Get Adobe Flash player



ALERT is further embracing Amateur Digital Modes. It’s our job to find you and your Nets when the Weather Service in Birmingham is asking for locations specific reports. We also know that we can’t be everywhere at once.  Digital Modes allows us to distribute the load to multiple control operators at remote locations (home/mobile/portable) to help get storm reports. 

Please visit our Digital Modes page to get specific details.

Our first and longest digital mode.  We have a radio at our station at the NWS with our primary point of contact being the K4DSO repeater and Reflector 58 B.
What’s new? Hotspots, and in particular Pi-STAR based Hotspots which are more kin to a personal repeater gateway on the network. Thanks to the ircDDBGateway protocol, which is built into the Pi-STAR image, a Gateway’s IP address is automatically on the network for easy Callsign and Gateway routing. What this means is 2 stations that have a Pi-STAR hotspot conversation off the reflector and/or repeater.  Each ham uses the other hams callsign in the UR/To: field and ircDDB does the magic. You can also utilize one hotspot as the conversion point and several hams can connect to the one person’s hotspot gateway and have a conference hotspot to hotspot. This also brings in QuadNet ( They have used the ircDBB system to create group routing which is similar in thinking about DMR talk groups which they call Smart Groups. To operate, you put a defined UR/To: group name in your radio and you can have a group conversation with anyone that’s subscribed to the Smart Group. ALERT’s Smart Group is QK4NWS.

ALERT currently does not have a DMR radio at the NWS. However, KV4S is acting as our DMR Liaison to utilize this mode to gather storm reports to relay to ALERT and/or the NWS. He has access to both DMARC and Brandmiester networks. From a repeater perspective in Alabama, we have a split between the 2 DMR networks and while this split is not preferable from a spotting perspective we hope to still be able to utilize both modes for maximum coverage.  Mobile Hotspots is also driving DMR as a whole but something ALERT sees value in a storm spotting perspective.  Hotspots are connected to the Brandmeister network which we see as an advantage because more and more hams and storm spotters use mobile internet hotspots or there phone’s for anywhere internet access.  The internet is not the end all be all of connectivity especially, for hams so that’s where repeaters, portable repeaters, simplex, and ham internet through HamNet or ARDEN could get you connected if the normal internet backbone is down. Some Hams part of Emergency Services and first responders are put on priority networks which are restored before the general public internet. You’ll see Talk group specifics on our Digital Modes page. We will attempt to have a presence on the Alabama Statewide TG (TalkGroup) 3101 for both DMARC and Brandmeister.  The Alabama Link is another powerful TG (31010) will be utilizing and has added benefits as a cross mode and mobile first. Cross mode means there are access points for D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, Analog, Mobile apps such as EchoLink and Teams speak to get the message out. ALERT will also have it’s own TG on Brandmeister 31013 which may be used for more internal operations of the club but an additional way to get us if other methods fail. While Private calls are a strong part of DMR it is likely not something we will utilize for passing reports as to it’s one on one nature.


Hi Everyone,

The glorious day has almost arrived when we get to see if our resident groundhog Birmingham Bill will see his shadow this Groundhog Day. No we dont rely on that Danged Yankee Punxsutawney Phil. Why he doesnt even know what sweet tea is, not to mention sweet tater puddin, so that shatters his credibility beyond repair. Why if he doesnt possess that basic knowledge, how can he properly prognosticate ponderous possibilities such as these?

Plus, he talks funny.

If Birmingham Bill does see his shadow, and if the folklore were true, then we would have a late spring.

Whether it is late or timely, are you ready for the storms of spring and for the callouts that will come?

Now is a good time to review your personal emergency preparedness plans and to brush up on your skills. Dont wait until the sirens sound, for by then it may be too late.

In preparing, you should ask yourselves these questions:

Is my family shelter, which everyone should have, still ready?
Is my emergency equipment & radios working?
Are my emergency supplies still adequate and in date?
Are the batteries still good and the rechargeable batteries charged?
Are my communications channels still functional? This includes RF, Internet & telephone resources.
Can I reliably receive weather watches and warnings, in multiple ways?

Are you prepared both at home and at work?

Remember, keeping yourself and your family alive and intact during and after the storms is your number one priority.

Stay safe.

This months ALERT meeting will be February 13 at 7PM.

I hope to see you there!


Birmingham NWS Spring 2018 Storm Spotter Courses

The Birmingham NWS office will present several online Basic Spotter Courses and a single online Advanced Spotter Course this Spring. These online classes allow individuals to complete the courses in the comfort of their own home or office with the use of meeting site.

By attending any course, which runs about 1.5 – 2 hours, individuals or a group of individuals will become SKYWARN Storm Spotters.

Unless you are in need of or just want to attend a refresher Course, you do not need to attend more than one Basic SKYWARN Course, as the material covered is the same; however it is required you to attend at least one Basic SKYWARN Course before taking the Advanced SKYWARN Course.

These courses are two-way, meaning you will be able to interact with the meteorologist leading the training. You will be muted while training is in-progress, and unmuted when applicable (e.g., for questions); or, you can use the built-in chat feature.

The current schedule is as follows:

Basic Class Wednesday, February 21 at 6:30 PM Use Session Code 173-280-976
Basic Class Tuesday, February 27 at 6:30 PM Use Session Code 302-207-574
Basic Class Tuesday, March 6 at 1:00 PM Use Session Code 539-919-581
Basic Class Thursday, March 15 at 1:00 PM Use Session Code 541-472-536
Basic Class Thursday, March 22 at 6:30 PM Use Session Code 425-457-943
Advanced Class Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 PM Use Session Code 743-275-677

Enter the session code at

These classes will help you provide the NWS the vital ground truth information they need to verify radar indications, target their attention and help you relay reports in a clear manner to the NWS, either directly via the 1-800-856-0758 Storm Reporting Hotline, online at or amateur radio. This knowledge helps SKYWARN Net Control stations filter reports, by giving them knowledge of what reporting stations are trying to describe. This way they can tell if the report is a valid report, an invalid report by an overly excited operator or a valid, but, poorly described report, which without this knowledge would be mistakenly dismissed.

