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The EARS WA4IWLetter


APRIL 1999

-- PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE --

First off, I really want to thank the better than 80 percent of our membership who purchased tickets for our HamFest 99. That show of support was magnificent--not only because of the positive financial aspects, but because it proved that you really do care about your club. Thanks so much to all of you!

The FCC's latest Amateur Radio Census claims that there were 718,241 licensed American amateurs on 01 December 1998. However, how accurate are these figures? In preparation for the mass mailing of flyers for our HamFest 99 and for EARS promotional packets, Howard White, KD4MMY, scoured the most up-to-date data bases from the FCC, the University of Arkansas and the Callbook. In spite of utilizing the best data available, some 10 percent of those mailings were either returned as "undeliverable" or we were personally notified that the addressee was deceased.

Subsequently, I looked in the latest Callbook supplement and found the callsign listed for a friend of mine who passed away four (4) years ago! Another friend, who was listed as a Silent Key in QST about a year ago, is still in the Callbook. With the 10-year license and the 2-year grace period, a ham who passed away just after renewing his ticket could be listed for another dozen years unless the FCC was directly notified of his passing. Unfortunately, few, if any, surviving family members are familiar with that procedure.

So, how many hams are there in the USA? HR 783, The Amateur Radio Spectrum Protection Act of 1999, states that there are "more than 650,000 radio amateurs" in the USA. It looks like nobody really knows, but for danged sure we're fewer than what the FCC thinks. We really are an endangered species!

Some folks feel that the Internet is ham radio's alter ego; others feel that it's our worst enemy. Regardless, it was interesting to read in the 27 March World that Veep Algore claims that "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet". For those of us without a political agenda, it should be noted that the Internet's origins date back to 1957, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) investigated improvements in military communications. Algore was 9 years old at the time! DARPA came to fruition as a Cold War brain trust in 1969, eight years before Algore got into Congress. Well, we all know that Algore has had a good mentor in the "fantasy department". Doesn't anyone inside the Beltway know how to speak the truth anymore? Such deceitful comments by our "leaders" have made our proud country the laughing stock of the world. I'm just glad neither of them have a ham license!

73 de Jack, W4JS

-- APRIL MEETING --

The next EARS meeting will be 16 April at the Englewood United Methodist Church, 700 East Dearborn St. Officers' meeting will be held in the church's library at 6 pm. The business meeting will start at 7:30 pm in Room 400. For the evening's program, John Fyke, VE6AIV, will give a slide presentation of his recent voyage from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale.

-- EARS NET ACTIVITIES --

The EARS weekly net meets on the WB0GUX repeater (146.700) at 7:30 pm every Friday except the third Friday, which is our meeting night. Volunteers are needed for Net Control; please contact Don Spencer, WA4IWL, our Net Manager. Recent net activity follows:

Date NCS Check-Ins

26 March KA4JKY George 21

02 April WA4IWL Don 21

-- UPCOMING FLORIDA HAMFESTS --

17 April Tampa Amateur Radio Clubs Hamfest at TARC/TBARS Clubhouse, 7081 North 22nd St., Tampa. Info: Biff, K4LAW, (813)265-4812

17 April Flamingo Net and Univ of Miami Hamfest, in the Physics parking lot in the n.w. corner of the U of Miami Coral Gables campus. TI: 146.865 Info: Walt, W4DWN, (305)895-0398

23-24 Apr Gainesville Hamfest & Computer Show, Aluchua County Fairgrounds, County Rd. 222, east of Hwy 24, Gainesville. TI: 146.820 Info: Steve, KC6WCH, (352) 375-8023 eves. only


Page - 2


ENGLEWOOD AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY

Minutes of the Meeting

March 19,1999

President Jack Sproat, W4JS, called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag. Guest Telleif Nilsen, KB2AID, was introduced and welcomed to the meeting. There were no new members present, and no upgrades to report. Mem-ber introductions were made around the room.

