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Dr Joe Palsa
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This is another dual month letter due to Covid-19 Virus and the effects it has had on the Amateur Radio community in Virginia and around the world. I do not need to repeat the details of all the ham radio activities that have been cancelled. However in some few cases as a result of some partial reopening of activities, hams have been able to partially create some activities.


Virtually all of Virginia Hamfest’s have been cancelled for 2020.

Normal ARRL Field Day plans and activities were operating using modified rules for those operating from home stations, etc so they could still develop scores for their activities. There a few ham groups and individuals that actually did operate under actual field conditions.

There are always a few individuals who are willing to take chances with their own safety. From initial reports, we had a fair amount of successful modified Field Day activities.


June VHF contest turned into some great old time contacts on the 6m band especially. Contacts from all over the US were had along with long path to Japan, Europe, Asia, Caribbean areas.  Speaking of these special contacts, the sunspot levels forecast'd verses what is actually occurring are in major contrast to each other. This is why we had these special opportunities.


We do have several activities that will be occurring within the next couple of months:


MARS- July 20-24, MARS will have another exercise event to make contacts with normal amateur radio operators on Channel 1-5330.5 MHz twice daily, as well as SATERN net members on 14,265 MHz.


QSQ VIRTUAL HAM EXPO- August 8-9. Free registration can be had on the QSQ website. There will be several well known speakers as well as a number of other activities for participants.


AROUND THE BANDS-The Maritime Mobile Service network net was instrumental in the rescue of a ham who was in distress and could not reach the Coast Guard because he was over 40 miles at sea. A net member heard him calling on net frequency and made the rescue connection for him with the Coast Guard. 


AUGUST 8-Georgia ARES will conducting joint communications drill with the RED CROSS to simulate a hurricane and communications with shelters across the state. Over 26 ARES groups will be participating.


WINLINK-In Virginia, Greg has recruited several hams to assist him his Winlink Wednesday nets. His checkin’s have running over 200 plus now each week. Exercises using ICS forms and other connections types including Pactor, etc. are expanding this great weekly exercise. There is a new WinLink form which submits DYFI Earthquake Data directly to USGS database. The DYFI ( Did You Feel  It)was developed by the USGS to take simple reports from the public.


HANDS FREE DRIVING LAWS-Here in Virginia the governor has signed the latest law concerning hands free driving. Indiana has also recently signed a similar. HOWEVER, IN BOTH STATES, AMATEUR RADIO OPERATIONS ARE EXEMPT. In Virginia , we still working to get ONLY THE CITY OF RICHMOND to exempt amateur radio.


VIRGINIA ARES-We are making progress with new DEC appointments since the

15 districts were realigned to match the 8 regions of VDEM operations.

Developing the updated detailed relationship with VDEM has slowed because of the states concentration on the COVID-VIRUS problem. The relationship is solid, just some internal VDEM responsibilities and plans just require fine tuning.


VIRGINA SECTION-We have also recently a youth coordinator since we are seeing an increased number of new licensees that have no experience and need help with their amateur radio education and experience. Also Ed Gibbs has been doing a great job with developing club public relations as well increased exposure of ham radio the public.


A great example, is Wayne Rash, an internationally author for electronic and scientific articles and books was asked by FORBS Magazine to write an article about Amateur Radio. Ed worked with Wayne to develop this great article.


Thousands Of Radio Operators Band Together To Practice For The



For twenty-four hours over the weekend of June 27 and 28, 2020, thousands of amateur radio operators across the United States and Canada set up temporary emergency communications centers where everything had to be done without external services. This meant they had to erect their own temporary antennas, provide their own emergency power and operate their equipment in temporary locations. Their goal was to prove that they can communicate with each other in times of an emergency when there’s no infrastructure available.

These amateur radio operators, also known as hams, devote seemingly endless hours preparing their radio equipment, computers, cables and antennas required to conduct radio communications in today’s demanding environment. What’s more, these radio operators volunteered their time, provided their own equipment and transported it to a remote site without electrical power, frequently without shelter and with only the supplies they could carry. And this time, they were doing it in the middle of a pandemic where they met crowd size requirements and social distancing laws.

FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency.-----------------------  “They do this for the same reason we always exercise,” said former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “It’s better to have it break in practice than break for real.”

