One of the most rewarding aspects I have had in the Parker Radio Association has been serving the membership as President. The role, as well as the opportunity, has helped form me in ways that have helped me personally and professionally. At the same time, I am a firm believer that every good leader surrounds themselves with people much smarter than they are and I have been fortunate that every member of the PRA Board and Committee Chairs in the past eight years has fulfilled that mission of intelligence surrounding. Serving in a leadership position within any organization requires passion, integrity, empathy, and the will to have fun through the process.

This month, the membership will go through the nomination process to identify and select candidates that we have the confidence that can manage the organization, but also lead our group beyond what we can see in the here and now. If you have ever wanted to be a part of the leadership team, this is your opportunity. Over the few weeks, you will see regular emails in our blasts and from Brad, W0BDT, our Election Chairperson. Brad, along with Bill, W0SUN and Alan, AC0F, will overseeing the nomination and election. In these regular updates, a summary of each position is detailed, as you have started to see in the weekly email blasts. The best part of the PRA, if you want to know more about a particular position, all you have to do is ask the current holder. As you have hopefully experienced, we are a very transparent organization and we promote learning, teaching, and leadership in the amateur radio service.

Maybe you are not quite ready for a Board position; that is absolutely understandable. However, maybe you have a passion for one of the PRA committees like the Repeater Committee or Elmer Committee. The Committee Chairs not only work closely with the PRA Board, but it is in these committees where the magic happens and “stuff” gets done. The PRA Board is not in place to make all the decisions; the Board is in place to guide and guard the organization. If decisions were made only from the top, we certainly would not have as much fun as we have the last eight years. At the same time, we would never have accomplished what we have done in a relatively short period of time. If you have a passion and interest in leading a PRA Committee going into 2022, let it be known!

The State of the PRA is strong and it is strong because of the amazing members that are passionate in giving of their time, talent and treasures. Going into nomination and election season, take stock in the importance of this process and if you are giving consideration for a position on the Board or Committee, make it known so that you are given all the encouragement and support possible. During this time, may we all embrace the passion, integrity, empathy and will to serve our membership happily, with a spirit of fun, and simply do the right things for our organization.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

It is truly an exciting time to be a member of the Parker Radio Association. At each meeting, whether it is on-the-air or in-person, I am blown away with the spirit of fun and laughter that is coupled with giving spirit. At the core of the PRA is a culture and spirit of giving. It is through our spirit of giving that we put into action our time, talent and treasures to promote, share and encourage the amateur radio service to others.

Giving comes in so many different ways. Obviously, financial giving supports the organization and funds committee projects, club assets (like loaner equipment) and other PRA initiatives such as community work. Financial support is important in any organization and the PRA leadership takes that stewardship seriously in the use of our funds.

Another way of giving is participating in weekly nets. Yes, that simple act of checking in on a net and giving comments can spark revolutionary ideas for a fellow amateur radio operator. Recently, I have been bitten by the AllStar bug and I am looking forward to building my own AllStar node/hotspot and maybe even a repeater. This idea came through a few fellow PRA members comments on a net about AllStar. If it were not for those simple comments of “here is what I am working on in my shack…” I would have never given AllStar a glance.

Two monthly events, our in-person meetings and Elmer Night, give all PRA members opportunities to give back. At our in-person meetings, we experience a passionate member give a presentation on a topic pertinent to amateur radio. Also, with the influx of new members, it is great to see how we act as ambassadors to the service by welcoming our visitors and guests as if we have known them forever. Elmer Night is an amazing evening filled with no agenda other than, bring your questions, your talents, and resources. We thrive on learning and the promotion of learning in the amateur radio service because ham radio is a buffet; there is so much to choose from that sometimes it is hard to find a good place to start. That is where Elmer Night comes in for new, returning, or seasoned operators.

Another example of giving is by participating in a committee or seeking a Leadership/Board position in the PRA. With well over 230 members, the talent that we have, collectively, is astounding. You will not have to look hard, as I do every week, and find people that are smarter than us. Our committee are filled with smart, talented and amazing people; at the core, every committee needs help and support. As an example, if you do not know anything about repeaters, joining the Repeater Committee is a great place to learn and jump in with friendly, welcoming experts that will guide and teach you. From a Board standpoint, every two years, the PRA nominates a new Board and this upcoming Fall is our election year. To support the organization and its growth, fresh ideas and perspectives are healthy to have.

