Donald Purnhagen K4ILG Silent Key

Donald Purnhagen K4ILG, PCARS Club Secretary for the past few years, passed away suddenly on the evening of April 6th. He leaves behind his wife Analyn, & his 3 daughters, plus children from previous marriages & several grandchildren. Donald was 65 years old. A Funeral Service was held on April 14th, with several members of PCARS in attendance. PCARS Club President K5LD spoke at the service, by the request of Donald’s family, on behalf of PCARS & the Amateur Radio community in general.

I had met Donald in 2017, at SKYWARN Recognition Weekend, during the late shift. Donald had just gotten his General & was still learning about HF. He operated during the overnight shift, had a great time & was hooked! Donald joined PCARS shortly afterwards & began getting involved in club activities. He volunteered frequently, as time allowed, as he spent quite a bit of time with his 3 daughters. But that didn’t stop Donald, & many a time, he would bring 1 or all 3 of his daughters with him to activities & events. You could say the girls grew up with Amateur Radio, around their Dad. They would come out for Kids Day, Field Day on the GOTA Station, & sometimes come with him during an overnight contest shift at W4MLB. Donald loved contesting & he was our overnight operator much of the time.

Being a Laurel VE, I encouraged Donald to go out for his Extra ticket. He was not completely confident at the time, but he went for it anyway. He passed his Extra & we celebrated after the VE session with a nice Charlie & Jake’s lunch. He was thrilled to pass his exam & he went on to become a Laurel VE himself. He later went on to become a part of several VE test sessions.

Donald went on to become PCARS’ Secretary, as well as its Webmaster. With Donald’s new improved Website, he replaced a 30 plus year old site with an updated modern one, full of content & easy to use. He made updates easy to do & did some great work for the Melbourne Hamfest, coming up with a new easy to understand flyer & reusable forms.

He was also heavily involved in Emergency Communications, becoming PCARS’ EC & later on, EC of the South Brevard area. He did the various training courses for the county. Donald also worked with PCARS’ Go Kits & organized & ran a few local PCARS SETs, to test out the Go-Kits.

Moreover, Donald truly loved being a part of PCARS & on the PCARS’ Board of Directors as an officer. Donald was a friend to everyone he met. & will surely be missed, by always wanting to be involved & lending assistance when needed. This Website is Donald’s legacy.

New Station Open House & Dedication Held on 4/22/23

The Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society (PCARS) recently held a Dedication & Open House of its new club station facilities, on the grounds of the Melbourne Fire Department Training Center, on Saturday, April 22, 2023. The event was well attended by club members, local officials, members of the Titusville Radio Club & other visitors.

PCARS is the largest amateur radio organization in the Melbourne area, and has been in existence since November, 1964—almost 60 years—and is still going strong. PCARS enjoys a current membership of over 150. The club is active in many local, national, and international events, including community events, scouting events, emergency communications, and other amateur radio related events.

With our continuous growth and activities, we had outgrown our previous facilities, which housed our club station equipment. Within the past year, we have replaced that facility with a much larger one, more than doubling the usable space. A member of PCARS, Dan Gravereaux N1ZZ, was instrumental in planning & leading a committee of club members, known as the Shack Committee, in obtaining the structure for the new station.

Some months back, a PCARS Dedication & Open House Committee was formed, & was chaired by Bob Creswick NB4C. Lots of time & effort went into planning the event. In the process, it was decided to honor PCARS member & Silent Key Greg Bowman N4EN, for his efforts toward obtaining the new trailer. Greg was a member of the Shack Committee, led by Dan N1ZZ. With Greg’s background of business & real estate knowledge, as well as being PCARS’ Treasurer, the funds were readily available for the trailer purchase, as well as other items that needed to be taken care for the delivery of the trailer. Sadly, Greg would become a SK before PCARS could take delivery of the trailer.

At the Dedication, PCARS President Walter Aucoin, Jr. K5LD, spoke a few words about Greg’s legacy & what he had done to make the new trailer happen. The new trailer was named the Greg Bowman Memorial Amateur Radio Station, in Greg’s honor. Dan N1ZZ & Mary Oian KG4VLO, Greg’s widow, cut the “coax” (Instead of a ribbon) & a plaque mounted outside of the door, was unveiled by Dan & Mary, afterwards, to begin the Open House.

N1ZZ & KG4VLO unveiling the plaque

Official local leaders from the City of West Melbourne joined PCARS on this wonderful day, including Mayor Hal Rose, Councilman Pat Bentley & PCARS’ own Councilwoman Andrea Young KO4PHN. We were delighted to see them & took them on a tour of the station afterwards.

L-R, NB4C, Mary Oain KG4VLO, Mayor Hal Rose, Council Members Pat Bentley, Andrea Young KO4PHN, & K5LD

PCARS’ Club Station W4MLB operated as a Special Event station for the day, with Mark Burke W9MGB operating the station. Mark did rather well, with 66 contacts in the log, with 5 DX contacts as well.

L-R, Andrea Young KO4PHN, Pat Bentley, Hal Rose & W9MGB at the mic.
Members & visitors tour the Station during the Open House

All in all, the Dedication & Open House went well & we look forward to operating from the new Facility for years to come! Thanks to all that made the day possible & successful.

** Photos provided by Gwen Kurzen Photography. We thank Gwen for her excellent service!**

73 de K5LD

Hamfest Lodging & Camping


Name / LinkApprox. PriceDistance
Hotel Melby Downtown$0.4 mi
Super 8 by Wyndham Melbourne$ 0.4 mi
Residence Inn by Marriott Melbourne$ 0.7 mi
Hilton Melbourne, FL$ 1.0 mi
Suburban Extended Stay Hotel Airport$ 1.0 mi
Extended Stay America Melbourne Airport$ 2.6 mi
Courtyard by Marriott Melbourne West$ 2.7 mi
DoubleTree Suites Melbourne Beach Oceanfront$ 3.0 mi

Camping / RV

Name / LinkDistance
Wickham Park Campground7.9 mi
Outdoor Resorts Melbourne Beach7.5 mi
Melbourne Beach Mobile Park6.9 mi

PCARS and the Melbourne Hamfest committee provide this information as a convenience and public service. A small sampling of nearby accommodations is provided. Prices are taken from details posted on various Internet travel sites. We apologize for any inadvertent errors or omissions.

Hamfest Forum Schedule

2023 Melbourne Hamfest

Friday October 13

No forums on Friday at this time.

Saturday October 14

TimeForum TitleMain Presenter
09:00 AMISS School Contact From Melbourne FLRyan Krenzischek W4NTR 
10:00 AMCQ DX Marathon Program – The fastest DX program in the world Mark Wohlschlegel  WC3W 
11:00 AMARRL ForumARRL
12:00 PMARRL Statewide Convention and Forum 
01:00 PMHurricane and Hazardous Weather for Florida 
William Ulrich, NWS Melbourne FL
02:00 PMFlorida Contest Group Forum & MeetingChris Pumblee  W4WF 
Big thanks to Gary Bishop NQ0V for coordinating the forums!

All forums will be held in the forum room at the northeast corner of the main auditorium hall. An admission ticket is required to attend forums.

PCARS Field Day — 2023 June 24th & 25

For the last several years, PCARS has operated ARRL Field Day as an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In doing so, we utilize the facilities, radios, antennas, & other equipment in our shack, which serves as an emergency communications center in support of the city of Melbourne Fire Department.

Last year in 2022, PCARS was in the process of working on our new trailer. It has just been delivered & it needed some bit of work, to get it complete as a club station again. So, the PCARS BOD elected to hold a traditional Field Day, using temporary equipment, set up out in the field at the Melbourne Fire Department Training Center. It was the 1st time in several years that PCARS actually operated Field Day in the field. The event was well received by club members & other amateurs that came out to operate.

Once again, PCARS will be operating from the “field”, this time from the Melbourne Fire Training Center Smokehouse, a building used by the FD for fire training & can be quickly set up & utilized for emergency communications.

The public is invited to come out to Field Day and observe or learn about ham radio operation, and how we function to support communication during an emergency. Various stations will be set up for different modes of communication. There will also be displays, and even a chance to operate a radio and make contacts with others, under the supervision of an experienced, licensed operator.

PCARS BOD Member Vince Weal K4JC, will be the 2023 PCARS Field Day Chairman.

Below is last years Field Day posting! Stay tuned here & check for updates on this year’s Field Day activities.

The signs are going up!!!!

Field Day is tomorrow! Starting at 2PM & running thru Sunday afternoon at 2PM, W4MLB will be on the air, running as a 4A (Alpha) station this year.  There will be 4 stations on the air, on 40, 20, 15, & 10/80 Meters. There will be a GOTA station, operating as K5LD. Chuck AD4ES & company, have worked hard to get a world class satellite station set up. And Ed W4ERZ, will be manning an FT8 demo thru the weekend on 6 Meters. 

All pre- setup has been staged, starting this afternoon & staying in the guidelines for setup. There are a few things needed before we go on the air tomorrow, the crank up tower needs to be moved & repositioned, the 40 & 80 Meter diploes need to be put up & a FT3 installed for the GOTA station. 

Our Field Day Safety Officer Clyde KD8AN, has checked out the generators & they are ready to go. As mentioned earlier, Clyde is in charge of the generators. He will be monitoring the systems throughout the weekend. Please report any issues to him, do not attempt to fix things yourself. 

Our Hospitality Chair Karen KO4SQF, will have supplies of water & cooling drinks throughout the weekend.  Please stay hydrated!!! The heat will be upon us & let’s be safe. If this was an actually emergency, we would have the same issues.  Also be sure to wear a hat & sunscreen as well. If you are susceptible to the heat, it is advised to come out later in the day or evening.

For those coming to assist with the final setup, we will have hot dog grilling for lunch. In the evening at 6, we will have our traditional Sarno Pizzas delivered. We encourage bringing your families out, to come see what Field Day is about!

For Field Day operations, we have secured permission from the Training Center,  to use the storage shed in the field. The shed will be outfitted with the 40,20,15 & 10 Meter stations. Filtering will be in place. A portable A/C unit, courtesy of a Silent Key, will be installed to cool the shed. The satellite station, GOTA station, FT8 Demo & the Membership/Public Information Center, will be located in the new club trailer.

On the air operating will use  

N1MM for logging, but no rig or CAT control. Since each radio will be dedicated, this will make logging easy. Also, each station can either work CW or SSB.

There is no formal schedule at the moment. We are encouraging members & non-members alike, to come out & if a station is available, jump on! Work as long or as short as you want. We are promoting a good club fun event/activity & giving everyone that wants to operate the chance to get on the air.

Speaking of which, ANY CLASS OF OPERATOR may operate Field Day. There will enough of us on hand as control operators, so don’t let that stop you from getting on the air.

Final staging & setup will begin at 11AM. If you are able & would like to assist, please come out. We discourage anyone that wants to just come hang out & not help. We have enough to do to keep busy!!

For those not aware of our location, PCARS Field Day will be at:

1980 Hughes Road

Melbourne FL 32935

The location is directly across from Krispy Kreme on Wickham. Turn onto Electronics Dr. & it will take you to Hughes Rd.

Hope to see you during the weekend!!

THANKS & 73!


ARRL Kids Day — June 19 2021

Twice each year, the ARRL encourages local amateur radio clubs, and individual operators, to host Kids Day events. The ARRL has designated Kids Day to be the first Saturday in January, and the third Saturday in June each year. It is a chance for the younger generations to check out amateur radio, get on the air, and communicate with other kids.

Contacts can be made around the county using the VHF/UHF bands, or across the country or even the world using the HF bands. When hams are making contacts during organized event, they often have what is called an “exchange”. The exchange for Kids Day contacts is very simple, the kids will exchange their name, age, general location, and favorite color. There will be experienced operators present to coach and help the kids on the radio.

Besides making voice contacts with other kids or hams, the kids can learn about radio equipment, and even the science behind it all. It could spark an interest, and fits right into the STEM curriculum that kids really need.

Kids Day at the PCARS station will start at 2:00 PM (14:00 to hams). Many kids will also be operating from personal amateur station locations across the country. The contacts will continue until 8:00 PM, the PCARS station will close by 5:00 PM unless we have visitors.

The PCARS station will be located at the city of Melbourne Fire Department Training Center, located at 1900 Hughes Rd, Melbourne, Florida .

PCARS Field Day — 2023 is June 24-25

This year, Field Day is back, in full force. We are planning a complete activation of W4MLB, including CW & SSB stations, a 6 Meter station (if the band opens), a satellite station, & last but not least, our GOTA (Get on the Air) station, for hams licensed than a year, and also non-hams, family members, etc. 

Here is a very brief Field Day itinerary:

  • Friday,  June 24 —  
  • Saturday, June 25
  • 2PM Saturday — Field Day starts!!  “If you ain’t calling, they ain’t going to answer” – AF4Z Pizza & refreshments will be provided for the evening/overnight operating crew.
  • Sunday, June 26 — Field Day shuts down at 2PM. TEAR DOWN BEGINS.  This involves taking down everything temporary  (crank up tower, antennas, cables, etc.) & storing it back in place. This is always the most difficult part of Field Day, as most people are tired, ready to go home, etc. But, everything that was set up, must be taken down.

