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Club News

ARRL Club News
March 22, 2022
Editor: Michael Walters, W8ZY


Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air and on the air for all of us with the ham radio bug. That means that hamfests are happening and for the first time in a couple of years, hams are starting to come out and meet others. Like Rip Van Winkle, many feel like they are waking from a long nap. The idea that we can meet people in person seems so foreign. It's important to follow health guidelines and you must do only what is safe for you. If you can, get out and participate in a hamfest. I know that I love to browse a good flea market. Public service events are happening, and there is always the opportunity to activate a park or a mountain top.

The fun of amateur radio, at least to me, is the idea that I can get with a few of my friends and go out on a Saturday morning and work from a spot that we have not worked from before. Before Covid-19 there were a couple of Dunkin Donuts-fueled excursions that allowed me to use my FT-817 and a portable antenna. I want to do that again and I might soon. I consider myself lucky because I work in a job that revolves around ham radio. Of course, it is still a job, but I tend to talk and think about the many aspects of the hobby most of the day. Right now, I am working on a small, portable digital rig to go with my QRP radio. The smaller the better, as long as it's still be functional for a guy that wears bifocals. It is never too soon to start planning for Field Day. Is your club doing Field Day in the field this year? This has always been my favorite weekend of the year. I want to work many of you on the air and help you get Connecticut in your log. Get out and have some fun!

Fire Excellence Award in Virginia

On February 23rd, 2022, at the Virginia Fire and Rescue Conference, the Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service (CARS) club received the Civilian Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support award. The club was nominated for the award by Fire Chief Ed Elliott. In his nomination letter, the Chief said, "I cannot nominate a more deserving group of people than our Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service team for this award. While their members are not affiliated with the fire service, the critical service they provide greatly enhances the capability of both the fire and police departments should normal communication systems be disabled due to a severe weather event." Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin also recognized the CARS radio amateurs in his by stating in his press release, "They are a group of highly skilled, community-minded volunteers working diligently to help protect the citizens of Virginia from the devastating effects of environmental disasters." The amateur radio operators of CARS have been associated with the City of Chesapeake for over 25 years. They started with only a small table in a firehouse and grew to a small office about the size of a closet. Today, the club occupies a separate room in the EOC and trains new EmComm operators by participating in communications drills.

The amateur radio station operates from a 200-foot tower at the rear of the facility. A communication building at the base of the tower contains two software-defined radios, an HF amplifier, and VHF/UHF transverters. An Ethernet link to the radio room in the EOC gives the operators a facility close to the activity of the EOC, while operating the station remotely. This station also gives the City of Chesapeake the ability to support communications with local evacuation shelters and the Richmond Department of Emergency Management. All amateur radio modes are provided on all the bands, with an emphasis on digital Winlink communications. Every Wednesday and Thursday, the amateur radio operators participate in Winlink electronic email communications over the HF and UHF bands. The station also provides relay services for local Winlink email messages, when not being used for other functions. In addition to supporting the City of Chesapeake EOC, the CARS club owns and maintains VHF repeaters in the Greenbrier section of the city (146.820 MHz and 444.000 MHz) and a city owned amateur repeater system in the Bower's section of Chesapeake (146.610 MHz). The club supports local youth interested in Amateur Radio by operating the K4AMG VHF repeater (145.150 MHz) at Great Bridge High School in the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake.

York County ARS Supports Sandblast Rally

The 2022 Sandblast Rally wrapped up with a lot of ham radio support for the March 5 event, held outside of Cheraw, South Carolina, with the central rally point of Patrick. Many Ham operators were there to help provide coverage of the large area of off-road rally courses in the Sand Hills of South Carolina. The nine stages of the rally are spread out across 50 square miles, sharing three linked repeaters on the PALSNet (Palmetto Amateur Linked System Network) to help cover the area of the Sandhills State Forest. This forested rally used ham operators from around the state, with other ham operators traveling from outside the state, to be able to connect the rally courses to the central Net Control in Patrick. Mary Hunt, N4MH, and her husband Tom, KA3VVJ, were our net control operators for the day; and kept order among the 55 amateur radio operators from around the southeast who volunteered 12-hours of their day for this event. We were all there to provide the necessary safety functions like blocking roads and limiting access to the rally course, monitoring any safety concerns with the track, keeping up with rally cars and motorcycles as they passed should we lose one, and ensuring spectators were safely out of the way and enjoying the event. Communicating any safety concerns is key in any event and is critical for ones that are as spread out as Sandblast Rally.

