BOARD MEETING MINUTES – February 13, 2020
BOARD MEETING MINUTES – February 13, 2020
Stillwater Amateur Radio Association
1618 Pine Street West
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082
Roll Call of Officers – All Officers present.
President: Joe KCØOIO
The meeting was called to order at 6:01 PM.
Secretary’s Report – Dave N9JNQ
Board Meeting minutes have been posted by Dave N9JNQ. Dave will be absent for the March Board Meeting.
Treasurer’s Report – Rich ADØSN
Beginning Total Balance: 02/01/20 $16,691.24
Ending Balance: 02/12/20 $2869.07
Ending Balance: 2/12/2020 $14,148.74
Ending Total Balance: 2/12/2020 $17,017.81
- Dues $170.00
- 50/50 Raffle $35.50
- Donations $30.50
- Sticker sales $2.00
- YOTA $100.00
SARA Expenses $0.00
Rich AD0SN reported that the bank account has an additional $53.52. He will review the accounts to see where the error is located.
The YOTA fund is credited to the New Hams Help (“NHH”) group. It is not a separate account, but rather merely noted as a part of the SARA account.
Trustee’s Report – Shel NØDRX
Shel N0DRX reports that four members paid their dues as a result of an email notifying those who had not paid their dues were going to be dropped from the email group. Shel reports SARA has 92 paid members for 2020; at this date in 2019 the club had 88 paid members, so we are ahead of last year.
Reports of Committees:
Activities & Events: Dave WØOXB
Ice Station W0JH – This event will be held February 15-17, 2020. There will be three stations up and running: the Eskimo shack on the lake; the SARA trailer up on the shore; and John N5JLZ will be operating a station at his vehicle parked at the VFW field about a mile from the Ice Station. The club will be promoting YOTA, youth on the air, and Joe KC0OIO reports that he has heard from one such member who plans to attend. There is no parking on the road this year, it has been posted by the City since new curb and gutter was put in. There is parking in K0AIF Dave’s yard/driveway. Bob W0GAF reports plenty of ice, so swimsuits are unnecessary.
Stillwater Lift Bridge Spring Reopening – Joe KC0OIO reports that he was approached last Thursday at Norman Quacks after the eyeball by a representative of the group planning the “holding hands” Guinness Book record-breaking attempt for the spring bridge reopening event, inquiring about the club’s interest in helping with the effort. Joe informed him that the club would be willing and able to help.
MAP: Dave WØOXB
Dave W0OXB notes that he has been hearing from interested parties about raising antennas. Dave also emphasized that MAP is not just for putting up antennas but can include a multitude of other assistance with ham radio projects.
Meetings & Programs – Joe KCØOIO
Bob W0GAF was thanked for his excellent presentation at the February Membership Meeting on Digital Hotspots. We expect that the presentation will spawn topics that can be addressed at upcoming eyeball sessions.
Upcoming programs include:
- March: The Art of QSL Cards – Randy KD0VKB
- April: Doing Ham Radio Safely Roundtable – facilitated by Joe KC0OIO. Joe noted that we will limit the business meeting in order to have more time for the Roundtable.
- May: Antenna Modeling – “Before You Cut Any Wire Model That Antenna Using EZNEC” – Jon Platt WØZQ of Bloomington, MN, has graciously agreed to give an actual hands-on presentation where a wire antenna will be modeled using EZNEC at the meeting. Jon has provided a blurb for the Newsletter.
Future Ideas: RPi Digital Stations; Propagation – Can I get there from here?; Station grounding; Tuners: Manual vs. Automatic and Care & Feeding; Setting up your shack; New Technicians: Here’s what you can do now.
Room Reservations – John N5JLZ
The Technician class will take place in the Margaret Rivers Room of the Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater, MN. John N5JLZ reports that he has lined up a room at Summerhill of Maplewood, a coop apartment building located at 935 Ferndale St. N, Maplewood, near the intersection of Stillwater Road and Highway 120 (Century Avenue), as a backup for the three nights that the Stillwater Public Library room is unavailable for the class.
Eyeball Sessions – Tech Night
- February 20, 2020: A discussion of Smith charts will take place facilitated by Doug N9TOW.
