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Updated Thursday, July 7, 2016

Short History of the Pack Rats

The Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club was founded in 1956 by a group of Philadelphia area hams whose main interests were building equipment and operating the amateur radio frequencies of 50 MHz and above. The founding members almost immediately were nicknamed the "Pack Rats" because of their propensity for collecting all manner of electronic equipment and parts. The nickname stuck and for more than 60 years the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club, better known as the "Pack Rats", has grown and prospered. Although the higher frequency and microwave bands carry the mystique of requiring specialized technical skills, our members come from all walks of life but share a common interest in VHF and above operating and help each other wherever possible. We do have a number of members with technical expertise and many of the transverter, amplifier, and antenna designs that these members have created have been publicized in the major Amateur Radio journals and conferences.

ARRL President: Kay C. Craigie, N3KN
The "Pack Rat"
Former ARRL President: Joel Harrison, W5ZN

Banquet Celebration for the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club's
50th Anniversary 2006

The Pack Rats have always held the principals established by the founding members in high regard. The club constitution is strictly adhered to and requires the active participation of all regular members.

The Pack Rats have been particularly successful in the art of VHF contesting. We have won top honors in the January VHF Contest Club Competition for over 40 years. Contests, especially the ARRL sponsored January SS and June VHF QSO Party, are a means of testing our stations and improving our operating skills. Below is a display of awards as of 1996.

Contest Gavels

The Pack Rats are not organized strictly as a contest club. But since contests serve to enhance activity in a friendly, competitive way on the bands above 50 MHz, the club has embraced weak signal contesting from its earliest days.

The Pack Rats sponsor several on the air activities. Weekly nets, the monthly microwave activity night, beacons, and a club repeater promote activity on the VHF bands and help our members and others to share information and check their stations. We also sponsor a yearly technical symposium, the Mid Atlantic VHF Conference, and the largest local amateur radio flea market, Hamarama.

Below is a scanned copy of the 1948 membership list for the York Road Radio Club that was found in Ernie's (W3KKN SK) files. Ernie was the VP of the club at that time.

The York Road Radio Club was the largest radio club in the area at the time but during the mid 1950's several members of the club were dissatisfied with the clubs direction. There was also a new contest at that time sponsored by the ARRL and targeted to the VHF bands. These radio amateurs decided to start a new club focused on promoting VHF / UHF experimentation and operating. That new club was the Mount Airy VHF Radio Club which soon became known as the Pack Rats. There are still a number of familiar calls on these pages.
Pack Rat Roots

To learn more about the Packrats contact any of our members or the individuals listed below:

Call Location E-Mail
WA3NUF Warminster, PA
W3IIT Norristown, PA

Pack Rat Membership E-Mail List

Updated 7/7/16

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