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Contest University

Hamvention 2020
Hamvention 2020

Although Dayton Hamvention is canceled this year, the Contest University has been moved online and will be free via Zoom. It runs from 1245z to ~2300z Thursday May 14 (7:45 AM to 6:00 PM CDT), and will have a great deal of interesting information from some very experienced operators. This is an incredible opportunity, and at a price that can’t be beat. Check it out if you have the time.

After going through the courses, there will be a contest Saturday that should be a great time to apply your new knowledge: the Hamvention QSO Party. It runs from 1200-2359z Saturday 5/16 (7 AM to 6:59 PM CDT), and the exchange is a signal report (59 on single-sideband voice or 5NN on Morse code) plus the four-digit year you first attended Hamvention or 2020 if you’ve never been.


Amateur Radio RF Exposure Calculator

I found this link very useful for those of us operating a radio with an indoor antenna or in close proximity to any antenna and high power output. High power stations are required to perform these calculations. I recommend all amateurs review their exposure. Its quick to calculate with the link below. For example, In my apartment, 14W is maximum recommended output power (on 144 and 444 MHz) when I’m 6 feet away from my indoor vertical antenna.

ARRL RF Exposure page has more detail about FCC station testing requirements and suggested steps to protect yourself and others from the RF emitted from your station.

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!