Contesting clubs in Canada and New England have joined forces to invite non-hams, new hams, and even old timers to discover HF radio in the 21st century firsthand, by getting on the air and operating remote stations. Beta test “Discover the HF Experience” events will take place in April, with the debut on April 2 in Manitoba. A subsequent special event in Massachusetts will take place on April 10, using the call sign K1K. A major rollout is expected at Dayton Hamvention® in May, with four operating positions at ARRL EXPO. The “Discover the HF Experience” concept stresses that “short-wave” Amateur Radio is just as compelling now as it was 100 years ago.
“Amateur Radio is complementary to new technology, not in competition with it,” said Gerry Hull, W1VE, who came up with the idea and has been working with Cary Rubenfeld, VE4EA, in Manitoba to flesh it out into a program. “Ham radio is so, experiential,” Hull told ARRL, “so a key part of this process is getting hams to experience HF, if they’re unfamiliar with it. As part of these events, we are going to have remote HF stations on the air. We will have Elmers to help participants through a contact, so they can see how HF really works,” he added.
“Our amateur population is at an all-time high, but most new hams are getting a Technician ticket, getting on VHF and UHF, and hanging out with like-minded friends,” Hull said. The limitations on what Technician licensees can do often leads to boredom, Hull said, “and they drop out of the hobby. They never get the exposure to HF ham radio, and as any veteran radio amateur can tell you, that’s a lifelong exploration.”
Radiosport Manitoba and the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Club will sponsor the April 2 debut at the Canad Inn, Garden City, in Winnipeg (9:30 AM until 4:30 PM CDT). The April 10 beta test will take place at Keefe Technical High School in Framingham, Massachusetts (12:30 until 4 PM EDT), in place of the normal Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC) open house.
“Today there are not as many HF Elmers,” Hull said. “Who better to be the ambassadors of HF than contesters? We’re passionate about HF!” Hull, who is also VE1RM, will be a presenter at the Manitoba event, discussing how the Internet has enhanced the HF experience.
Hull said everyone who wants to will get the chance to operate a remote HF station at both the Manitoba and New England sites. The Canadian “Discover” site will use VE4BB and plans to operate via K1TTT in Peru, Massachusetts, among others. The New England site will offer four station “pods” that can connect with stations in Massachusetts — including K1TTT — as well as in Vermont, Manitoba, Yukon Territory, and Sweden (SK3W).
“Everything from small, residential dipole-type stations to contest superstations, to DX,” Hull pointed out. “I’d like to draw upon our initial events to develop a template for others to follow. In addition to the YCCC, the Port City Amateur Radio Club and the Framingham Amateur Radio Association are taking part in sponsoring the New England event.
YCCC members will offer presentations covering such topics as bands and propagation, buying an HF transceiver, building antennas, how the Internet can enhance the HF experience, contesting, collecting awards, and where to find out more about ham radio.
Contact Discover the HF Experience for more information.