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Posted Nov 4, 2020

North Carolina ARRL Section Newsletter

November 2, 2020

GREETINGS FROM THE HIGH COUNTRY

On Monday morning, we had an overnight low of 24, with peak winds of 44.3 mph at 1:24 am, along with and a chill factor of 3 degrees. There were snow flurries up on Beech Mountain but I did not see any flakes here on a hilltop near Tweetsie Railroad.

GIVE SMOKEY A BREAK

All the leaves are gone from the trees and the Fire personnel are now focused on the risk of wildfires.

On Monday evening, as I wrote this newsletter, the NC Forest Service webpage showed that all of NC was operating under Readiness Plan 2 with the exception of the Northwestern counties which comprise District 2. D-2 is operating under Readiness Plan 3. The NC Forest Service activates personnel and equipment according to one of five readiness plans with Readiness Plan 5 being the highest level of readiness during Wildfire Season. The Readiness Plan is broadcast to Forest Service personnel each morning at 9 a.m. and the level of readiness is based on current wind and humidity and fire conditions.

Dry leaves on the ground, high winds and low humidity can combine so that a small campfire or improperly disposed ashes can lead a big fire. Please be careful when cooking outdoors, burning trash or disposing of ashes from wood stoves or fire places. Remember that all those fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado started small. Even the Gatinbujrg Fire which destroyed 1000 structures and took 13 lives started small.

Our beautiful state has millions of acres of woodlands which will remain quite combustible until rains or snows come to make the leaves too wet to easily burn. If you see that a fire is getting out of hand, quickly call 911. Small fires are much easier to handle than wildfires.

PERSONAL HEALTH (YOURS, NOT MINE)

I have been very fortunate to have avoided COVID-19 so far this year. My sisterís husband was not so fortunate. He was extremely skeptical that COVID-19 even existed until he got it bad. Without being able to eat or hold down fluids for five days, we became very weak, had chills and was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was diagnosed with COViD. He received seven days of Dexamethasone and Remdesivir, plus IVís, oxygen and antibiotics. After six days in the hospital, he came home as a believer and acknowledged that COVID almost killed him. He is still very weak.

My sister, who had a mild case of COVID, is now dealing with Shingles which she describes as being very painful.

The moral of their stories is, as far as I can tell, first, listen to the public health experts about social distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing. Second, talk with your primary care physician about getting the flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines. A sore arm is nothing compared to what my sister and her husband have been going through.

FCC APPLICATION FEE

November 30 is the deadline for filing comments about the proposed $50 application fee that would apply to new, renewed and upgraded amateur radio licenses.

The FCC stated that Congress is making them collect fees but several people who spoke with members of Congress and the US Senate during the election campaign were told that Congress did not understand that the application fee would apply to amateur radio operators.

Some may find it hard to believe that politicians wouldnít understand what they are voting on but apparently that happens quite often. George looks over to Bill and if Bill nods yes then George and ten others vote yes.

In any event, if you wish to file a comment about the proposed $50 fee, you should go to this site:

https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs

The proposal number associated with the $50 application fee is 20-270. At 8 p.m. on November 2, a total of 2,855 comments had been filed with the FCC. I am proud to report that 92 comments were filed from persons with North Carolina addresses.

Whatever position you take on the proposed fee, please remember to be polite in your comments.

NET DIRECTORY

A couple of weeks back, I asked readers to send information about nets in their areas or across the state. I did receive some responses but I was hoping for more. If you know of a local net, send me information on the frequency, (tone if applicable), mode, time, day of the week and the name of the net. I will sort out the duplicates so donít be bashful.

Having a current and correct listing of nets held in North Carolina will be useful to visitors and for hams who are new to the area. Once I get more responses, I will post the responses on the NC ARRL webpage. Letís build a comprehensive and useful list.

HIGH -END TRANSCEIVER COMPARISONS

On September 30, several Section Managers (now known as the Radio Amateur Training Planning and Activities Committee or RATPAC) arranged for a very interesting presentation by Rob Sherwood NC0B, owner of Sherwood Engineering in Colorado. Rob is recognized as an expert who for many years has produced authoritative, unbiased assessments of transceivers.

