“The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio”

photo of aj7m operating a radioFrom IEEE Spectrum, July 10, 2020:

Will the amateur airwaves fall silent? Since the dawn of radio, amateur operators—hams—have transmitted on tenaciously guarded slices of spectrum. Electronic engineering has benefited tremendously from their activity, from the level of the individual engineer to the entire field. But the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, with its ability to easily connect billions of people, captured the attention of many potential hams. Now, with time taking its toll on the ranks of operators, new technologies offer opportunities to revitalize amateur radio, even if in a form that previous generations might not recognize. [Full story]



QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo 2020, August 8-9, 2020

QSOTodayHamExpo logoWe are reaching out to let you know that despite the closure of all ham radio events, there is a great opportunity to join your fellow hams and us at the first ever QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo on Saturday and Sunday, August 8 – 9, 2020. Attendance is free and registration is now open at

https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/ with early bird prize incentives for registering by July 24, 2020.

Built on a live, virtual reality platform used by Fortune 500 companies and major universities, this ARRL-sanctioned hamfest will let you:

  • Learn from a packed line-up of 70+ world renowned ham radio speakers such as Ward Silver, N0AX, on Grounding and Bonding; Glen Johnson, W0GJ, on DXpeditions, and John Portune, W6NBC, on building slot antennas for HOA. 
  • See demos of the latest ham radio equipment from the world’s top equipment companies.  You can easily ask questions and engage with Exhibitors through video, audio, or chat. (Note: CQ is an Exhibitor!)
  • Share ideas and network with your fellow ham radio operators throughout the Expo.

And if you’ve never been to a Hamfest or Expo, you can participate from the convenience of your home or office without spending a dime on travel!

This platform simulates a full convention experience with an exhibit hall and exhibit booths staffed by live attendants, speaker auditorium, lobby, and lounges.  

Icom is the Expo’s Platinum Sponsor, along with Gold Sponsors GigaParts, RT Systems, FlexRadio, RFinder, DX Engineering, Elecraft, RigExpert, and NCG Company (Comet Antenna).

Go to https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/  to learn more – get registered by July 24th! We look forward to having you join us at Expo for an amazing and engaging experience.

Eastern MA Traffic Handlers Enjoying Field Day 2020

Joe Thomas, WB1EMS, reports a group of 20 hams from the South Shore area participated in Field Day at Great Hill in Weymouth overlooking Boston Harbor. Many of this group have been regular participants on the East Mass Two Meter Net on the Boston 145.23 repeater. Mike, K1UVH, was the event coordinator putting much of the setup together along with Peter, KC1HHO and Scott, N1KMX. Other EM2MN regulars included: Bernie, KC1MSN; Chet, KB1NZZ; and Alex, KC1NBT.

The group operated simplex, repeaters, two-meters, HF, six-meters, digital, packet, and APRS. Joe reports that N1KMX made 45 contacts via simplex contacting local stations and stations in Maine, New Hampshire, the Blue Hill Weather Observatory, and several mobile contacts, including a mobile aeronautical station aboard a US Coast Guard helicopter!

Joe says a fun day was had by all and they hope to do it again soon.  –Marcia Forde, KW1U

Eastern Massachusetts ARES Net – Monday July 6th 2020 at 830 PM EDT

Hello to all…

The July Eastern Massachusetts ARES section net will be Monday July 6th, 2020 at 830 PM on the MMRA Repeater system.

For frequencies that will be linked into the ARES Net on the MMRA Network, please see the following link from the MMRA web site detailing the repeaters that will be linked in through Hub 1:


We look forward to your participation and remember, we are always looking for Net Controls to run the ARES Net. For tonight’s ARES Net, we will do a brief review of severe weather events that have affected the section particularly in the last week and provide a brief COVID-19-Update as we continue to monitor this health emergency from a communications needs perspective and what you can do as ARES volunteers or general Amateur Radio Operators during this health emergency to prepare for any communications issues during this time. A link to a document that we had created for ARES awareness in April 2020 is available at the following link:


A reminder that a report on the Eastern Massachusetts ARES exercise will be available by Monday July 13th 2020 and will be posted via email and on the Eastern Massachusetts ARES Web Site at https://ema.arrl.org/ares. Thanks for your continued support of ARES!