For further information on these classes visit:

If you dont mind travelling to North Alabama, you might consider NWS Huntsvilles training classes also.

For further information on these classes visit: &


The Strangers Among Us

People become interested and involved in Amateur Radio for many reasons. Some are drawn by the comradery they hear on the air, the lure of talking to people in foreign lands, some by the technical aspects and opportunities for experimentation and many for public service and emergency preparedness. We usually join for one reason and in the process of time branch out into different areas.

Whatever the reasons that we are initially drawn into the hobby; there is one common bond for us all:

We all had to get a license.

We have always had the occasional problem of an unlicensed operator trying to get on the air. It is usually a short lived problem and usually these people, who are very recognizable, either get caught or grow bored, give up and go away.

Only twice in my 40 years of ham radio have I encountered someone on the air who I did not realize was an unlicensed operator or bootlegger. One was a gentleman I worked twice in 1978 on 10 meter CW from Pasco Washington. He sent absolutely perfect CW, had a valid sounding call sign and they were very enjoyable conversations.

He sent me his address twice, but, the QSL cards I sent kept coming back and I had someone look him up in a Callbook, and he wasnt listed. Looking further I found that he had never appeared in any Callbook or any other record I checked and never has since, letting me know that he was bogus.

The second was a local gentleman from Bessemer who appeared on 146.88 MHz in February 1984. A nice guy, with a good sounding call, who made a lot of friends on the air. June came, and he had a new N4 call sign, and I congratulated him on his upgrade. He called me on the phone and said Mark.I hate to admit it, but, Ive been bootlegging all this time. I wanted a license and was studying, but, I just couldnt resist the urge. I passed my general test last month at the Birminghamfest. He would freely admit his sin on the air and folk would tell him that he might not really want to say that on the air. No one turned him in, since he was now legit and no one wanted to turn in a friend. He no longer lives in the area, but, I understand he is still active today.

Others who bootleg are obvious, giving impossible call signs, such as ZXY45K, Rubber Duck handles, using CB terminology and with their actions displaying that they dont have a clue about what they are doing.

This problem, which has always existed, is threatening to become a more widespread problem.

I am on several Facebook groups dealing with emergency preparedness and outdoor survival. I am seeing more and more postings of people either purchasing or being given inexpensive ham radios such as Baofeng HTs with the stated purpose of putting them in their bug out bags so they can talk to people during an emergency. Some state I tried to talk to some of the local hams to test it out, but, I couldnt seem to reach them. The majority of them are not licensed.

We hams try to educate them, telling them that this isnt a good idea, that a license is necessary and that the FCC will fine you WHEN you are caught, and that YOU WILL be caught. We then tell them how to obtain a license, to which some say they honestly didnt know a license was needed and thank us. Some say they will get a license and hopefully they actually will bother to do things legally.

There is a certain percentage however whose attitude is who cares?, anything is legal during an emergency and big deal if it saves a life.

To one gentleman who stated the latter I responded as follows:

The problem is that it can COST lives. Before I explain what I mean, I am part of a group called the Alabama Emergency Response Team. We provide communications support for the National Weather Service during severe weather outbreaks. Ive been involved in emergency communications since the 1980s. During hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and untold dozens of tornado outbreaks, I was on the air, so Im speaking from experience.

During an emergency, conditions are chaotic anyway, with damage, injuries, communications systems damaged, etc. So here you are, the Net Control Station during the middle of all this and an unlicensed guy comes on the air. He knows nothing about proper protocol, net operations or even the proper way to communicate. So the net grinds to a crawl while we try to deal with this person. Trying to make sense of his report, knowing full and well he may be giving a false report anyway. For that has happened.

Back a few years ago a guy came on the radio, said he had just been released from the hospital and his stitches had burst. Please send help. We called the EMS, and of course they found nothing but an empty field. Point being we have no way of telling if the report of an unlicensed person is bogus or not. But, by being a licensed ham, with a callsign being given for identification we know it is probably valid, and help can be sent. But, the time wasted dealing with an unlicensed person delays emergency response, and them arriving on time so they can potentially save someones life.

Its not a case of hams saying you cant join our little clique unless you meet our approval. Its us dealing with real life situations and scenarios. I hope this clarifies it a little. Study and get your ham license and join us. Its fun and we need you!

To this no response was offered.

I also addressed in another thread the kindred theory I bought a police radio so I can talk to the police directly and not have to go through the dispatcher.

To this I pointed out that the police absolutely dont want this, as it disrupts normal communications and could cost an officers life, especially during the frequently heard call all units hold the radio as an officer enters a dangerous situation, only to have some bozo suddenly yell can yall send a unit to Billy Bobs car wash, his durned stoopid dawgs are at it agin.

Seeing that this is an ongoing and developing problem, what can we hams do to help counter this trend?

1. Be aware that the problem exists. You cant address something, if you blissfully ignore it.

2. If you become aware of someone planning on such actions, educate them. Tell them how to become a ham and invite them. One of three things will happen, they may give up the idea, they may brush you off and do it anyway or they may study and get their license and become a valuable member of the ham community.

3. If you find a person bootlegging on the air, dont talk to them. Call the repeater trustee or a club officer, and let them know what is going on. Talking to them will only encourage them to continue and the Im gonna open a can of whoop butt on you approach can backfire and inspire them to interfere with every net and QSO in central Alabama.

4. Clubs and groups, if you are not active in foxhunting and direction finding, you may want to get involved in this activity. Those already involved in these need to hone their skills so you can locate these individuals so you can turn them and the evidence you gather over to the FCC.

Remembering that though tarring and feathering may be tempting please let the FCC be the one that does it.

