HCRA is READY for Field Day – are YOU!

About seven days from now HCRA will be blasting the airwaves with “CQ Field” day from School St. Park in nearby Agawam, MA. Our plans have solidified to a 5A operation, perhaps even 6A, the usual superb four towers with beams on 40, 20, 15 and 10 and dipoles for 80/75. a Saturday VE session, lots of operators, KX2 raffle tickets and….

FOOD! Alan/AB1XW will be serving up dogs and burgers, “on the house” Saturday evening. A perfect way to stoke the fires for an all-night operation.

Read all the details and see the participants by clicking here.  After looking through the list you’ll see a few spots where we could use YOUR help. What would you like to do?

1. We can make 100 points by simply originating an NTS message to our Section Manager and up to an additional 100 points by sending 10 radiograms. Are you ready for the challenge? It’s easy and shouldn’t take more than an hour at most. Want to give it a try? Contact Jim/KK1W for more info.

2. Are you a good teacher? There’s another 100 points on the table for organizing an educational activity. It could be as simple as showing how to get active on digital modes or constructing a wire dipole. Interested, contact Jeff/NT1K or Jim/KK1W and we can get you going.

3. Finally, we can make up to another 100 points for “Youth Participation”. Any operator under 18, that makes at least one FD QSO earns HCRA 20 points. If we get five youth operators we make another 100 points! How cool is that? Remember they (or you) don’t have to be licensed to operate at Field Day. It’s a perfect opportunity to expose youngsters to a hobby that could shape their future. Time your visit just before Saturday evening and have a burger or hot dog for your (and their) efforts.

Don’t forget to pick up a KX2 raffle ticket while visiting Field Day. A mere $10 donation could bring you a spanking new Elecraft KX2!

The weather forecast looks promising and plans are in place. What are you waiting for, all we need is YOU!

HCRA BOD meeting notes for January 20th, 2016

HCRA BOD meeting notes for 20-Jan-2016

President: NT1K
Vice President: N1FTP
Treasurer: NV1Q
Membership: K1VOI
Program Dir: W1AST
ZB Editor: WA1MOW
Tech Dir: K1YO

At-Large: W1MOR
Secretary: WM1B

President Report:

– Jim Mullen has volunteered to help out with updating our Website.
– A Web Forum has been created at “members.hcra.org”. The site will be
directed and administered by the BOD. It will be a members only site and
integrated with our web site.

VP Report:

– 90 tickets for the TS590SG have been sold to date. The minimum goal is 150
tickets sold. Many tickets will be sold at the MTARA flea market. We should reach
our goal plus some.

Treasurer Report:

– There was quite a bit of discussion on how to divvy up the funds from the Xmas
party. From members to non-members to MTARA members and non-member
spouses as well as member spouses. There may be some double-dipping. This
needs to be revisited.

Financial Statement:

Beginning balance: $6771.95
Dep/Wdr: $1038.68
Ending Balance: $7810.63

Membership Report:

– There are 89 members with 80 paid and 9 family members. Question was
raised, why does it take so long for some individuals to renew? Could there be
some sort of incentive added to renewing? One suggestion was to put all the paid
members in Zero Beat. If your name is not there, you didn’t pay. This also answers
the question “Did I already pay my dues?”. Also discussed was greeting new
members and asking them what their interests are at the monthly meetings.

Program Dir Report:

Here is a tentative list from W1AST

– February 6, 2016: Jon Koltai, Hamsource – Power poles & really cool shack gadgets
– March 2016:  First Robotics Competition: Gary, WA1MOW
– April 2016: Mini Presentation: Jeff, AB1WT: Portable IRLP & Echolink Node PLUS
Show and Tell
– May 2016: Jon Perelstein, WB2RYV –  How to Report Weather & How to Properly
Read Your Weather App
– June: Field Day planning, Jeff, NT1K


– September 9, 2016: Tony Brock-Fisher, K1KP – Solar Power and RFI, what you
need to know
– October 7, 2016: Dennis Markel, N1IMW : The history of WCC and Chatham
Marconi Radio.
– Nov 2016: tbd
– Dec 2016: annual HCRA Holiday Party

Zero Beat Editor:

– Submit your articles by 29th of January. Submit anything, please. Someday there
will be blank pages in Zero Beat…

Technical Director Report:

– 2 requests on interference. Services rendered, none.


Old Business

Welcome Package:

A draft of the Welcome Package was handed out. The BOD must read and submit
changes to Jeff or Larry within the next 2 weeks. These Packages will be handed
out to all who pass their exams.A motion was made for HCRA to pay for the printing of the Welcome Package. The front page should be printed in color with printing on both sides. Staples is the preferred vendor for printing.

In Favor – 7
Apposed – 0

A motion was made for HCRA to pay for the printing of the HCRA tri-fold as well.
In Favor -7
Apposed – 0

Stub J-Pole Project:

The material has been purchased and cut. 80% of the project is complete.

License class exams:

Classes will be held on April 27,28, and 30. With Saturday being a full day.
Bob, K1YO has volunteered to help with the Extra Class.

DXLabs Class:

Setup will be on Feb 6th starting at 9am. Looks like 6-7 people will be in the class.
The Club will supply Coffee and donuts.


New Business

Field Day:

We need Band captains ! Band captains bring their own radios and computers.
Antennas and antenna accessories are supplied by the Club.

Larry W1AST has volunteered to step up for 40m CW.
Jeff NT1K will be contacting the Parks & Rec dept.

Field Day will be discussed at the next membership meeting.

Open Floor

More special classes and presentations.

– Introduction to digital modes
– Tips and Tricks on Towers
– Contesting in general/Awards chasing
– Member Benefits

EZ-UP with Walls

Gary made a query as to purchasing a good EZ-UP for the Club. In the $300 range.

One with walls. A motion to purchase a EZ-UP with walls and not to exceed $300
was made.

In Favor – 7
Apposed – 0

The Big E’s 100th

The discussion was around HCRA participating for only a weekend. Gary will look
into getting permission and location. Participants will be required to purchase their own entry tickets for each day. To be successful, we need to make this a very
big deal. SDR’s, HF live, Multiple Monitors, tower, large antenna. More will be
discussed at the next BOD meeting .

Next meeting with be in Mid March and be a VOIP meeting.
Jeff will be handling the details with “Google Hangouts”

HCRA’s 250 Raffle – Win A Kenwood TS-590SG

Win A Kenwood TS-590SG


Tickets Just $10 EA


It’s that time for the Hampden County Radio Associations (HCRA) annual raffle. This year the board of directors wanted to raffle off a 100w base station transceiver. The Kenwood TS-590SG ($1700 Retail) was the perfect choice because it’s a very excellent radio packed with features that rival radios that cost much more. It’s an HF-6M 100W with 32bit DSP that has excellent receiver according to sherwood engineering. Some of the features include

  • Auto Tuner
  • On Screen CW decoding
  • HF and 6M Antenna Jacks
  • Programmable Functions
  • 500hz / 2.7kHz  Roofing Filters
  • USB Port
  • Noise Reduction
  • Down Conversion

HCRA has printed 250 tickets. Due to the price of the item, HCRA has put a limit on the minimum amount of tickets that can be sold before the raffle is allowed to take place. If the minimum amount has been reached, the item will be raffled at the Mount Tom Amateur Repeater Association’s Ham Fest in 2016. We’re asking $10 for each ticket.

Tickets will be available at HCRA meetings, VE Sessions at Holyoke Medical Center, Field Day, Selected area Hamfest/Fleamarkets and through the board of directors.

HCRA Trailer Day

This past weekend some of your HCRA BOD members were hard at work getting the trailer in ready for field day!


We’ve took almost everything out the trailer and made note of any damaged or missing items. We also partially assembled one of two WRTC TX-38 antennas that we’ve purchased to get a general idea of how it will be assembled. Even though there are a lot of parts, it’s not really that bad.

Over the winter HCRA has acquired another 40 meter 2 element beam that is the same make and model as the one we already have. Since we’ve moved to school street park, we’ve been using  40m beams on both CW and SSB but we’ve always had to borrow the 2nd beam. Now we have two beams.


The beam has seen better days however but the traps are decent shape and there is no major damage other than crack in one of the support arms that doesn’t effect the antenna. The antenna also has rusted and missing U-bolts. We lightly sanded the antenna, assembled as much as we could and tested the driven element.



We hoisted the driven element up into a tree and hooked it up to an analyzer

Screenshot_2015-05-17-13-19-22Results are not bad considering the testing conditions. Once the replacement parts show up, I think we will have a decent beam to add to our stock. We will no longer have to beg people to use their antennas as we’re now fully stocked

The AB-577 towers

For many years whenever we needed to put up a fourth tower, we’ve always had to ask a club member to use their personal AB-577. Since we’re now located at School Street Park in Agawam, having a 4th tower is important due to the lack of trees with the height for a 40 or 80m wire antenna. This year proved quite difficult to obtain a 4th tower so we thought we should purchase one. Thankfully the Mount Tom Amateur Repeater Association (MTARA) had an AB-577 they were willing to sell. We’ve since picked it up and it’s now with the other AB-577s we have in stock. It’s in really good condition with no work needed. This means we no longer have to beg people to use their tower. If there were ever a situation other than Field Day where we would have to set these up, it will much easier to deploy and we would hopefully have enough.

Overall the day went well. Other than a couple broken bolts/clamps, the list is quite small. We now have a better understanding of the TX-38s and having the 4th AB-577 made things much better and easier.

If you’re going to be in the Agawam Area on the weekend of June 27th, please stop by school street park and say hello. We’re also looking for volunteers to help with setup, operating and teardown. Without volunteers, Field Day at School street park will not be possible. So please check out the Field Day page for more information.

Hope to see you there!

– Jeff (NT1K
HCRA At-Large


Welcome to the 2014 – 2015 Year

OK, here we go. It the first meeting of the year tomorrow night at the Holyoke Medical Center at 7:30.

There will be the usual camaraderie, 3 that’s right 3 guest speakers. KK1W, W1MSW, and W1MOR. All have short presentations on these summers’ activities that the club participated in in one way or another, They will be talking about Field Days and WRTC.

There will be chances for you to buy your HCRA 250 Raffle tickets for a nice KX3.

Renew you membership and get entered for a MFJ 266B antenna analyzer.

Win an Elecraft KX3! – HCRA Raffle

HCRA’s raffle this year is going to be for a Elecraft KX3!


(Raffle for radio only! Antenna, angle adapter, microphone and keyer not included)

For a mere $10 donation to the HCRA, you get a chance to win an assembled KX3 by Elecraft valued at around $1000.

This is an very popular and excellent HF portable radio that has an excellent receiver, low power consumption, can run on external power or 8AA batteries internally, it can transmit up to 12W and has plenty of options like an 100W amplifier, 2M module, pan adapter, ATU, Roofing filters, internal battery charger, custom CW paddle and others that can be added later.

HCRA has printed only 250 tickets and we will start selling them during field day 2014. Tickets will also be sold at meetings and other events throughout 2014 and part of 2015. The drawing will happen when all 250 tickets have been sold or during MTARA’s Hamfest in March of 2015. Plenty of time to obtain your chance.

Raffle is just for the Elecraft KX3 Transceiver only.
Drawing Date Subject To Change

60th Anniversary of HCRA Field Day Inferno

This year’s Field Day will mark the 60th anniversary of HCRA’s Field Day that didn’t happen. In 2010, Jim/KK1W asked Jack/W1WEF, an HCRA member in 1954, to give an account of the event. Jack gives a wonderful narrative on ham radio in Hampden County at that time, as well as what happened that day. The photo posted here was the 2004 W1NY QSL card marking the 50th anniversary of the event.

No fires planned for this year, but we do hope that you’ll come out and participate in field day.  It’s  a great chance to hang out with fellow club members and operate on HF radios and antennas you might not have access to at home. Please contact Matt/W1MSW or leave a comment below this post for more information.


Hampden County Radio Club Memories                     Jack Schuster   W1WEF

I was asked by KK1W to possibly give a short talk to the Hampden County Radio Club on my recollection of the Field Day fire on Wilbraham Mountain. I doubted I could remember enough to talk about for more than a couple minutes, but thought I’d see what I could remember in general from my earliest ham radio Field Days while a member of the club.

Licensed in 1952 at the age of 13, I was probably a member from around 1953 to 1956.   I can remember getting a ride to meetings…I think from Roger Corey, W1JYH at that time…W1AX now.  Roger lived on the next street, but the end of one of his wire antenna was only 100 ft from my bedroom window where my shack was located.

 In my early days of ham radio, it seemed like everyone built their own rigs. I’ll never forget my transmitter with a pair of 807’s…those were tubes before they were beers …that I built from an article in an issue of my Dad’s “Radio News” magazine.  As soon as I turned it on, the 807’s blew. I checked and rechecked my wiring, and my Dad did the same, but we couldn’t figure it out. After blowing a second pair of tubes, I asked Roger if he could take a look and see if he could figure out what was wrong.  I think it took Rog about three minutes to see that the screen and control grid pins were swapped on the schematic in the magazine. As a result, screen voltage was being applied to the control grid and zappo!  After that experience I converted the rig to 6146’s and had no further problems.

I was an active CW op in those days as I am now, and did a lot of traffic handling on the Western Ma net, First Regional Net and Eastern Area Net. Through the National traffic system,  I met a few other Hampden county members  I  recall. Art Zavarella , W1MNG (later W1KK) was on Western Mass Net every night. I remember Bob Julian , W1DVW also being active…and in later years learned that Art was Chief Engineer at the Springfield Armory, and  I think Bob was head of Research. It was probably because a good friend of our family was Art’s secretary and she always referred to me  as “Jackie“, that Art called me “ Jackie”  also as long as I knew him!

A few other CW op calls from the club that I remember were W1WEN, Bob Little, W1WDW, Don LeFebvre, W1SRM Ken DeCelle, and of course W1EOB, Vic Paounoff. Vic is now N4XR and in his 90’s is doing great. Ham Radio helped me get thru college…despite all the time I spent in the ham shack at U Mass. Vic hired me for three summers at Sickles where I was a troubleshooter on the TV tuner  production line, back in those days when we had an American TV industry.  Sickles was building the majority of the tuners used in every manufacturer’s TV sets back then. It was in HCRC that I met Jean and Norm Peacor, K1IJU and K1IJV. Jean also was a CW Op handling traffic in those days.

I remember Eunice and Bob, W1UKR and W1KUL who were active members of the club. Eunice was active in handling traffic on 75M, and a good phone op. Bob was a good engineer, working for Monsanto and building the station that did well for Eunice from a small city lot in Springfield. I remember their Johnson Ranger that Bob built from a kit, a rig I could only dream about in those days. I can also recall attending a lecture on modulator design that Bob presented on the U Mass campus. It’s funny how you never forget some little things that you learned at a young age. It was on a Hampden County Field Day that Bob Gordon saw me stripping some 14 ga antenna wire with dikes, and he showed me a neat trick that I use to this day. Instead of cutting part way thru the insulation to strip it with the business end of the dikes, he showed me how to first crush the insulation with the side opposite the cutters, and then just cut the insulation without nicking the wire.

I can remember FD that year was in a field somewhere in Hampden. I can remember Hank Baier, W1NY being there, as well as the Peacors and Hal, W1UPH. I probably only operated 3 or 4 Field Days with the club, but I remember going to the home of W1CJK, Bill Werenski one year in Holyoke for a FD planning session.

I also remember operating FD  (maybe 1953) on top of Wilbraham Mountain in someone’s back yard right on the ridge of the mountain. I seem to recall that the fellow was somehow associated with Springfield Sound company, and was not a ham, but others in the club who worked there were hams. The name Bob Lyman comes to mind. I know I did some CW operating that FD, but I recall being really impressed by how many Qs they were knocking off on 2M using a Gonset Communicator, aka a “Gooney Box“.

In those days, it seemed like the ham population density was far greater than it is today…at least that of active HF operators. W1JYH was one street to my West. W1QUQ was on the next street. W1KFV, Bob Leeson was one street to my East. Dick Stevens, W1QWJ was  a few houses from Bob Leeson. W1CCH, Lyle Luce was a big VHFer with 144 elements on 2 M just North of me about 300 yds away.

In those days, radio supply places were abundant. In Springfield alone, we had Springfield Sound (later Soundco), Springfield Radio owned by Lou Richmond W1AVK, Cushing Radio owned by Frank Cushing whose call I cant remember, Knapp Radio who sold radio kits and components, Hatry and Young owned by Murray Dressler…another ham. All sold components and some sold ham gear. That was a time when the only Radio Shack was in Boston, and it was primarily a Ham radio supplier. There was also a Lafayette radio in town, come to think of it, and there were even Lafayette ham rigs! How times change…today the computer stores like Comp USA are already disappearing!

That brings me to my last FD with the club, the reason I was invited to test my memory. After exchanging a couple emails with Mike, N0HI (ed. now N1TA), Mike mentioned a club QSL with a photo of a fire atop Wilbraham Mountain on a club field day. I told Mike I’d love to have one of those cards, because I the last one out of the structure that burned. We were getting set up for FD on Saturday morning in a terrific location atop Wilbraham Mountain. We had the use of  a wooden tower structure which at one time probably housed a concession stand on the ground level, and had an inside staircase going to an observation room on the top level. As I recall it was maybe 4 or 5 stories high and resembled a Dutch Windmill tower but with a porch all around the first level.  It had been closed for some time before the club got permission to use it for FD.

The VHF/UHF station was going to be on top, and the HF stations on the lower level. We would be protected from the weather, as it was all enclosed an ideal FD setup. I was on the top level after carrying up some gear, when someone down below yelled “FIRE”!

I was the only one on top at the time, and went flying down the staircase but grabbed a fire extinguisher that was on a landing at the second level. Unfortunately the fire extinguisher didn’t work, but I don’t remember how big the fire was at that point. It might not have mattered if it worked because the dust covered wooden structure was doomed to go down fast. Everyone got out in time, and I don’t think any of the gear on the first level was lost. All was lost on top however, including some homebrew gear that Bill Rosner, W1RFU had used to set records.

I think it was no more than ten minutes when the tower was burned to the ground. The cause was declared to be spontaneous combustion. Needless to say, the club didn’t operate FD that year!

short FD follow up

I would like to thank every one that participated in any and all ways in FD. This was a new adventure for us. New location, new set-up, new people. We had a great time. There was some mistake made but, hey, were are only amateurs.

The set up crew was awesome, the operating crew was great, a few SNAFUs but nothing we could not handle. Tear down went smoothly, and the trailer was repacked neatly.

The town of Agawam was also really accommodating for us. They showed where the water lines were and the sprinkler heads. They even brought some picnic tables.

Had a short talk with the park and rec while returning the keys and was told that we were invited to use the park again next year:).


VE3DVY Video: Introduction to N1MM Logger and ARRL Field Day

I found this little gem that VE3DVY put together on Field Day and using N1MM:

This video is a great introduction to logging with N1MM. It only goes over using N1MM while logging and leaves out all the N1MM configuration info that you don’t need to know for field day.  If it still seems too complicated, don’t worry, it’s not. We’ll walk you through it this weekend when you show up to operate. You are going to be there to operate, right?

Probably the most important and hardest thing to remember is pressing CTRL+o  and entering your callsign when you sit down at the station. This signs you into the software and will let everyone else on the network know that you’re on that particular station and it assigns your callsign (or name if you don’t have a callsign) to each log entry. When you are finished operating at that station, it’s always a good idea to press CTRL+o again so the prompt is waiting for the next person who comes by to operate and so that they won’t log QSOs under your call.

See you all at School Street Park in Agawam this weekend!