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HAMS In Paradise – Fall 2018

HAMS In Paradise – Fall 2018

Wow, hard to believe we’re back in “season”. Here at the peak of hurricane season, the Atlantic looks like a conga-line of storms. The below photo doesn’t show the remnants of hurricane Gordon which has dissipated over CONUS. The seasonal conga line of storms is strewn across the Atlantic like a stormy pearl necklace.

It is hard to believe that one year ago the USVI experienced the rage of Irma & Maria. I look back on the amount of new relief “friends” I have encountered and am humbled. These are people who have come to help the USVI rebuild. FEMA employees, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, US Army, private consultants, linemen, National Park Service, etc. The list goes on-and-on. Some are hams who show up on the local repeater and also at our meetings. The Territory is forever indebted to these individuals and their organizations. They ARE making a HUGE difference!

The USVI is fortunate to be supported by the BILLIONS of federal relief and loan dollars that are pouring into the Territory. The Stafford Act (a disaster funding allocation act allowing only replacement of damaged infrastructure, and the like, to pre-disaster condition), has long been a staple of Federal disaster recovery. Now in certain circumstances, mitigation dollars can be used to improve and harden damaged infrastructure. This is HUGE news for the Territory which has many, many, many maintenance challenges which often come from years of maintenance neglect and fraud.

They say that from bad comes good. I am happy to highlight a couple of good things that happened as a result of the storms. A devastated St. John awoke and realized the value of ham radio. From the tireless efforts of Jennifer Pruss and in coordination with St. John Rescue, the first ham license class yielded 15 new hams, including some from St. Thomas and BVI! Jennifer also passed her Technician and General classes on the first try! Class number two will graduate shortly and many of the students are upgrading from their Technican. Well done Jennifer and new STJ hams!! St. John will now possess a sizeable ham population to assist in future disasters.

The Territory ham repeater network suffered extensive damage. In fact, only a single repeater (NP2VI) remained active in the strom. The 30+ year old discontinued Tait repeater provided hand-held coverage to the helicopter landing zone, and other critical locations. Through one of our new relief friends, who happens to be a ham, we were introduced to a philanthropic opportunity to purchase new repeaters, controllers, link radios, PV panels and batteries. I am happy to say that in the near future the USVI island repeater system will be linked using resilient UHF link radios. The entire system will be powered by PV panels and batteries and will be off grid. Future projects include the addition of Echolink / IRLP on the system, as well as linking to another similar system which has coverage reaching Dominica to the south.

Field Day was a great chance to get out & test our capability to operate from well, the FIELD. Thanks to a great promotional effort spearheaded by Daryl, NP2QD, turnout from supporting local agencies was high. VITEMA, the VI National Guard, St. Croix Rescue, American Red Cross, and a few reporters joined in the activity. Nearly all states & provinces were contacted.

“Class photo” at Cramers Park – STX VITEMA Mobile EOC

Well, the Territory continues to recover and rebuild. Keeping our fingers crossed that none of the conga line comes to visit us this year.

73 – Fred, K9VV / NP2X
Section Manger, USVI Section

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September 9, 20180 commentsRead More
Field Day 2018 Highlights

Field Day 2018 Highlights

Highlights of 2018 Field Day include:

  • 504 QSOs (Phone and CW)
  • 69 of 80 participating ARRL Section QSOs (USA and Canada)
  • 1,606 total points (656 QSOs and 950 bonus)
  • 2 HF stations operated on emergency power – generator
  • 1 VHF station operated on emergency power – generator
  • 40 visitors to our site at Cramer’s Park
  • 15 Licensed Amateur Radio Operators participated
  • 9 Non-Licensed individuals signed up for more information
  • 64 Public Service hours logged
  • 256 ARES hours logged

The A3 and 2M yagi antennas used during Field Day were made available due to the generosity of NP2N/George and facility caretaker Chuck/WA0ROI.

Click here for pictures and more information about Field Day 2018

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August 7, 20180 commentsRead More
Weekly ARES Net will be back on the St. Croix NP2VI Repeater starting on 4/30/2018

Weekly ARES Net will be back on the St. Croix NP2VI Repeater starting on 4/30/2018

Effective Monday, 30 April 2018, the 2000hrs (local), St. Croix ARES net call will once again be conducted on the St. Croix repeater; NP2VI – 147.25 MHz (+) offset; 100 Hz tone. The audio on the repeater has been corrected although there still is a odd noise being made at the end of every transmission.  This repeater provides the widest coverage area for the net and we look forward to your participation!

