Friday, May 14, 2004

Additional 2-meter repeater info 

Here is some additional information on the local repeater that took the lightning strike.

Hello all,

I got a communication from one of the Fort Armstrong Wireless Assoc members
regarding the 145.410 Armstrong Co. ARES/SKYWARN repeater.

All ARES/SKYARN operations will be conducted on the 146.970 repeater
(146.370 input / 131.8 PL) until further notice. There is no estimated up
time for the 145.41 repeater.

The repeater control board, weather station and antenna (and I would assume
the feedline) were all damaged by a direct lightening strick on 5/11/04.

I'll update the PA-SitRep Discussion list here as well as the PA-SitRep WPA
2 Meter Amateur Radio Emergency Communications page
(http://www.pa-sitrep.com/wpa2meter.htm) as soon as we get any additional

-David Kleber, KB3FXI
PA-SitRep Owner/Founder

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Lightning strikes! 

I received the following from KB3FXI and thought it would be of interest to both ham and scanner community. As many of you in the scanner listener arena have found when natural disasters strike amateur radio is often your best source of information. You might also want to take a look at Dave's excellent web site PA-SitRep.

Hello all,

The Armstrong County ARES/SKYWARN repeater, 145.410, is currently off the
air with no expected up time due to a direct lightning strike Tuesday

I'll post any updates, including alternative repeaters for Armstrong Co.
ARES/SKYWARN operations and expected up times, as information becomes

-David Kleber, KB3FXI
PA-SitRep Owner/Founder

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Moving to open source 

Well Here We Are With Open Source

I am writing this on a system with no Microsoft software on it at all. When I'm done with it I will post it to my 'blog' and then send it to my list via email. All running on a standard Intel box that you would normally expect to find using Windows 2000 or Windows XP. All of this software is free for the downloading.

I'm not going to tell you that there is no learning curve involved in getting all of this set up and going. There is. But that is what user groups and Elmers are all about. I still have a ways to go before I will be able to break the Microsoft ties entirely but I will be able to do it at home. Work is another matter. There I still have to deal with worrying about getting the latest worm or virus on my system and we do have some proprietary programs that are written only for Windows.

In the ham shack I have a number of software packages that currently are not available as open source but I am watching the web carefully for replacements to pop up. Hope springs eternal. If you see radio related software, especially for scanner listeners make sure to let us know on the Sunday night net. I'm off to bed as tomorrow is an early day.

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Do you have a place in cyberspace? 

Do You have a Ham Radio Place In Cyberspace?

Over the last decade or so there has been an every increasing blend of not only computers and radio but the two hobbies of computers and ham radio. Part of what has caused this is the explosion of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

If you don’t own a computer, and yes Virginia there are still a few out there that don’t, then you are probably not concerned with the Internet or the web. If you own a computer but don’t have access to the Internet you also fit into a very small percentage of the population these days. If you fall into either of these categories you are missing a great deal of what transpires in the amateur radio community. I do not want to enter into the debate of whether the Internet is killing ham radio or hams should be talking to each other over the airwaves not exchanging email.

The fact is that hams have always been at the forefront of technology and willing to learn new things. There is no way you can do that without being involved with computers and the net. So if we do get around to that debate I would rather talk about why you should be using computer, the Internet, the World Wide Web and email rather than why you currently do not. Besides, it really is a lot of fun! Try it and you will find out.

One of the ways that you can become involved and learn in the process is to set up your own web page. If you are a ham you have an edge because Al Waller, K3TKJ, wanted to learn about Linux and so set up a web server solely for amateur radio. If you are a licensed amateur radio operator Al will provide you with space to build your very own web page and will do it for FREE! Remember my previous posting about hams being a cheap bunch? This is something that every ham should take advantage of and a large number of them have as existence of the site has spread by way of word of mouth.

If you would like to learn more about “QSL.net” check out there web site. http://www.qsl.net There you will be able to learn how to create your very own home page and trust me it is not that hard. You can see my first feeble attempts at HTML by visiting my page on QSL. http://www.qsl.net/wa3fkg I am currently working on learning more about HTML and revamping my page. I will let you know when to check out new additions.