A motion was made by Bruce Robideau, K2OY, to forego reading the minutes of last month's meeting, as they are published in the newsletter. Seconded by George Shreve, KA4JKY, and carried.

Howard White, KD4MMY gave the Treasurer's Report and made a motion for acceptance. Second by Al Parmentier, KF4JIL, and carried. The report was given to the Secretary for file. Howard also gave a report on the Booster Club.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS:

o Four letters of appreciation have been sent to Renee LePere, Gail Weiss, Micki D'Amico and Lorraine Schneeberger at the Englewood Sun Herald, thanking them for the coverage of our HamFest 99 and the recognition given our organization.

o Jack commented on the article written by Doug Zeeff, N4EHO, and published in our March newsletter. Doug's article emphasizes the pressure on the FCC to allocate frequencies to the new communication monsters, and now amateur frequencies are being looked at. Jack encouraged us to support the ARRL's efforts to protect amateur frequencies.

o Jack is taking orders for personalized log books, which will provide a little income to the club.

o Jack discussed some of the activities available to the club this year, and ask that we give some thought to participating in the following:

1. Field Day - Last weekend in June

2. IOTA - Islands On The Air Contest

3. Boca Grande Lighthouse - Special Event

4. JOTA - Scouts-Jamboree On The Air

SUNSHINE - No report

FCC TESTS - Jack Sproat, W4JS, reported on the exam session given at the HamFest 99 hamfest on Saturday, March 13, 1999.

HamFest 99 - Frank Maren, W4VV, reported on our hamfest. He expressed special appreciation to the club members for the excellent advance ticket sales. Frank listed all the various jobs done to put on the hamfest, and gave recognition to the persons doing those jobs. Frank noted that income exceeded expenses by a small amount, and that he was pleased with the way things turned out. Club member Frank Goldberg, KE4PPR, won the main prize.

RACES - Bruce Robideau, K2OY, announced that the RACES Annual Meeting will be on March 24th at the Charlotte County Municipal Building in Murdock.

DX - Bruce Robideau, K2OY, reported that the solar flux has been up and down, but the bands have been pretty good. He noted the importance of providing envelopes, stamps and money to the QSL Bureaus.

CROP WALK - George Graham, W1PZE, reported on EARS support of the CROP Walk. He expressed appreciation to the volunteers and listed those who participated. He also displayed a Certificate of Appreciation given our radio club, and forwarded it to the Secretary for file.

OLD BUSINESS - The financial audit is expected to be completed by the next meeting.

NEW BUSINESS - Bruce, K2OY, mentioned that the club call, K8ONV, should be used for Field Day. He also suggested that the club get some K8ONV QSL cards.

Howard Hawkins, WB8IGU, made a motion to adjourn at 8:20 pm. Seconded by Jim Halliday, NX2II, and carried There were 34 members and one guest present at the meeting.

PROGRAM - The program was a video of "The Last Voice From Kuwait", which is a documentary on how news was obtained from Kuwait by amateur radio during the Gulf War. Frank Schwab, W8OK, added some very interesting comments about his involvement with that activity.

Ken Anderson, W4JQT

Secretary

-- AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE EXAMS --

The EARS VE Team offers ARRL VEC license exams at 9:30 am the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce building, 601 South Indiana Avenue, Englewood. Two-day advance reservation is required.

Candidates must bring:

(1) Original license and a copy of that license.

(2) Original CSCE's and a copy of each CSCE.

(3) Two forms of identification.

(4) A check in the amount of $6.45 payable to "ARRL VEC", or cash in the above amount.

For further information and reservation, contact Jack Sproat, W4JS, at 475-1929

--RECENT EXAM RESULTS --

On 13 March, at HamFest 99, Jim Halliday, NX2II, passed the Extra Class written exam, and Ron Jones from Pt. Charlotte earned his Technician Class license.

On 19 March Jim Halliday, NX2II, submitted a Physician's Certification for waiver of the 20 wpm code exam, which was endorsed by the EARS VE Team. Congratulations, Jim, on your Extra Class!


