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[FCARC logo]  
Franklin County Amateur
Radio Club

Current club news is on this page. For older items see the News Archive.

The Activities page is our detailed calendar of events, updated 2/21/2017. We also have an FCARC Facebook group. What's new here? See the Website Change Notes

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March 2017 FCARC Communicator
posted 3/16/2017

The March 2017 FCARC Communicator should be on its way to your e-mailbox by the time you see this. For those who get it via US Mail look for it in a day or two. You can download it from the website at www.fcarc.org/communicator/comm201703.pdf.

Erratum: in the edition sent via US Mail the callsign of a successful candidate at our December VE session was incorrect. Justin Norman's callsign is KC1HEG.

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March 2017 Coming Events
posted 3/1/2017

FCARC events in March:

  • Saturday March 11: Mt Tom Amateur Repeater Association Hamfest. We will have a club table again. Help us staff it - you can sell your own stuff as well as items donated to the club. Contact Al, N1AW to volunteer. Event info is at http://mtara.org.

  • Saturday March 18: Club Breakfast, 8 a.m., Denny's.; Emergency Communications Group, 10 a.m., GCC Hammond Lounge.

  • Monday March 20: E-Board, 6 p.m.; Membership Meeting, 7:15 p.m., GCC Hammond Lounge. Report on Leyden repeater antenna and changes at Greenfield repeater site; also, Antenna Modelling a talk and demo by Bob Solosko, W1SRB (postponed from weather-cancelled February meeting).

Note: the Amateur Radio Technician License Class we had planned for this month has been cancelled. We hope to do this sometime in the future. You can help make this a reality by volunteering to help teach. Contact Al, N1AW.

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VE License Exams February 27
updated 3/1/2017

One candidate appeared for our February 27 VE session. Congratulations to Justin Norman of Greenfield who passed the Technician test. We will post his new callsign here as soon as the FCC issues it.

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club Volunteer Examiner team conducts Amateur Radio License examination sessions on the fourth Monday of February, May, August and November. Our next session is scheduled for May 22, 2017, 7:00 p.m., at the Northfield Unitarian Church.

More information is posted on the website.

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Web Page Cleanup!!!
posted 3/1/2017

In order to make this page load faster the webmaster is removing many obsolete articles. Articles thought to be of continuing interest are saved to the News Archive page. But almost everything is backed up offline. Contact the webmaster if you are looking for information that has been removed. Also, note that the FCARC Communicator newsletter on-line archives go back more than 10 years.

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Greenfield Repeater Problems
posted 3/1/2017

Our repeaters on Rocky Mountain in Greenfield have some problems, but they may be cleared up soon. More information will be published in the March Communicator and more is expected to be known by the time of the March 20th club meeting.

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Bill Boutwell N1EWK, SK
posted 3/1/2017

Willard R. "Bill" Boutwell, 85, of 18 Freeman Drive, died Monday November 28, 2016 at the Soldier's Home in Holyoke. Private services and inurnment following cremation took place at the Massachusetts Veteran's Memorial Cemetery, Agawam. Military honors were provided by the Elite Patriot Honor Guard of the USAF from Westover AFB, Chicopee.

Bill was a driving force of the FCARC. For many years he was trustee of the KB1BSS club license, and the primary maintainer of the club's repeaters. Much of our club history has been lost, but it is probable that Bill was responsible for configuring most of the retired commercial transceivers that served as our repeaters for many years. The Greenfield High School Radio Club, many members of the club, and our Field Day stations used antennas which he constructed. If spare parts or test instruments were needed for any purpose Bill probably could provide them. Bill maintained the trailer which was our mobile operating position for emergencies and Field Days.

Bill's wife Betty and his daughter Gail can be reached at gail_therrin@yahoo.com. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the McCarthy Funeral Homes of Greenfield and Turners Falls, Guest book and condolence message are available at www.mccarthyfuneralhomes.com.

The webmaster regrets the delay in posting this information to the FCARC.org website. Bill's obituary was published in December in the FCARC Communicator and on the FCARC Facebook page.

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HCRA and MTARA Coming Events
posted 2/26/2017

FCARC members are welcome to events at our neighbor clubs. Two of them have events of interest coming up in early March:

  • HCRA - Hampden County Radio Association's March 3 meeting will feature a talk by Dick Frey (WA2AAU), president of the North East Weak Signal group. If you have wondered what you could do if you could operate CW or SSB on VHF or UHF, this is the opportunity. Friday March 3rd 2017 at 7:30pm. Holyoke Medical Center Auxiliary Conference Center. More info at http://www.hcra.org/ .
  • MTARA - Mt Tom Amateur Repeater Association will have its annual Amateur Radio and Electronics Hamfest on Saturday March 11,at Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Drive, Chicopee. As we have done for many years, FCARC will have a table. Come, help us staff our table, bring things you want to sell for yourself or as donations to FCARC. More info at http://mtara.org/.

