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The EARS WA4IWLetter


APRIL 2001

-- PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE --

"Furry Skurry" sounds like a funny phrase. And, indeed it was on March 31 as we, the EARS and Tamiami Amateur Radio Club provided communications support to the Suncoast Humane Society's third annual pet fair called "Furry Skurry" at Blalock Park in Venice. This was our first joint activity with another local amateur radio club and, hopefully, as the year goes on we can join forces with other clubs in the area, to serve the community and promote amateur radio. Over 3000 supporters and their pets attended the Furry Skurry. Prizes were awarded in dozens of categories and the animals seemed to enjoy the event as much as the people.

We in the amateur community are faced with the challenge of diminishing ranks and an endless wave of new technology that captivates the imagination of young and old alike. So, if we are to remain strong and vigorous, we need to take advantage of every opportunity, like the Furry Skurry, to get our hobby before the public, and show them we are alive and well and stand ready to make a valuable contribution in the event of an emergency. Maybe we need some more emergencies around here, like a hurricane or tornado or tow, so we could show off our stuff. HI-HI! While at our display table, I took note that of all the people who walked by, two boys in the 12 - 15-year age group stopped and were curious enough to ask some questions and show some interest. Perhaps this would be a good age group to try and interest in our hobby.

Anyway, it was a fun day and I would like to thank Ken Anderson-W4JQT, Jerry Meckenberg-K4JWE, John Fyke-VE6AIV, Jack Sproat-W4JS, Dick Dean-N4RD, Bob Retter-KD4SOJ, Bob Avrutik-N1RA, and Ken Truran-KC8BI for their help at the "Furry Skurry Pet Walk and Adopt-A-Thon".

73 de Vic, KF4VHX

-- EARS BOOSTER CLUB --

Thanks to the following recent contributors:

K2OY - Bruce Robideau

KE1KG - Roland Bjelf

N1KEN - John Kelly

WL7CKY - Keith Herve

"The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore." - Samuel Butler

-- APRIL MEETING --

The next EARS meeting will be held 20 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. The program will be a presentation by Ken Anderson, W4JQT, on "Grounding and Lightning Protection". We're getting into the lightning season again, so this should be a beneficial program for all of us. Come on out!

-- UNPAID DUES ARE OVERDUE --

In accordance with Section 4 of the EARS Bylaws, the membership of anyone whose dues have not been paid by the end of February shall be automatically terminated. If you wish to remain an EARS member and have not yet paid your 2001 dues, please submit payment to Treasurer Bruce Robideau, K2OY.


-- BIG STICK UPDATE --

The K4WCF repeaters are up and running from some 1000' AGL, and can be accessed with HTs from 30 miles or more. The K4WCF repeater frequencies are 145.43(-) and 442.95(+), both with a 100.0 PL.

WCF Section Nets are scheduled as follows:

o Sunday WCF Section Net 7:30PM

o Monday Morse Code Practice 7:00PM

o Tuesday Traders Net 7:00PM

Technical Net 9:00PM

o Wednesday Digital Topics 7:00PM

o Thursday Skywarn Information 7:00PM

YL Net 9:00PM

o Friday SSTV Net 7:00PM

A daily section NTS net will be started shortly. If you are interested in participating as a net control, contact AB4XK, WCF Section Traffic Manager. (From WCF Section Web Page)

-- ANTENNA REFERENCES --

There was an error in the Internet site address for this reference on pg. 7 of the March newsletter. Try just <http://www.qth.com/> and then scroll through the sites listed for antennas, towers, accessories, etc. TNX to Jerry Meckenberg, K4JWE, for bringing this error to our attention.

---ooo---


Page - 2


ENGLEWOOD AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY

Minutes of the Meeting

March 16, 2001

President Vic Emmelkamp-KF4VHX opened the meeting at 7:35 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance. Guests were introduced and welcomed to the meeting. These guests were: Tom Hawes-WA3PRC, Ed Evitt-N9AWP, Tom Boykin, Chuck Pistone-W8PFH, Jurgen Nittner-N9RD, and Joe Sullivan-WA1WLU. There were no new members present.

Jack Landis-WA8GRO made a motion to accept the minutes of last month's meeting as printed in the newsletter. Seconded by Frank Schwab-W8OK and carried.