I know that I could go on and on about how the PRA members, collectively, drive what may be seen as simple into amazing outcomes. The spirit of giving is strong within the PRA and I love seeing this spirit that is supported by fun and laughter along the way. Putting our time, talent and treasures to use in promoting, sharing and encouraging the amateur radio service is what the PRA does best, daily.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

With a couple blinks of the eye, we sit in the second half of 2021. Over the last couple of months, society has started to get back to the days of old where social gatherings have replaced social distancing. The same holds true for the PRA. We are back to full face-to-face meetings and as you read this, we are coming off another amazing ARRL Field Day. As we come prepared and ready for the second half of 2021, it is also good to reflect on the accomplishments that have carried us this far. Whether it is as a group or individual accomplishments, knowing what got you this far can springboard amazing possibilities in a very short period of time.

No doubt, the past 18-months has been filled with uncertainty and at times, stress. Uncertainty and stress can easily lead to negativity. What is absolutely certain is that negativity works 100% of the time. I know that for me, I’ve caught myself in the negativity trap more times than I care to admit over the last 18-months. Stress is handled differently, by each of us. What is amazing is how dynamic a stressful environment can be; remaining cool under pressure can be seen as an asset, or your unshaken nature could also be mistaken as a lack of interest. One way the PRA has strived to counter this is by overcommunicating. We have also learned the importance of putting our thoughts (and ourselves) in neutral so that we can control our mindset, which remains key on on how we respond to pressure. Ultimately, we have control over how we respond to others.

For the second half of 2021, it would be naïve to discount challenges ahead. We will face these challenges and together; the PRA is filled with amazing people that are selfless in giving away their time, talent and treasures freely in daily, weekly, monthly and annual occurrences. If you have not had the opportunity to take one net this year, you have the entire second half of 2021 to do so! (Hint, Hint). That is one simple way to selflessly give away your time, talent and treasure so that others can learn from your ability and willingness to serve. Selflessly giving away our time, talent and treasures builds a great culture with great people, which is what amateur radio, and the PRA, is all about demonstrating. As we come into the second half of 2021, may we bask in our accomplishments that have carried us this far in that knowing what got us to this point will springboard amazing possibilities and results going forward.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

For about 30 years, Field Day has been a special part of my last full weekend in June. In fact, ever since my very first Field Day back in 1991, I still get excited about the opportunity to work with fellow passionate radio aficionados. What sits at the forefront of that excitement is remembering what it was like being the “newbie” at Field Day. Expensive radios, fast-paced contacts, handwritten logs (remember those?), coax, power supplies, antennas…it can be overwhelming for the first time participant. Showcasing Field Day comes down to using our time, talent and treasures to not only teach, but impact the generation of amateur radio operators.

A golden opportunity exists every June to reach out not only to newcomers, but also fellow amateur radio operators that may have been off the air for some time. There is something special about getting that phone call, email, or text message that says, “haven’t heard you on the air in a while, any plans for Field Day? Come join us!” People naturally want to be part of a community and in the amateur radio service, there are very few groups that can demonstrate community quite like we can. From the technology, conversations and the setting, one element is always a big focus for Field Day and that is the food. Have you ever left Field Day hungry?

Not only is operating radios and the various different modes fun, but it challenges us to get out of our comfort zone a bit and learn something new, so long as we’re willing. My CW skills need a lot WD40 to get the rust off. However, the willingness is there to jump in, give it a try, and see how it goes. I remember the first Field Day I worked in Southern New Jersey and a fellow ham invited me to work the 20M voice station. At 13 years old, I sat at the radio, and holding the mic, my hand was shaking. The Elmer working with me said, “are you ok?” to which I replied, “I don’t want to screw anything up.” Assuredly, my Elmer told me, “you won’t screw anything up, I promise…we’re working on this together, at your speed.” That simple statement embodied everything I needed to know about Field Day and surrounding yourself with the right people. This Elmer was providing me his time and talent so that I could walk away with the treasure of a passion in amateur radio.

