Again, I hope this newsletter finds you all healthy and on the air! The
COVID-19 virus and the “stay at home” orders have certainly sparked
up activity on the HF bands. (Excuse the pun…) Numerous records have
been broken in recent contests, despite almost non-existent sunspot
numbers and generally poor propagation. It’s all about the number of
people on the air, getting involved, and being active.
There has been so much activity in fact, that the group responsible for
the ever popular FT-x software are looking at ways to expand beyond what
are now single-channel (2.8 kHz wide) blips on the HF bands. They’ve
outgrown the current slots, and are bursting at the seams. I can attest
to that, as the Thursday morning before the CQ WPX CW contest I was
strolling through 20 meters to check band conditions, and to my
amazement there were absolutely no CW, RTTY, or even SSB stations on the
air. Not one! What was on 20 meters? About 40 or so FT-8 stations
centered around 14.074 MHz. As I’ve said before: The FT-x hype is real,
as is the technological disruption of “conventional” amateur modes.
The question raised is: How to expand for FT-x, and not infringe upon
other “digital mode toes”? As a result, the ARRL Band Planning
committee has been asked to be involved in helping to coordinate the
digital spectrum beyond our initial charter, which was to mitigate and
separate wide-band and narrow-band digital into regulated FCC Part 97
allotments. The digital players are now looking at a full digital
spectrum coordination effort, a real job of herding cats if ever there
I suggested to ARRL President Roderick, K5UR that this really needs to
be a new and separate committee that contains representatives from ALL
of the major stakeholders in the digital world, ie: FT-x, FLdigi, PSK,
MFSK, RTTY, Winlink, and the myriad of other popular modes, and not just
the current committee populated with only ARRL Board members, as it does
now. What the digital players are looking at is coming up with a
coordinated plan for the HF digital spectrum, similar to what is done
with VHF and UHF repeater coordination. In my opinion that needs to be
accomplished with ARRL assistance and support, but not totally upon the
shoulders of the ARRL. The ARRL can be the coordinator of the effort and
publish the results, but the input and work should be burdened by the
digital stakeholders. This is still in the initial stages of discussion,
and I’ll let you know how this develops.
Some members have been asking me about what happened with the HF digital
band planning efforts we completed several months ago. I wondered the
same thing, and the answer I got back from President Roderick was that
it will “probably” be reviewed by the full Board at the annual July
Board meeting. What’s interesting to me was the urgency that was
emoted back last year to get this done quickly, and now the apparent
interest has ebbed. I would have expected the Board’s Executive
Committee to act upon the recommendations with haste, but that never
happened. (In their defense, there is a pandemic going on.) The
problem is now it appears there will be no “in-person” July Board
meeting in Newington this year, but probably just a quick Zoom
teleconference call to handle “urgent business”. We’ll have to
see where the new HF digital band plan fits in that equation.
By now you may have heard that the ARRL Board’s Program and Services
Committee (PSC), (of which I am a member), voted in a hastily called
special meeting to make a couple of minor allowances for Field Day 2020
operations in wake of the COVID-19 crisis. They are:
1.) Allowing home stations on commercial power (Class D) to get point
credit for working other Class D stations.
2.) Allowing club entries to aggregate scores from individual Field Day
contributors operating remotely, and have them posted as a club score.
You may recall that I attempted to get #1, as suggested by several
Division members, passed by the PSC last January, however the committee
at that time wanted no part of it. Why the sudden shift in direction
now? It’s because of YOU, the ARRL members were heard, and the Board
responded. Once the meeting was called I quickly wrote up a three page
whitepaper regarding the necessity for Field Day allowances and proposed
motion that I believe also helped to move the committee in the end.
While my exact recommendations listed in the paper were not what the
committee eventually voted to approve, at least it was a starting point
for debate within the committee. What we eventually ended up with was
actually better than I proposed, and thought we could get approved. So,
thanks again to you ARRL members! (If you want to read the whitepaper,
it’s available for download at: www.w7vo.com/docs.)
I am currently working on a couple of important motions for the upcoming
July Board meeting. The first one authored is for the PSC that empowers
then to make autonomous decisions on proposed rule changes for ARRL
adjudicated contests, and operating events such as Field Day. Currently
there is precedence for only the full ARRL Board itself having that
authority, but no specific rule exists one way or the other.
The feeling is that the Board has many more pressing and important
issues to deal with, well beyond deciding whether or not we should add a
new Multi-Two category to the RTTY Roundup contest. My motion ensures
that appropriate committees, such as the Contest Advisory Committee, are
part of the rule change process, and all Board members will have a
chance to review and comment before a PSC approved change is given to
ARRL staff for incorporation. This should streamline Board meetings, and
importantly, keep the Board focused on more important issues. This
motion also means faster responses on proposed contest and operating
event rule changes, such as you just saw for the recent Field Day
The second motion I’m working on relates to whether or not an ARRL
Board member, an appointed member of only one of the three Standing
Committees, (Administration and Finance, (A&F), Programs and Services
(PSC), or the Executive Committee (EC)), each year has the right to
attend the other Standing Committee meetings. (Some Vice Directors are
not a member of any of the Standing Committees, but are rather appointed
to other committees.) My argument for this motion: I feel it’s my
fiduciary responsibility as a Director to keep abreast of the state of
the ARRL’s financial health, (especially now!), and know where we
currently are with the organization’s initiatives and programs. I
can’t successfully do my job if I’m not allowed to attend the other
meetings, especially the A&F meetings. There’s also the transparency
appearance of this to consider, another important issue.
