Contact March 2012


March 2012

Vol 10  No 3

March 2012

In this issue:

·         ARRL at Washington DC Science Festival

·         PIO Planning Contest

·         The Importance of Planning

·         Meet the Press

·         Spectrum Threats – very real, very important

·         What’s Pinterest

·         Field Day Logo

·         Darn Commercials!

·         E-mail stamps coming

·         Facebook and Media attention

·         Dayton Plans – you coming?

·         A New player on the Web –

·         We have Stories to Tell

·         Two for WP3GW

·         How will you score on Field Day?

·         The Last Word




ARRL will be at Washington DC Science Festival


The DIY Campaign is in full swing and already having positive results.  Among the activities planned for 2012 is the ARRL presentation at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. next month.  You can read more about it at .



Results of the PIO Planning Contest


In January I wrote, “So what are you going to do this year in PR?” 

We invited PIOs to send in their  PR plans for the year 2012 – what you are going to do, why, when, and your target population.  I passed these on to the Public Relations Committee and we picked out the best ones.  The winner gets both a new ARRL Handbook and Antenna Book.  We looked at creativity, use of resources, use of volunteers, identification of target populations, motivations, linkages to others and effectiveness.


So who won?

First Place went to Chris Tate, KJ4UBL – yes, the same NC youth and PIO who won the “elevator speech” contest!   Second place went to Robert Webster, KD8OXJ.  Third place was “Woody” Woodward, K3VSA.



The Importance of Planning


A major role of a Section Public Information Coordinator is to provide guidance and support to the Section’s PIOs.  This is reinforced in the PIC job description, part 2 -Working with your PIOs.

From the PIO planning contest, it was obvious that few sections or PIOs had actually made any plans.  Most were simply repeating what they had done in prior years or hoping to react to a call initiated by someone else.  Being passive in the face of an aggressive onslaught of spectrum-hungry corporate interests is a sure way to hurt Amateur Radio. 


We have some great stories to tell and I believe that PIOs are, in the main, good intelligent people but need local guidance on how to get going.  This is the job of the PIC. 


In some sections, PIC’s are arranging meetings with their PIOs to plan out Field Day and other activities.  By working together, using the various strengths of different people on different types of media, and teaming up, these are among the most published hams in the country.  But it takes coordination and an active leader.


We encourage PIC’s to set up dedicated meetings with their PIOs.  If not in person, use phone conferencing or webcast options.  Set goals and use the “power of the team” working together.  It’s much more productive and a lot more fun too.



Meet the Press


One of the best sources on how to work with news reporters is simply to ASK them!  So when Bill Husted, KQ4YA, speaks, we listen.  Bill writes:


It would be smart to advise the PIO to set up a get-to-know you meeting with a local reporter or editor - I'm talking informal, a cup of coffee thing. Then to ask advice on how to best work together. My thinking is that building a relationship of sorts could help. Also once you ask someone for advice and then follow it - the advice giver may have something of a buy-in. So this wouldn't be a specific pitch for a release, instead it would be an attempt to form a bit of a relationship.

People tend to forget that PR is really a human relationship thing at its heart. If you know someone and like them you tend to take time to listen and help.

The downside is that the reporter or editor might be too busy to do that. But it's likely that - in at least some cases - they'd agree to a cup of coffee, maybe right at the newspaper or broadcast outlet.


A Comment on Spectrum Threats


In today's Wall Street Journal there are at least three (3) articles about competition for spectrum allocations.

A cell phone company was denied cell phone use of spectrum in response to military and others claiming it is too close to military spectrum and GPS and COULD cause interference. This is very different from how the FCC ruled on broadband over electrical systems.

These articles highlight the ongoing competition for spectrum and how the Amateur Radio service WILL continue to be under assault to give up spectrum for commercial uses with pressure from lobbyists making financial contributions to both political parties.

It is essential that Amateur Radio become more aggressive than ever in promoting our public service and other value to the country. 

One thing I believe is essential in making that case and promoting it further is moving away from the focus PRIMARILY on, "When all else fails." Amateur Radio is essential in providing free to governments equipment and trained communicators when public service and commercial communications systems are overloaded. 

In videos of 911, first responders were talking over each other. In the recent earthquakes in the Washington DC area new video repeatedly showed people in the streets pulling out their cell phones. This is universal behavior. We saw it in video of the earthquake in Japan that caused the tsunami.  In fact, one video on a residential street showed a woman being knocked from her feet to the sidewalk with her bags from shopping. Unable to stand up again because of the shaking, she pulls our her cell phone and tries to use it. 

Recently here in New Mexico Sprint cell phone service was unavailable. Last fall in about the southern 1/3 of the state of New Mexico communications, including Internet and 911 were lost because of a dual cable cut in different locations during the same time. Amateur Radio provided essential communications but I don't know that there was any PR generated from that.

Various interests will become increasingly and more aggressively, meaning including pouring money into Washington DC, exerting huge pressure to take Amateur Radio services spectrum. We need to understand that, expect it and begin yesterday promoting ourselves to have any hope of protecting our spectrum against the increasing actions against us to deprive us of spectrum.

