Western Massachusetts ARRL

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

HamXposition First Postponed, Now Going Virtual

Hello All,

Large indoor gatherings such as our convention are currently prohibited by Massachusetts state law. This is highly unlikely to change by November.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold a physical convention this year.

However, we do plan some virtual activities, all free.  We are currently working on the details for these and will keep you posted as they develop:

We plan to the operate the W1A special event station over the weekend of October 31st - November 1st. To avoid a conflict with the November Sweepstakes, we moved this to one week earlier. W1A will be operated from the operator's home stations.  Dennis, W1UE, is coordinating the schedule.  If you would like to be a W1A operator, please contact W1UE by email at w1ue@hamxposition.org.  For those who would like to work W1A, we will be posting the operating schedule once it is ready.  Note that this will give regular attendees the unique opportunity to work W1A (something which would have been more difficult for many to do operating portable from a hotel room).

We will also be hosting a Saturday evening virtual banquet on November 7th, featuring a guest speaker. There will be no charge for this event.  Order your favorite take-out or delivery, pull up a chair to your screen and join your friends for an interesting presentation.  After the talk, virtual break-out rooms will be available for you to converse with your "table".

The Nashua Area Radio Club will be running an online version of the "Ham Boot Camp". This is a multisession program for hams young and old to learn about the various activities they can do with their license.  Details to follow.

Eastern Mass ARES will be running online versions of their training sessions. Details to follow.

From the entire HamXposition committee, we wish you good health, be safe, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person at our 2021 convention on July 23-24-25, 2021.

73,
Bob - K1IW
Chairman, HamXposition 2020

Section Manager Report August 2020

Hello, I am taking the day and finding “cool” things to do in different variations. Mostly to avoid turning into a well-done turkey! Hi-hi. Just remember, winter will be back!

One thing I wish to do is to keep in touch despite the fact we are pretty much confined and no meetings going on. Clubs, send me meeting invites so I can say hi and listen to the local gossip. The other thing I wish to gather is when clubs or people have VE sessions to let me know. I do get inquiries about who and when a session is coming up. If there is nothing going on, we ought to look at getting some testing done. Now that some things have loosened up Covid-wise there may be some options now available, even outdoors. Alaska and Hawaii have been doing remote testing for some time and other sections have looked at and adopted their own sessions which are VE and socially compliant. I am certainly open to ideas and comments. Remote VE may be the wave of the future way beyond this pandemic.

ARES has been plugging along. There is planning and training still going on and things may have bogged down a little bit. Understandable the times have been challenging as well as the heat now and who knows what is next. It’s like we are waiting for another shoe to drop. I have been using my time to set up WinLink and VARA on my base and portables to help Bob K1YO and learn this myself and have been tinkering with things to be better prepared “just in case”. Training and practice is the key and if anything else, it is expanding your knowledge in Ham Radio. I would encourage you consider helping us out in ARES and take part in the trainings and other activities. Share your skills and hobby to others. Foxhunting is not ARES but can be valuable in certain situations. Hiking to the top of a hill, making a quickie antenna and making contacts at 5 watts, again, has value. We need to get enthusiastic and active to inspire others to get exited about all that radio has to offer. Don’t be the one that says “nah, not me. Someone else will do it” Those someone elses are fading into silence!

That’s enough jibber-jabber for now. Enjoy the summer the best you can. Get On The AIR!

Best 73,
Ray, KB1LRL

 

MARS Announces HF Skills Exercise

As part of a Nationwide HF Skills Exercise for MARS Members and Amateur Radio Operators the Chief of ARMY MARS and the Chief of Air force MARS have announced an exercise for July 20-24, 2020.

Amateur Radio Operators are encouraged to participate in Daily 60 Meter Nets on Channel 1 (5330.5 KHz USB Dial) at 1200 and 2000 local times (Noon and 8pm Eastern time).

Amateur Radio stations will be asked for real life Infrastructure failure issues, and possibly other information to be relayed to MARS stations on that channel. Reports of no issues are just as important as reports of any issues. Be prepared to provide information to help the MARS station determine your FIPS code. Your Zip code is the easiest way to communicate that.

Please join us, and have some fun!

