Section Manager Report December 2020

Hello once again. Sorry I’m a little late as the new job is putting a different spin on my weekdays.

As we near the end of 2020 it certainly places a lot of “what-ifs” to the new year, so many thing’s that will drive our livelihoods and our lives, My wish is to find normalcy in all facets of it, as I’m sure you all do as well.

I attended a Zoom meeting with the Hampden County Radio Association along with fellow invitees Fred, K1VR, our New England Division Director and Vice-Director Phil, K9HI. This was actually their virtual Holiday party. Fred gave us some information and fielded some questions from the group. It was a fun time and appreciate Fred and Phil for joining in.

Here is a little bit of breaking news. We are working on a new website and this is actually going to combine the crusty, dusty ARES website into our new website which is under a new host. The revamp also will remove the singular owner/admin and place it with a group that will share control and adapt to personnel changes as years go on. This will also be a huge improvement on how ARES is accessed. It will be much easier to apply, report, and maintain databases. Huge thanks go to Gil WK1H, Grant KC1KCE, and Aaron, KF1G for their collective web talents for putting it together. Also, thanks to Bob K1YO for instigating this! Hi-hi. Stay tuned, more to follow.

I hope that everyone has a safe, healthy, fabulous Holiday season in the best possible way. Take some time and warm up your shack and get on the air for a while.

Stay well and 73!
Ray KB1LRL

Section Manager Report November 2020

Hello everyone, it’s been kind of quiet out there lately, even the crickets aren’t saying much. The only thing that has been happening is some of our staff has resigned their post’s for various reasons. Some of it is that there has been little progress in plans and activities, etc. in the ARES department. Remember, we have been building our ARES group from ASHES- nothing! Bob, K1YO has been working many hours on many facets along with getting the staff together and along with some on board who have been contributing to put the program to functionality. Without volunteers who are willing to participate to get the movement moving better, it will be slow as snails. I have been continuously seeking people to help and I hear the deafening silence all the time. Keep in mind, we could get a blizzard this year of epic proportions with huge power outages and people seeking shelters and stranded in their homes. Ask yourselves this, Are we ready? The help wanted sign is out. To those who have been working hard with our group, again, many thanks for your efforts.

Earlier, I posted a member Ken, WB8PKK is putting together a venue where we will have tech classes and VE sessions during the months of January and February. The Masonic hall in Gardner has provided their dining hall with a new air filtration system to conduct the sessions. We have a number of people signed up for the sessions and am looking for volunteers to assist in teaching or conducting the testing. Give Ken a email at backhoeken@yahoo.com for more information. Additionally, the Boston chapter is expressing interest as well in getting something together and have invited the Eastern Mass section partners as well.

These sessions have become a controversial subject not just here but across the country. There are those that hold a very traditional approach to teaching and testing and expresses their opinion loudly of that. I, myself do like to embrace the traditional methods but understand there is also a need to adapt with the times. Remote testing and learning and other forms are getting to be the “norm” to get people taught and licensed. My take on this is to look at the other traditional method of making active hams. That’s Elmering! This was also embraced in times past and has since gone away. The way I see it, regardless of how we get people interested and licensed under the FCC guidelines, Elmering and Mentoring those to become grounded in the hobby will be the key in the success in the hobby. Those who participate in this can actually teach those traditional methods they embrace so tightly.

That was a mouthful this month. I really hope you give things a thought and see about doing something which can get a lot of positives and growth in this great hobby for all!

I hope you all have a safe, healthy Thanksgiving in the best way you can.

73,
Ray KB1LRL

Section Manager Report October 2020

Hello fellow practitioners of the ether! I’m starting to hear rumors that Santa is only giving sanitizing supplies this year! Makes you wonder don’t it?

If you haven’t found out yet we now have a NE Division Vice Director and that is Phil Temples, K9HI. You may have seen him around or talked to him at the former Boxboro convention. Usually when I see him, he is either running around like a nut, resolving an issue, or talking to lots of people. Currently he is trying to put some kind of virtual replacement to our Hamvention in place. I don’t know about you, but I miss those events. I really hope they come back next year.

One thing that Phil has done is launch the NE Div. website! You can see it at https://nediv.arrl.org/. This is for ALL of New England. Take a moment to have a look. A great start to the new appointment. Welcome Phil!

