Massachusetts to Host USA ARDF Championships June 5-8

The USA ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding) Championships return to the Northeast this year. ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, said on-foot foxhunting fans of all skill levels will gather near Boston in early June for 4 days of intense competition. Registration to participate in the event has been extended to June 1.

Activities begin on Thursday, June 5 with a 10-transmitter short-course sprint competition on 80 meters. The following day is the foxoring event, a combination of RDF and classic orienteering on 80 meters in which participants navigate to marked locations on their maps where very low-power transmitters can be found nearby. Saturday morning will be the classic full-course 2 meter main event, with five transmitters in a very large forest. The banquet and awards presentation follow that evening. A similar full-course 80 meter main event takes place Sunday morning, with awards presented afterward.
ARDF champ Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI, is this year’s lead organizer, event host, and course-planner.

National ARDF championships typically take place in late summer or early fall. This year, though, the ARDF World Championships will take place during early September, however. To provide plenty of time for selecting Team USA members and planning overseas travel, the 2014 USA ARDF Championships must take place 3 months before.

ARDF championship rules are set by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). For scoring and awards, participants are divided into 11 age/gender categories. In classic ARDF championships, competitors start in small groups comprised of different categories.

The USA ARDF Championships are open to anyone who can safely navigate the woods solo. A ham radio license is not required. Each participant competes as an individual.

Stateside winners will be considered for membership in ARDF Team USA, which will travel to Kazakhstan for the 17th ARDF World Championships.

An online entry form and more information are available on the Boston ARDF website. Read more. — Thanks to Joe Moell, K0OV, ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator


HCRA Foxhunt – June 1st



Now that things are warming up in Hampden County, I think it’s time to have ourselves a Foxhunt. So dust off your direction finding equipment and make sure it works. With thanks to Larry, W1AST (ex WB1DBY), We had a decent turnout for our last foxhunt that took place in the fall of 2013. Jeff, NT1K has volunteered to the be the fox this time. If you are interested and want to join in on the hunt, please contact NT1K. You can either reply to this post, fill out the form below, e-mail (my call @ arrl.net) or see NT1K at the next meeting. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join in on the fun. Home stations with a beam could also help the operators by providing beam headings.

We have permission to use the K1ZJH repeater. The fox will transmit on the repeater while the hunters will be using the input frequency to look for the location of the FOX.

  • Frequency: 146.715 MHz
  • Input Frequency: 146.115MHz (This is the frequency you want to track the fox on)
  • PL: 100hz
  • Date: Sunday, June 1st, 2014
  • Time: 3:00pm Local
  • Starting Location: Holyoke Mall Overflow Lot (Behind Sears)
  • Duration: 1-2hrs

If you are new to Amateur Radio and  never participated in a fox hunt, This would be  the perfect time to get your feet wet. Take some time and read an excellent post by Larry (W1AST) about fox hunting basics. You can also check out homingin.com for more information.

Transmissions will start at approximately 3:00pm. It’s Important that you check in with the fox.
I will transmit for 1-2 min every 10 min. I will also chat it up with anyone else on frequency. My power level will vary from 55W (at the start) to 5W to make it easier for people to track me. 
I will stop transmitting either when all checked in stations arrive or at 5:00pm whichever is first. That is why it’s important to check in.

Home stations with the proper equipment are encouraged to help out and provide headings if possible. 


Are you Interested? Contact NT1K below

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From the Shack – March 2013

Next Meeting March 1st  – Our annual Show & Tell night!

It is March Madness again at HCRA with our annual Show & Tell event. I’ve heard a lot of members are putting the finishing touches on their projects and expect we will see a grand assortment of ham radio, or not so ham radio, contraptions that will strike fear in your hearts when they reach for the on/off switch!

All kidding aside Show & Tell brings out the best of our member’s creative juices. The spectrum of projects is wide and has touched most areas of amateur radio and beyond over the years. Matt/W1MSW and Frandy/N1FJ have conjured up neat prizes for tonight along with refreshments and maybe a few other things too? Only way to find out is to be there!

There’s still time for YOU to wrap up your project and get it to this Friday’s meeting. But finish reading this month’s Zero Beat first, OK?

KX3 Raffle drawing – Time is running short! 

The drawing will be held March 2nd at the MTARA Hamfest. Tickets are almost gone, if you haven’t purchased yours yet there’s only two opportunities left; tonight’s HCRA meeting or at the hamfest the following day. Be sure to visit the HCRA table, say hello, join or renew your membership AND get a ticket – how cool is that? The drawing will be held at the hamfest around noon. Who knows, you could go home with a brand spanking new KX3 worth $1000 and get on the air that afternoon!

Foxhunting Coming Soon? – Are you ready for some warm weather fun?

February’s Foxhunting/Build-a-Beam meeting was very successful. Fifteen folks went home with a three element beam and we have a dozen people on a potential fox hunting list. There was a lot of interest in the presentation, including building an Arduino controlled Doppler system. (I wonder if one will show up at Show & Tell) The question remains, “where do we go from here?”

First: We will have the sign-up sheet at tonight’s meeting. If you either missed February’s meeting or were too busy to sign up here’s another opportunity to put your name on the list.

Second: I’m hoping a few people will ‘raise their hands’ to spearhead the first few foxhunts. A perfect combination would be an experienced hunter and a novice. They could get their heads together, plan an opening hunt or hunts and really get the ball rolling. Once started, and with the enthusiasm shown at the last meeting I’ll bet it will roll merrily along gaining momentum every month. Please, see if YOU can find an hour or two in a month to help get this started.

Third: HCRA resources such as our Facebook page, Zero Beat, the website and the HCRA mailing list are open and available for use in promoting and coordinating foxhunting. There may be other ways we can help as well, but first we need some folks to step forward, put a little ‘sweat equity’ into the project and create fun for our entire community.

Let’s talk after tonight’s meeting and see what we can come up with, OK?

HCRA Zero Beat Archives – W200NY – what was that? 

Don’t know, check out the March 1988 issue of Zero Beat in the archives. You never know what you’ll come across in our long and varied history. We’re still looking to ‘fill the gaps’ in our Zero Beat collection so I’ll repeat last month’s request.

Special request. Please take a look at the archive list. If you have, or know of someone who has other issues please get in contact Jeff so they can be added to the archive. We can accept them as a .pdf or can scan and return to you. We know there are folks out there with additional issues, here’s a chance to get them preserved and easily accessible for everyone’s enjoyment.

Spots from the cluster: 

PaypalJeff is working toward a PayPal interface on our website. Our expectations are soon members wishing to join, renew or donate from the convenience of their couch will be able to click ‘send’. The question rose at the February meeting (thanks Norm), “will we still be able to send a check” and the answer is “yes”. Nothing is changing except we are adding an additional method of payment; we’re not taking anything away with the change. 

Meeting Refreshments – It is apparent our members enjoy having coffee and sweets at the meetings. The rub is nobody seems to feel it should be ‘their job’ to procure them! What’s up with that? Counting family members our club membership is over one hundred people! As I’ve mentioned in the past do you really think all club duties should fall on the nine board members? I don’t believe it should, that’s why I’m tossing out this request once again.

We are looking for one or two folks to pick up coffee & donuts for the meeting. Do you feel you, maybe with a friend, could spend fifteen to thirty minutes and benefits all the folks attending the meeting? If so please see me at the end of the meeting. I’ll fill you in on how easy it is to put smiles on the faces of forty or so people.

New England QSO Party – May 4th and 5th, 2013

Mark your calendars now for a fun weekend of ham radio, New England style. During this weekend YOU become the DX with stations from all over the US looking to work you for fun, glory and the chance to win a lobster dinner.

HCRA sponsors a beautiful plaque for this contest. How do you win it? Easy, it’s given to the highest single operator score submitted from HampdenCounty. Sometimes it doesn’t take many QSO’s to win, it all depends on who is QRV in HampdenCounty for the contest. The contest starts at 4:00 PM Saturday afternoon and after taking a break between 1AM and 9AM Sunday morning goes on to end at 8PM Sunday evening. Usually both our club calls (W1NY and WB1Z) are active in the contest. If you would like to operate under either one get your request in now!

‘73 and don’t forget to pick up your winning KX3 ticket at the meeting,



Foxhunting Meeting Follow-up

Hey folks,

Thanks to everyone that braved the cold and turned out for February’s Foxhunting and Build-A-Beam meeting. Jeff did a fine job organizing the beam building and with help from George/KC1V and Doug/KB1ZGL fifteen people went home with a cool, 3 element two meter beam.

