Sometimes the ARRL just doesn’t get it

ARRLWhen I renewed my ARRL membership, I must have submitted the order twice because there were two charges for $76 on my credit card bill. At first, I was going to ask for a refund from the ARRL, but then thought, what the heck, I’ll just let it go and have four years of membership, not just two.

I wanted to make sure, though, that I had actually gotten four more years of membership. So, I went to arrl.org, logged in, and went searching for my membership expiration date. I must have wasted about 15 minutes looking for it. Finally, it occurred to me that it might be printed on the electronic membership card that you can print out. Sure enough, it was there, and I was able to confirm that I was good for another four years.

I emailed the ARRL about this, noting that this should be shown on the member’s profile somewhere. I shortly received a reply from a member services representative, “Thank you for your inquiry. The IT Dept are working on adding the expiration date to the web site. If you log in, then click on edit profile, then edit groups, the number of days left on your membership is listed there.”

I replied to that e-mail, noting that having to go to the groups page for this information is definitely not the most intuitive thing to do. Not only that, it doesn’t really say explicitly when my membership expires. All it really tells me is that I am a member of the “full members” group for another 1,500 days or so.

Now that I was on the groups page, I noticed some other things. This page tells me that I am a member of the following groups:

  • Volunteer Examiners
  • Michigan
  • Assistant Section Managers
  • Teachers
  • Instructors
  • Great Lakes
  • Michigan
  • Full Regular
  • Members

This raised a number of questions:

  1. Why am I in the Michigan group twice?
  2. What’s the difference between instructors and teachers?
  3. Why do most of these groups have no information on the page I get taken to when I click the “Go Now!” link.
  4. Why can’t I “unjoin” these groups if I want to?

I hate to sound harsh, but it seems to me that this page is pretty close to being useless. It certainly is useless to me. When I e-mailed the ARRL this list of questions–noting that these were rhetorical questions–I got an e-mail back offering to “help with your questions.”

<SIGH> Sometimes the ARRL just doesn’t get it.

ARRL Executive Committee to meet March 9

ARRL

The ARRL Executive Committee will meet Saturday, March 9 in Irving, Texas. ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Five Division Directors who are elected by the ARRL Board of Directors are also on the committee: Northwestern Division Director Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF; Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG; Rocky Mountain Division Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT; Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, and West Gulf Division Director David Woolweaver, K5RAV. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, and ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, are non-voting members of the Executive Committee.

There are lots of interesting items on the agenda this time including:

  • 4.1.3. Consideration of changes to FCC Part 97 rules which inhibit or preclude encryption of transmissions and other regulatory impediments to emergency communications.
  • 4.1.8. ET Docket No. 10-236; Promoting Expanded Opportunities for Radio Experimentation and Market Trials under Part 5 of the Commission’s Rules and Streamlining Other Related Rules.

Download it, read it, and let the directors know what you think.

IARU Region 2 Seeks Input on HF Band Plan

Note that the deadline for comments is March 1. So, you have less than one month to tell the IARU what you think……Dan

ARRL FlagZCZC AX01
QST de W1AW
Special Bulletin 1 ARLX001
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT February 7, 2013
To all radio amateurs

SB SPCL ARL ARLX001
ARLX001 IARU Region 2 Seeks Input on HF Band Plan

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 conference will be held later this year in Mexico. The Region 2 conference — held every three years — is attended by delegations from the national Amateur Radio societies in the western hemisphere that are members of the IARU. The ARRL is the IARU Member Society for the US.

One of the topics on the conference agenda will be the Region 2 HF band plan. This band plan is “harmonized” with — spectrum  management-speak for “very similar to” — the IARU Region 1 and Region 3 band plans. Many hams in the US may not know there is such a thing as a Region 2 band plan. Other American hams have heard of it but may not know how — if at all — this band plan affects them.

Here are important facts for American hams to keep in mind:

  • IARU band plans are voluntary guidelines. They do not have the force of FCC regulations. For radio amateurs in the US, IARU band plans are informational, not regulations.
  • It would be inappropriate to incorporate Region 2 band plans into the FCC rules, and the ARRL has no plan to petition the FCC to do so.
  • Most other countries do not have the detailed sub-band regulations that are in Part 97 of the FCC rules. For radio amateurs in those countries, IARU band plans may offer the only guidance on frequency usage.
  • The appearance of a calling frequency or band segment for a particular purpose or mode in the IARU band plan does not convey any special rights or exclusivity of use.
  • The absence of a calling frequency or band segment associated with a particular purpose or mode should not be interpreted as disparaging or discouraging that purpose or activity.

The Secretary of IARU Region 2 has asked Member Societies to offer any suggestions they may have about possible changes to the Region 2 band plan. The ARRL is cooperating with this procedure by inviting your input to be sent to the ARRL Board’s HF Band Planning Committee. The committee will review the existing Region 2 band plan, consider input from the amateur community and make recommendations to the ARRL Board of Directors for submission to IARU Region 2.

