MA Lawmakers Announce Surprise Agreement on Distracted Driving Legislation

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

MARSAt 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 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.

Section Manager Report for November 2019

WMA ARRLHi fellow amateurs, the question of the month is WHERE DID THE YEAR GO??? It’s November! I was just finishing Field Day. Yeesssh! So many things to do and no time, now it’s getting cold now. Oh well, soldier on.

Sunday, Nov 3 was an important day as our section had our first Section Emergency Test (SET) in a verrrry long time. Bob K1YO put it together largely where our strengths and weaknesses are. All in all this was a successful exercise and indeed, it revealed to us where we need to work on to further strengthen our emergency program. Mine is to set up and operate Winlink and FLDigi. Thanks once again Bob for getting it back together again.

If you haven’t noticed the website is looking a little different. Gil, WK1H has switched to a new service for various reasons and it looks good. Of course, you have to visit the website regularly to see the difference! (hint,hint!) We could use a new logo though. Anyone with artistic skills draw some up and send them to me. The one selected will get a new ARRL Handbook. (I actually sent out this offer in January. Nothing but crickets!).

Looking at the New Ham listings, the western part of the state is showing strong activity with new license and upgrades. I am curious, what works for your club? what do you do? Can other clubs benefit from this? I have ideas and am working on a project to aid in this. But am I missing something? I would love to hear about it. My visits to the clubs have revealed so much but maybe I missed something. Let me know.

That’s enough mumbo-jumbo for now. I just want to say if I don’t see you, have a safe, fun Thanksgiving weekend.

73, Ray KB1LRL

New Amateur Licensees – October 2019

WMA ARRLCongratulations to the latest new hams of Western Massachusetts:

Thomas D Silliman, KC1MAN
36 Reservoir Rd
Leeds, MA 01053-5320

Christopher A St Germain, KC1MAO
15 Castle St # 1455
Ware, MA 01082-1103

Shaun T Weigand, KC1MAR
73 Cambridge Ave
Pittsfield, MA 01201-7232

Mark J Bennett, KC1MAG
22 5th St
Webster, MA 01570-2825

Robert S Zarges, KC1LZX
69 Fales St
Worcester, MA 01606-2033

Andrew J Adiletta, KC1LZY
244 Sawyer Rd
Bolton, MA 01740-1313

Rebecca A Johnston, KC1MBE
193 Long Hill Rd
Bolton, MA 01740-1421

Amateurs Contact Military Stations on 60M

MARSThis just in from Tom Kinahan N1CPE of Army MARS:

A government station call up amateur stations on 60M channel 1 (Dial 5.3305 Mhz) at 9am Sunday (11/3/19) for the purpose of getting situational awareness reports. Amateurs will be asked for any known failures of infrastructure in their county such as water, power, telecommunications, sewer, medical, and also their zip code. If they don’t know of any failures, then they report no failures. Reports of no failures are just as important as failures.

This callup will be shortly after the Western Mass Emergency Net on 3.944 at 8:30am.

There will be a 60 Meter broadcast on Nov 17 0301Z. That is Saturday night in 2 weeks.

The Broadcast will be Voice and Digital. The Digital mode is M110A, and the software is available on the website under software.

under x86 MS-DMT.

Amateurs can use this mode on 60 meters only, and will facilitate interoperation with Military and other government stations.

All reports must be real life reports. Do not make up situations.

WMA ARES Simulated Emergency Test Sunday November 3

WMA ARESAfter a long hiatus, the Western Massachusetts ARES Section will conduct a simplified Simulated Emergency Test (SET) to determine our current capacities for communications within the 5 counties in the section.

The exercise will begin at noon local time on Sunday November 3 and last until approximately 3PM. Inter-section communications -MAY- be attempted in the 3PM to 4PM timeframe if the appropriate equipment can be put into place. More information on this will appear on this website prior to Nov 3 or be announced in an update during the regular ARES nets on the Sunday morning od the SET.

The SET will attempt to communicate across counties using our normal repeaters for an initial callup at 1200 local time, followed by county – to – county VHF simplex testing from 1230 to 1255.

At 1300, the ARES HF Emergency net will do a roll call on the same frequency (3.944 MHz+/-) as the usual Sunday morning HF net. Following this, at 1330, we will attempt to establish contacts across counties using SSB; there will be several ‘acting EOC’ stations to facilitate this testing under the guidance of an announced net control station.
Digital mode (NBEMS) activity will commence at 1400 with a simple HF digital net on the 75M NBEMS frequency … 3.580 MHz USB using PSK31. We will attempt to broadcast a beacon message for stations to synchronize their operating frequency … the short message will read :


And will be repeated for 5 minutes after which we will have an NBEMS net control station calling up several stations by county and coordinating direct digital communications between them.

At 1430, we will initiate some WinLink messages to pre-established addresses to test this capability for stations so equipped. There also may be some direct peer to peer testing using WinLink although this is not anticipated to be the usual mode for direct communications during an emergency.

Additional inter-section testing is possible after 1500 with predetermined parameters that will not likely include the general ARES membership but could give our neighbor section(s) a chance to test whatever may be appropriate for their needs.

It is important to note that we are NOT looking to have a flawless exercise – but we should observe how effectively we may participate … a chance to identify our individual and group shortcomings and make notes on these. We will conduct several review meetings to reveal where we need improvement, and to identify additional training the WMA ARES team will develop and provide to our members. This will allow us to develop exercises in the near future to test and measure our improvement in key areas needed. MISTAKES ARE WELCOME !! – IT’S HOW WE WILL LEARN TO BE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATORS

Vy 73,
Bob K1YO
WMA Section Emergency Coordinator