Meeting Minutes - March 25, 2006

Nixa Amateur Radio Club, Inc.
March 2006 Meeting Minutes

Members Present: (21 Members) James Adkins, KB0NHX; Jim Adkins, KC0IYI; Kim Adkins, KC0GKP; Bill Chambers, N0MBW; Chris Cochran, KB0WZC; J. R. Duncan, N0RLP; Dean Gaines, KC0SQD; Al Gallo, W0ERE; Joe Hargis, WS0E; Justin Harris, KC0VJJ; Dick Higinbotham, K0GL; Jerry Johnson, KE0KI; Jeff Kerr, KC0VGC; Rod Kittleman, K0ADI; Bill McNamee, KB0WHN; Jeff Morrissey, KB0WVT; Doug Schumpert, K0DPS; Jeremy Tannehill, KC0UJZ; Rich Vogt, KB9YZE; David Williams, KE7ABH; Clint Wood, KC7TUE.

Visitors: (7 Visitors) Michael Blake, N0NQW; Tony Celeste, KC0THQ; Bob Hessee, N0XJJ; Barbara Higinbotham, WB0YDV; Todd Revell, N0VW; Alesia Vogt; Brant Sheppard, W0BFR.

Meeting commenced by President Chris Cochran at 6:04 p.m.


Chris Cochran, KB0WZC, announced that we had a surprise guest, Doug Marrs, Mayor of Nixa and President of Great Southern Bank. Doug, on behalf of Great Southern Bank, presented the Nixa Amateur Radio Club with a check for $1,000 to go towards the 6-meter repeater project.

With the Midland radio fundraising project to date, the club has sold $4,820 in Midland high and low band radios. As of this morning, we have 6 low-band (6-meter radios) and 8 high-band (2-meter) radios left to sell. Out of the $4,820, we are still awaiting payment on some of the radios. We have $1,850 in radios sold that we have not received payment on yet, but most of these are from Government agencies, so it is just a matter of time before the money gets here. We are not handing out radios until payment has been received and if payment is made by personal check, the check must clear first.

On the tower sponsorship program, so far Dean Gaines, KC0SQD, Al Gallo, W0ERE, Randy Jordan, KC0UKB, Rod Kittleman, K0ADI, and Doug Schumpert, K0DPS, have raised funds. We have 53 members and so far 5 have received donations. If everyone in the group could just get one or two donations, no matter how small, that would go a long way. All tolled, this program has raised nearly $2,000 so far. This phase of the fundraising drive will end on April 16, 2006. Keep up the good work, guys! We are getting close.

Rod Kittleman was able to get a press release about our fundraising endeavors out to KTTS, KADI, and the Springfield News-Leader. Dean Gaines contacted the Nixa News-Enterprise and they will be running an article next week.

6-Meter Repeater (53.270 MHz / PL 162.2):

Lots of behind the scene work going on here. Don Kocian of City Utilities approved our move of the DB-408A UHF link antenna up from the 100 foot mark to the 400 foot mark. This should greatly enhance our range for any repeater that would want to link to the 6-meter repeater and also enhance signal strength coming from our remote receivers.

James Adkins, KB0NHX, talked to Wally at the City of Republic Development Department about the building permit. They decided a building permit was not necessary and are waiving the $100 fee. Therefore, that saved us the $100 we had budgeted for that expense.

The club officials decided late this week to go ahead and begin the process for the structural analysis. James sent information to Paul Taylor of Vertical Structures indicating we are ready to begin. The cost for the analysis is $1,500, but we have asked for a "donation" or discount of their services in exchange for a tax deduction for that amount. We expect a response next week. No time table on when the analysis will be complete.

Joye McElwee contacted James this week and advised that he is in the final process of the deed and the legal paperwork. He hopes to have that done this week and sent to us for our review. Assuming all looks favorable on our end, we will be ready to install pending funding.

Doug Schumpert plans on contacting PDQ Tower Services this week to get us on their schedule for the install. He may also try to work out more of a discount. They have already waived the $3,000 mobilization fee, otherwise installation cost would be $8,591.00. Good job Doug!

David Williams, KE7ABH, plans to come by after the meeting or sometime Sunday and turn off the time-out timer on the CDM-750 radios for the repeater. Once that is done, you will no longer need to let the repeater completely drop to reset the timer since the CAT-1000B will control that function and timer will be reset as long as the courtesy tone is heard.

2-Meter Repeater (145.270 Mhz / PL 162.2):

A problem was encountered this last month on the 145.270 repeater. The 25 amp ATC fuse that provides protection to the high-current, 13.8 volt line melted in the fuse holder. John Copelin, KC0QNM, loaned us his Fluke current meter. It turns out the repeater amplifier is drawing 26.8 amps. Therefore, the ATC fuse slowly burned in half. John also gave us a 30 amp cartridge holder and fuse. Since installing this fuse, there have been no more problems.

Jeremy Tannehill, KC0UJZ, is going to team up with Jeff Kerr, KC0VGC, to try to get the EchoLink to work at the site. Jeff seems to believe it is a routing problem that should be able to be fixed. Once the internet is available at the site, we will move EchoLink there and interface directly to the controller. The EchoLink computer is ready to go at this time. We are currently running on an EchoLink backup computer as a test. That computer will be a backup to the EchoLink computer at the site and will function as an RF Link.

All other functions at the 145.270 site appear to be functioning normally. We have a couple upgrades to perform soon, however. We are going to replace the RG-214 interconnect cables on the receive side with the proper length. Since replacing the transmit side gained us an extra 11 watts output. We are hoping new cables on the receive side will help the receiver. Once replaced, David and James plan on heading to the site to fine tune the duplexers to see if we can get a few more watts output and a few more tenths of a microvolt out of the sensitivity.

Lastly, James plans on troubleshooting the Micor TPN-1110 Brute Force power supply, but it has not made it to the top of the priority list. We have been on battery 100% since November. That is why it has not been a top priority to get it fixed.

1.25-Meter Repeater (Proposed 224.280 MHz / PL 162.2):

We are looking into the possibility of using some Motorola CDM-750's for this project, but nothing further has been done. Motorola's web site indicates they make a 217-222 MHz model. Not sure on availability of these models yet, though.

70-Centimeter Repeater (444.275 MHz/PL 162.2):

All is well here. No problems or upgrades made. Still being hosted at Rich Vogt’s, KB9YZE, house. Thanks for letting us use your tower space, Rich!

EchoLink (Nixa Node #113667 / Joplin Node #244983):

The National Weather Service utilized our nodes extensively during our last severe weather outbreak and everything worked pretty much flawlessly on our end. They were impressed. One issue we had was timing. The Weather Service was using a 200 MHz PC with an 8 Mb connection. EchoLink could not provide enough PC buffering for that slow of a PC speed. John Rayfield, W0PM, and David Williams went out there and did two things to improve this problem. First, they re-aligned the wireless internet dish and directed it to a new node that is located much closer. This should help the internet connection. Second, they installed a 1 GHz PC that was donated to the National Weather Service. Between these two things, the Joplin EchoLink interface to National Weather should be much improved.

One improvement we see that is needed is battery backup for the EchoLink PC’s. We will start with the Nixa site and then take into consideration the Webb City link site. We are thinking that EchoLink will be delegated to backup service once the 6-meter repeater is up and going. We would like a UHF link to Joplin from Republic to link the 147.210 to the 53.270. The club will be donating one of the Midland 70-0520CWB's to the National Weather Service along with either an Arrow GP-52 ground plane or a J-Pole. This will give them access to the 6-meter repeater at no cost on their end.

Miscellaneous Discussion:

On Thursday, Justin Harris, KC0VJJ, e-mailed Chris and James advising that we received our letter of 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS. We have been granted full 501(c)(3) status. Better than just receiving approval, they made it retroactive to April 24, 2002, which was the initial inception date that James filed paperwork the first time! So, any donations made will be 100% tax deductible, including all past donations. This has already helped us secure the $1,000 donation from Great Southern Bank. Again, we would like to thank Doug Marrs of Great Southern for making this possible.

Thanks to everyone that has been prompt in paying dues this year. Right now, we have 53 members, and there may have been a couple more join today.

The large membership is a testament to our club's theory that if you want to be a member, you are welcome. Ham radio is not about exclusion, it is about inclusion. It is about a bunch of people with a common interest, ham radio, and putting the "service" into ham radio. In our case, we do what hams do best and that is provide means of communications for emergency situations. This includes the backup repeater provided to the fire department, the 145.270 repeater, EchoLink connection to Joplin, future 53.270 repeater in Republic, and the 444.275 repeater in Nixa. We are striving to provide a network of quality repeaters that will cover this area so that different bands and their propagation characteristics can be utilized effectively.

The key is to get as many people involved as possible. If you have not, take a few minutes to read over our "member and friend recognition" link on the website. Almost everyone on the roster has helped out with one thing or another. That is what makes this a great group of hams. Unlike most groups, we have not had too many issues with growing pains or disputes. Our group has not become divided and we continue to move forward striving to meet our goals.

It is motivating to hear stories from Al Gallo, Rich Vogt, and Justin Harris where over the last 2 weeks they have been recruiting people into ham radio. Whether it is friends that have developed an interest or persons met while out helping clean up at the tornado disaster areas, they have been talking up ham radio and the club. That is why we have grown and will continue to do so.

Chris called for any additional comments or discussion?

Jeff Kerr asked questions about remote receiver sites for the 6-meter repeater. He wanted to know how many receiver sites there would be and approximately how much money would be required to get a single site up and running. James and Chris addressed these questions. There are plans for five remote receiver sites. A worse case scenario for each site would be $7,000 to $10,000. We already have some of the equipment for the sites, but would anticipate this costing less. This initial fundraising is raising funds to get the repeater up on the Republic tower and running, but fundraising will need to continue to get the project fully completed.

Bob Hessee, N0XJJ, suggested that as a fundraiser we could create T-Shirts with some sort of a "I survived the March 12th 2006 Tornados" theme and the back could say something like "I was there". It was also suggested that the shirt could have the club "Hamster" logo on it.

Al Gallo suggested that donors that made large donations receive an individual plaque for their businesses. These plaques would be different than the "Club 100" plaque. There seemed to be agreement among the members on this. Rod Kittleman is going to research plaques and their purchase prices. Al also wanted to know where the "Club 100" plaque would be displayed. We would like this to be displayed for a while at a busy location like the Nixa Wal-Mart Supercenter and eventually at a permanent location like the fire station.

Al Gallo also suggested that we have some sort of thermal cup, coffee mug, etc. be purchased with the club "Hamster" logo on it. These could be provided to donors that give $25 or more. He has e-mailed the club officers some information on this, but they have not reviewed and discussed it at this time.

Chris asked Rod Kittleman if he has any more decal stickers. Rod said that there are a couple more sets. There currently are no T-Shirts, but more can be made.

We had 6 people take and pass their exams.

Meeting adjourned at 6:49 p.m. (45 minutes)