Membership News

by Deb KK7DEB on 2019-04-17

Join me in welcoming our newest member, Todd K7EMI. Todd is a Legacy Good Sam Hospital responder and will be placed on our Supporting Members list.

Grounds and Grounding

There has been a lot of activity in the station building front in MCARES over the past few months. As I receive stories and reports I am greatly encouraged by everyone’s willingness to jump in and build a better radio station. One of the main topics of concern folks have when installing a new radio station is proper grounding. There is considerable confusion and strong feelings over this topic. I cannot hope to clarify the technical aspects of station bonding and grounding in a newsletter setting, but I do want to make sure that everyone is looking in the right places and asking the right questions when they consider their station grounds.

There has been a lot of activity in the station building front in MCARES over the past few months. As I receive stories and reports I am greatly encouraged by everyone’s willingness to jump in and build a better radio station. One of the main topics of concern folks have when installing a new radio station is proper grounding. There is considerable confusion and strong feelings over this topic. I cannot hope to clarify the technical aspects of station bonding and grounding in a newsletter setting, but I do want to make sure that everyone is looking in the right places and asking the right questions when they consider their station grounds.

First off, the best way to get the right information is to research the situation oneself from the appropriate resources! MCARES is adamant that the ARRL technical publications are the best place to find information that has been vetted by competent engineers and will lead to safe and effective station construction. The two best publications are Grounding and Bonding for Radio Amateur and The ARRL Handbook. Additionally, The ARRL Antenna Book for Radio Communications has very good in­-depth information regarding RF grounds and their effects on radiated signal.

When one begins their shack, consider the four types of grounding/bonding that are part of proper station design. These are:

  • Electrical Safety Bonding
    • The ground that provides the path for over­current protection and provides chassis shock protection.
    • This is the third prong / green wire in your house distribution
  • RF Ground
    • It is important to keep the shack equipment at the same reference potential to avoid current flows or potential differences that can affect the operation of modern equipment.
  • Chassis Ground
    • These are the connections we think of for grounding inside the shack, the individual chassis connections to a great, fat ground bar that makes its way to a good earth ground.
    • Bonding of equipment to prevent RF flow between them can be difficult, so make sure your ground strap setup is as clean and short as possible.
  • Lightning Dissipation
    • The design of these systems can be complicated; make sure to review your desired results before implementing lightning protection. Again, review the appropriate technical references when you go to set up your operating station, and stay away from QRZ and eHam forums; you’ll find too much time there will make you want to give up on grounding altogether.

Membership News

by Deb KK7DEB on 2019-03-24

Join me in welcoming our newest members. Todd KJ7DLZ and Matt KJ7DMW both join the Delta team. Paul K7PKC joins as a supporting member as he works for the City of Portland and is a PBEM ECC responder.

I was 14 when I first took the cover off an AM radio and fell in love with electronics. All those glowing vacuum tubes and “variable condenser” plates, it was fascinating. I told my father and a friend of his (a radio technician at Pan American Airways) gave me his old 1940’s correspondence course in electronics. It’s wasn’t easy, but I finally learned something about what made that magic work. Finally, in 1960, our pharmacist and ham operator Phil Bloom, gave me the novice exam and I became KN5BNT. He called it, K-N-5-Better-Not-Tarry.

But what is a 15-year-old going to do with Morse code in remote, rural Brownsville, Texas? So, I put it on hold and pursued more social interests, like cameras and girls.

Fifty years later I finally got back to it and took the Technician exam. This time, I could actually talk to people and it had a use. The Multnomah County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Portland NET gave it some people and a purpose.

Expecting to forget everything on the Technician test, I went ahead and took the General exam. Then knowing that I’d forget all that, I took the Extra test. I still don’t know much about radio technology, but now I have some real people to help me with it.

I am now K7INQ, which I phonetically pronounce K-7-I’m-Not-Quiet. I’m too talkative to be a natural at emergency communications, but I still love people and cameras. We all bring different talents to the table; so maybe I can be useful at promoting and teaching others about ham radio and emergency preparedness.

We are off to a great start to the new year with 71 folks attending the January meeting and 52 members joining in on the February 9 Winlink exercise. We also added two new members in January. A warm welcome to Greg KJ7CPK who joins the Echo team and Robert KI7VQR who joins the Bravo team.

The sign in sheet at our monthly meetings has become quite a time consuming task so we are starting a new procedure beginning at our February monthly meeting. There will be sign in sheets on the table to the left as you enter the meeting room. The sheets will list by team and all you need to do is find your team and name and initial that you are there. Pretty easy on your part but you must remember to check in. Our smiling greeter Ann KF7RBV will be there to remind you for the first few months. There will be a sheet for guests and others not assigned to a team so if you bring a friend direct them toward that sheet. We hope this change will make things easier and less distracting for our members. It will also make our bookkeeping easier.

Our February meeting will feature our EC, Nathan NA7EE, with a Multnomah County ARES overview. Our special guest, David Kidd KA7OZO, SEC and SM, will also talk to us about the State ARES and National ARRL organizations. There should be plenty of time to ask questions. We look forward to seeing you on February 28!

The Winlink Drill from Home on February 9 indicated that we need to improve in three basic ways: understanding the drill guide, testing knowledge and equipment, and sticking to business.

The first and last step in preparation for any drill is to read the Drill Guide. This is usually emailed to the entire membership up to a week or two before the drill. Read it carefully all the way through as soon as you receive it and be sure you understand what is expected of you. If you don’t understand something, email leadership [at] multnomahares [dot] org for clarification. If we get the same question several times, we will revise the guide. Watch for a last minute revised drill guide and read it all the way through again. About an hour before the drill starts, read the drill guide all the way through again, and again, and again. Print it, highlight the tasks and instructions you will need and keep it with you throughout the drill.

As MCARES operators, we should always have our gear in top operating order and know how to use it. Drills give us an opportunity to check this. At least a day or two before the drill, check out the equipment you will be using, including the software. Are your batteries fully charged, including your laptop? Is your Winlink Express version up to date? If you don’t do this often, you may need to reinstall with the latest version. Update the channel selection too. Waiting until the last minute may lead to unexpected delays if your operating system decides it needs a major update and you need to reinstall Winlink Express. Do you remember how to send and reply to Winlink template messages? Can you connect to two or three gateways?

Are your settings and preferences correct? Everyone, please, in Winlink Express click Settings then Preferences.

All of the boxes in the “Message acknowledgement options” section should NOT be checked. In the “Message sending options” section, the “Add //WL2K’ to the subject of messages” should NOT be checked. //WL2K is ONLY needed if you are sending a message FROM a standard (not Winlink) email address to a Winlink address AND your standard email (from) address is not in the recipient’s whitelist.

In a disaster situation and in drills, the airways and gateways are very busy. That is why we stress keeping all communications brief and to the point and we do not engage in chit-chat and social niceties. This goes for voice as well as Winlink. Do not send any messages that are not asked for in the drill guide. Do not send copies (cc) unless requested. Do not ask for or send receipt acknowledgement messages. Do not resend a message if you don’t get a response quickly. Do not send large file attachments. (One gateway crashed because of this.) All of these things steal time from the frequencies and gateways and slow the delivery of the essential message traffic.

Every drill should be treated as if it were a real disaster response. Preparing for drills keeps us ready should something happen and we are activated. Following these suggestions (did I mention to read the Drill Guide?) will keep us all on our toes and ready to serve when we are called upon.

Usually a few small things go wrong, had a few more than usual this rove, but still a good time. First, the statistics:

  • 596 miles driven
  • Nine grids activated (had hoped for 12)
  • All Seven Bands 6m through 13cm got used
  • Preliminary 414 QSOs made
  • Lots of 2m FM activity in CN85

A bit much of the rain at the Coasts making for a pretty soggy weekend to be out, but a dry Monday Holiday to put everything away was quite a gift.

Antennas included loops for 6m through 70cm, verticals for 2m, 70cm, 33cm and 23cm, and gain antennas for 6m through 70cm. Those last four antennas proved to be “difficult when wet” and the SWR was unacceptable, causing me to leave them behind on the second day.

Another antenna snafu occurred with a low hanging tree branch taking exception to the passing of my 6m loop – knocking it down but not off the roof of the car. All went back together and afterwards, my 2m loop featured a much better SWR – what?

And on Sunday morning heading to the Coast my 2m FM rig was behaving strangely and I finally noticed that my radio bus voltage was 9.8V! Turned out my auxiliary battery had come unplugged from the car battery and I had flattened it. A few PowerPole arrangements later, it was out of the circuit for the rest of the journey and I made sure to run the engine more often.

Most fun QSO was 222.1-SSB with Mike KB7W in CN93 from CN85 on Green Mountain Road (Kalama). LOUD armchair copy over a 150 mile path.

Thanks to those ARES folks who got on the air – it was great to work everyone!

Weekly Net News

by Deb KK7DEB on 2019-01-20

Here are this year’s results for the most checkins to the Wednesday net!

Deb KK7DEB and Joe WA7FWC are tied for first (46 checkins each), followed by Bill KG7SEU in second (45), and then Ralph AG7FE in third (44). Thanks for a great year! Thank you net manager, Rachel KI7NMB, for compiling this information.

The January VHF Contest starts at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 19. Even a few minutes of participation will help anyone practice phonetics, become familiar with their radio, what frequencies to use, exchanges, antennas, etc. There will be LOTS of simplex activity on 2m FM (146.520, .540, .560, and .580) and some on 70cm (446.000). Even simple antennas and an HT from the kitchen table will make some contacts – higher elevations will be even better – so have some fun with it! The exchange is Grid Square with the Portland Metro Area being in CN85.

There will also be even MORE activity on SSB on 50.125, 144.200, and 432.100 MHZ if you are able.

Winter Field Day

by Robert WX5TEX on 2019-01-05

Multnomah ARES has decided to participate in Winter Field Day this year and would love to have you join us.

Winter Field Day is similar to the big ARRL Field Day in June, but a little smaller and definitely much colder – a perfect opportunity to not only get some on-air operating experience, but to also try out your go-kit and see how ready you really are to operate in less than ideal conditions.

Winter Field Day takes place on January 26 & 27, however we will only be operating on Saturday, January 26, from 09:00 until around 17:00, depending on how many people we have on site. We will be located at the picnic shelter at the top of Scouters Mountain in Happy Valley – SE Boy Scout Lodge Rd & Southeast 147th Ave, Happy Valley, OR 97086

While this is the coldest part of the year, this will definitely be a fun event, and don’t worry, we will have tents, heaters, warm drinks, and hot chili on hand to warm you up.

Please let us know if you plan on attending, we hope to see you there!