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..)
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..)
LAKE PLACID REPEATER BACK ON THE AIR
The NI4CE Repeater at Lake Placid (Highlands County) is back on the air and better than ever. The 443.950 repeater was returned to service Tuesday afternoon after being off the air since Hurricane Irma.
We would like to thank everyone who contributed to help underwrite the cost of the new ICOM FR6000 repeater and the repair of the failed power supply. Your generosity is most appreciated.
And a special thanks for Paul-N4PK, Richard-KQ4KX and John-KK4LI for their efforts to make this all possible.
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..)
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.
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 Gets Amazon.com’s SMILE Program
The West Central Florida Group is pleased to announce it is now participating in Amazon.com’s “AmazonSmile” program.
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.
Tell your friends and neighbors about the Amazon Smiles program, too. The more who participate and select the WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA GROUP, INC. as their Amazon Smile charity, the more the NI4CE Repeater System can do for you.
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.
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
- Hail of any size
- 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.
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.
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 800-435-7352 WITHIN THE STATE OF FLORIDA. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES AT www.FloridaConsumerHelp.com