Take a break from radio…

…or play radio outdoors !


Amateur radio is a fun hobby!  It is amazing to receive a Slow-Scan Television (SSTV) image from the International Space Station, or realize the FT8 digital contact you just completed put a new state or grid square in your logbook.


But sometimes you just need to take a break, or play elsewhere.  Fall is a beautiful time of the year.  Whether it’s wandering off to Leidigh Park to sit by the creek and fish, watch birds, or photograph trains as they cross the nearly 100 year old railroad bridge, take a ham radio along!


That Hand-Held Transceiver (HT) you routinely use for accessing the nearby repeater can make a great scanner for listening to railroad communication, or with a handheld yagi antenna and a lot of luck, you could make a QSO with another ham operator via earth-orbiting satellite. 


You might enjoy putting a mobile HF rig in your car or truck.  Some of your fellow ham radio operators might be in need of a two-way radio contact from one of the rare counties.  Consider combining a sight-seeing trip with some ham radio activity.  If you give out rare contacts be prepared to send QSL cards to the lucky men and women on the other end of the contact.  They will appreciate your efforts.


Follow the trail below to find more articles on radio, SSTV, rail-fanning and other stuff:



See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT


One member of the herd kept a watchful eye on the K3IEC Portable, Multi-Op, York County operations.



Part of the Notes From The Shack… series.


The Pennsylvania QSO Party for 2020 is over and hopefully your log has been submitted.


Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Members Andy AF3I, Doug KC3CPT, and Frank KB3PQT went to the home of club member Dave W3VRE in York County and got K3IEC on-the-air as a Portable, Multi-Operator operation.


Band conditions Saturday afternoon were terrible.  Andy and Dave made nearly all the QSOs on 80 meters using phone and CW.   (Thanks to Valli N8QVT for the 40 meter QSOs also!)


Chef-For-Life Doug KC3CPT prepared an excellent lunch which was enjoyed be all those who were present.  Visiting members Valli N8QVT, Harry K3EYL and Glenn K3SWZ added their momentum to the Team activity as well.


Did I mention that Dave W3VRE is a gentleman farmer?  We set up our stations in the back of his pasture within an arm’s length separation from the livestock.  See the nearby photo.


The Goat Wranglers K3IEC Contest Crew had a great time.  We are making our plans for PA QSO Party 2021.


For more information on the Pennsylvania QSO Party and contesting, follow the trail to



See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT





Part of the Notes From The Shack…

Scott Davis, N3FJP and his fine team at Affirmatech have created a constellation of software logging packages.  His AC Call Log is one of the more popular software loggers, and there are dozens of computer assisted logging programs.  Not only does his software do the usual logging, easy uploads to e-QSL and Logbook of the World, address labels, but under the VIEW tab I found some interesting statistics. 

A screen snapshot taken from my log:

Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
 —-           —      —–         —     —–       —

  160        0       9      25      34       1

   80        0   1,192     178   1,370      41

   40        0     208     210     418      13

   30        0       0      70      70       2

   20        0      55      81     136       4

   17        0       8       2      10       0

   15        0       4      20      24       1

   12        0       1       0       1       0

   10        0      96       2      98       3

    6        0       1       0       1       0

    2        0   1,137       5   1,142      35

            —   —–     —   —–     —

 Total       0   2,711     593   3,304     100


A few months ago, 80m made up 43% of my total contacts, and 2m made up 33%.  This Summer and Fall I made a deliberate effort to make contacts on “anything but 80m”.  That has not gone so well, as the shift from 80m to 2m shows, but I made more contacts on 30m (a fun band!) as well as 20m and 40m.  I am always amazed at how, while my perception is that most of my radio time is spent on digital modes, phone is the mode on which the bulk of my contacts have been made.

The N3FJP statistics also show the ARRL sections (usually obtained from contest loggers and imported into AC Call Log afterwards), states, countries, etc. The item I wish it tracked was mode by type:  RTTY; PSK31, FT8 etc.


Total Contacts by State \ Prov:

 State       Total     %
 —–         —–    —

 PA          1,283    39

 VA          1,016    31

 NC            189     6

 (blank)      98     3

 MD            63     2

 FL              47     1


This screen snapshot shows my top five states (plus the ever popular “blank”). 