The Eastern section and myself have had some inquiries about Ham Callsign vanity plates from the MA. RMV Apparently new requests have been stalled due to an upgrade in the system back in 2019-ish. I do not know if it applies to other forms of vanity plates. I am curious how many out there have had this issue going on. Please let me know. The section leaders, and the ARRL really have no influence in getting this resolved and Covid likely have pushed this on a low priority as it is supported by third party software. (Unconfirmed sources, FYI) If you are having difficulty with this, best thing is to contact the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

As you may be aware October and November will be fairly busy as ARES and MARS will be conducting Section Emergency Test (SET). MARS will be including Amateur Operators for their test. Stay tuned to this site and others for information. Anyone is welcome to participate. You can email Bob, K1YO about our SET and if you wish to join in.

I hope everyone is doing good out there and being safe. Radio is certainly a cure for loneliness and boredom if you are stuck at home. I know some of you still had vacations and hope you had a great time. Playing radio outside of your norm allows checking out new antennas, new modes etc. Hope it was worked into your plans.

I hope everyone has a great month!

73,
Ray KB1LRL

 

Section Manager Report September 2020

Hi Gang, we are now rounding the corner into September. I will admit it was a hot summer.

With the arrival of September comes the opening of some clubs starting up their meeting’s. I’m sure most, if not all will be virtual for now. Just as a reminder the WMA website now has resources to aid in various aspects of your club. The links are below:

For speakers:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qLesHfit7-elLKXI-e8sQfpiKtNLCmyTirWFdALmRWE/edit#gid=1857305376

For new hams: 
https://wma.arrl.org/western-massachusetts-section-mentoring-program.html

Nets to try out: (let’s keep it up to date!)
https://wma.arrl.org/media/files/netlisting/WMA_Ham_Nets.pdf

Note: I do know the COVID Breakfast nets are now suspended. Hopefully they will no longer have to be used.

These are resources for you. Please keep them up to date and accurate please. Contact myself or the webmaster to get changes made.

The summer I have been busy setting up and learning some digital modes to support ARES. This is part to help Bob K1YO in testing capabilities and what works best in the area. The other is I am building a versatile EMCOMM station with a FT 991-a I just bought (nice rig by the way!). Things are moving along and what I am learning will hopefully provide someone interested in digital EMCOM technical assistance. Anyone is welcome to participate and encouraged to do so.

This month I am going to do a shoutout to the Mohawk Club in Gardner. They have spent the summer in getting their repeater groomed and set up with Fusion and DMR. They actually used part of it to do a demonstration on Zoom. It was quite informative. The other thing they are doing is one person has stepped up and will be doing a CW ops course aside from the usual one which fills up quickly. I will be participating in it to see if I can start using it on the air. This is a great example of a club that was struggling and with a committed group of members, is coming up with ideas to increase participation, activity, and add membership. I am looking forward to see the results from their efforts. Great job all!

When your club has their meetings, drop me an invite so I can pay a visit and say hi.
That’s all for this month. Like they said in the seventies..”Keep on Truckin'”!

Best 73,
Ray, KB1LRL

 

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

 

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

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

Section Manager Report May 2020

Hi fellow hams,

The saga continues, sadly, and they are still saying we are still not even nearly out of the woods. I truly hope everyone out there is safe, sane, and well.

I am currently in PA undergoing my training and I have been monitoring the situation and keeping up to date as far as ARES goes. SEC Bob K1YO has been really using his time to build up the staffing and getting the communications system worked on and soon will get some trainings started, especially with Winlink and another digital modes. The progress for an active ARES service here in WMA has been phenomenal. Bob has also been getting the staff together via Zoom for any status updates and I have been present at these meetings. Thankfully there has been nothing major and we are just in a monitor state.

We just launched our new Net Listings on the website. This was put together by John Nitzke, KF1KI whom I truly thank for the effort. I took the information that those of you sent to me and updated the list so it will be a fairly active and accurate listing. The EMA section will get a copy to post as well. EMA has one in a Google Calendar on their website. The plan is both sections will have a pretty good list of nets.

Now here’s the challenge……

Anyone who wishes to access one, more, or all of the nets, HF or on repeaters, get on and check in. Obviously location and propagation will play a factor. If you go to a scheduled net o the list and not hear anything, try again at another time, and once more. If after three times you hear nothing, report it to whomever, (me for this section) I will do my best to verify and if it does not exist, I will remove it. That way you can stretch your radio’s legs a bit and see how your station is performing. If you have a net you go to regularly and it’s not on the list send it to me to put in or if you can edit it in Word you can do it but keep it in the same format please. If there is great participation, we should have more net activity and a nice active listing to go to.

That should do it for now, Thanks to all who are doing their part in keeping the situation as safe and tolerable as possible. Especially those on the front lines who are facing it head on!

Most 73 to you all!
Ray, KB1LRL

Section Manager Report April 2020

Hi everyone. What a difference a month makes. Last month we were looking forward to meeting’s, hamfests, baseball, etc. Now the new sport that’s popular is toilet paper searches and keeping the kids occupied. Needless to say, this has become a sobering experience for a lot of people. This also brings a new respect for those into making (makers) and preppers. We as hams share similar interests as we are always working on our gear so it will work under bad conditions and situations. Now that we are hunkered down, I’m sure ham projects are getting worked on and caught up, and BETTER!

With the situation in place, clubs have had to cancel events and meetings. Members have been coming up with ways to stay active within the group. I have seen some new nets springing up and there is some online stuff as well. There is a WMA page on Facebook where clubs can share information and ideas. It is pretty secured so no junk will get in. Of course, any articles of interest to all can go to Gil, WK1H, Grant, KC1KCE, our new PIO, or myself. With that, The League as you know is all working from home and can be contacted via email. There have been questions regarding exam sessions that people have been preparing for. They are looking at this as well as other things to keep parts of these areas moving. There is chatter, although nothing confirmed that the Extra class question pool may get extended to cover those that were studying before the June 30 cutoff. I’ll keep you posted.

Some of you know of my latest act of insanity where I retired from my job and went to school and got my CDL. March 30 I will be out of state going to orientation and training with Schneider. When I am done, I will be going over the road over 37 states. This was a little premature but none of the local companies would not hire unless you have experience, despite the huge demand. I will still, the best I can continue to keep up to date, attend online meetings and answer emails and calls, etc. There is good forward momentum going on, I want to keep it going.

As I have mentioned in the past, I have always encouraged the advancement of Ham Radio in some form. Whether it’s learning a new mode, taking lessons on EMCOMM, building antennas, etc. If you have kids or grandkids, this is an excellent opportunity to “home school” them in science, or if you are good, math. This hobby richly promotes STEM, what a great opportunity while at home! While I am away and, on my downtime, I do plan on busting out the Morse Code cd’s and learning code…again! Let’s see where that gets me.

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. With any luck we will be out of this and we get back to normal with the exception that we ALL, hams or not, have learned from this experience.

Thank you all and 73!

73,
Ray, KB1LRL

Section Manager Report March 2020

Hello Western Mass.  I’m sure by now we are starting to come out of hibernation and thinking warm thoughts which is what I hope to be a warm, sunny season coming up.

First of all, join me in welcoming Peter Mattice, KD2JKV to a new position as Assistant Section Manager.  Peter is currently one of the WMA Assistant Section Traffic Managers and will continue with that role as well.  Peter will be concentrating on the northwest corner and Berkshire county which I find to be a real challenge to get out there.  He also does a radio show and podcast dedicated to ham radio called Ham On! which is broadcasted on WTBR in Pittsfield every Wednesday at 9:00 AM.  I was a recent guest on his show and had fun with it!  Welcome Peter!

Hamfest’s are warming up! I was at the Marlboro hamfest and as usual was a great time. My next one is at Mt. Tom hamfest for Saturday, March 7th. With that will also be representatives for ARES and RACES for our section so stop by and say howdy!

On a personal note, a number of members are aware of my career change to a commercial truck driver. As of Jan 15, I did receive my Class A drivers license and have been looking for a position. The vast majority of local companies failed to respond to my applications except one. I will be driving over the road which will keep me out of state quite a bit. This will limit my appearances somewhat for a while and my intent is to keep an open line of communication. With any luck, I can still attend field day and Boxboro. (Oh, wait, HamExposition!) I need to see how things are with time. There is some great momentum going on and want to see it blossom.

For those who are not aware, Grant, KC1KCE has set up a Facebook account for our section. All are welcome to post club and public service events and other information as well. This is also linked to this website so when items like my report goes on this site, it populates to Facebook. This is to expand our information pipeline to get news and events out more. Thanks, Grant, for the stellar effort!

As you know, our Section has initiated a Mentoring program which ran into a little snag in the brochure we introduced. It has now been revised and approved and you will see it on the website for all to download and modify as needed for your club or event. I would love to get some feedback as to what you did and if this has a positive impact on the new ham.

Our resident Near-Fest creator, Mr. Mike W1RC came up with an idea where he created an email and with some of our members help, emailed 99.9% of the states police departments to educate them on ham radio exemption to give them clarity and to ensure with the distracted driving law which is now in effect. A number of departments replied with appreciation that they received the information. Keep in mind, if you are pulled over and you get a ticket, just take it and bring it up to the court. I do not anticipate a problem, but just in case. Thanks to all who assisted in the effort in getting the word out.

Boy, I had a mouthful to report this month! Please keep spreading the word according to Amateur Radio! Thank you all for a wonderful month.

73,
Ray, KB1LRL