April 2020

Update #1: Our first online club meeting, held on Tuesday, April 21, was a great success. We had 40 attendees, including one from North Carolina, and another from Perth, Western Australia. The fame of PART is worldwide! Club member Bryan, KE4NTU, made a presentation about the activities of the Massachusetts National Guard during the current Coronavirus pandemic, and Bob, W1IS, enlightened us on the relationship of the speed of light to antenna length.
Thanks to a lot of hard work by Terry, KA8SCP, the three WB1GOF repeaters now have new antennas and feedlines. During the week of April 13, Terry installed the antennas on the new Westford water tower on Prospect Hill. The results have been amazing. Club members who could barely make the repeater from their home QTH with a base station are now full quieting with a handheld, and I’ve heard stations from as far away as Fall River check in with S9 signals. We’re interested in locations and signal reports for the new antennas so we can measure their effectiveness; you can report to Terry at repeater@WB1GOF.org, or better yet, report to Terry directly on the repeater. Be sure to thank him for all he’s done for the club!

As many clubs are doing because of “social distancing” rules, we’ll be holding our next monthly club meeting on a video conference. The club board evaluated three systems for this conference: Jitsi, Zoom, and Webex, and we decided to use Webex because of its superior security. I’ll be sending an invitation for the conference a few days in advance via our Groups.io mailing list, and the invitation will have a clickable link and password. All you should need to do to join the conference is click on the link in the email and, depending on your computer, possibly enter the password. If you don’t have a computer, or are mobile, you can access the conference by a phone number and password. Remember too, that you must be on our Groups.io mailing list to get the invitation, so if you’re not on the list, see the instructions on the homepage of this website.

Many events are canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus: the Boston Marathon, the Westford Apple Blossom Parade, and the Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) championships that were to be held in the Boston area. Field Day will be held as scheduled in late June, but at this time we’re unsure of what the format will be. In the (unlikely) event that social distancing rules are lifted, we’ll hold our Field Day as we did last year, at the Concord Rod & Gun Club. It’s more probable that we’ll be holding Field Day from our individual home stations; I’m waiting for guidance from ARRL on what they plan to do. If you do operate from home, this could be the chance of a lifetime to do some memorable operating — achieving Worked All States might be an attainable goal! As long as you’re stuck at home, use the time to tune your antennas and get ready for some fun on June 27-28.

Another activity you might want to try at home is the semi-annual ARRL Frequency Measuring Test (FMT) at 10:00 PM (Local time) on April 23. In this event the object is to precisely measure the frequencies of two signals on 80 meters and 40 meters to within one hertz. Instructions are at fmt.arrl.org and www.k5cm.com.

March 2020

It looks like the country will be dealing with Coronavirus issues for at least two or three months, so here’s how I see the effects on PART:
  • The March meeting is canceled. It’s too soon to say whether the April or even May meetings will be held, so consult the WB1GOF.org website frequently; the latest news will always be posted there. We’re dependent on the Cameron Senior Center’s status for our meetings; they’ve already reduced their meeting capacity and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they stop hosting any group events.
  • Similarly, we’re dependent on Paul’s Diner and the Owl Diner for our breakfast meetings. I’ll check with Paul’s before the next monthly breakfast is scheduled and put a notice on our website about the status.
  • Some things are not affected at all: Fox Hunts are starting up as usual, and all the periodic nets (ARES, D-Star, and PART) meet as before. These nets are now very important; in lieu of meetings, they are the only way we’ll stay in regular contact. Field Day planning is continuing.
I encourage all PART members to monitor the WB1GOF repeater as much as possible. The opportunities for many of us to socialize outside our homes may be limited in the upcoming weeks, and some may be in voluntary (or even involuntary) quarantine. If you need help, or just want to talk to someone, give a call on the repeater and see who’s there.

As I noted above, the WB1GOF.org website will be kept up to date with club news. If you have items of interest for the club, email them to me and I’ll post them on the site. Other sites where you can get ham-related local news include:
  • The ARRL Eastern Massachusetts (EMA) website at http://ema.arrl.org. This site is updated often, sometimes several times a day, and has a lot of information about local club and community activities. From the homepage, you can go to sections on emergency communications (ARES), public service, NTS, and latest news. If you haven’t been to this site before, I think you’ll add it to your bookmarks.
  • A link on the ARRL EMA website is now devoted to COVID-19 response. Click on the blue square in the upper right corner of the EMA site to see what all the local clubs are doing.
  • Our EMA section manager, Tom, K1TW, publishes a newsletter at: http://www.arrl.org/Groups/view/eastern-massachusetts. This site provides a monthly summary of activities in our section.
For the time being, the Sunday night PART net is going to substitute for our monthly meeting. After the check-ins, we can discuss club business and even have slide shows; slides can be posted in a section of the WB1GOF.org website for viewing during the meeting.

Coping with the epidemic is going to be a challenge for the community and the nation, but challenges like this are what ham radio is for. Let’s do this together. Be creative and send your suggestions to the club.

George, K1IG
PART President

February 2020

PART held Winter Field Day for the first time on January 25-26, and in spite of threatening weather forecasts, it turned out to be an enjoyable event. Our site was at the Westford Sportsman’s Club in Westford, and Brian, W1BP, took the lead to set it up, providing the tent (with a heater!), an Icom IC-7300, a generator, and even a pot of stew!. We used one of the 80-10 meter off-center-fed dipoles from summer Field Day which loaded up on all bands, and we operated on phone, CW, and JS8-Call with the single rig. Eleven PART members and one non-ham showed up to operate the station — we made 158 contacts and with many bonus points, claimed a score of 7,508. There will be a full report at the January PART meeting.


The photo above shows three of our intrepid Winter Field Day attendees: Niece, KA1ULN, Frank, KC1HSC, and John, WB2OSZ, at the WFD site.

I’d like to thank Brian for taking the initiative on this very successful event. With the experience we gained this year and the many lessons learned, next year’s Winter Field Day should be even better, so mark your calendars now for the third week in January 2021.

And speaking of Field Day, the Concord Rod & Gun Club has offered to host us for Summer Field Day 2020, June 27 - 28. This has always been a great site for us, with plenty of room (and trees) for our stations and antennas. We'll be talking more about Field Day at upcoming meetings.

If you’re reading this, you can see that we’ve rolled out a new PART website. We’re trying to make this as useful and informative as possible, so take a look around at the various pages and tabs, and let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement. Any club member can submit text for this blog; if you’ve had a ham radio adventure that you want to tell the club about, send it to me via email.

We're also making a transition to Groups.io for club email and notifications. Groups.io gives us a lot of capability to manage email to members, and additionally provides space for files, photos, and even a wiki. Signing up and using the system is easy:

1. If you are already a user of
Groups.io, go to: https://groups.io/g/PARTofWestford and request to join our group.

2. If you are not a
Groups.io user, you’ll need to register (it’s free). Go to Groups.io and hit “Sign Up” in the upper right corner. You’ll then be sent to a page to enter your email address and select a password. After you’ve been notified by email that you’re registered, go to https://groups.io/g/PARTofWestford and request to sign up to our site.

Once you’ve registered on our site, I’ll get a notification for approval. The site is “semi-moderated” your first posting must be approved by me; after that you can post without my intervention.

We’ll still be using the PART-L mailing list while members are registering for the new system.

73, George K1IG
PART President

January 2020

Before starting off the new year, there’s some business to take care of from last year – thanking Chauncey, K1OPE, for arranging the annual holiday party at Il Forno in Littleton. We had a very good turnout, and as usual, the Yankee Swap, emceed by Alan, KD1D, was the highlight of the night. If you’ve got any comments or feedback on the event or the location, let Chauncey or me know.

So, the new year has arrived… did you make any ham-related resolutions? This hobby is so vast that there is always something new you can resolve to do. For example:
  • Try operating in a contest. Every week, there are probably seven or eight on-the-air contests that you can enter with no experience and pick up a few new and rare contacts. Contesting isn’t difficult; as with anything new, the first contact is always the hardest – after that it’s addictive. See the listing at https://www.contestcalendar.com/index.html for a complete schedule of the year’s events.
  • Volunteer for a public service event. April’s Boston Marathon is, of course, the major public service event and it needs hundreds of volunteer hams on the route, but there are local events as well that are looking for hams. The Apple Blossom Parade in Westford in May is a fun event and the Pumpkin Patrol on Halloween can use some volunteers too. Keep these dates in mind as you plan your schedule for the year.
  • When the weather gets warmer, the fox hunting season will start. PART has many avid hunters who can provide spare equipment to get you started in this outdoor sport.
  • PART is always looking for meeting speakers. Is there a project you’ve been working on, or some special expertise you want to share with the club? It needn’t be technical, and even a ten or fifteen-minute presentation is welcome. Contact Greg, N1DAM, or me if you want to discuss an idea.
PART is trying something new this year that we’ll need helpers for: Winter Field Day (WFD), to be held on January 25-26. Brian, W1BP, is setting up a station for WFD at the Westford Sportsman’s Club, 80 West Street, Westford, and he’s looking for operators. With only a single station, this is not going to be nearly as large as summer Field Day, and weather considerations will require flexibility in operating. Brian will describe the event at the January PART meeting.

This should be a good year for PART, and there are rumors that sunspots are finally starting to appear, so warm up your transceiver and get on the air. Don’t let those sunspots go to waste!

73, George K1IG
PART President