Up front the Foxhunting presentation excited over a dozen people to put their name on the list for foxhunts (to start in the warmer weather). Special thanks to Larry/WB1DBY and Rich/N1KXR for helping with the presentation and to Steve/N1EOE and Pete/N1AGV for bringing cool foxhunting gear for a brief Show & Tell after the presentation. This is what HCRA is all about – people helping people get the most out of amateur radio.

We’re in the process of organizing your desires about foxhunting and will get back to everyone that signed up with some ideas for our first hunt. Were you too busy with other activities to sign up? Not to worry, just drop us a note here on the website and we’ll get you added to the list.

Here’s a list of links from the presentation. This should make it easier to dig into the information about foxhunting. Good luck with your research and maybe we’ll see a few HCRA Dopplers at our first hunt!

Doppler Systems:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U9Kz1mveQk – Marcel’s video from Pacificon
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/26512711/PacificonPresentation_2012_RadioDirectionFindingNetworks_AI6MS_v2WM.pdf – .pdf of the above
http://www.pi4wag.nl/images/stories/Flyer%20Doppler-UK1.pdf – PA3BNX’s Super Simple Doppler

General Foxhunting Information Sites:
http://www.homingin.com/  – this is the best place to start looking!
http://www.qsl.net/n6qab/ – Another general purpose foxhunting site.

Foxhunting DIY equipment:
•PIC Based TDOA Antenna – http://ka7oei.com/PIC_tdoa.html
•Active Attenuator– http://kb1kix.net/blog/?p=528
Jeri Ellsworth:
For those of you that would like to see some additional videos by Jeri Ellsworth, here’s a link to her YouTube list: http://www.youtube.com/user/jeriellsworth
I don’t know about you but I was jealous of her junkbox!
It was great seeing everyone Friday night. Now stop reading this, follow some of the links and get your project ready for Show & Tell on March 1st (less than 28 days left you know!)


Foxhunting meeting tomorrow night – don’t miss it!

February first is indeed tomorrow – also the date of our next HCRA meeting.

We’re putting on an ‘all about foxhunting’ presentation by a few of our members. If you’ve never heard of foxhunting this will be the time to learn. If you have foxhunted in the past that’s OK, we’re going to cover some exciting new material, both technology and methods, you may have missed over the last few years.

We’ll have a brief presentation with visual information and a video, presentations by some experienced foxhunters, examples of equipment used and then it is YOUR turn. Would you like to jump on board and ‘re-invigorate’ foxhunting in the area and if so – what type(s) of hunts would appeal to the majority of our members?

In the back of the hall Jeff/NT1K will conducting the ‘Build-a-Beam’ workshop.The results will be a perfect foxhunting antenna. If you are one of the dozen or so folks signed up don’t forget to bring your payment along. I don’t believe our Paypal account is setup for payments quite yet.

Don’t forget to pick up a KX3 raffle ticket while you’re there – they’re going fast and the drawing is only a month away.

See you tomorrow night,

From the Shack – February 2013

Next Meeting February 1st
Foxhunting presentation and ‘Build a Beam’ Workshop

Meeting number two of the year is another ‘double header’ thanks to the efforts of Jeff/NT1K and Rich/N1KXR. Read on and see what we have in store for you this February. We will be running two concurrent activities Friday night. At the front of the auditorium will be a presentation of foxhunting and at the rear a “Build-a-Beam” workshop.

Local foxhunters Lou/N1LZD and Rob/KA1RBH – with state of the art for 1993 hunters!

“Everyone foxhunting in the area in the early 1990’s can remember the dreading Rob & Lou’s
dedicated foxhunt vehicle. Sporting GPS, Flux gate compass, Doppler DF gear, on board computer and custom programming it was a formidable opponent (but not infallible)

Foxhunting, what’s it all about? Whether you’ve thought about foxhunting, been on a foxhunt in the past or are interested in participating in future hunts this meeting is for you. We’re gathering up historical data, will present a brief ‘how-to’ that should entice you to try foxhunting this spring and we’ll talk about what foxhunting might look like in the future. If you have anything you’d like us to share from the past or suggestions for future hunts we’re all ears for that too. This should be a fun presentation that will remind us the diversity our hobby provides and take our mind off the freezing cold weather for a few hours or so. Remember, spring is just around the corner.

3EL Beam

Build your own 2m Yagi antenna! In the back of the room Jeff and Rich will be holding a ‘Build a Beam’ workshop. Their students will assemble a pre-cut, three element “tape measure” yagi for 2 meters, solder on the coax and give it a try. The little Yagi is good for portable operations, SOTA and of course – foxhunting. More details about the workshop can be found here. There’s still room for a few more students. If you are interested contact Jeff right away so you don’t miss out. After the beams are built everyone can watch as the happy builders give them a test run.

Show & Tell next month
How’s your project coming along?

HCRA’s March meeting wouldn’t be the same without Show & Tell. This is when YOU, the HCRA builder, get an opportunity to show off what you’ve been working on over the last twelve months. It’s fun for the builders and the audience alike. You never know what type of project will show up. Over the years we’ve seen everything from stop light controllers to Van DeGraaff generators, novice transmitters to remote antenna switches, QRP rigs to kilowatt amps. Wonder what you will see this year? The only way I know of is to show up March 1st for the fun!

Jon KA1TDQ's homebrew 30 meter transmitter. WB1DBY photograph

This year Matt/W1MSW and Frandy/N1FJ will be running the show. I’ll bet we see some different twists, don’t you? Curious, look for Matt’s Show & Tell article in February’s Zero Beat (and don’t forget to keep working on your project!)

HCRA Zero Beat Archives

15 additional years added!

Click the image and go back in time to February 1978!

Thanks to John/AC1T and Jeff/NT1K we now have an additional fifteen years of Zero Beats added to the archives. John spent many hours scanning his collection and forwarding them to Jeff for inclusion in the archives. Issues have been added from 1976 to 1990. It’s interesting to see a snapshot of what both HCRA and ham radio was like 25 to 30 years ago. Some things have changed a lot, others… You’ll have to see for yourself – just click here and take a ride in the HCRA TARDIS!
Special request. Please take a look at the archive list. If you have, or know of someone who has other issues please get in contact Jeff so they can be added to the archive. We can accept them as a .pdf or can scan and return to you. We know there are folks out there with additional issues, here’s a chance to get them preserved and easily accessible for everyone’s enjoyment.

Amateur Radio License Classes
Four new hams & two upgrades – fantastic!

Over the last three weeks the HCRA Instructor Team held classes for all three levels of amateur licenses at the HMC Auditorium. We had seven Technician, three General and three Extra class students. The final class and test session was held on January 26th

Let’s extend a hearty ‘welcome aboard’ to the following newly minted Amateur Radio Operators:

Technician Class
Cindy Forbes
Tom Isham
Doug McLean

General Class
Eric LaCombe

Upgrade to General
Ralph Gedney/KB1LEW/AG

Upgrade to Extra
Diane Shippee/KB1KST/AE

Thanks to all the instructors that participated; Frandy/N1FJ, Ed/KB1NWH, Jim/KK1W, Steve/N1SR, Rich/N1KXR and of course John/Kx1x for taking the helm and getting it done. Thanks also to our hosts at HMC for allowing us the use of their fine facility. Of course the real fun is seeing the happy faces of the newly licensed or upgraded hams!

Spots from the cluster:

Silent Auction Results: January’s silent auction was a success. Thanks to the many donations folks went home with bargains and HCRA added approximately $400 to our treasury. We’re still thinking of how we can bring back the ‘old style’ auction and welcome any suggestions.

KX3 Raffle drawing is March 2nd. There are still two HCRA meetings and one MTARA meeting offering opportunities to purchase a ticket. Your absolute last chance will be at the MTARA Hamfest on March 2nd. Visit the HCRA table, say hello, join or renew your membership AND get a ticket – how cool is that? The drawing will be held at the hamfest at noon. Who knows, you could go home with a brand spanking new KX3 worth $1000 and be on the air that afternoon!

Notes from the ARRL Cabinet Meeting of January 5th Dave/AA1YW and I attend the NE Division meeting, here’s a few highlights:
There’ could be a new LF band coming soon on 135.7 to 137.8 kHz according to the FCC. Also the ARRL has filed a petition for a low frequency band on 472 to 479 kHz. Follow the links for more details.
The 1900 to 2000 kHz segment of 160 meters could be made ‘Primary’ for ham operators. We’ve been secondary on this segment because it was formally used by the LORAN radio location system. The last LORAN broadcast from the system was from Caribou, ME, September 21st, 2010.
The ARRL National Convention will be held in Hartford on July 20, 21 and 22 in 2014. Hartford was picked for the 2014 location to offer an opportunity to the participants in WRTC2014 a chance to unwind and meet other US hams.

‘73 and see you at the meeting,