Greetings from the High Country.  I hope that this message finds you and your family members, and friends, staying well during the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic.  

Field Day

I hope that you had time to participate in Field Day under the special
rules necessitated by the COVID-19 distancing rules.  

There seems to be quite a difference of opinion over the Field Day rules
change for 2020.  Why am I surprised that hams would have strongly held
and different opinions?

Those who think that the rules change was a mistake and contrary to the
original purpose of Field Day (working on emergency power with
improvised antennas) feel that allowing home station operation (class
1D) hurt Field Day.  They complain that the special rules that gave
points for working other 1D stations favored high power contest
stations.  The critics say that the 2020 rules made the event a mere
contest rather than a demonstration of emergency capabilities.  They
complain that some contesters operated with kilowatt stations and
massive antenna arrays which made it difficult for ordinary operators to
make contacts.

On the other hand, there were positive comments from some Field Day
participants about the rules change.  Nothing required anyone to use
commercial power or massive antenna arrays and some stations operated as
1E stations using generators, batteries and/or solar power and some
operators followed tradition by setting up in their back yard with
temporary antennas and power. 

My impression is that those who wanted to operate during Field Day
probably had greater opportunities to get on the air than under the
traditional rules.  For example, our club normally would get 12-20
members to come out and those that wanted to operate had to wait for
their turn to operate on the three stations set up for Field Day. This
year, in our club, those who wanted to, could operate many more hours
from home than they would have been able to when located at a
traditional Field Day site.  

During Field Day, most of my contacts involved 1D stations and a few
multi-operator 3A stations.  I made 98 contacts and received six ARRL
Radiograms and a dozen Winlink messages that were sent to the Section
Manager.  During Field Day, I had virtual visits with the Watauga
Amateur Radio Club and the Lenoir Amateur Radio Club using video meeting
technology.  I enjoyed Field Day.  Overall, band conditions seemed
pretty good.  I made contacts in Texas on 10 meters and reached a San
Diego station on 40 meters and also operated on 75, 40, 20, and 15
meters, all on SSB voice.

What was your opinion of the 2020 Field Day rules?  Should the rule book
go back to what was used for many years or should the ability to earn
points while operating at home be continued next year?  If home
operation is allowed in the future, should stations be limited to
operating at 150 watts or less power, with no points awarded to
operators running 500-1500 watt amplifiers?

Thirteen Original Colonies

The 13 Original Colonies contest began Wednesday morning and will
continue through July 7.  
Several of my friends have already (by noon on Thursday) made contact
with most of the 13 Colonies special event stations.  Between working on
this newsletter and Section Manager matters, I reached eight of the
colonies by midnight on Wednesday plus the WM3PEN station operating at
Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  On Thursday and up through July 7, I
will be on the air working to get the four remaining stations.  

13 Colony stations will be operating on most bands and be on SSB and CW.
 Information about the contest and the certificate that can be earned
can be found at  Get on the air and see how many
stations you can reach.  The special bonus station in England, GB13COL,
can be a challenge but I have done a clean sweep (all 13) and the two
bonus stations each of the past three years.

Club Meetings

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, I have been visiting with clubs using
video meeting technology and met with the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club,
Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society, a multi-club meeting involving the
Greensboro, Guilford and High Point clubs and the Mayland Club.  Next
week, I will meet with the Durham FM Association and also go over to
West Jefferson to visit the Ashe County Club.  Let me know if you want
me to visit with your group.

Silent Keys

I have mentioned this several times before but I want to remind everyone
that the passing of a ham can be noted in QST.  Send me an email and a
link to the obituary and I will get the Silent Key listed in QST.  Since
becoming Section Manager I have forwarded about twenty Silent Key
entries to ARRL HQ with a request that that note be made of the late
ham’s passing.  Everyone who sends me Silent Key information receives
a copy of my message to ARRL HQ.


Sadly, it seems possible that hamfests, as we came to know them, may

 I have heard that dealers are cutting back on their travel due to the
expense of coming to a hamfest and that not enough commerce occurs
during hamfests to cover their expenses.  Talking with dealers, they
cite the cost of rental fees for a booth, lodging, fuel and the time
needed to set up as factors making them less likely to be at future
hamfests.  Conversely, after a hamfest, I hear on-the-air comments from
hams about their disappointment over there being few dealers at the

Most purchases of new rigs are done over the internet rather than at
hamfests, unless the event is something large, like Orlando or Dayton
that attract major dealers.  