Stanton Royce, MBA, CEO, W5CO


Another Option - Pinterest is an online bulletin board where you can post most any topic and others can comment on it.  It was brought to our attention by Larry Watson, KD4VOM, who wrote:

I stumbled on this morning and apparently its growing like mad.  It seems like there might be a role for ARRL/Amateur Radio promotion here…


Field Day logo

The 2012 Field Day logo is:

2012 FD logo

Pat Mullet, KC8RTW, with a little help from Rich Levow, WA2NLL, took the Field Day logo and has expanded it into a banner graphic you can use on stationery too. 

The above are for stationery and stationary things.  (Blame N2COP for that pun.) With a little luck and help from our friends, I hope to also have an animated logo graphic for you next month.


In the Beginning...

Tired of turning on the TV or radio and being blasted by incessant commercials?  Well, you can blame a ham for that!  Oct. 17 1919 – back in the days before there were many regulations....

 Westinghouse engineer Frank Conrad, an amateur radio operator, decides to save his voice by placing a microphone in front of his phonograph and playing some records, thus inadvertently producing the first musical radio broadcast. His fellow amateur radio operators urge him to do more, and he begins borrowing records from a nearby music store in exchange for mentioning their names during the broadcast, thus inadvertently creating the first radio commercials.


Expedited email option for Amateur Radio operators.


FCC licensed Amateur Radio operators will soon be allowed to use the new federal stamps that will expedite their emails over the Internet.  Developed by DARPA-34 Research, electronic codes embedded in the stamp trigger a higher priority classification for the tagged messages using the critical microwave linking systems that pass mail over long distances.  As a result, the stamped emails are transmitted faster and more reliably.   This option can be very important during times when the normal infrastructure is overloaded as was experienced in the 2011 Virginia earthquake.  Because of their access to the new stamps, ham operators, known for their communications work in such emergencies, will be able to get messages through faster. 


Commonly used 50? N-Type microwave relays 40-780-511 and 40-780-512 in the 18GHz Microwave band recognize the specially printed codes on the left side of the stamp.  Much like a bar code, these command lines cause the relay to open, suppressing other data in the buffer system while the stamped data stream is transmitted. 

New Email Stamp

The new email stamps should be available from the Post Office beginning April 1st .   For more information see: and a calendar.


Another way to get Media Attention

At a meeting last night of the Online News Association, several media outlets said they have Facebook pages and they are occasionally sources for story ideas. The outlets monitor their own pages to see what people are talking about, and may follow up if something is generating interest. One recent example given was a story about a dog that was euthanized because it ate the neighbor's chickens (this is Texas, you know). In addition to (not in place of) the traditional approach of personal contact and media releases, consider bookmarking these pages and posting notes there. Priority should go to upcoming events, these could be of a community-wide nature or could be about a local ham who is getting an unusual recognition or achievement. You may have just posted a video on YouTube of interest (that you have rights to), put a note and a link on a media page. Immediate incidents are of great interest. If you are firing up a Skywarn net, have stormchaser real-time pictures, or even have a smartphone with you at an incident you happen upon, post a notice and a picture or video. Put "amateur radio operator" or similar identifier in the text. Of course, do not upload anything that could identify a victim of an incident. Good luck!

Steven Polunsky, W5SMP, Chair
ARRL Public Relations Committee


My Dayton Plans

Going to Dayton this year?  If you are, I hope you will stop by the ARRL PR stage.  Note that I wrote “stage” and not “booth.”  With the success of the DIY campaign, we are trying something new. 

At Dayton this year, I plan to continue the DIY theme with a series of short (30 min max) “show-and-tell” presentations at the ARRL’s PR stage.  Instead of the usual stand, we’ll be hosting many DIY people, one after another every hour, showing their projects and possibilities for others.   One of the nice things is that we are also supposed to be right next to the ARRL Lab’s kit building area – so there will be good exposure to the DIY topic.

Are you a DIY person?  Do you enjoy making your own things?  Got a project you would like to present?  If so, I do not know what you may have planned for Dayton, but before all the slots for these show-and-tell presentations fill up, I would like to invite you to have one of them if you desire.  If so, please write me at  and let me know about your project and which day(s) and a range to time options. 

The presentation should not take more than 30 minutes at most, but be prepared to stick around longer to answer questions and meet/greet people.


These slots are not be commercials for a marketed product, but descriptions of the project, what it does, how people make and use them, what's involved in making them and encouragement for people to try similar creative things.  While references to where to buy them are OK (even if it is from you :-) I think you can understand that overt sales pitches are not the main point in this.  Focus on the fun, the feeling of accomplishment, enjoyment of creating your own equipment and so on.  Of course, ARRL is merely providing the opportunity for hams to see, talk and share about them, ask questions and explore options.  ARRL does not endorse any presenter or item in this.


So if you have a project your are excited about and you are going to Dayton, write me and we’ll do some planning together.

There’s a new player on the Internet.  Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, best known for his ARVN video work is launching a podcast service with interviews of people making and doing modern Amateur Radio activities.  We’ll have more about this later, but for now check it out at .


