ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford, July 2014

This was released by the ARRL today. Sounds like fun to me…..Dan

August 29, 2012  NEWINGTON, CT – ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio®, announced the organization will hold its national Centennial Convention in Hartford, Connecticut, July 17-20, 2014. The Convention will mark 100 years of the ARRL’s founding in Hartford. The theme for ARRL’s Centennial year is “Advancing the Art and Science of Radio — since 1914.”

Hiram Percy Maxim (1869-1936), a leading Hartford inventor and industrialist, founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in May 1914, together with Clarence Tuska, secretary of the Radio Club of Hartford. Today, ARRL serves over 158,000 members, mostly licensed radio amateurs, in the US and around the world.  The organization’s headquarters has been maintained in the Hartford area since its founding. ARRL’s present facilities are located on Main Street in Newington, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford, and are visited by nearly 2,000 groups and individuals each year. The site is also home to The Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station since 1938. The radio station, W1AW,  is known as “the flagship station for Amateur Radio” and is known world wide.  ARRL employs around 100 people.

“The 2014 Centennial Convention is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said ARRL Marketing Manager Bob Inderbitzen explaining that event will have all of the trademark elements of a proper convention and hamfest; presentations and forums, exhibits, vendors, demonstrations, flea market, activities for youth, and banquet. “But, plan on some very special centennial-themed activities,” he added, “including tours of ARRL headquarters and W1AW, guest presenters, some surprises, and lots of celebrating! We want ARRL members to come with all of their experiences from the first one hundred years of Amateur Radio and ARRL, and leave with a shared vision for ARRL’s Second Century.”

The decision to host the Centennial Convention in Hartford was reinforced by the organizers of the New England Division Convention, held every two years in Boxborough, MA. “Boxborough’s organizing sponsor, FEMARA, Inc., graciously agreed to forgo holding a convention there in 2014,” said ARRL Chief Operating Officer Harold Kramer. “Instead, FEMARA has offered to help share its expertise and volunteers as we prepare to bring this national level celebration to Hartford.

The area boasts dozens of attractions and activities, making Connecticut a great destination for members who plan to attend the convention with their family and friends. Nearby attractions include the Connecticut Science Center, Mark Twain House, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and Wadsworth Athenaeum. Hartford is served by an international airport (Hartford/Springfield BDL), and is conveniently located between Boston and New York City. Hartford’s centrally located Union Station is serviced by Amtrak and major bus companies.

Interested parties may learn more about ARRL, Amateur Radio and the Centennial Convention at

TAPR announces Digital Communications Conference details

Where: Atlanta, GA Sheraton Gateway Hotel Atlanta Airport 1900 Sullivan Road Atlanta, GA 30337

When: September 21 – 23, 2012


Technical / Introductory Sessions Schedule

Technical Sessions Friday – Saturday: Introductory Sessions

Saturday Night Banquet Speaker & Topic:
DCC Saturday Night Banquet Speaker will be Bdale Garbee, KB0G talking about the “Sharing the Joy of Making.

Sunday Morning Seminar Speaker & Topic:
DCC Sunday Morning Seminar will be a hands-on tutorial using Gnuradio  to design and implement software defined radios on your laptop presented by Tom Rondeau, KB3UKZ, the leader of the Gnuradio project.

W1HKJ honored for fldigi

W1HKJ awarded Special Technical Service Award

Greg Sarratt, W4OZK ARRL Southeastern Division Director presents David H. Freese, Jr. W1HKJ the ARRL Special Technical Service Award for David's work on Fldigi software programs at the 2012 Huntsville Hamfest.

On August 18, 2012 at Huntsville Hamfest Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, ARRL Southeastern Division Director presented David H. Freese, Jr W1HKJ the ARRL Special Technical Service Award for Dave’s work on the fldigi software programs. This presentation was a follow-up to ARRL Letter of Appreciation to David H. Freeze, Jr. signed by the ARRL President Kay Craigie, K3NK, dated July 25, 2012.

The above recognition is well deserved for Dave’s development and distribution of the Fast Light Digital Modem Application (fldigi) family of programs for use in amateur and emergency communications. W1HKJ’s software programs are free for amateur use and the fldigi software runs under Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. In addition, Dave Freese, W1HKJ, worked with the W1AW Station Manager, Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, and W1AW’s digital bulletins are now sent using fldigi.

Thank You Mr. Freeze!

ARRL BoD tackle legislative issues, pension plan, centennial

ARRLThe ARRL sent out the minutes from the July 31 Board of Directors meeting this morning. As usual, legislative issues played a big part. The ARRL lobbyist, John Chwat reported that he believed that HR 607 is no longer a threat. HR 607 was a bill put forward by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, that would have re-assigned a portion of the 440 MHz band. The minutes note that, “The FCC study of impediments to Amateur Radio emergency communications was included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 thanks to the support of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Walden, among others.”

There was also a note about extending PRB-1 to private land use regulations. It says, “The study being prepared for Congress by the FCC is expected to conclude that the Commission will extend the limited preemption provisions of PRB-1 to private land use regulations only if directed by Congress to do so.” So, don’t look for that any time soon.

There were also several discussions of the pension plan for ARRL employees. They’re terminating the defined pension plan. No mention of what effect this will have on the employees or the financial health of the ARRL.

Finally, there was discussion of the ARRL centennial. The ARRL turns 100 in 2014. That’s not all that exciting to me. How about you?

Read the entire minutes.

Kudos to the ARRL

ARRL Happy Birthday

As you know if you’ve read this blog for very long, I’m not overly generous when it comes to praising the ARRL. I do have to give them some kudos for this latest promotion, however. A couple of weeks ago, I got the above postcard in the mail offering me a $10 discount on any purchase from the ARRL website. Today, being my birthday, I got a followup e-mail, reminding to take advantage of this offer.

I like this effort a lot. It does show some member appreciation, and it will make some purchase more affordable. Kudos to the ARRL!

From the ARRL Letter – 5/31/12

Two items in today’s ARRL Letter caught my eye:

FCC News: FCC Expands Part 95 MedRadio Rules to Allow Devices in 2360-2400 MHz Band. In a First Report and Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ET 08-59) released on May 24, the FCC decided to expand the Part 95 Personal Radio Service rules to allow medical devices to operate on a secondary basis in the 2360-2400 MHz band. These devices — called Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) — provide a way for health care facilities to monitor their patients via wireless networks. Because use of these frequencies will be on a secondary basis, MBAN stations will not be allowed to cause interference to — and must accept interference from — primary services, including radio amateurs who operate on a primary basis in the 2390-2395 MHz and 2395-2400 MHz bands. Read more.

MARS: House Armed Services Committee “Urges” MARS Coordination. On May 18, the US House of Representatives approved HR 4310, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill authorizes appropriations for military activities and prescribes military personnel strengths for Fiscal Year 2013. When the House Armed Services Committee sent the bill to the House, it included language in support of the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and called for the three MARS branches — Army, Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps — to be brought under one umbrella. Read more.

I don’t have much to say about the MARS item, except to say that I’m surprised that Congress would have much to say about it. I’m a little more concerned about the Part 95 decision, but what can I say? Amateurs are not really using that spectrum, for the most part, and until we do, encroachment is inevitable.

Dayton 2012: Another great ham radio experience

Dayton 2012 TicketMy Dayton experience started at 3:45 am Thursday morning. That’s when I had to get up so that I could make it to the Fairborn Holiday Inn in time for the first session of this year’s Four Days in May (FDIM). FDIM is a one-day conference put on by the QRP Amateur Radio Club International and is a great way to start the “Dayton experience.”

There were somewhere between 300 and 400 attendees at this year’s event, and we were treated to six very fine presentations. They included talks on using microcontrollers for various projects, software-defined radio, VHF and UHF for QRPers, homebrewing with “hollow state” devices (more commonly known as tubes), using open-source electronic design tools, and operating pedestrian mobile. The two talks that I enjoyed the most were “Hollow State (Thermatron) Homebrewing” by Grayson, TA2ZGE/KJ7UM and “Leveraging Free and Open Source Tools in Homebrewing” by Jason, NT7S.

