ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-04-15

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Luzerne County ARES® Sunday Night Bulletin
    "We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."
    Archilochus - Greek Poet and Soldier

    "Success is not Final. Failure is not Fatal. The only thing that matters is the courage to carry on."
    Winston Churchill
    If you are an ARRL member and you have at least noticed what the ARRL Board is doing then here is the information you need to react to it.
    If you are not aware of what the ARRL Board is doing then it is time for you to get informed!


    • Current Versions of Fldigi programs
        • Luzerne County ARES® Information...
        • Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
        • !Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
        • Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
        • Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 4/8/2018
        • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 4/14/18)...
        • Weekly Images
        • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
          • !In a Hurry?....
          • A New Ham Radio Operator...
          • Maybe Dipoles Don't Cut It? (Reprise)...
          • OH8STN is at it again - Philosophical Differences...
          • All Time High!...
          • !The LCARES Challenge...
          • Seen in QST - Land Ops...
          • !Spring Skywarn Training...
        • EPA-ARRL Web site...
        • Ham Radio Links
        • Closing
    Bulletin Date: April 15, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 194

    This Bulletin is for all Amateur Radio Operators in Luzerne County and any interested Amateur Radio Station anywhere.

    Note: A copy of this Bulletin is stored on the web site in .wav file format. This file can be replayed by Fldigi and Flamp to get the complete Bulletin.

    Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    Current Versions of Fldigi Suite
    Fldigi Flmsg Flamp
    4.0.16 4.0.6 2.2.03
    Current as of: April 1, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.
    Latest versions available at

    Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    - Important: The Sunday Night Bulletin is required reading for all LCARES Members. If you are busy look for the things with the ! in front of them.

    Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
    The Rotation Schedule for the LCARES Voice net has been posted on the Last update: March 11, 2018

    Please be sure to review the NCS schedule before the upcoming nets.

    !Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
    (These will be read by the Alternate NCS during the regular weekly session of the LCARES Voice Net.)

    * - indicates that announcement should not be read on the LCARES Net.

    1. The 2018 Communications Exercise is set for April 28th. The Dry Run was held on April 14th. As soon as the results from the Dry Run are in they will be published and any amendments/changes to the Comm Ex will be announced..
    2. Just a reminder that both the LCARES Voice Net and the LCADN are canceled for April 17th and 24th due to the Skywarn Training and the LCEMA Quarterly Training (QT). Please see below for registration for the Skywarn Training. If you plan on attending theplease let Dave Elmore, KC3IMJ, know by email at
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 4/8/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 4/14/18)...

    Note: Credit is given for responding but to win, place, or show the answer has to be correct.
    Sunday Night Bulletin for April 8, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    Bill - KC3HLT
    2nd Response
    3rd Response
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 13

    Weekly Images
    I really don't know what to put up as far as a weekly image but while perusing off road ham radio on Google I found this...
    Yep - that is a Subaru Forester.

    It caught fire during a SOTA operation by VK3PF in Australia. So SOTA plus Subaru had to equal interesting.

    Here is the link:

    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    !In a Hurry?....
    - I thought I'd leave this in here a few weeks. Remember, if you are rushed for time look for the items with the !. Those are the items that really need to be read. Everything else is just fluff. Read the important things and the other stuff when you can.

    A New Ham Radio Operator...
    - As announced last week my friend, Kris, passed his exam. His new call was posted on Friday. Welcome KC3LEB to the Amateur Radio Community.

    Maybe Dipoles Don't Cut It? (Reprise)...
    - I want to thank everyone for the comments on the blurb about antennas last week. It was fun to do even though I had to scrape through a lot of Shack Notes to find everything. I am looking for the info that I had on a 2 element 10 meter beam but this weekend is a bit rushed and crushed for time.

    A guest writer to the rescue! N1ZZZ contributed the following about Polarization and Antennas. Seems things show up at unexpected but needed times. Below are N1ZZZ's comments from the other side of the World!

    Antennas are typically configured in three kinds of polarization: vertical, horizontal, and circular. Radio services, including amateur, traditionally use certain kinds of polarization for various applications and there is a reason for this. When working local stations, using the incorrect polarization can cause up to a 20 dB signal loss. This can easily make or break a communications link.

    FM work on VHF and UHF work normally use vertically polarized antennas. Since it is natural for H-T and mobile whips to be vertical, repeater and base station antennas follow suit. When using weak signal modes like SSB and CW, VHF is normally horizontally polarized.

