The TAG (TN, AL, GA) Net

TAG YL Past Topics

Here, you can find archives of the past topics that have been posted to our web page..

All YL’s everywhere are welcome and encouraged to join us!  And OM’s, we appreciate your support and behind the scenes help, so please keep listening in!!  Have something you want to see posted here, let us know!

 

Ham shack safety (2020-06-22)

One of the joys of the hobby is finding things and using them for their unintended purposes or pushing items to the fullest capabilities or in other words just getting creative in our shacks. With that in mind, it may be a good idea to just hit on a couple items regarding ham shack safety. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and hazards have a way of lurking behind unexpected corners and leaping out when least expected to bring mayhem at the worst opportunities.
With that in mind, let’s break this down into two specific areas personal safety and equipment safety.
Personal Safety:
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls
    • While summer is the time for trips, unexpected trips that cause injury bring the whole season down. You can easily minimize your risk by keeping walk ways clear. Don’t run cords across a walk way, or hide them under a rug potentially creating a fire hazard. Avoid slips by cleaning up any spills right away and don’t pile and stack things on the floor or other flat surfaces where they can avalanche and either cause a stumble or bury small children and beloved pets. Also, don’t underestimate the hazard of low lightening. If you can’t see well enough for the project you are working on those hazards can hide in the shadow and trip you up before you know what has happened.
  • Zips, Zaps and Cuts
    • Watch out for those sharp edges and electrocution hazards, especially when covers are removed from equipment during a project (or a past project that has become a beloved dust monument). Return covers when feasible during extended breaks in a project, or cover the item with a thick towel or cover (again if not attached to power in order to avoid a potential fire hazards). Also be aware that exposed or worn wires can either shock you or cut you. Check wires regularly and replace those that need to replaced. Last but certainly not least, most hams do not have the luxury of a shack big enough to match their enthusiasm for the hobby. Be careful not to overload electrical outlets or circuits in your enthusiasm to have a robust electronic emporium.
Now that we hopefully have you operating safely in your shack, let’s take a look at that equipment you’ve invested your time, money and lots of sweat equity into.
  • Power, Power and more power
    • While the more power the better rings true in many a ham’s hearts, you have to have the right amount of power for the right job. Check your power supplies to make sure you aren’t matching the wrong adapter to equipment when digging through your treasure trove for replacements. This was mentioned before but it bears repeating, don’t overload your power outlets and circuits. Ground your equipment and make sure to use a surge protector to add an additional layer of protection from that other power spikes
  • Dust, Liquids and other dooms
    • While we all love our four legged pets, those pesky dust bunnies get into everything. While they can cause allergies issues and other health concerns remember, just like your other loved ones, your equipment needs to breathe too! I’m not saying you need a weekly house keeper, but we’ve all been in that shack where we could write our initials in the dust for other civilizations too eventually find. While we are talking about basic house keeping, keep your beverages and other liquids away from your equipment. You need to stay hydrated but even a minuscule amount of liquid can do serious amounts of damage! Even though I too have set my ‘can’ down where it shouldn’t have been for a quick second to grab something or for a quick QSO, It just isn’t worth the risk.
  • Light it up or DON’T
    • Lights, camera, action. Well maybe we should say, lights, radio, action. Don’t fumble around in the dark with your equipment. Make sure that you have the right level of lighting for working on your projects (and not just the flame from your blow torch when your soldering)…and speaking of setting things on fire, just as it’s important to have the right fire extinguishers for your kitchen, it is equally important to have the right one for your shack. A class C fire extinguisher (designed for electrical fires) would be a great gift for any ham radio enthusiast.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the risks and hazards of the hobby, and let’s face it, part of the fun of the hobby is satisfying the mad scientist in each of us and trying new and creative things. If I’ve missed an item that should be highlighted, let me know and we will add it to the list.

Why participate in a net? (2020-03-08)

 

We hear about them all the time, they seem to be rampant everywhere (virtually one for any day of the week). But why should we join the nets?
Of course I’d be interested to hear your perspective on why to join a net. Don’t hesitate to email your comments to me and if I receive enough feedback I’ll post a follow up.

  1. Learn Proper Technique
  2. Check the Range of Your Equipment for Prolonged Communications
  3. Build your Network
  4. Camaraderie
  5. Share knowledge

Learn Proper Technique

Many hams participate in the hobby to be able to assist in emergency communications and some are in the hobby for the shear joy of the science and technical geek factor. Regardless of why you are in the hobby, it is important to operate your station correctly. Nets provide operators with an environment to learn a variety of skills: how to operate their radios, speaking effectively for a good transmission, the errors of quick keying, traffic handling, how to break into a QSO, how to report information and the ability to listen and record important information. (Just to name a few.)

Check the Range of Your Equipment for Prolonged Communications

Many people report when the bands are open, or good conditions for propagation on the nets, but have you ever thought about how many times communications are necessary under the perfect condition? It’s Murphy’s Law that communications are most essential and reliant on ham radio under adverse conditions. Nets provide an opportunity for operators to experiment with reaching Alaska, Australia, locally and wherever net’s operate via many modes of communication. Testing your capability in regular participation of nets will help the operator determine where the communication opportunities are and evaluate the range and capability of their equipment. Programming radios, tones, talk groups, time slots, or antenna requirements and adjustments are just a few examples of things that can be done in advance of a crisis to ensure that equipment will be ready when needed. Participating in a regular net ensure that not only did you reach the intended communication hub once, but you can regularly connect to the hub and your signal can be clearly received.

Build Your Network

If you have ever listened to a hurricane net, you’ve noticed that people who know the Net Control Operator are usually received as priority traffic. They are a known source of reliable information. ARES and SKYWarn nets are a way for operators to build their network and become familiar with the other operators and their locations prior to a crisis so that during an emergency they know where operators are and know they can communicate effectively and reliably. However, building a network is important at other times. Maybe you have just the right piece of knowledge that another operator needs (you’ve been there and done that). Or you have a problem that just has you scratching your head and someone can save you the heartburn of hours trying to figure it out. Nets are a great wealth of information, as well as providing a community of like minded individuals that are interested in similar gadgetry.

Camaraderie

There’s nothing like participating in a net and being surrounded by friends. It is a very rare thing indeed for all operators not to feel welcome during a net. Maybe I’m just super lucky in the Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee Region, and my home roots in Chicago, but the best people in the world seem to be ham radio operators. It seems that meeting up regularly on a net establishes a repport that causes people to actively look for each other at Hamfests or on the frequency at off times for a QSO. While the rest of the world may not understand what makes an operator tick, fellow hams get it and encourage it! This is one aspect of joining a net that really shouldn’t be minimized. The connections you make today during the net, could be the connection that saves you hours of trouble shooting, or provides an opportunity for an extra set of hands putting up that tower, or encourages you to come out to field day, or just gives you a break and provides that bit of fun or that laugh that we all need in a day.

Share Knowledge

Most nets have a purpose whether it’s emergency communications, technical topics or socializing. There are even nets for those interested in camping, the paranormal or specific tools of the hobby. Regardless of what interests you there’s a net for it (and if not, create it! You probably aren’t the only one). Nets provide a forum for people of all interests and knowledge levels to meet and exchange a wealth of information. Google has nothing over a net. There’s usually someone representing a wealth of information over a variety of topics. Nets provide an opportunity for all operators to gather and share their knowledge. (Including you!) Being relatively new to the community, especially compared to the operators that have been licensed for more years than I’ve been alive, I’ve found that just listening I’m absorbing a variety of information that I seem to draw on when I come across a problem or opportunity. There’s even been a time or two that I’ve been able to help solve a problem because of something I’ve heard or been able to direct one operator to another for help. Nets can be our own ham radio live Encyclopedia, if we learn to leverage the resource to its fullest potential.