In Service

No. 68 - March 1998

A newsletter for members and friends of the Association of Saints Church Radio Amateurs, Inc.


The biennial membership meeting of ASCRA will take place on Saturday, March 28, 1998 at the New Walnut Park RLDS church. The church is located 2 blocks East of Noland Rd. on the North side of 23rd St. The membership meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. No lunch is planned.

Following the morning membership session the Board of Directors will have their annual meeting at 1:30 P.M.


by John Barney AAØOS

One summer evening while listening to the Creston, Iowa net on the 146.790 machine, I was using a home brew 6 element yagi at 70 feet. It was stormy and I really wanted to make the connection short. I noticed a form of interference that was building on the radio. First, about an S2, then S5, S7 and then full scale. I could not hear the 79 repeater anymore. Off to the west a strike of lightning hit. The mysterious interference disappeared for a period of 15-30 seconds. The same thing began again, until the next strike. This was a very poor time to realize that this was static building and discharging. Needless to say, this is no time to be holding on to radio equipment! Lightning is no doubt too fast to get away from as it strikes, but noticing the building of static and avoiding its conclusion does offer some time to react. The quick nature of this discharge has been unchanged for a long time: Luke 10:19 states, "As lightning falleth from heaven, I beheld Satan also falling." Sounds like a quick trip to me!

 On rare occasions, when lightning strikes the earth, the heat and path of the strike produce a crude form of glass called a fulgurite. A sand bar near a body of water would be a good location for this to take place. The fulgurite is hollow like straw. To dig one up is probably a tricky thing to do, but I would like to look at one someday.

 Recent photographic evidence shows that a strike is also accompanied by leaders of small static extensions from the earth at lower levels that connect with the strike from above. A single strike may have more than one of these leaders. Ultimately, one leader connects, and the path is complete. The strike path is famous for its zig zag pattern. This goes also for the nature of static, building and discharging, as the bolt builds, going from one point to another until it gets to earth. Think about the capacitive effect of air itself.

One form that seems to be disputed, is "ball lightning." Many it would seem, do not believe in this, but I do and here is why. Firstly - lab experiments using direct current at high amperage seem to synthesize this ball or spin off from the arc. Secondly - I have noticed a similar effect while welding aluminum with MIG equipment, using AC power and argon gas. What I have noticed is an eddy like spin off upon the aluminum plate for a time after the trigger switch has been shut down. This may have to do more with the residue on the plate rather than proving ball lightning in the shop. I guess that if ball lightning doesn’t exist, Jerry Lee will have to get something new to sing about.

 Lightning does nice things for us. For instance, it provides tons of free fertilizer with each bolt. What about Sporadic E? It may be that updrafts and downdrafts associated with high altitude storms may shear off enough free electrons to bounce our signals on 10 meters when the ionosphere does not. If not for lightning, how curious would Ben Franklin have been in this anyway. So it is not all bad is it, even if it makes my 80 pound Chow jump into my bed in the middle of the night.

73 de AAØOS



by Mike Fletcher KL7IXI

I’ve been in Amateur Radio for more than 35 years. The past couple of years have found the HF rig not being turned on for weeks at a time. Somehow appliance operating with a rig and antennas that never change wasn’t interesting anymore.

After selling the Kenwood TS-430S at a recent Arizona hamfest, I found out about a QRP club in the area and went to their monthly meeting. I left the meeting with a QRP transceiver on a quality PC board only 3" x 4" in size, designed to experiment with and modify. Only $25 for the NorCal QRP Club’s 30 meter kit called the "38 Special."

I hadn't soldered together anything except coax fittings for more than 15 years so I was a little apprehensive about new fangled things like toroid coils and soldering plated-through connections, but adequate illustrations in the docume ntation showed exactly how to wind the little coils.

A week of sporadic evening construction and about $20 more in potentiometers, connectors, etc. found me with a completed 30 meter transceiver running 5 watts output, full break-in and with an onboard iambic keyer. Not only that, but wit h modifications coming out monthly from the more than 1,700 hams that have built the little puppy and added improved filtering, keying and adjustable power output, I ended up with a hot little rig.

A simple Switchcraft panel lever relay switch became a keyer paddle and I was on the air on a band where I found quite a bit of activity. I am excited again about Ham Radio, but best of all, my 13-year-old son who helped me with the res istor color codes and parts placement on the PC board is now bitten by the bug (no pun intended) and will start ham classes next month.

There are a number of QRP transceiver kits on the market, most which have all needed parts except for an enclosure, and costing $25 - $140. The more features, the higher the cost. Instead of talking about a new rig for $2,500 or more, a high enjoyment quota can be had for much less.

QRP enthusiasts hang out around established calling frequencies on each band and are ready to rag chew with others and share their tips and experiences. What now? Finding out just how well low power can work with a simple attic dipole a nd another inexpensive QRP kit for 40 meters is on its way.

73, or as QRPers sign, 72 (a little bit less)

Michael Fletcher, KL7IXI

Chandler, AZ


In Service is the official publication of the a not-for-profit, Missouri corporation, tax exempt under IRS Section 501(c)(3). All donations and correspondence should b e sent to the Association’s World Headquarters.


P.O. Box 73

Independence, MO 64051-0073

 Please credit In Service when quoting.

Michael Hahn, KG0XU, Editor.



by Ernie Miles, WB2UJL

The snow has fallen up north but I'm hidding from the cold down here in Houston. Betty continues to improve and has most of her stamina back and depression is in check. Only a little speech problem remains. She drove her own car down here to Houston but it is now in the shop. More on that later.

It has been the highlite of my Spring every 2 years to attend the ASCRA meetings where we get to greet many of the ASCRA members at the General Mtg. And participate in the business meeting with those directors you elect to care for the organizations business. I hope to see you there March 28.

The temporary antenna has worked better than I expected and figure it must be the magic of propogation that made the contacts with Australia possible with only a full wave loop and 100W.


Terry, W6LMJ, heard Mark Riley, M1BOP, (in England) on HF. I don't have the details, but he must have upgraded his license.

Now the car in the shop........5:30PM Feb. 16th here in Houston we were out for a drive in BJ's Bonneville when we drove right up to a baby tornado in action. The wind was blowing real hard like a foggy wisp going right to left across the road in front of us about 75 yards. Next it was blowing across right in front of us going the other way. A very thin wall of fast movement moved around the circle about 50' wide. It gradually came up over the hood like you see the spray in a car wash coming across the hood. The center was going right over us.

The car rocked right when wham. The glass next to my head got broken out and glass was all over everywhere. Betty wasn't touched. Just a little lower and "The Thing" could have come thru the window and hit my head. Don't know when, but the right rear door window got broken. There was a 8" long verticle dent just above the drivers side door that caught the top of the window glass.

Car repairs came to $3400 counting two tires. We are fine. This is where the jokes are supposed to come like, "We aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto".

The 3 page version is available to those that send a SASE and a small ASCRA contribution. JOKING about the contribution, thought I'd have some fun.


Board of Directors Election Results

The following members were elected to the Board of Directors of ASCRA Inc. for the 1998 - 2000 term.

Hale Collins, W6RWH
Michael Hahn, KGØXU
Larry Oiler, NØBGG
Terry Redding, W6LMJ
Dick Smith, WAØNBY
Jeff Winship, NØOXK

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