Club Priorities

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I guess I am a social person. I belong to various clubs and associations. Humans seem to be social animals, and I am definitely animal, and apparently socially orientated as well. Many of the clubs I belong to could increase their membership and their members’ enjoyment if they prioritized elements of their club’s affairs.

As President of the Maine Ham Radio Society, I have been doing a lot of prioritizing and rethinking the way things have always been done. And I am just getting started.

Many groups I have been associated with in the past became stagnant, boring, and even unfriendly to certain other members, or potential members. If a club wants to be an active, vibrant part of their community, these habits need to cease. Here are a few things I have encouraged in the MHRS recently, and things I intend to implement in the future.

1. Our clubs need to be welcoming to all members and potential members. For MHRS, that means to people of all ages, both male and female. We need to leave any old-fashioned attitudes at the door. For instance, the female ham radio operators should not be expected to make the coffee, do the cooking and baking at club activities, etc. I intend to make the “goodies” at the next club meeting at my house, whenever that may be. I will make sure there is a bottle of TUMS on hand. Also, we are always complaining that there are not enough young people coming into the hobby or to club events. If we are lucky to have a young person join us, for Pete’s sake, let’s not be patronizing. Accept and respect them as you like to be accepted and respected. First impressions last a lifetime. BTW, I am not suggesting members intentionally behave in a manner offensive to others, but unintentional slights can happen.

2. Be active! For MHRS, that means to be RadioActive and to do things as a club. Covid-19 made it difficult, but not impossible to organize fun events for club members. A lot of people are tired of Zoom meetings (although the video conferencing platform has great benefits even without a pandemic), and are itching now to do things together, as a club. For ham radio, it is easy and perfectly safe to meet over the airwaves in fun and innovative operational activities. With certain commonsense protocols in place, we can also start doing things together in person again. ARRL Field Day, social breakfasts and suppers, and club meetings can start again, as they are here locally. Unless the zombies start patrolling again and the state and local officials begin another lockdown, the ham radio social calendar is looking good. Vaccines should start making a dent in the daily Covid-19 numbers.

3. Use Your Members! By this, I mean get to know all of your members, their stories, their strengths, and turn them into club presentations or discussions. Everyone has an interesting story or aspect of their life or hobby, and its worth sharing.

4. In a perfect world, you would not need to recruit members. Build the club and they will come. Well, no. You need to make an effort to recruit and convince people your club has something to offer them even though they have busy lives and many other interests. If every club member talked up the club and invited people to attend a meeting or to consider joining, the membership rolls would grow. Just emailing membership renewal notices is not enough. Follow that email up with a newsletter that includes a membership application. Then follow that up with a hard copy and mail it to those that have not joined or renewed. And the club officers must set goals. My goal for the 2022 membership area is to retain all existing members, and to bring in at least an additional ten. If the goal is not met, we can brainstorm how to improve the following year.

5. Publicize your group, a lot! Send in press releases to local papers when your club is planning something, or has done something impressive. Use social media every day! Post photos, videos, news, and more. I recently created a Youtube channel for my ham radio club, called MHRS RadioActive. I try to upload a new video every week or two. BTW, Zoom is a great tool for recording events and interviews! You can check out my videos at the link at the bottom of this blog.

Do things. Be nice. That’s the bottom line in making sure people get enjoyment from your associations.

MHRS RadioActive Youtube Channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCUUjYOH0GfWbuT1gHFmj8kQ

Hams & Preppers

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The Preppin Side of Ham Radio:

FCC-licensed Amateur (HAM) Radio Service operators have long enjoyed a wide variety of ham radio communication frequencies, modes and activities, including using satellites and communicating with the International Space Station, operating leading-edge digital modes, as well as time-tested Morse Code, single sideband, and other aspects too many to mention for this article. One commonality with an increasingly popular trend across the country is with “Preppers.”

Those with a “survivalist’s” mentality are usually Do It Yourself folks that prepare for the worst and create a lifestyle and home that they hope will survive many cataclysmic events. Preppers might expect a future with an “emp” burst from a nuclear weapon detonated in the upper atmosphere, rendering modern electronics useless with the resulting destruction of microchips, and other solid state circuitry in just about every modern appliance out there.

Let’s put it this way. If you are familiar with the tern “Faraday Cage,” then you could be a prepper or a ham radio operator.

The Federal Communications Commission tasks ham radio operators with training for and providing backup disaster communications. When a major catastrophe occurs, whether natural or man-made, existing communication systems, including public safety and cellular and landline phone systems become degraded or rendered inoperable from being overloaded, or equipment malfunction. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorist attacks are just a few examples when hams are called to duty.

Many hams train frequently to make sure their skills and equipment are up to the task. Peer through a ham’s shelves and cabinets and you will find more batteries than that of the average bear. Flashlights, power packs, Go-Kits with survival gear and food, compasses, and first aid kits crowd the shelves. Boxes full of AA, AAA, C, D, and Gell cells, 6-volt lantern batteries, and an assortment of lawn & garden tractor batteries, and heavy deep cycle batteries are not uncommon in the “shack,” garage, or vehicle.

Many Preppers strive to be “off-grid” with solar panels, wind power, and generators. Check into any ham radio net and you will find some that are also off-grid, or at least capable of using non-commercial power.

Hams can deploy to a disaster scene and using their own equipment and power sources, can be up and on-the-air in short order. Most hams know how to make emergency antennas from scratch, and some even build their own transceivers. So Preppers and Hams are a natural fit in many ways.

The Faraday Cage is a shielded storage container that, if constructed correctly, can block the destructive Electromagnetic Pulse energy created when a nuclear weapon goes off in the upper atmosphere, or when a HUGE geomagnetic storm hits that region of the planet. In these worst case scenarios, the ham, or Prepper, would still have a radio to use for listening to broadcasts outside the disaster zone, or to communicate with other people that were also protected from the emp burst.

Now, if you come across a prepper or ham that has lined his ball cap with aluminum foil, then just slowly turn around and walk away. On second thought, RUN! RUN fast! He just might attempt to explain this special hat.

Ham Radio Special Event on Navy’s Birthday

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You heard it here first! Some Downeast Maine amateur radio operators (hams) will conduct a special operating event in honor of the U.S. Navy’s 238th birthday on Sunday, October 13. The Poverty Hill Amateur Radio Group (PHARG) is sponsoring a day-long event at the military recreation facility at Great Pond, north of RT-9 near Aurora.

Using their call sign W1KMG, formerly the call of the late Bob Begley who was a WWII era Chief Radioman and witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, the hams will set up in one of the lakeside cabins at Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center and will operate on several amateur radio bands using various modes, including single side band, Morse code, and digital.

Cookouts, boating, fishing, and other fun events will also be on the agenda. The Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center is a fantastic setting for a fun day of ham radio and outdoor activities. Local hams are invited to attend and participate. Distant hams can meet us on the amateur radio frequencies! Special certificates will be made for stations making contact with the W1KMG special event.