Author Archive

Is It Purple Inside of Heil Sound?

Well, I really don’t know because I’ve never had the privilege of going inside of Heil Sound in Fairview Heights, IL. But I’m going to … and so can you!

In the past couple of weeks, Bob and I have been corresponding about some configurations for his PRAS system to manage the audio from my friend’s ham station. During this time, and in the commiseration over the Covid-19 shutdown, we acknowledged that the cancellation of Hamvention is a real kink in the usual rhythm of events in the ham radio world. But, Bob told me, he’s going to step out and do something very new: holding Heil Ham Day! It will be live at on May 9, 2020 at 1:00 PM CDT. There’s a special website for it at

Bob Heil, Heil Sound
Bob Heil, Heil Sound
(If you didn’t catch the reference in the title, you can ask Bob why he has an affinity for the color, purple!)

Donna, wizard of the workbench at Heil Sound, is scheduled to discuss the inner workings of the factory in Fairview Heights. She fielded some arcane questions I had about using the powered speaker that my friend bought with his PRAS filter box at a hamfest. Got the questions answered! Jerry, one of the great customer service folks that I’ve had the pleasure of talking to at Heil, has been out on paternity leave. He was kind enough to respond to my email to explain why he was tardy in doing so: he was not at the factory! You don’t get that kind of service everywhere, that’s for sure. I shared with Jerry my preference for the two-finger diaper change method, getting each little ankle into a slot among the middle three fingers of one hand to control their bottom ends for “product replacement,” so to speak. Heil Sound seems like a great place to work, especially if you’re a ham operator and love electronics.

Even down to how to EASILY put coax connectors on…

Bob Heil K9EID on Heil Ham Day program contents

Bob Heil has been a great advocate and educator for amateur radio for many decades now. He’s planning stuff beyond the factory workings, too. Bob said in an e-mail yesterday, “I continue on with making up the demos I plan for Saturday…. Even down to how to EASILY put coax connectors on… it is strange way but has worked for 60+ years for me. It will include a great live demo about phasing and antenna arrays. A bit on grounding, etc. Different things that I usually am called up on to do….Oh, I will touch on a bit of audio but mainly how to make your station work better!” If you’ve ever seen a live presentation by Bob, you know it’s going to be well worth your time.

Here’s one ham who plans to watch this Heil Ham Day presentation on May 9, 2020 at 1:00 PM CDT. It’s not Hamvention but it’s easily equal to one Forum and vendor booth there.

Yep, Winterfest Got Their Windfall!

The hamfest held each year in the St. Louis suburb of Collinsville, IL is called Winterfest. I blogged earlier about the hamfest getting a windfall this year in adding to their growing set of Forums and other programs on contesting and so forth by welcoming the Wes Schum Symposium. Here’s how the Winterfest 2020 Chair described this past January’s events:

The St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club Winterfest has added some great events from previous years. We have added floor space to include Education Alley, doubled our forums and increased our operating hours to 4pm. In addition to these changes, Winterfest has been selected as the ARRL Midwest Conference for 2020. The weekend starts on Friday January 24th with the W9DYV Radio Symposium during the day and a DX/ARRL banquet that evening. Saturday January 25th Winterfest kicks off at 8 a.m. with the opening of the sales floor, VE testing, all day topical Forums, and Contest College starting at 1 p.m. with 10 plus hours of contesting forums and discussion hosted by top area contesters. We invite all hams to come to Winterfest for a weekend of Amateur Radio fun.

Rebecca Carroll, Winterfest 2020 Committee Chair

Kyle Krieg AA0Z, President of SLSRC, and Rebecca KC9CIJ sent me the numbers from the hamfest. They were up 20 percent from the previous year! Wow! How many local or regional hamfests can report that “windfall” in attendance? I don’t have the numbers for that but I don’t think there’d me too many but it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a national set of numbers on hamfest attendance. Hmm. ARRL, if you’re listening, I hope you find those 30,000 hamfest attendance numbers…too soon, Lol?

Nick Tusa K5FF, who chairs the Wes Schum Symposium each year, sent me a list of pre-registered attendees for that specific part of Winterfest 2020. He said that there were a considerable number of walk-up registrants so his list is an under-estimate of this year’s actual attendance. I’ve prepared a map illustrating the “draw” to the Symposium this year in Collinsville (marked with a + sign). If we ignore the extreme distant pre-registrants, it appears to represent the market potential map I created in my previous blog post about where Winterfest could draw from in the coming years. It’s unfortunate that Winterfest per se does not record the call signs of those paid attendees so we could see where their market draw looks like. Perhaps next year!

