CT RFI Team Receives Equipment at ARRL HQ

The CT RFI team met at ARRL HQ in Newington, CT on Saturday, February 25.  Training was performed by Rob Leiden, K1UI, New England Division Assistant Director, with the help of Ed Hare, W1RFI and Steve Anderson, W1EMI of the ARRL Lab.  A reference handout, developed with the assistance of EMA Team Lead Dan Brown, W1DAN, provided information about the use of the RFI team equipment.  Four of the seven sections have now been trained and received their equipment, funded by a grant from ARDC.  Another session is scheduled for Nearfest in Deerfield, NH on Saturday, April 29. RFI casework is already in progress with several cases already resolved. Interest in this effort continues to grow as the teams become better equipped and the success of their work becomes known.  If you are interested in helping out and have some experience finding and correcting RFI, contact the team lead for your section for more information.

ARRL Year of the Volunteer: Ray Irwin, WA1FFT

Ray, WA1FFTDouglas Sharafanowich, WA1SFH, writes:


2023 is the ARRL Year of the Volunteer.

It is my pleasure to introduce Ray Irwin, WA1FFT.

Ray recently stepped forward and volunteered to be the Emergency Coordinator (EC) for the town of North Haven (CT ARES – Region 2).

Ray is a person who gets things done. As a way to kickstart this new ARES team, and get some publicity, he contacted the local multi-town weekly newspaper. That paid off with an interview was published this week.

We have several towns currently without an appointed EC, and need people to fill those roles.

Reach out to volunteer . . . just like Ray did.

Here is who to contact:
Regions 1, 4, 5: Phil – K1XFC (Section Emergency Coordinator) k1xfc@arrl.net
Region 2: Douglas – WA1SFH (District Emergency Coordinator) – wa1sfh@optonline.net
Region 3: Bill – AB1LZ (District Emergency Coordinator) – ab1lz@arrl.net

73, Douglas Sharafanowich – WA1SFH
ARES District Emergency Coordinator (DEC)
Region 2 – Connecticut Section

Lobstercon2023, Brunswick Maine, Date Change

Rex Harper, W1REX, writes:

My fellow Lobstercon campers,

I got a call from Mike Mulligan the other night and he tells me that due to a screw up, the Jam Festival festival also changed their dates to the same weekend that I scheduled Lobstercon2023! I set the date last fall and notified him but apparently that notice didn’t get written onto the calendar so now we have a problem. The Jam Festival needs the entire park and our lovely corner for their festivities…. Their numbers are much larger than ours so we really can’t take them on in a fight! Looks like it is up to me to change the Lobstercon date so that everyone is happy…especially Carl! So it looks like Lobstercon2023! will NOW be held on July 7, 8 and 9. I am sorry for the confusion. I elected to go to the alternate weekend so that early campers and long distance travelers wouldn’t have to put up with July 4th vacationers either in the park or on the road.

Mike says I can blame him, but really, it’s those music jam people taking over OUR campground on OUR weekend that I fault. I hope this change is early enough that it doesn’t cause anyone any vacation hardship….

Rex  W1REX

Rhode Island February Activity Report

We surely cannot complain so far, about the winter we’ve had. Some weather people are saying that this is the kind of winter that we can expect in the future. I’m sure that many folks in RI who are skiers are not happy to hear that but for myself, this sounds great. There’s still plenty of time for a good old fashion snow storm and we could get one in the remaining weeks of winter and early spring. But the days are getting longer, Red Sox are in spring training at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Any bad stuff we get now will go away quickly. 

Just as I was preparing this report, the sun took our attention and popped a number of sunspots. The Solar Flux reading read an incredible 343!  A week ago, the index was about 140. A 200 point jump in a week is something I have never seen in my 70 years as a ham. The HF bands are jumping. The ARRL CW DX Contest weekend is going as I write this. I can imagine that participants will score very highly with these extraordinary conditions. Many have never seen 10 meters so wide open to so many parts of the world at the same time. The SF index dropped back to normal levels, about 160, within 24 hours, but the HF bands remain in super condition. 

The Volunteers on The Air or VOTA activity is rolling along. I have made several contacts with stations across the country. Rules and detailed information may be found at https://www.arrl.org/volunteers-on-the-air. The scoreboard at https://vota.arrl.org/leaderboard.php will show you how many contacts you have made. It doesn’t show your point score yet however. Maybe that’s one of the features under construction. 

Virtual Ham Expo will be held on March 25-26. See https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/?mc_cid=cfa50a6bb8&mc_eid=d3e32f2624 for details. There are lots of forums and presentations offered but you must register. 

The second most wanted DX entity in the world, Bouvet Island, was active for a few days this month. It was a far cry from an easy relaxing vacation type of operation. In fact, it was downright dangerous and miserable. See https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/?mc_cid=cfa50a6bb8&mc_eid=d3e32f2624 and read the latest news at https://www.dx-world.net/3y0j-by-wd5cov/. Their goal was to log more than 200,000 QSOs but they realized fewer than 20,000. Conditions were severe and tested the 13 participating operators to their limits. Happily, no one was hurt or worse. Bouvet will likely remain the second most rare on earth, second only to North Korea. 

ARRL Foundation Accepting Applications for Grants in February, until the end of the month. Go to http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-foundation-accepting-applications-for-grants-in-february for details. 

Our Air Force may have shot down a ham radio balloons in the recent Chinese balloon incident. See https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a42952566/air-force-shoots-down-hobby-balloon-ufo/.

I recently submitted the necessary forms and signatures required to permit me to run for re-election as Section Manager. If no one runs against me, I’ll receive a phone call and/or an e mail note from HQ informing me that I’m signed up for two more years. At my age, I hope I can fulfill that commitment, but I shall try. I was appointed to fill the remainder of K1FLD’s term as SM. That was in January, 2002. I honestly never intended to keep the job past the end of K1FLD’s term in 2003, but somehow I stayed. I’ve submitted the necessary papers every two years since then because many of you told me that you wanted me to stay. You should think about my successor because I can’t live forever. My Ass’t SM is Marc, W1MCX. He is a very good ham and will make a very good SM if he wants the post when I’m finished. That time might be years down the line.  73 and see you next month,

ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC

Foxhunt in Wallingford CT, February 19, 2023

Dave Tipping, NZ1J, writes on the ctfoxhunter list on February 18, 2023 at 3:13 PM:

We’ll have a live Fox Hunt on Sunday [February 19, 2023] from 9:30 am until 11:00 am. The Fox will be hidden somewhere in Wallingford, which is a 50 square mile area.

We’ll be using these three frequencies:

  • There will be a 1-watt signal continuously on 146.565 MHz. It will make a short beep every three seconds and will ID in Morse Code every minute.
  • The 10mW transmitter is on 147.475 MHz and will beep every three seconds and will ID in Morse Code every minute.
  • The 1mW transmitter is on 146.315 MHz and beeps every three seconds and ID as W1NRG in Morse Code every minute. Expect a range of only about 1/10 mile on this transmitter.

There is no central starting location. And, there will be no check-ins prior to the hunt. Hunters should be at a location of their own choosing and listening on 146.565 at 9:30.

There may be a two second long test of the 146.565 transmitter at 9:25.

Other Fox Hunters can be contacted on the W1NRG repeater 147.360 with PL 162.2 Hunters with an extra radio available might do well to monitor 147.360 throughout the hunt.

Good luck.

Dave NZ1J

Granite State ARA Participates in Career & Technical Education Event at Local High School

GSARA CTE Event photo #1On Thursday evening, February 2, the Granite State Amateur Radio Association participated in an inaugural event at Milford High School called Milford Applied Technology CTE.  Samantha Belcourt-Director, Jennifer DiMaria-Career Development Specialist, and Frank Xydias-engineering and STEM educator, hosted the event. U.S. Congress representative Ann Kuster participated in the opening remarks.

Approximately fifteen exhibitors, mostly local high-tech companies, community colleges, and universities, had exhibits and handouts. Also, tours of the facility were provided, including the precision machining shop, 3-D printing, and construction technology areas. Good food was offered by Windows on West Street, a student-operated restaurant that serves as a real-life course for students serving meals to the greater community two days a week.

GSARA CTE photo #2The GSARA table included an operating Icom IC-7300 HF station in a “go box” with an outdoor CrankIR portable vertical antenna and various hand-held VHF radios. Numerous hand-outs were provided by ARRL (Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, Education and Learning Manager), including Why Should You Give Amateur Radio a Try? and What Amateur Radio Can Do for Your School and Students. Students, parents, and teachers learned about our hobby and how it can initiate a passion for exciting, well-paying technical careers. GSARA provided other material.

Support for the club effort was provided by: Bill, W1WRA; Bill, KE1G; Eric, N1JUR; John, K1XF; Mike, W1EAA; Ryan, W1SNH; and Tom, AC1J.  

“Ham Radio is a Gateway to Technology”

Contributed by Nancy Austin, KC1NEK, Newport County Radio Club:

VNA photo

As a curious 13-year old, Chris Lirakis joined the ARRL and now a half-century later is a Quantum Two Systems Engineer for IBM and ham operator, Chris AA9AL. I had the chance to interview Dr. Lirakis recently when the Newport County (RI) Radio Club (NCRC) gathered at local maker space FabNewport. Our team goal that night was to build the 6-GHz Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) the NCRC was able to purchase because of a successful club grant award from the ARRL Foundation. NCRC project leads are Paul Fredette, K1YBE, and Rob White, KB1ZZU. As we waited to start, I was curious what had made Dr. Lirakis, a busy physicist, prioritize being here tonight? What did he feel was most important to convey to other people about why this new VNA really was a game changer? With no hesitation, he shared these perspectives:

“Everyone knows that an antenna has an SWR, but what does that really mean? Physically? Well, an antenna is just a tuned circuit, and a VNA is an unparalleled tool for predictive diagnostics. With the recent introduction of the affordable ($35-50) 1-GHz Nano-VNA in our lifetime, anyone can now easily experiment with various antenna parameters and with the help of visualization software instantly see how this one parameter change would impact the antenna’s performance. Indeed, a 2021 conference paper* on Post-Pandemic learning disruption called out the Nano-VNA for transforming how any student could now get comfortable understanding what a Nano-VNA could do, at their own learning pace. Low risk; high fun. And yes, you too can come to love Smith Charts.”

VNA - Smith Chart

But the Nano-VNA will only get you so far in the microwave bands. Above 1 GHz, wavelengths are under one foot, and everything matters in the effort to control spurious emissions. Here is where the 6-GHz VNA from Mini-Circuits [UVNA-63] comes in to expand the learning opportunities opened up by the entry-level Nano-VNA. There remains the need for a high-quality reference VNA to calibrate against. But at what price-point? In Dr. Lirakis’s Quantum lab at IBM, there is a VNA costing a half-million dollars. The research lab at a nearby university has such a calibration VNA costing about $100,000. It is astonishing to see the democratization of affordable tech tools like this 6-GHz VNA drop from $10K just a few years ago to now, $3500. Suddenly, a radio club (and not only a research lab) can make this investment. Now, club members can get started with Nano-VNAs and have the calibration potential of the more expensive club resource to learn from and compare results with. It opens significant possibilities for 21st century hams to experiment learning antenna design.

As we turned to work on building the new 6-GHz VNA with Team NCRC, I asked Chris, AA9AL, if he had any final message he wanted me to convey. That was easy. Dr. Lirakis always tells anyone who asks: “Ham radio is a gateway to technology.” Still walking the talk after 50 years as an ARRL member.


Dr. Chris Lirakis AA9AL
Dr. Chris Lirakis AA9AL before the Newport County Radio Club
recent 6-GHz VNA build night at FabNewport, Newport, RI


*Derickson, D., & Jin, X., & Bland, C. C. (2021, April), The NanoVNA Vector Network Analyzer: This New Open-Source Electronic Test and Measurement Device Will Change Both Remote and In-Person Educational Delivery of Circuits, Electronics, Radio Frequency and Communication Laboratory Course Delivery Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference – “Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption”, Virtual. https://peer.asee.org/38253

“Hobby Club’s Missing Balloon Feared Shot Down By USAF”

From Aviation Week:

A small, globe-trotting balloon declared “missing in action” by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10. 

The club—the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB)—is not pointing fingers yet. 

But the circumstantial evidence is at least intriguing. The club’s silver-coated, party-style, “pico balloon” reported its last position on Feb. 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska, and a popular forecasting tool—the HYSPLIT model provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—projected the cylindrically shaped object would be floating high over the central part of the Yukon Territory on Feb. 11. That is the same day a Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unidentified object of a similar description and altitude in the same general area.

There are suspicions among other prominent members of the small, pico-ballooning enthusiasts’ community, which combines ham radio and high-altitude ballooning into a single, relatively affordable hobby.

[Full story]
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New General Class Element 3 Question Pool Goes Into Effect On July 1, 2023

ARRL VEC logo/bannerFrom ARRL VEC Newsletter, February 2023:

General Class Element 3 Question Pool Errata Released 

The NCVEC Question Pool Committee (QPC) has released the latest errata for the 2023 – 2027 General Element 3 question pool, which goes into effect on July 1, 2023. Nine questions were modified (G1B01, G1C01, G1C02, G5C02, G7C10, G9B05, G9C09, G9D09, and G9D10) and two questions (G9C06 and G9D13) were withdrawn from use. 

The pool is available as a Microsoft Word document and PDF. These changes are reflected in the new General Pool download file dated February 1, 2023. 

New General Examinations will take effect for exam sessions on July 1, 2023

The newly revised general pool must be used starting July 1, 2023. VECs and VEs will have new test designs available starting on that date. Previously supplied versions of ARRL VEC General-class exam booklets (2019 series) and computer-generated General-class exams from the 2019 question pool are valid until midnight on June 30, 2023. The ARRL VEC will supply its officially appointed, field-stocked VE teams with new General exam booklet designs around mid-June. 

New England Hamfest / Flea Market Season Begins

flea marketSpring is not far away and with it, the start of a new hamfest and flea market season in New England.

Here are upcoming ARRL sanctioned hamfests and flea markets in the New England Division for the first quarter of 2023: