This month I invite everyone to the Emergency Services building located at 2525 - 14th Street here in Meridian. During our meeting on Tuesday evening, October 4th at 6 pm, we have a special guest speaker Mr. Dale Hankins, KB5VE visiting us to discuss and present ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) with us. Please come and see this very informative presentation.
KB5VE is the DEC SE for MISSISSIPPI ARES where he heads-up nine counties in south Mississippi. He has worked with Civil Defense for years and worked with the EOC during Katrina. He saw a need to use 46 years in Business Management to help establish a strong ARES presence in this area. Hurricane and Tornados are our main weather emergencies and they happen all too often. His interest in the Flex Radios and knowledge that digital communications is the first means to move emergency traffic influenced him to get involved.
Should U. S. ham tests be given abroad?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a reader who wanted my opinion about a thread on the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list. The e-mail that started the discussion was a message from an American living in Italy who wanted to take the Technician Class exam. In her e-mail, she told of her troubles finding a test session, and then when she did find one, what she perceived as “irregularities” in the testing process. Reading the thread was a little disconcerting, and I blogged about this issue (http://www.kb6nu.com/u-s-amateur-radio-license- exams-given-outside-u-s/).
I understand why foreign national go to the trouble of taking the U. S. license exam. Some of them even buy my study guides. About a year ago, for example, I swapped some e-mail with a guy from Malaysia about why he purchased my study guide and why he wanted a U. S. license. He said that it was because a neighboring country offered reciprocal operating privileges to U. S. licensees, but not Malaysian licensees! He mentioned that he tested for the license in Thailand.
Basically, my Malaysian friend was using the U. S. licensing process to circumvent the Malaysian licensing process. Australians seem to do this, too. Apparently, according to one of the VKs who commented on the thread, getting a U. S. Tech license is easier than testing for an Australian Foundation license. So, some Australians get a U. S. Tech license first, then get the Australian government to issue them a VK Foundation license based on the reciprocal operating agreement between the U. S. and Australia.
Another reason that some outside the U. S. obtain U. S. amateur radio licenses is the challenge. That’s the reason Martin Butler, M0MRB/W9ICQ, of ICQPodcast fame, gave when I spoke to him about this recently.
Are these reasons "good enough" to continue this program of licensing non-U. S. citizens? My first reaction was that no, it's not good enough, and I questioned whether or not the ARRL VEC should sanction non-U. S. VEs and whether or not the FCC should even allow testing outside of the United States.
I didn't see the need for conducting these test sessions or the desirability (to the U. S.) of licensing foreign nationals. I reasoned that not only was there a greater possibility of test fraud, this program could lead to foreign authorities claiming that the U. S. was meddling in their affairs.
This post garnered a lot of comments. Several of them took me to task for voicing this opinion and were in favor keeping the current licensing program in place. There were a variety of reasons.
One of the reasons in favor of using the U. S. licensing process is that in many countries, amateur radio license exam sessions are not very frequent. Another is that they often are quite expensive. This creates an artificial barrier to getting an amateur radio license. Using the U. S. licensing system breaks through this barrier and allows many more to enjoy amateur radio.
Of course, for everything to be on the up and up, the foreign authorities would have to condone the use of U. S. license tests. Apparently, this is the case in Thailand and Australia. I don't know about Italy, but I'm guessing that the authorities there don't really care about Italians obtaining U. S. licenses.
Perhaps the best comment came from Thida, HS1ASC/KH6ASC. He noted that the tests in Thailand were administered very strictly, and says, "The U. S. may lose some call signs, but what the U. S. and U. S. hams get from us is goodwill, very positive feeling. Everyone who gets U. S. license is so proud, and others look at them respectfully." Since Part 97.1(e) lists as one of the purposes of amateur radio, "Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill," I'm now all in favor of offering U. S. ham tests abroad.
Dan, KB6NU, is the author of the "No Nonsense" amateur radio license study guides, and blogs about amateur radio at KB6NU. Com, and you can contact him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. When he's not pondering the vagaries of the U.S. licensing system, you'll find him working CW on the HF bands.
Georgia Mountains' District ARES Trains On Public Event Communications Support
The mountainous Northwest Georgia District ARES program supports four public events each year as a public service and training exercises for its operators. This month, the organization is supporting the Georgia Jewel foot races of 35, 50 and 100 miles and the seven aid stations situated along the course.
ARES operators establish communication centers at each station and track all runners for event safety and progress. The 36 hour event in the mountains has only 5% cell coverage, hence the focus on Amateur Radio for essential communications. Last year, the DEC for the district and for the Georgia Digital program at large, Frank Dean, K4SJR, moved the operation from a VHF/UHF FM voice platform to Winlink Packet. Dean reported "We sent just under 400 messages via VHF Packet -- it was so much easier than sending 150 runners' information from station to station by voice." "From the start of the race in Dalton, we had a complete spreadsheet of all runners and their locations on the course.
"For this year's event, Dean added more communications tools at the net control center on the summit of Johns Mountain (1880') including a 70 cm repeater, six packet gateways with two VHF digipeaters, and a portable D-STAR repeater for use with six area D-STAR repeaters. Systems new and old have been tested twice in the last two months, with trials of different antennas and modes at all aid station sites. Dean reports 100% reliability of packet radio and D-STAR/D-RATS at all aid stations. They are ready to go for this month's event.
Next April, Dean's ARES group will serve the Georgia Death Race - a 70 mile route over 24 hours and 40,000 feet of elevation change, a serious communications challenge.
Thanks to WB5BNV for sending this article.
Quote of the Day
In the final analysis there is no solution to man's progress but the day's honest work, the day's honest decisions, the day's generous utterances and the day's good deed.
- Clare Booth Luce