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Brown University Amateur Radio Club

The Brown Amateur Radio Club (BARC) is a student group at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It is organized by undergraduate and graduate students, but is open to all members of the Brown community including faculty, staff, and alumni. The club station license is K1AD. It has been an ARRL affiliated club since 1975. Visit the website for updates about meetings and activities. Members can sign up for the BARC email list.


BARC is collaborating with the Brown Space Engineering team who are building a nanosatellite (aka cubesat) which is scheduled for launch by NASA in during the spring 2018 semester. The satellite will have a 70cm amateur radio sending telemetry and a Morse code beacon using the club station license K1AD. BARC members are working on the ground station to receive the data. Other current projects include high altitude balloon communications.


The club has gone through a number of incarnations during its long history. The earliest reference found, so far, is 1919. The earliest club call sign 1XX was an experimental class Special Land Station used from 1920-1925. W1VPY was used from the early 1950s to the mid 1970s. K1NAK which is printed on a QSL card along with W1VPY was issued to the Navy ROTC Unit at Brown. K1AD has been the club call since the mid 1970s.

The images below illustrate the history of the club and its activities. (Larger versions of some of the images are available; click on an image to view the source.)

"Brown CubeSat team shoots for the stars with microsatellite" from the Brown Daily Herald, September 3, 2013.

"Team members hope to put in a panel of LED lights that will be visible to the naked eye from the ground as well as a radio that people on the ground will be able to hear when the satellite passes over them," Hannah Varner ’14 said.

EQUiSat cubesat

"CQ … standing by …" from the Brown Daily Herald, November 7, 2006.

Joey Borson KB3HBH class of 2007 answers the question: "In the age of the Internet, is there any room left for ham radio?"

"Riding the Waves with Brown's Hams" from the Brown Daily Herald, September 16, 1985.

Brown Daily Herald, September 16, 1985Brown Daily Herald, September 16, 1985

QSL card for K1AD, December 4, 1980.

K1AD QSL card

"Radio Club Action Dropped by FCC" from the Washington Post, Aug. 15, 1970

The radio club at Brown was one of 14 college amateur radio clubs issued a violation notice by the FCC for participating in the National Student Information Network. Over 100 college clubs were involved in a protest during May 1970 which was in response to the incident at Kent State. Other amateur radio operators attempted to jam the student action with intentional interference. The amateur stations were "accused of violating an infrequently used section of FCC regulations that prohibits use of an amateur radio station on behalf of an organization that is not eligible for an FCC license." The charges were later dropped.

"The campus radio club at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., according to the FCC, went on the air as a unit of the National Student Information Network to discuss a campus program to collect draft cards. The radio operator, after quoting from an FCC regulation prohibiting rebroadcast and declaring his broadcast was for "Brown University Strike Central alone," announced: "The information is that we have over 6,000 draft cards, including yours, and we want draft cards, not pledges... Go!" It was overheard at an FCC intercept station at Laurel, Md., and the Brown University radio club's trustee was cited."

The QSL card below for W1VPY and K1NAK was used in the 1950s.

The Radio Club W1VPY and the Navy ROTC K1NAK stations shared a ham shack in Faunce Hall.

QSL card from the 1950s

An early version of the W1VPY QSL card from the 1950s.

W1VPY QSL card

"Number of Students Planning to Organize Amateur Radio Club" from the Brown Daily Herald, October 1, 1952.

Brown Daily Herald, October 1, 1952

"Various Defense Courses Help Meet Problems Raised By War" from the Brown Daily Herald, January 7, 1942.

Brown University offers defense courses to aid the war effort including Principles of Radio with an emphasis on UHF methods for radar.

Brown Daily Herald, January 7, 1942

Brown Daily Herald, January 7, 1942

"Late War Bulletins" from the Brown Daily Herald, December 8, 1941.

The FCC issues an emergency order suspending the operation of amateur radio transmissions and placing special restrictions on all international communication as the United States declares war on Japan.

Brown Daily Herald, December 8, 1941

"Wyman Will Speak at Radio Club Meeting" from the Brown Daily Herald, November 5, 1928.

Charles Newton Kraus W1BCR (formerly 1BCR, before June 1928) of the Brown University class of 1931 was an early President of the club.

