HCARC Happenings

March 2015


News for Amateur Radio Operators In and Around Hillsdale County



The next club meeting will be Thursday, March 5 at 7pm at the First United Methodist Church, 45 N Manning in Hillsdale (map).  This meeting was originally scheduled for February 19 and postponed twice due to the cold temperatures.  Park in city lot F and use the east entrance off the alley and follow the signs.  It is important that we get a good turnout because as part of the meeting we will conduct special elections to fill vacant leadership positions and complete our annual meeting.  The program will feature Hillsdale County 911/Central Dispatch and Emergency Management Director Doug Sanford N8WFB talking about the upcoming severe weather season, as well as an update on activities at Central Dispatch and Emergency Management.  There will not be a club meeting on March 19, the third Thursday of the month.



This month the Ham Breakfast will be held on Saturday, March 14 at 8am at the Blue Rooster (formally the Pink Panther), 1480 E Chicago in Jonesville (map).  Everyone welcome!


We had a nice turnout for the February ham breakfast at the Sidekick Cafe in Osseo.  Nine hams braved the cold temperatures and dicey roads to enjoy the food and fellowship.



The Board Meeting scheduled for March 4 is canceled.  The next board meeting will be held April 1.



Membership Report

Club membership stands at 21 as of February 28.  February activity included one new member and three renewals.  Of the 19 members at year-end, 13 have renewed and six are in the grace period, which ends on March 31.



Membership Dues For 2015

Club membership dues for 2015 are due.  You must renew by March 31 to maintain your membership status.  Rates are unchanged from last year and are $15 for regular membership, $5 for household membership (additional members in same household after first member pays regular rate) and free for students.  All members are asked to fill out an updated membership application as part of the renewal process.  Dues can be paid by cash or check at club events or mailed to club treasurer Joe Gosla KD8UJS, 2175 Blackmer Drive, Jonesville, MI 49250.  Make checks payable to Hillsdale County Amateur Radio Club or HCARC.



Meeting Programs

We are always looking for interesting ideas for meeting programs.  It doesn’t always have to be about ham radio.  It could be something community related or maybe you know somebody that would be an interesting speaker.  If you have ideas for programs or are willing to present something yourself, contact a member of club leadership.




Public Service is a big part of Amateur Radio.  As Emergency Coordinator (EC) for Hillsdale County, this is a call for anyone interested in Public Service to consider volunteering services through the ARES, RACES and SKYWARN programs.  For more information other than the links below, you can contact me directly via email (dsprow@comcast.net) or cell phone (517-398-3363).  Also, you can get more information on the Monday night 2meter net at 7pm on 147.060 repeater and HCARC club meetings.  Just ask someone from the club leadership to point you in the right direction.  (ARES info)  (ARES/RACES info)  (SKYWARN info)



Monday Night Ragchew Net

Volunteers are always needed to run the Monday Night Ragchew Net.  Check the Net Control Schedule on the club website for the schedule and results.  Contact a member of club leadership if interested.  And don’t forget to check in every Monday at 7pm on the 147.06 MHz repeater.



FCC Paperless Amateur Radio License Policy Now in Effect

Starting February 17 the FCC no longer routinely issues paper license documents to Amateur Radio applicants and licensees.  The Commission maintains that the official Amateur Radio license authorization is the electronic record that exists in its Universal Licensing System, although the FCC had routinely continued to print and mail hard copy licenses.  The new procedures will save at least $304,000 a year.  (ARRL story)



Five Year Old Granted Technician License

Five-year-old Colton Ragsdale of Centennial, Colorado passed his Amateur Radio Technician examination and was issued his license on January 5.  Colton passed the exam with a 91%, only missing 3 of 35 questions and surpassing the 74% requirement to pass the test.  Colton’s new call sign is KE0CRD.  (survivalmonkey.com story)  Check out this video of Colton in action from KUSA TV in Denver.



Study Ordered For Controversial Ham Radio Antenna

A yearlong neighborhood dispute over the appropriateness of a 55-foot amateur radio antenna in the backyard of a Napa, California home will drag on for at least a few more months.  The City Council asked for a California Environmental Quality Act review to determine what impact the tower has on the cultural integrity of the historic neighborhood.  (Napa Valley Register story)  California PRB-1 legislation was approved in 2003.  (California Government Code Section 65850.3)



Hams Track Down Indoor Marijuana Growers Causing Radio Interference

PoliceOne.com, an online resource for law enforcement, ran an article about how ham radio can be used to track down illegal marijuana grow facilities.  Powerful grow lights can emit radio frequency interference (RFI), blocking radio broadcasts on the ham and AM spectrums.  Hams can use ‘fox hunting’ techniques to track down the source of the RFI.  (PoliceOne.com story)  Here are a couple other related stories (Coloradoan story)  (ARRL story) from the July 2014 issue of this newsletter.



