The West Central Florida Group, Inc.

A non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization to promote Amateur Radio and Emergency Communications on Florida's West Coast

The West Central Florida Group, Inc. is a non-profit Amateur Radio organization.   We were founded in 2001 to manage and operate West Central Florida's only regional linked amateur radio repeater system.  The NI4CE System covers all or parts of fourteen counties and provides extensive mobile coverage along the I-75 and the I-4 corridors.  The system's continuing growth and annual operating expenses are supported via tax deductable donations. Please visit our Contribute Funds page for information on how you can help.

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Recent NI4CE Repeater System News, Events and Information


Riley Hollingsworth's Comments On Amateur Radio

The following are excerpts from informal comments by Riley Hollingsworth, Retired Special Counsel, FCC Enforcement, speaking at the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in early November 2014:

"I'm often asked what you can do to help Amateur Radio and help enforcement. There's several things you can do. One is, don't engage people and don't humor the idiots. We have a certain number of idiots, just like the legal profession does, the plumbers profession, medical, whatever. It's just our society. But, stupidity can't be regulated, no matter how good the rules are. The thing you do to help the most, is to just turn the big knob. Every rig has one. Whether the transceiver has 20 buttons or 77, it has one big knob."

"You'll hear somebody tuning up and it's automatically assumed it is a deliberate tune-up. At the FCC, we knew from monitoring that 90% of what was being argued about on the bands was accidental interference. With the rigs you have today, it's very easy to get them screwed up. So, most of the interference is not intentional."

"But, our society assumes offense. It wasn't like this 20 years ago. We are insistent on rights over responsibilities, and it's just the nature of our times. People are thin skinned. A lot of these people, on 75 meters mainly, are the same way. They're narrow-minded, they're grouchy, they don't like new ideas, they're ungrateful for what they have. And you can hear this on 14313 as well. If they won the state lottery, they would probably bitch about how it was paid out! So, the main thing you can do to help: don't add to the problem. Be part of the solution, even if it means not engaging. If it is a continuing violation, report it to the Commission or to the League. But mainly, don't add to the problem. And, you've got to know what the issues are. Whether its interference from grow lights, or BPL (which has fortunately gone by the wayside we think and we hope.)"

"You've got to keep up with the issues. Early on [in enforcement], I would try personal contact with some of the people we were really having trouble with on the bands, who were causing problems but weren't directly in violation of the rules. One group, I was saying "Look, if a recording of your conversation on 75 meters ever went before a Senate subcommittee that was considering BPL, we're going to lose that hands-down.", because they're going to say "Why protect this type of service'". And, they didn't know what BPL was! During the height of the BPL, that worried me more than anything else, I thought that was very much of a danger to us, I think that was the biggest danger to us since World War II, to our bands. But, a lot of people didn't keep up with the issues, they didn't know what it was, they had no idea how dangerous that was. This group on 75 meters and 14313, they're being thinned out."

"A lot of these conduct problems, are from the guys who are getting up in age. They are getting old and grouchy, and the Grim Reaper is going to take care of some of them. Every year we get some big enforcement action from the Grim Reaper. And I notice nobody at the FCC wears black armbands over it. So, in a sense, that's going to take care of itself, I think."

"But, it's not the no code people. I could not see any decline in compliance with the rules after they eliminated the CW requirement. It's never the new people. It's the older people that have Extra Class licenses, and they think they know everything. They've been on the same frequency for ten years, using 1200 Watts to talk across the state, and they don't like new ideas, they don't like new people. They haven't done anything new in Amateur Radio in a decade. That's the ones that don't know what they don't know. They are thinning out a good bit, but that still worries me. I saw no decline after the elimination of CW. In fact, as far as CW goes, there seems to be more interest in CW than ever. The best way to ruin a good book in high school was to put it on the required reading list. It could be that requiring the code turned some people away from it. It seems to be more active than ever."

"One thing that's causing a huge problem, and this is also a sign of our times: I understand some of the state and federal agencies have this problem, but it's the problem of people firing off nasty emails, not only to Laura, but to the enforcement bureau chief, and to the chairman, about amateur radio situations that they think the FCC should attack. I'm talking about horrible emails, threatening emails, threatening to the degree that quite often the security office gets involved. We've got to stop this, it's giving Amateur Radio a black eye. Some are so threatening that the security staff might not let Laura travel, and you notice that she doesn't travel much, partly because of the budget, but partly because of this problem. There are obscene, threatening and stupid emails by people who are hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. I'm sure state senators get them, US senators get them. But when it comes in specifically to the Enforcement Bureau about an Amateur complaint, it's bad for all of us. It's giving some people in the Commission a bad taste in their mouth about Amateur Radio. They sort of understand that they are sent by fruitcakes, but amateurs are very quick to fire off an email about a complaint or about a situation they hear on the bands, and they don't know the full background of it. This is a time when we are hyper-sensitive about security issues. It's just a big problem, I don't know the solution."

