The History of the Amateur Radio Club of Alameda by Allen Sweet


The idea of a radio club in Alameda began in 1996, when Al and Fran Sweet moved to Alameda, and joined the Disaster Task Force at the Alameda Chapter of the America Red Cross. This working group within the Red Cross was charged with the task of making plans for how the city of Alameda could handle a severe earth quake which cut the island city off from the rest of the bay area. Everyone quickly realized there was great need for emergency communications within the city of Alameda which did not depend on commercial land lines of cellular communications which were likely to be disabled by the quake. Since Al was a long time radio amateur, he suggested that amateur radio could fill this need. Of course the first problem that had to be faced was to train a crew of operators to pass the exam to obtain FCC licenses. To this end, Al organized a class to prepare attendees to take the FCC exam for technician level amateur licenses. Two of the first group of students received there technician licenses. Fran Sweet was one of the first to pass the exam. The license preparation course was given several more times over the next three year, by Al and Fran, with the more than 15 new hams receiving their tickets. Many young people were among the new hams.

In 2000, a number of new ham friends joined Al and Fran for a field day exercise in Lincoln Park. Out of this field day experience came the desire to form a club for Alameda's hams that could support activities such as field day, while at the same time train operators who would be available in case of disaster. In 2001, the East Bay Section of the ARRL asked Al to serve as the emergency coordinator (EC) for the city of Alameda. Al accepted this role, feeling that his major contribution would be organizing the radio club. He and Fran searched for a meeting location for 6 months, finally Captain Rick Zombeck of the city's disaster preparation office offered a meeting room at 522 West Midway for this purpose. Regular monthly meetings began in February 2002. By June, the new radio club was able to organize a field day which was held in the field adjacent to 522 West Midway. This field day was highly successful and kept close to the spirit of field day by operating exclusively QRP using battery power. The 2003 field day was much bigger in terms of the number of transmitters, but remained QRP and battery powered. The radio club was also invited in 2002 and 2003, by the city of Alameda, to participate in a drill for testing the city's ability to respond to disaster.

By 2004, the club was in the process of organizing itself in order to apply for ARRL affiliation. Bill Lawson, Sandy Lavine, and Joe Kohler were very helpful in driving this process forward. As a direct result of this process, the club's constitution and bylaws were created, dues collected, and officers elected. Al, KG6HM was elected president, Sandy, KO6JF was elected vice president, and Joe, KL7IDY was elected secretary/treasurer.

In 2005 the club has successfully obtained ARRL affiliation, has obtained the club call sign K6QLF, has participated in the ARRL Worldwide DX Contest in March, and is preparing for participation in its fourth Field Day contest in June.