QCARC Calendar

December 2017
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January 2018
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Local APRS

QC Weather

Snow Showers
Friday 12/15/2017 70%
Snow Showers
Snow showers possible. Lows overnight in the low 20s.
Snow Showers
Saturday 12/16/2017 50%
Snow Showers
Variably cloudy with snow showers. High 34F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.
Chance of Rain
Sunday 12/17/2017 40%
Chance of Rain
Mostly cloudy in the morning then periods of showers later in the day. High 39F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.
Quad-County Weather Page

Latest News

NOTA Special Event

Here is another On The Air Special Event that you can get your HF as well as 2 meter and 70 cm rigs warmed up for. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is beginning their year long NASA On The Air Special Event beginning December 11, 2017 and will ...

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SKYWARN RECOGNITION DAY OPERATING EVENT

SKYWARN RECOGNITION DAY OPERATING EVENT

This year the official date for the SkyWarn™ Recognition Day event is December 2. The event will be in operation from 0000 UTC – 2400 UTC, December 2, 2017. This is a rather simple event, the purpose is to contact as many National Weather Service stations as possible on 80 ...

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2018 Dues Are Due!

2018 Dues Are Due!

The 2018 membership dues for the Quad County Amateur Radio Club are due. Please note the updated dues structure.   A  .pdf can be downloaded using the following link: 2018 QCARC Membership Application Please make checks payable to: Quad County Amateur Radio Club. You can print the completed application, mail it to Quad County ...

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National Weather Service Hazard Simplification Initiative

The National Weather Service is simplifying their hazardous weather products list. Please click on the below link for what they are doing for winter effective October 1, 2017. Looks like they are narrowing down to three categories. http://www.weather.gov/media/iln/HazSimp.pdf

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Autumn SkyWarn Newsletter Available

Autumn SkyWarn Newsletter Available

The 2017 Autumn SkyWarn newsletter is available on-line at: https://www.weather.gov/media/ctp/Spotter%20Newsletters/Autumn2017.pdf    

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Amateur Radio License Exam Session

Amateur Radio License Exam Session

EXAM SESSION 09/29/2017 ALL CLASSES OF LICENSE EXAMS WILL BE OFFERED. Sponsor: Quad County ARC Date: Sep 29 2017 Time: 6:00 PM (Walk-ins allowed) Contact: Joe Shupienis (814) 371-3235 Email: w3bc@arrl.net VEC: ARRL/VEC Location: Penn State Dubois Smeal Building Du Bois, PA  15801

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2017 Jamboree On The Air

2017 Jamboree On The Air

This year the QCARC will activating a station from the Hallstrom Building located at the Camp Mountain Run Scout Camp. The station, N3QC, will be operating on HF bands, considering propagation characteristics to a given part of the World that we intend to communicate with. VHF & UHF frequencies may be activated ...

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W3CDG-11 Balloon Launch In The Air From Pittsburgh

The W3CDG-11 balloon launch is in the air. To watch the progress go to: aprs.fi for the current info. Launch was from the Pgh. Zoo.     The Balloon has landed in the Brackenridge. PA area. Congratulations to those affiliated with the successful flight!

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High Altitude Balloons Pass Nearby

High Altitude Balloons Pass Nearby

          Two high altitude balloons with APRS telemetry reporting transmitters passed just west of DuBois on September 13. These balloons were reporting altitudes of just over 45,000' and temperatures around 12 degrees F. I happened to capture a screen shot one of the balloons as it was posted online, via the WA3UFN-1, ...

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Hurricane Irma The Latest Severe Weather Threat

Hurricane Irma The Latest Severe Weather Threat

  Even though the hurricanes are well south of Pennsylvania, amateurs in our area may still be able to help pass health and welfare traffic. The hurricane watch net should be active as you read this. The net will be active on 14.325 MHz, then switch to 7.268 as conditions change. Check ...

