Western Massachusetts ARRL

A local section of the American Radio Relay League, the National Association for Amateur Radio™

Section Manager Report December 2019

Hello all! The silly season has descended upon us once again! I trust each of you will have a very joyous Holiday Season with family and friends. Be safe as well.

With the weather approaching tomorrow take extra care to be prepared in case something was to happen. Even an HT with your local repeater or the 146.520 frequency can always help. With the weather, remember Dec 7 th is the annual Skywarn Recognition Day. This will be the 20 th year of doing this. They will be on HF and various other modes. More information can be found on the NWS SKYWARN Recognition Day website or on our own website post about it.

Two weeks ago, we found out about the distracted driving bill was revised and put on the Governor’s desk later for signature which created a flurry of concern to the Radio community. Tom Walsh, K1TW our Eastern Section Mgr. who has a section Government Liaison, alerted me of the nature of the changes and together we put out an announcement to tell our political leaders our concern for the wording and we received assurances that we are exempt from the law. The response was huge and we received assurances from them that this indeed was the case. Thanks to all who assisted in this effort. This also underscores the need to have our own Government Liaison. I have mentioned this a number of times and still have not been able to fill this. Please consider this or other open positions available in our section.

January 1 yours truly will begin his second term as section manager. I hope you feel the same as I do in that we made some significant improvement to our section and that I have been living up to the promises I made when I started. Has it been easy? Oh, heck no! Kind of tough talking to crickets sometimes. There were times of frustration and a handful of people stepped up and now working together we now have forward momentum. My plan is to build on this and continue doing what I’m doing. I am always open to your suggestions. If I was to ask anything of you is to promote the website, the section, ARES, and also to volunteer. It’s not about me, it’s about Ham Radio! Keep that in your radar!

Happy Holidays and very 73!
Ray, KB1LRL

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2019

Hello to all..

**We hope all SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators have a very Happy Thanksgiving. On behalf of the NWS Boston/Norton forecasters and the entire WX1BOX Amateur Radio Team, we are fortunate to have such a strong and vibrant program with the support of all of you in the field and we appreciate another tremendous of year of service in weather spotting for the community. Thanks for all you do for us and the community!**
**Below is the annual Special Announcement on SKYWARN Recognition Day 2019.**

The following is a special announcement on SKYWARN Recognition Day 2019. This announcement will be updated either Thursday Evening 12/5/19 or Friday Morning 12/6/19. This announcement also appears on the WX1BOX home page via the following link:

http://wx1box.org/2019/11/27/special-announcement-skywarn-recognition-day-srd-2019/

Announcement text is listed below:

The National Weather Service in Boston/Norton Amateur Radio Station, WX1BOX, will once again be active for SKYWARN Recognition Day 2019. In addition, for the thirteenth straight year, the National Weather Service Gray, Maine Office will also be active under call-sign, WX1GYX. The Boston Amateur Radio Club will also be active as they have been over the past several years at the Blue Hill Observatory under call-sign WX1BHO from 9 AM-3 PM Saturday December 7th, 2019.

This will be the 20th year of SKYWARN Recognition Day and its anticipated that 80-100 NWS Forecast Offices will be participating once again this year. A Web link to information on SKYWARN Recognition Day can be seen at the following link:

http://www.weather.gov/crh/skywarnrecognition

WX1BOX will be monitoring the *NEW-ENG3* conference node 9123/IRLP 9123 system throughout the SRD event from 7 PM-12 AM Friday Evening 12/6/19 and from 7 AM-7 PM Saturday 12/7/19. Our HF station will be active on the various HF bands during the same time period. What bands/modes we operate on will be dependent on propagation and operator availability. We will attempt to announce the different HF frequencies will be on via our Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as on the DX Spotter/cluster system dxsummit.fi for people that wish to contact us on HF.

WX1BOX will also be on DMR. Timeframes and location on DMR will be determined and updated in the next update.

