The ARRL National Convention Ventures Deep in the Heart of Texas
The ARRL National Convention -- held in conjunction with Ham-Com in Plano, Texas June 10-11 -- featured the ARRL EXPO, a large exhibition area within the main exhibit hall. The ARRL EXPO featured a project building activity and the ARRL Youth Lounge, while booths highlighting various ARRL departments and programs such as Education & Technology, Emergency Communications, Radiosport, ARRL VEC, ARRL Equipment and Club Liability Insurance Programs, Regulatory and Legislative Programs, ARRL Development and the ARRL Foundation were on hand. The exhibit area was anchored on one side by a huge ARRL store where attendees could browse and buy the latest ARRL publications, join or renew their League membership. ARRL EXPO was supported by a team of 73 ARRL volunteers, officials and staff.
On Saturday afternoon, ARRL National Convention keynote speaker Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, addressed a packed house of attendees in the largest ballroom at the Plano Centre. Retired as Special Counsel with the Enforcement Bureau at the FCC since 2008, Hollingsworth enjoys speaking to Amateur Radio groups at conventions and club meetings around the country. He complimented the Amateur Radio Service as a community “bound together by the magic of wireless and a love of public service,” and shared reflections on ensuring the longevity of the Amateur Radio Service “for a thousand years.”
Hollingsworth paid tribute to earlier generations of radio amateurs and credited the ARRL for its persistent pressure on FCC during the late 1980s and 1990s during when the Commission was not very involved in enforcement in the Amateur Service. That pressure ultimately lead Hollingsworth into a position as the FCC’s enforcement watchdog -- and a revived synergy between self-regulation and protecting the Amateur Radio Service.
Laura Smith, the current FCC Special Counsel in the Enforcement Bureau, also attended Ham-Com with her husband Richard Smith, who also works at the FCC. On Saturday morning, she offered some reflections about her day-to-day activities involving Amateur Radio enforcement, such as individual self-regulation, suggesting that radio amateurs should avoid getting into conflicts with each other. Smith explained that most complaints made to the Enforcement Bureau could be avoided simply by what she called “spinning the dial,” noting that when FCC enforcement is necessary, that Amateur Radio is a privilege, not a right.
Smith also spoke about her commitment to protect the Amateur Radio Service, citing FCC collaboration with the ARRL to help abate problems involving interference to the Amateur Radio Service from power line interference and other noise and interference sources. She used the opportunity to recognize ARRL Laboratory Engineer and power line noise expert Mike Gruber, W1MG, for his expert technical assistance with educating and working with utility companies on power line interference problems. Smith encouraged radio amateurs who need assistance in resolving RFI problems to utilize resources available from the ARRL.
ARRL West Gulf Director David Woolweaver, K5RAV, moderated the ARRL Members Forum at noon on Saturday. The West Gulf Division was the host Division for the 2011 ARRL National Convention at Ham-Com. Woolweaver recognized a handful of ARRL-affiliated radio clubs within the West Gulf Division that had recently participated in an ARRL membership campaign, boosting the visibility of ARRL membership. During the forum, officials from the City of Plano made a special presentation, recognizing Ham-Com Vice President Fred Varian, WD5ERD, for his years of public service to Plano, particularly for his efforts as a radio amateur.
ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, also addressed the forum, describing the League’s efforts on behalf of Amateur Radio advocacy. She highlighted activities in the ARRL Lab, as well as the organization’s dealings in Washington and in international settings. ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, offered information about preparations for the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) scheduled for January 23-February 17, 2012 in Geneva. He acknowledged that financial contributions made by ARRL members have supported the League’s spectrum defense efforts. Craigie concluded, saying, “We want ARRL to be strong as it enters its second century.”
ARRL Field Day Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, moderated a Field Day forum on Friday afternoon. “Field Day is the Amateur Radio community’s opportunity to learn something new,” he said. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC, took up that theme, encouraging more radio amateurs to participate in Field Day, noting that Field Day provides hams with an opportunity to improve individual technical and operating skills. The 2011 running of ARRL Field Day is June 25-26.
The W1AW/5 Special Event Station took over the center lawn with two communication trailers and a field of antennas. Visitors operated from the station throughout the convention, earning a certificate for getting on the air. W1AW/5 was sponsored by Dallas County REACT, the Dallas Amateur Radio Club and the Garland Amateur Radio Club. While details from within the secret enclave of the ARRL Royal Order of the Wouff Hong are unavailable, almost 100 convention goers -- including many ARRL members seeking initiation into the Order -- attended the lively and historic ritual and ceremony, held late Friday night. The Wouff Hong Ceremony was sponsored by the Dallas Amateur Radio Club and Ham-Com, under the eligibility of an ARRL National Convention.
If you couldn’t make it to Dayton Hamvention or the 2011 ARRL National Convention in Plano, you can browse photo albums from these events on the ARRL Facebook page.