Bruce Robideau-K2OY gave the Treasurer's Report and provided the Secretary copies for file. Keith Herve-WL7CKY made a motion to accept the report. It was seconded by Jim Halliday-NX2II and carried.

CORRESPONDENCE

A letter was received from the Englewood Charlotte Public Library thanking EARS for our donation of the ARRL series of books. A nice picture of those present, taken by Mary Bradberry, appeared in the local newspaper.

A letter was read by George Graham, thanking EARS members for their assistance with CROP Walk 2001. George listed those who participated as follows: Don-WA4IWL, Bill-W1AMU, Don-KD9SJ, George-KA4JKY, Rolly-KF4FSA, Jim-N1KKE, Dennis-NT9K, and George-W1PZE.

Bruce-K2OY submitted a letter from the Audit Committee to the Secretary for file with the results of the audit for year 2000. Committee members were Bruce-K2OY and Bob Carstens-KG4IAW.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

SUNSHINE - Nothing to report.

AUDIT - Bruce-K2OY gave the audit report.

RACES - Frank Maren-W4VV talked about RACES activities.

PUBLICITY - Jerry Meckenberg-K4JWE reported he had contacted newspapers to publish dates of our meetings. He also suggested we all be on the lookout for local activities where we could fly our flag.

TESTING - Ken Anderson-W4JQT reported we will have FCC exams tomorrow.

DX - Bruce-K2OY said HK3JJH will be on from Malpelo Island during April.

CROP WALK - George-W1PZE gave this report.

OLD BUSINESS - A proposed budget for 2001 was discussed. Based on estimates to date, expenses will exceed income by $976. Ideas were solicited from the floor on how to increase income and reduce expenses. The budget is expected to be ready for approval at the next meeting.

ANNOUNCEMENTS - Freeman Crosby-W1NPR reported he will publish our e-mail addresses on his we site. Also, Free has put all 1999 and 2000 newsletter in archives on the site. Newsletters can now be received via e-mail, which will save a lot on postage.

Vic-KF4VHX reported on the various nets now operating on the new "Big Stick" repeater in Manatee County.

The Suncoast Humane Society is having a one-mile pet walk called "Furry Skurry" and EARS has been asked to provide communications on Saturday, 31 March, 9am to 6pm. Jim Hanushek-N4JBZ reported on this activity.

Lois Marlatt-KE4NOT has 44 IRCs for sale at 80 cents each. She will donate half the proceeds from this sale of these to EARS. Call her at 475-2590 if interested, before the 2nd week in April.

Jim Halliday-NX2II announced that if your radio is producing strange signals, check the leads to the power supply to be sure all connections are good.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm. There were 29 members and 5 guests in attendance.

PROGRAM - Ed Evitt-N9AWP gave an excellent talk on repeaters, covering everything you always wanted to know about them.

Ken Anderson-W4JQT

Secretary, Pro Tem

-- 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--no walk-ins.

Candidates must bring:

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

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

(3) FCC Licensee ID No. or Social Security card.

(4) Photo identification.

(5) A check in the amount of $10.00 payable to "ARRL/VEC", or cash in the above amount.

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

-- CLASSIFIED --

For Sale: Mosely TA-33-JR-N-WARC Yagi beam antenna - 3 yrs old. Five bands - 10, 12, 15, 17, 20 meters. Very good condition, and it's yours for $100. Call Ken Anderson, W4JQT, at 475-3172

-- SNOWBIRD NET --

The Snowbird Net meets daily at 10 am on 14.278, and at 7:00 pm on 7.230. The "birds" are starting their northward migration, so join them on the road.

"By yielding to a false form of civility, we sometimes allow our critics to intimidate us." - Justice Clarence Thomas


Page - 3


BACKSCATTER

-- LIBRARY RECEIVES ARRL BOOKS --

EARS recently presented the "ARRL Library Book Set" to the Englewood Charlotte Public Library. Book titles are:

o ARRL Handbook

o ARRL Antenna Book

o ARRL Operating Manual

o Radio Amateur's Satellite Handbook

o Now You're Talking!

o ARRL's Tech Q&A

o ARRL General Class License Manual

o ARRL Extra Class License Manual

o The ARRL's FCC Rule Book

o The Best of the New Ham Companion

o Antenna Compendium Vol. 4

o UHF/Microwave Experimenter's Manual

o Understanding Basic Electronics

o 200 Meters and Down

o RFI Book

o Morse Code: The Essential Language

o Easy Target

While most of those titles strike a familiar chord, as they deal with licensing, setting up, and operating a ham radio station, "Easy Target" is an adventure story in which ham radio plays a role. Perhaps a good selection, for it might intrigue young folks who read it.

