Last Swap & Sell of 2016

Last Swap & Sell of 2016 is this Friday, November 4th. There isn’t a December meeting because of the Holiday Party
Let’s end 2016 with a bang! Take a look around your shack and bring in an item or two that will become someone else’s holiday gift :).
From the KK1W shack is an assortment of books and a nice LED desk lamp (with USB charger) to read them under. Some old, some new all good reading that will expand your amateur radio horizons.
What are you bringing? Please comment to this post, with photos if possible.
Oh, the desk lamp is brand new AND is rumored to be grey with #87 on it, whatever that means...
Have you purchased your Holiday Party ticket yet? They’ll be on sale at the meeting. See Harold/N1FTP so you don’t go hungry this holiday season.
See you Friday evening,

2013 H.C.R.A./M.T.A.R.A Holiday Party

Holiday Party Ad 2013

 Directions/Map to the Steaming Tender

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From the Shack – December 2012

Holiday Party – December 10th

If you’re planning on going – and you haven’t bought your ticket yet – you’re almost out of time. Don’t miss out on a chance to spend a fun evening with your ham friends from both MTARA and HCRA this holiday season. It isn’t possible for us to sell tickets at the door because we need to provide the restaurant with a head count a week prior to the party. If you still want to go here’s what you need to do.

Contact either me or Marty/W1MJB and let of us know  you will be attending. We will add your name to the list and make sure there’s food for you when you get there! You can contact us via the links on the website or call me directly at 413.237.4666. At this point in time there isn’t any other way. We don’t want anyone to miss out so get it done now!

DON’T SEND CHECKS TO THE PO BOX! It is too late for that and it may not be checked in time for the party. Call us instead and we will make it happen for you. More info on the party by clicking here!


There is no regular club meeting in December. This was mentioned in last month’s ‘from the shack’ but it bears repeating. Instead of the meeting we’re having our gala Holiday Party event – that’s a good trade off I think? If you show up the first Friday of December and we’re not there don’t say you weren’t warned!

Are you ready for an ARRL 10 Meter Contest Challenge?

Earlier this month we posted the 2012 challenge goal of 100K pointsMake or exceed the goal and you will receive a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card for your efforts. Why are we doing this? Because we want YOU to be on the air (QRV) and having fun while we can still enjoy the Cycle 24 peak. Ten meters has been open a lot over the last few weeks and we all have our fingers crossed it will be hopping on December 10th. You can find more information about how to operate, the 2012 rules, the 2012 challenge and past scores simply by clicking the hot links.

The 10 meter contest is a great way to introduce new or inexperienced operators into HF operating and/or contesting. It offers both voice or CW so new ops can try a different modes if they so desire. Adding to the fun is all our individual scores count as a club score – how cool is that? In order to get new folks on the air we’re looking for folks willing to open their home station to visiting (guest) operators. Please comment below if you have time and station resources to help someone get excited about HF! It need not be for the entire contest. Even if you only host for a few hours Saturday or Sunday afternoon think what that means to someone that hasn’t had the opportunity to play radio on HF, or may not even have an HF station. Those few hours of your time could make a huge difference in someone’s amateur radio excitement for years to come.

Putting my station where my mouth is I will be opening my station for guest ops throughout the contest. If you would like to spend some time on the air using our club call WB1Z from my shack drop me a note so I can get you on the schedule. The station is competitive with an Icom Pro-2, amp and beam antenna. Come on over, I guarantee you’ll have some fun and kick some contest butt at the same time! And if the band isn’t open we can do what all good hams do – shoot the bull, find something else to play with or break and still have fun.

Notes from the cluster:

Cycle 24 is still working! I just finished up a weekend of contesting in the CQWW-CW event this past weekend. The bands were hopping. 10 meters was open quite a bit, and early in the morning. 15 meters was just amazing! I ran QRP (5 watts) and worked 99 countries over the weekend. Lots of DX including Japan, Micronesia, Guam, Asiatic Russia and more, all with only 5 watts! Like everything else, Cycle 24 will soon start a downturn. Don’t miss your chance to have fun on the HF bands. Get on the air and operate. Whether in a contest, a rag chew, casual DX’ing it makes no difference. It’s all good and if you miss it another eleven years will have to pass to get back to where we are today. Don’t be an ‘armchair amateur’, get in front of the rig and have fun!

Field Day Planning has begun.  It is in your hands!  If you have some thoughts about what we should (or shouldn’t) do for FD now is your chance to speak up. For years now our FD has been one of HCRA’s ‘Big Events’ and attracts more members than anything except perhaps the Holiday Party. If you’ve been attending you know why. If you haven’t been attending we want to know why. What would excite YOU enough to participate? Have ideas, that’s great – just be prepared to back them up with some ‘sweat equity’ to make it happen 🙂

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season – 73…

From the Shack – October 2012

At my ‘summer shack’!

What’s that ‘funny noise’ on 14.085 MHz?

