MARA W1/GaZette

February 2004


Vol 46 No. 6

In This Issue...

Next Meeting 1

VE Team Report 1

Boston Marathon Coming 1

Watt’s Happening 2

Old Timer’s Lunch 2

January Meeting Report 2

Contest Chatter 5

ECHO Closer to Launch 7


Contributors To This Issue: N1MGO, K1JHC


Next Meeting

Wednesday, 11 February


Fitchburg Central Fire Station

The February MARA general meeting is scheduled for February 11. Look for us in the Chief’s conference room on the second floor. Take a left at the top of the stairs, then another left, then straight down the hall.

The Chief’s conference room is scheduled for MARA meetings for all of 2004.


VE Team Report

The scheduled monthly Volunteer Exam session was held on January 28. These sessions are run jointly by MARA and Harvard Repeater Association.

One examinee was present.

Thanks to Volunteer Examiners Gordon N1MGO, Charlie KT1I, Paul KD1YH, Tom WA1RHP, John KB1HDO, and Ralph KD1SM.

VE Sessions are scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7pm across from the Shirley airport. Preregistration is requested; contact Paul KD1YH. When the session is held, walk-ins will be accepted, however the session is canceled by the Monday preceding the scheduled night if there are no candidates pre-registered.


Boston Marathon Coming

The 108th running of the Boston Marathon will be held on April 19. This is a very prominent event for Amateur Radio. It takes 300 Amateur Radio operators to provide communications for the starting line officials, the health and safety volunteers along the course, and the finish line medical crew.

This is the sort of event where Amateur Radio shines. Please contact Paul Topolski W1SEX to volunteer to help with this event.


Watt’s Happening

Sundays, 0830 local 3937 Western Mass Emergency Net. Alternate frequency is 3942 in case of QRN, QRM, or frequency in-use. Also a good idea to scan up and down 10kHz if you cannot find the net.

Sundays, 0900 local 145.45- Montachusett Emergency Net

Tuesdays, 2030 local 145.37- Templeton Emergency Net

Wednesdays, 2100 local 28.341 Harvard Repeater Club

10 meter sideband net "Activity Night"

Nightly, 2100 local 146.97- Central Mass Traffic Net

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 1800 local 3942 MHz Western Mass Traffic Net (phone)

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 1900 local 3562 MHz Western Mass Traffic Net (cw, slow)

First Monday, 1900 local 3943, 7245 RACES Net

First Wednesday, 2000 local 3915 K1ARC Red Cross Net

Saturday, 14 February, Marlboro MA

Algonquin ARC Hamfest, 9am, Marlboro Middle School.

Sunday, 15 February, Westford MA

GBARC Radio 35 Antique, Regency Hotel

Sunday, 18 April, Cambridge MA

Flea at MIT lists other New England Area Ham events.


Old Timer’s Lunch

de Tom K1JHC

The Old Timers held their monthly luncheon on Wednesday the 4th of February at Bickford’s Restaurant, in Leominster.

Members present were Norm W1LXE, Tom K1JHC, Howard W1TQB, Gerry K1BBV, and Norm W1BYH. The topics of conversation included operating on PSK31, 60 meters and old (antique) radio gear.

Norm W1BYH reported that even though transmitting power is restricted on 60 meters, station are doing weak signal work by using low noise receiving antennas. Tom K1JHC said that he finally got his macros corrected on Digipan after they got corrupted by some source.

Please join us at our March meeting on Wednesday March 3.


January Meeting Report

The January MARA general meeting was called to order at 19:34 on January 14 by Gary K1YTS, President.

Members present were Gary K1YTS, Bill N1UZ, Jerry AA2T, Tom K1JHC, Bob KB1JZU, Pauline KB1JXJ, Gordon N1MGO, Charlie KT1I, Paul N1QDX, Norm W1LXE, Norm W1BYH, Nancy KB1KEF, Paul KD1YH, and Ralph KD1SM. Nii Ollenu of Leominster joined us as a guest.


President (Gary K1YTS): Sorry the holiday party was canceled. Is there interest in rescheduling it? The consensus of the meeting was not to try to reschedule.

Vice President (Paul KD1YH): nothing.

Treasurer (Gordon N1MGO): For November and December; beginning balance. Dues income. Expenses were for newsletter postage, to Verizon for the autopatch phone, and for the Post Office box annual rental. Ending balance is.

Technical Committee (Gordon N1MGO): There is broad interference on the 2m band around the repeater input frequency. This has also been heard on the input to the Harvard 145.41 repeater and is affecting that repeater more than the MARA repeater.

The minutes of the November meeting were accepted as printed in the December W1/GaZette.


Bill N1UZ: The Chief’s conference room on the second floor of the fire station is scheduled for us for the second Wednesday for all of 2004.

Gary K1YTS: Field Day is only 5 months away. Bill N1UZ will request the use of Mt. Wachusett. Ralph KD1SM has not yet heard confirmation of the date for this year’s Longsjo Classic but expects that it will again coincide with Field Day this year. Gary noted that only by using the Mountain site is it practical to provide operators to the Longsjo Classic on the same weekend.

Charlie KT1I moved that we send invitations to the local clubs to join us again for Field Day. Pauline KB1JXJ volunteered to write these letters.

Bill N1UZ brought a mystery item to raffle for the benefit of the Club. The only information he announced as raffle tickets were sold was that the item was worth a minimum of. The raffle raised for the Club and Jerry AA2T went home with a new ARRL Antenna Book.

Above: Jerry AA2T wins a raffle item brought by Bill N1UZ.

Guest Nii Ollenu sits to Jerry’s left.

Tom K1JHC reminded everyone of the "Old Timer’s" lunch on the first Wednesday of the month. The definition of "old timer" is "anyone who is available at noon on the first Wednesday".

Old Business:

Bids were opened on the W1LUG estate. The winning bids were: Lot 1 K1YTS, Lot 2 K1YTS, Lot 3 K1YTS , Lot 4 no bid, Lot 5 K1YTS, Lot 6 K1YTS, Lot 7 N1QDX, Lot 8 K1YTS

Gary reminded the Membership that the office of Secretary is still open. Gary would also like someone to do some updates to the By-Laws.

Paul KD1YH posts the W1/GaZette to the Club Web site.

Gary K1YTS will re-register MARA as an ARRL affiliated club.

Jerry AA2T noted that there are work crews at the LEMA headquarters building every Tuesday and Thursday. Electrical conduit is being installed. The heating might be completed by Spring.

Upcoming Public Service Events:

. Groton Road Race - end of April

. Boston Marathon - 19 April; volunteer applications are requested by 1 Feb.

. Townsend Canoe Race - April; date usually chosen end of March

. Athol River Rat Race - mid-April

Jerry AA2T proposed that the Club consider making a donation to the ARRL BPL frequency defense fund. After some discussion Jerry moved that the Club donate to this fund. The motion was seconded and carried.

A general discussion was had on ways to publicize MARA’s Field Day activities. Ideas included:

. Fitchburg & Lunenburg Public Access TV

. the free community newspapers

. Sentinel & Enterprise community calendar

Jerry AA2T announced that Dave KM3T has an IRLP and Echolink simplex repeater running on 144.41 in Leominster. The node is available when Dave is around to monitor it. Dave would like to have this node connected full-time to a local repeater.

Paul KD1YH reported that as of the meeting there were no registered examinees for the VE session.

Norm W1BYH reported that Worked All States on 60 meters has been achieved by 2 stations. Norm heard Hawaii on the air. Norm says that 60m is an interesting and fun band to work.

Gordon N1MGO worked all states in 10 hours in a recent RTTY contest.

Charlie KT1I, Gordon N1MGO, Bob KB1JZU, and Norm W1BYH all participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.

Charlie and Gordon plan to operate from Vermont for the North American QSO Party on the third weekend in July.

A general discussion took place on the possibility of the Club participating in a contest. Gordon noted that his location in Vermont is very quiet electrically; it is over a mile to the nearest power lines.

Gary K1YTS congratulated and thanked Charlie KT1I for stepping forward to manage the Montachusett Emergency Net.

Norm W1BYH noted that the Mid Atlantic Emergency Net meets on 60 meters on the first and third Wednesdays on channel 1. It has been meeting at 2000 but will be moving to 2100. The Net is collecting propagation reports; 60 meters seems to be working well along the entire East Coast at that time of day.

Thanks to Pauline for bringing refreshments.


Contest Chatter

de Gordon


Contests coming up in February:

. 07-08 Vermont QSO Party, New Hampshire QSO party, Maine QSO Party,

Delaware QSO Party, All using SSB/CW mode.

. 07-08 Mexican RTTY Contest.

. 14-15 World-Wide RTTY WPX, one of the big ones of the year for RTTY!

. 21-22 ARRL DX Contest CW

. 28-29 CQ WW 160 Meter Contest SSB

Contests coming up in March:

. 06-07 ARRL DX Contest SSB, Open Ukraine RTTY

. 14 North America Sprint RTTY

. 20-22 BARTG Spring RTTY, one of the big ones of the year for RTTY!

. 27-28 CQ WW WPX CW , one of the big ones of the year for CW

For more contests and information, with links to the rules see: , or

If you have problems with the links or need more information please call me on the 145.45 repeater or send me e-mail at .

What do you need for any contest?

. Get the contest rules!

. Check start/end times, usually listed as a UTC or Zulu time, we are

5 hours different.

. Exchange to send. (varies with the contest), some examples.

. RST and unique serial number

. First year licensed

. Name of operator

. CQ zone

. State

Are you using paper or computer logging?

If you are going to use paper, some of the contests have suggested paper forms on their web sites.

