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Enthusiasm, Friendly Faces Abound at Orlando HamCation, Host of 2016 ARRL National Convention


New ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, was among the members of the ARRL team greeting visitors to the ARRL Expo at Orlando HamCation on February 12. Friday was opening day for the Orlando HamCation, which is hosting the 2016 ARRL National Convention. The event marks President Roderick’s inaugural ARRL National Convention appearance since his election in January. The weather has been pleasant, and the ample crowd friendly and enthusiastic, perusing the exhibits at ARRL Expo and elsewhere and checking out the Amateur Radio equipment, parts, and accessories on display by venders at the HamCation.

Incoming ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, is attending, and the ARRL team helping members to write letters to members of Congress in support of the Amateur Radio Parity Act recruited Gallagher to sign a letter to his representative.

During a packed forum, ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, and Field Services and Radiosport Assistant Manager Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, outlined the ins and outs of the ARRL National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) operating event. Kutzko stressed three main points for National Park “Activators” to remember when venturing out to National Park units to operate:

  • Cooperate with National Park Service staff
  • Don’t disturb other visitors
  • Leave no trace.

“Pileups are common on either side,” Kutzko said, citing his own experiences. “A lot of folks have no experience. They’re learning quickly, on the fly.”

As Margie Spanenberg, KK4AGN, pointed out from the audience during a question-and-answer session, “It is for fun. It’s not a contest.”

In a forum on Amateur Radio Public Service and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, stressed the value of keeping ARES volunteers engaged throughout the year. “ARES must constantly adapt,” he said. “We can’t keep doing things the same ways we’ve always done them.” Even in times of calm, ARES team leaders must keep their members motivated, and team building is important.

Corey said that in 2015, the ARES program had 17,756 participants, up from 10,471 the previous year. They took part in more than 25,000 events — most of them not emergencies but public service events.

“Getting on the air is the most important thing you can do as a radio amateur,” Corey told his audience. Even contesting and casual operating experience can be valuable in an emergency or disaster. “Amateur Radio requires constant learning and improving.”

Corey said that volunteerism is the heart of Amateur Radio. “Our communities are better off for what we do.”

Orlando HamCation continues through Sunday, February 14.





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