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  1. QCWA Ch 91 Members & Friends of Ch 91....

     Hopefully we’ll see you at our Saturday, Dec 9th holiday party at 1130 at PJ Skidoos* in Fairfax.  We’ll have some cheer, and a grand time socializing.  There is no technical program planned for the meeting. 

     In January, we’ll return to our traditional 3rd Saturday of the month meeting, and the program will discuss the ability of the aging power grid, the largest manmade machine in the world  to absorb more and more renewable energy generation projects.  Our meeting will be at Glory Days, in Fairfax at 1130  (Microcenter Shopping Center). 

     For your info, at our November meeting the membership in attendance forming a quorum for voting purposes reaffirmed the current leadership team for Calendar Year 2024.  We also voted to send a $100 donation to the QCWA Scholarship Fund on behalf of former Ch 91 President, Ray Johnson, K5RJ (SK). 

     Further, the Club Secretary made a motion to send a $100 donation to the Northern Virginia FM Association, for the use of their 146.790 MHz repeater to support our Sunday morning QCWA Ch 91 net.  BTW, all are welcome to join our net on Sundays. 

     Hope to see you on December 9th. 

     Mike, WA8AHZ

    QCWA, Ch 91 President

     *The address for PJ Skidoos is:

    9908 Fairfax Blvd

    Fairfax, VA 22030

  2. Blog post category: About the Community

    Ham Community, a comprehensive platform built for and by amateur radio (ham) enthusiasts, takes great pride in announcing its role as the new hub for amateur radio operators volunteering with the Marine Corps Marathon. As the official website for amateur radio operators serving this prestigious event, Ham Community will be the hub for communication and coordination, fortifying the tradition of using amateur radio for public service and emergency communications.

    HamCommunity.com: A Brief Overview

    Launched with the mission to empower ham radio enthusiasts and operators, HamCommunity.com has steadily grown into a vibrant, resourceful community platform. Ham Community serves as a nexus for information exchange, learning resources, and interaction among amateur radio operators, both beginners and seasoned veterans. It offers an engaging mix of forums, product reviews, event details, and even a marketplace for radio equipment, effectively making it a one-stop solution for all ham radio needs.

    The community platform thrives on the principle of 'Share, Learn, and Enjoy.' Members can share their experiences, learn from peers, and enjoy the world of ham radio to its fullest. The platform believes in a collaborative learning environment that enhances not just individual knowledge and skill, but also the larger body of shared knowledge and expertise within the community. Being chosen as the amateur radio website for the Marine Corps Marathon affirms Ham Community’s commitment to these principles, and its capabilities as a robust, responsive platform.

    The Marine Corps Marathon: A Tradition of Excellence

    The Marine Corps Marathon, affectionately known as "The People's Marathon," is one of the largest marathons in the world that doesn't offer prize money, emphasizing instead the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. First held in 1976, the event symbolizes the high standards and dedication of the United States Marine Corps. 

    The Marathon provides a scenic tour of some of the most iconic landmarks of Washington, D.C., while allowing participants to test their endurance. It attracts thousands of runners from across the globe, from competitive athletes to first-time marathoners, and is recognized for its spirited atmosphere and inspirational message.

    Amateur Radio's Role at the Marine Corps Marathon

    Amateur radio has long played a vital role in marathons and similar large-scale events, providing an effective and reliable form of communication. At the Marine Corps Marathon, amateur radio operators work with event organizers and public safety officials, ensuring smooth communications during the event. These operators manage a broad range of tasks, from coordinating medical aid for runners in need to communicating race progress and updates.

    As the official website for these operators, Ham Community will manage the communication, coordination, and recruitment of these volunteers. This platform will serve as the information hub, a place where operators can sign up for shifts, receive updates, ask questions, share advice, and provide vital feedback before, during, and after the Marathon.

    This activity not only exemplifies the societal significance of ham radio and its enthusiasts but also illustrates the transformative role of digital platforms like HamCommunity.com in harnessing this amateur force for the betterment of the public sphere. By serving the Marine Corps Marathon, Ham Community reiterates its pledge to serve the community and provides a robust, user-friendly platform for the dedicated amateur radio operators who help make the Marathon a success year after year.




    If you are interested in volunteering as an amateur radio operator with the Marine Corps Marathon... start here.

  3.                 Setting up a home emergency operations center is something that is fluid and in this series I will be discussing theory, placement and planning along with construction pics of my operation center(s) and how each one plays out. Why would one want a communications center in the first place when we have our ham shacks?  Well the main difference between a shack and operations center is being able to operate 24/7 whether or not you  do so is your choice. The second one is that you can plan to help and assist your local EMA and groups with disasters in your area or surrounding town. Finally you can communicate with other hams and family members in the event of a full scale black autumn event. Now with that out of the way we can dive into a little history of Hams helping others and some of the groups that make up today's emergency communicators..

        A Little History:  Dating back to WW2 ham radio operators have assisted neighbors, government and country though ham radio. I got it's start through the old Civil defense during the start of the nuclear era and lasted until the mid 80's where the Civil Defense was decommissioned in the mid 80's. In early 2000's the FEMA/EMA era began to take shape and of course ham radio operators were there ready and willing to provide back up communications. Now we flourish with different groups such as A.R.E.S. (Amateur Radio Emergency Services), Skywarn, R.A.C.E.S (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency services)  and Auxcomm Here is a little background into the groups as they would operate or be Deployed. 

    Skywarn:  This group of hams operates mostly during severe weather and are trained by the National Weather Service to provide ground truth data in real time during severe weather threats such as tornadoes. hurricanes, and  other mass weather events including blizzards. They also offer  assistance to the EMA post event should more weather possibly hamper rescue operations.    

    A.R.E.S:  This group of hams are called up by the EMA to assist in providing emergency communications, help find victims, and help provide damage reports coordinating clean up efforts.  This group also provides communications with shelters, the Red Cross. hospitals and the EMA should the communications grid go down or be destroyed. As a side note this is another reason to have a home EOC as you can provide help to others and be close to your family. 

    R.A.C.E.S:   A carry over from the Civil Defense there are some groups still out there operating but there are no new RACES licenses being handed out and most still operate  under the EMA or even the ARES coordinator.

    Auxcomm: This is still somewhat confusing to me Some have formed into groups and others just get the training and stay with the other groups but all I can say is it is worth the training to sharpen your radio skill set.  

        This concludes the first part of my series on setting up a home EOC and hopefully I inspired you to either join a local group or if you are part of one maybe consider setting up your shack to be able to provide 24/7 comms. In the next  blog post I will cover the meat and potatoes of planning and designing your home EOC. Until next time remember God is in control, stay healthy and stay blessed. 

  4. Knowledge

    Latest Entry

    By Katerina01,

    What difference is there between Mastrant Classic ropes (P, Q, S, C, R) and Mastrant-M?

    • The difference stands in parameters. Ropes from the Classic product line are the basic ropes optimized for a good price to performance ratio, whereas type M has approximately doubled strength and simultaneously half the stretch compared to type Classic. They are also lighter because the rope core is made from high-strength Dyneema® fibers.

    When is it better to use Premium rope (M) instead of Classic? 

    • When one needs the lowest weight and wind resistance (long ropes holding wire antennas, or supporting large beam elements, or expeditions where low weight is crucial). Also when the anchor points on the ground need to be placed close to the tower (less than 50% of the anchor height – depending on the type of tower – the higher stress needs to be calculated individually) and finally, for any big towers with big antennas.

    When I am looking at Dyneema ropes for maritime use, the strength eg. with 10 mm Dyneema is well over 10.000 kg, but your Mastrant M rope with a similar diameter has "only" 3850 kg strength, even the core material is the same. Can you explain why?

    • There may be several reasons for this difference. The first is that in Mastrant-M ropes, HMPE fibers form only the core. The braid (and any intermediate braid) is made of Polyester fibers, which have lower strength (but other necessary properties for which they are used). The reason may also be the methodology of measuring strength. Our declared breaking strength of ropes is strength really measured – each production series. It must be always 3% or higher than in our specification. There on the market is also another approach – the theoretical BS calculated based on the specification of Dyneema fiber and number of fibers (diameter). This theoretical strength is always much higher.

    What difference is there between Mastrant ropes and Kevlar ropes?

    • Kevlar, like Dyneema®, uses high-strength fibers. While Kevlar is made from aramid the Dyneema® is made from a special sort of PET. Kevlar is not UV resistant and its fibers tend to break when bending over a small radius.

    What about comparing Mastrant ropes with Phillystran?

    • Mastrant-P has about 80% of the strength of Phillystran of the same diameter. Mastrant-M has about 30-65% higher strength than Phillystran – but the bigger the diameter the smaller difference. Nevertheless, any Mastrant solution of any strength is many times cheaper.

    Can you compare Dacron with your ropes?

    • Our ropes have a cover made from polyester. Polyester is a material, and it is the same material as Dacron (brand name of polyester). Construction of the rope (number of layers, number of strands, fiber angle, manufacturing process, ...) is a different story – the design of Mastrant ropes is adapted so that the abrasion resistance is as high as possible.

    What makes Mastrant-M better rope for tower guys than pure Dyneema rope made for maritime use?