Page - 3


BACKSCATTER

-- SQUEEZINGS FROM THE GRAPEVINE --

March was a cool month. Now the furnace is off and warmer weather is just around the corner.

During March our club had its Hamfest, so I ventured out to see who would be there. I arrived about 11 am, met many and old friend there and had some nice chats. Then I headed down to the drug store to get some more pills to keep me on my toes.

In Florida and around Charlotte County and south, where there are a lot of wooded areas, the arsonists are seeing what damage can be done by a match. It is scary as many homes, barns, schools and the stadium have been in direct line of these fires. The ground is so dry, and no rain is in sight. It is a very rough time.

I see that the new Scotty's is now open in the Lemon Bay Shopping Center. Also, sometime in the year 2000, a new Publix will be built at the corner of Dear-born and 776.

The road work at both ends of 776 in Englewood is progressing at a slow rate; as is usual for this type of doings.

I-75 has become a road of danger. "ROCKS" (large ones) have been tossed from the overpasses. They have caught three young men doing that. One woman was killed. (Glad they were caught.)

Were you all careful of your friends, on April Fool's Day? Then on the following Saturday we all lost an hour of sleep. I hope you all checked your alarms and got up in time for Easter Sunday.

Well, that is all for now. I haven't been out driving much.

To those who are here and getting ready to travel back to the cold areas, please take it easy and safely too.

73/88,

Peggy, KF4BD

-- BOOST-EARS --

The following EARS members contributed to the Booster Fund during March:

KB2RS W1AMU KA4JKY

K9HUY W1JF KM4RF

KD4MMY K2OY W0LNV

Anonymous

Thanks for your support! Who can make next month's list of Boost-EARS?

-- SNOWBIRD NET --

The Snowbird Net meets on HF daily at 10 am, 11:45 am and 5:45 pm on 14.278, and at 7:00 pm on 7.230. Join in and advise those birds up north of any local activities and of our great Suncoast weather.

-- PERSONALIZED LOG BOOKS --

A "plain vanilla", 1000-entry, ARRL log book costs $7 ($4 plus $3 postage). EARS is offering personalized, 1000-entry log books for $6.50 (of which EARS makes $2.50) and 2500-entry log books for $10 (EARS makes $2.75). These logs feature your callsign, name, and address printed on the cover, and your callsign/ QTH on each page. Plastic overlays protect the covers, and the comb binder permits the log to lie flat on your desk. If you would like to both keep your records neat and support EARS, contact Jack, W4JS, at 475-1929.

-- LOCAL REPEATERS --

145.130 (-) WB4NJV SERC/Venice

146.700 (-) WB0GUX Englewood (T)

146.730 (-) WB4NJV Sarasota ERC (A)

146.745 (-) K4IB Charlotte Co. CD

146.775 (-) K0DGF Englewood (T)

146.910 (-) W4IE Sarasota ARA (A)

146.925 (-) WA9NLA Pt. Charlotte

147.015 (+) WB9JTK Pt. Charlotte

147.255 (+) WA3DUX Peace River

444.625 (+5 mc) K0DGF Englewood (T)

444.700 (+5 mc) WA4ISB Venice

(T) = 77 Hz PL tone (A) = Autopatch

-- POWER BREAKTHROUGH! --

Progress is being made on a lifetime battery pack for handheld radios, courtesy of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy.

The new power packs are utilizing nuclear reactors taken from decommissioned submarines. They are reduced in size, and transformed into a manageable form of energy. Currently, the packs have been reduced in size and formed into a shell that will fit most amateur handheld radios. Each pack is rated at over 1,700,350,000 amp-hours and should last a lifetime. But, because they are a nuclear power source, and the user must be protected from radiation emitted by the pack, each pack weighs 18 pounds due to the construction of the lead shell of the pack.

Call 1-800-555-000 for more information or visit: http://www.dod.gov/amateur/idiot/iamanaprilfool.

(From April 1999 Worldradio)

-- 10-10 INTERNATIONAL --

With 10 meters open daily, you are likely to hear a gang of stations at 28.425 exchanging numbers and other "greetings". They are active 10-10 members, an organization that keeps 10 open regardless of the sun-spots. For an information packet, send $2 and an address label to Jeff Ritter, N5VAV.


Page - 4


VHF PROPAGATION PRIMER
PROPAGATION MODES, 50 MHZ AND HIGHER
Formal Name Informal Names and Abbreviations Common Frequency Range Ordinary Distance (km)
Troposphere
Tropospheric forward scatter Tropo, normal tropo 50 MHz-300 GHz 1-800
Tropospheric ducting Ducting, life 50 MHz-300 GHz 100-4,000+
Precipitation scatter Rain or snow scatter 10 and 24 GHz 5-400
E-layer
D/E-layer ionospheric forward scatter Forward scatter 50-144 MHz 800-2,000
Meteor scatter Scatter, ms 50-432 MHz 800-2,300
Field-aligned irregularities FAI 50-144 MHz 100-2,300
E-layer backscatter E backscatter 50-144 MHz 50-2,000
Sporadic E E-skip, Es 50-144 MHz 500-2,300
Auroral E Au-E 50-144 MHz+ 500-5,000+
Aurora Au 50-432 MHz 50-2,300
F-layer
F-layer refraction Skip, F2 50 MHz 2,000-20,000
F-layer backscatter Backscatter 50 MHz 100-2,000?
F-layer sidescatter Sidescatter 50 MHz 2,000-6,000?
Transequatorial field-aligned irregularities Transequatorial, TE 50-222 MHz 4,000-8,000
Reflection and diffraction
Earth-Moon-Earth EME, Moonbounce 50 MHz-300 MHz 50-20,000
Knife-edge diffraction 50 MHz-300 MHz 10-600
Solid object reflection 50 MHz-300 MHz 10-800

From Table 1, pg. 90, April 1999 QST.

-- VHF PROPAGATION DIAGNOSIS --

How can the VHF operator determine which propagation mode yields the signals they're hearing? The above table shows there are a number of possibilities!

Most propagation modes affect only one range of frequencies, so check the higher and lower bands. For instance, if stations some 1500 km distant are being heard, check for activity on 50 Mc. If 6 meters is also open, then Sporadic-E is probably providing the skip. If nothing is heard on 6 meters, but signals are strong on 432 Mc, tropospheric ducting is the benefactor.

Signals propagated by Sporadic-E can be very strong, but may come and go over a short time period, and fading can be severe. The various scatter modes have distinctive distortions on the signals.

Relative locations of the stations is a factor. Signal propagation by transequatorial field-aligned irregularities (TE) must be perpendicular to the geomagnetic equator.

Temporal factors have their effects. D/E-layer forward scatter is most prominent around local noontime. Sporadic-E is most intense from May to August, and F-layer propagation only occurs during the peak of the solar cycle.

Ducting is unlikely if thunderstorms appear anywhere along the signal path.

FAI depends on the prior presence of a strong region of Sporadic-E.

(From "The World Above 50 MHz", Emil Pocock, W3EP, April 1999 QST)


Page - 5


CONTESTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
Japanese International DX Contest 2300 GMT 09 April

2300 GMT 10 April

20 - 10 Meters

CW

Japanese Stations Only R/S/T + Serial No.
International HF Grid Location Contest 1200 GMT 10 April

1200 GMT 11 April

160 - 10 Meters SSB/CW Anyone, Anywhere Grid Square
His Majesty the King of Spain Contest 1800 GMT 10 April

1800 GMT 11 April

80 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Spanish Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
MARC County Hunters Contest 0000 GMT 10 April

2400 GMT 11 April

80 - 10 Meters

SSB

Anyone, Anywhere R/S + County and State
Yugoslav DX Contest 1200 GMT 17 April

1200 GMT 18 April

80 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/(T) + ITU Zone
Weak Signal Activity Weekend 6 pm EDST 23 April