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Baker Trail Ultra-Marathon — Good Test Of Preparedness

Baker Trail Ultra-Marathon -- Good Test Of Preparedness

  Area amateurs recently had an opportunity to actually test preparedness at the Baker Trail Ultra-Marathon where amateurs provided communications along a 50 mile trail where cellular communication was mostly unavailable. This was the real deal in testing the functionality of equipment and abilities of the operators to set up effective ...

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Amateur Radio Parity Act Moves Into The Senate

Amateur Radio Parity Act Moves Into The Senate

  This important piece of legislation that may very well have an effect on more amateur radio operators than what you may first  expect, has moved into the Senate. The legislation has a history of bi-partisan support but we still need to keep aware of what is occurring with the bill ...

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SKYWARN TRAINING – WORTH YOUR TIME

SKYWARN TRAINING - WORTH YOUR TIME

Sometimes things do not all ways as they appear. SkyWarn training may conjure up ideas of intense detailed training for the likes of those who are meteorologists.  No so! This training is for the everyday person on the street, so to say. The training gives the everyday person the background to ...

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Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Scheduled

Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Scheduled

The SkyWarn presentation has been rescheduled for July 19, 2017. This training is open to amateur radio operators as well as the general public. It is not required but if amateur radio operators could, also email me if  you anticipate attending at: “bryan at wa3ufn dot com”. Since I initiated the planning ...

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North Western PA Tornado

Severe Weather Awareness Week started a bit early for folks in North Western PA. April 20, 2017 brought an EF0 tornado to Mathews Run in Warren County, just north west of Youngsville, PA. Fortunately there were no injuries or serious damage from the short lived tornado. Details of the tornado can ...

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QCARC Events

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NOTA Special Event


Here is another On The Air Special Event that you can get your HF as well as 2 meter and 70 cm rigs warmed up for. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is beginning their year long NASA On The Air Special Event beginning December 11, 2017 and will run through December 2018. There will be at least 14 stations operating across the U.S., including the International Space Station (ISS). The On The Air Special Events have been well received and no doubt the NASA event will be well received as well.

Details, rules and other related information can be found at the NASA Special Event web page:

https://nasaontheair.wordpress.com/

Click on the NASA logo, in this post, for their web page for some interesting reading and images. The wildfire photos, some from the ISS, are awesome!

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SKYWARN RECOGNITION DAY OPERATING EVENT

This year the official date for the SkyWarn™ Recognition Day event is December 2. The event will be in operation from 0000 UTC – 2400 UTC, December 2, 2017.

This is a rather simple event, the purpose is to contact as many National Weather Service stations as possible on 80 meter – 70cm bands with repeater contacts accepted as well. The contact exchange includes: your call sign, signal report, QTH, and a very brief description of your weather conditions. You can print your own certificate at the end of the event,  as detailed on the ARRL web site listed below.

The full outline of the operating procedures can be read at:  http://www.arrl.org/skywarn-recognition-day

A graphical depiction of the participating NWS offices can be found at:  http://www.weather.gov/crh/skywarnrecognition

Clicking on the icon for the NWS office, on the map, will enable you to obtain information such as frequencies and operating times relative that office.
Remember
to keep a log, or use the handy .pdf checklist that can be found under the RESOURCES heading and click on the SKYWARN™ Recognition Checklist line, on the NWS SkyWarn recognition web-page.

 

Just as a personal side note – this is yet another opportunity to help improve your operating skills whether it relates to everyday operating, contesting, and/or emergency preparedness.

 

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CQ – Field Day QCARC

This year the QCARC Field Day site will be at the Sandy Valley Community Church, located just off Rte. 950, between Falls Creek and Reynoldsville.

CLICK THE MAP FOR LARGE DISPLAY —                                                                                                         — CLICK THE RED FD 17 LOGO FOR NATIONAL EVENT INFO —

2017 FD LocationPrint

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QCARC Field Day

The Quad County Amateur Radio Club will operate Field Day June 25-26, 2016, at the Clearfield County Fairground Community Building, yes we’ve been there before. Operating hours are scheduled to be from 2:00 PM Saturday to 2:00 PM Sunday, antennas have to be installed after the VE exam session. All amateur radio operators are welcome as well as the general public. Since the public as well as a number of Clearfield County officials and TV stations have been invited, as Club secretary, I ask that members please wear their Club shirts if possible. Thank you – in advance.