Here’s to another successful Field Day where the contacts are plentiful, SWRs are low, the food is satisfying, learning is easy and accessible, and ultimately fun! Through all of this, may we focus on giving away our time, talent and treasures so that the magic of radio has the opportunity to be carried on actively.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

We have spent over a year following suggestions, guidelines, and doing our own individual parts in staying healthy. This year, most have been through, or are going through, the process in obtaining a vaccination. As daylight is ahead on this, it is a great time to reflect on what we did as a group, and what lies ahead in our face-to-face meetings, activities, and immersing ourselves back into the fellowship which is amateur radio.

At the start of all of this, the PRA leadership felt it was important to continue monthly meetings, albeit, virtually. At the onset of this, we knew we had good experience in using tools like Google Meets, Zoom, and the like. However, one bright idea surfaced; “how do we get this on YouTube Live and make this available for those that cannot make the online meeting?” In the spirit of amateur radio, we went after the suggestion enthusiastically, figuring it all out along the way; in some of our first online meetings, we were figuring out on the fly. The best part of all the awkwardness and screw-ups was that we learned along the way. We quickly learned who our subject matter experts were and we properly leveraged their time, talents and treasures. Looking back, I am so thankful to those that helped us, even in the smallest way, to keep meetings fresh, relevant, and full of great information.

Starting in May, we are able to get back to our monthly face-to-face meetings. Obviously, we will follow all mandates on mask-wearing requirements at our host. Similar to when we moved to an online format, we will have some time to readjust back to an old familiar format. This will be the first time the membership will have the chance to be back together since last January. What better way to kickoff our first face-to-face meeting in over a year than to discuss and prepare for Field Day 2021! If you have never been part of Field Day, or maybe have not participated in a Parker Radio Association Field Day, you are in for an amazing couple days of fun, learning, fellowship and amazing food. We take full advantage of choosing a location that has zero commercial power and we rely on the resources of each other to set up three operating stations and make thousands of contacts. The best part of Field Day is getting new hams, or soon to be hams, on the air. Watching someone make their first contacts is something special and we celebrate each and every first contact.

Also coming up in June is our support of the Pedaling-4-Parkinson’s bicycle event. This is another way that we give back to the community through a non-profit fundraiser that supports research for Parkinson’s Disease. Again, as a team, we assemble and utilize our time, talent and treasures for a few hours to help cyclists navigate a 10-mile and 30-mile course safely and with the reassurance that communication is there, when needed. This low-pressure event is a fun way to get outside, give back, and truly put our resources to work for common good. More information will be coming out by May 10th, so stay tuned!

As we are ready to break loose and get back to face-to-face gatherings, this is our opportunity to truly showcase our time, talent and treasures as amateur radio operators. Make no mistake, amateur radio is anything but amateur. As we come close to the half way point of 2021, it is an exciting time for the PRA, its members, and amateur radio. Here we go!

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

If you are new to amateur radio, you may be wondering what all the excitement is about solar cycles? At the upper levels of the atmosphere is the ionosphere, which is an electrically charged region that bends radio signals and sends them to far-off destinations on Earth. With utmost thanks to the ionosphere, we can launch our signals with confidence that we can be heard hundreds or thousands of miles away. If we did not have the ionosphere, I, for one, would not have much fun on HF.

What makes the ionosphere come alive, or go dormant, is electron density. Electron density can fluctuate based on solar activity. When solar activity increases, the ionosphere becomes a huge party of electrons and radio signals bend with ease back to earth. At the same rate, when solar activity decreases, the party is over…electrons become less dense, and thus, less able to bend our amazing signals. This makes DX contacts challenging, to say the least. It even makes QRP operation even more challenging.

As Cycle 25 is upon us, and if you are a Technician, you are going to get an amazing taste of DX operation, particularly on 10-meters. Not only are you working on your General upgrade, but now would be a good time to acquire or borrow a radio and antenna that has 10-meter capability. At the peak of the solar cycle, which will be another few years out, you will experience a lot of activity on SSB voice. With the evolution of digital modes, like FT8, digital communications will also be abundantly available both regionally, nationally, and internationally.

