image of Bold K6FB call letters The Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club Newsletter
Summit Sentinel, January 2004
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Contents of the Summit Sentinel, mailed to members January, 2004.

The Summit Sentinel
Dedicated to the Amateur Radio Service And Emergency Communications

Jan 2004
Volume 26, Issue 1
"From the Sierra to the Sea,
...This is K6FB repeater"
Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club
P.O. Box 2415
Cupertino, CA 95015


Fifth Saturday Breakfast, Saturday, January 31, 2004, 8:30 AM. Join fellow members, XYLs, and bring the kids; all are welcome! Come to Hick'ry Pit in Campbell, across the street from the Pruneyard Shopping Center, 980 E Campbell Ave, near Bascom. Talk-in is available on K6FB repeaters. See the map on the back page.

Elections are coming in February. Watch your mailbox for your ballot, and vote!

Fifth Saturday Breakfasts When there's a Fifth Saturday in any month we celebrate by having breakfast out! Pull out your PDA or calendar and note all these dates for 2004: January 31, May 29, July 31, and October 30.

Hamvention 2004 Will you be near Dayton OH on May 14-16? You might want to drop in on the biggest Ham convention in the nation. Learn more < >

Holiday Party Recap

Steve WD6FTE and XYL Kathy picked another winning destination for the club Holiday Party in 2003. About twenty-five club members and guests gathered at Marie Callenders in Milpitas on December 6th.

Members and guests selected entree choices during registration for the dinner. Dinner platters arrived smoothly from the kitchen and Steve 'FTE kept the platters moving to the right people. I was afraid the club might have to kick in extra tip for Steve; he was working really hard. I hope he got a hot dinner!

Skip 'WK was snapping what seemed like hundreds of pictures of the festivities. Bill K6UO and his XYL joined as special guests. Bill was a founding father of the club in the 70's. [See Bill's recollections of the history of the club on the LCARC web site! Look under the Newsletters link.] They made the trek from their new home near Benicia.

Steve had arranged for several nice door prizes. At the end of dinner guests selected numbered slips. Shortly thereafter, Steve called out numbers for the lucky winners.

Guests departed about 8:00, well fed, happy, and ready to kick off the rest of the holiday season!

I extend a very special thank you to Steve and Kathy for planning this event and making all of the arrangements. Thank you to all the members and guests who came out!

Nominations For Club Directors Open

In February it will be time for Las Cumbers ARC elections once again. Running a successful club requires a little effort. Yet it can also generate rewards of camaraderie, enabling a wildly successful club event, and increasing club spirit.

The Directors might have missed inviting you to be a candidate for office. You could be the next G*R*E*A*T Director that members will talk about for years to come! Yet, if you don't run, how will you know?

If you are interested in participating in the business of your club then please speak up! Contact any director, simply check the web site for Director e-mail addresses or phone numbers on the club roster.

Do You Know Where Your Club Name Badge Is?

It's been a while since the club ordered new name badges. Jey recently checked with the south bay engraver to see if club name badges are still available. Good news! The company is still in business, under new ownership.

New members: Our membership chairman is checking records to see which members need their first name badge. If you are a new member since 2001, you probably haven't gotten your initial name badge yet.

Active members: Has it been a while since you've seen your official, stunning, club name badge in that beautiful shade of green? Do you need a replacement badge? Have you upgraded to a new call sign? Replacement badges can be ordered for the low, low price of $6.

Jey will be placing an order in late February. If you have joined the club since 2001, or wish to order an extra or replacement official club name badge, please e-mail or call Jey at 916.765.7443. Please include your name and call sign as you want it on the badge. If you telephone and get voice mail, please spell your name and call sign. (It'll be a refresher for you when you use the phonetic alphabet! :)

Progress on Club Banking Transition

You may recall a story from 2003 where the club submitted a new signature card for our new Treasurer to assume his duties, and the signature card was rejected! Bank of the West had clamped new requirements on how their accounts could be used. The club's checking and savings account were originally set up as personal accounts. So effective in 2003, we couldn't change to a new treasurer when needed! At Bank of the West this was tantamount to giving the old account to a new person… and that simply could not be done!

Undaunted, our fearless Treasurer Bob 'OPO set about filing documents with the IRS to reinstate the club's non-profit status. Bob received IRS approval on the request in early November. That was the last hurdle before the club could move to a new banker, Washington Mutual. Washington Mutual offers low cost accounts to non-profit organizations. Bob is overseeing the last of the transitions before we close out completely with Bank of the West; we won't be there much longer.

