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The EARS WA4IWLetter


MAY 2001

-- PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE --

Today I want to talk about membership. A healthy, active club grows by attracting new members who want to get in on the fun and camaraderie. At the present time we have eighty plus members and we certainly have plenty of room for more. So, in the weeks to come, be thinking of ways you can encourage friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, to get interested in Amateur Radio.

Some of the ways you can do so is to invite people to see your station, give them a chance to listen, and even talk over the mike for a brief QSO. Another way would be to put a couple copies of QST or CQ magazines in your car and then, when you are waiting in the doctor's or dentist's office, leave them there for others to find. No doubt there are many other things we can do to get the word out that Amateur Radio is challenging and fun. Try to think of some things you can do and put them into action.

One of our members picked up on an opportunity when the young man who mows his lawn was curious about all the antennas around the yard. That prompted a tour of the shack and, who knows, maybe we will soon be welcoming another member into our midst.

Let's not forget to check up on members who seem to have gone inactive. Give them a call and see if they need a little help with their equipment or antennas, or just some encouragement to again get involved in radio.

Old guys, young guys--and let's not forget the women, too--all are welcome to our world of Amateur Radio. Most important, however, your enthusiasm for the hobby is contagious and it will help us grow.

73 de Vic, KF4VHX

-- EARS BOOSTER CLUB --

Thanks to the following recent contributors:

WA4IWL - Don Spencer

KE4UFS - Marty Henry

WB1CYM - Sel Kerrigan

W1NPR - Freeman Crosby

K2OY - Bruce Robideau

-- QSL INFORMATION --

See <http://www.qsl.net/pathfinder/> for information and download instructions for a free program to find QSL information from more than 100 web-accessible sources. Pathfinder Web Client requires no downloading at <http://www.qsl.net/pathfinder/WebClient/>.

-- MAY MEETING --

The next EARS meeting will be held 18 May 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, Fellowship Hall. The program will be a presentation by West Central Florida Assistant Section Manager Paul Toth, NA4AR, on the "Skywarn Program". The Summer Storm Season is fast approaching, so this is a very timely topic. Come on out!

-- GOD'S VOICE VS. THE "GREENS" --

A Reuters news release stated "The Vatican, in a last-ditch effort to stop Italy from cutting off electricity to its radio station over a dispute centering on electromagnetic radiation, said Monday it would eliminate some transmissions after Easter. The Italian minister of health accused Vatican Radio of exceeding Italian laws on radiation and of being a health threat. The broadcaster would shut down its medium wave transmissions on the 1530 KHz band for seven hours a day." This came about because of "cluster" leukemia deaths in areas surrounding the Vatican.

Fabio Mantovani, IZ4AFW, offered additional comments. The station runs 450 KW on 1530 KHz. Italy has the toughest limits on RF exposure, 6 V/m, and the exposure is about 23 V/m in the houses nearest the Vatican antennas--which are on Italian territory. These houses were apparently built illegally but recently accepted by the government. Of interest, the danger from some 7000 cubic meters of Italian government radioactive waste near the site remains unquestioned by these officials.

A subsequent AP release stated Vatican Radio agreed to reduce some shortwave transmissions to comply with tough Italian environmental regulations. An Italian prosecutor has charged three Vatican officials with "damaging the environment" and they are scheduled to go on trial in the Fall. The Vatican says the transmissions are in line with less strict international standards and are shielded from prosecution under a 1929 pact that established Vatican City as an independent entity.

Tom Rauch, W8JI, pointed out that the only Stateside study linking leukemia to EM radiation was falsified.

(Regardless of facts, the unyielding power of the "greens" has apparently won out. What's next?)

(From TowerTalk reports, 09-10 April and 02 May 2001)


Page - 2


ENGLEWOOD AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY

Minutes of the Meeting

April 20, 2001

President Vic Emmelkamp-KF4VHX opened the meeting at 7:30 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance. Guest Joe Sullivan-WA1WLU and his wife, Rita, were introduced and a round of self-introductions made. New member Tom Hawes-WA3PRC was introduced and all were welcomed to the meeting..

