February 2016 Communicator
The February 2016 FCARC Communicator should be in your
e-mailbox now, or you can download it from
If you get it by US Mail it's coming soon.
VE Exams in February, HCRA License Class & Study Group in April
The FCARC Volunteer Examiner Team will conduct Amateur Radio License Exams at 7 p.m. Monday February 22 at the Northfield Unitarian Church. More info is available on the
VE License Exams page
on this website.
The Hampden County Radio Association will sponsor a Technician License Class and General License Study Group at Holyoke Hospital in April. This will be an accelerated series of sessions. Classes and study sessions will take place on the evenings of Wednesday April 27th and Thursday April 28th, and in the morning of Saturday April 30th, followed by license examinations on that Saturday afternoon.
More information and signup form at
Repeater Info Online
The Repeaters PowerPoint and the Public Repeater Codes documents presented at the January meeting have been posted on the website:
The links also have been added to the
Breakfast January 16th, Sign Up for Winter Carnival on February 6th
Our January breakfast takes place on Saturday the 16th, 8 a.m. at Denny's
There will be a signup list for volunteers for our communications support of the
Greenfield Winter Carnival Sleighbell 10K Road Race, coming the first Saturday in February.
If you can't make it to the breakfast contact Rich Stewart KB1NOX to sign up: phone 413-863-2657,
Thomas Foxwell N1OTS, SK
News was received on December 7th that Tom Foxwell N1OTS passed away. Tom was a former President of the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club, and was especially active in emergency preparedness. His death was unexpected.
Update: An obituary was published in The Recorder Tuesday 12/15. The memorial service will be at Kidder Funeral Home in Northfield on Saturday 12/19, viewing starting at 10 a.m. and service at 12 p.m..
Ham Radio Volunteers for Boston Marathon 2016
The Boston Athletic Association Radio Communications Committee has put out a call for volunteers to assist with communications with the April 18, 2016 Boston Marathon.
Click here for full info.
VE Session Results
All candidates who appeared for the November 23rd license exam session in Northfield were successful. Peter Landry of Lunenberg, recently licensed as KC1EPV, passed the Extra test; Adam Holloway of Warwick, KC1EJI, licensed here in August, advanced to General; Ellen Anderson of Petersham and Andrew Marquis of Shutesbury will be new Technicians.
Update: because of the Thanksgiving holiday it took longer than usual for the FCC to act. Now we know that Ellen is KC1ETL and Andrew is KC1ETM. Peter asked for a new callsign with his upgrade to Extra and he is now AB1YM.
VEs were Chris KB1NEK, Belle KB1NOG, Ron K8HSF, and Al N1AW. Our pool of Volunteer Examinars is rather small. It's easy to qualify. Contact Al if you are interested.
FCARC Shirts and Hats
We are preparing to order FCARC shirts and hats. Anne KC1CRS has researched the prices and is coordinating the ordering. If you are on our e-mailing list you
will receive an e-mail notice with an order form, or you can
download an order form here (PDF file).
Please print it out, choose type, quantity, and size, and return by mail with a check made out to Franklin County Amateur Radio Club for your total amount, using the address on the form. Please do this by December 1st, we want to place the order then in time for the shirts to be available before Christmas.
Jim Bronson K2YSR, SK
Jim Bronson K2YSR passed away on September 3rd in Kingsport TN. He and his wife Lois KB1CWD were very active in our club when they lived in Buckland. Jim was a Volunteer Examiner and an avid CW man. They left this area to move to Kingsport about 15 years ago.
An obituary can be seen here:
The sad news was passed on by Ralph WA1UOL, who had a call from Lois.
August VE Session: One Upgrade, Five New Amateurs
Six candidates came to the FCARC's August VE session in Northfield.
Carolyn KB1DBV upgraded from Technician to General, Joshua KC1EJJ earned a new General license, and David KC1EJH, Adam KC1EJI, Scott KC1EJK, and Alec KC1EJL all are now new Technician licensees. Please welcome them if you hear them on the air.
The FCC website was shut down for maintenance during the first week of September, and there was a longer than usual delay before upgrades and new callsigns were posted, which is why this web report is so long delayed.
Amy AB1WH, Belle KB1NOG, Ron K8HSF, and Al N1AW participated as Volunteer Examiners for this session.
FCARC on Facebook
The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club now has a
N1AW says: I suggested this to the club a few times without getting an enthusiastic response. But Facebook is a good medium for many people who are used to being connected electronically at all times. The website and the Communicator will remain the main channels for club information. It is easy to communicate on Facebook. And any member who has information to share can post.
Other ham clubs in our area, HCRA and MTARA, have both found it useful.
Thanks to Chet, N1XPT, who took the initiative to get the Facebook page started.
Preliminary Field Day Results
Operating as AC1L, the FCARC's 2015 Field Day operation had ten operators keeping the HF SSB station on the air, four operators working the HF CW station, and four operating on 6 meters. Additionally, one newly licensed ham and two unlicensed guests made contacts on the KB1MSU Get-On-The-Air station.
Our QSO total was slightly lower than last year: 689 CW contacts and 271 voice
contacts, for a total of 3298 QSO points. Last year we scored 3740 bonus points.
Bonus points are still to be counted.
To compare with scores from past years look at the
FCARC Field Day history web page.
Greenfield 70 cm Repeater Is Up!
The Greenfield 448.875 MHz repeater located on Greenfield's Rocky Mountain,
is back in service.
The club decided last winter to take advantage of a promotional offer by Yaesu
and purchased a brand new Yaesu DR-1X repeater. It finally arrived last week, and was shown to club members at the June 15th club meeting. On Friday June 19th KB1NEK and N1AW put it on the air.
Yaesu's promotion is aimed at getting their C4FM digital mode better known to radio amateurs. This mode can support various kinds of digital data transfer as well as standard FM audio. This mode is not compatible with Icom's D-Star digital mode. Unfortunately both of these modes are proprietary, which is contrary to the tradition of amateur radio, indeed contrary to a stated purpose of amateur radio to contribute to the state of the art. Unfortunately
open-source or non-proprietary methods are not available at present.
The new repeater operates on the same frequency pair as our old one, 448.875 MHz output and 443.875 MHz input, with a PL tone of 136.5. It is configured to
accept both standard analog FM as well as digital voice input signals, but the output at present uses only standard analog FM voice output. The simple built-in controller provides CW ID as KB1BSS/R.
The new repeater is capable of three levels of power output, 5, 20, or 50 watts.
Other groups have reported that the 50 watt level causes problems with overheating in an unmodified repeater if the duty cycle is too high. In the interest of caution we have initially configured for 5 watts transmitter
output, so the useful operating range will be less than what was generally available with the old repeater. We expect to boost power to the 20 watt level when we are sure that operation is reliable, and we are looking at ways to
sense temperature and allow higher power operation when and if needed - but this will require modifications which we do not want to make until we are sure there are no problems covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
We want feedback. Please e-mail Al N1AW or Chris KB1NEK with reports of your experiences. We want to know about any problems you observe, as well as general observations about range and signal quality. The more we know the sooner we will
Results: May VE Session
At the May VE session two candidates upgraded their license class.
Roy K1LKY upgraded to Extra and Brad KC1DQX upgraded to General.
The FCARC VE team conducts license exam sessions in Northfield MA on the 4th Monday of February, May, August, and November. More information is available on the
Amateur Radio License Exams page
on this website.
Wanted: FCARC Communicator Editor
Bob Solosko W1SRB will be away for several weeks in April and May, and we are looking for a volunteer to edit the May issue of the newsletter. We are also looking for someone to take it over on a longer-term basis. Please contact Bob or any other club officer if you are willing to help.
February VE Results
New callsigns from the February 23rd VE session. Greet them if you hear them on the air.
KC1DIA - Adam
KC1DIB - John
KC1DID - Richard
KC1DIE - Edileuza
Anne KC1CRS to Extra
Aaron KC1CXX to General
David KC1DDQ to General
Congrats to Jeanne, KC1DCQ
Jeanne Dodge took her Tech exam from our VE team during our postponed E-board meeting last Saturday. Despite the holiday on Monday her new call has come through already. Look for KC1DCQ on the air soon.
Boston Marathon Needs Ham Volunteers
From AB1RL (VIA Reddit.Com/r/amateurradio and Hampden County RA website)
For years, the Boston Marathon has relied on a big group of ham volunteers to provide communications support for the race. For 2015, they've even put together a Communications Committee to review event plans and make sure we're as useful as possible to the race. I'm one of seven hams on that committee.