Organizers of hamfests may want to consider lowering dealer fees or
offering some type of rebate to vendors who attend in order to bring
more vendors back.  Right now the loss of dealers may cause some
hamfests to see continued drops in attendance.  

Once the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted, will the larger hamfests
come back or will we only have swapfests and social gatherings in a
church parking lot?

Shelby, the Cary Swapfest, Waynesville and the Salisbury Fire Cracker
hamfests are the latest to have been canceled for this year. 

Bits and Bytes

My friend Roland Kraatz, W9HPX, from Charlotte, sent me information on
this year’s ARRL TAPR Digital Communications Conference.  Originally
scheduled to be held in Charlotte, the TAPR DCC will be held over Zoom
this year on September 11-12.  Those hams who are into digital
communications, circuits and various innovations that have moved ham
radio ahead should consider attending.  

This is the 40th year for the TAPR Conference.  Founded originally as
the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio it is now international in scope and
focuses on software defined radios, advanced digital modulation and
precise time and frequency measurement.  Information about the ARRL TAPR
Digitial Communications Conference can be found at .   

ARRL Matters

Several rule making proceedings are percolating through the FCC that
will affect ham radio.  These include giving voice hf privileges on 80
and 40 meters for Technicians, removing the obsolete symbol rate that
prohibits use of Pactor 4 on ham bands, and a proposal to set aside
specific sub-bands for high speed digital systems which is seen by ARRL
as a strategy to solve conflict between digital operators and those who
operate cw or voice on 80 and 40 meters.

Activity continues on filling two key positions at ARRL Headquarters. 
The CEO position has been vacant since January 17, 2020 when the Board
removed Howard Michel as CEO.  The Emergency Management Director
position has been vacant since Mike Corey, KI1U, stepped down in
February 2019 .  Hopefully these two positions will be filled without
further delay.

Your voice on all these matters is through the Roanoke Division
Director, Bud Hippisley, and the Vice Director, Bill Morine.  
Their email addresses are:
Bud Hippisley,
Bill Morine,

ARRL Headquarters staff continue to work from home as they have for
several months.  Their prolonged absence from HQ may delays in your
ability to get information from HQ.

The ARRL Board was expected to hold a traditional meeting in Hartford in
July but it is now the Board will meet virtually using Zoom or another
virtual meeting technology.  No agenda has been released for the

You are also reminded that Bill Morine, N2COP, is on the Tarheel
Emergency Net on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. on 3923 Khz. 
Fire up your hf rig and talk directly with Bill.

Testing… testing

Several of the VE teams have begun offering remote exams as an
opportunity for those persons who want to get their first license or
want to upgrade.  Contact the group that supervises (Volunteer
Examination Coordinator) that your local exam team.  Not all VEC’s are
doing remote exams yet but some are.  

On the subject of volunteer exams, you are reminded that on July 1, 2020
the question pool for the Extra class exams was updated.  There are some
new questions and some older questions have been dropped to reflect
changes in what Extra class licensees should know about the state of the

ARRL has published a new set of books entitled, Extra Class License
Manual and Extra Class Q + A, which focus on the new material on the
Extra exam.

Closing Comment

This week includes the celebration of our Declaration of Independence on
July 4, 1776 and the establishment of a country like none other found in
human history.  

Our country was founded on a desire to escape from an oppressive King
who, as sovereign, claimed an absolute power over subjects who were
denied representation on questions of taxation and laws imposed on them.

American Patriots fought the Revolutionary War and eventually defeated
the British but success was far from certain for a long time.  George
Washington faced near mutiny at Valley Forge from bedraggled troops who
were poorly equipped and wanted to go home.  Good fortune shined on our
ragtag armies and our ancestors won our freedom from British rule.  

It is not clear to me that school classes adequately emphasize how
perilous was our struggle.

Yes, colonies transformed into states and adopted written constitutions
and signed the Articles of Confederation, which created a single country
with the States in a superior position over a weak central government. 
The newly established states sent representatives to the Continental
Congress and attempted to write laws for the new country.

