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September VHF Contest 9/8-9

This weekend is the American Radio Relay League’s September VHF
Contest, which runs from 1:00 PM CDT Saturday through 9:59 PM CDT
Sunday. There is going to be a lot of rover activity near the Twin
Cities, so be sure to hop on—especially if you can run SSB or FT8 on
6 m and 2 m. Even if you’re FM-only, listen on 146.550 FM simplex
and 446.000 FM simplex. Full rules here.

To make things more interesting for FM-only stations, I recommend
focusing on 4:00-4:30 PM Saturday, 8:00-8:30 AM Sunday, and 9:30-9:59
PM Sunday—or rather immediately following the Bloomington Amateur
Radio Association’s Sunday night net at 9:00 PM that takes place on
the 147.090+ repeater.

For the contest, you need to exchange and log callsigns and grid
squares, as well as recording frequency, mode, and time of the
contact. Bloomington and the south metro is in EN34 (echo november
three four), central and north metro should check here.
The pace of the
contest is usually slow enough that paper logging is a reasonable
choice—but you will probably want to enter it into a computer (e.g.
here) to submit for log

Sample exchange:
* 146.550 FM *
[K0BBC/R]: CQ contest, kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover!
[W0ZQ]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec
[K0BBC/R]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec, echo november two five
[W0ZQ]: Echo november three four. Move to 446?
[K0BBC/R]: Sure! Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover
[W0ZQ]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec to 446.000
* Switch to 446.000 FM*
[K0BBC/R]: Whiskey zero zulu quebec, kilo zero bravo bravo charlie, rover!
[W0ZQ]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover, echo november three four
[K0BBC/R]: Echo november two five, thanks for another band, see you in
the next grid!
[W0ZQ]: Thanks! Whiskey zero zulu quebec
[K0BBC/R]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover, anyone else on frequency?
[K0BBC/R]: Kilo zero bravo bravo charlie rover back to 146.550

Coordination via non-amateur means (internet, cell phones, etc.) is
explicitly allowed for this contest as long as all necessary
information is exchanged over the air. That means you can phone or
text someone and choose a frequency and time (generally “now” or “in
five minutes when I get this thing set up”) to have a contact. This
is particularly useful with stations that have directional antennas or
if you want to make sure you get a contact with.

One place to look for activity is the Northern Lights Radio Society’s
activity spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet shows the bands and modes of both fixed stations
(first tab) and rovers (second tab), as well as the rover location
plans and contact info.

Another good place to go is the W0UC spots page.

If you have 6 m capability and can run WSJT-X, get on FT8! Make sure
you enable the VHF/UHF/Microwave features and check the “NA VHF
Contest” box. There should be some FT8 activity throughout the day.
Early in the morning (5-7 AM) you might also try WSJT-X’s MSK144 mode
to bounce signals off the ionized trails of meteors.

Want more action? Hop in your vehicle and join the Saturday
afternoon/evening rover pack near Winsted, MN! Even with just a
handheld, you will be able to work several other rovers at the corner
and run up a big score.

Using APRS or looking for rovers? Check out and the Mountain Lake APRS propagation page.

Some VHF contest resources can be found in Membership section of this website.

Field Day 2019

The premiere operating activity of the year takes place Saturday June 23 until midday Sunday June 24.

The Bloomington Amateur Radio Association joins the Richfield Radio Club at the Richfield Community Center on Nicollet Avenue for this event.

Please show up around 10 A.M. to help setup.  Radio operations begin at 1 P.M. Saturday and conclude at 1 P.M. on Sunday.  Help tearing down is most appreciated.

June VHF Club Challenge

On behalf of the Bloomington Amateur Radio Association, I would like to issue a challenge to local clubs around Minnesota (including their membership in surrounding states): can you get more stations on the air and logs submitted for the ARRL June VHF Contest than BARA?

With Field Day on the horizon, the June VHF contest is a good opportunity to get operators on the air and making contacts, even if it’s only on 2m/70cm FM. It would be fun to see if you can put your microphone where your mouth is and make a few contacts during the June VHF contest. The contest runs from 1:00 PM CDT Saturday 6/9 (1800z) to 9:59 PM CDT Sunday 6/10 (0259z Monday 6/11).

To make things a little less intimidating, I suggest three half-hour FM focus times during the contest, 4:00-4:30 PM Saturday 6/9, 8:00-8:30 AM Sunday 6/10, and 9:30-9:59 PM Sunday 6/10, using a frequency of 146.550 MHz (and 446.000 MHz). With these focus times, a casual operator doesn’t need to spend the whole weekend looking for contacts, and there’s even a category exclusively for FM-only operators.

