November 18, 2013
A few words from the Prez
"Something is up with the sun"
That headline isn't original. It first appeared in a Wall Street Journal article released on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 – the very day of TALARC's Special Event operations. The article went on to note, "Scientists say that solar activity is stranger than in a century or more ..." Members of the TALARC board of directors who sat the communications positions for the Special Event would agree.
By email and the TALARC forum, we heard from the membership. Some were disappointed that W9L could not be heard during the Nov, 11 Special Event operation to salute America's veterans. A couple of our members were a bit more critical. We at Headquarters fully shared their feelings on that day, the disappointment and the frustration.
On Wednesday of this week, TALARC Membership Chairman Joe, KJ9M, issued a very brief summary of what we knew at the time. It is posted in the TALARC forum [www.legion.org/hamradio]. In it he noted that W9L was up and running all day, but reception was severely hampered at our location. Of greater importance, however, is Joe's reference to a QSY away from 14.277, immediately after we received notification that the frequency was in use for Philippines emcomm operations. Also as noted by Joe, in an effort to identify necessary actions on the Headquarters end, a full system analysis was to be run. It has been completed.
Before the analysis got underway, equipment was fired up and – without any changes from Monday's settings – a good number of stations were identified on or about 14.275 MHz. CQ calls rendered five to nine signal reports for K9TAL. Stations we heard were "strong." Next, three members of the TALARC Board moved to the roof of the Legion's four-story building for inspection of the antennas. They found that a portion of the 20-meter section had twisted around the full-length trap section, making contact. The wind had bunched the spacers, allowing this to happen. That was corrected.
They found that the coax had frayed at the point where it enters the wall of the building. No cuts were found to the shield, however, and the coax was resecured. Like problems with the antenna spacers, wind is believed to be the culprit with the frayed coax.
While these findings are good maintenance items, none of them indicate a showstopper. Bottom line: the consensus here is that our problem was an atmospheric/solar flare issue. That assumption can be substantiated, not necessarily by the WSJ, but by the fact that Bill, KI0CW, in South Dakota was copying W9L, noting that the band was in "real bad condition." We know the antenna was radiating 450 watts as indicated, with an SWR of 1.3:1 or less.
At W9L we were able to copy a dozen or so stations. Bill, KI0CW, relayed about 40 stations to us, and Tom, W8KYZ, notified us that 11 stations called him to check in. A snappy right-hand salute of respect and admiration goes to Bill and Tom for their help.
Overall, Veterans Day was an exasperating time for the five or six of us in that tiny radio room in the basement of the Legion's headquarters. In the days moving toward the Special Event, we received a great deal of PR from many sources, not the least of which was ARRL, the Ham Nation podcast, and a number of amateur radio club websites around the country. And, again, we were sorely disappointed at day's end.
On the bright side, however, I'm pleased to report that stations checking in on IRLP and via simplex were at a record high for all the Special Event operations conducted by TALARC.
For those who made contact with W9L, or were relayed to W9L, be sure to secure a personalized certificate and a QSL card from TALARC Headquarters. Information is on the TALARC website.
Monthly Net Ops
The move from 20 to 40 meters – and perhaps the move from a Saturday to a Sunday – had a positive impact on HF Net operations of Sunday, Nov. 10. Net Control Op Craig, W3CRR, reported 38 stations checking in, with numerous attempts by others who were unidentifiable due to pile-ups and/or band noise. Craig notes in his after-action report that attempts will be made to rectify this situation during the December Net by calling for check-ins sequentially by call area and getting assistance from relay stations. Craig's entire report is available on the TALARC website. Please note the HF band changes from the previous 20 meters to 40 meters, and the new time from Saturday to Sunday at 2100Z. Those who find these net times and frequencies good, and who like the venues, please let Net Control know so we can lock them in on a monthly basis. Comments and suggestions are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The monthly IRLP Net was conducted on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1900Z. Bill, NZ9S, logged only seven check-ins during the 20-minute operation. Bill's report also can be reviewed in its entirety on the TALARC website, www.legion.org/hamradio.
In a previous Prez's message, there was a suggested need for regional and/or local nets. Given the difficulties of cross-continent time zones and local conditions, local nets can provide that contact opportunity for our members who may not be able to reach TALARC Net ops on a regular basis. If you're interested in taking on the challenge, contact us at email@example.com. Instructions for start-up and scripted materials are available from TALARC.
Special Event operations and, probably, Net operations of this past weekend have attributed 11 new members to the TALARC rosters, putting the membership of the club well over 1,500.
Did you know that if you are a life member of The American Legion, you are also a life member of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club? Life membership may be something to look into. Information is on the Legion's website at www.legion.org.
TALARC Forum and Events Page
Other than the monthly Nets and Special Event ops, there is a great way to be in regular contact with National Headquarters and your fellow TALARC members. And that would be through the TALARC forum, which resides at www.legion.org/hamradio; click on "Forum." Got a gripe? Have a suggestion or recommendation for improving any aspect of the club? Got a story of what works for your operations that can be shared with others who might capitalize on your success? If so, the forum is the place to go with your concerns and stories.
TALARC welcomes stories of posts that have established a club/station and those that liaison with local emergency management agencies. Tell us what you've done, what you're doing or what you're planning by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The newest addition to the TALARC website is the calendar page for Ham Radio Events. This page is your chance to notify the amateur radio world of activities coming up in your club, your post or your area. The calendar is accessible on the TALARC website, www.legion.org/ham radio; in the left column, click on "Ham Radio Events."
With the holidays coming swiftly at us, I offer to all the fondest wishes of the TALARC board for a warm and family-filled Thanksgiving celebration. All the best to each and every one!!!
Marty Justis, W9WMJ
The American Legion Amateur Radio Club