ARRL NW Division Newsletter – April 17, 2021

I hope this finds everybody well, and have either received, or are ready
to get in line for COVID-19 vaccine shots! Before we know it we will be
busily roving the swap tables at the hamfests looking for treasures and
actually seeing each other in person! Is the October “Swaptoberfest”
at Rickreall going to happen this year? Let’s all hope so! I am
already starting to hear about some clubs moving to a least a
“hybrid” meeting structure, with a mix of live attendees, and Zoom
participants, so that is very encouraging.

Vice Director Mark Tharp, KB7HDX, is stepping a bit on the “wild
side”, and will be attending a couple of live Hamfests over in Eastern
Washington and Idaho over the next few months. In July, ARRL Honorary
Vice President, (and former NW Division Director), Jim Fenstermaker,
K9JF, will be representing the NW Division at the Glacier Waterton
International Peace Park Hamfest in Montana. At the last ARRL Board
Executive Committee meeting it was decided that our usual July “full
ARRL Board” meeting will be held back in Newington, CT, the first time
we’ve been back at HQ since January 2020. Things are slowly returning
to some semblance of normal!


Al Rovner, K7AR, recently reported that registration for the
“virtual” 2021 PNW DX Convention, sponsored by the Willamette
Valley DX Club, and to be held Saturday Aug 7, 2021, is now open.
Registration is FREE, but participants can opt to donate from $5 to $15
to help fund door prizes. Since this is a virtual convention, all hams
may register wherever they are located. More details will be posted at
the convention website:


The following was just released by the ARRL, but in case you missed it:

“The FCC has announced that rule changes detailed in a lengthy 2019
Report and Order governing RF exposure standards go into effect on May
3, 2021. The new rules do not change existing RF exposure (RFE) limits
but do require that stations in all services, including amateur radio,
be evaluated against existing limits, unless they are exempted. For
stations already in place, that evaluation must be completed by May 3,

  1. After May 3 of this year, any new station, or any existing station
    modified in a way that’s likely to change its RFE profile — such as
    different antenna or placement or greater power — will need to conduct
    an evaluation by the date of activation or change.

“In the RF Report and Order, the Commission anticipated that few
parties would have to conduct reevaluations under the new rules and that
such evaluations will be relatively straightforward,” the FCC said in
an April 2 Public Notice. “It nevertheless adopted a 2-year period for
parties to verify and ensure compliance under the new rules.”

The Amateur Service is no longer categorically excluded from certain
aspects of the rules, as amended, and licensees can no longer avoid
performing an exposure assessment simply because they are transmitting
below a given power level.

“For most amateurs, the major difference is the removal of the
categorical exclusion for amateur radio, which means that ham station
owners must determine if they either qualify for an exemption or must
perform a routine environmental evaluation,” said Greg Lapin, N9GL,
chair of the ARRL RF Safety Committee and a member of the FCC
Technological Advisory Council (TAC).

“Ham stations previously excluded from performing environmental
evaluations will have until May 3, 2023, to perform these. After May 3,
2021, any new stations or those modified in a way that affects RF
exposure must comply before being put into service,” Lapin said.

The December 2019 RF Report and Order changes the methods that many
radio services use to determine and achieve compliance with FCC limits
on human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields. The FCC also modified
the process for determining whether a particular device or deployment is
exempt from a more thorough analysis by replacing a service-specific
list of transmitters, facilities, and operations for which evaluation is
required with new streamlined formula-based criteria. The R&O also
addressed how to perform evaluations where the exemption does not apply,
and how to mitigate exposure.

Amateur radio licensees will have to determine whether any existing
facilities previously excluded under the old rules now qualify for an
exemption under the new rules. Most will, but some may not.”

So, what does this all mean for the average amateur? I, for one, have
never done any sort of exposure analysis on my own station, and I am
sure there are lots of you out that there that haven’t done one
either. My shack itself is contained within a sheet metal “faraday
cage”, so have never given it much thought.

There is a website, (though somewhat outdated now):, where one can put in some known
variables, and it does the necessary calculations for you. The problem
I see is determining all the variables: coaxial and connector losses for
each antenna and it’s run, antenna radiation patterns, antenna
take-off angles, and so on. The mode of operation is also a variable, as
each mode (SSB, CW, RTTY, SSB, AM), use different duty cycles, and that
all has to be accounted for in the calculations.

The ARRL has a book available for free download, “RF Exposure and
You”, (some 300+ pages), which while dating from 2003, is still very
useful in assessing RF exposure risks, and ensuring FCC compliance. I
would expect to see the ARRL come up with some better tools to address
this new mandatory requirement later on this year. Here is a direct link
to the book:


Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the collection of
application fees for the amateur radio service and certain other
services will NOT begin on April 19, 2021. Although April 19, 2021 is
the date the rules in the FCC Report and Order adopted last December
generally take effect – i.e., one month after the R&O was published in
the March 19, 2021 Federal Register –certain parts of those rules,
including collection of the application fees for the amateur radio
service, will NOT begin on that date. The effective date for new amateur
radio fees has not yet been established. The FCC explicitly states in
the published Notice that the fees will not take effect until:

  • The requisite notice has been provided to Congress; AND
  • The FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures
    have been updated; AND
  • The Commission publishes [FUTURE] notice(s) in the Federal Register
    announcing the effective date of such rules.

