Radio News


Ham Radio news in Downeast maine

Tom Davis, N1ZY, Silent Key

Oct 6, 2013

Former South Addison resident Tom Davis, N1ZY, passed away in a North Carolina hospital on Tuesday. Tom was a member of the Narraguagus Bay Amateur Radio Club when he lived in Maine. He joined other area hams at many events, including Field Days, Lighthouse Events, and monthly meetings. He is sadly missed.

In the picture, Tom is seated and wearing a red shirt.

Bigger Signals From Milbridge

Oct 6, 2013

Phil, N1EP, has seen growth in his antenna farm. Dave, N1DP, climbed N1EP’s garage mounted 18-foot Glenn Martin roof tower, took down the Mosely rotatable dipole, and replaced it with a Cushcraft A3S Yagi.

Between the garage height and the tower, the beam is up about 45 feet. N1EP noticed a huge improvement in signal strength and ease of making contacts.

Photo (Left) N1DP gives a thumbs up during installation of a yagi antenna at the QTH of N1EP.

Simplex Test

W1KMG/N1EP net controls the February 22, 2014 quarterly simplex test sponsored by the Poverty Hill Amateur Radio Group. Fifteen stations from Plymouth to New Brunswick, Canada, and as far south as Bucksport and Aborn Hill checked into the net on 146.565 Mhz simplex. A few had to be relayed, as expected. Thanks goes out to George W3HBM, Mark N1MEA, and Josh KB1VDX for relaying the “DX” stations!

A Contested Maine ARRL SM Election

First in More than a Decade!

Great Ham Radio Breakfast Meeting!

The Narraguagus Bay Amateur Radio Club held a ham radio breakfast social on March 15 at the Milbridge House Restaurant. Lots of great food, company, and conversation was had by all! Nineteen people from Machias to Mount Desert attended. Another one will be planned for a this summer!

Bill Woodhead, N1KAT,has been the Maine ARRL Section Manager for more than 10 years and has easily won every reelection, unopposed. Next month, Woodhead faces a challenger for the first time in his tenure as section manager.

Bill Crowley, K1NIT, the current Maine ARRL Public Information Coordinator, has thrown his hat in the ring! Maine ARRL members will soon receive ballots in the mail, something they haven’t seen in a very long time.

Both gentlemen have been active in many facets of the Maine amateur radio community for many years.

Ham Radio Down East will be highlighting the achievements and goals of both candidates and will post them as they come in.

L-R Challenger Bill Crowley K1NIT, and current Maine Section Manager Bill Woodhead N1KAT, at last year’s Alexander Hamfest.

ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye provided the below elections information and noted that both Bill’s will be at the Maine State Convention & Andy Hamfest at the end of the month.

Terms beginning July 1

1st notice, January QST

2nd notice, February QST

Closing Date for nominations: Friday prior or corresponding to March 10, 4 PM

Ballots mailed April 1

Deadline for returns: the Friday prior or corresponding to May 20, 4 PM and counted the following Tuesday.

Battle of the Bills!!!

Androscoggin Hamfest & Maine ARRL Convention

Two days of ham radio FUN! The Andy Hamfest & ARRL Maine State Convention was a success with a good turnout from the ham community, some great presentations, lots of ham radio and electronic goodies to buy, and a super social event. Both candidates for the ARRL Maine Section Manager position also got a chance to address the ham community. Incumbent Bill Woodhead N1KAT and challenger Bill Crowley K1NIT both spoke of their past experience and future plans if elected. Woodhead has been Maine SM for more than 10 years.

Held at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Lewiston March 28 - 29, 2014, the event was dedicated to silent key Al Stronach WA1SCQ.

The entire 50-50 raffles proceeds were donated to Clarence Rider AA1PN, who lost his home to a fire several weeks ago. The winner of the raffle donated his winnings to AA1PN as well.

The hamfest was a great place for “eyeball” meetings between hams who chat on the airwaves frequently but don’t meet in person too often. The next Maine hamfest is the 2014 PAWA Hamfest, Saturday, April 19 8am until noon at the Stewart Morrill American Legion Post #35, 413 Broadway, South Portland.

CLICK HERE to view some photos of the event.

Down East Hams Help Boy Raise Money For Mud Slide Victims

Braydon Bradbury, a 12-year-old fifth-grader from Milbridge, Maine, was watching the television news with his parents in March when he saw and heard some heart-wrenching accounts of the tragic mud slide in the Arlington, Washington area. Rain-soaked hillsides suddenly collapsed, burying homes and families. The death toll has exceeded 40 to date.

Braydon decided to do something to help the victims of the catastrophe. He opened up a special bank account designated for the Red Cross fund setup for the victims. His goal was to raise $1,000. He put a donations box in a local gas station convenience store and organized a recycle bottles drive to raise money. Between those two sources and mostly from donations from his own relatives, Braydon raised about $500.

But no other business in the area would allow him to place donation boxes in their stores. That is when Ham Radio Down East, this web site based out of Milbridge, Maine coordinated an auction to support the boy.

Some generous hams in Hancock and Washington counties donated amateur radio gear and equally generous hams from Calais to Orland bid on the equipment or contributed cash, raising $575, pushing Braydon past his goal. Any additional donations received will now be sent to the United Way’s fund supporting that specific disaster. The Down East Maine ham radio community came together to help alleviate some of the hardships resulting from the disaster, if only in a small but heartfelt way. They also helped a young man pursue and achieve a worthy goal and perhaps imparted a life lesson upon him about perseverance, and the kindness of others.

Thank you to every ham that donated gear and bid on items! And thank you Braydon for taking charge and doing something positive to benefit your fellow human beings!

Bill Crowley K1NIT, Wins Maine SM Election

Maine will have a new section manager for the first time in 16 years! Bill Crowley, K1NIT beat incumbent Bill Woodhead, N1KAT in the race for the American Radio Relay League’s Section Manager for the state of Maine. Crowley will take office on July 1. Woodhead has served as SM since 1998.

Should a major disaster strike midcoast or other parts of Maine rendering normal communications inoperable or degraded, there is a cadre of “amateur” radio operators that can respond and fill in the gap until the communications crisis is over. The term “amateur” refers not to a lack of formal training and subpar performance, but to the fact that they provide their services free of charge to the public. In fact, in most cases these ham radio operators are highly trained, skilled, and professional.

Waldo County is lucky to have such a team of dedicated volunteers. Working closely with the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency, this group trains and operates under two emergency communications programs. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) is administered by local, county, or state government. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)® is affiliated with the American Radio Relay League and often serves government agencies, and such non-profit organizations as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other groups associated with disaster relief efforts.

Working jointly under Waldo County ARES/RACES, the hams regularly participate in drills, exercises, and training opportunities. In fact, they will be participating in the mass casualty exercise at Mount View High School in Thorndike on July 19, and also during the Isleboro Crossing for LifeFlight swimming  event on August 23, where the plan is to station ham radio operators on boats. In Waldo County and around the state and nation, similar groups provide communications during parades, races, and other community events. These events further hone the radio operators’ skills and keeps them practiced in proper radio procedures.

Most every major disaster, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, devastating tornadoes, the Boston Marathon bombing, and major earthquakes, has seen hams provide the backup disaster communications that FCC regulations tout as part of the licensing procedure. The normal communications infrastructure becomes overloaded or disabled during or after major events. These systems include the public safety communications and the cellular phone towers. Hams have their own radio equipment, portable power systems, a wide range of available frequencies and modes, and can even fabricate antennas on site. 

Many counties, including Waldo, have recognized the value of the hams’ services, and have provided the ARES and/or RACES groups state-of-the-art communications systems, meeting places, and training opportunities. The Waldo County ARES/RACES has an impressive radio room as part of the Emergency Operations Center in the EMA building in Belfast. The county also acquired an older ambulance for the group, and converted and equipped the vehicle into a capable communications platform for responding to disaster scenes.

Waldo County ARES/RACES holds a monthly meeting at the EMA building on the first Monday of the month. They conduct regular on-the-air radio nets, including an innovative training net using digital modes optimized for emergency communications, called Narrow Band Emergency Messaging Software (NBEMS).

The vast majority of the time there is no major disaster. When not involved in their own personal and work lives, the Waldo County hams become the eyes and ears for the EMA office and EOC. They can relay voice, graphical, digital and other information from public events and exercises back to the EOC, so the EMA Director can analyze and predict what resources first responders may need.

Any amateur radio operator interested in joining the Waldo County ARES/RACES may call the Waldo County EMA office (338-3870) and ask for Brit Rothrock, AB1KI.

Hams in other Maine counties can contact their local ARES Emergency Coordinator, or call Phil Duggan, Maine Section Emergency Coordinator 546-1575.

ARES® is a program affiliated with the American Radio Relay League

Waldo County Hams Well-Equipped, Skilled in Emergency Communications

Pictured top-right is Brit Rothrock, AB1KI ate the Waldo County EOC as another ham radio operator monitors the Maine Sea Gull Net on 3940KHZ

LEFT: The Waldo County ARES/RACES Portable Go Kit

Hams Provide Digital Comms Between Mass Casualty Exercise site and Waldo County EOC

Waldo County Emergency Management Agency, led by Director Dale Rowley, held a multi-agency mass casualty exercise on July 19 at Thorndike High School. The scenario involved an “active shooter” with multiple deaths and injuries.

Waldo County ARES/RACES was tasked with relaying information from the scene in Thorndike  back to the Emergency Operations Center in Belfast. They used the county’s converted ambulance “Comm Truck” with its vast complement of amateur radio and public safety communications equipment to accomplish

that mission. Other than a few FM voice transmissions to report on scene arrivals and similar reports, the ham radio operators used digital modes to quickly and accurately transmit text and graphical data to other hams staffed at the EOC.

Mike Coulombe KB1UTD and Anne Rothrock KB1PYV took incident reports gathered from unit section/unit leaders by Brit Rockroth AB1KI (EMA Staff) and Phil Duggan (SEC) N1EP, and sent them via the Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS) using the FLDIGI suite of programs and modes. They also used EasyPal to transmit high density photographs to the EOC. EasyPal can be described as slow scan tv on steroids. The images transferred can be high resolution and be of great value to emergency managers.

Waldo County ARES Emergency Coordinator John Butler KB1ROT, Mike Ellis W1MAE and others operated the radio systems at the EOC in Belfast. The communications between EOC and the Comm Truck went smoothly and proved NBEMS/FLDIGI and other digital modes are effective EmComm tools for ARES/RACES to use when appropriate.

Several communities’ first responders participated in the exercise and there were also other county EMA staff participating, including Hancock Couny EMA Director Andrew Sankey KB1TGL, and Cumberland County EMA Staff Harry Masters II KA1NXJ.

Click Here to view Photos from the event