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



Get Involved

Many hams enjoy donating their time and communication skills to various public service events through the year such as bike rides, marathons, and other community activities.  Listen for announcements and calls for volunteers on our weekly club nets, on this web site, and at our membership meetings.

Public Service

Here are a few of the events we have supported in recent years:

For most of these activities, all you need is a fully-charged HT and a spare battery or two.  First-time volunteers are welcome.

Emergency Communications

One important aspect of amateur radio is our service during emergencies.  Here are a few groups active in our area:

  • ARES/RACES - Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service - ARES serves communities at the county/city and regional level and may provide communications for non-emergency community events, preparedness exercises, and emergency response.  RACES may be activated during certain civil emergency situations where regular ham radio operations are suspended.  In Virginia, ARES/RACES is generally a combined operation and members are dual-enrolled in both programs.

  • VDEM-ARCA - Virginia Department of Emergency Management Amateur Radio Communications Auxiliary - ARCA provides amateur radio emergency communications supporting the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the state's Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in Richmond.  During emergencies which threaten communications in any part of the state, ARCA may be activated to provide an amateur radio link between VEOC and the impacted localities, usually with local ARES/RACES volunteers on the other end.  ARCA operates primarily from the Terry Hebert Memorial Radio Room at the Virginia EOC on Midlothian Turnpike.

  • NWS SKYWARN - The National Weather Service SKYWARN program makes extensive use of ham radio volunteers.  SKYWARN is a nationwide network of trained weather spotters who often use ham radio to relay reports of severe weather to their local National Weather Service office.  Those reports are used to aid in real-time decision making for issuance of life-saving warnings.  Our area is served by the NWS Wakefield SKYWARN program.  Wakefield SKYWARN uses a combination of local nets run by net controls scattered thoughout its 66-county territory, and on-site operations at the NWS forecast office in Wakefield, Virginia.  Those on-site operations are occasionally activated if disruptions to regular communications are expected.  Ham radio moves reports from the field to the NWS office by any available means, and periodically serves as a backup communications link between the Wakefield WFO, state and local EOCs, and other NWS offices.

Favorite Activities

Here are some of the more popular activities our members have been involved with over the past couple of years.  You'll often see announcements relating to some of these activities in our club e-mail updates and web site bulletins.  Inquire on a net or at one of our meetings and you're sure to connect with someone else who is doing...

  • POTA - Parks on the Air - Get points for activating or working stations located in POTA-registered locations, mostly state and national parks.

  • SOTA - Summits on the Air - SOTA is an award scheme for radio amateurs that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas.  The mountains of western Virginia offer several SOTA options.

  • VAQP - Virginia QSO Party - Earn points, certificates, and plaques for state-to-state and county-to-county contacts.  This QSO party offers tons of certificates.  RATS sponsors a VHF plaque each year and we occasionally activate a club station for the party.

  • 12 Days of QRZ - This is one of several operating awards offered by QRZ.com.  It offers an award for stations with 12 confirmed contacts in their QRZ.com logbook during a 3-month period each winter.  A few local hams coordinate these contacts among themselves, usually on FM simplex.  Look for details on the RVAHams Slack server.

  • WINTERHEAT - This is a month-long VHF/UHF simplex contest occurring in January of each year.  Look for coordinated meet-ups on the RVAHams Slack #simplex channel.

  • Local nets - There are a bunch of nets in our area that meet throughout the month.  These are a great way to meet other local hams, learn about upcoming activities, and get help with technical questions.

Field Days

ARRL's Field Day (or Summer Field Day) is an annual event that brings amateur radio out into public view, encouraging operations from parks, shopping centers, and other public locations, from home, and from emergency operations centers.  Points are awarded for non-repeater/non-Internet contacts made on HF, VHF, and UHF, and using various modes.  Bonus points are awarded for operation on emergency power, visits from the media and elected officials, and several other categories.  Field Day occurs each year on the last full weekend in June.  RATS normally operates from Laurel Park in Henrico County.  You can learn more about the RATS Field Day here.

Winter Field Day is a newer concept, quite similar to the Summer Field Day, but a lot colder.  For the last few years RATS has operated from Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County.  Winter Field Day is the last full weekend each January.

Watch for Field Day announcements on our web site.


Check out our Get Connected page for links to local clubs and online resources.

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