A new phrase has certainly been melded into the lexicon of world
languages this year. Whether it is known as “riduzione dei
contatti” in Italy, “ukuziqhelelanisa nomphakathi” in Zulu,
“distanciation sociale” in France or, you probably guessed it,
“social distancing” in our own English language, those words have
had a profound effect on how we all live our daily lives. There is
another word we’ve had to learn the meaning of this year as a result.
That word is: “adapt”. We’ve all had to adapt to challenges we
now face as a result of social distancing. We’ve had to adapt to new
shopping routines, deal with shortages of consumable goods and even
food, deal with travel and group gathering restrictions, and many other
limitations imposed by our need to stay healthy. Our amateur radio
livelihood has certainly been affected as well.
Amateur radio club meetings and events are all certainly affected,
however, many clubs have adapted by a variety of means. Those mostly
started off with simple meeting and event cancellations, but then
adaptations evolved in the form of virtual teleconference meetings over
the internet, and a lot of clubs have now expanded their radio VHF/UHF
and HF nets to include more social interaction “over the air”. Some
major events, such as Dayton’s Contest University, and many others
have moved to being virtual events for this year. (There will be more
on Contest University later in this newsletter.) Amateurs are adapting.
In the world of amateur radio contesting, larger amateur stations that
would normally run multi-operator efforts have had to scale back to
single-operator efforts, or have expanded the use of remote operating.
Amateurs have adapted, and contest activity has certainly not ebbed as a
result. Sure, some of the social aspects of multi-operator contesting
are gone, however none of the actual radio activity has. We’re still
Back on March 27th the ARRL put out a special bulletin regarding the
necessity for adapting from our normal Field Day routines this year:
“Due to the unique situation presented this year, this can be an
opportunity for you, your club, and/or group to try something new,”
ARRL Contest Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE, said. “Field Day isn’t
about doing things the same way year after year. Use this year to
develop and employ a new approach that is in line with the current
The ARRL Board’s Program and Services committee, after much debate,
came to the same conclusion at its April teleconference meeting, and
deciding upon no special rule changes this year. It was felt by the
committee that some rule changes, such as adding new class categories
would place an undue hardship on logging program software developers for
a temporary one-year-only change, and that rule changes themselves are
hard to “bring back” once hams get used to them. It was also felt
that amateurs would be encouraged to “advance the radio art” by
coming up with some unique solutions to the problem, rather than
The bulletin continued on: “Social distancing and state and local
requirements very likely will impact just how — and even whether —
you are able to participate in Field Day this year. If social distancing
means that Class A with a 30-member team set up in a city park won’t
work this year, then it’s time for a Plan B. Part of the Field Day
concept has always been adapting your operation to the situation at
hand. At its heart, Field Day is an emergency communication
demonstration. Field Day rules are flexible enough to allow individuals
and groups to adjust their participation and strategies in a way that
still addresses their needs while being fun. Some possibilities:
• Encourage club members to operate from their home stations on
emergency power (Class E).
• Use the club’s repeater as a means for individual participants to
keep in touch during the event.
• Family members interested in operating Field Day, and unable to
participate as part of a larger group, may want to consider setting up a
portable station in the backyard using a temporary antenna.
I know of several clubs that are going to attempt to take Field Day
“remote” this year, with a couple of stations set up that can be
logged into remotely. Club members can run the stations from their
The biggest question in all of this: Who knows exactly what will happen
with the COVID-19 virus between now and the 4th weekend in June, a full
6 weeks away? Some local jurisdictions, and even whole states, will
most certainly be fully open for business in six weeks with little
restrictions left in place. Others, especially in urban areas, are
likely to still be in full lock-down mode. Some Field Day participants
will likely have to adapt more than those who operate in locales with
The bottom line: While I’ll concede it’s hard to put together a
virtual Field Day BBQ, get on the air for the event any way you can and
be inventive if you need to. I’ll be “1E Oregon” from my backyard
patio, operating with a fully battery powered HF station, and some wires
temporary strung in the backyard trees. And yes, I’ll still be having
Next, a huge “THANK YOU” is in order for NW Division Assistant
Director Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO. He has put the “stay at home”
order to good use by 3-D printing ear guards for first responder and
medical team face masks. These guards keep the elastic straps from
abrading the back side of the wearer’s ears. To date he has
distributed over 1,100 of them to hospitals, nurses, flight attendants,
911 centers, police departments, jails, fire departments and businesses
in Washington, Oregon, California and Utah. On behalf of the ARRL NW
Division, and our life-saving Northwest first responders and medical
teams: THANKS, Lynn!
And for those of you that would like to learn more about the art of
amateur radio contesting from the pros, here’s your unique
opportunity! Normally, the huge Dayton Hamfest in Xenia, Ohio would be
occurring this week, complete with a very popular seminar event called
“Contest University”. This seminar event is usually a sell-out, but
thanks to the pandemic this year it will be a completely different
experience. The organizers have put together a FREE virtual event, and
as of today, there were still “seats” available. No flying to Dayton
and sitting in hot crowded conference rooms, you can lounge with your
bathrobe and sip hot coffee on your own comfortable couch, and learn
from the very best there is in radiosport.
The Contest University course outline can be found at:
https://www.contestuniversity.com/course-outline/, and if interested you
can enroll at: https://www.contestuniversity.com/. “See” you there!
Finally, NW Division Assistant Director Bill Balzarini, KL7BB has put
together another ham radio crossword puzzle to keep our idle minds busy.
It will be published on our NW Division website
(https://www.arrlnwdiv.org) within the next few days. Enjoy!
73 and stay safe;
Mike Ritz, W7VO
Director, ARRL NW Division
Now we will hear the latest from NW Division Vice Director, Mark Tharp,
Diary of the Vice Director, Volume 2, May 2020
Well, another month is behind us and I hope this newsletter finds you
all safe, and not quite in stage 4 of “stir-crazy”! April was
certainly a busy month. Some fun was had joining clubs and other groups
at virtual meetings. I even talked our Director, W7VO into putting his
HF noise mitigation talk on for the locals here in Yakima. It was very
well received. If your group is looking for a program, ask Mike to do
it. He does a great job and it is educational. Thanks again Mike!
On the virtual meeting note, Mike and I both have full feature accounts
for ZOOM so if you are in need of a meeting, we are both available to
help set one up for you while the stay home order continues.
The ARISS committee did not officially meet in April, however we shared
a number of emails, and the ARISS program itself was running full speed
all month. A school contact was made on April 30th using a never before
tried method called “multipoint telebridge contact via amateur
radio”. Fred, AB1OC from New Hampshire was the ground station. The
telebridge allowed students, ranging in age from 5 to 10 years along
with their stuck at home parents and teachers to communicate with the
ISS and ask the Astronaut a set of questions. For a first attempt, the
concept worked well other than a delay from upstairs where they had an
issue getting the old radio to fire up. A new Amateur Radio
communication package was sent up earlier this year, and is currently in
the Harmony supply module waiting to be unpacked and installed.
Due to a few changes in committee membership, I have now been appointed
to the “Emergency Management Director Selection Committee” This
group has been working hard in the last month to narrow the number of
applicants down. We are currently in the process of virtual interviews.
This is a new process for us as well as we are doing this via ZOOM and
other video conference platforms. Our goal is to have the process
finalized and a person hired by mid-July.
Membership renewals: If you “normally” renew your ARRL membership
at a hamfest or convention and would like to still do so,,,,, Please
email me. I can send you the application and you can mail it back to me
along with your check, I’ll even toss in a SASE. (no cash in the mail
please) or simply put your credit card info on the bottom like at the
hamfest, and I will process them for you. I know many do this every year
at a convention because it’s an easy way to remember to do it. You are
of course able to do this online at http://www.arrl.org/membership
REMINDER TO OREGON Ballots and candidate statements for the Section
manager election in Oregon were mailed out on March 27th The deadline
for returning your ballot is May 15th. If you did not receive your
ballot, contact ARRL HQ at 860 594 0200 This is again only relevant to
folks residing in Oregon.
49 new licenses issued and 7 upgraded licenses.
12,633 ARRL members in Division (+ 1.7% from 2019)
146 Active ARRL affiliated clubs.
“The Membership Challenge”, my monthly plug… again…
Out of all the amateur radio folks you know who are not league members,
get one of them to join, just one, not 20, but one. This challenge
started after the 2019 Northwestern Division Convention, also known as
SEA-PAC. That event is now unfortunately but understandably canceling
this year. As a result, the major award will still be awarded, I’ll
just have to figure a way to draw for it.
If you have any questions or input, an email to email@example.com is the
best way to contact me.
Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX
ARRL Vice Director
ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO