The MARA-VARA Monitor

JUNE 1997 -- Volume 97:06

This is the web page version of the MARA/VARA Monitor.

The Monitor is published monthly by the Massanutten Amateur Radio Association Inc.
(a non-profit organizations under the IRS reguilations),
for radio amateurs in the central Shenandoah Valley.



Hello again, fellow hams and members.

Well, we had a good meeting for May, once we found a place to sit! Due to a mixup at the restaurant, they weren't expecting us, so they quickly accommodated us in the room for meetings. (It helped that a lot of club members chose to eat supper there, so we could fill several tables.) The assistant manager assured me that that won't happen again!

I hope everyone enjoyed their meal. I was impressed by the spread they had; many choices, and very good. Thanks to Al N3JB for presenting the program on how to extend rotator lines at less of an expense than buying heavier wire.

The weather finally warmed up, and with warm weather brings the outside chores, which in turn limits radio activity, so there wasn't much of a surprise when no one made it for the trader's net on the 19th. Don't be discouraged, though, we'll still schedule it for the 3rd Monday night of each month and get into a routine. Then, when fall and winter come, everyone will be geared up to participate. Field Day is only weeks away. I hope everyone is making plans to at least visit the site, if not operate. Don't be shy; there was a first time to operate for everyone. Someone will help you if you aren't familiar with the routine or the computer contest program. Just holler! And remember: IT NEVER RAINS AT FIELD DAY!

David Tanks, AD4TJ


Looks like we had a real good turnout for our May meeting. It was good to see everyone again, thanks for coming. We covered a lot of ground and got a lot of business taken care of. Joe Meek KD4FKT, brought the Club Banner and it looks "GREAT" so thanks Joe, for a job well done.

I have three books left, "Now You're Talking" we are letting these go for $15.00 each so if you want one call me at home 540 886-0347 or on 147.045.

We also have a new Club Call W4MUS. Bob N4ICT, is the caretaker for this call and we can use it at any of our club events.

Thanks to Ray KE4HVR for the handouts at the meeting.

Ken KE4GKD, has made up a new and up- to-date roster for our next meeting. This will be the last roster handout this year. Ken will keep it up-to- date but no more copies.

I will not be at the June meeting. I will have to be out of town. It's "job related", so give Ken your support.

Thanks to all for coming to the May meeting and see you at FIELD DAY!

Pat Smiley, KD4WWF,


Saturday morning, April 26, was a lovely morning for getting out and getting some exercise. And that is exactly what some 650 people (and a couple of dogs!) did that morning: "walking for someone you love", the 1997 March of Dimes WalkAmerica.

Some people pushed strollers, some pulled their children in wagons, but all seemed to enjoy the event. Even the dogs came back wagging their tails and with a smile on their faces (if dogs can smile). Of course, maybe the dogs were just looking for the leftover barbecue chicken and hotdogs, too.

The walk raised about $63,000 in just over 2 hours. As in years past, the local ham radio community furnished volunteer communicators to assist with the administration of the event. Those helping were:

Thanks to all of you for your time to come and help with the radio communications.

The March of Dimes staff again expressed their appreciation for our help, and want us to help again next year. Also, a number of the walkers stopped by and thanked us for our participation and assistance.

Our thanks to N4RAG, N4RAF, and N3RIQ for the use of the 147.225 repeater for the event.

Norman Benner,


The Staunton March of Dimes Walk occurred on May 3rd. The VARA club covered this walk and an excellent job was done by all. I would like to thank the following amateurs who helped.

The routes were covered well and I think all enjoyed the walk. Also thanks to Ken KE4GKD, who could not make the walk, but made up the maps and literature for the walk. Thanks again, and see you at Field Day.

Pat Smiley,


Word has reached us that the rare grid square FM25, which includes Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, will be activated on VHF around the Fourth of July this year. For those hams who collect grid squares, this provides a rare opportunity. This grid square is almost entirely over open water, and radio activations from this location are very unusual. Operation will be on or around 144.225 single-side- band, and should be workable from the Shenandoah Valley. For more information on this event, contact your newsletter editor.