Two things about TA2ZGE’s talk stood out for me.  First, was his method for homebrewing tube circuits. What he does is to take a Dremel tool and create pads on a bare piece of circuit board material, including pads that you can solder a tube socket to. Using this breadboard, you can create prototypes “Manhattan” style. Second, was the list of online resources. I’ll post those in another blog post. Grayson’s talk has certainly given me the incentive to use those “tubs of tubes” as I’ve been threatening to do now for several years.

Jason’s talk was about how he used open-source design tools to create his latest kit, the OpenBeacon, a crystal-controlled QRPp beacon transmitter. There are more out there than I realized. I’m thinking of asking Jason if he would be interested in expanding his paper into a small book that I could publish for him.

Thursday evening, they had their normal show and tell and vendor night. At this event, those selling kits and keys set up shop in the ballroom. Jason was selling his kits and the Four States QRP club had some of their kits there, too. I don’t know how much, if anything, they charge the vendors, but perhaps next year, I’ll take some of my books. They’re not exactly the right audience for them, but perhaps they’ll buy them for friends and family.

Friday morning, I got up early again, so that I could make the 7:30am bus to the Hamvention. We arrived about 8:00 am, just as the gates were opening. The first thing that I did was to head to the FAR Circuits tent, which is–as the name implies–at the far end of the flea market. There, I made my first purchases, a board to make a regenerative receiver and one to make an audio breakout box.

The rest of the day was a combination of wandering the aisles of the flea market, fighting the crowds inside the arena, attending the odd seminar, and meeting people that I know. One of the guys I ran into was Dennis, KT8K. He asked me what I thought was this year’s flea market “theme.” Every year, he says, there is always an abundance of one type of equipment or model of radio.

He’s right, too. One year, for example, I saw a dozen or more Icom IC-735s. This year, I saw none. Oddly enough, this year I saw a lot of Swan transceivers and DX-60 transmitters. There were also lots of more modern transceivers for sale, too. I even saw a K3 for sale, although by the time I got to it, it had been sold.

Another fellow that I ran into was Ed, N4EDT. I probably wouldn’t have stopped to speak to him, but he was wearing a shirt with the Rotarians on Amateur Radio (ROAR) logo on it. I introduced myself to him, and we had an interesting discussion about what kind of service project that ROAR might want to start. Since he is the Assistant Director for Education for the ARRL’s Southeastern Division, he was advocating a local project. I, on the other hand, still favor an international project that would promote amateur radio in a developing country. We also talked about possibly having a ROAR booth at Dayton next year.

By the time, 4:30 pm rolled around, I was pretty hot and tired. Temperatures topped 80 degrees, and on the blacktop surface of the flea market, temperatures were undoubtedly higher. I was happy to get on the bus and head back to the hotel.

Saturday, was pretty much the same story, except it was even hotter. The temperature almost hit 90 degrees. I didn’t bring any sunscreen, either, so I got a little rosy.

I ran into some people that I knew that had just come down for the day, or perhaps that I’d missed the day before. One guy I ran into at the Ohio Repeater Council booth, pulled out his new Elecraft KX-3 and gave me a quick demo. It’s actually quite a cool, little radio. I’m still saving up for a K-3, though.

One forum that I attended on Saturday was the Drake forum. The room was packed with people still keeping alive their old Drake equipment. The reason that I attended was I have a friend who recently was given some Drake C-Line equipment. He wants to find a good home for them. After attending this forum, I’m now thinking about buying it from him and using them in my station. I know that if I ever have any trouble, I’ll have plenty of guys out there who can help me.

After the Drake forum, I went to the food court for a slice of pizza and a glass of beer. Seating is catch as catch can, so I shared a table with several other hams. This is great because you get to meet all kinds of different people.

This year, an older gentleman sat down next to me with his beer. We got to chatting, and as it turned out, this was his 55th straight year attending the Dayton Hamvention! He started going before it was even held at Hara Arena, and even after they moved to Hara, they didn’t use the entire facility as they do now. I’m really glad that I got to speak with him.

So, what did you buy?
I didn’t really go down to Dayton with much of a shopping list. My short list included more PowerPole connectors, the circuits boards I mentioned earlier, and I was going to buy a mic boom for WA2HOM. I got the connectors and circuit boards, but decided against the boom.

I did pick up a bunch of other little stuff including some strain reliefs, more clamp-on ferrite cores, a paddle pad from Vibroplex ($1) to keep the paddle down at the museum from sliding around, and some tube sockets! One of the vendors there had a box of tube sockets that they were selling for a quarter apiece or five for a dollar. I picked out five and paid the lady, and as I was walking away, I decided that they were such a good deal that I went back and bought five more.

My biggest purchase was NT7S’s OpenBeacon QRSS transmitter. It cost me $40. It looks like a very nice kit, and I’m hoping to be on 30m QRSS shortly with it. The nice thing about this transmitter is that it has a microcontroller that lets it transmit DFCW and Hellschreiber, in addition to CW. It should be fun to both build and operate.

I almost bought a K3. I stopped by the Elecraft booth and picked up an order sheet, but decided against it. If they had been offering more than a $50 show discount (<2%), I might have gone for it, but that just wasn’t enough incentive.

Too rich for my blood
In other news, both Kenwood and FlexRadio both introduced new radios at Dayton. Perhaps the most buzz was around the Kenwood TS-990. Of course, they didn’t really have a working model. There’s not even any information on the Kenwood USA website.

What they did have was a mockup under a Plexiglass cover. In addition to being incredibly expensive, the radio is huge! I heard someone joke that to produce this radio, Kenwood is going to have to corner the market on buttons and knobs. If you’ve seen the photo in QST (which was allegedly produced with Photoshop), you’ll know what I mean.

The other radio with a bit of buzz is the new FlexRadio FLEX-6000. For the past couple of weeks, the FlexRadio website was proclaiming that this radio was going to be a game changer. Perhaps it is, but at $6,000+, this radio is out of my league, and too expensive for the majority of radio amateurs. That being the case, I really don’t know what all the buzz is about.

I’m sure that the TS-990 and the FLEX-6000 are both great radios, but I think that the law of diminishing returns applies here. At some point, are you really getting $6,000 or $12,000 of fun out of the radio? I don’t think that I would.

Well, that’s it. Another Dayton Hamvention is in the bag. It was a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to next year. In addition to possibly participating with other Rotary Club members in a ROAR booth, I’m thinking about pushing for an adult education forum. I think that’s something that’s both needed and would be popular. I’ll just have to make sure to leave enough time to hit the flea market and grab some more tube sockets or coax or whatever.

21 Things to Do: Join the ARRL

21 Things to Do After Getting Your Amateur Radio LicenseIn addition to joining your local amateur radio club, you should also join the American Radio  Relay League (ARRL). The ARRL is that national association for radio amateurs and offers many services for amateur radio operators:

  • QST. QST is the ARRL’s monthly magazine. Every month, you’ll receive a magazine full of good information, projects, and news about amateur radio.
  • QST archive. In the past couple of years, the ARRL has digitized every issue of QST that they’ve ever published. It’s available on the ARRL website, but only to current members.
  • E-mail newsletters. In addition to QST, the ARRL publishes e-mail newsletters on a variety of topics, including:
  • The ARRL Letter is a weekly newsletter with news about amateur radio.
  • Contest Update is a bi-weekly newsletter for contest enthusiasts. I strongly suggest signing up for this newsletter, as it’s about much more than contesting.
  • The ARES E-Letter is for those amateur radio operators involved in public service and emergency communications.
  • Section and division newsletters from your section manager and division director.
  • Technical Information Service (TIS). As a member, you can call or e-mail ARRL Technical Information Service specialists for answers to technical and operating questions.
  • Legislative advocacy. The ARRL is the only group that effectively speaks for amateur radio with the FCC and Congress. Without this representation, our spectrum would be fair game whenever the political winds shift.
  • Outgoing QSL bureau. QSL bureaus help save postage when sending and receiving QSL cards from foreign stations. Only ARRL members can use the outgoing bureau.
  • Equipment insurance. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may or may not cover your amateur radio equipment. This insurance program covers your amateur station, antennas and mobile equipment should they be damaged by lightning, theft, accident, fire, flood, tornado and other natural disasters.
  • There are lots of naysayers out there who will advise you to not to join the ARRL and tell you it’s a waste of money. I think that you should find out for yourself.  Join the ARRL and participate in some of its activities. After you’ve done that, you can make a better decision about whether membership is right for you or not.