See the ARRL Website story on this for more details:
http://www.arrl.org/news/mars-announces-hf-skills-exercise

Tom Kinahan N1CPE
ARMY MARS Region One Executive Officer-Software/Automation Officer

Fall NEAR-Fest Cancelled

Many radio amateurs and hobbyists in the Northeast already know that the Deerfield Fair Association voted reluctantly but overwhelmingly to cancel the 2020 Fair at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020.

Ben, KB1NZN, and I are members and were at the meeting.  We both voted for cancellation and totally agree with the decision of the Deerfield Fair Association membership who voted 105 to 5 in favor of cancelling the Fair.  There was not one good reason put forth during the discussion in favor of holding the Fair this year.

Especially in these unprecedented times our first responsibility must be to the health and well-being of our volunteer staff, exhibitors, attendees, fairgrounds staff and the local area residents who graciously welcome us twice a year to their community.  We cannot betray this trust.

Furthermore there is no possible way we can realistically maintain the six foot “social distancing” separation especially in the flea market, commercial buildings, forums and VE examination rooms.  This is required whenever possible by the NH Governor’s Special Covid-19 Task Force.

Consequently, as a result, we have no option except to cancel NEAR-Fest XXVIII.

However the good news is that NEAR-Fest XXIX is already scheduled for Friday April 30th and Saturday May 1st 2021 and NEAR-Fest XXX for October 12th and 13th 2021.

We will be selling advance tickets starting in the Fall.  For advance ticket buyers the cost of admission will remain at $10.00 per person.   However starting next Spring the price of admission at the gate will be $15.00. Inside parking and camping fees will remain the same.  I will post additional information about advance ticket sales in the Fall.

We know this isn’t going to be a popular decision but with the Fair cancelling I think we would create some ill-will in the area if we show up ten days later.  This may affect us later down the road.  I am sure many of the locals are relieved to know we are staying away this time.....

Also attendance would surely be very low and we would probably lose money.  Lat’s wait six more months and return in style when it is safe.

73,
Michael Crestohl, aka “MisterMike”, W1RC
Benevolent Dictator,
New England Amateur Radio Festival, Inc.

Section Manager Report July 2020

Webmaster note: The section manager's report this month has been delayed a few days as I was away on vacation.  Sorry for the delay!

Hello everyone! As I sat down with my coffee and read my emails, I got one that announced October’s Near-Fest has been cancelled. That’s one weekend I hope it pours out. I won’t feel so bad. I’m sure you will all agree this Covid-19 has put a big hurt on a lot of things and will for some time to follow. Hamvention is still on for November, at least for now.

I believe by now everyone has finished up with their Field Day activities. I was going to set up an ‘E’ station in the yard but mother nature decided to throw a couple of curve balls on that. I hope your operation went well. This can also inspire some different operating practices for if and when we get back together as a group again. Set up something unique and see how it works. There may be something that you find to be easier, more effective, inspiring, maybe inventive. If nothing else it would be a cool conversation piece!

As you have likely seen, we had a hiking rescue involving Ham Radio, both as victim and operations. This did end well as the victim will recover. His location was challenging as it was tough to find him and turned into a six-hour operation. The operators who assisted did a fine job in the efforts and those that contributed and compiled the reporting did an excellent job.

ARES has been getting re-established and has been coming together for some time. We are still in a need to get volunteers to fill certain posts and be an active part in the ongoing process. We are now gearing up for digital training on Winlink. There is a need for a few hams with digital savvy in each county to aid in getting this off the ground.  Anyone who wishes to participate can contact Bob, K1YO at k1yo@comcast.net.

Now that July 1 is here, it is now time for the 13 Colonies special event that runs through July 7. This is a fun radio activity and a certificate is involved. For further information go to http://www.13colonies.us/

That should do it for now. I will close with the message to encourage continued activity  with local clubs, regions, sections. Even if it’s just a Zoom meeting. Get involved, stay involved!

Most 73 to you all!
Ray, KB1LRL

HCRA Health and Welfare Net – Closed for Now

Over the past 2 weeks check-ins to the HCRA Health & Welfare net have tailed off considerably. After discussing this with Rich KC1AEO, we've decided the net has served its purpose as people get back to a more normal life. Therefore, we will close the net for now with the idea that we will begin again if or when a need arises.

We want to thank HCRA for the use of the W1NY club callsign we used on the net over the last 2 months and for the club's support. We also want to say thank-you to W1BR for his support and the use of the 146.715 repeater. Finally, we ask that everyone keep the residents, their families and the staff of the Holyoke Soldier's Home in mind as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Respectfully,
Richard Laviolette, KC1AEO
Marcel Lapierre, AA1WH

Ham Radio Saving A Life Locally!

