Were you ready?

Photo: Scott Hinrichs

The past 30 days has been pretty gnarly. With saturated ground, flooded intersections, closed roads, mud slides, power outages, etc. – How did you prepare? Many folks in the Hollister area were forced to abandon their homes. Falling trees knocked out power all over the county and beyond. The SBCARA teams were busy with multiple activations and rescues. So. Where you ready?

Field Day!

2016 Field Day LogoJoin GVARC on Saturday, June 25th, at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy for the annual ARRL Field Day (not really a contest) Contest. We will be running 4A with a GOTA station this year. We have added 2 mobile towers to our operations. 1 50 ft trailer-ed tower, and a second trailer-ed tower that can go to 100′! We will be using N3FJP logging software, and operating on batteries. Stop by and say hi!

Set-up begins at around 8 AM
On The Air begins at 11 AM
Break Down will begin around 8-9 PM.

WB6ZVW Back On The Air!

Several volunteers made their way up to Crystal Peak to replace the aging, and malfunctioning WB6ZVW repeater. Dave (K7DAA), our benevolent repeater guru, along with his minions for the day, Brent (W6BWJ), Ray (KJ6VTP), Bryce (KI6HJE), and our GVARC club president, Don (KA6AUR) climbed to the top of Crystal Peak with a couple of truck loads of tools and equipment, some sandwiches from the Summit Store (I highly recommend the Turkey and Brie), and made a day of it.

The weather mostly cooperated as the forecast called for rain. Luckily we only had light rain or sprinkles intermittently while we were at the site. The other challenge was that with the low clouds, we were unable to see W6GGF to align the internet up-links. Some Googling, and some math gave us an approximate bearing and declination. With that in hand we were also able to mount the new Ubiquity Rocket M5 wireless bridge. W6BWJ and KJ6VTP will hopefully complete the up-link in the coming days.

The new gear, housed in a new cabinet, consists of 220 amp hours of fresh batteries, an RLC-DSP404 controller, Kenwood TKR-850 repeater, Echolink/IRLP computer, and Astron power supply, as well as a host of other support goodies for power control, pre-amp, and remote control.

It was a long day. I think we finally reached home around 7:30 PM. The new and improved WB6ZVW sounds great. Tune up 442.500 + PL 100 and try it out! This is a great amateur resource for the Bay Area and beyond, back on the air, and working great.

Many thanks to all those that contributed to the project, both inside and outside of GVARC. And special thanks to Scott, KB6UOO for helping us at the site that day.

2016-05-07 17.42.50

New Hotness…

Old and Busted

Old and Busted

KI6HJE gives some pointers on wire management.

KI6HJE gives some pointers on wire management.

Crystal Peak

Crystal Peak

Our heads were in the clouds as we brought WB6ZVW back on the air.

Our heads were in the clouds as we brought WB6ZVW back on the air.

W6BWJ works on final touches...

W6BWJ works on final touches…

K7DAA and W6BWJ give the final approval and WB6ZVW is back on the air.

K7DAA and W6BWJ give the final approval and WB6ZVW is back on the air.

Updated Frequency Lists

Newly updated frequency lists have been updated to the frequencies page. There are 2 lists currently posted. There is the full, 250 channel, CSV for use with RTS software. There is also a 120 channel list CSV that is compatible with CHIRP for programming a wide selection of radios that only support 128 channels. A full 250 channel version of the list compatible with CHIRP will be posted soon.

Antenna Repairs

It was a dark and stormy night… Well, ok, it was daytime, and it wasn’t that dark, but there were clouds, and it was raining somewhere.

We had just completed our monthly breakfast meeting and it was decided that was a good time to wrangle some help to raise the W6GGF antenna to address some coverage changes from when the antenna came down previously due to a mounting pole failure. The new mount is 10′ of 1-1/2″ galvanized pipe into 10′ of 1-1/4′ pipe. This new configuration raises the antenna about 8′ higher than where it was originally. So far the signal reports are favorable of the change. Thanks to everyone that helped with the change! Woody (K6WWS), Larry (W6LWC, Ray (KJ6VTP), and Bill (KK6MEN).


