Thursday, August 10, 2017

OREGON ECLIPSE BALLOON LAUNCH - VOLUNTEERS NEEDED



I am looking for fellow hams (and, perhaps, non-hams) from Eastern Oregon to help chase a balloon that will be launched from Unity, OR during the total solar eclipse on August 21st. If you can help, please contact me directly -  - L. Paul Verhage KD4STH, nearsys@gmail.com, 208-514-5000.



2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering - Update 02A


The OFFICIAL source of info for the 2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering can be found at:

  http://tinyletter.com/nwaprssg

… where you can sign up to receive email bulletins about Summer Gathering.

DATES

The 2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering is:

  • Friday September 8
  • Saturday September 9; the main day, presentations begin at 9:00 (presentations)
  • Sunday September 10 (informal, debrief, departure)

Many folks arrive on Friday, or even Thursday, for socializing. Saturday is the main day and presentations start approximately 09:00, with breakfast at 08:00. In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided (see below). Sunday is primarily for the folks that stay overnight, and a breakfast is provided. Sunday morning is a debrief and/or general discussion. There is no lunch provided on Sunday.

As of today (2017-08-09, Summer Gathering is only 30 days away!)

BACKGROUND

The NW APRS Summer Gathering is a very social and educational event right here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s great fun and a great opportunity to learn and practice just about anything you can do with a computer and your ham radio. Summer Gathering started with a focus on Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS - http://www.aprs.org) but the presentations are now on many facets of digital / data communications in Amateur Radio and related subjects. Some of the most fun of Summer Gathering is the informal discussions between like-minded hams from different areas, and the “show and tell” benches with a chance to see and operate different digital Amateur Radio systems.

VALLEY CAMP

If you have not previously attended a Summer Gathering, it’s held at Valley Camp (http://valleycamp.org), an incredibly beautiful campground near North Bend, WA with lots of nature trails and birding opportunities for the family along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Elk and deer abound and can often be observed in the main clearing of Valley Camp.

Valley Camp offers hot showers and a bunkhouse, tent camping, and RV camping. It’s located near North Bend, WA and is 10 minutes off of I-90 at Exit 34. At the bottom of the Exit 34 ramp, turn Left (North) and continue 1/2 mile past the convenience stores and truck stops and watch for the right turn onto SE Middle Fork Road (County Road sign says Valley Camp 2.2 miles). Continue to the "Y" and take the Left on SE Middle Fork Road (the lower road). Follow until you come to the STOP sign. The entrance to the camp is straight ahead across the small intersection. Please note: there is road work (still) underway on the main road to Valley Camp. It may well be complete by the time of Summer Gathering, but we cannot be certain of that. In previous years, the road work occurs AFTER Valley Camp. Please note: The speed limit once you enter Valley Camp’s grounds 5 MPH because of dust, kids playing, wildlife, and adults shooting antenna wires in the air.

Coordinates for Valley Camp’s entrance are Lat 47.4680 and Lon -121.6808 (Don't forget the minus on the longitude or you'll end up in Mongolia!) Valley Camp’s Amateur Radio club call is WA7VC and the club IS on APRS. Check it out on http://aprs.fi/wa7vc.

If you do plan to stay overnight in a bunk, tent, or RV, you must contact Teena at Valley Camp to secure a spot - email teena@valleycamp.org. (Please don’t contact Steve N8GNJ about this - you must contact Teena DIRECTLY).

As is the norm for the Pacific Northwest in September, you should come prepared for the weather to be hot... or cool... or wet... or dry. The seating is picnic benches in a shelter, so you might wish to bring your own camp chair.

FIRE DANGER / POOR AIR QUALITY - NO FIRES

As of this writing, because there has been no measurable rain in the greater Seattle area for 50+ days, the fire danger is EXTREME, which means there can be no candles or campfires at Valley Camp (or anywhere else in the greater Seattle area). At present, the air quality is poor so not even charcoal fires are allowed. This could change by the time of Summer Gathering, but that is the situation at the moment.

CELLULAR IS SPOTTY, LIMITED WI-FI AVAILABLE

One caution... due to the terrain and the location, cellular service is spotty at Valley Camp. There are places on the grounds that cellular service will work, but generally not at the picnic shelter where the presentations are held. There is Wi-Fi Internet access, but the bandwidth is limited - please don't plan on downloading videos or other high-bandwidth activities.

DONATIONS

Summer Gathering operates on donations. A campground like Valley Camp incurs significant expense in hosting an event like Summer Gathering (even though it’s informal). To date we’ve been able to keep Summer Gathering going for 20 years now based on donations instead of charging a hard fee like most similar events do. We suggest a donation $25 and you can donate cash in the donations mailbox at the Valley Camp picnic shelter where Summer Gathering is held, or you can donate with a credit card by talking to Teena at the event.

