Visalia International DX Convention, Other Events Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Worries

[UPDATED 2020-03-12 @ 1503 UTC] Concern over COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of the 2020 International DX Convention (IDXC), which was to be held April 24 – 26 in Visalia, California. The IDXC 2020 co-chairs posted an announcement on the convention website on March 10.

“We send out our apologies to all our perspective patrons of the 2020 International DX Convention. Due to concerns, health and well-being of our amateur radio family, our age group and possible compromised health issues, we are taking the side of safety and canceling the convention,” IDXC Co-chairs Cathy Gardenias, K6VC, and Kris Jacob, KC6TOD, said on behalf of the convention committee. They conceded that, although the number of COVID-19 cases remains low, it only takes one person to pass the virus.

“We will be refunding everyone’s reservation funds/shirt request funds,” the announcement continued. “We appreciate your support and patience while we proceed with sending refunds back to each person.”

Additional amateur radio-related events have been cancelled or postponed as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) fears. Science City at the University of Arizona in Tucson, set for March 14 – 15, where AMSAT had planned satellite demonstrations, and Communications Academy 2020, due to be held in Seattle April 24 – 26, have been cancelled.

The March 14 Great Lakes Convention and the March 15 Toledo Hamfest in Ohio have been cancelled, the sponsoring Toledo Mobile Radio Association (TMRA) has announced. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced plans this week to issue an executive order barring public participation in sporting events and other large gatherings (defined as 100 or more attendees). Ohio has reported four confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, and the latest individual affected did not become sick as a result of traveling. Several conference presenters and vendors already had cancelled their participation. Refunds are in process.

The University of Scranton’s Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, who’s organizing the HamSCI workshop, set for March 20 – 21, said on March 11 that “it is no longer feasible to hold an in-person HamSCI workshop this year” because of the coronavirus situation. “This has been a very difficult decision to make, as a tremendous amount of planning and effort by many people have gone into preparing for the workshop,” he said. “We will refund all registrations for this event.” Frissell said the Science/Program Committee is looking at alternative plans for the HamSCI workshop, which could include an all-electronic meeting. Check the HamSCI workshop website for updates.

In Scotland, the GMDX Convention, set for April 4, has been postponed until later this year, but a new date has not yet been announced. “The current coronavirus situation looks to be escalating, and there will no doubt be a significant increase in severity by the date of the convention,” GMDX Group Chair Rob Ferguson, GM3YTS, said. “We cannot take the risk of holding the convention in these circumstances.”

In England, the Wythall Radio Club has cancelled its March 15 hamfest. “As a responsible club, we have taken this step to minimize any risks to the expected 400+ visitors and traders from the COVID-19 virus, due to the uncertainties regarding the spread of the virus,” the club said.

The Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) has announced the cancellation of several amateur radio events planned for March, in the wake of a government policy requesting that events be canceled, postponed, or reduced in size for the immediate future. Affected events included the West Nippon Ham Fair on March 8, the Chugoku Regional Amateur Radio Direction Finding Competition on March 15, and the Kagawa Ham Festival on March 22. West Nippon Ham Fair organizers said they had considered postponing the event for 6 months, but concluded there was no certainty that the coronavirus situation would be resolved by then.

The Nara DX Association in Japan has postponed the planned V6J IOTA DXpedition to Murilo Island in the Hall Islands at least until next year or later. “We hope the propagation will be better then,” the group said.

Vicenzo Favata, IT9IZY, the president of Italy’s International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society ARI announced this week that the organization’s headquarters in Milan has been closed in line with governmental directives. He noted governmental mandates calling for the suspension of conferences, meetings, and social events while any threat of COVID-19 exists.

Coronavirus concerns also postponed until May 3 a March 8 amateur radio flea market in Iceland, where some 3 dozen COVID-19 cases have been reported.

FUNK TAG (Radio Day) in Kassel, Germany, organized by the DARC and set for April 18, has been cancelled. The DARC Board said it was following the recommendation the federal health minister, who advises avoiding events with more than 1,000 visitors.

Norway’s IARU member-society NRRL postponed its annual general meeting, set for April 19, in line with government recommendations.

The FCC has put new measures in place as a result of the coronavirus situation. Visitors, employees, and contractors who have been in any country subject to a COVID-19-related CDC Level 3 Travel Warning are not allowed to enter FCC facilities. The FCC suspended until further notice any FCC involvement in large, non-critical gatherings involving national or international participants.

