PARA Awarded 501(c)(3) Status

On November 23, 2022, PARA was classified as a charitable organization under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3). This means that donors can deduct contributions made to PARA and that PARA is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, transfers, or gifts.

501(c)(3) status can help PARA to achieve its community service objectives in several ways.

Grant Funding

PARA can now apply for grant funding from organizations that require 501(c)(3) status. The $1000 grant awarded to PARA by Philipsburg Borough on November 2, 2022 was contingent upon our 501(c)(3) status.

Free Services

PARA can now request valuable services from businesses who can deduct the fair market value of those services. For example, Microsoft Corporation offers free software and web hosting to 501(c)(3) organizations.


Local individuals and businesses who donate money or equipment to PARA can write off the value of those contributions.

PARA Receives Grant Funding

On November 2, 2022, the Philipsburg Borough Council voted to provide PARA with $1000 of initial funding for the construction of an Emergency Communications (EmComm) radio station to be located on the second floor of the American Legion Post #437 in Philipsburg. The station will be located directly adjacent to a large meeting room equipped to serve as an emergency shelter for residents displaced by flooding or other unfortunate events.

The station will initially be equipped for VHF, UHF, and GMRS communications with antennas placed temporarily in the attic. During a disaster or at other times when normal means of communication are compromised, the PARA EmComm station will be able to pass critical messages between local officials and similar EmComm stations located in the following facilities:

  • Clearfield County 911 Center
  • Centre County 911 Center
  • Mount Nittany Medical Center
  • National Weather Service office at University Park
  • PEMA headquarters in Harrisburg

The borough council has stipulated that in order to receive the funds, PARA must provide documentation of its 501(c)(3) status. Toward that end, a 1023-EZ application form has recently been submitted to the IRS. Upon receiving 501(c)(3) status, the borough has invited PARA to apply for additional funding to cover the costs of migrating the antennas to the roof and equipping the station with emergency backup power and a digital fire/police/ems scanner to provide greater situational awareness.

For more information about the planned EmComm station, please refer to the funding request.

PARA Picnic 2022

On Saturday, August 13, PARA members gathered at the home of Bob and Doreen Snyder for the annual summer picnic.

Jim Warg generously supplied the hamburgers, franks, and buns, and everyone else brought a delicious food item. Nobody went away hungry.

After the sun went down, lots of good conversation and funny stories filled the air as we all sat around a crackling bonfire.

YMCA 5K/10K Run

Submitted by Bob Snyder, KC3KVS

On Saturday, May 21, 2021, the Centre County YMCA held its annual 5K/10K race at Black Moshannon State Park.  In order to ensure the safety of participants, an ambulance was stationed at the start/finish line.  Due to a lack of cell phone reception, ham radio operators from PARA and NARC volunteered to provide communications at various mile markers along the course.

Dick, Jason, Rich, and Darren work out a few details prior to the first race.

The 5K portion takes place on the mostly-level Westside Road.  Darren Dixon W3DLD covered the one-mile mark while Jason Terosky KB3KPP and I staffed the two-mile mark.  The start/finish line was covered by Dick Thompson K3BIE.  At the start of each race, Dick transmitted a signal and we all started our stopwatches.

Jason calls out a runner’s elapsed time as they pass the checkpoint.

After the 5K race was concluded, Darren, Jason, and I proceeded to our respective stations on the 10K course which starts near the nature center, proceeds past the beach house and up Black Moshannon Road, and then climbs the steep hill to Huckleberry Road.

Additional stations were staffed by Bernie Ropchock W3BAR, and Rich Brnik KB3QKR

I parked my car just above the two-mile mark which is located on the hill leading from Black Moshannon Road up to Huckleberry Road.

I connected my handheld transceiver to a mag-mount antenna that I stuck to the roof of my car. I used three stopwatches, just to be sure.

As the first group of runners approach the two-mile mark, you can hear Rich and Dick talking on the radio.  Then I call out the runners’ times.  I got a lot of thank-you’s.  The runners seemed to really appreciate our help.