We need almost 300 volunteers to keep all the communications running smoothly. If you can make it, I hope you'll sign up to join us. I've worked at the Marathon for a few years now. You really get put to work, and the energy of the race and the community around it makes it really rewarding.
Race day is April 20, and there are assignments available all along the course. The Boston Athletic Association has
more information about volunteering on their site.
That's also where you
sign up to volunteer.
The registration deadline is February 10, so don't put it off. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message.
Thanks, and I hope I'll hear you there!
November 24th VE Session
This was a very busy VE session, we administered 16 tests. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday it took longer than usual for the FCC to update the database. Results are now available:
Scott Phelps is a new Extra: AB1WU
Jessica Bower is a new General: KC1CXZ
Scott Wichowsky is a new General: KC1CXY
Aaron Addison is a new Technician: KC1CXX
Andrew Bower is a new Technician: KC1CXW
Also at the November session, Russ Pasternak N1TOC (new Tech in August) upgraded to General.
If you hear any of these folks on the air or meet them anywhere say hello and offer to help them as they learn all the things about amateur radio that they didn't have to know to pass a test.
An unrelated FCC action: Al N1AW is now the trustee of the FCARC club license KB1BSS.
A New Amateur in the Family: Update
Another member of the family of Keith KU1N and grandson Keith KC1BZB has been licensed. Say hello to Anne, KC1CRS, when you hear her on the air.
Update: Congratulations are due: less than a month after passing her Technician license test Anne upgraded to General at a VE session in Holyoke on November 22.
FCARC Holiday Party: GHS Cafeteria, Wednesday December 17, 6:00 p.m.
It is a club tradition to have a Holiday Potluck Party instead
of a regular meeting in December. We will continue that tradition (and say goodby to the soon-to-be-demolished old GHS cafeteria) this year.
However, because of a new
GHS policy of not allowing use of the cafeteria on nights with basketball games,
the party will be on Wednesday evening, December 17th rather than Monday of that
week as originally planned.
This will be a true potluck - bring what you like, a few people may be asked to make sure that important dishes are provided.
November Program: Antenna Experiments and Explanations
Our next meeting is Monday November 17 at 7:15 p.m. in Room S301 (Engineering Lab) of GCC. E-Board meets earlier, at 6 p.m.
The program will be a presentation by Al, N1AW: "Antenna Experiments and Explanations".
Update: The complete Power Point presentation is online in the Files directory on this website:
It's a big PowerPoint file, if you just want some basic notes and links to websites mentioned there is a summary
License Class, a Mini-Contest, and Meetings Nearby...
Don't forget the
November 9th FM Sprint
that our guest speaker told us about in October.
Update 11/17: FM Sprint results have been posted on the
Also coming up to our south, license classes and study groups in Holyoke the week before Thanksgiving. Scroll down for information about both events previously posted here.
Other clubs in our area have regular monthly meetings. The Hampden County Radio Association meets on the first Friday of each month, and the Mt Tom Amateur Repeater Association meets on the third Friday. Check their websites for info on activities:
There are other clubs nearby in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. See the
Links to Other Ham Clubs
page on our website.
Contesting for Everyone & a Contest for Everyone
The October 20th meeting topic was "Contesting for Everyone", presented by ARRL Contest Branch Manager Matt Wilhelm W1MSW.
Matt closed his presentation with a plug for a short, local, low-key contest coming up soon, open to amateurs with any license class except Novice: the MassRADIO 2M FM Challenge. The event will take place on Sunday, November 9th, from 7 to 8 p.m. EST, and the object is to make as many two-way QSOs (contacts) with as many different hams as possible in as many different towns as possible in the 1-hour time period, using simplex frequencies on the 2 meter band (that is, not using repeaters).
For more information on the MassRADIO 2M FM Challenge see this website:
A list of links to other websites of interest has been posted in our Files area as a PDF file,
or if you prefer, an MS-Word file,
Leyden Repeater Receiving Problem
Sometime around last weekend something happened to our KB1BSS 146.985 MHz
repeater that caused a drastic decrease of receiver sensitivity. Exceptionally strong signals are repeated, but weaker ones are not. For instance, N1AW who lives less than a mile from the repeater can normally access it with a 200 mW handheld radio but now needs to use a mobile with a proper antenna to hit it from home.
