Archive for the ‘arrl’ Category

24 December to 31 December: 1st Ever Winter Olivia Digital Mode QSO Party

Special Event Week: Dec 24-Dec 31, 2023

The 1st annual Olivia Digital Mode on HF Winter QSO Party, celebrating 20 years of Olivia.

The Olivia Digital DXers Club (we’re on ClubLog!) is holding the first annual Winter Olivia Digital Mode on HF QSO Party, starting at 00:00 UTC, 24 December 2023, and ending at 23:59 UTC, 31 December, 2023.

Minimum logging requirements:  Callsign worked, Band (or Frequency), Mode (I.e., Olivia 8/250, or other variations), Time QSO Started.  You can log more than that, but for the sake of the certificate, please send at least the minimum information per QSO, to NW7US (email is on QRZ profile).  Logs can be any common method, from an .ADI file, to a screen shot.

Full details are on our website:

Olivia, a Multi-Frequency Shift Keying (MFSK) radioteletype digital mode, is an amateur radioteletype protocol designed to work in difficult (low signal-to-noise ratio plus multipath) propagation conditions on shortwave radio (i.e., high-frequency, or HF) bands. The typical Olivia signal is decoded when the amplitude of the noise is over ten times that of the digital signal!

Here is an introduction to the Olivia digital mode:

73 de NW7US

1st Ever: August Olivia Digital Mode QSO Party Weekend – Aug 11-14 2023



Dates: August 11, 12, 13, 14 UTC
These are UTC dates,
starting at 00:00 UTC on first date, and,
ending at 23:59:59 UTC on last date

Olivia QSO Party Certificate

Our August Olivia QSO Party Weekend is published in QST!


Olivia QSO Party - in QST announcements

On Facebook, the event link is:

For full information about using Olivia, please visit our Groups dot io Olivia Group:

What is unique about THIS particular QSO party?

Olivia is the digital (HF) protocol developed at the end of 2003 by Pawel Jalocha. This is the 20th Year Anniversary QSO party by the Olivia Digital DXers Club (we’re on Clublog).

Using UTC (GMT), starting at 00:00 UTC, August 11, through 23:59:59 UTC, August 14, 2023 – Olivia on the HF bands. Chat is encouraged, not the number of contacts, but the quality…

We will issue PDF certificates, after you send your ADIF log to NW7US (see QRZ dot com for email address for NW7US).

Those of you interested in the Olivia Digital Mode on HF (Amateur Radio Chat mode), we have a live Discord server for live spotting, etc. Here is the Discord chat:

Our email reflector is:


Below are suggested frequencies on which can be found Olivia signals (note: Olivia is a weak-signal mode, NOT a low-power mode). While it is easy to spot a STRONG Olivia signal anywhere on the waterfall, by using these suggested calling frequencies at least once and a while, you will enable us to find your signal when the signal is too weak to hear and too faint to see on the waterfall.

Olivia can do well with weak signals. Yes, our suggested 8 tone with 250 Hz bandwidth results in slow transmissions. But it is one of the better settings when attempting to decode very weak signals. Once you make contact, you can move up or down a bit, away from the calling frequency, and then change to 16/500 to make the conversation go faster. But, on a calling frequency, it is advisable to configure operations in such a way as to increase the likelihood that you will find and decode that weak signal.

In the following list, CENTER is where you place the center of the software’s cursor, and click to select that center frequency on the waterfall. If you use the DIAL frequency from this list, then click 1500 Hz offset up the waterfall (1500 Hz to the RIGHT of the LEFT side of the waterfall, if your waterfall is oriented horizontally with the lowest frequency on the left). This results in the software and transceiver being correctly tuned for the CENTER frequency.

The listing shows CENTER, then DIAL, then the number of tones and the bandwidth.

 CENTER        DIAL         Tones/Bandwidth (Notes)

1.8390 MHz    1.8375 MHz   8/250 (ITU Region 1, etc.; Primary International)
1.8270 MHz    1.8255 MHz   8/250 (ITU Region 2; Secondary)
3.5830 MHz    3.5815 MHz   8/250
7.0400 MHz    7.0385 MHz   8/250 (ITU Region 2, etc., Primary International)
7.0730 MHz    7.0715 MHz   8/250 (Secondary)
10.1430 MHz   10.1415 MHz   8/250
10.1440 MHz   10.1425 MHz  16/1000 (Potential - be mindful of other stations)
14.0730 MHz   14.0715 MHz   8/250
14.1075 MHz   14.1060 MHz  32/1000
18.0990 MHz   18.0975 MHz   8/250
21.0730 MHz   21.0715 MHz   8/250
24.9230 MHz   24.9215 MHz   8/250
28.1230 MHz   28.1215 MHz   8/250


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ALSO: If your software is able to decode/encode the Reed-Solomon Identification signals (RSID), please turn on both received and transmit RSID. An example is shown in the following video, which demonstrates enabling RSID in a popular software suite:

Please share this everywhere possible, as part of our effort to rekindle the love for our conversational mode, Olivia.

73 de NW7US


LiOTA: Libraries On The Air

As readers of my blog have likely observed, I’ve been promoting a “served agency” partnership between the ARRL-affiliated clubs and local public libraries. I’m told by my Division Director, David K5UZ, that the Plant the Seed, Sow the Future Initiative was formally adopted by the ARRL Board of Directors in a recent meeting. I’ve had virtual meetings with ARRL HQ staff on advising them regarding technical details of adding maps, databases, and other material to the website pages pertaining to clubs. The entire website was recently revised (again) so this is taking some time. Need I say, LoTW?

Locally, I’ve been working with the Jackson ARC in their recent formal partnership with the Madison County (MS) Public Library System to enhance the emergent “maker spaces” in that library system. Over this year in my role as Delta Division Assistant Director, I’ve been doing club development work with the Vicksburg ARC who is refocusing their activities and initiatives, including some discussions with the Warren County Public Library System, whose slogan is “We’re more than just books!” VARC is interested in partnering with them on creating maker space activities. These meetings and conversations have universally been met with a very strong desire by the library administrators there to welcome amateur radio into their programming. How can this be effected in ways that allow amateur radio to reach the two key demographic audiences of women and youth that visit public libraries at twice the rate that they visit movie theaters?

I’ve created a new but common proposed activity to be just one of several such ways to operationalize this “served agency” relationship: holding periodic “on the air” events at public libraries. LiOTA, short for Libraries On The Air, is outlined in a concept memo I’ve submitted to my Division Director, David K5UZ. I’ve posted it here for transparency. We will see if the ARRL Board of Directors takes advantage of the concept. If not, there may be other groups who wish to implement it.

Below is the spatial distribution of the 9,215 libraries in the current (2021) public library database. Not surprisingly, they follow population settlements which generally reflect the spatial distribution of amateur radio licensee locations. It’s also not a shock to know that they are not dissimilar to the pattern of ARRL-affiliated clubs. In other work for Plant the Seed, I’ve created spreadsheets by club for each Division showing for which public libraries the club is the nearest one to that library. These market areas can be used to easily identify potential nearby LiOTA sites. And, yes, POTA participants, I’ve already created an exhaustive list of public library entity numbers in spreadsheet and map format, ready for the League to use on their website for LiOTA, should they adopt the program.

Because of the targeted-marketing concept driving this prospective program, the logo I created includes a female radio operator at a library. Using control operators, getting women and young people on the air at libraries is the key metric of outreach in this program. Passive options, such as planned programs, displays or kiosks, books donated on amateur radio, club meetings, at public libraries are further means to reach this audience. But getting non-hams on the air will likely be a key. (If not, why do we use GOTA stations at Field Day?)

Targeted marketing starts with defining “who” specifically is a good fit for a product or service and delivering personalized messages directly to that targeted audience.

Dun & Bradstreet

Here is the logo that I’ve created for the LiOTA Program. Hmm. It might look good on a spiffy tee shirt.

Here’s the brief memo that I submitted to David K5UZ. Time will tell as to it’s fate. Contact your ARRL Division Director if you support the program!

Skip Hamvention 2023, Go To ICU in Dayton

I had so many plans for my Hamvention 2023 visit on Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, 2023.  For example, I planned on many interviews including one with N3ZN, maker of great Morse code keys.  I also needed to visit the Card Checker Service of the ARRL DXCC program.  I had a handful of DX cards I was submitting toward DXCC credits.

