FIELD DAY, 1977; JUNE 25-26 WAS A BLAST!
This issue of the Newsletter is short and sweet (and late!) because your editor was one of the paddlers at the CW station during the Club's Field Day outing at Table Mountain. We expect to have full coverage of the event, with pictures, in the next issue; suffice it for this issue that we had over 1000 contacts from our 3-station entry classification, running everything on batteries! We hope this will be a winning score in our class. We learned a lot about trusting unproven equipment in field environments. But the highlight was the club-provided steak dinners and breakfasts, which everyone enjoyed. In fact, some 34 people turned out for the event, greater than any former field day despite the 1-1/2 hour drive required to get there! More next month.
JPL PARTICIPATION IN THE BAJA 500 By Booth Hartley, N6BH
Several JPL hams participated in the recent Baja 500 off-road race sponsored by SCORE (Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts) The race course formed one loop starting and ending in Ensenada and going through Ojos Negros, San Felipe, Mike's Sky Ranch, and Trinidad.
Race communication is handled by BARRA (Baja Amateur Radio Racing Association) SCORE obtains a permit for radio operation from the Mexican Federal Government allowing all stations to operate using the call XE2BCM. Traffic consists of checkpoint crossing times, emergency requests for evacuation or assistance, control of the aircraft, "Stuck Stubs" which a disabled driver hands to another passing driver for delivery to the next checkpoint, requests for the last known position of a race vehicle, and routine messages from participants and supporting groups.
Checkpoint 2, the most remote and forbidding checkpoint, was ably manned by Steve Bednarczyk, WB6MJK, Dick Wetzel, WA6JBZ, and Jim Longthorne, WA6KPW (our 220 "regulars." The trio enjoys excursions far from civilization and spectators, and checkpoint 2 provided just those qualities. As testimony to its hostile environment, the tragedy to be described later involving three motorcyclists, occurred in the checkpoint 2 area.
Also participating was Booth Hartley, N6BH, who flew his Bonanza as "Air 1" the official SCORE aircraft. Except for gas stops and landings for medical evacuations, the aircraft was constantly in flight looking for accidents, injuries, lost drivers, and rule violations. Copilot was Doug Freeman, W6NHX, of TRW, who is net coordinator for BARRA. The aircraft was loaded up with an FT101 for 75 meters, Clegg 2-meter rig, a Clegg PM-76 for 220 MHz, and Citizens Band rig for communication with paramedics and pit vehicles at the scene of an incident.
BARRA planned to use a special 2 meter repeater, temporarily installed near the observatory in the 10,000 ft. San Pedro Martir mountains. It was anticipated this would handle most of the race traffic. When the prime repeater and its backup both failed, the net fell back to 75 meters for all traffic. The 220 MHz was exclusively between the aircraft and checkpoint 2 - sort of a private line where we JPLers could converse "away from watching eyes." This arrangement worked out very nicely, During most races, the remote checkpoints receive very little information on starting lineup, driver names, etc. In this race, N6BH air-dropped programs to checkpoint 2 (accuracy: a couple of feet!)
Also on 220 was Paul Parker, WB6GTY. Paul, a race vehicle owner, was at Nuevo Junction in the central valley, providing another "JPL private line" with the aircraft. Paul is with TERRA, a racing organization that provides pit services to 10 or so different entries.
Another special radio link using Aircraft Radio frequencies operated between the aircraft and the repeater crew near the observatory. As can be imagined, radio operations can become quite hectic with so many frequencies running at the same time!
The JPL participation was very successful. The highlight of JPL involvement was a helicopter evacuation of a severely injured driver from checkpoint 2, with all coordination being done by the JPL radio crew. Another evacuation of a motorcycle rider with a punctured lung was done by N6BH.
... To Merrill Burnett, K6BER, who, in a weak moment agreed to become the QSL manager for W6VIO.
BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
In your editor's absence, a rare concession was obtained from the club's Secretary, Jack Patzold, who agreed to supply his notes of what went on at the June 22 Board meeting. Since they aren't yet approved, they aren't official, either, but are closer to being genuine than mine:
- J. Patzold* R. Ploszaj*
- R. Piety* J. Holladay*
- R. West G. Crawford
- N. Williams G. Berry*
- S. Sander N. Chalfin
- R. Ward W. Diem
- G. Yanow [*=Voting member.]
Stan Sander - Informal discussion on field day.
Patzold Read May Board meeting minutes; approved as read.
Holladay Announced approximately 300 "N" Prefix 2-letter calls available.
