The Sandoval Signpost

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Public Safety

Ham Radio Aliens

WA5WHN (protected from alien mind readers) and Marvin making 20 meter contacts

Celebrating the 1947 UFO crash at Corona, New Mexico

—CHARLIE CHRISTMANN, K5CEC
It has been sixty years since an Unidentified Flying Object crashed in the desert of New Mexico near the city of Corona. Was it a weather balloon, or something not of this earth? The legends are still enticing to many UFO fans around the world to speculate about its origins.

To commemorate the sixtieth anniversary, three amateur radio operators from the Albuquerque area, Jay Miller (WA5WHN), Gary Bonebrake (W5BI), and Charlie Christmann (K5CEC), set out for a location adjacent to the crash site to operate the Special Event Station “N5C,” celebrating the Crash at Corona. N5C operated for two days, Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8.

The location chosen for the special event station was on National Forest Service land, sixteen miles south southeast of the town of Corona, at the foot of Jack’s Peak. The gash caused by the crash and subsequent search for debris could be easily seen from our vantage point. The site is somewhat remote—no cell phone service, no power, no running water, and no “facilities.” Because of this, the radio equipment was operated using only batteries and a small solar panel for power.

It was late Friday afternoon when the three of us arrived at Jack’s Peak (we’ll just forget about the blown tire incident). The weather was hot and muggy, conducive to the formation of thunderstorms. We worked fast to lash a HF vertical antenna to a nearby tree and throw a dual band dipole up between two Ponderosa Pines. Camp was just barely set up and the antennas erected before the lightning began to flash close by and heavy rain set in. We hunkered down in Gary’s camper to wait out the storm, hoping the bolts of lightning would spare the antennas and the rain would not wash away our tents. Fortunately, the storm passed without causing any damage.

The first order of business Friday evening was to set up the Winlink station for email access. Gary used his portable station-in-a-box, containing an IC-706MkIIG, an IC- 2720, a PTC-IIusb modem, and a 25 AH battery. Through the 706 and modem, we quickly made contact with a Winlink PMBO and sent emails reporting our safe arrival to our families, and Jay sent what we hoped were good directions to his wife, Judy (WB5LYJ), who was planning to join us on Saturday for a few hours. The two IC-746 Pros we planned to use as the primary voice radios were to remain safe and dry in the camper until morning.

Out in the middle of nowhere, the stars were bright as the sky cleared to present us a beautiful evening view of the heavens. We were amazed at the number of stars hidden in cities by light pollution. It was tempting to stay up and enjoy the sights, but we knew that the next day would be hectic. So, after the work of setting up camp, sleep came easily.

We were up early on Saturday morning. After a great breakfast of eggs and Canadian bacon, we readied ourselves for what we expected to be a big pile-up. Jay had received many queries about the special event station and we knew it had been widely disseminated among the amateur radio crowd. The fiftieth anniversary special event station had been a real success. Yep, we were going to be very busy. Just to confirm our suspicions, even before the advertised starting time of 1500Z, we could hear stations calling us on the forty and twenty meter frequencies. What the heck … we could start a bit early.

But things never go as planned and Murphy had us in his legal sights. Though we expected some propagation problems, we never anticipated the evils that the absolute bottom of the solar cycle would bring. At first, we were encouraged by the very low background noise levels. Over the course of the day, we found that on forty and twenty meters, the bands would quickly change states from good propagation to nothing. It was almost like flipping a switch. Signals were good and strong as we answered calls, and then they were gone when we unkeyed to listen for the reply. Someone reported that several stations were calling us, but our receivers were deaf. This was some of the strangest propagation any of us could remember in our combined one-hundred-plus years of ham radio experience. Twenty meters sometimes afforded us nearby contacts in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona, then would switch quickly to California and New England, and then go completely dead for long periods. On forty meters, we often enjoyed oriental music from foreign broadcast stations between the fleeting contacts and radio silence.

Judy arrived late-morning on Saturday with a pot of New Mexico green chile stew for lunch. As the boys gorged themselves on the stew, she worked the twenty-meter radio and made contacts in bursts before the band died again. She escaped the camp site just in time as another rain and lightning storm approached and shut down operations for about an hour.

After the rain, we decided to try eighty meters for the evening. But again Murphy had to help us out. The trap dipole antenna we had in the trees just would not tune up on eighty. Frustrated, we shut down about 0000Z hoping Sunday would be better. But the gods of the ionosphere were not in a cooperative mood on Sunday either. The conditions were much the same as we struggled to find contacts. Like Saturday, we called CQ endlessly for hours with no response. Then we would get a short burst of activity before hearing only static again. Finally, we decided to break camp and call it quits around 2000Z before the next incoming rain storm hit. Before we left the camp site, we vowed to try another special events station again in a few years. Next time, it would be at the top of the solar cycle.

Even though we only made a few hundred contacts, several things did work right. We made the trip to a primitive location, set up a camp and operated one-hundred-watt radios all on battery power. The Winlink system was flawless. Even with the squirrelly conditions, we could find a PMBO to send and receive email traffic. (Thanks, Tom N5TW, for pointing your antennas our way.) And, we made it back in one piece from Jack’s Peak even after the roads had completely washed away in places because of the rains.

So, just one word of warning: if you are looking for WA5WHN, W5BI, or K5CEC on HF, you’ll have to call us, because we will not be calling CQ any time soon.

DEFINITIONS:
20 meters—Radio frequencies between 14.0 and 14.35 Megahertz
40 meters—Radio frequencies between 7.0 and 7.3 Megahertz
80 meters—Radio frequencies between 3.5 and 4.0 Megahertz
CQ—International code for “Calling any station”
HF—High Frequencies between 3 and 30 Megahertz
IC-706MkIIG—an Icom HF/VHF/UHF 100 Watt transceiver
IC-746 Pro—An Icom HF/VHF 100 Watt transceiver
IC-2720—An Icom VHF/UHF 50 Watt transceiver
PMBO—Participating Network Mailbox Operator
UHF—Ultra High Frequencies between 300 and 3000 Megahertz
VHF—Very High Frequencies between 30 and 300 Megahertz
Winlink—www.winlink.org


Bernalillo Police Department news

—SUBMITTED BY FRED RADOSEVICH, CHIEF, BERNALILLO POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Bernalillo Police Department will be participating in 24th Annual National Night Out on August 7. The police department will be participating in several block parties in town during the evening. National Night Out is designed to:

• Heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness.
• Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs.
• Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.
• Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organizing and fighting back.
Bernalillo police officers will be participating in the different block parties in Bernalillo. Bernalillo Mayor Patricia Chavez and Police Chief Fred Radosevich plan on attending all the block parties during the evening.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please call Chief Fred Radosevich at 771-5877.

The following are the monthly statistics for the Bernalillo Police Department for the month of June, 2007.

95 OFFENSE INCIDENT REPORTS:

• 7 domestic violence (assault)
• 8 burglaries
• 11 thefts
• 5 vandalism
• 7 DWI

69 ARRESTS:

• 7 domestic violence
• 5 drug offenses
• 7 DWI
• 22 warrants

538 TRAFFIC CITATIONS:

• 176 speeding
• 15 stop sign
• 33 suspended/revoked
• 57 no insurance
• 52 seatbelt violations

29 CRASH REPORTS (ACCIDENTS):

• 11 on Highway 550
• 3 on Highway 313

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