Saturday, April 4, 2009

2 Meter Band Opening Tonight

Got a nice 2 meter band opening this evening. Dan, KF4MND, made us aware of the opening and several of us moved over to the KG4PXG repeater which is just south of Brunswick about 70 miles from Savannah. All of the following stations were able to get into it. Mark-KA4CID from Richmond Hill, Mark-KD4PDX from Savannah, Dan-KF4MND from Long County, Lee-KJ4KEK from Baker County Florida, and Ray-KI4MCN from Banburg County SC. So I think we had about 200 miles between the northern most station and the southern most station. The repeater belongs to Worth-KG4PXG and it operates at 31 watts and the antenna is up at 155 feet. As the night wore on Dan and I were both even able to hit that repeater with handhelds at 5 watts!

Good DX to Eastern Europe and Siberia Tonight

Got several good contacts into Poland and Slovenia tonight on 40 meters.

Also worked three stations in Asiatic Russia (Siberia) over the pole on 20 meters.

ARES activated to Support Savannah Red Cross Chapter

On Thursday night, April 2nd we recieved a request from one of our local served agencies, Savannah Red Cross, to assist them with communications in support of the flood relief efforts across South Georgia. Steve, K4SDJ, and I manned the Red Cross amateur radio station, K3SRC, all day Friday and then again on Saturday. We tested all of the radios and got good comm checks on all of our designated frequencies. The affected areas span about 20 counties and the Red Cross asked us to prepare a plan to provide comm from the field back to the Disaster Operations Center in Savannah. Not knowing exactly how many operators we might need and which methods of communications we might use, we began to develop some ideas. As we discovered, most of the affected area is covered nicely by a linked 2 meter repeater system called "Tall Pines InterTie". We thought this might be an ideal system to leverage. Only problem is that the closest repeater to us that is in this system is in Waycross. So we thought if we could just figure out a way to get into the Waycross repeater we might be golden. So on Saturday, Dan, KF4MND, volunteered to take his "go kit" and drive a little ways south from his Long County QTH to see if he could "link" us in. He set up a radio to crossband from his home between the Savannah repeater and a simplex frequency which he would talk to from his mobile "go kit". Once in Screven, GA, Dan set up his kit and an antenna on a 25 foot mast. He was able to successfully get back into a Savannah repeater to his northeast and into the Tall Pines InterTie system to his southwest. Although we didn't need to provide the movement of any traffic today, we proved that it was possible for us to build a link down to Waycross if needed for future operations. Dan was able to work with a couple of local HAMs in the area including Bobby, KJ4BVS, to gather some valuable information and assistance. Bobby set up an Echolink connection from his station into the W4SGA link in Savannah and connected the Waycross repeater which allowed us to become part of the Tall Pines linked repeater system. As HAMs usually are, these guys were very accomodating and willing to assist. I sure appreciate Dans time and effort today. See a couple of pictures of Dan's setup below. This will give us a short term solution should we need it. And we are already talking about how we might be able to construct a permanent link from Savannah down to Waycross.

More Severe Weather in Savannah!

Boy have we been getting some good practice in weather spotting and Skywarn Nets lately. Had another evening of severe weather on Thursday, April 2nd. This is our normal night for the Chatham County ARES net so we had plenty of operators on the air.

Weather Net and Fox Hunt!

We had some severe weather here in South Georgia last Saturday evening, Mar 28. To be prepared we spun up an ARES net here on the local primary repeater to take checkins and just be ready to respond if needed. I ran the primary resource net on 146.970 and Mac ran the secondary and mobile net on 147.330. We had around 29 operators check in and make thier whereabouts and availability known. Extremely good participation and some good training. Good thing that we always designate a secondary frequency because we needed it. At about 1917 we lost the primary repeater due to a constant key from someones radio. The repeater has a 3 minute timeout if someone stays keyed for that long. Because the station continued to transmit it wasn't possible for our control operator, KT4RW, to reset the repeater. Without hesitation we resumed the net on the secondary repeater. After everyone had moved over we began the task of trying to determine who was keyed up on the 970. This turned out to be a great exercise in direction finding. We began taking signal reports from several of the operators on the signal that was keyed up. Several operators also had beam antennas that they were able to rotate to better determine the direction of the signal. After digesting all of this info we also did some deductive reasoning to zero in on one particular station that we thought might be the culprit. Ted, KJ4EGZ was mobile near the suspect area so he went to the house of the station of interest. Sure enough, Ralph, W4REQ determined that his rig was accidently keyed up on vox and putting out a constant carrier. It took us about an hour and fifty minutes to find but what an experience. Everyone did a great job. Ralphs radio was only putting out about 1 watt and he had a directional antenna pointed at the repeater. That radio would have run forever! Good job to all!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some of the days radio activities

My daughter Charlotte had a soccer game today so I decided to go watch over at the soccer complex on Sallie Mood Road. Not really that into soccer so I took my scanner and both handhelds along with me. Thought I might take the opportunity to do a little testing of my antennas. I was primarily interesting in testing my Jetstream JT776 146/223/446 antenna that I picked up at the hamfest back in Feb. It's also a recieve antenna for 120/150/300/450/800/900 MHz. I noticed over the weekend that I couldn't pick up anything on 2 meters with it so this seemed like a good time to play with it. I asked Mac, KF4LMT, if he would give me a hand. We tuned up on simplex at 146.520. We did some checks on the VX-7R using the stock rubber duck at various power settings. Then I put on the Jetstream but heard nothing. After closer inspection, it appeared that the center conductor was recessed and not making contact. That certainly would explain it. After I got home I was able to pull the center conductor out with a pair of needle nose pliers and all is well. While I was out there at the soccer complex we went ahead and tested the VX-7R with my scanner antenna. Worked fine. Also did some tests on the VX-2 at various power levels. Later in the evening I joined Mac, KF4LMT, and Robert, KJ4HAL, in playing around on digital simplex using our D-Star enabled radios. Mac and Robert both have Icom IC-91AD handhelds and I have an Icom ID-800H mobile. They were both running to external antennas and I was running to a dual band magmount on the truck. We all copied each other very well. We finished up in time to check in to the SE GA 6Meter Ragchew Net on 50.200 USB at 2100. Had 7 or 8 checkins tonight. Couple of new stations joined in tonight for the first time, K4QBS and KJ4KOD. After the net several of us moved over to 52.525 FM and were amazed at how well the FM was working on the band. After 6 meters, several of us moved over to 10 meters for a while with decent results. I love radio.