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Posted Jan 10, 2021

North Carolina ARRL Section News
January 10, 2021

Greetings from the High Country where we Friday evening gave us seven inches of snow where I live (near Tweetsie Railroad between Boone and Blowing Rock). As much as eight inches of snow is covering the highest WNC mountaintops. Although it would be a good time to play radio, there have been a number of activities that have occupied a lot of my time since the last newsletter so this one will be somewhat abbreviated. Another newsletter will be out in two weeks.

TODAY IN RADIO HISTORY

January 10, 1946

Using excess radar equipment from World War II, US Army Signal Corps personnel at Fort Monmouth, while experimenting to determine whether then current radar sets could be adapted to track missies, transmitted and received signals bounced off the moon, demonstrating that radio could penetrate the ionsphere allowing EME operation and also opening up the potential for radio telescope, and missile tracking systems that became a part of our first line of defense (like the Dew Line) that was part of the Cold War. Go to https://stardate.org/radio/program/2021-01-10?fbclid=IwAR2eESZhFCcgP0f6xIezZRZDUjyPEMU9XPvr4KhLoYEEggEw4HEAj33u7V0 ,

TRY SOMETHING NEW!

COVID and wintertime might leave you wanting to try something new that you can do while staying at home. Learn about and begin working satellites from your home. An interesting video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKZ_qCfGn5A.

TRAFFIC NETS

Information about activities about the various traffic nets can be found at ncarrl.org. Around the 10th of each month, Section Traffic Manager Dave Roy, W4DNA, receives net reports which are posted at www.ncarrl.org. You may want to check in and learn about traffic handling.

CLUB MATTERS

Ask your club President or Program Chair if they have been in touch with Tim Slay (n4ib@arrl.org). He will hold another virtual meeting with the Club Leadership group in February.

A priority that Tim and I have is to make sure that the clubs are exchanging information with each other, whether it is success stories, tales of struggling with losing members, or exchanging information on joint efforts to arrange classes and testing sessions. Tim will be sending out a notice later with information about the club leadership meeting to those persons on his list of interested clubs.

FCC MATTERS

Despite receiving over 2000 comments, and over despite opposition to the fee from the ARRL, the FCC chose to go forward with the requirement that amateur radio operators pay an application fee. The Commission decreased the fee from $50 to $35. The amateur radio fee cannot take effect for at least 30 days after being published in the Federal Register, an action which has not yet occurred.

My guess is that it will take effect sometime in February but you will receive a special email from me when the date is finally set.

A second FCC matter requires your attention as well. A definite date has been set for the requirement that amateur radio operators include their email address on any application filed with the FCC beginning on June 29, 2021. The FCC stated that there have been slow or no responses to mailed notices from the Commission. As a result, they have amended the FCC rules to require licensees to maintain a current email address on file with the FCC.

You can get ahead of the game and add your email now and you do not have to wait until June 29, 2021, after which you must have a valid email on file with the FCC.

There is no charge to update your email address with the FCC but there are some tedious steps to be followed:

  1. Retrieve your FRN (Federal Registration Number) which is shown on your QRZ record under “Detail”.
  2. Once you have the FRN, go to: https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp
  3. This link will allow you to log into the FCC Universal License Manager. Enter your FRN and password—if you have forgotten it, you can reset it on line or you can register into the FCC ULM and set up a password.
  4. Update your file, including your email and any other changes, such as an updated USPS address, if you have moved.

Also, on the FCC front, within the very lengthy Report and Order established the various application fees for the various services, the FCC discussed its reasoning in creating the application fee. The FCC considered but ignored comments from over 2000 hams, as well as the ARRL, that amateur radio should be exempt from fees because of the role that amateur radio plays in times of disasters. The FCC disagreed, stating that “amateur radio is not an emergency service”.

More VEC’s?