A motion by Free Crosby-W1NPR to accept the minutes of last month's meeting as printed in the newsletter was seconded by Jim Halliday-NX2II and carried.

Bruce Robideau-K2OY gave the Treasurer Report. The checkbook shows a balance this date of $3447.22. The club Booster Fund has a balance of $73.50. A motion for acceptance of the report by Gene Fowler-KA1GCU was seconded by Jim-NX2II and carried.

CORRESPONDENCE

A letter was read from Don DiBello-KF4WJW suggesting dues be raised.

A card was received from Arthur Komarek-WB9VQD advising of his move to Pennsylvania and information on his health status.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

SUNSHINE - Gene Fowler-KA1GCU reported that Don Glaum-KB8YXE passed away on April 12, 2001. He was in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Cards have been sent to Dennis Babcock-NT9K and George Shreve-KA4JKY. Both are recovering from outpatient surgery recently.

RACES - The Wednesday evening net on April 25th will be at 8 pm on 146.745 MHz. The Thursday morning meeting at the Englewood EOC is at 9 am on April 26th. The net on Thursday is at 9:30 am on 146.865 MHz (Grove City repeater).

TESTING - Jack Sproat-W4JS reported an exam session is planned for tomorrow morning at 9 am at the Chamber of Commerce. One paper upgrade was completed last month.

DX - Bruce-K2OY reported on 6-meter DX, which has been great the last two weeks via transequatorial propagation. Many contacts were made by EARS members to South America, the South Pacific islands and New Zealand. Bruce gave an excellent EARS SHIRT commercial: "LET'S GET THE SHIRTS OUT OF THE BOX AND THE MONEY IN THE BANK."

ANNOUNCEMENTS

o Free-W1NPR has some Furry Skurry pictures on his web site.

o Free has about 30 members on his list now to receive the newsletter by e-mail. Also he has the last two years' newsletters available on a disc.

o The books donated by EARS are now on the shelf at the Charlotte County Library, and some have been checked out already.

o Work is in progress on a membership roster and directory.

o Please renew your ARRL membership through the club. The club earns $2.00 for each renewal. Make checks out to EARS.

o The Chamber of Commerce EXPO 2001 will be held at the Tringali Center on May 18 and 19. EARS will have a booth. A sign-up sheet was passed around for volunteers to help man our booth.

o Field Day will be June 23 and 24. We expect to use the same site as last year. The picnic after Field Day will be a pitch-in dinner this year. Quite a number of members indicated an interest in participating in Field Day.

HAMFEST 2002

Vic-KF4VHX and representatives Peace River Repeater Association and Charlotte Amateur Radio Society met on April 18 to discuss the feasibility of a combined hamfest for next year. The Charlotte County Fairgrounds was investigated as a possible site. Vic asked if there was support from the club to continue exploring such an event. Jerry Meckenberg-K4JWE made a motion that we continue to look into having a combined hamfest. Seconded by Howard White-KD4MMY and carried. Vic said he will set up a meeting for May 16 to review input from the other clubs. each club will have a committee of three members for the next meeting.

AWARD PRESENTATION

A nice plaque was presented to Jack Sproat-W4JS by President Vic Emmelkamp in appreciation for his excellent leadership as president of EARS for the last three years.

OLD BUSINESS

Budget - Vic-KF4VHX presented a budget for year 2001 with a projection of $1700 income and approximately $1700 expense. After some discussion, Howard-KD4MMY made a motion to approve the budget. Seconded by George-KA4JKY and carried.

NEW BUSINESS

There was some additional discussion on Field Day and Lighthouse weekend. Both have enthusiastic support.

The meeting broke for refreshments at 8:45 pm.

PROGRAM - Marty Henry-KE4UFS introduced the speaker. The program was on "Grounding and Lightning Protection" by Ken Anderson-W4JQT.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 pm. There were 26 members and 2 guests present.

Ken Anderson-W4JQT

Secretary Pro Tem

-- SNOWBIRD NET --

The Snowbird Net meets daily at 10 AM on 14.278, and at 7:00 pm on 7.230. All are welcome.


