Welcome all GCARC members to another edition of Crosstalk, with well wishes and a Happy New Year to all in this, the 57th year of our club, two thousand and sixteen! Looking at the calendar, I see that this year, MMXVI, is a leap year, so we get an extra day to play. What are you going to do with your extra day?
There’s something I’ve always been curious about. If you were born on a leap day in a leap year, when do you get to celebrate your birthday? And when you turn 21, what day is that on for your friends to celebrate with you? Just curious.
As I am writing this, the forecast is for near 70 degrees here on Christmas eve. Now I used to live in Florida, and that was reasonable for there, but this is New Jersey, and it is December! This weather is confusing the spring flowers and trees around here. Isn’t doing much for those that make their living from or to those who look forward to winter sports around here either! This is whacked out!
With the warmer than expected weather, it might be hard to remember how this past year started. You might recall our January club meeting was held during a full-out blizzard, and yet a few hearty souls (or should I say “die-hard”s) made it out to the meeting anyway! With some luck, we won’t have any repeats of that this year! Things were a little better when John Zaruba (K2ZA) kicked of the inaugural Tech Saturday meeting at our clubhouse.
February’s club meeting included a double feature, with both an introduction from our new section manager, Skip Arey (N2EI), and an introduction from GigaParts’ Steve Molo (KI4KWR) of the brand new FT-991 transceiver from Yaesu.
In March, Cooper Hospital’s Bob Saunders (KC2UYS) and Section Emergency Coordinator John Zaruba Jr (K2ZA) unveiled a new rapid-deployment communications resource, affectionately referred to as “the pod”. The snow lingered on a bit after that, as did the crispy crunchy cold, as Jeff (KC2WCS) can attest to when he was first to find the hidden transmitter during our “Has Spring Sprung?” fox hunt.
In April, noted author John Dilks (K2TQN) helped us relive some moments of yesteryear, giving us a better appreciation of the efforts of those who pioneered amateur communications ahead of us. In a special session, Gary Mirkin (WA3SVW) led an overflow capacity FLDIGI class for the ARES/RACES group. Another highlight of the month was when members of GCARC were guest operators on board the Battleship NJ, courtesy of Harry Bryant (AA2WN). That was a fun weekend!
In May, Nobel prize recipient Dr. Joseph Taylor (K1JT) was our distinguished guest speaker, discussing weak signals modes with us. In my opinion, the popular “JT” modes that he invented made modern digital ham radio amazing. Thank you again, Dr. Taylor, for a most informative of presentations! Not exactly radio related, but also amazing was American Pharoah’s triple crown victory. That was a long time coming!
June started with free pizza, and finished with a couple weekends of battering from Mother Nature that left few Field Day operators standing. Though we probably won’t be talking about our field day score much longer, it’s likely other stories from field day 2015 will get retold for a lifetime. Here’s hoping for calmer clear skies for this year!
In July we had an amazing summer picnic at the Red Bank Battlefield Park (thank you Jennifer (KD2EYR) and Laurie (KD2EYW) and crew!). In August Mike Andrescavage (N2ICV) provided an excellent introduction and demonstration of DMR for ham radio. And then there was an amazing September. September brought two of the biggest events of the year to our area – the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, and the GCARC Hamfest!
We finished the year with a program on Antenna modeling software, election of new officers, a Milt Goldman award presentation (congratulations Bill (NJ2S)), and a holiday party in December (thank you Phyllis (W2PDB) and Ray (W2RM)). Even “Star Wars” made a long anticipated return to the theaters! All-in-all, a very good year!
How can we do so much in just one year? Well, the answer is simple. You do! Thank you for making this vibrant club what it is today! I especially want to thank you to all the new members who joined our club this past year. You rock! And hopefully you were able to attend some of our club meetings, and make it out for few of the club activities, and events in 2015 and will be able to do so again in 2016. Being part of an active club like ours offers opportunities for you to network with others and make connections with those who can help grow your interests. Glad you made the first step! Now, what’s next?
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
Palmyra and Jarvis, Willis and Futuna, Bevis and Butthead – I threw that last pair in there just for fun, but they were all the same for me; never heard, never contacted.
What about South Sandwich (VP8STI) and South Georgia (VP8SGI), described as “a cold and inhospitable place” and “one of the most remote places on Earth”, respectively? There’s a web page dedicated just to the progress of this DXpedition, with some pictures, if you are interested (www.intrepid-dx.com/vp8/). Any of you have better luck than me with any DX entities?
If the HF DX isn’t working to your favor, there’s still lots going on you might want to take advantage of, both on HF, and on VHF. We have an extra day to play on the radio this month, let’s use it!
