2021 Year in Review

2021 was a busy year!

Thanks to the support, participation, and energy of our members, we:

    • Maintained our 70 cm repeater (444.475 MHz) and performed work on our 6 meter (53.43 MHz) repeater.
    • Held weekly nets and office hours, which you can find on our calendar.
    • Met monthly to stay connected, share ideas, and keep the club active in all that we do.
    • Held licensing classes in April and October to help a total of18 Bainbridge Islanders get their amateur radio license. If you’re one of the new hams, Welcome to amateur radio! We’re happy to have you here.
    • Provided support for Cascade Bicycle Club’s “Chilly Hilly – Special Summer Edition” in August. Keep an eye out for forthcoming email regarding volunteer opportunities for Chilly Hilly 2022. Chilly Hilly 2022 will be Sunday, February 27th.
    • Activated a club station for ARRL Field Day in June at the Battle Point Astronomical Association observatory in Battle Point Park.
    • Helped BEARS, BI Flotilla, and BIPD conduct an exercise in October, where flotilla vessels were used to ferry volunteers from Suquamish and Brownsville to Bainbridge Island, simulating emergency transportation without the use of the Agate Pass bridge or the Seattle ferry.

We’re looking forward to another great year with you. Plans for 2022 include helping set up a community HF station at the Battle Point Astronomical Association observatory, teaching a General licensing class in the spring, and assisting with Cascadia Rising in June.

Thank you, all of our club members, for making this a memorable year, and thank you for your generosity with your time and your resources. We appreciate all that you do. If you are reading this and are not already a club member, please consider becoming a club member! We’d love to have you aboard.




2021 ARRL Field Day

The Bainbridge Island Amateur Radio Club will be participating in the ARRL Field Day event on June 26th from 11:00 to 20:00 at the BPAA Observatory in Battle Point Park. We will be setting up two transmitters and possibly a GOTA station (see below).

Field Day

Field Day is a contest run by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio. While the competitive objective is “To contact as many stations as possible on the 160, 80, 40, 20,15 and 10 Meter HF bands, as well as all bands 50 MHz and above, and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions,” our club objective is to further advance our amateur radio knowledge and skills while having as much fun as we can. If we score a lot of points, great! If we learn a lot while not scoring points, even better.

The BPAA Observatory

The Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA) has kindly offered to host the event at their Observatory located in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island. To access the observatory, you must enter at the park’s western gate (map). From there, look for the building with a big dome on it across from the baseball fields. There is also a map with directions on the BPAA Page.

GOTA Station

GOTA stands for “Get On The Air.” A GOTA Station is a separate radio transmitter at a Field Day. As stated in the Field Day rules, “The GOTA station may be operated by any person licensed since the previous year’s Field Day, regardless of license class. It may also be operated by a generally inactive licensee. Non-licensed persons may participate under the direct supervision of an appropriate control operator.”

So, in order to have a GOTA station, we need help from hams that have a license less than a year old, hams that are not active on HF, or people who are not licensed and would like to try ham radio. If that’s you, please join us.

How to Add the Club Calendar to Your Google Calendar

If you use Google Calendar and want to add the club events to your view, you can easily add the club calendar to the collection of calendars that you have in your Google account. All you have to do in your browser (while logged into your Google account) is to navigate to the club calendar and push the “+GoogleCalendar” button at the bottom of the calendar. The picture below has an arrow pointing to the button, in the event that you can’t find it. 

Radio Direction Finding, AKA Foxhunting

If you’re thinking amateur radio is just about sitting at your desk and making contacts with other hams, there’s a whole lot more to it. One of the fun things we can is as a form of “radiosport” called foxhunting. It uses radio receivers to locate a transmitter at an unknown location.

Typically, directional antennas are used to home-in on a signal, allowing you to get a bearing, move in the direction from which you think the signal is coming, then listen in and adjust your bearing until you (hopefully) arrive at the transmitter location. The first one to find the transmitter wins!

This activity can be done on foot or with the use of vehicles to allow quick movement toward the transmitter. In the case of a mobile operation, you either use RDF antennas in/on the car or pull over and stick an antenna out the window every so often.

You can build your RDF gear or buy it pre-made or in kit form. Check out this page for some resources or do a web search to learn more.

