Friday, June 25, 2004

Don’t forget Field Day tomorrow at Skyview! 

Tomorrow is like Christmas for you radio buffs out there that would like to get your chance to operate an amateur radio station and get to learn a lot more about the hobby. The Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington will be operating tomorrow and on into Sunday at the club grounds. If I get to participate in field day operations this year that is where I will be. I have volunteered for a scientific program of depravation and pain tomorrow morning and may not be able to make it. What was I thinking when I scheduled that dentist appointment? Someone should drill a hole in my head. Wait I think that is what he is going to do tomorrow.

But don’t let that stop you! Head up to the clubhouse and join in on the fun. The basic premise of field day operating is serious business but trust me hams find a way to make a good time out of it!

And for those scanner listeners among you that have been cracking the book in preparation to get your ham ticket there will be a VE session in the morning. Again check the club web site for details. What more could you ask?

Oh, you want to know how to get there? Well simply wander over the club web page and check out the directions complete with map. [Skyview Radio Society] Also, Bob WC30 is planning a special dinner for Saturday and it sounds like it will be of the delectable variety.

So if you are in the Allegheny Valley area or even if you are not stop out, say hello, works a few contacts and join in on the fun. I hope to see you there.

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UHF repeater on Cathedral of Learning moving frequency 

The W3YJ repeater owned and operated by the University of Pittsburgh Amateur Radio Club and located on top of the Cathedral of Learning [Interesting pictures of the site] building has been experiencing interference from local cable television signals modulated in the UHF amateur band to provide customers with the CSPAN-II channel. The repeater operates on a frequency of 444.750 and while earnest efforts have been made by the cable company to resolve the problem the results have not been satisfactory. Technically the burden rests with the cable company and they could be forced to do whatever it takes to solve the problem. However the repeater’s trustee, Harry Bloomberg, has decided that the best way to eliminate the problem is to move the repeater frequency.

In the amateur radio community repeater frequency coordination is done by volunteer agreement between repeater operators who form a repeater council that oversees the process. W3YJ has applied for and received tentative approval to move to 443.450 mHz. The O’Hara Township Emergency Communications Team currently uses the repeater for drills and incidences occurring within the township and adjoining communities. You can listen in on their training net the first Sunday evening of each month at 21:00 hour’s local time. So if you scanner listeners rely on amateur radio as one of your information resources during times of emergency you will want to note this in your directories.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Great get together last night 

Hi gang. We had a GREAT get together last night as Kings. It is late and I didn't even bother to bring my normal computer up to the radio room this evening. So I'm writing this on my "Linux Laptop" because I just wanted to thank those who came to the meeting and those that could not come but offered encouragement in our efforts.

I had a great time but I'm going to bed. I will write something up tomorrow and post here as well as sending it to the mailing list. Don't forget Field Day coming this weekend to a ham station near you. I will be at the Skyview Radio Society if all goes well. I have an appointment in the dentists chair Saturday morning, who the heck schedules these things, oops it was me! Depending on how serious it gets and if I'm not on some kind of pain killers I will be there. More on that tomorrow. Good night Mrs. Calabash where ever you are. :-)

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Field Day Is Coming! Join in. 

The North Hills Amateur Radio Club will be participating in the annual amateur radio field day this Saturday and Sunday. If you are interesting in seeing an amateur radio stations working contacts around the city, around the country and around the world this is your chance. You are invited to see another aspect of the amateur radio hobby as ham around the world try to work as many contacts as possible while working independent of the commercial power lines with stations set up to simulate operating under emergency conditions. It is also an ARRL sponsored contest with honors going to the club, group and or station accumulating the most points under a predefined set of rules within a given number of hours.

As with hamfests Field Day has become a social event in addition to its primary function which is to test how prepared you are to offer communications service for the public good in times of need. A tradition has developed of having field day "cuisine" prepared on site. Typical picnic fair is most often found such as hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. You will a wide array ranging from "delectable" to "wonder what it was before they ate it?". :-) There is a camaraderie that develops between operators who work toward a common goal whether it is to "win" the contest or just too have a good time as part of the exercise. And part of the reason to be involved in ham radio is for the fun of it. Here are the specifics on the North Hills Club site for this year. Stop by and see what it is all about. If you would like more information see the North Hills Amateur Radio Club web site.

