Special Event Operations and Membership Signal Exposure and Growth
If numbers are any indication - and they usually are - awareness of The American Legion's Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) is gaining traction in the amateur world. On Sunday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – five operators stayed busy at National Headquarters in the daylong Special Event (SE) operation. Signal conditions were good and allowed near-constant communication between HQ and TALARC members, and other amateur operators across the Nation and up into Canada.
More than 200 entries went into K9TAL's logbook, and we are well into fulfilling nearly that number of QSL cards. Among our contacts were more than a couple of Legion post stations that were set up just for this SE. That's encouraging, since local operations draw attention to the work of the Legion and existence of its radio club. Our thanks to all who participated.
If you reached K9TAL during the event, be sure to send a SASE to The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, The American Legion National HQS, 700 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204, Attn: J. March - and we will forward a QSL card confirming your contact. And if you have photos of your activities, during the Veterans Day event OR ANY OTHER TIME, send them to us and we will post them on the K9TAL website. As much as possible, "brand" your photos with the Legion emblem or name in the picture so there's no mistaking that the event is a Legion-sponsored activity.
While most of the Special Event communication was HF, we realized a slight increase in the number of UHF contacts, up just a bit from our Legion Birthday Special Event operation in March. It would seem that there are a number of technicians, probably a few novices yet, who cannot access HF. TALARC members who are familiar with IRLP could do a great service to the club by aiding other members in their locale who aren't aware of IRLP availability and how to access it. Greater use of IRLP, particularly for our monthly NET operations, could bring the "HF-challenged" operators into closer contact with the rest of us.
By the way, club officers are planning the next Special Event Station for the Legion Birthday in mid-March 2013. We will be transmitting that day with the Special Call-sign N9L. More information will be made available as we draw closer to the day, but you might want to put it on your calendar now.
Another indication of the club's exposure and growth is evidenced in its membership. It appears that the Veterans Day Special Event operations generated a surge in club interest, and in the days following the SE, TALARC went over the top in membership. We are now a club of more than 1,000 members, and we have room for growth! And one way to grow membership, particularly at the local level, is to develop a training team within your group to conduct Tech License classes at the post for Legion members interested in becoming a licensed amateur radio operator. As we move into 2013, here are a few other ideas for your local club to latch on to:
• Set up a TALARC station at your post for the Legion Birthday Special Event, March 15-17, 2013
• Introduce amateur radio to your local Boy Scout troop or other youth programs in your community
• Conduct a Disaster Preparedness Day in September [National Disaster Preparedness Month] with an operating amateur station as part of an event that includes local police and fire department exhibits. If the task of hosting such an event seems daunting, then look for what may already exist in your community and consider becoming party to it. And whether you do it for or with others, be sure that everyone knows you are part of the Legion's Amateur Radio Club by wearing your Legion cap, your TALARC shirt or pin, or other Legion-distinct items during the entire event.
Keeping with the established second-Saturday schedule for monthly nets, TALARC will conduct its next nets this Saturday, Dec. 8. We will be at, or about, 14.310 MHz for the HF net with operations commencing at 1800Z [1:00 PM EST]; and the UHF net will operate on the IRLP Reflector node 9205 at 1900Z [2:00 PM EST].
For information on IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project) and how to connect to the Crossroads Reflector, visit http://www.irlp.net/guidelines.html  for more information. Haven't tried IRLP yet? Give it a try – it's loads of fun reaching across the country with a handheld, and the "propagation" is always 5-9!
Mention of TALARC shirts and pins was made above. If you haven't looked into obtaining these items, then visit the Legion's Emblem Sales website at http://emblem.legion.org . Search, by description, "amateur radio club."
As we move toward the holiday season, please know that all of us at TALARC National Headquarters wish all of you and your families and friends the most blessed of times and a most prosperous new year.
Marty – W9WMJ