2018 NW APRS Summer Gathering, North Bend, Sept. 7-9th

From the folks who run the NW APRS Summer Gathering:

Summer Gathering 2018!
Back for the 21st year it is once again time for the Annual NWAPRS Summer Gathering
This year September 7-9 (always the weekend after Labor Day) at Valley Camp  6 miles east of North Bend Washington.
For us location precision nuts the GPS coordinates for a point near the center of camp are:
47.4662216  -121.6804046  (Highly accurate GPS control point)
(The first to find what’s at this location and show a picture of it to K7FZO wins a special door prize)

Directions to camp for those needing actual pictures, maps and words can be found here: Directions to Valley Camp or the bottom of the Summer Gathering webpage.The Summer Gathering is an event for everyone involved in Amatuer Radio that wants to learn about what’s new in the hobby, meet people involved in the newest technologies that create the opportunities to experiment and advance the hobby.
Because the Summer Gathering has always been a very social event, we suggest taking advantage of all the opportunities we provide to spend time with other Hams involved in the hobby.Friday evening social time, ice cream anyone? Or share a beverage with friends, this usually goes until around 10PM, later if you don’t need sleep, but quiet time in camp is 10PM to 7AM.Saturday morning Breakfast, provided by the West Seattle Amatuer Radio Club, starts at 7AM with coffee and a full breakfast prepared by our chef Curt WR5J and his helpers.The event officially begins at 8:45AM with the first presentation at 9AM
Lunch at noon will be provided, as to what it will be and the cost is being worked on right now, so stay tuned.
Afternoon sessions begin at 1PM with a wrap-up session at 5PM
Dinner plans are currently being discussed, once again stay tuned.
After Dinner open time for discussions, Q&A with presenters, and project show-n-tell.Sunday starts with coffee available at 7AM followed by a full breakfast once again prepared for you by Curt WR5J.
Sunday presentations will begin at 9AM.
Lunch and the afternoon program are still in discussion. If you have ideas please send them to Thom at
summergathering@wa7vc.org

Saturday presentation slots have been filled, we are working on some great ideas for Sunday. We are looking to you for ideas that you feel should be discussed and volunteer presenters.
Once again, if you want to facilitate, share a project, or know someone we should contact let us know by emailing  summergathering@wa7vc.org

The current presentation schedule is available on the WA7VC website which will be updated as changes are made.
Presentations are held in the large picnic shelter, you can improve your seating experience by bringing your own comfy folding camp chair, coffee and hot water for tea will be available all day.

With just a month to go, it would be a great idea to make your reservations soon for Friday and or Saturday nights accommodations.
Full Service RV sites, parking for RV’s not needing services, tent sites, and bunk space in the Teneriffe Lodge are currently available. Please contact Teena at Valley Camp to reserve your space at   info@valleycamp.org
Discuss with Teena at Valley Camp the cost for these overnight accommodations.

It is time to make sure the SUMMER GATHERING is on your calendar!

August 17 Update:

Updates this week

Accommodations

  • RV sites – If you don’t already have a site reserved, I’m sorry to say all the Full Service sites are spoken for. If you want to dry camp in your RV I’m sure we can find you a place, just contact Teena at info@valleycamp.org
  • Tent sites – We still have plenty of room for tent campers, make your reservations soon.
  • Cabin – Is booked
  • Roundhouse – is booked
  • Lodge – The last 2 lower bunks are waiting for the next 2 to ask. After that you’ll need to be small and very agile to claim an upper bunk.
  • Local Hotels – The Edgewick Inn  http://www.edgewickinn.com/ is 3 miles away and just off I-90 at exit 34. Next closest hotels are in Issaquah about 20 minutes west of North Bend

Food

Saturday and Sunday Breakfasts are brought to you by Curt, WR5J of the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club. Curt is once again our morning chef but I am sure would not turn down any help in the kitchen especially getting setup and cleaning up.
Saturday and Sunday lunches will be provided by the WA7VC Amateur Radio Group
Friday dinner is on your own, Saturday Dinner is still be discussed but whatever is decided a large BBQ will be available if you want to cook your own dinner.
We will be providing a way to poll all who plan to attend next week so we can determine how much food to purchase.

