2017 Nashville Maker Faire

On behalf of Dave, a followup to our Nashville Mini Maker Faire presentation organized by Dave Matthews, KI4PSR.

The Maker Faire ( https://nashville.makerfaire.com/ ) was held at Vanderbilt University, the weekend of September 30th – October 1st.

Dave had help from:

Paul,   KN4BTJ
Mike,   KJ4TOP
Janise, KK4HTA
David,  KK4CQD

Laura and Joe Marler lent their excellent and easy-to-use tent for the occasion.

The primary focus was Dave presenting the BitX-40 rig which is a perfect radio for a maker faire. Dave talked about the radio and background of the project and showed off the components and a number of builds and pictures of the wide range of housings developed by WCARES members. He managed to give away a good number of 3D-printed BitX mic housings he’d printed – blue was so popular he spent Saturday night printing more for Sunday.

Mike and Paul demonstrated building a BitX while Janise headed up promoting the ARRL and WCARES.

We had a steady stream of interested visitors both days including about 26 hams and a number of WCARES members.

Presenting the BitX and promoting amateur radio, the ARRL and WCARES together worked well. We were able to attract visitors with a wider range of interests and questions, from hardware to software, questions about amateur radio and licensing as well as ARES and emergency and community service.

We also showed off the NVIS antenna build that Cliff, N4CCB organized – together with the BitX-40, a number of visitors could see that it was easy and inexpensive to Get On The Air!

We all had a great time and look forward to doing similar events in the future.



2017 Tennessee QSO Party

The time is near for one of the most fun ham events of the year — the Tennessee QSO Party.
What makes this a fun party is that Tennessee hams are on the receiving end of calls from other
hams around the country (and occasionally outside the country).

Date and Time
The contest is Sunday, September 3, 2017
The operating hours are 2 PM local time (1800 UTC) until 11 PM (0300 UTC, Sep 4)
We will operate from the Williamson Co. Emergency Operations Center (where we have Chew&Chat)

We definitely will have at least one phone station.
If there is enough interest, we also will have a CW station and possibly a second phone station.

If you want to participate, please send an e-mail to phil@philsherrod.com (W4PHS) with this information:
1. Your name
2. Your callsign
3. Your ham license class (Technician class hams are welcome)
4. Your e-mail address
5. Your phone number
6. Whether you want to work phone and/or CW
7. The hours you are available to work (please be flexible)
8. If there is someone you want to partner with, their callsign

Field Day 2017 Is In The Books

This years field day is in the books and based on feedback from everyone involved it was a resounding success.

The event was held at the Williamson County Public Safety Center.  Please watch the embedded video for more information.


Bed Spring Dipole Experiment

A group of Antenna Enthusiasts recently gathered at Brentwood’s Dyer Observatory to test out what is described as an “Antenna Folly Experiment” brought forward by none other than our own KI4PSR.

Strategic HF Propagation by KB9DKR

Carl Sibilski (KB9DKR) Delivered a knockout presentation at the March Chew & Chat held at the Williamson County Public Safety Center. The presentation describes various tools and techniques for strategically accounting for HF Propagation. You can view the slides from Carl’s presentation below.

2017 Training & Equipment Questionnaire

Attn. WCARES Members:  Have you completed the 2017 Training & Equipment Questionnaire?  If not then please click here to submit your information.  It will only take a few moments.  Completion of this survey is mandatory.

300GHz Band Offers Promise Of “Faster Than Fiber” Data Speeds

Scientists at Hiroshima University, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, have announced the development of a transmitter capable of moving over 100 Gigabits (0.01 Tarabit) per second within the 300GHz band (290 GHz to 315 GHz). To put this in perspective one could transmit the entire contents of a DVD in just a fraction of a second or transfer enough data to completely fill the average laptop hard drive in a few seconds.

This segment of the band is currently unallocated but expected to be the subject of discussion at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2019 under the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Section (ITU-R).

Read More via Panasonic.

2017 License Classes

The 2017 license classes have been announced and will take place every consecutive Saturday from Saturday February 4th, 2017 through Saturday Marth 11th, 2017. 

The classes will focus on review material with the goal of training up individuals wishing to take the Technician license class or the General license class.

Seating will be limited and participants are encouraged to sign up for the class they wish to participate in.

Contact Dallas Clement for Tech class
Contact Tim Kreth for General class

To signup for a class please use the form below.

Severe Weather Procedures

WCARES Severe Weather Procedures

Severe weather in Middle Tennessee can come in many forms to include severe thunderstorms, tornados, snow, sleet and ice.  The local commercial broadcast radio and TV stations do an excellent job in warning residents about possible severe weather conditions.  For WCARES members the important thing to remember is that whenever a severe weather watch or warning is issued for Williamson County you should monitor the repeater system.  Remember, if we activate the weather net, we do not take check-ins.  We know you are there.  We will monitor and send out updates immediately from NWS, etc.  If you wish to monitor online, the Nashville NWS information can be found at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ohx/.  Please only send reports that meet standard reporting criteria, shown below. The WCARES EC and members of the Planning Committee are routinely included in severe weather webinars with the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Old Hickory.  The EC and Planning Committee have procedures in place to deal with severe weather events that might affect not only our county but the entire Middle Tennessee area.  The normal day to day status for everyone is “Normal”.  When severe weather is approaching we may shift to the “Stand-By” mode which means we are at a higher level of awareness.  You may still use the repeater system but keep your transmissions short and leave some extra time between your transmissions so the Net Control operator can break in if necessary.  Net Control operators will make regular announcements on the repeater concerning the weather threat and the anticipated time that Williamson County might be affected.  A liaison link between the county and the NWS office will already be established and a plan is in place to address the specific weather threat.  If the weather threat is serious enough to warrant, the Net Control operator will announce that our weather net is now “Active”.  When this happens, formal net procedures apply and you should not use the repeater to make any calls without getting permission from the Net Control operator.  The Net Control will normally not take check-ins but he will take reports of the specific conditions that need to be reported to the NWS.


Reporting Severe Weather
Spotters provide an invaluable service to their communities and to the National Weather Service.
Spotter reports help your community by assisting local public safety officials in making critical decisions to protect lives – when to sound sirens, activate safety plans, etc.
Spotter reports also help the NWS in the warning process. Your report becomes part of the warning decision making process, and is combined with radar data and other information and used by NWS forecasters to decide whether or not to:

  • Issue a new warning
  • Cancel an existing warning
  • Continue a warning
  • Issue a warning for the next county
  • Change the warning type (from severe thunderstorm to tornado, for example)

For your reports to be the most useful, they should be as detailed, accurate and timely as possible.  Use the guidelines below to help you make your report:

Although reporting criteria may vary slightly depending on the spotter network and local needs, these are the events the National Weather Service would like to know about as soon as possible:

  • FUNNEL CLOUD, if organized, persistent, sustained rotation
  • WALL CLOUD, if organized, persistent, sustained rotation
  • HAIL, quarter size or larger, report the largest size hailstone
  • WIND GUSTS, 58 mph or higher, specify estimate or measurement
  • FLOODING, flooding that impacts roads, homes or businesses.
    Damage to structures (roof, siding, windows, etc.)
    Damage to vehicles (from hail or wind)
    Trees or large limbs down
    Power/telephone poles or lines down
    Damage to farm equipment, machinery, etc.

Again, reports should provide as much detail as possible to describe the where, when, how, etc. of the event.
Some commonly used hail sizes
Pea .25 inch
Half-inch .50 inch
Dime .75 inch
Nickel .88 inch
Quarter 1.00 inch
Half Dollar 1.25 inch
Ping Pong Ball 1.50 inch
Golf Ball 1.75 inch
Hen Egg 2.00 inch
Tennis Ball 2.50 inch
Baseball 2.75 inch
Tea Cup 3.00 inch
Grapefruit 4.00 inch
Softball 4.50 inch

General Guidelines for Estimating Wind Speeds
30-44 mph (26-39 kt) Whole trees in motion. Inconvenient walking into the wind. Light-weight loose objects (e.g., lawn furniture) tossed or toppled.
45-57 mph (39-49 kt) Large trees bend; twigs, small limbs break and a few larger dead or weak branches may break. Old/weak structures (e.g., sheds, barns) may sustain minor damage (roof, doors). Buildings partially under construction may be damaged. A few loose shingles removed from houses.
58-74 mph (50-64 kt) Large limbs break; shallow rooted trees pushed over. Semi-trucks overturned. More significant damage to old/weak structures. Shingles, awnings removed from houses; damage to chimneys and antennas.
75-89 mph (65-77 kt) Widespread damage to trees with large limbs down or trees broken/uprooted. Mobile homes may be pushed off foundation or overturned. Roof may be partially peeled off industrial/commercial/ warehouse buildings. Some minor roof damage to homes. Weak structures (e.g., farm buildings, airplane hangars) may be severely damaged.
90+ mph (78+ kt) Many large trees broken and uprooted. Mobile homes damaged. Roofs partially peeled off homes and buildings. Moving automobiles pushed off the road. Barns, sheds demolished.

Your severe weather report should be detailed but concise, and should address the following questions:
WHAT did you see?
WHERE did you see it?   Report the location/approximate location of the event. Be sure to distinguish clearly between where you are and where the event is thought to be happening (“I’m 5 miles north of Mayberry. The tornado looks to be about 5 miles to my northwest”).
WHEN did you see it?   Be sure that reports that are relayed through multiple sources carry the time of the event, NOT the report time.
Any other details that are important – How long did it last? Direction of travel? Was there damage? etc.

Give your data port equipped mobile inexpensive APRS functionality

Back in September, I came across a great write-up on how a gentleman out west by the name of Kristoffer Smith used a Mobilinkd TNC, APRSDroid, and the data port on their Kenwood TM-V71A to add full APRS functionality to their mobile rig. With Harpeth River Ride quickly approaching, I thought I’d share that article. Imagine having the functionality of a Kenwood D-710 with AvMap GPS for the price of a normal mobile rig, a $60 TNC, and your Android smartphone or tablet from a few years back that was otherwise gathering dust somewhere.