Club logo.  A red circle containing a green map of the state of Virginia, the ARRL logo, and the text "Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Richmond, Virginia U.S.A."

Richmond Amateur
Telecommunications Society

W4RAT ยท Richmond, Virginia
Serving Central Virginia Since 1972



Upcoming Events

  • RATS Weekly Club Net: Wednesdays at 7 PM on the 146.88 repeater

Next Meeting

  • Third Friday of each month at 7:30 PM, via Zoom.
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  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    The monthly RATS Membership Meeting is this Friday, February 16 at 7:30 PM on Zoom.  All are welcome; you do not need to be a RATS member to attend our meetings.

    Minutes for the last RATS meeting (January 19) have been posted to rats.net/minutes for membership review and approval at this week's meeting.

    This month, we will have two special guest presentations.  Gordon Miller NQ4K of the Sterling Park Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) will be speaking briefly about the upcoming Virginia QSO Party.  Then, Kevin Behn K0KLB of Ham Radio QRP - K0KLB on YouTube will join us to talk about QRP (low-power) operation.

  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    The 2024 Virginia QSO Party will take place the weekend of March 16 & 17.

    VAQP is designed to promote amateur radio activity in Virginia's 95 counties and 38 independent cities.  This contest offers an abundance of certificates and plaques for operators of all skill levels and capabilities.  RATS has sponsored the Single Operator VHF Only plaque for many years.

    You'll find the full contest rules here.  Here's an excerpt with the key points from the rules as currently published (2/10/2024):

    • Virginia stations work all stations. Out-of-State stations work Virginia stations only.
    • Work fixed stations once per band/mode.
    • Work Virginia Expeditions, Rovers, and Mobiles in each Virginia County or Independent City from which they operate.
    • Stations on County or Independent City lines count as one QSO and one County/Independent City multiplier.
    • Mobile, Rover, and Expedition stations must use appropriate suffix in call sign.
    • Satellite contacts allowed.
    • No cross-mode or repeater QSO's.
    • Spotting nets, DX clusters, etc., may be used to locate other stations.
    • Self-spotting permitted.

    This year, we plan to put a radio or two on the air at Laurel Park in Henrico County.  We're in the process of finalizing our reservation for the same shelter we use for Summer Field Day every year.  We hope you can join us on the air or at the park.

    As usual we'll be looking for a few volunteers to help with equipment transport, set-up, and tear-down.

    Find out more at our February and March membership meetings.

  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Rob Marshall KI4MCW reports, "We're all submitted.  Claimed score is 3292, including bonus points for outdoor setup, multiple antenna setup, and for setting up away from home.  We had 21 CW contacts and 214 phone contacts, from 47 different states and provinces and 4 different DX entities.  Bragging rights go to Mike KM4WSA, who had the most contacts (81)."

    Here's a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out to Pocahontas State Park, and especially the folks who helped lug equipment to and from storage, put antennas in the air, or donated to this event.

    THANK YOU Scott Avery AD4SA, Bill Catogni N4WLC, David Kleinholtz KO4RNT, Wayne Scarberry K9WVU, and our cash donors for your generous support of Winter Field Day 2024.  Donations covered over 100% of the $763 cost for cabin rental, portable toilet rental, food/beverage, and other expenses.

    Dues pay the bills, donations help make the big activities happen.  If you'd like to throw a few extra bucks in the pot, go to rats.net/donate.

  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    The National Weather Service Wakefield WFO will offer Basic SKYWARN Spotter Training on Thursday, February 29 at 6:30 PM, at the Ashcake Volunteer Rescue Squad, 8375 New Ashcake Road in Mechanicsville.  Seats are limited and pre-registration is required.  To sign up, register here.

    Spotter training is offered at various locations around the Wakefield CWA each year.  Training is good for three years and may be renewed by taking either a Basic or Advanced Spotter class.

    The RATS 146.88 machine is the primary SKYWARN repeater for central Virginia.  When severe weather threatens our region, volunteers from the NWS Wakefield SKYWARN Amateur Radio Support Team (WX4AKQ) may activate a net to collect reports from spotters.  For more information on the SKYWARN program, see rats.net/skywarn.

  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Traveling?  Away from a radio?  Curious what's happening on C4FM/WIRES-X or DMR but don't have the right equipment?  You can once again listen to the RATS repeaters from anywhere, 24/7/365.  Internet streaming has been restored.  The 146.88 and 442.55 repeaters are live now, and the DMR repeater will be added soon.  For information and links, visit rats.net/streaming

  • 10 Feb 2024 6:13 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Richmond Amateur Radio Club is offering license classes for all three levels, plus some skills seminars featuring topics like antenna modeling, D-STAR setup, radiosport and contesting, remote station setup and operation, and "Station Setup 101."

