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Greetings from the High Country. I hope that this message finds you and your family members, and friends, staying well during the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic.

Field Day

I hope that you had time to participate in Field Day under the special rules necessitated by the COVID-19 distancing rules.

There seems to be quite a difference of opinion over the Field Day rules change for 2020. Why am I surprised that hams would have strongly held and different opinions?

Those who think that the rules change was a mistake and contrary to the original purpose of Field Day (working on emergency power with improvised antennas) feel that allowing home station operation (class 1D) hurt Field Day. They complain that the special rules that gave points for working other 1D stations favored high power contest stations. The critics say that the 2020 rules made the event a mere contest rather than a demonstration of emergency capabilities. They complain that some contesters operated with kilowatt stations and massive antenna arrays which made it difficult for ordinary operators to make contacts.

On the other hand, there were positive comments from some Field Day participants about the rules change. Nothing required anyone to use commercial power or massive antenna arrays and some stations operated as 1E stations using generators, batteries and/or solar power and some operators followed tradition by setting up in their back yard with temporary antennas and power.

My impression is that those who wanted to operate during Field Day probably had greater opportunities to get on the air than under the traditional rules. For example, our club normally would get 12-20 members to come out and those that wanted to operate had to wait for their turn to operate on the three stations set up for Field Day. This year, in our club, those who wanted to, could operate many more hours from home than they would have been able to when located at a traditional Field Day site.

During Field Day, most of my contacts involved 1D stations and a few multi-operator 3A stations. I made 98 contacts and received six ARRL Radiograms and a dozen Winlink messages that were sent to the Section Manager. During Field Day, I had virtual visits with the Watauga Amateur Radio Club and the Lenoir Amateur Radio Club using video meeting technology. I enjoyed Field Day. Overall, band conditions seemed pretty good. I made contacts in Texas on 10 meters and reached a San Diego station on 40 meters and also operated on 75, 40, 20, and 15 meters, all on SSB voice.

What was your opinion of the 2020 Field Day rules? Should the rule book go back to what was used for many years or should the ability to earn points while operating at home be continued next year? If home operation is allowed in the future, should stations be limited to operating at 150 watts or less power, with no points awarded to operators running 500-1500 watt amplifiers?

Thirteen Original Colonies

The 13 Original Colonies contest began Wednesday morning and will continue through July 7. Several of my friends have already (by noon on Thursday) made contact with most of the 13 Colonies special event stations. Between working on this newsletter and Section Manager matters, I reached eight of the colonies by midnight on Wednesday plus the WM3PEN station operating at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On Thursday and up through July 7, I will be on the air working to get the four remaining stations.

13 Colony stations will be operating on most bands and be on SSB and CW. Information about the contest and the certificate that can be earned can be found at www.13colonies.us. Get on the air and see how many stations you can reach. The special bonus station in England, GB13COL, can be a challenge but I have done a clean sweep (all 13) and the two bonus stations each of the past three years.

Club Meetings

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, I have been visiting with clubs using video meeting technology and met with the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club, Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society, a multi-club meeting involving the Greensboro, Guilford and High Point clubs and the Mayland Club. Next week, I will meet with the Durham FM Association and also go over to West Jefferson to visit the Ashe County Club. Let me know if you want me to visit with your group.

Silent Keys

I have mentioned this several times before but I want to remind everyone that the passing of a ham can be noted in QST. Send me an email and a link to the obituary and I will get the Silent Key listed in QST. Since becoming Section Manager I have forwarded about twenty Silent Key entries to ARRL HQ with a request that that note be made of the late ham’s passing. Everyone who sends me Silent Key information receives a copy of my message to ARRL HQ.

Hamfests

Sadly, it seems possible that hamfests, as we came to know them, may disappear.

I have heard that dealers are cutting back on their travel due to the expense of coming to a hamfest and that not enough commerce occurs during hamfests to cover their expenses. Talking with dealers, they cite the cost of rental fees for a booth, lodging, fuel and the time needed to set up as factors making them less likely to be at future hamfests. Conversely, after a hamfest, I hear on-the-air comments from hams about their disappointment over there being few dealers at the hamfest.

Most purchases of new rigs are done over the internet rather than at hamfests, unless the event is something large, like Orlando or Dayton that attract major dealers.

Organizers of hamfests may want to consider lowering dealer fees or offering some type of rebate to vendors who attend in order to bring more vendors back. Right now the loss of dealers may cause some hamfests to see continued drops in attendance.

Once the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted, will the larger hamfests come back or will we only have swapfests and social gatherings in a church parking lot?

Shelby, the Cary Swapfest, Waynesville and the Salisbury Fire Cracker hamfests are the latest to have been canceled for this year.

Bits and Bytes

My friend Roland Kraatz, W9HPX, from Charlotte, sent me information on this year’s ARRL TAPR Digital Communications Conference. Originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, the TAPR DCC will be held over Zoom this year on September 11-12. Those hams who are into digital communications, circuits and various innovations that have moved ham radio ahead should consider attending.

This is the 40th year for the TAPR Conference. Founded originally as the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio it is now international in scope and focuses on software defined radios, advanced digital modulation and precise time and frequency measurement. Information about the ARRL TAPR Digitial Communications Conference can be found at https://tapr.org/20o20-arrl-tapr-dcc-update/ .

ARRL Matters

Several rule making proceedings are percolating through the FCC that will affect ham radio. These include giving voice hf privileges on 80 and 40 meters for Technicians, removing the obsolete symbol rate that prohibits use of Pactor 4 on ham bands, and a proposal to set aside specific sub-bands for high speed digital systems which is seen by ARRL as a strategy to solve conflict between digital operators and those who operate cw or voice on 80 and 40 meters.

Activity continues on filling two key positions at ARRL Headquarters. The CEO position has been vacant since January 17, 2020 when the Board removed Howard Michel as CEO. The Emergency Management Director position has been vacant since Mike Corey, KI1U, stepped down in February 2019 . Hopefully these two positions will be filled without further delay.

Your voice on all these matters is through the Roanoke Division Director, Bud Hippisley, and the Vice Director, Bill Morine. Their email addresses are: Bud Hippisley, w2ru@arrl.org Bill Morine, n2cop@arrl.org

ARRL Headquarters staff continue to work from home as they have for several months. Their prolonged absence from HQ may delays in your ability to get information from HQ.

The ARRL Board was expected to hold a traditional meeting in Hartford in July but it is now the Board will meet virtually using Zoom or another virtual meeting technology. No agenda has been released for the meeting.

You are also reminded that Bill Morine, N2COP, is on the Tarheel Emergency Net on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. on 3923 Khz. Fire up your hf rig and talk directly with Bill.

Testing… testing

Several of the VE teams have begun offering remote exams as an opportunity for those persons who want to get their first license or want to upgrade. Contact the group that supervises (Volunteer Examination Coordinator) that your local exam team. Not all VEC’s are doing remote exams yet but some are.

On the subject of volunteer exams, you are reminded that on July 1, 2020 the question pool for the Extra class exams was updated. There are some new questions and some older questions have been dropped to reflect changes in what Extra class licensees should know about the state of the art.

ARRL has published a new set of books entitled, Extra Class License Manual and Extra Class Q + A, which focus on the new material on the Extra exam.

Closing Comment

This week includes the celebration of our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 and the establishment of a country like none other found in human history.

Our country was founded on a desire to escape from an oppressive King who, as sovereign, claimed an absolute power over subjects who were denied representation on questions of taxation and laws imposed on them.

American Patriots fought the Revolutionary War and eventually defeated the British but success was far from certain for a long time. George Washington faced near mutiny at Valley Forge from bedraggled troops who were poorly equipped and wanted to go home. Good fortune shined on our ragtag armies and our ancestors won our freedom from British rule.

It is not clear to me that school classes adequately emphasize how perilous was our struggle.

Yes, colonies transformed into states and adopted written constitutions and signed the Articles of Confederation, which created a single country with the States in a superior position over a weak central government. The newly established states sent representatives to the Continental Congress and attempted to write laws for the new country.

Our attempt to operate under the Articles of Confederation was a failure. There was no President, each state had its own currency and could tax the goods produced in other states. The national government could only do those things that all 13 states agreed to. Some did not want to levy taxes needed to pay for debt incurred in fighting the Revolution. Some states resisted providing troops to support our Army. Conflicts between the states based on trade practices and their different economies threatened the survivability of the small, known as the United States of America. Some foreign powers expected that our experiment with democracy would fail.

In 1787, delegates returned to Philadelphia with the mission to amend the Articles of Confederation and to fix a few recognized problems.

However, after months of debate, the delegates determined that a stronger national government was needed. There would be three equal branches of government, each with some power to limit the actions of the other two branches. A bicameral Congress with a House of Representatives based on population would be a check on a Senate where each state was equally represented regardless of population. The President was to be given the power to veto proposed laws but Congress with extraordinary majorities could overrule the President’s veto. There would be a uniform currency and the national government would regulate commerce between the states and settle disputes between the states. The President would be the Commander-in-Chief in charge of e a US military not under control of the states.

People trusted George Washington because he been a fierce General in battle and after the war, during the debates over writing the Constitution he had strongly resisted having our leader being called King. General Washington was the consensus choice to be our first President.

Many great ideas were included in the new Constitution but critics worried that the Government might accumulate too much power. Ratification of the new Constitution came after a solemn promise was made to add a written statement of citizen rights. The first ten amendments came to be referred to as the Bill of Rights which is our safeguard us against an abusive government.

A question posed to Benjamin Franklin as the Constitutional Convention adjourned was, “Doctor Franklin, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The promise to support and defend the Constitution is included in the Presidential Oath, the Congressional Oath, and the Oath taken by every member of the military. State officials are obliged to pledge to support their state constitution and the US Constitution, the latter being Supreme over state laws and state constitutions.

After teaching American Government for twenty-nine years and seeing how divided our country has become, I wonder how many citizens would take that kind of oath of allegiance or believe that those with whom they disagree also support our Constitution.

Have a safe Fourth of July and tell your grandkids how precious our Constitution is. Without it, we would likely be a footnote in history books rather than the leader of the Free World.

Marv, WA4NC NC Section Manager