"I think as far as the biggest threats we should be more worried about is the RF junk that is out there. One of the big problems of interference to Amateur Radio right now is from grow lights. People are growing marijuana and that's becoming a little more legal every day, it seems like. Some of these grow lights are really junk. The League has worked countless hours on that, and talked to the manufacturers, and gotten a lot of cooperation with some of them and not so much with the others. It is the RF devices. I think that is more of a threat than conduct on the bands right now."

"A lot of the local jurisdictions changed the code about which breaker switches you can use in a house. You have to have what they call arc-faults. When those first hit, just normal amateur radio RF would trip the breaker. Within 300 feet. It caused a lot of problems in new housing. A lot of people were really mad at amateur radio operators in some areas because every time they got on the breaker went off. The League worked with Eaton company, and they recalled a lot of those."

"That's the kind of stuff that worries me more about amateur radio, assuming we keep our numbers up and we stay relevant, and maintain our proper role in public service communications, and keep the public aware of what Amateur Radio is, I don't see a threat to our HF frequencies. At the upper edges, of course, we will have some chipping away with science and medical equipment and stuff."

"But, mainly it's the junk that's coming out there. It's simple to fix these. It costs five or ten cents more to make a grow light so it doesn't cause interference on our frequencies. It's not always amateur frequencies, it's just that we hear it first, we know more about how to find it. A lot of people can't listen to AM radio because of some interference, but they don't have any idea what is causing the signal or where it is coming from, but we tend to find out, and so we squawk more. Really, I think we are the canary in the coal mine. But, you have bureaucrats that don't want to do anything they don't have to do, and they say "Why worry about amateur interference? We don't guarantee them a pure spectrum anyway, so let's go on to something else." But, if it interferes with us, it can interfere with aviation communications, public safety communications, or whatever. So, they've got to listen to you people because you are the canary in the coal mine."

"I used to be asked if Amateur Radio could survive the internet. I got that question many times in the early days. I think we've beautifully survived and blended and enhanced the internet. So, I think we've answered that question very well. Computers have become a great asset to Amateur Radio. We've integrated them into everything from logging to emergency communications."

"We live in an age where there is a technological breakthrough every month. Not only that, but we've come to expect it. We live in a herd mentality. We rush out and buy the latest and greatest thing; and on the way home, is when its obsolescence starts. You can see that with the cellphones and iphones, we run for the latest thing and as soon as we get it, it starts being obsolete. Our responsibility is awesome, because we've got to keep Amateur Radio from becoming obsolete. I hope we're up to it. It's time for us to leave a legacy to this avocation. It's hard but you can do it. This whole radio thing is our passion and our gift."

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New Lake Placid Repeater On The Air

A new UHF Repeater has been added to the NI4CE system. 443.950 MHz (+) CTCSS 100.0 is now on the air in Lake Placid (Highlands County). This new NI4CE repeater enables Hams in DeSoto, Glades, Highlands and Polk Counties to better access the NI4CE system.

Special thanks to John-KK4LI for helping make this new Lake Placid repeater a reality.

73 e Paul-NB9X

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WCFG Helps Bring Emergency Communications to North Pinellas County

Palm Harbor Fire Station #52 is now equipped with Amateur Radio communications, thanks to a Scout Explorer Leadership Project. The effort, spearheaded by Explorer Scout Parker Mitchell-KI4YAV (pictured center), will support disaster and emergency communications from the Fire Station located in Palm Harbor in North Pinellas County. Also pictured is Parker's father, Eric-AI4WY (left) and West Central Florida Group, Inc. President Paul Toth-NB9X (right), who were on hand to help install the VHF station equipment. A VHF radio and Power Supply were donated for the station by the West Central Florida Group, Inc.

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NI4CE Back At Full Strength - Dec. 19, 2013

The NI4CE Repeater System is back at full strength with the relocation of the 442.825 repeater to a new site in Polk County and the return of the 443.450 Holiday repeater to service.

The 442.825 repeater had been operating from the WMOR-TV tower at Pebbledale where it was put on the air in 2005. WMOR-TV recently advised they will be demolishing the tower and transmitter building in early January. The analog TV operation there was terminated in 2010 when commercial television went digital. The West Central Florida Group, Inc. would like to thank WMOR-TV and Hearst Communications to allowing the 442.825 to operate from the Pebbledale site for the past eight years.

The 443.450 repeater in Holiday has been off the air since mid-November to make way for WCIE-FM�s new transmitter and antenna. The repeater was brought back online with a new 8 bay Telewave UHF antenna at 1,100 feel AGL and shares a transmission line and filtering system with our site host, Clear Channel Broadcasting.

We would like to know how you are receiving the 442.825 and/or 443.450 repeaters at your location, send us an email at info@ni4ce.org with your callsign, location, repeater and signal strength.
 

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NI4CE-13 Weather Station

The West Central Florida Group, Inc., in partnership with Cox Media Group has launched the NI4CE-13 APRS Weather Station in Pinellas County. NI4CE-13 is located in Oldsmar just North of Old Tampa Bay. This new APRS Weather Station will provide LIVE weather data 24/7/365. To view NI4CE-13 weather data, go to http://wx.findu.com/ni4ce-13.

The NI4CE-13 station joins NI4CE-10 in Verna (Manatee Co.), NI4CE-11 and NI4CE-12 at Riverview (Hillsborough Co.)

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In case you missed the NXDN Forum at TampaBay Hamfest


The West Central Florida Group, Inc. and NI4CE presented a NXDN Digital Radio Forum at the 37th Annual TampaBay Hamfest with over 60 people in attendance. The NXDN Forum featured a LIVE demonstration of NXDN Digital Radio, Radio Programming Tips and information and a Question and Answer session.

NI4CE operates a dedicated NXDN Digital Repeater on 444.425 / 449.425 MHz - RAN 1 from our site in Riverview. NI4CE-NXDN Riverview is connected to the NXDN Worldwide Network. NXDN mode is also available on demand through the NI4CE 442.950 / 447.950 MHz repeater at Verna and the 443.450 / 448.450 MHz Holiday repeater.
 
The PowerPoint presentation is available here in case you missed the Forum.

To join the NI4CE-NXDN-Users Google Group, send an email to info@ni4ce.org to request membership. It's FREE!


73 de NI4CE
The West Central Florida Group, Inc.

 

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Intentional Interference on the NI4CE Repeater System


As you may know, the NI4CE Repeater System has recently become the target of one or more individuals who are interfering with the normal operation of the system. These transmissions have included extended periods of kerchunking, DTMF tones and audio not authorized for transmission under Part 97 rules. In all cases, the person(s) responsible refuse to identify their station, also a violation of FCC rules.

The target of these illegal transmissions has been the 443.450 repeater in Holiday. The frequency of this activity has noticeably increased since the 146.64 repeater was removed from service earlier this month.

We want you to know this activity has been brought to the attention of the FCC Field Office in Tampa. A case file has been opened by the Enforcement Division at our request. At the same time, our technical crew has been collecting recordings of these malicious transmissions and other data that will assist the FCC with locating and prosecuting the individual(s) responsible for this abuse.

These illegal transmissions have made it increasingly difficult to monitor the NI4CE system as well as use the system for legal two-way communications. Please know if the end game for this individual(s) is a termination of service on 443.450 to the Amateur Radio community, it is not going to happen.

One last item�.there has been a swirl of rumors predicting the imminent loss of the Holiday site for the 443.450 repeater. We have had two lengthy discussions with our host, Clear Channel Communications, Inc. They have indicated they have no current plans to ask the West Central Florida Group, Inc, to turn off our repeater and vacate the tower site.

Very 73,

Paul Toth-NB9X
President
West Central Florida Group, Inc.

 

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NI4CE Digital Repeater now in service

A new, fulltime NXDN Repeater went into service on Sunday, March 11, 2012 on 444.425 MHz (RAN=1). This new NI4CE Digital Repeater replaces the NI4CE D-Star repeater which had operated from the Riverview site for several years. At the same time, the NI4CE 442.550 MHz repeater at Riverview becomes a fulltime analog-only voice repeater.

The new 444.425 repeater provides fulltime NXDN digital voice and text service to operators in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk Counties. Additionally, on-demand NXDN digital voice and text service is available via the 442.950 Verna repeater and 443.450 Holiday repeater.

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NI4CE Supports SKYWARN

The NI4CE Repeater Network continues to support the National Weather Service SKYWARN severe weather spotter program. Join the weekly SKYWARN Information Net each Tuesday evening at 9:00 PM EDT. SKYWARN Severe Weather Nets will be conducted on the system whenever severe weather threatens the NWS-Ruskin Operational Area. These Nets enable the timely issuance of severe weather warnings and the delivery of spotter information directly to WX4TOR at the National Weather Service.

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NI4CE-NXDN-Users Group

Get your questions answered about the NI4CE System's new digital mode, NXDN, by signing up for the NICE-NXDN-Users Group forum on Google Group. It's Fun! It's Informational! And it's FREE! To find out more about NXDN digital Talk, Text and Track, join now. Send an email to subscribe-ni4ce-nxdn-users@googlegroups.com and get answers to your NXDN questions on the ARRL West Central Florida Section Tech Net, every Thursday evening at 9:00 PM ET on the NI4CE Amateur Repeater Network.

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Home
Page

Paul Knupke Jr
Memorial Fund

NI4CE Map &
Frequencies

NXDN Digital
Repeaters

Photo
Album

SKYWARN
Regional Nets

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Schedule

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Funds

About
WCFG


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