For if you try to handle it own you own you might encounter one of those frogs on a lily pad in a lake of pain.

In other words, you may end up being sued out of house and home.

Incidentally, that reference to a fake distress call is a true story.

One Tuesday night in 1985 on the old AENX Net on 146.88 an SOS in perfect CW began doubling and heterodyning with the Net Control Station, Joe Smith WA4RNPs signal causing a series of screeching tones.

No tone was being sent. The letters were being sent by keying the mic button over and over. The NCS could not hear it of course, since he was transmitting, but, the other hams could, and asked the NCS to key the mic while the other station transmitted and they copied what was being sent.

This worked, and the gentleman, who gave a K4 call sign, sent that he had just come home from surgery at Baptist Montclair, his stitches had burst and that he was hemorrhaging and growing very weak, please send help.

The hams called 911 and the paramedics found the address given to be an empty field. A call sign search gave an address in Nashville, which confirmed this as being a bogus SOS.

Though it turned out to be a false SOS, it demonstrated a few things. One, that even if you have no audio, either due to a damaged radio or due to an inability to speak, you CAN send a usable distress call that can be heard by using the microphones PTT button. Using the touch tone keys, however might not work, as some repeaters will automatically blank the tones out. Secondly, IF operators take the time to learn CW, even though it is no longer a legal requirement, they will be able to understand and respond to such a distress call.

It was not the last time this person was heard from. A few weeks later this happened again and I was the NCS. I said if you have a problem well be glad to help you, and if you dont have a problem well be glad to give you one. We stood by for another transmission, and he was never heard from again.

All it took was a little diplomacy.


Marks Almanac

February, or Februarius, as the Romans called it, is named after the Latin term februum, which means purification. Ancient Rome celebrated the Februa purification ritual on February 15, which was Full Moon on the old lunar based Latin calendar.

February was not originally included in the Roman calendar, which began in March, but was added, along with January by Numa Pompilius around 713 BC, and until 450 BC was considered the last month of the year.

February was originally 29 days long, but one day was taken and added to August, so the that Emperor Augustuss month would be equal to Julius Caesars month of July. Now only Leap Year has 29 days, the next of which will occur in 2020.

In the Southern Hemisphere February is the equivalent of August. But, for us, February is a cold month with more snow falling in February than in any other month.

Statistically speaking, there is a 70% chance of snow flurries, and a 57% chance of snow up to one inch. There is a 13% chance of over one inch, and a 3% chance of 4 inches or more.

There is hope on the horizon though, as the worst of winter weather is usually over by February 15.
North Atlantic Tropical activity is at a minimum. From 1851 to 2015 there has been only one Tropical Storm to occur, 70 MPH Tropical Storm #1, which affected Florida on February 2 & 3, 1952.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury is lost in the glow of the sunrise.

Venus is hidden very deep in the sunset.

Mars, magnitude +1.3 in Aquarius rises in the east-southeast around 2 or 3 a.m. and are high in the south-southeast by early dawn.

Jupiter 1.9, in Virgo respectively rises in the east-southeast around 2 or 3 a.m. and are high in the south-southeast by early dawn.

Jupiter, the first up, is the brightest point in the sky. Mars glows to Jupiter’s lower left. They’re 7 apart on the morning of January 20th, widening to 10 apart by the 27th.

Lower left of Mars, look for the red star Antares and the rest of upper Scorpius. This is an area very rich in nebulae, so grab the binoculars and explore region.

Saturn, magnitude +0.5 in southern Ophiucus, is becoming more easily visible very low in early dawn. About 45 minutes before sunrise, look for it above the southeast horizon a good 43 to the lower left of Jupiter. Don’t confuse Saturn with twinkly orange Antares about halfway back toward Jupiter, or twinkly Altair far to the left due east.

Uranus, shining at a borderline naked eye brightness of +5.8 in Pisces, is high in the southwest right after dark.

Neptune, shining at magnitude +7.9 in Aquarius, is getting low in the west-southwest right after dark

3588 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of January 25, per NASAs Exoplanet Archive

In an oddity of celestial mechanics, there will be no Full Moon this February. This is because the last Full Moon, the partially eclipsed Super Full Blue Blood Moon occurred on January 31 and the next Full Moon will occur March 1.

Normally Februarys Full Moon is Full Snow Moon in Native American folklore, since the heaviest snows usually fell at this time of year. Since the harsh weather made hunting difficult, some tribes called it Full Hunger Moon.

New Moon will occur at 3:05 PM CST or 21:05 UTC on Thursday, February 15, as the Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky.

This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

There will be a Partial Solar Eclipse on February 15. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. This partial eclipse will only be visible in parts of Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica.

Days grow longer as the Suns angle above the noonday horizon rapidly increases from 34.5 degrees at the beginning of the month to 40.2 degrees at the end. Daylight increases from 10 hours 35 minutes on February 1 to 11 hours 26 minutes on February 28.

Sunrise and sunset times for Birmingham are:

February 1 Sunrise 6:43 AM Sunset 5:19 PM
February 14 Sunrise 6:32 AM Sunset 5:31 PM
February 28 Sunrise 6:17 AM Sunset 5:43 PM

For other locations go to and input the locations and dates you are interested in.

Sunset times are especially important if you are involved in outdoor activities, such as hiking for instance, for people sometimes forget the principle remember you still have to hike back. If it takes 3 hours to hike from your car to Moccasin Lake, it will take that long at least, if not longer, since you will be fatigued, to hike back. So if you started at 10 AM, arrived at 1PM, spent 2 hours fishing, and it takes 3 to 4 hours to hike back you will run out of daylight before you reach your car.

Trails and paths always look different hiking back, due to the different lighting angles and the fact you are looking from a totally opposite direction, plus now it is getting dark. You did good marking your trail with the orange surveyors tape you carried, but, you forgot and tied it on the side facing you rather than the side you would be returning from, so you cant seem to locate any of it. Yep, it seems you just might get stuck in the wilds for the night.

