Kevin Sanders

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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad declares June 23-29 as Amateur Radio Week in Iowa

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has declared June 23-29, 2014 as Amateur Radio Week in Iowa to celebrate the efforts of radio amateurs across the state and around the nation. (Proclamation text included at end of release.)

Amateur radio stations can make contact with other stations around the country and around the world, completely wirelessly, without the use of the internet or telephones, making these volunteers known for their resiliency, technical know-how and ability to go “off the grid,” providing critical communication capabilities when traditional means fail, such as cell phones, internet, and public safety radio systems.

As part of the amateur radio hobby, radio amateurs — commonly referred to as “hams” — give back to their communities by providing communications support to charitable organizations, special events, and federal, state, and local emergency management agencies at no cost. These volunteers purchase, build, and maintain equipment and infrastructure on their own in addition to receiving professional training and participating in exercises on their own time.

The proclamation comes days before amateur radio operators will take to the airwaves around the United States in a 24-hour exhibition of amateur radio called Field Day. Field Day is a publicly-held training exercise that helps radio amateurs prepare for emergencies. Skilled work and planning is required to select radio equipment, frequencies, and antennas to facilitate operating under less-than-ideal conditions. During Field Day, operators set up in remote areas, at shopping malls, or even in their own backyards, and get on the air using generators or battery power. Radio operators then try to contact as many other Field Day stations as possible.

The public will have a chance to meet and talk with area amateur radio operators and see for themselves what the amateur radio hobby is about. Showing the newest digital, satellite, high-frequency technologies and even historical Morse code, radio operators from across the nation will be holding public demonstrations of their emergency communications abilities. The public will even have opportunities to make contacts over the air.

In the Des Moines area, the Des Moines Radio Amateurs’ Association will be demonstrating amateur radio at Fort Des Moines Park, 7200 SE 5th Street in Des Moines. Setup and antenna-raising will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 28 with official activities beginning at 1 p.m. and continuing non-stop for 24 hours until 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. They invite the public to come and see amateur radio’s modern capabilities.

Visit the DMRAA Field Day website at http://www.dmraa.com/fieldday/ for maps and more information. For a complete listing of Field Day sites around Iowa, visit http://www.arrl.org/field-day-locator.

WHEREAS, the state recognizes the services amateur radio operators provide to our many emergency response organizations, including FEMA, DHS, and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management; and

WHEREAS, these same individuals have further demonstrated their value in public assistance by providing free radio communications for local parades, public fundraising events, fairs and other charitable public events; and

WHEREAS, the State of Iowa recognizes and appreciates the diligence of these “hams” who also serve as weather spotters in the Skywarn program of the National Weather Service; and

WHEREAS, amateur radio once again proved its undisputed relevance in the modern world in 2005 by providing emergency communications when other systems failed in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and again in 2011 in severe weather outbreaks in Joplin, MO., and the Southeast, and the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe in Japan; and

WHEREAS, these amateur radio services are provided wholly uncompensated; and

WHEREAS, the ARRL Field Day exercise will take place on June 28-29 and is a 24-hour emergency encampment exercise and demonstration of the radio amateur’s skills and readiness to provide self-supporting communications even in the fields without further infrastructure; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the week of June 23-29, 2014 as AMATEUR RADIO WEEK IN IOWA.

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Sending photos and messages over D-STAR with Bluetooth, the Icom ID-5100, and RS-MS1A

From left to right: Using the RS-MS1A Android app to send a 320x240px photo at "high" quality; sending a smaller 160x120px photo at "high" quality; and the received image of the image being sent at center.

I finally got enough of the components to reconfigure my mobile radio setup (more to come on that when it’s finished). I installed the new Icom ID-5100 with the optional UT-133 Bluetooth board. This allows me to connect my Android phone or tablet to the radio wirelessly and use Icom’s RS-MS1A Android app. The app’s most notable functions are being able to send pictures and text messages over D-STAR.

Not long after I got the Jeep all buttoned up and tools put (mostly) away, I started playing around with the new radio and app. There aren’t any other ID-5100 users in the area, so I used the DPLUS echo function (the letter “E” in the last position of URCALL) to echo the voice and data stream after the repeater stops hearing my transmission.
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K0KDS does Dayton: Hamvention 2014 recap

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I’ll be completely honest. I’m not one that particularly enjoys hamfests. I don’t need to buy anything, especially any used, over-priced, and out-dated equipment, and I don’t like getting up early. I make it to approximately one hamfest per year. Maybe my work schedule has something to do with that, but not really.

Ever since I’ve been licensed, I’ve been told that you have to go to Dayton Hamvention “at least once”. I tried to go last year, but a change in position in work preempted that from happening. This year, I decided, would be the year to go, after a few prods on Twitter.
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From firehouse to social club

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On my dinner break at work today, I decided to walk down to the Des Moines Social Club which will hold its grand opening tomorrow night. The social club’s venue is the former headquarters for the Des Moines Fire Department and was renovated for its new purpose for $8 million. I was most curious to see how familiar the building was after renovation since I had spent some time there as a kid.
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Des Moines Sunday Register: Volunteer storm spotters ‘critical in severe weather’

Des Moines Sunday Register:

Right now, Iowa weather seems content to make residents miserable by dishing out another barrage of freezing cold and snow.

But soon, the environment will dramatically change its harassment tactics.

The snow will melt, and the air will warm. But with this seemingly wonderful gift comes the dark side of spring: thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes.

And when that severe weather strikes, an army of volunteer storm spotters will fan out to feed data to the meteorologists at the National Weather Service. This information from the front lines of storms will help the scientists better interpret radar data, issue more accurate warnings and keep people safe.

“The information from storm spotters is absolutely critical in severe weather,” said Jeff Johnson, warnings coordinator for the weather bureau in Johnston. “This information can, has and will save lives.”

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