ARRL Warns Experimental Licensee To Avoid Interference To HF Ham Activity

The ARRL has asked a Massachusetts company that plans to conduct experimental transmissions over wide portions of the HF spectrum either to avoid Amateur Radio allocations or to announce the times and frequencies of their transmissions in advance.  The FCC last fall granted MITRE Corporation a 2-year Part 5 Experimental License to operate 21 transmitters at 10 fixed New York and Massachusetts sites.  MITRE plans to test wideband HF communication techniques on a variety of bands between 2.5 MHz and 16 MHz.  (ARRL story)



Book Helps Hams Have Fun With Morse Code

Passing a Morse Code test is no longer required to get an amateur radio license, but there's still a mystique about Morse Code and many hams are interested in acquiring this skill and getting on the air.  Michigan ham Dan Romanchik KB6NU is excited to announce the publication of The CW Geek's Guide to Having Fun with Morse Code.  The book is available in as a PDF, Nook, or Kindle e-book directly from KB6NU.com, Amazon and CreateSpace.  (QRZ.com story)



American Legion Magazine Runs Article Featuring Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is featured in the March 2015 issue of The American Legion Magazine.  The article, by best-selling author Don Keith N4KC explains how ham radio remains exciting, important, and relevant, even after more than a century in existence and changes in technology.  Click here to read the article.



RadioShack Files For Bankruptcy

Electronics retailer RadioShack filed for bankruptcy and said it had a deal in place to sell as many as 2,400 stores to an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, its lender and largest shareholder.  Wireless company Sprint would operate as many as 1,750 of those stores under an agreement with Standard General.  The chain's more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores, its Mexican subsidiary and its Asian operations are not part of the bankruptcy.  (Reuters story)  Brothers Theodore and Milton Deutschmann opened the first "Radio Shack" in Boston, a small retail and mail-order business supplying ship radio equipment and ham radios.  They borrowed the name for the store from the small wooden structure onboard ships that housed the radio equipment.  (RadioShack timeline)  Click here for a list of potential store closures.  A Dallas Morning News story said that gift cards will be accepted until March 6.  Check out this RadioShack ad that was broadcast during the February 2014 football game that determined the professional football champion.



Marshall Activity Center Becomes Country Dance Establishment

The Marshall Activity Center, home to the Marshall Hamfest for the past few years, became the Backroads Saloon, a country dance establishment that is open Wednesday through Saturday nights featuring line and couples dance lessons along with live bands.  The facility serves bar food and drink and features a very large dance floor.



West Michigan Youth Club Hamfest Canceled

The West Michigan Youth Club Hamfest, scheduled for March 21 in Lowell, has been canceled according to information on the club website and in the ARRL Hamfest and Convention Database.



Microsoft Will Offer Free Upgrades To Windows 10

Microsoft will offer free upgrades to Windows 10, the next version of its operating system, first for Windows 8.1 users and then for Windows 7 users, the company announced recently.  Microsoft hopes to encourage customers to embrace its new operating system by offering a free refresh for multiple devices.  The free upgrade is only available for the first year after the release date, which has not been announced.  (CNET.com story)  (PCWorld story)



ARRL Seeks Member Input On HF Band Plan Proposals

The ARRL is asking members to comment by April 19 on possible changes to the League’s HF Band Plans suggested by the HF Band Planning Committee.  The survey is part of the committee’s efforts to tweak the band plans for the RTTY/data/CW portions of 80 through 10 meters, excepting 60 meters.  The committee developed its suggested revisions to the voluntary band plans after reviewing some 400 member comments in response to a March 2014 solicitation that sought suggestions for using the spectrum more efficiently so that data modes may coexist compatibly.  (ARRL story)



German Amateurs Breathe New Life Into Shortwave

When German national broadcaster the Deutsche Welle closed down a 500 kW shortwave broadcast transmitter near Munich, an entity headed and operated by hams applied for and was granted the vacant channel of 6070 kHz in the 49 meter shortwave band.  DARC Radio, which has a business association with the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club but is privately owned, now has a 10 kW broadcast station, branded “Channel 292,” up and running, and a new Amateur Radio DX program will debut next month.  (ARRL story)



