The Effects of COVID-19 on Worldwide Propagation
by Pat Connell W0OJU

On a typical Spring Sunday afternoon, I would be working on a project in the garage, in the basement, in the back yard, or at a friend’s house.  Anywhere but in the basement or in my radio room.

But this Sunday was different, it was March 29, 2020 the year of COVID-19.  Our president, governor, and numerous other brilliant scientists touted the way to defeat or “flatten the infection curve” was to practice “social distancing”.  But how does an extrovert like me practice social distancing.  Talk to my neighbor over the fence, or  call someone on the phone – not too interesting.  Go for a walk with the dog?  No, the dog will just want to chase the neighborhood birds and other wildlife. 

Thinking about what to do next, I found myself in the radio shack. Seeing the HF radio was on, I checked on 15 meters and found the WPX contest was on and could hear US states repeating calling CQ with no answers or at least I could not hear the foreign stations calling them on my simple dipole.

I went down to 21.074 mhz to see if FT8 was active and start seeing signal reports of S+5 -10!  What the heck, as I turned up the audio I could hear lots of audio signals and some really loud signals from all over North and South America.  I thought what the heck, I should check out 10 meters my favorite band.  (Did I ever tell you I had an 8 element 10 meter Yagi on an 48 foot boom when I was young and single? That is a story for another column.)

I could hear a faint signal down in the noise and then a string of W4, 5 and a W6 came across the WSJT program screen.  I worked a half dozen stations, and then started calling CQ, which in turn caused me to work stations after stations for the next two hours.  I worked W0-W9, KP4, KH6, and a slew of central and South Americans! 

I checked with PSKreporter and found that my signal was being heard in Italy, New Zealand, etc.  (By the way PSKreporter will be a topic for another column – but it is a very practical almost real time tool to check on both HF and VHF band conditions, and whom is hearing whom.)

This was not a onetime experience.  On March 31, ten meters was open late afternoon and early evening across the U.S. and all the ways to South American.  One Example was a J68 (St. Lucia island) who was a S9+ signal for over two hours!!

By now you are wondering, so how is COVID-19 improving propagation? My hypothesis is that there is an indirect impact.  My hypothesis is that there are more people listening out there as part of their social distancing.  The problem is if everybody is just listening and not calling CQ the band will appear to be dead.  So, let’s light up the ionosphere by listening and calling CQ – just don’t be surprised when someone answers! 

73’s and I would love to hear your experiences. – Pat W0OJU


With some adjustments, the April 2020 Ak-Sar-Ben ARC meeting is on!

* * * PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THE INFORMATION BELOW * * *


1. We will NOT be meeting at the Red Cross this month, that facility is closed to outside groups at this time. 

2. We WILL host the meeting on the KØUSA  repeater: 146.940 Mhz (No PL Tone is necessary to reach the repeater - the PL tone is only on the output and is optional on your radio)    also, you can use Echolink node 732572 (N0TRK-R) to reach the K0USA repeater.  (note, you will not hear the repeater ID or courtesy beep over Echolink due to the link radio utilizing the receive PL tone) 

3. We WILL host the meeting simultaneously on Zoom.  (Zoom is a video meeting host site - see information below) 

4. Procedure: THE MEETING WILL BE RUN AS A NET. So for those on the repeater, we will have check-ins.

5. Limitations: Due to the limitations of Zoom, it is possible the meeting will only last 40 minutes. We are working to resolve this. Also, we will NOT send the Treasurer's report out over the repeater. Committees will give a report when called for, like any other meeting.


This should not be new, many of us have participated in a net, and many of us have been involved in a video conference meeting.  However, this is new for the club. So we want to thank you for your patience and your participation. If you have questions email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you did not receive the email about this - please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure we have your current information.  The Zoom meeting information is not shared on Facebook or the web site to help reduce the likelihood that the meeting will be hijacked.  (yes, people troll the web looking for meeting invitations and then disrupt meetings.

 

 

Despite things being listed on the web site calendar - it is ALWAYS a good idea to check on the status of a meeting or test session with each group listed.

At this point, any event that was scheduled at the Red Cross at 81st and Spring is canceled as they have closed the building to outside groups, and most gatherings would be in excess of the 10 people gathering limit.  

 

Known cancellations:

  • Ak-Sar-Ben ARC sponsored License Exam (aka VE Session) 03/31/20 is canceled
  • The Pioneer Amateur Radio Club (PARC) meeting scheduled for 3/26/20 is Canceled.  Future PARC meetings are Canceled until further notice.
  • The SWIARC Meeting scheduled for 3/26/20 is canceled.  Next Month's meetings TBA.
  • The Annual Family Weatherfest sponsored by the University of Nebraska in Lincoln scheduled for 04/04/20 is canceled but they plan to reschedule.  The new date is not available
  • Ak-Sar-Ben ARC club Meeting 04/10/20 will be on-air and on-line (look for more details)
  • The Spring Clean-up Hamfest on 04/18/20 sponsored by the Bellevue ARC is Cancelled and they also plan to reschedule.  The new date has not yet been announced.
  • The DMRAA (Des Moines) Ham Fest scheduled for 04/25/20 has been postponed - new date is 04/24/2021

 

Red Cross Due to the COVID-19 virus the Red Cross has closed it's doors to outside groups using their facilities. (as of 03/25/2021 this is still in effect) This is only temporary but will impact AARC club meetings and of course the License Exam Sessions the foreseeable future.   There are also the guidelines set by the Federal Government as well as the Douglas County Health Department that we do not gather in large groups.    When this changes we will be able to meet in person again.   Stay Tuned for updates   

If you are looking for license test information you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on dates times and location.   Until further notice - all of are VE sessions are appointment only - NO WALK INS! 

