Greetings ARRL members and friends,
It’s early spring and Daylight Savings Time has just kicked in. HF bands are open longer. The polar path to the Far East is open more often and we’re starting to climb the slope of Sunspot Cycle 25. We think that we can see the end to this terrible pandemic. These are good signs, don’t you think? It is in my book.
A very important news item this month concerns the Providence Radio Association or PRA as most of us know them. They are one of the oldest clubs in the country and the first incorporated Amateur Radio Club. This year, they will celebrate their 100th year as an Affiliated ARRL Club. Congratulations PRA! I know that you are rightfully very proud. As you start your next hundred years, I also know that your members are prepared for the challenges in store for you. Best wishes, PRA and carry on for a hundred more.
Judging from the news being reported, the country seems to be slowly relaxing restrictions placed on restaurants, shopping, meetings, etc. Personally, it seems too soon, but we shall see. Maybe some outdoor work can be done at Field Day. Most folks who I have contact with are anxious to see the hamfests reopen. Many want our “Boxboro” convention, held in Marlborough, MA on September 10, 11, 12 https://hamxposition.org/ to be able to open.
I am not a fan at all of virtual hamfests and conventions that Covid restrictions have forced upon us. They lack the most essential ingredient, social contact with other hams. I love the DX Convention in Visalia, CA held in April. There’s no chance of that event happening in person next month, but hopefully it will resume in 2022. It is being planned as a virtual event. Another of my favorites in which I took part was Ham-Com in Dallas. It has closed its doors permanently due to the many problems brought on by Covid-19.
Internationally, one of the largest and most popular hamfest is the one held in Germany in June on Field Day weekend. Ham Radio in Friedrichshafen, Germany, was canceled last year because of the pandemic. Organizers for Europe’s International Amateur Radio Exhibition expressed optimism that the 45th Ham Radio, sponsored by the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC), will be able to take place June 25 – 27. Dayton has already been called off, so Friedrichshafen stands alone in the spring. Tokyo Ham Fair in October and November is the world’s largest hamfest with more than 40,000 taking part in 2019. Organizers have not yet announced plans for 2021 but they are hopeful.
The fall out from this pandemic has not yet been fully realized of course, but it’s possible that large hamfests as we have known in the past as well as many medium size ones may not be something that will be possible or practical in the future. The added costs and restrictions being imposed are making them very difficult to manage. One convention leader suggested that registration ticket prices might need to rise to prohibitive levels in order to balance the cost against the revenue necessary. Would you pay $100 to attend a hamfest? It’s far too early to worry about that just yet. We shall see.
HF band conditions are, dare I say, improving a little. 10 and 12 meters have opened a few times to mostly So America and the Caribbean, but they were open. Now with longer periods of daylight, conditions should improve more. 40 meters at dawn has been exciting at times with openings to JA, YB and VK. Our eagle scout, Jim N1NK has been pulling out some great dawn contacts on 17 meters as well. Jim is on the hunt to complete WAZ on all bands which is a mighty tough goal. But if anyone I know can do it, it would be Jim.
A few of the locals near me have become strong QRP enthusiasts. One of them, Mike K1ETA, recently worked several Europeans and closed the day with a contact with Japan. This was all on 20 meter CW running 4 watts. He recently learned CW in a class which I had run I my kitchen. I was very proud of my student! During this winter, Mike regularly sets up on weekends at some quiet spot on the beach between Narragansett and Misquamicut. Of course, he runs 5 watts or less. What he logs is amazing.
Another local near me, Byron K1CYQ loves to run less than one watt. It’s remarkable what contacts he has made. Of course, both of these ops are highly skilled and have lots of patience. Doing this during the pandemic has provided the distraction many folks needed. There are plenty of QRP kits on the market for very little money, one of the one watt transmitter kits cost $4 including shipping. Amazing!
During the recent long period of being shut in and pinned down, ham radio has been a terrific friend. Those of us with a good HF station can spend every day making contacts all over the world. We certainly aren’t isolated or lonely. However, many folks, especially the elderly are leading a pretty poor existence. If you have older folks who live alone near you, please check in on them. They might like to chat. Bring them some cookies or something else that they might enjoy.
I have reported this before but it needs repeating. The pandemic and all of its restrictions has caused just about all Volunteer Examiner sessions to be postponed. Gatherings of the resulting number of folks is greater than what is currently permitted. Someone looking to find a site to give him or her an exam is very difficult. The website http://www.arrl.org/find-an-am
The ARRL has notified me that since once again, no one has filed nomination papers to run for Section Manager in Rhode Island, I have been named to serve for two more years as your SM. Thank you for your faith and trust. This will be my tenth term. That’s twenty years! It’s not fair that I have all the fun. But seriously, I am humbled and grateful to you for the years of support you have given me. Thank you most sincerely. I’ll do my best for you.
ARRL Rhode Island Section
Section Manager: Robert G Beaudet, W1YRC