I am not sure which surprised me more: that 70% of all my contacts were made with two states, or that NC ranks third, or that MD ranks fifth.


Follow the trail below to the Know-How Resources Tab to read more about computers and amateur radio,   https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT



Will you help a neighbor in need?

Earlier this season I was approached by a club member who asked if CARC could lend its support to a worthy cause.  We put our heads together and came up with an organization that several CARC members are known to support through their donations and through their volunteer service.

We came up with New Hope Ministries and their Christmas Blessing Express program.

With that introduction I would like to let the folks at NHM tell the rest of the story.  What follows has been lifted from their website and lightly edited to fit this News Blog format.

If any CARC members are able to donate and need assistance getting gifts to the NHM Donation Center please let me know.  This is Andrew Forsyth AF3I.

It’s time for New Hope Ministries annual Christmas Blessing Express!

It is such a blessing for NHM guests to have gifts for their family to open on Christmas day.

Click here for a listing of items that are often requested by families struggling at Christmas.
(This link will take you to the New Hope Ministries website.) 

If you are able to donate, please drop off your unwrapped donations at any New Hope Center by due dates listed below.

  • Dillsburg Center: through December 8, 2020.
  • Dover Center: through December 4, 2020.
  • Hanover/Littlestown Center: through December 7, 2020
  • New Oxford Center: through December 11, 2020 (Call Center ahead to schedule drop off time at United Hook & Ladder)
  • Mechanicsburg Center: through November 30, 2020.
  • West Shore Center: through December 11, 2020.

Donation Drop Off hours are: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
(exception: Littlestown is open Wednesdays only)

Thank you for your generosity and love to our neighbors in need.
With your support, we can make this season filled with Hope and Love!!







Every Ham Needs a Kubota Tractor

The other day a group of Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Ham Radio Operators were gathered together for a contest operation.  Now and then the conversation turned to topics other than Ham Radio. 

This group talked about tractors.  It occurred to the four of them and each had a Kubota tractor which is used for chores around their rural properties and gentlemen’s farms. 

Someone asked — “What about Andy — AF3I?  What kind of tractor does he have?”   The leader of the group knew that Andy did not have any tractor, making him the odd man out.

The group decided that Andy needs a Kubota tractor if he is going to be part of the group.
And they knew that many of the same people would be gathering for the Pennsylvania QSO Party.

One of the four was designated to visit a popular farming supply house and arrange for Andy to have his own Kubota tractor.  With great fanfare, the group presented Andy with his very own Kubota tractor.

The tractor is shown positioned on the farmstead diorama that CARC club members presented to Andy at the time of his retirement. 

You may recognize that Andy’s farmstead also features a replica of a famous ham radio station — the original is located in Newington, Connecticut.

Thank you, gentlemen.  This was a great surprise.






RTTY Software and Contesting


RTTY – radio teletype – is a fun digital mode.  I became active in the hobby when I learned about FLDIGI software and PSK31 and Domino.  Andy AF3I suggested I’d like RTTY and gave it a try.  I think I actually have more RTTY contacts in the log than PSK31 contacts.  RTTY unfortunately seems to be used more often as a contesting mode and less often for casual conversations.


The ARRL promotes a few RTTY contests each year as does CQ magazine.  The last full weekend in September is the CQ World Wide RTTY contest.  That was September 26 and 27, 2020.  I normally have other things to do, but I played around in the contest a bit.  Band conditions were horrible, and while I saw a few stations I suspect were running a lot of power making QSOs, my 100 watt station didn’t do so well.  I also found it interesting that most of the US call signs I saw were 1×2 and 2×1 (K3FM and AF3I would be examples). Not sure why that was. 


Not sure I passed this tip along, but FT8 can be a good predictor of the band conditions.  I am finding if there is a lot of FT8 activity and the noise levels are conducive to FT8, other modes may work.  But if FT8 is essentially dead, or all you are seeing are -15 and worse reports, other modes like RTTY, and Olivia will not do so well.  PSK31 is a toss-up.


