Project “Big E” is back again and plans are underway to staff an amateur radio display booth this year. Changes will be made to how the booth will be arranged and presented to the public.
This year, the dates are Friday, September 15 thru Sunday, October 1. We will be applying for another grant and if we get one, we will be able to provide admission tickets and parking reimbursement again this year.
Last year was a lot of fun for everyone and we hope you will join again for another Big E.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 –
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 email@example.com.
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,
West Springfield, MA—The BIG E Space Chat was an unqualified success. Many hours of planning and effort went into making the ISS contact a reality.
Thirteen young STEM students who are taking space science workshops at New England Sci-Tech in Natick, Mass., were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 to ask questions of International Space Station pilot Bob Hines, KI5RQT, orbiting 260 miles above the earth via a ground station in Belgium. Held in The BIG E Arena, a large entertainment venue, the event garnered much news and television coverage at the fair which attracts 1.5 million people during its 17-day run. It was an out of this world experience for the students from across New England.
Following several informative videos, hundreds of people who gathered in the arena, along with a national audience watching via YouTube live stream, heard from: Gene Cassidy, Eastern States Exposition CEO; David Minster, ARRL CEO; Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC; and Bob Phinney, K5TEC. The pre-contact show was choreographed down to the minute in order to assure a smooth transition leading to the contact itself.
At approximately 2:30 PM ET, the audience heard astronaut Bob Hines, KI5RQT, reply to the ARISS ground station, ON4ISS:
“Oscar November Four India Sierra Sierra, this is Oscar Romeo Four India Sierra Sierra. Over.”
Over a dozen questions were asked by the youths and answered.
“The space station has to be flying over one of our ground stations… this one happened to be in Belgium,” said Bob Phinney, President of New England Sci-Tech. He told Springfield Channel 22 News, “The time had to be perfect. So the students got exactly ten minutes to get up and talk.”
“All the new opportunities that there are about new discoveries, new planets, and even new life,” said 11-year-old Harish Sathishkaumar.
Jack Warren told 22 News, “What fascinates me the most is the unknown…. There is just so much to learn!”
“The best thing about this work is that we probably changed one or two lives today,” said Fred Kemmerer. “The biggest takeaway from this momentous day; always to reach for the stars.”
The following day, Bob Hines tweeted the following message from the ISS:
The BIG E Space Chat team consisted, in part, of:
ARRL New England Division Director Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC
New England Sci-Tech member Barbara Irby, KC1KGS
Assistant Director Anita Kemmerer, AB1QB
Western MA Section Manager Ray Lajoie, AA1SE
New England Sci-Tech President Bob Phinney, K5TEC
Vice Director Phil Temples, K9HI
Third-parties involved in making the effort a success included: the production company Black Helicopter, Limited; the BIG E Marketing team, and Eastern States Exposition CEO Gene Cassidy; NASA; and Amateur Radio on the International Space Station.
Several ARRL Headquarters staff from Newington, Connecticut attended the event including: ARRL CEO David Minster, NA2AA; Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1W, Director of Public Relations and Innovation; and Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, ARRL Education and Learning Manager.
At the conclusion of the contact, the youths were presented with certificates confirming their contact with Bob Hines aboard the ISS, signed by David Minster, NA2AA; Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC; and Bob Phinney, K5TEC.
Along with “Space Chat,” NESci-Tech is conducting a 12-month educational space science program that includes:
Amateur Radio License Course
Model Rocketry workshops
Introduction to Basic Electronics
Introduction to Arduinos Electronics
Public Telescope Nights
Morse Code Introduction
Elementary Mathematics for Modeling Rocket Flight
You can learn more about New England Sci-Tech’s educational space science program by visiting their website.
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Thirteen New England students will make live radio contact with Astronaut Bob Hines on the International Space Station as it orbiting 260 miles above the earth on Tuesday at The Big E.
Fred Kemmerer, director of the New England division of the American Radio Relay League and Amateur Radio on the International Space Station mentor, spoke to Western Mass News about the out-of-this-world experience and how other fairgoers can experience the event. [video]
It was a rainy day to be at the Big E but four of the Barnstable’s (Cape Cod) club members enjoyed their day of meeting with the public and operating FT-8 via Remote Ham Radio and 70 cm FM on the D-Star HT and Icom transceiver. It helped that 10 meters and 15 meters were open and stations from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia and all over Europe got into the log.
Larry, W1AST, was there to greet us in the AM and got us started. Many thanks go out to Larry and his support team for organizing the amateur radio demonstration booth at the event.
Amateur radio at the Big E will also host the “Space Chat” the afternoon of 9/27 with hams and their families getting in free that day (bring a copy of your license).
Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, writes on the ARRL New England Division members list:
Hundreds of The Big E attendees and spectators will be able to watch students make a live contact with an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from The Big E Arena on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Hams who bring an official copy of their FCC license on the day of The Big E Space Chat will receive free admission for themselves and up to 3 members of their family and friends (see Instructions for Free Admission below).
NASA Astronaut Bob Hines, KI5RQT, will contact the students via a radio link provided by amateur radio ground station ON4ISS in Belgium. The contact is organized through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). Around a dozen New England young people have been selected to participate in The BIG E Space Chat.
Please plan to arrive in time for the pre-contact program, which begins at 1:20 pm ET on Tuesday and will feature a series of videos about space, NASA, ARISS, going to Mars, and more. Pre-contact program speakers will include:
• Gene Cassidy, CEO of the Eastern States Exposition
• David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO
• Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, ARRL Director – New England Division
• Bob Phinney, K5TEC, President, New England Sci-Tech
Instructions for Free Admission
Parking and walking to The BIG E arena will take a little time, so be sure to get there early. The arena will hold well over 1,000 people. The BIG E is helping publicize the event and is arranging for TV coverage for the program and the contact. Help us get the word out!
The Big E free admission for amateur radio operators and up to three guests (maximum 4 people) is good on Space Chat Day (Tuesday, Sept. 27) only.
• You must present an official copy of your FCC license to the Gate Captain at The Big E pedestrian gates 1A, 1B, 4, 5, 7, or 9A to receive free admission on Space Chat Day.
• Visit http://www.arrl.org/obtain-license-copy for instructions on downloading a copy of your FCC license to print and bring with you.
• Parking is not included.
• The Big E is at 1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, Massachusetts.
If you’re attending The Big E, visit the amateur radio booth (#103) inside Door 6 of the Better Living Center for more information. Be sure to spread the word to your friends and fellow radio club members!
With just two days left before the start of The BIG E fair in West Springfield, MA, Amateur Radio preparations for Project BIG E have kicked into high gear.
The combined ham radio booth and ARISS space contact depend on the efforts of many Amateur Radio volunteers drawn from across New England and Eastern New York. The booth alone will be staffed twelve hours every day from September 16 until October 2. With two shifts of four hams per day, that’s over 800 person-hours.
“I’m happy to report as of the morning of September 13 we are fully staffed,” according Project BIG E Coordinator Larry Krainson, W1AST. Krainson is also President of the Hampden County Radio Association, one of the booth’s primary sponsors.
Larry Krainson has been coordinating weekly Zoom calls with other volunteers since June to plan the layout of the booth and coordinate the many moving parts involved with this ambitious project. Western MA ARRL Section Manager Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, is providing much assistance with the booth setup.
The BIG E Space Chat is an ARISS contact that will take place in The BIG E Arena in the September 27-29 timeframe. The exact date and time won’t be known until a decision is made by NASA approximately a week before the event.
A number of other organizations—both local as well as international—will play critical roles in ensuring a successful contact with the International Space Station from The BIG E venue.
ARISS Mentor Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, is providing overall coordination between ARISS and the science education program component provided by New England Sci-Tech in Natick, MA. Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, is responsible for pre-contact programming as well as the stage audio-video setup at The BIG E Arena, a performance venue that can accommodate up to 3,000 people with additional capacity for folks to stand. The covered stage is 40- by 80 feet with arena grade public address and video displays.
A 45-minute pre-contact program will feature inspirational videos about the ISS, space, and previous contacts; introductory remarks from Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, ARISS Mentor; Gene Cassidy, CEO of the Eastern States Exposition; David Minster, NA2AA, ARRL CEO; and Bob Phinney K5TEC, President of New England Sci-Tech.
Phil Temples, K9HI, and Barbara Irby, KC1KGS, are involved with the Amateur Radio promotion for the event. Phil and Barbara are working with The BIG E marketing team to coordinate web content, press releases, and plans for radio and television interviews of the space station contact.
Amateur Radio operators who present a valid FCC license at the gate will be granted free admission along with three of their guests on the day of the space station contact. It’s hoped that hundreds of amateurs will turn out to witness the lucky dozen students as they make a once-in-a-lifetime contact with an astronaut in space.
Perhaps the most important component of The BIG E Space Chat is Bob Phinney’s STEM learning and makerspace center, New England Sci-Tech (NEST), in Natick, MA.
NEST is providing a world-class STEM learning experience for students across New England—including the dozen or so lucky youths who have been selected to participate in The BIG E Space Chat.
In-person and virtual activities are being conducted over a 12-month period. They include:
• Building and launching a beginner level model rocket
• Building and launching air-powered rockets and planes
• Earning an FCC amateur radio Technician license
• Participating in a basic electronics course
• Participating in Public Telescope Nights
• A field trip program that introduces real-world science
• Participation in space science educational activities at the BIG E
• Participation in an optional Cubes-in-Space® Program that will introduce students to real-world science
The Big E, formerly known as The Eastern States Exposition, is billed as “New England’s Great State Fair.” It is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the sixth-largest fair in the nation. In 2021, the Big E had 1.5 million visitors, and over 1.6 million visitors in 2019.
The Big E is coming up fast and the first day is Friday, September 16th.
As of now, there are 12 clubs and around 110 people signed up to staff the ham radio booth. We are looking for a few more to help us lock down the schedule. Are you available on any of these dates and times?
Each day is broken into two sessions. The first runs 9:30 am through 4 :00 pm and the second runs 3:30 pm through 10:00 pm. The overlap is to help the new arrivals for the 2nd session learn what had been working during the first session so they could continue. The sessions are named Session 1 and Session 2.
Here is where we need volunteers as of right now:
Monday, Sept 19, session 1 – need 2 people
Monday, Sept 19, session 2 – need 3 people
Tuesday, Sept 20, session 2 – need 3 people
Sunday, Sept 25, session 2 – need 3 people
Tuesday, Sept 27, session 2 – need 4 people
Friday, Sept 30, session 2 – need 3 people
Saturday, Oct 1, session 1 – needs 1 person
Sunday, Oct 2 (Final Day), session 1 – needs 2 people
Sunday, Oct 2 (Final session), session 2 – needs 2 people
Are you available to help? If yes, please volunteer or add a session to what you have already volunteered for.
As a reminder, everyone that volunteers will have their Big E fairgrounds parking reimbursed and their admission reimbursed (or free tickets provided to them).
We caught up with Ray Lajoie, AA1SE, who is heavily involved with “Project Big E,” the ham radio display booth showcasing modern Amateur Radio in West Springfield, Massachusetts from September 16 to October 2, 2022; and the related “BIG E Space Chat,” an ARISS contact scheduled to take place from The BIG E Exhibition/Fair sometime between September 26 and 29.
Q: What is your involvement with Project Big E and BIG E Space Chat?
I’m currently supporting Larry Krainson, W1AST, with the booth setup as well as constructing equipment for displays. I’m also working with Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, to help coordinate the technical aspects of the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) contact. Finally, I’ll fill in and staff the booth in the event someone is unable to work their shift.
Q: What are some of the technical aspects you’re working on?
I’m making sure that our pre-contact audio-video and live presentation is choreographed and well-timed. I’m also ensuring that all the connections—telebridge, telephone, and internet, and sound—are tested ahead of time and that there won’t be any failures in the arena or the booth.
Q: What happens if there is inclement weather?
ARISS requires that we have contingency plans in place. In the event of inclement weather, we will move the BIG E Space Chat inside to the booth area in the Better Living Center.
Q: How did you get involved in this project?
I was volunteered! Seriously though—I am the Western Massachusetts Section Manager, and I feel a responsibility to help out in any way since it involves my section. Larry, W1AST, and the Hampden County Radio Association took on a huge challenge and I want to make sure that he and the club have my full support.
Q: With whom are you working?
The project involves a number of collaborative partners. I’m working with Bob Phinney, K5TEC, of New England Sci-Tech in Natick, Massachusetts. Also, the ARISS program. Black Helicopter Creative are our media partners. They are donating their services to help produce the pre-contact show. I’m also working with the Mellowship camera and production crew for Eastern States Exposition.
Q: Have you done anything like this before?
No. While I have experience with audio/video working for Comcast, I’ve never done anything on such a large scale. The choreography will provide a unique challenge for me.
Q: What do you hope will come from this experience?
It’s my hope that Project BIG E and The BIG E Space Chat will provide entertaining and informative content which will inform the general public about Amateur Radio and have a positive impact on youth and STEM education.