So you say you don’t have Internet access at home and you can’t use computers at work for personal use? Not a problem. Just shuffle on down to your local library where you will find computers connected to the Internet courtesy of its inventor Al Gore. You pay an extra tax on your phone bill to support them you might as well take advantage of it.

Say you don’t have an email address? This is not a problem either. When you get to the library before you start working on your web site go to http://www.hotmail.com or any number of other sites that offer free email accounts. Establish an email account for your self and you have taken the first step. I suggest you pick yourcallsign@hotmail.com or which ever service you choose. Don’t have a phone you say. All right, you got me. If you don’t have a telephone you are a lost cause and I give up. If you have gotten this far you must be interested. So when you set up your web page drop me a note and let me know so I can check out all of your neat content especially the scanner stuff.

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Notes from the Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net of May 9th 

Notes from the May 9th Scanner Net

Well we had another good net Sunday night. I certainly enjoyed it. Here is a brief synopsis of what went on.

Chris tells us that the code word for John Kerry when he is in town is “Minuet Man”. Evidently the Secret Service still has some of their communications in the clear although they are using APCO 25 radios so unless you have a PRO-96 or one of the Uniden digital models you won’t be listening in. Nifty tidbit of information nonetheless.

Craig was over in Ohio not long ago and stopped in to see the folks at Universal Radio. He said they are nice people and if you are up that way it is worth the time to stop in and take a look at what they have. You can see their web page at http://www.universal-radio.com/.

We had a discussion on “the perfect scanner” that I have written about. Seems that I’m not the only one that has given this some thought. Here are some ideas that I had not put on my original list that deserve a lot of merit.

· No menus! Dedicated functions keys on the radio
· Built in frequency counter
· Base band audio or discriminator tap output
· Auto detection of type of trunking system

We are still looking for ideas. Let us know on next weeks net what you would add to this list.

Don’t forget upcoming events.

Wednesday May 19th meeting at Kings. Listen in on the net for more details
Saturday May 29th Meeting of the South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group Meeting
Sunday June 6th 50th Annual Breeze Shooters Hamfest & Computer Show

Well that is all for this week. We had 21 check in’s to the net this week counting the net control station. Interest in the scanner net continues to be strong and I want to let all you know that I really appreciate your participation each week.

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Carl and Jerry “Together again like Fred and Ginger and Lester and Earl” 

Carl and Jerry “Together again like Fred and Ginger and Lester and Earl”

Those of you that are movie buffs will recognize this as a line from the 1977 hit “Smokey And The Bandit”. What you might ask does this have to do with scanning or ham radio? Well indulge me for a bit and I will try to connect the dots for you.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was in grade school there was a magazine published called “Popular Electronics”. Among the regular features of this publication were stories by a ham radio operator named John T. Frye whose call sign was W9EGV. Each story involved a pair of young lads named Jerry Bishop and Carl Anderson. These stories began in 1954 when I was not yet in grade school and continued through 1964 when I was in Jr. High School.

I started scrounging back issues of PE about the time I was ten and was immediately captivated with the “Carl & Jerry” stories. In the first issue only Carl held an amateur radio license but it wasn’t long until both of our heroes held ham tickets. Each month they would find themselves involved with some problem they had been asked to solve or some fix they had gotten themselves into that was resolved with their knowledge of electronics and or the use of ham radio.

This wasn’t the only thing that drew me to amateur radio but I have to admit that it sure did help. And every story taught some lesson about electronics and made it fun to learn. I don’t know if there is anything equivalent to theses stories today in any of the aspects of education public or private but it would be great if there were. Kids are like sponges and soak up information as fast as they can find it if you present it in the right way.

Alas at some point in time I decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort to pack up my magazine collection and move it one more time so I let all of those old issues of Popular Electronics and Electronics Illustrated find new homes. Over the years I have thought fondly of the Carl and Jerry stories so imagine my surprise when I found out that a number of them were available on a web site. Bless the little old World Wide Web and the Internet. Unfortunately they are not all available but enough of them have been preserved to give you a flavor of the times and the writing. Take a look and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Here is a link to the site. http://home.gwi.net/~jdebell/pe/cj/cnjindex.htm

I latter met Henry Hill, WA3CVC, who became my "Carl" and while I became his "Jerry". The two of us never got quite into the types of adventures that some of Frye's stories portrayed but we did become life long friends as a result of amateur radio.

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