The information exchanged is your four-character grid square, and you will need to log frequency, call, grid square, time (UTC) and mode. In Bloomington and the southern Twin Cities metro the grid square is EN34, but you should check yours before participating in the contest.

If you are interested in a quick overview of how to participate in a VHF+ contest, complete with recommended scripts for contacts, I urge you to take a look at this 2-page guide. For a more detailed discussion of VHF contesting, including modes other than FM, there is a longer guide here. Full rules for the ARRL June VHF contest can be found on the ARRL website.

Make sure that after the contest you submit your log to the ARRL! You can enter the data from paper logs and submit them directly using this web tool.

I hope to hear you on the air!
President, Bloomington Amateur Radio Association

The forecast on Sunday afternoon looks quite nice, so I’m planning to operate portable on 20 meters at Kenwood Park, somewhere on the hill near the center of the park from 2-5 PM CDT. If you’d like to come by and join me, you’re welcome to do so. It’ll be a bit like Field Day, except shorter (but very likely good weather). Bringing a pair of headphones/earbuds and a logging device (pad of paper, notebook, phone, computer) is recommended.

Left to my own devices I’ll be operating using Morse code, but I’ll have capability for all modes including voice, FT8, and RTTY for anyone who wants to join in and doesn’t know code by ear.

April Meeting Canceled

After consultation with the forecast products from the National Weather Service forecast office in Chanhassen, we have decided to cancel the in-person meeting tonight. Heavy snow throughout the day will make travel difficult this evening, and the BARA meeting is not sufficiently important to hold in-person.

However, we will take this opportunity to make use of the BARA repeater (147.090 MHz, +600 kHz offset, no tone), and will hold a net at 7:30 PM CDT. The BARA amendment vote will be held in May.

I hope to hear you on the air tonight!

St. Cloud Cabin Fever Reliever January 27th

The Best Hamfest In Central Minnesota

Saturday, January 27th, 2018
The National Guard Armory
1710 Veterans Drive
Saint Cloud, MN 56303

Breakout Sessions Throughout the Day

QSL Card Checking
All ARRL Awards – All Bands
VE Testing Starting at 10:00 am
Admission Fee NOT Required for Testing

General Admission: $8.00

Doors Open at 9:00 am – No Exceptions!
Vendors ONLY Allowed Entry at 7:00 am
Tables/BYO Table Spots are LIMITED

Vendors MUST Preregister/Prepay to Guarantee a Spot
Click on ‘Vendors’ at to Register
Talk-In: 147.015+ MHz, Tone 100 Hz
For Complete Information Please Visit:


Metro Skywarn got it’s start in Bloomington in the 1960’s

Did you know Minnesota Skywarn got it start, on 80 meters, in the 1960’s. It was Bloomington hams, working with the Weather Bureau at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, that got it started.  Enjoy Dave’s article…
The History of Metro Skywarn, Inc By Dave Johnson, NØKBD

Skywarn in the Twin Cities has been around for nearly 40 years in various forms. Emerging from HF as Minnesota Amateur Weather Network in the late 1960s, the W.I.N.D.S. program was focused on Bloomington Emergency Management. In 1984, Irv Norling, then Director of Emergency Communications in the City of Bloomington, in a memo to Robert Heland (Unit 495) welcomed the Multi-county Skywarn team into the Bloomington Communications Group. A Multi-county Skywarn Net lead by a net control using call sign WCØAAA was established.
Until 1992, Skywarn remained an informal organization involving the National Weather Service, the City of Bloomington represented by Charlie Kolar NØDCR, a police officer and the Bloomington Emergency Manager as well as Ramsey County Emergency Management and Homeland Security represented by Bill Hughes NØQHP. Since the mid 1980’s, a few dedicated volunteer meteorologists and Amateur Radio Operators worked year round. They trained and organized Amateur communications for 500 amateur radio operators in the seven county metro area. For awhile, some of meteorologists took a turn getting up before the sun, and writing their own severe weather outlook and read it to interested hams at 7am every morning during the severe weather season on the 146.85 repeater. Those involved included Dave Blair WBØYUC, Tom Nelson NØGQA, Dave Floyd KBØCIE, Mike Langfus NØJJL, Bob Adams KCØJJ, Rich Bann KAØBZK, Don Heppleman NØJOO and Donn Baker WA2VOI.Many of the core members moved on in their careers between 1991 and 1993. Don Heppleman led a series of meetings with a group of leaders from Bloomington Emergency Management, Ramsey County Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, Bloomington RACES, Dakota County ARES/RACES, Carver County Radio Club, Anoka County Radio Club and Emergency Services, and Ramsey County ARES/RACES.