    If you see something that interests you, we encourage you to sign up early!  RARC's high quality educational programs can fill up fast.

    You'll find their schedule and registration links here.

  • 6 Feb 2024 8:51 AM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Members who have signed up to volunteer on the club's new Elmer Program should have received an invitation to a kick-off meeting tonight (February 6) via Zoom.  If you need a re-send, contact Nathaniel Wooley W1OLE.

    The RATS Elmer Program will be a multi-faceted program that includes several educational and technical assistance resources for new and upgraded hams, proactive outreach to new licensees, online resources and reference materials, and a technical "help desk" e-mail address.  Services are available to all RATS members and selected new and recently upgraded licensees in central Virginia.  Around a dozen RATS members with various areas of expertise have offered up their knowledge and experience for this program, and we look forward to offering this service to the community.

    The RATS Board of Directors will hold its monthly business meeting Wednesday night (February 7) at 6:30 PM via Zoom.  All RATS members are welcome to attend.  Club members can find draft minutes and video from last month's Board meeting here.

  • 21 Jan 2024 4:00 PM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    The Page Valley Amateur Radio Club will be hosting a hamfest on Saturday, February 17 at the Elkton VFW Post, 13958 Spotswood Trail in Elkton, Virginia.  That's on US 33, just across the mountains on your way to Harrisonburg, around an hour and a half northwest of Richmond.

    Parking is free, admission is $5, and tables are available for $15 in advance or $20 at the door.  Setup starts at 6:30 AM, doors open at 7:00, and the show runs until 2 PM.  Tailgating is allowed with a suggested $5 donation.

    A QSL card checker will be on site.  Hourly raffle prizes start at 9 AM with a grand prize drawing at noon.  This is a handicap-accessible event.  Overflow parking and shuttle services are provided.  Refreshments available.  Talk-in will be on on the N4YSA 146.625 repeater, negative offset, PL 131.8.

    For more information or to purchase a table, see the contact details in this flyer.

  • 20 Jan 2024 8:48 AM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Updated 10:15 AM 1/28/2024:  The plan was to wrap up around 10 AM this morning, so unless a bunch of visitors showed up just before 10, they ought to be packing things up right about now.  Thank you to everyone who participated, and especially those who helped make this event possible through setup/tear-down assistance, donations, and other support.

    Our next club activity will probably be the Virginia QSO Party in mid-March.  RATS is once again sponsoring one of the VHF plaques for that contest.  Gordon Miller NQ4K of the Sterling Park Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) will give a brief presentation on the VAQP at the February RATS membership meeting on 2/16/2024.  We hope to see you there.

    __________________________________

    RATS POTA+Winter Field Day 2024 will be located at the Appamatuck Cabins at Pocahontas State Park January 26-28.  This is a great opportunity to visit with your fellow club members, eat some good food, and play on the radio.  We'll have at least two HF stations and several antennas to pick from.  We will be operating from the same cabin we used last year.  An approximate schedule of activities can be found below.

    Follow this link on your desktop or mobile device for a map and directions to the site If the entry station is staffed, let them know you are there for the RATS Winter Field Day event - there is no entry/parking fee for Winter Field Day participants!  Look for the RATS banner.  Talk-in assistance will be available on our 146.88 repeater - call for W4RAT.

    GPS coordinates:  37.377136, -77.566642

    All are welcome to join us.  You do not need to be a member of RATS or even a licensed amateur to participate in this event.

    Here's more information about Parks on the Air (POTA) and Winter Field Day.

    Any questions about our event should be directed to info@rats.net.

    __________________________________________

    Photos taken at POTA/WFD can be e-mailed to kg4peq@rats.net or texted to 804-924-7287 (924-RATS).  The best photos will be saved to the club's photo albums, to be published on this web site.