What makes Ham Radio an interesting story to tell:

Þ    Surge of New Amateur Radio Licensees


There are almost 5 times as many US “hams” today as there were in the 1950’s.  The number of Amateur Radio license holders in the US has gone from 144,000 back in 1955 to over 700,000 in 2012.  Predictions that the internet, computers, cell phones and other digital systems would end Amateur Radio were mistaken.  Instead, hams have incorporated digital systems into their wireless activities.


Þ    Technological Innovation


The Amateur Radio bands are the last remaining place in the radio spectrum where individuals can experiment with wireless communications.  Radio amateurs can make, test and design their own equipment – something you cannot do with your cell phone. 


Þ    Hands-on Learning


Amateur Radio has been the place where thousands of today’s engineers got their first practical experience in electronics.  The ARRL began it’s initiatives in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) years before the STEM term was even coined.  ARRL is a premier source of wireless electronics information and publications.


Þ    We Do That


Using satellites, bouncing signals off meteors and the moon, creating hybrid radio-internet systems that provide Internet capabilities where there is no Internet, voice and digital messaging, television, automatic positional reporting systems, medical inventions for cancer and neurosurgery – all these are part of today’s Amateur Radio activities.

Þ    Community Service


Amateur Radio operators are an integral part of every state’s emergency plans, involved with CERT team initiatives, FEMA, DHS, NOAA, ARC and many local and regional response groups.  


Þ    Just plain FUN


Radio amateurs are not paid.  The countless hours and millions of dollars worth of their own equipment is used in service to their communities and because it simply is fun to do.  The enjoyment of being non-dependent on others to communicate is a radio amateur’s delight.


(Unfortunately I lost my notes on who sent the text above in to me, but Thank You!)


WP3GW & McGan Award

Not one but Two! Ángel Santana - WP3GW , who is the Puerto Rico Section PIO, got his McGan Silver Antenna Award during the 7th Gran Hamfest del Norte celebrated Feb.5, 2012 in the city of Hatillo. He also received the Distinguished Amateur Radio Person Award from the Caribbean Amateur Radio Group (CARG) for Outstanding Public Relations efforts on the island. From left to right: Wilfredo Avilés-KP4ARN and Serafín Martinez-KP4FIE, officers of CARG, Ángel, Section Manager Roberto Jimenez-KP4AC and José "Otis" Vicéns-NP4G.



How will YOU score on Field Day?

Add up your group’s points in the three categories below.




1. Visitors come and can wander around on their own, ask questions if they feel like it and may get answers.


2. There’s an information table at the entry with papers on it, but no one is usually there.


3. There’s an information table and a designated greeter.


4. There’s a clearly marked information table with designated greeters who will accompany visitors on a tour, answering questions.


5. There’s a clearly marked information table with designated greeters who will accompany visitors on a tour, answering questions and encouraging  them to the GOTA station.





1. Most of us wear jeans or cut-offs and whatever T-shirts we feel like.  Some have graphics expressing our rebellion at the world.


2.   We’re camping, so we’re all in army fatigues, boots and survival gear.


3. Jeans, clean T-shirts or sport shirts, most of us wearing the club or group logo.


4. Kakis and sport shirts with group logo are almost universal.  We also have nametags on.


5. Everyone in kakis or equivalent, sport shirts with group logo, nametags.





1. Frequent disagreements and foul language between participants can be overheard.


2. Older members corner visitors talking about how ham radio is dumbing down and CW is the only real mode.


3. The food may be good, but the “kitchen area” is a dirty mess.



4. The area is neat and clean.  People are respectful , even cheerful.  Special attention is paid to visitors and children too.


5. The area is neat and clean.  People are respectful , even cheerful.  Special attention is paid to visitors and children too.  AND SOMEONE SAYS “THANK YOU FOR COMING” to visitors as they leave and invites them to your next gathering.


So how will you do?

Score 13 or more and I want to be at YOUR location :-)



The Last Word


We’ve written a lot about planning and coordination this month, but it is quite important.  One of the places where you need to put this into practice right NOW is in securing proclamations for Field Day and/or Amateur Radio Week.  Do not expect that you can get these done at the last minute – it takes time and the right contacts. 


Two years ago we had a record number of state level proclamations.  Last year was good, but less.  With the cell phone bans growing (which is a state section level issue) and the coming federal investigation into the effectiveness of hams in an emergency (, the importance of securing state level proclamations goes far beyond simple bragging rights.  They are a political statement showing support and importance. 


Contact your Section’s PIC and SGL to find out what they are doing in your state.  Get a plan and assign accountability to get it done.  It’s not too soon to start right now.

- - - - - - - -

Want to use something you see here in CONTACT! in your group’s newsletter?  Sure!

The content here can be cut/paste into local newsletters.  We just ask you mention where you got it from.

- - - - - - - -

A final note –

Lately there has been a rash of people trying to post to the e-mail reflector and the system has tossed out the messages as they are coming from addresses not recognized in the system.  A lot of these were attempts at spam, but many others might have been from people who were sending from an address other than the one they registered with.  Remember that the system will only recognize you if you send from the same address you registered with.  People with multiple email addresses need to check to see which one they are using.


-Allen   w1agp