The following is a schedule of repeaters that will be utilized along with simplex being utilized during certain timeframes on Friday Evening 7 PM-12 AM and Saturday 7 AM-7 PM at WX1BOX. We hope Amateurs will utilize this schedule and try and work WX1BOX during these various timeframes. If you don't hear NWS, feel free to call for WX1BOX and if the office is monitoring, a response will be given. When you make contact, give your current sky condition and temperature as required. Below is the tentative schedule of operations:

Friday December 6th, 2019:
7:00-7:30 PM: 146.970-Paxton Repeater (PL: 114.8 Hz)
7:30-8:00 PM: 147.180-Bridgewater Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
8:00-8:30 PM: 147.000-Dartmouth Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
8:30-9:00 PM: 146.955-Westford Repeater (PL: 74.4 Hz)
9:00-9:30 PM: 146.790-Vernon, CT Repeater (PL: 82.5 Hz) (linked via IRLP.)
9:30-10:00 PM: 147.225-Killingly, CT Repeater (PL: 156.7 Hz) (likely linked via Echolink)
10:00-10:30 PM: 146.760-Scituate, RI Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
10:30-11:00 PM: 145.470-Danvers, MA Repeater (PL: 136.5 Hz)
11:00-11:30 PM: 146.955-Barnstable, MA Repeater PL: 88.5 or 147.375-Falmouth Repeater PL: 110.9
11:30 PM-12:00 AM: 146.640-Waltham Repeater (PL: 136.5 Hz)

**Will Attempt to monitor both the New England Network and the *WX-TALK*/IRLP Reflector 9219 systems during this entire timeframe.
**It is possible we may switch off to different repeaters or simplex during time slots if we run out of contacts.

Saturday December 7th, 2019:
7:00-8:30 AM: 146.595 Simplex
8:30-9:00 AM: Litchfield County Linked System via KB1AEV repeater system
9:00-9:30 AM: 145.230-Boston Repeater (PL: 88.5 Hz)
9:30-10:00 AM: 146.640-Waltham Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
10:00-11:00 AM: NWS Boston/Norton will participate in the Eastern Massachusetts Hospital Net
11:00-11:30 AM: 146.895-Walpole Repeater (PL: 123.0 Hz)
11:30-12:00 PM: 147.225-Killingly, CT Repeater (PL: 156.7 Hz)
12:00-12:30 PM: 145.470-Danvers Repeater (PL: 136.5 Hz)
12:30-100 PM: 146.790-Vernon, CT Repeater (Linked via IRLP.)
1:00-1:30 PM: 146.595 Simplex
1:30-2:00 PM: 145.37-Gardner/145.45-Fitchburg/147.39 Repeaters via IRLP 9122
2:00-2:30 PM: 146.685-Plymouth Repeater (PL: 82.5 Hz)
2:30-3:00 PM: 145.170-Cumberland, RI Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz) Part of the KA1RCI Network
3:00-3:30 PM: 146.955-Barnstable (PL: 88.5 Hz) or 147.375-Falmouth Repeater (PL: 110.9 Hz)
3:30-4:00 PM: 146.955-Westford Repeater (PL: 74.4 Hz)
4:00-4:30 PM: 146.970-Paxton Repeater (PL: 114.8 Hz)
4:30-5:00 PM: 145.170-Cumberland, RI Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz) Part of the KA1RCI Network
5:00-5:30 PM: 146.760-Scituate, RI Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
5:30-6:00 PM: 147.000-Dartmouth Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
6:00-6:30 PM: 147.180-Bridgewater Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)
6:30-7:00 PM: 147.225-Whitman Repeater (PL: 67.0 Hz)

**Will Attempt to monitor both the New England Network and the *WX-TALK*/IRLP Reflector 9219 systems during this entire timeframe.
**It is possible we may switch off to different repeaters or simplex during time slots if we run out of contacts.

For this year, we will not actively rove 6m repeaters. We may check-in periodically on the 53.31-Mount Wachusett Repeater and the 53.17 Portsmouth, RI KA1RCI Repeater systems.

The following is information on EchoLink/IRLP operations during SKYWARN Recognition Day on the *WX_TALK* Echolink Conference node: 7203/IRLP 9219 system. Further updates to follow as we get closer to the event. See the list of NWS offices below:

Time in UTC NWS Office Call-Sign
0000-0100: N0NWS
0100-0200: WX1GYX (Confirmed time slot from last year)
0200-0300: WX7SLC (New NWS Office)
0300-0400: WX1BOX
0400-0500: WX9GRB
0500-0600: WX9LOT
0600-0700: WX4HUN (Confirmed time slot from last year)
0700-0800: WX8APX (Confirmed time slot from last year)
0800-0900: WX8APX (Confirmed time slot from last year)
0900-1000: WX7SLC (New NWS office)
1000-1100: WX4HUN (New Time slot for this year for this office)
1100-1200: WX7SLC (New NWS office)
1200-1300: W7NWS 
1300-1400: Open (Relinquished by WX2PHI)
1400-1500: WX1AW
1500-1600: WX1BOX
1600-1700: WX4NC  (Confirmed time slot from last year) 
1700-1800: Open (Relinquished by WX2PHI)
1800-1900: WX6LOX (Confirmed time slot from last year)
1900-2000: K0MPX 
2000-2100: Open (Relinquished by WX4MLB for 2019 due to no participation in SRD due to NWS office/radar major upgrade work)
2100-2300: WX4NHC (Confirmed time slot from last year)
2300-2400: WX6NWS

There will be other conference systems utilized for SKYWARN Recognition Day. They are as follows:

The New England Reflector Gateway System will be utilized by the NWS Boston/Norton, Mass. and NWS Gray, Maine offices from 0000-0500 UTC and 1200-2400 UTC. The New England Gateway system is on EchoLink Conference server *NEW-ENG3* Node: 9123, IRLP reflector 9123. If other NWS offices would like to join the system, they are welcome to do so and participants in SKYWARN Recognition Day can also use that system to make contact with various NWS offices. This is a great place to move off the *WX_TALK* Node: 7203/IRLP 9219 system after your scheduled time if other Amateurs or NWS offices whish to make contact with you.

Also, the Western Reflector will be having NWS offices calling CQ as in past years and have multiple reflector channels and Echolink conferences available. There is reflector 9250/Echolink Conference *HI-GATE* node: 357564, IRLP 9251 and the *WORLD* Echolink Conference node: 479886, IRLP 9257/*DCF-ARC* Echolink Conference node: 336037 and IRLP 9258/EchoLink Conference *NV-GATE* Node: 152566 open for NWS offices. Please contact Kent-W7AOR for additional information on the Western Reflector.

A few technical reminders for folks interested in making contacts with the NWS Forecast Offices on the *WX-TALK* Node: 7203/IRLP 9219 and New England Reflector Gateway IRLP 9123/*NEW-ENG3* Echolink Node: 9123 systems:

-The system allows both EchoLink and IRLP connections. For EchoLink users, you connect to the *WX-TALK* Node: 7203 conference system. For IRLP users, you would connect to IRLP reflector 9219.

-If you are using EchoLink, the RF node or PC that you’re using must have EchoLink conferencing disabled. If it is not disabled, the system will automatically kick the node or PC off of the system. The reason this occurs is to prevent unintentional interference from a conferencing station that may not know the node is connected somewhere else. This will keep traffic moving on the net and reduce interference considerably.

For more information on VoIP Technical Configuration Tips, please go to our web site at http://www.voipwx.net where we have a link to that information on the main menu of the web site. This announcement will also be on the web site.

We are looking forward to another fun SKYWARN Recognition Day on the *WX-TALK* Node: 7203/IRLP reflector 9219 system, New England Reflector Gateway system and Western Reflector system. Thanks to all for their support!