It all started with our two pre-race online meetings earlier in the week. The first one just for radio operators and the second one was for all volunteers including radio operators. Then on Friday, March 4, we had a registration where volunteers signed in and confirmed their involvement. Saturday morning starts early (6:20 AM) for report time out to the course. Once there, you get ready by setting up your roadblock to ensure no one passes by you to get on the course. You hold your spot until you are released from your position from net control, or the Rally Officials, and the course is back to public use again. We came as a group from the York County Amateur Radio Society (YCARS) and providing eight hams to support Sandblast. It allowed us an opportunity to meet the night before and eat and laugh and discuss the plans for those who were new to the rally. I can say we were all excited and ready Saturday morning.

This year was full of exciting moments during the day. We had one of our course cars called the "Zero" Car (a car that makes a pre-run of the track before racers) have a wreck, and roll over. All were ok, and the Heavy Sweep truck was able to come to get it off the course before that stage started. Then we had another competitor's car catch fire on a different stage, causing some excitement for the team, for the rally sponsors, and the other competitors who were trying to get past it. The car was a total loss, but the driver and navigator got out safely and were okay. Of course, we are there for spectators too, should anyone need assistance and make sure they are watching are safe and out of harm's way.

Without those hams communicating in this remote area with limited (or no) cell service at given points, it would have made this event impossible to operate. With the knowledge and understanding of ham radio operators, we can assist the rally sponsors in pulling off an event that was safe and fun for all in attendance. The experience we get from being part of this event leaves us with an understanding of the complexity of a rally. Better yet we gain of memories of old friends reunited and new friends made, plus the fun of watching a live race. And maybe some dust eating is in the mix as the racers pass us by, traveling up to 80 mph. Any way you look at it, it was a beautiful day hanging out in nature, as racers came flying by while we played radio.

Meeting Resources

Anyone that has been involved with a club knows that it is a challenge coming up with meeting materials and presentations. Club meetings should be more than just listening to the repeater and treasurer reports. Here at ARRL Headquarters, we get requests all the time to speak at meetings. Unfortunately, there are only so many of us and resources are thin. However, we can offer clubs the ARRL Learning Center as a resource. There you will find a list of presentations on a variety of topics. The recordings can be used at a club meeting, even a virtual meeting. Most have a contact for additional information, and they are all. The only requirement is that whoever logs into the Learning Center must be an ARRL member. Their ARRL website credentials will get them in. Check it out and try it for a meeting. The address is Most of the content in the webinars section is the perfect length for a club meeting. You will also find training programs and educational materials for the member and the club.

Are You Willing to Help Clubs?

You may have heard of the ARRL Foundation Club Grants Program. More information is coming on that, but one part of the program that you may not have heard about, is a new project to provide help to clubs who are seeking grants. This is is being launched along with the grants program. It entails two distinct types of club mentors.

The first is the Club Grants Coach.

This is a person that can collaborate with a club to help them create or refine a grant application. As grant applications come in there will be some that need assistance with the process. This person should be able to work with a club to help visualize and present their ideas for a grant. They will not be responsible for writing the applications, but they will be helping the clubs get organized and through the application process. Grants Coaches will start work after the first round of applications.

The second is a Club Mentor.

This person will work with a club that may be struggling to survive, helping them reorganize or structure programs to help the club grow. Some clubs are on virtual life support and can benefit from a Mentor to help them develop new outlooks and ideas and execute a rebuilding program for their club.

Both positions will receive training in the processes that they will need to do the jobs and will be supported by the Field Services Team at ARRL. The expected formation of these positions is planned for over the course of the next several months as the grants program develop. If you are interested in either of these volunteer roles, please let me know at I am starting a list for future teams.

Submitting Info for this Newsletter

ARRL Club News is for radio clubs to show how they are working in the community and the hobby to advance amateur radio. If your club does a project, supports an event, does an EmComm activation, or activates a park, we want to hear about it. You can submit your newsletter article to us at We like to get them as text or Word files, instead of "PDFs." If you have pictures, please submit them with any caption information, as well as the name and call sign of the photographer. We want to highlight the good work by the clubs and show others in the community of clubs. Think of this as a chance to show off your club and your programs.

How to Plan and Apply for an ARRL Hamfest or Convention

If your amateur radio club is planning to host a convention, hamfest, tailgate, or swapfest, please consider applying for an ARRL sanctioned status for your event. To learn what it means to be an ARRL-sanctioned event, and to get some ideas on how to prepare for and conduct a hamfest or convention, visit

To apply for ARRL-sanctioned status for your event, log on to

The ARRL Hamfests and Conventions Calendar can be found online at In addition, the Convention and Hamfest Calendar that runs in QST each month also presents information about upcoming events.

Important Links

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Find a License Exam in your area:

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