Page - 3


BACKSCATTER

-- 2001 EARS BUDGET --

In accordance with the EARS Bylaws, the officers and trustees have prepared and submitted a budget to the membership. This was done at the 20 April meeting. At that time, approval was given to a break-even budget of $1700. That is, $1700 expected revenue and approximately $1700 in expenses. As promised, here is the detailed breakdown of each category:

Income (Dollars)

ARRL Dues 200

Booster Fund 100

Membership Dues 1200

Sale of Shirts 100

Training 100

Total Income 1700

Expenses (Dollars)

Arrl Payments 175

State Incorporation Fee 63

Badges for New Members 26

Field Day 200

Insurance 352

Newsletter 400

Miscellaneous 100

Rent 144

Membership Roster 50

Sunshine Committee 15

Training 75

Total Expenses 1700

As with any budget, this is our "best guess" at this point in time. "Article VI, Budget, Section 2 - Disperse Funds" in our bylaws will govern how any non-budgeted monies are spent.

Vic Emmelkamp- KF4VHX, President

Bruce Robideau-K2OY, Treasurer

-- 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 VE Team Liaison Jack Sproat, W4JS, at 475-1929

"There's small choice in rotten apples." - William Shakespeare

--LIGHTNING DETECTION SERVICE --

We are fast approaching the summer season with its accompanying rainstorms and potential for lightning strikes. Of possible interest to those with tall towers or high antennas that make attractive targets for lightning, there is a free lightning location map available on the Internet as well as a monitoring/alarm service available at nominal cost.

To view the nationwide lightning location map that shows ground strikes, coded by age, in the past two hours, and is updated every 15 minutes (you have to press "refresh" to get the update manually), go to: <http://www.lightningstorm/gpg/lex1/mapdisplay_free. jsp>. For summer contests, Field Day, or family outings, if you want to be notified of approaching storms within an 8-mile radius via pager or e-mail, you can sign up for as short a period as 3 hours for $4.95, a weekend for $6.95, a month for $19.95, or an entire year for $192 by going to: <http://www.lightningstorm.com/ products/lightningstore_notification.jsp>.

If you have taken a strike and need to convince an insurance adjuster, an on-line report generation is available for insurance claims. These let you get details for up to a 2-week period for $75, with options for $10 at: <http://www.lightningstorm.com/products/products/ analysis/strikenet.jsp>.

Usually we only know of approaching storms by hearing thunder or seeing lightning. Disconnecting antennas and equipment during a storm could prove fatal, therefore such a warning system is intriguing.

(From "Lightning Season Info", Dave Robbins, K1TTT, and "Lightning Detectors", Larry Alkoff, N2LA, TowerTalk Reflector, 18 April 2001)

-- SENATE BILL 1502 IS DEAD --

Senate Bill 1502, which would give the State of Florida power to establish regulations concerning amateur radio antennas and towers has faded into the sunset.

As written by amateurs in Miami-Dade County, the bill was considered overly restrictive and did not have support from any ARRL officials in Florida. The three Section Managers will now start work on a bill for the entire State. John Hills, KC4N, State Government Liaison will draft the bill, and all Assistant SMs will be contacted for input. Amateurs within the State will have the opportunity to comment to the ASMs. At such time as a bill is drafted that can be supported by all, sponsors will approached through out the State.

(From Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, "NFI Section News" ARRL Members Only Web Site, 30 April 2001)

"Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue." - Izaak Walton


Page - 4


MORE BACKSCATTER

-- BITTEN BY THE DX BUG --

(The following exchange, which took place on the NJDXA Reflector 08 April 2001, bares the confessions of, and possible consequences to, a DXer.)

Ron Angle, K6KYJ, confessed "I am, at best a softcore DXer. I do not collect cards and cannot afford to send cards except by request, and until a few weeks (ago) had no idea how many or what countries that I have worked since returning to the HF bands in 1988. Still, I am making a renewed effort this season to increase my 'countries worked' totals on all six bands with a four band DXCC within reach.

"But nothing may match this morning. 'CQ DX NA LP de VQ9VK' perked up my ears while trying to make a sked with a VU2 station. Not even sure of where VQ9 was at that moment. I called and was acknowledged on my third try. Yes, he got my call as K6KQJ, by my whole objective in this game is just being heard.

