1. How do I join the club?
2. What are the membership dues? How do I pay?
3. Who do I contact for XYZ?
4. What is the story behind the club's callsign (K9DIY)?
5. Why can't I access the member directory?

6. What is ham radio?
7. Why is it called ham radio?
8. Is ham radio still relevant today?
9. Do I need to know Morse Code to become a ham?
10. How do I become a ham?
11. Is there VE testing in Bloomington?

12. What are digital modes?
13. What is APRS?
14. What is moonbounce or EME?
15. What is QRP?
16. What is satellite operation?
17. What is meteor scatter?
19. What is SDR?
19. What is ARHAB?

 

1. How do I join the club?

(a) Show up at a club meeting. (b) Contact us.

2. What are the membership dues? How do I pay?

$10/yr for students, $20/yr for individuals, and $35/yr for families. You can pay it at a club meeting or snail-mail it in.

3. Who do I contact for XYZ?

General BARC enquiries: BARC president Jimmy Merry, Jr. KC9RPX, kc9rpx at gmail.com, VE testing: John Maasen K9FK, jpmaassen at gmail.com, Net Control: Bobby Bristoe KB9UVW, bbristoe at smithville.net, Event Booking: Jeremey Kelley KC9ICI, jakelley75 AT juno.com.

4. What is the story behind the club's callsign (K9DIY)?

Coming soon.

5. Why can't I access the member directory?

(The directory is still under construction on the new site.)

6. What is ham radio?

See What is Ham Radio?.

7. Why is it called ham radio?

According to Wikipedia, " ... The term 'ham radio' was first a pejorative that mocked amateur radio operators with a 19th-century term for being bad at something, like "ham-fisted" or "ham actor". It had already been used for bad wired telegraph operators. Subsequently, the community adopted it as a welcome moniker, much like the "Know-Nothing Party", or other groups and movements throughout history. Other, more entertaining explanations have grown up throughout the years, but they are apocryphal."

8. Is ham radio still relevant today?

To many the decades-old radio technology seems old fashioned given a world with email, instant messaging, twitter, etc. which any smartphone allows one to access instantly. Granted, it's all good when it works, but have you ever been a few miles off the beaten path or even in pockets within cities where that smartphone does not much good? And what if the cell towers are completely down, say after a tornado? This is where amateur radio shines. It still routinely plays an important role when it comes to providing instant, reliable communications in case of disasters, over very long distances when other methods are not available or too costly, or when away from other means of contact. Amateur radio operators today can transmit their position via radio to the internet, bounce their signals off communications satellites, provide instant messaging over the radio, send TV pictures, and more. When all hell breaks loose, a ham with a laptop, a radio, a car battery, and an antenna can essentially recreate a mini internet if necessary. To learn more about these, see the FAQs under "Modern Amateur Radio" below.

9. Do I need to know Morse Code to become a ham?

No. The FCC eliminated the Morse Code requirements in 2007. That said, many new hams still learn Morse Code (shortened to just "code" in hamspeak) because it is fun, challenging, and useful when all else fails. Code makes the best use of available power, requires minimal equipment, and can be sent to distant stations all over the world.

10. How do I become a ham?

By taking a test. When you pass, you will get your "license" and a call sign. There are three licenses or classes: Technician, General, and Extra, in order of increasing difficulty. You start by studying for the Technician class (books and online) then take the General and Extra tests if you like. Testing is done by volunteer examiners (VE).

11. Is there VE testing in Bloomington?

Yes. BARC conducts VE Testing normally on the first Saturday of each month at the First United Church, 2420 East 3rd Street in Bloomington, just west of Eastland Plaza. It is behind the PromptCare and IU Credit Union.

