A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

October is a very exciting time of year. We see and experience the wrestling match of the seasons, Summer vs. Fall. There is no better place than Colorado to have a front row seat to the majesty behind this annual battle of the seasons. At the same time, it is one of my favorite times of year because of the Major League Baseball playoffs. Very rarely do I get a chance to watch a single game on the comfy couch, let alone four games in one evening. Whether it is the crisp mornings, watching the first leaves change color, or baseball playoffs, change is evident and change is coming.

For the PRA, this October is a special month for the organization as we elect new officers for the organization. These officers will serve two year terms, starting in 2020. What I am most proud of is the fact that so many people were nominated, took the brave step, and said, “yes, I’d like a shot” at whichever position they were nominated. In the PRA’s history, this has been the greatest turnout of nominations and candidate pool. To me, that is a testament to the foundation and backbone of the PRA – the MEMBERS!

From an activity standpoint, the PRA gathered firearms enthusiasts for a group event. One hobby promoting another – but without amateur radio, this type of gather would have never happened. Also coming up is a QRP Expedition to Signal Butte. Fresh air, mountains, hiking, and radio. Combine that with the season change and amazing display of colors, that is certainly going to be an amazing experience for the participants. Again, the commonality of amateur radio brought all of this together.

As the nominations are in, I’d like to thank the membership for their trust in me for the next two-year term. As I stated, this will be my last two year term as I firmly believe that this organization needs fresh eyes and fresh perspectives at all levels of the organization. I would also like to congratulate John-N4SJW and Wayne-N0AD on their nominations and seating to the Director-At-Large positions. It is important that you come out and vote at our October meeting on October 15th. If you are unable to make it in person, make sure you secure an absentee ballot from Robert-AE0CA, our Election Chairperson. If you haven’t noticed, yet, change is evident and change is coming.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

Through the balance of this year, we have a lot of exciting activities and inevitable changes taking place. Some of these activities are driving the change. If you’ve ever read one of my favorite books, “Who Moved My Cheese?” you’ll understand why change should be embraced as opportunity for not only growth, but survival. Change is the only constant, and change forces us out of our comfort zone which is necessary in our lives and in our organizations.

Our September and October monthly meetings mark significant importance to the PRA. It is our Nomination and Election meetings, respectively. All PRA Leadership positions are open for nomination and will lead our organization through 2021. I believe that organizations such as ours need consistency, but need new ideas and fresh perspectives. I highly encourage you to consider yourself or a friend for one of these positions. All of our officers are happy to discuss any details, commitment level and responsibilities of the positions. It is also important to note that Terry, WB3EVZ and Paul, AC5S will not be running for re-election. I want to thank both Terry and Paul for their expertise, enthusiasm, ideas, suggestions and guidance over the past five years. Both of these gentlemen have been involved with the PRA since day one and their direct impact to the Organization will be felt for decades to come. The next time you see them, be sure to thank them for their service, ideas, and leadership over the last several years. I know the PRA would not be where it is without them.

Both Terry and Paul demonstrate that getting involved helps the common good. Maybe you’re not about an elected officer position, which is OK; sign up for a net (PLEASE, WE NEED MORE – go to our “EVENTS” tab and sign-up!), participate in our community events like Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s, come out to Elmer Night and teach one of the newest hams, serve on a committee like our Repeater or Website Committees. Every little bit helps and only takes a few minutes each month.

Since our first day, the PRA has long committed to belong to its Members, not the Leadership. You have the ability to make the PRA what you want it to be. There is no time like now to get involved; sometimes the most simple acts make the greatest impacts for the future.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update From the President’s Shack

The Parker Radio Association hit a major milestone in the Organization’s history the evening of July 31st. We reached the 100 member mark. Reaching a milestone like this is nothing short of remarkable, considering we started this endeavor only five short years ago. For any organization, hitting a milestone does not happen by accident or is it the act of any one individual. Milestones are a collective effort by a team of individuals that are bonded together in serving a purpose and a mission.