Program Updates

The current program can be found here:  https://wa7vc.org/nwaprssg
We have added 4 topics on Sunday, from how to be a nature friendly operator to how to get to near space cheaper than being a space tourist.
The Saturday program is offering the newest information on one of the hottest topics in Amateur Radio voice communications, DMR.
  • So what’s the huge interest propelling the growth of DMR?
  • Maybe it is the 2 simultaneous talk paths in each repeater?
  • Or is it the inexpensive DMR radios?
  • Maybe it is the control of a “Talkgroup” that enables the repeater to link to a thousand repeaters around the world or a talkgroup that only repeats on the local repeater.
  • Could it be the rich feature set that puts the control in the hands of a hotSpot owner, a club, EmComm group, a state or or a region?
  • How is DMR different from D-Star and System Fusion?
It is all of these things!  You are about to find out all this and more!
If you want to dive in now so you are able to ask really good questions of our presenters check out these links: Welcome to PNW DMR   PNW DMR Best practices   PNW Quick Start
As you will see on the program list there is a wide range of cutting edge topics available Saturday and Sunday. As part of the deep dive into technologies we provide lots of social time to visit with each other, and with the presenters, while enjoying a meal together, a special dessert being created by Lynn – N7CFO, and time during the evenings to just sit around and talk. The Summer Gathering has always been about sharing ideas, and enjoying the personal side of the hobby as well.
Speaking about gathering together, do you know who has never missed a Summer Gathering in 21 years?

Misc.

We recently were given several door prizes we will make available by way of a raffle drawing including gift certificates from the ARRL and a really cool gift from N3FJP www.n3fjp.com
Maybe more, watch for the next updates.
AUGUST 31 Updates:
With just one week to go, here are the things you need to know……
Summer Gathering, the 21st annual gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts from all over the Northwest corner of the Americas exploring the newest in technologies in the hobby. We gather to share ideas, projects, and accomplishments that help to keep this great hobby on the cutting edge, and, to all learn something new from each other while having fun actually seeing and talking to each other in person.
Important Updates This Week (August 31st 2018)

Accommodations

We now have a wait list for bunk space and RV sites so if life suddenly changes and you can’t join us please contact
Teena at info@valleycamp.org and let her know so she can help the next on the list with accommodations.
We still have space for more tents and campers that do not need power, water or sewer.

Food

50 of you have responded and here is what we are buying food for next week unless we hear back from you by Monday afternoon September 3rd. Then we will add you to the list.
  • Saturday Breakfast – 32
  • Saturday Lunch – 44
  • Saturday Dinner – 33
  • Sunday Breakfast – 28
  • Sunday Lunch – 25
Coffee and hot water will be available all weekend.
All water in camp is clear fresh mountain well water, enjoy!
If you have just decided to attend please let us know by Monday the 3rd if you will be joining us and for which meals.
If you have not already responded to this survey please fill it out now.
If you have already responded thank you, we will see you soon.
We still need some volunteers to help with food prep, serving and cleanup, talk to Curt and Teena when you arrive.

Program

There has been little change in the program with exception of a few additional additions to already scheduled topics. You can find the program list here: https://wa7vc.org/nwaprssg 
Things can change at the last minute so we will post all we know at the shelter Friday afternoon.