RDF is used for more than just fun. It is also used to track wildlife, locate sources of interference (1, 2), find stolen cars (LoJack), or for search and rescue. If you ever had reason to track radio frequency interference (RFI), it would sure be nice if you’d already had some experience with direction finding so the process was familiar.

Here’s a good video that shows a competition in progress and gives a good idea of how the process works. It was produced by KN4AQ, who has a series of YouTube videos under the title HamRadioNow.

Here’s a link with video of a practical use of RDF for tracking down power line noise – the noise coming from some broken piece of equipment on a power pole (like a cracked insulator causing arcing).


Additional Reading:



http://www.homingin.com/ – all about foxhunting


Are you curious what HF is all about, but don’t have your own setup at home? Want to get an idea for what it’s like to listen to?

Check out http://www.websdr.org/. You’ll see a list of stations around the world, what frequencies they are streaming, and what kind of antennas they use for each frequency range.

Pick a station, and click the blue hyperlink in the big box for that station. For example, I picked a station in Arizona, and the link in its box was http://w7rna.dyndns-remote.com:18901. That took me to the page where I can listen to any of the frequencies listed for that station at WebSDR.org. Type your first name or callsign into the text box just so others can see who is listening (can be anything if you don’t want to give your name). Then you’ll see a waterfall load. For me, it defaulted to the ~7000 MHz band (40-meter band). I saw a few amateur stations on LSB, a couple CW stations, and an AM broadcast station.

I clicked the radio button next to AM (wide) to select the AM filter and moved the yellow slider under the waterfall under the broadcast station, and all of a sudden I was listening to a Japanese broadcast station on 7275 kHz. I got bored listening to something I couldn’t understand, so I changed to LSB mode filter and went looking for an amateur conversation.

A good signal was coming in just above 7150 kHz, so I moved the yellow slider down. On the left under the waterfall, I used the +/- tune step buttons (under the frequency text box) to fine tune until the signal sounded good and I settled on 7167 kHz and heard a conversation between a US ham and 2 fellows in Australia. From the Arizona receiver location, the VK1-something station couldn’t be heard (I heard he was on 1 watt because one of the other guys in the conversation said so), but the VK2-something station was booming in and easily understood.

By the way, playing with WebSDRs is a great way to learn some of the quirks of SSB. Place the tuner near something you think might be a voice signal – pick something in the voice range of the ham band (see a band plan for where to start looking), select USB or LSB based on which frequency you are listening to, then tune toward and then away from the station in small increments using the tune step button under the frequency text box on the left side (be sure to use the smallest step size for best effect). Take several steps toward and then past the station, and you’ll hear the characteristic change in pitch as you roll into and past the station. You should notice your ear will tell you when you’ve centered on the right frequency (or when you’re sufficiently close to it) – you’ll note the station’s voice sound the most natural at some point. Try this without looking, then check how close you got. Many stations pick even numbered frequencies like 7150 kHz, 7151, 7152, etc., to make it easy for another station to tune them in well.

Lastly, I wanted to check the time, so I thought I’d tune in WWV. I typed in 5000 into the text box and hit Enter (5000 kHz=5 MHz and it will switch automatically). Typing in the frequency puts me on exactly the frequency I want so I don’t have to worry about fine-tuning (as long as the receiver is calibrated properly!). All of a sudden, I heard the ticker, then the time called out each minute.

Learn more about WWV

RF Exposure Evaluation

Depending on your station setup, you may be required to perform an exposure evaluation per FCC Part 97 Rules. For example, you’re required to perform an evaluation if PEP power delivered into your antenna is over 50W on 2, 6, or 10m, over 75W on 12m, or over 100W on 15m. Many amateur radio operators will never need to perform an evaluation, but it’s good to know when and why we might need to.

Here’s a link that provides great information and lots of links to get you caught up on what you need to know:


You’ll find a table listing power levels above which you will be required to perform an evaluation, and more information on RF safety in links from that page. Make sure you read and understand these rules before pushing the power!

General Class slides for study

If you’re considering going for your General Class amateur radio license, NC4FB has a good set of slides to read through to help you study.

General Class slides

Here is the parent page where I found the above link so you can review the other resources NC4FB has on his website. There are flashcards, you can download the slides, and can find other links and helpful resources.