Map of only Symposium Pre-Registrants

The 8th W9DYV’s Amateur Radio Symposium wrap-up with video of the presentations can be found at the Central Electronics website. They are well worth watching! They include (with embedded links to the video):

Windfall for Winterfest 2020? Yep. A 20 percent bump certainly suggests that. Our public relations contributing to that? Yes, but even though there were a lot of eyes seeing both the syndication and the front page articles, it’s a stretch to make such claims and I do not, at all. But our discussions on what Rebecca and her team had planned as well as what Nick was doing by moving the Symposium to Collinsville, IL certainly did not hurt! The fundamentals are the hard work, ingenuity, and willingness to plan for a hamfest that hams would enjoy should they decide to attend. That’s always the case. But it can help if you wave your arms—or get others to wave theirs on your behalf—and let folks know about what you’re planning. Keep an eye out for the St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club’s website for next year. I hear they’re already at work lining up a terrific banquet speaker!

Attracting Youth to Ham Radio: Get Out of Their Way!

Amateur radio has a demographic problem. In the U.S., there is a clear belief that members of the hobby are old. And getting older. What that means in actual age distribution just isn’t known. Unfortunately, our “visions of gray” are based not upon accurate scientific measurement but on the assembled impressions we get through our personal “windshields” as we go about our daily travels. It’s standard convention to hear us hams urge everyone in hearing or reading range: we need to get more young people into amateur radio!

But whose amateur radio? The extant one driven by us largely gray-haired middle-aged to geezer-dom adult (men)? Yep, that’s the one generally being referred to in this wisdom. Our collective strategy amounts to getting them to come to “us.” How’s that working out for us? Given that our knickers are a bit tangled up over the issue, I’d say not so good.

Lee Corso, the curmudgeonly ESPN television sports announcer, is famous for his Not So Fast! comment when he questions another view or approach to the featured college football game being broadcast. Our attempts to bring new, young hams to our clubs is, in principle, admirable and understandable. But how is that working? Imagine a hobby dominated by young people. Say, competitive eSports (video games). We geezer-dom adults are approached to come to a teen-driven club, learn about it, and then join to continue to attend each month. How many readers would find that appealing? I’d bet not that many.

Not so fast, says Lee Corso!

My recent interview in Episode 319 of the ICQ Podcast with Graham Brody KD9NTQ illustrates the clear market failure that this singular “come to us” approach has yielded. Graham’s interview suggests that while this is a good outreach program for many young prospective hams, it’s not enough to engage them broadly. And, it simply does not reach the market where the most likely candidates are socially engaged. Instead, Graham says help them get started…and get out of their way!

Graham KD9NTQ started the Illinois Young Ham Club to engage young people to converse about ham radio and grow into the hobby. We should listen to him and learn what one approach is to do what we collectively tell one another must happen. Talk is cheap. The walk, well, is just more effort. I’ll let you listen to my interview with him for the nuances of the details. But here are some bullet points that are take-away strategies.

  • Do encourage young people to get involved with adult-driven ham clubs. But then encourage, sponsor and assist them to create their own youth-driven groups. Get out of their way but be available to help when called upon!
  • Rich environments for exposing young people, both male and female, to amateur radio lie in Maker Spaces and Gamer Groups. Seek out, especially, maker spaces which tend to be advertised in local communities. Clubs should offer to give a demo—not longer than 30 minutes—without a lecture but with an actual demonstration of amateur radio operations.
  • ARRL and RSGB should “tag” youth-driven or youth-oriented clubs in their Find-A-Club databases. Graham found the North Shore ARC in the Find A Club database. The Illinois Young People Ham Club, for instance, should be tagged as a youth club as should any others. ALL ARRL-affiliated clubs should report annually the number of members who are less than 25 years of ago so the League can track them. This should be a bench-mark metric to gauge progress in recruiting youth into amateur radio and the League itself. (To my knowledge, the ARRL is doing nothing released publicly to track youth members or contacts.)
  • ARRL should offer a “build a club” set of actions to help young inquirers to the League start their own club. They will want to engage with others of a similar age range, Graham says, and the League should explicitly foster that activity, perhaps matching them with an existing adult-driven club for assistance. Be there if asked but get out of their way when they are enjoying the hobby! Walking the walk here as the League has already been talking the talk.
  • Should the ARRL and RSGB buy adverts (or give ad swaps) in gaming magazines, promoting ham radio contesting as a greater challenge? Yes! Track the “how did you find out about us” using conventional “use this code” tags in the adverts. If one thinks they’ll just run across QST at their local Barnes & Nobles, they are very sadly mistaken. Graham bumped into ham radio on Youtube!
  • Help them get launched. Get out of their way. They will grow into mid-adulthood and join our extant adult-driven clubs. Plant the seed. And get out of their way!

It is unfortunate that many organizations are heavily imbued with a “not invented here” mindset. That is challenging for outsiders to the inner circle of power to break through. See the thread and comment by W9WHE on regarding the ARRL, for instance. There are many other examples of this opinion regarding the League. I suppose similar comments could be made about the RSGB, of which I am also a member. But whether “invented” by the central staff or Board of either organization, this teenager has given us a general road map to reaching young people, both boys and girls, similar to him: interested in technology but had to run across something called “amateur radio” on YouTube rather than the explicit efforts of the League. Quit talking without walking.

Graham’s a leader at age 15 already, just won his Extra license, and clearly has an understanding of many of these issues. We have to resist the conjuring up of all the reasons of why they won’t work from a geezer-dom world view. Well, a guy like me can dream, right?

Public Libraries: New Served Agencies?

A long-used term by the American Radio Relay League, the National Association for Amateur Radio, is “served agency.” Almost without exception, it refers to a government agency or non-governmental organization that provides vital response support in times of disaster or, at least, in times of public service. In fact, the ARRL has official memos of understanding with many key agencies to which they promise their members or affiliates will “serve” as this screenshot from the League’s website details.

There is also an “educational outreach” page on the ARRL website. It lists programs, brochures, videos, suggestions on how to speak to youth groups, and small grants for educational outreach. But nowhere does it get the urgency, importance, or strategic planning that the “served agency” page does.

Recently, the ARRL Board approved a Life Long Learning Program, focusing on “offer[ing] a variety of learning opportunities for new, current and prospective amateur radio operators.” It mentions “youth and school resources” with ready-made presentation slides, videos, and associated materials, including a budding array of online courses. But only through school resources are libraries mentioned. Yet, the Gallup survey organization identified one leisure activity as “the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.” That activity is visiting a public library.

The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities.…it’s the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.”

Gallup Survey Organization

Schools and their teachers are already the foci of the League’s attention for outreach. And, from teachers whom I know who have been among the dozen or so each summer who attended the Teacher Institute, it’s a good thing. It uses the well-oiled “train-the-trainer” model of subject matter material propagation. I don’t know if there has ever been an evaluation of the program, following up and documenting how many new hams got licensed or even how many students got exposed to amateur radio after the teacher-trainer returned home. If so, I’ve just missed it. But until that happens, we just do not have common measurable outcomes on how effective the Teacher Institute is for getting students into the amateur radio hobby.

Gallup survey data recently revealed that U.S. adults attend the library on average about 10 months out of the year. This is more than they attend movies. And far more than parks or casinos. Women visit libraries twice as much as men. Hmm. That’s a population segment that amateur radio largely misses out on. And, young adults aged 18-29 attend public libraries more than any other age group. Isn’t the League trying to gain penetration into the youth market segment? The 30-49 age group is just behind the younger age group in library visits but this tapers off after age 50 onward until the typical retirement group of 65 years and beyond.

Women visit libraries twice as much as men. Hmm. That’s a population segment that amateur radio misses out on. And, young adults aged 18-29 attend libraries more than any other age group. Isn’t the League trying to gain penetration into the female and youth market segments?

Frank K4FMH

They are there, at the public library, but will we hams come? I’m reminded of the famous quote by the notorius bank robber, Willie Sutton. “I rob banks because that’s where the money is,” Willie Sutton supposedly said to news reporter Robert M. Yoder. Women and young people are at the library more than any other single public place.

Should the priority of educational outreach as one of the National Association for Amateur Radio’s goals include key educational outreach organizations as “served agencies”?

