Meeting Minutes - September 29, 2007

Nixa Amateur Radio Club, Inc.
September 2007 Meeting Minutes

Members Present: ( Members)

Visitors: ( Visitor)

Meeting commenced by President Chris Cochran at 5:30 p.m.

James Adkins, KB0NHX, and Jeremy Tannehill, KC0UJZ, gave a briefing of the technical committee meeting held earlier in the day. James advised that we will be working on upgrading the EchoLink connection in Nixa so it operates more like a regular radio. It will consist of a new UHF link to the EchoLink host’s house and will be connected to the link port of the controller. A new interface that features DTMF re-generation and flat audio instead of line-level audio will be used to enhance the transmitted and received audio from EchoLink. Users will notice that they do not have to wait until the repeater drops to answer, thus even further eliminating delays. When we are done, you will have a hard time discerning whether a station is on EchoLink or RF.

Jeremy Tannehill, KC0UJZ, discussed the new linking project that will allow us to link all 4 repeaters together through the 444.275 repeater. This will consist of installing a UHF radio on the 444.275 pair both at the 2m site and the 6m site. The 224.280 repeater will simply link up through the controller. This will allow us to have IRLP or EchoLink on any repeater we wish and we won’t be limited to using it on a single repeater.

As for IRLP, it will be permanently installed on the 224.280 repeater and will be hosted by Jeff Kerr, KC0VGC. We are seeking permission to install the UHF yagi at the same time as the 220 vertical.

Lastly, Jeremy advised he will be meeting with Cox South officials in the coming weeks to hopefully get permission to install the 224.280 atop the hospital.

James then went over the survey results that were sent out earlier this summer. Though he’d liked to have seen a better return rate, 33.3% is generally acceptable for these types of polls. See results below.

Meeting adjourned at 5:48 p.m. (18 minutes)



2007 State of the Club Survey Results

Surveys received: 11
Total Membership: 33 (not counting officers)
Percent of surveys returned from general membership: 33.3%

Question 1: Do you feel the repeaters ID too often, that they should ID only when in use or is the current programming satisfactory?

Responses Received:

One good reason to ID frequently is so out of town visitors will know the repeater is here. If visitors are just tuning through the spectrum and hear nothing they will just keep going.

Satisfactory.

No, they don't ID too often. I think it's about right. Listened to it for six hours during the ADA ride. I don’t find it annoying. The 6m and 440 are fine as well.

They should ID every 15 minutes. (educational note: This is not legal while a repeater is in operation per Part 97 rules)

Too Often.

Repeaters should ID in accordance with FCC rules / regulations. Every 8 - 10 minutes in my mind is ideal. If a person is talking, the repeater should be programmed to ID once the person drops their mic. If a person starts to talk over the repeater's ID, the repeater should then transmit the ID in Morse code.

Current programming is fine with me.

During the day announcements are good. Weather announcements are most desirable when they are accurate. During night hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) the repeater should talk only when used. This way a few of us can leave the radio on and monitor in case someone needs help. You won’t be disturbed every 5 minutes throughout the night.

Current programming satisfactory.

Officers' Response: Of the responses, 4 of the 11 thought the current programming was ok. Therefore, we saw fit to make some changes to the programming. Unfortunately, the 145.270 controller has quite a few limitations compared to the 53.270 controller, so we couldn't follow the recommendations to the tee. The 145.270 now does not transmit a voice ID and it does not beacon the callsign every 10 minutes as before. We simply get CW ID on the repeater every 10 minutes only while in use. We cannot make it beacon once per hour. The 53.270 repeater has been set to CW ID and it only sends CW ID every 10 minutes while in operation, just like the 145.270. However, we do have a scheduler that allows us to beacon in voice the repeater callsign. Therefore, it was programmed to beacon the call and time on the hour once an hour. The repeater was set to not beacon the callsign and time during the overnight hours.



Question 2: Should the 145.270 continue to beacon the weather conditions every 30 minutes when the repeater is not in use or should they only be able to be accessed by DTMF tone?

Responses Received:

Change the time to every hour. If people are complaining about the 30 minutes, where are they? I listen to the repeater most of the day and hear nobody on it -- 'cept me now and then.

Yes, every 30 minutes.

Maybe once an hour or so and on demand.

DTMF only.

DTMF (radios already have 162.400)

Fine with me for continued weather announcements.

DTMF but make the codes available to everyone.

During the day hours only as long as the info is right.

Every 30 minutes if possible.

Officers' Response: The weather station beacon was shut off. The controller allows it to beacon once every 30 minutes when the repeater is not in use and that is not changeable, so it is now only accessible via DTMF tones which are published on our club website, www.nixahams.net , for everyone to utilize. Please remember to ID anytime you access the weather station for data. You do not have to be a club member to utilize the repeater or the weather station.



Question 3: What attracted you to become a member of NARC and how do you feel we could better attract quality new members?

Responses Received:

I had heard good things about NARC so decided I should visit. I am glad that I did! As for attracting new members, try advertising in the Nixa newspaper -- every week!

We are a close bunch of guys.

I worked with Chris and had an interest in ham radio. I think we have a diverse group of members. However, I like the idea of families getting involved, like the father and son we had visit last meeting. They are eager to learn and don't carry a great deal of ham radio bias. By that I mean, they don't try to tell you why they know so much more than you, or how you build your antennas wrong.

The younger demo eager to have fun. The acceptance of new ham technology. The social experience.

No suggestions, NARC is "The Model" for other local clubs.

Age of club members - close to mine. Most clubs I’ve been with in the past have all had members much, much older than me, and I never felt all that part of things. Other clubs have had open “bickering” at meetings, and I’ve not seen that with the Nixa club.

I'm not a member.

I want to support all local clubs. Don't make the meetings so boring. Print the business info and pass it out at the meeting and e-mail it. Use the meeting time as a learning experience. Have people come in and lecture on different aspects of Ham Radio. Mentor and Elmer.

What attracts me to NARC is the few active members are doers. In order to attract new members we must have a change of direction. I know some of the older members have left over the constant drum of repeaters, repeaters, repeaters. Now that Morse Code has been dropped, many members have upgraded to General Class, but not any further. We need to start teaching new upgrades the fundamentals of HF, so they will not be afraid to get on the air. The older members are willing to teach as long as the new ops are willing to learn. We need to limit the meeting time to 15-20 minutes tops, a training session for the same period of time, and more time for socializing (chips, dip, soda).

Officers' Response: The only real suggestions that came from this were more "ham related" stuff and not as much business. We have tried very hard the last few months to only discuss the pertinent information. Though newsletters and the website are a good way to communicate business items, we feel that those are not sufficient alone. Face-to-face communications are always the best and that way questions can be raised at that time about the business happenings of the club. We also feel this is what sets us apart from other clubs in that we lay it all out there for our membership so they know what's going on and can have immediate input. Out of these suggestions, we are allowing for an open floor / socialization period during each meeting. So far it has been very well accepted.



Question 4: If you haven’t attended a meeting lately, why?

Responses Received:

I am there at almost every meeting if at all possible.

I have been lately

I have . . .. It's the officers you have to worry about

Too busy. Family, work, and out of town.

Not a priority, time-wise.

I try to attend when I can. However, I'm now working Saturdays, so there may be a few I can't make. I do try to come as a VE when possible.

I'm not a member.

I was absolutely bored to death.

Not applicable. I'm always there.

Officers' Response: As we figured, time is the main issue we face. Though being a younger group of hams is a benefit, it is also the main reason people don’t attend from time to time. Having young families and having to work cause us to miss meetings. Though we really can’t do anything to help this, we felt this was something we needed to ask.



Question 5: What would you like to see the club do? More info on HF, APRS, or other topics? Repeaters on different bands? More social activities?

Responses Received:

Is anyone interested in using packet on 2 meters? I use packet on a net every Monday evening at 7 P.M. on 145.090 MHz. Billie, KB0WSA, is net control (she is in Branson).

Would like to see more info on HF, APRS, etc and more social events. I don’t see a need for any more repeaters.

Honestly, I really like to learn about new things. I don't think we need to have a rigid class schedule, but a look at this cool thing is neat once in a while. Everyone has a passion, we should share them occasionally. On the repeaters, I'm neutral, but certainly support growth into new bands.

Social activities with other clubs. APRS and HF.

We have repeaters we don't use now. I tried ten days in a row to get a response on 2m to no avail. Perhaps a more technical training toward packet, echolink, HF, etc. . . .

Fox hunting, public classes on kit-building or special projects, antenna building and a BBQ here and there . . . some things like that.

I have no idea about what you have to offer to make a comment.

Be more open to other area clubs and have joint activities, strange antenna event picnics, fox hunts, advanced weather spotting, etc.

We need more social activities. The more we get to know each other the less chance that disagreements will occur. This will unite the club as a group of hams that will be willing to be more involved in future activities. This is key to our relationship; just talking on the radio is not enough.