Radio amateurs in the US who would like to submit input should take the following steps:

  1. Study the existing IARU Region 2 band plan posted on the Region 2 website at, http://www.iaru-r2.org/band-plan/. The Region 1 and Region 3 band plans are also posted there, so be sure you are looking at the band plan for Region 2.
  2. Formulate a clear statement of any change you propose. Include a brief explanation of why you think the change would be beneficial. Please include your name and call sign in your message.
  3. Send your input via e-mail no later than March 1, 2013. Messages will be automatically acknowledged.

If you live in another country in Region 2, please contact your national Amateur Radio society for information on how to submit input for the band plan process. The contact information for Region 2 Member Societies can be found on the web at http://www.iaru-r2.org/directory/.

NNNN
/EX

FCC Proposes Large Public WiFi Networks

This sounds like another threat to our spectrum. Hams really need to start using 900 MHz and above before the next edition of ham radio history is titled 2 Meters and Up instead of 200 Meters and Down…….Dan

The Washington Post reports that the FCC recently submitted a proposal to create super Wi-Fi networks across the country that would enable users to make calls or surf the Internet for free. Although the wireless industry has launched a strong lobbying effort to convince policymakers to reconsider the idea, companies such as Google and Microsoft are campaigning for the proposal, saying that it will spark an explosion of innovations that will benefit most Americans. “For a casual user of the Web, perhaps this could replace carrier service,” says analyst Jeffrey Silva. “Because it is more plentiful and there is no price tag, it could have a real appeal to some people.” The airwaves the FCC wants to use for the public Wi-Fi networks would be much more powerful than conventional Wi-Fi networks, but because the major wireless carriers own much more spectrum, their networks would still be much more robust. It also would take several years to set up. “Freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free-market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future and benefits consumers,” says FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

Minutes of the January 2013 ARRL Board Meeting

ARRLThe annual meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors was held January 18-19, 2013 in New Orleans, and the minutes of the meeting were recently published. You can download and read the entire minutes yourself, but here are a few items that I found particular interesting:

  • #16. Mr. Kramer presented the report of the Chief Operating Officer. Finding appropriate ways to support the growth and activities of ARRL-affiliated clubs was an issue highlighted during discussion of the report. As chairman of the Programs and Services Committee, Mr. Norris advised the Board that the committee has established a subcommittee to address the issue.
  • #21. Mr. Carlson, as chairman, presented the report of the EMC Committee and entertained questions. There was a discussion of how to stimulate electric utilities to resolve cases of power line interference to amateur stations.
  • #25. The board adopted seven legislative objectives for the 113th Congress. To read them all, download the minutes, but in addition to the usual items such as, keeping and defending our frequencies, #6 aims at ensuring that two-way radio communications be exempt from distracted driver laws, and #7 supports legislation authorizing the FCC to appoint an electrical engineer to their staffs to provide technical expertise.
  • #28. The ARRL has created “the ARRL Amateur Radio Service to Scouting Award, to be administered consistent with the Community Organization Award program of BSA.”
  • #32 The board will appoint an ad hoc committee to look into the recent Logbook of the World problems and provide some recommendations at the July 2013 meeting.
  • #37. Lucy Ann Lance, a local broadcaster here in Ann Arbor, MI was awarded the “Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award, developed to honor professional journalists whose outstanding work best reflects the enjoyment, importance and public service value of the Amateur Radio Service.”

As I was club president here in Ann Arbor for several years, and for several years served as the Michigan Section Affiliated Club Coordinator, I’m especially interested in #16. I’ve e-mailed my director and vice-director to get their takes on it, and I would encourage all of you to do likewise for any of the items that are of interest to you.

ARRL News: Board holds annual meeting, scholarship deadline nears

From the January 24, 2013 edition of the ARRL Letter:

ARRL Board Holds 2013 Annual Meeting
The ARRL Board of Directors held its 2013 Annual Meeting January 18-19 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the meeting, the Board set its legislative objectives for the 113th Congress, bestowed awards, approved the organization’s amended financial plan, elected members to the Executive Committee and ARRL Foundation, and more. A detailed look at all the Board’s actions, including the official minutes from the meeting, is forthcoming.

ARRL Scholarship Deadline is February 1
The application deadline for ARRL Foundation Scholarships is fast approaching. The deadline for applications is February 1, 2013. According to ARRL Foundation Secretary Mary Hobart, K1MMH, the 2013 collection of scholarship awards is bigger than ever, with eight new scholarships added in 2012. “The annual awards range from $500 to $2500, while the Goldfarb Scholarship can total upwards of $10,000 each year,” Hobart explained. “The estimated total dollar amount of all awards in excess of $80,000.” Scholarship recipients will be announced in May 2013 via letter and on the ARRL website.

Michigan PRB-1 Legislation News

This arrived in my inbox this morning. If you live in Michigan, please contact your state senator about this bill……Dan

Greetings to all Michigan Hams December 8, 2012

This is a special email alert for all Michigan hams concerning our ongoing PRB-1 effort in Michigan.

I have good news to report in that after a Senate Hearing on December 5, based on a 3 – 0 vote, SB1244 was passed and is moving onto the Senate Floor. This means that on December 11, our bill may be voted on by the Senate. If we are successful there, the bill will move to the House, and if successful there as well, it could end up on the Governors’ desk for his signature.

I am asking each Michigan ham to act now and visit http://www.miarrlprb1.org/ which is our PRB-1 website and click on the “Update Alert” tab to read the notes from Wednesday’s Senate Committee Hearing. Please download the “sample” letter available by clicking on the “What Can I Do?” tab. Simply fill in your senator’s name, add your name and address at the bottom and email to your senator. There is no need to add anything to the letter.

You can find your senator’s email address by clicking on the “Find Your Senator” tab. Some senators have a direct email listed, others may have a form email where you may have to cut and paste your letter into their form. Please send a copy to wb8r@arrl.org so we can see how much of the “market” we are covering and we can send a copy to any senators who do not get a letter from a constituent. For those that use an email form, please send a note directly to me at wb8r@arrl.org telling me which senator you sent the letter to and that you used an email form.

There is a possibility that our bill may time out if it is not possible to get the process completed by the end of the legislative session. Not to worry. We will start all over again in January and already have our primary sponsor lined up. We have some good support in the Senate and we feel that we are in good shape.

Thank you in advance for your fine assistance. This is an important issue and we need to blanket the Senate with our letters.

73,

Larry, WB8R
Michigan Section Manager

ARRL Executive Committee Meeting Minutes, September 29, 2012

A couple of days ago, the ARRL released the minutes of the September 29, 2012 executive committee meeting. Here are some notable items:

  • 4.1.5. Mr. Imlay informed the committee that the FCC is expected soon to release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making dealing with examination element credit for expired licensees, remote proctoring of examinations, and the ARRL petition (RM-11625) to allow amateur use of Time Domain Multiple Access (TDMA) emissions. The NPRM is expected to raise significant policy questions that will require consideration by the full Board of Directors. It was agreed that the Executive Committee will prepare an outline of the pros and cons of each item for circulation to the Board as a basis for discussion.
  • 4.2.5. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) include provisions mandated by Congress that place US satellite manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage and also prevent amateurs in the US from collaborating on satellite designs with their colleagues in other countries. The ARRL is monitoring developments that may point toward a resolution of the problem.
  • 4.2.7. The FCC’s RF exposure regulations have not been reviewed in many years, in part because the FCC does not consider itself to be the expert agency on health effects. The current regulations are based on studies conducted 20 years ago. There is a proceeding, ET Docket No. 03-137, that has been open and pending without action for almost a decade. A document to advance the proceeding reportedly is on circulation at the FCC and may be released soon.
  • 8.1. Mr. Sumner reported that the first ARRL elections to be conducted by electronic voting would begin on Monday, October 1 in the Hudson and Northwestern Divisions. Full Members in the two divisions with valid email addresses in the ARRL membership records will receive an email instructing them how to vote on a website. The other Full Members will receive a paper ballot but will have the option of voting via the website if they wish to do so. He noted that preparations for the elections have gone smoothly.

I wonder if the two elections that I participated in would have turned out differently if there had been electronic voting, especially the one that I lost by only 12 votes. Reading the minutes can be pretty dry, but you should download and read them if you’re at all interested in what the ARRL is doing.

Nominate a humanitarian

From the ARRL website:

ARRL FlagNominations are open for the 2012 ARRL International Humanitarian Award. This award is conferred upon an amateur or amateurs who demonstrate devotion to human welfare, peace and international understanding through Amateur Radio. The League established the annual prize to recognize those radio amateurs who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to others in times of crisis or disaster.

ARRL Executive Committee to Meet Saturday, September 29

The ARRL Executive Committee is meeting today, Saturday, September 29, in Denver, CO.  Here are a few agenda items that I found interesting:

  • 4.1.1. Consideration of strategies to improve the FCC Amateur Radio enforcement program.
  • 4.1.4. Consideration of draft Petition for Rule Making for domestic implementation of allocations at 472-479 kHz and 135.7-137.8 kHz.

ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN is the Executive Committee chair. Five Division Directors who are elected by the ARRL Board of Directors are also on the committee:

  • Midwest Division Director Cliff Ahrens, K0CA;
  • Northwestern Division Director Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF;
  • Central Division Director Dick Isely, W9GIG;
  • Rocky Mountain Division Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, and
  • West Gulf Division Director David Woolweaver, K5RAV. ARRL

Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, and ARRL First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, are non-voting members of the Executive Committee. ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, and Second Vice President Bruce Frahm, K0BJ, will also attend the meeting.

Click here to download the entire agenda, and feel free to contact any and all of the Executive Committee members if you have comments, questions, or concerns.