What emerged in 1993 was Metro Skywarn, a regional organization serving the 11 county metro area, newly conceived as a consortion of amateur radio, emergency management organizations and the National Weather Service. The idea was that a consortium of organization sending representatives would ensure the future of Metro Skywarn as an organization he new organization was co-chaired by Walt Marty NØRCY and Dave Johnson NØKBD. By the end of 1994 Metro Skywarn was on the path to incorporation.

Others involved in the 1990s included John Kelley NØTGY, Lynn DeLong NØCVI, Doug Reed NØNAS, Leland Helgerson WBØMLL, Matt Stepaniak NØTNL, Dave Zellman WBØYDF, Audrey Zellman NØOKX, Gene Clemens KBØMIP, Paul Emiott KØLAV, Jim Richardson WMØX, Bill Hughes NØQHP, Todd Krause KBØSGH, and Fred Fey K9LQQ. Millennial members added Curt KCØFQZ, Tim Arimond NØBYH. John Wetter KØWDJ, John Blood, Sandra Johnson KCØTSB, Steve Levens ABØYQ, Joe Chesney KCØGYJ, Kevin Huyek KB9WOB, Nick Elms WXØSVR, Lara Rodriquez WXØGRL, Mike McIlheran KØMWM, Kris Pierson KØKMP, David Gawboy KCØTRZ and Jeff Goodnuff WØKF.

Then 2010s brought the next generation of leaders, Theresa Caspers KCØGWW, Todd Megrund KØTSW, Sue Megrund KØTSM, Chris White NØCJW, Paul Johnson NØCRC, Howard Lund KCØWNL, David Riviera KØDJR (Webmaster) and Ryan Kelzenberg NØYFE.

Thanks to all the past leadership of Metro Skywarn. Without you all, none of this could have happened. For those of you I missed, I’m truly sorry. Let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

Metro Skywarn today is a consortium of Amateur and Government Public Service organizations and other individuals. Metro Skywarn’s mission is to provide trained amateur radio operators capable of making accurate reports of severe weather to the NWS. Metro Skywarn has focused it’s mission to serve the core counties of the Metro area, five counties of Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Scott, Washington and Carver. In addition, Metro Skywarn has a collaborative agreement with Wright Co. Skywarn. Organizations which send representatives include (but are not limited to) Bloomington Communications Group, Ramsey County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Twin Cities Radio Club, Twin Cities FM Club, Metro Area Repeater Association, Wright County Skywarn, the National Weather Service, Maple Grove Radio Club, and Ramsey County RCES.

Metro Skywarn is a RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) organization of volunteer Amateur Radio operators trained in emergency communications and severe weather spotting. Authorized and regulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), RACES organizations provide essential communications and warning links for state and local governments and the Red Cross during emergencies.

Trained Skywarn observers provide the Weather Service with accurate, and timely reports. If the NWS infers severe weather from radar and confirms it with spotter information, it then notifies local authorities who then can activate Civil Defense sirens. The news media receives notification so they can make reports on local broadcast stations. The volunteer spotters each spend hundreds of dollars for their equipment and gas, and together contribute thousands of man hours of volunteer time each year as spotters and net control operators. Additional expenses and time are spent in training and travel. All are Amateur Radio operators licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.

The NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Todd Krause, and NWS Skywarn Coordinator, John Wetter, put together a training program for weather spotters. Metro Skywarn adds operations training. Nearly 600 spotters are trained every year. Spotters are trained to identify severe weather and to report observed weather to Metro Skywarn Net Operators. Metro Skywarn develops the net procedures, trains net personnel, and plans and coordinates with ARES/RACES and Emergency Management organizations and repeater owners to put together several teams of operators prepared to run Skywarn nets on local Amateur Radio repeaters.

Before the 1970s, tornado outbreaks were known to kill dozens and sometimes hundreds. Minnesota statistics were not quite as staggering but bad none-the-less. Since tornado education for the general public became a priority in the late 1960s, the rate of deaths and injures have dropped precipitously. Skywarn deserves some of the credit. Again, thanks to all the volunteers that make Metro Skywarn work!