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Posted Feb 3, 2012

I regret the January NC section newsletter is late but I have a family member in hospice. Thank you for understanding during a difficult period for my family - Bill N2COP

NORTH CAROLINA QSO PARTY - Get your equipment ready. The annual North Carolina state QSO Party will be Sunday, February 26th, from 12 Noon to 10:00 PM local time. Dedicated teams of rovers will be transiting to try to get all 100 counties on the air. This is the one time each year North Carolina is showcased to the world, and many operators across the globe will be trying to reach NC stations. To see details and rules, go to the website of the QSO Party sponsor, the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club of Winston-Salem, at I hope to work many of you on the air.

CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY GREETINGS to Bill Finch, W4EHF, of Greenville. Bill is the most spry 100 year old you'll ever meet. Not only can you hear him most days on the North Carolina Morning Net at 7:45 AM at 3927 KHz, but Bill is also a star athlete. He is the national badminton champion in his age bracket, and he plans to go to the Senior Olympics in Cleveland, Ohio next year to win the title of the fastest man over age 100. Catch the national video Fox News aired about him at Happy Birthday Bill, and thanks for all you have done to make Ham Radio better in the Tar Heel state!

PIRATE NAMED ARRL TREASURER - Normally this would be an alarming headline, but we should all take pride that East Carolina University Vice Chancellor Rick Niswander, K7GM, of Greenville is ARRL's new Treasurer. Rick is a CPA and teaches accounting and business at ECU. An avid CW DXer, Rick replaces Jim McCobb, K1LU, who served as ARRL Treasurer for almost 30 years. As Treasurer, Rick becomes a member of the ARRL Board. Congratulations, Rick.

ROANOKE SERVICE AWARD WINNERS - Congratulations to South Carolina's John Crockett, W3KH, and West Virginia Section Manager Ann Rinehart, KA8ZGY, winners of this year's Roanoke Division Service Award. This prestigious annual award has gone for the past 44 years to the person or persons who best exemplify Amateur Radio spirit in the four states which comprise the Roanoke Division - North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. John Crockett has been instrumental in designing and installing SCHEARTS, the South Carolina Healthcare Emergency Amateur Radio Team System, a statewide public health Amateur Radio network of 27 repeaters. Ann has been the long time WV Section Manager. Lat year's winner was North Carolina's own Duke Kneif, W4DK, of Hendersonville who was recognized for his ARES work in western NC.

END OF BPL IN NORTH CAROLINA? - Many Hams will remember the uproar almost a decade ago about internet access through Broadband over Power Lines, or "BPL". Some BPL systems caused interference, especially on 20 meters and other HF frequencies. ARRL's position remains that it is not opposed to BPL, but just to those systems which cause interference in Amateur Radio spectrum. BPL has turned out not to be an economical way to deliver residential internet service. IBEC, manufacturer for what is believed to be the only BPL system in North Carolina, announced it is ceasing operations. However, no mention of IBEC's demise is cited on the website of the French Broad Electric Membership Corporation, which is supplying BPL in western North Carolina. Hams continue to report BPL interference in the Mars Hill area north of Asheville. Details on the French Broad Coop's BPL system at:

HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR USES APRS FOR GRADUATION PROJECT - Many school districts in North Carolina now require seniors to complete a community or academic project to graduate from high school. James McNichols, KK4ETE, who attends Asheville's Carolina Day School, built a weather balloon and used APRS to track it and send data. He launched his balloon, Calvin 1, on January 31st. It flew three and a half hours to an altitude of 104,723 feet, setting a high school record and possibly beating a college record set by MIT students, before landing near Asheboro, almost 150 miles away. Asheville ABC affiliate WLOS-TV covered the event. You can read more and see video at

LoTW NOW SUPPORTS CQ AWARD - ARRL's Logbook of The Word (LoTW) has been a boon for providing fast QSLs. Contesters and DXers especially appreciate the speed with which log uploads to LoTW can provide credit. Many popular contests sponsored by CQ magazine, however, still require paper QSLs for documentation - until now. ARRL and CQ jointly announced that LoTW can be used for CQ's WPX contest, starting with the March 24-25 SSB dates. This is pilot program and if it works well, LoTW may be expanded to other CQ contests.

