Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dale's Tales for November

Greetings everyone, welcome to "Dale's Tales" for November 2017

CONGRATULATIONS go out to all of the Great Lakes Division award winners announced at GL HamCon.   ARRL President Rick Roderick K5UR attended and presented former ARRL Director Jim Weaver K8JE with the George S. Wilson W4OYI Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of outstanding service to amateur radio.  

Stan Broadway N8BHL received the Great Lakes Division Amateur of the Year Award.  Christopher Brault KD8YVJ was named the Great Lakes Young Amateur of the Year.  The Great Lakes Technical Achievement Award was presented to Bob Dixon W8ERD while the Portage County (OH) Amateur Radio Assn, received the Joe Phillips K8QOE Newsletter Award.   All of these awards are presented bi-annually at our Division Conventions and the winners are selected from nominations offered by the general membership.

THE BANDS seem to be holding their own, CQ-WW is running in the background as I am writing
this and the activity sounds reasonably good on all bands.  We'll see what the scores bring in, but it is nice to hear all of the activity.  November Sweepstakes is coming soon (Nov 4-6 CW and 18-20 phone) and those seems to be the traditional favorites for many hams in the Great Lakes Division.  Let's all hope that every Section is back on the air for SS and the opportunities are there for a clean sweep.  Club and contesters alike, this may be a great time to introduce contesting to some of our newer club members.  Have at it.

NOW THAT the cooler weather has settled in, for some strange reason, my mind rolls around to antennas and all of the antenna projects I have put off doing all summer.   It is crunch time, time to get the postponed maintenance done, and time to put up the sloper I have been putting off
for an excessively long time.   Time to prune the birch tree that is invading the air space near the tri-bander.   Time to find out why the VSWR on the UHF vertical is a little high.  And here I go, attempting to demonstrate again, that blizzard-borne antenna installations, held together with bailing wire, duct tape and bubble gum are the best working ether-grabbers. 

My thanks to a couple of friends who stopped by to assist in a rotor repair a couple of weeks ago.  At the very least, that project is complete and I can target a couple of others before bringing out the BW, DT and BG.  Interestingly, I thought I was the only ham that does this. 

Surprisingly, I found several others in the final planning stages of mid-fall antenna jobs.   Hmmm, it must be something caused by the cooler fall weather.  It just couldn't be procrastination - never that.

GL HAMCON: This was the first ham radio event to be held at Michigan International Speedway. 
What a venue!  The HamCon team, 21 regional ham clubs, went over the top to make this a successful effort.   The reviews were glowing and importantly, the booking requests for space at the 2018 HamCon are already arriving.   Larry WB8R reports the 2018 dates are October 6 & 7.  Will there be some things done differently?  Most certainly.  This was a very large venue, the first effort and anyone's expectations for absolute perfection might be a little high.  The sponsoring clubs that make up the Great Lakes Amateur Radio Assn., have offered their ideas and input for next year's effort, noting it is resoundingly positive, resolute in optimism and loaded with excitement for the future.  It'll be Great in 2-0-1-8.

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

Even though it’s the end of October, the highlight of the month had to be the Great Lakes HamCon, held on the first weekend in October.

Congratulations to all the organizers, and especially to the coalition of Michigan clubs who got together to sponsor the event.  Great venue, excellent forums, and lots of people!  Looking forward to next year already.

Along with my travel to Michigan, this month included a lot of travel, most of it personal.  The following reflection is not new, and not un-noticed by others.  It’s just to note the continuing trend of non-use of two-meter repeaters, pretty much across the country.  I notice it when I’m home.  I monitor the club repeater, and try to answer any call I hear.  And I don’t hear anyone, club member or traveler, calling.

It’s the same when I’m on the road.  State by state, city by city, a call on a local repeater produces only the ID.  No QSOs.  Where is everyone?

Of course, it’s not the same as in the 1970s or 1980s.  If I come across a road emergency, or have trouble myself, 911 is now the best and quickest solution.  It was great that we hams stepped up when there were no such things as cell phones, and we were there with communications when it counted.  We’re better off now than we were, and we did a great service for the community.  So naturally, with less need, fewer people monitor.  But did we turn off our VHF radios for good?  Yes, there are nets, and some of them are well-attended.  But is once a week for a half hour good enough?

We are tying up a lot of spectrum on 144-148 MHz.  Are we making good use of it?  If you put a meter on your club repeater, to measure how often the repeater comes on the air (exclusive of announcements) you won’t find that it gets a lot of use.  There are exceptions, of course.  By and large, though, we’re letting a good resource go unused.

If there’s a solution, it’s not one that requires a big change. It’s just a matter of individuals deciding that it’s worth making a contact or two a day on the local repeater.  When you’re doing a project at your workbench, do you have a scanner or your VHF/UHF rig on? Or if you’re in your car, does the music drown out the repeater (assuming that the rig might even be on)? 

I like operating HF and various other modes besides FM.  But the local repeaters are the easiest and quickest ways to make contacts, and sometimes provide as much interest as any other mode.  What do you say? If I key up your club’s repeater while I’m driving by, will you be there?

73, Tom W8WTD Vice Director, Great Lakes Division

HAMFESTING:  We have approximately 65 ARRL hamfests each year in the Division.  I do encourage each Hamfest Chair to register early for ARRL Sanctioning.  Be sure to invite your ARRL Officials as soon as your date is set.  Here is the current Great Lakes Division ARRL Sanctioned Hamfest Schedule covering the next couple of months.  These swaps have received their sanctioning approval from ARRL HQ at the time of this publication. 

11/4/17                Grant ARC Hamfest         Georgetown, OH
12/2/17                Fulton County                   Delta, OH
12/3/17                Lanse Creuse                     Madison Heights, MI
1/14/17                SCARF Hamfest                 Nelsonville, OH
1/28/17                Hazel Park Hamfest         Madison Heights, MI
2/3/17                  HARA Hamfest                  Negaunee, MI
2/1/17                  Cherryland Hamfest        Traverse City, MI
2/18/17                InterCity Hamfest            Mansfield, OH
2/18/17                Livonia Hamfest               Livonia, MI                        

Be sure to check your Section's news pages for the latest local happenings, club and net information.

73, Let's be radio-active.  I like Tom's request, we need to get back to actually using our repeaters!

Dale Williams WA8EFK

Great Lakes Division