Column #83 by John, K3WWP - Since the NAQCC recently celebrated its 3rd anniversary in October 2007, I thought I'd talk about the club in this column.
When Tom Mitchell WY3H (then KB3LFC) founded the club in 2004 and asked me to be a partner in running the club, we both figured we'd collect maybe 50 members at the very most since there were so many other QRP clubs in existence. Well, 2,121 members later, I think I can say we blew that estimate a little bit.
Why is the club so popular. I believe it is because we don't fool with phone nor any of the multitude of digital modes in existence today. We are devoted strictly to the use of and preserving of that grand old mode - CW or Morse Code. That's exactly what FISTS does with the exception that we promote operating at QRP power levels while FISTS promotes operating at any power level.
Perhaps I should intersperse an explanation here. The NAQCC does NOT require its members to operate STRICTLY QRP. Anyone is welcome to join if they adhere to the following. 1. They must love, use, and promote Morse Code. 2. They must at least occasionally use QRP power in their operating of Morse Code. Perhaps someone only likes to operate QRP in certain contests while the rest of the time they use QRO. They are welcome to join the NAQCC since they are promoting CW and QRP. Many of our members are dedicated 100% QRP operators such as I am, but many others also operate QRO at times. That is perfectly OK.
If the preceding paragraph applies to you, and you are not a member, I invite you to join. Then you will be like a double barreled shotgun in the fight against those trying to wipe out CW from the ham bands. You'll have FISTS in one barrel and the NAQCC in the other barrel for a powerful 1-2 punch.
Our monthly weekday evening sprints have become very popular, and among organizations holding such sprints, the NAQCC ranks right up near the top in member participation percentage. We are drawing more participants than other organizations having more members. We believe it is the relaxed atmosphere of the sprints that is the reason for their popularity. Giving a bonus multiplier of 2 for using a straight key encourages slower speed operation which in turn doesn't frighten off folks like some high-speed, hectic type of sprints. Also our alternating schedule of a 2nd Tuesday and 3rd Wednesday evening every other month allows virtually anyone to participate in at least half our sprints. For example, if someone has choir practice every Wednesday evening, they can participate in the Tuesday evening sprints which occur in the even numbered months.
Recently we added an autologger to the NAQCC web site to make submitting sprint reports very simple. One thing we do insist on is having everyone submit a complete log, not just a number of QSO's as is done in other organizations' sprints. This to ensure fairness to everyone by cross-checking all logs received for logging errors. This turned some members off at first, but now they have come to realize just how fair doing so really is. Also we have Dave W3KM's GenLog program that is geared to our sprints (as well as over 200 other contests) and makes logging very simple.
Moving on to other aspects of our club. The sprints are our flagship activity so I used a lot of words on them. However we also have monthly challenges. They last a whole month and are something entirely different each month. One month we may challenge our members to make 30 QSO's on 30 meters, the next month to try to make words on a list we provide using letters from the call signs of folks they work during the month. Those are just two examples. Visit the web site to learn more.
We have an extensive awards program with some awards that are unique to our club. One such award is the QSO a Day award suggested originally by Stan K4UK based on my personal QRP QSO a Day streak that is now nearing 5,000 consecutive days. We issue an award for any number of months in a year from 1 up to the full 12 months or a complete year. Just make at least one QRP QSO a Day for any combination of months you choose. However if you only want to do a single month, then it must be at least 2 QRP QSO's a day. We also have a 30-30 award similar to the challenge I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Then we have several other awards I won't mention to keep this from growing into a book rather than a column. All the info is on the web site anyway, so I won't repeat it here.
To keep with being brief, I will mention that we have some nice prizes being offered to our sprint and challenge participants thanks to the generous donations of our members.
We are trying to do things to promote activity on the little used WARC bands, but those activities are just in their infancy now, and need to be developed. Also at that stage is an Elmering project to try to help those new to CW.
Finally I should add that membership is free with no dues of any kind, and always will be. We depend on the minimal fees we charge for our awards along with voluntary donations from our members to keep us financially afloat and so far we haven't come even close to sinking.
If all the above appeals to you, head on over to the club web site at naqcc.info/ and check us out. Hopefully I'll be processing your membership application before long. That's a tilde before the yoel in our web site address if it doesn't reproduce clearly in the Keynote.
Oh, mentioning the Keynote reminds me I forgot to mention our club newsletter. It's an on-line newsletter on the web site that is 'published' twice a month on the final Saturday of a month and also the Saturday preceding our weekday sprint. It's about 6 months old now and developing into a nice showpiece where our members can 'brag about' their accomplishments with QRP and CW. Plus it contains club news, a CW cartoon, nice photos, and promotes our sprints and challenges.
Whew, I didn't mean to be so long winded, but talking about the NAQCC is something I love to do. CU next column. 73 -30-