His presentation compared current high end transceivers. Perhaps surprising will be his comment that over the past several decades there has been a huge increase in receiver performance but, on the transmitter side, not so much.

The presentation is quite technical but Rob gets down into how to compare the performance of 12 popular high quality transceivers. Some of the technical discussion will be above a lot of amateurs but there are contesters who place great value on getting the best transceiver. I recognize that there are some hams who buy a radio based on brand loyalty. Nonetheless If you want to buy based on objective data, go to this presentation:

https://vimeo.com/463885470

CONNECT SYSTEMS RADIOS

Many hams have purchased one or more Connect Systems CS750, CS800 or CS800D DMR radios and some of the CS800Dís have the BFD outboard display.

Over the past week or so, Jerry Wanger, owner of Connect Systems, began posting clear, step-by-step, instructions about how to update the firmware on these radios and how to navigate the various permutations of firmware, software and speech file upgrades. Obviously, putting down the instructions on paper will minimize the time he spends on telephone calls which come from hams needing help on the upgrades.

He refers to his collected set of instructions as the University of CSI. If you want guidance on how to increase the number of contacts or channels in your radio, this can be done in many cases with a firmware upgrade. Go to:

http://connectsystems.com/University%20of%20CSI/university_of_csi.htm

CLUB MEETINGS

I have visited with about 15 clubs over the past several months using video meeting software. If you want to hear a short presentation about ARRL in North Carolina, please drop me a line.

I received word from the Foothills Amateur Radio Club (Wilkesboro) that they plan to resume monthly meetings in person but following social distancing rules. They meet monthly on the first Saturday of the month for breakfast. Unfortunately, I have to miss their meeting to attend to two other virtual meetings that morning.

NC SECTION OUTREACH TO CLUBS

Tim Slay, N4IB, Club Coordinator, wrote to each club president that is affiliated with ARRL and invited the President, Program Chair and others to meet with him and me in a virtual meeting to be held on November 11 at 7 pm. I hope we will be holding monthly meetings like this in order to facilitate information exchange between clubs while swapping ideas about how to keep clubs vital. Check with your club President to confirm that (s)he got the email from Tim. If not, drop Tim a note (timothy.b.slay@gmail.com ) and ask to be put on the club meeting mailing list. Clubs are an important way for hams to support one another and to Elmer new members.

VOTE!!

You have seen all the tv commercials, tossed away the dozens of campaign flyers in your mailbox, and it is time for the public to speak. Although millions of people have already voted, if you havenít voted yet, Tuesday is the time to step up and exercise your right to choose your leaders on the county, state and national level. Over the past 250 years, brave men and women fought and many died for your right to vote.

Donít dishonor them by saying you didnít have time to vote.

CLOSING COMMENT

I have been your Section Manager for seven months. During that time, I have tried to learn the job and to launch a number of initiatives to re-awaken the NC Section by doing outreach to clubs, reactivating the Tarheel Emergency Net, soliciting input from other Section Managers to see how they do things and producing a newsletter twice a month. I am going to keep doing those things but will be looking for opportunities to bring new personnel into NC Section leadership.

While it is important that we continue to recruit new hams and get them involved, volunteer organizations need new blood in their leadership. In the next month or so, I will be reviewing a number of Section-level appointments that have been listed in the ARRL database for as long as 20 years with limited or no activity from the individual. Very soon, I will be announcing some new appointments, certainly before the end of the year.

There are important issues affecting amateur radio that will be coming up in 2021 and we need to get more hams involved in helping run the NC Section. I will keep you informed. I hope that the last seven months have shown that you can have confidence in my efforts to keep ham radio operators involved and that the NC Section can be counted on to keep you informed.

Finally, I hope all of you stay well and that, regardless of the outcome of the election tomorrow, you remain committed to being a good neighbor and a good friend. Most importantly, spend more time with your family now that the days are getting shorter.

Marv, WA4NC

Mkhoffman2006@gmail.com
Wa4nc@arrl.org
828 964 6626