"When I did the path checks, the nifty new W6EL program indicated that I had just put a 14,878 mile QSO in the log book. Right along his and my graylines. On a hundred watts, a 20-yr old transceiver, and an E-W inverted dipole 45 feet high. It was a DX moment."

Following Ron's acknowledging the unbridled thrill of working long-haul DX, Lee Jennings, ZL2AL, provided some sage comment and advice.

"Ron....be very, very careful.

"First it's the soft core....you know...'I'll just see if I can work this guy....easy, I can give it up any time I want to.' Then the rush of a new one, followed by hard core DXing. And you can't give it up. Your bank account drains. You secretly read the DX columns in CQ. A subscription to Bernie's Daily DX follows. Before you know it, you are scanning the calls in the 'Top Mode' and 'Top Band' lists. Your buddies on 80M hear less and less of you, until you finally disappear from the rag chewing scene. Your friends notice your hearing loss, and your workmates notice you yawn a lot at your work. Your life becomes focused on greylines.

"It's an old familiar story. The spiral down hill into hard core DXing begins quite innocently.. Be very careful Ron!

"73, Lee"

Yep, when the DX Bug bites--it lasts forever!

-- CLASSIFIED --

For Sale: Mosley 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

"The importance of morality is that people behave themselves even if nobody's watching." - Walter Williams

---ooo---


-- NEWSWORTHY HAMS --

Several hams have been in the international news lately, but scarcely anyone knew they were amateur radio personnel.

Veronica "Roni" Bowers, KD4CKM, a Tech Plus licensee and her infant daughter, Charity, were killed when their Cessna 185 float plane was shot at by a Peruvian Air Force jet and ditched in the Amazon River. Bowers' husband, Jim, KD4CKN, a General licensee and their son Cory, aged 6, were not seriously injured in the incident. Pilot Kevin Donaldson was shot in the leg but survived. The fighter shot at the civilian plane as the latter was suspected, incorrectly, as being a drug courier flight.

American businessman and former Jet Propulsion Lab engineer Dennis Tito, made the news when he reportedly paid the Russian space program $20 million for the privilege of becoming the first "space tourist" to the International Space Station. Dennis is also KG6FZX, a Technician licensee. NASA sources have said that he will have access to the ISS amateur radio gear on a "non-interference basis", however, he is not scheduled to be involved in any of the space station/school contacts.

(From The ARRL Letter, 27 April 2001)

-- CHOKE BALUN SIZING --

Assembly and installation instructions for Cushcraft and Hygain beams show the use of a coil of coaxial cable as a choke balun between the feedline and the driven element. Cushcraft's 40-meter 40-2CD calls for 12 turns of coax on a 6" diameter, and the A4S tri-bander calls for 8 turns on a 6" diameter. Hygain called for 12 turns of coax on a 6" diameter on its 10 and 15-meter monobanders.

According to lab testing by Ed Gilbert, WA2SRQ, these guidelines are faulty.

A 1:1 coaxial balun with excellent choking reactance for 40 meters should use 12 turns of RG-213 wrapped parallel, using 4" PVC drainage pipe as a form.

Similarly, 6 turns of RG-213 on the same diameter form will give the desired results on 10 through 20 meters.

(From K1TTT Technical Reference found at <http:// www.berkshire.net/~robbins/technote/>

-- WANTED: NEWSLETTER EDITOR --

Notice was given in the March newsletter that this will be the last year for your editor, and the services of a dedicated replacement editor were requested. Some interest has been shown by one EARS member, however, nothing has firmed to date.

Qualifications were stated in the March notice, so they won't bear repeating. Contact W4JS, 475-1929, if you're willing to get involved. Seven months--max--to go!


