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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
As part of our communications readiness activities, Club members, in collaboration with the Randallstown Radio Club, participated on the North America RTTY QSO Party contest on Saturday, February 28. This contest required stations to make as many contacts as possible during 12 hour period using RTTY, an old, but still quite capable digital mode that is widely used for contesting. For this purpose, the new radio rig at NIHRAC was configured for RTTY operation, and required using a laptop computer for logging and rig control (with the N1MM+ and MMTTY software). The goal was to configure the Club's new ICOM rig for digital operating, practice using digital modes, and have fun on the process. The group participated for about 6 hours only, but made over 60 contacts nationally and internationally (DX). Radio operators included KN3U, N2AW, W3CID, W3MIT, W4TG, and WA3LTJ. We also have a visit from a non-ham radio enthusiast, Jung Ho, an NIH postdoc resident.
Thanks to a contribution from the US National Library of Medicine, as part of our collaborative efforts for the Bethesda Hospitals' Emergency Preparedness Partnership, brand new base station equipment is now available at the Club facility. The new rig is an ICOM IC-7600 HF/50Mhz All-mode Transceiver (see specs at http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/7600/default.aspx
) and a matching IC-PW1 Linear Amplifier (see specs at http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/pw1/default.aspx
). The equipment is to be used primarily for emergency communications activities by the Club, but it available for other activities on the premises that can provide Club members the training needed for emergency communications, such as radio contesting, emergency communications drills, and digital modes experimentation, among others. The equipment as has been configured and successfully tested. Presentations about the proper way to use and configure the rig for different communications modalities will be offered during Club meetings in the future (to be announced). Members are also welcome to use the equipment immediately before and after Club meetings. Club members who would like to use the new equipment at other times, please contact the club officers via the email@example.com
ICOM IC-7600 being tested by WA3LTJ.
The Club's Bushcomm broadband (3-30 MHz) antenna has been repaired and it's now fully functional. The antenna is installed on the roof of NIH's Building 11, the Central Power Facility, it's oriented East-West, and had served the Club reliably for many years until it's a failure in the fall. The repair work required lowering the 100+ ft.long, three-wire antenna from both ends, replacing a coaxial line and insulating antenna connector. The antenna and new line were then tested a number of ways using an antenna analyzer and a radio transceiver. The antenna work took place during a cold but clear evening in January 6th (2016), with hands-on contributions from Alford Taylor, KN3U, Andrew Mitz, WA3LTJ, and Victor Cid, W3CID. The job required the team to coordinate tasks with programmable digital pocket radio transceivers (a.k.a., smart phones). Participants reported that it was an uneventful but fun engineering work, with excellent results.
KN3U preparing to insulate antenna connector (warm water steam is coming out of the plant's exhaust vents).
(More pictures are available on our photo gallery)
Some NIHRAC members joined the Randallstown Amateur Radio Club during the ARRL Field Day 2015 event. The group setup radio stations at the Washington Monument State Park in Middletown, MD, as a "2A" station which used only emergency power. This was a fun but very effective emergency preparedness activity that tested the capabilities of the group to deploy during an emergency and operate continuously for 24 hours. The team communicated successfully on HF and VHF, using a variety of radio communications modes, including phone (voice), CW, PSK31 and WL2K packet and Pactor. During the event, hams also experimented with high-speed point-to-point radio links to provide Internet connectivity to the camp site. The weather provided a challenging storming environment on Friday--during setup--and Saturday, but rewarded the group's efforts efforts with a beautiful sunny Sunday. Several visitors were involved in the communications activities via the Get On The Air (GOTA) radio station. Once again, Field Day was source of valuable and memorable experiences for all involved.
Our Club facility, also known as the NIH Volunteer Emergency Communications Facility, has been relocated temporarily from its original location in room 308 of NIH Building 11 to room 305 across the hall. We will remain in this room during the summer, while the NIH Office of Research Facilities completes a renovation of the building floor. Our monthly meetings will be conducted in this room during this time. We have setup a few radio stations and we will hold our meeting in this room during this time. The process to get in the room during meetings remains essentially the same, except that we don't have access to a telephone line in the room yet and therefore our main line of communications is our 2m repeater (see info elsewhere on our website) and our conference line, which is normally activated a few minutes after our meeting time. You can also send email to our firstname.lastname@example.org email address, as some club officers can see emails sent to this account via their personal mobile commercial digital radios (a.k.a., cellular phones).
The NIH Radio Amateur Club received a posthumous donation of amateur radio equipment and tools from the estate of Quinton N. Marsh, N3KGM. Quinton passed away in December, 2014 at the age of 99 years old.
Quinton was a Navy veteran who served during World War II, held an Extra Class FCC Amateur Radio License, and served as a Volunteer Examiner in support of new generations of hams. He was an active NIHRAC member until a few years ago, frequently helped the Club as a volunteer communicator during emergency exercises that involved the NIH Clinical Center, and was an active participant in numerous Monday night nets in our repeaters. Despite the confines of living in an apartment house in the last few years, he was active on 75-meter SSB.
The NIHRAC Club members wish to express our appreciation to Quinton and his family for this generous donation, which will supplement our resources for emergency preparedness and the joy of the hobby. We celebrate Quinton's life as a person of service and integrity, a respected fellow ham and a friend.
NIHRAC was represented at the Preparedness Summit in Atlanta in April 2015. This event, sponsored by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), gathered over 2000 public health and emergency management professionals from across the country and foreign nations. The event had a number of amateur radio activities, including a session on amateur radio technologies for emergency support, a license test preparation class for new and aspiring hams, an amateur radio exhibit boot, and a especial event radio station. The event also offered a license test session, which allowed around 14 hams (roughly half of those who took the exams) to obtain or upgrade their FCC licenses. The NIHRAC representative, W3CID, presented about Winlink 2000
, supported the test preparation session, and provided log support during the operation of the N4P especial event station at the Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club
. N4P made over 900 contacts, which included stations in all 50 states and 35 countries, in 4 fun evenings of amateur radio good-will communications. The worked stations also included W6RO (the R.M.S. Queen Mary station in Long Beach), several Emergency Operations Centers, W1HQ (the ARRL HQ Station) and other remarkable stations. The special event station advertised operations in several bands and Echolink, but most contacts were in the 20 Mts band. The GATech Amateur Radio Club graciously allowed Summit hams to use their equipment, which included a YAESU MARK V FT-1000MP transceiver, a 1000 W linear amplifier, and a 4-element 20M beam, among others. The Summit was also the inaugural event for the recently-created Public Health Amateur Radio Club.
NIHRAC will participate on the "Preparedness Summit 2015 - Global Health Security: Preparing a Nation for Emerging Threats
" in Atlanta, Georgia, April 13-17. The Summit is the premier national conference in the field of public health and healthcare preparedness and it's regularly attended by thousands of public health and emergency management professionals from across the nation and abroad. During this 10th edition of the Summit, W3CID will conduct a hands-on demonstration of the BMERS
system for emergency email communications over radio. Several ham radio activities sponsored by NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) are planned during the event, including: a booth where attendees will be able to learn about the role of ham radio in emergencies; a ham radio Technician exam license preparation session ("Ham Cram"); and a ham radio exam session where new hams will be able to get their ticket. In collaboration with the Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club, the newly formed Public Health Amateur Radio Club, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, the Kennehoochee Amateur Radio Club, Cobb County ARES and NACCHO, the special event radio station N4P will operate during the Summit form the nearby Georgia Tech campus. The station will operate on VHF, HF and EchoLink (W4AQL). Frequencies will be announced soon--check this announcement for updates.
The NIHRAC Club facility in the NIH campus will undergo renovation work during the next few months. The NIH Office of Research Facilities is designing the new Club space and plans to start the demolition and rebuilding process in the following weeks. The new office space will be located on the same floor and building as will be around the same size, but probably will be shifted to another location on the floor. The new facility will enjoy modern construction materials, improved power, A/C and lighting, and a number of other improvements. We are in the process of moving the Club's belongings to an adjacent office space, which will serve as storage area and temporary radio operating location. We expect to remain in that temporary space for around four months. We need volunteers to help classify, pack and transport materials. More information about this process will be shared via our membership email list and our website.