But, you have your little emergency kit with you, so you will be ok

You did remember your kit didnt you? You know the one. That little fanny pack you filled with all that junk you got from Academy, or was it Dicks Sporting Goods?, I forget which, anyway with the Mylar space blanket, the little Mylar tube tent or two 55 gallon drum liners you can tape end to end with the little roll of duct tape you packed, and open bottom to make a tube tent, and the roll of paracord to tie it to a tree. Along with the lighter and matches for making a LITTLE camp fire, a pocket knife or multitool, a headlight flashlight with the fresh batteries, the police whistle for signaling folk, a rain poncho, water purification tablets and some Snickers bars for comfort food.

All that, with the couple of water bottles in a cozy attached to your belt, or maybe that metal canteen with a nesting metal cup you got online, so you can filter water you might find through a handkerchief or undershirt and boil it three minutes, so you can keep hydrated, the hoodie you carried just in case it got chilly and that compass, map and GPS you remembered to frequently look at, and you know you are in good shape, for the shape you are in.

After all, you know that if you try to hike out at night, the distance which always seems to take twice as long as the map indicates even in the daylight, you may get totally lost, but, since you practiced in your back yard with all that junk in the fanny pack, you know what to and you know that all will be fine.

Plus you told two people where you were going and when you should be back, so someone would know that something went wrong if you didnt return. So someone might be looking for you, which is why you carried the whistle to blow in blasts on three, to get their attention. You remembered reading in the ALERT Newsletter to tell folk your plans, because if no one knows you are missing, no one will be looking for you. But, you did, so everything is copacetic.

That is unless you didnt bother to check the weather forecast from our friends on Weathervane Road aka the National Weather Service, and it starts bucketing rain and ice on you, but I know you did that also, so you are as good as gold.

You know you will be safe through the night, as the campfire will drive away the Boogey Man and those rabid man-eating raccoons, plus, you have a smartphone with a camera. Everyone knows that a camera is the best Bigfoot repellant ever invented. Even if you dont have a signal, which really doesnt matter anyway since you forgot to charge the durned thing and its battery died hours ago.

That crackling sound..a wolf perhaps? Nah… Remember the snakes and bears took care of them years ago. Supposedly around the same time those convicts escaped from the mental ward at the State Pen a few miles up the road, and all those gnawed bones started to appear.

Or so it is rumored anyway.

But not to worry, all is good.

No problems do I see.


The Birmingham Hamfest is now only five weeks away, March 2 & 3.
As mentioned in last months newsletter, this it will be a Friday & Saturday affair; instead of the Saturday & Sunday dates of years past.

This months meeting will be on February 13 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.

If for some reason you cannot attend the meeting in person, you can still participate via telephone. The teleconference number is 1-877-951-0997 & and the participant code is 741083.

Hope to see you there!

Mark / WD4NYL
ALERT Newsletter

Hi Everyone & Happy New Year.

I hope that Santa treated you well and that Father Time will be kind to you also.

As we unwind from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember that our next ALERT meeting is on January 9th.

Other important dates to remember are:

The Blount County Freezefest 2018 will be Saturday January 6, from 8 to 12 Noon,

Winter Field Day will he held January 27 & 28.

The Birmingham Hamfest is only nine weeks away, March 2 & 3.
This year, as with last year, will be a Friday & Saturday affair.

I hope you can attend these events

On a personal note, as of December 27, I have now been a ham radio operator for 40 years. WD4NYL is my original call, I never changed it, as I still remember the first time I saw it on my Novice license, and feeling that a minor miracle had occurred.

If you are not an Amateur Radio Operator, I invite you to join one of the most enjoyable hobbies to be found!

See &

May you and yours have the most prosperous of New Years!


ALERT Newsletter Guideline

When I assumed the reins as ALERT President back in 2007 one of the goals I had was to revive a Newsletter for ALERT. The concept was that it would be used to keep everyone aware major ALERT events, serve as a training tool, and as a monthly reminder that “ALERT is alive and well”. The Newsletter is a gentle PR tool, a beloved form of “spam” that for ten years has invaded people’s inboxes, and is one of the few newsletters still in publication.

What started as a central Alabama audience has now spread and has attained a southeastern, and even a national audience.

Occasionally there are those who consider submitting articles for the newsletter. Something I highly encourage as articles are needed and welcomed. I reserve the right to edit articles, focusing on spelling, clarity or length, but, usually I publish the articles verbatim.

All newsletters have or should have rules and guidelines as to structure and content. Though the ALERT Newsletter has never had “formal written rules”, and is not mentioned in the bylaws, as it was my hare brained idea, I thought it might be appropriate, if not interesting to share the unwritten guidelines I originally envisioned, and for the most part I have followed for the these ten years.

The first guidelines concern what NOT to include and are based on what I call the “Big Three No No Topics Of Ham Radio”. These three topics are subjects ham operators have traditionally been encouraged NOT to discuss on the air for reasons which will become clear.

1. Sex. We want this to be “family friendly newsletter”, and not leave people with the impression that the NWS office in Birmingham is bawdy house. Those red lights you see near the office signify aircraft runway obstruction lights, and nothing more.

2. Religion. For we have readers of different faiths and non-religious readers. Also, even if our readership were all of the same faith, there are numerous denominations all of whom are convinced that the other denominations are either ignorant, deceived or quasi-heathens, and are prone to want to beat each other over the head with Bibles – in love, of course. We want to avoid that unpleasantry.

3. Politics. Though we hate to admit it, we do seem to get a perverse pleasure out of seeing people argue endlessly over politics. How else can we explain the phenomena? But, the newsletter is not the place for that. That’s what Facebook is for, or so it seems, as my newsfeed is constantly bombarded by left and right wing propaganda, which gets irksome and tiresome as it distracts me as I am trying to concentrate on more worthwhile ventures, such as enjoying endless cat pictures.