Volunteer examiners are reminded that the exam session is scheduled for June 25, 2016 at 11:00 AM. VEC Round

Operations are scheduled to start 2:00 PM, Saturday June 25, continuing through the night, with the hopes of taking advantage of any changing propagation characteristics. There is to be a Get On The Air (GOTA) station activated. The GOTA station will give new hams and those not even licensed, the opportunity to experience operating the HF bands under the supervision of a licensed amateur radio operator.

Clf FD Map

Location Coordinate information:        41°01.840 N     78°26.540 W.

Follow the route depicted by orange arrows, on the map, after you turn off Rte. 322.
You can also try the inserted interactive map to zoom and obtain directions. You can use the satellite view on the small map to compare the orange arrow map to the right.

If you operate APRS, there will be an object beacon to help you locate the Field Day site.

Please consider what will make Field Day comfortable for you, like in the real deal you will be responsible for your own comfort and personal operating conveniences such as chairs, clipboards, pens, pencils, paper. flashlights, etc. – remember to mark your property -. The main equipment will be provided, such as transceivers and antennas. I do not recall that the building is handicapped accessible. If you have a spare HF radio or antenna to bring, all the better as a just in case but only 2 will be on the air plus the GOTA station. Additionally if possible, please bring along some type of food to share.

Plans are in motion to have breakfast Sunday morning and some picnic style food for later times.

To help with the items and food for Field Day, please down load the 2 page checklist and email the Club secretary (secretary@qcarc.org) as to the items that you will supply.  I’ll try to keep all the updates current on the download list. If you have anything to add, please email your input to the Club secretary.

Amateurs who are attending the QCARC Field Day, please advise the FD Coordinator by email at secretary@qcarc.org . This info is for overall planning purposes.

Click Here to Download List

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Yaesu FT-991 A huge step for mankind….

Hello again

It was a while ago since I wrote anything here, but now I really have something to write about!

As maybe some of you know, I took the step, and bought a new radio, the Yaesu FT-991. It is an all band all mode transceiver incl C4FM, where all the best parts from Yaesu’s more exclusive transceivers come together in a very compact sized box. Already the first day, i was struck by the radios very quite receiver and ease of use, even though it’s the first time I’ve ever used a radio with touch screen. But, if you are familiar with a smartphone or a tablet, then you feel right at home with the FT-991. Last weekend, I got to test it’s phenomenal ability to pick out stations just above the noise, even though I had 59+ signals right beside, and without earphones, it was easy to hear what the weak station said, and, to work him! This time Yaesu really hit the head on the nail! I dare to say, that nobody in this price range come even close to the FT-991! It is a radio that will fit in any Go-Box, since it’s even got a built in tuner as well as a built in audio board for digital traffic.   Yaesu FT-991FT-991 Rear Panel

I will bring the radio to the next meeting, so you all get a chance to play a little with it. I hope we get a weather like we had today, so we can put up some antennas, and make a few contacts!

See you all at the QCARC meeting!

Lars KB3WBT

PS: The Yaesu FT-991 price is now even lower, $958 after mail in rebate at RandL electronics, which is a super deal!

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Woo Woo – Another Certificate!

SkyWarn Recognition Day has come and gone! I was able to contact 16 stations, for the time that I was on the air band conditions were rather weak not to mention the QSB. For my efforts I was able to print the certificate inserted below. It’s not all that big of a deal but it’s something to show for the effort. After all, one of the aspects of ham radio is communicating regardless of conditions and it was a National event to participate in.

UFN SkyWarn Cert

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Happy Thanksgiving – We Remember

Thanksgiving-Turkey-Dinner-Table2

 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! This is a traditional time to spend with family and friends, and to remember all those who are no longer with us.