I spent most of the time comparing RTTY software packages.  For more information follow the trail below to the Know-How Resources tab to read the full article. https://www.radioclub-carc.com/resources/


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

CARC Member Steve Hancock, N3FWE provided this information describing SKYWARN training courses that will take place during the month of October 2020.

If you would like to learn about how Ham Radio supports SKYWARN you may wish to enroll in one of these course offerings.

You can find a lot of information about the registration procedure by visiting the website shown below.



Note:  The “We” mentioned below refers to an organization other than Cumberland Amateur Radio Club.  If you have questions about the courses or the registration procedure you may find the answer in the above link.

We will host the NWS Skywarn course in the month of October. Below is the complete course list and the registration links.  The courses will be held virtually by the NWS State College. As you can see below there are many offerings in the month of October.

The 2 courses on October 15th are the Dauphin County courses that we set up, but feel free to attend any class. 


Day           Date   Time      GoToWebinar Registration Link

Thursday 10/8     7-9PM   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4186608635801503247


Thursday 10/15   2-4PM   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1178522943151442960

Thursday 10/15   7-9PM   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7166336824182503952


Saturday 10/17   10AM-Noon       https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4800012978880964875


Tuesday 10/20     6-8PM   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1882028965509782544


Monday 10/26     6-8PM   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5855914676943417360





Everything you would like to know about Oktoberfest appears in the flyer distributed by the Harrisburg Radio Amateur Club and reproduced in the adjacent panel.

Translation for our Latin friends:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam eu dignissim tortor, sit amet bibendum lacus. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.


How Far Can You Go?

Sunday night August 30, 2020 the Cumberland Amateur Radio Club Weekly Two Meter Net had two visitor check-ins.  We welcome visitors.  In that sense, there was nothing unusual about one or even two visitor check-ins that evening.

What was impressive is that Denny KC3PVU was operating from on top Blue Mountain near Linglestown with a Yaesu FT-60R hand-held transceiver and a mag-mount antenna.  He was operating in the “Light Up Two Meters” on-the-air activity event where the object was to get as many two-way radio contacts (we call them QSOs in ham radio jargon) as possible on the 2 meter Amateur Radio band between 1800 and 2000 EST.

That little 5 watt radio and antenna successfully reeled in Valli N8QVT and Harry K3EYL in York Springs, Doug KC3CPT in Mt. Holly Springs, Andy AF3I in Dillsburg, Glenn K3SWZ in New Cumberland and other club members in the Mechanicsburg area.

I do not know how many contacts Denny made overall, but he got 9 entries in the log by talking with CARC members.


Denny was joined on Blue Mountain by his mentor – Mike W3MSB who had the same objective to Light Up Two Meters.


I am impressed.  If you need proof that ham radio is all about location and the more elevation the better, this is it.  If you ever thought a little handheld has too little power, you could be wrong.  From his Blue Mountain location to York Springs, home of N8QVT and K3EYL, was about 40 miles.


And even better – Denny had been licensed just 10 days at that point.  He has more QSOs in his log now than I did after 5 years in the hobby under my own call sign!


Thank you everyone who was not only willing to devote their time to assisting two fellow hams, but who eagerly added to their scores:

Andy — AF3I,
Harry — K3EYL,
Glenn — K3SWZ,
Doug — KC3AB,
Frank — KB3PQT,
Doug — KC3CPT,
Logan — KC3FFI,
Steve — N3FWE, and
Valli — N8QVT.


This activity was not planned, but that is part of the magic of ham radio!  Things happen.


The CARC Two Meter Net meets each Sunday evening at 7 p.m. on 146.490 MHz FM simplex.  If you are within ear-shot we invite you to check-in.  Listen for Net Control Station KB3PQT as he calls the net and invites check-ins.


If you are beyond the ear-shot distance you may wish to participate in our net using EchoLink.  Our EchoLink station can be reached on Node 259045 using Station ID AF3I-L


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT



Not just for grown-ups!


Faye KN4WDF recently was the Virginia Fone Net  Net Control Station and reported that she had talked to a newly licensed ham on another net she runs.  The new ham is an 8 year old girl.  Unfortunately I do not know the young lady’s call sign.