Lots of Extras

  • Yes, there will be some door prizes given away Saturday around 5 PM. To take home a prize you must be in attendance at 5PM.
  • Campfires – As of right now we are under a state mandated complete fire ban. No open flame, except for cooking on the grill, and no smoking anywhere on the property including buildings or trails. If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate actions.
  • If you have a comfortable folding camp chair bring it along. The picnic benches are 60 year old very hard 2×12’s.
  • Internet Access – Please turn off automatic updates on computers and do not do large downloads while in camp, this includes movie/video streaming. You are sharing an old slow CenturyLink pipe with everyone else.
  • WiFi network login info will be available at the event.
  • The vehicle Speed Limit inside Valley Camp is 5 MPH. We have lots of small critters and none of them get out of the way of vehicles including the 2 leg variety.
  • Pets – If you must bring your pet it has to stay on a 6 foot leash and stay connected to you at all times. We also expect you to clean up after it and be very careful feeding it, any spilled food attracts wild animals, some you don’t want to meet at night.
  • Parking while at the event – Please be aware that not all RV’s in the campground are attending the Summer Gathering so please do not block vehicles parked in front of RV’s. Parking is best accomplished west of the RV area along the road towards the Lodge and Roundhouse.
  • The Summer Gathering is funded only through donations of the attendees, no outside organization financially sponsors the event. Please consider what this event is worth to you and donate appropriately. There will be several places to leave your donations, the main one being the green MAILBOX marked DONATIONS in the shelter and if you would like to make a donation using a credit card Teena can make that work.
Valley Camp is the conduit for all donations and it is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.
Online donation opportunities can be found here on the first page:  http://valleycamp.org

Weather

As of a week out, the weather looks like it will be in the 60’s and 70’s with a partly cloudy sky and a very little chance of rain. However this event is in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state anything is possible so come prepared.

Last Thoughts

Once again if you have not already completed the survey please do so here:  SG Survey
If you have to cancel please contact Teena at info@valleycamp.org
If you want to look at the schedule it can be found here: https://wa7vc.org/nwaprssg
If you want to volunteer to help with meals talk to Curt and Teena
If you would like to see this event back in 2019 please donate generously!
See you in a week!!
73 from the WA7VC team and friends

NBC News: How Going Ham Could Save Hawaii

NBC News’ Left Field reporting unit recently did a report on communications in Hawaii and how ham radio could help in a disaster.

Hawaii’s recent false nuclear missile alert showed us how reliant we are on cell phones and modern technology—and how unprepared we are if they become inaccessible. But in case the unexpected happens, an unlikely group of hobbyists—ham radio operators—are standing at the ready and may save us all.

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2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering, Sept. 8-10

The 20th Annual Northwest Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) gathering is coming in September. APRS is digital communications information channel for Ham radio

DATES
The 2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering is:
Friday September 8
Saturday September 9; the main day, presentations begin at 9:00
Sunday September 10 (informal, debrief, departure)
Many folks arrive on Friday, or even Thursday, for socializing and camping. 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.

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) but the event has evolved to encompass 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.

The 2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering is an officially recognized ARRL event! Thus we’ll have some ARRL Prize Certificates to give away to three lucky attendees and perhaps a few other goodies. Our thanks to the ARRL and ARRL Northwestern Division Director Jim Pace K7CEX for approving Summer Gathering on short notice. Thanks to Lynn Burlingame N7CFO for the suggestion!.

VALLEY CAMP
If you have not previously attended a Summer Gathering, it’s held at Valley Camp (https://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 is 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 is 5 MPH once you enter Valley Camp’s grounds 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 https://aprs.fi/wa7vc. There is also a UHF D-STAR repeater at Valley Camp – WA7DV, “B”, 440.0125+.

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.

OVERNIGHT STAYS ARE FULL
Per Teena at Valley Camp, all available RV sites and bunks in the Lodge are FULL. If you have not contacted Teena directly, you do NOT have a reserved spot to stay overnight. If you have any questions about staying overnight (especially if you have to cancel, opening up an available RV site or bunk), please contact Teena at Valley Camp – email teena@valleycamp.org. (Please don’t contact Steve N8GNJ about this – you must contact Teena DIRECTLY).

FIRE DANGER – NO FIRES / OPEN FLAMES
The fire danger from 70+ days of no significant is EXTREME. There will not be any open flames, including charcoal fires for cooking. If you’re a smoker, please be EXTREMELY careful with your discards.

CELLULAR IS SPOTTY, LIMITED WI-FI INTERNET AVAILABLE
Due to the terrain and the location, cellular service is spotty at Valley Camp. There are places on the grounds of Valley Camp 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, app updates, 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 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. If you’d like to contribute to Valley Camp in a more substantive, recurring manner, there are a variety of electronic methods to donate to Valley Camp (including bitcoins!) at the bottom of the page at https://valleycamp.org.

