Section Manager’s Report Feb, 2021

   Hello there! It must be the cold of winter doing this, my brain is frozen! Seems like as soon as February comes around, I get itchy for Spring. I guess Puxatawney Phil has an influence in this…oh well!

   The nice thing about winter is there is some great contests going on in the weekends. There is something for everyone so I hope you dust off that radio and work one of them. CQ WPX RTTY is one of my favorites which is on Feb 13. Contesting is also a good way to mentor that brand new Ham. So many things go into it live and behind the scenes.

   On the Federal side of things there is much going on. Of course, there is the Fee increase which will take place except it will be 35 dollars instead of the 50 as planned. The Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai stepped down on January 20. There was a flurry of notices regarding rumors of people using Ham Radio’s in protest/riot situations. The usual culprit were the Baofengs. It is a good idea to scan around to see if there are anyone using the bands illegally, especially the simplex vhf/uhf frequencies. Report any occurrences to myself or to one of the Volunteer Monitors. Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH is the head of that program and will assist were needed. So far things have been quiet. 

   January 9 we had our Division Cabinet meeting which was a virtual event this year. I think this was the first in a long time all 6 Section Manager’s in New England was present. Fred Hopengarten K1VR received reports from us as to what has been going on. Our new Chairman David Minster NA2AA was also present and presented the Rhode Island SM Bob Beaudette a very distinguished award for his many years of promoting radio. The meeting went well and there was some good information presented there. 

   Our Hamden Club President Larry Krainson W1AST is forming plans to hold an amateur radio booth at the 2022 Big E in Springfield and had asked the NE division to participate and assist where possible. This is a huge undertaking as this event runs for nearly 2 weeks. He has set up a groups.io reflector for those who want to join a group discussion. Contact Larry for more information.

   That’s enough for now. I hope you and your clubs are doing well. Keep looking for ideas to have participation and activity during this Pandemic. Keep in mind, it’s not a restriction, it’s an OPPORTUNITY! Stay Safe

73

Ray KB1LRL

Section Manager Report January 2021

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I guess we can all agree we won’t regret 2020 going bye-bye. But a new chapter opens up and we can all hope our dreams, plans, hopes can be realized without much resistance. Myself, I cannot complain, I made some pretty good achievements last year. I learned CW finally and now I need to hone it more so I can get on the air with it. Also, a new career and some home improvements. I’ve been a busy boy!

I do want to apologize as I forgot to announce a new staff member to our ranks. Mike DeChristopher N1TA has become our new Assistant Section Manager. Mike has a background in contesting and once had the position as ARRL contest manager in Newington. He is also a member of HCRA. He will be overseeing the western end of the state and he will be a great addition to our staff. Welcome aboard, Mike!

And as usual we still have some holes to fill in our staffing. Maybe it is a New Year’s resolution to become part of it. Shoot me an email to see what is available. Both Myself and ARES are seeking people to join.

As you are aware the latest scuttlebutt for discussion is the new license fees coming up. The FCC dropped the price down to $35 instead of $50. There were over 190,000 comments sent to the FCC and it did have some impact but not ideally what we want. You can see the R&O at this link. Thanks to all who sent in the comments.

As mentioned last month, our website has a new look and feel having been moved to a new system. We are now looking at incorporating our ARES membership database into our new website, so it is all managed from a single system, making it easier for everyone. Stay tuned on more announcements and instructions about that!

With the new year is also a big time for contesting as there are a number of big ones for the next two months, starting with Straight Key Night tonight. Also the RTTY Roundup this weekend. This is a great way to fatten up your log and maybe get that elusive award you are looking for. It is also a good way to hone skills that you are new to or to dust off your equipment and get back into it. I am just a casual contester which is fine with me, but there are others that really get into it to test their skills and beat scores, etc. Whatever works for you, get into it and enjoy yourselves. Share your experience with your fellow club members.

I hope you all have a productive and prosperous new year and make the best of it! Let’s be hopeful that at least some of the hamfests come back!

Best 73,
Ray KB1LRL

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

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