ARRL needs to improve their support for clubs

Often, when you hear ARRL officials speak, they extol the virtues of amateur radio clubs, saying things like, “Clubs are the lifeblood of amateur radio.” For example, Dale Williams, WA8EFK, in response to my e-mail congratulating him on his appointment as the new ARRL Great Lakes Division director, said that his “plans are to push to keep things local, club-related, and bottom-up driven.”

Of course, that kind of set me off. When it comes to club support, the ARRL is more talk than action.

One example of this lack of support is that there hasn’t been an issue of the ARRL Club News newsletter for years. Even so, if you log into the ARRL website and look at your e-mail subscriptions page, you’ll see that it says that it’s supposed to be a monthly newsletter.

I’ll also note that the ARRL CEO Harold Kramer, WJ1B,left this particular newsletter off the list of available newsletters in his June QST column. I don’t know who at HQ is responsible for producing this newsletter, but the fact that there hasn’t been one for so long speaks volumes to me.

arrow-logo-150wAnother example is the club commission program. Under this program, clubs get a $15 commission when they sign up a new member. That’s not bad, but the commission falls to only $2 for renewing members. According to a former treasurer of ARROW, my club here in Ann Arbor, MI, $2 just wasn’t enough to make it worth his while to process renewals.

To be fair, it’s not all bad news. The ARRL website does have a page with information on how to set up and run an active club (http://www.arrl.org/affiliated-club-resources). The ARRL also has a club liability insurance program is a decent deal for clubs, but that program probably doesn’t require much effort on the ARRL’s part. The ARRL is also supposed to refer new hams to clubs, but I’m not sure exactly how they do that, and I don’t think ARROW’s gained any new members from this recently.

Let me ask you. Is your club getting the support it needs from the ARRL? If so, I’d like to hear about what you think they’re doing right. If not, I’d like to know what you think they should be doing to help your club.

—————-

This is a version of my July newsletter column. So, if you think you seen this before, you may have. Sorry, Dan

 

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Next one-day Tech class, Saturday, September 27, 2014

My next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 221 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, MI. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class, but the fee will be waived for anyone under the age of 18. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you would like to take this class, send a check or money order to reserve your spot to:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
1325 Orkney Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

You can also pay by sending money via PayPal to cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

Prospective students should download the study guide IMMEDIATELY. Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before coming to class. Studying beforehand greatly increase the chances that you’ll pass the test.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me.

Get an FRN!

Richard, KD7BBC, recently posted this to the HamRadioHelpGroup Yahoo Group:

It consistently surprises me how many people aren’t aware that instead of giving the VE team your SSN you can get an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and give it to them.

To try to help combat this, I have written up a blog post with images to help people get an FRN number.

http://blog.hamstudy.org/2014/07/fcc-registration-numbers/

I *strongly* recommend that anyone planning to take an exam get an FRN before going to the exam session; it’s not that you can’t trust the VE team, it’s more that it’s not a good idea to have that kind of personal information floating around anywhere, and likely the VE team would rather not have to deal with it either.

I agree with him. Before you take the Tech test, get an FRN and give that to the VE team.

Two hams busted for 14.313 MHz activities

FCC LogoIf you operate 20m phone at all, you probably avoid 14.313 MHz. I know I do. Now, two hams, Michael Guernsey, KZ8O and Brian Crow, K3VR, have been busted by the FCC for their activities on that frequency. The Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) citing KZ8O reads:

  • Causing Intentional Interference to Licensed Communications
    • The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules. Section 333 of the Act states that “[n]o person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under the Act or operated by the United States Government.” The legislative history for Section 333 of the Act identifies willful and malicious interference as “intentional jamming, deliberate transmission on top of the transmissions of authorized users already using specific frequencies in order to obstruct their communications, repeated interruptions, and the use and transmission of whistles, tapes, records, or other types of noisemaking devices to interfere with the communications or radio signals of other stations.” Section 97.101(d) of the Rules states that “[n]o amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.”
    • On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office located the source of interference to frequency 14.313 MHz to the address of record for Mr. Guernsey’s amateur station KZ8O. The agents heard Mr. Guernsey intentionally interfering with other amateur licensees by transmitting a prerecorded song and various animal noises. These transmissions were a deliberate act to monopolize the frequency and prevent other amateur radio operators from conducting legitimate communications. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Rules by intentionally interfering with other licensed amateur radio communications.
  • Failure to Transmit a Call Sign Identification
    • The evidence in this case also is sufficient to establish that Mr. Guernsey violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules. Section 97.119(a) of the Rules states that “[e]ach amateur station . . . must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions.” On March 7, 2014, agents from the Detroit Office monitored frequency 14.313 MHz for approximately 40 minutes and heard transmissions by Mr. Guernsey in which he failed to transmit his assigned call sign. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Mr. Guernsey apparently willfully violated Section 97.119(a) of the Rules by failing to transmit his assigned call sign.

The Notice of Apparent Liability for K3VR reads about the same.

The pace of Amateur Radio Service enforcement activities seems to have picked up in 2014. After only two enforcement actions in 2013, there have been six already in 2014.

FCC allows partial credit for expired licenses

ARRLFCC LogoYou may have heard that the FCC has approved a rules change with regard to expired licenses. Yesterday, the ARRL sent out an e-mail for VEs explaining how this is supposed to work:

Information regarding FCC Rule changes

The FCC has revised the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to grant partial written examination element credit to holders of expired General, Advanced and Extra licenses. The new rules become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, which is Monday July 21, 2014.