Here is a small look at the potential to reach young people in public libraries, taken from the latest Public Library Survey data available (2017) and only for the four states in the Delta Division (AR, LA, MS, TN). Over a year’s time, the 365 public library systems (actual outlets like branch libraries and bookmobiles total far greater but aggregate to the system) report these levels of traffic inside their brick-and-mortar locations, shown in the table below. The 9 million registered borrowers contribute to over 55 million visits during the year which also include unregistered borrowers. Over 5 million attend formal programs at these libraries, comprising over 3.3 million at children’s programs and a half million at young adult programs. This totals about 4 million persons in the youth market in just these four states alone. In addition, a total of 10.7 million wireless Internet sessions were utilized by patrons. This potential market traffic comes into the doors of brick-and-mortar public libraries. They reflect a clear and present target audience for the ARRL’s stated educational outreach audience. And, far easier to reach than via the school setting.

A new program that I described in a recent blog post describes one attempt by the Delta Division to leverage a current ARRL deep-discount sales program to begin raising public libraries to “served agency” status. This is the Plant the Seed! Initiative. It will be followed by the Sow the Future program, described below. The League has only recently begun using demographic data analytics to identify, understand, and reach out to desired market segments. While it’s just being rolled out to the Delta Division of four Sections in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, it is scalable to the all Divisions. Here’s how it works.

The ARRL has a set of 10 key books, including the two popular ones (Handbook & Antenna Handbook), for sale at a flat fee of $200 which includes shipping. They are only for library donations. Hence, the product is called the ARRL Library Book Set. For many clubs, the per-member cost of this set is less than $5.00. It’s less than a slice of pizza at a ham club lunch. The issue is that hams vary widely in their familiarity with their local library, although some might even be the Library Director! So what is the “social ecology” of where amateur radio clubs are located versus local libraries?

Public Libraries and Nearest Amateur Radio Club, Delta Division

I extracted the ARRL affiliated clubs in the Delta Division from the ARRL Find a Club webpage. There were geocoded to varying levels of accuracy (some at the city level). The Public Library Survey that is produced annually was used as the database for library systems (branches and bookmobiles are note used here but could be). The 2016 data are the most recent available. A script to conduct a spatial search for the nearest club to each library, within each Section so all clubs and libraries are within the section boundaries, was created and executed using GIS software. The results placed over a basemap is shown above.

A couple of things emerge from this spatial representation. Some clubs are the closest one to many public libraries. In one case (Bossier City, LA), there is no library for which that club is the nearest. This is due to a nearby one in Shreveport that just happens to nose it out, so to speak, in terms of the geocoded club locations and the libraries. So, the clubs and communicate between themselves, perhaps in concert with the Section Manager, to use this map and a master list of public libraries and clubs in the Section, to determine which libraries should receive the book set donations from each club. Similarly, in another city (Starkville MS), one club is nearest to a public library several counties to the west while the other is closest to several nearby. Again, club officer communication along with the Section Manager, uses these results as they were meant to be: just a guide to the local area terrain for libraries and amateur radio clubs.

Delta Division Director David Norris K5UZ has communicated to each Section Manager with a “challenge” to see which Section can serve the most libraries. Right now, Mississippi and Malcolm W5XX is in the lead, mainly because my club, the Central Mississippi ARA, has taken delivery of two ARRL Book Sets for donation to libraries in Rankin County (Central MS Library System) and Madison County. We’ve communicated with the President of the Jackson ARC who will take the lead on the Hinds County (Jackson) Public Library System. Checking the online catalog of ARRL book holdings is an important act. The Central MS Library System had several titles but all were more than a decade old. Madison County, which has the highest median income in the State, had almost none. Surprising but that’s why we should always check a library’s online catalog of current holdings beforehand.

Getting the library’s Director involved in the donation is also vital. Don’t just “drop off” the donation at the check-out desk. Easy for the club official but terrible for the library staff. Library’s just don’t work that way regarding collection development. This “drop off” may well just get the blister wrapped donation of 10 books placed in the next sidewalk sale of the library. Take the time to get the Library Director involved. Get that person in the public relations photo and narrative as welcoming the donation so their acceptance is in the public view. Execute due diligence in this strategic investment for amateur radio. More work but far greater pay-off.

David K5UZ and I also provided an online Dropbox folder system for the “paperwork” to facilitate the implementation of this Plant the Seed! Initiative. Sub-folders include the logo, the map of the spatial ecology of clubs and public libraries (see above), a narrative document which both announces the Initiative, gives a description of the Dropbox file system and the link to it, and recommendations for Section Managers to implement the program within the Section. Finally, and this is a key to facilitating the Section Manager’s job of both encouraging and managing the roll-out of the Initiative in his Section, we created four spreadsheets. Two are the master list of ARRL affiliated clubs and public libraries in each Section. A third is a list of clubs with nearest public libraries. This gives the Section Manager an overview of the Section and helps in advising clubs on libraries to serve (see discussion above). Finally, separate spreadsheets for each club in the Section were created. This allows the SM to just email a single spreadsheet to a given club using the email contact within that individual.