Thank you for your hard work on this Bob!

Technical Committee Chairman's Report

- Dan, K6PRK

There have been a few more events at the Las Cumbres repeater site since the last newsletter.

After the initial inspection of the 220 antenna on the tree, we decided to find an AEA 220 MHz Isopole antenna. We had a 2-meter Isopole antenna up for almost a year and the wind didn't tear it up. Unfortunately AEA is out of business. There is a company in South America that has taken over the manufacture of the Isopole antennas. They have a website and an ordering page. The problem is that they want well over $100 for their version of the antenna, not to mention shipping costs. Secondly they will manufacture the antenna after they receive the money. Since they are in a foreign country, doing business with them could be risky.

Both Tom K6KMT and I looked on the Internet to see if we could find another antenna. I found a dealer on the web that was having a closeout on 220 MHz Isopole antennas. The Price was about $50.00 plus shipping.

We ordered one and it arrived about 2 days later. I talked to John KJ6ZL about mounting it on the tree. He had some advice on how to clamp the top section of the antenna to the mast to keep it from being loosened in the wind. The whole thing was assembled and both John and I went up to Las Cumbres just before Christmas to install the antenna. When I checked the SWR on the 220 antenna, it was near 1 to 1, but the power level of the repeater was down to about 0.8 watts. The final output of the repeater was burnt out as a result of the broken antenna. John and I left the site leaving the repeater with the low power. The repeater sounded very good even with the low power thanks to the new antenna.

John 'ZL and I were working on an antenna project to build an antenna like the Phelps-Dodge for 220 MHz. We built up several coaxial cable antennas each and had failures and successes. John is building a 20 foot long collinear that will fit inside a Phelps Dodge radome. When he is finished it will replace the Isopole antenna that is currently serving us. The antenna design project was a great educational project for both John and me. We learned things that we wanted to know and things that we didn't want to know about coaxial antenna design.

A few days later, Bob W6OPO and I went up to Las Cumbres and removed the 220 repeater. The output transistor was bad. I tried to order a new transistor, but it is no longer made. I finally found a substitute from RF Parts in San Marcos, CA. I ordered one but the delivery time was going to be about 5 days. The next day I caught club member and past TCC Frank W6SZS on 75 meters. He lives in San Marcos about 5 miles from RF Parts. I asked Frank if he could pick up a transistor for me. Frank was planning on flying to San Jose the same day and he would bring it with him. Frank arrived and I met him in the Halted Electronics parking lot at about 3:30 PM. What service! I got the transistor on the same day! I went home and replaced the transistor and we were back on the air the next day. We now have a spare transistor for the 220 repeater that arrived the following Wednesday.

Everything is working great on the hill.

When Bob, W6OPO and I were going up the hill to remove the 220 repeater, I rounded a corner about half way up and heard a funny growling noise from my van. As it worked out my automatic transmission was falling apart. The overdrive unit was grinding itself up. Fortunately I was able to deselect overdrive and the car still moved. We were lucky that we didn't have to walk home! I had the transmission rebuilt and got the van back on Christmas Eve (that's one expensive Christmas present!) I guess that the transmission didn't owe me anything since it went 150,000 miles.

As you can see the Technical Committee was very active in the past few months. Many thanks to the members of the Technical Committee for all the help.

[Dear Members: The next time you see these dedicated gentlemen please remember to say a hearty "Thank You!" They keep K6FB repeaters on the air for all of us. -ed.]

Notes of Interest from ARRL Newsletters

AMSAT Activities

The bidding opens January 21 on a handsome original sculpture of the AO-40 satellite as AMSAT-NA auctions off the work of art on eBay to help fund the AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO (AO-ECHO) satellite launch campaign. The auction will run for 10 days, and the winning bid will be recognized as a donation to the launch campaign. The AO-ECHO fund currently stands at nearly $49,000. AMSAT-NA says it will need $110,000 for the launch--currently scheduled for March 31, although the launch window remains open until May.

AO-ECHO will enable satellite voice communication using handheld FM transceivers. The satellite will incorporate two UHF transmitters, each running from 1 to 8 W and capable of simultaneous operation, four VHF receivers and a multi-band, multimode receiver capable of operation on the 10 meter, 2 meter, 70 cm and 23 cm bands. ECHO will feature V/U, L/S and HF/U operational configurations, with V/S, L/U and HF/S also possible. FM voice and various digital modes--including PSK31 on a 10-meter SSB uplink--also will be available.

Learn more < >

AO-7 turns 30!

The oldest working satellite, AO-7, will mark its 30th year in space during 2004. The satellite, which came back to life in mid-2002, was launched November 15, 1974, and it remained operational until 1981, when it went dark due to battery failure. It remained dormant--and largely forgotten--until it suddenly and unexpectedly sprang back to life. AO-7 is in a 1460 km orbit, and AMSAT-NA considers the satellite "semi-operational." Jan King, W3GEY reports AO-7 is running solely from its solar panels, so it will only work when in sunlight. To mark the satellite's 30th anniversary, AMSAT-NA will make available a special commemorative QSL card.

Learn more < >.

Austrian Authorities Pull Plug On BPL Pilot

The Austrian Amateur Transmitter Federation (ÖVSV--Österreichischer Versuchssenderverband) reports that a Broadband over Power Line (BPL) field test in the city of Linz has been cut short as a result of excessive radio interference. ÖVSV, Austria's International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society, said in December that the Government Ministry for Commerce, Innovation and Technology closed down Linz Power Company's BPL pilot project because it was generating interference on the HF bands. Shortwave broadcaster Radio Austria's futureZone service says the case that brought the issue to a head was a Red Cross report that emergency services radio traffic during a disaster response drill last May was the victim of massive BPL interference.

Last fall, ÖVSV representatives and Linz amateurs got together with power company representatives in an effort to resolve BPL's incompatibility with HF radio operation. The meetings followed news reports of interference to emergency service communications and QRM complaints from several area hams. "Because of the racket, expensive installations, such as a 20-meter monobander on a high-rise building, become totally worthless," ÖVSV said.

The utility agreed to look into the possibility of a 100-meter protective zone around each amateur's location, notch filters for amateur frequencies, network system filters and the use of 5 GHz wireless local area networks.

FEMA Weighs in on BPL

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told the FCC that BPL could "severely impair FEMA's mission-essential HF radio operations in areas serviced by BPL technology." FEMA responded December 4 to last April's FCC BPL Notice of Inquiry. Now part of the Department of Homeland Security--the agency said its primary worry is BPL's potential impact on the FEMA National Radio System (FNARS) on HF. FNARS is FEMA's primary command and control backup medium under the Federal Response Plan.

"FEMA has concluded that introduction of unwanted interference from the implementation of BPL technology into the high frequency radio spectrum will result in significant detriment to the operation of FEMA radio systems such as FNARS," FEMA asserted. "FNARS radio operators normally conduct communications with signals that are barely above the ambient noise levels." FNARS HF stations, FEMA said, typically are in residential areas of the sort that BPL might serve.

As part of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's perspectives on BPL could carry substantial weight at the FCC, which may issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making as early as February. The FCC's BPL Notice of Inquiry has attracted more than 5100 comments--many of them from the amateur community.

FEMA said BPL also could render useless such "essential communications services" as the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and the Civil Air Patrol. FEMA and ARRL last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding that focuses on how Amateur Radio may coordinate with the agency in disasters and emergencies.

Calling the HF spectrum "an invaluable and irreplaceable public safety resource," FEMA said there's no current alternative to HF in terms of meeting national security and emergency preparedness requirements at the national, state and local levels. The agency advised the FCC to beef up its Part 15 rules to ensure no increase in interference levels to existing FCC or NTIA-licensed communication systems. Otherwise, FEMA predicted, "any noise increase inevitably would diminish the ability to maintain essential communications" and would "directly impair the safety of life and property."

Ham Transmissions Can Knock out BPL

The Amateur Radio Research and Development Corporation (AMRAD) has filed additional test data with the FCC to support preliminary findings suggesting that BPL systems are susceptible to interference from even modest Amateur Radio HF signals. AMRAD said its newest data demonstrated that amateur operation in the test neighborhood would cause many homes to lose their Internet service.

"At least an area out to a radius of 0.51 miles from the transmitting station could have their Internet connection interrupted," AMRAD said. "Closer-in homes would almost certainly have their Internet service interrupted."

For its RF susceptibility experiment, AMRAD used the Potomac Electric Power Company system test site. It features a mid-1960s vintage home with unshielded interior electrical wiring and overhead power lines.

AMRAD found that at a distance of just over one-half mile, data transfer ceased in the face of a 100-W signal on 3980 kHz from a mobile transmitter. Adjacent to the test property, AMRAD said data transfer ceased in all but one instance at a transmitter power of just 4 W in the BPL operating band of from 4 to 21 MHz.

Local Ham Takes International ARDF Gold!

