K3CSG
Scranton Pocono AmateurRadio Klub
est. 1953

       The Abington Amateur Radio Club, AARC, founded by William Shaffer, (callsign unknown) in 1953, was one of the first Amateur Radio organizations in the area. During the 1950's, there was a total of three local clubs: The Wyoming Valley ARC, Wilkes-Barre; The Electric City ARC, Scranton; and the AARC, Clarks Summit. By the late 1950's, the AARC continued to grow while the others gradually disappeared.

     The 1960's was a time of rapid change and growth within Amateur Radio and the AARC as well. Incentive licensing became law and the AARC responded by offering free Ham Radio classes to those interested. A large number of people took advantage of this offering in preparation for their FCC tests. In 1972, with the interest in VHF communications, the AARC sponsored the formation of the Lackawanna Valley Repeater Association. The LVRA established the first repeater in Northeastern Pennsylvania. W3BJU/R 146.340/940 MHz, composed of a separate receiver and transmitter, was located on the Ron Hatfield property in Clarks Summit. The value of this system was quickly proven that summer when the Agnes flood waters ravaged portions of the area.

     In the fall of 1972, the system was moved to a much higher location on the WWDL-FM radio tower on West Mountain in Scranton. In 1975 the LVRA/AARC was called upon again when yet another flood occurred in Luzerne County. Later that same year, the LVRA officially rejoined their parent organization and invested in excess of one thousand dollars to improve their repeater system. Training in emergency and public service communications became a major part of the AARC. Its lessons proved to be valuable with Amateur Radio involvement in the Johnstown, Three Mile Island and the Scranton mine disasters. It was decided, in 1981, to change the AARC's name to one that was more representative of its area of interest and membership. The name Scranton Pocono Amateur RAdio Klub, SPARK, was decided upon. A constitution was written and the license K3CSG was given by the FCC. SPARK has undergone many changes to accommodate the evergrowing interest with Ham Radio in this area.

     SPARK still believes that Amateur Radio should not only be a hobby for its operators, but that it should be a way to assist the general public by providing routine and emergency services when needed. SPARK is affiliated with the Emergency Management Agency of Lackawanna County and stands willing to provide communication support required in the event of a disaster. SPARK promotes National Weather Service SKYWARN program, which utilizes Amateur Radio to spot severe weather and encourages its members to become affiliated. We also aid local chapters of various charitable organizations with taheir annual races and walk-a-thons, by providing communication support to enhance the safety of the participants.

     SPARK provides a wide spectrum of services geared toward the Amateur Radio community. At present, we are the only Amateur Radio club that owns and maintains and autopatch equiped repeater system and PACKET radio node. The repeater, K3CSG/R on 146.340/940 MHz, and packet node, SPK on 145.050 MHZ, are open to all hams, but the autopatch is exclusive to use by SPARK members. Both systems are presently located on the WWDL-FM towers as previously mentioned. At an elevation of 2200 feet, we are able to provide coverage to Lackawanna, Luzerne and parts of Bradford, Monroe, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties. SPARK conducts the Lackawanna County AREC NET Wednesday evenings at 8 PM on K3CSG/R. This is a directed net designed for emergency traffic. When no disaster is declared, the net is used for routine traffic handling and training. Bulletins regarding general Amateur Radio information and SPARK events are announced weekly. Informal check-ins with or without traffic are always welcome!

     SPARK is dedicated to the promotion of Amateur Radio by offering testing sessions to the public and to other Hams. We have three highly experienced Contact Volunteer Examiners, CVEs, representing the ARRL. Laurel and W5YI groups with more than a dozen Volunteer Examiners under their guidance. Testing is held the second Wednesday monthly, 7 PM at Dunmore High School.

     "Keynotes Quarterly" is the official newsletter of SPARK. It contains articles, by and for our members, concerning SPARK functions, general Amateur Radio information and associated topics of interest. KQ is distributed to the members in attendance during the February, May, August and November SPARK meetings. Funds are allocated during these meetings and the remaining newsletters are mailed shortly thereafter.

     For its members, SPARK has purchased a liability insurance policy. This policy is tailored to fit our needs and covers ALL members participating in a club authorized function. As soon as an individual is accepted for membership, insurance protection begins.

     SPARK participates annually in the ARRL FIELD DAY held in late June. The principle behind FIELD DAY is to make radio contacts in a less than optimal location, using simple antennas and generator, battery or solar power. In its purest form, FIELD DAY is used as a training tool for Amateurs to experience what it may be like to operate duringduring an emergency situation. We normally have our effort situated at a park in the Scranton area. As a new member, you are encouraged to attend, lend a hand and experience all that FIELD DAY means to SPARK. If you would like to operate one of our radios outside of your privileges, don't hesitate to ask a member to be your control operator. After all, how will you learn something new if you don't jump at an opportunity.

     Members of our club routinely participate in the PA QSO PARTY. This is an on-the-air radio contest, held in early October, that draws massive attention nationwide. Unlike FIELD DAY, SPARK members operate their own stations, whether mobile or stationary and combine scores for a cumulative total. You need not worry about having HF privileges, since there is plenty of action to be found on VHF and UHF as well!

     Finally, SPARK conducts its meetings the third Tuesday of every month on the second floor of the Christian Education Building at the Hickory Street Presbyterian Church in South Scranton. The meetings are designed to accomdate the business necessary to SPARK's future. Presentations and seminars are also given during these meetings. As a member, you are encouraged, but not required, to attend and give your input or make suggestions. The meetings begin at 7:30 PM. Please feel free to attend whether you are a ham or thinking about getting your license. We would be glad to have you. For more information or to receive an application, contact K3CSG at the email address below. The information will be forwarded to you at your email address or at your snail mail address. Applications are only snail mailable. 73 from the Officers of SPARK.

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© 2015 Christopher Doherty, N3UVR and SPARK, the Scranton Pocono Amateur Radio Klub, Inc.