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Local Elmer Classes Coming Back Soon!

20 Aug

The ICRC (Insurance City Repeater Club) – one of our “neighbor” clubs that meets in Farmington – is bringing back their elmer’s net for new (and experienced!) hams in the Fall.

Please contact Mike (N1QLN) via the ICRC website with ideas that you think should be part of the weekly net. Antennas, amps, coax vs. ladderline, impedance matching, etiquette, upgrading to HF, propagation basics, digital, APRS, you name it – let Mike know!

The classes will meet on the ICRC repeater system – dates TBD.

146.880/147.150/442.850 Mhz.
All with the PL 77Hz. Also 224.600 PL 123.0 Hz

Thank you Bill (AB1LZ) for bringing this to our attention.

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20 Words for Field Day!

20 Jun

20 words for Field Day

Ham radio operators like lingo – here are some terms you may hear around a Field Day “shack”

  1. Amateur or “Ham” Radio: amateur radio operator are often called “hams.” They are fully licensed by the FCC in the US, and by other national governments to operate radio stations and manage sophisticated radio equipment often capable of communicating around the world, with satellites, and even bouncing signals off the moon. Amateur radio operators are strictly non-commercial, and use their licenses and skills to advance technology, education, and public service.
  2. Analog: Analog signals are characterized by a continuously changing wave in contrast to sending numbers representing “real” information in a digital signal.
  3. ARRL: The national association for amateur radio in the United States.
  4. ARES: The ham radio emergency communications service that helps with public events, and communications during emergencies.
  5. Bandwidth: the amount of “room” that a signal takes up. There is a limited amount of frequencies available. Each service like amateur radio and commercial users are assigned limits on the range of frequencies that they can use. Some modes like CW are very efficient, so many CW signals can “fit” in the same space that a single voice signal would use.
  6. Commercial radio station: a radio station licensed by the FCC to operate on a particular frequency for business use, or to make money (such as by playing music and ads).
  7. CW: “Continuous Wave” – also known as Morse Code. Morse code is still used today, and remains one of the most effective types of signal when conditions are poor or low power is used.
  8. Digital: Digital refers to using numbers to communicate. These signals are often generated and received by computers, allowing files or text to be sent and received. Morse code is actually a type of digital signal. It is either “on” (1) or “off” (0).
  9. DX: ham radio shorthand for a foreign country – also used to refer to contacts very far away.
  10. FCC: The US Federal Communications Commission that legally governs and licenses the use of radio waves in the US.
  11. Frequency: a measure of how many times an electromagnetic wave changes its polarity every second. A signal that changes 95,000,000 times every second is 95 MHz – part of the FM band on a car radio. Electromagnetic waves of different frequencies have different properties and can all share the same environment while carrying different signals like voice, digital, or morse code.
  12. HF: frequencies below 30MHz that are characterized by long distance communications made possible by bouncing off the ionosphere.
  13. Ionosphere: The layer of charged particles in the atmosphere off which lower frequency signals can be “bounced” to enable communications beyond the horizon.
  14. Modes: AM and FM on a car radio are two modes – ways information (such as music) can be sent. CW (morse code) and digital techniques are other modes. Each mode has different advantages and disadvantages in terms of the amount of power they take, how much information can be sent, and how much “room” (bandwidth) they consume.
  15. QSO: a conversation.
  16. QTH: your station location.
  17. Repeaters: a radio station that automatically extends the range of other radio systems. Repeaters work by listening to the signal put out by these stations, and re-transmitting them. Repeaters are put on mountains and tall buildings to give smaller stations (like handheld radios) more range.
  18. Skywarn: the National Weather Service program to spot and report dangerous weather, the “trained eyes on the ground” – many of whom communicate with the Weather Service over amateur radio.
  19. Transceiver: instead of having separate receivers and transmitters, many hams use transceivers. A transceiver has both a transmitter and receiver inside it and switches between the two functions – a “two way” radio.
  20. VHF/UHF: Different frequencies are grouped into categories. HF is below 30 MHz, VHF is in the 30-300MHz range, UHF is from 300-3000MHz. Above that are microwaves. These categories have different properties, such as the ability to bounce off the ionosphere, penetrate it easily, how easily they travel through air and buildings, and how much information they can carry.

Reminder: Skywarn Training Wed. May 16, 2012

16 May

Tolland County Skywarn Training Wednesday May 16 2012 7-10 PM Canton Community Center Multi Purpose Room, 40 Dyer Ave Canton, CT.

For more info, please visit www.ctskywarn.com

Due to budget cuts to the National Weather Service there is no guarantee that additional classes will be scheduled. If you need to recertify (have not attended a class in 3 years) or have never attended a spotter training class you should try to attend one of these classes.

– Steve Williams K1SJW ARRL CT Section ARES DEC SKYWARN

Fly-In 2011 Recap

19 Sep

A beautiful day for the Simsbury Fly-In 2011, which included a fly-by of a massive C-5 transport plane. Some of the members of the Bloomfield Club joined Skip and the East Granby ARES group in promoting amateur radio.

The booth featured HF and VHF/UHF, brochures, and great hams available to promote the service and answer questions.

Left to right: Josh (AC1N), Bill (AB1LZ), Skip (W1FTE), and Dick (N1ABN).

Thanks also to all the hams, pilots, and others who stopped by, including several members of the Connecticut Soaring Association!

More pictures here:

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2PM Wednesday Sept. 14, 2011: TMSC On the Air!

13 Sep

2pm tomorrow Sept. 14, 2011 join the students of Talcott Mountain Science Center on the Bloomfield Club Repeater – 146.820 (-) no PL.

Say hi and share the joy of amateur radio!

Thank you to all who got on air to welcome the TMSC kids to amateur radio!

Hartford Billings Forge Market August 25, 2011

28 Aug

I was a bit busy with getting ready for Hurricane Irene to post a recap of our last scheduled Farmer’s Market public demo of the season at Hartford’s Billings Forge on Thursday August 25. The market was interrupted twice by heavy downpours, a “preview” for Irene. The good news is that this gave us great opportunities to talk with market-goers who joined us under our tent to get out of the rain.

A future ham?

An 11-year old girl attending the market asked me a question I normally don’t get from someone without radio experience: “How do you point the signals to the person you want to talk to?” I explained to her (with examples) how directivity / gain are related, and different antenna types from omnidirectional antennas to Yagis and parabolic antennas. Afterwards I asked her to see if she could identify the likely frequency of operation of different antennas, and their pattern – all of which she intuitively and correctly answered. She also got on the air with her siblings and mother watching and spoke loudly, and confidently to another station using a local repeater (we don’t usually transmit on HF at this market due to the close quarters to surrounding buildings and tents- the market is in a courtyard in downtown hartford around noon time).

Questions and Answers

We got the “usual” sort of questions regarding CB vs. amateur radio, and with the hurricane taking aim, also distributed quite a few English and Spanish-language preparedness brochures. Many of the attendees speak Spanish as their primary language.

Other questions included how to get licensed, what makes it fun, and cost. Amateur radio is a different kind of “product” or “service” in that it can be used for everything from rag-chewing to emergencies to electronics education, experimenting, contesting, and provide a “fraternal” experience of sending signals into the ether. Because amateur radio is so many things, it can be difficult to summarize concisely “what” exactly “it” is.

Interestingly no questions this week involved concerns about getting into ham radio as being too complicated to learn for someone without an electronics background. Also no questions about amateur radio being obsolete or no longer needed. In the four markets we have attended this season – that question only came up once. Most attendees, even if unfamiliar with “who” or “what” we are, seem to recognize amateur radio as a valuable service.

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Higganum Village Market Recap

15 Aug

Friday was the Higganum Village Farmer’s Market Public Safety Appreciation Day. The Market Master expressed her appreciation for our attendance and our setup with 2 HF rigs, an FT-8900 and portables. Antennas were a buddistick vertical and hamstick dipole, and a 2m/440 J-Pole.

We were really excited to have had help from hams from Region 2: Douglas, WA1SFH (DEC) came up from Milford, and Barclay, WU1B joined us from Haddam (Higganum Village is part of Haddam).

An Excellent Rapid Deployment Test

We learned a LOT from this event. We had some issues with the antennas – detuning from other objects, and some coax problems. Having the graphical analyzer helped a lot. Problems were quickly resolved but it was a very good test of our abilities – making this very valuable ARES experience also. The visitors who stopped by included 2 young kids who made a QSO on 2m and a prospective ham who has been studying the books.

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The Markets are For Us to Learn Too

Overall traffic was a bit light, but we got terrific feedback: the setup we had was a bit “technically intimidating.” Lots of radios, antennas – may give the impression that “no I can’t do this – way too complex – I’m not a technical person.” We also decided that putting the antennas out front, more prominently but with flags or pendants promoting amateur radio may increase our visibility. Both were ideas Douglas mentioned and afterwards several others also suggested the same.

Given the first concern about coming across as too technical, the new signs say will be something we need to work on. Also, the message for each event needn’t always be the same – each market or community event tends to draw a different crowd in terms of technical abilities, and even interest – those living in the city may not be as excited about big towers as someone with 15 acres in a rural area (or they may be interested but won’t even stop by, assuming amateur radio is something they won’t be able to pursue).

