Author Archives: Jimmy Russ

Upcoming Hamfests

The Peace River Radio Association is presenting the Charlotte County Hamfest on March 6th at 8 a.m. Admission is $7 with free tailgating. It will be held at 30337 Cedar St, Punta Gorda FL 33982. For additional details, go to www.prra.club

But wait…there’s more!

The Zephyrhills Area Amateur Radio Club will be hosting its Spring Tailgate & Swapmeet on Saturday, March 20th from 8 a.m. to noon. It will be held at Saint Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, 5855 16th St, Zephyrhills FL. Admission is $5 and there will be testing (pre-registration required…walk-ins will not be accepted). For more info go to www.zaarc.org

It’s Weather Gone Wild! (and ARES is helping out)

Weather gone wild might be an apt description of the conditions in many parts of the US, with sub-freezing temperatures in areas not prepared for that sort of thing. Aberrant weather seems to be happening across many US regions. Snow has fallen in Texas and Oklahoma, accompanied by record-setting temperature readings.

The severe weather has caused power and telecommunications outages, and ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers in southern Texas have been called up by served agencies to help fill the resulting communication gap. The National Weather Service (NWS) says a weather system will help to create a new wave of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico that will become the next winter storm to track across the Lower Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.

“A massive winter storm is moving across the Ohio Valley into the Northeast bringing snow, sleet, and freezing rain,” the NWS said. “Expect significant travel disruptions and power outages. Another winter storm will move into the south-central US bringing another round of snow and ice. Arctic air with frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills will persist over the central third of the US this week.”

ARRL Emergency Response Director Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, who lives in the Austin, Texas, area, reports that ARES members “have been very, very, very busy” with storm-related traffic. “The Williamson County ARES team has been activated by the Williamson County Emergency Manager,” he reported at mid-day.

A net to address power outages, vehicle accidents, health and welfare, power outages, and weather updates has been running 24 hours for the past 2 days. Two repeaters in his area are down, due to power and generator outages, he said. Electrical power in his area has been up and down, but his cell service has mostly been working.

Gilbert reported 4 – 8 inches of snow on the ground and “lots of ice.” Temperatures have dipped into record-setting single digits. “The whole state is in a rolling blackout,” he said. “The roads are very treacherous, and emergency services have not been able to respond to all calls as a result.

Gilbert reported at around 2200 UTC on Tuesday that Williamson County ARES (Wilco ARES) is using the 146.640, N5TT Williamson County Amateur Radio Club repeater, the 146.700, N5MNW, Jeff Schmidt repeater, and the 147.080, NA6M, Mark Stennet repeater. “They are running 24 hours for the next few days and have been since Sunday, with a net controlled formal net.” He said they were able to help one ham who had no heat, a car out of gas, and 18° in the house to find shelter for him and his dog.

The ARES net is tracking the rolling blackouts as the local provider grid becomes overwhelmed by increased demand. “Some water shortages were reported, as pumping stations failed from lack of power,” he said.

Gilbert said the plan is to run the net until Wednesday with 24-hour operation and then evaluate the continuing need. ARES participants are reporting all pertinent information to Williamson County served agencies and emergency management.

New Mexico Section Emergency Coordinator Jay Miller, W5WHN, reports that southeastern New Mexico is currently experiencing rolling power blackouts due to high demand. “The stations checking in via HF and repeaters are having frozen water pipe problems,” Miller said. “Most of the New Mexico ARES stations have back-up power.”

Miller said the rest of New Mexico is digging out of three storms’ worth of snow and frigid temperatures. “Several stations are reporting rural roads are impassable, especially in the mountains,” he said.

Chaves County SKYWARN Coordinator Jim Tucker, KB0QNW, in southeast New Mexico, reported, “We continue to experience rolling blackouts. I continue to monitor local and regional repeaters and systems, as well as the 7290 Traffic Net, should any need arise. I [passed] a message from Bowie, Texas, to Clovis, New Mexico.

Illinois Section Manager Thom Beebe, W9RY, reported no ARES activations, but the state got up to 1 foot of snow with drifting. “Residents are being advised to stay at home, given the sub-zero wind chill and hazardous driving conditions,” Beebe said of his area, but he noted that other areas of Illinois are reporting similar conditions, with even more snow and significant drifting.

Alabama experienced a rare hard freeze overnight with light snow across the state, especially in the northwestern part of the state where some roads have been closed,” said Alabama SEC David Gillespie, W4LHQ. He said power outages have occurred, and temperatures remain below freezing.

“Roads are horrible especially in South Central Indiana,” was the report from Indiana Section Manager Jimmy Merry, KC9RPX, although no ARES groups have activated. He measured some 9 inches of new snow and more than 12 inches on the ground. “So far I haven’t heard of any power outages, but a lot of accidents have occurred on the roads.” Merry said the wind is supposed to pick up this afternoon, and he expects a lot of drifting. “We are supposed to get some more significant snow in the next couple of days,” he added.

An strong, unseasonable tornado hit eastern North Carolina on February 15, killing three and destroying homes near Ocean Isle Beach.

