Tour of National Weather Service Facility
On Saturday, April 8, 9 of BRARC’s members met at the NWS (National Weather Service) Facility in Slidell, LA to begin the tour led by Frank Revitte. We first gathered in the conference room where Frank talked about the organizational structure of NOAA and where the NWS fits in. Oddly enough, the NOAA is actually under the Department of Commerce. This is when we learned that NWS-Slidell not only serves as a weather forecast center but also as the Lower Mississippi Forecast Center for river flow from north of Memphis and northeast of Chattanooga to the Gulf of Mexico. The Slidell center operates 24/7 and this Saturday there were 4 meteorologists and hydrologists working. The Center employs approximately 40 staff.
We then walked over to the operations room where we met Mike Shields and Mike Efferson, meteorologists, who showed us some of the forecast weather modeling they were working on. Frank told us that the NWS Centers augment their weather data by launching a weather balloon every day at 2 different times from a point just outside the main building at the same time every day. Approximately 90 NWS Centers located throughout the US follow this same routine every day. The balloons are tracked by GPS and data such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, atmospheric pressure, etc. are sent back to the site which released the balloon payload.
Besides battery backup Slidell also utilizes 2 diesel generators for emergency electrical power to the operation center and for the Doppler Radar located just outside the building. Should routine communication channels fail, a 700 MHz system and a VHF/HF system are activated.
John Guthans, AA5UY, Emergency Coord. for Region 9 and Ron Riviere, WB5CXJ, with the Ozone Amateur Radio Club were also present to answer our questions on that aspect of the operation. Their HF transceiver is an ICOM738 which feeds a 75/40 m 40 ft inverted V antenna located just outside the building. Should all else fails, weather operations would continue from the Mobile, AL and/or Lake Charles, LA NWS Centers.
All good things come to an end and with that we left Frank and the NOAA-NWS Facility about 11:30 and drove another 15 minutes down to Vera’s Seafood Restaurant and had a nice seafood meal.
By Thornton Cofield, K5HLC
Club Meeting 01/31/2017
Our January meeting included the presentation Adjusting Your HF Receiver by Dick Burroughs, N5KIP. A PDF copy of his presentation is available here. The last two pages have many links to online resources.
Dick’s presentation also included the following video clips:
Holiday Banquet 12/10/2016
Members and guests met for lunch at Mike Anderson’s Seafood for the installation of officers for 2017, presentation of awards and an entertaining guest speaker.
Outgoing President Dick Burroughs, N5KIP, highlighted the many club activities of 2016 with a slide presentation. Dick also conducted the installation of new officers for 2017, as shown below.
The new officers for 2017 are:
- Jon Reise, WA9JBR, President
- Robin Hudson, KK5RH, Vice President
- Todd Huovinen, AB5TH, Secretary
- Ken Shutt, W5KQ, Treasurer
Awards were announced for two members. Brett Hebert, KG5IQU, was recognized for his activation of many sites for the National Parks On The Air program. Brett and his family members made many contacts from temporary HF radio installations at many National Park Service Administrative Units and official Affiliated Areas in south Louisiana. Brett and his family were not available to receive the award on this date.
David Assaf, W5XU, was recognized for his participation in the South Sandwich Island and South Georgia Island DX’Pedition. For twenty days during the month of January 2016 David spent his days and nights on the islands of South Sandwich and South Georgia which are both located in the Antarctic Region south of Argentina.
Our guest speaker was Tom Aswell, author, political blogger, and publisher of Louisiana Voice. He gave a very entertaining presentation, with many audience questions, on the content of his book Louisiana Rocks! The True Genesis of Rock and Roll.
Club Meeting – October 25, 2016
Dick Burroughs opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and then introduced the two presenters and their topics.
Todd Huovinen, AB5TH, gave a very informative talk on shortwave listening. Breaking the topic up into several components Todd said that his interest in radio began when he was a kid listening to shortwave stations around the world. As his interest grew so did his understanding of radio theory and his thirst for more knowledge. Several of his favorite easily affordable shortwave radios were discussed as well as what he considered the best receivers.
Todd offered several guidelines for successful listening of those DX stations. Principal among these were good listening skills followed by having an adequate antenna, although not expensive, and knowing when the best time was for receiving radio signals according to atmospheric conditions. Todd said that he still enjoys shortwave listening but now he enjoys talking to other amateurs around the world.
Paul Catrou WA4MXT, next demonstrated the do-it-yourself component of amateur radio. Paul showed his home built extremely inexpensive electronic keyer based on Raspberry Pi Zero as the principle component. Using the approximately $5 Raspberry Pi Zero and an assorted array of parts Paul built an extremely versatile keyer that allows the user to modify several of the keyer’s functions. He then demonstrated through programmable software that the user can easily adjust the wave tone, length of the dits and dahs, and also the keying speed.
Both talks were entertaining and informative for both the new member’s perspective to the more advanced builder.