- February 27, 2020: A demonstration of GridTracker, a Windows-based WSJT companion program, will be facilitated by Joe KC0OIO. GridTracker monitors WSJT-X or JTDX and decodes and displays stations on a map.
Future Tech nights could address Digital Hotspot topics raised by W0GAF Bob’s February Membership Meeting program. Other ideas include: Tune a duplexer (Doug N9TOW); Using toroids to reduce noise and RFI; Learning CW and building speed (Bob WØGAF); How to read the Solar Reports; The “Tech” in Technician; Antenna Lab: Theory & Design Discussions; SWR Bridge calibration.
Radios in the Park – 2020 dates: May 21 (New Hams Night), June 11, July 2, July 23, Aug 13, Sept 3.
Education & Training – Bob WØGAF
Tech Class 2020 is scheduled Feb 27 through April. Bob W0GAF reports that the instructor schedule has been set. Doug Petty, the Stillwater High School Physics teacher, has indicated that six to nine students are interested in taking the class. Mark KE0QQN will attend one of the later classes, perhaps the class on equipment, to discuss the New Ham Help service and the availability of loaner radios. Greg K0GW will do the Skywarn portion; Joe KC0OIO will be available to help.
Shel N0DRX noted that there are a limited number of Technician License Manuals available (3), noting that three books were sold at the last Technician class session. He suggested that the club purchase three more books to have available for this upcoming session. They cost approximately $25. Shel noted that the books will be good for the next three years.
Dan KE0IYF moved that the club authorize the purchase of three more Technician books; Rich AD0SN seconded the motion; the motion passed unanimously.
Skywarn is scheduled for February 29, 2020.
VE Team – Shel NØDRX
Deferred to March.
New Ham Resource Group (NHRG) – Brian NØBJE, Mark KEØQQN
Brian N0BJE reports that the NHRG has an HF loaner kit is available using the IC-718 from KD0OTB’s equipment, and includes a tuner, coax, and antenna. Also available are the two HTs. Dan KE0IYF referred one member to the loaner program and M.A.P. to use the HF loaner kit and get an antenna up.
Newsletter & Website – Pat WAØTDA, Dave WØOXB
Deadline for the March Newsletter is March 2. There is a need for additional contributors, only three to four members have been contributing recently.
There was a discussion about updating and improving the club’s presence on its website. Brian N0BJE suggested that more photographs be posted. There was some discussion regarding the posting of program slide decks to the website.
There are some limitations to our ability to modify the SARA website as we do not have compete access to its platform. We will need to contact the website designer, Trisha W. Howard, to obtain the password necessary to access it. Without the access, we cannot modify such things as the drop-down menus, although some changes can be made through the Dashboard. SARA does own the domain.
Instagram and Twitter (SARA does have a presence on Twitter) were suggested as a better social media platforms to attract younger members, younger hams in general, or those who might be interested in the hobby. It was suggested that the younger generation does not use Facebook as much as it once did, and therefore is not the ideal method to reach them.
Shel N0DRX suggested that SARA reconsider Flicker, where the club’s photos are posted, at some point because it has been raising its rates again.
Nets & Roundtables
Dave W0OXB reported on a SARA 2 meter repeater “Net” trial that took place on the repeater on Tuesday, February 11. The purpose of this trial was to see if the club could generate increased use of the repeater to add to the Wednesday night 9:00 pm net. Dave reported that he sent a text message was sent the day before to eight club members to initiate the trial. The objective was to determine if we can run a viable net (Round-Robin Rag Chew) via the SARA repeater similar to what is done five nights a week on 160m. The results would then be shared at the Board Meeting.
The trial took place at 8:00 pm Tuesday. The format was the same “Round-Robin Rag Chew” format as the Top Band sessions, as opposed to each participant passing through the net control operator. A total of nice check-ins participated, a number of them coming over from the informal Tuesday night “Renegades” 160m net. Modification of operation was discussed, such as remembering to keep transmissions within approximately four minutes, use of VHF/UHF repeater voice protocol (minimum ID, only at end of transmission/hand-off), etc.
Two questions were asked: 1) What day and time of day are best for you getting on 2m?; and 2) About how much time would you devote to this type session? We learned that 1930 or 2000 hrs were preferred, with one-half to a full hour suggested. All participants were favorable to the net and all could participate on a Tuesday night.
