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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's resolution

So I was able to fulfill 4 out of my 7 aims for Amateur Radio during 2013:

- I passed the Extra exam
- built a portable NVIS antenna
- expanded my portable solar and hand crank power solution
- installed and successfully used my mobile HF/ VHF/ UHF solution

But was unable to:
- go hiking/ operate portable at least 1x/ month (a devastating apartment building fire necessitating an emergncy move, passing a board exam, on call duties, did not make it easy..., valid excuses? I fear it will have to suffice)
- get proficient at CW @ 20 wpm (learning for my board exam and setting up a new program at my institution occupied my learning resources)
- organize jamboree on the air for the local boy scouts (regrettably the Little Rock Boy Scouts jamboree fell right into the time of my board exam... But interest was stirred by the Boy Scouts sufficiently, that they contacted a local club for other HAMs to aid them, so in essence, mission accomplished!)

So what's in store for 2014?

- CW @ 20 wpm
- operate /p at least once a month
- build a CERT group arranged around our local fire station (see my 2013 SET report)
- continue building RaDAR and AHDNN

I will thus stay busy. ...and you?

Happy New Year!

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Sunday, December 15, 2013

All emergencies in Arkansas are local? Not!

History has taught us time and time again that the unexpected happens. But, it has also taught us that not everything is unexpected. Often it is ignorance which leads to false assumptions prior to an incident, resulting in inadequate preparedness. Other times it's...

If you look at weather related incidents, for example on these websites:
you will immediately notice that many incidents and emergencies every year are of grand proportions, certainly not local - that's for sure!

So you think we here in Arkansas may have a few tornadoes or some thunderstorms wreaking havoc - locally. Correct! But, there's more. See the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management website:

The NEXT BIG ONE is a matter of WHEN, NOT IF.

So you as an Amateur Radio operator want to rely on VHF voice comms and repeaters? As the history pages cited above show us clearly: to fail to learn from history, is to learn to fail during the next big one.

Chances are nearly 50% in the next 50 years. If the lottery had odds that high, we'd all play!

So what can YOU do while having fun with our hobby? Get your General class licence, it's easy! ...and then get yourself an HF transceiver, load the free NBEMS software suite with FLDIGI and get on the air. Grow as an individual and as a communicator. Do VHF Digital on simplex and voice and digital on HF.

Join the Razorback Net for HF voice and check into the Arkansas NBEMS Net for HF digital. Join a local ARES group. If they are non existent in your area or do not follow the ARES EC Manual in their words and actions, e.g. they offer no training in the various communications methods, then join SATERN, join the Red Cross, join MARS or found a CERT group - your local fire fighters will love you for it. Learn to be a Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) operator. This hobby of ours is great and your kids will love it too.

Any questions? Just ask. I have great Elmer's and would be more than happy to help you too. 


by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA (1928)

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATE..... never knowingly operating in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL..... offering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE..... with knowledge abreast of science, a well built and efficient station, and operation beyond reproach.

FRIENDLY..... with slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED..... Radio is an advocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC..... with station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little Rock Fire Station 16 CERT initiative

Are you interested in supporting your family, neighbors, local community and fire fighters? Do you live close to Little Rock Fire Station 16 located at:

11000 Southridge
Little Rock, AR 72212

Are you an Amateur Radio or Citizen band operator or do you know one who is your neighbor? Do you want to offer other skills and enthusiasm or are interested to learn about how to help yourself and your family? Do you know how you would contact your fire station if the phone nets were down for any reason? Reply to my post, let's talk about it and join in!

Friday, December 13, 2013

"tactical" communications - a misnomer - and inaccurate

Some Amateur Radio operators just love to use the term "tactical communications". What is that supposed to imply? Let's look at the definition in Marriam Webster's Dictionary:

or better yet:

Do we as Amateur Radio operators really want to go that way? Would "local voice communications" not be more accurate in what "tactical communications" is supposed to convey? Would this not show how professional we can be even though we are "amateurs"? Do we really need military terminology? Do we really want to be perceived in such a way?

I say no.

What's even worse, the implied sole description of "local voice communications" is only a (small) part of what "tactical communications" are.