QCARC Calendar

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June 2019
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Polls

Should QCARC continue giving VE Exams before club meetings in even months?

  • Yes, but occasionally on other days and times (67%, 2 Votes)
  • Yes (33%, 1 Votes)
  • No (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, with more months (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, but fewer months (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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QC Weather

Partly Cloudy
Monday 12/24/2018 20%
Partly Cloudy
Clearing skies late. Lows overnight in the mid 20s.
Overcast
Tuesday 12/25/2018 10%
Overcast
Cloudy skies. High 33F. Winds light and variable.
Overcast
Wednesday 12/26/2018 20%
Overcast
Cloudy. High 38F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Quad-County Weather Page

Quad-County Special Service Club Renewal Received

The current American Radio Relay League Special Service Club  renewal certificate was received at the August meeting of the QCARC. Members can be proud of the Club’s continuing involvement in Public Service, Training, VE Exams, Mentoring, etc. that enable the Club to continue to maintain the Special Service Club designation.

What is Special Service Club?
To quote the ARRL –

“A club that exists to go above and beyond for their communities and for Amateur Radio is what defines a Special Service Club (SSC).  They are the leaders in their Amateur Radio communities who provide active training classes, publicity programs and actively pursue technical projects and operating activities.”

QC SSC 2015r

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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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Congrats to AA3AZ on 5BDXCC!

Congratulations to Jack AA3AZ for his most recent accomplishment 5 band DXCC

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Christmas Dinner Buffet

The plans have been finalized for the 6:30 PM December 15th dinner. The new owner  of The Arrowhead has initiated a prime rib buffet since purchasing the business. We have agreed on adding a tray of sliced turkey breast and a tray of stuffing to the regular fare. We will have our own table. The price is $13.99. Reservations may be made via email to treasurer@qcarc.org, or by contacting W3DWR after the Sunday night net.

 

 

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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!

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W3TM Wins VHF Contest

Congratulations to Herb Murray, W3TM for taking First Place Rover-Limited in the WPA section in the ARRL June VHF contest. With the help of W3BC, the team made VHF contacts in 54 grids all over the US, from 5 different locations. A lot of hard work and cooperation paid off nicely for the intrepid adventurers as they turned the beams and eked out the weakest signals to successfully make contacts hundreds of miles away on VHF and UHF.

“Band conditions weren’t the greatest,” acknowledges Herb, but the team made the most of it with 109 QSOs, 54 grids worked + 5 grids activated, for a total of 7,257 points. “Since W3SO was having technical difficulties, I said, “Let’s go roving!'” continued Herb.

Working stations hundreds of miles away is a challenge at VHF and UHF frequencies, which are usually used for local communications within a “line of sight” distance. DuringVHF contests and other VHF activities, hams routinely stretch the distance to several hundred miles, far beyond line of sight. Making these long-distance contacts requires sensitive receivers, high-gain antennas, and lots of operating skill. Hams are up to that kind of challenge!

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VK7ZX

I just worked a VK7 station on 20 meter using a g5rv. That’s a distance of  10125.1 mi (16294.8 km). How cool is that?!

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QCARC Spring Banquet

It’s that time of year again—time to put on the old feedbag and spend a night out with your ham radio friends! We will meet in the upstairs Banquet Hall of the DuBois Diner at 6:00 pm on Saturday, May 5. Plenty of free parking in the back of the diner, and you can take the elevator or climb the stairs.

Our guest speaker is Mike Sapp, WA3TTS, a technical writer from Pittsburgh, who will fill us in on his recent work with Amateur Radio beacons, including his world-famous 6-meter beacon on the old KDKA-TV antenna.

The menu is a buffet, featuring Stuffed Chicken Breast and Beef Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots, salad and beverage for $13.99 per person, plus tax and an 18% gratuity. It works out to $17.50 per person.

The main door prize will be a brand-new Baofeng UV-5R dual-band portable transceiver.

Plan on attending one of the best ham radio social activities in the area. We hope to see you there!

Please make a reservation by sending an email to banquet@qcarc.org, or on the air during a net!
(Or fill out the convenient form below and hit the [Submit] button.

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Club Affiliation for Contests

An e-mail, that I received from Sean Kutzko, confirmed that The Quad-County Amateur Radio Club is now entered in the ARRL Contest Club List. When you enter the club affiliation in your log you must spell out “Quad County Amateur Radio Club“, otherwise the entry will not be accepted. Entering “QCARC” will not be accepted.

73 & Happy Contesting
Bryan – WA3UFN

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Hawaii

After months of hunting for Hawaii. Last night during a contest i worked two Hawaii stations. I was starting to think Hawaii was harder to work then the Antarctica. And yes contacts during a contest do count as regular contacts for your log.