Once there was a discussion on a local repeater about the “Big Three” topics hams are supposed to, and I did say supposed to avoid, and one old guy remarked “well that don’t leave too much to talk about, do it?”

Fortunately that’s not the case.

So what is the focus of our newsletter?

We focus mainly on six items:

1. ALERT topics – including news, concerns, events & training.
2. NWS topics – including news and the concerns of our Served Agency.
3. Emergency Preparedness – including both ALERT operational preparedness and
personal and family disaster preparedness.
4. Emergency Response – focusing on ALERT, but, can and does include our “sister”
organizations including ARES, HARC and others.
5. Emergency Communications – focusing on, but, not limited to amateur radio. Ways to use
social media and ways to use other, non-amateur radio resources.
6. Meteorology – which I stretch to include astronomy, as to me “it’s all sky related”.

These six categories provide plenty of opportunities for anyone wanting to contribute an article for the newsletter.

As I stated at the outset I reserve the right to edit articles, and in fact the final version of the newsletter you receive is sometimes a heavily edited final version.

I spell check the piece first and then look for nonsensical statements, as Microsoft Word often does strange things to a document, and if not that, a cat running across the keyboard while my head is turned will end up scrambling and deleting entire paragraphs. Plus sometimes I write some things and reading them back have to say “do what, huh?”

I will add the original font and paragraph format does not always survive its being posted on forums and websites. So if everything looks totally compressed and jumbled together, it didn’t originate that way.

As I’ve mentioned to friends, my best writing seems to occur when I have a fever, and I do realize that my grammar is terrible even at its best. But, that is how I normally talk. Sometimes when the grammar is corrected into “proper English” I feel it loses some of the heart and spirit of the meaning or emotion that I am trying to express. In fact, it seems dry as dead leaves. Plus I feel perhaps keeping it “Mark’s way” or “folksy” makes it easier to remember. I will use a quote from survival expert Mykel Hawke as an example. “Just carry a doggone stinkin’ lighter”. I will remember that quote, but, if it we’re corrected to the “proper Queen’s English”, I probably would not.

Another example would be a book I read “Living Off The Land” by the Australian Army Educational Service. This book was written in 1943 and is composed by articles written by the soldiers themselves. Some sections, especially those dealing with diseases are written by Army doctors and are written with precise sterile English, and are as dull as concrete as they drone on and on about malaria and other diseases. But, then you get to the next chapter written in the language of your everyday bloke from Brisbane and its like camping with Crocodile Dundee. You can easily see yourself with your swag rolled out by a billabong, watching your billy boil as you feast on yabbies’ and other delectable bush tucker. A good feed, I might add. Listening as your mate spin yarns you both know are him taking the Mickey, but, is still fair dinkum just the same, that.

I can remember that. I may not understand a word of it, but, I can remember it nonetheless, where the only thing I remember about malaria is how it got its name. They once thought it was caused by “bad air” from swamps. So bad or mal plus air equals “malaria”.

I reread the newsletter a dozen times keeping in mind my wife Teresa – KQ4JC’s advice: 1. Be careful what you say online, because it can come back to bite you years later” 2. Remember this is going to a wide audience, so be careful what you say. And my sister saying “not everyone gets your sense of humor.” Plus keeping in mind it is for promotion of ALERT, not, Mark’s pet peeves and preferences.

I have never attempted to keep the newsletter “politically correct”, as “political correctness” has an inherently left lean, rather I have aimed at keeping the newsletter “politically neutral”, leaning neither to the right or to the left, which either offends no one or offends everyone equally.

Plus I am keenly aware that the written word and the spoken word can convey very dissimilar messages, meanings and motives, though quoted with absolute accuracy, for the written word doesn’t always carry the emotional or relational context of a statement or exchange.

For instance, recently I heard two guys arguing and calling each other every name in the book. But, they didn’t mean a word of it. They have been insulting each other that way, or “talking trash” to each other every day for 45 years. “Oh they’re just clowning around” as someone said. But, put what they said in written form and you have the basis of a lawsuit or them being tarred and feathered, but, unjustly, for though it would be verbally in context, it would be totally out of context emotionally and relationally also, since they are brothers who just like arguing.

As it is said:

“Guy’s insult each other, but, they don’t mean it.
Ladies complement each other, but, they don’t mean it.”

I also look hoping to spot and omit anything unintentionally “offensive”, as offending people is the last thing in my heart or on my mind.

The problem is that “what is offensive” is constantly changing. What was offensive ten years ago may not be considered particular offensive today, but on the other hand what was totally non-offensive ten years ago is now offensive today. Likewise what is socially acceptable today probably won’t be acceptable five years from now and yet it may be perfectly acceptable again ten years further down the road. I can’t keep track of it, it’s like herding kittens, and I would go even further insane if I tried.

So I just do my best, and then follow the advice given in an old song – “don’t worry, be happy.”

The only other major newsletter consideration would be length, as there are bandwidth issues we sometimes deal with.

Two to three pages are about all we can handle with a single newsletter. Larger articles can be divided and published in two or more newsletters.

So within the framework just given, please don’t be hesitant to consider sending articles to the newsletter.

Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.


Mark’s Almanac

January is named for the Roman god Janus, the god of gates and doors, and so openings and beginnings.

January receives more sunlight than December, but the equilibrium between incoming solar heat and the heat radiated into space by the northern snowfields does not peak until late January and early February, six weeks after winter solstice. So the weather continues to cool, with January 8 – 20 being the coldest part of the year.

Typically in January there is a 53% chance of up to one inch of snow and a 25% chance of over one inch of snow.

With the exception of the southern tip of Nova Scotia, all of Canada and roughly one half of the Continental US, or “CONUS”, are now covered with snow. Canada’s Hudson’s Bay is frozen, as is the ocean water between Baffin Island and Greenland.
Barometric pressure is highest in January.

