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Posted Sep 24, 2021

September 23, 2021

GREETINGS FROM THE HIGH COUNTRY

A light rain fell all day on Wednesday but some of the High Country received more than an inch of rain.  Areas north and east of Watauga County got more rain and were under Flash Flood Watches.  Locally, the seasons have begun their change. 

NWS Blacksburg indicated that Temperatures here (near Tweetsie Railroad) would dip down to 41 overnight on Thursday.  On Thursday morning I had to travel to Appstate and it was 45 degrees on my dashboard thermometer.  For all practical purposes Fall has arrived and the trees at higher elevations are starting to lose some of the green color they have shown since late April. 

While the temperature is cool up here, the Tropics are still seeing storm activity.  As I write this, attention and concern is being directed towards Tropical Storm Sam which has the potential to be a major hurricane next week.  Stay tuned.

NC ARRL MATTERS

The Section webpage, www.ncarrl.org is being revamped and updated.  For technical reasons the listing of county EmComm groups had become very outdated allowing some observers to claim that only 16 of the 100 counties have organized amateur radio EmComm groups. 

Nothing could be further from the truth and you will see that 45 counties have Auxcomm or ARES leaders on the county level. 

We will continue to reach out to fill additional leadership positions but this is not at all simple; with only 71 clubs in the state (note that some counties have multiple clubs) it is clear that many counties do not have an organized club to work with and some counties have as few as 20 hams in the entire county.

ARRL DATABASE

ARRL maintains a large database for Field Service personnel across the country.  The North Carolina Section has something like 175 Field Organization appointments. 

Over the last ten years, the database had been allowed to become highly inaccurate and outdated limiting its usefulness to find who holds which positions.  There are listings for people who do not live in North Carolina, persons who are deceased and some who have not been active in many years.  Further, some positions, like Official Observers, have been dropped since Sections do not control or choose who participates in the Volunteer Monitoring program headed by Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH.

I am reviewing the ARRL database line by line and numerous listings will be canceled in order to make the ARRL database accurate.  Personnel lacking appropriate qualifications for their position, including ARRL membership, will be dropped from the ARRL database.

 

SIMULATED EMERGENCY TEST

The weekend of October 2-3 is traditionally the time for a Simulated Emergency Test, although groups may choose other dates to avoid conflicts with important local activities.  For the past several years, Tom Brown (Section Emergency Coordinator) and I have felt that local groups should assess the risks in their own area and develop an exercise around that local risk assessment. 

North Carolina has dramatically different weather conditions and geography across the state and a statewide SET with a common scenario would unlikely be helpful to all groups.  Moreover, the statewide leadership team has geared up and deployed resources and personnel more than a dozen times in the past two years for hurricanes, floods, the Presidential and Governor’s Inauguration, domestic disturbances, tornadoes and other situations.

To guide you in planning an SET, ponder these questions:

•             What hazards and risks seem most likely to cause a problem in your area?

•             How would you address the problem if asked to help by a partner agency?

•             What is your work-around for failure of your local repeaters?

•             Do you have a PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingent and Emergency) plan for failed systems?

•             Between what points or facilities would you need to have communications?

•             What modes of communication would you use?

•             How will you communicate during a sustained power outage?

•             How many personnel would be needed to fulfill your needs?

•             Where would you obtain additional personnel for an extended operation?

•             Could your group sustain operations out in the field for more than five hours?

•             Do you have a written plan for emergency operations that is current and accurate?

•             Has your plan been reviewed and approved by local emergency management? 

•             Did EM make suggestions to improve your plan?

 

We encourage groups who wish to hold a local Simulated Emergency Test to do so during the next several weeks. If you do hold an exercise, please submit a report to me by November 5, 2021 so that we can share with other groups your successes and the lessons learned. 

ARRL sent out an announcement today concerning a publication, ARES Field Resources Manual, which can be purchased at www.arrl.org/shop/ARES-Field-Resources-Manual/ .

NC SECTION TRAFFIC REPORT

Dave Roy, W4DNA, submitted his month traffic report for August 2021.   The text email system makes it difficult to mail Excel files. Here is a the first page of Dave’s report which can be found in its entirety at https://ncarrl.org .

 

W4DNA - NC Section Net Report - AUGUST 2021

NET

NMGR

QNI

LISTED

PASSED

TIME

SESSIONS

TFC %

 

SECTION NETS

 

CN

KC4PGN

441

138

121

595

62

87.68%

CSN

KI4KZS

132

26

27

617

31

103.85%

NCEN

WK4WC

376

83

83

384

31

100.00%

NCMN

W3OJO

308

108

107

411

31

99.07%

THEN

AE4MF

244

0

0

375

14

 

LOCAL NETS

 

CWTN

N4CNX

498

70

70

566

31

100.00%

ENCTN

W4DNA

136

33

33

229

31

100.00%

PCTN

W4TTO

265

44

44

250

31

100.00%

 

TOTAL

 

2400

502

485

3427

262

96.61%

 

CLUB MATTERS

Tim Slay, N4IB, Associated Club Coordinator, has been working hard on getting a current and correct list of active clubs in the North Carolina Section.  ARRL maintains a database of clubs which can be accessed by visitors and potential hams interested in becoming involved with a local club. Tim asked me to remind readers that each club should designate someone to either confirm or update information about the local club.  Go to www.arrl.org/find-a-club and search for information about your club.  For each club, a date is displayed which is the last time that club information (officers, purpose, membership, club webpage, etc.) was updated. 

