NW Division Newsletter – Nov 10, 2020

It certainly has been a very interesting last few months! The bad news
is that COVID-19 seems to be on the rise again across the globe;
however, the good news for amateurs is that a few of those valued
sunspots are working their way into Earth’s gaze. For the first time
in a long time, operators in the Northwestern Division reported working
DX stations on both 10 meters and 15 meters during the CQWW DX Phone
contest a few weeks ago. Is Cycle 25 finally alive? It certainly looks
like it, and the upcoming CQWW DX CW contest at the end of this month
should be a lively one!

The ARRL Board’s Program and Services and Executive Committees both
recently wrapped up their latest virtual Zoom meetings. The only thing
I can report of interest in the Executive Committee meeting was the
passing of a motion to hold the January 2021 ARRL Board meeting via the
virtual Zoom platform, as was done last July. While certainly not ideal
from either a communication or personal interaction perspective, it will
save the League a bit of money during this financially difficult time,
and will certainly keep both Board members and ARRL staff “COVID-19
safe”. It also keeps both Vice Director Tharp and yours truly from
having to endure long grueling trips to Newington during the coldest
time of the year.

An interesting COVID-19 related motion passed during the latest Programs
and Services Committee meeting that will affect both of the 2021 ARRL DX
contests (CW in February, and SSB in March), in the multi-operator
category entries. With COVID-19 showing no sign of letting up anytime
soon, the ARRL Board is allowing multi-op efforts to run in a
“distributed mode” for these two contests next year, similar to what
was allowed for Field Day last June. Under a single call sign, and using
a logging program that is networked together across all stations as one
log, multiple transmitter sites, (ie: home stations), can be linked
together to run in the multi-operator categories (multi-single,
multi-two, and multi-multi), as long as they meet the following main
criteria:

  1. All stations must be within 100 km (62 miles) of the center of where
    the “main” station or club callsign used is located.
  2. All stations must all be located within the same DXCC entity or US
    state/Canadian province.
  3. Individual operators may not work the multi-op contest station’s
    callsign or other team member stations using a personal call sign or
    other call sign. (One cannot work themselves!)
  4. All multi-op stations must still adhere to normal band change per
    hour limits, the number of signals (1) allowed on a single band rule,
    and all other general contest rules. (This will require some
    coordination between stations!)

What this means in essence: The old “500 foot” rule is now a
temporary and COVID friendly “62 mile” rule. This will have an
interesting affect, as club stations can now pool their member’s
efforts under a club callsign and operate as a team multi-operator
effort, while not cramming a bunch of stations and operators in a single
room at a clubhouse, or worse, in somebody’s basement. This also
means that multiple smaller stations can get together under a single
callsign and be a multi-op station.

Note that this “distributed mode” idea is not really new, and is
already being deployed by large HF contest stations that have the
ability to operate as either fully remote (everyone logging into a
single transmitter site via the internet), or as a hybrid remote, where
there is a combination of “live bodies”, and remote operators. This
proposal takes it one step further, and should make it an even more
interesting contest!

Somebody asked me why some other ARRL contests were not included in this
waiver, such as the upcoming ARRL 10 meter and 160 meter contests. It is
my opinion that what the PSC approved is a “reasonable accommodation”,
primarily intended for large multi-multi stations where proper social
distancing is by far the most difficult. Multi-two operations usually
have only two to six operators total, and can be done in “socially
distanced” shifts, assuming the two physical stations can be physically
separated by the recommended six feet. Multi-single can be done with as
few as two to three operators, all on lone shifts. It stands to reason
that multi-multi has the most risk associated with it, multi-single has
far less risk, and multi-two is somewhere in-between.

The ARRL 10 Meter contest, as a “single-band” contest (along with
the ARRL 160 meter contest), only has a Multi-Single category. So, the
question is; do those single-band contests require the same “reasonable
accommodation” in the form of a rule waiver to assure social distancing?
While there are arguments to be made, I believe the answer is NO. For
Multi-Single, which by definition has only one transmitter and perhaps a
relatively few number of operators over the duration of the contest,
there is no real need to provide the rules accommodation via a temporary
waiver. Two or three people, or even more, in shifts manning a lone
station can “social distance” quite safely with proper precautions
applied.

For more information on this “one-year” waiver, check out the ARRL
press release:
http://www.arrl.org/news/guidelines-issued-for-arrl-dx-contest-multioperator-stations

Next, remember that last year the FCC worked with the ARRL to initiate a
new formal US amateur band monitoring program that replaced the old ARRL
Official Observer (OO) program that existed for many years. I recently
had a recent discussion with a Division member asking about what the new
ARRL Volunteer Monitor (VM) program is doing to keep an eye on the HF
band edges, especially during contests. It should be on every operators
mind that one using SSB phone can’t legally work a station that is
parked at the very high end of the Upper Sideband (USB) bands, or at the
very low end of the Lower Sideband (LSB) bands. This even includes DX
stations that are rare multipliers in contests, despite the temptation.
(Ask me how I know!) Even though the VFO dial on your transceiver shows
you to be several kHz before the end of the band, some of your signal
could actually fall outside the allotted band edge, and onto a VMs
radar.

A fully modulated SSB signal is typically about 2.8 kHz wide, so a good
rule of thumb is to keep your transmitted signal no less than 3 kHz from
the band edges, (top edge for USB signals, and lower edge for LSB). That
means no closer than 14.347 MHz for the high end of 20 meter phone, and
either 7.128 MHz (Advanced/Extra class), or 7.178 MHz (General class)
for 40 meter phone, depending on your license class. With CW you can
certainly get much closer to the edges, but don’t push it too far
unless you know exactly how accurate your VFO dial is!