If you’re tuning around the bands and come across some signals that sound like “beedley, beedley, beedley” you may have stumbled across a radio teletype transmission. Not exactly sure what that “beedley” sound is? Here’s what it sounds like – rtty (hint, click rtty)

Usually abbreviated RTTY, it is one of many digital modes that include PSK31, WSPR and others. RTTY has been around for many years and has seen an uptick in activity lately. No longer do you have to drag home a 100 pound teletype machine, listen to the clatter of the type or smell the warm machine oil (although you still can if you want to). Modern amateur operators use a computer to do all the heavy lifting nowadays.

Sound interesting? Want to learn more? Then come to our October meeting and guess what, you will! Our guest speaker is Tom/W1TO and he will be talking to us about RTTY and RTTY contesting. You will learn what is necessary to setup and operate RTTY (hint – not much!) and how to play in your first RTTY contest (another hint, it is fun and additcive!) Best of all you’re guaranteed to leave the meeting more informed than when you arrived!

Want to see RTTY in action, here’s a short sample video to whet your appetite to try something new:

Have you subscribed to our new website yet?

HCRA’s new website is getting better everyday. New content, new links, new events – it’s the place to go to feel amateur radio’s pulse in the Pioneer Valley. Wouldn’t it be nice to know about new content or events on the website without having to constantly check the website (although that’s OK if you want to). Well you can do that, just by subscribing.

The next time you’re on the site, scroll to the bottom of the main (home) page. In the center of the page is a, you guessed it, a ‘Subscribe’ button. Simply enter your email address, press the button and you’re done. You’ll receive a confirmation email and you’re all set. Now the website will let YOU know when a new article or event is added. Stay up to date without having to work at it – how cool is that?

HCRAs website is secure, your email is never revealed or used for any other purpose. It is not necessary to subscribe to view the site or leave comments – the only purpose is to keep YOU informed of all our activities. We have over 100 subscribers on our facebook page, wouldn’t it be nice to exceed that on our webpage?

KX3 Raffle – Have you purchased your Ticket Yet?

Tickets are selling fast, don’t miss your chance to win a fantastic HF transceiver for a tiny donation of $10. Only 250 tickets will be sold, so chances are high, even if you only purchase one ticket! The faster they sell, the sooner we can hold the drawing. We’ve pre-ordered the rig from Elecraft. The wait period is pretty short with Elecraft and I’m sure we will have the rig in time for the drawing.

Why would you want to win this beautiful radio? After all, it’s only QRP, right? All I can say is, after owning one for a few months now, is it really does everything a large radio will, but at less than two pounds! All band/mode, DSP, great filtering, dual VFO’s, auto-notch, CW decode, built in PSK and RTTY and more – who wouldn’t want one?

Tickets will be on sale at the October meeting, purchase one or two and good luck. If you don’t win remember your donation has gone to a good cause! Read more about the raffle here.

Renewal Time is here!

Rich/N1KXR is asking for your help. He’s in charge of increasing HCRA’s membership, and the only way that can happen is if everyone that was a member last year renews their membership AND we add new members. New members are coming is so it is up to you, our former members, to fill out your application and bring it to the October meeting. Can’t make the meeting? Use our handy application form and mail it in to the PO box. We have worked hard over the past ten years to control our costs, provide quality events for our members and NOT raise dues. By becoming a member you will help keep dues low and fun high! Bring your completed application to the October meeting and see Rich/N1KXR or Dave/N1MFL so we can get you ‘back in the fold’.

Still not convinced? OK, here’s some incentive. If you join or renew your HCRA membership by the close of the October 5th meeting you could be the winner of a TYT TH-F5 dual band HT with rechargeable batteries, desk and mobile charger. Getting the bulk of our memberships early in the season allows us plan the year ahead. Help us out by renewing early and we might help you out with a new HT. Fair enough?

HCRA/MTARA Holiday Party – December 10th, 2012

Last year’s party was an unbridled success and we wondered, “what can we do to make it even better in 2012?). It is hard to improve on the location or the food, hmmmm. What if BOTH of the amateur radio clubs in the valley joined forces and held the party together? Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s exactly what we’re doing! Both clubs sat down and worked together to create a super get together for 2012.

Same great location!
Same scrumptious buffet!
Bigger and better raffle/door prizes!
Same $15 price tag!
MORE friends to eat, drink and be merry with!

Tickets go on sale at both clubs starting in October. See Rich/N1KXR at any HCRA meeting or Diane/KB1KST at any MTARA meeting and by mail to either club’s PO box.

Another example of both clubs, working together, to the benefit of all area amateurs.

Notes from the cluster:

The HCRA October meeting featuring Tom Homewood/W1TO will also be a Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC) regional meeting. If you’re interested in contesting you can join YCCC at the HCRA meeting. It’s fun, painless and not too expensive. Learn more about it by clicking YCCC!

The Silent Auction returns at our October meeting. We will have a beautiful set of chrome Bencher paddles available and a few other items. Items for the auction will be displayed on a table along with a ‘bid sheet’. Enter your bid and if you’re the highest bidder at the end of the night pay Dave/AA1YW and go home with your new toy!

Don’t forget we’re meeting at our new location! Starting September 2012  meetings will be at the Auxiliary Conference Center at the Holyoke Medical Center. Many of you have been here before, it’s where the Western Mass VE Team has given examinations for close to a decade. We have all the details of the hall and how to get there on our website. Simply click this link!


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?

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.