Show Menu

Posted Feb 12, 2021

North Carolina ARRL Section News

February 11, 2021

Greetings from the High Country.

All of the recent snow has disappeared with some warmer daytime temperatures.  We expect sleet, freezing rain and some snow tonight and over the weekend.  There has been light rain today but the weather forecasts call for freezing rain tonight.  More ominously, the longer term forecasts indicate the potential for .25 inches of ice on Monday and Tuesday.  Stay tuned because there could be power outages if the ice accumulation starts bringing down trees and limbs over the High Country.

ORLANDO HAMCATION

Although the large in-person even is canceled this year, the Orlando group is putting together a virtual Hamfest.  On Saturday, February 13, I will be watching the webinar led by David Minster, NA2AA, CEO of ARRL, will be leading an ARRL Membership Forum.  And, at 3 pm., Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, ARRL Director of Emergency Management, will be leading a panel entitled, “ARRL-ARES…a team moving forward”. 

The various webinars at the virtual Hamcation are free.  In addition to the two panels mentioned above, there are three or four sessions that begin on the hour between 10:00 and 3:00 pm on Saturday and again on Sunday.  Panels focusing on Elecraft, ICOM, Yaesu, Flex Radio, Vibroplex, and West Mountain are the vendors that will demonstrate their equipment and answer questions.  There are numerous sessions dealing with technology and operating practices as well.

To register for the FREE Hamcation, go to https://www.hamcation.com and choose which of the webinar-forum sessions you want to attend.

NC QSO PARTY

Operators are reminded to save the last weekend in February for on the air activities close to home.  On Sunday, February 28, the NC QSO Party will be held.  The day before, South Carolina will hold its QSO Party.  For new comings, the goal of these QSO parties is to contact as many (hopefully, all) counties in the station.  Operators out of state may be seeking contact with North Carolina stations.  Although there are 100 NC Counties, some counties have very small populations and relatively few amateur operators.  Information about the two QSO parties can be found at http://ncqsoparty.org and http://scqso.com

AN UNUSUAL ON THE AIR OPPORTUNITY

The radio station on the Battleship IOWA will be manned and on the air on Saturday, February 13.   They will be operating with call sign NE6PM on 14.243 and 18.143 between 9 a.m. and 12 Noon Pacific Standard Time.  Try to make a contact with the battleship!

ARRL MATTERS

The minutes of the recent ARRL Board meeting held on  January 15-16 have been released and can be found at http://www.arrl.org/files/file/ODV/Board%20Meeting%20Jan%202021/2021%20Annual%20Board%20of%20Directors%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf

Among the more interesting items were the following:

  1. There was a proposal to have the ARRL pay the $35 license application fee for the first 1000 persons in 2021 who are under 18 years applying for their first amateur radio license if they are active members of an ARRL affiliated 501 (c)(3) organization, providing the applicant tests and applies through the ARRL VEC. Apparently, the focus is on helping members of Scouting, Incorporated to become licenses amateurs.  After discussion, it was decided to have a committee report back to the Board no later than March 31, 2021 on the proposal.  No action was taken to have the ARRL pay the application fee.  (Agenda Item 31)
  2. A motion was made that the ARRL produce informational materials for use by amateurs and home owner associations in negotiating over antenna restriction contained in covenants that go with the property. After discussion, the Board voted 10 to 5 against producing such informational materials. (Item 32)
  3. Because of a six figure reduction in advertising revenues, the Board voted 13-2 in favor of accepting advertisings from non-Amateur Radio advertisers, excluding pornography, criminal and fraudulent enterprises. (Tem 33)
  4. Directed the Administration and Finance Committee to investigate the “state, cost and availability of commercial electronic balloting services” as a member-selected alternative to paper balloting. The Committee is to report back within one year concerning this proposal. (Item 34)
  5. There was an extended discussion concerning creating an Investment Advisory Committee, comprised of four officers, directors and vice directors, plus the treasurer, to advise the Administration and Finance Committee on matters realign to management of the ARRL investment portfolio. The committee would be empowered to consult with professional investment advisors and to prepare an interim or final report at the July 2021 meeting.  (Items 36, 37,38, and 39)

FIELD DAY RULES

ARRL announced that the special rules for Field Day 2020 will continue this year.  There will be power limits on Class D (Home Stations) and Class E (Home Stations on Emergency Power).  Class D Stations may work all other Field Day Station for points but both Class D and E stations are limited to 150 watts PEP output.  Information about the rules for Field Day 2021 can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-to-extend-field-day-rule-waivers-from-2020-add-class-d-and-e-power-limit.