Postponed earlier were the March 18 – April 2 T30ET DXpedition to Tarawa (West Kiribati). That may be rescheduled for this fall, assuming the COVID-19 situation is resolved by then. Travel restrictions imposed on individuals entering American Samoa as a result of the coronavirus outbreak also caused Swains Island W8S DXpedition organizers to postpone that DXpedition, tentatively until September 23 – October 6.

In a March 11 announcement, the Dayton Hamvention® Executive Committee, said, “As of now we plan on holding Hamvention unless otherwise directed. It is our intention to follow the orders of the State of Ohio and the Greene County Health Department.”

ARRL Website, Other Services to be Offline on February 28

The ARRL website and other online services will be offline on Friday, February 28, for up to 8 hours in order to conduct necessary maintenance. The outage will begin at 0500 UTC and should end by 1300 UTC. Affected will be the main ARRL website, the ARRL Store, and the ARRL contesting-related pages, including the log submission page. Logbook of The World (LoTW), email, and all ARRL Headquarters systems will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

ARRL Podcast Schedule

ARRL’s “On the Air” podcast’s second episode (February 13) focuses on building the ground plane antenna featured in the first issue of On the Air magazine, a discussion of open-wire feed lines, and an interview with a relatively new public service volunteer. New “On the Air podcast episodes are available monthly.

The first episode of the “Eclectic Tech” podcast (February 13) includes a discussion of amateur radio activity on the Qatar-OSCAR 100 satellite, an interview with Assistant ARRL Lab Manager Bob Allison, WB1GCM, about handheld transceiver testing at Dayton Hamvention and other conventions, and an interview with Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, about propagation conditions. New episodes will be available biweekly.

Both podcasts are available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android) as well as on Blubrry — On the Air | Eclectic Tech.

Barry Shelley, N1VXY, to Become ARRL Interim CEO

At its meeting this weekend, the ARRL Board of Directors did not elect Howard Michel, WB2ITX, as the ARRL Chief Executive Officer. Beginning Monday, January 20, Barry Shelley, N1VXY, will become interim CEO. Mr. Shelley was ARRL’s Chief Financial Officer for 28 years and CEO during 2018 before his retirement. The board has created a search committee to select the next CEO. More details on this and other matters which took place at the board meeting will be released shortly.

European Space Agency Issues Challenge to Hams

The European Space Agency (ESA) is asking hams to help it track a new satellite right after launch and is offering an incentive for taking part. The satellite is called OPS-SAT and it’s scheduled for launch on December 17. According to ESA, “OPS-SAT is a first-of-its-kind CubeSat dedicated purely to experimentation. It carries a wide variety of advanced payloads allowing ‘Experimenters’ to deploy and test their software and apps in space.” You must apply to become an experimenter, but there’s a form on the OPS-SAT website.

ESA is offering hams an incentive: “The first three radio amateurs to receive at least five correctly decoded frames and submit them to ESA get an exclusive invite to the OPS-SAT Experimenter day in March 2020, as well as a tour of the control facilities and ground stations at ESA in Darmstadt, and of course a certificate.”

Details on launch time, frequencies, etc., as well as a link to the experimenter application form, are at <https://tinyurl.com/sojt6yb>. (Tnx Billy Bloom)

ARRL West Texas Ham of the Year Award

At the West Texas Convention in March 2019 during my remarks I mentioned that I was instituting a West Texas Ham of the Year Award.  The award will be presented at the West Texas Convention, Midland Texas during the March 2020 Hamfest.

Below is the nomination format I’d like you to use in nominating someone for the award.  Nominations may be made using the outline below on a plain sheet of paper.

Nominations should be legible and accurately spell out why the person being nominated deserves to be the 2020 West Texas Ham of the Year.

I will appoint a nominating committee who will review the received nominations and make recommendations for the award.  The nominating committee will be composed of our SEC, a DEC and a randomly chosen club member from a West Texas radio club.  Nominating Committee members and ARRL office holders are not eligible for this award.

NOMINATION CRITERIA

I would like to nominate (Name and Call sign) for West Texas Ham of the year. He/She is an ARRL member (required).  (Name) was licensed in _____, and has lived in the West Texas Section for ____ years.

(Name) currently is a member of the following amateur radio organizations (List).  And, he/she has held office as the (_______) for the (_________).

List awards and accomplishments of the nominated individual.  Eg, served as net control for (???) Net; established a mentoring program for new hams; etc.  This is the opportunity to promote your nominee!

Closing paragraph example:

I highly recommend (name) for the West Texas Section Ham of the Year Award.  (he/she) has: (add comments here). Indicate how long you have known the person and their personal attributes.

If it’s an individual making the nomination, include your name, callsign, address, email and telephone number.

If it’s a club making the nomination, include the club name, callsign and pertinent information of the officers making the nomination (as above).   I suspect the club would form a committee to consider club nominations.

Send your completed nomination form to me, H. Dale Durham, W5WI, WTX Section Manager, P.O. Box 375 Buffalo Gap, TX 79508.  Email: w5wi@arrl.org Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. November 30m, 2019.

I know there are many hams in West Texas that deserve this recognition.  I look forward to receiving your nominations.

Vry 73,

Dale, W5WI WTX Section Manager

W6NBC Wins December QST Cover Plaque Award

The winning article for the December 2019 QST Cover Plaque award is “Slot Cube Antenna for 6 Meters” by John Portune, W6NBC.The QST Cover Plaque Award — given to the author or authors of the most popular article in each issue — is determined by a vote of ARRL members on the QST Cover Plaque Poll web page. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the January issue today.

ARRL Self-Guided Emergency Communication Course EC-001-S is Now Available On Demand

ARRL’s EC-001-S online “Introduction to Emergency Communication” course is now available to students in an on-demand format, allowing students to register for the course and begin work at any time. This course is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer.

In response to the great course demand and to expand access to EC-001, ARRL developed a self-guided version of the course, EC-001-S, which launched in June. This version of the course is designed for those who prefer to work independently and who do not need guidance from an online mentor. EC-001-S was previously offered only during specific sessions along with the traditional mentored version. The course opened for general enrollment on November 6.

Visit the ARRL Online Course Registration page for more information and to register.

ARRL November Sweepstakes Offers Two Weekends of Fun

The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) weekends again loom large on the amateur radio contest horizon. The CW weekend is November 2 – 4 — this weekend — while the phone weekend is November 16 – 18. Both events begin on Saturday at 2100 UTC and conclude on Monday at 0259 UTC. An Operating Guide that relates some of the history and evolution of these North American contests is available. SS offers operating categories for every preference. The goal for many seasoned SS operators is to complete a “clean sweep” by working all 83 ARRL and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) sections. Sunday drivers may just want to dabble. Others enjoy trying to make a clean sweep by working one station in each section. Most SS operators, though, simply try to run up the contact and multiplier counts, staying in the chair for the full 24 (out of 30) allowable hours.Some multipliers are much rarer than others, although these can shift from one event to the next. Stations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been absent in recent years after hurricanes devastated those areas. Northern Territories (NT) is often the most difficult, and for a while, it looked as though the NT mainstay, VY1AAA (at the Yukon Territory station of J. Allen, VY1JA), might not be on the air this month. Allen has stepped away from amateur radio, and his station was supposed to have been dismantled already. But circumstances changed, the VY1JA station is still intact, and Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, says he’ll be making the NT mult available to the SS multitude.

“100% I will be on with guns blazing, CW and SSB,” Hull told ARRL this week. “The big ‘if’ was getting J’s Alpha 9500 back in working order, and that happened last Friday. After that, we are done. So, a sweep will be possible.”

Hull will operate VY1AAA remotely from New Hampshire. He said that for the CW event this weekend, he’ll either stay very low in the band — the bottom 5 kHz — or operate above 40 kHz to avoid QRM. And while he’s a snappy CW operator, he promises to slow down for anyone.

“The trick will be finding my own Section,” Hull added. “Let’s see if the propagation gods are with us. I hope so, for this swan song.”

Once the VY1JA station is finally dismantled, VY1AAA will also be off the air, unless Hull is able to secure another station. Hull told ARRL earlier this year that he’s been searching for several months for another Northern Territories station that would be willing to host remote operation.

Allen cited long-term health issues and hearing loss for his decision to retire from ham radio, and his familiar VY1JA call sign will retire with him.

“The VY1AAA team is greatly saddened by this turn of events,” Hull said. “Hams around the world will surely miss J and the VY1AAA team on the bands. J has been an incredible friend and mentor.” Over the past 4 years, VY1AAA has logged more than 35,000 contacts, and QSL requests will continue to be honored, Hull said.

Operators with limited time to get on the air may want to raise the excitement level by “running” — i.e, calling CQ — a lot of stations or by operating later in the contest, when the SS regulars will be on the lookout for call signs they have not yet encountered.

For both the CW and phone events, stations exchange a sequential serial number (no leading zeros needed), an operating category (precedence), call sign, the last two digits of the year of first license for either operator or station (check), and ARRL/RAC Section.

Many areas of the US change from daylight saving time to standard time at 2 AM local time on November 3 by moving clocks back 1 hour. UTC is not affected. — Thanks to Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, and The ARRL Contest Update

Don’t Forget