World Amateur Radio Day 2014

 Quoted from the ARRL Website.
““Amateur Radio: Your Gateway to Wireless Communication” is the theme for World Amateur Radio Day 2014, Friday, April 18. Radio amateurs celebrate World Amateur Radio Day each year on April 18 to recognize the anniversary of the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) in Paris in 1925. ARRL Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, was its first president. The primary purpose of World Amateur Radio Day is to highlight Amateur Radio and its benefits to countries and communities. This year the IARU and its more than 150 member-societies are marking the organization’s 89th anniversary.”

The HCRA will be at the MTARA Hamfest, will you?

On Saturday, March 1st, 2014, the Mount Tom Amateur Repeater Association will host its 26th annual Hamfest. This year it will be held at the Moose Family Center, 244 Fuller Rd, Chicopee, MA 01020.

The annual MTARA Hamfest offers a good variety of commercial sellers, private sellers and amateur radio clubs. You’ll find new gear, used gear, reconditioned equipment, odds & ends as well as items Hams may no longer need, that might be just what you were looking for!

In addition to the great things you’ll find there, the MTARA Hamfest a great place for a meet and greet, such as welcoming back those Ham-Snowbirds, or putting a face to that voice you’ve heard on-the-air. As in past years, the HCRA will be there and we encourage our club members to stop by the club’s table and say hello. We’ll have some items of interest, as well as offering HCRA *250* Raffle Tickets.

You can find more information about this event, by checking out the MTARA 26th annual Hamfest flyer.

Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan

The Federal Government has a guide to implement Amateur Radio in times of emergency, that guide is called the ‘Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG). Likewise Massachusetts has it’s own guide, that guide is titled the ‘Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan’.

In it’s introduction, the Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan states:
“This plan contains the details of how the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is implemented across Massachusetts. Instructions and general operating procedures presented in this document are applicable to message traffic handling by RACES and used in all RACES training. All amateur radio operators are encouraged to use this document in training and/or activated net operations.” While the introduction specifically mentions RACES, this operations manual includes sections on RACES and SKYWARN.

Some of the topics covered in the MARECP include:
– Identification of Operators.
– RACES Net Hierarchy.
– Frequencies.
– Available Simplex Frequencies – Per NESMC.
– Net Control Duties and Authority.
– Net Preamble for Massachusetts RACES Nets.
– Massachusetts RACES Message Format

If you’re already a member of RACES, ARES or SKYWARN, your going to want to read this document. After which you may want to print it to keep a hard-copy on-hand. To those interested in these groups, Emergency Communications (emcomm), or Hams simply wanting to brush up on Good Operating Practices, I encourage you to read this plan.

Please click on this link, to view the Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan. Note: it’s in PDF format.

Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now refers to Amateur Radio groups such as ARES, RACES, REACT and other EMCOMM organizations, by the terms “Auxiliary Communications (Service)” and/or “Auxiliary Emergency Communications”.

To assist what the DHS now calls Auxiliary Communications, the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has released a publication titled the ‘Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG)’. On one of the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) own webpages, they describe the AUXFOG this way:
“The Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) is a new reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an Amateur Radio organization supporting public safety.
This reference guide contains information about AuxComm best practices, frequently used radio frequencies, Mutual Aid channels as well as tips and suggestions about auxiliary emergency communicators integrating into a NIMS ICS environment to support communications for planned events or incidents. It can serve as a reference both for auxiliary emergency communicators and public safety communications professionals.”

While printed copies are not available from the DHS, or the ICTAP, you may download a electronic copy here: AUXFOG_21_November_2013. Please note the AUXFOG is in PDF format, and is about 3MB in size.

Twitter Is -Not- The Woodpecker Of Old…

Many of our older, Er, Ah, I mean…more experienced Hams in the club, may recall the “Russian Woodpecker”. Beginning around 1976 till around 1989 when it ceased, this powerful radio signal was heard world wide and when triangulated, the source was found to emanate from inside the Ukraine. Hence the name, the Russian Woodpecker.

Twitter’s only metonymy with the Russian Woodpecker is the use of the bird metaphor in their names. The Russian Woodpecker wanted to disrupt communications, Twitter wants to facilitate them.

As Amateur Radio Operators, one of our goals is to communicate with as many good friends, and make as many new friends as possible using our radios. Similarly, as a club the HCRA needs to communicate with as many of its members (and our friends) as it can. By using Twitter, the club has one more item in it’s tool-kit to do just that.

Twitter is easy to use, accessible via PC as well as any number of mobile devices, and proven itself to be an effective way to share information and ideas. Be it between people who follow other people, or people who follow institutions, such as our club.

A major plus Twitter has going for it, is that while not everyone has time to log onto the internet, then go to websites browsing text files, most everyone has time to look at a quick message sent to them containing 140 characters…or less! That’s right, in about 30 seconds you can instantly learn what’s happening with your club. These Tweets may include a link that would provide you with more information and content.

So, it’s with the above in mind, the Hampden County Radio Association created its own Twitter account called “Hampden County RA” or “@HampdenCountyRA” and we encourage all our members to follow us on Twitter. It’s easy to locate, you can find it by simply clicking on this link: We look forward to your follows, and all club members who follow @HampdenCountyRA, will be followed back.

One last thing, to alleviate any concerns, be assured this is the official and -only- account the Hampden County Radio Association has on Twitter.

November Zero Beat has “hit the streets“

This month’s meeting is only a few days away. Take a look at the latest  Zero Beat so you can be up to date on what our members our doing.

Be sure to come early to the meeting for Tech Corner with Bob/K1YO. This month’s subject is magnetic loop antennas. Don’t know what they are? That’s why you should come early 🙂

Tech Corner will be followed by this month’s feature; all about POTA presented by Dave/N1MFL and Dan/KB1VEQ.

Coffee and donuts (there might even be cider) by Bruce/KB1TLX.

See you there!




May Zero Beat is now available!

Click here (saves time going to the Zero Beat archive page!

Another good issue this month, please take the time to check out Frandy’s hard work. Thanks also to the authors submitting articles too!

Friday’s meeting should be a good one. The weather is predicted to be perfect for takeing a tour of the MCU (Mobile Communications Unit), then retire inside for a Powerpoint presentation by Bill/W1GTT about the trailer and how their club works with the state of CT to provide emergency communications.

NEAR-fest should be outstanding this year too with good weather predicted for both days! A great place for ham radio bargain hunting.

See you Friday night,


I need articles and photos for Zero Beat!

Anyone for dropping me an email with photos or articles of interest to HCRA members? If you are tired of seeing SOTA articles you should submit something to me for upcoming issues of Zero Beat — I would like material by early next week. (Sorry, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more SOTA items!) An article doesn’t have to be fancy — I will take care of formatting, font selection and so on. Send text or .doc to

73, Frandy, N1FJFrandy, N1FJ