Author Archives: Matt Holden (KØBBC)

The ARRL International Grid Chase begins January 1st

A new and exciting operating event will kick off on January 1, 2018, at 0000 UTC (New Year’s Eve in US time zones), when the ARRL International Grid Chase gets under way. The year-long event hopes to build on the success of the highly successful 2016 National Parks on the Air (NPOTA). The objective is to work stations on any band (except 60 meters) in as many different Maidenhead grid squares as possible, and then upload your log data to ARRL’s Logbook of The World (LoTW). Registration is free, and it costs nothing to use LoTW. Many hams are familiar with grid squares from the VHF/UHF and satellite realms, and everyone lives in one. ARRL’s VUCC is based on grid squares, and some contests on HF, as well as on VHF and UHF, also use them as a scoring factor.

John Morris, G4ANB, came up with the locator system, which the VHF Working Group adopted in 1980 at a meeting in Maidenhead, England — thus the term “Maidenhead grid square.” The system divvies up the entire globe into 324 fields, each containing 100 grid squares 1° latitude by 2° longitude in size. With 32,400 potential grid squares, it’s not likely that anyone will run out of challenges, even though some grid squares are surrounded entirely by water, are in areas that are uninhabited, or are difficult to access.

If you don’t know your grid square, David Levine, K2DSL, has an online calculator. Just enter a postal address, ZIP code or a call sign, and his site will tell you the grid square for that location. For example, enter “W1AW” and the site will return “FN31pr.” For the purposes of the ARRL International Grid Chase, though, just the two initial letters and the two numbers that follow (e.g., FN31) are all you need to know.

Once you get active in the chase and start uploading your log data, each new grid square contact confirmed through LoTW will count toward your monthly total. Getting started is simple: Turn on the radio and call CQ or “CQ Grid Chase,” or listen for others doing the same. Make the contact, exchange grid squares, log it, and move on to another. At the end of each month, your totals on the Grid Chase Leader Board will reset to zero, although the system retains all monthly data to determine top finishers in various categories at the end of the year.

Any contact you make in 2018 can count for your Chase score; it doesn’t have to involve an exchange of grid squares. As long as the other operators participate in LoTW, you’ll get credit automatically when they upload their logs. This means that contest contacts will also count, as will contacts with special event stations, or other on-air activity that uses LoTW to confirm contacts.

Some radio amateurs live in sparsely populated grid squares, and if you’re one of those, you could find yourself handling a pileup! Expeditions to hard-to-reach or rare grid squares will undoubtedly evolve. You also can travel to one of those grid squares yourself. Some vehicle or hand-held GPS units can be set to display when you are in a particular grid square. Apps are available for smartphones or tablets, such as Ham Square for iOS devices or HamGPS for Android devices.

There are no restrictions on modes or bands, as long as they are legal. Satellite contacts are valid for the Chase. The event is open to all radio amateurs.

Awards

As all contacts are uploaded to LoTW, participants may use their contacts toward other ARRL awards, in addition to the overall monthly and annual Grid Chase recognitions. These other ARRL awards include the grid-based VHF-UHF Century Club (VUCC) and Fred Fish Memorial Award, as well as Worked All States (WAS), WAS Triple Play, DX Century Club (DXCC), and Worked All Continents (WAC).

Complete details of the ARRL International Grid Chase will appear in the December 2017 issue of QST. The digital edition is available on Friday, November 10.

St. Cloud Cabin Fever Reliever January 27th

The Best Hamfest In Central Minnesota

Saturday, January 27th, 2018
The National Guard Armory
1710 Veterans Drive
Saint Cloud, MN 56303

Breakout Sessions Throughout the Day

QSL Card Checking
All ARRL Awards – All Bands
DXCC VUCC WAC WAS WAZ
VE Testing Starting at 10:00 am
Admission Fee NOT Required for Testing

General Admission: $8.00

Doors Open at 9:00 am – No Exceptions!
Vendors ONLY Allowed Entry at 7:00 am
Tables/BYO Table Spots are LIMITED

Vendors MUST Preregister/Prepay to Guarantee a Spot
Click on ‘Vendors’ at hamfest.w0sv.org to Register
Talk-In: 147.015+ MHz, Tone 100 Hz
For Complete Information Please Visit:

HAMFEST.W0SV.ORG

Metro Skywarn got it’s start in Bloomington in the 1960’s

Did you know Minnesota Skywarn got it start, on 80 meters, in the 1960’s. It was Bloomington hams, working with the Weather Bureau at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, that got it started.  Enjoy Dave’s article…
The History of Metro Skywarn, Inc By Dave Johnson, NØKBD

Skywarn in the Twin Cities has been around for nearly 40 years in various forms. Emerging from HF as Minnesota Amateur Weather Network in the late 1960s, the W.I.N.D.S. program was focused on Bloomington Emergency Management. In 1984, Irv Norling, then Director of Emergency Communications in the City of Bloomington, in a memo to Robert Heland (Unit 495) welcomed the Multi-county Skywarn team into the Bloomington Communications Group. A Multi-county Skywarn Net lead by a net control using call sign WCØAAA was established.
Until 1992, Skywarn remained an informal organization involving the National Weather Service, the City of Bloomington represented by Charlie Kolar NØDCR, a police officer and the Bloomington Emergency Manager as well as Ramsey County Emergency Management and Homeland Security represented by Bill Hughes NØQHP. Since the mid 1980’s, a few dedicated volunteer meteorologists and Amateur Radio Operators worked year round. They trained and organized Amateur communications for 500 amateur radio operators in the seven county metro area. For awhile, some of meteorologists took a turn getting up before the sun, and writing their own severe weather outlook and read it to interested hams at 7am every morning during the severe weather season on the 146.85 repeater. Those involved included Dave Blair WBØYUC, Tom Nelson NØGQA, Dave Floyd KBØCIE, Mike Langfus NØJJL, Bob Adams KCØJJ, Rich Bann KAØBZK, Don Heppleman NØJOO and Donn Baker WA2VOI.Many of the core members moved on in their careers between 1991 and 1993. Don Heppleman led a series of meetings with a group of leaders from Bloomington Emergency Management, Ramsey County Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, Bloomington RACES, Dakota County ARES/RACES, Carver County Radio Club, Anoka County Radio Club and Emergency Services, and Ramsey County ARES/RACES.