INFORMAL PRESENTATIONS, SHOW AND TELL

As always, the presentations will be informal, primarily about Amateur Radio digital communications such as APRS, Packet Radio, digital communications in general, and related subjects. The agenda is still being organized and will be detailed as the event gets closer. If you have suggestions or are willing to make a presentation, please contact Steve Stroh N8GNJ - steve.stroh@gmail.com. As always, there will be room for "show and tell" tabletop demonstrations.

Activities


Presentation: High Altitude Ballooning - L. Paul Verhage KD4STH
I did a presentation on this subject at the 2016 Summer Gathering and people told me they really enjoyed it. I plan to do a followup presentation this year. With any luck, I will have images and data from a balloon launch I am doing for the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st (see below).


I will bring a drone and can get an aerial shot of all the attendees.


(Potential) Activity: Balloon Launch - Volunteers Needed
Is there interest in launching a balloon like we did at the 2016 Summer Gathering? Depending on the winds, the tracker launch from Valley Camp may end up in the mountains. In that case, I wonder if someone has a Tracker that they wouldn't mind losing? To do this we need a volunteer to purchase and deliver a tank of hydrogen (cheaper) or helium (more expensive) brought to Valley Camp. Depending on the type of tank, return may be required. As I'm coming from Idaho, I'm unable to provide the helium. If there are any volunteers to assist me in this activity please contact me directly - L. Paul Verhage KD4STH, nearsys@gmail.com, 208-514-5000.

MEALS

Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast will be provided. Apologies in advance, but we can't take requests such as special meals such as vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, etc. If you have dietary restrictions, please plan on bringing and storing your own food (the refrigerator in the shelter will not be available). The meals are provided as a donation by Tina and Steve Stroh (though donations for the expense of the food are appreciated).


BYO BEVERAGES

Coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and water will be provided. If you wish to bring bottled water, canned soda, or “adult beverages”, please bring your own cooler and ice, and perhaps enough to share with your fellow attendees.

PLEASE REGISTER!

To plan well for a great event, and especially to ensure that we have enough food (and cake - it is the 20th anniversary event) please fill out the form at: https://goo.gl/3P5zpZ (updated, more reliable link - apologies for the very long one in the previous bulletin). We really need to know how many people to expect! As of 2017-08-09 15 people have confirmed that they will be attending Summer Gathering... out of 134 people on this distribution list. Please - let us know if you're coming by filling out the form.

NWAPRS Homepage Update


The free-for-life after an initial charge web server at Cloud at Cost has implemented a $9 annual maintenance fee.   Sorry folks but your flakey service isn't worth that.

Better alternatives for the future are being evaluated.

Until something new is put in place, I'll be using the blogspot site. - http://blog.nwaprs.info  

The first update will be redirecting the www page here.

73
Bill, WA7NWP

Sunday, August 28, 2016

nwaprs.info homepage


The too cheap to be true cloud web site hosting our nwaprs.info homepage is being troublesome.  A better solution will be found real soon..

73
Bill

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 NW APRS Summer Gathering - Update 05, 2016-07-15 - Facebook Group and New "Registration" Form

Happy Friday!


As of today, it's now exactly 8 weeks now until the 2016 Northwest APRS Summer Gathering at Valley Camp!

NWAPRS has a Facebook group! Please like us there for updates posted there to appear on your Facebook feed. We know that Facebook is very popular, and we'll try to regularly update information about the 2016 Summer Gathering there.

There is now a form online to "register" to attend the 2016 Summer Gathering. Register is in quotes because, as always, all are welcome at the Summer Gathering, but it really helps the organizers to have an idea of how many are planning to attend, and some other basic info for planning purposes. This is a change from the previous request to send an email to Thom K7FZO at Valley Camp to indicate that you're going to attend 2016 Summer Gathering - the form will serve this purpose, and Thom and Teena are very busy during the summers at Valley Camp.

UNCHANGED - If you plan to stay at Valley Camp for the 2016 Summer Gathering - bunking, renting, or camping, please DO email Teena K9HAV at Valley Camp that you'd like to discuss staying over. 


Thanks,

Steve Stroh N8GNJ
listmeister for the Northwest APRS Summer Gathering
2016 event: September 9-11, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Like NWAPRS on Facebook



It's come to my attention that NWAPRS is on Facebook. Please click on this link

https://www.facebook.com/groups/111038378958696/

and Like us to be notified of updates in Facebook.

Now that we're gearing up for the 2016 Summer Gathering, we'll start posting on Facebook also.

Steve N8GNJ

2016 NW APRS Summer Gathering - Update 03, 2016-07-13

Hello again.

This is announcement list for the Northwest APRS Summer Gathering, held annually, usually the weekend after Labor Day (September), at Valley Camp near North Bend, WA.


Updates

It's now just over 8 weeks to the Northwest APRS Summer Gathering on:
Friday, September 9, 2016
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
at Valley Camp near North Bend, WA.

Theme(s)?
The Northwest APRS Summer Gathering has evolved to encompass more than just APRS over the past few years, and sometimes it helps when planning an event to develop a theme. There's a lot that has been going on in 2016 relating to digital / data communications in Amateur Radio. One that comes immediately to my mind are the incredible, and rapidly evolving capabilities of the "SDR receiver dongles" (there are many names - that's just a generic description). For under $100 - the price of the receiver dongle and a Raspberry Pi, you can have an incredible receiver dedicated to a single purpose, such as monitoring aircraft transponders and plotting them on a map.

Another advancement is the Raspberry Pi 3... what would be considered a supercomputer 20 years ago (literally - compare the MIPS available of a Raspberry Pi versus a Cray supercomputer of 20 years ago) and you have an amazing computer that you can afford to dedicate to a specific Amateur Radio task, such as monitoring one specific repeater, a packet radio system that can operate in a window of your primary computer, etc.

Those are just a couple of ideas for "themes" - I hope you have some ideas and I'll have more ideas for themes to share in the next few mailings.


Demonstration / Display Area - South Side
It's mentioned only in passing that the NW APRS Summer Gathering encourages "show and tell" by providing space (picnic tables) on the south side of the shelter for demonstrations. If you've got something notable to demonstrate, please do so. Remember that it's "first come, first served" for table space - no reservations. Also, please be considerate and don't take over a table in the demo area if you aren't actually demonstrating something.

Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
One change for the 2016 event is that on Saturday, in addition to providing Saturday breakfast and lunch, dinner will be provided for those that plan to stay overnight. As usual, there will be a Sunday breakfast provided for those that stayed overnight, or those few that come back for the Sunday sessions.

We've recruited a great cook - Tina Stroh KD7WSF to coordinate logistics of meals and manage the cooking. That frees up Curt Black WR5J to more closely manage the presentations and the overall event... and just generally have more fun as an attendee. If you'd like to help regarding the meals (logistics, cooking, etc. pleaseemail Tina KD7WSF.

As always, breakfast, lunch, and now dinner, isn't "mandatory" - you aren't expected. If you wish to not attend or bring your own food (such as RV owners), that's perfectly OK.

As the event gets closer, we'll ask for head counts for those that intend to stay for Saturday dinner to minimize wasted food and expense.

Also as always, there's no charge for meals - they're provided by various people (NOT Valley Camp*) donating the food for such a neat event. If you feel strongly about contributing (and we hope a number of you do), we ask that you contribute to Valley Camp to help keep this wonderful venue going.

* Valley Camp and Teena K9HAV do provide coffee and hot tea all weekend long, with help from Boyd's Coffee and we thank Teena and Boyd's Coffee.

Call for Presentations

Now that Curt Black WR5J doesn't have to worry about meals for 2016 NW APRS SG, as soon as he's done with communications for RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day), he'll start working on organizing the presentations for Saturday. If you have something you'd like to present, or there's a topic you'd like to see (someone else provides a presentation about), please email Curt. As noted, he's a bit busy at the moment, so you might not receive an immediate reply.


Administrivia

If you plan to attend the 2016 NWAPRSSG, please email Thom K7FZO at Valley Camp that you plan to attend. This helps gauge interest and otherwise plan the event. If you plan to stay at Valley Camp for the 2016 NWAPRSSG - bunking, renting, or camping, please email Teena K9HAV at Valley Camp that you'd like to discuss staying over. 

There is no one (web) place for info on the NWAPRSSG, but given that it evolved out of the NW APRS group, the NWAPRS Blog and the NWAPRS Wiki are probably the best web pages for info on the NW APRS SG (as soon as they're update with info on the 2016 event).

Although I started this list, and I'll likely continue to manage it, I don't intend to be the exclusive person to post to it. If you'd like to post to this list to provide information about the NWAPRSSG, drop me an email and I'll explain how to do so.

This list is an "announce-only" list - any replies you make won't be posted back to the list, but go to me as the list administrator.

Feel free to post this link to any other appropriate list of Amateur Radio Operators that might be interested in attending the 2016 NW APRS Summer Gathering, or forward this link via email:
http://tinyletter.com/nwaprssg

Please let me know if you'd like to be taken off this email list, or your email address changed, etc.; email me.


Thanks,

Steve Stroh N8GNJ
listmeister for the Northwest APRS Summer Gathering
2016 event: September 9-11, 2016