Though the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ended November 30, every now and then Mother Nature will give us a surprise as there have been 3 tropical storms and 2 Category 1 hurricanes from 1851 to 2016. The two hurricanes were an unnamed hurricane in 1938 in the Eastern Atlantic & Hurricane Alex which in 2016 effected Bermuda and the Azores.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury, magnitude 0, is low in the southeast in early dawn just before sunrise, very far lower left of bright Jupiter. On New Year’s Day he will reach his highest point in the morning sky, or Greatest Western Elongation of 22.7 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky.

Venus is hidden by the glare of the Sun.

Earth will reach her closest distance to the Sun on Jan 3, when the planet will be Earth at Perihelion, 0.98329 Astronomical Units or 91,403,000 miles from the Sun.

Mars, magnitude +1.7, rises in the east-southeast around 3 to 4 AM.

Jupiter, magnitude – 1.8, rises in the east-southeast around 3 to 4 AM.

The gap between Mars, which rises first, and much brighter Jupiter is closing from 6½° on the morning of December 23rd to 3½° on the 30th. They will have a close conjunction, 0.3° apart, on the mornings of January 6th and 7th.

Saturn is hidden behind the glare of the Sun.

Uranus, magnitude 5.7 in Pisces is high in the south-southeast at sunset.

Neptune, magnitude 7.9 in Aquarius is in the south-southwest at sunset.

3572 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of December 21, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

Full Moon will occur Monday January 1, at 8:24 PM CST or 2:24 AM UTC on January 2.

January’s Full Moon is “Wolf Moon” in Native American folklore. This was also called “Wulf-Monath” or “Wolf Month” by the Saxons, because at this full Moon packs of wolves howled in hunger outside of the villages.

It has also been called “Old Moon” and “Moon After Yule”.

This Full Moon will be the first of two Supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth, 221,560 miles, and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

“Supermoon” is not an official astronomical term. It was first coined by an astrologer, Richard Nolle, in 1979. He defined it as “a New or a Full Moon that occurs when the Moon is at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in its orbit”. Why he chose the 90% cut off in his definition no one knows.

The actual technical term for a Supermoon is “perigee-syzygy” of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. In astronomy, the term syzygy refers to the straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies. Another name is perigee Full Moon. They can cause a tide 2 inches higher than normal.

The Quadrantids Meteor Shower will occur Wednesday & Thursday, January 3 & 4. This is an above average shower producing between 40 to 100 meteors per hour radiating from the constellation Bootes, in the area near the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the head of Draco the Dragon.

This shower is a quirky shower in that it has a very narrow particle stream. Therefore, the peak time is only six hours long, and that peak varies each year. The 2017 peak will on the evening of January 3, and is six hours long.

Unfortunately the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch some of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

This shower favors the Northern Hemisphere because its radiant point, or the point where the meteors appear to originated in the sky, is so far north on the sky’s dome.

This shower is believed to be produced by dust grains from burnt out comet 2003 EH1, which may also be the remainder of comet c/1490 Y1, which was lost to history after a prominent meteor shower was observed in 1490, possibly due to the breakup of the comet.

New Moon will occur Tuesday, January 16 at 8:17 PM CST or 2:17 AM UTC on January 17, as the Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky.

This will also be the first of two Micromoons of 2018. A Micromoon, the opposite of a Supermoon, occurs when a Full Moon or a New Moon coincides with apogee; the point in the Moon’s orbit farthest away from Earth, near 252,563 miles distant.

A Micromoon is 14% smaller than a Supermoon, which in turn is 7% larger than an average Full Moon. The illuminated area appears 30% smaller, so it might look a little less bright. In fact it will look a much less bright since this Mircomoon occurs at New Moon meaning you won’t be able to see it anyway.

This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

The next Micromoon will occur during the July’s Full Moon.

That one you will be able to see.

Wednesday January 31 will be unusual as we will have a Full Moon, Blue Moon, Supermoon and for Birmingham, a near maximum partial lunar eclipse in one day.

Full Moon will occur at 7:27 AM CST or 13:27 UTC. Some refer to it as a Blue Moon because it is the second Full Moon in the month, and it will be a Supermoon as it will be at its closest approach to the Earth at miles, 223,080 miles. and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

A partial lunar eclipse will begin at 5:48 AM CST and the moon will begin to turn red. Though western North America, eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean will see a total lunar eclipse, Birmingham will not see the maximum eclipse, which occurs at 7:29 AM, due to the moon setting at 6:43 AM. It will still be a worthwhile effort to look towards the western sky to see an eclipsed moon slip below the Earth’s horizon, as this doesn’t happen every day.

Though I am tempted to say “only once in a Blue Moon”, I won’t.


This month’s meeting will be on January 9 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.

If for some reason you cannot attend the meeting in person, you can still participate via telephone. The teleconference number is 1-877-951-0997 & and the participant code is 741083.

Hope to see you there!

Mark / WD4NYL
ALERT Newsletter

Mark’s Weatherlynx
Weather Resource Database

Hi Everyone,

I hope you made it through Thanksgiving and Black Friday unscathed or only slightly bruised. December will be a busy month for ALERT, as we look forward to Skywarn Recognition Day and the ALERT Christmas Party.

Skywarn Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the ARRL to honor the contributions that Skywarn volunteers make to the NWS mission – the protection of life and property during threatening weather.

During the Skywarn Special Event, hams will operate from ham equipped NWS offices. The object of the event is for all participating Amateur Radio stations to exchange contact information with as many NWS stations as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meters plus 70 centimeters. Contacts via repeaters are permitted.

Starting at 6PM Friday December 1, the ALERT Team will activate K4NWS as part of this special event. Nationally the event runs for 24 hours. As in the past, the length of operations at K4NWS will be at the discretion of our responding operators. Usually they run it for 12 to 18 hours.

