Author Archives: Jimmy Russ

It’s new! It’s exciting! It’s FREE!

Hams are notorious for being “frugal” (which is just a nice way of saying “cheap”). What could be better than a way to try out a new mode of communication and it doesn’t cost anything? If you’ve ever wanted to try DMR and have an android phone (you iPhoners will just have to go to Starbucks and talk about us), have I got good news for you. As the saying goes…”There’s an app for that”.

There’s a free app called “Droidstar“, and it will do lots of things…fun things like Fusion, DMR, P25, NXDN and others. But, since our ARRL WCF PIC (which is a whole lot easier than saying “Amateur Radio Relay League West Central Florida Section Public Information Coordinator”) and resident digital mode expert Mike Lunsford, KB4FHP gave such a great talk about DMR at the April LARC meeting, let’s go there.

Before you do anything else, go ahead and go to and create an account there and request a DMR id. If you already have one, you’re ahead of the game.

Next, go to the Play store on your android phone (while the iPhoners are still on their first latte) and search for Droidstar. There is one option so select it and download it. You should get something like this (except the boxes will be empty):

Click on “Settings” and you should see something like this:

On this screen, enter your Callsign, DMR ID (which you probably have by now) and your Brandmeister Password (BM Pass) in this appropriate boxes. If you don’t have a Brandmeister account, go to and set up an account with your new DMR ID and set a password. Don’t worry about entering anything in the other boxes, because there aren’t any instructions for this and your resident blogger doesn’t know what to put there 😉

After this is done and the screen looks something like the one pictured above, go back to the main screen. If you select the “Mode” box, a list of modes will open up. For this exercise, select “DMR”. Under host, again if you select the box, a list of hosts will pop up. Select 3102, 3103 or 3104 for the United States. Once this is done, change the TG ID (talk group) to 91 for Worldwide.

After all of this is done, hit “Connect” and hold on tight! If you’ve done it right (and the ghost of Hiram Percy Maxim is smiling upon you), shortly you will hear hams from all over the world talking to each other. What’s even better, by hitting the blue “TX” button on the bottom of the main screen, you can talk to those hams. Just be advised that the TX button toggles on and off and if you transmit and then walk away while still transmitting…

Try it out and let us know what you think on the LARC email list at, and most of all HAVE FUN!

An Important Announcement About The Upcoming LARC Meeting May 10

The next Lakeland Amateur Radio Club meeting will be Monday, May 10 at the Parkview Baptist Church (509 Parkview Place, Lakeland FL 33805) at 7:00 p.m with license testing at 5:30 p.m.

Prior to the meeting, Fred Delaney, K1DU will have equipment from the estate of our friend and LARC Vice President Top Smith, WB6ZEQ available. Please come early to browse and see if there’s something you just can’t live without (and bring cash) as all proceeds will help club member and Top’s son Glenn Smith, KO4AWJ. Several of the items have been listed in the blog classifieds. Please get in contact with Fred if you have any questions.

See you at the meeting!

Mega-QSO Party Weekend!

If you enjoy working state QSO parties, you’re a budding (or maybe you’re a hardcore) contester, you’re chasing your “Worked All States” award or maybe you just enjoy making stateside contacts, this weekend is for you. This weekend there are 16 (you read that right…16!) state QSO parties taking place. Scheduled for this weekend are state QSO parties in:

Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Indiana, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

For additional details, go to

(fyi I don’t know if The Macho Man Randy Savage (God rest his soul) was an amateur radio operator, but he was definitely a ham!)

Updated RF Exposure Guidelines Take Effect May 3

The FCC has announced that rule changes detailed in a lengthy 2019 Report and Order governing RF exposure standards go into effect on May 3, 2021. The new rules do not change existing RF exposure (RFE) limits but do require that stations in all services, including amateur radio, be evaluated against existing limits, unless they are exempted. For stations already in place, that evaluation must be completed by May 3, 2023. After May 3 of this year, any new station, or any existing station modified in a way that’s likely to change its RFE profile — such as different antenna or placement or greater power — will need to conduct an evaluation by the date of activation or change.

“In the RF Report and Order, the Commission anticipated that few parties would have to conduct reevaluations under the new rules and that such evaluations will be relatively straightforward,” the FCC said in an April 2 Public Notice. “It nevertheless adopted a 2-year period for parties to verify and ensure compliance under the new rules.”

The Amateur Service is no longer categorically excluded from certain aspects of the rules, as amended, and licensees can no longer avoid performing an exposure assessment simply because they are transmitting below a given power level.

“For most amateurs, the major difference is the removal of the categorical exclusion for amateur radio, which means that ham station owners must determine if they either qualify for an exemption or must perform a routine environmental evaluation,” said Greg Lapin, N9GL, chair of the ARRL RF Safety Committee and a member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC).

“Ham stations previously excluded from performing environmental evaluations will have until May 3, 2023, to perform these. After May 3, 2021, any new stations or those modified in a way that affects RF exposure must comply before being put into service,” Lapin said.

The December 2019 RF Report and Order changes the methods that many radio services use to determine and achieve compliance with FCC limits on human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields. The FCC also modified the process for determining whether a particular device or deployment is exempt from a more thorough analysis by replacing a service-specific list of transmitters, facilities, and operations for which evaluation is required with new streamlined formula-based criteria. The R&O also addressed how to perform evaluations where the exemption does not apply, and how to mitigate exposure.