NW7US, in ICU at the hospital, instead of attending Hamvention 2023).

NW7US, in ICU at the hospital, instead of attending Hamvention 2023.

But, I collapsed about 40 minutes after I got to the Hamvention, on Friday morning! I had just finished getting my DX QSL cards checked at the ARRL booth, then I collapsed. After only being at my first Hamvention for a brief 40-some minutes, I was taken by ambulance to an ER of a Xenia-area hospital.  My blood pressure was difficult to measure at the initial moments of being at the emergency room — it was about 60 over 40, and I had NO radial pulse.

After a CT scan of heart and neck, and blood lab work, I was transported again by ambulance to a hospital near Dayton. There, I was admitted to that hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) around 5:30 PM on Friday.

I’m writing this on Saturday, from my hospital bed, as I’m still in ICU in Dayton. I hope to be discharged tomorrow (Sunday, 21 May 2023).

The working diagnosis is Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), caused by a combination of issues starting with my parathyroidectomy surgery, a few months back. I had three of my four parathyroid glands removed because they were completely tumorous.  I wrote about that in my previous entry on this website.

Turns out my calcium levels were lower than they should be, causing problems throughout my body, but especially in my heart. Additionally, I was severally dehydrated due to two medications I had been taking because the VA doctors thought I should be on them.  But, these meds were working against me. One of those I don’t even need, but the VA had me taking. That one is FUROSEMIDE. The other is LISINOPRIL.  I don’t have high blood pressure, nor water retention.

At the ICU, I have stopped taking those meds.  I’m on an IV, getting hydrated, and getting calcium supplements.

My kidney function is improving but I’m going to spend another night in ICU until they feel confident I’ve made full recovery.  I hope to be discharged on Sunday, 21 May, 2023.

I hope all of you that were at this year’s Hamvention have enjoyed the fellowship of radio enthusiasts. Maybe I’ll meet many of you, next year!  I will make videos of Hamvention 2024, if all goes well in a year’s time.

If you were at Hamvention 2023, share some highlights in the comments!

UPDATE:  On Sunday, I was released from the ICU, and I am now home recuperating.  Monday is a bit rough, so am not at work, yet.  BP is normal, and I am on new medication for my heart so that I do not get dehydrated by the furosemide and lisinopril.  Here’s hoping for next year’s Hamvention, which I hope to attend.

73 de NW7US

A recommended strategy for planting the seed…

My two blog articles here from 2020 about the role that the Public Library System can play in reaching young people and women—two demographics that the ARRL says it wants to reach—have not fallen on deaf ears in Newington, CT. It has moved forward it seems. I’m told that the ARRL Board of Directors has embraced the concepts and directed the staff at HQ to implement it very soon.

My Division Director, David K5UZ, his Vice Director, Ed WB4RHQ, and Mike Walters W8ZY, Field Services Manager at ARRL, organized a video call with me last week to discuss steps to move forward with the Plant the Seed, Sow the Future program. I’ve been involved with program design and implementation for several decades via the US Department of Agriculture and state or local government. It’s a good sign that the BoD has issued a directive to the CEO in favor of this program. With all that’s been going on at the Board, I’m delighted that targeted actions like this are moving toward being implemented.

Mike W8ZY and I agreed that a map display would be a good tool to add to the ARRL-affiliated club search page. (They are re-thinking that page, too.) I’ll supply their IT staff with a file of public libraries in the U.S. and some attributes that are useful. Contact info for the Director, number of programs for youth and young adults, and so forth would allow clubs to target libraries that already have active programming in place and are near their location. But there’s more than just setting the table to ensure a meal that is well-enjoyed by all in attendance. Getting guests to the dinner table in the first place is one step! Engaging local clubs is that first step but they have to have access to the tools to make it efficient and effective for a longer term pay-off.

I prepared a memo some time ago to my Division Director, for whom I serve as an Assistant Director for the Delta Division. This memo recommends specific steps and stages for engaging affiliated clubs in this initiative. The Vice Director, Ed WB4RHQ, told us on the Zoom call how successful the Plant the Seed initiative has been in Tennessee already. Library Directors asked local ham club representatives if they would give programs at the library BEFORE hams could even bring it up! That’s a good sign.

