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December 2011


December 2011

In this issue:

  • The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio
  • About those buttons...
  • Who won the elevator speech?
  • The DIY video
  • The new handout
  • Help Wanted
  • Last Days for Leonard Award nominations
  • A Great Thanksgiving
  • Ham Humor
  • Good info for PIO’s and EmComm
  • The Last Word – “resolutions”

The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio

Mark the date, for on December 27th we roll out the new DIY campaign.

You may first get wind of it as one of the panels on the “carousel” at the top of the main webpage. (The picture is the one above.) Or perhaps you get your QST a bit earlier than most folks and saw an article about it. But this is something totally new. It is the first major campaign where we (a) are not very concerned about the reception by hams themselves because (b) are not promoting Amateur Radio for itself. Instead we are promoting Amateur Radio as a tool to be used in other pursuits. In this case, it is a way for Do-It-Yourselfers, Makers and Hackers to achieve wireless control and transmission of information for other things. Things like computers, robots, flying and crawling and driving things – all sorts of things.

The campaign opens with the words, “The Do It Yourself or “DIY” movement is nothing new to Amateur Radio. For just over a century, hams have been working in basements and attics, taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways for the fun of it. The enjoyment of seeing your own creation work –or even if it fails- always surpasses being a mere user of corporate products. Today’s hams continue to use technologies in new and creative ways that can become the consumer products of tomorrow and, in the meantime, they have FUN doing it!

In the past few years there has been an explosive growth in “Makers” among the American public. Perhaps this is in reaction to the anonymity of mass-production, perhaps because of the new, low-cost computer chips, or perhaps it always was there but only now is getting major notice. These are people who simply enjoy making things for themselves. They are a lot like early hams, and many of them actually are hams. But not enough. A large number of them do not know about the opportunities Amateur Radio provides for the expansion of their hobby. This campaign is targeted at that audience. There are parts that will not be of much interest to experienced hams – but is of interest to the maker community. They too have their club meetings. Their version of QST is Make Magazine. Their demographic is primarily male and their average age is (surprise!) early 40’s. But, like hams, there are wide variations. They are well educated, curious and grew up in the digital age. Their version of a hamfest is called a Makers Faire, and there are many of them about. Some are very large.

It is not our goal to change them – indeed, we want to encourage them more! We want to say, “Here’s something you can add to your vocabulary as you design and create new things.” The similarities between us are very great. We are both fathered by an inquisitive spirit and a desire to answer ‘What if...’

As was done in the Hello, Emergency and WeDoThat campaigns, there is not one thing, but a whole suite of related materials coming out on the 27th. There will be a new 8 minute video, PowerPoint, buttons, and handout fliers.

Oh, about those buttons....

Thanks to those who took the time to enter the informal “elevator speech” contest. (I sent each of them some of the buttons already.) You were asked to send me your best script on how to answer that question in 30 seconds or less (about the time you have on an elevator, which is why they call if an "elevator speech").

The rules were:

No more than 30 seconds long, max!

Answers the question "What is Amateur Radio?" for a non-ham listener.

Does not use diagrams, pictures or items not normally carried every day in common settings.

Grading on accuracy, completeness and creativity.

Does not use "hamspeak" words.

While the entries were widely varied, there was method to my madness. The buttons say, “Ask me why I DIY with Ham Radio.” The purpose is to get someone to ask you about it. That’s your opening to quickly explain what is ham radio. The buttons and the contest went together. (Maybe we shouldn’t give buttons to people who cannot answer the question???? Nah!) We’ll have the buttons available at many of the larger hamfests and events while my supplies last.

So who won?

There was a tie for second place between K4EK and WA3UVV !!

Doug Lamb, K4EK

Ham Radio is the ability to communicate -- across the street, around the world, or even with people and satellites in space! Even when the power's out, and the land lines and cell phones don't work, with a battery, a radio, and a wire, ham radio is there.
Ham Radio lets us enjoy life-long friends, and a hands-on technical education. It provides the resources and encouragement to experiment with new things and to design and build on the latest communications technologies.
You can't say that the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon! You can go anywhere you want, without boundaries, and amateur radio can help you get there!

AND an audio file sent in by Cory Sickles, WA3UVV


But the winner is (drum roll please)... Christopher Tate, KJ4UBL

Amateur, or Ham, Radio, is a fun hobby for all ages and walks of life, in which we can talk to people around the world or across town with a simple radio and antenna. We also work with various agencies to provide real-time information in the event of a natural disaster. On the local scale, Hams voluntarily provide communications for events such as bike rides and marathons. You know, Ham Radio is for people just like you! I hope you want to learn more.


