Hampden County (MA) RA Technician License Class Begins January 13, 2024

HCRA classFrom the Hampden County (MA) Radio Association ZERO BEAT, January 2024:

Most likely, if you’re reading this, you already have your license and know all the fun and excitement that your very first amateur radio technician class license has brought you.

If you know of anyone who is interested in achieving this goal in life, have them register using the link be- low and fill out the form to get their name on the list for this FREE technician license class next January.

The list of applicants is filling up quickly, so don’t wait too long to get your name or the name of the person who wants to get their license on the form by following the link below and filling out the required information. Choose between in person classes or online Zoom classes!

This class is free; you are only required to buy the license manual. Register using the form found by clicking on the link below.

Register today by visiting: <https://hcra.org/licensing-classes/>.

[The class starts the second Saturday in January and will continue for four weeks and one week of review. The sessions will be from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.]

RFI Hunting with W4DD Software

Jeff, W4DD, has created a Windows-based app that maps RFI from power lines as you drive along side them.  I’ve been experimenting with the software to develop some guidelines for its use by the RFI teams.  I know several others on the teams are doing the same thing.  The Icom 705 in each team has both the GPS and CI-V capability to support gathering the required data.  The process begins by installing the app, available on request, and creating a directory or folder to receive the data.  The vehicle is then equipped with a Hamstick for 10 meters https://nediv.arrl.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/rfi-10m-antenna.jpg (I haven’t tried other bands but this is the one Jeff recommends) and a team Icom 705 is connected via a micro-usb port on the 705 and a usb port on a laptop that has the Icom drivers installed on it (available on the Icom America website.) https://nediv.arrl.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/rfi-test-setup.jpg I’ve installed several ferrites (available on Amazon) on the usb cable to suppress the usb port noise when in operation.  If all is connected properly, starting the RFID software displays that the GPS and the CI-V S-meter reading from the Icom 705 are recognized.

I tune the Icom 705 to 28.5 MHz in the AM mode.  Start the data gathering process by providing a name for the file when requested.  Start driving the test route at about 30 MPH paying attention to traffic so you don’t become the lead car in a caravan.  At this point I strongly recommend that you work with a partner so you can drive and not need to pay attention to the data being recorded.  The faster you drive, the further apart the data points become so you can cover more territory but you may miss the detailed location of an RFI source.  You can zoom in on a particular area of the map and examine it in Google Earth to gather more detail.  If you are hunting a real source, you may want to repeat a run.  It is helpful to have a spare laptop battery.

When you complete a run, connect to the internet and go to the GoogleMyMaps site.  Upload the data file you created into a new map.  Look at the data and use color (select style by s-meter) to single out the high noise data points, i.e. s1-s5 colored green, s5 – s7 colored yellow, s8 and higher colored red.  I used a slightly different set since I wanted a bit finer scale. https://nediv.arrl.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/rfi-software-test-run.jpeg

Once you’ve identified a problem location, the use of the team VHF/UHF log-periodic to find the specific pole and an acoustic dish (I use an MFJ dish) to find the particular faulty component are the last steps.

I’ll refine this process with the teams’ inputs as we go forward but my testing so far is very positive and I believe that Jeff, W4DD, has provided us with a valuable tool for finding powerline RFI.

Ham Radio Support for the Sawmill River 10k Run, Montague MA, January 1, 2024

From wma.arrl.org:

For several years now, hams from this area have provided communications for the Sawmill River Run, a 10 kilometer run in Montague Center on New Years Day. I am organizing the effort this year.

Some of you have helped in the past and others may be new to this event, but I welcome as many of you as can make it. The commitment that morning would be from 8:30 to 11:30. The central site is Montague Common Hall, 34 Main St, Montague, MA 01351.

It is a short course with many turns so we need as many operators as we can get. This also provides a good opportunity to test our communication skills and to meet other members of our ham community face to face.

