Hamfest and Weather

Saturday was the Virginia Beach Hamfest, and I made the annual trek to the Convention Center. The crowd was smallish, and there were a few vendors, and several tailgaters at inside tables. I ran into a lot of friends and acquaintances, and generally had a good time.

I attended the Mesh Networking talk (two hours) and found it interesting and informative. They talked about the implementation in Hampton and some of the issues with installation and operation. Good forum and well worth the time spent.

This past weekend, we had a pretty strong storm event … lots of thunder and lightning and several inches of rain, causing a lot of flooding. We’re under the gun for a hurricane watch as well … all waiting to see just what hurricane Florence is going to do. The storm has the potential to tear us up and we’ll surely get flooding and rain, but just how bad it will be remains to be seen. I’m charging everything up, just in case.

I’ve already been informed that I’ll be on call for the duration of the storm. When you’re involved with public safety communications, your time is not your own. My family doesn’t appreciate that philosophy, but you “gotta do what you gotta do”.

So we’re doing pre-storm checks at work, and just waiting for the forecast to become more refined. We should know more by mid-week.

73 de Dick N4BC

Updates

Last night, we had our monthly radio club meeting. We had a good turnout, with some old friends we hadn’t seen for a while, and some new ones. We even picked up a few new members … HOORAY!

Our Treasurer, who has held that position for over fifteen years tendered his resignation as treasurer due to health and family issues, and I was elected to take his place. I’ve really got some big shoes to fill, don’t I?

We had a good meeting, and the presentation was on mobile radio installation. Well done and very interesting. It’s my turn next month, and my tentative subject will be portable operation … Radios in the Wild.

There were ten checkins to the Tidewater 31515 DMR Net this evening. Topics of discussion were the upcoming Virginia Beach Hamfest and IDing on DMR to comply with FCC Regulations … Section 97.119, to be specific. As I’ve said before, it’s more of a casual gathering than a formal net, and it’ll be nice to put some faces to the calls at the hamfest Saturday. I noticed that a couple of new calls showed up as unknown, so I updated the user database in my MD-380. I hadn’t done that for a while.

I also went into my new DStar radio and added some local non-digital simplex channels. The programming in that radio is still a work in progress, but truthfully, with the GPS and built-in repeater database, not much pre-programming is needed for repeater use.

73 de Dick N4BC

DMR Stuff

I just finished doing radio for the first time this week. Somehow, I just couldn’t get motivated to turn on a radio until our weekly DMR net tonight on TG 31515, Tidewater VA. Each week, we have a few more join us … this week we had thirteen check ins. As the word gets out, people who are interested drift in on Thursday evening at 9 PM.

Most of the discussion tonight was on DMR programming … specifically simplex programming. WZ4K had some pearls of wisdom to impart, and thanks to him for his research and for passing it on. The official DMR simplex frequency for the Virginia Beach Hamfest is 441.000 MHz. I’m really looking forward to the hamfest this year. It’s a chance to put some faces to the net members. WZ4K, Howard, will also be presenting a SKYWARN forum, so that’ll be interesting. I think I mentioned in a previous post that the forums actually interest me more than the sales at the hamfests. There’s also a forum on Mesh Networking that I want to attend.

73 de Dick N4BC

Lots of Action Yesterday

I was pretty busy yesterday afternoon after work. I downloaded the software for the new FT8CALL and installed it, and then fired it up. It’s a very easy setup, especially if you’re already running FT8 … it’s almost identical. I’ll have to admit, keeping track of all the functions and following the QSOs on the screen can be confusing at first … there’s lots going on. It’s really essential to read the documentation first and then keep it handy to refer to. Will it become a popular mode? I don’t know … it is sort of a ragchew mode, and many don’t seem to be interested in interacting beyond the minimal exchange, but time will see. It does have its place.

Last night, we had our weekly DMR net on TG 31515 (Tidewater, VA), with a good, lively crowd and some interesting discussions. We hesitate to call it a “net” … it’s more of a very loose roundtable. Very casual compared to a formal net. We had eleven area hams check in, which was a record, I believe. We discussed “Static TGs vs Dynamic TGs, a Meet-Up at the Virginia Beach Hamfest on the 6th of September, Talkgroups vs reflectors. I noticed that a couple of the guys were showing up as unidentified on my display, which reminded me that I hadn’t updated the DMR user database in my HT for a while. I did a quick download of the data into my portable and VOILA! … they were no longer unknown!

The DMR 31515 Thursday Night Group keeps growing. If you’re a participant, invite a friend! Everybody is welcome! If you’re not a participant, here’s an open invitation to just ‘holler’ at us when we pause for people checking in.

We also talked about a local DMR simplex frequency and decided that we would adopt 441.0000 (TG99,TS1,CC1) as our common simplex frequency. We’ll try it out and see if we can find each other at the hamfest in a few weeks.

73 de Dick N4BC

Holy Cow! Another Win!!

You may remember, not too long ago I mentioned that I had won the Icom HamNation weekly “swag” contest. Well, they take all the weekly winners and draw for a monthly Grand Prize. I WON THIS MONTH!!! The Grand Prize is an Icom ID-51A Plus 2 D-Star transceiver. Thank you, Icom!

I’m just starting to get a reasonable understanding of DMR, and now I’ve got to learn about D-Star, too! Well, they say the way to stay young and keep your wits is to challenge and exercise your brain. Thank you again, Icom!! You’re obviously thinking about my mental health!

Last night was our monthly club meeting, and Charlie, WB4PVT, did a presentation on connectors … PL-259 vs Type N. Even an old-timer like me learned a few new things. I also picked up my ticket from Rob, KE4JDY, for the Virginia Beach Hamfest in early September. There’s a forum on implementing a mesh network that looks interesting.

You know, I find that I’m becoming less interested in the equipment for sale at the hamfests and more interested in the forums. There’s a lot of good knowledge presented. And, it sometimes leads you in new directions … that’s how I got interested in amateur DMR.

I haven’t done a lot of operating this week. Lots of reasons (excuses?) … Thunderstorms, other commitments, and just pure, unadulterated laziness. Hopefully this weekend will bring some relief from my static state.

73 de Dick N4BC