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Mending Fences


*Email: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

We’re going to start out this month with something that has nothing — and everything — to do with amateur radio. My wife, Susan, and I spent the morning of Earth Day in April working with other volunteers in our local park to literally mend fences around seedlings for trees and shrubs that our park conservancy group had planted the previous spring. Winter had not been kind to the plastic fencing (especially one segment on which a huge tree limb fell after a particularly bad storm). We had a sign with the group’s name at our sign-in table (along with coffee and donuts). While we were working, a young woman approached us and asked about getting involved with our group. I took her contact info for our email list and gave her a sheet I’d made up with info on our website and Facebook group. By the time I’d posted photos of the morning’s activity, I noticed that she had already joined the Facebook group.

What does this have to do with ham radio? As I said at the beginning, nothing — and everything. I immediately thought about various ham clubs that routinely complain that they have trouble attracting new members and getting current members to keep showing up. And my takeaway from this brief interaction was that activity breeds activity. We were out there doing stuff, not just having meetings. Last summer, my wife and I (mostly my wife) planted a butterfly garden in the same park and, through our regular watering and weeding visits, we recruited several new members to the group (two of whom joined us for the fence-mending session). Again, activity breeds activity.

Struggling radio clubs can learn from this — don’t just talk to yourselves and don’t just talk about doing things — do things, preferably out in public, and be willing to take some time to talk with interested people about who you are, what you’re doing and why you find it fun or useful. And remember to talk to people in plain language; don’t glaze them over with techspeak. When people see you doing interesting stuff, they’ll want to find out more and perhaps join in.

That goes for individual hams as well. If you’re operating in a park or along a trail, be sure to take a few minutes out to chat with other people and answer questions. Having a handout from your local club is also a good idea. Activity breeds activity.

Take a look at this issue’s article on page 50 about the Washington County, Pennsylvania, club buildathon. This group went beyond licensing/upgrading classes and test sessions, and organized an activity to actively help newly-upgraded Generals do two important things: Learn or improve their building skills and get on the air with their new HF privileges. The club also literally put its money where its mouth is and subsidized half the cost of the kits for those who signed up. A ham is never more enthusiastic about the hobby than on the day his or her new (or upgraded) license is issued. This is the time to recruit them to join your club. But you need to have useful and fun activities in order to keep them.

It’s also important to step outside the world of ham radio. In “The Successful PIO” on page 36, co-authors KK4ECR and W1WCN discuss the importance of being part of your larger community. The more contacts a club and its representatives can make with other community organizations and leaders, the better impression you’ll make as being an integral part of the community. Be part of community activities (even those for which ham radio communications may not be needed); help with food drives and similar events. Again, though, doing things is key. If your group is seen as being active and involved, you’re more likely to be called on to help out as needed. Activity breeds activity.

Takin’ it to the Field

Speaking of activity, welcome to our annual “Take it to the Field” special, in which we highlight different ways in which hams and ham clubs take themselves and their stations out into the world, operating from remote locations, and even finding ham radio already waiting in unexpected places. We start with perhaps the ultimate in “taking it to the field,” the story of a DXpedition to Corsica for the CQ World Wide DX Contest (p. 10) which involved setting up, operating, and tearing down a multi-transmitter station and antennas over the course of just a few days. Then we join NE4AM and his wife in our cover story on operating from a ranger cabin in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park (p. 18), and KG7LBY’s story (p. 58) about the lessons he learned from his operation on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

We’ve also got some practical tips on “Four Knots Every Ham Should Know” (p. 54), especially for temporary antenna installations, as well as a low-cost and low-profile way to mark antenna locations for a site you use repeatedly but only occasionally, such as for Field Day (p. 34). Plus, we’ve got results of the 2017 CQ DX Marathon (p. 26), wireless headsets for hams with hearing impairments (p. 43) and a warning about bogus rechargeable batteries widely offered for sale on the internet (p. 46).

LoTW and WAZ

We’re also pleased to report a smooth start to ARRL’s Logbook of the World (LoTW) support for CQ’s Worked All Zones (WAZ) award in addition to WPX. It’s been five years in the making, and we thank everyone involved in the process, including the software writers at ARRL, WAZ Award Manager John Bergman, KC5LK, all of the alpha- and beta-testers, and especially Dave Bernstein, AA6YQ, of DXLab, who provided the spark needed to get things really moving. You’ll find more details in a frequently-asked questions (FAQ) guide by KC5LK on page 24. Once the dust settles on the WAZ/LoTW connection, we’ll start talking with the League about adding support down the road for the CQ DX and USA-CA awards.
Now … summer weather is here. Take advantage of the warm temperatures and long hours of daylight to get active outdoors (“activity breeds activity” applies to people, too!), pack a ham rig, antenna and battery, and “take it to the field!”

Please submit hamfest and special event announcements at least three months in advance by e-mail to <hamfest@cq-amateur-radio.com> or <specialevent@cq-amateur-radio.com>, or by postal mail to: CQ Magazine, Attn: Hamfests (or Special Events), 17 West John St.., Hicksville, NY 11801.

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