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April 4, 20180 commentsRead More
ARRL 2017 Hurricane Season After Action Report Features STX ARC activities

ARRL 2017 Hurricane Season After Action Report Features STX ARC activities

The ARRL 2017 Hurricane Season After Action Report has been released and features information on the activities conducted by the St. Croix Amateur Radio Club in response to Hurricane’s Irma and Maria.  The summary is presented on page 8 of the report.  The entire report is 2017 ARRL Hurricane After Action Report, check it out!

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March 6, 20180 commentsRead More
Hams In Paradise – MARCH 2018

Hams In Paradise – MARCH 2018

Welcome to Spring! The long season of “Christmas Winds” seems to have drawn to a close and the temperatures are actually starting to warm up a bit! Warm is a relative term, so for readers not located in the VI, the all-time record lows are: St. Thomas: 52F, St. John: 55F and St. Croix: 57F. Anything below 70F is cold to us. The ocean temps rarely go below 79F, even at 70 to 80 feet below the surface.

While some of our Northern friends might think of these warm temperatures as good, in reality the warm ocean surface temperatures provide fuel for hurricanes when the conditions are right. One interesting fact is that the ocean’s surface temperature will drop some ½ degree Fahrenheit following the passing of a large hurricane! Think of the square MILES of energy this represents, and then it’s not hard to understand how storms can be so strong!!

Speaking of hurricanes, there are not many folks who have experienced a pair of category five hurricanes in a span of just under two weeks. Peak winds in Maria lashed St. Croix with gusts in excess of 200 MPH! Irma devastated St. Thomas & St. John. Little wonder that the territory’s infrastructure suffered immense damage. Ham radio was the only method of communication with St. John for a week following Irma.

On St. Croix some 90-95% of all utility poles were destroyed. Many places in the Territory experienced power outages in excess of 100 days! Landline telephone service still isn’t restored in the majority of businesses, and residences are even farther out on the restoration schedule. In true island spirit, one creative local musician wrote a song called “My Generator” sang to the tune of “My Generation” by The Who. Here’s another creative example of the lengths people would go to have their power restored:

The linemen who came from the States to restore power are folk heroes in the island. Personally, there was no better Christmas present we could have received than having our power restored on Christmas Day. Even some 5 months after the storm, there are still several hundred linemen performing cleanup of the hasty power restoration steeple chase. Thank you linemen!!! You are our true heroes.


In a word propagation has been AWFUL! Smoothed sun spot numbers have hovered near 70, and now frequently dip below 70 with multiple days of zero sunspot sightings. (It’s the sunspots that create the solar winds that excite the atmosphere, which facilitates HF propagation)

The contesters are in the Spring doldrums and fixing their hurricane damaged antenna systems in preparation for the Fall contest season which is right around the corner. The continuance of extremely low solar activity means contesters will have to work harder for DX and contacts.


The St. Croix ARC migrated the domain to a new host service (thanks Sean, WP2SC!) and also a new format – WordPress. We hope you like the new format and will contribute news & other interesting content to keep our website interesting and lively.

The old Yahoo Group which served our reflector needs for several years has been retired in favor of This new service does not require a Yahoo login, which hopefully will bring more folks in touch with our VI ham radio activities.


On the heels of the wildly successful ARRL’s NPOTA & W1AW/* operations comes a new challenge for 2018. The National Grid Chase challenges participants to work as many grid squares in 2018 as possible. The band & mode of QSOs matters not. Just the total number of grids confirmed in the logbook of the world. LoTW. Information is available at

Digital modes have taken the hobby by storm and allow for sub-audible QSOs, thus further increasing our RF ‘reach’ in challenging conditions. Brad, WP2B worked Kuwait (9K2) on 6m JT-65 as well as Western Australia on 80m 1.5 hours BEFORE local sunset. I don’t care how many years you’ve been licensed, that’s pretty cool stuff! Now the FT-8 digital format accounts for 58% of all uploads to ClubLog, a popular online QSO confirmation utility.

Digital mobile radio (DMR), and other digital formats, have also become very popular. Planning is in the early stages to revive the club’s interest in ‘mesh networks’ interest to link a planned intra-island repeater system.