    The real trouble happens when we start using HF antennas for local communications. Since the polarization of the signal changes when bouncing around the ionosphere, the polarization of the two antennas can be different. This leads to no traditional polarization for HF antennas. However, when using 10 or 12 meters for local communications, if one station is using a flat dipole, and another is using a vertical, we can have serious signal loss. Remembering that the EOC antenna on HF is a fairly flat dipole, means that you will get much better results if you are using a horizontal antenna rather than a vertical on your field station.

    That being said, you don't need to obsess about being entirely horizontal. Inverted-V or sloper antennas, while suffering from some polarization loss, will still get the job done. The key to know that the loss gets worse as you approach 90 degrees out. Even getting the antenna from 90 degrees to 45 degrees reduces the loss from 20 dB to 3 dB. Polarization is just one of the many factors to be considered when setting up a station, but not one that should be forgotten.

    Thank Jeremy for reminding us that we should be "polarized" about our antennas.

    A quick point from me about the dipole feed point....

    Some one asked a question about using a balun with the LCARES Constructed 10 meter dipoles. And like all questions I am glad that someone asked it.

    You do not absolutely need a balun with your dipole. I used dipoles for many year being blissfully ignorant of what a balun did or didn't add to my antenna. And a balun is not necessary to connect your coax to the dipole. Some commercially available "center insulators" for dipoles are just a block of plastic with connections to an SO-239. No balun at all.

    The balun (balanced to unbalanced) is a transformer that takes your balanced feed point and makes it play nicely with your unbalanced coax. There are voltage baluns and current baluns. Mostly we use current baluns. The balun can help control SWR, reduce noise, and protect your coax if you happen to run high power. It can also keep common mode currents off the of shield of the coax.

    A half-wave dipole will work with out a balun. If you have a balun by all means use it. That is provided it is the right type. If you don't have a balun I recommend using what is known as common mode choke. There is an excellent article from the Yankee Clipper Contest Club at this URL: and I recommend you take a look at it.

    Note that article is 10 year old. Remember that the science in radio doesn't change. The components and thing-a-ma-jigs may get smaller. The ohm is still the same as the day that Professor Ohm wrote his law.

    The YCCC article involves ferrite beads and things but you can also use an air wound choke at the feed point of the antenna to do something simpler with good results.

    The "Ugly Balun". I use these. They are simple to make. A PVC pipe, coax, and wire ties and you are off and running.

    It does not take much to build as you can see. I have used this type of balun on my dipoles for quite some time and even on a vertical antenna for 40 meters. The noise difference here in Duryea was remarkable but it is a YMMV issue. Since it costs almost $0 to build I suggest that you give it a try. You might be surprised.

    Even if you don't want to build an Ugly Balun you can still benefit from a Coiled Coax RF Choke Balun. If an "Ugly Balun" is easy to build then this is. without any doubt, simplicity itself. It is simply a coil of coax at the feed point of the dipole (or beam or pretty much any antenna that you have) and it provides an inductor that blocks unwanted emissions.


    The above images are from the 2014 ARRL Handbook...

    As you can see the balun is just a coil of coax. Nothing more and no form. If you add the form, like the Ugly Balun, you do increase the efficiency of the inductor. The table to the right gives you some detail on lengths of the coax and the number of turns. If you have a single band dipole, like the 10 meter one that we built, then use the 28 MHz values for the single band antenna. If you have a multi-band dipole use the bottom table for good results.

    One caveat - remember that 22ft of RG-8 can be heavy. If you hang a coiled coax dipole from your feed point be sure to use some form of strain relief. You don't want the solder in the PL-259 or from the center conductor and shield being the only "glue" that is holding your coax to the antenna. And be sure the center feed point of your dipole is well supported.

    Again, a balun is not absolutely necessary but it is an idea that has some merit.

    OH8STN is at it again - Philosophical Differences...
    - I had to include this one from Julian. This blog from Julian contrasts two different philosophies about radio preparedness. I have to kind of take Julian's side of the debate because it fits into what I think is the "best" way to build out options for any happening. Versatility is really the name of the game. On the other side of the coin there is the debate that you should pick something and be really good at it. However, if you are the specialized tool in the drawer and there is no need for you then you might not get used all that much.

    Read the post and watch the video and let me know what you think.

    Radio Prepper Survival Radio Philosophy and Charging Batteries

    All Time High!...
    - I remember in college when one of my friends said he had an All Time High but he was not referring to numbers.

    This past week the LCARES Net and the LCADN both hit their all time high numbers for check-ins. The LCARES Net had 20 and the LCADN ended up with 10 check-ins. I don't really look at the numbers. I look at what we can get done as far as traffic and training. The group that inhabits the LCARES net is getting very good at handling traffic and net operations. Still some rough edges since we gather new members but they will smooth out. The operations on the LCADN is smooth and efficient. Even when there is a hiccup on the LCADN you guys are good about working through the issue. So even though I don't look for numbers I am gratified by the continued support of the nets. Thank you all!