The proverbial "good time was had by all" on the trip to Greenbank on May 10. For those of you new to the area, Greenbank is the site of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, our nation's ears on the radio spectrum, listening to the radiation from the stars, galaxies, quasars, and other objects in our sky. Every few years, the MARA and VARA clubs, in conjunction with the Albemarle Amateur Radio Club, sponsors a trip to the observatory to keep up with new developments.

A total of 18 people from both sides of the Blue Ridge attended on a cold, wet, windy day.

Construction on the Greenbank Antenna, which is the large antenna that is replacing the old 300' antenna that fell in 1988, is coming along nicely. It is approximately 70 percent complete and has a completion date of late 1998. It is already two years past original completion estimates and probably won't be finished by the end of next year.

We will probably schedule another trip either next year or the following year. So keep it in mind and make plans to attend on the next trip, which will be in the middle of May. See you next time!

Joe Meek


Ham radio licensing examinations are conducted at the Massanutten Vo-Tech Center on Pleasant Valley Road in Harrisonburg on the second Saturday of every even-numbered month. The next exam will be on Saturday, June 14th. Sign-in starts at 9:00 am, and the examinations themselves start at 10:00 am sharp. For more information, contact Brown Snyder, N4ZHV, at 540-434-3133.


Once again, area hams have brought the excitement of amateur radio to Rockingham County school children. On Monday, May 12, hams including Bob W3MMC and Paul WV3J set up a demonstration station at John C. Myers Middle School in Broadway, Virginia. The pair worked 2- meters, as well as HF, and made contacts via the 146.625 repeater, and throughout the east coast (Ontario to Florida) and Midwest (as far as Indiana) on SSB using 40 and 80 meters. This is the second time that hams have helped with the Myers Middle School Science Fun Day.

Information furnished by
Paul, WV3J


The local ham community has suffered several losses during the past few weeks.

Warren (W.G.) Kyger, WD4RJY, of Shenandoah, Virginia, passed away in early May. Many local hams may remember "W.G." from his 2-meter activity in the early 1980's.

Also, Katherine McCulloch, the wife of George McCulloch (WA3WIP) of Luray, passed away on May 12th.

Neil Sullivan, the grandson of Leon "Rosie" (WA4ZQW) and Mamie (WA4ODD) Rosenberger died in an auto accident on May 23rd.

And Kenneth Good, father of Ed Good, KC4HYO, passed away in mid-May.

Our sympathies go to the families of these loved ones.


Old-Timers in the valley may remember the famous "Blue Book" published a few years ago which listed the licensed amateur radio operators in Rockingham and Augusta Counties, along with reference information on the local 2m repeaters.

A new edition of that book has been compiled by David Fordham. (The compilers of the old edition graciously relinquished rights to the "copyright" --- they said they'd learned their lesson and would never do something so foolish again!)

The new edition covers not only Rockingham and Augusta counties, but the entire region served by the MARA and VARA clubs (Augusta, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, parts of Bath, Rockbridge, Albemarle, and Highland counties, as well as some West Virginia locations.)

The new edition is abridged those hams who have become silent keys (where known), nor does it include novices who have not upgraded for more than five years. It also does not include license class, license issue/expiration dates or birthdays.

It does, however, include phone numbers (where known), Internet email addresses (where applicable), club affiliation, and numerous new addresses where the licensee has not yet informed the FCC of a new mailing address! The information is cross-indexed by callsign, as well as by name and by town.

The new book will sell for around $6 per copy, but special arrangements have been made with the printer to have the initial copies run at a discount. For the initial run, the price will be $5 if hand- delivered at a meeting, or for $7 if you want it mailed to your home.

To get a copy, contact David Fordham by phone at 540-234-0448, or email:, or leave a message at his voice mail (540-568-3024), or use the 146.625 repeater on weekday mornings between 8 am and 9 am.


Don't know if you caught the score for Richard Seal, KD4UPF, for the September 1996 VHF QSO party. He placed 2nd in the state of Virginia, 5th in the southeast region that includes 11 states and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with a score of 29,637 points, 238 contacts, and 89 multipliers. This was in the Jan 1997 QST, page 113.


Gerry, K4RBZ, is looking for a manual (or a copy of a manual) for the MFJ-989-B 3kw VersaTuner antenna tuner. If you have a copy of this manual, please contact him at 540-434-0440.


Since the MARA club moved its July meeting to July 10th because of the July 4th holiday, the Monitor deadline can be delayed to allow the submission of field day reports. Please have your material in the newsletter editor's hands no later than Monday morning, June 30th.


Anyone that can house the club's collection of Field Day and Emergency Response radio equipment, please contact Dick Weaver, W3HXH, as soon as possible at 540-867-5600. Dick and a few others have graciously stored this equipment for some time but now need the space. If you have a corner of a garage or some other suitable place, please call Dick as soon as you can, preferably before Field Day.

Colin Hester


Do you live in one of these areas?

  1. In Harrisonburg, north of U.S. 33 (Market Street).
  2. In Rockingham County, anywhere outside of Harrisonburg or Bridgewater town limits.
  3. In Augusta County anywhere outside of Staunton or Waynesboro.
  4. In Page, Shenandoah, Bath, Highland, or Rockbridge County outside of a town.

If you live in any of the above areas, there is a very good chance your address has changed (or will soon be changing!), and you need to let your newsletter editor know your new address!

If you live in area (1) above, in Harrisonburg north of Rt. 33, chances are good your ZIP code changed recently from 22801 to 22802. Did you know that?

Unfortunately, your newsletter editor has no idea who lives north and who lives south of U.S. 33.

If you live in areas (2), (3), or (4) above (in the county outside a town or city) and had a Rural Route address (such as Route 1, Box 425), you have probably been assigned a new street address, (such as 532 Pinetree Lane) as part of the 9-1-1 locator system. Augusta County is about 95% complete in assigning street addresses to the former route box holders. Rockingham, Page, and the other counties are not far behind. And again, your newsletter editor has no idea what your new address is.

Bottom line: Please, please let your newsletter editor know of your new street address. Many post offices (such as Weyers Cave) have already informed their customers to start using the new addresses. The old route box numbers will be phased out over the next few months. If you don't give the editor your new address, once your post office stops using the route box numbers, you will not (let me repeat the word NOT) receive your newsletter, since bulk mail is not forwarded, nor is it returned to sender to advise us that you didn't get yours!

So, keep the newsletter editor informed of your address as soon as it changes! Help keep the Monitor in your mailbox where it belongs, and out of the landfill!


From Gerry Brunk, K4RBZ, 540-434-0440:

From Bill Bearden, KC4TQF, 540-337-5179:

From Jeremy Clark, KE4CAY, 540-433-5136:

FREE - Come Take It Away!

From Gerry Brunk, K4RBZ, 540-434-0440:

From Ed Good, KC4HYO, 540-867-0811:

From David Tanks, AD4TJ, 540-248-1207 after 4:30 pm, or email at:


For the first time in recorded history, this year's MARA/VARA Field Day event will issue points for individual performance in addition to the clubs' performance!

Are you interested? Then read on!

The clubs' points will count for the ARRL score and will figure how well the club does in the International Field Day competition. The individual points, on the other hand, are to see who can do the most to sell ham radio -- specifically the excitement of field day -- to someone who is not already in on the fun!

Yes, that's right. You can earn your own individual points (brownie points, that is) by bringing someone to field day with you. If you bring a non-ham who is interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio operator, you earn 10 points! If you bring a non- ham who is not necessarily interested in becoming licensed, you earn 5 points. But you earn an additional five points if the person leaves with an interest in the hobby! If your non-ham earns his license within six months of this year's Field Day, you earn 25 bonus points!