12 mdnt EDST 25 April

6 Meters & Up

SSB/CW/Digital

Anyone, Anywhere Grid Square
Six-Meter Sprint 2300 GMT 24 April

0400 GMT 25 April

6 Meters

SSB

Anyone, Anywhere Grid Square
Florida QSO Party 1600 GMT 24 April

2200 GMT 25 April

0200-1200 Off Time

80 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Stations Outside Florida R/S/(T) + County
Ontario QSO Party 1800 GMT 24 April

1800 GMT 25 April

160 Meters & Up

SSB/CW

Ontario Stations Only R/S/(T) + QTH
ARI (Italian) DX Contest 2000 GMT 02 May

2000 GMT 03 May

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW/RTTY

Italian Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
CQ-M (Russian) International DX Contest 2100 GMT 08 May

2100 GMT 09 May

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW/SSTV

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/(T) + Serial No.

From April 1999 Worldradio, April 1999 CQ and April 1999 QST.

-- CONTEST CHATTER --

Of the above listed contests, the one closest to our hearts is the Florida QSO Party. In the "old days", this annual event was sponsored by Andy Clark's Florida Skip, but now the sponsor is the "Florida Contest Group" up in Tampa. While no crates of our fabulous Florida citrus are offered as prizes, a lot of hams would be glad to work some of the more rare of our 67 counties. Statewide, certificates will be awarded to top scorers in each of our counties.

Suggested frequencies are: SSB - 3.860, 7.260, 14.260, 21.335, and 28.485; CW - 3.535, 7.035, 14.035, 21.035 and 28.035. Fixed stations should call CQ a bit above or below these frequencies to keep them clear for low powered mobile stations working the county lines. Come on--do your part to make a lot of noise from the Sunshine State!!

Back in January, the ARRL announced that it was dropping the Spring VHF/UHF Sprints, citing lack of participation. ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, claimed that only 200 people submitted logs for these sprints during 1998. It may be worth noting that the ARRL June 1998 VHF Contest drew 853 entries, the September VHF Contest drew 610 entries, and the 1998 UHF Contest had 160 entries. Meanwhile, the perennial New Year's Eve "Straight Key Night" attracted all of 110 participants last year. So much for priorities.

Learning of the ARRL austerity move, CQ-VHF an-nounced the introduction of three VHF "Activity Weekends", apparently to fill the void. (See 23-25 April "Weak Signal Activity Weekend" above.)

Interestingly, the April QST shows the ARRL Spring Sprints being scheduled for three weekends in April. Did the ARRL acquiesce to complaints from the VHFers, or is this an oversight by QST? Your guess is as good as the next person's.

-- ON THE LOCAL FRONT --

The HF bands were wide open during the WPX Contest 27-28 March. Leading DX ststions scored over 8000 QSOs. E41/OK1DTP from the West Bank area of Palestine drew a lot of attention with a great signal on 15 meters. Meanwhile, E44/OZ6ACD was handing out QSOs on 12 meters for non-contesters.

The "Dog Wagging" by Slick and crew kept the normally competitive Yugoslav stations off the air. Score another negative in international ham relations!


Page - 6


CURRENT/PENDING DX ACTIVITY AND PROPAGATION FORECASTS
CURRENT and/or SCHEDULED DX ACTIVITY

(Band/GMT for best chance of S5 or better signal)

COUNTRY - CALLSIGN ACTIVITY

PERIOD

BEARING 80 40 20 17 15 12 10
Kenya - 5Z4GS

Western Sahara - S01A/S09A

Rodriguez Is - 3B9R

Niue Is - ZK2GEO

Marianas Is - KH0XX

Mongolia - JT1Y

Vatican City - HV5PUL

Marion Is - ZS8D

Thailand - HS0ZAR

Maldives - 8Q7??

Now Active

Now Active

Now to 11 April

Now to 11 April

15 - 19 April

Now to 21 April

22 April

After Mid-April

Now to 30 April

17 - 31 May

76

75

84

252

306

354

50

130

355

41

--

01>06

0130

06>11

10>11

NO

01>04

01>04

--

NO

--

23>08

23>02

05>12

09>12

NO

23>05

23>05

NO

00>01

--

12>02

18>04

22>06

11>16

22>06

11>01

06>10

11>19

01>05

12>01

13>00

17>03

18>05

12>15

23>04

12>23

11>12

--

16>21

--

17>20

18>20

18>03

21>02

00>03

14>21

13>14

15>17

19>21

16>22

19>21

NO

18>24

21>00

NO

18>20

13>14

--

NO

--

19>21

NO

19>23

21>00

NO

18>20

NO

00>01

NO

Updated 03 April 1999, based on 05 April QRZ DX and 03 April The 59(9) DX Report. Solar Flux assumed at 135 for all forecasts.

Notes: NO = No opening forecast. ??? = Callsign not yet known. Long path bearings and opening times (if any) are underlined.

-- APRIL PROPAGATION --

What has happened to Sunspot Cycle 23? The Solar Flux was 120 on 01 March, averaged 126 for the month, and was down to 102 on the 31st. Not exactly the characteristics of a rising sunspot cycle that is forecast to peak just about 13 months from now! Other than for four geomagnetic storms, the A- and K-indices were generally low and propagation to most areas of the world was possible on 10/12/15 meters. A smoothed Solar Flux of 141 is forecast for April.

Propagation forecasts for April are as follow:

DX propagation will be good on 10 and 12 meters during daylight hours, with peak signal levels during the late afternoon hours.

Expect 17 and 15 meters to be the best daylight DX bands during April. Again, signals will peak during the afternoon hours.

Twenty meters should be open to somewhere 24 hours a day. Strongest signals should occur during a 2-hour window after local sunrise and again during the late afternoon through to as late as midnight.

Shorter hours of darkness and increased static levels will result in somewhat poorer DX conditions on 30, 40, 75 and 160 meters.

The favorable equinoctial propagation conditions should continue throughout April. Check both long- and short-path openings during the sunrise and sunset periods on all bands between 10 and 75 meters for paths between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Probable best DX days for remainder of month: 10 and 28 April should be "Above Normal"; 13, 17, 20-22, 25 and 29 April should be "High Normal". 06 April may be "Disturbed".

(From "Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, April 1999 CQ)

-- VHF DX OPENINGS --

Some F2-layer DX openings should be possible on 6 meters from the USA to southern and tropical areas, most likely during the afternoon hours when conditions are High Normal or better.

Trans-equatorial propagation to South America should reach a seasonal peak during April. These openings will most likely occur on 6 meters, with some also possible on 2 meters, between 8 and 11 pm local time.

The Lyrids major meteor shower should take place 22-23 April. At the shower's peak, at least 15 large meteors should enter the Earth's atmosphere hourly, permitting fairly good meteor-scatter VHF communications.

April usually opens the curtain on the Sporadic-E propagation, with associated short-skip openings, on both 6 and 2 meters. While Sporadic-E can occur any time, the tendency is for it to peak between 8 am and noon and again between 5 and 9 pm.

(From "Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, April 1999 CQ)

-- DXPLOITS & DXTRAS --

The Czech DX group that was very active as T30R from West Kiribati managed to procure transport and showed up as T33RD from Banaba Island, which ranks 40th of "needed entities". That was a "New One" for W4VV.

3B9R came up on sked from Rodriguez Is, which ranks 39th of "needed entities" by East Coast DXers. Sponsored by the Midway-Kure DX Foundation, they are running 9 stations on 160 - 6 meters, on all modes. They have been workable locally; a "New One" for K9HUY.

It seemed that Cyprus was being occupied by Russians, what with RA0AM, RZ3TX, UA9MA and UA9YAB all being worked /5B4. The guys were there to put P3A on during the WPX 'test, and they were active on all bands.


