Amateur radio in the news: School Club Roundup, Berkeley ARC turns 100, Morse Code wall

For Two Rivers School students, amateur transmission brings a window on a wider world. Two Rivers School in North Bend (WA) became a ham radio station for a day, Feb. 12 during the nationwide School Club Roundup event. Middle school teacher Joe Burgener, with assistance and equipment from parent volunteer Stephen Kangas, introduced students to the world of amateur radio, from the science of radio waves, to the regulations for amateur operators, to the hands-on work of hanging antennae, and finally, to the actual operation of the radio equipment. Students spoke with several operators in California and one at the North Pole during the day.

Students at Two Rivers School in North Bend, WA participate in the School Club Roundup.

UC Berkeley Radio Club going strong at 100The Bay Area might be a hotbed of high technology, but low technology has its fans, too. Just ask the UC Berkeley Amateur Radio Club. It’s been around 100 years, and its members don’t mind a little dust and rust on their tech. “I think the old equipment is really cool and retro,” says club member and electrical-engineering major Andy Hu. “I’m still fascinated by the profundity that an electrical signal can leave the radio in front of me, travel up a wire to an antenna outside, and someone halfway around the world with an antenna outside connected to their radio can hear my voice and talk with me,” says club member Bill Mitchell, a chemistry graduate student.
Union Station Wall Represents Song Lyrics in Morse Code. An interesting-looking bumpy, yellow structure inside Union Station in D.C. represents a lot more than the naked eye might notice. As it turns out, the bumps are morse code representations of the lyrics from Death Cab for Cutie tune “Soul Meets Body.”

Delta Division survey provides insight into clubs

In a LinkedIn discussion about grant writing for amateur radio clubs, I learned about a membership survey done by the ARRL’s Delta Division. There’s a big section on clubs and club activities. Here are a few bullet points from the executive summary:

  • Clubs and the experiences that League members have in them constitute important elements shaping both amateur’s behavior and assessments of membership. Almost two-thirds (65%) say they are a member of at least one local club. The median distance to their nearest club is 9 miles, irregardless of their membership status. By comparison, the average commute to work in the US is almost one hour. Comparing ARRL Affiliated Club locations with those of the survey respondents using GIS methods, the objective distance to a club does not appear to have an important relationship to membership even though it was the second highest reason given for non-membership.
  • What does affect membership appears to be the availability of time to participate and the quality of club leadership. Life cycle demands involving work and family obligations are tied to age and marital/parental status. These periods reduce the potential for many to seek membership in clubs. Leadership which allows or even fosters a hostile political environment and which does not plan and conduct interesting educational activities sponsored by the club are the most reported signs of poorly-evaluated leadership in the Delta Division.
  • Club leadership is rated very positively by many Division club members. There appears to be a segment of clubs, however, who have lost members due to poor leadership and perhaps a lack of leadership training for succession in club leadership roles. 

For the full report, go to

From my Twitter feed: club resources

arrl's avatarARRL @arrl
ARRL Atlantic Division Adds Resources to Aid Amateur Radio Clubs: The ARRL Atlantic Division leadership has cr…

Atlantic Division director Bill Edgar, N3LLR, is truly one of the directors that knows what he’s doing.


qrparci's avatarQRP ARCI @qrparci
The Rockmite is back ! A HF transceiver with built in keyer for $40 –][.… #hamr #hamradio #qrp

The Rockmite is a classic. If you haven’t built any kits lately, consider picking up one of these and doing so.


AlanAtTek's avatar

Alan Wolke W2AEW @AlanAtTek
Lots of folks liked my “how to test BJTs” video, and asked for a similar one on MOSFETs. Here it is:…Another great W2AEW video. I don’t know how he has time to do these, but they’re certainly worth watching.

Amateur radio in the news: HS ham club, hamfest (rally) in Harwell

Brad’s Beat: Joplin High School Ham Radio ClubStudents at Joplin High School are embracing a technology more than 100 years old. More than 20 students have enrolled in the Ham Radio Club. They’re all studying how to get their license to broadcast. Their teacher is Richard Banks, who has been broadcasting (sic) for more than 25 years. He says many students tend to embrace technology, even if it’s a bit older. The students say talking on ham radio is a lost art of communication, which is better than texting. 

Headwaters Amateur Radio Club makes air waves. Technology is a great thing, but of course, sometimes it can have its flaws. For instance, what if your car breaks down, but you can’t call a tow truck because there is no cell phone service? What if a large storm knocks out all power and there are people who need help? The solution to the problem, and many other communication related issues, is an easy one, and one that may not be on the top of everyone’s minds: amateur radios.

Radio hams put faces to voices at electronics rally (that’s what they call a hamfest in the UK). More than 500 radio fans better used to speaking to each other over the airwaves met face-to-face in Didcot. The radio enthusiasts from all over the UK gathered at Didcot Leisure Centre in Mereland Road for an amateur radio and electronics rally on Sunday.