The DIY Video

As good as it is, the “Amateur Radio Today” video is getting older now. Thankfully, most senior level EmComm people still remember Walter Cronkite. But a younger audience, growing up in an urban area, have nothing they can identify with in the film. So we commissioned Bill Pasternak and Dave Bell to once again put their creative minds to work on a new video, “The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio.” Working together for many months, we ended up with over 60 hours of high definition clips. We had everything from ARISS contacts, Fox hunts and MESH networks to blimps and tricycles. We boiled it down to 8 minutes of things most intriguing to Makers. Many of the rest of the clips are (I bet you never noticed!) already up at . While few American PIOs spotted the additions of pages of videos there, we already have had foreign hams spot it and are writing us asking permission to show them in their own schools in their equivalent of S.T.E.M. initiatives (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

The main DIY video will be posted to the ARRL Website, general YouTube and also the ARRL_HQ’s special YouTube channel on the 27th. DVD disks will be available from our Website as well as downloads in normal and HD versions.

The Handout

There’s no payoff in showing the video without giving the audience something to do at the end. If there’s no “call to action,” then all you did was waste 8 minutes. So a special handout, keyed to the video itself, has been prepared and will be available from the ARRL HQ for the cost of the postage needed to get it to you. (It really looks good – the graphics people did a great job on this one again.)

What YOU can do...

Does your group have a Maker type person in it? Make sure they know about it!

On the 27th, pass the word to groups and clubs about this new option to promote ham radio to a new audience. Tweet and Facebook it.

Start writing down a list of potential groups that would like you to do a presentation on this topic.

Get ready for some PR fun!

Help Wanted

5-7 volunteer PIOs wanted for working group to create searchable index of topics covered in the PR pages of website. Knowledge of MSWord, website and PIO experience needed. Able to work with others telecommuting from home, complete project on time with minimal supervision. For particulars and to apply, email . The goal is to create an easily searchable document showing PR topics and related web pages.

Leonard Award Nominations Due Dec 9th by 5pm EDT

Just a reminder that if you spotted a good news piece in print, radio or TV, nominate the reporter for the Leonard Award. Nominations are due in to HQ by Dec 9th. Full info is available at

It was a Great Thanksgiving

Sometimes you just cannot know what progress you are making until it jumps up and surprises you. November was like that.

After hours of viewing and editing the additional video clips not used in the DIY video, taking the usable pieces and stringing them together as best I could, then posting them, I was sure no one was looking. There was not one comment on the PR reflector or in email. While I did not publicize the additions as I was waiting for Dec 27th, I thought someone should have spotted them. But it seems no one did. Maybe no one was even using that website any more.

Then I got the emails asking for Spanish versions, permissions to show it in schools and even one wondering about Portuguese subtitle options (for Brazil). It very definitely is being seen and used! Maybe not by Americans, but by the world out there. I like that.

When we got the word that Amateur Radio had passed 700,000 licensees in the US, I sent out press releases to many places. I also made some 1:1 emails and even a couple phone calls. I thought it would be a good story. No one seemed interested. It was nice, but...

Then the Fox News story popped up. Triggered by the huge licensing class at Cal Poly, they got curious, and there was my information all laid out for them. Not only did Fox do a story, it was amazing how quickly their actions triggered a host of “me too” stories from places that previously had not responded and they knew where to come for information and interview materials.

So the moral to this is “keep swinging.” Make the contacts, keep in touch with reporters, do the job of a PIO. Even when you don’t think anyone is listening, in PR you just never know. One small thing can trigger an avalanche like we had late November.

Ham humor

From Lloyd Colston, KC5FM:

Upon learning that the lifetime membership with the League was so expensive, an Oklahoma ham said, "My State lifetime fishing license was less than that!"

"Your State Lifetime fishing license only works in Oklahoma. League benefits are Nationwide."

------- says People send over 2.8 million emails every second.

(No wonder my in box is so full in the mornings!)


And a scene from the coming movie Journey 2 the mysterious island:

“You’re going to go halfway around the world and meet up with some lunatic that’s messing around with a ham radio?”

“That’s no lunatic, that’s my grandfather!”

(-oh well, maybe it still IS your Grandfather’s radio after all?)

Excellent info page about PIOs and EmComm actions

I really hope you will take a moment to read this page before it changes or goes away.

Thanks to Walt Palmer, W4ALT, for spotting it.

The Last Word

New Year’s Resolutions and ham radio

It’s getting to be that time again. In less than a month we resolve to be better. New Year’s resolutions are always interesting. Sometimes we keep them, most times we don’t. But we all do make them, even if just to ourselves. Lose some weight, paint the living room, read a book or learn to play the banjo – the plans vary widely. But at least we make plans.

If there are no thoughts and plans, then the chances of any action greatly diminished. (No one just starts painting the living room without some thought to it.) So, what are your plans as a PIO for 2012?

I promise you, the Mayans were wrong and the world will not end in 2012. If I am wrong, you will be the 2nd one to know. So you need to plan.

The only reason the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 is that they did not plan and ran out of rocks.

“Hey, Quazikettles....hand me a new rock!”

“What?? We’re all out of rocks? Then we’ll just stop here and drive people nuts.”

OK, so 2012 really will happen after all. What do you plan to do about it as a PIO? Here at HQ we need to plan at least a year in advance. We need more than just a Field Day release and maybe answering the (never coming) phone call from Fox News. So what are your plans – let us know and we can work together. Share your 2012 PR work plans on the email reflector. Let’s see what you got.

In the meantime have a Merry Christmas!

-Allen w1agp


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