On Saturday, February 25, several members of SPARC made the trip to Sarasota for the 3rd annual WCF section TECHCON. This is a free technical conference put on by the WCF ARRL section technical staff. The location changes to various places around the section to allow the most section members to attend.
This year, there were two conference tracks. One focused on more introductory topics such as station design, antenna building, APRS and programable microcontrollers such as the PICAXE and the Arduino. Another track discussed more technical topics including the Amateur Radio Emergency Digital Network (AREDN) and HamWAN—both which allow creating high-speed data networks similar to WiFi but over greater distances and utilizing amateur radio frequencies (HamWAN was presented by SPARC member Bryan Fields W9CR.
Tom NY4I and Charlie W4OQM – Photo by Ed NZ1Q
One of the benefits of these meetings besides the technical content is the chance to discuss the technical aspects with other hams. During breaks, it is common to hear hams discussing how they are applying the things learned in unique ways that you would not learn just reading the material from a magazine article in QST. For example, the two networking topics might seem competitive but during the Q&A sessions, we discussed how to couple the mesh capabilities of AREDN for emergency data networks wth the long distance networking backbone capabilities of HamWAN can complement each other to serve the widest area.
If you missed it, make plans to attend next year’s TECHCON (around the same time in February tentatively planned for somewhere in Polk county.
As Field Day gets closer, we still need a person to head up the Bonus Points committee. Again, you DO NOT need to do all these things. You only need to coordinate who is doing them. For example, a satellite contact yields bonus points. Tom, NY4I does that every year—with much help from all— so you only need to check with Tom that he has it covered. Same goes for the NTS messages. Zoltan has helped out in the past sending those. You just need to coordinate this among the parties. You need ZERO technical ability to do any of this, just a desire to step up and take charge. Below I will list the bonus points, but I thought it might be good to understand why we even do bonus points. As you review the list, you will see that many of these involve one of three things: 1) Trying a new or under-utilized mode, 2) Education of hams in tasks involved with some aspect of Emergency Operating, or introducing ham radio to someone new. The second one in particular is always interesting to me as many people insist that Field Day is NOT a contest and its an emergency preparedness exercise. Passing NTS messages and making solar powered contacts are exactly some of the skills you need to perform EmComm successfully—you didn’t think it was all about checking into a 2m net, did you)?
So, here is your chance to lead a project that needs your detailed-oriented nature. You just have to be a planner and not even that technical. What say you…can you help? If you are interested, please contact Tom Schaefer, NY4I or Bob Wanek, N2ESP. I would hate for us to not get these points nor give other members or the public a chance to experience different aspects of ham radio.
Here is the list.
100% Emergency power – PLANNED
7.3.1 100 points per transmitter classification if all contacts are made only using an emergency power source (maximum 2,000 points). All transmitting equipment at the site must operate from a power source completely independent of the commercial power mains. Available to Class A, B, C, E and F.
Media Publicity – PLANNED
7.3.2 100 bonus points may be earned for attempting to obtain publicity from the local media. A copy of the press release, or a copy of the actual media publicity received (newspaper article, etc.) must be submitted to claim the points. Available to all classes.
Public Location NOT THIS YEAR
7.3.3 100 bonus points for physically locating the Field Day operation in a public place (shopping center, park, school campus, etc.). The intent is for amateur radio to be on display to the public. Available to classes A, B and F.
Public Information Table NEED VOLUNTEER to staff and coordinate supplies, people to staff.
7.3.4 100 bonus points for a Public Information Table at the Field Day site. The purpose is to make appropriate handouts and information available to the visiting public at the site. A copy of a visitor’s log, copies of club handouts or photos is sufficient evidence for claiming this bonus. Available to Classes A, B and F.
Formal message to ARRL SM/SEC Need volunteer to coordinate and get to GOTA station for sending to the SM
7.3.5 100 bonus points for origination of a formal message to the ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator by your group from its site. You should include the club name, number of participants, Field Day location and number of ARES operators involved with your station. The message must be transmitted during the Field Day period and a fully serviced copy of it must be included in your submission, in standard ARRL radiogram, or no credit will be given. The message must leave or enter the Field Day operation via amateur radio RF. The Section Manager message is separate from the messages addressed in Rule 7.3.6 and may not be claimed for bonus points under that rule. Available to all classes.
