146.820 Christmas Mountain back to normal

An intrepid team of volunteers led by Doug, N5HYD trekked to the top of Christmas Mountain near Terlingua and Big Bend National Park to replace the emergency 145.23 repeater that had been in temporary service there. Bill W5ATO, Chuck KG5BMK and Scott KI5ANQ enjoyed fine weather and scenic views throughout their mission.

Thanks to these volunteers for all they do!

Meeting of November 13, 2018

Big Bend Amateur Radio Club

Minutes of Meeting

November 13, 2018

The meeting was attended by 17 members and guests.


Meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM by President Marvin Voiers KG5LMG.

The minutes of the October 9, 2018 meeting were read and approved on a motion by Rusty KB5R and second by Bill K5WSA.

The Treasurer’s Report was presented by Angie N5MVV with an end of month balance reported as $6,553.32. The Treasurer’s Report was approved on a motion by Rusty KB5R and second by Mike KG5LMK. Expenses include $35.00 to Big Bend Telephone and deposits include $500.00 donation from the CycleFest event, $790.00 from ticket sales and donation from True Value for cooking and serving hot dogs.


The scheduled trip to Christmas Mountain 146.82 repeater for repairs was canceled due to bad weather and bad road conditions. It was also discussed that a key needed to be obtained for the lower gate.

Upcoming races were discussed. The Ultra Run on Martin Luther King Day in January would need volunteers. It was also reported that there was no information on the Fort Leaton to Terlingua race in February. Jim KD5KBU discussed the spring HammerFest event, saying that the most recent sponsor had not been popular and that the spring event might be cancelled.

Ticket sales for the upcoming raffle of True Value Gift Certificates were discussed. It was reported that $527 dollars in ticket sales and $300 donation from True Value had been received. It was discussed that ticket sales at Porters were scheduled for Alpine on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and in Fort Davis on the following Sunday. A reminder was issued that the drawing would be on December 13th, the night of the Santa Net.


It was discussed that the election of officers would occur at the December meeting. The Nomination Committee appointed by Marvin KG5LMG was Bill KE5OG, Bob WA5ROE and Bill W5NPR. Also scheduled for that meeting is the annual Silent Auction. Those in attendance were asked to bring radio equipment, electronics, books, baked goods or other items to be auctioned.

Rusty KB5R discussed the possibility of the annual banquet/BBQ being held in April at his house in Sunny Glen, as was last year.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM.

Respectively Submitted:

Bill Roberts W5NPR


More news from KX5SP in Puerto Rico

So… still working Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. I would like to report serious progress in getting the island’s communications back up but I’d be lying. If I were wearing my other hat, the medical system has recovered nicely with 68 of the 69 hospitals on the island practically fully functioning if they can just keep the lights on. The emergency generators that run one medium size hospital are drinking 10,000 gallons of diesel every 50 hours. The tanks aren’t that big so keeping them fueled is a massive logistical problem.

But I digress, back to comms which you are interested in. Don’t believe any of the statistics coming out of the island concerning the cellular system or electric power grid. I think it was Will Rogers who said “there are 3 kinds of lies: white lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Well I read in one of the reports that 75% of customers now have cell service. What they are REALLY saying is 75% of the population may see a cell signal on their phone during a day. That does NOT mean they can talk to anybody.

For much of today in my area I had 4 bars of signal and 4G LTE… but can’t make or receive calls and no data. Why? Because many cell sites have been restored but they have no connection to the cellular system. All the fiber optic lines that connect cell sites in PR are ABOVE ground. So when the debris removal bulldozers come thru they sever the fiber optic lines. Happens every day and you don’t just splice fiber optics back together.

Then there’s the problem of power to the cell sites. Most sites, as emergency measures are still running on generators. These generators constantly need to be refueled and I kid you not, it is not unheard of for the fuel truck to show up and find that the cell site generator has been stolen! So some areas may actually have cell service today but won’t tonight.

Most of the public service communications (police, fire, and ambulance) are operational now but this isn’t a permanent fix. It’s equipment placed by FEMA and the military which does the job but can’t stay here forever. They need to rebuild a permanent island wide public service communications system after they finish the fight over who’s going to pay for it.