Creating Strong Clubs

Being a member of both an amateur radio club and a Rotary club, I often compare the two. One of the things that Rotary International does that the ARRL fails to do is to actually provide their clubs with training and materials on how to make the clubs stronger.

The January 2014 issue of the e-mail newsletter Rotary Leader includes the article “Creating a Strong Club.” It suggests that you should treat your members as customers. While I’m not totally sold on that particular idea, the article does include a list of common mistakes that clubs make with regard to membership. They are:

  • Focusing on recruiting new members, while neglecting engagement.
  • Forcing new members to adapt to the club and not thinking about how the club can adapt to new members.
  • Failing to understand the needs of new members.
  • Blaming new members for dropping out rather than evaluating what the new members need.

I do like this list, although I’d probably change #1 to read, “Failing to proactively recruit new members.”

Newsletter of the month: LCARC’s Tuned Circuit

Every month, I send out a column to more than 325 amateur radio club newsletter editors. It just occurred to me that I should feature some of there here on my blog. This month, I’ve stayed close to home (Ann Arbor, MI) and am featuring The Tuned Circuit of the L’Anse Creuse Amateur Radio Club.

L'Anse Creuse Tuned Circuit

This sixteen-page newsletter features a lot of club news, including items on their upcoming swap on Sunday, December 8,  their Christmas party, recent repeater maintenance, and a schedule of club nets. The LCARC seems to be quite an active club!

There’s also news of other local amateur radio events. There’s a column listing test sessions around Southeast Michigan and another listing upcoming swaps in the area. That’s great news for LCARC members.

If you would like to get my column for your newsletter, simply click here and fill out the form. That will get you on my mailing list. I generally send out the column the last week of (almost) every month.

The Logger’s Bark

As many of you know, I write and send out a free monthly column for amateur radio club newsletters. One of fun things about doing this is that I get to read newsletters from all over the country, as many put me on their electronic mailing lists.


This month, Mike, W7MWF, sent me the latest edition of The Logger’s Bark, the newsletter of the Radio Club of Tacoma (WA). In his “From the Editor” column, Mike explains how the newsletter got its name:

An interesting (to me, anyway) tidbit came along a few weeks ago. How did The Logger’s Bark get its name??

As it was explained to me, way back in the olden days before computer logging, contesting was a bit more different and hectic. A crew of folks were on duty supporting the operators by maintaining old- fashioned paper logs. Since during contests penalties were sometimes assessed for duplicate entries, an important function of the logger was to advise the operator when his or her contact was a “dupe.”

Upon hearing a call sign that had already been recorded, the Logger would bark out loudly “DUPE” to the operator, thereby passing on the information that the QSO could be curtailed. Thus arose the term “Logger’s Bark.”

Well, Mike, I found that tidbit interesting, too.

Mike also mentioned that his club is celebrating its 100th anniversary in October of 2016, and I gleaned from their newsletter that their membership is right around the 300 mark. Sounds like a great club to me!

IRTS Promotes Clubs

IRTSI forget exactly where I found out about the EI8IJ Fund, which promotes amateur radio clubs in Ireland, but when I did read about it, I thought, “What a great idea!” Here’s how the Irish Radio Transmitting Society (IRTS) website describes the EI6IJ Fund:

Each year, in order to promote Amateur Radio to the public, the Committee will consider the awarding of a number of grants to Affiliated Clubs. These grants will primarily be funded by a kind donation by the late John O’Riordan EI6IJ. The grants will be of around €300, usually not exceeding a total of €1000 in any one year, and are to assist with the mounting of public special event stations by clubs affiliated to IRTS. The stations should have significant public exposure with the specific intention of demonstrating Amateur Radio to members of the public. The funds may be allocated in one or more grants, or not at all, depending on the nature of applications received.

The ARRL continually pays lips service to clubs, but rarely do they ever put their money where their mouth is. Perhaps instead of spending so much time and effort to raise funds for W1AW, they should spend some of that loot on a program such as this which will reach many more people.

If your club could apply for such a grant, how would you use the money?

Amateur radio in the news: VOIP, emcomm, clubs

More kids should get the idea that amateur radio can still lead to a good career in tech…Dan

Vonage co-founder: VoIP came from ham radio, big bad telecoms At TwilioCon, Vonage co-founder Jeff Pulver gave a fascinating keynote about ham radio, getting fired, and a run-in with the FBI — and how all that gave birth to modern voice over Internet protocol technology. Pulver is widely recognized as a pioneer of VoIP technology and was the chief writer of the FCC’s first VoIP ruling.His current company is a Twilio-based iOS and Android app called Zula, created to enable better communication among teams. “It was amateur radio that unlocked my connection to voice over IP,” he said.

Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators help in emergency. When disaster strikes and traditional telecommunications services are curtailed, who do emergency responders call? A Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators.

This is a nice profile of a club in Maryland….Dan

Hamming it up on the air. For Rob Hoyt, president of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club, his interest in amateur radio started when he was a kid. But he credits his hobby for leading to a successful career.

Activity Report: Dayton, General class, Mini Maker Faire, Monroe hamfest

I realized the other day that I haven’t really been reporting on my own amateur radio activities lately. At first, I thought it was because I hadn’t really done much lately, but that’s not really true. So, here’s a report of some recent activity.

U-M ARC celebrates 100 years. The University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club recently celebrated it’s 100th anniversary. I helped them celebrate by operating during their special event on April 14th, 2013. The event was held on the  Central Campus Diag, and recognized the University’s first licensing as station 8XA in June of 1913. It was really cold and rainy that day, and the bands were pretty bad, but they had some hot coffee and donuts, and we had fun anyway.

Dayton 2013

In some ways, Dayton was kind of a washout for me. I came down with some  kind of stomach flu a couple of days before Dayton, and was even considering not going at all, but since I enjoy FDIM, and I was scheduled to speak at the  instructor’s forum on Friday morning, I decided to go.

As usual, FDIM was a blast. There were lots of good ideas being thrown around. I especially enjoyed the talk on receiver design by Rick, KK7B, and the talk on baluns by Rick, W7EL. They were all very good, though. The QRP-ARCI does a very good job lining up speakers.

I even participated in Vendor Night. Between talks, they had asked for volunteers to help set up tables for the vendors. It occurred to me that, if it didn’t cost much, I could show the CD-ROMs that I’d brought with me and pass the word about my free downloads. Well, it turned out that it didn’t cost a thing, so I asked for and they gave me a table.

I didn’t really expect to sell anything, as most of the folks there I’m sure had Extra Class licenses, but I did manage to sell one, and to talk to a lot of people about the study guides. So, overall, it worked out great.

On Friday, the entire morning was taken up, getting my speaker badge and then participating in the instructor’s forum. My talk about conducting one-day Tech classes went pretty well, but the forum didn’t end until noon, leaving me only five hours to peruse the flea market. That’s a fair amount of time, but I still wasn’t 100%, and my heart wasn’t really in it. I ended up buying not a single thing.

Saturday morning, I decided not to go to the Hamvention and just to pack it up and head home. I guess thinking about it, it wasn’t a complete washout, but I certainly didn’t get as much out of Dayton as I have in years past.

General class
I started a teaching a General Class course on Thursday evenings at the Hands-On Museum a couple of weeks ago. It’s a small class, but they’re enthusiastic. I am, of course, using my study guide as the text. Doing this has shown me how I can improve the next edition. I’ll be beefing up the explanations in a few spots and moving some things around.

Mini Maker Faire 2013 a success. This year’s Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire was held about a month ago, and if you ask me, it was a great success. As we have done for the past several years, Dave N8SBE and I anchored the station, and Prem KD8SVR, one of my recent Tech students joined us.

The table they first assigned us was inside, with no clear path for our coax to get outside to the antennas. After some negotiation, we found ourselves relocated outside. Then, once Dave had gotten his K3 gear all set up, they decided to move us again! We finally got settled about 10:45 am.

We got the usual type of visitors:

  • Those who were already hams. They stopped by to ragchew a little.
  • Inactive hams. We tried to get them energized to get back on the air. One of these was KA8ODD. What a great call!
  • Interested people. I passed out my card liberally, pointing them to my free study guide.
  • Not-so-interested people. I at least tried to get them and/or their kids to send their name in Morse Code.

One thing that I found interesting is how some people seem to naturally take to Morse Code while others do not. For those who have a natural fist, I can easily make out their names when they send it by looking up the characters on the code chart. When I do copy a name, I reach out my hand and say, “Hi, John (or Mary or whomever). Nice to meet you.” They seem to be amused that I was able to figure out their name from their sending.

Unfortunately, not everyone is a natural. If I can’t make out the name, I smile and say, “Good job!”

Monroe hamfest
Yesterday morning, I drove town to Monroe for a hamfest. It’s a small hamfest, but fun. Every time I’ve gone, the weather’s cooperated, and this is important because most of the sellers are outside. Yesterday, the temperature was in the upper 60s, and the sky started out overcast, but as the morning progressed, the sky cleared, and it was just beautiful.

I almost bought a Jones paddle for $75, but since I really don’t need another paddle, I put off the purchase until I was about ready to leave. By the time I got back to that seller, he’d already sold it to someone else. I’m more than OK with this. I saved 75 bucks! I did end up buying some PL-259s and some 3.5mm stereo plugs. As Ralph would say, this was the “requisite handful of connectors.”