 

H Deforest Murray III W3TM

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Meeting Report: June 2011

WWhat else could possibly be the main topic of the June meeting except Field Day? After getting the meeting started, things settled into a businesslike pace as minutes were read, and reports were given. W3BC reported the club’s ARRL Special Service Club status was renewed after many years of inactivity. He further commented that the Field Day Press Release had been picked up and published by several local news outlets, and that a television news camera crew is expected. The subject turned to Field Day, and visitors Lee and Mary Lewis (N3NWL and N3UDN) shared with us some very useful Field Day pointers from their years of experience at putting on a really great Field Day operation in Ridgway.

Hams from four counties gathered at the Clearfield County EMA Center for their June Meeting. Guests helped finalize Field Day plans, newcomers introduced themselves and guest Steve Waltman KB3FPN presented an engaging technology program to round out yet another good old QCARC meeting!

Mike WB3EQW raised the question of why the club covers four counties, and Club Founder Joe W3BC related the history of the Club’s creation and the rationale behind the large geographic area.

Under new business, W3BC suggested a new program for members wishing to do more for the club — the Dime-A-Day Donor Program. Club members may voluntarily contribute an additional $36.50 each year to go toward the Club’s Educational and Outreach programs. In recognition of these voluntary contributions, they will receive the status of “Sustaining Member” and a certificate bearing witness to that fact. Several contributions were given to the Treasurer. 15 members and guests were in attendance.

After the meeting, Coffee and Donuts were enjoyed, and a 50-50 drawing was held.

The program was then presented by Steve Waltman KB3FPN from Brookville, with help from Tom W3KWT. The program was a demonstration of the capabilities of a Communications Monitor, and how amateur transmitters could be tested easily to be sure they measured up to specs.

Photo Gallery

(Click any image to begin slideshow, press [ESC] to stop)

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Quad-County is an ARRL Special Service Club

OON MAY 24, the ARRL renewed the Special Service Club status for the Quad-County Amateur Radio Club. QCARC has been an ARRL Affiliated Club since 1978, and became a Special Service Club in 1985. This renewal indicates the Club’s continuing commitment to providing additional services to its members and the communities it serves.

Is it a big deal? Yeah, it kind of is. Of the 43 ARRL Affiliated Amateur Radio Clubs in the Western Pennsylvania Section, the Quad-County Club is one of only three Special Service Clubs currently listed in the ARRL online Club Directory. Nationwide, only 137 SSC clubs are so designated from 2,000 ARRL Affiliated clubs. The national average is under 7% of all ARRL Affiliates are SSCs.

A Special Service Club is not “bigger and better” than other clubs; the designation is conferred upon those clubs that in addition to the usual ham radio activities have made an extensive effort to reach out to their members and communities, provide education and technological expertise to their members and the public, encourage and assist their members in keeping their operating skills sharp for emergency communications should the need arise, and present Amateur Radio to the public in a positive light, attracting new members and new hams by their activities rather than promoting with empty words.

The following description of Special Service Clubs is from the ARRL:

"TRULY SPECIAL Amateur Radio clubs are well balanced in their programs for serving the community, developing club members’ Amateur Radio skills and social activities, striving each year to build on their successes to improve their effectiveness. The objective of the ARRL’s Special Service Club program is to help good clubs organize and focus their efforts on those things that really count. Being an SSC should mean that members have certain skills, that the club as a group has the ability to improve service inside and outside the Amateur Radio community, and that it does so when needed.

To be accepted under the ARRL SSC program, a club must be actively involved in each of the following areas:

  • New Ham Development and Training

    Purpose: Develop an effective, coordinated program of public relations, recruiting, training and ongoing assistance targeted to prospective hams in your community to foster needed growth in Amateur Radio.

  • Public Relations

    Purpose: Establish an effective Amateur Radio presence in your community, including contact with local media and coverage of your activities; Public Information Officer appointment.

  • Emergency Communications

    Purpose: Club members should become skilled in communicating effectively during communications emergencies and be prepared to assist when needed; Official Emergency Station appointment and participation in ARES.

  • Technical Advancement

    Purpose: Continuing education in the technical aspects of Amateur Radio to ensure that your club members are technically competent, familiar and comfortable with modern radio-electronics technology; Technical Specialist appointment.

  • Operating Activities

    Purpose: Active participation as a club in one or more major operating or operating support activities to ensure that your club maintains a high level of operating skill.

  • Miscellaneous Activities

    Purpose: Every active club has its special interests and activities that make it unique, that give it special personality. At least three such activities are required to become a Special Service Club.”

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