Self-Quarantine SKYWARN Drill 042320 – Net Report

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Thanks to everyone who checked in and participated! We had a great turnout on both simplex and DMR, with 22 check-ins! The purpose of the drill was to expose participants to the SKYWARN simplex frequency and the Severe Weather Report form, test our simplex coverage, and also test out the SKYWARN DMR Talk Group.

The simplex portion of the net started on time, at 7:00 PM (2300 UTC), on 146.595. Net Control: KB1HNZ Tim, in Saco. We had 10 check-ins and handled 13 pieces of weather traffic:

KC1DFO Pete, in Dayton, ME (2301 UTC)
Contacted 2 stations: KC1HBL, KB1HNZ, Traffic handled: 1

KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, ME (2303 UTC)
Contacted 7 stations: KB1PLY, KC1HBM, W1SFS, N1BIM, KB1HNZ, KC1JMH, AB1BX Traffic handled: 5

KB1PLY Rory, in Saco, ME (2305 UTC)
Contacted 6 stations: N1BIM, KC1HBM, KB1HNZ, W1SFS, AB1BX, KC1HBL, Traffic handled: 1

W1SFS Jason, in Scarborough, ME (2307 UTC)
Contacted 6 stations: KC1HBL, KB1PLY, KC1HBM, N1BIM, K1MGR, KB1HNZ, Traffic handled: 1

N1BIM Joe, in Old Orchard Beach, ME (2310 UTC)
Contacted 6 stations: KB1PLY, W1SFS, KC1HBL, K1MGR, KC1HBM, KB1HNZ, Traffic handled: 1

WX1GYX op. N1RXR Eric, in New Gloucester, ME (2315 UTC)
Contacted 1 station: KC1HBL, Traffic handled: 13

N1CKM Wayne, in Barnstead, NH (2316 UTC)
Contacted 1 station: KC1HBL, Traffic handled: 1

K1MGR Greg, in Scarborough, ME (2317 UTC)
Contacted 4 stations: KC1HBL, KB1HNZ, W1SFS, KC1HBM, Traffic handled: 1

KC1HBM Peter, in Scarborough, ME (2318 UTC)
Contacted 6 stations: KB1PLY, KB1HNZ, N1BIM, KC1HBL, W1SFS, K1MGR, Traffic handled: 1

KC1JMH Brad, in North Waterboro, ME (2321 UTC)
Contacted 1 station: KC1HBL, Traffic handled: 2

The Simplex Net was secured at 7:59 PM (2359 UTC), after a round of informals.

The DMR net started at 8:01PM on the SKYWARN DMR Talk Group 759. Net Control: KB1HNZ Tim, in Saco. We had 12 check-ins and handled 9 pieces of weather traffic:

KC1JMH Brad, in North Waterboro, ME (0001 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
KC1HBM Pete, in Scarborough, ME (0001 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
W1EAV Chris, in Marion, MA (0002 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
W2VAN Mike, in Portland, ME (0005 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
NE1B Bill, in Hudson, MA (0007 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
N1KMX Scott, in Weymouth, MA (0009 UTC) No traffic
N1JGB Bruce, in Essex Junction, VT (0010 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
K1MGR Greg, in Scarborough, ME (0011 UTC) No traffic
W1HAI Joe, in Natick, MA (0012 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
N1BIM Joe, in Old Orchard Beach, ME (0014 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
W1SHS Stu, in Franklin, MA (0016 UTC) Traffic handled: 1
N1XRX Dennis, in Weymouth, MA (0029 UTC) No traffic

The DMR net was secured at 8:29 PM (0029 UTC).

All the weather traffic was relayed either directly or by Winlink, to SKYWARN liaison N1RXR, who checked in as WX1GYX.

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Self-Quarantine SKYWARN Drill

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Join us this Thursday evening from 7PM-8PM, on 146.595 FM Simplex, for the Self Quarantine SKYWARN Drill. This will be similar to previous simplex drills, but the traffic to be exchanged will be your current weather, using the format of the Severe Weather Report Form, which can be downloaded here as a filable PDF. The goal will be to pass your traffic to WX1GYX, who will be checking in.

Once the net is secured on 2 meter simplex, those with DMR capabilities will be asked to check in on the DMR Talkgroup (759), where we will continue the net and take additional traffic from those who couldn’t get in on simplex.

 

Meeting On-the-Air 04/16/2020 Net Report

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Thanks to everyone who checked in and participated! We had a great turnout, with 17 check-ins!

The net started on time, at 7:00 PM, on the W1QUI 147.090 repeater. Net Control: KB1HNZ Tim, in Saco. We had 17 check-ins:

KC1JMH Brad, in North Waterboro
W1QUI George, in Auburn
KC1KWH Anne, in Waterboro
KC1AOT Ron, in Denmark
KC1MSR Nick, in Gorham
W1SFS Jason, in Scarborough
KC1MSQ Cole, in Gorham
KC1HBL Ben, in Buxton
K1MGR Greg, in South Portland
KC1SQ Todd, in Standish
KC1HJN Waylon, in Windham
NB9D Neil, in Paris
N1RXR Eric, in New Gloucester
KC1MSO James, in Portland
N1BJX BJ, in Kennebunk
W1TGG Tim, in Sanford

In Old Business, March’s meeting topic was the Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge, which took place on Saturday, March 28th. Quite a few of the check-ins mentioned that they participated in the contest, and a few did for the first time. Net Control mentioned there being a lot of new activity in the midcoast. Also, in Old Business was mention of the Winter Field Day Follow-up, and the fact that news came in about the cancellation of the Maine ARRL Convention during the March meeting.

In New Business, we discussed the recent Self-Quarantine Simplex Drills, of which there have been two so far, and also the Winlink Drill that took place the previous Thursday. Brad KC1JMH mentioned possible interference as preventing him and others from being able to connect to the local Packet nodes. Turnout for the drills has been excellent, and there have also been a lot of positive comments about them.

The topic for the evening was a discussion about 2020 Field Day, and the fact that we will very likely have to do it differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some options that were brought up included encouraging members to operate portable from their own homes, in the B category, or to find a way to setup as a club and schedule operations so only one or two people are present at a time.

Ron KC1AOT suggested we operate from our homes, while Todd KC1SQ, and a few others, suggested we keep an eye on the response from the ARRL, in case they announce any rule changes that might allow club members to operate from within a wider radius and still contribute to a combined club score. Regardless of how Field Day comes together, there will likely be less public visibility or interaction with visitors, so this presents an opportunity to try something different, like live streaming, to reach new folks. WSSM leadership will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation, and pay close attention to the guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local authorities.

The Net was secured at 7:39 PM, after a round of informals.

This was followed by the After Net, on 28.455 MHz USB. Participants included: KB1HNZ, W1SFS, and N1BJX.

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Self-Quarantine Winlink Drill

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Getting stir crazy yet? We have a new challenge for you! Join us this Thursday, from 7PM-8PM for the “Self-Quarantine Winlink Drill.” Building on the success of our recent simplex drills, we’re adding a Winlink component.

The purpose will be to relay radiogram messages via Winlink, by connecting to the RMS network using any method you prefer. One option is to connect by VHF, through the Maine Packet Network, or you could connect to a Winlink node via HF.

The drill begins at 7PM Thursday evening. In the meantime, if you haven’t used Winlink before, the first step is to download Winlink Express, and click here to follow the instructions for “How To Get An Account.” First time users can find lots of helpful info, including video links on the Winlink.org website.

Once you’re up and running, get familiar with how to send a message, post it to the outbox, and what templates are available. For this exercise, we’ll use the RRI Radiogram.txt form template (see below). Choose the Region 1 Liaison to send your message.

RRI_Template

The suggested content of your Radiogram is “What method I used to send my message.”

Catch you on the air!
73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Self-Quarantine Simplex Drill #2 – Net Report

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Self Quarantine Simplex Drill #2 – Net Report

Thanks to everyone who checked in and participated! We had a great turnout with 9 check-ins, and handled 13 messages altogether. Besides giving us an opportunity to practice our traffic handling skills – this time using the ICS-213 message format, the exercise helps us to determine who can hear each other, and which ops could serve as key stations during an actual emergency net on simplex.

Congrats to Paul KB1IAW, who contacted 5 stations directly and handled 5 pieces of traffic! Paul is our winner! Our honorable mentions go out to Ben KC1HBL, and Waylon KC1HJN, who each contacted 5 stations directly, and handled 4 pieces of traffic. Great job, everyone! See the net report below:

The net started on time, at 7:00 PM. Net Control: KB1HNZ Tim, in Saco.
We had 9 check-ins, and 1 listener:

KB1IAW Paul, in North Yarmouth (2300 UTC)
Contacted 5 stations: KC1HJN, KC1HBL, KB1HNZ, KB1PLY, KC1HJK. Traffic handled: 5

K1MGR Greg, in South Portland /mobile (2301 UTC)
Was operating another net simultaneously, but contacted 2 stations: KB1IAW, and KB1HNZ

KB1PLY Rory, in Saco (2302 UTC)
Contacted 2 stations: KB1HNZ, KC1HBL. Traffic handled: 3

KC1AOT Ron, in Denmark (2303 UTC)
Contacted 4 stations: KC1HBL, KB1IAW, KC1HJN, and NB9D. Traffic handled: 1

KC1HBL Ben, in Buxton (2303 UTC)
Contacted 5 stations: KB1PLY, KB1IAW, KB1HNZ, KC1HJN, KC1JMH. Traffic handled: 4

KC1HJN Waylon, in Windham (2305 UTC)
Contacted 5 stations: NB9D, KC1HBL, KB1IAW, KC1AOT, KC1HJK. Traffic handled: 4

KC1HJK Eric, in New Gloucester (2314 UTC)
Early check-out, but contacted 4 stations: KC1HBL, KC1HJN, KB1IAW, NB9D. Traffic handled: 3

KC1JMH Brad, in North Waterboro (2320 UTC)
Contacted 1 station: KC1HBL. Traffic handled: 2

NB9D Neil, in Paris (2330 UTC)
Contacted 4 stations: KC1HBL, KB1IAW, KC1HJN, KC1HJK

KC1DFQ Margaret, in Westbrook (Listening)
Could hear 3 stations: KC1HBL, KC1HJN, and KB1IAW.

 

73′

Tim  KB1HNZ

Self-Quarantine Simplex Drill #2

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Still got the self-quarantine blues? We have a solution for that! Pick up yourt microphone and join us this Thursday evening from 7PM – 8PM for the “Self Quarantine Simplex Drill #2.”

The purpose of this drill will be to relay messages of Ham Radio Humor using the ICS-213 message format, via 2 Meter FM Simplex. The participant that relays the most traffic and establishes contact with the most others, wins a prize!

The drill begins at 7PM Thursday evening on 146.580 FM Simplex.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Exploring Trends in Amateur Radio Licensing

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Last evening, our club hosted the first of several VE exams for the year, and we had a great turnout. Not only were there quite a few upgrades, but also several newcomers who earned their first licenses. And this has been a steady trend since we began hosting these exams in 2010. It started me wondering what the national trends might be, so I began to research it.

Joe Speroni AH0A, makes this research pretty simple. He has compiled data for each U.S. license class in the U.S. dating back to the late 1990’s, and the numbers show that amateur radio is not just doing well, but thriving! Total licenses have increased by 11.42% since 1997, reaching an all-time high of 755,952 in January 2019, but that only tells part of the story.

So where are the biggest changes taking place? Let’s take a closer look. The Technician Class has seen an increase of 22% over the same period, from 314,532 licenses in 1997 to 384,509 in 2019. General Class went up by 50%, from 116,629 in 1997 to 176,089 in 2019, and Extra went up by a staggering 100.1%! In 1997 there were only 73,737 licensed Extras in the U.S., but by 2019 that number grew to 147,560.

hamlicenses-each-class

It would be natural to say that these increases were a direct result of the Morse code requirement being dropped by the FCC in 2007, after the ITU ratified changes to the Radio Regulations to allow each country to determine whether it would require a person seeking an amateur radio license to demonstrate the ability to send and receive Morse code. General class licenses increased by over 5,000 between December 2006 and March 2007, which can most likely be attributed to the Morse code requirement change but, except for a jump during that period, the trend is much more gradual. Surprisingly, General Class licenses actually decreased between December 2006 and January 2007, possibly suggesting that some folks waited to upgrade until the new regulations came into effect, which also skewed the results somewhat. Extra class licenses show a steady increase over time, with one notable increase between April 2000 and June 2000, where it jumped from 77,530 to 90,451. Technician also shows a steady increase over time, but dropped between February and March 2007, around the same time that the Morse Code requirement was changed.

The Advanced and Novice license classes have seen a steady decline since license restructuring began in April 2000. From that point forward, no new Advanced, Tech Plus, or Novice licenses were issued, and many of these hams have since upgraded to one or the other license classes. Many Advanced have upgraded to Extra, Tech Plus was absorbed into the Technician Class, which also gained privileges on 10 meters and CW portions of 40 and 80 meters, and Novices have upgraded to either Technician or above. It is surprising to see, however, that although its been 20 years since that change took place, there are still many Advanced and Novice licenses active.

These trends are a good sign that the hobby is healthy and continuously growing. We see it on the local level, and its good to see that the same is happening nationwide.

Looking at some other countries, Germany’s ham population dropped between 2004 and 2005, but has steadily increased since, with over 81,000 licensed hams in in the most recent year of record. Japan’s numbers are all across the board. They saw the largest increases in new licenses between 1987 and 1996, with over 100,000 new licenses per year, but that decreased to a low of 15,896 in 2004, and it’s been increasing steadily since. In the United Kingdom, new licenses have been on a steady rise since 2005, going from 6,948 per year in 2005, to 21,791 in 2016, which is a 213.6% increase.

There are obviously many different factors that have played a role in shaping these figures, and it would take a lot of time to explore all of them, but a few come to mind right away. The FCC and ARRL have done a great job over the past two decades to simplify the licensing structure, which has attracted many newcomers to the hobby, and encourages existing hams to pursue upgrades. Ham radio gear has also become more accessible and affordable than ever. An entry level HT costs $30 today, compared with $150-$200 when I first got started in the hobby in 2001. New digital modes such as FT8, DMR, D-STAR, Fusion, and others, open the hobby up to new people, and the QRP movement combines experimenters, kit builders, and outdoor enthusiasts, who enjoy operating portable from mountaintops, parks, and more, adding a whole new element to the hobby.

Ham radio is also more accessible now than ever before. When I first became interested in the hobby, in the early 1990’s, it wasn’t easy to find even basic information about it. The Berkshire Athenaeum, our local library, had books about it from the 1970’s, that were great for learning about radio theory, but they didn’t answer simple questions, like “how do I get a license?..” “Where do I get a radio?…” “How do I find out more?” It wasn’t until our household got the internet that I could research that information. There’s a lot of folks these days that say that the computer and the internet are “killing ham radio,” but my experience is very much the opposite. Who can imagine a radio room without a computer? We use it to look up call signs, check DX spots, examine the propagation, and so much more! And we use tools like electronic logging, software defined radios, and rig control every day. In many ways these advances are the best thing to happen to amateur radio.

If you’re interested in learning more about the trends in amateur radio licensing, click here to visit Joe Speroni’s FCC license data table.

And, as always, please share your thoughts and comments.


Works Cited:

“Total FCC Licenses, by month, by class.” Joe Speroni, AH0A:  http://www.ah0a.org/FCC/Licenses.html

“Ham Licenses Each Class.” 02/21/2020. Web Image: http://www.clearskyinstitute.com/ham/stats/index.html

“Ham Licenses Total.” 02/21/2020. Web Image: http://www.clearskyinstitute.com/ham/stats/index.html

The Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is Saturday, March 28th

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CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT

Saturday, March 28th, from 12PM – 4PM

The 2020 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Saturday, March 28th, for 4 hours, beginning at 12pm local time!

Getting started is easy!

Choose a power level from: QRP (5 watts or less), Medium (Greater than 5, but less than 100 watts), or High (100 watts or more), and decide whether to operate as Fixed or Mobile.

The Exchange is 3 items: your call sign, the name of the city, village, town, or township you are operating from, and your power level.

For example, if your call sign is W1ZZ, and you’re operating from your home station in Gorham, and running 50 watts, you’d say: “Please copy, Whiskey One Zulu Zulu, Gorham, Medium Power”.

Suggested frequencies: 146.475, 146.490, 146.505, 146.550, 146.565, 146.580, 147.420, 147.435, 147.450, 147.465, 147.480, 147.495, 147.510, 147.525, 147.540, 147.555, 147.570.

Contacts with an EOC, SKYWARN, Red Cross, or other served agency station are worth 2 points each! Check out the official rules for more details.

Now, get on the air, and have fun!

Click here for complete rules and details.

The Maine 200 Special Event is less than a month away!

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The excitement is building!

It’s hard to believe, but the Maine Bicentennial Special Event is less than a month away! Activities will kick off at 0000 UTC on March 16th.

We still need some operators! If you’re interested in participating, click here for more information about the event and how you can help.

The Maine 200 Special Event recognizes the original 9 Counties of the State of Maine, plus Jameson Tavern in Freeport, the Town of Portland, and Boston, which all played important roles in Maine’s history around the time of statehood.  Special 1-by-1 call signs will commemorate each county and special location.

The Maine 200 Special Event Stations are:

Cumberland: W1C
Hancock: W1H
Kennebec: W1K
Lincoln: W1L
Oxford: W1O
Penobscot: W1P
Somerset: W1S
Washington: W1W
York: W1Y

Jameson Tavern: K1J
Town of Portland: K1P
City of Boston: K1B

Operations will take place on HF, 6m, 2m, and 70cm.  Modes include CW, Phone, and Digital. This allows all Maine Amateur Radio operators to participate in some form.

Certificates will be available for chasers as well as operators. 

Participants can choose to operate at their convenience by signing up on a spreadsheet on the event website. Simply notate the Time Block, and select the Band and Mode you wish to operate. You can operate from your home or any remote location as long as it’s listed on the corresponding County spreadsheet.  (e.g.  QTH is in Hancock County but operating in Cumberland Co. The operator would use the Cumberland County spreadsheet).

If you’re interested in operating, please sign up on the appropriate spreadsheet for your “1820 county.” If you need help determining which is the right one, or if you have any questions, please send an email to: ws1sm@yahoo.com. Be sure to title your message as: Maine 200 Special Event.

Whether its as a chaser or operator, we look forward to having you take part in this Special Event for Amateur Radio in Maine!

73′

Maine 200 Special Event Committee