First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers here in the ARRL
It has been a very busy last three weeks for your Director, with trips
to the very successful STEMFest in Mountain Home, Idaho, the Oregon ARES
Leadership Conference in Sisters, and now the Matanuska Annual Hamfest
in Wasilla, Alaska. Next Thursday I head to Dayton, Ohio for the ARRL
National Convention to help support the ARRL, man the ARRL Foundation
booth, and meet with other Foundation board members while I am there to
discuss what can be done to further the organization’s reach. (If you
want to know more about the ARRL Foundation:
Work continues on our new ARRL NW Division website. If you haven’t
checked it out yet, please do so! The website can be found at:
www.arrlnwdiv.org. Get a log-in set up, and be part of the action!
Now on to some commentary!
There are several petitions currently sitting on desks at the FCC that
have the possibility of being impactful on amateur radio, especially to
those of us involved in the world of emergency communications, aka
“EmComm”. These petitions are known by their FCC Petition for
Rulemaking “RM” number, and one of the most important of these is
RM-11828 is a petition submitted by the ARRL you probably already know
about. You also, very likely, have developed an opinion; as either
“pro”, or “against” this controversial petition. In fact, the
split among amateurs seems to be almost 50-50. It’s better known as
“Technician Enhancement”, which would expand the amateur Technician
Class privileges to include phone privileges at 3.900 to 4.000 MHz,
7.225 to 7.300 MHz, and 21.350 to 21.450 MHz, and RTTY and digital
privileges in current Technician allocations on 80, 40, and 15 meters.
Power on the expanded bands would be limited to 200 watts PEP. The ARRL stated in their press release: “This action will enhance the available
license operating privileges in what has become the principal
entry-level license class in the Amateur Service. It will attract more
newcomers to Amateur Radio, it will result in increased retention of
licensees who hold Technician Class licenses, and it will provide an
improved incentive for entry-level licensees to increase technical
self-training and pursue higher license class achievement and
development of communications skill.”
One additional “pro” argument I’ve heard is that the petition
“will help ARES EmComm operations by providing a larger pool of
amateurs able to work the 40 and 80 meter HF phone nets, particularly in
Simulated Emergency Tests (SETs), and during actual emergency
operations.” ARES ranks are often made up of many Technician class
licensees, and in an emergency it may be difficult to find a higher
class licensee to handle HF net traffic, or send Winlink messages via HF
PACTOR, (or other digital means), especially in more rural areas. This
is probably the best argument for the proposal that I’ve heard.
The “against” arguments are all over the map, as one can imagine.
Some see the upgrade as a disincentive to later upgrade to General Class
to get HF phone privileges. Some see it as a “slap in the face” of
those that already studied to get the higher class licenses, and there
is the “this is not CB, things must be earned” crowd. Some fear a
QRM Armageddon, as “massive numbers of new HF operators hit the HF
air, with little to no training.” It seems that many of these
arguments are more related to passion and fear, than fact.
The bottom line: If this petition passes, will many Technicians take
advantage of this new opportunity? My best guess is that some will, (a
small percentage), but the vast majority will not. Many new licensees,
it seems, are getting into amateur radio not as a hobby, but strictly
for back-up emergency communications, ie: “communications when the big
one hits”. Their low cost VHF/UHF radio stuffed in their go-bag is all
they need. They have no interest in either HF operation, or upgrading.
Several months ago my wife and I attended a Red Cross sponsored event in
Portland, discussing our looming Cascadia earthquake and preparedness
for it. The speaker there encouraged everybody in the audience to “get
their amateur radio license” so they would be able to communicate when
normal communications channels fail. (While nice to hear, it left me
thinking that there needed to be a LOT more explanation.)
What is my opinion on this petition? While generally supportive of the
final ARRL version, I personally would have preferred only the opening
up some of the digital portions of the HF bands to Technicians, as this
would enhance their HF amateur radio experience, without giving them
what equates to most of a General Class license. (In essence, the
addition of a modern digital version of the old Novice license
privileges.) Technicians could get a taste of the world-wide HF
experience with digital modes, even using limited antennas and low power
in their apartments, urban settings, and small lots. For the EmComm
driven Technicians, HF digital use for Winlink messages would be added
to their privilege set.
In the end it probably doesn’t matter whether or not this proposal
passes muster with the FCC. If it passes I do not believe the new
allowances for current Technicians will have a profound effect on my or
your HF daily life, or spectrum utilization in general. For those
Technicians it helps to get on the air and increase their operating
skills, or even incentivizes them to advance, great.
If the petition is enacted the onus will fall mostly onto clubs in the
Northwestern Division, and all across the country to ensure that
Technician class operators are mentored to ensure their success on HF.
The “newbies” must be trained in HF digital and phone operation and
protocols, and this needs to be at the club and local ARES unit level.
Otherwise, it will certainly fail.
Is your club or ARES unit prepared?
ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO
Diary of the Vice Director Volume 1, May 2019
The Public Service Enhancement Working Group, or PSEWG, is meeting every other week via the League teleconference phone bridge. This is a great
group of people to work with. One of our upcoming projects will be
working on, and with, the NTS. Other items still on the stove are the
new ARES Connect database, and finalizing the ARES work book/Task book.
This is a very active group made up of fellow board members, and HQ
The Entry level license committee met April 30th and we discussed the
possible sunsetting of the committee as it’s work was finished. The
group will meet one more time, and a final report to the board is
planned for the July BOD meeting.
The ARISS committee had its second meeting April 11th. We are working on
procedures to get information about the program into the hands of all
Section Managers, and anyone else looking for it. We have one event
already scheduled in the Division, The Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle
Idaho submitted plans for an ARISS contact were accepted If all goes as
planned that contact will take place sometime between July 1st, and
December 31st, 2019. They have to have a large time window based on
mission payloads, who is flying, etc.
Upcoming events I will be attending are, NW Div. Convention (SEA-PAC®)
on June 1st and 2nd, Wenatchee Hamfest on June 7th, 8th and 9th, the PNW
DX Convention in Everett on August 9th, 10th, and 11th, the Spokane
Hamfest on September 28th, the PNW VHF conference in Issaquah on
October 12th, and the “APRS Summer Gathering” this fall. I hope to
see you at one of them.
For information on other Hamfests, Conventions, and related
“gatherings” please see the list maintained by Lynn, N7CFO at:
(NOTE: Also available directly on our NW Division website by clicking on
the “PNW EVENTS” tab)
A few Division statistics as of the end of April
386 new licenses issued
115 upgraded licenses
12,421 ARRL members in Division (-.1% from 2018)
If you have any questions or input on any of the committees feel free to
shoot me an email. That is the best way to contact me.
Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX
ARRL Vice Director