Bob Cooley, KF6VSE, of Pleasanton, California, struck gold twice at the Fifth International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) in Australia. Hosted by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) and organized by the Victoria ARDF Group, the competition took place November 28 through December 3 near Ballarat--a historic gold mining town in northwestern Victoria province.

Cooley competed in M60, the "Superveteran Category," for men 60 and older. On the 4.7-kilometer 2-meter course, he found the required three hidden transmitters in 1:30:25--seven minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. On the 5.6-kilometer 80-meter course, he did even better, finding all three foxes and reaching the finish line in 1:15:22.

All three IARU regions hold ARDF championships in odd-numbered years. The Region 3 event drew 50 male and 9 female competitors from Australia, Japan, China, Korea and New Zealand, with KF6VSE as the only participant from North America.

Learn more < >

Santa Barbara Club To Host ARDF Championships

The Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club will host the 2004 USA Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Championships, ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, announced this week. Moell said the fourth annual USA ARDF event will be held next June in California.

"Radio-orienteers from all over the country plus visitors from abroad are expected to attend," Moell said. "The competitive courses are open to anyone of any age from any country, with or without an Amateur Radio license."

Medals will be awarded in five age categories for male competitors and four for female competitors, in accordance with International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) rules. The competition, which will include both 80-meter and 2-meter events, gets under way June 16.

After a day for practice and alignment sessions and opening ceremonies the full-length 2-meter competition will take place June 18. The 80-meter competition will take place the next day, followed by closing ceremonies.

Moell says the USA Championships will occur just in time for final selection of ARDF Team USA 2004 members. Those chosen for Team USA will travel to the Czech Republic for the 12th ARDF World Championships, September 7-12. "Team positions will be filled based on performances in the 2004 events in California and the 2003 events in Ohio," he explained.

An official Web site for the 2004 Championships is under construction. It will contain complete rules and technical details, including competition frequencies, plus registration and lodging information. Information about transmitter hunting and US ARDF activities is available on Moell's Homing In Web site.

Learn more < >

Force-12 Antennas OK after Paso Robles Quake

Force 12 President Tom Schiller, N6BT, reports the antenna manufacturer--located in Paso Robles--suffered "minimal damage" from the December 22 quake. "Most of it was confined to the front office, with ceiling tiles falling down, books and computers being tossed around," Schiller said in an update on the company's Web site.

Canadians may lose 220 MHz Segment

Canadian hams may lose 220-222 MHz segment: After studying the spectrum needs of various services over the past 18 months, the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) plans to recommend to Industry Canada (IC) that the 220-222 MHz band segment be transferred from the Amateur Service to the Mobile Service. The RABC recommended allocating 219-220 MHz to amateurs in Canada on a secondary basis, in harmony with a similar allocation for US amateurs, who lost the 220-222 MHz band segment in 1991. In addition, the RABC asked that IC continue 222-225 MHz as a primary exclusive amateur allocation. It also recommended grandfathering amateur repeaters in the 220-222 MHz segment, to continue operation for a period of time that the IC would determine, rolex replica and designating 150 kHz of spectrum for the Amateur and Mobile services to share for certain public safety and disaster communication applications. Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) has vigorously opposed the proposed changes without success. The RAC has posted additional information on its Web site. [RAC bulletin]

Learn more < >

New Morse Character to Learn

To keep up with the times, the IARU proposed adding a new character--the commercial "at" or @ symbol--to permit sending e-mail addresses in Morse code. The draft new recommendation proposes using the letters A and C run together (.--.-.) to represent the @ symbol.

While the draft new recommendation is still a working document, its expected to become a Recommendation within six months or so, pending approval by member-states.

[The excerpts above are taken from the ARRL Newsletter, an electronic newsletter published weekly by the American Radio Relay League. Las Cumbres ARC is indebted to the ARRL for their newsgathering! - ed.]

Board Meeting Minutes: Dec 6, 2003

Agenda items are numbered.
Discussion follows each item.
ACTION ITEMS / OWNER follow Discussion.

