Saturday, July 23, 2005

July meeting of TRAMA 

We held our monthly meeting today of the Three Rivers Area Monitoring Association. The TRAMA group meets the fourth Saturday of each month to discuss our common interest of monitoring the spectrum from DC to daylight.

Bill, WB3BUW, and Duncan, KF6YYT, and myself got together before the meeting at Kings in Waterworks for breakfast and some good radio oriented conversation. I got some surprising insights from Bill on the current status of land mobile radios. Sounds like companies like Standard/Vertex, Kenwood and Icom are making inroads on front runner Motorola. I can tell you from first hand experience and Bill confirms that quality from the Big M is not what it once used to be. This is sad when you consider who the vast majority of uses of this equipment are. I suppose in the end market forces will adjust actions of the suppliers at least one would hope.

We had Frank Stroneck(ham in training), Rich (K3RWN), Bill (WB3BUW), Duncan (KF6YYT), John Eld (Broadcast Engineer Retired) and myself Ken, (WA3FKG) in attendance at the meeting this morning.

The absolute high light of the meeting was Rich's Uniden BC-396T scanner. Rich was kind enough to bring the new scanner for us to drool over and fondle. He also brought his laptop computer with the software that Uniden supplies free of charge to owners of the BC-396T. The program has some glitches in it and needs some work but it is a great way to program the scanner at this time.

Rich gave us a complete demo of the radio and all of it's functions. Let me tell you that those functions are large in number. As he showed us each of the functions that the radio had I kept saying to myself that Uniden had spy's in my house reading my mind when I would day dream about the ideal scanner.

This is a spectacular radio and Uniden has really outdone themselves with all that they have included in this model. I was going to try to summarize all of them here but it would just take to long. There have been a number of reviews written up in Monitoring Times and other magazines since the radios introduction so I suggest that you get hold of a copy and check them out if you are interested. Just let me say that we all came away very impressed with everything related to this scanner. I had already made my mind up that I didn't REALLY need one that bad even though it is now one of the few radios on the market to monitor Westmoreland County's new digital system. Lets just say that after having one in my hands I'm not so sure anymore.

We also had a brief discussion on the fact that BPL has come to our area. See my previous blog entry for more complete details. As a group we are going to wait and see how things develop before we make any concerted effort to join in the fight if one is required to make BPL either be compliant with the rules or shut down.

We also talked about the fact that by having the meetings on the fourth Saturday of each month that we run into a lot of “Monday” holidays on the calendar. I asked about moving the meeting to another weekend but the consensus was that we will leave it on the fourth Saturday for now and adjust as the occasion requires.

Also I had planed to have a “panel discussion” at one of the upcoming meetings chaired by John Eld and including in a few other hams I know that have long histories in the broadcast industry particularly in radio and let them give us a flavor of how the broadcast service has changed over the years. I personally think will be a very interesting presentation and am looking forward to it. We have decided to put this off until we get summer and vacations out of the way and attendance is once again higher. Stay tuned.

Rich offered and I agree that we should be doing more “field trips” as a group. There are a number of interesting places for monitoring enthusiasts to gather and we are looking into them now. If you have any ideas please drop me a line or check in on the Sunday night net on 147.090 and let us know.

That is about it. With bright sunshine, high temperatures and low humidity everyone had better places to be today than indoors at a meeting. I think this was the earliest we have concluded since we started holding monthly meetings. Thanks to all of you who took the time to come out and join us today. And a special thanks to K3RWN for the great demo of the BC-396T. Hope to hear all of you on the net Sunday evening and see you at the meeting in August.

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