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Contact Info for March Communicator
posted 2/26/2017

Roy, K1LKY, has volunteered to edit and produce the March 2017 issue of our FCARC Communicator newsletter. Please send info or articles to him at k1lky68@gmail.com.

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Report: Montague Sawmill River 10K Road Race December 31st
posted 1/9/2017

Despite a late start in recruiting volunteers we had an adequate team for the Sawmill River 10K road race in Montague, on December 31st. Joe,KB1WVO, coordinated our effort, which was much appreciated by the Montague Recreation Department. There were no problems with weather (although it was cold) and no lost runners. The baked potato lunch was much appreciated by runners and volunteers.

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Weekly Nets Reminder
posted 9/9/2016

The FCARC sponsors two weekly nets on the Leyden 146.985 MHz repeater. On Tuesdays at 9 p.m. the Emergency Net is a time for practicing formal net procedures and sharing information about emergency readiness. On Thursdays at 8 p.m. the Information Net is a less formal occasion for chatting about news and activities, just about anything of interest. For details, including schedules of net control operators, see the Net Listings page on the website.

On Sunday mornings the weekly Western Massachusetts Emergency Net meets on the Mt Tom 146.940 MHz repeater at 8:45 a.m. FCARC members are encouraged to check in. You can also check into a similar net on the Mt Greylock 146.910 repeater at 9:00 a.m.

Are you interested in practicing Morse Code? The Snail Net is a slow speed CW practice net which meets on the 80 meter band on or near 3.532 MHz on Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. - more info can be found on the Snail Net page. Even if you have a Technician license you can operate CW on this part of the 80 meter band.

Club members with licenses allowing voice operation on the 75 meter band are also encouraged to check into the Sunday morning 75 meter net at 8:30 a.m.on 3.944 MHz. Checking into nets like this is a good way to become familiar with net procedures and to be assured that if an emergency occurs your equipment will be adequate.

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FCARC Greenfield Repeater Update
posted 7/8/2016

The duplexer for the club's 448.875 MHz repeater at Rocky Mountain in Greenfield has been realigned and reinstalled, so the transmitter and the receiver are now sharing an antenna high on the tower. The repeater is a Yaesu DR-1X and digital voice modes have been enabled.

A second new Yaesu DR-1X repeater has been put into operation on two meters at the same location. We have a new frequency pair for this one, you listen on 147.120 MHz and transmit to it on 147.720 MHz. It uses a PL tone of 131.8 Hz for analog FM voice. At this time it is operating at a low power level with separate transmit and receive antennas. Digital voice modes are enabled on this one also.

If you do not have a radio with digital voice capability these repeaters will work on ordinary FM just the way you are used to. However it is recommended that you set the squelch type on your radio to Tone-Squelch (TSQ). Without Tone Squelch conversations between users using digital modes will just sound like noise.

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Annual Election of Officers
posted 6/9/2016

The terms of elected officers begin on September 1 and run for two years. The President, Secretary, and one Director are elected in even-numbered years, and the Vice-President, Treasurer, and one Director are elected in odd-numbered years.

In 2016 the terms of President Al Woodhull, Secretary Chris Myers, and Director Belle Dyer expire. All three have agreed to run for re-election to their present positions. Notification has been made in the Communicator and no additional candidates have been nominated as of this writing, but additional nominations can be made by contacting Treasurer Howard Field, who is serving as the Nominating Committee this year. Any additional nominees must agree to accept the nomination. Additionally, at the annual business meeting nominations may be made from the floor. Any person nominated from the floor must be present at the business meeting and agree to accept the position

If the Presidency becomes vacant between elections the Vice President becomes President. The E-Board fills other vacancies by appointing a new officer to serve until the next annual election.

Current officers are listed on the Club Officers web page with contact information and term expiration dates. Various appointed positions are also listed on that web page.

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The FCARC For-Sale Web Page
posted 6/9/2016

The webmaster wishes to call attention to our Sale/Swap/Wanted page on the website at http://www.fcarc.org/forsale.htm. The club has a number of donated items that we can offer for sale to benefit the club treasury and we also have some items that we have agreed to sell for the benefit of the Greenfield High School Amateur Radio Club. New items will be listed soon.