MEALS / BEVERAGES
Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast will be provided for as many people who have registered. 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 will be provided. Due to the large crowd this year, please consider bringing your own bottled water or “canteen” (the tap water is safe), canned soda, or “adult beverages” including your own cooler and ice, and perhaps enough to share with your fellow attendees. Due to the large crowd this year, please consider bringing some beverages to share (and mark your cooler that the contents are for sharing). If you’d like to know the menu, please contact Tina Stroh KD7WSF – tina.stroh@gmail.com.

CALLSIGN BADGES
Even though Summer Gathering is an informal event, please bring a callsign / name badge and wear it. There are a lot of us this year, and apparently a lot of new faces, and wearing a callsign badge will help all of us put names to faces. There will be adhesive paper badges of course, but they usually fall off. It’s also helpful to bring some business cards as you often strike up a conversation with someone interesting and don’t remember their name or callsign or how to reach them to follow up.

BRING A CAMP CHAIR AND POWER STRIPS
There are a lot more attendees than there will be available seats on the picnic benches in the shelter, so please bring a camp chair. Please be sure to MARK your camp chair so you get the right one back (it takes a long time to wear them in correctly). If you need AC power, please bring your own power strip(s) and MARK it, and be willing to share / cascade AC power.

 INFORMAL PRESENTATIONS, SHOW AND TELL
Unfortunately, the 2017 SG will be more informal than previous years as I have not been able to confirm that there will be either a video projector for presentations, a “presentation” computer for PowerPoint slides, or even that there will be a public address amplifier. So, presenters will simply be talking through their presentations, with just their “speaking loud” voice to aid them.

Because of the lack of presentation aids, there won’t be a formal agenda / schedule and we’ll do presentations in the order that the presenters wish to do them, for approximately 45 minutes. We’ll break for approximately 2 hours mid-day for lunch, chats, demos, prize giveaway, and the annual photo.

The presentations that are confirmed are:

  • A Raspberry Pi Based ~1W Transceiver and UDRX Status Update – Bryan Hoyer K7UDR
  • ARRL Update – Jim Pace K7CEX
  • Discussion of the fate of the NW APRS website (http://nwaprs.info) – general discussion
  • High Altitude Ballooning – L. Paul Verhage KD4STH
  • NetTNC an EMCOMM Appliance – Jeremy McDermond NH6Z
  • State of the NW APRS Network – Bill Vodall WA7NWP
  • ThumbDV New SW and Applications – John Hays K7VE
  • UDR-Tracker an APRS Mobile Appliance – Basil Gunn N7NIX
ACTIVITIES
  • ARRL Prize Certificate Giveaway
  • ARRL Table
  • L. Paul Verhage KD4STH will have a video-equipped drone.
  • K9JEB will have dual band 144/446 MHz J-Pole and 220 J-Pole antennas, and some Power Distribution Kits for sale. See his website at http://k9jeb.com for details.
  • Portable RMS Station (N7CFO-10) – Lyn Burlingame N7CFO
  • Sale / Swap Activity – We encourage folks to bring gear they want to swap or sell from their trunks, RV’s, hatchbacks, side doors, or under their own 10×10 awning. If you’re selling items at Summer Gathering, please DO NOT USE the indoor space, which is reserved for showing off projects.
  • Tabletop show and tell demonstrations – various attendees
  • To answer a question from a long-time attendee, it has NOT yet been confirmed that the substantial HF station(s) running digital modes, that have been available at previous Summer Gatherings, will be available at the 2017 Summer Gathering.
POST-EVENT
If you’re interested in ensuring that there is a 2018 NW APRS Summer Gathering, please try to attend the debrief / wrapup session on Sunday morning where we discuss the event and do some planning. This email distribution list came out of one of those sessions. I’ll be taking notes, and after the 2017 NW APRS Summer Gathering is concluded, I’ll send out one last bulletin for 2017 with wrap up information, and a post-event survey to aid the 2018 SG “staff” to plan an even better 21st annual NW APRS Summer Gathering.

