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Plans for 2019

Over the past year it’s been mentioned several times that our club needs new ideas, new activities, maybe even a whole new focus. Participation in club activities is falling. But what should we do? We haven’t really been able to answer that. So I’ve started asking some questions, and here’s what I now know.

First, I’ve heard from several current and former members that they want less focus on Emcomm, and more focus on other on-air activities. While emcomm is an important aspect of the amateur radio service, I propose that we focus a little less on it, at least for a while. A second thing I’ve been told is that club members want to feel more personally involved in the club, through hands-on activities and “Get On The Air” events. Third, we need to get new hams involved in the club. We need to appeal to the newer hams, and show them the value of being part of the club.

As your club’s president, I decided that I need to take the initiative to try to solve these problems. Here’s my idea.

BCARC Goes Back To The Basics

Starting in January, I propose that we shift the Club’s focus to “the basics of ham radio”. We’ve had some classes and test sessions that have produced new hams, but most of them don’t seem to stick with us. That’s our fault. We were forgetting what it was like when we first got interested in the hobby and wanted to learn more.

I had several good Elmer’s that taught me a lot of things that helped me get on the air and discover new modes and activities. Without them, I likely never would have gotten licensed, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have stuck with it. Two of my friends in high school got licensed at the same time as me, but they didn’t have Elmer’s. Neither of them remained active in the hobby.

Do our new hams have Elmer’s? If not, why can’t the Club be their Elmer? Let’s help our new members learn things like how to operate on 2m and HF. Teach them what they need to get their station set up, and once they have a station, how to operate it. There’s a lot of knowledge among our current membership that needs to be shared with the newer hams.

This idea came to me while I was helping a friend study for their ham license. This friend knew very little about Ham Radio outside of what she’d seen on TV and in movies, but it looked fun and she wanted to learn more. That’s when she approached me and asked for help. Throughout the process of helping her study for the test, I remembered back to my early days and realized that the test is only the first obstacle on the journey to becoming a ham radio operator. Once I had my ticket, then what? How do I pick my first radio? How do I go about making that very first on-air contact? Who can help me when things go wrong? Who can I turn to when I have a “dumb question”? My Elmer’s. And that’s when I realized this plan for getting back to the basics. Let’s make our club “the friendly, helpful club” for new hams that are just starting out and need help.

I’ve put together a tentative plan for monthly meetings in 2019. In addition to those plans, I hope to hold regular VE Test Sessions throughout the year. My proposed topics are: radio programming, station setup, basic tools and test equipment, computer control, QSL’ing, learning to solder, RF connectors and cables, kit building, antenna building, Field Day (summer and winter), and whatever else YOU want to see covered.

Feel free to share any of your ideas and feedback with me. I want to make our club better for everyone!

73, WØHC

Field Day 2018

Update June 27, 2018

We had around 20 people attend our Field Day event, including one person who came specifically to learn more about the hobby with the hope of getting licensed soon. We found one of our radios was not working, and repaired a broken HF antenna. We enjoyed great food and shared good fellowship, and most importantly we had fun!

Buchanan County Amateur Radio Club to host Field Day event in Independence on June 23.

“This year’s event will get tens of thousands of radio amateurs out into their communities – and on the air.”

BCARC Logo

On June 23, 2018, approximately 40,000 hams across North America will participate in “Field Day”, which some consider the single most popular on-the-air event held each year.

Hams will move radio equipment, erect antennas, and spend as much as 27 hours operating in remote locations, contacting stations across the country and around the world.

Why would they do that?

Field Day is the largest demonstration and simulation of ham radio’s capabilities in the event of a disaster. It shows that hams are able to communicate even when there is no power available, the cell towers are down, and emergency communications systems are overloaded or even completely wiped out. On Field Day hams show how they can use a variety of communications modes to support communications among multiple agencies in the wake of a disaster.

Field Day also allows the promotion of amateur radio to local emergency management agencies, law enforecement, and the general public. It gives people the opportunity to actually see ham radio in operation.

Besides that, it’s a lot of fun!

BCARC welcome’s the public to come learn more about ham radio!

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

Public Demonstration of Emergency Communications at Field Day

The Buchanan County Amateur Radio Club (BCARC) will demonstrate Amateur Radio at the Emergency Services Annex, 2109 205th Street, Independence on Saturday, June 23 from 1-4pm. This is during the ARRL annual Field Day event. They invite the public to come and see new ham radio capabilities and learn how to get an FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes. Local hams who wish to participate are also welcome. The objective of this year’s Field Day is to work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.

Despite the Internet, cell phones, email and modern communications, every year regions find themselves in the dark. Tornadoes, fires, storms, ice and even the occasional cutting of fiber optic cables leave people without the means to communicate. In these cases, the one consistent service that has never failed has been amateur radio. These radio operators, often called “hams,” provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to FEMA and even for the International Space Station. Local “hams” will join with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities this weekend. Members of BCARC regularly provide communications and other support to Buchanan County Emergency Management.

This annual event, called “Field Day“, is the climax of the week long Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country. Their slogan, “When all else fails, Amateur Radio works” is more than just words to hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without using phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year’s event.

To learn more about amateur radio or how to get started, contact BCARC on the web at www.bcarc.net, or e-mail [email protected]. They can even help you get on the air!

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When All Else Fails Amateur Radio Works

New Indee DMR Repeater

At the January 2017 meeting it was decided that BCARC will purchase a DMR repeater to replace the current 442.900 voice repeater. The budget is approx $1,300 for the repeater and the hardware needed to extend the internet access from the club station at “Green Acres” to the tower site approx 0.4 miles away.

This new DMR repeater will be linked via the Brandmeister DMR Network. This will allow communications across Iowa, the USA, or even worldwide. As of this posting (1/20/2017) there are 4 DMR repeaters in Iowa, with 3 more “Coming Soon”. You can access these DMR repeaters with the Tytera MD380 radios among others. There is a Facebook Group called Iowa DMR DMR Users Group 3119 that has much more information as well as the radio “codeplugs” to get started.

A Motorola XPR8300 Repeater has been ordered and will be delivered to the club once we’ve reached the $1,000 mark of our funding goal.

**UPDATE** As of March 16, 2017 we have fully reached our funding goal!

Motorola XPR8300 DMR UHF repeater, with its duplexer, ready to go to Buchanan County Amateur Radio Club

The repeater is now on the air, but there is a problem with the antenna on the main site and we are using a temporary antenna on the Green Acres tower at 50′.

Last update: 4/19/2017

 

442.900 – KC0RMS/R Independence Repeater

BCARC has added a second Independence Repeater.

The KC0RMS/R 70cm repeater was activated on August 14, 2016. It is located on the same tower NE of Independence as the 2m repeater. The frequency is 442.900 with a CTCSS of 103.5.

Currently we do not have a repeater controller for this, so there is no hang time after you unkey, no courtesy beep, and no ID. If you use it, please ID it. We are currently researching the best low cost option for a controller for this repeater. As we hope to replace this with a better repeater soon, we want to keep the cost minimal.

This repeater is currently running on a pair of Motorola M1225 radios.

 

Independence Repeater

Portable Tower

Here are some photos of our US ARMY “lightplant”, which will become our new portable tower. It has an unusable generator that runs 3 big floodlights. The generator and wiring will need to be removed.  The trailer, tires, and tower are in very solid, usable condition.
It needs a new tongue, new winch, and 4 outriggers to make it safe to erect. I did erect it a bit. It goes to about 35 feet.