At present there is ambiguity in the ARRL Standing Order rules as to
whether or not Directors are allowed to attend all Standing Committee
meetings, and some Committee Chairs interpret the current Standing Order
rule (90-1.63) differently than others. The bottom line is: I’m
going to attempt to close this loophole, by putting language into the
Standing Order to ensure ALL ARRL Board members can attend any Standing
Committee meeting they wish, with limitations on how much they can
actively interact in meetings left up to individual Standing Committee
Chairs. (This is to limit meeting interruptions.) We’ll see where
this ends up.
Next, the ARRL Foundation has been extremely busy matching scholarships
up with aspiring student amateurs over the last few weeks. This year the
scholarships are worth twice the normal award values, due to the
generosity of the Amateur Radio Digital Communications group, (ARDC).
They have agreed to match all ARRL Foundation scholarships
dollar-for-dollar this year, and next year will likely be funding their
own scholarship administered by the Foundation.
I was assigned 24 scholarships to vet of the 70 available, matching
scholarships and their specific requirements with the very best and
brightest of about 175 student amateurs that submitted applications for
them. This was no easy task and was a real time sink. However, it’s
easily the most rewarding part of being a member of the Foundation
board; supporting the next generation of amateurs. I also want to thank
the many ARRL Scholarship donors, because without them the Foundation
wouldn’t be able to do the great work it does.
Finally, congratulations to David Kidd, KA7OZO for his re-election as
Oregon Section Manager for another two-year term. I look forward to
working with him to enhance ARRL communications with members, and
further supporting ARRL programs and services within the Oregon
73 and stay safe!
Mike Ritz, W7VO
Director, ARRL Northwestern Division
Now, on to the latest from our Vice Director, Mark Tharp, KB7HDX:
Diary of the Vice Director, Volume 2, June 2020
A number of events involving the ARISS program took place during the
last few weeks.
A second “multipoint telebridge contact via amateur radio” took
place and was a great success. Students from the Airdrie Space Science
Club in Alberta Canada interviewed our current Ham in space, Chris
Cassidy KF5KDR. A news story is on the ARRL web for more information.
On Saturday, May 30th, with the successful launch of the SpaceX Dragon
spacecraft carrying “Bob and Doug” as they have come to be known, up
to the ISS. Bob, (Bob Behnken, KE5GGX) brings the number of Amateurs on
board to two.
One other ARISS supported event was the 2020 Great Balloon Race where
four amateurs sent up APRS equipped balloons from the West coast to see
which one would cross the eastern time zone boundary first. One of the
four was our own Northwest Division member Steve Potter, K7HAK. A news
story with more information is on the ARRL web.
And most recently, ARISS took the step to become its own independent
organization. This has been in the works for some time, and will allow
the program to apply for grants directly rather than having to involve
other organizations such as AMSAT. The ARRL will continue to support
ARISS just as it has in the past. The move is more of a formality than
anything else. Relationships with ARRL and AMSAT are continuing strong,
helping move the ARISS program forward.
The Legal defense committee held a ZOOM meeting on May 26th. We reviewed
a number of topics we have been discussing over the year. Including the
possibility of being able to assist with hands free laws. That is not
“exactly” within the charter of the committee, so more discussion
needs to be held, and perhaps an amendment to the charter by the board.
The EMCOM Director hiring committee is down to one interview left in
“round one” and we are hoping to have it wrapped up soon. Then we
will move the process into round two. With the July ARRL Board meeting
more likely than not being moved or modified next month, I cannot give
you a timeline on when this person will be hired. I can tell you 100%
for sure, the committee, and the board, want to have this done as soon
128 new licenses issued and 38 upgraded licenses. (the back log of
paperwork at ARRL HQ is getting done)
12,592 ARRL members in Division (+ 1.1% from 2019)
146 Active ARRL affiliated clubs.
“The Membership Challenge”
Well, SEA-PAC was to take place a few days ago (as I write this) and
with it wraps up the yearlong Membership challenge. I had to come up
with a way to pick some winners for the “major award” without
holding a drawing. So here it is, WARNING do not read this next part
if you are prone to headaches, trust me, just skip the next paragraph.
I listed the “recruiters” and the new “members” in the order I
received notice. Then, using the google random number generator,
assigned a number between 100 and 1000 to each person from top to
bottom. Then, I added the last three digits of each person’s ARRL
membership number and sub totaled. That gave me a “score” if you
will, and I re listed them in that order starting with 1. With 1 being
the highest number etc. I went back to the random number generator and
asked for another random number, and added that to the ranking number.
Then, to finish it up, I took the number of the last letter of each
callsign in the alphabet and added that to the sum of the ranking, and
the random number, for a final score.
NOTE I warned you to skip ahead.
After all that random, made up, convoluted process of picking a winner,
the winner of the recruiters is Jo, KA7LJQ and the winner of the new
members is Chris, KI7NXY.
I know, I know, you’re thinking ya sure, how did Jo win that… Well,
I don’t know, it’s just how the math worked. That being said, she
does not need a new handbook, as we already have one in the house and
declined to accept. (which she is just now learning as she reads this
along with you HA!) SO,,, the recipient of it will be Bob, K7VNW with
the second highest “score”.
Congratulations to both, thanks for playing along, and most important,
thanks for being members!
And thanks to all of you for being members. Without all of us working
together, we would in no way have the greatest hobby in the world as we
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