 

Yakima County Volunteer Radio Operators Critical To Emergency Response

The Yakima Herald reports on the importance of amateur radio volunteers in the county.

There are parts of Yakima County — think White Pass and Chinook Pass — where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent. Ham radios have no such problems. They can operate through a system of relays with other operators or even bounce signals off the ionosphere to communicate with stations thousands of miles away.

In a major disaster, the radios would likely be one of the few ways to communicate with the outside world, as they can run on batteries or gas-powered generators.

The state’s Military Department, which oversees disaster response on the state level, notes that many agencies — including the state’s Emergency Operations Center — successfully used ARES teams for communications during last year’s Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami drill. State emergency officials recommended that local agencies should establish a “habitual relationship” with ARES teams — if they don’t have one already — to ensure coordination in an emergency.

In Yakima County, the team works with the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management to prepare for emergencies, and has a radio room at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Union Gap.

Jeff Emmons, the county’s emergency management director, said the ARES group gives the county an alternate means of communicating during disasters.

Yakima’s two hospitals have amateur radio stations that can be used for emergency communication with authorities in disasters, Whitney said. And today’s radios are capable of linking computers together so they can share data in emergency situations if internet connections are not available.

 

Click here to read more.

 

There is also a related article by Yakima Herald staff over at govtech.com Radio Volunteers a Key Component of Public Safety

AmRRON 2017 T-REX, Aug. 11 – 13

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the 4th annual, Nationwide grid-down disaster training exercise T-Rex! T-Rex 2017 will be from Friday, August 11th- through Sunday, August 13th, 2017. This will be an emergency communications training exercise for AmRRON members with emphasis on Amateur Radio for use during emergency/disaster situations.

WHAT IS T-REX?

It is a nationwide scenario-based disaster preparedness exercise where we simulate that a catastrophic event has caused disruptions and/or failures in conventional services, such as the Power grid, Internet, Telecommunications, Transportation, etc.

It is a chance for you, your family, your group or team, or your organization to practice your emergency preparedness plan, and respond as though it were real.

Most importantly, it is an emergency communications exercise, where AmRRON operators across the country and elsewhere practice tuning in and listening for information and developments, reporting what’s happening in their area, and helping others get radio traffic passed across the network using unconventional communications — mostly Amateur Radio and the most popular digital modes.

 

WHAT IS THE SCENARIO FOR 2017?

This year we will be simulating a major seismic event, which will actually be TWO catastrophic earthquakes in different parts of the country, three hours apart.

At Noon Pacific time (1900hrs Zulu) the first, 9.1 earthquake strikes off the Pacific coast, followed by a devastating tsunami.  This is known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.  Scientists claim we are overdue for a major event on the CSZ and that it is only a matter of when, not if. Power, internet, and telecommunications are lost to the western United States.

At 1700hrs – 5pm – (2200hrs Zulu) the second, 9.2 earthquake strikes in the New Madrid Subduction Zone in eastern Missouri. Power, internet, and telecommunications are lost to the remainder of the United States and two thirds of Canada.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO? 

Plunge yourself into darkness:

Depending on where you are located, turn your cell phone, internet, electricity, etc. off at the time the earthquake occurs (west of Mississippi River = Noon Pacific -or- east of the Mississippi = 5pm Central) aka. 1900Z and 2200z respectively.  Most of us have freezers, etc. that we can’t turn off.  That’s fine, just don’t use lights, internet, or traditional cooking appliances.  Get that dutch oven out, the Coleman lantern, and those two-way radios.

Tune in:

You need to know what’s going on.  What is the size and scope the the event?  Where is the damage concentrated?  What secondary safety hazards have been produced from the disaster?  What escape routes are available or closed?  Where and when is relief coming?  How can I check on my loved ones hundreds of miles away?

Heavy emphasis is placed on emergency communications.  Get out your radio and your AmRRON SOI (Signals Operating Instructions) and tune in to the AmRRON Nets.

Click here to continue reading about T-REX at AmRRON.com

Update: AmRRON is posting artificial news stories in support of the exercise narrative to set up the scenario. These can be read at Amrron.com by clicking here.