For example, if you can get on 40M 7240kHz +/- and 20M 14330kHz +/- on Saturday, January 30,2016 from 0900 to 1600, the Punxsutawney Area Radio Club K3HWJ intends to be on the air with their annual Groundhog Special Event Station. Be sure to write down your contact number if you want a certificate. Editor’s Note: For the past few years, the Punxsutawney Area Radio Club’s Groundhog Special Event Station has also been using their 147.390 MHz repeater which is on the W3WAN Repeater System which in our area is on the 441.700 MHz repeater in Philly. So give that a try if you cannot get on HF.
This is also the weekend of the ARRL’s 6 Meters and up VHF contest. Amateurs of all license classes are encouraged to give this a try. How many contacts in how many grid squares can you contact from our FM29 location? This is a chance to see how far your 2 Meter rig really can reach, without coupling through satellites or the internet. Check for emails, as some members may be operating from our clubhouse during this weekend, if you wanted to get in on the fun and join them from there.
If HF is more to your liking, there’s lots of chances to work on your WAS awards through LoTW. What is WAS, and what is LoTW? Look for an upcoming club program on that! In short, February is a good month to try and build up your log to get confirmed contacts from every state in the United States. Yes, it can be done! Helping are several state QSO parties, the ARRL school club round-up (Feb 8-12), the PODXS 070 Club's PSK31 Valentine's Day Sprint (Feb 14), and the North American RTTY QSO Party (Feb 27-28) all on-the-air here in February. And don’t forget special event stations like NN4SA’s 45th anniversary of Apollo XIV on the moon (Feb 5-6), George Washington’s Birthday (K4US Feb 13-14), and many more as listed at www.arrl.org/special_events/search/page:1/model:Event that can add to the HF fun this month too!
While mentioning coupling through the internet, did you happen to catch Mark’s (WA2DIY) presentation at the last club meeting?
Thank you Mark! Very cool stuff. Innovation like this fosters interest in radio communication experimentation and advancement of the radio art for communication.
On the “club business” side, have you been following what your repeater committee has been up to lately? Way to go guys! Very impressive work! If missed it at our last club meeting, you can read about some of their progress in the February 2016 edition of Crosstalk. In addition to the repeater committee, other committees have also been busy already this year.
For example, the budget committee met to prepare this year’s budget, and took it to the board of directors for review. Next, they will be presenting our 2016 plan at the February meeting for your approval. The Hamfest committee has already been working to secure a date and location for this year’s event.
And the clubhouse committee has been busy with maintenance and improvements at the clubhouse site, including:
- Installing removable angle brackets to temporarily take the tension off the cables of the crank-up HF antenna tower.
- Installation of electrical usage monitoring equipment.
- Installation of approved propane heater.
- Painting to finish interior wall.
- Addition of wireless keyboard for logging in the HF room.
- And more!
Be sure to come out during the next Tech Saturday Feb 6 to see the improvements, and to see what else is left on the “punch list” that is up on the board you might be able to lend a hand with.
Nationally, there are radio changes you may have heard about as well. After serving 3 two year terms, ARRL president Kay Craigie, N3KN of Blacksburg, Virginia, is stepping aside, and the ARRL Board has elected Rick Roderick, K5UR from Little Rock, Arkansas to replace her. Some of the club’s long time members may remember N3KN from when she lived in our area. We applaud Ms. Craigie and thank her for her service.
I especially want to thank her for her efforts on behalf of the Amateur Radio Parity Act, which is presently being worked through congress (HR 1301, S. 1685). When conventional communications systems go down, Amateur Radio is often the last line of defense. Extending the FCC’s rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land-use restrictions, such as deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions is just the right thing to do for America. Please lend this effort your support. More info on this is at www.arrl.org/amateur-radio-parity-act.
In general, if you are interested in getting more involved with emergency communications, and emergency communications events, please check-in on Sunday night at 8pm on the club’s 147.180 MHz (PL 131.8 Hz) repeater. At the end of the net, ask the net control operator for more information.
For example, club member and SNJ SEC Tony Otlowski, W2WCC, has forwarded me an email from WS2Q/AAA2R9, the Civil Affairs Officer for US Army MARS, region 2, indicating that there will be a simulated national crisis situation communication exercise on Feb 12 (COMEX 16-1), that we might have the opportunity to be involved with.
That’s it for now. As always, please check our club website and your member email for any late breaking radio-club related news updates.
Hope to see you at the next club meeting Wednesday, February 3, 2016.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
With three hundred and sixty six days in this year, that day has finally come. Happy Leap Day, ya’ll! For those in retirement, it’s just another day in paradise. For those that get paid by the hour can smile; those on salary, your boss should thank you!
March kicks off with our club meeting on March 2, where former club president, and now County Radio Officer and ARES Emergency Coordinator for Camden County, Tom Gorman (KE2ES), will be our guest speaker for the evening. It should be a very interesting presentation. The need for emergency preparedness can manifest itself in many forms.
