NW Division Newsletter – October 9, 2020

I hope this newsletter again finds you all well and safe, and looking
forward to the beginning of Cycle 25. Based on very poor propagation
conditions noted in the CQWW RTTY contest a few weeks ago, it seems that
even the sunspots for Cycle 25 are waiting for the miserable year of
2020 to be over before they dare move into Earth’s view.

COVID-19 is still having a major impact on NW Division ham events, but
there are signs of hope on the horizon. The Salem Hamfest in Rickreall
originally scheduled for February 20, 2021 has already been canceled,
however both the Mike & Key 40th Electronics Show & Fleamarket up in
Puyallup, WA, (set for March 6th ), is still on track, and SEA-PAC,
(scheduled for June 4-6), is still alive and well on the calendar.
Let’s all hope that we can actually get together in person at events
starting next spring!

For the latest information regarding the status of all NW Division
events, go directly to Assistant Director Lynn Burlingame’s (N7CFO)
informative website: http://www.n7cfo.com/amradio/hf/hf.htm. You can
also get to Lynn’s website via our Division website front page:
https://www.arrlnwdiv.org .

The ARRL Board meetings held in July and August are now in the books.
For those that are interested, the formal minutes for those meetings can
now be found and downloaded from the ARRL website:

David Siddall, K3ZJ, our ARRL FCC Legal Counsel has been very busy as of
late, and recently reported on a few amateur related “stale”
proceedings that were recently dismissed by the FCC. (Note that
dismissal does not prevent filing a petition for reconsideration or a
petition for review of the dismissal action, or submitting a new
petition on the same issue.) The three petitions were:

Docket 16-243: SPE Petition for Waiver of the 15 dB linear amplifier
gain limit. The petition that is the subject of this docket was denied
in December, 2016. Please note that SPE also filed a companion Petition
for Rulemaking asking for a permanent rules change, and that petition
remains pending (RM-11767). The FCC is terminating just the docket for
the waiver, which was denied in 2016 with no further appeal.

RM-11769: this petition asked that (1) generally in the bands 2 meters
and below, that digital data modes be permitted in addition to CW
everywhere in the band segments where phone/image modes are not
permitted; and (2) license class privileges be adjusted.

RM-11629: This 2011 petition proposed to extend credit to applicants
permanently for each and every amateur examination element passed.

There is still no word on when the FCC will act on RM-11828 (Technician
Enhancement), or the other petitions and actions that are hanging out
there, such as the new ARRL HF band plan separating narrow and wide-band
digital recently approved by the Board. I recently asked Siddall where
we were on these petitions, and the answer I received back indicated
that he expects the FCC to be able to work on these petitions sometime
around Q1 of 2021. A focus on 5G telecom networks, COVID, staff
shake-ups, and a big office move are consuming most of the FCC’s
bandwidth at the moment.

One of these petitions, RM-11708, (the “symbol rate” petition that
would authorize PACTOR 4 for use here in the U.S.), has been on the
FCC’s desk for almost seven years now, with no action! Siddall assures
us that he is currently doing all he can to make sure these get off FCC
desks and legislated as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the FCC is acting very swiftly on reallocation of the
3.3-3.5 GHz (9 cm) amateur band, with deep pocketed telecom carriers
itching to lease a piece of this spectrum for their growing 5G networks.
This will have a major impact on the growth of amateur mesh emcomm
networks, and propagation studies conducted by weak-signal amateurs that
also utilize that band.

That said, there is a slight glimmer of hope. The FCC recently released
the NRPM, DOC 19-348:
https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-366780A1.pdf. While the
docket is specific to making the top 100 megahertz of spectrum in the
3.45-3.55 GHz band available for “flexible use wireless services”,
they are also looking at “sunsetting amateur use in the 3.3-3.5 GHz
band.”, Siddall expects this to occur perhaps sometime in the mid-2022

Below is a quote from the FCC’s NRPM as it relates to amateur radio:

“Notwithstanding the utility of amateur operations in this band,
operators that chose to construct networks in this band did so despite
the fact that the amateur allocation was secondary and entirely subject
to current or future primary operations. As Part 97 of our rules makes
clear, amateur operations are a non-commercial, voluntary service.
Amateur stations are permitted to operate in many different bands;
amateur stations operating in the 3 GHz band have several other nearby
bands available to them with similar propagation characteristics, such
as the nearby 2 GHz band and the 5 GHz band. After the authorization to
operate sunsets for secondary amateur licensees here, amateur stations
will continue to have available these and other bands that are allocated
for amateur use.”

So, it certainly doesn’t look good for amateurs to keep any bandwidth
at this point in the 9 cm band, but the ARRL is still trying to salvage
something. Maybe we can share a secondary allocation sliver at the
bottom end of the band? The “somewhat” good news is that the
sunsetting of the 3 GHz band give us a bit of leverage with the FCC to
keep our secondary allocations at 2.3 GHz, (13 cm) and 5.8 GHz, (5 cm).
That said, the latter spectrum is also a very valuable commodity, and is
under attack from other commercial interests besides just the telecom 5G
crowd. Stay tuned as this develops.

Several Division members have asked me what is going on with the
replacement effort for the Amateur Radio Parity Act, (ARPA), the bill
intended to provide some relief for amateurs affected by deed
restrictions and covenants. ARRL West Gulf Director John Stratton,
N5AUS, is an attorney member of the Board’s Legislative Advocacy
Committee tackling this effort, a committee that also contains a
majority of other practicing attorneys on the Board, (and by the way,
all volunteering their time “pro-bono”). This latest relief effort
has begun in the US Senate this go-around, and in a recent update to
Board members Stratton reported the obstacles currently before them are
related to the upcoming election. Regardless of the election outcome,
our lobbyists expect that Congress will focus on moving legislation out
the door before January. It is then we will have a chance to move our

So, this ball keeps rolling slowly along. Stay tuned for further
developments on this major ARRL effort as well.

Next, October 1st signaled the start of the next ARRL Foundation
Scholarship Program cycle, and the ARRL is currently accepting
applications from eligible student amateur radio operators pursuing
higher education. More than 100 scholarships ranging from $500 to
$25,000 will be awarded in 2021. Applications for the 2021 ARRL
Foundation Scholarship Program will be accepted between midnight October
1, 2020 and 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time December 31, 2020.
Transcripts must be received by January 11, 2021.

All applicants must be “active”, FCC-licensed amateur radio
operators, and for some scholarships there is a 1 year minimum licensing
requirement. (It’s really easy to tell when a student gets their
license just so they can be eligible for a scholarship; it’s usually
just a month or so before the application is sent in!)

As a hint from me for those students or their parents considering a
scholarship, note the emphasis above on the word “active”.
“Active” means more than just having an amateur license; it means
being actively engaged in the hobby. This can be accomplished by being
an active local radio club member, being active in an ARES program,
being an amateur radio mentor to other students, or in some other way
demonstrating actual amateur radio activity, such as participating in
ARRL Field Day, or other operating events. Often that one criterion is
the differentiator between an applicant who is awarded a particular
scholarship and one that loses out. It really helps if the student has a
profile set up on QRZ.com also, even if it’s minimal. It also helps
if the student is an ARRL member! All these little things that
differentiate between applicants are cumulative, and add up to ensure a
better outcome.

Available scholarships and their individual requirements can be found on
the ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/scholarship-descriptions

The on-line scholarship application can be found here:

All applicants must submit a completed online application and forward a
PDF of their academic transcript from their most recently completed
school year to: foundation@arrl.org by Monday, January 11, 2021. A
number of scholarships require additional documents, such as a letter of
recommendation from a sitting Officer of an ARRL-affiliated club. These
should also be submitted to foundation@arrl.org. Applications without
accompanying transcripts and additional required documents, (if
applicable), will not be considered.

The ARRL Foundation Scholarship Committee will review all applicants for
eligibility and award decisions. Scholarship recipients will be
notified in May 2021 via USPS mail and e-mail.

Finally, I don’t often put in obituaries for SK hams in my newsletter,
but we recently lost a ham radio pioneer, tireless volunteer, and a key
figure in the Northwest’s VHF/UHF amateur radio repeater infrastructure.
Below is an excerpt from his obituary, provided by Larry, W7JYJ:

Jim Silke, Sr., K7TBL SK

James D. Silke, Sr. K7TBL passed away Sept 15th, 2020 at his Siltcoos
Lake home south of Florence, Oregon at age 80 surrounded by his family.
Jim Silke graduated from Oregon State University in the early 60’s.

Jim with wife Carol Silke K7VYE started Silke Communications in the
Eugene, Oregon area in the mid 1960’s. Growing it from a local 2-way
radio shop, to a multi-state networked digital land mobile radio (LMR)
system, with radio repeater sites and 10 Silke Communications radio
shops in Oregon, Washington and California, Jim was an expert at
building RF power combiners and pre-selectors from surplus cavity
filters for his various radio repeater sites.

Silke Communications radio sites hosted many amateur radio VHF and UHF
repeaters at no cost. With master receive and transmit antenna systems,
their power combiners and window filter pre-selectors often incorporated
the amateur radio repeaters into the mix of commercial LMR repeaters
sharing the antennas.

Jim was a frequent contributor of surplus LMR equipment and parts to the
Eugene area ham radio community, Oregon hamfests and the University of
Oregon. He contributed his expertise and surplus material to the
University of Oregon’s first UHF LTR narrow-band trunking radio repeater
system in the late 90’s. He also contributed surplus 72-MHz transmitters
for the University’s campus-wide wireless clock system starting in

Jim was working on new power combiners and pre-selectors at his Siltcoos
Lake shop for expanding Silke Communications’ multi-state LMR system up
until a few months before his passing. Jim will be greatly missed by
his many friends in the amateur radio community.

73 and stay safe;

Mike Ritz, W7VO
ARRL NW Division Director


Now, we will hear from our Vice Director, Mark Tharp, KB7HDX

Diary of the Vice Director, Volume 2, October 2020

Wow did September ever fly by. Things in the Vice Director chair were
relatively quiet with a few exceptions.
One item of note from ARISS is they are looking for educational
institutions and organizations to host a contact for the year 2021. The
full story on the ARRL web can be found here:

So far with the help of a few good folks and a lot of internet
connectivity the ARISS school contacts have been able to continue even
during the Covid lockdowns. It’s been quite a year for sure. A very
successful contact was held the morning of October 7th with the
McConnell Middle School in Loganville, GA. It was somewhat of a test
for ARISS as this was the first time UHF has been used for the primary
contact. A YouTube video is available at

The Legal defense and assistance committee has discussed two items, one
unfortunately we are not able to help with, and the second is under
discussion as of this writing. As they involve legal actions, I cannot
share much more than that.

Mike and I continue to help clubs and groups with online meetings using
ZOOM. We both have full accounts and if you are needing to hold a
meeting, just let us know. So far, we have been able to accommodate all
the requests.

Division membership is once again up this last month. Thanks to all the
new members, and welcome to the ARRL family.

Division statistics:
244 new licenses issued and 63 upgraded licenses.
12,642 ARRL members in Division (+ 2.6% from 2019)
147 Active ARRL affiliated clubs.

Short and sweet this month. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween
in whatever modified state of opening your area is in and if you are
active on HF, don’t forget about CQ World Wide on October 24 and 25.

If you have any questions or input, an email to kb7hdx@arrl.org is the
best way to contact me.

Mark, KB7HDX

Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX
ARRL Vice Director

Northwestern Division.

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