QCARC Calendar

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QC Weather

Chance of a Thunderstorm
Monday 06/26/2017 60%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Partly cloudy with afternoon showers or thunderstorms. High 69F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Overcast
Tuesday 06/27/2017 20%
Overcast
Overcast. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 67F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph.
Clear
Wednesday 06/28/2017 10%
Clear
Mostly sunny skies. High 76F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Quad-County Weather Page

Latest News

Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Re-Scheduled

Clearfield County SkyWarn® Training Re-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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SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 24 – 28, 2017

SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 24 – 28, 2017

Since the National Weather Service outline for Severe Weather Week encompasses the weather that we encounter in our area, it might just be a great idea to check the State College, NWS website (http://www.weather.gov/ctp/SevereWeatherAwarenessWeek) for some important information. The information on the web pages just happen expand on the April ...

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WIRES-X , The New Kid on the Block

This article was originally posted January 15, 2016 Just above the horizon – WIRES-X! Recently you may have heard some rather odd noises and unlikely QSOs taking place on the N3QC, 147.315 repeater. The latest update to our repeater was added January 12, 2016 when the Yaesu Wires-X Voice Over Internet ...

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Desktop Wallpaper, 4x3, on green

April 2017 Parasitic Emission

In a shocking development, Joe W3BC has finally come to his senses and put out a modest but informative edition of the Parasitic Emission newsletter. You may download it here: Parasitic Emission, Volume 43, Number 1, April 2017

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Pennsylvania Flood Safety Awareness Week

The National Weather Service Flood Safety Awareness Week Begins March 27. Considering we experience flooding in our area rather often, it is likely worth your time to check out the National Weather Service flood safety week web page at http://www.weather.gov/ctp/floodSafetyWeek The week starts out with information on the continuing effort ...

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Advanced Skywarn Training-POSTPONED, ironically, due to weather!!!!!!

Due to winter storm "Stella", NWS PBZ has cancelled the Advanced SKYWARN class. The date and time will be announced later!!!   Jefferson County DES, Clarion County OES and National Weather Service Pittsburgh are co-sponsoring an Advanced Skywarn training. The course will be held at the Strattanville Fire Department 441 Washington Street, Strattanville, ...

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Please Keep Fire Hydrants Clear

I know this is not directly related to amateur radio but it is directly related to neighborhood safety. It may even be directly related to your safety!

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Basic SKYWARN in Punxsutawney

National Weather Service Pittsburgh will be conducting a BASIC SKYWARN course at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center 201 N Findley St on Thursday April 27, 2017 starting at 6PM. To register, email marlene@weatherdiscovery.org This course is open to ANYONE interested in Weather. Hams are encouraged to attend. If you are a current ...

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I Have My Amateur Radio Operator License – Now What

This question often occurs with newly licensed radio amateurs, and may occur from time to time with those who have been licensed for a few years. One of your first avenues to find out an answer to a question may be your local amateur radio club. Often times there are ...

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Get Weather Ready Before A Tornado

Spring really is not too far away and with the change of seasons some rather interesting but destructive weather can occur. One of the more serious weather phenomenons we have to occasionally deal with is the tornado. While not a frequent issue, it is one that we need to be ...

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NOAA’s  National Weather Service Pages Are Changing

NOAA's National Weather Service Pages Are Changing

If there is anything true about our world it is change! The changes on the NWS pages has been moved to April, as the information states.: "Effective April 4, 2017, NWS will implement the next version of the forecast pages. Highlights will include a standardized look and feel, a mobile-ready landing ...

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Updated QCARC Net Format

Hi folks, by clicking on the Club logo below, you will find the current net format to be used for the VHF and UHF nets. This format was first used for the February 19, 2017 VHF and UHF nets and is available for download so that anyone can run the net. Running ...

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Winter Travel - More Than Just Cold Temeratures

  As we’ve seen this winter, the weather can change rather quickly. Especially when traveling, we need to be prepared for those extremes during our winter travels. One of the biggest issues this winter has been the occurrence of white-outs. Often times these winter squalls materialized so fast there is no ...

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Amateur Radio Parity Act - Reintroduced And Renamed

Information from the ARRL is that the Amateur Radio Parity Act has been reintroduced in the US House as of January 13, 2017, as HR 555. The article states that HR 555 is a continuation of efforts from late last year, "The wording of HR 555 is identical to the language ...

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QCARC Events

  • No events.

