The annual “Santa Net” is conducted every night at 8:30 PM ET (01:30 UTC) on 3916 kHz LSB until Christmas. Get your kids, grand-kids or neighbor’s kids on the air third-party and talk with Santa at the North Pole via amateur radio! The Santa Net is held every year before Christmas on the 75-meter ham band.
SEMARA Election Day was Thursday, December 3, 2015. Incoming Officers for 2016 are:
Marcel L. Dumont, W1MLD
Jean Pierre Chiron, AG1Y
Michael J. McDonald, KB1NB
Marc M. Dumont, W1MMD
Trustee (5 Year Term; Chairman in 2020):
William E. Gifford, WA1HKJ
Brett Smith, AB1RL, Public Service Coordinator for the Boston Amateur Radio Club (BARC) is looking for volunteers for two upcoming public service events. If interested in helping out for either event, email ab1rl [at] brettcsmith [dot] org or call (859) 466-5915.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer. Fall will be here faster than you know it, and with it come more public service opportunities for hams. There are a couple I wanted to let you know about.
The Jimmy Fund Walk on Sunday, September 27. This is an all-day walk along the Boston Marathon route to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Hams provide communications for each medical tent along the route and the sweep vehicles that serve them.
To help out, please write me back with your call sign, phone number(s), available equipment, and t-shirt size. Please also let me know if you have any constraints on your schedule that day—if you can’t start before, or must finish by, a particular time.
The BAA Half-Marathon on Sunday, October 11. This is the BAA’s annual half-marathon along the Emerald Necklace in Boston. Volunteers will need to park at the Roxbury Community College before 6:00 AM to report to their assignments, and will finish in the early afternoon.
To help out, please register as a volunteer on the BAA site. When asked for an assignment preference, make sure you select Ham Radios. You don’t need to join any group.
If you have questions about either event, please feel free to contact me at ab1rl [at] brettcsmith [dot] org, or phone (859) 466 5915. I look forward to hearing you on the air soon!
Brett Smith, AB1RL
Public Service Coordinator, Boston Amateur Radio Club
On June 11, 2015, the amateur radio community lost a well-known media voice, when Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF passed away following a period of illness. Bill was co-founder (with Jim Hendershot, WA6VQP) of Amateur Radio Newsline™ (formerly The Westlink Report) way back in 1976. He was also the originator of the Young Ham of the Year Award. Bill primarily remained behind the scenes, however he was sometimes heard as a reporter on Newsline itself, which airs Sundays at 8:00 PM on the 147.000 repeater. As SEMARA extends its sympathy to Bill’s family, please take a moment to view this video tribute to Bill on the Amateur Radio Newsline™ site.
After an 8 month absence, the SEMARA Repeater Committee has restored 220 MHz service via our brand new BridgeCom Systems ComLink™ BCR-220 repeater! The new repeater went live at 9:05 PM on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Like our 2-meter and 900 MHz repeaters, this repeater resides at our 180-foot tower site and its antenna (temporarily a Comet CX-333 shared with our 2m APRS station) is also atop the tower. Full technical specifications can be found on our repeaters section.
This new unit replaces our old Hi-Pro repeater and uses our existing Bird Technologies/TX RX Systems duplexer that was purchased new by SEMARA in November 2010. Maggiore Electronic Labs which manufactured our old repeater went out of business in the Summer of 2012. Due to a frequency drift problem, it had been off the air since October 2014. At the July 2015 SEMARA business meeting, a motion passed to purchase the new repeater and to sell the old one. There may be an interested local buyer, however if they decide to pass on it, we will place the old unit for auction on eBay.
The new 224.800 MHz repeater runs 30 watts output power as apposed to old one which was 20 watts. The temporary measure of the repeater’s outgoing CTCSS (PL tone) being different to stop desense (the transmitter feeding back into the receiver) is no longer necessary. There is a small amount of desense that still exists due to the sub-par antenna arrangement, however it appears to be mild in our initial tests. The new repeater is running 67.0 Hz for both transmit and receive. If you had set your radio up for a split tone, you will need to reprogram your radio for 67.0 Hz on both encode and decode. For the time being, the new repeater is running on its internal controller, which provides a basic CW ID and a short tail without a courtesy tone.
