Our public service events for the season have concluded but there are still other opportunities for you to help out. Two of the largest ham radio events take place over the next few months. On Sunday, September 16 the North Shore Radio Club supports the North Shore Century 100 mile bike ride. And on Sunday, October 7 over 100 hams volunteer to support communications at the Chicago Marathon. Both of these events are still looking for volunteers. I’ve worked both of them for the past few years and have thoroughly enjoyed both. Please let me know if you’re interested and I can get you more information.
August is a fairly slow month for the club. Take advantage of this time and check things out at your home station. Make sure everything is in working order. Get any work done you need to on outdoor antennas. And note any equipment in the shack that isn’t working as well as it should. In September we start up our construction project and that is a great place to work on anything you find in your shack that isn’t “just right.”
One of the special features IARU HF Championship contest is bonus points for contacting the headquarters stations for each of the IARU member societies. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) itself also counts as one of these stations. While the Union does not maintain their own station, the privilege to operate their NU1AW call sign is awarded to different contest stations each year. WB9Z and K9CT were chosen this year to operate SSB and CW respectively. These stations are expected to work on multiple bands simultaneously to maximize the number of contest participants that can get these bonus points. This requires a team of operators.
Matt AC9IG was asked to be part of the SSB team hosted by Jerry WB9Z and Val NV9L in Crescent City, IL. He answered a few questions for us regarding operating in this contest.
How did the station differ from your setup at home?
The station at WB9Z is set up for three radios to operate simultaneously. Each one has an amplifier capable of 1500W as well as a high-end radio that really helps to pull out call signs and exchanges in crowded band conditions. The radios each have access to an array of antennas for all bands. Some of these rotate, others are oriented in different fixed directions to take advantage of the gain they provide to different continents for DX. At home I have a dipole that propagates east-west and a 100W transceiver.
Each radio is also attached to a computer to facilitate logging. This is similar to my home station, however we took advantage of having three logs available to us by networking the computers. This once a station was in any log the contest exchange (in this case an ITU zone) would automatically be looked up by any other station completing a part of the log for you automatically.
With the contest station the goal is to get as many contacts as possible. There are a few features of the station that help this. A high quality set of headphones nearly cuts out all noise from the room so you can focus on the audio from the radio. With three stations operating in the same room this is very helpful. The headphones also have a microphone attached so there is no need to pick up a hand mic leaving your hands free to enter call signs into the computer. To complete keeping your hands on the keyboard, the push to talk switch is actually a foot pedal. It takes a few minutes to get used to this setup.
Our team of Volunteer Examiners (VEs) dedicates one Saturday morning per month to administering Amateur Radio license exams for all three license levels. They also spend additional time submitting paperwork for all of the new licenses generated from the tests as well as keeping their testing materials up to date with the latest question pools. In 2017 the team granted 68 new or upgraded licenses.
You can find more information on our test dates and times here.