While typing this, I am watching a large brush fire in Westville being covered on local TV. If it wasn’t for a favorable wind direction, many houses would be threatened. We are reminded that emergency preparedness is about not knowing when things can change in an instant.
As readers of this website, you’re likely to know a thing or two about space weather. One of my favorite websites to track this is www.spaceweather.com. Ever hear of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs)? I’d guess most people probably haven’t. That web page features a chart of the known ones that are predicted to buzz our planet each month. The next known one predicted to “near miss” will pass on Saturday, March 5. Apparently, new ones are being discovered all the time. How not reassuring!
I’ll be raising a glass this St. Patrick's Day to toast continued future misses!
But enough of that. Let’s turn our thoughts to radio and warmer weather! The ARRL is sponsoring a 48 hour SSB DX Contest the weekend of March 5-6. The PODXS 070 club is having a members-only PSK31 mode St. Patrick’s Day contest (adult beverages optional). There’s still enough time to join if want to get in on this digital contest March 12 www.podxs070.com.
Closer to home, John Zaruba (K2ZA) will have a hands-on class in coax connector soldering on the morning of March 5 as part of Tech Saturday Forum out at our Clubhouse.
Bill Price (NJ2S) is organizing our next radio direction finding fox hunt outing. Everyone is encouraged to give it a try. It has been a while since our last one – and they can be lots of fun. Go to the GCARC Fox Hunts page and select Fox Hunt VIII for more information.
What about Field Day? Preparations have started now for that too. Al Arrison (KB2AYU) is organizing our Field Day activities scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26 this year. This is a whole-club activity. Reserve the date and stay tuned for some new innovations Al’s looking to bring to the show this year. See the Field Day 2016 page for more information.
What about a summer picnic? Yes, indeed! Jennifer Robinson (KD2EYR) did a fantastic job last year, and has volunteered to do it again this year. Thank you Jennifer! Expect an announcement soon for the date and location.
What about the Hamfest? Yes! Get the word out! The second Sunday in September, September 11, 2016, is the date for the GCARC Hamfest out at the 4-H Fairgrounds. GCARC is proud to host this major event that so many in our tri-state area look forward to each year.
In other news, if you’re looking to upgrade to Amateur Extra, be advised that the current question pool expires at the end of June this year. Go to the Get Your Ham Ticket page for the current question pools and the new Extra exam question pool that starts on July 1, 2016.
And if you had not heard, our new 2 Meter antenna for the repeater has been moved into storage in the base of the tower site, just waiting for climber availability on a day with good weather for installation. Will keep you posted via email on any updates.
Good DX, and Happy Easter to all.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
It was a brisk Saturday morning on March 19, but the hunt teams were not deterred. With HTs and other radio gear, one by one, teams assembled in the parking lot of the Seven Star Diner and started sniffing the airwaves for the tell-tale warbling of the hidden transmitter. Nobody could hear it on their HTs. It was first heard by Jeff (KC2WCS) on his truck’s radio. Out came the hand-held directional beams, then others were able to pick the signal up. Sweeping from side to side, the signals seemed to be coming from somewhere to the North-West. And with that, Bill (NJ2S) wished us luck (saying we’d need it), and we were all off. The hunt was on! With all these skills we’ve been developing, maybe we should field a team to compete in the USA ARDF championships! (www.arrl.org/news/texas-to-host-us-ardf-championships-in-april).
How did you spend your month of March? Did you make it out to hear Tom (KE2ES) Camden County ARES Emergency Coordinator, and Art (N2CPR) Deputy Radio Officer and Emergency Coordinator for Camden County speak on the importance of preparing for disasters at the March 2 club meeting?
Do any coax soldering? Those who came out for the hands-on Tech Saturday session on March 5 now have a better chance of doing it right now. Thank you John (K2ZA)!
Catch any of the 10 and 15 meter openings during the SSB DX contest? How about 100+ countries – on each of several bands - in one contest weekend? It is possible. Just ask Kenny (WB2P), he did it!
Catch any of that NCAA basketball March Madness? My team, Purdue, was one of the first to loose in a first round upset.
For a lousy outcome, seems they were in good company this year. So many upsets. Madness indeed! No matter how you spent your March, I hope it was a good one.
April kicks off with a long anticipated program from Mr. Vinnie Sallustio (N4NYY). Bring your camera! He’s a true artist when it comes to the restoration of radio treasures. You’ll not want to miss the April 6 meeting!
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
If you’ve been following the news recently, there’s been no shortage of tectonic news in it. And I’m not just talking about what is happening to “shake up” the Presidential primary races, which, admittedly, offer plenty to talk about on a daily basis as each of the major political parties works through the process of getting closer to having a nominee. The tectonic news I’m referencing here is earthquake news. Japan. Ecuador. As one would expect, amateur radio is playing a role in the help. “EchoLink VoIP Service Proving Valuable in Handling Ecuador Earthquake Traffic”, and the earlier “Lack of Power Stymies Amateur Radio Post-Quake Aid in Ecuador” being two examples of headlines from ARRL.org’s news page. In the last week alone, before writing this article, there have been over 30 quakes of magnitude 5.5 or greater, including seven of 6.5 or greater, including a 7.0 near Kyushu Japan, and a 7.8 near the coast of Ecuador. Predicting them is still an inexact science.
Is there any evidence of earthquakes being more prevalent around the dates of a full moon? The USGS says the correlation is very minor. In case you're wondering, the next full moon is May 21. Do the number of domestic cats and dogs reported missing go up before a major quake? Don’t laugh - apparently that has been looked at too. Fortunately, we haven’t had to deal with a major quake in the USA in a while, and it would be nice to keep it that way.
Doing any traveling in the near future? Like to Dayton, Ohio, perhaps? For those of you from the club going, please take good notes. We’d love to hear about your adventure, and the new products being sampled at our June 1 meeting after you return. There are rumors out there about a Chinese FX-9A HF 15W transceiver, a new Samcon DP-20 DMR digital 2 way radio, an Elecraft K-pod control panel for the K3S and K3, a new mini Baojie BJ-218 25W dual band VHF/UHF transceiver, and several new software defined radio (SDR) based products to be intrigued by, including something called the Airspy R2 SDR receiver that is described as covering from 24 MHz to 1800 MHz, continuous. And then there’s the ICOM IC-7300 HF Amateur Transceiver, advertised as an entry level radio, but it includes an FPGA-based RF direct sampling receiver system. Please take pictures. Please take notes!
I’m sorry to have missed the April club meeting. More about that in the May edition of Crosstalk. Thank you Al for filling in for me. At the BOD meeting, I was briefed on membership’s approval to move forward with the acquisition of good PA equipment to support our Hamfest this September. That’s great news. Thank you Michael Weldon!
I also heard that I missed a great program by Vinnie highlighting some of his recent radio restorations. That was one I was really looking forward to. Did anyone take any pictures? The talent we have in this club, is amazing. Thank you Vinnie for sharing!
Looking forward, May is about Mother’s Day, Prom, and graduation for some, but also a kick-off month for charity walks and other events requesting communications support in our local communities. If you’re interested in assisting, please let your presence be known - there are events happening near every week this time of the season. And speaking of events, in just a couple of months is field day - a major radio weekend for all of Ham Radio in North America, then the Original 13 Colonies go on the air, and then comes our summer picnic! Busy, busy - just the way we like it. Hope to see you at our upcoming club meetings and events!
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
What gets a Ham’s attention better than the word FREE? Please join us at our June 1st club meeting to celebrate your membership in our club, while honoring GCARC’s rich tradition of 57 years of service to our communities, at our ever-popular Pizza Night, Swap-N-Shop, Dayton Recap, and Field Day Finalization club night! Yes, you’re welcome to bring a friend.
Following the business portion of the meeting, we’ll finalize our field day plans for later in the month, hear all about the new goodies and experiences of Dayton from those who made the trip this year, and then enjoy some socializing over free pizza. Also, if you have any mid-year items you don’t want to hold onto until our Hamfest in September to swap or sell, you are welcome to bring them to this meeting to put on a side table to show off, giving fellow club members a first chance to look at, to swap, and/or buy. What doesn’t sell, you, as a club member, are welcome to get posted for free on our club’s website, with pictures if you have them, under the “Swap Meet” tab. This is a great service offered by our club - thank you Jeff, KC2WCS, our web master (and new Amateur Extra – congratulations!), for setting this up!
It has been an amazing two years since the grand opening of our new Clubhouse out at the 4-H Fairgrounds during Field Day of 2014. Since then it has been a popular hangout for our monthly Tech Saturday events, Board of Director meetings, and as a special event station for both the ARRL’s Centennial celebration and Original 13 Colonies On-The-Air events. A number of club members regularly visit the Clubhouse to use the setups there for DX chasing and contesting, both on HF and UHF/VHF. The alt/az antenna there has been used for satellite chasing. Signals have successfully been bounced off the moon from there. If you haven’t been out to the Clubhouse in a while, we’d love for you to stop by during Field Day afternoon June 25 to say “hi” and take a look. You really should. Just this past Wednesday, I saw that the front and rear steps have been given a fresh coat of white paint, as had been the parking curbs in front of the clubhouse. Looks good! Thank you to Frank, W2FJM, who did this great work!
In the short term, we have a number of big events coming up:
- Field Day 2016.
- 2016 Summer Family Picnic.
Field Day is Saturday and Sunday, June 25 - 26. Stations go live on-air all across America at 1800 UTC Saturday (2pm our local time). Our set-up location is the grassy fields surrounding our Clubhouse in Mullica Hill, NJ. What is Field Day? It’s simply the biggest on-air radio event of the year in North America. If you’ve never participated in Field Day before, it really is something different. With portable generators, antennas, and radios set up and operating in the field under less than ideal conditions, it’s part emergency preparedness, part public relations, part educational, part contest, and a big part social event shared by you, your friends, and fellow radio club members. For many, it is a tradition, a highlight of their radio year. From helping to set up, to solving problems and getting the stations on the air, to the fun and challenge of attempting and completing 2-way contacts near and far across America through that incredible on-air radio wave chaos, to the Saturday evening dinner break, it’s all good. Then, after the dinner break, yea, you know what happens then. That’s when the “night shift”, the “die hards”, and the “iron men” settle into their seats, and take over on the low bands for some serious all night work. Come morning, as daylight begins to break over the field, shadowy figures begin to emerge, crawling and staggering, out of operating shelters and tents, and makeshift beds in the back seat of their cars, to the smell of coffee and the joy of Wayne’s early morning pancakes. Nothing ever is so welcome or tastes so good! Yum! Yes, there’s always memories to be made, and stories to tell from field day each year. As a club member, this is your chance to share in the experience, to make some memories of your own, and help us get some points at the same time. Want to check it out? Come on out! There’s lots of opportunities for bonus points, such as by operating a “free VHF station” and copying formal messages and W1AW bulletins while manning a welcome table, and things like that. We’ll go over details at our next club meeting.
Ok, now on to our 2016 Summer Family Picnic! The date is Saturday July 23. The start time is 12:00 noon. The location is the fantastic Red Bank Battlefield Park here in National Park, Gloucester County right on the Delaware River. And you are invited! There will be one change, though. Our chairperson, Jennifer (KD2EYR) is now a resident of the Lone Star State! How about that? So, we’ll be making this more of a “pot luck” event again. We’ll miss you Jennifer! I’ll have signups for what you might want to bring to share with others available at the July 6 club meeting.
Due to work travel, I missed John’s presentation on D-STAR at the last club meeting. Thank you John for the presentation, and thank you everyone for covering for me on short notice! I also understand there was a demonstration of our new PA system that will be used at our Hamfest this year. Thank you to Michael, Sheldon, and to you, our members, for supporting this effort to ensure we have the best possible Hamfest experience for our guests. With such a great Hamfest tradition, and such a great venue, and now such a good audio system, perhaps we can talk about maybe using the stage in the center pavilion there for some guest speakers or presentations? It’s nice to have options.
On the repeater front, our new 2M antenna is at the water tower site, but has still not yet been installed. A top-side survey has been conducted for mounting of our new 2M repeater antenna, but we do not have a scheduled date for when qualified climbers would come available to do the install. Yes, this has gone on for a while now. If things have not progressed by the next Board of Director’s meeting, I’ll start looking at what it would cost to hire an outside company to do the install work. I am told there is a firmware update for the repeater radio that our guys can install during the down time when it is off the air for the antenna install. We’ll take care of that then too. And I’ve been receiving reports of intermittent behavior on the 220 repeater, though I was able to key it up the other day. Clearly that old workhorse has been showing signs of age and is probably due for a refurb/replacement. Recently there was a visit to that repeater site, but there’s a padlock, and the person visiting did not have the keys to inspect further. We’ll have to dig those up and take a better look ourselves before the repeater committee can make a formal recommendation.
Anyway, that’s the quick summary for now. Looking forward to catching up with you more in person! Hope to see you for Free Pizza at our June 1 club meeting!
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
When this went to press, we were still a few days away from Field Day 2016. By the time you read this, it will all be in the log books. Part public relations, part emergency preparedness, part contest, and part social event, it’s the largest on-air event nationwide each year. So, how’d it go for you? We’ll set aside some time at our July 6th meeting to hear all about it!
But before July 6th, there’s a radio challenge for you. Starting July 1, and running the whole July 4 week, special event stations will be on the air from each of the original 13 colonies. Are you up to the challenge of trying for a radio contact with a special event station in each of the original 13 colonies? Check out the web site www.13colonies.net. And while you are there, click on the New Jersey tab on that page for the list of stations that will be representing our great state. Recognize anyone on the list? That looks like 4 of the 6 stations represent our club. Congratulate these “K2I” guys with an on-air contact to recognize their service to our ham radio brethren across this great nation, and the world! And maybe pick up a cool looking NJ QSL for your collection too.