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 —

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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!

Powerpole® Crimp Tool Review

For many hams the go-to 12 VDC connector is the Anderson Powerpole®. I feel the same, this connector is the only one that makes sense forPP crimper convenience and durability of connection among my own radios and if the need arises other power supplies. This form of 12 VDC power connection really makes the issue of interoperability for a power source a non-issue. The connector is recognized across the Country as THE power connector to use for ARES and other public service applications.

Anyway, where this is leading is the issue with installing the connectors on the wire. It really is not difficult but there is a standard, in order to interface with the rest of the world! Amateur radio has adopted the standard that when viewed from the contact side, the mnemonic for remembering the arrangement for the positive connector is: “Red Right — Tongue Top“.
Of red powerpolecourse red is positive while black is negative. Even though there is a standard, I feel it is still a good idea to confirm the connection that your rig may be connected to is verified visually and also electrically using a volt meter or one of the LED connectors that indicate if the connectors are configured to the standard.

 

The installation of the connector contacts can be problematic if the proper crimp procedure is not used. I’ve used the crimping pliers type PP crimper diescrimp tool, until now. I finally invested in a crimp tool made for the Powerpole® connector contacts. I have to say that I should have done it sooner, no exaggeration! There are are several styles of crimpers available with the special dies for the crimp, study their operation and style then decide for yourself which one suites your needs. The version that I settled on has a feature in the tool that helps maintain the alignment of the contact while the crimp in done (see photo). My opinion is that the crimp done with the pictured tool is far superior than the crimping pliers style. Along with the quality of the crimp, there is no distortion to the contact. With no distortion there is no reforming the contact which results in a much easier insertion into the Powerpole® shell and much better contact surface for maximum conductivity.

What About Inversions

Lately many of us have heard stations from rather distant areas on the 147.315 repeater. It is interesting to hear those stations that we normally do not hear but often it is just due to a weather phenomenon called and inversion. I expect that some amateurs sit back and wonder just what is this inversion thing that some offer as an explanation for the unusually distant stations heard and some stations that we can even carry on a QSO with. Sometimes the stations seem as though they are just audible for enough time to hear a call sign but other times long enough for a typical QSO. Then there are times that you may not even be able to hear or access your local repeater and again you will hear folks offer the explanation as an inversion as well.

Consider the simplified diagram of an inversion below. Note that typically as you increase elevation the temperature lowers but with an inversion the opposite happens! You can see the yellow area depicting the inversion, which actually ends up acting as a boundary layer that can either attenuate the signal to and from the repeater or at times signal attenuation can occur to the extent of both blocking the repeater from hearing your transmitted signal and from you hearing the repeater’s transmitted signals. This occurrence can lead one to believe the repeater is off the air. I recall years ago there were trips made to the repeater site when we could not use the repeater, only to find the repeater operating. All due to an inversion. Sometimes the inversion layer is well above what the diagram depicts too, leading to other stations that you will be able to talk with that you would not ordinarily be able. There is another term used for this phenomenon which is called ducting that enables more distant than typical communications to occur, especially on VHF as well as UHF.

Inversions, ducting, tropo and what ever other titles the phenomenon of having radio signals reflected and refracted is an interesting and vast topic of which you can read up on. Look for propagation of radio signals either on the Internet or the ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications, what was previously called the Radio Amateur’s Handbook.

Inversion

The QCARC 443.85 Repeater Is Now Dual Mode, Analog/Digital

system-fusionAs of approximately 2:00 PM, 4/8/2015 the analog only UHF repeater was replaced with a Yaesu System Fusion Analog/Digital repeater. This is the same type repeater as used for the 147.315 repeater.

You can still communicate as you have in the past, you will not have to buy a new radio, your radio will not be obsolete. The main difference is that at various times you may hear a noise similar to buzzing or a static like noise, this is likely a digital conversation. The digital conversation noise can be eliminated by setting up your radio’s receiver with a tone squelch of 173.8 Hz. The digital side of the repeater does not transmit the 173.8 Hz tone, therefore your radio will stay quiet until another analog FM radio transmission is received by the repeater. If you want to use the repeater, just talk as you have in the past. The repeater has the capability to automatically detect what type of signal it is receiving and switch to the proper mode to enable you to talk to anyone whether they have a digital radio or the traditional analog FM. Also if you happen to hear or know there is a digital conversation on the repeater you can join the conversation just as you have in the past. When the repeater “hears” your analog FM signal it will switch to your mode and the folks who are using the digital mode will be switched to your analog FM mode. Everyone on the repeater will be able to talk, all automatically!
If you need help setting up your radio with tone squelch, check with one of the officers in the Club, they will be able to direct you to the right ham to help you.