Please let me know if you can help us out or if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Mark, NX1K

“Radio Friendships”

Kudos to John Grubmuller, K1XF, Vice President of the Granite State (NH) ARA, for his story in “Celebrating Our Legacy” in the January, 2024 issue of QSTThanks Bill, W1WRA.


 K1XF storyK1XF Radio Friendships story in Jan. 2024 QST

FEMA Region 1 Winlink Testing

FEMA Region 1 will begin conducting monthly Winlink tests starting January 2024. The purpose of this test is to exercise the Regional PACE plan, Winlink is part of the “Emergency” category of the plan. We would like to include Amateur Radio and SHARES stations in New England in this test. Here are the details:

Testing Procedure: Each month FEMA Region 1 Disaster Emergency Communications Branch will generate a Winlink message to participating stations. The message will be sent via Winlink through an Amateur Radio or SHARES gateway. The message will contain simple instructions on how to reply – which form to use, information requested, response time, etc. The receiving stations will reply to FEMA Region 1 via Winlink with the requested information within a set timeframe. The date and time of the monthly test will vary.

Participating Stations – Open to Amateur Radio or SHARES stations in New England. Stations must have Winlink capability and a valid Winlink email address. Participating operators should be aware that this test is conducted without announcement, so it is important that Winlink messages are checked regularly.

How to Sign Up – Stations wishing to participate can sign up online at https://forms.gle/sTibzJjZhftHXR4J9

Please feel free to share the above information with those who may be interested in participating. Any questions, let me know.



Mike Corey
Emergency Management Specialist | Disaster Emergency Communications
Response Division | FEMA Region I
Cell: 202.704.9853
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Maine Section e-News December, 2023

Maine Section Manager Philip W Duggan, N1EP, writes on the ARRL Maine Members list:

On behalf of the Maine Section Cabinet, I wish you all a great Holiday season! Hopefully you all have your power back after that big blow last Monday. Is it just me, or does it seem that Maine is windier all year round now, between wind storms and just plain windy days? And there is no doubt it has been wetter this year; the ground is saturated!

Maine Section 2024 Goals

Please provide your input on what you think the Maine ARRL sections goals should be. You can send suggestions to n1ep@arrl.org. One of our primary goals will be reversing that staggering statistic that 80 percent of newly licensed hams disappear from the amateur radio scene
before their 1-year license anniversary. We need to find out why this happens and take steps to change that trend. It would help if more hams monitored or scanned their local repeaters and VHF/UHF simplex frequencies and answered someone when they put out their call sign on the air. There is nothing more frustrating than earning your amateur radio ticket and then you find there is minimal activity on the bands you can use. We are hams, let’s ham it up!

Maine VOTA Update

As the ARRL Volunteers-On-The-Air program wraps up at the end of this month, Maine just completed the second week-long stint operating as W1AW/1. Many kudos to John Huffman, K1ESE, Maine VOTA Coordinator, and all the operators who did such an outstanding job representing our section on the air in September and December. During the two week-long events, we racked up 13,372 QSOs! The top two prolific ops were Joe Blinick, K1JB and Dave Larrabee, K1BZ. Congrats all and thanks so much for your remarkable efforts!

Hamfest in Augusta

The Boat Anchor Hamfest is scheduled for Saturday, February 10 from 8am until noon. This is a great opportunity to abate the winter doldrums and get out and meet other hams and find some great deals. If you are a vendor or have gear to trade or sell, please plan on attending. The more the merrier. Many thanks to all who support Maine’s hamfests.

Straight Key Night

If you are a cw operator, don’t forget that New Year’s Eve and Day is Straight Key Night. Put your favorite straight key or bug on the air. I plan on using my Navy flameproof key. I will be calling CQ primarily on 80m and 40m. If you hear my QRS signal, give me a shout!

Simplex Challenge

Put Saturday, March 16 on your calendar now so you do not forget about the Maine 2-meter FM Simplex Challenge. It is sponsored by the Wireless Society of Southern Maine. Details are at http://www.ws1sm.com/2-Meter-Challenge.html

Statewide POTA!