Future plans on the “to-do list” include interfacing the repeater to our brand new S-COM 7330 controller. This is the same 3-port full-duplex controller we currently use on our 2-meter and 900 MHz repeaters. A completed PiRLP node (IRLP and EchoLink node 4215/W1AEC-L) and UHF Motorola GM300 link radio are ready to be interfaced to this new controller as well. When that happens, we plan to have this 220 MHz repeater full-time linked into the Quahog Repeater Network (QRN) via the link radio to the North Providence hub.
The repeater committee also recommends that the club approve the purchase of a dedicated 220 MHz repeater antenna to be added to the top of our tower. This would be the Sinclair Technologies model SD214 four bay offset dipole. The offset pattern should be east/west to add slightly more gain over the South Coast and less south to the ocean. We should request for it to be black anodized with a lightning spike. This commercial antenna will greatly improve the coverage and will resolve the desense issue that remains. The existing Comet tri-band antenna that is temporarily being used should also remain. It will continue to be used for our 2-meter APRS station and future UHF link radio, plus serve as a auxiliary antenna system for our 2-meter and 220 MHz repeaters should our primaries fail.
On Tuesdays, we plan to setup an automatic scheduler setpoint to separate the repeater from QRN and participate in “220 Tuesdays”. Via IRLP, it will link to the New England Reflector 912 Channel 4 (reflector 9124, the NEAR-220 channel) for the day, where it will be linked with other participating 220 repeaters including the MMRA‘s five 220 repeaters that link through their “HUB2”. 220 Tuesdays is a similar promotion as “900 Thursdays”, which you can also participate on via SEMARA’s 900 repeater. Both 220 Tuesdays and 900 Thursdays are New England-wide promotions to gain awareness and generate activity on the 220 MHz and 900 MHz bands respectively.
Richard J. Cabral, W1RJC
SEMARA Repeater Committee
Come one, come all! The Rochester Hamfest sponsored by the Rochester Amateur Radio Association (RaRa) is Saturday, June 6, 2015, 7:00 AM rain or shine at Barnard Fireman’s Field, 360 Maiden Lane, Rochester, New York. Admission is only $8.00 per person and $10.00 per vehicle to tailgate. Youths under 16 are admitted free with a paying adult.
The Rochester Hamfest is one of the biggest in upstate New York. Everything you want in a Hamfest is here. Good food, lots of fun and a 16 acre flea market! A free VE session will be offered along with hourly door prizes and a 50/50 raffle.
More information can be found at http://www.rochesterhamfest.com.
A reminder that the biggest hamfest/flea market in our region, the New England Amateur Radio Festival (NEAR-Fest) XVII, is this weekend, Friday, May 1st and Saturday, May 2nd, 2015. General admission tickets valid for both days are $10.00. The event kicks off Friday at 9am at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, 34 Stage Road, Deerfield, New Hampshire. Check out the official NEAR-Fest site for more information. See you there!
The Whitman Amateur Radio Club (WARC) is currently planning their Flea Market to be held at the Knights of Columbus, 1195 Bedford Street, Whitman, Massachusetts. The hall is located near the Whitman/Abington line on MA Route 18 and the event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 30th and Sunday May 31st, 8am to 3pm. Further information may be obtained by calling WARC at 781-523-5010. An official announcement should also be posted at their website soon.
For over a month now, the cable modem at the SEMARA clubhouse has been unstable, providing intermittent service. Comcast technical support had previously informed us that the current SMC brand modem was outdated and needed to be replaced. Marty-KA1YFV offered to disconnect the modem and bring it to the service center in New Bedford a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately because we have a business account, they told him that they could not exchange it and a technician visit to the club was necessary.