The next event on the horizon will be the Summer Family Picnic. You know the date, you know the location: Saturday July 23, Red Bank Battlefield Park, starting at noon. What could be better? What a fantastic opportunity to celebrate summer! Come on out, with hot dogs, burgers, buns, and paper products supplied by the club – the chips, potato salad, cookies, and whatever else you would like to share for a great picnic in a great park. What would you like to bring? You know, opportunities like this don’t come by that often. Take advantage of it! I hope you and your family can stop by!
Wishing everyone a safe and fun July.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
For many families, August is the last chance for a summer vacation before school starts up again for the fall. It’s a time to get in those deferred visits to the shore, to visit with family and friends, and to enjoy backyard BBQ while the days are still sunny and long. By the time this goes to press, we’ll have had our Summer Family Picnic at the Red Bank Battlefield Park; out at the fairgrounds the Gloucester County 4-H Fair will be underway; the “excitement” that comes with Philadelphia hosting a large event like the DNC should be subsiding; and the Olympics coverage on TV will have started. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get out there to enjoy what’s left of the summer!
For those who got “rained in” during the July 4 holiday, there were radio related options, including chasing the original 13 colonies on the air special event stations. To coin a Pokémon phrase (couldn’t resist with all the craze), anybody manage to “catch them all”? At our July 6 club meeting, we had a field day review, which included a “claimed score” summary, and a slideshow of operations from the weekend. The weather was good, and things worked out fine with the Circus that was set up in the adjacent field. From our perspective, their guest parking in the football field across from our field day site resulted in more visitors than usual being curious about our information table.
In DX rumors, at the time this went to press, there was an unconfirmed rumor of amateur radio operations having been suspended in Turkey. If that is true, hopefully that would just be a temporary situation. Even if it is not true, perhaps this is consideration for us to never take our ability to participate in amateur radio for granted. Participating with other amateurs in domestic and international radio events is one way we can all not take amateur radio for granted. So what radio events are upcoming?
Among the radio events to look forward to in August is when lighthouses all over the world get activated on the air: http://illw.net/index.php/entrants-list-2016.html.
For those in our club who are recently licensed, there’s the ARRL’s rookie roundup Aug 21 to consider. A more complete list appears on the 'Contest Calendar' page. What about band conditions? Though the HF conditions have been spotty, on digital modes, like JT65, there have been opportunities, particularly in the early evening, to make QSO on 20 meters with stations in Australia and New Zealand. And don’t forget 6 meters. Though usually dead quiet, somewhat unexpectedly there can be openings there.
Happy Summer of ’16 everyone. Hope to catch you at our next club meeting, August 3rd.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
Spread the word! The largest hamfest in all of Southern NJ, the 38th Annual GCARC Hamfest, is this month, Sunday, September 11, 2016, at the Gloucester County 4-H Fairgrounds, 235 Bridgeton Pike (Route 77), in Mullica Hill, NJ. What a great event, some might even say a tradition, for you to catch up with old friends, and meet new hams from all over our tri-state area, while supporting our club, and Amateur Radio in general. See the flier below for more details? Click on the image below to download a PDF copy. We look forward to seeing you there!
In addition to the hamfest, September brings a fun radio event called “Route 66 On The Air!” For one week, starting September 10, special event radio stations set up all along the historic route of this nostalgic highway, made famous in stories, songs, and TV shows. Remember the famous lyrics “from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way”? Well, here’s a trivia question: There are eight states through which the actual route passes, but cities in only 7 of those states are mentioned in the song. Which state was left out? Need a clue? Go to the host club’s website for this event: www.w6jbt.org, and look up the participating stations from last year. Last year, “W6M” set up and operated from that state. Here’s your chance to get some kicks chasing these guys on Route 66!
Looking back at August, special thanks to our own Al Arrison, KB2AYU, for his insightful presentation on SWR at the August 4 club meeting.
At this same meeting, we were able to thank Dave MacDonald, WB3JOY, for his years of service to the club. Most recently, he’s been our hospitality chair, bringing goodies and setup coffee for us to enjoy at our club meetings. Dave’s re-locating to Texas. We’ll miss you, man.
We’re in need of a new hospitality chair now. If you’re willing to help us out, please let me know.
From Labor Day, to our Hamfest, to Autumn’s start, September’s here. Good DX everyone.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
Please stop reading this right now, and make a difference for amateur radio, by putting your zip code into the web form at the following location, and send:
(Editor's Note: There is no place to add your callsign to the message, so I added my callsign after my last name).
Chances to make a difference like this don’t come along very often. On September 12, The US House of Representatives passed the "Amateur Radio Parity Act" to protect the rights of Radio Amateurs. That’s huge! Let’s get it passed in the Senate. All you need to do is acknowledge your support. It is simple to do from that web link. Please do!
