The Nashua Area Radio Society will be giving license classes for all levels this winter and spring. The classes will be online via Zoom web conferencing and will include an online exam session at the end of the class. Here is the schedule:
Technician Class: Saturday and Sunday, February 17th and 18th
General Class: Saturday and Sunday, March 16th and 17th
Extra Class: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 19th, 20th, and 21st.
I have been thinking a lot lately about what is most important to care for the future of Amateur Radio. There are many different views on the answer to this question. Some would say it’s about increasing participation in emergency communications and public service activities such as ARES, RACES, or the National Traffic System. Others would say it’s about protecting our bands. Those who live in HOA or covenant-restricted situations would emphasize the need to enable Hams to install antennas at their homes. Contesters would say that making contesting more accessible to a broader group of people is the most important thing to focus on. And there are many more views as well I am sure.
I have been working with others at the ARRL on a project to update the ARRL’s strategic plan for some time now and our working group has put a great deal of effort into answering this question. At this point in time, the average age of a licensed Amateur Radio operator in the US is about 75 years old. Another important piece of information to consider is that only about one in five people who earn their first Amateur Radio license will be active and on the air after a year. When I think about these points, it seems pretty clear to me that the first thing that we all need to focus on to ensure a strong future for Amateur Radio is the development of the next generation of Amateur Radio operators.
This one thing underpins all of the items that are mentioned at the beginning of this article. EmComm and Public Service activities, the future of contesting, and our ability to exert the necessary influence to protect our bands and overcome HOA restrictions all depend on an Amateur Radio service that is vibrant and growing.
How Can We Help?
The simple answer is that we need to license younger people and help everyone who gets a license or upgrade to learn about and participate in Amateur Radio to the fullest extent possible. This is all pretty obvious but the question that you are probably asking is “How do we do this?”
In my experience, success here begins with a commitment to Mentoring. We have found through surveys that one of the top reasons that new Hams get licensed and do not participate in Amateur Radio is that they lack mentors who will help them learn and get started.
What sort of help does a new licensee typically need? It’s usually pretty basic things – help to make their first QSO, help to choose an affordable VHF/UHF rig and get it installed and programmed, and help to learn their radio. For a new General, it’s about getting a basic HF antenna up, choosing an HF rig and getting it on the air, understanding how to deal with lightning protection and grounding issues, and learning to operate on the HF bands.
So how do we find ways to engage new Hams and provide mentoring? I have found that VE sessions and club meetings to be excellent opportunities to work with new people. How many times have some of us been part of a VE session where folks are getting licensed and observed that the VEs do not engage the candidates more than to complete the paperwork associated with their exam? This is a huge opportunity lost. Anita and I have been involved in licensing folks for quite awhile now and we helped over 400 people to earn a license or an upgrade. We always take some time with each person that we work with to understand what they hope to do with their license or upgrade and we try to either provide mentoring to help them or to connect them with others that are local to them to do this.
Similar situations sometimes occur at club meetings. A new Ham attends a first club meeting looking for folks who will share their interests and help them to get started. The club members usually don’t know the new person very well and don’t always engage them to understand how they can help. As a result, the new Ham moves on and may or may not pursue steps to use their license. Successful clubs often go out of their way to make new Hams feel welcome and actively try to find ways to mentor. There is one club here in Eastern Massachusetts, for example, that provides loaned radios and equipment along with mentoring to help new folks get a station together and get on the air. By the way, the clubs that proactively reach out and mentor new folks are usually growing and enjoy some of the largest membership rosters in their area.
Perhaps you are not a VE or involved with a club so what then? Well, let your friends know that you are willing to talk to and work with new folks to assist them. When you are on the air and you encounter a newly licensed or upgraded Ham, spend some time talking with them about what they want to do with Amateur Radio and try to actively help them. You can also engage in Amateur Radio websites and social media groups and answer questions and help new folks there as well.
Where To From Here?
I hope that you’ll consider giving the gift of mentoring. In my opinion, there is no single thing that we can do to help ensure a strong future for Amateur Radio. I would respectfully ask and challenge each of you reading this to choose a way to mentor that you would enjoy and give the gift of mentoring to a newly licensed or upgraded Ham. I think that you will find that the gift that you give will be more than returned in the form of appreciation on the part of the new Ham. If we can all make an effort here, I am sure that we will collectively create a much brighter future for the Amateur Radio Service.
For those that went to the HamXposition you may have seen a presentation on MineCraft, we have some great news to share.
Don’t miss out on this show if you or your family are fans of Minecraft! Lucas, W1BTR, the designer and developer of Minecraft Mod “Radio Craft” will be featured. He will explain how this mod brings the world of ham radio into the virtual world of Minecraft allowing players to experience it. This is a great idea to get more people involved in radio communications as Lucas has designed the mod to behave and work as closely as possible to real world experience.
Come support a young man build bridges to close the gap of STEM and RF ham radio through game play.
The Live stream is on Thursday [September 14, 2023] at 8 pm on our YouTube channel (Live Free and Ham)
The PRA Foundation, the educational outreach arm of the Providence Radio Association, W1OP, presented a Boy Scouts of America RADIO Merit Badge class for members of Troop 2, Central Falls, RI. Over the course of 5 weeks, Foundation Director Dom Mallozzi, N1DM, and President Dave Tessitore, K1DT, taught in-person classes at the PRA Clubhouse / W1OP station following the K2BSA Amateur Radio curriculum. Instruction was augmented with lab demonstrations, on-the-air experiences using HF and VHF, as well as CW and several OSCAR Satellite and ISS repeater contacts. The Scouts were thrilled and encouraged when, by sheer coincidence, we worked a young Ham on 20M SSB who had just become an Eagle Scout! Upon earning their Merit Badges, the Scouts and Scoutmaster were each presented with FRS handheld radios courtesy of the Foundation, along with an invitation to return for a Technician License Class.
Coming up in May, Dom and Dave will be joined by PRA Secretary Dave, W3DRE, and member Thomas, KC1QYD, as they present an Introduction to Amateur Radio, the Ionosphere, and Orbital Mechanics to an assembly of 360 eighth-grade science students at the Alan S. Feinstein Middle School in Coventry RI. KC1QYD happens to be a member of that class, as well as being the youngest member of the PRA. His classmates are aware of Thomas’ many contacts via the International Space Station’s crossband repeater. The lecture will be accompanied by an OSCAR demonstration as well as a live “Parks On The Air” ® station operating from the school grounds.
Bruce Tinkler, N9JBT, writes on the New England Sci-Tech ARS mailing list:
After giving away thousands of free handheld radios to new hams, the QRZ Jumpstart program is back with an exciting new deal!
QRZ, RT Systems and GigaParts are teaming up to offer a more sustainable program that will run at least through the end of this year and will be expanded to include hams who have been licensed for 6 months or less. The new program offers a coupon code to the new ham that gives them a QRZ-1 radio, programming cable, RT Systems programming software, New Ham Welcome Kit, and a QRZ membership for only $21.99.
This program is available to amateur radio operators licensed in the USA and expires December 31, 2022, or while supplies last. To signup, new hams should complete the application process at www.qrz.com/jumpstart
Jumpstart packages will be begin shipping immediately.
I have been busy with Mentoring and Ham Development Activities with my local club, the Nashua Area Radio Society. On November 5th, we held another successful Ham Bootcamp, which was attended by new hams, inactive hams, and prospective hams from all over the US – we even had some DX attendees from Canada and India. Ham Bootcamp is a one-day online program to help hams gain the skills to build a station and get on the air. We have some great instructors from the ARRL New England Division: Jamey Finchum, AC1DC; Abby Finchum, AB1BY; Stu Solomon, W1SHS; Burns Fisher, WB1FJ; Aron Insinga, W1AKI, and Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, for their dedication to mentoring new hams.
Ham Bootcamp started out small and has grown to allow us to help many hams all over the world and even a few DX. We started out by hosting the graduates of our license classes in our home and helped them to get on the air, did a demo of satellite contacts, held a small repeater net, put up an antenna, and demonstrated portable operating and built a small station on our dining room table. We also met students at our local Ham Radio Outlet, and walked them through the choices of equipment they might want to purchase for their first station.
After a few small bootcamps, we were invited to do a Ham Bootcamp for New England Hams at the 2019 Northeast HamXposition, where we hosted close to 70 students.
Then the pandemic hit and we moved our license classes online. We decided to move Ham Bootcamp online as well and were able to serve a much larger audience. We had around 450 students sign up for our first online bootcamp from all over the US and Canada. We have continued to provide the online version of Ham Bootcamp twice per year and to date have served close to 1,000 hams.