On Thursday afternoon, Jeff-N1ZZN and Rick-W1RJC of the Technical Committee waited at the clubhouse for the scheduled appointment. Our modem swap was completed around 5:30pm for a new Cisco DPC3939B, including the removal of a 15db attenuator which had been added without our knowledge at the utility pole tap. A loose connection to the club’s TV adapter box may have been causing ingress, where stray RF might have been feeding back to the Comcast node.
After the technician left, Jeff and Rick realized that the node on both the 2m and 900 MHz repeater was not always sending and/or receiving internet packets on certain ports. The club pays for 5 IP addresses and the modem is supposed to pass all traffic without any sort of port blocking or filtering, however that is not the case. After consulting Tony-N1XRS who is an Advanced Technical Support representative at Comcast and spending another 4 hours at the clubhouse, a solution could not be found at this time.
While the internet connection at the club is now stable, there will be some intermittent issues with certain data not passing at times until this is figured out. This may cause connections via IRLP and EchoLink on the 147.000 repeater and the connection via IRLP to NEAR-900 on the 927.8375 repeater to sometimes fail.
For wireless (Wi-Fi) users at the clubhouse, the legacy 2.4 GHz network is now called “SEMARA-2.4” . If your device is 5 GHz capable, you will now see “SEMARA-5” as an available network. Connecting to this one will provide you with better performance and security, since the 5 GHz band is a lot less crowded. The Wi-Fi password itself remains the same as it is posted on the wall at the SEMARA clubhouse. Finally, if you are a Comcast Xfinity customer, you will also notice an “xfinitywifi” network now available at SEMARA. You may also use this network instead if you have your Xfinity account password.
Please note that the Wi-Fi information above might be subject to change in the event that we must switch out the modem once again to fix the current problem we are experiencing. Due to time constrants, it may take a few weeks to figure out. As always, we will keep you posted on SEMARA.org with links via the Facebook and Twitter feed.
On Thursday afternoon, Dave-K1JGV and Marty-KA1YFV of the Buildings and Grounds Committee discovered that the 12-Volt battery system at the clubhouse is in need of some work. There are four batteries that exist inside of a “dog house” type structure behind the clubhouse close to the electrical closet side. A rat/mouse nest was discovered inside sitting atop one of the batteries. After the fuse holders were cleaned and fuses were replaced, it was determined that the batteries have reached their end of life and no longer hold a charge. Lack of maintenance is partially to blame.
Contained within the clubhouse electrical closet is a couple metal enclosures attached to the wall which were originally built by the late Bill-K1IBR. One box is the junction of the 12-Volt wiring system via a +12 VDC and ground terminal block. The wires from the batteries outside, a 5-Amp trickle charger, the DC light bulb on the ceiling of the electrical closet and the 2m and 900 MHz radios on the clubhouse wall all terminate here. In addition, another set of wires run to the second enclosure which contains relays for the emergency floodlights on the clubhouse ceiling that activate via relays automatically when commercial AC power is lost.
The temporary solution implemented by Jeff-N1ZZN and Rick-W1RJC of the Technical Committee was to take a spare 20-Amp power supply sitting on the radio room desk and install it in the electrical closet. The leads that run from the wall radios to underneath the clubhouse and then up to the metal enclosure in the electrical closet were removed and instead connected to the temporary power supply which is currently sitting on top of the security camera system PC in the electrical closet. The trickle charger that is meant to keep the batteries charged has been unplugged to prevent further damage.
The Technical Committee, in conjunction with the Buildings and Grounds Committee, will need to come up with a plan to replace the rotted “dog house” structure and batteries. In the discussion between Rick and Dave, it was agreed that it may be best to get a similar container and battery that we currently have at the repeater site. That current setup is also fairly new, having been setup by Brad-W1BEP a couple years ago. Perhaps the membership will want to put this on hold until the building extension is completed at some point in the future, so that the positioning of the battery system for the clubhouse can be worked into the plans. Dave recommends placing it on the south side with proper ventilation and a way to maintain a reasonable temperature of about 40 to 80 degrees.