Western Massachusetts ARRL

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

Greenfield Winter Carnival Sleigh Bell Race

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club is looking for amateur radio volunteers for the Greenfield Winter Carnival Sleigh Bell Race.

The race will be held Saturday, February 1, 2020. This is a very short race, only 4 miles.  We will meet around 9am - 9:15ish at Hope & Olive - coffee and donuts are available - and then be at positions by about 9:45am.  The FCARC Leyden repeater will likely be used. The race starts promptly at 10am and we should be done by 11am (the fastest runners are done in about 20 minutes).

To sign up or if you have any questions, contact Erika KC1IJJ.

ARISS Opens Window for ISS Ham Radio Contact Proposals on February 1

Editors note: Generally we do not repost news items off of the ARRL HQ home page unless the news pertains directly to the Western MA section.  In this case, we've had school based ARISS contacts made in the section in the past and this is another opportunity to repeat an excellent experience.  Please consider it!

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is once again seeking formal and informal education institutions and organizations — individually or working together — interested in hosting an amateur radio contact with an International Space Station (ISS) crew member. A window to accept proposals will open on February 1 for contacts that would be scheduled between January and June 2021. The majority of ARISS contacts involve schools and educational institutions. ARISS is looking for organizations able to attract a large number of participants that can integrate the contact opportunity into a well-developed education plan. 

“ARISS contacts afford education audiences the opportunity to learn firsthand from astronauts what it is like to live and work in space and to learn about space research conducted on the ISS,” ARISS said in announcing the proposal period. “Students also will have an opportunity to learn about satellite communication, wireless technology, and radio science.”

 Proposal information and documents are available on the ARISS website. Two identical ARISS introductory webinars have been set for January 23 at 9 PM EST (0200 UTC on January 24) and for January 27 at 1800 EST (2300 UTC). Registration is required.

 Contacts with ISS crew members run approximately 10 minutes in length and allow students to interact with the astronauts through a question-and-answer session. ARISS contacts are voice-only amateur radio communication opportunities. Schools and organizations typically work with a local amateur radio club to assist in handling the technical aspects of carrying out a successful contact with the ISS.

ARISS stresses that because of the nature of human spaceflight and the complexity of scheduling activities aboard the ISS, schools and organizations must be flexible in accommodating changes in radio contact dates and times.

“Amateur radio organizations around the world with the support of NASA and space agencies in Russia, Canada, Japan, and Europe present educational organizations with this opportunity,” ARISS said. “The ham radio organizations’ volunteer efforts provide the equipment and operational support to enable communication between crew on the ISS and students around the world using amateur radio.”

Proposal information and more details are available on the ARISS websiteContact ARISS with any questions.

Important Info on the New Distracted Driving Laws

Back in November, it was reported on this website and on Eastern MA section's website that new changes to the Commonwealth's distrcted driver laws were being considered.  These changes would include holding any electronics communications device, even with just one hand, while driving. 
These changes will go into effect on February 23, 2020.  There will be a grace period until the end of March 2020. So if you're stopped, only expect a warning. But after that, a first offense will mean a $100 fine; second offense $250; and a third or any subsequent offense will cost you $500. Habitual offenders could also be subjected to auto insurance surcharges or driver training. 
Also, as previously posted here and on the EMA website, section management from both sections approached state legislators about this bill with the goal of having an amendment made to the bill to excempt radio operations by licensed amateur radio operators.  They were successful.  The new law states that it “permits use of a federally licensed 2–way radio” provided that “1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times.”.
The best ways to avoid being ticketed for your lawful use of amateur radio while mobile is to have the appropriate documentation in the vehicle with you.  The idea is that you provide the police officer in question with this information, your chances of the officer giving you a ticket for what is clearly legal exempted radio operations will be substantially reduced.
The first item to print out and have with you in the car is the actual text of the Massachusetts General Law on the subject.  That would be MGL Part 1, Title XIV, Chapter 90, Section 13.  It is recommended that you also highlight the relavant statement in the law that reads: "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".  In these situations, only the exact text of the actual MGL in question will suffice.  Do not use any type of summarization of the law, just print the entire Section 13 per the page at the link above.
The second item is your valid FCC amateur radio license.  Although the FCC went to paperless licenses in February 2015, there are instructions available for obtaining an official copy of your license.
As recent related post to the CMARA email list mentions: "Lest you think this isn't going to be aggressively enforced please note that a CMARA member was pulled over in early December by a policeman that a) thought the distracted driving law was already in effect, b) didn't know the provisions for mobile radio operators. Even with this information you may still receive a ticket but the law is on our side and you should be OK if it goes to court."
Please continue to use your best judgement regarding your safety and the safety of others on the road with you and don't operate your radios unless it is perfectly safe for you to do so.  However, be prepared to ensure that all our hard work to get this amateur radio related exemption codified into the law isn't wasted by making sure you are ready with the correct documents if you are pulled over for this reason.

Boston Marathon Volunteer Registration Opens

On behalf of the BAA Amateur Radio Communications Committee, Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that 2019 has come to a close and we are heading into 2020. With the New Year comes the 124th running of the Boston Marathon.

Volunteer registration will open for the Marathon is now open.  The race itself is taking place on Monday, April 20, 2020.

For Returning Volunteers:
The BAA sends out an email which provides you with a direct link once registration is open. This email will also include your loyalty number, which is required for sign up.

For New Volunteers:
If you haven't previously volunteered, or have a friend who would like to volunteer, please go directly to the Volunteer Registration page and follow the instructions for new volunteers.

Don’t delay! Volunteer registration closes on Friday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. Help us get the word out by forwarding this email to your club and other amateur radio operators who wish to volunteer. Most volunteers first learn about the event through word of mouth. If you know new licensees who might like to join us, please make sure to let them know about it. Even just a quick mention at your club meeting can be a big help.

If you have any questions about the upcoming volunteer registration period, or the 2020 Marathon generally, please get in touch anytime. Volunteering at the Marathon is a big job and we appreciate the time and effort everyone puts into it. We’re happy to do what we can to make your work fun, comfortable, and effective.

We look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Thank you, and 73,
Boston Marathon Communications Committee

New Amateur Licensees - December 2019

Congratulations to the latest new hams of Western Massachusetts:

Everett C Rubel, AC1IP
146 Wales Rd
Brimfield, MA 01010-9748

John D Mckeon, KC1MIP
70 West St
Paxton, MA 01612-1014

KC1KCE Appointed as Western MA Public Information Coodinator

Hi all,

It is my pleasure to announce the addition of Grant Fritchey KC1KCE to our Western Mass staff as the new Public Information Coordinator. Grant has leadership experience in a volunteer role especially with the Boy Scouts. Grant also has skills in social media and has also written press releases. Grant is a fairly new ham licensed since July 2018 with a General class ticket going for the Extra.

Please join me in welcoming Grant aboard and best wishes in his goals.

Thank you,

Section Manager Report January 2020

Hello everyone, Happy New Year! Today I officially begin my second term in this role. I am looking forward to this as now I have something to work with in terms of a staff. To those who have supported me the past two years, I can’t say it enough, Thank you! Now, let’s move it forward!

One of the things I plan on doing is getting together with key people and getting information on what went well or bad and what we need to do to make this section stronger and function better.

Earlier this week we had a visit from mother nature which had all the making of being an ice storm equal to 2008. Thankfully the result was far from that but just the same there was a need for some readiness. Special thanks go out to all those who monitored and conducted nets and provided weather reports. This can certainly act as a building block to improve our ARES program.

In a couple of weeks, our ARRL New England Division Director Fred Hopengarten  K1VR will be conducting the annual cabinet meeting to have club presidents, section managers and other section representatives from New England gather and share comradery, ideas, issues, etc. as the League will have their board meeting shortly after. If you have anything to bring up you are welcome to shoot me an email and I will bring it forward. Meetings such as these have definitely been heard at the League and acted on as well.

As usual, the help wanted sign is still out. You can certainly add to the New Year’s resolutions and volunteer for one of the open positions we have.

That’s all for now hope to see you as I start up visits to meetings.