Below is the agenda for our most recent bootcamp. The morning sessions focus on activities for Technicians and the afternoon sessions focus on activities for Generals and above. All of the topics provide the basics to help new hams to get started in the many activities in Amateur Radio. We have improved the agenda with each successive bootcamp and now use breakout rooms to allow students to choose between multiple sessions. We have replaced the in-person shopping trip with a Virtual Shopping trip, which is a follow-on activity for the boot-campers, where we visit multiple retailers’ and manufacturers’ websites online.
We held the most recent bootcamp on November 5th and had over 100 people register. Through programs like this we can help the many inactive amateur radio licensees become active in the hobby. This is a great way that clubs can help new or inactive hams to get on the air.
Mentoring and Ham Development Working Group Meetings
The most recent meeting of the Mentoring and Ham Development and the Youth Outreach and STEM Learning groups was held on October 12th. We had two guest speakers. Mike Walters, W8ZY, spoke to the group about ARRL programs for club leaders, the Club Grant Program, the Club Development Webinar Series, and the Club Commission Program. Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, spoke to the group about how your club can work with a school on an ARISS contact with an astronaut on the space station including a recap of the recent BIG E Space Chat. You can watch the recording of the session on the Mentoring and Ham Development page: https://nediv.arrl.org/mentoring-and-new-ham-development/.
Our next meeting will be held on December 15th starting at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. We would like to hear about your mentoring projects. To get the Zoom link, join the ne-ham-dev Groups.io group or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please get in touch with Mike Walters at email@example.com 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 –
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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,
The Newport County (RI) Radio Club mentors new hams where they are to help them bridge that critical gap between getting licensed and joining a first net. (Sometimes, it even requires a boat!) On Friday, the NCRC and RI ham community gathered together to help new hams on Prudence Island get comfortable on the air. Over the weekend, this inspiring effort helped this Ocean State club’s 2m nets grow with enthusiasm to record levels – and the women are now set to operate with confidence. Amateur radio is a welcoming Social Media, a Technical hobby, and a key form of resilient communication.
Prudence Island, Rhode Island is a strategically-located island in Narragansett Bay not accessible by any bridge. It’s the kind of place where, for example, today a sailboat is racing the ferry that runs periodically to Bristol, RI. It has a small-year round community and earlier this year two growth-mindset long-time residents, Patricia Strong, KC1RJD, and Nolan Byrne, KC1RJK, decided to study with the NCRC on-line education training given by Bob Beatty WB4SON – and plunge ahead to take their Technician exam. Their mission was to get on the air and bring resilient communication to their island. And yes, they could do it! With no technical background, but plenty of can-do attitude, these two older women took the ferry to the mainland and passed their exams on June 4th with flying colors. (See pre-exam photo.) The club provides new members with radios and the women took part in Field Day this June. So far, so good.
But then, like many new operators, they ran into speed bump issues around antennas, net etiquette, and basic comfort around using an HT on a daily basis. What to do? As the summer wrapped up, NCRC-VP Paul Fredette, K1YBE, reached out to fellow antenna and mesh mentors in the club, as well as club member Ray Perry, KC1IPC, at the Portsmouth Emergency Operation Center. How could we collaborate to help Pat, KC1RFD, and Nolan, KC1RJK, get the mentoring they need to really get on the air? Prudence Island is technically a part of Portsmouth, and so arrangements were made for a team to visit these new hams at their respective island QTHs and install appropriate antennas, test mesh equipment, and then help Pat and Nolan get comfortable contacting club members across the water.
Everything was a huge success! The new hams had a mentor at their side as they practiced making contact with stations using the NCRC’s W1SYE Repeater. Since hurricane season is upon here, a test was also made on Simplex. The women were able to easily contact other nearby club women across the Bay, as well as getting strong signal reports across the entire state: from Carl, KC1NAM, in Tiverton, to Dan, KB1RON, in West Greenwich, to Steve, WA1GVM, in Coventry, to Ted, KC1NEU, near Providence. This mentoring session was a game changer. The new hams have rejoiced at the support they received from so many, and felt empowered to join the NCRC nets that night and over the weekend. Mostly, they appreciate the welcoming, nonjudgemental community support that met them where they were—figuratively and literally. As they say, it takes a Village!
Nancy Austin, KC1NEK
President Newport County Radio Club (founded 1945, ARRL chartered 1949)
On Friday September 2, 2022 a team from the Newport County (RI) radio Club (with support from Ray Perry,KC1IPC, at the Portsmouth, RI Emergency Operation Center) took the boat to Prudence Island to install antennas at various QTH, test future mesh capabilities, and mentor new hams Nolan, KC1RJK, and Pa,t KC1RJD, on how to join a 2m net, call CQ, and move between the W1SYE repeater and the National Calling frequency on Simplex as needed. [Trip photos courtesy of Keith Henry, KC1LPV]
WHEN – Friday, October 14th – Sunday, October 16th, 2022, with our focus on Saturday October 15th
PURPOSE – Provide a HAM/Radio experience to the scouts and interface with the community. Provide an opportunity for the Scouts BSA to earn the Radio Merit Badge.
WHERE – There will be two locations that will be supported by NCRC:
The Glen, off Glen Rd, Portsmouth, RI
Yawgoog Scout Reservation, 61 Camp Yawgoog Rd, Rockville, RI
Note: John is working with other HAMs/Scouters to get two other locations to run similar to how NCRC has operated the Glen over the last few years. The goal is to provide a maximum opportunity for the Scouts to Get on the Air!
INTRODUCTION – Jamboree on the Air – Jamboree on the Internet (JOTA-JOTI) promotes a Scout’s sense of belonging to the worldwide Scout Movement and builds cultural awareness, develops tolerance, advocates sharing and collaboration as well as demonstrates teamwork. It provides exciting opportunities for young people to explore technology and to develop technical skills including fostering innovation and creativity through communicating with other Scouts. A wide range of activities using communication technology are the chief methods of attaining these goals. JOTA-JOTI strives for a meaningful engagement of as many young people from as many parts of the world as possible annually on the third weekend in October. This weekend is also an occasion to celebrate Scouting and to generate positive energy to support the development of the Scout Movement. The event seeks to promote quality Scouting in a manner faithful to the purpose, principles and method of Scouting and consistent with the needs and aspirations of young people in today’s world. The JOTA-JOTI programme shall be a reflection of the Promise, Law, Principles and Method of Scouting, as defined by the WOSM Constitution, and shall also reflect the most up-to-date policies and initiatives of WOSM relating to youth programmes for all ages. For more information please visit the event website: www.world-jotajoti.info
Adventure at the Fort (Jamboree)
WHEN – Friday, October 21st – Sunday, October 23rd, 2022
PURPOSE – Provide a HAM/Radio experience to the scouts and interface with the community.
WHAT – Join Narragansett Council at Fort Adams this fall for the first Council Jamboree in 20 years! The Narragansett Council is excited to bring Scouts and families together for a weekend of fun and adventure. Join thousands of Scouts from across New England, for an event like no other! Stay for the weekend with your troop or join us for the day on Saturday. The programs will be non-stop, highlighting unique scout activities, and opportunities you will only find at the 2022 Adventure at The Fort. We’ll be joined by program partners including youth programs, colleges, universities, military, historical groups, environmental organizations, nautical clubs, and so many more! You won’t want to miss the scout-led activities, food trucks, Sunday Services, trading post, and a full-scale Saturday Night stage show!
The Narragansett Council Jamboree is open to the public for day programs on 10/22, Scouts will not want to miss this chance to bring their friends. Adventure at The Fort is a can’t miss event for every Scout.
Weekend Camping for Scouts BSA Troops (11-18 years old)
All-day programs for Cubs on 10/22 (6-10 years old)
Public welcome on 10/22
Troops registered to camp will arrive on Friday evening, participate in all Saturday programs and depart on Sunday. Troops are responsible for their own meals, propane stoves are allowed, food trucks are available all-day Saturday. No fires.
Setup antennas prior to the event. Operated through the weekend (Scouts BSA) with a focus on activities on Saturday for Scouts BSA, Cubs, families, and the community!
Make it FUN!
WHERE – Fort Adams State Park – 90 Fort Adams Drive, Newport, RI 02840
WHY – Adventure at the Fort is the largest, most exciting, Narragansett Council event in years. Scouts will participate in activities not offered at summer camp or a typical scout Camporee! Meet scouts from across New England, camp in a one-of-a-kind 19th-century coastal fort located on the shore of beautiful Narragansett Bay. Bring your friends and family, show them all the awesome things that Scouts do. Join us Saturday Night for a stage show celebrating the fun and fellowship of Scouting. Food trucks! Sailing! Climbing! and More!