I remember in the early days of the club, that there was a day-long QSO on the DuBois Repeater with hams far and wide in the Quad-County area checking in and out and back in again as their family activities permitted.

My Elmer, K3TFL was the unofficial Master of Ceremonies for those sessions, and the discussions ranged from what was for dinner, to the snowy weather to how to modify an ARC-5.

For our Quad-County hams, our repeater was the “Social Media” of the day. We all knew each other and stayed in touch on the air, making friends and sharing our thoughts all over the coverage area. This regular repeater contact with each other made for stronger friendships, and brought our disparate communities together in a spirit of cooperation and good will. Sadly, repeaters have fallen into disuse, and the social connections have withered away to a great extent.

I wonder; what would happen if we all made the effort to pick up the microphone, and reach out to each other today, and into the future? Would we find a renewed interest in local ham radio, and perhaps make a new ham radio friend or two? The only way to find out is to give it a try.

Why not fire up the radio today, and see who’s on the repeater? I’ll see you… on the air!

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PA Fire Museum’s 20th Anniversary On The Air Event

With some of our members being involved in local fire departments, I felt this may bfire-department-maltese-cross-78278e of special interest.

The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum will celebrate its 20th Anniversary, with an on the air special event. As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum , in conjunction with the Harrisburg Radio Amateurs’ Club (HRAC) , will sponsor a special event. The Special Event Station will be on the air on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Sunday, Nov. 15, from noon to 4:00 PM, operating from the museum in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania National Fire Museum opened on November 17, 1995. Housed in an 1899 Victorian firehouse of the former Reily Hose Company No. 10, the all-volunteer museum features a collection of firefighting artifacts, from hand-drawn equipment to the equipment of today. For more information, contact Richard Lenker, KB3YRC.

QSL cards can be obtained by sending a S.A.S.E. to:
PNFM S.E.S.
1820 N. Fourth Street
Harrisburg, PA  17102


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N3Q Takes First Place in WPA on Field Day!

The rain couldn’t damp OR dampen the spirits of the erstwhile Quad-County hams as they slogged through the ankle-deep waters and braved the torrential downpours on Field Day, this June 27 and 28th. This year, the operations were ARRL Field Day 2015 logo_3set up at the Punxsutawney Airport at the facilities used by the Punxsutawney Area Amateur Radio Club. The Special Event callsign N3Q was used in honor of the Club’s 40th anniversary. The GOTA station used the Punxsy Club’s K3HWJ callsign.

Our score of  746 points was easily able to take first place in the 2AC category, due to the absence of any other WPA Stations in that category. OK, so it’s a wee bit misleading to say we “won”… but it makes us happy to say it that way!

Realistically speaking, we placed 19th nationally, out of field of 35 entries in the 2AC Category, which put us smack-dab in the middle of the pack in our own category. Looking at the entire collection of entries, we placed #1758 out of 2720 total entries putting us at the 35% point which is still in the middle of the group, albeit at the lower end of the middle. Considering the weather, that’s not a bad showing at all! 

Thanks to everyone who showed up and braved the dismal weather!

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Hurricane Watch Net Activating for Hurricane Joaquin

From ARRL:

[UPDATED 2015-09-30 @ 1940 UTC] The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has made it official: It’s Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 1 storm. But the NHC said that Joaquin is gaining strength and “could become a major hurricane during the next couple of days.” The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated at 1500 UTC today (September 30) on 14.325 MHz (after nightfall, the net will convene on 7.268 MHz) to gather observer reports. WX4NHC at the NHC is not active at this time. Currently packing maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH, Hurricane Joaquin was about 190 miles east-northeast of the central Bahamas as of 1800 UTC. A hurricane warning is in effect for the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador.

“Due to the close proximity to land, whether or not this storm makes landfall in the Bahamas, the Hurricane Watch Net will be active until the storm is no longer a threat in this region,” said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Everyone along the US East Coast should keep a close eye on this system. The current forecast brings Joaquin near the New England area by late Sunday or early Monday.”

