NI4CE regional linked repeater system

News

NEW HOLIDAY LINKING ANTENNA

A new LINKING Antenna is now operational at the NI4CE Holiday repeater site. Located at the ninety foot level of the main tower, this antenna will improve the quality of the link between Holiday and the main NI4CE LINK site. The improvement will also provide a redundant path to the backup LINK site should that be necessary.

This is just another example of how we are making the NI4CE Repeater System more reliable.

 

LAKE PLACID REPEATER RETURNS TO SERVICE

Highlands, DeSoto, Hardee and Eastern Charlotte County Hams can, once again, get into the NI4CE analog repeater system through the 443.950 MHz repeater in Lake Placid. The repeater was returned to service Tuesday, January 2nd after being off the air due to a Power Amplifier failure. We apologize for any inconvenience this outage caused.

WHERE HAS 2017 GONE?
By Paul Toth-NB9X

There is a belief that as you get older, time goes by at a much faster rate. Of course, there is no truth to this belief as time passes at a constant rate. It just seems more fleeting.

I guess it all depends on your perspective and the events of the day. Take September 2017, for example as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Peninsula it seemed there just wasn’t enough time to take care of all those last minute storm preparations. Then Irma made landfall and we anticipated the worst while hoping for the best. As the worst of the storm approached, it seemed Irma and time could not fly by fast enough. It only got worse as we began picking up the pieces in the days following as we wondered when power would be restored and when the incessant drone of all those generators would cease.

It’s been three and a half months since Irma, Harvey, and Maria. For some, the task of rebuilding is still front and center, particularly in Puerto Rico. For the rest of us, hurricane season is in the rearview mirror and our attention has hopefully turned to things a bit more mundane. We will go through the next few months in relative peace (we hope), still amazed at how fast the last twelve months passed.

We can’t spend too much time trying to figure out where 2017 went because 2018 will bring with it a whole new set of challenges. And, if we are up to it, we will have 31,536,000 seconds (give or take) to adapt to change, troubleshoot what we discover but don’t understand, revel in and enjoy our successes and learn from our mistakes. If we are lucky, boredom will be around just long enough to motivate us to succeed in our next challenge. If we are smart, we will take time to enjoy our lifestyle, our family, our surroundings and a little Ham Radio. And hopefully, we won’t waste time chasing windmills or the political nonsense that permeated the last twelve months. And when a new Hurricane Season comes around in June, we will have taken the necessary steps to weather whatever Mother Nature has in store for us.

Now, for the shameless plug. Take a few precious seconds (after you finish reading this article) to kick off 2018 the right way. Make a positive commitment to Ham Radio and a real fashion statement at the same time by visiting the “Ham Radio Lives Here” T-Shirt section of the NI4CE.org website. Your $35 (or more) contribution will help the West Central Florida Group, Inc. maintain the NI4CE Repeater System and keep it from succumbing to the ravages of time. And to demonstrate their gratitude and acknowledge your generosity, WCFG, Inc. will send you a NI4CE T-Shirt so you are properly attired wherever you are. That’s what a WIN-WIN looks like!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year! And may 2018 be a banner year for Ham Radio!

 

“HAM RADIO LIVES HERE” T-Shirts are now available

For a limited time, and with a $35.00 or more tax-deductible contribution, a classic, stylish (and in your size) royal blue NI4CE “HAM RADIO LIVES HERE” T-Shirt is our gift to you.  Just click on the Contributing Members tab below and can get your HAM RADIO LIVES HERE T-Shirt just in time for the Holidays.  Please include your complete address, phone number, call sign and size (M, L, XL, 2XL or 3LX) in the comments field. 

Your $35 or more donation gets you a great T-Shirt as well as Contributor Member status plus you help keep the NI4CE multi-site linked repeater system on the air.  If you are able to itemize your Federal Income Tax deductions, your contributions to WCFG are also tax deductible.  More information about Membership levels is available on the Membership web page.

Enhance your Amateur Radio experience now. Just click on one of the buttons below to make your tax-deductible contribution via PayPal. The West Central Florida Group, Inc. also accepts checks and money orders which can be mailed to:

West Central Florida Group, Inc.
11931 92nd Way North
Largo, FL 33773-4321

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Support us when you do your holiday shopping. Go to smile.amazon.com/ch/65-1061382 and Amazon donates to West Central Florida Group Inc.  

Here is how it works.   Before making your next purchase from amazon.com, open your Internet browser and go to https://smile.amazon.com/ch/65-1061382 or click on the banner below.  Using the hyperlink or banner below, you won’t have to search for West Central Florida Group, Inc. as your AmazonSmile charity among almost one million other charities.

Login with your usual Amazon Username and Password.  Then, every time you make a purchase from amazom.com, Amazon will donate one half of one percent of your purchase to keep the NI4CE Repeater System on the air.  That’s fifty cents for every one hundred dollars you spend.  Five dollars for every one thousand dollars you spend.

