Categories
Asides

Due to Pandemic

I’m curious if the Swains DXpedition delay due to a global pandemic was a first in ham radio history event?

The backstory here being that an international team of 10 operators planned to be active from Swains Island as W8S from March 10-25th of this year. Being number 34 on the Most Wanted list made this one highly anticipated and the team planned to be active on all HF bands in CW, SSB, FT8 and RTTY.

But then came breaking news that the operation would have to be canceled due to the Coronavirus. Not that anyone on the team had contracted the virus, but rather the sudden travel restrictions implemented upon entering American Samoa, restrictions imposed by the Department of Health as a result of the outbreak. The Department of Health allows non-residents to enter American Samoa only via Hawaii, after a 14 days mandatory quarantine in Hawaii. This wasn’t workable for the team as it would have extended the time of the excursion by an additional two weeks, and would require re-routing of flights and purchasing new tickets, etc.

The GOOD NEWS is that the operation has been re-scheduled:

Following the disappointing news earlier this week the Swains2020 team is extremely happy that we can announce the new schedule for the W8S DXpedition to Swains Island. The team will be on the island from September 23 until October 6, 2020.

The impact of the deadly Coronavirus continues to be much more serious than simple changes in travel plans. With thousands having died of the virus and the impending collapse of the global economy, the final results from this pandemic have yet to fully materialize.

Still I wonder, as just a footnote in our history, was this a first for amateur radio?

Categories
General

Sixty One

Woke this morning in Salt Lake City. Yet another birthday spent on the road. I’m alive, healthy, cheerful, and still earning a living so it’s all good, but I’m going to make this the last birthday I’ll spend working away from home. Retirement is around the corner.

I’m certainly not the youngest guy at every ham radio club meeting and event the way I was not so long ago. While I don’t consider 61 to be “old” my judgement about what is old seems to advance with the passage of time. Truth be told, sometimes it’s hard to remember I was born in another century, another millennia for that matter. Having lived 41 years in the 20th century I’m fond of declaring that century was much better than what I’ve seen of the 21st, at least so far.

These days I’m much less concerned about obtaining the latest hardware than I am about exercise, weight loss, and a better diet. As it turns out, fiber is more important than code speed, meditation more important than QSLing, regular checkups more important than band fills.

Ours is mostly a sedentary hobby that involves a lot of sitting. Heck, every contesting forum I’ve ever attended includes tips and hints about how to spend MORE time in the chair. This once seemed like wise counsel, but when I hear it now, all I see in my head is that traffic jam of electric scooters at Hamvention…

Categories
Asides

ARRL International DX Contest

The deep freeze that’s crept across the country showed up here last night. What had been 33F at dinner time yesterday turned into 2F by the morning commute to work today. This will pass quickly as temperatures are supposed to return to the 40s a little later in the weekend. Still, this won’t be the time for any other antenna work. The temporary wire strung up last weekend will be employed for a few hours in the ARRL International DX (CW) contest this weekend. This event is usually good for 50-75 entities, and that would go a long way toward my primary operating goal for 2020, but given the less than ideal antenna situation, I’ll be pleased to work even a fraction of that.

Good luck!

Categories
Asides

SVHFS Conference

SVHFS Conference 2020 Registration & Call For Papers

The 2020 Southeastern VHF Society Conference will be held in Gainesville, Georgia on April 24-25, 2020. Gainesville, GA is approximately 60 miles north of Atlanta in EM84ch. It is about 1.5 miles from I-985.

The Ramada Inn, of Gainesville, Georgia is the conference hotel for the 2020 SVHFS Conference. The hotel is now taking reservations directly. To book your room, please see the conference page. The conference rate is $80 per night. To secure this rate, call the hotel directly at 770-531-0907. Do not call Ramada central reservations or book through the Ramada Website.

Conference Pre-registration:
Pre-registration is now open through April 15, 2020. Please use the registration form on the conference web page.

Call for papers:
Papers and presentations are solicited on both the technical and operational aspects of VHF, UHF and Microwave weak signal amateur radio. The deadline for the submission of papers and presentations for this year’s conference is March 7, 2020. Please indicate when you submit your paper or presentation if you plan to attend the conference and present your paper in person or if you are submitting solely for publication. Papers and presentations are being handled by Charles Osborne, K4CSO if you have any questions.

Please see http://svhfs.org/wp/conference/call-for-papers/ for complete details concerning papers and presentations.

Categories
Asides

ARRL BoD Minutes

Minutes from the January ARRL Board of Directors meetings have been made available to the public. Details about the vote that ended the CEO position held by Howard Michel, WB2ITX are slim:

13. President Roderick opened the floor for nominations for Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Carlson nominated Dr. Michel. President Roderick stated that this would be a Yes/No vote. Ballots were distributed, collected and counted by the tellers with the following results: Yeas, 6; Nays, 9. Dr. Michel was not re-elected Chief Executive Officer.

The Board was on break from 9:40 – 9:59 AM with all returning as noted above except for Dr. Michel.

And then a short time later:

15. President Roderick opened the floor for a discussion preceding the motion to appoint an interim Chief Executive Officer. A debate ensued on whether the vote should occur today or tomorrow following a discussion of the details of the interim position. There was a conversation regarding what the title of the interim officer should be, and the Board agreed that the title shall be Interim Chief Executive Officer to comply with the By-Laws.

16. On the motion of Mr. Stratton, seconded by Mr. Norris, it was VOTED that:

Whereas, A vacancy exists in the office of Chief Executive Officer;

Whereas, The ARRL Board of Directors wishes to ensure continuous leadership for the ARRL during the period of its search for a new executive officer;

Whereas, Mr. Barry Shelley has previously served the ARRL with distinction in a capacity as Chief Financial Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer;

Whereas, Mr. Barry Shelley, N1VXY, has agreed to serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer during the period of the ARRL’s search for a new executive officer;

It is accordingly resolved:

(1) That the President of the ARRL is authorized, with the assistance of such staff and legal advisors as he deems necessary, to negotiate the terms of an employment contract with Mr. Barry Shelley to serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer of the ARRL for such terms as are reasonable;

(2) That the proposed contract with Mr. Barry Shelley be submitted to the Board of Directors for final approval prior to execution.

After discussion the motion was APPROVED.

Categories
On the Air

QRP Dreaming

With no antenna in the air for more than a month I’m getting a little stir crazy. Sure, I played with the KX3 using the telescoping AX1 portable antenna from the kitchen table last month, but ain’t nothing like the real thing.

Having had all the radio silence I could stand, I strung a random wire up a 30-foot mast that’s still attached to the back of the house on Sunday morning. The AH-4 antenna tuner liked it well enough on 30 meters that I decided to try to make my first FT8 contact of the New Year.

Mission accomplished. A few watts to the (mostly) vertical wire using FT8 yielded more than a dozen contacts on 30 meters and another handful on 80. One of those contacts with fellow ham-blogger Steve, K9ZW who was enjoying a snowstorm in Wisconsin while I watched it rain here in Central Indiana.

I wasn’t surprised at this modest success. Having been a QRP-only operator from 1997 until 2015 I’ve worked more than enough DX with low-powered kits and oddball wire antennas to have long ago become a believer. Though after nearly 20 years of this kind of activity I found it difficult to not become jaded about the efficacy of five watts and a wire.

But lately I’ve been taking fresh inspiration from Rich, KY6R who has started making a habit of trolling the bands for DX at QRP, while experimenting with various oddball antenna designs, I find myself thinking about a return to the minimalist radio lifestyle…

I dream of an Inverted-L to best take advantage of the low-bands from my small lot and build around the fully loaded KX3. All the equipment is powered exclusively from batteries that are charged via the Sun. I chase the DX Marathon using QRP CW every year while riding out the balance of time remaining in my lifelong ham radio adventure.

I’d never tell anyone that whatever particular joy they take from this hobby is not real ham radio, but success, however you define it, with a minimal station is as real as ham radio ever gets.

Categories
Asides

New AMSAT President

Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, Elected AMSAT President

At a special meeting held via teleconference, the AMSAT Board of Directors elected Clayton Coleman, W5PFG, President. Coleman previously served as a member of the Board of Directors from 2017-2019 and also served as AMSAT’s Secretary during this time. 

Read the entire AMSAT Bulletin here.