If you are using a computer the logging is much easier to do, but the choice of software can be very confusing. Some standard software has a "contest mode" which you can use. There are many special purpose contest logging software packages available with most costing from to about to register. One that looks good that is free is N1MM logger.

I use WriteLog, which costs.

Links to contest software: CT, now free! Works on a simple DOS

computer. Great for CW WriteLog, Needs a Windows System,

great for all SSB, CW, RTTY and PSK31. The

best there is, but very complex! N1MM Logger, Needs a Windows System, FREE!!

Good for most SSB, CW and RTTY

contests. Constantly being updated, also very

complex and does not cover as many contests yet.

There are other programs available, some of the general purpose logging and operating programs that have a "contest mode" available include: Logger32, very good general purpose

logger, with serial number capability,

includes RTTY, PSK31 and a CW sending module.

One of the best Logging programs, and its FREE. MixW, Costs $50. Has more modes than any

other program I have seen!!! Also has a

"contest" mode. Very good for some of the

less well known modes, like MFSK, MT63, SSTV,

Hellschreiber, throb, Fax, and many others.

Very good program!!

There are many other programs that can operate various modes.

Some of the state QSO parties are lots of fun, and give you a chance to work that state if you need them for Worked All States credit. They are generally slow paced and use several modes, usually CW and Phone, but some also include RTTY.

The big worldwide contests include a lot of DX, if that is your interest. The ARRL contests give you a chance to work all 50 states in a weekend, on RTTY, Phone or CW, depending on which contest you chose.

If you are new to contesting try to keep it simple at first, try with just paper logging if you are not setup with a computer yet. Most of the contests allow you to submit your logs on paper if you have less than 100 contacts. If you use a general purpose program and the contest requires cabrillo file format, contact me and I will try to help convert your file to the proper format. Please do submit your log if you do participate in a contest, it helps the log checkers with the cross checks that they do on all logs now. The usual way they check all logs are to use special software tools that take the cabrillo formatted logs and put them all in a big data base and have the computer cross check each contact, allowing a margin for error on the time.

If you just want to see how a contest is done, you are welcome to come to my location when a contest is going on, that I’m doing, and watch. I normally do all the RTTY contests, sometimes the CW and have yet to try Phone.

I will be giving specific setup information for the Open Ukraine RTTY contest in next months Contesting Scene article. I will try to help anyone that wants to setup to do any of the other contests, just e-mail me, or call me on the MARA 2mtr repeater.

See you on the air in the contests!!

Gordon - N1MGO


AMSAT-NA ECHO Satellite Closer To Launch

The AMSAT-OSCAR ECHO satellite has edged a bit closer being launch-ready. An initial integration effort recently determined that 90 percent of the hardware onboard the new satellite tested out successfully, AMSAT-NA <> reports. During the next six weeks or so, the development team will resolve various outstanding issues, and final integration will be scheduled.

"The launch window opens in late March, so the satellite is coming together on plan," said AMSAT Marketing Manager Jim Jarvis, N2EA. He says there’s still time for satellite enthusiasts who donate to the ECHO project to have their names placed in orbit aboard the new satellite. "The names of all contributors will be placed inside the ECHO satellite," he said. AMSAT-NA has not yet reached its $110,000 goal to pay for the AO-ECHO launch.

Jim White, WD0E, and Mike Kingery, KE4AZN, headed the integration team assembled in December at SpaceQuest in Fairfax, Virginia. In addition to hardware testing, the integration team also wrapped up telemetry calibration for the new bird. AMSAT says that even the experimental L-band receiver and S-band transmitter functioned well during their first tests.

The satellite is tentatively set to go into space from Russia on March 31. AO-ECHO’s planned sun-synchronous orbit will be approximately 800 km above Earth. Among other capabilities, AO-ECHO will allow satellite voice communication using handheld FM transceivers.

Visit the AMSAT AO-ECHO Web page

<> for additional details.

from The ARRL Letter

Vol. 23, No. 04

January 23, 2004


The MARA W1/GaZette is published by the Montachusett Amateur Radio Association just prior to the monthly meeting. The newsletter is distributed free to members and friends of Amateur Radio.

Contents copyright (c© 2004, MARA. Permission to use in other Amateur Radio publications with credit to MARA is hereby granted.


Editors: Ralph Swick KD1SM

Webmaster: KD1YH



Club Secretary: (open)

Annual Dues: Regular $25

Family $30

Fixed income $15

Meetings: 2nd Wednesday, 7:30pm

September to June

Mailing address: MARA

PO Box 95

Leominster, MA 01453

Web site:



Gary Busler K1YTS President

Paul Upham, KD1YH Vice President

(open) Secretary

Gordon LaPoint, N1MGO Treasurer

Charlie Cayen, KT1I Trustee

MARA owns and operates the W1GZ repeater providing emergency autopatch service on 145.45 (CTCSS 74.4) in Fitchburg.

Montachusett Amateur Radio Association

PO Box 95 Leominster MA 01453