A few closing comments from Dave W0OXB: If this turns into a good, commonly attended watering hole, it gives our technician licensees and those without 160m equipment a place to go to get involved on the air. Most participants in the trial liked the casual structure of the round-robin rag chew format, as opposed to a controlled net, with only brief instructions given at the start. There would be little or no need for a preamble noting restrictions (e.g., no mention or disclaimers prohibiting comments of sex, religion, politics, etc.) As with other on-air nets, rag chews, and special event stations, a regular schedule, standard routine, and having someone to “take charge” in running/facilitating the group is vital for continued success.
At KC0OIO Joe’s suggestion, a net will be scheduled for the next few Tuesdays, and Dave will send out a broadcast email ahead of this coming Tuesday’s net making members aware of its availability. Dave will “take charge” of that net. Dave will be out of town for a few weeks after the next net; Joe KC0OIO is available to facilitate the March 3 net; Zach AA0U will facilitate the other dates in Dave’s absence.
Repeater – Henry KØHAS & Shel NØDRX & Doug N9TOW
Joe KC0OIO reported on costs associated with the proposal discussed at earlier Board meetings to link the SARA repeater to the WIRES-X system, which would allow users of the repeater to tie into such fusion rooms as MNWIS and the Darkroom, and to hook into the daily Handiham Radio Club nets. Price estimates are:
- Radio FTM-100DR $275
- HRI-200 internet linking system $125
- Mini computer $150-$300
The club already has a power supply available, so no separate purchase will be necessary. Zach AA0U offered his location and has an antenna available for use: a 5/8 wave mag mount. Another possibility is an antenna mounted at back of radio with 90-deg elbow.
Some discussion took place regarding the appropriate mini-computer to purchase. Doug N9TOW will do some research on the specs of the various products out there available and send the Board an email on his findings.
The project would be funded through Remote Base Program funds. This is considered an appropriate use of the funds due to the availability of the repeater for the daily Handiham Radio Club nets.
There was discussion regarding how users would access certain rooms, when they could be accessed, etc. It was proposed that the first step should be getting the repeater connected to the WIRES-X system; once connected, the Board can determine how to set it up (how to shift between rooms; how long in each room, etc.).
There was some question as to why SARA originally went to the Fusion repeater as opposed to a DMR or D-STAR capable repeater. Bob W0GAF revisited earlier Board discussions, noting that only the Fusion repeater allowed for both digital and analog use, so users who did not have a Yaesu radio or a radio capable of operating digitally could still use the repeater. With DMR, only DMR (digital) radios could be used; there would be no analog capability. With D-STAR, analog use also would not be available and, as a result, use would be limited to Icom radios with digital capability.
Shel N0DRX moved to authorize the purchase of the FTM-100DR radio and the HRI-200 internet linking system; Bob W0GAF seconded; the motion passed unanimously.
Remote Bases Technical Committee
Pat WAØTDA had earlier identified the need for new computers at the remote sites as the old computers have seen better days. The computers, while unreliable, are currently operating. The Board has earlier agreed that a purchase of new computers is warranted. The Board is awaiting further information from Pat.
Deferred – Nothing happening at this time.
SARA YOTA activities: Youth have been invited to participate in Ice Station activity this year. We expect at least one YOTA participant.
Audio distribution box prototype build update: Doug N9TOW has it wired up, has only to put in the diodes. Joe KC0OIO has received the two headsets and cables previously order, and has acquired two cloth bags for storage. Joe has yet to test the headsets.
KDØOTB SK gear deposition: Available for sale at some date:
- FT 897 HF/VHF/UHF radio. The FT 897 was tested and is operational.
- FT 2900 VHF mobile radio
- FT 990 HF radio
- Misc accessories
Members can take the gear, try it, and make a fair offer based upon what they determine it to be worth. Emphasis on “fair offer.”
The Vibroplex bug from KD0OTB Bill’s equipment will be auctioned off to benefit New Ham Resource Group.
No new business.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:31 PM on the motion of Dan KE0IYF, seconded by Bob W0GAF, passed unanimously.