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Posted June 15, 2020

Greetings from the High Country:

This is the sixth of my bi-weekly newsletters which is one of the means being used to keep you informed about amateur radio activities in the North Carolina Section.

Field Day 2020 Ė June 27-28

Because of the COVID-19 distancing restrictions, Field Day this year will be different than any time in the past. Many clubs are encouraging their members to operate from home, possibly on alternate power sources, but with few clubs actually deploying out in the field. I will be operating from my home, which is located near Tweetsie Railroad between Boone and Blowing Rock, and will be looking to contact as many of the clubs as I can. If you want to have a virtual visit during Field Day, let me know and I will stop by using one of the virtual meeting platforms.

Have fun and no matter how you choose to operate, do it safely. Avoid power lines when you put up antennas. Be careful if you use a generator, both because of fumes and due to the electrical hazards with poorly maintained power cables. If you are outside, use sunscreen and stay hydrated. If it is rainy, again consider the risks associated with using a generator.

Hamfest Cancellations

Over the past few days, I have learned that the following hamfests have been cancelled for 2020:

  1. Salisbury Firecracker Hamfest, July 11
  2. Cary Swapmeet, July 18
  3. Waynesville (WCARS) Hamfest, July 18
  4. Shelby Hamfest, September 4-6

Ask a Board Member

In an effort to provide more opportunities for Section Members to learn more about ARRL policy, pending FCC matters, and to answer your questions about these matters, Roanoke Vice Director Bill Morine, N2COP, will be on the Tarheel Emergency Net on the third Monday of each month. Tune in to 3923 KHz on Monday, June 15, for the first of his monthly briefings.

Issues facing ARRL include:

  1. filling the CEO position with someone who can successfully lead the HQ staff
  2. choosing an Emergency Management Director whose sole focus is leading ARRL in the area of emergency preparedness and improving the ability of ham radio to respond in times of disasters
  3. addressing the proposal to give Technician access to hf voice privileges on 80 and 40 meters
  4. adopting a revised band plan and seeking FCC approval for same in hopes of minimizing conflict between Winlink, voice, and cw operators
  5. resuming efforts to convince Congress to adopt a revised version of the Amateur Radio Parity Act which received unanimous support in the US House of Representatives but was blocked from final passage by one US Senator in the closing days of the Congress in 2018.

13 Original Colonies Contest

Celebrate our colonial history by contacting stations in each of the 13 Original Colonies and earn a certificate! This is a challenging but fun Special Event that occurs each year during the week of the Fourth of July. I have participated for the past three years and managed to contact all 13 colonies and I got both bonus stations twice.

At first glance you might think that this is a piece of cake and easy to complete. This assumption is not true for several reasons:

  1. You get credit for a particular colony only if you contact one of several designated stations in each of the original colonies that operate with a special 1x1 call. Only the real 1 by 1 call for that state counts towards the certificate. Contacting other stations in that state does not count.
  2. The special event stations in each state choose their operating hours; they are not on the air 24/7 and may not be on the air when you want to operate.
  3. Changing propagation conditions can present special challenges.
  4. Stations in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia can easily be overshot from North Carolina on hf bands while contacting a station in Connecticut or Massachusetts may be easier.
  5. Some states have relatively few amateurs who volunteer to operate the special event stations and thus certain states can be quite elusive.
  6. Expect pileups as you get closer to the end of the contest and for the most elusive stations.
  7. The bonus station in England can be a challenge but the one at Independence Hall is pretty active during the special event.

Information about the contest and the certificate that can be obtained is found on the web at http://www.13colonies.us/ .

SOTA and POTA

With the advent of warmer weather, there has been an increase in Summits on the Air (SOTA) and Parks on the Air (POTA). SOTA operations often occur on 146.52 MHz but may also include operate on HF and 6 meters as well. POTA stations operate from National or State Parks and tend to emphasize HF operation.

Since parks and summits do not typically have ham stations, a SOTA or POTA operation is called an activation. More information about these activities can be found at:

  1. http://sota.hamradio.me/?show=region
  2. https://parksontheair.com/

Club Information

Check the ARRL page and see if your club is listed. Visitors to your area may want to stop by to say hello and you may have new residents in the area that donít know about your club or when meetings are held. Having your club as an ARRL affiliated club gives Bud Hippisley (Roanoke Division Director), Bill Morine (Roanoke Division Vice Director), Tim Slay (Club Coordinator) and myself another way of reaching hams who may not be ARRL members. There are over 1400 ARRL members in NC who do not receive our mailings and getting information out through clubs could be crucial on fast moving issues with the FCC and state government.

On the topic of clubs, It is also possible for your club to be designated a special service club. According to the ARRL, a club that exists to go above and beyond for their communities and for Amateur Radio is what defines a Special Service Club (SSC). They are the leaders in their Amateur Radio communities who provide active training classes, publicity programs and actively pursue technical projects and operating activities.

Traffic Nets

A number of ham operators in North Carolina are active on the traffic nets; these operators pass formatted messages on various hf and vhf traffic nets.

A ham recently took me to task for failing to mention the traffic handlers in the biweekly report. Dave Roy, W4DNA, Section Traffic Manager, sends a report to ARRL HQ and to me. The critic suggested that I include Daveís report in the newsletter. Unfortunately, the ARRL email system that is used to send out these newsletters does not handle graphics or tables very well. As a result the monthly traffic report for the preceding month will be posted at http://ncarrl.org/ shortly after the 15th of each month.

Closing Comments

This edition of the newsletter is somewhat briefer that the last two editions. I have spent a lot of time on the phone and on the computer responding to invitations to virtually visit with clubs and to help hams who have sought advice on various matters. If you have a concern, drop me a message and I will see if there is a way I can help or at least put you in touch with someone who can work on the problem.

In previous newsletters, I mentioned listing in QST the names and call signs of amateur operators who have passed away. This past week, I submitted information to QST about seven hams who recently passed away. If you know of a recently deceased ham, send me a note accompanied by a link to the obituary and I will make sure that appropriate notice is given about the passing of your friend.

In the next two weeks I want to spend more time on the air, hear what others have to say and get back to the fun of being a ham.

Finally, we are coming up on Independence Day which celebrates the founding of our country. Ours is a rich history with great economic and social progress for millions of people. Celebrate that progress and our freedoms. However, remember that there are many who have not done as well as you or I have. No one should expect a free ride but everyone should be able to expect the opportunity to try to succeed and to be treated fairly. I hope the struggles we are going through now will result in a better society for everyone.

Marv Hoffman, WA4NC