Winter Fades

It seems winter may be giving up and will soon flee to wherever it hides during these days of perpetual warming. We had some snow and a short cold snap in the final week of February, but now that March has arrived, the forecast for the next 7-10 days all show high temps in the 50’s (F). And if this spring is anything like last, we’ll be running the air-conditioning in a few weeks. We don’t really have spring here anymore, we leap right from winter into hot and muggy. I’m never pleased about these abrupt transitions, I enjoy cold and snowy weather, but the longer days and milder temps means I can get to work sooner on the antenna farm.

Being fully persuaded that Cycle 25 will be every bit as miserable as this current solar cycle, I suspect the low-bands are going to become our permanent home address so an Inverted-L antenna configuration seems a good choice. Given the arrangement of my lot, I’ll need to be creative with the ground radials, but I have a few ideas that should work. I enjoyed great results on multiple bands, including TopBand, with an “L” when we lived in North Carolina. Those tall pine trees made for great natural supports. Here, I’m going to have to install artificial supports, like the Rohn H50 telescoping mast.

Beyond the antenna work at home, the change in season should permit a return to field operations and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve no specific goals for this year, other than to get outside and take a radio every chance I get. We’re even planning some vacation time around travel to select State Parks and a lakefront cottage or two. It will also provide opportunity for portable antenna experimentation in the backyard.

That’s always enjoyable and the extra preparation makes work in the field a little easier.


Solder Smoke

In the latest edition of the SolderSmoke podcast, host Bill Meara, N2CQR put out a plea for listeners to drop him a note and let him know how you listen, via direct download, iTunes, Stitcher, etc.

I’ve been listening to SolderSmoke since it launched, the only ham radio program I can make that claim about. Intended for low-power enthusiasts, home brewers, and boat anchor aficionados, the personality and delivery make it the most highly anticipated program in all of hamdom. Sometimes I wish it was produced more frequently, but its semi-scarcity is one of its many charms.

Also be sure to visit the SolderSmoke daily news blog.


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?


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!


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 for complete details concerning papers and presentations.


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.


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.