Page - 7


WAVES AND REFLECTIONS

-- PACKET RADIO --

Some locals say that "packet's dead here", but there is actually a growing number of locals who are very active in using this communications mode.

Equipment Needs - You may already have the basics:

o A personal computer

o A 2-meter rig and suitable antenna

o A TNC (terminal node controller) that packets your communication for transmission by your radio and translates what your radio receives. Typically, the TNC is connected between your computer's serial port and your radio's mic and speaker jacks.

o Cables to connect the equipment together. A standard serial cable will usually work for the computer-to-TNC connection, but you may have to make up the TNC-to-radio cable. Check the manuals for both the radio and the TNC, then match up the following:

TNC RIG

Data Out <==> Audio In

Data In <==> Audio Out/Speaker

Switching <==> Push-to-Talk (PTT)

Ground <==> Ground or shield*

(* You may need to wire together the ground or shield terminals for the PTT line and the Audio In line at the mic connector.)

Getting Started - Once wired up, you're ready to get on the air with packet. Your TNC will turn on in the "command" mode. This means that anytime you type it will be read as an instruction to the TNC and won't be sent out over the air. The first command you should type in is MY (space) <your callsign>, then press <ENTER>. This assures that your callsign is attached to every packet you send out. Next, type MRPT ON and press <ENTER>. This command means "monitor repeater" and will allow you to see (on your screen) the callsigns of not only the sending and receiving stations, but also of any relaying stations.

Begin by tuning to WD4NKZ on 145.09 and listen for the distinctive "BRAAAP" sound of packet signals. Adjust your receive volume until you begin to see message packets appearing on your screen.

Each packet starts with a string of callsigns. The call of the sending station is first, then any relay stations and, finally, the destination station. The callsign with an asterisk (*) next to it is the one you're actually hearing, and it's probably close enough for a direct contact. If it's a callsign with a dash and a number after it, or if it's an ID that doesn't look like a callsign, then it's probably a network relay station (a "node") and not a real person at the keyboard.

On the Air - Contacting someone on packet is called "connecting". You can connect to people either directly or through a network of relay stations. To make a direct connection, just type C, a space, the call of the person you want to contact, and then press <ENTER>. If the link is made, your TNC will print "***CONNECTED TO <CALLSIGN>" on your screen. At that point, your TNC automatically switches from the "command" mode to the "converse" mode, and everything you type will be sent directly to that person until you disconnect. To disconnect when you're done, return to the "command" mode and type D<ENTER>. You will soon get a "***DISCONNECTED" message.

Connecting through a network requires extra steps. Locally, the standard procedure is to connect to a node. You enter by connecting to the local node where you can connect to anyone else logged onto the node, or you can connect to another node (if you type NODES<ENTER>, the node will send you a list of places it can connect you to), or to several nodes, and so on from there.

When you get to the node you want, you can connect to another station or tell the node to call CQ for you. When you're done, type B (for "bye") alone on a line and press <ENTER>. You may have to repeat that for each node in the chain until you get a "***DISCONNECTED" message from your starting node.

There's a whole different set of commands if you log onto a packet bulletin board (PBBS) or a DX Cluster. You can often get help by typing /h<ENTER> or /?<ENTER>.

There's a lot more to 2 meters than just ragchewing on a repeater. Think about it.

(From "Basics--Packet Radio", March 1999 CQ VHF)

-- CLUB ASSETS FOR SALE --

The following items, which were donated to our club, were offered for sale in both the February and March newsletters:

1. Telrex TB4EM tri-band beam; good condition and with all hardware.

2. IBM PS-2 Computer w/386 board, monitor and keyboard; good condition, perfect packet station w/Packratt II on hard drive.

No bids were received by 12 March 1999, therefore, these items are still available to anyone interested. Contact Ken Anderson at 475-3172

-- CLASSIFIED --

FOR SALE: Cushcraft A-3WS duo-band yagi for 12 and 17 meters for $115 ($250 new from AES) Call Jack Sproat, W4JS at 475-1929

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