Bill Rodgers, K4FSO is coordinating the ALERT response and volunteers are welcome, including “drop in” operators.

We are anticipating having 11 to 15 or so operators participating. This number includes you!

For more information go to:

The ALERT Christmas Party will occur Tuesday December 12th during the regular meeting time.
Preceding the meeting there will be a Board of Directors meeting at 6:30.


On The Lighter Side Of Things

A ham, whose name shall remain secret, called the FCC to tell them he had moved and wanted to change his address on the FCC records from Texas to Vermont.

The man at the FCC who took his call asked where Vermont was.

As my Ham friend tried to explain, he interrupted and said,

“Look, I’m not stupid or anything, just tell me what state is it in?”


Two elderly hams had been friends for many decades.

Over the years they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures on the ham bands.
Lately, their activities have been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me…..I know we’ve been friends for a long time…..but I just can’t think of your name and your call.! I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t remember them.

Please tell me what they are.”

His friend glared at him. For at least three minutes he just stared and glared at the gray haired old man..

Finally he said, “How soon do you need to know?



Ham 1 — Hey I hear Old Megawatt is retiring from Ham Radio
Ham 2 — Yeah I heard him say that before
Ham 1 — I know, but this time the FCC said it!

Q: What’s the hardest part about dating a HAM radio operator?

A: They tend to send mixed signals.

“I know lots of jokes about capacitors, but I’d have to charge for them.
Plus, there’s a high level of resistance to this type of joke, as they are not current.

These puns are so bad it hertz.


Mark’s Almanac

December was the tenth Roman Month, from whence it gets its name. Among many Native American tribes it was called “the moon of clacking rocks”, as it was the time when they prepared and manufactured stone tools, implements and weapons, since the growing season being over, and bad weather prevented them from hunting.

December is the cloudiest month of the year, with only 40 to 60% of possible sunshine poking through the clouds. It is also the stormiest month of the year for the Continental US & the Gulf of Mexico. By “stormy” meaning large-scale storms, not necessarily the tornadic storms that they bring, even though we are still in our Second Tornado Season.

A region of heavy rainfall usually forms from Texas to Northwest Florida to Tennessee and Arkansas. Cold waves bringing rain, snow, ice and occasionally tornadoes, sweep across the region.

December can be cloudy and cold, and, then it can swing into spring like warmth, luring plants to bloom early, only to have the frosts and freezes return and the plants are “nipped in the bud”.

Hurricane season is now “officially” over, however Mother Nature sometimes throws a surprise in to make life interesting.

From 1851 – 2015 there have been 17 Tropical Storms and from 1822 to 2015 there have been 8 Category 1 hurricanes, but, none have ever struck the United States.

Two notable December hurricanes are:

Hurricane Alice of 1954, which is the only known Atlantic hurricane to span two calendar years and one of only two named Atlantic tropical cyclones, along with Tropical Storm Zeta of 2005, to do so.

Alice developed on December 30, 1954 from a trough of low pressure in the central Atlantic Ocean in an area of unusually favorable conditions. The storm moved southwestward and gradually strengthened to reach hurricane status. After passing through the Leeward Islands on January 2, 1955, Alice reached peak winds of 90 mph before encountering cold air and turning to the southeast. It dissipated on January 6 over the southeastern Caribbean Sea.

The last December hurricane to occur was Hurricane Epsilon during the 2005 season, the year in which we ran out of hurricane names. The year also featured Tropical Storm Zeta, the latest forming Tropical Storm which formed on December 30, 2005 and lasted until January 7, 2006.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury, magnitude –0.4, is very low in the southwest in the sunset afterglow. Scan for him with binoculars in the southwest no more than 20 or 30 minutes after sunset.

Venus, magnitude -3.9, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

Mars, magnitude +1.7, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

Jupiter, magnitude – 1.7, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

First up is Mars, the dimmest, accompanied by the star Spica. Then Jupiter rises well to their lower left a little before dawn begins.

Venus is getting extremely low and tough to spot as dawn grows bright. Look for her to rise far lower left of Jupiter. Their separation widens as Venus is sinking away.

Saturn, magnitude +0.5, is very low in the southwest in the afterglow of sunset. As with his neighbor Mercury, scan for him with binoculars in the southwest no more than 20 or 30 minutes after sunset. In the coming days Saturn will move down a little closer to Mercury, passing to his upper right.

Uranus, magnitude 5.7 in Pisces is high in the southeast in the early evenings.

Neptune, magnitude 7.9 in Aquarius is high in the south in the early evenings.

3558 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of November 17, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

Full Moon occurs at 15:47 UTC or 9:47 AM CST on December 3. This will also be a “Supermoon”, the moon being at its closest approach to Earth, and may appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark. This moon has also been known as the Moon Before Yule and the Full Long Nights Moon.

The Geminid Meteor Shower, peaks on December 13-14. Geminids are one of the year’s best meteor showers. It is my favorite meteor shower. It’s a consistent and prolific shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the more widely recognized Perseids of August. This shower typically produces 50 or more multicolored meteors an hour, or about one every minute.

As a general rule, the dazzling Geminid meteor shower starts around mid-evening and tends to pick up steam as evening deepens into late night. No matter where you live worldwide, the greatest number of meteors usually fall in the wee hours after midnight, or for a few hours centered around 2 a.m. local time. If you’re game, you can watch the Geminid shower all the way from mid-evening until dawn.

The waning crescent moon will be no match for the Geminids this year. The skies should still be dark enough for an excellent show.

The Geminids is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th.

Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

New Moon occurs December 18 at 06:30 UTC or 12:30 AM CST when the Moon will on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

One target you could try for is galaxy Messier 31 otherwise known as M31 the Andromeda Galaxy.

In the evening, M31 is visible in the south and can be found by locating the Great Square of Pegasus. This is one of the easier star groupings as it is exactly what it says – a very large four star square with two “tails” coming off one corner.

