Thursday, April 16, 2020

Additional COVID-19 Cancellations: Friedrichshafen and US Youth Camp

Bans on large gatherings around the world due to Coronavirus continue to impact ham radio events. The organizers of HAM RADIO Friedrichshafen, Europe's largest hamfest, have cancelled this year's show due to a ban by the German government on major events extending at least through August 31. The Friedrichshafen hamfest had been scheduled for late June.

In addition, the first Youth on the Air (YOTA) camp scheduled for the western hemisphere has been delayed until 2021. The weeklong gathering for young hams had been planned for late June at the Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting outside Cincinnati, Ohio. The in-person camp will be rescheduled for July of 2021. Meanwhile, organizers are working on possible activities that might be able to be conducted remotely this summer, from participants' homes.

Organizers of the Dayton Hamvention previously announced its cancellation for this year. The Tokyo Ham Fair was previously rescheduled until August due to conflicts with the now-postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. As of now, that August date is holding for Asia's largest hamfest.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Joseph "Bud" Trench, AA3B, Named CQ WPX Contest Director

Joseph W. "Bud" Trench, AA3B, of Boyertown, Pennsylvania, has been named Director of the CQ WPX SSB and CW Contests, CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, announced today. He succeeds Randy Thompson, K5ZD, who has been serving as Interim Director.
Bud Trench, AA3B (Photo courtesy AA3B)
Trench has been licensed since 1970 and has more than 1.4 million QSOs in his logbook (which would be very thick if still on paper!). Bud has a passion for contesting, achieving 15 first-place finishes in the CQ World Wide DX CW Contest in the Single Op Low Power category using call sign V26K, including the current world record. He has been among the top-10 USA scorers consistently since 2005 in the CQ WW WPX CW High Power category, and has achieved the top North American score six times in CQ WW WPX RTTY. In addition, he was the Single Op World Winner of the CQ WW WPX Triathlon plaque in 2014, and competed in WRTC 2018.

Bud is an officer of the Frankford Radio Club and Pennsylvania QSO Party Association, and a member of the First Class CW Operators' Club, CW Operators' Club, Activity Group CW - DL, CWJF Group, A-1 Operator Club and ARRL.
Professionally, Bud is retired from a career at Lockheed Martin, where his responsibilities included leading large organizations developing complex hardware and software systems for the US Government.
"I am honored to be trusted with leadership responsibilities for the CQ WW WPX SSB and CW contests," said Trench, "and I look forward to serving all stakeholders to ensure the continued robustness of these premiere operating events."
Interim WPX Contest Director Randy Thompson, K5ZD, said, "I, and the contest community, appreciate Bud stepping forward to take on the responsibility of managing the CQ WPX Contest. Bud is an extremely prolific contester who is active on all modes. He will bring a fresh perspective to the contest."
Bud is jumping in with both feet, starting immediately to work with Randy on processing the results of last month's WPX SSB weekend, and taking the reins for next month's CW weekend.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

COVID-19 Prompts Dawn of Virtual License Exams

On March 26, the W5YI-VEC coordinated the first-ever fully remote exam for an FCC amateur license, with the candidate, examiners and proctor all online from different locations. According to Newsline, this pilot session may open the door for additional virtual exam sessions in the future. 
The ARRL VEC is leaving it up to individual volunteer examiner teams to decide whether to hold exam sessions, based on local restrictions and the expected number of candidates. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, told the ARRL Letter that she expects the numbers for new licensees to drop in March and April due to the reduced number of exam sessions.

Closures, Cancellations and Postponements

(CISA image)
In addition to the cancellation of the Dayton Hamvention, restrictions on public gatherings as a result of COVID-19 have prompted many other events and activities to be postponed or cancelled. The North East Weak Signal Group has cancelled its annual conference; the Southeastern VHF Society has postponed its conference indefinitely; the SEA-PAC hamfest and Pacific Northwest DX Convention have both been cancelled, as has the AMSAT Academy, which had been planned to run in conjunction with Dayton.
The 2020 ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC) will be held online as a virtual conference on its originally-scheduled dates of September 11-13 (details to follow). Organizers plan to hold the 2021 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was to be the site of the 2020 event.

At this writing, the Friedrichshafen hamfest in Germany was still on track for late June; and the Tokyo Ham Fair was sticking to its temporary dates of October 31-November 1. The Japanese show had been previously rescheduled due to the Tokyo Olympic Games, which have themselves now been delayed until 2021.

Several amateur radio-related businesses and organizations have closed their offices as of late March, including CQ, the ARRL and AMSAT, in accordance with state restrictions on "non-essential" businesses. Ham retailers have various restrictions in place, depending on location. Some are allowing limited number of people into their stores, while others are doing mail-order and curbside pickup only. Check with your favorite dealer for specifics.

Many DXpeditions have also been postponed or cancelled. See News Bytes and the DX column in May CQ for details.

Field Day: ARRL Declines to Set Nationwide Standard

Field Day is still on as of this writing, and the ARRL is leaving decisions on operations up to individuals and clubs, based on public health advice and restrictions that may still be in place by late June. The League is recommending that clubs be flexible, and is encouraging operation from home stations on emergency power or backyard portable operations with temporary antennas. 
In Europe and Africa, Region 1 of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is not holding its annual region-wide Field Day event in June, and is discouraging multi-operator contests and other group activities. However, it is leaving it up to its member societies to decide whether to hold national Field Day events.