ARES Net Reminder and May 2016 Updates

Clay County ARES Emergency Net, 9:00 PM Tuesday night, May 24, 2016, on the K5PRE 146.955 repeater (“minus offset,” 100 Hz PL tone).

K4AEC or KK4EKN will be your NCS.

Informal lunch 12:00 Noon, Wednesday, May 25th, to be discussed and decided upon on the Net tonight with Pappy’s K5PRE’s lead.
UPCOMING EVENTS 

The Warrior’s Veterans Outreach of Cherokee County, a recently formed support group for US Military Veterans, is holding a 22 mile walk/march from Andrews to Murphy and beyond to Ranger on Saturday, May 28th, 2016. This group has requested that we provide communications assistance for the march. There are a minimum of 10 spots to fill, and really we need 12 to 14. The walk begins at 0800 EDT at the Rest Area on US 19/74 near Andrews and it ends at the RV Park in Ranger. The walk is expected to take up to 10 hours to complete. Those who volunteer for communications will either be assigned to one of the chase vehicles or a stationary post. Volunteer communicators will not be required to walk the 22 miles or any portion of it. However, you will be outside and you would need to bring food and beverages for yourself. If enough people volunteer, we will be able to provide relief operators for personals and meals.  Those who do volunteer can expect to meet at 0700 EDT at the start point for briefing and assignments.  Full information about the event, the group we are assisting, and the route will be sent to all who volunteer in a single e-mail once we have a valid list of volunteers.

If you wish to volunteer for this event, please contact me as soon as possible. You can reply to KEVIN HEYBOER at k.heyboer@verizon.net or contact me at 828-557-3363.

955 Repeater “Tower Climb/Antenna & Feed Line Replacement”

Due to changes in Matt’s (our volunteer tower climber) work schedule, the “955 Tower Climb” is now tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 3rd, 2016, probably beginning mid-morning.  More details as Matt’s plans firm-up.  He says he plans to schedule a day off from work, so he won’t get called in like he did for this coming weekend.

87th Annual Atlanta Hamfest

When: Saturday, June 4, 2016.

Where: Jim Miller Park located in Marietta, GA. For more info:  http://atlantahamfest.org/
Admission: Adults $6 at the gate. Kids 17/Under & Scouts in uniform are free.
Talk-in: 146.820(-) PL 146.2Hz, available Friday and Saturday.
Map:  http://atlantahamfest.org/location/
ATM located in the “A” Building

Recycle your old electronics!

Looking for a place to deposit your old or unused electronics?? This year we will be providing a depository bin at the hamfest for you to drop off old and unwanted items that you would like to get rid of but haven’t had the ability to trash.
Waynesville (WCARS) Hamfest, Lake Junaluska, NC (near Waynesville)

Last Saturday in July.  See http://www.wcars.org/hamfest.html

Social Media Integration & Site Changes

I have added social media integration features. That means if you have a Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media accounts you can now share, like, and comment on content from our website.

Those of you who have used the sidebar login on the right will notice that it is gone. A recent update to WordPress caused the plug-in to stop working correctly. The good news is that I have added the Login to the menu under the Home button, this should redirect you to the regular login page. Just login with your user name and password. I will work on adding a register page soon, look for that under the Home button.

I have also posted some new content. I have included all the local NOAA All-Hazards Weather radio stations in our area. If you have some additional stations, or have some ideas on things to add, just let me know. You can view this page by clicking here, or look under Local Repeaters on the menu.

KG4GPJ/R: Coverage Map vs. Real World

I’m always skeptical when it comes to simulations. Earlier this week I posted coverage maps of our repeaters to get an idea of where exactly one can be and be able to reach the repeater. However, what good is a coverage map if it isn’t accurate?

Today I had to make a run up to Robbinsville. On the way over I decided to ping the repeater going through Andrews, NC. My mobile rig consists of a Yeasu FT-2900D, 75-watt 2 meter radio and a 5/8 wave antenna, with some terrible coax that I need to replace. So I’m positive my setup is less than optimal.

Likewise very good coverage between my QTH and Murphy along the main highways of US 64 and US74. However, I was curious of the results once I reached Andrews. I was lucky that Charlie, KK4JTF was on the air and was able to hang out and have a QSO while I was driving down the road. Signal reports were pretty much on par with what I was expecting, scratchy but full copy. This was the case until I got past Andrews, about a couple miles past Hardee’s going along 74. My destination was just a few miles outside of the city limits of Robbinsville right off US 129 and gave one last call on the repeater. I was able to open the squelch but was not readable and vice versa. I heard only a portion of Charlie’s transmission and was below the squelch threshold.

So looking at the coverage map and my route, I think we can agree that the coverage map is remarkably accurate. Each pixel on the map is equal to 100 meters x 100 meters, so this doesn’t take into account of mobile flutter. At the VHF frequencies, moving a few feet in any direction can make the difference between an S5 signal to nothing given the terrain and distance. Folks up in Andrews may or may not get into the repeater down here, propagation favors those on the northern parts of Andrews and at the peaks of the mountains. Realistically however, once you get past Andrews it’s time to switch to the KI4AIH repeater.

Overall the coverage map is a reliable way of determining where you can reach the repeater with a decent mobile setup. I will also be looking into producing coverage maps and site to site maps that would determine coverage from handheld and low powered stations from strategic locations. It’s a good thing to know as hand held radios often have a -5 db gain on the “rubber duck” antennas and have a reduced range and yet are very important part of a ham’s arsenal. More on that coming soon.

 

KG4GPJ/R Repeater Coverage

One of the biggest problems here in the mountains is VHF coverage. In some places 100 watts can’t get you anywhere. Radio Mobile online provides online tools to estimate and produce coverage maps, and from my experience are surprisingly accurate when used appropriately.

The maps below indicate the estimated coverage area. Yellow is a weaker signal, where you can typically expect noise and trouble establishing two way communication, specifically 1 µV (-107 dBm). Green are stronger signals are are areas where you should easily be able to talk on the repeater as well as access it via a handheld, specifically 71 µV (-70 dBm). The reason why there is such a gap between weak and strong is due to the vast differences in receiver sensitivity, noise, antenna setups. So if you are “in the green,” and have trouble getting into the repeater, it may not be because the map isn’t entirely accurate; the purpose isn’t to pinpoint mobile fluttering, but to be as a guide to where you should be able to establish communications.

Regional Coverage

KG4GPJ-R_Regional

 

Clay County

KG4GPJ-R_Clay

 

Cherokee County

KG4GPJ-R_Cherokee