While the total "shelf" value of these publications is $301, ARRL makes them available in this library set for $170. When the remodeling/expansion of Elsie Quirk Library is completed later this year, EARS will donate another set of these books for use by Sarasota County residents.

-- CAUGHT IN THE PAST? --

(The following is taken from the QCWA column entitled "Plan Ahead by Letting Go" by Alan Pickering, KJ9N, in the March 2001 Worldradio.)

January is named after the Roman god Janus who, with two faces, could look both forward and backward at the same time. Looking ahead and behind at the same time seems like a good practice to follow, and we can do it--through memories. Horace wrote, "To enjoy the memory of the past is to live it twice over." How true that is.

But the secret of looking backward in a positive and useful way requires care; it must be a positive experience whereby what we have learned can be examined in terms of usefulness to the future. Do we really "learn from our past mistakes"? If you can learn from mistakes then you should make as many as possible to be better informed. No, what we learn from mistakes are the consequences of making them, such that we avoid them in the future.

Unfortunately, some folks get so caught up at examining what went wrong in the past that they can't get beyond the consequences and focus on the learning therefrom for the future. Rather, we must put regrets aside and plan ahead by letting go.

-- LITTLE REACTION TO CW SHIFT --

There has been little reaction among the rank and file in the U. S. ham radio community to the ARRL's decision to no longer oppose the elimination of Morse code as an International Amateur Radio licensing requirement. On-the-air comments monitored by Newsline indicate the hams expected the ARRL to accept as inevitable the abolition of Morse testing. Many nations will vote to drop the requirement at the 2003 WRC. (From April 2001 Worldradio)

-- YAGIS IN THE WIND --

The choice of how to aim a Yagi in a windstorm depends on which of these is the weakest point of the antenna system:

o Elements

o Boom

o Mast and Tower

o Rotator and Coax

If the elements are the weak spot, you don't want to have them broadside to the wind. If the boom is the weak spot, you don't want it broadside to the wind. It's better to lose an element than to lose the boom plus the elements, so boom with the wind is being conservative.

Antenna area only comes into play if the mast and/or tower are the weakest link. Antenna area depends on the areas of both the elements and boom, and is calculated with the boom around 45 degrees to the wind. A typical failure of big yagis is the boom breaking upward due to the vertical wind gust component.

Symmetry, especially boom balance, reduces the rotating torque needed to rotate the antennas in the wind. But, even with static balance, yagis tend to weathervane along the boom, even if they are symmetrical. The response to gusting in different directions tends to break the mast loose (goodbye coax) or destroy rotators.

The bottom line is: Don't overload the mast or tower at the local 50-year maximum wind speed (105 mph). Balance the booms and the elements. Aim the antennas with the boom along the predominant storm wind direction. (FYI, storms have measured 134 mph plus gusts at the author's QTH.)

(From "Pointing yagis into the wind", Dave Leeson, W6QHS, on the CQ-Contest Reflector. Leeson is the author of Physical Design of Yagi Antennas, ARRL, 1992)


Page - 4


MORE BACKSCATTER

--TAMPA HAM'S LICENSE SUSPENDED --

The FCC has suspended the amateur radio operator license of Leslie D. "Doug" Brewer, KC4HAZ of Tampa, and notified him that it intends to revoke his station license for apparent willful and repeated unlawful radio-related activities. He also faces revocation of his GMRS station license.

In early 1996, Brewer was monitored operating a "pirate" FM station on 102.1 MHz from his home which he called "Tampa's Party Pirate". The FCC sent him a warning about unlicensed broadcasting and its possible penalties. A month later he was again found broadcasting without a license and was issued a fine of $1000. Brewer's request of the FCC for a "Special Temporary Authority" to broadcast on 102.1 was denied, however, he continued broadcasting into 1997.

When WHPT-FM on 102.5 MHz in Sarasota complained to the FCC that Brewer's FM station was interfering with them, FCC agents and the U.S. Marshall raided Brewer's home and confiscated his equipment in November 1997. They also dismantled his 150-foot tower.

Undaunted, Brewer resumed his 102.1 broadcasts using a 950 MHz link from his house to a warehouse where the transmitter was housed. In addition to pirate broadcasting, his business, L. D. Brewer 2-Way Radio, sold unauthorized FM broadcast equipment which he was manufacturing. After showing a FCC undercover agent a 40-watt FM transmitter he was building, the FCC sent him an official warning notice advising him of the FCC's equipment authorization requirement and the penalties for distributing unauthorized devices.

In 1998 an agent from the Tampa FCC Field Office sent an e-mail message to Brewer, requesting information about purchasing a 20-watt FM broadcast band transmitter. Brewer responded the same day, setting the price and how payment was to be made. The equipment was ordered and on 28 September 1998 the FCC Field Office received the fully assembled transmitter set to operate on 91.8975 MHz. On 02 March 2000 the FCC hit Brewer with a $10,000 fine.

Brewer's defense that he sells "kits for educational purposes" and that assembled "kits" did not require notification, type acceptance or certification. The FCC didn't buy that argument, as the transmitter they received was fully functional, ready to be plugged in.

Brewer continues to advertise low power transmitters at his "Broadcaster's Candy Store" on the Internet.

In view of Brewer's repeated violations and total disregard for FCC rules, on 22 February 2001 the FCC started proceedings to revoke his existing station licenses at a hearing.

(From 01 April 2001 W5YI Report)

-- OBSOLETE COMPUTER MUSEUM --

Believe it or not, but it's been over 20 years since the classic computers such as the Apple II and the TRS-80 were introduced. These machines still fulfill certain needs, and more than a few owners still can't bear to part with them. Visit the Obsolete Computer Museum at <www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org> and learn more about your old favorites, such as the Altair 8800, the Commodore VIC-20, the Apple III, the Atari 800, and many others.

(From 01 April 2001 W5YI Report)

-- MISPLACED RADAR ON 12 METERS --

Back in mid-March, an unwanted signal rather well messed up the 12-meter amateur band. The widely reported signal sounded somewhat like a tightly wound, noisy spring being repeatedly compressed and released. Noise limiters that eliminated the old "Russian Woodpecker" of the '70s were ineffective against it. The signal was spread across the spectrum from 24.890 to 24.990 Mc, with the same pitch and tempo.

Professional monitors suggested that the rough pulses--about two per second--were characteristic of a CODAR (Coastal Ocean Dynamics Applications Radar) transmitter. CODAR is a specific type of HF radar used to map ocean surface currents in coastal zones.

It was subsequently determined that such a transmitter had been inadvertently programmed into the 12-meter band. The frequency was reset, such that the pulses can be heard where they belong, well below the 12-meter band.

(From Vol. 20, No. 11 The ARRL Letter)

-- RUSSIAN SPY WAS GENERAL CLASS HAM --

The arrest of FBI agent Robert Philip Hanssen of Vienna, VA on the charge of spying for the Soviet Union and then Russia for was well publicized in the media. None mentioned, however, that Hanssen had been licensed as a General Class amateur for over 40 years with the call sign K9QVL. He is 57 years old, father of six children and described as a "loner".

Hanssen has held a ham license since he was a teenager in Chicago and his license was current when arrested--last renewed in 1997. He apparently was not an active ham in recent years, and was not a member of the local ham radio club, the Vienna Wireless Society.

Hanssen had been an FBI agent for 25 years, specializing n the area of counter-terrorism, working out of the FBI headquarters in Washington.