After the last runner and the sweep vehicle passed the two-mile mark, I returned to the start/finish line and watched a number of runners cross the finish line.

The last runner completed the 10K race somewhere around noon. I think that all of the radio operators had a good time and there was fortunately no need to summon the ambulance at any time.


.43 Repeater Upgrade

Submitted by Bob Snyder, KC3KVS

Early in 2020, before the COVID pandemic began, Cody Beish K9HSK started working on an improved version of the .43 repeater.  He assembled the system and tested it at his residence over a period of many months to ensure that it was reliable.

On Saturday, May 29, 2021, several PARA members had difficulty hearing the .43 repeater during the weekly net.  They reported that the signal was periodically getting much weaker and noisier.  The following Monday, I went to the repeater site and checked the RF power level.  It was randomly fluctuating between 13 and 23 watts.  The repeater is designed to put out 50 watts, so it was apparent that something was wrong.

I notified Cody, the repeater trustee, and asked for his advice.  Cody decided that it was time to install the new repeater system.  When I alerted club president Darren Dixon W3DLD to the plan, he also volunteered to help.

On Tuesday morning, we arrived at the site and discovered that the old repeater was putting out only 100 milliwatts.  The transmitter was completely dead.

We spent most of the day setting up the new system, but a technical issue with the existing duplexer required the temporary use of a different duplexer.  The next morning, Cody and I met again at the repeater site and completed the upgrade.

As of this writing, the repeater has been working reliably for a period of two weeks.  Several people have mentioned that the signal is significantly clearer at their homes, presumably due to the increased transmitter power, which is now 70 watts.

Cody is aware of a few minor issues and he is planning to make a few adjustment in the coming days.  The club was really fortunate that Cody had taken it upon himself to build a new repeater system that was ready to go the moment it was needed.

The new system provides severe weather alerts.  It also has the capability of supporting multiple remote receivers.  Cody is planning to install a remote receiver in Philipsburg borough to pick up signals from handheld radios that are too weak to hit the repeater directly.  Additional remote receivers could be added in the future in order to increase the effective service area.

Darren and Cody install the components into a 19-inch rack-mount cabinet.

19 inch rack-mount cabinet containing all repeater components. Four-cavity duplexer and AGM backup battery on floor.


Top to bottom:  Weather radio, controller, voting unit, UHF receivers, Yaesu repeater, 100W Henry amplifier.


Cody and Darren discuss the project while taking a short break.

Cody makes a few final adjustments.


Spring Cleanup 2021

April 10, 2021 – PARA members Jason, Chris, Bob, John, and Darren met at the Rattlesnake repeater site to clean the building and grounds.  The weather cooperated and the work was completed in less than two hours.

All of the equipment appears to be in good working order. There was evidence of water damage to one ceiling tile which had apparently become saturated and collapsed at some point over the winter. All of the mess was cleaned up and we will now investigate the issue of making repairs to the roof.

Thanks to all who volunteered their time to help maintain our repeater site.

PARA Meetings via Zoom

In order to avoid the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, all PARA monthly meetings will be conducted virtually, using Zoom, until further notice.  Prior to each meeting, all members will receive an e-mail message providing a link that you can click to join the meeting.

The monthly meeting is held at noon on the second Saturday of each month.  So pull up a comfortable chair ? and enjoy your favorite beverage ? from the warmth and comfort of your home ? while chatting with your mates ??? about all of your latest airwave antics!

Special event station W3M – Memorial Day weekend

Our friends at the Nittany Amateur Radio Club will staff a special event station operating with the call sign W3M from Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25, 2020.  Look for W3M operators on or around 3.845 MHz, 7.190 MHz, and 14.245 MHz, on standard digital mode “watering holes”, in the slower portions of the CW sub-bands, on Allstar node 51401 or Echolink 495344.

For more information, visit:

Rattlesnake 550 Power Reduced

The cooling fan on the Rattlesnake 550 GMRS repeater had begun to malfunction, so we disconnected it and ordered a replacement which should arrive on or about April 23.  We reduced the transmitter power from 45 watts to 25 watts so that it can operate without a cooling fan.  Just to be on the safe side, we ask that you try to limit conversations to five minutes to further reduce the chance of the transmitter overheating.  We will post a new announcement as soon as this problem has been resolved.

