Field Day 2020 Planning

The days are getting longer, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, the temperatures are rising,  and a young (at heart) ham’s fancy turns to thoughts of… Field Day!

This year’s ARRL Field Day is going to be held June 27–28, 2020, so it is time to start planning for MCWA’s Field Day activity. There is much to discuss including the selection of the site, equipment, antennas, modes, classification, number of stations and more. What do you want to get out of our Field Day?

Our Field Day chairperson, Mike Metroka, WB8BZK,  has scheduled bi-weekly planning meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month from 6:30–7:30 pm.

2nd Tuesday of the month:  Panera , 6000 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake.

4th Tuesday of the month:  Panera, 730 Northwest Highway, Fox River Grove.

For more information, contact Mike.

Mike Metroka, WB8BZK

December 2019 Highlights

Congratulations to the following members whose hard work and perseverance have paid off.

Newly licensed or upgraded

Dave MacLennan W9DAV – upgrade to General


ARRL Triple Play Worked All States on Voice, CW, and Digital
Joe Robin N9OK

FT4 Worked All States
Mike Metroka WB8BZK

New Call Signs

John Canker W9JM, formally N9GUU

Illinois Hands-Free Law Effective July 1, 2019

A new law designed to address distracted driving caused by the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle goes into effect on July 1, 2019. 

The law toughens an existing hands-free law that was enacted in 2010 and makes the use of hand-held cellphones,  texting, or other electronic devices such as PDAs or voice recorders while driving a moving violation and comes with an increased fine. 

Under the old law, a first violation resulted in a warning being issued and subsequent violations were non-moving violations. The new law makes every violation a moving violation, which will appear on your driving record, may increase your auto insurance cost, and could lead to the suspension of your driver;s license after three moving violations.

The new law prohibits the use of or even holding an electronic device that isn’t hands-free while driving.  You may not use the device at stop signs, stoplights, or when stopped in traffic. You may use such devices when reporting an emergency,  when parked on the shoulder of the road, or if traffic is stopped by an obstruction and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

There is an exception that allows the use of an amateur radio by the driver. However, this does not relieve you from operating your motor vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. 

There is bound to be some initial confusion on the part of law enforcement when the new law goes into effect. If you intend to operate your amateur radio while driving, it is recommended to place a copy of the new law and a copy of your amateur radio license in the vehicle.  Be polite and courteous as this is new territory for everyone. 

Note that if you are using a cell phone while driving and are pulled over, you are not excused by the amateur radio exception. Claiming that you were only using Echolink could difficult to explain and  prove and will most likely will result in a citation.

Remember that you may still be (incorrectly) cited despite having shown the officer the text of the law and your amateur radio license. In that case, you will need to “tell it to the judge”.

The full text of the law is below with the exception for amateur radio use highlighted. You may download and print the document from the viewer.

Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of Public Act 100-0858 - 07-01-19



Happy 40th Anniversary MCWA

McHenry County Wireless Association’s 40th anniversary was recently celebrated by its current members and supporters. During the celebration, early members related stories of the club’s founding and early days, which was followed by cake and a group photograph.

Commemorating 40 years of MCWA – 09/04/2018 (photo by Ken Farver KB9I)

The association was formed on September 12, 1978 and consisted of thirty-one charter members.  Today, MCWA is an ARRL affiliated club with a membership of over one hundred members.