The indigenous ham radio community is back to some normalcy (if you can consider pieces of your roof missing and no grid electricity, normal). Most of the repeaters are back in service and in fact, courtesy of some military helicopter pilots and donation of a 2 meter repeater, there will shortly be a brand new 2 meter repeater on one of the highest spots on the island in the middle of the El Yunque rain forest, that should cover the whole island and all the way east to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Ponce 2 meter repeater that I can bring up, now sings with Spanish chit chat during the day instead of gringos using it to call in medevacs. Oscar KP4RF says it’s a good sign that the local hams have decompressed enough that they feel comfortable going back to routine rag chewing .

I’m hoping to be able to return to Alpine by the end of November and SLEEP – so I may not make the first 8:15am BB Emergency Net on Sunday 😉


Steve KX5SP/KP4

Silent key, KM5VM

Barbara Nell Stone
March 17, 1929 – October 18, 2017
Barbara Stone, 88, passed away Wednesday, October 18, in College Station, where she had recently relocated after spending her retirement years in Alpine, Texas.
Barb was born in Cookeville, Tennessee, to Mary Elizabeth and Bryce Douglas Stone. She attended George Washington University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and was a member of the women’s rifle team. She received her Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Tennessee (the REAL UT).
As a child, Barb was active in the Girl Scouts and remained active through her adult years. She worked professionally for the National Office of the Girl Scouts of American in the training division. Summers were often spent either attending or running Girl Scout Camp. Hundreds of women and girls benefitted from her dedication, creativity, and love for Girl Scouting and, especially, for camping.
Barb left the Girl Scouts to pursue a Doctorate of Education at Boston College, where she studied under Malcolm Knowles. Upon completion, she served as a member of the faculty at James Madison University as Associate Professor of Sociology. In 1977, Barb joined the faculty of the College of Education at Texas A&M University as Associate Professor of Adult & Extension Education. During her years at Madison and A&M, Barb guided graduate students from all over the world in finding their own understanding of learning and ways to contribute to the learning of others. Many of her students remained in Barb’s life as her legacy and her “chosen family.” At Texas A&M, Barb was a founding senator of the Faculty Senate and served as department head; she retired from Texas A&M in 1991.
Barb is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, College of Education, in 1983. She had over 65 published articles and presentations. Barb always listed her profession as “teacher.”
Barb spent her retirement years in Alpine, Texas, where she fully embraced life in the Big Bend. She became an EMT and volunteered with Terlingua Medics, where she served as their “oldest living medic.” She was a HAM radio operator, call number KM5VM, and regularly participated in local and international events. Barb volunteered at Big Bend State Ranch and taught an Elder Hostel course on medicinal plants of the desert. She was an amateur astronomer and helped at the McDonald Observatory’s Star Parties. She founded the “Double Diamond Gang” of volunteers for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Sul Ross State University. Barb received an abundance of recognition for her contributions to the communities in the Big Bend.
Barb traveled and camped throughout the US and Mexico in tents, vans, trailers, and eventually her motor homes, usually accompanied by a dog and a telescope.
Barb was predeceased by her father, Bryce Douglas Stone, her mother, Mary Elizabeth Stone Jarsen, and her brother, Bryce Douglas Stone, Jr. She is survived by countless friends and family and her pets, Quincy and Simon and Frankie and Knobby.
At Barb’s request, there will be no funeral. Her ashes will be spread in the Big Bend at a later date. Barb’s family and friends will plan a gathering to share pie and memories in her beloved Big Bend of Texas in the near future.
Those wishing to may make a donation in Barb’s memory to the Alpine Humane Society – Ezra Fund (alpinehumanesociety.org).

BBARC member reporting from Puerto Rico

BBARC member Steve Posner is working in Puerto Rico on the Tactical Radio Communications Task Force.  Here’s his report from the field:

After working hurricane duty in Florida doing my normal medical supervision stuff on my Incident Response Coordination Team, I was asked by Homeland Security to VOLUNTEER for a completely different mission in Puerto Rico on their Tactical Radio Communications Task Force. They paid my way to PR but I’m volunteering my time. If you remember for years in Alpine my callsign was KP4FF. I used to live here and know the lay of the land.

I’ve been setting up and operating HF digital stations running Pactor 3 thru the Winlink system to provide email links at critical points – with speeds of 3200 bps. Mostly on federal HF frequencies but sometimes on the ham bands if propagation is more favorable for that. Have worked closely with Oscar KP4RF, a brilliant researcher at Univ. of PR who also happens to be the ARRL section manager of Puerto Rico. He has tirelessly helped integrate my operations with the local ham population, despite his home being destroyed.

