About Us

Founded in March 7, 1963, the NIH Radio Amateur Club has provided over a half century of voluntary public service, safety, and emergency-preparedness communications to the National Institutes of Health, and to the local, regional, national and international communities. 
Membership in our Radio Amateur Club is open to anyone interested in the hobby. We conduct monthly in-person meetings in the Bethesda Campus of the National Institutes of Health (Maryland, USA) the FIRST SATURDAY of every month at 1PM. See below for directions. We also hold on-the-air meetings, or radio nets, every Monday night at 8:30PM EST and participate in a number of amateur radio activities. See our Home page for updated information.

NIHRAC is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, the primary U.S. Federal Government organization responsible for medical and behavioral research.  NIH supports our club with facilities and equipment to promote the technical and professional development of our membership, enabling us to provide a higher level of service to our community and nation.

We are an integral part of the NIH Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and maintain a close working relationship with The NIH Clinical Center, the hospital on the Bethesda, MD campus. Because of this role, our Club facility is called the NIHRAC Volunteer Emergency Communications Facility (VECF). Our club participates in the biannual emergency preparedness exercise by providing communications at the hospital and other emergency preparedness events (for example, see this NIH Record article). We also collaborate with the National Library of Medicine on the Bethesda Hospital Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP), providing radio operation and engineering expertise for an emergency communications research project that makes use of Winlink 2000. See our EmComm Support page for additional details.

NIHRAC has a long standing affiliation with the Montgomery County, Maryland RACES/ARES, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).  The Club is also AMSAT Life Member Society #20 (since about 1970), and Club Sponsor of The Mid-Atlantic Repeater Council (T-MARC). We are also responsible for NIH's affiliation with Army-MARS.



Club activities, including our official monthly meetings, are generally held at the NIHRAC facility located at the NIH Central Utility Plant on the Bethesda campus,
Building 11, Room 305 (temporarily, during summer 2015 due to remodeling work). GPS coordinates:  38°59'54.6"N 77°06'11.1"W (see an interactive Google map in our Contact Us page).
To attend our meetings at the NIHRAC VECF:
  • Visitors driving or walking must enter the NIH Campus in Bethesda via the NIH Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility (CVIF) on Rockville Pike (Rt. 355), south of West Cedar Lane, or via NIH Gateway Dr. off Rockville Pike (center-right on the map below).
  • On weekends, visitors are free to park on any regular parking spaces designated for NIH Parking Permit Holders. Please do not park on spaces that have other special reserved designations, unless you have the proper badge. There are several parking spaces right outside (West side) of building 11. On weekdays, there are a few paid visitor parking locations on campus, but one common choice is to park at MLP 11, accessible through NIH Gateway Dr.
  • Once you  arrive to building 11, if nobody is at the door call the NIHRAC facility to 301-496-5311 and someone will come to escort you to the meeting room. This telephone number is only available during meeting hours. If you carry a mobile or HT amateur radio, you can also call someone via our 2-meter repeater at 145.290 MHz (see our Repeaters page for updated information).

Map of NIH and NIHRAC

The campus can also be easily accessed by metro and other public transportation. For more details about accessing the NIH campus in Bethesda, visit the NIH Visitor Information page. There is also a Google map available at our Contact Us page.