When a small group decided to take a leap of faith in forming the PRA (frankly, we said, “let’s see what happens”), our first announcement of kicking this can down the road was met with a lot of skeptics that were loud in their opinions. One of these skeptics in particular said, “Great, just what Denver needs, another radio club; just get in your car and drive to one of the other clubs that is already in the area…SMH.” A statement like this hit home because there was an element of truth; Denver does have a strong concentration of long established Amateur Radio organizations. Even while standing at the base of this mountain, this small founding group came to the consensus that if we had 15, 20, or even 25 people that were “regular” and participatory, we would be just fine.

As I reflect back on the last five years, we quickly established 15, 20, then 25 regular participants. That soon quickly grew to 40, 50, then 60 members and that happened quickly. Growing that quickly does not come with its own struggles. When we had a small member base, it was easy to manage with our Leadership Team alone. However, as the numbers grew, the Leadership Team knew it was time to give the control to the members and manage the Organization. Committees were formed, members took Lead roles in these committees and new members found a way to get quickly plugged into the organization. Besides our normal monthly business meeting that is capped with absolutely amazing presentations, we decided that a night per month that is dedicated exclusively to learning and teaching was important – welcome to the formation of Elmer Night. Our Elmer Nights are just as popular as monthly meetings. No agenda, no script; simply an evening of teaching, learning, Q&A and forming relationships.

It is obvious that it is the members that make the PRA what it is today. Hitting the 100 member mark is nothing to sneeze at and it is a testament to the common goal and mission of the Organization that is lead by the members. I can’t help but wonder what the next milestone will be for the organization will be. Regardless, one thing that I know true, the next milestone will also be a result of positive actions by the collective membership. To our critics from five years ago, I hope we’ve earned a chance to earn your membership because we are not just another ham radio club in Denver.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update From the President’s Shack

A few people have noticed that this monthly column is running a bit behind schedule for the month. It is for good intentions. I am a firm believer that in order to truly reflect upon your activities and decisions, you need to step away once in a while in order to better organize your thoughts so as to improve your actions. There is no better way to step away for a bit than to use vacation time to get out of town, turn off work emails and (dare I say), turn off the radio for a bit. As much as we promote amateur radio operators to “get on the air” or “call CQ,” there is a magical process that happens when you walk away from it all for a short period of time.

The PRA is coming off one of its most busiest months in the organization’s history. In the month of June alone, we had at least 15 club activities; from on-the-air nets, face-to-face meeting, Elmer Night, Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s and Field Day. Throw in a couple online meetings to the mix and it is obvious that the month of June was a record pace for the PRA. Speaking of records, we set a much higher bar for future Field Day operations – more of that to follow. In the midst of all this activity, coupled with employer obligations, family obligations, graduation parties, feeling overwhelmed or overbooked was staring me in the face. I knew that if I got to the 4th of July, I would take full advantage of the vacation I had scheduled.

The PRA is in its best shape ever. We have a dedicated leadership team that lives and acts on the organization’s mission; we have an engaged, participatory and excited group of members that are not only eager to participate, but do so willingly. In particular, every month I am blown away at the level of enthusiasm at our monthly Elmer Nights. Experienced operators helping new or potential operators, offering words of encouragement, giving different perspectives or techniques. Even experienced hams getting taught new modes or methods of operating. If you have not attended a PRA Elmer Night, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Speaking of leadership, this year is a PRA election year. All positions are open for nomination and election; what is most refreshing about this is that the entire PRA Board wants new perspectives and is encouraging members to serve in some capacity. If a leadership position seems too steep, offer your help in one of our committees like website, repeater, Scouts, or Field Day, to name a few. When the PRA was founded, we committed that this organization belonged to the membership, not the leadership. This is your amateur radio organization. Nominations will take place at our September meeting and elections in October.

Of our most recent PRA activity, ARRL Field Day, we demonstrated that amateur radio prevails in all types of conditions. We experienced 70 degree weather, rain, thunder/lightening, hail, plummeting temperatures, and even a couple of snow flurries. Through expert planning and execution of the entire Field Day committee, lead by Brent – KB4SMK, not only did we overcome the elements, but the PRA set an all-time new record for the organization. We had a total of 1,032 contacts which is over 35% higher than we had the previous year. Our point total 3,768, driven by not only the QSO totals, but bonus points. Even with the less than ideal weather conditions, we had 30 PRA members and guests participate in a fun filled Field Day weekend that proved that amateur radio is a fail-safe way to communicate.

In my time away the past two weeks from amateur radio, I came to realize in the last days of vacation that I missed it. Taking time to step away gained me a greater appreciate for the hobby, cleared my cluttered mind, and has re-energized me to learn more about the hobby, promote it better, and develop new ways to continue to giveback to a service that has given me so much. That time away was indeed magical and long overdue, but there is nothing more magical than getting back on the air again, when you have been away, and making that first contact again.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

As we head into the month of June, it is easy to focus on all of the activities of the summer. From graduation celebrations to family vacation time, gardening, lawn mowing and general fix-ups of our homes; June is a very busy time. The same holds true with the PRA for the month. As an organization of amateur radio enthusiasts, we are looking not only at one of the busiest months of the year for activities, but one of the most fun.

Any given month produces at least 10 opportunities to participate with the PRA. Each week, we have three on-the-air nets, unless bumped by one of our face-to-face meetings (Monthly Meeting or Elmer Night). On top of these activities in June, the PRA is participating in Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s (P4P) and the ARRL Field Day. Both P4P and Field Day capture the skills, professionalism, knowledge, and passion that our members have. In the P4P Event, a group of over 20 PRA members will provide communications over 60-miles of courses throughout Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. We have operators that will be assisting at each Aid Station to support the timely and accurate communication of needs for those we serve. We will also have operators with experience in bicycle repair that will be serving dual roles in fixing and providing communications! As we have been told by the event coordinators, “we will never do this without the PRA.” We made quite an impression in our first year and it is obvious that there is nothing amateur about amateur radio.

One of the most highly anticipated events for the PRA is participating in the annual ARRL Field Day. Over the course of 24-hours, we will set up a series of radios with a focus of making as many contacts as possible with other participating stations around the world in less than ideal conditions. Even though our focus is making contacts, our purpose is to teach, learn, laugh, and get on the air. I can remember my first Field Day almost 30-years ago and I vividly remember having a fair amount of mic-fright. After some one-on-one coaching, encouragement, and a few Elmers showing me the ropes, I conquered my fear because of the support and encouragement that I received from people I only met a few hours earlier. Support, encouragement, and mentoring; great operators always focus on that in demonstrating amateur radio. With nearly 60% of the PRA membership taking a trip to the hills for Field Day, our only fear is running out of food. Considering the preparation involved, we know that will not happen.

Whether amateur radio is providing a service or demonstrating the magic of the hobby in two-way wireless communications, one thing is for sure; it takes a balance of support, encouragement, mentoring, learning, teaching, and laughter to make it successful and fun. At the PRA, we remain focused on our core beliefs of “playing radio, having fun, and keeping the squelch loose.” May you have a safe, fun, and memorable June.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

The month of May, especially in Colorado, provides glimpses of spring time and some reminders of how Old Man Winter likes to remind us that an 80 degree today does not discount snowfall tomorrow. When listening and participating in repeater rag-chews and nets, it is so refreshing to hear so many fellow operators talk about how they are gearing-up for spring time. Whether it is installing a new antenna, changing out coax, or re-configuring their camping or Go-Kit, this time of year brings out the vision, strategy, and execution not only in our own shack, but in the PRA, and amateur radio as well. If you have not noticed, the PRA has been gearing up for a lot of activities and events outside of our monthly meetings and nets.

In looking forward to the activities of the coming months, it is important to understand some of the milestones that got us here in the first four months of 2019. One of the biggest accomplishments has been the redevelopment, release, and management of our improved website. This is a testament to the talents and expertise of our membership. I especially want to thank Jeff, N0KAI, for the hours, days, weeks, and months he has put into the our website. It now offers members full control over their updates of callsign, email address, and methods of preferred contact. Membership has its privileges and with membership comes login credentials that gives members exclusive access to areas such as forums. The development of this site was not a top-down drive or mandate; these suggestions came from our members and this is a perfect example of how the PRA belongs to its members.

Looking ahead, the PRA has many activities coming up through May and June. Aside from our monthly face-to-face meetings and Elmer Nights, there are several ways you can exercise your amateur radio privileges. On June 8th, we will be supporting the Pedaling 4 Parkinson’s cycling event where we provide communications for nearly 200 riders over a 60-mile course spanning Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. This low pressure event is a great way to not only see, but participate and demonstrate the reliability of our amateur radio network. If we learned anything from our conversations with the staff from P4P, they will admit that “cell phones just do not cut it.” Want to help out, sign-ups are still underway at parkerradio.org/p4p.

One of the main events for the PRA each year is Field Day. On June 22nd and 23rd, over 30 members of the PRA test their skills and preparedness in setting up stations in less than ideal conditions. To me, the beauty of the Colorado Mountains is ideal, but setting up with the lack of luxuries such as commercial power gives us a challenge. It is really fascinating to see the planning and execution by our Field Day committee and how the PRA comes together to not only rack up a lot of contacts, but my measure of success is how often I hear people laugh and have fun. If you have never experienced a PRA Field Day, give yourself that opportunity, even if it for a few hours. You’ll get on the air, make a ton of contacts, learn something, teach something, and have fun. More details about Field Day can be found on our website.

For what is ahead this year, remember that officer elections are coming up. If you ever wanted to be a part of the Leadership Team of the PRA, this year is your opportunity. All positions are open for nomination and election for a two-year term. If you are interested in a particular position, let us know! We want to not only encourage your participation, but give you keen insight into each position and the duties that come in serving your fellow members.

Of all things that matter in the PRA, we continue to hold true to our core belief to Play Radio, Have Fun, and Keep The Squelch Loose. See you on the air.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack 

Those that know me well enough know that I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines. Southwest’s Founder, Herb Kelleher, recently passed away, leaving a tremendous legacy and has forever paved the way for the future of air travel. One of the many traits that Mr. Kelleher had was to always put people first, and keep things simple. When asked about Southwest’s strategy for success, Herb Kelleher said perfectly, “We have a strategic plan-it’s called doing things.” If there is a quote that we can focus the PRA efforts, it would be this one.

Over the last several months, the PRA been very strategic in doing lots of things. It has held its standard face-to-face meetings; which has grown to solid turnouts of over 40 people monthly. One additional meeting that we added routinely is Elmer Night. The purpose of Elmer Night is to give potential or new amateur radio operators a setting where they feel welcomed and supported. Also, we have an environment where any and all questions are welcomed and answered. Elmer Night has also exploded in popularity with a record turn out in March with 42 potential, new and veteran hams learning about D-Star, DMR, Fusion, and HF Digital.

Going into the balance of the year, the PRA will fulfill its Mission by participating in community events including Scouts Events, Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s, ARRL Field Day, and many more! If monthly meetings are not of interest to you, that is OK, too; our community events incorporate the service and hobby we enjoy by putting people first. From day one, I believe that the PRA has gotten it right with the philosophy of putting people first. No matter what area of interest you have in amateur radio, we have created a welcoming environment for all amateur radio enthusiasts that allows for the freedom to be themselves and offer their talents and knowledge to fellow operators and the community as a whole.

As the first three months of 2019 is behind us, may we continue to stay focused on our strategic plans, as Herb Kelleher said perfectly, “We have a strategic plan-it’s called doing things.” To add to that, may we also continue to “Play Radio, Have Fun, and Keep The Squelch Loose.”