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 508-346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: rmacedo@rcn.com
http://ares.ema.arrl.org
http://www.wx1box.org
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Impact on Amateur Radio From Distracted Driving Bill

MA State House
The outpouring of concern statewide from the Amateur Radio Community regarding the impact of the Distracted Driving Law has gotten the attention of our Legislators on Beacon Hill in Boston. Ray, KB1LRL, and Tom, K1TW, wish to thank all the ARRL members in both Western and Eastern Massachusetts who communicated our concerns so effectively as a community to the Senators and Representatives and staff across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This afternoon Tom Walsh, K1TW, Eastern Massachusetts Section Manager was contacted by the General Counsel of the Joint Committee on Transportation. After discussing these concerns, Ray and Tom were asked to convey the following guidance to our members in both Eastern and Western Massachusetts sections. This guidance is intended to assure everyone that the new law “permits use of a “federally licensed 2–way radio” provided that “1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times.”. Clearly this is good news.

We are pleased to receive this opinion in writing which states “that a person may operate a motor vehicle while using a federally licensed 2–way radio or mobile telephone, except as provided in sections 8M, 12A and 13B, as long as 1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times”.

This statement above appears in the first sentence of Section 13, of the Massachusetts General Laws as referenced in the final bill.

Below is the full text as received today from the General Counsel of the Joint Committee on Transportation. It is the best clarification we have in writing at this point that the law will not apply to a 2-way mobile radio operation.

Ray Lajoie, KB1LRL
ARRL Section Manager Western Massachusetts


Tom Walsh, K1TW
ARRL Section Manager Eastern Massachusetts


COMMUNICATION RECEIVED FROM:

General Counsel of the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Thank you very much for the chance to speak earlier concerning H4203, the distracted driving legislation that is now before the Governor. It is the Committee’s view that the legislation does not alter, amend or limit existing language in section 13 of chapter 90 of the General Laws that expressly permits use of a “federally licensed 2–way radio” provided that “1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times.” I have reproduced GL 90:13 below and highlighted the relevant provision.

Section 13: Safety precautions for proper operation and parking of vehicles and buses

Section 13. No person, when operating a motor vehicle, shall permit to be on or in the vehicle or on or about his person anything which may interfere with or impede the proper operation of the vehicle or any equipment by which the vehicle is operator or controlled, except that a person may operate a motor vehicle while using a federally licensed 2–way radio or mobile telephone, except as provided in sections 8M, 12A and 13B, as long as 1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times. No person having control or charge of a motor vehicle, except a person having control or charge of a police, fire or other emergency vehicle in the course of responding to an emergency or a person having control or charge of a motor vehicle while engaged in the delivery or acceptance of goods, wares or merchandise for which the vehicle's engine power is necessary for the loading or unloading of such goods, wares or merchandise, shall allow such vehicle to stand in any way and remain unattended without stopping the engine of said vehicle, effectively setting the brakes thereof or making it fast, and locking and removing the key from the locking device and from the vehicle. Whenever a bus having a seating capacity of more than seven passengers, a truck weighing, unloaded, more than four thousand pounds, or a tractor, trailer, semi-trailer or combination thereof, shall be parked on a way, on a grade sufficient to cause such vehicle to move of its own momentum, and is left unattended by the operator, one pair of adequate wheel safety chock blocks shall be securely placed against the rear wheels of such vehicle so as to prevent movement thereof. The provisions of the preceding sentence shall not apply to a vehicle equipped with positive spring-loaded air parking brakes. No person shall drive any motor vehicle equipped with any television viewer, screen or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast which is located in the motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver's seat, or which is visible to the driver while operating such motor vehicle. Whoever operates a motorcycle on the ways of the commonwealth shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto, and he shall not carry any other person, nor allow any other person to ride, on such motorcycle unless it is designed to carry more than one person, in which case a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if such seat is designed for two persons, or upon another seat which is intended for a passenger and is firmly attached to the motorcycle to the rear of the operator if proper foot rests are provided for the passenger's use, or upon a seat which is intended for a passenger and is firmly attached to the motorcycle in a side car. No person shall operate a motor vehicle, commonly known as a pick-up truck, nor shall the owner permit it to be operated, for a distance more than five-miles, in excess of five-miles per hour, with persons under twelve years of age in the body of such truck, unless such truck is part of an official parade, or has affixed to it a legal ''Owner Repair'' or ''Farm'' license plate or a pick-up truck engaged in farming activities. No person, except firefighters or garbage collectors, or operators of fire trucks or garbage trucks, or employees of public utility companies, acting pursuant to and during the course of their duties, or such other persons exempted by regulation from the application of this section or by limited application by special permit granted by the selectmen in a town or of the city council in a city, shall hang onto the outside of, or the rear-end of any vehicle, and no person on a pedacycle, motorcycle, roller skates, sled, or any similar device, shall hold fast or attach the device to any moving vehicle, and no operator of a motor vehicle shall knowingly permit any person to hang onto or ride on the outside or rear-end of the vehicle or streetcar, or allow any person on a pedacycle, motorcycle, roller skates, sled, or any similar device, to hold fast or attach the device to the motor vehicle operated on any highway. No person or persons, except firefighters acting pursuant to their official duties, or a person exempted by regulation from the application of this section or by application by special permit granted by the board of selectmen in a town or by the city council in a city, shall occupy a trailer or semi-trailer while such trailer or semi-trailer is being towed, pushed or drawn or is otherwise in motion upon any way. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while wearing headphones, unless said headphones are used for communication in connection with controlling the course or movement of said vehicle.

