Monthly Archives: February 2007

For Those Who Serve – ARMAD 2007

“ARMAD- 2007” is MAY 26, 2007

0900 – 1200 noon (Central Time)



ARMAD is an annual Amateur Radio Special Event project that stands for Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day.  We work with National Military Appreciation Month during the month of May.  We also provide other events and work with other groups as requested during the year.  Amateur Radio Operators from around the world team up during this joint effort to allow the people from our communities to gather at public locations such as shopping centers, parks, VA hospitals, and sporting events to express verbal positive support “LIVE” over two way radio for members of the Military, Veterans, Reserves, National Guard, Retired, Coalition Forces, and military support groups.  Many of us have friends, relatives, and neighbors that are active duty, and past members of the armed forces.  ARMAD gives us the chance to support one another, and to express our thanks and appreciation to those that sacrifice and serve in the Armed Forces.   

You can touch base with ARMAD at the ARMAD Website

I’ve had the pleasure of working Emery KB9IBW and you can find him at  KB9IBW on

Emery W McClendon (KB9IBW) on February 26, 2007

Hello All:

ARMAD 2007 is fast approaching!

Our Troops, Military Retired, and Veterans need the support of the people back home in our communities. We have a unique opportunity using Amateur Radio to let them hear positive messages of support and thanks.

On March 13, 2007 KB9IBW / Emery will be a guest on the “United We Roll” Radio Show on AM 1690 in Riverside Iowa. The show is also heard on Stardust Radio at The show airs from 4 P.M. – 6 P.M. EST and 3 P.M. – 5 P.M. CST.

The toll free call in number is 1-877-213-4329 if you want to ask a question or comment live on the air. Let’s promote Amateur Radio, while supporting our Military Members.

Also, ARMAD has received two Proclamations to date for our 2007 Event which will be held on the air May 26, 2007. You may view these and two from the past at

Feel free also to post your ARMAD news and Proclamations on the ARMAD “BLOG” web page.

If you have questions or comments as to how we can improve ARMAD please contact us. Thank you very much.

Let’s “Ham It Up For The Troops”.


This one is worth your attention and participation!




Winter Wonderland – Antennas in the Snow

Wisconsin is always a great place to be in Winter.  Ice-fishing, including Sturgeon Spearing for those so inclined, cross country skiing, sledding, snowmobiles,  snowshoeing, fires in fireplaces… all the great stuff that makes winter fun!

 With it does come some struggles, everything is frozen, you might need to plug in your vehicle, things break from cold, and of course antenna work is pretty rotten.

 This weekend we had a good run of snow, sleet, freezing rain and “winter mix,” which is what the weatherman calls combinations of all of the above.  Only about 13 inches (33cm) of overall snow, but the heavy stuff.  Then we received about 3/4 inches (2cm) of ice and another 2 inches (5cm) of fluffy snow.

Sustained 30+ mph (50+ kph) winds for nearly 24 hours drifted the snow to waist height in places, and the snow plows left chest high plow drifts.

 I was VERY pleased how well the Tennadyne T-8 Antenna (lower 20/17/15/12/10m), T-28 Classic (6m to 1.3gHz) and W9INN Sloper held up.

The angle wasn’t noticed while shooting the pictures, as I was standing in a snow drift.  The sloper is pictured better in this second shot.  It is a W9INN 20/80/160m version that has been an excellent performer.

Antennas received the same treatment as these branches.

 You can see from one of our sons having his jacket open that temperatures are very mild.   They were a great help in cleaning up, with a combined effort reducing the overall snow clearing to just a couple hours of work for each of us.

 Later I may walk through the drifts to see if I can get a good shot of the GAP Titan and the long-wire antennas.

It is a Winter Wonderland!



Skeletons in the Closet? Make Them Dance for You – Strategies for Dealing with Background Checks

“If you have skeletons in the closet……you may as well make them dance.”
— George Bernard Shaw as quoted by Rachael Manija Brown in “All the Fishes Come Home to Roost”

There is a lot of noise about background checks for Radio Amateurs who volunteer to help in time of disaster.

Foremost in the crosshairs has been the Red Cross, who has demanded ARES Volunteers sign a comprehensive waiver & authorization for the Red Cross to conduct background checks. Interestingly the Red Cross has said it doesn’t need the full range of authorizations as it only reserves the right to conduct in-depth checks, such as credit checks. The Red Cross statement to the ARRL can be found here: Red Cross-Laura Howe – Statement to the ARRL in pdf form.

Repeatedly the Red Cross has said they really don’t need, nor intend to use, the wide authorization & releases they are asking ARES volunteers to sign before they can be assigned to serve the Red Cross.

The ARRL official response is at: ARRL Statement on Red Cross Background Checks but can be summed up in:

The Red Cross has stated that they will not use credit reports. Requiring that volunteers authorize
the procurement of a credit report is inconsistent with this assurance.

Having spent several years on the investigating side of background checks, some observations are:

  • Any document you sign could be considered a form of contract.
  • You have the right to modify your end of contract. Of course the other side has the right to refuse the contract after modification, but you can negotiate.
  • Consider Limiting Authority to what is needed – strike out any clauses or parts you object to.
  • Think about Limiting the Time Duration your authorization is in force – you can add that it has to be re-signed annually, or that if not it is null & void.
  • You can demand a full copy of information collected about you, unless you sign away those rights. Think about requesting, as a condition of continued authorization, a full copy of your file.
  • If you have anything troublesome, that you are not required by law to disclose, look into Expunging those Records. Certain types of records can be removed.
  • If there is something in your past that is now “fixed” but by law will remain public record, Come Clean & tell them about it.
  • Consider amending the document to add your “fine print” possibly to limit how they can use the collected data, what happens to the data if you cease to be a volunteer, your expectations as to how they will protect your data & identity.
  • Remember when you modify a contract, the other party has the right to refuse to agree the changes.

    But also remember this is NOT a commercial transaction, and that you are offing to volunteer – to provide your services – for free.

    If they refuse to accept reasonable modification – the claim that “this is standard, like it or lump it” posturing happens, you have to consider whether it is worth volunteering under the requested conditions.

    My take is if they value you so little as a volunteer, at that point I would tend to offer my time elsewhere.

    Personally I have refused checks & even testing until a document FAIR to both sides, and one that protected my rights, was negotiated.

    Not that I had anything to hide, but rather that the document I was presumed to be willing to sign waived my privacy and rights of recourse if their errors (such as chain of custody, or privacy) caused me harm.

    It wasn’t a matter of putting principle before practicality, but it was being a responsible citizen, including being responsible to myself & family by protecting our interests.

    You can do this too, if you stick to your guns.

    Also if the volunteer position is important to you but involves signing releases that make you uncomfortable, consider taking legal advice – this article is not a substitute for legal review of a specific situation. It is your rights at stake. Think hard and get advice.

    We need never give up our citizen rights just because an NGO requests we do.

    Good Luck



    Blinked on Topband – Stumbling on the 2007 CQ World Wide 160-Meter SSB Contest

    Really didn’t twig on this one, despite all the announcements. Perhaps the reason was that any ability to effectively work 160 meter from the shack is new – only weeks old.

    After Friday’s events & chores a quick check of the bands found 160m simply hopping with 100’s of stations calling CQ Contest!!

    What was this – wow!

    Turns out this weekend is the SSB (Single Side Band – or Voice) portion of the 2007 CQ World-Wide 160m Contest, and I had stumbled onto the event.

    CQ Magazine Logo

    Rules are simple, and are linked off the contest main page: CQ Magazine 160 Meter SSB Contest Webpage

    Hoping to get back at the contest after clearing tasks at hand, but in my brief “blink” of contesting for an hour I was easily able to make about 50 contacts on Topband.

    Update Between things I was able to grab some more on-air time, and now tally about 95 contacts. If I can get snowblowing down before the contest ends I’ll see if I can add another batch. The static crashed from our snowstorm were running 20 over, and those who hang in for the full run of a contest during this level of noise had my respect.

    Looks like great fun, and as my simple sloper antenna works for this style of contest I will try to be ready for the next run!

    Hope to see you on the bands!



    Going Armed during Radio Emcomm Activations – Cowboy or Wiseman?



    Typical 45 Pistol

    A quick look through most Emcomm (Emergency Communication) MOA/MOU (Memorandum of Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding) with served agencies didn’t find an answer to a question a group of Radio Amateurs on-line were recently discussing.

    Is it the done thing to go armed when responding to an Emcomm call out?

    Reviews of the on-line MOA/MOU didn’t discern a documented official stance – actually no mention of Firearms, Mace, Weapons or Self-Defense could be found. The issue simply is never addressed.

    The decision to go armed or not is not just personal security against violence issue, but displaced hungry/diseased aminals could well be an issue.

    Though unless duely authorized by the government, an Emcomm volunteer may NOT be a law enforcement person legally. This can affect your options for self-defense choices.

    Usually though a Served Agency expects that an Emcomm responder will be able to take care of themselves.

    In other words, the served agency expects that Emcomm (ARES / RACES / Skywarn / REACT and so on) volunteers will not by design knowningly become additional victims during the call out.

    If you are a dual-hat – such as a dual ARES/RACES & Red Cross volunteer, you may have compromised your self-defense options by the agreement with the secondary “convience membership.”

    Shotgun & Military Grade gear may suit some situations.

    A Hunting Rifle alone may suit other situations.

    An easy to carry rifle might be considered a MUST in some remote areas.

    The exact type of personal protection a situation calls for will greatly vary with the type of call out, the ability of the volunteer and the foreseeable needs.

    Where an urban situation where an Emcomm volunteer is being assigned to a stable community with the maximum foreseeable risk being problems with stray dogs and displaced vermin, a personal MACE or teargas dispenser may be more than enough.

    For a responder who will be dealing with a remote area of woodland, perhaps as part of a search & rescue, where the wildlife includes significant dangers (Wolves & Bears) something serious in the way of a rifle may be considered a bare minimum of protection.

    The pros & cons will be covered in a future article here at “With Varying Frequency – Amateur Radio Ponderings”

    Whether to go Armed or Unarmed is a Personal Decision no matter what Emcomm Leaders say, specially if there is no mention in the operating MOA/MOU or SOPs. It is YOUR life as a volunteer on the line.73


    What are you going to Learn Today? – Amateur Radio with the Right Attitude

     How did you start your day today? 


    So many of us, whether on the Radio, or just in life as general, sell ourselves short as to what we can learn today.  We can have the same day, same opportunities, same experiences, and end up with one day calling them drudgery and the next calling them opportunities!

    Amateur Radio with the right attitude makes mere experiences into Adventures!

    I know an amateur who a couple years back received an OO Notice – an Official Observer Notice that he had operated out of band.  Seduced by a 6Y (Jamaican) station operating Single Side Band Phone outside of the SSB allocation this amateur tuned in and had a short QSO with the 6Y station.  He never realized it at the time (or so they’ve told me) but when the OO noticed arrived a check of the logs confirmed the error.

    Sample ARRL OO Notice - hope you never get one!

    What for many of us would have been a big downer, the receipt of an official chastisement for messing up, was turned around by attitude.  This Amateur contacted the OO, confirmed he had erred and after discussion learned that he was one of dozens of stations that had made the same error that contest weekend. 

    With encouraging words from the OO the amateur explored why the goof, and gained a complete understanding of what went on, why and how to prevent it again.

    Further the Amateur took initiative and decided that this minor lesson should be an inspiration to learn the rules, completed an upgrade to Amateur Extra, and placed in the top handful in the next contest they operated in.

    For them it was all about attitude.  Their error was humbly admitted and used as motivation to “get with it” and advance.

    I’m told that the amateur keeps the OO Warning Card as the first card in their QSL Card collection, as a reminder that you are never too old, too wise or too experienced to learn more!

    What are you going to learn today?  Are you into Amateur Radio with the “right attitude”?