Weather Summary

Ick...cold...snow…finally February is over!  Snow started around midnight on the first of the month and didn’t stop until we had 17 inches in about 24 hours.  Total snowfall for the month was 25.8 inches.  Ten of 28 days had a low temperature below zero, although there was only one record.  High temps in February were 310 total degrees below normal, with lows 322 degrees below normal.  Looking for an average high of 42 degrees in March with about 6 inches of snow.  Hopefully the worst is over.  The table below shows updated weather summary for Hillsdale city created with data from Accuweather.com and local measurements.



Snow (inches)

Average High Temp (degrees Fahrenheit)

Average Low Temp (degrees Fahrenheit)

# Days Record Low Temp Tied or Set


3.6 / 1.0

41.7 / 44.2

26.7 / 28.8

2 / 0


Trace / 13.3

37.5 / 32.0

27.9 / 19.5

0 / 0


8.6 / 43.4

27.8 / 23.4

14.9 / 6.2

0 / 5


25.8 / 20.9

21.9 / 25.8

2.7 / 8.2

1 / 1

Season to Date Totals

38.0 / 78.6

32.4 / 31.4

18.3 / 15.8

3 / 6


March Forecast vs.  Last March Actual

5.9 / 11.5

41.9 / 36.8

25.0 / 16.9

0 / 3

Current Season / Last Season



Emergency Activities

ARES volunteers in the Southeast remained on alert on February 26 as the region faces an unaccustomed ration of severe winter weather.  Tennessee, which as seen at least 30 winter storm-related fatalities, was placed on a Level II state emergency operations center activation level.  States of emergency also were declared this week in Alabama and Georgia.  (ARRL story)



FCC Amateur Radio License Database Activity in Hillsdale County

02/10/15 N8GOW, Gow, Matthew L, license renewed

02/12/15 KD8BEW, MID MICHIGAN ECOM, license renewed

02/26/15 KC8HEF, Newsome, Gary A, address updated from out of county



FCC Enforcement News

The FCC Enforcement Bureau has imposed a reduced fine of $3000 on a Jacksonville, Florida CB operator for failing to allow FCC agents inspect his station.  Last August the FCC had proposed a fine of $14,000 for denying agents permission to check out his station in the wake of renewed complaints of interference to a neighbor’s home electronic equipment.  In March 2014, agents monitored radio transmissions on 27.245 MHz and used radio direction-finding techniques to track the signal’s source.  (ARRL story)




Hillsdale County Emergency Management is always looking for volunteers, either to join the group or just to monitor the monthly tornado siren test.  Contact Cindy at the HCEM office if you are interested.  Meetings and siren tests are held on the first Monday of the month (except September which is the second Monday), March through October at 6pm (except March & September which are held at 10am).



SKYWARN training will not be offered in Hillsdale County in 2015.  The nearest Spotter Training for the National Weather Service Northern Indiana Forecast Office will be held on March 17 in Coldwater.  Click here for a complete schedule of training for the Northern Indiana office, including registration links.



The Michigan Crossroads Hamfest, commonly referred to as the Marshall Hamfest, is moving to a new location.  This year it will be held on March 14 at the Wings Stadium Annex, 3600 Vanrick Drive in Kalamazoo (map).  Click here for the SMARS hamfest page and click here for the ARRL hamfest info page



The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) has released the 2015-2019 Element 3 (General Class) question pool.  The pool will take effect on July 1, 2015, and will remain valid until June 30, 2019.  The current General question pool, released in 2011, is valid until June 30, 2015.  (ARRL story)



Upcoming Events

March 5 – Club Meeting

March 5 – SKYWARN Training in Archbold, OH

March 9 – SKYWARN Training in Angola, IN

March 14 – Ham Breakfast

March 14 – Michigan Crossroads Hamfest

March 15 – Toledo Hamfest

March 17 – SKYWARN Training in Coldwater

March 21 - West Michigan Youth Club Hamfest CANCELED

April 1 – Board Meeting

April 11 – Ham Breakfast

April 16 – Club Meeting

April 18 - Michigan QSO Party

May 15-17 – Dayton Hamvention

June 27-28 – Field Day


Send us your comments and suggestions to K8HRC@arrl.net

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