It’s because programming for the public is the “new cheese” for library directors. I learned this while at the Board of Regents Office in Atlanta. The Public Library System reports to the college board in Georgia. I was tasked to work with the PLS and learned quite a bit about how local public libraries view their mission and operations. Programs are the key “cheese” that will move public library directors today.

Here are the steps I outlined in my member to my Director for implementing the ARRL program:

This is a recommended game plan to engage public libraries in the United States as a portal for education and outreach regarding amateur radio. Here are my bullet-point steps:

  • ARRL Board declare public libraries as new “served agencies” like Red Cross, not for emergency communication but for education and outreach. This makes it an official program with a League commitment. It also means it will not simply go away when some ARRL staffer decides s/he doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. Note to the skeptic: did you realize that for years the annual affiliated clubs forms that many club officers (including me) completed and submitted to HQ simply went into a file cabinet? And that the staffer who was leaving that position intended to put them in the trash dumpster out back when he retired, saying that “nobody cares about clubs anymore”? I didn’t think you did. It appears that the HQ Field Services Staff does care about clubs now. Board action can have that effect.
  • Re-introduce the $200 ARRL Library Book Set to the ARRL website. It was removed by Bob Interbitzen NQ1R, ARRL Product Development Manager, a couple of years ago as being irrelevant, right after my blog post was being circulated. It has yet to be returned as a product. Perhaps the CEO David Minster NA2AA can change that. He wants members to write him with ideas such as this so fire away: [email protected].
  • ARRL make presentation at American Library Association conference in the Public Libraries Division ( to point out how the League can provide a national network of STEM-related activities to local public libraries via ARRL-affiliated clubs. The ARRL should also have an Exhibitor Booth. The League’s national network of local groups and proven outreach can greatly assist libraries in the provision of STEM-related programming and activities to children and adults.
  • ARRL negotiate an MOU with ALA-Public Library Division that parallels the one with Red Cross (and others) regarding emergency communications. This brokers an official organizational relationship between the League and its parallel organization for libraries in the United States. It also means that the Leagues means business in this educational outreach enterprise.
  • Roll-out the Plant the Seed, Sow the Future program through Divisions (BoD members) and Sections (Section Managers) but with Field Services Staff providing technical assistance. This should be a one-year targeted effort to prevent a languishing promise to the ALA. A spreadsheet identifying area public libraries nearest each affiliated club with name, address, contact information, and so forth will be provided through the existing ARRL Field Services communication channels.
  • Specific Objectives: each affiliated club create a standing written relationship with at least ONE public library in their area, negotiated through the Director of that library. This relationship must include: (1) donation of the set of ARRL books to the library that must be placed in their official holdings; (2) delivery of at least a quarterly program on some STEM-related subject at the local library by one or more club members; and (3) a display or kiosk in the library illustrating some aspect of amateur radio. This display should be changed out twice yearly.
  • To maintain Special Service Club status, a club must meet these goals within two reporting years.
  • Clubs that meet these goals within one reporting year will receive some reward from ARRL, to be determined. This will enhance the incentive for local affiliated clubs to engage with their local public libraries.

Imagine that if only 25 percent of the 2,850 clubs listed in the ARRL Club Search database were to negotiate a continuing relationship with at least one local public library, that would be some 712 libraries offering both books and programs on amateur radio to two key demographic groups: women and young children and adults. The 25 percent figure should actually be a lower bound of what all clubs should attain. But it would be leaps-and-bounds greater potential exposure than what the Teacher Institute can reach in a single year with class sizes in the 25-student range.

In the spirit of radio sport, avid contester David K5UZ asked, “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?” That would be a national contest indeed. One yielding a greater common good than a plaque for a single radio contest.

Now, to be sure, there are alternative versions of these recommended steps that better dove-tail with the League’s operation, the Divisions and Sections themselves. Some will say it’s too fast. But the thrust should be consistent with these ideas.

Not every ham thinks that public libraries would be an effective organization for amateur radio education and outreach. My own Section Manager, Malcolm W5XX, said that “no one” goes to libraries any more. My fellow podcast Presenter on the ICQ Podcast, Dan KB6NU, says he is skeptical. About ten years ago, he asked a staff member at a local public library in Ann Abor, MI where he lives about donating ham radio books. According to Dan, the staff member said something to the effect that if they took book donations from the local ham club, they’d have to take books from organizations that they’d prefer not to have in the library. I guess, think neo-Nazi hate material or something of that nature.

There may be others who disagree with the thrust of this Plant the Seed Initiative. But it may well be that there is a disconnect between the source of information that I’m using and what others are basing their opinion on. I’m using very high quality national data collected by the Gallup survey organization. I’m a professional survey researcher analyzing their raw data. I’ve done this a few times over my career so I think that I’ve got a very good handle on the national picture of reaching targeted audience groups. (Years ago, I designed the evaluations of the Smoky the Bear and the 4-H Programs.)

I love my Section Manager and respect his service greatly but the demographics of the Gallup Organization’s survey show that he himself is in a demographic (80 plus years of age and a man) that truly does not visit public libraries. Mal W5XX also has mobility issues and is retired from the US Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg MS, their hub of management. There are things you do not see if you are not in a position to look.

Now, Dan KB6NU does visit public libraries. In fact, he teaches ham radio licensing classes at one in Ann Arbor. I like and respect Dan as I’ve gotten to know him on the ICQ Podcast team. But there are a couple of things I can point out here about the basis of his stated skepticism.

One is that it’s a single library in Ann Arbor, not a state or the whole country. Moreover, asking a staff member who is not the Director is always more likely to yield a “no” to most questions. A Director is the go-to person in the public library space for any inquiries about donating books or other materials or coming in to give programs. Why? They have the authority to say “yes” without checking with anyone with the possible exception of the Library Board. It’s a relationship that a ham should seek, not just the act of dropping off a set of books.

A second thing is that the Ann Arbor library already has a number of amateur radio books and a magazine in their online catalog so they have already passed judgment on the content and sources of these holdings. Here’s a link for a search there for the term “amateur radio.” They have the current issue of CQ Magazine as well as the British magazine, Radio User (now part of Practical Wireless). They have several of Dan’s popular No Nonsense study guides, popular titles by Ward Silver, and the ARRL Operating Manual. Getting the ARRL Book Bundle would give them the latest and more depth to the content they already have in their holdings. So I do not know why the library staff member replied to Dan’s kind offer that way about ten years ago. But I’m not sure that that one experience is strong evidence that public libraries are not viable outlets for outreach and education about technology like amateur radio.

In fact, the Gallup report shows with national data that the library is the single most commonly visited public space to find young people and women. Should we ignore this critical fact? I certainly don’t. This is just an example of why it is critical to approach this “seed planting” as a relationship not a simple donation, just like we do with any other served agency in the EmComm arena of service. For instance, imagine your ARES team NOT having a relationship with the local EOC or other emergency management agency. Then just “show up” with HT in hand saying I’m a ham operator and heard you could use some help in the tornado, flood, fire, recovery effort. You’d be asked to vacate the premises very quickly because they are busy with their demanding work and they do not know you or your group! That’s what just dropping off a set of books might be like for a public library. At least, this is my take on it.

Work with ARRL Field Services and IT staff is scheduled to continue. I’ll see how this progresses and report further on the project. In the mean time, (re)read my two original blog posts on this concept. More than ever, we need to Plant the Seed of amateur radio. And use something more efficient than a screwdriver antenna (apologies to hams who use these antennas as I did some years ago). Keep up the Teacher Institute but expand into where the desired market audience can demonstrably be found. That just makes sense if we are serious about addressing the Baby Boom population exodus with a rational, data-driven plan to do what the ARRL has promised the IRS that they will do in exchange for not paying taxes on donations: education and outreach.

I Am Back After Life Distractions

The last three years have been, well, challenging.

Tomas Hood, NW7US, at the radio room operating desk.

In 2021, I became ill with Covid.  That was rough, but I bounced back.  That bout with illness caused me to lose my job, though, because I was ill too long.  What is worse is because I was not hospitalized, I did not fall under the protections of “disability,” and had to step down from my employment at that time.  After I recovered, I found employment.

In 2022, I again fell ill to a second CovidThat illness was significantly worse!  I nearly WAS hospitalized, but I resisted this, and hung on by a thread. I made it through, though the illness lasted a lot longer the second time around. Because I was ill for about five months, I again had to step down from employment.  This second Covid was the worst illness I have ever experienced, physically, emotionally, and financially.  I am thankful for my friends and family that were very supportive.

After I recovered, I found employment in late 2022.  It took a while for my health to stabilize, but the new job leadership has been supportive.  I have been happily working at this new job since late 2022.

But, the challenge to recover was high.  I sought answers.

In December 2022, I was diagnosed with Primary Hyperparathyroidism.  Sure enough, the many tests I endured confirmed that I had more than one tumor in at least two of my four parathyroid glands (we each have four of them, because we’re given redundancy for this critical body part).

We each have four parathyroid glands.

We each have four parathyroid glands. They are on the back side of the thyroid. The regulate the body’s calcium. Calcium is critical to all body functions and health.

I had surgery at the end of February 2023 to remove these tumor-riddled glands.  The surgeon, once in my neck, found that THREE of my four glands were tumorous!  He removed the three.  I now have just one parathyroid gland.

Recovery has gone well.  My health is improving nicely.  It is like a switch was flipped, and I no longer have some of the debilitating symptoms like brain fog, extreme fatigue, and an out-of-control metabolism.  I have a stable function of the remaining parathyroid gland, and that is supporting the proper function of the rest of my body.  It is amazing how the whole body relies on these four glands for running correctly!

All of these challenges of the last few years caused enough distraction that my YouTube channel, and my writing, here, as well as other hobby activities, suffered my absence.  Now that I am getting back on my feet with my health, and because my job continues nicely, I am beginning to spend some energy and time on these hobby areas.  I plan on creating and releasing a few series on amateur radio, radio propagation, and space weather, on my YouTube channel.  If you are already a subscriber, you probably saw my latest video where I announce that I am, indeed, back:

If there are topics that you would like me to cover in the new educational videos I am planning and will create, please let me know with a comment to this post, or, look my email address up on my profile at QRZdotCom.  I will do my best to answer your questions and cover amateur radio and space weather topics in which you are interested.

If you are not yet familiar with my YouTube channel, you can find my channel here: — Please subscribe and hit the bell to be notified when I release new video content.

I will also post more often on this site.  I appreciate the opportunity to share with you my love of amateur radio, and the science of propagation and space weather which affects our radio signals.

Best regards,

Tomas, NW7US

There are almost as many GMRS licenses as Techs…

At a recent local hamfest, my ARRL Section Manager, Malcolm W5XX, held the annual ARRL Forum. As Division Director David Norris K5UZ was giving his update on the recent Board of Directors meeting. W5XX commented that a club in North Georgia had begun reaching out to licensees of the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Why? There are some 8,000 of them in surrounding counties! Give a statistician a number like that and it’s catnip to a cat.

I had heard of GMRS and the lighter-weight Family Radio Service (FRS) as additional radio frequencies to the famous Citizen’s Band (CB) that I used as a teen. But I didn’t really know much about it. So, I spent parts of a week doing some searching, reading, and, inevitably, database building. I saw the wisdom of the club in question reaching out to this audience. Let’s do a thought experiment to flesh this out.

GMRS licensees use radios up to 50 watts on mobile stations and 15 watts in fixed stations in the mid-400 mhz region. There are limitations on the type of one-way communications (no whistling which would rule out most anyone in amateur radio tuning up an amplifier, lol). But in general, there are parallels to GMRS operators to those holding a Technician license in the Amateur Radio Service with the latter having much greater frequency access, power usage, and other aspects of the radio arts.

The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a licensed radio service that uses channels around 462 MHz and 467 MHz. The most common use of GMRS channels is for short-distance, two-way voice communications using hand-held radios, mobile radios and repeater systems. In 2017, the FCC expanded GMRS to also allow short data messaging applications including text messaging and GPS location information.


After doing some reading, I checked the FCC ULS GMRS license data. There’s an interesting comparison: the ARRL February 2023 numbers show 386,122 Technicians while individual GMRS licenses total 336, 513 after APO addresses and one Canadian are removed. Organizations and some other groups can obtain GMRS licenses. Roughly, there are about as many individual GMRS licensees as there are Technicians, give or take 50,000. Ok, I thought, this is surprising but how do they operate? Are they communicating amongst themselves as ham operators do? How many GMRS repeaters are there? The surprises just kept on coming!

The popular site,, does list some GMRS repeaters. But the mother ship is the website. One has to have a GMRS license to register but there ‘s enough information available to the public to show just how organized parts of the GMRS community already is. I’ve taken a screenshot of the map display, nicely done with clustering repeaters until a certain zoom level is reached, showing the GMRS repeaters in the U.S. Note those in Puerto Rico: I had recommended that the ARRL assist in getting a permanent repeater on the westernmost mountains near Mayaguez after a devastating hurricane. Perhaps even an HF ALE type station directed at Florida or North Carolina. Looks like the GMRS community has done some work here, too.

The map below illustrates the set of repeater hubs and their links around the U.S. There are national and regional Nets held regularly. An audio stream can be monitored using the website for each hub, not unlike Hoseline for the Brandmeister DMR Network. Hmm. If ham radio were only this organized, so quickly.

Linked Repeaters from the website illustrating hubs and links around the U.S.

After downloading the February 2023 GMRS data from the FCC ULS ftp site, I processed it and filtered out the overseas military licenses. These records were then georeferenced to street addresses, with some that did not have street addresses geocoded to zip codes and a few to city centroids. The map below illustrates this: the GMRS individual license IS a compelling market for amateur radio recruitment.

It’s easy to see that the North Georgia region is part of the Appalachian Mountain range that is covered with GMRS licensees But so is most of the region east of the Mississippi River, the West Coast and the mountainous areas of the Southwest. Here’s another view zoomed in to the ARRL Delta Division where I live. Licensees in GMRS tend to follow population centers but note the areas, like Nashville, where the topography gives more height-above-ground than others. Northwest Arkansas is another such location. Interesting patterns!

We know little to nothing about the age distribution of GMRS licensees as year of birth is not contained in the ULS database released to the public (only 18 or over). But it stands to reason that GMRS licensees are likely to have a broader age range of adoption. From perusing the names on the licenses — license holders can authorize other family members to use additional radios in this Service — there are gendered-naming patterns. More women in GMRS than ham radio? Possibly.

Some interactive maps of these data are now available over at under the Maps tab.

An important note is that an unknown number of those holding GMRS licenses today also hold licenses in the Amateur Radio Service. The FRN is not contained in the GMRS data so it would take “fuzzy matching” with less than perfect results to examine this idea.

Should the GMRS licensees be viewed as another direct marketing opportunity by the ARRL?

Only if they are serious about wanting to grow the ranks of amateur radio…

The ARRL has taken an interest in my proposed initiative to treat public libraries in the U.S. as “new served agencies” for recruitment strategies, according to Division Director David Norris K5UZ. See my two blog posts here and here. Should the GMRS licensees be viewed as another direct marketing opportunity by the ARRL?

I’ve taken the GMRS data and spatially joined the ARRL Division and Section fields to the license record using GIS. These files were then split into separate spreadsheets by Division with the Section as a separate field. I’ve put them on my public folder in Dropbox for all to retrieve should they desire. This would make it easy for a direct-mailing to GMRS licensees. In a cover letter identifying the contact info for their ARRL Section Manager, a brochure should be inserted describing the much greater options available by adding the Technician license through a VE exam. It works for some yield rates for other membership services. (Check today’s mail if you doubt this isn’t used frequently.)

Click HERE for the Dropbox folder.

It would not be inexpensive with USPS rates. But it would be directed at a market that is already known to have some interested in operating radios for communication. Perhaps it should begin with GMRS licensees in areas where there are existing repeater operations. This would be a good test case to see the yield from such a direct mailing.

What won’t work is to simply send the information “down stream,” expecting SMs to do all the heavy lifting. It simply won’t happen. The League already conducts a commercial mailing operation which is where this activity should be situated.

This would be a third recruiting rail for the ARRL, including the Teacher Institute (getting in schools), the pending (I’m told) Plant the Seed initiative for public libraries, and the direct mailing to known radio communication licensees in the GMRS arena. Recruit the Generals, anyone?

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