On Friday, January 8, the FCC issued a Public Notice inquiring whether there is a need for approving additional Volunteer Examination Coordinators (VEC’s). Recognized VEC’s signup VE Teams and process the paperwork involved in offering exams, issuing Certificates of Successful Exam Completion (CSEC) and then transmitting data directly to the FCC database when persons successfully pass their first exam or upgrade to a higher class license.

All VEC’s enter data to the FCC electronically and the FCC issues ham licenses by the end of the next business day. Some VEC’s are able to advise persons of their new callsign on the same day they passed their exam.

The ARRL VEC is the largest VEC of the 14 VEC’s but is reported to be the slowest in processing applications, sometimes taking two weeks to enter the data. The ARRL VEC has been criticized over the air and on the web for its slow processing. ARRL relies on hardcopy paperwork that is mailed to HQ, which can be delayed at the Post Office but also due it is also delayed by staff working from home due to COVID. All these factors cause backlogs that two staff members cannot keep up with. While ARRL VEC charges $15 to process the application, other VEC’s charge $10 and offer same day processing with everything being done electronically. For example, the Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society (WCARS) VEC typically processes the data to the FCC within an hour or two after an exam session and hams generally know their callsign the same day they passed the exam.

ARRL posted information about the FCC notice on their webpage which can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-invites-comments-on-expanding-the-number-of-volunteer-examiner-coordinators .

Anyone wishing to file comments with the FCC may do so. Interested parties may file short comments on WT Docket No. 21-2 via the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing Service (Express) at: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express . Be sure type 21-2 in the “Proceeding” box.

Finally, on the FCC front,the FCC, despite considerable urging from the ARRL, there has been no action on the following matters:

  1. Removal of the 300 baud (symbol rate) rule that prohibits the use of Pactor 4 on ham bands;
  2. Granting Technician class operators voice and RTTY privileges on 80, 40 and 15 meters;
  3. Establishing sub-bands for wide band digital signals in an effort to separate digital, cw and voice operations.

ARES/AUXCOMM MATTERS

The FCC comment, “amateur radio is not an emergency service” has provoked a lot of comment across the country. On the weekly Section Manager Zoom meetings a frequent topic involves the difficulty that many ARES groups have in getting recognized by Emergency Management despite the great willingness and desire for hams to be of service in emergencies.

Although there are some large ARES groups that have positive relationships with their EM agencies, it is commonly recognized that ARRL spent over ten years resisting having ham operators complete the four on-line FEMA courses that is the baseline training for anyone in emergency services. Although this official resistance has recently disappeared, there is a history that has to be overcome. At times, there have been situations in which hams showed up during a disaster and who interfered with operations because they were untrained in how Emergency Management uses the Incident Command System.

Mike Harris, TN Deputy Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, has said more than once, “We work with folks that we have trained with.”

State Emergency Management agencies in Tennessee and North Carolina, and other states, that place heavy reliance on amateur radio operators, insist that the hams complete the four online ICS courses as well as the federal Auxcomm course and that the hams have been vetted. In this day and age, no one gets access to EOC’s and state telecommunications systems who has not been trained and vetted. Well intended strangers are not accepted into the ICS command structure.

A common problems reported by many ARES groups is their lack of a working relationship with local emergency management agencies. Thursday night, I spent an hour listening to a presentation by a local ARES leader in Missouri who has successfully embedded ham radio with Emergency Management. A link to the presentation can be found at https://vimeo.com/498519217.

Last night, the Michigan Emergency Management Division of the State Police hosted a meeting that over nearly 100 persons participated in which dealt with the topic of Professionalism. The meeting is on the web at https://youtu.be/GvIIFh5kf54 . There are many useful takeaways for amateur radio operators who want to be accepted by EM groups.

Upcoming Virginia Exercise-The Big One

On January 16, 2021, Virginia will hold an exercise that is based on a 7.7 magnitude earthquake centered on the Mountain Lake area in Giles County. The scenario assumes that there is major damage in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pearsburg and Radford, Virginia with potential damage to a large dam on the New River. Internet, phone and power outages are assumed with the need to use Winlink on hf on 75 and 40 meters for long haul traffic to Virginia State EOC, 2 meter and 440 mhz linked repeaters. The exercise will run from 0800-1400 EST. Five federal and state agencies will participate as well as 82 amateur operators.