If you happen to be a QRP aficionado, your patient waiting will be coming with great reward with the improved conditions to come. QRP operating has become popular because of the simplicity of the radios and they are relatively easy to transport. We are fortunate in Colorado with beautiful mountains and amazing parks where a portable operation can be set up easily with a battery powered radio and simple wire antenna. Between Parks on the Air (POTA) and Summits on the Air (SOTA), there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with ham radio, a new solar cycle, and improved conditions.

With the new solar cycle upon us, now is the time to really dial in the time, talents, and treasures. If you are new to amateur radio, your timing is perfect. With the PRA, we have a great Elmer Team and over 200 members that have all been exactly where you are today. If you have the willingness to learn, we promise to put our resources into your hands. Even as a new ham, you already have all three elements of time, talent and treasure. At each of our Elmer events (whether face-to-face or online) as well as the portable operations deployments, I am amazed at how much I learn at these events. It can be as simple as learning how to best launch an antenna into a tree. My favorite is still my antenna rock. If you are an experienced operator, when was the last time you put your time, talent and treasures back into the amateur radio service? Maybe you noticed a new callsign on the repeater? Did you say “hello?” and introduce yourself? Maybe you heard of a new ham looking for advice on their first radio or antenna and how to set it up?

The three elements of time, talent and treasures all play a part in the success of the PRA and the ongoing success of the amateur radio service. By offering time and showcasing our talents, we can teach others to find their treasures. With the new solar cycle here, contacts on HF are soon to be abundant and we all want to ensure the legacy of the next generation of operators are primed to succeed with the time, talent and treasures they can pass on for decades to come. With the weather breaking, it is time to get on the air! Try a new location like a park or local picnic bench. You never know who you may be able to give the amateur radio service an introduction. See you on the air!

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

Back in the 1980’s, American Express rolled out the marketing campaign and slogan “Membership has its privileges.” Not only do I have the honor of serving PRA as President, but I have the honor of serving ARRL members throughout the Rocky Mountain Division of the ARRL as Vice Director. Membership in the ARRL goes way beyond a monthly magazine. Knowing what your ARRL membership has and leveraging it will not only bring a whole new level of enjoyment of the amateur radio service to you, but it can also save you a boat load of money.

Since the inception of the Parker Radio Association, we have been committed to being an Affiliated Club with the ARRL.

At the forefront of ARRL Membership is QST Magazine. QST is the monthly membership journal of ARRL and is an amazing source for equipment reviews, technical tips, projects, and news. If you joined the ARRL recently, you also have electronic access to all QST publications since 1915! In having gone through a few issues from the 20’s and 30’s, I am fascinated by how many discussion on operating are still current today!

For new hams or those coming back into amateur radio, a new publication called On The Air is the ARRL’s newest publication. Each issue will introduces topics that will help you get more experience in the areas of equipment and modes, basic project building, operating tips and emergency communications. Articles are written in a very non-technical format and really paint a perfect picture of these elements in the amateur radio service.

From a learning aspect, the ARRL introduced the ARRL Learning Network. Members have access to live and recorded webinar series with presentations from member-volunteers who want to help you become more active, involved, and engaged in ham radio. Presentations are short; typically 30-minutes, with a 15-minute Q&A opportunity. A few upcoming examples are webinars on Life Beyond Repeaters, The Art and Science of Operating Ultra-Portable, and Finding & Fixing RFI. As a member of the ARRL, you have complete access to these resources.

Regarding my comment on saving a boat load of money, another amazing resource is an insurance program to cover all your amateur radio and related equipment…even computers. Only a $50 deductible applies and at a great rate of only $1.40 per $100 of equipment covered, this is a great way to not only cover your investments in equipment, but protect you in the inevitable event of a lightening strike, power surge, and even theft. Enrollment takes only a few minutes and you are automatically rated and coverage is in place.

The above are simply a few of the more recent and somewhat unknown privileges that ARRL members have available. Let’s not forget some of the other benefits including Outgoing QSL service, sponsored contests, operating awards, ARES training, hamfest and conventions, and VE Testing. One critical membership benefit is the ARRL efforts in supporting legislation in Washington, DC. The ARRL is committed to protecting access to frequencies assigned to amateur radio and as a member, you contribute to the efforts in preserving and protecting our privileges.

