July 2020: EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS (EMA) SECTION NEWS
Welcome to the Eastern Massachusetts ARRL section newsletter
To see all the monthly news, which is updated regularly, visit <https://ema.arrl.org/>.
AMATEURS ADAPT to COVID REMOTE VE TESTING
There is no question that the current COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted how we go about participating in our hobby-service. Social distancing and restrictions on indoor gatherings have caused us to curtail club meetings, picnics, breakfasts—even volunteer examinations. Fortunately, Zoom and other online conference tools have helped to fill the void.
The New England Sci-Tech Volunteer Examiner (VE) team, along with other teams across the country, have been successfully conducting remote examinations now for many months. Team leader Bob Phinney, K5TEC, began a series of trials on April 1, 2020, under ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) review. He and other VE teams now provide ARRL approved video-supervised test sessions almost every day of the week. Bob’s team has also successfully trained other ARRL VEC-sponsored teams across the country and worked with the software developer of Exam.tools and HamStudy.org, to help them streamline the system for video-supervised testing.
At the moment only one person at a time can be tested, which limits the number of candidates and adds significant time to the VE team’s schedule. An additional time issue is how long it takes a candidate to go through the security protocol involving video-checking the candidate’s work area and room, reading the protocols, and getting the electronic surveillance set correctly. Sometimes the setup for an exam takes longer than the exam itself, in order to provide complete integrity of the exam session.
ARRL VEC-sponsored teams require the use of at least two video cameras—one, to monitor the examinee’s eyes to ensure attention stays focused on the test; the other, to watch the person’s hands on the keyboard. Additionally, audio must be turned on to confirm that no one is speaking in the presence of the test taker. Also, no one else may be present in the room. (Not surprisingly, the vast majority of tests are conducted in the bathroom!) Full screen sharing via Zoom ensures that no other applications are running on the computer during the exam. Finally, the sessions are recorded and kept for thirty days in case there are any questions about the integrity of the test session.
How has it worked? Surprisingly well. I can report that, as with any in-person exam session, there is a strong rapport between examiners and examinee. The moment after the test is graded when the results are posted is equally gratifying. There is no mistaking that big smile of relief and the “thanks” are equally profuse—despite the fact that all parties might be separated by thousands of miles.
ARRL was not the first VEC to embrace remote testing, but they have implemented the best version—one carefully thought-out and well-designed and goes far in safeguarding the integrity of the licensing process. It is one that we can all be proud of.
–Phil Temples, K9HI
ARRL HELD A JULY BOARD MEETING!
The ARRL Board held a virtual one-day meeting on Friday July 17. There was little advance publicity from ARRL.
The ARRL issued a high level summary of the Board meeting which is found at <http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-board-meets-in-remote-electronic-meeting>. Some highlights include discussion of a final HF Band Plan, work on hiring an Emergency Management Director, and other matters. Until the minutes are published, few details other than this ARRL summary exist. There was no advance preparatory meeting held by the New England (NE) Division Director, Fred Hopengarten K1VR, with NE ARRL section staff and NE club presidents.
Sometimes, other Division Directors may distribute information too. For example, here is an interesting video describing the July Board meeting, “ARRL Holds a Board meeting on Zoom”, from Ria Jiaram, N2RJ, Hudson Division Director: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SpLeNX3tA8>
— Tom Walsh, K1TW
This the first in a series aimed at improving awareness of the ARRL as a member organization; the benefits members can access; and what ARRL does every day to strengthen Amateur Radio.
The ARRL Annual Report is Well Worth Looking at Every Year
In the simplest terms, this is how the 2018 ARRL Annual Report describes the ARRL:
“The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for Amateur Radio in the US. Today, with over 156,800 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the world.
Our mission is simple: “To advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.”
If you have never seen or read the Annual Report, you are missing a lot of great information.
The first half is an easy read with many great articles. Every Annual Report highlights the accomplishments over the past year. There are some interesting articles in the 2018 report, such as: The Presidents’ Message, The Year in Review, and lots of shorter articles about emergency communications, operating actives, and licensing.
The second half of the Annual Report tends to focus on the required financial and auditors’ details.
Find the 2018 Annual report at: <http://www.arrl.org/files/file/About%20ARRL/Annual%20Reports/2018%20ARRL%20Annual%20Report.pdf>.
You can see all the latest reports at <http://www.arrl.org/annual-reports>.
Take Advantage of the ARRL Email Newsletters
Times change and so does ARRL. For decades, joining ARRL meant simply receiving QST every month. But a single publication cannot truly represent the diversity of such a large membership. So over time ARRL introduced many newsletters dedicated to different audiences. Today, we can sign up for many specialty publications, such as:
- The weekly ARRL Letter
- The bi-weekly ARRL Contest Update
- The monthly ARES E-Letter
- News from your Division Director and Section Manager
- W1AW Bulletins (e.g., weekly propagation forecast, DX, and other
At minimum, I hope you subscribe to “News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager.”
To sign up for this and more, go to ARRL.org and login. Then select “Edit your Profile” and then select “Edit your subscriptions.” Then select what is of interest to you.
Take Advantage of all ARRL Magazines Included in Your Membership
Today members can select to receive either “QST” or “On-The-Air” by mail. But you can also view four ARRL publications (i.e., QST, On-The-Air, QEX, and NCJ) in digital format online without any additional cost as a member. ARRL has eliminated the separate subscription costs for both QEX and NCJ. QEX features technical articles while NCJ contains articles and information about contesting. I personally think this is an excellent move by ARRL to make all these magazines available with membership. How to see them? Go to http://www.arrl.org/qst and in the left menu choose what you wish to read.
ARRL DIVISIONS – A Gold Mine of Nationwide Information
I like to start my visits to clubs with a simple question “How many ARRL divisions and sections are there?” Do you know?
Too often we only think about our local environment; our home station; our ham club; our city or town; our state; or our call area which happens to also define our New England Division. Do you ever wonder what ham radio is like in a different section, or a different division?
I’ll bet your local club has (or at least should have) a very friendly welcoming web site that tells the world who they are! We have some outstanding club pages here in Eastern Massachusetts.
Most sections and divisions have great web pages, too—like Eastern Massachusetts (EMA) at https://ema.arrl.org.
How do we find the gems outside our area and see what’s happening elsewhere? It’s not as hard as you think. There is a wonderful page on the ARRL web site that will introduce you to the world of sections and divisions. Visit http://www.arrl.org/divisions.
Go to this site and click on each division and explore.
– After first clicking on http://www.arrl.org/divisions
– Scroll down to where you see this text: “For your convenience, we have included direct links to the individual division web sites.”
– Scroll a little more and click the division name yet again and you will be taken to the division web site (if they have one – most do)
– Some of the divisions then have further links to their section websites. I think this page is so cool. I hope you will too.
Send me feedback
If you find a great division web site, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If enough folks respond, I’ll include in next newsletter the most popular division site based on our small world sample.
— Tom Walsh, K1TW
I am happy this month to be able to include details on the August Eastern Massachusetts Hospital Net. Sometimes the announcement doesn’t make the section news distribution deadline but this month it does. Thanks to K1JRO for the data.
— Tom Walsh, K1TW
The August 1,2020 Eastern MA Hospital Net will operate from the Mansfield Emergency Management Agency and the Net Control Operator will be Bob/WB1GON.
The Net will commence as usual at 10 AM.
He will use the following repeaters in the order listed, followed by a simplex test on 147.420, and then return to the Mansfield Repeater for Net closing.
Mansfield 147.015 / tone 67
Bridgewater 147.180 / tone 67
Attleboro 147.195 / tone 127.3
— John O’ – K1JRO
This section news has been jointly produced by Phil, K9HI, Assistant Section Manager and Tom, K1TW, Section Manager.
ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section
Section Manager: Thomas D Walsh, K1TW