The League’s counsel for FCC matters estimates that the effective
start date for collecting the fees will be sometime this summer, but
regardless of the exact timing we will have advance notice. Stay tuned
for further developments on this.

Keep in mind that one can only renew their amateur license within 90
days in advance of the expiration date. If you, or a club station
license you are trustee for, are within that 90 day window now, I’d
renew as soon as possible to avoid the new fee.

If you are thinking of switching to a vanity callsign, I’d also
seriously suggest you apply for that special callsign sooner, rather
than later. (Of course, if you are an Extra class seeking a new shorter
1X2 or 2X1 callsign, future competition for those calls in the future
MIGHT be a bit less due to the new fees. We’ll see…).

Please note that the new fee is applicable to “applications” only,
not “administrative” changes such as an e-mail address or physical
address change on the ULS website.

Also, keep in mind that the $35 fee will apply for EACH vanity callsign
application,(single or multiple callsigns per application), just as it
did before the $20 fee was eliminated a few years ago. Whether or not
vanity applications that are not granted will be refunded upon request
as in years past is still an unknown.


Next, some 6 weeks after going silent following a spacewalk that
installed new antenna cabling, the Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station (ARISS) ham station in the Columbus module is once again
operational. The Columbus station, which typically uses the call sign
NA1SS, is the primary ARISS amateur radio station used for school
contacts and other activities. A January 27 spacewalk replaced a coax
feed line installed 11 years ago with another built by the European
Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus.

lk that restored the antenna cabling to its original configuration
provided the cure. The plan to return the ARISS cabling to its original
configuration had been a “contingency task” for a March 5 spacewalk,
but the astronauts ran out of time. The ARISS work was appended to the
to-do list for astronauts Mike Hopkins, KF5LJG, and Victor Glover,
KI5BKC, to complete a week later.

During the weekend spacewalk, Hopkins swapped out a cable for the
Bartolomeo commercial payload-handling platform that had been installed
in series with the ARISS VHF-UHF antenna feed line, returning the ARISS
system to its pre-January 27 configuration. Hopkins raised a question
concerning a sharp bend in the cable near a connector, but no further
adjustments were possible.

On March 14, ARISS was able to confirm the operation’s success when
Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) signals on 145.825 MHz were
heard in California, Utah, and Idaho as the ISS passed overhead. ARISS
team member Christy Hunter, KB6LTY, was able to digipeat through NA1SS
during the pass. With additional confirmation from stations in South
America and the Middle East, ARISS declared the radio system operational

This is all great news, as several ARISS school events the last few
months have had to be canceled due to the issue. The program can now get
back on track!


As you may or may not know, I also serve on the ARRL Foundation Board of
Directors, which is the League’s separate 501(c3) corporate entity,
and its scholarship and grant arm. This year the Foundation has been
very fortunate to work with the Amateur Radio Digital Communications
group (ARDC), to set up some number of large dollar scholarships,
($5,000 to $25,000 each, some $400,000 in total), to be awarded to
deserving college students for the 2021-2022 academic year. (These are
in addition to the other 90 or so smaller scholarships we will be
vetting for!) Due to the large dollar value of these awards it was
decided to have a pair or trio of Directors on the Foundation board
interview, (via phone or Zoom), each candidate who qualified for the
scholarships. While that has been a daunting task, it has also renewed
my faith in the future of our hobby.

The quality of students I have interviewed has been nothing short of
outstanding. The common threads among the twelve students I’ve
interviewed are a combination of very high academic achievement, a focus
and maturity level beyond their ages, a solid plan for the future, and a
passion for amateur radio. By the way, exactly half were young women,
and many of the students are officers in their local amateur radio
clubs. The best single word I can use to describe these students is


The one chance most of us have to be “DX” for the rest of the world
to work is rapidly approaching! The 7th AREA QSO Party, sponsored by the
Central Oregon DX Club, has grown over the years to be one of the
largest QSO parties in the country. There is something in this HF
contest for everyone; whether you are a digital operator, SSB, or only
partake in dits and dahs, there are categories for all. If you are
working on your ARRL Worked All States award, here is a chance to get
many of them in one day!

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, “Distributed multi-ops” are permitted
again in 2021. Equipment used by multi-op operators does not need to be
on the same premises. It is only necessary that all radio equipment
and antennas be located in the same county (state/province or DXCC
entity for out-of-area multi-ops). All stations must use the same
callsign, and only one station may be on any band/mode at any given

For the latest information on 7th call area county stations that have
verified they will be on the air for the event, or for more information,
check out the 7QP website;


Finally, World Amateur Radio Day, held on April 18 each year from 0000Z
to 2359Z, is celebrated worldwide by radio amateurs and their national
associations which are organized as member-societies of the
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). It was on this day in 1925
that the IARU was formed in Paris. American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim was its first president.