Page - 5


UPCOMING CONTESTS AND ACTIVITIES
Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
A. Volta (Italian) RTTY

Contest

1200 GMT 12 May

1200 GMT 13 May

80 - 10 Meters

RTTY

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T, Serial No., CQ Zone
CQ-M (Russian) International DX Contest 2100 GMT 12 May

2100 GMT 13 May

160 - 10 Meters

CW/SSB/SSTV

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/(T) + Serial No.
European Spring Sprint 1500 GMT 19 May

1900 GMT 19 May

80 - 20 Meters

SSB

European Stations Serial No. + Name
Baltic DX Contest (Lithuanian) 2100 GMT 19 May

0200 GMT 20 May

80 Meters Only

CW/SSB

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia Only R/S/(T) + Serial No.
CQ Worldwide WPX Contest 0000 GMT 26 May

2400 GMT 27 May

160 - 10 Meters

CW

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T + Serial No.
WW South America DX

Contest (Brazilian)

1200 GMT 02 June

1800 GMT 03 June

80 - 10 Meters

CW

Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T + Serial No.
Portugal Day Contest 0000 GMT 09 June

2400 GMT 09 June

80 - 10 Meters

SSB

Anyone, Anywhere R/S + Serial No.
TOEC Field Contest (Swedish) 1200 GMT 09 June

1200 GMT 10 June

160 - 10 Meters

SSB

Anyone, Anywhere R/S + Grid Square
ARRL VHF QSO Party 1800 GMT 09 June

0300 GMT 11 June

6 Meters and Up

SSB/CW

Anyone, Anywhere Grid Square

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

-- RETURN POSTAGE REQUIREMENTS --

The IRC/Greenstamp Table maintained by Bill Heinzinger, W9OL offers info regarding the of IRCs or bucks needed in many countries. Usually one IRC or buck is adequate, with the following notable exceptions:

o Belgium 2 IRCs or $2

o Colombia 1 IRC or $2

o Germany 1 IRC or $2

o Lebanon $1 only - IRCs not valid

o South Africa 2 IRCs or $1

o Switzerland 2 IRCs or $2 in airmail envelope

2 IRCs or $1 in white envelope

o Uruguay 1 IRC or $2

In the Philippines, Manila post office will exchange IRCs; outlying post offices will not. An IRC in Kuwait is only accepted if it is new and clearly stamped and the country name is shown clearly. Do not send greenstamps to India, as their possession is illegal.

Check out the complete info at <http://www.qsl. net/w9ol/ircchart.txt>

-- SOLAR INFO ON THE WEB --

Jan Alvestad offers a daily "Solar Terrestrial Activity Report" on the Internet, showing daily historical plots of Sunspot Number, Solar Flux and Planetary A, along with descriptions of recent developments affecting propagation, and updates on solar flares and coronal mass ejections. A forecast of solar conditions is also provided. Visit: <http://www.dxlc.com/solar/>.

-- MAIDENHEAD GRID SQUARES --

VHF DXers commonly give only their "grid square" as their location, and it will be noted that the last two contests shown above require the grid square in the exchange. The first two characters (letters) in the Maidenhead system constitute the 20o x 10o field. This is followed by two numbers designating the 2o x 1o square. Locally, we are in the "EL" field, with those living north of the 27th Parallel (just north of Englewood Isles) being in grid square EL87 and those south of the 27th Parallel in EL86.

(From The ARRL Handbook 1997)

-- REDUCING ROTATIONAL STRESS --

For anyone putting more than one antenna on a mast, one way to somewhat minimize the total rotational torque is to stagger antennas on both sides of the mast - i.e., first antenna boom on the right, second antenna boom on the left, etc. This will lower the total mast torque and stresses everywhere--rotator, rotator plate, tower guys, etc. Anyone who doesn't believe this will work hasn't read the articles by Dick Weber, K5IU, Professional Engineer.

(From Steve Morris, K7LXC, 21 April 2001 on towertalk@contesting.com)

"If the Constitution is our yardstick, the average American should be paying less than $1000 (in today's money) in annual taxes." - Joe Sobran


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
So & No Cook Is - ZK1NDS/NFK

Agalega - 3B6RF

Mongolia - JU1O

Macau - XX9TKW

Fernando da Noronha - PY0F

Mongolia - JT1Y

Monaco - 3A/???

Maldives - 8Q7WH

Mozambique - C93???

Now to 18 May

02 - 18 May

05 - 13 May

18 - 27 May

24 May - 01 Jun

29 May - ???

01 - 03 June

04 - 11 June

During June

246/255

75

354

341

115

354

50

41

101

04>11

00>02

NO

NO

00>08

NO

00>04

0030

00>05

03>12

23>03

NO

NO

22>10

NO

23>06

00>01

23>05

23>17

20>05

00>24

07>16

00>24

00>24

00>24

21>04

20>08

16>13

18>23

00>05

16>05

00>24

00>06

23>04

02>03

05>17

17>06

19>23

00>04

12>20

13>03

01>03

22>06

01>03

15>17

17>21

19>23

00>03

12>19

16>20

02>03

12>14

NO

16>17

17>22

18>19

NO

12>17

21>24

NO

NO

NO

16>17

Updated 04 May 2001, based on 07 May 2001 QRZ DX and 30 April 2001 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, based on use of W6ELProp

-- HOW CLOSE TO THE EDGE? --

If the band edge goes to 14.350, just how close can one legally operate? FCC rule 97.307 states in part, "Emissions resulting from modulation must be confined to the band or segment available to the control operator." What must be understood is that the frequency displayed on the radio's digital display is the carrier frequency. A suppressed-carrier single-sideband signal is considered to be 3 kc wide. Therefore, for an USB signal to be confined to the 20-meter Amateur Band, the frequency displayed on the digital dial should be no higher than 14.347. That may even be too close unless the transmitted signal is attenuated by at least 40 dB at 3 kc. The same holds true for a LSB signal transmitted near the lower end of a band or segment, e.g., one should not operate phone with a dial frequency lower than 7.153.

For CW, you should add roughly a minimum of 4 times your keying speed to the band edge due to the additional bandwidth CW keying consumes. If your synthesized rig has 10 cycle readout and a 10 ppm reference oscillator, dial error at 29 MHz is + (10 + 29 x 10) = 300 cycles. Add that to your filter skirts, and 3 kc is too close for comfort.

(From "The Band Edge - How Close is Too Close?" by Duane Traver, WV2B, and additional comments by Bill Tippett, W4ZV, and Tim Groat, KR0U, 09 and 10 April 2001 on www.contesting. com/articles)

-- BASIC DX WEB SITES --

Unlike "nets", DX does not appear on a prescribed frequency at a scheduled time. In many areas, DX Packet Clusters provide real-time reports of DX being worked, however, the local "gateway" packet station has been off the air for about a year. So, where can the DXer find assistance to lessen the DX listening time?

<http://oh2aq.kolumbus.com/dxs/> is the site to visit for the "DX Summit", which is a real-time listing of DX being worked. The downside is that stations from all over the world are posting reports, therefore, you are best off screening these reports for just those from North American stations. The current propagation data from WWV is also posted on this site.

Subscribing to the E-mail DX Reflector sponsored by the North Jersey DX Association is also a good move. Go to <http://njdxa.org/dx-news>. In addition to input from fellow subscribers, this reflector posts the weekly Ohio-Pennsylvania DX newsletter (OPDX), the Italian 425 DX News, and items from The Daily DX.

-- MAY PROPAGATION --

April's Solar Flux ranged from 258 to 123 and averaged 178.3, with the A-index being < 10 for 10 days. The May propagation forecast ("Propagation" by George Jacobs, W3ASK, May 2001 CQ) follows:

The 10/12/15/17/20-meter bands should provide DX propagation during the daylight hours. Considerably fewer east-west openings are expected on 10 meters, but conditions should continue good to southern areas. Good worldwide DX conditions are expected on 15 and 17, but the bands should peak later during the day.

Peak worldwide conditions are expected on 20 meters for an hour or two after local sunrise and during the afternoon hours. From sundown to midnight, excellent DX conditions should exist on 20 to many areas of the world. Forty meters should provide good openings towards Europe, Africa and the east. Good DX openings should also be found on 15 and 17 meters toward the southern and western areas of the world. Signals on 80 and 160 meters will be mainly weak and noisy.


Page - 7


WAVES AND REFLECTIONS

-- LIGHTNING PROTECTION --

(The following comments are from the CQCONTEST reflector as complied by Scott Neader, KA9FOX)

I live in Central Florida, which is an area known as the "Lightning Capital of the United States". We experience >100 days/year of lighting activity.

Lightning bolts in Central Florida are THREE times more powerful than your "average" bolt (some 40,000 amps), and also carry two to three times the current of your average, every day strike. Because of this, lightning protection is a subject on which I've done a fair amount of research. Having done this research (which, by the way, was neither difficult nor boring), I find it very difficult to deal with some of the ridiculous "theories" on lighting protection I've heard and seen.

One of the excellent suggestions, however, was to purchase the PolyPhaser book "The 'Grounds' for Lightning and EMP Protection", by Roger R. Block. (Available from PolyPhaser Corporation, PO Box 9000, 2225 Park Place, Minden, NV 894239000) Anyone interested in this topic should know the basic information (as opposed to the formulas, etc) in this book by memory!

Think about it. Is it REALLY a matter of "life and death" if you choose between a FT-1000 and an IC-775 for your next rig? No. Well, you can't say the same thing about lightning protection!

For all of the thousands of dollars many spend on radios, antennas, $1,300 Geochron clocks, Pentium PCs, and other "essential" widgets, it's interesting to speculate why ANYONE would be willing to let $25 get between them and continued ignorance on such an important subject.

If a tower that isn't grounded is hit, who would have control of the situation, the tower owner or Mother Nature? With a properly grounded tower, the owner has control. The whole concept of lightning protection is to control and direct the lightning surge energy so that it does the least amount of harm or damage.

So, proper lighting protection is really a matter of CONTROL. Do you want to ALLOW yourself to be a victim, or do you, to the best of your ability, manage the situation to afford yourself the safest conditions possible?

Clearly, the idea of NOT grounding your station seems a bit silly when cast in this light. NOTHING is a perfect insulator! Even a fiberglass pole will conduct electricity if it's covered with rain water, so pretending that an ungrounded tower will not be struck is sheer fantasy.

Another tip is to make sure that all of your grounds are at the same potential, including your house ground. This means connecting ALL of your ground points together. I have four towers; three of them 100' or greater in height. They are the tallest things around for miles and miles. They ALL have ground radials with ground rods every 16', and all four towers' grounds are tied to a common grounding point just outside the shack (where the lightning arrestors are) and also to the house ground. I've used over 85 8' ground rods, and buried more ground wire than I want to think about. It's the price you pay to not be a victim.

Oh, does anyone want to know why those wire-brush thingies sold as "lightning protection" don't work? What about the "ground radial circle" myth? What's the significance of 150 feet with respect to lightning strikes? Get the book.

73, Steve Sacco, KC2X (now NN4X)

Narcoosee, Florida

-- HAM PRODUCT REVIEWS --

Try <http://www.eham.net/reviews/> if you're in the market for virtually any ham radio product and/or publication. Everything from antennas and transceivers to filters and magazines can be found. This site offers those hams who have bought and used these products to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, and make their own comments--good or bad. The ratings for each item are averaged, so you can quickly see how they're thought of. You just might be surprised to see some of these comments. Sure worth your while before you make any further investments in any ham radio product.

-- GETTING STARTED --

All new hams are confused when it comes to setting up a ham shack for the first time. What others have done may or may not be suitable, so it's usually advisable to get as much help as possible from various sources. Back in 1981 TAB Books published a good primer on setting up a new ham shack. That publication is now available, either as a downloaded file or on a CD for about $22. To learn more, take a look at the following: <http://www.antennex.com/Sshack/hamshack/ hs_ad.htm>.

-- POTENTIAL PROBLEMS? --

The Ocala-based firm Intellon is working on high speed home powerline networking, with the trade marked slogan "No New Wires".

Their PowerPacket multiple carrier technology delivers high-speed network access through existing home wiring. It allows virtually any electronic device to be connected to another by plugging PowerPacket devices into any AC power outlet. Of critical interest, the system operates in the 4.3 MHz to 20.9 MHz range under FCC Part 15 rules. (From 01 May 2001 W5YI Report)

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