On Tuesday, June 15, Alden Sumner Jones IV, KC1JWR, was hiking on the southern part of the Appalachian trail in Vermont (it’s also been reported as being on the Long Trail) with his cousins at around 12:30 PM. Alden started feeling light headed, his pulse was racing and the next thing he remembers is waking up with an EMT named Dave, from AMR out of Springfield, MA, who was hiking and saw Alden go down. Alden had suffered seizures. It was later determined that this was caused by low blood sugar. Dave attempted to call 911 on his cell phone. He could connect, but the 911 operator couldn’t understand him. At this point, Alden pulled out his HT ham radio, a BaoFeng.

He made contact through the K1FFK repeater. This repeater is located on Mt. Greylock on 146.91. The repeater is owned and maintained by the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club. The initial call went out just before the Cycle 1 of the Western Massachusetts Traffic Net. Ron Wonderlick, AG1W, took the call. Alden initially asked if the 911 call went through. Ron began an eight hour process of acting as a relay between Alden, the emergency crews and various others.

The Traffic Net was truncated and the frequency was cleared by Peter Mattice, KD2JKV, who also stood by as a backup for Ron. KC1JPU, Matthew Sacco, was also monitoring and after a short consultation with Ron & Peter, proceeded to head to the staging area where the Fire and EMS crews were going to come from.

In Matthew’s own words, this what happened when he arrived at the staging area:

As I arrived at the staging point set up by the Fire Department, I met up with Fire Chief Scott Moore (95-C1) of the Wilmington Fire Department who was Incident Command. I told him how I heard about the incident and offered my services. I then got to work attempting to make contact with Ron over the 91. We were in a bit of a shadow as far as coverage went from the 91 and my first attempt to make contact with my HT was to no avail. I then went to my truck to try my mobile radio which also failed to open up the repeater. Running out of options, I went into my radio bag and was able to construct a roll up J-Pole out of some 450 ohm ladder line, a short length of coax, and male UHF connector. In that bag I keep some basic soldering equipment and a power inverter for the truck. Once it was constructed and tested, I grabbed my fishing pole from the back seat, put a weight on the end, and cast the weight into the highest branch I could find. I tied the J-Pole to the end of the line and reeled it up about 20' into the tree with the help of a barrel connector and about another 24' of coax. I tried that antenna plugged into the back of my mobile radio and we were up and running! I was then in contact with Net Control!

Now the struggle was to find the hiker. Alden’s (KC1JWR) status was communicated between the EMT on site through the ham radio and impromptu net set up through Ron (AG1W) and Matthew (KC1JPU). The information passed through the net was used to determine what type of rescue equipment would be necessary. Finding the location based on landmarks was proving too difficult. One of the people on site had a cell phone with a GPS unit and they were able to get a location in Google Maps Plus Code. That was converted into latitude and longitude. At this point, it was 4:30 in the afternoon.

On site were members of the Wilmington, VT Fire Department, Wardsboro, VT Fire Department, Deerfield Valley Ambulance, and Rescue Inc., all served through the ham radio net being operated on the K1FFK repeater.

Once the rescuers were getting close to Alden’s location, it was determined that they were not going to be able to get an ATV to the location for an evacuation. So, the determination was made to contact New York State Search and Rescue for a helicopter. Again, this need was relayed through the ham net. Almost all the communication, all day, was through the ham net, or, relayed to the phone by Ron (AG1W) or Peter (KD2JKV).

Meanwhile, Alden is conscious and spending time talking to the EMT and the rescuers about ham radio and how to get their licenses.

An area is cleared by another hiker as a place for the helicopter to lower it’s basket. The GPS coordinates are relayed through the ham net to the helicopter crew. The rescuers took Alden through the woods to the clearing and the helicopter arrived at around 7PM. While the rescuers were talking the helicopter in on their radios, they were having trouble making contact through their rubber duck antennas. So, Alden, who had a better antenna for his HT, lent it to the rescuers for better communication. Alden was initially flown to Woodford Mountain for evaluation and treatment. He was then flown to the hospital in Albany NY. During the flight, Alden again talked to the pilots and the other rescuers about ham radio.