As a member of the PRA, and the ARRL, I highly encourage you to join the ARRL. Knowing what your membership entails opens up an entire buffet of opportunities to enhance your amateur radio journey. If you have any questions about the ARRL or its membership, drop me a note. If you are an ARRL member, thank you for being a member.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

For seven years, the PRA has been connecting people to what is important in their amateur radio journey. Simply put, we do it through friendly interactions and encouragement that builds relationships, provides training and education, while meeting the needs of the membership. These core principles fuel our passion for the service and our desire to make the amateur radio community better each day.

Outside of the organization’s leadership, a servant mindset is rooted in our committees and each member. The PRA has taken a very holistic approach and it starts with a culture that allows our membership the freedom to be themselves, which in turn, has made the PRA a family – as of this writing, we are a 209 member family and growing! Those that have been around the PRA for a while, and even those that are relatively new to the PRA, have a core value of living by the Golden Rule – treat others as you expect to be treated.

We have a deep sense of responsibility for growing amateur radio understanding and participation for future generations. Our spirit of service, coupled with a buffet of opportunities and activities, even during pandemic times, have sparked interest deep into many PRA households. Through our monthly programs and partnerships, we continue to work promoting not only the resilience of the amateur radio service, but our social impact where we live, play, and work. Whether it is on the air, on a virtual meeting, or a small group activity, the community of and spirit of building relationships is what brings us together.

We are not just an organization of ham radio operators. We are an organization of PEOPLE. People that are skilled in radio communication, resourcefulness, and versatility with a passion on building relationships, providing training and education, while meeting the needs of the membership. These core principles fuel our passion for the service and our desire to make the amateur radio community better each day.

N2SRK with Gordon West, WB6NOA at Hamvention 2018.

Elmer – [ EL-mer ] – Noun, someone who provides personal guidance and assistance to new and would-be amateur radio operators.

If there is anyone in amateur radio history that can get people excited about the ham radio service, it is Gordon West, WB6NOA. I have been fortunate to meet Gordon a few times. First time was in 1992, when I was first licensed. I met him in Valley Forge, PA, at an ARRL Convention. Up until that point, I only knew of Gordon through his ham radio study books. Today, you can really feel and experience Gordon’s enthusiasm towards amateur radio in his participation in the weekly Ham Nation series on YouTube. Through those books, Gordon was able to bring ham radio to life through easy reading and common language that allowed me to understand and put these newly learned principals into practice. Books and study guides are only half of the Elmer equation. As amateur radio operators, we are called to Elmer the next generation of operators, new licensees, and soon-to-be hams. Having a go-to person(s) that take you under their wings in the first formative steps in your amateur radio journey is invaluable.

Elmers, too, also need to be humble enough to learn new aspects of the amateur radio service. Growing up in Southern New Jersey, I was fortunate to have great Elmers that answered the most basic of questions I had, even when I felt embarrassed to ask those easy questions. Elmers serve an important role in that they guide us each an every stage of what may seem overwhelming, bewildering or mysterious. Elmers make it look easy, but what makes a great Elmer is that they, too, know the hard and bumpy road each of us traveled in passing our exam, learning morse code, or understanding a repeater CTCSS tone. Through this knowledge exists the understanding, as a seasoned Elmer, that learning never stops. Great Elmers also know that they, too, must learn new modes and incorporate what excites our new amateur radio operators and show the overlap. The Makers and Hacker movements are simply a couple of arenas that have amazing overlap into amateur radio. We simply need to show and demonstrate amateur radio’s capabilities in those arenas.

As the New Year is upon us, maybe you are thinking about your ham radio resolutions for the year. Although accomplishments of DXCC (Confirming 100 countries) or WAS (Worked All States) are good to set, have you ever considered the impact you have as an Elmer? There is something amazing when you elmer someone and the “AH-HA” moment hits. Maybe you have a great way to study for the FCC exam or know great resources; or maybe you have a knack for teaching Morse Code? How about programming radios or teaching and showing the key components in a repeater? Maybe you discovered a way to design and purchase QSL cards online that are inexpensive and easy to navigate? No matter your skill level or experience, offering a hand, support and encouragement is likely all new and prospective amateur radio operators need and you can play a vital role in a positive impact as an Elmer. Having a go-to person(s) that take you under their wings in the first formative steps in your amateur radio journey remains invaluable and my hope for you in 2021 is for you to answer that call and continually welcome in our newest amateur radio operators.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association

