A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

The 2019 year is entering its final days. As we roll off of Thanksgiving, we’re immediately faced with the Christmas rush of retailers pushing all kinds of deals, can’t miss opportunities, and some very persuasive marketing tactics. As we reflect back on 2019, the PRA had some amazing accomplishments throughout the year and has set itself up for amazing opportunities going into 2020. With the new year comes new opportunities, but we can never discount what got us to where we are today.

One of the key activities of the PRA each month is our Elmer Night. If your interest in amateur radio has only recently developed or if you’re a veteran operator trying something new in the hobby, you already know by now that there are hundreds of brands of equipment from which to choose. Some of these choices are costly, some not too costly. This is where Elmer Night shines; you are surrounded by experienced operators that simply want to help you – the goal is to shorten the learning curve of whatever you want to accomplish, so that you can enjoy the hobby even more, quickly. It is the perfect environment that is not intimidating, where you can ask any and all questions. You’re respected following the Golden Rule – treat others as you expect to be treated.

Along the same lines, the American Radio Relay League, ARRL, has taken this concept of Elmering and introduced a new magazine which will roll out in January called On the Air. What is really exciting is that this is the first new magazine from the ARRL in nearly 30 years; obviously, there is a significant amount of time, effort and energy that goes into such a publication – bottom line, the ARRL realizes that beginner to intermediate amateur radio operators are not only the most untapped, but also the most important group to embrace. Hats off the ARRL for generating this new publication and making it available to all ARRL members – yet another benefit to join the ARRL.

For the PRA, 2019 was a busy year, beyond Elmer Nights and monthly meetings – we installed a series of repeaters, both digital and analog, to support reliable communications throughout the area. We also learned a tremendous amount about ARRL activities, QRP operating, SOTA activations, National Traffic Systems, and supported community events such as Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s and the Scouts Jamboree On The Air. Not only did we hit our 100th member in 2019, but we are quickly approaching the 150 member mark. Although the numbers are impressive, what matters is the focus on the PRA’s Mission – “To Play Radio, Have Fun, and Keep the Squelch Loose.”

To ensure the success of your amateur radio organization, I highly encourage you to participate in an existing committee such as Net Control Operator, repeater committee, Website, PRA Gear, Elmer Night…or form your own committee! The committees will always focus on the PRA Mission and the bottom line is to support the growth, enthusiasm and promotion of amateur radio. I also want to thank those that have lead our committees this past year and I also want to thank the record number of members that participated in our Leadership Elections; this is a testament to the health of the PRA.

As we head rapidly towards the conclusion of 2019, thank you for your trust, support, and participation in the PRA. If 2019 is any indication of what the future is for the organization, the Parker Radio Association is poised and positioned for continue success because of its members. With the new year comes new opportunities, but we can never discount what got us to where we are today.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

A Monthly Update from the President’s Shack

“It is truly amazing to find a group who is so friendly and welcoming of new hams in a hobby where so many groups are dominated by ego and showing how smart the individuals are.”

Over the last few months, the PRA has had another surge of membership. As of this writing, we are a 115 member organization and continuing to grow. I have often wondered what makes the PRA attractive to amateur radio enthusiasts (other than our good looks). There are two “non-negotiables” that we have embraced since our first day; be welcoming and keep the squelch loose. Those two elements are our foundation and go-to not only when welcoming visitors or potential new members, but when the leadership team is making decisions for the organization. By knowing what works, by taking risks and accepting some short-comings, we cannot fail.

In the last couple of weeks, I received a beautiful handwritten letter (a lost art) from one of our members. His words were just what I needed to boost up my psyche for my role and for the responsibility that I embrace for the PRA. In particular, one sentence in the letter struck me, “It is truly amazing to find a group who is so friendly and welcoming of new hams in a hobby where so many groups are dominated by ego and showing how smart the individuals are.” The timing of this letter could not have been better; the words could not have been selected better. Everything about this one line embodies who we are as an organization and helps guide our decision making process, while answering an important question, “why are we doing this in the first place?”

A few short weeks ago, we had our PRA elections for officer positions. I would like to congratulate our new officers:

Vice President – Patrick, AI8C

Secretary – Elizabeth, N1RDH

Treasurer – Justin, AE2L

Chief Technology Officer – Ray, N0KEG

Directors At Large – Wayne, N0AD and John, N4SJW

I also want to thank all of those that took the brave step, threw their hat into the ring, and ran for a leadership position. This was the first year in our existence that we had so many people run for the election positions. That screams of success and health of the organization. Also, with the number of committees we have formed, there is no better way to add your touch into the success of the PRA by joining, participating or leading one of our committees. Committees drive the current and future of the PRA, and your input, ideas and suggestions are needed.

As we round third and head for home to round out the 2019 year, we celebrate our accomplishments by reflecting on the countless hours giving back to the community, how we have showcased the wonder of technology and how we have built a great amateur radio organization. May we always 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

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