September 15, 2011
In a span of about four months, the idea of an American Legion Amateur Radio Club has gone from casual discussion to an authorized program of the Legion. Interest in the club has taken off quicker, and with a wider appeal to a greater number of hams, than was initially expected. This is exciting and encouraging, and it has a good number of club members wondering when we are going to throw the switch here at National Headquarters and go on the air. From the initial approval for the club by the National Executive Committee in May, the plan was to be up and operating by Veterans Day, perhaps before. That is still the plan, but actuality may push the date just a bit farther out.
For those wanting to know, here is an update on where things are, what has been accomplished, and what yet needs to be done between now and when K9TAL goes on the air.
The first task after the club's authorization was received was to find a suitable location within the building of National Headquarters, at 700 North Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis. That wasn't too difficult. There was a darkroom in the basement that for years had gone totally unused as a result of the digital technology now employed in our print communications. After clearing the old equipment and photographic odds and ends from the room, it was simply a matter of searching through the HQ storeroom of "gently used" furniture and fixtures for tables, chairs, lighting and the little things that will make the area comfortable and secure. Those items have been identified, and are ready to take their place in the HQ hamshack as soon as it gets a coat of paint and carpeting.
On the roof are two spanking new antennae: a dipole and a vertical. Getting them in place was the easy part. Running the antenna cable was a bit more challenging. The HQ building is 60 years old; built during a period when there was no scrimping or corner-cutting of materials. It is a solid structure, erected from Indiana limestone with floors and walls that are 18-inch-thick challenges to a drill bit. The wiring chaseway from the roof to the basement, of 1950s vintage and once open and easy to access, is now packed with computer-related cables and wiring. This was another challenge, but one well handled by the HQ maintenance crew, who have strung 600 feet of cable down five floors from roof to basement. The HQ building, by the way, gives good height to the antennae and is expected to provide a fairly unobstructed transmitting field all around.
As for equipment: well, I have to say that a number of you came through five-by in the appeal for help in this area. We have, all ready to go, Kenwood TS-440 and TS-450 transceivers with an Ameritron AL-811H amplifier and, on the VHF/UHF side, a new Yaesu FT-8800 with power supply. We can't say enough thank-yous to our members who have so generously donated to the club. Thank you, thank you and thank you.
By what's noted here, you can see that we are advancing. Not as quickly and, in some cases, not as smoothly as we at HQ had first expected. But we are moving forward. Please bear with us.
Right now, all the planning, preparation and execution is being done by HQ staff, who have responsibilities that place them on the road for extended periods or require their immediate attention to critical matters that come daily in the operation of the corporation we know as The American Legion. Add to this the fact that the period from August to October – with the national convention, several major national conferences here and in Washington, and the Fall Meetings of the national commissions and the National Executive Committee – has the HQ members of the club going in many different directions. But know too that we all have our sights set on visiting with all of you via the radio waves. Stand by. We'll be tuning up soon.
Marty Justis, W9WMJ