News

NI4CE Gets Amazon.com’s SMILE Program

The West Central Florida Group is pleased to announce it is now participating in Amazon.com’s “AmazonSmile” program.

Here is how it works.   Before making your next purchase from amazon.com, open your Internet browser and go to https://smile.amazon.com/ch/65-1061382 or click on the banner below.  Using the hyperlink or banner below, you won’t have to search for West Central Florida Group, Inc. as your AmazonSmile charity among almost one million other charities.

Login with your usual Amazon Username and Password.  Then, every time you make a purchase from amazom.com, Amazon will donate one half of one percent of your purchase to keep the NI4CE Repeater System on the air.  That’s fifty cents for every one hundred dollars you spend.  Five dollars for every one thousand dollars you spend.

Tell your friends and neighbors about the Amazon Smiles program, too.  The more who participate and select the WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA GROUP, INC. as their Amazon Smile charity, the more the NI4CE Repeater System can do for you.

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NI4CE Operating Code

The NI4CE Repeater System provides all licensed West Central Florida Amateur Radio operators with a “regional” communications resource to advance Amateur Radio commitment to public service and encourage fellowship among all operators.

The NI4CE System serves all or parts of fourteen counties.  It is a shared communications resource for the over twenty thousand Amateur Radio licensees who live here and the hundreds of visitors who join us annually.  When using the NI4CE System, the West Central Florida Group, Inc. asks you to:

• Keep your transmissions as brief and to the point as possible.  Please keep the Total Run Time for each QSO to ten minutes or less.  Remember, there are many other operators waiting to use the repeaters.
• Please leave pauses between transmissions, particularly when there is weather in the region that may be severe.
• Please observe FCC Part 97 Rules at all times, particularly the provisions of 97.113.
• Transmit power in Florida is limited to 50 watts in Florida.
• Please turn off special features including WIRES and other “sounders” that may delay your communications.  Kerchunking is frowned on.
• Observe the “Golden Rule”.  Common sense, courtesy and respect is contagious!

If you have a NXDN Digital Radio, Talkgroup 65000 can be used to connect to the NXDN Worldwide Network.

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Holiday Back At Full Power and
Verna UHF Repeater Still At Reduced Power

Thanks to everyone who has stepped up to help us restore the Holiday Repeater (443.450) to FULL Power.  The new Power amplifier is now in service.  Based on our preliminary testing, we expect coverage to meet or exceed what existing before the amplifier failure in May.

A special thanks to Bill-N4APG, Carl-AJ4JA and Gates Air Corp for their generous support with this service restoration!

The Verna UHF Analog Repeater (442.950) remains at reduced power and reduced coverage.  You can help us get this repeater back to FULL power by clicking one of the PayPal buttons below.  The West Central Florida Group, Inc. also accepts checks and money orders which can be mailed to:

West Central Florida Group, Inc.
11931 92nd Way North
Largo, FL 33773-4321

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SKYWARN ACTIVATIONS

Here is the information the National Weather Service is most interested in knowing during any SKYWarn ACTIVATION ON on the NI4CE Repeater System:

  • Winds of 35 MPH or higher
  • Rainfall of two inches or more in an hour
  • Flooding
  • Hail of any size
  • Tornadoes
  • Weather caused damage
  • Street closures

During Tropical Weather Events, Barometric Pressure data is also helpful.

Keep reports SHORT AND CONCISE. During bad weather, repeater time is valuable. Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Avoid unnecessary comments and verbiage.

It is requested that you NOT report non-severe weather, such as “It’s cloudy with light rain” or “the rain is letting up here”. The National Weather Service has radar and knows where it’s not raining. Reports such as this tie up valuable repeater time.

When reporting severe weather activity, please provide your Amateur Radio Callsign, your National Weather Service SKYWARN ID (if you have one), the location of your report and an approximate time of the severe weather event (if other than NOW).

Please turn off any “Roger Beeps”, “WIRES” signaling or the use of DTMF tones as they will interfere with your report.

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NI4CE Supports Tour de Cure

Congratulations to the American Diabetes Association and all the bike riders who participated in the annual Tour de Cure Bike Event on Sunday, April 10th.  The West Central Florida Group, Inc. was happy to lend our support of the 145.430 Repeater at Verna for Event Communications and Safety.  Several of the Ham operators who participated in the event also used the NI4CE-10 Digipeater for APRS tracking of SAG vehicles.

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2016 Hurricane Season

The NI4CE Repeater System is ramping up for the upcoming 2016 Hurricane Season.  NI4CE will support the National Weather Service with any SKYWARN Tropical Weather activations as it has since 2001.  Remember, hurricanes and tropical storms can spawn tornados, damaging straight line winds and severe flooding.

Preliminary forecasts are calling for ABOVE AVERAGE hurricane and tropical weather activity with fourteen (14) named Atlantic storms, eight (8) Hurricanes and four (4) Category 3 or higher Major Hurricanes.

Make sure you have a three day supply of food and water on hand, a ample supply of all prescription medications, First Aid Supplies and mosquito repellant.  Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand and a means of charging your cell phones and Ham Radio transceivers.  For assistance preparing an Evacuation Plan should one be needed, go to http://www.floridadisaster.org

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The Real Cost Of A Repeater System

Here is a cold, hard fact.  Amateur Radio and Ham Radio Repeaters are not FREE!

Consider the following:

  • Tower or building top space for the average Amateur Radio repeater is worth approximately $1,500.00 per month.  The cost of tower space on tall Broadcast towers is even more.
  • Commercial-grade Repeaters, RF Amplifiers, DC Power Supplies, Duplexers, Antennas and transmission line are expensive.  How much?  A new repeater can cost $2,000 or more.  Commercial-grade RF Amplifiers can run $1,400.00 or more.  A set of duplexers can cost as much as $3,000.00.  A commercial-grade antenna built to withstand winds of 130 MPH can cost as much as $2,500.00.  7/8” hard line cable can cost up to $9.00 per foot plus connectors (up to $100.00 each) plus installation.
  • Even though many Amateur Radio repeaters lie dormant for extended periods of time, they must be built for a one hundred percent duty cycle to withstand the impact of extended operating time when they are in use.
  • An Amateur Radio presence on a “commercial” or broadcast tower requires multi-million dollar Liability Insurance coverage that can cost the repeater owner $2,500.00 per year or more.  This is a direct, out of pocket expense.
  • A tower crew to install an antenna and transmission line on a three hundred foot commercial tower can easily cost $4,000.00.

The West Central Florida Group, Inc. operates the NI4CE Repeater System to enable the Amateur Radio community to be connected and pro-active when severe weather threatens, Health and Welfare messages need to be passed or whenever the West Central Florida community needs our support.  Our IRS 501(c)(3) charitable status enables our corporate partners including Cox Media Group Inc., iHeart Media, Vertical Bridge and others,  to donate tower space and the use of ground facilities to house the repeater equipment.  That provides significant financial relief.  All other capital and operating expenses require cold, hard cash.  Operating an Amateur Radio repeater, much less a five site, eight repeater system is not FREE!

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