NEAR-Fest, Deerfield, NH – May 1st & 2nd

2015-04-30A 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!

Whitman ARC Flea Market – May 30th & 31st

2015-04-23The 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.

 

Clubhouse Cable Modem Update

2015-03-20_2For 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  Comcast technical support had previously informed us that the current SMC brand modem was outdated and needed to be replaced.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.

Clubhouse 12 Volt System & Wall Radios

2015-03-20On 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.

NEAR-Fest Announcement & FreeFest Postponement

2015-03-11The New England Amateur Radio Festival (NEAR-Fest) will hold it’s seventeenth event Friday and Saturday, May 1st and 2nd, 2015 at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, 34 Stage Road, Deerfield, New Hampshire.  The event is held twice per year in May and October featuring a huge outdoor electronic flea market, three buildings full of commercial vendors, forums, technical seminars, demonstrations, exhibits, displays, licensing examinations, special events radio stations, a “jam session”, good food, fellowship and fun.  Discounted hotel rooms are available fifteen minutes from the event at the Super 8 Motel, 2301 Brown Avenue, Manchester, New Hampshire.  To reserve your room before it sells out, call them at (603) 623-0883.

Mister Mike, W1RC, General Chairman (affectionately known as the benevolent dictator) had previously announced at the October 2014 event that “because you guys have been such a wonderful group of attendees for the last eight years, we have decided that NEAR-Fest XVII in May of 2015 is going to be free.  There will be no admission charged”.  Later given the name FreeFest, it was announced by Mister Mike in the following March 1, 2015 press release that while NEAR-Fest will happen in May, the FreeFest aspect will be postponed to a future event:

Dear Friends of NEAR-Fest:

It is with great regret and sadness that I must inform the radio amateurs and electronic hobbyists of New England that the NEAR-Fest Board of Directors finds it necessary to POSTPONE the FreeFest aspect of NEAR-FEST XVII that was scheduled for May 2015. It will be held at a later date. However, first and foremost, I want to assure everyone that NEAR-Fest XVII WILL TAKE PLACE AS SCHEDULED on May 1st and 2nd, 2015, at the Deerfield NH Fairgrounds. NEAR- Fest XVIII will also be held as scheduled on October 16th and 17th, 2015.

The Directors made the difficult decision to POSTPONE the FreeFest due to a legal issue that has arisen since the FreeFest was announced last October. The matter is being addressed professionally; however the funds that would have financed the FreeFester may now be needed to resolve this issue at hand. There was no other option open to us. It is important for everyone to understand that there are no issues or problems with the Deerfield Fair Association; in fact our relationship with them is better than ever.

I want to personally assure you all that the FreeFest will be rescheduled as soon as possible once this issue has been resolved. The entire NEAR-Fest management team is committed to, and is looking forward to, hosting the FreeFest, in it’s original spirit, to thank all our loyal attendees and the amateur radio community for the support since 2007. We appreciate your understanding and continued support. We hope to be able to post an update about FreeFest on our website before the end of the year. Advance tickets and inside parking passes will be on sale in the usual places starting in April. Check our Web site (www.near-fest.com) for more details.

To summarize: NEAR-Fest XVII WILL TAKE PLACE on May 1st and 2nd, 2015, exactly as scheduled, Admission will be the same as always, $10 per person and $10 for an inside parking pass. NEAR-Fest XVIII will also take place as scheduled on October 16th and 17th, 2015. The FreeFest that was planned to take place as a part of NEAR-Fest XVII is POSTPONED until a later date.

The NEAR-Fest staff and management as well as I thank you for your total support and understanding.

73,

MisterMike, W1RC

2015 Boston Marathon Communications Team Sign Up

2015-02-03Registration Closes Soon

The race is still months away, but volunteer registration for the Boston Marathon is almost over. The deadline to sign up is Tuesday, February 10. We hope you’re as excited to help out as we are, so don’t delay—register now!

Registration is a simple two-step process:

1. Register with the BAA
If you’ve volunteered at a BAA event before, you’ll sign in with your BAA Volunteer Loyalty Number, which you can look up on the site. Otherwise, you can sign up as a new volunteer. When the system asks you for your assignment preferences, make sure to choose one of the Ham Radio options. You’ll know you’re done with this step when the system shows you a confirmation number.

2. Sign up with MMRA
We use this to collect additional information specific to our volunteers, like what equipment you have.

For more details, refer to the BAA’s information page for amateur radio operator volunteers.

If you have any questions about the sign-up process, feel free to send those to baa-contact [at] kd1sm [dot] net. And as always, thanks for volunteering.

73,
Brett Smith, AB1RL
for the Boston Marathon Communications Committee

Boxboro! 2015 Convention August 21, 22, 23

2015-02-01Tickets for the 2015 Boxboro! convention are now on sale.

As you may have noticed, we are breaking are usual “every other year”
schedule having a convention this year, so help us spread the word to your friends and acquaintances that there IS a convention this year.

The committee is lining up speakers, forums and exhibitors, so many details are still to be announced. However, Gordon West WB6NOA is confirmed as the keynote speaker at our Saturday banquet.

And finally.. be the first on your block to get tickets.
http://www.boxboro.org

73,
Bob DeMattia
Vice Chairman, Boxboro Convention Committee

New Year Around The World QSO Party – 927.8375

Get ready to ring in the new year with the festive annual IRLP New Year Around The World QSO Party on the 927.8375 Dartmouth repeater!

The event gets started early enough for the New Zealand nodes to participate at 11:00 UTC, December 31st (6:00 AM local time) and continues until at least 10:00 UTC, January 1st (5:00 AM local time) when Hawaii rolls into the new year.  This is an open QSO party with no net control.  It is carried worldwide with the IRLP Crossroads Reflector 9200 being the central hub.

Locally, the 145.490 repeater is normally the South Coast Massachusetts affiliate for the New Year Around The World QSO Party.  Since the ’49 repeater is currently off the air, it will be carried in its entirety for the second year in a row on SEMARA’s 927.8375 Dartmouth repeater.  Enjoy and Happy New Year 2015!