North Hills Amateur Radio Club Field Day will be held this upcoming Saturday,
June 26, 2004 and Sunday, June 27, 2004 at Northway Elementary School,
Ross Township, Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. The event will be in
the faculty parking lot on the north-easterly corner of the school property.

Northway Elementary School is located on the westerly side of Northway Mall,
accessed from Northway Mall Drive. The school Is located on easterly side of
Browns Lane. Browns Lane is on the west side of McKnight Road, at National
City Bank and DeMor Lincoln-Mercury and continues to Babcock Blvd.

See you there, 73 de Bill / N3BPB

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Pennsylvania man subject of FCC enforcement action 

From the ARRL web site.

Pennsylvania Licensee Agrees to Short-Term Renewal

NEWINGTON, CT, Jun 23, 2004--General class licensee Henry Schott Jr, KA3BMS, of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, has agreed to a short-term renewal of his license to settle what the FCC called "enforcement issues related to the operation of your station." Although Schott vigorously denied any wrongdoing, FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says Schott signed the deal--spelled out in a May 10 letter--in which the FCC will grant him a two-year license renewal instead of the normal ten-year term.

"At the end of the two-year period, you may routinely renew your license for a full term if there have been no valid complaints regarding the operation of your station," Hollingsworth told Schott. Last December, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau referred Schott's renewal application to the Enforcement Bureau for review based upon what Hollingsworth described in the May 10 letter as "enforcement issues relating to the operation of your station and questions regarding your qualifications to be a licensee."

Complaints filed with the FCC regarding operations attributed to Schott date back to 2000. In December of that year, the Commission sent him a Warning Notice after it received information alleging that Schott--after being asked to stay off two repeaters--had "keyed up the repeaters and interfered with existing communications, failed to identify and used obscenities." The following year, the FCC requested that Schott respond to a complaint from a Canadian amateur alleging inappropriate conduct by Schott on a packet chat room that he subsequently was asked to leave. A 2003 complaint alleged that Schott was interfering with communications in the 40-meter phone band.

In January, Hollingsworth wrote Schott to summarize the litany of complaints and asked him to respond to each. Schott said he was not on the air at the time of the 40-meter complaint and sent the FCC his handwritten log sheets for the period in question. He also said he had "no recollection" of the packet communications at issue from 2001, noting that his VHF packet station was out of service from April 2001 until August 2002. He said he disconnected it again in January after getting Hollingsworth's letter. He also expressed the belief that someone else may have been using his call sign.

"Amateur Radio has provided me with enjoyment over the years," Schott told the FCC. "I wish to retain my Amateur Radio license and will abide by all of the laws, rules and regulations! The accusations filed against me are wrong."

After Schott signed the voluntary short-term agreement, the FCC renewed his license May 20.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Communities in limbo on 911 merger 

Here is an interesting story from the June 20th edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Last fall, Franklin Park and a number of other north suburban communities appeared to
be on a fast track to become part of Allegheny County's emergency dispatch service.
That's when a half dozen municipalities gave a one-year notice that they planned to leave
Northwest Regional Communications and join the county's 911 system. Such a move
would save Franklin Park at least $70,000 a year, borough Manager Ambrose Rocca
predicted at the time.
That was because suburban residents already support the county system through a
telephone fee of 74 cents per month. Only a portion of that surcharge -- $3 per person per
year -- comes back to the suburbs to support regional centers such as Northwest.
The switch also would represent a step toward eliminating fragmented emergency
services, a long-term regional goal. Although Allegheny County operates a central
dispatch center funded by the monthly tax on telephones, many emergency calls still are
being handled through five regional centers or by municipal dispatchers.
Most other Pennsylvania counties handle 911 calls through a single center.
The plan to open the county dispatch system to additional municipalities was sidetracked,
however, by the election of a new Allegheny County chief executive in November.

For this complete story follow this LINK

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Interesting post from a mailling list about "Mini cells" 

This was posted by a reporter who has been following the MA/COM story to several mailling lists that I subscribe to. I think is speaks volumes about MA/COM's attitude about the value of commuincations to emergency service personal.

Posting from SCAN-PA

I was reviewing some of the documents MA/COM submitted to the Pa and came
across the following :A description of MA/COM's "mini cells" that are supposed
to provide communications in the radio 'dead spots".
The MA/COM document says the major disadvantage of the system is "the time
required to establish the connection" It takes 15 seconds for the mini cell
to dial up a connection to the main system. Any police officer will tell you
that 15 seconds is an eternity during an emergency. As I understand it most
of the mini cells are tied to the system with phone lines and and not linked
via microwave..


