Introducing the NWS Gray SKYWARN Official Supporter Program

During our presentation for the Maine Virtual Hamfest last month, we mentioned the creation of a new program to encourage greater participation in SKYWARN. I’d like to personally invite your organization to consider becoming an Official Supporter of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

Due to the enormous size of the Weather Forecast Area that NWS Gray is responsible for, which includes most of western and southern Maine and the entire state of New Hampshire, the task of covering it for SKYWARN is challenging. The only way we can effectively cover all of it is to lean on the support of local nets spread out across the entire area. That’s where the Official Supporter program comes in.

Many hams are naturally weather enthusiasts and you may already know a few who are, but an interest in weather isn’t necessary to take part. When hams put their radio skills to use by volunteering as a SKYWARN radio operator, they practice one of the most important ways they can apply those communications skills. SKYWARN traffic occurs real time, during ongoing weather events, and forecasters use the information exchanged to create, update, and validate warnings, which can save lives.

Being part of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team is a meaningful way to experience the hobby while making a positive impact on our community.

As an Official Supporter, we recognize that your organization will embrace SKYWARN as a way to enhance the amateur radio experience, use it as a real-time training and preparedness tool to sharpen Emergency Communications skills, and to provide a vital service.

Thank you,

Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Here’s how you can help:

Criteria to earn Official Supporter status:

  • Commit at least one (1) liaison to SKYWARN, and one (1) local Net Control operator (this can be the same person or different people within your organization.
  • Activate local nets as needed or as requested by NWS throughout the year.
  • Participate in regional drills and exercises throughout the year.
  • Maintain a list of trained SKYWARN Spotter ham radio operators within your organization.
  • Assist in hosting SKYWARN Spotter training in your area.
  • Actively support and promote the SKYWARN program within your organization and community.

What you’ll receive:

  • Guidance from NWS Gray SKYWARN leadership and support materials.
  • Access to the SKYWARN net reporting form.
  • Certificates and recognition for your team’s efforts throughout the year.
  • Official SKYWARN swag.
  • A special logo representing your team’s status as an Official NWS Gray SKYWARN Supporter.
  • Your organization will be listed on the NWS Gray SKYWARN website and in future press releases as an Official Supporter.

Click here for more information about the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

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Meeting On The Air – Tonight at 7PM

Join us this evening, April 15th, at 7:00PM on the 147.090 repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.

On the agenda, we’ll review minutes from the most recent Monthly Meeting, in which we talked about Membership Outreach, describe a new feature on the website called Helping Hams, where club members can coordinate helping each other out with ham radio projects, and make announcements about upcoming items of interest. For tonight’s topic, we’ll be asking you to reflect on your first Amateur Radio QSO.

As always, if you have HF capabilities, you’re welcome to join us on 28.455 USB for the After Net, immediately following our net on the repeater.

See you there!

73′

Tim, KB1HNZ

NWS Gray Announces Virtual SKYWARN Weather Spotter Training

Help your National Weather Service by becoming a SKYWARN storm spotter! Storm spotters report large hail, damaging wind, tornadoes and flooding. Spotter training will teach you how to identify and report severe weather as well as how to maintain awareness, which will help keep you and your loved ones safe, and may even save the lives of others!

Where: Your Home

When: Monday, May 3rd, at 6:00 PM, Thursday, May 13th, at 6:00 PM, & Tuesday, May 18th, at 6:00 PM.

Cost: FREE to all those interested in weather!

Please visit: https://www.weather.gov/gyx/skywarn to register. You can also contact Donald Dumont: donald.dumont@noaa.gov for additional information on this training.

Meeting Reminder – This Evening from 7PM-9PM

Please join us this evening from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, at 200 U.S. Route 1, Suite 210, Scarborough, ME, for our monthly business meeting. Per the Governor’s recent executive order, please wear face coverings at all times, if you plan on attending.

On the agenda, we’ll be reviewing the 2021 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge, which took place last Saturday, talk about the new Maine Dirigo Net that is scheduled to begin on the Maine Statewide DMR Talkgroup this Sunday, and also vote on membership outreach and recruitment items for 2021.

If you’d like to join us remotely, here’s the dial-in instructions:

Dial-in number (US): (425) 436-6366
Access code: 2618168#
International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/kb1hnz
Online meeting ID: kb1hnz
Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/kb1hnz

For additional assistance connecting to the meeting, text ‘Call Me’ to the Dial-in number above and you will be called into the conference. Message and data rates may apply.

See you there!

73′

Tim, KB1HNZ

The Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is this Saturday!

The Maine 2 meter FM Simplex Challenge is this Saturday!

Contest Period: Saturday, April 3rd, 2021 from 12PM-4PM.

Contacts are limited to FM Simplex on the 2 meter band.

Participants may be entered as either fixed or mobile, (but not as both).

Exchange – Exchange items include your call sign, the name of the city, village, town, or township you are operating from, and your power level. Rovers and mobiles must be within the city limits of whatever city they claim to be operating from.

City or Town – This is simply the name of the city or town you are operating from. If you do not live within the city limits, use the name of the town or municipality to which mail or a package would be addressed.

For mobile entries, use the name of the city or town you are in, or the closest city or town.

Power levels are defined as follows:
• QRP – 5 watts or less
• Medium Power – greater than 5 watts, but less than 100
• High Power – 100 watts or more

Entry Categories – There are two entry categories: Fixed and Mobile. You may enter only one category for the contest. If a station gives out more than one multiplier during the contest, that station will automatically be entered into the mobile category.