Amateur radio licensees will have to determine whether any existing facilities previously excluded under the old rules now qualify for an exemption under the new rules. Most will, but some may not.

The ARRL Laboratory staff is available to help amateurs to make these determinations and, if needed, perform the necessary calculations to ensure their stations comply. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, who helped prepare ARRL’s RF Exposure and You book, explained it this way. “The FCC did not change any of the underlying rules applicable to amateur station evaluations,” he said. “The sections of the book on how to perform routine station evaluations are still valid and usable, especially the many charts of common antennas at different heights.” Hare said ARRL Lab staff also would be available to help amateurs understand the rules and evaluate their stations.”

RF Exposure and You is available for free download from ARRL. ARRL also has an RF Safety page on its website.

(courtesy ARRL)

April 27 is Morse Code Day

In honor of the birthday of Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, April 27 is Morse Code Day! While knowledge of Morse Code is no longer a requirement to have an Amateur Radio license (it ended effective February 23, 2007), many licensees still enjoy CW and use it on the air. The ARRL broadcasts code practice daily at different times and several times a month sends a “Qualifying Run”, copying of which entitles one to a “Certificate of Code Proficiency”.

If you know CW, get on the air today and make a QSO in honor of ol’ Sam Morse, and if you don’t know it, it’s never too late to learn it!

Highlights from Special Event Station W4S at Sun ‘n Fun 2021

The Lakeland Amateur Radio Club operated Special Event Station W4S at Sun ‘n Fun 2021. These are just a few of the highlights. Thanks to all who operated the station, including Mike Shreve, N6MRS; George Mann, KJ4UW; Dan Gagnon, NZ1P (and everyone else who operated but whose names were not provided)…and a couple of big shout-outs for Geoff Schuck, WA4MMO and Todd Rush, W7STR for spearheading the event. Many thanks to all for a great event!

Special Event Station W4S
Yeah…your special event station may be cool, but ours has an airplane.
Club President Mike Shreve, N6MRS working CW
George Mann, KJ4UW at the microphone
Since the most important part of any amateur radio event is food, we’re definitely going to need a bigger cooler!

The Florida QSO Party is this weekend!

The Florida QSO Party is an annual contest where the goal of stations outside of Florida is to work stations inside of Florida. The goal of Florida stations is to work everyone. It takes place in two ten hour blocks…from Saturday 16:00:00Z (Noon EDT) – Sunday 01:59:59Z ( Saturday 9:59:59 PM EDT) and Sunday  12:00:00Z (8 AM EDT) – 21:59:59Z (5:59:59 PM EDT).

It’s lots of fun, and there are lots of contacts to be made because for once everyone’s goal is to work YOU! For more information go to

Sunday, April 18 is World Amateur Radio Day

World Amateur Radio Day, held on April 18 each year, is celebrated worldwide by radio amateurs and their national associations which are organized as member-societies of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). It was on this day in 1925 that the IARU was formed in Paris. American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim was its first president.

Amateur radio experimenters were the first to discover that the short-wave spectrum?could support long-distance radio signal propagation. In the rush to use these shorter wavelengths, amateur radio was “in grave danger of being pushed aside,” the IARU’s history has noted. Amateur Radio pioneers met in Paris in 1925 and created the IARU to promote the interests of amateur radio worldwide and to protect and enhance its spectrum privileges. Today, the IARU is a federation consisting of more than 160 national amateur radio organizations in as many countries and separate territories. The International Secretariat of the IARU is ARRL, the national association for amateur radio® in the United States.

On World Amateur Radio Day, all radio amateurs are invited to take to the airwaves to enjoy our global friendship with other amateurs, and to show our skills and capabilities to the public.

IARU has chosen “Amateur Radio: Home but Never Alone” as the theme for World Amateur Radio Day, Sunday, April 18, 2021. The theme acknowledges that during our physical distancing to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, amateur radio stands out as welcome respite for its variety of activities and opportunities – even helping overcome online fatigue and social isolation. The amateur radio community has organized “wellness nets” to keep amateurs in touch and check on those who may be higher risk or elderly, “stay safe” special event stations across the globe, and has encouraged generally higher levels of on air activity.

(Courtesy ARRL)

All About Digital Radio

The Lakeland Amateur Radio Club held it’s April meeting last night, April 12. The meeting was well attended with 41 present. The keynote speaker for the meeting was Mike Lunsford, KB4FHP, Public Information Coordinator for the ARRL West Central Florida Section. Mike did an informative presentation on the Digital Voice Modes of Amateur Radio, including DMR, D-Star, Fusion and more. Thanks, Mike for an excellent presentation!

The next meeting will take place on Monday, May 10.

2021 April LARC Meeting
2021 April LARC Meeting
2021 April LARC Meeting
Club President Mike Shreve, N6MRS
Todd Rush, W7STR
2021 April LARC Meeting
2021 April LARC Meeting
Mike Lunsford, KB4FHP

LARC Club Meeting Tonight

It’s the second Monday of the month, which means it’s time for the LARC monthly club meeting. It’s at 7:00 p.m. at Parkview Baptist Church, 501 Parkview Pl, Lakeland FL 33805. As previously posted, there will be no exams tonight.