Friday, April 1, 2016

Dale's Tales for April..

Greetings everyone, welcome to "Dale's Tales" for April, 2016.

UPDATE for AMATEUR RADIO PARITY ACT:  This subject moves to the front of the column as
recent actions are getting us reasonably close to closure.  Our ARRL Legislative Action Committee members have been meeting in Washington to reconcile the bill verbiage with representatives of homeowners' associations.  I am optimistic that most of the concerns on both sides of the issue have been resolved and I look for us to have a bill that will not face opposition in either the House
or Senate.   I am not attempting to say the deal is done, it is not and
we remain steadfast that hams are to be treated fairly in installing an outside antenna.  Opposing that single issue can be a deal breaker as it is the basis for the entire bill.  You can find more information at  Thanks to so many of the Great lakes Division hams who have sent letters supporting the legislation.  If you have not done so, you can find a sample on the listed web page.  Please be sure to route your letters through ARRL Headquarters for personal delivery: ARRL, Attn: Amateur Radio Parity Act grassroots campaign, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111.  We will hand deliver the letters, thus avoiding delays caused by the postal inspection system in DC.

SPRING:  It is now upon us and along with it, the frequent severe weather that hits the Midwest.  Many regions are well underway with their annual spotter training programs, certainly an important item on the calendar.  Recognition of what constitutes a funnel cloud vs virga can be a lifesaving measure.  While our ARES members train in storm spotting, these sessions also offer an opportunity to work on net procedures.  Knowing what to report and how best to convey the information on a busy net (with an overworked net control) insures efficiency and accuracy, again, potential lifesaving measures.  We need to ask ourselves "Who uses our reports?  What data do they need?  How it is best presented to them?  Can your local Emergency Management people use a spotter report in the same form as the National Weather Service?

What is the best method to get the report to your partner agency?"

Certainly, many more questions need answers, so meet with partner agencies now, well before severe weather sets in, to work out the details so our ARES programs are viable and incorporating the Best Practices to serve the public.
NPOTA:   I am receiving a lot of positive input about National Parks on the Air.  Here we are with spring is only a few days upon us and the bands are busy with NPOTA operations.   Warmer weather will bring even more operators into the field and more of the National Park System locations on the air.  Remember if you have the opportunity to set up and operate, check in at the park office and let them know your plans.

Many are willing to assist with PR and even help you put up a suitable sign to let the public know who you are.   Let's make the best of the show.

TOM'S COMMENTS:  Comments from our Vice Director Tom Delany W8WTD

As I’ve noted here before, I really enjoy being able to connect with people throughout the Division and find out what projects they are working on, and from time to time, sharing progress reports with everyone. So it’s been good to be able to get to some hamfests in Kentucky and Michigan. Next up is the granddaddy of them all, the Dayton Hamvention®. Hope to see many of you there.

I spent many years volunteering with Red Cross, especially in planning and preparing communications of all types for disaster. I’m still involved, as a matter of fact. So when I see possibilities for new things in ham radio, I’m really encouraged as well. There are all sorts of good activities going on in the Division with regard to emergency communications. We have groups working on digital data, from the MESH networks to the various digital nets; there is an upcoming NVIS antenna day, sponsored in Ohio, but open to participation from Michigan and Kentucky; and there are efforts in digital voice. I have to admit that I’m partial to the DMR technology, but I know D-Star has a lot of dedicated enthusiasts, and Fusion has some promise, particularly with all the new repeaters out there.

Lately, I’ve been chatting back and forth with the folks in Mansfield, Ohio, where they just put up a new DMR repeater. The statewide talkgroup offers promise for coverage in an emergency. Now I realize that some people will argue that the internet may be down in a big disaster, so why bother with something that is so internet based?

But my answer would be that as long as the system is out there, we may as well experiment with it, and use it. When it comes to communications in an emergency, you can never have too many systems. True, you don’t know which ones will work and which ones won’t, so that’s why it’s important to have options. The one you don’t expect to use may be the one to get you through the worst of the disaster.

Hams don’t often need encouragement for new technology. When we find something we like, we go for it. We get involved, and make new things happen. If there’s any advice to offer, it would simply be this –look for the possibility your favorite mode might have for emergency communications, and help develop that along with all the other god things it does.

As I mentioned, D-Star has been around and has well-established nets. DMR is rapidly advancing. What are the plans for interconnecting the Fusion repeaters? How soon can we count on them for digital coverage of a state or a region?

Disasters can happen at any time. But Spring is often the season for weather-related emergencies throughout our Division. So let’s do what we can to be prepared again this year.

73, Tom W8WTD  Vice Director, Great Lakes Division

HAMFESTING:  Here is the current Great Lakes Division ARRL Sanctioned Hamfest Schedule for the next few weeks.  These swaps have received their sanctioning approval from ARRL HQ at the time of this publication.  We have approximately 65 hamfests each year in the Great Lakes Division.  I do encourage each Hamfest Chair to register early for ARRL Sanctioning.  It is never too early to register your hamfest with Headquarters.  Be sure to invite your ARRL Officials as soon as your date is set.  Help avoid date conflicts, do it early!

Apr 2 - Portsmouth - Portsmouth, OH
Apr 9 - Cuyahoga Falls - Cuyahoga Falls, OH 
Apr 19 - Letcher County - Whitesburg, KY 
April 23 - Jackson County - Jackson, OH 
Apr 24 - Athens - Athens, OH 
May 7 - Cadillac - Cadillac, MI 
May 14 - Chassell Hamfest - Chassel, MI 
May 20-22 - Dayton HamVention - Dayton, OH 
May 28 - Ashland - Ashland, KY

73, See you on the bands.

Dale Williams WA8EFK
Great Lakes Division