During HWN activation, the net control station will request measured/observed ground-truth data from stations in the affected area. The HWN also remains available to provide back-up communication to official agencies, such as emergency operations centers and Red Cross officials in the affected area. The net also will gather and report to FEMA officials in the NHC any information on significant damage. Stations should not check into the net unless specifically requested to do so.

The NHC reported at 1800 UTC that Joaquin was moving toward the southwest at nearly 6 MPH. “A general motion toward the west-southwest or southwest is expected to continue through tonight,” the NHC said. “A turn toward the northwest and a decrease in forward speed are forecast on Thursday or Thursday night.The center of Joaquin is expected to move near or over portions of the central Bahamas tonight and Thursday.”

According to the NHC, Hurricane conditions are expected to reach portions of the Central Bahamas by Thursday morning. “Winds are expected to reach tropical storm strength in the warning area tonight, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the NHC said.

Dangerous storm surges are possible, and Joaquin is expected to produce 5 to 10 inches of rain, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible over San Salvador and Rum Cay through Friday morning.

The NHC said swells generated by Joaquin will affect portions of the Bahamas over the next few days and will start affecting portions of Florida’s eastern coast and the US southeast coast by Friday. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the NHC predicted.

“We’re monitoring the situation and the forecasts regularly. Like most, we’re waiting to see which way the storm will go,” ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, told the ARRL Field Organization leadership in the areas that could be affected by Joaquin. “ARRL Headquarters will be in touch with our National VOAD partners, FEMA, and NHC as things develop.”

Visit the HWNwebsite for the latest information on this storm and HWN activation plans.

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Get Ready For Field Day!

2015 Field Day Logo Red Design 1Every year, hams around the country start gathering their radios and warming up their grilles to get ready for the annual ARRL Field Day. This year, the Quad-County Amateur Radio Club has joined forces with the Punxsutawney Area Amateur  Radio Club to participate in a very special 40th Anniversary Field Day operation at the Punxsutawney Municipal Airport in Jefferson County.

In honor of the Club’s 40th Anniversary, the Quad-County Club will use the special-event callsign N3Q. The GOTA station will be operating with the Punxs’y Club callsign K3HWJ as in the past.

Of course there will be hotdogs with legendary “BUX” sauce, made from the secret recipe created by Dick Flanders WA3BUX (SK), served at every Field Day since the Club’s origins! Other food will be available, and everyone is encouraged to bring something to share with the group.

Plans are to operate around the clock, and to have a GOTA station set up for new hams, inactive hams and the public to operate. Additionally a VHF station will be set up to operate on 6-meter and 2-meter SSB/CW/Digital modes.

Most  importantly, a good time will be had by all, as we once again demonstrate to public officials and all of our guests how hams are always ready to work together to set up top-notch radio stations away from the comforts of home and communicate with each other across the miles, to serve our communities.

 

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Contest Results – Fall 2013

WOW! THE DAUNTLESS QCARC contest team warmed up the ionospere during several on-air operating events in October and November. Thanks to the generosity of Club President Peach Caltagarone AB3OG, we were able to string up some pretty impressive antennas at Hummingbird Speedway and rack up some pretty impressive scores, operating from the really nice cabin overlooking Hummingbird Speedway.

Antenna Science

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE antenna was the N3QC Rhombic (orange in the photo), with its beam centered on Southern Europe and the Mediterranian Sea — an area encompassing the largest hotbed of DX Contest operators in the world. In case you’ve never heard of a rhombic, it’s a wire antenna with the wires oriented in such a way as to generate a high-gain “pencil beam” in the desired direction with a very low angle of radiation. Round-the-world communications along a narrow path are possible even in poor conditions.

The N3QC Rhombic is made up of four one-wavelength (on 40 meters) legs with a 53.4° apex angle, suspended 50 feet above ground. The main lobe radiates on a bearing of 63.3° toward Europe, with a take-off angle of 21.2° above the horizon on 20 meters, and 9.2° on 10 meters. Gain is 19.75 dBi on 10 meters, 15.08 dBi on 20 meters, and 10.85 dBi on 40 meters with a 45° takeoff angle and a 60° beamwidth!

