Friday September 22, 2017

     The year 2017 is rolling right along, isn't it? Summer was just too short for my liking. I am ready for more, however, we now have officially arrived at fall and the sun is crossing the equator again. Not only are these days getting shorter, but we are only three months from the shortest day of the year. The only solace I get that day is that the days will then be getting longer again. It starts pretty slow though...like 1 whole extra second a day to begin with. Oh well, when you try to slow the sun down and reverse its course, it's like trying to turn a supertanker around in the middle of the ocean.

     During Tropical Storm Irma I heard a big crash in the backyard. Today I saw what it was. A big pine tree had been pushed over, root ball and all. Actually it wasn't much of a root ball as there was less than two feet of dirt covering the base. Under that? Granitic gneiss...granite. No big surprise in a county called 'Rockdale'. A few days ago I also realized that some antennas had become twisted around on a mast. Don't know of the mast slipped in the rotor or if the rotor was stripped out. One fine day I will climb up there and discover the truth.

     Check out the newest link in Member Resources. It leads to a smartphone app that produces an electronic NIFOG manual. A very handy idea! 



Monday September 18, 2017

     Don't forget! Monthly meeting Thursday at 7:30PM and National Preparedness Month expo on September 30th at Rockdae Career Academy...be there at 8AM.



Tuesday September 12, 2017

     Well, it has been an interesting few days here recently and now it's time for a review. Actually, I feel pretty lucky although there was some minor damage. I also feel lucky that my review doesn't cover any major malfunctions! That's more related to what DID NOT happen that what did happen. So, I'll take my own advice and hope to be better prepared next time!

     Are you conducting a review? Were you satisfied with your response? Were you satisfied with everyone else's response? What can we all do better?

     I for one noted several areas that I believe I can improve upon. Some were trivial and some could have a major impact on my response. I will list some of them because they might be the same as yours.

     One area I want to follow up on was to establish emergency power in the shack. It already exists inthe repeater room and it is 'half-built' for the shack. Too bad it wasn't 100% built. Oh well, we're on the way.

     I have largely tried to install redundancy between the two areas. That is: there should be HF capability in both areas, VHF/UHF capability in both areas, and so on. One problem though: that requires double the number of feedlines and antennas. That is a little harder to accomplish. 

     The repeater room is a 'secure' area for the most part. You know, an interior room in the lowest part of the building, etc. Three sides are made of poured concrete walls. It's pretty safe. I can communicate from there if, and I repeat the word if, antennas and feedlines remain intact. That's a big 'if'. There are things you can do to harden your antenna systems though. 

     We may have experienced 50MPH winds here. I am not sure but there was a similar report not very far away. I cannot imagine what winds two or three times that strong would do. I did actually have some wind damage, but largely things held up. You are unlikely to be able to protect against hurricane force winds, but those are rare here. Downdrafts and shear winds are more common. We get thunderstorms!

     One thing I thought I could do, but had trouble doing so, was to crossband repeat to an HT, so I could move about the place. I really couldn't stay right in front of the radios the whole time. Well, I'll fix that! My biggest loss was that of Internet access, but even that may have had a workaround.

     So, how did you do?  


Sunday September 10, 2017

     I hope everybody stays safe during the approaching storm, if it in fact comes here. Not that I would wish upon anyone else though!

     As always, ARES will activate as necessary. The 147.21 repeater will be your primary meeting place. If not working, you can try simplex or try the K1KC repeaters: 146.61 - 103.5 and 444.55 + 103.5. These repeaters are backed up with emergency power but that won't help if the antenna blows away! We all do the best we can under the circumstances. 

     Here's a tip: Want to know the local wind speed and direction? Go to this website's front page. There is an interactive map of weather conditions and it starts with wind speed and direction. You can move the map around, enlarge it, add layers and so forth. Try it out!



Friday September 8, 2017

     There is an excellent idea of a website that I wish to bring to your attention. It is particularly pertinent at this time of the year, given that we are in hurricane season. That website is:

https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/. It is sponsored by the Red Cross and helps folks locate each other, or at least, know if each other is 'safe and well'. What an excellent idea! Consider spreading the word that this service is available.



Monday September 4, 2017

     The monthly meeting has been moved to September 21st. 



Saturday September 2, 2017

     What is happening with Rockdale ARES these days? Glad you asked...you just volunteered for a position! The next big thing is the National Preparedness Month expo. This will be at Rockdale Career Academy on September 30th from 9-2. Be there at 8AM. We will be setting up inside (and perhaps in the Mobile Command Vehicle). Leaflets will be available for handout (thanks Moose). This is shaping up to be bigger and better than last year although last year brought a good turnout of services. Now we are hoping for a good turnout of citizens.

     After that comes the annual Simulated Emergency Test. An idea to test radio coverage from the Annex has been floated, and we do need this information. It is up to us to decide what and how we wish to conduct our test.

     Now that fall is approaching, consider this opportunity to improve your transmitting and receiving systems, your backup systems, your ability to print up forms and your ability to operate digitally. You know what happens when it gets cold! 



Monday August 28, 2017

     Although there are reports available, I am not sure exactly what Amateur Radio is doing in Texas at the moment. I am sure however they are responding magnificently. We thank all those who represent Amateur Radio and all it stands for.

     Just a few minutes ago I was reading an official warning about what to do in case of a flood. The warning said to move to higher floors and take your phone and supplies with you. It also said not to get trapped in the attic with rising waters, but to get on the roof. Well, I suppose that takes some forethought because for most people, you'd have to go outside in the floodwaters to get on the roof. Not many of us have a hatch in the roof for access. This means that, once again, you must plan ahead.

     So, how do you get on the roof from the attic? You might need and axe or hatchet. I think it might be very tiresome hacking away with the cutting tool above you instead of below. Then, do you climb out or just let the floodwaters float you out? If you float out, you're going to need a boat soon. Maybe you'll need to store a boat on your roof for just such an occasion. No? Well, the idea is that you plan ahead.

     We see that many folks are needing rescue down in Texas. That's unfortunate, but wasn't there fair warning? I cannot know what each circumstance was, but if you can get out of harm's way before it arrives, by all means, do so!

     Here's an idea: Have an evacuation plan! Seriously, who does this? Smart people do this, that's who. You could be one of them. Today on the news I saw an apartment building where a second floor apartment was crowded with several families. Good, they were not drowning, but guess what? They had no electricity, no running water, no toilets and no way to get supplies. Sure, it beats drowning, but not by much. So, plan ahead.

     There are many things you could do now to plan for a disaster. Unfortunately some of them are at odds with each other. Let's look at one example: Important papers. Isn't it a good idea to keep important papers like birth certificates, passports and so forth in a safe place? Isn't it a good idea to keep them in a single place for quick evacuation? Wouldn't a strong safe on the lowest level keep them safe from a tornado? Yes maybe, but not safe from a flood. So, sometimes one solution can create another problem. The concept is good though. 

     At least we are on the right track: thinking about planning ahead. What about this plan: what do you need to take with you in an emergency? That could vary based on the type of emergency and the length of time you may be gone and the makeup of your family. Huh? Well, they say one of the things families with very little ones need badly is diapers. Makes sense.

     Another thing badly needed is money. Yep, that makes sense too. How about some food and water? Warm clothes or dry clothes. Blankets, communication devices (now you're talking!), charging devices, extra batteries. Look, you could just take the whole house with you if you think about it, but just thinking about it is a step in the right direction.

     Every October fire departments everywhere hold awareness events, especially one called EDITH. That stands for Exit Drills In The Home. It's a great idea and we should all do it. In fact, EDITH drills are closely related to drills or plans for other emergencies and for ham radio operators who are ARES members too. It's all about planning ahead for something you hope never happens.

     How could these be related? In the EDITH drill, you not only plan how to get out safely, but where to gather and meet at afterwards. Makes VERY good sense! You plan how you will be warned of danger...another great idea. You plan on how to communicate your whereabouts and your condition too. Hams can help with this, but it starts with you. Have a plan. By the way, have you checked your smoke detectors lately? Did you know they don't last forever and may need to be replaced? I heard it may be on the order of every ten years or so. Given the low cost of smoke detectors, that sounds like cheap insurance!

     September is National Preparedness Month and I urge you to attend an event in your area, just to re-familiarize yourself with services available and plans you might want to revisit. Rockdale County will hold their event at Rockdale Career Academy from 9AM until 2PM on September 30th, 2017. It will be worth your time.




Saturday August 26, 2017

     Yesterday was the latest monthly meeting. We talked about the upcoming National Preparedness Month display and what we should expect. Moose made up some really nice pamphlets to hand out. Updates on the hospital, annex and MOU were given. 

     K1KC still needs $4.62 from unpaid members for the website. Also, we discussed what we might do for the S.E.T. this year. It was suggested that perhaps we try the annex antenna and relay messages around the county.

     Some discussion of a license class was made. In addition, updates on GEMA were given. Don't forget about our Facebook page! K1KC related that the K1KC VHF repeater and a local node were operating with WiRES-X 'rooms' attached.



Friday August 18, 2017

     The monthly meeting is now scheduled for August 25th.


Wednesday August 9, 2017

     The monthly meeting is now scheduled for August 24th. Please note this change. 



Tuesday August 8, 2017

     The monthly meeting may be moved to another date. Check this webpage for further information. 


Sunday August 6, 2017

     Don't forget: the monthly meeting is this Thursday. Bring a few dollars since the website costs are due. Topics: The National Preparedness Month display. 





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