Congratulations to all

Don't Forget -March For Babies Is Coming Up. 
See Bob To Volunteer
Bob presenting a first contact award to Thomas Connor. Congratulations Thomas.


Our Guest Speaker - Ben Henley
  Digital or analog? Itt all depends. The choice is yours.




 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

LARC Participation at Kathleen Historical Society A Great Success

Interest in Amateur Radio was high at the Kathleen Historical Society Event this year. Rich, Bob and Bill chatted with a total of  fifty-one attendees during the day. Some were interested in becoming Hams, others just curious, and one gentleman was writing a book and wanted to check some facts about EMP, or Electro-Magnetic Pulse, for a fictional novel he is writing. When all else fails, tube radios still work! Of particular note was a middle-schooler named Hunter who was sending code with an electronic paddle after only a few minutes of practice.

Besides the three Hams manning the booth, several others stopped by to show support.  A very special  thank you goes to Chris AA4CB for taking the pictures at this event. 

Bob, Bill, and Rich fielding questions at the same time.  

Bob our VP and George Rezac conferring.

Rich handing out information about our club and our new meeting location.

Bill extolling the benefits of  Ham Radio to a father and son. What  a great way to keep in contact.