PARA meetings are going virtual!

Due to the coronavirus, all future PARA meetings will take place online until further notice.

We will be using a popular service known as Zoom.  This service is being used by many of the faculty, students, and staff at Penn State.  Several of us have been testing it, and it appears to be simple and reliable.


We are aware that there have been some stories in the media about unwanted guests hacking into Zoom meetings to shout profanities or display vulgar content.  We believe that the risk of this is low as long as we all keep the Meeting ID and Password private.  Each meeting will have a new Meeting ID and Password which are only valid until the meeting has ended.

Hardware Requirements

Zoom can be used with a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.  In order to use zoom with a desktop computer, you will need a webcam.  You can find a wide selection of webcams at B&H Photo or Amazon.  Just search for “webcam”.

Joining a Meeting

Shortly before a meeting is scheduled to start, the person who is hosting the meeting will send you an email containing the Meeting ID, a Password, and a link that you can click to start Zoom.  If you click the link, a Zoom session will begin and the Meeting ID and Password will be entered automatically.  If you wish to join the meeting using a different device, you will need to enter the Meeting ID and Password manually.

Please note that if you are using Zoom for the first time, the Zoom software will be installed on your device when you click the link.  You can also download Zoom manually at any time.

Guests are Welcome

PARA meeting invitations are normally sent to each member of PARA, but other radio enthusiasts are also welcome to attend PARA meetings.  If you wish to attend a specific meeting, please send a request to

The Meeting Environment

During a meeting, we will all be able to see and hear one another.  Each person’s face will appear in a separate window.  You can speak at any time, just as if we were meeting in a physical room.  A green border will be shown around the window of the person who is currently speaking.

Each person has the ability to turn off their video if desired.  This might be useful if you have a very low-bandwidth connection, although Zoom will automatically adjust the video resolution sent and received to accommodate low bandwidth connections.


Please try to eliminate any sources of background noise. If you can’t eliminate the noise, then please mute your microphone when you are not speaking.

If we encounter problems with multiple people inadvertently speaking at once (i.e. doubling), the meeting host may request that everyone raise their hand and wait to be recognized before speaking.

Scheduled Meetings

Our first virtual meeting will be the monthly PARA meeting scheduled for Saturday, April 11, at noon.

In order to test out our systems and resolve any technical issues, we will have a practice meeting on Wednesday, April 8, at 8:00 pm.

Please note that anyone can host a Zoom meeting and invite others to join.  So if you miss the practice session, or you can’t get a webcam in time, you can test your system with anyone you know who is also using Zoom.

40-Minute Time Limit

Zoom has membership plans starting at $14.95 per month which allow for meetings of unlimited length.  We are currently using a free membership which limits the length of meetings between three or more people to 40 minutes.  In order to make the best possible use of our 40-minute window, we ask that you please join the meeting at the scheduled time and keep your questions and comments brief.

Those of us who have been testing Zoom have conducted several three-person meetings that exceeded 40 minutes.  There are reports that Zoom has lifted the restriction during the coronavirus crisis, but we couldn’t find a policy statement from Zoom.  So we will need to assume that any meeting could be cut off at the 40-minute mark, and plan accordingly.


If you have any questions or concerns about virtual meetings, please contact

Volunteers Needed for S.E.T.

The Western PA chapter of the ARRL has scheduled a Simulated Emergency Test (SET) for April 4, 2020 from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm.  Carmine Prestia K3CWP is the EC for Centre County, and he will be coordinating that portion of the test.  Bob Snyder KC3KVS is helping Carmine to coordinate PARA’s participation in the test.

The test is based on an assumption of severe flooding or other emergency that has knocked out ordinary means of communications.  Under normal circumstances, hams would be stationed at various locations to assist the Red Cross or other agencies to pass messages to and from their headquarters.  Due to concerns about the coronavirus, all participants will operate from their base stations for this test.

Please contact Bob Snyder if you wish to participate in the S.E.T. on April 4.