Christmas RARC Gathering 2019
December 13 , 2019
Old West Steakhouse , Union City, TN
The Reelfoot Amateur Radio Club once again chose the Old West Steakhouse in Union City, TN as the site for the club's annual Christmas holiday gathering. The weather this year was much better than last year when we had icy conditions that forced an 11th hour rescheduling. This year was chilly but tolerable as is usually the case for this time of year.
The establishment at Old West Steakhouse had the back room reserved for our party and we filled it up this year ! The food was outstanding and our servers did an excellent job.
We had an outstanding turnout - Jamie WB4YDL, RARC President and XYL June; Hannah KK4SJF, RARC Vice-President and Steve KK4NNH with son Samuel KK4SJE on leave with the US Air Force; Noel KJ4UNX , RARC Secretary-Treasurer and XYL Laura; Gene K4MUN and XYL Pam from Bardwell, KY; Harrell WD4LAR and XYL Carrie; Phillip N4PWG; Glenn N4MJ and XYL Linda; Michael AK4VU and his guest, Peggy; Randall KN4OPZ and XYL Judy; Dennis KN4LFL; Matt KG4LIO; Ray N4SLY and Dolly KN4SLY; Jeff W5VNH and Diana; and Bob K9IL with Rose W9DHD.
As is traditional for this event, Bob K9IL and Rose W9DHD provided exquisite door prizes constructed with great care and over considerable time. There were sleighs filled with goodies, snowmen, and a very pretty nativity set. Also there were several mugs and cups filled with treats either for the winner or for Santa ! The artistic craftsmanship is truly remarkable and certainly adds to the festive occasion.
No formal business was undertaken for this "meeting" - just fun, food, and camaraderie ! The food was indeed excellent and almost everyone partook in the buffet. There was quite a selection of meat and fish and even frog legs. Very nice ! There was also several impressive desserts if you had room left for them.
The year 2019 was an interesting year for Reelfoot Amateur Radio Club. The RARC officers changed to include a new president, Jamie WB4YDL and vice-president, Hannah, KK4SJF. Noel KJ4UNX was re-elected as secretary-treasurer.
On air activities were a bit slow as we are now at the bottom of the 11 year sunspot cycle. Many members have found other elements of the hobby to keep themselves busy during these slow times. Jamie WB4YDL has been spending a lot of time doing bench work as the "boat anchor" restoration bug has bitten. He has also been working with computer items for the shack or portable operations such as his portable satellite antenna system powered by Arduino. This was demonstrated at a club meeting earlier in the year. Others find time to chase stations in brief "fox hunts" or chase DX when the bands allow. Newer hams are getting their stations together and raising antennas. The newer digital modes such as FT8 are certainly maintaining the excitement level particularly with these newer hams.
ARES activity with Harrell WD4LAR as Obion County Emergency Coordinator has been steady and he has been the primary giver of the "ARES Minute" on the Sunday evening nets. Jamie WB4YDL has been the Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator (ASEC) for West TN and will be stepping down at the end of this year after 20 years in ARES leadership. Bobby Richardson W4NWT has done an outstanding job as District Emergency Coordinator for District 2. There will be a changing of the guard at the first of the year as the TN Section just elected a new Section Manager to succeed Keith Miller N9DGK after his 8 years of outstanding leadership. The new SM's name is David Thomas KM4NYI from Knoxville and it is expected that he will assign a new Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC).
The 12th annual Ides of March Hamfest saw good attendance with decent weather conditions and great door prizes. Actually, the attendance has been steadily climbing and this has attracted potential new vendors such as West Mountain Radio ! A new vendor did attend this years hamfest, Walker Communications from Madisonville, KY. Returning vendors were again welcomed - CT Morgan and Associates from Chattanooga, TN, TN07 Engineering out of Eagleville, TN, and of course, JMR Sales from Altoona, AL. The sound system issues from previous hamfests has been upgraded and much improved thanks to Nathan Spencer KM4ZYM's great help. Lots of interesting new ideas are on the table to make the 13th edition even better !
The annual Field Day operating event took place once again on the last full weekend of June. To say the weather conditions were erratic would be a huge understatement ! The usual hot humid conditions were replaced by severe wind storms with some rain - but mostly wind. Lots of it !! It nearly took out one of our main antennas and we finally elected to deploy it at reduced height to be on the safe side. Things moderated a bit and we had a very nice visit from the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter which landed at the Field Day site ! We also had the largest VE test session in our Field Day history. The configuration was changed for the stations so that more participation could be realized. The stations were networked and the three radios were configured for all modes rather than a singular mode. They were assigned certain bands instead of just modes. This allowed operators to operate on each of the three HF radios (not counting the GOTA or VHF stations). Our scores this year were almost identical to last year - 5300 points instead of 5500 points - and we placed nearly the same as last year - 2nd in TN class 3A and 41st nationally in class 3A. Participation needs to improve if we are to do better this next year.
As this year 2019 winds down and with the promise of not only a new year, but a new decade, several challenges will be met. The next Ides of March Hamfest will soon be upon us - the last Saturday of March, the 28th. Great prizes have already been obtained and we need to be sure of our vendors attendance and take care of them. Field Day will always be the largest operating event, rain (wind) or shine ! There will be improvements to hopefully fortify the antennas against any weather damage. Obviously, we need better participation. The station setup has been changed to hopefully increase the "fun factor" ! Each monthly meeting will have a (hopefully) informative presentation as there are always things to learn whether you are a newcomer or old timer. For 2020, we hope to see new members and excitement for club activities and continued participation and good health for all our members.
The next regular scheduled RARC meeting will be on January 23, 2020 at the Obion County Public Library in Union City, TN. The Net Control Station and Refreshment assignments will soon be posted. Until next time ...
Have a Very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Good DX!