1. - EXAM SESSIONS: Many of our older hams can well remember the anxiety and inconvenience they experienced when it was necessary to take their Amateur Radio license exams at an office of the Federal Communications Commission. Fortunately, those days are gone! In 1984, the FCC gave the responsibility for Amateur Radio exam testing to us through the Volunteer Examiner Coordination system. Ham exams are now administered by volunteer hams, and the ARRL is the largest of the Volunteer Exam Coordinators.
On almost any weekend, and sometimes during the middle of the week, you can find exam sessions being conducted close to you. For a modest fee that covers processing the paperwork, you can take your test(s) in an encouraging atmosphere, and if you pass the entry-level “Technician” test and time permitting, you can go right on to the intermediate “General” test at no additional charge! In fact, some people have been known to pass all three exams (variously called “the sweep,” “the trifecta,” or “the hat trick”) and go from zero to “Amateur Extra” in one sitting!
For an up-to-date listing of all the ARRL exam sessions in Roanoke Division country, click HERE.
2. - FIELD DAY: Hams in the USA have done an annual radio communications operating exercise since 1933. We call it “Field Day.” During the last full weekend in June (for 2021: June 26th-27th), Amateur Radio operators in the USA and Canada set up temporary stations, often outdoors, under simulated emergency conditions and attempt to make contact with as many other of the 35,000 or so Field Day participants as possible.
Some Field Day operations emphasize the contesting aspect of the exercise, while some others look upon it as an opportunity to reach out to the larger community (visitors invited!) by providing non-hams with the privilege of taking to the microphone and making some contacts themselves (with assistance and supervision, of course). Still other groups look forward to the fun of spending the weekend away from the ordinary routine. All of us relish the technical challenges of erecting workable antennas, managing radio operations with limited power, and enjoying good food and each others' company. Stations from within Roanoke Division country are consistently among the top ten in the country for points scored!
3 - HAMFESTS: From Richmond, Virginia’s Frostfest, “the Mid-Atlantic’s Largest Hamfest” located in the Capital of the Old South, to South Carolina’s Charleston Hamfest in the beautiful Low Country, to West Virginia’s Hamfest and Convention in Mountaineer Country, to North Carolina’s Shelby Hamfest, “the Grand-Daddy of Them All,” the Roanoke Division enjoys a host of first-class hamfests, along with too many smaller ones to even attempt to mention here!
Each and every one of them provides all of the attributes that make up a great hamfest: Friendly people, good bargains at great prices, fine weather (most of the time!), and locations that offer other opportunities for pleasant fun. Why not take a page from the Orlando, Florida, amateurs: Take a HamCation® and bring the family to one of our events here in Roanoke Division country? We bet you’ll be glad you did!
4 - QSO PARTIES: Unlike the states of Delaware, Rhode Island and Hawaii, where you can use all the fingers, or less, of one hand to represent the number of contacts needed to “work” the entire state, Roanoke Division country’s QSO parties are more challenging! South Carolina has 46 counties, West Virginia has 55, North Carolina has 100, and Virginia has 95 counties and 38 independent cities! So earning a clean sweep of any of our annual state QSO parties will test your mettle as an operator.
Here is information about each Section’s QSO Party including links to the appropriate webpages:
5 - LIGHTHOUSES ON THE AIR: Lighthouses, those brave, stately structures, are a treasured part of each state here in Roanoke Division country. (Yes, even West Virginia has a lighthouse!) And sometimes, ham radio operators set up temporary stations at them and make contacts during the “International Lighthouse - Lightship” event, August 21st-22nd, 2021. Click HERE to visit our Roanoke Division Lighthouses photo album.
6 - MUSEUM SHIPS ON THE AIR: Three of the four Sections within Roanoke Division country have them: The battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington NC, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Charleston SC, and the battleship USS Wisconsin in Norfolk VA often participate, among others. More information can be found HERE on the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station’s website. Click HERE to visit our Roanoke Division Museum Ships photo album.
7 - SUMMITS ON THE AIR: Roanoke Division country is blessed with high places from which to operate. North Carolina boasts Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Virginia has Skyline Drive and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway with its many towering points, as does South Carolina. And, of course, there’s a good reason why West Virginia is the home of the Mountaineers. HERE you can find more information about ham radio and mountaintopping. Look for the North America section and see the Carolinas (W4C), Virginia (W4V), and West Virginia (W8V).
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