The problem has now been solved. We have a spare repeater, and swapped the
receiver and transmitter sections. Receiving problems are gone. Some users say our power output may also be a little higher. We can now work on diagnosing
the spare components for when they are again needed. We thank Josh Smith,
engineer for WPVQ-FM, for his help.
2014-15 Calendar, E-board Changes
A preliminary version of the detailed 2014-2015 club year calendar has been posted
(click here). A one-page
graphic summary of the calendar
is also available (PDF file).
At the August 18 meeting of the e-Board, Bruce Fuller KB1TLX was appointed a
Director to complete the term of Ron Niswander K8HSF who will become vice president on September 1. Bob Dickerman WA1QKT was appointed FCARC Clerk. A
directory of officers and appointees for 2014-2015
is now online.
WRTC on NPR "Only A Game" - Available On-Line
Local broadcast of the NPR "Only A Game" program on WFCR comes on Saturdays from 7 to 8 a.m. Last week near the end of the program there was a 9 minute segment about WRTC, the World Radiosport Team Competition, the "Olympics of Amateur Radio." At that very time many FCARC members were busy getting ready for the Bridge of Flowers 10K in Shelburne Falls. If you missed it you can still catch it on line at
You can listen to the audio, download it as an MP3 file, or read the transcript. This has got to be one of the best programs about amateur radio ever presented on national media.
Ron K8HSF Appointed Vice-President, Director Position To Be Filled
The election of Al N1AW as club President for the club year starting September
1st leaves his unexpired term as Vice-President open. Our By-laws call for the
E-Board to fill open positions. At their meeting on July 21st, the E-Board
appointed Ron K8HSF to fill that position as of Sept 1. Ron was elected last year as a
Director, so one of two Director positions will be open then. Anyone with a suggestion
should contact a
before the next E-Board meeting, August 18.
440 Repeater Down
The tower supporting the antennas for the KB1BSS 448.875 MHz repeater near Poet's Seat in Greenfield was damaged early today, and by midday was on the ground. So
our UHF repeater is off the air, we hope not for too long. This was not our fault, and nobody was injured. We expect everything will be replaced, probably at no cost to us, as the Town of Greenfield had their own antennas on this tower and will want it usable as soon as possible. Meanwhile we hope to get our repeater on the air with a lower temporary antenna soon.
Expect a full story in the September FCARC Communicator.
World Radiosport Team Competition
The WRTC took place as part of the IARU-HF contest Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13.
The webmaster is aware that FCARC members Bob WA1QKT, Bruce KB1TLX, and Al N1AW participated in the setup of several WRTC operating sites near I-495 in eastern Massachusetts.
If you would like to know how some of the operating sites installed and supported by hams from western Massachusetts fared see the article posted on the Hamden County Radio Association site:
For the WRTC big picture see
and for preliminary results (subject to log checking) see
Field Day Success
Our Field Day score as submitted was 4510 points, the highest since we began posting a
Field Day History
web page showing results back to 2006.
Triple or double digit QSO totals were racked up by:
Al Mason WG1H, 633, CW
Chris Dickerman K1SMY, 184, SSB
Al Woodhull N1AW, 136, CW and SSB
Belle Dyer KB1NOG, 32, SSB
Keith Rowley KU1N, 29, CW and SSB (on GOTA station!)
Kevin Tracy KC5KKS, 25, SSB
Bob Solosko W1SRB, 14, SSB
Disclaimer: these results may reflect tolerance for sleep deprivation as much as operating skill, and ten operators competed for use of the SSB station.
More details will be posted when we have time to do more analysis.
Club Officers 2014-15
Results of the annual election held at the June 16 meeting: Al Woodhull N1AW was elected President, Chris Myers KB1NEK was elected Secretary, and Belle Dyer KB1NOG was re-elected as a Director. The two year terms begin September 1st. Al's election as President will leave the office of Vice President open; the E-Board will select a replacement to fill that office for one year until September 1 2015.
Contest Operator Haiku
I'm hearing voices
They're all so soft and distant
but logged as five nine.
-- Scott Andersen, NE1RD
(We don't normally steal items from the newsletter for the web page, but
this one was irrestible.)