RATPAC WEBINARS ON IMPORTANT TOPICS

The RATPAC (Radio Amateur Training Planning and Activities Committee) is comprised of a savvy group of amateurs that has been producing 60 minutes zoom sessions twice each week on a wide variety of topics.  A listing of approximately 70 sessions that you can view at your convenience can be found at http://tiny.cc/ratpac-list.  You may want to look at the list and choose the programs that you find interesting for either your own use or for a club meeting.

Two sessions were held this week that I want to commend for your viewing.

Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, heads up the ARRL Volunteer Monitoring Program.  He gave an interesting presentation earlier this week to the various Section Managers and others concerning the activities of VM which involves 165 volunteer monitors.

The philosophy of the program is to encourage amateurs to stop rules and is successful in most situations.  However, the VM Coordinator works closely with the FCC on serious violations  Riley retired as Special Counsel for Amateur Enforcement after a long career at the FCC and was placed in charge of the Volunteer Monitoring Program that replaced the now defunct Official Observer program.  I urge each of you to watch Riley’s talk which can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/511262703

Information on how to report offenders to the VM program can be found at http://www.arrl.org/volunteer-monitor-program.

Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, gave an interesting presentation on how an amateur group in Oregon has developed a mesh net that links hams as well as local emergency management.  The presentation gave a lot of “how to” advice on equipment and constructing a radio network that can provide connectivity in times when the internet is disrupted.  If you check with this link by Friday afternoon, the mesh net presentation will be available.

CLUB MATTERS

TIM Slay, N4IB, Affiliated Club Coordinator, and I will have a virtual meeting with Club Presidents and Club Program Chairs, on February 24, 2021 at 7 pm.  Check with the relevant persons in your club to confirm that they received the invitation that was sent on February 1, 2021.  There is still room for additional participants (and I suspect that non-affiliated clubs will be welcome as well.  Use this as an opportunity to build bridges to nearly clubs and to share information concerning what other clubs are doing to retain activity in their clubs.  Drop Tim a line at n4ib@arrl.org for a link to the meeting.

As I have written in previous newsletters, I am available to virtually visit with your club and offer a brief update about NC ARRL.  Drop me a line at wa4nc@arrl.org and if there is not a time conflict I will be happy to meet with your group and take questions.

SOTA – SUMMITS ON THE AIR

This past month the Watauga Amateur Radio Club had an excellent presentation about SOTA given by Mark Vickers, K7EEX.  Mark is an avid SOTA activator and is quite willing to repeat his presentation to other clubs.  He will explain SOTA rules and will easily demonstrate his passion for hiking to the top of summits.  Avid SOTA activators are always looking for new summits and all of them welcome opportunities to contact operators around the country.  Mark can be reached at 3monkeycircus@gmx.com if you want to invite him to speak to your club.

MARS MATTERS

US Army MARS will conduct an Interoperability Exercise COMEX 21-1 on February 23-27.  MARS stations will pass voice and digital traffic on 60 meters on Channel 1 as well as other 60 meter channels. Amateur operators are authorized to communicate with MARS stations during these exercises.  Everyone is reminded that the amateur allocation on 60 meters is secondary to government operation.  Information can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/mars-announces-schedule-of-dates-for-60-meter-interoperability.

SPACE MATTERS

Steve Ewald, WV1X, at ARRL HQ, asked the Section Managers to pass information to members in each Section:

“ARISS is Seeking Hosts for Ham Radio Contacts with the Space Station, 02/03/2021

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is seeking formal and informal educational institutions and organizations, individually or working together, to host amateur radio contacts with an International Space Station (ISS) crew member. Contacts would likely be scheduled between January 1 and June 30, 2022.