    !The LCARES Challenge...
    - The results from the April 8th survey are in and, as promised, here are the unexpurgated (unmodified) results from those stations who regularly participate. I did get 4 responses from stations that don't respond regularly. I appreciate their responses but I only wanted to hear from any station that had responded in the past year. It seems that the bulletin is to continue as well as the Challenge.

    So with a 70% vote for continuing in both categories I will continue the bulletin and the challenge for now.

    I say for now. I think all of you know that come October 2018 I plan to step out of the Luzerne County EC roll and turn it over to N3SRO. That is the stated plan. I thought I had a plan to be away from the Section Emergency Coordinator's job at the end of March too. What happens to the Nets and the SNB at that time will be N3SRO's call. I certainly can't pontificate like I do because I will not be in a position to make policy any more. For now it is status quo and I'll try to keep it interesting.

    Discontinue the Challenge Continue the Bulletin

    D-Yes E – No F – Don’t Care Yes No Discontinue the Challenge Total 13
    2 9 2 10 3 Continue the Bulletin Total 13
    15% 69% 15% 77% 23%

    Just as an off hand comment here - I am puzzled as to why 3 of the respondents want the bulletin to end. Maybe I should just be content that they voted at all.

    Seen in QST - Land Ops...
    The new QST arrived on Friday. Lots of good stuff in it. I have not read it cover to cover yet but I did find an interesting article about the Land Ops Group. I'd like you to look at the web site and, if you get QST, go read the article. If you do that send me your comments.

    !Spring Skywarn Training...
    - Well, I know it is hard to believe but Spring is just around the corner. As I am typing this on Monday night there are 35 days until Spring arrives. Spring really is here! As long as the ice goes away I'll be happy. Snow can stay but I really don't want to see any more ice. And I think my YF will agree with that.

    The Luzerne County edition of Spring Skywarn Training will be held on April 17th. Just about 2 months away. I am getting this out in front of folks and will keep it out in front them because I want a good turn out from our Luzerne County Ham Community. It is required for LCARES members to attend one every 2 years but I think that it would not hurt any of us to get to the training as a Refresher.

    Personally I would rather report some summer weather than more ice and snow. Sure would be nice.

    There are other courses being held through out District 3 so anyone not in Luzerne County reading this get to a Skywarn in your county. Skywarn is a "Meat & Potatoes" service that Amateur Radio operators can perform. We are very lucky in this area since we have a Weather Office that supports our efforts. The least we can do is support them.

    Here is the list of Skywarn Classes and the links to register for them. All classes are from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.

    April 17th
    Luzerne County EMA
    185 Water Street
    Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
    Luzerne County Registration
    Be sure to register because the presenter needs to know how much support materials to bring.

    And more classes for Lackawanna County, Wyoming County, and Susquehanna County will be coming.

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    - If you have not done it yet then what are you waiting for? Get to the EPA-ARRL web site and either submit your email address or like it on Facebook. It is the place to get the information and news about the EPA Section.

    Ham Radio Links
    N3LLR's Ham Radio Forum
    ARRL Eastern PA Section Web Site
    Luzerne County ARES®
    Harris County Texas ARES® - A great training resource
    Lake County (OH) RACES Personal Go-Kit for Emergency Operations - KE7LHR
    MecklenBurg County ARES® and RACES
    K0BG - The Website for Mobile Amateur Radio Operators (Perhaps the best web site on mobile operations I have found!)
    Origins of Ham Speak - Fact, Legends, and Myths??? - Compiled by AC6V from the Internet and other unreliable sources
    The Petite Prepper
    The VOA Radiogram
    Luzerne County ARES Facebook Page <-- New
    Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators.

    Send reception reports and comments to

    Have a good week everyone!


    ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL ARES® Emergency Coordinator
    Luzerne County ARES®
    ARES and "Amateur Radio Emergency Services" are registered service marks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Association of Amateur Radio. Use of these service marks is by permission only. Total prep time for this bulletin - 5 hours.
  2. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Awesome! Members need to get engaged and understand what their ARRL Director does and understands what the board does...

    Ouch! Had to see a Subie have that happen.

    John 3:16? One of my favorite verses. :)
  3. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    You noticed the 3:16! Finally someone did!

    That Subaru fire caught my eye. Don't like seeing my favorite car catch fire.
    wedgar likes this.
  4. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Sometimes its hard to get one past us old guys - surprised Tony didn't catch it, I think he's older than you or me.

    Your Subaru would be more comfortable than an old pair of shoes and a fire would be enough to make a grown fellow cry.

Share This Page