North American QRP CW Club

Later this year, the North American QRP CW Club will celebrate its twelfth year of existence. Birthed during a prolific period when many small ham radio groups coalesced into online radio clubs, the NAQCC has become one of the most successful of the litter.

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There’s good reason why this club has continued to thrive where others have faded — you simply won’t find a more active or enthusiastic group of wireless telegraphers on the planet.

The timing was impeccable as interest in QRP activity was peaking in the amateur radio world around the time of the club’s formation. But you would be wrong to assume that the rapid rise of the NAQCC was merely a “fad” as sustained growth in the intervening years have proven.

John Shannon, K3WWP co-founded the organization (along with Tom Mitchell, WY3H) and was its guiding light over the first decade.

Shannon’s resume as a QRP CW operator is polished and he easily straddles the two centuries of our hobby – old school ham radio on the one hand, embracing the Internet as an effective means for spreading his minimalist view of amateur radio on the other.

The many activities of the NAQCC keep members as busy as they want to be on the air. That’s by design. While the NAQCC maintains a wealth of online resources to help new operators in the metamorphosis from beginner to seasoned operator, there’s an understanding among members that they should be on the air, not online — and to that end, the club doesn’t maintain a discussion-type mailing list.

On-air activities include regional nets, sprints, and challenges – like collecting letters from worked call signs to spell keywords. Special operating events are frequent and interesting, many of them taking place outdoors.

On a local level, there are seven chapters around the United States and overseas. These provide opportunity for fellowship, sometimes over coffee, breakfast or sharing a hamfest table.

This seems vital to the success of the organization given that it was created and exists in a virtual world. There’s no club headquarters, office, or paid staff. Its global presence and outreach exists by radio, the Internet, postal mail, and through local chapters.

When asked about those club activities he most enjoys, John Smithson, N8ZYA, Vice-President of the organization, said his favorite activity is the monthly challenges. He likes puzzles and the challenges are “much like doing the crosswords in the morning newspaper” – except it takes place via radio.

A particularly effective tool employed by the club is its monthly newsletter the NAQCC News. It appears as a PDF the first of each and every month. Trust me, this isn’t one of those clubs that publishes a “monthly” newsletter a few times each year as is common in our hobby.

Composed, edited, and published by club President Paul Huff, N8XMS, the publication shows up month after month, chocked full of club news, information, and member articles. It’s well-written and a joy to consume at a leisurely pace. The latest edition (April 2016) tips the scales at 49 pages – it’s more like a magazine than a newsletter.

Co-founders K3WWP and WY3H have since retired and moved on from their leadership roles. By all appearances, that transition has been smooth and seamless, a credit to the founders. There are plenty of reasons why such a change might threaten the continuation of any organization, but this has not been the case for the NAQCC.

Grounded on strong fundamentals and an abundance of enthusiasm, the future looks bright for this specialty club, and the legacy of John Shannon, K3WWP seems firmly cemented in this chapter of amateur radio history.

With over 8,000 members in all 50 states, 9 VE provinces, and 101 countries, the NAQCC might be for you – if you’re seeking fun, new adventure, friendship, or something to rekindle the magic of radio.

Take a look at this video montage for a complete overview of the club and its activities.

Membership is free, and I’ve no doubt you will be welcomed with open arms.

Author: Jeff Davis