Do radio stuff. Have fun doing it.
Tell others how much fun it is.
Do radio stuff. Have fun doing it.
Tell others how much fun it is.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., December 17, 2012 – Amateur radio and “The Noise Blankers Radio Group” (www.noiseblankers.com) provided event communications for Wreaths Across America at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fayetteville, Ark. [View photo gallery]
Wreaths Across America is a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and placing memorial wreaths on headstones of U.S. veterans interred worldwide in U.S. National cemeteries.
“We managed traffic flow, disabled participant parking and shuttle bus coordination between a parking facility at the University of Arkansas and the U.S. National Cemetery,” says Kevin Thornton, K5KVN.
Encroaching residential and commercial development resulted in a dramatic reduction in available on-site parking for this year’s event. Organizers opted to run six shuttle buses from Baum Stadium to the cemetery.
“It was a record turnout with approximately 2,100 volunteers placing 7,200 memorial wreaths this year in Fayetteville”, says Andy Holmes, K5PO. “It was an outstanding way to honor our veterans.”
Gary Darnell, WB0RUR, added “The team staffed the only two vehicle entry points into the cemetery area. We got the support team in to execute the event – including U.S. Representative Steve Womack (3rd District, Arkansas) and we coordinated the safe transportation of hundreds of volunteers and spectators. Not to mention managing an 80-foot over-the-road tractor trailer and 100 motorcycles driven by the Patriot Guard.”
The Noise Blankers communicated via simplex (146.535 MHz) VHF radio. Jeff, K3DEI, was at Baum Stadium parking lot providing event assistance at that location.
The Noise Blankers activated special event call sign N5W on the amateur bands to raise awareness and appreciate our US Veterans. Fred, WD5DKA, participated in operation of the special event and worked “a bunch of people.”
About the Noise Blankers: The Noise Blankers are a group of rebel radio operators based in northwest Arkansas. The membership roll is tightly held secret. The next planned event by the group is to provide communications for the end of the world on December 21, 2012. They will be operating simplex.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the system issues with Logbook of the World.
The Noise Blankers membership thinks LOTW is a fantastic tool, but obviously limited in its current state. We know the ARRL staff are working diligently to bring LOTW up to speed.
We put on our thinking caps and came up with a few ideas:
Gary, WBØRUR, found someone willing to help:
On a serious note, the Noise Blankers have always advocated LOTW as the best QSL system available. Paperless, fast, secure, and more affordable than postage-- it’s a great asset to the community. The LOTW and its present system have served us well for many years. LOTW adoption rates have seen very positive growth, but have ultimately begun to tax the system, leading to sluggish processing times and system reliability concerns.
Today the ARRL released a new LOTW status page (http://www.arrl.org/logbook-queue-status). This is a great move to provide transparency to the community around processing times. The next step is to lay out a plan for a new, top-class solution that will benefit members for years to come. It’s time to give it the resources appropriate for the world-standard QSL system.
But a plan needs funds, of course! We encourage the ARRL create a fund for the specific purpose of delivering the next-generation LOTW to the world of amateur radio. Make it easy to see donation progress add up to the goal. Amateurs could rally around it and see their money go directly to something that is a great asset for those in the hobby that seek the thrill of confirming a rare DX contact or getting a QSL for that last state needed for their WAS award!
The Noise Blankers Radio Group would be happy to donate $20 per member to such a fund if it existed. Wouldn’t you?
By: Kevin K5KVN
[UPDATE March 2013: Senator Teague has indicated that due to his busy schedule and other priorities in the legislative session, he will not file the license plate redesign bill. We will get this done next session! This will bring an actual design to the plate, at a much cheaper price longterm.]
Please share this page with as many Arkansas amateur radio operators as possible, email the link, talk about it at your club meetings. We need to determine interest in this, so please let me know what you think in the comments below.
A little more than a year ago, I thought, "What if we could spruce up the Arkansas amateur radio license plate?" Give it a fresh design, get some press out of it, generate some excitement among hams in the state, do a special event. Several other states have recently revamped their amateur radio license plates.
I'm a public relations professional and passionate about promoting the ham radio hobby. So, I see the license plates as many things:
- Identifies us to other amateur radio operators on the road
- Promotes the hobby to other drivers
- Identifies us to emergency officials on scene when we are asked to help with communications
- A unique badge of pride for ham radio operators
In Arkansas, we enjoy a very low cost for the privilege of these license plates. We pay a $2 yearly fee, in addition to the normal license plate registration fees. Strangely, despite this low cost, only 1,353 amateur radio license plates are on Arkansas roads today. (Source: Department of Finance and Administration email)
So, back to the idea... what if we could do this for the same cost or at least without an unreasonable cost increase?
It turns out, we CAN. After more than a year of research, emails to officials inside the Department of Finance and Administration and conversations with Senator Larry Teague (who is an amateur radio operator), the following was determined:
- This would only affect newly issued plates. Plates currently on a vehicle would not need to immediately be changed out.
- Cost to get the new license plate would be a one-time setup fee of $10. UPDATE: Senator Teague believes this can be a $5 one-time fee.
- The $2 annual fee for newly issued plates would be eliminated.
- A new design would require legislation. Yes, literally, an act of state Congress!
- The legislation would describe the design, and a mock-up of the design would be provided to the Department of Finance and Administration, who may tweak the design so that it meets the proper letter size, reflectivity, readability, etc.
- Those individuals who want to keep their license plate may do so and continue to pay the $2 annual fee.
- The new legislation could include language recognizing the volunteer contributions made by amateur radio operators to their communities.
I don't think there is anything wrong with our current design, but it could be better. What we have today is not a design at all; it's a callsign on the same background that everyone else gets, with the words "Amateur Radio" at the bottom.
It looks like this:
But what if it could look like this:
Here are some ideas I had, along with some that have been submitted to me (send me design ideas at email@example.com). Click to make the slideshow pause.
Any design will have to meet current statutes for the size of the letters and words, reflectivity, readability, etc. It would need to accomodate 2x3 callsigns. Any design would likely be slightly tweaked by the Department of Finance and Administration to make it "legal."
- This proposal will lower the cost of the license plates over the long term.
- The new legislation could include language that recognizes the contributions of amateur radio operators to their communities.
- A new design could generate excitement among the state's hams.
- A new license plate is a great news hook. We would generate some unique, positive press for the hobby.
What do you think?
Should this be done? Let me know in the comments below. We need to hear from as many Arkansas amateur radio operators as possible. Got a design idea? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even more info, if you're interested:
- There are 8,226 active amateur radio licenses in Arkansas (Source: FCC Universal License System)
- Read the current amateur radio license plate legislation [PDF] (page 94)