General Counsel
Joint Committee on Transportation
State House Room 134 Boston, MA 02133

Hands-free Legislation, November 19, 2019, Additional Update

Based on information we have recently received, it may be time to contact your State Representatives concerning the MA Distracted Driving Bill. Over the weekend, Ray, KB1LRL and Tom, K1TW posted on both the WMA and EMA websites.

Concerns are being raised across the section’s asking what the impact this bill has on amateur radio in the state. Since the hands-free bills were first filed, Eastern Massachusetts ARRL State Government Liaison, Hank W4RIG, has been closely coordinating with Senator Bruce Tarr, who is the Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader and a radio amateur. Previously the Senator’s office reported to Hank that Amateur Radio operation would not be impacted by earlier versions of the bill.

With the hands-free bill finally clearing committee on the weekend and ready for a vote, I asked Hank to contact the Senators office once again. Hank reports he has been in touch with the staff at Senator Tarr’s office and with these most recent changes they can no longer confirm there will be no impact on amateur radio mobile operation.

Our understanding is the problem results from the substitution in the final text from committee of “mobile electronic device” in place of “mobile telephone”. In the original wording, the definition of a mobile telephone in Massachusetts General Law specifically excludes amateur radios and citizen band radios. The definition in Massachusetts General Law of “mobile electronic device” does not contain any exclusion for amateur radios and citizen band radios.

Senator Tarr’s office said they are trying to correct this.

This may be an appropriate time to contact your Massachusetts Representative and Senator politely asking them to incorporate the same words to exclude amateur radio from the revised bill as was previously contained in the definition of mobile telephone.

73,
Ray Lajoie, KB1LRL SM WMA
Tom Walsh K1TW SM EMA

MARS Thanks Amateur Radio Operators for their support of MARS Exercise 19-4

Tom Kinahan N1CPE of Army MARS writes:

Thank you to all of the Amateur radio operators who supported and participated in Exercise 19-4. Below is a message from ARMY MARS headquarters that I have been asked to relay:

P 181700Z NOV 2019
FM NETC G3-5 CUOPS HQ ARMY MARS FHU AZ
TO UHXWWW/ALL MARS STATIONS
BT
UNCLAS
EXER/COMEX 19-4//
MSGID/GENADMIN/NETC G3-5 CUOPS HQ ARMY MARS FHU AZ/416//
SUBJ/OPERATIONS UPDATE - ENDEX//
POC/DAVID MCGINNIS/CTR/NETC G3-5 CUOPS HF-MARS/FT HUACHUCA, AZ/-//

GENTEXT/REMARKS/Effective 18 NOV 2359Z, COMEX 19-4 is concluded. Complete all pending actions, recall all personnel and recover/rehab equipment. MARS members, please remind each other to complete the After Action Survey at www.dodmars.org and pass this message along to your partners in the Amateur Radio Service (ARS) along with our thanks for their support.

The -19 Series of exercises intentionally provided opportunities for MARS leaders and members to adapt to new situations with increasing complexity and unknown variables. You were presented with a variety of new tasks, information products, and coordination requirements. Anticipating conditions in a real incident, you were not read-in-to new requirements prior to the exercise. With no time to train up we required you to adapt existing Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. We continue to see more resilience when you are faced with uncertainty. Expect more challenges from us in 2020.

Looking into 2020, we ask all MARS members and ARS operators to continue working on long term emergency power capabilities, long distance HF radio capabilities, and building one-on-one relationships in your community. Continue to shift normal operations from day-time to night time hours. Amatuers and MARS members operating in the ARS are encouraged to continue practicing using the MIL-188-110 Serial PSK mode on the 60 Meters channels where it is permitted. This mode is important because it provides a means of digital interoperability with government stations that are not able to use ARS digital modes.

Thank you for all your good work in COMEX 19-4, and enjoy a well deserved rest over the holiday season.//

BT
#0417

MA Lawmakers Announce Surprise Agreement on Distracted Driving Legislation

WCVB.com:

Boston — After several years and failed attempts, Massachusetts lawmakers have taken a major step toward enacting a law to restrict the use of handheld electronic devices by drivers.

State Rep. Bill Straus and state Sen. Joe Boncore issued a statement late Friday (November 15, 2019) announcing the six-member conference committee had reached an agreement on the bill, although they did not reveal the text of the final compromise.

[…]

In July, the committee appeared to have reached an impasse after Senate negotiators refused to sign off on details that House lawmakers thought had been resolved. Earlier that day, Straus and Boncore had announced an “agreement in principle,” but it vanished within hours as the two sides debated wording of the bill. 

[Full story]

Thanks for the EMA ARRL website for the first post of this news.

MARS Exercise Continued Instructions for November 16

Tom Kinahan N1CPE of Army MARS has issued new instructions for the on-going MARS exercise.  On November 16, 2019 at 10:00 PM EST or (17 NOV 2019) 0300Z will be the 60 Meter broadcast on channel 1 (5330.5 kHz) in voice and digital M110A from Department of Defense stations.

If you have this capability, check it out, and follow the directions contained in the message (probably to report reception).

This is part of a method for Department of Defense to communicate directly with Amateur Radio stations for broadcast and 2-way information exchange.

Latest MARS Exercise Instructions

MARS
At this time, we are being asked to reach out to amateurs and capture the following information. There may be MARS operators gathering this sort of information using their amateur callsigns on amateur frequencies, or on 60 meters using their MARS callsigns looking for Amateurs station reports.
  • Status of 50KW AM broadcast stations: This is for all of the stations in this category in New England. Are they on the air? Need county and city of reporting station.
  • Ping Time to 8.8.8.8. Bring up a command prompt and ping that IP address. The result is an average ping time. Report that, ISP name, town.
  • Grid Status: Report power voltage, frequency, power company name, city and county
  • Dialtone: Provider name, Local, Long Distance, type (landline, VOIP) city and county
  • NOAA Weather broadcasts on about 162 MHz: Report which frequencies that you can hear reports on, City and county you are located in.
  • Infrastructure reports: Any known failures of infrastructure: Water, power communications, broadcast, hospital, sewage etc, City and County.

The exercise culminates next Saturday night with a 60 meter broadcast.

The exercise takes a hiatus on Monday November 11, in honor of Veterans Day, and resumes on Tuesday.