Starting at the star where the “tail” attaches to the square, which is Alpha Andromedae, or Alpheratz, move up the left “tail” two stars to the star Mirach. Then turn 90 degrees to the right, and move the equivalent of half the distance from Alpheratz to Mirach.

You should easily spot M31, which as with most deep sky objects, will look nothing like the observatory photographs, but rather as a faint rice shaped object with binoculars and possibly it’s brightest satellite galaxies M32 & NCG110. If there is a dark sky, unpolluted sky, you can even see it with your unaided eye.

The photons that will be striking your retina left Andromeda over two million years ago.

Andromeda shares a special place in history and our understanding of the universe. One hundred years ago, galaxies, as we understand them did not exist. There was one galaxy, the Milky Way, and it was the known universe. Other spiral shaped objects, such as M31 and M33, the Pinwheel Nebula were thought to be part of the Milky Way and as one antique book I saw theorized, were solar systems in the process of being formed.

This began to change in 1917 when based on the dimness of a nova observed in Andromeda, as compared to other Milky Way novae, the theory was proposed that Andromeda was actually located outside of the Milky Way. Being an “island universe” as it was called. This sparked major debates until Edwin Hubble, whom the space telescope is named for, determined the true distance of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Andromeda, the Milky Way and The Pinwheel Galaxy are the prime galaxies in a galaxy cluster that has been given the awe inspiring name of “The Local Group” of galaxies, of which there are over 54 members. As knowledge increased it was found that the Local Group is in turn one of over 100 galaxy clusters that make up the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies. The Virgo Supercluster in turn is just one 10 million galaxy superclusters, and is in turn part of even a larger Laniakea Supercluster, which has the Hercules, Shapley, Coma and Perseus-Pisces Superclusters as neighbors, which in turn may be part of even a larger structure not yet identified.

These superclusters of superclusters stretch across the cosmos in streams like wisps of smoke, with vast voids in between, giving the Universe a structure like a tangled spider’s web, or bath bubbles, with the bubbles surface being made up of countless galaxies.

Andromeda and the Milky Way are a binary system orbiting around a common barycenter, or center of gravity or mass in between. Andromeda is also moving towards the Milky Way at 68 miles per second and in 4.6 billion years will collide with the Milky Way, their combined tidal forces destroying Andromeda’s spiral shape and the Milky Way’s barred spiral shape and combining to form a giant elliptical or disk shaped galaxy.

Studies also suggest that M33, the Pinwheel Galaxy — the third-largest and third-brightest galaxy of the Local Group — will participate in the collision event too. Its most likely fate is to end up orbiting the merged stars and nebulae of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies and finally to merge with it in an even more distant future.

However, a collision with the Milky Way, before it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy or an ejection from the Local Group due to gravitational quirks cannot be ruled out.

Such collisions are relatively common, considering galaxies’ long lifespans. Andromeda, for example, is believed to have collided with at least one other galaxy in the past, and several dwarf galaxies such as the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way are currently colliding with the Milky Way and being merged into it.

In such collisions interacting gravitational fields effect paths and orbits, generally the stars don’t actually collide, due to the wide distances between stars. They just pass through each other’s neighborhood. For example, the Sun probably was part of an open star cluster that is now drifted apart; it is now a rogue star currently passing through the fringe of the remnants of another open star cluster Collinder 285 or the Ursa Major Moving Group or Association, of which the majority of the stars of Ursa Major are a part. But, the distances are so great; there are no interactions between the occupants and the “visitor”.

Be that as it may, I don’t plan on hanging around for the Andromeda collision. By the time it starts, call me Felicia, but, I’m out of here.

Winter Solstice will be December 21 at 16:28 UTC or 10:28 AM CST. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Ursid meteor shower, a minor meteor shower, which runs annually from December 17-25 will peak on the night and morning of December 21 – 22 producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.

The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for optimal observing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, The Little Dipper, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Looking towards the sky, the stars of Winter have begun drifting into the night sky. Low in the southern sky is the bright star Fomalhaut.

Whenever Fomalhaut is “southing” (crossing the meridian due south, which it does around 7 p.m. now depending on your location), the first stars of Orion are just about to rise in the east, and the Pointers of the Big Dipper stand vertical straight below Polaris, towards The North Star.

Orion is also valuable as a rough navigation aid as the two left stars forming the elongated square forming Orion always lie on a general north / south line, and the bottom two stars of the square lie on a rough east / west line. Also, the lead star or right star in Orion’s belt, always ALWAYS rises due east and sets due west, no matter where you are on earth.



Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

Christmastime is a time of wonder & mystery. A time of bright lights, shining trees and the time of hide and seek, as presents are hid from inquiring minds and fingers.

A time one’s mind and memories drift back to days of childhood, and Christmases now long gone by. Remembering friends and family, some here, some now gone & longing that they were near once again, as it was once upon a time not so long ago. And, it is a time when, if we allow ourselves and don’t choose to “Grinch out” and be sour pusses, we can become kids once again.

Most importantly though, it’s a time to remember that the true “reason for the season” occurred in a manger, long ago on that first cold and chilly “Silent Night.”

So as you go about your Christmas preparations remember the magic that was there when you were a child & don’t let that magic die. Make it magic once again

For Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year”.


Remember that this is YOUR newsletter. Articles for this newsletter are welcome and needed. Please consider sending an article, preferably amateur radio, meteorological or EMCOMM related.


This month’s meeting will feature the ALERT Christmas Party on December 12 at 1PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.

Hope to see you there!
Mark / WD4NYL
ALERT Newsletter

Mark’s Weatherlynx
Weather Resource Database

ALERT / National Weather Service Birmingham Coverage Area

  • ALERT covers the BMX county warning area. Presently, this includes: Autauga, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Marion, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston
  • Follow us on Twitter

    Find us on Google+

    ALERT Zello Channel