The first thing you notice about the rhombic is how quiet it is. Due to its enormous size of 240 by 120 feet (2/3 of an acre!) the aperture is large enough that nearby terrestrial noise is picked up in common mode, and cancels itself out in the feed system. Which brings us to the second thing you notice: Received signals are HUGE! The large aperture means a gigantic capture area allowing the incoming wavefronts to generate strong currents along the wires. On transmit, the nearly 20 dB gain means our 500 watt signal results in an ERP of over 40,000 watts!!!

When we first hooked it to a radio, we could hear European hams on 10 meters. It was midnight in Europe, and they were just chatting with each other using low power. tuning around the 10 meter band, I heard one station in Spain calling CQ and answered him with only 100 watts. He incredulously asked if I was really in W3. He turned his yagi toward the US and we were both astounded by the S9 + 20 dB signal strength. That was a very good sign for our upcoming contest efforts!

The rhombic is a tough act to follow, but it’s highly directional and there was a need to cover areas it didn’t. So up went two G5RV antennas. The first (red in the photo) hung at 43 feet and was aligned parallel to the rhombic’s main beam, to provide coverage perpendicular to it. Specifically, the coverage was planned to cover Japan and the Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and South America. The second G5RV (green in the photo) was suspended at 60 feet and aligned north-south to provide coverage of the US on 80, 40 and 20 meters, and have four lobes on 15 and 10 meters to the NE, SE, SW and NW to supplement the first G5RV.

Although significantly noisier than the rhombic, the G5RVs proved to do their intended jobs and provided solid coverage to their predicted target areas, just as they were designed. Although yagis or tribanders would provide more gain and flexibility than the G5RVs, the expense and effort to install towers and beams was not feasable at this time. The G5RVs were a good compromise, and worked more than adequately. Perhaps in the future, another unterminated rhombic (bi-directional) would better serve Japan, the Pacific islands, the Caribbean and South America. (Or maybe a curtain array, say an HRRS 4/4/0.5, phase-steerable +/- 30°, centered on 330°/150°. Such an antenna would cover 80% of the world’s landmass with about 16 dBi on 20-10 meters.)

The science works in practice, and I am sure that were he still with us, QCARC’s first president Gary Boucher W3GNR would be very proud of our engineering work!

The Radios

WE ARE NOT wealthy. But our club is rich in the generosity we show each other! For example, the rhombic consists of 550 feet of wire, provided by W3BC. He also provided 50 feet of RG-8 coax (enough to reach the ground) and a 4:1 balun. WA3UFN provided 150 feet of RG-8 coax to continue the feed to the shack. W3BC also provided 500 feet of rope, and the insulators used to hold the four corners of the rhombic way up in the air. His baitcasting skills and equipment launched the support ropes over the treetops. AB3OG provided the racetrack location and permission to place the antenna there. Cost to the club: $0.00 — Value: Priceless!

When it came time to operate, W3BC transported a shackful of contest-grade radios. His classic Icom IC-751A transceiver, IC-R71E receiver, IC-2KL solid-state, fluid-cooled linear, and AT-500 automatic bandswitching antenna tuner made up one operating position for the first couple events. His newly-acquired Icom IC-756 Pro III replaced the erstwhile 751 for the Phone Sweepstakes. AB3OG brought his Icom IC-765 for the second operating position. His one-time world-champion Icom flagship rig performed admirably, allowing us to tune out the severe QRM and focus on the signals we wanted.

Additionally, W3TM brought headsets, rig interfaces, voice keyer, CW paddles and footswitches to round out the operating positions. W3BC supplied the logging computers and software. He also made up Great-Circle maps centered on our QTH, with the patterns for each antenna and band superimposed. AB3OG paid the electric bill, and kept the lights and heat running in the beautiful, modern cabin, which made operating comfortable and fun. The nicely appointed cabin was the perfect blend of rustic atmosphere and modern convenience to make our time spent there very enjoyable. Those not operating were able to follow the games on a wide-screen TV, also courtesy of AB3OG.

The Club provided food, snacks and beverages, and KA3MKY brought snacks and served up the world’s best homemade chili. Nobody went hungry, and all the comforts of home were available. Again, the cost to the Club was small.

During the setup, KB3LES helped out with the heavy lifting, and brought his MFJ antenna analyzer which proved to be valuable in locatiing a faulty coax connector. That was the only equipment failure, and the CB-grade connector was completely burned up when we applied 500 watts to the feedline. (A PL-259 that meets specifications will easily handle well over 1000 watts at 50 ohms, but the cheap imitation ones sold in CB shops WILL fail at under 100 watts — catastrophically!!!) Thanks to W3TM who provided a replacement connector on a moment’s notice!

For the Jamboree on the Air, WD3D brought his Kenwood transceiver and a vertical antenna. He demonstrated the ease with which an Amateur Radio Station could be set up and talk to other stations around the world!

The Operations

THERE WAS NO shortage of operating events! We started out with the Pennsylvania QSO Party on October 12 and 13. We operated the full 22 hours of the event, and had a very sucessful experience. Not only did we score 145,000+ points, but we made a “Clean Sweep” of all 67 counties! It was very easy to bust a pileup on our first call, and we received many unsolicited comments about our “big signal”. Operators were AB3OG, W3BC, W3TM and WD3D.

Next was the Jamboree ont the Air on Saturday and Sunday, October 19-20. Boy Scouts from the local troops were invited to attend. A number of hams were present to help out. Wd3D brought a complete station and set it up, and talked to the world. Club members present were W3DWR, KA3FHV, AB3OG, W3TM, KB3LES, KA3MKY, W3BC.

This was taken 10/26/13 around 7:30pm shortly before the half million point threshold…CONGRATULATIONS JOE AND PEACH!!! [KA3MKY Photo]

Then on October 25-27 it was time for the big one… The biggest contest of them all, the annual CQ World-Wide DX Contest. Could we hope to even be heard with all the world’s biggest of the big guns? The answer was a resounding, YES! The rhombic showed its true colors as we again received many reports of a booming signal from all over the world. New Zealand at over 9,000 miles away was booming in on 10 meters. We often could hear “local” stations via long path, with their signals going 24,000 miles the long-way around the world with the characteristic 1/8 second delay or “echo”. The “red” G5RV delivered a dozen QSOs with Japan on 10, 15 and 20 meters! We worked well over 100 countries — DXCC in one wekend! We jokingly suggested that we should shoot for a million points. The truth is that we almost made it: Our final score was over 897,000 points and if we could have had even a couple more manhours on one or the other radio, we would have likely hit the million-point mark! Ops: W3BC, AB3OG. More would have been very welcome and appreciated!!!

Finally on November 16 and 17th, we set up shop for the ARRL November Sweepstakes phone contest. We entered in the multi-operator, single transmitter category. W3BC’s new Pro III was the workhorse, and the radio and antennas performed perfectly. Band conditions were fantastic. The long-path”echo” of our own signal was often heard when we let up on the transmit switch! 10 meters was wall-to-wall with stations all over the US and Canada. It was like being in one of those game show money booths, and we tried to grab as many QSOs as we could. We worked both Alaska and Hawaii right off the bat in the first few minutes, and had collected contacts in 60 different ARRL sections within the first six hours, leaving 23 to be worked for a clean sweep. By the time we shut down for the night, we had made a couple hundred QSOs, and had talked to station in all but seven states.

