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!

Propagation Forecast Bulletin 24 ARLP024 From Tad Cook, K7RA Seattle, WA June 13, 2014

To all radio amateurs

ARLP024 Propagation de K7RA

Last week’s bulletin opened with your author (me) moaning about a decline in solar activity, but this was short lived. The current week saw average daily sunspot numbers more than double, rising from
60.1 to 144.3, and average daily solar flux rise from 104.1 to 146.4. In addition, on June 12 the daily sunspot number was 196, and solar flux was 174.5. It actually was not long ago when sunspot numbers were last at that level. April 16-19, 2014 had numbers ranging from 245-296.

Predicted values are also up. The latest has solar flux at 170, 165 and 155 on June 13-15, 145 on June 16-18, 140 on June 19, 130 on June 20-21, then reaching down for a low of 110 on June 24-25, then peaking at 165 on July 8. The outlook for Field Day Weekend has brightened, with solar flux at 115 on June 27-28 and 120 on Sunday, June 29.

Predicted planetary A index is 18, 20, 10 and 8 on June 13-16, 5 on June 17, 8 on June 18, 5 on June 19-24, 8 on June 25-26, 5 on June
27 through July 5, 15 on July 6, 5 on July 7-9, 8 on July 10, 5 on July 11-14, and 8 on July 15-16.

OK1HH predicts mostly quiet geomagnetic conditions on June 13, quiet to active June 14, quiet to unsettled June 15, quiet June 16-18, quiet to active June 19, quiet to unsettled June 20, mostly quiet June 21, quiet June 22-24, mostly quiet June 25, quiet to active June 26, active to disturbed June 27, quiet to unsettled June 28, quiet on June 29, quiet to active June 30, mostly quiet July 1-2, quiet to unsettled July 3-4, quiet July 5, quiet to unsettled July 6, active to disturbed July 7, quiet to active July 8, and mostly quiet July 9.

Again this week there was an interruption in data from the middle latitude geomagnetic observatory in Fredericksburg, Virginia, so the middle latitude A index numbers at the end of this bulletin for June
8-9 are my own guesses.

We saw a lot of geomagnetic activity over last weekend, June 8-9, when the planetary K index reached 6 in two 3-hour periods, and the planetary A index was 13 on Saturday, then 39 on Sunday. This geomagnetic storm was from a CME which hit Earth at 1630 UTC on June 7, but left the Sun on June 4.

A significant solar flare on June 10 could cause polar geomagnetic storms today, Friday June 13. It will probably deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field. See http://earthsky.org/space/x2-solar-flare-today for an article about the June 10 flare, and for a UPI story on possible effects today, see http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/06/12/Solar-storm-to-hit-Earth-on-Friday-the-13th/7891402590302/

Ted Leaf, K8HI sent a fascinating video and article about renewed activity at the peak of the current solar cycle. See http://earthsky.org/space/solar-maximum-is-back .

Max White, M0VNG sent two relevant articles. See http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/06/11/Another-giant-solar-flare-erupts/4281402500673/

David Moore sent a review of “Nearest Star; the surprising science of our Sun” which you can read at http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2513/1#.U5NRe3TXbgY.email .

An excellent book I’ve been reading is “Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age” by W. Bernard Carlson. This may be the best biography yet on Tesla, as other articles and books I’ve seen accepted uncritically some of his later work, which included transmitting electrical power via wireless. I think copper wire works better for this.

NASA has a new and slightly revised prediction for Cycle 24.  View it at http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml . The changes from a month ago are:

May 2, 2014 forecast: “The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 70 in the Fall of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number reached 75.0 in October 2013.”


June 12, 2014 forecast: “The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 70 in late 2013.
The smoothed sunspot number reached 75.4 in November 2013.”

These are smoothed numbers, averaged with real and predicted values over a year, so when we have higher and extended activity this year, that changed the maximum from fall of 2013 to late 2013, and 75.0 in October 2013 to 75.4 in November 2013.

Astrophysicists at Trinity College in Dublin are using crowdsourcing for classifying sunspots. They want people to visit http://www.sunspotter.org/ to rank pairs of sunspot images based on complexity. As you are presented with each pair, use your gut feelings and vote for the image that seems the most complex. Or if you want examples, go to http://www.sunspotter.org/#/classify .

We learned of this from the Irish internet news site TheJournal.ie, and you can read their article “Trinity College astrophysicists want you to play ‘Hot or Not’ with sunspots” at
http://www.thejournal.ie/article.php?id=1513613 .

Another interesting project to use crowdsourcing is “Seafloor Explorer,” where they want help classifying real images of the ocean floor. Check it out at http://www.seafloorexplorer.org/ . People who believe they see a face on Mars or pyramids on the moon should find a lot to like here.

