|Space Weather||Secretary's Minutes||State QSO Party|
|HAM-CON - Great Show!||Promoting Ham Radio||Health Risks Today|
The March meeting is going to be a video on The Wonderful World of Space
Weather by Tamitha Skov presented at Contest University in Dayton Ohio just
before the Dayton Hamvention in 2017. Ms. Skov explains how space weather
effects/disrupts radio wave propagation.
Bob KB1FRW called the meeting together at 1:00 PM. There were 13 hams in attendance. Bob noted that RANV has already done most of the meeting topics that were on Fred's list from our meeting in November. There was some heated discussion about the VT QSO Party allowing FT8 on the WARC bands.
Bob then went thru assembling a list of Ham-Con assignments. He was very good about wrangling up several volunteers.
I mentioned that he still needs to ask for a volunteer to bring the snacks for the next RANV meeting on Tuesday, March 10. Somehow, I got nominated to do it.
For the presentation, Bob K1BIF discussed the RACES stations all over VT. The ham station was stolen from the UVM Medical Center. The hospital now has a new Icom IC- 7100 to replace it. They also purchased a 500 foot spool of LMR400 coax, and plan to move the station down to the 2nd floor. Bob and Ed W1OKH did manage to check-in to the quarterly hospital net. The UVM Medical Center had been missed on that net for quite some time. The hospital has one RACES Ham, and they plan to add more with an upcoming class. The digital mode MT63-2KL is often used between hospitals to pass sensitive and complicated information.
There was also a discussion of who worked what modes, people, countries, etc during the VT QSO Party. Apparently, much fun was had by all.
There was scheduled Show & Tell segment, too. I showed of my Uniden HR2510.
It's an all-mode 10 Meter radio that puts out about 30 watts. I explained
that I have been experimenting using it on digital modes, such as JT65, FT8,
and PSK31. Mike N1JEZ however out did me, showing off his home brew
transverters and amplifiers for various bands from 70 cm and up.
The State QSO Party Challenge is a competition comprised of other contests, namely state and provincial QSO parties. As explained on the website, the annual cumulative score program is open to any radio amateur who participates in any approved state QSO parties (SQPs). Participants just need to submit their QSO party scores to https://3830scores.com to enter the challenge.
Participants' cumulative scores will be calculated by totaling up the number of reported contacts and multiplying by the number of SQPs entered in the year to date. Periodic standings will be posted to 3830scores.com, the QSOParty Groups.io forum, and the StateQSOParty.com website.
Using the number of QSO parties entered as a multiplier is expected to encourage radio amateurs to enter more state/province QSO parties. The first SQPs in 2020 were the Vermont, Minnesota, and British Columbia QSO Parties during the first weekend of February.
Entrants must make at least two contacts in a QSO party for it to count as a
multiplier. The full details are available on the State QSO Party Challenge
The SQP Activity Tracker can be found at
So RANV members, be sure to work those
QSO Parties and submit your score to both the party sponsor and the 3830
Scores web site.
We had another great time at HAM-CON. Folks enjoyed the forums, the company and the goodies. Attendance was down a little (15) from our average. Some of the reasons behind this include folks going to the Holiday Inn instead (yes, that happened!) and attendees who came in the back way who were unable to find the ticket sales area. A big reason for attendance drop is the graying of ham radio. At least 4 people I knew of could not make the show because of medical issues either with themselves or family members. On the other hand, we had 5 kids at the show, which is larger than anything we've seen in a few years.
Everyone mentioned that they really liked the Hampton facility. We had a larger prefunction area which we didn't have to share with the rest of the hotel. In the Vendor room we had a good turnout of potential buyers. Roger reported that sales were very good at his vendor table. The addition of W1V to the vendor room seemed to work well and we had more people operating than in previous years.
Forums were well attended with 22-28 people at each forum, even during the earliest and latest events. Chip K7JA's Skype forum had around 80 people in the room towards the end as everyone started showing up for the Closing Ceremonies. He did a great talk about his many travels and experiences in ham radio and urged us all to do the same.
In what has become one of our signature events, the Closing Ceremonies prize drawing was even better this year. With 30 prizes given out to a group of 100 or so, everyone in the room had an excellent chance of winning and a few were able to pick up two prizes! It was definitely worth delaying lunch. But if you ducked out for lunch, as some did, you didn't get the goodies!