The FCC is physically present in the Joint Field Office in San Juan and I kid you not they are very helpful and accomodating. For example they waived some rules and if we need to we are allowed to operate SSB voice in the CW portion of the band. We do for one particular link every day.

After working in the San Juan area for a while, I was given  responsibility for the Ponce PR area, where I am now, on the south coast. Ponce is where I used to live in the early 1980s.

No electricity, no cell service, no internet, no street lights at night, no traffic lights – pretty dangerous driving at night, trying to steer around potholes the size of small Volkswagens. After a while I decided it was potentially life threatening so I no longer drive at night until traffic controls return.

On the southern half of the island practically all comms are non-existent. The only way to report a fire is for someone to physically walk into a fire station and say my house is on fire. Then when the fire apparatus drives out of the station there is no communication ability to call for additional units or be dispatched any where. Same for ambulances and police. Comm conditions are a little better in the northern part of the island (where San Juan is located). Before the storm public safety had an 800 MHz trunking system in the north that carried police, fire, and EMS on the same system. About 1/2 of that system is destroyed so some towns have coverage but many have no comms.

Most of the amateur repeaters went down. Quite a few in the north are operational again and linked, many on battery power with solar cells. Hams and governent pukes like me and public service, particularly fire departments have used the amateur radio repeaters and stations for critical comms.

At this time no repeaters are operational in the south where I am. I hear them working on the Ponce 2 mtr repeater so I expect it will be back in service in the next couple of days which will be most helpful in communicating with San Juan where all the resources are coming from.

It’s a real mess down here and the suffering is heart breaking.

Steve KX5SP / NCS998
Ponce, Puerto Rico

2-Meter Net Report, November 2016

Our 2 meter net meeting EVERY Wednesday at 8:00 PM (local time) on the clubs repeater system network. These are good training ground for possible emergency situations, as well as helping the new hams in the area to have an easy way to get use to “talking on the radio”.

The club website (www.bigbendarc.com) has ALL the information on the 2 meter net. Included is the Net Control members schedule, until year end, the “script” (supplied ONLY as a guide to ensure the important information is given out weekly – you can use it anyway you see fit) and a list of the recent check-in members.

If you have an interest in joining the Net Control stations please call me (432/837-2257) or holler at me during the Wednesday evening net (either before or after the net).

The month of November had five (5) Wednesdays in it and it went this way:

NOVEMBER 2      17     KG5BMK - CHUCK
NOVEMBER 9      14     KG5LMG - MARVIN
NOVEMBER 16     21     KA5PVB - CHUCK (fill-in for W5NPR)
NOVEMBER 23     19     N5BBJ - BRUCE
NOVEMBER 30     18     W5RHN - BOB
 89 total check-ins for November

Additionally, our Echo-Link system is fully operational and the following stations have checked in to the net at least once this month – KC5WFH – BILL from Oregon; KG5DW – DON from South Florida; and KD5KC – MIKE from El Paso.
A quick reminder to all stations on the net, pause between transmissions to allow the Echo-Link stations to be heard and recognized.

With the holiday season here now, everyone is busy, and if you don’t have the time to check-in to the net and stick around for the round-table discussion, take a minute of your time and check-in as an “in-and-out” (where you’re there for the head count but don’t have the time to participate). All participation is much appreciated and encouraged.

About 2 weeks from now (mid-November) I plan to work up the Net Control Schedule for the first half of 2017. If any newly licensed members, OR IN-ACTIVE PREVIOUS NET CONTROL STATIONS would like to rejoin the group of NCS, let me know and I’ll be happy to add you to our new schedule!

Any of the new hams in the community, if you have questions or problems with trying to get radios and antennas set-up feel free to bring them up during the net. We May not have the answer right of the cuff, but somebody can find the info and get back with you shortly!

73’s and hope to talk to you soon.

Happy holiday’s everyone. We hope ya’ll have a very safe, sane, and joyous holiday season!
Chuck Dobbins – KA5PVB
2-meter Net Manager

Using the UHF Hub Link Radio

While we are without the VHF 147.020+ repeater at Elephant Mountain you may use the UHF system hub radio as an alternative.

The hub transmits at 448.000 and receives at 443.000… that means a user wants to program 448.000, minus offset and 146.2 PL on their radio to use Elephant Mountain.