Show Menu

Posted Dec 21, 2020

North Carolina ARRL Section News
DECEMBER 20, 2020

Greeting s from the High Country are being sent to you along with this, the 20th NC Section Newsletter which is sent out twice a month to 3100 ARRL members in North Carolina.

HIGH COUNTRY WX

In the past two weeks, we have had a couple of nights with light snowfall that quickly dissipated when temperatures arose above freezing. There have been periods with chill factors as low as 9, along with temperatures in the low 20’s but, most significantly we have had periods of high winds that have made it clear that winter is here. The ski slope operators love it, as do the hearty folks that can be seen on webcams as they ski at Beech, Sugar and Appalachian Ski mountains.

If you want a quick check on the weather up in the mountains, go to https://appalachianwx.com for information that is updated every ten minutes or so.

WEATHER FROM OUT OF THIS WORLD

Speaking of weather, some of you may be interested in Space Weather, actually, solar weather, which often affects radio propagation in the High Frequency spectrum (3-30 MHz)but can affect radio propagation on vhf and uhf at times.

Significant events on the surface of the sun can cause massive effects here on earth. Some of those effects are random but others are predictable over longer periods of time.

Some of the smartest people in the world use highly sophisticated instruments, both on earth and in space, to track solar activity on the surface of the sun.

A basic discussion of space weather can be found at https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/solar-activity/en/.

Coronal Mass Ejections are high energy plasma releases from the Sun that very much affect the Earth’s Ionosphere which in turn affects the degree to which the Ionosphere reflects radio waves on earth. Increases in solar activity causes most of what we commonly refer to as band openings or “skip” which leads to long distance communication (at low power) being reflected (perhaps more than twice) from Earth to the Ionosphere back to Earth, covering distances of thousands of miles. On most days, there is some change in propagation during the morning and daylight hours but, during periods of high ionization distant signals come in very clear on hf bands and even six meters may open up. This is far different than what we normally expect at any given frequency.

Ionization skip due to solar activity is different from “skip” at vhf and uhf frequencies which is caused by refraction (bending rather than reflecting) radio signals that affects vhf and uhf. This is called Tropospheric Ducting and occurs when stable high pressure weather (typically during the summer and autumn) produces temperature inversions (warm air resting atop cooler surface air). Radio signals hit the duct at altitudes up to 25,000 feet and are bent back to earth. The result is unusual propagation. An example occurred about a month ago when operators up here using 2 meter hand held radios talked on 146.5200 simplex to stations in Cleveland and our local two meter mountaintop repeater was repeating digital traffic from Minnesota.

Solar activity is somewhat random in the short run being determined by solar winds, changing the magnetic fields that vary in strength, and, if they break down, they release energy. The magnitude of the release affects both the size of the ejection and the speed at which it travels to earth. Intense flares may reach earth in a matter of hours while lesser ejections may take days to reach the earth.

The most intense solar flares can cause significant problems by disrupting communications (radio blackouts), damaging satellites and even disrupting the power system. The most significant instance of a damaging solar flare is referred to as a Carrington Event. The most intense Carrington Event occurred in 1859. Later in time, the entire Province of Quebec suffered an electrical system blackout due to a Carrington Event on March 13, 1989.

Onr the other hand, the overall pattern of solar activity follows and 11 year cycle, despite daily variations. For the past several years we have been in the low point of solar activity (with generally poor HF propagation) during Solar Cycle 24.

Scientists at the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense agree that we have entered into Solar Cycle 25 which will peak in 2025-2027 with improved hf activity due to an expected average sunspot index of 140-220. However, at least one researcher (McIntosh, see link below) believes that Cycle 25 will be the most active in fifty years. He is projecting indexes at double the level of the consensus forecast. In other words, the bands will be better and signals will become loud and clear from Europe, Asia, Africa which will be a delight for newcomers to dx and qsl collecting. Ten meters as well as six meters will be hopping.

Information on the topics in this section can be found at:

https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/coronal-mass-ejections

https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/solar-flares-radio-blackouts

https://www.history.com/news/a-perfect-solar-superstorm-the-1859-carrington-event

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/sun_darkness.html

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/what-will-solar-cycle-25-look-like-sun-prediction-model

https://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=301825

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/12/19/solar-cycle-prediction-mcintosh/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropospheric_propagation

CLUB MATTERS

Each Wednesday night, many of the 71 Section Manager meet by way of Zoom and focus on topics of mutual concern . This past Wednesday, the topic was clubs and how to keep them vital, active and growing.

Some clubs are reported to be struggling, both financially and in terms of activity. Some clubs have not met since March.

Clubs that held hamfests, even small hamfests, use the moneys collected to maintain their repeater(s). For some clubs, this is a big expense because some clubs have several repeaters, a club house to insure and maintain, as well as supporting school public school activities. So, not having a hamfest has affected their budget.

Other clubs have few members, but enjoyed meeting in person, but have not embraced Zoom or other technologies. A statement made at the Section Manager meeting was that a number of small clubs do not hold Zoom meetings (allegedly because older hams don’t like social media) and have been heard from for many months with the result that membership in the clubs have dropped off and members failed to send in dues.