12. What are digital modes?

Everyone is familiar with the analog Morse Code and phone (voice) modes of amateur radio communications. These have been greatly augmented by the increasingly powerful microprocessors inside cheaply available personal computers. There are software packages that encode information such as text or images into digital packets that are processed into sound and delivered via the sound card to and transmitted by an amateur radio transceiver. A remote transceiver receives this signal and sends it to a computer, which in turn decodes the packets back into information. The term "digital modes" refers to the numerous (and consistently increasing) ways of chopping , encoding, and packaging the information. Examples include Phase Shift Keying (PSK), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), Radio Teletype (RTTY, pronounced "ritty"), PACTOR, AMTOR, Olivia, Hellschreiber, Slow Scan TV (SSTV), and many more. If you tune to the right HF frequencies, you can actually "hear" these modes. You can also just search for audio samples on the internet.

13. What is APRS?

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS). It allows a radio with a connected GPS to transmit its position to "digipeaters", repeaters that pick up and retransmit these APRS packets at a higher power. The packets can be picked up by APRS capable radios to learn the transmitting station's position. Digipeaters also feed these packets to the internet, allowing anyone with a computer or a smartphone to follow an APRS station, all without ever using a conventional radio at all. APRS also allows for messaging, and is often used to augment voice communications. At BARC, we use APRS extensively, for instance to provide communications for the Hilly Hundred Bicycle Ride in October. APRS makes it possible for the Ride Mission Control to have positional awareness of support vehicles we equip with APRS, allowing the Hilly Director to send help where needed, instantly. You can check out Wikipedia APRS article for more details about APRS.

14. What is moonbounce or EME?

Moon bounce or EME (Earth-Moon-Earth communication) is a technique where radio waves are directed toward the moon, bounced off of it, and detected back at Earth. The Moon is used as a passive reflector so to speak. EME is of interest to amateur radio operators because it is quite challenging - the Moon is not very reflective, the signal loss over a 800,000 km path are huge, frequencies Doppler Shift, etc. etc. However, it is also very rewarding. EME can be achieved on 2m with appropriately configured hardware. For more information, check out VHFDX.NET's Moonbounce page.

15. What is QRP?

QRP is a ham Q code that has been used for decades which indicates "reduce power" or "shall I reduce power?". However, as an amateur radio activity, QRP is transmitting or receiving at low or very low power. The QRP enthusiast scoffs at the 50 or 100 watts used by conventional HF and aims for worldwide communication at milliwatts or less (the current record is 1 microwatt over 1,650 miles on 10m). Read more about QRP at ARRL.

16. What is satellite operation?

Amateur satellite operation or "satellite hamming" is communicating with special satellites put in orbit for amateur radio use. It can be challenging but also exciting. An amateur radio satellite, in essence, acts as a repeater in space except it can repeat multiple signals at the same time, not just one like regular terrestrial repeaters. Their coverage is obviously far greater because the "antenna is miles high". You can communicate with satellites at various VHF and HF frequencies. Read this excellent QST article to learn more about satellite hamming.

17. What is meteor scatter?

Meteor scatter or "Talking to Shooting Stars" as someone put it is an amateur radio activity where enthusiasts attempt reflecting radio waves off of the ionized trails of meteorites that hit the earth's atmosphere. Being highly transitory in nature, they are not always successful and it takes some doing to get the hang of it. (It helps to have a meteor shower of course.) Meteor scatter is important enough that U.S. defence establishment believes it can be used for short communications in case the ionosphere gets fried or the satellites decide to leave orbit en masse. Here is an interesting story about meteor scatter that you should read.

18. What is SDR?

SDR stands for Software Defined Radio. It moves a lot of the old radio hardware functions to a computer as software, for instance digital processing, control, user interface, etc. (An ideal SDR would be a computer connected to an antenna.) Most modern, commercial SDRs usually come as a package containing both software and hardware, for example SDRs by Flex Radio Systems. Here is an informative article about SDRs and how they could revolutionize wireless.

19. What is ARHAB?

Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooming (ARHAB) is flying amateur radio gear on weather balloons at very high (25-30 km) altitudes. An ARHAB flight typically carries a payload with an APRS tracker and GPS that allows hams on the ground keep tabs on its location.See the ARHAB Wikipedia Page for more info.