Signs of cooler weather are greeting us, especially in the morning. It’s still pleasant here in the afternoon, but soon we will be breaking out sweaters and heavy clothes to stay warm. Hopefully, you have finished your antenna work for the year. A neighbor of mine just installed a new tower and hexbeam and was pleased to have it completed before the cold and snow would make work far more difficult.
I’m very pleased to report that the Consortium has resumed in person sessions at the Manville Sportsmen’s Club. See http://www.w1ddd.org/consortium.html for details. Everyone is welcome to attend these free monthly sessions offered by BVARC. Topics offered in Consortium sessions will include different basic radio skills that all Amateurs should have. The November session on the 1st demonstrated proper soldering practices with hands-on tutorials offered.
Applications for the 2022 ARRL Foundation Scholarship Program will be accepted between between midnight November 1, 2021 and 11:59PM EST on December 31, 2021. Every year, scholarships fall away unused because no one applied for them. Please review the details at http://www.arrl.org/scholarship-program and see if your Amateur licensed son or daughter qualifies.
Contest season has started, and we can find all sorts of contests active every weekend. Even if you are not a contester or even if you are not participating in the contest, you should stay tuned to the activity. Many uncommon countries appear in the DX contests and you can snag a new one or two for your DXCC count or in stateside events, a new state for your WAS.
Anyone reading this report who is active on HF knows that FT8 has taken over the bands as far as popularity goes. Like it or not, there are many more folks in the world on the air at any moment using FT8/4 than SSB, CW and all the other modes combined. If you don’t think so, check “Modes over last 2 hours” at https://pskreporter.info/cgi-bin/pskstats.pl. I use FT8 quite a bit because it’s effective in making contacts during poor propagation. Disturbingly, I have observed some terrible operating by users and it seems to be directly caused by the wsjt-x program that most folks use.
Proper operating protocol that we learned while using CW and SSB, prescribe that when someone is calling a particular station, we should not call him. A directed call is not a CQ. We should stand by and wait. Similarly, when someone is trying to complete a QSO and exchange a report, others should stand by and wait for the contact to be finished and 73 exchanged. I observe on a daily basis, violations of these principles on FT8 which I learned decades ago. Proper operating procedures are not different for FT8. The WSJT program itself encourages stations wanting to make a contact to call that station and get into his/her queue to make the next contact. The problem is that the program interrupts and sometimes destroys the previous contact because when it detects that RR73 was sent by the wanted station, it’s fair to call and connect. It doesn’t matter that the RR73 wasn’t received and acknowledged. The other station may not have acknowledged the RR73 yet due to QRM, weak signal, etc. and the contact was not logged. In CW operating, we would never do that. That’s terribly rude. Of course, we would never do that on SSB either. We should never call a station until that station is open for making another contact.
So, when using FT8 or 4, I feel that it’s rather important that we control the program and not simply click on the enable button, sit back and let it manage how we operate. Good operating practice has taught us how to operate correctly.
ARRL is once again welcoming visitors although tours through the building is not being offered at this time. Masks are required. Any staffer that you wish to see will come to the lobby to see you. Station W1AW is open to visitors also and may operate the station during hours when the station is not transmitting bulletins or code practice. ARRL is so close by, only a 90-minute drive. It really is a place that you must see. It’s best to contact them first, not simply dropping by. I visited recently along with two friends. We stayed the entire day, accomplished several items of business, enjoyed lunch at Yanni’s and finished with a couple of hours on the air from W1AW. It’s a great thrill to operate a first-class station and use an historical call sign. Station Manager, Joe Carcia will make you feel at home.
Speaking about ARRL, the Providence Radio Association or PRA as they are known, will celebrate its 100th anniversary of ARRL Affiliation on December 9th. This is a significant achievement and the club’s leaders should feel very proud. How many clubs launch with great fanfare and energy but dissolve after a few years? It takes vision and management skill to remain healthy, solvent and viable for a century. Their call sign, W1OP is heard around the world often on the DX bands as all active operators will affirm. Their signal emanates from their powerful station atop Neutaconkanut Hill, 296 feet above Providence.
Along with NE Director K1VR and ARRL 1st VP, K1TWF, members will celebrate and prepare for their next hundred years. Congratulations and best wishes folks. Keep up your fine work.
The Volunteer Monitor Program, which replaced the OO program, issued its October report on Nov 11th. Chairman Riley Hollingsworth reports details of the work contributed by its volunteers resulting in numerous advisories. Details may be read at http://www.arrl.org/news/october-2021-volunteer-monitor-program-report.
Recipients of these advisories should feel grateful that they came from friendly fellow hams and not the dreaded “pink slips” from the “candy company”. Hopefully, recipients will accept the advisories in the spirit they were intended and take corrective action. If they don’t of course, their next notice may not be so friendly. Very happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in RI. I hope that you’ll be able to meet safely with family and friends and follow all the health advisories. I am fully vaccinated and received my flu and booster shots last week. Stay well, please.
ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC