The Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society
PCARS is an amateur radio club located in Melbourne, Florida, that serves primarily central & southern Brevard County. The club is a Florida non-profit corporation with approximately 160 members, and it has existed for over fifty-seven years. PCARS is affiliated with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which is a national membership organization for licensed amateur radio operators. In 2020, PCARS was designated as a Special Service Club by the ARRL.
PCARS amateur radio operators, often called “HAMS” participate in a wide variety of amateur radio activities. These include providing disaster communications, experimenting with things like amateur TV and satellite communications, competing in amateur radio competitions, and contacting amateurs around the world. Our members use not only voice, but many different modes of communications, such as Morse code, amateur television, radio teletype and other digital modes using computer interfaces.
The club has an FCC issued amateur radio call sign, W4MLB, and a well-equipped amateur radio station. This station has been used by club members to compete with other clubs and groups around the world in various radio sport competitions. The “Florida Boys” was a name given to our PCARS contest group. However, this group has mostly retired now or moved on, but a whole new generation of contesters have sprung up & begin winning contests as well. Most Wednesday evenings, a few members will get together at the club station to work DX (distant stations). Operators may use their own call sign, and log contacts using the club’s radios, amplifiers, and directional antennas.
PCARS conducts a general membership meeting on the second Monday of every month except for December. All amateur radio operators and interested parties are invited to attend. See the meeting page and the calendar for more information. PCARS also publishes a monthly newsletter. Anyone can read the most current newsletter to see what the club is about. Members can access an archive of past newsletters.
PCARS maintains three FM repeaters in the area. Two VHF-FM repeaters and one UHF-FM repeater are owned and operated by the club. The UHF repeater is Fusion enabled. These enable consistent and effective communication over a large part of Brevard County using small hand-held transceivers. These repeaters have been very valuable in helping club members support Red Cross Shelters during hurricanes, and in supporting public service events. Many PCARS members are also members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and the club works with the Brevard County ARES Team (BCAT). PCARS sponsors a weekly emergency training net, the Melbourne Region Emergency Net (MREN), where members and guest radio operators check into a controlled group via one of the local repeaters.
There are also a number of PCARS members who are interested in severe weather. storm spotting, and reporting. They participate in a weather reporting net immediately following the MREN each week. Most of these members are registered SKYWARN® spotters, and receive training from the local National Weather Service (NWS) forecasting office. The PCARS Weather Net, as the group is known, has its own website.
Another new mainstream for PCARS members is Parks on the Air (POTA). Several members patriciate in POTA each week, traveling about to the various parks located in our area & beyond. POTA is essentially Field Day every day, without the fanfare. Some members have even operated POTA from a DX country!
The Melbourne Hamfest has been sponsored by PCARS since 1965. This annual event is held the second weekend in October at the Melbourne Auditorium. It draws over 2000 enthusiasts from all over the state of Florida and beyond. It’s a time of fellowship, attending forums, browsing through tables piled high with radio equipment, and “eye-balling” all of the latest gear available through retail outlets.
In addition to providing reliable communications for worthy public service events (races, parades, mock disasters, etc.), PCARS sponsors regular classes to teach interested individuals the technical theory required to obtain an FCC issued Amateur Radio License. PCARS also conducts the exams for those licenses throughout the year.
SKYWARN® is a registered trademark of NOAA’s National Weather Service.