Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk about things to do to get yourself ready for storm season, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and hamfests over the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!
N3FJP Software Package Winner – Alan Meeker, KM4ZLD
Any/all ebooks written by Dan, KB6NU on kb6nu.com – Eric Broyles, KJ4KEU
Both of the above people, please send me a confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get your prize.
Tech Corner – Are You Ready For Storm Season?
With storm season fast approaching, it is time to make sure that you are ready for it, so you don’t get activated and find out you don’t have something.
First thing that I want to make clear, this post is not about things to have ready to chase storms! This should be left to the professionals. As a Skywarn spotter, your responsibility is to your home county/city. As a spotter you probably won’t go very far from your assigned location, except during those occasions where the NTS asks you to move somewhere else to spot from another location.
First off let’s talk about your vehicle. The typical ham radio storm spotter will only go a few miles, if that, from their home QTH to storm spot. Some of them might be lucky enough to be able to do it from home. The list below are some things that I think you should check before you get activated on your vehicle:
- Always make sure that you have plenty of gas/fuel!
- Make sure all your light are working properly. If you are able to have some type of emergency lights, make sure they work properly.
- Make sure your antennas and coax are in good condition
- Make sure your radio is working properly. Never storm spot with a hand held transceiver! Make sure that your radio is programmed correctly and that you can hit the repeater you will be using at your assigned location.
- Make sure you have a first aid kit in your car and that it is fully stocked including a cpr pocket mask; you never know when you might need it!
- Check your tires and your Spare tire. Make sure you have you jack and lug wrench and even pack a spare socket with break away bar that matches the nuts on your tire.
Storm Spotting Go Bag
Your storm spotting go bag is for those small things that you need to have ready at a moment’s notice so you can just grab it and go. Below is a list of things that I think you should have in it:
- Identification Card – Make sure you have a valid and current identification card from your Skywarn team to identify yourself if an officer stops by to ask you what you are doing.
- Reflective vest – the standard now is a neon lime green, however, at least have a neon orange. Whatever the color you wear, make sure sure you have reflective material on it.
- HT – even though you shouldn’t generally storm spot with your HT, you need to have some type of backup radio to use in case your mobile radio goes down for some reason.
- Extra batteries – make sure you have extra batteries for you HT, flash light, gps, etc.
- Map – even if you have a GPS in your vehicle, you should always have a hard Cody map of your area.
- APRS unit or at least a GPS – If your area has a APRS network already established, definitely have a APRS tracker in your vehicle. This allows the NTC operator and even the local NWS office to know your exact location at all times. If your area doesn’t have a network established, maybe you should spearhead the development of one. If you don’t have an APRS system, at least have a GPS in your vehicle, if nothing more than on your phone.
- Rain coat – although probably an obvious thing to have, a rain coat is great to have so that you don’t get totally drenched if you have to get out of your vehicle for whatever reason.
- Flash light – another pretty obvious thing to have is a flash light. Whether you have just a small mag light, or go one step further and get you a rechargeable flashlight that you can mount a charger/holder in your vehicle so it is always ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Spare charging cord for your phone(IPhone / Android) – I would wager that you probably already have phone charger in you vehicle, but they are pretty cheap and are great to have in your go pack in case something happens to the one in your vehicle.
- Compass – when you are out storm spotting it is very easy to get turned around or at least a little off on your direction that you are looking. This is especially true when you are spotting at night. Easy fix for this is to go a little old school and have a compass in your go pack.
- Hand held anemometer – if you have one. One of the things that you will have to do when giving a report during a Skywarn activation is a wind speed. In years past, that either involved buying a rather expensive anemometer or guessing by how much a tree if moving or something like that. Thanks to technological advances, handheld anemometers are rather cheap now and you can buy one off of Amazon for about $20! It is a whole lot better if you can give your report as “winds out of the north, measured at 30 mph” rather than, “winds out of the north at about 40 mph”. People have a tendency to overestimate wind speeds when giving a report.
- Spotting cheat sheet – If you local skywarn organization or you don’t get one when you goto Skywarn School, try to find one somewhere. Most of the time you will get these at Skywarn School which you are required to take at least once every two years. Click here to find a school near you!
NOTE: Some of the links in this section are affiliate links
West Mountain Radio
I would like to welcome my first podcast sponsor, West Mountain Radio! For those of you that don’t know who they are, they make some awesome equipment that I have had the pleasure of using over the past 15 or so years. They make several pieces of equipment that are so well built and are so useful. Things like the RIGBlaster, RIGrunner and the DC-to-Go Boxes. I talked a little bit about the RIGblaster in my last episode and I’ve talked about the RIGrunner several times in previous episode but today I wanted to tell y’all about their DC-to-Go Boxes.
These are neat cases that you can put a battery in to protect your station’s floor from an unfortunate battery accident, however, they are so much more than that as well. These boxes have a Super PWRgate PG40 and a RIGrunner 4007U or 4008 built into them as well.
The PWRgate provides you an uninterruptible power supply in case you lose AC power it will automatically switch to the battery in the box. This is a perfect solution for a repeater backup and/or event like the upcoming Winter Field Day!
The RIGrunner 4008 provides you with 40 amps of D.C. Power plug over 8 slots while the 4007u gives you 40 amps across 7 slots but it has some extra feature like a digital load meter and USB charging port as well as a solid state push button on/off switch and an automatic shutoff for high or low voltages!
Both of these are mounted to the side of the battery box. All you have to do is drop a battery inside and hook up the leads and you are ready to roll!!
Here are the links for the premade versions of the DC-to-Go boxes. It you can also Custom make one to your own choices!
