Happeningsby Jonnie Hutchison W4AW, EC
The Alexander County C.E.R.T. will meet May 20th for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 7:00 PM at the County Courthouse. All members are encouraged to attend. Visitors are welcome. On the agenda is further discussion and preparation for Field Day (June 24-25). A table-top drill is also planned. Please bring an HT for the drill.
A little over half of our members have purchased uniform shirts. Most of these have been delivered and we are expecting those who have the new shirts to wear them to our next meeting. All other members are encouraged to purchase a uniform shirt as soon as possible. Total cost of the shirts which includes both ARES and RACES patches and imprinting on the back of the shirt comes to around $36.00.
If you would like to order a shirt see me and I will place an order for you. We already have the ARES and RACES patches and T Sport Shop is doing the imprinting on the back of the shirts. John Dollar, N4NNX, is contributing American flag emblems for the shirts.
Here are some guidelines for use of our uniform shirts.
1. Uniform shirts will be worn at all Alexander County ARES/RACES meetings, drills and public service events.
2. To maintain uniformity the following emblems may be worn on the shirt: ARES patch on the left arm; RACES patch on the right arm; Flag emblem under the RACES patch; Skywarn Patch under the ARES patch (Optional – for trained Skywarn spotters only); Alexander County EOC ID badge to be worn over the left hand front pocket; optional callsign badge or other emblem over the right front pocket.
To complete the uniform we are suggesting that all members wear black jeans or pants. Our C.E.R.T. caps have been back-ordered. According to the vendor they will be available sometime between the 12 and 22nd of May.
Net Control Sked
The schedule for net control stations is available on the web at our Net Manager’s special NCS web site. The url is:
SkyWarn Net Activated
Due to threatening weather in the county a Skywarn net was activated on April 17th. NCS was Jonnie, W4AW. The net lasted about four hours. Several members participated in the net. During the storm the repeater surge protector was activated by a nearby lightening strike and the repeater was down for several minutes. The net remained active during this time utilizing simplex on the output frequency of the repeater. Bradley, KE4TSC, our technical director, had the repeater back online within the hour. Thanks to all stations who participated in this event. When severe weather threatens our county be sure to monitor the 441.625 repeater. Also monitor the Charlotte area Skywarn net on 145.35/R. Remember, any member may activate our SKYWARN net when conditions warrant.
Our club application for a vanity callsign has been submitted to the FCC. Our first choice for a callsign is NC4AC. As of this writing this vanity callsign was still available. We hope to have our new callsign to use in our upcoming Field Day activities.
Field Day is an annual event sponsored by the ARRL which tests the technical and operational ability of hams across the nation. This years dates for Field Day are June 24-25. The object of Field Day is to "work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (except 30, 17, and 12 meters) and in doing so to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. A premium is placed on developing skills to meet the challenges of emergency preparedness as well as to acquaint the general public with the capabilities of Amateur Radio." (QST, May 2000, pg. 84).
Field Day is the perfect event for testing our emergency preparedness and to demonstrate to served agencies and to county residents the emergency capabilities of the CERT. Let’s get excited about Field Day!! We need all members who are available to participate in this event. (For more info and Field Day rules see QST, May 2000, pgs. 84-85.)
Amateur Radio Enforcement
Every ham involved in public service and emergency communications should understand the necessity of abiding by the FCC rules which govern the Amateur Radio service. To amateur operators who strive to follow the rules and regulations of the amateur radio service the recent upswing in FCC enforcement efforts is very encouraging. Recent enforcement proceedings include several hams and some non-hams from North Carolina and a few from surrounding counties. In enforcement efforts the FCC utilizes High Frequency direction finding equipment located at a center in Columbia, Maryland to track down the signals of offenders. Much of their enforcement activities rely upon information submitted directly by amateurs to the FCC. Such information is followed by "Warning Notices" sent to the offending ham. If the warning notice is unsuccessful revocation of the amateurs station license and/or fines and even criminal prosecution may be pursued. The FCC enforcement logs (available at the ARRL Website) make for some fascinating reading. It is amazing that any amateur radio operator who has worked so hard to obtain a legitimate license would place it in jeopardy by transmitting outside the amateur bands on frequencies not assigned to the amateur radio service. Or, who would intentionally and maliciously interfere with other stations or repeater operations. Here is a sampling of some of the actions which warranted FCC enforcement: "the FCC has received ‘numerous complaints regarding malicious interference and jamming, apparently originating from your station"; "...the licensee has been using ham gear on the Citizens Band and other frequencies ...using FM and LSB on 27.320 and 27.375 MHz and transmitting at power limits above those authorized for the Citizens Band"; "the FCC also alleged ‘broadcasting and deliberate hasrassment of other operators on the repeater’"; "...the FCC had monitoring evidence indicating that the licensee has ‘deliberately and maliciously interfered with radio operations of other amateur licensees on 3.865 Mhz...included broadcasting, harassing other operators, profanity/obscenity, poor amateur practice and operation contrary to the basis and purpose of Amateur Radio."