NTS DECEMBER SECTION TRAFFIC REPORT - QNI (total check-ins) 3160 (down 4% from November). TOTAL MESSAGES PASSED 651 (down 54 or 7%). STATION ACTIVITY REPORTS (SARs) K4IWW 404, KB3LR 231, W4DNA 227, KJ4JPE 82, N2RTF 71, W2EAG 71, W3HL 68, WK4P 60, K4JUU 51, W4TTO 48, KE4AHC 38, KK4ANZ 38, KC4PGN 34, KA4IZN 17. PUBLIC SERVICE HONOR ROLL (PSHR) KA4IZN 206, WK4P 145, K4IWW 130, W4DNA 130, K4JUU 120, KJ4JPE 115, N2RTF 110, W2EAG 110, W4TTO 100, KK4ANZ 68.

HAMFESTS - Feb. 18 Stop Hunger Hamfest, Dobson Fire Dept., Dobson, NC. Talk-In 145.43; March 10-11, Charlotte Hamfest and Roanoke Division Convention, Cabarrus Arena, Concord. Talk-In 146.665 (PL 118.8) More info at:

MEDIA HITS - In addition to Fox News covering Bill Finch and WLOS covering James McNichols's balloon launch, the Fedora Project featured Eric "Sparks" Christensen, W4OTN, a computer security expert. The Fedora Project is a users group website for Linux users. Check out his profile at: Finally, CQ magazine's Public Service column featured Orange County Radio Association (OCRA) Hams supporting the 5th annual Occoneechee Speedway Car Show and Racers' Reunion in Hillsborough.

PUBLIC SERVICE - Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge and Electronics Merit Badge, Saturdays Feb 4-25 at Gardner-Webb University in Boling Springs and Feb. 25 in Marion. Thanks to members of the Cleveland County Amateur Radio Society for teaching these badges

LICENSING CLASSES - Technician Class, February 14-March 22, Asheville. To find a class, go to To register an upcoming class, please go to

SPECIAL EVENT STATIONS - None known in North Carolina in February

SILENT KEYS - We regret to report the passing of Peter Hulth, N4SXG, of Smithfield; Thomas Pugh, KB4JO, of Winston-Salem; and Bobby Sherill, W4FR, of Maiden.

QUA - I've renamed this column from "The Last Word", which I saw was being used in at least four other Ham Radio publications, to the "Q" net signal of "QUA", meaning "Do you have news for me?" I hope QUA will bring you insight and relevance to observations which apply to the North Carolina section. Two observations this month.

First, using Amateur Radio for experiments is a hallmark of our hobby. That's why the story of James McNichols, KK4ETE, of Asheville using APRS on his weather balloon project is so exciting. In late December, ARRL released its newest public relations campaign entitled, "Do It Yourself" or "DIY". The DIY video and supporting materials aims exactly at kids and adults like James - tinkerers who want to explore the frontiers of wireless communications. DIY gets back to the roots of Amateur Radio. Look at all the DIY materials available free for download at and show this to teachers, school administrators, Scout leaders, camp directors and counselors and electronics fair organizers, such as Maker Faires. If the U.S. wants to take a leadership position again in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (also called the "STEM" initiative), then DIY shows how Amateur Radio can be part of a new generation of education.

Finally, our hobby has great spokespeople and statesmen who have vision and can point out trends which might escape most of us. This one comes from one of the really good guys in Ham Radio, Rich Moseson, W2VU, Editor of CQ magazine. With the current solar cycle expected to peak in 2013 or 2014, Rich points out in his January editorial that this will be the first solar peak where every U.S. licensed Ham operator can participate on HF. He's right: Technicians have SSB privileges from 28.300-28.500 MHz. The playing field has been leveled. Rather than look at the glass half empty because the band will be wall-to-wall operators, look at it as half full, and the opportunity to coax Technicians to upgrade to General and Extra. Once Technicians get the HF bug, many will upgrade, and that will make the hobby better for all of us.

73 de Bill N2COP