Alright then! Let’s talk about that outstanding GCARC Hamfest! September was a great month for the GCARC, with an outstanding Hamfest enjoyed by all. We had great weather, and a great turnout. Special thanks to our chairmen Sheldon Parker K2MEN and Bill Price NJ2S, and to the countless other volunteers that made this one of the best Hamfests ever. We’ll have specifics, along with an opportunity for retrospective about what made this Hamfest so good at the October club meeting. There’s even consideration about elevating this to convention status for next year. Great showing GCARC!
Special thanks also to all club members who volunteered to provide radio support to the MS City to Shore 2016. Some of our club members were going to participate in this for the first time this year. Others have participated every year (except for last, due to the storm). This is a major communications support undertaking, and would not be possible without the volunteer support from members like you. Thank you!
If you were looking for something local, for October there is the local Pitman Cropwalk on October 16 that will need communications support. If you are interested in participating in events like these, and in being trained so that you can properly help out during a time of crisis or emergency, you are highly encouraged to join the ranks of your fellow club members who also volunteer their time to serve in NJ through ARES/RACES. This group meets on our club repeater in a directed net each Sunday at 2000 Hours local time. Visitors are welcome to listen in. Please make it a point to contact club member Ed Champion N2RO, or Tony Otlowski W2WCC direct if you want to get involved, or to learn more.
On the topic of club election news, as you may have read about in last month’s Crosstalk, after a three year run, I’ll be stepping down as your president at the end of this year for work-related reasons. Club Elections to replace my position, and to serve in other positions for next year begin with nominations being taken starting at the October club meeting. In addition to the usual 1 year term positions, we are also looking for one Trustee, to join Brian Jones KD2BXD, Bob Demola KD2GFL, Mark Gottlieb WA2DIY, and two directors, to join Chuck Colabrese WA2TML, Bill Price NJ2S, Jeff Garth KC2WCS, Chuck Lanard KD2EIB. If you are able to serve your club, this would be the year to do so.
On the topic of radiosport, any luck last month chasing Route 66 stations, or pursuing the Jersey Devil in the NJ QSO party? It seems the NJ QSO party corresponded to the Washington State Salmon Run, so there were plenty of coast-to-coast contacts being made, at least on 20 meters. How did you do?
This month offers the ARRL’s school club roundup, and the first of two weekends set aside for an EME contest, where the objective is to work as many amateur stations as possible via the earth-moon-earth path on any authorized amateur frequency about 50 MHz. Anyone up for the challenge?
But the biggest radio event of the month is likely to be the fall fox hunt, which you can read about at this link: Fox Hunt IX. This can be great fun for both you and your family members.
Oh, and then there’s this other thing called the CQ World Wide Contest after that, which is the last full weekend in October for SSB. For anyone who has not experienced this weekend on air before, it is a crazy and fun way to pick up a few more countries you may be missing for your log.
If you’re interested in knowing more about contesting in general, I came across this the other day from Phil Sherrod W4PHS, which offers a fairly comprehensive introduction: http://k4ro.net/w4phs/W4PHS_Guide_to_Ham_Radio_Contests.pdf.
Not yet licensed to have fun in HF contests like the CQ World Wide? Well, what’s holding you back? Ever hear about Urb LeJeune, W1UL’s “Ham Cram”, www.ham-cram.com, preparation before? Whether you are for or against getting help to pass your next exam level, this is something you should come to the October 5th General Membership Club Meeting in order to form your own opinion about. W1UL himself will be our guest speaker for the evening! Come with your questions!
No matter how you enjoy the cooler days of fall, I look forward to seeing you at the club meeting, and wish a Happy Halloween to everyone.
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! The Cubs are going to the World Series! Don’t get me wrong, during the regular season I am a Phillies fan, but this is the post-season. And it is the Cubbies that are there! I grew up in the north-west suburbs of Chicago, and it is hard to explain how amazing it is to hear those words. Those are words I have waited my whole life to hear! The Cubs going to the World Series? Believe it!
Welcome new members! Over the past several months, we have had the privilege of welcoming close to a dozen new members to our club. And what an exciting time for the club it is! As you read about in last month’s Crosstalk, and we reviewed at our October club meeting, the club put on one of the best attended and most successful Hamfest events ever this past September. Also at our October general membership meeting, we had the pleasure of hearing from the inventor of the W1UL Ham-Cram.Com license study methods himself, Urb LeJeune. Thank you Urb! Who wouldn’t want to study smarter, rather than harder?
And for those that could not attend in person, for the first time ever, the club meeting was streamed live on the internet, thanks to club member Bruce KD2LBU who arranged the experiment. Check out comments emailed in from some of those who were watching, for their impressions of the experiment, in the November edition of Crosstalk.
On the Saturday morning following the club meeting, our Clubhouse out at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Mullica Hill was open, for anyone to stop by, as part of our monthly Tech Saturday Forum series. If you missed it this time, the next open house is November 5. Stop on in!
In October, members of our club who are also members of the ARES/RACES emergency communications group, provided radio support to the local Pitman Crop Walk.