Expired license holders will not automatically receive credit on that day and may not operate as a new licensee.
The FCC requires former licensees — those falling outside the 2-year grace period — to pass Element 2 (Technician) in order to be relicensed.

To take advantage of the new rule, holders of expired licenses must attend an exam session. There they would present a photo ID and their expired license proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and take the Technician exam.

If an applicant held a General or Advanced license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) written exam only. If an applicant held an Extra license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) and Extra (Element 4) written exams. At VE exam sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid expired license credit. Acceptable forms of proof can be found on the Exam Element Credit web page at http://www.arrl.org/exam-element-credit.

If sufficient proof is not presented, the candidate has the option of taking the Tech exam and earning just a new Tech license and then attending another exam session at a later date when they have the proper documentation.
As always, the candidate will have to show a photo ID, present the proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and fill out all forms to receive the paper upgrade. The upgrade is not automatic and may NOT be sent directly to the FCC or to the VEC by the candidate.

Expired licensees will not automatically get their old call sign back. FCC will issue a new sequentially issued call sign. If they desire to obtain their old call sign they may try to do so through the FCC vanity call sign program. However, someone else may have already obtained their old call sign as a vanity call sign and therefore it would not be available.

Operating Notes: (Un)Clubs, certificates, W100AW

Over the weekend, I made a few QSOs of note:

WB2KQG. 20m wasn’t in great shape when I called CQ on 20m CW on Saturday from the museum, but I managed to raise Vinny, WB2KQG. When I called up his QRZ.Com page, I found the banner below and a link to a site with a description of the Radio League of America, an early competitor of the ARRL. Were it still around, the RLA would be celebrating its centennial in 2015, and to commemorate that, Vinny is offering a certificate. To get the 8.5 x 11-in. certificate, send an SASE to Vinny. I’ll be getting one of these certificates for myself.

 radioleague

AC2EU. On Jim, AC2EU’s QRZ.Com page, he notes that he is a former coordinator of the QSY Society, and notes, “The society is a bit different than other clubs in that it focuses on discussions of the Amateur Radio hobby at every meeting.” I didn’t get a chance to talk to Jim about how his club is different, but I did visit their website. Here’s how they describe themselves:

The QSY Society was formed in 1996 by a group of hams who felt there was a legitimate need for an alternative to the conventional ham radio club.  These plankowners observed that formal structure, business discussions, and the focus on the more traditional aspects of emergency operations and public service often left precious little time for good old fashioned social interaction and sharing.

The purpose of QSY Society is to create an environment in which persons with an interest in ham radio – whether licensed or not – can come together to explore the many facets of amateur radio in an informal and friendly environment where there are “no dumb questions” and “no smart answers.”

That’s as good a description of an “un-club” as I’ve seen, and I think that I would enjoy being a member of the QSY Society.

KK4UVW. When I first heard Chris, KK4UVW, calling CQ, I almost didn’t reply. His sending was slow, but he had a good fist. Then, I looked him up on QRZ.Com, and knew I had to reply. Even if the picture on QRZ.Com is an older one, he’s still quite young, and we should encourage young people to be active in amateur radio, and the more experienced CW ops should encourage those who are just getting started or are less experienced.

W100AW. On Sunday afternoon, I worked W100AW. This was the first time that I’d even heard this station. To get a QSL card, you have to sign up for it on the ARRL website. When you do that, you’re also signing up to get cards from all the W1AW/x stations you’ve worked, too. Seems to me that it would be a lot cheaper to allow me to sign up only for a W100AW card, but hey, I don’t make those decisions. The ARRL will be sending the cards through the QSL bureaus, so you’ll have to have a current account at the appropriate bureau.

Note that in each case—except for W100AW—what made the contact was the information posted on QRZ.Com. Having a computer in the shack has made my operating that much more interesting. So, please post some info there if you haven’t already and tell us about you. You never know who you’ll inspire or how it will make your QSOs better.

Do you have a cool QSL?

Do you have a cool QSL that you’d like to share with KB6NU.Com readers?  If so, send me a scan, and I’ll add them here.

Now, here’s a couple new ones for my collection of QSLs from stations whose call spell words:

k0-war-qsl

Greg was working a special even from the museum when I contacted him.

w1dig-qsl

Lou’s call was KA1DIG before he obtained the vanity call W1DIG. He sent me both cards.

ARRL prez calls for hams to support for HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act

ARRLIn a video, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has issued an urgent call to action to all radio amateurs to get behind a grassroots campaign to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014.” HR.4969 would require the FCC to extend PRB-1 coverage to restrictive covenants. It was introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25 at the request of the ARRL, which worked with House staffers to draft the legislation. The measure would require the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). It had initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT).

President Craigie also exhorted all radio amateurs regarding support for HR.4969 in remarks appearing in the The ARRL Legislative Update Newsletter. Craigie stressed in the Newsletter that the legislation stands to benefit not just today’s radio amateurs but those in the future.

“Chances are, those Americans of the future will grow up in communities having private land use restrictions,” she said “That is the way the country is going, and it is very bad for Amateur Radio. How can Amateur Radio thrive, if more and more Americans cannot have reasonable antennas at home? You and I have to stand for the Amateurs of the second century.”

If the measure passes the 113th Congress, it would require the FCC to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances.

An HR.4969 page now is open on the ARRL website. It contains information and resources for clubs and individuals wishing to support efforts to gain co-sponsors for the measure by contacting their members of Congress.

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