Thursday, August 10, 2017


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,, 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:

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


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!)


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 - 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.


If you have not previously attended a Summer Gathering, it’s held at Valley Camp (, 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

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 (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.


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.


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.


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.


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 - As always, there will be room for "show and tell" tabletop demonstrations.


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,, 208-514-5000.


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).


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.


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: (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. -  

The first update will be redirecting the www page here.

Bill, WA7NWP