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MEMBERSHIP MEETING MINUTES – April 11, 2020

MEMBERSHIP MEETING MINUTES – April 11, 2020

Stillwater Amateur Radio Association

Virtual membership meeting held via Webex due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.

President:  Joe KCØOIO

The meeting was called to order at 9:09 AM. 

Joe KC0OIO welcomed all to the first on-line virtual membership meeting using Cisco Webex.  Joe gave a well-deserved thanks to Doug N9TOW, our host, for setting up the meeting and manning the controls during the meeting.  Doug then explained to members how to operate the program.

Secretary’s ReportDave N9JNQ

The general minutes from the February Membership and the February 13 and April 2 Board meetings are posted on the SARA website.

Due to the shelter-at-home order, there was no March membership meeting, and the March Board meeting was delayed until April 2.  Joe KC0OIO noted that, in place of the March membership meeting, a get-on-the-air event was staged simultaneously on the SARA W0JH 2-meter repeater and on 3.865 mhz on Saturday morning, March 14, with 45 total check-ins and 40 unique call signs.  A summary of the get-together can be found in the April SARA Signals Newsletter.

Please report any corrections or additions to: Secretary@radioham.org

Treasurer’s Report:  Rich ADØSN

Beginning Total Balance:   03/01/20     $16,876.04

  • SARA

Balance:                                                   $3160.27

Income:                                                   $40.00

Expenses:                                                $0.00

Ending Balance:      03/31/20              $3200.27

  • RBF

Balance:                                                 $13,715.77

Income:                                                  $0.00

Expenses:                                               $0.00

Ending Balance:    03/31/2020         $13,715.77

Ending Total Balance: 03/31/2020       $16,916.04

SARA Income

  • Dues                     $40.00

SARA Expenses – none

Activities & Events:

Eyeballs/Tech/Skills Sessions

Joe KC0OIO noted that the Thursday Night Eyeball Sessions are not being held at the Stillwater Public Library due to the shelter-in-place order, but virtual eyeballs and skills sessions are being planned once again using Webex.  Once the Wires-x system is up and running on the SARA W0JH repeater it is planned that a training session will be held on how to use the system.  Other topics considered are a “Show Us Your Shack – Live!” and “Hotspots – A Deep Dive”, following up on the fine program recently given by Bob W0GAF.  The Eyeballs will not necessarily take place on Thursday nights, depending on availability of the facilitator and the fact that meeting virtually provides flexibility for attendance.

Field Day

Bob W0GAF announced that the format of Field Day is still in flux due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation.  It is still unknown whether we will be able to gather as usual in Autumn Hills Park, but most likely if we can the format will be different than usual.  Plan B at the moment is for participants to work from home as individuals or small family groups as Class D – Home Stations or Class E – Home Stations/Emergency Power. Bob noted that SARA already has its permit for the Park, so we should be able to act quickly if we end up using the site.

Matt K0BBC, ARRL Dakota Division Director, noted that the purpose of Field Day is to provide an opportunity to be in a public area to demonstrate the hobby to the uninitiated, and to practice responding to emergency situations.  While we may need to forego the former, this is an opportunity to address emergency preparedness.  Thus, the ARRL is not planning any rule changes but rather, in the spirit of the vagaries and always changing circumstances of field and emergency operations, encourages participants should adapt to the situation.  As Field Day is a non-adjudicated event, we should just work those that we can with what we can.

SARA Nets & Ragchews – Dave W0OXB & Joe KC0OIO

160 Top Band Evening Round Robin Ragchew (“RRR”) has continued to have a good turn-out , with Dave W0OXB noting that is has been running for approximately 20 years.  The RRR has an average of 12 check-ins, and usually 2 or 3 are not SARA members.  We have been running from 8:00-9:15 pm, with early check-ins lining up at 7:40 or earlier.  With the addition of a 160 meter “afterglow” following the Tuesday and Thursday SARA W0JH 2-meter repeater RRRs, the Top Band RRR will be running nightly until further notice.

The weekly 75 meter Monday Morning RRR continues with good attendance, averaging approximately 8 check-ins, with 1 or 2 non-SARA members.  Recently retired Brad VE3MXJ checked in from Thunder Bay, Ontario, this past Monday.  We are switching this coming Monday (April 13) to 8:15 am start time due to propagation.

The SARA W0JH 2 meter repeater has been getting a workout the last few weeks.  Since March 23, Joe KC0OIO has been hosting the noon hour “Lunch Room” Monday thru Friday, with an average of at least 10 check-ins a day, including a few non-SARA members.  All members are encouraged to check in – “You’re never late, but you can miss it!”  Analog is used.  Joe has served as the Group Leader, but others are welcome to help Joe with leading/facilitating the Lunch Room, as Collin KE0IYN recently did.

Two-meter Tuesday (TMT) has had a successful run on the SARA repeater, operating 7:00 – 8:00 pm, with a 160 meter afterglow at 1.966 beginning at 8 pm.  The RRR has been averaging about 10 check-ins.  We have now had up to five members helming the net.  Anyone interested in helping out as a leader can contact Dave or Joe.  A “tip o’ the hat” to Zach AA0U, who suggested back in February that the club take some action to encourage more use of the SARA repeater.

Without the Thursday night eyeball, the substituted Two-meter Thursday (TMT2) has also been a success, running from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, averaging 10 check-ins, with the obligatory afterglow (unfortunately without Norman Quacks onion rings) on 160 meters 3.966 mhz at 8 pm.

The Wednesday night 2-meter net, hosted by Rick K0BR, continues its long run, beginning at 9:00 pm.  There have been an  average of 5 check-ins

Joe KC0OIO reports that there was a “pop up” digital RRR on the SARA W0JH repeater, utilizing its digital capabilities.  More opportunities to use the digital side of the repeater are planned, possibly working a regularly-scheduled RRR into the calendar.

Joe KC0OIO reports that the Digital Net continues Sundays at 7 PM CST.   Due to the shelter-at-home order, Joe plans to continue the net through May.  The frequency is 3.582.15 USB or as directed by the NCS.  The Net Coordinator will email details (mode, frequency, & NCS) on the day of the net.  The most popular mode has been THOR.  Joe reports that Brad VW3MXJ checked in this past Sunday from Thunder Bay, Ontario.  We have had check-ins from as far away as Illinois and New York.

The bottom line is we’ve seen much more use of the repeater and increased operating enthusiasm!  The club’s simple goal is to get operators comfortable and on the air, especially those without HF capabilities, and to make better use of our capable repeater.  Some members have said they are actually getting on the air for the first time … and regularly!

M.A.P. – Dave WØOXB

It’s been a pretty quiet period with a long winter – no antenna work has been going on for months.  And under the current conditions, work has been suspended.  But, M.A.P. is not just an antenna-raising program, there have been indoor projects where we’ve assisted members.  Things like installing software, radio programming, and making coax jumper cables with the club crimper have occurred.  Special thanks to Rich ADØSN, Collin KEØIYN, and Joe KCØOIO, as well as others, for helping.

With the current shelter-at-home order in place and affecting work, we are focusing on the design/planning of antenna systems and locating materials.

Please contact Dave WØOXB or a SARA officer if you need help!

Repeater News

Joe KC0OIO reports that the relocation of the repeater and its antenna has been a huge success, it has increased its footprint and signal in the eastern metro area.

Doug N9TOW reports that the transition to Wires-x capability is essentially done.  We have a room in Wires-x, have the desktop computer configured, and we are in the process of putting in a YSFReflector that allows hotspots to connect to the room and use the repeater.  This in turn allows folks who do not have a fusion radio but do have a DMR radio to access the repeater.  We are now waiting for the shelter-at-home order, and the COVID-19 situation generally, to be over so that we can put the unit in place at the QTH of Zach AA0U.  Once in place, training sessions will be scheduled.

New Ham Help: Brian N0BJE, Holly KE0RZZ, and Mark KE0QQN

It was noted that the KD0OTB Memorial Station has been added to the New Ham Help supplies and is available for use by members.  The station includes an Icom 718 with power supply, an MFJ 949E tuner, coax, and an antenna.  This equipment was generously bequeathed to the club by the late SARA member Bill Eggers, KD0OTB (SK).  Also available for loan are two Yaesu FT70DR HTs.  There is no reason for new hams, young and old, not to get on the air.

Washington County ARES:  John KAØHYR

The ARES net takes place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.  April 15th will be the next net on 146.985- repeater at 6:30 PM.  

The Hands-On Training for REP Drill originally scheduled for May 5 has been canceled.   The June 10 REP Relocation Drill at Park High School, Cottage Grove, MN,  is still scheduled, subject to change.  All other activities have been canceled.  The Simulated Emergency Test (“SET”) usually takes place in September.

Skywarn spotter activities are canceled; however, the National Weather Service/Northland Skywarn will be offering six Skywarn Spotter Training classes online this spring.  To register for one of the sessions, see https://www.weather.gov/dlh/skywarn.

Jim KD0IPI noted that this coming week is National Weather Service’s severe weather week, with practice net control training taking place Thursday at 1 pm and 6 pm.

Brad VE3MXJ, Thunder Bay Ontario ARES Emergency Coordinator, reports that Woody VE3JJA of Sioux Narrows, Ontario, has established a Northwest Ontario Situation Net in response to the COVID-19 situation pm 3.675 mhz daily at 10 am CDT.  All stations are welcome to check in.  ARES is currently doing some Winlink training for Incident Command System (“ICS”) messaging in emergency situations.

DX News:  Mike N0ODK

Joe KC0OIO noted that a lot of the DXpeditions have been postponed.

The World Amateur Radio Day is scheduled for April 18, running from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC.  The theme is “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society.”

Hamvention has been canceled, but in its place is the Hamvention QSO Party, running Saturday May 16 from 7
am, to 7 pm CDT (1200 to 2400 UTC).  For full details, see www.wwrof.org.

Matt K0BBC noted that there is an FT8 contest today, April 11, running from 7 am until 7 am Sunday.

Remote Base Project (RBP):  Pat WA0TDA

Pat WA0TDA reports that both of the remote stations are currently up and running.  Pat noted that, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, it is unknown wither the Handiham Radio Camp will take place at the scout camp and location of the W0EQO remote station as scheduled in late-July.  In addition, it is unknown whether scout camps will take place.  This could have an impact on the availability of utilities over the summer months.

W0ZSW is operational, although the antenna is poorly positioned due to tree trimming undertaken last summer.  Pat’s own remote station, WA0TDA, is also available for use.

If you would like access to the remote stations, contact Pat WA0TDA.

Newsletter & Website:  Pat WA0TDA & Dave W0OXB

Thanks to Pat and Dave for putting together the newsletter!  Deadline for the next issue is May 1st, although the earlier, the better.

Additional contributors are always needed and welcome.  Photos are also welcome.

 Club Business:

The Trustee’s report, prepared by Shel N0DRX, can be found in the April 2, 2020 Board Meeting Minutes.

 

Program:

ARRL HQ Update and My St. Kitts DXpedition, presented by ARRL Dakota Division Director Matt Holden KØBBC.

Matt reported that there are 156,516 ARRL members out of a pool of 755,952 licensed amateurs as of February 2020.  Minnesota has 2,590 members out of 11,521 licensees; the Division has 3295 members out of 15,010 licensees.

Matt attends a January and July ARRL Board meeting annually.  At the January meeting, CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX did not have his contract renewed on a 7 to 8 vote.  Matt voted in favor or retaining the CEO.  So ARRL is once again looking for a CEO for a fourth time in so many years.  Retired CFO and interim CEO Barry Shelley N1VXY has once again come out of retirement to temporarily helm the organization.

Rick Roderick K5UR narrowly was reelected President, receiving 8 votes.

Treasurer Rick Niswander K7GM has done a good job handling ARRL’s finances, having seen a downturn in the economy coming and having invested conservatively.

ARRL is in need of a new Emergency Communications Manager; the position is currently posted.

Matt reports that ARRL has established an online  Lifelong Learning program website that offers a variety of learning opportunities for new, current and prospective amateur radio operators.

The Legislative Advocacy Committee is in the process of drafting a new bill to address the issue of private land-use restrictions on amateur radio antennas.  The proposed legislation would be the successor to the Amateur Radio Parity Act.  However, with the COVID-19 crisis, it is not high on Congress’ agenda.

The HF Band Plan is under review.  Under consideration is the impact on the plan of the popularity of FT8, which comprises three-quarters of the contacts uploaded to LOTW.  Winlink use is also being considered.

Also under discussion is revamping Technician privileges to include digital uses, as well as giving some phone privileges in the 40 and 80 meter bands.  The trick is balancing providing enhanced privileges while still encouraging upgrading.  There is also discussion of providing Tech class license holders with privileges throughout the 10 meter band due to its size.

The 3 and 5 ghz spectrums are in need of protection due to cell phone service speculators greedily eyeing them.

The new bimonthly ARRL On The Air magazine hit the racks in January.  The plan is to have two years worth of topics to rotate through the magazine, working under the theory that the magazine must always provide the basic information to new amateurs, who will then graduate to QST.  Beginning in July, QST, On The Air, and QEX will be available to all members in electronic form.

ARRL HQ is just about closed down due to the Connecticut Governor’s shelter-at-home order.  However, most staff are working from home.  One person is allowed in each building, including W1AW, to keep things running.  There is one person in the ARRL warehouse who is capably getting product out the door.  The QSL Bureau, though, is not in operation.

There has been a push to have online VEC sessions, but the recommendation is to not undertake such an endeavor.  A video conference with the Anchorage, Alaska, VEC was insightful – they said do not do it.  It is very hard to do, and still relies on much paperwork that must travel my snail mail.  The W5YI-VEC Texas group has three University computer science professors who have experience running online testing at the helm, a level of experience that ARRL and other VECs do not have.  Matt believes we need to go slow and give tests when it is safe to do so.

Last, the new Repeater Directory is out.

Matt then provided an informative presentation on his March 2020 V47P DXpedition to St. Kitts Island for the March ARRL DX Phone Contest.  He was lucky enough to get out of there before the virus shut things down.  Along with making Qs, he worked in a trip to the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, as well as numerous seafood meals at the various bistros.  Licensing was fairly straight forward – $35, a copy of his passport and FCC license, the serial numbers of his radios, as well as the local address of his host.  That, and a number of phone calls to move things along, resulted in his license.

The program and meeting concluded at 11:08 AM.

Meeting attendance: 40