Friday, June 3, 2016

Dale's Tales for June

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

AMATEUR RADIO PARITY ACT:  Last week, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology received a letter from Community Associations Institute (CAI) supporting the Amateur Radio Parity Act.

Our Legislative Action Team has been working extensively with CAI and staff from the House of Representatives to reach this agreement. This action is a vital step in gaining support from Homeowners' Associations as CAI is the national advocate for those groups.  Having this agreement is a positive step in securing passage of the Bill in the House of Representatives and improves the likelihood of similar action in the Senate.

You can find the latest 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: ARRL, Attn: Amateur Radio Parity Act grassroots campaign, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111.  Our Legislative Action Team will hand deliver the letters, thus avoiding delays caused by the postal inspection system in DC.

DAYTON: From my perspective the Hamvention® went very well this year.

As your Director, I spend much of my time at ARRL Expo to meet and greet as many Great Lakes Division hams as I possibly can.  It is an important part of my commitment to the hams in the Great Lakes Division to be available to discuss your concerns about ham radio and then do what I can to help make any necessary changes.  While doing this, I always wish I could get to more of the Dayton forums, there were a number of them this year that really were in my areas of interest.  Perhaps in 2017. 

I did have the pleasure of moderating the ARRL Forum this year and was pleased that we could include comments from several members of ARRL's new leadership team.  I think it is important that our members have a good handle on who does what in the organization, and the Forum is a wonderful opportunity to hear from the folks who make some of the key decision on our behalf.  This year we welcomed International Vice President Jay Bellows K0QB, Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky N5ZGT, First Vice President Greg Widin K0GW, CEO Tom Gallagher NY2RF, and President Rick Roderick K5UR.

While we commonly think of these folks as the "leaders" of ham radio, it is clear that the true leaders are those such as yourself who constitute the real leadership of amateur radio.  As you read this column, I remind you that you play a critically important part in the future of this hobby.  You are active, interested, and concerned about the amateur radio.  You are a most significant part of the leadership of ham radio.  How this all plays out in the coming years absolutely depends on how you and I act today.   We emphasized this fact at the ARRL Forum in Dayton and encouraged everyone to "do something positive for amateur radio" that very day.  And then, continue to do at least one positive thing for the hobby each week while encouraging others to do the same.  Just do it. 

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

I’m a pretty optimistic person, both in general, and especially about the future of ham radio.  Of course there are some signs that don’t point to a good future, but there are just as many or more that seem to indicate that ham radio will be just fine in the coming years.  The Dayton Hamvention® is always a good barometer of what is happening and what will happen.  And other events and experiences this month have also given me good reason for hope.

Whatever your particular experiences at Dayton, it’s hard to ignore how much enthusiasm there is during the weekend.  Maybe the crowds were down a bit.  Or maybe not.  There were a lot of innovative products on the market, and people were certainly in a buying mood, from all reports.  And the experiences I had in the ARRL Expo were of people talking about possibilities, of training, of new projects.  There was the individual who spoke of trying to revitalize the radio club in his area.  There was the couple, not licensed, who came to the Hamvention to learn about ham radio and find out how to get their licenses.  And of course, there was the Youth Forum, where many young people learned more about the hobby and what new things they could do with it.

Apart from the Hamvention, there were the club meetings this month where people are trying new things and sharing their experiences. Speaking of licenses, I met a ten-year-old at a club meeting who is very close to getting his license.  Once he does, he’ll be an enthusiastic ham for many years to come!  And beyond regular club meetings, I attended a “tech night” not held on the regular meeting night, where hams were sharing knowledge about the latest in digital technology. 

I read about radio operators in the disaster areas of this country helping with emergency communications.  And public service work continues, as the weather warms and the runs, walks, rides and parades all take place with many ham clubs there for support.

One last note about the future.  More and more of us are turning to “social media” to share our experiences.  Far from substituting for radio, its use is enhancing radio.  The popularity of National Parks on the Air is one example.  How many of you have used Facebook to find out when an activation is taking place?  And news of local events, meetings, gatherings, as well as things of national interest from ARRL are out there on Facebook and Twitter.  That’s where the younger people are, and that’s where we’re trying to help them find us.

Our new ARRL President, Rick, K5UR, urged us all to go out and do something for ham radio.  In that spirit, I’d also like to encourage everyone to do something good for ham radio.  Summer is a perfect time for helping a new person with an antenna.  But not just a new person.  Maybe a ham you know hasn’t been active in a while.  See about helping them get back on the air.  Or, as Rick said, just get on the air.  That in itself will do a lot to keeping ham radio alive and well.

73, Tom W8WTD Vice Director, Great Lakes Division

ARRL SANCTIONED HAMFESTS:  Here is the current Great Lakes Division ARRL Sanctioned Hamfest Schedule covering 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!

June 4 - Fulton County - Tedrow, OH
June 4 - Princeton Hamfest - Princeton, KY
June 5 - Chelsea Hamfest - Chelsea, MI
June 5 - NOTE: Portage, OH Hamfair - CANCELLED FOR 2016
June 11 - Luce County - Newberry, MI
June 18 - Midland Hamfest - Midland, MI
June 18 - Milford Hamfest - Milford, OH
June 19 - Monroe Hamfest - Monroe, MI
July 10 - 20/9 Tailgate - Austintown, OH
July 16 - GMARC Trunk Swap - Shelby Twp., MI
July 16 - NOARS Fest - Elyria, OH
July 17 - Van Wert - Van Wert, OH
July 30 - Big Sandy - Louisa, KY
July 30 - CMARC Outdoor - Lansing, MI

A LITTLE OFF THE WALL -  THE UNEXPECTED SCIENCE EXPERIMENT.  I have a tower located about 6 feet from the house.  My antenna transmission lines run via messenger cable from the tower to the soffit and then inside to the ham shack.  I can see this cable run clearly from the shack window.  One morning, I glanced out and saw a glint of bare copper on one coax line.  Visible braid!!  I went outside and up the tower, only to find little teeth marks on the cable jackets. Yes, jackets, as three cables had the braid exposed.  So out comes the silicone waterproofing and a lotta tape to do the necessary repairs, still not knowing what varmint had done the damage. 

An hour later, I spotted a grey squirrel climb the tower, traipse across the cable bundle, pause for a late morning snack of PVC and hurry on his way to bother someone else.  Aside from squirrelcide, which would have its own set of problems, it just seemed a protective cover for the cables would be the best solution.  Running the cables through a 3 inch Schedule 40 pipe looked pretty reasonable, that is, except for the mechanical problems of actually snaking 9 cables with connectors through the pipe. 

Splitting the pipe to make a "roof", then covering it with some black semi-gloss just appeared to be the best solution.  A quick run across the table saw to split the tube should be simple enough.  After all, I have a long fence on the saw and all the safety equipment to insure a straight run and no twisting, while keeping all my digits.  The plywood blade in the saw should make a very clean cut.  Onward!  It is only a 6 foot pipe. 

Two feet into the cut, I began to hear a lot of strange snapping sounds and then I noticed that all the hair on my arms was standing up.  I look behind me to see the plastic chips from the saw cut shooting out of the end of the tube at about 80 miles an hour, dust collection system be darned.  Let's see, insulated particles shooting down an insulated tube; OMG!  I have a Van de Graaff generator running in my hands and everything is now charged to some absurd voltage level with static electricity.

I hit the power switch and watched as the saw slowed to a stop and the few remaining plastic chips hit the wall.  They were all there, hanging on the wall, in kind of a big ugly clump.  Then the chips began scattering...the like-electrical charges of the chips began to repel each other; the spot on the wall was growing like some beast from a "B" Sci-fi flick. It finally reached about a 2 foot diameter and then began to collapse onto the floor.  What fun! 

After vacuuming the wall, the floor and me, I decided that next time, I will give serious consideration to the fine qualities of a hand saw. Oh, the "roof" works very well, and I think the squirrel has finally lost his taste for coax cable.

73, See you on the bands, (squirrels permitting).

Dale Williams WA8EFK

Great Lakes Division