Calendar Entries Off Line


The calendar is temporarily offline.  Google made a change to the calendar feeds which broke the widget that displays them here on our site.  The developer should have a fix shortly.  As soon as we get an update, the calendar feeds will work again.  – KJ6VTP

GGF History – Antenna Repair

Old Antenna-Repair2An early morning phone call, mid July, 2014, from the repeater site owner, shocked us with the information that the antenna for the GGF repeater was laying on the ground. The owner’s first thoughts were vandalism, but on closer inspection he found that rot and an army of termites had precipitated the event.

That post was in the ground prior to the author’s amateur license which dates back to 1994. After some discussion, a decision was made to replace the old post with a new treated one. Just before that plan came to fruition, we found that concrete and a steel pipe would be cheaper (and more permanent than another wooden post). Those treated things really aint cheap. The old post remains were dug out of the ground leaving a hole 12 to 14 inches in diameter and over 4 feet deep.

A 3’ by 12” diameter concrete form was placed in the hole and a 7’ long 2” pipe was pounded into the ground near the center of the form and left extending 2’ above the concrete form. There is a bolt through the 2” pipe 5’ from the top to stop the mast at a predetermined level. After that almost 400 pounds of concrete were mixed and poured into and around the form. (Eat your heart out termites) After the concrete was set, the antenna cable conduit from the repeater was repaired, and then the connection box was mounted to the new post.

The coax cable had to be repaired were it sustained a 90 degree bend when the post fell. The original 15’ mast pipe was lifted and inserted into the 2” pipe and the antenna coax reconnected. The antenna is now 3’ closer to the ground but since it spent over 3 weeks mounted to a gate post without any noticeable signal effect the new height was determined to be sufficient.

During the “fall” the impact with the nearby fence and ice plants caused no damage to the antenna. The wireless dish antenna to our internet provider didn’t fair quite as well. The center horn shattered – so the dish was dismounted and returned to them for a replacement.

Our understanding is that the dish was repaired but then used to solve one of their emergencies so we are still waiting for a replacement at this time. Not a real problem as the repeater can still be programmed via radio signals when necessary.

A sincere “Thank you” goes out the site owner, Larry Carr, a new ham now, for all his work, tool loans and help during the repairs. Also thanks to the other workers Brent Jenkins, Pat Moore and Woody Woodruff for their efforts.

What is in your Go-Kit?

photoDo you even have a Go-Kit?

The Go-Kit is one of those “ham things” that everyone in emcomm (Emergency Communications) talks about. But how many of us that participate in the weekly net actually have one ready to “go”?  I have the beginnings of a “portable” station.  Some of you have seen it at Field Day.  But I do not have everything I need to deploy (Portable antennas, cables, etc).  It is very much a work in progress.

How much is too much? If you Google “go kit” and click on the images, you will see a huge range of what folks consider a go-kit. Some are quite minimalist and others are of the “..and the kitchen sink” variety. You will have to decide what will work best for you. And when the time comes that you need your kit, you will find that in all likelihood, your kit either had things you didn’t need, or was missing things you did need.

The important thing is to simply have one.  Take a few moments to gather some basic items and put them together so when the need arises you can “go”.  The most likely scenario we will have is a seismic event.  SBCARA.org has some good documents on go-kits.  And Google has lots of information.  What are the most likely items needed?  Here are some items to get you thinking about your kit.

  • Dual band radio
  • Frequency lists
  • Spare, charged, batteries
  • Microphone or earpiece
  • A gain antenna (something other than the stock ducky)
  • A thing called a Tiger Tail is handy, I’ve heard.
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Personal First Aid Kit
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Hearing protection
  • Snack bars
  • Water and/or Water filtration
  • Change of clothes (Spare t-shirt)
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Water resistant notepad
  • Pens and pencils
  • Sun screen
  • Hat