    For more information on joining the ARRL, go to

    21 Things to Do: Go to Field Day

    Field Day, held on the last full weekend in June, is the quintessential amateur radio event. It includes elements of just about everything that makes amateur radio the great hobby that it is, and you should make every effort to participate in Field Day the first year that you’re licensed.

    Field Day got its start in 1933 as an emergency-communication exercise. Ham radio operators dragged their equipment out into a field somewhere and operated using emergency power sources. The aim was to see how prepared amateur radio operators were to respond to an emergency and to learn how to do it better.

    2008 OMARC Field Day

    Tents often serve as shelters for Field Day stations. Photo courtesy of Ken Barber, W2DTC.

    Emergency communications preparedness is still the primary purpose of Field Day. Amateur radio operators tune up their gasoline-powered generators and test their solar panels to ensure that they will be ready in case of an emergency. And, by hauling out into the field all manner of radio equipment, we find out what radios will work best in that operating environment.

    Of course, the only way to tell how well your equipment will work is to actually operate it. That’s where the contest part of Field Day comes in. Stations score points by making contacts with other stations, and those with the most points win. Other things being equal, the stations that work the best will make the most contacts and score high in the contest.

    Many Field Day stations have multiple transmitters, and when you have multiple transmitters, you need multiple antennas. Setting up a multiple-transmitter operation can be a lot of work. That’s why Field Day is often a club activity. For some clubs, it’s the biggest event of the year. In addition to all the technical activities, clubs use Field Day as a social event. There’s food and drink and reminiscing about Field Days gone by. For some hams, that’s more fun than actually operating.

    Finally, because Field Day is such a big event, the ARRL encourages us all to use the event to reach out to the public, elected officials, and served agencies, such as county emergency management and the Red Cross, and educate them about amateur radio. Unlike many contests, where you only score points when you make contacts, you score Field Day points for holding your operation in a public place, handing out brochures to interested parties, and having the mayor come and visit your Field Day site.

    How to participate
    By participating in Field Day, you’ll learn more about amateur radio in a single day than you will doing just about anything else. If you’re a club member, ask how you can help out organizing  your club’s Field Day event. That’s sure to win you points, and it will make your Field Day experience that much more fun and educational.

    If you’re not a club member, or if you’ll be out of town that particular weekend, you can find a Field Day site closeby, by going to the ARRL Field Day Locator. The clubs that are listed there are sure to welcome you, especially if you arrive early and help them set up.

    I hope I’ve persuaded you to participate in the next Field Day. You’ll not only learn a lot, but you’ll have a lot of fun. Don’t forget to take some sun screen and mosquito repellent!

    ARRL Executive Committee minutes make interesting reading

    ARRLThe minutes of the March 24, 2012 ARRL Executive Committee meeting make interesting reading. On the plus side, the ARRL is very hot on defending and expanding our bands. These minutes note (section 4.1.8) that the recent World Radio Conference created a secondary allocation at 472 – 479 kHz, and that they have allocated 135.7 – 135.8 kHz to amateurs in the past. To date, neither allocation has been implemented in the U.S. and they discussed how to get the FCC to do so.

    Section 4.1.9 describes a discussion of the 2300 – 2305 MHz band. Our allocation on this band is a secondary allocation, and there was some discussion of how the ARRL might get this allocation upgraded to a primary allocation.

    On the down side, I note that the ARRL seems to be downplaying the necessity of strategic planning. Here’s section 8.2:

    8.2. Mr. Sumner reported on his research into “state of the art” strategic planning by large membership associations. Perhaps because of the negative impact of the financial upheavals of 2008 and the revolution in electronic publishing, at this time there appears to be no consensus among associations as to the value of strategic planning or the best way for associations to go about it. The ARRL Board last updated the organization’s strategic plan in 2009 and normally would conduct an in-depth review three to five years later. The committee discussed the perceived shortcomings of past strategic planning efforts along with possible improvements. Without taking a formal decision the committee concluded that while strategic planning remains important to the ARRL, planning for a successful Centennial celebration in 2014 is the current priority. A fresh approach to strategic planning should be taken immediately afterward.

    I’ll be interested to see what this “fresh approach” to strategic planning is.