Found at Butler Hamfest

Hi everybody

Since I was just sitting here, I thought that I could show you all what I found at the ham-fest in Butler last Sunday.

Well, lets go back to the beginning in this story. In 1978, I became interested in ham-radio satellites, so called OSCAR satellites. Way back then, the AMSAT OSCAR 7 was the satellite to work. It had an orbit that made it show up every 90 minutes, and covered Europe, northern Africa, and also the US East Coast. To work US East Coast stations, you had about 5 minutes before it went down under the horizon again, so you had to be quick!

Now to the more technical part, the radio you see here at the right, is an Icom 402, it was the state of the art in late 70’s if you wanted to do some SSB on 70cm. It has 3w out-put, and that is not very much, but then again, your average 2m FM radio had a high-power setting of 10w. I used an Icom 402 on the uplink, 435 Mhz LSB, and then the signal from the satellite came back on 145 Mhz USB. The 402 was hooked up to a 46 element J-beam, and the antenna for down-link was a simple 4 element yagi. Right at the 2m yagi, I had a low-noise preamp, to help my Kenwood TS-700 hear the weak signals coming back from the satellite. I would say, that I worked a few hundred  stations via OSCAR satellites.

Now to complete this little story. At the hamfest, I paid $10 for this radio in close to mint condition! Needless to say, it made my day! Of course, there aren’t many 70 cm stations around Clearfield — much less SSB ones — but late last night before I went to bed, I went into my shack, and for some reason I tuned around the band and heard somebody! It was Joe W3BC, and he was operating from W3SO in Altoona, so that was my first QSO on my new “old” rig, Joe also gave me the frequencies for 2m and 6m, since what I stumbled into was the VHF contest, lucky them!

Hope this little essay was worth reading  :)

PS: For all you who are interested, there is a 2m version of this radio and a 6m version, Icom 202 and Icom 502, there is also a fm 2m, Icom 215.

Lars

PS2: This is a 70cm Halo antenna I built for the radio, it’s horizontally polarized and it is Omni directional (same radiation all directions)

Update on Halo, just worked W3SO, Altoona, made op laugh! Will listen for other stations also….

 

I thought I saw a Pussycat…(And now it’s gone)

Well, here we go again!

Remember a while ago, when I wrote about needing a project in order to stay sane, while my shoulder healed? Well, I sure found one!

If you look at the picture at the right, that’s it!

It’s a fantastic little rig from Kenwood, when they still made simple but very good HF stations –  no menus, no electronic band-switch, etc.

The model number is TS-130s, and it covers 80m -10m, including the WARC bands, it’s got 100w output and is a cw/ssb rig only, but hey, its a great rig for ragchewing, field-day, beginners’ rig, or when going camping!  :)

When I got it, someone had dropped the top lid while looking inside, resulting in tearing the wire off from internal speaker, but with the help from some junked speakers, that was an easy fix. Then came the question why the RF power came and went. Well, what really was wrong, was a voltage regulator, sitting on the heat sink, and it was supposed to be insulated from ground. As you might already have guessed, it was not really…that is to say, the little washer with a little flange on, that is supposed to keep the screw from touching the regulator, was damaged, so when keying the rig, sometimes it made contact, and sometimes not….  After having found this, it now works just as new!

Speaking of cleaning, now I’m going to tell you what not ever to do!! (AND I MEAN THAT!)

When cleaning knobs, do not EVER try to do that in a sink, without a strainer! Why? I’ll tell you why, if you haven’t felt your heart fly up into your throat, YOU WILL! Also, if you haven’t had to take the drain apart, YOU WILL!

Now, if you have stopped laughing, and stopped saying S****D I***T, I can tell you, I now know how it feels! I was just lucky that the knob wasn’t flushed out. Having  put it all together again, I buffed up the scuffed paint on the case. It looks  so good, that I don’t want to let it go, but since it’s only a project rig, I must (at least that’s what XYL says…)

A radio in this condition sells really fast, and so did this. Roger KB3ZKJ, is now the happy owner. Congrats Roger!