    • This question has several answers:
      • There are several types of Dyneema. Also, there are other producers (and brands) of HMPE ropes (the chemical principle of Dyneema). HMPE ropes are excellent, but they slightly stretch if they are in great tension for a long time. This property is called creep. This is not a problem for many applications: regular (e.g., once every 6 months) tightening does not matter, or the ropes are not permanently stressed (for example, masts where there is no permanently high tension, but only during strong winds).
      • In Mastrant-M we use a special version of HMPE fibers – Dyneema DM20. The biggest advantage is that it does not creep. Even though this material is much more expensive than older types of Dyneema or other HMPE fibers, stability is very important for guying so in 2013 we switched to DM20, and Mastrant-M was born.
      • For guying, there are usually important also mechanical features. Using two (or three in diameters 6 mm and up) layers of materials in the rope significantly increases mechanical durability. Also, pure HMPE rope is “slippery” (on touch).
      • If you are considering pure standard HMPE rope (Dyneema SK75, SK79, SK99, Nexsteel, ...), also consider our HMPE ropes D-F3.

    What is the expected lifetime of Mastrant ropes?

    • Like steel ropes producers, we recommend replacing them after 5 years of use. However, we have experience with flawless 15-year-old installations.

    Do I need to buy a complete reel? How long is the rope on the reel? 

    • Standard is 100m or 200m of rope on the reel. Some diameters are 31m on the reel. However, we can deliver any length you want (ropes longer than 200m are available on special order). The ropes of standard length are cheaper. Aside from standard ropes, we offer also “ready-made” ropes with thimble compressed-in on one end.

    Why don't you supply clamps with safety locking nuts?

    • We fully understand your concerns. In reality, if the clips are used properly – and that means properly tightened, it is not possible for the nuts to spontaneously loosen. The reason is that there is always strong counter-pressure caused by the elasticity of ropes. The fact is that the clips were designed by much smarter people than me without washers or locking nuts - and this applies to all types of rope grips. Also, we have never received any feedback that nuts were loosening when installed on the rope, on the other hand, losing nuts during transportation in a pack or pocket is quite common. My personal experience (OL5Y) proves that they will not loosen on the rope if properly tightened.

    Some definitions:

    • SWL  Safe Working Load
    • WLL — (Working Load Limit
    • BS — Breaking Strength
    • SF — Safety Factor
    • Wikipedia details here.

    Ropes and the sea salt - is it true, that in the marine air will collect sea salt in the rope braids and eventually will become conductive?

    • That is correct - it is true that once the rope gets wet from salt water, it can start to become partially conductive, which can affect the electrical performance of antenna systems. This is an occasional problem with insulators, by the way. However, in the 14 years of Mastrant's existence, we have satisfied hundreds of customers with antennas right on the shoreline, and as far as I know, this temporary change in conductivity has never caused a loss of satisfaction or confidence in our ropes.

    Are the BAYCO monofilament ropes better than your Mastrant ropes for guywiring a tower? It looks like the Bayco do not absorbe water.

    • Mastrant ropes are developed for anchoring masts, and the fibres from which they are made (Polyester, Dyneema) do not absorb water in the same way as monofilament. However, water can get into the rope, which is made of thousands of individual fibres. This occurs in a situation where the rope is "loose" - if it is taut, the wetting of the inside of the rope is negligible. The essential difference in favour of Mastrant type ropes is their mechanical properties and therefore their handling, ending, tensioning etc. It is therefore impossible to decide in general terms which solution is better for anchoring antennas. We recommend asking about the experience of users of our ropes in Italy.

  5. Join the Club’s Regular General Meeting starting at 7:00 pm, via Zoom Meeting.  The Zoom link is:    https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83906871573?pwd=V3l1UkZmSGZObGI5YkhLbGFYRzRUZz09   

     Forum – “Amateur Radio RF Exposure” Join the ARRL Learning Network pre-recorded presentation on Amateur Radio RF Exposure, by Dan Brown, W1DAN. Dan is the Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Technical Coordinator, and President of the Wellesley Amateur Radio Society.  In May, the FCC issued a new Rule and Order eliminating the decades-long “categorical exclusion” for mandated RF exposure calculations for most Amateur Radio stations.  Effective May, 2021 Amateurs must conduct detailed calculations of RF exposure for both controlled and uncontrolled environments, and have the calculations on file in the shack. After Dan’s presentation, there will be a short discussion.  Time: 7:00-7:30 pm

    Main Program -- “Mitigating Residential Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) RFI (Radio Frequency Interference)”  The mandated use of high-efficiency DC motors in HVAC systems poses new challenges for RFI mitigation in the Amateur Radio bands.  In this presentation, VWS member Roger, KM4LHZ along with Steven, W9SAN of the Fort Wayne (IN) Radio Club will explain the physical basis for these phenomena, present brief case studies in RFI mitigation, and discuss some common myths regarding HVAC RFI. Considerations for purchasing a new HVAC system will be given.  Roger experienced this issue first-hand when he recently updated his home HVAC system, and Steve is an electrical engineer at the Regal Beloit Corporation, specializing in RFI issues.  Time: 7:30 – 9:00  pm

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