If you bring a licensed ham who has never operated Field Day before, you earn 3 points. But you get an additional seven points if that ham upgrades at least one license class within six months of Field Day.

And if you bring a ham who has operated Field Day but has not participated with the MARA/VARA group in at least five years, you get one point.

What are the prizes? Well, that's a secret. But you can bet that there will be plenty of fun on the mountain this year. The clubs will be operating class 2A again this year. The enclosed Field Day information sheet lays out who is in charge of which station, so you will know who to contact to sign up for your favorite operating time! Field day is for everyone! Even if you don't yet have a license, come and talk around the world under the control operator! Competition is secondary. The primary purpose is to have fun!

Adopted by MARA and VARA Amateur Radio Clubs

Be it understood that:

  1. As a participant in Field Day operations, whether club member or visitor, you are using equipment that may belong to someone else. Care for it as if it were you own.

  2. No repairs or modifications shall be made to any equipment without the owner (or owner's designated representative) present.

  3. Any apparent malfunction of the equipment shall be reported immediately to the owner.

    Be it further understood that:

    1. Equipment which is brought to the Field Day site and made available for use is done at the owner's discretion, and said equipment should be supervised by the owner or his/her designated representative.

    2. Any damage to, or failure of, the equipment at Field Day will be the responsibility of the OWNER, and NOT that of the sponsors, organizers, or management of the Field Day activities.


    From Interstate 81, take Exit #240 (State Route 257, the Bridgewater/Mt. Crawford exit) and go west towards Bridgewater. Follow route 257 as it enters Bridgewater. It will turn right at the traffic light (Hardee's is on the corner), and head north on Route 42. As you come into the town of Dayton, Route 257 will turn left (1 block before the Dayton traffic light!). --- Follow Route 257 west forever! Route 257 makes a sharp left turn at the stop sign in Ottobine, and turns right at Briery Branch. At the entrance to Hone Quarry campground, Route 257 bears left (crossing the new bridge), and becomes Forest Road 294. Continue to follow the paved road up the mountain about 5 more miles.

    Finally, you will reach an intersection where the hard road makes a hard left turn, and two dirt roads go left and straight ahead. Keep as far to the right as possible, following the right- most dirt road for another half-mile to the Field Day site. If you need assistance, call on the 147.315 repeater (transmit up 600 khz, no PL) for talk-in.

    This page contained a map to the Field Day site. It can not be easily electronically duplicated.

    This page contained the manually-prepared chart of Field Day Activities. It can not be easily electronically duplicated.


    By Ray Colvin, KE4HVR

    NiCd battery chargers deliver constant current at a fixed number of milliamperes (mAH); pulsating DC is best, but steady DC also works well. The traditional charging method is to apply current for 14 hours, using the following formula:

    I = C / 10

    I = the charging current in milliamps, and
    C = the capacity in mAH (milliampere-hours) of the battery to be charged.

    Example: for a 1.7 amp-hour battery (1700 mAH battery), the recommended charging regimen would be 170 mA's of current delivered for 14 hours. (derived by dividing the 1700 mAH by 10).

    The 170 mA's of current is not a critically precise requirement; any charging current between 150 and 200 mA world work just as well.

    The advantage of using the C/10 charging formula is that the battery can withstand more charging if you leave the charger connected an hour or two over normal charging time, no harm done.

    Further, any NiCd battery can safely be "trickle" charged at C/50 for months to keep it constantly ready for use.

    Every NiCd battery consists of one or more 1.2-volt cells in series. The battery's energy storage capacity is measured in ampere-hours (AH) or milliampere- hours (mAH).

    For example, a 1.0-AH (1000-mAH) battery can supply 1 ampere for 1 hour or 1/2 ampere for 2 hours or 0.1 ampere for 10 hours and so on.

