Mars Comex

The next MARS/Amateur Comex will be 20-23 Feb. As we have in the past we will be looking to contact Hams for information about the status of critical resources in their areas. This is a short series of questions to determine the operational status of things like Water, Transportation, Communications, Power, Sanitation and Medical. The responses are for real world actual status. Basically if the MARS Member asks the status of Water in your area the normal day to day response is Operational. Of course if an item is damaged for any reason and it actually failed, then report that.

The MARS Stations will come up on area repeaters for example, using their Ham Calls they will make a statement like this “This is KL7YK, I am a MARS Station looking for input for the DOD Drill”.

We will also be looking for Hams outside of the population centers on HF, using 3.920 LSB. Same idea as above, you should hear a like statement on air from a MARS Member.

Also you can send Winlink msgs to Use the ISNAP form found in the Global directory of Templets or send a WinLink msg to kl7jft for the Alaska Form.

Our operational window starts on 20 Feb and runs until 23 Feb. So we will be active during the week. Perhaps take a few minutes out of your week to monitor some of the area repeaters. In Anchorage the wide area Repeaters are at Grubstake 147.33, Site Summit 147.30 and of course the Military Club Repeater on 146.67. Someone locally will be monitoring as well for Hams so if you like you can come up on air and ask for a MARS Station. The exchange takes less then 2 minutes to complete. MARS Stations will be consolidating the Ham contacts into a formal message through DOD Channels. HQ Army MARS is generating QSL Cards for those Hams who participate as well to be mailed out after the drill ends. Hopefully those will be in your hands by the end of Mar, but being this is the government it may be months.

This is nationwide and statewide, we have members in Bethel, Kodiak, Fairbanks, MatSu, Anchorage and elsewhere. So this is the invite to our Amateur Partners to join us in exercising communications paths not only in Alaska but worldwide.

Why involved Hams? You live in the areas that could be effected by a disaster thus would have firsthand knowledge of what not working and needs attention sooner than later. Amateur Radio Operators are considered a trusted source for this information. The info itself is going to FEMA planners so they will know where the biggest problems are and where they should be sending support first. Due to the delays that come up on Amateur long haul bands from poor propagation to just too many operators using the spectrum, this information gets stalled getting to those who actually need it.

Using federal HF Channels we avoid that congestion anyway. These DOD drills involve both MARS Members and Military Comm Units. Nationwide there are quite a few Guard and Reserve units operating in these drills. We ask that you only provide input to Alaskan MARS Stations even if you do copy say an Idaho Mars/Ham station calling. Sending Alaska info to outside of Alaska will just confuse things.

MARS Operators are Hams first, we are all licensed operators just like you. Every contact with a Ham will be on Amateur spectrum using Amateur Call Signs. So no one need worry about the FCC getting excited. Its all above board.

If you’re interested in more information about the MARS Program please contact Don Bush KL7JFT or myself as well as the online resource like:

About US Air Force MARS

There are still two programs but we are effectively interchangeable as far as our mission. We operate joint AF-Army MARS all the time.

I can be reached at ron.keech@armymarsregiontenorg, Don Bush can be reached at for any Army MARS related questions.

AF MARS contact in Alaska is Pat Patterson at


I spoke of the basics at our January meeting and need to clarify and provide links to each one.

It was brought to my attention that it makes sense to complete them in the following order, not numerical order…..

“The recommendation is that folks begin with ISC 700 then 800 then 100 and then 200.”





Please let me know if any of you want a classroom setting so I can schedule that with our trainer


Shelia Olson, KL3TP, MARA President

Hams Connecting Across the Air and Sea

During Field Day 2017, I learned a little bit of Palmer and ham radio history from Mayor Edna Devries. Then a few days later there was a post on Facebook by the granddaughter of of the ham.

In August of 1977, Edward Holmes, KL7HFX, who lived in Palmer, had contact with Mutsuhiro Ishiguro in Saroma, Japan and this led to the two cities becoming sister cities.


Additional information can be found at


Field Day 2017

We had a great time!! We learned where our strengths are and what to work on this coming year!! Thank you to all those who attended!!! Thank you to those who helped set up and take down, stayed the whole time, presented wonderful classes, provided bbq items, mingled with the public and fellow hams, and made the day great!!!!


THANKS for great hamfest

Thanks to so many for a great hamfest!! We had around 100 people throughout the day!! There was a BBQ from meat donated by Mr. Prime Beef, arranged and transported by TJ Morgan, KL3IT, and cooked by Dick Eastman, KL3TNT and his friend Jim Ruby, who brought his own grill. He is studying to be a ham. Plus lots of variety in the side dishes provided by attendees!!

Conditions were right for three satellite transmissions by Craig Bledsoe, KL4E!! There were also presentations and information provided by Craig, Dan O’Barr, KL7DR, Dale Hershberger, KL7XJ, John Lynn, KL7CY, and Mike O’Keefe, KL7MD. Dan would have had drone demonstrations but it was too windy.

It was great seeing everyone who made it!! We were able to surprise Richard Plack, KL7DY, with a token of our appreciation for his decades of service!! Thank you, Trish for helping get him to show up!!! He cut the gorgeous cake provided by Verda’s that showed the original MARA logo and the current one, along with MARA spelled in CW.

George Strother, KL7GS, was the lead VE for the license exam provided. His team of VEs consisted of Kathleen O’Keefe, KL7KO, Jim Wardman, AL4W, and Ken Hudson, KL2HF. Two people passed the technician exam and now have a couple new hams.

There were more than 30 door prizes worth varying amounts that were donated by several MARA club members and numerous businesses in the Valley, Eagle River, and Anchorage and these were gathered mostly by Betty Carrington, KL1XL and Don Bush, KL7JFT, with Mark Allen, KL4EC, and Tabitha Sherman, KL4FZ, Carol Bush, KL2FA, among many others. We gave multiple prizes out three times during the day. We also had a split the pot drawing and Wayne Groomer, KL7HHO won.

In our Country Store, there items for sale to include t-shirts and patches provided by Silvertip Design and decals supplied by Silvertip Signs!

I truly appreciate the willing teamwork I saw by several who showed up starting at 7:30am to help with getting everything set up, also helping others with carrying in their wares from their vehicles, the happy camaraderie throughout the day, the great deals, the wealth of information being shared, even fun times at the kids’ activity table with John Mears, AL7LA, and at the end of the day, the magnificent cleanup effort!!! We have a great ham radio family indeed!!

MARA, along with ARES, was paid great compliments by Jim Pace, K7CEX, the ARRL regional manager from Washington State, that attended and collaborated with Ray Hollenbeck, KL1IL, Alaska ARRL representative, on a presentation, and we were also complimented by the previous manager, Jim Larson, AL7FS, and he joined MARA while at the hamfest!!!

Pat yourselves on the backs!!! You all did a great job!!!

Pictures of the hamfest can be found on our Facebook page, MARA CLUB (KL7JFU).


Shelia Olson, KL3TP, MARA President

Ham Fest 2017 on May 6


Boy and Girls Club, 3700 E Bogard Road, Wasilla, AK

May 6, 10-4

Table rental for displays or selling items $10
Admission at the door is $3
BBQ costs a donation of at least $5
Door prize ticket $3, MUST be present to win
50/50 Raffle tickets $5 each or five for $20, need NOT be present to win

Country Store items
T-shirts $15 members, $20 nonmembers
Club membership $24
Logo decals and patches $5
Ham radio cartoon CDs $15
Coffee mugs to order $18
If you don’t have enough for a table we’ll sell them for you during the Hamfest for 10% commission, which goes to the club. You can drop off items or pictures of large or heavy items to be sold at the Country Store tables. Contact Don, for additional details
The schedule of events
7:30-9:30 Setup
9:30 Satellite demonstration
10:00 Hamfest begins
10:30 prize drawing
11:00 Jim Pace & Ray Hollenbeck ARRL presentations
11:00ish BBQ begins
11:15 Satellite demonstration
12:30 prize drawing
12:55 Satellite demonstration
2:00 Licensing Exam, free club membership for passing techs
3:30 split the pot drawing
4:00-6:00 Cleanup
If you have not already done so, please contact Betty at, if you will need a table, so she can make sure there are enough.

Please bring folding/lawn chairs. Also any canopies you have available would be greatly appreciated!!!

BBQ will have hotdogs and cheeseburgers provided. Bring a side dish to share.

There will be a table with beginner electronics activities for kids taught by John Mears, former UAA electronics professor

There will also be three satellite communications demonstrations, a Licensing Exam, and presentations from our local and regional ARRL representatives.

See you there!!!!

Shelia, KL3TP, MARA President & Mark, KL3TO, First Dude

New Site

Well here is the beginning of the new Matanuska Amateur Radio Association website. Please let me know what you think of it. I know there is not much here right now but I will be adding more stuff to our new home, so check back often. If there is something you would like to see let us know.