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RIGrunner & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1381), $249.95
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RR4007U & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1577), $269.95
- Custom make your own!
|CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest||0000Z, Feb 11 to 2359Z, Feb 12|
|SARL Field Day Contest||1000Z, Feb 11 to 1000Z, Feb 12|
|Asia-Pacific Spring Sprint, CW||1100Z-1300Z, Feb 11|
|Dutch PACC Contest||1200Z, Feb 11 to 1200Z, Feb 12|
|KCJ Topband Contest||1200Z, Feb 11 to 1200Z, Feb 12|
|SKCC Weekend Sprintathon||1200Z, Feb 11 to 2400Z, Feb 12|
|OMISS QSO Party||1500Z, Feb 11 to 1500Z, Feb 12|
|New Hampshire QSO Party||1600Z, Feb 11 to 2200Z, Feb 12|
|FISTS Winter Unlimited Sprint||1700Z-2100Z, Feb 11|
|AWA Amplitude Modulation QSO Party||2300Z, Feb 11 to 2300Z, Feb 12|
|Balkan HF Contest||1200Z-1800Z, Feb 12|
|CQC Winter QSO Party||0100Z-0259Z, Feb 13|
|ARRL School Club Roundup||1300Z, Feb 13 to 2359Z, Feb 17|
|PODXS 070 Club Valentine Sprint||0000Z-2359Z, Feb 14|
|AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening||1900Z-2030Z, Feb 15|
|RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data||2000Z-2130Z, Feb 15|
|ARRL Inter. DX Contest, CW||0000Z, Feb 18 to 2400Z, Feb 19|
|Novice Rig Roundup||0000Z, Feb 18 to 2400Z, Feb 26|
|SARL Youth Day Sprint||0800Z-1000Z, Feb 18|
|Russian PSK WW Contest||1200Z, Feb 18 to 1159Z, Feb 19|
|Feld Hell Sprint||1900Z-2059Z, Feb 18|
|Run for the Bacon QRP Contest||0200Z-0400Z, Feb 20|
|SKCC Sprint||0000Z-0200Z, Feb 22|
*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
- Southeastern Division Convention (Orlando HamCation®) – Orlando, FL
- Swap N Shop – Traverse City, MI
- Arizona Section Convention (Yuma Hamfest) – Yuma, AZ
- Algonquin ARC Ham Radio Flea Market – Marlborough, MA
- Arkansas Section Convention – LCARC Winter-Fest – Hoxie, AR
- Brooksville Hamfest – Brooksville, FL
- Brownsburg Hamfest – Brownsburg, IN
- Cabin Fever Reliever Hamfets – Saint Joseph, MN
- Highlands County Hamfest – Sebring, FL
- Salem Hamfair – Rickreall, OR
- 46th Annual Livonia ARC Swap & Shop – Livonia, MI
- Mansfield Mid Winter Hamfest – Mansfield, OH
- The Swapfest – Brighton, CO
*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar
The QST Antenna Design Competition is Under Way!
ARRL members are invited to submit entries for the 2017 QST Antenna Design Competition. You can enter in one of three categories.
- 160 meters, LF, or VLF
- 80 through 10 meters
- 6 meters and higher bands
We can accept only one entry per person or team, so choose your category wisely. Don’t wait too long, though. The deadline is June 1, 2017!
First-place winners (individuals or teams) in each category will receive $500 each. Second and third-place winners in each category will receive $250 and $100, respectively. Winning designs will also be eligible for publication in QST.
Entries must include:
- Drawings with dimensions (hand drawings are acceptable).
- A list of materials required to build the antenna.
- A description and summary of any measurements taken (including SWR data).
- Photographs of the installed antenna.
- The entry category you’ve chosen for your design.
- Your name, mailing address, and e-mail address.
Only one entry per individual or team will be accepted. Entrants must be ARRL members. ARRL Headquarters staff and QST advertisers are not eligible.
Send your entry to QST, Attn: Antenna Design Competition, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Or e-mail your entry to email@example.com. The subject line should include your call sign and the words “Antenna Design Competition” (without quotes).
Complete rules are on the ARRL website.
Another Outstanding Year for Amateur Radio Licensing!
Last year — 2016 — was another outstanding one for Amateur Radio licensing. So says ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM.
“New Amateur Radio licenses issued were up by 1% over 2015, and this is the third year in a row that the total number of new licenses has exceeded 30,000,” Somma reported. She said 32,552 were granted in 2016, 32,077 in 2015, and 33,241 in 2014.
Somma said that while 2014 was a record-setting year for new licenses issued, ARRL VEC “continues to see an elevated interest in obtaining an Amateur Radio license.”
The overall trend continues to be up, up, up! The total number of US Amateur Radio licensees has continued to grow each year since the FCC eliminated the Morse code exam requirement in 2007. Over the past decade, the net number of Amateur Radio licensees has risen by nearly 87,000, according to statistics compiled by Joe Speroni, AH0A, who is ARRL Pacific Section Manager.
As of December 31, 2016, the total number of licensees in the FCC database was 742,787, topping the 2015 total of 735,405, but down just slightly from the all-time high of 743,003 reached last November.
Somma said license upgrades were down by 5% compared to 2015 — 10,617 versus 11,224. “A new Amateur Extra class pool took effect on July 1, 2016, which may have impacted upgrade totals in the second half of the year,” she speculated.
As of December 31, according to figures compiled by Speroni, there were 143,337 Amateur Extra licensees, 45, 071 Advanced licensees, 172,807 General licensees, 371,560 Technician licensees, and 10,012 Novice licensees. The FCC no longer issues Advanced and Novice class licenses. The General and Technician licensee totals at the end of last year were all-time highs, and the Amateur Extra total was nearly so.
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM