March 22, 2017

     A nasty line of thunderstorms moved through the area tonight. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of it. I was trying to leave a restaurant because I saw really strong wind gusts outside and knew bad stuff was coming. Between the customers ahead of me and the cashier, it took a very long time to leave. Outside were what I would describe as gale force winds. I don't ever remember a gust front that strong.

     So, when I finally got on the road, I only got a mile or two before there was trouble. Each car ahead of me kept turning around and going back the way they came. Eventually I got my turn to see what the trouble was. I thought there had been a wreck, but in fact, a large tree had crashed across the road and had it blocked pretty well. I'm not surprised. Big chunks of trees were hitting my car about that time.

     Before I left for supper I failed to disconnect some of the radios that were not lightning protected. Upon arrival I didn't smell anything burning, so perhaps I was spared. I went ahead and disconnected then. This brings up an interesting question: What do you do when you need to be on the radio, but when it's dangerous to be on the radio? Well, I put a long antenna in an HT and called into the local repeater, but I don't think anybody heard me. I wasn't receiving it very well either. 

     On came the computer so I could see what was happening on the local radar. There was a large , strong line of thunderstorms moving to the southeast. One page I navigated to was the lighning strike page. Very interesting I must say. There were strikes all around. 

     There's something about getting old: doing scary things is not fun anymore. I did not enjoy driving in that sorry weather! On the positive side: we needed rain, not only to replenish the groundwater, but to wash some of this pollen out of the air. So, has it been a crazy winter? Duh! It hardly got cold with a couple of exceptions and spring arrived early. Well, we know this much: March can bring really strong or unexpected weather to Georgia. Stay safe. 

March 21, 2017

     The weekly Monday night net drew 8 voice check-ins, five D-Rats check-ins and 4 Winlink check-ins. Thanks to all participants and to our net controllers.  

     We talk a lot about being prepared when cell service and other means are not available. Well, it's true! Cell service was not available to me Sunday morning. The power in my area went down, for about two hours, maybe more. The local cell site was dead. No ability to connect to it at all. It CAN happen!

March 16, 2017

     Not getting your digital exercise? Well then, join the digital practice net held every Wednesday night at 9PM for a group to exercise with! Last night we got over two hours parctice!

     We are constantly learning new skills and improving our old skills on the Georgia ARES mandated programs. They are: the FLdigi suite, Winlink Express and D-Rats. Not all of us have D-Star equipment but the three programs mentioned are free. The goal is to be digitally-fluent in these methods should the need ever arise to use them in an emergency situation. Besides, you can make some good digital friends in the process. The effort (in our area) is led by Del, W4DEL and has been doing quite well for some time now. I never miss it!

     Look for us at 9PM Eastern Time on the Covington, GA. 146.925 repeater, starting with MT63-2000L.

March 9, 2017

     The monthly meeting was held tonight at the Annex. Changes at GEMA Headquarters were discussed along with the possibiity of finalizing a new net control script. The theme of this year's S.E.T. should be revealed soon. 

     Coming up this Saturday is a D-Star seminar. You could win an Icom ID-5100! Digital practice continues every Wednesday night on the Covington 146.925 repeater. This past Wednesday we moved over to the 444.8 repeater, but all traffic was still copied on the 146.925 machine. 

February 28, 2017

     Testing of WIRES-X on the 146.61 repeater has been heavy lately as we have the system up and running. It's a lot like Echolink or Allstarlink. The repeater is connected to a soundcard device which is connected to a computer. That computer will be connected to the Internet and distant stations will be able to come in on the repeater. 

     Testing is occuring in both analog-only and digital-only modes, but when not connected to WIRES-X, the repeater will remain in AMS (Automatic Mode Select). I wish there was a good way for users to know what is happening with the repeater at any given moment, but I don't know of any such method. If you hear distant stations, it is likley connected to WIRES-X and anything you say on the repeater will be heard around the world. Use good amateur practice.


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