Show Menu

Posted Mar 29, 2021

North Carolina Section News

March 28, 2021

Greetings from the High Country

Up here at 3850 feet above mean sea level, Spring is making its first appearance. The grass in my front yard turned green yesterday.

As is always the case, we lag in terms of the arrival of Spring compared to the rest of the State. I saw a posting from a friend in Charlotte who took solace over the opportunity to mow his lawn and spend a day on yard work. By contrast, up here, almost all the trees on the mountains are barren and without any buds. Down in Boone, the Appalachian campus is getting all spruced up with grounds crews putting out mulch, weeding flower beds and getting the campus ready for in person graduation ceremonies during the first week of May.

Spring will take a while to climb up the higher mountains. Checking on the webcam, I see that Sugar Mountain is still open for skiing but has few of its trails covered with snow and a lot of bare ground is showing at the top of the mountain. Colder weather is expected tonight and Monday with the possibility of snow flurries as well as snow showers on Thursday. Friday will likely give us a chill factor around 12 degrees.

FCC MATTERS

  1. In case you haven’t heard it elsewhere, here is the latest regarding the $35 application fee.

    The FCC lowered the proposed $50 fee to $35 but did not accept the argument from the ARRL and the majority of the 2000 persons who filed comments in opposition to any fee for processing amateur radio license applications. So, the fee is set and will be $35 when you submit an application for a new, renewed, upgraded or vanity license.

    The date when you have to begin paying the $35 fee has not been determined. The FCC has not figure out whether the VE Teams will collect the fee and remit it to the FCC or whether the VE Team paperwork will be held in abeyance until the applicant’s credit card or check for the $35 application fee has cleared. Stay tuned.

  2. Effective June 21, 2021, the FCC will require you to have your email address on file with the Commission. After that date, any application coming from someone without an email on file will be dismissed as defective. Guidance on how to enter you email address with the FCC can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-to-require-email-address-on-applications-starting-on-june-29-2021 .
  3. Getting an Original Copy of your license
    There are a number of reasons why you may need a copy of your amateur radio license which bears the watermark “Original Copy”. ARRL has posted information on its webpages how to navigate the red tape so that you can download a copy of your license that is marked “Original Copy”. Go to http://www.arrl.org/obtain-license-copy.

  4. The FCC will allow continued, but temporary, use by amateurs of the 3.3-3.5 GHz spectrum. The FCC gave notice on March 17 that amateur radio, which has held a secondary allocation in this band, will have to cease operations within 90 days after the FCC post a follow up notice. The Commission is in the process of auctioning this portion of the spectrum for commercial wireless operation. Information can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/amateur-radio-gets-a-partial-reprieve-on-3-5-ghz .
  5. Although not an FCC action, the Israeli Government has revoked amateur use of much of the microwave spectrum between 1 and 6 GHz. This should be a wakeup call to hams of the very high demand for spectrum and acknowledgement that commercial interests are willing to pay top dollar for spectrum. Amateur radio should expect continued pressure on regulators to reallocate amateur spectrum for other uses.

ARRL MATTERS

In the past month, the Roanoke Division Director Bud Hippisley (W2RU), along with Vice Director Bill Morine (N2COP), announced that Tom Brown, N4TAB, North Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator, has been awarded the Vic Clarke Award by the Roanoke Division of the ARRL. Tom serves in several leadership roles in the EmComm community in North Carolina and across the country.

The Vic Clarke award is given annually to an amateur operator from North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia or Virginia in recognition of his or her leadership role in amateur radio across the region. The Awards Committee was highly impressed with Tom’s efforts through which NC Auxcomm is recognized across the country as the leader among the various states in terms of its partnership with state and federal emergency management agencies. North Carolina is increasingly looked to as the model for other states to emulate.

Congratulations to Tom for his hard work in behalf of amateur radio and for the doors that you have opened for other amateur radio operators seeking to become credentialed COML’s, COMT’s and AUXC personnel.

ARRL VOLUNTEER MONITOR PROGRAM

Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, has released the February 2021 Report of the Volunteer Monitor Program. The VM Program replaced the ARRL Official Observer Program last year. A goal of the program is help clean up ham bands by advising rules violators about their violations Most of the violations are minor and the violators quickly come into compliance once they have been advised of technical issues (spurious emissions, splatter) or operator errors (failure to identify at proper intervals). Situations involving violations and lack of cooperation with the VM program will be referred to the FCC for enforcement action. Go to http://www.arrl.org/news/february-2021-volunteer-monitor-program-report .

AUXCOMM MATTERS

Greg Hauser, W3FIE, North Carolina Statewide Interoperability Coordinator with NCEM, pointed out to hams in a meeting held Saturday that there are many ways in which hams can help Emergency Management.

Auxcomm is not just a state-level program and NC Auxcomm is increasingly being integrated into local emergency operations plans, sometimes supporting Red Cross, sometimes playing a role in the Community Emergency Response Program and sometimes supporting local public service activities. How amateur radio is used by local emergency management is dependent upon the relationship that hams have built with local EM.

You should know that key to becoming part of becoming a part of the local emergency response organization is getting trained so that you understanding how the Incident Command System works and the role of amateur radio in an ICS structure.

Although it is not yet clear when the Auxcomm training will once resume, (possibly in July), everyone who wants to take the Auxcomm course needs to complete the current version of the on-line FEMA courses which are prerequisites to the Auxcomm course. Each of the online courses (100, 200, 700 and 800) takes about an hour to complete. Use a rainy afternoon to get a head start on completing the prerequisites. The courses can be completed by going to https://training.fema.gov/nims/

Approximately 80 people who have already completed the Auxcomm course are currently working on the Position Task Book which is required if you want to become a state-credentialed Auxcomm operator. Tom Brown, Auxcomm Leader, reports that it is likely that twenty persons will submit their PTB’s for review and potential approval at the next quarterly meeting of the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee.

North Carolina is divided into three areas that match the NCEM Branches: East, Central and West. Contact the Deputy State Coordinator for your Branch and learn about training opportunities, ways in which you can help in your home county, your region or the state and opportunities to move forward on your PTB.

East- Ed Wafford, W4EDW, edwafford@protonmail.com
Central -Virginia Enzor, NC4VA, nc4va@nc.rr.com
West -Bob Rodgers, KC4TVO, RRODGERS@oakcreekcorp.com

HAMFEST ANNOUNCEMENTS

Greeneville TN Hamfest April 17. Info at https://greenevillehamfest.com/

Vienna Wireless Society Winterfest (Virtual) on April 24 with major presentations by David Minster NA2AA ARRL CEO as well as Paul Gilbert KE5ZW, ARRL Emergency Manager. In addition, there are three tracks going all day that cover, respectively, New and Returning Hams, Hot Topics, and ARES and AUXCOMM. It is hoped that Dave Minster may offer details on Project X which is a major upgrade of ARRL computer systems and the building of a new member database that will integrate membership, contest results, DXCC, and ARES Connect which are now handled in separate databases. Information about Winterfest can be found at https://viennawireless.net/wp/events/winterfest/ .

AB4OZ Swapfests are held each Saturday at the Pleasant Valley Shopping Center in North Raleigh at 10 a.m. A food truck in typically on-site during the Swapfest.

The Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society Hamfest, known also as the Waynesville Hamfest, is scheduled for July 24, 2021 at the Haywood County Fairgrounds.

HELP ANOTHER HAM – TS850 NOISE BLANKER Mod

I was contacted by a ham seeking advice and assistance in finding information on a mod for the Noise Blanker on the TS850 transceiver. If you have knowledge of the mod, please contact me and I will put you together with person seeking help.

IT IS ALL A MATTER OF TIME

With the arrival of Daylight Saving Time a week ago, I made my rounds replacing batteries in my smoke detectors and checking my clocks to see if they updated for DST. I first updated the clock on my range and, as I looked at my various clocks, I noticed that even my atomic clocks needed attention. One of the atomic clocks was not set for Daylight Time and a simple flip of a switch took care of that one. But, I noticed that three different atomic clocks each showed slightly different time, a few seconds off on this one and ten seconds off on that one. Even an MFJ dual clock with separate clocks for UTC and local time showed discrepancies. Over the next few days I noticed that the error grew larger and I wondered why they had not been updated by WWVB.

How could this be? Each of the atomic clocks is supposed to be synchronized to radio station WWVB which operates on 60 KHz and the clocks usually update themselves around 2 a.m. when the 60 KHz WWVB is detected.

Because I was curious as to what time it actually is, I tuned to WWV on 10 MHz near the top of the hour at one evening after noting that each atomic clock was showing a slightly different time.

All things became clear at the top of the hour when WWV on 10 MHz carried an announcement that beginning on March 9 WWVB was undergoing an upgrade to its 60 KHz transmitter and antenna system. Output power has been reduced from 70 kilowatts to 30 kilowatts and only one of its two antennas is in use while work is done on the other. The upgrade is supposed to be completed on April 9.

In 2019, I went to Fort Collins, Colorado to participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of Time and Frequency Standard Station WWV. The Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club set up the special event station WW0WWV and invited amateurs from across the country to apply for a timeslot to operate over the weekend and make contacts with hams around the world. It was a great privilege to get to operate for three hours and I made contacts with my friends K4ITL and KE4AAP back here in North Carolina. However, the most special part of my trip to Fort Collin was the 90 minutes spent with a group of operators who got to tour stations WWV and WWVB. Look at
https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division/radio-stations/wwv/wwv-photos
https://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-frequency-division/radio-stations/wwvb/wwvb-photo-gallery

CLOSING COMMENT

As your Section Manager, part of my job is to process Silent Key messages for listing on QST. Nearly every one of the 50 or so requests for a QST listing involved people I did not know but each of the postings meant something to a family member, a friend or to the club the ham belonged to.

If you know a ham who has passed away, send me a message with the late ham’s call and a link to a published obituary.

Over the past three weeks, I spent time helping a friend in the final days of his life. I wish I could have seen him once more but his stroke and COVID made it impossible to say goodbye in person. I would have not hesitated to travel to Atlanta if he had recovered enough to have a visitor or had been transferred to a rehab facility but that was not meant to be. Earlier this week I helped write the death notice for Jim Prather, a friend for more than half a century, going back to when we were students at the University of Georgia.

Jim was not a ham but he and I talked nearly every day for the past three years, ever since his wife died.

It was easy to see that Jim had become very lonely but was his situation also was complicated because he was also mobility limited, having lost a leg to Diabetes. I tried many times to get him interested in ham radio because he had gone to Army Radio School at Fort Sill and for many years had an interest in traveling and studying world history. Lately, he generally wanted to talk about Civil War battles or how Atlanta Georgia has changed since he was a youngster. Most of the time, the conversations re-plowed the same ground as the conversation day before or the day before that.

Jim taught me a lot about complex research design questions which made it possible to earn my graduate degrees and that, in turn, allowed me to have the career that I had. I knew that my payback to him was to listen when he wanted to talk. Jim, I miss you and know that now you are in a better place.

Sometimes it is easy to overlook how much lonely people need friends. Take time to reach out to an old friend and allow them to reminisce about the past.

73, Marv, WA4NC
NC Section Manager