May 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/>.
2020: A HISTORIC AND MOST UNUSUAL FIELD DAY IS UPON US
Field Day—is it a contest or an emergency preparedness drill? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this debate into a sharp focus, with multitudes of people suggesting changes to make this year’s Field Day more palatable for those who want to operate from home and practice social distancing. One thing’s for certain: we’re likely to see a sizable drop-off in the number of category A stations along with an increase in both home stations using commercial power (category D) and one or two person portable stations (category B).
Various amateurs were opining to “get on the air from home and make contacts” without regard to categories or rules. “Who cares?” they said. “It’s a fun event, not a contest. Just don’t send in your logs.”
Others took strong issue with this approach, arguing that it violated the letter of the law and the spirit of the event.
But then an interesting thing happened. Following weeks of public outcry from the general ham public and pressure from some board members, the Programs & Services Committee held a special meeting on May 27 to reconsider its stance on the current rules. They voted to implement two temporary waivers for the event: for Field Day 2020 only, Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points. In addition, for 2020 only, an aggregate club score will be published, which will be the sum of all individual entries indicating a specific club (similar to the aggregate score totals used in ARRL affiliated club competitions). The ARRL Board of Directors voted to approve the changes the following day, and the results were quickly announced.
Some will argue this temporary waiver is good in that it ultimately encourages more stations to participate in Field Day, while helping to keep safe a population of hams who are older and more susceptible to COVID-19. Others contend that the changes will provide a disincentive to those who otherwise might have attempted home or portable station operation under emergency power. Only time will tell whether this one-year waiver improves—or lessens—what is inarguably ARRL’s most important operating event.
Affiliated Club Coordinator and Assistant Section Manager Bruce Blain, K1BG, writes:
“With the COVID-19 lock down and club meetings being conducted everywhere on Zoom, I’ve spent a lot of time lately making PowerPoint presentations to radio clubs. One of the more popular ones is about operating Field Day as a single operator. COVID-19 social distancing requirements almost makes single op Field Day a necessity. I’ve given this talk to the Nashoba Valley ARC, Billerica ARS, K1USN RC, and the Wellesley ARS in Eastern Massachusetts, as well as Metrocrest ARS (North TX) and the Saratoga County ARA (Eastern NY). If your club is interested, please let me know.”
HAM RADIO STORY IN THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“A close-knit culture, with separation at its core” is a story and accompanying video produced by Christian Science Monitor staff photographer Anne Hermes. It explores how Amateur Radio operators are taking COVID-19 and social distancing in stride and features interviews with Eastern MA hams. The video is excellent and portrays our hobby-service in a very positive light.
Eastern MA Public Information Coordinator Kayla Creamer, W2IRY, was instrumental in working with Ms. Hermes to identify individuals and clubs for interviews and subject material. See <https://tinyurl.com/ychd4lwt>.
REMOTE VE TESTING PICKING UP MOMENTUM
As of this writing, nearly all of the national Volunteer Examination Coordinators (VECs) have put into practice some form of online, remote VE testing. W5YI’s program started first, but ARRL is quickly catching up. The ARRL’s first remote video testing group was New England Amateur Radio, Inc. (NEAR), in Natick, which started sessions beginning in early April. NEAR, the parent organization of New England Sci-Tech, boasts some 27 VEs who conduct on average a half-dozen test sessions each week. To date, NEAR has held over 185 sessions for candidates worldwide. The ARRL VEC refers interested teams to NEAR for training prior to organizing their own online sessions. Nearly all remote exam teams use the online tools (hamstudy.org, examtools.org) created by KD7BBC in Idaho.
The ARRL VEC reports between 15-20 teams at present are able to conduct remote video sessions. Is your VE team interested in tackling online testing? If so, contact Maria Somma, AB1FM, at ARRL Hq. at firstname.lastname@example.org for a training referral.
UNDERSTANDING THE ARRL – A SERIES BEGINNING NEXT MONTH
How well do you understand the organization and operation of the ARRL? Some members know it extremely well. Many may need to consult the ARRL website.
Our newly elected ARRL First Vice President, for example, is Mike Raisbeck K1TWF, who is from our section. How does the First Vice President fit into the ARRL hierarchy? Find out next month or go now to <https://www.arrl.org>.
The goal of this monthly series will be to provide members with a concise, focused look at some aspect of ARRL.
JULY NORTHEAST HAMXPOSITION / NEW ENGLAND DIVISION CONVENTION POSTPONED TO NOVEMBER
The convention committee has decided to postpone the 2020 Northeast Hamxposition (a.k.a. “Boxboro”) to the week of November 6 through 8.
BOSTON MARATHON CANCELLED FOR 2020
The news media are reporting there will be no Boston Marathon this year. Initially the race was moved from Patriots’ Day to September 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but on May 28 the in-person event was cancelled. Instead, the City of Boston and Boston Athletic Association will work to hold the event virtually. The race had never been canceled or rescheduled in its 124-year history until this year.
The BAA (“Boston”) Marathon is one of the largest Amateur Radio public service events in the country. Approximately 350 hams, organized by the Boston Marathon Communications Committee, are assigned to the starting line in Hopkinton, buses, checkpoints along the 26.2 mile course, a remote Net Control location, and the finish line in downtown Boston.
NEW AFFILIATED CLUB SERVICE OFFERED: YOUR CLUB ON THE WEB!
We know it’s difficult to recruit and retain a webmaster for your club. In fact, some clubs’ web sites have fallen into disrepair. That’s why we’re excited to offer this new service to ARRL affiliated clubs—a hosted page on the EMA ARRL web site. The address is of the form, https://ema.arrl.org/<Your Club Name>. The pages would be maintained by our webmaster, with input from your club officers.
What would the page look like?
Questions? Contact ASM Phil Temples, K9HI, at <email@example.com>.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT RADIO CLUB?
Please visit <https://ema.arrl.org/affiliated-clubs/radio-clubs-of-yesteryear/> and send any information you might have to our Assistant Section Manager (ASM) Phil Temples, K9HI, at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Most events are cancelled due to the health emergency, but you can check for the latest information at: <http://www.arrl.org/hamfests/search/page:1/keywords:Canceled/model:Event>
NEWS FROM EMA.ARRL.ORG:
Each day on the section web site we bring you news and information from Eastern Massachusetts and beyond. Visit https://ema.arrl.org for the latest.
Here’s a brief selection of the stories from May 2020:
• Eastern Massachusetts ARES to Participate in National Red Cross Exercise and WX4NHC On-Air Test – Saturday, May 30th, 2020 https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/25/eastern-massachusetts-ares-to-participate-in-national-red-cross-exercise-and-wx4nhc-on-air-test-saturday-may-30th-2020/
• Nantucket Amateur Radio Association Web Page now on ema.arrl.org https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/24/nantucket-amateur-radio-association-web-page-now-on-ema-arrl-org/
• Northeastern University Wireless Club Special Presentations https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/24/northeastern-university-wireless-club-special-presentations/
• W1HFN Fox is QRV in Littleton https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/22/w1hfn-fox-is-qrv-in-littleton/
• K1BG: “CWOPs CW Academy” at K1USN Radio Club, May 26, 2020 https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/20/k1bg-cwops-cw-academy-at-k1usn-radio-club-may-26-2020/
• KE5AL: “JJ Flex Radio” at Zola Center Amateur Radio Club Online Meeting, May 23, 2020 https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/18/ke5al-jj-flex-radio-at-zola-center-amateur-radio-club-meeting-may-23-2020/
• KD1CY Featured on Ham Radio Live! May 7, 2020 https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/12/kd1cy-featured-on-ham-radio-live-may-7-2020/
EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS ARES
Amateur Operators Critical in Monitoring Severe Weather in Northeast Massachusetts on Friday May 15th, 2020:
SKYWARN was activated in the northeast parts of the Eastern Massachusetts section as a squall line of severe thunderstorms affected the region. SKYWARN nets were conducted on area repeaters in Northeast Massachusetts and reports relayed to the WX1BOX Amateur Radio team who operated virtually and provided the data to National Weather Service via NWS Chat and other means. Across all of Massachusetts, close to 30,000 customers lost power.
Amateur Radio SKYWARN reports and photos helped the National Weather Service in Norton identify microbursts and other concentrated areas of damage. Hardest hit areas included Pepperell, Groton and Westford where microbursts were rated at 90-100 MPH. Significant pockets of microburst-related wind damage occurred in Townsend, Chelmsford, Billerica, and Lowell. The photos provided valuable situational awareness to the National Weather Service and also, emergency management.
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Update:
Eastern Massachusetts ARES participated in a national Red Cross exercise on Saturday, May 30. Details and reports on the exercise will be posted on the Eastern Massachusetts section ARES web page at https://ema.arrl.org/ares.
The Eastern Massachusetts ARES staff met twice via teleconference in May to prepare for the Red Cross exercise and discuss better outreach to ARES members. Further details will be shared via the section web site and will include work on a section wide ARES plan, ARES training via video screen share/webinar technology and also organizational leadership changes. More will be shared on the section ARES web site over the course of June.
The first Monday of every month is a test of the Massachusetts RACES and ARES communication capabilities. The monthly ARES VHF Net is at 8:30 PM on the MMRA Repeater system.
To see all the recent news on Eastern Massachusetts ARES please visit <https://ema.arrl.org/category/emcomm/>. This site is constantly maintained with the latest happenings by our EMA SEC, Rob, KD1CY.
If you are interested in joining Eastern Massachusetts ARES, visit <https://secure1.ema.arrl.org/qilan/ares/EMA/ARES_about>.
To find out more about EMA ARES visit <https://ema.arrl.org/ares/>.
EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS NTS
Section Traffic Manager (STM), Marcia KW1U
The April section traffic manager report may be viewed at <https://ema.arrl.org/2020/05/13/massachusetts-traffic-report-for-april-2020/>
This report lists all the PSHR and BPL recognitions for the month and details the very extensive level of NTS activity across the state.
Find the list of all NTS daily nets in Massachusetts here: <https://ema.arrl.org/national-traffic-system/net-schedule/>.
To see more news on Eastern Massachusetts Traffic Handling and Nets visit <https://ema.arrl.org/category/nts/>.
FIRST REGION NET (1RN) REPORT (CW)
Eric, W1RVY, is manager of 1RN Cycle 4, the evening CW net. Eric reports the April net had 60 sessions that handled a total of 112 pieces of traffic and a total of 206 check-ins for the month.
FIRST REGION NET (FRN) REPORT (SSB)
Betsey, K1EIC, manager of FRN, the daytime phone net reports the April net had 60 sessions that handled a total of 101 pieces of traffic and a total of 337 check-ins for the month.
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June means ARRL Field Day.
Let’s give great support in Eastern Massachusetts to this year’s most unusual Field Day.
This May 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