We started up again on Sunday morning, and found 10 meters was good for DX but not the US. We went to 15 meters and could hear that “long-path echo” on almost every station. I’ve never seen conditions that good in 47 years of being a ham. We settled into systematically tuning the band, and it seemed that on every QSO we picked up one of the needed sections. Before long, we were down to single digit numbers of needed sections. Over the course of an hour, we brought it down to the final four: Newfoundland and Manitoba in Canada, and North Dakota and Kentucky in the US. We tried tuning 20 meters, but the approaching weather front was producing S9 + 20 dB of “static” on that band. Back up to 10 meters, but not many signals, and those we heard we had already worked long before. Then on 15 meters, we almost immediately found a VY2 and the “NL” multiplier was ours. On the TV, the Steelers had just scored a field goal, so that must have been a lucky time for Western Pennsylvania.

A little more tuning around and there was Manitoba! Now we were down to two more sections. On 40 meters, there was Nancy K9DIG calling “CQ Sweepstakes” and in a matter of seconds, North Dakota was in our log! Only one more setion to go! We went down to 80 meters for an hour or two and began to give up hope of the Clean Sweep. We did work a large number of stations in an hour-long pile-up of stations who needed Western Pennsylvania, but none of them were from Kentucky. We then went back up to 40 meters to take a quick run across the band and pick up the few stations we hadn’t worked yet.

The Steelers game was over, everybody had worked everybody else and boredom was setting in. We heard one guy calling CQ and answered him. He replied, “N3QC You blew me out of my chair with that big signal. You’re the loudest station I ever heard!” Yes, our modest station was acting much more like a Big Gun than the little pistol we really were!

As evening fell, the rain was coming down and 20, 15 and 10 meters were closing when we heard a W4 calling CQ on 40 meters. Was he in Kentucky? We threw out our call. No reply. We called again a couple more times. Still nothing. And then…

Another pile-up of stations started calling us. We worked through them, and when they tapered off, we tried calling “CQ Kentucky” a couple times in the closing hours of the contest. We could visualize our hopes for a Clean Sweep sprouting wings and flying away. But up from the ashes, a friendly voice came through the speaker, “There’s a Kentucky down on 3702.”

Off we went!

Sure enough, the Kentucky station was there, working a huge pile-up. We got our ducks in a row, and AB3OG sent our call once along with the dozen or so other stations who sounded like feeding time at the hog trough. But thanks to the rhombic and the amp and the Pro III audio and the operating skill (along with a little luck), there was Kentucky calling N3QC!!! Peach finished the QSO and entered it in the log and then we all cheered the accomplishment. We had made our Clean Sweep!!! Of course that implies that we also worked all 50 states… In only a 24-hour period!

That Winning Season

THE WEATHER WARNINGS started flowing in when there were still a couple more contest hours left to go. Putting safety first, we made the difficult decision to forego the hundred or so more QSOs that would have put us over the 100,000 point threshold and opted to shut down and load all the equipment up. Mother Nature even sided with us and suspended the drenching downpour that had been going on all afternoon and evening. We tore down and removed all the equipment from the cabin, loaded it in the vehicles and then set about securing the antennas for the winter.

Sweepstakes operators were W3BC, AB3OG and KA3MKY, with a nice visit by KB3LES and his XYL Jo. We all had a great time in the Sweepstakes and all the other events. Everyone had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. The radios and antennas worked perfectly and more than lived up to our expectations. We proved that we could get the techincal part right without spending a fortune. We also proved that we could operate efficiently for long periods without succumbing to exhaustion.

The 2013 Fall contest season had come to a close. Our club suited up and showed up. We made very good scores without overworking ourselves, and probably won some awards — we definitely won two “Clean Sweep” awards — and really, really enjoyed ourselves. The silent key founding members of our Club would be very proud of our efforts, both in the technical and the competitive aspects of the events. We did our best to honor their heritage.

The only dark cloud was that we missed you. There was plenty of fun (and food) to go around, and even if you don’t think you’re up to contesting, you could have shared our excitement and fun while watching us win each little victory and by cheering us on. Yes RadioSport is a spectator sport too, and your team spirit and support would have meant a lot to those of us who were competing on the air. Can we count on your support next time? It really does mean a lot to those of us in the thick of the competition.

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