In the aftermath of Irma and Maria, amateurs on all three islands volunteered over 2,200 man-hours of service supporting VITEMA, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, and other Federal & Territorial agencies, both governmental & non-governental. Numerous lives were saved and volumes of critical message traffic was passed on behalf of our supported agencies. The ARRL recognized this effort by both VI & PR hams and subsequently bestowed the annual International Humanitarian Award to those who selfishly gave of themselves during our homeland’s time of need. A HUGE thank you to all who assisted in this worthwhile effort. This is one of the cornerstones of our hobby.


As we look forward, we must prepare both on a personal survivability and communications fronts. Family first certainly applies when preparing for, and in the aftermath, of hurricanes. The better prepared we are personally, the better we can support our served agencies. We continuously analyze our performance and recognize our strengths and also strive to make improvements to fulfill our public service role.

Well, that’s all for now. Stay R A D I O A C T I V E ! !

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March 5, 20180 commentsRead More
Multiple Demonstrations featured at March 2018 meeting of St. Croix Amateur Radio Club

Multiple Demonstrations featured at March 2018 meeting of St. Croix Amateur Radio Club

In addition to the normal discussion, the monthly meeting of the St. Croix Amateur Radio Club that occurred on Saturday March 3 featured three exciting demonstrations to further the knowledge of Ham radio operators in attendance.

Reynaldo Boss, WP2RB brought in several PC power supplies that were converted for HAM radio use.  PC power supplies feature high amperage ratings along with 12v, 5v, and 3.3v DC outputs.  The 12v output is perfect for running VHF rigs while the 5v output can be wired in for USB powered devices.  Reynaldo went through how to short the power connectors to ensure the supply turns on to the colors of the wires and what they mean.  Here is a link to a similar project for anyone interested:–%3E-Lab-Bench-Power-Supply-Conversion/

Chris Millette, NP2EL, demonstrated a 2m Yagi constructed affordably out of pieces of tape measure and PVC pipe.  These kinds  of projects prove especially useful in disaster situations where supplies are limited and you have to make due with what is on hand.  The antenna tuned up nicely as demonstrated on an MFJ-259b antenna analyzer with an SWR of around 1.2.

Bob Wakefield, WP2E did a demonstration on building a cheap HDTV antenna based on an article he found in popular communications located at

Bob Wakefield demonstration

Bob Wakefield, WP2E, demonstrates his EZ HDTV Antenna

Sean Cullinan, WP2SC demonstrated the SharkRF openSpot along with a Baofeng DM5R radio for DMR and an ICOM ID-51A Plus 2 that he uses for DStar.  The demonstration featured a 20,100 Anker power bank, an AT&T phone configured as a mobile hotspot, and a Vonets Wifi-Ethernet Repeater bridge to provide the openSpot with internet connectivity from the phone.  A QSO with a station in Texas was successfully completed on DMR talkgroup 3100 showing how very cheap radios can use this technology to talk not only locally but also globally as long as basic internet infrastructure was present.  The club is going to investigate linking this to Ham Mesh networking in the future.

The St. Croix Amateur Radio club meets monthly starting around noon on the first Saturday of each month at the Deep End Bar and Grill.  If you are interested please join us!  If you would like to join the club annual dues are just $5 giving access to a wealth of knowledge in the collective minds of members to tap and a great community of Hams that are committed to ensuring reliable communications in our territory.

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March 4, 20180 commentsRead More
VI Hams encouraged to take ICS Classes ahead of storm season

VI Hams encouraged to take ICS Classes ahead of storm season

The VI Ham Radio club would like to encourage local Amateur Radio Operators who are interested in providing assistance after disasters to take the following Incident Command System (ICS) classes.  Successful passing of these classes is a MUST for anyone who desires to work in the VITEMA EOC.

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February 27, 20180 commentsRead More
Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island Amateurs are International Humanitarian Award Winners

Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island Amateurs are International Humanitarian Award Winners

The St. Croix Amateur Radio Club is honored to announce that the ARRL has conferred the 2018 International Humanitarian Award jointly on the Amateur Radio population of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands!

Members of the St. Croix Amateur Radio club provided vital communication links during Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  The following members served their community either at the St. Croix VITEMA EOC or in the field during the emergency:

  • Fred Kleber, K9VV
  • George Riedell, N1EZZ
  • Lu Sudek, KP2AD
  • Wess Tester, K2AHU
  • Daryl Jaschen, NP2QD
  • Sean Cullinan, WP2SC
  • Mike Shuman, NP2PZ
  • Bob Wakefield, WP2E
  • Lisa Kleber, W4LIS
  • Chris Millette, NP2EL

Here’s a link to the full ARRL article detailing this wonderful honor:

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January 30, 20180 commentsRead More