“Rhode Island’s Radio Legacy Continues”

Photo of rhombic antenna at W1OP
Providence Radio Association’s historic Collins antenna used during the recent MARS Armed Forces Day Crossband Test, with PRA Club President Dave Tessitore, K1DT, and Vice President John Good, W1GS

Contributed by Nancy Austin KC1NEK, NCRC and Dave Tessitore, K1DT, PRA

Rhode Island is a small state with a rich history. The Providence Radio Association invests in RI’s radio legacy by maintaining a historic Collins 237B-1 rotatable 13 element log periodic antenna originally installed as part of NAVCOMMSTA Newport’s impressive transmit antenna farm on Beavertail Point, Jamestown RI from c.1964-1975. On Saturday 13 May 2023, the Providence Radio Association again participated in the MARS Armed Forces Day (AFD) Crossband Test using their historic antenna and the equally historic call sign, NAF.

NAF began operation from the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, RI c. 1900, and was among the first US Naval Radio shore stations. Eventually, several naval radio stations were consolidated as NAVCOMMSTA Newport. NAF transmitted from c.1900 until 1975 at various coastal Narragansett Bay locations, including NAVRADSTA (T) Beavertail Point (Jamestown).

The Providence Radio Association shares the next chapter in this rich Rhode Island radio history: “The drastic curtailment of naval operations on Narragansett Bay in 1975 closed all naval activities at Sachuest Point and Beavertail Point. In 1975 the Navy allowed the Providence Radio Association to hold its annual Field Day exercises at the Beavertail Station. Following the decommissioning of the facility and turn over to land of the State, in 1983 the PRA acquired one of the Collins 237B-1 rotatable log periodic antennas used by NAF and erected it at our club facility in Johnston, RI. It has been utilized since then under the Amateur call sign W1OP. Once a year, we either operate from the original NAVRADSTA (T) location at Beavertail Pt, or we use this antenna from our clubhouse in Johnston to participate in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test, using its original naval call sign NAF.”

Providence Radio Association club president "Tess," K1DT
Providence Radio Association club president “Tess,” K1DT

For this year’s AFD Crossband Test, the Providence Radio Association again got permission to operate as NAF and transmit on their restored original Collins antenna. The W1OP clubhouse on Neutaconkanut Hill (on the Providence/Johnston border) opened its impressive radio station to members and Amateur Radio guests, including: Dom, N1DM; David, W3DRE; Doug, K3DRE; Andy, AJ1S; John, W1GS; Dave, K1DT; Teri, W1PUP; Jeremy, K1JST; Adam, KC1KCC; and Nancy, KC1NEK. Hundreds of phone QSOs were logged on mostly 20m and 40m.

As the ARRL notes: “The AFD Crossband Test is a unique opportunity to test two-way communications between military communicators and radio stations in the Amateur Radio Service (ARS), as authorized in 47 CFR 97.111. These tests provide opportunities and challenges for radio operators to demonstrate individual technical skills in a tightly controlled exercise scenario. Military stations will transmit on selected frequencies and will announce the specific ARS frequencies monitored. All of the times are Zulu (Z), and all frequencies are Upper Side Band (USB) unless otherwise noted.”

For more on the history of call sign NAF and their restored Collins antenna, reach out to Providence Radio Association club president Dave Tessitore “Tess”, K1DT, at k1dt@verizon.net.

Radio communication has a long history in Rhode Island. By 1900, Newport’s naval officers were given instruction in wireless technology. Newport’s Torpedo Station was one of the first of a network of U.S. Navy shore radio stations, along with an adjacent site at the Naval Training Center used to train radio operators for the Navy. From c.1964 until 1975, Sachuest Point on Aquidneck Island and Beavertail on Jamestown served as key receive and transmit stations. Today, Amateur Radio offers an experiential learning gateway to 21st century workforce development opportunities in electronics and wireless radio communication, both analog and digital. This highly relevant mission is at the heart of many ARRL-affiliated RI radio clubs.


For more information, see also:  

Newport County Radio Club: “One Year of Digital VE Sessions”

Contributed by Nancy Austin, KC1NEK, NCRC

NCRC Digital VE Session
NCRC Digital VE Session Lead Mike Seil, AA1XQ (standing left) April 22, 2023


The Newport County (RI) Radio Club offered its first digital VE session a little over a year ago on March 12, 2022. That session was held outside in a parking lot because of the lingering pandemic, and relied on inexpensive Android tablets (with a cramped keypad) connected via a hotspot. It was the team’s first official use of ExamTools and despite multiple practice runs, there remained learning curves.

