From The President (K3DSM Gene)

From Paragraphs Jan 2000

Thank you for allowing me to be your President for the next two years. I am looking forward to serving PARA in this new capacity, although I have been very involved with the board over the years. PARA faces many challenges going into Y2K. One of the biggest is to bring PARA back into the mainstream picture. We need new members. We need you to keep up your membership. We need you to attend meetings and bring guests. We need you to monitor the repeaters. The meetings are worth attending.

PARA has had more than its share of problems over the last years with towers coming down, due to forces of nature. We lost towers at Valley Forge, Worchester, and Bacton Hill. That accounts for the poor coverage of 76 in the last few years. There was also a lightning hit that took out some expensive equipment, including one of the ACC controllers. PARA does not have unlimited resources to rebuild instantly. The board and technical committee have been taking steps to not only get 76 back up with a strong signal, but have a backup transmitter that can be remotely switched on from a second site. A new tower was erected in December. The 76 antenna has been placed, and 76 is again alive and well.

We are also in the process of trying to secure replacement 16 inputs for those we lost. The prospects look very good. As you should see, many things are happening and others going to happen. It takes time and it takes money. We need your membership and we need every one else's we can find. Please, turn the radios back on, and talk up PARA. Help enlist everyone that you can. We have regained a few in the last weeks with all the activity.

94 hasn't been this alive in years. 76 is almost as active. There has been a change of the 94 repeater location since K3ECV's site/house has been sold. The board has studied the best alternatives and the repeater moved. More on this in an announcement in this Paragraphs.

I have also found some other members that have become involved to help PARA. Lloyd Roach is now back on the board, and he brings his much needed expertise. Lloyd was a key to the arranging for the new 94 site and possibly one or more of the new 16 inputs. Lloyd was responsible for arranging for a crane for the Valley Forge site a few years ago when it was desperately needed. I have also found Joe Valardo and convinced him to join the Board. He is the Chester County RACES Radio Officer and he has much to offer.

Most of us are caught up with computers and the Internet. We have lost many to the Internet and so has ham radio in general. This is not healthy for our hobby that has given us so much. How hard is it to set up your radio near your computer and monitor while you are surfing? When you find something interesting, you could give a shout on the radio. When that new program crashes your computer, give a shout and someone should be there to share ideas. Got an email virus? Let everyone know by making a call on the radio. Did you just get a new gadget? Let everyone know. 76 has always been designated the prime calling frequency. It's just that everybody forgot. I do surf and like email, but I am not going to give up ham radio to the computer. I use them together. By the way, there are new web pages just for 76 and 94 with pictures of the recent work. Look for the links from the PARA main pages.

I also believe there is more of a future for APRS/Packet. I have recently set up an APRS station and I like the idea of the messaging built into it. I had no idea that there was communications built in as I found. Its not just the positioning reports and beacons, but actual unconnected communications on packet via APRS. The best part is you can have an APRS window open while also connected to the Internet. TAPR and Tigertronics have neat modules that connect to your mobile radio to send either pre-programmed messages or position from a GPS. I have purchased the Tiger-tronics that I hope to have on-line soon. I am hoping to find enough interest to set up a receiver on the 76 system to pick off these signals and send them to the APRS frequency. GPS units have come down in price and the mapping is really neat. I use the Garmin Street Pilot and Mike, N3QLZ, my son, uses the Delorme system.

I made up a large banner for PARA and it is being used at some of the hamfests and functions. I personally set up a PARA booth at the Mid-Atlantic Hamfest in Kimberton last July. By the way, if you didn't go, you missed a good hamfest in an excellent location. I hope to include some computer information into Paragraphs including fixes for 98, technology news, and neat hints. I also know of used computer boards and parts that may be of interest to members. Help me help PARA and find former members and get them involved again. I want to also make sure we have special programs at PARA general meetings so we have more of a draw. Actually, there have been some good ones already. Please come to the meetings and bring a guest. The next one is May 16, 2000 Tuesday. Keep this in mind and watch for a good drawing card. I have always been active mobile on 2 meters over the years, but recently just started monitoring at work. At home, I have also turned the scanner back on including many ham frequencies. How about turning yours back on?