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 508-346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: rmacedo@rcn.com
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MARS Announces HF Skills Exercise, July 20-24, 2020

From ARRL Web:

Members of the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) will conduct an HF skills exercise July 20 – 24 to hone their operating skills and messaging-handling capabilities.

MARS members will be reaching out to the amateur radio community via the 60-meters Channel 1 Net (5330.5 kHz dial) twice a day, the SATERN HF net (14.265 MHz), and by contacting various stations via HFLink throughout the exercise. MARS members will be requesting assistance with collecting county status information as well as airport weather information, called METARs. MARS members will also be passing ICS 213 messages to numerous Department of Defense (DoD), federal, and amateur radio addressees.

This exercise will be announced via WWV at 00:10 and via WWVH at 00:50 starting on or about July 13. WWV and WWVH listeners will be asked to take an online listener survey. This HF radio training event will not impact regular communications. — Thanks to Paul English, Chief, Army MARS 

July Eastern MA Hospital Net Cancelled Due to Independence Day Holiday

John O’Neill-K1JRO writes:

Good Evening Everyone,

My apologies for the very late note.

Where the first Saturday of July is holiday, we will not have a Net this month. We will have a Net in August. A notice will be sent out about the August Net well in advance.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun 4th.


John O’ – K1JRO

South Shore Health Amateur Radio Group – W1SSH
55 Fogg Road, Box 42
South Weymouth, MA 02190

W1 QSL Card Sorting Session Cancelled, August 13, 2020

assorted QSL cardsEric Williams, KV1J, writes on the Algonquin Amateur Radio Club mailing list:

Hope all are well.

I am cancelling our QSL sort session that was scheduled for August 13, 2020.

Two reasons: one, of course, is the current virus situation.  The Fire Station is not available and our work is not “Essential.” The other reason is with the worldwide precautions, we are not receiving the boxes from the countries.  So at this point that are not enough cards to sort.  It may be that the mail embargoes will be released and we’ll get a surge of cards at some point.  So maybe we can have a smaller scale session later in the summer.

Thank you to the club for your past support of the W1 QSL Bureau and look forward to our future sorting events.


Eric  KV1J
W1 QSL Bureau Co-Manager

Power Line Noise Resource at National Grid

John Salmi, KB1MGI, writes on the PART of Westford mailing list:

I have had a S-9+ power line noise on my VHF beams on 2 meters and 6 meters along with my HF vertical antenna during the dry spells this spring and summer. When it rained the noise reduced or stopped all together. I traced it down to a pole 200 feet from my QTH.

I called National Grid a week or so ago about the issue. This morning a National Grid Senior Engineer from the Engineering Laboratory NE Lab & Testing services from Worcester stopped by.  The first thing he said was, I wish it did not rain this morning.
I invited him into the shack and there was no noise. He said he went to the pole in question and could not pick up the noise, either.
He was going to send out a crew to check the connections and replace fuses, etc. He said they run into these issues from hams and knows what causes the noise on the radios.
I got his card and will call him in two weeks to see if the noise is gone. 

New Amateur Extra Class License Manual and Extra Q&A Now Available

ARRL logoFrom ARRL Web:

Go all the way to the top! ARRL has everything you need to pass the Amateur Extra Class license exam with confidence.

The ARRL Extra Class License Manual for Ham Radio is your ticket to every privilege granted to amateur radio operators — all frequencies, operating modes, and power levels. It has all the questions and answers, with detailed explanations, for examinations taken between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2024.

Use this book with ARRL Exam Review for Ham Radio online to review the material. You can even take practice exams, so there are no surprises on exam day!

When you’ve successfully passed the exam, The ARRL Extra Class License Manual will serve as your reference as you explore your new privileges!

If you’re looking for a more direct route to studying for the exam, ARRL’s Extra Q&A contains all exam questions and the answers.

To upgrade to Amateur Extra, you must already hold a General class license (or have recently passed all of the exam elements required for a General license).

The ARRL Extra Class License Manual new 12th edition spiral bound (ARRL Item No. 1311, ISBN: 978-1-62595-131-1, $32.95 retail) and ARRL’s Extra Q&A new 5th edition (ARRL Item No. 1335, ISBN: 978-1-62595-133-5, $19.95 retail) are now shipping. Order from the ARRL Store, or find an ARRL publications dealer; For additional questions or ordering, call 860-594-0355 (toll-free in the US, 888-277-5289). Both The ARRL Extra Class License Manual and ARRL’s Extra Q&A are available as an e-book for the Amazon Kindle. 


Falmouth Amateur Radio Association Resumes In-Person VE testing

Falmouth Amateur Radio AssociationThe Falmouth Amateur Radio Association has announced that its Volunteer Examination team has resumed in-person test sessions.

According to the Falmouth ARA website: “Lee Thomas, NQ1L, FARA’s [VE team coordinator] has arranged for the use of a facility that allows for proper social distancing.   Examinations are now available on the second Saturday of the month by reservation only.  Contact Lee Thomas at NQ1L38 at gmail.com to schedule an examination.”

FCC Settles With Two Beantown Radio Pirates

FCC seal(Radio World) – The Federal Communications Commission says it reached a settlement with two operators of pirate radio stations in the Boston area.

It said Acerome Jean Charles and Gerlens Cesar admit fault, will pay fines and agreed to 20-year compliance commitments. And they’ll dispose of their radio equipment.

It’s an unexpected development. In December the FCC issued notices of apparent liability to the men for operating Radio Concorde and Radio TeleBoston, respectively.

“The Enforcement Bureau negotiated the two Consent Decrees, which provide for a strict compliance plan over a period of 20 years to prevent Jean Charles and Cesar from ever resuming unlicensed broadcasting,” the commission announced. [Full story]

New Amateur Extra License Class Question Pool Goes Into Effect July 1, 2020

The new 2020 – 2024 Amateur Extra­ class (Element 4) question pool takes effect on July 1, 2020. The new question pool incorporates significant changes compared to the 2016 – 2020 question pool (expiration date: June 30, 2020).

The number of questions in the pool is reduced from 712 to 622. This results in 239 modified questions, 49 new questions, and the removal of 139 outdated questions. Areas of new technology and subjects were added. The 2020 pool has 10 diagrams, which have been renumbered,

It’s important to note that question E3B08 was withdrawn from the new pool and may not be used on exams.
Questions in that section were not renumbered, leaving 11 questions.

-Thanks, Bob Kelley, K1KVV, semara.org

NEAR-Fest XXVIII October 16 & 17, 2020 Is Cancelled

NEAR-Fest logoMichael Crestohl, W1RC, writes:

You may have already know that the Deerfield Fair Association voted reluctantly but overwhelmingly to cancel the 2020 Fair at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020. Ben, KB1NZN, and I are members.  We were at the meeting and voted for cancellation.  We both totally agree with the decision of the Deerfield Fair Association membership who voted 105 to 5 in favor of cancelling the Fair.   There was not one good reason put forth during the discussion in favor of holding thenFair this year.

Especially in these unprecedented times our first responsibility must be to the health and well-being of our volunteer staff, exhibitors, attendees, fairgrounds staff and the local area residents who graciously welcome us twice a year to their community.  We cannot betray this trust.

Furthermore there is no possible way we can realistically maintain the six foot “social distancing” separation especially in the flea market, commercial buildings, forums and VE examination rooms.  This is required whenever possible by the NH Governor’s Special Covid-19 Task Force.

Consequently, as a result, we have no option but to cancel NEAR-Fest XXVIII.   

However the good news is that NEAR-Fest XXIX is already scheduled for Friday, April 30th and Saturday, May 1st, 2021 and NEAR-Fest XXX for October 12th and 13th, 2021.

The clubs and organizations who sent in their application for early entry privileges in 2020 need not reapply.  Your passes will be issued next year and valid for both 2021 hamfests.

We will be selling advance tickets starting in the Fall.  For advance ticket buyers the cost of admission will remain at $10.00 per person.   However starting next Spring the price of admission at the gate will be $15.00. Inside parking and camping fees will remain the same.  I will send you additional information about advance ticket sales shortly.

Please disseminate this information to your members.  Since it is coming from me it is official.


Michael Crestohl, aka “MisterMike”, W1RC
Benevolent Dictator,
New England Amateur Radio Festival, Inc.