A suggestion that was made involved small clubs partnering together with neighboring clubs to hold a combined Zoom meeting with a program that will attract participants and presenters. It was commented that club members are losing interest because their club lacks the ability to put on or obtain a program. This comment particularly surprised me.. I have mentioned in earlier issues of this this newsletter that I have downloaded almost 30 Section Manager and SEC sessions dealing with EmComm, Winlink, VARA, attracting youth into ham radio, wifi, digital hf operation, ARRL club and equipment insurance, Arecibo, SDR transceivers, HIPPA, and QRP operation. Additionally, there are interesting sessions from the Radio Club of America which has videos of their Technical Symposia. If you want a listing of the sessions and links so you can download the sessions, drop me a line.

In addition to the Section Manager Sessions and the volunteers who each week are producing valuable content, kudos should go out to the Forsyth and Brightleaf (Greenville) clubs who have hosted Riley Hollingsworth for his talk about the Volunteer Monitoring Program. The Raleigh Club hosted Bob Heil who makes the Gold Standard in ham radio microphones and a in-depth discussion about Vector Network Analyzers, inexpensive models of which are now readily available for less than $100. I bet each of those clubs will share their recorded club programs.

Back to the discussion of struggling clubs, I learned that ARRL has for many years has had a guide for newly elected Club Presidents, a document which I had never heard of in the nine months I have been Section Manager.

Finally, it is very important that clubs maintain current information about their club. I have been asked by Bill Morine to remind clubs to log into the ARRL database and update the information about their club, their officers and information about how to contact the club. Even if you have a webpage, you may be inadvertently hiding your club to persons who do a search on the ARRL Club webpage (http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club) if your club information hasn’t been updated in two years. Be sure to drop Tim Slay (n4IB@arrl.org) a note with information about your club. Tim and I will be holding a Zoom session with Club Presidents and Program Chairpersons in February. You will be invited if we know your address and contact information.

ARRL ROANOKE DIVISION MATTERS

On December 14, 2020, Bill Morine, N2COP, Roanoke Division Vice Director, gave a report over the Tarheel Net which he summarized in an email to me as follows:

“Topics I discussed tonight were:

Year end Roanoke Division newsletter will be sent via email to ARRL members shortly

Nomination process for the 2019 Roanoke Division Service Award will be announced soon. Catching up on this past due after the pandemic

Clubs should do their annual club updates on the ARRL website if they have not yet. www.arrl.org/club-update

There are 236 ARRL affiliated clubs in the Roanoke Division (NC, SC, VA and WV)

Nationally, ARRL recognizes the need to improve club relations. A Club Coordinator position is posted for hire at ARRL’s website.

ARRL has over $300,00. to give to deserving college and university students, ranging from $500. to $25,000. Application deadline is December 31. http://www.arrl.org/scholarship-descriptions.

In 2020, 9 Roanoke Division youth received scholarships, 3 of those from NC

N2COP will report on upcoming January 15-16 semiannual board meeting when he is next Tar Heel NCS on Monday, January 18, 2021.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Bill, N2COP

CHANGE IS IN THE WIND AT ARRL HQ

David Minster, NA2AA, recently appointed ARRL CEO, gave a presentation this week on a DX Engineering YouTube session. Dave spoke about his efforts to re-energize ARRL with its 87 employees. Much of his initial effort is aimed at updating technology and systems, which he calls digital transformation. He wants to make LOTW more user friendly, incorporating the League’s tremendous library of articles into a variety of video courses that will be more appealing to members. He is also leading a group at HQ which will use Raspberry Pi computers to access the technology at HQ Lab and to remotely operate W1HQ which is in the HQ building and is different than W1AW. He also mentioned that the LOTW will be linked to spotter systems so that a user can identify countries which the operator lacks for a particular certificate and an email will automatically go out alerting the operator that the needed country is on the air.

I welcome Dave’s ideas and hope he is able to lead the staff into embracing change. Most of the staff has worked from home for seven months and,even now, go into HQ very rarely due to the ongoing COVID rules in Connecticut. Dave’s interview can be found at: https://youtu.be/5bKv6InXAkg

ARRL IS APPARENTLY CHANGING ITS POLICY ABOUT AUXCOMM TRAINING

The January 2021 issue of QST has an interview with Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, recently appointed as Manager of Emergency Management at ARRL HQ , on pages 71-72. At the conclusion of the interview conducted by Rick Palm, K1CE, Paul urges ARES personnel to complete the Auxcomm course developed by the Department of Homeland Security and which is offered by instructors credentialed by DHS.

This is a significant departure from previous statements about EmComm. Completing the Auxcomm training is almost universally required for an operator to become embedded with any of the State and Territorial Emergency Management agencies and other Agencies Having Jurisdiction.