So, are the new VMs really monitoring for band-edge violations?
According to Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, the head of the ARRL VM
program, the answer is “YES”! When I recently asked him to comment
on the issue, he replied: “We have had 76 VM reports of ops too close
to the band edges, but most are less than 3 kHz; but even then, out of
the 76 reports to me from VMs, only one call sign showed up in a second
VM report.” I also discussed this in brief with one of the VMs
themselves, and was informed that he employs a panadapter configuration
to locate band-edge violators, and has the ability to take a visual
snapshot of the offending signal to offer as proof. So, pay attention to
those band-edges, or a “friendly reminder” may be coming your way!

Next, you may have heard that Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT, the ARRL Pacific
Division Director recently became a Silent Key. His passing came as a
complete shock to all of us on the Board. Jim had an extensive ham
radio biography spanning five decades, and his official ARRL obituary
can be found here:
http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-pacific-division-director-jim-tiemstra-k6jat-sk

I had the extreme privilege of sitting right next to Jim in Board
meetings, and also worked with him as a fellow Board member of the ARRL
Foundation last year. He was one of my most valued mentors and a great
ally when I first joined the ARRL Board in 2019.

I was amazed, and often watched in awe as he went toe-to-toe with some
of the other attorney members of the Board during heated debates on
issues. I will miss both his friendship and wit greatly. My heart and
prayers go out to his family.

On November 7th, Kristen McIntyre, K6WX, officially took over as the new
ARRL Pacific Division Director, and will work with Board President
Roderick, K5UR to find a new Vice Director to appoint in her place.
While we have lost an attorney Board member in Mr. Tiemstra, Kristen
brings another “engineering” voice to the big table. She will also
be the second YL on the current ARRL Board, along with Ria Jairam, N2RJ,
the Hudson Division Director. I look forward to working with Kristen
next year as she takes on this new and challenging role.

As if 2020 doesn’t want to stop giving us grief, I also received news
today that one of the most best known amateurs in the world recently
became a Silent Key: John Devoldere, ON4UN, of Merelbeke, Belgium. His
famous book “Low Band DXing”, (now in its fifth edition), has been
the “go-to” reference for many thousands of amateurs around the
world since it was first published in 1987. You can read all about John
and his many contributions to amateur radio here:
https://www.qrz.com/lookup/on4un . While I have worked John in many a
contest over the years, I had a chance to finally meet him at the
International DX Convention in 2019. A true loss for our hobby.

Finally, and on a much lighter note, here is the link to an article you
might find interesting: “A Tale of Two W7HERs”, written by Scott
Rosenfeld, N7JI, of Eugene, OR. It’s a true story of how even an
amateur radio callsign can follow the circle of life:
https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/a-tale-of-two-w7hers.733239/

73 and stay safe;

Mike, W7VO
Director, ARRL NW Division
www.arrl.org
www.arrlnwdiv.org
w7vo@arrl.org

Now we will see what Vice Director Tharp, KB7HDX has been up to:

Diary of the Vice Director, Volume 2, November 2020

The Legal defense and assistance committee has offered a cash grant to
be used towards professional fees pertaining to changing zoning
requirements to assist all Amateurs in a specific county on the East
coast. Sorry that is a bit vague, however to name the location or the
individual would not be appropriate. With luck, and a lot of work, this
will be a favorable outcome for all amateurs in that county. It looks to
be a drawn-out process so if you get tired of standing by for more
information, sit down.

ARISS continues to hold remote sessions with the folks upstairs on the
ISS. We also have a new ground station online who happens to live right
here in our own Division! David Payne, NA7V was accepted to be an
additional telebridge station. David is filling in a gap we had after
W6SRJ in California was taken out of service due to this year’s
wildfires. Thanks, David, from the entire ARISS committee!

NASA also ran a very nice story about the 20th anniversary of the ISS.
It’s a long url:
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/the-international-space-station-20-years-of-communications-excellence

One “project” I assigned to myself last month was updating the
Division list for DXCC card checkers. Wow was that a mess. This was done
as a result of wanting to add another person in Poulsbo, WA as the other
checkers were quite far away and with current Covid restrictions, the
cards were stacking up for some. As a result, I am glad to announce that
our friend John Zantek, W7CD is our newest checker. If you need to have
any cards checked for DXCC or WAS feel free to get ahold of one of the
16 that are in the Northwestern Division and are ready and willing to
help you out. A search for the closest one to you is available at:
http://www.arrl.org/dxcc-card-checker-search including, yours truly.

Although the work of the Emergency Management Search Committee is
“technically” finished, at the July BOD meeting our group was tasked
with looking into possible changes needing to be made to the ARRL
By-Laws which would allow for a third standing committee. This new
committee, if formed, would have a primary charter of supporting the new
Emcom Director and others with matters pertaining to ARES, NTS and
related subjects. That task is currently under the Programs and Services
committee; however, the Board felt a separate committee with a more
specific focus would be better for all involved.

Division statistics:

302 new licenses issued and 63 upgraded licenses.

12,662 ARRL members in Division (+ 2.0% from 2019)

147 Active ARRL affiliated clubs.

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

73..

Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX

ARRL Vice Director
Northwestern Division.
kb7hdx@arrl.org


ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO
w7vo@arrl.org

Leave a Reply