From the Shack – Special April 2018 Edition

Dave Fant / WM1B

This special Edition; is a supplement to the April Zero Beat which you will be receiving shortly from our Editor, Gary who is under the weather right now – so. I wanted to get this information out to you right away.

I am really excited to be back in Hampden County! While Florida was nice, it is great to be at my home QTH where I can crank up the 590 and use the home shack! Thanks to the Board members (especially Larry/W1AST) who handled the meetings while I was gone.

We have some exciting items coming up with Spring upon us, NEQP – our party on the air (More on this later); Rookie Roundup with some new rules that will allow more to qualify as Rookies, Field Day which is our chance as the Premier Radio Club in Western Mass to show off to the communities, and of course our election of officers (More on that later also). So, we have lots going on in the next 3 months. Be sure to come to our April 6th meeting for additional information. We have a lot planned for a really stuffed full night!

April Meeting
At the April Meeting we will have our SHOW N TELL session where you can bring the items that you have been working on over the past cold winter. Where has the SWAP N SELL gone? Well it is coming back! Before the meeting the SWAP N SELL will be present! Bring those odd items from your shack that have been cluttering up you space and pick up a few coins (so you can buy stuff to fill the vacant space!)

Mail Service
Upon my return I was hit with a problem with our mail service. It seemed that many of you had mail sent to HCRA returned as undeliverable. After meeting with the Agawam PO, we determined that the Box had been closed. We were able to get the Box reopened and back in operation. You may have received mail returned to you listed “Non-Deliverable”. This may have included your dues check, applications, or other mail. It turns out that this may have gone as far back as October of last year. This was strictly the result of miscommunication between individuals who were authorized to pick up the
mail. The mail had not been picked up for some time and when the renewal notice was placed in the box, it was not handled and the box subsequently locked and all mail in the box was returned to sender. While this caused some serious problems, it has been resolved with new procedures established to ensure this does not happen again. I personally along with the entire Board, apologize for this mix-up and ask that if you have any questions you contact us. We assure you that all is now operating correctly.
PO Box 562 Agawam, is now open for business!

Field day is only three months away – that is less than 90 days! This is one of the most exciting events we have. A chance for the whole club to get together and have a fun weekend. It was the first club event I participated in as a new HAM. Time for all operators, Rookie and Old Time alike to work together and have some fun. Not operating? enjoy a donut or a cup of coffee with others under the Shelter. Once again it will be at the School Street park in Agawam, same place as the last few years. Come on out and become involved, whether it is for a few minutes, a few hours, or the entire weekend. Plenty of different type of activities available, from setting up to operating, to eating, to taking down and packing up. The more that come the less work for a few. Come on and join the fun! Some big  surprises ahead as the time gets closer.

New England QSO Party
May 5-6, 2018
It’s been six years since we had an April “Special Edition” of Zero Beat. The New England QSO Party is just around the corner and we felt we had to ‘do it again’ and get the word out. As it works out the dates are exactly the same as they were in 2012! Go figure.

There’s been a slight change in the HCRA sponsored plaque for NEQP.
Starting this year (2018) the winner of the plaque will be the operator with: High Score, Low Power, and Hampden County. Moving to the low power category (less than 150 watts) will level the playing field and offer greater opportunity for smaller stations to be competitive in this great event.

Last year there were 21 different stations operating in Hampden County completing 538 QSO’s. I’ll bet, with just a little effort, we could do maybe 50% better than 2017 – but we need your help. We need you to get into your ham radio shack and have some fun! Let’s shoot for 30 stations and 750 QSO’s in 2018. With your help I’ll bet we might do even better.

What’s the New England QSO Party you ask?
HCRA has many new members so maybe it’s worth reviewing exactly what a QSO  party is? It’s not like a  regular party. You don’t have to dress up (but you could), get up early or stay up late. What you do have to do is get on the air! In this case amateur radio operators in the six New England states are throwing the party. Hams everywhere outside of New England are invited to contact us and all our friends in the New England states. They won’t be looking for somebody from Ohio or Texas, only people New England states.

Yes, it is a contest, but it’s fun at the same time. There’s competition to work all 67 counties in New England as well as to get the highest score. The winner (outside of New England) will get a lobster dinner for their effort. New England operators get the opportunity to make contacts, hand out counties/states and, if you want to, accumulate points for certificates and awards. The exchange is simple (the exchange is the info you give to the person contacting you) and consists of signal report, county and
state. On phone you would (if you’re in Hampden County) give a signal report, Hampden County, Massachusetts. On CW that would be signal report, HMDMA. The website referenced in the title has all the three letter county abbreviations.

You get one point for each phone contact and two for CW or digital. I wonder how many operators will try the new FT8 digital mode this year? If you think you’ll make a lot of contacts you may want to use a logging program. The free N1MM logger plus supports NEQP and is downloadable at www.n1mm.hamdocs.com/tiki-index.php.