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IS IT REALLY “HAM RADIO”?
By Paul Toth-NB9X

During a recent discussion on Facebook, I was asked for some tips on NXDN radios. The person asking was a fellow Ham I know who wants to become active on the NXDN digital repeaters here in the Tampa Bay area. After giving it some thought and knowing a little bit about what this Ham was interested in, I posted my thoughts for him to consider. Shortly thereafter, another person posted a comment which I thought was somewhat telling. The comment stated in part, “But you can’t buy any of those radios at a Ham Radio store.”  (..more..)

The new NXDN Repeater in New Port Richie in Pasco County on 442.650 MHz (+) RAN-1 is on the air. The new NXDN repeater is linked full time with the NI4CE NXDN repeaters at Riverview and Verna and has been tested thanks to N4PK and WA4ISB.

NXDN users are encouraged to participate in the new weekly NXDN NET at 8:00 PM on Wednesdays. The NXDN NET is only on the three NXDN repeaters.

IT’S SNOWBIRD SEASON
By Paul Toth-NB9X

Every year around this time, the great migration of the North American Snowbird starts in earnest. When I first moved to Florida almost twenty years ago, I was fully aware of the migration of Canadian Geese (the ones that fly in V formation) and the elegant, oversized Sand Crane to habitats along the Gulf of Mexico. Being a Wisconsin native, I can’t blame any living being for leaving the Arctic cold and snow in Dodgeville, or Nekoosa or Eagle River (all places I have been in Winter) for Bradenton, Port Charlotte or Lake Placid (FL not NY).  (..more..)

HOW FAR WE’VE COME (or have we)
By Paul Toth-NB9X

I was reminded of just how far we have come when a note from a Ham Radio friend of mine. He sent me a quick email commemorating the 71st anniversary of the first photo of our planet taken from outer space. That first image was from a camera onboard a V-2 rocket launched in October 1946. WOW!  (..more..)

WHAT IS “PM” AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT?
By Paul Toth-NB9X

If you have forty dollars or so invested in a radio, you probably consider it a “disposable appliance”. In the accounting world, it would be considered an “expense item” rather than a more expensive “capital investment”. Nevertheless, you are going to want to continue reading because what I am about to share with you is important. Now, if you have made a more substantial investment into your radio, you want to do everything you can to protect and optimize your investment.  (..more..)

WISH LIST
By Paul Toth-NB9X

Amateur Radio was the great proving ground for many of the communications devices that ultimately ended up in the hands of the masses. In fact, the whole concept of portable, go anywhere two-way radios was a staple in Amateur Radio long before the cell phone came along.  But in the mid-1980s, cellular communications devices and infrastructure made their way to the marketplace. Early cell devices were big, bulky and heavy.   (..more..)

CAN WE MAKE IT BETTER?
By Paul Toth-NB9X

As we continue to pick up the pieces from this year’s spate of intense and destructive tropical cyclones, there are questions about what worked (and why) and what did not work (and hopefully, why). Were our expectations high enough? Was our vision broad enough? Did we individually and collectively have a realistic view of how to prepare, how to response and, so to speak, weather the storm?    (..more..)


DISASTER TRAFFIC
By Dave Rockwell-W4PXE

Lots of hams on NI4CE wanted to help during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. After all, many of us became radio amateurs to become public service operators in the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES). There were questions every night on Eagle Net about how to get health and welfare (H&W) traffic into first Texas, then the Caribbean, and, after Maria, into Puerto Rico.   (..more..)

CAN WE FIX THIS?
By Paul Toth-NB9X

For those of you who were fans of the old “Six Million Dollar Man” TV series you will recall how the show opened every week with the proclamation “We have the technology”. Then, along came Star Trek and the Borg. It was the Six Million Dollar Man mass produced and on steroids.  (..more..)

A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE
By Paul Toth-NB9X

If you live in Florida, anywhere in Florida, the last week has been extraordinary. For many, life is getting back to “normal”, if you define “normal” as electricity from a power utility, air conditioning, a hot shower and most if not all the other conveniences of life prior to Hurricane Irma. For many others, however, “normal” is still an elusive target. And Hurricane Season still has a long way to go.  (..more..)

ST. PETERSBURG REPEATER PROJECT UPDATE

The effort to put a new NI4CE Repeater on the air in St. Petersburg is on hold. New ownership of the site for the proposed repeater rejected the West Central Florida Group’s proposal to operate the repeater from that site. So, at least for now, our hopes of having a renewed presence in Pinellas County to better serve the Amateur Radio community are on hold.

We would like to thank those who generously stepped up to help underwrite this project. We will be contacting shortly about your contribution.

More pertinent articles about Amateur Radio and Repeaters are located under the Articles navigation tab.

DISCLAIMER

One or more websites may be intermittently streaming the NI4CE repeater system audio. None of these sites are affiliated with the West Central Florida Group, Inc. or our ni4ce.org website. The West Central Florida Group, Inc. has not authorized these streaming websites and has no control over the content or quality of the product being streamed.