Information about the exercise can be found at www.w4ghs.org/TheBigOne-home.html.

Auxcomm Awards

Last week, DHS-CISA’s Auxcomm office announced its 2020 Awards.

N4TAB, Tom Brown, received the Leadership Award and North Carolina was recognized as the state with the most successful Auxcomm program.

The Auxcomm office also recognized the Maritime Mobile Net (14.300 Mhz) and Joey Clements, W5BAK of Texas, as the Auxcomm Instructor of the Year (he was one of the instructors in the course that Karl Bowman, Virginia Enzor and I completed in order to become State-Sponsored Auxcomm Instructors) .

Steve Waterman, K4CJX of Tennessee, who is part of the Winlink Development Team, was recognized as the Auxcomm Promoter of the Year.

Georgia and Michigan were recognized as the up and coming states for their fast-paced growth of Auxcomm and for including Auxcomm as part of their state emergency management teams.

The entire announcement prepared by the Auxcomm office has been posted and can be found at https://www.ncarrl.org/documents/AUXCOMMServiceAwardsfor2020.html.

ARRL MATTERS

ARRL has solicited nominations from members for various awards that recognize various achievements that benefit amateur radio.

Information about these awards and the deadline for nominations can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-seeks-nominations-for-six-awards-1 .

Upcoming ARRL Board Meeting

The ARRL Board of Directors will hold a Zoom Meeting on January 14-15 at which time they will elect members of the Executive Committee that has full power to act in behalf of the Board between the two Board Meetings in January and July.

The ARRL Board is comprised of the 15 Division Directors, 15 (non-voting) Vice Directors and ARRL Officers, including the President and Vice Presidents. The ARRL Board makes policy for the League. Section Managers do not have a policy role. Your Roanoke Division Director is Bud Hippisley (w2ru@arrl.org) and your Vice Director is Bill Morine (n2copy@arrl.org).

The agenda of the upcoming Board Meeting can be found at http://www.arrl.org/board-meetings. The agenda is not very informative of what matters they intend to take up. There are various standing and special committees that report back to the ARRL Board which are formally submitted and discussed at the Board Meeting. Despite having six months to prepare the reports and recommendations, the various committee reports are not yet available for members to read and understand what is being recommended to the Board. Presumably the reports have not yet been written or are being withheld at this time.

This inexplicable delay in getting the reports written and distributed to members before the meeting reminds me that during the 29 years I taught university students, despite telling them at the first class when their term papers would be due in 14 weeks, some students waited until the last minute and some couldn’t meet the timetable even with fifteen weeks to write the paper. Every committee chair and members know that here are two annual meetings in January and July. When the ARRL Committee reports are eventually distributed they will be posted at http://www.arrl.org/committee-reports .

A frequent topic on the web and over the air involves the ARRL Board’s lack of transparency. The current ARRL Bylaws do not permit members to attend Board Meetings or for there to be a YouTube that members can view after the meeting has been concluded. Minutes of the Board Meeting are typically released 2-3 weeks after the meeting and often does not record how Individual Directors voted.

CLOSING COMMENTS

North Carolina local health departments are now vaccinating persons beyond those who met the 1A priority criteria of being a medical staff member or first responder. Look at your local health department webpage for information on how the vaccinations will be done in your community.

A problem that has happened in several counties involved so many people calling to seek an appointment for the vaccine that they brought the telephone systems down in at least two North Carolina counties when word spread that the vaccine was available in the county.

I went online, completed the questionnaire posted by the local health department, and now have an appointment to receive the vaccine later this week.

Stay well, wash your hands frequently, socially distance and wear a mask when leaving home.

73
Marv, WA4NC
Boone