(copied from the ARRL website)

Upcoming hamfests

This coming Saturday, February 13 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. is the Treasure Coast Hamfest in Vero Beach. It’s put on by the Vero Beach ARC and promises to be a good one. Admission is free ($5 admission for tailgate sellers). The address is:

Indian River County Fairgrounds, 7955 58th Ave, Vero Beach FL 32967

For more info go to www.treasurecoasthamfest.com

But wait…there’s more!

Membership/Dues Update

As for the majority of 2020 we didn’t have any in-person meetings or club events, it was decided by the board that any LARC member who was paid up and in good standing for 2020 will automatically be extended through 12/31/21 with additional dues or fees required (if anyone who fits that criteria has already renewed (there are a few), they will be extended through 12/31/22). If anyone had any questions, please contact club treasurer John Beatty, KN4SAU.

Surprise! It’s Winter Field Day

Winter Field Day was started in 2007 as a true “Emergency Preparedness” event (since while ARRL Field Day in June is classified as an Emegency Preparedness event, more planning goes into it than any other event). It is the fourth full weekend in January and runs from 2 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday. So grab your radio and “Go-Pack” and get out there!

https://www.winterfieldday.com/

Orlando Hamcation QSO Party & Virtual Hamcation Set

Orlando HamCation has announced it will sponsor the HamCation QSO Party over the February 13 – 14 weekend (UTC), “to create a fun way for amateurs to celebrate the Orlando HamCation experience over the air.” The HamCation QSO Party will be a 12-hour event on HamCation weekend. HamCation 2021 was to host the ARRL National Convention, which now will take place in 2022.

“The QSO party will replicate the camaraderie and social experience of attending HamCation and provide a way to have fun on the radio, since HamCation 2021 will not be held due to COVID-19,” the HamCation QSO Party Committee said. The HamCation QSO Party will run from 1500 UTC on February 13 until 0300 UTC on February 14. It will be a CW and SSB operating event on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters. Any station may work any other station.

Categories will be High Power (more than 100 W output), Low Power (100 W output or less, but greater than 5 W), and QRP (5 W output or less). All participants will be single operators; there is no multioperator category. The exchange will be your name and state/province/country, and the outside temperature at your location. “We are including temperature at your QTH as a way of highlighting Orlando’s mild February weather,” the committee said.

Nine HamCation special event stations with 1 × 1 call signs will be on the air with combined suffixes spelling out HamCation (e.g., K4H, W4A, K4M, etc). Each contact will count as one point, and stations may be worked once on each band and mode. Entrants will report their scores on www.3830Scores.com; no logs are required. Final results will be based on the information submitted to the website.

Station guest operators must use their own call signs and submit their scores individually. Plaques and certificates will be awarded. 

Virtual HamCation Set

The Orlando HamCation Special Edition online event over the February 13 – 14 weekend will take the place of what would have been the HamCation 2021 in-person show.

The online event will include youth, technology, contesting, and vendor webinar tracks. ARRL will also present two webinars on Saturday, February 13.

  • ARRL Member Forum at 1 PM EST, moderated by ARRL Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB.
  • Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) presentation at 3 PM EST, moderated by ARRL Director of Emergency Management Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW. The ARES presentation will include panelists from ARRL Section Emergency Coordinators in Florida.

Live, online prize drawings also are scheduled during the HamCation Special Edition online event. 

http://www.arrl.org/news/hamcation-qso-party-set

Dayton Hamvention Cancels 2021 Show

Dayton Hamvention® will not take place for the second year.

“Unfortunately, several setbacks in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic make necessary the difficult decision to cancel Hamvention 2021,” a January 11 announcement from the Hamvention Executive Committee said.  Sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), Hamvention was set to take place May 21 – 23 in Xenia, Ohio.

“Hundreds of volunteers have been working to do everything necessary to bring this Hamvention to the many amateur radio enthusiasts and vendors who support the Dayton Hamvention. Vaccine distribution both in the United States and around the world is lagging behind what was planned. In addition, the emergence of a more communicable form of the COVID-19 virus increases the potential for further public health problems in the next few months. We make this difficult decision for the safety of our guests and vendors. Those who had their tickets deferred last year will be deferred again.”

The committee said the show would return in 2022 and hinted at a QSO party for Hamvention weekend. In November, Hamvention had announced that “The Gathering” would be the theme for the 2021 show.

Hamvention is the largest annual amateur radio gathering in the US and was host of the ARRL National Convention in 2019. The ARRL Hamfest and Convention Calendar includes a searchable database that includes other canceled in-person events.

New year, new month, let’s have a meeting!

The January meeting of the Lakeland Amateur Radio Club will be Monday, January 11 at 7 p.m. at the Aerospace Center for Excellence, 4175 Medulla Rd, Lakeland FL 33811. We’ll be meeting in the Education Building which is at the intersection of Medulla Rd and Rocky Rd. You can’t miss it as there’s a C-47 parked on one side and a helicopter parked on the other.

Amateur Radio license testing starts at 5:30.

Y’all come!