  1. Elections/Nominating committee. I believe that the terms of Tom K6KMT, Dan K6PRK, Ned KE6ZOZ and Jey KQ6DK are up.
    Discussion: There should be 3 directors elected in an even-numbered year, and 4 directors elected in an odd-numbered year. Indeed, Dan 'PRK, Tom 'KMT, and Ned 'ZOZ are up for re-election. These gentlemen need to decide what to do for 2004. As for Jey, he was elected for a one-year term in 2002, and then ran for a two-year term in 2003. Jey 'DK, Ken 'CK, Bob 'OPO, and John 'FND were elected in March 2003. Three active members were suggested as potential candidates: Skip AA6WK, Steve WD6FTE, Steven AI6Q.
    ACTION ITEMS / TOM, DAN, and NED: Will you be running for another term in 2004?
    ACTION ITEMS / BOB and KEN: Approach prospective candidates to run for office.
  2. General Meetings: Should we attempt this again?
    Discussion: Members are asking for them. Directors would like to resume them. The meeting room seems to be the snag. Bob remembers that Tom had a connection for the HP Oak Room. We may need to recruit Skip 'WK or someone else to be our token HP employee to allow us access. Three programs that could get things rolling: Bob on NARCC; Dan on Remote Bases; Dan on Coax Colinear antennas. Bob won the toss of the quarter and is up first with his NARCC presentation once we have a room.
    ACTION ITEM / TOM: Spill details of how to get on the Oak Room schedule.
  3. 220 Repeater: Is that other group still interest in using our 220 repeater?
    Discussion: None. Not an issue.
  4. 220 Repeater: To link or not to link?
    Discussion: Dan discussed some recent changes to the 220 system including antenna replacement. He also proposed changes to the scheduler so that the 220 can be de-linked until the next schedule change. The schedule changes every 8 hours or so. This would allow the 220 to be linked most of the time, delinked for special events, and it would then default back to a linked state at the next "Control Operator Changeover". This was the favored approach.
    ACTION ITEM / DAN: Please set up the necessary controller states for 220 default linking. Also, set up the control operator codes to effect the necessary changes.
  5. Controller: Can/should we upgrade to a controller that can control all repeaters?
    Discussion: There is no controller on the market that could control three repeaters, so that option is not practical. Further, this would not allow us to utilize our present investment in remote bases.
  6. Calendar for next years events.
    Discussion: Not much discussion here. It was covered in agenda item #2.
  7. Board Meetings: When and where?
    Discussion: Fifth Saturday Breakfasts are not conducive to board business meetings. Ken suggested a meeting one week before Fifth Saturday Breakfasts. Travelling to a meeting isn't practical for Jey. Next idea was to either have a teleconference or a Friday evening meeting followed by the Saturday breakfast the following morning. The teleconference was favored. Bob will set up a teleconference.
    ACTION ITEM / ALL: Plan to be dial in to the Directors Meeting, Jan 24, 12:30 PM, details to follow.
  8. Amendment: Bob 'OPO Who should be on signature card?
    Discussion: Bob, Dan, and Tom were recommended. Jey may need to sign as Secretary.
  9. Amendment: Bob 'OPO: A repeater in Newcastle is requesting coordination (442.575 PL 162.2)
    Discussion: Bob was alternatively swapping his NARCC and LCARC hats. He knows of an applicant for that is co-channel for our 440 frequency that is requesting coordination. To date, LCARC has not heard much from this repeater. Newcastle elevations varies from ~700-1100 feet. Depending on it's location, it may or may not be much of a threat to LCARC/440.
    0 ACTION ITEM: Dan and Bob will trek to Black Mountain for an experment. Jey will look for a location with line of (radio) sight to LCARC and Newcastle repeater requesting coordination. We will see if running high power to reach Las Cumbres might be a big enough issue.
  10. Amendment: Bob 'OPO: Bob shared some recent Las Cumbres ARC financial statements from Jan 2002 to date.
    Discussion: There were a few tangential questions. The numbers looked fine.

Respectfully submitted,
Jey Yelland
Secretary, Las Cumbres ARC

Editor: Jey KQ6DK

2004-05 Club Directors

PresidentKen Carey, KN6CK
Vice-PresidentJohn Rosica, KA2FND
SecretaryJey Yelland, KQ6DK
TreasurerBob Lanning, W6OPO
Membership ChairTom Campbell, K6KMT
Technical CommitteeDan Smith, K6PRK
TrusteeTom Campbell, K6KMT
Member at LargeNed Rice, KE6ZOZ
LCARC Voice Repeaters & Packet Systems

Voice Repeaters (All are linked)
- K6FB/R: 145.450 MHz (-) PL=100
- K6FB/R: 442.575 MHz(+) PL=100
- K6FB/R: 223.880 MHz(-) PL=100

- K6FB-1: Digipeater: 145.050 MHz
- K6FB-2: Bulletin Board: 145.05 MHz
- K6FB-7 Node (alias LCARC): 145.050 MHz
- K6FB-5 tcp/ip "losgatos" [], 145.750 MHz

© 2004, Las Cumbres Amateur Radio Club