Faye is an enthusiastic supporter of the ham radio hobby.  While has not been licensed very many years herself, Faye seems to be very good at drawing people into the hobby.  She has expressed several times she wishes she had gotten into ham radio decades ago instead of waiting until after she retired.

How enthusiastic is Faye?  She was still getting her 50 required check-ins in order to become a VFN member when she said she was willing to be a net control on Saturdays, a day when the net can get 50 or more check-ins.  That’s enthusiastic!


The Virginia Fone Net meets on 3.947 MHz, at 1630 and 1930 Eastern time daily.


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT



I would gladly pay you Tuesday for an Amateur Radio License Today — Not!

The FCC proposes to collect fees for Amateur Radio License Applications and Renewals.
The fee proposal originated in Congress.  As a consequence, the FCC’s hands are tied.
The fee proposal will affect you sooner or later.  For that reason, please read and familiarize yourself with the information my colleagues and I have gathered from trustworthy sources.
1.)  The American Radio Relay League — ARRL
2.)  The Laurel Volunteer Exam Coordinator Team — LARC VEC

Route 66 On-The-Air

This year marks the 21st year of this great radio event. Originally started by the Northern Arizona DX Association, it was a way to allow amateur radio operators a fun way to “Relive the Ride.” They also can relive their own memories of Route 66, and get to celebrate the highway’s rich history in making the U.S. what it is today.

Citrus Belt Amateur Radio Club (CBARC) in San Bernardino, CA took over the event a couple years later and has grown into one of the best special amateur radio events each year.

Amateur radio clubs using special 1×1 callsigns operate from cities on or near the route from coast to coast. Hundreds of operators worldwide aim to contact as many radio operators as possible who would like to take part in this annual event.

The 2020 event takes place September 12, 2020 through September 20, 2020

For additional information about Route 66 On-The-Air please visit their website:  http://www.w6jbt.org

Follow the links on their top menu.



National POW MIA Recognition Day Special Event Station 2020


Observances of National POW MIA Recognition Day are held across this country on the third Friday in September each year. This year it will be on September 18.  Station will be in operation Sept 12 thru Sept 22.

This will be the 12th year the special event station has been activated.

The day was established to honor our prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action.

There will be sister stations on the air also.

K4MIA        (Chris)              Florida, 
K4MIA/1    (Don)                Vermont, 
K4MIA/5    (John,Steve)     Texas, 
K4MIA/5    (Larry)              Mississippi,  
K4MIA/7    (Lee)                 Utah, 
K4MIA/8    (Linda,Metro)  Ohio 

Contacts will be made on SSB, CW, SSTV, LEO satellites, PSK31 and FT8. 

For a QSL (card design is not yet finalized) please send your QSL and SASE to the address shown below.


6758 Hall Blvd
Loxahatchee, FL 33470

Working any of the K4MIA stations will receive the SAME QSL.
Because of the large volume of requests you MUST SEND SASE to get a returned QSL

Please take time to remember our POWs and MIAs as well as their families.
I would like to include KIA’s and all veterans (past and present) that have given so much for this country.




Upcoming State QSO Parties — Ohio and Hawai`i

Cumberland Amateur Radio Club has a goal of building its bench strength in preparation for a big showing in Field Day 2021.

Part of our preparation strategy calls for placing greater emphasis on the many State QSO Parties and using them as a development opportunity.  Many of the skills that an operator needs for Field Day are the same skills as she or he would use when operating in a State QSO Party.

Our approach begins by reviewing the QSO Party Rules looking for areas that can be standardized and simplified for the beginning contester entering as a single operator station. 

So, here we are at the end of July 2020 making our plans and drumming up interest. 

To our south, the bordering state of Maryland has the Maryland-DC QSO Party on the horizon with an August 8 date.  

To our west, the bordering state of Ohio has the Ohio QSO Party around the corner with an August 22 date.
And, if there is someplace I would love to have on my Bucket List it is the 50th State with its Hawaii QSO Party, also with an August 22 date.

Go back a few days in the News Blog and you will find a link to the MDC QSO Party summary that was written as a starter.