Fast forward to our most recent VE session given last Saturday April 22, 2023. It was a successful milestone for lessons learned around people, processes and tools implementing digital exams. In particular, the NCRC benefited from a roughly $2000 ARRL Foundation Club Grant that allowed us to now offer applicants easy to use Wi-Fi enabled 64GB/ 10.2″ iPads with folder-style covers, and the option to use stylus pens. The main benefits include much more reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, a large screen, and well-designed consumer user interface. With the “best tool” problem solved, another concern was upskilling VE examiners on the ExamTools.org platform and software. This took time. Over this year, the digital VE session lead, Mike Seil, AA1XQ, has successfully recruited and trained a team of prepared VE examiners who are able to confidently address whatever issues come up.

The timing was right for this all to come together since our data suggests the second quarter is the busiest period for testing VE Session applicants. Indeed, our April session was busy, with more planning to sit for the Technician or an upgrade in June before Field Day. If it turns out that the number of applicants outnumbers our suite of iPads, we hold two sessions back to back.

Bob Beatty, WB4SON (right) wrote the grant
Bob Beatty, WB4SON (right) wrote the grant

Our club owes many thanks to Bob Beatty, WB4SON, for totally revising his Technician class content to reflect the new pool of questions; all applicants who sat for the new Technician exam this April were well-prepared and passed. (A number of hams shared that they had decided to try the General exam in April before the test content changes by June.)

What other things help any VE Session go well? In our experience, it is important to be mindful of the need for all test takers to have quiet maintained throughout their VE session. We now have one VE stationed outside the building to both greet and debrief applicants. Folks appreciated being welcomed before the exam and also having their enthusiastic post exam questions answered. Meanwhile, the remaining test takers in the hall could continue to concentrate without distraction. These test takers might include those who choose to sit for all three exams and thus potentially be there for an hour plus. It includes determined folks who want to take the exam again, or those who just need lots of peace and quiet to give the exam their best.

Clubs considering the change to digital VE sessions might plan for a one year process. Getting the volunteer people, processes and tools in place to see this through took teamwork, leadership, and commitment. Many thanks to Bob Beatty, WB4SON, for stepping up to write the ARRL Foundation Club Grant as the Newport County Radio Club embarked on this digital transformation. Our successful ARRL grant allowed us to buy the right tools for the job.

Offering a well-run digital VE session is a transformational opportunity and providing the best user experience for your applicants will matter.

NCRC VE examiners who upskilled on the ExamTools platform
NCRC VE examiners who upskilled on the ExamTools platform




Meriden (CT) ARC Balloon Projects In Progress

From the Meriden ARC March 2023 newsletter “Key Klix:”

The [Meriden Amateur Radio Club] currently has two balloon projects in the works. On Saturday, 25 February, John, KB1MFU tested his balloon to see if it would meet specifications. The balloons were supposed to inflate to 3 feet in diameter which would hold a specific amount of helium allowing him to calculate the amount of lift it would have.

For the test, John used nitrogen gas to save on the more expensive helium. He set up the test in one of the garage bays at the firehouse and began to slowly inflate the balloon. The homebrew inflation nozzle that he made fit perfectly into the balloon allowing the gas tank to be connected. The Balloon filled to 1 foot in diameter then on to 2 feet. At about 2 1/2 feet the balloon burst. Not good for a 3 foot rated balloon.

Undaunted, John said that he would get replacement balloons, probably rated 3 1/2 to 4 foot diameter. Another test is in the works. They like to say that failure is not an option but having this test balloon fail now is better than having it fail on launch day. Without testing, failure is always an option.

Once the balloon itself passes the test, other components will be tested as well. Carry on, John. You have no where to go but up! Ted KC1DOY

Cape Cod Scout Camp Ham Station Starts Building its Antenna Field

The Barnstable Amateur Radio Club (BARC) received a grant from the ARRL to establish a ham radio station for scouts at Camp Greenough in Yarmouth on Cape Cod.  The camp hosts scouts from all over New England and BARC participates in Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) events at the camp as well as, most recently, Winter Field Day.  Donations from local businesses have amplified the value of the grant many times. These included building materials for both walls and operating desks, volunteer professional labor and even fiber-optic connectivity from Comcast.  Following removal of 18 trees, Eversource installed three poles with pulleys to suspend wire antennas on March 8.  Heavy equipment arrived in the morning with a full crew.  The poles were rigged and lifted into position once the holes were dug.  They are now ready to lift wire antennas into position, once the station build is completed and the equipment is in place. The station itself has been framed on three sides and old wiring removed.  An ADA-compliant door will be installed for station access prior to completion of the framing.  

