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Franklin County Amateur
Radio Club

Current club news is on this page. For older items see the News Archive.

The Activities page is our detailed calendar of events, updated 5/20/2015. There is also a summary calendar (PDF file). What's new here? See the Website Change Notes

August VE Session: One Upgrade, Five New Amateurs
posted 8/25/2015

Six candidates came to the FCARC's August VE session in Northfield yesterday. One upgraded from Technician to General, one passed both the Technician and General tests to earn a new General license, and the other four earned new Technician licenses.

Normally we would expect to be able to announce new callsigns in about a week, but a bulletin from the ARRL received today states that the FCC website is going to be shut down for maintenance starting at the end of the workday on Wednesday September 2nd and continuing until after Labor Day. The ARRL VEC normally processes applications and sends them on to the FCC very quickly.

Amy AB1WH, Belle KB1NOG, Ron K8HSF, and Al N1AW participated as Volunteer Examiners for this session.


Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee (D2R2) - Details (Updated)
updated 8/19/2015

The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee (D2R2) on Saturday August 22rd is a fund-raising bicycle tour event supporting the Franklin Land Trust. The event starts in Old Deerfield. More than 1200 cyclists will ride routes of 20 to 112 miles length from Deerfield in Franklin County to as far as Brattleboro and Marlboro Vermont. Click here to see the FLT-D2R2 website.

Three years ago the FCARC was asked if we could help FLT with communications. There is no cell phone coverage on many parts of the routes and an expensive trial of a satellite phone service in 2012 was unsatisfactory. This is truly a case of "When All Else Fails - Ham Radio." Our repeater on Frizzell Hill in Leyden is uniquely positioned to cover most of the route. We will provide communications between event headquarters in Deerfield and several important points along the way, including the site at the Guilford VT covered bridge where more than 1000 participants will be served lunch and where EMT services will be based and another site in Charlemont where lunch will be provided for a smaller contingent of riders following a 95 mile route.

This an all-day event. Riders on the longest routes will be offered breakfast in Deerfield as early as 5 a.m. and will start riding from Deerfield at 6 a.m. Shorter rides will start from Deerfield later, and family groups will start a 20 mile loop near the Greenfield Covered Bridge from 9:30 until noon. Radio volunteers are needed for different time slots - we will be on the air from event headquarters starting around 6 a.m.; other sites will have radio needs at various starting times from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., for durations of three to six hours. We plan to have extra volunteers for relief or unexpected needs. There will be breakfast at Deerfield for early shifts, and all volunteers are invited to return to Deerfield in the afternoon for dinner, served from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. (Riders will be returning from mid afternoon until 7 p.m. or later.) Dinner includes a glass of beer (donated by Berkshire Brewing Company). Riders and volunteers also receive souvenir beer glasses.

To find out when and where we need volunteers and to sign up call Al Woodhull N1AW, at 413-773-3522 or e-mail him at n1aw@arrl.net.

Maps of the D2R2 bike routes with markers for the sites where we would like to station radio operators are available on the website. The map posted earlier was based on information from the 2014 run of this event. There have been some changes; click here for an updated version of the D2R2 map. An 11" x 17" poster-size version of last year's map (requires four sheets of paper to print) is also available, click here. Note that this version does not show changes for 2015.


August Breakfast, E-Board, D2R2, License Exams
posted 8/11/2015
  • The Club Breakfast takes place on Saturday August 15, as always at 8 a.m., Denny's Pantry.
  • The E-Board meets at 7 p.m. Monday August 17 in the Hammond Lounge, East Building of Greenfield Community College (thanks to Jeanne KC1DCQ).
  • The D2R2 Bike Tour event takes place Saturday August 22nd. See the next article for details.
  • There will be an Amateur Radio License exam session at the Unitarian Church in Northfield on Monday August 24. More info here!.

Directions and links to maps for regular Breakfast, Meeting, and License Exam sites can be found on the directions page.


FCARC on Facebook
posted 8/10/2015

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club now has a Facebook Page!