I can’t tell you how many times  I stayed after a full weekend, to assist K9ES, the formal Field Day Chairman, to take everything  down with little or no help. If you don’t come out for anything else all weekend,  please consider coming out at the end to help.

More information will be forthcoming, & the June General Meeting program will be dedicated to Field Day.

Mini SET Exercise — Go Kits!

go kit operation in Wickham Park

On the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, May 29, 2021, members of PCARS got together to further the club’s emergency preparedness. The crew assembled at the club shack location at the city of Melbourne Fire Training Center. The purpose of the exercise was to get some more members familiar with the set up and operation of the go kits, and to test the radios’ operation in the field.

Demonstrating the equipment

Prior to this exercise, members had been encouraged to Adopt a Go Kit. This involved checking out a go kit and taking it home for a checkup and overhaul. Members charged the battery for the radio. They also updated the software and charged the batteries for the notebook PC.

The exercise started off with a short demonstration of the go kits for those who were not yet familiar with the components and operation. PCARS has six identical go kits. The major components of each kit:

  • Icom IC-2300H 2 meter only transceiver
  • 12V 35AH SLA battery
  • 110VAC to 12VDC power supply / battery charger
  • 2 x 50′ RG-58 coax with PL-259 connectors
  • Windows 10 notebook PC with two batteries
  • 2 meter J-pole antenna made from 450Ω ladder line
  • Assorted flashlight, tools, connectors, etc.
PCARS go kit with notebook PC

Once everyone was familiar with the equipment, the crew split up into teams. One team went north to Wickham Park. Three groups spread out and set up stations on the grounds of the Fire Training Center. The last group headed south to a private residence near the southern Melbourne city limits and set up in the backyard. This put five of the six kits into the field for testing. The other kit had been tested separately earlier.

Don WinnAF4Z
Donald PurnhagenK4ILG
Walter Aucoin JrK5LD
Rob RailerK8RAR
Jim LaukKC9UD
Skip BushKD0CXT
David KnickerbockerKN4ZGM
Bill SchultzKO4NID
Bob CreswickNB4C
Phil TsoW7TSO
Deb MarklyWD8JPX
Alicia PeruginiN/A
Participating Members Present

With the help of the W4MLB station in the club shack, a directed net was established using the PCARS 146.610MHz repeater located at Holmes Regional Medical Center. After testing communications with all stations through that repeater, the group transitioned to the PCARS 146.850MHz repeater located near Turkey Creek in Palm Bay. Once all stations established a connection there, the group finally tested station to station traffic using the PCARS default emergency simplex frequency of 146.580 MHz. One kit had to have the battery replaced, but all communications were successful.

The antenna hung on a balcony

The exercise exposed several areas where things need to be improved. The emergency committee will get together and improve the programing and settings of the radios. A few additional components will also be added to each kit. One more ladder line J-pole antenna needs to be constructed. If there is enough interest, we could have a club project where members could make their own.

The antenna design is very practical. It can be built at a very low cost, and has several qualities which make it a good choice for an emergency, field deployable, antenna. They can be rolled up and stored very easily, and hung just about anyplace. During our exercise, the antennas were hung from low tree branches, and the eave of an outbuilding. Plans can be found in many publications, and of course on the internet.

Hello world!

Hello world! is a phrase associated with computer programming. It is also appropriate for the website modernization project being undertaken by the PCARS Website Committee.

On Saturday, November 21, 2020, the website committee had a working meeting to plan for a revitalization of the PCARS website. It is realized that there is a wealth of information on the PCARS website. However, it has not kept up with the advances available in modern website design and coding. It was also difficult to edit existing information, and even harder to post new content.

It was decided at the website committee meeting to start development of a new website, to run in parallel with the old website, until such time as it can be switched over. It was agreed upon to use the WordPress content management system (CMS) as the framework on which to build the new site. WordPress is a free and open source software platform for building and maintaining modern, database driven websites.

If you are reading this post, then you have found your way to our preliminary test site, located at:

Take a look around. But remember that this is a work in progress. Many things may be incomplete, missing, or not working just right. This is all part of the process. The website committee is looking for members of the club who want to actively participate in this modernization project. We are especially in need of someone with computer graphics knowledge and skills. If you want to help, or just have comments or suggestions, please send them to the committee:

The Website Committee consists of:

  • Daniel Gravereaux – N1ZZ
  • Don Winn – AF4Z
  • Walter Aucoin Jr. – WB5ZGA
  • Donald Purnhagen – K4ILG
  • Dee Kaminski – N4DEE