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: https://twitter.com/HampdenCountyRA. 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.

HCRA is accepting renewals online!

That’s right! You can now renew your HCRA membership online using either your credit card or PayPal account.

You can get there two ways. One is by clicking here and the other is by going to the membership menu and clicking on “Online Renewal”. Once at the new page, all you have to do is enter in your callsign and your current e-mail address you would like to be contacted at and then press the “Pay Now” button. You will be then taken to a secure payment page where you can use your PayPal account or If you don’t have one, please click on “Pay with a debit or credit card”. Fill out the required information and the HCRA will be notified.

Please note: This is a payment option in addition to the others. So if you prefer to mail in your membership or pay at a meeting then that is fine. This is just another option for those who asked.

At the current time, Online payment is for renewals only! New members please
go HERE.

Thank you,
Jeff – NT1K

PayPal Acceptance Mark

2014 Election draws near, nominations entertained.

Hi folks,

The 2014 Election will be held at our June 7th meeting. As in years past many board members have once again raised their hands to help guide HCRA through another year of fun and excitement. For many of them this will be another year of many serving HCRA. Wouldn’t it be great if YOU stepped forward and offered a little bit of time every month to ensure our club is the best it can be? Not only would it provide some ‘down time’ for a present board member – more importantly it is an opportunity to bring new views, different ideas and more exciting activities to our club. Are you ready to give it a try?

Listed below is the slate as it stands right now. There’s only one position shown open but we are VERY open to nominations for all positions. As a team we are flexible, supportive and willing to move our present positions around to accommodate a new member. If it turns out we have more than one candidate for a position even better. We can hold a run off election in June, how cool is that?

It says a lot about our present board and their effectiveness that there aren’t a lot of ‘willing volunteers’ for nominations. Unfortunately that’s a double edged sword. Although things are going well, if we don’t encourage new board members we’ll eventually stagnate and then comes the ‘upheaval’. HCRA has been through these in the past and we should attempt to avoid it in the future. Enough rambling on, here’s the slate as it stands on March 16th.

HCRA Proposed Slate of Officers/Directors for 2014

At large: John/Kx1x
Membership: Rich/N1KXR
Technical: OPEN
Program: Matt/W1MSW
Zero Beat Editor: Frandy/N1FJ

Secretary: Dave/N1MFL
Treasurer: Dave/AA1YW
Vice President: Ed/KB1NWH
President: Jim/KK1W

Trust me, if you’re interested in making HCRA a better, stronger organization there is a place for you on the board. Contact Jim/KK1W and lets talk.

Building a portable 12 Volt DC power source

If you’re like me, you not only enjoy your radios in the comfort of your shack, but like to go outside to “play radio” in events such as the upcoming 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest. This is a contest where I enjoy being a rover station. I also take part in spontaneous DX parties, public service events such as road races and providing Amateur Radio communications in times of need to such organizations as the American Red Cross. All of these activities at one time or another may require that battery power be used, as commercial power may simply not be available.

In this article, I’m going to discuss how I made my 12 Volt DC portable power source. I urge you to make, and have an auxiliary power available for yourself in the event you find yourself without commercial power. Fortunately for me, except for the battery box, everything else I needed was found around my shack and home.

The components of my 12 Volt DC portable power source include:
1. Four Anderson Powerpoles – Two red, two black and all with 45AMP barrel connectors.
2. 10 gage red/black zip-cord power wire (It’s best if you not use speaker wire).
3. Heat-shrink tubing of various sizes.
4. Two battery post terminals, for the AGM 12 Volt battery.
5. One 4-pole snap-in panel mount for 2 sets of Anderson Powerpoles.
6. Two Velcro Velstraps – 3ft X 2in
7. One 12 Volt (AGM) vehicle battery. As your power needs may vary, and there are any numbers of detailed articles about battery selection, I’m not going to cover that here.
8. One full-sized battery box.

Go-Kit Components
Go-Kit Components

Once the components were laid out, the first thing I did was to turn over the battery box. Then with my trusty Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut out two thin rectangle holes just big enough to pass one of the Velstraps through [Picture A.]. Once the holes were made, starting from inside the box; I simply passed the Velstrap out one of the holes, across the underside of the box, then back into the box via the other hole [Picture B]. This Velstrap will later be used to hold the battery in place, once it’s inside the battery box.

Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom
Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom

I next took the top of the battery box, and again using the Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut a square hole measuring 1.00 inch by 1.25 inches. This hole will later be used as a place to insert the 4-pole snap-in panel mount to hold the Anderson Powerpoles [Picture I].

The wiring came next. Following proper techniques, I crimped a 45 AMP barrel connector onto each of the four wire leads of a 10 gauge red/black zip-cord power wire. Then, keeping with ARES/RACES standard orientation, I assembled the red and black connectors (tongue down, hood up, red on the left, black on the right as viewed opposite the wire side). With each pair assembled, I then joined the two pairs together, one set over the other. NOTE: When using large gauge wire, it’s easier to put the connector housings together before putting the barrel connectors in.

Once the four connector housings were together, I inserted the wire lead’s barrel connectors into their corresponding connector housings. Red into red, black into black. Using the proper sized heat-shrink tubing, I fed both sets of zip-cords through it, then brought the heat-shrink tubing all the way up until it met the base of the Powerpole connectors. I applied heat and shrunk the tubing in place.

Using a sharp knife, I then split the ends of the zip-cords and separated the red side from the black side all the way up till it reached the heat-shrink tubing near the Powerpole connectors. I then fed both red wire leads into one length of heat-shrink tubing, then both black wire leads into a separate length of heat-shrink tubing. On both sets of wire leads, I left a generous amount of wire extending beyond the heat-shrink tubing. I applied heat and shrunk each of the tubes around their respective wire lead sets.

Powerpole connectors on, power-leads separated then heat-shrunk together by polarity, it was time to insert the four-gang of Powerpole connectors into the 4-pole snap-in panel. The Powerpole connectors simply slide in to the 4-pole snap-in panel and are held in place by inserting a retaining pin [Picture II].

Were almost home, just a few more steps: Holding the lid at the distance I wanted it to be from the bottom of the box, I measured out the length the wire leads from the 4-pole snap-in panel to the battery posts needed to be, then cut off the excess wire. Now cut to length, I inserted both red and black sets of wire leads into a single heat-shrink tubing. I remembered to leave enough of the wire leads exposed in order for me to later attach these wire leads to the battery terminals. I then applied heat and shrunk the tubing. Once the heat-shrink tubing cooled, to minimize movement of the wiring harness I secured it to the top of the box. After striping away enough of the outer coating, I attached each set of wire leads to their respective battery terminals and attached the battery terminals to the battery posts [Picture III].

Assembled Components
Assembled Components

The above having been completed, I placed the top onto the bottom of the battery box and secured it using the last Velstrap…Done! I now had a safe, secure and ARES/RACES standard orientation compliant source of 12 Volt DC power.

Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source
Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source

It’s my hope that this article, by showing you how with readily available components and it’s quick and easy assembly, you’ll be motivated to create your own portable 12 Volt DC power source.  After all, the bottom line is this: You never know when that next event will cause the lose of power to your shack, and there’s no guarantee there’ll be commercial power available at the places you go to, or get called to. A piece of equipment like this will give you one more way to be ready to get on, and stay on the air.


Rich – N1KXR

Ham Radio License Plates

Looking out over the pool of cars at the local Ham Club’s meeting, or across the ocean of cars at a regional Ham-fest, one can’t help but notice one thing. “Antennas!” you call out. Well yeah, you’re right there. So, let me back up and say there are two things one can’t help but notice as you check out the cars, and yes the first one being the wheat-field of antennas. The second is…Ham (call-sign) license plates.

Did you know that Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to issue vehicle license plates beginning in June of 1903, but the first Mass. Amateur Radio license plate wasn’t issued until 1964? While Hams are not required by law to display a call-sign plate on their vehicle, many Amateur Radio operators elect to get and proudly display them. After all, no one else may attach this style of plate to their vehicle, and only you have your call-sign!

What do I need to do to get a set for my vehicle you ask? It’s easy, simply download Form 21584-0911 “Application For Ham Radio Operators Plates” from the Registry of Motor Vehicles website at: http://www.massrmv.com/rmv/forms/21584.pdf, or pick one up at your local Mass. Registry office. Once you have it, fill it out, then send it in along with a copy of your current and valid FCC license plus a check for $20 payable to MassDOT. And before you know it, your vehicle will be sporting its own set of Ham license plates.

License plate for N1KXR




Privileges Has Its Membership

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the American Express Company’s saying “Membership has its privileges”, and while this is true, its chiasmus “Privileges has its membership” is equally true.

As a new Technician Class license holder, you’ve worked hard earning your Amateur Radio Operating privileges to work these bands: 33 Centimeters, 70 Centimeters, 1.25 Meters, 2 Meters, 6 Meters, 10 Meters, 15 Meters, 40 Meters, and 80 Meters. You’ve made it, you’re in the club…or are you? You keep hearing Hams talking about how they’re looking forward to getting together and having a face-to-face over coffee at next month’s meeting. Well, now’s your chance to really join the club; an opportunity to put a face on, and get a hand shake from the people whose voices come out of your radio.

If you’re a newly licensed Ham, the Hampden County Radio Association would like to extend to you, a hearty welcome to the hobby and a year’s free membership in the HCRA. It’s easy to take advantage of this offer and there are two simple ways to do it.

  • Attend the next HCRA meeting and bring your CSCE, or a copy of your Amateur Radio license.
  • Download a membership application from the website, fill it out and send it in along with a copy of your CSCE, or Amateur Radio license to the club’s mailing address.

That’s it, simple, quick and easy. So if you, or someone you know just got their ticket, we’d love to have you join our club, because after all Privileges Has Its Membership!

Who’d like an TYT TH-F5 Dual Band HT?

Did you say, me?! Well it could be you.


That’s right, you could add a brand new, right-out-of-the-box TYT TH-F5 Dual Band HT to your radio collection. What’s the catch you ask? No catch, it’s something you were going to do anyway. And what might that be, you next ask. Simple, come to the next HCRA meeting on Friday, October 5, 2012, enjoy the company of your fellow Hams and learn a thing or two about RTTY from Tom Homewood – W1TO, Western Mass. Area Manager for the Yankee Clipper Contest Club . At the end of the meeting, a door prize drawing will be held with one person in attendance going home the proud recipient of a TYT TH-F5 Dual Band HT.

The only way it could be you, is for you to join us at the Holyoke Medical Center’s Auxiliary Conference Center located at 575 Beech Street Holyoke Mass, 01040-2223 on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 7:30pm (doors open at 7:00pm).

Help Wanted

Our club is looking for a few volunteers for the upcoming 2012/2013 season. Here’s a chance for you to give something back to your fellow club members. The pay is little (well actually none!) but the rewards are great.

KX3 Raffle Coordinator
As coordinator you would actively promote the raffle at HCRA meetings, local hamfests and flea markets. Money is turned in at the end of each meeting so there is no worry about cash accountability. Imagine the enjoyment you’ll get when the friend you sold a ticket to is the winner!

Meeting Hall Supervisor (or some other name – couldn’t think of a good one)
We need someone to arrive about 15 minutes before the meeting. Make sure it is unlocked, grab a few early arrivals and get the chairs setup. During the meeting make sure any trash is placed in the proper receptacles. After the meeting return the room to its original condition.

Holiday Party Coordinator
We have the restaurant reserved and the menu pretty much under control. We’re looking for someone to promote the tickets, get the word out and make sure we have a proper guest list for the party. If you have some ideas to ‘liven up’ the event let’s hear them too. This is a one time a year, fun job – who wants it this year?

Apply in person or via the web. Education or past work history not important, only a strong desire to make HCRA the best amateur radio club on the planet!

Thanks for making HCRA the great club it is!


Renewal time is here!

Summer is almost over, the kids will be heading back to school, vacations are winding down AND – it’s time to renew your membership to HCRA. Our 2012/2013 season starts September 1st. Why not beat the rush at the meeting, download the handy application form on our membership page and send it in now, while it’s fresh on your mind?

Your dues go toward funding HCRA events like Field Day and the Holiday Party, offset mailing costs for our members without email access, cover our web hosting and liability insurance expenses and IRLP node maintenance and more. We need your continuing support to keep HCRA rolling along in high gear.