September was a busy month for our Club with several events that catered to the different interests and skill levels of our members. We had a great presentation on radio propagation by Carol Richards, N2MM at our general meeting, and an interactive session on advanced DMR radio techniques by Len Rust W2LJR on Tech Saturday. We also learned how to solder surface mount components with Chris Prioli AD2CS in a hands-on workshop. These sessions are a good way to engage members who may not attend the regular meetings, and to offer a large variety of activities for our Club.
Then came the hamfest… For those of us who have wondered what the “worst case scenario” for a hamfest would look like, this was it. Rain was forecast well in advance of the event, allowing potential attendees to make alternative plans. And the forecast came true - rain poured down throughout most of the morning, creating so much noise in the presentation shed that most presenters had to abandon the PA equipment and sit closer to the audience to be heard. Nonetheless we had about 270 attendees throughout the course of the day, and attendance at the educational seminars was reasonable. The financial results will be presented at the October General Membership Meeting but were actually better than expected considering the weather.
The Tower Project Moves Forward
Another major event was the final approval for the building permit to erect the two VHF towers behind the Clubhouse. Although the Harrison Township zoning officials were extraordinarily helpful and quick in their processing, it still took several months to prepare and obtain the documents that were necessary for approval. With that approval in place, though, we can now begin installation of the towers.
Some history about the towers may be useful. As most of us know, on September 1, 2021, a tornado ripped through Mullica Hill and knocked down our HF and VHF towers. A GoFundMe initiative was started by Al KB2AYU that yielded about $14,000 to be used for tower replacement. Fortunately a replacement for the HF tower was identified quickly and transported to the Clubhouse site where Al, Frank N3PUU, and many others spent countless hours refurbishing the tower, replacing the cables, getting broken pieces welded, and repainting it. They also had to assemble the massive beam antenna, including 2 elements on 40 meters. With all of that completed and the tower erected in September 2022 the HF station was once again fully operational. About $2800 remained of those donated funds. No other Club funds were used on the HF tower.
Replacing The VHF Tower
The remaining funds were not sufficient to replace the VHF tower but fortunately we were able to secure an ARRL grant for $25,000 that put us on the path to regain VHF station functionality. In the interim Al loaned his “tower trailer” to the Club, allowing the erection of 2 meter, 220, and 440 antennas as a temporary solution. In addition, a grant of $11,600 was obtained from the ARDC to purchase new VHF equipment that would allow the W2MMD VHF station to be one of the best in the country.
With partial funding in place the team began evaluating various tower replacement options that would support antenna configurations commensurate with the equipment provided by the ARDC grant. Unfortunately the wind load from the desired configuration exceeded the capacity of most towers that were affordable. In a stroke of luck, Al identified a ham selling two crank-up towers of the exact type that we were considering (the use of crank-up towers was deemed essential to allow for ongoing maintenance and upgrades). Using two towers would allow erection of the desired antenna configurations, and both towers came with thousands of dollars’ worth of additional components that would otherwise have to be purchased separately. For $22,000 plus $2,000 for transportation we were able to obtain tower components worth about $60,000 if purchased new. The towers arrived at the Clubhouse on April 3, 2023 and have been sitting on the ground waiting for approval of the required Township permits.
Now that construction can begin, we needed to identify the additional funding that will be needed to place them into operation. Frank N3PUU produced a detailed bill of materials for the installation of both towers, ending up with an estimated figure of $10,000. This will cover purchasing the reinforcing bars required for the foundation, digging the holes and filling them with concrete, replacing the cables on one of the towers, adding fencing to avoid unwanted access and other related expenses. The antennas currently on Al’s tower trailer will be moved to these new towers and will later be augmented with additional antennas that were salvaged and rebuilt from those on the demolished VHF tower. Construction will largely be done by Club members with professional help for tasks such as excavating the 8-foot-deep foundation holes. As is true with all ham radio stations these towers will never be “finished”, and further plans exist to mount additional antennas and microwave devices.
Obviously the remaining donated funds are not sufficient to complete this project, so additional funding will be necessary. In discussing this issue at the September 20, 2023 Board Meeting the board decided to limit Club contributions to the tower project such that the remaining funds in the Club treasury would cover one year’s expenses, about $14,000. This allows a contribution from Club funds of $2,200 to partially defray the expenses of the tower. The board also agreed to remove a previous commitment of approximately that amount that had been allocated for the construction of furniture in the VHF room. These amounts offset each other, meaning that the Club hasn't actually allocated more funding for VHF activities than it already had done.
Combined with the $2,800 remaining from the tower donation funds, results in a total of $5,000 to be applied to the $10,000 cost of the tower construction. The obvious shortfall will need to be made up from donations, primarily from Club members although several other fundraising opportunities have been suggested and are in the works. We hope that members will recognize the “sweat equity” that has been invested by Al, Frank, and many other members of the team and will contribute to the “financial equity” that will be necessary to complete the project. More details on opportunities for donations will be discussed at the October General Membership Meeting and thereafter.
But on your upcoming visits to the Clubhouse start looking for the delivery of materials for the tower foundations followed by two large holes appearing in the ground, subsequently filled with concrete with bolts sticking up from the concrete. While it may be impossible to get both towers erected before winter cold sets in, we hope that one tower might be standing by winter. Early next year we'll begin a significant initiative to acquaint or reacquaint members with various types of VHF operation available, and how they can utilize the new state-of-the-art VHF station at the W2MMD Clubhouse.
Nominating Committee : Officer, Director, and Trustee Nominations
The GCARC Nominating Committee is tasked with developing an initial slate of candidates for elected Club positions. This Committee is composed of the current and all previous presidents, plus the two directors whose terms end in the current year. These nominations are presented at the October and November meetings, at which nominations from the floor can also be proposed. The election will occur at the December 6th meeting.
The committee’s nominees are :
- Jon Pearce, WB2MNF - President
- Ron Block, NR2B - Vice President
- John O’Connell, K2QA - Treasurer
- Frank Romeo, N3PUU - Corresponding Secretary
- John Zaruba Jr, K2ZA - Recording Secretary
- Al Arrison, KB2AYU - Director
- Bill Price, NJ2S - Director
- Carl Wittig, N2CRW - Trustee
- Sheldon Parker, K2MEN - Trustee
- Len Rust, W2LJR - Trustee
There will be are several excellent educational opportunities presented at the October 4, 2023 General Membership Meeting and the October 7, 2023 Tech Saturday Forum. At the general meeting Jim Wright N2GXJ will describe the process for designing and constructing the 160 meter loop antenna at the W2MMD Clubhouse. This project was an outstanding example of the synergy that occurs when several Club members get together with an idea and figure out how to implement it. Jim will follow that session on Tech Saturday by describing how antenna modeling software was used to design the antenna. If you're not familiar with this type of software be sure to attend this session. Jim is an outstanding presenter and his sessions on many topics are always illuminating.
73 de Jon WB2MNF
Full Hunter's Moon - Tuesday, October 24, 2023 @ 1624 Hours. This is the month when game is fattening up for winter. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long months ahead. Drying Rice Moon (Dakota) describes the next process in preparing rice for winter. Falling Leaves Moon is an Anishinaabe term. Freezing Moon (Ojibwe) and Ice Moon (Haida) refer to the increasingly cold temperatures of this period. Migrating Moon (Cree) refers to the time when birds begin to fly south.