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

In the February 2019 QST Magazine, new ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, posed a couple very interesting questions; “Is your passion for Amateur Radio primarily about communications, or about technology? Do you consider Amateur Radio a hobby, or a service?” Both questions got me thinking about the ways that the Parker Radio Association fits into both of these questions. As Howard Michel details, “most people do not fall to the extremes.” I believe that is what makes our organization so unique is that we do not focus on one set agenda or focus. The PRA is a multifaceted organization that, as our Mission Statement details, “will continue to promote a culture that gives opportunities for amateur radio enthusiasts to socialize, learn, exchange ideas, and contribute to the enjoyment of our hobby.”

Since the New Year, the PRA has held five (5) events; two monthly meetings, two Elmering Nights, and a Repeater Tower raising event. In March alone, we have three events scheduled; our monthly meeting and Elmering Night scheduled, as well as our participation in Ham Radio Outlet Denver Day. The HRO Denver Day gives our organization a unique opportunity to not only promote the Parker Radio Association, but those that volunteer are truly Ambassadors to Amateur Radio as a whole. This also does not take into consideration the one-on-one help sessions that our members do for other radio operators ‘under the radar.’ It is obvious, our organization is anything but the next “typical” amateur radio organization.

In the last few years, it did not take me long to fully appreciate how much I would depend on those around me in order for the PRA to be successful. The PRA, like any successful organization or team sport, takes planning, strategy, listening, and responding. When you walk into your next PRA meeting, take a look at all the activity that goes into just one monthly meeting. Our members and leadership do that about 15+ times per month, with our meetings and on-the-air nets. The only way we have been this successful is that we operate with a keen sense of what Amateur Radio is all about, communication. As good radio operators, we know that we MUST be a good listener because it is a matter of respect, whether on-the-air, at a meeting, or at a public event showcasing Amateur Radio. The bottom line, it is about following the Golden Rule.

If you are new to the PRA, we welcome you. Know that the PRA is here to meet you where you are in your amateur radio journey. Whether that journey involves licensing upgrades, needing a radio programmed, learning morse code, or understanding digital radio networks, the PRA does not fit into one box or a limited focus. We are not about extremes or limiting ourselves to one or two facets of Amateur Radio. We are an organization that is simply passionate about Amateur Radio.


73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

8.5%. That percentage marks how far into 2019 we are. When I think about it as a number, it does not seem like much, but it all depends on your perspective. If I had 8.5% more DX contacts, I would have my illusive DXCC Award (100 country confirmation)…if I studied 8.5% more, I’d work the rust off my CW copying skills…if I saved for another 8.5%, I could have bought a nicer radio; my point in all of this is to not call out the ‘what-if’s,’ but to call out how close we really are in better ourselves and bettering our hobby.

I have been licensed since 1992 and I have had a very blessed life in this hobby. From the countless Elmers that allowed a naturally curious, awkward teenager to ask countless questions helped form me into the operator I am today. It is these encounters that made an impact on me and anytime I have an opportunity to visit with the next generation of ham radio operators, no matter the age, I jump at the chance. Many new hams often ask me for advice on radio selections, programming tips, methods of studying for a test, and antenna selections, to name a few. What’s important to a lot of new hams is that they feel they are being treated with respect (while mutually giving it), feel welcomed, and having fun with the hobby that we have grown to respect and cherish.

At the Parker Radio Association, our focus remains the same from day one; Have Fun, Play Radio, and Keep the Squelch Loose. We also understand that as an organization, it is important to connect people and resources to further enhance individual enjoyment of the hobby, so as to enhance the greater common good of the membership base. Events such as our monthly Elmering Night sparked a great number of ideas, suggestions, and ways that the PRA can continue to better welcome new amateur radio operators, and also spread the kindness and service commitment we have to the community. Through our hobby, we can share our resources, talents, and time to spread this kindness to complete strangers, usually unnoticed and under the radar.

Our membership base ranges from new amateur radio operators to those that are seventy years in the hobby. What amazes me is that no matter how long we have been licensed, we can all learn from one another. Much like the 8.5% mentioned above, it all depends on your perspective and your attitude in the hobby. Changing our perspectives towards the common good of our hobby not only promotes the amateur radio service, but promotes learning and development for the amateur radio population. I cannot help but think that if we all took time out of our lives to spread a bit of amateur radio kindness (net control operator, Volunteer Examiner, Elmer Support, giving a presentation, helping program a radio, joining a committee, etc.) we would all be much happier in the next 8.5% of this year. With that in mind, the future would be even better than the past!

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

Happy New Year!  Any new year brings a level of optimism, hope, and a new set of goals for the coming year. Some of these elements are family related, professionally driven, or in my case, wanting to drop a few pounds and improve my eating and exercising habits.  Sounds like a SOTA activation may be in my future! Maybe you have some ham radio resolutions like learning CW or a new mode, upgrading your license class, or building a new antenna or two.  Whatever your goals are for 2019, I hope you reach them with a vigorous enthusiasm and genuinely happy spirit.

2019 also marks the 5th Anniversary of the PRA.  It seems like yesterday that a group of us huddled in a small conference room at a church in Parker and discussed the feasibility of such a group to form in the south metro area of Denver.  In that two-hour discussion, we had tremendous input from fellow area ham radio operators as well as our local ARRL officials including Jack Ciaccia, WM0G – Section Manager, and Wayne Heinen, N0POH – Affiliated Club Coordinator.  Attached is a picture from that gathering.  From our first meeting, here was our summary:

Twelve exceptional hams, Jay-K0LJW, Don-W0EAY, Scott-WQ8M, Jerry-KD0BIK, Terry-WB3EVZ, Thomas-K0VKM, Bill-W0SUN, Wayne-N0POH (Colorado ARRL Affiliated Club Coordinator, not pictured), Jack-WM0G (Colorado ARRL Section Manager), John-N4SJW, Paul AC5S, and Dan – N2SRK (camera op), met to discuss how the club was formed, preliminary strategies and goals, and methods of developing membership at all levels of the hobby. The enthusiasm in the meeting was contagious and the excitement of pursuing the next steps brought smiles and healthy email exchanges over the last 24 hours.


The key goals identified among the group were:

– have fun
– play radio
– loosen the squelch
– learn something
– teach something

A healthy discussion of repeater opportunities and building, a VE team, membership levels, Field Day, SOTA excursions, and a group Dayton trip were just a few of the topics reviewed. We have a few administrative tasks to push over the goal line regarding incorporating and other status establishment, as well as finalizing our club call and ARRL affiliation approval (all in process). 

One resounding theme about the future of the Parker Radio Association came out of that meeting still holds true today – “Have Fun, Play Radio, and Keep the Squelch Loose.”  We also have adopted a focus to be an amateur radio organization that meets you where you are in your ham radio journey.  From this group of 12, we have grown to almost 90 members.  We believe we have done a few things right in the last five years, but certainly will not discount where we fell short.  In the opportunities where we fell short, we always learned something new as a leadership group, as individuals, and as an organization.  The PRA remains the organization of the membership, not the elected leaders – this is YOUR organization.

As I reflect on the last five years, the PRA has done a lot to serve the community.  First and foremost, we have excellent monthly presentations from our membership. The variety of topics have been amazing and even after 25+ years in the hobby, I always learn something new from these presentations.  Second, we have given back to the community from supporting the Scouts, providing communication to charity events, giving presentations on amateur radio to emergency groups, and pulling off successful Field Day activities.  Third, we have added a solid repeater infrastructure from analog, D-Star, and DMR, with transcoding to Fusion/DMR reflectors and rooms.  Fourth, we have an excellent online presence from our website, Facebook, Twitter feeds, and regular email updates.   The time, talent, resources, efforts and support from the membership is what makes the PRA successful.  No matter what your contribution has been, no effort has been too small, and we appreciate what you bring to the hobby and the PRA.

I am always interested in hearing from our membership on what we are doing right, or what changes we need to make.  Feel free to drop me an email, anytime.  May your New Year be filled with accomplishments, success and learning something new this year about yourself or your amateur radio hobby.  Again, I hope you reach your goals with a vigorous enthusiasm and genuinely happy spirit.

73,

Dan Grady, N2SRK

President