Our attempt to operate under the Articles of Confederation was a
failure.  There was no President, each state had its own currency and
could tax the goods produced in other states.  The national government
could only do those things that all 13 states agreed to.  Some did not
want to levy taxes needed to pay for debt incurred in fighting the
Revolution.   Some states resisted providing troops to support our Army.
 Conflicts between the states based on trade practices and their
different economies threatened the survivability of the small, known as
the United States of America.  Some foreign powers expected that our
experiment with democracy would fail.

In 1787, delegates returned to Philadelphia with the mission to amend
the Articles of Confederation and to fix a few recognized problems.  

However, after months of debate, the delegates determined that a
stronger national government was needed.  There would be three equal
branches of government, each with some power to limit the actions of the
other two branches.  A bicameral Congress with a House of
Representatives based on population would be a check on a Senate where
each state was equally represented regardless of population.  The
President was to be given the power to veto proposed laws but Congress
with extraordinary majorities could overrule the President’s veto. 
There would be a uniform currency and the national government would
regulate commerce between the states and settle disputes between the
states.  The President would be the Commander-in-Chief in charge of e a
US military not under control of the states.

 People trusted George Washington because he been a fierce General in
battle and after the war, during the debates over writing the
Constitution he had strongly resisted having our leader being called
King.  General Washington was the consensus choice to be our first

Many great ideas were included in the new Constitution but critics
worried that the Government might accumulate too much power. 
Ratification of the new Constitution came after a solemn promise was
made to add a written statement of citizen rights.  The first ten
amendments came to be referred to as the Bill of Rights which is our
safeguard us against an abusive government.

A question posed to Benjamin Franklin as the Constitutional Convention
adjourned was, “Doctor Franklin, what have we got?  A republic or a
monarchy?”  Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The promise to support and defend the Constitution is included in the
Presidential Oath, the Congressional Oath, and the Oath taken by every
member of the military.  State officials are obliged to pledge to
support their state constitution and the US Constitution, the latter
being Supreme over state laws and state constitutions.

After teaching American Government for twenty-nine years and seeing how
divided our country has become, I wonder how many citizens would take
that kind of oath of allegiance or believe that those with whom they
disagree also support our Constitution.

Have a safe Fourth of July and tell your grandkids how precious our
Constitution is.  Without it, we would likely be a footnote in history
books rather than the leader of the Free World.

Marv, WA4NC
NC Section Manager

ARRL North Carolina Section
Section Manager: Marvin K Hoffman, WA4NC

January 2020 Meeting Program File

Bill Baudry, NC4WB, gave a very nice presentation at out January 2020 club meeting on the National Traffic System (NTS0. If you missed it, or if you need a refresher on the basics of handling formal traffic, here it is:


Our own Dr. Marv Hoffman, WA4NC, has been elected ARRL North Carolina Section Manager, effective April 1, 2000. The ARRL web site summarizes the responsibilities of this office as follows: “The Section Manager is accountable for carrying out the duties of the office in accordance with ARRL policies established by the Board of Directors and shall act in the best interests of Amateur Radio.” Further details of this position can be seen at After reading this, you will agree that Marv has a big job ahead! I am sure our club will support him as he carries out his new duties!


Watauga ARES/Auxcomm amateur radio operators were asked to assist the Red Cross during a recent law enforcement operation. On March 22 over 100 law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel conducted an intensive day-long search over rugged terrain in western Watauga County, looking for a missing person who had left his home and had not returned. We picked up and distributed sandwiches, chips, fruit, coffee, water and soft drinks for the search personnel for lunch and returned later in the day with a hot meal when the search personnel returned to base camp. W4ZW George, WA4NC Marv, and KB4JEB Jack supporting search operation

George W4ZW, Marv WA4NC, and Jack KE4JEB


We are proud to announce that the callsign WA4J, which belonged to our club member John W. Dinkins, SK, has been assigned to the Watauga Amateur Radio Club. The familiar WA4J Repeater ID is once again announcing its presence on 147.36 MHz. Thanks to Repeater Trustee Doug Hall, WA4UNS, for his efforts in this matter.