Click here for complete rules – and don’t forget there’s a club competition as well!

Catch you on the air!

WSSM-ECT Training Net 03/25/2021 Net Report

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the WSSM-ECT Training Net! We had 7 check-ins, a few of which only participated via Packet. The net started on time, at 7:00PM. Tim KB1HNZ served as moderator.

Among the items discussed were the Maine Packet Network and Packet Radio in general. Even while the repeater portion of the net was taking place, we had an active chat session going on Packet, and several had already sent their first messages via BBS and Winlink. Thanks to Brad KC1JMH for helping participants out with problem solving (including myself), and answering questions.

Net Participants:

  • KC1JMH Brad, Waterboro, ME (Phone, CHAT, BBS, Winlink)
  • KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, ME (Phone)
  • KB1FGF Dave, Scarborough, ME (Phone)
  • KC1HBM Peter, Scarborough, ME (Winlink)
  • N1XP Roger, Waterboro, ME (BBS, Winlink)
  • KC1ETT Jimmy, Wells, ME (CHAT, BBS, Winlink)
  • KB1TCE Steve, Owls Head, ME (BBS, Winlink)
  • KB1HNZ Tim, Saco, ME – Net Control (Phone, CHAT, BBS, Winlink)

At one point, some time after 8:00, the W1YCA node, in Alfred, started acting up. Myself and a few others were able to maintain a good connection to it for almost an hour prior. Brad KC1JMH was able to telnet in and restart it, but it still didn’t seem right after that. This morning, however, I connected right up to the BBS, CHAT, and via Winlink, and everything seemed okay.

Nevertheless, we had a fun CHAT session going and Brad, who was multitasking, helping Peter KC1HBM get connected, also helped me troubleshoot why my call sign wasn’t displaying correctly. As it turns out, I just needed to treat my Kenwood D710 like a hardware TNC and enter “MY KB1HNZ” prior to connecting to a node, and that solved the problem.

This was a fun training and we’ll keep working over the next few months to get some more hams active on Packet.

73′

Tim

KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net Tonight at 7:00 PM!

Please join us this evening, March 25th, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly On-Air Drill!

Last month we talked about the ARRL Radiogram and ICS-213 message forms and we practiced sending those over the air. We had lots of positive feedback about that and we will continue to practice message handling in the coming weeks.

Tonight, we’re going to build on a discussion that we started a couple of weeks ago during our monthly business meeting, and that’s Packet Radio and the Maine Packet Network. Brad KC1JMH gave a nice presentation on the topic, and he introduced a very informative website: www.mainepacketradio.org – Click this link if you’d like to follow along during the net.

For tonight’s on-air training, we’re asking that anyone who is equipped for Packet Radio to connect to your nearest node, check your messages, and send a message to either myself or Brad KC1JMH. If you have Winlink Express installed, you can connect via that same node (if it includes that feature), and send a message that way as well.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

FCC Not Collecting $35 Application Fees Just Yet

According to a recent ARRL News item, published March 22nd, the new $35 amateur radio license application fee will NOT become effective on April 19th, as originally reported.

The ARRL states that “the majority of the FCC’s revised Part 97 rules (adopted in December 2020) establishing new license application fees become effective April 19, but the new amateur radio license application fees will NOT become effective on April 19, 2021.”

The FCC announced on March 19, 2021 that the amateur radio license fees, including those associated with Form 605 filings, would not become effective until the “requisite notice has been provided to Congress, the FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures have been updated, and the Commission publishes notice(s) in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of such rules.”

When it becomes effective, the $35 license application fee would apply to new, modifications (upgrades and sequential call sign changes), renewals, and vanity call sign applications, as well as applications for a special temporary authority (STA) or a rule waiver. All fees will be per application. Administrative updates, such as changing a mailing or email address, are exempt.

It is expected that such fees will not become effective before summer 2021. The FCC has stated that amateurs will have advance warning of the actual effective date, because it will publish such date in the Federal Register.

The 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

Thanks to the efforts of Joe Grace W1SK and Cory Golob KU1U, who put in countless hours to make it a reality, hams around the state, and elsewhere, gathered for the Maine Virtual Hamfest, on Saturday, March 6th! With in-person events still being cancelled due to the pandemic, this was the perfect opportunity to get caught up on all things ham radio in Maine.

The Maine Virtual Hamfest offered many of the same features you’d expect to see at a regular hamfest, including presentations, club meetings and talks, a place to socialize and make “eyeball QSOs” and even a virtual flea market.

The highlight of the event were the presentations, and the most anticipated of those was “Optimizing Your Audio,” by Bob Heil K9EID. There were also presentations on FT8, antennas, SKYWARN, and an ARRL forum, where attendees could learn about what was going on around the state and at the New England and national level at ARRL.

Bob Heil K9EID presenting “Optimizing Your Audio” during the 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine was represented by Eric Emery N1RXR and Tim Watson KB1HNZ, who gave a presentation at 9:30 Saturday morning, about the NWS Gray Amateur Radio SKYWARN program. Click here to view the recorded presentation.

“From our perspective, the Maine Virtual Hamfest was a huge success, and we were proud to be a part of it,” said Eric Emery. “Hopefully, we can all meet in person next year, but if not, this is a fantastic model to go by if it needs to be done this way again.”

If you were busy on the 6th and didn’t have a chance to attend any of the presentations, they were all recorded and are available on the Maine ARRL YouTube page.

Click here to visit the Maine Virtual Hamfest website.