    NiCd cells are different from lead-acid and gel-cells when discharging. As the NiCd cells discharge the voltage doesn't drop off gradually --- instead they remain nearly constant until the very end, then the voltage will fall suddenly. Have you ever been talking on your HT and before you noticed the Tx light was not on? The person on the other end replies, Your battery just went dead! That's how quickly it can happen.

    Do not run NiCd batteries all the way down. If NiCd's are run all the way down there is a good chance of one or more of the cells reversing charge and damaging the battery pack.

    But by the same token, you should use up most of the battery's capacity before putting it back on the charger. NiCd batteries develop a "memory" if you use them for only an hour or so and put them back on charge for several times in a row. This "memory" effect, once developed, means that the battery will not hold its original capacity, but instead will only hold the amount of current "used" between the charges which created the "memory".

    It is best to use a NiCad battery pack until the battery light comes on or until it stops transmitting then put it on charge for the recommended time in your owners manual.

    Lead-acid and gel-cell batteries act a little differently from NiCads. These batteries discharge gradually under a load until the voltage gets below the required voltage to transmit. These batteries can be charged after short periods of use because they do not develop a memory.

    NOTE: When charging batteries with a charger other than the original charger, be sure to check the polarity and the output in mA's of the charger and match these with the original equipment charger. Failure to do this will result in: (1) Reversing the polarity of the battery. (2) Over charging and ruining the battery pack. (3) Under charging and ending up with a battery pack that only lasts for a short period of time transmitting. Reversing polarity could easily happen, especially if you are using clip leads to make your connection.

    This area contained a spreadsheet-based table, which can not be reproduced in a text-only ASCII file. See the paper copy of the Monitor for the data.


    Norman, KA4EEN, is still looking for net control operators for the Rockingham County ARES nets. If you are available, please contact Norman at 540-289-5801.

    Calendar Items: The Manassas Hamfest is on June 1-2. --- The Charlotte Hamfest on June 8th. --- The Six Meter International contest is June 21-22. --- The Big Mountain Repeater Association's Annual Bob's Knob Bash is scheduled for August 17th. --- The trader's net is still on the 147.315 repeater on the third (3rd) Monday of each month right after the ARES net.

    The FCC has just released a new Form 610, dated March 1997, that--among other minor changes--now includes a space for your Internet address. The new form is available via the FCC's Internet site ( and via the FCC's fax- on-demand service (202-418-0177; to obtain Form 610, the form number to request is "000610;" Form 610A is "006101;" Form 610B is "006102;" and Form 610V is "006108." Form 159, of interest to some vanity filers, is "000159"). According to staff members at the Gettysburg FCC office, the FCC will continue to accept any of the three Forms 610 (dated November 1993, March 1995 and March 1997) until further notice.

    Vanity update: On May 20, the FCC's Gettysburg office processed vanity call sign applications received between April 1 and May 14. Of the 919 applications, 456 resulted in new call signs and 463 wound up in the work in process (WIPs) stack for special handling. The FCC has not indicated when vanity Gate 3 for Advanced Class operators will open.

    Outgoing QSL Service reminder: Rates for the ARRL's Outgoing QSL Service have increased. The current rate for members is $4 per each pound of cards or portion thereof (one pound equals approximately 150 cards). A package of 10 or fewer cards sent in a single shipment costs $1. Add $1 for each additional 10 cards or portion thereof. Checks or money orders are preferred (please write your call sign on all checks). Do not send postage stamps or IRCs. DXCC credits cannot be applied toward any QSL Service fees.--Martin Cook, N1FOC

    All MARA members are reminded that if you renew your ARRL membership through the club, the club gets a $2 gift back from the ARRL. See Dick Weaver, W3HXH for details.

    May 1, 1997 Meeting

    The regular monthly meeting of MARA was called to order at 7:30 p.m. at the new Golden Corral by the president, David, AD4TJ. There were 29 members and two guests present.

    Committees reported as follows:

    ARES: Norman, KA4EEN, thanked all those who participated in the March of Dimes Walk in Harrisonburg. A sheet was passed for amateurs to sign up to conduct the net through May and June. Other information appears elsewhere in this newsletter.