These procedures reduce but do not eliminate confusion over the suggestions made to clubs. Imagine, however, just advocating that clubs donate to their libraries. Here’s the link to purchase at Go to it, clubs. Check off that box. Done! Wow. That would be worse than stepping on an unseen covey of quail! More importantly, it would be destined for failure in terms of making a systemic impact on getting amateur radio material into public libraries.

It would also not create an ongoing relationship between the club and the library itself. The follow-up effort is called the Sow the Future portion of this Initiative. Offering programs on amateur radio at the local library leverages the initial book donation and benefits the library staff who are charged with creating programs for the public. This activity by ARRL affiliated clubs “serves” the public library in a very beneficial way. But it doesn’t happen without systematic planning. Planning the spatial ecology of linking national organizations like the ARRL and one or more of their Divisions to their Sections and their Sections to affiliated clubs is critical. It’s the return on the investment of the $200 set of books to get a continuing “served agency” relationship of giving programs on the amateur radio hobby at that recipient library.

Remember, Section Managers report to the Field Services Coordinator in most day-to-day matters. Getting the organizational links among the League, Division Directors (who comprise the governing Board for the League itself), Section Mangers, loosely affiliated Clubs, and individual ham operators is far from being a well-oiled or even well thought out machine. Hams who are not League members may be members of an ARRL-affiliated club. Or no club at all. So the final link in this chain is only a part of the ham radio operator market. But it’s the market that the League deals with most of the time. The need to use demographic data analytics like this becomes crucial in a loosely-coupled organizational ecology that is the case with amateur radio in the United States. The approach outlined here is just one example of using them to plan a new set of links in this ecology.

We hope that this Initiative will be met positively by clubs and their members. It’s a nominal financial commitment by clubs on a per-member basis. Doing the final leg-work on establishing an ongoing relationship with one or more local libraries is as important as the $200 donation of books. David Norris K5UZ is investigating whether it’s feasible to get the digital version of the new On the Air magazine available to recipient public libraries to leverage the wireless Internet access by registered borrowers. We will see how that materializes.

Public libraries are the dominant local community organization through which to consistently reach both women and youth, from the recent Gallup report’s findings. Libraries should be viewed as “served agencies” for educational outreach much as the League advocates ARES teams serving critical organizations in times of emergency. Or a bike race, which is more often the case. Because libraries are where the “money” is.

Plant the Seed! Sow the Future

There is much rhetoric in amateur radio about getting more people into the hobby. Especially young people. The ARRL has a Teachers Institute which reflects the conventional “train-the-trainer” model of getting K-12 school teachers (mostly) into ham radio in order to expose their students to the fun and learning. The challenge of this is that it’s quite small, even when effective.

Moreover, clubs face increasing challenges simply getting into schools, particularly public schools, to offer programs to students. It doesn’t take much imagination for a school administrator to evaluate the typical proposition. Hmm, a group of usually old guys want to spend time with students during or after school to talk about something called “ham radio.” I can say no and that’s that. I have no consequences in my decision. I can say yes but I need to do background checks to rule out folks on some nefarious list, find a teacher who will stay with them to watch over the process, deal with space requests and insurance liability (“Can we put up an antenna permanently?”) and so forth. If something bad happens, I have to deal with that and I could get demoted or worse, fired. Which option would you most likely take if you were the administrator and not a licensed amateur radio operator yourself? I have only spoken with a few Principals and Superintendents but I was told by these career professionals that this is likely to occur in many instances. It varies, of course, but this does illustrate the vagaries of getting programs from outside into schools these days.

Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.

Gallup Poll Report, 2019

The ARRL and other EmComm groups often use the term, “served agency,” to indicate an agency or organization needing specific attention by amateur radio groups. We have yet to implement a similar perspective or approach for educational outreach, from everything I’ve read. Schools can be one. But so can public libraries. In fact, Gallup just reported from one of their surveys that “Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.” Visits to libraries were 10.5 per year in 2019 which exceeds eight other leisure time activities. Library visits were about double annual visits to movies (5.3 per year).