These voice radio contacts are approximately 10 minutes long and in a question-and-answer format. ARISS contacts afford participants the opportunity to learn firsthand what it’s like to live and work in space, and about space research conducted on the ISS. Students will also have an opportunity to learn about satellite communication, wireless technology, and radio science.

Crew scheduling and ISS orbits will determine the exact dates.

ARISS is looking for organizations that can draw large numbers of participants and integrate the contact into a well-developed education plan. Organizations must demonstrate flexibility to accommodate changes in dates and times of the radio contact. The deadline for proposals is March 31, 2021.

Visit the ARISS website for more details and a proposal form. An ARISS introductory webinar will be held on February 25, 2021 at 8 PM EST (0100 UTC on February 26). Participants must register. Email with any questions.”

NC LEGISLATIVE MATTERS

A number of states have adopted restrictions on the use of tablets, laptops and other devices that are used to send text while a vehicle is in motion.  All these bills generally fall under the topic of distracted driving.  Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and insurance groups often push for state laws that that prohibit use of these devices while driving.  Some states impose heavy fines and insurance points for such use.

Senate Bill 20 was introduced by Senators Burgin, Corbin and Woodward in the North Carolina Senate on January 27, 2021.  (https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookup/2021/S20.   

This is a very complicated topic.  Some think that amateur radio operators should be allowed to enter data on an Iphone, tablet or laptop while driving and some states specifically authorize amateur radio operators to use data terminals while in motion, just as the laws exempt law enforcement, ems, fire and rescue and utility personnel.  Others fail to see a good reason to allow amateur radio operators to use laptop, tablet and other data entry devices while driving.

Over the past eighteen months, Chuck deCourt, W3WZN, your State Government Liaison, has worked on this matter with Senator Burgin (who was Chair of the Commerce and Insurance Committee in the previous session and remains a member of the Committee. He also owns an insurance agency).

In several meetings and conversations with Chuck, Senator Burgin pointed out that the proposed law exempts amateur radio operators while responding to an emergency situation.  Furthermore, Senator Burgin points out that the proposed law does not limit the use of amateur radio devices while driving but rather applies o wireless communications devices subject to 47 USC Section 332(c)(7)(C)(1) which covers devices such as cell phones, iPads, tablets, and other cell phone like devices which allow keyboard entry of data.

This matter is far from settled.  It is a proposed bill at this time and has not been subject to a hearing or passage in either the House or Senate.

Rest assured that Chuck and I will closely monitor this matter as it passes through the legislative process. You will be contacted when Chuck and I feel that your phone calls, letters or emails can influence the wording of anything that may become law.

CLOSING COMMENTS

The good news is that an increasing number of persons have or soon will receive their second COVID-19 vaccination.  Some areas have opened megasites with upwards of 19,000 person vaccinated on a single weekend (Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bank of America Stadium). 

Locally, I am grateful to the Appalachian District Health Department nurses who have been running clinics that were small and large (1100 persons) on one day.  I got my second shot on Tuesday and I had some reaction but 48 hours later I am feeling close to normal. 

I have a friend of more than 50 years and, over the past three months, I have repeatedly urged him to get signed up for his first COVID-19 his shot.  He has an underlying health condition that led to the amputation of his right leg and is visited by Home Health agency four times per week.  Thus far he has come up with a dozen excuses for not signing up for his shots despite living within a half mile of a hospital and no more than two miles from a VA hospital.

Age or education is not an excuse nor will it prevent getting COVID-19. 

Don’t be like my friend or the 2500 UNC-Chapel Hill students, overcome with euphoria in the victory over Duke, jammed Franklin Street and possibly had a super spreader event.  To be on the safe side, while they see how many people come down with COVID, UNC-CH cancelled in person classes for two weeks and reverted to on-line classes.

My advice to you is the same as I gave to my friend. Get you shots, wash your hands, socially distance and wear a facemask when leaving home. 

73, Marv, WA4NC