W1AW Field Day Message Need volunteer to copy this W1AW
7.3.9 100 bonus points for copying the special Field Day bulletin transmitted by W1AW (or K6KPH) during its operating schedule during the Field Day weekend (listed in rules announcement). An accurate copy of the message is required to be included in your Field Day submission. (Note: The Field Day bulletin must be copied via amateur radio. It will not be included in Internet bulletins sent out from Headquarters and will not be posted to Internet BBS sites.) Available to all classes.
Formal messages handled Need volunteer to coordinate with bonus points chair to do this.
7.3.6 10 points for each formal message originated, relayed or received and delivered during the Field Day period, up to a maximum of 100 points (ten messages). Properly serviced copies of each message must be included with the Field Day report. The message to the ARRL SM or SEC under rule 7.3.5 may not be counted in the total of 10 for this bonus. Enter the total number of messages handled in the text box. All messages claimed for bonus points must leave or enter the Field Day operation via amateur radio RF. Available to all classes.
Natural power QSOs completed Ron KP2N plans on doing this – Chair needs to confirm
7.3.8 100 bonus points for Field Day groups making a minimum of five QSOs without using power from commercial mains or a petroleum driven generator. This means an “alternate” energy source of power, such as solar, wind, methane or water. This includes batteries charged by natural means (not dry cells). The natural power transmitter counts as an additional transmitter. If you do not wish to increase your operating category, you should take one of your other transmitters off the air while the natural power transmitter is in operation. A separate list of natural power QSOs should be submitted with your entry. Available to Classes A, B, E and F.
Site Visit by invited elected official – Working on this. Coordinate with Tom NY4I
7.3.11 A 100-point bonus may be claimed if your Field Day site is visited by an elected government official as the result of an invitation issued by your group. Available to all classes.
Site Visit by invited served agency official – Working on this, but Chair has to coordinate with those that are working on this
7.3.12 A 100-point bonus may be claimed if your Field Day site is visited by a representative of an agency served by ARES in your local community (Red Cross, Salvation Army, local Emergency Management, law enforcement, etc.) as the result of an invitation issued by your group. Available to all classes.
Youth Participation – GOTA station is planning this. We obviously need kids for this…Coordinate with Clayton
7.3.15 A 20-point bonus (maximum of 100) may be earned for each participant age 18 or younger at your Field Day operation that completes at least one QSO. Enter the number of youth participants who complete at least one QSO in the text box. For a 1-person Class B station, a 20-point bonus is earned if the operator is age 18 or younger. For a 2-person Class B station, a 20-point bonus is earned for each operator age 18 or younger (maximum of 40 points). This bonus does not allow the total number of participants in Class B to exceed 2. Enter the total number of participants (operators, loggers, set-up crew and visitors) 18 years or younger at your Field Day site in the text box. Available to all classes.
Educational Activity – Need volunteer to do this.
7.3.10 One 100-point bonus may be claimed if your Field Day operation includes a specific educational-related activity. The activity can be diverse and must be related to amateur radio. It must be some type of formal activity. It can be repeated frequently during the Field Day period but only one bonus is earned. Available to Classes A & F entries and available clubs or groups operating from a club station in class D and E with 3 or more participants.
Due to the severe intermodulation problem experienced by our 440MHz repeater, the engineering team has determined we need to add a Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) to the repeater input. CTCSS, also knows as a Private Line (PL) tone will prevent the repeater from re-transmitting signals that do not contain this tone.
Once activated, all radios desiring to access the SPARC 440MHz repeater MUST transmit a 146.2Hz tone to activate the repeater.
Repeater tone access will be added in the near future, so program your radios now to be ready for the change. The 2M and 220MHz repeaters will NOT require any tone for access. Please direct any questions to repeater trustee Ron, KP2N.