The number of public libraries in 2016 (latest year data is available, covering 98% of the total public libraries in the U.S.) is more than 17,000 central libraries, branches, and bookmobiles in more than 9,000 public library systems. According to my analysis of the 2016 data, this includes a median of 122 children’s program per year, which means at least one half of the 9,000 or so public library systems had at least that many programs directed toward children. (This includes 205 that reported having zero programs directed towards children.) There is potential here!

Public libraries may well be a more efficient “served agency” within which to reach children, young adults and older persons in communities as compared to schools. I do not make this argument to lessen the attempts to get amateur radio curriculum and experiences into schools but simply want to emphasize the untapped potential that the Public Library System has for reaching the public to promote amateur radio.

Which Section can get the most libraries served by constituent ARRL Affiliated Clubs donating the League’s 10-book Library Set to libraries near them?

David Norris K5UZ ARRL Delta Division Director

Starting with the ARRL Louisiana Section Convention in Minden LA last December and continuing to last weekend’s Mississippi Section Convention in Jackson, Delta Division Director David Norris K5UZ and I created a new program just announced in Jackson. It’s the Plant the Seed! Initiative. It’s being rolled-out in the four Sections comprising the Delta Division as a Director’s Challenge to the Section Managers. Which Section can get the most libraries served by constituent ARRL Affiliated Clubs donating the League’s 10-book Library Set to libraries near them? The League offers these book sets, including the two big ones (Handbook, Antenna Handbook), for $200 including shipping. The contents and offer description from the ARRL website is as follows:

Special money saving offer! This book set includes popular ARRL publications, intended for clubs or individuals that wish to make a gift to a local library or school. Only complete sets of these publications are available at the special price of $200 per set. Price includes ground shipping throughout the 48 contiguous states, only. Call for other shipping options. Editions sent will be those available at the time the order is received. Publications and prices are subject to change without notice. This special offer applies only to orders purchased directly from ARRL. Orders must be pre-paid.

ARRL No. Title Value (Retail Price)
 4050    ARRL Handbook $49.95
 6948    ARRL Antenna Book $49.95
 5965    ARRL Operating Manual $29.95
 #9857   ARRL Satellite Handbook $24.95
 0977    Ham Radio License Manual $29.95
 8119    ARRL General Class License Manual $29.95
 5170    ARRL Extra Class License Manual $29.95
 0823    Understanding Basic Electronics $32.95
 0915    RFI Book $29.95
 8737    ARRL Instructor's Manual $19.95
 9728    Getting Started with Ham Radio $19.95
 1173    FCC Rules and Regulations $5.95
 7717    ARRL Map of the World (Azimuthal) $15.00

As David said in his announcement to Section Managers on Friday, “This Initiative has indeed already begun. The Mississippi Section’s affiliated club, the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association, has already obtained two (2) commitments: one from the Board who challenged the membership to match which they quickly did. Other clubs can quickly follow suit. As described below, the affiliated club membership numbers show that the donation per-member to reach the $200 goal is minimal, ranging from $1.46 to $40.00 in the Division with an average of $7.36 (median is $5.00). So, for the average price per-member of less than ten dollars, ARRL-affiliated clubs can plant the seed of amateur radio and sow the future of the hobby.” CMSARA’s two sets of book have already been delivered and the club has identified two area libraries that will receive them shortly.

The median contribution throughout the Delta Division of just $5 per club member can potentially reach many people in the community for years to come. I constructed a map using GIS software and databases to identify which club is nearest each public library. These are shown by (tan) lines below. Spreadsheets were then exported for each of the four Sections and, within each Section, each club. These files are stored online with a link included in David’s email to each SM in the Delta Division. The Section Manager can email the club contact using information in each club’s spreadsheet with their customized listing of potential “served libraries” nearest them. This makes it very easy for Section Managers and local clubs to consider the Initiative and take action without much spin-up on their end.

Map of Delta Division Clubs (Red) and nearest public libraries (Green) linked by lines (Tan)

Vice Director Ed Hudgens WB4RHQ added, “This is a very exciting Initiative that we are launching. It puts action in the hands of local ham groups who can easily make an impact in their communities with public libraries.” I’d have to agree with Ed’s sentiments. It’s not a vague idea to change the world waiting for “big things” to happen. The Plant the Seed! Initiative is something that for less than a pizza or hamburger lunch per member, a local club can get a broad set of books from the ARRL onto the shelves of a local public library. Getting a photo of the donation into the local newspaper wouldn’t be a bad thing for the club, either. I hope you’ll agree. You can spread the word by copying the logo I created for the Delta Division Initiative below and using it to promote the program in your club, section or Division. The Delta Division has already started and Malcolm’s (W5XX) Section is in the lead. You’re playing catch-up…but the competition is what this kind of “radiosport” is all about. And to Sow the Future of the amateur radio hobby.


bumfuzzle[ buhm-fuhz-uh l ]
verb (used with object), bum·fuz·zled, bum·fuz·zling. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S.
– to confuse or fluster.