This site will be updated as information is made available to the web master.

 

 

February's presentation was a walk down memory lane. It was from the very first half-hour TV show from 1959 about ham radio located by Pat Connell. The show was produced by John Hopkins University in Baltimore. It was in black and white as this was before the days of color television. The show covered all aspects of ham radio and a number of predictions about the future of ham radio which all became true.

The most interesting part of the meeting was the discussion afterward. There were over a half dozen attendees that got their first ham ticket back in the 1950s. They shared with the group their memories on equipment, operating practice, and the fantastic peak of the 1950's solar cycle to include the new frontier found on the VHF frequencies. in the 1950's one of the big producers of ham equipment was at World Radio in Council Bluffs. Does anyone remember the national crystal company on Broadway in Council Bluffs?

March presentation will be on Fox hunting or directional finding. The presentation will be on the various styles of fox hunting to include all age groups and families. You do not have to have a license to participate in fox hunting so maybe we can get some high schools' science programs involved and maybe other interested individuals. Hopefully, there will be time to discuss the possibility or an interest in a regional fox hunt being held during our club's 75th anniversary

 

The Ak-Sar-Ben Amateur Radio Club will be testing a new service called HamClubOnline.com.   

Ham Club Online is an amateur radio club management tool that will make it easier for the membership committee to keep track of your data.  As this year's dues are processed, you will be added to the new online system.  You will receive an email from hamclubonline.net  with this subject line: 

 
[AkSarBenARC] You have been added to the  AARC online database  

The body of the email will be something like this: 

Congratulations! Your application to AkSarBenARC has been accepted and you have been added to the club roster.
You may access the private club roster, calendar, and other member-only information by visiting www.hamclubonline.com.  If it is your first time using HamClubOnline, click on the forgot password link to receive a password.

Please take a few minutes to log in and make sure we have your phone number and your preferred email address. 

Also please update if you are an ARRL member or not by checking the "View and Update Your Skills". You can also add that you want to receive an emailed copy of the Ham Hum or a Mailed Copy of the Ham Hum (or both).  

Welcome aboard!  

 
Some of the features of this system are: automatic email reminders of dues being due, simple distribution of newsletters and other communications, auto-tracking of call sign changes, license upgrades and address changes, (this is all pulled from the FCC database) club event tracking and soon online payments.     This puts you in control of your contact information and you can check your membership status.  
 
Make sure you log in and update your ARRL Membership status and how you would like to receive the Ham Hum as soon as you get your notification!
 AARC Membership Committee

Field DayFinal Field Day Planning Meeting - Saturday June 1st 9:30 am at the Red Cross 2912 S 80th Ave -

This will be where we finalize what stations will be on the air and from where - we will be operating as an "F" station as the Red Cross qualifies as an EOC!    However the small footprint of the area will raise some challenges.  

If you want to be a shack captain,  this is a meeting to attend and make your final plans for your station.    If you want to just operate, this will be a great place to meet up with the shack captains and let them know when you want to come help.   As always, setup crews will be needed as will tear down.   We need trailer pullers, food coordinators, tour guides, talk-in crew, late night operators, loggers,  

Or maybe you are just wondering how you can help.  This is the place to find out! - See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Field DayWinter Field Day, sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA) , and takes place the last full weekend in January.  For 2019 that will be Janurary  26th and 27th.   

“Don’t let those winter doldrums keep you locked up in the house,” the WFDA says. “Get out and play some radio!” The WFDA said it believes that maintaining operating skills should not be limited to fair-weather scenarios.   

There are three entry categories — indoor, outdoor, and home. The rule are similar to those for ARRL Field Day. Operation will take place on all HF bands except 12, 17, 30, and 60 meters, as well as on VHF, UHF, and satellite. The event runs 24 hours. Starting at 1:00 pm CDT on Saturday and running to 1:00 pm on Sunday.   US and Canadian stations exchange call sign, operating category, and ARRL or RAC section.

The Omaha Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) will be participating in Winter Field Day from the local EDS building at 10629 Burt Circle and invites all interested amateur radio operators to participate with them.     At this point everything is still in the planning phase, but so far the plan is to operate as in the Indoor category with at least 2 HF stations one voice station and one digital stations.  The stations will run off of generator and battery power.      Hours of operation will depend on band conditions and the number of participants to work those late night hours.   

If you'd like to participate send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.