During the rescue, one fire fighter from Wilmington was injured. This forced part of the team to stay the night with him in a shelter along the trail. He was brought out safely and is doing well. Alden is suffering from a number of injuries from the seizures, but he is also recovering.

Neil Van Dyke (N1TNC), the Search & Rescue Coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety was the one who called in Search and Rescue. When asked about the event, Mr. Van Dyke said “Ham radio was a key part of the incident and played a major role in the rescue”. Alden said it even better, “Ham radio saved my life last night and I am very thankful for how everyone helped me.”

Well done to all involved in this event. Thank you for all you did for Alden Jones and for being great ham radio operators.

WMA ARES Looking for Volunteers for VHF Testing

The WMA ARES Section is in the process of conducting simplex communications testing on 6 and 2 meters within the section.

At this point, we are looking to test 6 meter communications between Hampden and Worcester counties and need a few volunteers with good 6 meter capabilities, particularly in the Southern Worcester County area. Time involved will be short .... approximately 15 minutes at your station's convenience.

Anyone wishing to participate can contact me directly on email at  k1yo@arrl.net.

Vy 73 and Thanks in advance,
Bob - K1YO
Section Emergency Coordinator

New Amateur Licensees - May 2020

Congratulations to the latest new hams of Western Massachusetts:

Leo A Koerner, KC1NBP
2128 Canaan Southfield Rd
Southfield, MA 01259-9767

Raoul Sevier, KC1MZS
4 Longfellow Way
Boylston, MA 01505-1444

Dewey Sasser, KC1NBG
1 Applewood Ln
Charlton, MA 01507-1649

Jennifer O Emhoff, KC1NAY
222 Burlingame Rd
Charlton, MA 01507-5202

Neil Powers, KC1NCH
383 Brigham St
Northborough, MA 01532-2321

Emily Huck, KC1NCD
383 Brigham St
Northborough, MA 01532-2321

Kyle Root, KC1NCN
33 Grow Ln
Princeton, MA 01541-2004

Michael F Pavone, KC1NCT
37 Campground Rd
West Boylston, MA 01583-1271

Dale A Winkler, KC1NCL
35 Tanglewood Dr
Milford, MA 01757-1060

Adrian M Winkler, KC1NAH
35 Tanglewood Dr
Milford, MA 01757-1060

Section Manager Report June 2020

Hello and welcome to June…I think? I think we can safely say this is one year we would just rather forget, but history will not allow that sadly. Years past we would be coming off a fun time in Dayton and thoughts turned to tents, good BBQ, radios, mosquitos, and GOOD fellowship with one another: that of course is Field Day. Sadly, that will not be the case this year. Most clubs have decided to fold their Field Day this year and maybe a couple will go on with guidelines. One thing I wanted to highlight is the Hampden County Radio Association lost their site due to the virus and a ham couple in Wilbraham stepped up and offered their 10-acre field for their event. How cool is that!

As you know I go out on Field Day and tour the sites. With the situation, I decided to stay home and I am going to bust out the solar panels and batteries and set up in my backyard. This is good as I will be practicing my own field deployment and may try out some antennas to see how they perform. I do plan on being on 3944 kHz Sunday morning at 0830 for the WMA Emergency Net and will take traffic to get you credit for that. I will also be on the Central MA 2M Traffic Net on the CMARA repeater at 9 pm on 146.97 to receive any there.

It was pleasing to see that the League has modified the rules regarding the Field Day rules regarding 1D stations and club scoring. I do know there was a lot of members asking the league for that to adapt to the virus situation this year. With that I do wish everyone will continue to participate and even try out something different, antennas, QRP, satellite, etc.

On the ARES front, Section Emergency Coordinator Bob Meneguzzo K1YO has been busy with establishing training, protocols, standards and testing. He was also conducting Zoom meeting to get updates regarding the virus and what areas are doing what. Fortunately, nothing escalated to where we were asked to assist with communications. Things are still progressing nicely and we are moving to a more solid program.

Since February, (maybe earlier?) I have been participating via ZOOM with other section managers throughout our country and we have been discussing various topics which is been useful in a more effective communications path to the League. Some of the things discussed were the Field Day rules, band planning, remote VE testing, etc. Of course, if there is anything to relay, I will certainly pass it along.

That about wraps it up for this month. Hope you have a great field day and stay safe and enjoy the weather.

Most 73 to you all!
Ray, KB1LRL