Once you have the Maryland-DC QSO Party under your belt please set your sights on Ohio and Hawaii.
Here are a couple of links that will take you to our content.


I am so ready to learn about the OHIO QSO Party. Take me to the PDF.

I can handle two QSO parties at the same time. Take me to the Hawaii QSO Party PDF.



New Weekly Statewide WIRES-X C4FM Net and Eastern PA DMR Talkgroup

Earlier today ARRL Members in the EPA Section received information from Jay Silber, ARRL Public Information Coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania Section, describing new weekly digital nets.

Jay’s announcement appears in the PDF shown below. 

If this topic is of interest to you please follow the link to the full text of his announcement. 

Link to announcement:   Notes From The Shack New Statewide Talk Group [PDF]

Andy Forsyth AF3I and Frank Mellott KB3PQT


TECNU Extreme

A few days ago, as part of the Sunday Evening Two-Meter Net, CARC Members heard a glowing report of the great results club member KC3AB obtained by using TECNU Poison Ivy and Oak Scrub to wash-up following an exposure to poison ivy.  

I find that I am a poison ivy magnet.  When I do yard work and other outdoor chores I am bound to stick my hands some place where poison ivy with its three shiny leaves is growing, unknown to me.

So, I took Doug’s recommendation to heart and went on a shopping trip.  With the assistance of my wife I found and purchased the product at Wegmans on the Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA.  We were happy to find the product in-stock.  It was located in the First Aid aisle within a few inches of the adhesive bandages (e.g. Band-Aids).   I also found the product on the shelf at the Giant in Dillsburg.

So, I am well-prepared for the next time I touch the poison ivy vine.  Thank you Doug.  Friends who share their insights and experiences are best kind.  You want to keep them.

Can someone help me with this new woe?   I have this tune stuck in my head and it won’t go away. 
“Late at night when you’re sleepin’ Poison Ivy comes a creepin’ around”. 

Practice Makes Perfect.

With a special focus on the Maryland — DC QSO Party
Scheduled for August 8, 2020


Cumberland Amateur Radio Club recently recapped its performance in the ARRL 2020 Field Day Operating Event.  The short version is that we believe the event will be more enjoyable if we take steps to sharpen our skills.

One way of sharpening skills is to practice regularly.  Almost every weekend provides an opportunity to practice those Field Day operating skills by operating in one of the on-air Radio Sport contests.

With that in mind, the purpose of this post is to share a few thoughts about the upcoming Maryland – DC QSO Party.  CARC Club Members and other ham radio operators may enjoy spending quality time on-the-air as they develop their skills and share contest points with colleagues.


[ There is a lot of good information in the accompanying PDF which rounds-out and completes the introductions shown above.  Click the button and the file will download right before your eyes.]

I want to read. Take me to the PDF




Are You a Fan of Portable Operation?

Looking for a portable antenna that is easy to use and affordable?

Looking for a portable antenna that pairs well with a Yaesu 817 or 818 series radio transceiver, or an Icom 703 or Icom 705?

Looking for a portable antenna that is rated to handle up to 100 watts for those times when you feel the need for more power?

If so, the Comet HFJ-350M 9-Band Telescopic Antenna might be the portable antenna for you.

Follow the trail to the KNOW HOW RESOURCES page for more information on a nifty new antenna from Comet!

I want to follow the trail. Show me the Full Story


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT


Frank Mellott on-the-air
Frank Mellott, KB3PQT operating as a Portable Station


Powerwerx Test BUDDY

Looking for a way to keep all the MAGIC SMOKE inside your ham radio gear – where it belongs?

Check out the KNOW-HOW RESOURCES page for information about that red blob in the bottom right corner of the photo.   [Sorry, the photo is not cooperating.  You will not see any red blobs during your visit.]

Click on the SALMAGUNDI link and you will be whisked to the page where the answer and all kinds of helpful information has been uploaded.

Or, simply click on the button below and you will have the document on your screen in seconds with no additional navigation required.  What could be easier than that?


See ‘ya down the log.

Frank KB3PQT

How do I Test Buddy [PDF]