We commend the FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement, Riley Hollingsworth, for his diligence in enforcing the amateur rules and making ham radio more enjoyable for everyone.
Our May net training consisted of the following information:
LEmergency Radio Operation Necessities:
When handling emergency traffic with another station all operators need to have the necessary tools to do a good job. These include:
1. Willingness to give of yourself. Participating in volunteer communications during times of emergency and especially disasters can be very time consuming and stressful.
2. Knowledge of proper operating procedures. This includes the use of call signs, prowords/prosigns and the phonetic alphabet.’
3. The proper equipment. Radios, antennas, computer and power sources. The proper kind for the job at hand.
4. Knowledge of equipment set up and operation. If a change in frequency or mode of transmission or a different antenna is required to maintain contact, knowing the equipment is the only way.
5. Experience. This can only be had from training on exercises and from actual participation in a communications emergency.
6. Confidence. This will be gained from the combination of the above. It takes time, practice and effort. It doesn’t just happen.
LSteps to facilitate passing formal message handling:
1. Enunciate each word clearly and slowly. Don’t drag it out but, again, don’t rush it.
2. Send a cluster of only two to four words, or a convenient short phrase, at a time and pause a few seconds before the next cluster, or phrase, is passed.
3. For a long piece of traffic, break about every 15 to 25 groups and allow the receiving operator to catch up and ask for fills (repeat groups).
4. On unusual or difficult words, spell them phonetically. (Example: "difficult", I spell Delta India Foxtrot Foxtrot India Charlie Uniform Lima Tango, difficult.")
5. With initials, like IRS, spell them phoentically. (Example: "initials, India Romeo Sierra.")
6. With figure groups give each figure individually. (Example: thirteen would be given as "figures wun-tharee.")
The NWS office in Greenville_Spartanburg broadcasts continuous weather information and short fused warnings on 4 transmitters serving Northeast Georgia, Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina:
WXH_24 (162.425 MHz) Broadcasts from Currahee Mountain, GA
WXJ_21 (162.550 MHz) Broadcasts from Paris Mountain, SC
WXL_56 (162.400 MHz) Broadcasts from Mount Pisgah, NC
WXL_70 (162.475 Mhz) Broadcasts from Spencer Mountain, NC
NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can usually be heard within a 40 mile radius of the antenna site, sometimes more. The effective range depends on many factors, particularly the height of the broadcasting antenna, terrain, quality of the receiver, and type of receiving antenna.
Normal programming over each transmitter is tailored for the following counties:
For WXH_24...In Georgia...Franklin, Stephens, Rabun, Habersham, Banks, Hall and White. Also in South Carolina...Oconee.
For WXJ_21...In South Carolina...Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, and York.
For WXL_56...In North Carolina...Buncombe, Burke, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Madison, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania, and Yancey
For WXL_70...In North Carolina ..Alexander, Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly and Union. Also in South Carolina...Cherokee, Chester, Lancaster, and York.
You may have noticed the new voice of NOAA Weather Radio. This computer generated voice is part of the NOAA Weather Radio 2000 program and is known as the Console Replacement System. This system almost completely automates the NWR broadcast, allowing the staff to focus on other duties during rapidly changing weather. This system will also allow us to operate several more transmitters, increasing the coverage of NWR.
Some people have found the new voice a little difficult to understand. We are constantly working to improve the voice. Sometime in the future a new technology, know as "voice concatenation" will replace the current voice. This voice will sound exactly like a human operator, though there is no projected time for the implementation of the voice.
Upcoming Spotter Training
What:Advanced Spotter Training
Where: East Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, Charlotte, NC
When: May 30th at 7pm
Talk-in Frequency: 145.29; 145.35; 146.94
Contact:Greg WB4HRR/CASN EC
Sponsors: Charlotte Area Skywarn; Mecklenburg County ARES