A Visit to Mr. Charlie
On Saturday, Oct. 29, ten of our club members made the trip down to Morgan City to tour Mr. Charlie, officially known as The International Petroleum Exposition. We were met by our guide Randy and Sam Rock (K5MOB), who would explain the repeater setup on Mr. Charlie. Both did an excellent job as team guides with Randy talking about what it was like living and working aboard the early drilling platforms for up to 14 days at a time while drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Randy walked us through the rig explaining the various equipment and tools such as slips, tongs, drill pipe and drill bits. Sam shared his knowledge of mainly the high tech electronics that is so integrated with today’s drilling technology. The 1 hour tour took just over 2 hours with both Randy and Sam fielding questions such as how rigs are stabilized for drilling in the Gulf and what is drilling mud used for in drilling. The tour ended with Sam showing us where the repeater equipment will be a housed on Mr. Charlie. Mr. Charlie is still used as a training site for men and women going offshore as roustabouts, cooks, and other support personnel. After the tour we made a short stop at the 21 ft. flood wall protecting Morgan City from the Atchafalaya River flooding. Jackie Price, KA5LMZ, and Deborah Price, N5FMI, from the Morgan City radio club (BEARS) greeted us at the flood wall.
Our second tour stop was at the Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum. For those who have ever paddled a pirogue the video of early cypress logging which showed loggers standing in their pirogues hand sawing a cypress tree at least 6 ft in diameter would be especially interesting. The aviation section of the museum had a sensory enhanced three panel video of the early aviation pioneers in Patterson, LA and served to encourage all of us, especially the two pilots in our group, to look over the pristine collection of Louisiana’s award winning racing planes and engines of the 1930s.
We ended our day with a short visit to Adam Morales’ unique open air driftwood art gallery in Pierre Part.
Club Meeting – 09/27/2016
Frank Revitte with the National Weather Service spoke to the Baton Rouge Amateur Radio Club on severe weather forecasting in Louisiana at the club’s September 27 meeting.
Weather conditions proved to be extreme for Louisiana and the Mid-West beginning in early 2016 and continued throughout August. Mr. Revitte reported that warm December temperatures and higher than normal atmospheric moisture content to heavy rainfall without accompanying snow contributed to high water run-off throughout the Mid-West basin. By March rainfall totals in Louisiana were already exceeding extreme probability occurrence levels.
By early August the southern part of the U.S. was experiencing a slow moving low pressure system from the East and when combined with the Gulf waters which were unusually warm, extremely high atmospheric moisture, and several other weather related factors which lead to rainfalls far exceeding the ground’s ability to disperse the runoff without flooding the urbanized areas. While North Louisiana had its share of flooding in March it wasn’t until the heaviest recorded rainfall of 31.39″ over a 72 hour period in Watson, Louisiana and the cresting of several rivers at 5 feet above the last recorded flood stage did the Baton Rouge area realize the full brute force of an unnamed weather occurrence. Mr. Revitte ended his talk by stating that the Weather Service was still trying to determine what happened weather wise and what is the overall meaning of what we experienced. In answer to a question from the audience Mr. Revitte stated that typically global warming is associated with extreme weather conditions.
Club Meeting – 08/30/2016
32 members and guests attended the August BRARC meeting which was devoted to ARES and the American Red Cross response to the LA Flood Disaster.
Michael Nolan KD5MLD (right) presented an ARES power point, describing the organization and the value they add, by providing trained operators during a disaster. Steve Irving WA5FKF (center) talked about the Red Cross response, by sending Hams to shelters to provide communications when the AT&T cell coverage went down. The Louisiana ARES was activated and numerous Hams came from as far as Alabama to provide communications. A total of 31 Amateur Radio operators were used during the disaster. Robert Hobbs N5ULA, the District 2 DEC is pictured at the left.
Club Meeting – 07/26/2016
BRARC’s July General Meeting at the EBR Main Library was attended by 35 members and visitors. Presentations on the new Yaesu System Fusion repeaters, recently installed at BRARC’s two repeater sites, were well received. A presentation on Advantages of Operating CW followed. Table-top demonstrations on repeater software and various CW keys were available for members after the meeting.
Photos courtesy of Thornton KG5HLC
Club Meeting – 05/31/2016
The annual BRARC Meet & Eat meeting took place on May 31st at the Highland Road Park Observatory (HRPO). There was plenty of food and drink to go around for the hungry members and their guests. Jon, WA9JBR reminded everybody of the Museum Ship Weekend (June 4 & 5) event and the LIGO tour (June 18). He announced the possible running of an Extra Class License course to be offered at a future date. Dana, AD5VC discussed plans for Field Day 2016, to be held on June 25 & 26 at HRPO. Signup sheets were passed around for equipment and duties for the weekend event. Dana is now accepting signups for operators/loggers for 1-hour slots. Three stations running on battery power, will consist of 1-CW, 1-Phone, and 1-Mixed mode transceivers and will be available for 24-hour operation. A 4th GOTA (Get On The Air) station will be available for new operators and the public. Chris, KE5PQO announced that BREC will be advertising the event on their website and newsletter. Chris expects a possible 100 visitors for the event.
Setup will begin at 8 am on Saturday with the operation commencing at 1 pm Saturday and lasting 24-hours. Contact Dana Browne, AD5VC to sign up or just come by and join the fun of Field Day 2016.
Gus Gikas, W5HRF Honored at Club Meeting
Baton Rouge Amateur Radio Club ‘s Jon Reise, WA9JBR, presents a special recognition certificate to Gus Gikas, W5HRF, for 78 years as a license amateur radio operator. First licensed in 1938, Gus retired from the military and relocated from San Antonio to Baton Rouge after 2000. Gus is an active member of the club and is a regular check in on the 2 meter Sunday evening net.
Gus was among the many members and guests who enjoyed the presentation Survival in the Antarctic – The 2016 VP8 Expedition, by David Assaf, W5XU, at our April 2016 meeting.
Holiday Banquet 12/12/2015