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Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club

"Discover the magic and comraderie of amateur radio!"


Quick Notes:

  • ARRL Field Day 2017 Site Announced.  Click Here!
  • Winter Field Day Photos.  Click Here!
  • Our next club meeting is Thursday, April 6 @ 7 PM (6 PM for FCC Test Session) at the Red Cross Building on South Access Road near Chickamauga Dam.
  • Digital-Voice Amateur Radio Seminar (Saturday, April 8th, 9 AM – Noon EST, CHI Memorial Hospital, DeSales Campus Downtown)).  Learn more about all digital modes at this free seminar.
  • 2017 Club Dues are due now.  Please download a membership application from this website and complete the form and sign.  You may email to Jim Knight or bring to the next meeting.
  • Even if you are not a member, we encourage you to join our mailing list to be automatically updated on amateur radio events and club meeting.  Join our mailing list at the bottom of this page.
  • The new membership & renewal form is available here.  We encourage you to join our club or renew your membership now.  We strongly encourage membership in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  They are the “voice of amateur radio.”

Icom ID-51A Plus D-STAR Radio

Icom ID-51A Plus D-STAR Radio

The President’s Corner

As the old year passes into history, it’s a good time to reflect on things including the good & the bad, the skinned knees, as well as the happy times and the successes of the year. For each of us that look is very different but I’ve come to believe that a “secret” to staying young at heart and in mind, is to stay engaged with life and especially with people in which you share common interests.  Along with that often comes being exposed to new thinking, new things, and for hams, new technologies, and new contacts.

Many of us are comfortable in our current ham radio practices (“ruts”) and there is nothing wrong with that but as changes come along in our life and particularly with our health, sometimes newer ham radio technologies can help us enjoy our hobby long after we would have had to “hang up our spurs” with traditional radio.  Many hams may choose to move into retirement communities, assisted living facilities, etc. Most of which do not permit the more traditional amateur radio approaches…outside or larger antennas, higher power, cables, etc.  So do you cry “woe is me” and sit in a dark corner lamenting?  I hope not because new technologies can often come to the rescue.

Shark RF Open Spot

Shark RF Open Spot

For instance digital modes like D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, EchoLink, PSK31, JT65, and many more, often require little more than a computer, a tablet or iPad, a smartphone, though they often can work with HTs as well. These modes can operate without exterior antennas, require no large power supplies or amplifiers, and even permit operators with lower license classes to enjoy significantly greater capabilities.  For instance D-STAR, DMR, and Fusion systems permit worldwide communications using their respective networks and now we even have devices that can permit one HT to operate on multiple networks…so you may not even need multiple radios.  Digital technologies can be used by all license class holders and provides Technician Class license holders with substantially more capabilities than with traditional ham radio.

Many of the newer technologies offer the chance to monitor active traffic without a radio. Click Here for to monitor DMR live via Hoseline. Digital technologies also offer the ability to see who is on-line and connected to various digital repeaters and “reflectors”.  Click Here to see D-STAR Reflector 30C’s Dashboard…one of the busiest in the world.  Click Here to view Chattanooga’s own W4PL D-STAR Repeater or D-STAR Reflector 77 also located here.



Yeah, the names of some of these technologies are odd-sounding but guess what…that happens all the time.  I bet the first time you bumped into the terms “SSB” or “PC” you scratched your head a bit.  So don’t get hung up on the names.  So what do hams operating in digital modes talk about?  Answer…the same things they do in any other mode! You may have heard that digital radios require “programming”…yes that’s mostly true.  Now before you back off and say I don’t want to have to learn programming…have no fear. We have many “digital Elmers” that are more than happy to assist you.  We have a very active D-STAR Users Group as well as a new DMR Users Group.  I should also note that a new self-programming radio is now available so how’s that for some neat technology??

Okay, so you don’t have to worry so much about moving into a retirement community or assisted-living at the moment.  Great!  Now think a little more about how digital modes can be even more fun for you now.  Many hams leave their radios at home when they travel but digital modes make it easy to bring them along and use them just as if you were at home.  I take my D-STAR devices on vacation anywhere in the world and talk with friends back home perfectly.

Last summer, my wife & I headed to upper Michigan to Mackinac Island.  The trip mostly followed I-75 and believe me, that is a long stretch of road.  I took my D-STAR radio and DHAP (you can look up that one) was zooming along upper Michigan talking to Roland N4SSA via D-STAR…we never missed a word and with digital radio, I could also use it while sitting on the porch at the Grand Hotel…try that with traditional “boat anchor” (lovingly said) technology…not going to happen.  Roland and Karen KW4SPN (his wife) often travel to Oak Island, NC…guess what their D-STAR devices come along!  No more leaving your hobby at home or missing out of chats with friends back home.

So you ask “don’t digital radios cost a lot more”?  Answer:  Maybe…depends on the type of digital.  Now before you grab your wallet and hold it near your heart, didn’t you pay more for a car with power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning?  Same with digital radios…you can do everything traditional ham radios can do PLUS features only available in digital modes.  “Which digitals are the best”?  Oh, that’s a loaded question…somewhat akin to “which is the best car…a Ford or a Chevy”?  Again digital user groups can help you discern the differences and choose one that’s “right” for you.  Again, with digital a single radio or device can operate in multi-modes so buying a specific brand may not block you from operating on other networks.

So why not make a New Year’s Resolution to explore new avenues in Amateur Radio?  You might find other things you like and new friends to discover.  73’s.

Gary Ownsby, CARC President 2016

Gary Ownsby, CARC President 2017


Gary S. Ownsby AK4ZX
President 2017
CARC Director 2017-2019
ARRL Life Member
Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club

Club Phone:  423-308-3477