[SCAN-PA]- A onelist.com community

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Fathers Day and the pickle jar 

A good friend and amateur radio operator sent me this. It did indeed bring a tear to my
eye as it reminded me of my Dad who went home to be with the Lord a number of years
ago now. I think of him often but Fathers Day brings me special pause. Among his
many other talents my Dad was adept enough at auto mechanics that he could have made
a good living at it had he so chosen. He enjoyed "tinkering" with cars and during the last
years of his life he and I had a tradition of going to an antique car show at a park here in
Oakmont held each year on Fathers Day. I would take my boys along and Dad would
point out the cars that he had owned or worked on over the years. He would also tell us
about some of the quirks and engineering that went into some of the cars form the 1920s,
30s, 40s and 50s.

My brother is almost as good as my Dad was with cars, motorcycles and things
mechanical and my oldest son Ken Jr. is a real wrench bender with his current passion
being anything with the Jeep nameplate on it. Take a look at the web site he built and
maintains and you will understand. HRJA Web Site For some reason I never picked
up the talent for I am neither mechanically inclined nor have the passion for it that my
Dad and most of his brothers and two of my sons do.

When he returned home from the Second World War my Dad earned extra money fixing
radios and the new fangled television boxes that everyone was buying but had no clue
what to do with when they stopped working. He never got rich at it as he maintained
every electrical appliance, radio and TV that anyone in the family owned or belonged to
close by neighbors. I did find myself fascinated with radios and learned at a young age
that there were some large voltages moving around in the old tube radio chassis and that
capacitors held a charge long after the radio had been switch off and the plug removed
from the wall. Dad made sure when he had the back off of a television set that I knew to
keep my fingers away from that heavy wire that went from little metal box in the corner
to the picture tube. He watched over me as he let me pull an arc from that wire with a
number two lead pencil and showed me how to use a voltmeter.

For some reason Dad never had any desire to get an amateur radio license and even less
interested in talking to others over the radio. We worked side by side however when I
expressed the desire teaching me how to use a soldering iron and building Heath Kits.
Although he didn't talk much about it I think like the man in the story of the pickle jar he
was rather pleased of the fact that I did not follow him into the steel mill but rather
worked in electronics and computers. I would have been more than glad to follow him
into the carpenter shop of the Wooding Verona Tool Works where he was a level and
gauge maker until he retired.

Like my Dad Woodings Tool Works is gone now but he used to take me to work with
him at times during the summer months, something that I dare say could not happen in
today's litigious environment. I remember the lessons learned there about doing a job
right, taking pride in your work and how much fun it can be to be a boy of eight or nine
and getting to drive the overhead crane!

If you Dad is still around make sure you spend some time with him tomorrow if you can.
If he is too far away to spend the day with make sure you talk with him and let him know
how much you love him and how much he has meant to your life. Sorry, I really didn't
mean to ramble on like this I just wanted to pass along the story about the pickle jar.
Enjoy it. ----Ken


The pickle jar, as far back as I can remember, sat on the floor beside
the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would
empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as
they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the
jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as
the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and
admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's
treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.

When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the
coins before taking them to the bank. Taking the coins to the bank was
always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the
coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck. Each
and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me
hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill,
son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going
to hold you back."

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the
counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These
are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life
like me. "

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream
cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at
the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few
coins nestled in his palm.

"When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again." He always let me
drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a
brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on
pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But you'll get there.
I'll see to that."

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another
town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their
bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its
purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at
the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood.

My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of
determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all
these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could
have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the
lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined,
more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how
rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into
the jar.

Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to
serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from
the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring
catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more
determined than ever to make a way out for me.

"When you finish college, Son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "you'll
never have to eat beans again...unless you want to."

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the
holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each
other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica
began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. "She
probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my
parents' bedroom to diaper her.

When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in
her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and
leading me into the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me
to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if
it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already
covered with coins.

I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out
a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the
coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had
slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was
feeling the same emotions I felt.

Neither one of us could speak. This truly touched my heart... I know it
has yours, as well.

Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count
our blessings. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one
small gesture you can change a person's life, for better or for worse.
God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in some way.

Look for God in others.

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched - they must
be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller

Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments,
worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

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