Your storyteller

Lars KB3WBT

N3QC 2012 Contest Scorecard

Quad-County members participated in a number of contests over the summer months, with good results! Here are some of the official results:

ARRL June VHF Contest

Current Club President Herb Murray W3TM and Secretary Joe Shupienis W3BC hit the bricks to participate in the Rover-Limited category. Activating 5 grids and handing out 92 QSOs, their final official score was 5,406 points, with contacts being made in 48 grids! It was a lot of fun, and they activated some grids neither had operated from before, notably FN02, EN92 and EN91, along with FN00 and FN01. We are fortunate to live in or near so many “rare” grids, and the 6 meter stations were grateful!

That score was enough to win the WPA Section, and to take second place in the Atlantic Division!

Field Day

Overcoming confusion about our location, we stuck it out and had a great time. Finishing in the top 10 of all stations in the WPA section, we scored 2,550 points and most importantly had 26 participants who helped put our signals on the air for the full duration of the event!

That score allowed us to take First Place honors in our 2A-Commercial category for both the Western Pennsylvania Section and the Atlantic Division. We finished 6th place in our category, Nationwide.

Great work, everybody!

CQ WW DX (SSB)

This is “The Big One” — the 900 pound gorilla of contests. Current Vice-President Peach Caltagarone AB3OG graciously opened up his Hummingbird Speedway facilities to the club, and the 16 members and guests who stopped by to operate and observe. We strung up a number of antennas, including a pair of crossed G5RVs and W3BC’s “Half-Rhombic,” a 300 foot monster pointed at Europe.

Results were very good! We logged 91 counties — that’s almost DXCC in a single weekend! the antennas worked flawlessly, digging out European, African and Asian stations well into the wee hours. Then it was back at it Sunday morning, with all the comforts of home — W3BC brought an HD TV and antenna. We were able to receive 11 HDTV stations, and could keep an eye on the football games as we racked up our own score on the air!

Our goal was to introduce non-contesters to RadioSport, to allow everyone to try their hand in a big contest, and to have fun. We did that and more! We finished 2nd Place in the 3rd call district, 17th place Nationwide, 27th place in North America, and 96th place worldwide. With over 8,000 other stations sending in logs, that is quite an accomplishment!

The CQ WW DX (CW) weekend is coming up, as is the ARRL Sweepstakes (SSB) weekend. Gear up for these and be sure to include “Quad County Amateur Radio Club” as your club to help out our club aggregate score! Whatever you favorite on-air activity, it’s coming to your radio soon!

Need a new antenna? Well find an old one, and fix it up!

      With the risk, that you might say, I can’t do that, I say YES YOU CAN!

The other day, I was looking around for a cheap and simple antenna for my brother in-law.  You see, he was asking me if it’s hard to get a amateur radio license, and if the equipment is expensive, so I told him that he could borrow a radio and coax from me, but, I didn’t have any antenna that he could use. 

That’s when I got to think about a neighbor of mine, a few years ago, he asked me if I wanted an old CB antenna that had been laying outside for the last 20-25 years, and at the time, I had what I needed, so I said no thank you, but now it might be a good idea to ask him, and guess what, it was still laying out there, he said, all he used it for was to knock down hornets nests. So I got the “antenna” for free, took it all apart, cleaned it up, and put it together again.

From what I could figure out, it was 11′ tall, and once it did have 3 ground plane-rods. Further more, it also had a coil of some sorts, connecting the center of the PL connector  with the 11′ radiator, and since I had no clue of size, or number of turns, I started to look on the net for a similar antenna, but it was still just guesswork. As you can see, on the picture at the right, I used what I had sitting around, so its about 1 1/2 turns. Then of coarse I didn’t know how long the ground-plane-rods originally were, so I came up with a “one of a kind” solution. Since I didn’t have any aluminum pipes that would fit, I went another route, if you look close, I put “inserts” into the 3/4″ holes, then 3 pieces of 6′ fiber-glass rods were inserted, and on the rods, I wound about 7′ 22 gauge insulated copper-wire. The fiber-glass rods can be found at Lowe’s, they are used as “driveway” markers. I used electrical tape, to hold the wires in place, but shrink-tubes would be nicer.

Now too the fun part, would this contraption work??  As I said earlier, this was an old CB antenna once upon a time, but what is it now?? I hooked up my trusty TS-440 sat, it has its own antenna-tuner, so I tuned in 28,500 and hit tune, well it showed SWR about 1-1:3, so I moved down to 28,020 and low and behold, it showed SWR 1-1:2! Well I thought, just because it shows low SWR, it doesn’t have to be a good antenna, so I tuned over the 10m band, and heard a station in El Paso Tx I had worked before, he was about S 5-5, so I called him, and he did answer, and gave me a solid S 5-9!! This told me that it was not just a pile of junk sitting on my back porch, so then I tried to tune it on 12m, and there it showed about SWR 1-1:3, which is not to bad!! This antenna turned out to work all bands, except 17m, and I guess 160m!! Not to bad of a pile of scrap!!

So now, I’m asking all of you, go out and “save” old CB antennas, give them a second chance, and put them to work on our HAM-bands! When you are done, tell us how good it works, and how you managed to save it from the “scrapyard” Good luck, and hope to see your article here soon!

Lars KB3WBT the Antennafarmer

2012 Annual Report

THE QUAD-COUNTY Amateur Radio Club, Inc. proudly presents our 2012 Annual Report, detailing the activities of the past 12 months in this, our 38th year. You may view or download it here:

2012 Annual Report

Antenna Shootout, UHF Edition

We’re at it again! Before the August 17 meeting, we invaded the large parking lot we use as an antenna test range once again. This time, we brought UHF antennas, and found that despite their smaller size, they were all very efficient. Don KB3LES brought his double diamond array, which may be small, but packed a big punch! Lars KB3WBT ran his Quagi through its paces, and Joe W3BC made reference measurements of his Rover Yagi.

The antennas all performed so well it was too close to call. Don’s antenna had high gain, and it was in almost all directions, Lars’ quagi had deeper side nulls, but was still “lobey” off the back. Joe’s Rover antenna had plenty of forward gain, but when as little as 15 degrees off the target, the signals went away and stayed away.

Don’s antenna had the smallest turning radius, and its wide beamwidth and high gain is perfect for net and repeater operations. It would be particularly well-suited to talking to mobiles, since its wide-pattern coverage would blanket an area better than any other antenna we tested. Plus it was the most unique looking of the bunch! Lars’ quagi was very lightweight being made of PVC pipe, and was easily portable. It would make a great antenna for working distant repeaters. Joe’s Rover antenna was showing the effects of bouncing down hundreds of miles of back roads on countless contest roving missions. A couple of the elements were loose, and could be heard and seen on the receiver as they flopped around in the breeze. It certainly meets its design requirement of hearing only what it’s pointed at, and rejecting strong contest QRM from off the sides and back. Mechanically though, it needs some maintenance before it falls apart, and perhaps a sturdier redesign to keep the elements where they belong.

The exercise could be called a “quest for truth” and there were many truths revealed, even by the simplistic testing methodology we used. Given more time, and more attention to little details, some very accurate results could be obtained, but in our assembly-line session, we learned a lot, and got a good idea of the performance of each antenna under test. We will add these techniques to our inventory, and we’ll certainly be doing more antenna testing in the future.

After we ran out of UHF antennas, we switched the remote transmitter to VHF, and tested Lars’ latest creation—a 5 element two meter antenna that uses metal arrow shafts for elements. It is a clean-looking antenna, and initial test results showed it to have good gain and a very smooth pattern. After twirling it around the compass and recording received signal strengths, we gave it a real test—we dialed up a distant beacon and pointed the antenna its way.

Sure enough we heard a carrier, and then the CW id of WA1ZMS on 144.285 MHz, located on a 4200 foot mountaintop in Virginia, some 253 miles to the south!

The net result was that all the antennas were winners! Every one of them had plenty of gain to pick up the weakest signals, while the off-axis signal sensitivity or rejection differed, making each antenna suitable for a different purpose. That diversity is what makes Amateur Radio so much fun, and gives us choices to meet our operating needs.

Not to mention that everyone there had a lot of fun!

See You at Field Day 2012

The Community House on the Clearfield Fairgrounds

The Quad-County ARC would be delighted to welcome you to our Field Day operation. We are located in the Community Building on the Clearfield County Fairgrounds. Here is a map and directions.

Directions:

    From US-322 turn onto Weaver Street at (A).
    Drive to the Fairgrounds Gate at 700 Weaver Street (B).
    Say the magic words “Ham Radio” to get in free, then…
    Turn left immediately and park near (C).
    Our Field Day operation is in the yellow brick house immediately in front of you!

Hope to see you there!