The contest starts at 4:00 PM (EDT) Saturday, May 5th and ends Sunday, May 6th at 8:00 PM. Unlike most contests, you MUST take a break, from 1:00 AM until 9:00 AM Sunday morning. Yes sir, you can even get some sleep with this contest! NEQP is an HF only contest (80/40/20/15/10 meters) on voice, CW and digital.

What, you don’t have a ‘shack’?
Not a problem, why not go mobile! Even better, if you don’t want to battle for the HCRA award, drive to a rare county and operate from there. You’d be surprised how they will hunt you down and put you in their logs on the way to ‘hopefully’ winning that lobster dinner. See the NEQP web page for mobile details.


High score in various categories will earn you certificates or a beautiful plaque. But even if you don’t win anything every time you get an answer to your CQ you will be helping another operator get a few points closer to a lobster dinner.

As noted above, HCRA sponsors a beautiful plaque for the station operating in
Hampden County that has the highest score while running low power. These are gorgeous plaques and will add beauty to any shack.

Fun Facts
Looking for your Worked All States award? That hard to find Wyoming station will be looking for YOU for a change.

There are three other QSO parties running this weekend also: The Delaware QSO Party, Indiana QSO party and 7th Call Area QSO Party (7QP). If you want to participate in those contests N1MM (and other logging programs) will track your QSO’s automatically. At the end of the contest you end up submitting logs for all four. How cool is that!

The first NEQP was held in 2002. That year two mobile teams from HCRA did a mobile operation roving between counties. N1SR/AA1TE severely trounced KK1W/WB1Z with 17,105 points to 403

In 2005 another HCRA mobile team, this time comprised of N1SR and KK1W using our club call W1NY making QSO’s from 39 New England counties, a record that still stands.

This is a work everyone/everywhere contest. You get points for every contact made  whether inside or outside of New England or outside the United States. That’s pretty cool!
It’s just plain FUN!

HCRA Competition
Although there isn’t a club category in this contest we can still have a little home grown competition.  I’m sure someone will start a Facebook thread posting their successes and scores, then the rest of us can pile on!

Looking for even more fun? Why not open up your station for a multi-operator effort? With all the new amateurs coming on board this is a nice way to welcome them into the hobby and give them a taste of HF operating. Not only will you have fun it’s also a good way to get the shack cleaned up too! There’s nothing like inviting folks over to make you notice all that ‘stuff’ you’ve been meaning to put away, right?

If you’ve never tried HF, contesting or don’t have a station QRV (on the air) yet let us know at the April meeting. We’ll try to get you ‘hooked up’ with someone willing to spend a little time getting you on theair. By the end of the contest you’ll have relegated those ‘training wheels’ in the closet and be operating like a pro!

So mark your calendar for the first weekend in May and plan on some ham radio fun! The rest of the country will be looking for YOU!

It is not to early to begin to think about the upcoming elections. Again the more who become involved, the less the work is for a few. We have many available positions so Think about what you would like to do for your club. We hope to have a list of those who are running for the April meeting. We have some important positions to be filled, Zero Beat Editor and Program Director. Larry Krainson has prepared a summary of the Program Director to show what it entails.

Planning A HCRA Meeting, It’s Easier Than You Think!
I hear the comment often “Program Director” is the hardest job on the HCRA board. No, it’s not. It’s really very easy if you know these key steps.
1. You are a ham and have an interest in all things radio and more
2. You go to meetings, flea markets, conventions and are always looking around
3. You look at displays and think, “I’d like to learn more about that”
Those are the main things. Having an interest in ham and electronics and often think you’d like to learn more about an advertisement, subject, radio, nearly anything.

So how do I turn that into a meeting?
1. While reading or being out and about, make a note to yourself to investigate that idea/item, subject/person/whatever further.
2. Possibly approach said person and ask if they would like to come speak to the HCRA and get their email or best contact info.
3. Send them an email asking if they’d be interested in coming and speaking to the HCRA and  if they are, check the schedule and offer some dates.
4. Record the speaker info and confirmation date on your calendar and speaker list with contact info.
5. Send an email with that info to the ZB editor and President.
6. About a week or two before the meeting, contact the guest speaker again to remind them and provide meeting location and time
7. A few days before reach out again and provide your phone number and remind when the doors open (7pm) and what time the meeting starts (7:30pm)
8. Save all email correspondence with the speaker for future reference.

All guest speakers have access to the PA system plus the projector and wifi and mention that to them.

The day of the meeting, bring a mug to hand to them as thanks for speaking to us.

Still don’t have any ideas? Then troll other clubs in New England for some interesting ones and speaker contacts. You can google each New England state ham clubs and read back thru maybe 6 months of their newsletter if it’s on line. Usually there are some very good speakers to be had this way. I think I did this once during the past 4-5 years when I briefly ran out of ideas.

Anything that you’re interested in, others most likely are too. Plan a meeting and everyone will learn more.

I look forward to attending future meetings that you have planned.

73, Larry, W1AST


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