Ohio Section Journal – The Technical Coordinator – September 2016 edition

One of the responsibilities of the Technical Coordinator in the Ohio Section is to submit something for the Section Journal. The Section Journal covers Amateur Radio related things happening in and around the ARRL Ohio Section. It is published by the Section Manager Scott – N8SY and articles are submitted by cabinet members.

Once my article is published in the Journal, I will also make it available on my site with a link to the published edition.

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Now without further ado…

Read the full edition at: http://n8sy2.blogspot.com/2016/09/september-edition-of-ohio-section.html

Jeff Kopcak – TC

DSCF5081 K8JTKHey Gang,
I don’t have to complain to you about the hot and extremely humid weather we’ve had because all of you are living it too. Storm season arrived later in Northern Ohio. I wrote last month how my city got hammered by some storms. It continued with a tornado outbreak in Indiana on August 24th. Friend and regular checkin to the Ham Nation D-STAR net luckily sustained no damage. However, his neighbors a quarter-mile to the north and south had their homes destroyed. The line of storms that moved through Indiana spawning many tornados prompted the National Weather Service in Cleveland to staff the Skywarn desk. I was one of the operators at NWS that night. Though the storms significantly weakened by the time they reached the Toledo area, there was one confirmed EF0 tornado in Pemberville (Wood County – my old stomping grounds). It touched down along route 6 and dissipated quickly but not before removing sheet metal roofing from nearby buildings. No injuries or fatalities.

Public service season is quickly wrapping up for most of the section. Technical Specialist David KD8TWG ran much of the five-day public service event at the Great Geauga County Fair. Being from Cuyahoga county (and the far west end at that), I was a little skeptical. ‘OK the GREAT Geauga Fair.’ But it really was a great fair. It’s the biggest one I’ve attended. There’s a ton of people, displays, awards, animals, events and acts, and yes people really do stand in line 45 minutes for a milkshake. This was confirmed in a casual conversation between fair-goers. As far as ham radio there is a great mixture of technologies including Ohio MARCS, 800 MHz, APRS, Mesh, VOIP, and a portable repeater for their communication needs. It was quite the elaborate setup and really is a great example of utilizing technology to suit communication needs.

The public service season concluded in Cleveland on the 11th with a half-marathon called “River Run.” It was great weather and there wasn’t a single ambulance call. A lot of the ham radio event coordinators have to beg, twist arms, and make many phone calls to get people to come out and help. Please volunteer and help out with these events. You’re there to make sure everyone has a good, safe time during the event. Your presence also gets ham radio out in front of the public and builds relationships with event organizers and county officials. If you’re active in helping out with public service events, you’re more likely to be called in the case of an actual situation.

Ham Nation episode 264 (https://twit.tv/shows/ham-nation/episodes/264) was an episode that featured an all YL cast. Everyone on the show that night was a young lady. The episode highlighted female participation in the hobby and pointed out that ham radio is not made up entirely of OMs. Additionally, Dr. Skov (who is not licensed … yet) gave a detailed tutorial on ionospheric conditions and how space weather effects propagation on the HF bands. She talks about the atmospheric layers, electron density, how those layers change during the day vs night vs gray line, the layers which reflect signals, Kp and X-Ray Flux indices. Her tutorial would have really helped me on those licensing test questions! It starts about 44 minutes into the episode – with some interesting analogies. I will leave it at that!

I’ve been spending a ton of time learning more about the DV4Mini dv4miniand DMR in particular. The DV4Mini is a USB hotspot device about the size of a large USB memory stick. It has the ability to “speak” several different digital modes: D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, P25, and dPMR/NXDN/IDAS. A hotspot is a device that provides connectivity. In this case, to different digital networks from your home PC or Raspberry Pi with a low powered transmitter (usually under 10mW). A misconception I hear a lot and have been asked about: yes you do need a radio for each digital mode you want to operate. To connect to D-STAR reflectors you’ll need the hotspot device and a D-STAR capable radio. Similarly, for DMR talk groups, you’ll need the hotspot and a DMR capable radio. I’ve been hanging out a lot on the Ohio Statewide talk group (3139) and USA Nationwide (3100), I even ran into our own Section Manager on the network!

The more time I spend with the DV4Mini the more issues I find with it. It’s a great concept to have one device to work 5 different modes. The DV4M has a lot of issues that I hope the developers correct related to its performance. I actually bricked mine updating it to the latest firmware. Had to crack the case and put into bootloader mode to re-flash the firmware. The update took the second time. This happened to another user too. Comparing audio quality to repeaters on the network and listening to BrandMeister Hoseline, the audio from the device sounds bad most times and terrible the rest. The direct calling feature doesn’t seem to work. A buddy of mine found the developer for the BrandMeister extended routing feature (DV4MF2) completely ceased development as of September 9th. It will be interesting to see why that happened and if that means anything for the future of the device. There are other hotspot devices out there and I hope to find out more about them soon.

David KD8TWG and his presentation on APRS at the Lake Erie Amateur Radio Association (LEARA) meeting was fantastic. We had a lot of fun with APRS on our smartphones and radios sending messages back and forth.

Thanks to the Cuyahoga Amateur Radio Society (CARS) for having me at their meeting on September 13th. I presented my introduction to the Raspberry Pi computer. Good discussion ensued in both cases on new technology hams can utilize.

Coming up, I will be at the Cleveland Hamfest on the 25th. Two days later I’m giving a presentation at the LEARA meeting on Slow Scan TV. If you’re in the Cleveland area and want to see SSTV in action, stop by the meeting on the 27th. More details will be available at leara.org as the meeting date approaches.

Congratulations to Scott N8SY on being reelected as Section Manager for the Ohio Section. Give him a pat on the back or buy him a beer when you see him for all his hard work!

Thanks for reading and 73… de Jeff – K8JTK