(From 15 March 2001 W5YI Report)

"Character is much better kept than recovered" - Thomas Paine


Page - 5


UPCOMING CONTESTS AND ACTIVITIES
Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
Japanese International DX Contest 2300 GMT 13 April

2300 GMT 15 April

20 - 10 Meters

CW Only

Japanese Stations Only R/S + Serial No.
His Majesty the King of Spain Contest 1800 GMT 14 April

1800 GMT 15 April

80 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Spanish Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
Holyland DX Contest 1800 GMT 21 April

1800 GMT 22 April

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Israeli Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
TARA PSK31 Rumble (The Spring Wakeup) 0000 GMT 21 April

2400 GMT 21 April

80 - 6 Meters

PSK31 Only

Anyone, Anywhere Name & State
Florida QSO Party 1600 GMT 28 April to

0159 GMT 29 April;

1200-2159 GMT 29 Apr

40 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Anyone, Anywhere FL Stations send County
Helvetia Contest 1300 GMT 28 April

1300 GMT 29 April

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW

Swiss Stations Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
ARI International DX

Contest (Italian)

2000 GMT 05 May

2000 GMT 06 May

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/CW/RTTY

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/(T) + Serial No.
CQ-M International DX

Contest (Russian)

2100 GMT 12 May

2100 GMT 13 May

160 - 10 Meters

SSB/SSTV/CW

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

From April 2001 Worldradio, April 2001 CQ and April 2001 QST.

--FLORIDA QSO PARTY --

The Florida QSO Party was initiated 25+ years ago by Andy Clark, publisher of Florida Skip. Today this perennial activity is under the auspices of the Florida Contest Group. Complete rules and log sheets for the QSO Party can be found on <http://www.qsl.net/fqp>. While the rules are extensive, as there are nine (9) entry categories, briefly, this is a chance for Florida stations to work the world and vice versa. (Back in 1980 your editor, operating YB0ACL, was thrilled to work back home in this contest, and earn a certificate for 1st Place SSB for Indonesia.) There are 67 counties in the Sunshine Stare, so County Hunters are also looking for Florida stations. Give it a go if you have any HF capability and help spread the good word about Florida!

-- CQ CONTEST SURVEY --

John Dorr, K1AR, editor of the "Contesting" column in CQ is asking for response to his Contest Survey in the April 2001 CQ. These surveys started over ten years ago, when John was interested in using them as a vehicle to focus on timely topics concerning contesting, as well as creating a tool to help him understand what subjects contesters wanted covered in his columns. Now John is interested in operating ethics, on-air operating competency and trends, and the use of technology in station design and improvements. Therefore, a view of what contesters--serious and casual--think is important.

The survey is on page 96 of the April CQ, or go to <http://hamgallery.com/ survey> to respond on or before 01 July 2001. (From April 2001 CQ)

-- AMATEUR SATELLITE UPDATE --

While there are some 21 amateur radio satellites now orbiting Earth, only about six of them are fully operational. Data on the most popular ones follow:

RS-12 Uplink 145.910 to 145.950 CW/SSB

Downlink 29.410 to 29.450 CW/SSB

Beacon 29.408

AO-27 Uplink 145.850 FM

Downlink 436.795 FM

UO-14 Uplink 145.975 FM

Downlink 435.070 FM

FO-20 Uplink 145.90 to 146.00 CW/LSB

Downlink 435.80 to 435.90 CW/USB

UO-22 Uplink 145.900 FM, 9600 baud FSK

Downlink 435.120

AO-40 remains nonfunctional to this date.

(From Oscar Satellite Report, 15 March 2001)

-- D68K WRAP UP --

After 3 weeks of operation from the Comoros, the 26 operators returned to their 11 home countries, with a world record 168,722 QSOs in the logs. That will be a tough one to beat! On-line log checking is available at <www.dxbands.com/ comoros>. QSL via G3SWH.

(From 12 March 2001 QRZ DX)

-- CLASSIFIED --

For Sale: Bencher BY-1 Iambic Paddle, won at 2001 Orlando Hamfest; Still in plastic wrap. Suggested list $110; Street Price, $ 85; Asking $ 50. Call Freeman Crosby, W1NPR, at 474-2690.


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
St. Peter & St. Paul - ZY0SAT

Malpelo - HK0/HK3JJH

Seychelles - S7???

