Greetings ARRL members and friends:
We’re on Daylight Savings Time now and have more daylight every day. We haven’t had much of a winter. And only now as I’m typing this, we’re expecting some heavy wet snow. Of course, if we get any, it won’t last or amount to very much.
For the first time in the 21 years I have served you as Section Manager, I am facing an opponent for re-election. This year, Nancy Austin KC1NEK is also running. She is currently president of the Newport County Radio Club. Obviously, I cannot suggest anything relative to the election other than to encourage you all to vote when ARRL sends you a ballot. Please make your selection and return your ballot to ARRL as soon as possible. Best advice is to fill out your ballot as soon as you receive it so it isn’t lost or mixed with your junk mail or bills. Then mail it back to ARRL right away in the envelope provided. Thank you.
HF propagation is beginning to show good signs. So, if you haven’t been on the air very much, I can tell you that you have missed some really good openings in the last few weeks. Six meters is starting to show activity also. Just yesterday, a station in Falkland Islands and several in South America were working stations up and down the east coast of US. It will only get better from here.
Weather has been reasonable this winter, so if you have been putting off some necessary antenna work, you have no excuse linked to the poor weather. Be careful, however. If you’re a senior citizen like me, please don’t think that you can still climb trees, tall ladders, get on your roof and do other risky antenna work. Yes, we want the antenna to be as high as possible but please get it there safely. Someone at ARRL said long ago that if your antenna didn’t come down over the winter, it wasn’t big enough. I guess that’s the tipping point.
The Volunteers on The Air (VOTA) program is creeping along steadily. Every day, I see stations on 20 and 40 meters calling CQ VOTA. I always try to work them in order to give them the Section Manager’s 175 points. I totally love the fact that VOTA is encouraging folks to get on the air. Far too many fellow hams are inactive on the air. Some use 2 meter repeaters but as you know, I consider this similar to using a wireless intercom and not radio. When was the last time that you made an honest HF contact? So long ago that you can’t remember? I know some hams who have never made a contact on the air and been licensed for many years. I can’t help but wonder why they bothered to get a license.
I can easily remember back in the dark ages when my first license, a Novice ticket arrived in that small FCC envelope. I literally ran from the mailbox to where I had set up my shack in my parent’s home. I was 14 years old and could hardly wait to call CQ on 80 meters. That was June, 1953 and the thrill of working distant stations hasn’t left to this day.
Sadly, some folks taking their exams now are doing it only to see if they can pass the test. Some simply want another line on their resume to help their job search.
We have nearly 800,000 licensed hams in the US. I suppose we should be happy that they all don’t get on any band at the same time and call CQ. What a mess it would be.
Amateur radio is the greatest hobby that we have in this world, in my humble opinion. I’ve held W1YRC for 70 years and hope to do so for several more. Ham radio has been a perfect fit for me. Many agree but others prefer messaging on their cell phone or just sending e-mail. Has ham radio become obsolete?
That question is as silly as asking if fishing or baseball has outlived its appeal. Anyone who actually thinks so doesn’t understand what the thrill is of radiating a signal to someone many miles away by using a radio that you built and can hold in the palm of your hand or an antenna that you made out of scrap wire with no connection with to Internet or telephone lines.
Like baseball or fishing, the appeal is inherent within the occupation itself. One cannot cast a line or swing a bat without feeling joy in your heart and pure love for the feeling. It’s therapeutic to slowly tune the bands looking for weak signals before others find them.
I feel no thrill when I dial my telephone. However, the feeling that I felt at age 14 is still loud and clear today when I call CQ. Where is my signal being heard? Who will respond to me? Will it be someone on the opposite side of the earth? That million dollar feeling doesn’t cost very much, other than the relatively small initial acquisition price of the radio. I just don’t have the same feeling of reward or accomplishment when I dial a phone or send a text message. I’m very happy that I hold a ham ticket. I know that special feeling very well and feel privileged.
Our licenses expire every ten years. Do you know the expiration date of your license? Check it or look yourself up on QRZ.com. I regularly hear about someone whose license expired many months ago and he didn’t realize it. No one will send you a reminder when your license needs renewal. The process is simple and may be done entirely on line, but you absolutely must do it. Don’t let your license expire. You worked hard to get it, so don’t lose it by forgetting to renew it. As an ARRL member, the good folks in Newington or I will be happy to help you if you have any difficulty in the renewal process.
I want to wish you a happy springtime and good DXing. Enjoy every day on the air.
ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC