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Volume 29, Number 12 - DECEMBER 1999

December Meeting:  Friday December 17, 1999. 

Rich Stiebel, W6APZ will talk about Family Radio Service at the meeting on 12/17. People start showing up at 7 PM, but the meeting does not start until 7:30.

Why should hams be interested in FRS? Most of us have relatives or friends who have seen us communicating via ham radio and would like to have the same convenience, but for whatever reason, will not get a ham license. FRS provides one way to be able to talk to them. As hams, we are expected to know "everything" about radio. This talk will arm you with important information so you can be an "expert" on FRS.

Topics we'll discuss

What FRS is

Features allowed in FRS radios

Prohibited types of communication

What to look for when buying an FRS radio

Frequency channels available

Power output allowed

Typical uses of FRS

Real-life performance to expect

Cost of FRS radios and who sells them 

The speaker, Rich Stiebel, W6APZ, became interested in FRS when friends wanted to be able to communicate but had no interest in getting a ham license. He researched the topic and collected information from numerous sources to enable them to make an intelligent choice of FRS radios.

Thank you Les Zwiebel, WB6ORZ for an interesting program on restoring old radios at our November meeting (No, you can't have my mother's lunchbox 6 meter transceiver).

Safety Calculator

I found this RF safety calculator during one of my searches on the Internet. Maybe you would like to post the URL: [] Takes you to the home page with many interesting things in addition to the calculator DW]
Dirk, KE6ZUY

President's Corner

January is the month of our banquet and I encourage each of you to attend. It is going to be a great time, more in this Relay.


This year we will provide transportation for anyone who needs it. If you need a ride please call David Wilkes at 408-996-1613.

We are starting to plan for Field Day and we need your participation. We are going to ask you to commit early this year. In the past we have set up several stations to try to meet the wants of all. Last year we were very short of operators. This year if we do not have commitments to man the stations we will set only the ones that have operators.

We need a coordinator, captains and operators. We are asking you to commit early so you can get the last weekend of June marked on your calendar.



Jack WA6YJR 

Important Considerations

[Drawing of a Red Car] There is no reason for someone to stay away from the banquet because they are not comfortable driving at night. Hams are supposed to be caring people so we are trying an experiment. If you want to come and need a ride, call me. I will call a ham near you and arrange a ride. As a secondary consideration, I would like to make a list of hams who do not drink at the banquet so as to provide drivers for those who do. We are not getting puritanical here (God forbid), but it just makes good sense not to drink and drive with the consequences being so high (They even got a judge recently and dragged her through the press even though she was not legally drunk. Call me to arrange a ride, but please call early.
David 408-996-1613


President: Jack Eddy, WA6YJR
Vice President: Howard Califf, KE6PWH
Treasurer: Shel Edelman, N6RD
Secretary: Martin Liberman, KD6WJW
Training Officer: Paul Zander AA6PZ
Radio Officer: Mikel Lechner, KN6QI
Newsletter: David Wilkes, KD6WRG

Board members: Dirk Thiele, KE6ZUY; Dick Baldwinson, N6ATD; Hans Neumann, KE6TGA; Herb Davidson, KF6BKL; Arv Hamer, WA6UUT; Larry Moore, KM6IU; Charles Arney, KF6CUU.

K6YA Station Trustee: Stan Kuhl, K6MA

FARS Web Page:

FARS announcement mailing list is moderated, so you cannot reply directly to the list.
Also, note you can contact the FARS board of directors at
To subscribe/unsubscribe, send a message to:
In the e-mail message (in plain text) put:
subscribe fars-announce YOUR-EMAIL-ADDRESS
(e.g. "subscribe fars-announce")

The FARS Relay is the official monthly newsletter of the Foothills Amateur Radio Society Meetings are held at 7 PM on the fourth Friday of each month except January (Winter Banquet); and 3rd Friday in June, Nov. & Dec. Annual membership $20; family $25. Visitors are always welcome! Directions on the back page. Talk-in: W6APZ (145.23-, 100Hz) or W6ASH repeater (145.27 or 224.36). Contributions to the newsletter from members, family, and guests are earnestly solicited! Contributions subject to editing and/or compression. ASCII files via packet, Internet or diskettes preferred; but all readable forms welcome. Here is how to reach the editor:

VHF voice: KD6WRG on W6APZ, 145.23- (100Hz PL) FARS net Thursdays 8 PM; Various other times. Mail: 1093 Kelly Drive San Jose CA 95129-3222 Voice: 408-996-1613 (Until 9 PM); Fax: 408-725-1036, and at FARS meetings.