Midway - KH4/W1VX

Mellish Reef - VK9ML

Falkland Is - VP8SDX

Nepal - 9N7WU

Chesterfield Is - TX0C or TX5C

So & No Cook Is - ZK1NDS/NFK

Agalega - 3B6RF

Now to 15 April

07 April- 07 May

06 - 19 April

14 - 22 April

21 - 24 April

22 April-03 May

23 April-03 May

27 April-02 May

28 April-28 May

05 - 18 May

108

178

68

297

267

165

13

263

246/255

75

23>08

23>12

00>02

06>11

07>11

00>10

NO

07>11

04>11

00>03

22>10

00>24

23>03

05>12

07>12

23>11

NO

06>12

03>12

23>03

00>24

13>05

19>05

00>24

02>16

00>24

10>06

02>15

22>18

19>06

00>24

15>23

17>00

17>06

00>07

11>01

13>04

00>07

17>07

18>23

13>02

16>21

16>23

18>04

20>05

12>00

14>19

20>05

17>03

17>23

14>22

17>20

16>21

19>22

21>00

14>23

17>19

20>23

18>20

20>23

16>20

NO

18>20

20>21

20>22

15>21

18>19

21>22

22>00

17>18

Updated 05 April 2001, based on 09 April 2001 QRZ DX and 02 April 200 The Weekly DX.

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

Solar Flux assumed at 175 and F-Index at 2 for all forecasts.

-- POSSIBLE NEW DXCC ENTITY --

The Pitcairn Islands are made up of four islands, of which only Pitcairn is inhabited. Ducie Island lies farthest to the east, some 540 km from Pitcairn and some 377 km from intermediate Henderson Island. If Pitcairn were to become a member of the International Amateur Radio Union, it would qualify as a Geopolitical DXCC Entity. Due to adequate separation by water, Ducie Island would be eligible as a separate DXCC entity. (Ed. note: This approach was used in 2000 when New Caledonia joined the IARU, such that the Chesterfield Islands qualified as a new DXCC entity.) Tom Christian, VP6TC, acknowledges that Pitcairn will apply for IARU membership--a process that can take 6-12 months. (From 12 and 19 March 2001 The Weekly DX)

-- CYCLE 23 UPDATE --

Cycle 23 showed quite a resurgence the last week of March. On 28 March, the sunspot number hit 352, with a solar flux of 274. The high count was due mostly to region 9393--the largest sunspot observed in 10 years-- which was 13 times the Earth's diameter on the visible solar disk. The SSN hadn't been anywhere near this high since last July, in what looked like the peak for Cycle 23. From 17-21 July 2000, the SSNs were 335, 343, 342, 401 and 325, with the SFs of 228.3, 261.9, 249.9, 252.9 and 250.9. Therefore, while the 28 March SF exceeded any from last July, the SSN did not match the 401 of 20 July 2000. The long-range effects of this activity remain to be reconciled when the smoothed SSN are calculated.

Region 9393 spawned a coronal mass ejection on 8 March that drove the A-index up to 140 on 31 March!

-- APRIL PROPAGATION --

March's Solar Flux averaged 177.8, with the A-index being < 10 for 17 days. Combined with the Spring Equinox those conditions yielded excellent world-wide propagation on 10/12/15 meters. (When the SF > 150 and the A > 10, conditions drop from Above Normal to High Normal.) The April propagation forecast ("Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, April 2001 CQ) follows:

Favorable equinoctial propagation should continue through April for openings between the northern and southern hemispheres.

The 10 and 12 meter bands should be active for DX openings to most areas of the world during daylight hours. Expect 15 and 17 to be the optimum DX bands during the daylight hours. The 20-meter band should have peak DX conditions for an hour or two after local sunrise and again during the afternoon hours. Daytime openings on 10 through 20 meters should follow the sun. Good DX openings should occur on 30, 40 and 80 from shortly after sundown, during the night, and into the sunrise period. Expect increased QRN during April.

Probable best DX days for remainder of month: 18-19 and 28 April should be "Above Normal"; 20, 23-24 and 27 April should be "High Normal".

-- PROPAGATION SOFTWARE --

Sheldon Shallon, W6EL, developer of the widely used "MiniProp Plus" propagation forecasting software has recently released an updated Windows edition called "W6ELProp". The files can be downloaded onto a floppy from a zipped file at <http://www.qsl.net/w6elprop/>. This is an excellent, free, program well worth your while to obtain and utilize.


Page - 7


-- SENATE BILL REGULATING ANTENNAS --

A bill relating to Amateur Radio antenna installations, Senate Bill 1502, was introduced 09 March in the Florida Senate. The bill provides criteria for permitting and installing poles, masts and towers for supporting antennas used in amateur radio operation.

Considering the restrictions imposed by this bill, it is interesting that it was authored by amateurs in Miami-Dade county and presented to Hialeah's Senator Garcia with the hopes of making it a State law. The following excerpts highlight important restrictions:

o Poles, masts and towers cannot be closer than 5 feet from a property line or 1 foot of an easement. No element of a beam can extend within 5 feet of a property line or 1 foot of an easement. A minimum of 8 feet clearance is required of power lines over 250 volts.

o Building permits are required for installation of any poles, masts or towers over 30 feet above the roof of any structure to which they are attached and for any installation over 70 feet in height when erected on natural ground. Permit application must include detailed engineering analysis.

o If the top of poles, masts or towers is greater than 90% of the distance from the property line (e.g., 45' setback required for a 50' tower), then a waiver must be obtained from each owner of adjacent property before a building permit can be issued. If a crank-up tower is used, the setback is based on the height of the bottom tower section.

o Beam antennas must be mounted so as to provide easy servicing and access for removal at the approach of hurricanes, or provide for the lowering of the beam.

It's worth noting there is no "grandfathering" provision for existing antenna installations. in this bill. While the intent of the bill was to override more restrictive ordinances in Hialeah, it is far more restrictive than the requirements in many Florida counties. For instance, Sarasota County does not require any building permit for an amateur antenna tower, and the required setback is 50% of the tower height. More rural, less populated, counties are undoubtedly even more lenient.

As written, the bill has not gained support from the Southeastern Division Director, Frank Butler, nor of the three ARRL Section Managers. The ARRL State Government Liaison, representatives of the ARRL's Regulatory Information Branch and the SE Division Vice Director are all working to resolve problems with this bill. View or print out a copy of this bill from <http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm>. Go to Senate Bill 1502. Senator Garcia's e-mail address is garcia.rudy.web@leg.state.fl.us.

(From ARRL Members Only Web Site, 28 March 2001)

"Whatever you have, spend less." - Samuel Johnson

--COMMON TOWER BUILDING ERRORS --

Steve Morris, K7LXC, of Champion Radio Products has seen many problems and failures after working on over 150 amateur radio towers over the past 15 years. The following are taken from The Ten Most Common Tower Building Mistakes, based on Steve's experiences.

1. Not following the manufacturer's specifications Commercially manufactured towers are designed to comply with current standards for wind loading and structural integrity. If the specs aren't followed, the tower will probably fail. DO what the manufacturer says. The inverse is DON'T DO what the manufacturer DOESN'T SAY. An example: A ham always spray-painted his new antennas with clear Krylon. When he sprayed a KLM antenna, the Krylon reacted with the Lexan boom-to-element brackets, cracking all of them.

2. Overloading

This is the most common reason for tower failure. First you must know the wind speed rating in your county. (105 mph in Sarasota/Charlotte counties!) Next you need the manufacturer's specs for that wind speed. You must not exceed the wind load rating based on those factors. Wind loading goes up at the CUBE of wind speed.

3. Using the wrong mast for the job

Stacks of medium to large sized HF beams can put huge stress on the mast. There are two materials available--pipe and tubing. Pipe is designed to transport liquid and is not rated for strength. Tubing is carbon alloy steel, rated for strength. Galvanized 2" masts sold for amateur radio use range from 35,000 psi to 88,000 psi yield strength. An aluminum mast of 6061-T6 has a 35,000 psi yield strength. Therefore, the mast must be matched to the proposed loading.

4. Improper guy wire tension

Improper guy wire tension is like driving a car with over- or under-inflated tires. Too little guy wire tension can result in wind slamming of the tower and guys as the tower is blown back and forth. Too much tension puts too much preload on the guys and lowers the safety margin.

Probably 90% of ham towers use 3/16" EHS steel guy wires. Guy wire tension is typically 10% of the breaking strength--in the case of 3/16" EHS that would be 400 pounds.

5. Improper ground system

A good ground system is necessary for lightning protection and minimizing RFI.

6. Not doing an annual inspection

Look at everything; push and pull on the hardware. Check 10% or more of tower nuts for tightness, and all U-bolts, mounts, etc.

7. Using wrong hardware

Improper anchors, eyebolts; non-galvanized, etc.

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