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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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 Protocol (VOIP) was added. More information will follow as we decipher some of the information and operational aspects of this new mode.NodeQSLScreen2

In case you didn’t hear, one of the first QSOs was a 3,565 mile digital contact with a station in England. The English ham was traveling to his home QTH while we were heading down the road in Du Bois, after the brainstorming session of getting the WIRES-X operational. Seeing the information showing a station that was just over 3500 miles away displayed on the radio’s display was quite a surprise!

The contacts are not totally automatic, you actually have to initiate a connection with one of the many WIRES-X nodes around the world. The connection can be made with either a Yaesu FTM-400 in digital mode or, as it it setup on the 147.315 repeater, any analog FM two-meter transceiver with a DTMF keypad (otherwise know as a touch-tone pad) connected to the transceiver. The digital connection to WIRES-X on the repeater is not available as it is set for analog only so that all can use it. You need to know the node number of the location that you want to connect, enter that on the DTMF keypad and the connection should be established. The digital mode displays much more information and has much more utility as well but as mentioned the digital radio is not needed, even a hand-held 2 meter rig can activate and use the system.

This is just a brief overview of the WIRES-X system, there will be much more to come on this website and at the QCARC regular meetings. Stay tuned for some very interesting experiences with WIRES-X!

 

January 16 article addition

I expect there are more questions about WIRES-X, since the announcement at the January Club meeting. Even though I was half of the team that set it up, I still have questions. The best place to begin to learn about the operation is to go directly to the Yaesu WIRES-X web site. Toward the left top of the page you will notice several tabs to connect to information that will better describe what WIRES-X is all about. The member log-in is for registered node users, you don’t need to worry about that part.

The three main information tabs:
The “What is WIRES-X?” tab gives an overview of the system.
The “User page” tab has a very good description, with good pictorials, of the way the system operates. Keep in mind this shows a digital radio operation but it is informative for both digital and analog modes.
The “WIRES-X ID list” tab will take you to the page that lists all of the WIRES-X nodes around the world and you’ll be able to see if there are any located near a city that you may want to talk to. You can sort the lists by clicking on the header for each column: call sign, city, state, country. Keep in mind the node list changes everyday as new nodes are registered.

The 147.315, N3QC repeater WIRES-X system is operating in the analog mode so that everyone can use it.

Stay tuned for more information as it relates to the N3QC/R WIRES-X system.

 

January 21, 2016 article addition

The WIRES-X room node will be connected for the time being. This should enable any one who connects to be able to more easily to use the system. To connect to a node room at a distant location, you will need a DTMF, touch-tone pad, on your microphone or hand-held, then you will need to know the node room number, available on the Yaesu WIRES-X web site . Remember to select the WIRES-X ID list tab to view the node number list.

 

February 3, 2016 article addition

So far the WIRES-X connection has served us well. I think that one of the biggest advantages that I’ve heard is that folks who may have moved from the area may now have the opportunity to get into the local repeater and talk to others they know. This has been proven out with K3AHS, Ed who is able to get into the 147.315 repeater, from his home in Texas, to check into the Sunday net and at other times to talk to hams who are in the area that he grew up.

The local room node is still connected, no issues appear to have resulted in the full time connection. In order to connect to another node you first need to disconnect from the local room by pressing the ” * ” touch-tone pad button. Then listen for the disconnect acknowledgement of an “H” in CW (4 dots, they’re sent fast). Once you hear the “H” enter the node room number of the distant location with a leading ” # “, via the touch-tone pad, to connect then talk to hams from that area.  Remember to read up on the information contained in the above links. This is a system where skimming or guessing just will not work, you have to play by the WIRES-X rules! Remember to play by the FCC rules too and identify when connecting to the nodes.

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Millcreek Adventure Race

triathlon-sign-image-300x244The Millcreek Adventure Race, sponsored by the Brookville YMCA, is set for June 4, 2016.

Chuck Shaffer, KC3EAJ has requested amateurs to provide public service communications for this race. His main focus is the orienteering course between Millcreek & Frozen Toe.

The actual race covers eighty four miles and there are opportunities for as many ham operators to participate as arrive to assist. Chuck will find a place for you. It would be great if 4-5 hams would make it out to assist with the race.

This will be the second year Amateur Radio has been requested to assist with this race. However, if you have helped with the northern leg of the Baker Ultra Challenge, you will recognize much of the terrain. There are safety checkpoints, and orienteering points that he would like covered.

The race starts at 7 a.m. with an 8-mile run in a loop around the Millcreek Boat Launch area just outside of Strattanville. From there, the opening runner tags off to a swimmer who goes on a 2-mile round trip before tagging to the next teammate who bikes 23 miles from Millcreek to Cook Forest State Park at the Clarion River bridge.

The biker then tags a kayaker who boats back to Millcreek some 12 miles away. An orienteer duo or individual awaits the Kayaker there for a 10-12 mile trip to find three checkpoints in the forest between Millcreek and Frozen Toe, which is just north of Corsica.

The final stage starts at Frozen Toe where the successful orienteer team tags off to the anchor leg, who finishes the day on a 9.74-mile run into Brookville and the finish line at the YMCA.

ANY radio amateurs wishing to help with this Public Service Event, Please contact me at KA3YCB@ ARRL.net.

Kevin Snyder, KA3YCB

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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

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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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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.

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Silent Key: Doug Rowles W3DWR

Doug Obit
It is with sadness that the Quad-County Amateur Radio Club notes the passing of Douglas A. Rowles W3DWR, 72 of Morrisdale, PA on Friday, January 2, 2015 at UPMC-Shadyside in Pittsburgh, PA. Doug was currently serving the club as a member of the Executive Board, and was an a frequently serving officer of the club, having recently held office as Treasurer and President. Doug was also the Net manager, and a fixture at club activities including public service events, contests, dinners, banquets, breakfasts and meetings.Doug served as Facilities Coordinator for the annual Field Day event held every June.

Doug was an enthusiastic supporter of operation on the VHF and UHF bands, including repeaters, and simplex operations, as well as single sideband operations on Six and two meters. He was part of the “WIT Team” – a group of club members focused on VHF contesting led by Gary Boucher W3GNR, and with the group scored first place an numerous VHF contests through thhe early 1980s.

Doug is survived by his brother, Jeff KA3FHV who resided with Doug at their home in Morrisdale. Funeral arrangements are being provided by the Chidboy Funeral Home in Curwensville. Viewing will be on Tuesday, January 6, 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm, and on Wednesday, January 7 from 10-11 am, with services following.

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Using the Digital Repeater

(From the handout at the March 21, 2014 Club program)

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 transmits into the repeater. If you want to use the repeater, just talk as you have in the past. The repeater has the capability to 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.

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The Hamshack Net Moves To WAN-RS

During the month of January, the Hamshack Net has moved to the WAN Repeater System. Testing will continue all month. Meet us there every Wednesday at 7:00 pm on a WAN repeater near you!

The wide availibility of WAN repeaters should allow handheld users an opportunity to check in by using a local repeater instead of DXing the 147.315 machine which may be dozens of miles away!

Here is a recording of the first session (6.5MB download)
This is the second WAN session, January 9, 2013 (12.7 MB)

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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!

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70 Cm Net

The Quad-County Amateur Radio Club 70 Cm net debuted Sunday April 1 five minutes after the conclusion of the QCARC 2 meter net. 12 stations checked in.

We will do this again on Sunday, April 8th. Please consider joining us. We will be using the K3EDD repeater on 444.625. The purpose of the net is to familiarize area amateurs with the characteristics and capabilities of the 70 Cm band. So circle your calendar and prepare to join in!

You might be surprised to see how well UHF works with today’s equipment!

SUSPENDED AT REQUEST OF 444.625 REPEATER OWNER

RESUMED June 3 on 443.475 N5NWC Repeater

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Group Purchase: Baofeng UV-3R Dual-Band HT

NEW Baofeng UV-3R Dual-Band HT

I will be ordering 5-unit lots of Baofeng UV-3R HTs from China as orders come in. The cost is $46.00 per radio, shipped. I will program them with all the local ham radio frequencies of interest free of charge. (If you prefer to do it yourself, here’s the file: QC-Ham)

I can also obtain spare batteries at $3.95 each. Better deal: I found a supplier of 1800 mAH batteries for $4.00 each, which gives 20% longer battery life for a nickel more!!!

These prices are for 5 units or more, so orders will be held until I get at least 5.

Please note, these are the improved “Mark II” version with the dual frequency display and 19 menu functions. Color (red, blue, yellow or camo) units are $49.00 each and take longer to ship (two weeks). The regular ones take a few days. The first group order was for 8, I expect them to be here in time for the Meeting Friday.

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The Hamshack Net

From your shack to ours, we’re starting a new ragchew net on Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm on the 147.315 repeater. This informal net will give everybody the opportunity to say hello to old friends and new, and fill everybody in on the latest happenings at your QTH. If you are within the coverage of the N3QC Repeater, we hope you’ll join in the fun this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

After the callup, we’ll take mobile check-ins, followed by weaker and distant stations. Then the big boys can play. Once we have our list, we’ll start things going round the list and keep going until everybody falls asleep or the electric company pulls the plug! Let’s all give this a try and see how it goes!

Club membership isn’t required — everyone who can key the repeater is welcome! (Although why not join the club? It’s cheap!)

UPDATE! First Session a Success!

We had 8 checkins for our first session which lasted the better part of an hour. The topic was, “How’s DX?” and we had a nice roundtable. Here’s a recording:
2011-10-25 Hamshack Net

Help Wanted

This is a simple and friendly net. You can be the net control station for a month. The entire format fits on a 4×6 index card. If you would like to volunteer for a month, (or even just a week to give it a try) contact our Quad-COunty ARC Net Manager Doug W3DWR.

Here’s the PDF of the net format!

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