Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (NH) Off to a Great Start!

Merrimack Valley ARA logoThe Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (call sign N1MVA) was formed in August 2022 by eight NH ARES members. ARES is a program, not an entity that could own equipment or fundraise. Our goal is to establish the MVARA as an organization that may own equipment and fundraise to support the emergency communication mission. The MVARA is a registered NH nonprofit corporation and a federal 501(c)3 charitable organization, and is registered with Amazon Smile. The MVARA has been accepted as an ARRL affiliated club. Current membership is 22 with 91% being ARRL members.

Our current focus is collaborating with the New England Digital Emergency Communications Network to interconnect DMR sites with microwave radio links. The microwave links backup internet connections when the internet is disrupted, thereby making the DMR system more resilient for routine and emergency communication. Presence on the towers also extends our microwave network. The first installation is a link between the Crotched Mt DMR site, which lost internet when the provider discontinued service to the area, and the South Uncanoonuc DMR site which has a pre-existing 5GHz link to the internet at the Bow, NH DMR site. DMR traffic flow can be evaluated from the repeater to the new Part 97 AREDN 5GHz link, then to the pre-existing Part 15 Ubiquiti link, and finally to the internet. The link has been operational since early October with only one occasionally recurring issue that can be corrected remotely. Its cause remains to be identified, part of our learning curve.

The main activity planned for next year is writing a proposal to ARDC for funding to expand the microwave backbone among DMR repeater sites within the context of the New England Division mesh network project. The backbone and network services would provide opportunities for other licensed operators who may wish to use the microwave network for various amateur radio purposes.

Node Kit Components & Parts ListThere is a possibility of developing a STEM module about microwave IP networking. Lessons could be introduced with familiar microwave radios – cell phones and computer wifi – followed by modern battery technology, microwave and IP basics, and culminated by setting up a local microwave connection. Portable battery-powered microwave node kits – designed under Part 15 compliance for unlicensed use in school classrooms or Part 97 compliance for amateur radio use – are easily assembled with off-the-shelf components and deployed for demonstration and instruction. Kits can also be used as portable nodes for emergency and event communications.

Components for a portable microwave network node kit are shown in the table and photo. Total cost is about $500 plus shipping, including a Windows Mini PC. The Mini PC can be used to control an HF or a VHF radio remotely over the network for NBEMS, Winlink and popular weak signal modes. A Raspberry Pi could be substituted for the Mini PC if there is no need for Windows software, decreasing cost proportionally. 

Photo showing a prototype node kit with optional Raspberry Pi DMR hotspot.Battery charger, 12v converters and cables are stowed underneath.
Photo showing a prototype node kit with optional Raspberry Pi DMR hotspot.
Battery charger, 12v converters and cables are stowed underneath.

 

 

New England QRP’s Annual Central New England (NH) Meeting and Lunch, November 19, 2022

NEQRP logoCarl Achin, WA1ZCQ, writes on the NEQRP mailing list:

This Meeting & Lunch is always on the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving, ANNUALLY. Hope YOU can make it.

Date: Saturday, November 19th, 2022
Time: 10AM for early-birds (~11AM is OK too) till the last person drops, usually around 2PM+
Place: Golden Corral – 655 South Willow Street, Manchester, NH

Please bring something for “Show-‘N-Tell” and show and talk about it with others.

Schedule:
Meet-‘N-Greet (Social-Hour plus Show-‘N-Tell)) – 10AM through 11AM+
Club updates and info – 11:15 through 11:30AM
Buffet Meal from 11:30 through 1:30PM
More socializing till approximately 2PM+

*** COME JOIN US FOR THIS ANNUAL GATHERING. ***

* P.S. – Christmas Party Gathering coming-up on the SECOND FRIDAY in DECEMBER (9th). More on that later.

Barnstable (MA) ARC Honored for Sixty-Five Years as ARRL Affiliated Club

The Barnstable Amateur Radio Club on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, received a commemorative plaque from the ARRL board of directors for sixty-five years of ARRL club affiliation at its November 7 meeting.  BARC President Norm Caitlin, WA1NLG, accepted the plaque and certificate from Division Director Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC. 

BARC has conducted licensing classes and its members serve as volunteer examiners. They have also provided communications support for a number of public service events, including the Cape Cod Marathon, Falmouth Road Race, MS and Alzheimer’s walks, SKYWARN nets, ARES exercises and JOTA events.

Congratulations to the Barnstable Amateur Radio Club on this momentous achievement. 

Director’s Update for 3Q-2022

Fall has gone by very quickly for me. I have been busy with ARRL Board work, New England Division projects, attending Ham Fests, Mentoring and Licensing work, and a 6m Antenna Project. I am pleased to report good progress on all fronts. Here’s more about what I’ve been up to.

BIG E Space Chat

BIG E Space Chat Students and Speakers
BIG E Space Chat Students and Speakers

New England school students made live radio contact with an astronaut on the International Space Station from The BIG E on September 27th. You can view a video of the contact below. This and other videos made by folks who attend Space Chat were viewed more than 3,000 times by people worldwide.

The “BIG E Space Chat” is part of a project to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational activities and Amateur Radio learning activities for young people. We brokered the creation of this project through a partnership between The BIG ENew England Sci-Tech (a STEM education group in New England),  Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), and Black Helicopter Creative LLC.

We received quite a bit of television and newspaper coverage for our contact as well. Here’s an example of some of the TV coverage that aired on New England stations –

 

In addition to inspiring the young people who participated in Space Chat, we were able to help to make the public aware of the value that Amateur Radio brings to young people. I want to thank the many folks here in New England and the great people at the BIG E for making this project possible.

You can learn more about the BIG E Space Chat project here.

Club Grants

Mike Walters, W8ZY, and I worked with a team to select and award the first round of grants as part of the ARRL Foundation Club Grant program. We received a total of 128 grant applications totaling over $1.7M! We awarded a total of $270K to 24 Radio Clubs in the United States. 

ARRL Club Grant Program at a glance:

  • Clubs do not need to be ARRL-affiliated clubs to submit proposals
  • Looking to fund projects that create significant impact beyond the applying club: transformative impact on Amateur Radio; create public awareness and support for Amateur Radio; educational and training impact.
  • Examples of projects include, but are not limited to: get-on-the-air projects; ham training and skills development through mentoring; STEM and STEAM learning through Amateur Radio; station resources for use by the ham community; emergency communications and public service projects that emphasize training; club revitalization projects.

The second round of grants will be awarded early in 2023.

Board Projects and Meetings

National Traffic System 2.0 Project

I’m also leading a subcommittee within the Emergency Communications and Field Service Committee that is working on a plan to create the next generation of the National Traffic System (NTS). We are in the process of holding a series of briefings for Traffic Handlers across all ARRL divisions on the NTS 2.0 project. The briefings will be completed in December. We have signed up a total of 35 volunteers to help us work through the details of implementing the NTS 2.0 program. We are planning a kickoff meeting for the volunteers and I expect that the Implementation Teams will begin their work by the end of this year.

The ARRL has initiated a routine Traffic Origination program as part of NTS 2.0. The first messages were sent in October to all Section Managers, STMs, Directors, Vice Directors, the ARRL CEO, President, and first and second Vice Presidents.

NTS 2.0 Project - ARRL Routine Traffic Origination
NTS 2.0 Project – ARRL Routine Traffic Origination

The purpose of this program is to provide information about our work on the NTS 2.0 program as it rolls out and to measure the performance of the National Traffic System.

ARRL Club Development Webinar Series

Mike Walters, W8ZY, Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, and I are working on a program to create a series of webinars for clubs to help them develop skills and solve problems. This webinar series will kick off in 2023 and will feature presentations by ARRL members on the following topics.

ARRL Club Development Webinar Series
ARRL Club Development Webinar Series

Please get in touch with Mike Walters at mwalters@arrl.org if you are interested in helping us to produce content for the new Club Webinar Series.

Additional Board Committee Work

My work as chair of an Administration and Finance Subcommittee that is looking at ways to grow ARRL membership and increase active participation in Amateur Radio is nearly complete. The subcommittee will be sharing our final recommendations with the Administration and Finance Committee later this year and with the ARRL Board in January.

Finally, I have been serving as one of the ARRL Board members on the newly formed Investment Management Committee. The Investment Management Committee provides oversight of ARRL’s external investment manager and advises ARRL’s Administration and Finance Committee and the Board of Directors on investment policies and portfolio management. We have been working on procedures and processes that govern our oversight work with our outside investment manager.

Assistant Director Teams

Our Division Assistant Directors have all held several meetings with their working groups this quarter. In addition, the Spectrum Protection team has received a generous grant from ARDC to equip RFI Teams in each New England Section with direction-finding radios and antennas to enable them to assist Hams across New England in resolving interference problems. Our Assistant Directors and their working group areas follow –

  • Cory Golob, KU1U – Assistant Director, Emergency Communications and Public Service Activities
  • Rob Leiden, K1UI – Assistant Director, Spectrum Protection and Use
  • Anita Kemmerer, AB1QB – Assistant Director, Mentoring and Ham Development
  • Dan Norman, N0HF – Assistant Director, Youth Outreach and STEM Learning

Each team has projects underway that will benefit hams across New England. This newsletter features articles about what our Assistant Directors are doing.

Communications, Club Meetings, and Hamfests

We continued with our work to improve communications this quarter. There are three parts to our activities in this area:

  • Quarterly Division Cabinet Meetings with Club Presidents, Section Managers, Field Staff Members, and other leaders
  • Triannual (every 4 months) Division Town Hall Meetings with all ARRL Members in New England
  • Frequent attendance at Club Meetings (at least 6 times a quarter for each New England Division leadership team member) 

We held our third Town Hall Meeting on October 19th. We provided an update on ARRL and New England Division activities and answered questions from the folks who attended. You can see what was discussed, including a recording of the event, here. We are planning to hold our next Town Hall Meeting in February 2023.

We held an ARRL Forum at Fall NEAR-Fest in Deerfield, NH, where we updated folks on ARRL and New England Division projects and answered questions. We joined Peter Stohrer K1PJS at NEAR-Fest to talk with folks and answer questions.

Our next Cabinet Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 17th. We are inviting members of the HQ Staff to these meetings so that they can share information on what they are doing and receive feedback directly from division leaders.

Here’s a summary of the many events and communications activities that we’ve participated in and hosted this year –

New England Division Events & Communications 2022 YTD
New England Division 2022 Events & Communications

The New Division Team has been attending club meetings to stay in touch with what clubs are doing and to hear feedback and concerns from folks. We each try to attend at least six club meetings every quarter. If you’d like one of us to visit your club’s meeting, don’t hesitate to contact me at ab1oc@arrl.org.

AB1OC Amateur Radio Activities

I’ve been working on an upgrade to the 6m antenna system at our QTH. The project consists of adding a total of 12 new 6m antennas along with tower-mounted preamplifiers. We are putting up three fixed stacks of 3-element Loop Fed Array (LFA) yagis and a new 7-element LFA yagi on our main tower. The project is just being completed, and I have been making Meteor Scatter contacts on 6m with the new antennas. You can read more about the project here.

US West Stack of LFA Yagis & Large LFA Yagi on Mast
US West Stack of LFA Yagis & Large LFA Yagi on Mast

I hope to see you soon at a Hamfest, Club Meeting, Town Hall Meeting, Cabinet Meeting, or some other event in the near future. All the Best, and 73,

Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC
ARRL New England Division Director
Email: ab1oc@arrl.org

Adventure at the Fort—New England Regional Scouting Jamboree a Huge Success: Cub Scouts Love Radio

The Newport County (RI) Radio Club was a strong presence at Saturday’s wildly successful Scouting Jamboree Adventure public day at historic Fort Adams (1799) in Newport, Rhode Island. Over 3000 Scouts attended this post-covid New England regional Jamboree weekend.

One of the day’s highlights was a dramatic Coast Guard helicopter to water rescue drill watched with rapt attention by the cross-generation crowds on a perfect day.

The large and active Newport (RI) County Radio Club set up multiple hands-on stations across the west side of Fort Adams facing Narragansett Bay, and NCRC volunteers spoke all day with hundreds of Scouts and adults eager to learn more about making satellite contacts, GMRS, CW, HF, and well-received demos on the principles of radio communication.

A special shout out in this post to the 5th grade Cub Scouts who rallied around NCRC Scouting Jamboree lead, John Vecoli, KC1KOO, shown below with Cub Scouts from packs across RI, including East Greenwich and Richmond. Nearby, 5th grade Cub Scouts Valerie and Ingrid from Newport’s small but vibrant coed pack were excited to hear about becoming a licensed radio operator from NCRC new hams Nolan Byrne, K1PRU, and Pat Strong, K2PRU, from Prudence Island who loved mentoring the girls on their own new radios. The future looked bright today!

Contributed by Nancy Austin, KC1NEK, NCRC (RI) club president

Merrimack Valley ARA (MVARA) Achieves 501.c.3 Status and ARRL Affiliation

Merrimack Valley ARA logoThe Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA) had its first meeting this evening having achieved several milestones in its effort to build on recent successes in providing mesh network back-up for NEDECN DMR repeaters.  The club plans to expand its network of interconnected hospitals and repeater sites and it is now positioned to apply for grant funding.  In addition, the club’s ARRL affiliation makes it possible to obtain ARRL support, available to all affiliated clubs.

With the focus on mesh expansion in New Hampshire and grant funding recently secured in Maine and Rhode Island, the expansion of interconnected amateur communications networks throughout New England is making visible progress.

The MVARA Officers and Directors are:

President – Jay Taft K1EHZ

Vice President – John Yurcak K9AEN

Secretary – Steve Nelson WA1EYF

Membership Secretary – Paul Blais KC1KMM

Treasurer – Ken Geddes N1KWG

Directors

Bill Barber NE1B

Steve Davidson NA1T

Jack Duffy NF1L

Ed Leduc KA1IJN

If you or your club wants to start a mesh network in New England, contact Rob, K1UI at k1ui@nediv.arrl.org, and he’ll put you in touch with those folks who can help.

Greater Bridgeport ARC Annual Picnic and POTA Event, Bethel CT, September 25, 2022

Greater Bridgeport ARC loogoOn September 25, [the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club] is hosting its annual picnic at Putnam Memorial Park in Bethel, CT. Putnam Memorial Park is a state park so along with conducting our business meeting, we’ll be activating park K-1707. Members, family, and friends are invited.

We will have radios setup for the activation. If you would like to bring yours, you are welcome to. Activating a park is a lot of fun and a great learning opportunity. Those who are unlicensed and wish to operate will have an opportunity to get on the air!

While there are picnic tables, it would be a good idea to bring a chair.

We’ll provide sandwiches from a local deli. Snacks, and water will be provided.

Setup: 11am
Activation: Noon until we wrap up
Meeting: 2pm

Directions:
153 Putnam Park Road
Bethel, CT 06801

Coming from the Fairfield area and Route 15.
Take exit 44 and head north on route 58 (Black Rock Turnpike)
Continue on 58 North for about 12.5 miles and the entrance will be on the right just past the pond.

Putnam Memorial Park is split by route 58 and the signs will lead you to the west side of the park (visitors center and museam), simply continue north for another quarter mile and you’ll see the pond on the right. Attached is a map and entrance photos.

We’ll listen to simplex – 146.52 as it is unlikely you’ll be able to hit our repeater while en route.

We hope to see you there!
– GBARC Officers

“Adventures Celebrating Silent Keys with New Keys”

This weekend the Newport County (RI) Radio Club gathered to begin a new annual tradition celebrating Silent Keys. The inaugural Pete Lawson Outdoor Adventure (PLOA) was a huge success on a beautiful New England fall day at Fort Getty, Jamestown, RI.

The event included a catered picnic lunch, Islands on the Air (IOTA) activation, 4-station Fox Hunt, and CW Key Kit build station. It was funded in part by the sale of Pete’s radio gear and friend donations. This meaningful fun event included recognizing Pete Lawson, W1LAB, with a commemorative brick at the ARRL headquarters and gifting Pete’s widow with a decorative copy of that ARRL tribute marker. A highlight after lunch was seeing all ages gather to build the CW Key kits designed by Willy Maclean, W1LY. Sharing the love of radio across the generations.

Newport Co. RC Pete Lawson Outdoor Adventure
The Newport County Radio Club held its first Pete Lawson Outdoor Adventure at Fort Getty in Jamestown, RI on September 18, 2022 in honor of Silent Key W1LAB. The event included a catered picnic lunch, Islands on the Air (IOTA) activation run by John Mill, K1JSM, 4-station Fox Hunt put together by Jim Sammons, KA1ZOU, and CW Key Kit build station by Willy Maclean, W1LY.

 

Inspiring new keys: CW key kits crafted for the event by Willy Maclean, W1LY.

ARRL Foundation Grants $270,000 to Amateur Radio Clubs

ARRL Foundation logo

From ARRL Club News:

The new ARRL Foundation Club Grant Program, funded by a generous grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), has awarded $270,000 to radio clubs that participated in the first round of applications.

The Club Grant Program, introduced earlier this year, includes $500,000 to be awarded to radio clubs with projects that will have the most impact on amateur radio, the community, and the future of radio technology. The grants will fund transformative projects that encourage the growth of active amateur radio operators and training opportunities, education programs for student groups and schools, and club revitalization. A second round of applications to award the program’s remaining funding opened on September 7, 2022. The deadline for submitting an application is November 4th at 7PM Eastern time.

Twenty-four clubs were notified on Monday, August 29, that they are receiving grants. The ARRL Foundation received 128 applications in the first round, with requests totaling $1.74 million. The selection committee noted that it was difficult work deciding from many high-quality grant proposals, considering the finite available funds. Radio clubs that did not receive grants in the first round may revise and resubmit applications in the second round.

The ARRL Foundation, established in 1973 by ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio®, administers the Club Grant Program. ARRL has long recognized that it is in the best interest of amateur radio to encourage and support amateur radio clubs. Clubs historically have recruited, licensed, and trained new radio amateurs and have provided the community setting for them to continue their education and training.

The new Club Grant Program will help clubs more easily provide and expand their important services. More information about the program can be found on the ARRL Foundation website, at www.arrl.org/club-grant-program.

The following clubs, in no particular order, were awarded grants:

Club Name Town State
Heritage High School Amateur Radio Club Brentwood CA
Newport County Radio Club Newport RI
Bristol County Repeater Association Tiverton RI
Holmesburg Amateur Radio Club Philadelphia PA
Quaboag Valley Amateur Radio Club Warren MA
Amateur Radio Club at Kansas State University Manhattan KS
Meriden Amateur Radio Club Wallingford CT
Anchorage Amateur Radio Club Anchorage AK
Andrew Johnson Amateur Radio Club Greeneville TN
Cape Ann Amateur Radio Association Gloucester MA
Yavapai Amateur Radio Club Prescott AZ
Cave City High School Amateur Radio Club Cave City AR
Fauquier County 4-H Ham Radio Club Warrenton VA
All Things Amateur Radio Association Carroll OH
Forsyth Amateur Radio Club Inc Winston Salem NC
Sunset Empire Amateur Radio Club Astoria OR
Barnstable Amateur Radio Club South Dennis MA
Orange County Amateur Radio Club Cornwall NY
Daleville Area Amateur Radio Service Daleville AL
Lake Washington Ham Club Kirkland WA
Radio Association of Western New York West Seneca NY
Prairie Dog Amateur Radio Club Childress TX
West Chester Amateur Radio Association West Chester OH
Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club Pitman NJ

 

Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association

Jay Taft K1EHZ writes:

Hello,

I write to introduce a new organization intended to support ARES®-related activities.

ARES® is a program of the ARRL®. It is not an entity that can own property or collect and spend money.

For these reasons many ARES® groups around the country started clubs that can own property and transact business to support ARES® activities.  Hillsborough County and Greater Manchester NH ARES® leaders have formed such a club.

Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association, callsign N1MVA, is a New Hampshire nonprofit charitable corporation. We are also applying to the IRS for 501(c)3 status.

Our main goals are

  • enhancing emergency communication infrastructure through fundraising
  • developing operator communication skills by supporting community events.

For example, a current MVARA project is a collaboration with the New England Digital Emergency Communications Network to connect two DMR repeaters with microwave links, as backup for internet connections, making DMR more resilient for emergency communications. This is a pilot project to demonstrate proof-of-concept before applying for funding for a larger deployment.

We also hope to expand the small microwave network among served agencies in Manchester, NH to Nashua and Concord. External funding for this project would also be the subject of an grant proposal.

We seek members interested in these kinds of activities.  Applicants need not be ARES® members nor reside in New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley Region. ARRL® membership is encouraged so we can become an ARRL® affiliate club.

Those who join MVARA by December 31, 2022 will be designated Charter Members.

The membership application can be found on our website –  MerrimackValleyARA.org.

Questions or comments may be directed to me at k1ehz@arrl.net

73,
Jay K1EHZ