Hillsdale Communicator

February 2018


News For Amateur Radio Operators In And Around Hillsdale County


Club Meetings

The next club meeting will be Saturday, February 17, at 9am at the 911 Central Dispatch building, 204 Development Drive (map) in the Hillsdale Manufacturing and Technology Park.  (GPS 41.939522, -84.658434)  Hillsdale County Emergency Manager and 911 Central Dispatch Director Doug Sanford N8WFB will present the program, including information about two new products, Rave Alert and Smart911.  He may also talk about the upcoming severe storm season and offer a tour of the building.  Everyone welcome.


The club annual meeting was held on January 13 at the Coffee Shop in North Adams after the ham breakfast.  Membership approved treasurer reports presented by outgoing treasurer Joe Gosla KD8UJS and 2018 leadership was installed.  Minutes are available on the Club Info page of the website.



Ham Breakfast

This month the Ham Breakfast will be held on Saturday, February 10, at 8am at the Sidekick Cafe, 4682 Hudson Road in Osseo (map).  Come and join us for a meal or just coffee.  Everyone welcome.


The January breakfast was held at the Coffee Shop in North Adams and was attended by six hams, despite some pretty nasty roads.



Membership Dues For 2018

Club membership dues for 2018 are due.  Club membership voted to lower the rate for a regular membership to $10 (from $15).  The rate for household memberships (additional members in same household after first member pays regular rate) remains $5 and students are free.  You must print and fill out an updated membership application as part of the renewal process.  Dues can be paid by cash or check at club events or mailed to club Vice President Dan Sprow KC8RYF (click for address).  Make checks payable to Hillsdale County Amateur Radio Club or HCARC.  You must renew by March 31 to maintain your membership status.



Membership Report

Club membership stood at 16 as of January 31.  One new member.  Eight members have renewed for 2018.  Seven members have not yet renewed and are in the grace period, which ends March 31.



Club Leadership Positions Remain Unfilled

Three club leadership positions remain open.  The Secretary, Treasurer and Board Member At Large positions had no nominations during annual elections.  Those interested should check the club constitution on our website for information about officer duties and election procedures.  Feel free to contact any of the current club leadership for more information.  A special election will be held at the next club meeting to fill the positions.



Board Meeting

The next Board meeting will be held on Saturday, February 3, at 10:30am at the First United Methodist Church, 45 North Manning in Hillsdale (map).  All club members are welcome.


There was no board meeting in January.



Hillsdale County Active Licenses Increase In 2017

There were 133 active amateur radio licenses in Hillsdale County at the end of the year, based on data pulled from the FCC Universal Licensing System (ULS).  This is up from last years total of 127.  An active license doesn’t necessarily mean an active ham.  FCC ULS active licenses may include club licenses, silent keys, hams that have moved out of the county and not updated their address and inactive hams.  Also included in the active total are 13 licenses that are within the two-year grace period for renewal.  Not included in the total are any hams that moved into the county and did not update their address in the ULS.  Click here to view a map of active licenses.


2017 FCC ULS Activity In Hillsdale County

New License *


Moved Into County *


License Upgraded


License Renewed


Address Updated Within County


Other Administrative Updates


Issued Vanity Call Sign


Moved Out Of County *


License Expired *


Net Change (includes * items)




Meteor Lights Up Night Sky

Stories published on MLive.com about the meteor that lit up the sky on January 16 just after 8pm.  

Bright flash in sky possible meteor over Great Lakes region - Posted Jan 16

Meteor flash across Michigan ignites social media - Posted Jan 16

Where would meteor have hit US or Canada? - Posted Jan 16

New data shows where meteor impacted Michigan - Posted Jan 17

Astronomers discuss Michigan meteor and why it exploded - Posted Jan 17

Would homeowners insurance cover damage from a meteor? - Posted Jan 17

Michigan meteor captured by security camera on Flint's west side - Posted Jan 17

10 things to know about meteor that lit up Michigan - Posted Jan 17

Michigan meteor was 6 feet wide, exploded with power of 10 tons of TNT, NASA says  Posted Jan 18

It's official! Meteor becomes meteorites with chunks found - Posted Jan 18

See pieces of 6-foot wide meteor that crashed to the ground in Michigan - Posted Jan 19

Meteorite hunters who say they found fragments on frozen lake expect to find more - Posted Jan 19

Michigan is no stranger to meteorites with biggest over 100 pounds - Posted Jan 26

Scientists studying Michigan meteorite at Chicago's Field Museum - Posted Jan 31



40 Years Later...Remembering The Great Blizzard Of 78

One of the most powerful winter storms on record paralyzed the central and eastern United States in late January of 1978.  The massive storm began as two small but distinct storms.  A strong low pressure system and arctic air mass was dropping southward out of Canada into the northern plains.  At the same time, another low pressure system in association with a disturbance embedded with the subtropical jet stream across the southern United States was taking shape over eastern Texas.  The two storms merged, bringing 14 to 30 inches of snow to Hillsdale County.  (NWS Northern Indiana story)  (MLive story)  (MLive pictures)  (Wikipedia article)  (snowfall map)



Natural Disaster Map Shows Why Michigan Is The Best Place To Live

Check out this map that shows where natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes are most frequent.  Unsurprisingly, earthquakes are most likely on the west coast.  Meanwhile, the plains states make up "Tornado Alley" and the southeast is susceptible to hurricanes.  In fact, virtually every state is at risk for a natural disaster of some kind, except one.  Michigan.  As you can see on the map, Michigan's peninsulas are colored white, which means there's little risk of earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes.  (MLive story)



NCVEC Releases New Technician License Question Pool

The Question Pool Committee of the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators has released the 2018-2022 Element 2 (Technician) question pool.  The pool will take effect on July 1, 2018, and will remain valid until June 30, 2022.  The current Technician question pool, released in 2014, is valid until June 30, 2018.  (ARRL story)



New Building Won’t Be Ready For Hamvention 2018

Dayton Hamvention officials are walking back an earlier announcement that a new building would be available for this year’s event at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio.  “Despite all of the best efforts and intentions by Greene County, the Greene County Agricultural Society, and Hamvention, we have learned the anticipated new building will not be constructed in time for Hamvention 2018,” Hamvention General Chair Ron Cramer KD8ENJ said.  On the plus side, he continued, Hamvention 2018 will have more room for inside exhibits, with the addition of the vacated Furniture Building, and the Flea Market may gain new space as well.  A revised exit plan and parking modificatons also are in the works.  (ARRL story)  (Dayton Daily News story)



ARRL CEO Gallagher Retires, Shelley Elected New CEO

Tom Gallagher NY2RF, ARRL’s chief executive officer (CEO) for the past 2 years, announced his retirement as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  He will step down on March 2.  (ARRL story)  Current ARRL Chief Financial Officer Barry Shelley N1VXY was elected CEO to replace Gallagher.  President Rick Roderick K5UR has been re-elected by the League’s Board of Directors for a second term.  (ARRL story)



Canadian Radio Amateur Finds Resurrected NASA Satellite

Amateur astronomer Scott Tilley VA7TIL hunts spy satellites.  Using an S-band radio from his home in British Columbia, Tilley routinely scans the skies for radio signals from classified objects orbiting Earth.  In January, while hunting for an undisclosed US government spacecraft lost in a January 8 launch mishap, he saw the signature of Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE), a NASA spacecraft believed to have died in December 2005.  (ARRL story)  NASA has confirmed an amateur astronomer's claim that he made contact with the space agency's IMAGE satellite that had been missing for more than 12 years.  (MLive story)



Amendment To ARRL DXCC Rules Will Expand DXCC List

The ARRL Board of Directors approved a motion to amend the DXCC Rules when it met in January.  The ARRL reports that the Republic of Kosovo (Z6) has been added to the DXCC List of current entities, increasing the total number of current DXCC entities to 340.  (Southgate ARC story)  (ARRL story)  (DXCC Rules)



“Project Goodwill Kosovo” Celebrating Independence And New DXCC Status

A new on-the-air team is taking the reins at Z60A, as “Project Goodwill Kosovo” moves into its second week, with only 2 weeks to go until the actual 10th anniversary of Kosovo’s independence.  Hams from 10 countries will take part in the Project’s current phase.  Z60A has been on the air since January 21, steadily winnowing down demand for Kosovo as a DXCC entity; the republic jumped to the top of Club Log’s DXCC Most Wanted List after attaining DXCC status, putting it ahead of North Korea and Bouvet Island.  (ARRL story)



ARRL Director Promotes Amateur Radio Parity Act Before Senate Committee

ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco N2YBB testified January 25 before a session of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation regarding Amateur Radio’s readiness to respond in an emergency, called in the wake of an incoming missile warning erroneously released in Hawaii.  Lisenco reminded the panel members that the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017 is now pending before the Committee.  “[Senate Bill 1534] is a balanced, completely bipartisan bill that would fully protect both the entitlement of Amateur Radio volunteers to…provide emergency, disaster relief and public service communications, while…protecting the aesthetic concerns and the jurisdiction of homeowners’ associations, ” Lisenco said in his written remarks, noting that the bill is unopposed.  (ARRL story)  (Southgate ARC story)



Secretive “Numbers Stations” Persist On HF

For many years, unidentified radio broadcasts have been transmitting coded messages, using numbers, such as “6-7-9-2-6.  5-6-9-9-0.”  Even today, tuning across the HF spectrum typically will yield a “numbers station,” a mechanical-sounding voice methodically announcing groups of single-digit numbers for minutes on end.  According to Radio World, you may have tuned into a spy agency’s numbers station transmitting coded instructions to their minions worldwide.  (ARRL story)



Silent Keys

Jim Weaver K8JE: Past ARRL Great Lakes Division Director Jim Weaver K8JE of Mason, Ohio died on January 14.  Weaver served as ARRL Great Lakes Division Director for 11 years, from 2003 until 2014.  During his time on The ARRL Board of Directors, Weaver served on the Administration and Finance, Programs and Services, and CEO Candidate Screening committees.  Early in his years on the Board, Weaver was one of the initial members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Grassroots Lobbying.  (ARRL story)



FCC Amateur Radio License Database Activity In Hillsdale County

01/05/18 KD8CRH, BUMP, GERALD E, license status set to expired

01/05/18 KD8CRI, DRUMM, ANDY C, license status set to expired

01/09/18 WD8JOO, SPENCE JR, HERBERT, license renewed



Emergency Activities

Philippine Radio Amateurs Activate for Weather Emergencies: Philippines Amateur Radio Association's Ham Emergency Radio Operations volunteers assisted with emergency communication support in the wake of two severe weather events.  Tropical Storm Kai-tak hit first in the central Philippines on December 16, leaving dozens dead and forcing others to evacuate.  It was followed on December 22 by the more severe Tropical Storm Tembin, which caused significant damage and claimed some 200 lives in the southern Philippines.  (ARRL story)


Thomas Fire Response Also Demonstrates Amateur Radio’s Social Media Value: Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) members kept a close watch on the Thomas Fire after it broke out in early December.  Using a variety of the club’s analog and digital Amateur Radio assets, radio operators were able to observe fire-fighting efforts first hand and pass along immediate information, often before it was reported by official sources or by local news media.  SBARC operates five communication sites in Santa Barbara County, including sites on Diablo Peak on the mostly uninhabited Santa Cruz Island, and on Santa Ynez Peak.  (ARRL story)


Radio Amateurs Track Major East Coast Winter Storm: WX1BOX, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Taunton, Massachusetts joined numerous SKYWARN nets across New England in activating for an early-January nor’easter that brought significant coastal flooding, damaging winds and heavy snow accumulations to the region.  The eastern coast of New England experienced high snowfall rates, whiteout conditions, and even “thunder snow.”  A dramatic drop in barometric pressure generated a so-called “bomb cyclone.”  (ARRL story)


Dominica Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Cites Amateur Radio’s Role After Maria: A post-hurricane disaster needs assessment published this past fall by the Government of Dominica points up the significance of Amateur Radio’s role in the relief and recovery effort on the tiny Caribbean island nation in the wake of Hurricane Maria last September.  It also calls for expanding the pool of radio amateurs on the island who could help in future disasters.  The report, Commonwealth of Dominica Post-Disaster Needs Assessment — Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017, noted that all telecommunication services on Dominica except for Amateur Radio were disabled from September 19 to 21.  (ARRL story)



Snow Totals

Unofficial snowfall totals in Hillsdale City for the last few seasons.










































































Season Total









Related: Snowfall tally on Michigan's winter so far shows one area over 200 inches



Michigan Distracted Driving Legislation Update

Distracted driving bill was introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives on March 30, 2017.  Click here to follow the progress of HB4466.



PRB-1 Legislative Update

House Version: HR 555 was introduced in the US House of Representatives on January 13, 2017 and was passed just 10 days later.  The bill was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  The bill calls on the FCC to establish rules prohibiting the application of deed restrictions that preclude Amateur Radio communications.  Click here to follow the progress of HR 555.  (ARRL story)


Senate Version: S 1534, the Senate version of the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017 was introduced in the on July 12, 2017 and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  Click here to follow the progress of S 1534.


PRB-1 Resources

ARRL Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017 webpage

HR 555 status page

S 1534 status page

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



FCC Enforcement News

FCC Cites Auto Dealership for Causing Harmful Interference to Cell Phone Site: The FCC Enforcement Bureau called on a North Dakota auto dealership “to stop operating devices that are causing interference to licensed radio operations and to comply with federal rules and regulations related to radio frequency devices.”  The Bureau released a Citation and Order on January 9, to Lithia Toyota of Grand Forks.  The case stems from interference to a nearby Verizon Wireless site that has been emanating from the dealership’s outdoor lighting.  A March 2017 visit by an FCC field agent confirmed that the interference was coming from the dealership’s portal lighting, which employed Philips model QL55W/840 induction lighting devices.  (ARRL story)




Michigan State Parks On The Air: Starting April 1, 2017, Michigan hams embarked on the most ambitious on-the-air project ever, the Michigan State Parks on the Air (MSPOTA).  Previous State Park activations on the air around the country have focused on a single weekend.  The Michigan State Parks system as a whole will be 100 years old in 2019.  Some of our parks actually began operation in 1917.  Hence, the celebration began in 2017 and continues through 2019.  That is three years of State Parks on the Air!  Lots of time for activators and chasers alike!  This event includes 117 MDNR Parks & Recreation sites including State Parks, Recreation Areas, Scenic Sites and State Trails rotated over the 3 years.  That adds up to about 50 parks across the state active in each event year.  (More info at MSPOTA website)


ARRL International Grid Chase: A new and exciting operating event kicked off on January 1, when the ARRL International Grid Chase got under way.  The objective is to work stations on any band (except 60 meters) in as many different Maidenhead grid squares as possible, and then upload your log data to ARRL’s Logbook of The World (LoTW).  Registration is free, and it costs nothing to use LoTW.  (ARRL story)  (Grid Square Calculator)


NASA On The Air Event: The Amateur Radio clubs at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers around the US have invited the Amateur Radio community to join the NASA On The Air (NOTA) special event.  NOTA started in December 2017 and continues through December 2018.  In addition to being the agency’s 60th anniversary, 2018 will mark 50 years since NASA orbited the first human around the moon, and 20 years since the first elements of the International Space Station (ISS) were launched into low-Earth orbit.  (ARRL story)


Rave Alert and Smart911: Hillsdale County Emergency Management (HCEM) recently announced that the county has contracted with RAVE Mobile Safety to provide two new products to better serve citizens.  Rave Alert provides officials the ability to quickly deliver urgent messages, including severe weather information, to targeted areas or the entire county.  Rave Alert replaces CodeRED, which the county has been using for a few years.  CodeRED will continue to automatically send tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings until June but will no longer be used by the county for special notifications starting soon after the first of the year.  Register for Rave Alert to continue receiving notifications.  Smart911 allows you to create a safety profile for your household that will be sent to 911 dispatchers when you dial 9-1-1.  Visit the County of Hillsdale website and click on the About Emergency Notifications link on the right side for more information and to sign up.  HCEM obtained a grant to pay for these services so there is no charge to citizens who choose to use it.  Any questions please call HCEM at 517-437-7384.


NWS Severe Weather Spotter Training Opportunities: The National Weather Service Northern Indiana Office has posted the schedule for severe weather spotter training opportunities.  Click here for a complete schedule of training for the, including registration links.  Training will not be offered in Hillsdale County in 2018.



Upcoming Events

February 3 – Board Meeting

February 10 – Ham Breakfast

February 17 – Club Meeting

February 18 – Livonia ARC's 47th Annual Swap & Shop

March 10 – Ham Breakfast

March 17 – Michigan Crossroads Hamfest

March 18 – Toledo Mobile Radio Association Hamfest & Computer Fair



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