    __________________________________________

    Approximate schedule of activities

    • Friday 1/26, 9 AM - Tech Committee and other volunteers arrive at the club's storage unit (near Chesterfield Town Center) to help transport equipment and supplies.  If you are available to assist, please contact Jeff Walton KN4SYE.
    • Friday by noon - Arrive at the park to begin POTA setup.
    • Friday by 2 PM - Finish setup and begin operating as a POTA station.
    • Overnight Friday to 2 PM Saturday 1/27 - POTA
    • Saturday 10 AM - VE testing begins.  Administered by CATS/KC4TS.  See their web site for paperwork/ID requirements and fees.
    • Saturday 2 PM - Winter Field Day operations begin.
    • Saturday - TBD/Tentative - Transmitter fox hunt, maybe?  We'll bring the club fox hunt transmitter, you bring the DF gear.
    • Saturday - 6:00-ish? - Dinner.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, water, soft drinks, coffee, and chips will be furnished by the club.
    • Overnight Saturday to 10 AM Sunday 1/28 - Winter Field Day
    • Sunday 10 AM - Tear-down begins.  Winter Field Day technically continues until 2 PM, so if we have a bunch of guests at 10 AM we may stay a little later.  It's unlikely we will still be operational when noon rolls around.  If you plan to visit Sunday, come early!
    • Sunday by 1 PM - Club radio equipment and supplies returned to the club storage unit.

    Got an idea for a fun activity you'd like to see at Winter Field Day?  We'd love to hear your ideas.  Contact info@rats.net with your suggestions.

    __________________________________________

    FAQ

    Can I operate Winter Field Day from home?  Yes.  Refer to the Winter Field Day rules for information.

    What license class do I need?  None!  You may operate the POTA portion of this event under either your personal call sign and license privileges (General or higher), or under the club call sign using your control operator's privileges.  RATS control operators will be on site for the entire event to supervise unlicensed or under-licensed hams.  Winter Field Day activities will take place under the club's call sign and control op (General or Extra Class) privileges.

    Do I have to operate a radio?  No!  You can listen, you help log contacts, you can stand off to the side and watch, or you can ignore the radios altogether while you socialize and graze on snacks.  No pressure!  Even if you just drop by for five minutes to say hello, we'd love to see you.

    Can I visit other areas of the park?  Absolutely.  The cabin rental fee paid by RATS covers park admission/parking fees for all attendees.  Tell the folks at the entry station that you're here for the RATS Winter Field Day event and they'll wave you through.  Come see us for a bit, and the rest of the park is yours to enjoy for the day.

    Can I stay overnight?  Yes.  There are several small cabins available to us within walking distance of the main POTA/WFD event.  These cabins are cold, a little drafty, and they're not designed to hold heat very well.  However, if you have a warm sleeping bag, maybe an electric blanket, small space heater, etc., you might be OK.  Contact info@rats.net for more information.

    Is this a rain-or-shine event?  Yes.  We may suspend radio operations during any periods of severe weather (which are not expected at this time) but we will be indoors.  Rain or shine, we'll be there.

    Are there restroom facilities?  The club has rented a portable toilet which will be available near the main POTA+WFD area.

    How can I support this event?  Show up.  You can also help move equipment to/from storage, or make a donation to offset the club's expenses relating to this activity.  Our major expenses are cabin rental (around $370), the portable toilet ($175), and food/beverage.  You can drop a few bucks in our donation bucket, or donate online.

  • 20 Jan 2024 8:00 AM | Steven Crow (Administrator)

    Your RATS repeater team would like to remind all operators to treat our repeaters as a shared resource.  When engaged in any conversation on a repeater:

    1.  Leave enough space between each transmission to allow another station to join the conversation or make an emergency call.  Pause at least three to four seconds before responding (includes repeater hang time).  Responding too quickly ("quick-keying") monopolizes access to the repeater and is contrary to the spirit of a shared system.  If you wish to join a conversation, simply announce your call sign in-between transmissions.  Do not use the word "break" to interrupt a QSO on amateur repeaters unless there is an emergency.

    2.  Establish a rotation and stick to it.  A common approach is to go in order by first name.  Minimize deviations from the rotation and restore the normal flow as quickly as possible.  As new stations join the conversation, let them know where they land in the rotation.  Know who you're after, and who's after you.  Pass the QSO off to the next user by name.  "Over to you, John."

    3.  Long-winded conversations -- many minutes or even hours long -- are welcome on the RATS repeaters.  Insert additional pauses in your transmission every five to ten minutes and invite others to use the repeater.  They may want to join your conversation, or they may have their own quick calls to make.

    Repeated doubling (transmitting on top of each other) or lots of "let me see if I've got the mic" is a good indicator that someone in the QSO might have bad operating habits.  If enough space is being left between transmissions, a rotation is established, and all users in the QSO stick to it, there should be no doubt who talks next, and doubling should be practically eliminated.

    RATS Control Operators will sometimes intervene in instances where there is severe/repeated doubling, excessive quick-keying, or other discourteous operation.

    RATS wants all users to enjoy their time on our systems.  The club has several resources to help hams operate professionally and courteously on repeaters.

    The RATS Technical Committee is available to answer any questions about our systems.

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Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255
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