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.


July/August 2015 Communicator
posted 7/17/2015

In your e-mailbox now: the July/August 2015 FCARC Communicator. If you get it via US Mail look for it soon. You can download it from the website at www.fcarc.org/communicator/comm201507.pdf.

Many thanks to Jeanne, KC1DCQ, for taking on the jobs of editor and publisher!


Public Service: Greenfield Triathlon, Bridge of Flowers 10K, D2R2
posted 7/13/2015

August is our big month for public service events.

  • The Greenfield Triathlon takes place Sunday August 2nd. The event will be back on its traditional route this year, now that the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge has been repaired. Meet at Greenfield Swimming Pool on Nash's Mill Rd at 7 a.m.

    Our support is very important for this event. A signup list will be available at the July 18th breakfast at Denny's or contact Richard Stewart by e-mail, stwricha@aol.com, or phone him at 413-863-2657 to volunteer. Event info is at: http://www.greenfield-triathlon.com.

  • The Bridge of Flowers 10K Road Race is next, on Saturday August 8th. We need volunteer radio operators to provide communications around the course to help insure runner safety. Chris Myers, KB1NEK, will coordinate the club’s effort. A net control station will be set up at 6:30 AM, on Bridge St, across the street from the Greenfield Savings Bank. Volunteer radio operators should arrive at 7, in order to find parking space nearby.

    The short race begins at 8:15, and the 10K race at 9 AM. More information about the race, including a color map, can be found at its web site: http://www.shelburnefalls.com/10k-road-race/

    A signup list will be available at the July 18th breakfast at Denny's. Or call Chris at 625-0344 or send an e-mail message to camyers_1@verizon.net.

  • ... and later in the month we'll help with the Franklin Land Trust's Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee, a bicycle tour event on August 22nd. More info will appear here soon.


Preliminary Field Day Results
posted 6/29/2015

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!
posted 6/20/2015

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 consider changes.


Dick Peeters AA1XU, SK
posted 6/13/2015

Richard G. Peeters AA1XU, of Greenfield passed away on Monday June 8, following a period of declining health. An obituary appeared in the Greenfield Recorder on June 12th, and may be seen online here. He was 72.

Dick and his wife Jan AB1JY frequently attended FCARC breakfasts, and Dick was a frequent volunteer at the club's public service events such as the Bridge of Flowers Road Race. He was also active with amateur radio groups based in Vermont, notably the Green Mountain Net.

A celebration of Dick's life will be observed on Tuesday June 16 at 11 a.m. at the McCarthy Funeral Homes, 36 Bank Row, Greenfield. Rev Phillip Grant, N1YPS, will officiate.


Moving FCARC Storage After 6/13 Breakfast
posted 6/11/2015

We are looking for a few volunteers to help with moving club equipment and material from our current storage space to a new space. If you can can help for a few hours after the breakfast at Denny's Saturday, please consider helping.

For some time FCARC has been sharing a storage locker at Casey storage with the local MRC-CERT organization. We contributed our labor in rebuilding shelving there a while ago, and when the cost became excessive for the CERT group we contributed.

Recently Homeland Security and the Western MA MRC Advisory Group purchased a refurbished storage unit for MRC-CERT use. It is housed at the Sheriff's office next to the Franklin County Jail. We have been invited to continue to use a part of this storage space.

The CERT group intends to move most of their material on Field Day weekend, which is a conflict for us. But we will be taking quite a few items out for Field Day anyway, and we can return them to the new space after Field Day. On Saturday we want to move some of the material that we won't be using on Field Day.

Almost everything can be moved in cars, but the shelf on which our equipment is stored is too large to move by car without being disassembled. If someone can help with a truck that would be appreciated. Please contact Chris KB1NEK or Al N1AW if you can help.


June: Field Day Month
posted 6/6/2015

ARRL Field Day, always the fourth full weekend in June, is a major event for our club. As we have done for many years we will operate two HF stations, using CW and SSB, at the Poets Seat Tower in Greenfield's Rocky Mountain Park. Setup begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday June 27th. After lunch (free to all) the on-the air phase begins at 2 p.m. and lasts 24 hours.