Clubs that have not updated their information for more than two years may be considered inactive by the ARRL and dropped from the listing. Also, ARRL rules on affiliated clubs require that at least half of the club membership be ARRL members.  You can update club information by having a club officer login at arrl.org and then return to the club information.    On the right side, at the top of the page with information about your club, there is an “edit” tab where correct and current information can be entered.  Be sure to submit the information when you are satisfied that everything is as you want it to appear to the public.

 

ARRL VOLUNTEER MONITOR PROGRAM REPORT

Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, VM Program Manager, has posted the VM report for August 2021.  He indicated that  several Advisory Notices were issued to operators who chose to operate on frequencies set aside for Haiti Earthquake recovery operations, several hams were given Advisory Notices for failing to identify at proper intervals, one individual was contacted for operating with an expired license, one operator received an Advisory Notice for operating with excessive power during FT8 operation on 30 meters and one person’s case was referred to the FCC for revocation or deletion of voice privileges due to past infractions.  Riley also reported that one operator received a Good Operator Commendation.  Details can be found at http://www.arrl.org/news/august-2021-volunteer-monitor-program-report.

LOCAL SUCCESS, WITH A HAM RADIO ASPECT

Appalachian State University has a highly innovative group of students, called Team Sunergy, which builds and races solar-powered vehicles. For several years, Appstate has participated in national and international competitions with other universities, many of which are major engineering universities.  In August, Team Sunergy came in first in the Cruiser Class in the 2021 American Solar Challenge, travelling 964.8 miles in three stages that took them from Independence, Missouri to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ham radio operation is used to coordinate over-the-road operations within the teams in the national and international competitions according to competition rules.  Rising to the occasion, David Ritter, ND4MR, 2021 ARRL Herb Brier Instructor of the Year, offered an intensive Technician License class to Team Sunergy and the Watauga Amateur Radio VE Team offered a test session in which resulted in 14 new licensees.  After the test session, our local VE Team members talked with the Team Sunergy members and came away highly impressed with the students’ knowledge of electronic circuitry, microprocessors, batteries, solar cells and aerodynamics, as well as their teamwork.  Congrats to Team Sunergy!!!

A very interesting story about the team and the challenges they faced during the race can be found at https://today.appstate.edu/2021/08/12/sunergy-wins.

HISTORICAL MATTERS

Although not as popular as it once was, Morse Code is still enjoyed by a number of hams.  New comers to amateur radio may not realize that prior to February 14, 1991, the FCC required any applicant for a ham license to demonstrate proficiency in Morse Code. 

An interesting discussion about the history of variation types of amateur radio licenses (once called Class A, B and C before the current names) can be found at http://rfcec.com/RFCEC/Section-3%20-%20Fundamentals%20of%20RF%20Communication-Electronics/13%20-%20HISTORY/FCC%20History%20and%20Licensing%20(By%20Larry%20E.%20Gugle%20K4RFE).pdf

At various times in the past, the Extra Class license exam involved copying code at 20 words per minute, Generals and Advanced had a 13 wpm requirement and Novices and Technicians had a five word per minute requirement.  Today, there is no Morse code proficiency requirement for any amateur radio license.

A few weeks ago, the RATPAC (Radio Amateur Training Planning and Activities Committee), which is not affiliated with the ARRL, had an interesting presentation about the history of Morse Code.  The presentation shows historic keys, sounders, and points out that Morse code was used from 1838-1982 on open wires along railroads rights of way, undersea cables, then over wireless.  The streaming video can be found at http://tiny.cc/ratpac-list.  Scroll down to Sept 1 2021 on the list for the webinar covering Morse Code history.

Finally, also on the walk down memory lane, newcomers may not know that at one time, it was necessary to take the amateur license exam in the presence of an FCC Examiner.  This could be done at an FCC office in major cities or when an FCC Examiner traveled to smaller cities each quarter.  The Conditional License (equivalent to a General) was available to persons who could not travel to an FCC examination (for example, military service or disability) which could be issued after two licensed hams supervised the test which was mailed to the FCC for grading. 

The FCC Examiners could be intimidating and the tests were much more difficult than today’s exams. Back then, the stakes were high because you could not try a second time to pass the exam unless one month had passed from your unsuccessful first attempt.  I passed examinations for two Commercial Radiotelephone Operator Licenses (2nd Class in New York and 1st Class in Atlanta) in front of an FCC Examiner.  As we all know, volunteer examiners now administer the tests, grade them and send the information to one of several Volunteer Examination Coordinators which in turn enters the data directly into the FCC database and the license is issued as soon as the FCC receives the necessary information from the VE Coordinator.

SUGAR NOMINATIONS ARE WELCOME

As Section Manager, I created a special award called the SUGAR (Supporting, Upgading, Growing Amateur Radio) Award to recognize individuals, clubs and groups who have made a substantial contribution to amateur radio within the North Carolina Section.  If you know of someone whom you think should be recognized, please make a nomination and tell me your reasons for wanting recognition to be given to the person or group.

CLOSING COMMENT

As weather gets colder, check your station for winter operations, particularly if you are up here in the mountains.

We get some amazingly high winds in the mountains, sometimes with hurricane force.  In the Piedmont and East, you have a couple of months left before ice will be a possibility.  Up here, we have had snow on 2-3 of the most recent Halloween evenings and over the near half century that I have lived here, about half the time the first snow was just after Election Day.  I remember several times traveling to a political science meeting just after Election Day in Gatlinburg and finding the road very slippery and snow covered, sometimes closed, as I drove over Clingman’s Dome. 

Be prepared.

Marv, WA4NC