As you read this, we are nearly 100% through the year 2020. At the start of this year, I wrote about my Ham Radio Resolutions for 2020 – become more proficient in CW, finish DXCC, and maintaining focus on “Keeping the Squelch Loose.” As Meatloaf reminds me, “two out of three ain’t bad.” Most important to me the past year, for the PRA, has been the evolution of our committees and the enthusiasm, energy and excitement that the Chairs/Co-Chairs and overall membership have brought to the PRA. When people ask about the future of the amateur radio service and how to attract more people to ham radio, we simply cannot describe ham radio, we have to show it, demonstrate it, while allowing people to get a flavor of the service. That time time is now.

Hitting the 200 member mark was not part of an overall plan or strategy, it simply happened. Last month, we talked about the snowball effect of our membership gain and the contributing factors that led to such an explosive growth. As an organization, not only did we tap the talents of our members, but we exhausted resources with online platforms to do much more than a monthly meeting. We brought content, hands-on demonstrations, and plenty of Q&A to promote the learning experience. The best part of leveraging this technology and online platforms is that we created an excellent reference library as a go-to that showcases all the possibilities that amateur radio can provide. Not everyone has a ham radio, but nearly everyone has YouTube application at their fingertips or in their pocket. The Parker Radio Association YouTube Channel is filling with great topics of learning. If you have not subscribed and LIKED our videos, please do so as it helps open up additional resources within YouTube for us. If you have a topic that you would like to present, let us know!

There is no doubt that change is necessary for any organization or entity to survive. One of my favorite books, “Who Moved My Cheese?” tells the story of two mice and their ability/inability to embrace change or remain cemented in their ways. This very much tells the story of the amateur radio service. Our service is rich in history and tradition, which is a good thing, at times, because it acts as the cornerstone to the structure. At the same time, too, amateur radio undoubtedly faces some needed attention to its promotion in the “here and now” society we live.

As amateur radio operators and ambassadors to the service, how do we best promote amateur radio? I firmly believe that although ham radio can be briefly described, it has to be shown or demonstrated in such a way that we do not show to be 20 or 30 years behind the rest of the world from a technological standpoint. Like Apple does every year with their iPhone release, we have to cannibalize our own product. Not to the point of death or destruction, but in such a way that we can showcase our ever evolving technology.

This past year, I purchased a FlexRadio and as many of you know, I was anxiously nervous in purchasing a radio with zero knobs or numerous buttons. However, when non-hams ask me what I like to do for fun, one of the first things I mention is that I am a licensed amateur radio operator. Most people ask if I have a big tower and giant antenna at my house. When I describe the basic set up of a well hidden wire antenna, I leverage technology; I pull out my iPhone, pull up my FlexRadio SDR app and tell them that this is a live look and listen to the radio at my house, what it is hearing and the countries on the air. Here is where I get serious bites on the hook while demonstrating through my iPhone…I will ask, “hey, you want to talk to this other station?” Usually my question is met with “Really? I can do that?” Sometimes the skeptics laugh and say, “yeah, right, you can’t do that.” When that demonstration happens, jaws drop open and people say, “I never knew ham radio was like that today!” From there, I typically learn that some people had a scanner, or a family member that listened to shortwave radio. I even found a co-worker that liked to experiment with RaspberryPi building and SDR receivers. Talk about a golden opportunity to embrace the hackers among us! Speaking of embracing, the PRA will continue to embrace and welcome everyone. We do not need to do anything special; we simply need to leverage technology that people are familiar with and demonstrated in the Here and Now.

The bottom line is this, if you are waiting for something to magically get amateur radio promoted in our next generation of ham radio operators, you are missing a great opportunity. The time is now to act in demonstrating what we can do as operators. At the same time, too, we have to be open to new ideas, suggestions, and embracing the overlaps of other Makers or Hackers and their technology with amateur radio. Even though we hold tightly to the roots of amateur radio, we must embrace the only constant; change. The time is now.

May your stockings be filled with plenty of DX and your New Year be free of high SWR.

73,
Dan – N2SRK
President
Parker Radio Association