Everyone is welcome at Field Day, club member or not. In addition to the HF operating positions we will also have a VHF station and a "Get-On-the-Air" (GOTA) station where new hams or unlicensed members of the public can get a taste of amateur radio operation.

Field Day is officially not a contest, it is an "emergency preparedness exercise". But we like to see how well we do. A compilation of our scores in past years can be seen on the FCARC Field Day history web page.

We will also have our usual monthly events in June:

  • Breakfast at Denny's, Saturday June 13, 8 a.m.;
  • Meeting at GCC, Monday June 15, 7:15 p.m.; Annual election of officers; Field Day planning. E-board meets at 6 p.m.

For more information on Field Day see the June Communicator and the ARRL Field Day web pages. For directions to Denny's, GCC, and our Field Day site see the directions page on this website.


FCARC Annual Election of Officers
posted 6/6/2015

Six officers of the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club serve for two year terms. In even numbered years the President, Secretary, and one Director are selected; in odd numbered years the Vice-President, Treasurer, and another Director are selected.

In 2015 the incumbents for all offices up for election have consented to be renominated:

  • Vice-President: Ron Niswander K8HSF;
  • Treasurer: Howard Field N1LUP;
  • Director: Belle Dyer KB1NOG

Additional nominations may be made and accepted at the Annual Meeting provided the nominee is present and consents to the nomination.

Current officers are listed on the Club Officers page of the website. The By-Laws of the Club are also available as a PDF file on the website: click here.


Results: May VE Session
posted 5/28/2015

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
posted 4/2/2015

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.


Rebecca Campbell, SK
posted 4/2/2015

Rebecca Campbell was not a radio amateur herself but she was an honorary member of the FCARC and a frequent participant at our monthly Saturday breakfasts. Beckie passed away on March 18th after a brief illness. Her obituary was published in the Greenfield Recorder on March 25. Her husband Bill passed away quite a few years ago. He was a much respected member of the club, and it was evident that Becky continued to enjoy friendships with many members.


February VE Results
posted 3/9/2015

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

License upgrades:

  • Anne KC1CRS to Extra
  • Aaron KC1CXX to General
  • David KC1DDQ to General


Congrats to Jeanne, KC1DCQ
posted 1/22/2015

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
posted 1/22/2015

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
Updated 12/7/2014

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
posted 11/23/2014

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.
posted 11/18/2014

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
posted 11/14/2014

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: ./Files/AntennaTalk141116.ppt. It's a big PowerPoint file, if you just want some basic notes and links to websites mentioned there is a summary here.


License Class, a Mini-Contest, and Meetings Nearby...
updated 11/17/2014

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 massRADIO website. 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: http://www.hcra.org and http://mtara.org.

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
updated 10/23/2014

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: http://www.massradiogroup.com/.

A list of links to other websites of interest has been posted in our Files area as a PDF file, ContestingLinks.pdf, or if you prefer, an MS-Word file, ContestingLinks.doc.


Leyden Repeater Receiving Problem Resolved!
updated 9/11/2014

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.

Update: 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
posted 8/19/2014

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
posted 8/11/2014

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 http://onlyagame.wbur.org/2014/08/09/wrtc-radiosport-ham-radio.

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
posted 7/27/2014

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 club officer before the next E-Board meeting, August 18.


440 Repeater Down
posted 7/23/2014

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
posted 7/15/2014

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: http://www.hcra.org/2014/07/14/wrtc-2014-results-and-hcrawrtc-trivia/.

For the WRTC big picture see http://www.wrtc2014.org/, and for preliminary results (subject to log checking) see http://sb.wrtc2014.org/.


Field Day Success
updated 7/6/2014

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
posted 7/4/2014

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
posted 03/28/2011
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.)


Older news items may now be found on the FCARC News Archive page.


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