Ploszaj Motion to accept Jim Longthorne, WA6KFW as an associate member (4 yea, 1 abst.)
Berry - Discussion of expenditure of available monies. Would like to see a list of work items to identify those that could be accomplished using various funds.
Chalfin - Discussion of publicity picture costs. Motion presented by Holladay to make available $60/year to Chalfin to cover expenditures from 1 Jan 77 thru 31 Dec 77. (4 yea, 1 abst.)
Yanow - Comments on the Solar Energy Fair to be held Nov. 2-6, 1977. [Tnx WB6TXG.]
W6ZGC BLOWS UP
Tragedy struck again at the home of Helmut Mecke, W6ZGC, of Barstow. He had recently bought a trailer with the intent of making some extended cross country trips, and he had outfitted it with an extensive ham radio installation. Just as he was nearly ready to leave, the trailer exploded, injuring his XYL while Mickey himself was out on an errand. The trailer is a total loss, as is his ham gear. The problem seemed to stem from accumulated gas from a leaking refrigerator that seeped through the hollow walls of the trailer and finally was somehow ignited. Mrs. Mecke's injuries were fortunately limited to moderate burns. We all wish her a speedy recovery and hope Mickey will not be discouraged from rebuilding in true pioneer spirit and preparing again for the trip (hopefully with a sealed refrigerator!) Good luck' [Tnx W6EJJ, W6PVR]
WARNING: SWITCH TO LOW POWER ON LAB
The Lab's Safety Manager has requested that everyone operating mobile radio transmitters on lab keep their power levels to 2 watts or less. This satisfies the intent, if not the letter, of SPI 12-4-2 (dated Oct. 21, 1968) which limits mobile transmitter power to 1 watt or less. The SPI was originally concerned about RF triggering of pyrotechnic squibs ("electroexplosive devices") which are stored in various locations on-lab; but squib technology has come a long way in the past 9 years, and they are less sensitive now to false triggering. Hence the unofficial relaxation to 2 watts. However, certain sensitive locations may still be posted "No Radio Transmitting" and no transmissions at all should be attempted within 30 feet of such locations. If you need clarification on this, see the Lab Safety Manager, Glenn Berry, K6GHJ at ext. 4710. [Tnx W6EJJ, K6GHJ]
DE WR6APQ PASADENA ... By Booth Hartley, N6BH
Desense Problem. Presently there is a slight amount of RF from the repeater transmitter being reflected by the antennas and duplexer back into the repeater receiver. More work is planned on-the antennas and duplexer, but in the meantime the reflected RF causes the repeater receiver to lose sensitivity slightly. The effect on weak signals is as follows: when a weak signal starts transmitting, the repeater receiver hears it and switches on the repeater transmitter. As the transmitter comes on, the receiver sensitivity drops, and it can no longer hear the signal. The squelch is closed, blocking any audio from going into the transmitter and the transmitter, after a several second delay, is commanded off, Once the transmitter is off, the receiver can once again hear the signal, and the whole cycle starts over again. The simple cycling becomes more irregular if the weak signal is also varying: snatches of audio may be heard, and the cycling may become irregular. The moral in all of this is to not worry if someone reports that you have no modulation when you're in a weak signal area.
A more common desense problem may occur frequently with us all working in the same place. When driving near the Lab, it is very likely that two mobiles talking through the repeater are very close to one another. Depending on power levels and rig alignment, the receiving mobile may have its receiver overloaded by the nearby transmitting mobile. The effect is usually heard as distortion of the repeater signal, an increase in background noise or loss of the signal entirely.
DISASTER INSTITUTE PLANNED
The Red Cross will be holding their 1977 Disaster Institute at Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif., August 1-12. The purpose is to provide training to know what to do, when to act, and how to help the disaster victim. Included will be sessions on Radio Communications. The cost is a nominal $2 per day, up to a maximum of $5 per week, or $10 per 2 weeks. Lodging is available. For more info, contact Nash Williams, W6HCD, X 2047.
Tri-Band beam: Moseley TA-33 plus Alliance rotator and 12-foot tower. All for $100. Claude Steen, W6VPS, 1522 Whitefield Rd., Pasadena, Ca. 7981359.
2-meter Handy Talky. Motorola HT200 with NiCad, flex antenna, case and ext. speaker/mike. Two channels: WR6ACD and WR6ADH. $195. Ralph West, WB6YMF X 6185.
Salespersons for HOT DOGS at ERC picnic, Soledad Sands, July 9th. Call Ralph West, WB6YMF, X 6185.
Go back to the W6VIO Calling Index.