NI4CE NOW ON FACEBOOK

The West Central Florida Group, Inc. and NI4CE is now on Facebook. We invite you to visit our new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NI4CE and like us. Once you have, check in with us often for all the latest Amateur Radio and NI4CE information.  You can also click on the Facebook icon on the banner above to go directly to our Facebook page.

All Of Your Contribution Goes Directly to Work

Fox News ran a story recently about how charitable giving is not getting to the charities to which people are donating.  The cost of call centers, contractors, salaries, etc. are taking a BIG BITE out of the apple with sometimes little of the contribution going to the intended use. 

ALL of your contributions received by the West Central Florida Group, Inc.  are used to operate the NI4CE Repeater System and APRS Network.  The Board of Directors are 100% volunteers.  Your contributions get the most “bang for the buck”.

NI4CE Operating Code

The NI4CE Repeater System provides all licensed West Central Florida Amateur Radio operators with a “regional” communications resource to advance Amateur Radio commitment to public service and encourage fellowship among all operators.

The NI4CE System serves all or parts of fourteen counties.  It is a shared communications resource for the over twenty thousand Amateur Radio licensees who live here and the hundreds of visitors who join us annually.  When using the NI4CE System, the West Central Florida Group, Inc. asks you to:

• Keep your transmissions as brief and to the point as possible.  Please keep the Total Run Time for each QSO to ten minutes or less.  Remember, there are many other operators waiting to use the repeaters.
• Please leave pauses between transmissions, particularly when there is weather in the region that may be severe.
• Please observe FCC Part 97 Rules at all times, particularly the provisions of 97.113.
• Transmit power in Florida is limited to 50 watts in Florida.
• Please turn off special features including WIRES and other “sounders” that may delay your communications.  Kerchunking is frowned on.
• Observe the “Golden Rule”.  Common sense, courtesy and respect is contagious!

If you have a NXDN Digital Radio, Talkgroup 65000 can be used to connect to the NXDN Worldwide Network.

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SKYWARN ACTIVATIONS

Here is the information the National Weather Service is most interested in knowing during any SKYWarn ACTIVATION ON on the NI4CE Repeater System:

  • Winds of 35 MPH or higher
  • Rainfall of two inches or more in an hour
  • Flooding
  • Hail of any size
  • Tornadoes
  • Weather caused damage
  • Street closures

During Tropical Weather Events, Barometric Pressure data is also helpful.

Keep reports SHORT AND CONCISE. During bad weather, repeater time is valuable. Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Avoid unnecessary comments and verbiage.

It is requested that you NOT report non-severe weather, such as “It’s cloudy with light rain” or “the rain is letting up here”. The National Weather Service has radar and knows where it’s not raining. Reports such as this tie up valuable repeater time.

When reporting severe weather activity, please provide your Amateur Radio Callsign, your National Weather Service SKYWARN ID (if you have one), the location of your report and an approximate time of the severe weather event (if other than NOW).

Please turn off any “Roger Beeps”, “WIRES” signaling or the use of DTMF tones as they will interfere with your report.

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The Real Cost Of A Repeater System

Here is a cold, hard fact.  Amateur Radio and Ham Radio Repeaters are not FREE!

Consider the following:

  • Tower or building top space for the average Amateur Radio repeater is worth approximately $1,500.00 per month.  The cost of tower space on tall Broadcast towers is even more.
  • Commercial-grade Repeaters, RF Amplifiers, DC Power Supplies, Duplexers, Antennas and transmission line are expensive.  How much?  A new repeater can cost $2,000 or more.  Commercial-grade RF Amplifiers can run $1,400.00 or more.  A set of duplexers can cost as much as $3,000.00.  A commercial-grade antenna built to withstand winds of 130 MPH can cost as much as $2,500.00.  7/8” hard line cable can cost up to $9.00 per foot plus connectors (up to $100.00 each) plus installation.
  • Even though many Amateur Radio repeaters lie dormant for extended periods of time, they must be built for a one hundred percent duty cycle to withstand the impact of extended operating time when they are in use.
  • An Amateur Radio presence on a “commercial” or broadcast tower requires multi-million dollar Liability Insurance coverage that can cost the repeater owner $2,500.00 per year or more.  This is a direct, out of pocket expense.
  • A tower crew to install an antenna and transmission line on a three hundred foot commercial tower can easily cost $4,000.00.

The West Central Florida Group, Inc. operates the NI4CE Repeater System to enable the Amateur Radio community to be connected and pro-active when severe weather threatens, Health and Welfare messages need to be passed or whenever the West Central Florida community needs our support.  Our IRS 501(c)(3) charitable status enables our corporate partners including Cox Media Group Inc., iHeart Media, Vertical Bridge and others,  to donate tower space and the use of ground facilities to house the repeater equipment.  That provides significant financial relief.  All other capital and operating expenses require cold, hard cash.  Operating an Amateur Radio repeater, much less a five site, eight repeater system is not FREE!

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OUR CORPORATION ID NUMBER IS 65-1061382. OUR CHARITABLE REGISTRATION NUMBER IS CH 16854.

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