In this case, the radio operators were having to work around Covid-19 requirements, but Fugate thinks that’s a good thing.

“One purpose is to practice making contacts under really difficult conditions,” he explained. “Finding clear channels is hard. These are some of the problems you find in an emergency.” While the conditions the radio operators were working in only simulate a real emergency, they can be unpleasant. Fugate pointed out that ham radio operators are essential to communications such as hurricanes in the south or wildfires in the west.

 “It’s a good practice to make sure I can get my station set up, and that I can make contacts on a lone radio with a long wire,” Fugate said. He pointed out in a recent op-ed in The Hill newspaper that when there’s an emergency, amateur radio may be your only choice.

“A lot of this is doing stuff in emergency conditions,” he said.

“You’re going to work with whatever you’ve got.”

Fugate pointed out that in a real emergency, your normal channels of communication may not be there when you need them. “When all else fails there’s amateur radio,” he said. “We saw what Hurricane Michael did to cellular networks in the Florida panhandle. One county didn’t have any contact with the state emergency operations center until a ham got there.”

“That’s the environment that ham radio excels in,” Fugate said.

Field Day------------------------------

The weekend event, known as Field Day, is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, a national organization that supports amateur radio and helps watch over its interests, especially in Washington.

“Field Day started in 1953 as an annual event for the amateur radio community as an exercise for their communications emergency capability,” said Bob Inderbitzen, a spokesperson for the ARRL. He noted that it’s called “Field Day,” because it’s a time when amateur radio operators take their equipment out into a field, or perhaps a public park or picnic shelter, and test their ability to assemble and operate an emergency communications center. The exercises include contacting as many hams as possible in the U.S. and Canada, passing simulated emergency message traffic, communicating with emergency services and explaining the effort to local officials and first responders.

Inderbitzen said that the exercise also gives the radio amateurs a way to learn to work as teams under emergency conditions. “Ham radio operators know how in use their radios in a moment of crisis,” he said.

Fugate said that while he was FEMA Administrator, he decided to try to contact every state EOC without the use of the telephone network, reasoning that in a true emergency, the phone network would likely be unavailable. “The only solution was ham radio,” he said.


ARES CONNECT Update: Connecting Amateur Radio Volunteers with a



The ARRL's ARES Connect tool is not just for ARES anymore: It's evolved to become a robust and efficient data entry/retrieval portal, report generator and management system for all Amateur Radio public service volunteers.

ARES Connect is a data base that allows leadership officials such as Section, District and county Emergency Coordinators to register events and profile volunteers -- their capabilities, training experience, certifications, credentials, and service hours. It renders obsolete the need for leadership teams to manually keep track of their volunteers.

With this web-based application, all records are kept in the cloud, secure but easily accessed by administrators when needed.

Leadership teams have the ability of promoting their events and reducing scheduling conflicts of upcoming activities, making it easier to direct volunteer resources more efficiently. The ARES Connect application can be quickly setup and used in the field on any PC, smart phone or tablet.

The reports generated by ARES Connect contain a wealth of information that can be easily shared with our served partner agencies instantaneously.

Our Volunteers-----------------------------

"New Volunteers" who sign-up for an account on the system are held for Administrators to properly vet. Once vetted, they are assigned to a county and district, and can then upload their profile information, sign-up for events and get their volunteer time recorded for those events. Service points are compiled by the system for the volunteers and coordinators to monitor and issue awards, etc.

ARES Connect is for All Volunteers, not just ARES Some volunteers are members of other groups such as RACES, CERT, etc., and harbor the misconception that ARES Connect is an ARES-only service.

This is not true. ARES Connect is for all amateur radio operators engaged in public service. Note, however, that a volunteer signed up for ARES Connect does not automatically become an ARES member-registrant in an ARES group. Registration of an ARES member is still the decision of the local Emergency Coordinator and/or District Emergency Coordinator as it has always been.

ARES Connect Features for Leadership


Section, District, county Emergency Coordinators:

1. You can keep your ARES member data separate from data for other program (such as RACES) volunteers, yet still combine both groups'

information in your reports when needed.

2. You can quickly check what level of training each volunteer has been vetted for based on their training records and other documents within their personal profile. You can setup events for your ARES team separately or include all operators within your county/district. The system can send email notifications and confirmations to your volunteers when they register for an event, as well as send reminders at a pre-set date or time when the event is about to happen. The system can send "thank you for your service" emails after the event with a link to where the volunteer can log their service time (number of hours worked).

3. You can easily setup recurring events and link your regular attendees to those events, saving your volunteers' time by already having them registered. All they have to do is record their time. If your Administrators have opted to use the "Events Monitor" selection, your volunteers have the ability to go back in time and post-register and post their service hours to any event in the past. This option also allows your volunteers to register themselves to recurring events such as weekly or monthly nets and meetings.

4. There's a "Kiosk" function that allows the volunteer via a QR Code to check into an event (eg., meeting or race). By using the Kiosk mode, the volunteer is automatically recorded, nothing further is required for the volunteer or Administrator to do.

ARES Connect Reports-------------------------- ARES Connect allows ARRL leadership officials to keep track of volunteers, documents such as FEMA ICS course completion certificates, and generate reports quickly with accountability while maintaining flexibility and uniformity across all 71 ARRL sections in the country.

Just about any kind of report can be generated from the data gathered from ARES Connect for use by ARRL HQ, served partner agencies and others, rendering the old reporting and forms submission obsolete.

Other Benefits to Using ARES Connect------------------------- ARES Connect gives you the ability to monitor for, highlight and recognize volunteers who are especially active, reporting high numbers of hours served and/or events worked. A "Top 10" listing for hours logged is published on the ARES Connect dashboard. Every few months the operator with the most hours volunteered receives a certificate or gift of some kind, a great way of rewarding volunteers for a job well done.

The data also assists the SEC, EC or DEC, in detecting areas of inactivity where improvement/help might be needed.

Leadership officials can also efficiently share the data and reports with local, regional or state EMA Directors or County Commissioners, demonstrating the breadth, depth and value of your volunteers' services rendered.

Another efficiency derived from using ARES Connect is that monthly reporting by your ECs and DECs is no longer necessary; even the monthly report to ARRL Headquarters is no longer required. ARES Connect contains the reporting data automatically, which can be dowloaded and/or queried at any time by those needing it.

For examples of reports that can be generated, see for an entire division report. By visiting you can see the report of the division's sections. In another example, data can be filtered down to the county level -- see Connect-County.html These dashboards are all derived from data obtained directly from ARES Connect.

There are currently over 14,000 registered users in the


Those of you who have been keeping up with ham radio news have seen a big increase in Podcasts on various subjects, from learning to solder, designing antennas, to testing of new equipment. These podcasts are grown more popular each week. Online Zoom meeting for ARRL Section Managers, SEC’s, etc’s have given voice to ARRL field appointees as well and individuals so their opinions and questions can be heard and

presented ARRL HQ leadership.   

As everyone knows the C-19 has created untold problems in everyone’s health, especially those whose health was challenged to start with.  In addition, it has created havoc with our economy and caused catastrophic unemployment problems.

Virtually all hamfests, meetings, and all other meet and greet events have been cancelled for several months in the future. Many clubs and other applicable events have resorted to on line zoom meetings.

Many new local nets have been created by clubs as daily health and welfare nets because of the virus. These have become very popular and an example our local RATS club in Richmond has a nightly net at 7 PM local time on their 146.88/74.4 repeater.  This has already turned up several requests in the last few weeks. There is also a weekly a Medical Net on Wednesday’s 0130 UTC on 7.222 band.

The May 30th Red Cross sponsored Emergency Communication exercise was an event exercise created because last fall, a similar exercise was created and run with ARES cooperation with stations from South Carolina to Maine. That exercise utilized all forms of message handling and really utilized Winlink for one of the first times as a lead message format.

The May 30th exercise was created to show the capabilities of Amateur Radio on a nationwide basis to pass emergency communications messages across the country in even nationwide infrastructure was down. WinLink as well as voice messaging and othe digital abilities were tested this time in a more structured, sophisticated drill exercise event. Over 38 states participated with over 2,500 individual amateur radio operators.

A full after action report is being complied at this time to provide for the first time real details and statistic’s of a national drill exercise. I will publish this report when it becomes available.

ARRL has announced a NEW LIFE Membership 70+ program. Details are on the ARRL HQ web page.

Dr Joe Palsa

ARRL Virginia Section Manager   804-350-2665



Virginia Officials