Brown Dailey Herald, Nov. 5, 1928

"Radio Club to Attend Television Exhibition" from the Brown Daily Herald, October 22, 1928.

Brown Daily Herald, Oct. 22, 1928Brown Daily Herald, Oct. 22, 1928

"Special Land Stations" from Radio Service Bulletin, October 1, 1925.

Alterations and corrections to be made to the List of Radio Stations of the United States. Strike out all particulars of the following-named stations: Providence, R.I. (1XX)

Radio Service Bulletin, Oct. 1, 1925

"Tran-Atlantic Amateur Tests Successful" from Wireless Age, February 1923.

The club participated in an ARRL test conducted in December 1922 between the United States and Europe. The club station 1XX was heard in France, code word verified. A distance of approximately 3,500 miles.

Wireless Age, December 1923

"Special Land Stations" from Radio Service Bulletin, June 1, 1923.

Alterations and corrections to be made to the List of Radio Stations of the United States. Providence, R.I. (1XX) — W.L. 180-600. (wave lengths assigned in meters)

Radio Service Bulletin, Jun. 1, 1923

"Radio Tubes" from Wireless Age, May 1921.

Amateur radio operators from Brown and other local clubs attend a lecture giving technical instructions on the use of vacuum tubes for radio.

Wireless Age, May 1921

"Some Simple C.W. Sets" from QST, April 1921.

The Brown Radio Club operated an experimental class Special Land Station using the callsign 1XX from October 1920 to October 1925. The station was authorized to transmit on wavelengths from 180 - 600 meters. It typically had a range of up to 900 miles. A description of the home-made transmitter and a key to the schematic below can be found in QST magazine.

QST, April 192

This alternating current C.W. set used two Western Electric VT-2 vacuum tubes with the plate current supplied by a 600 Volt alternator. (The alternator is not shown in the photograph.)

QST, April 1921

QSO log for club station 1XX.

"Stations Worked and Heard" from Wireless Age
1BDI, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, Feb. 1922

"Call Heard" from QST
8JQ, Washington, PA, 1921
8WE, Elmira, NY, Jan. 1921
8ZG, Salem, OR, Jan. 1921
2AEQ, Bronx, New York City, Jan. 1921
8WE, Elmira, NY, Dec. 1920

"The Operating Department" from QST
1TS, Donald H. Mix, CT, Nov. 1920

"Directory of Wireless Societies" from The Year-Book of Wireless Telegraphy & Telephony, 1920 & 1921.

The club is listed in The Year-Book of Wireless Telegraphy & Telephony under the heading Directory of Wireless Societies. The 1921 edition lists E. Standish Palmer as president and John J. Csepely as secretary and treasurer. The 1920 edition lists D. M. Gordon as secretary and treasurer. Wilson Hall was originally the Physical Laboratory building.

Directory of Wireless Societies, 1921

Year-Book of Wireless Telegraphy & Telephony 1920

"Special Land Stations" from Radio Service Bulletin, October 1, 1920.

Additions to the List of Radio Stations of the United States. Providence, RI | 1XX | Brown University (Physics Department)

Radio Service Bulletin, Oct. 1, 1920

"The Operating Department" from QST, September 1920.

A report on activities from the New England Division describes a 1/2 KW rotary spark transmitter with a two stage amplifier. The call sign 1LAU was assigned to Herbert R. Grimshaw who was a member of the Brown Students' Army Training Corps in 1922.

"The College Chronicle" from Brown Alumni Monthly, December 1919.

The officers of the Radio Club. The Caduceus of Kappa Sigma from 1919 also mentions "...E. L. Sweet '21, elected president of the newly-organized Brown radio club."

"Government Restrictions on Amateur Wireless Work Partially Lifted" from the Brown Daily Herald, April 22, 1919.

This article does not mention the club or student involvement but does state that Brown would be unable to use its "fine aerial" for transmitting, except in the case of special experiments.

Brown Daily Herald, April 22, 1919

"Wireless Course Offered at Brown" from the Christian Science Monitor, February 19, 1916.

A description of the 450 foot long aerial used for a course in practical and experimental wireless telegraphy in the department of electrical engineering.

Wireless course offered at Brown

Information compiled by Michael Umbricht W9GYR, club adviser and trustee of the club station license.

8367275 Last modified: 2017-10-03 20:03:53, 17129 bytes

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