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A Brief History of the North Fulton Amateur Radio League
for the Year of 2010
by Chuck Catledge, AE4CW
- NFARL kicked off the year at the GARS TechFest with a demonstration of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) soldering techniques led by Mack, W4AX. TechFest attendees were able to try it for themselves and discovered that it’s not so hard after all!
- Special Interest Groups (SIGS) played a big role for NFARL in 2010. The CW SIG led by Jim, W4QO, the Antenna SIG lead by Wes, W3WL and Chuck, AE4CW and the Kit Building SIG led by Mack, W4AX all gathered a large and eager group of Hams ready to expand their technical skills.
- The monthly club programs were the cornerstone that attracted members to come in record numbers to the NFARL meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. In January Pete Riker, K4BKD presented “The Ten Top Reasons to Try Morse Code”, followed in February by Jim and Shelly Phillips, AB2CD and AB1CD presenting “Electricity’s Greatest Hits”, a program specially designed for youth. More than 20 youth were in attendance! In March, George Lane, KI4DSO introduced us to APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System) and the multiple ways it can be applied to our hobby and everyday life.
- Hamfests are always a big attraction for NFARL members. More than ten members took a road trip to the Orlando Hamcation in mid-February and even more made the trek up to the Dalton hamfest later in February (burr!). The Huntsville Hamfest in August called for another road trip by an ever growing group of NFARL trekkies. All thee were excellent events, and many great bargains found new homes. Closer to home the Kennehoochee Hamfests in March and the Atlanta Radio Club Hamfest in June were a huge hit and attracted a large number of NFARLites. NFARL inaugurated a very successful club “cafe” venue at the Lawrenceville Hamfest with tables, snacks and drinks for engaging visitors in a friendly atmosphere.
- The REALLY BIG NEWS for the year was NFARL’s selection as the Dayton Club of the Year and Jim, W4QO’s selection as Amateur of the Year. These two awards are arguably the most prestigious awards that can be presented to a club and an individual Ham. A record number of NFARL members made the trip to Dayton in mid-May to receive the awards and celebrate our success. And, to top it off, Jim, W4QO was inducted into the QRP Hall of Fame at the annual QRP ARCI meeting also held in Dayton.
- The April club meeting saw the premier public performance of Hal Kennedy’s, Blue Lightening spark gap transmitter along with Hal’s presentation of “King Spark – The History of Spark, 1900 – 1920”. Gary Bush, W6GB followed up in May with an extraordinarily entertaining and educational presentation of “Vertical Antenna Modeling with EZNEC”.
- Guess which club took top honors in the Georgia QSO Party for the second year in a row?!! Twenty eight members submitted logs and even more participated. And five of our members won their individual categories.....way to go!!
- If it’s June, it must be Field Day. And so it was! NFARL, for the second year in a row, had the largest Field Day participation in the nation. And the operating teams earned the top score in the Southeastern Division. New Hams were introduced to HF and older hams had a great time honing their skills and having a great time “in the field”.
- TechNet continued as a unique experience for sharing technical information while expanding its coverage through the DoDropIn web conference to include Hams from across the country. And, our youth operators gained experience in net control operations via the weekly NFARL Youth Net.
- NFARL moved to a new meeting location in June at the Alpharetta Adult Activity Center. The new facility provided more room for our growing club and facilities to accommodate VE testing and other club activities.
- Pre-meeting Show and Tell became a regular event at the monthly club meetings. Themes ranged from Vintage CW and AM Rigs to Electrical Circuit & Gadgets to Favorite QSL Cards to Kit-Build SIG Results to Mobile Rig Installations to a Ham Garage Sale and much more.
- HamCrams were a focus for training new Hams and upgrading veteran Hams. A Technician HamCram in May introduced 20 new Hams to the hobby of which about 1/3 were youth! A follow-on General HamCram in August resulted in upgraded licenses for about 18 Hams.
- To encourage our members to upgrade their licenses, Vern, W8BLA conducted quarterly VE test sessions that resulted in over 100 new and upgraded licenses.
- At the July meeting we heard from Jim, W4QO and Mack, W4AX about their visit to “Ham Radio 2010 from Friedrichshafen”, the major European hamfest. In August Bob Mantell, K4ESA treated the club to “VHF / UHF for Beginners” (aka “VHF and UHF Are Not Just For Repeaters”). And, in September Mike, W5JR shared his wealth of mobile knowledge in a program titled “Mobile Rig Installation”.
- Mid-Month-Madness events kept thing interesting between monthly meetings. Undoubtedly the most memorable was NFARL Day with the Atlanta Braves sponsored by Bob, KI4GHT. Nearly 50 NFARL members and their families joined in a great day at the park.
- Hams Helping Hams continued to be the hallmark of NFARL. From hanging antennas to fixing broken rigs to coaching a new Ham on operating techniques to teaching SIG classes to sharing contesting or DX skills to much, much more, NFARL Hams helped other Hams. The NFARL Mentor / Elmer program was enhanced with thirteen additional volunteers joining the ranks.
- Youth took on a much larger role at NFARL in 2010. Youth Night at NFARL in February with Jim and Shelly was followed by Youth Night in October. This very special program was presented by Edward, KJ4NRN, Chris, WA4YG and Frances, AJ4JQ. Their presentation, poise and humor were outstanding and made a lasting impression on the entire club.
- NFARL enjoyed a close and supportive relationship with the NFARES organization. In addition to regular monthly activities more than 30 NFARL members provided support for the October Simulated Emergency Test (SET).
- NFARL members made sure the public was aware of Ham Radio. Our Sidewalk Radio booth at Roswell’s Alive After Five events drew continuous crowds and attracted quite a few youth. NFARL members provided communications for a variety of public events throughout the year. And, Field Day provided a venue to invite public officials and the media to see and experience the value of Ham Radio.
- HamJam 2010 was the premier interclub event for Ham radio in the Atlanta area. Organized by Mack, W4AX, the event feature Joe Taylor, K1JT a Nobel laureate speaking on Weak Signal Modes, Ward Silver, N0AX speaking on New Contesting Ideas and Hal Kennedy, N4GG demonstrating his Blue Lightning spark gap rig. The event received national attention in several publications.
- The club wrapped up the year with a fabulous holiday party at the Alpharetta Adult Activity Center catered by Oscars Villa Capri restaurant and hosted by an amazing group of NFARL volunteers.