Despite very limited promotion in the local press, we still had our share of non-hams attending as many of these folks were at the VE session. We had an amazing 87% pass rate, way up from last year's disappointing showing. Among the upgrades were George KC1JGM and Max KC1MBX who both earned their Amateur Extra Class upgrade. Great work!
A big Thank You to the 20+ people who helped put on the show. And we still
remain the "Best Little Hamfest in the World”.
At our November meeting, Fred AB1OC detailed how the Nashua Area Radio Club promoted ham radio to schools which significantly built up the membership of his club. This discussion continued at the Winter Breakfast, where several ideas were posed on how to engage the public. Now we need to take this to the next step and identify the people who will be heading up the promotion activity.
We already have several active members, such as Bob FRW, Bob BIF and myself who are already busy making the activities run, whether they are the HAM-CON, Field Day, Park Activations and other events. However, the promotions group needs to be other people, ideally 2-3 who will focus on getting the public to our existing events and then taking charge to show them around and explain what is happening. And when appropriate, even get the public engaged and involved in the activity.
Along these lines, Bob and Ron are planning a promotion at the Outdoor Family Weekend in September. Other potential activities include Field Day. We put on one of the best Field Day activities anywhere, but we get very few non-ham visitors. We need to do better. Another excellent event is the VHF QSO Party I do on Mt. Equinox in June and September. Scores of people come over to me to ask what is going on. Unfortunately, with 11 radios going simultaneously, I am unable to engage in much conversation. However a small group of hams who are NOT operating could show off and explain a truly amazing operation. Our picnic in August is another great opportunity as we have the hams and we have the radios to show off.
We do have an abundance of activities to show off amateur radio, but we need the publicists to get the people to the events. And I'll be the first to tell you, that it isn't as easy as it once was. Forget about the calendar listing or the article in the newspaper. Few do these anymore, and few people even read print media. Broadcast media is rather hit or miss as one needs to repeat the message often to reach many. Sending emails doesn't have the impact it once had. Social media seems to be the better method these days, but one needs to understand how to exploit this new technology.
As active amateur radio operators, we need to take charge in our promotion. No one else will do it for us a nd not the League either. We could elect to do nothing, but the result we have been seeing has not been good. Few new people are getting involved as the rest of us get older and demographics start to catch up. For a healthy hobby, we need a mix of many different age groups, not just the 60+ retirees group.
The beauty of doing promotions is that you do not need any special skills.
The big skill needed is the willingness to reach out to people and communicate
our enjoyment of what we do. That should be easy enough.
It seems like everyone is worried about the Corona Virus right now. Certainly, I am concerned since I am planning to attend two conventions with international audiences in a couple of months. As this is being written, there are no active cases in Vermont, so we will continue with club business as usual. Should this change, the officers will let everyone know of any new arrangements.
What gets neglected in this discussion are the cases of common cold and flu which goes around this time of year. Lots of people are getting sick with these and there is little publicity about it. While no one can be assured that they will be spared (even the vaccines are limited in what they can do) there are a few things which will help.
First, make sure you are not run down. A strong immune system is the best defense and this works best with adequate sleep and diet. When I do not feel right (headache, runny nose, etc.), I immediately take aspirin and go to sleep and often that turns things around. This may be hard to do if you are not retired, but I remember that, even in my working days, that mid-afternoon nap in the back of the car worked wonders.
Practice segregation. While this is considered politically incorrect, it works! If you feel something coming on, stay away from others, or better yet, stay home. When I see someone coughing and sneezing, I move far away from them. And hand shaking and hugs are suspended. Many of these respiratory illnesses are spread by droplet infection. Droplets of moisture carrying the infection are sprayed up to 6 feet during coughs. Stay out of range!
Don't touch nothing! Infections can exist on surfaces for a while. Avoid touching surfaces in public areas, and when you have to, wash often. While the infection will generally not affect you while on your hands, when you hand touches your face near your mouth, nose and eyes is when you pick up the infection. It is easy to say, "Don't touch your face”, but few are able to religiously adhere to this.
We are better off than most hobbies in that we can stay on the air
indefinitely and talk with zero risk of infection. To date, no infection has
found a way to ride on electromagnetic waves. But when interacting with other
people in person, be cognizant of the risks. Stay safe and healthy!