Reminder that we are asking all Maine clubs and hams interested to activate a qualified park on Saturday, May 18 for Parks-On-The-Air. You can find a list and map of qualified parks and rules on the official POTA web site: https://parksontheair.com/

Speaking Of Volunteering

Why not make 2024 the year you volunteer for some important task that benefits amateur radio. Run for president or treasurer of your local club or help out with a club newsletter. Become a member of your local Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) or become an ISS ARES operator. Don’t get excited, we will not send you to the International Space Station. ISS in this case stands for Independent Support Station. Learn how to originate and relay radiograms and participate in the National Traffic System (NTS). Become a Volunteer Examiner. Volunteer to serve as a net control station for a VHF or HF net. Organize a ham radio demonstration for your local scout troop, 4H, or school. Opportunities are abundant. There is a big need for hams to help out in a wide variety of ways. And you know what? It is most often fun and very rewarding.

Favorite Antenna

What has been your favorite antenna in your time as a ham? Even though I have fond memories of my HF yagi which broke last year, I still am a fan of dipoles. Simple lightweight dipoles for portable use, and I also have had great success with fan dipoles at my home station. What is your favorite antenna?

73 and wishing you all the best in this coming new year!

ARRL Maine Section
Section Manager: Philip W Duggan, N1EP

How Clubs Can Help to Mentor New Hams

Our local club, the Nashua Area Radio Society, provides training and mentoring programs for new hams.  In the past 3 months, we have held classes and VE sessions for Technician, General, and Extra licenses.   Our classes take place in 2-3 full days over a weekend and conclude with an online exam session.  It is always a thrill to see new people getting licensed or earning an upgrade at the end of the class.  In addition, these newly licensed hams can make a great addition to your club.

But just licensing new hams is not enough.  For every ten new Technicians that are licensed, only two of them ever get on the air. The best way we can help our licensees to become active ham radio operators is to continue the mentoring after the class or VE session is over.  

Ham Boot Camp

The Nashua Area Radio Society holds a program called Ham Bootcamp each spring and fall after our license classes.  Ham Bootcamp is a day-long series of training sessions to help new Hams build skills and learn what they need to know to get on the air.  The morning sessions are all about putting together a VHF station, programming your radio, and all the activities you can participate in with a Tech license – fox hunting, satellites, and more.  The afternoon sessions are all about putting together an HF Station, selecting and putting up antennas, operating voice, CW, digital modes, and more.  Our boot camps are held online and we get hams from all over the country attending, and even some DX!

Mentoring a New Ham
Mentoring a New Ham

Any club can start a mentoring program.  We started by inviting the newly licensed/upgraded hams from our classes to our QTH for a few Saturday afternoons.  We gave them a tour of our station, helped them make their first contacts at our station, used HTs and held a mock repeater net, built an antenna, had a fox hunt, and operated satellites. 

It is easy to do something similar for your club.  Just invite one or more new hams over to your shack and help them to get on the air.  Show them your station.  Answer their questions about operating or station building or anything else about Ham Radio. 

You can make Winter or Summer Field Day a mentoring experience by inviting the new hams to help build stations and put up antennas. Once the event starts, help them to operate.  Start at the mic and let the new ham log – then switch places and give them the mic while you log.  

You can also invite your newly licensed members to your QTH to operate in a contest.  The ARRL has the Rookie Roundup contests 3 times a year – it is a great opportunity for someone to try out contesting.  

You will be helping to grow your club as well as the hobby as well as making new friends!

I’d love to hear about how your club is mentoring new hams.  Join the Mentoring and Ham Development group (Groups.io: ne-ham-dev) and let’s share our ideas.  Your ideas will help all of us to become better mentors. 


Anita Kemmerer, AB1QB

New England Division Assistant Director

Mentoring, Ham Development, and Youth Outreach



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