Find other projects and educational info at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects. Click on “Study explosions on the Sun” to enter their Solar Stormwatch project.

This weekend is the ARRL June VHF Contest. The multiplier is number of grid squares worked. The contest begins at 1800 UTC Saturday. See http://www.arrl.org/june-vhf for details.

If you would like to make a comment or have a tip for our readers, email the author at, k7ra@arrl.net.

For more information concerning radio propagation, see the ARRL Technical Information Service web page at http://arrl.org/propagation-of-rf-signals. For an explanation of the numbers used in this bulletin, see http://arrl.org/the-sun-the-earth-the-ionosphere. An archive of past propagation bulletins is at http://arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-propagation. More good information and tutorials on propagation are at http://k9la.us/.

Monthly propagation charts between four USA regions and twelve overseas locations are at http://arrl.org/propagation.

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are at http://arrl.org/bulletins.

Sunspot numbers for June 5 through 11 were 102, 132, 155, 144, 152, 149, and 176, with a mean of 144.3. 10.7 cm flux was 110.5, 133, 136.7, 148.6, 161.2, 166.2, and 168.4, with a mean of 146.4.
Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 6, 13, 39, 5, 7, and 7, with a mean of 12. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 7, 5, 14, 40, 6, 7, and 8, with a mean of 12.4.

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!


HCRA Invades Agawam

T minus 4 days and counting.

Agawam residents should be on the look out for Amateur Radio operators.

They look like normal people, dress like normal people, but have a language all their own.

Some speak in code (CW), Some in Digital ( RTTY, PSK), Even the words they use(CQ, 59 WMA, 73).

Here is what we know about their movements for this weekend they call Field Day.

Starting with a healthy Breakfast at 8:00AM Friday Morning at Partners restaurant   485 Springfield St.


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Then its off to School street park to do the setup.
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As set up continues through out the day we will be breaking for lunch and dinner which will be left to the hired volunteer help on what they want to do.

(Note: VE session is the 28th)
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Some will stay and guard their precious aluminum that they have freshly planted and some will even stay overnight.

On Saturday morning they get going again with some coffee and other foods from the locals.  They will continue on the setup, do any last minute repairs, and do the testing.

If all is well at 2:00PM Saturday the festivities commence.  For the next 24 hours all that the residence of Agawam will hear is the hum of generators and people calling CQ or -.-. –.- Field day this is W1NY.

At 2:00 PM on Sunday all goes quiet.  Peace starts returning back to this little town as the Hams of HCRA disassemble the great flowers and return them to their collapsed state.

As things are put away neatly in the Storage trailer, people are saying goodby for the summer months  and will see every one again in the fall.

73 and Good Night









HCRA Field Day makes local paper


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Well looks like the advertising campaign for FD 2013 has gotten under way.  We also have gotten a pencil in visit from the mayor of Agawam.  Great bonuses this year.


Hope to get some more volunteers for this new setup and new location.  Should be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.






CQ WW RTTY Director, Ed WØYK, shares the log submission issues experienced by all contest sponsors. “It is apparent that many people do not read the robot email reply they receive. At the bottom of that email, the robot lists the format errors in the log. If you don’t understand what the robot is telling you, then simply compare that specific QSO line with the format specified on the Logs web page. The problem should be obvious.

“Major logging programs like Win-Test, N1MM Logger and WriteLog all create compliant Cabrillo files … IF you enter your data correctly. For example, if you enter your sent exchange as ‘CA 03’ in N1MM Logger (which is backwards from the required order for CQ WW RTTY), it will come out in that (incorrect) order in the Cabrillo file.

“You can easily edit your Cabrillo file with a text editor. Since is it common to add, change or move the same parameter field in every QSO line, a column editor is invaluable. I recommend the freeware Crimson Editor.”

So read that robot message! If it tells you there is something wrong with your log – do something about it and resubmit it. Double- and triple-check your operating category and all of the information for your station. Once you have a happy robot and you are a happy log submitter – save the confirming message in an easy-to-find location. My email software has a folder named “Contest Log Submissions” for all of my log submission confirmation messages. It’s easy and helps avoid the dreaded “forgot to send in my log” disease.

Re-Up, Re-Up, Wherever You Are.

Our 2012/2013 season started on September 1st and thanks go out to all of you who renewed your membership for another year. However some of you have yet to take that quick moment to get your own renewals taken care of. It’s fast, it’s easy, and can be done by mail or in person at the upcoming October 5th meeting.

Your dues are what help to make HCRA events such as Field Day and the Holiday Party possible. It assists members without email access by offsetting our mailing costs. In addition there’s liability insurance expenses, IRLP node maintenance and of course our web hosting fees and all the little things that go into making a club run.

So please, while it’s on your mind and at your fingertips, won’t you download the application form found on our membership page and take care of renewing right now?