What emerged in 1993 was Metro Skywarn, a regional organization serving the 11 county metro area, newly conceived as a consortion of amateur radio, emergency management organizations and the National Weather Service. The idea was that a consortium of organization sending representatives would ensure the future of Metro Skywarn as an organization he new organization was co-chaired by Walt Marty NØRCY and Dave Johnson NØKBD. By the end of 1994 Metro Skywarn was on the path to incorporation.

Others involved in the 1990s included John Kelley NØTGY, Lynn DeLong NØCVI, Doug Reed NØNAS, Leland Helgerson WBØMLL, Matt Stepaniak NØTNL, Dave Zellman WBØYDF, Audrey Zellman NØOKX, Gene Clemens KBØMIP, Paul Emiott KØLAV, Jim Richardson WMØX, Bill Hughes NØQHP, Todd Krause KBØSGH, and Fred Fey K9LQQ. Millennial members added Curt KCØFQZ, Tim Arimond NØBYH. John Wetter KØWDJ, John Blood, Sandra Johnson KCØTSB, Steve Levens ABØYQ, Joe Chesney KCØGYJ, Kevin Huyek KB9WOB, Nick Elms WXØSVR, Lara Rodriquez WXØGRL, Mike McIlheran KØMWM, Kris Pierson KØKMP, David Gawboy KCØTRZ and Jeff Goodnuff WØKF.

Then 2010s brought the next generation of leaders, Theresa Caspers KCØGWW, Todd Megrund KØTSW, Sue Megrund KØTSM, Chris White NØCJW, Paul Johnson NØCRC, Howard Lund KCØWNL, David Riviera KØDJR (Webmaster) and Ryan Kelzenberg NØYFE.

Thanks to all the past leadership of Metro Skywarn. Without you all, none of this could have happened. For those of you I missed, I’m truly sorry. Let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

Metro Skywarn today is a consortium of Amateur and Government Public Service organizations and other individuals. Metro Skywarn’s mission is to provide trained amateur radio operators capable of making accurate reports of severe weather to the NWS. Metro Skywarn has focused it’s mission to serve the core counties of the Metro area, five counties of Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Scott, Washington and Carver. In addition, Metro Skywarn has a collaborative agreement with Wright Co. Skywarn. Organizations which send representatives include (but are not limited to) Bloomington Communications Group, Ramsey County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Twin Cities Radio Club, Twin Cities FM Club, Metro Area Repeater Association, Wright County Skywarn, the National Weather Service, Maple Grove Radio Club, and Ramsey County RCES.

Metro Skywarn is a RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) organization of volunteer Amateur Radio operators trained in emergency communications and severe weather spotting. Authorized and regulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), RACES organizations provide essential communications and warning links for state and local governments and the Red Cross during emergencies.

Trained Skywarn observers provide the Weather Service with accurate, and timely reports. If the NWS infers severe weather from radar and confirms it with spotter information, it then notifies local authorities who then can activate Civil Defense sirens. The news media receives notification so they can make reports on local broadcast stations. The volunteer spotters each spend hundreds of dollars for their equipment and gas, and together contribute thousands of man hours of volunteer time each year as spotters and net control operators. Additional expenses and time are spent in training and travel. All are Amateur Radio operators licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.

The NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Todd Krause, and NWS Skywarn Coordinator, John Wetter, put together a training program for weather spotters. Metro Skywarn adds operations training. Nearly 600 spotters are trained every year. Spotters are trained to identify severe weather and to report observed weather to Metro Skywarn Net Operators. Metro Skywarn develops the net procedures, trains net personnel, and plans and coordinates with ARES/RACES and Emergency Management organizations and repeater owners to put together several teams of operators prepared to run Skywarn nets on local Amateur Radio repeaters.

Before the 1970s, tornado outbreaks were known to kill dozens and sometimes hundreds. Minnesota statistics were not quite as staggering but bad none-the-less. Since tornado education for the general public became a priority in the late 1960s, the rate of deaths and injures have dropped precipitously. Skywarn deserves some of the credit. Again, thanks to all the volunteers that make Metro Skywarn work!

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Special Event Station: Edmund Fitzgerald

The Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald Special Events stations will be on the air Friday afternoon from about 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM.  Saturday and Sunday the stations will be on the air from about 10:00 AM to about 5:30 PM each day. All times are Central Time. Published frequencies are 3.860, 7.260, 14.260, 21.360, 28.360 MHz (+/- QRM). Midwest/local stations should look for us on the 75m and 40m bands in the early morning and late afternoon. Plans are to also run a digital station on PSK31 as will as demonstrating FT-8. Watch the waterfall for WØJH.

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