Hybrid-Modality Club Meetings

posted Sep 6, 2022, 7:50 AM by Victor Cid

NIHRAC meeting during COVID period 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote meetings as regular as a plain cup of joe. We are experimenting with a new modality for our monthly meetings: simultaneous in-person and on-line. During our usual meetings the first Saturday of the month, participants can join us in person at the Club station on the Bethesda NIH campus, or remotely online via Zoom (or equivalent). We turn to online-only meetings when the Montgomery County or NIH COVID alert becomes high. We hope this hybrid meeting modality can help more members to join our monthly meetings, which are packed with good conversations about the hobby and related activities and news.

 As always, meeting participants are welcomed and encouraged to bring up their own projects to the conversation, and you do not need to be a member or have a ham radio license to join us. 

Antenna Repair Update

posted Oct 15, 2019, 11:47 AM by Victor Cid   [ updated Oct 15, 2019, 11:49 AM ]

Rotor repair work on the roof of NIHRAC building -- Sept 2019
Our telescopic antenna tower was repaired. The muti-band Hexx/Spider Beam antenna is also repaired and now raised over 40 feet above the roof of our building in the NIH campus. The antenna rotor is the final component that remains to be repaired--it was already diagnosed and we are waiting for some parts and the opportunity (free time) to complete the work.

(click on image to see larger animated version)

Our renovated facility

posted Aug 2, 2019, 12:02 PM by Victor Cid   [ updated Oct 15, 2019, 11:26 AM by Victor Cid ]

NIHRAC radio operating room
The bulk of the NIH-sponsored renovation of our club facility is completed. We have new radio operating stations that support all amateur radio bands and modes of operation. The facility is now ready for all club activities. However, as a side effect of the larger renovation work in the building, we lost access to a meeting room next to our club space, but our room can comfortably accommodate meetings of up to about 8 people and we have access to a larger room in another floor for larger gatherings. 

Our main operating station has an IC-7600 radio and computer rig able to operate in analog and digital modes,a s well as a Winlink station. The room also has VHF and UHF stations and an Echolink server. For DIY projects, the room has an assortment of electronic testing and development tools (oscilloscopes, signal generators, etc.), work tools and supplies. We also recently received an assortment of other equipment and materials and parts that can be used for radio and other electronics experimentation.

Among our pending tasks (we will never not have pending tasks :-), are the construction of a multiband, motorized SteppIR antenna, antenna tower repairs, rotor repairs, and room shelving. We are looking for donations of wall shelving materials an a workbench to improve our repair and DIY area. If you have any of these, please contact the club at


posted Dec 13, 2017, 4:38 PM by Victor Cid   [ updated Dec 13, 2017, 4:42 PM ]
As in several years past, many of our NIHRAC members joined the Randallstown Amateur Radio Club during the ARRL Field Day in June at the Washington Monument State Park in Middletown, Maryland--atop the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Our very own Jim K3MRI made an outstanding documentary video about the event. Click here to access the video. Our score was once again remarkable: 9th place in the 3A category nationwide, 2nd place in the Atlantic Division 3AQ Category, and 44th out of 2965 radio stations competing (top 1.48% nationwide!). This was the first year the group has participated in the 3A category (portable stations operating on emergency power only, with up to three radio transceivers transmitting simultaneously, plus one Get On the Air [GOTA] station for new hams or demonstrations for non-hams and one VHF station. See the full FD rules at: previous years we have been 2A. As you can see in Jim's documentary, we had a lot of fun, we could practice our emergency communications skills, and tested our equipment and deployment abilities. Many thanks to our RARC friends, and thanks to Jim for the amazing video production!


posted Dec 1, 2017, 2:51 PM by Victor Cid

BMERS console
An article about our collaborative project with NLM was published in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal. The piece describes the current status of BMERS, our emergency email system for medical facilities. The system makes use of amateur radio technology and custom software to enable a single operator to easily serve the remote communications needs of an Incident Command team in a EOC or similar disaster/crisis management environment. For more information, see our BMERS page. The article can be accessed here (full text will soon be available in PubMed Central).

MD/DC ARRL 2017 SET Exercise

posted Oct 12, 2017, 10:49 AM by Victor Cid   [ updated Oct 12, 2017, 10:49 AM ]

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, we joined the Montgomery County Auxiliary Communications Service (MCACS, during the Maryland/DC 2017 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test emergency communications exercise. The radio station was deployed to the Izaak Walton League facility on Clopper Road, Gaithersburg. The exercise consisted on using Winlink (email over radio) on amateur radio frequencies on the 80-meter band. Communications were exchanged with hospitals and other local government entities in Ocean City and the surrounding area. This exercise simulated a direct hurricane hit on Ocean City, MD. A number of amateur radio stations were deployed to three locations near Ocean City. The exercise was preceded on Thursday October 5th by a "warm up" Hospital Radio Net for ARES members that made use of the Central Maryland Repeater Group's system of linked 440 MHz repeaters in Laurel, Suitland, Frederick, Baltimore and Aquasco.

New 2m Repeater Antenna

posted Sep 25, 2017, 6:55 AM by Victor Cid   [ updated Sep 25, 2017, 9:15 AM ]

New NIHRAC repeater receive antenna (center)
A new 2-meter receive antenna for the NIHRAC repeater has been installed on the roof of NIH building 10 (Clinical Center) as a result of changes required for enhancements to the building. The anew antenna is already in operation. This new equipment was made possible by the generous support of Ken Marlar, KD3R, and his team from NIH OD/ORS. Click on the picture to see a larger version of the image. We welcome signal reports. You can send reports and other communications to

Field Day 2017

posted Jun 14, 2017, 7:35 AM by Victor Cid   [ updated Jun 14, 2017, 12:19 PM ]

Field Day 2012
NIHRAC once again will join the Randallstown Amateur Radio Club (RARC) to participate in the national ARRL Field Day the last weekend of June. We will join over 35,000 radio communicators from across the country and Canada to practice emergency communications and enjoy the amateur radio hobby. We will exercise radio skills from multiple radio stations, in a variety of modes, analog and digital, and will operate only on emergency power—batteries and generators, including a novel backup power system we developed in collaboration with NLM's DIMRC. We will also test the latest version of BMERS, a Winlink-based system developed with NLM to support medical facilities. The event will run from 2PM Saturday June 24th to 5PM Sunday June 25th, Eastern Time. We will be located at the Washington Monument State Park, west of Frederick on the Appalachian Trail, at an elevation of 1,830 feet, at Fort Necessity Shelter (This is a Google Maps link:,-77.6257667,672m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m20!1m14!4m13!1m6!1m2!1s0x89c9e8938cef0323:0x3bca0576159374e6!2sFort+Necessity+Shelter,+Boonsboro,+MD+21713!2m2!1d-77.6244587!2d39.4994369!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x3bca0576159374e6!2m2!1d-77.6244587!2d39.4994369!3m4!1s0x89c9e8938cef0323:0x3bca0576159374e6!8m2!3d39.4994369!4d-77.6244587).

We will welcome any visitors, radio hobbyists or not, and specially anyone interested in emergency preparedness, public safety and all the disciplines (including engineering) involved in keeping communications going during a disaster. Friendly “hams” will be available to answer any questions and to help you try your hand at radio communications, if you don't have a ham licence yet.

The Washington Monument State Park is beautiful all year round, but specially during this season, and it’s perfect for a family picnic or a hike along the gorgeous Appalachian Trail. For more information about the park visit:

NIHRAC Twitter Account

posted Mar 7, 2017, 6:19 PM by Victor Cid   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 6:20 PM ]
The Club has now a twitter account. We will use it to advertise some of our activities, emergency information, and disseminate ham radio news. Please consider following us on twitter @NIHRadioClub (

Club Renovation Work

posted Jan 31, 2017, 1:36 PM by Victor Cid

Under contruction
The NIH Radio Amateur Club meeting space, also called the NIH Volunteer Emergency Communications Facility (VECF), is undergoing renovation work and therefore our meetings are temporarily being conducted at alternative locations. The meeting place is usually advertised via the NIHRAC-L email list, but feel free to contact us at to get the most updated meeting location information. We do not know yet when the renovation work will be completed, but the NIH office responsible for this work stated that it could be completed the first half of 2017. We will post updates on the web site and on meeting minutes.

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