Douglas and Barclay were invaluable in helping us set up and teardown, and in all of our discussions we had on booth design, promoting amateur radio, getting into schools, and more. These market events are also getting hams together for more than public service and club meetings – they are providing an opportunity to work with other hams from all over the State, share ideas, and get to know one another.

Thank you again Bill, AB1LZ, Don, K1IN, Skip, W1FTE, Douglas, WA1SFH, Barclay, WU1B, Betsey, K1EIC and Chet, and everyone else who helped make this and the other events this summer possible. We have two more Markets scheduled in Hartford on the 18th and the 25th, both from 11AM to 2PM at Billings Forge. Bill and Don, K1IN will be managing the event on the 18th and I look forward to seeing everyone on the 25th! See you there!

-Josh, AC1N

August 2011 Market Assignments

10 Aug

Unless otherwise noted, here are the latest CONFIRMED participants for the Markets.

Friday, August 12 – Higganum Farmer’s Market Public Safety Appreciation Day

  1. AC1N – Josh
  2. AB1LZ – Bill
  3. K1EIC – Betsey
  4. WA1SFH – Douglas
Thursday, August 18 – Billings Forge Hartford Farmer’s Market
  1. AB1LZ – Bill
  2. K1IN – Don
  3. KB1KWY* (Possible)
Thursday, August 25 – Billings Forge Hartford Farmer’s Market
  1. AC1N

We Need A Few Good Hams – Hams@Market

2 Aug

Higganum Village Farmer’s Market Public Safety Appreciation Day, Higganum Village Town Green, Corner of Route 81 and Route 154 in Higganum, CT3:30PM to 6:30PM, Friday August 12. (Setup is 2:30-3:00PM).

Hartford Farmer’s Market at Billings Forge (right near the intersection of Capital Avenue and Broad Street, next to the Firebox restaurant and within walking distance of the State Armory building in downtown Hartford).

  • Thursday August 18, 11AM – 2PM (Setup 10AM).
  • Thursday, August 25, 11AM – 2PM (Setup 10AM).

Recap from Our First Market

It was a tremendous time at last week’s Hartford Farmer’s Market at Billings Forge. I can’t thank Rita and the rest of the Billings Forge team, and Concetto Dimauro and Tony from Chet’s Italian Ice for all their help.

We introduced a lot of people to ham radio. Many people were familiar with the amateur radio response to the Springfield Tornado, the Joplin tornado, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and other disasters. However, a lot of questions were asked about “what is ham radio.”

In other words – people understand it’s important – they understand it’s valuable – but they don’t know what “it” is!

These farmer’s markets are just like GOTA at Field Day – a special opportunity to introduce the public to ham radio, get them on the air, and hopefully some will eventually join us after getting their Novice, General, or Extra tickets!

We have four more market’s scheduled right now and we need your help to make it a success. If you can help out with any of these events it would be very much appreciated – even if it just means hopping on the air so that our visitors – especially kids – have someone to talk to! Please RSVP to Josh, AC1N.

Again, here are the times, dates and locations with maps:

Higganum Village Farmer’s Market Public Safety Appreciation Day – 3:30PM to 6:30PM, Friday August 12. (Setup is 2:30PM-3:00PM).

Hartford Farmer’s Market at Billings Forge (right near the intersection of Capital Avenue and Broad Street, next to the Firebox restaurant and within walking distance of the State Armory building).

  • Thursday August 18, 11AM – 2PM (Setup 10AM).
  • Thursday, August 25, 11AM – 2PM (Setup 10AM).

Join Us at the Market! Thursday July 28 11am-2pm.

25 Jul

Starting this Thursday, July 28 we will be launching a series of educational and outreach events at area Farmer’s Markets to demonstrate amateur radio. These community events often bring hundreds of people of all ages and walks of life together for food, crafts, entertainment, and education. Everyone from local artisans and wineries, to alternative energy firms and schools take part in these family-friendly events.

The Billings Forge farmer’s market is held every Thursday right in downtown Hartford in the Frog Hollow neighborhood from 11AM – 2PM. The Market has been operating since 2007 and seems to increase in popularity every week. People from the neighborhood, State employees, and office workers from the nearby insurance company headquarters all stop by during their lunch breaks.

You’re invited to join us on Thursday, whether on-air or in-person! For more information, please contact ac1n@arrl.net

For more information on the Market, please visit their webpage here. A very big thank-you again to the staff at Billings Forge and the Chet’s Italian Ice for making this possible!