    FIELD DAY: Paul, WV3J, reported he needs operators and urged all to come and take a turn. The first meeting of the committee has been held and the second meeting planned. Consult the Newsletter for more info.

    Some Kenwood reports were circulated for members to read and take if they were of particular interest.

    Treasurer was absent so there was no treasurers report. Rusty, N4YET, was asked to receive any funds for the treasurer.

    OLD BUSINESS: Dale, KD4DAI, reported the building for the new repeater was done except for wiring. Some holes were dug on the mountain for the piers. However, there was a lot of rock and blasting would be needed.

    NEW BUSINESS: The meeting for July has been changed to July 10th because of the time of the regular meeting would conflict with 4th of July holiday.

    50/50: Drawing was held and Sandy, KE4PZC was the lucky winner.

    The program was presented by Al, N3JB, dealing with the problem of having to place your tower and antenna on a hill some distance from the ham shack. He lives in a low area and needed to place his antenna on top of a hill some 650 feet from the equipment. He described how he used relays, cable, etc. to solve the problem successfully.

    Respectfully submitted
    Wilton B. Thomas (KF4BFL)

    May 14, 1997 Meeting

    The V.A.R.A. club meeting was held at Gavid's Restaurant in Staunton on May 14, 1997. The meeting was opened by the club president, Pat Smiley (KD4WWF) at 7:30 P.M.

    There was one upgrade in which Pat Smiley (KD4WWF) passed his 13 words a minute code test.

    There were no A.R.E.S. or Skywarn reports.

    The 50/50 winner was Doug Zirk (KE4RMD). The total amount was $30, which was split between Doug and V.A.R.A. club.

    Herb Hays (KF4DOV) was voted in as a club member.

    Donnie Mowbray (N4RAG) will be having a pig roast for the club. The club voted to sponsor this event in which a location, date and time will be announced later.

    The secretary's report was accepted as printed in last month's newsletter. Ken Harris (KE4GKD) made the motion to accept and Joan Pitsenbarger (KF4CWR) seconded.

    Ken Harris (KE4GKD) gave the club an update on Field Day and all that will be going on, especially what will be needed to prepare for this event.

    Joe Meek (KD4FKT) presented our new club banner to the members.

    The club, by majority vote, decided to be affiliated with the ARRL. To maintain this affiliation, a club must have at least 51 percent of its members being ARRL members themselves.

    There was a motion to adjourn the meeting by Dick Waldmuller (WB8GIF). Buck Mowbray (N3RIQ) seconded and the meeting was adjourned at 8:25 P.M.

    Submitted By:
    Douglas S. Zirk (KE4RMD)
    V.A.R.A. Secretary

    The newsletter editor would like to thank everyone who contributed articles this month.

    End of this month's issue.


    President: David Tanks, AD4TJ
    Vice-President: Walt Lam, KF4BFB
    Secretary: Wilton Thomas, KF4BFL
    Treasurer: Richard Weaver, W3HXH
    Board (exp 97): Bill Edmundson, W4IMS
    Board (exp 98): Sandy Mullins, KE4PZC


    President: Pat Smiley, KD4WWF
    Vice-President: Kenny Harris, KE4GKD
    Secretary: Doug Zirk, KE4RMD
    Treasurer: Charlie Garner, WA4ITY

    The Monitor is published monthly by the Massanutten Amateur Radio Association, Inc., a non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Service regulations. The Monitor is distributed to all full current members of the MARA and the Valley Amateur Radio Association under reciprocal agreements of the two clubs. All articles, comments, and material for the Monitor should be sent to the Editor, David R. Fordham, KD9LA, 131 Wayside Drive, Weyers Cave, VA 24486.

    This web page was prepared from
    an ASCII version of the Monitor,
    by David R. Fordham, KD9LA

    It does not necessarily contain all information
    which appeared in the paper copy.