Officers' Response: We have heard your requests and have already begun implementing them. At the August meeting, we had a demonstration on packet. At the September meeting, we will be getting a demo on HDTV along with a field trip to the KYTV tower site and a BBQ social event. October will give us a demo on D* by Mike Ballantyne, KC5MNP. November will feature our annual Thanksgiving meeting at Pizza Hut in Nixa with nomination for the new Secretary, and December will be our annual "Christmas Meeting" at the residence of one of our club members. Future demonstrations on APRS, HF and Satellite operation are in the works. A social picnic is also in the works with SMARC / SMARL / MWECA slated for October for those interested in that. As far as repeaters, I can understand that calling with no one answering being a problem. As officers, when we are listening we try to answer anyone we hear and at least say hi and go back about our business. Also, our repeaters have basically become "drive time" repeaters with small groups gathering on them from time to time. There is some activity during the evening, but not as much as in the past. The repeaters are there for any licensed amateur to use. If you want more activity on them, it takes people getting on them and talking. It’s amazing when two people get together and start talking on a repeater the next thing you know 2 or 3 more join you. But, the average ham that scans the bands will not stop on our repeaters and listen if no one is talking. We encourage you to use the repeaters as much as possible. After the 224.280 repeater goes on the air, we really don't have many other options for repeaters that we could put up. The whole idea is to give people options to try out different bands. Honestly, who would invest in 220 gear without a repeater to try it out with? Same can be said about 440 and other bands. Though you may not have an interest in 220 MHz now, maybe you will in the future. It's simply a different aspect of propagation we can all learn.



Question 6: Are there any projects (proposed or not proposed) that you would have an interest in helping with, such as station install at the Fire Department, planning a Sucker Days special event station, etc.?

Responses Received:

Let the younger hams do these things so they can also learn how at the same time.

Yes, Possibly.

I like the idea of installing a radio at the Fire Department. Special events are neat, but work best in larger groups. We grow the club, we have many to help.

Since I am on the Sucker Day Planning Committee . . . I would like to see a Sucker Day station. I would also like to see more club members and officials participate in other’s special events. Example: Titanic Special Event.

No.

I'm open to helping with various communication needs (e.g., special events) when my schedule allows. I'm very interested in disaster communications. I'm also interested in any kind of medical-ham liaison work (since I work in the medical field).

We need an HF base station for general and emergency use and for encouragement and training of new hams. The Nixa Fire Department would be the most logical location if we can get clearance.

Fox hunts!!!

I would love to help install at station at the Fire Department.

All of these are great projects; you know I will be available for any of them.

Officers’ Response: Looks like we need to proceed with the HF station at the Fire Department. The Fire Chief actually requested we do this, so we already have clearance, just need to work out the details and come up with some equipment. And, since we have a Sucker Day committee member in the club, we will work toward having a special event station at Sucker Day in 2008. If you are interested in working on either of these projects, contact a club officer today at [email protected]



Question 7: Are meetings too long or too short and do they convey the information you think they should?

Responses Received:

NARC meetings last about as long as most other clubs and I like what I hear from the officers.

About the right length.

Actually, they are just about right. I like the latest structure. Not too long and good fellowship.

Should be no longer than 1 hour unless a special "how to" is part of the program.

Have only been to one meeting so far.

This varies. Some meetings have obviously gone longer than others. I wish some meetings could be held on a weeknight rather than a Saturday. But, whatever works for most.

I feel the building of small projects and mentoring by Allen Busiek and others is a great idea to continue with.

No comment.

It's a matter of time, it's how you make that time interesting.

The meetings have been too long, as stated in my previous answer.

Officers' Response: We are trying very hard to keep the actual "business" portion of the meetings to 20 to 30 minutes max, allowing for 30 minutes of open floor / socialization time. So far this has gone well. Allen Busiek and anyone else that has a passion for a particular aspect of ham radio is more than welcome to come to the meeting and give a presentation for everyone to learn from. We only ask 2 things: As soon as you decide you want to do a demonstration, contact one of us at [email protected] and let us know so we can get you into the agenda for a meeting. Second, please keep the demonstration to 30 to 45 minutes if possible so we can keep meetings within the 1-hour to 1:15 minute time slot we are aiming for.



Question 8: If you haven’t been coming to meetings lately, is there something we can change that would interest you to come again?

Responses Received:

I am there at almost every meeting if at all possible.

I have been, not applicable.

Actually, I'd like to hear some of the old Pizza Hut stories with you and Morrissey

Meetings are good to go to when there is a planning session for an upcoming activity or event. I'm not interested in talking business.

Time is critical.

If I can't come, it's a matter of time and schedule. Actually, I'd like to find more time to get on the air! That way people might get to know me better.

I'm not a member.

Less business and more ham radio related learning.

Not applicable. I'm at every meeting.

Officers' Response: All these requests are being addressed and you should be seeing a difference already. Meetings are trying to be kept as close to the 1-hour mark as possible to allow social time afterwards and groups to go out and eat supper if they please afterwards. We are also trying to make them less boring and more ham related by bringing in people with a passion for a particular sect of ham radio to speak at our meetings. Again, anytime you have a recommendation for a subject, let us know. You don’t have to be the expert to talk; we can find someone (hopefully!). Again, a quick e-mail to [email protected] would be great.



Question 9: Are you happy with club leadership? Do you feel they do what is in the best interest in the club and help promote ham radio in general?

Responses Received:

I'm Happy!

I am happy with club leadership and think you do well to promote ham radio in general.

I really think so. Sadly enough, it's just like any other club. There is always going to be someone who thinks they know how to do it better. Ham radio is supposed to be fun. I think as long as we geek out on ham radio and keep politics as free of as possible we will continue to thrive. Regarding leadership, yep, you guys do a good job. As long as we stay positive and professional, we will succeed and have fun.

I would like to see improvement and focused effort to work with other clubs and hams in the area. To build a strong partnership and relationship with the entire ham community. You need to be aware of this: There is a "perceived" spirit of competition with other clubs and hams in the area. There is also an impression that the club is closed-minded to "non club official" ideas, suggestions or activities. Remember, perception is REALITY to some. Finally, I would like to see the NARC president be more active on and off the radio. This would help build the club and attract younger hams to the hobby.

Great leadership, with a real "drive" for increasing other's involvement in the hobby.

I'm not aware of any problems. Everyone seems to advocate for the club’s development and the enhancement of Ham Radio in general.

As a new ham that got my license at your club, and not being a member of any club, I have gone to other club’s meetings. My advice to them is to quit being so political about things. Ham radio is fun. Who cares if you are an Extra or whatever class you may be. I know techs that are better operators than some generals or extras. I mean seriously, do they have to make ham radio a political fiasco??

I believe that the club leadership is sincere in their efforts. Where they fail is not teaching ham radio, the leadership needs to setup more gatherings that involve hands-on learning of ham radio.

Yes to all. I think the leadership has done a great job. However, there has been mention of the President's position coming available due to his jobs, family and family activities. That this position will become available to all in November 2008, a year and a half from now. My question is, if all these things are in the way now, and he feels he is not being an effective leader, then why should the election not take place in November 2007? If all is in the "best interest" of the club, should the current President consider stepping down? Chris has done a great job, is a very likeable person, and a good friend. I ask these questions so he will know more of his intentions for the future of the club.

Officers' Response: In this area, the majority (9 of 11) feel that we are doing a good job representing you as a club. We strive for integrity--if we say we'll do it, then we will. And, as people you elected to represent the club and make business and other decisions, we feel it is our responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the club first and foremost while also doing our best to promote ham radio in general. Sometimes, as one response indicated, it gives a perception of close-mindedness or competition with other clubs, which is not true. Competition, in our minds, is not always a bad thing as it pushes all ham clubs and individual parties to do better which ends up being good for ham radio in general. Our goal is to simply look out for and do what's best for our membership first and foremost. As this survey indicates, we are sincere in looking for input from our membership. The changes that have already been made are proof that we care and are open-minded and care about your opinions. We plan on making this survey a yearly pursuit in hopes of keeping the club up with the changing personalities and members that choose to be a part of the club. As officers, we'd like to see more people willing to serve in leadership. Each year a position comes open. Our example of a leader is someone that is a doer, leads by example and has unquestionable integrity--you must be dedicated to making the Nixa ARC a better club and 100% dedicated to our club, that's the least the membership should expect. When a project is brought up, leaders are the first to get their hands dirty and start working instead of first looking for someone else to do the work. Leaders cannot do all the work, but should be expected to be a part of it and not simply a dictator. We feel as long as we follow our philosophy of doing the best we can at ham radio and doing our own "thing", we won't be plagued with the politics some other organizations look for and enjoy.



We would like to thank everyone for your input. It has been read and acted upon. We hope more of you will become more active and willing to give input not only at meetings but also on nets and through e-mail. Your thoughts and ideas are always welcomed! Thank you for everything you do to make this not only a great club but also a great group of people to be around.