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From Deerfield to Tulsa; from Ham Radio to TV News
posted 4/6/2016

Our speaker at the Monday April 11 FCARC meeting will be Tony Russell, KC0IKK. Tony is now a television news reporter in Oklahoma, but he got his start in ham radio as a student at Eaglebrook in Deerfield. He was a member of our club when he lived here. He is making a short visit to meet old friends. Among other things he will tell us how his ham radio hobby led to his interest in reporting.

There is more info about Tony and awards he has received on the website of Tulsa TV station KOTV-TV.

The FCARC meeting begins at 7:15 at our usual meeting place, the GCC Engineering Lab, Room S-302 of GCC's Main Building. (click here for directions). E-board meets in the same place at 6:00 p.m.

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Results of February FCARC VE Session
posted 3/10/2016

Look for some new calls on the air:
New General: Brad KC1FEM
New Technicians: Peter KC1FEN and Tom KC1FEO
... and congratulations to Leon, KC1BZD, upgraded to Extra.

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Repeater Info Online
posted 1/14/2016

The Repeaters PowerPoint and the Public Repeater Codes documents presented at the January meeting have been posted on the website: RepeaterTalk20160111.ppt and PublicRepeaterCodes.txt. The links also have been added to the Repeaters page.

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FCARC Shirts and Hats
posted 11/19/2015

We are preparing to order FCARC shirts and hats. Anne KC1CRS has researched the prices and is coordinating the ordering. If you are on our e-mailing list you will receive an e-mail notice with an order form, or you can download an order form here (PDF file). Please print it out, choose type, quantity, and size, and return by mail with a check made out to Franklin County Amateur Radio Club for your total amount, using the address on the form. Please do this by December 1st, we want to place the order then in time for the shirts to be available before Christmas.

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FCARC on Facebook
posted 8/10/2015

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club now has a Facebook Page!

N1AW says: I suggested this to the club a few times without getting an enthusiastic response. But Facebook is a good medium for many people who are used to being connected electronically at all times. The website and the Communicator will remain the main channels for club information. It is easy to communicate on Facebook. And any member who has information to share can post. Other ham clubs in our area, HCRA and MTARA, have both found it useful.

Thanks to Chet, N1XPT, who took the initiative to get the Facebook page started.

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Preliminary Field Day Results
posted 6/29/2015

Operating as AC1L, the FCARC's 2015 Field Day operation had ten operators keeping the HF SSB station on the air, four operators working the HF CW station, and four operating on 6 meters. Additionally, one newly licensed ham and two unlicensed guests made contacts on the KB1MSU Get-On-The-Air station.

Our QSO total was slightly lower than last year: 689 CW contacts and 271 voice contacts, for a total of 3298 QSO points. Last year we scored 3740 bonus points. Bonus points are still to be counted.

To compare with scores from past years look at the FCARC Field Day history web page.

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Greenfield 70 cm Repeater Is Up!
posted 6/20/2015

The Greenfield 448.875 MHz repeater located on Greenfield's Rocky Mountain, is back in service.

The club decided last winter to take advantage of a promotional offer by Yaesu and purchased a brand new Yaesu DR-1X repeater. It finally arrived last week, and was shown to club members at the June 15th club meeting. On Friday June 19th KB1NEK and N1AW put it on the air.

Yaesu's promotion is aimed at getting their C4FM digital mode better known to radio amateurs. This mode can support various kinds of digital data transfer as well as standard FM audio. This mode is not compatible with Icom's D-Star digital mode. Unfortunately both of these modes are proprietary, which is contrary to the tradition of amateur radio, indeed contrary to a stated purpose of amateur radio to contribute to the state of the art. Unfortunately open-source or non-proprietary methods are not available at present.

The new repeater operates on the same frequency pair as our old one, 448.875 MHz output and 443.875 MHz input, with a PL tone of 136.5. It is configured to accept both standard analog FM as well as digital voice input signals, but the output at present uses only standard analog FM voice output. The simple built-in controller provides CW ID as KB1BSS/R.

The new repeater is capable of three levels of power output, 5, 20, or 50 watts. Other groups have reported that the 50 watt level causes problems with overheating in an unmodified repeater if the duty cycle is too high. In the interest of caution we have initially configured for 5 watts transmitter output, so the useful operating range will be less than what was generally available with the old repeater. We expect to boost power to the 20 watt level when we are sure that operation is reliable, and we are looking at ways to sense temperature and allow higher power operation when and if needed - but this will require modifications which we do not want to make until we are sure there are no problems covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

We want feedback. Please e-mail Al N1AW or Chris KB1NEK with reports of your experiences. We want to know about any problems you observe, as well as general observations about range and signal quality. The more we know the sooner we will consider changes.

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November Program: Antenna Experiments and Explanations
posted 11/14/2014

Our next meeting is Monday November 17 at 7:15 p.m. in Room S301 (Engineering Lab) of GCC. E-Board meets earlier, at 6 p.m.

The program will be a presentation by Al, N1AW: "Antenna Experiments and Explanations". Update: The complete Power Point presentation is online in the Files directory on this website: ./Files/AntennaTalk141116.ppt. It's a big PowerPoint file, if you just want some basic notes and links to websites mentioned there is a summary here.

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Contesting for Everyone & a Contest for Everyone
updated 10/23/2014

The October 20th meeting topic was "Contesting for Everyone", presented by ARRL Contest Branch Manager Matt Wilhelm W1MSW.

Matt closed his presentation with a plug for a short, local, low-key contest coming up soon, open to amateurs with any license class except Novice: the MassRADIO 2M FM Challenge. The event will take place on Sunday, November 9th, from 7 to 8 p.m. EST, and the object is to make as many two-way QSOs (contacts) with as many different hams as possible in as many different towns as possible in the 1-hour time period, using simplex frequencies on the 2 meter band (that is, not using repeaters).

For more information on the MassRADIO 2M FM Challenge see this website: http://www.massradiogroup.com/.

A list of links to other websites of interest has been posted in our Files area as a PDF file, ContestingLinks.pdf, or if you prefer, an MS-Word file, ContestingLinks.doc.

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Leyden Repeater Receiving Problem Resolved!
updated 9/11/2014

Sometime around last weekend something happened to our KB1BSS 146.985 MHz repeater that caused a drastic decrease of receiver sensitivity. Exceptionally strong signals are repeated, but weaker ones are not. For instance, N1AW who lives less than a mile from the repeater can normally access it with a 200 mW handheld radio but now needs to use a mobile with a proper antenna to hit it from home.

Update: The problem has now been solved. We have a spare repeater, and swapped the receiver and transmitter sections. Receiving problems are gone. Some users say our power output may also be a little higher. We can now work on diagnosing the spare components for when they are again needed. We thank Josh Smith, engineer for WPVQ-FM, for his help.

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WRTC on NPR "Only A Game" - Available On-Line
posted 8/11/2014

Local broadcast of the NPR "Only A Game" program on WFCR comes on Saturdays from 7 to 8 a.m. Last week near the end of the program there was a 9 minute segment about WRTC, the World Radiosport Team Competition, the "Olympics of Amateur Radio." At that very time many FCARC members were busy getting ready for the Bridge of Flowers 10K in Shelburne Falls. If you missed it you can still catch it on line at http://onlyagame.wbur.org/2014/08/09/wrtc-radiosport-ham-radio.

You can listen to the audio, download it as an MP3 file, or read the transcript. This has got to be one of the best programs about amateur radio ever presented on national media.

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440 Repeater Down
posted 7/23/2014

The tower supporting the antennas for the KB1BSS 448.875 MHz repeater near Poet's Seat in Greenfield was damaged early today, and by midday was on the ground. So our UHF repeater is off the air, we hope not for too long. This was not our fault, and nobody was injured. We expect everything will be replaced, probably at no cost to us, as the Town of Greenfield had their own antennas on this tower and will want it usable as soon as possible. Meanwhile we hope to get our repeater on the air with a lower temporary antenna soon.

Expect a full story in the September FCARC Communicator.

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World Radiosport Team Competition
posted 7/15/2014

The WRTC took place as part of the IARU-HF contest Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13. The webmaster is aware that FCARC members Bob WA1QKT, Bruce KB1TLX, and Al N1AW participated in the setup of several WRTC operating sites near I-495 in eastern Massachusetts.

If you would like to know how some of the operating sites installed and supported by hams from western Massachusetts fared see the article posted on the Hamden County Radio Association site: http://www.hcra.org/2014/07/14/wrtc-2014-results-and-hcrawrtc-trivia/.

For the WRTC big picture see http://www.wrtc2014.org/, and for preliminary results (subject to log checking) see http://sb.wrtc2014.org/.

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Contest Operator Haiku
posted 03/28/2011
I'm hearing voices
They're all so soft and distant
but logged as five nine.
  -- Scott Andersen, NE1RD

(We don't normally steal items from the newsletter for the web page, but this one was irrestible.)

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Older news items may now be found on the FCARC News Archive page.

 

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