Wreaths Across America 2015: Success!

(L to R) Gary WBØRUR, Nathan K5KAC, Andy K5PO, Kevin K5KVN. Not pictured is Jeff K3DEI.

(L to R) Gary WBØRUR, Nathan K5KAC, Andy K5PO, Kevin K5KVN. Not pictured is Jeff K3DEI.

For the fourth year in a row, not one of us was physically hurt while directing traffic for the Wreaths Across America event in Fayetteville, Arkansas. However, some feelings were hurt when a guy in a kilt told us in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t happy with the parking accommodations. But that’s a story we’ll save for the 80m net.

Once again, K5KVN’s Kenwood D700 served as a crossband repeater, using 2m in and 70cm out. That configuration provided the coverage we needed from the cemetery to the parking lot at the baseball stadium a mile away.

A new addition this year was WBØRUR’s APRS beacon in a box, which we were sure would be tagged as a suspicious item by passers by. No problems there, thank goodness.

Here’s a video of the motorcade bringing the wreaths, led by patriot riders, veterans and other motorcyclists:

It’s become an annual tradition for us; a rare event that is placed on our calendars months in advance. We are honored to be able to use our skills/hobby in such a way. When the day was done, we had successfully controlled traffic and coordinated parking at the National Cemetery and Baum Stadium on the University of Arkansas campus. Thanks to WBØRUR, K5PO, K5KAC, K3DEI and K5KVN for another great event.

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Show Time with Fo Time Podcast

Keeping with the highest traditions of our mission statement, specifically the part that reads “tell others how much fun it is,” we were thrilled to be a guest on episode 40 of the Fo Time Podcast. Cale does a great job bringing a variety of ham radio-related guests with a laid back feel. That’s our style, too. Also, he has sponsors. We would like sponsors.

Give the show a listen and let us know what you think. Andy K5PO and Kevin K5KVN explained how we brought the group together, started Ham Hijinks and keep a fun attitude about the hobby.

 

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We’re ARRL Famous, for Now

By K5KVN

The date was September 10, 2015. The time was approximately 2:00 p.m. local. The phone rings; it’s from Hartford, CT. There’s only one place that could be calling me from there.

I knew it could be either good or bad. Best case scenario, maybe we won another contest that we forgot we entered. Or, maybe our field day log was jacked up and they’re throwing out the whole thing.

I nervously answered. Bob NQ1R was in my ear. “You’re famous!” he said.

Turns out, one of our photos had been chosen to be the “cover photo” for the ARRL Facebook page! Bob needed a caption. Now, I’ve knowingly submitted dozens of photos to the League and might have accidentally sent a few I didn’t mean to send, so I wasn’t sure which one he had picked. I really, really was hoping it wasn’t one of the topless shots of Gary WBØRUR from the recent island activation.

We figured out the photo and thankfully it is rated PG. Andy K5PO took the shot at his shack during Field Day 2014.

Thanks ARRL! This is fine business.

ARRL caption(Click for larger version)

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Deer Island Activation: Success!

Another island activation is in the books. Gary WBØRUR and Kevin K5KVN set out on a three-hour tour to Deer Island to qualify and activate it as part of the U.S. Islands Awards Program QSO Party. This was the group’s second island activation.

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Gear ashore!

The setup was pretty simple: An Icom-746Pro, multiband vertical antenna, coax, card table, camp chairs, generator, food for lunch and a hound dog. Here’s the gear (minus the hound dog) upon coming ashore. A suitable operating position a few feet from the waterline was quickly found.

Here’s WBØRUR showing the generator setup:

After 30 minutes of setup, the production of RF began.

Noise on the bands was high and it seemed like propagation was poor. It had its moments, though, as a VE in Manitoba was logged to count as one of the two required DXCC entities to qualify the island. SWR was funky, too. There was some head scratching over that, then it was ignored. Here’s Gary calling CQ in the poor conditions:

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This island activation is brought to you by… BUG SPRAY.

A few ticks joined the fun, but nowhere near the amount encountered during the Horseshoe Island activation. K5KVN brought the bug spray.

After three hours of on-air time, the gear was packed up. We had enough QSOs to officially “qualify” the island, with several to spare. So, that’s a win.

Please QSL via LOTW. You can read Gary’s account of the day on his blog.

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We Had A Meeting!

Last week, we held an opportunistic club meeting/dinner/happy hour at Jose’s in Springdale (Ole’ for Jose’s!). “Opportunistic” because we all are so incredibly busy and rarely can all attend a club function at the same time. Thanks to K5PO for sending a group text asking if we were free for dinner.

Even Chief Attendance Officer Steve K5OY made it! Joking aside, it was great that Steve was there, because Andy K5PO had been keeping his celebrity crush on Steve under wraps for some time now. One frozen margarita later and Andy was telling Steve how he was “the weatherman of my childhood.” For many years, Steve was the top-rated meteorologist in the Northwest Arkansas television market. He’s moved on to bigger things now, but Andy couldn’t let it go. “You spoke at my school, dude!”

We discussed the upcoming club calendar. We hope at least one of us can make it to these events:

As a result of our scheduling conflicts of late, we discussed a new club slogan: “When All Else Fails… So Do We.”

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HamCom 2015: Success!

HamCom in Irving, Texas, was great. Andy K5PO, Gary WB0RUR, and Kevin K5KVN represented the Noise Blankers this year. Per strict club bylaws, all of the Noise Blankers cannot be at the same hamfest. This is a security precaution similar to “Designated Successor” rule used by the U.S. Government.  Nathan K5KAC was the chosen one this time and remained at an undisclosed location in what we guess was Madison County, Arkansas.

The flea market area was well-attending, the vendor booths looked great and the forums were good. The weather was good, too.

WB0RUR picked up a new V/U mobile radio, and K5KVN and K5PO both picked up new radio mounts.

The convention was in the Irving Convention Center, which turned out to be a fantastic facility. Read K5PO’s post about it here, where he challenges our hobby to make HamCom the biggest ham radio event in the U.S. Makes a lot of sense to us. See you there next year!

HAMFEST SCORE:  9 out of 10

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Island Activation Is Possible

UPDATE: The Noise Blankers Radio Group were unable to participate due to a tick infestation on the island and the threat of thunderstorms. We will still try to quality and activate the island at some point in the future.

 

FOR RELEASE IMMEDIATELY, RIGHT THIS MINUTE

Northwest Arkansas – The award-winning Noise Blankers Radio Group have announced that they hope to participate in the first-ever “One-Day Getaway” organized by the U.S. Islands Awards Program. The group might set sail for Deer Island on Beaver Lake near Rogers, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

“I don’t know what to tell you, other than we have our fingers crossed that we can get it together,” said group president Gary Darnell, WBØRUR.

In 2012, the group was the very first to activate Horseshoe Island on Beaver Lake. The resulting
video recap was the 2nd place winner in the ARRL Video Contest.

Plans call for the group to operate from Deer Island on or near the following frequencies:

1.800 – 2.000 MHz
3.525 – 4.000 MHz
7.000 – 7.300 MHz
14.000 – 14.350 MHz
18.068 – 18.168 MHz
21.000 – 21.450 MHz
28.000 – 29.700 MHz

It might be possible to work the group on one or more of the following modes: SSB, CW, AM, RTTY, PSK31, PSK63, MFSK16, JT9, JT65, PACTOR, PACTOR II, Clover, Hellschreiber, Olivia, Semaphore and Laser.

If able to get on the air, the group will use callsign WR5P and will QSL via LOTW. Follow the activities on Saturday via Twitter: @WR5P

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Storm Hunting With K5KAC

By K5KAC
A first-hand account of tornadic storms in Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In the Ozark Highlands, any freak weather event is met with awe and a healthy amount of respect, but more importantly it’s a great source of entertainment. I was in my socks, cleaning the QTH, and listening to the scanner traffic on my trusty Bearcat 145XL. I knew that there was a threat of severe weather in my area, and I was giddy at the idea of finally getting a change in the weather. It’s been a long winter, folks.

Around 4:30 p.m., I heard the local weather nets to my west start lighting up. It sounded like a large thunderstorm was brewing in the Springdale-Rogers area. I listened to the reports of the storm moving east, heading for the northern portion of Madison County.

I headed to a peak (1800 ft) behind my house where I could get a good look to the north. I could see the large dark mass, but there was no real definition to it yet. I checked the radar and noticed a little hook forming at the bottom of the thunderstorm. I heard hams reporting that it had crossed Beaver Lake and was continuing to track northeast and gather intensity. My stomach started to feel a little light.

I steered down the hill and set my sights for the open area of elevation about 5 miles south of the storm’s path in Forum, Arkansas. I parked in a driveway on Highway 23 that had direct north-south access. Hopping out of my car, in socks, the first thing I noticed was the warm air sucking around me and toward the storm. The thermostat was hovering at 73 F at this point.

I set up my vehicle and started communicating with my other Noise Blankers, and most importantly, our chief meteorologist K5KVN, so I could send and receive live updates. I regret to add that I did not check in to the poorly assembled net I heard on one of my local repeaters. However, I did monitor a few nets.

img_4849I snagged a picture at 5:34 (shown to the right), which I knew was a textbook wall cloud formation. The storm was already tornado warned, and the National Weather Service in Tulsa was doing an excellent job of disseminating information. Our local TV meteorologists also did a fine job of taking reports from social media and spreading the information. I could virtually watch the storm as it morphed into a EF1 tornado.

As the storm passed to my north, I felt the temperature drop by 15-20 degrees. I checked the radar and saw that the strongest point of the storm had passed Highway 23, and it was safe to venture a little further north. I stopped one mile south of the Highway 12/23 junction and met up with a first responder who was heading south. He reported that there was no serious damage to Clifty, so we ventured back north to offer help (we are both first responder trained) and to survey damage.

Luckily, there were no injuries. For about a half mile area north of the Highway 12/23 junction, I saw trees uprooted, a small shed blown about 20 feet, a service line to a house fallen, and shingles blown from the roof of a house. I could see the green-hued storm off to my northeast, now making its way into Carroll County. Nursing a nasty headache from the sudden pressure change, I took off my soaking socks and headed home.

Editor’s note: Here’s a great scientific explanation of the storms that hit Arkansas and Oklahoma that day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Woo Hoo! Look Who’s Two!

MEMO – DRAFT – FOR DISCUSSION ONLY

To:       Noise Blankers Radio Group associates
From:   Kevin Thornton K5KVN, Public Information Officer
Re:       HamHijinks.com‘s 2nd birthday!

I am proud to tell you that we have hit another milestone for our award-winning group. Two years ago, we were jacking around when we should have been working came up with a brilliant idea – let’s use our useless professional journalism and communications skills to start a website of hilarious ham radio news bits.

I remember when Gary WBØRUR said, “This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!” “It’ll be a hit!” He was right.

Nathan K5KAC was the first to ask, “Why would we spend our free time doing something like this?” “How can I help?” That’s the kind of sour “can-do” attitude we can do without like around here.

Andy K5PO got it right when he said, “Forget you.” “I’m in!”

I wish I had the time to find better employees thank each of you for your contributions to this project. Because I am so busy, I ask that you individually take a moment to ask yourself if you are pulling your weight pat yourselves on the back.

I know many of you are wondering why no one is advertising with us and we are still doing this for no money asking yourself how you can help make this burden thing called HamHijinks.com a cash cow even better.

Remember to just keep it funny, you LIDS team. Let’s take the time to laugh at ourselves and our hobby every once in a while. Loosen up.

Please get back to work come to the breakroom today to enjoy some cake, topped off with two Baefeng candles.

Thanks for nothing all that you do.

73,

Kevin K5KVN

 

 

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Coming Up Next

The Noise Blankers Radio Group HQ has been sparsely populated lately, as many folks have “called in sick” to work the recent DXPeditions. Now that those are in the log, we might actually get some real work done.

Hamfest season is just around the corner and we are making plans to attend a few. Lookout Claremore, we are coming to your Green Country Hamfest and have reserved a table to sell some stuff! Then we will head down I-49 to Ft. Smith for the Hanging Judge Hamfest in April. Good times and cheap coax will be had by all. (p.s., did you see this study that determined the top reasons for attending hamfests?)

A couple of years ago, we activated Horseshoe Island on Beaver Lake for the first time ever. We have been talking about an excuse to do it again and this is probably it: the U.S. Islands Awards Program’s One Day Getaway event on May 9, 2015. Look for a blog post about that in the future.

 

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