Origin of Bumfuzzle

1900–05; bum- (expressive prefix, perhaps to be identified with the initial syllable of bamboozle) + fuzzle to confuse (perhaps expressive alteration of fuddle)

This is how I would characterize my reaction to this item appearing on the ARRL website on January 19, 2020. Just confused and flustered:

My own belief was that CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX was doing a necessary and deliberate job in changing the operational focus of the League’s office and services. The main goal as he stated publicly was to increase the value of League membership. He was a very successful CEO of the much, much larger and more complex association, IEEE.

As a Presenter on the ICQ Podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to regularly interview Howard after each Board meeting of the ARRL so as to get our listeners updated on Board actions that had occurred and were being rolled out. I put him on the spot each time, asking what he had done to increase the value of membership. He always responded with an articulate set of accomplishments and plans. As a Life Member of the League, I thought he was doing a great job, especially walking into an opening where his predecessor was ousted after only a couple of years, amidst much rancor and consternation by members and non-members alike. So I’m bumfuzzled.

League officials, including the just re-elected President, have stated that it’s a personnel matter so there is no public comment. Others engage in conjecture, based upon the nefarious “I heard…” source of information that always occurs in the absence of factual source-based statements. I’ve heard a lot, too. And from a wide range of sources. But not much that is public.

The recent emergence of a “backlash group,” coming on the heels of the previous CEO hiring, censure of a Board member, and the attempted change of officers getting a vote on matters in addition to the long-standing votes of Board members, has pressed for greater openness in League business. This group stated that transparency in League actions is paramount. The myARRLvoice group states the following on it’s web-page:

This group had a couple of supporters get elected to the Board in a recent election. We will see how these two Directors, especially, act to publicly announce how they voted regarding election of the CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX. It’s on the “I heard…” rumor mill that the vote was 9-6 to not re-elect Michel. How did each Board member vote? I asked my Director, David Norris K5UZ, how he voted. Note: I serve as one of his appointed Assistant Directors. He told me that he voted to retain Howard and thought he was doing a fine job. So that is one vote now made public.

How did your Division Director vote? If you don’t know, ask them! And why? Did they take your views into account in the run-up to this Board meeting? They are your voice on the ARRL Board, if you’re a member of the League.

George W5JDX Sets Rig on Fire!

Channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis, George Thomas W5JDX set his dual-band rig on fire at the Central Mississippi Amateur Radio Association on Tuesday evening. All for demonstrating DIY Projects with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Not everyone is aware that W5JDX is an accomplished musician. George brought the house down, to say the least, with this Arduino Grand Finale. But let me explain.

The only fire involved was W5JDX using a lighter to dramatically raise the temperature of a heat sensor attached to an Arduino. But, the voice chip in an Arduino “hat” very audibly announced: “Your rig is on fire!“. All done in the fine instructional style that led the Dayton Amateur Radio Association to give him a Special Achievement Award in 2013 for his tutorials on AmateurLogic.TV and the Smoke & Solder segment on Ham Nation.

The presentation was exceptionally well received. We were fortunate to snag George for a talk since he’s very, very busy. Not only with AmateurLogic.TV, the very first video podcast in the world of any genre, but the highly popular Smoke & Solder segment on Ham Nation, but as an RF Engineer for a chain of radio stations in Central Mississippi. This talk was streamed via Facebook Live at the club’s page there. For followers of AmateurLogic.TV, one may recall a mishap that a former podcast member, Jim Burrell (N5SPE), had with a propane torch. Jim has taken much grief over that episode for years. Hmm. I guess that Jim now has good company, with George’s rig “on fire!”

Here’s my produced version of George’s talk, shown below. The brightness of the projection screen’s reflection made my HD camera go darker than I’d have liked. I’ll remember that and move it to the side to avoid that next time. The Facebook Live stream was just to my right and didn’t suffer this situation.

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor