About Us

Founded in March 7, 1963, the NIH Radio Amateur Club (NIHRAC) has provided a a place for technical collaboration, fun and public service. Our club includes ham radio enthusiasts who work at NIH or live in the surrounding community. NIHRAC is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, the primary U.S. Federal Government organization responsible for medical and behavioral research.  

For directions and other location data, visit our Directions page.


Participation in public service events is  voluntary and not a requirement for membership, but voluntary public service is at the core of our constitution. NIH supports our club with facilities and equipment to promote the technical and professional development of our membership, enabling us to provide a high level of service to the community. Through our more than 60-year history, NIHRAC has supplied ham-radio emergency communications support to the NIH Clinical Center during crises, participated in public health research and development projects with the National Library of Medicine and the three major hospitals in Bethesda, and volunteered during disaster or special events in our extended community. For training, some of our members participate in public service events, emergency drills and simulations, both on and off the NIH campus. See the REFERENCES section below for some examples. 

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 research hospital on the Bethesda, MD campus. Because of this support role, our Club radio station is also called the "NIHRAC Volunteer Emergency Communications Facility" (VECF). 

NIHRAC has a long standing affiliation with the Montgomery County, Maryland RACES/ARES, the Montgomery County Auxiliary Communications Service (MCACS) 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). Additionally. we are the DHHS station for the U.S. Government SHAred RESources High Frequency Radio program (SHARES HF), and for several years we have been responsible for NIH's affiliation with Army-MARS, although this organization's recent policy changes have put all their relationships with civilian organizations on hold


We conduct monthly in-person meetings in the Bethesda Campus of the National Institutes of Health (see location information below) the FIRST SATURDAY of every month at 1:30PM. We also hold on-the-air meetings, or radio nets, every Monday night at 9:00PM US Eastern Time on our 2-meter repeater. Additionally, we participate in radio contests and other amateur radio activities, including the ARRL Field Day every June. Members also collaborate and share experiences on a variety of other electronic and related hobby projects and activities. Participants can make free use of our tools and resources in our repair/maker space in our radio station facility.


Club membership is open to anyone interested in the hobby. Members offer mentorship and advice to anyone interested in radio and other related technologies (including information technology, digital networks, digital and analogic electronics, etc.). We love geeks, most of us are. But, we also invite and enjoy everyone interested. The NIH facilities have government restrictions (for example, children are only permitted in some locations for safety). Outside of those restrictions, our idea of diversity includes anyone who wants to participate in a positive way. 


President: Victor Cid, W3CID

Vice-President: Andrew Mitz, WA3LTJ

Secretary-Treasurer: Walter Lamar, KB5WGT

Assistant Secretary-Treasurer: Gregg McFarland, N8ONW


"NIH Hams Camp Out to Test Emergency Communications". The NIH Record, Vol. LIV, No. 16, August 6, 2002, Page 8.

Cid, V, Mitz, A., Arnesen, S "Keeping Communications Flowing During Large-Scale Disasters: Leveraging Amateur Radio Innovations for Disaster Medicine". Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2018 Apr; 12(2): 257–264. Published online 2017 Sep 25. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2017.62

"NIHRAC - 60 Years!". Images from The NIH Record and Selected Photographs. Google Slides