FCC MATTERS

No action has been taken by the FCC on a variety of pending matters, including:

Technician HF Privilege

Elimination of the 3300 baud rate limitation

Digital Sub-bands for HF stations

$50 Application Fee

There is a possibility that the first three matters could be acted upon before Ajit Pai, leaves as FCC Chairperson on January 20, 2021 but it is expected that the Commission will not undertake significant initiatives until it has five members. Also, since the Commission has not adopted a final rule concerning the $50 application fee, there will be no action for several months following a Commission vote to adopt the rule.

NC EMCOMM TRAINING

There has been some indication that NCEM may resume socially-distanced but in-person AUXCOMM training during the second quarter of 2021 (this Spring). During the continued COVID restrictions, NC hams are urged to complete the current versions of ICS 100C, 200C, 700B and 800D which are prerequisites for the AUXCOMM course. That way you will not be rushed to get the updated courses completed just prior ot the Auxcomm courses. The four FEMA courses are available on line and can be completed at https://training.fema.gov/is/

Also, there are now opportunities across the State for Auxcomm personnel to complete ICS300 and ICS400. Go to https://terms.ncem.org for schedule information.

NC STATE GOVERNMENT MATTERS

An article in the Raleigh News and Observer this week indicates that NC DMV will be replacing all license plates that are over seven years old. The new plates will be more reflective which will aid law enforcement. Special tags will be replaced in 2022 regardless of their age. There is no additional fee for the new tag but any vanity or special tag fees will still apply when the registration and local vehicle tax comes up for renewal. Info can be found at:

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article247893450.html

DISTRACTED DRIVING

As has been the case the last several years, it is expected that the NC General Assembly will be asked to pass a law to stiffen penalties for drivers who use wireless communications devices while driving.

Many states across the country have been adopted laws that levy heavy fines and insurance points for drivers who are involved in accidents that involve use of cellphones and tablets while operating a motor vehicle. Some allow law enforcement to issue a ticket even if there is no accident.

Several states have exempted amateur radio operators along with law enforcement, fire, medical, rescue and ems, as well as utility crews from their state laws, specifically allowing them to operate wireless devices while driving a vehicle in motion.. There is a need to make sure that our state representatives and senators understand there is no data indicating that ham radio operators pose any danger in driving and talking on the radio and, as such, should be treated as others who are exempt.

Your State Government Liaisons and I are working on this matter. We will closely monitor any movement in the legislature towards passing a law to prohibit use of an amateur radio while driving. We will reach out to you with requests to contact local legislators at crucial times if a bill harmful to ham radio appears likely to pass either house of the General Assembly.

NC QSO PARTY 2021

In response to a request from Dwayne Ayers, N4MIO, the NC Section will once again be a sponsor of the NCQP which is organized by the Raleigh Amateur Radio Society, The QSO party will be held on February 28, 2021. Information about the event, including rules, can be found at ncqsoparty.org . Additional information will appear in the February newsletters.

NET MATTERS

Thanks go out to Dave Roy, W4DNA, STM, for collating activity reports from the various nets. Because of the limitations of the ARRL email system, the report set out below has formatting problems and the additional pages that Dave submits are omitted. A complete copy of Dave’s report is available at http://ncarrl.org . Thanks also go out to the various Net Managers.

Additionally, AE4MF and the net control stations for the Tarheel Emergency Net are looking for an earlier time or a different frequency for the Tarheel Net. 7:30 p.m. during the winter months has proven to be a very difficult time to hold the net due to other nets and qso’s coming out of the Midwest and northeast.

W4DNA - NC Section Net Report - NOVEMBER 2020


NET

NMGR

QNI

LISTED

PASSED

TIME

SESSIONS

TFC %

SECTION NETS

CN

KC4PGN

379

144

122

533

60

84.72%

CSN

KV4WN

148

29

24

646

30

82.76%

NCEN

W4DNA

529

119

116

783

60

97.48%

NCMN

W3OJO

333

143

136

547

30

95.10%

THEN

AE4MF

253

380

24

LOCAL NETS

CWTN

N4CNX

366

57

57

480

30

100.00%

ENCTN

W4DNA

101

49

48

134

30

97.96%

PCTN

W4TTO

210

57

57

262

30

100.00%

TOTAL

2319

598

560

3765

294

93.65%

THANK YOU

Thanks go out to the various Section Staff members, to club Presidents and club officers, to each ham who practices courtesy on the ham bands, to the various net control stations, and to Susan Langley Jones, WA4AKB, who maintains the NC ARRL Section webpage.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Like many of you, I will forego a trip across the country to visit family for Christmas. It is always special to get to see how much the grandkids have grown since I last saw them, which this year will have been an entire year, but circumstances and the best advice I can find will lead me to remain at home and not travel to Pennsylvania this year.

Christmas will be very different for most of us. My hope is that we will use our time to reflect on the many good things that have come to us and our families this past year despite the problems that we have encountered.

It would be great if among the many things found on Christmas morning we could also find time to hope for Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.

Merry Christmas, happy New Year and thank you for the opportunity to have been your Section Manager for the past nine months.

Marv, WA4NC
Boone
828 964 6626