Two operating positions , some furniture and a workbench are planned and some equipment donations have been offered, in addition to that funded by the grant.  The station will be capable of remote operation to allow on-site classroom facilities to be used for amateur radio instruction including that for the radio merit badge using live demonstrations.  BARC will relocate its satellite antenna array to the new station that will be fully HF, VHF and UHF capable.

BARC is targeting this summer for project completion.

Microwave Ham Radio (3-33 cm): This Century’s New “Shortwave Radio”

contributed by Nancy Austin, KC1NEK, Newport County (RI) Radio Club

Examples of short 12 cm microwave antennas: a Yagi and an omni-directional vertical

How short is short???

Last century, the HF bands from 10 meters to 200 meters were considered “shortwave radio.”  Paul Fredette, K1YBE, is on a mission to pitch the Super High Frequency (SHF) microwave ham bands (3 cm to 33 cm) as this century’s new “shortwave radio”, ripe for experimentation.  So, how short is the new short? A football fan offered the comparison that 10 meters is roughly 10 yards, or the length of the first down line on a football field. And for comparison, 3 cm is roughly 1 inch, or the width of the white stripe on a football. To get a sense of relative antenna size, I just looked out the window at my HF antenna zigzagging for 100+ feet across my backyard, and compared that to the microwave antennas pictured above for scale, showing inches on a ruler. The new short is a different magnitude of short, with opportunities and new challenges for the ham to tackle.

To promote STEM learning and workforce development opportunities around this shift, Rhode Island’s Paul, K1YBE, is enthusiastically promoting the notion of an Amateur Radio Training Experiment Network (ARTEN) that uses mesh networking educational projects to make this accessible to a broad audience. The “new” shortwave bands from 3 cm/10 GHz to 30 cm/1 GHz can be a catalyst as we reach out to invite in a new generation of hams. ARRL-affiliated club microwave experiments underway include the Newport County Radio Club’s pilot mesh networking project placing carbon dioxide sensors in a local farm, with the collected data set available to schools. Examples of welcome community outreach include holding our radio hands-on building/experimenting workshops at a local maker-space, FabNewport, during their after-school programming. Kids stop by our table, curious and full of questions. In this way, STEM learning is not bolted on but part of the ongoing mentoring and experiential learning that defines the ham community and helps home-grown innovators flourish.

The ARRL mission includes encouraging “radio experimentation and, through its members, advances radio technology and education.” As Wikipedia reminds us: “Throughout its history, amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science, engineering, industry, and social services. Research by amateur radio operators has founded new industries, built economies, empowered nations, and saved lives in times of emergency.” More than a century ago, the pivotal Radio Act of 1912 assigned licensed amateurs to the shortwaves under 200 meters. In 2023 it’s remarkable to look back and forge ahead in the frontier of microwave “shortwave” bands open to hams, from 3 centimeters to 33 centimeters. What’s possible?  

Paul Fredette, K1YBE, will be speaking on ARTEN – New England Mesh Networking at Microwave Update 2023 on Saturday April 16th. This is an international conference focused on amateur radio on the microwave bands. Meanwhile, Paul, K1YBE, will be presenting a talk on ARTEN at the Newport County Radio Club’s upcoming monthly meeting; this talk will be posted to YouTube shortly after. If you are curious to learn more or would like Paul to speak to your club, please reach out to him directly at Paul Fredette, K1YBE, k1ybe@yahoo.com.  

Curious to learn more about microwave experimenting at the Newport County (RI) Radio Club?
Newport County Radio Club Experimental Microwave Group (August 31, 2022)
https://nediv.arrl.org/2022/08/31/newport-county-radio-club-experimental-microwave-gro up-meets/
ARTEN – VNA Assembly (January 10, 2023) edited clip, You-Tube [5min] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ma2FKaBZ3k
Ham Radio is a Gateway to Technology (February 17, 2023)

Screenshot from upcoming ARTEN talk by K1YBE
Screenshot from an upcoming talk, ARTEN – New England Mesh Networking, by Paul Fredette K1YBE at the Amateur Radio on the Microwave Bands Conference near Hartford, April 15-16, 2023 


Granite State ARA Participates in Career & Technical Education Event at Local High School

GSARA CTE Event photo #1On Thursday evening, February 2, the Granite State Amateur Radio Association participated in an inaugural event at Milford High School called Milford Applied Technology CTE.  Samantha Belcourt-Director, Jennifer DiMaria-Career Development Specialist, and Frank Xydias-engineering and STEM educator, hosted the event. U.S. Congress representative Ann Kuster participated in the opening remarks.

Approximately fifteen exhibitors, mostly local high-tech companies, community colleges, and universities, had exhibits and handouts. Also, tours of the facility were provided, including the precision machining shop, 3-D printing, and construction technology areas. Good food was offered by Windows on West Street, a student-operated restaurant that serves as a real-life course for students serving meals to the greater community two days a week.

GSARA CTE photo #2The GSARA table included an operating Icom IC-7300 HF station in a “go box” with an outdoor CrankIR portable vertical antenna and various hand-held VHF radios. Numerous hand-outs were provided by ARRL (Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, Education and Learning Manager), including Why Should You Give Amateur Radio a Try? and What Amateur Radio Can Do for Your School and Students. Students, parents, and teachers learned about our hobby and how it can initiate a passion for exciting, well-paying technical careers. GSARA provided other material.

Support for the club effort was provided by: Bill, W1WRA; Bill, KE1G; Eric, N1JUR; John, K1XF; Mike, W1EAA; Ryan, W1SNH; and Tom, AC1J.  

New England Clubs Gear Up For Winter Field Day, January 28-29, 2023

Winter Field Day Association logoA number of radio clubs throughout New England are gearing up for the annual Winter Field Day event this weekend.

Winter Field Day is sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association. Complete rules can be found on the WFD website, at Winter Field Day. According to ARRL, “Combining this with ARRL’s yearlong event, Volunteers On the Air, is a great way to make contacts that count for both activities and get new operators on the air. … Like the ARRL Field Day, bonus points are earned in several ways, including for using non-commercial power sources, operating from remote locations, making satellite contacts, and more.”

The Granite State Amateur Radio Association is QRV for Winter Field Day. They will operate as “3 Oscar” under the call sign N1QC at their summer field day site, “Mike’s Barn,” 972 Back Mountain Road, Goffstown, New Hampshire. Setup begins around 10:30 AM on Saturday morning. According to Eric Pfeifer, N1JUR, “One brave soul and station will operate for the full 24 hours.” 

The Addison County Amateur Radio Association will operate Winter Field Day at N1TRK’s QTH at 1685 Main Street in New Haven, Vermont.  “Operations will be held inside the Hambulance. The event starts at 2 PM Saturday and ends the following day at 2 PM. We will operate using the club call (N1FS) and certainly have some fun!” For more info, visit: https://winterfieldday.com/index.php  or contact Rob at litchrobbie@gmail.com or via cell at 802-355-1474.
New England Sci-Tech will participate in Winter Field Day from 2 to 9 PM on Saturday at 16 Tech Circle in Natick, Massachusetts. “We will stay warm and take a points loss but still have fun! Non-licensed adults and children can get on the air with one of our control operators.”
New England Sci-Tech will also hold a number of other activities in conjunction with WFD: maker activities from 4 to 6 PM for children of members and visitors, and hands-on activities led by volunteers. “Make a meteorite necklace, make 3-D paper art, make an electronics gadget, make a laser-cut art project, make a woodworking project, and more.” Also planned are thirty-minute planetarium shows at 5 and 7 PM, a pot luck dinner from 6 to 8 PM, and a ham radio “movie marathon” from 7 to 9 PM. 
The Twin State Radio Club will operate in Winter Field Day on Blackwater Road in Canaan, New Hampshire. “In past years, we’ve put heat in the comm trailer, hung a 40-meter dipole, and put the mini-beam up on the tower trailer, which gives us the most popular contest bands,” according to TSRC’s Dave Colter, WA1ZCN.  “We’ll likely run two stations on generator power. Setup begins at 8am this Saturday, and the event starts at 2pm and runs for 24 hours. If you want to try HF operating and don’t have the means at home (or the license,) this will be a good opportunity. Operating privileges will be those of the control operator present.”  Talk-in will be on the 145.33 repeater.
The Hampden County Radio Association (HCRA) and Franklin County Amateur Radio Club (FCARC) will mount its first Winter Field Day operation on Sunday from 9 AM until 2 PM using the call sign W1NY. The group will be set up at 1500 West Street, Amherst, MA. “Indoor restrooms are available, and food (from Atkins Farm) is a mile down the street and offers many delicious foods and treats. You are also welcome to bring something to share or for yourself.” The group plans to operate from the upper parking lot. “Look for antennas and call signs on cars and hams. We shouldn’t be hard to find.” For details, contact  W1BCC Brad Councilman (FCARC president)  at bc@councilman.com or Larry Krainson (HCRA president) at W1AST@arrl.net.
The Candlewood Amateur Radio Association will conduct their Winter Field Day exercise at the Ball Pond Firehouse, 7 Fairfield Drive, New Fairfield, Connecticut. All interested local hams are invited to participate.  A signup sheet for the event can be found at:  2023 Winter Field Day 1/28-1/29 Signup Sheet.
Members of the Boston Amateur Radio Club are QRV for Winter Field Day and will camp out and operate from one of the Ponkapoag Adirondack Mountain Club cabins in the Blue Hills south of Boston. “This will be a blast!” writes BARC’s Mindy Hull, KM1NDY. “It is imperative that you arrange this with me if you plan on going.”

Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (NH) Off to a Great Start!

Merrimack Valley ARA logoThe Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (call sign N1MVA) was formed in August 2022 by eight NH ARES members. ARES is a program, not an entity that could own equipment or fundraise. Our goal is to establish the MVARA as an organization that may own equipment and fundraise to support the emergency communication mission. The MVARA is a registered NH nonprofit corporation and a federal 501(c)3 charitable organization, and is registered with Amazon Smile. The MVARA has been accepted as an ARRL affiliated club. Current membership is 22 with 91% being ARRL members.

Our current focus is collaborating with the New England Digital Emergency Communications Network to interconnect DMR sites with microwave radio links. The microwave links backup internet connections when the internet is disrupted, thereby making the DMR system more resilient for routine and emergency communication. Presence on the towers also extends our microwave network. The first installation is a link between the Crotched Mt DMR site, which lost internet when the provider discontinued service to the area, and the South Uncanoonuc DMR site which has a pre-existing 5GHz link to the internet at the Bow, NH DMR site. DMR traffic flow can be evaluated from the repeater to the new Part 97 AREDN 5GHz link, then to the pre-existing Part 15 Ubiquiti link, and finally to the internet. The link has been operational since early October with only one occasionally recurring issue that can be corrected remotely. Its cause remains to be identified, part of our learning curve.

The main activity planned for next year is writing a proposal to ARDC for funding to expand the microwave backbone among DMR repeater sites within the context of the New England Division mesh network project. The backbone and network services would provide opportunities for other licensed operators who may wish to use the microwave network for various amateur radio purposes.

Node Kit Components & Parts ListThere is a possibility of developing a STEM module about microwave IP networking. Lessons could be introduced with familiar microwave radios – cell phones and computer wifi – followed by modern battery technology, microwave and IP basics, and culminated by setting up a local microwave connection. Portable battery-powered microwave node kits – designed under Part 15 compliance for unlicensed use in school classrooms or Part 97 compliance for amateur radio use – are easily assembled with off-the-shelf components and deployed for demonstration and instruction. Kits can also be used as portable nodes for emergency and event communications.

Components for a portable microwave network node kit are shown in the table and photo. Total cost is about $500 plus shipping, including a Windows Mini PC. The Mini PC can be used to control an HF or a VHF radio remotely over the network for NBEMS, Winlink and popular weak signal modes. A Raspberry Pi could be substituted for the Mini PC if there is no need for Windows software, decreasing cost proportionally. 

Photo showing a prototype node kit with optional Raspberry Pi DMR hotspot.Battery charger, 12v converters and cables are stowed underneath.
Photo showing a prototype node kit with optional Raspberry Pi DMR hotspot.
Battery charger, 12v converters and cables are stowed underneath.



New England QRP’s Annual Central New England (NH) Meeting and Lunch, November 19, 2022

NEQRP logoCarl Achin, WA1ZCQ, writes on the NEQRP mailing list:

This Meeting & Lunch is always on the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving, ANNUALLY. Hope YOU can make it.

Date: Saturday, November 19th, 2022
Time: 10AM for early-birds (~11AM is OK too) till the last person drops, usually around 2PM+
Place: Golden Corral – 655 South Willow Street, Manchester, NH

Please bring something for “Show-‘N-Tell” and show and talk about it with others.

Meet-‘N-Greet (Social-Hour plus Show-‘N-Tell)) – 10AM through 11AM+
Club updates and info – 11:15 through 11:30AM
Buffet Meal from 11:30 through 1:30PM
More socializing till approximately 2PM+


* P.S. – Christmas Party Gathering coming-up on the SECOND FRIDAY in DECEMBER (9th). More on that later.