In another outdoor event, this past weekend, we held our fall hidden transmitter “fox” hunt here in Gloucester County, NJ.
Al, KB2AYU got to be the fox this time, as a result of him being first to find the transmitter last time out.
And this time, the fox won! Better luck hunters next time!
And fantastic news! You may also have heard that this past week, our brand new 2 meter antenna was installed on the Pitman water tower repeater site. So get out your hand held radios and give it a try! Our monthly on-air “rag chew” net was the first beneficiary of the new install, with check-ins accepted from stations in a number of locations. Notice any difference? Let us know at the next club meeting.
At our next club meeting on November 2, we’ll be opening nominations for the last time for next year’s club officers. Nominations close at the end of the meeting, with elections in December. In addition to the elected positions, there are a number of other ways you can help out next year. For example, know how to make coffee? Just saying, the position of hospitality chair may still be open! Let us know how you’d like to help out our club for next year.
And finally, I’d like to introduce our guest speaker for the November meeting, Mr. TJ “Skip” Arey N2EI. Some of you may already know him as our ARRL Section Manager. Some of you might know him from his excellent explanation of the Radio Parity Act at our last club meeting. Perhaps you will recognize him as the distinguished author of the article on page 80 of the current November issue of QST (yes, we noticed!). But did you know of his passion for CW? Come on out and share what the excitement of this original digital mode is all about!
Jim Wright, N2GXJ
From the club house replacement project, to the modernization of our repeaters and repeater antenna systems, quite a bit has been accomplished by the club over these past three years, and we’ve had fun while doing it too! We brought back radio direction finding fox hunts, Tech Saturdays out at the clubhouse, and a well-received summer picnic. Our members have been recognized for our volunteerism in support of emergency communications, as well as for support to the MS150 bike ride, and other charity events in our local communities. Each month, volunteer examiners in the club conduct one of the only regularly scheduled licensing and upgrade opportunities in the area. I’ve talked to people who have driven up from as far away as Maryland to get in on a licensing session. Thank you GCARC for your volunteerism and service!
GCARC gives back to our radio community. For example, GCARC serves as host for what has become a record setting Hamfest tradition in Southern New Jersey, with much thanks received from hams who make the pilgrimage to attend each year from all over the Tri-State area. Over the past few years, we’ve supported numerous radio demonstrations to local scouting organizations. We’re always off the grid, but on the air during Field Day weekend. We’ve been invited guest operators on board the museum ship Battleship New Jersey, headquarters for the annual museum ships on the air weekend each year. During the ARRL’s centennial year, we operated as W1AW/2 from our new clubhouse, representing NJ to the world from there. Some of our members put NJ on the air during the Original 13 Colonies On-The-Air celebration July 4 week each year. Some of our members helped provide emergency communications backup support during the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. The list goes on and on! Thank you GCARC for being active like this in the larger amateur radio community.
At our club meetings, we’ve had outstanding guest speakers, covering a wide range of topics. Among the guest speakers have been QRP operators who’ve walked the Appalachian Trail, a corporate giant from the software defined FlexRadio company, and a Nobel Prize recipient who invented the “JT” modes who have come to talk to us from outside the club, and more.
Most recently, the ‘more’ included our current ARRL section manager, who came to share his passion for CW with us at the last club meeting (thank you Skip!).
For me, some of the most interesting talks have come from those within the club who have been willing to give back some, and share what they’ve learned with others, both at club meetings, and at the Tech Saturday forum. Where else do you get the opportunity for face-to-face hands-on help and conversation and socializing with other hams and Elmers in this hobby like this? You just can’t. Thank you GCARC for making these social and educational opportunities available!
Technology is opening up our hobby in many new ways, and it is you, our members, that are actively involved and continue to innovate in ways nobody would have imagined. It may seem ho-hum now, but some of our members were early adopters of D-Star, and you may recall that it was GCARC that was one of the first to bring System Fusion digital voice repeater systems to the area. And don’t forget the unveiling of the innovative “POD” built for local emergency communications support. I’m still amazed we were able to run all of this year’s field day stations off of an electric truck. And all those “gizmos” we’ve learned about that are expanding what you can do with a handheld coupled to the internet. And what about our new social media presence, the breadth and depth of our w2mmd.org web page, the experiment with live web casting of our past few club meetings, and, of course, the electronic distribution of the fine Crosstalk publication? Fantastic! The list goes on and on!
And yet it is not all about technology. There is an appreciation and a welcome home for the satisfaction of a classic radio restoration, the skill of having a straight key CW contact, and the armchair comfort of a good old fashioned rag chew here as well. We really are lucky. It is an amazing time to be involved with this hobby we call Ham Radio, and a great time to be part of the Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club.
Thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving as your president,
Jim Wright, N2GXJ