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Email: Owen@DeLong.COM


Livermore Swap Meet - 1st Sunday of each month at Las Positas College in Livermore, 7:00 AM to noon, all year. Talk in 147.045 from the west, 145.35 from the east. Contact Noel Anklam, KC6QZK, (510) 447-3857 eves.

Foothill Flea Market - 2nd Saturday of each month from March to October at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills. FARS NET on 145.23 repeater Thursday nights at 8 PM.

Jim, WE6V is running W1AW code practice sessions on the 145.23 repeater every Tuesday evening 8:00 to 8:30.

December Board Meeting

This month's FARS board meeting was held the evening of December 7, 1999. Present were Jack, WA6YJR, Arv, WA6UUT, Larry, KM6IU, David, KD6WRG, Howard, KE6PWH, Herb, KF6BKL, Dick, N6ATD, Paul, AA6PZ, Shel, N6RD, and Martin KD6WJW.

The subject was brought up of early preparation for the flea market (April) and Field Day (June). This is to avoid excess last moment activity looking for participants, etc.

Awards for net participation were suggested.

PARA and FARS will divide the expenses of the banquet door prizes.

Martin, KD6WJW

Amateur Radio Newsline

The low cost Ham Aid Box

Repeater owners and trustees might want to take note of a very intriguing article by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR that appears in the Fall 1999 issue of Amateur Television Quarterly magazine. Its called the Ham Aid Box and Bruninga says that it's a way to distribute text messages using an off the shelf piece of consumer electronic gear.

According to WB4APR, the caller ID units that many of us have in our homes use the same 1200 baud ASCII and Bell 202 standards as used on packet radio. He goes on to say that a caller ID unit hooked to the speaker of a mobile or base ham radio station can display up to four lines of text messaging. Since all caller ID units have memories, multiple messages can be stored.

The text message would have been generated by any ASCII capable TNC connected to the repeater. Bruninga says that this could make it possible to implement a universal and low cost amateur radio text distribution system, almost overnight.

(WB4APR Internet Posting)

Repeater sites: What hams are doing

As more and more radio sites come under the manage-ment of a small number of mega-corporations, free or low price radio sites for hams are quickly disappearing. And there have been reports of the mega owners doing all within their power to keep experimenters like hams off hilltops and roofs that they share with other site administrators. As a result some ham radio repeater operators have taken the extreme alternative of buying property and putting up their own sites.

Frosty Oden is also the owner of the site that hosts his systems. We asked him why he decided to make such a large investment for a hobby:

"When you are a tenant in somebody's building. First of all they feel like you are bending over backward to give you a lower rent. Second of all they are always in fear that you will bring an entourage up there and expose their expensive clients and radio equipment to some sort of a problem, lets say. And third of all, they seem to feel as though amateurs are, don't have the technological knowledge of exactly of how to keep from interfering anybody else. They kind of let you in with a sort of freighted look on their face." Frosty Oden, N6ENV

"If a group of Amateurs who want to put a repeater up get together with other Amateurs and try to pool their forces. Whether it's, oh I have a pole climber in my club, and I've got a technocrat who knows how to work on that, and Joe's club has a guy who has control of a sight, and somebody who knows how to build a simple cinder block building. If they join forces, I think that is the only way to conquer the problem.

Also I think those who do own sites like I do should try to open up, or at least make known that we do have vault space for the Amateurs." Oden

Oden says that the best way for hams to survive the coming repeater site crunch is begin pooling our resources and learning to share.

Unfortunately, more and more hams are now finding that the same mega-managers that evicted them from where they had been are also filing in opposition to building permits and even challenging land sales. They don't want hams near their sites for fear of interference from Amateur Station equipment and the possibility that some ham radio clubs might decide to rent their excess space to commercial customers. We will deal with this part of the story in a future Newsline report.


Solar Maximum could zap power grids

Communications satellites and power grids could be disrupted for the next three years because of intense solar activity associated with the upcoming Solar Maximum. Newsline's Bill Burnett, KT4SB, reports from Miami:

According to a report on the program This Week in Amateur Radio that in turn quotes other published news reports, starting in the year 2000, space storms, radiation showers and their affects on power grids are all expected during the upcoming maximum, which is expected to last about three years. And, according to administrators at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States is especially vulnerable because of its increasing dependence on satellites.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration officials say that these storms act to alter the Earth's magnetic field. Because of this, they may send strong enough electrical impulses that could overwhelm vulnerable power grids.

One of the strongest impacts occurred during the last solar cycle in 1989. That's when the entire Province of Quebec in Canada went dark because a geomagnetic storm caused a power grid overload.

To prepare for the possibility of a more widespread problem, NOAA scientists are using state-of-the-art scales designed to depict the severity and impact of upcoming solar storms on public safety and vital services. And while amateur radio operators await the solar maximum hoping for improved conditions on all High Frequency and VHF band conditions, others are at work in another important area. They are getting their emergency communications equipment and back up power systems ready, just in case.


FARS Banquet 2000

The speaker for the joint banquet with PARA on January 14 will be Bonnie Crystal. She will be talking about cave exploration. Spelunking with radios (No I did not make that word up). I have read several articles on her and her fellow explorers. It will be interesting. DW


Larry Moore and I made arrangements for our banquet.

We are going to go back to Michael's at Shoreline where we had our banquet in January 1998. The date we selected is January 14, 2000. This is a Friday night. It seems that January has become very popular for holiday parties as well as November and December.

We have decided on three menus. Roast Prime Rib of jus $29.80. Breast of Chicken. Piccata $24.65. Broiled Salmon,Lemon Beurre Blanc $27.55. Each entree is served with seasonal greens, "intermezzo" pasta, fresh vegetables, potato du jour, french rolls and coffee. We have selected cheesecake for dessert. The above prices include service at 17% and tax of 8.25%.

[Please fill out form below as soon as you know you are coming to the banquet. DW]

We will have a NO HOST BAR. Wine can be purchased for dinner by anyone desiring it. Incidentally house wine from the bar will cost $3.75.

We have chosen not to have Hors D'oeuvres during the cocktail hour. We felt it would increase to the price too much and weren't really necessary since it is a big dinner with the separate pasta dish. An alternative might be to have the Club buy the Hors D'oeuvres. To do it right would cost $200 to @ $250 for four to five trays with 50 items per tray. This can be discussed if anyone thinks we really need them.

The sooner people get this on their calendars the greater our chances of a good turnout. Of course a good program is important to a good turnout. The program committee should get busy. We have done our part.

We have indicated to Michaels a group of 50-60 with a tentative possibility of up to 100 if Paara joins us. They are flexible on this. We will discuss guarantees when it is time for the deposit.

Dick N6ATD
PLEASE NOTE: Michael's only does banquets. There is no restaurant service available. There may be some sort of vegetarian meal available if ordered well ahead of time. At this time we have no requests for special meals.

Please get your reservations in early; it is very difficult to plan and negotiate when we don't know how many are coming.  This will be the last newsletter before the banquet. There is no meeting in January.  Would someone like to make up direction signs for the banquet area?

[Map of Michael's at Shoreline]

How to get to meetings:
(Visitors always welcome)

FARS meets at the Covington School District building, 201 Covington Road, Los Altos. Take the El Monte exit (The same exit as for the Foothill Fleamarket) off of I-280 and go East on El Monte. Cross Foothill Expressway and turn right at the next light on to Covington (Note Saint William church on corner). Stay to your left as the road forks. Just past the fork, turn left into the school parking lot. Walk through the center hallway and turn right. The meeting room is the first door on the left. Talk in on 145.23 or 145.27, negative offset, 100 PL.

[meeting map]