World Amateur Radio Day is not a contest but rather an opportunity to
“talk” about the value of amateur radio to the public and our fellow
amateur colleagues. It is also a great opportunity to talk about your
radio club and amateur radio in local media as a lead-up to ARRL Field
Day (held each year during the fourth full weekend in June) and another
ham radio related activity in your community – such as volunteers who
serve in local emergency communication readiness including the ARRL
Amateur Radio Emergency Service®.

From the ARRL website, here are just a few ways to participate in, and
promote, World Amateur Radio Day:
“Get a station on the air! Create your own personal “event” to
talk about amateur radio to others, including family and friends.

Create and hold a special net or on-air event on World Amateur Radio Day
to raise the level of attention for the celebration, and to encourage
other hams to talk about our hobby. Consider creating and offering a
commemorative certificate for contacting your special activation. It can
be an electronic one as these are cost effective.

ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB is Sunday, April 18, 2021 from 1800 to 2359 UTC.
The contest is aimed at hams licensed for three years or less. Use the
opportunity to wish participants “Happy World Amateur Radio Day 2021” on
the air.

Get the word out! If you are an ARRL Public Information Coordinator,
Public Information Officer, or responsible for radio club publicity,
send a press release and conduct some public relations outreach to
highlight the day and/or events. Use the IARU theme for 2021 to create a
relevant, powerful, and contemporary message. Talk about all of the
activities radio amateurs have continued to support during the pandemic,
and how amateur radio serves our communities.

Find recent examples of amateur radio in-the-news at:

Promote your personal World Amateur Radio Day activity(ies) on social
media platforms like Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag

WorldAmateurRadioDay. Make sure you send it to various clubs,

reflectors, and media.

Join us in celebrating World Amateur Radio Day and all the ways amateur
radio brings us together!” For more information, check out:

73, and stay safe!

Mike Ritz, W7VO
ARRL Northwestern Division Director

Now we will see what Vice Director Mark Tharp, KB7HDX is up to!

Diary of the Vice Director, Volume 3, April 2021

Welcome to Spring fellow radio amateurs!

The “yet to be named” Em-comm committee met a number of times via
Zoom and shared many emails working on short term, and long-term
solutions for replacement products to ARES “form-4” and Ares
Connect. We plan on having a survey out to ARES leaders requesting
information direct from the field about the reporting requirements they
have at the local level and incorporate those into our national
reporting system.

The goal is to have one place to plug in your data and it will generate
the required reports for your local served agencies as well as HQ being
able to poll the database direct for the required information.

The Board, in January, formed an investment management committee and
although I am not an official member, I have been attending the weekly
meetings as an observer. As members of the Board, we are bound as
fiduciaries and as such I feel it is important to stay informed as to
how we (the Board) are investing, and managing our funds.

Mike and I also spent pretty much all day on April 5th attending the EC
(Executive committee) meeting as observers via Zoom. One upside to Covid
is we have all become rather good at using and comfortable with the Zoom
platform. This would normally have been an in person meeting down in the
bunker at 221 Main Street. Although we only participate as observers,
it’s still good to have the opportunity to listen in.

We continue to have many groups meeting on the web, and I received
another reminder of the “lost year of 20” with the renewal notice
for my Zoom account. It will be renewed so those of you still holding
meetings set up by me should not see any interruptions in service.

If your club is back to holding in-person meetings, you may want to
consider a hybrid meeting for those not quite ready to meet mask to
mask. Zoom is a great tool to have guest speakers without having long
travel times, and possibly an overnight stay. As always just let Mike or
I know if that service is needed, and we will do our best to accommodate

ARISS is back in full swing after the snafoo with the RF cable. That
cable is still onboard the ISS so until that piece of hardware is
returned to earth, we will not know the true problem with it.

On March 22nd the students at Oakwood School in Morgan Hill, CA had a
good contact with Astronaut Shannon Walker. A livestream video of that
is here: Our own
Northwestern Division member John Kludt, K7SYS from Sandpoint ID was the
moderator. Skip ahead to the 24-minute mark for the start of the

Events I am planning to attend IN PERSON!! 😊

The “INDOOR HAM RADIO SWAP” Saturday April 24th in Kamiah, Idaho

The “2021 Tri-cities Hamfest” Saturday May 1st in Kennewick,

Other events are starting to pop up on the radar.

For the most current list of Hamfest, Convention, and other gatherings,
take a look at the website maintained by Lynn Burlingame, N7CFO at

A link to this page is also on the Division website at:

Mike and I are always looking for information to share with the
Division. If you have a news item you would like to offer please send
Mike or I a note and we are glad to include it here.

Division statistics:

342 new licenses issued and 43 upgraded licenses.
12,838 ARRL members in Division (+ 2.6% from 2020)
148 Active ARRL affiliated clubs.
Overall league membership 159,659, up 1.9% from 2020

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


Mark J. Tharp, KB7HDX
ARRL Vice Director
Northwestern Division.

ARRL Northwestern Division
Director: Michael T Ritz, W7VO

Leave a Reply